Viewing category ‘Like talking but with more typing’

Cornered Office

with Mir Kamin

I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.

To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/

Yin and Yang in freelance writing

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Deep thoughts, Like talking but with more typing, Now I'm free(lancing)

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We talk a lot about balance, ’round here. Work/life balance. Mother/wife balance. Mother/person balance. Balance is not an unfamiliar concept to anyone trying to manage a career and a life at the same time.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about this balance as it pertains to being a woman and solopreneur, generally, and how it pertains to being a woman and a writer, in particular.

Now before I go any further I will hasten to point out that I admire lots and lots of male writers as well, and nothing I’m about to say is designed to indicate that only women do what I’m about to discuss. I’m just going to talk about woman because, well, I am one and I know that for me it’s a big part of what I bring to the table as a writer.
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Home office, interrupted

Categories: Like talking but with more typing, My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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“The most wonderful thing about being a freelance writer is that I can work anywhere.” I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve said that to someone. Especially now, when I’m realizing it’s such a dirty lie.

Oh, sure, technically it’s true—I have my laptop, I have a wireless internet connection, and I can sit down and so some where almost anywhere, provided that I have those with me. Yes. And I do… sometimes. But the bulk of my work is done here at my desk, in my office, which is how I like it.

And right now my office is trying to kill me. And by “trying to kill me” I of course mean “surrounded by noisy contractor wielding saws and pneumatic nail guns and heavy boots.”

Yay for home improvement! Boo for trying to work from home while it’s happening!
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The weirdness in blog pitching just keeps getting weirder

Categories: Head hitting brick wall, Like talking but with more typing, Now I'm free(lancing)

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To me there is probably no single more distasteful aspect of being a professional blogger than some of the weird proposals I receive in my email. Because naturally, making my living writing online, I would love to (take your pick of any or all of the following): write for you for free, let you publish your canned content on my site, advertise for you for free, highlight your product that no one cares about, tell my readers about a great opportunity that no one cares about, or otherwise just do whatever you—a complete stranger—ask of me because clearly I can’t generate content on my own.

Yeah.

Obviously not everyone is going to end up with an unbelievably entertaining story from every marketing disaster (see: The Bloggess’ recent adventure), but still, I think this recent encounter bears discussing, because I think it happens more often than we maybe realize. I know I only caught on at first completely by accident, and then did some digging.

But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
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Stepping out of my conference box, maybe

Categories: Like talking but with more typing, Now I'm free(lancing)

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Regular readers know that I often preach the wisdom of finding conferences that “work” for you and what you’re hoping to achieve, and making the commitment not just to attend but to try to speak at those events periodically as well. It’s about networking, stretching your wings a little, and figuring out where you can best leverage your talents while best tapping into other resources.

And now that I typed that sentence I sort of want to punch myself in the face. Look; it’s about finding where you can do some learning, some leading, and a lot of finding your tribe amongst some folks you enjoy professionally and maybe even socially. Is that better?

This year I’m thinking about Savvy Blogging Summit, which is a conference I’ve never attended, but have heard really good things about from multiple people. The thing is, the next one isn’t for just over a year, so rather than my standard go-check-it-out method, I’m thinking I want to pitch a session. Even though I’ve never been, before.
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Can’t a writer just write?

Categories: Like talking but with more typing, Now I'm free(lancing)

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The concept of a brilliant writer who holes up in a dark office, writing day and night, living the life of a recluse while society celebrates their literary accomplishments, is mostly a fairy tale. I mean, I’m sure there are a few writers like that. Maybe that was more common back when writers mostly did just have to write, and there wasn’t an expectation that those writers would also market themselves, read to crowds, participate in professional development, etc. In fact, if you think about it… most bygone “famous” writers who were known for their reclusive ways didn’t gain much fame to speak of until after they were deceased.

But maybe you—like me—really aren’t looking to become famous. Maybe you’re thinking that just working hard and being a good writer is enough to make a living, which is all you really want. Surely then all you need to do is write well, right?

Weeeeeeeell… no.

So I have some good news and some bad news.
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Stand up and get to work

Categories: Like talking but with more typing, Now I'm free(lancing), Things you should be reading

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There was a whole slew of articles this past year about how those of us who sit at a desk all day are going to drop dead at any minute. Oh, I kid. It’s not quite that bad, but the statistics, nonetheless, were pretty horrifying: Sit at a desk for six or more hours a day, and your risk of dying in the next fifteen years is 40% higher compared to those who spend the bulk of their time on their feet. That’s a sobering thought, no?

