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Thursday, December 26, 2019

Freelance Numbers - Year 5

This is my fourth full year of freelancing, but since becoming a freelancer, I've also done adjunct (freelance) teaching, and taught full-time so I'm going to show salary with that included and without it. Just like the past few years, teaching took up a bunch of my pitching and writing time, but also gave me a steady paycheck that I could (mostly) earn from home. And I get to teach students about journalism and how to do it! For me, this step was worth it.

I want to add that when I started this money tracking, I was not making very much, and I liked being transparent to show other people the journey.

I'm five years in now, and I work 60 to 70 hours a week on writing and teaching. I don't feel comfortable sharing my income numbers anymore, and it's really strange because you'd assume it would be the opposite...that those making little wouldn't want to share, but those making a lot would want to show everyone.

I made a lot. And I feel gross sharing it. But it's not to brag. Remember, the first full year of this, I worked just as hard and made $23,000 (well, almost just as hard. My kids were 5, and they required a lot more care than they do now. Keep in mind where you are in life when you assess yourself and make your goals. Remember many other people have it much easier, due to timing, circumstance, situation, health, support, etc.)

That said, perhaps this will be the last year I do this. Especially if I make most of my money from teaching, because even though it's technically contract work, I can no longer consider it freelance.

This year, I made $94,591 total.

I made ~$76,000 of that from teaching.
Therefore, I made ~$19,000 writing this year. 

This is more money from teaching and less from writing than last year.

I want to give you a rundown of the totals for the last five years, just so you can see the trajectory.

2019: $94,600
2018: $77,900
2017: $65,600
2016: $48,000
2015: $23,000
2014: $6,000

My lowest income month was September at $4,430.
(Last year's lowest income month was February at $3,860)

My highest income month was February at $13,112
(Last year it was June at $10,660.)

On average I made $7,882 a month, which is $1,970 a week.
Last year I made $6,489 a month, which is $1,622 a week.

Remember, though, I still have to do my taxes on ~$20,000 of this.


We'll focus now on just the writing. To get that $19K, I published 21 pieces this year, which is down by half from the year before when I published 45. For scope, the year I freelanced only, I published 80. For important comparison, that year I made just under $24K, which means I'm being paid on average three times as much per piece now.

My highest number published in a month was October with 6 pieces published.
I had several months where I didn't publish anything, which is not great for a freelancer.

In terms of publications, I published in 16 different places, up from 12 last year, including websites, newspapers and magazines.

The most pieces I published for one place? 3 down from 7 last year, down from 15 the year before.

The lowest I wrote for was $50. 

The highest check for one piece I received this year was for $2,000--for a piece in a print women's magazine.

On average, I made $900 a piece this year, same as last year, up from $600 a piece last year, and $440 a piece the year before and $300 the year before that.


Let's talk pitches, rejections and acceptances. To publish my 21 pieces this year, I sent out 162 pitches this year. My acceptance rate this year was incredibly low. Why? Probably because I'm shooting for higher paid publications, and they are harder to crack. Usually I'm accepted a third of the time. This year, not even close.

I was rejected outright 59 times. 
I was accepted 37 times (some are still in edits, some were commissioned, and some were killed). 
I was ignored 66 times (which is a silent rejection, obviously).

So, my percentages work out like this:

Accepted: 23% of the time (same as last year)
Rejected: 36% of the time
Ignored: 41% of the time
Total Rejected: 77% of the time.

I was accepted 23 percent of the time, and rejected 77 percent of the time.

Keep trying! Keep going! We can do this, freelancers. It is possible.

Last year's complete numbers are here

2017 complete numbers are here.

2016 complete numbers are here.

2015 complete numbers are here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

8 Wonderful Water Recreational Activities for Your Family’s Summer

Summer is here, and that means hot weather and cool water activities! Whether you’re looking to enjoy the summer locally or you’re planning a trip away, water-based recreational activities provide excellent opportunities for fun, exercise, and a chance to cool off.
We’ve talked before about simple ways to have a healthier lifestyle, and the good news is that many of these activities are very fitness-promoting, and all of them will get you outside and having adventures!

1). Swimming

This is one of the most obvious things you can do in the water, but that’s for good reason: swimming is fun, requires no advanced equipment, is extremely refreshing, and is potentially one of the most fitness-promoting activities you can engage in.

