When I started my “big girl” job at a marketing agency after college, I thought I was a strong communicator. But I had a lot to learn.
The key to success in the working world is to build relationships, and that’s really what communication is all about.
On Day 1, it definitely didn’t occur to me to send emails like a receipt of acknowledgement, a recap, or a thank-you to build credibility and develop stronger relationships with clients and coworkers.
It took me over a year to recognize the immense value in these messages (and to make a habit of sending them regularly). I want to short-cut the learning curve for you. This is not what you’re taught in school. And if you can implement these strategies, you’re sure to stand out — because nobody else does it this way. …
A returning client reached out to me recently with a new project. And, despite my willingness, excitement, and the knowledge that my client believes I do good work, I was still nervous about jumping on the phone to discuss the project.
Yes, client phone calls still stress me out.
In the first year or so of freelancing, it seems that no two projects are alike. As I attempt to narrow in on my niche, my work is often widely varied, and I’ve taken on projects across different industries. My clients have different personalities and expectations.
I worry, have I asked the right questions? Do I understand what my client is looking for? …
Funny story: this time last year, I set an “intention statement” for 2020 vowing that it would be the “year of relationships.” Ha! Ha ha ha.
As a perfect example of life throwing curveballs and things not always going according to plan… the pandemic made it difficult to cultivate relationships in the way I was used to (happy hour with coworkers, meeting friends for coffee, traveling, etc.).
Nurturing friendships, meeting new people… this is often challenging for me as an introvert, and that’s why I knew it needed to take priority in 2020. I crave connection like anyone else. …
I was the kid who always carried a pen and paper with me wherever I went. As a writer, I needed to be prepared for inspiration to strike, and I hoarded notebooks like a squirrel in winter.
Even now, I have a thousand Word files, shared Google Docs, and iPhone notes. Sound familiar? The trouble is, it’s infinitely more difficult to find and reference ideas later.
That’s the reason I began searching for a simple but flexible note-taking app that would allow me to (1) keep notes and ideas in one place, (2) easily “search” for files, and (3) connect ideas to build a knowledge base. …
One of the challenges I’ve faced as a freelancer is a perpetual feeling of guilt… I often feel guilty when I’m working (hey, I’ve got a flexible schedule now, right?) and guilty when I’m not (“I should be working! I don’t get enough done!”).
I’ll come to the end of a workday and feel discouraged because I’m convinced I could have been (should have been!) more efficient, productive, motivated… you get the idea. It feels as though I’ve made no progress at all. Where did the time go? Why did I waste it? I’m a freelance failure.
It isn’t true. And I can say so with confidence now because I’ve started taking time at the end of each day to reflect on my work and my progress. This simple practice has done wonders for my attitude and my productivity. …
As a freelancer, time is your inventory.
If you’re not tracking your time, you’re missing out on valuable data about your productivity, your workload, and your profitability.
When I started freelancing, I often gave clients more of my time than they’d paid for. The problem wasn’t necessarily that I’d logged unbillable time, but that it was unintentional — and by that, I mean, I didn’t keep track of the hours I’d put toward the project and spent more time than I was willing to give.
So I began using a spreadsheet to track my time for client projects. For one of my clients, the summary of hours revealed that I was spending on average twice as many hours per week than I was paid for. It was a wake-up call. It didn’t seem like a big deal to give this client an extra 10 minutes here and there until then. But it adds up, and I was losing both time and money (neither of which I could afford to lose). …
Writers and comedians have a lot in common.
At first glance, comedians are merely performers — funny people who have the confidence to stand up in front of live audiences and make them laugh. Us writers, on the other hand, are such solitary creatures. Our words take the spotlight.
Comedians are writers, too. Some of the best comedians in the biz spent years writing jokes and honing their personal creative style to entertain their audiences.
I made a friend recently who’s in stand-up. He’s self-taught, and he told me what his life was like when he performed 3–4 sets each night in New York comedy clubs to fast-track his learning curve. …
Every day, my dad goes to “work” in our guesthouse (his office). He wears Hawaiian shirts and takes a long bike ride every Thursday morning.
He’s a small business owner, a web developer, and he’s worked for himself for the 24 years I’ve been alive. He gave me the entrepreneurial bug. I’ve always been impressed with his flexibility and control over his schedule.
I’ve dabbled with the entrepreneurial lifestyle, but it wasn’t until 6 months ago (when I was laid off due to COVID) that I decided to go all-in on my dream of working for myself.
Well, it hasn’t been the straightforward path I thought it’d be. (Is it ever?) …
It’s been a month — or two — since you last touched your novel.
Life happens. Maybe something came up, or you hit a spell of writer’s block. But now it seems impossible to pick up where you left off.
Coming up on Act II of my first draft, I choked. What loomed ahead was uncharted territory. Rather than diving in to figure it out, I took a “break.” I felt too pressured to match my previous daily word count.
And while there are loads of activities to get the creative juices flowing again, they are often procrastination in disguise. (Believe me, I’ve done enough of them to know.) …
True character reveals itself in stressful situations — especially when you receive criticism.
Criticism is a hard pill to swallow. It’s tough to hear how you’ve messed up or fallen short. And it’s doubly difficult to take negative feedback without an attitude or emotional response — much less a positive one.
I’ve been there. It’s impossible to go through life without making mistakes. And in the working world, it’s someone’s job to point out those mistakes and make sure you learn from them.
“If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something.” ~ Neil Gaiman
Like anything else, it’s all in how you look at the situation. Feedback — even criticism — is a learning opportunity. …