Noisli: My Favorite New Workspace App

imagesWhat is it about a coffee shop that makes it so much easier for me to focus on freelancing? Why can’t I get that level of concentration when I’m sitting in my home office with an unlimited amount of music at my fingertips?

I don’t know the science behind it, but I was able to bring the effect home recently after discovering Noisli. While writing a blog about the best apps to improve your productivity, I happened across Noisli, which provides you with a bevy of options of white noise to play on your device of choice. Sounds of rain, the ocean, my coffee shop, and about two dozen other choices are available on the free version.

I went with the coffee shop, as that’s one of my favorite places to hone in on article writing or any ind of editing. The effect was instantaneous, almost shockingly so. It was even better than Starbuck’s, which sometimes pipes eclectic music a bit too loud for my tastes. My computer began piping out the low buzz of conversation, cups clinking, drinks being made, and the occasional open-and-close of a door.

I focused in on almost immediately, with the only reminder that it was artificial noise a rather loud female laugh that pops up about every hour or so. The rest of the time, I was like a laser-beam, focused, on task, and most of all, really efficient and creative, which is kind of the point, right?

It’s not for everyday use, I’ve found, although I tend to trend towards non-vocal music when I’m working. The lone exception is my entire family’s current fixation with the soundtrack from “The Greatest Showman,” but otherwise it’s a steady diet of Noisli, Star Wars soundtracks – “Rogue One” and “The Last Jedi” are both getting heavy rotations, as well as some of Spotify’s custom “reading/studying” playlists.

If you can’t get focused at home, whether because your beagle is snoring too loud, the neighbor keeps using the weed eater, or the refrigerator won’t stop calling your name, give Noisii a try. This blog is not affiliated in anyway with Noisli, but if someone from Noisli is reading this and wants me to be their WordPress shill, just let me know I’m all about that passive income stream.

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Is It Time to Stop Caring About Tiger Woods?

0618-tigerWriting for golfblogger.uk in the past 2-1/2 years has allowed me a lot of freedom to follow the trends of the PGA and European Tours and gain a lot of insight into the game’s past, present, and future.

That means a lot of scrutiny of Tiger Woods, who has crashed and burned, regained top form, and been ravaged by injury in the past few years.

This week is the Quicken Loans National, a Woods’ hosted event, with the man with the 14 Majors seeking to win a tournament for the first time in just shy of two years. Despite his slump, he remains constantly in the headlines and on television, as other, worthier players are relegated to less air time despite winning more and more often.

That leads me to ponder the question in my blog today, is it time to stop caring about Tiger Woods?

It’s a Bird, it’s a Plane, it’s a Trusty Sidekick!

TSK flyer_WhoAreWe_USletter_v2-1My absolute favorite project to date for 2015 went live this morning, allowing me to brag about it on my blog finally. Back in late May I was contacted by Jen, a consultant with international experience who had decided to go it on her own and needed a copywriter for her new website, with quite frankly the best name ever – Trusty Sidekick.com

With our common admiration of all things superhero, we had several excellent collaborative discussions on Skype and via email, and I got to do all the copywriting for a super (pun intended) project, writing all of her one-pagers (mini case studies) and the rest.

Her format was so cool that it inspired me to start producing my own one-pagers, which are far less visually spectacular, but hopefully give TME clients and potential clients a little more insight into what I can do.

Best of luck, Jen!

 

Freelancing 101: Dealing With Jerks

We deal with all sorts of people as freelancers – quirky, kind, generous, thoughtful, ambitious, overzealous, naive, impressive; the list of types is as long as the list of adjectives in the dictionary.

Unfortunately, we occasionally also deal with jerks.

Recently, I was in contact with a potential client who needed  an article for his own client who hadn’t liked someone else’s first attempt. We spoke back and forth via email, we haggled over a price, and came to an arrangement. I asked for 50% upfront through Paypal, since it was our first time doing business and since I had just been burned for a large sum of money by an Upwork client who had flown the coop (more on that later). He paid it through his company’s bookkeeper and I went on my merry way, researching and writing to produce the piece, which I turned in the next day.

Like most freelancers, the two most important things to me in doing this line of work are 1) satisfied customers and 2) getting paid for my work. That’s why any work I turn in for any client, regardless of how long I’ve known them, includes some version of the sentence, “Let me know if you have any concerns or questions, I’m available via email, Skype, etc.” I want them to be satisfied before they pay me, so that hopefully one day they’ll seek me out again or recommend me to a colleague – pretty much the standard practice of every business that has ever existed.

I sent that message along with the piece, then  sent a follow-up email making sure he had gotten it and asking if he had any questions. I didn’t send the second invoice because I wanted to make sure the job was done.

His response came quickly back:

“I got it .. The client did not like it…Send the invoice I will get it paid. IDK where I will use it though.”

Well, that was a real wrinkle in the plan wasn’t it? And not the first time someone hasn’t liked my work. If you’re going to survive as a freelancer, you’re going to have to do some jobs over and sometimes your work isn’t going to be up to someone else’s standards. Clearly, my client was making overtures that he certainly didn’t feel like he owed me the rest of the money. I wrote back in an attempt to give him that out:

“XXXX, if you don’t want to pay me the other half, you can say that. We’re both professionals here, right?”

