Friday, November 09, 2012

Ever Curious About Freelance Writers?

For the last year or so, I've followed Kimberly Ben at Avid Writer in her freelance writing journey.  Her posts are always informative and helpful for both established and novice writers alike.  The article she posted yesterday, 3 Answers to Curious Questions About How to Become a Freelance Writer, was one that I can relate to.  Over the years, many curious friends, family members and acquaintances have asked me lots of questions about what I do.

Here are three commonly asked questions about freelance writing and my responses to them.

(1)  What sort of writing do you do?  I have been very blessed with a variety of writing opportunities over the last ten years, including writing many articles of various topics, lots of press releases, brochures, newsletters, and I even ghost wrote a book on parenting.  My articles and press releases have been published all over the web.

A few things that I have not done are publish an article in print, technical writing, grant writing, nor have I published a book - yet.  These (with the exception of technical writing) are all things I'd like to do some day.

(2)  How do you get jobs?  I've acquired a lot of the work I've done simply by networking with other people who love to do what I do - write.  I've learned an incredible lot by visiting other freelancing blogs, getting to know these people, and by learning from their experiences.  I've both worked for some of these friends, or they have actually referred work to me because they are too busy to take on more themselves. I've also sought out opportunities by querying or sending manuscripts to publications and gotten jobs in that manner.  

I think everybody goes about it differently and that makes sense in light of the fact that there's so many different kinds of writing to do.  For those starting out, it's important to remember that it won't happen overnight.  It takes time to get enough clips and articles to make you a credible writer, one that people want to hire. But the more you get, the more your credibility grows and before you know it, you're getting more assignments.

(3) Can you make money at freelance writing?  Well, as Kimberly addressed in her post, whether or not they actually ask, people often wonder if you can make money at writing.  The answer is yes.  In fact, there's good money to be had.  People do it every single day.  You must realize that just about everything on the web involves writing - blogs, websites (business or otherwise), e-zines and the list goes on.  It seems as though there's an increased need for good writers now more than ever. Other than internet, there's also local business opportunities, contests, print, and there's even money to be made on re-prints of your own articles.

So yes, if you're willing to do your research and seek out jobs there is most definitely money to make in the world of freelance writing.  It's your own hard work, determination, and perseverance that determines your level of success.

I look forward to my future as a freelance writer.  I know that as my children grow and mature I will be able to invest more time into this career that's so exciting and rewarding to me.  In the mean time, if you're considering becoming a writer, go for it!!! If you have the passion and the drive to do it, success can be yours too!

photo credit: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton via photopin cc

Thursday, November 01, 2012

What's So Inspiring About November?

With November often comes the onset of cold gusty winds, gray, dreary days, and the first snowstorms of the season.  To make matters worse, the days become shorter and the sun seems to shine but precious little, but as "blah" as that sounds there's an upside to everything.  These are the perfect days to hunker down and light spicy scented candles all over the house, play board games with the kids or simply cuddle up under blankets with good books to read or a laptop for writing.

November is the beginning of many exciting and even inspiring things to come, especially this year.  On a national scale, American citizens will soon be casting their votes to determine who will be president for the next four years.  Some will be happy, some will not, but it remains a time of hope and change for a promise of a bright future.

Soon after election day, will come Thanksgiving.  What's more inspiring or joyful than sharing a delicious feast with your closest friends and loved ones?  For writers, taking a moment to jot down a few of their favorite memories, or even bits of funny conversations may become grist for the mill down the line.  It's those little things that might give your fiction, memoir, or even magazine article that special tidbit that makes it real for your readers. The ability to do that makes you a real writer.    

Of course, it's also the beginning of the Christmas season, and despite what others may think I love everything about this time of the year.  I'm one of those crazy people who can't wait to hear the first Christmas jingle on the radio.  After that, it's Christmas cookies and decorating all the way - all the way to Christmas day that is!  

For me personally, I will hopefully be publishing my new freelance writing website this month.  Getting it up and running will be my main writing goal, but I'll also be working on marketing and acquiring some jobs as well.  I'll keep you posted throughout my journey.      

So for me, the drear of November holds no threat.  I'm ready to hear the whistle of cold, wild, wind gusts, to see snow falling gently (or angrily) to the ground while I tap, tap, tap the keyboard of my laptop.  When the sun does shine, I'll greedily soak it in and think of all the great things to come this November!

Leave a comment and tell me what you are looking forward to this month?  I'd love to hear from you!

photo credit: susanvg via photopin cc


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Five Simple Tips for Starting Your Own Blog

Ever thought about joining the blogosphere?  If so, I can't say as I blame you.  I've been blogging for many years and have found it to be one of the most rewarding forms of writing I do.  Blogging is creative, informative, educational, fun, interactive, entertaining - all those things and more!  The best part is that it can be whatever the author wants it to be.  

