Friday, January 29, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
To get started writing for publications, you first have to figure out what type of writing is for you. To determine this, here are some questions to ask yourself:
What do you read?
Make a list of the publications you like reading. Further develop this list by writing down the kind of articles that appeal to you. Why? You will be more successful by writing about things that interest you most.
What are your interests?
When a subject interests you, you'll ask the right questions and get good details. Some things to consider: How do you spend your free time? What are your hobbies? What do you think about most often? More than likely, these are things you can write about well.
Do you have previous skill/knowledge?
For instance, what did you study in school? In what areas do you have the most experience? When you concentrate on topics you really know, you raise your chances of obtaining an assignment. Just be sure when pitching a story that the prospective editor knows you're knowledgeable on the topic and that you can write in a way that readers will understand.
Is there a need?
If a publication has a particular need, taking care of it will get you some good clips that can ultimately help you get to your bigger goal. So, write some of those articles, particularly if it pertains to your background, and do a great job on them.
Source: mediabistro.com's Insider Guide to Freelance Writing: Get a Freelance Life
Photo from: viget.com
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Anyway, I was looking around the Problogger website and came across an article, The Power of Uniqueness, that shares 19 tips to make your blog unique. If you're a blogger, I'm pretty sure you want your blog to stand out from all the thousands (or millions) of blogs out there, and the post offers great tips for doing just that. For instance: use your own voice (or style of writing), and make your blog useful. You can check out the rest of the tips here.
(photo from blog.luxuryrealestate.com)
Friday, January 22, 2010
If you're serious about being a freelance writer, you really need a website. Why? It's easier for people from all over to find you, check out your work and see how awesome you are. Here are some tips from Michelle Goodman's book, My So-Called Freelance Life.
On the website you'll have:
Bio. According to Goodman, you can't go wrong with two or three carefully crafted paragraphs that summarize your career highlights and any experience you have. You can include a photo of yourself as well. One thing to remember- don't give too much info about yourself- the world doesn't need to know everything.
Work Samples. These should be simple to locate and access. If you're not sure you can use a particular sample- maybe because you don't own the license- ask the client about it.
Client list/list of publications. This will let new customers/editors know that you've had work, and it may even impress them. You can also include testimonials from individuals you've worked with in the past so potential clients will know what others think about your work.
So, what do you need?
A domain name. Goodman recommends buying your own domain (i.e. mochawriter.com); it's pretty inexpensive (around $10), and it's more professional and easier for clients to find and remember.
Web hosting site. If you use a domain name, you need one of these as well. To get started, ask other freelancers which web hosts they use and recommend- your domain name shouldn't cost much either.
Web designer-if you don't design it yourself. While you shouldn't have to pay thousands for a simple portfolio site, the prices will differ, so get a few estimates if needed. If you're really cash-strapped, try to find a designer at a local or nearby art school who will do it for a smaller fee.
Web publishing platform. You might need to change something on your site or want a newer look. So, you need a platform so you can easily change text, photos and links whenever you want. (You can try a system such as WordPress).
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
However, there are those people (and most of them are family) who think I just sit/lay around all day and surf the web because I work at home, I don't make a whole lot of money yet and live with my parents for now. I mean, I get that not everyone will or even want to understand what I do, but it bothers me when people try to tell me I don't do anything or when they try to tell me what I should be doing with my life (don't you just love unsolicited advice?)
Case in point, I was visiting my parents' church last year, and a family acquaintance asked me what I was doing now (this was right after I stopped working at my part-time job). I told her that I'm a writer and have my own business. I guess she didn't hear me because she goes on to say I should go on this local TV station's website and look for jobs there, and, by the way, her friend is a cameraman there. I'm annoyed, thinking, Didn't I just tell you that I am a freelance writer with her own business?
But that's not all. She goes on to tell me I have to move out of my current city so I can have a successful career. How she knows anything about a career in freelance writing is beyond me- she's not even in the writing field...but I digress. I didn't really say anything else because I was taught to respect others, especially those older than me.
It just really irks me when people say I'm not really working or don't really have a job because I work at home or people being condescending. It's not like I'm dissing their work choices (even though I could)...
Anyway, how do you deal with those individuals who don't take your career seriously and make light of it? What do you say to them?
Monday, January 18, 2010
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. I'm sure you have profiles on one, two or more of these sites, especially if you're a business owner. And if you don't, what the heck is wrong with you? Go set some up- now!
Social networking sites were created to form online communities for individuals with similar interests and for those who want to find out others' interests and activities.
So, why is social networking important?
- It gives your business a face and a presence other than your physical location.
- Social networking helps you develop your business through connections with other entrepreneurs, business owners and customers. It helps you build more personal relationships as well.
- It's basically free recognition for your business.
Here are some social networking tips:
- Show off your personality. Don't be afraid to share anecdotes, testimonies and tips- these will help people notice you. Also, people enjoy networking with those they find engaging, helpful and entertaining.
- Present yourself as sincere, reliable and as an expert in your field.
- Know that you have to participate in social networking constantly. You have to continuously add friends/followers and interact with them on a regular basis.
- Set goals for your social networking. For example, decide how many new friends or followers you want to have per week, or choose how many times you'll post a blog, note, etc.
- Do not constantly post comments on people's walls and profiles asking them to buy your product or service. That's called spam, and it can be very annoying, especially if haven't tried to get to know the individual. A better approach is leaving someone a comment just to say 'Hi' and including a signature with your name and a link to your website. For instance,
As you continue to build a relationship with your friends/followers, it's okay to put some info about your business on their walls, etc. Just make sure it's not too often or too much.
Feel free to leave additional tips in the comments, and happy networking!
