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Why Freelance Writing is Like a Piece of String

writing“How can writing possibly be like a piece of string,” you ask?

“Ah,” I say nodding sagely, “because most questions about writing have at least two or three answers if not more!”

Yep, it’s true. Ask any two seasoned freelance writers a writing question and you’ll get answers that are not at all alike. They even may be contradictory!

Take for example the often asked question, “Should you write for free?” There are all sorts of ways to answer this question and they range from “No” right on through “Yes” and on to “Maybe.”


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freelance writing gigsIf you want to land freelance writing gigs you need to do a bit of preparation. This  includes:

  1. The ability to write reasonably well.
  2. Deciding what kinds of things you want to write.
  3. A list of writing credits, portfolio, or resume.
  4. Learning to find and read job postings.
  5. Picking and choosing.
  6. Following the directions.

Write reasonably well

You don’t have to be a Hemingway, or write like Maya Angelou or any other famous author you might dream up. Like you, they weren’t born writing. They learned it by practicing, a lot.

You do, however, have to know how to construct sentences and paragraphs that follow the rules of the language you want to write in. On this blog that’s the American version of English.

If you were born and raised in the United States that may be enough, although I see lots of native writing that is pretty awful.

I’m often embarrassed to turn down guest post from people whose English is obviously their second or even third language. I usually know nothing of their language (or any but my own to tell the truth) and they get awfully close to using mine in a natural way – but in this game close isn’t enough.

Writing well enough is, for many, a learnable skill.


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13 Ways to Find Freelance Writing Jobs in 2018

freelance writing jobs 2018Freelance writers must find freelance writing jobs throughout their whole writing career. It’s one of those facts of life it seems.

It should also be said that there are hundreds if not thousands of ways to find freelance writing jobs. Not only that, but the way to find them is always changing.

The trick is to find what works for you, and to stay open and aware of the changes to the job hunting process.

How to find freelance writing jobs in 2018

Here are 13 tools or methods you can use to find good freelance writing job. This list isn’t definitive, but if you did several of these regularly for six months or a year you’d probably find yourself with more writing gigs than you could handle.


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photos

My cats, Dudley and Toulouse, all rights reserved, by Anne Wayman

Photos and other images are something that freelance writers often want to add to their work. Sometimes clients request this service and sometimes we just want to use photos to attract attention to our own work.

These images come in two varieties, the ones we create ourselves and the ones we get from some other source.

Photos and images you create

When you take a photo or draw a picture you own it. In the United States you own the copyright to it. You can use it on your own writing, or sell the rights to a client. You can sell one time use, all rights, etc. If you sell all rights you can’t sell it again without the buyer’s express, written permission. When your photo includes identifiable people you may need a photo release from them if you plan to sell or use the picture in a public way.

As the creator of the photo or image you’re also entitled to credit. Since I took the picture of my cats I’ve added a credit line to it. I could have included the copyright symbol and the date, but I don’t know how to get those in the caption box here, so I skipped it.

Photos and images you didn’t create

If you didn’t take the picture or create the image, you can’t use it – unless ou buy the rights to it or are otherwise given permission to use it.


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3 Ways Picture Captions Can Help Your Freelance Writing

captionsHave you ever used the captions on photos to spark your writing? It doesn’t matter if you write them yourself or just read the ones others have written, they often provide just the seeds you need to write something.

Well done picture captions work to communicate in words what the picture is showing. Often it’s straight forward, like “The Edwards family arrive in town for 108 birthday party of Sam Edwards.” Sometimes the bring clarity to what’s happening in a photo, perhaps like “Although rare this time of year, the grey heron is often seen at the lake – usually in summer.”

Pictures can help you clarify a story

Complex ideas sometimes need illustrations or other form of graphic art. Couple a good illustration with a caption that helps the graphic explain what’s going on can make a story dynamite. Although we tend to think of science and engineering with this type of example, we don’t have to look far in the news to make the point. The right photo with the right caption can be extremely powerful.

Take a moment  to look at the image here and imagine what sort of caption it might need.


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sick leaveNo sick leave unfortunately doesn’t mean we freelance writers won’t get sick. I found myself laid up for two days with a cold just recently. I was sneezing and wheezing and feeling terrible for two days.

I cancelled almost everything. The only writing I did was the post earlier this week. It’s a rant about the concept of content and it went pretty quickly.

