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It's Been Awhile...

It has been quite awhile since I updated here and there has been a lot going on. For awhile I was just super-busy with clients, learning new things about my strengths, weaknesses and abilities. Then, two weeks ago I was totally blind-sided my the loss of my mother, which I don't really feel like rehashing here, but if you want to know a little about what happened, you can check my other blog, From Cribs to Car Keys.

Anyway, I hope all of my friends here are well and hoping to begin posting again on a somewhat regular schedule as I get back to life and work.

I finally did it!

I finally scrounged up the courage and made myself a professional website. While it might not have all the bells and whistles just yet, I think it will serve my purpose well enough for the time being.

If you would like to take a look and let me know if I have broken any cardinal freelance writer website rules or if you think you might be interested in hiring me to write for you, stop by Powell Creative Services and see what I have to offer.

I'd love any feedback that you might have on the site, just don't tell me it sucks - I might cry!

Where Do They Come From?

I will be the first to admit that I am one of those people. You know the ones - must check my traffic stats forty-seven times a day. Most of my traffic doesn't surprise me. But every now and then, I end up scratching my head.

I haven't had any time to blog or check stats in the past couple of weeks. We have been passing a bad cold around our house and then I had to play a big game of catch up to get all of my work caught up.  I finally reached a point today where I feel like I can take a break.

Tonight, I went digging through my most recent stats to see who had been around. I saw the usual clicks from BlogCatalog, Twitter, Entrecard, and other networking sites, which were no real shocker. Then there were the Google search clicks. Now that is where things got interesting.

I have seen plenty of hits from Google for various work at home and freelance writing searches. I get people searching for my name, which is not so common. That always makes me wonder who it is and why they are looking for me. Tonight though, I had a couple of interesting search clicks that made me laugh out loud.

I am proud to say that this blog post is ranked fourth in Google Canada for the search phrase "good cliche." How's that for SEO! Another unusual search click was "Words To Do With Eggs," which again, I ranked fourth with this post, this time from Google UK. I must say, I am quite proud of my optimization skills!

So how is your blog's SEO working for you? LOL

Testing Windows Live Writer

I finally jumped on the bandwagon and downloaded Windows Live Writer. Just taking a minute to see how everything works and play around a bit. So far, it seems interesting, but I haven't had a chance to check out all of the features.

Now to see if I configured everything right and if the message actually posts...

For two years, I have been going about my business all wrong. I have been attempting to herd two babies, all day long, while running my freelance business from a desktop in the back bedroom.

If I had known what a difference a laptop was going to make, I'd have fought harder to get one sooner. I have only been wireless and able to wander the house, chasing the kids and working at the same time for three days, and already my productivity has about doubled. How's that for an awesome investment!

To some, this may sound silly, but to any mom who has tried to get things done around toddlers, I'm sure this mini post makes perfect sense. It doesn't take a lot to make me happy, I'm a very low-maintenance kind of girl. But now I'm a low-maintenance girl who can get things DONE!

Exciting Week

This has been an exciting week for me, with some great new projects in the works and some old ones coming to fruition. Here's a little rundown of what has been going on:

  • Received payment from client that had seemed to have disappeared. Woo! Paranoia got the best of me in this case, I guess.
  • Alternative Health website that I have been writing for has finally launched. Have to love the expert status I get through this one!
  • Picked up a great new gig through a client, that could be a huge deal for me in the future. I'll share more about that whenever I am able. VERY good stuff though!
  • Started a new blogging gig with the network. I'll be talking about cooking with kids. Not much to look at right at the moment, but I think I'll have some fun and exciting posts that many will enjoy
  • I now have hosting and have arranged to buy a laptop very soon. Two major goals met! Up next, building that elusive professional site.
  • On a more personal note, my baby turned one on Tuesday. It really has me feeling a bit sad, but happy at the same time. He's getting so independent now. I just can't believe that it has been a year already.
I feel like I have closed out the month of April on a very positive note. My business has grown tremendously and I have hit some short term goals that have been just out of reach for awhile, thanks to the help of some wonderful friends. Diane and Nikki, you girls rock! Hoping that the month of May brings even more exciting news and accomplishments!

