≡ Menu

Decluttering for Freelance Writers

clutter declutterMaybe you’re one of those folks who keeps everything around you neat and tidy. More power to you. But, if you’re more like me, you tend to be, well, a bit messy.

Study after study tells us that it’s easier to work, play, and enjoy life without clutter. I’m still not convinced, but I do know clutter can get away from me.

I’ve discovered a few tricks to declutter – maybe not completely, but enough to make a real difference. In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m of the ‘progress rather than perfection’ clan.

Besides I wouldn’t know perfection if it knocked on the door and introduced itself.

Recently I’ve begun three practices that are resulting in noticeably less clutter in my life.

Cluttered email in box

I’m a political junkie. I want political news. I also want to support a wide variety of environmental causes. Plus, I feel I ought to keep track of certain writing websites.

My inbox had gotten insane. Even worse, I was beginning to miss leads in my nascent real estate investment education business.

Oh, I know you can have email sorted automatically into folders, but that meant I never even saw the subject lines unless I looked. Although that could be a decent plan, it wasn’t working for me. Finally I began subscribing to the email newsletters I want to look at, but that are not related to my business, from my gmail account, and unsubscribing from my business account. That means I can look at them easily in the evening from my iPad. So far it’s working. My inbox is actually looking a little lonely and very tidy these days and I’m able to spend more time on my businesses. [click to continue…]


is it kindRecently there’s been a lot of talk about triggers, political correctness and personal responsibility. I’m going to start with some definitions:

Triggers – sometimes also called “microagression,” the idea is someone can be harmed emotionally if they hear or read something that causes them to remember, perhaps quite vividly and even to the point of re-experiencing, a traumatic event. (Note: if you look up ‘trigger,’ as I did you’ll find most of the definitions are coupled with guns, and bombs – which may be appropriate. I made up the definition here.)

Political correctness – the first definition that shows up on Google at the moment is: “the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.” They also add the noun, “political correctitude,” which I wish I had made up. [click to continue…]


guest postsOver in the forum several of us were talking about the recent barrage of offers of guest posts and advertising. The main complaints were these:

The email writer claims to love the blog or website, which becomes obviously untrue as they reveal their offer – a guest post or article they are sure will delight us. Some of the more clever ones will actually list two or three suggested titles.

The problem is the titles are so generic they could apply to almost any blog in the world. A newer version of this same pitch is the offer is to pay the site owner to put up a post. They don’t want to buy advertising because the post is an attempt to look like the links are organic rather than paid for.

In no case to they tell you who they want to link to, nor does the putative author offer a link to their own professional site.

I’m like many blog owners that recognize there’s an implicit approval that’s communicated to readers with links in posts. If the blog or site owner is so bold to query exactly what they will be linking to, they generally come back, at least in my case, to a ‘service’ that offers to write papers for college students. [click to continue…]


3 Tools to Help You Organize Your Writing

day of the deadDay of the Dead? Fall? Halloween?

Whatever you call this season, it’s almost too late for freelance writers to write end of the year articles – unless they want to hold them for next year.

While successful freelance writers have a good deal of control over their time, it’s also easy to let the seasons slip by. If your goal is to be published in one of the glossy consumer magazines you see displayed at super markets and books stores, ideas for the end of the year holidays look like an easy target.

Yes, it’s true they are hungry for good, original end of the year pieces, it’s also true that the biggest of them plan these issues as much as six months ahead.

If that’s the market you want to try, put it on your calendar to query next May, June, and July.

What about smaller publications?

Smaller and more local publications usually are more open to holiday articles starting about now – October. This is true every year. [click to continue…]


freelance writing paySharon Hurley Hall wrote a great post called Raise Your Freelance Writing Rates: 4 Steps to Help You Get Paid What You’re Worth

It got me thinking about freelance writing pay in general and more specifically how we throw terms like ‘going rate’ and ‘fair rate’ around.

What, I wondered, are we really talking about?

Money is an odd thing

On one hand, money is a tool, a way to represent value without carrying around sacks of oranges or a cow in hopes of finding someone who wants to trade their chickens for one or the other. At least that’s more or less how money got started.