For me, it simply started as an online journal of sorts.  I'd write about my life, my family, or whatever else inspired me at the moment.  Eventually, it took on a new shape - and name (Getting it Write for You), and I used it as a serious marketing tool.  The focus became writing (obviously).  Through my blog, I've connected with some incredibly talented people from all over the world who have remained my mentors, friends, and even clients or employers over the years.  

I always encourage anyone who's interested in writing for hire, to begin a blog because it's one of the best ways to both make connections and showcase your writing.  When I was freelancing more than I am now, back in the days when I didn't have four children to fill up my days (and believe me, they are filled to the brim) I directed potential clients to both a professional website with an online portfolio, rates, and so-forth, as well as to my blog.  

They both had writing samples, but of very different styles. My blog showcases my writing in a relaxed and informal way, exhibits my knowledge on writing, and gives potential clients an idea of what kind of person I am.  It's helped me acquire many writing jobs.  

Over the years, people have often asked me how to start a blog of their own.  Whether it's for personal or professional use, here are a few tips that might be helpful to anyone getting started with their own blog:

  • Consider your purpose. First of all, think about what you want to do with your blog.  Will it be for personal use, an online journal as mine began as or will it be to aide your journey in something - albeit writing, or couponing or whatever else your interest is.  Having a focus helps to draw a targeted audience.  A good question to ask yourself is who do you want reading your blog?  
  • Just do it!  After you've determined what your purpose will be, research the different blogging sites out there.  Two of the most popular options are Blogger and WordPress.  They are both free. Blogger offers professional looking templates and is easy to navigate.  They make it simple for the beginning blogger to set it up and get going right away.  One of the biggest complaints Blogger gets is that the templates have only cookie-cutter designs and are less molded to an individual's personal preferences.  For those who feel that way, WordPress might be a better choice.  The author has more options to make their site more unique.  They may choose from templates that are more professional looking, but WordPress requires a little more knowledge and time to get set up. 
  • Start driving - traffic to your site that is!  If you're starting a blog to market a service or a product, it's important to get out there in the blogosphere and start making connections.  Read other blogs.  Comment on entries that you find interesting, and when you comment always leave your URL.  This helps drive traffic to your own site.  Also, join forums related to your trade or product.  It's a great way to learn from others who are trying to accomplish the same goals as you and once again, by leaving your URL with your signature, people will visit your site.  
  • Have fun and share!!!  Most importantly, have a blast with your new blog!  Write your little heart out, meet new people and make connections.  Enjoy the experience of sharing information, or bringing joy to someone through the very words you've written.  I know I do!  This is a great place for me to inspire, encourage, and educate those who are looking for that in their lives.   
  • Or don't share at all.  Of course, if none of that's for you - if you are maybe a little shy about sharing your writing for the entire world to see, or you only want your blog to be a therapeutic place to write your innermost thoughts, it doesn't have to be shared at all.  It can be a private place for you to write whatever is on your mind.  Just be sure to click that button when you're getting set up.

A blog is as individual as a fingerprint and that's wonderful.  So if you haven't set one up yet, but you've been thinking about it, get to it!!!  The joy it brings will be well worth the effort - guaranteed!!  Oh!  And if you want to share it, be sure to send me a link!  I'd LOVE to check it out!  Until next time, have an incredible day!       

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"You're mean, Thunder!" my four-year-old childishly chides the sky as she eagerly awaits the passing of today's gentle storm.  Me?  I'm loving it as I steal away a few moments in my quiet sitting room, with the windows wide open.  I love a good storm, gentle or not.  There's nothing quite as relaxing to me, and after the last several days, I'm thrilled to enjoy some down time.

Summer vacation has begun for my two older children, which means even more fun for the two youngest - or more fights if you want to look at it that way.  I prefer to be an optimist and not think of the the bickering that may soon ensue!

Honestly, though we've had mostly peace and harmony since vacation began last Friday. How could we not?  It's been one big party for them so far.  We started our vacation off with a bang by making a trip to the Erie Zoo with some of our favorite friends, the Wallace ladies, on Friday.

A trip to the zoo isn't complete without a ride on the train.  Here's a combination of our girls getting ready for their ride.    

Here's Giana sitting on my lap.  She couldn't wait to see what was going on!  She never went on a train ride before - at least that she remembers.

After the zoo, we went back to the Wallace's where they graciously shared delicious ice cream cake and we decided ordering pizza would be a good idea.  So that's what we did, but we congregated back at our house, and after eating and playing more we ended our day with a campfire and s'mores.  Life doesn't get any better than that, especially for a child!

