Time Traveling 2013 Year in Review

Mahesh Raj Mohan

Mahesh Raj Mohan

I am a full-time Portland freelance copywriter, editor, and content marketing specialist. I help companies with white papers, case studies, technical writing, product copy, and more.

2013 was … unique, wasn’t it?  It definitely was for me.  I transitioned from a Portland area freelance writer and editor to a branded business complete with a new office, an Oregon registry number, and a city license.   I felt sort of like Dak, Luke Skywalker’s gunner from The Empire Strikes Back.  I felt like I could take on an empire’s worth of projects all by myself.  I managed to fare much better than poor Dak, and yet there are a few things the me of today would like to tell my January 2013 self.  So, in keeping with the SF theme,  I’ll post six pieces of advice as if Mahesh, Ver.Dec.13 was talking to Mahesh, Ver.Jan.13:

Stick to your market rate.

It’s understandable that people want to shop around for the best deal:  it’s human nature.  It’s also understandable to want to be paid a living wage:  you’re running a business.  By turning down intensive jobs that pay less than your rate, you’ve exchanged some income for time and motivation.  There is a much greater opportunity cost in taking low-paying jobs.  Besides, it’s an “everyone wins” scenario when a prospect’s idea of a deal dovetails with your market rate.

Commit to self-improvement.

Self-improvement can mean anything.  It can be learning photo-editing software, research, deepening your knowledge of Excel, and simply taking a walk every day before you enter your office.  And, of course, it is also spending as much time as possible with your family.  Time with loved ones is the most rewarding source of rejuvenation I can imagine.

Stay creative.

All types of writing, including your creative work, is vital to your body-and-soul well-being.  Keep the fire alive by working on “your own stuff” before or after a client project and when you have time in between projects.

Fire a prospect (or client). 

If you feel uncomfortable with how someone is speaking to you, that’s a good sign that your working relationship will be contentious.  Life is too precious for that type of hassle.  Extricate yourself politely and move on.


I won’t toss around any cliches about the solitary writer.   But it is invigorating to meet with old friends and new ones, including the rock stars of the Copywriter Conclave of Portland.

“…when the dealin’s done”

The chorus to Kenny Rogers’s The Gambler often plays in my head when I am in the process of closing a deal.  Always remember that a multitude of factors can influence when (or if) a project begins.  Stay flexible and patient.

2013 challenged many of us.   It helps to know that despite the sharp falls and sudden setbacks, others out there are dealing with the same issues.  And, of course, many many others are dealing with situations that are far more difficult.

Here’s hoping that we all continue to learn and try to make the world a better place in 2014.

What did you learn in 2013?  What are you looking forward to next year?

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8 thoughts on “Time Traveling 2013 Year in Review”

  1. Julia Munroe Martin

    This is excellent, Mahesh! I am trying to ramp up my own freelance writing, and you addressed some things that will really help me. One thing I learned in 2013 is not to self limit myself by not taking chances (truthfully I’m still learning that). Happy New Year!

    1. Mahesh Raj Mohan

      Happy New Year! Thanks for your comment, and I can completely relate to
      the self-limit maxim. I think we forget how tightrope-walking is a
      natural part of professional writing that we can be too hard on
      ourselves for not being -more- risk-taking. You’re doing a great job of
      juggling lots of roles, in my opinion.

    1. Mahesh Raj Mohan

      Thank you, Emily! And the same back to you, which I have no doubt you’ll be able to accomplish, since you’re a Super Writer. 🙂

  2. Natalia Sylvester

    Such a great idea for a post; I love the perspective that “time-traveling” offers. These are all great pieces of wisdom for any freelancer—I especially like the emphasis on self-improvement. I focused on that quite a bit, especially in the second half of the year. I started volunteering for an organization that teaches creative writing to kids, and joined a sand volleyball league, because I realized that I love writing so much that I was letting it define me, and my writing felt stale as a result.

    HUGE congrats on the office, by the way! It must be so nice to have a dedicated space like that. We’re shopping for our first home this year, and though we have a separate space in our current apartment for my work, I’m really looking forward to having a space I can truly make my own (built-in bookshelves, anyone?)

    Happy New Year, Mahesh!

    1. Mahesh Raj Mohan

      Thank you, NS! And Happy New Year! Congrats to you and E on house-hunting; this is about the best time to do it, and I hope you two find the space that’s perfect for you. I also hope you get the perfect dedicated office … and dedicated bookshelves!!

      I didn’t know you had started volunteering or playing volleyball … that is awesome, 🙂

  3. Candace Nicholson

    I’ll add my voice to the chorus and say “Awesome post, Mahesh!” So you actually have a commute now? 🙂 Let me guess. Like so many Portlanders, you bike to work?

    You give some wonderful and sound advice, particularly the part about monitoring how a prospective client talks to you. I’m guilty of cutting people slack at the beginning of a work relationship and letting things go. But I always end up regretting it, wishing I had set them straight or cleared the air when it happened.

    This was a lovely post to kick of the New Year. Cheers!

    1. Mahesh Raj Mohan

      Hi Candace! And oh God no, I am not one of those stereotypical cyclists!!! 😉 My office is about an 8 minute drive, so nothing like my two-hour/two-way commute long long ago. And I’ve done the same thing as you, with client relationships. One engagement lasted less than one day and shouldn’t have started at all. I look forward to following your progress and posts this year. And thank you for the kind words, 🙂

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