Departure signs are taunting me… those bastards!

13 10 2011

Departure Sign

I picked a friend up from the airport today. Good to see him after all these years. His plane was delayed, though, and I had to wait for him. I usually am annoyingly patient, but something about being so close to escape yet so far away from actually leaving whilst sitting around taunted by departure signs blinking and winking at me, as they do. Well, it all started a bitter, nauseous taste brewing in my mouth.

When my friend finally showed up, I was less than warm, though not icy. He sensed my state of mind, a little on edge. Or maybe it was because I squeezed his hand so hard his eyes popped out of his head as I dragged him swiftly to grab his baggage and leapt to the garage–all within three minutes at TIA, and we sped out into the morning. He could have sensed the bruises I left on his hand when I grabbed him, too. That’s all possible. Either way, he lead me into his hotel where we both gulped up a few extra spicy bloody marys. If I were paying any attention to my actions over the last month since I’ve been fully self-employed, I might notice that my alcohol consumption has increased dramatically. I might notice it. If I were paying attention, you know.

Anyway, as usual, my head cleared as it spun around the room. We did talk about his travels, and with a little fermented concoction running through my veins, now the conversation was inspiring versus feeling the sharp pains of jealousy’s blood streaming from my eyes. If I were less intoxicated, I would have asked my friend for work, as he described several projects that I’d be a strong partner on. Alas! I was not less drunk. Maybe that conversation will come around again when I see him Sunday. Or maybe I’ll again be too distracted by some other level of consciousness that reality seems trite and uninspired.

My bill collectors don’t agree with my take on the artificial nature of time or that on a quantum level we don’t even exist but through our perception, so in fact, nothing is real, it is all imagined. Bill collectors. Strange people. What does shut them up is timely payment, which I’ve been increasingly able to meet since I got rid of that soul-sucking day job I had. Now, I actually have the opportunity to make money for a living, and so far so good. Now, about that conversation with my friend… I would really make an EXCELLENT partner on that project–my presentation design skills are second to none. It might help if I mention that to him some time soon.





How much is enough? AKA: There’s no such thing as security, but drinking helps.

11 10 2011

THE BIG MOVE… How can I decide when it’s time?The truth is, there is no perfect time to move. Slowly, I’m beginning to pull fuzzy rabbits out of my hat again, and for me, this is the definition of success. Money is beginning to be defined as something I can create again versus something that depends upon a job to acquire. What do I mean? Marketability versus traditional security.

My Mini Bottles on a Plane

I have several talents/skills that can generate income for me: 1) writing; 2) singing; 3) cooking; 4) acting; 5) communications and business development; 6) public speaking… these are marketable anywhere. The trick is to make sure each of these talents/skills are polished and at the ready to be marketed and delivered with exceptional quality. This level of marketability is far more secure than a job. I can’t get fired, I can mold the skills to fit within any changing market, and I take it with me wherever I go.

For me, I find that consuming moderate amounts of alcohol at strategic periods of time helps hone these skills. You know–focus.

Where to move? Look I only speak American English. So I’m honestly not concerned about the language barrier–I’m an alien anywhere. Argentina and Brazil look very promising, but I’m not ruling out Costa Rica or Panama. Belize has some fine attributes also.

When to move…? Again that pesky question. I think I’ll get drunk (or even high for the first time in my life) wind up on a plane, and there I will be.

More to come…





Adventure! an extraordinary plan to escape an ordinary life

16 10 2010

What’s next? I’m working like crazy to stay excited–not just motivated, but gleefully excited about everything I’m doing to break free from this suffocating blanket of everydayness. The ordinary job, unexceptional lifestyle, starving for new and interesting experiences and conversations with other passionate people–people passionate about life and possibilities! Adventure!

So, what’s next? Well, I’m blogging like mad and developing a freelance writing business that’s growing legs, and this is keeping my head in the clouds–which is exactly where my damn head belongs! Not everyone is cut-out to take big risks and pull dreams out of the sky and make them happen–maybe–but I know that I am. I need more cloud time. It feeds me.

While my 2-year plan is to expatriate to Latin America, one of my short-term goals is to live off of my freelance writing business fulltime. My head in the clouds, I’m creating opportunities and making things happen! Why didn’t I do this years ago? Ha! Not going to think about that one right now. As I said, cloud time.

 

 

Do you have a cloud dream you’re making happen or want to make happen? Tell me about it–would love to hear about dreams and ambitions.





