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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Monthly Assessment: July 2012

What's on the iPod:  Sweeter by Gavin DeGraw


Some months I just can't stand making myself accountable for my earnings and marketing. This, however, is not one of those months. It was a month in which I'd met my target earnings before the middle of the month. What is usually the slowest time of the year for me -- late June through Labor Day -- has been my biggest earnings month in eight years. I don't know what let loose, but I hope to catch more of it.

Queries:
I sent one. I didn't have time to send any more. Still no word on it, but it's a new magazine market, so I'm not holding my breath.

LOIs:
None. No time to send them mainly because I didn't have one spare minute to cram one more project into the mix. I hope this doesn't come back to bite me, but I suspect not with my more recent agreements.

Existing clients:
Let's see -- four existing clients netted me a boatload of  projects. This month, I was writing four articles, a website, case studies, brochures, a radio script, and editing articles, websites, a business plan, and email blasts. Things slowed down slightly around the 12th, but then picked up again on the 17th, although slower than the break-neck pace of the previous six weeks. The biggest news is that a client I'd done a few small projects for is about to sign a retainer that will net 3/4 of my monthly target for the next five months.

New clients:
In total I'd say I worked with three new clients this month. Make that four--I had a resume client, as well. It was a blog comment I'd left about nine months ago that brought the newest client. So far I've done one project for them and have invoiced them for another that's about to begin. They're already talking more projects to complete.

Referrals:
None this month that I can remember.

Earnings:
I exceeded my monthly goal by 25 percent. I was shooting for doubling it, but I realized I'd be working too many hours and might sacrifice quality. Nope. That just means I have a great headstart to August.

Bottom line:
I wish I could show the guy who argued like crazy that his making $10 an article was much more lucrative than my making $2,000 an article. The basis of his argument was that I wasted entirely too much time and effort on marketing. Right. Spoken like a guy who doesn't know how to market.

That said, it pays to pave your road before driving on it. The conference work, the magazine work, and the contacts have all given me the majority of my work this month. That time spent away from the office in April has been a huge plus to the bottom line. I earned more from July 1 to July 31 than I've ever earned in a single month.

I'm not marketing, which bothers me a lot despite the invoice totals. Marketing is essential, and if I'm not careful, I'll be sitting without any work or money soon. I don't care how busy I am or how rosy things look now-- I've been on this roller coaster way too often to take it for granted that the work will be here. That means I'll spend August redirecting some of my efforts back into marketing.

How was your month? Are you finding that this summer is busier than most? Have you seen any uptick in the number of clients who are calling?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Serenity Now!

What's on the iPod: In Your Light by Gotye


The best thing - maybe the only thing - about working hard all weekend is when you actually accomplish something. We finished painting the guest bedroom. Once we sanded, moved out furniture, painted the ceiling, and decided on colors, we knocked out the painting in just six hours (two coats). We'd decided on a yellow that's almost eggshell and sage green trim on the windows and doors. We put the bed in a different spot and the result was transformative. It feels like a retreat, like a place you'd want to rest. I couldn't be happier with the results.

There wasn't time for much else this past weekend. I had to go out for the paint -- first to Sears because they sold us the original yellow (years and years ago). We were certain, since we'd just bought another gallon two years ago, that they'd be able to mix another for us. Right. I wasted 30 minutes while the helpful clerk tried unsuccessfully to color match -- and let me say that's the second time Sears has failed in the color-matching attempts. He wanted me to try again, but I'd had enough. I saw time ticking and my weekend window of opportunity closing. I went next door to Sherwin-Williams and picked up the trim paint. Then home without the wall paint.

He did a little research while I was gone. Turns out Sherwin-Williams now carries the colors and paints that Sears can't color match. He dashed out the door and made it just in time to get the wall paint before the store closed. We painted from 6 until 8:30, when my arms and his back gave out. Then up on Sunday to finish and start the trim. We headed off for brunch, then came home and painted. Just a few hours and we were done. We rewarded ourselves with Irish music at the pub.

And what a session it was! Normally close to empty on a Sunday in the summer, the place was packed. There had been a Celtic music camp weekend for younger kids that let out an hour before the sessions, and the students and families all packed in to the pub. Seventy-five or better people, but the music was fantastic. We had shown up shortly before they ended, but what little we heard was terrific. One fiddle player in particular -- a boy of about nine -- just astounds me with his talent. He'd played with the sessions in the past, and I'm always impressed by how much emotion you can feel in his playing.

No time for gardening or even dusting. Not that I care about that second thing, but the garden saw some much-needed rain and there are some weeds that have to come out. Maybe today after I get my article nearly finished.

This week is a short one. I'm off on Wednesday to Ontario to harass fish and laugh about it with my parents. So today is article, tomorrow is last interview for that article, and somewhere in there I may have to get another client project either roughed in or completed depending on the info they provide. A lot to accomplish, but I'm caffeinated and ready for it! Well, until the caffeine wears off.

How was your weekend? What does your to-do list look like this week?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Six Things Meditation Taught Me About Freelancing

What's on the iPod: I'm Shakin' by Jack White

If you missed Writers Worth this year, good news: I have a freebie for you. Yep -- FREE. When you sign up for the semi-regular, infrequent newsletter I send out, you get a free PDF version of all the posts from this year's celebration in one spot! I'll just up and give it to you! You're always free to leave the list, and I'm not into spamming or selling names, so your info isn't going anywhere else. Want the free ebook? Click here.

Surrender the ego. You simply cannot attain enlightenment if you're still attached to your ego and your worldly possessions. The same is true in business-- there's no room for ego when working with clients (well, no room for your ego). It's business. Any conflict should be filtered through a business perspective - never a personal one. Well, unless they've lit you on fire. Then it's personal.

Full concentration is a must. When meditating, you must shut out all outside noise, ignore anything that seeks to disrupt your concentration. When working with clients, you have to give them all of your attention; otherwise, it's going to show in the results.

Sanskara can be a bitch. Sanskara is the imprint of a prior experience on your mind that repeats in your life. For example, you keep meeting the same kind of man or woman (the one who keeps breaking your heart), you keep fighting similar battles that you have in the past, or those things you buried (pain and insecurities usually) come bubbling to the surface time and time again. The mind is trying to get you to confront and overcome the sanskara. The same goes for client interactions -- you'll come across people who will try like hell to cheat you, underpay you, push you around, whatever. If you develop a way to confront these situations, you'll overcome them.

