Guiding The Evolution From Nothingness to Maturity | Internetly Vol. 7
On conquering the Wild West of the internet, the art of description, and taking your freelance business seriously.
If you knew me well, you’d know I have a tattoo of an oak tree leaf nestled on my ribcage. Like the walking white girl stereotype I am, I got the tattoo in a little shop in Chiang Mai while I was backpacking across Asia solo.
To make matters worse, I based the tattoo on a passage from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat Pray Love. Like I said - it’s bad.
Disregarding the cliches, the message behind the ink remains prevalent. Here’s the exact passage that struck me enough to get an actual leaf tattooed on me:
“The Zen Buddhists say that an oak tree is brought into creation by two forces at the same time.
Obviously, there is the acorn from which it all begins, the seed which holds all the promise and potential, which grows into the tree. Everybody can see that.
But only a few can recognize that there is another force operating here as well — the future tree itself, which wants so badly to exist that it pulls the acorn into being, drawing the seedling forth with longing out of the void, guiding the evolution from nothingness to maturity.
In this respect, say the Zens, it is the oak tree that creates the very acorn from which it was born.
Have you ever felt drawn towards something but couldn’t explain why? The idea of it might terrify you, but you’re compelled to dive into the unknown. In my heart of hearts, I see this unseen force as our future selves. This untangible version of you is waiting for you to grow into it and is your cheerleader.
We so badly want to bring this future version of ourselves into existence that we make decisions in obscurity. We guide ourselves through our own evolution. From nothingness to maturity. From seed to oak tree.
🖼 On Becoming a Prolific Creator
This week Medium handed out up to $500 to 1,000 lucky writers who had high engagement with their articles in April.
Yeah, I wasn’t one of them.
This whole shebang reminded me of an atomic essay I wrote back in January. I compared what’s happening online right now to the gold rush of the Wild West.
The mini-article handles the logistics of how to begin staking a claim in this newfound digital land, but I want to emphasize how much opportunity is around right now.
Medium is not the only company that’s handing out hundreds of dollars to content creators. Just this week:
Twitter released Tip Jar which allows users to send money to their favorite accounts.
Instagram has announced a trio of brand new tools (Creator Shops, Affiliate Commerce, Branded Content Marketplace) to help creators monetize.
Platforms are making it increasingly easier for creators to make a living. Without content creators, these platforms are nothing.
There is a gold rush happening, except in this scenario companies are actively encouraging you and paying you to get to building. In what other world would this happen?
Get a shovel and get to digging ⛏
Social media platforms are handing out cash for you to start creating. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is.
🥒 Content Diet
Each week, 1-3 resources to help stimulate your noggin.
I. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
I’ve finished The Untethered Soul and started reading The Alchemist. That book is part of the “I’m starting to become spiritual” starter pack so it’s required reading.
Here’s my favorite quote so far:
“If someone isn't what others want them to be, the others become angry.
Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”
How many times have you felt the seed of judgment make itself comfortable in the pit of your stomach before it soils everything? We indulge in judgment because it provides temporary relief but we forget judgment is a one-size-fits-all ordeal. If you judge other people, you also harshly judge yourself.
Everyone seems to know how other people should lead their lives but has no idea about their own. 🤔
II. This Art of Description by Patricia Mou in Wellness Wisdom
I am obsessed with Patricia Mou’s newsletter, Wellness Wisdom. Her writing bursts with luxurious detail and fascinating technological insights. But first, just look at the way she describes this coffee shop.
Now that’s some good writing.
Notice how Patricia evokes the five senses here.
You can taste the buttery croissant. Hear the soothing jazz melting in with the hushed voices. You feel the sunlight on your skin, see the creamy hues, smell the nutty aroma.
This is a miniature golden lesson in writing: show, don’t tell. If Patricia had said:
“You walk through the doorway and into the coffee shop. It’s a sunny day and there are about ten or fifteen people inside. You order a croissant and begin reading your book.”
Yawn. I mean, c’mon - take your reader on an adventure for crying out loud!
When describing a scene, evoke the five senses to make your description come to life.
✍🏼 Freelancing Journey
This Week: Make Your Expectations Crystal Clear
Are you even a freelancer if you haven’t worked on a project where you ended up doing more work than you intended?
Story of our lives, right. It’s happened to everyone I know. They agree on compensation with a client, but then the client begins piling up little things, and before you know the scope of work has exceeded your original expectations.
It can start looking like this:
Clients asking to hop on a call at a moment’s notice.
Clients scheduling you for calls you didn't agree to.
Clients asking you for an overnight turn-around time.
Clients asking you to interview multiple sources you didn’t know about.
Clients asking you to take care of the distribution.
What does a freelancer do in this uncomfortable situation?
I spoke to online writer Nicolas Cole about this messy ordeal. Cole is writing an entire guide about freelancing so it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two.
Here’s what he suggested:
As the month wraps up, propose hopping on a call with the client to touch base and assess how everything’s going. During the call say something along these lines;
“Hey, just wanted to touch base here. We've gotten used to working together and I've learned more about your process and what this seems to be requiring from a time investment standpoint.
In order to hop on calls and work under tight deadlines as you request, this has ended up taking up more time than I had originally imagined.”
Then, you’re going to suggest two alternatives:
Increase the rate (not the best path, as this increases their expectations)
Decrease the time investment.
If they opt to pass for both of those things, you finish it off by saying, “Then this project doesn't work for me at this rate. This is my last month / next month will be my last month."
I’m writing all this down now and I’m shuddering. Ugh. Talk about uncomfortable confrontation. But this part of the job as a freelancer. You’re not just providing your services, you’re running a business. And no business gets very far if they don’t take themselves seriously.
Thanks for much for reading 🌈
If you enjoyed this newsletter, I’d appreciate you subscribing (if you aren’t already!) or telling a pal about it. I put quite some time into these, so any morsel of appreciation is duly noted!
Anywho, have a wonderful week, whoever you are. Remember to keep on goin’ on.
- Alice 💌