Category Archives: Freelance

Kim’s Excellent Auditing Adventure (aka The time the crazy rode shotgun)


Okay, so today this happened:

The day started normally enough. I got up, got some coffee and waited for Diva to get ready for work. I dropped her off and proceeded to start my work day. Many of you know that along with my freelance writing and jewelry design gigs I’m also a mystery shopper. Well I’m also a quality auditor for gas stations, and today I had a route I needed to complete. Seven stations in one town.

I get to the first station and I’m doing the spiel. Let the station know I’m there. Give them my letter of authorization (LoA…remember this, it will be important later), then I take pictures and complete the inspection. I’m walking back to my car and a woman approaches me.

Woman: pretty gutsy casing the joint during the day.

Me: Yeah, I’m not planning a robbery, I’m doing a site inspection.

Woman: Oh, of course (wink wink nudge nudge)

Me: Yeah…okay bye.

I get in my car and drive to the next location, all of two blocks away. Do my thing again, alert the station, hand over the LoA, take the photos, do the inspection (from now on, I’m referring to this as ‘Do my thing.’ As I’m walking to my car, guess who approaches me again? Yep. Lady from station #1.

Woman: What the hell kinda heist are you planning?

Me: No heist. Site inspections.

Woman: Good. Glad you’ve got your story down. Makes it way more believable if the cops find out.

Me: Yeah…sure. Bye.

As I got in my car, I thought, “Great, crazy lady is following me thinking I’m going on a crime spree. My luck she’ll say she wants in on it.” I start the car and headed for station #3, which is five or six blocks down the street.

You know, you’d think that I would have learned by now that speaking things aloud to the universe is inviting the universe to act. Apparently I haven’t learned that lesson because, sure enough, after I did my thing…

Woman: Look, if I can anticipate your next move, the cops will. You need a partner, I volunteer me!

Me: Thanks for the offer, but I work alone.

Woman: That’s never a good idea. There should always be two in a heist.

Me: Sorry. Loner.

Station #4:

Woman: I’m an excellent driver.

Me: Me too, plus my insurance won’t cover you.

Station #5:

Woman: I have an excellent eye for detail.

Me: Without looking, how many lights are on under the canopy?

Woman: Uh…

Me: buuzzz! Too late, we’re in jail and it’s your fault. Thanks for playing.

I get to station #6…no sign of her. Did she give up? Did I lose her? Did she find something more amusing to do? After the nanosecond I took to ponder all that, I finished the gig and jumped in the car in the hopes that I could get the last site done..just in case she decided I was interesting again.

I get to the last station. There she is. With the station attendant.

Me: Seriously?

Woman: Told you I knew what you were doing.

Me: Lady you don’t know what you’re  doing, let alone what I’m doing.

Woman: Well you won’t be casing this joint!

Me:  (To the attendant)  I’m here to do your site inspection.

Attendant: Do you have a LoA?

Me: Yep. (hand over the letter)

Woman: That doesn’t mean anything. Any witless moron could make one of those.

Me: And yet here you stand without one.

And with that, I finished the inspection and left.

Now I’m at home thinking about all the ways that could have went wrong. But you know what? It didn’t and therefore it lands in the “must blog this because this only happens to me” box.

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Channeling My Inner Peter Gibbons


For a while now I’ve not been happy with my career trajectory.

And by “awhile,” I mean several years. Heading into a decade actually.

Now technically, I am a writer. I write words. I get paid. I write more words…

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

The problem: I don’t like the words I’m writing.

The other problem: I don’t like what I’m getting paid for the words I write.

The third problem: I don’t like the crap I have to deal with while writing the words I write.

Not liking what I write + Not liking the pay for what I write + Dealing with crap while I write =

A PETER GIBBONS MOMENT

I hope that most of you get the reference to the guy who was the hero of all cubicle dwellers in the early ’00. But for those of you who are not familiar with the guy or the movie in which he appeared, check this out:

This is the attitude that greeted me this morning. It’s not the first time, but this go around it was accompanied with a declarative statement:

I’m done.

I’m done working for peanuts.

I’m done writing about stuff I don’t give a crap about.

I’m done with being too tired to work on writing I WANT to do because I have to work on so much of the crap to make ends meet.

I’m done dealing with clients who do not appreciate what I do for them.

I’m done feeling guilty for crocheting, chainmailling or just watching a tv show and not working at the same time.

I don’t like working for peanuts, for people who don’t appreciate what I do for them anyway so I’m just not going to do it anymore.

I’m. Done.

