Thursday, March 31, 2011

Terror and Gratitude

Sometimes life will give you a huge shove, knock you right on your butt and remind you to focus on what really matters. I got one of those shoves yesterday, and experienced emotions ranging from complete terror to utter thankfulness over an hour long period.

It all started with a phone call from my husband. He calls me several times a day when he is on the road, but this time I could not hear him. His signal was awful and I thought he was saying check the text. Since he had not sent me a text, I was understandably confused! After he lost his signal completely, I sent him a text telling him I couldn't understand him. The answering text simply said "I flipped the truck" and then nothing. No answer to my text asking if he was ok. My heart just stopped beating. Rationally, I knew that if he could text me he was relatively uninjured, but emotionally I was falling apart.

20 minutes later, he managed to borrow a phone and even with the awful reception I could understand him to say he was ok. Almost an hour after the first call, he finally called me from a paramedics phone to let me know he was being taken to the hospital because he had pain from the seat belt cutting into him. Heavy rains moved mud onto the road and he hit it and slid, losing control in the process.

A few hours ago, he finally got home to us. All in one piece, really sore and most likely unemployed since his company has a zero tolerance policy for wrecks. And I don't care. Jobs, trucks and everything else can be replaced. Husbands and dads cannot be and as long as he is ok, everything else will work out in the end. If I have my way, he will never drive over the road again. I have my work, and if coming home every night means less pay, so be it. I will remember that moment of terror every time I trip over the boots he leaves in the middle of the floor, or clean up the huge mess he always makes cooking, because he is here to do those little things that annoy me. The alternative is to horrible to imagine.

If you are sensitive to car accidents, or have lost a loved one to an accident, please don't look at the pictures below. Even knowing he was ok, viewing them caused another bout of tears and anxiety.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Scheduling Your Days

Some people may envision life as a freelancer as lazy days spent in pajamas, working here and there when you want to. It's a nice vision, but any freelancer knows that it is far from the truth.

In order to be a successful freelancer, you must be disciplined and extremely self motivated. Working from home means that you have double the distractions compared to someone who works in a traditional office environment. When working from home, a schedule is a must have. Not every schedule will work for every freelancer though.

Some people manage well with a simple to do list. Simply listing everything that they must accomplish on any given day gives them the ability to buckle down and get it done. Others need a more formal schedule, listing each hour of the day and what needs to be done during that time.

If one way of scheduling your day doesn't work, try an alternative and keep on trying different ways until you find the one that works. Staying well organized will make the difference between succeeding or failing as a freelancer.

What do you do to stay on track?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Family bowling night

Guest post from: Kent Lara

My family and I started a family bowling night about a year ago to try and get out of the house and have some quality family time. I am in the Army so we like to go the bowling alley on post because we know that it will be affordable and a safe friendly environment.

We try and go every Tuesday but life does not always allow for that to happen. My daughter started off on the bumper bowling lanes but is now trying to move up to the regular lanes. She's quite the little trooper and always has such a blast.

Usually right after I get home from work my wife and I load up with our daughter, pack our bag, set the house alarm ( and we are off for a wonder evening together. I would recommend that any family looking for a way to bond give family bowling night a shot. I think that it has really been a great experience that has also brought our family closer together. Definitely a better choice than sitting in front of the television every single night I think.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Time To Plant!

It's my favorite time of the year, when everything is turning green and the sun is warm and bright. It's time to dig in the dirt and make things grow.

So far we have planted flowers, bachelors buttons and a few others, as well as some herbs. Later this week we will plant several varieties of tomatoes and peppers. I am trying to decide what else to plant, the more we plant the better since we have plenty of room and love to eat veggies!

We don't have the best dirt for growing, since we live in an area that is predominately sand, but with a lot of TLC we can produce some impressive plants. Hopefully I will be able to post some plant pictures before to long!

What are your plans for gardening this year?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 Review

I was given a month trial to by using the program at Bzzagent. I thought it would be an excellent resource to have on hand to help with homework or extra studying when needed. And since the Bzzagent site is intended to get the word out about products and services, I thought I would review the site here.

