Tag Archives: guest posts

13 Ways to Boost Your Freelance Career (Without the Internet)

By Terri Huggins

My name is Terri and I have a problem. I think most Americans can relate to it. (I can’t be the only crazy one.) I am addicted to the Internet. I always knew my excessive Internet use was a problem but I didn’t know how big an issue it was until October 2012. I, amongst thousands of other Central Jersey residents, found myself the main target of Superstorm Sandy. I was one of the fortunate people, though. I am alive, my home was intact, and we never lost power. Yet, I still found myself suffering when it came to work.

freelance writing careerObviously, never losing electricity wasn’t a problem. The problem was that everyone else did. That meant I wasn’t able to email editors, follow up on pitches, or schedule interviews and expect a response. When everyone lost all connectivity, I lost all connectivity. That loss made me feel like a fish out of water. (Of course, it wasn’t as extreme as those who actually lost electricity.) It turns out I didn’t know how to function without sending emails with instant gratification, calling people and sending tweets for sources. As a result, my productivity and business really began to suffer. It was then that I learned I rely on the Internet way too much.

Sure, having access to Gmail, HARO, and WordPress have boosted business and helped journalists stay organized, connected and on top of breaking news. However, when you lack the ability to operate without these tools your business may be in total jeopardy. It was a life lesson I learned the hard way. To spare others from learning that lesson the way I did, I’ve come up with a list of 13 Internet free tasks that can boost your freelance career.

1. Do some cold calling

Most people lost phone service during the storm. Truth be told, I got a lot of busy signals, error messages, and voice mail prompts during my cold call sessions. However, I did strike gold every once in a while. But when cold calling proved to be pointless, I decided to make a list of people I planned on contacting once business went back to normal. When it was time to return to my normal routine, having the list on hand made my work schedule easier and increased my productivity.

2. Assess your client list

It’s easy to take on clients blindly out of excitement. After all, it’s extra work and pays the bills. But they don’t always fulfill your mission or may not be worth the time. Revise, your list of clients and analyze which ones aren’t as profitable. Are you satisfied with your relationship with them? Do you have too many clients to handle right now? Do they assist in reaching a bigger goal? Can you afford to cut some loose? Do you need more clients? Now is the perfect time to reevaluate.

During the loss of connection, I found that many of the clients I took on don’t assist in fulfilling my reason for being a writer. By the time, everything was restored I was able to begin eliminating those who no longer fit my needs and work towards getting clients that do.

3. Revise your marketing strategy

It is always wise to have a marketing strategy. Otherwise, you will be moving blindly toward your goal. If you don’t have a strategy, take out a pad and scribble down your plan of attack. Should you already have a marketing strategy, decide whether or not it’s helping you reach your goal. Do you practice in-person networking? Are you writing guest posts? Do you send out email campaigns? Are they working? It’s normal for marketing strategies to not fit as businesses they grow. Take the time to analyze and see what needs to be amended.

4. Edit your resume and bio

The rumors are true. Even as a freelance writer, you need a resume. Occasionally, you still might run into the potential client who decides a resume, bio, and portfolio are necessary before hiring you. Make sure they paint an accurate picture of you. Update your resume to reflect your best and most recent gigs. Make sure your bio is still relevant. I had been putting of the update of my resume for a long time. Sandy provided me with the nudge I needed to get it done.

5. Write

As freelance writers, this one should be a given. But the truth is finding uninterrupted time in which you can draft that blog post, start that article, or complete that copywriting assignment is difficult. There’s always the distraction of an open email box, Twitter alerts, Facebook messages, and phone calls. Take the time to unplug and actually do what you’re paid to do for a living.

With no Internet and calls to follow up on, I was able to write more than I ever had in a long time. It was really rewarding being able to complete my blog posts for the month in one day!

6. Meet the neighbors

Unfortunately, constant access to Internet has made it unnecessary for people to actually see each other face to face. However, it’s good for business. Getting out of the home office for a while, mingling with others, and networking with neighborhood businesses is revitalizing.

7. Set and evaluate your goals

As time goes on, goals change. Unfortunately, we never take the time to stop and realize it. Think about goals you’ve already made. Are they still in progress? Have you reached them? Are the goals still relevant to your career path? Once you set and evaluate goals, you will be able to be more efficient as a freelance writer.

8. Assess your budget

I hate numbers. It was one of the reasons why I went into journalism. Journalism or not, numbers are important. It can’t be avoided for long. Tracking expenses, and income is necessary for running any business. Once you assess your budget you can determine if you need more income, slash your budget, or search for new clients.

