All posts in Writing

  • I Went Freelance

    Photo by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash

    I did it. I did the thing I’ve been envisioning for years and working nights and weekends on for months. I did the thing I’ve always said was my long-term career goal. I did my dream.

    The past two weeks have been a whirlwind. I signed three clients in five days. I jumped into the deep end of several new projects, on top of my full-time job. Oh: I put notice in at my full-time job. I talked to my manager. I told my team.

    I was more nervous to break the news to my boss than I was the time I forced myself to tell an old manager to his face that I thought he was condescending (long story). I was similarly nervous to tell my coworkers — after I hit send on my email, I tensed up so much and shook so hard my upper body was sore the next day.

    Why was I so nervous? It’s not like I haven’t had plenty of stressful conversations in my life (hello, I TOLD MY MANAGER HE WAS CONDESCENDING TO HIS FACE). I can only conclude it’s because my subconscious was acknowledging the reality of the situation, while my conscious brain was too overwhelmed to process. Somewhere in there I was thinking “This is it, Cassie. You’re really, finally doing it. You’re overhauling your career — and your life.”

    ***

    I accidentally lost seven pounds. I accidentally lived on coffee and chocolate and adrenaline for days. I’ve barely slept — I have too much work to do (and too much caffeine in my body)!

    I’ve been in the weirdest emotional state. And it’s more than sleep deprivation. I’m so anxious I’m vibrating. Buzzing with electricity. Floating over my chair. I have so much responsibility now, so much to learn, and so many opportunities to screw up. It’s setting in. I’m stressed out to the max — and yet you can’t wipe the smile off my face.

    I told some friends recently that this is the most stress I’ve ever been under that I’m not trying to get out of. I’m just taking it, feeling it, sort of enjoying it, pushing forward with it. (Shout out to my business-owner friend Sara, who gifted me the most perfect book at the most perfect time, and probably delayed my first nervous breakdown.) Somehow, though so much of what I’m doing feels scary and painful right now, it also feels so RIGHT. I’m simultaneously bursting with anxiety and happiness at any given moment. It’s bananas. I’m drowning. And I’m thrilled. I’m both.

    ***

    Some people believe that repeatedly seeing the time 11:11 on the clock is a sign. They say it’s an acknowledgement of — or a prompt to acknowledge — alignment and synchronicity in your life. John and I have been seeing it constantly for about a month now. Is it because I’ve finally found my thing, and can finally stop making John crazy with my search? I’m choosing to believe yes.

    I still can’t articulate precisely why I feel called to freelance, even after years of working toward it. Something in me has always pointed that direction. I’ve jotted out half-baked business plans dozens of times — it always helped me feel like I was taking action on escaping a path that wasn’t … in alignment.

    ***

    I want to end with thank-yous, to: Lindsay, Eric, Wendy, John, Kyle, Matt, Sara, Katy, and my Nolan and Sanchez families. Thank you for encouraging me, for asking how things are going, for caring. I’m so grateful for your support.

    Here I go!

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  • Why I’m Changing My Newsletter Format

    mailboxes
    image by Gregory Jordan

    Basically, this is why. If you’re a blogger yourself, you may have seen this article, and I gotta tell ya: it made a whole lot of sense to me. I had already been batting around some ideas for how to approach my newsletter differently, because I just wasn’t feeling solid about it. And then this post came out and helped me really nail down why it all felt weird and how things could be improved.

    There are a lot of good points in the article (for bloggers, the whole site is a great resource), but here are the main ideas I took away:

    1. Content you’d write for your newsletter should go on your blog–there shouldn’t be a separation of “newsletter content” and “blog content,” and a blog could even be considered a collection of public newsletters.

    2. If you’re intent on growing your readership, it doesn’t make sense to put forth the effort of producing quality content for your newsletter only for it to be hidden in inboxes and difficult for readers to share (they could forward it to a friend or two via email, or they could spread your message through social media channels with a much larger audience–their network–via your blog).

    3. The old newsletter format is outdated (as mentioned, sharing isn’t easy, plus, as Jon says in his post, “People recognize mass emails for what they are…”), and newsletters should really just be email updates, alerting subscribers of new content on the blog.

