2016 has been a year of highs and lows with my writing and editing work. Some surprises thrown in – good and bad. But, I like to look at the positive more than the negative and use that energy to glide into the New Year.
While a lot of folks like to look at the annual review at the end of the year, I like to do mine the beginning of the new year…why kill the magic of what could happen the last few hours of a good year anyway!
2016 has been a year of highs and lows with my writing and editing work. Some surprises thrown in – good and bad. But, I like to look at the positive more than the negative and use that energy to glide into the New Year.
Not intended as a scare but more a celebration of the year that has been and what's to come! It is the countdown to the end with just two months to spare - what have you accomplished and what are your plans next?
This has been a ridiculously busy year for me taking on as editor for two print mags, copy editing for one, and editing for another website on a regular basis apart from clients old and new either being referred or finding me through my site and social media.
If that wasn't all, looks like I might have some additional new clients signing on even as the year closes out. Not bad, considering this time last year I had just moved to the west coast and knew nobody here. Zilch. Nada.
No professional connections and barely any personal either. I definitely had to give myself time and promised a year for my career here to start up. And then it did. And how!
I am thankful for connections old and new and definitely for the role that technology has played in keeping me on the radar with old friends as well helping make headway with new business relationships. I usually send out my thank you cards to business acquaintances and associates, clients and other professional connections during the month of November. Simply listing them now shows me I have much to be grateful for.
Hope you are doing well professionally, and wishing you much success in all you do. Happy November!
Yes, I get that a lot. The minute folks hear I work from home, for myself, they want to know how I maintain a routine. Here' the gist of it:
And all of these are pretty much non-negotiable unless something major, say a work commitment or travel, occurs last minute...
1. Waking up at the crack of dawn - I adjust this for time differences but it has been a steady 6 am for a while now. Have no trouble waking up early and usually beat the alarm clock by 5 minutes or more. Of course, the trick is to sleep on time and give your body enough rest. I sleep by 10-11 pm to give myself a good 7-8 hours of shut eye.
2. Exercising - I know I do not have the willpower to pull myself away from work during the day to exercise so instead I wake up early and take time folding in the fitness that best works for me - walking! I do a two hour walk along nearby neighborhoods or at the hike trail near my home which gives me a little over 10,000 steps on my Fitbit - quota for the day achieved.
3. Cooling down - Once I am home I take time to cool down as well as hydrate with plenty of water. Currently off coffee so a glass of warm milk is my morning beverage. No sugar, no flavor, just whole milk. Takes about a half hour. The husband is usually up by this time so we get to catch up on our day ahead.
4. Shower - Again, there have been days where pulling myself away from work was a big no and I'd work all day before realizing it was 5 pm and I had not showered yet. Exercising takes care of that. I come back home all stinky and sweaty so a shower is not negotiable. And I get ready for the day so I am dressed and all set for work mode. Half hour on this.
5. Breakfast - Another great part of exercising is I am hungry by the time I get home, cool down and shower so I head straight to the kitchen like clockwork and whip up a breakfast smoothie, sandwich, bowl of cereal to get me going. Half hour for this as well.
This routine usually gives me about a half hour to spare before I start my work day 10 am. I use that half hour to read a magazine I subscribe to or book from the library.
So, what's your morning routine?
Who knew this existed! Glad to see the initiative though and hope it encourages more folks to read. I consider every day to be reading day for me - have a steady stream of loans from the local library and an even longer wishlist waiting to be requested. Not to mention the really good narrative and feature stories available online these days. Education and literacy are important to me and I have been involved in efforts to encourage reading in organizations I have associated with. Some of my favorite books are childhood reads - books my parents got me so I could read adventure stories and imagine escapades of the Secret Seven and Famous Five. Over time, I developed my own reading tastes - went through a phase where Isaac Asimov was my God and then another where romance novels were above everything else. As I did more writing and editing work, I read books that were related - like the Elements of Style or Bird by Bird. And autobiographies as well as self-help/life improvement books took up much of my reading time. I did go through a slump where reading took a backseat and hated that - took a while to get back into the groove again but so glad my love for reading is now a big part of my life. I hope wherever you are, that you are able to enjoy reading and to encourage other stop read as well.
A meeting with a girlfriend today resulted in this topic of conversation. Oh, also, Happy March! So, financial freedom...what does that mean to you?
To me, financial freedom means the freedom to choose how I earn my finances, who I work for or with, what I do with my finances, when I want to work or not, and why, and where. Does that mean I always have the finances to practice that freedom? Not necessarily. The last few months have been financially restricting. For one, I moved coast to coast so that involved a whole new landscape in terms of type of market, work available, clients, networking, gigs, etc. For another, the time taken to adjust, relocate, apartment hunt, get settled in means a halt in my regular scheduling and dipping into savings for the time being. So while I had the freedom to not work for a while, and choose how I used my finances, to say that I always had the finances to support that situation would be a lie. A regular paycheck would have helped. No doubt. But then it would not give me the freedom to choose to move where I want, when I want and take a break for the 'time being' so I can settle into my new place. To say that financial freedom is all about the money would be wrong. Its more about the freedoms you enjoy because of the money, how much ever that may be to support the lifestyle you maintain. To assume that the amount of money we are talking here is the same for any two individuals would be naive. To assume that the amount of money at which financial freedom is a possibility for me in my last city and now in the new one I call home is also the same would be wrong too. So I guess, to answer my girlfriend, to me, financial freedom is the freedom to support my lifestyle in a given geographic area, dependent on my financial stability at that time. And the degree to which I enjoy (or don't) that financial freedom will vary widely dependent on many related factors at that time and place in my life. What does financial freedom mean for you? Comment below, if you'd like to have that conversation...