Do no harm. I've had bloggers steal my posts. I've had clients cheat me out of money. I've had friends stab me in the back. The response is private - not public. It has to be. I could call out the blogger who's swiping my posts, but then I harm that person's career and the livelihood of that family. I could tattle publicly on bad clients, but then their employees would be at risk, too. I could snipe right back at a friend who's done me wrong. But then I've become just as bad. It's not a license to be walked on -- it's a consideration for what your actions will mean for everyone those actions touch. Put on a professional face to respond to professional slights. Remember, it's not personal.

Karma will come. Every action is answered for eventually. If I lie to you today, I could lose my reputation tomorrow when everyone on the Internet realizes it. If you steal my posts, enough people will find out and eventually you're going to be called out publicly. If that client takes my money, that business reputation will soon catch up with him or her. Each action is meaningful, and each action will alter your world in some way.

Practice makes perfect. Putting what's important in your life -- like meditating twice a day and practicing your asanas (yoga postures) -- helps you improve in time, and allows you to create and maintain a healthy life balance. Likewise, practicing your craft and dedicating yourself to improving your knowledge and skills  creates a healthier work ethic.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Simple Ways to Impress Clients

What's on the iPod: Little Boxes by Walk Off the Earth


I had something unusual yesterday - a really good day. Okay, maybe it's not that unusual, but I'm enjoying beyond belief this article I'm working on. The topic -- strange risks companies have to deal with. So far, I've talked to Procter & Gamble about Troy Polamalu's hair (insured for $1 million) and a UK coffee company, which has insured its coffee taster's tongue for $13.78 million.

And people wonder how I can love writing for trades. What's not to love about stories like those?

I was thinking about that as I was writing - how much I get into my work. I'm not writing things that are sexy. I mean, can you think of one single piece of a workers' compensation claim that's sexy or even remotely attractive? No one I know has ever been turned on by a return-to-work plan. Yet there are aspects of the writing gig that aren't necessarily in the gig itself that make the job fun -- it's you.

I took on this type of work in one of my first "What the hell" moments. It was a writing test (paid, of course) for the senior editor position I ended up scoring with the magazine. I was given a pages-long press release on restaurant ductwork and how to reduce fire threats. I had a decision to make. Either I wrote it in the most authoritative tone I could, or I chose my own path and wrote it the way I'd want to read it. So I chose my own path, muttered, "Ah, what the hell..." and started writing.

That's exactly how I landed the job - by doing what all writers should do when facing that same situation. I showed my personality and my creativity. If you're writing anything at all (well, except maybe disclaimers and legal papers, though they might be more fun to read if someone bothered to add some humor), you should be injecting your own sense of creativity into it.

It's also a super way to impress your clients -- but actually being more creative. Strange, but I've seen so many writers, of nonfiction pieces especially, think they have to fall within some sort of invisible parameter and hold back on the good stuff.

So when it comes to impressing clients, start with that:

Write like you're a writer. I could have had a nice, boring little story about unusual risks --global warming, green construction, fine arts collections, blah blah... or I could look for things that are so strange you can't possibly miss them. Like the guy who insures oil spill response teams. Or the woman who has to cover risks coming from political activists. Or the man who tracks down coverage for tour companies that includes loss of life due to cannibalism. You're creative, people! So go create something you want to read!

Listen. Really listen. Pretend your client is about to give you the secret to winning a million dollars. That's the level of attention you want to give them when they're describing what they want and who they are. Know them before you even put fingers to the keyboard, and ask yourself "If I owned this company, what level of attention would I put into this project?" Then act accordingly.

Infuse honesty. If they ask your opinion of their web content or their newsletters, don't say how great everything looks if it looks awful. Tell them - tactfully - how things can improve. You can still be honest without being brutal, so keep all the language positive: "The content seems to miss the mark a bit, but it's an easy fix."

Organize your emails. Know those emails that come with bullet points and brief, to-the-point messages that make them easy to read? Try that with your clients. When you're sending them a note, avoid the brain dump. Or, if you simply have to pour it onto the page, do it, but go back and use bullets, which seem to force you to cut the content down anyway. Some of the best emails I've received are from people who break out the questions into bullets, or show me progress in the same listed fashion. Try it. Even if you're the most unorganized person walking, your clients will think you invented streamlining.

Push them just to the edges of their comfort zone. I did this for a car industry client that was looking to infuse its marketing content with something more noticeable. I stuck to their company "voice" document, but I pumped up the messaging to the point where they used three "really" qualifiers in front of the word "love." It wasn't hard and I didn't do anything extraordinary. I just pushed them toward more edgy wording. Depending on the client and the message, you can, too.

In what ways are you impressing clients?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why They'll Pay You

What's on the iPod: Numb by The Airborne Toxic Event

Good day yesterday. The first session of the webinar went well - we had great questions from our attendees! I was glad I talked fast and was done a bit early, because there were plenty of questions to fill up the extra time. If you're interested, there's still time to catch the second half of the webinar tomorrow. Click here and join us! Plus you'll get a recording of the first session and a PDF of the slides I'm using.

I had a ton of smallish things to get done before and after the webinar. I had one more interview for my article, and I got an invoice out, plus checked up on a few of my outstanding projects. Also, I had time to go over invoices. I'm going to be one happy little camper when they're all paid. A great month, and next month is shaping up into a similar situation.

It makes me wonder why I waited so long to raise my rates. I've given myself two raises in nine years. That's not good--even 9-to-5 worker bees get at least 3 percent every year.

So why not us?

Because we're chicken. Some writers worry that springing a larger per-hour rate on clients will have them running for the exits. A sensible concern on the surface. Here's why that's not so:

Good clients will pay what you're worth. Have I not preached myself hoarse about valuing your work? There's a reason for that. Clients who are willing to pay a handsome rate do so because they realize your value. Isn't it time you realized it, too?

Those who don't pay aren't your clients. While that may sound like an arrogant statement, it's just a business fact. People who prefer paying 99 cents for McDonald's coffee aren't Starbucks' customers. It's not saying one is better than another (I'll let coffee drinkers debate that). It's saying that each company has positioned itself in a specific market with a specific price point. Decide who your clients are and at what price point they exist.

If you do it right, clients may not even notice. When my rates went up, most of my clients never realized it. I didn't advertise it. I simply rolled that additional fee into any new project estimate. I've gotten out of the habit somewhat (not entirely) of not advertising my hourly rate. Clients may want to know, but it's not much help  to them. I can tell them "I charge $125 an hour" but it's more helpful to tell them "The project will take eight hours and will cost $1,000." They can budget against that. Don't lie if they ask, but know that their main concern is the bottom line. Get to that as quickly as possible.

