Writer. Thinker. Strategist. Creative Tight Rope Walker.

Posts by: admin


No, Thank YOU!

While I’m not thankful I fell off the blog writing wagon, I’m taking a moment to think about this year — not necessarily the best but certainly one with turning points and realizations that became glaringly clear when I pulled my head out of the sand… Thanks to….. My health for coming back to me to give me another chance to treat it like it deserves My kick-ass clients for letting me keep digging away with words to get better with them and keep fueling the habit My kids for keeping me from falling down the rabbit hole My long suffering friends who tolerate it all My brain and heart for finally getting into sync to say enough already The two brave souls that potentially may have gotten all the way through Mindscape Those new people who suddenly appeared at an eerily vital point on the timeline and probably won’t ever realize the incredible impact they are having even in the midst of delivering torture Especially thankful to be heading into 2017 and making it the year that changes everything

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A Regimen for Non-Paying Writing Work

When someone tells me I need to commit to my blog, exercise, or anything that typically ends up involving a stop-start approach that we all do, I get hung up on the word, commit. What comes to mind when I hear being committed is four padded walls and a limited variety of crayons. Let’s just say it’s not a motivating word for me. There are good intentions there but they never really pan out because interest wanes in writing my personal blog due to lack of financial support for the content or just by the very nature of all the other things that dominate my time. The truth is I let those other things take time away from any non-paying writing work when. I could make the time if I really wanted to and was ready to make it part of my daily regimen. I said the same thing about exercise not so long ago. Somehow I’ve made time and now are realizing those results. Two years later after making time to write every day, I also have my very first novel available for sale and the bulk of two more in the series waiting in the wings. It’s just making that mental and emotional decision to do it regardless of the fact that no paycheck comes with it because eventually it will bring some type of payoff just like the exercise does. It’s just about the long-term payoff rather than the short-term delivery. To get back to non-paying writing work, I’ve done the following: Schedule a block of time every day either first thing in the morning (typically around 4:45-5:15) or last thing before I go to bed. Both tend to involve a fuzzy brain but those are the easiest times to fit them in when the bulk of the day...

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What My Business Ownership has Taught My Kids

There’s a lot to learn from owning a business but even more if you have kids that are around that business on a daily basis. While I initially had parental guilt about running a business from home because I had to work and couldn’t always give my children the attention they wanted when home, I now see their experience with my business as a benefit for them. While kids don’t usually see what their parents do at work every day since most work away from home, my two get to see how much goes into starting and managing a business plus what it’s like to have a job before they have a job. The best part is that they like to help when there is something they can do. Not only are they developing a work ethic at an early age, but they are also gaining some “mad” skills. Since I’m in the writing and research business, they are improving their own writing skills at an early age by helping me on projects. Both know how to use numerous online tools like WordPress, Blogger, and social media platforms. They also are using sites like Google Books and Google Scholar for their own work. Having a business is a good way to also discuss certain values with my kids like money management, deadlines, clear communication and honesty. This has helped me explain those values and show them why they are so important to adhere to. They also see how I handle conflict and disappointment in work. When I’ve lost a client or been let go, I share it with them so they understand that work has its ups and downs but I use it as a positive platform to show them why I use the experience to learn and continue...

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How to Take Vacations as a Freelancer

It’s quite easy to become a workaholic when you take on the role of freelancer or small business owner. I’ve been guilty of that for years, but more recently I’ve been changing my mindset through careful planning and the belief that I deserved to take time off. Everyone needs a vacation because it’s necessary to recharge and top up that motivation. Yet, as a freelancer or small business owner, it’s not like you are getting a paid vacation. It’s a simple principle in the freelance business: work and get paid. don’t work and don’t get paid. That means you have to save up your money or work ahead or extra to have the money in the bank as though you had stayed here rather than took off for parts unknown. I’ve worked out an effective system in the last few years that has let me disappear for up to a month to places like Australia and England without taking work with me or losing my monthly income. Here’s how: Start with an annual budget that accounts for the type of trips you want to take. For longer trips like my upcoming month in England, I started planning soon after coming back from previous trip to Australia. There was a two-year gap there between trips where I worked on a budget that helped me save for the plane tickets, accommodations, side trips and more as well as the number of weeks off from paid writing work. Plan and book your holiday well in advance of actually taking it. By committing to the trip by making a deposit, you are more likely to save money to cover it while you are gone plus give your clients plenty of notice to schedule work in advance. This is a good idea for long...

