Farewell to My Yahoo! Blog

When I started the “Working the New Economy” blog in April, I knew it had an expiration date. I signed a short-term contract. I referred to myself as a guest blogger on Yahoo! Even the title, suggested that this was a project of limited duration. After all, how long could this “new economy” last?

Now that it’s time to wrap up, it’s pretty clear that the new economy has become the new normal. And I can’t say that I have figured out exactly how to work it. Unemployment has now topped 10%. Counting those who are underemployed, it’s closer to 20%. Mass layoffs are still happening, including a round at BusinessWeek last week where several of my most respected colleagues were shown the door.

One defining feature of this not-so-new-anymore economy is that we will all need to flexible and nimble. I’ve worked independently for nearly a decade. And now it seems that my usual mix of contract work, freelance relationships, consulting and other kinds of affiliations has become standard in what Tina Brown so aptly dubbed the gig economy.

Getting the timing right while moving from gig to gig can be challenging. Between consulting projects, gigs, or temporary assignments, there are often long gaps with no work and times of too much of it. Which is why I’d like the bickering in Washington to include some discussion of providing health care for the self-employed. (Great analysis of this issue by Zeba Kahn here.) But I’m getting off track. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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How to break into freelancing

I can’t go a day without talking to someone about how to get started as a freelancer, consultant or entrepreneur. Some folks are going solo by necessity; others are betting on themselves over employers in a market where jobs are no more stable than gigs. I spent the weekend with my cousin and her fiance who had both been laid off from jobs in adventure travel. We brainstormed about how they could build careers as entrepreneurs or consultants.

A few days later I had lunch with a colleague who is in the midst of a negotiation with her boss about moving from employee to consultant because she thinks she’d have more opportunities if she diversified her client base rather than remain at one company.

Those conversations came in handy this morning when I was interviewed by Tory Johnson on how to break into freelancing for a video series promoting her new book, Fired to Hired, which will be published in early August.

Here’s a summary of our chat:

Dip into freelancing while keeping your job. Start by quietly spreading the word that you are available for projects and taking on assignments that don’t present a conflict with your current job. The goal is to test the waters to see whether your services are in demand and to have at least one or two clients lined up once you’re completely out on your own.

{Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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A career in transition: 5 questions for Gina Trapani

I’ve been thinking a lot about time management and productivity lately, so I decided to check in with Gina Trapani, who is best known as the founder of the blog Lifehacker, and the author of the book “Upgrade Your Life,” an indispensable guide to how to work smarter in the digital age. When I last interviewed Trapani, she was still editing Lifehacker, which is owned by Gawker Media. She left that position in January. These days she divides her time between computer programming, writing for her personal blog, Smarterware, and freelance writing for a variety of publications.

We chatted via phone and email about going through transitions and forging a new path away from a brand you’ve been closely identified with. The following is a condensed version of our conversations.

So how does it feel to be just Gina Trapani after four years of being Gina Trapani, editor of Lifehacker, one of the most powerful blogs in the world?

Lifehacker is this great brand, packaged really nicely and my name was tied very closely with it. Now that I’m not there, I’m not a brand anymore. I’m human, and I don’t know if I want to create another thing that sums me up in a sentence. I’m kind of enjoying not having that one thing right now. Eventually I’ll find another new singular focus I want to stay with long term. {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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The Secrets of Smart Freelancers: 5 Questions for Michelle Goodman

<The freelance marketplace is a cauldron of activity. Those of us who have been at it for years are finding work from the very employers who have been showing employees the door. And many of those exiting employees are realizing that it’s about time to acquire some freelancing skills — whether for short-term survival or long-term livelihood.

When it comes to dispensing smart advice about freelancing, there is no greater guide than Michelle Goodman, author of the books, The “Anti 9-to-5 Guide” and “My So-Called Freelance Life.” Not only does Goodman have the answers to the most vexing questions about freelancing, she is also a vocal advocate for the rights of freelancers, and for reminding independent workers to speak up for ourselves. Below is Goodman’s wisdom on how to survive and thrive as a freelancer today.

Marci: Freelancing must be more competitive than ever with all the formerly employed folks now in the game — is there enough to go around? {Read the rest at Yahoo!}

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A Time for Bartering, and Winter Colds

My yoga instructor just canceled a private yoga session we had planned for tomorrow. I was so looking forward to starting my yoga program, especially because we had crafted an experiment perfect for tough times. She wants to work on her writing. I want to work on my yoga. So we’re bartering services — private writing classes for private yoga sessions — something ideally suited to freelancers with a marketable skill, and even for small businesses thinking creatively in tough times

But my yoga instructor was feeling sick, and she wrote me a sweet note telling me she didn’t want to infect me. So despite my disappointment, I thanked her. And then I sent her this post, “Feeling Sick? Stay Home,” which I wrote last winter in the thick of the season when large numbers of people were spreading around their germs by going to work and meetings when they should be staying home.  

So as the current environment continues — with unpredictable weather and turmoil in the economy — think about ways you can barter, and whether you can avoid meeting with other people when you’re sick.

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Slashing By Necessity

This morning, the public radio show, The Takeaway, invited me to come on to talk about underemployment. {Listen here.} Specifically, they wanted some advice for the growing number of people who are working part-time but would prefer to be working full time, and for people who are working in jobs for which they are overqualified.

As background, the producers sent me this interesting article from Slate.com by Daniel Gross. According to the article, though the unemployment rate might not be as low as it was, say, in 2003, those numbers might not tell the whole story since neither the unemployment rate nor the payroll jobs figures captures “people who work part-time because they can’t find — or their employer can’t provide — full-time work” or “people who have left the work force entirely.”
Read more »

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Drawing Your Own Map to Working From Home

An interview with Tory Johnson, the chief executive of the New York recruiting services firm Women for Hire , about managing home-based work.

Read the full column here.

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Interning in the Blogger’s Home Office

A guest post from Sara Jane Berman, a high school student who spent part of her summer interning for Marci Alboher on the Shifting Careers blog.

When the Assistant Is an Entrepreneur

Increasingly, administrative assistants are becoming as entrepreneurial as their bosses.

Journalistic Entrepreneurs, a New Model

A trade association teleconference focuses on the ins and outs of life as a journalistic entrepreneur.

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