In the right circumstances, infographic resumes – using words and images to convey to a potential client who a freelancer is and what he or she can do for them – can be a wonderful way to get a potential client to sit up and take notice. If you are going to go this route, you’ll want to make sure that you are using this tool in a manner that presents your skills and abilities in the best possible way.
Archives for July 2014
You’re a writer, and you probably have your arsenal of tools which you can’t live without. One thing is for sure: we all have our preferences when it comes to go-to writing tools.
Our favorite authors are not exempt from this, and I found an infographic showcasing the writing tools of famous authors. It’s an interesting graphic simply because it shows just quirky writers can be and how it doesn’t matter how “weird” a habit may be. If you write well, who cares if you’ve got some habits that are not considered normal?
The infographic features the following authors:
- George R.R. Martin
- Neil Gaiman
- J.K. Rowling
- Agatha Christie
- Danielle Steel
- Stephen King
- Quentin Tarantino
- Mark Twain
Can you guess what their favorite writing tools are? Try before looking at the infographic below.
So which author would you say is your favorite? Which of the writing tools do you use?
Via Ninja Essays
The life of a freelance writer is relatively easy compared to others. While some of you may argue this point, I honestly think that we have a lot of freedom, and as long as we have the necessary self-discipline (and then some), we’re really in a sweet position.
One thing that we may overlook, however, is that we have legal obligations as freelance writers. Just like any professional doing his job, a freelance writer has to take the legal matters into consideration. Legal counsel Daniel Perlman highly recommends every freelancer to pay attention to legal obligations, which may vary depending on the setup of your business. There are, however, three major things that you have to consider. [Read more…]
This post was written by Jennifer Parris, career writer at FlexJobs, the award-winning site for telecommuting and flexible job listings. FlexJobs lists thousands of pre-screened, legitimate, and professional-level work-from-home jobs and other types of flexibility like part-time positions, freelancing, and flexible schedules. Jennifer provides career and job search advice through the FlexJobs Blog and social media. Learn more at www.FlexJobs.com.
You land a plum writing assignment from your favorite magazine/newspaper/website. You do your research, go through several drafts, and craft what you consider to be a masterpiece. (In other words, you nailed the story.) You submit the piece to your editor, who sings your praises and thanks you for your hard work—and for also handing the story in on time, too. He promises that you’ll receive payment ASAP.
And then, nothing.
You wait, and wait, and wait. Days roll into weeks, which then turn into months, and you still haven’t gotten paid. Sadly, this is a fairly common occurrence for freelance writers. While it shouldn’t discourage you from continuing your freelance writing career, there are ways to protect yourself from clients who take forever to fork over the cash. Here’s how to make sure that you get paid as a freelance writer.
Get it in writing.
The single best way to protect yourself (and your work) is to have a contract between you and your contact. In the contract, it should include the story title, story tips, word count, the deadline, a kill fee should the article be rejected, the amount due to you, and most importantly, when you can expect payment. Magazines might not pay until they publish your article, and if the magazine has a long lead time, that may mean you’ll be waiting months to receive a check.
Connect with your contact.
Let’s say that you only had a verbal agreement with your editor, or you simply don’t have a contract in place. While a verbal agreement can be harder to prove in court, it doesn’t mean that you’ll necessarily lose your earnings, either. It may simply be that your editor forgot to process your payment. After all, you don’t want to threaten legal action when it could have simply been an oversight. So before you panic, reach out to him by email first. This way, you are establishing a traceable history of trying to recoup your payment. In your email, you should be nice, courteous, and above all, professional. You can say how much you enjoyed working on the story (and working with your editor), and mention that you haven’t received payment yet. You should then ask when you can expect it, and then follow up with a phone call a few days later if you don’t receive a response.
If a week or two has gone by since your initial email/phone call reminder and you haven’t heard anything, it’s time to send a second invoice. Be sure to write “second invoice” on the invoice to show that this isn’t the first time you sent in an invoice. In addition to the invoice, you should write a letter to your editor as well. You should mention that you sent an email on X date and followed up with a phone call on X date, and haven’t heard back. State that while you liked writing the story, you really need to know when you may expect the payment, since it has been X number of weeks/months since the article was submitted. If time has passed since your second invoice (about a month or so), you should definitely call again to find out what’s going on. If there is a business manager on staff, you can reach out to him directly to see if he has received your invoice.
