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An Alternative to Traditional Freelance Work

(This guy might be happier working from home.)
I know that many of you freelancers are doing very well with your business, and that's great!  If you're looking for a little extra cash, however, you may consider doing something a bit different.  The good news is that there are plenty of work-at-home call center jobs available for companies within the U.S. 
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The Snow is But a Memory

Can you believe we might not have a white Christmas this year?  We did have a little snow last week, and my kids went crazy:

Here's hoping for just a small amount of the cold stuff -- it's our children's wish!
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If you hate spiders (like me), this post will either delight or disgust you.

We awoke a week or so ago to find the entire world was covered in spider webs.  My children discovered that their trikes and sandbox and our cars and even the garden was coated with a milky white webbing that seemed surreal and unlikely.  On top of these webs were hundreds of the tiniest baby spiders I had ever seen.  They were everywhere!

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5 Tips to Help You Freelance through Floods, Tornadoes and Other Natural Disasters

The following is a guest post from a good colleague, Thursday Bram.

I’ve freelanced through blizzards, brush fires, the first five seconds of an earthquake and a few other natural disasters. I haven’t worked through a hurricane yet, but it’s just a matter of time.

Getting the work done at those times is generally surprisingly easy — but the mechanics of actually handling clients and other details can be a big problem. Losing power means something very different when you live in the heart of a big city and when you live out where a county is the main authority. At a minimum, it can mean a couple of days difference in how quickly your power is restored. Internet access can be similarly problematic right after a natural disaster.

Clients can be fairly easy to deal with when there’s such problems, provided you can keep them updated. That means that setting up plans ahead of time can be crucial. These tips have helped me keep my client list intact through everything Mother Nature has thrown at me so far — and when that hurricane comes, I’ll be ready for it.
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Fall Happenings on the Knerl Farm

It's fall!  We are finally back to (somewhat) normal after our flooding scare.  While we are still without a few items (like bedroom furniture and a few larger farm equipment pieces), we have settled back into a normal routine.

This autumn, some things are just like every year.  But some things are not.

The kids are enjoying the outdoors.  This is typical.
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A Carrot-Pickin' Injury

Can you pick out the perp from the line up?

I (nearly) passed out on my bathroom floor yesterday.  The farmer was holding my hand above my head, examining the chunk of flesh or foreign matter that was protruding from my finger and causing the blood to drip down my hand.
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Mixing Business with Peas...

Getting our lives back together after the partial flood evacuation hasn't been easy.  In fact, we've had our stuff all over the place, and many things are where they don't belong.  One example?  Our new orphan baby goat, who has had to stay in our garage while we built her a suitable and safe home.

The discussion surrounding the goat/garage issue over cocktails at BlogHer 11 prompted a storage products company to feature me in a promotional video they did.  You have to see it to believe it!

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Can't Compete? Be Unique!

I used to play a game in my freelance blogging career called "beat the keyword." I would find out what keywords were driving traffic to competitor's blogs, and write better articles then they did based on those words.  I thought, "Hey, if I have a better Google Page Rank, use clear titles, and actually answer people's questions, I can't lose!"

Turns out, I did lose.
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Friend or Foe? How Competitors can Earn you Cash

(Photo by MartinEric via Flickr)

It's been awhile since we blogged about freelancing.  This is because the farming part of our operation has taken up so much time!  We'll be catching you up on our garden and the birth of a new goat kid soon.  In the meantime, here is a quick tip on how to use your competitors to earn you MORE money!
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Lil' Farmers (and Freelancers) In Training

What do I do with my kids while I'm writing in the mornings?

If' it's nice outside, I send them out with only their imaginations and some (kid-safe) farm tools to keep them busy.  Even the youngest gets in on the action:

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Slow Jams

The freelance business has been a bit slow here, and that's been a blessing (considering all the flood nonsense that's been happening.)  We have decided to move most things back onto the homestead, and are back into full swing with the garden, yard, and animals.
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It's Not Too Late for a Garden!

We thought we were really behind the 8-ball this year.  We hadn't planted anything when we returned back from our family vacation the last week of May.  With the flooding upon us, however, I'm glad we had waited.  Just 11 days after planting most things from seed, we have this:

Beans in top row; Radishes on bottom

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The Big Flood of 2011

While we at the farm are safe, for now, many of our friends and family have left their homes in anticipation of the big flood.  With many more increases to the flow of the dams to be expected in the coming months, it is a waiting game.  Here are some photos of the road just a mile east of our home.  It is breathtaking to see the river choosing to go wherever it wants...

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Tree Blossoms for a Beautiful Bouquet

Yes, your trees needs those blossoms, especially if they are fruit bearing.  Taking a few sprigs from a decorative flowering tree (like our crabapple), however is just as delicious to smell as it is to look at.  (I found a few Siberian Iris blooms that likely won't last another day, and added them to the mix.  Iris is my favorite flower.)  Those of you with lilacs have my undying jealousy...

I'm no florist, and as the farmer will tell you, I don't even try to be.  My kitchen was smelling a bit musty, however, and this works much better than your standard air freshener or candle!

Happy Spring!
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Publishing Notes for April 2011

It's been a while since we've updated you on our publishing notes.  It's not that we haven't been busy writing, it's just that telling you about it takes more time than we've had to spare, lately. Between the farm, the kids, and the conferences the farmer and I are starting to attend in 2011, there's no getting near the bottom of our to-do list.  Here is a rundown of some of our more notable published pieces from April.  Enjoy!
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Up to No Good

My 11-month old son is loud, so when we didn't hear much from him this afternoon, we looked around the corner into the entryway, where we saw this...