    After reading this and doing a quick assessment of Alternative Badassery’s practices, I outlined my own specific reasons for making a change:

    1. It Will Lead to More Personal Posts

    I don’t really have a problem being raw and authentic in my writing, but I’ve saved a lot of the really deep stuff for my newsletter, mostly because I didn’t know what else I was supposed to be sending to people’s inboxes and thought the heavy material made sense for a more private channel. But now, I’ll just post that crap for the whole world to see!

    2. It Will Lead to More Behind-the-Scenes Posts

    I thought it might be boring to discuss business or admin-related topics in blog posts, but y’all said you liked it. And really, I’m just here to make you happy and give you what you want. So we’ll do some more of that stuff, yeah?

    3. The Whole Newsletter Thing Has Always Felt Awkward to Me Anyway

    Like I said, I never really got what I was supposed to be doing with it. Sending you some shit I wrote? Why not put it on the blog? Asking your opinion about something? Why not ask you via social media? I have this huge list of post ideas with a few newsletter ideas sprinkled in, and that always seemed odd to me–what’s the difference?

    4. I Already Wanted to Move the Discussion Out of Email

    Some of you subscribers have replied to my newsletters with, just, fucking brilliance. You have great advice. It feels dumb that I’m the only one who gets to hear it. Not only that, but also, it usually takes me a while to respond to individual emails. So what could be a lively and helpful discussion among several interested people for whom the subject resonates becomes a stale exchange between two parties who’ve since moved on from the emotion the topic originally stirred up.

    5. It’s More Work

    Look, I don’t get enough writing done as it is. Writing a lot of unique content for the newsletter means writing less for the blog or guest posts on other sites. If it were worth it, it’d be worth it. But as we see above, it’s not worth it. Ya know?

    So What’s the Format Going Forward?

    When I write a new post, I’ll send you an email with a little intro to the article so you can decide if it’s worth your time or not, and a link to it. That’s it. And the stuff you’ve been seeing in the newsletters will now go on the blog (which I’m linking to in the emails… whoa! Still with me?).

    Can We Still Exchange Private Emails?

    YEAH! Of course, of course! Email me anytime! I get that not everyone wants to discuss everything publicly. We can totally still have one-on-one convos via email–you’ll just be the instigator of them now.

    ***

    Discuss

    What’s your take on newsletters? Love? Hate? Subscribed to a ton or never subscribe? Favorite format?

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  • Recommended Resources for Career, Lifestyle, Quarterlife Crises, Blogging, & Freelance Writing

    books
    image by azrasta

    I’ve been flying through books and online resources like it’s my job. That’s what happens when a lover of reading and learning takes on such projects as launching a new blog, trying out freelance writing, and figuring out what to do with one’s life (NBD).

    The value of many of the items I’ve used is incredible. I’ve been blown away, really. I feel indebted to their creators–they’ve helped me so much! I’d feel like an asshole not trying to spread the word about their work.

    Originally, I developed a “Resources” page (no longer available) to house reviews and links (yes, affiliate links, whenever possible/applicable. I was really banking on making enough money for one coffee a month, ya know?) associated with all the books and products I found exceptional…but it started to get ridiculous. As in, I was reading so much good shit so fast that I was adding awesome things for people to check out all the time, and the page grew into a section of pages, which was becoming annoying to manage…

    Here’s what I’m saying: I want you to know about these resources–I want to sing their praises–but I no longer want the hassle of keeping the pages updated, nor do I want the content taking up precious real estate on my site anymore, K? Homegirl likes a clean website, and I was cluttering things up like an elderly woman does with plastic flamingos and lawn gnomes. No likey. (Besides, I need room in the site navigation for a few new pages coming soon… THE DRAMA! THE SUSPENSE! ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT NEW PAGES?! I KNOW YOU ARE! I KNOW YOU CARE ABOUT NEW UPCOMING PAGES ON MY BLOG!!!!!!)

