Thursday, July 31, 2008

Check out this great idea - I'm totally stealing it!

When I'm out there shopping for back-to-school supplies (and school starts on 8/18 here!), I'm picking up a white board with sticky things on the back.

It's going on my office door, and on it, I'll write:

Triumph Communications is...

and then fill in the blank with "open" or "closed" depending on the time of day.

It'll help everyone in my household live a little longer, I think. These precious people have no idea whether the faraway look in my eyes is me trying to grasp an elusive headline for a client's copy, or me wondering whether I remembered to thaw out something for dinner. No wonder they interrupt! This way, if they see that my office is open, they'll understand someone better be bleeding (and I'm not talking a drop or two... it better be a gusher) if they come in. : )

PLUS, when the sign says "closed" it'll be my reminder to go get a life!! : )

The Coffee-Stained Writer: Watching the Clock: When to Ignore Your Writing Schedule

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Buddy System for freelance writers: Part 2

Here's the other pro you should know...

Web designers - and I've mentioned this before - make for excellent project partners. They tend to need writers even more than graphics people do! Might be that their brains are wired differently - they get all the technical specs, programming stuff, and can make sense of codes that essentially read like: 00100111001 (my apologies if I've just typed some sort of obscenity in code!)

So when they meet with a client about designing a website, and it comes down to putting words on the virtual page, the LAST thing they want to hear is, "Oh, just write something. It'll be fine."

That's when they're most likely to suggest that the client hire you to do the writing... if they know about you!

In talking with web people about working together, you'll want to discuss your SEO skills and knowledge and your understanding of writing for the web. Basically, you've got about 3 seconds to grab your readers' attention. Web readers tend to skim, scan, and scroll through pages - your job as a writer is to draw them in so they'll read more, and read enough to find themselves compelled to take action (clicking, calling, whatever).

Again, usually, you'll work with the web designer directly rather than with the client (although it could go either way).

How do you find web people to work with? See yesterday's post!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm STEAMED! But also up for another freelance writing challenge

Making the rounds today, and popped in to see what was shaking on Guru, and found out....

The sky is falling!!!! The sky is falling!!!

OK, so not really, but sort of.

They've got a little announcement up there that felt like a punch in the gut (for a few minutes, at least).

The Guru ranking system is getting a major makeover that's effective January 2009. There's a LOT of text to wade through to understand the ins and outs of the new system, the reasons for the change, and what you need to do in light of the change.

But all I could see was this:

Your current rank: 1
Your new rank: 89

Weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth.... I've worked so hard; it's not fair; waah waah waah (how do you spell that?) --- hey, I went victim, I had my 7 minutes of whining, and now I'm done.

I've sent a little note to Guru's powers that be asking for some clarification on improving the "new" rank, and will let you know what I hear.

As ever, I still think it's the best site out there for finding writing gigs - a wonderful way to get your writing business started. Before, the formula for getting a high ranking was (in a nutshell): bid consistently, do a great job, repeat.

Now I'm up for the challenge of moving my new rank up in ranks, too. Er... once I figure out the new system!

Out of curiosity... what's your current and new rank? (I'm guessing that for some, the new system may be a good thing...)

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Buddy System for freelance writers - Part 1

Peter Bowerman does it. So do a bunch of other successful freelance writers. That alone makes this Buddy System worth a look.

Maybe I've got summer camp on the brain - remember, you'd all hike down to the lake, pair up, and jump in. Anytime the lifeguard blew the whistle, you had to find your buddy, hold hands and show that everyone was accounted for. Then usually after swimming, everyone had to line up and get some sort of drops in their ears because who knows what was in that lake??

OK, this Buddy System really bears no resemblance to that one after all.

What I'm talking about today is working with other pros who serve the same client base you do. Today, we're looking at working with graphics people.

They create all the pretty pictures to help a client with branding. Letterhead, business cards, brochures, and direct mail pieces for offline use - and website headers and email templates for online use. Just like when you see the Coke logo, or the Nike swoosh, you know exactly what you're getting; consistent branding is a huge part of a company's marketing strategy.