Most of my colleagues talk about how it is difficult to get started with a story sometimes. Or even build an introduction that ties together the rest of your copy perfectly. Here are some tactics I've used that I hope are useful to you as well:
1. Throw out an element of shock that immediately gets the reader hooked.
2. Use an analogy to help readers understand the similarity and relate to the story.
3. A play on words is always great, also a sign of a true crafty wordsmith.
4. Repetition. This one should be used carefully, or it will reek redundancy.
5. Include one truly memorable word that piques interest.
6. Introduce an element of mystery to encourage reading on.
7. This one's simple - a question or a declaration leading into your piece.
8. Address something that is a universal concern like love, money, sex, food, work.
9. Another often observed trick - a pithy quote.
10. Keeping it simple and memorable. Don't unload a barrage of technical terms or hifalutin phrases all at once at the very beginning - readers will turn away!
What are your tips and tricks to grab your readers' attention?
Attended a lunch and learn event today hosted by the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce and LAX Coworking featuring Jory Rosen of J. Rosen Group. The topic was best business tips for 2016 and it was a good session to hear someone with so much experience speak so frankly about what works/not in the business world these days. Here's a quick rundown of the notes I took, not necessarily verbatim but what I took away - I've actually typed them out to print and stick up by my work desk at home - wise words to remember.
1. Always exude confidence, everywhere, all the time.
2. Love what you do.
3. Do it the best way (not the fastest or the cheapest).
4. Be remarkable - be flamboyant if you need to, to stand out, be visible, get attention.
5. Review what you are selling, what people want, and if what you are selling is still relevant.
6. Make it easy for people to do business with you, buy from you, spend money with you.
7. Do give away advice or entry to events etc. to get clients in.
8. Ask for the sale, don't dilly dally.
9. Ask for referrals.
10. Always send thank yous.
11. Ask for testimonials.
12. Forget the office - go to your client to see them in their own environment.
13. Always keep learning.
14. Find a mentor.
15. Learn from your mistakes and bounce back, don't fall down.
The big one for me was to go to clients - I work freelance most times and my clients are almost always solo entrepreneurs like me working from home or coffee shops so going to where they work is pretty much where I work out of. In other cases, they are in a whole other city or country even so going to where they are is not so much an option. And I did think, for the longest time, that meeting in a mutual place, neutral to all parties involved, is the best arrangement, so nobody has home base advantage, but I can see the intent in that point and hope I can use it to my advantage some time. Hope these are useful to you as well. Good luck!
The end of the year is a great time to get rid of the clutter. I usually use the last few days of the year to clear out any mess and clean up my home, desk, laptop, purse of unnecessary things that simply don't belong. Most of it is waste, some of it has to be organized and quite a bit of it finds a home at a donation center. I enjoy starting the new year on a somewhat clean slate. It is difficult to say there is nothing carried over as there is continuity to what I will do in 2016 from where I was in 2015, but giving myself the gift of a clean space to work in, a neat desk to arrange my thoughts and a laptop free of all sorts of downloads and lists means starting out without any obstacles in my path. Paving the way for your success is in your hands. Making sure everything around me is just what I need, and anything I do not need is put away, is my way of ensuring I reach that path to success a little faster. Having moved to Los Angeles recently, I now find myself in an apartment that doe into afford me a designated desk area - then one end of my dining table will suffice for now. But having just my laptop, phone, notepad, diary and coffee cup around me gives me a sense of openness and organization to work unencumbered by too many things. This is my little routine every new year and it always works like magic. A fresh start for a new journey. Do you have any clutter tricks you'd like to share?
Its a brand new year and I am excited to start on a high. More about that and other new announcements in the coming week. Meanwhile, I am taking this first day of the year to enjoy some rest and relaxation from a fun yet hectic holiday season. While I vegetate in my cozy apartment, I am leisurely filling in some of my goals for the year onto my 2016 American Express Appointment Book which I so love - its my NYE gift to myself every year. It is going to be a fantastic year and I can already feel it. I wish you, wherever you are and whatever you do, purpose in your direction personally and professionally, good health, prosperity, happiness and the warmth of near and dear at all times. To also keep me somewhat on track, I have embarked on this 31 Day challenge and hope you will join in too. Here's to an amazing journey ahead and may this year be the best one yet! Onward bound!
I wouldn't be writing professionally today if not for parents that encouraged me writing and reading as a child. Nurture the writing talents in your kids with these fun tips courtesy BIC in Shelton, CT.