So here is my plan:

By the end of next month, I will have my book completed (“From the Minds of my Family” is the tentative title. I also like “Words with Skip and Mary,” but that might be limiting.) and a solid first draft for my online dating book. No idea what I’m going to call it.

I have two clients that I will continue to work with because I actually enjoy working with them. I will seek new clients, but I’m going to be picky.

I’m going to go back to my first love, which is feature writing.

And finally, I’m going to crochet and chainmaille more, hang out with my granddaughter and watch tv….without feeling guilty about any of it.

Life is about to get more interesting because I’m finally going to, you know, LIVE IT!

🙂

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**Tap tap** Is this thing on?


Bet you guys thought I fell off the planet, eh?

Nope. I have simply been too busy to blog. Even my friends on Facebook have noticed I’ve been less vocal of late. But I’ve got a few minutes of downtime, so I thought I would catch you all up with what’s been going on.

I’m Working…A LOT

I have several clients which are keeping me very busy. This is a good thing, since for the most part, they all pay a fair wage, and I enjoy the topics. It’s not all moonlight and roses, but it’s not thunderstorm and daisies, either.

Okay, I actually like thunderstorms and daisies, so that wasn’t a fair assessment, but you get my point.

I’m Working on the house…A LOT

We’ve ripped up five rooms of carpet, stained five floors and now we’re laying time. Eventually I am going to tackle the upside down fruit wall paper in my kitchen…just as soon as I can bring myself to look at it long enough and measure.

Yes, I said upside down fruit wallpaper. And not just any fruits…we’re talking pineapples. mangoes. Grapes.

Yeah, it’s bad!

But it’s starting to come together. Slowly, but surely.

I Went back to school. Again.

I bit the bullet and started my PhD program. I’m studying E-learning and Instructional Design. I think I’ve lost my mind.

Check that, I know I’ve lost my mind. But it’s a means to an end, and I’m sure once it’s all over, I’ll be glad I did it.

At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

This Area Is Intentionally Left Blank

I might have some good news to post here, but I don’t want to jinx myself, so I won’t say what it is about.

And that, ladies and gents, is what I have been up to. But I do want to leave you with one pearl of wisdom before I delve back into work. Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of articles and blog posts on how to become a writer. The information has been interesting, but frankly, unnecessary. You don’t need a 2,000 word blog post to tell someone how to be a writer.  I can do it in less that 100 words.

Ready? Here goes:

How To Become a Writer 

By: The Classic Quill

Step 1: Write.

Step 2: Write some more.

Step 3: Submit what you write to people who need what you write.

Step 4: Keep writing.

Step 5: Ignore those who ask if they have possibly read what you’ve written. They probably aren’t your intended audience anyway.

Step 6: Read. Read for fun. Read to see what to do and not to do. Read those whose work you love a respect.

Step 7: Did I mention WRITE?

Step 8: After a few months, look back at the first three things you wrote. Cringe and laugh. Tweak if as necessary.

Repeat Steps 1 through 8 for the rest of your life.

And there you have it. The only way to become a writer, is to write and submit what you’ve written. It’s not rocket science. Yes, there is a bit more to it, such as learning to research markets and determine a publications needs and tone, but those things don’t matter if you don’t write.

And with that, I’m off to practice what I just preached. 😀

 

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New Directions


For the last few days, I’ve been contemplating my career and where I want it to go. As a writer, there are many avenues available to you — provided you are willing to do the work and learn that particular part of the craft. In my almost 20 years in this biz, I’ve tried my hand at fiction, journalism, article writing, column writing, copywriting, general writing (business plans, marketing plans, grants, white papers, etc.), content mills and web writing.  In other words, I’ve pretty much been there, done that.

Except for plays, movies and television scripts. But it’s on my list.

I’ve published a book, I’ve written an award-winning column and I’ve written things that brought me praise and criticism galore. I’ve written some things that make me cringe, and I’ve written things of which I am extremely proud. I have enjoyed almost every minute of my writing career.

But now I feel as if I’m at a crossroads. I love writing for a living, I really do…

But I don’t want to do it anymore. At least not how I’ve been doing it recently.

A friend gave me The Renegade Writer as a gift this past Christmas. I’m not a huge fan of how-to or self-help books — I’m a firm believer that the only way to learn to do something is by doing it. No book can replace the knowledge you gain from the “Nike” approach. The book has been sitting on the corner of my desk since the day I unwrapped it — but for some reason I picked it up and starting thumbing through it yesterday.

