For today’s Wordy Wednesday post, I have to send you to a different site (The Oatmeal) because I’m pretty sure I’d get sued if I tried to post this awesome poster here on FWJ. If you’re a word nerd and hate it when people misspell certain things, then you should definitely check this out: Ten Words You Need to Stop Misspelling. Enjoy!
Do you ever hear about someone else’s freelance gig and get all jealous? No? Um, me neither.
Except for this one.
I want Comcast to hire me to write their movie descriptions. There’s a site called WTF Comcast where people have snapped pictures of some of the most entertaining descriptions they’ve run across. How much fun would it be to have this job? Now I’m going to spend the rest of the day coming up with alternate descriptions for some of my favorite (and least favorite) movies.
*This was supposed to post yesterday! I’m not sure what happened, but enjoy anyway!
Hustling is a part of the job description for freelance writers. We move at a quick pace writing emails, responding to editors, microblogging on Twitter, updating Facebook, interviewing sources and writing articles, etc.. which is why you are checking FWJ the day after Christmas! Even while we aren’t in front of the computer, we are still coming up with ideas and brainstorming.
Here’s a quick brainstorming trick to play around with as you go in for your second or third round of turkey or ham!
I’m a list lover. My lists help me stay organized in every area of my life and brainstorming lists for writing is no different. It can help you organize an article or give you several ideas/angles on a particular article topics.
To brainstorm list-style, start with the general subject, a keyword or phrase and then list words whatever words come to mind. Here’s an example:
Subject: Query writing
- how to write
- letter form
- linking to other writers
- finding an editor
- following up
- action words
- contact information
The list can go on and on, but the point is to give yourself plenty of options using this technique. Give it a shot and see how you like it!
If you haven’t been paying attention over the last few weeks, I’ll sum up by saying that I was never very good at Wordless Wednesday and decided to reinvent the idea for those of us who actually love words.
This week’s game is a word scramble. Each of the groups of letters below can be unscrambled to create a word that is important to freelance writers. Can you get them all? I wish I had a timer feature on here, so we could compete based on time. Who am I kidding? It’s Christmas Eve Eve, and there are, like, two people hiding out in the den checking FWJ today.
Oh well. Have fun, you two!
- hsogt irrwte
- rdwo nutoc
Let’s see how many you got in the comments section!
For this week’s Wordy Wednesday post, I’m going to send you to one of the biggest and best time sucks a word-nerd can find online. It’s called Free Rice, and it is addictive. Oh, and for a good cause, too.
At the site, they will give you a word with four possible definitions. You choose the right one. For every one you get right, ten grains of rice get donated to feed the hungry. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but if you play for a few minutes, it adds up to a couple of cups of rice. I suspect you’ll play for more than a few minutes, though. (Insert evil mwa-ha-ha-type laughter here.)
Seriously, though, try it out. Soooo fun: http://freerice.com/
I love the year end best of and countdown lists. Every year I spend way too much time in front of the tube cheering and booing celebrity scandals, top news stories, hottest songs, etc., and why should the FWJ blog be any different? So pull up your chair and get that clicking finger ready because here are the best Article Writing posts for FWJ!
1. How to Lose Control of an Interview – April 2009
This post, designed to get people talking about interview basics, also got people discussing the pros and cons of ‘off the record’ discussions.
2. 5 Things You Never Say to Editor – October 2009
When it comes to editors writers always have a lot to say, but there are some things you should keep to yourself!
3. Self-Editing Tip #1 – Distancing Yourself from Your Work – July 2009
Self-editing is a tough task for many writers, the best way to establish your editor’s hat is to distance yourself from your work.
4. A Word About Plagiarism – August 2009
Plagiarism is rampant among writers, especially on the net, here’s how to make sure you come down on the right side of the pen.
5. 5 Ways to Kill a Good Article – June 2009
The best article can take hit if sloppy work, poor planning and spotty editing get a hold of it.
A long while back I wrote a post “Writing When You Know Nothing About the Subject Part 1” and followed up with a part two, but due to the quirks of cyberspace and my inability to remember to back up my posts for FWJ, the piece disappeared into the great Internet unknown. I was glad so many of you were interested in the second part of the piece and while I can’t guarantee this was exactly what I wrote, it’s pretty close!
When you need to write an article and know little to nothing about a subject, the most important part of getting the piece right is getting the research right. It’s not enough to Google a topic, in fact the most Google should be used for is to find articles, foundations, government branches and authors in the subject.