You might not know it but the number of staffing firms representing freelancers in the corporate environment has increased over the past few years, keeping up with the freelance demand and supply in the workplace. Gone are the days when staffing firms were only for permanent or full-time employment. Many staffing firms today, especially freelance staffing firms, are focused on solely project-based, temporary, seasonal and part-time employment opportunities. For freelancers, it not only opens up the avenues for applying for freelance positions but also puts you in the playing field with an agency representing you and promoting your skills actively to their audience. Sometimes this audience does happen to be large clients that a single freelancer might never have been able to approach. So while you might have other channels you actively pursue to attract freelance gigs, do not write off staffing firms, especially those representing the creative fields. A simple search for creative staffing firms or agencies in your area should pull up a few viable results. Reach out with an introduction or complete their talent forms on their websites and rest assured, if what you have to offer meets with some of their client needs, they will get in touch. Some of my best work, by which I mean, both, well-paying jobs as well as challenging roles and those with brands and big name clients, have been because of my agent at a creative firm representing me on the right roles. Some of these staffing firms also offer national presence so no matter where you move to in the country, and if you are lucky, even internationally, they are happy to represent you and send work your way. Of course, the personal rapport you share with your agent also weighs in. Refusing every opportunity they send your way is a surefire sign they won't be thinking of you top of mind when a new client comes through. Be open to exploring opportunities your agent thinks might be a good fit - you never know, you could end up enjoying something you had never considered before! Here are some based in L.A for easy reference:
The Creative Group
(These are not affiliate links and I don't get anything out of mentioning these companies, they came up on my search and I figured it wouldn't hurt to share this information with other freelancers)
It has officially been a month since I moved from Atlanta to Los Angeles. This day, a month ago, we drove into L.A in our car with a trailer towing along carrying our belongings. We lived in an AirBnB rental for close to a month, during which time we tried to find an apartment we liked, could afford and wanted to call home for the long haul. Happy to say we have moved into one such space now and are busy unpacking. Professionally though, this move has meant leaving behind everything I had built over almost 10 years in Atlanta and building new professional connections and networks. Much of that has happened online with virtual introductions and emails. I have only yet started meeting with folks in-person to see how I can continue freelancing, editing and writing in this new city. I have a few things lined up but as always, you never know which ones come through and which will fall away, along the way. Keeping my fingers crossed for some promising projects in the near future. Stay tuned here for updates!
1. Travel blogger
Is traveling the world your life-time passion and you always complain about the routine office hours? Is adventure the only thing that truly motivates you? Then you are probably one of the free spirits who would make an excellent travel blogger. Although traveling and writing about it it sounds like the dream job, there is much more to it. Blogging requires all your attention if you want to transform it into your full-time job. Here are a few aspects to consider in order to be successful: build an audience by writing content that travelers find useful. This could be food and accommodation advice, destination reviews, interesting activities and so on. Don’t forget to include interactive content like pictures and videos, which are like magnets for readers’ attention. Be a social media guru: explore different social media channels and stay very active on them! Also, try to promote yourself in media outlets and among well-known bloggers. Again, this will depend on the content you share with your readers and the activities that you are involved in. But don’t be discouraged! If traveling is your passion, your blog can be your travel diary and readers won’t hesitate to come. You just have to be perseverant in following your dream!
2. Yoga/fitness instructor
Probably the most active freelance job you could ever find, being an independent sports instructor can be very fulfilling. Are you already passionate about working out and are craving an active lifestyle? It’s never too late to change your career path. Having a healthy lifestyle is very important to more and more people, therefore the interest in the fitness industry is at its highest point. Fortunately for you, many working professionals have busy schedules, so it is hard for them to go to the gym regularly. This is why many request the help of personal trainers who can build a workout routine tailored to their needs. After you get acquainted with the job and you specialize either in yoga or another fitness programme, it is probably a good idea to get some certifications in the industry, so your services appear trustworthy. Another way is to start a blog or set up a Youtube channel with videos of your routine, so you can attract clients. The more people hear about you the better. Even though the beginning may seem hard, think about the benefits you will get later on: leading an active and healthy life and being paid for it!
3. SEO consultant
The digital age we live in has had an impact in many business sectors. Every company needs to be visible online in order to keep an active relationship with its clients. It is why so much emphasis is being put on the success of websites. If you rank at the top of users’ searches, they will easily find you and this will increase both your reputation and your business revenue. SEO stands for search engine optimization and specialists use different techniques to optimize web pages, such as creating interesting content that others in the industry will share. If you have a flair for marketing or IT and you are creative, this could be the right job for you. You don’t need a permanent employer to do this. You can easily work as a consultant for different projects. If you get good at it and you set up a network of clients, it can be a very rewarding job.
4. Event planner
If you have great organizational skills, you are outgoing and creative, then perhaps you can freelance as an event planner. The first thing you have to consider is that this market has a lot of competition. Finding a niche for organizing events is probably the best idea. For example, you could specialize in events for children or theme weddings. Second, you have to keep in mind that your success depends on how well you network with people. You need to find the right opportunities and build a chain of customers. But you also need to interact with caterers, contractors, venue managers and so on. So if you are a social butterfly, then this is definitely for you. The rest is all about organization and promotion. So if you collaborate with the right people and are a good planner, you are headed to success. Add a touch of creativity and you can actually make a career out of this.
