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Distraction-Free Writing is a Myth!

distraction free writingTo me, distraction-free writing is my idea of heaven… and like heaven we have no certainty that it exists.

Okay, right now I’m more distracted than usual. I leave in two days for a week in Florida – and this happening was only confirmed last night.

Do you know how many things I have to get done, people I need to notify, and… well of course you do. You’d be in exactly the same position as I am, scrambling.

Yes, it’s a business trip and there’s a ton of business prep left to do as well.

My mind is elsewhere.

What prevents distraction-free writing?

Lots of things get in the way of writing.

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When a Client Doesn’t Like What You’ve Written

Client Doesn't Like What You've WrittenOnce in a while a client flat doesn’t like what you’ve written. I’m not talking about requests for minor tweaks and corrections, that’s all part of the game. No, I’m talking about those rare times when a client informs you they don’t like your efforts at all.

It’s hard to hear that a clien’t doesn’t like what you’ve written. It feels personal, and like you’ve made some sort of horrid mistake. If the client is angry, the news of his discontent may be accompanied by threats of non-payment and the loss of future work. In other words all the ingredients necessary to turn your day sour indeed.

Time for a couple of deep breaths

When you get word that the client doesn’t like what you’ve written, take a deep breath or two. Tempting as it is to react, do your best not to. Here are a series of thoughts and steps that will help:

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Possible Benefits of Journaling for Freelance Writers

journalingJournaling can seem a natural offshoot of freelance writing. The most obvious benefit is when your journaling you’re also writing, and writing is almost always a good thing for writers.

Unlike those who always do morning pages or other forms of daily diary keeping, I’m keep a sporadic journal of sorts. Dig around in my computer and you’ll find all sorts of essays, drafts of essays, pages of complaint and celebration, any of which could fall under the rubric of journal writing.

It seems this kind of writing can be divided at least in two – as a way to process feelings and as a way to memorialize a life.

Journaling as a way to process feelings

I tend to process my feelings by writing fairly often. Whenever I find myself unhappy about anything from my love life to the size of my middle, I tend to write about it. Over time I’ve written about each of my kids multiple times, most of my friends, people I’m angry with, when I feel hurt, even about being sick and current money situations. You name it. I sometimes rant about politics to myself.

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freelance writing websiteIf you’re a freelancer, you need your own freelance writing website. It doesn’t have to be great or fancy, really, but it needs to be there.

In this day and age, any potential client shopping for a freelancer is going to Google you. If you don’t have a site, people will wonder why.

These 5 tips will more than get your started.

  1. If possible name your site after yourself. Using your full name or an obvious variant helps people who know you find you.  My pro site is AnneWayman.com – I got it ages ago. Cathy Miller was able to score MillerCathy.com. My son, Michael R. Wilder registered MrWilder.com. I just looked and JRSmithWriter.com is available… Try your first and middle name, your initials, the kind of writer you are, etc.  at one point. Whatever you end up using make sure it’s easy to remember and easy to say on the telephone.
  2. Choose your host carefully. Your host is where your site is actually stored and made available on the ‘net. I like BlueHost (yes, that’s an affiliate link – use it and I’ll earn a commission) because their customer service is 24/7 and all their techs speak excellent English. They also know their stuff.
  3. Build your site with WordPress. WordPress is thought of as blogging software, but it’s truly a very flexible content management system. This site is on WordPress and is a blog. So is AnneWayman.com and it operates like a static website. BlueHost and others have a one button WordPress install that makes getting started a snap.
  4. You’ll build your site on a WordPress theme. There are gagillions of them these days, and many free ones. Start with whatever default theme shows up. One of the joys of WordPress is you can change your theme, totally redesigning your site, with the click of a button. Use the default theme to get familiar with WordPress.
  5. Websites are never perfect. So put yourself on a deadline, of no more than a week or two before you have enough to publish your site so the world can find you.

Remember what your freelance writing website is all about

The whole reason your building a website is to  increase your client base and up your income.

That isn’t the only benefit. You can, and should, create some great content for yourself and use social media to actively increase your base.

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Why Pro Bono Projects Can be Dangerous for Freelancers

pro bono projectsPro bono projects are the ones we undertake to do at no charge, aka free.

We all get asked to ‘write for free‘ and you’ve heard me caution against it in many cases. Sigh!

While there can be good reasons to give away from of your writing, be careful.

Be extra careful if you find yourself volunteering for what might be called a project. It probably includes some writing and is likely to also require some meetings, and any number of things that take you, (and me) away from our writing.

Ah the interesting worthwhile project!

Let me give you an example that I’m working with at the moment. Three or four weeks ago I ran into the CEO/Founder of a tech start-up non-partisan, non-profit organization that has developed a way of audit elections before an election is certified. If there’s a discrepancy, the certification can be delayed until a real investigation is held. I love it!  (It’s called DemocracyCounts! and you can get all the info you want at the web link.) It’s important work that makes total sense to me and I quickly volunteered.

