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Show Don’t Tell

You may have had college professors preach to you to “show, don’t tell.” The ironic thing about that statement is that it contradicts itself.

Take the video I’ve embedded below, for instance. In the video, a blind homeless man is begging for change. A young woman comes by and changes what he has written on his sign–and in response, many more people begin to give to him. Now watch the video (I’ll wait) and I think you’ll see it’s about a lot more than that.

Originally an ad for a web marketing company, the piece is about how much words matter and about creating a shared experience.

Being a Better Reader Makes You a Better Writer

Telling you what the video was about didn’t accomplish the same ends as you watching it; telling you how to be a better writer doesn’t achieve the same ends as you learning yourself.

There are many ways to learn to be a better writer–you can work to improve your grammar, you can improve by practicing (the more you write the better that writing is likely to be)… or you can learn by reading. Continue reading…

Recommended Reading: 4 Tips From Glen

Freelance Folder’s 4 Tips from Someone who has Hired Over 25 Freelancers provides readers with a must-do list from the one who matters most: the client. Glen, who wrote this post, has hired numerous freelancers over his career for a wide variety of jobs. He sets out what makes the difference between a freelancer he’ll use again and one whose business card and contact info he plans to lose.

He writes:

“During my first few years online, I spent a lot of time working as a freelancer, consulting for firms who wanted internet marketing services. For the last few years, however, I’ve been on the other side of the fence. I’ve been the client. The employer.

I tried very hard to be the best freelancer I could be (and charged a fair rate) but there are some things I just didn’t know that I could have been doing better for my clients. I didn’t know these things…until I discovered that I wanted them from other people.” Read the post here.

As Journalists, Are We Also Experts?

I was discussing the idea of experts–and journalists as experts–with a fellow writer earlier this week. She shared that at her previous job, as a business to business journalist, she and her co-worker were frequently asked for advice from readers.

As magazine writers they naturally were in a position to receive up-to-date industry news and to interview various industry experts on subject matters relevant to their audience. This is true, I think, of almost any journalism job. But did that mean they were qualified to hand out advice?

We’ve Got The Beat

We, as writers, develop a beat–be it a neighborhood or a subject matter–that we tend to write about most frequently. Magazine staff are often assigned a beat, but even many freelancers choose a niche and write the majority of their work for that niche. As such, we grow networks within that field that we can rely on to provide us with quotes and information for our pieces; facts to slide into our writing… data from which we can draw ideas and write our stories. Continue reading…

Recommended Reading: The 24-hour Rule

I wrote the other day about the need to get right back up and start again whenever you receive a rejection letter, and about my goals to do exactly that. So Kelly James-Enger couldn’t have chosen a better time to post her piece on The 24-Hour Rule and Why It Works.

She Writes, ‘Within 24 hours of receiving a rejection, or “thanks, but no thanks’ (what I call a “bong”) from an editor, I would do two things. First, I’d resubmit the query to another market; I call this a ‘resub.’

Second, I’d send a new query to the editor who had rejected me, starting with language like, ‘Thank you very much for your response to my query about women and weight-lifting. While I’m sorry you can’t use the idea at this time, I have another for you to consider.’ Then I’d include my new query.” Read the rest of her post here to find out why she uses this method and to find out the kind of results she typically experiences (and while you’re there, subscribe to her blog — it’s worth it).

And check out my post, Preparing For A Freelance Career, on Freelance Folder yesterday.

“I’ve been planning to become a freelancer since college. During my second year of school I picked up a copy of Media Bistro’s Get A Freelance Life (by Margit Feury Ragland) and decided to do an independent study around learning to become a freelancer. I studied it the same way you might study math or a Victorian novel. I picked apart the pieces of what it meant to become a freelancer; the ways all the great freelance writers shared in their books.” Read More…

Weeding The Good Clients From the Bad

Even after you figure out how to get a a rave recommendation from a previous client or acquaintance and it sends a new client your way, you still have to land the gig. If you pitched yourself well to the person who recommended you, hopefully the potential new project will be a good match. But, as Lindsey pointed out in the comments of “Calling All Word Nerds,” that’s not always the case.

