Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Weekly Resource Round Up

This week's round up has a few more goodies for you. If you have good resource or tool to share, let me know by commenting.

If you're feeling frazzled, stop by and check out Will Write for Chocolate for a laugh break. The comics never fail to make me smile.

Are you in personal branding prison? James Chartrand of Men With Pens offers some great advice about branding on a Copyblogger guest post.

Laura Spencer at Freelance Folder gives us ten tips to stay motivated even when you really don't feel like working.

If you need a refresher on punctuation, grammar or AP style, be sure to check out News University's course Cleaning Your Copy. The course is free. You just have to register with NewsU to take it.

Stock XChng is a good source for free photos to use in articles and blogs. Be sure to check the restrictions when using photos. Some require permission to use in a public work or ask that you give them a photo credit. Even if they have no requirements to use the photo, I always credit the photographer and leave a note letting them know where I used it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Back to School

Tonight, I go back to school. Considering I've been out of school 8 years, it's a bit of a scary thought, but I'm excited as well. Initially, school shouldn't interfere with my writing. My classes will be only two nights a week so I can continue to write during the day and late at night as I do now. Once I start clinicals, however, I'll have to rework my writing schedule as I've been advised that there are few, if any nighttime clinicals offered. By end the end of the year, my class will be finished and I'll be certified as a phlebotomist.

Even though I'm adding another career, I'm not giving up on my writing. My plan is to use phlebotomy as a source of full-time income while I build my writing business. As my writing business grows, I'll scale back on the other work.

The training should help my writing as well, especially when it comes to medical or health related articles. I figure I can probably get a few articles out of training and working as a phlebotomist as well.

*Photo by Steve Woods.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Weekly Resource Round Up

Note to readers: The Weekly Resource Round Up is a new feature and will appear every Wednesday. I spend a couple hours each week browsing the internet in search of information related to freelance writing. I'm constantly coming across some great information and tools and wanted to share them with you to help you in your own journey.

Deb Ng of Freelance Writing Jobs shares 50 Places that Hire Freelance Writers. Be sure to check out her freelance writing job leads as well.

Mira's List offers a large frequently updated list of grants, fellowships and residencies for individuals working in the arts. A number of these are specifically for freelance writers.

You can check the Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) of your headlines at the Advanced Marketing Institute. The free Headline Analyzer is an excellent tool for finding a headline that make an impact on your readers.

Web Doctus offers tips on using twitter to find freelance writing jobs.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Writing for Magazines

Lately, I've been considering getting into writing for magazines. The idea appeals to me for several reasons. First is the exposure. With so much writing online, it's easy to get overlooked. Writing for a popular magazine gets my name and work in front of millions of people. Second is the clips I can use in my freelance writing portfolio. An article on Associated Content or the like is okay, but can't hold a candle to an article published in a magazine read by millions. Third is the pay. Writing for content sites I make pennies per word. Writing for a magazine I can make a dollar or more a word. It adds up.

When the idea initially occurred to me, I assumed it would be difficult to find magazines willing to take on a freelance writer. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that many welcome unsolicited articles and queries. You can usually find the submission guidelines and contact information by going to the magazine's website and clicking on the “about us” or “contact us” tab. Not every magazine will indicate their rates upfront, but many do.

The one downside I've found to freelance writing for magazines is the wait time to get paid. Because articles are generally scheduled months in advance of their publication date, you may find yourself waiting a long time before you receive a check for your work. However, I feel like the higher rate of pay, not to mention the exposure, is well worth the wait.

Have you written for a magazine? If not, would you consider magazine writing? What magazines would you choose?

*Photo by R. Young.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Writer's Block

I've had writer's block lately. It's a frustrating condition, especially for a freelancer on a deadline. No one wants the dreaded label of "writer who misses deadlines." So how does a writer break through writer's block and get the words flowing again?

I did some research to find out what other writers do and came across an interesting post by Matt at Signal vs Noise. In his blog post Writer's Block is Sometimes Just Typer's Block, he theorizes that we have the words we need, but our fingers fail to follow through. He recommends speaking the words, then going back and transcribing what you recorded. In theory, this allows you to bypass your fingers, allowing your words to shine as they're meant to.

It actually makes perfect sense. I spend so much time struggling to get the typed words to match the words in my head that I end up cluttering them up, rendering my writing incomprehensible. By speaking the words naturally and then going back and typing, I skipped all the extra words by fingers were trying to add and managed to complete my article.

What's your method for dealing with writer's block?

*Photo by Robert Linder.

Monday, July 13, 2009



Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pros and Cons of Freelance Writing

As with most things, freelance writing has its pros and cons. While the pros are what draw most of us to a career as a freelance writer, it's important to explore the cons as well. Many can be overcome, but if you find you have difficulty dealing with one of the cons, it may be time to do some serious thinking about whether freelance writing is really the best career option for you.

