Blog Archives

The Path to a Career…Or, I’m Turning 35, What Do I Do Now??

Bueno, good readers!

As some of you may or may not know, my birthday is coming up next and it’s the monumental big 3-5. The quintessential middle-aged number, the halfway point to forty and I’m turning it. While I’m not particularly happy about it, a much more pressing issue has begun to crop up as I start the countdown.

My career.

You see, I don’t have one and as I’m about to approach the age where I should have that, married, kids, the whole nine yards, I have of course begun to think about that it is I wanna be when I grow up. And the answer is… Read the rest of this entry

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When in Doubt, Network!

So thanks to the economy and those pesky things called bills, last year I went looking for a full-time job and got one doing tech support towards the end of the month. Oh, I still have my occasional freelancing gigs, but it’s all about paying the rent and getting out of debt, you know. One of the good things about coming back to the workforce, especially when phone tech support, is that you meet a lot of new and interesting people.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who has or is doing some office work and freelancing on the side, so you’ve probably encountered folks who may have been interested in what other things you do – this can certainly be family and friends, but I’m talking about co-workers and yes, even clients. Working tech support for an ISP, I of course speak to a lot of different people, every minute, of every hour, of every day that I’m working; many are just regular folks having issues, but once in a while I speak to folks that are doing what I am – freelancing/work at home/small business – and I basically make a new friend. Read the rest of this entry

Should I Get a Portfolio?

Hello friends!

Sorry for the lateness, again, but there’s good news abound! I have, for the moment, a job! And it’s actually putting to use my obsession with social media. So hooray for that. But that’s not what I’m here to talk to you about.

In my most recent job search, as well as my trying to decide what I wanted to do this time around, I came across a very important question – should I, as a freelance writer, have a portfolio? Read the rest of this entry

How NOT to be…Facebook, part II

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

Mornin’ readers!

So, our last post here on FRR was about Facebook‘s continued foray into making their users not want to use them again. This was in response to the new change that Facebook made during the summer in which they changed their users’ email addresses with that of their very own Facebook email address, whether they wanted it or not.

Not that this was the first time that Facebook as annoyed users, whether it be constantly changing their privacy policies or changing them while erasing previously set up settings that a user had done or the bragging they did about their IPO that didn’t really do so well.

So in this second part, we’ll look at how we as freelancers can avoid doing some of these things that FB insists on doing to the rest of us.

3. Not Caring About Users

As a freelancer, it’s important that you take into account what your client wants. Now, sometimes the client may have some crazy ideas that they want to see done, which is when you should politely request that perhaps that idea is crazy. However, the important thing is always keep their ideas and requests in your head. Not caring about what your client – or users – want can cost you a rep.

4. Making It Impossible for the Client to Change Anything

Here is the big thing with Facebook – every change and implementation they make almost seems purely designed to see how many of their users will actually take the time to change it. Of course, many of the social network’s users actually don’t bother to change things like their privacy settings (which is bad, btw!), however for those who want to make sure that only their friends and families can find them, trying to change anything on Facebook is a hassle and confusing and utterly frustrating.

This might be an issue for those of you who freelance in web design or even programming; if you have designed something that will allow the client to change something – like a web site in which they can log in to access an account – don’t make it so complicated that they aren’t able to do so. In the case of programming, of course there will be sections in which the client shouldn’t have access to, but if it’s something as simple as trying to change their password or even changing the color scheme (if they are able), let it be easy enough for them to do it without them breaking anything.

Facebook isn’t the only big company that’s been making some big mistakes in the last few years. Next, we’ll take a look at how Netflix managed to dig themselves into a hole that nearly buried them, while Sony’s Playstation Network was determined to give out every one of their client’s credit card numbers.

How to Use Social Media to Get People to Read Your Stuff

I’ve hit the message of using social media in terms of getting people to read your stuff. And I’m pretty sure I went over why this is important and if you remember me say it, then please forgive the rehash of this, because this is kinda important.

Technology is big. Crazy big. So big that people will look at you funny if you aren’t on at least one social network site (or they may look at you funny if you say you’re still on MySpace). Now, as you are a newbie freelancer (and hopefully not a noob freelancer), you might feel the need to sign up for every single social network site every where and anywhere.

But if I may – you’re just getting started. Why not just use the ones you’re using now?

Say what?

