One of the things that I hear from many of my friends is that they are unable to find a job in today’s economy. Most of the people that are complaining about not being able to find a job have college degrees, but they lack the experience that many employers require. Because of our relatively high unemployment rate, it should come as no surprise that any employer can pick and choose when it comes to whom they want to hire. Because of the vast number of applications for most jobs, many of my friends are passed over for other applicants [Read more…]
There have been many advances in the field of freelance writing over the last few years: for most publications it is no longer necessary to send in an SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) query; electronic payments outpace snail mail checks; social media has made it easier to connect to other writers and editors, etc. The business side of freelance writing has gotten easier with more online applications streamlining mundane tasks many writers loathe. Shoeboxed is one great app that moves shoeboxes full of receipts out of the closet and into cyberspace. Shoeboxed organizes and stores receipts, business cards and documents [Read more…]
Ever since I started writing at Plagiarism Today and especially since I started this column, I’ve been hearing a lot from freelance writers who have been scammed or otherwise victimized by unscrupulous clients. Though the good news is that such bad clients are very rare in the big scheme of things, they are common enough that almost every freelancer, if they remain active long enough, will run into one or two over the course of their career. So how do you avoid being taken advantage of as a freelance writer. As we discussed previously, clients have the playing field tilted [Read more…]
One of the biggest struggles I have in terms of my writing career is helping people to understand exactly what I do for a living. When I was a kid, I had dreams of becoming a “writer” – dreams I put on the shelf the moment I realized I didn’t have a fictionally creative bone in my body. I didn’t realize I could really write until a few years ago. A friend had casually introduced me to one of the web’s many user generated content sites and I started submitting articles for a few dollars here and there. After that, [Read more…]
I get a lot of emails from people seeking freelance writing advice. One letter last week got me thinking about how much time writers waste on queries. In the email, a new writer asked if I could read his query and tell him why it was rejected and point out any obvious problems. He went on to say he knew he didn’t miss anything because he had worked on nothing else but the query for two weeks. Two weeks is a long time. Queries are an important part of writing, especially for writers trying to establish themselves in the field. [Read more…]
Masthead Located within the first few pages of a publication, the masthead lists the important information you need – editor names, assistant editors, departments, contributing writers, etc. It is also helpful to find out the email configuration of the company – a not so secret tip on getting your queries to the right person without the SASE. On Speculation When a writer has a fantastic idea and an editor isn’t so sure, they will ask the writer to write the piece on spec or speculation. This means a writer will write the article in its entirety on the hopes that [Read more…]
We’ve talked at great length about why you should always have a contract for your various jobs and some of the terms you need to know when looking at a contract, but there remains an odd challenge when dealing with contracts, getting them signed. The reason is that the process of signing a contract was not really designed for the digital age. Traditionally, signing a contract would involve two or more people sitting around a single sheet of paper, agreeing to the terms on it and signing their names. While that works great when the people involved are relatively close [Read more…]
Dear Jodee, When I’m responding to freelance writing job ads, I don’t always have a contact name for the client. How do I handle the salutation? Will Write for Money Dear Money Writer, E-mail is a little different from sending a letter by regular mail. People tend to be a little less formal when communicating in this manner. While that may be acceptable when you are sending a note to a friend or a family member, you will want to be more formal when you are communicating with a potential client. If you have the name of a specific contact [Read more…]
Article Quickie: Freelance Writing Jargon – A – C: From AP Style to Crib Sheet Article Quickie: Freelance Writing Jargon – D – G From Deadlines to Ghostwriting Headline The attention grabber, the big bold letters at the top of the articles that stop readers in their tracks. Example: “Sixty Ways to Drive Your Man Wild” or “Top Ten Blogging Tips for Beginners” or “Why Your Kids Hate You.” Careful with the sensational ones, readers hate a content tease. HTML Hypertext markup language. Without getting all techie, it’s the tags that create <b>bold</b> lettering, italics, indentations, hyperlinks, etc. Some gigs [Read more…]