I cancelled some coaching sessions, and some activities around the zen center where I live and mostly slept thought the whole mess.

Which, come to think of it is exactly what I would have done had I had a typical job that I commute  to every weekday. The difference, of course, is that many jobs pay you even if you’re sick, as long as it doesn’t happen to often.

Taking care of yourself is your first priority

I know, it’s tempting to try and push through an illness, even a simple cold, and try and make a deadline, or call a client, or something. Don’t! Even simple colds can turn into something worse if you don’t give yourself real time to heal. You owe it to yourself and to your clients to get better.


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content“Be Part of the First Industry Survey About Original Research In Content Marketing!” I saw this headline as I got up from my computer to take out the recycling. (Now you know why I say ideas are everywhere!)

As I found my shoes, gathered up the recycling basket and an empty jug of kitty litter I asked myself for the thousandth time how writing articles had morphed into creating content. “I suppose it’s because people see web pages as a container,” I muttered as I tipped open the big blue recycling container.

I may have had this particular insight multiple times before, but I’m feeling a bit rebellious today – maybe because I was up long before the eclipse – and it was lovely, and scary, and mysterious and reminded me how much I love our planet).

“Hrumph,” I may have said out loud, but quietly given the early hour. I don’t want to write content – there’s nothing wrong with the word ‘article.’


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Why I like the Vocabulary.com Dictionary

dictionaryI don’t remember my first dictionary. Maybe it was the great big one that stood on a stand in a corner of the living room.

I suppose I had a dictionary geared for first graders when I began to really read.

My mom and dad read lots and I know I was encouraged to look up words I didn’t recognize. In fact, I remember what a pain it seemed to be back then. Until I began to understand the new word that is. Then I was delighted.

Like many I learned to appreciate many of the words that came before and after the one I sought. And I wasn’t beyond occasionally opening up a dictionary at random to see what I’d find.

I’ve packed around a red Merriam-Webster’s dictionary and a Roget’s Thesaurus since college days. They still sit on a shelf, unused but kept in case the electricity goes off I suppose. I treasured a copy of the two volume Abridged Oxford Dictionary, cuddled in an official book box with a drawer for the magnifying glass because the type was so small. I’m sorry it’s gone and I don’t remember how I came not to have it.

I rejected the first electronic dictionaries

Although I was quite taken with computers that would check my spelling, the first electronic dictionaries left me cold. The programs were real kludges and took forever to load. Often the word I was looking for was missing totally. The stand-alone electronic dictionaries didn’t impress me either. I kept using my hard bound dictionary until the web showed up.


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Passion and Congruity – Another Take on Writing Flow

passionPassion and congruity – shortly after I wrote about the mechanics of flow in our writing, another  trusted friend suggested that passion and congruity were also a way to look at achieving flow in our freelance writing.

That bell rang clearly to me.  In fact, I think much of what I wrote about in the original article comes from passion and congruity, maybe even all of it.

Passion keeps us focused

Passion is, of course, a strong emotion. One of the keys to writing that flows is to be passionate about our chosen topic. When I’m passionate about a subject it’s easier to keep to the point or points I want to make. The energy I’m feeling helps drive the piece forward. Those points, properly marshaled, help both the writer and the reader with the flow of the piece.


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Mechanics of Achieving Flow in Your Writing

flowA close friend asked me about writing flow in an email saying: I wish I knew what the mechanics are of writing that flows so that it’s invisible vs that which is not flowing so you notice. Masters know how to do the first.

My initial internal response was something like flow in writing isn’t mechanical, there really is no formula for it. I started poking around the web Googling writing flow and  how can I make my writing flow.  I found articles that talked about staying on topic, transitions, varied sentence length and such, none of it particularly helpful in my opinion.

How I think about flow

Then I began to wonder what I meant by flow in writing and concluded it’s a very squishy concept. After all, many of us can remember writing that flowed even though it didn’t stay on topic or make nifty, easy to understand transitions, etc. It’s rare, often called poetry, and it happens. The words fit together and the reader knows, roughly, what the writer is talking about. It seems, when reading, that the writing is effortless – the ideas may require work, but the writing itself appears to the reader be exactly right to communicate that idea. We recognize flow when we see it – defining it is harder. Figuring out how to explain so someone else can do it is harder still.


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