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Archives for February 2011

A Freelance Writer’s Life Abroad: Inside Peek at My Life as an American Living in Jamaica for a Year, Part XVII

Hot Showers in Jamaica – Cost: About $7

When I got my first apartment in Jamaica in April of last year, it had hot water. I moved to a brand new building last summer – into a brand new studio apartment. It has no hot water. I wasn’t aware of this when I moved in because it’s not something we have to think about in the states because all apartments as a matter of course come with hot water, right?

Note: Read all posts in this “living in Jamaica” series.

Apparently here in Jamaica though, it’s not out of the norm for an apartment NOT to have hot water. I braved the cold showers for months but, except for rare occasions, I’m not a cold shower kind of girl. So when I returned this month, I brought with me a solar shower.

Cost in currency: $7.

Cost to me: Priceless.

Getting Hot Water in an Apartment in Jamaica

Yuwanda-in-NegrilThere are contraptions you can buy to put on your shower that will give you hot water. They run anywhere from about $35 on up to about $120, plus the cost to have someone to install it. This can be anywhere from about $30-$50.

So, getting hot shower water is no big deal and not too expensive. But, it’s the running around and getting everything and scheduling with the landlord and an electrician to get the thingamabob installed is what has caused me to procrastinate.

The building I live in is constructed out of stone, which means that there’s going to have to be some drilling in the shower stall, some re-installation of tiles, etc. My landlord is great and would be very accommodating but as I’ll be moving again in a few months, I didn’t want to have all of this done, then have to go through it all again in a few months.

Why Am I Moving Again?

I’ll be moving to the top floor of the current building I live in – which has three-quarter views of the ocean with a balcony. I can’t wait! But, the top floor is not finished yet. I’m currently on the first floor.

The building is in stages of construction. Only the first floor was finished when I moved in and there are only three tenants – me and two others.

apt-building-jamaicaThe reason the landlord/owner hasn’t finished the building is because most homes/apartment buildings here in Jamaica are not constructed by way of loan; ie, many don’t take out mortgages like we do in the states (which I think is hella smart!).

You’ll see a lot of homes in Jamaica in various stages of construction. It may take some 10 or 15 years or more to finish building their home. But when it’s finished, it’s all paid for. Considering the foreclosure crisis we’re still experiencing in the states, we could learn a lesson from this supposedly “third-world” country.

The landlord is starting on the third floor now, and my apartment up there should be done probably around August or so.

Solar Showers: What They Are & Why They’re So Great

A friend of my sister’s back in the states keeps provisions on hand for things like when the lights go out, when there’s no water, etc. She’s one of those eccentric types, but she’s always prepared for everything.

For example, if you invite her over for a BBQ, you don’t have to worry about her having somewhere to sit or getting her a cold drink because she’ll come with her “lawn chair setup;” complete with umbrella, cooler, bottle of rum, coke and a bag of ice.

She told my sister once that she gets a lot of her gear from the camping department. So as I was browsing the camping department of my local Walmart for a rain slicker to cover my laptop bag (with no car, I do a lot of walking in Negril and those rain showers can come out of nowhere), I spotted these things called “solar showers.”

living-in-jamaica-solar-showerAs the photo illustrates, it’s basically just a big plastic bag with a shower hose attached to the end. You sit it in the sun for a few hours and then hang it in your shower and let loose the shower hose to bathe with.

And you know what? It works beautifully!

The water gets really warm; in fact, it can get really hot and you could burn yourself if you’re not careful. The most delightful surprise for me though was that the little spray hose on it comes with some pretty good pressure. I was skeptical, but it does the job just great.

The only thing I don’t like is that I have to stoop down in the shower to rinse off because if you raise the hose, you cut off the water flow. But, I just plop down in the tub like a two-year-old and get my shower on! ANYTHING beats cold water (I literally can’t stand cold shower water; again, except on very rare occasions).

Before discovering the solar shower, I was all set to get the hot water contraption in my current apartment when I got back this month. But now, I have no problems waiting until I move upstairs. Because I’ll be in this building for a few years at least, I’m waiting to invest in this more permanent solution.

Speaking of Bathing

Tomorrow, I’m going on a little road trip for the weekend. Part of this will consist of a visit to the hot mineral springs (Bath Fountain) in the parish of St. Thomas here in Jamaica. I’ll be shooting some video and will share it in my next post in the series.

That’s it for this Girl a Go Go this week. Enjoy the weekend!

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A Freelance Writer’s Life Abroad: Inside Peek at My Life as an American Living in Jamaica for a Year, Part XVI

It’s been a while since I added a post to this series. Sorry about that. I left Negril in November and went back home for the holidays.

I wound up staying home longer than intended because:

YuwandainJamaica-Feb2011(i) it was the holidays; and

(ii) I adore winter weather and we had an abundance of it in Atlanta over the holidays – complete with snow and everything.

I have a fireplace, so I enjoyed being cocooned at home.

