How Business Can Be Like the Moon

I’ve worked in the news industry — both as a freelance journalist and a staff writer — for the past 14 years. One of the things that’s unique in the journalism world is deadlines are sacrosanct. This is for numerous reasons. For one, news is fast moving so if you don’t publish as soon as possible, it’s likely some update will have occurred and you’ll have missed writing about it. (One only has to think about COVID-19 for this to make sense.) If your competitor has written about the topic and you haven’t, you look incompetent.

The second reason deadlines are sacred harkens back to newspaper days before everything became digital. Newspaper editors set aside space in the layout of the paper for a specific story. They assigned writers a certain number of words, or more commonly, inches. If the writer failed to deliver there would literally be empty space in the paper, unless people could scramble and find something else.

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These days with digital there’s more fluidity, but even still, if a writer misses a deadline it often means their story just won’t get published. Maybe ever. One of the things I’ve found most challenging about running my own business as an Oakland freelance ghostwriter and freelance content writer is not everyone has the same view of deadlines that I do. They view deadlines as guideposts, as something to shoot for, but totally fine if they blow past.

What that means for me is I frequently have weeks that are jampacked, they’re a flurry of activity, and then that all stops. Work dwindles to a trickle and I have almost nothing going on. My business waxes and wanes like the moon. At first, I found that unsettling and missed the constant flow that characterizes the journalism industry. But then I realized it’s fine. That as spiritual teacher Tosha Silver often says, “All delays are beneficial.” And also that each period of pause is followed by a period of speed. Moreover, sometimes the pause, the break, is just what’s needed to gain momentum before leaping forward. If you think about a rocket, it builds up heat and pressure before launching into space. I think people, and business, are the same way.

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We often denigrate periods of rest because in the West we lionize productivity, but what if like the moon, we wax and wane? And because business is made up of people, it does the same?

I’m not going to lie, there are days where I wish people valued deadlines as much as I did, but there are also days that I relish the decreased pressure. Days where instead of homing in on my computer screen I can take the time to gaze out the window and notice my plants waving in the wind. Or appreciate the flock of birds flying by. When you’re constantly stressed and have your nose to the grindstone, it’s harder to take time to notice the little things. At least that’s the case for me. So perhaps if a business is like the moon, it’s more sustainable in the long run.

Do you need help showcasing your unique skillset, or what makes your business special? Are you looking for someone to take the pressure off of writing? If so, contact me. I’d love to hear from you.

Maybe You’re Blue Because. . .

What’s funny about life right now is I’m bored despite having have plenty to do. My days are filled with content writing, ghostwriting, interviewing, researching. I also have free time to watch Netflix, read books, and talk on the phone. In the evenings I’m on Zoom calls, taking yoga classes, and meditating with friends. But somehow I still feel listless. How can that be?

I’ve discovered it’s because I have to ensure my weeks contain certain activities, otherwise I become sulky and bluesy. I’ve learned I have to do the things that make me come alive. In this instance, my days are lacking storytelling.

Oakland freelance writer

It’s likely obvious by now that I love to write. I’m an Oakland freelance writer with clients all over the country (and I’m open to international clients as well!). I write for therapists, for homeopaths, chiropractors, and busy professionals. I write about linking somatic techniques with talk therapy. I write about using MRI to detect breast cancer. I write about the role of feelings at the office. All of that writing is fulfilling in various ways but what I’m not writing enough of are feature articles.

Feature articles are profiles, interviews, and stories. If you’ve ever read an interview with a celebrity, that’s a feature article. I love feature articles (both reading and writing them) because they’re fun. They involve interviewing someone else (or multiple someones) and crafting a story from that information.

I’m at the point now where I recognize I have to write feature articles even if I’m not getting paid for them just because I love doing it. I notice my basic needs can be met and the days will still stretch endlessly because something important is missing. I’m doing some of the things that bring me joy, but not all of them. In this instance, it’s storytelling. I have one client I’m doing that for, but it’s not enough. (Are you a homeopath, chiropractor, or some other professional looking to drum up business? Contact me about writing features for you.) It’s not only about offering that service to someone else, it’s also because it brings me joy. However, the other writing brings me joy as well! I couldn’t drop any of the kinds of writing I’m doing because they all meet different needs.

