Monthly Archives: July 2011

Freelancing Isn’t Fun, Writing Is

Traditional freelance writer work system.

Image via Wikipedia

So after a fairly big high, I’ve hit a low. And I had a talk with myself and came to this conclusion.

I hate freelancing.

Now, I could easily point to being stuck in my house 24/7 or the constant work I have to do; or the complete and utter lack of motivation, which leads to a lack of productivity. I could, but I won’t. This morning after another pseudo all nighter, I was at my computer hoping to work on something. Didn’t happen and I had the ultimate feeling of, I need to get out of here.

Headed up to Starbucks, I had an inner monologue, bemoaning my life and cursing the government for fixing our employment issues, yadda yadda. I then came upon a thought – I hate writing.

Wait. What?

That can’t be right?

We hate writing!? There are many things that I, the Ginanator hate – carrots, for one (natural enemy) and Hollywood for ruining my childhood by making crap remakes of my favorite and loved shows, but writing? We love writing!

Don’t we?

There was a struggle, but in the end…yes, the love of writing is still there. But there is no love for freelancing. As a beginning freelancer, you’ve of course heard the ole “treat it like a business” or “treat it like a job”; that might be all well and good for something you’ve just discovered you liked doing, like consulting, but for me, I’ve found turning a beloved hobby into a job a taxing and stressful ability.

This is where I take my idealism and shove it off a high-rise building. As we all know, jobs aren’t fun; they aren’t meant to be. They are meant to further your career goals and ultimately, make you money. This isn’t to say that you can’t find a job you enjoy; that happens too and I don’t want to discourage you if you happen to love being a freelancer.

Many people do. At this moment, I don’t.

But there’s nothing I can do about it. Like any job you take because it’s there, I’m stuck doing freelancing until either the job market improves or I luck out and actually find a job. And there’s nothing that says that, after years of working I won’t be ready to give freelancing another go, cause I could.

Since undergoing this new employment path, I have struggled. I’m a social person, so not being able to talk to people grinds on me and then there’s my ego. See, my creative ego is often praised on its writing ability. I have often said that my writing skills are my greatest asset and talent (next to my musical ones). In all of my original and fan fiction writing, I’ve had mostly good praise.

Creative writing is nothing like professional writing. The only thing that ties them together is the writing part. So you’ll imagine my surprise when I get article rejections or I go down from 4 to 3 stars; my ego doesn’t like that (whose would?)

My main problem, I think, is that I can’t separate the enjoyment I get from writing with the freelancing job portion. I mean, if I’m hating freelancing so much, does that mean I hate writing in general? Does this mean I hate it so much that I’ll *gasp* never write anything creative again?

My little creative writer is freaking out right now, just so you know. No, CW, it doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing. You’ll certainly see to it that another idea will come popping along before I finish writing this blog. It does mean, however, that I need to start thinking of these as two separate entities and that’s going to be hard.

I haven’t been thinking of freelancing as a job, cause writing shouldn’t be a job or a chore for me. I love it! And I still will and still can; I just need to think of freelancing as what it is – my cash cow. I go into to work to work and make money. That’s all. Yeah, it’s the opposite advice that professional freelancers will give you, but they’re making crazy money and I’m not.

So if you’re like me and think your creative half is dead because you freelance, here’s the mantra I came up with on my way to Starbucks.

  • Freelancing isn’t fun. It’s a job and jobs aren’t meant to be fun. They are meant to earn money.
  • You want to earn money. Freelancing is your job. This job will earn you money, but it won’t be fun.
  • In the cases that fun is had, enjoy it. But remember that fun doesn’t earn money. Jobs do.
  • Earning money is fun.
  • Freelancing isn’t fun; however writing (design, programming, DTP, etc) is and don’t forget that. If you can bridge them together, that’s awesome. If you can’t, don’t worry. Freelancing, like any job, may not always be there; but your creativity will be.

 

Me & Google+ – We Has a Thing Goin’ On

Google Plus logo

Image by Bruce Clay, Inc via Flickr

If you haven’t heard of Google+ (or Google Plus) by now, you certainly will in the next few days and coming weeks. Google’s offering of the social un-network has taken people by storm. Already predictions were that G+ would hit the 10 million mark (which it has) and would maybe see 20 million by this end of this weekend.

Friday marked my one week anniversary with the new Google project and I am loving it. Now, I know you’ve probably read enough reviews and remarks on it and if you haven’t, you’ve probably got Facebook friends demanding you switch over, so you’re probably thinking “Gina, are you going to give us another blog post about how awesome Google+ is?” And the answer to that is –

Yes. Yes I am.

But I will be nice about it and try keeping it in the realm of “why you, as a freelancer, should consider spending time on Google+”. Darren Rowse of Problogger already has a great article of why bloggers should check it out, but in terms of the freelancer, why should you bother with another social network?

Communication. At least, that’s what got me.

In the two weeks that Google+ has been in beta and the one week that I’ve been on, I’ve seen a huge difference between communication with Twitter and Facebook. The one thing that drew to want to try G+ in the first place was that of circles. Circles are the groups of people who are sharing posts with you and who are in your network. On Facebook, these are your friends – you can only see what they post and vice versa. On Twitter, it’s the people who follow you and the people you follow.

