Tag Archives: Joe Wallace

Trust and Fame: The Gospel According To Nemo Design

Dave Allen had some compelling things to say about quality work, ideas that all freelance writers should take to heart. The discussion includes the notion of doing AMAZING work versus merely GOOD work–a concept which resonates with me thanks in part to the fact that I’m reading similar concepts in the recent Henry Rollins book DULL ROAR. Now I am digesting the book in light of the Dave Allen Social-Cache post. If there’s one thing that’s hammered away at over and over in the Rollins books, it’s the insistence on doing the absolute best in spite of all opposition, personal baggage, fatigue, pain, whining, excuses, lack of involvement from your band mates, etc.

I have a hard time reading Dave Allen and Henry Rollins on this subject because I have to go back to the real world when I’m done–the world where you have to lower your expectations or else be constantly annoyed by a lack of interest in basic issues of quality. Hey, I spent 13 years in the military where nobody gets fired, but if you had enough seniority you could impose any standards you wanted. That includes no standards at all or asking-far-too-much-for-no-good-reason madness.

You also had your creative work–writing, editing, photography, the lot–critiqued by people who had no idea how to string two words together to say thank you, let alone put together a script or an article. It gives one a work ethic that says “not on my watch” or it sucks all the life out of you.

But I ramble. Check out that post over at Social-Cache. Well worth your time and it’s an idea worth taking to heart.

Nikon D700: My Next Equipment Purchase

I have been looking at a new digital SLR camera for some time now. Since 2004, I’ve been enhancing my freelance writing with the Nikon D70, a 6 megapixel SLR that has served me well. I’ve gotten my photo work in everything from The Pentagon Channel to Chicago-area art galleries using the D70, but it’s time to step up.

Basically the differences between the D70 and the D700 won’t mean anything to you unless you’re already a photographer, but I can say that the Nikon D700 being capable of 12 megapixels and being much more sensitive to existing light than the D70 make it an attractive investment regardless of your experience level. It also features 51-point autofocus, a great fallback solution when you just don’t trust your eyes in that little viewfinder.

All that aside, if you are a complete photo noob, consider buying a D70 (or another comparable brand/model) first and learning your chops before moving up to the roughly $3000 D700. One thing new photographers won’t like about the D700–the 3K asking price is for the camera body ONLY. The D70 comes with a factory lens, the D700 does not. If you are looking to increase your freelance potential with photographs, the Nikon D70 is an affordable way to do it, but be warned–the D70 isn’t as forgiving in low light and you might be better off with a comparable Canon product in the same price range (around $800).

I am definitely investing in the D700 for many reasons, thanks to some informed advice and my own experience with the D70. Spend your money wisely, don’t just take my word for it, do your homework on web forums for photogs such as the incredible DPreview.com. That website is worth its weight in photo gold.

Joe Wallace’s Top Ten Rules of Writing

Egotistical of me to put my own name in the headline, I know, but I’m competing with Robert’s Rules of Order and Strunk & White here, so why not? This is my current top ten of the moment–many of which I’ve been doling out to people who I edit or mentor in the craft. Rest assured, I break at least two of these in this very blog post, but then again, I am not submitting this to an editor for money.

10. For informal writing like advice columns, blogging or CD reviews, write like you talk–unless you talk like an idiot.

9. Never use a word you don’t fully understand. Do you KNOW what “avuncular” means? Or the actual meaning of the word “hopefully”? Look it up first.

8. If you don’t know specifically when it is appropriate to use an apostrophe, DON’T. Spell out “it is” and “there is” instead.

7. If you don’t know the difference between “they’re”, “their”, and “there”, quit writing until you do. You’re making an idiot out of yourself.

6. If you refuse to write “modicum” when “a small amount” will do, GOOD FOR YOU.

5. Never use jargon if you don’t understand the full meaning. What is the difference between an aircraft, an airframe or an air platform? Don’t know? Don’t use it.

4. The Pentagon cannot “say” ANYTHING. Neither can Isreal, Boeing, or the Clinton campaign. A spokesperson for any or all of these entities can say whatever he or she likes.

3. There is no such thing as a life-giving shooting spree, so why write about a “deadly” one?

2. Cut the crap. You don’t need to write “Well, let me tell you..” or “I bet there’s something you didn’t know” when “Let me tell you” and “There’s something you didn’t know” will do. Forget all “will be” and “going to” phrases. Just say what’s about to happen.

