Thursday, December 9, 2010

All Grown Up

Well, it was about time.

Even though this Blogger site did us good, we have grown up and registered our own big-boy domain Feel free to hop on over, check it out, subscribe to the RSS feed and become a part of our growing community.

Catch you on the flip side.

Prolific Studios
Creativity. Defined.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Kids: Four Freelance Lessons From My Four Year-Old

This will be the first in a new series here at Prolific Studios, aptly titled the "My Kids" series. This will consist of lessons learned along the way, taught by the very kiddos my wife and I strive to teach every day.

Let me give you a little background on one of my little ones (there are 3 total...for now). Bella, who is the oldest at 4, is a fiery red-head with a personality to match. If a child has ever been confident in who she is, Bella IS that child. She has never met a stranger and will perform a song, dance, trick, acrobatic move (you probably get the point) at the drop of a hat. Hopefully this gives you an idea of just how much I can "learn" in a day.

My hope for this series is to offer you relevant tips, tricks and ideas that will help you along your journey, while still bringing across the fun and excitement our little ones bring to each and every day.

Without further ado, I bring you Four Freelance Lessons From My Four Year-Old:

1. Share

In the on-going effort to teach my kiddos to share, it never quite hit me until the other day when Bella asked me what I was doing on the computer. I told her I was reading a blog and after the 30 questions about what a blog is and what it does, she asked if I was going to share.


Every day we go through the process of impressing upon our children how to share, why to share and even what to share (because some things are just better kept to yourself). If we are going through this much trouble to make sure they know how to bless others, then it only makes sense that we should be following our own instruction.


At that moment it dawned on me that we SHOULD share. Share our ideas, blogs, readers, customers, tips, tricks, and anything else we can think of.

I am a big fan of open source programs, materials and ideas. I believe without an open forum, we become subject to what other people think is the best for us. When we open up our minds and resources, we get to work together as a group to come up with the absolute best for everyone involved.


2. Practice Reading and Writing

Bella is in school and learning her letters and learning how to read. The funny thing is, when she starts sounding them out, she also likes to write them out. I guess this happens because she can see and "feel" the letters as she learns them?

Basically, if you want to get better at one, practice the other as well. For those of us who write, one of the ways to improve our skills is to read great writing. No, this does not mean go back through your own archives. Take a look at other great writers and even type out their exact words to get the "feeling" of how good writing flows. Here is a small sampling of great writers to check out if you can't think of any:

Writer Dad
Words on the Page
The Simple Dollar

While all of these writers may not spark your interest with their topics, their writing is undeniably superb.

3. Don't Talk During Seat Work

In K-4, students are learning how to sit quietly and get their work done - a big task to ask of such a little kid. The teachers understand how much this discipline will help out as the children get older, which is why they stress this rule so much. Anytime a student is caught talking during seat time, they are corrected. Distractions not only hurt other students who are trying to work, but also take away from the child's best effort.

As adults, it is important to minimize distractions when you are supposed to be working. Even though Brian, owner of bkmacdaddy designs, welcomes some types of distractions (and I believe he knocked it out of the park with his Manifesto,) limiting other distractions such as Twitter, TV and even the Dog can help you work more efficiently and at a higher quality.

Of course, efficient work means more gets done in a shorter time, which means your time becomes more valuable therefore profits go up - which is a great reason to stay quiet during seat work.

4. It's Ok To Color Outside The Lines

While many of the lesson Bella is learning, I personally agree with, there is a simple one which sorta gets under my skin. Bella was coloring the other day and told me that she was "NOT scribble-scrabbling all over her paper."

Well, why not?

While I enjoy good art, just like another person, I truly believe that many schools try to force us into uniformity. While this is great for some people, because we do need people to work (that is a topic for another day), I feel that it is important for my children to understand the value of thinking outside of the box. While it is important to respect authority, it is also important to ask questions and think independently.

