A Writer’s Culture Shock And Big Lessons

As a creative Content Writer cum Marketer, I constantly have many big lessons to learn. And of course, many culture shocks to distill, absorb, and accept.

I enjoy helping clients drive their projects in the best way I can. Well, I hate calling them clients. That sounds rather cold, hyper-formal, and distant!

Being valuable, I strive to keep our relationships cool, warmly close but professional! I call them partners. Their collaboration helps me apply conversion paints on their business walls. No culture shock yet…just a confession.

The Market: Supply Servants & Demand Kings

You know, content partners are very common but very rare species! But thank God, they are not endangered! They are everywhere but nowhere. They have to be tracked and hunted by content suppliers.

They never lie in wait. They are business predators hunting and lurking for customers who can “prey” on their market products and services. It’s a market “food-chain” where the long hands of supply servants keep stretching and seeking to scratch the itchy backs of demand Kings!

Hold on just a little, and enjoy the waiting vibes. The Shock-waves of the Writer’s Culture Shock is now getting closer, and you’ll never believe it!

The Hunting, and The Changing Weather

The law of survival for the fittest, haven’t changed. Or has it? Therefore, whenever I hunt for a potential partner, I smell with all my soul, leaving my head-brain behind!

Are you aware that a complete soul has its inbuilt brain, and has a fully functioning heart? An auto-pilot radar extraordinaire!

Where was I? Yes, hunting… When my partners get within my ears’ ranges, I don’t promise flying their projects on super-drones to the scenic snow peaks of the Himalayan Ranges! I take time to digest their projects’ scope and budget ranges.

For their ready assessments, I lay down all my climbing and hiking gears needed to conquer their projects’ wild peaks and rugged ranges. If I don’t, how can they know I can deliver output trophies from atop their projects’ rocky mountains?

Ooh…I must have used “ranges” many times. Repetitions can be boring. I’m a newbie poet trying to master rhymes. I wonder if my dream of being a poet can be rubber-stamped by Lupita as valid!

Back to partners’ projects and my Mountain climbing regalia…

To reach their projects’ top-peak, I often depend on their road-maps, following their desired routes, focusing on their goals.

I always know that if my journey is successful and the partner is a none- distorted image of God, I would be rewarded with a gold-medal upon my return.

My inputs often pay-off. Well, sometimes projects’ climatic conditions and collaboration weather are ill-fated! Under such cases, I sadly accept nature’s muddy silver or rusty bronze medals!

Hmm…can bronze really rust? No! They have no iron. Let’s change rusty to dusty! 😀

Nature has a way of challenging all winners. None can will all. Even the hottest and proudest sun-rays get beaten pants down by thick-headed cold clouds! Nature’s rules will always rule. Who can overrule?

Having unearthed my secrets and Soap Opera episodes, here now comes the Writer’s Culture Shock you’ve been waiting for.

Before that, having mentioned Soap Opera, let’s take a small coffee break for some Opera chit-chats, and share notes! 😀 😀

Are you older enough to remember these Soap Opera TV delicacies: No One But You, Wild Rose, The Bold and The Beautiful, The Rich Also Cry, Days of Our Lives, Egoli Place of Gold, and Neighbours among others?

If you can’t remember hearing of any, it’s still ok to be my son’s age-mate! You still have a long future for many new Soaps. Perhaps you are familiar with the new digitized take-away telenovelas.

Do you know that behind these series are great and determined Screen Writers with emotional red-blood cells that feed on love, hate, jealousy, power, and blackmail?

But, just like all content writers, they too suffer from a writer’s block. It’s normal. Before I wrote this piece, I had to wait for my brain to unblock itself on many occasions.

Before I forget, I’ve got a cousin who literally cries when watching them. As a writer, you’ve got the power to naturally paint your words with rainbow emotions. Words are powerful. However, to power them fully, you must be fully empowered.

Your contents should not sound too artificial to be believed. Contents should be authentic, not skin-bleached. If you have to “fool” readers with words, let the feelings they excite be real. You’ll be their star!

But when they realize you’re fooling them, they’ll be quick to term your contents foolish.

Back from the coffee break…I hope it had inspiring tips. Wasn’t it? Let’s move on.

