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Keeping the Writing Passion Alive

cubicle_feverAs a professional writer who has found himself writing commercial sales and promotion content exclusively, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to please myself with my writing. Sure, personal satisfaction is expected to be farther down the ladder when it comes to creating commercial content that spreads and sells, but when you begin to lose interest in any of your work, you also begin to lose appreciation for it as well. This might seem hard to believe for some of you out there who are still in the “I’d run over an old lady with a garbage truck for a regular paying gig” stage, but it happens I assure you. Even the hungriest writer can become complacent after a year or two of writing sales copy over and over, and there is little you can do to make the process enjoyable once it becomes rote.

So how to keep the fire alive? That’s a question I’ve asked myself many times, and personally, I’ve found probably two things that really keep me going.

First of I occasionally cheat. Yep, you read right, I cheat like a desperate college student who spent half the semester partying instead of studying. To put it in context though, my cheating consists of finding ways to inject a little bit of my own personality and style into pieces wherever I can. Now, while this certainly isn’t practical or advisable when trying to put together an informative page of sales copy, it can be quite productive when performing link building or brand awareness.

As an example, I have a client who is heavily into link building strategy. They’ll want promotional copy produced and distributed every day, usually to sites of their choosing. Oftentimes however, I have been able to steer them towards specialized accounts with sites in related fields which allow the addition of content and a couple links purely in exchange for the addition of said content to their site. In these cases, since I am sole creator and manager of this content distribution setup, I get to produce my own voice, my own content, and work in my own style. While I am still constrained by my clients particular niche’ and the need to represent their brand, I still managed to find an avenue of free expression that allows me to touch on a variety of subjects which interest me as well as relate to my clients business focus.

Sure there are constraints, but if you know your client well and understand their business, the chances are good that providing them with self published content can produce a big payoff in the form of increased revenue and the ability to maintain some semblance of sanity. Even marketing or producing content about items such as lighting or airguns has for me proven to be fertile ground for such a strategy. I have had many times where although I was at a boredom and frustration spawned impasse with a regularly scheduled piece of commercial content, putting aside that piece in favor of throwing together an opinion-ed piece related to that client and publishing it on one of my own platforms literally broke me out of that impasse.

Of course, in order for such a plan to work you have to bring the client onboard with the idea. Clients are often leery of giving up most control over content, and even more so control over where it is published. I have found, however, that with most clients this is pretty easy to do, especially when I mention that not only will they be getting exposure, but linkbacks as well. Combine that with a reasonable cost, and most savvy business owners won’t hesitate to give it a shot.

As long as your work to date has served them well, selling them on the idea of giving you free reign to produce, distribute and manage publication of content can often be a viable way to augment your income while keeping your creative needs satisfied, and all while providing the client with good value.

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Energy Efficiency, Conservation, and the Politics of Light Bulbs

As I’ve alluded to in my yearly updates (AHEM), I’ve been rather busy. Servicing four websites and providing over 12,000 words of content per month has left me precious little time for my personal efforts. Unfortunately, my personal efforts include actually trying to stay current with SEO practices and search engine algorithms, so apparently I can write off actual PERSONAL personal time completely if my writing is to remain effective for my clients.

 

Regardless, I’ve been itching to get some of my startups off the ground, but in order to do that it’s necessary to also wake up my other outlets, including this blog. Hopefully this’ll turn out to resemble the awakening of a delicate spring flower into spectacular bloom more so than poking a hibernating and hungry bear with a stick. Although I truly enjoy writing in and of itself, and I’ve done fairly well income wise with it over the last few years, it’s beyond time that I began monetizing other online avenues.

 

So what does all this have to do with light bulbs and politics you ask? Well, not much really, beyond answering the other question I am routinely asked when I tell others I write for a living, which is, “what do you write”? Well, the following is a piece that exemplifies the type of content I churn out weekly. If you make it through the whole piece, either you have more time on your hands than I do, or you have a lighting fetish.

 

At any rate, this is what I do, and although it isn’t going to be on the bestseller lists any time soon, it does make it to print and digital publication, and I get paid. According to Stephen King, if you write something and someone pays you for it, and you pay bills with that check, you are a writer. I’ll take that rationalization thank you very much. So without further ado, it’s nice to be back, and follow along as I show you the wonder and excitement that is the lighting industry!

