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Monday, September 15, 2014

Please Get a clue Martha, try to be helpful

Image from www.metro.us
On this Mentoring Monday, I want to once again address Martha Stewart.  Yes that queen of all things lifestyle living and telling everyone that it is “a Good Thing”.  I have no problem learning from her.  Martha’s ideas are wonderful, and she makes some valid points on how to clean, throw a dinner party, or providing a punch or two to cut out paper shapes (to which I own two).  She has an empire that is second to none in her field.
So why is it that Martha feels threaten when a blogger or a celeb like Gwyneth Paltrow steps into her territory?  In a world with population of over 800 billion people, I am sure there is plenty of room for both Ms. Stewart and Ms. Paltrow to give us their tips on how to make the perfect peach pie (although I say that my mamma make the best one).  The only difference is one is in her early 70’s and one is in her early 40’s.
So why is it that when we are experts in something, we feel threaten by another person who has that same knowledge?  Martha went off on bloggers last year for the same reason.  She said both in the interview with Porter magazine a few days ago about Ms. Paltrow and an interview about lifestyle bloggers last year that people should not quit their day job and stick to what they do best.  She said last year that bloggers should not make their family and friends become guinea pigs when creating a new recipe, then putting it in their blogs.  “Now Martha, isn't that how you started out?” “How would you have liked it, if the late Julia Childs said that about you when you tried to make Coq Au Vin for the first time and served it to your guests?” 
Instead of finding fault with a person who just want to give helpful hints on their blog, a person like Martha Stewart should be in a mentoring mode.  If there is something that isn't right, go to that person and say something like, “congratulations on your new venture.”  “I know that people will like your insight on the
subject.”  “I have noticed a couple of things on your site, and if you do not mind me saying, these are hints on what would help your site become better in the long run.”  Once that is said, give the advice, if they give you permission to do so.  If not, move on, and do not criticize.  They will find their way.   This is how you mentor, NOT tear down.  Encourage someone who admires what you do, enough to help them along the way.
I am sure that if Ms. Stewart would have done just that for us and Ms. Paltrow, the Paparazzi and others would steer away from that line of questioning. 

My wish for you this day forward is to give helpful and healthy criticism to others and not wishing that person to keep their day job.  There is room for everyone and plenty more. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Truth About Rates and freelancing.