9. Create templates

As great as personalized, unique documents are, they take a lot of time. They aren’t suggested for everything, but it can be very beneficial to have templates. If you happen to use the same format for email follow-ups, or some pitches, create a basic template for it to save some time.

10. Back up files

Technology is great, but sometimes we have to accept that it will fail. If you don’t have several copies of documents you are out of luck. Dedicate an afternoon to backing up all your documents. You’ll be happy you did should your computer crash.

11. Revisit your reading lists

Remember, all those magazine clippings, printed blogs, and downloaded e-books you saved? If you are anything like me, they are still sitting in your “rainy day” pile untouched. It’s about time you actually go through the pile. You may come across new ideas to pitch, potential sources, and inspiration for your blog post. Sandy gave me the opportunity to slash my “rainy day” reading file in half. I learned so much.

12. Organize your source list

There is nothing worse than scrambling to find sources for a story at the last minute. If you’ve been in the business for a while there is probably a collection of sources in disarray. Save yourself the time and stress by organizing your sources. When you need a source at a moments notice you’ll know exactly what to do.

13. Go to the library

The library is a foreign land to many people. After all, who needs the library when you’ve got Google, e-books, and I-tunes? The problem is many people forgot how to research without the use of Google. A visit to the library can help you relearn the basics of thorough research.

Terri HugginsTerri Huggins is a Freelance Writer/Journalist in NJ who specializes in bridal, beauty, relationships, education and business topics. She also writes marketing paraphernalia such as brochures, press releases, blogs and newsletters for local businesses. By night, Terri is a arts enthusiast, prima ballerina, education activist, and dedicated volunteer. Connect with Terri on Twitter: TERRIficWords or stop by her blog, www.terrificwords.wordpress.com. Professional Website: http://www.writingbyterri.com/

 

Image credit: svilen001

2012: A Year of Guest Posts

If you’re interested in pitching a guest post idea to me for 2013, contact me. Those who pitch articles related to writing, freelancing, and publishing have the best odds of being accepted.

creative writing quirks

The 100+ Project

Patrick writes about his experiences with asthma and how he is raising money and awareness for The Asthma and Allergy Foundation St. Louis Chapter.

Self-Publishing Fundamentals

Kim gives a great overview of the process of self-publishing and helps you understand what steps are involved in writing, formatting, and publishing a book without using a traditional publisher.

The Definition Of Freelance Writing

What does it mean to be a freelance writer anyway? Charlotte talks about the key characteristics of freelance writers and what makes them—and their work—unique.

Writing A Book? Set Goals And Stay Motivated.

Stacy challenges authors to finish their works by setting attainable goals. Don’t let your desire motivation fizzle.

5 Unavoidable Creative Writing Quirks

Creative writers are a quirky bunch. If you’re a writer, chances are you’ll identify with one or more of these common quirks. I admit I sometimes talk to myself.

Playing The Name Game

When is it okay to use an editor’s first name? Is a more or less formal approach appealing to editors? Terri talks about the challenges of choosing how to approach an editor for the first time.

How To Choose A Domain Name — An Author’s Guide

Part of building your author platform includes setting up a website. Learn a few tips and tricks for picking a memorable and effective domain name for your author site.

From First Draft To Finished Product: The Editorial Process

Editing is a long process that involves multiple steps. Kelly explains the difference in substantive or developmental editing and copy editing and why both are important.

Writing For A Micro-Press In The Age of Self-Publishing

As self-publishing continues rising in popularity, Jessie contemplates what this means for the micro-press and weighs some of the pros and cons of each.

The Cover’s The Thing

Great advice for writers who plan to self-publish. Claire explains what makes an excellent cover and shares a handful of resources to help you get started.

Attention Writers: 6 Ways To Spot a 5-Star Publisher

With all of the negative attention surrounding poor self-publishing companies, Sara offers tips to help you evaluate and find a 5-star publisher for your next book.

5 Things Publishers Care About More Than Good Writing

Brooke, writing coach and publisher at She Writes Press, explains how writers can make themselves more appealing to traditional publishers.

The 100+ Project

Last week my brother asked me if I had room for a guest post to help spread the word about his friend’s 100+ Project. So today, we’re shifting gears a little. Check out how Patrick Albert is raising money for The Asthma and Allergy Foundation St. Louis Chapter.

asthmaI couldn’t breathe!

