ABCs of Freelance Writing: K is for Kiss This

lipstick kissThis post is part of the ABCs of Freelance Writing series. See the full index of posts here.

K is for Kiss This

It’s safe to admit it here. Your fellow freelance writers know that “kiss this” is what you really want to say to that client who keeps promising that the check is in the mail.

It’s how you want to sign your final email to the dude who’s requesting revision number eight—not because you are too daft to follow the original instructions, but because he keeps changing his honking mind.

Start Grading Your Clients

Sometimes Freelancing is hard work, and it can be tempting to lose your cool and let off some steam in a snarky email to a difficult client. Fortunately, the Freelancers Union has come up with a better way for you to deal with difficult, deadbeat clients. It’s called the Client Scorecard, and its one way that freelancers are demanding accountability and integrity from the people and companies they work with.

Straight from the Freelancers Union

Here’s what the Freelancers Union has to say about their nifty little scorecard:

This tool allows you to rate companies—good and bad—as well as check out potential clients before accepting a gig. Let us know all about your experience by rating companies you’ve freelanced for through the newly launched Client Scorecard. Did they pay you on time? Was there a struggle to get a contract? Were they paying market rate? Over time, we hope this platform will allow freelancers to help and protect each other and hopefully keep the corporate world just a little more honest.

So what do you say? Feel like joining freelance designers, writers, and others in giving karma a helping hand?

Photo credit: dave

468x60 logo on right side and green

Land of Linkin'

It might seem like it, but I don’t actually spend all of my time writing for Suess’s Pieces. Here are some other pieces I’ve written recently:

paper workProfile of a Small Business Grant Writer

On the Small Business Bonfire, I discuss what traits small business owners need to become effective grant writers and get their grant applications noticed. If you’re thinking about grants as a way to expand your small business or solo-preneurship, check it out.

girl at workHow to Land Your First Freelance Client

Leora Wenger graciously hosted my guest post on getting started as a freelance writer. There are many ways to break into the business; this is how it happened for me. If you’re thinking about starting a freelance career, you might find this post helpful.

bears fightingKnow Your Conflict Management Style

Another post for the Small Business Bonfire, this article will get you thinking about how you handle conflict—in the workplace or anywhere—and what you can do to handle difficult situations more effectively.


Thumbnail Credits:
paperwork : forwardcom
girl at work : channah
bears : cece

Family Tree Maker 2010

Why Color Theory Is Your Friend

By Leora Wenger of Websites for Small Biz

color wheel

You know how to write. You have taken various English classes, you have used a thesaurus, you have edited your friends’ papers. Why would you need to know anything about color theory? Isn’t knowing how to write good enough?

Let’s start with what you don’t want to do with your blog.

  • Use a blue font on a black background.
  •  Choose a busy background with many different bright colors.
  •  Pick two opposite colors (say, red and green) as the main colors of your site.

Why? Because consciously or unconsciously, readers will get irritated and not want to read your content. In contrast, learn a little about color theory. Take a look at the color wheel, and note which colors are opposite one another. Rarely do green and red or blue and orange work well on a website.

How to make the colors of your blog page work in your favor.

  • Choose a color palette. There are fun websites that can help you make color choices:  Colour LoversColor BlenderKuler by Adobe.
  • Whenever possible, use black as the color and white as the background for a body of text. This doesn’t mean you can’t use color at all, but use it for areas of the page that are not the main content. Images often look great on a black or dark background, but light text on a dark background is hard to read. If you want to use two contrasting colors, you might want to test the colors with this tool: Colour Contrast Check.
  • Rethink fancy link colors. I had used red as a link color on one of my blogs; a reader who is colorblind told me he found the link hard to differentiate from the text. I have since switched on that blog to bright blue, which is more standard as a link color.
  • When choosing an image for a post, do its colors work with the overall color scheme? If you find your post images are often clashing with your blog background, you might want to choose a simpler blog background.
  • Learn about color associations. For example, blue subconsciously implies security. Green is often earthy, and purple signifies royalty. You can learn more about color choices from this post on color theory and the meaning of color.