Lots of huge companies have in-house designers and copywriters. But you'd be surprised how many outsource these jobs. And you'd be really surprised by some of the big names out there that use freelancers! I've signed NDAs, so you won't hear any names from me - but let's just say, you've heard of them.

Here's what happens: A client goes to a designer with a project. They talk look, layout, logo... all that. And then often, the client says something like, "Oh, just write something." The designer thinks, "OH NOOOOO!!!!" and then, if you've done a good job networking, the designer calls YOU! They're relieved because, frankly, if they wanted to write for clients, they'd be freelance writers. The client's happy because they get gorgeous graphics AND great copy. You're happy because you get a steady stream of work, and the fun of working with a partner on a project.

So, how do you find designers? A few different ways:

  1. Networking events. Have a conversation, ask if you can help. Ask for a card - because you'll probably run into writing clients who also need graphics help and you can pass the info along.
  2. Make some calls. Not my favorite (sorry Peter!) but it definitely gets easier the more calls you make. Just introduce yourself and ask if you could send your info along.
  3. Do a direct mail piece and send it to some designers. You could get really creative with this. I'm picturing a horrible postcard (crooked, cropped badly, etc.) with text that reads something like: "Writers should never design graphics!" on the front and "You probably feel that way about writing - we should work together!"
Typically, the designers I work with ask for an estimate for my part. They add it to their estimate and present it to their client. I don't usually have contact with the client - although sometimes I do. And the designer pays me as we reach different project milestones. You could do the whole process the other way around if you provided graphics for your clients.

Ever work with a designer? How'd you find the gig? How did it work out for you?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Here's a brilliant way you could promote your freelance writing business

We've talked before about writing for free.

To sum up the discussion:

Writing for free by accident... very bad.
Writing for free on purpose... could be brilliant.

Here's an example of a very cool way you could promote your freelance writing business. Everyone likes to win a contest, after all. And you could do just like this firm and create some press releases about the whole process.

What do YOU think? Would you ever try this?

The WordSlingers to Offer One Free Month of Business Writing Services

Saturday, July 26, 2008

So, How’s YOUR Book Coming Along?

“Huh? I’m not writing a book,” you say, “at least not my own, anyway.”

Well, why on earth not? What, are you afraid of a little writing? Think you can’t go the distance?

OK, that’s probably enough taunting to get your feathers ruffled a little. But seriously, it’s been said that everyone’s got a book in them just waiting to be written. And as a freelance writer, who better to draw your book out than you?

Let’s be really clear here: we’re not talking about reverting to the old misconception that keeps many potential freelancers out of the game – that the only way to get paid to write is to write a best-selling novel. We’re assuming you’ve pushed past that limiting belief, and that you realize the earnings potential available as a pen for hire.

Instead, let’s talk about five great reasons for working on your own book:

  1. You can share your expertise – and everyone’s an expert in some area. Think your expertise lies only in an area nobody would even care about? Guess again! Whether it’s cleaning (check out Fly Lady’s success), knitting (check out Jill Eaton and a hundred others), or even cooking on the grill (Bobby Flay) – there are hugely successful gurus out there writing and selling books.
  2. You can grow your client base. What’s your writing specialty? Write a mean SEO article? Why not write a little book about your method? You could give it away to clients or prospects.
  3. You can build an info marketing empire. Create an assortment of info products at various price points – from a free report up to a full book or course. It takes time, and some work, of course. But as I’ve said a thousand times before, info marketing is a freelance writer’s retirement plan.
  4. You can leave a legacy. Even if you never market your book, there are people who’ll consider it priceless. Write your memoir. Write a cookbook. Write a devotional. Write a family history. Both of my grandfathers wrote memoirs, and I value these books immensely. One is still alive (at 91 and counting!), but the other is gone. Having their words is precious to me. Do the same, and someone’s going to feel the same about your work someday.
  5. You can pursue your dream. Alright, so I lied – there’s still that thing about writing a best-seller! But you know what? Books aren’t usually written overnight, and if you want to do this someday, you might as well start now and do a bit every day. Just don’t neglect your paying gigs.

