Meet Doreen Martel, accidental Freelancer

I make no bones about our next interview subject being one of my favorites. Doreen Martel, a freelance writer of 2 ½ years' standing, has been a great help to me as I've made the transition from Internet ghostwriter to a freelancer. So it's my pleasure to help Doreen share her insights and experience on the Paying Hobby blog.

Doreen started freelance writing at the age of fifty, after the end of a long term relationship, redundancy and health issues conspired against her. You can read her account, of how she became a freelance writer on her 'About me' page on the Freelancing and More blog.

Doreen uses her freelance writing experience to raise money for charities, as well. She recently donated the proceeds from several articles to Haiti relief charities, and on her Facebook Fan Page, she gives away a $25 Kiva Gift Certificate each month “to encourage micro-lending.”

As well as running the Freelancing and More blog, Doreen, from Medway, Massachusetts, also runs a sister blog at, which focuses on “purely helpful hints for freelance writers.”

Doreen came to freelance writing after taking an online course “for people with disabilities to work through the challenges of working.” She soon picked up her paid work, and realized she could make money from writing, “when I was hired by the first paying person (through Craigslist) and was paid $10 an hour for 10 hours a week! I was thrilled!”

“I actively pursued it.” she says, and, “ That's all I do now. Writing is not exactly a hobby for me, but it's as close as I have to one.”

Although she initially thought writing would just be a hobby, her new career took off so fast that she quickly went full time, and now makes a solid $1500+ every month.

What are her goals for the next six months? “Six months from now I'd like to have mastered my Dragon Software! I have all the clients I need so I want to continue to develop those relationships. I also want to improve my writing and get out of my comfort zone (I.E. careers/finance) and find other topics to write about.” In two years, she adds, she would like to, “have sufficient sources of passive income that will allow me to curb my daily writing due to the problem with my eyes!”

And what is Doreen's advice to those just starting out in a freelance writing career?

“My advice is that everyone should read everything possible available from people who have 'been there done that'. There are a lot of pitfalls associated with freelancing, and it's better to know them up front.”

One of the many pitfalls Doreen likes to warn people about is unreasonable clients with horrendous expectations. As freelancers, we all encounter these in the early days (mine was a friend-of-a-friend local radio DJ running a music related web site as a sideline back in the days before blogging – I'll tell you all about that sometime) but I'll let Doreen tell you about her first freelance nightmare in her own words:

One of my first freelance assignments which I took to develop a reputation was a gentleman (and I use that term VERY loosely) in CA. He was looking for a simple data entry person and since I was just getting started I figured why not - the pay was HORRIBLE ($5 per hour) but I felt that I needed to do this to establish myself.
He use to insist on my having chat on all the time that I was 'working' for him. He would exercise, eat, and do other things while barking out orders. One of the tasks that I was asked to do was to put ads for him on Craigslist for a "housekeeper" -- that was ok until he started asking me to screen them via phone (with him listening) and offering them $18 per hour (to clean his dirty socks).
Then he started to ask me to do a lot of other tasks that were "above my pay grade" shall we say and demanding more hours from me. I advised him that I would not do this type of work for that rate of pay especially with his offer to pay $18 for a maid. He advised me that "you are lucky you are working at all and even luckier you are working at home". I could replace you with 10 people who would work cheaper - I suggested that he should do that and that ended that assignment! I did get feedback and fortunately I never had to put up with such a jerk again!

Doreen is one of the most generous and helpful freelancers I have had the pleasure to come across, and between her Freelancing and More Blogs, (.com and .biz) her two Helium zones How to work online with no start up fees - Legitimate and Free and How to successfully work from home she covers many of the pitfalls she refers to.

Check out Doreen's Helium Profile, or follow her on twitter @DoreenMartel and don't forget to subscribe to both the .com and .biz versions of Freelancing and More. Also sign up as a fan on her Facebook Fan Page for your chance to win that $25 Kiva Gift Certificate.

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