A life of love

A life of love
Everyone should have a Great Pyrenees

Monday, May 8, 2017

More learning...

My days here stay pretty busy, although some days I wonder.  I am finding that it is really useful to keep a list of what I did during the day because it is easy to discount those things that seem mundane but are so needed.  Especially as a freelance writer.  So much of what I do cannot be seen, unless you visit my laptop.  Many of my projects are longer term for my clients, so it is a lot of chipping away at things.  But they do get done!  And I am busier and busier every week.

If you ever wanted to work from home and look into freelance writing/editing/proofreading, I am here to tell you that it can be done, but it also can be a slow uphill climb.  I read a blog last year that introduced me to Upwork and I am glad that I did.  She gave a lot of good advice, which I have found to be very true.  So, here is my two cents and perhaps so advice if you are interested!

  • You start off slowly.  You will pitch proposals for lots of jobs, but as you haven't built a reputation, you need to focus on doing that first.  What that means is that in the beginning, you need to focus on getting some work experience and a track record.
  • At first, you get paid peanuts.  Basically, the entry level jobs that you start with as a newbie pay very little.  But each job gives you more hours on the clock, more feedback for other clients, and more experience with the platform and opportunities.  Consider it "paying your dues".  Don't quit your day job and then start this work.  Unless you don't have to worry about income.  Even then, you really need more to do so I would say start doing this as a sideline.
  • Plan to ramp it up at every opportunity.  Every job you do helps you get the next one.  Frankly, I have a list of regular clients now, and I am starting to get cautious about adding more as I want to be sure that I can maintain the quality of my work as I improve my income.
  • Beware of the scams.  Upwork really works to prevent you from dealing with this, but it does happen.  If you follow the Upwork rules, you will find that they are there for your protection.  And they make it hard for a scammer to take advantage of you.  Do not do any work off the Upwork platform.  When you get someone who wants you to do work and not communicate on Upwork, it is a scam.  When they don't offer you a job - that is an Upwork contract - but want you to do work and promise payment, RUN!  This is a scam.  There are many of them.  I now avoid making a proposal on any job where the client has an unverified payment source.  I don't work for them.  I would reconsider if someone was new and I felt confident, but it is a risk until their payment source is able to be verified.  

This has been on my mind because I have had it happen yet again in the last week.  The scam I mean.  I had an international proposed client who wanted an immense amount of work, in a very short time frame, with not a great payment for the amount of work that he wanted to be done.  It felt fishy in my gut.  With Upwork you can be invited to interview for a job, and that was the process this proposed client and I were working through.  At first, the client needs seemed really straightforward.  And ebook.  Completely original, excellent grammar and spelling and content.  Then he gave the word count and deadline: 17,000 words in 48 hours maximum, preferably 24 hours.

Gasp.  Now, I don't know how much your write.  I write a lot.  A lot.  I am comfortable putting out thousands of words a day, usually on things that require some research and certainly accuracy.  But to put out a scientifically researched 17,000-word ebook to his standards (and mine!) is an entirely different beast from the many short articles I do every day.  It would take at least 48 connected hours to complete the project, maybe less, but certainly, more time than I had available with all my client needs.

I told him that I could not do it in that time frame.  He suggested another day, so 72 hours.  I considered it if we could pick a start day three days away so I could really push and get all my other clients needs to be met in advance.  No, it had to start right that moment.  I indicated that I could start in 24 hours, and I knew I would be putting myself through some hell to get ready at that time, but was considering that I might try.  I told him if we could do that, then he needed to send a job offer over.

Suddenly, he wasn't going to make an offer, he wanted to send an offer for $10 with the rest of the agreed upon amount (which still wasn't a ton) upon completion.  Note to the reader - with Upwork you only get paid upon satisfactory completion of a project, so his request was fishy, to say the least.  And with the contract being written for only that $10, despite the messages about more, according to Upwork rules, he would only be required to pay me the $10 for the entire project and if I accepted the job that is all I would be legally entitled to.  

NO.  Just no.  I had spent an hour or more dickering around with him, getting all the information on the job, making sure that it was something that I felt I could do.  The reward held out to me was that it would lead to consistent ongoing work.  However, my stomach just clenched.  This was wrong.  No way this was real.  So, I told him I simply could not meet his needs, at which point his messages became quite irate and in fact, I contacted Upwork and reported him.  There, finished.  Whew.

