Thursday, December 25, 2008

Keys to being a successful freelance writer

The Monster List of Freelancing Tips at has some wonderful keys to being a successful work at home writer or any freelance position.

Some of my favorite tips:

*Follow instructions
*Ask clients what they want and listen to the answers they give
*Explain things clearly
*Meet deadlines
*Avoid distractions
*Be an editor
*Be ready to write whenever inspiration hits

And the list goes on and on! Be sure to check it out.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Open Office 3.0

The latest version of Open Office has just been released, Open Office 3.0. I downloaded it on both of my computers today and so far really like it. There are some new features that were not on 2.4 so I'm working to become familiar with them.

I love Open Office because it's compatible with Microsoft Office but it's a lot cheaper. It's FREE!

It has a counterpart to pretty much everything in Microsoft Office except one program, Publisher. I use that program to produce several newsletters so I still have to use Microsoft Office.

The Writer program is the Open Office version of Microsoft Office's Word. Files can go back and forth in either format without any glitches that I am aware of. I use Writer most often and I really like the word count feature. In Word it is right at the bottom of the document; in Writer you click Tools and then Word Count.

To download Open Office just go to It's a wonderful tool for writers!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Historical writing

Writing World's current newsletter has a very interesting piece on historical writing, something I really love to do.

I've written numerous outright historical pieces and during the past five years of freelance writing have collected some wonderful local histories, firsthand comments on historical events, and the like. My love for local/regional history has grown and when I have time I write about neat facts I've uncovered in my blog Historical Happenings. It focuses on Arkansas and African-American history with an emphasis on people and places about whom/which I have firsthand information and knowledge.

The Writing World newsletter offers a great piece of advice on writing about history -- find something interesting that hasn't been covered a million times already! I treasure these firsthand experiences with area historical events I've collected, like one woman's take on what it was like to be an African-American student during the time the Hoxie School District was being integrated or another woman's very sharp memories of the years she attended a private boarding school for African-American students in Eastern Arkansas.

Until I decide to compile all of my collected experiences and memories in a better format, I'll continue to publish snippets at Historical Happenings.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's been five years!

It's hard to believe it's been this long, but I became an official work-at-home writer mom five years ago!

It was five years ago this month that my job in a newspaper office as an editor, writer, photographer, etc. came to an end after nearly 16 years. I began freelancing for a couple of area newspapers right away and after several months added another one. A couple of years after that, I began producing a newsletter for a nonprofit organization.

In the past five years I've been a regular contributor at several area newspapers, including a couple that I no longer write for because of the distance, and I've produced regular newsletters for several nonprofits. During this time I've also done some editing for different clients. I'm still writing for newspapers, producing newsletters, and doing some editing.

This has been a wonderful opportunity for me, as I've been able to stay home with my children, contribute to the family finances, and do something I've always loved to do. I'm very thankful for this and hope that it continues.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Time to get ready for tax season

Work at home writers, it's time to get ready for tax season! Have you kept up with all your paperwork/bookkeeping?

I haven't for the last few months, I'm ashamed to say, but I do have several months of figures already recorded that should make things easier.

Freelance Writing at has some good tax preparation tips to follow in the meantime.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Secrets to scoring a freelance job

Freelance Writing at has some insider secrets for getting freelance writing jobs!

These tips are for getting jobs over the Internet, something at which I have a zero percent success rate although following these tips may get a writer a 20 percent success rate.

My failure at it is due most likely to me not being very dedicated to the process; I've found so much more success in finding print work locally. I tried to do this again this summer and got a few bites but nothing that panned out to an actual gig.

Hopefully these tips will help improve my success rate the next time I decide to try this.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Writing goals for this past year

The end of the year is quickly approaching! How are you writers doing with reaching your goals for this year?

I did okay with mine since I set a very simple goal -- just to get some writing done -- but several things have happened and I am not very happy with my overall performance this year. Most of these things are pretty much beyond my control, though.

To get the year started off, two jobs were eliminated. One was a newspaper featuring writing freelance job that I'd had since I started freelancing at the beginning of 2004. The distance was the major factor in the decision I made to stop doing this feature. The other job that was eliminated was a newsletter position that was cut because of budgeting. Caught up in the middle of that was an annual report that I produced and was paid half of the proposed price.

I acquired three new newsletter production positions during the year; two are going wonderfully and another is dragging as I wait (going on almost a month now) to be notified of corrections to the first draft. I hope to hear from them soon.

Another couple of issues I've experienced with another nonprofit organization mainly concern communication and billing; because of that and a few issues with the other organizations I work with I've changed my policy on billing (will now be sending the invoice with the first draft instead of waiting until the final draft is completed to bill) and have vamped up my communication.

I wrote quite a bit for a newspaper during one part of the year then got busy with newsletters; this never turns out to be a good thing since the newspaper publishes and pays quickly, and has excellent exposure.

I have a monthly assignment with yet another newspaper; this has been going wonderfully. I've met some wonderful people this year and have written some very good pieces.

My issues this year haven't been with writing itself, but the business of it and little things like travel, billing, etc. I hope that next year goes smoother in those areas.

I hope that you have had a great year with freelance writing and that another wonderful year awaits you!