Friday, November 27, 2009

So you want to be a freelance writer? (Part 1)




In one of my favorite freelance writing books, Get a Freelance Life: mediabistro.com's Insider Guide to Freelance Writing, the authors suggest asking yourself 11 questions before taking the freelance plunge:

1. Do you like being alone?
Working from home can be a luxury (sleeping in, working in comfy clothes, taking a walk in the middle of the day), but it can be lonely, too.
Fortunately, there are ways to deal with this. Some examples are going to a coffee shop for a cup of coffee, volunteering a few hours a week or participating in online discussions.
Because you're guaranteed to have some loneliness, make sure you can handle it.

2. Where are you now?
If you've been working at your day job for a while but don't have much writing experience, it may not be the best time to try freelancing full-time. However, that doesn't mean you can't start (you can).
But if you've been getting published pretty regularly and get paid decently, you may be in a good place. If you are unemployed or under-employed, and this is something you really want to do (and writing is your thing), I say make a go at it. The key is knowing where you are, where you want to be and mapping out a reasonable plan to get there.

3. Can you afford it?
If you don't have a few regular, well-paying jobs set up or money saved to last a few months (or a support system), you probably can't afford to just quit your job and start freelancing. So, it's important to analyze your budget and see where you are.
It takes time for freelance work to start coming in, and it might be a minute before you see the money. Take the time to work out a financial plan before making a hasty decision.

4. Are you flexible?
The life of a freelance writer can be quite unpredictable, so you have to create a schedule that works for you and one that permits unexpected changes to it.

5. Can you stick to a budget?
Freelancers rarely have regular paychecks, so you definitely need a budget with a cushion for the slower months and for late checks; you also need to be able to monitor and stick to it.

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Stay tuned for part 2!



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What is a press kit?

According to allbusiness.com, a press kit (aka media kit) is a packet of informational material made for the media, potential clients, vendors and investors and other individuals.

The point of a press kit is to have a centralized overview of your business's history, activities, accomplishments and media coverage. It can be as minimal or detailed as you want, but your press kit needs to have company and product information to make a good first impression.

So how do you make a press kit and what goes in it?

Most have some or all of the following:

Introductory letter. The letter should portray your company and/or product in an effective way and show why your recipient should explore your other content.

Corporate history. This needs to have basic information about your business. You can summarize your company's history, recent awards and achievemnts, if relevant. On another sheet, you can include your mission, goals and objectives. Biographies of top employees might also be helpful.

Single-sheet documents. These are things like fact sheets for certain products, a glossary of terms (if needed) and a list of of frequently asked questions. Brochures and annual reports are also good, as are future promotions and events, a list of where your products are sold and a checklist of what else is in the press kit.

Positive press coverage. This includes newspaper and magazine articles, any press releases previously distributed and white papers.

Photos and other images, logos, CDs and/or DVDs.

By doing these things, you can produce a press kit that's easy to revise and one that will provide potential clients with lots of info about your company and position your business as a professional one.

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If you have any questions about press kits or need one for your business, please contact me: jamiefleming@mochawriter.com.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hey editors...

...and anyone else who's interested, I write articles, too!

I specialize in writing lifestyle topics (self-help and motivational in particular), cultural and diversity issues, women's issues and profiles on individuals.

I also produce a blog, for colored gurls.

If you're interested in seeing my work you can check out my online portfolio and blog.

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Need to contact me? Leave me a comment or email me: jamiefleming@mochawriter.com.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Four Benefits of Press Releases

1. It gets the word about your new company and new happenings. Usually, when you're first getting started, people haven't heard of you. So, you want to be sure people know who you are and what your company provides.
2. Press releases are a good way to increase the visibility of your website. You'll get visitors to your site from your press release, and it will help expand your credibility with search engine positions, which can equal more visitors and more money.
3. They let the public know what you offer. Even if people have heard of your business, they may not know all the services or products you provide. Sending out press releases about new products and services emphasize top sales of a product and regularly lets the public know what your company is all about.
4. Using press releases for a home or small business can offer a great method to show that your company is legit. Since people often trust the media, you company will be more credible with a well-written press release about your business.

Have questions or need a press release written? Contact me: jamiefleming@mochawriter.com.

*Holiday Special*

Hi entrepreneurs and biz owners!

Between now and December 31, you can take $25 off of any Mocha Writer service. You can find a full list of services here.

To take advantage of this special, if you have any questions or want more info, shoot me an email: jamiefleming@mochawriter.com.


I just wanna be successful...

So I got an email today from Aliya S. King's blog, and her latest post is about this very, very persistent publicist who she feels everyone can learn from (you can check out the post here).

Moral of the story? "...that inner hustle needs to be on point for all of us."

I do hustle, but admittedly, I'm probably not doing as much as I could. It is something I am working towards though. I guess my thing is I don't want to be too annoying, I mean, there's a thin line between persistence and annoying the crap out of someone.

