Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Making 2022 EPIC!

 


At the moment, I'm working on three books, each in varying stages of completion—and at least one planned for release in the first half of 2022. After a break of a couple of years, I'm excited to be returning to the routine and taking up the challenge of getting my books (old and new) into the hands of readers.

In the interim, I've learned a bit about marketing books for my middle grade—young adult readership, and I'm currently devouring a few of the current titles on the subject. The tools available are constantly changing, and I'm determined to "up my game." I like my "back catalog," and I want to make sure they reach the audience I believe they deserve.

I'm in the process of working with a talented artist to redeisgn my existing covers to create something more in keeping with the fun, offbeat spirit of the books. As soon as the redesign of the three books in Alexander Adventures are complete, I'll be introducing the books and the artist.

My plan at the moment is to have all four of my existing books re-designed and in place by early next year, just in time for the release of my newest book (which I'll be teasing shortly). Along with the redesign, I'll be reworking all of the supporting elements (website, Amazon author page, etc.), to reflect this new approach and marketing initiatives.

In "My Epic Life," the final volume of Alexander Adventures, Alexander creates a less-embarassing euphenism for puberty: Emotional and Physical Internal Changes. No euphenisms in 2022—I'm aiming to make phase of my author journey truly EPIC!


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

I just spent the last hour researching how I could retrieve access to this blog- mission accomplished! Time to straighten things up around here...new books next year!


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

KID CHEFS LIKE SOUP—AND SOUP BOOKS!

Last year, I released a comedic novel, SoupChad, the tale of a boy who loves soup (and won’t tolerate kids who liked salad). It’s a fun little story, meant as an allegory about intolerance and learning to respect others who might think differently.

But SoupChad’s love of soup, I’ve discovered, is also part of the book’s niche appeal. I've received numerous emails from parents and loved ones of young chefs, expressing their child's excitement at discovering this "tasty" little book.

Kid chefs have developed an affection for this soup-foodie of a thirteen year old.

It’s a golden time for kids who cook, with numerous television programs showing off  the fine culinary skills of boys and girls as they create everything from appetizers to exotic dessert dishes.  Even Chef Gordon Ramsay is prominent in the game, with his Masterchef Junior series,  which just completed its seventh season. Gone, it seems, are the days when most kids were finicky eaters and lacked even a hint of culinary bravery.

SoupChad isn’t a book about cooking—Chad loves soup, but prefers it canned. As kids his age are prone to do, he's gone all-in on his obsession, even creating a “Soup Club” to share his soup-centric world view with doubtful classmates. He annoints club members with club names based on their favorite soup. He’s soon surrounded with kids named Noodle, Spinach and Chowder.

Kid chefs, I’m happy to say, recognize SoupChad as one of their own, while also sympathizing with the salad-loving classmates he faces in a climactic showdown.  In the end, Chad learns that while he can still love soup, there's other food to love, too! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

GigEconomy Challenges: Priming the Pump

Surviving in the Gig Economy means constantly priming the pump. 

My profile on Upwork is always a work in progress as time and new skills develop. I learn new strategies from reviewing profiles of other freelancers. I'm constantly looking for ways to better target the professional/entrepreneurial clients I seek. I read and re-read my profile. Am I pontificating too much? Am I presenting too much information? Present too much of your qualifications 

My "cover letters" on Upwork are always changing, too. They're certainly customized for individual clients, but I also look at better focusing these letters on the specific talents that I offer, and presenting my qualifications not as proof of my abilities, but as an indication of the services I can provide to the client. Again, I'm always looking for better ways to show that I offer quality, client centered services.

Over at Fiverr, where freelancers offer specific gigs, as opposed to seeking out clients who need services, I'lm constantly searching for concepts that would improve the visibility of my gigs. That means finding the right SEO: the keywords and descriptions that help people find my services when searching across the web. I've also discovered that visibility on Fiverr is directly impacted by how often I edit my gigs. Editing the description or other details seems to push my gigs upward and improve my visibility. 

I also look at gig concepts that are "out of the box." Currently, I'm offering this gig on Fiverr: This holiday season, surprise your children with a holiday tale all their own: a short story featuring some traditional elements, and customized touches that make it truly theirs. I'm offering to write a 1,500 word story that incorporates the client's children as characters in a holiday tale with one of several familiar elements (a poor orphan, a Scrooge-like figure unmoved by the holidays, for example). The idea, I hope, has some appeal. I imagine the story as a read-aloud treat sometime after gift-giving; I'll write the stories with that in mind. I'd enjoy creating the tale, and the buyer will have something unique and memorable to add to their holiday season.

My question now: Will people find the gig? I tried titling the gig, "I'll Write a Customized Holiday Story," but decided to switch it to "Christmas Story" as a more likely search term. I'll update the experiment here, and let you know if I receive one order, several orders, or no orders at all. It's worth the experiment, even if it turns out to be a learning experience.

To learn about my latest adventures in the Gig Economy, follow me on Twitter @rickflix

Monday, October 29, 2018

Welcome to the World of Chat Stories!

Some of the most interesting and unexpected gigs I've landed on Upwork have been related to creating chat stories (or text stories). If you're not familiar with this trending form of creative expression, chat stories relate tales entirely in the form of text messages. As you tap the screen dialogues appear line-by-line, as if you're eavesdropping on an actual conversation.  There's little or no prose (other than time breaks, like "ten minutes later").