 

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US Dominance in Alternative Energy and Energy Efficient Technologies

20 years ago there were very few people who would have thought that international competitiveness to be number one would involve much of anything outside military, aerospace or, computer technologies. The last thing anyone probably expected would be a race to be the top producer of the most efficient and environmentally safe technologies on earth. Yet that is precisely what is taking place right now among countries such as the United States, China, India, and Taiwan.

 

Global concerns about climate change, limited energy production, meeting the energy demands of growing populations in developing countries, and the fear engendered by the latest international economic slump have all coalesced into a concerted determination among competing nations to develop new sustainable energy technologies and improve the efficiency and practicality of existing technologies. This new focus on efficiency has at its core more than a simple desire to better the planet for future generations. National leaders and energy industry experts have rightly identified this push for energy efficient technology as one of the new, if not THE new dominant form of economic growth and international supremacy.

 

Underscoring the reality of this determination to be leaders in green technologies are the record levels of government involvements with funding such development. In the United States, the Department of Energy has been steadily speeding the funding of LED production in order to remain competitive with Asian countries which have been quickly grabbing the lion’s share of the LED market. Countries such as China and Korea have been aggressively increasing their investments in LED lighting technologies over the past few years and are now among the main suppliers for the international LED markets.

 

As of right now, the United States DOE is actively seeking applications for funding of research and development of LED lighting technologies, which it will be doing until December 15 of this year as part of its efforts to combat this and maintain US competitiveness. This is the third such round of funding efforts geared towards the US development of LEDs and improvements in production, and offers 10 million dollars for qualifying applicants to apply to research and production. Overall, funding of LED manufacturing, research, and development in the US has been spurred by millions in recovery act funding, 28 million in federal funding, and an additional 36 million in private sector funding as well over the past few years.

 

While this may seem a fairly positive direction for the US to take, countries such as China and South Korea have been pouring massive resources into LED development and instituting comprehensive lighting regulations geared towards spurring demand for efficient lighting under a clear determination to achieve full dominance in the field. China has already achieved a leading role in the production of LEDs and incandescent lighting and is aggressively developing its capability to corner the LED markets as well. With China already holding the majority of the rare earth metals critical to the development and production of LEDs, and leveraging this supply to increase its value and thus its cost, it has already been able to directly reduce the effectiveness of competing efforts in other countries.

 

In the last year, the prices of rare earth minerals from China have seen a wild upswing with increases of up to 1,000% percent having been noted. This has served to slow the improved affordability of LED lighting technology and keep domestic demand in competing countries low. The result has been slower growth in LED development outside of China, with some manufacturers actually cutting production by up to 50% in the hopes of a decrease in the costs of rare earth metals in the near future.

 

The problem for the US is that its goals for energy efficiency are more closely aligned with reducing dependence on foreign energy sources such as fossil fuels rather than becoming the dominant developer of energy efficient technologies. While the availability of cheap LED lighting from countries such as China would serve to accelerate the attainment of these goals, it is also a double edged sword. Although the US would stand to benefit from cheap energy efficient lighting technology without the initial costs of funding an all out development war, the losses from failing to achieve dominance would be staggering. The economic growth and potential trade strength associated with control of alternative energy and efficiency technologies represents the chance to not only free ourselves from the grip of dependence on foreign energy sources, but to reverse this role and become a supplier of energy and efficiency technologies instead.

 

This is an opportunity that the United States simply cannot ignore or allow to slip away. Despite this critical importance, current efforts in Congress appear to be geared towards allowing just that to happen. With the current Republican focus on cutting spending and their efforts to shift focus from alternative energy technologies to increasing development of fossil fuel technology, Congress is poised to deal a major setback to the US in this race for leadership in energy efficiency.

 

While reduced spending at this time is certainly a laudable goal, such reductions must take into account the future position of the US on the world stage and the consequences of allowing that position to become weakend. Other legislative problems include a push to repeal or delay new lighting standards which would serve to further suppress and delay development of LED technology, and attempts to attach amendments to spending bills that would directly shift funds already allocated for development of alternative energy technologies to fossil fuel production research.

 

If such efforts in Congress are successful, the US will cede its position as a world technology leader to countries such as China and once again find itself dependent on foreign supplies for meeting its energy demands. The potential losses from reduced economic growth and job creation alone should serve as ample warning, and the long term effects for the US could mean a sustained period of depressed expansion or even contraction as other countries continue to gain ground.

