Self Censorship

It's funny. When I hopped into doing freelance full time, I thought to myself — and said to others — "this'll be great! I can now talk freely about all the stuff I've been working on. My blog will be updated constantly, my readership will grow, and I'll have adoring fans from around the world!"

And yet here I am, back down on earth in reality. Turns out, there's no freedom in freelance.

When I worked in a company, I blogged about the things I ran into but never gave much context to them. I never mentioned who the project was for and I certainly didn't talk about the projects I worked on. I made sure to maintain a professional line. I certainly didn't want to get dooced. Although, a co-worker once submitted a project we worked on to CSS Vault of which I'm sure the client never saw nor cared.

Running my own show should give me the flexibility to say what I need, right? Well, sort of. Now I run into the situation where my blog is my business. People want to do business because of the blog. I can't just complain about my clients, now can I? (not that I've had to) It's also strange to know that clients read your site (just about as strange as knowing family and friends read the site). Let me tell you, it's strange to work with a client and have them go, "Oh, great post, by the way." (nervous laughter) "You read that, did you?"

Or, when I wrote of my lack of productivity. Clients love to hear that. Heck, the fact that I'm posting to my site at all could be an indication that I'm not working on their project. (My wife has used this argument. "If you have time to post to your blog, you have time to take out the garbage.")

I see the attraction for those who set up blogs in anonymity and post about all the crazy stuff they run into. But I'm proud to have my name on this site. I think I've represented myself well and sometimes that means putting myself out on the line from time-to-time. In the coming months, I'll try to share some more of what I'm working on.

Now to go throw out the garbage...

Published August 26, 2006 · Updated September 14, 2006
Categorized as Opinion
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11 Comments · RSS feed
Elliot Swan said on August 26, 2006

Yeah, I have the same problem. Much of my business comes from my blog, and because I recently somewhat merged my portfolio with my blog, that means all my clients are looking at it and reading it.

Which really limits what you can write about sometimes...

Just the other day I started writing something then remembered that I have a potential client who's going to be checking out my site that afternoon...

Dustin Diaz said on August 26, 2006

Now go write your book. :p (sheesh, that one never gets old).

I would encourage you to keep writing since that is most definitely gives you credibility and might get you some work to begin with. Folks just need to understand that this blog is part of the business. If clients feel they can't trust your work because they find frequest posts to this blog... well, let's just hope they make that judgement based on the quality of your work that you produce for them.

Keep writing :)

James Bennett said on August 26, 2006

Go have a look at this ;)

Tobie Langel said on August 26, 2006

Pretty interesting issue.

I had a similar problem a while ago when I was both playing music and writing about it in a local newspaper.

I wondered for a while whether or not to take a pen name. Decided against it in the end.

Its actually a question of daring to take a stand and accepting to make mistakes.

I wrote some things I regretted writing afterwards or which had some unpleasing consequences... but hey, that's life!

That's also one of the reasons I don't go with a pseudo on irc or aim.

Actually, I ran into an old interview of Justin Palmer this morning which is quite reminiscent of the issue at hand:

Technologica: Why do you have such a scary picture on your portfolio site?

Justin Palmer: Because I have a since of humor, and it weeds out potential clients that don’t.

So taking a stand might actually make you loose work, but it might also save yourself from the trouble of working with clients that don't fit you.

Jonathan Snook said on August 26, 2006

James: man, that was funny. Clicked through on a bunch of those comics and many were a hoot.

Dustin: I know, I'm working on it!

Tim McCormack said on August 27, 2006

Oh, man, I have that one comic bookmarked. What a wonderful manifesto!

Thomas Messier said on August 27, 2006

I bet (and hope) that most clients will take a dose of honesty over somebody pretending to be working for them 24/7 any day of the week. The size of your readership is probably a good indication that you're doing something right. Blog on.

Jay Gilmore said on August 27, 2006

In business it is unwise to chage a successful action. If you find that blogging--warts and all--has a positive impact then failing to do so would be negative.

I have posted some of my mistakes and fuck-ups on my blogs and have only received positive feedack. For those clients whose projects had these hiccups, they appreciated my acceptence of failure and strategy for changing it in the future.

I think it is a matter of ensuring that you write from the view of reflection rather than that of reaction. This will keep from shooting one's self in the foot.

As far as your clients thinking that you should be working on their project when you have time to blog, you wouldn't tell them to forget about proofing their magazine ads for the next week's run. Blogging is part of your marketing strategy and business that fails to market will fail to grow. Period!

As always JS, keep up the good work,


beth said on August 28, 2006

"If you have time to post to your blog, you have time to take out the garbage."

Ugh I hear you. This is why I haven't been able to update my own blog in months.

Jonathan Snook said on August 28, 2006

beth: how much garbage do you have?! :)

beth said on August 28, 2006

by garbage i most often mean work haha.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post. If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to send them to me directly.