Book authors, especially those recently published, are always looking for opportunities to get their name and books out in front of an interested audience. Also, books will cite their sources that you can also contact for your article. Authors expect you to have read their book or at least thoroughly skimmed them before your interview, be sure to take a little library or bookstore time into consideration when planning your research.
Government branches interviews are sometimes difficult to get, their web sites usually have tons of information, statistics, etc., available for use. The most difficult thing about getting information from government branches is finding the right person to talk to and getting your calls returned. Of course, depending on the publication, higher profile sites and magazines often have their calls returned faster.
When considering using foundations as a source for an article be fully aware of focus of the foundation. Are they simply autism awareness advocates or do they promote a link between autism and vaccines? The slant of the foundation should be noted within the article so readers are fully informed.
Institutions of higher learning are also great places to begin research. The experts there are great at not only giving a thorough explanation of the topic, they have their fingers on the pulse of research, development and breakthroughs on the subject. Remember, all sources have the potential to link you to other experts, real world examples, etc.
Many writers – journalists, freelancers, etc., have to know a little about a lot of different subjects and the ability to quickly learn, dissect and disseminate information is essential to being a successful writer. Learning a new subject helps writers look at the subject through the audience’s eyes. It also gives the writer plenty of fresh material. It is a great idea for niche writers to get out there every so often an attack a new subject. It allows breathing time away from their chosen area of expertise while opening up new avenues for their career.
FWJ has some great material on sources and research:
Research – More Than Just Google – Terreece M. Clarke
Seducing a Reluctant Source – Terreece M. Clarke
6 Ways to Conduct Accurate Research – Deb Ng
How Well Do You Fact Check – Terreece M. Clarke
I’m a glass half full kind of girl. I count my blessings and know many people wish they could trade situations. I know how fortunate I am to be able to support myself doing what I enjoy. I also feel looking at the bright side is more positive and productive than being cranky about what I don’t have or haven’t achieved.
With that said, I also think it’s important to look at the other side of the coin sometimes. Having a half empty glass reminds us that being thirsty is a very good thing.
There’s Always Room in the Glass for More
When a glass is full, it indicates a lack of space or room to grow. The whole “half empty” thing is supposed to be a negative analogy but to me it shows the need for improvement. Taking a half empty approach is encouraging. It means you have analyzed your situation and know you need to earn more money or take on more clients. It means you have the ability to look at your situation and know there are some things that need changing. Now think about this:
How is your glass half empty?
Are you thirsty because you’re not earning enough? Is there room in the glass because you’re not at the point you hope’d you be career wise? This is an excellent opportunity to rock the self-analysis. Identify the reasons for the half empty glass syndrome. Make yourself a good old fashioned list. When you’re done, take each point on the list and note the ways you can remedy the situation. Maybe you need to go back to school or work longer hours. Maybe you need to ask for a raise. Identify the problem areas and work out a solution, then act. You can make lists until the cows come home but if you don’t act, it doesn’t mean a thing.
Wanting More is Never a Bad Thing
You should be thirsty. It’s not greedy to want more. Name any person in any career who doesn’t strive for a bigger paycheck or a berth on a higher rung on the corporate ladder. For some strange reason we’re supposed to associate “more” with “greed.” Why? I prefer to look at greed in a Gordon Gecko-esque manner. Greed IS good. Thirst IS good. Wanting more IS good. It’s the difference between making ends meet and building up a bank account. It’s the difference between just getting by and having a comfortable retirement. It’s the difference between a one room apartment in a bad neighborhood and a house in the suburbs.To make more you have to want to make more and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
How Will You Fill the Rest of Your Glass?
So that was today’s motivational speech and this is today’s assignment. Contemplate your glass. Don’t just sit it down in front of you. Consider its size and depth. Consider your choice of libation. Consider all the steps necessary to fill that glass. How are you going to do it? Are you going to get yourself a glass of water, or are you going to treat yourself something premium or aged to perfection? Are you content to live life with a half a cup or are you interested in satiating your thirst? There are a lot of analogies and metaphors in there, but I think you get my drift. Knowing you want more isn’t enough. You have to know how to get more.
Are your thirsty? What are you going to do about it?
I’ve written before about other writers and publications being great sources of inspiration for articles. The bloggers here on FWJ often inspire me to my next post and I appreciate them for it. There is a difference, however, between being inspired by a piece and copying it. I know, I know, you can’t believe there is someone out there stealing ideas like the Grinch sliding in on Christmas night, but it does happen. There are some dirty, no-good, low down keyboard tappers that steal ideas from their fellow professionals. There are also some folks who really don’t know the difference.
