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Posts Tagged ‘freelance’

According to my calculations, (yes, I know how to do calculations thanks to my iPhone’s calculator function) September 2009 will be the month that I make more money than I ever did during any month working for The Man(s). For the first time since my untimely departure from a Richmond meat factory media conglomerate in April, I’ll be pulling in grown-up wages with grown-up decimal points and grown-up commas. Okay, just one comma. But still – there’s a comma in there and I likey.

I’ve packaged my skills into a nice little writing/blogging/communication machine and I couldn’t be happier with the work I’ve been doing or the connections I’ve made. Next stop: business license. At some point, I’ll need to make it legit. Who wants some of this? Come get it.

I had a chat last week with someone who is quickly turning into my business mentor (whether she accepts that role or not) about turning unemployment into a business. Selling yourself. Being the business. Doing what you love and putting yourself to work, despite not having a ‘traditional’ job. Following your heart and being happy. It’s real, folks. People do it all the time – sometime’s they’re forced into it because of unemployment (like me). Some people need a push. Some people will never be able to truly pursue happiness because they can’t grow a pair and put forth the effort. I’m happy things turned out the way they did for me. It’s still very much a work in progress, but I think I’m on the right track. The rough thing about freelance writing is that the work can always stop coming in. The good thing, however, is that there is always more work to be found.

I spent all of last week working diligently on articles, videos and blogs. I researched, edited, rendered, and created. I did it all from the comfort of my office, sporting gym shorts and scruffy facial hair. I hung out with some of my favorite Richmond bloggers, including 1/2 of this team and this crazy lady on Thursday. The Wife took me out for a delayed birthday dinner at a fancy-schmancy restaurant on Saturday. I worked malljob for a few hours here and there. I went grocery shopping at bought real honest-to-goodness food that doesn’t come prepackaged or in a box with a smiling glove on the front. I hung out with friends and watched football all day yesterday and reveled in a Buffalo Bills victory. I’m keeping extremely busy. If by ‘busy’, you include the time I spend wrapping tin-foil around the cat’s paws then throwing pieces of ham at him while he’s temporarily immobilized.

Tell you what – that cat doesn’t like to be wrapped in aluminum foil. The dog thought it was hilarious, though. Until I covered him in bedsheets and hit him with couch pillows. Now both him and the cat are holding secret meetings in the basement. I think they’re trying to booby-trap the staircase with trip wire and flying paint cans, Home Alone-style. You know how kids get really frustrated with something that they can’t do and start shaking and crying and punching the air? Hey guys, let me know when you grow some opposable thumbs and learn to tie an overhand knot.

I spend a nice portion of my day playing Rambo with those two. God help me when I have children. It’s gonna be like the Saw movies up in here.

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I turned 31 yesterday. Not exactly a milestone birthday like 16, 21 or 30. I spent it writing articles, slinging long-sleeved t-shirts and v-neck sweaters and watching my Bills lose a heartbreaker to the Patriots on Monday Night Football. Just take a knee, Leodis. Take a knee. Why couldn’t you have taken a knee?

Anyway, I could depress myself for the rest of the week thinking about how Buffalo came oh-so-close to beating Captain PrettyBoy Brady and the rest of his turd-tastic team. But as a 31 year-old adult, I’m going to forget about it and concentrate on the things in my life that have actual importance, meaning and relevance. Like the upcoming NHL hockey season.

Wifey bought me some much-needed items of clothing as a birthday present, as well as a much-needed pizza. It’s kind of a tradition that I eat Pizza Hut pizza on my birthday. I’ve done it it every year since I was a kid, and the pizza seems to taste worse and get more expensive every year. Seriously? 20 bones for a large supreme? And it tastes like warm ass and rubber tires? We should’ve spent $5 on a Red Baron or at least got one from a local pizzeria. Back in my day, pizza tasted like tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese and fresh dough. Now it tastes like pennies and sweat and plastic. “Back in my day.” I can say that now because I’m 31 and I used to have a day way back in the day, back in my day.

Also, what happened to KFC? Another one that used to be good way back in the day. Now I can’t even drive by one without wanting to dig up the Colonel and shove the atrocity they call “mashed potatoes” into his dead, zombie mouth.