The best way to get your book done is the same as the best way to eat an elephant – one bite at a time. Schedule some time every day to chip away at this mammoth task. Set the timer and work without interruption. You’ll be amazed by how quickly your book takes shape.

Friday, July 25, 2008

"Mythbusters" for the freelance writer


True or False... web copywriting and SEO copywriting are the same thing.

Check out this article for an excellent guide to the terms we (and our clients) throw around!

Web copywriting: setting the record straight

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What to do when you get too swamped

About six months into my writing business, I said to myself, "Hey, knucklehead - you can write and write and write... and never run out of work. But you'll give up having a life. Something's got to change."

So I asked my business coach, Robin what I should do.

Lightbulb moment of the decade: build a team of writers!

So I did.

But, as I often do, I went about finding those writers the hard way.

If you find yourself reaching the point where you've got more work than you can handle (and it WILL happen!), here's how one firm handled it:

The Writing Bloc Hiring New Writers | Freelance Writing Jobs

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Here's a niche for you: blogging!

Internet marketers of all stripes are catching on...

Blogging CAN be a very time-consuming process, and one (if you can't write) that's even less pleasant than waiting for a small child to choose a treasure from the dentist office's goodie box.

What are they doing with this realization? Hiring freelance writers to blog for them. Now, of course when blogs first came out, there were lots that I'd classify as vanity publishing.

- What I ate for breakfast (snuck a chocolate chip bagel with cream cheese instead of my usual protein shake)
- What my dog is doing right now (sleeping, of course)
- Favorite songs (just downloaded the soundtrack from 50 First Dates)
... that kind of thing.

And that kind of blogging would be pretty hard to outsource.

Now, of course, it's a whole new ballgame. Blogs are an integral component of a successful online marketing campaign. But they're still a lot of work! That's good news for freelance writers - if you can get good at creating posts that get read!

Here's a little guide I found, and thought I'd pass on to you:

Nine Signs of an Effective Blog Post

Monday, July 21, 2008

TechRadar is looking for freelance writers | Editor's Blog | TechRadar UK

Hey, it's not for me... because as I've mentioned, I can't even program my VCR (and yes, it's a VCR!).

But, if you're into tech, this might be a dream gig!

TechRadar is looking for freelance writers | Editor's Blog | TechRadar UK

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Here's what has to say about freelance writing

First, and now seeing a trend here?

Soon we may not even have to explain what a freelance commercial writer is!

Be sure to read the comments here, too. Hope mine wasn't too harsh - I just hate to read pieces that make this seem like a precarious, "you'll be lucky to bring home $30k a year" proposition.

A Freelancer's Survival Guide -

Friday, July 18, 2008

Freelance writing on

Wow! Well, a few days ago I wrote about how one day freelance writing might make the list of coolest jobs out there.

This is pretty close, getting on - right?

In my humble opinion (yeah, right!), companies that balk at hiring freelance writers are stuck in the rut called "but we've never done that before!"

Among the myriad benefits to our corporate clients:

- You don't have to pay employment taxes when you hire us
- You don't have to pay for benefits for us - no sick days, no vacation, no personal days, no holidays
- We don't take up space
- We don't use your equipment
- We don't get involved in your office politics - no drama!
- If you don't need us, you don't pay for us

Shall I go on? Freelance writers are the ideal faux-employee!

Work from home in your pajamas -

Looking for some creative blog writing tips?

Whether you're getting into blogging for yourself, for your clients, or as a hired gun, it's a specialty with a learning curve all its own.

Here's a great resource for creative blog writing tips that'll help you become a pro in no time at all!

I'm seeing more and more clients looking for someone to blog for them. They realize that blogging is a great way to drive traffic to their websites... if they keep it fresh! They also realize that keeping it fresh takes time and effort. Imagine how happy they are if they can pass this little torch along to someone else and concentrate on other parts of their business!

So.... what do you charge as a Blogger for Hire???

Thursday, July 17, 2008

C'mon, making a video isn't really that hard!

OK, I'm getting kind of addicted.

The Marketing Do Over contest got me hooked, and now I'm seeing video opps everywhere.

