Thursday, December 25, 2008
Some of my favorite tips:
*Ask clients what they want and listen to the answers they give
*Explain things clearly
*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
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 www.openoffice.org. It's a wonderful tool for writers!
Friday, December 19, 2008
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 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
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 About.com has some good tax preparation tips to follow in the meantime.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
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
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!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Freelance Writing at About.com's newsletter recently talked about how to conduct an interview. Take a look!
Monday, October 20, 2008
It has lots of good topics, list of paying markets, etc. each week. Have them emailed to you every Wednesday or read it on the site.
There is also a forum on the site. I've just joined but I have high hopes for it.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
How to Survive While Writing with Young Children in the Home
It gives some great tips, like getting up earlier than your kids, something that does not work for me on a regular basis, or staying up later than the children, which I usually do. (I have found lately that I make kind of a mess when I write at night, but if I can just get it written I can fix it in the morning!)
The piece recommends movies and arts and crafts, both of which are very popular at my house.
All of my kids but one are old enough to play outside without me, and they are also old enough to watch the little one!
Friday, October 17, 2008
Writing Blog Winners
The top 10 were narrowed down from a list of 37 excellent blogs:
Writing Blog Finalists
A few of them are some of my favorites!
Poewar Writers Resource Center
Freelance Writing Jobs
Freelance Writing at About.com
There are some really great blogs in the finalist list that I'm adding to my regular reading list.
The top 10 blogs came from over 300 writing blog nominations.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Begin at the Beginning
Queries and Submissions
Conducting Research and Interviews
Crafting Your Article
Rejection, Writer's Block, and Other Hazards of the Writing Life
Should You Quit Your Day Job?
Each topic has a long list of helpful articles, so check it out!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
From a publication folding before paying you for your work to the subject of a piece you wrote bowing out of business to inadvertently signing away your rights, this piece has excellent advice on what to do about several potentially disastrous events in the career of a freelance writer.
Monday, October 13, 2008
The Writing World newsletter is e-mailed monthly, on the first Thursday of the month. You can also read it at the website.
From how to decode Internet writing job ads to why newspaper writers need blogs, the topics are seemingly endless. I'm still exploring the site and will share some highlights with you in the days to come.
Friday, October 10, 2008
It encourages writers to not accept those low paying gigs that are all over the Internet. There are a lot of them, or at least I've seen quite a few in my occasional searches for freelance writing jobs on the Internet. That's what led me to my belief that the print market is much better-paying, but perhaps I just haven't run across one of those good high-paying jobs this piece is talking about.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
You can also subscribe to get a notification in your email when the new one comes up.
Subscribers also get first notification when submissions are needed for Coffee Break for Writers. The subscribers have first chance at the call for new article topics, before they're announced on the writer's guidelines page. Calls for articles on this page go up a week after subscribers are notified.
They do need some submissions now so while you are there check out the writer's guidelines.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
There is a great freelancing articles section, a very nicely categorized jobs listing section, and another jobs section with listings by state!
There is a lot more that I'm still checking out. I found this blog with the new blog search tool on the Google toolbar. I just put in "writing" in the search box and this great blog turned up.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Turns out there are a number of reasons, including the fact that there are quite a few newspapers being published, and quite frequently at that. More papers coming out more often mean more writing opportunities for us freelance writers.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Check out this great piece on why you should try freelancing for newspapers: Newspapers: A Great Source of Freelance Opportunities
If you missed my tutorial series, "Getting Started in the Print Market," it started on Sept. 9 with a short tutorial; the expanded series started on Sept. 15 and concluded on Oct. 4.
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Let me know if you have any questions or if I can be of further assistance to you. I am always happy to help or give free advice.
Friday, October 03, 2008
The final part of getting started in freelance writing is making good use of the Internet. Yes, I know I said I don't advocate the Internet as a direct source of jobs (that's just because my experience with it hasn't been productive and I really think there is some newspaper ink in my blood) but don't ignore the Internet! It's a great source for information, ideas, and networking with fellow writers and even fellow work-at-home writer moms like me!
I have found some websites that have a lot of good information on them. I have compiled a list of helpful websites. My favorite is the message board at www.mommyjobs.com, and then most of the writing sites in my list have message boards as well.
Be sure to take a look at my writing website since it might have some ideas for you. After looking at that you'll see that almost everything I write is human interest. I wrote straight news for so many years and loved it, but this I like even better.
I don't use my writing website as a way to gain opportunities but many writers do advertise their services over the Internet.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Once you get established as a freelance writer it is pretty likely that you'll get more opportunities for work through existing clients. I’ve gotten some of my other work through those first jobs I got. In fact, most of the clients I've had over the past four and a half years have been people I contacted for a story and they later called me to inquire about my interest in freelancing for them.
These clients are wonderful for several reasons -- they come to you, first of all (and best of all) and they are well familiar with your work. You have already sold yourself to them without even meaning to, and they want you! Consider all requests seriously and don't brush any aside, even if you think you already have enough work. They may be able to make it worth your while, or even worth it for you to let something else go.
Follow up on those referrals!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Once you get the first job or two, give preference to the ones who print your work in a timely manner and pay you quickly. All of mine pay within a week of publication and the publication dates are very quick after I submit pieces.
Keep going to the papers in your area until you have as much work as you want or as much as you can handle. Keep an eye out for other publications and contact them if you notice an advertisement for freelancers or even staff positions, or even if you just think you would be a good fit for the publication.
