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It’s Guest Blog Tuesday!

There are so many writers trying to figure out where they fit in with freelancing. Once they get that part figured out, they usually need to start collecting clips for their portfolio. That’s where my guest writers come in! Every Tuesday I’ll be featuring a new guest post by up-and-coming freelance writing superstars.

If you want to be featured next, send me an email at Chandi@ChandiGilbert.com and tell me what you want to write about.

And now, drum roll, meet Shannon!

Shannon MacDevine started her beauty blog to inspire women through makeup! The first step to being amazing is feeling amazing! Through makeup, Shannon endeavors to help women feel beautiful from the inside out. Stop by Geek the Chic Out to check up on the latest trends, tips, reviews, and much more! Don’t forget to get a shot of inspiration from her “You are beautiful” page while you are there! Visit her blog at www.GeektheChicOut.WordPress.com 

 

Happiness Starts with a Smile

We have all had those days that we are not feeling the self-love, right? Maybe our creative flow is low, we are having a bad skin day, or we put on a couple of pounds. Whatever the reason might be, feeling down on ourselves is going to impact what we are putting out into the world!

As a beauty & fashion writer, I could talk all day long about how to contour like a pro, how to perfectly blend a smoky eye, and how to style your wardrobe for success. With all the knowledge I’ve acquired over the years though, there is one thing I KNOW to be 100% true; if you are not feeling beautiful on the inside, it will never translate to your outside.

It’s all a cycle (bear with me as we peel the onion a bit). To feel beautiful, we have to feel happy. To feel happy, we have to recognize the beauty we all have inside. When we feel happy (deep on the inside happy), what we put out into the world is going to reflect that happiness!

 

 

It took me a long time to realize that I was the only one who was going to take care of my inner happiness.  I was never going to be able to make others feel beautiful from within if I didn’t feel that way either.

So, I started a campaign to make myself happy, and I started with a smile! I would do small things for myself that would make me smile, and it worked!

Here are some things I did:

 

Pretty up those money makers!

As writers, our hands are our lifeline. We are looking at them all day, so why not decorate them? Jazz them up any way you can think of that will put a smile on your face!

 

 

  • Get some pretty temporary tattoos to spice things up.
  • Brighten up your manicure with some fluorescent nail polish.
  • Have a sweet tooth? Grab a Ring Pop or even a ring with some shiny lip gloss.
  • Have hands that are always cold? Find some awesome fingerless gloves and add some big funky rings.
  • Whatever floats your boat! We use and look at our hands all day.  Why not dress them up for an extra dose of smiles?

 

Pamper yourself

Finding the time to pamper ourselves is never easy, but it’s something we should all make room for in our busy schedules. A little pampering lets us know that we are worth the extra effort. As busy profesh writers though, finding the time can be hard, so try these multi-tasking options.

  • Put a great smelling sheet mask on that will make you feel like you’re at the spa.
  • Get a chair massager.
  • Slather some super moisturizing lotion onto your feet and then wear some soft socks over.
  • Or, to really ramp it up, place a tub of warm water on the floor (careful of wires & outlets), add some Epsom salt and your favorite oils, and give yourself a foot bath—trust me nothing is better.

Practical Tip: Use scents like lavender, jasmine, lemon, and rosemary to boost your mood and productivity!

Decorate your workspace

Even if you work at your kitchen table, don’t be afraid to add some sparkle to your work area! Change it up often with things that are important to you.

 

 

  • Support your favorite sports team.
  • Celebrate holidays and anniversaries, every small goal reached.
  • Honor someone who inspires you.
  • Decorating is not only for the holidays. If you give meaning to the decorations you place in your workspace, it will remind you to smile!

Practical tip: Multi-task your decorations.  Store pens, pencils, and lip glosses in holiday mugs, or write inspirational quotes on the outside of your file folders.

Compliment yourself

Complimenting yourself is a huge mood booster, and it’s a great way to make yourself smile! The trick is to really mean it.

 

 

 

You are a beautiful and talented individual. It’s important to tell yourself so! It’s about giving yourself just as much love as you give to others.

Quick DYI tip: Grab two binder clips, and a small dry erase board or chalkboard. Glue the binder clips to the back of the board (on either side) then clip it to your computer. Write “I am awesome” on it. Look at it every day. Repeat it to yourself. Even if you are faking it until you are making it, you’re eventually going to feel awesome.

Feeling happy, and beautiful, about who you are is so much more than wearing a great outfit or having the perfect image. It’s about looking deep inside yourself and knowing you are incredible. Once that happiness is in place, it will be reflected in your career, in your appearance, in your health, and every other aspect of your life.

You never know when your smile will inspire or influence someone else!

 

 

Don’t forget to check out Shannon at www.GeektheChicOut.WordPress.com 

 

 

 

How to

What Can I Write as a Freelance Writer?

ANYTHING YOU WANT!

When I first started writing, I was writing anything I could get my hands on.

I created fake wedding brochures. I created resumes and wrote cover letters. I wrote bios.

The point is, I was doing a lot of different things. Copywriting, content writing, writing that I don’t even know how to categorize…

Anyway, I finally got into a groove with my clients and discovered I am a content writer.

Read on for a break down of the different types of writing jobs available.