In each chapter, there are sections called “Break this rule.” I started reading those because, well, I am a rule-breaker.

It turns out that a lot of what they advise I’ve been doing instinctively for years.

Now, you’d think this would make me feel better. Make me feel like I’ve been on the right path.

Nope. It really made me sick to my stomach.

Cuz, the last few years, I’ve been ignoring my instincts in exchange for making a decent living. And now I wonder — if I had stuck to my path all those years ago, where would I be now? Would my byline be in Forbes, or Women’s Day or Inc.? It’s not even about the bragging rights — it just made me realize that as a writer, I could be so much further along than I am, and it’s hurts like hell that I’m the reason I’m not where I could be.

But that all changes tomorrow. I’ve still got a couple of steady clients that keep food on the table and a roof over my head, but I’m done chasing after more of their ilk. If I’m going to do this, I either need to go big or get the hell out of the game.  The publication studying and query writing starts tomorrow. My goal is to make it into a National magazine before the end of the year, if not sooner.

I’m going for the big time, folks. Wish me luck.

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Running Away From Home


Working from home definitely has its advantages. First of all, you can’t beat the commute. It takes me all of five minutes to get to work, and that includes a stop at the bathroom and the coffee maker. 10 if one of my dogs is tap dancing at the back door.

Then there’s the dress code. I do typically get up and get dressed (I usually take a shower before bed), but instead of dress slacks and a blouse, it’s sweats or shorts and a t-shirt, usually with a cartoon character emblazoned on the front. And no dress shoes — flip flops or cow slippers. I know the Fly Lady is frowning about that, but hey, slippers ARE shoes, and yes, sometimes I actually do wear them outside the house.

And let’s not forget about the hours. Wait, I actually work more hours now than I did at my last brick and mortar, but I LIKE what I do now, so it counts, yet it doesn’t. But then again, I can work pretty much when I want, so it’s still one more item in the “plus” column.

So, overall, working for myself from home is pretty awesome.

But sometimes…you just need to run away.

The last few weeks, my productivity has slowed, and not because of a lack of work. With each passing day, I’ve spent more and more time staring at a blank screen. Or I’ve been playing Hidden Chronicles. Or playing on Facebook. Anything but writing. I had deadlines looming, but I couldn’t get any real work done to save my life. I was facing having to do something I usually don’t have to do — ask for extensions.

So, yesterday, I decided that I was going to run away. I packed up my laptop, and headed for a new location. I was hoping a change of scenery would help.

And it did. I got more done yesterday than I have in weeks. And it carried over. When I finally came home last night, my productivity continued. I’m now pretty much caught up, and with tonight’s work, I’ll actually be ahead of my deadlines. Feels good. So good, I just might do it again tomorrow!

So, the next time you’re just staring at a blank screen, try moving that screen to another location. Try a coffee shop or McDonalds. Or the patio, weather permitting. Even moving to a different room in the house might be enough to get you going.

So, lesson learned: Exercise some flexibility. Remember that you can work anywhere. Staying chained to your desk flies in the face of working for yourself. Enjoy the opportunity.

 

 

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This Ain’t a Date — Pay Me!


Do I have you attention?

Good. 🙂

So, I got an email from one of my clients, one of the few content mills I still write for occasionally. They are revamping their site, and part of the overhaul includes writers updating their profiles. Okay, I can understand needing me to re-size a picture and explain my writing background. So, last week, I did that.

Today I get a followup email. They want me to “flesh out” my profile “so they can better match me to clients.” Oh, and they want sample articles for each area in which I write.

Um…I have three major areas of expertise, and  countless other areas where I can write with some level of authority (I think I counted 20 or so areas on their site). And you want me to complete a mini-profile for each other them.

Guys…it’s so Not Happening.

I’m not sure when this happened, but suddenly, sites want to know everything about you. I’m not willing to do that. This ain’t a dating site. I’m not trying to woo you, and I don’t want you to woo me, past giving me gigs and paying me. That’s really the extent of our relationship.

Want to know what you need to know about me? Here ya go:

My Name

My Resume

A couple of writing samples.

My PayPal email address so you can pay me.

This is what I need to know about you:

Do you pay?

How do you pay?

Do you pay on time?

Do you have work?

That’s it. This could be one of the least-complicated relationships either of us has ever had, and you want to go and ruin it by getting to know me. I’m afraid that if you insist on taking our relationship to the next level, I might have to rethink it.

I know you’re disappointed. But, it’s not you, it’s me.

Okay, it really is you.

 

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Revisions and Deadlines and Edits…Oh Crap!