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People often say to have a niche when it comes to business. To focus on one thing and do it well. It’s good advice but I’m unhappy if I only do one sort of writing. I’m more a “variety is the spice of life” gal. No variety equals boredom for me and that boredom can turn into depression. I’d like to avoid that if I can. So what do I do? All the writing! I know I’ve only been in business as an Oakland freelance content writer and ghostwriter for a short time, but so far writing about a lot of different things in various ways is working for me. Time will tell if it continues to work, but so far so good!

What about you? Do you focus on one niche or do you cast a wider net? Tell me in the comments below. And again, if you’re looking for a freelance content writer or ghostwriter, let’s chat to see if we’re a good fit.

How You Contribute Has Value

A version of this post originally appeared on my blog Another World is Probable. 

About a month ago I wrote a post about being the kind of people we want others to be. I mentioned the peace prayer, which is often mistakenly called the St. Francis prayer. I linked to a couple of stories of ex-KKK members who changed their ways based on relationships with people they used to hate.

After I wrote the post, I started to question the value of what I do, of how I help others. Does it really make a difference that I’m a freelance content writer? Am I changing anyone’s life in a deep and profound way by leading a group meditation on Sundays? Would I make more of an impact by befriending someone who is in the KKK and supporting their exit from the Klan?

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Literally within a few hours of thinking those thoughts I was zoombombed by neo-Nazis at the group meditation I lead. They started scribbling swastikas over my screen. They asked how many Jews we’ve killed and did whatever they could to disrupt the meeting before my co-moderator and I ejected them. (Since then we’ve tightened security measures at the meeting to keep incidents like that from happening again.)

After I calmed down, I started to laugh. It was as if the universe said to me, “Really? Are you sure you want to befriend neo-Nazis? Are you sure the form of service you provide isn’t worthwhile?” The universe answered my question very quickly and validated for me, yes, this is what my gifts are, and yes, they are needed.

I bring this up because I’ve had conversations with several people – both White and Black – who have lots of feelings about not being on the streets protesting the treatment of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). There’s a feeling they “should” be and maybe some guilt that they aren’t. I get it because I feel that way too. I want to support BIPOC. I want them to know I’m not OK with how they are treated and protesting is one way to demonstrate that. However, my nervous system cannot handle large crowds. I start to panic when I’m in large groups which is why I never attend concerts or sports games at large stadiums. Even going to a shopping mall wipes me out.

Freelance content writer

Recently I went to a small protest near my house but there is no way I can be in a throng of people. When I think about my zoombombing experience, I realize that’s OK. Everyone has different gifts and different abilities. We are all special in our own way and however we’re choosing to show up in the world is valid. A symphony orchestra requires numerous instruments to create beautiful music. Humanity is like that symphony – we can’t all be the cello.

If you think about it, that’s true in nature as well. Diversity is the law of nature and that means we’re all needed. The way that I contribute to Black Lives Matter is important. And so is the way you contribute.

As a freelance content writer I haven’t written anything award-winning, but that doesn’t mean the stuff I write is garbage. And in fact, I’ve written many posts for clients about racism and being a good ally. I don’t have a huge following, but I still have influence. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we’re not doing that we forget about what we are doing. And what we are doing matters, it has value. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, including yourself.

How to Sell During COVID-19

I have an Instagram page where I post quotes from the novel I wrote, books I’m reading, funny memes, that sort of thing. Because I list myself as an author, I receive solicitations from people who want to sell me consulting services or offer me tools that I could use to promote my book (if I had one). I’ve noticed a trend in the way people are pitching to me lately that feels disingenuous.

They start off with a compliment (“Wow! You have great content!”) and then follow it up with a question (“How long have you been doing this?”). When I reply, they come back with another compliment (“That’s incredible!). And then they hit me with the sales pitch, which feels like the real reason they reached out in the first place. Do they actually think my content is great or are they only saying that to butter me up? I don’t have a problem with appreciation, as long as it’s real. But saying the same general thing to me as 50 other authors make me feel devalued.

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I’m not interested in the services being pitched to me for a variety of reasons, but the sales people keep pressing, asking why not and if they can work around my hesitation. I have no doubt this strategy is an avenue for selling, and it likely works for some people, but for me it’s a huge turn off. My philosophy in business is to establish a relationship. I strive to be friendly with my clients because we’re both giving and receiving. I don’t want to take someone’s money and run – I want to provide a service that my client can actually use.