The malljob is starting to become more of a hassle than it was a few months ago. I’m at the point in my freelancing where I can’t justify driving 30 minutes each way to a 4-hour shift at a job that pays slightly more than minimum wage. In all honestly, I need those 5 hours to be writing and making real money. I initially got the job as a time-waster – something to get me out of the house and keep me busy for an afternoon. I don’t mind working the malljob one or two days a week because I get a pretty nifty discount on lesbian hiking gear. But they recently had two people quit to pursue better opportunities, leaving us part-timers to pick up the slack. Not a big deal if you want or need the hours. But I don’t. I’m happy working a couple times a week. I’m not complaining, because I’m all about making extra money. However, I can make more extra money by doing additional freelance writing, not from folding t-shirts. I think I’m just about ready to quit malljob altogether and concentrate on the freelancing. Then again, maybe I should wait until I absolutely have enough clients to make that a reality. It’s in the pipeline. We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, I’m going to fire up Word and start another article. I might heat up a slice of leftover cancerpie. I mean Pizza Hut pizza. Then I’m going to have some leftover birthday cake. Then I’m going to find Ronald McDonald and force him to make out with the zombie Taco Bell dog. Then I’ll go to the doctor and he’ll tell me to stop eating like a 9 year-old because I’m 31 and there is something called “cholesterol” that has already begun to kill me.

Hockey starts in 2 weeks.

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Me: [Sleeping] Zzz… Zzz… Zzz...

Dog: [Resting his head on the bed mere inches from my slumbering face] Siiiiigggghhhhh.

Me: Zzz… Zzz…

Cat: [Jumps up on the bed, then on top of me and walks the entire length of my body, from toe to head and begins to nibble on my nose].

Me: Zzz… Zzz… ZzOUCH! [Opening my eyes, all I can see is orange and brown fur and feel something cold and wet inside my mouth. It’s the dog’s nose]. DAAAAMMMMMMMM IITTTTTTTTTT!

[Dog and Cat high-five each other and bolt out of my bedroom]

Me: [mumbling] …wake me up… nose in my mouth… stupid cat face… dog ass all up in my business… trying get some sleep… stupid jerk animals…

I gruffly throw the covers aside and sit up. Rubbing my eyes, I turn my head over my right shoulder to check the clock.

Neck: *CRRRRRIIIICCCKK*

Wincing in pain and unable to return my head to forward-facing position, I hear the muffled giggles of Dog and Cat from the hallway outside my bedroom. It’s 8:32 AM.

I throw on a smokey t-shirt from last night. I pee. I make coffee. I open the back door and step out of the way of the stampeding dog and cat who cautiously, excitedly dart past me like children afraid of being spanked and with you-can’t-catch-me giggles. Jerks.

I drink my coffee from my favorite Buffalo Sabres mug and stare out the back window as I try to massage my neck with my free hand. I watch my pets chew on sticks, pee on bushes and rambunctiously chase each other around the yard trying to bite the other’s tail.

I think about last night and how grateful I am to live in a city where our online community backs up the internet chitchat and holds informative and fun social networking events. The Richmond chapter of Social Media Club had another great turnout. The topic of using social media in your local business’s marketing strategy was something that, I think, a lot of attendees found very informative. Of course, the real fun took place afterwards at Mekong Restaurant, where we enjoyed delicious (and complimentary – thanks, An) Belgian beers and Vietnamese food. I was talking with a fellow freelancer and newcomer to the SMCRVA-scene about how our online community has grown into an actual professional and social network that can generate real business for people like us. Writers talk to marketers. Marketers talk to business owners. Business owners talk to the web developers. It’s not only a great vehicle for shameless self-promotion, but also the perfect place to find collaborative partners with similar interests.

The professional side of networking eventually gave way to the hash brown side of networking when some of us rolled up to the Waffle House. Of course, HashBrownNetworking always gives way to EmbassySuitesNetworking, which is the perfect and most ridiculously awesome way to cap off the night. The gossip flies and the wine flows like wine. Or like beer. No, the beer flows like wine. Whatever. I think we need to have a week-long convention. Vegas, anyone?

But where was I? Ah, yes. Stupid Dog and Cat are now pawing at the door.

Me: No, sorry. I don’t want whatever you’re selling.

Dog: Let us in!

Me: What? No, sorry. I’m not interested.

Cat: Not funny!

Me: No, thank you. I don’t want any.

Dog: C’MON!

Cat: I’m hungry!

Me: Sorry. Can’t hear you. Please get off my property.

[Now we’re just staring at each other through the window]

Me: Okay. Bye.

I walk away and pour myself more coffee. I’m thinking about the articles I need to start writing. I’m thinking about how much I enjoy my life right now. Still broke, still *technically* unemployed, but really feel as if I’m on the right track, career-wise.

This is Day 142, folks. Muffled barks and meows coming from the back door.

