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arbor day fund

I ordered 40 trees from the Arbor Day fund. Here 31 arrive.

Last weekend I planted (and my love fenced) 31 trees. When I tell people this they are so confused–we own over 5 wooded acres, why do we need more trees?

Most of these trees are for privacy. We planted arborvitae along the back of our property. Although we border 200 acres of private woods, the town has plans for extending a bypass through there in about 20-30 years. If we plant the trees now, we figure we’ll have a mighty natural buffer by then. Along another side of our property we planted red cedar. These are planted along a split-rail fence that borders a neighbor’s house. This was just to give us more privacy in the coming years.

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Some day our apple trees will look like this. Hopefully.

My favorite? I planted two apple trees in one of the fields. We’re going to keep an eye on them this summer. If they thrive, I’m ordering 10 more and making a complete orchard!

While I was planting I thought about writing. (Go figure.) I’ve covered where my freelance clients came from, and how long the gestation period is for a query-to-published-magazine article…but when you intentionally want to grow your writing business, what can you do? It’s so similar to planting trees!

Plant wisely. Don’t think about getting new clients and new business. Look at what you have and grow them. If a client’s business grows, so should their budget. (Hey, we’re taking a risk with planting all these new trees. The deer, raccoon, and rabbits outnumber us and can easily destroy them. It would be much easier for us to grow the same kinds of trees that are already here.)

Sun. Think of one client and find some way to wow them. Give them a little something extra one month. Free press release, notice an error on a web page, send them an article with some new research that applies to their business. Do something that they didn’t ask for and don’t charge them for it. Quarterly or annually, remind clients that they can get a % discount on their next invoice if they refer someone to you who becomes a client. All of these steps are mutually beneficial.

Harvest. It amazes me how much time passes before you can see real results. It’s hard to really see a tree grow, and even harder to measure a writing career on any given day. Writers could lose a client at any time to competition, economy, or death–but we can harvest what we’ve grown: Clips, experience, connections. It may take a few years before our trees will bear fruit, but I already have my apple pie recipe–and maybe my clients will each get a pie.