And then just last night, he came back again, nearly a week later.  He wants the same job done.  With a full offer, with the full amount.  Okay, send me the written offer and I will take it, however, before I accept, I want to discuss the time period as I have several huge projects that I took on over the last week.  Then he comes back, oh no, he needs this 17,000-word ebook in 24 hours!!!!!  It was already 10 PM our time and I was done for the day.  Nope, cannot have that done.  He proceeded to get irate again.  Sigh.  Done.  Blocked him.

So, note to anyone starting out, if something feels fishy and it would cost you more than the risk of your time is worth, don't do it.  There must always be a contract in place.  Without it, you could submit your hard work and there could be no payment.  Sometimes a gamble is okay, but you have to take a look at what you are gambling.  This was TOO MUCH and frankly, I wasted too much of my time even talking to him.  Never, or nearly never, have contact with a client outside of Upwork.  You have no protection outside of Upwork.  If a client offers something too good to be true, it likely is.

On the other hand, I have had great success building my work life through Upwork, though there are large learning curves and a large need to prove yourself.  After all, this is the internet and you never know what is behind that screen.  Be wise.  If you aspire to this life, I think it can be done.  You will work hard, very hard.  You will need to really work on customer service and learning.  But, it can be done!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, April 21, 2017

Never stop learning!!!

There are adventures on the homestead, as always.  I have come to realize that this is part of life, and no matter how I try to control it to keep it "just perfect", that this is not part of the plan.

Spring has sprung in Wisconsin, which means MUD!  Yesterday we got a ton of rain, and the horse pastures are deeply mudded in their favorite spots.  Sigh.  We roll our round bales out into the pastures, so we watch the weather report to know when conditions are going to allow us to do that.  We rolled fresh bales right before the rain came, and we are very glad we did, as it is complete MUCK by the gates now.  It is cold again, though 40's and 50's isn't bad for WI.  I'm grateful that we aren't seeing snowflakes!

I am so anxious to start getting into my gardens.  We have expanded my herb garden, and the fences are going up as soon as weather and soil allow.  My blue potatoes from Heirloom Solutions (http://www.heirloomsolutions.com) have arrived and as soon as the garden dries just a little I can get them safely in the ground!  I hope for a good crop.  I also have tons of seedlings on my kitchen counters, taking in the lovely southern exposure, but completely taking over the area.  I am putting in a couple cold frames and hopefully will start to get those moved outside soon.  My winter sowing areas are not quite awakening yet, but I think that should be pretty soon, and I have quite a few plants to start in my winter sowing areas.  To top it off, we are picking up five willow saplings this weekend, to plant down in our wet areas in our pastures.  The plan is that the horses will have shade from the trees as they get bigger.  The area isn't used by the horses, as it is a strip with deep wet, almost a marshy type area.  But the areas they do use will be eventually shaded by the trees, which is good as their pastures are bare of trees at this point.

I have all my dehydrators stored carefully and will be glad to get my herbs drying when they mature.  At this point, almost all are still sleeping or awaiting planting.  I did see that my garlic is coming up, and so are the chives, so I know that spring is coming.  I plan to use garlic scapes in my low-carb cooking for added flavor, which thankfully will also encourage the garlic cloves to grow much larger.  I did see the catnip coming up, and the motherwort.  I have way too much motherwort as it grows wild here, so I am trying to thin that down a little.  That is certainly going to be a battle.  On the upside on another wildcrafting herb out here, the lamb's ear is coming up as well, and since those leaves are better when harvested young, I will be getting out and taking some of that and getting those inside to dry.  I have quite the collection of glass jars to store my dried herbs so my pantry can be well stocked.  The dandelions haven't shown up yet, but that will be the next wildcrafting experience.  I am arguing with myself about making dandelion wine again, as it is a great deal of work, but it is so hard to think about letting a harvest go to waste.  I want to be sure to leave some for the bees, but making dandelion jelly is certainly worthwhile as well!