Developing business needed for Latin America launch–a little disappointment

13 10 2010

Freelance Writing!

Worked like crazy to develop a new blog for my freelance writing and communications consulting business. It’s only been one day, but I am disappointed by the response so far. It seems that thee’s much more interested in living a dream and fleeing the country than there is in communications and marketing practices. I’m not surprised–I think living dreams, planning for adventures and exploring new lands is far more exciting to read about than business strategy, too. But I have no idea how to make a living as an explorer–I do know about writing and communications.

I’m far from feeling defeated. I just expected a much more enthusiastic response on the reorganization. Anyway, if you have any interest in learning more about my professional life, please feel free to visit my other blog: http://daphnestreet.wordpress.com/ and please, please promote it if you feel the spirit move you to do so.

Anyway, things are still progressing on this end. I’ll keep trying different strategies in hopes of stirring greater buzz. More later.

Happy trails  –Daphne





Advice on starting a freelance writing biz while working fulltime

10 10 2010

[Dedicated to Russel–thanks for the comment and question.]

I began my education and career as a classical vocal performer (yes, I sang opera, oratorio and all that). I had the opportunity to speak to the famed operatic soprano Beverly Sills once, who said when asked what it takes to be a professional opera singer, “First you must determine if you have any talent. Then the work begins.” The same advice applies to writing and most anything else you may choose to do. Talent is very important, and some may confidently argue that it can be a learned trait. Regardless, countless hours of work follow for you to achieve mastery of anything. The rest of this post will assume you are a master writer, and so here is my advice on beginning a freelance writing biz while working fulltime:

  1. Compile a diverse body of work for your portfolio, assuming you don’t already have one. Make certain it highlights the exact type of freelance writing you would like to focus upon and also have accents of other types of writing you would like to showcase to potential clients. Have this printed and bound, in color if appropriate.
  2. While still working fulltime, realistically determine how much time (per day, week, month) you can dedicate to your new business. This includes actual billable hours, marketing, business development and organization, accounting, etc. At the start, while things are slow, this won’t account for much, but please plan for success. Unplanned success sinks many new small businesses.
  3. Work. Develop copy. Even if you don’t have a lineup of paying customers, get to work. Start a blog to show off your skills and get Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg and other social networking site participants to pay attention to you growing body of work.
  4. Offer introductory discounts, but be careful here. Make sure your clients know that you are offering an introductory rate. If you would normally charge $30, 40, 60, 70+ per hour, and you are providing a, for example, 30% introductory discount for a new client, make certain to show the math in your bid and invoice for them. The need to see the actual value they are receiving as you build your relationship with them. Also, when you raise your prices, they need to know why and what to expect. Don’t be afraid to volunteer a bit if you need to build your portfolio. Approach local nonprofits/charities that you care about, and offer to do a little pro bono work for them. Let them know why–that you care about their cause and that you’re starting a freelance biz. If all goes well, ask if they’ll give you a praise statement or general letter of recommendation  to include in your portfolio.
  5. Accounting: open up a business account, and you’ll probably want to invest in a little accounting software. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to hire an accountant who works with small businesses, and consult with them for an hour. Do a little research first so that you have great questions to bring to them to get the conversation started. You’ll want to know about taxes, best ways to keep track of profit and loss, what to track, etc.
  6. All about business. Get a business license and apply for an EIN through the IRS. I always recommend that individuals begin as a sole proprietorship, and if they want to get incorporates, calculate all of the costs associated and wait until the company’s revenue can afford to incorporate. Usually, my rule of thumb is that the business needs to pay for all expansions, advertising, etc., or it just isn’t time. There are exceptions to this rule, such as you just landed a huge corporate client, and you won’t see cashflow for at least a month, etc. and you need to take out a loan to handle the upfront costs until you start getting paid–that’s perfectly understandable and a not-so-bad problem to have. Remember–plan for success.
  7. A word on marketing–brand yourself. Develop a solid on-line and community-wide presence/brand. I recommend the book “Crush It” for those not familiar with developing an on-line personal brand. As for community-wide, if you’re at all comfortable with public speaking, get some presentations developed on your subject. Let people know why they need your services–not just what you offer, but what problems exist and what solutions you will bring forward. Be a spokesman for your industry not just a walking advertisement for yourself.
  8. Give a generous gift. Develop something for free to give to people. Something specific–a model communications plan, winning press release formula, etc. Be a little selective in who you give your gifts to, and make certain you are not asking for something in return.
  9. Collaborate and partner. Graphic design artists, web developers, accountants, thought and industry leaders–these are our friends. Collaborate on projects together, invite them to join a dream team for a large client project, refer and accept referrals, etc. We all need friends and having the ability to share resources and expertise will boost your value and offer value-added services to your clients.
  10. Have fun! This is a lot of hard work. It’s only worth it if you enjoy the process as well as the results. Don’t forget to schedule time for yourself and other things you enjoy, and prioritize spending time with family and friends. They, and you, come first always.

