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On Assignment…

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If you need me, I’ll be on assignment for Craft Pittsburgh. On my bike. In 32-degree weather. Hoping for snow!

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New Launch: Orbytel

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Working with strategic marketing and Web design firm, Insivia, I created web copy for label maker (and newly branded), Orbytel. And… the site is launched!

Putting a Label on Interactive Design from Insivia’s blog

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We eat in public, so I cover my mouth.

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With my inability to cook (aside from my awesome lasagna last night — you’re WELCOME), you think I wouldn’t complain so much when someone else is doing it for me. But I have problems — some would call phobias — about certain foods in public.

But then, last weekend I had a CRAB ROLL IN MY MOUTH by accident. I cannot fault myself, as I am a newfound sushi lover, having eaten regular fish for the first time this past year after over a decade abstaining. Just as I was chewing away at its delightful texture and rawness, AB told me to spit it out.

“You have my crab sushi.”

Thank you, sushi restaurant for combining orders on multiple incorrect plates. When AB told the waiter, he switched out the proper combination of food orders (back in the kitchen).

But he never did bring me a new napkin (or take away my old one… ew).

Thankfully, no bathroom stalls or walls or floors were harmed by projectile vomit or a nervous breakdown as a result with this incident. I’m sure it helped that I was already drunk.

I can’t so much as label this a food PHOBIA, being that it’s an actual ALLERGY (thankfully, not deadly… but doubly thankful that my friend had an EPI-pen on her), but there are certain food items I will stay away from.

JUST IN CASE.

And mostly as my past experiences dictate.

For instance, meat in Mexican restaurants. Caused likely from too many episodes of Kitchen Nightmares, I do not order chicken, beef, fish (and of course, seafood) at any eatery that serves a glob of refried beans and rice on my plate. I opt for yummy, incredibly delicious cheese (and sometimes onions, if not mixed with green peppers) enchiladas. And extra sour cream because I’m dangerous.

To save face, err stomach, if it’s ANYTHING at Yo Rita, I’m eating it. I would seriously even consider the potential shellfish allergy effects. DAMMIT those are some good tacos.

So, when I joined Downtown Pittsburgh Lunch Club this past week, what did I get? Enchiladas with chicken. *puke* Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long for a correct replacement (as I was already starving from the rationing of chips that day).

Speaking of chickens (and their deliciousness outside of a wrapped corn tortilla), I completely lose my appetite if I have to saw/cut/dismember any piece of one with bones. If the chicken is in a scrumptious wing or drumstick shape, breaded and slathered with the best BBQ or buffalo sauce, then I am fine. But I cannot see it in its natural form. Excavating an entire chicken nearly caused me to turn vegetarian.

I also fear buffets. And potlucks. Especially from homes with multiple cats and coworkers with body odor and messy desks.

And I cannot stand the smell of popcorn in public spaces. It smells like vomit. And then you’re stuck in the small theater in the middle row and EVERYONE around you decides that the LARGEST POPCORN for sale is awesome and then you can’t move because then you can’t see the screen because you forget your glasses. Again. NOMNOMNOM — MORE BUTTER!

Excuse me… I have to throw up.

What are your food phobias?

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The SPAM hit the fans.

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I get a lot of spam on this blog. While Akismet sends most of those canned responses to the spam filter, it also sends ACTUAL, REAL comments there, so I have to approve, spam or delete everything in both folders (the plug-in, it only assumes so well). It’s so time consuming, but hilarious reading fun at times. While, I’m used to the typical porn/medication/celebrity sort of spamminess, recently I started receiving compliments from my spammer friends. I was even tempted to approve a few, if not for the duplication of shit I know I would receive:

This post is so amazing, I almost spontaneously conceived a child just from reading it. Just incredible.

That would be from a funeral home. For serious!

I love the blog. Great post. It is very true, people must learn how to learn before they can learn. lol i know it sounds funny but its very true. . .

This gets a capitalized WHAT THE FRICK?! From the movie cast of Showgirls, nonetheless. Heh.

But now the shit’s getting dirty. I’m getting spam comments that are ripping on me, my blog and my writing:

Uhh are you making this up? This post is some f-ed up sh*t kid. Ive met braindead chimpanzees who were smarter than you.

Nowhere within your rambling, incoherent post was there any sign of intelligence. I provide you with no points and might God have mercy in your soul.

*blink*

*blink*

Well then… Internet Spammer: 1 – Mel: 0

Have any spam to share with the rest of the class?

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Made to Order

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I’m a sucker for a good burger — even more so if I can have the juiciest, bloodiest medium-rare burger. With cheese, of course. But those perfect hamburger dreams can quickly spoil upon receiving a sandwich that is blackened, char-grilled and cooked so dry that it is unpalatable. I don’t claim to be a cook (for seriously, ask my partner), but at least I know that a rare burger should have a lot more than a bit of pink in it. It should be oozing, dripping delicious juices… ahem.

But is it my place to tell you when my burger is overcooked?

Yes.

This analogy can easily be compared to my work with clients. Sometimes my copy can be, well, over or under-cooked. Perhaps it could require just a bit more sales oompfh, or maybe I went a little overboard on the snark. Every business, industry and individual has its own target audience and its own approach to messaging. But what good is that message if I’m not writing it for its intended purpose and reader?

You hire me because you need SEO consulting or Web content, and you trust that you know what I’m doing (I do). But just the same, it’s more likely that you know your business better than I do. I try to get as much information out of my clients as possible during a first meeting (or email) — and most of that is through listening. I hear your tone, your company history, your goals, your adjectives, and most importantly, your PASSION. And I translate all that into words for your vision and visitors (and little bit for Google). And yes, I’m incredibly good at it (toot, toot). I sit back and enjoy my creation (and wipe the grease off my face from over-imbibing in that deliciously cooked cheeseburger). But for as much information as I gather before the start of a project, sometimes I get the wrong order.

Now don’t get me wrong, a little creativity and an extra piece of cheese rarely makes anyone upset — it could make a great project idea even better. But only the person placing the order can make that determination. I always take accountability for my misinterpretations, and as freelancers — just as that cook — we need to adjust our own ideas to what the customer expects. Client relationships require honest feedback and open communication from both sides, which doesn’t mean you tell me how to do my job… just that you have another preference.

Some times a redo is necessary and sincerely makes all the difference. But if we never tell someone, “this is not what I ordered,” — copy OR burgers — they will never be able to correct the mistake.

I sat and ate that stupid burger in silence — it wasn’t at all what I wanted, and I should have said something (which I beat myself up for afterward, especially after paying the bill). While I may have waited longer than the rest of my table for my meal, it would have made my experience better.

And my stomach a lot happier.

As a client, how do you tell your freelancers that his/her content doesn’t meet your expectations? And as a freelancer, do you include these necessary rewrites as part of your services?

UPDATE: Ha! And randomly, I discover this gem from The Oatmeal today about client relationships.

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