It took me about seven months to get enough work. It took me several more months to let all the other side work I was doing go and just concentrate on my writing. Now I'm four and a half years into freelancing and I can pick and choose what I want to do.
After you get enough work you want to concentrate on keeping it! I am very careful to remain very valuable to my editors. I take great pains to submit very well-written pieces in a timely manner. During my years as an editor at a newspaper office, I greatly appreciated well-written pieces that didn't require a great deal of editing. I always cringed at the pieces that just needed to be completely rewritten. The last thing I want is to make my editors cringe because that means I'll get fewer opportunities to write and they won't call me when they need something done quickly. As it is, they know they will have to edit my pieces very little, if any at all. They know they can assign me anything or call me at the last minute and they'll get a great piece ready to print.
Monday, September 29, 2008
As with getting started on any career path, you need to keep an open mind and be willing to accept rejection. Actually, you should expect it because let's face it, it's going to happen.
My best client came after some negative thinking and then a rejection, in fact. Friends kept urging me to try to work for this newspaper, a large one, but I didn't think I could. Finally I felt ready and then I saw an advertisement for a freelance writer for a weekly advertising section in this paper. It wasn't the dream position, but by this time I just wanted to get my foot in the door with this paper. As the young lady was walking me out after the interview, she said that if things didn't work out with this particular department, I should contact this other certain department.
I didn't get the job I interviewed for so I did contact by phone the other department she mentioned. They did in fact need freelancers and they gave me an assignment right there on the spot. I eventually submitted the requested piece and that led to a stream of assignments that has kept me busy for the last four and a half years.
Another position I got after going into a newspaper office as an afterthought. I was in town on business and we passed right by the newspaper office. It wasn't on my list because at 40-45 minutes from home I figured it was too far away. My husband urged me to go on in with my resume although I did not want to. They had some work for me right then and there.
You just never know what is going to happen.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Pay rates are extremely important to most freelancers, or at least they are to me. In fact, they are the very reason that I freelance.
A newspaper that has some freelance work available probably already has in place a rate that they pay freelancers, but if not, they should be willing to negotiate with you. I have all kinds of rates that I get. One is $1.25 an inch, another is $75 for an 1,000 word cover feature, and another is $50 for about 800 words.
I had one paper that just told me to bill them. I pondered over what to charge for a while and then decided to pitch them the rate I was getting from another paper. Lo and behold, they accepted it on the spot. Several months later they asked me if I could reduce my price, but I had built that request into the original price I requested.
I like to get an average of $15-20 an hour but sometimes it doesn't always work out. At first all that matters is that you are getting paid and then you can figure out an average later and even turn your nose up at some things or pass them off to someone else. Now that is a good feeling.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The next step in getting started in the freelance writing world is to spread your resume around in the hopes of snagging a job or two. My experience has found that this works much better in person. In fact, I have not obtained one single job by emailing my resume. (I hope that changes in the near future.)
With your list of newspaper information, plan a driving trip to the newspapers. Start with the ones closest to your home and go from there.
When it's resume day, just relax, dress nicely, and get your stack of resumes, which by now should be inside the folders with cover letters in front and writing samples in back.
If you are a fumbler like me, carry only the folder with the resume in it and a card inside the office with you. Take a nice big deep breath (or two) right before you walk in the door.
Introduce yourself to the first person who acknowledges you and ask for the editor by name. If it's a small newspaper the editor is most likely there. While the editor is fished out of the bowels of the building (they could be doing anything from typing furiously to trying to get the press running) take another nice deep breath. You need to give off the impression that you are competent, professional, and timely.
Hand the editor your card and your resume and say you'd like to do some freelance work for them. Just like that. Very short and to the point. As in, "I'm Michelle Wallace and I'd like to do some freelance work for you." I didn't say it exactly like that the first time but very quickly learned to do so.
They'll either say they have something or they don't have anything at the time. If they have something for you, express willingness to do whatever is needed without appearing over-eager. The goal is a standing position but a few pieces on a trial basis wouldn't be bad either.
Monday, September 22, 2008
The third thing you need to do to begin work as a freelance writer is find all the newspapers within a reasonable radius and get the name of the editors.
Small newspapers would be the best place to start with this. They are usually understaffed and in sore need of feature pieces, sports writing, and maybe even some meeting coverage although the human interest pieces seem to be the best things to turn over to freelancers.
I had the advantage of knowing the newspapers and their editors already because of dealing with them for many years (and having a state newspaper guide handy), but chances are you know the name of a newspaper or two in your area. Start your list with them.
Go online to www.usnpl.com and click on your state for a list of newspapers. That will not be all the papers in your area, but a look at a regional phone book or a trip to the library should produce the names of some more papers and the names of the editors of the papers. If you are looking at the paper online go to the "Contact Us" tab for names and contact information. If you are able to skim through an actual newspaper, there will be a staff box inside the paper somewhere, maybe on the bottom of the editorial page, that names the editor. If it lists both an editor and a managing editor, make a note of both names. While you're at it get the phone numbers and email addresses just in case.
Make a list of the names of all the papers you can find within a reasonable distance from you and be sure to note the names of the editors.
You're almost ready to go out and distribute your resume. (Yes, you're going in person!)
Thursday, September 18, 2008
A big part of looking for a writing job is presenting writing samples. I can just about guarantee that editors will want to see your work first.
I had chosen several nice pieces that I had written for the paper I worked for and took them with me in newspaper clipping form. Not everyone has these but anything in print is the first preference. But of course many people do not have print samples in the first place. That's what they are out there trying to get.