Only on the farm, where the eggs are fresh.
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A Showjumping Cow?!?

The Farmer thought this was cute. Maybe an idea for our little Maggie?

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Two Yolks are Better Than One

Today I was sorting the eggs for cartoning, when I came across a rather long one (see the warped looking one at the top).  Sometimes, this can mean there are actually TWO yolks within the one egg.  We took bets on whether there would be.
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Introducing... Peanut!

My kids were blessed to see baby goats born at my parents' house yesterday, but after we had gone home, a surprise little birth from another expecting Mama goat was revealed to the world.  This little "Peanut" as my mom calls her, was born so tiny, they weren't sure she would survive.  And while she still has a fight ahead of her, she has already won the battle for my kids' hearts.
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Do You AeroGrow?

In theory, the AeroGarden is brilliant.  This little grow-light is actually a self-contained growing station.  It provides water, a small amount of soil, nutrients, and perfectly oxygenated water.  It also looks cool.
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Following in My Footsteps

It was a beautiful day for a walk today.  While breezy, the air was crisp and the sun was warm.  We heard jets overhead, geese calling in the distance, and the giggles from the kids as they skipped along our gravel road to a visit to Grandma's house (who lives next door.)

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Late Night Supper of Muffins and Eggs

Sometimes, our best laid plans get really messed up.  With a crying baby, another sleepless night, and our number one helper (our daughter) gone for the weekend, things were rather unstructured today.  We did get quite a bit done INSIDE the house, including washing and boxing up over 6 dozen eggs from the past two days.  I also cleaned out the fridge and found a portion of a box of blueberries that needed to be used TODAY.  Both treats inspired a late night supper fit for a king (or queen).

Our fresh eggs waiting to be cooked up next to our steaming hot fresh muffins:

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Is Writing For Search (Alone) Without Value?

UPDATE: See the leaked AOL business plan at Business Insider for some very revealing (and disturbing) information on how freelancers are being dealt with.  

It's been a quickly changing world for freelancers.  Sites like AOL, Yahoo, and others have consolidated with previously high-paying media outlets and have turned to their existing pool of freelancers to keep them in content.  For someone like me, who has happily worked for freelance site AOL Seed and similar others, I thought that this could be a good opportunity to pad my earnings with some straightforward SEO pieces that could be fun to write.  What I didn't expect is the new trend of offering practically nothing to the reader and writer in exchange to many words and click-throughs.

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Down to the Swimming Hole, i.e. the Front Yard

Brutal cold one week.. swimming in the melted snow the next. Isn't Nebraska weather crazy? (Music credit: http://www.danosongs.com/)  Sorry it's not in hi-def this time.. I grabbed the first video camera I could when I saw the action!

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Chick in a Box

The farmer has a good heart.. especially when it comes to chickens.  The kind creatures give us eggs, keep the bugs at bay, and are otherwise fine farm companions.  They don't take to the cold well, however, and we try to have them stay inside as much as possible when temps are below 30.   Today, farmer found a hen that had managed to remain outside for over 24 hours while the rest were cooped up.  (They sometimes try to roost in the trees at night, and this was an attempt to keep from having to go back in during our last warm spell.)  She was cold, hungry, and had lost much of her comb.  The other chickens had sensed her weakness and were ready to take her apart.  Farmer brought her in for some TLC...
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What We're Reading: Publish Your Nonfiction Book

It became very apparent to me about 4 weeks ago that I was going to write a nonfiction book.  While I'll leave the topic of the book a secret for now, it's something that I would consider myself to be an expert in, and there are very few books on the market that even touch the topic in the manner I'm proposing.  I have had some experience with the proposal process via my involvement in Wise Bread's 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget, but because I was starting this book from scratch (i.e., not based on blog posts), I had some work ahead of me.
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Sometimes, Farm Livin' Stinks

Not a puppy horror show... just Gilbert.
If you've never witnessed the odor of a freshly-sprayed pet by a wild skunk, you're super-lucky.  Our rat terrier came into the house this weekend after an altercation one of the animals.  He wasn't hurt, except for his pride and possibly the tear glands of his eyes, which were running from the strong spray.  We didn't catch it at first, as he strolled right through the entryway into my daugther's room (who was soundly sleeping).  I was talking to my husband when a sickening smell filled my nostrils, causing my stomach to do a sort of flip-flop, and I knew we were in trouble.
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Publishing Notes for January 2011

Arr, Matey's!
We had some great new clients added to our new year, which means the writing projects have been MORE than plentiful.  Here are a few of the articles that we are most proud of... enjoy!
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Surprise and Loss on the Farm

Sometimes, even farming as a hobby can be filled with sorrow.

Our daughter came running into the house on Saturday morning, yelling "Maggie had a baby!"  We didn't even know that our beautiful Dexter cow (shown in the picture to the right of our website) had been pregnant.  She miscarried with her first calf last winter, and hadn't shown signs of getting any love from her beau "Elvis" in months.  We assumed that she just couldn't get pregnant.

We were wrong.
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Can You Detect an Affiliate Job Scam?

 (I'm training my kids up NOT to be schmucks.)

Craiglist has jobs. This I don't deny. But the hack jobs are becoming more irritating than normal, due in part to pathetic affiliate marketers trying to score my sign-ups for some quick cash. And they have gotten better at what they do (unfortunately.) What's the scheme? Read up and be amazed: