Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Weekend Dilemma

Are you working for the weekend?
Photo by phanlop88

I can never decide whether weekends are good for working or if I should try to stick to the five-day work week and give myself some time off.  During the week, I see the weekends as a pool of available hours that can be used to catch up on projects.  Those weekend hours look especially appealing to me on days like to today when I have to help out in my daughter's preschool, take my son to an occupational therapy appointment in Seattle (which winds up being about a four-hour round trip), and there's a sink full of dirty dishes waiting for me too (note: this post was actually started on Monday morning and finished on Wednesday, which is probably indicative of the problem!).

But then the weekend comes, and the last thing I want to do is actually sit down and work.  I got some stuff done this weekend.  I got some reference information to the magazine publisher who needed it for some statistics I quoted in an article, and I have the newsletter almost completely done for the preschool (just waiting on some photos... if they don't get the info to me by today, I'm publishing it anyway though).  Unfortunately, I only got about two hours of real pay-the-bills work in throughout the entire weekend though.

The excuses are, of course, numerous:

  • I need to catch up on housework.
  • I want a break from the hectic week.
  • I want to spend time with the family.
  • I want to catch up on my reading.
  • We rented a movie that I really want to see.
And so on and so forth.

The problem is that if I don't dedicate at least part of my weekend to work, I feel like a total slacker. Part of this is because of days like today when I know I'm only going to log two or three hours of work at most (I'm going to take my netbook to the appointment though and hopefully sneak at least another half hour in).  The other part is that I feel a strong commitment to my clients, and when deadlines are tight, the time has to come from somewhere, and I'd rather not stay up until two in the morning trying to get the work done.  

Another option is to plan to work the weekend and make other days throughout the week my days off.  While making Monday my day off sounds ideal, I think it's not very practical and could make clients not-so-happy, since that's the beginning of the work week for so many people.

Decisions, decisions...

Do you work on weekends or do you declare them hands off?  

Monday, October 1, 2012

Long Overdue Update

I'm always kind of astonished that I get paid for this.
Photo by Michal Marcol

I have a terrible confession:  I've been letting this blog languish while I've been off playing with the other kids.  Poor blog. I know how that feels.  I'll try to do better.

I wanted to post an update on my writing world.  I can't help but laugh when I look at my initial goals from "back in the day."  I also can't believe that "back in the day" was really only about a year and a half ago!  Lots of changes since then...

I'm very pleased to report that all my scraping and clawing and writing anywhere I could has really started to pay off.  I just got picked up as a contract copywriter by a company that designs websites for medical professionals. They have a stable full of clients who need content for their websites, and I can work as many hours as I want in a week.  Granted, like all freelance work, the hours aren't guaranteed to always be this steady.  Slowdowns are kind of inevitable in this business.  But so far, things are looking great.  I just turned in my first time sheet, and I made more this week than I typically make in a month!

I've had a lot of questions since posting about my good fortune on Facebook, mostly wanting to know how I found the job and how I started from nothing and pulled myself up. Here are my typical answers:

  • I signed up for every freelance job board I could find.  I learned quickly which ones were worth my time and focused my efforts on those.  
  • I applied for every writing and editing job I could find that I thought I might be even remotely qualified.  
  • I realized that I had an incredibly useful niche -- I am a healthcare content writer.  There's a huge market for this, and it's an area where I have plenty of knowledge.  
  • While I started out writing for any site that would publish my work, I figured out which sites were more "reputable" in the freelance world and stuck with those.
  • I viewed every piece I wrote as a stepping stone to my next job/prospect.  I didn't try to scale the ladder my first time out; instead, I took it one rung at a time with the goal being to get to the next rung on my next project.
  • I asked for feedback on my work so that I can improve.
  • I followed the blogs of other freelance writers and read what was working and what wasn't working for them
  • I read book written by freelancers, especially those who specialized in copywriting, which was quickly becoming my niche.
  • I was willing to try everything to see what I liked and what worked and where I was most successful.
  • I write.  Constantly.  Every single thing that I write, whether it's an email, a Facebook post, a blog post, or an article for a client, allows my to subtly improve. When I compare my writing from last year to my writing this year, the difference is remarkable.  I want to say the same thing next year, too.