Stuff I Wrote: March 2014

Depositphotos 2902188 xs 300x300 Stuff I Wrote: March 2014Ten more posts for your reading pleasure! I do hope you find one or two you’re interested in…

Health and fitness

Health in a Hard Shell: Mixed Nuts (Energy Times)
A quick rundown of the health benefits of seven different types of nuts.

The 30-Day Meal Plan: Pros and Cons (Performance Menu)
This is a $2.99 article that may help you figure out whether to follow a pre-written monthly meal plan or skip it altogether.

HIPAA Compliance Checklist (Insight)
Pretty specifically for healthcare professionals.

Content

Exploring Seinfeld, Buzzfeed, and the History of Branded Content with Brian Clark (Content Strategist)
This article, for Contently’s blog, was a really fun history lesson from the Copyblogger CEO, who I would love to get drinks with one day.

Three Tools For Collaborative Editing (Ebyline)
I compare collaborative editing features in MS Word, Google Drive, and Draft (my personal favorite).

Marketing

Get The Most Bang For Your Buck: Google Adwords vs. FaceBook Ads (VerticalResponse)
If you’re trying to figure out how to best spend a small ad budget, this post can help give you some guidance.

Is SnapChat For Small Businesses? (VerticalResponse)
At first I couldn’t think of a single scenario where this would be appropriate, but the more  dug into it, the more examples I found…

How to Bring a Dormant Lead Back Online (VerticalResponse)
Jeannie Frantz from Corporate Vision helped with this one.

MMA

Gunning For the Top (Sherdog)
My profile of Icelandic welterweight fighter Gunnar “Gunni” Nelson.

Beating the Odds: UFC 171 (Sherdog)
Just my regular column on upsets for that fight card.

Stuff I wrote: February 2014

Depositphotos 2902188 xs 300x300 Stuff I wrote: February 2014One of the very few silver linings to one of the worst winters I’ve ever experienced is that there’s adequate time to read. Whether you’re curling up with a magazine or checking out a book on your e-reader, if you’d like some light fare, see if any of the posts I wrote in February strike your fancy. There’s even an ebook in here!

Health and fitness

  • A strength-building water workout (Experience Life). This is an awesome water workout written by Brian Tabor of Strong Made Simple. Brian is an amazing coach and has led injured San Diego Chargers football players in similar exercises to the ones in this workout, so take a look–especially if you have access to a pool. Experience Life is also a top notch resource for health and fitness information, and they have links to lots of other water workouts as well.
  • Brain training: does it work? (Performance Menu, $3) If you’ve ever thought of buying a Lumosity subscription, check out my analysis in the February issue of the Performance Menu to read about my experience.

Content

  • Could Dataminr be a journalist’s new best friend? (Content Strategist). I’m SO excited to be writing for Contently’s blog (they are seriously smart), and my firt post for the Content Strategist is just a quick rundown of what Dataminr is and what it can do.

Marketing

  • Make your marketing mobile (VerticalResponse) This is a fantastic guidebook if I do say so myself; I interviewed Ethan Marcotte (the grandfather of responsive design) as well as mobile marketing strategist Curt Prins for this informative ebook. If you’re looking to get started with mobile marketing, this is it.

MMA

  • UFC 170 Roundtable (Sherdog.com) I got to be a panelist on Jack Encarnacao’s roundtable discussion of the UFC 170 card; so exciting!

Thanks for checking these out. I hope you found something useful. Until next month, which will hopefully be a lot warmer…

Stuff I wrote: January 2014

Depositphotos 2902188 xs 300x300 Stuff I wrote: January 2014Can you believe it’s the end of the month already?! If it’s snowing as much where you are as it has over here, it’s not a day too soon. Since we’re left waiting for spring and sunshine, we can at least catch on our reading indoors! So without further ado, here’s a list of my posts around the web for you to peruse if interested.

Crisps!

Online marketing

MMA

Around the web

Posts by others that I was mentioned/quoted in.