How Long Is Too Long

How long do you wait before asking for help in getting a client to pay?

I am going through a bit of a struggle with a client who owes me money on a couple of projects. I completed the first project, sent them an invoice on the 1st of April and was asked to do two more projects in the meantime. I completed those and was then told I would be receiving payment within a few days. Long story short, I haven't seen payment for even the first project, much less the other two and they haven't responded to an email since the 11th.

It isn't a vast amount of money, just a couple hundred dollars, but to me it makes a difference. I have bills that need to be paid out of that money.

It has been suggested that I go to Angela Hoy of Whispers and Warnings, but I am not wanting to make the move too soon. How long would you wait before asking for outside help to get a client to pay.?

A Trip Down Memory Lane

As part of her 3 year blog anniversary celebration, Deb over at Freelance Writing Jobs just posted a piece from the archives about making her move from keyword content to professional blogging. I remember this post well, as it inspired me to take on some new challenges, which have certainly paid off. I can't say that I will ever be as bold as Deb, to completely walk away from keyword content, but I find now that it makes up much less of my income.

The nostalgia got the better of me and I started to pour over my own archives, for the first time in months. What a rollercoaster ride my freelance career has been, up to this point. From my first post about my reasons for working at home to my mother's heart attack to the challenges I took on after returning to the freelance world after having my youngest. I have grown so much as a writer and have learned a heck of a lot about the business.

Blogger friends, take a minute to walk down memory lane and see just how far you have come. It will give you new inspiration to keep pushing toward your goals and to continue to grow as a writer.

Image: Flickr

Work, work, work, and more work...what a crazy couple of weeks! I am finally caught up on everything after wrestling with deadlines for the past few days.

I have some regular client work due later in the week that needs attention, but I'm taking a step back tonight to breathe, regroup, and enjoy life for a few hours. Who knows, I might be able to get to bed at a decent hour.

Even with all the hard work and stress I have been under, I am still feeling quite confident about the way things are going. I am starting to put together a mental plan for my professional website and am looking to develop my business even further in the coming months.

I have some small financial goals that I am trying to meet, as well. The first is to finish catching up the bills that have been behind since I took my "hiatus" after having the baby. I should hit that goal within the next few weeks. Yet another pile that I will have crawled out from under. Once that is cleared up, my extra cash is going to purchase a laptop and router, so that I can start taking the kids outside while I work.

Of course there are big financial goals for the future, but I feel like setting these smaller goals and meeting them will help me keep the drive I need to take things to the next level.


Today has been declared the Unofficial Blogger Appreciation day, courtesy of Darren Rowse at Problogger. He was inspired by a few random emails of thanks from some of his readers to ask each of us to take a few minutes to show our appreciation and support to a blogger who has an impact on our lives.

I wish I had the time to mention each and every blogger who I enjoy, respect, and admire, but deadlines call and my time this morning is very limited. There are three, however, that I really would like to mention:

Diane Penna, currently of Crazy Mom's Journal and formerly of The Write Path. This amazing woman has been a huge inspiration to me since early in my freelance career. She is trying to get her bearings back, after returning to working at home from a "real world " job, and I don't think there is anyone happier to see her return than I am. I am looking forward to her amazing insight once her writing blog is reestablished.

Nikki Smith, of Chaos In The Country, The Guilty Parent, and Mommy Know How. I just want her to know how much I admire and respect her, both as a writer and a friend. She has been dealing with some difficult situations lately, but has continued to offer some wonderful advice and inspiring words, both on and off her blogs.

Dana Prince, of The Writer's Blog, Momphabet Soup, and Cook It With Love. I have known Dana passively through her writer's blog and message boards for quite some time, but have only recently begun reading some of her other blogs. This lady provides a wealth of great ideas and tips for freelancing, working at home, and life in general through blogging.

There are so many more bloggers that I admire and enjoy. I wish I had time to give them all the recognition they deserve. Make sure that you take the time today to show some love to a blogger or two who has had an impact of your life!

