• Ana Gascon Ivey

Discover how Lisa Haiss turned her dream job into reality

Lisa Haiss started her career as a copy editor/page designer at a small West Texas newspaper. She worked in newspapers for 12 years before taking on an editor role at an ad agency. But her first paid freelance gig was copy editing self-help books for a small New York publisher.

She now lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she runs her own company, Intrepid Editing. She says of her freelance work, "My days are never boring." Learn how she's living her dream job in this Q&A:

Freelancer Lisa Haiss loves what she does for a living.

giggs: What does a typical work day look like?

Lisa: I get up in the morning and make coffee and watch the Today show with my husband till he leaves for work. Sometimes I work later in the evening, so we get to have some time together every day. I’m typically in front of the computer from 9 to 5, with some breaks, obviously (like right now). Usually, I get about 4 to 5 billable hours in. I use Trello to keep my clients and their projects organized, and I edit work from 3 to 5 clients every day. 

giggs: What's the worst business advice someone has given you as a freelancer?

Lisa: Spend time working outside your home. It just didn’t work for me because it’s far easier to work with words in silence. 

giggs: Share 5 tips for freelancers who are just starting out.

Lisa: 1. Don’t undervalue your services. If you’re good, people will pay. 2. Never underestimate the power of a referral. Most of my business is referrals. 3. Invest in yourself. A great website is a necessary tool for today’s freelancing. If you’re not online, you don’t exist. (Check out Lisa's website.) 4. You’re going to feel overwhelmed at some point. Ask for help, even if it’s just finding out what other freelancers use to budget their time. 5. Network! Facebook groups and other social media can help you find new clients, and the people in those groups are a great support system.

giggs: How did you come up with your pricing structure?

Lisa: Lots of research. I googled other editors to see what they were making and how they were charging (by word, by hour, retainers, etc.), and then my website copywriter gave me more suggestions. 

giggs: What are the keys to success when working remotely with clients?

Lisa: Communication and a style guide. I need to get all the facts straight before I dive deep into a project, whether that means I need to create a style guide from scratch or the client has a very specific one I need to follow. The last thing I want to do is turn in something that is not at all what the client wanted, so there might be several emails back and forth before I even get started.

giggs: How do you deal with unhappy clients?

Lisa: It depends on why they’re unhappy. If it’s something I did, I want to know, and I’ll make amends. If it’s something I have no control over, I’ll suggest alternative solutions, even if that means losing that client. There’s no reason for us both to be unhappy.

giggs: Anything you’d like to add?

Lisa: Getting laid off from my full-time job of seven years was one of the best things to happen to me. It gave me the final push to giving full-time freelance a shot. It’s working out great so far, and I’ve been full-time freelance for two years now.

Thanks for your insights, Lisa! Connect with Lisa on LinkedIn