How many times did you express your opinion about a product and wanted more people to hear it? Maybe you found a great product or an amazing discount or maybe you were rather dissatisfied with your acquisition. Either way, sharing your opinion seems like a great way to do something that matters. The great news is that you can actually make money by writing product reviews. You can start your own site and share your opinion about different products. Or you can answer online surveys about different products for market research companies and get rewarded in cash or gift vouchers. One such example is surveybee.net, a trustworthy platform that connects you to different survey panels, so you don’t have to do all the research work. You may think that being a product reviewer takes up too much of your time, especially if you have a full-time job. The truth is that it just requires good organizational skills, attention to detail and a touch of creativity. Think about all the products you buy all the time anyway and how amazing it would be to get some of your money back.
Found yourself in one of the above descriptions? Then you have no excuse to postpone your fresh start as a freelancer!
About the author:
Diana Popescu is a blogger for surveybee.net, covering topics on money management, working from home tips and ideas and much more. Follow on: @surveybeeNET or SurveyBee.net
In a rare case of my two loves - writing and travel - in the same book, I was excited tor receive a review copy of Island Journeys and am happy to share it was well-worth the read. The author has done a great job of sharing his own travels to different island nations while also bringing attention to the issues that concern islanders, being a native of St Kitts and Nevis himself. I loved reading his stories of travel and also his memories of his childhood in his homeland, while throwing light on matters of importance to island nations. Few images in the book give you an idea of the places he is talking about. I realized I really don't know much about islanders, their way of life or have even considered them as countries in and of themselves so I think the author's efforts are in line with what he is trying to achieve. I certainly looked up a bunch of information as I was reading the book so I could learn more about the places he was describing and the experiences narrated. This is a light read but very informative and highly recommended. For a travel-centric version of the book review, please head here.
How many hours do you spend at home? Being a freelance writer means staying at home a lot. In short, your home becomes a place for both work and rest. It is not a secret that freelance writers constantly need a productivity boost. It can help manage time, write high-quality papers and even play a big role in the journey to becoming successful writers.
Here's the deal: you need to organize your workplace. Consider these three main steps:
Remember your health. Pick a comfortable chair that supports your lower back. Remember to stand up and rest. Also, work standing up sometimes as this gives your upper back and neck some relief. Try it!
Divide where you work and where you relax. Try to organize your workplace area into two zones: computer and non-computer. Work in zone 1 and relax in zone 2. See how it impacts your productivity.
Prepare your writing desk. Always keep it clean. Decorate your desk with plants, keep your cup of green tea within reach, and start working hard!
I have only scratched the surface of workplace organization; to learn more, a useful infographic by OmniPapers would be worth checking. Don't hesitate to share it with your friends and colleagues, as it might be useful not only for freelance workers but for students, too.
Do you have your own secrets of workplace organization? I am waiting for your ideas...
About the author:
Emily Johnson, content strategist at OmniPapers blog, loves the writing process. She plans to publish a self-growth and self-development book next year and teach English to non-native speakers as a private educator.
I love reading. If you've read my blog before, you know I am a huge fan of anything Chris Guillebeau. I was recently at the World Domination Summit 2015 in Portland OR - a conference organized by Chris for 5 years now. Part of the swag bag was a copy of his book "The Happiness of Pursuit" - Finding the Quest that will Bring Purpose to your Life. Did not realize it at that time but I had already purchased his book so now I have an additional copy to giveaway. So here's the deal - follow this link and sign up for my newsletter which I only send out every other month (and you can unsubscribe from at any time)! Random winner will be announced 1st September 2015. Good luck!
A quick search online will tell you Jonathan Fields heads the Good Life Project and is also the author of Uncertainty and Career Renegade. I was introduced to his work through a reading project where I remember his name mentioned. To this day, his Good Life Project living creed and this quote - “Our greatest opportunity for impact lies not just in connecting people to us and our ideas, but in creating a safe place where people can connect with and support each other in the quest to take the sustained action that leads to profound change.”- are printed and pinned to my work-board so I read it every time I look up from my laptop. I now have both his books as well on my reading table.
Jonathan spoke recently at the World Domination Summit held in Portland OR on RevolutionU: How to Tap Revolution-Dynamics to Fuel Rapid Business Growth, Build an Army of Evangelists and Change the Damn World but I could not attend, kickass as that session does sound. I did, however, listen to one of his podcasts and while I am in no way commencing on a revolution at this time, I felt that much of what he spoke resonated with me as a freelancer and entrepreneur.
As a foundation, Fields notes it is important to understand whom you serve and what pain point it is that you are addressing. Every business owner will agree that right there is the make or break factor for any business. As the leading force of your efforts, especially if you are looking to get a revolution going, it is important to not just have humility and vulnerability but also the desire to serve and be truthful in your actions. I believe these are great characteristics to have as an entrepreneur as well. When people see that you are one of them, they are willing to take your lead. Having some way to bring these people together, whether that is through a book or an event, is integral - great takeaways for those wanting to become business leaders in their communities.
