I know I’ve not posted a blog in quite some time. Sometimes life just takes interesting directions.
I stupidly pursued a business opportunity that ended up not being all that it appeared, and time is money. I explored professional content writing, and discovered that although I can do it, freelancing through various content markets is not my thing. I like to get to know my clients and subject matter, and taking 300 word one time content writing gigs, at the low rates those sites pay, I need up to 10 clients a day to make the writing financially worth it.
Besides chasing rainbows, I’ve sold more vintage, licensed and sold a few more cute clips of my cockatoos, picked up some random online gigs and more work through existing clients, taken some online courses, read up on SEO, lurked on WordPress forums, reflected, absorbed, synthesized… Needless to say, it’s been an interesting first six months of 2016.
I’ve discovered that I have a natural knack and acquired knowledge for Search Engine Optimization, and it’s probably the thing that I spend the most amount of time reading and learning about. I just discovered that Google Adwords Certification is now free, and am reading the study guide (my pre-test score was 78% out of 90 questions). I also tested on the low end of “expert” on a general SEO test that I took for a personnel agency. It was surprising to learn that I know more than I thought!
I have honestly been missing being in an office. Working 100% from home since last October has been challenging, although at first fun. I can focus, but I find myself keeping odd hours, mostly late at night, when the birds are asleep. If you don’t have three cockatoos and would like to experience how it is to work in the same house/building as them: strap digital amplifiers and speakers to three three year olds who have autism, give the three year olds scissors, feed the armed and amplified toddlers straight caffeine… and see what happens.
Even if I had more business, money is just something I need to support myself physically. I would still be a little bored of doing everything myself and tired of working on mostly smaller projects. If everything was working out superficially perfectly, I would still be ready for a major change. Through the past five and a half years, I’ve had the chance to discover parts of myself and abilities that I never knew! Perhaps more importantly than getting leads on what I could be better at and love, I’ve also realized, through honest attempting, what I am not good at and don’t like.
Unfortunately, one of the aspects of running my own businesses that I hate, is sales. I dislike talking about money, almost always under-value and under-price my services, and I completely despise cold calling. I am amazingly awesome at KEEPING my clients, once I finally get them, as providing amazing customer service has never been a problem for me.
I am not sure if I appreciate the work that salespeople do more, or that coders do more. I have no interest in either, even though I’ve tried to learn and become better at both.
I miss having someone else handle all the sales and new client generation, and I miss working as part of a team on bigger and more complex projects than what I can accomplish alone.
Recently, as I’ve started exploring the local St. Louis job market, I’ve discovered that I am passionate about online training. In 2007, I took one graduate level course on Instructional Design, towards my MSEd in instructional technology, and what I learned stuck with me more than any single class. Back in 2007, e-learning was still in its infancy, being done mostly through bigger universities and with lots of custom and clunky code. Even if a bunch of personal drama hadn’t happened in early 2008, I would still have probably dropped out because the technology and culture had not evolved to where I am and it was all geared towards instructing children (and not adults).
I have rediscovered my passion for creating online learning experiences.
Our society finally “gets” it, there are some amazing online learning management systems with no need to write code from scratch, and it just feels like the right time to get into online adult learning. In undergrad, the three years that I thought that I was going to be a middle school science teacher, I realized that I learn best by teaching. I never understood math so well as when I had to make fake lesson plans and learn how to teach statistics.
To that end, I’m brushing up my Instructional Design knowledge and working on a course called “How to create a compelling online course”, which will be sold and delivered on this site. I’m basically following my own lessons as I’m writing them (how “meta” is that?!), and teaching myself as I create online instructional material on how to create online learning experiences. On this project, I’m currently have only the rough draft of the first two lessons, although I have 5 units and currently 16 lessons planned. The 5th and “bonus” unit, I haven’t decided the content outline for, so there will probably end up being 20 lessons total. Curating and organizing information at this “first draft” stage is overwhelming; Ironically, this is the problem of online course development that I am trying to solve.
I am trying to the best of my knowledge and abilities to create this online course academically correctly, because it is a bigger goal to either pick up and finish my MSEd from Missouri State using this project as my graduate project, or finding another graduate level program or certification that will count this course as credit. I am citing with information that I can later put in APA format, and striving to find only the best and highest quality sources, so that I’ll have the highest chance of getting academic credit for this latest learning project of mine. Obviously, it would also be quite wonderful if an employer took note of this project as evidence of my self motivation, skills, and abilities to help their business out in the capacity of online learning coordinator, employee training coordinator, or similar role.
Ideally, I’m wanting to get full time employment either in training/development or in project management. My favorite model of Instructional Design, the ASSURE model, is, effectively, a project management paradigm. In my crazy and varied work history, I have done nothing consistently but project management. If I don’t have a system for doing things, and steps to make successes repeatable and measurable, it’s impossible to focus and impossible to figure out what went right or wrong with anything that I do, whether it’s building a new client’s website or managing an estate sale.
My current clients, I have (naturally) down to a system that requires minimal time to manage. Any additional maintenance or small project work for existing clients can easily be done on weekends and after hours. I pay extra for the best hosting so that client sites have never crashed in 5+ years. In anticipation of finding full time employment and making these changes, I’ve stopped my Google Ads and FaceBook ads. I am open to new clients until I find employment, but not as “hungry” as I was when I still planned on indefinitely freelancing my services the way that I was until last week.
At every previous job, I’ve quickly worked my way up or created my ideal position, so I’m not above a basic “foot in the door” position at somewhere with advancement and promotion potential that has great energy and is a place where I can learn and develop more professionally. I am very excited to start this new phase of my career, and am totally open to possibilities either as a full time employee or full time subcontractor for bigger agencies.