Friday, September 23, 2011

Everyone's a monster until proven human

So a concerned friend of mine asked me why I use mutated humanoids in depicting clients, suppliers, co-creatives, and intangible concepts when telling my raketista adventures in this blog.
Her concern is that people (and intangible concepts) might get offended.  No one wants to see themselves as monsters, she said.  Monsters are bad... and ugly.

Ok, now I'm offended.  My monsters are NOT ugly!  Haha!

The truth is, if you've spent the most part of your career and life in organized advertising, freelancing would be an alien world to you.  Sidelining while in the industry, of course, happens.  But that's a side trip.  Diving kicking and screaming into freelancing without the safety net of regular pay, benefits, agency support, and lawyers --that's like a full blown trip into a black hole that extends into a worm hole that catapults you into a totally different universe!!!
A universe where anyone you come in contact with must be dealt with care... and caution.  You're in this alone.  If you don't know who or what you're dealing with (and in freelancing, you usually don't), then everyone is a monster until proven human.
That's why freelancing is all about establishing relationships, and sustaining them to the best of your abilities.  On the get-go, you never know.

That's my exaggerated explanation.

My simpler explanation:  It's just way cooler to draw monsters than humans.  MONSTERS ROCK!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nothing but Net10 Unlimited

This post is brought to you by Net10. All opinions are 100% mine.


I may whine a lot about them, but I do like helping out my clients.  From time to time.  It's a love/dislove relationship.  After all, how they run their business (and their lives) greatly affects my business (and my life!), too. :P  So, to all my beloved clients in the States, here's a little something called Net10 Unlimited.

You've heard about it.  But have you switched to it?  To those who have been holding off my payments due to a shortage of funds, yeah, I'm talking to you.  Lol!

Net10 is a simple and convenient wireless service that can be found everywhere in the U.S.  What makes it special?  It's ultra sweet Unlimited Plan.  Net10 Unlimited is a huge deal in savings and street smarts.  Imagine getting nationwide coverage, unlimited talk, text, and web, with stellar reception and connectivity --for a very manageable $50 a month!  Un-be-lieveable.
Oh, and with no contracts, no surprise bills, no credit checks!  I know -- No. Way.

What about International Long Distance, you ask?  It's got you covered in over 75 countries for just about 15 cents per minute.  Yes, dear clients --now you can call me and we can actually chat for real this time!  YEAH!  See how this thing works for your everyday work and everyday life?  In fact, if you have friends and family in Canada and Mexico, the International Neighbors Program even gives you a special phone number that keeps you in touch.  Net10 Unlimited... it just keeps on giving.

Real NET10 customer

Net 10's other monthly plans are just as juicy.  The Easy Minutes Plus Plan is an automatic minutes plan that starts at $15.00 for 200 minutes.  And with the Pay-As-You-Go Plans, your minutes carry over with active service.  Why, you can switch between plans each month to suit your budget and airtime needs without penalties or fees.  And buy additional airtime for any plan online, at a nearby store, or directly from your phone. Like I said... keeps on giving.



Last but not the least on this Net10 Unlimited feast, Net10 only uses trusted phone manufacturers like LG, Motorola, Kyocera, Nokia and Samsung.  It can give you simple phones for simple calling and texting for under $15.00.  If you want the ones with the essential features, like a camera, a video recorder, bluetooth capability, mobile web --Net10 has that for you under $40.00.  But, if you're a full QWERTY keyboard, slider, and touch screen phone with all the great apps kind of person, that's all yours for under $60.00.

Dear clients, Net10 Unlimited could very well be our connection to an even wonderful relationship.  Nothing but!  With that, let me summarize everything the best way I know how.  With an ad.

Cute NET10 commercial

Do check out https://www.facebook.com/NET10Wireless and http://twitter.com/#!/Net10_Wireless for more.

Visit Sponsor's Site

AIR

Boy, have I been a busy bee!  I still am.  But if I don't get to blog anything in the next 2 hours, I might just spontaenously combust and make a mess!

The source of this workaholic episode?  Teeth.
This is me biting more than I can chew.  Again.

I must probably be the most self-absorbed person in the whole world.  I assume that I have super powers and that I can take on loads upon loads of work because I actually believe I'm built for that kind of punishment.  But 9 days with very little sleep???  That's just.  Stupid.

Remember... (myself talking to myself) you are a FREElancer now.  So you can choose to say no, choose to resked, choose to move on, choose to live.  Look at your calendar and make sure to schedule 'come up for air' somewhere in there.  It's not just a practical move, but a healthier one.
WHOOOOOSH.....!

YES!  YES!  IT'S A STICK FIGURE!  Told you I'm busy!
When you've had your fill, remember... (myself talking to myself)... your bills.  Your debts.  And that vacation you're saving for.
BLAG-GAG!