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A quick check of my dashboard weather app shows the current temperature at 98º, with a high expected of 103º sometime within the next couple of hours. While a few 100º days are to be expected in a typical Richmond summer, they are still too much for this native Buffalonian to handle without an frosty beverage and a portable kiddie pool filled with ice water.

The humidity can bite me. There. I said it. Bite me, humidity. I like to swim, but I don’t like to have the sensation of just exiting a lukewarm pool without ever having entered one. I can’t even get the mail without feeling like the angels are drooling on me with their hot and sticky saliva. I feel like I’m in an invisible giant’s crock pot, slow roastin’ and marinating like some sort of human meat stew. Mmmm. Smells like dinner, Ma!

It’s days like these when I really thank the Gods of Modern Technology for blessing us with sweet, sweet air conditioning. I have so much respect for those of you who have outdoor jobs. I don’t know how you do it, even with the promise of a paycheck. Heck, I’m unemployed right now and if someone offered me an honest day’s pay to nail some shingles to a roof, I’d think twice. If you’re a roofer or a road construction person or one of those sign-twirlers outside the Little Caesars advertising a $5.55 pizza, I salute you. I salute you with a tip of my hat and a raise of this ice-cold Tropical Smoothie.

DISCLAIMER: That being said, I WOULD take an outdoor job, even in this heat. Hey, I need the money and am willing to work hard for it. But I would totally not be happy about it. I might even cry a little bit. Hey – I know the value of hard work. I’m just trying to make the point that it’s frickin’ hot out there with a little bit of humor. So calm down all you people who are about to comment and say that I’m lazy. Because I would dig a ditch or twirl a sign if it meant putting a roast in the crock pot.

So anyway – a little bit of news from the freelance front: I am now a legitimate blogger, as evidenced by my posts on RichmondInsideOut. Click on ‘Blog’ and read about my adventures as I tour Richmond and promote the region’s historic awesomeness. If you’re around on August 27th, I personally invite you to come on out to the RIO party from 5-7pm at Easy Street. The first 100 registrants get a couple of free drinks and are allowed to shake my hand. But you’re not allowed to look me in the eye. Ever. Oh, just kidding. You can look all you want. You can register here.

DISCLAIMER #2 – I spelled ‘cemetery’ wrong in the Segway post. As much as I don’t want to call attention to it, I feel like I need to inform you that I’m normally a pretty good speller. So don’t hold a little misspelling against me. I probably have more spelling and grammatical errors that I’m unaware of, but don’t tell me about them because I’ll get really down on myself and finish a whole gallon of mint-chocolate chip ice cream. So please be aware that I KNOW I spelled it wrong and feel bad about it. Thank you and good day.

Gearing up for an interview on Wednesday afternoon. This one kind of took me by surprise, since I don’t remember applying to this company. And I really don’t have any clue on what position this company is looking to fill. Guess I’ll have to be prepared to talk about my writing or my design or my TV production skills and bring examples of each. Sound a little sketchy? Maybe. But I won’t know until go find out. Couldn’t hurt, right?

As for the Charlotte job, I’m still waiting to hear something. I can’t even begin to tell you how I’ve permanently disfigured my fingers by crossing them. And it’s hotter in Richmond today than it is in Charlotte. So Charlotte is winning the battle of places that I should live because I don’t want to die a slow-cooked death. I mean, really – the neighborhood pool smells like a delicious ham stew.

This is Day 117, folks. Hottest day of the year. Check out the RIO blog. Don’t hold spelling errors against me. Mystery interview coming up. Charlotte on my mind.

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I have lived in the great city of Richmond for nine years. In the last 100 days, I have met more people and made more professional and social connections than I have in the all the years past. This is all due to my unemployment, and mostly because of this blog and social networking functions like SMCRVA.

In this blog post, I’m going to give you some healthy advice on how to successfully kick unemployment’s ass and get through the tough times like when all your friends are going out to eat but you can’t go because you need the extra money to pay for the internet access so you can send out more résumés. Basically, I’m going to recap the last 100 days of my life. Here we go:

I was shaking when I came home mid-shift from work that day. It was a Wednesday. I had been working nights, so I told my wife I just wanted to watch Lost (best show EVAR) and we’d talk about it afterwards. I may have been in a state of shock because it was totally unexpected and I had not anticipated having such a conversation with my supervisor. When the show was over, we turned off the TV and talked. There were tears. Not on my end. Money was already tight and we were barely squeaking by with a steady paycheck. Our minds immediately went into worst-case scenario mode. I swear, we almost starting packing that night because we just couldn’t see ourselves making rent. Anyway – we decided then and there to put our personal plans on hold and focus on me landing a job and her becoming a teacher.