If you haven’t seen it yet, and you want the quick visual rundown, Mashable did a great infographic on the topic that kind of gives you the highlights. Basically, the human body is not designed to sit for long periods of time. Even exercising hasn’t been shown to mitigate the deleterious effects of long-term sitting.

And the cut-off point that I keep hearing is 6 hours. Truth? I probably sit at my desk for closer to 9 or 10 hours each day. And when I’m done, what do I do? I go sit at the table for dinner, and then I go sit on the couch for a few hours.
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QR codes for bloggers: ZOMG or WTF?

Categories: Like talking but with more typing, Things you should be reading

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(Pictured here: My very own fancy-schmancy QR code to take you to my shopping blog, just in case typing “wantnot.net” is too onerous.)

Writing online for a living brings a certain level of expectation in terms of keeping up with technology trends. Sure, you could be a professional blogger and refuse to use Twitter, but it’s a great way to increase your readership. Similarly, you could opt not to utilize Facebook, but it’s an easy way to increase your visibility and audience interaction. Etc. Social media is now considered par for the course in its various incarnations for those of us who do our business online.

So when QR codes started appearing everywhere, I dutifully (okay, maybe I rolled my eyes a little) started looking into them. And I downloaded a QR scanner to my phone.

And then… I became seriously underwhelmed.
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Jack of all trades, master of… what?

Categories: Like talking but with more typing, Now I'm free(lancing)

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I’ve noticed more and more lately that freelance bloggers are becoming a scarcer species. And now you’re scratching your head, because isn’t everyone claiming to be a freelancer lately? Doesn’t everyone and their brother, cousin, and possibly poodle have a blog and a shingle out proclaiming themselves to be available for hire?

Well, yes. But also no.

What I’m seeing is a shift away from “I’m a freelance writer” to this weird sort of “I’m a social media expert.” I guess I shouldn’t say it’s weird; there likely are people who are social media “experts,” whatever that means, but the thing that feels weird to me is that… anyone can claim to be one. G’head, make yourself a Bingo card before you hit your next conference. Fill it in with “social media expert,” “social media guru,” “online strategist,” “engagement specialist” and the like. I’d wager you’ll have it filled in in no time flat.

So what does this mean for those of us who consider ourselves—first and foremost—writers? Are we expected to do more than write?
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The numbers game: Balancing worth, need and the long view

Categories: Like talking but with more typing, My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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Longtime readers know that every now and then I go on a little rampage about so-called professional freelancers who are willing to work for way less than a viable living wage, and how that impacts the field as a whole and can make it more difficult for those of us charging real rates to find employment. The truth of the matter is that I do believe in two cliches when it comes to this matter: First, that you get what you pay for, and second, that the cream has a tendency to rise.

In short: Yes, I wish everyone would work for reasonable pay, because it would make life easier for all of us, but I also believe that those of us who are true professionals justify our higher rates with quality work, and there will always be a market for that.

That said, there’s not too much of a problem as a seasoned professional when deciding whether or not to take a job that only pays $5/post (hint: hell no). But what about the job that pays just a little bit less than what you’re currently charging? What about the job that has the tendency to expand and fill more time, rendering the pay rate too low?

What about if you really need the money?
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The dubious start of my career

Categories: Like talking but with more typing, My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)

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Last week I asked y’all if there was something you’d like to hear about that I’ve not yet discussed, or that you’d like covered in more detail. To my surprise, the very first request came from Liz, who asked: “could you write a little about how you got started in freelancing? Like, the nuts and bolts of it - where did you find jobs, how did you get people to hire you, that kind of thing?”

My surprise doesn’t come from Liz asking, exactly, but more from the fact that apparently I’ve not talked about this before (or haven’t talked about it for a very long time). The catch-22 in nearly any profession is that you need experience to get hired, but you can’t get experience without a job. For a freelancer, it’s even harder, because there’s not exactly a plethora of “entry level freelancer” gigs out there for folks who want to make a go of solo work.

The truth is that my career as a freelance writer was launched in two simultaneous—but very different—ways, both of which happened simply because I went to my personal blog and basically announced that I was going to try to make a go of it as a freelancer.
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