Rooted with Ruul: Meet “storyteller” Michael Burns
Ever since its establishment, Ruul has grown into a beautiful and expansive community, including freelance professionals from many fields from IT to creative writing, as well as diverse locations and cultures from China to Morocco.
Today, we present Michael Burns, a writing professional originally from the USA, constantly changing locations as a free spirit who has adopted digital nomadism for quite a while now.
Discover Michael’s story and mind-opening tips for freelancers.
Hello Michael. Could you introduce yourself and tell Ruulers a little bit about your work?
I’m Michael Burns and I’m a Storyteller. My mission is to make the world a better place through the power of storytelling. I do this by helping grow purpose-driven businesses with compelling sales copywriting, engaging content, and resonant brand storytelling. I also do storytelling as a public speaker and workshop leader – and for fun as a standup and improv comedy performer.
How and why did you first start freelancing? Did a memorable incident steer your decision and would you like to tell Ruulers about it?
I’ve been freelancing almost my entire life post-university. I first had a freelance career in film and television production in Miami and Hollywood for 20 years, then moved into copywriting and storytelling.
A friend’s band in the San Francisco area needed promoting, so I started writing Facebook posts that got a lot of people to come to shows. His guitar player had an online record label that he began as a hobby. I took it over, wrote all the copy, did all the marketing, redid the whole website, and did much of the business development. I turned it from his hobby into a viable business. I really enjoyed the process of creating and writing all the digital content, and shaping the brand. I knew this would be the future of my work. So, after a brief stint back in Hollywood producing documentary shows, I started my own business – Baydream Creative Copywriting Studio.
How is your daily routine?
Nothing would get done without my morning routine. I use The Miracle Morning as popularized in the book of the same name by Hal Elrod. Prayer, Meditation, Visualization, Affirmations, Reading, Gratitude Journal, Exercise. Stretching the back is essential if you sit a lot.
Less than nothing would get done without delicious coffee. Donuts are delicious, but they are the enemy of your pants.
Where is your best working corner at home? The sofa, the bed, or an isolated room? Can you illustrate the scene with a photo?
As a digital nomad, this changes regularly. The most important thing is the chair. I’ve got to have good back support and a proper table helps too. For some reason, I can only do low bandwidth work like email or admin while standing – although I can do dictation, which is one of the reasons I’m now incorporating that into my work.
Any songs/albums/artists/genres you prefer listening to as you work? How about as you chill? Does your playlist differ according to what you are doing?
I listen to music while writing throughout the day – classical or ambient/binaural in the morning, jazz in the afternoon, and chill electronica if I go late. If I’m writing, the music can’t have vocals – because I’m trying to listen to the words in my head, not someone else’s. If I’m doing admin or similar work, I like to rock out to Phish and lots of guitar-driven music. Recently I’ve been relying more on dictation software to help speed up my writing process, so I can’t listen to music when I do that.
I also try to take frequent breaks to walk around and stretch. And get more coffee.
In three words, how do you reckon a professional freelancer should be?
Reliable. Proactive. Tenacious.
Are you a phone or e-mail person when it comes to communicating with clients?
Clients get to choose one form of instant messaging + email for general communication. I don’t care for Slack. I try to do calls at the beginning of the process to close deals, and for reviewing first drafts if needed. I also limit calls and meetings to the afternoon, so I can use my optimal morning flow state for creative work.
Would you still prefer video calls or rather meet people in person for work purposes if the pandemic was out of the picture?
I work remotely with a global clientele, so video calls are always part of the process.
Are there any tools you find indispensable as you work on a freelance basis? Could you name some?
Coffee. Noise-canceling headphones that you can also use for calls. Laptop stand, wireless keyboard, and mouse. Good invoicing software. Bank accounts that convert currencies for cheap or free. International meeting planner.
I like to use Pomodoros – 25 minute focused work periods, followed by a 5-minute break. Although if I get on a roll with the writing, I blow right through the timer and keep going.
Do you have any suggestions for fresh freelancers? Can you shortly elaborate on what freelancers should do or avoid doing in their journey?
First, figure out your ikigai – your life’s purpose. Do something that relates to that. Then, tell everyone you know that you are doing it. Tap your network. This is how I landed my first few jobs. Put together a portfolio – and get testimonials from your clients. Over-deliver – this leads to referrals and repeat business. Make sure you maintain balance in life and that you are enjoying your work. Always be grateful. And go easy on the donuts.
Interested in a conversation with Ruul? Reach us through [email protected] to take part in an interview!
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