Category Archives: resources

Productivity x 3

ManageYourDaytoDayIn recent weeks I have been using my annual spring/summer sabbatical from publication layout work to develop several of my own creative projects…simultaneously. What I’m hoping is that by summer’s end, everything will come together in one grand fait accompli. I have a detailed game plan for each project. I have to-do lists based on ‘Critical Inch’ thinking. And each morning, I put my feet on the floor and get right to work. But it’s a rare day that I actually accomplish everything I set out to do.

It seems there’s always something to derail my best laid plans: a loyal client in need of a random project with a tight deadline, a roadblock created by equipment or software conflicts, or a seductive offer by someone who wants me to play hooky for the day. So although at the moment my time is completely my own, I don’t always make the best use of it to further my creative goals.

In the past month however, I have discovered three inspiring resources that have made a tremendous contribution to my productivity: one book and two apps.

The book is titled Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind. Published by 99U, it contains a series of essays by freelancers and entrepreneurs offering their insights on how to maintain creativity and productivity in an increasingly distracting world. No matter how busy you think you are, it’s well worth taking time to read it. And if you have a Kindle and subscribe to Amazon Prime you can borrow it free of charge!

App #1 is called RescueTime , a free downloadable app that monitors how you spend your time on the computer and generates a weekly report. It’s customizable according to your routine tasks and activities and can be a real eye-opener for those who are wondering why their days disappear so quickly without yielding productive results.

App #2 is called FocusBooster, another free downloadable app that consists of a simple 25/5 minute timer. It’s based upon the Pomodoro Technique, “a time management method created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980′s. The technique uses a timer to break down periods of work into 25-minute intervals (referred to as “pomodoros”) separated by breaks and is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility.” Although deceptively simple, this method of dividing your workday into manageable bursts of activity with breaks in between is a remarkably effective productivity tool.

CelesteHeiterFZBioCeleste Heiter is the author of Turn Your PC into a Lean Mean Freelancing Machine, the creator of the LoveBites Cookbook Series for Kindle Fire, and the author of Potty Pals , a potty-training book for children. She has also written ten books published by ThingsAsian Press; and spent eight years posting her recipes, food photographs, and film reviews on ChopstickCinema .

Visit her website, and her Amazon Author Page.

 

When and How To Find Freelance Jobs

By Amanda Smyth Connor

social-media

By now, you’ve come to learn that I have a deeply passionate fondness for social media – bordering on unhealthy obsession – and this week we’ll explore one more reason why I believe  social media is the greatest invention since #slicedbread.

Now that you are on Twitter (you are, aren’t you?) and you’re fully entrenched into following, conversing with, and RTing your favorite freelancers, writers, authors, etc, you should also be following all of the companies you are most interested in working with.

Nearly every major company has a social media presence, and the smartest of the bunch have Twitter feeds/Facebook accounts/LinkedIn pages dedicated to talent acquisition, i.e. job postings. Companies are currently in their first quarter (Q1) during which the majority of hiring takes place for the year, as Q1 occurs directly following budget approvals. What does this all mean? It means that you have the best chance of getting hired for awesome freelance gigs during Q1, and maybe Q2. Chances are also low that you’ll get hired during Q3 and most hiring is NOT done during Q4, since this is the time of year that companies have expended their budgets and need to wait for new budget approval (Q1.) And thus we come full circle.

Pop Quiz!

1. When do you have the highest chance of finding a freelance gig with a company? (A. Q1)

2. Where should you look for company jobs? (A. Aside from freelance job boards, follow the company talent acquisition Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, LinkedIn pages and RSS feeds on the career pages of their websites.)

3. When are you least likely to get a call back about that awesome freelance gig you applied for? (A. Q4)


Amanda Smyth Connor is a social media manager for a major publishing company and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.

5 Strategies to Up Your Marketing Expertise (FREE classes, webinars, eBooks, and other goodies)

by Diane Holmes, (a) Chief Alchemist of Pitch University, (b) lover of learning, and (c) writer of fiction, non-fiction, and the occasional manifesto.

Change Your Marketing Mindset for 2013

How?  So glad you asked.  Take a look at these expertise-building options.

#1:  Enchanting Your Prospects by Guy Kawasaki + 17 other FREE Marketing classes

Inbound Marketing University (IMU) is HubSpot’s free marketing training and certification program. IMU offers an online curriculum of 18 Internet marketing webinars taught by a faculty of top marketing experts.

#2: Derek Sivers: How to start a movement

People often feel assaulted by messages of selling.  But people join movements and become part of the message.  In 3 minutes, this TED Talk shows you how it’s done.

#3: The AMA’s Executive Guide to Social Media Success in 2012

You can choose this report plus any of the other 5 free ebooks/magazines by the American Marketing Association.

#4: Free Downloadable Webinar: The Power of Consumer to Consumer Recommendations

Womma (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) is a pretty awesome group. Their WOMMFest is coming up February 19th. And Womm-U is May 20-22, 2013. 

These day’s there’s nothing more powerful than word-of-mouth (also called… consumer-to-consumer recommendations!)

