Week 3

Decisions are a part of life and most of us face a whole host of them on a daily basis. They can be both big and small and we all have our own ways of dealing with them, depending on the magnitude of the particular problem at hand.

For example: choosing what clothes to wear because Melbourne’s weather is so unpredictable, or whether to have peanut butter or cheese on your morning toast (have both, with a splash of hot sauce too), or whether to have another beer when you know that you’re already going to wake up with a stonking hangover.

You get the idea; all very tough choices.

However, despite it being a life-changing moment, my decision to try to write for a living seemed to be a relatively simple one. Well, it took me 28 years, numerous shitty office jobs and a trip to the other side of the world before the penny dropped, but once it did, that was it.

So, now that the dust has settled on that easy- yet-gigantic choice, numerous others have since arisen which are probably going to require a dash of logic and sensibility to overcome.

Without delving into all of them straight away, as that would be boring, I’ll just focus on one that features quite prominently in my mind at the moment – what will my niche be?

This question was pitched to me from my mate at The Guardian and was more focused towards journalism, rather than writing in general. However, it has got me wondering whether I should carve my niche now, or not pigeonhole myself and to continue creating a rather diverse portfolio of work.

I then scanned over a piece from a blogger by the name of Damyanti, where she explored writing out of your comfort zone. Whilst the post was directed towards creative writing, I think it’s an interesting notion for anyone in the industry to ponder.

For me, writing out of my comfort zone would be taking on projects with alien subjects. So, although it’s important to find my niche (I already have an idea what that is), I should be taking on as many topics as possible, as this can only be beneficial to my development. I’d hate the thought of going stale and regurgitating old tripe over and over again. Decision made; don’t focus on my niche just yet and play the field a bit more.

Continuing on with this theme; one choice I made last week has been the determining factor behind a slight lack of activity over the past few days, and even though it was a bit of a mistake, it’s one which I’ve made at the right time.

You see, I opted not to apply for any further work, so not to over-face myself. However, with one project requiring input from others before I can continue and another client deferring that job for a week, my workload was suddenly depleted.

My experience in sales roles should have told me that you need a constant stream of leads, and that’s something which I can’t afford to forget when I eventually become self-employed on a permanent basis – another valuable lesson learnt.

So, after completing my ongoing assignment with the betting company, I then focused all of my attentions to the piece for the environmental company. After some initial struggles with the keywords not quite fitting the subject, I managed to alter a few of the variables and by the end of my Business Time (see Week 2) on Tuesday, it was finished and sent over for review.

I’ve still not actually heard back though, so I will chase it up this evening. I’m sincerely hoping that it’s just a case of the client being busy, but there’s the chance that this could be another first…

Anyway, back to this week; by Wednesday, I was scratching around for work and so I took to the job boards again.

From reading other tales of those who have been in similar situations to me, I’ve found that everyone seems to have their favourite online spots for finding jobs, and what works for me might not work for you.

Last month, I was reading one guy’s blog who was a staunch advocate of elance.com, so I signed up to there. But, for me, it just seemed ‘proper shit’ (as they say in Manchester). Now, that’s not to say that it won’t work for someone else; it’s just not for me.

Another chap recommended pro-blogger.com, but most jobs posted on there seem a bit too high profile for little old me at the moment, so that’s just one I’m keeping an eye on for the time-being.

I’ve then come across sites such as bubblews.com and postloop.com – both come across as being utter bullshit and just completely untrustworthy. They’ll be avoided like the plague from here on in.

So, onto the site where I’ve had most luck – Gumtree.com. Every application that I’ve put in on there so far has had a positive response (actually, there was one submission which didn’t get any feedback, but the advert was a few weeks old so I’m discounting it).

After finding one listing on Wednesday which seemed quite interesting, I put an enquiry in and received a response back today. It looks like it could be quite a meaty affair from what the client has said, so I’ve scheduled to call him over the weekend to discuss further, as per his request.

With other jobs, I’ve left the pay rates to one side for the time-being, as my priority has been gaining experience and I’m receiving income from other sources. However, going by my gut instincts, I definitely want to agree the fee up front in this instance.

Elsewhere this week; I’ve posted another piece on my football site and I’ve had some positive news regarding a travel blog pitch that I’m discussing, but I’m not going to disclose any more on that just yet as it’s still early days.

All-in-all, despite not been overly productive, I’m still moving ahead and progressing, so it’s just about applying a bit of patience with the projects that are currently out of my hands.

The slight respite has meant that over the last two days I’ve been able to revisit my novel, which has been neglected in recent weeks. Hopefully I can give it regular attention from here on in.