Can you remember any sites that had an awful use of colors? Any sites with colors that worked smoothly and beautifully? Unless you are purposely looking for well-designed sites, you may not even notice that the designer chose colors that work together.

About Leora: Leora Wenger builds websites for small businesses, libraries and three Rutgers University departments. She loves tweaking PHP, composing a striking web design, stretching WordPress, and publicizing sites. In her spare time she’s a mom, wife and daughter. Every now and then she squeezes in the time to paint a watercolor or two.

Top 6 Reasons You Need to Decorate Your Cubicle

obligatory cubicle photo

Straight, Childless, Has Personal Life (Sorta)

If you truly enjoy your job, it’s probably because you have a sense of humor. Today’s post is dedicated to every employee who ever needed a laugh to get through the day, but especially to those who know what it’s like to do time at the cube farm.

Without further ado, here are the top 6 reasons you need to decorate your cube, like, pronto.

If you don’t decorate your cubicle, one of your prank-pulling co-workers will.

Remember that one time Kate left for a doctor’s appointment, and when she came back someone had pinned photos of a shirtless Mark Paul Gosselaar to her cube walls?

Although personal decorations aren’t 100% effective at preventing such tragedies, their removal adds a level of difficulty, forcing the prankster to re-evaluate whether the stunt is actually worth it.

Decorate, and your boss will automatically assume you’re in it for the long haul.

Simply install a Dilbert calendar, a photo of your cat, and a few paperweights, and then delight in your boss’s false sense of security as he tells his boss, “This one is going to stay. She really likes it here, I can tell.” And, who knows, with your boss a little more relaxed, you might actually want to stay.

You can get sick, come to work, and still feel like you’re resting at home.

So you’re still hourly and you don’t get paid sick leave? No biggie, just buy one of those pretty boxes of Kleenex like you have on your nightstand.

For over-the-top comfort, plug a vaporizer into your power strip and hang up one of those classy, adhesive 3M hooks for that moment your fever breaks and you no longer need the Snuggie.

Your co-workers will have an easier time making assumptions about your personal life.

Married? Single? Gay? Straight? Children? Pets? Christian? Branch Davidian? One framed photo can answer all of these questions and more, giving that guy in accounting the green light to make the off-color joke he’s been holding onto since you started.

Other items that make stereotyping a breeze include Glee screensavers, crosses of any kind, Tribbles, and four or more iPhone accessories located within the same two-foot radius.

You won’t mistake your cubicle for Brad’s cubicle.

At least not again, because—oh em gee—all of these things do look the same. It’s not your fault the only thing differentiating your cubicle from Brad’s is an extra layer of keyboard plaque. You’re new here. What’s Brad’s excuse?

To easily find your place in the maze, go for that one item no one else has—maybe a Doom mouse pad, a snow globe from Door County, Wisconsin, or an autographed photo of Jim Neighbors.

Now tell me what’s in your cube. (Or show me by attaching a photo to your comment).

Photo credit: ba1969

The Small Business Bonfire & Me

Small Business BonfireI am not being compensated for writing this post. However, I do have something to gain from the Bonfire’s growth.

Several months ago, Alyssa Gregory put out a call for contributors for a new site she was starting, Small Business Bonfire.

I contacted her and a short while later was offered a spot as a contributor for the site’s blog and monthly newsletter. My first small business article for the site—a piece on direct mail marketing—was published back in March.

I also joined the site (you can join for free, you know) for a couple of reasons. First, it’s good business practice for freelance writers to be involved in their clients’ networks and communities. This participation may take different forms depending on the client, but I try to always remember that helping clients is good for my business too.

Second, the Bonfire network is in and of itself valuable to me as a small business owner. I’ve gained something by being a part of the community, and I believe all good things should be shared.

One of the cool new things I learned about while at the Bonfire is the Hello Bar. It is awesome for drawing attention to important messages on my blog. Maybe you noticed that orange bar up there urging you to subscribe to my blog’s feed when you came to Suess’s Pieces today? That’s the free version, and I have a few Hello Bar invites left if you’d like to try it out on your own site. Just leave me a comment.