Google+ takes the concept of real life circles – you have your friends, your best friends, your family, the people you work with, etc. There’s no real distinction with Facebook and while Twitter has lists, you still can’t separate what you see, but with G+ you can. You can have circles for your friends, circles for your co-workers and boss, circles for your friends, etc; the left hand side of your page displays the list of your circles and clicking on them, you can view the stream of what they’ve posted.

There’s talk now on G+ about the prospect of maybe separating the public circles as well, which would be kinda cool.

But on to why we freelancers should check this out and not because I’m the unofficial ambassador to get people off of Facebook and on to G+. Again, the big thing is the aspect of actual communication. Think about it – Facebook you can really only talk to people who are your friends; Twitter you can talk to anyone, but communication is restricted to 140 characters.

The very aspects of G+ are that of bringing the social back to the social network. People can view posts from people in their circles, but can also be included on shared posts by people outside of the circles; there’s also the idea that you can have discussions with a wide variety of people from around the world.

One of the features that I think is pretty neat in terms of the mobile app (for both Android and iPhone) is that of the Nearby communications; using your address, G+ plus people who are in your area who are also using G+. I’ve actually made a few G+ meets thanks to that. For the whole week that I’ve used the service, my circles actually include new people in both Denver and Google+, which is more than I can say for either Facebook or Twitter.

And I’ve been added to circles, but I don’t necessarily have to add them to my circles. I’m actually surprised at how popular I’m getting.

And then there’s the Hangout feature. The ability to voice/video chat with your friends, family, and new people is a great boom for those who live outside of your state and even business meetings. In fact, Google+ is starting to test out their network to that of businesses and I’ve even heard G+ called the business network.

So how does all of this work for a freelancer? Simple – you get to meet new freelancers – writers, designers, DTP, etc – whether in your area or around the world; with the Hangout feature, you can video conferencing with that new client; Circles can allow you to group your clients and post to them and not everyone; the Huddle feature for the mobile app allows you to group chat so that you know that your lunch meeting has been moved to dinner or the venue has changed.

I could probably go on and on about how Google+ could easily change the face of our social online lives, but why don’t you just try it yourself. Invites are still active, so you might be able to get in. I suggest you try it out. It’s hard to imagine that we’re still in the private beta and already Google has made some updates to the mobile apps and all things Google, as well as addressing and adding some of the requests that we as users had.

Who knows what the end product will be?

Gotta Have Those Priorities!

So another month is down and another in which I have actually been able to be productive – some what – and get the bills paid. Yeah, still hanging tight with finances, but at least I have finances at this point. Of course, it’s summer and that is either a good thing or a bad thing in terms of any type of work and employment. This summer, it’s occurred to me that I’m not seeing as many articles as I have previously; now not sure if that’s a result of the Google Panda aftermath or if it’s cause it’s just summer, I don’t know.

But it worries me.

But on a good hand, I’ve come to terms with my freelancing life. It’s been a hard road, for the…wow, year and a half that I’ve been doing it, but I made the realization two months ago that in all likelihood, I would probably not find a 9-5 job until 2012. Oh, I know what you’re saying – don’t freelancers leave those types of jobs to be their own bosses, etc? Yes, some do. However, I’m a part of those that were affected by the Great Recession in the fact that freelancing was a means to an end and there are freelancers that have been in that arena as well.

I’ve mentioned before that so far, I’ve found freelancing to be hard, which yes, duh, it probably would be, but I think at the heart of it was the fact that I wouldn’t be out of work for very long. See, I’m an office person – I need to have that structured 9-5, little cubicle, co-workers to talk to, clients/customers to get on my nerves – so that when I come home, I can unwind. I’m not going to be bothered until I have to get up and go to work the next day. Frankly, I’ve been doing it for so long, I’m just used to it.

Now, in all of those blogs and articles I read about taking the freelancing plunge and even from friends is that I need to treat freelancing like a job. That’s a problem for me and I think the root of it is that writing has been a fun endeavor and let’s face it, sometimes freelancing is not a fun endeavor. And obviously, because this is the professional world, my writing takes a hit when it comes to criticism. I’m used to getting the regular praise on a creative work and of course, nothing is returned to me for edits (unless I make them) so this was something I wasn’t prepared for. Quite frankly, I’ve been the better writer or in the circle of good writers that going pro has really made me think that maybe I’m not as good as I originally thought I was.

Talk about a blow to my pride and ego.

Back on track – I came to the realization that, no matter how many economists or governmental officials state it, there are no jobs right now and there probably won’t be for quite some time. And I guess I’m in that mentality where, unless I’m getting a ton of call backs or interviews set up, it’s kinda pointless to even bother looking. Why look for a non-existent job when I could concentrate on trying to make money freelancing? So step 1 has been taken care of.