Review: Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing

freelance lowerleft Review: Unconventional Guide to Freelance WritingI sometimes receive emails asking me for advice on breaking into freelance writing. I do teach a half-day workshop on this subject from time to time (preceded by a list of resources and Q+A call), it’s hard to walk someone through the ins and outs of a career choice without hands-on time working through the process of finding viable markets, writing query letters and LOIs and so forth. So I was excited when I learned that Amber Adrian was working on the Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing, and happy to contribute.

What’s in it:

The Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing is a 55-page guide is broken up into four different sections: Getting Started and Setting Yourself Up, Getting Paid and Other Practicalities, Getting Out of Bed Every Morning and Facing the Fears of Freelancing and Getting Bigger and Building Your Business. The writers featured include the fabulous Linda Formichelli (who was one of my mentors when I was first getting started 4 years ago), as well as Kristin Luna, Jessica Manuszak, Linda Sharpe, Carol Tice, Zach Urbina, Sara Von Bargen and Non Wells.

There are two different versions of the guide. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten my hands on the final version and have only seen an earlier draft, and have been unable to access many of the materials. However, here’s what’s advertised as coming with each version:

Pen-for-hire ($39): This has a list of links and resources (which I did read an early draft of), as well as supplemental tools to deal with the emotional rollercoaster of freelancing (which I haven’t seen).

Editor-in-chief ($58): This also includes samples of query letters and LOIs as well as interview transcripts with writer and an audio interview. (I wasn’t able to get my hands on any of this material, so can’t really review it, unfortunately.)

My thoughts: It’s really difficult to offer a thorough review of the guide having only seen an early version of the PDF and resource list and being unable to access the rest of it. From what I did read, I think the guide is accessible and fun to read. However, I have a feeling it would leave a brand new or aspiring freelance writer with a lot of questions, since some of the bits of advice are a bit simplistic. I do think, though, that it would give a newer writer a very good place to start to determine what types of information they want to get ahold of or what to start asking questions about–which is very valuable in and of itself. The resource list is pretty thorough, so the guide would be a good start.

Bonus: This review includes an affiliate link; if you buy it through this site, I will give you a free 20-minute phone consult on an aspect of freelance writing of your choice…provided that you read the guide (or look through the links in this post) first.  (I’m honestly not sure if the aff link button is working (someone bought through my FB page and it didn’t seem to go through), so please just email me your receipt and we’ll schedule a time to talk.)

Find the passion

2 300x168 Find the passionLast night I watched the movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a documentary about a sushi master, Jiro Ono, who is so dedicated to his craft that he continues to work, day in and day out, at the age of 86. Even after his restaurant earned 3 Michelin stars, the highest honor in the industry, he continues to work tirelessly to improve his craft. Everything from the rice preparation to the carefully sourced ingredients, from the preparation to the presentation, to the order the pieces of sushi were served in, and even the exact moment they were served–was practiced and perfected over decades. A man who left his home at the age of 9 and began apprenticing with nothing now oversees his own restaurant, where reservations are made months in advance and the price is around $380 per person. It’s amazing what one can accomplish, even when starting from nothing, when they put their heart and soul into it.

The documentary struck a chord with me. I can’t say I can relate to the relentless pursuit of perfection in just one craft. Even in fields I’m consistently drawn to–writing, fitness, martial arts, wilderness awareness/survival–I’m a novice at best, and have a tendency to bounce around within each area. But I think there’s a lot to be learned, at least conceptually, even for those of us with the shortest attention spans. You don’t have to  start from scratch and apprentice in a trade, slowly improving over years and decades, to find a passion in what you do and let it fuel your work–even work you don’t necessarily love.

About three years ago as a newer freelance writer, I was under a lot of pressure to produce a lot of blog posts for a single site–as many as fourteen a month. Each post paid very little, but the money added up, and it was on a topic I’d originally been passionate about. However, as the weeks and months rolled by, I found myself simply going through the motions. I’d try to write as fast as I could to maintain a decent level of pay per hour–and not get behind in my other work, but eventually this practice of rushing through my work, trying to make it passable but not spend too long on it, bled into the rest of my work. Eventually I was exhausted, bored, burnt out and writing really crappy posts. I was also completely on edge, snapping at anyone who’d so much as point out a typo.