If you’re self-employed or hope to be, I think you’d really like life around the Bonfire. I’ll even let you pick my brain without charging you my consulting fee.

Genealogy Challenges: Identifying Ancestors is Not for the Feint Hearted

old family photo genealogyby Gael McCarte

Digging for ancestral roots is not for the feint hearted.

My father’s Scottish accent, his expressions like “wee lambies”, “hen”, “duck”, and his insistence that my English mother pressure cook tripe and Scottish Broth provided our cultural frame in Australia.  We were Scots. Even non Scots agree “if you are lucky enough to be Scottish, then you are lucky enough.”

Scots have been described as “…some of the kindest, most generous people… the pace of (Highland) life is gentler than that elsewhere…”  I own that.

My Scottish ancestors were entrepreneurs, a baker with a string of bakery stores and a butcher who owned a number of shops, females both.

My grandfather lived in the old Gorbals.  His WW1 Royal Dublin Fusilier regiment was all but annihilated at Gallipoli.  Lucky to survive, he went to the Western front.  In a book written by one who was there was a photograph of blinded men.  With bandages or one hand over their eyes, other hand on the shoulder of the one in front they stood.  My granddad was blinded there.  In the confusion he was demobbed to Wales, near the fire station in Flynt.  Another researcher’s grandmother (as a girl) remembered the stir when the blinded Scot came to town.  Tradesmen were in short supply and high demand, so with help he opened a carpentry business.   My online contact would take photographs of the area and return the disposable camera so I could develop the pictures.  I never heard from him or my camera again.  Another on line researcher sent me historical photographs.

I claim this history as grandparents fighting at Gallipoli confirms an Australian’s personhood.

Innuendo whispered that my English roots were potted plants, gypsies. I dismissed it, focusing on my English grandmother.   I procured her birth certificate.  It was not hers, it belonged to her namesake with the same birthday.   My English research screeched to a halt.

Our maternal grandfather owned a store.  He sold from the store and from his horse and cart as he drove wares to the countryside.  A rag and bone man, he also sold horses.   We had pugilists, circus owners and performers in our tree.

Somehow the “therefore” eluded me.  My cousin discovered that our maternal grandfather, the rag and bone man was a full-blooded Celtic gypsy.  Taking his mother’s name, the identity of his father remains unknown.  Illiterate, he loved to be read to.

Travellers call themselves Minceir or Pavees. In Irish they’re Lucht Siúil, meaning “the walking people”.  Some books idealize their life on the road, some call travellers “cons”, “tinkers” while others claim traveller life involves alcoholism, violence and grinding poverty.  Some of these books have input from travellers, some do not.

Travellers experienced enforced showers and separation from other children at school, inadequate education and stigmatization within the greater community as adults.

The destruction of traveller camps that leaves bewildered children homeless has spawned supporting social media sites.  On one “Jimbo” wrote “i was born a tinker ill tell u no lie a tinker ill live and a tinker ill die now dont get me wrong i carry no shame the lord made me a tinker and im proud ov me name.”

A non traveller, reviewing a documentary where Scottish travellers were harassed by Police wrote “I couldn’t believe…the levels of bigotry they face(d) everywhere … it was shocking…they were basically told nobody wanted them in their town (so) they moved on…2011 can you believe it?”

Responses to the 2011 series, “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” range from

“I … struggle to see what the ‘Traveller community’ contributes to our society. They cheat our old people, turn rural towns into battlegrounds, and raise children who have no aspiration except to join the ‘welfare queue’… friendly or devout, they seem to be in a cul de sac, not good for them or the rest of us”, to “I have been in travelling people’s camps many years ago and found them friendly and respectful, unlike the racist stereo types you lot are portraying.”

I equally embrace my Scottish and my traveller genes.  As the renown historian and philosopher (Pop Eye) said, “I yam what I yam”.

What have you unearthed digging up your family’s past?

Photo credit: yarnh


Gael is a psychologist, marriage and family therapist, part of a team of forensic psychologists intervening with offenders in the Department of Justice, and a consultant and mediator within the Family Court. She is also a wife and mother to 3 as well as a published author, blogger, and seminar speaker.