After a few months though, I was dying to get back to Jamaica. Mainly because I got a little chubby over the holidays and I wasn’t working out. I’m a runner, but I hate working out in the cold, so most days, instead of hitting the treadmill in my basement, my butt was glued to the couch watching TV and expanding!

BirthdayGirl2011Now that I’m back in Jamaica (got back last week just in time to celebrate my birthday), I’m in full swing. Have lost about half of the 13 lbs I gained over the holiday season.

My under plunders are still a little tight, but I refuse to buy new ones. I’m just buckling down and losing the weight instead.

One of My Favorite Spots in Negril, Jamaica: Maasoppie’s

Since I’ve been back, I’ve been out every night. As I’ve talked about in previous posts in this series, it’s practically impossible to stay home here because everything is within walking distance and there’s a bar on practically every street corner. I adore bars! And, the drinks are cheap – once you know where to go and how to order like the locals.

Massopies1One of my favorite little bar haunts is a place my sister and I have named Massoppie’s. It’s because the bartender/waiter/cook/barkeeper there is named Maasop. The actual name of the place is Firewater Love Nest.

It’s one of the most beautiful spots in Negril because it’s on the cliffs and you get a great view of the ocean.

The views and sunsets here (as the photos showcase) are simply breathtaking.

Unparalleled Views of the Ocean and the Cliffs

It’s basically just a little hut on the cliffs overlooking the ocean.

Massopies4Sitting in the chairs, you can see the curved edge of the ragged cliffs, the magnificent expanse of the ocean, the waves crashing into the cliffs, boats sailing by and fish jumping in the water.

Descending the Cliffs to Swim and Snorkel

My friend Maasop traverses the cliffs and descends into the water to swim, fish and just “hang out,” as he puts it.

There’s a pretty steep drop to get down the cliffs to the water, and it’s all jagged. If you fall, you could really hurt yourself. But Maasop manages them like he’s walking on solid earth. I mean, not one misstep. It’s crazy how comfortable he is waking on those cliffs.

He’s promised to take me snorkeling here, but I’m like, “How am I going to get down there?” He’s like, “Don’t worry, you’ll be with me and I won’t let anything happen to you.”

Massopies5So, although I’m a little freaked out, I’m gonna do it, because it’s such a beautiful, lagoon-like spot to swim in and see lots of fish.

Can’t Beat the Food and Drink

FYI, if you’re ever in Negril, check out the Firewater Love Nest. The drinks are very reasonable and when Maasop cooks, it’s amazing. He usually does grilled chicken and fish with “festival.”

Festival is similar to cornbread, but a little sweeter and it’s shaped like “baby corndogs”, for lack of a better description.

Forget the Carbs, You’re in Jamaica Mon!

Massopies3Anyway, it’s delish and really filling. I kinda forget about the carbs when I eat it because usually, I’ve been swimming or working out and really need food with some substance to it. This fits the bill every time!

Now that I’m back in Negril for a spell, I’ll be posting regularly to the “living in Jamaica” series again. If you have any questions about Negril, feel free to send them in. I’ll answer as best as I can.

FYI, the last photo here is me sitting in a chair at Firewater’s overlooking the cliffs in my brand new golashes. It had rained that day. Massopies2When it does, there are tons of puddles all over Negril. So, I splished, splashed my way to Massoppie’s in these little buddies. Some of the best money I’ve ever spent on shoes!

Off to the Beach

Today is the last day of my semi-vacation, so I’m off to sign up for cable, then head to the beach. Have a great weekend.

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Freelance Writing Advice: How to Be Successful and NOT Actually Love Being a Freelance Writer

Yesterday, I received the following email from a disheartened freelance writer. She wrote:

I’m one of your former students who is having a challenge maintaining momentum with my business.  How do you keep it going after the “honeymoon” is over?  Getting your e-newsletter [on freelance writing] inspires me because you are so dedicated and love what you do and never miss a beat.  I’d like to be a person of your stature someday.  Please let me know “the secret sauce.” Thanks so much!

Yesterday, I was going to write a Valentines’ Day post touting all of the things I love about being a freelance writer. But, as I’m back in Jamaica, I got sidetracked working out and exploring outdoors because the weather is so gorgeous. So, what does this have to do with the question?

Well, to be honest, I don’t actually “love” being a writer. In fact, I’d say I only enjoy it about 25% of the time. What I do enjoy about being a writer though is the life that it allows me to have (eg, work from anywhere, take a day off unexpectedly and still make money, travel at will, etc.).

THESE are the things that “keep it going for me after the honeymoon is over.”

THIS is why I’m so dedicated. THIS is why I [almost] never miss a beat.

But it took me years to get here.

Loving the Rewards of Being a Freelance Writer, but Overlooking the Work

When many of us see successful people, all we tend to focus on is their success. Take Oprah, for example. We all know she’s a billionaire and everything she touches seems to turn to gold. But, no one remembers that she slaved away at local television stations for years (years!) before she became “the Big O.”