I’m reminded of a story from Tosha Silver’s book Change Me Prayers. She said for her first book, she shopped it around to several bookstores and in one store, the manager said, “You can leave a copy for our ‘pile’ in the back room. Then you could call a ton and plead with us. If you get lucky, maybe one day we’ll stock it. Just keep hoping.”

Tosha’s response was, “Oh, my God, no! Why would I keep twisting your arm? It’ll go easily to the places that are right. You never have to convince someone. The people who are right will just know.” And sure enough, that happened with other store clerks. They were thrilled at the idea of stocking her book and one even threw her a party. That’s what I want for me too (maybe not the party, unless it’s over Zoom!).

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I want selling to be easy and smooth. That’s not to say no effort is required because of course action is always necessary, but the energy is different. Instead of twisting someone’s arm, pressuring them to work with me, I understand the right clients, customers, partners, etc. have already been selected and we’ll be guided to each other easily (and gratefully). I want to work with people who want to work with me. If I have to convince someone, are we a good match? Likely not.

I feel like especially now when most people are stressed, sliding in and out of depression, and struggling in some form or fashion, the best thing I can do is offer my services as a freelance ghostwriter, content writer, and editor. Emphasis on the “offer.” I’m opening my hands, saying “here you go,” and letting people take me or leave me. I’m not waving my hands in front of their face and saying “take this, take this, take this.” For me that makes all the difference.

If you’re a busy professional like a therapist in need of a ghostwriter, connect with me. If you’re looking for a unique way to promote your business through storytelling, I’d love to help with that too. If you just want someone to make sure your resume doesn’t have any typos, I can also handle that! Just reach out and I’d be glad to help.

The Secret to a Successful Business

The reality is I haven’t been in business long enough to have any clout to reveal the secret to a successful business, BUT there are some things I’m noticing right out of the gate. AND I’ve been talking to other people who have been in business way longer than me. The following is what I/we found.

The secret is. . .

I thought people would want to use my freelance content marketing services because I convinced them of its value. After all, research shows the importance of having a blog so surely everyone wants what I’m offering, right? Because they understand it will help their business thrive and boost visibility on search engines? Well, no. It surprised me to learn my rational explanations mean diddly if there’s not an emotional component as well.

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We like to think of ourselves as logical, reasonable creatures, but actually the majority of our decisions are made by the subconscious part of our brains, sometimes referred to as our reptilian brain. That includes purchasing decisions as well and why storytelling in business is so important. Research on advertising shows the emotional response to an ad influences a person’s intention to buy much greater than the ad’s content itself. Why is that? Because emotionally charged storytelling creates a rush of dopamine in the brain, particularly in the amygdala, which is responsible for memory, according to the Ted talk “Storytelling, Psychology, and Neuroscience” by Amanda D’Annucci.

For instance, if you think about the toxic masculinity ad from Gillette, it got people talking and also created brand loyalty because people vibed with the ad. We want to support businesses that are in alignment with our values and one of the best ways to show a value is through storytelling and emotion. However, I’m not selling razors, so how does this apply to me? The emotional component comes down to this: People are more likely to hire their friends.

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“[E]mployers really want people who they will bond with, who they will feel good around, who will be their friend,” according to Dr. Lauren Rivera at Northwestern University who examined 120 interviews and published her results in the American Sociological Review. We all want to work with people we like, and yes, I’m an Oakland freelance writer and not an employee, but the premise still applies. “Employers” in my case are clients and clients want to work with friends. Thus far that’s proving to be true. My current clients and potential clients are friends or we have a friend in common. This makes sense, right? It’s essentially a form of word-of-mouth advertising, which is the most trusted form with 86% of consumers trusting word-of-mouth.

We trust our friends and we care about what they think. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg said: “People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”

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I am asking my friends and family to refer me out of course (hey, can you refer me out?), but I’m also approaching potential clients as if they were friends. I’m doing my best to establish a friendly rapport because the reality is business comes down to relationships. We are in relationship with one another trading a good or service. In my case, I’m trading blogposts for money but it could also be trading water bottles or razors or widgets. We want to do business with people we like and what I’m finding is that starts from the very first point of contact.