Freelance Frustration

I know what you're thinking...oh great, another whine about deadlines and clients and irritating keywords. While I can't say I've completely finished beating that horse in my career, today's frustration is a little bit different.

Will someone please explain to me why people are under the impression that freelance writing is easy? If I have one more person say to me how easy my job must be or see one more error-laden post on a message board about "Oh, I passed middle school English, I bet I can make a fortune writing online!" I am going to blow my top!

OK, so the message board posts are a bit exaggerated, but I just can't understand why people think that writing is so easy. I had the opportunity to do some editing for a friend who has a content writing company and was astounded at the things that I read. Half of the articles had to be scrapped due to plagiarism and a large part of the rest could have been written better by my 13 year old. It was just unbelievable! I know I make occasional spelling and grammar errors, everyone does, but when you have to read a sentence 10 times to even come close to figuring out what someone has to say, they might want to consider the idea that writing is not for them.

I am certainly not trying to deter people from attempting a career in freelancing, but please do not jump into it thinking you can throw some words on a page and get paid. Writing takes time and effort, and developing a freelance career takes hard work and perseverance. You might get a luck break from time to time, but in the beginning it can be a tremendous struggle.

If you are considering a career in freelancing, educate yourself on the rules of writing and grammar, then learn how to research properly. While you may be able to throw a few random sentences on a page and get paid from certain sites or clients, the only real way to make money in this business is to take the time to learn. Talk to some people who have had success in the business and learn from their achievements and mistakes. Understanding how much work it takes to build a client base and a reputation is very important to your future as a freelancer.

I hope that my little mini-rant made some sense and my advice helps someone who is thinking about giving freelancing a shot.

Over the past week or so, I have decided to try a couple new approaches to finding clients. I have a solid client base at the moment, so branching out and trying some new tactics is something I have room for. When things are tight, I usually go with the tried and true client searches, afraid of losing opportunities that will keep my head above water, but right now I feel as if I can take chances and not lose out on anything.

I have signed up for Entrecard, which so far has increased traffic a bit, but they are in the middle of updates and changes, so I'll reserve commenting on its effectiveness for awhile. I haven't yet posted on their network offering my services, but I plan to in the future. For now, I'm finding new writing blogs to read, as well as dropping cards on blogs in other markets that may have the need of a writer.

I've also jumped on Twitter, though I haven't quite figured out how that is going to get me business. Quite a few freelancers are testing these waters and if nothing else, it is a lot of fun for the camaraderie and banter between us. Laura, at Writing Thoughts, is journaling her Twitter experience on her blog, so follow along to see what influences it has for her.

Should things continue to go well, I plan on working on my own professional website within the next month or so. If anyone has recommendations on hosting services that have easy to use design templates, I'm all ears!

I'll keep you all posted on my new experiments in stepping outside my daily routines!

I'm having one of those weekends that has me completely torn between family and work. I have fought with myself over where I should be and what I should be doing since I woke up this morning.

If I was working, I felt like I should be spending quality time with the kids and hubby. When I stopped to spend time with them, I felt my deadlines creeping up on me. Even right now, the kids are asleep, its past 11, and hubby is alone in the living room watching TV while I work, and I have complete and total guilt.

I know that the current situation won't last forever. I have to work when he is home to watch the kids. Let's face it, nothing kills your productivity like an 11 month old who is in love with the computer's reset button.

My choices right now are: suffer through the next however-many months until I can accomplish more during the day and have more family time on the weekends or put the kids in daycare and go back to a "real" job.

Even though I know that dealing with the next few months is the lesser of the two evils, it sure doesn't make the weekends any easier.

Anyone else in my boat? How are you dealing with the guilt you feel when you have to work when you really want to be spending time with your family, or else risk not being able to pay the bills?

Productivity can be the downfall of many freelancers and finding the right formula to crank out the necessary amount of work in a day is tough. Those of us who work from home, particularly those with small children, have dozens of factors that can mess with our productivity for the day. For instance, today my middle child has decided our house needs a bit of seasoning, and half my morning was spent cleaning up that mess.

