There’s a reason you see a smattering of women in red business suits in the crowd when you watch the State of the Union address on TV. Red is a power color, and these are powerful women!
The colors you choose to wear and even brand yourself with say a lot about you—individually and as a business.
I have very few business suits. My absolute favorite one is a gorgeous tangerine and hot pink brocade with a mandarin collar. It’s hot. It stands out from the crowd. It is not conservative. Whenever I wear it, I get lots of compliments. It’s sooooooo me!
But I’m not trying to blend in with everyone else around me. That’s not my M.O. I’m a freelance writer, editor, and entrepreneur. I like to have fun with color. I know what colors look good on me and I wear them as often as possible. Does that mean I have an abnormally large collection of bright green shirts? Yes, it does.
I really enjoyed reading this article on Inc.com about being color conscious. Wearing bold, brash colors might not be a great idea for someone who makes a living managing other peoples’ money. You don’t want your financial adviser to look quirky and brash. You want someone who presents themselves in a polished, even conservative manner. That’s why black, gray, and khaki are such popular, classic colors.
But what if you were creating an ad marketing campaign from scratch, or designing a new website? What would you want your designer to look like? I’m guessing the word “boring” doesn’t instantly come to mind. Which is why creative professionals need to be cognizant of color, whether it’s what they wear on their bodies or what is used on their websites.
Take a peek into your closet and at your website or marketing materials and notice what colors are most prevalent. Lets take a look at what those colors might say about you, according to the psychology of color: Continue Reading
An expo or a conference is a great way to network with other people who work in your industry, as well as a great place to reach a target market.
I co-own and edit a wedding magazine, so I’ve been to my fair share of bridal expos. And I’ve learned a lot from being surrounded by other vendors as well as dealing with attendees.
I found some excellent blog posts written by professional who have great advice on how to make the most of your time at a conference or expo. I’ve used some of their tips to illustrate my thoughts. If you’ll be attending a conference soon, then these tips are assembled just for you.
Do Your Research Before You Go
You might have to sign up to attend sessions in advance, so make sure to look up the topics and speakers ahead of time. The most popular sessions will fill up fast, so don’t wait to decide on what you want to attend on the day of the event—you might not get a seat!
A good strategy before conferences once you’ve seen the speaker and attendee list is to select the people you’d like to connect with. If you’re well established in the topic, perhaps you want to focus on making a few really strong and solid connections. If you’re just getting started and want to use the conference to get to know people, aim for a higher number. —Inc.com
Think about what you want to learn and take away from the conference, and plan your agenda accordingly. You aren’t going to be able to go to every session and meet every speaker—so make sure to make a list of priorities. Continue Reading
I’m a sucker for a good study, and a team of Asian researchers have come out with one about how your social networking sites can accurately predict your personality—something you may (or may not) want to do if you run your own business.
There is a theory out there, which emerged on the scene in 1992, called the Five Factor Model (FFM) that states that human personality can be divided into five categories: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Here’s what they mean:
- Openness: inventive and curious. This person has a strong intellectual curiosity and is likely to be able to think outside the box.
- Conscientiousness: efficient and organized. This person is disciplined, organized, and achievement-oriented. They exhibit planned rather than spontaneous behavior.
- Extraversion: outgoing and energetic. This person is social, assertive, and talkative. They seek stimulation in the company of other people.
- Agreeableness: friendly and compassionate. This is a compassionate and cooperative person. They like to be helpful.
- Neuroticism: sensitive and nervous. This person experiences unpleasant emotions, like anger, anxiety, depression, or vulnerability, quite easily.
As a freelancer, I want to be perceived as open, conscientious, outgoing, and friendly. I do not want to be seen as neurotic. Continue Reading
Have you ever been stiffed by a client? Many freelancers have—and it sucks. More often than not, the cost to take the client to court is frequently much more expensive than the unpaid invoice. So what’s a freelancer to do?
One thing they can do is join forces in a new civic action campaign created and sponsored by the Freelancers Union.
On April 26, the Union launched a web-based tool called The World’s Longest Invoice, where freelancers can come together and share their horror stories. You can add your unpaid invoices to the list at worldslongestinvoice.com.
Some of the unpaid invoices already listed include:
- $200 for violin performance on Busta Rhymes 2008 album, “Back on My B.S.”, submitted by Andrew.
- $7,000 for published children’s book illustration, submitted by Linda.
- $1,300 for marketing strategy, brand development, event planning, and copy writing, submitted by Allison B.
- $1,500 for environmental graphic design concepts for Rascal Flatt’s Tour, submitted by Adam J.