The weekend was jam-packed with more fun for the girls - mostly involving kiddie swimming pools, and swimming at the pond.  My fun came in a different form - that of weeding, preparing and planting gardens, both veggie and flowers, but mostly flowers.  It may sound like a lot of work, but like storms gardening is relaxing in its own way, and it reaps so many rewards.

This is definitely one of them.  Fresh cut flowers on the table is one of life's simple delights!  The same goes for fresh veggies to put on the dinner table, or to can during the harvest season.  I love feeding my family when I know exactly where the food came from or what ingredients went into what was prepared.  It's hard to know what to trust these days and I never have to question it when it's from my garden.

But what I love most when I'm out gardening is the time I get to enjoy all by myself.  Usually when I'm working I'm alone which is a rarity with four children.  If they come near, they know I'll put them on weed-pulling duty which they definitely don't want!  Either way, I win!  

But seriously, gardening reminds me of my youth when I was able to enjoy the world around me; to really hear the birds singing, to watch the little chipmunks scampering across the yard, to feel the breeze blowing against my cheeks. It also gives me time to plan my days, decide what has or hasn't been working in my life, as well as prioritize and set goals.

Someday my life won't be full of the chaos that goes with raising children.  Then perhaps these sweet little gifts will be mine all the time, but believe me, I'm in no hurry for that.  For now, I'm perfectly content to enjoy trips to the zoo, listen to little girls giggling or bickering, and to stop to smell the vases of fresh cut flowers on my table every once in a while.  I'll cherish the time I get to myself, but treasure my time with family and all my blessings even more.  

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Spring - The Season of Creation

Spring is here!  Ok.  Technically, it actually isn't until the 20th, but it's beginning to feel like it anyway.  When I first stepped outside yesterday, I was delighted by our first real taste of spring.  The thermometer bragged of temperatures in the 60's, and although we've had a mild winter, it was a treat none-the-less.  In eager anticipation, I walked the premises of our property in search of snow drops, crocuses and tips of tulip leaves barely breaking the soil.  By the time I completed my rounds, I caught the fever - spring fever that is.     

I love spring.  It's definitely one of my favorite seasons.  Confession:  I've never really been able to narrow it down to one, but I can say with certainty that winter is at the bottom of the list, despite the fact that even it has it's own special qualities.  But what I love about spring is that it's the season of creation.  Birth.  New life is everywhere and it's so exciting.  I can only imagine how God must have felt as He created it all in the beginning!

But for me, the best thing about spring is the way it makes me feel.  Like many people, I find myself inspired by all things new.  Sometimes it comes in the form of cleaning my house from top to bottom, but at other times, it plants a seed within my soul.  I want to soak in all the beauty around me, but I also want to be an active part of it.  I want to create.  So I set aside my inhibitions and do what I love to do: I write. 

That's why I'm here today.  I'm partnering with mother nature and letting that seed of inspiration sprout into a blog post - my first in nine months!  Say what? Yep.  It's true, but even though I haven't been diligent here, doesn't mean I haven't been working on other things.  Last spring, I actually outlined my first book, but then did nothing with it all summer long.  In fact, I did nothing with it until my dear friend and writing partner, Betsy Henning, approached me about wanting to participate in Nanowrimo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month.

For those of you who don't know, Nanowrimo is simply a project coordinated by the Office of Letters and Light, a non-profit organization with the goal of helping people (young and old) attain their writing goals.  Specifically here, the goal is to write a 50,000 word book in the month of November.  According to their website, "it is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing.  I'll say!

"Let's do it!" Betsy challenged.  She spoke of it throughout the entire month of October, even going so far as to sign up for an online Nanowrimo preparation class.  She meant business.  She really wanted to do this thing. 

"Yeah.  Sure.  I'll do it," I said, unenthusiastically.  But when I went back to the outline I worked out the previous spring something moved me.  I don't know if it was belief in my story, the fact that I knew I had something to say and needed say it, or if it was that I just needed to know if I could write a book from beginning to end.

Whatever the reason or reasons, I committed wholeheartedly.  Betsy and I worked diligently all month and completed our first manuscripts slightly ahead of the allotted time.  It was a victory for us both.  We completed the writer's equivalent to the marathon.  Of course, I know mine needs a lot of work.  It accurately fits Anne Lamott's definition of a "shitty first draft," but I am comforted by the fact that according to her all good writers write them.  And hey, I did it!   I outlined and wrote a book and now I need to move on to the next step - revising and editing.  I know I will spend many hours at it, but eventually, I hope to end up with a good second draft and maybe even a terrific third draft (that's what she says happens if you keep at it!).  

So here I am, sprouting my little seed of inspiration once again and hoping that with hard work and diligence, great things will begin happening elsewhere in my writing life as well.