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

Blogging: Is It Still Relevant?

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BLOGGING |

I have been blogging since 2009. That might sound like a long time, but in the early days, my blog was more akin to a journal entry; I recorded daily happenings, thoughts, lists, and whatever else struck me. Many of the entries didn’t have pictures and visitors to my page were rare. Such was my start, but also a reflection on the still-morphing existence of weblogs.

While Justin Hall is noted as the first person to ‘blog’ back in 1994, many more have come after him. Hall’s early ‘personal homepage’, begat many blogging platforms within a few short years, and the growth of this new phenomenon has only grown from there. Blogger and LiveJournal launched hosted web tools in 1999, and WordPress, arguably one of the most popular blogging platforms today, joined the fray in 2003.

I happen to have blogs on both Blogger and WordPress, but there are plenty more sites you can turn to today, from Medium to Squarespace, Tumblr to Drupal, Type Pad to Weebly, and so many more. The platform might change, but the concept remains the same—sharing content with others in a setting where it can be commented upon and shared at will. It is a great medium for writers, people with hobbies or specific interests, and businesses who want to establish a voice for themselves on the web.

Changing Face of Blogging

Like anything though, the face of blogging is changing. Where people once shared stories of their personal days and challenges—Mommy bloggers are still a huge part of the blogging world—topics have exploded from there. Whether it be politics, journalism, art critique, travel, dating, or food prep, you can find a blog for that. But where some people avidly read many blogs a few years ago, nowadays the average person’s attention span is so torn by the constant influx of social media content, that the influence of blogging is changing.

No longer will your take on Grannie’s home remedies be relevant, when your humble blog goes up against trusted big-name websites. You have to have something relevant and unique to say, and it has to be presented in a visually appealing way, not to mention that it be well written. If you are touching on current events, they have to be timely too, not to mention accurate in detail. And even if you write a fantastic post that draws in readers, that’s still not enough. Today’s bloggers need to consistently create good content on a regular basis, promote it to the hilt, and interact with readers to make sure they are a part of the experience.

Tall order? Maybe, but that’s the name of the game, especially if you are a small business who is trying to get your voice heard in the echo-chamber that is today’s social media world. I have talked to people in person, discussed the relevance of blogs with folks on Twitter, read umpteen numbers of articles across the web (yes, I still read blogs), and pondered how best to get the biggest bang for your buck with blogging.

  • regular posting
  • quality content
  • maximize shareability
  • vary the style of posts (graphics, words, pictures, videos, lists, long posts, short posts, podcasts, etc.)

Are blogs still relevant? You bet they are. How you make yours relevant is the key though. It can be a lot of work, but still worth the effort, especially for small businesses looking for more people to find them amongst all the online chatter. Think smarter and reach out to those in the know. Ask questions, talk to experts, and don’t forget the darn SEO, headings, keywords and alt tags while you’re at it.

While this go viral? Probably not, but it doesn’t matter. It helps me to write it down in a cohesive manner and understand it better myself. It also adds content to my stream. And hopefully it will strike a chord with my readers. Do you have anything to add?

I wish you good writing and longevity in your blogging endeavours!