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So Much Can Happen in a Year

Dear December, 

I'm not sure if I've ever told you this, but more often than not, you make me feel all of the feelings. The minute you show up, I begin to reminisce, to analyze, to look forward. 

If you had told me last year that 2014 would be equal parts scary and fulfilling on the business front, I wouldn't have necessarily believed you. You see, freelancing and building a business is one of the most uncertain, unpredictable exercises I've ever attempted—and I'm a gal who likes stability. I prefer knowing what's coming around the bend and yet, here we are: walking a path and taking what comes. 

I would have never guessed in a million years that I'd get to work with editors I've long admired this year. I'm still pinching myself after getting to know the lovely humans who've built Clementine Daily. Those women? Well, they're the real deal. And having the opportunity to spend time with them in Palm Springs? That wasn't even on my radar last year. 

I also never expected to find a group of women locally who not only run their own companies, but also support one another so unconditionally. Support, encouragement and a healthy dose of real talk is important for anyone striking out on their own and I couldn't be more grateful to have found those things this year.

Though I've always had the desire to use my voice to share stories, I never anticipated having the gumption to start my own show. And I certainly didn't expect to have it be well-received—despite the early technological issues. I also had no idea how endlessly fulfilling it would be to chat with people, record it, edit it down and share it with others. 

And lastly, I cannot believe I've decided to write a full-length book and that I TOLD PEOPLE ABOUT IT. December, you're making me look long and hard at my writing process and the purpose of the book. Next year will be full of decisions focused on moving that little (huge) project forward.

I couldn't be more grateful for the ups and downs of 2014. There have been just as many low points as there have been high points, but I'm looking back and seeing so much good in the journey. I'll be sharing some new goals and plans for 2015 soon, but right now, I'm focused on gratitude for what's already been. 

So thank you, December. Thank you for reminding me just how much I have to be grateful for as we barrel towards a brand new year.

Sincerely, 

Jen
xoxo


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On Working From the Middle

On Working From the Middle // Hint: no one has it all figured out.

Can I tell you a little secret?

No one has it all figured out. 

Those gurus who sell you the magic sauce to help you improve your life or business or relationships? I'll bet you all my earthly belongings that they're going through something that has them feeling like a novice. That doesn't make them less worthy of your time, mind you. It just makes them human. And those internet-famous guys and gals who have millions of likes and follows and random metrics on which they gauge their success? They don't have it all figured out either and they're constantly worrying about how they put their life out into the world.

Here's my secret sauce: I try to remind myself that we're all all just learning, growing and (hopefully) becoming better humans as we go along. We're always working from the middle of life.

I only have one more sleep until I hit the ripe old age of 32 and, I must say, I'm finally letting that knowledge sink in. 

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Let's take my my podcast, for example. I started the show thinking, "This will be fun! I have no clue what I'm doing, but let's just all hang out and share stories, okay?"

I didn't do any of the things podcast marketing pros tell you to do. I didn't pre-record a bunch of episodes so I could trick the iTunes algorithm into thinking I was worthy of the New & Noteworthy section. I didn't beg my guests to share their interview (though most do... thank you for that, by the way). For months I resisted the urge to aggressively seek iTunes reviews (which is another way iTunes knows that the show is worth putting on their front page) and while I really do appreciate the love from listeners, I still find myself not caring what the iTunes robots think of the show.

Audio quality is something I struggle with every time I record. If you've listened to the show, you know I record from various locations, have both in-person and remote guests and that no two set-ups are really the same. I'm a storyteller not a sound tech, but because I've loved sharing stories in this way I'm forcing myself to learn more—to become better.

I've said way too many "ums," "mmmhhhhmmms" and—as someone mentioned in the feedback section of a recent survey— too many "I gotchas." This is also something I'm working on, but here's the thing: no one said I was a shoo-in for radio. I really enjoy having conversations with my guests and as much as I try not to interrupt them, sometimes my enthusiasm for their story or my innate need to let them know I connect to what they're saying takes over. Hence the affirming phrases. 

After 14 interviews (the latest episode goes live this Thursday) and countless hours learning, editing and, yes, cursing—I'm still figuring things out. Some people would have told me not to put out any episodes until I had all my podcasting ducks in a row, but I may have never started had I done that. Can you imagine not hearing from people like Colin Delehanty and Sheldon Neill about the amazingness that is Project Yosemite or from Sofia Lacin and Hennessy Christophel about why cities need public art or from Gina Begin about the importance of pushing through the tough times?

I certainly can't. 

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Listen, I'm not saying we should all just flounder around and start projects we have no business starting—especially if we don't have the drive and passion to grow them and improve our ability to deliver good content, services, products, etc.

No. I'm saying that sometimes we just have to start from wherever we are, gather feedback, take what we need and leave behind the unnecessary in an effort to get where we want to go. And guess what? Once we get there, we'll realize that there is still work to be done! Because we're all still growing and learning—and then growing and learning some more.

So here's to the "ummm-ers" and the "mmmmhhhmmm-ers—and even those who appreciate an affirming head nod accompanied by the words "I gotcha" now and again. You're working from the middle and the rest of us are too. Just start... I promise you'll figure it out as you go along.

For that matter, let's just all figure it out together, okay?

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p.s. Speaking of starting... I'm writing a book. 



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Create Your Own: Washi Tape + Whiteboard Calendar

Create Your Own: Washi Tape + Whiteboard Calendar

I don't usually post a lot of DIY projects or tutorials in this space, but I've been spending a lot of time trying to get my world a bit more organized as of late. So, I thought I'd share!