Happy Bidding Process

On this particular morning, I  logged into my Upwork Account. For “Down-workers”, Upwork is an International writing platform for Freelance writers of all depths and breadths. And of all world colours including the coloured! Good…we’re all together now.

On scanning through the jobs on offer, I got this one that grabbed my attention, and almost strangled me with bidding enthusiasm!

I was sure this was a project I would nail with no bending nails! I’d just finished working on similar tasks a few days ago for another client, ooh, partner.

The partner was happy. I was happy. This one, was, therefore, my next happy partner-in-waiting! You see, we must always keep candles of our hopes burning!

So, I religiously read all the juicy requirements. Inwardly, I was smiling, eager to click the Submit Proposal button to start crafting my cover letter. Instructions were many. Almost covering the entire page. I skipped no line.

Normally, I avoid partners who give exaggerated instructions with tough conditions that they themselves know cannot transform a poor writer into an award-winning bull-dozer-author!

Some client’s project posts or advertisements can be so detailed that you would think it’s Manual for assembling a NASA Satellite engine! By the way, do satellites use engines?

Or do they just require a gas cylinder to be set on fire to fire them up! Well, before you call me stupid, I’ll secretly consult with my faithful expert, Google!

Let’s continue…

My mind pot was already boiling and bubbling with biding cover letter’s contents. When you get the right project, there is this sweet natural feeling that swells and yells inside you.

You begin to appreciate how God works in a mysterious way, bringing projects that are customized just for you! I wish they always come in rows and draws!

The job was mine. All I need to do is bid just to please my sleeping ancestors! I’m kidding! Think this way and your bids will be your losing curse.

The First Culture Shock

Then I got to the last line. My first big shock. I wonder what inspired the partner to put this line last. Ever heard of saving the best for last? My first best shock came last.

The last line read:

“Only bid for this job if your rate is not more than $ 1 per hour”. Please, don’t torture your mind; there is nothing wrong with this sentence! Based on my low-grade English, it may sound financially nonsensical, but it does make sense.

Let me explain…

There was simply no link at all between the tasks that clearly required lots of skills, and the hourly pay rate being cast in a lead-stone! Talk of stone-face condition!

Ever realized that it’s the low-paying clients who love giving crazy-long instructions, talking tough, and issuing conditions, threats, and ultimatums?

Ever come across these:

“If you’re not from USA or Canada don’t apply.”

“Don’t waste my time if…..”

“This rate is final! No negotiations! Only bid if you accept it!”

Since I had no permanent and unlimited supply of the Internet connection, I relied on purchased data bundles for my online activities. I still do. This partner’s rate, therefore, could barely cover my hourly data consumption.

You see, there were tones of research involved. I also love researching on YouTube for deeper insights where applicable. Now you know where I’m coming from. This was not slavery. It was an indirect murder! And not just murder. Some murder are “warm”…this was cold murder!

What did I do?

I closed my eyes briefly and adjusted my laptop’s screen position. As a writer, your eyes can sometimes poke fun at your screen-capture’s intelligence! I also adjusted my progressive eyeglasses…just in case I had missed a zero after 1!

For the record, the progressive here has no link with Uhuru Kenyatta’s iconic memes on eye-view progression! Ever watched them? I’m soon enrolling for a Meme Creation Course. Ok, enough digression, sorry, I’ve stopped.

I moved closer to the screen for a closer clear look.  Simple rule: you see clearer when you move closer, right?  The words were still there, staring at my starry eyes!

The Final Shock

So, I told myself:

“Wait a minute! Can’t you guess where this client is coming from before you check his profile details?”

Are you aware that there are certain things we do or say not because we want, but because that’s how we were brought up?

I had to know where this client was brought up! Remember: We are all where we come from! Talk of cultural intelligence!

And I did just that…I made a guess of the writer’s country of origin, before checking his country details for verification!

Then booom!  My last big shock. My guess was 100% right! Have you ever been shocked when you make a shockingly perfect guess?

The client was from….well, this is for you to guess. Some of my valuable partners come from this country.

It will, therefore, be wrong to spoil the country’s good name just because of a few among millions who unknowingly, and harmlessly are simply spreading their home-grown culture!

