3 ideas beyond the freelance echo chamber

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I enjoy freelancing blogs as much as anyone—a few of my regular haunts can be found in the blogroll. But while it’s comfortable and occasionally comforting to read, as Orwell’s Winston Smith would have it, “the things we already know,” it’s three items well outside the freelance echo chamber that I present for consideration today.

1. For investing and market insights. As an amateur stock market geek, I read 10 or so financial blogs on a daily basis. My favorite, for his calm style as well as his financial insights, is Random Roger. Freelancers often wail about not making enough money, but if you’re not saving as much as you can out of every check anyway, you’re being, um, naive. (And based on the results of the Freelance Forecast, which indicated only 61% of respondents contributed to a retirement plan, it seems to be a problem.) I, for one, don’t want to be eating cat food instead of sailing the Caribbean in my old age.

Roger also frequently references the yoga concept of “stay on your own mat,” i.e., not worrying about whether someone else is doing the positions better than you are. Same thing works with freelancing.

2. For contrarian views. The Ad Contrarian (Bob Hoffman, CEO of Hoffman/Lewis advertising in San Francisco and St. Louis) is cantankerous, funny, cynical, and a longtime vet of the advertising and marketing scene. He throws cold water on hot trends like no one else, and his eponymous free ebook is a must-read.

3. For serendipity. My newest find is Barking Up the Wrong Tree. Eric Barker is a writer for Wired, and his daily digest of psychological and behavioral studies is thought-provoking and practical: Recent posts include “How can you learn to be more charismatic?” “What are two easy ways to make yourself happier?” and “Can adopting other people’s perspectives make you smarter?” As a bonus, he led me to Inside Influence Report, which is run by Dr. Robert B. Cialdini, a renowned expert in the fields of persuasion, compliance, and negotiation, and author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and co-author of Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive—both of which have tons of applications for our own businesses as well as the communications we provide for our clients.

As I say, serendipity.

So, fellow freelancers, what are some of your favorite non-freelancing blogs that offer insights beyond our little freelance echo chamber — but whose lessons you can apply anyway? Please share in the comments!

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  1. Dr. Freelance says

    Thanks, Mike. That’s a great site, whether you use Thesis or not. I just wish I had more time to implement all their great ideas!

  2. Gillian says

    You mentioned some interesting sites, however, in terms of your first point, if a person has yet to make enough money to pay their bills every month, I’m not sure how they can to contribute to a retirement plan.

  3. Dr. Freelance says

    Thanks for commenting, Gillian. I wasn’t really thinking of the person who’s not yet making enough to pay the bills. It’s the person who allows their discretionary spending to ratchet up every time they get a nice check from a client.

    When I started out freelancing, my wife was a stay-at-home mom for two kids under 4. I was the only income, and it was $0 on Day One. So, no new cars, no vacations, no dinners out, no elective home improvements, and a second-hand Mac that wasn’t fancy but worked. It was a tough stretch, but we could sleep at night. And as soon as the bills were paid, the first order of business was saving—not spending.

    Please note, I’m not trying to sound holier-than-thou or pretending to be Suze Orman or Dave Ramsey. I’m just saying that we need to look out for ourselves and our families, because nobody else will.

  4. says

    Jake, thanks for some great links. It’s the business side that is newer to me. The business writing-got that down. So, I really appreciate the helpful hints for taking care of business.

    P.S. Love that freelance echo chamber term. 🙂

  5. Dr. Freelance says

    Thanks, Cathy. Always happy to cross pollinate 😉 (Always wondered, why is that spelled with an “i” instead of an “e”? Hmmm.)

    Every industry has an echo chamber, ours is no different. I think your point is exactly right, though: Most of us have the writing part down pat; it’s the other aspects that can use some shoring up. Moreover, it can help when talking to clients, too, to bring an extra breadth of knowledge outside of impeccable grammar and wordcraft.

  6. Wendy says

    I don’t follow too many blogs anymore. It was taking up too much of my time, so I cut down to a handful of writing blogs. There is one that I can’t seem to stop checking out and that’s the blog on gocomics.com. It’s my mindless entertainment fix to get me through the workday.

  7. Dr. Freelance says

    That’s a great one, Wendy. There’s certainly a place for taking a mental break that’s got nothing at all to do with Serious Work Things!

  8. says

    One of my alltime favorites is creativecopychallenge.com – sure it’s writing, but it’s so different than what I usually do… and the creativity is marvelous.

    Jonathanfields.com is another favorite of mine. And lifehacker – I fiddle there in the evenings on my ipad.

    great idea for a post too… I’ll probably use it, and even credit you with it.


  9. Dr. Freelance says

    Good ones, Anne. Thanks for sharing. And feel free to riff off my musings!

    And bob, thanks for dropping by. You never fail to make me think, laugh, cringe, shake my fist at the sky, or all four. (Not necessarily simultaneously.)