Oh boy, I am tackling a tough writing subject today.   The next few posts, I will attempt to tackle the subject of freelancing.  Not only am I a freelance writer, but a freelance artist and designer.  I design the following:
·         Scrapbooks-both using the commercial albums that are out there, and making mini books, journals, and folios, as well as art journals.
·         Greeting and note cards
·         Alternative items.  In case you are wondering what that is, most people call it Upcycling.  It is where you decorate something to make it a different piece to function differently or function the same.
Anyway, that is the basics of what I do, but lately, I have been feeling a little stuck.  My Etsy shop has the same old 5 items in it and I have not written for someone in about 2-3 months.   You would think that I have gobs of money in my account.  Nope, ask me later on how I cope.  If you are freelancing, sometimes it is OK to hit a dry spell, right?  Not really.  If you are a writer, a cook, or a crafter, you need to remember that you need to put food on the table.  You have bills to pay, people to entertain (for those with kids), and it would be nice to not work in your jammies every once in a while. 
So how do you earn that extra $1,000 a week, if you still have a job, or if you going at it full time, have the ability to buy at least toothpaste?   Simple, start small.  Sometimes, you have to except projects that pay low or nothing at all, and you need to build from there.  That is what I am tackling for the next few posts and the first one is on the rate you expect your clients to pay you for your services.
I saw this article in Carol Tice’s website, and it is called 113 things you can do to grow your freelance writing-now.  She covers writing, but after looking at this article, I feel that it would apply to any freelance job.   Freelancing, in case you are not familiar with the title, is just a fancy way of saying, self-employed.  You are working for yourself.  You have a time clock, but it is in your head, and you can report to work any time you feel like it.  I do not recommend it, because just like a 9-5 job, the money you earn allows you freedom to do anything you want.  Well not anything, but you get the idea.
With that being said, she gives 3 these tips on rates:
  1. Tell your clients your rates are going up.
  2. Raise your rates for new clients.
  3. Raise your rates every year in the fall, to take effect the following year.
OK, you are probably telling me, “Tricia, that is all well and good, but I am just starting out, and besides that, I am doing a project for Aunt Millie, and I really do not want to charge her.”   I thought the same way, and if you are just starting, I can see why you do not want charge a lot for work at first.  For me, it is ok to do a project for Aunt Millie, the neighbor you have been friends with for 20 years, or your church, but at some point, you cannot do every project at low-no cost.   Again, you have to eat and pay bills.  There is also nothing wrong with bartering either, just as long as it is equal to the amount of services you give a client.
Upon my own research one of the problems that freelancers have is “what is my work worth to my client?”  This means are your skills top notch to the point of charging a rate to begin with?  That is something that you have to ask yourself.   Start by listing your skills.   I will use myself as a guide:
1.       Creative in
a.       Needle crafts
b.      Candle making
c.       Scrapbooking
d.      Card making
e.      Altering items
f.        An eye for detail
g.       Music
h.      Dance
i.         Journal making
j.        Writing
2.       People skills
a.       Good listener
b.      Follows directions well
c.       Investigator
I only listed a few, but note that I did not list just the physical skills, but things that would tell a new client what they need to know about me.   So, the things that you learned in Preschool and Kindergarten do matter.
Next, check out the rates of people who do the same thing.   In the corporate world, it is called checking out the competition.  If you are new to this, you can call to ask questions on how that person charges similar services.   For example, when I started, I checked everyone in custom scrapbooking.  I looked at their websites, and made note of the basic rates.  I looked at the years of experience, comments, and if they charged by the hour or per job.   Most custom scrapbookers and card makers charge by the piece.  Most writers charge per word.  For example:  an 8.5 x 11” scrapbook could run $7.50 per page.  So a 20-page scrapbook, without the fluff (no embellishments) can run about $150 (USD).  An example of a 791 page doc (the point where I typed 791), at $.10(USD) per word, could run a client $79.10.

Last, ask yourself, can I live off charging $150 for a scrapbook and $79.10 for a document, using the same examples?   Probably not, which is a good idea not to quit your day job just yet.  Keep in mind when charging your rates that there is no such thing as an overnight sensation.  You have to build up to the reputation, and that is why Ms. Tice suggest that you change your rates every fall to go into effect by January.  So how do you quit your day job?   Well, that is the next step in this process called freelancing, and the subject of my next post.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How do you remember blog posts you want to write until you're ready to sit down at the computer? Do you have a system in place, why or why not?

(c) Disney
As a line from the song, Poor Unfortunate Souls (The Little Mermaid), goes, “The boss is on a roll”, I would have to say, yes she is, and that I am. I am on my third blog post of the night, and I am smiling.  I may not be a believer of playing catch-up, but I am doing pretty well, to say that I did not blog hardly at all in July.  (Love my birthday month)   It is bittersweet when you are the owner of 5 blogs, and I get comments from amateurs to experts saying, that I only need one, to how do you keep up with them?   This leads to today’s question about remembering what posts I want to until I sit down at my computer.  
It is funny, because I am on this computer all the time.   If I am not answering a social media question, I am writing a post.  If I am not doing that, then I am watching a video, playing a game, making orders for customers, or making or listing products for customers to buy. 
As for creating posts, I have to it right now.  I create a post on MS Word, and I tweak it.  I tweak it by doing research if it calls for it, upload the research into the post document and check grammar.   Lastly, I cut and paste it into either Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Hubpages, or BlogMutt, depending if it for myself or for others and the subject matter.  Once I am in the editing area, which is when I do photos and last minute spell and grammar check (because Google Chrome is like that)
I am now starting to keep track of blog post subjects on Outlook calendars, because I write so many, and for those who follow Google, knows how Google hates duplicate topics and posts.  Why?  Because I would be lost, and I do not want my blogs shut down by them. 
Getting back to the line from Unfortunate Souls, I find it funny that there are days when I do not want to write anything, and other days (like today), I am spitting them out like a fully automatic rifle.     Yes, the boss is on a roll, but this is my last one for the night, so, as character from “War Games” puts it….”Shall we play a game?”

