Farewell Google Reader, Hello Bloglovin’

Those of you who read this blog on the website or via email can ignore this quickie housekeeping post.

But if you read this blog through Google Reader, this is just a head’s up to let you know that since Google Reader’s days are numbered, I have now claimed my blog on Bloglovin’ and you can follow it over there.

I am personally still adjusting to the loss of Google Reader (and pondering why Google killed that but not the completely irrelevant Google Plus?) but Bloglovin’ is growing on me, despite the cheesy name. If there are other blog readers that you use/love/want to see this blog on, let me know and I’ll figure out how to make that happen.

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Exercise: Learning To Love It [Elle, June 2013]

Elle Magazine Virginia Sole-Smith June 2013

The June 2013 issue of Elle is “The Body Issue,” and I contributed this essay on the science of exercise motivation and my personal quest to stop thinking of my workouts as yet another chore (to be avoided at all costs) and start being one of those people who actually craves physical activity and gets grouchy when they can’t do it.

Elle "Exercise Learn To Love It," June 2013 by Virginia Sole-Smith

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No, Editors Won’t Steal Your Ideas

I did a fun interview last month with Grace Bello, who is a journalist, copy writer and writing teacher who writes for the Freelance Strategist. The (very smart!) piece is now up over here. If you don’t know about Freelance Strategist (I, um, did not) — it’s a cool blog run by Contently, which is a free portfolio site for journalists to showcase their work and connect with editors and what have you. I haven’t used Contently myself yet, but a prospective client was just telling me last week how he finds it pretty useful for finding new writers. So I should probably get on that. There is, as they say, buzz, and maybe you should check it out (and tell me how it works for you!).

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[Freelance Life] A Day in the Life of Amy Palanjian

So Pretty! Crochet by Amy PalanjianSo Pretty! Felt by Amy Palanjian

So now that you’ve seen how I work the Magic Hour and spend too much time talking to my cats, it’s time for our first official peek at a day in the life of another freelancer. Kicking things off is the very awesome Amy Palanjian. Amy and I bonded instantly when we were hired as assistant editors at the now-dead Organic Style in 2004. The magazine was run on such a shoestring budget that instead of having cubicles, we shared a conference table with two other editors — ensuring that we would either get entirely sick of each other or become best friends. Spoiler alert: It was the latter. 

I’ve decided that in addition to hearing how these freelance writers spend their day, you’re also going to want to hear a little bit about what kind of work they do and how they got where they are — so keep reading for that conversation with Amy after her daily routine.

Here is Amy:

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Who Makes Less Than $10.10 per Hour? Women.

Just a quick one because I wanted to share this compelling infographic designed by the National Women’s Law Center. Per the email they sent around:

[Last week] Senator Harkin and Representative Miller introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013. This bill would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, then provide for automatic adjustments linked to changes in the cost of living. The bill would also gradually raise the minimum wage for tipped workers, which has been frozen at just $2.13 per hour for more than 20 years. And let’s not forget President Obama’s words of support for increasing the minimum wage in his most recent State of the Union address. 

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[The Freelance Life] On Writing for “Exposure” and What We Need to Do About It

Here is a rule that I have about email: Once more than five people send me a link to something, I have to really read it and Have Thoughts. This week, it will not surprise you to hear that the link I keep getting emailed is Nate Thayer’s dust-up with The Atlantic when one of their online editors asked him to write a 1200 word article for “exposure.” (If you missed this whole deal and want a good summary of how The Atlantic and general world responded to Nate’s post, check out Jane Friedman’s excellent write-up here.)

“Exposure” is just a fancy word for “free.” As regular readers of this blog know, I am not a fan of working for free, although there are a few respectable instances where you might decide that it makes sense and exposure is one of them. Ironic case in point: I let that very blog post about not working for free be re-posted to Medium and Ed2010 for free – because those sites are run by colleagues who I like and respect and because I know they have lots of freelancers among their readership, so the piece could reach people who would find it helpful.

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Sexism and Body Shaming, Oscars Edition

I fully admit to falling asleep after Russell Crowe ruined the Les Mis group singalong, but now that I’ve caught up on the remaining 19 hours of the Oscars last night, there are a few things I think we need to talk about.

1. Enough with the Black Swanning already.

Forget your feelings about her nipple-y dress and overly earnest acceptance speech, Anne Hathaway killed it f*cking dead as Fantine and I’m glad she won. At the same time, I am not excited about two big wins, two years in a row, for already-tiny actresses winnowing down to skeleton size for these roles. I know there’s a case to be made for method acting and I guess, yes, an 18th century French prostitute dying of consumption would be pretty starved-looking. (Though the chicks who played her on Broadway never seem to need to go there.) See also an insane ballerina. But the media frenzy around these weight-loss-for-art stories only reinforces our skewed ideas about what women need to look like to be successful. We do not get this lathered up when male actors change their body shape for a part, period. It also gets in the way of appreciating the fine acting these women are actually doing because instead of talking about the interesting choices they made with their brains, we’re thinking, as usual, that women are their bodies and not much more.

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A Day in The Freelance Life

Co-worker Walter gets on top of some filing. 

Introducing a new feature for The Freelance Life: Day in the Life snapshots! I love when other blogs do these — especially So How Was Your Day?, which obviously does nothing but — because I am absolutely beyond nosey (yes I will also look in your bathroom cabinets when you invite me over, without a modicum of shame). And with freelancing, there are just so many endless variations on how you could spend your day! But I have a working theory that while there are many different effective working styles, there are better and worse things you can do with your time to be productive and successful. And that perhaps the freelancer stereotype of sleeping until 3 PM, working in your pajamas and eating Ramen noodles for all your meals falls into the “worse” category.

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[Mission Statement] What’s Going On With This Blog

2013 marks my fourth year of blogging, and when I look back over how this blog (and this whole website, and my career and my whole life while we’re on the subject) has evolved during that time, it’s a little amazing to me.

But what may amaze and delight me may be confusing to my lovely readers. As in, I’ve noticed a lot of new subscribers in the past few months — and a lot of new un-subscribers. Ouch… except I understand why. People often come to my site because they’ve read a specific story that I’ve written elsewhere — and then understandably get bored or turned off when they realize that I don’t blog 24/7 about that specific topic. (Be it MLM marketing scams or lighthouse renovations or what have you.)

So I thought it would be helpful to all you readers, new and old, if I sketched out a clearer mission statement for this blog and kept it posted right here on the top of the blog page, always and forever. (Or until everything about this site evolves again and that no longer makes sense.)

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[The Freelance Life] On Getting Paid (And Knowing Your Worth)

When you’re starting out as a freelance writer (or really, in any creative/media-driven career), this really annoying thing happens: People ask you to work for free. A lot.

I don’t know too many lawyers or investment bankers or insert-almost-any-other-profession-here who have to work gratis or for “stipends” (read: slave wages and maybe some swag from the beauty closet) for years before they get a regular paycheck, but in our industry, it’s a rite of passage. I’m one of the “lucky” ones because I got most of my unpaid labor done in college via three unpaid magazine internships. I made fantastic connections at these “jobs,” and one of them turned into a full-time job after college, so lots of people would say, you see? Luck. But what really makes me lucky is that I come from a family who supported my career goals and were financially able to subsidize the huge corporations benefiting from my pro bono photocopying all those semesters by covering my living expenses through college and for a wee bit afterwards. #thanksagainparentalunits!

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