The Writers' Co-op is a great new podcast about how to make your freelance writing career work

I've worked with Jenni Gritters at several media companies now, including Upworthy and Wirecutter, and I have no qualms saying that she is probably the best editor I've ever worked with. As such, I can't say I was surprised when I learned that she pulled in $120,000 in her first year as a full-time freelancer.

Jenni is certainly a hustler, but she's a gracious soul who's eager to share advice and help others to succeed as well (even if that means setting timers for me to indulge my weird ADHD research wormholes). So she and her friend/fellow freelancer Wudan Yan decided to start a podcast called The Writer's Co-Op, examining the ways they both got started in freelance journalism, as well as the trials and tribulations they've stumbled on along the way. They're also chock full of experience and advice about how to actually run your business, including planning for taxes, time management, and budgeting out how much money your actual time is worth (including all that paperwork and booking you forgot to factor in).

Here's how they describe it:

The idea for this podcast was born in the middle of the desert last fall when I (Wudan) pulled up to a rest stop in the middle of a long drive. In the months leading up to that moment, I had noticed more and more people reaching out to me for freelance help. And nearly all the questions that I was fielding were related to the business of freelancing: what terms to negotiate in a contract, how to get paid on time, how to demand late payment, and more.

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Gmail's "Smart Compose" feature is terrible at helping freelancers negotiate

I'm a musician. I'm Irish-American, and play Irish music (among other things). And I live in Boston. Naturally, St. Patrick's Day presents me with some potentially lucrative opportunities.

Unfortunately, Gmail is not a very good negotiator:

In case you can't quite tell what's going on in this screenshot: someone asked how much money I wanted in exchange for providing music. Google's "Smart Compose" feature recommended three possible responses I might want give — the first of which was "Free!"

For all the concerns that people might have about machines stealing our jobs, I certainly never expected them to try and trick me into giving my labor away for free as well.

According to Gmail, Smart Compose is "powered by machine learning and will offer suggestions as you type." While I don't typically use the responses that it recommends, the suggestions usually aren't that bad. I have occasionally found them helpful for quick, short responses. I even let Google try its personalization feature on me, which means it should be giving me suggestions that "are tailored to the way [I] normally write, to maintain [my] writing style." In other words, this machine learning mechanism should be based at least somewhat on the actual emails that I send.

But I can assure you: I have never received an email about money or a freelance job of any kind and then immediately replied with, "Free!" (For what it's worth, I have almost certainly answered with "What's your budget?")

Anyway, if you should find yourself in the Boston area on St. Read the rest

Horror stories from Vice freelancers

Vice, the media powerhouse said to be worth upwards of $5bn and "sloshing with cash" thanks to annual revenues in the $900m range, treats its freelancers badly, according to Columbia Journalism Review. Work goes unpaid, payment is late when it comes, assignments are rescinded, and freelancers seem generally expected to work like salaried staff, pitching in on tasks related to their work without further compensation. Read the rest