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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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119463950Writing a resume can be one of the most daunting tasks. It can be difficult to write about yourself, and sometimes even more difficult to determine what is important and what is irrelevant. What will make you stand out from the crowd?

Before you start writing, there are two questions you need to ask yourself: What does the perfect candidate for this job look like? And how do you fit that role?

Resumes consist of a variety of mandatory and optional sections, the most important of which are the objective and the summary. We will review all of the key sections that you should include in your killer resume.

Objective

Your objective needs to demonstrate that your career direction is closely tied to the specific position to which you’re applying. The objective also needs to demonstrate how you fit the company’s position-based needs. Your objective should include the specific job title as well as your specific relevant skills.

Summary

The summary is where you highlight a few of your qualities and skills that are most important for this specific job. Remember, you are highlighting the qualities that make you the perfect candidate. Use short sentences and phrases to highlight your most important qualifications.

Skills and Accomplishments

If your summary highlighted your most important qualifications, the skills and accomplishments section gives you space to tell the rest of your story. You can format this section in a few ways:

  1. List your accomplishments and skills as bullet points simply in order of greatest importance.
  2. List your accomplishments and skills as bullet points underneath topical headings of specific accomplishments.
  3. List skills and accomplishments as bullet points underneath headings of your relevant job titles.

Experience

List your employment experience in reverse chronological order, with your most recent position listed first. Don’t list every job you’ve ever had—focus on the most recent and relevant positions. Include: position title, employer name, relevant dates, and bullet points that summarize your role and accomplishments.

Education

List education in reverse chronological order, with degrees and licenses followed by certificates and advanced training.

Awards

If you have received awards in an academic or professional context, it is important to list them. If your awards were specifically academic, list them in the education section.

Professional Affiliation

This section is especially important if you have a membership in a particular association, or if you are a member of a particular minority group, that might be desired for the job.

Civic/Community Leadership

This section is important if your leadership roles or accomplishments are specifically related to the job. You can also include your professional affiliation information under this section.

Now that you know the important components of your resume, and the things you need to consider before writing it, start thinking…and then start writing! Keep these things in mind and you will have a masterpiece in no time.

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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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482342151Many writers find themselves agonizing for hours over the appropriate character names for their stories. They understand the importance of the right name to convey who their characters are, but don’t know how to figure out the right names. Sometimes, it can be a real drag because you have the feeling that you can’t move on and keep writing. Again, you won’t be managing your time wisely if you spend a lot of time thinking about your character name. However, choosing character names shouldn’t be a daunting process if you understand a few character-naming tips.  Without much ado, here are five tricks that you can use to help you perfect the art of coming up with more character names you like—faster:

Try Random Name Generator

This is a great tool. All you need to do is to choose your character gender and whether you want a common, average, or a rare name. You will be surprised about what you get.

Borrow From Ancient Civilizations

Ancient names will give your character some flair and sense of mystery. Figure out the geography and the history of your plot when you are looking for character naming inspirations from ancient civilizations.

Capitalize On Nicknames

Try to give your characters some silly monikers that sound like them. Some of the most common examples include:

• Tick and vex from Lost Girl

• Jack Limberleg from Kate Milford’s  The Boneshaker

• Tiny Doom and Nini Mo from Flora Segunda series

Play With Sounds And Syllables

You can also play with those hard-hitting dental consonants to make your character appear tough.

Keep a record of character names you like

Make a list of some of the favorite names you’ve heard or jot them down whenever you hear them. You can use some of the names straight from your list. To ensure that you pick the best name, ask yourself what you like about a particular name to get a better sense of how you want your character name to sound.

Your Digital Publishing Cheat Sheet is a versatile blog that provides insightful freelance writing tips. Follow us for more tips, articles, and resources on freelancing writing, blogging, and publishing.