 

Writing White Papers

A white paper is a technical document, sort of. These can also be called research papers or case studies. (You’ll learn that there is a fluidity in freelance language.) These are typically written by subject matter experts (SME.) I can’t think of a better way to put than Purdue OWL does…

 

“…the purpose of a white paper is to advocate that a certain position is the best way to go or that a certain solution is best for a particular problem. When it is used for commercial purposes, it could influence the decision-making processes of current and prospective customers.”

If you want to see examples of white papers, google can help. Alternatively, you can visit LinkedIn’s library with tons of examples.

 

Rates for White Papers

I am probably not the best resource for this question. I have never written, nor had the urge, to write a white paper. Because they are technical documents requiring an expert or an expert researcher, you are going to make more money as a white paper writer (probably) than as a content writer.

From what I can find, the rate varies widely from$1200 to $6000 per paper. These papers are probably around 5000 words. (Please remember, this is a very broad overview from someone who is in no way an expert.)

Bylined? Maybe yes, maybe no. Depends on the client.

Ghostwriting

Ghostwriting can be appealing if you’re nervous about having your name out there in the world with your work attached. It’s also appealing because it pays well!

The basic contracts will all state that once you submit your writing, it is no longer yours. You are giving up complete rights to your work. This can pose a few problems.

  • Finding other work without bylines could be hard.
  • You can’t tell even potential clients the specifics of the previous ghostwriting work you’ve done.

However, once you are hired as a ghostwriter and work starts coming in, you can share samples of your work with potential clients (as long as it’s not another client’s work) and you can be specific such as “I’ve ghostwritten a full-length romance novel that has sold over 10,000 copies and has a 5-star rating on Amazon.

Typically, you’re only going to get hired and paid the big bucks as a ghostwriter if you’re already a successful writer with published work under your own name.

Rates for Ghostwriting

Again, ghostwriting rates run the gamut. You can charge hourly ($30-150), or you can charge by word ($1-5.) On the other hand, you can charge by project. A 100-page novel can start at $1200 and go up to $6000.

Bylined? Nope. You’se a ghost.

B2B and B2C

You’ve probably seen this everywhere. It stands for Business to Business. B2B writers are tasked with creating content that helps one business sell their services and products to another business. This would be like a shampoo company selling haircare products to salons.

B2B content is going to sound more professional, and possibly more technical. The material is written specifically for industry specialists, and some research may be required.

A B2B writer also generates leads and creates email campaigns that drive brand awareness. This is the perfect niche for marketers.

B2C is, you guessed it, Business to Consumer. As a B2C writer, you create content for a business to sell their services and products to consumers, or an audience of potential clients. Think of a salon selling their haircutting services to customers.

B2C content is going to be consumer-friendly, devoid of professional jargon. This content is written for the general public, and it explains how readers can benefit from a product.

Rates for B2B and B2C

I’m lumping these together because they are similar in their rates.

The rates for B2B content vary wildly. Do you see a pattern?

First, anything that requires research will pay more. Moreover, if they aren’t paying higher rates based on the research needed, you should kindly inform the client that research-based content requires more work and should, therefore, be paid accordingly.

B2B and B2C content writing rates depend on the length and the project. They can start at $0.25 per word or $150 per 500 words.

The more profitable and high-ranking a company is, the more likely it is that they are going to pay expert rates. If you’re writing B2B content for a local mom and pop business, you’re probably going to make significantly less.

Bylined? Maybe, but probably not. This type of content doesn’t typically have any byline.

 

 

 

Journalism

Journalists write the news. They write for newspapers or websites that report the news. They interview experts or witnesses. They report factual content. Journalists typically make more money than a content blogger. Their work requires lots of research and following up on leads, getting quotes, and maybe even traveling the globe.

Bylined? Big yes.

 

 

 

Content and Copywriting

Content writing is what a blog is. Essentially it’s writing that makes you want to read from beginning to end, hanging around a website longer to see what else they offer. This post that you are reading right now is content writing.

Copywriting is promotional. These are things like banners, or advertisements you get via text. It’s flashy and enticing. It’s what gets you to go the boutique sale or click on the “free assessment” button.

Content and Copywriting Rates

I know the most about content writing rates because that’s what I mostly do. Copywriting rates are lumped with content writing rates because they are similar.

Starting out, you may find companies that use content mills will pay $0.01-0.02 per word. This is common on sites like Steady Content, Textbroker, and Upwork.

There is nothing wrong with finding work on these sites. It’s how a lot of new writers get their start, learn the ropes, and hone their writing skills. You won’t make enough to quit your day job, but it’s a good jumping off point.

Bylined? Maybe yes, maybe no. Usually, if you’re working through an agency, you won’t get a byline. If you work directly with the client, there is a good chance you could be bylined.

 

 

Social Media

Social media managers are typically distinguished from writers because they also schedule content and research social media algorithms and the like. They create popular hashtags and have their pulse on the trends before they become trendy.

More and more, however, I am seeing that clients want their writers to create social media content as well. While you may not develop schedules or research trends, you’ll need to understand what sorts of tweets or Instagram posts will be the most eye-catching and entertaining. (And if they want you to research and create schedules, beware of scope creep!)

Bylined? No. You’re working behind the scenes here, tweeting and posting on someone else’s behalf.

 

 

BEWARE! This is not some be-all, end-all definitive list. There are exceptions to everything, especially when it comes to writing. The freelance writing world is evolving every day.

Some writers consider themselves generalists. They do a little bit of everything. This frees them up to write for a variety of clients on lots of different topics.

Did I miss anything? Let me know what you think.

 

 

About Me, How to

This is going to be a short little post with links to some of the places that I find (or have found) to be most useful in my freelance writing career.

If you have any other additions, questions, or suggestions, please comment below.

 

First of all, everyone should listen to my supremely talented friend, Tamara Gane. She would love to tell you all about The International Association of Professional Writers and Editors (IAPWE).  They got me good when I first started writing, but they only want to take your money.

First up is  Sonia Weiser’s Opportunities of the Week Newsletter. This is the only thing I pay for (besides Grammarly and ProWritingAid.) She asks for $3 a month, or whatever you can afford. I paid for this annually when she gives a discount. This is a newsletter that is full of useful resources and leads for those who are looking for freelance pitching opportunities.

The Freelance Writing Morning Coffee Newsletter used to be much more useful than it currently is. I am a member of several Facebook writing groups, and nearly all my work comes from word-of-mouth. However, this newsletter is a good place to start.

Freedom with Writing sends weekly or bi-weekly newsletters that include lists of blogs that pay and writing contests.

 

 

Remote.Co is a website that was recently brought to my attention. I don’t have any experience with it, but at first glance, it looks pretty legit.  I recognize the companies and the job listings. That’s about all I can say on that.

FlexJobs was a website I briefly subscribed to when I first started freelance writing. I didn’t find much success as a writer on the site, and it seems that they cater to more admin and transcription jobs. They do not have my seal of approval, and I do not recommend paying for a subscription.

Contena is chock-full of remote writing gigs, plus they list contests and other miscellaneous writing opportunities. This website does require a subscription. You can read all about here, where I go into details of the subscription. You’ll have to make your own call on this one.

Listiller is a great resource that not only lists job opportunities for writers; there is also a guest blog directory if you’re looking for that sort of thing.

Some other job boards I have mentioned before:

ProBlogger

BloggingPro

Upwork

Indeed

 

 

Remember you can also investigate freelance writing groups on Facebook and other social websites. Networking is a great way to find new clients.

The more you zoom around online and check out other job boards, you’ll quickly get a feel for what’s going to work for you, and what isn’t. I hope this helped! Send me an email and let me know what you think!

About Me, Being Authentic, How to, Portfolio

When I started my freelance writing business in 2016, I took notes every step of the way. I knew at some point, I would want to retrace my steps and share them with other beginners.

This is not going to be a super long and detailed post. I have too many bullet points to do that.

This is literally every step I took from the very beginning when I was still working a 9-5 job.

The first thing I did was spend some time online perusing job boards like Flexjobs and Upwork. Everyone asks for your portfolio, sample works, URLs to published work. I had none!

So…

 

Step 1. I gathered all of my creative stories and poems that I had. I began fine-tuning them to share with prospective clients. If you’re curious, this honestly never helped me land a gig, but it did help me get in an organized and creative mindset.

Step 2. I combed the web for ideas on what I needed to learn before applying to freelance writing gig postings. I also looked around for where job postings for freelance writers could be found. (Craigslist, ProBlogger, BloggingPro, Contena for a fee)

 

Step 3. I discovered that I would need my own website. At this point, I spent days buying a domain, figuring out hosting options, and beginning to learn WordPress operations.

 

Step 4. I offered my services for free in exchange for testimonials. I told everyone I knew to spread the news. Within a few weeks, I had gigs doing resume writing, writing an article for a hospital newsletter, some website copy, and some proofreading. I even helped an acquaintance write copy for her wedding planning brochure.

 

I really sucked. I had no idea what I was doing. But I did get most of them to give me the testimonials I needed.

 

Step 5. At this point, I knew I would need some help setting up my website. I also wanted someone to teach me WordPress intricacies. I paid someone from Upwork to help me get the basics set up.

I am still learning new WordPress processes to this day. I think all writers should at least know how to upload their own work into WordPress because many clients require their writing staff to do that.

 

Step 6. Then I got on Upwork to find my first gigs. I was still working full-time in an office, and I spent six or seven hours every evening in front of my laptop looking for clients.

I submitted hundreds of proposals in the first month. My first paid job was for $4 to proofread a memo.
Tip: You do not need to pay for extra credits to submit proposals on Upwork. You can submit to plenty of jobs with a free account.

To my surprise, my second client ever on Upwork is still an anchor client three years later. His work allowed me to eventually quit my 9-5 office job.

 

Step 7. I bought a lot of books I didn’t need. The only book I bought that I still use almost every day is a thesaurus; The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale. I bought a used paperback copy on Amazon for like five bucks, and it has never left my desk.

 

Step 8. I used my downtime to create a ton of mock-ups. I created fake wedding brochures, newsletters, articles, things I could add to my Upwork profile.

Step 9. I started understanding the importance of networking with other artists. Everyone always knew someone who was looking to have something written or created. Networking is one of the most important things I did, and still do, every day.

I have gotten nearly all my clients because of networking and forming relationships with other writers.