Do you want to connect with me and be my new business friend? Get in touch.

An Example of Ghostwriting for Therapists

One of my specialties is ghostwriting for therapists, whether that’s blogs or books. Today I wanted to showcase an example of that work. As a disclaimer, I am NOT a licensed therapist so please don’t hold me liable for your mental health care. My work as a ghostwriter is to serve busy professionals who don’t have time to write for themselves, not to be a stand-in for a therapist.

Why Therapy Works

If you’re not currently in therapy, you may be wondering if therapy actually works or if it’s a bunch of baloney. Is therapy just for people who don’t have enough friends to talk to? (The short answer is “no.”)

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There are many different kinds of therapy – EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, used to treat trauma), cognitive behavioral therapy (used to disrupt negative thinking patterns), somatic therapy (used to put a person in touch with their body), expressive arts therapy (using art to promote emotional growth), and about a billion more. Each modality has its own unique characteristics with research backing why it’s effective. This is not a post going into the science behind every sort of therapy, but instead perhaps a controversial statement about why therapy works in general. Therapy works because at its heart it’s a healing relationship.

What I mean is regardless of the modality, the therapist and the patient inevitably enter into a relationship where the therapist is viewed as an authority figure, perhaps even a parental stand-in, which is often called an attachment figure. When the therapist meets with the client consistently, that creates a secure base and allows the client to feel safe, if the therapist isn’t abusive or critical that is. The therapist becomes a person the client can rely on, a person they can trust consistently for perhaps the first time in their life. Don’t underestimate the power of that.

There are several therapies focused on repairing the ruptured attachment bond people experienced in their childhoods from parents who couldn’t give them what they needed. One such therapy, person-centered therapy, stems from influential humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers. He proposed healing occurs in a climate of safety and trust. In person-centered therapy, the therapist becomes a secure attachment figure and part of that means empathic understanding, or mirroring a client’s emotions without judgment.

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Often the therapist will help the client regulate their emotions through empathy and a change in perspective, which helps the client learn to do the same thing for themselves. The client internalizes the warmth and understanding of their therapist, often hearing their voice internally. That voice becomes the new tape playing in the client’s mind instead of a highly critical or shame-based one. The therapist assumes the functions of a nurturing parent to repair lost trust, restore security, and help a person regulate their emotions as well as experience healthy intimacy, which many people did not receive during their childhoods.

What’s interesting is in the book Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy: An Integrative Approach, Elsie Jones-Smith states in the 2013 Delphi poll of expert therapists, only a relatively small percentage said their primary theoretical affiliation is person-centered, even though most subscribe to the importance of therapist empathy. What I take that to mean is whether a therapist is conscious of it or not, empathy plays a huge role in a client’s healing process, and inevitably so does the relational aspect.

In fact, research from Ohio shows that empathy, warmth, hopefulness, and emotional expressiveness led to improved client outcomes more so than adherence to a specific approach.

What’s also fascinating is the research coming from psychologist Allan Schore of the University of California, Los Angeles, who has studied attachment from the viewpoint of neurobiology over the past 20 years. He said change as a result of therapy occurs not so much in the intellectual communication between client and therapist, but in a more imperceptible way – through a conversation between two brains and two bodies.

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A good therapist subconsciously tunes in to the unexpressed emotions of a client and adjusts their body language in response to the client’s internal rhythms, engaging in a “kind of dance in which both partners mutually influence and synchronize themselves to each other,” according to an essay on Aeon.co regarding the subject. The essay also states that according to Schore’s research, over time the nonverbal attachment communications from the therapist can “become imprinted into the client’s right brain, revising stored coping patterns, and giving rise to more flexible and adaptive ones.”

That means during therapy, a client’s brain is getting rewired. They are learning a new way of being and thinking. That in turn allows the client to cope better with stress and difficult emotions so that eventually they no longer need therapy. And because the clients have learned to take better care of themselves, they can in turn take better care of others, which creates a ripple effect. That ripple fosters safer homes and communities, but it all starts with the one-on-one relationship.

When you’re working with a client, keep in mind that you may not say the “perfect” thing, or engage in the “perfect” way, but ultimately that’s OK because when it comes down to it, your relationship is more important than any of that.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, contact me about working together. I’d love to partner with you on your writing project.