If you still don’t hear back from your editor—or feel that you’re getting the runaround—it’s time to prepare for battle, er, a potential lawsuit. Remember the invoices you’ve emailed? That was the beginning of creating a paper trail that you could potentially use if you needed to in court. Now, it’s time to get real. Send a final invoice/notice via certified mail stating that if you don’t hear back from your editor by a certain date, you’ll be forced to take legal action against them and file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Your final date should be approximately two weeks from the date that you send out your certified letter. In some cases, the threat of legal action can be enough to prompt a client to cough up the cash.
Make a decision.
At this point, it’s been months since you submitted your story and you haven’t received payment. In some cases, the editor may have even had the audacity to publish it, which will irk you all the more. While you’ve taken the necessary steps to file a complaint against him, you have to decide if it’s worth it to you—literally. A small claims case may take months to get through the system and even longer for you to get a court date. At this stage, you probably won’t work for this company again, but you should still try to leave the freelance writing gig tactfully.
That’s why you have to weigh if all of this effort, stress, and energy are worth it for whatever amount you were to receive for your story. Even if you are able to prove your case and win, there’s never a guarantee that you’ll receive your payment. Most people who plan to sue at this point do it more for the principle than anything else, and you may be successful and receive what’s due to you. Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine how much more of your time you want to invest in this issue.
Many freelancers face the issue of nonpayment from their clients at one point or another in their writing career. While freelancing might be the right career for you, be sure to work with reputable companies and always get a contract, no matter how big (or small) the article will be. Sometimes those simple steps can prevent a lot of unnecessary stress and will ensure that you’ll be paid for your work—every time.
One way to share your work and get it noticed is to enter a writing contest. You may think that the odds of winning are about the same as winning the lottery, but keep in mind that many people may read and ad for a contest and decide the same thing. That fact will eliminate a certain amount of the potential competition.
That’s what first came to mind when I read the word “precrastinator”, but my brain quickly took it in, knowing full well how procrastinating is a big issue for many freelance writers. There have been quite a lot of studies focusing on procrastination – why it happens, what it does to productivity, and even how it affects the health of individuals because of stress.
Blog posts and online how-tos dealing with procrastination can easily be found, but it is not common to come across something dealing with the opposite: being a precrastinator.
What exactly is a precrastinator?
A precrastinator is the opposite of a procrastinator, in that he or she takes on more work and completing tasks sooner than the deadline.
Forget the popular quote from Douglas Adams: I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by!
So which are you?
Given the characteristics of a procrastinator and a precrastinator, which one do you think you are? I’d say that I am sometimes a procrastinator, and other times, I am a precrastinator. It’s just the way things are; not everything is black and white. There are good days, and there are bad days.
Being a precrastinator is good, right?
If you are a precrastinator, you should have a smug look on your face right now, shouldn’t you? After all, completing your work before the deadline is something to be proud about. It oozes professionalism and efficiency. It helps your bottom line.
But, is it a good thing, really?
Penn State’s David Rosenbaum, together with his colleagues Lanyun Gong and Cory Adam Potts, conducted a study on this particular topic. Here’s what they did:
They set up a series of experiments not unlike my morning ritual—simpler actually. In the study, volunteers were asked to walk down an alley, pick up a bucket along the way, and deposit it at the end. They had a choice of picking up a bucket that was close to them, and therefore had to be carried further, or a bucket that was a bit further away from the start and thus required less carrying. The buckets were of equal weight, and the volunteers were instructed to do whatever seemed easier.
As it turned out, what “seemed easier” was to pick up the load closest to them instead of the bucket that required less carrying, resulting in more work. This, the researchers labeled precrastination.
Counterintuively, the researchers say that precrastinators are not necessarily better off than procrastinators.
Precrastinating may feel better than procrastinating, as you avoid that nagging knowledge that you should be doing something else, but rushing to complete a task may result in decreased performance. “If you want to start and finish something as fast as possible–before you have the full instruction on how to complete the task–it could potentially be a problem,” says Potts.
Additionally, there may be benefits to being a procrastinator.