The first couple of weeks were spent glued to the computer, updating my résumé and sending it out to any company that would accept it. I heard nothing for a long time. I started writing this blog on Thursday morning, on Day 1 of my unemployment. I gained a few readers right off the bat, probably because of the facebook and twitter updates linking to the posts. These readers were mostly local and through them I was electronically introduced to even more local people, who became twitter followers and linkedin connections. My professional network had started to grow, even though I didn’t have a profession to network.

Going to face-to-face networking events and “tweetups” (yeah, I hate that word, too), gave me the opportunity to hand out some self-made business cards promoting my writing/blogging/marketing/designing/whateverelseIcando. I got a gig writing some articles on a freelance basis for an SEO company, which in turn, gave me the writing samples I needed so I could send them out to other companies looking to hire freelance writers. Still, the money gained from the freelance writing is not even coming close to what I was pulling down at my former job. But it’s keeping me busy and gives me a reason to wake up and accomplish a goal – knocking out an article (or two) by noon.

I also scored a part time job at the mall through a former coworker who works weekends at the retail establishment for the extra scratch and the discount on cargo shorts. The job is easy, but it is paying about the same as what I was making at Subway in college. So far, I’ve probably made negative $234 dollars, because of the gas it burns for me to get there and the money I had to spend on clothes to wear while working.

Let’s not forget the wife in all of this. My wife is the hardest working and most driven woman I have ever met. She has never turned down an opportunity to make $3 or $300. She wakes up at 6am and sometimes won’t return home until after midnight. All in the name of paying a car payment or being able to buy us a can of soup. I cannot even begin to explain the guilt I feel for the fact that she is constantly working. Baby sitting, running a day camp, slingin’ brunch & bloody marys – she does it all. I can’t wait for her to get placed in a great school so she can concentrate on being a teacher. She’s going to rock the fingerpaints and macaroni art like a modern-day Frida Kahlo. Except without the whole unibrow thing.

So we’ve endured the past 100 days. We’re surviving. I haven’t stopped sending out résumés, and I’ve gained a little more freelance work. I’m still networking like a champ, professionally and socially. It’s because of the social networking that I have the freelance jobs and one of the two interviews I had yesterday. I have a follow up interview this afternoon. I have another interview on Monday. I will give more details later, but two of those three interviews are for jobs that are not in Richmond. One of them (the follow up) is actually quite far from Richmond. Doesn’t hurt to feel them out and see what they can offer, right? Right.

So how does one survive 100 days of unemployment? By treating every day like your job is to find a job. By meeting the right people who can put you in touch with companies that may need your assistance – even for a small side job. By reluctantly but gratefully accepting the charity of your family. By resigning yourself to doing any work that is thrown your way, including part-time retail malljobs. By eating Ramen and sacrificing the beer. By focusing every day on the type of work you WANT to do and actually doing it either for fun or for minimal profit – just to keep you sharp for when that sweet job comes a’courtin’. And it will.

This is Day 100, folks. Still spend a good portion of my day clicking through the job boards. Managing life on a strict budget. Making great connections. Hopefully taking the necessary steps to ensure this blog doesn’t reach a 200 Days edition.

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I’ve had the past few days off from MallJob, which has enabled me to get some freelance writing done. I have managed to wake up early every morning, getting a majority of my work done by 11am. The rest of my day is spent barraging businesses with résumés and doing the dishes that Wifey leaves in the sink as a test to see if I will actually get something done because, hey, I’m home all day and the least I could do is put a load of laundry in the damn washer because she’s at work and what do I do all day, anyway? Play on the computer? Talk to my stupid tweeter-friends? How ’bout vacuum? Can I handle that? No? Because one of us is working from sunup to midnight, and it sure-as-hell ain’t me.

She’s right, though. I don’t disagree or argue. I feel like a lazy bum in moments such as right now, when she’s at her second job of the day and I’m pecking away at a post and trying to snatch up as much freelance work as I can possibly get my widdle hands on. Honestly, if you’ve read the last few blog posts, things are starting to pick up, at least writing-wise. So it’s not like I’m just sitting on my butt staring at the computer all day. Well, that is precisely what I’m doing, but I’m actually getting paid for it now.