Secondly, a clear idea of your messaging is vital. Again, many business owners fail at this and quite a few of us are guilty of giving clients vague ideas of exactly what we do. Fields stresses on having an understanding of what you are moving away from and what you are moving toward if a revolution is what you have in mind – unifying beliefs are what bring people closer together. He also talks about building your story and crafting your manifesto, which I think, depending on what stage your business is, could apply just as well to your ethics as an entrepreneur as it would to leading a revolution.
Thirdly, the execution of that theory into action by defining the path of what you will do and how. In a business sense, I would essentially look at this as a business plan. Fields offers two ways of moving forward – a transactional or a sustained path – to build your tribe, your community. To deepen that tribe mentality, he talks about shared symbology and language, which in business terms, really boils down to your logo and your tagline or buzzwords that attract clients to you. Assembling torchbearers and key resources is next, to put their faith in your products and services and then recommend that to others.
Lastly, there is the big launch, of course. Accompanied by social media in all its glory these days. It is important to have mechanisms and milestones, and be transparent about your goals, as it is with any business. Other considerations such as thought triggers and emotional attachments, observable practical value of what is on offer and the power of storytelling that ties it all together is just as important to a business as it is to any revolution.
Fields provides useful ways to understand narrowing your field of ideas to clamp down on whom you want to serve. He also throws light on the starting point of your efforts, small group focus, the why of what you do and the role that connections and solutions play in the larger picture – all things useful to running a thriving business as it is to sustaining a revolution. And arriving at that tipping point when your revolution has its own momentum. To a business owner though, and a solopreneur at that, what would that tipping point be? The day you don’t have to market your services any more? The month you make 2x more than you did the same time last year? The minute people call you for your work? The first time you publish on LinkedIn?
I believe I might have accomplished a few tipping points in the few years I have been a full-time freelancer, and that I have a few more such tipping points to look forward to in the future, but at what point is a business considered to be in that momentum as Fields speaks of with revolutions. What do you consider your tipping point?
The Write Life is a website I have been following for a few years now since I began working full-time freelance. I have found many useful resources shared there but never thought of writing for them until recently. So I sent in a guest post draft and they decided to publish it today. If you read it, please share any feedback you may have. I look forward to your comments! You can read the post here.
I enjoy working out of coffee shops. Every now and then, I will accompany the husband to work and then proceed to a coffee shop in the area. On this day, I chose one that showed up on my Scoutmob app - Cafe Chocolat. I thought it would be a French Bistro but it turned out to be an Asian tea and fondue place. They open at noon but stay open late night for the dessert and after dinner crowd. I loved the ambience of the place, look at the pics. Also they were pretty skeletal crowd during the day so I was able to sit there all day long and focus on a bunch of writing work sans disturbance or noise. They have free wi-fi and very might music in the background. I had a hot chocolate, ginger tea and dessert while there and everything was delicious. I believe the fondue pots are their specialty though so will have to go back for that. Let me know if you happen to go here and what your work experience was like.
There is a reason you have deadlines. If there wasn't one, you'd never be given a deadline or have to meet it. But that ain't how the world works. We'd be forever in pursuit. And that's okay, but for longer lifetime goals. Not for writing assignments. You and I would never make a penny.
I try at all times to beat deadlines. Especially for stories or projects assigned to me. How? By working on the story right away. Of course, if you work in a newsroom or are on staff at a larger agency that goes without saying but if you work, like me, on many one-off projects or stories that have a longer lead time, for features magazines or maybe websites, then don't make the mistake, and I am talking from experience here, of keeping best things for last, or dashing for the red ribbon in the last second, or whatever fancy term you want to give for being plain simple careless and lethargic with your work.
I mark my deadline at least 24 hours ahead on my calendar, and sometimes, depending on my experience working with a magazine or a certain 'type' of editor, I mark my deadline even a week in advance just to keep room for any last minute changes or edits or alterations, or, God forbid, additions, to my piece. When I am assigned work, I get on it right away. I also used to do the infamous fleeting glance at my mail and saying I was on it, then getting to 'it' days before deadline and finding out the attached files were wrong, or inaccessible, or not even attached. Guess how professional that makes me look. Yeah, pat on the back...NOT!
Never came across an editor that reprimanded me for sending in my work earlier so I can't be doing it wrong. In fact, sometimes that has actually resulted in not just repeat work from the same client, but also last-minute stories that paid more (since they are rush jobs now because some other member of the team decided to drop the ball on it) and even referrals. So now I am not just making money, but making more money - from the same client and another. Who can complain?
Try it the next time. Work backward from a deadline, give yourself the breathing space to beat it, allow for the time you need to turn around the piece, the time you will need for your research, speaking to sources, putting together your primary points, supporting facts, sourcing images, etc. and that will give you a clear idea of how far ahead you should begin. Which is now.
