I thought I would try something different for this post. I found about this new tool that lets people make their own animated movies. I made my own short film about staying motivated when you are looking for freelance writing gigs. Hope you like it!
Archives for September 2009
A resume is an important job search tool for freelance writers. Not all prospective clients ask to see one. For those clients who do, we want to present ourselves in the best possible way, and an updated resume is a must if we want to do that.
How often should this important document be updated? Ideally, you will update your resume when you have new experience or updated skills to add to it. I’m the first person to admit that I’m not always right on top of things when it comes to my resume. I do take a look at it very few months and make changes as necessary, though.
When you take a look at your resume, do more than just add your new experience to it. Go through the whole document carefully. You may want to make changes in the way you have described your previous work experience or other parts of your resume. As you add more freelance writing work experience, you may want to shorten or change the descriptions of your previous employment experience to keep the employer’s focus on your experience with writing, editing, blogging, etc.
If you have been applying for a lot of freelance writing gigs that you feel you are a good fit for but you aren’t getting hired, it may be a sign that you need to revamp your resume. This document may be the only opportunity you get to show a potential client who you are and what you can do for them, and you need to make sure that you make the best first impression you can.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve gone over your resume, review it and make changes as needed. This step is just as important to your business as any of your other marketing efforts.
There are times when you have an article finished and you wonder if you’ve really done the piece justice. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:
5. It has great sources.
Great sources include leaders or well known folks in the field, interesting subjects that give a personal perspective to the piece or sources with something new to offer on an evergreen topic. Great sources have been vetted, they provide accurate information and there’s a demand for the information they are offer.
4. There are no holes.
All the questions have been answered – the ‘why’s’ and ‘why not’s’ researched and the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘where’ and ‘when’ exposed. Attention has been paid to the audience and what they want to know.
3. It’s been thoroughly edited.
2. It has a killer lede (lead).
The kind of lead that stops you in your tracks and pulls you in like an ant at a cook out. The lede (lead) is catchy without being cliche, makes the reader think and stops the reader from turning the page.
1. You know it’s awesome.
Writers know when they’ve given an article their best. They know when a turn of phrase is magical or when an interview subject has just given the pull-out quote. It’s almost orgasmic when a piece or a lede seems to write itself, flowing from brain through fingers and out onto the computer screen. It is equally satisfying when an article is hard won. It’s a fight between the writer and the words and only one can win. The struggle to get every transition smooth, every bullet point packed with succinct information and finally, finally, victory. An article is good when there’s no need to see the score, you already know who won.
As writers, we have to be really careful about the message we send with the words we choose. That’s not to say we don’t appreciate a good metaphor from time to time, but if we’re not pretty clear about what we’re trying to say, then we’re probably also not going to get paid.
Visual artists, on the other hand, seem to have a little more wiggle room when it comes to interpretation. I’ve recently been seeing quite a few of these “Literal Translations” of music videos, and some of them are really good. Today I’m introducing you to one that actually made me laugh out loud a couple of different times.
Hope you like it!
*If any of my real-life friends or family are reading this, I’ll bet you thought it was going to be yet another one of my rants about people who misuse the word “literally.” Don’t worry. I suspect that post is still forthcoming. 😉
When it comes to looking for freelance writing job opportunities, I’m of the “Leave No Stone Unturned” school of thought. Along with checking out job postings and preparing pitches for potential clients, you may want to consider signing up for Google Alerts.
The process is very easy. You visit the Google Alerts page and fill out the online form indicating whether you want to receive Alerts from Google News, the Web, blogs, or groups. Choosing “Comprehensive” gives you Alerts from all sources.
Next, set up the frequency you would like to receive Google Alerts. You can choose to get them once a week, once a day or as-it-happens. I would suggest as-it-happens so that you get leads sent to your promptly.
I use “freelance writer” as my search term because I want to see all the results with that phrase. If I chose “freelance writer wanted,” or something like that, I would be limiting myself to Alerts with that particular phrase. Keeping it simple means that I get updates that include job leads, news about freelance writers, as well as links to some wonderful blogs written by my colleagues.
If you are open to turning over a few rocks on your search for freelance writing jobs, you may end up finding a diamond or two for your trouble. Have you tried setting up Google Alerts as a job search technique? How has it worked out for you?
I got a great question from a FWJ follower & thought it would make a great post. Aja writes:
I am not sure if this fits with your query tip column or not. I know that most queries include information on who will be interviewed for the article but at what point do you line up the interviews? Do you contact the person prior to submitting the query and ask whether they would be be willing to be interviewed and conduct the interview after the article is accepted, do you interview the person first, then submit the query, or do you pitch the article based on who you would like to interview and then contact that person. Thank you for reading my question.
I always contact a source before I include them in a query. Even if you have a relationship with the source, it is always good form to get their permission first. Deciding to conduct the interview before sending out the query is really up to the writer. In my query letters I usually introduce the source(s), give a wee bit of background information like their area of expertise, i.e. the name of their new book or other information to show how they are connected to the article and sometimes I include a few sample questions.
Sometimes you are not able to land the source before you want to send in your query. It is okay to list a few people you’d like to contact, but make sure you make it clear you haven’t spoken with them. If you are unable to land them after you’ve been given the assignment, be sure to update your editor and provide an alternative and comparable source. This scenario can get a little complicated if who you said you’d be interviewing is the key reason you scored the assignment.
