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I’ve been cheating on you with another blog

SJF auction website front page

I’ve been having an affair, and it’s about time that you found out.

Since August, I’ve been cheating on you with another blog. It was intense while it lasted. It’s over now, but I have no regrets.

I did it for the experience, and the money.

And now I’m ready to share the juicy details.

The (not so) shocking truth

While I’ve been neglecting you, I’ve been making time with a website I helped create for a school fundraiser. The website I worked on supports an annual auction put on every year by my youngest son’s Catholic elementary school.

During the past few months that I haven’t been posting regularly here, I wrote:

  • 30 standing pages of content, including pages for FAQs, donations and underwriting, volunteering, RSVPs, and merchandise and opportunities sold at the event
  • More than 60 blogs posts, including links and images
  • Twice weekly email blasts distributed to the school email list
  • Facebook status updates linking to new pages and posts
  • Updates for the parish bulletin – because some people still prefer to get their information off line

See for yourself here: SJF auction website.

Going out with a bang

My youngest is in 8th grade so this year’s event is also my last (unless his future high school finds me). I’ve worked on school auctions for longer than I want to think about. For a healthy chunk of that period, I volunteered to handle communications because — why not? It’s what I do, so I can do it better than most volunteers, which means the school gets more bang for their volunteer hour bucks. I can also control when and where I go the work — and at home, in front of my computer when I can fit it in around other work sounds pretty good to me.

During the time I’ve worked on school auctions, the way schools and other non-profits connect with their constituencies — parents, family and friends — has changed along with the rest of the world. I can remember hand delivering catalog pages on CDROM to the printer. Now everything gets uploaded to Dropbox or Google Drive.

Keeping up with those changes has forced me to learn new things — which is another reason why I’m happy to put in the hours. Whatever new skills I pick up I can apply directly to my writing and editing business — that’s experience that’s put money in my pocket.

The auction website I helped work on this year was one of the biggest school communications projects I’ve worked on. And it paid off. In the days leading up to last weekend’s event, page views to the site jumped to a couple hundred a day — not bad for a school of less than 250 students. It’s harder to tie the money that people spent at the event directly to the communications, but I like to think that I did my part.

Why volunteering is smart

When my youngest was a baby, I stopped working for seven years to be a SAHM. Working on auction catalogs and handling ongoing communications projects for schools, youth sports teams and nonprofits was a way for me to keep up my skills for when I went back to work.

Volunteering on projects related to the kind of freelance work you do or aspire to do is one of the only times I advocate working for free. If you’re out of the workforce – voluntarily or involuntarily – it’s a way to keep your hand in the game, and show prospective clients that you know your stuff.

If you do volunteer work related to your freelance business, be sure to include it in your resume, LinkedIn profile and clips. A paying client could see the school website or nonprofit email blast ytou created and want you to do the same thing for them – for a hefty fee.