Obviously, there are many possible solutions to this scenario, finding work that pays better and/or requires less frequency chief among them. But I’ve found that scenarios sometimes manifest in other ways if the issue isn’t addressed. And it’s very difficult to consistently get paid for the work you absolutely love doing 100 percent of the time. (Check out Gaping Void’s “sex and cash theory” for more on this.)

The solution I’ve found is to find the passion again. Find out what it was other than money that originally drew you to whatever it is you’re either dreading or simply going through the motions doing. Create a symbol or find a photograph to represent it before diving into that 12-hour day. See if you can find even an inkling of something you are learning in the process that will help you get where you want to be.

You don’t need optimal conditions to find the passion for your work. You just need to shift your mindset. Sometimes it’s simply about going deeper. For me, addressing a single question in a post or interview that wasn’t being covered by other bloggers helped reignite that flame. It helped tie the work I was doing into something I cared about on a deeper level. Of course, I would’ve loved nothing more than writing 2000-word features on those topics, addressing issues from multiple angles and doing in-depth reporting… but I can say I approached those 300-word posts with the same mindset. And eventually, doors started opening…

Want business advice? Find the passion in your work–not the work you want to be doing, but the work you are doing.

I leave you with the words of the Sufi poet Kahlil Gibran:

And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart,
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection,
even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy,
even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead
are standing about you and watching.

(More) top posts from 2013

220px The sun1 (More) top posts from 2013Earlier this week, I posted the top 13 blog posts from 2013, according to my analytics data. Today, I’d like to link to some posts I have available elsewhere that I think you might find interesting.

Putting together this list was ridiculously difficult. I’ve interviewed so many rock stars this year for articles that didn’t make the cut (including some of my personal heroes) , but really wanted to focus on the content that would be most helpful and relevant. (Since we’re in the throes of shopping season, I also didn’t include posts that were behind a paywall, such as Medical Decision Making, and Hacking Paleo With Patrick Vlaskovits). In addition, I didn’t include ghostwritten work (which was the majority of my writing this year), pieces that aren’t timely or fresh, or any of the pieces that’s in print only (in magazines, trade journals, etc.) and is not available online. In addition, I removed posts that are difficult to link to directly (such as a piece for Costco Connection) which require a lot of scrolling. It’s all about good UX, right? With only a few exceptions, I also removed posts that highlighted just one specific product or service, but instead focused on the bigger picture and on concepts you can implement (or ideas you can draw from). This somehow helped me narrow it down to 15. Enjoy!

 

Content strategy

Business building

Health, fitness and sports

 

Top 13 posts of 2013

imgres Top 13 posts of 2013Each year around this time, I write a series of posts recapping the year. To start, I’d like to repost my most popular pieces this year, based on Google Analytics data.

This year, I taught a workshop on PR for startups, and put a lot of time behind the content to promote the event as well as the video course. Some of the posts around this resonated.

I did a bit of self-reflection…

…and even wrote about some dental work I unfortunately needed.

On a brighter note, I also wrote about some products I like, including some interviews.

I use this blog as a forum to delve into political issues, and this year that included some writing about sexual assault…

..as well as a post in memory of a dear friend who died, and a fundraiser for a local non-profit organization I support. This wasn’t as big as last year’s fundraiser for Children of the Night, to support child victims of human trafficking in the US, but it was still significant. Thank you to those who donated in Chris’ name.

Last but not least, remember that you’re beautiful with this poem!

That concludes the top 13 of 2013. I’ll be posting some of my top posts and articles on other sites (and magazines) soon, so stay tuned.

2013 Year In Review

2013 Desktop Background Free 1024x640 300x187 2013 Year In ReviewI’ve been following in the footsteps of Chris Guillebeau, completing an annual review each year and making goals towards next year. I’ve always appreciated Chris’ transparency and so I thought I’d share my list publicly this year in that same spirit.

What went well this year?

2013 was pretty amazing for many reasons.