Something most people take for granted I struggled with day in and day out. Every breath required a conscious effort. It went a little like this, breathe in, breathe out, repeat.

The year was 1997, Bill Clinton was president, “MMMBop” by Hanson was rising up the pop charts, and I
was diagnosed with Asthma.

During my initial phase of suffering, asthma never crossed my mind. The only thing I “knew” about asthma was that the nerdiest kids in the schoolyard were the only ones afflicted. I was 26 years old. I did know that the source of my suffering was my roommate’s cat. I had been allergic to cats for a long time and quickly figured out what was stealing my breath. Still thinking I was dealing with a really bad allergic reaction I tried everything I could think of to get some relief (except go to the doctor). I popped antihistamines like Skittles, and inhaled steam from a boiling pot with a towel over my head, and many other useless attempts that all had one thing in common: they didn’t relieve asthma symptoms!

The straw that finally broke the wheezing camel’s back was when it got so bad I couldn’t sleep. After being in bed for hours I would eventually fall asleep. But remember, when I said every breath required a conscious effort, I wasn’t kidding. After I fell asleep I would stop breathing and wake up. It went a little something like this, fall asleep, stop breathing, wake up, repeat. Clearly not the recipe for feeling fresh in the morning.

When I finally went to the doctor, he listened to my lungs and I told him my story and he said, “Sgt. Albert, you have asthma.” Did I mention I was in the Army at the time? Well I was. Feel free to wish me a happy Veteran’s Day. What he said to me next was very sobering. He said, “You could die from this.”

Say what? How did all those nerdy kids in the schoolyard survive if asthma was such a serious condition? Apparently I was ignorant of all things asthma. Once it was spelled out to me in the simplest of manners it made pretty good sense. Not being able to breathe is a pretty good way to die. It was so simple I just couldn’t see it.

After my diagnosis my roommate got rid of the cat and eventually I got back to normal lung function. Things were going good until I came home one day and saw a litter box in the kitchen. Filled with a complex cocktail of emotions—chief of which were fear and anger—I immediately went to my room and put a towel at the bottom of the door to keep the dander out. The next morning I packed up all my things and left. There was no way I could go through that again, not even with a proper diagnosis and medication. Not then, not now, not ever. I suspect my roommate’s wife wanted me to move out and attempting to kill me in the most passive-aggressive way imaginable was way easier than confrontation. Mission
accomplished (the terrorists have won?).

Since those horrible horrible days in North Carolina, I have been relatively symptom free. I stay away from cats whenever possible which has been 99% of the time. I am careful to figure out which of friends own cats so I know not to go to their houses. It requires a bit of work but it beats looking forward to an evening with friends only to find out I have to leave before I have an attack. I have been symptom free enough that I enjoy endurance sports, running, cycling, paddling, adventure racing, you name it. All sports that require some serious lung function, the very thing that asthma takes from people.

Fast forward to a little over a year ago.

After a disappointing race, I was at a really low point thinking about giving up racing and finding something else to occupy my time. I was adrift at sea (or the in the river) with no direction. Somehow I found out about this guy from the UK who was stand up paddleboarding down the entire length of the Mississippi.

What a great adventure! I was intrigued. This wasn’t even his first adventure. He had skateboarded across Australia and ridden a tandem bike from Vancouver to Las Vegas. Since I live about 20 miles outside of St. Louis I decided I had to meet this guy as he paddled down the river. We exchanged emails and arranged a time and place to meet and I would join him for a day on the river. Waiting at the arranged location I had no idea what was in store for me. Eventually he paddled over to the river bank where I was waiting and offered me some crisps. That was how I met Dave Cornthwaite. The direction of my life was about to change. In a good way.

Dave seemed very happy and full of life and I wanted to feel the same way. I won’t go into his story, you can read that for yourself, but his solution wasn’t going to work for me. You see Mr. Cornthwaite raises money for charity while out on these adventures and I thought maybe , just maybe I could do something of the same sort, only on a smaller scale. There were quite a few adventures that I had been putting off because that is what I was conditioned to do, go to work and put off all the things I always said I wanted to do. Well no more! Adventure awaited and I was eager to get started. That’s the nutshell version of how I came up with the idea for the 100+Project. One hundred or more miles each time on a different
form of transport.

