Monthly Archives: January 2012

The End of the Month


The first month of what some think is the last year of our lives is coming to an end. I spent the day invoicing and finishing up some last minute work for clients. And I thought about some of the goals I made for this year.

So far, not bad.

I’ve retained my better clients and dropped the dead weight. I still need to gain some new clients, but that’s always going to be an ongoing process. For the first time since I started my writing career, I had work for at least one client every day of the month. That’s pretty cool.

My goal for next month is pretty much the same as my goal for January. Keep looking for the meat and the lobster, avoid the peanuts and smaller potatoes. I feel like I’m on the verge of something great — for the first time I’m on the path I’m supposed to be. I’m excited about the future, which is a really good feeling.

I’ve also kinda got addicted to this blogging thing, so I think I’ll keep doing that, too. Hope you guys stick around for the ride. Should be interesting.

Oh, and as for the end of the world stuff — my theory about the Mayans: Their calendar stopped at 12/21/2012 because they ran out of room on the wheel.

See ya next month!

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Small Potatoes, Peanuts, Pumpkin Seeds…


No, I’m not making a grocery list. 🙂 These are just some of the terms that get bandied about when writers and other artists discuss pay.

Pumpkin seeds – not worth mentioning (but I’m going to). These are the gigs that pay $4 for a blog post — and the “client” is convinced he’s paying a “great rate!”.

Peanuts – You’re getting more than pumpkin seeds, but you’re still eating a whole lotta rice and robbing Peter to pay Paul — and Peter’s getting pissed.  Clients in the $5 – $7 range. They *know* they aren’t paying enough, but refuse to acknowledge that. They also tend to want a ridiculous amount of work, for, well, peanuts.

Small Potatoes — So, you actually get to eat meat once a week, Peter isn’t nearly as banged up (but he’s still pissed), but you’d still like to make more. These clients pay $8 – $10 for a blog post and are often apologetic that it isn’t more. You usually work with these clients, because although the pay is low, you have a feeling that as they progress, they just might take you with them.

Meat and Potatoes – You’re eating whole meals, sometimes more than once a day. Peter and Paul still look at you warily, but you’re cool with each other. $11 -$15 per post/article. These guys are on the verge of going big — you’ll work with them just to say you were a part of it and in the hopes they will take you with them.

Surf n Turf -You’re living the good life! You’ve got clients who recognize your value, and you FINALLY get paid what you’re worth. $16 – $20 a post/article. They realize that good work costs money. They’re demanding, but as long as you deliver, they will provide. This is as close to a dream gig as your going to get in 2012…for now.

(For my vegetarian friends out there — substitute three extra trips to Trader Joes or Whole Foods, or whatever expensive organic foods you love.)

Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve got a mixed bag — I’ve got some Peanuts, potatoes, meat and a surf n turf or two. But it took a lot of work to get the meat and the lobster. And I had to bite the bullet and quote meat and lobster rates.

Cuz, that’s the thing — if you don’t ask for lobster, you won’t get lobster. If you don’t profess your love of lobster, you won’t get offered lobster.

And at the first opportunity, toss the pumpkin seeds in the trash. You don’t need the salt anyway!

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Yet Another Lesson Learned


I received several comments and private messages regarding my post yesterday. Although you were kind enough to not say it directly — the message was received. Yes, I was whining. LOL

I didn’t accomplish what I *thought* I should, but I didn’t exactly sit around and eat bon bons all day, either. I did do a lot. And I really really need to remind myself that, had this been this time two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what I did accomplish yesterday. [I’ll fill you in on that some other time.]

So, thanks for calling me on my crap. I appreciate it. The next time I have a day that didn’t go as planned, I will just refer to it as that. I didn’t do what I intended to do, but it wasn’t a total waste.

Today has been a much more productive day writing-wise. I’m just about caught up with everything, so things look good for the week. I’m plotting planning what I’m going to write about here — not sure if it will be more conversational or educational but I hope it will be interesting for you.

So, I’d love to stay and chat longer, but deadlines await. Ah — the life of a writer — it doesn’t get much better! 🙂

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Brain Call-off


I have accomplished nothing today. This blog post is the most productive thing I’ve done all day. I’m not sure why I’ve been so unproductive, but it’s been a total wash. My mind simply refused to allow me to do anything more stressful than comment on Facebook.