When was your last raise? Are you earning at or near what you should? Do you know what it is you should be making?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

When Time is Short and Projects are Long

What's on the iPod: Nothing -- no time to listen!


Today is the Trade Magazine webinar! If you've ever wanted to learn how to make your mark in a lucrative industry, sign up here and join us at noon ET/ 9 am PT. You get two sessions plus a free month in the Five Buck Forum.

It was a day of phone calls. Where I thought I'd have one call, I had four. I hate phone calls because they usually interrupt the schedule. I don't mind scheduling them, and can plan for that. It's those unplanned ones that get to me. Then there were the proposals for two clients -- one was finished. The other had to wait until today. I simply ran out of time.

Today I have the first of the webinar sessions, then I must get my article started. I have a beginning and summary in mind. Just need the middle part. ;-) I have one interview to conduct, then I hope to have time to get back to that other proposal.

I was explaining to one client why the proposal had such a long completion date. I'm about to head out of town on a short vacation, (four days), and I didn't want them looking at the deadlines and wondering why it was taking me weeks to do the first drafts. In fact, this month and next will be wild with projects and time off. I have the Aussies here for three days near the end of August (so excited to see them again!) and I simply will not work when I have company who have come so far to see us.

But it may not work for the clients. So what can a writer do when actual living gets in the way of making a living?

Suggest alternatives. I proposed a three-week timeline for this project. It may not take that long depending on my other work. If that timeline doesn't work for them, either, I intend to ask if September is better. I have a few days off then, but I intend to work through that small trip (family wedding).

Recommend other writers. While it may be dangerous to do with new clients (who may see you as someone who's expendable), it's okay with established clients to offer interim help while you're gone. Right now I'm covering for a writer who's in Paris for an MFA course (lucky woman!). If her clients need help, I'm the back-up help until she returns. Do yourself a favor -- locate the right fit and clear it with the other writer before you tell your client.

Say no.
 Not to the company or the vacation, but to the project. If they're rigid in their deadlines (and all clients  have their reasons for needing things done on a certain timeline), it's okay to thank them, explain you haven't the time to devote to the gig right now, and walk away.

What do you do when the work or projects exceed your own ability to take it all?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Work as Rest

What's on the iPod: Keep Yourself Warm by Frightened Rabbit


What a productive weekend! First, we headed to New Jersey for a meditation mini-retreat. The weather cooperated -- it was a beautiful, cooler day in the high 70s/low 80s with a nice breeze. We were in a Friends meeting house, which was air conditioned, but it was still nice to not have to rely on the AC so much. We had a wonderful day and I came home all blissed out.

Friday wasn't exactly the day off I'd planned. I worked most of the morning on small edits to two different projects, though it wasn't taxing to do so. One client -- a new client -- had an immediate need for revisions. Once the work was done, I went up to the guest room and got to work on my main objective -- stripping an ages-old wallpaper border from the room. Let me just say this; if you intend to put wallpaper up in your house, please either make sure it's strippable paper or don't sell your house to me.

It wasn't as bad as it could have been, but I'm hurting in places I didn't know I had. Four hours total to get the border off a smallish room, all working overhead and, in a few place, on tiptoes on the ladder. It's tedious, not labor-intensive. Spray on the remover (Dif by Rustoleum worked like a dream!), wait, go back and peel it off with your fingers or a plastic scraper. Since the border was about 20 years old, it was already a bit dry and lifted in spots, making it easy to get it off. I finished the job Sunday around noon.

Then came the sanding. The house came with builders-grade paint in a "lovely" shade of dull parchment, so it's got to go. However, they sprayed it on with what feels like sand embedded, so I had to go over the whole wall with a sanding block. And the trim -- all gets painted. Then I had to get down from the ladder. I hadn't had but one meal that day and it wasn't enough. So I had a tea-and-scone break, then he and I went over paint samples. I have my heart set on Smokestain Rose. He's leaning me toward a lovely light peach we have in the master bath. As tired as I was, I was ready to agree to anything but the color that was already up there.

We're still mulling it over. We have a little time. Our Australian guests don't arrive until the end of August, and by then it will be done, the closet cleaned out, the furniture decided on, and the carpet steamed. I'd love to have the wood floors in there by then, but the carpet is in good shape, so no sense adding more to my list.

Today I have an article to start, a website editing to start, and a client call. I'm glad to be sitting down. After such a labor-intensive weekend, work is rest!

How was your weekend?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Random Friday Hoo Haa

What's on the iPod: Marry Song by Band of Horses


What a day yesterday. I had a talk with a new client, who hired me for immediate work. It's good, but I'm not getting my main project any closer to completion by taking on more need-it-now work. I spent a few hours after getting their project sorted to dig for sources on my article. I'm getting there.

It's been quite a week, so I'm thinking today is a good day to play hookie. The Away message is going up and I'm going to decide by the minute how I'm spending the day. I know tomorrow we'll be in New Jersey for a mini meditation retreat (I nearly typed "medication" -- Freud would love that), so today is my "off" day.

Just some random things to share with you:

New York Times article on Free Courses: A writer friend sent the link over. I'm hooked -- these are top universities offering free courses. Why the heck wouldn't you? The courses are administered through Coursera.

Word 2013 is, well, odd. I may be able to get over the weird interface in time (I did with Word 2007), but right now I'm fumbling my way around the entire Office 2013 suite beta preview. I finally found out how to lose the stupid graphic they have at the top of every application -- Amen! It's distracting to have "calligraphy" or "circuits" cluttering up the tool bar. But I'm in love with the instant connection to the cloud.

My latest client hired me because of a blog comment. Swear to God I don't even remember making a comment on their site, but apparently I did just that about nine months ago. So far, that one comment has netted me just over $2K. In one day. Wow.

The Trade Magazine Writing Webinar is something I'm really proud of. Okay, you don't have to sign up (but if you want to, go here). I'm just glad the first round of attendees loved it enough to rave about it enough to cause Anne and me to do it again. I worked my heart out on that one, and I'm glad to see people getting value from it.

There are days I seriously miss my hometown friends. No one knows you like the people you grew up with, and no one has that same understanding of those regional quirks. I've had more than enough of selfish people with hidden agendas. I long for people who are genuine.

If I had a nickel for everyone who wanted my overflow work, hmm... I think I've just realized how to make a ton of money without lifting a finger. LOL But seriously, I've had people in full-time jobs say "If you ever need someone..."

What are your random thoughts today?


