Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Year

A year ago, I was a "retired" attorney (the Bars like to call me "inactive", which I take as a personal affront). And a stay-at-home mom with four kids, a Suburban and a blog.

The mortgage crisis was taking its financial toll on our family income and I was casually looking around, trying to figure out what I could do to generate a little bit of extra cash. But the conditions were strict. Must be able to continue to stay home. Must have flexible hours due to school, twin toddlers, soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, summer camps, religious ed, dance class, etc.

I toyed with re-activating my law license and realized that it would require many hours of (and dollars for) CLE. And the payoff was uncertain. My experience in the legal practice is that most attorneys don't understand/care about the demands of children. (Have I told you the story of my former law partner who volunteered his secretary to babysit my infant in our office so that I could attend a meeting with him? Without asking her about it first? Oh, there's so much more...)

So, last March, I made a proposal for a freelance writing job. It was blogging for a legal information website. Sounded fun - blog about celebrities and family law. I could cruise gossip blogs and People magazine for "research". I made my pitch without a portfolio. I actually cringe about it now when I think that I offered this blog as evidence that I could follow the basic rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation. I miraculously got hired.

A year later, I still write eight posts a month for that site. I also edit the other portions of that site. I write a bit of the informational stuff as well. The owner of that site has recently hired me to write a criminal law blog on an attorney's website. Good people on the internets.

Beginning with that one job, I was able to expand my writing portfolio substantially last year. I wrote for a travel site, for a maternity and newborn site, for several legal/attorney sites, for some retail sites and more.

And in the midst of the writing experiment, a friend and I started a website about local children's activities. On a lark, we launched a year ago tomorrow. We now have 700 subscribers, 140 Facebook fans and 125 followers on Twitter. We'll clear 40,000 pageviews this month, up from 0 last year at this time. Sprint Center advertises with us as do several other well-respected local merchants, services and attractions. Yay for us! I couldn't be more proud.

Late last year, I launched another blog too - this one, a shopping guide for cool kids' stuff including clothes, furniture and toys. I haven't had time to fully develop it yet - hoping to put some work into this spring.

I think back a year - I knew nothing about search engine optimization, search engine marketing, affiliate advertising, CPM, social media marketing, Feedburner, Wordpress, Google Analytics or any of it. Fast forward to March, 2009: I know these things exist and I know their function. I certainly haven't mastered any of them but know just enough to want to know more.

This year, I hope I learn a little more. I have enough work now to keep me busy and to keep my kids in Pop Tarts and dance costumes. The websites are built and launched. I hope to achieve a better balance between work and family now that the learning curve is not quite as steep as it once was.

I am at a loss as to what to put in the "occupation" space at the bottom of my tax returns this year though. It's not such an easy answer anymore. Now, I am a lawyer. I am a writer. I run a website (or two) that make a little bit of money. I am a mom and a wife.

Maybe I'll cram all of that into the space. I'd probably get audited as punishment. And then I'd have to explain that a People magazine subscription and tickets to the ice skating rink are absolutely necessary business expenses...

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