I have learned to not count on daytime hours, when I'm alone with the babies, to get anything major accomplished. If they are content or napping, I might squeeze in some research or work on a project for a few minutes, but I try to make sure that there is nothing pressing me to complete it during the day. I write at night, after my hubby is home and after everyone goes to bed, so that the daytime distractions have less of an effect on how much I turn out in a day.

The thing that seems to get me the most is procrastination. I tend to put things off, for a variety of reasons. Kristen King wrote a wonderful post about beating procrastination a couple of weeks ago, that I somehow missed until last night. She talks about finding your root cause to help combat the problem of procrastinating. Within her list of causes, I can identify with each at different times. For me, there is no one solid answer as to why I procrastinate. I'm just glad that I work well under the pressure of a deadline!

I have found that if you know a certain time of day or a specific situation is a complete productivity killer, plan your smaller projects for that time. Leave the bigger things for times that you can concentrate and work uninterrupted. If you do that, then you will only have to fight your own personal demons, rather than battling the outside interruptions on your work.

Getting paid to blog is becoming huge in the world of freelance writing. I admit that I am always writing for other people's blogs, often neglecting my own. (Sorry guys, the clients pay better than the adsense clicks have been!)

Two amazing professional bloggers have come together to provide a plethora of advice for those who earn their living as bloggers and for those who are just starting out. Deb Ng and Jennifer Chait, both successful bloggers with major blog networks, have started Network Blogging Tips, to help answer the big questions that many of us have about finding blogging jobs, driving traffic to your blog, and deciding if the pay is right.

I have read through quite a bit of the site and have found loads of information and tips that I plan on putting to use in the very near future. If you blog for pay, or are considering applying for a blogging position, do yourself a favor and see what these ladies have to say!

Coming In To My Own

I think I may have finally found my rhythm. I have reached a place as a freelancer where I feel as if I belong. I know what I am doing (sometimes), know what I want, and am heading in the direction that will get me there.

For the first time in my freelance life, I am able to take the weekend off. I am not stressed over deadlines and can enjoy my family fully, until Monday morning. I have cleared my plate and am comfortable with the week's income. This is the feeling that I have been waiting for.

Granted, I have a fairly full plate ready and waiting for the coming week, that I may pick at if I get bored enough, but it is nice to know that I don't have to.

Maybe this will last, maybe it won't, but I am certainly going to do what I can to keep things this way!

Looking For A Good Cliche' ?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then three thousand cliche's are certainly worth a website.

In stumbling for post ideas for my blog tonight, I came across a impressive list of writing resources. The item that jumped out the most for me was the Cliche' Finder.

I've always been a sucker for some fun with words, so I had to check it out!

You can browse through their list, search by keyword, or just get 10 random cliche's thrown at you. Here's a sample from one of the random lists:

Hit the mute button on him/her.
It's my way or the highway
Die in harness
Sharp as a pin
Got a hole in my pocket
Kick the dog and cat
Have the last laugh
Turn something into a zoo
Pull the rug out from under
There is a light at the end of the tunnel

While some of these leave a bit to be desired, browsing through the lists has proven to be more fun than a toothache, to say the least!

Over at Freelance Writing Jobs, Deb dug up a nice list of old posts that offer a lot of great advice for freelancers. I have been a daily reader there for a couple of years, and some brought back fond memories of my own learning process in the freelance game.

One particular post that caught my attention was "Do You Have All Your Eggs In One Basket?" This post has some great advice about spreading out your income streams, warding off a financial crisis should a client run out of work, go out of business, etc.

While I have tried to keep a fairly steady stream of work through multiple clients, I have experienced some very lean times when workloads got light in one place or another. If you are new to freelancing, this is a great lesson to learn. Dependency on a sole client or position when in freelancing can be a recipe for failure!

That said, do not overextend yourself either. Taking on too many clients can be disastrous, as well. Experiment with adding one client at a time until your plate is full. Keep looking for additional gigs as you go. As you learn and grow as a freelancer, you may outgrow some early clients and be ready to replace them with bigger and better things!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Who Is Part Of Your Life

Someone must have noticed that I have been neglecting my blogging duties! Thankfully, this time I have been under a nice, big pile of decently paying work. I love being absent when it is for a good reason!