There is a plethora of confusing word pairs in English, and even native English speakers confuse their usage in everyday conversation. Earlier today, for some reason, I kept hearing Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars in my head. I used to listen to this song a lot, so I guess the fact that I felt like lying down for a few minutes more triggered memories. In any case, I was thinking to myself, should it be lay or lie? That simple question resulted in more than a few minutes of lying in bed and mulling the two words over. So what’s the [Read more…]
One thing nearly every freelance writer is going to have to do is sign a contract. Contracts, when written well, protect both the freelancer and the client by avoiding any confusion and preventing anyone from giving up any rights that they didn’t intend. But as necessary and as useful as contracts are, they are often filled with terms that can cause confusion. Many freelancers, intimidated either by the size or the seeming complexity of their contracts often just sign them with little more than a cursory glance. This is a poor move that can cause a freelance to sign a [Read more…]
Deadline These are those all important dates that you never miss. It’s when an article is due, when the editor wants it in and when excuses will be tough to take. Dek A quickie summary of what an article is about, it usually is placed in the table of contents or under the article headline. Editorial Calendar The theme and publishing calendar for a publication. Most print publications have calendars set far in advance, some as far as six months which is important to remember when sending queries. Writers also use an editorial calendar to schedule their work and organized [Read more…]
While you’re doing it, you’re focused, zoned in and intense. Every distraction is met with deep disappointment – the phone, the kids, the dog standing there watching you do it. When you’re not doing it it’s all you can think about leaving you distracted. “It” is writing, but the passion in which we pursue, fantasize about and devour it makes it a lot like sex. That’s another big reason why it’s fun. The Heat. There’s nothing like the heat of new blog post, new assignment or new magazine. The magazine represents an opportunity. The blog post or assignment represents a [Read more…]
In last week’s column, I talked about one of the most important decisions every copyright holder has to make, whether or not to register the copyright in their works. The conclusion of the article was that there is no single correct answer but every creator should be aware of the benefits of registration and make a decision for themselves. However, if you do decide to register your site, you are immediately faced with an ugly problem. The copyright registration system, despite some recent modernizations, is still geared almost solely toward the types of content that existed in the 80s and [Read more…]
I don’t think it’s enough. Getting work is wonderful, making it is even better. Writers need to put their creative thinking, experience and skills to work to create new projects.
You want to make a living writing.
Here’s how I do it. It may not be a good way for you to do it. Then again, it might be advice that transforms you from a feast/famine disaster into a consistent earner.
Many writers are interested in learning more than one language and not just stick to good ol’ English. Often it can be easier to learn a new language because many languages belong to the same family and use similar base rules. The evolution of language is also undeniably linked to economic shifts in global integration, as seen in the emergence of Credit Loans. I’m sure everyone knows many examples of Anglicisms used in other languages such as offshore or Germanisms used in English, such as Schadenfreude. Another very popular example, especially among freelance writers, is the Gallicism Resumé or for [Read more…]
Since the first Harry Potter book was released in June 30, 1997, the series has received an interesting mixture of acclaim and criticism. From a single book, the franchise has expanded to seven novels and six movies (the seventh one is due to be released before the end of the year). The first few novels received heaps of praise from critics, but the fifth installment seemed to attract more negative reviews. In spite of the criticism, the Harry Potter franchise can be considered one of the most successful in history. In fact, it has made author J.K. Rowling the only [Read more…]
One of the thorniest and most uncomfortable issues freelancers routinely face is the issue of contracts when it comes to getting jobs. Part of it is because, as freelancers, we often take jobs with people know, trust and are good friends with. Other times it is because clients have urgent needs and there may not be enough time to hammer out a formal contract before the deadline passes. However, this is almost always a bad idea. Taking jobs or receiving work without a contract is a grave disservice to both sides. While contracts may slow things down and cause brief [Read more…]
I’ve chopped off my finger. I’ve betrayed my friend. I’ve pulled the plug. I took the gold and ran.
I bet you’ve done it, too. Maybe you’ve stayed pure in ways that I haven’t, but you’ve compromised your responsibilities. You’ve done something short of your best work. You’ve pandered to an audience, to a client, or to your own writing vanity. You’ve made your deals with devils, even if your devils are incredibly cute and small.
If you haven’t, I bet you will. Someday.