A Guest Post: The Hitch…

Done!

I just finished a difficult article that challenged my writing skills, and sense of diplomacy. Writing skills might be self-explanatory, but diplomacy, you ask? Yup. Let me explain.

A Guest Post

Everyone says it’s good to accept guest post roles on other blogs, and to feature them on your own. And I agree. Unfortunately, the process is not always as smooth as it could be. That was the case for me with this particular article.

Now I should say that I did do my research beforehand. After receiving the offer, I checked out the third party’s website, read google reviews on the company, checked them out on Houzz and the BBB. They seemed like a decent company, offering a quality service. So I advised my client that it would be a fine idea to go ahead with the project. We exchanged emails and agreed upon content for each other’s blogs. No problem.

The Hitch

The hitch came when the person I originally dealt with disappeared and was replaced by someone new. Things seemed to go downhill from there. I can roll with the punches though, so I kept on. In for a penny, in for a pound, right?

I researched and wrote an article for the other party. I do that all the time, so fairly straight forward process. Check! Step one done, I sent it to them. Within the week, it was published on their blog. Yippee! I followed this up with my due diligence and flogged links to the article on my client’s social media sites. Check, check! Can’t say I don’t know how it is supposed to work.

The Switch

Then I waited to hear about the reciprocal blog. And waited. My new contact got in touch with me. They assured me the article was coming. They had just been bogged down, but were on it. Of course …. In the interim, I continued to write articles for my client, worried I may have just wasted their time. Sure enough though, an article came through.

My relief was quickly snuffed when I read the article though. Keep in mind that the article was to be featured on my client’s blog. And I pride myself on the quality of the content published there. All articles are read and re-read by myself before publishing, any mistakes made get addressed quickly and professionally, and I do my best to ensure that my client is happy with what I write. This article was not up to those standards. Not even the pictures they sent me really worked with what I wanted to put forth.

fudge…

The Solution

What would you do in that situation? I couldn’t publish it as it was. I thought about cutting my losses and chalking it up to lesson learned. But the third party had made the effort to get me something. And they had stuck to their side of the bargain by publishing our article. Plus, they followed up with the first email with another asking when it would be published. So I made the decision to see how best I could salvage the situation (after agonizing over it for a few days).

After doing a little tuck tail, apologizing to my client for the less than ideal outcome, and almost completely revamping the article, I published it today. I included snippets of what was originally sent to me, but filled in many of the holes with quotes from our resident expert, plus info from other experts in the field. Really though, I could have skipped the middle man and written the entire article by myself, foregoing the angst, multiple emails back and forth, and a heap of edits. I still feel like it was a good exercise, but unfortunately, got bogged down with being offered an inferior product in the exchange.

What did I get out of the deal? Well, I lost wages, as I didn’t think it fair to charge my client for all the excess time spent dealing with the issue. But in the grand scheme of things, I was given the compliment that my writing is good. Better than good, as my client loves my work and appreciates the voice I bring to their blog. And the third party also commented along the way that they like our blog’s content and style as well, hence why they sought us out in the first place.

So perhaps what I have learned is that I need to value my personal writing style and voice a little more. I put time and effort into my writing and it shows. You cannot fake quality. And I’ve got it. If you want it, you’ll have to earn and deserve my skills. Because it’s not worth my time to just throw it away in the future. While I won’t rule out doing another guest post or accepting one on mine or a client’s blog, I certainly won’t accept just anything.  Networking is valuable, but not if it doesn’t offer a return for the efforts. And I am better than just throwing out my writing to just anyone for free.

As a writing teacher once told me—a writer can die from ‘exposure’. No need to make that mistake again.

Life on the Go

There has been so much going on in my world the last little while. Between clients updating websites and field trips for me to attend various work-related events, I feel like I haven’t had a moment’s rest the last month. But I love it! It helps to keep my time management skills sharp, not to mention me out of trouble.

Go, go, go! I’ve been to Toronto to see the Green Living Show. A few plays in London were necessary to see for clients I work with. My tree services friends never stop, so I’ve been to a few work sites this spring where trees were removed, trimmed, transplanted, and freshly planted. And I’ve slotted in coffee to discuss changes to client’s web presences too. All with camera round my neck and a trusty notebook at my side. It even has me reflecting on my own web presence as well. Time to tinker.

Definitely spring renewal. Keep it coming world! I can handle it.

A snapshot of my world on the run…

Spring Fever: It’s Time to Grow

Well, the cold that was threatening a month ago ran over me hard. I went from the flu to bronchitis (or something that involved body-wracking coughs that lasted for several weeks at the least). After being left with little energy and a mound of work to catch up on, my computer decided to get sick too. Ack!