I have to admit, I was not overly thrilled with it. The monthly price was a bit of a shocker at $35 for one month. I am sure that is comparably inexpensive compared to hiring a tutor, but there are so many free resources on the net that help with the same things. The lessons were very well done, and showed how to do the work by breaking it down in to small steps, which I thought was wonderful. However, there were no worksheets or practice tests to ensure that you grasped the concept. Personally, I have found that my children learn best by doing things hands on, and that is not possible with no practice work available.

I would not pay that amount each month to use the program, but feel free to check it out for yourself. Use the code BUZZFA626 to check out for free!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Marketing Yourself, Continued

Essentially, you are a business. You may be only one person in a small office set up in a corner of your home, but you are still a business. Businesses need to be advertised in order to get their name out their for people to see.

This means different things for different freelancers. For me, at the moment, this blog is my main focus. Which is why I am putting the facebook and twitter associated with it to better use. Being more active on both will put this blog in front of people. On that note, feel free to follow me on both facebook and twitter. ;)

To other freelancers, this may mean gaining more private clients by advertising in newspapers, trade publications or online. This will enable them to broaden their horizons and keep a steady amount of work coming in at all times.

Word of mouth is also very important to any business. Websites such as Freelance Writing and Freelance Writing Gigs are a great place to find potential clients. If these clients are happy with your work, they will tell other clients and bring you more work.

So what are your goals for the business that you are? How do you plan to accomplish these goals?

Friday, March 18, 2011

What Do You Struggle With?

One of the hardest parts of being a freelance writer, for me anyways, is the need to market myself in order to make money. I am a shy person in general, and a very shy writer. I went years without showing anyone anything that I wrote. One day, in a fit of temper because my husbands volunteer fire department needed equipment they couldn't afford because of the lack of community support, I wrote a short piece about volunteer firefighters. I made the mistake of letting him read it and the next thing I know, every person in his department had read it and it kept spreading. I got emails from other departments asking permission to use it. People stopped me in the grocery store to tell me how good it was. My confidence in my writing ability soared, and my writing career began at that point.

But even now, I still have lapses of confidence in my writing. I don't let friends or family members read my blog, except for few exceptions. I swear every time I send a writing sample to a potential client that it is the worst thing I have ever written. I am my own worst critic, so I don't like to take the risk of putting myself out there for others to criticize.

But, if I don't market myself I won't have much of a career, will I? So I do it anyway despite my fears. Because writing is what I do. It's all I want to do. No other career would fulfill me like writing does.

What is your biggest struggle in your freelancing career?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Meals For Lazy Evenings

I enjoy cooking for my family, and rarely ever buy pre-made convenience foods since I would rather know exactly what I am feeding them. But some nights I would love to have a frozen pizza or lasagna in the freezer so that I can take a break from the cooking and the kitchen clean up that comes after! Over the years, I have managed to come up with a few meals that I can throw together with a minimum of mess and preparation so that I can use the time saved to hang out with the kids.

Spaghetti is one, of course. It's versatile since I can add all my own veggies or make my own sauce if I want to, or I can just throw in some ground beef and canned sauce and call it a meal. I always make a huge pot either way, so lunch is taken care of the next day too.

Our own version of black bean tacos always feels like a break from cooking to me, but to the kids it's a treat since they absolutely love them. All I do is throw two or three cans of black beans, with juice, into a pot and add a can of corn. Stir in a pack of what ever taco seasoning I have on hand and let it all simmer. Once the juice has all simmered away, I put the mixture in soft taco shells and top with cheese, sour cream, guacamole....just what ever we have on hand.

Macaroni and cheese is another big favorite around here and throwing in some kind of meat makes it a meal. Tuna, leftover chicken, pork or hamburger can be mixed into the macaroni after you add the cheese. Veggies can be mixed in as well, or served on the side. My kids particularly love apple sauce along side the mac and cheese. We almost always have a box of macaroni and some shredded cheese, so it's an easy thing to throw together.

What are your go to recipes on the nights when cooking is the last thing you want to do?

Monday, March 14, 2011

My Newest Addiction.....Swagbucks!

As a writer, I do a ton of research everyday so of course I use a search engine a lot! I signed up for Swagbucks quite awhile ago but just started using it on a regular basis. Searching allows you to win points that can be used to get merchandise or gift cards. I love so of course those are the gift cards I am going for!

