Tag: Freelancing

Friday Links (Big Plans Edition)

“The life of the professional writer – like that of any freelance, whether she be a plumber or a podiatrist – is predicated on willpower. Without it there simply wouldn’t be any remuneration, period.”
– Will Self

Another big week on the freelancing front, kittens. I got a position as a part time volunteer on the marketing staff of a museum (supporting cultural heritage and gaining new skills, win win!), I’m building some long term plans that are getting me more excited about finances than I’ve been in a while, I’m working on some fun and challenging projects that are stretching me in new ways, and I might have the opportunity to become a contributor to some really stellar platforms. Last evening I went to a networking event that I’ll talk about more later this weekend, and met some really impressive people including other current and wannabe freelancers, and I’ve found some new publications to approach.

In other news, we had a misadventure with banking and British bureaucracy, we worked out an extension deal with our landlady so we have a place to live for another year (clutches self a little to think that six months have already flown by), next weekend we’re going to Paris, and I’m looking forward to a steady stream of friends and visitors starting in April that already making me giddy with excitement.

That’s me. Tell me what you’re up to this weekend in the comments and link to anything else of note that the minion coterie should be made aware of!

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Someday I’ll add “lady adventurer” to my list of accomplishments. In the the meantime, Stylist rounded up some of the ones you should know about.

My sister-in-law is a mother of two and a living with Cystic Fibrosis. Her health has had peaks and troughs but she is a tireless campaigner for CF research, here’s a chance to learn more about her goal for this year and support her.

I cannot be the only online writer who has had a learning curve in making/using images for their blog/site, right? Here’s a handy tool for the similarly bemused.

In New York City and in need of a cry? Tumblr has you covered.

18th century gear we need to bring back!

How valuable is Twitter for you? I mean literally?

Most downloaded books by state – and I think we can all just breathe a sigh of relief that certain tomes (cough 50 Shades of Grey cough) have had their moment and moved on. Mostly. It is being turned into a film. Drat.

Oh holy hell, this is how society ends, people! When we start outsourcing even basic affection!

I really appreciated the feedback I got on my post about the #BanBossy campaign, and clearly the conversation around it is continuing. Here’s a good critical piece from Elle about whether this effort accomplishes meaningful change or not that’s worth the read. I deal in words, I think changing language absolutely matters, but it’s true that just changing words doesn’t accomplish legal or legislative changes that need to happen.

You guys, this caused major marital discontent last night – but what else can you expect when asked to choose between Doc Brown and Dr. Frazier Crane?!

Great news for American Public Libraries!

Oh, I see. The key to having a stunningly decorated home is to Know A Guy.

Working For A Magazine (As told in, what else…?)

“You gotta have style. It helps you get down the stairs. It helps you get up in the morning. It’s a way of life. Without it, you’re nobody. I’m not talking about lots of clothes.”
– Diana Vreeland

For better or worse, we live in the day and age that we do, so there is really only one way to tell this story, kittens, and that is through the medium of gifs. Specifically of one of my favorite fun, feel good movies about working for a magazine: The Devil Wears Prada.

Because for being absolutely NOTHING like the the world portrayed in the film, I found some pretty hilarious moments of parallel that kept me laughing.

For example, the time I actually took a phone call from…Dolce and Gabbana.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.

First of all, most magazines – even the large glossies are not run by masses and masses of people. Most of the teams are smaller, about half a dozen permanent staff bolstered by interns, work experience people like me, and members of the wider company who work with departments like legal and HR (plus, of course, an ever rotating of freelancers who work for themselves away from office eyes, mostly). Which means, forget any ideas you have about people lazing and swanning about admiring their own beauty and calling each other, “Dahling!” These people are busy! At any given point the team at the area my desk is in is writing, paying writers, uploading fresh content to the website several times a day, verifying stories and photos months in advance, coordinating copy between the printing magazine and various media platforms, keeping up with more social media than the mind can comfortably conceive.

People doing work experience typically only get a week – I was extremely lucky and got two – but it took me a couple of days to find my footing in the office. Because the main teams are small and well organized teams, they are also fairly close knit. Most of what I did for those two days was sorting mail and doing errand runs including…

Coffee runs! Which, exactly opposite of running errands for the magnificent Ms. Priestly, was not at all scary or difficult and was always rewarded with a thank you.

