Friday, July 11, 2008

The Life and Times of a Freelancer

Many people think because you work from home and/or online, you aren't busy at all. They have no guilt about stealing your time from you even though it appears they have plenty of their own for free. I say let them put on their running shoes and keep up with me for a day. I will have their tongues hanging out like a shoe brush.

While working from home surely has it's benefits, it's not unusual for me to put in 60-80 hours a week working on one project or another. (The commute is great though, considering the price of gas: down the hall; past the coffee pot; through the living room; to my office with a view overlooking my small farm.)

I manage three separate writing operations (content articles, copy writing and institutional writing), as a contracted online freelancer, for a company out of California. I do all hiring/firing of other freelancers, make assignments, monitor work flow and manage editors/writers on these different teams. I play a major role in public relations and customer service, too.

I run two blogs for this company and am involved with the planning and development of their business as well.

I travel all over cyberspace as a representative of this company and leave comments on blogs/forums in several company personnas (even one female). These comments point back through links to company sites; thus driving traffic to them. (I knew all those voices in my head would come in handy someday, lol.) Sort of a cyber ambassador of goodwill for the company I represent, I guess you could say.

I spend a fair amount of time researching and training myself in new skills I can use in my profession. Currently, I am learning to use Camtasia, PhotoShop and several other software programs to produce videos for in-house training, promotions via YouTube, iFrame, etc, and to sell as a service from my freelance operation.

And for fun:

I am always building on my own fledgling company and planning its growth as well. It is a general writing services company for articles, copy, resumes, grant applications and videos in support of advertising efforts of other business both online and off. I intend to drive business to it with an affiliate program I am developing. It will put a sales force all around the globe for me.

My business will not compete with the one I work for, in fact, they will compliment each other by filling a niche the other needs. I would never bite a hand that has fed me; out of respect, loyalty and honor.

I have begun working on a second business plan for an online stockyard for Kentucky. It would allow livestock producers and buyers to meet in one central location in cyberspace instead of the hundreds of small points of sales across the state. Producers would, in effect, rent database space from me to showcase their stock for a nominal fee. I will capitalize on my background in agriculture to make this happen. If it goes over in KY, I may attempt it in other states or even nationally.

I am currently building forum and blog sites that will act in support of these two businesses and help drive traffic to them. I have an article directory that I run and will be building another just for ag articles soon to supply me with fresh content to post on these forums and blogs.

I have stopped farming here for the moment but still have it to maintain. I keep bees for a hobby some years but they require a good bit of attention, too, time to time, as do my other pets.

To get out of the house, I work some for a friend who runs a large farm doing odd jobs: working cattle, tending tobacco and row crops, building barns or fences, chopping silage, etc - just for a break from here. I take classes in ag at the county extension office, when offered, to stay current in the field and hold several state and national certifications in ag. I do these things for entertainment where other men watch football, drink beer and chase women up and down the road (although I have been known to do the last two on occasion). It all just depends on your mindset, I suppose.

And then, I write. The odd poem or short story here and there when the mood strikes me or work on my novel when I can. I have articles published all over the Web, too. I usually enter competitions and submit things for publication as well. When I am not writing, I read. I believe a writer should read at least 2/3's more than they write. It serves to encourage you as a writer when you read the rubbish and humble you when you read the really good.

Somewhere in there, I eat something or sleep.

But here's the thing: for the first 40 years of my life, I did what others wanted. For the next forty, I intend to do what I want for me. Sounds fair enough and I am the only one I have to please in the end. My happiness and contentment lies in my own hands and no one else's. It is the one part of me no one can take unless I allow them to have it.

Some people have commented that I am borderline genius and I just laugh when I remind them there is a thin line between genius and madness and I tend to lean more toward the latter. My record in the Book of Life will stand in testament to that. Genius is the gift of intelligence at birth while knowledge is earned through the blood, sweat and tears of living a life. People who call others genius most often use their own ignorance for a measuring stick. It's only an indication of how poorly they have expended their time and effort to earn the knowledge that brings about parity.

See? I told you others don't mind stealing your time, lol.


petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

Hello Mike. I can visualize your circumstances. To be on both sides of the fence can be extremely enjoyable and taxing. But you have to love what you do to keep that pace up! Continued success! Petra p.s. I couldn't believe the e-mail I received from i.freelance. Talk about "Six degrees of Separation!" Thank you for your invitation! I'm currently bidding on two screenwriting jobs as I am an agented screenwriter, although I do write whatever may come up. So, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for something there. Have a wonderful day, Mike! In the meantime, I'll be visiting Appalachian Writers regularly.

Mike said...


I was just trying to get hold of you over there. I didn't know it was gonna generate a ticket for bids. lol I couldn't find your email anywhere to just email you or I would have. I thought I was just sending a private message to you. Guess that taught me something.

I had to get one of my writers to bid on it so I can award her the ticket and get out of it gracefully.

We all blog for free here just for fun and exposure. I built this blog to showcase writers interested in Appalachia. I thought perhaps you might be interested is all, but I have to send an invite before you can get to the dashboard to post. I do hope you consider us if you have something you would like to share here; you are always welcome here.

I sure was surprised when the bids started rolling in though. It was hilarious, at least to me it was. I write for a living, too, and some of the bids they made were for the guy that fell off the turnip truck in the big city.

One for $100 per blog post. Come on guy, Stephan King ain't worth that for a blog post! I think many of our colleagues over there overrate their actual worth to the writing community to the Nth degree. I have seen their work. While adequate, it doesn't reach out and grab you; it's mediocre at best. I have to really wonder how many of the high rollers over there actually find work. I also think if they do, maybe I should quit my job and go to work for them. I would surely make more money with them than where I am.

If have a whole staff of writers at my disposal if I was looking to hire people. And they do blog posts for 10-12 bucks depending on what it is and how long it is.

I just got kind of a kick out of it. It was worth the embarrassment of the ticket fiasco to see those bids.

Mike said...

Oh! And good luck on you screen writing bids. Hope you get them.

petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

Oh, Mike, that's hysterical! What a serendipitous way to travel to ifreelance. And it sounded like quite the surreal experience. $100per blog? *laughing* You know, Mike, while I had been taking creative writing, so many individuals wanted to be great writers and thought they were. I don't profess to be Stephen King myself. But my attitude is if after reading one of my esp. lengthy pieces, and all I get is oh that is terrific, the reader is being too kind. I'd like to hear some criticisms on my weaknesses. Omg, I'm still laughing. Thank you for sharing that with me. And thank you again for the invitation. You are on my blog list and I visit often. I'll definitely contribute if I have something. Have a wonderful weekend! Petra