So, what did I do today? Check this out:

1. I ran virus and malware programs to optimize my computer.

2. I cleaned off my desk.

3. I did a load of laundry.

4. I cleaned my kitchen.

5. I rearranged my spice rack…by color. I think I’m going to have to rethink that method, because…

6. I added nutmeg instead of paprika to my potatoes when I was making dinner, and I almost put parsley on my chicken instead of sage.

7. I changed the light bulb in my range hood.

8. I solved 5 Sudokus on my cell phone (while I was working on my computer).

9. I made a list of everything I’m going to need to do tomorrow since today was a wash.

And that, ladies and gents, has been my day. I guess my brain needed a day off. Hopefully it won’t demand the entire weekend. LOL

Now, I’m going to go play a game, or crochet something. Or maybe I’ll clean the oven…

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Thanks, Facebook!


Today, Facebook, you managed to both annoy and entertain me.  Now that more people are being converted to the new Timeline, I’m getting a bunch of visitors that are friends of my friends (but not friends with me).

For the most part, it’s been pretty uneventful, and I’ve even added a few of them as friends as a result of conversations we’ve had. So, that’s cool.

But

(Isn’t there always a but!)

Every once in a while a friend of a friend is not, well, friendly.

This first happened a couple of weeks ago. A friend of a friend made negative comments about something I posted. We had a brief back-and-forth, and basically, I told him to go away.

Then there was today.

I posted a picture of a truck covered with bumper stickers…I’m not going to post the pic here because I don’t want to take someone’s Facebook life and put it out in the Interwebs…but the picture garnered a decent amount of attention from my friends…

And this friend of a friend. He spent the better part of the day trying to convince me and all other commenters why we were wrong to think/believe what we did. And he was rather condescending about it, not to mention he contradicted himself more than once.

My friends, of course were not going to back down — I even had friends of friends chiming in to argue with him. It was a rather enjoyable scene. So much so, I kept my opinion out of it…for the most part.

I think these types of friends of friends need a name — I vote The Truth Bringers. They come onto a stranger’s Facebook page, and proceed to tell the page owner why they and their friends are wrong. They are trying to shed light and knowledge on the obviously unlearned (and probably unwashed) masses. It is their sole purpose in life to convert us to their ways…

Which means it is OUR purpose to smack them around, then kill ’em with logic until they are forced to utter phrases such as, “I’m not going to try and convince you anymore.” and “You’re all stupid poopy heads!”

Or something like that.

So, thanks Facebook for the entertainment today. I appreciate it, and I look for more to come.

Cuz, I’m sure there will be more.

PS — if one of my friends goes on your page and acts like a Truth Bringer, let me know. I doubt it will happen because I have the COOLEST, SMARTEST FRIENDS ON THE PLANET, but just in case, I’ll take care of it.

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Average?


Interesting Opinion column in the New York Times today. In his column, Average Is Over, Thomas L. Friedman states:

In the past, workers with average skills, doing an average job, could earn an average lifestyle. But, today, average is officially over. Being average just won’t earn you what it used to. It can’t when so many more employers have so much more access to so much more above average cheap foreign labor, cheap robotics, cheap software, cheap automation and cheap genius. Therefore, everyone needs to find their extra — their unique value contribution that makes them stand out in whatever is their field of employment. Average is over.

Well, for some  it’s over. But for some of us, average never got started. Average never even existed.

When I was a child, my parents drilled it into my head: You won’t get anywhere in life doing just the minimum. If you want to succeed in life, you have to give at least 110%.

(You see, to my parents, 100% WAS the minimum.)

They never explained why, and I never asked. It was just an accepted fact in my house.

Of course, it didn’t take me long to find out why this was a requirement.

I learned two lessons in life very early: You can’t be black and average and you can’t be female and average and expect to get anywhere in life.

And if you were both, well, you’d best get used to having to be awesome.

Yes, I had to be awesome to be seen as average. I had to be spectacular to be good and I had to be damn near perfect to be awesome.

Every. Damn. Day.

The pressure isn’t as great now as it was, because now I’m somewhat established, but that’s not a work ethic that just evaporates. It’s as much a part of me as breathing and writing. I don’t think I could half-ass something if I wanted to. Average isn’t in me, because I could never allow it.