Listen, I was in your same boat; hell, I’m probably still in the same boat! When I started looking into becoming a freelancer on a full time basis, I went and signed up for a whole section of social networks. I got the Twitter, I went LinkedIn, signed up for Diggs (oh, if only I could remember my login info for this), Stumble (same thing), and I’m even posting about articles and blogs on Facebook (which I was adamant about not doing).

But as with the fate of Diggs and Stumble, you of course run into the issue of forgetting what login you have where, especially if you are just posting links to stuff.

But for you, my friend and avid reader of my blog, I’m going to tell you a secret in why – after all these sign ups – you aren’t getting people to read your stuff.

Because you haven’t said ‘hello’.

New freelancers or anyone going gung ho on the online business shift seem to forget that social media is still social. Now, believe me – I do think it’s a bit suspicious that people can post every hour or minute on FB or Twitter (especially when I know they should be working); hey, even I get a little distracted in responding to Tweets, but that’s social media. Think about why you signed up for Facebook.

The point of social networking is to talk to people. That’s the social part; the networking part is the meeting new people and learning new things. Think about Facebook – most times, you’re friends with your friends’ friends, right?

Now that I’ve given you that info, how exactly do you use social media to get people to your stuff?

  1. Sign up for a social network. Just start with one (if you don’t have one); we’ll call it reader’s choice.
  2. Search for friends. This is where I think many newbies fall. I know what you’re thinking – “I’ve signed up for Twitter and now I just sit back and wait for people to come to me” Sorry, but that is not how social media works. Unless you are a celebrity in any fashion (designer, director, Charlie Sheen), no one is just going to start following you. Find people that hold your interests – writing, blogging, websites, etc and start following them. In most cases, they’ll follow you, meaning you now have access to their friends, meaning their friends have access to you.
  3. Tell people. Social media is no good to you if you don’t tell people. Now, if you’re doing articles or design work, you may not be able to post your Twitter name or Facebook page, but if the option is there, do it. And while you’re at it, post it on your website too.
  4. Make Friends. This is a part of the ‘search for friends’ thing, but think of the people you could be making friends with. The Internet is an awesome thing, where you can meet people from all around the world. I have made friends around the states, as well as the UK and Australia. I even have friends in Canada, places I have never been to, but yet I have known these people for years (we’re talking 10+)
  5. Say Something. You, my friend, are a writer. I wrote this blog for writers. And freelancers, but mostly freelancing writers. As a writer, you have things to say. Hence why you are writing. Why then are you not using that gift to say something on your social media site?

Social media is all about give and take really – if you want followers, you have to go out and get them. And they, in return for your cleverness and fit, may reward you with followers for you. Just try it if you haven’t and if you haven’t, why not? And hey! Don’t forget about those real people you got hanging around you. Word of mouth still gets going in the real world too!

Pimp Out Your Writing

Last week, I pimped out my website. This week, I’m pimping out my articles. Right now, you’re probably asking, “Whatcha talkin’ about, Gina?”

Granted, I don’t remember when or where I started using the word “pimp” as both verb and noun, but I like it and I’m sticking with it. As for what I’m talkin’ bout, I’m talking about giving a shout out to your work. Now, I will admit, this new concept of mine is still in the beginning stages, as in I’m just now deciding that I’d probably get more views if people were aware of what I was doing.

Social networks are great and I have enough posts about them to say that, but even I can admit that I’m not using them as effectively as I should. Every freelancer should be making blog posts or Tweets or announcements that they’ve done something new. Don’t get me wrong – sometimes I get a little annoyed when all I’m getting are tweets of the same stuff over and over again (in fact, I dropped someone for that).

You can’t just use social media as a banner ad for your stuff; you have to be engaging and talk to folks, but also occasionally mention that, by the way, I’m a writer and I’ve done stuff. Of course, it’s also helpful it’s good stuff, meaning that you’ll get more traffic.

I’m doing freelancing as full time right now, meaning that while upfront payments are awesome and god sends, I also like that revenue stream. What’s revenue, you ask? Well, in online publication and online traffic itself, revenue is the percentage you get when people stop by your website or blog or articles. If you get a ton of people everyday or every second, that translates into more money for you.

That’s a good thing.

Don’t ask me to go over the math – there’s a reason I’m a writer and not a mathematician – but you could make some good money off the streams themselves. Check out this article from Problogger on how well Darren Rowse was doing; I myself am at the $50 mark in streams. I’m sure that others writers are making $500.

Why?