- $2,700 for WordPress development. Client cancelled the job two days before deadline and refused to pay for it because they didn’t use it, submitted by Sarah.
- $2,800 for iPhone application development, submitted by Charles G.
- $15,000 for 8 videos, filmed and edited, 5 minutes in length each, submitted by Ross F.
There are invoices listed for everything from pet sitting to web-related services, and everything in between. Continue Reading
I couldn’t help but chuckle at this recent story from The Boston Globe on the overuse of exclamation points.
Remember when email first came into prevalence? I do. Suddenly writing in all caps meant you were virtually yelling at someone. Typing made it easier to EMPHASIZE YOUR WORDS in a way that handwriting just couldn’t. With a quick touch of command + b, u, or i your words could be bolded, underlined, and italicized. Fancy!
Christopher Muther, the author of the piece I read in The Boston Globe, blames two men with the overuse of exclamation points in society today.
In 2008, they wrote a book called “Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home.” It created a minor sensation, partially because the authors condoned the use of exclamation points.
“ ‘I’ll see you at the conference,’ is a simple statement of fact,” they wrote. “ ‘I’ll see you at the conference!’ lets your fellow conferee know that you’re excited and pleased about the event.” –Christopher Muther
One Boston University psycholinguist quoted in the story says that exclamation points can “mitigate the brusqueness of a brief reply by indicating the writer’s enthusiasm, sincerity, surprise…”
I recently wrote a blog post on the perils of email communication where I was involved in a situation where my brief email replies were misconstrued as rude by the recipient. I wonder, now, if I had included a bunch of exclamation points, or, heaven forbid, smiley face emoticons, at the end of my sentences if they would have softened my message. I’ll never know.
I run a blog where I publish stories about weddings in Maine. Photographers submit photos of a particular wedding, and the bride fills out a questionnaire about their big day for their blog post. These questionnaires are consistently dripping in exclamation points.
I get it. Your wedding day is exciting! You’re marrying the man of your dreams! It really is a dream come true! But I omit most of these exclamation points in the blog posts because, well, all the excitement is kind of hard to swallow. Continue Reading
The magazine I work for is looking to hire a part-time graphic designer to help the production department with creating print ads. The team has interviewed a few good candidates already, but nothing has stuck.
In fact, there was one woman who the team really liked. She showed us some great samples of her work, she had a flexible schedule, and looked like she would be the perfect hire to join our team. Our art director gave her a take home assignment on a Friday, hoping to see something on Monday. She gave this woman a logo, some copy, and a specific ad size to see what she could come up with in a specific amount of time. We never heard back from her.
Disappointed? Yeah! We were hoping this woman would knock our socks off. But she never sent in her graphics test. This led us to two conclusions: that she didn’t really want the job after all or she was creatively unable to do the work we needed her to do.
When I read this blog post on All Freelance Writing about freelancers providing a free sample to potential clients, it made me think about our situation. In this post, author Chris Bibey talks about a situation where he met with a client who wanted him to provide a free sample, based on their particular needs, within 24 hours. This is something freelancers should expect from time to time, Bibey says, as some companies will trust in your skills while others are more skeptical—especially when they have never worked with you before.
My advice is as follows: there is nothing wrong with providing a free sample to a potential client as long as you feel that it could turn into a paid gig. Unfortunately, there are people out there who collect as many free samples as they can from as many writers as they can find. When everything is said and done, they did not pay a dime yet have plenty of unique content. —allfreelancewriting.com
Traveling for work can be a blessing—or a curse—depending on how you handle it. I have to drive a fair amount for my job, but many freelancers spend hours in airports, train stations, and bus terminals.
Wear Comfortable Clothing
I don’t mean an all out sweat suit—though, really, what is more comfortable than that? Comfort to you will mean something different than comfort to me.
When I was flying through Madrid, I noticed something very different between myself and the other women walking through the airport. I was wearing black yoga pants and sneakers while all the other women were wearing skin-tight jeans and stilettos. Apparently, these women’s feet didn’t swell at all due to the change in altitude. Lucky them!
When I’m on a long flight, I need to be comfortable. That means layering. I find planes, trains, and even buses, to be ridiculously cold, so if it’s summertime, you’d better bet I’m packing a pair of socks into my carry on as well as something cozy for my arms. Continue Reading
Right now I am procrastinating. I should be working on writing a story about American Legion Baseball, but I’m writing this blog post instead.