I recall my Volunteer writing days in iWriter. I still believe that iWriter is still for newbie volunteer writers. Thinking you’ll be there to earn or be respected as a writer is also a voluntary imagination.

Even though earned nothing on the platform, all the partners I served from the same country, rewarded me with 5 start ratings.

I guess there are two reasons for this: 1st, I was writing for free (what do you call a 500- word for $1?), and secondly, my contents were so satisfactory that their hearts were seduced into rewarding me with good ratings and positive comments. My lesson: They are not heartless after all.

Their high affinity to low-rate offers is simply their “cultural-monetary” lifestyle. But, this can’t be for all of them really. I’m a believer in fairness. Let’s check out more…

The Haggling Ritual

Let me just say that based on general undocumented statistics, many partners from this great country are known to love haggling, and the lesser you charge them, the more you become their super darling.

You’ll attract most of them if your rate is the lowest in the whole world. The quality of your work will be a bonus consideration.

I may have been lucky. Generally, many who love offering writers the lowest rates, often engage low-rate writers who offer low-rate contents, and finally, receive low-rate ratings? Am I wrong on this? Don’t they tell us garbage in garbage out?

Here in Kenya, we have many citizens from the country as permanent residents. Awesome businessmen they are, I must say! And yes, master hagglers, I must add! This has helped them to thrive. The willing seller, the willing buyer!

Big Writers’ Lessons

Hey, it’s not always fair judging people based on their countries of origin…this is just a special case.

I learned that when bidding in such platforms, I have to filter and check the partners’ details with a fine tooth-comb. The devil is always in the detail! Don’t forget that.

So next time, before you bid, check the partner’s hiring rate, past reviews, everything you can put your hands and eyes on!  These are free “Analytics Tools” that can determine your bidding success.

By the way, I love Indian lecturers and academicians. Whatever thing you need to learn, you’ll find them in Youtube. Awesome! Hey! I’ve not said the partner above was from India!

India has many nationals, you know! But still, I’ll be fair and not accuse you of being wrong! I give you a 5-star rating for your intelligent guess!

Yes…Indian academicians. They will help you learn faster than most Kenyan tutors or professors who forget books after graduation.

Well, I’ve to admit that Kenyan scholars are smart. Perhaps they are just not being scholarly philanthropic! I wonder where they take the “power to read” that are often offered to them!

Indians welcome the sharing of knowledge which is another culture we surely ought to embrace. For instance, check out this Youtube post by an Indian young lady offering free help to all writers of the our world. Awesome!

Newbie writers, It’s note-taking time now…

On writing bidding letters or proposals,  remember that no matter how well you write, most proposals will actually be rejected! FACT.

The proposal is just but one tool that content partners focus on. You’re just being taught how to fight to win or lose with a smile because you gave your best. And your best you must always give! Your portfolio is a big deal to your hiring partners.

To escape unnecessary “shocks”, go for clients you feel you can partner with, and whose rates are partnership-inspired, and are in harmony with what you’re offering. All must win, and win happily!

Accepting Mistakes

Learn to accept your mistakes even if you are in shock! Don’t be quick at passing blames! I never blamed the Indian for his job post.

I understood his cultural background. Who is perfect? Even writers are never perfect. Many writers hurt their partners with lame contents.

Now, talking of accepting mistakes, I’m always reminded of Steve Harvey and Miss Universe 2015. This is insightful, trust me.

Did you watch the event? If you didn’t, you should, and Learn how mistakes can follow you where you least need or expect them.

He announced the wrong Miss Universe Winner….and only realized when the wrong winner had been crowned with the whole world watching! OMG!

But then, he realized his mistake.

He  NEVER blamed the designers of the Miss Universe Cards who would have done better to avoid confusion possibilities! And he NEVER blamed the tense condition he was in during the announcement.

Instead, he took the blame…accepted his mistake…&  Learned his Lesson. Yes, he owned up. When your writing partner points out your mistakes, accept and learn.

Don’t be tough-headed and start whining about your encounter with a “bad” client.

Don’t take corrections personally. You can’t always be a winner, but you’ll always be a learner. Always remember that.

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