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 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.

Make sure to check out Sarah Ratliff’s blog posts for freelance writing beginners. I tried not to double up on info. She runs a successful writing business called Coquí Prose and loves answering questions!

 

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.

 

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.

About Me, How to

Here are 9 tips that will encourage you to get some work done today

 

I am lazy, but I get paid, otherwise I never would have been able to leave my 9-5 office job. I’ll be honest, though. The first few months that I became a freelance writer, I went crazy. It was joyous.

 

 

 

My dogs became my co-workers. I watched The Office on repeat while I browsed Facebook and Reddit, with numerous Word documents open in the background, pretending like that somehow qualified as work. I wore pajamas five days a week. I rarely left the house even though I kept telling myself (and anyone who would listen) how much free time I was going to have to run errands and keep appointments when I started working from home.

 

But then Thursday would roll around and I would start freaking out because I was going to have to explain to my amazingly patient and unfailingly supportive husband that my paycheck was going to be “kind of small” this week.

 

And then I had to tell him that again the next week, and the next.

 

I kept telling myself that my happiness was worth a smaller paycheck, and making sacrifices. And it was! It still is! But eventually, my sheer laziness caught up with me. Our bills that used to be comfortably paid every month were rolling in fast and furious like a Vin Diesel franchise, and for the first time, I wasn’t sure how they were going to get paid.

 

And it was my fault.

 

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About Me

 

“What do I want to do with my life?”

 

I struggled with that question for three decades. Sometimes, that question was followed by an exclamation point and morally ambiguous shame. Isn’t that what being in your twenties is about? I know that I am not alone.

 

At age 30, after working as a waitress, in tech support, at a tech start-up company, as part of a mad science operation (no, really), and in a bank, I finally settled into the corporate world.

 

I started making double my previous income. It was more money than I had ever earned, even if it wasn’t even that far from minimum wage. I made it all the way to an administrative position at Honda on a high school diploma and a bit of experience in, well, everything. I was comfortable, and I knew that I could work my way up the ladder. I met my husband the same year, and I felt financially stable for the first time in my life.

 

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