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  • December 2010
  • New Years Resolutions: I can haz them

    [quote author=”Benjamin Franklin”]
    Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors,
    and let each new year find you a better man.
    [/quote]

    [dropcap]A[/dropcap] lot of productivity gurus hate on the New Years Resolution, but I’m still a fan. Likely, it’s because unlike most people who make New Years Resolutions, I tend to keep mine.

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  • How to be Awesome at Niche Blogging

    The best blogs on the whole internet are Niche Blogs. Blogs about cake decorating. Blogs about gothic home decor. Blogs about Japanese pop music. Blogs about lavender. Blogs about cross-stitch swear words … These blogs are the easiest to find readers, the easiest to monetize with ads and products, and the most fun to write, […]

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  • When the Going Get’s Tough … the Tough make Brownies

    You ever have one of those weeks when everything seems impossible? Where all your savings are spent on emergency car repairs and replacing broken drum pedals and stolen car stereos and your work seems pointless and your goals seem impossible and the whole world seems to hate your guts?

    Yeah, me too.

    I’m currently facing the reality that – even though I reached my income goal for 2010 – we now have next to no savings left. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that not only will we probably not be moving to Germany next year, we can’t even technically afford to go to Wacken and see our amazing friends. I’m waiting and hoping for a cheque that was supposed to come in October, a cheque for over 2 months worth of work that I will likely not be paid for. I’m looking at spreadsheets and to-do lists and all the amazing things I wanted to do next year and just feeling like the world’s biggest failure.

    I feel like I’ve let my husband down, and myself, because I had set these goals and, even though I achieved them, it’s all come to nothing. We still won’t get to do what we’d set aside all that money to do. I’ve been busting a gut working 60 hour weeks for over a year now, and I have nothing to show for it.

    I have given myself permission to wallow. And hence, with a plate of my killer chocolate and beetroot brownies, I am sitting at the computer, the cat in my lap, listening to Opeth and throwing an epic pity party.

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  • Dealing with Negative Comments: Why Nobody Likes You and You Shouldn’t Give A Shit

    [dropcap]I[/dropcap]t may shock you to learn that not everyone on the internet likes you. It sure killed me.

    The first time someone posted a negative comment on my blog, I cried. I obsessed about it for days. I returned to high-school Steff, wondering why no one likes me. The comment made me read and re-read my article, searching for whatever I’d said that offended this person so. I thought about taking the article down. I toyed with deleting the comment. I cried some more.

    The supposed anominity of the internet gives people a “safety screen” from which they can launch their own personal attack on the world. Sometimes these attacks are well-meaning, meant to educate people about important social, humanitarian or rights issues. Sometimes these attacks are meant to persuade or encourage debate, which is the most important aspect of the awesomeness of the internet.

    But sometimes, the line between “I’d like to disagree with your point and offer these thoughts for discussion” and “You’re a fuckwit and I wish all your children were born with three extra fingers and a piano falls on your cat” gets crossed. Sometimes it gets trampled. Sometimes, a piano falls on top of it.

    And what can you, as a blogger, do about it? Plenty. You can delete it, launch into a debate, crush them with a piano, run their name into the dirt with the awesome power of your twitter friends. What should you do about it? Not much at all.

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  • The Secret to Successful Freelancing in the Economic Apocalypse

    [dropcap]T[/dropcap]oday, I wrote 2000 words on my novel, finished some metal album reviews, helped a creative lady in Aussie brainstorm business names, wrote some website copy, produced a Braille novel, gave an agency a quote for a new batch of work, and finished up by writing this article.

    What a fun day that was! Most of my days are like this (barring the days when I’m sleeping off a metal concert or off climbing over castles with my husband). A mix of interesting work from clients and agencies alongside my blogs and fiction writing. Not only that, this unique and interesting range of work is my success “secret”.

    Bloggers love catchy titles like “3 Secrets of Freelance Success” and “21 Ways to Scam Some Poor Sucker out of $50″. For years, I’ve been writing blogs for clients with titles like this, and there is definitely a place for them.

    Numbers in titles and buzz words like “Secret” and “Sure-Fire Method” force people to pay attention. They ooze confidence like a confident sausage-making machine. Readers think “A person who didn’t know what they were doing wouldn’t come up with 21 steps”.

    I know – the numbers and buzz words hook me, too. Even though I’ve been freelancing for 5 years and probably know all the secrets by now, I still read posts titled “5 Freelance Writing Secrets”. I can’t stand not knowing a secret – I’m a nosy bugger like that.