“Oftentimes, you’re able to remember things better or things occur to you that wouldn’t have occurred to you [in the moment], says Potts. “If you’re a procrastinator, you have that time to incubate, whereas if you’re a precrastinator you don’t.” Rushing to complete the task could mean you’re losing out on ideas that would have occurred to you later if you’d taken the time to mentally percolate on the task.
So there’s good news for procrastinators, although I do think that being a precrastinator is also beneficial depending on the context. It’s all in the context, don’t you think?
What are your thoughts on this? I’d love to read them in the comments below.
We all want to be better writers, right? I’m also willing to bet that, more than that, you want to write faster. After all, if you write better and faster, the more client work you can take on, and the more you can charge for your work.
There’s no lack of articles online – and offline – giving pieces of advice on how to write better and faster. We even published one recently – How to Become a Better Writer.
Today, I came across this infographic which can serve as a quick pick-me-upper and/or guide for those who want to write better and faster.
I agree with most points – especially number 9 (which obviously doesn’t apply to those who don’t drink) – but what do you think? As fellow writers, what can you say about this infographic? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments?
Via Brennan Reid
You’re probably thinking, “Sure, been there; done that. I didn’t even bother to collect the t-shirt.”
There is a point in every writer’s life when he just doesn’t feel like writing. Whatever the reason may be, it does not matter when you’re that point. You just probably want to do anything but write, but let me give you a little tug – back to earth.
If you’re a writer, you should write even if you don’t feel like it. Of course, there are exceptions, but if you want to be a better writer, then you’ll have to push yourself when these moments come.
Why should you write even if you don’t feel like it? Here you go. [Read more…]
Editor’s note: This post was written by Gary Dek, the blogger behind StartABlog123.com and Gajizmo.com. He offers small businesses and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density research to recovering from Panda/Penguin updates to promoting their blogs and growing traffic.
Are you inspired and motivated to become a great writer? Do you read writing blogs and get the urge to start one, too? Maybe you’re looking for a second income to pay off your debts faster or just had a baby and want to make money from home as a freelance writer.
But you’re worried that you don’t have what it takes to become a professional writer. You don’t think you’re an expert on anything worth writing about, and even if you were, why should anyone hire you specifically? Do you have the habits of a successful writer, or are you doomed to be nothing but a writing wannabe?
Here are a few tips on becoming a better writer and how to differentiate yourself.
What Is Good Writing?
Some individuals in the writing community are book snobs. They think that classic literature is more valid than ‘chick lit’ or that magazines are literary garbage. There are others who think that bloggers are wannabe journalists or that if you self-publish a book, then it must be bad because no publisher would touch it.
What is good and worthy is subjective and relative. The only way to tell if you’re a good writer is to measure the impact you have on your readers. Did you offer a solution to an everyday problem? Did you persuade them to change or improve? Did you captivate or engage them? Did you connect with them on a personal or emotional level?
These are the types of questions you should ask yourself because, at the end of the day, they’re the ones that matter. Using complex sentence structures, alluding to a Shakespearean sonnet, or incorporating SAT vocabulary that only an Oxford Scholar would understand doesn’t make you a great writer. As a freelance writer or blogger, it can make you seem cold, distant, and disconnected.
Ways you might be able to measure whether your writing affects people include:
- User comments and discussions on your blog.
- Direct emails from readers expressing appreciation or asking for additional information.
- Good reviews of your latest Kindle novel, eBook, podcast, etc.
- Social shares that demonstrate strong connections with your work.
Any kind of attention or feedback means your writing is compelling in some way. Otherwise, you’re either writing about something no one wants to read or your style is too dry and boring. Neither of those qualities is desired by publishers.
Steps To Better Writing
Before you can become a better and popular writer, you must hone your skills. While what is considered good may be relative, the habits you must acquire are universal. The following are solid, proven methods to improve your skills.
Learn The Craft
If you want to be a chef, you must first learn how to cook; and if you want to be a writer, you have to learn the principles of writing, including but not limited to: grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary and punctuation. You may have great ideas for your writing style, but for it to be any good, you must first learn the rules. Then you can go ahead and break them as you see fit.
You must also learn story-writing essentials such as purpose, tone, plot, character development, and structure. Learn how to write realistic dialogue so your characters don’t come off as wooden and one dimensional.
