The 3 Rules of Freelancing

1. Don’t procrastinate, don’t put off, don’t overlook small tasks and details. Even obvious “well, duh” ideas deserve your full and undivided attention—and usually sooner rather than later. If you don’t do them, no one else will.

2. Always go the last mile. Forget the extra mile, it’s superfluous and it’s not what you were hired for. Pretend your clients/employers/prospects are on a train and you’re laying the track in front of them, taking them to a particular station for a particular reason. If you don’t lay the track all the way to the station they paid a ticket for the result will always be the same. Kill them with delivery. Take them where they want you to take them. Nowhere else. 

3. Pursue and demand supreme clarity. In conversations, meetings, emails, phone calls, text messages. As a freelancer you’re tasked with interpreting someone else’s vision for X, Y or Z and translating it into reality. Know exactly what is wanted and desired irrespective of your own opinions and thoughts. Die on this hill. 
 

Deep Space

I've started working out of the strangest office in all the land. I still handle my own roster of clients, but one of those clients is an investment banking firm. And in that investment banking firm I work on a number of portfolio projects. Projects that run the gamut of creativity. 

The firm has set up a new office space that now houses a mix of investors, lawyers and entrepreneurs, but also myself, an illustrator, a post-production specialist, a muralist, a fashion designer and a dog named Razor. 

Yesterday I did research on a series of business blog posts, wrote five pages of tropical paradise travel copy, pitched my best off-the-top-of-my-head idea for a video commercial, and then got into a lengthy discussion on the nature of human consciousness. 

And the fridge is stocked with what has so far been an endless supply of Canadian Club. 

Early results yet, but so far so good. 

"Genius"

bukowski

"Genius might be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way." — Charles Bukowski

Considering what I do for a living, I came to Bukowski embarrassingly late in life. 

Some people in this profession read Strunk and White again and again, as a way of brushing away the plaque and keeping their writing chops clean. They must be a hoot at parties. 

I read this.

A close second is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. 

Speed and power. That's the ballgame.

If you can inject each of those into your writing—whether you're a copywriter or a corporate blogger—you're in fine shape. I struggle with this concept, because I'm a windbag. So I read this. 

Buy it, read it, love it. 

Busy, Busy, Busy

I was mentally unprepared for London. 

I've been to two major cities in my life: Vancouver and Dublin. After navigating Dublin's twisting, narrow, people-packed streets I came home and found that Vancouver felt like a small country village, or a post-plague ghost city, depleted of chaos and clutter and general busyness. 

London dragged me to the woodshed. 

I knew the numbers going in. (13 million people in the London Metropolitan Area!) 

I knew it was going to kick my ass.

Crowds exhaust me.

Even still, this is where we both unanimously decided to honeymoon. Mexico just has too much sun and beach and relaxation, you know? We're museum and history people.

"Bring out your dead!"

So I dug into Craig Taylor's Londoners before we left, as preparation. I wanted to get a taste and feel for the city prior to landing, wide-eyed and bewildered and with only a memorization of the tube map in my head. I considered it recon, intel-gathering. 

Mission: Accomplished. 

I was left with two main impressions, post-reading of the book and post-departure from the city. 1) London will spit you out. 2) London will sink its teeth into you and, for better or worse, infect you forever. 

I think I had a good time. I think I enjoyed the city. I think I want to return.

But I'm not entirely sure. 

Rocks

Quite simply, you can't get through life without at least a few of them in your corner. 

A lot of people think they're rocks, but a lot of people are wrong a lot of the time. 

If you're lucky enough to find a real rock or two, keep them close. 

Or, if you're feeling particularly savvy, you marry the shiniest one you know, like I am on Sunday. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Marketing

I was a child of the late 80's and early 90's, so for much of my youth the Turtles were my Sun, Moon, stars and sky. The original run of action figures were ubiquitous if you were male and between the ages of 4 and 10. Their popularity all stemmed from the original TV show, which I watched religiously, like so many of my friends. 

Or so I thought. 

Browsing Netflix last night I came across Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and in an instant my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles upbringing was ripped asunder.

It's a fascinating movie about the collaborative creative process as a whole, but it also outlines how the original cartoon TV series was created as a vehicle to drum up interest in the toys, which fully and completely pre-dated the cartoon series. 

This was before YouTube and social media. This was old-school television production and programming. All to boost sales of toys that hadn't been released yet. 

Content marketing is, of course, the phrase of the year. But as it revs the labidos of marketers the world over it's easy to lose sight of the fact that it did, in fact, pre-date Google Panda updates. 

Quality is king, then as now. 

Scribd. Period.

Sometime earlier in the year I took Scribd's reading app for a spin. It's often referred to as the "Netflix of books" which is more or less accurate. For 8 bucks a month you can read the entire library—something on the order of a few hundred thousand titles. 

As someone who avoids bookstores because it means saying goodbye to a solid two or three hours of my life, due to my endless browsing and flipping, this was good enough for me. 

Just as with Netflix, I've never understood the "it doesn't have X, Y and Z" complaints. Just enjoy it for what it is, and discover something you otherwise wouldn't have. 

A month or two into my test-drive I decided to shelve my subscription. It was still too rough around the edges. The interface was clumsy, the display options too meagre, and (strangely) there was no proper pagination. Small details, but reading nerds gotta reading nerd-out. 

But I desperately wanted the service to live up to itself. It was so close. So I emailed the company through it's customer service form on its website. And I laid out my nerdy demands. Then I forgot about it. I never received an email back. 

But alas! 

A month or two after this I noticed an app update on my iPad for Scribd (I'd unsubscribed, but hadn't deleted the app). 

It listed fixes and updates for (almost in order) everything I had "complained" about, everything which I'd said was needed to push the service over the edge to a slam-dunk must-have for—at the very least—myself personally. 

I've been a paying subscriber ever since. This isn't a paid endorsement. There are no affiliate links in this post. It was just worth sharing. This is life in the new world of doing digital business. 

And it's awesome. Period. 

Photo credit: Eifion

Nothing to See Here but Everything

I've changed the direction and purpose of this site several times.

It started as a dynamic online business card for potential new clients, then it rather quickly melted away into a gooey mess of grand plans for it to become a jam-packed, long-form, wildly-successful, ad-supported resource for both freelance writers and do-it-yourself small business owners. 

(When left entirely to my own devices, it would seem that I am a crazy person who hates himself to the bone.) 

At any rate, I threw all that out with the trash. I don't know what I was thinking, but what I was doing was casting too wide a net. Spreading things too thin. Don't do this. Just do what you do and do it well. Do it above and beyond. But don't attempt to do everything. 

Attempt to do everything and you will achieve [next to] nothing and have [next to] nothing to show for it. 

Do Not do This or That With Neither Cat Nor Hat

dr suess cat in the hat.jpg

How did it get so late so soon?
It's night before it's afternoon.
December is here before it's June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?

- Dr. Suess
 

Do not use the word 'flewn' under any circumstances. Even if you're Dr. Seuss. Also, don't go four months without posting on your blog. 

But especially the flewn thing.