Whether you’re enjoying a pool, a lake, or the ocean, swimming is a wonderful way to escape the heat and promote fitness at the same time. It’s also an excellent activity for the whole family, although you’ll want to make sure everyone practices water safety (and no doubt it goes without saying, but young children should wear life preservers).

2). Boating

You don’t have to own a boat or know someone who does to enjoy the wonders of boating: there are many waterways, including oceans, lakes, and rivers, where you can go on professional boating trips.
In fact, there are a variety of ways to enjoy boating: you can charter or rent a boat – by the hour, day, or month – which you operate yourself, or, more realistically for most of us, you can sign up for a ferry, join a group excursion, even board a fishing boat.

Boating is wonderful for many reasons: the adventure, the opportunity to experience a variety of different bodies of water, and the other experiences you can have while you boat. There are boating opportunities for fishing, whale watching, boat racing – sailboat racing is particularly popular on some bodies of water – and simply taking in the surroundings and enjoying the scenic beauty.

3). Jet skiing

Jet skiing involves watercraft, but is different enough from boating to warrant its own entry. Jet skiing is a tremendous amount of fun if you enjoy fast, high-powered watercraft and adventurous sporting experiences. This might be an ideal bonding activity with adventurous teens.

4). Water skiing

Water skiing is, as the name suggests, skiing on water. The water skier is towed at high speeds behind a high-powered watercraft and uses either two skis or a single ski to glide on the water.
Although water skiing may look intimidating and challenging for children, in fact it is surprisingly kid-friendly. Even young children can learn how to water ski if you, or an instructor, are willing to teach them.

5). Water polo

Water polo is essentially handball, but played in the water. A team sport, water polo is played by teams trying to get the ball over the net while preventing the rival team from doing the same thing.
You and your family can play water polo as an intense, competitive sport if that’s the way you like to play, or as a fun and friendly game. Most likely, you’ll play in a swimming pool, but it is possible to play water polo in lakes and yes, even in the ocean.

6). Surfing

Seriously, where would this list be without surfing? It’s one of the more iconic beachside activities, not to mention the basis for a surfing subculture.

The basic idea behind surfing is simple: take a surfboard and use it to ride the forward face of a wave, which will primarily carry you toward the shore.

This sport may seem counter-intuitive for children, but in fact it can be a wonderful experience for them. Learning to surf with kid-appropriate waves can help children to develop strength and balance while enjoying the outdoors and learning values of patience and self-confidence.  

7). Skimboarding

Skimboarding may look a lot like surfing, but the idea is subtly different: instead of swimming out to catch the waves, skimboarders start at the beach and ride the outgoing waves away from beach. They then catch the next wave back to the beach.

Skimboarding also makes use of a smaller board than surfing, meaning the equipment is slightly different.

As the description suggests, skimboarding may be easier and more accessible for children, not least because it does not require an ocean- or sea-sized body of water. Skimboarding can easily be done in lakes and rivers.

8). Paddle boarding

We’ve saved arguably the best for last. Paddle boarding, or more precisely stand up paddle boarding (SUP), is done by riding a board in the standing position and using a paddle to row.

Unlike surfing, you don’t need waves – in fact, you’re probably better off without them, especially early on (to learn more, go to This is because you’re supplying the power as you row.

Paddle boarding is a great workout, and probably even easier than surfing to start teaching to your children.


From swimming to boating to paddle boarding, there are a variety of wonderful water-based sports and recreational activities to help your family keep cool and have a blast this summer while staying safe. Enjoy the water!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

How to help the migrants and our country, right now



o   South Texas Human Rights Center

A community-based center, this humanitarian organization seeks to end death and suffering on the Texas-Mexico border. It engages in different community initiatives to attain this goal.

o   Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services is the largest provider of free and low cost immigration services in West Texas and says it’s the only organization in El Paso serving unaccompanied children.

o   Circle of Health International has staffed a clinic caring for refugees and asylum seekers immediately upon their their release. Their McAllen, Texas, clinic is currently seeing up to 100 patients a day.

o   The El Paso-based Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center provides legal representation to immigrants who might not be able to afford it otherwise. It’s accepting volunteers and donations.


o   RAICES The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families and refugees in Central and South Texas. RAICES is the largest immigration non-profit in Texas with offices in Austin, Corpus, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio.
o   Casa de Proyecto Libertad
Provides legal defense and advocacy for immigrant families in the Rio Grande Valley, supporting community organizing for immigrant human rights. The organization gives quality, low-cost legal services for immigrants, and is always looking for volunteers.