 

Step 10. Back to my website. Yes, this lovely website you are on now. It took me over three weeks to get my website together exactly how I wanted it. I repeatedly visited other freelance writers’ sites to figure out what I liked and what I didn’t. At the time it felt like my entire freelance writing business hinged on the launch of my website.

It cost me $$$, and I went through five designers before I got the perfect logo. In hindsight, my logo is the least important part of my business.

I love it, it reflects who I am, but no one has ever hired me based on the cool font my name is written in.

 

Step 11. During all of this, I was still constantly networking. I created a Facebook business page. I totally revamped my LinkedIn page. I joined Twitter.

I spent time on LinkedIn connecting with people and groups. I asked for recommendations from former co-workers. I spent time learning, listening, and asking.

 

Step 12. I enrolled at the University of Chicago to receive an official editing certificate. I use that information on my resume and in cover letters, but beyond that, it has literally never gotten me a job.

If you’re wondering if you need a degree or certification to get freelance writing work, you don’t. Clients will hire you based on the work you can show them. This is not accounting for certificates that promote SEO skills and things like that, however.

 

Step 13. I had been working towards building a freelance clientele for about a month, and I was still working my 9-5. I installed a landline and had fun creating business cards. I also bought a super professional headset.

Looking back, it was more exciting to plan than to actually do. I bought fun things, created logos, and business cards. It gave me the illusion of working towards my goals, but the reality was that I should have used that time and money to actually search for work.

 

I never once used my landline or headset, and I think I handed out ONE business card ever.

 

Step 14(ish). I don’t want you to think I am discouraging you from reading helpful books or taking worthwhile I read everything I could find on building a good portfolio, cold calling, cold emailing, pitching, etc. But there was no need for me to spend thousands of dollars trying to prepare myself to become a freelance writer.

All the preparation you need is in practice. I always say that talent and passion cannot do what practice can do.

 

Step 15. I did sign up for a free trial of Profinder on LinkedIn. I found one small client on there for a one-off job. Then I forgot to cancel my membership before the trial was up and they ended up charging my card $99 for about six months before I caught it. They do not refund money.

I tried finding local businesses who might need copywriting services, but I live in a small town, in a rural area. I decided to turn my attention to the internet only. It was a good

 

Step 16. I used Medium to publish some sample work, and I even posted my samples on my LinkedIn profile. (In upcoming blog posts, I will share a list of places to publish your work.)

Step 17. I used a Contena coach to help me fine-tune my pitch and create appropriate samples for potential clients.

This was when everything finally started to click. I started getting responses from potential clients. At this point, I had no bylines and nothing I could show except for my Medium article/s and samples I created.

It was enough for most clients, and I finally got my first byline after about five months of starting the whole process.

I always say that talent and passion cannot do what practice can do.

 

Final thoughts/things I wish I knew then:

I wish I wouldn’t have spent so much time, energy, and money on things that don’t really matter. Those things were business cards, a landline, my logo, books about writing, and more.

Spend your time on networking and perfecting your pitch. If you really want to spend money on something, look into SEO classes, or learning about WordPress.

 

I hope my timeline helps you figure out what comes next for you. Are you stuck on something? Let me know in the comments.

 

How to, Portfolio

Specific Steps to Finding Your Niche as a Freelance Writer

Let’s get straight to it. There are two things you can focus on while trying to find your niche.

  1. Your profession

  2. Your passion

Working at Honda, I became friends with many Japanese men and women. They taught me all about Ikigai. It’s a bit more complex than two circles with Passion+Profession=Dream Job.

What are you good at?

Before we even dig into your career, what is something you are just really good at? It doesn’t mean you like it, love it, or want to write about it. It is something you want to take into consideration though.

I am really good at public speaking and leading large groups of people. Do I love it? Nope.

But I can write about it!

Ask yourself what you’re really good at. Make a list. Be general, be specific, be both!

Here are some ideas.

  • Baking

  • Scheduling appointments

  • Changing a diaper

  • Singing

  • Making coffee

  • Data entry

  • Coloring hair

  • Creating spreadsheets and macros

  • Predicting the winner of MasterChef

This is simply a way to get your brain thinking about how awesome you are. Start your own list. You may not like doing the things on your list, but you can write about them!

Your Profession

Or let’s just call it your experience. Before I became a freelance writer, I didn’t feel like I had a “profession.” In fact, this is the first time in my life that I can confidently say “I am a writer. This is my career.”

Look at your resume. What does it say about you? Are you an expert in writing classroom lessons for elementary-aged children? Maybe you know everything about public speaking. Whatever your expertise is, your resume should reflect that.

If your resume has a lot of different jobs, that’s okay too. Before I became a freelance writer, I was:

  • A waitress

  • A cosmetologist

  • Tech support

  • Receptionist

  • Office manager

  • Loan officer

  • Human Resources something-or-other

  • Training and Development Coordinator

So don’t fret.

What did all of those things have in common?

COMMUNICATION

When people would ask me what my career was, I didn’t know how to answer it. Not until I was 35 freaking years old. But I was good at communicating which was an important part of my job in each one of those professions.

What is the underlying connection on your resume? Maybe your expertise is actually finding new career paths or writing killer resumes. Or you’re an expert extrovert.