Regardless of the niceness, I admit, I was intimidated. Writing has always been the plan for me but (as longtime readers and loyal minions know), it’s been a dream fought hard for and also supported in times of great stress or trial – looking at you, Great Recession – by strokes of good timing, unanticipated opportunity, and straight up good fortune. So there I was, an eager but admittedly puny freelancer surrounded by an office full of people who have “made it.” Several members of the team have written books, most have dozens and dozens of articles under their belts, all are talented and have achieved a level of recognition for it.

After my first couple of awkward days settled down, the teammates I worked with seemed to realize I absolutely meant it when I said I was happy to help in any way because I really wanted to contribute and learn. At first one or two asked me, a bit hesitantly, to transcribe some interviews for them. These are time consuming and painstaking jobs that are not always popular – however I have nearly five years of transcribing crime investigations, and now was being offered a chance to do interviews with authors, celebrities, and politicians. It was a joy, they were wonderfully interesting! Not only that but these practiced fingers can fly. Word got around quickly and I did probably half a dozen transcription jobs.

I also was stretched into new areas, like sourcing samples of items for upcoming reviews or features, researching and developing lines of questioning for high profile interviews, and even contributing some online content! All of these were new and a bit intimidating, but like almost everything else in life, once I’d tried it, it wasn’t nearly as difficult or as scary as I worked myself into fearing it was.

When learning, my main goal was to avoid this sort of reaction when I had to put that learning into practice. I’m happy to say that as far as I can tell, I may have been found inexperienced in some things, but no one seemed to think I was an idiot or incapable when I did the work anyway.

British fashion is legendarily free of the rules and conventions some other countries take seriously. Again, banish the image of a woman swanning around in couture. The girls I worked with each looked comfortable, individual, and unique and they wore every combination you could think of from beat up boots to high end. It was a stylish eye opener to see them in action.

Yes, there is some kind of minor crisis every day.

The only really hard thing? The Tube Strike. It was awful, I’ve already whined about it, let’s move on and bust some myths!

Myth busted: magazine people are catty. The features team (which I worked under directly) and Editor-in-Chief are all extremely friendly, and no, I’m not just saying that. I pitched ideas to several people, including the features editor who took the time to sit down with me one-on-one to discuss them (one especially looks promising!), and then gave me a ton of advice for building my freelancing career in general and in London in particular. She was a fount of information and encouragement!

This wasn’t a one-off thing, the entire office is incredibly friendly and willing to answer questions. I also got to chat to several of the interns who confirmed for me that the Red office is extremely pleasant to work for. I think this goes back to the reality that the magazine world is much smaller than people realize – not only are most of the people I met and heard of friends and respected colleagues, it doesn’t pay to be a jerk and people out for themselves at the expense of their team don’t get far.

Myth busted: the makeover montage. I enjoy fashion, but I don’t cover it as a living (even though I’d like the chance to do so for at least one assignment in my career, because it clearly can be fun if the awesome fashion team in action I saw was any indication). But forget shopping in the fashion closet for your own makeover, all of those items are on loan, are meticulously tagged and documented, and in almost all cases end up going straight back where they came from. Sorry for killing your dreams.

Ditto accessories. Which isn’t to say I didn’t admire the racks of gorgeous things and enjoy getting to see them months ahead of the curve. I’m snobby enough to like feeling exclusive and special like that.

Myth busted: unhealthy lifestyles. Sorry to the catty among you, these people eat healthy and regularly – trust me, I picked up their sandwiches. Not only that they all seemed to have found and individual lifestyle plan that worked for them, and I saw every body type and shape represented in the office.

Summation? It was great fun, a good opportunity, I learned much and got great contacts. I’m happy as a clam about getting the chance to do it, and hopefully I’ll do something similar again the future. Anyone looking for work as a writer would do well to spend a week working at such an office to learn this much mythologized but often inaccurately portrayed side of the industry: it’s hard work, it’s a valuable perspective, and it’s totally eye-opening.