Ok, back to the salt mine.  At least I DID get to schedule 'coming up for air' for a few minutes.  THAT'S brilliant time management.  Haha!
See ya again when I'm breathing less rapidly!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Persist, RaketChick, Persist

This isn't new news.  This handwritten inspirational letter from Pixar Animator, Austin Madison, has been circulating in Cyberworld for over a month now ...and has been sitting on Diego's (yes, my Macbook has a name) desktop for a week.
I go back to it when I'm just about to start work and need the pick-me-up.  I go back to it when I've been working for hours and need a follow-up kick to the noggin.  I go back to it when I feel the need to remind myself that creativity isn't a chore, but a gift.

To those who haven't seen this beautiful piece, here it is.



We have off days and the best way to get back on track is to get a rah-rah letter from a friend.  I honestly think it's the handwritten treatment that did it for me.  It's personal so it holds a deeper meaning.  This wouldn't work as well if it were typed in Times New Roman on an Office of the Top Honcho letterhead, believe me.

I suggest you keep Austin's letter on your desktop, too.  Something to visit and revisit when things don't work well in Raketsville.  I'm also seriously thinking of saving the letter on Luigi (yes, my LG phone has a name, too!  whaaat...!).

Thanks, Austin ol' pal!

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Please improve..."

For some unfathomable reason, some clients seem to think that when you're Creative, it means you're psychic as well.  No.  Sorry.  Love your insane confidence in me, but my greatness can only go so far.  Lol!
I can understand that sometimes the client can't really put his finger on what he wants.  It happens.  All he knows is that he doesn't like the material you presented so he says, "It's not that I don't like it.  It just needs something.  It needs ...improvement.  Thank you."   
That's it.  No elaboration.  No nothing.

Will you just go right ahead and 'improve it'?

"Please improve."
"Please improve further."
"Please improve some more.  We're almost there."
"What is THIS???  Please go back to the original and improve from there."
Friendly tip 1:  Never operate blindly.  Lead your client to proper articulation by asking the right questions:  "Do you want the visual bolder?", "Is the copy a little bland?", "Do you want something else highlighted?"  If you can't get a complete direction, at least get a modicum of one.  During the discussion, always go back to the brand's objective to keep both of you in line.

Friendly tip 2:  Speaking of lines, teach yourself to read between the lines, too.  Watch out for key words.  Know your client's taste.  Once you get a focused direction, go back to him with options.  There are a thousand ways to improve something (exactly!) so it's better to come back to him with at least 2 viable choices.

So what does this post tell you?  When given a vague direction, don't force yourself into burn-out.  Instead, be inquisitive and perceptive at the same time.  Sure, it's extra work on your part ...but at least it won't involve a crystal ball.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Have you got an inkling about Inkling?

If you don't, let me fill you in.

Inkling is the latest in freehand digital drawing technology from Wacom.  Inkling is the phenomenon that's out to obliterate your trusty little scanner.  Inkling is also the item sitting precariously at the top of my Christmas wish list.
To be concrete about it, the life of RaketChick depends on Inkling!

...

Ok, too much.  But with Inkling, RaketChick will be way awesome!
HOW SO?!  *wipes off drool*

Like all Wacom products, the handsome Inkling pack comes with a pressure-sensitive pen.  You can use it on any paper surface.  So when I suddenly decide to doodle on a napkin at a coffee shop, or sketch on a corner of a spreadsheet during a boring meeting, I can use it effortlessly.
Not rocking your world yet?  Just wait.

It also comes with a receiver, which sneakily looks like the innocent clip part of a clipboard.  Just clip it on the paper as you draw... aaand... the hotdamn receiver RECORDS your sketches and STORES them right there and then!  Every freaking pen stroke!  Every goddamn smudge!  Layer upon ridiculous layer!

But it's not done.  With a USB (also with the Inkling pack), you connect the receiver to your computer.  And your sketches are quickly offloaded.  Once the illustrations are safely on your desktop, you can go on right ahead and edit them.
Oh, yeeeeah.  I can manipulate my freehand drawings onscreen!  Can you even begin to see the possibilities unfolding here?  At the last minute before publishing... I can make RaketChick grow a third leg if I wanted to!

Seriously, Inkling by Wacom is manna from heaven for raketistas whose brains and fingers never seem to rest.  Their feet, too --since non-stop visual thinkers and on-the-spot conceptualizers need to be all over the place to make money. 

And if I'm going to be on-the-go --hell yeah, I'm going with my Inkling!
Hark --do I hear Christmas bells yonder?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

-isms

Hmmm... I've had a handful of those throughout my career.  Let's see...