Step I – Get concentrated on the freelancing thing. Don’t loathe it anymore. CHECK

Now step 2 is the kicker. The big, big problem I’m having with freelancing? I’m stuck in the house. Yes, yes, I need to get out and all that jazz, however that’s difficult to do when I don’t have a laptop. I had to sell mine to get the funds to move. Now, big ups is that a friend of mine is working on getting me a used one; down is that, it’s the start of the second month and I still don’t have one. See, I think having the laptop would be a great idea; it means I now am able to still work but not be in the house. And I came to terms with the fact that, I don’t mind working from home. I don’t.

Just not everyday.

And I certainly think I’d be a little more productive if I wasn’t constantly distracting myself with the normal Internet, phone, and other distraction. Yeah, I can probably distract myself while at the coffee shop or something, but I think after I’ve spent $5.00 on coffee and a bagel, I’d want to make that back up, meaning I gots to work on those articles. I even discovered that Denver has co-working offices – these offices where freelancers or people who work from home can go, talk to other people, brainstorm, and basically work in an office atmosphere. It’s an office that you can go to whenever. I think this is definitely something I want to invest in; an office I can go to for like, three days a week and then work at home for two? Yes.

But I’m gonna need that laptop.

Step II – Get laptop to escape house! I mean, work on projects in a much more social setting. STILL WORKING ON

The last step is prioritizing what I’m doing. I’ll admit, the last few months in my hard core freelancing has been hit with pitfalls, mostly cause of me. I’ve tried scheduling, which does work, as long as I don’t have that day in which everything wrecks it. There have been a number of times that it’s happened and I find that I lose about a week of work by not working. Not cool when this pays bills, right?

So this last week of June, leading to this start of July, I redid my schedule again. Instead of just having M-F as workdays and the weekends off, which usually went some of those M-F days I might work and then goof off, meaning that I had to take the weekends to work. I don’t like that. I like having my weekends off. So, I decided to change up stuff. Next week, I’m going to start this new schedule where each day I concentrate on one article sit and work on that through the day. With this new schedule, I actually have Fridays off, while working a 34 hour week. Not bad and it means I get free time (with the provision that Fridays are free, but can be used to work). I think this could work.

Step III – Get into a working schedule that allows work and play without hurting work. GIVING IT A TRY!

So July is gonna getting priorities straight. I like paying bills and I enjoy it even more when I’m not in debt, so…let’s go!

The Chicken Pox Caper & Other Things

Hiddey Ho, readerinis!

So you may have noticed that I was gone for a bit. Technically it was only supposed to be for a week, in hour of my 32nd birthday on the 11th. Sadly however, I received news of a friend’s death and it kinda put me in a bad funk. So, last week I had an idea for a post on SEO, but this week’s Facebook conversation has gotten me thinking about something else.

As a writer, you know that you can get inspiration in any place, at any time, and while I struggle to get my month end articles in, I’ve stumbled upon an intriguing mystery.

Here’s the scene –

In 2nd grade, not only get the writing bug, but I also caught one in the form of chicken pox. One of my classmates had caught it and was of course out because it’s contagious. However, I clearly remember them coming back, apparently cured, only to have nearly half the class out due to the chicken pox, which I think he still had.

Now for years, I have been under the impression that my friend, whom I’ll call NK, was the culprit. I’ve told stories on how in second grade, he caught the chicken pox and then proceeded to expose the rest of us. So imagine my surprise when, as part of a comment in regards to a virus posting that occurred on his page, I mentioned that he had given us chicken pox.

Now the kicker – not only had he not given Mrs. Wilson’s 2nd grade class chicken pox, he wasn’t even in Mrs. Wilson’s 2nd grade class.

0.o

That’s what I said!

This has of course brought up a peculiar mystery. If NK was not responsible for the chicken pox, nor being in the same class with me, who then gave me the chicken pox? Now, I will fully admit that I have always been a sickly kid, but usually it was the occasion flu or in my case bronchitis.

Being the mystery lover that I am and of course, knowing that this was going to bother and annoy me throughout the day and week, I did some investigating. If not NK, then who? Suspects? None, other than the people I could actively remember at the top of my head. One of those was that of LS. Luckily, NK had LS on Facebook speed dial, so I then went to go be friends with LS.

LS did confirm that, while he, NK, and I were in Mr. Franks 4th grade class together, the three of us were not in Mrs. Wilson’s class. However, LS and I were. Was it perhaps LS that I was thinking of? From my memory I knew several things about LS –

  1. we were pretty tight friends in elementary
  2. he introduced me to wrestling
  3. I received the 25th anniversary copy of Dr. Strange from him (or bought it, I don’t remember)
  4. I bit him once in 4th grade. I tend to bite.

However, I could not recall if LS had gotten chicken pox when the rest of us did. Then I reasoned it could have been BR, but I wasn’t so sure, as I couldn’t remember him being in Mrs. Wilson’s class. He was in Mr. Franks’ class, as he and I were both in band.

I of course had to write this post the day it came to light (Tuesday); there’s still the rest of the week to discover the truth. Was it perhaps DN? But didn’t we have 3rd grade together with Mrs. Schroeder? Or perhaps I’m completely wrong on the gender itself; all listed have been males. Was it a female culprit that I should be seeking?

UPDATE – So it turns out that LS also had chicken pox. The real question is – was he the same time the rest of us were. The mystery continues to deepen!