Thursday, January 31, 2008

When Good Gigs Go Bad...

Relationships end. That's a fact of life. It's definitely a fact of freelance writing. But what happens when something that seems so right ends up being so wrong?

We all have been through it and if you haven't, count yourself lucky. You get with clients you wish had never darkened your email box. Clients you wish you'd thrown back into the Craigslist pool.

Like most relationships, we try to fix what is broken. Perhaps the client is rude, or inexperienced to the point of detriment to the project or so scatterbrained their indecision affects your ability to provide service. Perhaps they are demanding and supreme micro-managers.

Whatever the case, several techniques can be applied: ignore the irritating portion of the client and focus on the good, try to understand the client's point of view, tactfully approach the client with your concerns or end the relationship.

Ignoring the problem could work if it only crops up occasionally, but if it's a steady stream, you may find yourself dealing with more elephants in the room than you've got space for.

Looking from the client's perspective - are they stressed? Have they just started being difficult? Maybe there's something going on. It's no excuse, but we all have those rough patches.

Approaching the client. Even the most tactful run the risk of the relationship ending. Decide beforehand if you are willing to lose a gig to win peace of mind. Sometime's it's worth it, other times - man you just gotta let it burn - to paraphrase Usher.

That doesn't mean you hit your soon-to-be-ex-client with a barrage of insults and tell 'em to hit the bricks, even though you may want to. Badly. So bad you have to walk away from the computer less your fingers take over. Put away the gasoline and step away from the bridge - you may need it.

The thing to remember is to maintain your professionalism even if you're client doesn't. Because your professionalism is a trademark of your character and as a hallmark of your character, other clients will not only love to work with you, they'll be immune to any naysayer former client yuckiness.

You never know where you're going to see a client again, the writing world can be awfully small sometimes and editors gossip like schoolgirls sometime.

Coming up tomorrow: Signs of a Bad Gig

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

One Problem with Offline Editor Qumana

Not too long ago I raved about the perks of the offline blog editor. Well, I've found an issue. I can't at least with Qumana, set the dates of the blogs to post ahead. I can set the times, however when I hit publish they all publish at the same time.

Bummer. I've now have to look into another brand to see if I can get this to work. It's a shame too, Qumana is easy to use and looks cool. I'm still being pretty productive, but for blogging ahead I still have to cut and paste into the original Wordpress or Blogger blogs.


How's your Wednesday?

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Importance of Communicating with Your Clients

There's nothing like having one agreement with a client and then realizing they had something completely different in mind.

Often a quick email or phone call is all it takes to ensure that you'll deliver the product the client expects. Other times it may take a sit down meeting and submitting a rough draft.

Many writers cringe at the thought of submitting a rough copy to a client for fear that the client will then begin their critique of the work. This definitely happens and if you know your client, you may just want to submit an outline and avoid detail that'll have them taking out their editor's pen.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. I know I sometimes hesitate with a new client because I'm afraid they'll think I don't know what I'm doing. Well, if I turn in something completely different than what they were expecting, they'll think I'm clueless for sure.

When approaching a project, put your interviewer's hat on with the client. What are all the things you'd want to know about the project if you weren't involved? What are the things the client's  audience would want to know?

For some of my more frequent work I have a base list of questions I ask before getting into the detail of the particular project. Nothing like writing a press release and having to call the client up and ask - "When is the event?"

When working with your clients, what steps do you take to make sure you both are on the same page?


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Monday, January 21, 2008

Living Dr. King's Dream Through Freelance Writing

A strange thought I know, but being a freelance writer is a good example of Dr. King's dream. He dreamed of a person being judged by the content of a their character, not the color of their skin.

Most freelancers don't go have to drag out their good suit and show up for a person-person interview. There is little worry about being judged based on skin color, age, sex, religion or sexual orientation.

Freelance writers are judged by experience, skill and killer queries.

People often woe the dangers of the net and the ability for prejudice people to find like minds to express their rage and hate. And while the net does provide anonymous cover for butt heads, it also provides a blank slate for which people can write their own destinys. It provides information and resources that likely would have been closed to some people.

