There are some people in the freelance writing community you simply must get to know. Jake Poinier is one of those people.
I’m not sure where or when I bumped into Jake in the online world, but thanks to his congenial personality, we became friends. He’s one of the few writers I’ve met in person, and I can say he’s just as congenial in person as he is online.
A corporate wonk who’s built an amazing freelance writing business, Jake is a great source of info on freelancing — when Doctor Freelance is in, you’re all but cured.
Friends, meet my friend Jake Poinier.
Q: How long have you been
Jake: I did my first freelance job when I
was just a lowly assistant editor at a trade magazine–a short piece in the
Bottom Line Personal newsletter–and I continued to do occasional copywriting
for ad agencies and other publications during my entire magazine career. I went
full time in 1999, after quitting my job at a custom-magazine publishing
company. Best decision I ever made.
question to answer! I call myself an omnivore, and what I like best about
freelancing is the variety: short ad copy, long white papers, websites, video
scripts, editing books, project management. Similarly, I enjoy working with and
learning from clients in all sorts of industries. The only thing I won’t do is
years of freelancing?
pressure on me, since I was the only income for my family. (In retrospect, that
was a benefit, because it created incredible focus!) I’d saved a lot of money
at my job, knowing that I was going to quit, but didn’t want to dip into the
emergency fund. I had a few immediate clients from the side jobs I’d done, and
parlayed those into additional clients. Early 2001, though, was rough. The red-hot
economy of my first two years had cooled off, and budgets dried up. I felt like
the Maytag repairman waiting for the phone to ring. Lucky for me, I stumbled
across Peter Bowerman’s “The Well-Fed Writer.” His business-oriented philosophy aligned with mine, and the 400-odd cold calls
I made using his suggestions paid immediate and lasting dividends.
put a positive spin on it, though, it proved that I could survive.
– the event or circumstance that shifted your perspective or had you
changing the way you do things?
big one. Although I had edited and ghostwritten numerous books for other
people, it’s a whole ‘nother deal when you’re responsible for the business logistics.
I’m still learning–so I have new a-ha moments every week.
freelance writers one thing to help them build a better business, what
would that be?
that: Think of freelancing as a business, not simply a string of ongoing
writing assignments. On a one-specific-thing level, I’d recommend what I called
creating a team of “Super Friends” in a post last fall. I learned early in my magazine career that I could derive
major benefits from relationships with skilled graphic designers, production
staff, and salespeople. If you tried to operate in a silo, as if the words were
the only things that mattered, you were limiting your understanding of the
business and your career opportunities. It’s good to have a network of other
writers and editors, but my business wouldn’t exist without complementary