Friday Links

“No weekend, all weakened.”
― Toba Beta, Master of Stupidity

A few misadventures this week (including a ticketing office splitting up tickets over two separate dates, which annoyed and vexed me greatly), but also goofing off with Katie and Adam, and Ruth and Terri. Also this has been significantly less frantic than last week, which can only be a good thing! A few freelancing projects to get through today, lots of housework (blech), job apps, and a run to the dry cleaners is all that lurks on my Must Do list. Here are your links, tell me what you’re up to this weekend.

A fortifying treat with friends last evening.
A fortifying treat with friends last evening.

Hide yo’ hedges, hide yo’ shrubberies! Actually, this is one of the more puzzling and intriguing mysteries I’ve seen in a while. Perhaps my next mystery will be of the horticultural variety.

Freelancers, assemble! New York Time journalist and author Caitlin Kelly’s webinars for success in freelancing or  for boosting your blog or site traffic are available for sign up now, and so are her individual coaching sessions which I wholeheartedly recommend!

History nerd find of the week! A blog exploring the clothing collection of Charles Paget Wade, who lived from the 1880 through the 1950s. (People with that kind of lifespan intrigue me!) Apparently he was one of those magnificent, British eccentric collectors, whose archives are now maintained by the National Trust. His passion was Georgian, Regency and early Victorian clothing, and the collection looks incredible.

I want – nay, need this table. Though I fear to obtain it might require obtaining the boat it’s attached to…

A brief article of the mostly forgotten sister of Benjamin Franklin. The differences between the siblings’ circumstances are quite stark. Considered one of the Great Men of his age, a self-educated wit who made a profession and legacy of words – and a woman who only read “as much as she dared.”

Loved this article in the Atlantic about the importance of telling stories (h/t Mel). There are massive gaps in my understanding of my family history. Partly because my immediate family’s relationship with extended family has not always been smooth and so a lot of lore simply hasn’t had the opportunity to pass itself along, and partly because my immediate family has been busy for most of my life creating our own story all over the world. But as I get older I think about my family stories more and more, and try to think of ways to learn and preserve them. I never knew until this past summer that my great-grandfather on my Dad’s side supported his siblings and made his own way through Harvard (in the 1920s when it was still a place of privilege that he had not been born into). Or that my Scottish great-great-grandfather (I think) on my mother’s side followed his brother to the Western frontier with Mormon pioneers to stay close to him even though he wasn’t part of that faith himself. What else have I missed!

Current resident favorite Tom Hiddleston has a Jaguar deal, his commercial for which is basically a homicidal riff on his Loki character (which I’m sure will have some clever twist come Superbowl time). I had a moment’s pause thinking that for such a talented actor it might be frustrating to be defined by a single role… And then I remembered he’s already won an Olivier Award and is probably laughing it all the way to the bank, and got on with more important pop culture ponderings.

If ever I design a home, you can bet it’s going to have a secret passage or room.

Another map. Everyone’s good at something! (h/t Matt)

This made me laugh (h/t Heidi who is living in Denmark). What are the dressing stereotypes where you live? At some point I should knock together a Brit style post, but frankly I’m still trying to figure some of it out.

Complicated issue, blah blah blah, lots of feeling on either side, etc. I’m unabashedly pro-vaccine and I’m a bit alarmed at how many people give credence to the anti movement especially given how many of their concerns have been utterly debunked. (h/t Savvy).

This happened yesterday and London responded Britishly.

Freelancing and Mid-Century Modern Throwbacks

“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.”
― Anna Quindlen

Last week Ruth from The Planned Adventure had an extra ticket to a blogging and freelancing event hosted by fabulous and hilarious ladies from Domestic Sluttery, and very kindly asked me to go along! It was a fun evening and I got to hear a lot of really good stories and advice from some ladies who know what’s up in the world of London writing. Many notes were taken, many business cards exchanged.

The event itself was held in Made’s showroom in Notting Hill Gate which impressed me greatly. Knowing approximately squat about interior design and decor, unlike Ruth who has a real eye for it, I wandered the room between speaking and Q&A sessions and took in the funky designs for your view pleasure.