The next choice for writing samples would be anything published, online or otherwise. Many people have had pieces published online at places like Associated Content, Constant Content, or one of the many tips/how to websites. Print those out on paper if you have them.
If you don't have anything published at all, print out something you have written.
If you need to write something to submit as a sample, here's a story idea: Interview one of your friends who is a community volunteer, a sports parent, a youth group leader, or some other such selfless person in the community. Write the piece in third person with a length of about 300-600 words. Use a program that has spell-check (like Word) and have someone edit/proofread it for you.
Some inside information about print media: Newspaper people think print is the Alpha and the Omega of all mediums. (Now you know where I'm coming from!) Many small newspapers are still run by second and third generation newspaper people who have ink for blood and may be up in years. They tend to view other mediums as inferior and may even be suspicious of the Internet. That's why it's really important to have a sample that has been published in print or at least is physically on a piece of paper.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
For many getting started as a freelance writer seems very overwhelming. It helps to break it down into small steps.
The very first thing you need to do is get yourself ready to market. You need a good resume, a cover letter, a professional looking cover for your cover letter and resume, and some business cards.
When I got ready to go into freelancing, I didn't even have a resume. I had never even so much as prepared a resume before, having been hired straight out of high school (really before). I was completely out of my league in the resume department. My sister and brother-in-law prompted me for things to put in the resume and actually built it for me. Some of my other sisters and my brother looked at it and made some suggestions. Get some help with your resume if you need it and most certainly have it edited/proofread before you present it.
You'll also need a cover letter that says in a few sentences what your purpose is.
There are some good free resources for writing a resume and cover letter. Check online and at the library for them.
Print off several copies of the cover letter and resume and put them inside a clear plastic cover, such as a report cover, or something professional looking like that.
The last thing in marketing materials that you will need is some business cards. Go to www.vistaprint.com and order some of the free cards there. It costs $5.25 to ship them. There are many very nice designs in the free cards.
Now you are ready to collect writing samples. Check back tomorrow.
Monday, September 15, 2008
The print market pays much better than online work and I highly recommend looking into that avenue. I'm doing newspaper feature writing right now along with producing a few newsletters for nonprofit organizations. My background is in the newspaper business and that is what I know, but of course I'm not limited to that. There are tons of publications out there -- newspapers, news magazines, newsletters, and even advertising publications -- that cover all manner of subjects.
When in the freelance job market, many people don't consider the print market because they think they can't do it, or they don't think of it at all. Any writer looking to make a career in freelancing would do well to seriously consider print.
In the next few days I'll share the steps I took to get started as a freelance writer, and I hope that some of the pointers will help you. Please check back frequently as there are several steps, and I'll be posting them one at a time.
Let me know if you have any questions. I am glad to help if I can. Happy writing!
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Here's my short version tutorial on getting started in the print market. It's a bit rough in places, but more details on each aspect are coming in the next several days.
Getting started in the print market (short tutorial)
That's great you're wanting to get into the print market. It pays so much better than online work. I'm writing some newspaper human interest writing right now along with putting together some newsletters for nonprofits. My background is in the newspaper business and that is what I know, but of course I'm not limited to that. There are tons of other publications out there.
Here's what I did to get started. I did have the advantage of 16 years in a newspaper office and my work and I were both well-known but this should still work for you. Find all the small newspapers within a reasonable radius and get the name of the editors. Do up a resume and get a few writing samples together (published if you have any) and go up to the paper office and ask for the editor by name. Have business cards if possible. You can get them for $5 at Vista Print. Have your resume in a report cover or something that looks professional. Hand the editor your card and your resume and say you'd like to do some freelance work for them.
Small newspapers would be the best place to start with this. They are usually understaffed and in sore need of feature pieces, sports writing, and maybe even some meeting coverage although the human interest pieces seem to be the best things to freelance out. Be willing to do whatever is needed. Leave them with the impression that you are competent, professional, and timely. They should have a rate that they pay freelancers but if not they should be willing to negotiate with you. I have all kinds of rates that I get. One is $1.25 an inch, another is $75 for a 1,000 word cover feature, and another is $50 for about 800 words. It just depends. (I like to get an average of $15-20 an hour but sometimes it doesn't always work out. At first all that matters is that you are getting paid and then you can figure out an average later and even turn your nose up at some assignments!)
Keep going to the papers in your area until you have as much work as you want or as much as you can handle. Once you get it going, give preference to the ones who pay quickly. All of mine pay within a week of publication and the publication dates are very quick after I submit pieces. It took me about seven months to get enough work. It took me several more months to let all the other work I was doing go and just concentrate on my writing. Now I'm 4.5 years into freelancing and I can pick and choose what I want to do but I am very careful to remain very valuable to my editors. I’ve also gotten a lot of my current work through those first jobs I got.
I have found some websites that have a lot of good information on them. Here's the link to a list I created. My favorite is the message board at Mommy Jobs, and then most of the links to those writing sites have message boards.
Be sure to take a look at my writing website since it might have some ideas for you.
I really feel like more people would be happy if they would just try the print market. I know I had a big advantage but I think this is very feasible for just about anyone.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
I get asked quite often how to go about getting started in the print market. A while back I composed a very brief tutorial and have provided it to anyone requesting it. Recently I took that brief tutorial and expounded upon it greatly, adding many more details and insider tips.
Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting this expanded tutorial in sections here. Watch for it and check back for new ideas and suggestions.
Friday, September 05, 2008
I raved yesterday about all the advantages of working from home but my answer to the above question is yes!