If it isn’t obvious at first, take some time to think about what your resume says about you.

Your Passion

This one is probably a little easier. What do you wish you could be paid for? I would joke and say too bad you can’t get paid to lay out in the sun on a tropical beach, but companies are hiring traveling writers every day!

 

If neither your passion nor your profession is the direction you want to go, be willing to learn new skills. Be willing to get feedback. Be prepared to invest time and energy in yourself.

If you want to write in-depth, well-researched blog posts about cruelty-free skincare products (there’s a niche for ya!) be willing to learn proper research methods. Seek out companies that are at the top of their game in the skincare blogosphere. What is working for them? Follow their lead.

Dig Deep

Maybe you don’t have a lot of time to devote to yourself or to commit to making a jump into freelance. Parents who work full-time probably understand this.

You think to yourself, It’s been ten damn years since I had time for a hobby, or I don’t even know what interests me anymore!

Listen, even TV binging is a hobby, so don’t freak out. Do you know how many companies are seeking entertainment recappers and reviewers?

Addicted to social media whenever you have a spare moment? If you know the ins and outs of Snapchat, Twitter, Insta, you’re already ready to write social media posts for money.

Do you spend your spare time budgeting your bank accounts on spreadsheets and researching the best apps or credit cards? THERE. ARE. CLIENTS. LOOKING. FOR. YOU.

You like writing Yelp reviews, or Amazon reviews, or talking about every book you read…all of these things count.

Now, I will give you one warning. Personally, I never believed anyone when they said this. I did find out for myself though.

When you hear, “Make a living doing what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life,” please know that it is utter bullshit.

Anytime you monetize doing what you love, it can become tedious and stressful. Suddenly I have to write about how to split up finances during a divorce and the deadline and looming and why oh why can’t I focus?!

So, my warning is this: You may end up trading your passion for a paycheck.

You can avoid this by properly structuring your time and keeping some things separate. (I’m going to post a blog soon about how to schedule your days for maximum happiness.)

I may have veered a bit off topic, but let’s keep going.

Ask Yourself Why

  • Why do you want to be a freelance writer?

  • Who do you want to help with your freelance writing?

My want came from desperation to leave a job that was injuring my mental health and killing my spirit. Now, that’s obviously not something I would tell a potential client. However, it is part of my story, as you can see here and here.

But it created a motivation to find clients and put myself out there.  (That’s hard enough, amirite?) I wrote a bunch of sample articles on being a good customer service representative, and how to create lasting leadership in the workplace.

I realized I wanted to help ME and people just like me! I discovered that I love writing how-to blogs like this one, and like this.

As you create these lists on paper, or in your head, you should start to see a recurring theme. This should get you headed in the right direction.

Your Niche Must Be Relevant

Relevance is subjective, but what I mean is this. If you plan on pitching your writing to potential clients or publications, they probably don’t want a piece on Y2K. You have to keep up with trending topics.

However, if you’re looking for content writing, you’ll need to make sure you understand the basics of what most clients need right now. Understand what search engine optimization (SEO) is. Have a basic understanding of how driving traffic will help a business grow. Learn a little bit about WordPress. (Some clients want their writers to be able to upload their own articles onto their website. My next blog will focus on websites and WordPress.)

Go to Glassdoor or Indeed. Search for “writer” and take a look at qualifications and requirements. You’ll start to see a recurring theme there as well. It should give you some indication of the relevant knowledge and skills you’ll need moving forward.

You may get hired for a job that, at first, doesn’t seem to interest you. Perhaps you find that as you write more on the subject, and learn new things, you actually really do like it!

For example, my friend Amy was desperately seeking any freelance writing job that would pay her. She found a client who wanted her to write about toilet paper.

Oh, how we laughed!

But you know what? Three years later, she still writes for the same client, and she knows everything about toilet paper! She truly loves being a toilet paper guru! And now she is an expert in eco-friendly supply products, cleaning products, janitorial services, and more. She has so many high-paying clients now all because she took a job writing about toilet paper.

So if you are just jumping in head-first, you might find your niche without trying. If you can’t figure out where you belong, try everything!

Let’s Recap!

What am I really good at?

1.

2.

3.

What do I know a shit-ton about?

1.

2.

3.

What kinds of experience is on my resume?

1.

2.

3.

What could I talk about all day long?

1.

2.

3.

What are my hobbies?

1.

2.

3.

Okay, so where is the crossover? Is there a theme coming forward?

I want you to comment and tell me if this was helpful. If it wasn’t, tell me exactly what you want to answer, and I’ll make the edits to this post and give you credit!

 

 

Maybe a niche isn’t for you. Maybe you are a generalist like me. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s a bad idea. The people who are telling you that you must find a profitable niche are the people who are already making big bucks in their niche! Of course, it’s working for them!

Never compare yourself to any other writer. It’s poison. Do what works for you and fuck the rest.

How to

3 Things I’ve Learned as a Freelance Writer

Have you been trying to figure out how to be a freelance writer?

It was only a few years ago that I left the full-time grind. Now when people ask me “What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done,” I don’t need to search for an answer.

THIS.

So, while I feel brave and I love my life, the first six months were pretty rough. Here are three things that might help you in deciding if you should become a freelance writer.