If you do interview a source before getting the assignment approved, make it clear to them that you are shopping the article around. The worse thing you can do is give the impression that the article has already been assigned. If you tell a source you hope to have the article placed in one magazine, but wind up selling it to another, make sure you update them. Some sources have issues with certain publications and it just makes sense to cover all your bases. Hope this helps and thanks for the question Aja!
Got any advice for Aja? Got a query question? Email me today & you may just see your question on Freelance Writing Jobs!
Since starting this blog, I have finally found a way to vent my ongoing frustrations of misspelled and mispunctuated signs. It seems like they’re everywhere. In fact, did you know that an apostrophe that is incorrectly used to pluralize a word actually has a name? It’s often referred to as a “grocer’s apostrophe” because they’re so common on hand-made signs at markets.
It turns out that I’m not the only one who is keeping tabs on these things. Here is a huge section of a website dedicated to just such grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors.
The best, though, is the guys documented by ABC News as they traveled cross-country and not only found and photographed signs, but also corrected them! The one above is captioned “a very relaxed apostrophe.”
Even though I generally dislike misspelled signs, sometimes they do encourage a little self-satisfied grin on my part. Like this one from Odee.com:
If you happen upon some fun misspelled or mispunctuated signs, send me a picture at lornadoone at berrybrewer dot com, and maybe they’ll be featured here!
I wanted to follow up on the suggestions I made in my post about asking a client for more work with some more specific tips.
1. Make sure this is someone you want to work with again.
Don’t ask someone for more work if you really would rather not work with them again. If this client is someone you find difficult to deal with and you cringe at the thought of doing anything else for them as opposed to being excited or at least interested in getting started, skip the request for more assignments. Just thank them for their business and move on.
Asking for more work as a matter of course when you’re not interested amounts to the “I had a really nice time. I’ll call you” thing in the dating world. Don’t go there.
2. Mention the project(s) you have worked on for the client when you make your pitch.
Your client may have a number of writers working for them on various projects at any given time. While we all like to think that we are so stellar that a client couldn’t possibly forget us or our work, it does happen. Give them a gentle reminder so they can place you before moving on to your request for a new project.
3. Tell the client what else you can for them.
If you don’t share the other things you have in your bag of tricks, as I like to call it, the client doesn’t know. You may have submitted a resume when you applied for the gig, but once you were hired, the client probably hasn’t looked at it again.
Say you were hired to write some press releases. Being the professional freelance writer that you are, you have done your homework to find out about your client and what they do. Consider where they might need more writing services and make a pitch for them.
For example, if they don’t have a blog yet and you have experience in that area, contact the client to explain the benefits of having one. Since you already have a relationship with the client, you are in a good position to be hired for the gig – without having to go up against a hundred or more other candidates if the client were to place an ad. You can do the same with web content, copy for web and print, technical writing, white papers, etc.
4. Rinse and repeat.
If you ask for more work and the client doesn’t have anything for you at that point, it doesn’t mean that the source of work has dried up. Make a note to check back later. The client may even give you an idea of when they may need a writer and you should follow up with them slightly before that point. That way, you are well positioned to be chosen for the next gig.
5. Make asking for more work a regular part of your routine.
If you get it the habit of asking for more work when you finish a project, you are more likely to avoid down times in your freelance writing career. It’s far easier to convince someone who you have worked with already to hire you again than to start trying to build a relationship with a new client. A stable of regular, loyal clients who can keep you supplied with work and refer you to other people who can hire you is gold. Treat them like the precious resource they are and watch your business grow.
Rates are a hot topic among freelance writers. Have you ever wondered what other writers earn? I created the FWJ rates survey. It asks questions about the different types of clients and how much writers earn from each type of client or website. If you ever wondered how much each pay for each individual genre or content site averages out to, I hope you’ll participate in the survey. I’ll be happy to post the results for all to see and ponder. Perhaps it will help you to make a decision about writing for a particular site or client.
So, as I spend hours scouring the web for the best stuff to share with you here (yeah, my job is terrible), I often come across some pretty funny people. Today, I’d like to introduce you to a couple of blogs that crack me up.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you have persmission to replace me. If you happen to have some spare time, however, you are allowed to go peek at some of these funny folks.
- Back to San Diego – Kara was the first to bring us the hilarious Thanksgiving email. As I perused her blog, I had to restrain myself from emailing her and asking her to be my new best friend. Seriously, Kara, we have so much in common: I love DMB, hate Prop 8, am a total Buffy geek, and am a freelance writer, too! Call me! (Too desperate?)
- Screw You! – So, Kathy Kerhli has far bigger cajones than I do. She gives weekly middle finger awards to deadbeats and exposes the seedy underbelly of freelancing…that is to say, bad clients.
- The Coywriter Underground – I’ll admit that I’m new to this blog, but I like the straighforward way Tom writes. It makes me grin.
- Writing Frump – How on earth one person can be so snarky and still sound so grandmotherly at the same time is beyond me. This “anonymous” writer calls out bad clients and those who might be thinking about being bad clients.
- Jackson Pearce – I’ve actually posted a couple of videos created by this “novelist, cat keeper, adventuruer.” She just got her first novel published, and it’s kind of fun to follow her journey as she mails out announcements and attends her first book signings. She also has some fairly sound advice to offer, as well as those videos.
- Freelance Freedom – Part of Freelance Switch, this blog features the comics of N.C. Winters. All about the freelance life, some of them hit a little close to home!
Do you think you have or know of a super-funny writing blog? I would love to hear about it and add it to the list. Leave me a comment!