Fun print and light fixture.
Fun print and light fixture.
Shelving, for the beekeepers out there.
Shelving, for the beekeepers out there.
I miss our proper sofa. We're making due with a super cheap plastic loveseat, but it's just not the same.
I miss our proper sofa. We’re making due with a super cheap plastic loveseat, but it’s just not the same.
More lighting. Indicative of my other decorating desire, a standing lamp since a single light bulb doesn't quite cut it on long winter nights.
More lighting. Indicative of my other decorating desire, a standing lamp since a single light bulb doesn’t quite cut it on long winter nights.
The best design in the design showroom? Shelves and shelves containing individual description cards for each of the items sold.
The best design in the design showroom? Shelves and shelves containing individual description cards for each of the items sold.

Thanks so much for inviting me, Ruth!

Friday Links (Frantic Pace Edition)

“We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work”
― Thomas A. Edison

Another busy week, my possums. I’m so grateful to Ruth for getting me out of the house on Wednesday to go to a freelancing event (more on that later), but I was honestly worried I wouldn’t be able to go at first and spent the whole day at a frantic pace to carve out that evening. Ditto for pizza on Monday.

You wouldn’t think it, especially based on last week‘s theatre adventures, but January started off fast and hasn’t slowed down for me at all. I’ve been helping a client with a major rebrand project since mid-December and it’s basically eaten my life. I have tons of personal emails to catch up on that are just piling up, thank you notes still to send for Christmas gifts and letters, and even job hunting (while still very much an active project) has given way to it on the priority list. Since I’m so many hours ahead of the client I’m usually kept up quite late every night, and I’ve started obsessively checking my phone like one of those people I used to poke fun at. Because every time I step two feet away from my flat, a major and highly urgent project arrives in my inbox. Without fail.

It’s a bit stressful, but really rewarding at the same time. All of 2013 seemed to involve being thrown into situation after situation that was completely uncharted territory for me, which I loved even though it frequently intimidated the hell out of me, and 2014 looks to hold more of the same. I never thought I’d be working on some of the projects I am, or have the skills I’ve been able to acquire. I’m still figuring out how to balance competing demands and projects (and occasionally failing to find a balance at all, reduced to eating gummy candy for lunch and working until 2am), and there are still many things I can do much better than I’m currently doing. But I’m learning quick and working hard. So, even though I’m feeling pretty tuckered out from this week, I’m happy as a clam.

Here are your links, tell me what you’ve been up to lately in the comments!

Goodness knows the sports world has a long way to go in respecting and embracing social/gender/cultural inclusion across many groups of people, but I still think this is kind of a cool story.

Fascinating article on how and why people disbelieve what they do.

I’d read this in a heartbeat.

True fandom never dies, I guess. I was a Spice Girls fan myself, unabashedly, but this level of devotion is quite foreign to me. Then again, I’m currently on a Sherlock kick so perhaps I need to judge less harshly.

h/t to Jeff for this commercial about the less glamorous but wholly necessary side of paper. I have a kindle for convenience sake, and I enjoy its many uses, but you will have to pull printed books from my cold dead hands.

Medical science is really just a staggering thing. This will either make some really awful dystopian scenarios come true, or…honestly I’m not sure I can think of an alternative. And I’m the woman who’d be fine with sprinkling the various elements and chemicals into a jar, letting is sit for a few months, and popping the cork on a fully developed infant as a reproductive system.

Etsy shop find of the week. A bit odd, but frankly also a bit adorable.

h/t to my friend Annette who works with refugees in Salt Lake City, patterns of forced migrations since 1975.

How big is your vocabulary?

Kids write the darnedest things.

Photographs of a museum’s collection at night.

Loved this piece from Cup of Jo about living in small spaces. Our flat is bigger, but decorating it is a challenge and I found lots of this helpful.

Seriously. It took a fictional character being denied inheritance rather than actual people?

Speaking of fictional characters…in defense of Ron Weasley! (h/t Savvy)

Digging In

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

Things that I MUST do today and MAY NOT avoid:

Mail off a bagful of Christmas presents already! (Seriously, how is Christmas only a week away?)
Complete another module in a training program I’m doing for a client.
Drop off an order at the dry cleaners.
Turn a draft of an analytics project into the final product.
Complete January’s content for three clients (and get started on February’s).
Finish my 101 in 1001 list, because it sounds much more interesting than Resolutions.
Start lining up year end tax information – blerg.
Laundry – double blerg.

Time to slap on some seasonal music and stay hydrated! Working from home, glamorous.