1. You need a workspace.

No joke, it took me seven and a half months to finally take the advice that literally every successful blogger has shouted from their rooftop. For the first seven months, I woke up every morning, planted myself on my comfy couch, and got to work.

Except it was more like 73 seconds of work and then two episodes of MasterChef. Rinse, repeat, day after day.

That doesn’t necessarily mean I wasn’t getting anything done. I always finished my paycheck work, even though I would last-minute scramble at the end of every week. I tried making time to send proposals or get my guest posts sent to prospective bloggers, but I inevitably felt like I had no time.

But People.

Peeeeople.

I sat on my couch all day, in my pajamas, eating and watching TV and sometimes throwing in a little work. I had nothing but time.

I wasn’t being honest with myself because I preferred comfort to honesty. I wasn’t getting anywhere with my career. I was not willing to exchange my career for 68 Jenna Marbles YouTube clips.

At first, I tried making myself a little Excel spreadsheet schedule. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to advance my career, it was just that I didn’t know I had to get off my couch to do it.

I spent a lot of time reading successful bloggers posts with lists of do’s and don’ts. One “do” that was ever present on everyone’s list was to use a dedicated workspace. I didn’t think it mattered that much.

I was SO wrong.

Over this past summer, I rebuilt my home office from floor to ceiling.

And I have to tell you something. I have not been this productive in my career of freelancing. Let me tell you what I’ve been able to get done since then, just by moving my ass and my laptop to a dedicated workspace.

  • I’ve picked up more clients than I can handle and even became a mentor and coach to other freelance writers.
  • I’ve reignited my passion for creative writing and have been submitting short stories to journals.
  • I send proposals five days a week to potential clients.
  • I take classes to up my game in branding and blogging.
  • I upped my social media game.
  • And more stuff that is less interesting.

 

I wish I had known the impact of a dedicated space eight months ago. But I know now, and every evening I make sure to get all of my work done, I close my laptop, and then retire to the couch with my husband, ready and able to fully focus on disconnected family time. (BONUS!)

 

 

2. You have to be social as fuuuuuck.

 

I used to scoff at the job listings for “Social Media Coordinator” because I thought to myself how hard is it to keep up a Twitter account?

I was so wrong, and I am eating my words, and I apologize to all social media superstars out there! I am so sorry. I had no idea how time-consuming social media is when you are building a business or brand.

Did you know you have to actually BE social, and not just promote yourself? I didn’t. Not at first. But now I am working on truly connecting with other writers and cool people.

I can tell you with confidence that if you are creating a freelance schedule for yourself, you need to block off one entire day to devote solely to social media.

 

3. You do not need to keep spending money to make money.

I wasted a lot of money on things I most definitely did not need in the first six months of freelancing. I spent money to join certain groups that I hoped would lend me credibility, like the Editorial Freelancers Group. It’s nothing against any of the groups themselves.

I am a leaper. I never look. Most times it works out for me, so I keep doing it.

Leaping into financial stress was not a good idea. I paid for so many subscriptions that I  didn’t need because I thought that was the only way I could find decent work. It’s not! There are so many ways to find jobs without paying a dime. 

You don’t need to start buying fancy software, or fancy graphics. The only money I needed to spend was to launch my website. I think website hosting costs something like three dollars a month.

It’s like taking your SATs after you’ve gone and bought a fancy laptop to study, and pricey fountain pen to circle your answers. Those things are nice on their own if you can afford them but they are not necessary to ace the SATs.

Okay, recap!

Treat yo’self! To a private work area.

Start connecting with other people in your niche and remember, GIVE TO GET. You give first, you get second.

Keep those dolla dolla bills, ya’ll.

I’m thankful it ONLY took me seven or eight months to learn these things (and I consider myself a fast learner!) Get excited about social media and reading other cool blogs and sitting at a badass boss desk and saving your money!

These are three basic steps to being successful in your freelance journey, and I hope you consider it the bravest thing you’ve ever done.

How to, Portfolio

First Steps to Becoming a Freelance Writer

Do you feel it? I felt it!

It’s the freelance writing life, whispering your name.

I have tons of advice and info to share with you on getting out there and making it happen. With clients of my own, sometimes it’s hard to find time to sit down and reply to emails that don’t require my immediate attention.

But I want to let you know something important. Your emails this week, and last month mean the world to me. I read them all. Every single one warms my heart.

I see you. I hear you. I am here for you!

The very first thing I did when I decided I needed to leave my corporate desk job was TELL. EVERYONE.

I told everyone that I was attempting to make a jump into the world of freelance writing.

Tell people about your plan and ask them to share the news.

First, that’s what’s going to make it feel real. You’ve put it out into the world, and now you can’t take it back.

Next, you have to make it happen. The second thing I did was go through my Facebook friends list and ask anyone if they had any writing that I could do for them.

I offered to write or rewrite wedding brochures, website content, newspaper articles, anything at all that I could put in my portfolio.

I offered them my services for free on one condition: They had to leave me testimonials. I needed proof that my work was good!

This led me realizing I wanted a website of my own.

I am going to write another piece next week on how I built my own website with no experience, but for now, we’re going to skip ahead to your portfolio.

