freelancerforhire

Posts Tagged ‘beginning writers’

Being Brave

In Getting started, Writing & Motherhood on October 27, 2009 at 9:38 pm

I had someone comment on a previous blog post about how intimidating it can be to launch a freelance career.  I couldn’t agree with her more.  Some days it seems like I’ll be stuck in this “beginner’s limbo” forever.  Most days the only way I can get anything done is to pull some ridiculously late nights wiritng after the little one and my husband are both in bed, and then wake up to perform my motherly and wifely duties.  It can be demanding, to say the least.

Up until now none of my writing experience has awarded me a pay check.  And it seems like I’ve filled my plate with so many other writing tasks in hopes of building my portfolio and credibility that I have no time to move into the realm of writing for pay.  So what’s a writing mama to do?  Follow my own advice and stay the course.  It can be done.  Or else there would be no writers.  Right?

A fellow writer friend of mine (recently featured in a Q&A here) commented on the amount of rejection in the writing industry and a mentor of her’s encouraging her to “get out their and pitch, pitch, pitch!”  I think that’s all there is to it.  Resilience.  The determination to keep going.  Because unless you’re famous, or know someone famous it won’t be easy – you just have to want it.

Some thoughts to part with: if you just get out there and do it, one day you’ll look up and you won’t be a beginner anymore.

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Wrangling Interviews

In Learn from my mistakes. on October 20, 2009 at 11:52 am

Just as deadlines are a fact of life for a writer – in most cases so are interviews.  I can’t imagine that any successful writer has gone their entire career without having to do at least a few interviews.  Which brings me to today’s lesson learned the hard way: make sure the bulk of your work is done before you begin soliciting interviews, or t the very least be able to give your interviewees a realistic finish date.

I have been working on an article to be featured on my web zine for a couple months now.  I put the horse before the carriage a bit and started contacting people for interviews before I even had a complete list of people I’d like to interview.  As a result I landed the first interview in August expecting to be finished in a couple weeks, and wasn’t. 

It’s taken longer than expected to get the interviews I wanted for this piece.  Just finding the right people for my needs has been harder than I expected, and then a  few people weren’t interested or didn’t have the time to participate. 

Why is this so important?  Your interviewees may want to see the finished product, and you don’t want to seem unprofessional by delivering it late (in my opinion it’s good form to offer to send the finished product or notify them after publication – preferably the former).  If that’s not reason enough, you want to be reasonably certain that this article is going to happen.  Imagine taking the time to participate in an interview with the expectation you’d be quoted in an article, only to find out that your time had been wasted.  That’s exactly the situation you want to avoid with your interviewees.

Finally, If you conduct your interview in a professional manner from beginning to end and the turn out a well-written article that provides your interviewees with some promotion you may build a worthwhile business relationship.  If you don’t conduct your interview professionally, well…you won’t.

What do you do if you find yourself in my position – with one or more interviews under your belt but behind schedule to meet the date you’ve given your interviewees, or even worse the finish date you’ve given them already passed?  Do what I did.  Be sincere, and apologetic.  Remember, they are doing you a favor and their time is precious.  I sent an e-mail to the person I interviewed explaining that I fully expected o be finished by now but it;s taken longer than expected to complete the interview process for my article.  I let her know I was still moving forward with the piece and would notify as soon as I was finished.

It’s a lot easier said than done.  But to avoid this situation altogether try taking these steps:

  • Do your research and compile a list of possible interviewees.
  • Write out a list of juicy questions considering what kind of quotes you’d like to include in your article.  You may even want to consider slighly varrying the questions for each person on your list.
  • Consider how many interviews you think you’ll need and then add a few, just in case some decline.  (as a general rule interviewing 1 person only works if it’s an article about that person)
  • Create your outline and write as much of the article as possible before hand so you can insert quotes in some places.  You can probably get your introduction written if nothing else.  Getting started can be the hardest part.

Phase 1 Step 3

In Step-by-Step on October 16, 2009 at 11:06 pm

This is the third installment of my “Step-by-Step” series.  I hope you’re all enjoying it.  A quick recap: phase one is the research phase.  Step 1 was researching the freelancing industry to figure out if it’s a good fit for you.  Step 2 was examining your interests to figure out what you would write.

Step 3 is figuring out where your writing will go.

Most books on freelancing touch on this topic, since there would be no writing career without this step.  A book I make reference to very frequently, The Writer Mama by Christina Katz, suggests examining what you read both as a means of generating ideas of what to write and place you might possibly submit some of your material.  This is just to give you an idea – if you love reading Entertainment Weekly perhaps you should set your sites on an entertainment publication, and so on.  (Note: If you’re still in the beginning stages of your career it’s a bit early to submit to national publications, they usually publish only established writers)

Most resources for beginning writers recommend not being afraid to work for free to get your first clips.  Try local businesses and organizations, they may have a newsletter you can write on.  In this case, just call.  The worst they can do is say no.  That first call is the hardest, I promise.  After that you get more and more comfortable calling offices and making inquiries.

Free local papers are also a good place to go fishing for assignments.  There’s usually a contact number in the front of the paper.  Call, introduce yourself, and ask if they accept submissions from freelance writers.  If so who should you submit to?  Do they prefer snail mail or e-mail?  Do they accept full manuscripts or do they prefer a formal query at first?  And last but not least – do they have an editorial calendar and writers’ guidelines and where can you find them?  (Note: Editorial calendars outline the theme for each month’s issue that year.  Writers’ guidelines specify anything and everything editors want you to know before submitting anything to them.  Not all publications will have these things, but it’s worth it to ask.  You’d have a huge advantage if they do offer these materials.)   

For finding places that may accept your work I’d suggest 3 things: the internet of course and a good old-fashioned Google search (using the example above you’d type “entertainment publications”), The Writer’s Market, and FundsforWriters.com (you can sign up for newsletters that have some great opportunities).   