This whiteboard calendar is super simple to create and—I'm telling you—it has made juggling multiple freelance projects and editorial calendars much more manageable! 

Create Your Own: Washi Tape + Whiteboard Calendar

Materials:

  • Whiteboard (I bought a board similar to this one)
  • Washi tape (I used 5/8" tape like this)
  • Ruler (to measure out your columns and rows)
  • White board pen (it comes with the whiteboard)
  • Post-it notes (I use three different colors) to manage your different deadlines and events
Create Your Own: Washi Tape + Whiteboard Calendar
Create Your Own: Washi Tape + Whiteboard Calendar

The first step is deciding how many weeks you want to display and whether or not you want to display the month. If you plan to have more than one whiteboard, you may want to build in a small area to note the month as it will help you see everything with a quick glance.

Since I knew I'd only have room for one large whiteboard calendar, I decided to leave out the month and add in extra spaces so I could show the first week or so of the following month. So, I broke the board into seven rows—one tiny row to display the days of the week at the top and six larger rows to account for each week I wanted to display—and seven equally-sized columns for each day of the week.

Once you've decided, just get to measuring and taping! Many whiteboards come with a warning against using adhesives (like tape and post-its) on the surface, but I knew I'd be using the whiteboard specifically for this purpose and didn't see an issue with it.

You will want to follow the hanging instructions that come with the whiteboard, however. You don't want all of your hard work to come tumbling down!

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And there you have it!

I've been using this system in conjunction with my google calendar (I've decided that I'm no good at using paper monthly planners) to manage my crazy list of deadlines, meetings, appointments, travel schedules and editorial calendars for the last several months and it's been great. I will say it can be overwhelming to have this bird's-eye view of 30-40 days worth of stuff, but overall it's been working for me.

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So, what type of organization system do you use to stay on task and on schedule? 


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The Power of "Me Too"

The Power of "Me Too" - http://jenniferesnyder.com/blog

I'll be the first to admit that working primarily online can be a lonely enterprise. Despite the positives that come with being able to instantly connect with nearly anyone, anywhere and at any time, there is nothing quite as powerful as a real life connection. In my humble opinion, the internet isn't the great connector we all hoped it would be. Instead, I'm inclined to believe it can only take us part of the way.

Here's why: since making a conscious effort to reach out to others through coffee dates, coworking, happy hours and even my podcast interviews, I have met some pretty incredible people. To be clear, I "met" some of the people online initially, but forging friendships and working relationships didn't really happen until we met up away from the screen.

The best part? More often than not, the meetings and chats have resulted in multiple "me too" moments. There is some serious power in those two little words, my friends.

It tends to go a little bit like this:

"Hey, I'm trying to figure out how to launch a podcast."

"Me too! Let's learn together."

Boom. Instant learning partner.

"I'm desperately trying to find clarity in my business model."

"Man... have I ever been there! This is what I did to get over that hurdle."

Bam. New business mentor.

"I used to love going to that event.

"Yes! They always had the best food trucks. We should go check out this other event next weekend!"

New friendship? Check.

"I despise the accounting side of running my own business."

"Me too, but I love my accountant. Here's her info."

Problem solved.

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You see where this is going, right? It may seem a bit obvious, but in a world full of screens and virtual connections I'm finding that it's not until we really share with others, have face-to-face conversations and drop the selfie-ness that has taken over the online realm that we make connections that truly stick.

So, what about you? Have you experienced "me too" moments with new friends, colleagues or contacts? Have you found that meeting up face-to-face makes a difference?


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Truth: Writing is Not Easy

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I wasn't sure if I would publish this post today. It's been sitting here in draft form for several days and while I don't often share all of my difficult moments or tough realizations in this space, I decided to just go for it.

As some of you may know, a substantial portion of my income comes from writing. I write for publications and organizations, create web and mobile content and help other writers turn notes into fully developed stories.

You know what? It's really hard work. With rejection around every corner and the constant devaluation of creative work (though, I've worked with some phenomenal people who -- to put it simply -- get it), I often find it difficult to keep going. 

Luckily, the challenges associated with creative work are slowly helping me develop a thicker skin. I can feel it happening. Every time I get a response from an editor regarding a submission that wasn't quite right, I find myself responding in a more positive manner than I would have a few months ago. I simply polish the piece a bit more and send it off to the next appropriate choice in a long list of publications.

However, when a pitch that took precious time to craft is simply ignored or when an editor completely drops the ball after praising my work and promising publication, I can't help but feel a bit let down. It happens, my friends, and it is anything but easy.

The lesson here is that this writing for a living business is not for the timid.

I have been attempting to move away from the large and loud world of marketing to become the writer I envisioned while sitting at the back of a classroom wrapping my mind around the authorial intent of dead white men. I wanted to write about things that matter: ideas that connect us all as human beings and subjects that can make a difference.

So, I've pitched and pitched and pitched. I've reached out to editors to try and prove my worth. I've scoured book stores, magazine racks and the depths of the internet for worthy publications. This is what I want to be doing, yet the wanting doesn't always make the writing and submitting any easier.

Writing for a living is really hard. Rejection stings. Complete avoidance is maddening. Even constructive feedback can offer up a gut check from time to time.   

And yet, I'll continue on. I hope the rejection, avoidance and feedback will help me become a better writer. If a piece isn't quite right or good enough, then I'll do my best to craft something that is both right and good. I'll continue pitching ideas until my dream publications take note. I'll keep writing about things that matter.

Why? Because at this point on my creative career path, I can't imagine doing anything else.


Let's hang out: Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Bloglovin


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