Category: Tech and Such

How I Make my Pay: a Tax Day Celebration

I am so unlike Slam, the title character of a play I’m writing and blogging about this month, June. Here’s proof: a piece describing how I do battle in order to bring in copywriting work. It was posted in an online copywriting magazine not too long ago. 


Being a career-changer and relatively new to freelance writing, one of my first lessons was to love the dread. Writing work is getting regular, but it doesn’t appear by itself, so along with network breakfasts and emails, I’ve got to get visible over the phone. That means every morning I face my personal psychobabble in the form of an immense stone wall, covered with slimy moss, with no hand- or footholds. It veritably looms at me, laughing, (laughing?) threatening to morph, any second, into a prehistoric monster. Call a prospect? Approach the wall? I may be swallowed whole! Worse, far worse: I could be laughed at. Or get slimed. As we say in Acronym nowadays: OMG.

So what’s the trick to pole vaulting said dread? Quantitative action and a partner to share it with. In these days of unlimited text messages and friends who freelance or work from home, I’m equipped to approach the wall, turn my back to all distractions and punch a text declaring twenty calls by 10am. The wall seems to shudder, but no matter; I’m locked in. And what do you know? Looking down, I see I’m wearing crampons, protective gloves, and a stunning fur jacket, with a list of prospective web designers waiting for my call! Connect with ‘droid, square off, leg up, GO.

The dread wave recedes with every call. My muscles build, I develop my footwork. I can laugh at the ooze and smell. The trick? Being able to OMG to a pal, but also meet my quota. And if you’re wearing crampons and furs, it’s hard to take yourself seriously. Let them laugh! I’m dressed for it!

And victory, too: after roughly 200 “cold” calls, I landed a $1,500 web copywriting gig. This cub scout is thrilled and laying the ground for her next merit badge.

First drafts only happen on paper.

First drafts only happen on paper.

It is the strangest experience to write copy for my own web site.

Whenever I approach the work, I get a wrench in my gut and a feeling of horror, and spiders appear in the periphery…

Music: My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, 1979; Brian Eno & David Byrne. Good background beat experiment. To great success. But music isn’t the subject here.

I’ve been writing for other sites for a while now and the SKang system, what I do for customer content, doesn’t involve arachnid craziness. After all, there’s a web designer, the clients, the client’s customers, and a desire to serve. SO, lots of meetings, multiple attachments, many nifty pencils, and several uploads later, we have product. Finis. Quite satisfying, really.

But I put a hold on my own business.
Which is classic cart before the horse.
Because, friends I need a site.
Boy howdy, do I ever.
(You’d think I was back in 1994. When the first site rolled…)
I need to be accessible to businesses on the hunt for an outside eye.
I need links to my writing.
I need passive selling, which is what web sites so very well do.

SO I can happily report that I started today, swear to honest I did.
I did the best possible thing: identified pages and then pulled out (gasp, horrors!) static, yellow, lined paper. Let the scribbles begin!

See picture. Kind of like what this here entry is.

Lesson for the day: I didn’t apply any of my methods for other clients on my site. Hmmm… that’s another blog entry. Stay tuned!

Some Travels Across the Web

Lately my income has derived from research. I’ve been prospecting funding opportunities, and crawling around and behind and within social media. I’ve learned a few things, simple and highly effective. Here’s another list for you:

1. LinkedIn is a great place to confirm spelling of people’s names and their job titles.

2. I’ve found out about two deaths on my Facebook page. We’re not talking Donna Summer, either; we’re talking people I knew. This has nothing to do with research, you’re right, but it was a disturbing milestone for me. It tells me that just like television, there is no turning back. Facebook and its equivalents have been absorbed.

3. Speaking of which: Facebook is a pretty reliable source to get an email address. And find out if a person is in London or home, say.

4. I like Blekko. I have yet to create my own slashtag, but that’s forthcoming.

5. Pinterest has made me pine for a big-screen Mac.

6. Any search limited to only “edu” sites is bound to be more informative and focused, unless it’s an out-of-date professor’s web page.

7. Only today I had an interesting experience: I pulled an obituary instantly off Yahoo, after getting nothing from Google. Google’s been letting me down, friends. Even its “verbatim” gizmo isn’t foolproof.

8. Twitter is a good place to locate an expert or two. In haiku, say.

9. I have a theory that billionaires are hiring people to scrub their history from the web. Yawn. You can tell I’m not a particularly original conspiracy theorist.

10. This was taught in an MS-Office workshop I took, and it’s most effective: if you are searching for an answer to a software question, run an advanced search in Google, limited to Don’t know where Advanced Search is? Just click on the gadget button to the right of the screen, which comes up after you’ve typed in your first search. Once you’re in Advanced Search, scroll down to “site or domain,” and whatever you enter their will limit the search to that area. You can also do the opposite, block sites from your search; but that will be for another day. I’ve got Paul Simon to listen to.