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Client wantsNot knowing what your client wants with and from a writing project spells trouble – trouble that is up to you to solve.

It’s trouble because if you’re not in sync with your client’s needs and expectations  you simply can’t get it right.

Our customers are notorious for being unclear on why they want a particular piece of writing and what they will do with it once they have it. Which is why it so often falls to you to figure it out in concert with your customer, even if it means you end up helping them decide what they’re actually doing.

It’s surprising how often this confusion needs to be addressed.

Start by asking the right questions

Skillful questions are the key. Take this situation. You get a call from a possible customer who eagerly wants to know what you charge to write blog posts. I generally start with something like: “Great! What kind of blog and what do you hope to accomplish with it?”

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3 Ways to Get Samples on Your Professional Writer Website

samplesSamples on of  your writing on your website is a great way to keep marketing 24/7. And if you don’t yet have a website what the heck are you waiting for?

How samples help you market yourself

The reason samples are so important is that they demonstrate to the potential client that you can actually write. Our clients typically don’t know a thing about how writing actually happens. The ability to actually see your samples is hugely reassuring to them.

Even editors and publishers who want to hire writers and presumably know something about the process find samples helpful in sorting out applicants.

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price reductionA price reduction? Yes!

Rare I know.

Of course there’s a story!

A brief history

Several years ago, I think it was 2011, fellow writer Lori Widmer and I created what is now largely known as About Writing Squared, nee’ The Five Buck Forum – a truly supportive forum for writers. Obviously at that price we needed no price reduction.

Back then there was only one plugin to create a membership forum and it was anything but easy, but we made it work. Two or three years in Lori decided she wanted to work on her poetry. I took over completely. Lori stayed in the forum where she still shows up and posts almost daily.

A couple of times I experimented with higher prices.

Everything worked until it didn’t

Everything worked until it didn’t. About a month ago the site crashed. Badly. It turned out the most active of us were able to find out way in again, but it was pretty ugly. It was also way beyond my ability to truly fix. Nor did I know where to get the right kind of WordPress help.

Tony, the knight in shining armor

I mentioned my problem to Tony, a member of my Buddhist sangha (congregation) because he’d helped us move our old fashioned website to a WordPress format. He fixed my site! Almost suddenly. Well, not quite that fast, but he had to do a ton.

The short form of what happened is a renewal of a ssl certificate somehow broke the site. My   host restored it from backups, but they used the wrong set of files… a really old set. So Tony had a lot of work to do and he did it well, including substituting a much more up-to-date forum software. Nice.

I’m about finished and I’ve been thinking

There’s lots of additional work – tweaking, recreating sales pages and new payment buttons, integrating everything and I’ve made great progress with still a fair amount to be done.

While I’ve been working on the forum I’ve been thinking and have decided I want to take it back to the original pricing. We set the price at $5 a month for a couple of reasons.

  • We wanted to be of upmost service to our fellow writers and keeping the price low seemed a good way to do that.
  • We also loved the sound and look of The Five Buck Forum.

In a week or two I’m going to ‘relaunch’ as it were with the price reduction to the original $5 a month. You’ll have 19 days from that announcement to join at the Five Buck price.

Make sure you get notified the early so you don’t miss out. That’s easy to do – just go here and sign up

Write well and often, and try our forum!

Anne Wayman, freelance writer


writing for freeWriting for free is something, as a general rule, I don’t do – except of course when I do.

After all,  I’m a professional with excellent credits and like others need and deserve to be paid what I’m worth. Yet I spent part of this weekend writing quite a bit for free.

In other words my real answer to the question should you or I ever be writing for free is a great big “it depends.”

Maybe I should have a category of “it depends” because so much of the writing game is like that – no certain or standard answers despite what we experts sometimes seem to say.

About this writing for free weekend

Friday I found a job listed that truly excited me. It seems like something I not only could do well, but thoroughly enjoy as well. He asked applicants to read a sample of the kind of thing he wants, watch a couple of short videos, tell him if we wanted the gig and to quote a price for doing something similar with a draft document. I was way to tired to take that on Friday evening, so I started on Saturday morning.

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regular invoicingThis is Part 3 of charging and invoicing for your writing. Part 1, Let’s Talk About Invoicing and Invoices for Freelance Writers is here. Part 2, about Flat Fees, Hourly Rates or Retainers, is here.

If you don’t have a system it’s impossible to develop the habit of regular invoicing. Business systems you design and use will help you create a truly pleasurable and profitable freelance writing business. Regular invoicing is a major part of your success.

Now, what I mean by system in this case, is a pattern you create and follow to make regular invoicing a snap. The result is every invoice gets sent in a timely manner and you have a way of keeping track of which one’s are paid and which ones need to be reminded or worse.

Create a list of what regular invoicing looks like

The way to build a system is to first chunk it down in its component parts, like this:

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