This is a truncated version of the EFA Chicagoland Chapter News. If you would like to read the full e-newsletter, visit the archive, where you can also subscribe to have it delivered to your inbox monthly.


  • Safe & Happy… Based on factors such as job security and depression rates, Aurora came in 21st and Chicago was 56th happiest out of 182 cities in WalletHub’s list of happiest. And Buffalo Grove (1st), Bartlett (5th), and Orland Park (8th) were named the safest, as rated by MoneyGeek per FBI crime data.
  • …but Expensive. Rockford was ranked as No. 9 on a list of least affordable cities according to Good Hire. It’s the only Illinois city to break the top-10 list of 155 U.S. cities with a labor force of more than 150,000. Chicago came in at 108.
  • Grr, Google! The Google gods are messing with us again, this time by building a Google Docs “style and tone suggestions” tool into some tiers of Google Workspace. If that depresses you, don’t worry—new hotline Peptoc’s got your back. Kindergarteners offer prerecorded words of encouragement. Our favorite: “If you’re frustrated you can always go to your bedroom and punch a pillow or cry into it or go scream outside.”


3 Steps to Strong Freelance Contracts

If you’re an independent contractor, you need to know what the “contract” part means. The American Medical Writer’s Association recently offered tips and sample language for creating strong freelance contracts, writing, “A good contract sets expectations for both parties and protects you from unscrupulous clients. A bad contract can harm your relationship with the client, create extra work, or lead to insufficient compensation.”

The three steps to a good contract include:

  1. Create an accurate estimate, which entails asking detailed questions about budget, timelines and deadlines, and responsibilities of both you and the client.
  2. Settle on a contract that clearly spells out what you’ve agreed to—and what you haven’t.
  3. Learn from your more experienced peers by crowd-sourcing solutions through the AMWA’s resources or the EFA Discussion List. Chances are someone can help.

“A contract is an agreement between two or more parties,” AMWA writes. “If there is anything that is unclear or seems unfair to you, you have the right to question it. If you have a question about the legal aspects of a contract, it is a good idea to seek professional legal counsel.”

Grants, Cash, and a Scavenger Hunt… Oh My!

There are a number of money-related developments happening around Chicagoland:

  • Granted. From sole proprietors and jewelers to artists and authors, this SmallBizTrends list of grants covers a wide range of self-employed businesses.
  • Cash Pilot. Applications for Chicago’s first cash pilot open in April. The pilot will award 5,000 residents a $500 no-strings-attached monthly stipend for a year.
  • Single Moms. The Academic Coaching pilot gives $500 per month to 25 single moms enrolled in the City Colleges of Chicago; the money is “for anything a mom in school might need.”
  • Got Gas? The city will give away $150 gas cards and $50 Ventra card credits to those who qualify as part of a $12.5 million financial assistance program. Applications open April 27.
  • Scavenger Hunt. Originally planned for March, the National Scavenger League’s first hunt was rescheduled for July 9, giving you more time to brush up on your Chicago knowledge and prepare to win the $25,000 prize.


By Amy Spungen

  • The Writers’ Co-op. Are you a people pleaser? If so, you’re not alone. In some ways, say hosts Wudan Yan and Jenni Gritters, people pleasing “feels inherent to being a freelancer.” But it can harm your freelance business. Find out how on “Why We People Please.” (Feb. 21)
  • The Editing Podcast. No doubt you thought hard about what to call your freelance business. How has that worked? Hopefully, very well! But if you wonder whether you chose wisely—or are just forming your business—you might find the advice of hosts Louise Harnby and Denise Cowle helpful in “How to Choose a Name for Your Editing or Proofreading Business.” (July 14, 2021)
  • The Freelance Fairytales. Writer Alex Fasulo delivers no-nonsense, been-there, done-that advice on freelancing. She started on platforms like Fiverr before becoming completely independent and has had her share of bad reviews. She offers some valuable advice on dealing with them in “How to Bounce Back From Bad Reviews Online.” (May 24, 2021)


For media- and publishing-related conferences, webinars, and other events of interest to self-employed editorial freelancers, see the Media Types Omnicalendar.