o   ProBAR (The South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project), based in Harlingen, Texas, provides free legal services to detained asylum-seekers. It recruits, trains, and coordinates the activities of volunteer lawyers, law students, and legal assistants. (It is a joint project of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Texas, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and is supported by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation.)

o   The Texas Civil Rights Project is seeking “volunteers who speak Spanish, Mam, Q’eqchi’ or K’iche’ and have paralegal or legal assistant experience.”



o   No More Deaths/No Más Muertes
A humanitarian organization based in southern Arizona, it works to end death and suffering in U.S.-Mexico borderlands. It encourages a humane immigrant policy and seeks for volunteers for its programs and services. Its website also provides up-to-date information about migrant deaths in the border; note that this is currently not available as the website is offline.

-       LEGAL

o   The Florence Project is an Arizona project offering free legal services to men, women, and unaccompanied children in immigration custody.


o   Coalición de Derechos Humanos
Grassroots organization that promotes human and civil rights of immigrants, fighting border militarization and migrant abuses. Derechos Humanos acts to influence public policy and opinion on immigration. Its bilingual website has useful resources for immigrants and advocates, such as 'Know Your Rights' cards, an abuse report hotline, and updated information on Arizona migrant deaths.



o   Ángeles del Desierto/The Desert Angels
A binational humanitarian group, located in San Diego, CA, that conducts search & rescue operations, with the sole purpose of saving lives and rescuing bodies. The organization also helps with Mexican repatriations and by leaving essential supplies along paths.


o   American Friends Service Committee San Diego
AFSC San Diego supports immigrant-led organizations by developing "human rights committees" and working to include immigrant voices in policy debates. It is also in charge of the AFSC San Diego U.S.-Mexico Border Program which seeks to protect the human rights and self-determination of migrants and border communities.

o   Many migrants cleared to enter the U.S. by the Department of Homeland Security are turning to a migrant shelter run by the San Diego Rapid Response Network for help. The coalition provides these families with basic supplies, legal services, and information about the rights of asylum seekers, as well as travel and limited financial assistance to help them reach loved ones in other U.S. cities. You can help fund the group's recently opened migrant family shelter by donating to this GoFundMe campaign



o   Coalición de Derechos Humanos CDH (described below in Immigrant Rights section) has a Missing Migrant Project which includes specific attention to the recovery of remains.

o   Humane Borders/Fronteras Compasivas
Offers humanitarian assistance through the deployment of water stations on routes commonly used by migrants, with the sole goal of preventing deaths. It also develops informational resources about migrant deaths, and accepts volunteers.

o   Colibri Center for Human Rights
Holds a comprehensive database of missing persons last seen crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, using the information to match families with unidentified remains and advocate for the continuing human rights crisis on the border. 

o   The Sanctuary Caravan is a group supporters, including faith, labor, and community leaders, accompanying migrant children and their families at the border. You can get involved by housing a migrant family, volunteering, fundraising, joining upcoming events, or donating


o   Border Network for Human Rights
BNHR is an immigration reform and human rights advocacy group. It is a grassroots organizer with a large membership and capabilities, currently focusing on the nation-wide push for a just immigration reform. The organization also releases useful reports, including annual documentations of abuses in the border. 

o   Southern Border Communities Coalition
Bringing together 60 organizations from California to Texas, Southern Border Communities Coalition looks to ensure fair and accountable border enforcement, humane and rational immigration policy, and a positive quality of life for border communities. Its website has up-do-date border accountability information, including a section documenting Border Patrol murders since 2010.

o   Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project works to prevent the deportation of asylum-seeking families fleeing violence. The group accepts donations and asks people to sign up for volunteer opportunities here.



o   Centro de los Derechos del Migrante
Binational organization based in Mexico City that educates, empowers, and advocates for immigrants, while also providing transnational legal representation and advice. CDM focuses on the rights of Mexico-based migrant workers who must constantly move between their homes and the United States.


o   Save the Children, an organization that protects and supports children around the world, has set up child-friendly spaces in Tijuana. Save the Children creates these spaces in emergency situations in an effort to provide children with a safe, playful environment that's stocked with toys and crafts. You can help support migrant children's needs by donating here




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