But on my terms. (Sounds like a work-at-home mom to the core, huh?)
Working outside the home during the day during normal business hours isn't even an option for me right now. I have a baby to care for all day long. I have four kids to get to school and take care of after school. Plus I have a wonderful freelance writing business that has grown tremendously in four and a half years, and the potential for more growth is as big as I want it to be.
But, working during normal business hours isn't the only option out there. That's why I would consider going back to work.
My dream job outside the house would be in a coffee cafe located inside of a bookstore. (It could happen.)
I've worked odd hours before, in particular at a chain sandwich shop, and I'd go back in a minute, mainly for the chance to get out of the house. I'd like to do this when my son gets old enough to be okay with his dad or auntie for several hours in the evening on a regular basis. We'll see about it then; for now I just get to dream about it.
What would you do?
Thursday, September 04, 2008
That would be one of the biggest advantages of working from home.
Here are a few more!
* I take my kids to school, pick them up, and go to the school in the middle of the day for lunch. I'm available on a moment's notice if someone forgets an important paper or gets sick.
* I don't have to fight traffic to get to work. After going to the store this morning after dropping the kids off at school and sitting through I don't know how many lights backed up with dozens of vehicles, I had a brand new appreciation for the term "fighting traffic." I don't ever want to have to do that on a daily basis.
* I can watch TV and drink coffee in the middle of the day if I want. I don't do it a lot, but the opportunity is there.
* I get the shopping and errands done during the day. That is opposed to spending lunch hour paying bills or running off to the store as soon as my husband gets home like I used to when I worked in an office.
* Expenses like the laptop are tax-deductible. Mileage, phone bill, Internet bill, a ream of copy paper ... it's all tax-deductible. What's not to love about that?
What are the advantages of working from home for you?
Ever since I was old enough to hold a pencil, I have been writing. I penned several books as a child, including one that was circulated in all the third-grade classrooms, much to the chagrin of a painfully shy eight-year-old! I scribbled poems throughout my adolescence and was editor of the school newspaper during my final two years of high school.
I got my official start in the newspaper business as a brand new high school graduate in May of 1988. I worked as a writer and photographer and later an editor in the office until December 2003. During these years I wrote news, took photographs, and worked in page design while learning the ins and outs of newspapering strictly by experience.
I started freelancing in January 2004. I began writing human interest pieces for a nearby daily newspaper each week and advertorial material for another area newspaper on a regular basis. Later I began to write feature pieces for that newspaper, too.
In the summer of 2004, I began writing for the state newspaper's three zoned editions that it publishes twice a week.
My newspaper freelancing went smoothly for a couple of years, and then I tossed something new in there -- newsletter production. When I contacted a nonprofit organization with which I was very well familiar from my days in the newspaper office to do a freelance piece, they asked me to consider taking over their quarterly newsletter. Finally, I agreed. A few months after that another nonprofit organization that I got to know as a freelancer asked me about taking over their newsletter, and we got that started. Earlier this year a consultant for two nonprofits contacted me requesting work.
Along the way I acquired another newspaper job (I was referred to them by a current client) and ended two because of the distance; and one of the newsletter jobs was ended for budgeting reasons.
I have to say I never expected to be doing newsletters but it is quite enjoyable because I get to use all my newspaper skills -- writing, photography, editing, and design -- all in one concise publication.
The newspaper pieces are all very enjoyable as well, since I'm writing about wonderful people and places right where I live.
Looking back on my many years of writing, I seem to have let my words take me where they wanted me to go. This has opened up new avenues of writing for me, and I delight in the experience.
Tell me about your work-at-home mom job!
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Aaaah, how I love it.
I wrote books as a child, penned poems as a teenager, and went to work at the local newspaper office as a young adult.
I left the newspaper office four and a half years ago, came home, fired up the Internet, and realized people were writing for websites and getting paid for it.
That wasn't something I was familiar with, but I investigated, emailed a few resumes, and waited. Nothing happened. I didn't pursue it because I was focusing on what I was familiar with, print writing. That was taking off for me.
From time to time I revisit the notion of getting paid to write online, and sometimes I even check the job openings. I have done that a lot the past few months, more so than I ever have before. I finally figured out where to look, I think.
Over the past few months I've probably applied to an average of a job a week online. I've gotten some bites, too, but nothing has worked out. I was accepted to write reviews of books (mainly instructional in nature), but it required a membership and purchase at a popular online bookseller. I didn't pursue the job. I was accepted to write a feature at a site that publishes pieces on interesting and unusual places, with the promise that I could write more if they liked it. I submitted something and my poor piece has been in review for two months now. I was accepted to write for a new national print and online publication, one that I really believed in. Two story ideas and two column ideas were quickly shot down. I decided not to pursue that either.
Not discouraged (much) I continue to peruse the online writing jobs available, but it is obvious what my focus should be: print writing.
Currently I have five clients; all but one contacted me with work proposals. Print work comes easier (for me anyway) and it pays so much better than what I've seen for some online work. Plus, newspapers smell so much better than the Internet.
Monday, September 01, 2008
List #1 is 26 places to find telecommuting jobs. These can generally be completed from anywhere.
List #2 lists places that have jobs that are more area-specific at times, like Craigslist, Morning Coffee, and Freelance Writing Gigs, three of my favorite places to look.
List #3 is niche-based jobs, like journalism.
Thanks Freelance Writing and Allena!
Monday, August 25, 2008
It's a thought-provoking way to get the creative juices flowing and a great idea! I'll post my answers here tomorrow.
