Learning Lessons

Last week, I worked for what I’m thinking of as my first “real” client for my graphic recording practice. It was a nonprofit’s strategic visioning session and I was there to graphically record the day’s events. When I say first “real” client, I mean it was the first time I had to negotiate the whole kit and caboodle from the fee to logistics. The marketing director called and we talked about what I can do for the group, my price, etc. And was that ever stressy!

I am not good at negotiating price when it comes to my work. I know I do a good job, I know I’m valuable, but it’s difficult for me to put a price tag on my time and talent. But I stuck to my guns and was hired for two different day events, one last week and one in February.

I learned a couple lessons. The facilitator had never worked with a graphic recorder and when I called to talk with her about it, I didn’t do a good job of making sure we were on the same page. What I didn’t want to happen was for us to be two disjointed entities in the room – her leading the strategy and me off in my own world. And that’s exactly what happened. She had to be reminded to introduce me, and then she did her own drawings up front.  I take credit for the breakdown. I should have been more assertive about how I wanted things to work and it would have led to a more productive meeting, the client would have been happier, and it would have been a more cohesive meeting overall. But nobody threw a rotten tomato at me which is good…

The real surprise of the day, the real gift from the Universe, was how I ended up with this job in the first place. It didn’t all click together until the very end of the day.

When my contact called me, he mentioned that he’d found me through a staff member. He mentioned her name and I jumped to the assumption that this staff member had been to see an event at the Big Corporation I used to work for and had seen me graphically record a keynote and some other things. I got to the site Thursday morning and spent time setting up, meeting some folks, etc. I’m on my feet pretty much an entire event, thinking, writing, wrangling paper. By the end of the day I’m usually pretty fried. There I was, cleaning up my space and getting all set to drive home in the snow, when a voice said, “You must be the writing spider.” The voice was attached to a tall woman in an awesome skirt followed by a boy. Turns out, she’s my blog friend Ellen there with her son. She knows me from this blog, and I know her from her blog, and we are both Bluegrass writerly-type people.

Like I said, I’m pretty fried at the end of the day. I’m sorry, E, it took me a few minutes for everything to fall into place.

Ellen and I had never met, never talked in real life, but  she sent my info to the marketing director of her organization who in turn hired me to come do this work I’ve been wishing/hoping/dreaming of making a living at. (In another strange turn, I went to high school with the marketing guy.) In fact, I bought a necklace that reads “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.” I spent my entire ride home being amazed that this happened. (Well, I spent a lot of time freaking out about driving home in the blizzard of ’11, too.) This is the type of thing I’m asking for from the Universe. Send me people to recommend my work so that I may be paid for something I love doing. Ellen and I had a nice chat before I trudged out into the snow and I’m just tickled that she’s my first blog friend meeting. I hope there are many more.

If you want to learn more about my graphic recording and other stuff, go here.