I’m honestly not exaggerating when I say that the past few weeks have been an absolute whirlwind. I’ve been busier than ever with work and it just seems like there a million other things I need to do. But that’s on top of things that I want to do, which are also important and could help me to further cultivate my career. And with everything on my plate, I feel like I’m perpetually behind and always trying to hack my working out to make them even more productive.
As hectic as this is, I absolutely love it.
It’s when I sit and look at the mound of work I’m getting from my clients that takes up at least as much time as a tradition 40-hour-per-week job that I know I made the right choice pursuing a career as a writer. Not many people are able to say that they love what they do for a living, but I actually love my job. In fact, I hesitate to even call it job because of how much I enjoy it. With so many people resorting to their jobs instead of finding ones they love, I feel like I’m somehow cheating or conning the system. Something about loving my job makes me feel like some kind of maverick or an outlier.
There are quite a few things to share since the last time I blogged. For one thing, the reason why the blogs have become less frequent is because I realized I was writing more blogs than actual, quality content, and I wanted to flip that back around. These blogs were only meant to be brief little updates about my personal and professional life, sort of like a behind-the-scenes type of thing. And now that I’m switching it back to the way it should be, I just need to work on writing more non-blog content. Easy, right?
One idea I’ve had—and one I know I’ve had before—is to create a sort of content calendar, or content schedule. Specifically, I would be designating certain days of each week to writing content for a specific category, and make sure to post something new for that category on the same day each week. What I like about this plan is that every seven days, each category would get new content. This would also help me to accrue more pillar content, which has been very slow coming.
I’d also mentioned kind of veering more toward freelancing and career tips and product reviews while making the science stuff just an occasional thing. I just don’t feel like there’s quite as much of an audience for science as there is the other stuff, at least from websites that aren’t as credible as Science Daily and the numerous others. So I’m kind of thinking I’ll focus on the things that I’m most knowledgable about and experienced with.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing lots and lots of research and reading about freelance writing careers. Mine has come a long way since I started out a few years back, but lately it seems like I’ve hit some sort of glass ceiling or stasis where my career just hasn’t been progressing in the way that it was before. And since I hope to publish a book someday—assuming I ever have the time to write it—I’m very interested in finding ways to strengthen my presence in the industry. According to what I’ve read, the best way to do this is to find opportunities to contribute to web and print publications with substantial readership such as Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Inc., and so on. Of course, that’s much easier said than done. You don’t just send an unsolicited email to a Forbes editor, saying, “Oh, hey there. My name is Dane and I’m going to be a Forbes writer, okay?”
Just like any other industry, you work your way up to the really good gigs and the notoriety they usually come with, so this isn’t going to be an overnight feat. And while I have a couple small trophies in my closet, they’re nothing compared to what writers with a decade or more experience have on their résumés. Expectedly, this is going to take some time, but I’m very driven so I’m confident that something will pan out eventually.
I’ve been trying to improve my website lately, too. Visually, I like the general look of my site, at the the theme that’s on it. I’ve still not found the winning layout yet. My bounce rate is much higher than I’d like, which means that visitors who come to my site aren’t able to quickly and easily access other information that might interest them, so they leave. However, speed is a very major factor in that, too.
Before I made any changes, it was taking my site about 3.5 seconds to load. That’s certainly not the worst in the world, but considering e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay usually load in under a second—and because Google kept rating my website’s response time at a piss-poor 49/100—I started looking into ways of making it faster. I stumbling across some sites that offered codes that can be copied and pasted into some of core files that run my website, but that was only a marginal improvement. Soon I started reading about “minifying” and “content delivery networks”, which, respectively, condense your website’s code and caches that code on servers all over the world. This means that my website was reduced to a much smaller amount of data, and that there are more servers storing that data around the world, allowing users to download my website data from servers located much closer to them than Bluehost’s servers here in the States. The content delivery networks, or CDNs, were particularly mind-blowing to me as I wasn’t aware something like that existed. Now I have three content delivery networks—MaxCDN, CloudFlare, and jsDelivr on top of Bluehost’s own servers—caching my website, and according to page speed tests my site is loading in barely more than a second. BOOM.
Since I’ve been getting a much heavier workload lately than in previous months, I’m also trying to develop a stricter writing/working schedule. There are so many useful resources on the internet about productivity and time management, even a number of resources specifically for freelance writers who work from home like I do. It’s just been getting a little tricky staying on top of my workload while making sure that everything else on my plate gets done, too. However, don’t take this as whining. I’m thrilled and thankful to have a heavy workload.
In other news, Michael and I bought new living room furniture last week. Or to be more specific, we placed our order for new living room furniture, which won’t actually get delivered for six weeks. Aside from that agonizing wait, we’re really excited about it. Michael had planned on getting a new dining room table first, but when he found out that with his discount we could get a new living room group for basically the same price he decided to wait on the table. I’m not that crazy about it because it has bench seating and looks a lot like a picnic table to me, but Michael really loves it so if that’s the one he wants then it’s fine by me.
We both really love the living room furniture though. The sofa—from Ashley’s Julesburg collection—is technically a sectional, but we’re not getting a configuration wraps around the room. It’s going to look like a normal couch, but on one end is what’s called the “cuddler”. The cuddler is what it’s called when an end of the couch sort of transitions into a more fan-like shape so that it becomes deeper, which is meant to provide enough space for two people to cuddle (hence its name).
If you look at the picture above, that’s the Julesburg sectional, but ours will only be the right side. It’ll begin with the cuddler piece on the right end, and then it’ll stop right after the double cushions where there will be an arm to end it. In effect, we’re getting the Julesburg couch above, but in this configuration:
It was quite a journey trying to get this couch. The Julesburg isn’t on display in the showroom of the nearby store, and although that wouldn’t necessarily mean it can’t be ordered, Ashley is only making like one of each piece of the Julesburg per week. We even thought for a minute that it had been discontinued, but the second we learned that there was some Julesburg in stock, we ordered.
I guess that’s about all I have to share for the moment. Hopefully I’ll be putting my content schedule into effect this week, but I may have to get my workload under control first. So it’ll either be this week or next, and I may even create a special page for the content schedule… possibly. Until then, it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get to work.