In the meantime, be sure to check out the blog of a fellow coffee-drinking writer!
Friday, August 08, 2008
Just as I suspected, I've got my summer break work schedule figured out now that it is time for the girls to go back to school.
Earlier in the summer I was having a terrible time getting everything done and mainly, getting a handle on the stress level. Mondays were extremely overwhelming: it was my first day taking care of five kids by myself plus it was my big work day. On Thursdays and Fridays I just have my three kids, and on Saturdays and Sundays my husband is around to help with all five. Taking care of everyone plus getting the work week off to a good start was just too much for me. I just couldn't handle all of it.
Although I have always scheduled a large portion of my work on Mondays (to get the week going with a bang), I took my little sister's suggestion to not plan to do so much on Mondays but rather, spread it out over the entire week. It took a week or two to figure out how to do that, but I finally got it together.
I actually start working on Sundays. I plan my week, look up phone numbers, email addresses, etc., all the information I need to contact people and set up interviews. I contact as many people as possible by email, which is getting easier because most people have email addresses now and most of the people that I need to contact can be found on the Internet. Before I would do all of this on Mondays. Now when I get up on Monday morning inundated with five children and all that entails, all of my Monday work is done for me. I am still doing a bit of work on Mondays but if I don't get it done, its okay. It almost feels like I am getting an extra day in the week!
I am leaving days later in the week, like Thursdays and Fridays, open for more work. Those days are quieter and much less hectic with only three kids around. After you take care of five kids for five days in a row, three seems like not very many kids! I am also being more open to working in the afternoons.
This schedule is working out wonderfully. I feel much more in control of what is going on, and I feel like I am accomplishing more.
I may keep this schedule with a few minor modifications when the kids go back to school. While I can't work after they get home (it's homework time then!) I can still get my week started on Sundays and spread the work out more evenly over the entire week.
It's exciting to finally get a handle on things although they are going back to school in a week and a half. I hate that it's taken me all summer to figure things out but better late than never. I seriously doubt I could have handled another Monday without totally losing it! Now I like to think I skip them altogether. That's a great feeling.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
There are some really interesting ideas in there, and many of them are geared toward using technology and the Internet.
Whenever I need some story ideas I just ask my husband! ;) I skim through a lot of print publications and a few online ones as well.
I'd love to hear how some of you get your ideas for writing.
Monday, August 04, 2008
150 Writing Resources
Some of the categories for the sites are:
Almanacs (like Answers and Black Facts Online, a good starting point for research though not listed as credible enough to cite as resources)
Citation styles (like APA or Chicago)
Dictionaries (I love my Webster's dictionary and thesaurus that is installed on my hard drive but online dictionaries are very useful as well)
English language skills (like "The Elements of Style")
News media resources
Writing software (like Blogger and Open Office, both of which I love)
Bookmark this list for future reference!
Let's get together!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I actually only need one component of the small business version of Office: Publisher. Everything else on there that I use, which is mainly just Word, is compatible with the free Open Office software I have now. Open Office Writer and Word understand one another perfectly and I am able to use Writer on the laptop and Word on the desktop interchangeably, with no problems whatsoever.
The Publisher component of Office I need for work so I can produce newsletters for a few nonprofit organizations.
A few evenings ago I downloaded the small business trial so I can work on my newsletters on the laptop. The trial lasts for 60 days. If I have really used it on the laptop I will purchase Publisher only. If it has not been of that much benefit I will just let the trial lapse without purchasing the program.
I do love the speed of the laptop and the more programs there are on it, the slower it runs. For that reason I'm putting as few files and programs on it as possible. I'd like to keep it mainly for Internet use. For the times that I need to email files that are on the desktop, I just save them to a CD and pop that in the laptop.
The transition is going well so far, and I hope it continues!
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
You can do a blog, etc. with this and it says there aren't any ads. Your address would be "yoursitename.webonsites.com."
Between that and the no ads feature that is a really great deal, especially compared to other free website hosts like Yahoo Geocities, where your address is something like http://www.geocities.com/smbwallace2003/arkansasprofiles.html and it is supported by advertisements.
I think I'll play around with the site in the next couple of days to see how easy it is. My Arkansas Profiles website, the one with the horribly long Geocities address, could use some updating and maybe the new Web On site would be a good place to put it. Something to think about ...
Monday, July 21, 2008
Many writers are experts in certain areas and write for such trade magazines. They could also be used to expand these areas of knowledge.
For instance, I write about agriculture, housing, and similar topics for nonprofit organizations. I plan to subscribe to several of these magazines that appear to carry information that could benefit me in my newsletter work. I'll report back on the usefulness of the magazines later.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
It has a good bit of useful information that can also be applied to other print medium, like newspapers.
Seeing this mini ecourse gives me an idea of what to do with a piece I've written on how to get a job in the print market. And one of the free ebooks I've posted about recently describes how to set up an ebook!
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Follow that link to About University and you'll find free online classes on every imaginable subject. I had no idea so many online classes were available for free!
Each online course is sent by email daily or weekly and is designed to help you learn a specific skill or solve a particular problem, so says the welcome to About U. Jump in!