1. Read your work out loud before you declare it finished. You’ll discover that draft is NOT finished.

How To Properly Interpret Craigslist Job Ads

I know there are still people out there who attempt to use Craigslist to find freelance writing jobs. I have my own personal opinions on the value of Craigslist for freelance writing gigs, which boil down to a single word. Patience. If you have it, you will be rewarded. If you don’t, forget it. There is about a one in 20 chance you’ll find something worth your time, and when you DO locate a good gig, it usually pays off. But in order to avoid wasting (even more) time sifting through CL ads, I offer you this helpful interpretation of the terms and verbiage often used in these ads:

  • Great exposure = work for free
  • Energetic = can work in spite of hangover
  • College students, stay at home moms, and people looking to make extra money = people who will work for cheap
  • Interns wanted = work for free
  • College graduates = can work in spite of hangover for low pay
  • Assistant = low pay and do non-writing grunt work
  • Customer satisfaction = low pay and non writing grunt work
  • Passionate = long hours and weekends
  • Enthusiastic = long hours, weekends and holidays
  • “Do you love __________” = work for free
  • Send us a sample blog post = we will use your work without paying you
  • Send us your story ideas = we’re too lazy to do our own brainstorming
  • Send us email for job details = we want to send spam to you. Lots.
  • Revenue sharing = write for free
  • Google Ads = write for free
  • New website = no readers, write for insultingly low pay
  • Experienced writers wanted = will take no experience for low pay
  • Highly experienced writers wanted = will take some experience for low pay
  • Startup = no pay
  • Non-Profit = long hours and low (or no) pay
  • Reviewers wanted = write for free and spend too much time exposed to bad “artists”
  • B to B writers wanted = commercial writing experience only
  • Writing contest = pay to write
  • Compensation DOE = won’t make you an offer, will make you name a price and try to lowball you
  • Compensation: Hourly = you can make more somewhere else
  • Subject matter expert wanted = internet researcher wanted
  • Compensation $9 an hour = clueless noob wanted
  • Must have degree = we’re clueless about hiring freelancers
  • B.A. in Journalism required = serious news gig OR clueless about hiring freelancers
  • Detail oriented = expects too much from one person in too short a time
  • Motivated = desperate

The Naked Freelancer

I have been looking for more and more outrageous ways to sucker people into reading these screeds. While it’s true that there’s plenty of advice to dispense, there’s also a dire lack of (fun) sensationalism in the freelance writing blog community, so I thought I’d up the ante a little bit by injecting a bit of it here.

Today, in pursuit of said eye-grabbing sensationalist fun, I did a Google search on the term “the naked freelancer” just to see what would come up. I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest, but I found several entries that made me laugh. For a start, somebody posted a gig on GetAFreelancer.com with the headline “Naked Nude Porn Picture Detector”. Believe it or not, this person (who would only pay up to $250 for such a thing) was actually looking for a “naked nude porn picture” BLOCKER. Or so the ad says.

Another bout of laughs–on purpose this time–came by way of FreelanceSwitch. Mary Beth Ellis posted a pictorial and essay called Day In The Life Of A Freelancer. Mary Beth exposes the REAL life of an experienced freelancer in this hard-hitting tell-all. Newcomers will be shocked by both the wake-up times AND the images of the kinds of research fulltimers get up to around 2PM. Mary Beth, you’ve outed us ALL. Except mine’s the Heineken, not the Chardonnay. Continue reading The Naked Freelancer

A Huge Ever-Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Center of the Underworld

I know EXACTLY what you are thinking. What does this UK dancefloor classic have to do with freelance writing? Funny you should ask…Alex Patterson is the mad genius behind The Orb, which releases trippy, quirk-laden music. Patterson never releases his musical projects without collaborating with someone else–I’m not sure why, but there just doesn’t seem to be a solo album in Patterson’s future, ever.

Fans of The Orb know what they are getting, more or less, every time they purchase a new CD. Naturally there are those who feel The Orb’s best days are behind them (after all, they’ve been at this game a long time now) but Patterson still keeps making music and much of it is still very, very good.

What in the WORLD can a freelancer learn from Alex Patterson? Continue reading A Huge Ever-Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Center of the Underworld