 

Although many may feel that the United States cannot afford to continue aggressively funding alternative energy and efficiency technology, the simple truth is that we cannot afford not to, and should in fact increase this funding many fold in order to ensure the future economic and diplomatic strength of the United States.

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The Reality of Freelance Writing

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So I’ve been extremely busy. It’s strange how it seems one minute you are scrambling for work and jobs as a freelancer, and the next minute you’re so loaded down you wonder if you’ll ever keep up or have time to enjoy all that nonexistent freedom and flexibility that freelancing was supposed to bring with it. No, I’m certainly not complaining, although rather than moving ahead with my plan to achieve world domination through writing, I’ve only gotten so far as providing some clients with SERP’s domination, but I do believe I’ve gotten myself sidetrack a bit.

 

I had hoped to have by now published a small collection of humorous short stories, and perhaps landed a simple gig writing a weekly column. Instead, I have written perhaps 50 websites, and over 70,000 words of marketing copy. I’ve even taken on several side projects as favors and trades for services, such as building simple websites for folks who normally wouldn’t have one. I am certainly no fan of site building and would much prefer to simply write, but the moment you mention having some ability with HTML and the related software, you inevitably end up making at least one or five websites.

 

Truth be told, it has helped round me out a bit and provided valuable experience, (Website developers have a very tough job, they earn their pay) but it has eaten a great deal of the time I would normally spend keeping myself up to date on the latest developments in SEO and Google algorithm updates. The latter has bitten me square in ass and left me red faced recently, so scramble to get myself back on the SEO horse as well it is! I suppose I should be extremely thankful for my current position considering the current economic climate, and I am. I’ve even found a little time for a new air gun hobby courtesy of a new client.

 

But I do believe it is time for another round of introspection and evaluation. I expect I’ll be revamping my entire blog and site here to reflect a more focused direction in the near future, and can say with some certainty it won’t be so much ABOUT freelance writing as just plain practicing freelance writing. I hope to see some of my past visitors coming back, and certainly look forward to bringing in a whole slew more. With any luck, I’ll find that balance between engagement/entertainment and revenue I’ve been looking for without getting dismissed as a sellout.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to all three of you for stopping in and reading. :)

 

 

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My Desk is a Mess That Has Soul

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I don’t know what your spiritual views may be. I can be pretty assured you have some though since just about everyone does. From the early Aztecs and their somewhat unfriendly tendency to pull the beating heart from faithful schleps whose only mistake was to stay in town on holy day, to the positively benign by comparison Shi’ite Islamic fundamentalists willingness to beat themselves into a bloody mess during the Tiq Zani ritual, there’s a plenty wide range of beliefs out there to choose from. Kinda makes our own fire and brimstone Christian services here in the south seem downright social now that I think about it. I’m somewhat exempt from any of it though by virtue of my own unwillingness to concede any kind of belief until I have some authentication, which pretty well puts me on the spiritual group W bench with father rapers for the equivalent of littering. I do, however, sometimes imagine what spiritual beliefs I would subscribe to though if I were to make a choice.

Perhaps the most attractive to me is reincarnation. For some reason, the idea that we are doomed to repeat past life mistakes over and over until we get the point and thus further perfect our soul for its eventual meeting with its creator holds a certain degree of appeal. Sure, if I were to REALLY find myself reincarnated  after my demise I would promptly kill myself since there is no way in hell I’m going through all of this again, yet there still remains a certain amount of attractiveness to the idea. With a little more thinking on the matter, I’m on a roll here with the thinking stuff, I imagine this appeal is due to the possibilities reincarnation  holds for practicing denial and shifting blame; two things I’ve already admitted to occasionally finding quite useful. Especially when combined with Rum. You don’t end up on the group W bench for nothing you know.

For instance…

You would think that a guy who enjoys words enough to work with them for a living would be pretty well organized. You’d imagine him sitting at a stately oak desk with a row of prestigious books neatly arranged on the corner. There’d be a well stocked pencil holder full of sharpened pencils and shiny pens that actually work placed strategically next to the work area. You’d probably picture neatly arranged files, tabbed and labeled for easy reference arrayed in alphabetical order in his file cabinet and within easy reach. He’d have an uncluttered desktop and a neat little wastebin off to the side with precisely three crumpled pieces of paper lying in the bottom because by golly, this guy is serious enough to keep mistakes to a minimum.