Friday, July 18, 2008
The list of universities offering these free courses is pretty impressive:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (mit.edu)
* Introduction to Fiction
* Writing and Reading Short Stories
* Advanced Essay Workshop
Utah State University (usu.edu)
* Intro to Writing Academic Prose
* Intermediate Research Writing
* Technology for Professional Writers
Open University (open.ac.uk)
* Fiction Writing Course
* Descriptive Writing Course
* Essay Writing Course
University of Utah (utah.edu)
* Introduction to Shakespeare
* Introduction to Creative Writing
Western Governors University (wgu.edu)
* Rhetorical and Critical Writing
* Language and Communications
* Literature Course - Parts I and II
Purdue University (owl.english.purdue.edu)
* Pattern and Variation in Poetry
* Proofreading Your Writing
* Conquering the Comma
Steven Barnes' UCLA Writing Course (lifewrite.com)
* 9-Week Introduction to Screenwriting Course
News University (newsu.org)
* Cleaning Your Copy
* Beat Basics and Beyond
* Covering Breaking News
E-Zine University (ezineuniversity.com)
* Writing Clearly and Effectively
* Conquering Confusing Words
* Quick Ways to Clean Up Your Writing
* Introduction to Web Writing
* Technical Writing Courses
* Narrative Dialog Editing
Be sure to check out the listing for more information about these schools and their free classes. I'd like to find the time to take the News University courses along with the E-Zine University offerings.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Free-ebooks.net has a long list of titles on all subjects available for download. The writing section has many e-books available for free. Topics range from writing e-books to finding freelance markets to book self-publishing.
The free e-books are available in several different file types, including PDF, EXE, and zip.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Here's the list:
FREE E-BOOKS FOR WRITERS
Download free e-books to help you become a successful writer and freelance writer.
Can You Read Me Now? How to Use Readability Formulas to Write for Your Target Audience (Free E-Book)
Researchers and writers have been using readability formulas since 1920. Over the years, they have spent a lot of time devising the most accurate and scientific formulas to assess readability. In this free e-book, Can YOU Read Me Now?, you will learn how to use readability formulas on your own materials.
HOW A FREELANCE GHOSTWRITER SAVED MY BUSINESS! (Free E-Book)
Ghostwriters take on the writing tasks of successful marketers and business owners so they can spend more time on marketing! How A Freelance Ghostwriter Saved My Business! will teach business owners and marketers where to find these "mysterious" writers (most marketers won't give up their sources, it's too risky), and how to get their best work out of them so you can explode your business!
BOOK WRITING FOR FUN & PROFIT
Discover how to write your own profitable book and become a recognized expert in your field. In this e-book, you'll discover everything you need to know to achieve your dream of becoming a respected author.
HOW TO WRITE A BOOK PROPOSAL SUPER FAST!
Would you like to GET PAID to write a book? If you're thinking this is plain fantasy, think again. All professional writers get paid to write their books. How? They sell their books via proposals before they write the books. This e-book shows you how to go from idea to completed book proposal in seven short days. (Available in 2008)
FREELANCE POKER WRITING - FREE EDITION
Learn how to make money freelance writing for the gaming industry.
Learn how to make money from home as a freelancer.
THE LOUSY WRITER'S GUIDE TO WRITING PERSUASIVELY
Learn how to write persuasive promotional copy to convert browsers into buyers and boost company sales.
THE ACTIVE AUTHOR'S COPYRIGHT COMPENDIUM
Learn about many diverse topics on copyright law, copyright registration, patent law, and trademark law.
THE ACTIVE AUTHOR'S GUIDE TO COPYRIGHT BASICS
This free e-book will teach you all about copyright protection, how to register your copyright, and how to copyright any creative work.
THE ACTIVE AUTHOR'S GUIDE TO COPYRIGHT RESEARCH
Learn how to search for a copyright renewal in the U.S. Copyright Office online database.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Currently my work computer is a desktop that we bought in 2000 or 2001 (we can't remember which year but either way, the computer has quite outlived any expected lifespan). The monitor is shot (second or third one) and the hard drive is SOOOOOOO slow. I guess that's because it's got seven or eight year's worth of stuff on it.
The last couple of days I've not been able to connect to the Internet on the desktop. That's very weird because I'm connected on the laptop, which of course goes through a router wired to the desktop. At any rate, it's inconvenient because all my files are on the desktop and I need to be able to access them and the Internet for emailing. Right now I am saving my files to a disk and then opening the disk on my laptop. I'm saving them to the laptop for future reference and figure it's time to just transfer all the files I need to the laptop.
There is just one problem. I don't have Microsoft Office on the laptop and I need Publisher. I use that program to produce newsletters for a couple of nonprofit clients. Open Office has solved all the other problems ... Writer opens Word, Calc opens Excel, and so on. As far as I can tell Open Office doesn't have anything that doubles as Publisher. I can get a 60-day free trial of Microsoft Office to tide me over and then I will just purchase Publisher alone. I looked it up when I was getting ready to buy it for the desktop a couple of years ago. The 2003 version of Publisher was $169.
Well as I was typing this post the desktop prompted me to fix the connection between the computer and the router, and now I can get on the Internet on that computer as well. Problem solved.
It's just a matter of time before it happens again so I'm going to continue to transfer my necessary files to the laptop so I can designate it as my official work computer.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
I left the bag in my sister-in-law's truck on Thursday.
I was relieved to see that I hadn't missed any major events since Thursday. I can now proceed to plan the upcoming week and the rest of my life.
Glad that's over!
I first noticed it missing on Friday and gave my desk area a cursory look, and the same goes for yesterday, except I sent my niece outside to look in the vehicle. Nothing.
I last remember having it on Thursday afternoon, when I packed it up in a briefcase bag to go to a meeting concerning work. I took it to my appointment and to my daughter's appointment for sure. Then things start getting blurry. After my daughter's appointment we went to my sister-in-law's house and picked up the other four kids, my other two and her two. I don't recall having it after that, but that doesn't mean anything. I could have left it in her vehicle, which I was driving. I could have taken it into her house and left it. I could have brought it in my house and put it somewhere strange.