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What Workflow?

If you go to an office everyday and have a traditional job, you pretty much know what is on tap every day. When you are a freelancer, every day is different. One of the most challenging things I’ve found is planning out workflow where there is a steady stream and you can look ahead to see what’s coming for maximum productivity. However, that doesn’t always seem to go as planned. Today is a day to catch up on blog posts because I have a lull — the first one in months. This would typically freak me out and put me into panic mode but now I see this as an opportunity to spend the day on other productive tasks that I usually have no time to even think about let alone do. This means marketing myself to more potential clients, doing research for long-term projects, and getting in more exercise and even a lunch with a friend. I even see it as a relief now after working weeks on end with no weekends off or chunks of free time. If you want to know when this lull is coming or you want to create your own, then there are some ways to control this so you aren’t caught off guard by a quiet day: Ask your clients to create a monthly schedule of work that they need you to complete and state that they can also add in more on short notice. The idea is to get a month of work in advance so you can see what have to produce for them as well as your other clients so you can portion out the assignments across each week for a more effective schedule.  The only part about lulls that is tough for me is that I could have taken...

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Freelancer Tips for Working from Home

Working from home sounds like the best thing ever, especially compared to having commute and waste hours of your life in traffic. And, it really is the best thing ever. However, while enjoying this flexibility, freedom, and convenience, you need to remember that you must stay productive. There’s no one there to watch over you so it might be easy to get pulled to the couch for one episode only to realize that you binge watched the day away with Netflix. Instead, you need to stay focused on your work and maximize that revenue potential that is there for the taking thanks to the growth in available freelance projects. Here are some tips I’ve learned throughout the last 13 years that have helped me stick to my content writing projects while still striking a balance between work and play: Make a professional office. My office has a door that closes out the rest of the house and is set away from the noisy areas. It only has things I need to get my work done. While everyone might not have this luxury, try to make the environment as professional as possible to mentally psych yourself out that you are in there to work. The ability to close the door helps keep others out, but it also reminds me to go shut it when I’m done for the day rather than returning continually. Get dressed. While this may sound obvious, I did actually work for a PR agency from a home office where my boss often was in her pajamas, robe, and slippers. It was her house and I never questioned it plus it was in the days before video conferences and Skype. For me, though, I would not feel like I was actually working if I didn’t get dressed and do...

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Preparing for the Freelance Life

It’s been nearly 13 years since I made the switch to freelance life so, in certain respects, I was somewhat of a pioneer. Nowadays, there are 53 million other freelancers just like me, specializing in all types of areas within and beyond my niche of content writing. Not to sound old, but today’s freelancers have it way more easier than I had back in the day. No, I didn’t walk miles to my office in snow uphill. I did what most other freelancers did and sauntered from one room to another in my house to start my work day. It’s not the commute that I’m talking about; it’s the growing acceptance and realization of value that has opened up many more job opportunities, benefits, and even an organization called the Freelancers Union to help provide further assistance. While I certainly enjoy the growing acceptance of freelancers and the fringe benefits now being offered, there are many other things I wish I knew about making the transition when I had taken this leap of faith. Thirteen years ago, I held an Account Executive position in a busy PR firm. That meant a weekly paycheck, health insurance, gas card, leased car and even a profit sharing plan. I had been there for 13 years so it was a solid job. The only problem was there was no room for growth as the only person above me was the CEO. I was also just months away from the birth of my first child. The thought of continuing to commute to a job that was 70+ miles each way with no more challenge left me less than motivated about working. My idea was that I would quit and do some work for the PR firm as a freelancer from home while trying to...