Thankfully we are all now recovered (kids mostly too, minus all our lingering coughs). March Break is behind us and signs of spring are in the air. As much as I am enjoying the warmer temperatures though, I have had my head down and am still playing catch-up with work. I am helping a few clients revamp their images and websites. Another client has a play going on which I am helping to promote. Trade shows are filling another client’s world, which require shout outs to advertise. And I desperately need to see someone else just to touch base with what’s going on in their business’s world and update some pictures.

These are the moments that can get crazy, but what I love about social media work. I like when clients turn to me to help make their companies better. I thrive on full calendars with exciting events to showcase why the people I work with are great. Face to face meetings are often so much more productive and give an opportunity to delve into the important facets of what people’s businesses are all about. The perks come when I meet new people through existing clients, or when word of mouth has potential clients seeking me out.

So as spring slowly begins to bloom around me, I am sticking my head out and looking around. I have a few trade shows of my own I’ll be attending shortly and need to seriously work on polishing up my own social networking sites so that I can properly promote myself more effectively. It’s one thing to critique and improve others, but when meeting others you need to have something to offer as well. Time to brush off the business cards and breathe life into myself again. It’s spring and time to grow!

Like a groundhog in spring, I am sticking my head out and looking around

Vacations From Social Media: The Story of the Self-Employed

I am a single mother of two and work from home as a Freelance Writer. This works for my family, as I have the flexibility to work when the children are at school, but can still get some writing in when they have sick days. I can balance volunteer opportunities during the day with working into the evening when necessary. And if something big falls into the schedule, like the upcoming March Break, I can still enjoy the time off with the kids by working a little more beforehand, sneaking in little bits while they are entertaining themselves, or scrambling to make up missed pieces afterwards. I may not be looking at Freedom 55 anytime soon, but my children appreciate the time I get to spend with them, as do I.

The more challenging piece of working from home is usually Summer Break. There is no way I can schedule two months worth of writing in beforehand. And as much as there might be some benefits, I can’t exactly just drop clients for the summer while I go on vacation. They would go elsewhere to get their needs met and I would have a pretty skimpy budget to work with, what with the lack of money coming in.

Being self-employed means I don’t have the luxury of vacation pay. No work, no pay. Definitely a drawback of the job.

So how does one handle vacations when you are self-employed? The smart thing would be to set up a rainy day fund or fill a vacation jar with money to pay for and tide you over your holidays. Telling your clients you are taking a holiday usually goes over reasonably well too. Most of my clients are small businesses, so they get the importance of time away from business. If I schedule in the bigger pieces (scheduled Facebook posts and blog posts), then a small income still comes in despite the active time away, and your client’s social media profiles don’t dry up entirely while you are gone.

Unfortunately though I usually can’t 100% step away from the web. Invariably something big pops up in a client’s world as soon as I am offline. I can’t take the chance, so usually check my emails semi-regularly even while on vacation. My phone needs to be charged and I feel like I have to scan client’s social feeds, just to be sure I don’t miss an outraged comment, timely inquiry, or some other vital piece of my client’s online world. The web never sleeps. Hence, I need to keep half an eye on it.

That doesn’t sound like much of a vacation, but again, it is the sacrifice I make to choose my own hours. I still mostly get a break, but have the security of knowing I have something to go back to. One has to pay for your vacations somehow, right?

If you are self-employed, how do you handle vacations? Do you walk away cold turkey, work throughout, or just never take one for fear of your world imploding while you are gone?

Vacations are a balance game; one eye on social media & the other as far away from it as possible

Sick Day

My schedule has switched up a bit recently and I am still working out the timing of things. New clients have come my way, at least for a short-term basis, but other clients I’ve worked with for a while are scaling back a bit. It means rethinking what I need to do when, which is fine, but on the first day of a cold, all I want to do is crawl back into bed.

My inspiration is less than at its peak, but my boss doesn’t pay sick pay. Darn self-employment. I also don’t get vacation pay, so dreaming of summer vacations instead of working doesn’t help either. Sigh

Perhaps I will just take a moment to reflect back on the long weekend instead (I probably gave them my germs, but we can suffer together). This Family Day weekend there were hugs, laughs, and many moments with family. My sister was down with her kids for a visit, and good food, cheese, and drinks were on the menu. We challenged an Escape Room and won with 2 minutes to spare (shocked us with our smarts). Plus, we got in some much-needed nature time, as who could resist the balmy temperatures. All moments to buoy up dull mid-winter souls.

Now if only I could hear the rustle of leaves and squeals of laughter as we slid down mud-slicked hills again instead of my growling laptop. That would be nice. I suspect I have to add a computer to my shopping wish list, along with an air conditioner this year. 

Suddenly, summer vacations just became that much more remote a dream. Time to get back to work. Anyone in need of a Freelance Writer? winter walk