PS -- Got a freebie for you! Hot off the PDF presses, A Month of Writers Worth! All the posts that inspired and made you think are now in one place -- and did I mention it's free? Click on the link at the top left of this page. Sign up for my semi-regular newsletter (usually just once a month) and it's yours!

Already subscribe? Just send me a note and I'll send a copy over to you.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fight or Flight

What's on the iPod: Itchin' on a Photograph by Grouplove


Don't forget--next week is the Trade Magazine webinar! Sign up here and get the two-session series. 


A slow, slightly frustrating day yesterday. I did get done all I had to, but little of what I wanted to. I have an article due that's hanging over me like an anvil in a bad Road Runner cartoon. I know exactly what I want to write, but I lack the expert sources to finish it. I don't want to call it dead because that's not who I am. I'm about to get on the phone and start dragging information out of people.

Recently I was relating an incident that happened years ago involving a lawyer who wasn't communicating with me at all. I fired him, stating quite clearly in my letter why, why I wouldn't be paying the fee he never earned, and where to send my file, including my new attorney's address. His response was comical at best: he had said "I understand that you don't have the money to pay me. Therefore, I've reduced my fee to further accommodate your limited budget. I have sent a note to (new attorney) asking him to counsel you regarding payment of your outstanding bill to me."

Right.

The response my new attorney suggested was this: Ignore him. I did. Never heard from him again.

It was a tactic to try trapping me into paying a fee he hadn't lifted a finger for. He knew he couldn't make it stick, as did my new attorney, so it was just lip service.


Yet there are times when clients try to serve up their version of a situation as fact, and in most cases, you don't want to ignore them necessarily. Why? Because clients, not hearing any objection, may take your silence as assent.  


So when I had a case once where the client called into question my instincts and work process, I spelled out my version so that there were no misunderstandings. She'd thought I should have known everything about her business from the few marketing pieces she wanted me to revise. I told her that unless the information that was missing is conveyed to me, I couldn't really read her mind. I said it nicely, but I made it known that telepathy is not one of my skills.

So how do you clear up a client's perception of your work or your skills?

Ignore. Even though there are times you shouldn't ignore it, there are times, like at the end of a very bad client relationship, where what they think of you doesn't matter one iota. If the relationship is ending because it was a nightmare caused by a bad client, let it go. Save your energy for finding a new, more appreciative client.

Accommodate. If your client thinks you didn't understand because you didn't do a thorough interview to find out his company's mission, offer to do one at revision time. There's a chance you didn't have the information because neither you nor the client realized there was a need for a deeper conversation.

Combat. No, don't go out hunting for a fight. Do what I did - clear up the misconception by showing your interpretation of the situation. If your client has made a judgment based on one-sided information, show him your side. Like in the case of my client who expected a mind reader, there's a good chance they don't realize how little help they were to you.

Cooperate. Probably the best solution to clearing up any client misconception is by bringing your client to your side by asking for help. "I hadn't realized you had more to say than just that. Can you help me understand a little better what it is you want to say?"

When a client has an entirely different perception of your work than you do, how do you handle it?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wednesday Workshops

What's on the iPod: Ten Thousand Words by The Avett Brothers


Did I really just have a day where I wasn't running full throttle? I can't tell you how refreshing it was to get done all those small projects I've been putting off until I had time. I even had extra time to record an interview and get the Writers Worth ebook completed. If you want a copy of the posts from this year's Writers Worth celebration, click here.

I will say there's more than a little guilt at being able to take it at a slower pace. It's true -- people do get addicted to stress, for I had a load of work on my desk since Jun 4th and I'm used to plowing through it all. Now that there's a gap in the workload, I keep thinking I'm forgetting something.

I had time yesterday to download the preview version of Office 2013. Aside from having to get used to yet one more damn set of changes to my favorite functions (I'm still wrangling with setting bullet formats in 2007), this may be a better alternative to what I'm running now. I'm a little concerned with the graphics "noise" that seems a bit too cluttered around the edges of Word and Outlook, but I love to death the fact that I can now save my documents directly to the SkyDrive cloud. Amen. It's what Microsoft started to do with their beta program Office Live (and I've yet to forgive them for dumping that, though this may help).

It's Wednesday, and I'm thinking about workshops. Here are a few for you to consider:

31 Days to Trade Magazine Profits: Back for an encore, join Anne Wayman and me for this two-session webinar designed to get you earning in the trade magazine market. July 24 and 26

Tarot and Writing: Devon Ellington cooks up this deliciously decadent way of character development, breaking through writer's block, and building some fascinating story plots. Sept. 4 - Dec. 3

 Podcast as a Tool: Sounds like a good one from the folks at Writer's Digest. On demand


Independent Publishing: How to Start your Own Self-Publishing Business: That says it all, doesn't it? Starts every Friday

Measuring Your Social Media Impact: A neat webinar to help writers understand how to measure social media results and build better marketing strategies. Nov. 9

What webinars have you attended that were real standouts? Share a link here.
Did you ever attend one you didn't like? 



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Technology Rocks

What's on the iPod: Ten Thousand Words by The Avett Brothers


Don't forget--next week is the Trade Magazine webinar! Sign up here and get the two-session series.  

Yesterday was an unexpected break from the madness that has been my last two months. I had two phone calls scheduled that never occurred, and while that should bother me, I was happy for the break. I finished an article, researched another article, was interviewed by another writer, and went to the bank to deposit checks. Amen.

Also, I went shopping for voice recognition software. I'm so glad I read reviews, because through a review, I found out that my computer is already equipped with speech recognition software. I plugged in a headset and started talking. The result--this post. Apparently, all new Windows 7 machines are equipped with it. Thank you, Bill Gates, for you've just saved me 99 bucks.

For the most part the software seems to work just fine. There are a few misspellings, which once I get over that, it's pretty easy to use. What I don't like is that it takes twice as long for me to get a post written. It's going to take some practice.

Someone asked me yesterday how writers can avoid insecurity and gain confidence. Here are a few ways I can think of to increase your worth week in yourself:

Shift your perspective.  Think of yourself not as a writer but as a business. If rejection is what you are afraid of, then consider it a business dealing not a personal rejection.

Go into protection mode.  You wouldn't let a stranger hurt your child. Treat your business like your child. Protect it from bad deals, unscrupulous people, and mistreatment.

Stop answering ads. Nothing makes you more insecure than not knowing how much you will earn. Stop letting other people determine your rate. Instead, find your own clients and state your own rate to them. When you allow others to set your rate, you lose control of your business.