Nikki, at Chaos In The Country, has tagged me with one of the better meme's I have seen come down the pipe in awhile. This meme asks us to choose a quote that speaks to your heart and dedicate it to three other bloggers.

As did Nikki, I just couldn't walk away with leaving only one quote, as there are so many sides of me. Here are a few that show who I am as a writer, as a mother, and as a person.

Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish. ~ John Jakes

It's not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself. ~Joyce Maynard

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish He didn't trust me so much ~ Mother Theresa

As required, I am asking three other bloggers, whose personal insights I enjoy, to post their favorite quotes as well. I have chosen Kristen, Katharine, and Harmony (who needs to update her writing friends on how she is doing!) I hope you all have a few minutes to participate and I look forward to seeing your quotes.

My Latest Experiment

I finally had a few minutes online today to spend some time doing non-client related work. I have decided that this is my year of experiments in self-marketing.

Experiment number one was the article challenge in which I have failed miserably. Client work took over and that (and my blog) fell off the priority list.

Today I decided to take on a new venture. I had some articles that a vanishing client never paid for that were sitting around doing nothing. I've heard people talking about Squidoo and doing well with the affiliate programs there, so I decided to give it a shot.

I am now the proud owner of a Squidoo lens about hypnosis. It's a bit bleak at the moment, but if I start to see traffic there, I'll add more of my leftover articles. If you have a minute, stop by and show me some love!

Started A New Blog

I decided it was time to spread my blogging wings and open up another blog. You'll find a link to my new parenting blog, "From Cribs To Car Keys" to the right on the page. I plan to share anecdotes from my own family, as well as tips, news, and information on parenting and children. There isn't much to look at right now, but check back soon for some great content!

I'm hoping that it will be a success and generate more interest in my professional services, as well as being an informative site. Wish me luck!

Why, Oh Why...

Why is it so difficult to write about yourself? I'm trying to write up a quick bio for the article challenge and also for another project that I have in the works, but everything sounds so corny when I talk about myself in the 3rd person.

I have confidence in myself and my abilities as a writer, but finding a way to express that seems to be one of the most difficult things I ever have to face. Am I the only one who feels like they are playing off-key when they try to toot their own horn?

If anyone has any tips and tricks for writing a bio without sounding like a jerk, please share!

Once again, Kristen King has provided me with a way to improve my writing skills and increase my visibility to clients. This time I have signed up for the Lieurance-King Article Challenge. While the challenge began a little over a week ago, I have some extra time right now to play catch-up.

This particular challenge asks that you write and submit 30 articles to directories over a specific period of time. This should give potential clients a chance to see your talents and possibly contact you for future work. There are other benefits of article marketing, as well, but I'll save those for a time when I'm more knowledgeable on the subject!

I'll be sure to keep you posted on all of my progress in both challenges, as I go!

Happy Writing Everyone!

As a motivator for the year, I have decided to join Kristen King's Inkthinker Query Challenge. The process is simple: Keep track of all of my queries, report them monthly, and have a chance to win prizes! The main goal is to send out 120 queries within the year and pray that at least a few are accepted.

I am a very competitive person, by nature, and wanting to "out-do" as many people as possible should keep me going. I may not win, but I won't go down without a fight!

If you are looking for a way to jump start your writing career or just want to have a little fun, with some healthy competition thrown in, why not join us?

Pass The Feather Duster!

Ok, so it's been eight months since I set foot in this joint. One baby and a few life lessons later, I'm back in the freelance world. I would have been back to blogging a bit sooner, but needed a bit of Google help to change my email, retrieve my password and all that other fun stuff. If anyone is still out there, I'm back and ready to find a new direction to take this blog and hopefully start a new one or two!

It sure is good to be home...just gotta kick out the dust bunnies and cobwebs now! If anyone runs across any dead or changed links, please let me know!

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