Latest Entries

Three Sites You Should Read

I firmly believe in the importance of continuously working to improve my writing and grow my skill set—and I don’t just mean the writing-related ones. I also am constantly looking for new products or processes for improving efficiency, sales tips and business practices. I follow business blogs as well as writing blogs and niche industry blogs (like pet stuff, since I cover pet topics).

Today I wanted to share a few writing blogs I read regularly that I think get paid less attention that they deserve. So many sites out there rehash the same information over and over and over again—they are worth keeping up with, for the rare occasion that they mention something new, but few sites really manage to offer new fresh content regularly. Each of these 3 are the exception to the rule. They continually provide new ideas and new perspectives from experts who are out there walking the walk every day. Continue reading…

The History of the Ampersand

It’s been a crazy few weeks. I expect to be back in full force next week, however here’s something to tide you over in the meantime (click on the image to see the full history of the ampersand—my favorite character).

Accepting Rush Jobs

One of the reasons I was able to go freelance was because even before I resigned I was fairly confident I’d be able to get regular work through my boss. And, upon talking to him as I was leaving, he assigned me a regular column. Currently, the work I’m doing for him is my most regular work; in addition to the column, he gives me other pieces as often as he is able.

He knows he can count on me to deliver the quality he needs and to understand the publication’s audience and tone. So it just makes sense to him to give me the work, rather than assigning it to another freelancer. As my most regular client by far at this point, when he emailed me recently asking me if I had time to take on an emergency assignment, it was really hard to say no.

Why I Accepted the Assignment

First of all, the piece would mean another $250 added to my bank account; and since I’m still new enough that the future feels uncertain, that made for serious temptation. Second, I didn’t want to tell him no, because it might mean he wouldn’t come to me with similar pieces in the future. Third, it didn’t seem like a time consuming assignment; it was just a company profile, so it only required doing one interview and writing the piece up based on that information.

What I didn’t count on was how difficult it would be to reach someone at the company who could set me up with someone to interview on such short notice; I only had 3 days to turn around the assignment.

Where Things Went Wrong

The piece might only require one interview, but I had a lot of difficulty getting someone at the company on the phone to do that interview. They were all at an industry event, and weren’t available. I kept the editor in the loop, and he pushed back my deadline from Friday to first thing Monday. Finally, after trying since Tuesday, I got someone on the phone on Friday evening.

That was the same weekend that I spent 4 hours at the vet while on deadline for another assignment. So I didn’t get to do anything with that interview until Sunday. On Sunday I worked all day on the piece; I transcribed the interview and pieced it together any additional information I needed from their website and a special anniversary site they had created for their 50th anniversary last year.

I finally finished the profile just in time for the extended deadline, and sent it out at 2:21 AM Monday morning. In the end, it was an extra $250. And once I got the interview, the piece didn’t take that long to put together. But not being able to get ahold of someone at the company almost made me miss the deadline (if I didn’t know the editor so well, it might have been a huge issue—fortunately, by communicating what was going on, I managed to get an extension instead) and an unexpected emergency threw things even more out of order. While I would probably still accept the assignment if placed in the same situation today, I’d definitely have more to think about…

What about you? Ever not thought out accepting an assignment? Had something crazy go wrong? Or maybe just bit off more than you could chew…? Tell me about it. 

P.S. Check out my guest post from last week over at Diary of a Mad Freelancer. I share some secrets I learned while working behind the scenes as a business to business magazine editor. 

[Photo Credit: Klynslis]

Sh!t Happens

I’ve been staying with my grandmother in North Carolina while beginning to hunt for an apartment in South Carolina; this past weekend my grandmother went on a retreat with her church and left me to watch the house and her dogs.

She has a large fenced backyard where she puts the dogs out during the day. Saturday night I let the dogs in, and one of them had a large gash down his side; he was bleeding all over the place. You could see the muscle underneath. It was terrible.

