The Pen is Mightier than the Sword!

I’m just starting to communicate with a potential client in Singapore. I knew there was probably a significant time difference from my local Las Vegas/Pacific time but I wanted to get a better bead on what business hours/timeframe might be best for both of us, so that I could set it up on my laptop.

I found this really good tool to calculate the time difference for me, beyond “Singapore is x hours ahead of you”. I hate doing time-math if I don’t have to. And I was certain there was an app for it online somewhere. I didn’t have to search too far to find this site: Timezone Calculator

Free; No download required; easy to use. This is something that will come in handy for knowing when the client will likely be online, and the window that is most convenient for a virtual meeting via Skype, GoogleTalk, GoToMeeting, etc.

There are a lot of other tools, but this is the first one I found today that seemed to serve my need.

Advertisements

For the second time in as many months, I’ve been notified that a site where I’d been posting article content since 2005 or so is shutting down. First it was Helium.com; now it’s Yahoo Voices (formerly Associated Content). I think this is just the beginning of the death of the dinosaur/content mills. Who’s next – Triond, Ezines, Article Snatch, HubPages, Examiner? These are all places where I’d posted content.

As a freelance writer, I am acutely aware that the landscape of “writing for dollars” has changed dramatically in the past 10 or so years. When I started out posting content to these content mill sites, I was looking for exposure and validation of my ability to tell a good story. The payoff was usually only pennies-per-view. But I did earn a few actual dollars on 2-3 of the articles submitted. And I gained the confidence to pursue a “career” as a freelance writer. That landed me at Odesk in 2010 and other freelance job search sites where I got one long-term gig and several other short-term gigs. The long-term gig ended a few months ago and I’ve been searching for another one ever since. The details of how that is going are fodder for a separate post.

Regarding to the death of the content mills and my content on them, I’ve been scrambling to retrieve my articles and posts. I still have the original document for most of them. But it’s been almost 10 years since I created some of them. I think I can salvage/revise/update/re-purpose many of them. Ironically, I did just that for a recent posting on Yahoo Voices and they rewarded me with an upfront payment of $6.00. But now that site will be shutting down next month.

So I need to find another home for the several articles I’ve written/posted on these dinosaur sites. In the near term, it may be this WordPress blog.

Consider this: You’re working at a job you absolutely HATE for whatever reason. You want to quit, or have even decided to quit. As a courtesy, you want to let your supervisor/manager know of your decision/intention to resign – give the proper 1-2 weeks notice. But have you ever sat down and actually typed a draft of your resignation letter/email? I have. It was a very liberating experience. And in a few cases the draft turned into the real thing – with more editing, of course for professionalism. You don’t want to burn a bridge – you might want or need to get a recommendation from the source of your dismay/dissatisfaction for your next gig. That said, it is innocuous but cathartic to sit down and write a semi-professional resignation letter. Just make sure you do NOT press the Send button unless you really are prepared to burn the bridge!

This can work even if you are a contract/freelance writer. Here’s an example I wrote a few months ago.

Dear [Supervisor Name]:

I have some news that will change my status/availability to work on your writing projects. I’ve won the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes prize of $1M a year for life! So obviously, I won’t need to work at [their company] any more for [whatever they were paying].

I am giving my [notice period-days or weeks], effective [Date]. I hope that’s enough time to transition my projects to another writer. (If not, let’s talk/negotiate.)

I’ve thought about staying on contract with your company even though I don’t need to. But I realized that I can’t fulfill a weekly commitment. I expect to be too busy in my “Millionaire Lifestyle” to block out the time for that. Perhaps if needed, I can do some short projects on a fixed-rate basis. (Proofreading, prepping for final delivery, side projects, etc.) .

I know this news is a big shock to you. Winning this prize was a big shock to me! But as a tech/geek, I started thinking/planning for this life-changing event over a month ago. Going forward, I hope to get back to my first writing love – creative writing/journaling. There’s SOOO much I can do now that money is not an issue.

Best regards,

Deena

I didn’t win the big PCH prize, but it felt SO good to write this resignation letter/e-message!