Working at home, freelancing – whatever you want to call it – is great. I feel more focused and energized than I ever have compared to when I was keeping a strict, regimented schedule in a corporate setting. My professional career has always been of the creative persuasion, but I feel infinitely more creative now. This is probably due to the fact that I get to choose the moments when I express that creativity. I do my best work in the early part of the day, and honestly, in short bursts. Most writers, designers or others in the creative field will tell you that intense, focused 20-minute bursts of innovative energy can produce amazing results. Follow that with a cup of coffee, a short jam session on the bass, or pumping some great music into your head for a few minutes and you’re refueled and ready for another burst of inventiveness.

I usually slow down after lunch. This is the time when I run errands or do some housework or get on the Twitter and gossip. I send more résumés, I throw up a blog post, I jot down some ideas. Sometimes, if I have time, I knock out another article. By the time 6pm rolls around, and assuming Wifey is going to be home, dinner is at least planned out and ready to be made.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoy eating dinner with my wife. It’s something that we have never really been able to do, either because of my crazy work schedule or hers. And even now, she isn’t home some evenings because of her 48 jobs. So, for me, it’s still a big deal when we can sit down and have a meal together.

After dinner is dog-walkin’ time. Well, mostly TV time, but it’s summer and it’s prime dog-walkin’ weather around 8pm. But my dog is jerk and he totally ruins the whole experience of walking through the neighborhood with his stopping to pee on every mailbox, tree and bush. By the time we get back, I’m ready to veg out and do some more gossiping and job hunting. I also use this time to catch up on some of my favorite blogs and read whatever book I’m forcing myself to get through at the moment. I’m up late, usually until Conan is over and that turd Jimmy Fallon starts. Hearing his voice is my cue to go to bed before his monologue lulls me to sleep in my recliner.

So there you have it. This routine has been working for me, at least when I’m not malljobbin’. I am actively looking for more freelance work, so hit me up if you need something written or blogged about or promoted or marketed or tested or eaten. And, of course, I’m REALLY actively looking for a regular, full-time job. So you should probably hire me. I can increase your company’s coolness factor by 135%.

This is Day 92, folks. Feeling good about my routine, but I need more work. Really. I need a lot more work. Or just a regular job. Better go clean up the kitchen before mamma gets home.

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One of us has an interview on Monday. It’s not me. It’s Wifey!

Yup, she has an interview at a school here in the Richmond area for teaching either kindergarten or 1st grade. This is big news because Virginia schools are supposedly *not* hiring teachers right now due to the craptastic economy and budget cuts and lack of funds and because they hate children and discourage “fancy book-learnin'”.

She was the darling of the school where she did her student teaching last fall, so I think the connections she made during that time are finally starting to pay off. The school where she would be teaching isn’t located in the nicest of areas, though. Let’s just say it’s off of a street known for being a great place to score meth and its bountifulness of street-walkin’ ladies o’ the night. But she’s got to start somewhere, right? And really, in this economy, we’ll take what we can get with a big, toothy grin and a exuberant “YESSIREE!”. It’s not like a kindergartner is gonna shoot her over a crack-deal-gone-bad. If anything, she’ll probably get a good deal because kindergartners haven’t yet developed a knack for price negotiation. Ah, the moldable mind of a child.

As for me, I’ve got a couple of freelance jobbys in the works. I’ve been writing articles almost every day and have recently been offered a gig doing some blog posts and social media updates for a really cool organization. I’m really excited about working with them and can’t wait to get started. I think it’s going to be fun to do and, hopefully, get my name some exposure and recognition so I can get even more freelance jobs. Details on that job coming soon, so stay tuned.

Still toiling away at MallJob, Inc., selling cargo shorts, polos and skorts. Sure, it’s a silly, low-paying gig, but is it wrong to actually enjoy it? I mean, it’s not rocket science. Someone walks in and says they need a t-shirt. I show them a t-shirt. They buy the t-shirt. The end. It is the least stressful job I have ever had. Then again, I’ve always worked in news, which is nothing but urgency and stress and BREAKING NEWS and NOW and JUST GET IT ON THE AIR and OHMYGODIT’SSNOWINGWE’REALLGONNADIE.

Yeah, the no-money thing really sucks, but I feel like I’m going in the right direction – towards whatever it is that I’m meant to do. Professionally, this is the happiest I’ve been in years. You can tell how happy I am by looking at my waistline. Fat = happy. Also, Cheetos and pizza rolls are wwwaaayyy less expensive than vegetables. I ♥ pizza rolls.

This is Day 87, folks. Really? Has it really been 87 days since my split with my former employer? I may have lost count. And honestly, I no longer care how many days it’s been. At some point, I’m going to stop defining myself by my unemployment and focus on whatever it is that puts a smile on my face and more pizza rolls on the table.

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