    But none of this secret stuff is really a secret. Most of it is just common sense. Even the most “sure-fire” method doesn’t work for everybody. Often, it’s the people rocking the status-quo who make all the money and get all the girls.

    Here’s a “secret” of mine. Even if it was a secret, which it isn’t, I’ve totally ruined my chances of making it as a freelancer by letting you get your fithly paws on it.

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  • Writing: Fighting the Blank Page

    This is a guest post by the fabulous Ali of Aliventures, who makes me feel super awesome because I’m not the only one who listens to Turisas while writing non-fiction.

    Do musicians have to tidy the entire house before they can face playing a note?

    Do painters stare in dismay at the blank canvas for an hour before making the first pencil mark?

    I don’t actually know; my creativity has never lent itself to music or painting. But writers certainly seem particularly likely to get stuck before they’ve even started. I’ve never spoken to a writer who always – or even regularly – sat down and started writing without any feelings of resistance.

    There’s a couple of major reasons why.

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  • What should I blog about? Or, Why is my Brand so Goddamn Boring?

    [dropcap]O[/dropcap]ne of the most common questions I receive is “What should I blog about?” This question usully comes from small business owners starting their “thang” online. They’ve heard blogging brings the views, and the views bring the sales, so they say “Argh, I’ve got to write a blog. Oh, well, this will be fun. I can have all these awesome conversations with my clients, and people will be so excited when I announce a new range and- oh, wait a second, what do I do, exactly?”

    Or maybe you’ve opened your blogspot account, made a couple of posts, and then forgotten about your blog for, oh, I don’t know, seven years. You know you should be writing in your blog, but you just keep finding better things to do with your time.

    You think you don’t know what to write about. I think you don’t know how to write.

    Now, don’t take that the wrong way – I’m going to explain. I don’t mean “you don’t know how to write” like “you can’t string a sentence together with a pre=strung sentence stringing kit”. I’m one to talk. I can hang a preposition with the best of them, baby.

    I mean, you’re struggling with the basic, core principle of what it means to be a writer. But don’t worry, because I intend to teach you in about 450 words.

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  • Kicking Ass with your Online Portfolio – Why you Need One and What To Stick In It

    [dropcap]T[/dropcap]hese days, if you ain’t online baby, you ain’t anywhere. You could be the most incredible clothing designer, writer or cartoonist in the world, but it nobody finds you, you’ve wasted all your hard work. Wiring-up your creative business enables potential clients, customers and fans to locate you, anywhere in the world, even while you’re sleeping or having sex in the shower.

    As an artist, you are only as good as your portfolio, and your portfolio should be online (as well as hard copy). Do not underestimate the need for a portfolio that can be accessed through your website.

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  • Routines, Deadlines and Balancing Your Business Life

    [dropcap]O[/dropcap]ver the last year, I’ve been thinking a lot about time. How much we have, and how we spend it. I’ve been trying really hard to make the most of the time I have – spending enough, but no more, on my business, so I can spend more with my man, the kitten, the family, and the other awesome people in my life.

    I admit, it’s not easy, because I’m rather desperate for this business to succeed, so I tend to work, or think about work, or stress about work, when I should be chilling out. Gradually, with lots of help and a few telling-offs from my husband, I’m getting better.

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  • Creating for You or Creating for an Audience – Balancing Artistic Integrity and Needing to Pay Your Rent

    [dropcap]A[/dropcap]rtists – and I use the term in it’s broadest sense, covering fine artists, musicians, designers, writers, dreamers, vagabonds – love to argue about money. They spend more time arguing about money than making it. Seems a bit backward to me, but there you go.

    Some artists don’t think money should be made from art at all, and believe an artist who sets up a business specifically to make money … why, they’re no artist at all, but a cheap imposter with airs to be the next Lady Gaga. Some artists think you should just create and create with not a whit of attention to what’s going on outside your head. Some artists believe if you’re not starving or making your own paintbrushes out of your armpit hair, you’re a commercial hack.

    Others think audience is everything. They conduct market research and understand “niche demographics” and social networking and are addicted to feedback. They don’t understand the point of art without an audience to engage with it.

    Here’s the thing I don’t get. I just do NOT understand why these two concepts are mutually exclusive. Why must you sit firmly on one side of this imaginary fence while imaginary dogs howl at you on one side and imaginary small obnoxious children pelt you with imaginary rocks on the other?

    Couldn’t you … shock, horror … do both!

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