Sexism.  An ex-boss forbade me from writing for a car company client because I'm a girl.  And girls know zilch about automobiles.  Or so he says.

Ageism.  Despite falling in love with my portfolio, a client refused to give me his web project because I wasn't young enough to write for future stuff like technology.

Rankism.  An old friend didn't want to hire me as his writer because I held a higher position than he did in the old days.  Up to now, this still confounds me.

Egoism.  Kinda like a jump-off from Rankism.  A friend totally didn't want me to be her colleague because she says I might outshine her.  Yes, she actually said that.

Fashionism.  A client thought I was rude for presenting creative materials to him --a doctor-- wearing a black dress and black boots. Apparently, people should be in formal wear when in the presence of honorable med men and women.

The black dress was decent, by the way.  And my boots were Linea Italia Glams!  Hmpf!

Fact is, man is naturally judgmental.  I call it Impressionophobia.  What could've been a good working relationship is severed even before it's begun simply because you weren't packaged the expected way.  In the work place, first impression kills everyday.  You're not even allowed a fighting chance.  Thanks to -ists who champion -isms.

Prejudice here.  Discrimination there.  At the end of the day, it's their loss, not yours.  As long as you have the brains, you're free to succeed and be appreciated elsewhere.

My brainy quip for the day:  If they can't see beyond your surface, then they don't deserve your depth.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Baby Talk

I haven't been a very good girl.  I haven't been practicing what I've preached back in the day when I still had my 'anaks'.

Oh, 'anaks' is my term of endearment for my old creative team at the old ad agency.  I don't call them 'my people', 'my subordinates', 'my underlings'.  They're 'my children' whom I trained to be better Creatives, whom I shaped to be better survivors.  That was all in them, of course.  What I did was simply give the push.

That push, I haven't been giving myself lately.

One of my golden rules then was 'Fight for your creative right'.  You know your craft better than anyone else in the room.  So don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  I did that for a good long time.  My 'anaks' did so, too.  We were a team.  And we always came out every war unscathed.

Here I am now, doing the exact opposite.  Selling myself short, selling out most of the time, and then spending the rest of the day kicking myself in the shin and whining about it.  Ok, I'm hard on myself.  I don't sell out on the first try.  I do fight.  But I do throw in the towel faster than before.

What I have now is a new rule: 'Never take things personally'.  When the shit hits the fan, when you've fallen and have gotten up, when you're done screaming for a good 3 seconds --move on.  No point in sulking over that beautiful ad your client has mangled into a sad piece of advertising junk.  Defeat happens.  There's a lot of other battles to get into and win.

It's a saner rule when you think about it.  Fighting is good, but letting go after a good fight works, too.  When you're working alone and fighting for no one else but yourself, it's time to be more practical, less emotional.  It's a little less fun, but one has to grow up sometime.

Thanks for the lollipop, ma'am.  Now, please turn around so I can beat you mercilessly with it.
Word, anaks!





Friday, September 2, 2011

The Commish

A.k.a. the commission, the cut, the finder's fee, the token, the 'little extra', the piece of the pie.
When do you expect it?  When do you get it?  When do you give it?

First thing's first, the Commish doesn't come easy to the excruciatingly shy person.  But commissions are essentials to Freelancing Survival.  You see, the commission is money you earn simply by giving a client's project to a someone else.  Maybe because you're already loaded, because the client is from hell, or because you simply want to help.  That's it.  Then, you bail out.  No skin off your shin.
If you have a nagging guilt trip about getting something out of nothing, this little earning method might not be for you.

Anyhoo...
You can expect it when you pass on a project to a friend.  If it's a huge project and your friend is feeling generous, he can give you a 10 to 20% cut on the project's payday, no questions asked.  He can say it upfront.  Or he can surprise you with a check when you least expect it.  The commission here is treated more like a thank you card.  A nice gesture for a nice gesture.  If it's a rock-bottom, small project... just walk away.

You can get it when you demand it at the very minute you tell your friend you have a project for him.  This requires thick-skinned magic.  If you're willing to go the distance of thick-skinned magic, you can even name your price.  With his back against the wall, your friend has no choice but to oblige.   The commission here comes in the guise of a business deal between friends.  A payment for passing, if you must.

On the flipside, you can give it, too.  When the tables are turned and you receive a project from a friend, you can offer him a meager percentage of the collected dough.  Keep in mind that your friend did 'sell' you to his client and sacrificed the project that could've been his.  You have every right to be grateful.  Tip:  Find out how much the budget is first before talking exact figures.

Remember, relationship is the core of the commish.  It may come off as tactful or tactless.  Tread carefully.  Make sure that when you get rid of a project, you're not getting rid of a friend, too.