#5: Help-A-Reporter Out (HARO) email list

Help educate others!  This is a blast. Reporters need expert quotes. You could be that expert. Being seen as an expert is an rockin’ marketing strategy.

BONUS #1: CFC: Marketing Resources for Freelancers
BONUS #2: 101 Freelance Resources you can use today!

clip_image001[4]Diane writes two columns for Freelance-Zone: (1) Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery and (2) Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Writing.

10 Unique Christmas Gifts for Writers: Part 2

by Diane Holmes, (a) Chief Alchemist of Pitch University, (b) lover of learning, and (c) writer of fiction, non-fiction, and the occasional manifesto.

Amaze Your Writer Friends

Punctuation, Hell, and fake websites were in the list of our first 5 gifts.  The last 5 are filled with sugar plums and the dust of ground-up elves.

Or maybe something even better.

(But seriously, who doesn’t savor the nostalgic scent of ground-up elves sprinkled lightly on sugar cookies?  So spicy, so wickedly good.  Like cinnamon, red velvet shoes, and high-pitched laughter in every, single bite. Yummy-yum.)

Gift #5  This is your life. Do what you love. And do it often.

From Core 77, I was introduced to the Holstee Manifesto Poster.

This is Your Life

It’s like someone figured out how our writer-hearts keep on beating, and wrote it down for the world to see.  Poster, $25.00.

Who is that someone?

Mike, Fabian and Dave who have a company together.

“It wasn’t about shirts and it wasn’t about their old jobs. It was about what they wanted from life and how to create a company that breathes that passion into the world everyday. It was a reminder of what we live for.”

Gift #4  Your Own Theme Song

Ever since Ally McBeal I’ve wanted my own theme song.

Dr. Tracey: You need a theme song
Ally: I need a what?!
Dr. Tracey: A theme song. Something that you can play in your head to make you feel better
Ally: Am I on one of those hidden camera shows?
Dr. Tracey: Theme songs are vital.

See?  They’re vital, I’m tellin’ ya!

And someone agrees with me. Raleigh Coaching offers MUSEic Coaching.

“Our lives can be thought of as movies with their own unique soundtrack.  YOU PICK THE GOAL | WE PICK THE MUSEic.”

Tell Santa about this.  He’s all about the jolliness of music.  And he believe in theme songs, too. That’s why there’s so many songs about him at Christmas.

Gift #3  Rain

Nothing makes me feel cozier or want to write more than the sound of rain.  You curl up inside, just you and your imagination.  A warm cuppa joe. Comfy socks.  And a writing project all your own.

It’s like you’re cut off from the world, safe, warm, and full of dreams.

(Don’t give me that look.  It’s not just me, you know.)

As the Rainy Mood website says, “Rain makes everything better.”

And it’s a free website.  Who are these generous rain lovers, anyway?

Also, there’s an app for IOS and Android (not free but for $4.99 you take the mood of cozy with you).

Gift #2 GeoPalz

Kick in the ass, anyone?  No, wait, I mean, get off your ass and walk.  No, wait, it’s just wrong to say ass on a Christmas gift list.

Yet, that’s how I think about it after I’ve been sitting in a chair writing for 8 or 12 hours a day, months on end.

Geopalz

Honey, it’s time to do something about your a**, and I’m so psyched about this kid’s pedometer, I can hardly stand it.  (Yes, I said it’s for kids, but we’re going to ignore that and buy it anyway.)

Okay, get this.

A) You log onto their website, track your steps, and win prizes.

B) In the “parent” role, you can buy things to put on your prize list (in addition to what’s there), and then set about winning something you care about.

C) You can create a family of other writers and cheer each other on.

D) The pedometer ($25.00 or less) is ten times better than the one I’m wearing right now.

My pedometer:

  • The buttons are easily mashed so that the steps are zeroed out randomly all day long.
  • The display is too small to see (multiple modes, can’t tell what mode I’m in).
  • The clip will barely fit over the waist of my pants.
  • It can’t be worn anywhere else.
  • It’s an ugly gray.
  • And (sob) no prizes.

GeoPalz?

  • It does a great job at counting steps.
  • The pedometer has an attached cover (no accidental resets).
  • It comes in many designs to make you feel happy when you look at it.
  • There are prizes and friends for accountability and good cheer.
  • The website is free (and free for those who don’t have Geopalz).
  • The new version 2 (out now) stores 21 days of data, so you don’t have to enter number of steps into the website each day, and it automatically resets at midnight. Plus this new version will track minutes of moderate/heavy activity, can be mounted on your hip or shoe, plus it’s waterproof!

GeoWOW.

Gift #1  Creativity Gets In Bed with Organization (ooh la la!)

Daniel Wessel at Organizing Creativity…. He’s a genius!

Daniel WHe’s figured out the thing that sinks most writers (and other creative-types): how to organize your creative process (the key to your business) so that it’s even better. And how to actually troubleshoot the Gordian knot that is a finished product.

Organize Your Creativity PosterResult?  Yes, indeed, a book of epic coolness.  You can get the pdf for free-ish.  Just pay if you find it useful.

Daniel, dude, even your pricing is creative. (I’ll be applauding with money soon!)