Our nights are still cold, and the rainy spring days keep us inside more than we would like.  Rainy days are good days for working on the henhouse spring cleaning, as at least that is under shelter, but there is only so much that can be done in there.  So, in addition to all the continuous remodeling on our 130-year-old farmhouse, we have started a new hobby - ceramics!  Honestly, I have always been inspired as my grandmother was a hugely skilled artisan in ceramics.  Hubby and I started going to an area ceramics studio this winter, basically to get out of the house and do something new.  And it has become quite a passion!  We love the creativity, and all the many options available, as well as that there is SO much to learn!  We were just recently blessed with a kiln and some supplies from a dear friend who used to have her own ceramics business.  The more we delve into it, the more we find!  It has been so much fun to work alongside each other, consider all the options, and experiment.  We have so much to learn!  I ran the kiln for the first time this week and it was so exciting.  The hard part was waiting for everything to cool overnight so we could open the kiln and see how things turned out!  It was great!  Now we are experimenting with glazes on the bisque we fired and the wait is now to have enough ready to fire!!!  I will share photos as we get more done.

Here is the nutshell.  Keep learning, keep active.  There are so many interesting things in life, so many different varieties of nearly everything in life.  I know I have a lot of eclectic interests and tend to jump from one to another, but it keeps my mind active.  And a lot of it makes its way into my writing work.  Whether in an article for a client, in my own books, in the ideas that I have stored away for future works, or just into my own blog posts, all experiences come to light.  Whatever catches your interest, go investigate it.  I am going to a Herbs 101 class at an apothecary shop this weekend as well, to expand my knowledge as I get my herb garden into full growth (we were given fencing from friends who took down a pool several years ago, and I have dreamed of using it to make my own enclosed herb garden.  Well, we are putting it all in now, and the garden will be 12 feet by 24 feet, so HUGE!!!!).  When something catches your interest, don't hesitate to jump in a little, take a second look.  The more I learn about something, the more I discover there is to learn!  I think it adds quite the spice to life and hopefully, will keep my heart young!

God bless to all.  Enjoy each and every season!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Friday, February 10, 2017

I'm back!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Life is a journey.  Full of ups and downs.  Some journeys through dark places and then some light places.  As always, this blog is about my life, whether anyone but me reads it or not.

Today, today I am a writer.

I have surrendered to this.  It has chased me nearly my entire life.  Hounded me, pestered me, haunted me.

I have a book on Amazon now.

I do freelance writing for clients now.  Regularly.

And I curl up and try to share what is inside my head in my own works.

It is scary.  Who really wants to lay their soul bare and let it be scrutinized?  But there is beauty there.  There is also ugliness.  There is also lessons learned, or to be learned.  Joys to share fears to uncover and release their power.

I want to encourage anyone out there to go for your dreams.  I spent so many years with my soul tied up in a wasteland because I was scared.  I settled for jobs that ate my soul.  They may have helped to pay the bills, but they ate me alive.  Inside, there was so much wanting to come out and it was shriveling up and dying.

Look in your soul.  What brings you joy?  What is your passion?  What are your values?

These are the things you need to cultivate.  Don't shut your soul away any longer.  You can do it.  If you don't strive for it, you will wither away from who you truly were created by God to be.

Balance yourself.  You can do it.  God does not want you to go through life without being who He really designed you to be.  Not that prosperity is involved, this is not prosperity gospel stuff.  But God has given you gifts, your own gifts.  Your own bents.  He created YOU, with all your unique qualities, to be YOU.  He only made one of you.  He made you on purpose.  Yes, there are basic responsibilities we all have, basic bills and what not.  You have to find a balance.  But you have to pursue who God has created you to be.

I don't know if the steps I have taken recently were out of desperation or a giant leap of faith.  But I sure took a leap.  I'm going to lay it on the line.  This is a journey, a part of my journey.  I' very certain that there are many bumps in the journey.  I am certain that it will not be without challenges, and right now, the challenges can seem insurmountable.  But, but this time, I am throwing all I have into it.  I have dreamt of this place in life.  My homestead, my computer, pens and paper and pouring my soul and imagination out.  It has pursued me for so long.

Please, step up to who you are created to be.  Look at what God has created within you, you are a beloved child, you are a unique and wonderful creation.  Embrace that.  Search it out.  Be you.  There is only one you, and you are needed.  Just as you are.