I am not a serial procrastinator—in fact, rarely do I procrastinate. But when there is a story that I know I have to write on a topic that I’m not all that interested in, I tend to put it off. I KNOW that I will get it done, eventually, because I have to, it’s just hard to get started.
I’m sure many of you know exactly what I’m talking about. Whether it’s writing a story, balancing your checkbook, or working on your website design—when it’s not something you’re totally excited about, it’s easy to push it to the side.
I wrote a blog post last month that talked about how procrastination can actually be essential to innovation. I have never been the type of person to thrive on procrastination to get stuff done. Heck—I have a full time job, a part time job, and I freelance! I don’t have TIME to procrastinate!
There was a great article posted on FastCompany.com about how to beat procrastination and get down to work. Their tips can help freelancers as well as anyone who has a tendency to put things off until later.
Knowing and acknowledging when you’re actually procrastinating, and knowing what’s likely to trigger it, is probably your best defense against the monster that makes you feel busy without feeling productive. —FastCompany.com
Catching yourself in the act of procrastination is the first step in getting past it. Here are some of their tips: Continue Reading
Many freelancers have some dedicated space in their home in which to do their work. And setting up a great home office is key to your productivity, sanity, and professionalism.
Of course, some people don’t have an entire room in their home dedicated to a home office, but if you are serious about being a full-time freelancer, having this space makes business sense. Heck, I know people who have actually moved to a different home just so they could have a home office for their business. If this is something you are considering, read on… Continue Reading
I am a lucky freelancer—I have my own home office and no kids (well, at least not yet) to worry about. And my job means I don’t have to sit in my office, day after day, until I can’t stand it anymore. I get to go out and meet interesting people to interview and take photos. However, not everyone can work this way.
Some of you don’t have a home office, or any office, to work in. You have to work wherever you can, be it the couch, the kitchen table, or in the basement. Finding a quiet space can be difficult if you have a family. And not having anyone to bounce ideas off of can be maddening, too.
That’s why I liked this article posted on Men With Pens about the best—and worst—places to write.
If you have to get out of the house due to cabin fever, loud teenagers, or you just need a new environment to spark creativity, there are places where you should and should not go. Continue Reading
When I saw this blog post on Gawker.com, I just shook my head. What else can you do?
Here’s the gist: a guy who is looking for a job created a profile on Monster.com saying he’s looking for a job in the Columbus, Ohio area. He’s contacted by a recruiter looking for an employee in northern Arkansas. One snippy comment made by the job seeker (who is called “Robert” in the post) sets off a barrage of crazy emails.
Since you got my resume off of Monster, I’m sure you saw in my profile that I’m only interested in jobs in Columbus, Ohio, because you surely check these things before firing off e-mails. —Robert
I’m no geography guru, but thanks to mapquest.com, I deduced that there are about 760 miles between northwest Arkansas and Columbus, Ohio. It’s far. Twelve-plus hours in a car far. So sure, perhaps the recruiter was stretching a little bit when he contacted Robert.
And clearly, Robert was annoyed. But the entire chain of emails between these two guys are totally rude and unprofessional. Sounds like they both had a bad day.
It is so easy to misunderstand and misinterpret people when it comes to email. It happened to me just last week. Continue Reading
CareerCast.com just published a list of 200 jobs ranking them from best to worst based on the following criteria: physical demands, work environment, income, stress, and hiring outlook. They used info from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (along with other government agencies) to create this list.
I did a search for some words that describe my job(s) and here’s what I came up with:
- Publication Editor: Ranked 118
- Photojournalist: Ranked 166. I actually typed in “journalist” and this is the only thing that comes close.
- Technical Writer: Ranked 37. Again, I typed in “writer” and this is what I got.
- Reporter (newspaper): Ranked 196 (yikes!).
The top 10 jobs are as follows:
- Software Engineer
- Human Resources Manager
- Dental Hygienist
- Financial Planner
- Occupational Therapist
- Online Advertising Manager
- Speech Pathologist
The worst 10 jobs are as follows:
- Meter Reader
- Reporter (Newspaper)
- Oil Rig Worker
- Enlisted Military Soldier
- Dairy Farmer
Unfortunately for me, my skills have a lot more in common with the worst jobs than the best. And I have to say; I spent many years through college (and even for a while after) being a waitress at a restaurant outside of Fenway Park in Boston, and I LOVED that job! It was the fastest and easiest money I have ever made.
When I looked up “freelancer” in this list of 200, nothing came up. Not surprisingly, as that word can mean so many things. However, I’d like to put “freelancer” through the five criteria above anyway, for discussion sake. Continue Reading