Set goals. When you know where you're going, it's easier to feel secure in your decisions. Sent a financial goal and create a plan to reach that goal.

Hang it out with other writers. Want to adopt your stronger perspective sooner? Then befriend those who have already gained confidence in their abilities.

How did you gain confidence? What helps you to build confidence? How long were you working before you felt secure in your decisions? 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Disabled

What's on the iPod: Through the Dirt and the Gravel by We Were Promised Jetpacks


Lovely, albeit hot weekend. Early Saturday morning I drove to northwestern Connecticut to see my son and his girlfriend. The drive was beautiful -- just a little rain as I was leaving home -- and I was able to put the roof down and enjoy the summer breezes. My son had a full day planned. We fished (I caught my first trout), we ate, we walked and we went to the carnival in town, though that lasted just three minutes. Too geared toward young children. I was able to see his new house, which he should be in by Christmas. We spent some time at the river Sunday while they exercised their springer spaniel, who's part fish. Then I drove home on an overcast day -- perfectly comfortable to drive in -- and watched it get increasingly hotter as I got closer to home.

One thing I had to contend with was an unexpected, extra-painful case of carpal tunnel syndrome. I mouse with my left hand to avoid shoulder strain on my right side, and recent bad habits has caused to back of that hand to swell and ache like mad. I've gradually lost strength in it, but by Friday it was excruciating. The mouse is already on the right side of the keyboard, where I intend to keep it until this simmers down.

But now I have to work with a minor disability. It's going to take time to get used to the new mouse and keyboard positions. Today the hand is looking puffy, but not as bad as it was. The pain has subsided some.

It brings up a big concern. How do you work when you're injured or ill? Illness -- short-term stuff -- is a bit easier to deal with. You simply get extensions where you can and push through when you're able. But if you break an arm, a finger, a hip -- how do you operate as a writer? How can you do your job normally without one of your must-have tools?

If this continues, here's how I plan to get through:

Software. I've been looking for an excuse to buy Dragon Naturally Speaking anyway, and now may be a great time. The less I have to type, the better. But a speech-to-text application will alleviate the need to type with a sore hand.

Medical aids. I'm shopping for a wrist brace. It's not my wrist that hurts, but having something on my arm will force me to remember to stay aligned and slow down a bit. Until I find that brace, I'm using an Ace bandage.

Modified duties. In worker's compensation cases, the employers try to keep employees engaged in the job by giving them lighter duties. In my case, instead of typing, I'll schedule phone calls, research some new client prospects, and consciously shift away from the keyboard to more mind-specific tasks.

Time off. Hello! Aren't we allowed time off for injury, too? Sure, it hits our wallets more than the average worker, but sometimes a day without working is exactly what's needed. I have two things to type today, then I'm resting this hand.

Have you had to work through an injury? How did you manage your workload?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Organized Chaos

What's on the iPod: Blunderbuss by Jack White


Yesterday was one of those days where I thought I'd have plenty of time to get one thing done, but of course didn't. I started with interviews -- had to get through them so I could get the article finished. But husband was home with his own case of poison ivy and some inflammation. Then a press release project came in. Then a question on a finished project. Then communication with another client.

Today. By God, today that article is getting done.

I organize my days, my time, and my work space well. What I don't do is organize my piles around the house. Where once I was a fanatic about housecleaning and everything being in its place, I'm now prone to dropping things and thinking "I'll sort that later." An example: the beach bag is sitting in the foyer and has been there for two weeks. Why? Because I don't know where to put it. It has sunblock in it, which I use constantly, and if it goes upstairs I'll be running up all the time for it. If it stays downstairs, at least I'll know where it is (because I'm tripping over it).

Don't say the obvious -- take the sunblock out of the bag and put the bag away. I know. I just haven't. Yet. Again, I might decide to head off to the shore and I can see myself getting there and having to buy yet another bottle of sunblock (we're up to about six now) because I left the bottle by the back door.

I know I won't do that. But I don't want to think about it. Bigger fish to fry and all that.

I'm reminded of this because as I headed to the study this morning, my husband stopped me three times (and it's not that far of a walk) to ask where this was going, where that belonged, and why didn't I put this in the basement? He's afflicted with what we call "Saturday Mode" -- every weekend, he sorts through piles and cleans off surfaces.

My piles. Everyone else's surfaces. His? Cluttered as hell.

I'd laugh, but I'm the same way. I don't see my own chaos. I see the chaos of others. It's just easier, isn't it? I can't find the answering machine in the kitchen because his stack of "must have" papers and sale ads (one I know is from November) blocks it. I have to move another pile from the window ledge when I water plants. He has to move my cell phone charger every morning so the toaster doesn't burn through the cord.

We are organized - just not about our own messes.

So in true behavior-modification style, I'm setting a goal for myself; I'm going to deal with my clutter and avoid Saturday Mode as much as possible. This applies to my work space and my schedule, too.

Touch it once. Those papers that come in, those salesy things that catch my eye, or that statement I have to save. Instead of setting it on the counter next to the toaster (and thus losing my cell phone in the pile), I'm going to make a decision on those papers and act on them. Immediately. If it needs to be filed, I'm not going to bring it into the study and fling it on my desk. I'm putting it away. Or I'm going to....

Use the chair. It's one of the things I picked up from working in an office. If we wanted someone to see something and they weren't in their office when we dropped by, we'd put it on their chair. I use it around here for everyone. Everyone's mail is "delivered" to their chairs. Works beautifully. Well, until they pile the mail on the table. But if I have a paper that can't be filed but must be further dealt with (like a tax bill that I have to pay online), I put it on my desk chair. In the morning, I will deal with it -- well, unless I toss it on the desk and panic a week later when it's not paid. But no. This is about how I'm going to stop doing that.

Allot five minutes for organizing. Even that may be too much time, but if I designate a certain five minutes every day (and I know me -- I'm going to have to put it on Outlook Calendar to remember) to just organizing one pile or a few items, I'll be in much better shape.

Stay the course. He makes fun of me because when I get going in one direction or on one project, there's no diverting me. But in true Aquarius-rising fashion, I contradict that behavior when I'm working. I'm easily distracted by new requests, by emails, by the mail truck passing..... I need to stay on task. Pretend someone is trying to get me to stop what I'm doing to help clean something. That ought to motivate me.

So how organized are you? And why do you think other people's messes bother us more than our own?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Beat of Your Own Drum

What's on the iPod: Eyes Wide Open by Gotye


Just 12 more days before the Trade Magazine Webinar begins! Don't miss out on this two-part series that shows you how to build a trade magazine career. Click here for more info.