The best way to achieve this is to read. Ever notice how the best writers are voracious readers? This is because exposure to quality work sets a standard in your mind and what we learn as readers, we’ll implement as writers.
Write, Write, and Write
This may seem a bit obvious, but writers have to actually write. Like anything else in life, practice makes perfect. The more you practice writing, the easier you can put your thoughts into words. You must create a daily writing habit and commit to it.
If you are a new freelancer and don’t have any writing gigs yet, start a personal blog and make it a habit to write every day, even when you don’t feel like it. If you are serious about becoming a successful freelance writer, it has to feel like a job – pick a time, start working and stay until you’ve finished.
If you aren’t tech-savvy, use the step-by-step tutorial provided by StartABlog123.com to learn how to set up a blog in under 20 minutes. Once you start getting freelancing jobs, your blog will serve as your resume and portfolio.
Seek Out Criticism
The feedback you receive from peers, writers, professors, and mentors is invaluable. They may not represent your target audience, but the constructive criticism you’ll get from them will help you determine your shortcoming and where you need focus.
It may bruise the ego to hear that something you’ve written is falling flat, especially if it’s something you took a particular liking to, but this is how you learn to sharpen your instincts.
The Intangibles That Can’t Be Taught
While the above tips will strengthen your technical and fundamental writing skills, there is a bit more to “good writing” than having proper grammar and sentence structure. The easiest way to describe it is that each literary piece you produce must have personality.
Here are a few qualities that will allow you to genuinely connect with readers and evoke positive emotions with your work.
- Compassion gives you the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes, which in turn helps you create realistic and relatable characters. Empathy helps a writer tap into the audience’s emotional pulse.
- Ingenuity is what helps a fiction writer create an imaginative and intriguing setting for a story. A writer with imagination or unique problem-solving skills is able to attack an old dilemma with a different point of view. The latter is especially crucial for freelance writers trying to stand out in a crowded niche.
- Dedication is what separates a serious writer from a wishful thinker. Good writers tend to live and breathe their writing. They can’t go a day without it; they are always thinking about their next post, short story, editorial, satire, novel, etc. A great writer is passionate about language, communication and using both to tell stories that capture hearts and minds. That passion will be what keeps you committed despite the occasional failure.
These character traits may or may not be learned; it really depends on you as an individual. Sometimes experiences and environments can change people, as can purposeful behavioral modification. If you believe your writing lacks these qualities, how can you acquire them?
Get Some Life Experience and Share It
One of the oldest rules for writers is to write what you know, but in order to have anything insightful to share, you’re going to have to live a little. Step outside of your comfort zone and be adventurous, experiencing moments that challenge you mentally, physically, and/or emotionally. Make new friends and listen to different perspectives to further develop empathy.
Develop A Taste For Diversity
Open your mind to the possibility that you are wrong about everything you believe in. Exposing yourself to a wide range of topics, personalities, and philosophies rather than sticking with what you know and love, will help you build your imagination. If you tend to only watch comedy films, branch out to documentaries and science fiction. Only interested in classic literature? Try reading something from a recent bestseller list. Never been out of the country? Travel to Peru and visit Machu Picchu, the Peruvian Amazon Basin, and Lake Titicaca. Unique experiences will engage readers and spark new ideas, helping you stand out.
One of my favorite quotes to support this is from Steve Jobs:
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Be More Open and Less Repressed
Beware of dismissing what you love out of fear of appearing uncool or weird. Indifference is a creative energy killer. Indulge your passions, share them with others, and find others who have similar interests. Learn to accept what makes you unique, and embrace being you.
Anyone Can Become A Better Writer
It takes work to be a better writer, but you can do it. You have to be willing to learn your craft, make time to write and accept productive criticism when necessary. Working with mentors, professors and other talented and dedicated writers can also increase your odds. But if you want to succeed, you can’t just mechanically follow these steps. Ultimately, you must transform yourself into someone with a unique voice worth reading. If you can educate and uplift your audience, you’ll always be in demand.
We’re all writers here, although we do sometimes struggle with how to call/label ourselves. One thing is for sure, though: we know that there are wonderful things that happen in our brains when we write.
However, have you ever really thought (or read) about what writing does to your brain?
I found this interesting, albeit not-so-recent, infographic about writing and your brain, and I thought I’d share it with you today. [Read more…]