Your Portfolio

This is a collection of your work that you will use to showcase your skills. If you have no bylines* (and if you’re brand new to the industry, you probably don’t) you can create sample work.

When I started, I created a fake wedding brochure, an article about the customer service industry, and a pop-culture piece on Tyra Banks. I put these in my portfolio.

I would recommend you choose one lane and stick to it. I was all over the place in the beginning. 

*A byline is exactly what it sounds like: A BY line. By Chandi Gilbert. There’s my byline!

 

Finding a Niche Versus Being a Generalist

If you’ve been googling how to become a freelance writer with no experience, you have probably seen a dozen articles on the importance of finding your niche.

If you have a niche, that’s great! If you don’t, that’s great too!

Are you an expert in anything?

Many freelance writers have a niche or an area of expertise. Some writers call themselves generalists and are open to writing about many topics. There are pros and cons to both.

How to Find Your Niche as a Freelance Writer

Answer this: What subject do you know a lot about? Be very specific. (For example, I love jewelry, but I really love talking about how certain gemstones look on different types of metal.) You know more than the average person when it comes to THIS.

And now: What subject do you love to talk about? You could happily write about THIS and never get bored.

Your next step should be to visit websites that appeal to your niche. Find out what they are missing. For instance, you might find that a company doesn’t have a blog. This is where you make your move. You’ve successfully found a gap in the market.

If you find that your niche seems too specific, and you aren’t finding gaps in the market, it’s time to broaden your search. OR this could be the perfect opportunity to create your own market for your specific niche.

Your Expertise + Your Passion + Gaps in the Market = Your Niche

 

 

Being a Generalist Freelance Writer

This is who I am. A lot of people out there will tell you that you won’t succeed unless you have a niche.

That’s not true.

Many clients seek out generalist writers who are comfortable writing about any topic.

I have a long list of credentials and areas of expertise now that I’ve been a generalist writer for a while.

I can look at a job board and comfortably apply to five or six jobs in different areas because I am a generalist writer. I love learning new things all the time.

If you don’t enjoy researching new subjects, being a generalist writer is probably not for you.

Either way, there is plenty of work for both types of freelance writers.

Do I Need a Blog to Become a Freelance Writer?

No. But could it help? YES!

I get clients simply because they like my blog. 

If you decide to start a blog, focus your efforts on creating content that shows your writing style. There are a lot of clients that don’t care if you have nothing in your portfolio as long as they can see something you’ve written. Also, keeping an active blog shows that you work consistently on your craft.

What if I Don’t Know What to Write?

Ask yourself what your ideal workday looks like. If you like the idea of working virtually with others during set times (like Monday through Friday, 9 to 5), there are lots of clients who are looking for you.

Maybe you want to be able to take a break every hour, noodle around the house, only work from midnight to 3 am…there are plenty of clients who don’t care what you do or where you are as long as you get your work done.

There are lots of different types of writing for freelance writers.

  • Whitepapers
  • Press releases
  • Blogs
  • Social media posts
  • Ghostwriting
  • More!

(If you want me to explore all these types of writing jobs, send me an email or leave me a comment!)

Your Internet Presence

I’ve said it before: I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I just don’t get pleasure from those kinds of interactions. HOWEVER…as a freelance writer, you must have an internet presence, specifically on social media. Eight times out of ten a client will request that you include social media links in your resume or cover letter.

It’s time to take a serious look at your internet identity. For instance, if you want to be a serious, white-paper-writing professional, make sure your public persona reflects that.

My persona is really just me being me. That’s how I sell myself. My smile is my tagline. My whole brand focuses on being genuine.

Whatever you want to convey to potential clients, make sure your photos, bios, tweets, etc., reflect that.

The other significant reason I keep a social media presence is for networking opportunities. I have a wonderful network of friends in some of my Facebook groups. I’ve found a lot of work that way.

To wrap up this blog post, I will leave you with some links to my favorite job boards.

BloggingPro

ProBlogger

Indeed

Craigslist in your local area

Upwork (Where I got my start and still find work)

 

My next post will go into whether or not you need a website as a freelance writer.

What else do you want to hear about? I want to hear all about it! (Ya’ll have been great about emailing me lately and telling me exactly what you want to know! I LOVE IT!)

About Me, How to

Over the last few months I have been tasked with writing health and fitness articles. This is a new frontier for me. I found the work to be difficult and, at times, agonizing.  (I’m not dramatic or anything.)

Last week I was at my breaking point. I wanted to throw in the towel. I thought this work is not worth my happiness. But as I was complaining to my ever-patient husband, he offered me a neat little idea. He told me to pretend I was someone else while I was writing the health articles.

And so it is my pleasure to introduce you to Daphne Dilbert, Diet Diva.  Daphne is married to Darren Dilbert, Drama Director. She loves puns and alliterations. She is a total yoga-nut, and she eats her probiotics every day. Yogurt is her favorite snack. She loves reading scientific journals to learn new things about the human body. 

She is really quite annoying.

But you know what else she is? A great health writer.

Channeling Daphne has renewed my excitement and energy for my writing. I actually enjoy reading the health journals and writing about HIIT workouts and the benefits of cannabis oil. I am already using my alter-ego less and less. She renewed my positive attitude.