I'm not sure I know how to relax anymore. I spent much of yesterday working on one project, not seven. I had time to eat lunch. I had time to get the mail. I had time to call my mother.That felt very weird. I looked back on my posts of the last month or so and most days I was running from project to project. I'm a bit tired.

I received a very nice note from a blog reader who thanked me for the content. He's new to freelance writing and said he'd been researching how to get started. Music to my ears! I love when someone is serious about the job and takes control of it right from the get-go. He also said he's come across a lot of what he calls "information constipation" -- useless bits of information that parrot this expert or that expert. This guy will go far, for he's already discovered one of the primary necessities of freelancing -- recognizing when something doesn't fit.

It's more than that in this case. It's knowing where the value in the information provided is, and knowing when to avoid lemming-like behavior. We were all beginners once. We've all seen, heard, copied, and mimicked styles from experts, and maybe from some so-called experts who really don't offer anything new.

Sometimes it takes building your own chops before you realize crap when it's put before you on a platter.

It's no secret I march to my own drumbeat. That's gotten me into trouble often enough, but it's also allowed me to build my career my way. While I could sure do without the burn marks from too many lessons learned the hard way, I have come away from each bad experience with a stronger sense of how to protect myself and my business. Still, I could have avoided a good deal of trouble had I been someone's disciple, so to speak. Though I'm not totally convinced of that. In fact, I'm pretty sure my "lone wolf" approach has saved me a lot of mistakes that come from following blindly someone's very personalized advice.


So if I were to be bold enough to give you advice on following your own path (and I am because hey, I can't help myself), I'd say this about it:


The truth shall set you free. What I really can't stand is the "rosy picture" or "doomsday" experts. (Note: I'm using "experts" with a heavy dose of sarcasm. Imagine quotes around each instance.) Either freelancing is "Easy easy EASY!" or "Freelancing is dead-- don't expect anything." Ah, but the truth? That's yours to define, for no one can know your truth. Maybe for them it is all smiles and giggles or all thunder clouds and migraines. But that may not be your reality (sure as hell isn't mine).


Cliches and catch phrases don't attract clients. Aren't you just a little tired of hearing the latest version of some expert's recycled advice and motivators repeated endlessly? While they're busy inspiring you and pumping you full of whatever crud some real expert said, you could be busy defining your own style, your own approach, and your own mission statement. 


If the shoe fits, it's your shoe. Early on in my own career beginnings, I grew weary quickly of reading advice that just didn't fit. Worse, the advice was applied with a shoehorn, cramming me into that size 6 of a career when I was clearly destined for size 8. I decided to take what I read and improve on it. I made it my own. I built what I thought was a pretty darn good business, marketing, and accountability plan that seems to work. Will it work for you? Maybe, but only if you take what works and discard what doesn't. There's no such thing as you MUST do it this way or you CAN'T do it that way. Hogwash. Do it your way. Build your own shoe.


Earnings are entirely personal. I love watching freelancers go from just starting out to earning six figures in a few years. What I don't love is predicting -- and having my prediction come true -- of what will happen next. The ebook. The course on How I Did It. I don't mind that someone is willing to share how they did it. What I mind very much is when that information is presented as THE ONLY way to do it. What's missing is this -- not every writer needs to make six figures, nor do they necessarily want to do it by taking on projects that don't interest them just because they're told to in some book or webinar. What you make in your career is your business. If you want to make six figures, go for it! If you're more than happy with less, follow your heart.


Screaming makes your throat sore. And isn't very attractive. I see a bit of desperation in marketing messages that have tons of exclamation points or have what I call Adverb Overload. If they have to shout, the message isn't all that strong, in my opinion. I've never liked those marketing experts who claim that one more adverb or two more bolded phrases are going to seal the deal. My own marketing relies on actual facts, accomplishments, and examples. I'm not lacking for work. And I'm not shouting.

What do you enjoy most about following the beat of your own drum? How do you use advice you receive? 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wednesday Workshop Links

What's on the iPod: The Rifle's Spiral by The Shins

Yesterday was unexpectedly, blessedly slower. The pace up to this point has been break-neck speed with no pit stops. I was glad for a small reprieve. I wrote a radio script, pitched another magazine query, researched two current article projects, and wrote a few blog posts for two of my websites. A good day.

I had something that I hadn't had in nearly a month, too -- time. I was able to cruise blogs and websites I've been missing for some time. It was a great time to slow down and actually read something instead of seeing the feed and thinking "I hope I have five minutes later to comment."

I've decided to start something here once a week or so -- links to resources where writers can get a bit more training. It's one thing to read a blog post -- it's entirely another to plunk down money and get firsthand exposure to techniques, new ideas, or enhancements to one's current way of doing things.

So if you know of a session, course, workshop, or webinar that others need to know about, drop me a note. I'll do what I can to get them all posted each week.

Here are this week's notables:

Series Bible: Creation & Maintenance --Part of Devon Ellington's FAST & FUN series, this one-day, online seminar (this Saturday) gives you a mix of lectures, one-on-one commentary, brainstorming, and examples relating to character development. Plus you get a resource guide. Spend your 1pm-4pm ET this weekend learning how to maintain character traits in your fiction.

Trade Magazine Writing (redux) -- Anne Wayman and I presented this one back in March/April, and it's back by popular demand. We'll show you how to locate and approach trade markets, how to build your credibility, and how to develop a specialty, if you so choose. Two sessions -- Tuesday, July 24th and Thursday, July 26th. Both at 12 pm Eastern/9 am Pacific.

Essentials of Travel Writing -- A Writer's Digest University course, this one is six weeks in duration and literally walks you through writing your travel article. Starts tomorrow and runs through August 23rd.

Environmental Reporting -- Freebie from Poynter Institute that introduces you to environmental reporting, interviewing, and translating complex environmental studies into readable content. This is teaching good skills that will transfer to other writing areas, in my opinion. For $14.95 you can get personal support from the instructor.Self-guided course, no set course date.

What courses have you taken or are interested in taking?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Your Payment Terms

What's on the iPod: Backwards Walk by Frightened Rabbit


I'm chipping away at these projects. I made some serious headway on the article due next Monday, and I managed a few client email blasts. Also, I sent over a brief assessment of a client editing project. I've already warned them I'm up to my neck in it this week. Hopefully, if we can come to an agreement, work can start next week.

Also had a call to a client whose project is woefully late in wrapping up. I get that we all have busy lives -- I sure do. But it's time to get changes sorted and get the bill paid.

