Decorative Flower
Her Realm, Personal website and blog of Cole
Jun 15

Where In The World Is Cole?

I meant to post about my trip to California, which happened in April, but seeing how it’s been over a month since I posted anything here at all, we can just agree that I’m not. It’s been too long for me to write about it in-depth, at least to me, but I will give you the rundown on what I’ve been doing.

April

So, yes, I went to California in April. I began tossing the idea around in my head in the beginning of the year but put it off due to money and nerves. Finally, I picked a date and booked myself a train ticket and flight. I decided to take the train from Chicago to California (after hopping a bus from here to Milwaukee and another train to Chi-town) to simultaneously save money and see the country. So.. I did that.

It was a long train but interesting. I saw a bit of the country – not all of which was worth seeing. Some of it was gorgeous and interesting, but restlessness prevented me from enjoying parts of the trip (I’m talking to you, Utah). I was super nervous because I’d never been on an American train before, but I survived and learned a bit about train culture, namely that there is a demographic of people (retired, limited income, wants to travel, has nothing better to do) that just loves trains in a way that I think I can’t.

My trip to Cali was short, shorter than I should have planned it and made even shorter by my purchasing a ticket from the wrong airport. All was okay, though. I saw the beach, took walks, enjoyed good food, bonded with my aunt, her husband and cat, saw the tech museum, visited rose gardens and the Egyptian museum, hacked 400+ new portals in Ingress and caught a new Pokemon. Not a bad little trip.

I flew into Minneapolis, spent the night with a friend and took the bus back after one long week.

May

I was super excited to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2 last month and, well, it was okay. Just okay, you know? Not terrible but certainly not worth the time I waited, and that’s a shame. I saw the original three times, but the sequel just didn’t hit all the right spots.

I took a day trip to see a sculpture garden, shop and attend a cultural fest in the next town over, which was quite enjoyable.

Last month, one of my very good friends also got married. I was in the wedding, which was cold and hectic, but I wish them all the best. In April, my friend was finally able to move in with his fiancee, so I’ve had to adjust with not having him around. This has been, at times, quite the struggles.

I also struggled to walk as many miles per day as I wanted to last month.

Before the month wrapped up, I finally got myself to see the MC Escher exhibit at the art museum, and it was better than I could have anticipated!

The end of last month also marked my 31st and golden birthday. I wanted to do something different.. so I did nothing at all. I released myself from expectations and had an interesting day with friends, cupcakes and lots of sun. It was fun and low-pressure if not entirely memorable. But it certainly was different. Go me.

June

This month started impatiently. First, I was walking my ass off to level in Ingress. I am now 14 but probably won’t level for the rest of the year. Boo.

I was also awaiting the second weekend, which I had dubbed Wonder Woman Weekend. Robyn and I headed to Minneapolis (I’ll return next month to see Adam Lambert and Queen in concert) to stay with Wendy with plans to see the Pixar exhibit at the science museum, visit the zoo and see Wonder Woman. I didn’t see it opening weekend because I was waiting for this, so there was alot of expectation.

Wonder Woman was great, the zoo was nice and the museum was interesting, but it was hot. I didn’t get enough rest and returned home pretty grumpy. I also had a very busy work week last week that technically ended yesterday morning, so I am feeling little swamped.

Right before I left, I tackled making some galaxy bottles for decor. They looked amazing in the beginning but have since muddled. I think I know how to fix it, but it’s a bummer.

Throughout all of this, I’ve done the norm – walked all the miles, entertained a guest a time or two, read all the books (I’m over 52 titles on GoodReads if you count comics and audiobooks!) and comics (I’ve read my first ever Marvel titled in 2017), went out to eat, attended a few game nights, fires and birthdays parties and (binge?) watched plenty of Netflix. Judging from the length of this post, I’ve been a busy little bee. Perhaps I should add relaxing to my calendar!


Apr 12

5 Years Self Employed!

In April 2010, my marriage was falling apart. I hadn’t worked since we’d returned stateside, and I was terrified of having to work yet another dead-end retail job. I hated them all, perhaps because I still thought I was better than the job and the people that I worked with and definitely because I am not good working under people who aren’t as smart as I am.

There were many naysayers, including my ex-husband and even good friends, who were sure I wasn’t going to make it. But I sat at my computer and I typed and typed and typed. I was making less than I am now per word and the type of work I qualified for was pretty mediocre, so I had to work harder and longer at work that I cared about far less than my current work.

But I guess it paid off. I moved up in rank. I was able to work less. This has led to my amazing schedule, which allows me to spend lots of time with friends and family. And I’m now working with a client who I really enjoy, about a topic that is right up my alley — sex — for a goodly amount of money. I am even considering buying a house.. next year. It’s exciting.

For years, I attributed this success to luck or timing. It wasn’t determination intelligence or talent on my own part. But, I think after five years, I should take some of that credit. I’m not sure this will last forever, but this little era has already been pretty awesome.

Some time this month I hope to celebrate with people.


Jan 23

What I Do

Most people don’t know what I do for a living. Many people have a hazy idea, but the idea that someone writes everything that find online is just foreign to people who don’t use the Internet, understand SEO or visit websites other than Facebook. Apparently, nearly everyone I know falls into those categories.