Professionally, this was the best year of my life. I taught a workshop on PR for startups and a class on breaking into freelancing, spoke on a panel about social media marketing at Content Connections, had my highest annual revenue ever, and got to write for some places I’ve had my eye on for a while, including the Costco Connection and the Men’s Journal website. This is in addition to continued relationships with many amazing clients I already had.

I was lucky enough to interview so many of my heroes: Alexis Ohanian, Jason Fried, Adrian Holovaty, Nate Kontny, Brian Clark, Andrew Warner, Chris Kluwe, Derek Willis, Ethan Marcotte, Joshua Benton, Michael Brito, Charlie Gilkey, Marissa Bracke, Brant Cooper, Patrick Vlaskovits, Joe Kristoffer, Laura Roeder, Derek Halpern, Ryan Evans, Stella Fayman, Mana Ionescu, Michael Psilakis, the list goes on and on. I wish I could get them all in a room for a cocktail party.

I met amazing people, including Noah Kagan (whose HTMYFD program really contributed to my professional success), as well as Sheryl Sandberg, Michael Pollan, Maryn McKenna, Seth Mnookin… I even attended Chris Guillebeau’s CreativeLive session on travel hacking!

Speaking of travel, I did a LOT of it. I visited Boston, Kansas, Milwaukee, Seattle, Duluth, San Francisco, Madison, Chicago and Costa Rica, attending conferences and events and seeing friends and family. This even included an ironic segway tour. icon smile 2013 Year In Review

I did some fun volunteer projects (including the Overnight Website Challenge) and helped with a couple of other fundraisers and volunteer events.

I got to spend time with friends and family, which was great. And I got to work with some amazing people, helping mentor newer writers, learn from seasoned professionals and collaborate with people who had so many strengths to complement my weaknesses (and vice versa).

What went badly?

Tragedy struck this year, as one of my college friends lost her battle with depression. This hit me like a ton of bricks. Many loved ones had other health concerns and issues that put a bit of a damper on things, but also helped me keep things in perspective.

I had serious health issues, mostly dental work which finally caught up with me after much neglect, and a lot of physical therapy to rehab a sports injury. This amounted to several thousand dollars in medical expenses and probably about 30 days total inside a medical facility of some sort (not including the fun stuff like massage and tuina). This is a very good reminder to keep up with things!

I also calculated badly and ended up owing a LOT in taxes for last year, so all that extra income I was so psyched about went towards taxes and medical/dental bills. Fun.

Not all of my work life was perfect, either. (I’ve written extensively about all the things I’ve learned the hard way in my four years of freelancing, and many of these mistakes are ones I’ve made long after I should’ve known better.) I have some failed projects and project attempts, some painfully lost audio files (thanks, Retronyms!), and, worst of all, a site that rewrote a balanced article of mine into linkbait… This kind of blindsided me, especially since the source who was on the business end of this hack job is someone I think the world of, and it hurts to know that I (albeit inadvertently) contributed to the type of journalism I hate. I had to take some time to really think about how to prevent that from happening again, which led to, well, less work.

The biggest overall problem I had this year, though, was that I worked way too much. This led to some serious burnout at times and some really preventable mistakes on my part at others. And I made some bad decisions about people to work with on a couple of occasions, the common denominator was actually when I tried to be too accommodating or helpful and didn’t set good boundaries. Because I was working so much, not all of my goals came to fruition. I made progress towards almost all of them, but ultimately didn’t accomplish everything I set out to do this year.

2013 was supposed to be the year of consistency, and I was consistent in how often I did things I set out to do, but could’ve really ramped things up a bit. I felt very unbalanced, and have been unsuccessful the time I work from when I don’t work. I definitely had some events that I’d define as “rock bottom” including very little sleep and last-minute revisions requested in the wee morning hours. I’d really love to have the type of lifestyle where work doesn’t spill into every other portion of my life, and a serious course correction is part of what I plan to work on going forward.

Looking forward to 2014

I have two themes for 2014. I’ve declared it The Year Of Balance, and The Year Of Wrapping Things Up.

Wrapping things up has to do with things I’ve started but haven’t finished. I’m planning to finally wrap them up for real in 2014.