Texties, which recently launched for the iPhone (and coming soon for Android - click on the link for a beta version) has been one of my most regular Upwork customers. I've written fifteen separate stories for the platform, ranging from the 3 part, 30,000 word epic "Revolution" series, which follows a group of teens as they try to defeat an evil dictator in a dystopian world, to the comedy, "Invasion of the Meklaks," in which fans on the set of their favorite science fiction TV program suspect that their favorite show may actually be more than makeup and special effects. I've written in genres ranging from comedy to science fiction, horror and even some drama.

Chat stories are a fun challenge. The settings and all the action have to be related entirely through dialogue. Additionally, stories need to unfold in such a way that it makes sense for characters to communicate through texting (as opposed to a verbal conversation). Building and creating tension is tricky—action is even trickier. When it works, though, it has a sense of immediacy that's all it's own.

Let me know what you think!



Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Global Freelancing on Upwork: One Year Later

This month, I’m celebrating one year of building my presence as a global freelancer. Using established sites, I’ve worked to expand my client list from a narrow local base to a broad worldwide clientele. Where locally, I provided only media-related production and editing, my global freelancing career has allowed me to offer a wide range of writing services. In this twelfth month of global freelancing, I’ve achieved my goal: remote clients account for nearly 100% of my income—and I’m convinced that’s just the tip of the iceberg

After trying several alternatives, my platform of choice is Upwork.com, where businesses and individuals post their needs, and Upwork-screened freelancers (like myself) respond with a cover letter and relevant work examples to win the assignment. I have had the opportunity to work with a wider range of professionals and entrepreneurs than I would have otherwise. I have the opportunity to put all of my talents to work, instead of a select few.

My writing assignments have included professional biographies, recommendation letters, resignation letters, product descriptions, nonprofit mission statements, corporate website content, dozens of short stories and “chat stories,” numerous proposals and pitches for documentary video content, and production-ready scripts for educational and corporate videos.

I also provide video editing services, including corporate videos, YouTube content, training videos and premium quality celebratory videos (a photo and video montage marking a birthday or memorial, for example).

Corporate clients have included a wide range of spirited entrepreneurs, from those designing small tech start-ups to the founder/CEO of a vast corporation providing energy infrastructure. Individuals have also hired me for a range of tasks—one man in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia asked me to write a science fiction story for his son’s sixteenth birthday. I’ve worked for numerous online learning corporations, conceptualizing, writing, and in one case presenting content (offering my experience as a self-published author). Upwork gold is a repeat client—and I have had quite a few as both a writer and editor.
 
One of my Upwork gigs involved teaching
an online writing course.
Reaching this point has taken a great deal of hard work—requiring a commitment to adopting global freelancing as my profession. What started out as a side experiment only became truly viable when it became a full-time effort (I still work with local clients, though selectively).

In my case, another key piece of the puzzle was my decision to seek out training to use Upwork effectively. My thanks to Claudia Holcombe and the Barefoot Consultants program for providing excellent guidance on designing my Upwork profile, seeking and winning the best jobs, and other intricacies of becoming a successful global freelancer. If you’re serious about making this financially viable, training will get you up to speed right away.

Global freelancing (I’ve served clients in Kiev, Moscow, Saudi Arabia, Panama, Mexico, Canada, Australia and across the United States) isn’t simply a new direction in my career—it’s an entirely new dimension—and only increasing in potential. I can't say whether it's the future of employment - but it's my future.


You can check out my Upwork profile at https://www.upwork.com/fl/richsamuels (scroll down to the bottom for an indication of why I love my clients!) - and follow me @rickflix for more updates.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Writing for a Living: A Career Trajectory That Just Seems Right

Here's an update on my efforts to grow in the "Gig Economy."

My online writing services have touched on so many areas and served a wide range of clients in the past few months, It keeps the process interesting and continues to expand my network (and my horizons!)

I've been writing:

1 - "chat stories" for various smartphone apps.
2 - A vision statement for a non-profit organization creating an anti-bullying workshop.
3 - An "executive summary" tracing a corporation's service to a troublesome client
4 - A curriculum for a video production workshop for teens
5 - A logline and synopsis for a short documentary
6 - Narration for another short documentary.
7 - A short story "legend" for a cartoon character serving as a trademark for a clothing company [check out this article from Upwork about Brand Storytelling]
8 - A job seeker's introductory email to a prospective employer.
9 - Several short biographies for corporate websites
10 - Several serialized short stories: a thriller, a murder mystery, action/adventure, science fiction...the list goes on.

Until I jumped into remote freelancing, I hadn't offered writing services as part of my freelance toolbox. Now, they're a major part of my activity (and a growing part of my income. To use the vernacular, writing is my "super power."

Several of these jobs have generated return business—in many ways, that's the key to making this process work. New clients + Return Clients = Positive Cash Flow. Simple equation, but true. One client has hired me for eleven unique, well paying jobs.

At this point, ten months in, I'm still learning best practices to continue my growth. The process is slower than I would hope, but steady and building. Working online may be convenient, but don't believe the hype: it's still hard work.

(If I can be of service, contact me via my Fiverr Account)