I called my uncle, who lives down the street, and we hauled the dog down to the emergency vet clinic half an hour away. We were there for four hours.

And, as if all that isn’t bad enough—I was on deadline for a client project. Ut oh.  Continue reading…

Writers’ Week at Suess’s Pieces

I just wanted to pop in and tell all my wonderful readers that Emily from Suess’s Pieces has declared this week Writers’ Week over on her blog. She’s offering a bunch of awesome things for you to enjoy there, including an awesome writing contest (with prizes), resources for writers, and more (for the full week of wordy goodness, check out her schedule, here). In addition to prizes worth $726 Emily has promised scattered prizes throughout the week, including several amazing books (Stephen King’s 10th anniversary edition of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, for example). 

Oh, and one more thing: she asked me if I’d be a judge for the writing contest. So sharpen those pencils (dust off those keyboards?), check out her prompts and  link to your contest entry over on her blog. I can’t wait to see some familiar names and sites as part of the contest.

My Freelance Business Plan

I’ve known I wanted to be a freelancer for over 6 years–finally, last month I took the plunge.

How the heck will I make any money?

Well, I’m glad you asked. As a new freelancer, there are people who think I’m crazy, leaving a stable job and a life where I manage to make ends meet every month, for a life that’s unpredictable, where I’ll never know where my next dollar is coming from. But what they don’t know is that I’ve got a plan. Continue reading…

Recap of Week 1: Not Quite What I Expected

I’ve finished my first full week (well, almost full week) of freelancing.

I arrived in NC on Tuesday about midday and spent that evening as well as the rest of the week working. The thing that surprised me most? How much it doesn’t feel like work. Not having to go into an office and sit at a desk for 8 hours a day has meant I work from about 9:30 in the morning until close to midnight most days–but there are many more breaks, including some that last a couple of hours. As a result, I feel fresher and actually accomplish more.

I’ve also been surprised Continue reading…

Tips on Getting Published in Trade Magazines

Hey ladies and gents–the gracious Denene Brox did a interview with me recently over on Freelance Write Now to find out more about writing for trade magazines. Writing for trade magazines is a great way for beginning freelance writers to learn the ropes and gain some clips for their portfolios. The competition is often much lower at trade magazines and I have found that editors are much more responsive and open to offering freelance writing jobs to beginners. Check out the piece here!

Lessons From An Editor: 5 Tips for Phone Interviews

This is a new series here on Jargon Writer. I announced recently that I’m heading into the world of freelancing full time–but I learned a lot while working full time as a trade editor, and wanted to share those lessons and tips with you. 

In the last three years I’ve done more phone interviews that I could count for more articles than you’d want to read. During that time I’ve picked up some tips and tricks for keeping the interview process smooth, your information organized and to ensure you come off as professional as possible. Continue reading…

I’ll Admit it… I’m Terrified

So it’s official. I’m going FT. As I walk bravely into the unknown I thought I’d share my concerns; then in a year ill come back and repost them, with how these things turned out.

Things I’m worried about :

1) My funds. I’ve set aside enough for 3 months living expenses at my current lifestyle; but I’m cutting expenses by moving into a place with cheaper rent. However the move requires acquiring a car. So there’s that. Still, the amount I have set aside should last me 6 months at my estimated cost of living in the new location–yet I’m terrified it won’t be enough, and that I won’t be able to make money to replace my savings.

2) My diligence. That once I’m out of an office and working from home I’ll find I lack the motivation necessary to truly succeed. That I’ll become lazy, and get up each day around noon, never change out of my PJs and fail to overcome the fears listed here because I never truly try. I’ve been in positions before where fear of failure prevented me from success. And I’m scared it’ll happen again.

3) That I will try, but I’ll find I’m just not good enough. That my writing will never by published or paid for; that somehow the freelance work I’ve done up until this point and my job as a writer and editor has been a fluke accident and no one will ever pay me to put words down again. Continue reading…

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