Thursday, July 31, 2008

Being Nice to the New "Kids" in the Sandbox

At some point, every one of us was a newbie to the fundraising sandbox...and hopefully someone helped you through your first wobbly steps. But, it's pretty likely that, even with help, you made a few mistakes along the way. C'mon, who hasn't missed the boat completely on the copy or underbid a job and worked for peanuts? And, how many times did you lose your courage to make a big career move only to find opportunity had moved on to knock on someone else's door?

I'm working on a project called, "Copywriter Confessions" to help new copywriters realize the mistakes they fear making are far from fun, but rarely fatal. Professional copywriters who have jumped those early hurdles and gone on to success are sending in their own "I can't believe I did that" stories to share with newbies in hopes that their stories will assure those just starting out that things do get easier and the mistakes fewer and further between.

If you'd like to be part of the project, share your story here or email it to me at with the subject line, "Copywriter Confessions."

Friday, July 25, 2008

With many fundraising folks attending the Bridge Conference in Washington, DC the latter part of this week, there was time to get caught up on a few things at the home office. I'm waiting to hear back from a few people on the best parts of the conference and whether it would be a good choice for freelancers to attend. It can be hard to know where you fit in when you spend so much of your time working solo from a site far removed from others in the niche.

As Bob Bly noted in an article not long ago, many of us are hiding behind our emails and missing out on the interaction time, like conferences, that used to solidify working relationships. While, I'm not a huge fan of conferences (you'll find me at the food table avoiding having to network and make small talk), they do have value as a learning and relationship building resource.

So which conferences have you found useful to attend to keep up-to-date on your skills? Are smaller events better for bulding relationships or do large gatherings provide more opportunity and "bang for your buck" when it comes to meeting the right people? What can you tell me about events you've attended that would motivate me to come out from behind the keyboard?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fridays are the best day of the week...but why?

Happy Friday! 'Tis my favorite day of the week - a little bit of work, a little pleasure.

As a freelancer I've gotten into a groove of certain days being good for certain types of activities. And, Fridays seem to be best for beginnings and endings. I'm wrapping up getting my website updated, a task I'd put off far too long. And, a FedEx with information on a new client should arrive soon, I'm hoping to get the full scoop this afternoon on a new project for an existing client with a quick turnaround and another article to promote my new ebook is next on the to-do list. Always nice to give the creative juices plenty to work with over java on a Saturday morning.

I've tried to relegate Mondays, my least favorite day and least productive creatively, to handling paperwork and other mundane activities that are appropriate to my attitude and brain power after a full weekend. It's also been helpful to try to protect large chunks of time mid-week to avoid feeling a time crunch at the same time I'm trying to relax and be creative. Is all this making me sound...moody?

Please, tell me I'm not alone in shaping my days this way! Freelancers, how do you arrange your work days to optimize your time? And, client friends in offices, do you face the same dilemmas? I know you have to work around staff meetings, trainings and client meetings...what's the best way for freelancers to keep in touch and make things easier for you?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Since starting as a freelance copywriter in 2002, the one thing I’ve noticed is how nice folks in the fundraising arena are to be around. I investigated a few other niches early on in copywriting, and while I never met a true class bully, I’m sure I crossed paths with a few people who wouldn’t hesitate to run with front of the teacher!

There seems to be a prevailing attitude in this sandbox that there’s far too much important work to be done to waste time bickering or bad mouthing and that getting along is far easier and more pleasant than the alternative.

The reason for the Solution Sandbox blog is to perpetuate that mind-set and to create an on-going “play date” where fundraisers, freelancers and others can get to know each other just a little better..I like to think of it as cyber-recess with a purpose.

I was fortunate enough to have one of my earliest encounters be with one of the fundraising arena’s most respected members, Kay Partney Lautman. She was the first to hire me as a freelancer fundraising copywriter and quite gracious about answering my many awkward questions. I'd hoped to meet her in person on a trip to Washington, D.C. this summer, but wasn't able to. It would've been so nice to thank her in person for being so kind to a fundraising newbie!

Is there someone who helped you get started or served as a mentor and helped you learn more about life in fundraising? Post your kudos here and let everyone know about those who provide the leadership that makes fundraising such a nice sandbox to play in!