Soon as you are assigned a project or story, go ahead and add it to your running work list, which I hope you have one of, because otherwise, I am not sure how you keep track of your ongoing jobs. Make sure you are looking at this work list very day when you begin and every evening when you call quits so you are constantly aware of the deadline coming through. If you are halfway through your roadmap and have not heard from resources, don't have the required quotes or the images sourced, then escalate to your editor or superior, senior editor, whoever will help, because they will appreciate an earlier red flag than a later one. Of course, this is your last resort after all other efforts on your part have failed. Sure, you don't want to look incompetent by having to ask your editor to step in, but beyond a point, it isn't about you any more. There is an issue that has to go live and your story needs to be in it, and your bills paid, so do what you have to, in order to get that story together.
Try to set up consistent reminders and alerts on your calendar so you stay on track. You can also have your accountability partner, close friend or trusted professional acquaintance check in on you on set dates to ensure you are progressing as you should. If a change of scenario give you a sense of urgency then go ahead and work from a different location if that means your deadline will be met. If it turns out highly likely that you will not meet your deadline, the first inkling you have of it, give your editor a heads-up. They are nice people for the most part and want to help you if they can or must. They also have an issue to produce so seek help when you need it. Most are happy to know, some will offer an extension, some will offer assistance or advice or try connecting you to other sources but be fair to them and let them know well in advance.
Worst case scenario, submit your work on deadline day and make sure to clarify up front what time on deadline day your work should be in. Again, from experience, I know that while you are thinking noon your editor is expecting your piece in her mail when she has her morning coffee, when you are thinking end of day your editor is expecting submission at noon. If you don't receive an assignment letter spelling it out, then the onus is on you to clear out any gaps that could lead to misunderstandings later.
It is absolutely unprofessional and unacceptable to not meet a deadline, earlier or on time, and not communicate with your editor. It gives the rest of us a bad name so please, don't. Let them know when you will have your project done, and stick to that delayed deadline, even if you decide to gift it to yourself. If nothing else, you would have saved face, and maybe, the editor might try working with you again. Or you might just get paid, or not (uh-oh), and never work with them again, but recognize that this is your doing. So before that catastrophe hits you, go ahead and just submit on deadline and that way we will all be happy.
Staying motivated has never been much of an issue for me. I have always had sufficient work or ideas that I never seem to know what to say when folks ask me how I stay motivated. Of course, the reason they ask is because I am a full-time freelancer and for most people, the idea of working from home and away from other humans seems way too hard to fathom. When you are busy, that hardly seems an issue, especially when you are busy doing something you love and enjoy, and look forward to. I must say though that I do listen to myself and watch for signs. If I feel I need a break, I go ahead and take one rather than denying myself some rest and facing the adverse consequences later. If I need to zone out for a bit then I head out for a walk or watch/read something unrelated to my work for some time out. Here are a few suggestions that may or not work for you but have had some degree of success for me.
1. Clean up! And I don't just mean around you, although that could also apply. I am referring to your work files and folders, physical and virtual. If you know where to find what you want, you lose less time hunting it down. It usually is just small enough a break, and knowing that you completed something might give you enough impetus to work on your writing project.
2. Time yourself instead of giving yourself time. When I know I have the whole day ahead of me to work on a story, I take all day to complete it. But when I time myself and give a story only limited hours to be completed then I work faster and get everything done in shorter spans of time. Try it and let me know if it helps you.
3. Submit away. I used to be the person that tried allowing time every few days to submit ideas and pitches but invariably those times never rolled in as I would always put away that exercise for later. Now I just submit as and when a call comes through or I feel an idea brewing in my head. Just the excitement of that keeps me going.
4. Always a student. When you learn new information, it induces a new wave of possibilities irrespective of the subject or area. I like to constantly keep myself in that learning mode so I can polish my techniques and skills, pertaining to my profession of course. If I find a local class or networking group that would help I join it and learn what I can. If there are workshops or conferences in my city or industry that will help me be a better writer or editor then I sign up for those as well.
5. Motivational quotes are a no brainer. Especially if you are a writer or editor. It is important to be surrounded by positivity and affirmations when the environment you are working in is one of isolation. I enjoy reading Monday Motivation by the Renegade Writer, or anything by Marc and Angel and even Chris Guillebeau.
And this last one might not work for all but sometimes it helps to not be working on a specific project for someone else but just on something you want that is not defined by a third party's requirements. For instance, that book of poems describing your childhood or the short story collection you want to submit to a contest someday. Those help keep you driven and challenged time and again.
How do you stay motivated at all times?
What is a media meet and greet? Yes, I had that very question pop in my head the first time I heard that term. It is usually an event hosted by a company seeking media attention, or by the PR firm handling that company's or individual's publicity. The ones that I have attended have included media breakfasts, lunches, dinners, coffee chats, wine and appetizers, they run the gamut. Once you start covering diverse topics for your work or specialize in certain areas even, especially if you work closely on a beat, you will start finding these media events increase.
In my scope of work I have attended media events for new companies launching, for author introductions, for new products hitting the market, etc. It is almost always a sit down style presentation type event or a mix and mingle affair. The invitation, typically from the company/individual's media representative or the PR company handling that account, gives you reasonable detail to know the type of event it will be. Some will include dress code as business formal or the fact that you can bring along a guest/suggest another member of the media to invite. When in doubt, feel free to reply to your inviter and ask whatever question you have. Better to have that clarified than turn up at the event feeling unprepared.