Coloring outside the lines is how we ended up with airplanes, penicillin and post-it-notes. So, sweetheart, go ahead and color outside the lines till your heart is content. Write that witty sales copy, go crazy with that logo design and code until YOU are happy with the results.

Wipe Your Hands

So, now that you have permission to steal a cookie before dinner, get back to work, but remember to share all things, practice what you like best AND least, minimize your distractions to improve the quality of your time, and for Pete's sake - BE UNIQUE.

I would love to hear about what you think of the "My Kids" series, so please drop a comment in the box below (yep, that one, down there).

What is the strangest thing you have learned from one of your kids? Or if you don't have any yet, what have you learned from other people's kids? Let's chat about it.

Prolific Studios
Creativity. Defined.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Open Thread: Where do you work best?

As I pen pound out this post, I am sitting inside a Starbucks coffee shop. If you haven't ever heard of "The Starbucks," it is an over-priced, semi-uppity coffee shop which boasts of it's large volumes of customers despite the excessive roasting their coffee beans must endure. In a nutshell, it is exactly what a coffee shop shouldn't be.

Sorry for the side-note, I just wanted to make sure you had an accurate vision of the place.

As I sit here, I remember back to my days in school when I would go sit in the dim back corner (the way it should be) of the local coffee house and people-watch in between intense focus sessions of studying. Yep, those were the days when I used to ace tests and actually work ahead on my homework.

Yes, I was a nerd. But more than that, I was an effective nerd. In that coffee shop, I got my best work done. Today I try my best to get back to that quaint atmosphere, but it seems like the best I can do is some sort of faux-mock-up of what once used to be. I long for the days of the local coffee shops and cranking out work with more emphasis and enthusiasm than ever before...or after for that matter.

So let me ask you, where do you work best? Where do you go when you need to be creatively stimulated? Share your stories below in the comment section. I would love to hear where your best ideas come from.


Prolific Studios
Creativity. Defined.

On another, completely irrelevant side note, I actually hate to say it, but the sweetened, iced black tea is really almost sorta good.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Figuring Out Freelance

One week ago today I walked out of my job. Maybe that doesn't explain the situation exactly, but we will just leave it at that for now. Before freelancing full time, I did a lot of work on the side; PLR, press releases, technical manuals, web content and even some classic magazine articles.

Here was the dilemma:

My freelance business was as big as it could grow.

Basically, I had taken on as many clients as I possibly could while still working my day job. I think this is the toughest part for many people who are interested in the full-time freelance route because there are not enough hours in a day to help enough clients to justify quitting your job. That being said, it is because of your job that you cannot take on anymore clients - seems like Murphy's Law amended the Catch-22 provision just in time.

I am not sure of the percentages, but I would imagine many freelance enthusiasts finally took the step because they had a little nudge. This nudge may have come in the form of a pink slip of paper, or job-related stresses which put them over the edge, but I would be curious as to how many people actually planned out the steps to full-time.

Is the "happenstance freelancer" the norm rather than the anomaly?

It has been almost two years since I have taken part in the freelance community and contributed in any thought-provoking way. Of course I site the obvious reasons; "I got really busy" and "My dog deleted my feed reader" or my personal favorite "Twitter is all the community I need." Well, sure it is, if you are actively building relationships with other freelancers instead of doubling up on the tech and gadget gurus who you don't even converse with.

It is the equivalent of speed dating someone who doesn't even know you exist.

You know the routine, add as many people as you can possibly take in + 100 more and drool over their tweets as you consume every article ever written by them...

What was that? You have no idea what I am talking about??

OK, so...that was kind of awkward.

Anyway, I believe it is time to dive back into the community and start to grow and learn even more about this new life that is ahead of me and my family. I am hoping that somewhere along the way, I will be able to pass along some helpful information and maybe even return the favor to a new happenstance freelancer.

Leave a comment downstairs and tell me your freelance story. Let's make our own data table.


Prolific Studios
Creativity. Defined.