So, it rankles me a bit that some people who have gone through life being average are crying foul that just won’t cut it anymore.

To them, a question: What was it like?

What was it like to just do the bare minimum in college and still get a decent job?

What was it like to just do just slightly above the minimum required, and still get promoted?

What was it like to write mediocre content, but still land private clients or plum assignments?

I’d really like to know, because I’ve never had a chance to experience it. Cuz, you see..

While you were busy skipping class, getting Cs on tests and partying, I was studying. Cuz I needed at least a B to match your C if I was going to get recommendations from teachers and advisors.

While you were working an extra 15 minutes a week, and going home to your family, I was working 10 extra hours a week, and going home too tired to deal with mine. And we got promoted on the same day.

While you were writing crap, our supervisor was giving me your work to correct, but you still got the credit. And the accolades. And the bonus.

So, now that you have to do what I did, you want to whine about it? Seriously?

Boo frickin’ hoo.

It will take some adjustment, but I’m sure you’ll find a way to adapt. Just like, now that you can’t be average anymore, I’ll have to adjust my game as well.

The difference is, I’m used to it. Catch me if you can.

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It Might Be a Cliche…


but as a freelancer, you should always have more than one egg in your basket.

You should have more than one basket.

Hell, if you can swing it, you should have more than one chicken farm. Or duck farm, or ostrich…

Whichever egg you prefer, have more than one farm. And more than one bird.

This makes sense to some of you, while others are thinking, “What is she talking about? Why is she going on about chicken, ducks and eggs?”

Remember in yesterday’s post I linked to a post I wrote a while back? Well the subject of that post has done a disservice to its writers yet again, and as bad as the situation already was, it just got worse.There are a lot of scared writers over there right now.

I vacillate between wanting to scream “I told you so!” and feeling sorry for them. Even when you’ve warned people repeatedly that they are on a road with nothing but a big brick wall at the end of it, you still can’t help but feel your heart sink to your stomach when they smack into it head-on. That’s how I feel tonight.

But what gets me — there are still people over there that are adamant that this too, shall pass. They aren’t looking for other work because they like working there too much.

Uh huh.

And you have the ones who insist on being optimistic. This is just a period of adjustment. All companies have to change their models from time to time. It can’t stay this bad forever.

And they’re right. It can still get worse.

Now, admittedly, I didn’t burn that bridge completely, because I want to see the famous final scene. Meaning, I want to know what kind of company they eventually evolve (or devolve) into. But I’ve long ago given up any hope (hope?) that they would be part of my income. But judging from what I read earlier, for some that place is their only income.

Still.

C’mon peeps — it’s time to get real. If you’re gonna make it as a freelancer, you can’t depend on just one client. You need many (MANY) different clients to freelance well. That is the first rule you should learn when you decide to freelance, because if you break it, it will end your freelancing career. And many people are realizing that tonight, as they start to look for B & M jobs.

So, to those who were caught off guard by the happenings of today, I’m truly sorry, and I hope this served as a wake up call for you. Get some chicken, ducks and other birds who lay eggs and cultivate as many as you can. Gets lots of pretty baskets. For now, sadly, it seems like you have all the time in the world to do it.

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It’s Not Supposed To Be Easy


Today has been an interesting day. It seems like every other conversation, every other tweet, every other Facebook status has been someone complaining about a situation — they don’t like their jobs. They don’t have enough money. They can’t get x,y, or z. The gist of it all is: Life is hard.

Well, no s&*^, Sherlock. Yeah, life IS hard. If it wasn’t would you appreciate those brief fleeting moments when it isn’t?

If you had a truly easy life: all the money you ever needed, all the friends in the world, a job you loved…would you appreciate it?

No, you wouldn’t. You would grow to expect it. If you can’t be honest about it, then I’ll have to be honest for both of us, because I know I’d take it for granted.

That’s why, even though it bugs the hell out of me at times, I’m glad I have to work for what I have. Every new skill I gain, every new client I land, every check I cash — I know I worked for it, and I worked damn hard to get it. Nothing has been handed to me…ever.

And if I had to choose between working for it and having it handed to me, I’ll take the work. I don’t want to live on Easy St. Easy makes you complacent; it takes away your motivation and your drive. And when you are no longer motivated or driven, that’s when the rug can get pulled out from under you. Don’t believe me? Reread this.