  • You can work just about anywhere. I've worked from a hospital waiting room while my husband had a procedure and the backyard while my daughter played.
  • You set your own hours. In a regular 9 to 5 job, you generally have to plan activities around your work schedule. One of the things that drew me to freelance writing is being able to take my daughter to the park in the middle of the day if we wanted to go.
  • You can wear your bunny slippers to work and no one will laugh. Other than your spouse or kids anyway.
  • If you don't feel like doing a specific job, you can turn it down.
  • You don't have to tune out your coworkers chatter.
  • Unless you're ghostwriting, it's your byline on the work you do.
  • You have to find your own work. It doesn't matter if you're the best writer to ever attempt a freelance writing career. If you don't take the initiative to find work, odds are you won't survive as a freelance writer.
  • You have to be organized. A freelance writer with a reputation for missing deadlines will find it difficult to find jobs. I use a combination of a day planner and reminder on my computer to ensure I don't miss a deadline.
  • You're on your own with taxes. As an employee, taxes are automatically pulled out of your paycheck. When you freelance, you are responsible for paying the taxes yourself.
  • You have to have a thick skin. In a perfect world, we'd always get every job we wanted. In the real world, the job often goes to the writer with more experience, a lower rate or simply a different style or writing. Freelance writers have to be able to handle rejection.
  • It can be lonely.
What pros and cons have you found in your freelance writing career?

*Photo by Stephen Stacey.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Freelance Progress Report: June 2009

This month I added another paid writing gig with Review Stream. The pay isn't the greatest-a few dollars per review, a fraction of that if they consider it a bulk review. Thankfully, all of my submitted reviews were paid at the full rate. You can review anything-products in your home, local businesses, etc. I did a couple reviews on supplements I take and a few on local businesses. Judging from some of the reviews I read on the site, they're not too picky about how good the writing is.

It is a little different from other writing sites in that it doesn't have a log in. Initially, I thought it was a scam, but I did a little research and it appears they are legit. I don't plan on it being a big money stream, but it's okay for a little extra when I don't have any other work to do.

The Breakdown
3 reviews at regular rate-$6

I haven't did a lot of work at Associated Content this month. This is partially due to the fact that writing assignments have been few and far between. Most of the assignment list is made up of video and audio assignments. While I have the equipment to do those type of assignments, I prefer writing. I haven't claimed the few writing assignments because they have all been on topics I'm not familiar with. While I don't mind researching, it's just not productive for me to do that much research on an article that only offers a couple dollars. In the time I spend researching something I have absolutely no knowledge on, I would have been able to write a couple articles for TextBroker or a handful of reviews for Review Stream and made a lot more money. With limited time to write, I need to make sure the pay is enough to compensate for the time spent.

I did run into a problem with my Father's Day article. Apparently someone stole it and "spun" it. When I was checking the standing of my articles on the search engines, something I do on a regular basis, I came across the other one. The idiot who stole it was not the brightest crayon in the box. Their spun version made no sense, not to mention they neglected to steal the second page of the article. This is the first time I've ran into an issue with any of my articles and it was frustrating. Logically, I know it's bound to happen if my articles are online. However, that doesn't stop me from feeling very ticked off at the person for ripping off my article.

The Breakdown
4 articles
1 assignment-$3.75
3 offered upfront-$9.09
April PV bonus-$0.30
May PV bonus-$1.79
total for month-$14.93
total since start-$103.14

I ended up giving Textbroker the majority of my writing time this month. They've had pretty steady work almost all month. Of the articles I wrote, only a couple were in the 3 category so I made out pretty well. I definitely surpassed last month's income with the site.

I got lucky the other day and snagged an article that paid between $14 and $28. It ended up being a little more work than I had expected, but I did get it finished. Even with falling short of the upper limit (which I almost always hit with other articles), I still made $23.58.

I did send in my request to be moved up to a 5 rating. One of the editors answered my request and said that they would review my writing. She also let me know that the process can take up to a few weeks. So far, I haven't heard anything back other than that and I'm still at a 4 rating, but I'm not giving up on it.

They had another bonus weekend, but I only got a $1 bonus, just like the last bonus weekend. It never fails; I'm always busy doing other stuff when one is going on so I end up missing out on a nice bonus.

The Breakdown
9 articles in the 4 category-$75.10
2 articles in the 3 category-$10.00
bonus weekend-$1.00
Total for month-$86.10
Total to date-$162.70

July will be my last month before I add another aspect to my already busy schedule. I start classes at the end of the month to become a phlebotomist. I still plan to continue in my efforts to make a career as a freelance writer, but phlebotomy will give me a steady income while my business gains momentum.

*Photo by Sigurd Decross.