Only in the last couple of years have I started to experience some modicum of success that’s allowed me to accomplish some of my dreams, eg, living abroad. I’ve been a freelance writer since 1993. That’s almost 20 years that I’ve been slaving away, building a brand and a name for myself.

I’ve worked weekends, nights, early mornings and other times when I wanted to be doing so many other things. But, I had a vision of what I wanted my life to be like. And most of all, I didn’t want to ever have to work for someone else again – ever!

This (and becoming financially secure via my own product sales) is what keeps me going more than anything else. So I sit my arse down and do what I have to — whether I feel like it or not.

disheartened-freelance-writerDiscouraged as a Freelance Writer? Here are 4 Things You Can Do to Get Your Mojo Back

To get specific, following are four things I advise anyone who’s a little discouraged with their freelance writing career to do.

I. Have a life plan: I’ve talked about this ad nauseam, so I won’t rehash it here. What I will say is, having a life plan – a clear vision of what you want out of life in a year, three years, five years, etc. – will give you something to hang on to when the going gets tough.

II. Focus on the Rewards, Not the Work: As I said, I’m not in love with writing. In fact, I have a hard time calling myself “a writer.” But I love the life that it allows me to lead and that’s what I focus on about being a writer.

So when I have to sit down and write a batch of articles for a client, I focus on getting paid and what it’s going to allow me to do (eg, add more to savings, go on that boat snorkeling trip, pay rent on my Jamaica apartment for six months, etc.).

III. Accept that Hard Work Is Part of Success: Unfortunately, there is no shortcut to success. There just isn’t. So don’t even look or hope for one. In fact, embrace hard work; it’s a mindset more than anything. Once you embrace it, it will make doing it so much easier. In fact, you may even look forward to it.  

I tell my sister all the time that I’m a wannabe lazy person. She laughs because she says I work harder than anyone she knows. And it’s true; I do work a lot. But, I see the rewards that come from it – new newsletter subscribers, new products being developed and completed, increased ebook sales, etc.

This keeps me inspired.

IV. Set Measureable Goals: My mom used to say, “Time is gonna pass; it’s up to you what you do with it.” So if you don’t put in the work today, where will you be in a year, three years, five years, etc.? I’ve said this ad nauseam before too:

Time is your biggest asset as a freelance writer. Don’t waste it, and don’t allow anyone else too either.

This is why I set goals – and carve out time to accomplish them. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you plan for it and put in the work. For example, my plan to write 32 ebooks this year and have 50 published on Amazon by year’s end. I got a few emails that basically said I was crazy.

But you know what, I know I’m going to achieve this because when I set the goal, I mapped out a plan of how I was going to get there.

When you have a goal in mind (and what it’s going to mean to your life to actually accomplish that goal), you get fired up to achieve it.

Developing more products will increase my income, which will allow me to work less, while still maintaining the lifestyle I’ve come to love. Think I’m fired up to achieve this goal?

Hell yeah!

See what I mean by having a goal – and really internalizing what it’s going to mean to your life to actually see it come true?

I hope these four things help you to get excited about your freelance writing career again. Get more insight into how to get your freelance writing mojo back.

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3 Reasons It’s Important for All Freelance Writers – Not Just SEO Copywriters — to Learn SEO

One of my freelance writing goals for 2011 is to have at least 50 ebooks on Amazon by year’s end. So this past weekend, I was working on my latest one, roughly entitled, How to Make Money Online Publishing Niche Websites. As I was fleshing out the outline, I wrote in a section about learning SEO.

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How to Get Super Organized with Your Income So You Avoid Being an Old, Broke Freelance Writer‏

This is the post I promised in this newsletter a couple of weeks back. I realized that I could write a book on this subject (in fact, I’ve had it on my list to write for a few years now), so I’m going to talk about the major thing I did that got me on track to avoid being an old, broke freelance writer who must push the pen for her supper.

Not a pretty picture, is it?

Calendar of Earnings

If you’ve read through a few of my newsletters, you know that I have several income streams, namely: (i) sale of my ebooks and classes; (ii) affiliate marketing income; and (iii) writing-for-clients income.

Last year for the first time, the income I made from my products and services and promoting affiliate products outpaced what I make writing for clients.

For a few months last year, I kept a pretty detailed calendar. Then, I’d go for several months without keeping track of anything.

Well, as I decided I wanted to increase my income by at least a third this year (in effect, give myself a raise), I decided go back to keeping daily records. I track every penny that comes in.

You see, in my head, I know what I more or less make. But, whenever I keep detailed (daily) records, I’m constantly amazed by how much I’m able to glean, ie, which products are selling; which products aren’t doing so hot; what times of the day/week most sales are made; what times of the month are slow times; etc.

In short, your numbers will never lie to you.

What I’ve Been Able to Tell by January Earnings & How It’s Helping Me Reach My Income Goals

With a full month of tracked, daily earnings under my belt so far this year, I beat my income projection for the month by almost 10%. Following is what I’ve been able to glean that helped me to do so . . .

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