So what do you think?  I would love to see your comments below.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August 20, 2014-What is the single best thing you do to keep your career goals on track….

Today, I am back to writing prompts with Blogher, because when it comes to this blog in the last couple of months, my mind draws a blank.  They say in order to get readers to tune into your blog, you have to be consistent.    Consistency is the least of my problems.   I have worst problems than that.  There are the “Nephew needs a ride to X place, because he does not have his learner’s permit, let alone a driver’s license and a car” problem.  There is the “Sister needs a ride to work and other places” problem.  She rides the bus, but barely keeps any money.   There is the sales problem, probably because I am hardly in the house to make a sale.   There are the “social media distractions, needs a new website, but not enough money to hire someone to create one for you, but how are you going to attract someone so you can build a new one, but have little knowledge of HTML” problem. (This run-on sentence was intentional for rant purposes).  Do not misquote me, for the complaint is very real and very bittersweet.  This is what happens when you are an Aunt Entrepreneur, which is the same as a Mom Entrepreneur.  The only difference is the children do not stay with you 24/7.  That is about the change come September (more bittersweet drama - cues violin) I am turning into a Mompreneur.
So where was I…Oh yes, the single best thing I do to keep my career goals on track?  As with any writing prompt, I do not know how to follow instructions. (Giggle, giggle).   Sooooo, I am going to give you two for the price of one.  You did not come here for my rants, and if you have gotten this far without going to someone else’s blog, good for you.  You get an A++ sticker (it is the first day of school in Central Ohio)
My first way to keeping track is to plan out my goals.   With Longaberger, as well as with my scrapbooking and writing, I have monthly goals, and I try to remember to write them down.  Next with those monthly goals, I check to see if they are part of my bigger goal for my career.
Next, I do an accountability check.   One day I do hope I can hit the one million dollar mark, but I am not thinking about that at all.  My ultimate goal is to see that I help someone to either become an Independent Longaberger Home consultant to start, or learn how to become a freelance scrapbook designer, card maker, or writer for either themselves or as a business.   Who knows what a person can learn.   Speaking of which, I am also constantly learning what I can do to better myself.  I want to be certified in certain subjects that has to do with organizing, crafting tools, writing, and the internet. It takes time, and if my family allows it, and I do not allow them to distract me, it can be done.  (So sorry, I gave you three, my bad, giggle)

I am 73 words over at this point, so I am going to leave you with this tip:  never stop learning something new.  You will never know if it is the pentacle of starting something great in your career. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My bout with Suicide

