When I got the news, I spent time commiserating with the staff. It was a great magazine, loved by 625,000 readers. Beautifully produced. Super high quality editorial. I was proud to be a part of it for its entire 10-year lifespan. Proud to be friends with the very smart people who edited and designed it.
But I couldn’t spend much time wringing my hands or theirs, or even contemplating what it meant for the future of print journalism. Maybe later. It was time to move on. I had work to do. I thought I’d share some of the steps I’ve taken since NGA folded. This will always happen to us as freelance writers. Clients will go away. Magazines will fold, businesses will go belly-up, or staff turnover will bring change of direction. Clients might stop using us, or use us less. Here’s what I’ve been up to:
1. I reminded myself that this is normal. And good, really. When everything remains the same, we can get stagnant, complacent. It’s good to hustle. And to remember that there are lots of markets, millions of opportunities out there. It’s exciting to be reminded of that.
2. I got my homepage, my platform, in order: bobhowells.com. I want editors and ad clients to have easy access to snippets of my portfolio. I’d gotten lazy about this. I had a steady gig. I didn’t have to sell myself much.
I did the site on my own. It cost nothing other than domain registration and hosting. If you don’t have clips available online—a résumé of some sort, do it. It will pay off. You don’t have to be a tech wizard. I’m certainly not. But I’m a journalist whose business it is to dive in and understand stuff. I applied my instincts to this process. You can too. Or just hire some help.
3. I contacted clients I’d worked for in the past. You know, just checking in. And by the way, I have this cool idea…. My electrician did the same the other day, and I gave him a job right off. I got a great print assignment almost right away, and put down the groundwork for more.
4. I checked in with other writers and bloggers. The grapevine is buzzing. It always pays off to find out what others are up to. As always, I’m touched by the generosity of my fellow freelancers.
Interestingly, I hear far fewer sour attitudes than in tough times past. We all recognize that the landscape is changing. Change can be painful, but the great thing is, media is becoming so dispersed that we’re more than ever the masters of our own fates.
5. I stepped up activity on Facebook and Twitter. Not to waste time, but to raise my presence and to network.
6. I kept up with my posts here, and jotted down many, many ideas for future posts.
7. I followed my own advice in this post. Especially the part about focus. In just two highly focused hours, I wrote something I’m extremely proud of.
8. I continued my education in Internet marketing. I will be sharing much more about this in the future. We as writers are in a strong position to succeed in Internet marketing, to parlay our skills as communicators into great success online. I pay keen attention to two mentors in particular, Chris Farrell and James Schramko. (Those are my affiliate links to their sites.) I urge anyone looking for a fresh outlet to try either or both of these guys, at least for a trial period.
9. I read or thumbed through books on entrepreneurism and wealth building. I thought Gary Vaynerchuk’s short Crush It! was superb for its specifics and practicality. (Grammar Ranter wishes he could have edited it, though.) Christopher Howard’s Instant Wealth—Wake Up Rich was more “ya gotta believe,” but full of inspiration—his and that of some of the world’s most successful people. (Yep, those are my Amazon links.)
10. I meditated.