So, yes, I write. I write content that winds up on websites. More often than not, these are linkbait articles that exist pretty much solely for SEO purposes. If that makes no sense to you, that’s okay. I rarely get a byline and almost never know what sites my written content writes up with. I don’t follow up after I get paid.  Sometimes, I write product descriptions. The reviews that I write on Reviews by Cole are a hobby and are in no way related to my job.

I prefer to write about tech topics. SEO is okay, but it does get old quickly. I hate having to be repetitive, which is why I feel drained when I have to write 800 words or more about a specific topic. In the beginning, I wrote many articles for DMS about smartphones, tablets, iPod and website maintenance. These are probably among my favorites. When I enjoy a topic, writing comes so much more easily. However, I don’t always get the choice.

In the past week, I have written about these topics:

  • WordPress and SEO
  • Kitchen and bathroom remodeling
  • Fashion that flatters your figure
  • Roofing
  • Pedispas
  • Urgent care facilities
  • Used Dell servers
  • Online Casinos
  • Mobile slot games
  • Sciatica
  • Concussions
  • Comic inspired movies
  • Interview mistakes
  • Day trader computers
  • Lingerie
  • Sex toys
  • Dressing in business casual
  • Rebuilding a relationship/trust after an affair
  • Acid reflux disease
  •  Pulmonary arterial hypertension
  • Jennifer Lawrence’s awards show fashion
  • Live music in Torontio
  • Legionnaire’s disease
  • Maplestory hair styles

As I finish this post, I will head to work on a program review/description.

So, you know. I do what they pay for. It’s at times pretty unglamorous. The reason why I write articles (people want to manipulate search engines) is sometimes disheartening, and I often fear that this content is just created for robots and not human consumption. However, I do sometimes have fun and learn something along the way.


Jun 20

Write On

Even though I’ve been a “writer” for the past three years, I always put that word into quotations. I assume that the reason I got the job and have been able to maintain it was luck. I tell myself — and others — that it was a fluke. The fact that I’ve generally been able to increase my prices and work less while remaining afloat? I ignore. When people ask me what it is that I do for a living, I avoid the subject or downplay it as much as possible.

I think it’s time for me to stop that.

For three years, I’ve been a freelance writer. I’ve paid my bills and my taxes. I’ve had steady work. I even had some business cards printed up; although, I haven’t had much of a chance to work them. I’ve improved my writing skills, and that shows on all my blogs. I’ve become more familiar with AP styles, I’ve juggled HTML and I’ve dealt with ever-changing rules, cranky clients and incredible editors.

I guess that I’ve more or less persevered, and I should take credit for that. I got a job. I’ve kept it. I’ve gotten better at it and expanded my horizons when need be. I’m not just playing pretend. This isn’t just a hobby, and maybe I can do even more with it than I already have. I don’t know what, but for the first time I finally think that the option exists. It’s liberating, really.

 


Dec 03

What Clients Need to Know About Freelance Writers

On the heels of the post where I show off my brand-new business cards that advertise that, yes, I am a writer and blogger, and it is real enough to print on paper, I have a post detailing the things I’ve learned that clients need to learn when working with freelance writers.

Yep, this is about right.

Yep, this is about right.

Have realistic expectations
Fortunately, many clients realize that the piddly price they’re paying for word isn’t enough for us to research a project, add HTML to their specifications, add images and promote the content. Do as much for the writer as possible to get a faster return rate and higher-quality writing.
We do what you tell us to
So tell us exactly what you want — the first time! Don’t send something back because we didn’t meet expectations that you didn’t tell us existed. It’s no fair, and it wastes both of our time. Don’t write the entire article, unless you’re looking for a rewrite, but give us enough information to produce what you want. Assume that writers know nothing about the topic at hand.
Differentiate between suggestions and guidelines
If you want us to write like Wired.com, tell us. If you want us to use the exact same points in what is, essentially, a rewrite of an article from Wired.com, tell us! Lots of clients provide suggestions and examples, and some people want something a little closer to the source. We can do either, but we need to know what you want, first. Similarly, don’t tell us to cover specific points if you actually want those to be the headings.
Your article might be one in a stack twenty high
You get just as much priority as the next. You might even be going through dozens or hundreds of articles submitted from writers yourself, so you can probably understand.
Web content/copywriting isn’t like writing a book
Blog posts are casual. They use slang. If you ask for a blog post but reject articles because they’re too casual, then you aren’t asking for the right thing. If you’re outsourcing chapters for your written book, then using writing broker sites doesn’t make sense. It will be a poor fit.
Writers don’t always see the same thing you do
I see this all the time on certain broker websites. I send HTML, it breaks. You send a link, it gets cut off. You add a note, but I can’t see it. I might not be able to see your name, client number or even the article I just submitted. When in doubt, send a message.
Don’t be afraid of being communicative
At best, we’ll ignore you or opt out of your messages, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Enough with the damned keywords already
We’re sick of adding 16 instances of the same keyword in 200 words. It’s not readable, and some of your phrases are impossible to work into an article grammatically. Let writers use connecting words or, even better, focus on quality instead of search engine optimization.
Not everyone knows HTML
Yes, you’re using this content on your website. No, your writer isn’t responsible for adding all the tags. Many writers aren’t also bloggers. Markup is your responsibility, and just because I happen to be a writer who knows HTML doesn’t mean that I will do your job.

So, writers, what do you have to add to this list?


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