A good pre-event strategy is to learn more about the 'why' of the event. If the invite had any additional information, be sure to read through and check for any clarifications you need. If you pitch stories then this gives you good information to send out feelers to a few editors. If you cover a specific beat then this gives you the initial information you need and you can have questions for the gaps that you'd like filled in. I also like to arrive a few minutes earlier so that gives me some time to get settled in, find my way in case I have never been to that specific venue before, have a word with the organizers, and maybe get to know a few other attendees as well.
At sit down style events, once the organizer announces the event is to commence, folks sit down and the presentation begins. Questions are reserved for the close of the presentation and people typically converse with other guests at their table. Sometimes the seating is pre-arranged. At more free flowing events, there is usually no format but to walk around and introduce yourself to folks, make connections, get a few words in with the stars of the evening and move on. In either case, there are usually name tags involved so remember to write you first name in bold caps so that people can read easily and stick or pin it on your right shoulder. That is typically the hand people shake and looking at your name close to your face rather than halfway down your breasts is professional. Carrying plenty of business cards on you is imperative. You never know who you meet and how they might be able to help you later or vice versa.
If food and drink are being served at the table then you have nothing to worry about. You eat what is served and thats that. If there are passed appetizers or a self-serve counter, don't feed yourself for the rest of the year from the food there! If beverages are involved then be careful to keep your clumsy side in check - the last thing you want is a spilled coffee on yourself or anybody else. If alcohol is involved, know your limits and don't make a fool of yourself at a professional event. Also do not be nasty to the serving staff, they are hosting an event and try to accommodate every request but they are human too and could be having a bad day. Always carry change on you even though you know food and drink at the event is complimentary. Your wait staff, drink pourer, table attendant, valet guy - all look forward to these events because it is their chance to make a little more than their hourly pay. I have made this mistake many times and felt like an idiot for it, so learn from my mistake - always have some change handy much as it is difficult to remember in this day and age where credit cards are the norm.
Be friendly with the other guests at your table and don't shock them with your thoughts on gun control or procreation. You are meeting them for the first time in all probability - those topics are for after your fifth meeting or even later. A good conversation topic is something related to the event, the city, the venue, the work you do, etc. In an open format you just have to be brave enough to go around introducing yourself or ask the organizer to get you started with someone they know and then you can hang on to that person for dear life!...NOT!
When the event is done, don't simply walk away. This is your time to leave a lasting impression so remember to thank the organizers, let them know if you have any follow-up questions, or how they can connect with you in the future. When you get back to work, remember to connect with everyone you met in one way or the other. I usually try to connect on Twitter/LinkedIn or both. If nothing else, I shoot them an email so that way they have my information and it shows that I took initiative to connect.
If you do end up writing about the product, event, individual, concept or whatever it is that the event is for, then always send your organizers a link or copy of that coverage. They will be ever so thankful - they are busy people and while it is their job to track all their media, a little help goes a long way in their good books, and who knows when it helps to be a name on that book!
What is your strategy to work a media meet and greet?
You'd think that was pretty simple to do but not many freelancers know how to work out of a coffee shop. Many, usually introverts, are afraid to step out of the comfort of their home to a space so public as a coffee shop. Of course, the economics of it can be equally intimidating just as well but there is an admitted good vibe, cosmic energy, call it what you will that a coffee shop can infuse into your work. For instance, working out of a coffee shop right now has me writing this blog post for you.
Working out of a coffee shop today was a necessity - there was some maintenance work to be done in my apartment which meant my usual space of quiet work would be invaded by repair men and their tools cluttering my work space so I chose to work from an outdoor space. My local coffee shop of choice is Starbucks. I am spoilt for choice - I have at least 10 locations within a few minutes of where I live but over a period of time, through much trial and error, I have found the one location that is not too busy for my liking, to be able to get some productive work accomplished, without being disturbed by others' loud conversing or general people watching, which happens to be one of my top ten skills :) So much as this might take some fine-tuning, find yourself the perfect neighborhood coffee shop that suits your work style.
Also PS - I do have a Starbucks rewards card that gets me all kindsa great deals and I reload using a Chase Sapphire card which gives me 2x the points
Once there though dont be the hated coffee shop camper that invites the wrath of the staff employed there. Be good, be nice, be kind. Don't simply order a free cup of water and hide at the table at the very back so they cant see how long you have taken over their venue. Order something to show that you support the business that helps you with yours. You are using their space, their electricity, their restroom, their resources - wifi, lights, furniture, so dont be surprised if your coffee visit ends up leaving you $10 poorer. If this is a regular spot for you then learn the names of the staff there and engage in some neighborly chit chat when time permits. They are the nicest people once they get to know you. They will make you the 'usual' once they see you and be happy to swing by and drop off some water or clear stuff from your table.
If it helps you can try to only do coffee shop days when you have to absolutely focus on a story, or positively need a change of place, or have maybe client meetings that you can do there and that justifies being in a coffee shop for a few hours. I do at least one coffee shop work day and end up spending for coffee and a pastry, sometimes more if I stay there from breakfast until past lunch or even tea time. Of course, if you have a freelancing business then do keep the receipts safe and use them at tax time for deductions.