Bonus: When to quit the day job? I’m fighting that one as we speak. Make certain you have accumulated money in savings to last you through the hard times. If you get sick and can’t work, you’ll have a loss of billable hours. This may seem obvious, but many people forget to plan for this. There’s no PTO when you’re self-employed. Unless you have some passive income on the side, if you don’t work, you don’t make money. Also, plan for vacations and costs associated. You not only have to save for the vacation but also the missed billable hours for your income. Don’t forget about other benefits you may be used to such as life, medical, dental and eye insurance, 401K, etc. remember, you won’t have an employer, so make certain this is really the life you want to lead–with all responsibilities resting on your shoulders. Personally, I can hardly wait!!!!

The big advantage I have is that I have spent years as a professional writer, employed as such. This not only gives me a large portfolio to present to potential clients, as well as the opportunity to cut my chops on various writing styles (grants, reports, technical, plans, copywriting, article writing, etc.)… having been employed as a writer gives me additional credibility from my employer and former employers. Resumes matter, but trust me, they only matter to a degree. Your body of work and the reputation you have and the one you will build are what will make or break you. There is plenty of work to sustain freelance writers. As the economy remains shaky, this business will be steady, but the competition is high. Many staff writers are being laid off and are turning to freelance work as their source of income. The jobs that laid them off still need writers, but they have learned that they can get more bang for their buck paying higher fees for jobs without being stuck with fulltime salaries and benefits to cover.

Happy trails  –Daphne





Pains of jumpstarting freelance writing biz while working fulltime

9 10 2010

Okay. First realization. This isn’t easy. My fulltime job takes a minimum of 60 hours a week, on salary, as a writer for a large nonprofit. Plus, the job market is fantastically weak, so to be competitive, I’m having to offer huge discounts, calling them “introduction rates,” making sure to document all discounts within every bid and invoice.

Meanwhile, I have one steady freelance gig that pays weekly, with some eventual room for additional special projects. However, it is most definitely location-dependant, which is the type of job I don’t want as I am trying to move abroad. That’s okay. It’s steady income into the freelance business, so that’s positive any way I look at it, for now.

Fulltime gig is getting more and more tedious. With no support staff in various departments, I’m being required to take on more data entry work for other departments and not doing as much writing as I would like. This just adds stress to an already overworked schedule. But, that’s just business life these days. No one can afford much support staff. Hopefully it’s at least appreciated and/or helpful, but that’s wishful thinking. It’s really just expected and demanded.

The agony is that if I left my fulltime job, I do have ample work to make more money with the freelance work than I’m making through the fulltime job. The fulltime job is getting in the way of me making more money. It’s taking up so much time, including time that I’m not actually compensated for as I’m salaried, that I could use through billable hours in my freelance work. I could also spend the additional time marketing the freelance biz and taking on more higher-paying, large-scale jobs that I don’t have time to take on right now, thanks to working fulltime.

But, is it time to quit yet? How about now? Now? What about now? Grrrrrrrrrr….. 

Insurance, paid vacations, steady pay, blah, blah, blah…. barriers I’m not sure I can abandon right now. Plans are for another six months to a year. I wonder if I should change my plans and speed things up?





Feelin froggy–just want to take the leap

27 09 2010

[Note: the urban slang, “feeling froggy” has several definitions. Generally it means, you’re anxious to do something. It has contexts in everything from violence, sex, drugs and the everyday. As for me, I’m referring to the everyday.]

The bitterness of continuing to do very hard work that requires passion that I do not have is weighing in heavy this early morning. All I want to do is shed all of this and focus on the many details needed to begin a more authentic life for myself. Yet, I have commitments and obligations to fulfill. While I do have the financial opportunity to leave my full-time job now, and although I am flatly miserable continuing, I care so much about the relationships I’ve built there, and I do have projects I should complete before I escape. So there it is. Today will be a long one.