I would normally have brought it into the house and sat in near my desk area.
I'm also missing my camera and a notebook that has an important slip of paper -- proof of my daughter's completing her appointment that I must present so she can be paid -- tucked inside of it.
My little purse was stuck inside the bag but I have the purse. So does that mean that I took my purse out of the bag somewhere along the way or that the bag actually made it into the house and got away from me?
Either way, I really need it. I need my planner. I just dug a medium-sized notebook out of my office supply boxes and created pages for the rest of this month. Now I feel like I have some semblance of order restored and I know the direction I need to take for the next week or so but I really need my planner. I'm making out my schedule for this coming week and there could be something already written in there that I need to do!
Saturday, July 12, 2008
I actually outsourced some of my work to a very dependable and trustworthy person (an online friend) for a time but things have gotten so tight around our house lately that I haven't been able to do that in a long while.
If I had my way, I'd outsource some childcare! It's summer break and five kids get under my skin very easily sometimes. I'd let out some of this endless cooking and cleaning, too! But as things stand I must handle all of it plus trying to get some writing done, too.
Strictly job-wise, it might help if I had someone to track down local ideas for me and maybe a bit of looking on the Internet for stuff to fill in. My husband, the charming social butterfly that he is, is actually a very good source of local story ideas. I am able to use most of them sooner or later.
For the most part, though, I handle everything from tracking down ideas, interviewing, writing, changing diapers, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. with no hope of being able to outsource anything anytime soon!
Friday, July 11, 2008
The list includes the normal child care operator and independent distributor that you expect, but there are a few on the list that you don't normally think of when it comes to home businesses for mothers.
Writing wasn't included on the list, sad to say, especially since a lot of moms do that and it really lends itself to working remotely.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
After a lot of thinking about it and toying around with the idea I went ahead and started an account at one of the more popular advertising sites and installed some advertising panes on this site and the recipe blog.
I installed some ads on my history blog, Historical Happenings, but removed them because I felt like they took away from the "old" feel of the blog. I decided not to try to put any on the "mom life" blog since I'd have to do some template adjusting (it's in the old Blogger) or some code deciphering, which I have forgotten how to do.
I'm pleased with it overall but think it needs a bit of adjusting.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
After my son was born I basically ignored this blog and my other one, Living the Mom Life. I had intended to keep up with both of them, especially "Mom Life" since it's about parenting in general and I had wanted to journal all of the wonderful moments with the baby. But those moments came and went and so did my blogging opportunities. A photograph of me pregnant, posted the day my son was born, stayed up for nine long months on my "Mom Life" blog before I made another post. I think I can count on one hand the number of blog posts I made here in all of last year.
I missed it terribly though, and even began to think of starting another one. Ridiculous thought, I figured, but this new blog would be about something I'm passionate about, history, and of course there is no end to new information. (Same with parenting and working from home with kids around and see where that got me last year!)
Despite that fact, I went ahead and started Historical Happenings. I posted there fairly regularly and updated the original two blogs as well, but then that dreaded thing called lack of time and energy happened again, and the posts on all three fell off again.
Summer break happened and I had to start cooking for all the kids and I decided I'd collect easy and cheap recipes and keep up with them -- guess how? -- through a blog!
I Hate the Kitchen was born and along with that, a blogging revival.
I've updated all of the blogs several times a week and some of them daily for a few weeks now. I'm thoroughly enjoying it and really hope I can keep it up. The scheduling feature really comes in handy because I get on a roll on one topic and can schedule posts for days to come. What fun!
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
This site blogs about unusual places with a historical draw. As it turns out I collect this type of information and photographs for myself, so I have a nice collection of it. Some of it I have on my blog Historical Happenings. That blog publishes historical tidbits but I have much more information about the places I've blogged about that I can greatly expand upon for the posts at Bearings.
I'm excited about this and thankful to Writer's Resources for letting me know about it.
Monday, July 07, 2008
I think that's pretty much for everyone. It's just very difficult sometimes to make the transition from relaxing weekend to harried workday.
It's hard for me because I go from having my husband around to help with all the kids (five of them) on the weekends to just me to take care of all of them. To make it worse, Monday is a big work day for me.
I've had Monday set up as a big workday ever since I started working from home five years ago. I was a work-from-home employee for several months before I actually started working for myself. I figured that since Monday gets the work week off to a big start everywhere else, it should likewise get things going in my office. I use that day to contact people and set appointments for the rest of the week and to in general get the work week going.
Tuesday and Wednesday are also fairly big work days for me as well. Things start tapering off on Thursdays and Fridays for me.
This schedule has worked well for me for years but this summer I have felt overwhelmed, especially on Mondays, more times than I would have liked. My sister made a very reasonable observation the other night -- there's no written rule that Monday has to be a big work day; shift some of the work to the end of the week when there are only three kids (mine) here for me to care for.
I've not done much on Thursdays and Fridays (except for write) on those days because I figure people are looking forward to the end of the week and the weekend on those days and I don't really want to bother them. But my very reasonable sister said that most people work up until at least lunch on Fridays.
For some reason that thought was very liberating for me (evidently it doesn't take much). Today I did have a lot of work set up (or from the looks of my planner for today it looked that way) but I stopped and took the girls to a park here in town. (It didn't hurt that I needed some photos of the park for a short piece I'm getting ready to write.) It felt good to not feel so rushed to get so much done all in one day.
