I haven’t done any work with my hands for the past few days — and I’m feeling it. I’ve been largely reading (big emphasis on reading), writing (to see if I could/did want to do that for a living — after a full day of writing, I got very deep into my own thoughts [not sure if I altogether want to see what’s there; I may be too…much, to want to speak honestly about my opinions and self with (commercial) clients…but that may be the nature of being creative]), and tinkering with numbers, trying to figure out what to charge.
I’ve been reading The Well-Fed Writer, 3rd ed. by Peter Bowerman, which just came out recently (I got it on pre-order). Originally, I found this book (1st ed.) through a friend; it’s about becoming a freelance copywriter and succeeding at it — evading that “starving artist” stereotype. Copywriting is essentially business writing, though sometimes the term specifically refers to writing advertising copy. In reality, Bowerman states that internal communications and Business-to-Business (B2B) writing together vastly overwhelm the amount of Business-to-Consumer (B2C) writing — IIRC. (Advertisements are B2C.)
Over time, I’ve noticed that most of the people noted in the first three chapters (I’m only on Chapter 4)…are not in my locality. Specifically, they’re mostly in the South and Southeast of the country — in which I would never live because of a history of exploitation and hostility against people like myself. I also just looked this person up, and it’s fairly apparent that he’s in a structurally privileged position (white male). He also states that he got into freelance copywriting without a writing background; however, he does have a sales background. That matters. His background is not worthless when it comes to freelance copywriting, though maybe it’s not apparent to him.
Having to deal with multiple stigmas (sociocultural barriers others have in relating to me), and being structurally disadvantaged because of my race, culture, sexuality, and gender — these are issues I have to deal with that he (apparently) doesn’t (he hasn’t gone into it). As well — he undervalues his sales background in his own success. As such, his attitude which amounts to, “if I can do it, anyone can,” doesn’t hold water with me. If it takes a customer getting comfortable with me before they will give me any job leads, that is; it will take me longer to reach that, “comfort,” level. (Unless — you know — the person relates to me.)
He wrote the book; I can take it or leave it. I get it. I also get to have my own viewpoint on it, and to speak that viewpoint. I don’t have to let his views overwrite mine, when it comes to gauging how much help his resources can be when it comes to my livelihood in specific. I’m assuming things aren’t going to be as easy for me as they were for him (he claims to have reached self-sufficiency within four months of starting freelancing).
Now…if we do relocate to where we’re thinking about relocating to, the race thing may become more of a benefit than a stigma (being White is more of a stigma there, due to unfortunate relations with the ancestors of much of the populace). As for whether I’d be able to pick up Writing work — it’s very well known that the Public Education system in the area is lacking. Thus, I’m thinking that there would be demand for skilled copywriters and communicators. Whether they could afford to pay me and I could compile that into a living wage along with my beadwork, that’s a different question.
(I should also not forget that I can take foreign language lessons in my desired tongue at that locale, which I’d expect to be better than the scant amount I can find, here.)
It’s also a different question if I’m looking to become a copywriter within the beading and jewelry industries, which so far as I can see are more inclusive (from where I happen to stand) where it comes to gender minorities, and flexibility in gender presentation. There are lower barriers (to me), there. Particularly since I have a background in the field.
I should also realize that my perspective could become an advantage, depending on my market. I mean, my perspective contains some unavoidable points of branding, and if I can embrace that as a positive rather than considering it a negative because it locks me out of being a generalist, I might do well.
Well, anyway. I should finish reading the book, but take it with a bit of salt.
You might have noticed that I have been writing this post instead of making jewelry. It’s further within my comfort zone. Maybe I need to be experimenting more and generating more patterns, instead of repeating the patterns I already know — that could be stimulating enough to draw me back to work. At this point…I’ve voluntarily disconnected, to take a look around and see what I’m not paying attention to while I’m beading.
Of course, part of that relates to this site, which has been partially filled out, but not entirely. As I intend the site to grow with me as a document…that’s relatively okay. It will probably always be in some state of growth (so long as I devote time to it). I have realized, however, that I’m devoting way more time to the blog than to the Pages. I’ve started to remedy this…though I’ll need to make a lot more content, and a lot more edits before I can properly organize my thoughts. (Don’t be surprised if things shuffle around in the near future.)
I am also seeing where it seems people may be unfamiliar with terms I use which are very basic to me, but which I learned when I was, say, 12 years old or before (e.g., what are needle-nose pliers?). It’s good for me to get the feedback: it shows me where I need to include further explanation, and/or images or illustrations. In beadwork, many things are more easily illustrated through pictures than explained with words. Beyond that, many things are more easily illustrated through videos than through still images, to the point where communication is possible even without language. If we talk about comfort levels; I am even less comfortable with video than I am with photography, at this point. It might be something I should take a look at…*cue technological anxiety*
But I likely should explore that. I’ve seen some job descriptions which looked pretty sweet, but required video (and video editing) skills, which I don’t have at the moment. I do have what I think I’ll need, however…
I’ve also been trying to figure out how to share projects which…require so much time to make as to be unaffordable (for you, and possibly, for me) — though I expect the cost in time, labor and materials to be so horrendously high that I haven’t even tried to estimate it, yet.
I am also not really aware of whether I should save these projects for a book (and hope the beads used are still in manufacture — in the same dimensions — at the time of publishing), or to release them through Etsy or another online selling platform for timeliness. It’s not what I originally imagined myself doing, but with some of these projects — I’d hate to charge for 3-4 hours of labor (a quick estimate), and once you understand how to create one component (that repeats) and open and close jump rings, you can basically do it. There may be a steep learning curve — I can’t precisely tell at this point, how it is for others — but at least you’ve got a chance at having the piece, you know?
Of course, though: that entails a bunch of customer care and assistance, after having published the pattern and having possibly supplied the beads and thread, needles, etc; and my heart’s not in teaching (especially teaching over the phone or through email; in-person might be difficult enough). Working with video (in addition to providing a PDF pattern) may be a better option.
Unfortunately, the question of whether I can output jewelry at a reasonable price that doesn’t sink me financially, and keep customers happy with my quality (or at least, not-frustrated) at the same time, seems to only be answerable by the real-world test: actually attempting to sell things. Or…tons of market research, which does not really sound all that fun. I know I normally like research…but this? This is basically trawling the Web for images and prices. Not great!
I kind of wonder: if I go where I want to with this, would that be Web Production?