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Friday, April 15, 2011

So ** Grin ** How Do You Like Living in America?

I should probably write more on here about returning to America. That's the purpose of this blog, right?

Frankly, for the first eight months, I was in deep shock, so I couldn't really comment intelligently.

I do feel like I'm finally getting some distance.

I see signs of life: building my business actively, unpacking a few of those boxes from my shipment, making new friends.

So how do I like it here?

Interestingly, now that I'm going on more dates and meeting new people, this subject comes up a lot.

When people ask, I'm usually pretty honest. Sometimes, I feel like I should have nicer, more Pollyanna-ish things to say (especially on a date), but when I operate that way, I start to get really annoyed and want to strangle myself.

So I'm pretty honest. My answers to the 10 most common questions:

1. So. Are you happy to be back?

No.

2. What did you miss most about the US when you were away?

After the first two years away? Not much. Family and certain people.

3. What do you think about Fort Collins?

So small. So young. So ... white. I'm used to a city of 20 million people. What I'm used to doesn't even exist in the States. Though L.A. might be close.

4. Where do you see yourself in a few years?

I'd like to split my time between Asia and the US.

5. Do you want to move back to Asia for good?

Hell no. It's absolute torture coming back when you've been away a few years. I really don't want to go through this again.

6. If it's so great there, why'd you come back here?

Temporary insanity (just kidding). After six years, I was really looking forward to hanging out with family and old friends, and that's been great. I also thought it would be easier to execute a career change, but I think that part would have been just as easy (and less expensive) if I'd stayed in Asia.

7. Don't you like having good food again?

The food in Asia is better and cheaper. And it gets delivered to your door. And someone cooks it for you. And then someone does the dishes for you.

8. Don't you like having TV?

They have English TV in Asia. Which would be great if I ever watched TV.

9. Why don't you talk about it more?

If you've seen as many pairs of eyes glaze over in your life as I have ...

10. What's the best thing about being back here?

**sound of chirping crickets**

###

The question that rarely gets asked but that I actually like to answer is ...

So what do you miss most about Asia?

I could talk for hours. But see #9 on eyes glazing over.

###

So there it is. Status update at 10 months stateside. Maybe I'll answer all those questions in six months again and see what's changed.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Survived Cold Calling -- And So Will You

So for folks in the copy/commercial writing biz (which is where I get the bulk of my income), cold calling (a.k.a. calling total strangers on the phone without an introduction) is considered one of the fastest ways to build your client list.

According to Peter Bowerman (author of "The Well-Fed Writer," an awesome book I highly recommend if you're trying to break into this area), making about 1,000 cold calls at start-up should have your business running along pretty smoothly.

One problem -- it's absolutely terrifying! Which is why despite knowing this, I've waited nine months to attempt it.

See the little ticker on the right? Did you notice how it's been at "0" since January? That's me being a cold-calling wimp.

After a busy first quarter, I finally ran out of work this week, so I bit the bullet and started my 25-a-day, two-month cold calling program.

And you know what? It wasn't all that terrible. It even had fun and interesting moments. And while we'll see what happens in the next few weeks, so far it seems like a great way to connect with people who hire freelancers -- fast.

I started out following the little "script" in the Well-Fed-Writer, but actually, after a few calls, I rewrote it so it was a bit less formal and better suited to my personality. That helped me relax a bit.

The first few calls were terrifying.
After five, I took a little break to calm down.
After ten, I was still freaking out a little.
Around twenty, it started to feel like I had been doing this my whole life.
My nerves were totally gone by twenty-five.

A few people said thanks but no thanks. Most were VERY nice. One was a little grumpy, but hey. I was often grumpy when I had a day job.

A few said they rarely hire copywriters, but to send something for the file.

A surprising number seemed quite enthusiastic and said to send over materials and follow up in a few days.

At least two acted like they had been sitting around all their lives waiting for a copywriter to call (highly gratifying, and kind of amusing considering they hadn't even seen my stuff yet).

No one yelled at me.

No one asked what the hell a copywriter is.

Though I tripped over my tongue a couple times, I didn't say anything too embarrassing.

So I have a ton of resumes, clips and links to send out tomorrow. It's a great feeling to have the first day over with (which I'm assuming is probably going to be the hardest by far).

It's only 4:00, but am having a delicious Dales Pale Ale now to reward self.