And the rest of Freelance-Zone readers?  Check out his blog.  It totally rocks.

I hoped I rocked your world…

…with these gift ideas. I feel like I’ve seen all the usual gifts for writers and something needed to be done about that.  We needed something unusual.

May your gift giving be inspired and worthy of ground-up elf.  Happy holidays.

clip_image001[4]Diane writes two columns for Freelance-Zone: (1) Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery and (2) Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Writing.

10 Unique Christmas Gifts for Writers

by Diane Holmes, (a) Chief Alchemist of Pitch University, (b) lover of learning, and (c) writer of fiction, non-fiction, and the occasional manifesto.

Ho-Ho-Ho

This week, Catherine embraced the Christmas Spirit of Marketing (yes, Virginia, apparently holiday goodwill can be harnessed to help you market your writing!), and I, too, must get my ho-ho-ho on.

(Yeah, I’ll wait while you realize that didn’t sound right….  )

Today, I bring you 10 gifties for you and your writer friends.  May the delight of giving lead to milk, cookies, and a  Grinch-y ”heart that grows three sizes that day.” 

#10  Punctuation Saves Lives

I think we know this deserves a t-shirt.  Why, look at that!  A t-shirt perfect for gift giving.

punctuation saves lives

This shirt is yours for $15.99 over at Cafe Press.

#9  Going Straight to Hell

Some clients, some projects—they’re hell.  Just sayin’.  Why not get a passport to make your trip easier, something that doubles as a journal for these trying times? 

Yes?  Hells, yes!

Hell Passport

Travel instructions included.  Just $2.95 at The Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild.  Wild site.  Fabulous gifts.

#8  Everything is Better if It Looks Like a Book

I sob at the practical nostalgia of BookBook, a case/wallet for your iPhone.

Book Book for Iphone

I found it at that gift-giving-extravaganza that is Amazon, just $59.95 for iPhone 4 & 4 S, same for the new Iphone 5.  Suddenly you’re not working, you’re spending quality time with books.  Totally different.

#7  Old Book Smell

Many of us fell in love with writing as a child, in a dark musty library (one of the 2,509grand structures built by the Carnegies, no doubt, where the motto “let there be light” made every reader feel heroic).

If you miss that good ol’ musty book smell, good news, you can buy it and successfully make the transition to electronic books smell intact.

Smell of Books

Smell of Books offer Classic Musty and New Book Smell for $9.99 each.

But be careful.

Please use in well ventilated area.

May cause dizziness and hallucinations. May cause itching and runny nose.

If symptoms persist for longer than eight weeks please consult your physician.

Not for use on “real” books.

Do not use while riding public transportation.

Discard empty container with hazardous waste.

Not for use as a room deodorizer.

Not for use on burning books.

Do not use on a Zune.

Keep away from the Kindle Fire!

(Plus, it’s not a real product. But the hilarity of this site alone should inspire you to pen your own faux site as a Christmas gift to those you love.  Or even customers and readers.  Everyone needs a good laugh for Christmas.)

#6  Paint a White Board on Your Wall

IdeaPaint is proof science makes the world a better place. Proof, I say!

IdeaPaint

It comes in clear, white, and black.  Enough to cover 50 sq. ft. is $225.00; 100 sq. ft. is on sale for $315.00 (for clear).

I found this goodness at an equally awesome site called Idearella: Creating Glass Slipper Ideas in a Wicked Stepsister World. Their 2010 list of Christmas Gifts is super-awesome-sauce.

TO BE CONTINUED.

clip_image001[4]Diane writes two columns for Freelance-Zone: (1) Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery and (2) Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Writing.

Sometimes You Have To Tell The Client NO

Joe-Wallace-Vinyl-Collector-and-authorby Joe Wallace

I love my clients. I have just the right amount of them, the projects are diverse and interesting, and I have good rapport with them. Over the long haul, there have been suggested changes, tweaks, alterations to the work flow, content, the usual course corrections that come with any long-term relationship.

And like any long term relationship, there are suggested directions that turn out to be bad ideas, and some that are just plain untenable from the start.

In my early days as a freelancer, I used “the customer is always right” motto until it became apparent to me that, even as a writer (as opposed to a writer/editor/sound designer/social media promoter, blah blah) the clients often turn to me as a subject matter expert and informal advisor–even when they don’t realize they’re doing so. That’s about the time I started saying no to ideas that don’t work, are too ambitious, or just plain bad.

In a sushi bar in downtown Chicago this week, I overheard two lawyers talking shop. Some of the best-ever advice for freelancers came from my shameless “accidental” overhearing of the following paraphrased statement.

“I tell them two things: I say, ‘this is my role and in my professional capacity I will tell you A, B and C about what you’re asking. Now I’m going to step outside my role as your professional and I’m going to tell you what I personally think about this scenario based on my prior experience with it. I do this to let you know that in my professional capacity with you, I’ll give you the advice you need–but I’ll also tell you off the record whether it’s practical in the real world.’ ”

I’ve done quite a bit of that myself, albeit in less direct ways–but I’m starting to think I should take my cues from a lawyer in a sushi bar and start couching it in those terms.

–Joe Wallace