That brings up an important point -- when the client should pay. Every writer has a different system, and every writer at one time or another has an issue getting payment no matter the system. Here are some payment options. Which one you choose depends on what works best for you, and at what price point your clients are at. There are pros and cons to every method.

Thirty days from invoice date. It was my policy until recently to give clients the benefit of 30 days to get things through their accounting departments. Most accounting departments work on a 30-day cycle. However, waiting that long can mean you're left without cash for a significant period.


Fifteen days from invoice date. Much better. It brings you well within a manageable time frame and gets your money to you faster. However, not all clients are able to pay that quickly (see above). Accounting departments often call the shots, as do clients who'd rather keep money in escrow building interest much longer.


Due upon receipt. If you accept electronic payments and work with clients who are used to paying that way, it's instant gratification. However, there are fees associated with PayPal and other instant-payment portals, and with credit card payments. And I wouldn't advise giving out your savings account routing number to too many people. I've never quite trusted that that is a safe way to get money from a client.

A portion due up front. Highly recommended because if your client is one who's intent on stiffing you, you'll at least get something for your troubles. Make it half if you can, and no less than one-third the total due. However, smaller projects and magazine gigs just aren't worth it or aren't going to accept that arrangement (magazines won't usually).

Discounts for early payments. Want to get that money faster? Give them a percentage off their bill if they pay within 14 days. My local tax office offers a two-percent discount if I pay my taxes before August 31st. Why not apply that to your clients? However, you need to factor that discount into your earnings formula. If every client pays early, you'll lose two percent of your income annually. Just make sure your discount is conducive to your earnings goals.

What are your payment terms? 

Monday, July 09, 2012

Weekend Errands

Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones


It's nice to have a weekend that creates enough of a diversion to push all thoughts of work out of the way. That's how my weekend was. My plan of heading to Atlantic City to splash in the waves was trumped by dangerously oppressive heat. In my travels on Saturday, I noticed the thermometer in the car hitting 109 a few times. Obviously from parking-lot heat, but it "cooled" to 101 and stayed there as I was driving.

Despite the heat, I was outside much of the weekend. It was my errand weekend -- farmer's market, Home Depot, Sherwin Williams, the local nursery, even Walmart, which I rarely visit. The bonus was as we were out, we stopped at the local smoothie cafe. It's become my new favorite haunt.

Even our First Friday outing was too hot to enjoy. Since it was a vacation week for many, we had lots of parking options and town wasn't as packed as usual. There were still bands on every street -- I counted five -- and there were stands and vendors setting up shop on the sidewalks. The outside cafes, however, were pretty much abandoned for A/C inside the restaurants.

Saturday we went off to a lighting store, where I found a much-needed lampshade for a lamp I'd picked up at a flea market. We also decided on lighting for the study and he was able to find a lampshade that would work with his Svenskt Tenn floor lamp. Not an easy find at all, so we were thrilled to happen upon exactly what we needed.

The rains came and lasted a whopping fifteen minutes. The garden is still dry and cracked. The lawn is still "crispy" under foot, and everything is gasping for water. I'm not one to waste water on lawns, but I found myself trying to revive the worst part of the yard. It was also a great opportunity to drag a lawn chair under the sprinkler where I could....keep an eye on things. It was gloriously cold.

What the rain did do was knock the temps down a few notches. Yesterday was a more manageable 95, and today is expected to stay in the 80s. It was overcast yesterday, which helped, and so far today the sun isn't blazing. Let's hope it stays that way.

Today I have to sprint to get it all done. I have a 60-second script to get done, four email blasts, then another interview (I hope) for an impromptu article due next Monday. Also, I have another article to start and finish by August 3rd. I just wish I could get some responses from my Profnet query. I may have to dig deeper for sources.

I feel relaxed. It was a nice weekend. I'm hoping for a productive week.

How was your weekend?

Friday, July 06, 2012

Getting Paid on Time

What I'm reading: House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski
What's on the iPod: Sore Thumb by We Were Promised Jetpacks

Finally -- I made some progress on the pile of projects. My third article is waiting for some key quotes, but it's finished a week ahead of schedule. The next one has a source lined up and some research links already sorted. I'll be digging into that today. I have another project that must be started today, and I'm still waiting word on a project I thought was sorted, but now may not be. Not sure what's going on, but I've no time to keep asking, so onward. And there's the matter of the fourth article, which has yet to garner any interest from the industry experts. I'll do a little more research and then reframe the query.

I'm about to levy a late fee to one client who hasn't gotten back to me on a project that was delivered a month ago. We've talked since then, but there's been no finalization despite our best intentions. Time to punctuate the point.

It's been a while since I've had to deal with a delinquent invoice. I put in place an invoicing/collection process that so far, has worked perfectly. Here's what I do. Feel free to adapt it to fit your own style:

Set a follow-up date. While I have my calendar up, I mark on it a date two weeks from my deadline. That's when I will get in touch with the client if I've not already heard back.

Send the first invoice. If it's a project waiting for feedback, the invoice will go out with that follow-up note. If not, it goes out with the project. I've often attached it to the project email, but I've been known to send it separately in cases where it's say a blog post that's written a month out and may not be opened right away.

Send a warning shot. If there's a lack of communication, I'll make sure to send a note explaining that within the next week the late fee is coming. I usually word it like this: "I just wanted to let you know that we're coming quite close to the point where I attach late fees to the outstanding invoice." And then some personal note about getting things sorted so that doesn't happen.

Attach the first late fee. They get two chances from me. The first one is thirty-one days out. That's when the first late fee is added. I make sure to bold the change and alert them to it in the note.

Change the pattern of communication. If I've had issues all along with the client being slow to respond to emails (perhaps they travel a lot), I'll call. Or vice versa. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, especially where late fees are concerned. But don't take that to mean I'm going to forget about getting paid.

Send the last invoice. It is the last, for on it are the words "Please pay within 10 days to avoid litigation." Recently, I've changed up when this goes out. To me ninety days is entirely too long to wait for payment. If they don't pay within 60 days, they're not intending to pay without being pushed. I now send out the last invoice ten days after the second one is sent, and I let them know on the second invoice that they have just ten days before they incur another (final) late fee.

Stuff happens. Even clients with the best intentions forget to send the invoice along to accounting or lose it entirely in email. That's what follow-up notes help cure. I've been known to send them out just before sending a second invoice. For you, do what feels comfortable and what fits with the client situation. Keep it consistent with each client, but know that there are times when you may want to make an exception. Just don't make it your practice to do so every time there's a payment problem.