(c) National Suicide Center Logo
All this talk about suicide and Robin Williams made me do a little soul searching.  Everyone who knows me always see me as this bubbly person, and I have been all my life.   I think God for this amazing life, with an amazing family, and He has blessed me with so many things, including being able to sell for a great company like Longaberger and own my own company, and He has given me all this talent. 
I am here to confess that at age 22, I almost took my own life.  Yes, I was so upset that I was not in school, I did not have a job, and I was still living with my parents.  I had problems with the constant itching from Eczema, and the doctor prescribed for me Atarax (Sp?).  So one day, I was sitting in my room, on the floor, and looked at them.   I poured them all on the floor, and thought, "If I took 10, which would do the trick, my parents will never have to worry about me anymore."  God dispatch his angels to stop me, and I all of a sudden heard myself say, "What the heck am I doing?"  So I picked them, and put them back into the bottle, and never thought about taking my life again.
It only takes a second, and if you really think about all the amazing things you have in life, and if they outweigh that one bad thing, then your life is not half bad.  You are going to have some problems, because I have them now, it is called life.  I know what I thought about at age 22 was nothing compared to what Robin Williams went through.  He had all this amazing talent, but after the cancellation of his show, rehab, and whole host of things that only he and God truly knew what he was going through.  I just hope and pray that he did make peace, although it does not sound like it, because if he did, this would turned out much, much differently. 
Please, if you even for a second thought about taking your own life, like I did, please get help.  I should have, because those thoughts can easily creep on you again.  Thursday, at Longaberger's consultant's convention, there was not a dry eye, when the story of Jackie was played.   
Jackie, (I am not sure if I can reveal her last name, so for privacy, I have deleted it) had gone through so much.  First, she had a stroke, then her husband left her because of the stroke.  Next, her sister, her only sibling died.  My guess was that her parents were already deceased, they were not mentioned in the video.  Her son, who had been serving in the Navy in Texas, had come home from a tour.  While he was at home, he showered his mom so much, Jackie never knew the pain he was harboring inside.   He even told his mom, that his dad was not worth keeping and for Jackie to not go after him.  Her son spent 9 months at home, and one day, Jackie found him in his room, and he had taken his own life.   She knew why.   After the funeral, she mentioned that she did not want to live at that point, and went into a bout of despair.  She said that if it wasn't for her team, her faith, God, and Longaberger, she would not be here today.
I wish that Mr. Williams could have heard this, and say that despite my problems, I am so glad that I am still here, and that this too shall pass.  That is what I always tell myself before thinking the worst.
If you know someone, who may decide to take their own life, the National Suicide center suggest you to look for these signs:
  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.
There is a hotline for you to call, and that number is 1-800-273-8255

I hope that this will bring you some comfort, and if you are contemplating taking your life, please get the help you need.  Your life is much more precious then you will ever know, and so much more.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Correction is a big deal to me…..5 ways to improve your writing.

(c) Wikihow.com
I am filling an application to write for BlogHer.   Blogher (or BlogHer) is a blogging site for women, but it is much more than just writing about how to improving your blogging skills, it is women writing about topics.  OK, no big deal, but it is a big deal to me.  I am trying to increase my readership and ranking on all my blogs.  It is also a big deal to me, because I know the style they are looking for, because I have been a member for over 5 years.  
I first applied for the position about 2-3 years ago with a different blog.  I still have the blog (P.Lynne Designs), which is about my scrapbook and card designs, but I was turned down.  I never gave it a second thought on why I was turned down until now.  I am submitting this blog, because I feel that it more of Blogher’s style, but more important, I have a variety of topics on it.  Before I can submit it, I wanted to give them a reason to accept this blog, so I went over the past few posts I currently have on the blog, and I am mortified.  I am finding missing words in sentences and I found myself singing Weird Al Yankovic’s Word Crimes song.   This is also a pet peeve of mine, so that makes me really upset, until I had to write this post for all to see.
You do not have to write a blog post to see the error of your ways.  I have seen whole tweets, grocery lists, even notes to a boss with these errors, and I have to wonder what the next generation has in store for them, as they fill out applications for employment, write business reports, or even give instructions to the babysitter.  They want to text, and I know, Twitter started it with their (not there) 140 character count, but why should I care about how you write.  Check these out:
1)      I thought Ebonics was dead.  Yes I said, I mean it, and now I am…oh never mind.   The point is grammar is very important.  It does not matter if you speak English, Spanish, Chinese, or Klingon, learning how to form a proper sentence will get you far in life, because no one understands your quirkiness like you and a few of your friends.  With employers looking at everything you do, you have to watch the way you talk to (TAKE THOSE SELFIES DOWN THEY LOOK TACKY TO AN EMPLOYER!!!!!)  I am sorry, but technology can be mean.
2)      Watch your words.  Know the difference between their, there, and they’re.  Also two, 2, too, and to.   Equally important is you, your, and you’re. 
3)      Did you catch the mistake? I said “is” instead of “are” (not r) in the last sentence.  Know the difference between the two.
4)      It is ok to make one or two mistakes and live with it.  Um, no it is not.  (Humm, double negative, got to fix it.) You really need to proof-read your stuff, before it goes out towards cyber-space.  If you do not towards monetize your blog in the future, that is fine.  If you are not looking for employment, that’s fine too.  But, if you want readership, get a job, and all the good stuff that comes with having proper grammar structure, you need to brush up on your grammar.
5)      Do not depend on the following:  Spellcheck, grammar check, or any computerized checking tool.   They are good for basics (and you should really know how to spell anyway), but if it is not a common word, expect the red Line (blue line for grammar in MS Word), double check proper names (nothings worse than misspelling someone’s name), and proofread for flow.