Searching isn't the only way to earn points though. You can watch videos on SBTV, play games or complete simple tasks to bring up your points balance, and they add up pretty quickly. You also get points for referring friends! I am thinking I can just keep racking up gift cards until December and do some painless Christmas shopping right here at my desk. :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

It's Friday!!

Finally! And to make it even better, I don't have to wait patiently for the man of the house to show up sometime today and give me a hand since he surprised me by showing up around 1 am this morning. I even got to sleep in this morning, waking up only long enough to get the kids clothes together and going straight back to bed.

Posting about my mother's stories yesterday got me thinking about my love of books and words and how I have been surrounded by them for as long as I remember. Would I have been such an avid reader if I had grown up in a different environment? my grandmother tells tales of a tiny me who know one would believe could read until she would pull out a book and prove it. Or of having to drive daily down a certain road in Orlando where strip clubs abounded with me trying to read every sign in sight. A certain club, called Circus Circus, caused many a tantrum because I wanted to go see the circus and could not understand why it was only for adults. As proud as she was that I was reading at such a young age, she wished for me to stop many times.

On the other hand, I do know several people who enjoy reading when no one else in their family is interested in it. But none of them are really as bad as I am about it. I am miserable if I don't have anything to read and there are books in every room of our home, much to the dismay of the man of the house. My grandmother is the same way and every time I go home to visit, she sends me home with boxes of books to make room for new ones on her shelves.

Do you think environment has a lot to do with a love of reading? Are your kids avid readers or writers because you are? I would love to hear your opinions on this!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fiction Writing

Do you have a book inside of you? You are not alone, if you do! Many freelance writers never even consider writing a work of fiction, while others dream of seeing their novel on the shelf at their favorite bookstore. I definitely belong to the second group.

I have written many short stories over the years, the first one when I was in the fourth grade. My teacher raved about it, and encouraged me to write more. After that, I was hooked! I can remember a story my mother wrote when I was a child, it was about toys that came to life when no people were around. This was way before the days of the Toy Story movies and every time I see Woody or Buzz, I think about that story. I write stories for my kids all the time, although many of them are made up on the spot to help them stay calm while waiting and never actually make it to paper.

Of course, I am writing a book too. How could I not? The darn story entered my mind one day and stayed in there developing until I finally applied fingers to keyboard and let it out. But it is now stalled, not even half way finished, because there are only so many hours in a day and so many of them are full! But it's all still right here in my head, developing...simmering, I guess. I know what is going to happen, I know what comes next and what comes at the end. One day, I will find the time to get it all out of my head and hopefully someone out there will think it is good enough to publish.

What about you? Do you have a book inside you begging to get out? How do you find time to write it while also making a living and taking care of the other responsibilities in your life?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Google's Attack on Content Mills

For many freelance writers, so called content mills are the way the bills get paid. Although writing website content generally pays less than writing for print publications, it is easier to break into and easier to do when you are balancing parenthood and your writing career. Google's recent changes have seriously hurt many websites and that is causing panic among content writers. Many writers received an email today notifying them that some revenue share articles were removed. This may mean a significant loss of revenue for some writers.

What are you going to do to prevent this from having to much of an impact on your income? After getting frustrated and kind of down in the dumps about it, I have decided on my own battle plan to ensure that I do not give up my dream of making a living with my writing.

1. Blogging I am going to begin blogging regularly again, since a blog is mine and cannot be controlled by other people. I may even start other blogs, there are a few ideas floating around in my head. :) And a well maintained blog is a great place to send potential clients so that they can get a general idea of your writing style. Which leads me to the next step in my plan.....

2. More Private Clients Just an hour a day spent sending out resumes and writing samples to prospective clients could net big returns. Submitting to print publications is also a good idea!

3. Revenue Share Not all rev share sites have been hit by this google disaster. Some of them are still going strong, and are a great place to place quality articles to build a passive income.

4. Just Keep Writing! Until content sites such as Demand Studios or Internet Brands start refusing to pay me for articles, I will continue to write them. Why stop now, when the money is still flowing in? Granted, the editors are becoming harder to please, and the choices of titles to write is narrower, but I can still write!

About Me

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I am a freelance writer who specializes in website content as well as print media. I offer fast, professional service and competitive rates.