The smartest thing to do in this situation  is to let the client know that if they are unhappy, there are ways out. The client’s deadline had already passed, so there was no writing it over, but clearly he was upset. Offering him to call it quits without the second half of the payment seemed the most fair thing to do where he didn’t feel ripped off but I was still earning some compensation for the work I put in.

His response later that day:

“I dont mind paying it I was just letting you know the feedback from the client.”

No problem with that response whatsoever on my end. He was frustrated, he vented, now he’s saying he’s honoring his part of the contract. I responded that I would send the invoice along that day,  but it didn’t get paid. I emailed him the following Tuesday (June 2) to confirm he had received it. No response. I sent a similar email on June 9 and June 16 … no response.

Having already given the client an out, and getting a written confirmation that he would go ahead and pay the invoice, I felt this sudden silence was completely unprofessional, so I emailed the bookkeeper who I sent the invoices to, in order to query if she had received said invoice and if it would be paid.

To the surprise of no one, the client suddenly quit his vanishing act and emailed me back within a few hours of me emailing the woman at his company with the following:

“I cant pay for stuff I cant use. You over sold and way under delivered. If I could open a paypal claim I would.”

Total hostility and finger-pointing after 18 days of no communication, brought on I suspect by his being queried by a co-worker as to the state of the invoice. A 180-degree turn from his previous communications, and not only a refusal to pay, but a suggestion that he should contact Paypal about getting a refund for the first-half of the payment.

It’s times like these where it’s impossibly easy to write back viciously,  because digital communication can make us feel bullet-proof. Why does it matter how rude I am to this guy over the Internet? We don’t live in the same state, much less the same city, what’s he going to do about it?

It’s times like these where being a professional matters most. Because losing your cool or getting snippy can lead one client, even if he’s never going to use you again, to tell other potential clients about how unprofessional and rude you were. I could have demanded the money or given him a piece of my mind, but instead I went with:

XXXX,

Like I said on May 28, if you weren’t happy with the work, you didn’t have to pay the other half of the invoice.
to which you responded that same day,

“I dont mind paying it I was just letting you know the feedback from the client.”

Since that day, you haven’t written one word to me, despite frequent attempts on my part to make contact with you in multiple venues, until I contacted someone else in your company because I couldn’t figure out another way to get a hold of you.

Have the common professional courtesy to communicate with me like adults and resolve the problem like adults.

Sincerely, XXXXXXX”
I haven’t heard back from him since and don’t expect to. I’m still out my money and don’t expect to ever see it. But regardless of the outcome, knowing I handled myself professional from jump street to the end of this rocky relationship lets me rest easier and continue to grow my business sense with another lesson learned.

 

 

New Whitepaper Published: “Layperson’s Guide to Hosting Services”

As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, and to paraphrase SNL baseball legend Chico Escuela, “Whitepapers and case studies have been very, very good to me”

A project that came to me right at the beginning of 2015 has reached fruition with Australia’s Elcom publishing the “Layperson’s Guide to Hosting Services.”

It’s a free download if you’re interested, and a great reminder to all freelance writers out there that the death of the newspaper business might just have been the best thing that ever happened to us.

 

 

Freelancing in a Digital World … and I am a Digital, well, guy, but still

When I started Twin Miracles Editorial three years ago, most of the jobs I pursued were of the editing and proofreading variety. Why? Because we had two little babies at home, and my brain was better suited for being able to pick out comma splices and run-on sentences a lot better on less sleep than it was coming up with innovative leads, compelling copy, and majestic marketing pieces.

The Twin Miracles are now three years old which means a little more sleep for America’s No. 1 superhero, Freelancing Dad, and here lately more and more writing work has come my way, particularly in the form of creating copy and content for any number of digital technology sites as more and more people go into business for themselves as consultants, designers, and the like.

As little as two years ago, I probably couldn’t have told you jack squat about the advance of digital technology in business, but a random job copy editing for Australia’s Inside SAP (I miss working with you, Freya!) followed by a six-month stint as an editor for Techopedia opened up my eyes and got parts of my mind humming again that had previously only been used to measure out baby formula and try to remember who last pooped when.

Now the digital writing jobs are coming in fast and furious, and it’s a great time to be a freelancer as more people strike out to be their own bosses and run their own show, but still need help making it all sound sophisticated and smart to potential customers.

If you’re in the market for copy or content writing for your digital business, check out my services page for more information on what I’ve done and how it’s been received, or simply contact me at twinmiracleseditorial@gmail.com or on Skype at TMEditorial.

Art Therapy – The Latest Cool Thing I Know Nothing About

One of my most recent clients was a gentleman from Australia who specializes in Art as Therapy for both children and adults. I got to edit and touch up an article he had written for a magazine down under, but the real winner in the deal was me, as I got to learn a lot about this tremendously cool field of help / self-help. His website has a great 5-minute video on how art can be used as therapy that I’d recommend to anyone with an interest in either field.