(Hey, if you haven't voted for me yet, PLEEEEEEASE do! Think of it as a vote for freelance writers everywhere. Plus, if I win, what kind of amazing info do you think I'll be passing along to you??!!)

Anyway... I'd never made a video in my life - unless you count the cheesy one we have of our wedding!

But I found this free site where you can put videos together - and it was really pretty easy: Yeah, you can lose hours and days in there, so be careful. But just think of all the ways you could use video to grow your freelance writing business.

  • Add video to your website
  • Create a video podcast (is that the right term?)
  • Add video to your Guru profile
  • Add video to your Squidoo lens
Or go way out on the limb and try something like this.

First watch this:

And then, because chances are that if you're here, you're already subscribed to the WWHW newsletter, here's the link for the report:

OK, this is just an example of something you could do to promote your own business. Will this work? Who knows?? But the MDO folks kind of planted the seed in my mind, and I had to give it a shot. You can read the MDO blog after you vote for me. Look for the post about the 5 second video something or another... I basically copied their idea - you'll see!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why is freelance writing recession-proof?

I’m no economist, but I’ll take a stab at a few quick reasons – and if you’re still questioning whether there’s money to be made as a freelance writer, listen up!

  1. Smart business owners don’t ease up on their marketing during a downturn. They do the opposite. They ramp it up, getting the word out more powerfully and creatively than ever before. They try new venues they’ve never even considered. And guess who they need to hire to help them? Bingo!

  2. Freelance writers aren’t constrained by the local economy. Somewhere in the world, people are spending – might not be in your city, or even your country, so you need a way to find them. And guess what? There’s something about exchange rates, too, that seems to give us a little advantage. My international clients rarely balk at the same fees that sometimes make the domestic ones wince. Ka-ching!

  3. Little or no overhead. From the writer’s point of view, gas prices become practically irrelevant – at least as far as operating expenses go. Unless you’ve got office space somewhere (and we all crave that from time to time!), you don’t have to pay rent. We don’t even pay much for office equipment and supplies. If you’ve got a computer and internet access, you’re pretty well set. I don’t even remember the last time I had to print something out!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Do you do grant writing?

Wow, I wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard that question!

I've even read up a little bit on grant writing. To be honest, it seems like a cross between doing your taxes (but less painful) and writing an essay. Everyone I've talked with who does grant writing says it's not hard - it's just 'different' (whatever that means!).

Here are a few of the books I've checked out on grant writing.

Any of you out there who do it - let us know what you think.

Grant writer brings in the cash | | Poughkeepsie Journal

Friday, July 11, 2008

Live in or near Rochester, NY?

Then you'll want to check this out!

It's a seminar that'll give you a strong working knowledge about working with newsletters. If you have internet marketers for clients, you know this is a HUGE service to be able to provide for them!

If you're looking to become an info marketer, you'll need to learn this, too!

Newsletter seminar on July 17 | | Democrat and Chronicle

Are you taking a day of rest?

Ever hit the wall?

You know what I mean. You're writing, writing, writing... and then comes a day when you can't even imagine powering up the laptop - much less writing a single word.

When that happens and you're on assignment... that's hitting the wall.

When that happens and it's your day of rest, you've done a good thing for yourself.

Look, we're not digging ditches, harvesting crops, or operating heavy equipment - in fact, it's easy to get completely flabby just sitting and typing. So why do we need a day of rest?

First of all, it's how we were designed. Want proof? Talk to my hubby! (He's in the middle of writing a book that answers questions like this.) OK, so you don't know him - and I'll have to fill in! For those who've read the Bible, you know God commanded a day of rest for people. Is He a big meanie in the sky, wanting you to be bored out of your mind for a day? Or, like we all felt about our fourth or fifth grade teacher - assigning random, pointless duties we had to fulfill? No way! In fact, as a general rule, we can look at stuff like this in the Bible from a different perspective: God wanting us to relate with him, looking out for us, and setting us up for a win.

I'm not the theologian in the family, but I'll give you a practical example:

Know how when you've got something that's stumping you? Really perplexing? What happens when you "sleep on it"? Usually, you wake up with a solution or two. What happened? You disengaged. You rested, and had your mind refreshed and renewed.