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Tips for Work-Life Balance

I have always been — and are often still guilty of being — a workaholic. The tendency to work all the time is fading though as I realize the advantages of reaching a work-life balance that feels satisfying. You may see top business people and celebrities discuss how they can do it and have it all, but most of us can see that money tends to solve those imbalances pretty easily. My tips for reaching this balance don’t involve nannies or a team of handlers. If anything, it’s simply about making and sticking to some life changes based on putting it all in perspective: You don’t want to miss your kids growing up or not be part of their memories. You want to live longer rather than go to an early grave. You deserve to enjoy life just like all the people you are working for. It’s simple and very true, but it has taken me a long time to really believe it. Here’s what I did to consciously to recalibrate and strike a balance: Create a schedule many months ahead that I use to fill in important school and social events I want to go to, including purposely scheduling time with friends and family. Putting it on the calendar in advance as much as possible allows me to control my workflow to satisfy both parts of my life. For example, I know that I’m taking a long trip this summer so a few months in advance I will alert my clients so I can double up on the work so they will never know I was even gone. From my kids’ sporting activities to help with homework, carving out this time provides relaxation and quality time that is priceless. Automate as much as possible. Technology has made it...

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My Freelance Toolbox of Resources, Apps, and Tools

This is a great time to be a freelancer because we are finally being taken seriously by corporate America and snatched up by the entrepreneur crowd that recognize good talent and understand the value of our working relationship. With this new status comes a wide range of tools, apps, and solutions that help us do our job better. While I managed somehow before these, now I don’t know what I would do without the toolbox I now have at my disposal. Here are some of the tools and apps I use that help me be more productive, organized, and enjoy better cash flow: WordPress makes me feel like I can actually produce online content that looks great and offers a user-friendly dashboard so I can quickly update my website pages or add a blog post. With this free website and blogging tool, I have no excuse for not staying on top of my own marketing strategy. Trello is a great collaboration and organization tool that uses online sticky notes. This has removed the clutter from my desk and computer screen where physical paper Post-It Notes would remain for months on end. Now, I can easily update, toss, and create new notes and task lists while also offering access to others that I may be working with on a project. Google Drive provides a way for me to collaborate easily with others on projects. I can create a word processing document, presentation, or spreadsheet where others that I designate can make changes or comments. Gone are the days of continuously emailing each other revised drafts that were often passing inefficiently and where confusion reigned as to who had the most current draft. It saves time and definitely headaches. Plus, I can access it from anywhere to make those quick changes...

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The Life of a Freelancer 2.0

Recent articles and blog posts are covering the life of a freelancer while organizations like Freelancer Union are forming to provide a place to get assistance and benefits provisions. It’s an exciting time to be a freelance writer like myself because now there are more opportunities, better pay, and the ability to seek out competitive health insurance. This was not always the case. When I started 13 years ago as a freelance copywriter, I wasn’t sure if it would really work. I had a full-time position for a public relations and strategic marketing agency that promised steady work and income. However, I was just about to give birth to my first child and the prospect of leaving him to travel more than 70 miles one way to my job was not appealing at all. The commute had already been wearing me down with some journeys home taking more than a few hours. It wasn’t what I wanted out of life. Instead, I wanted more flexibility and greater challenges. At the time, though, creating a career on my terms didn’t seem that realistic. I didn’t know if my present employer would still provide any work let alone where else could I find jobs from? After doing some research, I discovered some possibilities, including a new freelance website called Guru.com and some academic writing service agencies in the UK. As a two-income family, there was something to fall back on, but the future was still quite uncertain at that point. I ended up taking on a swimming pool maintenance route in my husband’s business to help him out, fill in my time while I worked on getting writing gigs, and to provide income. Fast forward about three years. With a second child on the way, my freelance writing had slowly picked up...

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