The decision of what organization to benefit was easy once I actually sat down and thought for a moment. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation St. Louis Chapter does really great work in the community to improve the lives of allergy and asthma sufferers. I was nervous that they would tell me to get lost, but the Foundation was very happy that I wanted to do something to help. While asthma and allergies don’t have the fundraising clout of cancer and wounded warriors, it is a cause that I can identify with because I know what the sufferers are going through first hand and believe me it is no picnic.

Not everyone who suffers from asthma and allergies is fortunate enough to be able to stay away from their triggers like I am. Imagine what it must be like for a kid in the lunchroom not knowing if today would be the day that he accidentally came into contact with some peanut dust. Anaphylactic shock can be hard on your social status, not to mention life threatening (the double whammy for any school-aged kid). AAFASTL helps children and young adults (up to the age of 22) who are uninsured or underinsured receive medication, treatment and supplies to manage their conditions. They also provide training for school nurses so they will know how to handle an allergic reaction or asthma attack. Those are just two examples of the great things they are doing in the community to make people’s lives better.

So far the 100+Project has raised close to one thousand dollars over three different journeys. I have skateboarded 107 miles, cycled 241 miles, and kayaked 340 miles. Not being a natural fundraiser or self promoter, I am always looking to learn more ways to achieve these goals. Always coming up with ideas for adventures, it is hard not to keep one upping myself. Next year I have a really long run on the schedule, a long trip down the Illinois river by canoe, and a long walk on the Ozark trail. During all these adventures I try to keep focused on one thing, all the people that the Foundation helps.

Asthma and allergy sufferers want the same thing everyone wants, to live a life without limits, and that is what the Asthma and Allergy Foundation strives to help them achieve.

patrick albertPatrick Albert is a part time adventurer and sometime fundraiser and founder of the 100+Project. His blog Trail and Error chronicles all of the adventures not related to his fundraising efforts. When Patrick is not behind the keyboard he can be found out on the trail, or the river gearing up for the next big adventure.

Writing for a Micro-Press in the Age of Self-Publishing

By Jessie Powell

self-publishingEmily is gearing up for Writers’ Week here on Suess’s Pieces. As an author whose book was published by micro-press Throwaway Lines, I’m fascinated by her topic, the self-publishing process. It isn’t all that different from working with a micro-press.

Let me start with the obvious differences between the two.  The good part for me is that I didn’t pay anything to publish Divorce: A Love Story. I didn’t buy my ISBN, I didn’t hire a private editor, and I didn’t work with Amazon and Barnes and Noble to get the book listed. All of those things were taken care of by my publisher. Right now, the novel is still only available in e-book format, but we’re hoping for a fall release of the paperback edition.

Of course by that same token, I miss out on potential advantages to self publishing, like increased control and possibly greater royalties. I’m also not in control of the timeline. At a traditional publisher, this would be because the book had to be worked into the schedule. But Throwaway Lines has a staff of exactly two, and my editor has a day job. That means that things can move slowly. Obviously, a self-published author is much more in control of the speed of publication.

But then again, maybe not. Depending on how much the author farms out, self-publication can also come with a set of built-in delays. For instance, a wise author will hire an editor. Nobody wants to be the next Shades of Grey in the grammar and continuity department.  And cover art is often hired out as well.

In fact, the same agencies a self-published author will use in the manuscript finishing process are all available to micro-presses. For example, my editor, Jason Horger says:

We had a basic design for the front that we liked okay, and then putting together the rest of it (spine, back cover) fell apart like a paper goblet. Oh, and then we farmed out the cover to a designer and…sweet Jesus, it just wasn’t right at all.

For the paperback edition, Jason plans to trust his own design skills a little more. (I certainly do; I liked the prototypes he initially created, and the basic premise for one of those wound up in the final concept.)  He also plans to work with a print-on-demand group because it’s not financially sound for presses of this size to have stock on hand.

In the end, it’s been wonderful for me to work with a micro- press. I’m not willing to pay to go to work every day. Indeed, I can’t afford to. So I need to find someone to publish my writing. I hope to someday work with a larger press, and I’m completely open with Throwaway Lines about that plan. But I’m not saying that as a dig against self-published authors. There are situations in which self-publication is exactly the route to go, and I can’t wait to learn more about the process when Writers’ Week kicks into gear here on Suess’s Pieces.

Jessie Bishop Powell is a freelance writer who blogs as the Jester Queen. Her articles and stories have appeared in encyclopedias and blogs, as well as a nationally syndicated magazine. You can buy her novel Divorce: A Love Story at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.