The most exciting thing on the list is getting married to the man of my dreams in July (!!!), so I obviously need to do a bit of planning and wrapping up for that. It almost feels trite to list this as a “thing I’m wrapping up in 2014″ on a goals list, but planning a wedding really does feel like finalizing what will be seven years of an amazing relationship… and a million logistical odds and ends as far as the actual event itself.

There are so  many other unfinished projects this year. These include an improv class I started but didn’t finish, an at-home nature correspondence course I began ages ago but never finished, meeting some health and fitness goals (this year I got my 4th stripe in BJJ, but I really want that blue belt, and I’m also hard at work on getting in the best shape of my life for my wedding, but haven’t gotten where I need to yet). Also, this year I started learning how to code, but am really hoping to make considerable strides next year to learn Python/Django so I can analyze large data sets and present information in innovative new ways. I made huge strides in cleaning my office, but still have some piles and boxes to work through, and I want to finish it once and for all.

My professional goals are based on the type of content I want to create, not just financial goals. I’m wanting to move away a bit from ghostwriting and short blog posts and into feature writing and real reporting/storytelling, and cover business and tech. I want to blog more often, on my own blog, and to do some more in-depth reporting (whether it’s for a book or an in-depth post). I am really hoping to start pitching some publications and websites I’m really trying to break into (my hit list of dream publications includes Wired, as always, but also Verge, Inc., Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and a few others).

Balance has a lot to do with what I mentioned before. I’ll be separating work from non-work, not taking client calls in the evening or on weekends, and using the extra time to sleep more, work on activities other than writing, time with friends, and so forth.

I want to work actual vacations into my year, not just working vacations. I also have some epic trips planned, and am hard at work on some travel hacking goals.

Also included in balance is getting past what Danielle LaPorte refers to as “rage lite.” I’ve been trying to put my stress and frustration to bed every evening, and I think not working 24/7 will not only increase my productivity in the hours I do work, but help me with my overall mindset throughout the year.

I think this about covers it, and I hope it helps you with your own annual review–whether you choose to make it public or not. Here’s to a great 2014, for all of us!

Four years of freelancing: 20 things I learned the hard way

Chocolate cupcakes Four years of freelancing: 20 things I learned the hard wayI’m celebrating my fourth freelancing anniversary today (hence the cupcakes), and after much reflection, I’ve compiled a series of tips–things I wish I knew ahead of time. Grab a drink and celebrate with me by taking some of these to heart, and feel free to leave your own tips in the comments.

Quality of life

Use good tools.

I got a smartphone my first year of freelancing because I realized that I was afraid to leave my house (due to lost assignments; editors would email me at the last minute and I couldn’t respond quickly enough). I also got my trusty MacBook Pro because my Dell, which had never worked properly, now had the added bonus of having keys from the keyboard falling off. (Shades of Gadsby.) My second year of freelancing, I started using Freshbooks for easy invoicing, and a recorder app for phone interviews. At the end of my third year, I started coworking, which has helped me a lot with networking and camaraderie. This year I’ve been madly in love with Trello (project management), Do it [tommorow] (daily to-dos), Draft (for collaborating) and Scrivener (for organizing long articles with multiple interviews and resources). Many of these resources are free or cheap; others are far worth the cost.

Take time off.

When you first start a business, you are glued to your computer screen 24/7. That’s okay. As your business becomes more solid, you’ll have to slowly wean yourself off this schedule. It’s okay to go out for dinner, go to the gym, go on vacation or have non-working hours in your day… or even to turn your phone off. Really.

Worst-case scenarios happen. It gets better.

Whether you completely lost audio footage from a once-in-a-lifetime interview (thanks, Retronyms) or got screwed over by an unethical website or publisher, chances are good that your career isn’t over and your reputation is salvageable. Explaining your situation (publicly or privately, as warranted) and eventually moving on is almost always possible. It’s okay to take a day or even a week off to recover, though. So much of freelancing is about your energy and mindset.

Learn journalistic principles.

