Phone Phobia: A Freelancer Conundrum

I hate the phone.

Remember as a teenager when you liked the phone? Each ring represented possibility. It could be a friend you were dying to talk to about all that had transpired during the day, or it could be that boy you were hoping would ask you to some nameless dance, even though said boy had no idea who I was. (Yes, the change in pronouns just now was deliberate. Ugh. I hated high school too. Maybe even more than the phone)

Of course, just as often, the phone could be parents checking in, or telemarketers, or even, gods forbid, the school reporting on an unexplained absence or something otherwise suspect. Somehow that never seemed to bother. That whole stereotypical imperviousness, that insensible optimism or egotism ascribed to teenagers, held sway, and instead the phone became our own personal plaything, something for our pleasure.

As with so many other things that change with a bit of age, so goes the favored view of the phone. I can’t pinpoint when my hatred of the phone began in earnest, but I can specify the result. Today I view the phone as a leech, sucking away time and energy. It’s an insensitive beast, breaking into my concentration, taking me away from whatever paying or nonpaying project is consuming my mind. Sure, the unfamiliar number ringing on my phone could be a new prospect calling, or a current client with a compliment, or something else surprising and positive. But the cynicism of being older than a teenager holds sway now, painting that ringing phone as something surely to be a pain in the ass.

The real reason the phone irks me so? I think I’ve figured it out. It puts me at a disadvantage. I’m a person of the written word, most comfortable when I can say something ridiculous or uncouth or merely unfocused, and then rework it to make it presentable. I like drafts, of all my marketing and magazine projects, even of emails. The phone is so here and now. It won’t let me revise. And that makes me uncomfortable, nervous, and sweaty.

In my freelancing, then, I try to gently steer people towards emailing. I indicate to clients, for example, that I am much more responsive via email. I attempt to be as proactive as possible with them, emailing updates when they haven’t been requested, checking in on professional and personal lives, and making my emails clean, crisp and eminently readable. In that way I show how easy and preferred email communication can be with me. When it comes to marketing, I forgo the dreaded cold calling (ugh, I get nauseous just thinking about it) and make my marketing frequent and unique, with a different email or print communication method each quarter.

When it comes to the times when I simply can’t avoid the phone, I try to be as prepared as possible. I set up times to talk with clients and prospects, emphasizing how much better it will be when we’re both prepped and ready to speak about a current project. And that helps tremendously.

That’s my way of dealing with phone phobia. So what do you think: Am I a wuss? Do you have phone qualms?

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Keeping the Pipeline Flowing

I often write for companies in the medical realm, where the term “pipeline” is all-important. Companies focus on the here and now, selling their products and increasing brand awareness and loyalty, all for the goal of making profit. But they also keep an eye on the future. They invest much time and money in creating the next product, the next big thing that will support the company and increase profits. They focus on the pipeline of new, business-building and sustaining products and activities, and therefore find success

The “pipeline” is also an important concept for freelancers. We may have full calendars now and in the weeks to come, but we can never stop planning for the future. We must ensure a continual flow of assignment and projects.

I just finished up a crazy week of multiple deadlines, sneaking right under the wire with the last one. I’d really like to take a break right now. But the problem is this – the pipeline is looking a little weak. I committed the ultimate freelancing sin – I sacrificed time from my daily schedule usually devoted to marketing so that I could make those multiple deadlines. So no matter that I’m a little burned out, and no matter that J and I are frantically prepping for a move next week, I gotta double-time it and line up some more work.

That’s one of the biggest adjustments people must make when they move to independent work. At your regular 9 to 5 you could count on one aggravating, mind-blowing, frustratingly constant thing – the work was always there. No need to go trolling the halls asking your peers for more to do (and if you did have extra time, the interwebs awaited). With independent work, with that constant that we continually bitched about removed, we sort of want it back. Because now we have to hustle and flow, make our own rain and pay our bills through sheer miracles.

Lesson learned, and lesson shared: always mind the pipeline. No matter if you’re busy, make time for consistent marketing, even just a little bit each day. I know it’s paid off for me in the past; it will again in the future. Poor planning and neglecting marketing, on the other hand, gets you where I am: mighty stressed.

By the way: tune in each Wednesday for ideas on how to fill your daily marketing time.

The QRW Makes a Schedule

I like knowing what to expect. Call me a creature of habit, but I like knowing that almost every Wednesday night I have date night with J, that Friday nights we’re probably going to order sushi, that Saturday afternoons we hit LaBamba for a burrito lunch and then go book shopping. Patterns and routines can be boring if you let them, and it may be surprising to see someone that enjoys being quietly rebelliousprofess a love for habit. But I find routine can be constantly made new and exciting, while still being comforting.

Same goes for my web reading and blog visiting. I like knowing what to expect. I like knowing, for example, that although the insights will change and tidbits differ, I will find something freelance friendly and helpful everyday at Freelance Switch or Freelance Folder. I will find snarkiness and feminist quirk aplenty at Jezebel. And the list goes on throughout my blogroll.

I want to offer that same sort of quiet joy and comfort to my readers here at QuietRebelWriter. My goal with this blog is to spark freelance success for writers and creativity for all, by showing ways to flout the rules and thereby enrich your life. I want to be on your daily reading list, zipping into your RSS reader through subscription and into your Firefox or Explorer. So I’m telling you what you can expect. I’m telling you now, clearly and decisively, with excitement and a little scaredy-cat flutterings, what you will find here, and when.

Need more background? Wondering where the hell you just landed? Here’s some help, and here, and here.

Quiet Rebel Writer List of Contents:

Monday: Mondays are tough: ease into the week with a Monday Date, using lyrics, excerpts, poems, scenes and more to break the block and get a creative kick.

Tuesday: Freelancing lifestyle, issues, frustrations and joys in Tuesday’s Freelance Frenzy. Plus, tune in for a handy link round-up. Some of the best and the brightest from the past week.

Wednesday: Live vicariously through my attempts to get that damn novel published in Publishing Aspirations, and learn about tips, resources, and more in your own efforts. Plus, find a book to add to your case with Books to Read.

Thursday: Marketing successes and failures in Marketing Maven. Read about the transcendent power of writing with Writers who Matter.

Friday: At the end of week, all restraint is gone. It’s time for a well-mannered Rant, plus the new crazy sweeping the nation (or at least my office): Word Porn.

Until tomorrow.

UPDATE March 14: Ah geez. So the first week of the schedule is done, and I biffed it. I missed a few promised postings. Stupid loft closing. It eats up some time to own a piece of Chicago, all 1600 sq ft of it. But at least you know my plan, dear readers. And I’ll do my best to stick to it. :)