A day off - REGULARLY scheduled - will do wonders for you. And not just for your creative thinking. Also, just in making you feel like a human being again, rather than a copy-producing machine. Time off allows you to dream, to rest, to take notice of what's around you, to relate to the people you love (without 'billable hours' on your mind), to pay attention to the wonderful gifts you've been given.

Here's a great little article about this same question - Can a writer write seven days a week?
Freelance Writers work seven Days a Week | Freelance Writing

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The bonus (er, bribe!) from 7/10's newsletter

Thanks for voting for my video in the MarketingDoOver contest! I'll be sure to pass along lots of tips and tricks if I win!

And to help me thank you for your vote, here's.....

Project #8 for freelance writers with some unscheduled downtime.

Learn how to build websites.

This is a skill every freelance writer should pick up. It’s not that hard (heck, if I can do it, anyone can do it!), and it will come in very handy, very soon.

There are lots of programs out there, I’m sure. The one I use is XSite Pro. What I like about it is that it’s very intuitive. It works like lots of other programs I’ve used. You don’t have to know html at all, either, because it’s a WYSIWYG deal. If you can send an email, you can build a site.

HOWEVER, you really, really should do the tutorial before you get rolling. Even if you think you don’t need to. It only takes about an hour, and you’re building a real site as you learn.

Why is this a good use of your downtime?

Lots of reasons:

  1. It’s another service you can offer your clients. It’s especially attractive to internet marketers who are just starting out. If you can build the site AND write the content, you’re the hero!

  2. It’s not hard – it just takes some time to learn. And if you’re swamped with other projects, chances are that you’re not going to want to take the time to learn website building.

  3. There will come a time when it dawns on you, “Hey! I could use my writing skills for my own benefit!” If you get into information marketing, you can produce your own products, press releases, articles, and sales copy. You won’t want to pay someone else hundreds or thousands of dollars to build a site for you. If you learn how to build sites for yourself, it’s the proverbial “teach a man to fish” deal – you’ll be able to create all kinds of income streams.

Hey, if you want to read the others on the list, subscribe! I'll get it out to you along with your copy of the free report "Top 5 Tactics to Boost Your Writing Business" - but you'll only get this edition of the newsletter if you sign up before 7/17.

Ever hear this come out of YOUR mouth?

"I can't..." "I'll try..." "Yeah, but..."

Famous last words of someone giving up! Maybe not permanently, but at least for the moment.

When you hear these words coming out of your own mouth, you may want to take a look at what's going on in your heart about your writing business. Are you afraid to fail? Are you afraid you'll actually succeed? Why are you driving with your foot slightly on the brake?

Building a thriving writing business isn't rocket science --- but it can feel like running an Iron Man Triathlon in some ways, and for sure, it requires consistent forward movement... ACTION.

We'll take a look at how we hold ourselves back during the WWHW Mastermind Group starting in August.

Here's a good article by Suzanne on the same topic:

Becoming a Freelance Writer - The Dog Ate My Homework | Working Writer's Coach - Writing Coach for the Freelance Writer

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Duke it out! Fighting words over Guru?

Bidding sites. Some writers despise them - others love them. (I'm in the second group.)

What has your experience been on these sites? And which sites have you tried?

Chris and I agree on this: these sites should not make up your entire client base. Read on!

Freelance Bidding Sites | Freelance Writing

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How to turn down work... nicely

"Um, I can't go... I'm washing my cat that evening."

Ever heard that one? Ever used that one?

It's the kind of excuse some people keep handy in their hip pockets to use just in case they get asked out by someone... undesirable. It's a completely lame way to avoid a confrontation, to avoid hurting someone's feelings.

One day... maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but sooner than later...

You're going to want to turn down a writing gig. Maybe the client's unpleasant. Maybe the fee is too small. Maybe it's in a field you despise. Whatever the reason, you'll want to have something you can say as you say, "No thanks."

Here's a great little resource:

Sample Phrases to Politely Turn Down New Projects

Monday, July 7, 2008

Are you winning every bid you place? Big mistake

Ka-ching! Ka-ching!

Is that what you hear every time you're awarded another freelance writing project?

Or, do you hear "Weh weh weh weh wehhhhhhhh" (the losing sound)

It might seem like it's time to celebrate if you're getting nearly every job you bid on. But the truth is, if you are... you're probably leaving a lot of money on the table.

If you can't remember the last time a prospect asked you to lower your fee, you may not be charging enough.

So rather than throw a party... take a good hard look at your pricing structure. It may be time for an overhaul.

Friday, July 4, 2008

I need votes - and lots of 'em!

I just registered on MarketingDoOver for their brand new video contest and I need some votes!

I would really appreciate it if you could just take a couple of minutes to register on the site and then vote on my video submission. (People have to register to vote so that no one can cheat. Darn! :)

My link is:

Thanks so much for your help and your vote!

The contest ends on July 14, 2008, so hurry!

Go to:

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Are you techie? Want to write about gadgets?

OK, for some reason now I've got the theme song from "Inspector Gadget" stuck in my head. Talk about the power of suggestion! My family tortures each other by implanting annoying songs in each others' heads. My hubby's the worst of all! You wouldn't believe how many cheesy old disco songs he's left me with when he goes off to work.

Where was I?

Oh yes! Anyhow. Gadgets. If you're into doodads and gizmos, you might be able to get paid to write about them. Does this count as tech writing? Probably not, but it might be a good way to get into it. If nothing else, you can write about something you love... and get paid for it.

Want to write for Engadget? - Engadget

The "Disobedient Client"

NOTE: This is a continuation of Clients from the Pit: Top Signs You Should Run... And Fast - from the WWHW newsletter, Write Happy! If you're not subscribed, you're missing out!

OK, the title for that client’s tongue-in-cheek, but you’ll understand.

We all have different ways that we best absorb information. For some, if they hear something, it’s burned into their brains forever. Others (like me) need to see information.

Tell me something, and I’m going to try to remember – but you take your chances.

I always ask clients to email me with details. If I’ve got to take notes as you speak, I’m missing something. If I don’t take notes, I can’t depend on my memory serving it up a week from now – intact.

Yes, of course, I aim to please – but short of having our phone call transcribed, I’m not sure how to accommodate the client who won’t just email.

How do YOU prefer to communicate with your clients?

Hey, if you want to read the others on the list, subscribe! I'll get it out to you along with your copy of the free report "Top 5 Tactics to Boost Your Writing Business" - but you'll only get this edition of the newsletter if you sign up before 7/10.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 2,000,000,000...

Ever feel like you're playing that kind of guessing game?

Or how about his one:

"I've got a picture in my head.... can you paint it?"

This is exactly the feeling you might get if you get a gig writing a book for a client (or really any kind of project) without enough direction. How on earth will you ever know whether you've delivered what they had in mind if they don't tell you what they want in the first place?

Just imagine delivering a 100+ page book you've just ghostwritten for your client. They skim through and come back with an overwhelming "Eh.....?" Not quite the feedback you'd hoped for.

There's a really easy way to make sure you're covering exactly what your client wants you to cover - require a Table of Contents before the project gets underway. It's best if the client provides it, because you know you're getting the full picture of what's expected. But you can also add the TOC in as a deliverable at the beginning of the project, and write it yourself.

After you've submitted the TOC, NOW is the time to make any adjustments in the rough outline of what'll be covered. Not after you're done writing.

Make sure you're on the same page... before you ever write a single page.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Take care of your computer... or it may kill you!

Well, not directly. And it wouldn't leave any marks, I'm sure. But you can't tell me that if you all of a sudden got that "blue screen of death" you wouldn't have a heart attack, stroke, or some combination of the two.

There are ways to avoid disaster, though, and here's a link to a great post by Colin about what, specifically, you should do daily, weekly, monthly to keep your computer in good shape. As much time as we freelance writers spend on our computers, it's kind of like taking care of a pet! (but less fur, and no poop)

PC Vitals for Every Freelance Writer

Also, a wonderful, free way to do off-site backups of all your files. You can set it to do its thing automatically every day, which is beautiful - anything that you don't have to remember to do saves more brain cells for stuff you want to do!

Diino 2 GB free