I do try to go in with a fully charged laptop and phone so I can work for at least 5-6 hours without having to take over the few plug points in the public space I am sharing. I also try to see if I can find a couch or a standing table top where I can occupy lesser space. Sitting at a table permits spreading your bag, papers, stuff in general all over the place and just taking up way too much space than polite society would consider acceptable. Take along your headphones or earphones if you need to block out external noise. By the same rule, don't have your loudest business call in a coffee shop. Make sure you can speak in a voice level that is not disturbing others, take calls in your car or outside if you can or reschedule for later.
You have ordered food and drink so remember to not be a clumsy clown when you consume your food or beverage of choice. And certainly do not swear out loud when you end up being the one dropping hot liquids on your own laptop! An overly animated freelancer is not welcome either. You are there to get your work done. So get your work done and dont go around trying to make random conversation with all and sundry. And when you are done and ready to leave, remember to clear up after yourself. Keep in mind at all times that you are in a public space so if your work requires you watch a video of gory detail for your research, you might not want to do that on your large screen laptop with full volume on! You also do not want to carry out banking transactions and such in a space like this, you never know who can view the details on your screen. Using a protector might help to some extent but that is also a personal choice.
Last but not least, leave the location a nice review online somewhere if they were helpful to your work day. Most of them have their preferred review site online so a few kind words and a few minutes out of your day would be a welcome return for their services. If some staff member was especially helpful then remember to mention them as well. I remember to do this if I have tried a new place or maybe an indie store that could use the positive feedback. Over time, you can let friends, colleagues, clients know where to meet you if they want to discus work. You also never know but sometimes story ideas come to you at coffee shops. Check out their message boards or even observing people coming in might spark a story idea in your freelancer head!
What do you enjoy most about working out of a coffee shop?
As mentioned in my post Friday, the inaugural Techmunch Atlanta food blogger conference was a surprising and refreshing event to be at. Not only did close to 100 attendees get to discus some very relevant topics but also heard from the pros and had some time to network to hear from colleagues. I am sharing here some of my lessons learned at the conference. A lot of what was said seemed to be stuff I already knew but then there were equally useful tips and tricks as well that I noted and do plan to implement over the next few days so here goes...
Session1 - Leveraging your social brand
This somehow turned into more of a talk on book publishing than the branding session it was supposed to be, primarily because the speakers were authors I guess. We heard a bit about writing books and focussing on a niche. I do have a couple book ideas in the works but none to do with food and much as I have wanted to focus on a niche in my writing, I have found being a features generalist has worked more to my advantage.
Session2 - How the pros review
I liked the diversity on this panel - AJC's Kessler was one and they also had Zagat's Hassiotis, PR person Debbie Rosen and a food blogger so the different perspectives were a fresh take. There was reference to the FTC regulation on bloggers disclosing their relationship with brands and here is a link to that information on the Atlanta Food Blogger Society website.
Session3 - Getting organized:Editorial calendar
Probably one of the more informative sessions hosted, and a shame it was on Google hangouts since the connectivity was an issue so a lot was lost in translation for sure. Two very insightful topics touched upon were the need to publish your calendar online to be able to share with not just your readers but also possibly brands and advertisers for your marketing as well as sharing your editorial plans with other bloggers for possible guest posting and cross promotion. As a magazine writer and someone who ghost blogs for corporate clients, editcals have been the boon of my existence but I never expected that to be applicable to a blog site by itself.
Session4 - Leveraging social media
This was one of the sessions that needed much more time allotted to the discussion than the few minutes we had, especially given the fact that each of the speakers was an expert on one particular channel. I can't say that there was sufficient meaningful discussion here for me to have had any big takeaways or aha moments but I did find out that Facebook owns Instagram so posting from there to FB would be okay, much as previous attempts to do that form third party sites might have been advised again. However, this is only valid until FB decides to do another algorithm tweaking exercise. I don't use Instagram much currently and FB is more of a personal forum than professional so this wasn't a terribly useful tip really.
Session5 - Food photography
Another session that was held on Google hangouts but this time with slightly better connectivity. I do take professional style photos when I am doing magazine stories so this as somewhat helpful for me. Of course, none of the calibre of the presenter but it was nice of her to share. Photos tell a story so take action pictures instead of just the food sitting there. Ingredient shots are a nice diversion from the typical pictures of the completed meal. And lastly, images of people with the food are also a nice twist to the usual.
Session6 - Monetizing your content
The one term that caught my attention on this was 'influencer networks' and quite frankly I knew nothing about it so my head was bursting with curiosity to head home and learn more. I promise you will be intrigued as well once you look it up online. I probably had no clue about this because I don't have a foodie blog and did not find a need to monetize but this might just get me motivated! If you are already onto this or have any tips about influencer networks, I would love your feedback here.
In between all of this there was a cookbook pitch where some of the attendees provided their ideas and a winner was chased by end of day. The event was hosted by Babette Pepaj of BakeSpace.com and assisted by Nichelle Stephens (Cupcakes take the cake) and Denise Romeo (Atlanta Food Blogger Society).
Looking for a guest blogger? Msg me your blog link and let's see what I can write for your audience!