Processes…

journalingIt may not look like it, if you were to judge from this blog alone, but I write a lot. I’m a fairly prolific blogger for a number of different clients, for a diverse array of subjects, and I love all of it! Thrown on top of 2k words a day is where any creative fiction or personal projects get squeezed in, so they’re few and far between. But hey, bills.

When I began freelancing, seriously freelancing, I started all over. I took classes, I studied up on techniques, tips, tricks, and processes – and I found one universal truth. Just write. Write everyday. Write in a journal, write on a napkin, write on a post-it…even if it’s only a sentence a day.

Sure, buy Scrivener, buy a fancy leather notebook, hell, buy yourself a Montblanc if you have good penmanship (or not), but make it your habit to jot something down everyday that’s just for you. It can be just for you to share at some point, or not, but whether or not you have a list of deadlines: write.

Don’t worry about outlining, don’t worry about making sense. This is your gift to yourself, and you may be surprised. Check your stack of notes and ideas after a month, and you may find that you’ve been unconsciously throwing together a pretty great storyline. Or not.

It doesn’t matter as long as you keep those juices flowing!

 

Stay on track…

woman writer

You want to hire me for what, exactly? That doesn’t sound a thing like writing…

I wasn’t even sure I wanted to think about this, much less write about it since so much of my professional writing endeavors have been swimming along so well. But it’s a thing that I’m certain happens to everyone at some point when they’re getting started – just this: don’t work for friends or family members.

It won’t end well, and in a worst case scenario can lead to a broken friendship or a few years of awkward family get-togethers. You may scoff, but it happens much more quickly than you’d expect. When I started out, I thought I was doing it right: I dropped any jobs that were design, marketing, or unrelated to writing and started really going all out to promote myself. There was an unintended consequence of letting anyone know I had a ‘new business’ – everyone wanted to ‘help’. By help, I mean trying to ‘hire’ me to do things I’d already done, in order to help support them in their work.  There were two one-off projects I had to extricate myself from gently and this only resulted in a few months of awkward.  The last one was an oddity.  Someone I hadn’t spoken with for over two years wanted to hire me to help out with his work, along with some other marketing things.  Now, it wasn’t writing, but I owe a lot of my personal and professional development to this individual, so I agreed. My first mistake was deviating from my set goal; writing.

My second mistake was letting the promise of income fuel my decision to drop a different client I had been writing for.  I had plenty of work to do, and I couldn’t take on this new job without lightening my load.  I should have started first, and then decided how to best use my time.

Cut to the end of the story; that promised job never happened, and the reasons were nothing to do with me, directly.  I suppose my third mistake was not calling this person out on the floor for a definite answer.  A lot of assumptions and reasons given for reneging on the deal were truly not valid to my work ethic or quality of work, and so I just ended up feeling pissed off. Worse, it’s a closed door on what had been a fairly long acquaintance. By not just sticking to my druthers, things went from bad to catastrophic in no time flat.

Like any tale, there’s more to this than what I’ve shared, but it would be a meandering distraction away from what I want to convey.  Take your writer-self, and be that writer.  If you write, you know what I mean.  Writing is an addiction; once you start – and I mean really commit – you’re in it for the long haul.  You dream in prose, think in neatly organized paragraphs, and your fingers start to twitch when you’re away from your keyboard.  This is your life now, and it’s an enormous gift – please don’t waste it! It may be tempting to scoop up these side jobs, but that’s time away from your craft. It’s okay to stand your ground and reply with a polite “thanks, but no thanks.” The sooner the ones close to you realize this is the real deal, the less time you’ll spend sweeping up the debris of shattered expectations.

Sidenote: unless you’re absolutely flat-ass broke, then take any and all side jobs!

And So It Goes…

Tired WriterI just had my first break-up with a client since I began Freelancing last year.  It wasn’t acrimonious, and it was my decision, but it was one I made after plenty of hemming and hawing, hand-wringing, and what-ifs. However, after finally taking the leap, it feels precisely like dumping that first High School boyfriend; there’s relief, freedom, calm, and a sense of “omg, FINALLY!” that lets me know I wasn’t wrong.

Here’s the backstory: this was my first real, paying client. I had just jumped out of marketing/offices/silicon valley – the whole rat-race – and hey! I was free!  This was also before I joined the NWU, understood contracts, or had any real, watch-your-ass experience writing as a writer; not like a marketer.

There were red flags aplenty, but everything’s always clearer in hindsight, right? Now, before I continue, let me state: the client wasn’t a bad client.  They were a BIG client, with a status quo, and my assigned editor is a sweet person whom I still talk with.  This isn’t about to spiral into a mud-slinging mess. It’s just chronicling an experience, the good, the bad, and how It’s improved my writing and my negotiating skills!

I started freelancing by using eLance, which has always been a relatively useful tool whenever I’ve needed it. So, I was offered a position as a blogger, doing two posts a day Monday through Friday.  They agreed to my pricing and off we went. Soon after, they requested to set our agreement up outside of eLance (red flag) BUT they were prompt in paying me, so I wasn’t worried.  It went like so; I did two posts a day in WordPress, and I had an editor, someone who did SEO, and a designer who added images.  Then, they asked me to write three posts a day, for the same hourly rate (red flag).  This was soon followed by being requested to add the SEO tags (red flag), and finding and adding images (red flag, red flag, red flag). I was also now responsible for adding links back to the website(s) editing my work, and pushing it live (HIROSHIMA!).

The breakup commenced when I received a lengthy email that detailed out all the changes that had been made to the websites, the new rules for SEO, and an insistent demand that I needed to add a minimum of three links per post. Further, that I was in danger of losing my ‘contract’ because I wasn’t doing the SEO correctly. Since we never HAD a formal contract, aside from being hired to write “short, witty posts,” it was an empty threat.

I wasn’t outraged…I was flabbergasted, confused, and slightly entertained.  I technically still had an editor, who was responsible for conveying these messages, but she had been hands-off my posts for the past three months (as were the SEO people, designer, and whoever else had been on board in the beginning).

Though it has been a nice pocketful of money every month, this clearly signaled that it was time to move on while we were all on good terms. I was offered more money to stay, but I refused, and here’s why: I’m a writer.

I am not a designer (though it was my career in the past), and I’m not an SEO expert.

I’m a writer, and I was hired to write.  The focus had become pure marketing, where writing was secondary to keywords and calls to action.  There’s nothing wrong with any of that – but I was hired to write, with the express agreement that royalty free images and keywords were NOT my problem, I just had to write. I was initially denied a raise in my fee when they had first begun to add responsibilities to my checklist. Perhaps I should have bowed out then instead of letting them see how much they could keep adding to my plate.

The takeaway, for me, has been that big companies love freelancers because, for the most part, we’re stoked about getting the bid! We’ll let stuff slide and start to add up, and that will be taken advantage of. I don’t honestly believe it’s done out of malice, but it can be a wake-up call to remember that you write because you love writing.  For me, the other stuff was inconsequential.  It was easy, but it was a time suck.

Don’t get stuck in a time suck. I was hired by a client to write, and I ended up spending more time on keywords, backlinks, and images than actual wordsmithing.  Lesson learned!

Good Morning!

I’m an experienced creative writer with an MFA, and a background developing online content. This includes blogging, social media, articles, and press releases. I’m currently an editor for the WattzOn digital magazine, as well as a curator for their Amazon online storefront.

I’m a current member of the National Writers Union, the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors, the Redwood Writers branch of the California Writers Club, as well as a National Press Pass holder.

You can check out my work here: www.pithyme.com.

Take a look at my Portfolio page for all the links to my social networks and whatever other online shenanigans I’m up to.