So stand proud fellow writers and keep King's dream alive.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Offline Blog Editors Rock!!!

The other day I sent out a call for anyone with feedback on offline blog editors for MACs.  I have to admit, I was skeptical at first. Would it really save me that much time? Would my life be that much easier?

HECK YEAH! I have been blogging my butt off! Seriously, I have to remind myself to get up and shake out the booty. Part of the problem with wrangling multiple blogs is the signing in/out, switching screens to look up info, etc. Having an offline editor smoothes this process out for you.

Not too mention you don't have to have Internet access to blog! No more typing it up in Word, copying and pasting into the blog, then adding tags etc.

I'm catching up on all my work and I can see my productivity scale shooting straight up! I'm using Qumana Blog Manager and really it's easy to use and has a cool look. *They should pay me for that ad.

Anyway, things are looking up in blog world, they are looking up.

Have you boosted your productivity lately? Do tell!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Offline Blog Editor for MAC's

Hey all!

Good Tuesday to you! I know things have been a little crazy here at FWJ&M but I want you to know I'm taking steps to get back in the loop with you while maintaining my work committments.

Ah work commitments. Good to have 'em. Damn good. As much as I miss the hours of wondering if I'd ever get paid for doing what I love & do well, I am enjoying the hustle and bustle of steady writing work.

Part of why things are a little batty is because I am working for a couple of other blogs and managing my personal blogs and work blogs has become a little stressful, so I've been letting you all slide - I know, I'm terrible, but I know you all understand!

I checked out a recent post over at Performancing by Deborah Ng (Boy is that woman everywhere or what? An inspiration I tell ya). On managing multiple blogs and one of the tips she suggested is an offline editor. I checked out a couple and to my dismay I see they are for Windows users. As I am a sworn Macaphile, I find myself searching for an offline editor.

Anyone have any recommendations? I'd like to start posting freelance writing jobs again, but can't until I can streamline the process. I could just hire someone, but we're not ballin' like that yet!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Finding It Hard to Settle...

I'm working on some great projects so this year and I'm finding it hard to settle in on a time to chat with you all. A great position to be in! But, I do miss my freelancing friends, so on the off day, Tuesday, let's catch up.

I'm also finding it hard to settle for the same things I settled for in 2007. Especially when it comes to freelancing. I'm finding it difficult to accept poor excuses for poor work OR poor excuses for a distinct lack of professionalism I seem to be encountering lately.

Perhaps it's the sense of renewal the New Year brings. It makes the old things so, well, last year. I wonder if instead of the "liquid courage" people take on New Year's Eve, some of my fellow professionals have doubled up on "electronic courage." You would not believe some of the things I have witnessed in the writing world in the past 8 days of the new year. But I digress.

Are you tired of the old things? Tired of that low paying or no paying blog? How! About! Those ads that promise the! Moon! in exclamations - I love that Tricia. Are you tired enough to stop writing for those $2 an article gigs? Tired of your disorganized files or working so many hours you forget what the kids look like? Are you ready to stop settling? Do share!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Year, New Perspective

Every new year people vow to change something about themselves. They will work less, or work more efficiently. They will lose weight, declutter their homes and spend more time having fun. Usually by February these goals are but whispers on the wind.

Instead, let's all decide to change the way we look at things. A new perspective on old situations may be just what we need to achieve the things we really want.

This applies to freelancing as well. Take the time to look through your old files with a new eye. Take a second look at your idea file. Repurpose ideas, maybe the pitch hasn't worked for magazines, but it may work for trades or Web sites.

Check out old clips. Do you have a group of clips that could make their way into a longer article? Are there other publications that may be interested in the idea, what about the reprint? Perhaps your clips may be the outline of a book.

It's a whole new year, with brand new possibilities. Learn from the past - missed deadlines, botched blogs; celebrate triumphs - new gigs and publishing successes; and leave your old perspectives behind.