If you didn’t go to J-School, at least read and understand the SPJ Code of Ethics. Know the difference between custom content and editorial writing, and learn about conflicts of interest. You may not follow all the “rules” of journalism, but you should at least know what they are and make informed decisions. Join professional groups, attend trainings, and soak up as much as you can from the people around you. Always keep improving your writing. A lot of this will happen on the job, but some will take your own initiative, research and even courses. Keep at it–you can always improve.

Go to conferences and take courses (but not all of them).

Some conferences will yield a high ROI (particularly ones with editor meetings);  others will be all but a waste of time. Similarly, some online courses will help you hone a skill you really need to develop–and others are marketing hype. Some trial and error is expected, but getting out of your home office is usually  more than worth it. Try travel hacking and AirBnB or HotelTonight (or stay with friends) to save some cash. Make sure to network and enjoy meeting other writers as well as attending informative sessions.

Let’s talk about money.

It’s not always worth it to write about things you know nothing about.

In my first year of freelancing, I wrote an article about bees for a trade journal. Yes, I made some money, but it took forever since I had to learn some material from scratch. Once I created templates to analyze data from complex financial documents that I didn’t understand. I pulled it off, but it took a very long time. I seem to relearn this lesson every year, whether I’m trying to learn a new style guide overnight or just accepting work against my better judgement. It’s always obvious to me when even the best editors of mine don’t understand the subject matter (and they usually don’t last long in that position); although expanding one’s horizons is a good thing, if you’re doing specialized work, it pays to be specialized.

Set a minimum-both for pay and for expectations.

It always seems that clients asking for work on the cheap are also the first to demand add-ons not normally included in low prices. It’s up to freelancers to explain to them what is and is not included. Remember: pay per hour is a thing. Someone who pays well but insists on long phone conversations, etc. may pay less per hour than that low-paying blog post where you don’t have to find images or do a lot of research, but when the person at the low-paying gig suddenly asks for you to find and crop photos, spend 15 minutes on their new SEO software, do extensive research or rewrites/revisions or learn a CMS, you can decide whether or not you think it’s worth it.  Setting a minimum is an option (and it can be a different minimum for leaving your house, or for a variety of tasks that you decide on.) We all want to do amazing work each and every time, but spending hours perfecting an underpaying post time and time again isn’t the best option since your hours are finite.

Small work can add up.

On the other hand, low-paying work with a good pay-per-hour can be totally worth your while, if it’s not one-off assignments. Especially if there are other perks involved, or you’re really enjoying the work. I would probably cover tech for less than I typically charge if it was for a high-traffic site and I had a lot of say over the angle, for example, and I do some non-profit work for practically free. Just make sure you’re not accepting underpaying, tedious work out of desperation. If you’re not having fun and you’re not getting good exposure, then you damn well better be getting paid a decent amount. And if you’re writing for something other than money (self-promotion, etc.) be very clear and upfront about it. It’s disappointing when you don’t get what you expected.

Have an anchor client.

If you can find just one client (or even a part-time job) that will help you assure your rent and bills are paid, you’ll be far less likely to pitch out of desperation or take work you really shouldn’t accept.

Diversify.

I started freelancing by doing writing, editing and SEO work. I’ve since gotten paid for writing test items, helping with research, editing manuscripts and academic papers, consulting, teaching classes, and even social media marketing. I’ve sold reprints, proofread transcripts, written ad copy, etc. Now I’m learning how to code. The more you can offer (within reason), the better.

It’s okay to ask for more money.

Very few professionals get upset if you do, and they often say yes (or at least work with you on scope). Oh, and don’t write on spec. Don’t write for pay based on page views. Don’t write for free or for “exposure” (beyond, say, one single article to get a single clip). Editors are not scouring the web looking at articles written for free to try to find writers to pay.

Presell.

Thinking of selling a product, an ebook, an online course or a new service? See how many people you can get to sign up and pay before you create it. Otherwise, there’s no point.

Look at your contracts very closely.

That “all rights” contract means a magazine can reprint your article as an ad, which could make you look like a corporate shill. A lack of contract may not hurt in small claims, but it might. And some bozo might think that writing articles “as staff” means that he can take your name off your own work, or replace it with his own, even if your worst work is a million times better than anything he could ever write. The percentage of bad people in this industry is relatively small (almost all of my clients, past and present, are amazing people with integrity), but getting signed copies of contracts, asking for clarification and negotiating out bad terms helps you protect yourself.