Friday, January 15, 2010
Writer's Market (of the present year)- This book is filled with hundreds of publications that use freelance writers. Some of the titles even give tips on how to pitch to their publication and what sections use freelancers; it has info on trade publications, book publishers and consumer mags.
Web search- What I do is type in the type of publication I'm interested in writing for (like women's magazines), and check out some websites (side note: When searching a broad topic like 'women's magazines', you might have to go deep to find them, i.e., go beyond the first 10 pages).
Sometimes the site a have a 'Writers' Guidelines section', and sometimes it'll be under 'Contact Us' or 'About Us.' If they have no info at all about freelancing, I will occassionally send an email of interest asking if they use freelancers.
Bookstore- Most large bookstores have tons of magazines, many you've never heard of. So, that's a really great place to find new markets. What I have done in the past is alloted like an hour or two to find mags (about four or five) I'm interested in and study them. I take a notebook and pen, and write down contact info, the sections that have contributing writers and the tone of the magazine and any other info I can potentially use. (I haven't done this in a while, I should probably start doing it again). You can also do this at libraries that have a larger magazine selection.
These are just a few tips that I've used. Here are some more from Freelance Writing Gigs.
Good luck, and have a great (and maybe long) weekend!
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
What is a bio?
It’s basically a “story-based” version of info you would put on your résumé. A bio is not as formal as a résumé, and it gives you the ability to showcase interesting tidbits about yourself while highlighting your personality. The main reason to write a bio is to give your readers and/or prospective clients a good sense of who you are and what you do. It also confirms your skills and shows your credibility and experience. You can use a bio on your website and blog, in your marketing materials, for speaking engagements or presentations and with any books, e-books, documents or reports.
What goes in it?
Most bios include:
- Present job and professional /business experience
- Professional memberships
- Honors, awards and certifications
- Contact information
You can also personalize your bio by adding things like your photo, educational background, testimonials or samples of your work.
Some tips for writing your bio:
You can write a bio in many ways, but there are common factors to make it more effective:
- (For the most part), write in third-person (using ‘he/she’ instead of ‘I’). Doing it this way shows your professionalism and allows others to really trust what you’re saying.
- Grab the attention of your readers in the first paragraph so they will want to know more about you.
- Write conversationally as this will make it simple for readers to follow what you’re saying.
- Make it as brief as you can, and only include necessary information. Think about incorporating personal or unique info about yourself at the end.
- Once you have a bio you’re happy with, remember it’s not permanent. You’ll want to adjust and update it periodically to reflect any changes you’ve made.
Monday, January 11, 2010
We're about a week and a couple of days into the new year, so this may be a little late. But I wanted to share some resolutions you should think about making for your writing biz this year.
For instance, take some time to network with other writers every week, continue to hone your writing, and make your business (and/or writing) a priority.
Check out the rest of the tips here. And feel free to let me know how you plan to use them!
Friday, January 8, 2010
Clips- If you don’t have any writing samples, get some! Try your church’s newsletter, a neighborhood event flyer, anything that will be published. Initially, you shouldn’t worry as much about pay. Why? It is sooo important to have published samples of what you’ve done so you can get assignments from bigger, well-paying publications. In other words, free or low-paying (but good) work will help you in the long run.
When you do get your clips, show them in the best way you can. For instance, if you’re sending them in the mail, copy the piece in color (instead of black and white), and make it look good.
Blogging- Basically, make a blog and start promoting it however you can- sending links to friends/family/coworkers or putting links/posts on social networking sites. If you decide to start a blog, be sure that it covers something you enjoy and are passionate about; that way, you will post in it consistently, and your posts will be interesting. When you generate enough blog traffic, try linking to other bloggers and start getting some buzz. This can really help you when trying to land writing gigs.
Website- Nowadays you can easily (and cheaply) put together your own site. The purpose of your website is to have an organized place where editors can easily see your resume, get your contact info and read your clips. (I created my own website, you can check it out here). Try doing a search on freelance writers to get an idea of how to create your website.
Again, I hope this helps someone, and a have a fabulous weekend!
Source: mediabistro.com's Insider Guide to Freelance Writing: Get a Freelance Life
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
Hello fellow writers/bloggers! It's the first Monday of 2010, so let's get to it! Today, I want to share a little more info on beginning your career as a freelance writer (source: Writer's Market 2009).
First, you definitely need professional business cards. Give them to everyone you know, post them on boards around town and tell everyone you know that you're a freelance writer. Remember, you never know who knows who.
And second, you need a portfolio, or more simply, samples of your work (preferably samples that have been published). You don't need many, only enough to convince a prospective client that you're the one for the job. Electronic samples (or a website) are good, too; that way, you can send attachments when emailing potential clients for work.
Some places to find work:
Nonprofits (places like schools, churches, hospitals and human service agencies)- Most of them communicate with others in some way. Now, it may not pay as other (read: larger) places, but it's a great way to get your foot in the door. Working with these organizations also allows you to network with board members who are often 'bigwigs' at larger businesses.
Small businesses- One way to find small businesses to work with is to look at local publications (newspapers, magazines) to find out who advertises; then, contact these places. You can also deliver your business cards to print shops and ask if your card can be given to individuals who are seeking writers.
Large corporations- Most of these places have some type of communications department, so figure out who's in charge and contact them. You can also find contact information on companies' websites.
Advertising and public relations firms- These places frequently need extra folks when times get hectic. So, contact the creative director and let him/her know you'd like to help out.
Design firms (and web designers)- Because most designers don't have writers, they're great resources for freelancers. Why? Designers need someone to create the words for their clients' material.
Have more tips? Please share them below. As always, your comments are much appreciated.