6)      Bonus:  I do not want to c (see) this:   r u reddy 2 lern hw 2 spell?  The proper way is: Are you ready to learn how to spell?  Business people are not your buddy, they are not you pal, your homie, or anything like that.  They are ready to see what you can offer them, and they like what they see, when they see it.  Give them a reason to see you shine.

P.S.  By the way, I decided to wait a few months to apply.   One of the requirements are posting at least once a week, which I have been slacking.  I will wait until I start doing that again.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Why can’t I just enjoy food anymore?

(c) www.whats4eats.com
A few minutes ago, I was going through my email, when I ran into a coupon offer from an eating place that I have never tried.  It was for a Lobster salad sandwich.   I love lobster.  In fact I love all kinds of seafood. (Can you tell I am not allergic to shellfish?)  In Ohio, it is rare to get any type of seafood, anywhere, unless it comes from Red Lobster, The Columbus Fish Market (I highly recommend it-but expensive) or is breaded (a la Long John Silvers or Captain D’s), so I thought I might stop in today on my way home from a meeting.  After all, it has a coupon attached to the offer.
Like most emails with a coupon attached to it, you have to click in to get to the coupon that contains the reward (which is to print the coupon), so I click on the button.   Once inside the website, I was not greeted with coupon I can print.  Oh no, that’s too easy.  I was greeted with a “Pavlov-like” greeting…”Did you know that the sandwich you are craving to eat is 440 calories?”  It seemed to say.  I was upset that I was greeted with that fact finding tool, that the government seems to demand on eating places these days, but more important, no coupon.
I just realize that people cannot enjoy food no more.  Gone are the days, where we can just go out to eat, and not worry about how much fat and calories we are piling in our bodies.  Since when did the government get so concerned about how much food we consume?  I am not worried about the amount of calories I consume, I am worried about how big of a portion size we are consuming.  I am sure that this one little sandwich is most likely going to have more lobster meat on it than the average sandwich, but what is average anymore?
I heard that my meat portion size should be that of a deck of cards (3 oz.), and that is not all.   A medium baked potato should be about the size of a computer mouse.  A half cup of rice should be able to fill a cupcake wrapper.  One ounce of cheese should be the size of four dice.  And finally, they say that sandwich meat should be the size of a standard slice of wheat bread.   That still does not answer the question on how big the lobster sandwich should be. 
OK what is really in that sandwich?
The other thing that you have to worry about these days, is what is actually in a dish.   There are groups out here who actually gone to “picket line “methods to protest chemicals, such as GMO, BHA, and that chemical that has been reported in Chinese food (I cannot think of the name right now).  I am not here to warn you about these groups, because they actually have some good, legitimate points that makes congress, FDA, and food companies think, but now, I have to police everything that I eat both inside and outside of my own home.  No wonder everything is so expensive from food in the grocery store to a simply meal at Wendy’s.   Remember the McDonald’s scare of 2011?  I refuse to eat a hamburger from there now, because of the fluff. 
So what to do….

Do I still want the lobster sandwich? Yes.  Nothing’s wrong with it except it is high in calories.  Am I cautious of what I eat?  Yes, but you have to weigh out what you think is good for your body.  My doctor says everything in moderation, and that is one the best advice she could give me.  So it is settled.  I am getting the sandwich, but it will be a while before I get another one.