- involves perspiration – meaning even great ideas take work to go from light bulb moments to published content.
- is grateful to the muse & will give a shout out when appropriate – a blog nod, a citation or source credit.
- takes an idea and expands it, seeks new angles or adds new information.
- drives writers to gather different sources and publications to pitch.
- can help create a piece vastly different than the original article.
- often involves cut & paste, making it too easy to be real work.
- tries to hid the original source.
- uses information without citation.
- shows up when a writer is pinched for time, ideas or talent.
- can also be plagiarism.
- has the same tone, angle and/or article structure as the “inspiration article.”
- should leave a dirty feeling in your soul.
- is a cheap carbon copy without the heart, respect or reliability as an article written from real work.
Writing is a tough business, I have weeks where I bang my head against my laptop trying to come up with new information or to find a new angle on an evergreen writing topic, however, there is never any excuse for taking the easy way out and stealing from another writer. If you ever wonder if your piece is infringing upon another’s work go with caution, cite your source, get permissions, etc.
Got a article question or problem? Email me! Terreece@TerreeceClarke.com.
Something I struggle with is whether or not I should put most of my eggs in my clients’ baskets or if I should invest my time in me. With clients the pay is sometimes better and more immediate, but I’m not necessarily writing my passion. However, when I create my own projects, I have the opportunity to earn on my own terms and not have to troll for work or meet someone else’s deadlines. If you’ve been doing this for a while, you might consider how to begin earning a residual income by taking advantage of your own expertise.
What is your passion?
Now, before I go on, understand this. I’m not telling you to write about writing (unless you want to). Everyone who writes thinks they have to have a blog about writing to be taken seriously, this isn’t true.You can write about whatever you want. Say your garden is the envy of the neighborhood year after year, you can exploit that expertise by blogging, writing ebooks, traditional books and even creating online courses for each of the difference gardening zones. I write about writing or blogging the way Gary Vaynerchuk discusses wine. I talk about it because it’s my passion, not because writers have to write about writing. Share what you love and your passion will shine through.
Everyone is good at something
Everyone has a specialty. It might be interior design, cake decorating, cars, tomatoes, or turtles. If you enjoy these things, there’s a good chance there are others enjoying them as well. If your interest is more than an occasional hobby, if you have a passion and everything you touch turns to gold, you have the ability to reach people and teach them what you know.
What can you do with your passion?
My passions including writing, blogging and social media, which is why you see me write so much on these topics. Have you noticed I’ve been doing more for myself lately than with clients? In addition to blogging, I write ebooks, speak at conferences and local business meetings, and, I even have a book proposal in the works. In the past six months, I’ve turned away at least a dozen clients. My passion has become a career and yours can too.
It’s time for a good old-fashioned brainstorming session. Think about your passion. What would you like to do with it? Have you thought about blogging or creating a series of ebooks? Make a list of goals. If your goal is to only write for clients who share your passion, think about the ways you can accomplish this. If it’s your goal to speak to others about your favorite topic, list how you will do this. Make a list of goals and research the ways you can accomplish those goals.
Find the Time
A common excuse for not starting our own projects is time. I don’t care how busy you are, time is only an excuse. Even if you find one hour a week to write a page of a book, you can find the time to do this. You have to, or you’re destined to write for other people for the rest of your life. Anyone wishing to break away from clients to become self-sufficient can do so with the right time investment. For example, to build this blog, I invested two hours of my time every day for several years. Now, it’s pretty much a full time job, but it also pays a full time salary. Making sure I had time to invest no matter how many clients, no matter how many hours worked at my full time job, ensured a return on that investment almost five years later.
It’s not only the blog, either. Investing a little time each day to write an ebook is slowly paying off. It’s not a runaway best seller but I’m earning money from my ebook every month and that’s never a bad thing. With two more ebooks in the works, I’m investing more time in my future. The more of my own projects I take on, the less time I’m spending with clients and handling their projects.
Everyone has options
In 2010, there are no more excuses. We all have an opportunity to share our passion. Never before have there been so many options available. As Darren Rowse just proved, you can self publish and still earn the same amount of money as a best selling novel. Now, there’s nothing wrong with writing for clients, but don’t forget your own stuff.
Most freelance writers have goals they never meet. There’s no better time than now to share your passion.
What’s your passion? How will you use it?
Not sure of what to do with your passion? Need to bounce some ideas around? Talk to us in the comments and we’ll help you brainstorm.