What a week, what a day for this freelance writer in search of a paid writing opportunity. So many great leads to follow up on, so much to research, so many learning moments, so many more ideas…..

Today’s food for thought: Did You Know….That a freelance writer is considered “self-employed” and therefore is NOT eligible for Unemployment Insurance in most states? Well, you might have known that you’re self-employed through dealings with the IRS. But I found it interesting that the self-employed are mostly not entitled to/eligible for any UI (unemployment) benefits. What are we supposed to use for money (for rent, food, bills) when between paying gigs?

Trying to answer that question led me to numerous sites beyond those where you can apply for your state’s welfare benefits. For example….. Did you know there are sites where you can apply for grant/loan funds specifically for writers? A popular one is Funds for Writers http://www.fundsforwriters.com/

I must warn you: Searching that site and any others that you may find re: getting funded as a self-employed freelance writer is going to require at least as much time and effort as simply searching for your next gig. You’ll have to choose what you want to spend your time on. Hmmmm…..A rock or a hard place? Being faced with such a choice makes it not fun to be a grown-up. 

Happy Saturday/Mom’s Day Weekend!

As you may be able to tell, I’m having a DEVIL of a time tweaking this WP site to show what I want to show. Yes of course, the problem is that I’m not yet WP proficient. And the user interface is by no means as intuitive as I always hope expect a site/program to be. I’m no novice to the technology circus after 30+ years in the ring. But overall, I haven’t seen it getting any easier to use. Hmmm…. is that yet another veiled/covert way of making it harder for the over-30 set to stay in the game? I wonder……

For a lot of my “fun writing”, I draw upon the little slices of life – my own and other people’s adventures and encounters. Sometimes it’s as innocuous as friend’s posting on Facebook; a thought that jumps into my head while I’m looking for work; a typo or misuse of a metaphor, etc. I could spend all my time on this alone. Long story short…. Here are a few ideas bouncing around in my head that I don’t have time to write out:

Killing Time – Saw a friend’s posting on Facebook about this. My immediate response was “Keep in mind – the time you kill now is time you’ll wish you had later for something more important. Just sayin’…..

Wouldn’t it be GREAT if a job-seeker could bill time for the hours spent just looking for a job?

The “Success of Failure” – First saw this as a typo/misuse of words. The writer meant to say “the success or failure….”. I was surprised to find that some brilliant writer turned that misuse of phrase into a book he’s selling on Amazon.

The “Gig/Jig is Up” – in 2 days of watching favorite TV shows, I heard the phrase misused 2 of 3 times as the “gig is up”. The correct phrase is “the JIG is up”. I don’t know why it matters to me. And apparently over time, jig/ and gig in this phrase have become synonymous. AAARRRGH!!! 

A title/headline/banner of an article on my Yahoo home page: “What Does Your Retirement Look Like?”. My short answer: Dismal. Like many people in the past 10+ years, I’ve had to use my retirement savings to keep a roof over my head. At my age (nearly 60), jobs that pay enough for me to be financially independent are as scarce as a needle in a haystack.

The Big Wedding For a 50+ Bride – Really? This subject is so sensitive that I can’t even write about it in a public forum, unless I do it anonymously. 

I could go on and on. Since I first starting freelance creative writing, I have amassed several subjects/titles for articles. Some got as far as the draft stage. Many more continue to pop up, even when I’m engaged in the time-waster activity of watching TV. Everyday life is such a fertile ground for the grist that can become an article. 

I saw this title/headline today and cringed!

The incredible lengths actors go through to achieve superhuman looks

No one goes THROUGH incredible lengths! Length is a measure of distance, like going from Point A to Point B. So someone/an actor would go TO incredible lengths to achieve a goal – not THROUGH them. In another turn of phrase to convey the message, one might say/write “The incredible hoops an actor will jump through to achieve…. “. 

I hate it when people mix metaphors like this. Yet they get a post on Yahoo and I’m starving/going bankrupt as I look for work.

%d bloggers like this: