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532604863If you’re thinking about becoming a freelance writer, these steps can help you realize your dream.

  1. Write Well

Some people like the concept of writing without enjoying the actual craft. If you don’t have much experience writing, you might want to take a course. You should also have in mind whether you want to freelance for fun, for extra money, or as a career.

  1. Communicate Confidently

In order to be a freelance writer, you will often need to advocate for yourself in order to gain work and clients. This involves looking for opportunities, following up on emails and sometimes meeting with potential clients.

  1. Be Able to “Just Do It”

You will sometimes find yourself having to meet a deadline for a topic that doesn’t much interest you. In these moments, you’ll need to be able to set goals for yourself. It can also be helpful to use your own writing projects as a reward.

  1. Be Comfortable Alone and With Others

In order to be a freelance writer, you’ll have to enjoy your own company. You’ll also want to be able to motivate yourself to get out of the house and socialize. You can work in a coffee shop, or just meet up with people for pleasant conversation.

  1. Have Self-Discipline

You’ll need to be able to have the self-discipline both to generate your own income and to allocate it properly to your financial needs. You will also need good organizational skills in order to manage your work, deadlines, queries and documents.

  1. Ease into It

You don’t have to become a freelance writer in one fell swoop. Instead, you can begin working on it while still doing your day job. As you gain clients and assignments, you can slowly transition into freelancing full time…if that’s your desire.

  1. Be Part of the Writing Community

It’s important to network with others. You can find associations or meet-ups, attend conferences or become part of organizations. These connections will help sustain you and help you hone your craft.

  1. Narrow Your Focus

You can do magazine writing, novels, ghostwriting and marketing just to name a few.

  1. Reach Out

Find magazines on topics you’re interested in, and click on their submission page. Research query letters, and follow up on a query after two weeks. You can also find opportunities through job sites like Indeed.com and Craigslist.

  1. Write

Once you’ve landed a gig, or if you’re sending an article or story you’re hoping will get picked up, it’ll be time to sit down and write.

  1. Build Your Craft

Keep improving, looking for better opportunities, and building connections with the professional contacts you’ve made in the industry.

The most important step to becoming a freelance writer is to begin the journey. As the popular adage goes, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

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86487362Writer’s block—the dreaded phrase. What do you do when your mind is blank, when you have no words or thoughts to put on the page? This is a paralyzing and incredibly frustrating experience for many writers. But while it may feel impossible, there are many things you can do (and many things you shouldn’t do) to overcome this paralysis. Here are a few of them.

What You Should Do

  • Do something active—being physically active will get your heart pumping and your thoughts flowing.
  • Change your environment. If you’re working at home, move to a different room, or get out of the house and go to your favorite coffee shop. Reconsider your writing space—are you writing in a space that encourages creativity and productivity? If not, rearrange or relocate.
  • Listen to music.
  • Brew a pot of coffee.
  • Play—do something fun and creative: grab your favorite coloring book or paint a picture.
  • Find joy in your writing. Remembering why you started writing in the first place can provide encouragement and renewed motivation.
  • Talk to a friend.
  • Think of your writing as a job, not a hobby.
  • Do a few writing exercises.
  • Read some inspiring quotes.
  • Read a book.
  • Brainstorm ideas using bullet points.
  • Work on multiple projects simultaneously. This can maintain variety in your writing and stave off boredom, often preventing the onset of writer’s block.
  • Create a writing schedule and stick to it. Designate certain writing hours, or a certain word limit, for each day. Even if you feel writer’s block creeping in, keep writing until you’ve filled your scheduled time or reached your word count.
  • Don’t be overly critical. Criticism might be essential to editing, but it is detrimental to writing.
  • Take time off. If you’ve just completed a project, don’t rush into the next one. Idleness and relaxation are key to the creative process—give yourself some time to be creative and generate new ideas in a pressure-free environment.
  • Set and keep deadlines. This can be a challenge, especially for writers who are working for themselves. Accountability can be a great motivator—share your deadlines with a friend and ask them to hold you accountable to keeping them.
  • Examine issues behind writer’s block. Writer’s block is often caused by fear and anxiety, and examining the underlying issues can help you to work through it and prevent it in the future.

What You Should Not Do

  • Procrastinate
  • Wallow in self pity
  • Refuse to write anything (whatever you do, keep writing)

At the end of the day, there is only one guaranteed solution to end writer’s block: start writing. Write something, write anything. Just put a few words on the page. Write for the joy of writing—write because writing is what you do. Write, and you will defeat this paralysis called writer’s block.

Remember to check back with us for future posts and insights into the digital world.

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For some reason, the though of writing corporate blogs in the paid-writing world is often scoffed at, or considered “below my pay-grade” by some writers. This is shocking to us, as corporate blog writing is actually one of the better writing jobs out there. There are, however, some stresses and issues that come along with writing for a corporate blog, but overall corporate blog writing is an easy, lucrative, and quick freelance job that more writers should consider accepting.

The Reality of Corporate Blog Writing

The reality of this work is that there are still quite a few corporations and businesses out there that do not understand the importance of quality content on their own blogs. You will easily recognize these as the blogs that have sat without a new post for two years, or only posts about the few company announcements they have every year. It could be beneficial to you to try and pitch to these companies and try and contract a timeframe worth of monthly or weekly blogs to be written and placed. Having new and unique content placed often will help the company’s blogs to get more traffic, and will help Google to index the site and blog more often, which could lead to better site rankings.

Blog Topics CAN Be Generalized

This is a tough one to explain to many companies that do not see the grand scope of their own company. Let’s use a fake example company that sells long-lasting vehicle wiper blades that do not wear out as quickly in the sun. The company may think that every one of their blog posts MUST be on long lasting wiper blades. While it is true that a post of this type is the most relevant to their company and product, you can only re-write that type of blog post so many times before the information becomes redundant and is diluting the worth of your blog. Instead, there are many ancillary topics that can be entertaining and informative around that topic. For example, the readers of the client blog and customers have already showed that they are interested in long lasting wiper blades, but a blog post on the site about any of the following would also be helpful and relevant:

  • The Latest in Sun-Resistant Materials
  • Car Safety Tips for Snow Season
  • Car Maintenance Tips For the New Year
  • Protecting Your Car From Rain Damage
  • Why The Sun Damages Car Parts
  • The Best Summer Road Trip Destinations and Ideas
  • 10 Most Common Car Repairs and How to Prevent Them

As you can see from the list above, by branching out, you can provide your readers and website viewers with so much more entertaining and informational blog posts than just the windshield wipers, while still staying relevant to the company and the product.

Getting Paid For Writing Corporate Blogs

This is going to be a sensitive subject with any corporate blog client, as business owners generally don’t want to pay for blog writing — or at least not pay what the writer SHOULD be getting paid. For this, there is no real easy answer. Try and sway the company owner or hiring manager’s opinion on the importance of having a quality and updated company blog (there are lots of references on the web that you can use for this). Show them the importance of an updated blog with quality content, and show them that you can provide this for them at an affordable rate. The actual rate itself is negotiable and can range from $10 per 350 word blog to $500 per 350 word blog; the rate will change depending on the industry the corporation is in (ex. if you are writing medical, financial, or engineering articles, you should expect a higher rate than general articles), and how in-depth the article should be.

One tip we will give for writing company blog articles is that we generally accept work at almost any price — within reason. No matter what the subject matter is, a 500 word article can be researched and written within a short amount of time, and the more of those small articles you write, the more quickly they add up to bigger numbers. With enough “small” clients and articles, you can easily make $500 – $1000 per week.

Dealing With Problem Clients

This will happen in every industry, but the creative industry tends to see more than its fair share of problem clients. With writing, that tends to be clients that refuse to give a fair rate for writing, or clients that continually want free re-writes and changes. With these clients, it is important to simply communicate with these clients. Remember that you have the upper hand, and you are the writer. If the number of requests become greater than the cost of your pay, ask for a higher rate or you will have to cap the number of changes and revisions allowed. If the client cannot budge on either, say your goodbyes and move on to accept a client that is willing to pay you a fair price for your hard work. Remember, this is business… you need to make money, just like your clients’ businesses need to make money.

At the end of the day, corporate blogging is fairly easy and can be lucrative as long as you have enough clients. Don’t over complicate it, and never settle for less than what your skills are worth.

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122486570Many writers run into financial trouble because their work yields comparatively little income or takes a long time to produce significant earnings. Various grants for writers can provide helpful assistance:

1. The Awesome Foundation offers a $1,000 award with a rather quick, easy application process. It does not have complex requirements or demand any control over writers’ projects.

2. Authors in Wyoming can apply for the Individual Artist Grant. The state’s Arts Council supplies this $500 payment. It is only available to people who write poetry, screenplays, scripts or prose.

3. The $4,000 Build Your Own Blog grant application just requires some basic personal information and a writing sample of at least 100 words. Any new writer can qualify after turning 16 years of age.

4. Bard College offers a Fiction Prize for published authors who remain 38 years old or younger. Recipients are expected to speak to college students at the campus.

5. The Artist Initiative Grant benefits poets who have lived in Minnesota for a minimum of six months. It awards payments as large as $10,000. Applicants must be at least 18 years old.

6. The Sustainable Arts Foundation provides $6,000 and $2,000 grants to writers who have children under 18. To apply, a person must supply a writing sample and answer some questions.

7. Rhode Island’s art council awards a maximum of $5,000. Authors must intend to read their work to an audience. Each year, there are usually two deadlines to apply for RISCA grants.

8. The Arts Council in England offers grants to poets and fiction writers. It allows recipients to use the payments for almost any purpose.

9. Any writer who lives in Kansas City may consider applying for the local Inspiration Grant. Awards range from as little as $250 to as much as $2,500, but it is easier to qualify for sub-$1,000 payments.

10. Writers in New York City can request financial assistance from the Table 4 Writers Foundation after reaching 21 years of age. The maximum award is $5,000.

This is only a relatively small sample of the grant opportunities available to authors. Please follow us to learn about additional ways for blogging and writing professionals to advance their careers.

87159158If you have difficulty finding interesting gifts for the wordsmiths you known, here are several gift ideas that are unique, fun, and thoughtful. Whether the writer is working on the great American novel, a screenplay that’s not about zombies or vampires, or the next viral blog post, these gifts are sure to please.

Note Taking Gifts for Writers

Some writers get inspiration and great ideas for stories while soaking in a warm bath or daydreaming under the shower head. Aqua Notes are waterproof notepads that are really handy in the bathroom.

Postcards are another way writers can make notes, summarize a story idea, write a short poem or flash fiction. Postcards from Penguin is a wonderful gift showcasing the covers of 100 Penguin paperback books over the years. Writers can use the postcards in a variety of ways, even mailing them to friends and family.

Gifts for Writers with Writer’s Block

To help treat writer’s block, there is Writer’s Remedy. This is a bottle filled with a variety of magnetic words that a writer can place on a refrigerator door or other metal surface and use for inspiration.

A similar option is a version of Scrabble that has magnetic tiles. With these magnetic tiles, writers can create their own words to get the right side of the brain working harder.

Games for Writers

For right brain stimulation, consider giving The Writer’s Toolbox. This toolkit offers exercises, prompts, and challenges to get the creative juices flowing.

Another game is Bananagrams. This anagram game is great for traveling because there isn’t a board. The idea is to create a crossword grid based on players’ words.

Awards Time

One fun way to celebrate the accomplishments of a writer is with a trophy. The Trophy Buffet lets you personalize a trophy for any writer. The writer can place the trophy on a bookshelf, desk or mantel.

With some imagination, and online research, you can find the perfect gifts for a writer.

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465167525Death and taxes are the only things in life that are inevitable. You can defer your tax, evade or avoid it, but sooner or later, you will pay it, one way or the other. Employees never have to worry about paying their taxes, just filing their returns. After all, the employer has the responsibility of computing and withholding income tax on behalf of the government. Self employed individuals who work as freelancers, however, have to calculate and pay their taxes. They also have to file their own returns.

Tax Tips for Freelance Writers

Freelancers normally earn an irregular monthly income. For instance, a freelancer may earn a substantial amount of money one month and fail to make any money the next. The annual income may also differ from one year to the next. For this reason, freelancers usually pay estimated tax every quarter. Tax is usually calculated using the applicable tax rate for the previous year.

It is important to note that if a freelancer did not make any money the previous year, they do not need to pay estimated tax. Similar, freelancers who owe less than $1,000 in taxes do not need to pay quarterlies. Estimated taxes are usually paid through form 1040-ES. Paying estimated tax helps taxpayers to avoid heavy penalties for late payment of income tax.

To avoid penalties, freelancers have to pay tax according to the rules outlined by the IRS. For instance, if last year you owed $4,000 in income tax, you should pay $1,000 every quarter. Any deficit or overpayment can be settled at the end of the financial year when filing returns. Overpayment can be claimed as refund, while any shortage can be bridged through cash payment to the tax authority.

If at the end of the financial year you would have paid 90% of your tax bill, your tax bill is less than $1,000, or you paid 110% of your tax bill if your adjusted gross income was over $150,000, you will not suffer any penalties. According to Your Digital Publishing Cheat Sheet, you should pay your quarterlies before April 15th, June 15th, September 15th and January 15th.

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EBooks are fast outpacing printed books. Almost every writer is running to join the eBook industry. After all, it is a lot cheaper to publish an eBook than a printed one but it is easy to make mistakes when you are publishing your eBook. Here are some common mistakes to avoid.

Proofing your own work – People are paying for your book so it better be top quality. Formatting, punctuation and all the small stuff matter a lot. It is helpful to hire someone to do the proofreading, editing and cover design of the book. You are with your book whole day long; you cannot be the best person to edit it. The cover design is crucial too. Hire a graphic designer to make a great design that will get your audience curious.

Uninteresting title – The title should be catchy and relevant to the subject. You can also have an explanatory phrase as a sub-title to give an idea of the contents of the book.

High price tag – Do not price your first book very high. Once they are impressed with your first book, they will keep waiting for the next ones.

No marketing — As an eBook writer, you have to manage the marketing and publishing on your own. Make sure to promote your eBook well before and after it is published. You need to keep promoting your eBook, share some testimonials, and give away extracts as teasers. How will anyone know that you have written an amazing book if you do not consistently tell them about it? Your promotion should convince people that they must buy the book.

Wrong marketing – While marketing your eBook, find ways to reach people who read the kind of stuff that you have written. Many people promote their books as being for everybody – that is wrong marketing. No matter how groundbreaking your book is, best is to go after your target audience.

The digital publishing industry is growing fast and it is a great time to publish your book online. Keep these tips to ensure that you can go ahead without any problems.

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