Sorry I’ve been away for a few days, but I’ve been slammed with, well, the title to this post. It’s the by-product of having almost too much work. And it’s an even bigger factor when you’re dealing with clients with whom you have never worked. One new client relationship is a challenge.

I’ve got five.

Yep. Five new clients, which means five new relationships to tweak, guidelines to learn, deadlines to get used to, yadda yadda…

January was a rewarding and challenging month. But I muddled through and here we are in February, and although I’m past the muddle stage, I’m still trying to adjust. Part of that adjustment means figuring out where this blog fits into it all.

I really enjoy writing this blog. I like talking about my life, writing, and anything else that falls from my gray matter to my laptop keys. But there’s only one of me and 24 hours in a day, so sometimes things have to get pushed aside, and since this blog is a labor of love and not an actual income stream, sadly, it gets bumped.

But unlike previous blogging attempts, (and there have been several), I missed blogging this time. They say it takes 21 days to create or break a habit. Well, I blogged 31 consecutive days last month, so it’s a habit, plus 10 at this point, and I don’t see myself ever going 21 days without blogging again, so it’s safe to say, even if I don’t blog every day, I will blog often.

But for now, I need to get my clients are straight and comfy and in love with me, and I need to do the same for them. Because I’ve decided that if I don’t love the gig, I’m not going to keep it. Life is too short and there is way too much work out there for me to suffer through work I don’t enjoy. But I will save that conversation for another post.

OK — just wanted to check in before you decided I had fallen out of the blogosphere. I’m still here and I’ll be back.

Oh, and if there is something in particular you’d like me to talk about, explain, or offer my opinion about, hit me up in comments or Email me.

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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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Good vs. Bad Clients


One of my goals for 2012 was to have a better class of clients. I don’t just mean better paying clients, I mean clients who have a passion for their business like I do for mine. My other business has that built in — people request a piece of jewelry, I create it, they’re happy, they pay me and then I’m happy because I made something beautiful, and I got paid to do it.

I wanted that same feeling to carry over to my writing business as well, so that’s why I set out to get new clients. So far, so good. I’ve got 4 good clients, and I’m working on adding more daily. But there are still some bad clients in the bunch, and that annoys me.

So, what’s a bad client? Well, that’s really a personal assessment, but for me, a bad client:

* is a client who cannot tell you what it is they want. Some can’t tell you what it is they do. Seriously.

*is a client who promises to have info. to you on Tuesday, but doesn’t get around to sending it to you until Friday. Gives no explanation, but still wants the completed project the following Monday.

*is a client who balks at your rate.

*is a client who never pays on time. Once or twice is one thing, but consistently late payments is never a good thing.

*is a client that accuses you of stealing or outsourcing your work.

Now, granted, I have a lot less of these clients now than I did, say a year ago, but I still have a couple and I am taking steps to divorce myself from them. I have finally learned that I don’t need bad clients to be successful. I can hold out for the good clients. The clients that remind me why I’m in this business. The clients who make me want to stay in this business.

So, if you’ve got bad clients, keep looking for the good ones. Trust me, you’ll know ’em when you find ’em.

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Would You Like Fries With That?


or how about “Welcome to WalMart!”

Or maybe “We offer the cardigan in three colors: fuchsia, magenta and chartreuse.”

Oh, don’t mind me, I’m just trying out some phrases for a new job. Cuz this whole writing thing is getting on my last nerve!

Yeah, today hasn’t been the best day. But you have those.

Sometimes you have two.

Hell, sometimes you even have 12. And if you’re really “lucky,” you have them consecutively.

OK — so I haven’t had 12 bad writing days in a row, but this has not been a stellar week. I’m making progress toward my goals, but it’s slow.

I hate slow.

Hate. It.

This life is hard. Writing is hard. Dealing with clients is hard. Waiting to get paid is hard.

But if it were easy, it probably wouldn’t be worth doing. (Oh, hush, Mom, I know…I KNOW!)

So, I’m going to whine a bit, eat something fattening, whine some more because I blew my diet, then probably drink some wine.

(No, wine is part of my diet. I’m a writer, remember?)

Then I’ll go back to being a writer, because, well…

I’m not asking anyone if they want fries, I’m more apt to ask people why the hell they’re at WalMart and I’d never in a million years own a  fuchsia, magenta or chartreuse cardigan, let alone suggest someone buy one.

A bad day (or two or 12) working from home is better than a good day working for someone else. (So, I keep reminding myself.)

How do you deal with rough day(s) with work? What gets you through?

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