Well, in my past life I was obviously a dyslexic compulsive hoarder because the inability to achieve anything resembling neatness and organization is the biggest reason for my currently higgledy piggledy state of existence. Apparently there was something I forgot when I embarked on this writing career of mine, in particular, that I am a disorganized slob. As pretty as the above picture is, the reality is cold and stark, a veritable wasteland in fact where organization and neatness go to die. Prestigious books? Well, if you count dog eared copies of Bloom County and Dean Koontz novels as literary greats then I guess it’s possible. I have all the classics; Huckleberry Finn, Gulliver’s Travels, War and Peace, Of Mice and Men and more do in fact reside in the same household as me. However, my spouse has wisely arranged them on ledges around the house, unmolested and safely out of my reach. My pencil holder is well stocked indeed although out of the fifty assorted pens and pencils there are approximately two pens that work, one of which contains lime green ink and none of the pencils has a point. I don’t even know where the pencil sharpener is although I do remember seeing it once. A moot point at best since there isn’t a doctor alive who can match me for mangled handwriting.

 I’m a great one for taking notes and keeping hold of important information. At first glance this would seem a good and promising glimmer of hope. Problem is, the contents of my file cabinet look more like something you’d find in a third grade teacher’s confiscated items drawer than anything else. There aren’t any files in there but if the in-laws are going to visit and I need to find a Whoopee cushion, I know exactly where to look. My actual notes and papers are spread all over in heaps as if a confetti stuffed piñata exploded over my desk. There are bills and notices, hastily scrawled bits of inspiration on half shredded paper napkins that I’ve long forgotten the inspiration behind, passwords and logins that I have no idea what they unlock, client notes and instructions that I somehow manage to remember even though coffee stains make them look more like Rorschach cards than anything and a whole host of miscellaneous detritus and random objects. Wastebasket? Not a one in sight. Since I’m not sure what half this stuff is, I throw nothing out until I am absolutely and positively certain I won’t need it again, which is about twice a year. Of course, three days after throwing the stuff out is when I end up needing it.

Lest you think this is a simple matter of bucking up and taking charge of things, consider that this has been my case since I first managed to get hold of a marker and the family photo album at the age of three. School was a nightmare and while the rest of the class had to turn in their notebooks for grading every semester, my teachers took one look at my lumpy book-bag and the trail of loose papers following me from class to class and decided to just take my word for it as long as my test scores stayed high. I still have vague memories of my English teacher praising my above average CAT’s while holding my notebook between thumb and forefinger as if it were radioactive.

It’s not that I haven’t tried. There have been periods where I’ve managed to maintain the appearance of tidy efficiency for weeks at a time. I’ve learned though that these attempts are in fact serious mistakes. Apparently, whatever forces are at work during the actual reincarnation process remain active during your lifetime in order to insure that should you catch on to what’s up, you still get your lumps. In this case, these brief periods of neatness only serve to cause an eventual explosion of disorganizational chaos. Things will roll along swimmingly and I’ll present to the world the happy and self congratulatory face of one who has their inner slob demons licked, then one day I’ll open the door to my room and it will appear as if a pack of rabid squirrels were fighting over a ten pound acorn on my desk. Far worse than the gentle and slow buildup I’m accustomed to, this will be a torrent of disorganization bursting forth like water from a dam. Everything in its path is obliterated and only time can allow things to once again resume their normal state of serene disarray. In these cases I usually just drag out the hefty lawn bags, scoop everything in, and resign myself to more of the status quo.

I’m told there are those whose offices are clean and tidy examples of happy efficiency. It might be true because I’ve seen things resembling this in corporate buildings. I’m a bit suspicious though because the mere fact that they pay someone to come in and do the cleaning smacks of conspiracy. I mean really, who pays someone to clean up their office? Messy people, that’s who. And I resent the picture of efficient neatness they foist on the rest of the world as if they never left a piece of paper out of place or a pencil unsharpened.

At any rate, let’s get back to spirituality.

If one day we should meet in another life? Kill me.

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Professional Writing Services

Smart business owners know there is no such thing as overnight success. They also know that today's marketplace is online. If you're in it for the long haul and are success minded, you need an online presence. I have helped many businesses increase their exposure, develop their branding, and grow their customer base through website design and content development.

Whether it's an online presence, or direct e-commerce application, I can help you make it happen. Best of all, I can do it cheaper and better than most.

Visit my business page Writingfourmylife.com to learn more.

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