Depending on how this new outlook works for me I may begin to schedule some of my work weeks more evenly through the entire week instead of setting up so much to do on Mondays. So far so good!
Sunday, July 06, 2008
The freelance writing blog at About.com is talking about this right now.
I commented on there, and my answer was in the minority.
Basically, I said NO. I am first and foremost a mom who is just trying to work enough to help with the bills and feed the kids, and I just can't afford to give my work away. Exposure, etc. is nice but I can't use that to pay my mortgage and utilities every month. Those companies don't accept that for payment of their services so I can't afford to work for that.
I may have the luxury of being established enough so that I don't have to work for exposure, and I don't knock anyone who does that. I do have a problem with writers selling their work so cheaply that it drives the going rate down for all of the seasoned writers out there. I'm not that high-priced but I believe excellent work such as the kind I produce should be accordingly compensated.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
What this service does is take all the writing and writing-related jobs from renowned job posting sites like Craig's List, Online Writing Jobs, and other sites and presents them to you on a single screen. To make it even better, the feeds lists prints the details right on that same screen so you can just read down the list without clicking anything if the job detail doesn't match what you are looking for.
Here are some of the job sites on the Job Feeds list:
Get a Freelancer
RentACoder (This is great because I never could figure out how to find the writing jobs here)
Online Writing Jobs
Craig's List (This one starts with job listings in New York but there are links to click for other major cities in the U.S.)
Freelance Blogging Jobs
I'm not endorsing any of these sites since I haven't used them all but you may have your favorites and want to go right to them.
Or you could just go to the Job Feeds list and work from there! They're automatically updated!
Friday, July 04, 2008
Recently I griped about the difficulty I've had in opening documents at my two different computers; I've got Microsoft Office on the desktop (my main work computer for now) but not on the laptop. Since I work at both computers I need them to be compatible, but right now I don't want to spend any more money on programs. I can open a Word document on my laptop but cannot copy anything from it or edit it. This presents a problem. I will most likely get Microsoft Office on my laptop at some point in the future, but that doesn't really help me right now.
This evening I ran across OpenOffice.org and saw that you can open, read, edit, and save Microsoft Word programs with the Writer portion of Open Office, which is completely free. (I actually was told about this program over two years ago and I downloaded it but did not install it on my desktop. I don't know why I didn't follow through with it.)
I immediately downloaded it on both computers and l think it is going to solve my problem for now. I set my laptop to open Word documents with Open Office Writer by default, and am saving Open Office documents in RTF format, which seems to work well between computers. I ran a test with the same document and IT WORKS! It opens in Word on the desktop and in Open Office on the laptop. I'm elated.
I also love that it is very user-friendly. Right away I saw how to set Verdana font as my default; I've yet to figure that out on Word and I've been using it for a year and a half. Granted, I'm not the brightest bulb in the box when it comes to stuff like that but I appreciate Open Office Writer for being so obvious with how to do things like that.
Thank you OpenOffice.org for already making my life easier!
Thursday, July 03, 2008
There are free downloads of ideas of how to make money on the weekend and reselling computers. The page also includes articles on job ideas from walking dogs to delivering meals for the elderly to planning meals.
Be sure to take a look!
While you're there hop over to the boards to see what job issues and family challenges we're talking about!
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
For all you work-at-home writer moms like me, there are great listings for getting paid to write, writing greeting cards, and getting paid to blog that you could look into.
And over at the writing board there is a little of everything from blogging ideas, places to submit articles, sites to check out for jobs, and newsletter suggestions.
I hope to see you there!
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
One of the places that I've been looking for jobs is the Morning Coffee newsletter at FreelanceWriting.com.
Also on the site is a Freelance Writing Jobs Feed that posts offerings from a number of sites. I haven't ever used any of those sites but I know writers that have.
The Online Writing Jobs site lists tons of writing related jobs. You can go through them there or through the Online Writing Jobs section at FreelanceWriting.com.
You can post your writing profile for free at FreelancePortfolios.com, and those needing writers can post for free as well.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Here are the links:
Hopefully this list of lists will yield some results for you work-at-home writer moms out there. I have applied for several jobs I've found on these lists and have gotten a few of them. One of them I plan to accept.
Monday, June 23, 2008
List # 4
List # 5
I've been doing some online hunting the past few weeks and really appreciate these great lists. I've posted previously about the other three lists. If you missed it these links will take you to the first three lists.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
So as things are right now I'll have to email myself my Word documents, open them on my desktop, copy the text and email them back to myself if I need them on my laptop.
That's the free solution, anyway. I can also get a 60-day trial of it. I think I'll end up having to buy the cheapest version of it for my laptop.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Microsoft Office Live
I signed up for it today and hope it will help with all the going back and forth between two computers I've been doing lately.
I have a nice version of Microsoft Office (the version with Publisher on it since I use that to create my newsletters) on my desktop computer. Since I got a laptop and then got it hooked up to wireless Internet I've been using the laptop for most of my Internet needs the past few weeks. It's much faster plus the screen looks much better. The monitor on my desktop is shot and the Internet and hard drive is pretty slow since I've got so much stuff on it. But the desktop must remain my main working computer because of Office being on there, plus it's hooked up to a printer.
You upload documents to share on your Office Workspace, so I've put a few things on my workspace, specifically my resume and writing samples documents. I'm not sure if you can edit documents in your own workspace but I imagine I'll find out.
After I've had a chance to better check it out I'll report back on how it really works.