Friday, June 13, 2008

The inaugural post

My first blog entry . . . very exciting stuff. This will likely drag on a bit, so bear with me.

Several of my friends have personal blogs, and I always enjoy reading them, but I never wanted to create one of my own because it always felt a little too much like leaving your diary where your mom can find it. So, thought I, how about a business blog? Given that writing IS my business, I guess this makes all the sense in the world.

So what can one expect from this blog? In a nutshell, a glimpse into my world as I enter into my second year as a freelance writer and editor.

How did I come to be in this position? I've been writing for a long, long time, but up until a year ago I've had a steady 9-to-5 job so my freelancing has been strictly "on the side". I quit my last job (which I held for 6.5 years) for many reasons, but mostly because there didn't seem to be any other opportunities for advancement there. I quit without having another full-time job lined up, because after months of looking there was just nothing out there that appealed to me. Everything I found was either a similar position or a step backward. I had no desire to continue with the status quo or settle for a job at which I'd have to work up to what I had just left.

Now before you start thinking, "is this girl stupid?" please note that I did not leave my job without some sort of plan. Before turning in my notice, I hooked up with a placement company that specializes in finding project work for freelance creative types. They promised me great things--variety, flexibility, steady work--and unfortunately they didn't deliver. I rarely heard from them, and when I did it was usually because I reached out to them. Phone calls and emails to them went unanswered, the associate I was working with left the company. When they did find me projects, they were nothing like what I was looking for--sticking labels on envelopes for $10 an hour, or a 3rd shift position with a local newspaper.

I was fortunate that my former company still had a need for my services, and continued to use me on a contract basis for several months after I left. That gave me a little cushion as I set out to build my own business. I formed an LLC and got an EIN. I developed a logo, drafted a brochure, and had business cards printed. I was officially Written Expressions, LLC. Woo hoo! Surely the money would start rolling in at any minute. Oh wait, business cards and brochures don't distribute themselves. I would have to get my name out there.

Now, networking is not my strong suit. I find it difficult to pimp myself out to total strangers. But I set my discomfort aside and made some phone calls, which resulted in a small project updating the brochure for a local candy shop (had she offered me chocolate in return for services, I likely would have taken it--but fortunately for my waistline and wallet, she paid me by check). I posted an ad on Craigslist, which resulted in several hits but nothing that amounted to anything. I scanned freelance sites, but never saw anything worth pursuing. Finally, one day in November, I sent out a letter to several businesses in my community. The next day, I got a call from one of them (a marketing/communications firm) asking if I could come in for a meeting.

A few days later, portfolio in hand, I arrived at their office and immediately felt a kinship. These were my kind of people. Creative, fun, and--most importantly--excited about the possibility of working with me. Since then, we've collaborated on several projects, and I hope to continue working with them for years to come.

I've also been lucky in that several of my former coworkers have started their own businesses or gone on to work for other companies who don't have writers/marketers on staff. It's been great to continue building those relationships.

That's enough for now. Coming up in future posts . . .

  • what I'm up to now
  • the crazy stuff that goes through my head

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