Today, money is fraught. Meaning is all over the map. Some people associate a person’s value by the amount of money they have. Some hoard money, certain it will buy some real security. Others are ashamed of their relationship with money, or at least confused. Many have associated the amount of money they have with their own self-worth.

About that going rate

The Free Dictionary defines going rate as “the current rate or the current charges for something.” This assumes that the typical price of something is knowable. More specifically, for our purposes, it assumes the typical price for a piece of writing is knowable. I’m not sure that’s true. [click to continue…]


Quit Waiting For That Writing Client and Move On!

Not long ago a writer was complaining to me that they hadn’t heard from their best client in ages. Somehow it reminded me of this Irving Berlin classic, All Alone By The Telephone. Okay, I’m dating myself and I never really liked the song, but I identified – particularly when I was in high school waiting for a date to the prom.

Clients come and clients go

One of the truths of freelance writing is that clients come and clients go. Most of the reasons client’s quit calling you has little to do with you or the quality of your work. Consider:

People often change companies. When this happens you may not hear about it ever, and the person who hired you is unlikely to hire you in her new position. In fact she may not have the authority to do so. [click to continue…]


Are You Making One of These Common Grammar Mistakes?

grammar mistakesHave you ever sent a piece to a new client or published a blog post, only to discover that you made a huge grammar goof? It happens to everyone, even here at Grammarly HQ. Here are four of the most common errors we see on a regular basis—and tips on how to catch those pesky grammar mistakes!

Incorrect Capitalization in Titles

We’re specifically talking about one little word that seems to have fallen through the capitalization cracks. “Is” is a verb and should be uppercase in most styles, yet we see this error over and over again on blogs and online news outlets. Although it looks like it might be a preposition, in the same family as “to” or “in,” it’s still a verb and needs to be capitalized. [click to continue…]


follow through

It’s hard to pin down but some say that in business to business sales there’s at least a 37 percent turn over every year. My hunch is it’s higher. Many of those move on to other sales jobs, but a lot just quit and get a different kind of job.

The same thing is true of writers – many quit, often saying they can’t make a living at it.

If you drill down, the reason for quitting actually has little to do with the industry itself. Writers often fail because they simply don’t follow up. Or they don’t follow up enough.

Let’s start by talking about the two kinds of following up freelance writers must do if they are to succeed.

Two types of follow up

There are two types of follow up – the first is usually when a potential client first contacts you. This might be because you answered their ad, or you did some cold calling, or they found your website, or someone told them about you. These you want to respond to as quickly as possible. You’re likely to find yourself being interviewed and you want to remember you should be interviewing them too. [click to continue…]


Do You Need A Blog For Your Freelance Writing Career?

blog tilesBy Mike Wallagher, creator of StartBloggingOnline

Writers often ask me, “How does setting up a blog benefit me?” And I always try to explain it as easily as I can. In fact, I always want to ask the writer,  “Why wouldn’t you start a blog?”

Pros of starting a blog

There are definitely more pros than cons. For example:

  • Starting a blog has minimal costs.
  • You can write anonymously under a pseudonym.
  • You can direct an audience to your blog and have recurring readers.
  • You get visibility and you’ll never know who will land on your blog. Perhaps a publishing agent?
  • You will get honest opinions about your content. Sometimes people are awfully honest, but don’t be afraid of criticism. Criticism makes you a better writer.

[click to continue…]


Commission Based Writing Jobs – Should You?

commission-based writingI check out online writing gigs pretty often, both for myself and to keep in touch with the freelance writing market in general.

I was surprised the other day to find what at first seemed might be a good writing gig from a for-profit company, describe their pay as “commission based.”

Although I’ve been aware that grant writing for non-profits is sometimes commission based, this approach was new to me from regular, for-profit organizations

I hope it isn’t a trend!

What is commission based writing?

Commission based writing means you don’t get paid until your writing generates something – on the internet that’s usually sales or page views.

If, for example, the site you’re writing for is about cooking and you write about cast iron skillets. The site would run ads for cast iron skillets and you’d be paid based on how many they sold. A quick search reveals that 8-inch cast iron skillets sell for around $20.00. [click to continue…]