Archives for March 2009
When you are looking for freelance writing opportunities, it may be tempting to think of yourself as just a writer. When you are contacting potential clients and ask the question, “Do you need a writer?”, the answer may well be “No.”
The client may not have ever hired a freelance writer before. They may not know what kinds of services you can offer (articles, advertising materials, blog posts, press releases, etc.). Part of marketing yourself to potential clients is to tell them why hiring you will help their bottom line, because that is what matters to them.
There are times when a story is so hot you can write article after article, blog after blog and milk it for all it’s worth, but doing it gives you pause. You may wonder if you are feeding the media machine so many complain about, or you may wonder if you’re causing more harm than good, or putting profit over your moral code.
I write a parenting blog for Examiner.Com and the hottest story on the parenting scene is a domestic violence incident between two young music stars. The national news, Oprah, The View and other current event shows are all weighing in on rumors, sections of police reports, leaked photographs and giving advice to two young people they don’t know and probably hadn’t heard of until the story broke.
This story came with all of the goodies media people love – sex, violence, pretty people and money. I talked about it once for TwitterMoms, discussing the issue of violence against males and the double standard in which girls are applauded and excused for slapping, hitting their partners and shown destroying their partner’s property out of spite. Howeer, as more news came and more rumors were “exposed” and more people began sending “messages” and “warnings” the more the thought of writing about it anymore turned my tummy.
There are a variety of parenting issues that could be discussed and drawn from the incident. Linking back to the red hot story of these two stars would surely lead to some nice Google juice, but at some point you have to draw the line. When are you using media to shine light on issues and when are you using your powers for exploitation?
Have you ever written something against your better judgment or refused to partake in a particular media frenzy? Discuss this writing dilemma.
I found this in my online travels on the WritersJokes web site and thought it was worth sharing. Enjoy!
- Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
- Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
- And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
- It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
- Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
- Be more or less specific.
- Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
- Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
- No sentence fragments.
- Don’t use no double negatives.
- Proofread carefully to see if you any words out or mispeld something.
- Eschew obfuscation.
When someone posts an ad on a job site, Craigslist or even FWJ, they usually receive many responses. People who place ads here have commented many times about how quickly they start getting responses and are very impressed at the caliber of applicants they are getting.
If think about the fact that there may be at least 100 responses to an ad (and there may be two or three times that many), you may be intimidated by that. Some people may choose not to apply for something that they may be well suited for because of it.
Busy kids, demanding dogs, grocery runs, alluring refrigerators, visitors, Twitter, the call of the sun through your window – all worthy adversaries in the battle for your concentration and productivity. As writers, we must guard against the constant intrusions that threaten to turn an hour-long project into a 3 hour-long project.
There are some distractions you can work through if you just can zero in on your focus. Parents become Jedi’s at ignoring the door-knocking, whining or ordinary play noises of kids and it is that selective hearing that will help you get through other distractions. Even if you’re not a parent, you’ve used your selective hearing skills to block out spouses, roommates or your boss’s yammering – all it takes is channeling that focus to blocking out the beeping of Twitter and the phone ringing.
Another way to block out and manage distractions – give yourself a time and a time-limit. If you’re an obsessive email checker like myself, you can easily spend hours checking and rechecking your email. The same holds true for Twitter, Facebook or any of the other social networking sites. Set a time, once every two hours, etc. to check your email, updates, etc., and then only allow yourself 15 mins to respond or surf. This also works for returning phone messages. Knowing when you’ll be able to satisfy your addiction will help you make it through getting actual work done.
Refocusing after an encounter with distractions can take almost as much time as the distraction itself. Often it’s not possible to shift gears and jump right back into the work, so find some focusing or breathing exercises that will work to zone you back in. I tend to use two that work pretty well for me:
I close my eyes and count slowly backwards from 20 to 0. This helps calms my brain and gets me ready to “go back in.” Or I use one of my work songs. Right now I have three on rotation and they aren’t the most politically correct or wholesome songs but they get me motivated. If you like hip hop email me and I’ll let you know what works for me. If not, find a song that motivates you. Two to three minutes of your favorite jam can be enough to not only get you inspired to keep working, but remind you why you’re working.
Got tips for dealing with distractions? Share ’em!
I’ll say it again. There is no secret to freelance writing success. You work hard, turn in clean copy, rock the communication and you’ll do well. It’s the folks that are only going through the motions that seem to struggle.Even though the above-mentioned items are important, I one thing I learned over the last decade is that clients appreciate loyalty more than anything you have to offer.
I’m going to use Jodee as a case in point. We began working together two years ago after I posted an ad at the WAHM forum. Since hiring Jodee she’s been a dream freelancer. She works hard, meets her deadlines, turns in nothing but the best work, communicates well and is someone I’m proud to call friend. Jodee even checked with me a couple of times before taking on tasks she considered a conflict of interest and to me, that spoke volumes.
In return, I offer Jodee first shot at any writing job I have, offer recommendations to her potential clients and refer her to some great clients. In fact, when I left the world of freelancing to be a full time Community Manager, I recommended Jodee to replace me with my highest paying client and he continues to keep her busy and well paid.
Here’s a discussion topic for you, FWJ community. What are some of the ways you are loyal to your clients? How do you show them you care about them and their projects and what do they do to reward your loyalty?
By Terreece M. Clarke
…Then I’m likely bored reading it.
It’s true. Writing articles or blogs can become so by-the-formula that you can mentally check out and still deliver, on the surface, a quality article.
A “surface quality article” has all of the makings of a great article – structure, sources, insight, clean copy, but lacks oomph or the passion of the writer behind it. There is a difference between mom’s brownies made with love – whether from box or scratch – and the mass produced, machine-handled bricks that pop out the vending machine. You can serve them both up on a plate, but it feels different.
A bored writer often comes from boredom with the subject or approach. Figure out which one applies to you and work on bringing the vigor back. If it’s the subject that puts you to sleep, new sources, new angles, unusual audiences may help stimulate your mind.
How are you approaching your work? Downtrodden with a heavy heart, all business or with enthusiasm to bring out the best the subject has to offer for your audience? Often it’s the mood you’re bringing to the table that will determine if your article has that extra sparkle.
Step out of your comfort zone or regimented routine and try something different. Inject humor into the article – where appropriate. Write the article from a completely different perspective. But do something, because if you’re boring I won’t read it and your audience won’t either.
Have you ever heard the expression that if you put enough pieces of straw together, eventually you will have a broom? That expression has been floating around in my mind recently, and it led me to think about building a successful freelance writing business.
It is possible to build a business by starting off with small jobs first. When you first start working with a new client, they may start off by giving you a single article or a small assignment. This is a chance for both of you to get to know each other. You can turn it in and if you would prefer not to work with that person again, you don’t need to. (You can always say that you are fully booked if the client gets in touch with you again, if you have to.)