    I’ve chosen two near-and-dear-to-my-heart items (also the two I have true/non-Amazon affiliate relationships with) to promote indefinitely (to your right, in the sidebar under “Recommended”), but outside of those, I think I’ll just shoot an email to my newsletter subscribers or write a review post or something for all other noteworthy books, products, exercises, and whatever else I come across.

    This is a boring post so far, I’m sorry. I think this is all stuff I’m not supposed to tell you, too. Like, if I let John read this before I publish it, he’ll tell me no one cares about the administrative details of my site, and that I shouldn’t even mention any of this. But I feel like I’m pulling a fast one on you guys by not always being transparent, so I hope you appreciate all this stuff you don’t care about. Or something like that. Let’s move on.

    Here are some truly remarkable resources I think you’ll find helpful. As mentioned, some of the links below are affiliate links, which means I’ll get about four cents of any sale made through this page (though it doesn’t change your price at all).

    Jung Typology Test

    Discovering my personality type by taking the Jung Typology Test was an enormous breakthrough for me as I flailed about in a quarterlife crisis. I learned what my natural strengths and preferences are, how I experience the world, and how I make decisions–in short, I finally felt like I understood myself. This brought a lot of clarity and relief, and the knowledge propelled me forward in my quest to identify my ideal career.

    Take the test

    Do What You Are

    This book will also help you determine your personality type (through a couple of different methods), but focuses on what it means for your work. What’s better is that it goes beyond simply offering information to include actual action items (hooray!) and relevant exercises to help you determine the best career for you. I didn’t finish the book knowing exactly what to do, but I had certainly narrowed my options down and had a good sense of the direction I should go.

    Read more

    Strengths Finder 2.0

    After coming across the third mention of this book, I knew I had to get it. The main idea here is that we should each figure out the talents we naturally possess, and focus on developing those into strengths (as opposed to spending–wasting–time trying to improve our weaknesses). The thought is that we can be professional powerhouses by finding ways to use our strengths more instead of attempting to get better at the things we’re crappy at, resulting in an average ability level at best. While the book and assessment seem to be more intended to help you make the most of a role you’re already in, knowing your talents can really help you identify an overall good career fit, too. My results revealed a lot about the jobs I would and would not be successful in.

    Read more

    The Art of Non-Conformity

    As I read through this book, I kept noticing this “Oh, thank God!” feeling. Chris Guillebeau puts into words what I’d somewhat subconsciously suspected for a long time: there are other ways to live than the one way you’ve been exposed to. Our eyes are closed to other roads, other possibilities, other ways of seeing the world and our work…and Chris opens them. This book will forever alter your worldview–for the much, much better.

    Read more

    The $100 Startup

    Interested in entrepreneurship? Here’s your guide. Also written by Chris Guillebeau, and also a source of that “Oh, thank God!” feeling–this time when it comes to strategies for launching, operating, and growing (if desired) a business. You don’t need a lot of money to get your brainchild out into the world, nor do you need to screw people over or trick them into buying to be successful. You do need to put some careful thought into how you can provide real value and truly help people, as well as what makes sense for you to offer, how best to offer it, and whom to offer it to, though–you’ll learn how to go about all this, and more, in this book.

    Read more

    279 Days to Overnight Success

    Another slam-dunk (free!) resource by Chris Guillebeau, this guide lays out the process of–and key concepts involved in–building a successful online platform. If you blog just for fun/creative release/whatever, this probably won’t interest you. But if you’re ready to take things to the next level, spread your message, get some traffic, and maybe even sell some stuff through your site, you need this info.

    Read more

    Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success

    When I first started seriously thinking about freelance writing, I did a ton of research on what I’d need to do to be “legit,” and ended up completely overwhelmed. I came across a recommendation for Kelly’s book, and purchased it right away…and found that pretty much all my questions were answered. You can have zero knowledge of the publishing industry or what pitching story ideas or working with editors is like, and come out feeling like you have a decent grasp on it all after reading this book. You’ll also have a template for each of the common emails and letters you can expect to be sending as a freelance writer. Another book worth way more than it costs!

    Read more

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    Discuss

    Have you used any of these resources? If so, what was your experience like? Any related items you’d add to the list?

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