If you’re reading this and looking for a place to submit your work I produce a web zine called Balancing Act and welcome submissions from new writers!

I would love to know how helpful you found this post!  If you learned anything new or simply want to share your own search for freelance success, I’d love to hear from you!

Phase 1 Step 2

In Step-by-Step on September 23, 2009 at 2:44 am

Last week I began a series I call Step-by-Step, with the post One step at a timeThis week I’ll be breaking down the steps even further, into steps and phases.  Phase 1 is the research phase. 

In step 1 I suggested thouroughly researching the freelance writing industry before deciding the take the plunge.  This week I’m talking about what comes next.

What will you write?

So you have decided that writing is right for you.  Now you have to decide what you will write.  This step may be easy for you if you have already begun writing.

For me it was a more enlightening experience than I expected.  I thought I knew what kind of writing I wanted to do.   Mama Writer by Christina Katz (also listed on my recommended reading page) has some excellent exercise for finding your interests, and “best bet” audiences.

First, try taking a good look at what you read.  Do you enjoy reading magazines, or mostly books?  What kind of magazines?  What kind of magazines?  List your top reads.  You may begin to see some patterns emerging.  There’s a good chance that this could be the type of writing you could be doing.

Next, examine your roles & pick your top 4.  Mine are Christian, wife, mother, writer.   Use your instincts with this exercise!  Now your going to draw a circle and divide it into 4 quarters labeled with your top 4 roles or “keywords”.  On this pie chart you’re going to descibe these keywords even more specifically.  For example, you may describe yourself as a creative mother.  or perhaps a theatre mom.

After you’ve completed these two exercises you should have a general idea of what kind of people you’d relate to best and thus what your best “target audiences” are.  Of course you don’t have to be married to this forever.  Interests change and people grow.  The point is to help you figure out where to start.  You want to begin where you’d be most comfortable, and where you have the best chances of success.

FREE Writing Class for Women

In Uncategorized on September 22, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Valued readers!  I have a treat for you today.  If you’re visiting this blog it’s likely that you have an interest in writing.  So – to help all you writers out there I will be offering a free writing classes for women writers through my organization Mommy Writers.  Yes…F-R-E-E.

Why will I be doing all this?  I’m glad you asked!  I have been wanting to take some writing classes for some time now.  But have not been able.  Either they’re way too expensive, or I can’t bring my son.  Both big deciding factors for me.  The way I see it, the writers that need classes the most probably can’t afford to pay for them.  And if you’re a writer making enough to afford the classes you probably don’t need them.  That’s why I decided to offer these classes for people like me.

In lieu of writing classes I buy writing reference books, and lots of them.  But when I read all this information and try to put it into practice I find that the books never talk back to me.  They can never tell me how well they think I implemented the lessons on the pages.  I needed FEEDBACK.  I need other writers.  And I’m sure there are others who can relate.

  For more information you can visit the “free classes” link above or visit Mommy Writers online.

Think toward the future!

In Getting started, Writer Challenges on September 1, 2009 at 2:36 am

  When you think of a business plan you might think of corporate businesses and chains….not your freelancing career.  But the truth of the matter is a business plan is a very important tool for a freelancer writer.  The difference between the business plan for company vs. your business plan as a freelance writer is that your business plan is meant for your eyes only (unless you opt t share with others).  You’re business plan doesn’t have to win over a loan officer or anyone else for that matter.

  BUT, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put some time and thought into it.  The purpose behind this exercise is to  get you thinking & give you some direction.  With your goals in mind you can work more efficiently than if you don’t really know what you’re trying to accomplish.

  How do you go about writing this business plan?  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.  You can type it, or write it if you feel more comfortable.  You can use a time line, or just some “finish line goals”.  Basically whatever format you can dream up for your business plan that’s how you do it. 

  I wrote my initial business plan over a year ago when I first began my research into the freelance writing industry.  It had undergone lots of changes since then and that’s okay to.  Don’t be afraid to make changes to your business plan.  As long as you have a plan.  Here’s what mine looks like right now:

“Finish Line” Goals:

  • Successful parenting website/blog
  • good following for my blog(s)
  • published books
  • Mommy Writers (large following, conferences, seminars, etc)
  • Trade Magazine
  • syndicated column
  • at least 2 assignments per month
  • at least 3 monthly newsletter assignments

Taking the Plunge

In Getting started on August 22, 2009 at 2:26 am

  Do you want to write for a living?  Do you want your words in print?  Are you trying to get your story published?  Do you want to make  a more than decent living doing all of the above and then some?  Join the club.  So do I, and so do hundred or thousands, maybe even millions of others.  So how do you compete?  That is the million dollar question.  If you have the answer please let me know.

  What I hope to accomplish in this blog, by sharing my successes and failures in the freelancing industry, is helping others advance their writing careers by avoiding some of my mistakes and taking some of my advice.  

  I’ve known since high school that I wanted a career writing.  But it wasn’t until about a month ago that I really started to do something about it.  I had read all the books on freelancing, but I hadn’t sent out a single query or gotten one byline since high school.  I had my work cut out for me.

  What was my first step?  I decided I needed a writing community to help me stay motivated.  I couldn’t find a community for writing mothers.  I started my own (Mommy Writers).  I figured I would be able to benefit from the experience of other writers and take advantage of the networking opportunities while supporting each other.

  What will be your first step?  Have you long toyed with the idea of a writing career but done nothing to make it happen?  Maybe your first step should be meeting other writers, pick their brains.  You’d be amazed what opportunities you might stumble upon, and how encouraging it can be just to talk to someone who’s been where you are and succeeded.   

 

For more information on Mommy Writers visit us online.