So, to those who are complaining that life is hard — yep, it is. Accept it and keep pushin’. If it gets easier, find out what else you can do. Cuz, as soon as it gets easy, it can all slip away.

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It Ain’t Just Semantics, Folks.


I just had one of the most aggravating/amusing “discussions” of my writing career.

Remember the client I fired a few weeks back? Well, I still had some outstanding articles that hadn’t been approved, so I’ve still had to deal with them to a degree.

Today, the last of the articles I wrote went through — for the exception of one. It was returned for an edit with a note:

“Replace all instances of “Republic” with “Democracy”. This is not China. It’s the US.

Ooooookay….

Now, I could have just made the changes, sent the article back and been done with this client once and for all. That would have been the simple thing to do. The practical thing to do.

I can hear you all laughing now. Yes, but it wouldn’t have been the ME thing to do.

So, I shot back a reply:

Yeah, sorry, but I can’t make those changes. You see, although I am well aware this is not China, that does not change the fact that the United States is not a democracy, but is indeed, a republic. You see, in a democratic society, when you vote, the majority rules. In a republic, a democratic process is used to elect officials to represent everyone.

Does this sound vaguely familiar to you?

So, no, again, I won’t be making those changes. Do with the article what you will.

I figured that would be the end of it. They’d reject the article, I wouldn’t get paid for it, la la la la life goes on.

10 minutes later….I get this reply:

“WE ARE A DEMOCRACY. And I find it extremely UNAMERICAN of you to argue otherwise. You should be ashamed to call yourself an American. We’re rejecting your article, and you will no longer receive any work from us. We prefer to work with those who love their country.”

Wow…just…wow. This company has lied to me, refused to pay me and accused me of stealing. And now I’m unAmerican.

So, you know what happened next…

Dear Sharpie Sniffing, American History Challenged Editor:

I find it amusing that you would dare question my patriotism when you are too ignorant to even know the facts about a country you profess to love so much. You can capitalize democracy as much and as many times as you’d like; it still won’t make the U.S. a democracy. I’m ashamed you call YOURSELF an American, since you put the “Stupid” in the ‘Stupid Americans’ moniker we have around the world.

Do me and other writers with whom you will undoubtedly have this conversation a favor: put down the crayon and pick up a history book. Google it. Go to Wikipedia. Ask your mom. Hell, ask the next person you pass on the street during recess — I don’t care how you find out — but learn some American history. Stop embarrassing yourself. Stop embarrassing me.

Which brings me to this, re: not writing anymore articles for you — let me devolve back to the third grade for a moment. GOOD! I DIDN’T WANT TO WRITE FOR YOUR STINKIN’ COMPANY ANYMORE, ANYWAY, AND I FIRED YOU FIRST!! :PPPPPPPPP

I’m officially done with you. Shred my article, and if I see anything that remotely resembles it on any website for which you provide content, I will come down on you and your company with the sound and fury of God’s thunder. Don’t think I won’t sue you. It’s the DEMOCRATIC way.

Deuces.

Me

Haven’t heard back from them yet. I’ll keep you posted.

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Sunday…


Depending on how you look at it, either your week is ending, or it’s beginning, but either way, it’s Sunday, which means a day of rest…of sorts.

I didn’t do much by way of actual writing work today, though I did do some planning for the upcoming week. Planning is important — you need a road map so you have an idea of what you need to get done, what’s due and when. I’ve got several huge projects going on right now, so I’ve devised a schedule to try and work through them all without crawling under my desk.

I also watched football. A Patriots/Giants rematch wasn’t really what I wanted (Of course, my team didn’t even make the playoffs, so I really don’t have a dog in this fight), but if that’s what we’re stuck with for the Super Bowl, I’m throwing my support to the Giants. I think it would be nice to see Manning stick it to Brady again. Also, if memory serves, the Manning bros. were in an eerily similar situation: the Colts had a very disappointing season, and the Giants came out of nowhere. It will be interesting to see if history repeats itself.

Other than that, my day has been pretty uneventful. I’m going to find a show on Netflix and do some outlining for one of the projects I’m going to work on tomorrow, and probably call it a night. I think I’m becoming a modified night owl. (I’ll explain that some other time.)

I hope you have a great beginning (or continuation) of your week tomorrow!

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