In order to avoid wasting time on a client whose needs you can’t meet or who can’t afford your services, there are a number of things you can do to set realistic expectations.

Make Sure Your Website Is Clear.

Even though a you were recommended to them, chances are your potential new client will still check out your website and the materials you make available on your services before actually contacting you. So your first chance to separate the weeds from the flowers (those prepared to pay for your services)  is on your website–in particular, on its Frequently Asked Questions page. Continue reading…

Recommended Reading: Freelancers Are Chickens

This week’s reading recommendation comes from friend and fellow freelancer P.S. Jones.

Over at Diary of a Mad Freelancer, P.S. Jones breaks down the difference between being a chicken and being a pig this way, “Either you can be a pig or a chicken. When it comes to making breakfast, there are two levels of involvement. The chicken is pretty involved. It creates and passes an egg through its hoo-haw. Then, it donates it to the  breakfast cause. However, the pig is extremely dedicated. It lays down its life for breakfast. While a chicken will go on to be a part of many other breakfasts, a pig has everything riding on this one.”

Therefore, she says freelancers are chickens, while employees are pigs. Not convinced? Read her piece here.

And since I haven’t caught you up in a while on what I’ve been writing about elsewhere… Continue reading…

Playing (Freelance) Match Maker

Ever wonder why all your freelance friends seem to be getting referrals for new work and you’re not?

I mentioned Monday that I was in a position recently to recommend several of the other writers within my network to my editor in chief at Pet Business. He happened to be looking for a few new writers and since I happened to know several writers who were looking for new work, I happily made the introductions.

I do things like that all the time. If I know someone looking for a service and I know someone offering that service, I’ll try to match the two up. I also keep my ear to the ground about jobs–if I know someone looking for a job and I know someone hiring, I’ll gladly introduce them.

But there are several people within my network right now who I’d happily endorse–if I knew what they did and who they want to be doing it for. In each case I know the person is reliable and would feel good recommending them. But I can’t make a connection if I don’t understand what they’re looking for. Continue reading…

Calling All Word Nerds!

I’m excited to share that I’ll be appearing tomorrow night at 8 EDT as part of Brazen Careerist’s Network Roulette Event. Tomorrows event focuses on Word Nerds–professionals making a living from words. There are some awesome folks who have pledged to attend as experts (yours truly included) and I highly recommend you sign up.

If you’d like to check out who will be there and our creds, we’re all listed on the Word Nerd sign up page.

Jason, over at Brazen Careerist also interviewed all of us for a fantastic post on Five Tips for Aspiring Writers, that gives you a pretty good preview of the kinds of info you can expect to find if you attend the event.

He sent over some kick-butt questions when preparing the post, but since he had so many experts so little space, he only got in a quote or two from each of us. So I though I’d share the rest of my tips here.

Jason: What is the importance of networking in your career? Continue reading…

Guest Post: Work Less, Earn More & Get a Life

I’m honored to share a guest post with you today from the wonderful Jennifer Mattern on how to work less, earn more, and get a life beyond freelancing. Today’s post covers phases one: the workaholic and phase two: exhaustion. Check out the first part of this post for Phase one: Workaholic and Phase two: Exhuastion –today’s post is on Phase three: Taking control.

Jennifer Mattern is a freelance business writer and professional blogger who writes about freelance writing, social media, indie publishing, and small business. She also publishes e-books for freelance writers and is scheduled to publish her first nonfiction book, The Query-Free Freelancer, next year. Jennifer Mattern is behind All Freelance Writing, ProBusiness Writer, and Social Implications. Check out her sites — the lady knows her stuff.

How to Work Less, Earn More and Get a Life Beyond Freelancing – Phase Three: Taking Control

Once I resolved to make changes, I was able to identify my underlying problem. I was stuck in the “work more” mentality rather than the “work smarter” one. To get more done I didn’t have to work more hours. I just had to learn to use the time I did devote to work more efficiently.

One of the biggest changes I made was to my working hours. No more did I get out of bed when I felt like waking up, telling myself I could work as late as I needed to. I knew that I was completely unproductive in the afternoons. I chained myself to my desk but still didn’t get much done during those hours. I started setting my alarm for 4:00am. Continue reading…

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