How do you handle late payments? Do you charge late fees? If so, how do you secure them? Or are you content with collecting the original invoiced amount? What was the longest you ever chased an invoice?

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Rewarding Yourself

What's on the iPod: Turning Tables by Adele


Wow. That was short-lived. I was able to spend exactly three hours on Tuesday relaxing. Then four new projects came in, three of which are due next week. One is a 2K-word article. Marathon time again.

Yesterday was a nice mid-week break. There are benefits to living in Valley Forge besides spending plenty of time in the park on the trails. Yesterday the park hosted a community picnic. We talked to rangers we normally see driving around the area, and got to learn about the wildlife, including the coyotes that I didn't know were there. The highlight for certain was hearing "Thomas Jefferson" recite the Declaration of Independence. Nothing stirs your patriotism like hearing that read aloud.

Despite the workload of late, I didn't forget to reward myself for those last three and a half weeks of non-stop work. I spent my lunch hour at the mall where I picked up some new pants and a skirt at Gap. But then right home again to work on one of the projects.

The reward part is often the difference between a happy freelancer and a burned-out one. Imagine working hard for 12 months straight and not allowing yourself a vacation or even a long weekend. Imagine two months of that without one hour to yourself. It's not hard to see how quickly your mood could drop.

Just because you can work anytime and all the time doesn't mean you should. Find ways to give yourself a break, a treat, or a reward for a goal met.

Buy those shoes. Or that hockey stick or the pants you've been needing. For smaller goals, I usually reward myself with nail polish or ice cream. That works as a pick-me-up when the budget is tight and you're losing steam.

Give yourself five more minutes on Facebook. My spare time goes right to one of three things -- Bejeweled Blitz, Spider Solitaire, or Ancestry.com. I don't make apologies for needing play time, nor should you. Finish that bear of a project and go play. You've earned it.

Treat yourself or your partner. When I'm flush with project earnings, I want to treat him to dinner or movies or even a weekend getaway. Make sure the significant other(s) who has lost that time with you gets it back in some way.

Splurge. I remember splurging after finishing a $12K project. I went straight to the mall and replaced a tired wardrobe. Maybe you'd rather spend money on that European vacation or that cruise.

Save for that big item. Maybe, like me, the $12K projects don't come every month for you. While you're working hard at all those projects on your desk, total in your head what your estimated income from these will be. Then take a percentage of that and put it aside -- literally. It's not for taxes or retirement. It's for your big item -- that trip or that car or.... Sometimes just the act of designating it into its own account is rewarding in itself.

Do you reward yourself often enough? When you are feeling burned out, does a reward help? What type of reward motivates you best?

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Happy 4th!

I searched for a video that wouldn't be political, wouldn't overuse sentimentality to influence, wouldn't once more bring up the World Trade Center, and wouldn't insult anyone's intelligence. I was able to avoid all but possibly that last one.


Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Worthy Advice: Advertising


What's on the iPod: Don't Stop by Foster the People

Slow start this morning. With tomorrow being a holiday, I'm feeling like gearing down a bit, taking more time to meet my own needs, and maybe just taking time to breathe. June was one busy month. But the mint juleps are mixed in the fridge and I'm intending to enjoy a little this evening.

Meantime, I have some much-needed filing and cleaning to do. This study is usually tidy, but with the heavier workload, I was throwing things off to either side of the desk. Time to deal with it. I'll work a little this morning -- my next article is roughed in and I have interviews to go over, plus interviews to schedule for the next article. Then I'm taking it easy. Well, easier. There's a garden out there that's been neglected.

Today I leave you with some worthy advice -- one of 365, in fact. If you want to pump up your marketing and see more results, this may help:

Worthy Advice #64: Budget for advertising.

Decide today how much of your monthly income will go toward marketing. Even $100 a month to AdWords, or $300 a month to banner ads can make a huge difference in how many people you’re reaching.

Make advertising part of the expense budget and learn how to use online tools to attract more attention to your business.

--

Do you advertise? If so, where? How much is your average budget for advertising, and how often do you get word out?

Monday, July 02, 2012

Monthly Assessment: June 2012

What's on the iPod: In These Shoes? by Bette Midler


Nice weekend. I can now say my birthday is officially over. For some reason, I had four days instead of one. Husband and I shopped for my gift (clothes, yes!) on Saturday, so the celebration wound up that day.

Yesterday was much too hot and humid to work outside, so I took to the basement and sanded my deck chairs. I'm working with a much-too-old and much-too-loud sander, and progress was halted several times when the sandpaper slipped off. But I finished in under two hours and was covered in dust from earphones to sandals. Now to finish them and order the seat fabric.


We saw a great movie (and a not-so-great one). Moonrise Kingdom is charming and quirky and fun. Brave is a weak story with nice animation. See the first. See the second on television.


Months like these are when I really love monthly assessments. Despite feeling a bit light on cash for much of the month, the invoices going out more than alleviated the feeling of poverty. It was a good month. Next month is poised to be even better. Fingers crossed....

Queries:
I sent two. Scored to assignments. Good percentage! Magazines are great for summer income.

LOIs:
Sent some --couldn't tell you how many as I forgot to track them on my Sticky Note (too busy). But I would guess around seven. Nothing from any of them yet.

Existing clients:
I cleaned house with existing clients. Five regular clients kept me hopping all month.

New clients:
Did I mention I was busy? I did work for three new clients, too. These are the same ones I met at the conference, so that's become a great way to find new work. Definitely will be doing that again next year! One client had a conversation with me last week and I'm in for a ton of work from them. Just talking with them and I'm loving their style. This is a good fit.

Referrals:
I had two referrals. One was someone wanting press release distribution (I don't do that), and the other was a resume client whom I did work with (and am still in revisions with).

Earnings:
I hate bragging, but dammit, I rocked it earnings-wise this month. I surpassed my new monthly goal, making me think I might want to increase that goal another thousand or two. I do know that months like this net me more than I ever netted at a 9-to-5.

Bottom line:
The conference approach worked. No doubt in my mind. Despite not being able to solicit business, I was still able to introduce myself and gain new clients without pushing. Proof that showing up and calmly talking about your background is a much better way to sell. Let them decide they need you desperately, I say!

I plowed through a ton of work, but kept my eye on accuracy and clarity, which makes me feel like I've accomplished more than just earning a damn fine amount of cash. All of June's projects but one are finished, and I have another already for July. I'll be marketing this week, but really hitting it hard after the holiday.

How was your June? What worked? What didn't? How will you amend your marketing plan for July?
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