Get health insurance. Dental insurance, too.

Before you need it. Trust me.

Soft skills

Rejection is a good thing.

It took me over twenty tries before I ever wrote for Men’s Journal, and Wired turns me down every month. You have to aim high. Pitching more often, and being persistent with follow-ups, is crucial for freelance survival. One of my biggest wins this year was writing an unpaid piece on spec for Lifehacker, which they rejected (despite green lighting the original idea), and immediately turning around and selling it elsewhere for $300. Another win in my career is getting rejected from a tiny no-name site and writing for one of the biggest sites in said industry. If your pitches are on-target, your writing is solid and you keep trying, you’ll get there eventually. Just don’t avoid pitching the places you really want to write. The worst they can do is say no.

People are really nervous about being interviewed.

I used to think they were acting all weird because they thought I wasn’t good at my job. Now I know that “are you sure this angle is actually interesting?” or “do you think anyone will care or understand?” isn’t an insult towards me, but just someone being self-conscious about how they’ll look in print. Had I known that earlier, I would’ve responded a lot differently.

Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

A magazine may sit on an article for a year or longer (as Black Belt did to me) or even decide not to publish an assignment, whether they paid for it or not. They might use an embarrassingly off-topic image for the piece, edit in errors, rewrite something poorly, or even completely re-spin an article to make a source look bad (in which not writing for the site any longer is completely warranted), even if they have no history of doing this (that you know of). Just be aware that you can never know for certain, so don’t promise a source fair coverage unless you get to review revisions before a piece goes live (for example).

Just because someone else had a bad experience with someone, doesn’t mean you will.

Right now, two of my best clients have reputations for being difficult, but we work very well together because I’m good at setting boundaries and they’re good at responding. People have different work styles, so make sure to use your own judgement combined with what you’ve heard or read.

Sometimes you need to be loud. No, louder.

Even if you’re brash and abrasive like me, sometimes you need to set your boundaries even more clearly. If you’re collecting on unpaid, past due invoices (or something like that), you can even hire someone to do it for you.

Help other writers.

It’s good karma. And be nice to people, even if you can’t get anything in return. Especially if you can’t get anything in return.

 

Stuff I wrote: new media, marketing, health, MMA, social media marketing

Depositphotos 2902188 xs 300x300 Stuff I wrote: new media, marketing, health, MMA, social media marketingToday is my four-year freelancing anniversary, and I’ll soon be sharing lessons learned since I got started while on unemployment and living in the middle of nowhere, Wisconsin. But for now, here’s a few posts I wrote this month.

I’m really excited that I got to write about some pretty fantastic people, and if you make it through to the end of this list o’ links, I have some information on customer acquisition via social media marketing from a workshop I gave at ASJA’s Content Connections conference in Chicago.

Thanks for hanging in there with me, and feel free to find me on Twitter and/or follow my biz page on Facebook, too.

New Media

  • Django creator Adrian Holovaty on turning data into opportunity (Ebyline). Not only is Adrian Holovaty probably a genius, he has a knack for working on really interesting and creative projects, and it was fun trying to find the thread that ties them together and tease out what other people can learn from him. This was my favorite piece to work on all month.
  • How storyboarding helps create visual content (Ebyline) Although I’m a bit disappointed with the image selection, I’m psyched that I got to discuss incorporating visual elements into digital features, and got to highlight talented illustrator Joyce Rice after attending her workshop at ASJA’s Content Connections conference.

Marketing

Health

  • Hacking Paleo with Patrick Vlaskovits (Performance Menu) The man from PaleoHacks, and also a coauthor of the  Lean Entrepreneur. This interview’s three bucks to download, or included with the November issue.

MMA

  • An MMA Thanksigiving: 2013 Edition (Sherdog) What staff writers and freelancers were most thankful for in mixed martial arts. (For more of my thoughts on MMA, check out my TUF recaps on MMA Torch.

Shameless self-promotion