Anyway, I did get some other advice from Ms. King. A few weeks ago, I asked her how she got established as a freelance writer, and she gave a simple, yet profound answer (after saying she doesn't feel established yet...right...):

"By working my butt off. Researching good pitches, handing in decent copy- on time. And hustling. Same thing I'm doing ten years later."

Good word...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Press Release Overview

In a nutshell, a press release (or media release) is a public relations announcement sent out to the media and other targeted publications to let the public know what's going on with you and your business. It's basically your "ticket to publicity- one that can get your company coverage in publications, on TV and radio stations."

With media venues receiving hundreds of them a day, you have to be sure your press release stands out, but how?

1. Be sure you have a good reason to send a press release.
2. Aim the press release to the media outlet you are sending it to. This means thinking about the publication's audience before sending it.
3. Your press release needs to be readable and should follow the typical format:

It needs to be typed, double-spaced, on white letterhead with a contact person's name, title, company, address and phone number in the upper right-hand corner.

Below, put a concise, eye-catching headline in bold type. Next is the dateline (ex., LOS ANGELES, Ca.). After this, you begin the press release which, at most, should be one to two pages, long enough to answer the six basic news questions: who, what, when, where, why and how. The answers should be covered in order of significance.

Other things to remember:

  • Don't embellish or hype the info.
  • Pay close attention to grammar and spelling.
  • Don't use gimmicks; if your press release is well-written and relevant, you don't need a "singing telegram" to get your message out.


Here are some reasons you'd want to write and send a press release. If you are:

  • Starting a new business.
  • Introducing a new product.
  • Celebrating an anniversary.
  • Receiving an award.
  • Launcing a website.
I have samples of press releases on my website if you want to see a completed one. Check them out by clicking here. Questions or comments? Contact me!


Why you should consider starting a blog for your business

Lots of businesses have blogs, but do you know why you should have one for your business?

Well, first things first, a business blog is a way of communicating with clientele or employees to share information and expertise. They are becoming more popular because blogs are a great way to get the word out about what your company is doing, increase traffic to your website and connect with potential customers.

How else can they help?
  • Like mentioned above, a business blog is a marketing tool. Your blog gives your company the opportunity to talk about and promote your products, services and company news. It can also generate online buzz and word-of-mouth promoting.

  • Blogs can increase your sales. Your blog can keep your products and services in front of customers and let them know the benefits. Additionally, it can provide customers with a feeling being "in the know" because they're part of your community.

  • Your blog can help communicate your business' brand message. All businesses have a brand and image that others see. Your blog will give you a chance to convey the brand image you want. Consistent branding produces a sense of security and stability in customers- these are two major aspects essential in developing customer loyalty.

You can find out more about blogging on one of my favorite informational websites, problogging.net.



Articles for your Business: The Basics

Many entrepreneurs and business owners use articles and article marketing to publicize their businesses, websites and products. One benefit of doing this is finding potential customers you might have missed otherwise.

Article marketing is a website and Internet promotional tool where one places articles written by or for an individual on article syndication sites on the Web. Other people can reprint your articles on their blog or website, which will allow people to let others know about what you've written. Article marketing can be very effective, and it's an affordable way to market your business.

The best way to write an article is to write about what you know, so writing about your product or service is probably your best bet. For instance, if you sell and make jewelry, you can write about your process for making certain pieces, what's going on in the world of jewelry design or how you advertise and promote your business. You can also write about things that interest you but are unrelated to your business.

The next thing to do is find places to submit your articles. The easiest way to do this is by publishing on your own blog, website or newsletter. You can also use article directories and submit your work to search engines. Make sure you know your target market so you don't submit content that isn't relevant to a website. Additionally, you can swap or exchange articles with newsletter publishers or search by using the term 'submit your article.'

Tips for writing articles:
  • Capture your readers' attention in the first paragraph.
  • Make sure your bio, which goes at the end of your article, is understandable, brief and well-written.
  • Proofread. When complete, check to make sure it reads easily, fluidly and has no grammatical or spelling errors.
Have more questions about writing articles or need someone to write yours? Contact me at jamiefleming@mochawriter.com.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's a freelance writer?

If you're reading this, you probably know I'm a freelance writer. However, you may not know what that really means or what I do, so...

A freelance writer is an individual who is self-employed and writes/edits/etc. without a lasting commitment to one employer. There are many, many areas in freelance writing. Some writers only cover science topics, some write grants for nonprofit organizations, and some write a little of everything.

I write articles for websites and magazines. I also write for small businesses, startups, individuals (like musicians and artists). I work at home, which can be a good and bad (I'll discuss this in a later post), and I LOVE what I do.

I made this blog for two reasons:
1. To pass on a little info I've learned to other aspiring freelance writers
2. To give tips and info about writing to entrepreneurs and business owners

With that said, if there is something you want covered or if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Until next time...

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