So, if you’ve ever found yourself hating your work and still needing to pay your bills, create a new character. You can be whoever you want to be while you write about motorcycles, or cats, or nostalgic music trends. 

In the end, it’s all you, baby.

P.S. Daphne really loves helping others gain confidence and build healthy habits.

Gag.

Being Authentic

 

I am so tired of seeing self-described helpful websites and blog posts that put me inside a box. It makes me sad to see people trying to conform to the ideals of others because they think that is the only path to success. I see it all the time.

 

Don’t use the word sincerely.

Never say sorry.

Be bold or stay invisible.

Don’t send a thank you note until the third Monday of a waning moon.

 

Fuck ALL of that.

 

My authenticity is more important than anyone’s rules. (So is yours.)

I use the word sincerely because I am SINCERE. (And maybe you like ending every email with “Cheers.” Live your life.)

I say sorry when I am apologetic. (Just be a damn human.)

Being me is being bold. Being yourself is being bold.

I’ll send a thank you note anytime I damn well please, and I’ll send other notes just because. (I. LOVE. STATIONERY. And I love saying thank you. And please. I like using my manners!)

 

Be yourself, and you will attract the people you are supposed to attract.

 

Let’s be real. Do you WANT to work with someone who places the importance of rules over genuine human interactions? I don’t.

Don’t fall into a rabbit hole of how-to guides and start second-guessing everything you’ve done, and worrying about all the things you have to change.

Don’t change. Hone your talent, improve your skills, but don’t change the wonderful, incredible, awesome things that make you who you are.

You’ll never have to remember tips or tricks if you rely on the truest version of you.

 

Guest Post

(Lori Myers writes engaging content and customized resumes with the goal of perfecting keyword saturation. Her mission is to save princesses and play Super Nintendo like it is still 1994. Connect with her at www.resumescoach.net or on Facebook.)

You have been writing for hours every single day, but today is different somehow. No matter how many times you stare at your blank screen, the words never come. If you are a writer, you have certainly been here before.

Your to-do list is a mile long, and the dishes are piled up. You try to focus, try to think exclusively about your topic, but all you can think about is the bills that are due tomorrow and if you remembered to order more printer ink.

You are experiencing the bane of every writer’s existence, the thorn in each of our sides.

What you are experiencing is stupid writer’s block.

If you are not the holistic type, you will be thrilled to know that the road to inspiration and motivation is not always filled with meditation, tea, yoga, unicorns, or even rainbows.

For me, the road to inspiration and motivation is found only in video games.

Whenever lackluster writing and anxiety-induced procrastination strike me, this magical, miraculous cure spurs me into action. In fact, even without being caffeinated, video games are usually enough to spark an idea or ten far quicker than something significantly more awe-inspiring. Here are five ways in which video games assist in blocking my writer’s block.

  • Being a video game hero means you can also be your own. I like to think that princesses do not actually need a hero to save them. I use my anger and will to destroy the patriarchy and get to work on saving video game princesses from whatever evil villain is holding her captive. I imagine every video game kidnapping victim as simply needing help in breaking the glass ceiling. Once the end credits start, I urge myself to rock whatever needs to be written like the badass that I am.

 

  • Gaming gives me focus. Whenever life’s distractions get the best of me, I give myself the gift of playing a game. While games are considered immature at best, the focus it gives me helps me to hone in on whatever task needs to get done. A role-playing game is best for regaining my focus, as the many puzzles, mini-games, and castle bosses help me to tackle many smaller tasks just like in real life. This works for me to get things done instead of letting my anxiety pull me in a million different directions.

 

  • Video games calm my anxiety. If you have ever received a rejection, you know what imposter syndrome and anxiety can do to your professional confidence. Video games, although obviously not real, give me a sense of accomplishment that I then transfer to an assignment.

 

  • Video game plots replicate the monotony of writing. Writing content can be tedious and may become monotonous, particularly if you are writing content or copy about the same exact thing over and over in one day. With video games, you are performing the same moves, the same jumps, and the same tasks repetitively throughout, just with a slightly different goal or path along the way. Playing a game somehow gives me the creativity to write about the same exact topic for the umpteenth time but with a different spin.

 

  • Losing lives can make me angry enough to complete my work. Sure, there are times where I have been tempted to chuck my vintage SNES controller across the room. After seeing that the game is over because my character ran out of lives, I take my frustration and churn out tons of anger-fueled content instead. No word yet on if this is emotionally healthy, but it works.

 

  • My writing is better after a game session. Writer’s block is not always the problem. I recall several instances when I have written something, but my brain wasn’t functioning at its full capacity and what I wrote was far too horrible to turn in. Whenever I finish gaming, my words flow well together and are nearly Shakespearean in comparison to my pre-gaming content.

 

Writer’s block may cause your mind to wander towards the overflowing hamper of dirty laundry, or even to scheduling the dentist appointment you have been putting off for weeks. Sinister anxiety may creep up with its best friend, imposter syndrome, just in time to tell you that your words and ideas are not good enough, further causing the creative juices to drain right out of you.

You are good enough. Your ideas are brilliant, even if so-and-so said they do not have the budget for a freelancer right now after agreeing to pass along your pitch. Laundry, dishes, and that article can wait. Right now, it is time for you to play a video game.