Well, for one, I’m sure that their stuff if brilliant, which helps with getting people to read it. Two, they probably told people, who told people, who told people, etc.

So this month, I’m endeavoring to get more traffic to my articles and if you haven’t done that, I suggest you do. Not everyone will read, but even one person who reads it, then passes it on is still a good cause. Think about it – if that one person enjoys your work, they’ll want to come back to see more. They’ll tell their friends and so on and so on. Before long, you’ve got an audience.

But Gina, I don’t followers for articles! I want followers for my Great Novel I’m writing!

Calm down there, Grasshopper. You’re missing the point. If people are following your articles, they probably enjoy your writing, meaning that if you tell people, “hey folks, I wrote a book”, where do you think your followers will go, huh?

To my book?

Yes. See, you can’t just concentrate on the small, you have to go big on this. If your writing is solid, then people are going to be checking out all that you can do, get me? Don’t go for broke just yet, of course, but build up that presence and those followers and you’ll find that you might be just fine when that book of yours comes out.

And now – let the pimping begin! Check out some my articles on Bright Hub. If you’re a newbie freelancer, this is one of the best online publications to get started on, so check it!

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And of course, if you’re interested in knowing more about lil ole me, you can follow me on Facebook and make sure you sign up for the RSS and stuff, so you know the next time I impart words of wisdom. Or just words. Usually words.

TweetUps & You

In my move to a brand new city, I knew that I couldn’t exactly just have the three friends that I had already known when I moved here. Despite my loner qualities, I actually do enjoy meeting people and one of the first things that I did – well, before I moved to Denver – was to check in on this thing called a TweetUp.

What’s a tweetup, you ask? It’s basically meeting those people that you talk to/follow on Twitter who are local to you. After I made my decision to move to Denver, that was what I did. Made friends with Denver and Colorado people on Twitter. And that’s how I heard about the tweetup.

So for my very first tweetup, it was great! It’s definitely an excellent way to network with different people, as well as meeting those folks that  you’ve been replying or DM-ing on Twitter. I got to meet Jerome Shaw (@jeromeshaw/@DenverTwitr) who I have been asking about Denver for at least a month now and the awesome Ashley Kingsley (@ashleykingsley), who was not only awesome for putting everything together last night, but cause she’s short and that automatically makes her awesome!

Now I’m sure you have questions…

Do I have to be on Twitter?

Nope. In fact, a couple of people were using Facebook or weren’t doing any type of social media at all. These were also friends or spouses, but it was still great to meet some really nice folks. I even met some Arizona folks, so it was great speaking about our ‘special’ state.

Should I bring business cards?

In a word – YES! I’m so mad that I didn’t think to make business cards. See, this is why freelancers should get business cards, so that you can pass them out to people. BUT don’t let that discourage you. Not everyone had a business card and when in doubt, people used planners or their phones. I actually downloaded a notepad on my phone just so I could start writing down real names next to the Twitter name.

I just started freelancing; is this a good way to pimp my name?

Yes, but don’t treat it like you’re only there to do business. But also don’t make it a down home party either. If you’re new, people are going to want to know something about you, especially those folks that don’t follow you on Twitter. So tell that what you do. As I said, it is a good way to network. There were a lot of big names that are ‘in the know’ about social media, marketing, writing, freelancing, and business in general.

For instance, I happened to mention that this week I had been thinking about getting started in copywriting and lo and behold, there was someone there who happened to know and do some copywriting. See? I just mentioned when asked what I was doing.

So this social media works then?

Do you remember one of the very first posts I did about social media? You don’t? That’s okay, I’ve linked it for you. Anyway, one of the first posts I did was about how I was starting to use Facebook and Twitter to tell people, “hey, I wrote some stuff and I think you should read it!” And behold, here you are reading this! See? See how that works?

In the end, most importantly I had a really great time and met some new people in the city I now live in. I wish I had gotten everyone that I talked to on Twitter *grr!*, but hopefully when another one of these happens, I’ll be there again. So, my young freelancing padawans, if you’re looking for people to follow on Twitter, I’ve put some of the awesome people down on the list here. They have awesome things to say and share with folks, so if you aren’t following them, you should!

Ashley – @ashleykingsley

Jerome – @jeromeshaw and @DenverTwitr

Betti – @nowmedias

Patti – @thebusinessloft

Donna – @donnafeldman

Stevie – @stevieknight

Tomorrow, my crazy decision on being a copywriter! No, seriously.