Posts Tagged ‘freelance writing’

What Could You Do With a Free Month in Freelance Writers Den? (Contest)

Posted in Blog on July 9th, 2014 by Carol Tice – 118 Comments

Freelance writer contestIn the spring of 2011, I was sitting in Chicago at SOBCon, listening to a lot of really inspiring online business visionaries, when I got a crazy idea: I should stop musing about whether I should launch a paid membership learning community for freelance writers, and freakin’ launch it, already.

It had become clear I couldn’t execute on my mission of helping the most freelance writers earn more the fastest by coaching writers one at a time. I needed to create trainings hundreds of writers could view at once.

It was also clear that a lot of writers are cash-strapped. If I wanted to help many, I needed to find some affordable way to give many writers access.

The answer seemed to be a membership platform.

Would this really work?

I got crazy busy. Surveys were conducted — what would you want in a writer learning community? What would you pay for that? Webmasters were hired. E-courses were created. Software was purchased…and then, more software when some of the first software wouldn’t talk to some of the other software.

Thousands of dollars were spent, on a flier that writers would find this platform useful for building their writing income. It felt risky…but it also felt like I was moving in the right direction. I felt compelled to create this, to try it out and see if it would help writers.

Just a few months later, on July 11, 2011, Freelance Writers Den opened its virtual doors. All my one-on-one mentees to that point got a free ticket in the door, which helped get things going. We ended that first month with about 100 members.

My big dream and whole business plan was that maybe, if I worked and built this platform for oh, five years or so, it might hit 500 members. Which seemed like the point at which the model would make sense.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, we hit 500 members before the first anniversary.

Today — ten multi-week bootcamps, over 100+ hours of live trainings, and 45,000 open forum comments and hundreds of private messages later — the Den has more than 1,200 members.

It’s still hard for me to believe. Still pinching myself, every day.

I am thrilled beyond words that the Den has turned out to be such a useful resource for so many writers. Seeing the many posts in our “Share Your Success” forum about writers who’re getting better clients or charging higher hourly rates is an absolute highlight of my professional career.

And we’re just getting started. The Den continues to grow and to offer new resources — at members’ request, we’ve just added a forum where members can share feedback and comment on each others’ blogs. Our job board now includes member profiles that are searchable by prospective clients. And this fall, our next bootcamp will be about self-publishing — the booming opportunity for writers to diversify their business and add more income.

That’s the story of how the Den came to be, and how it grew. What’s next? An essay contest to celebrate our third anniversary, among other goodies!

Contest details:

To celebrate the Den anniversary, I’m holding a contest right here on the blog. Contest begins today (Wednesday, July 9.)

First prize: 1 month free in the Den.

Got prizes for 6 runners-up, too: three 20-minute mini-mentoring sessions with me, and three e-book bundles of every e-book I’ve got.

To enter, post your answer below on the topic: What I Could Do With a Free Month in Freelance Writers Den.

Where’ve you been so far as a writer, and what could you do with your freelance writing career if you had access to those Den resources?

Hint: Pleas about how desperately broke you are will not get you a win. Brilliant, compelling writing and a unique story will.

I’ll come on back and update this post to announce the winners on Monday.

Eligibility: Current Den members are ineligible to win the free month, but may win any of the other prizes.

Good luck, all!

P.S. If you don’t win, take heart — a month in the Den is just $25 — and there’s no obligation, you can quit anytime.

P.P.S – OK, I’m back with the winners! Congrats to ebook winners Michelle B, Penelope, and Amber E, who won three free ebooksThe Step by Step Guide to Freelance Writing Success, How to be a Well-Paid Freelance Blogger, and 13 Ways to Get the Writing Done Faster. Also excited to announce KJ, Kim H and Amy N snagged free 20-minute, 1-on-1 mentoring sessions with me.

And our 1-month free in the Den winner is…drumroll please…Cindy Brown! Congrats to all the winners. This was a very tough contest to judge, folks! I loved so many entries — you’re all awesome.

The Freelance Writers Den: Learn More

One Writer’s Success: 2 Paying Gigs With Zero Writing Clips

Posted in Blog on March 27th, 2014 by Carol Tice – 19 Comments

Freelance writer got the gig with no clipsBy Craig Baker

Every writer in history has stood at the starting line, pen and paper at the ready, eager for that big story that is going to launch them into freelance writing success.

But if you don’t have any professional writing clips — published articles — to give an editor when looking for your first writing assignment, it can make you feel a bit like the freshman serving punch at the senior prom. All you want is to get to the other side of that counter.

How do you go from wearing the server’s bowtie to owning your own tux in the world of writing?

Frankly, I don’t know yet. I’d say I’m somewhere in the tux-renting phase of my freelance writing career.

But I can tell you firsthand that clips will only get you so far. The rest is actual hard work.

My first clip came when I was fresh out of college; I sent an 800-word guest opinion to our local afternoon newspaper as it was spiraling down the print news drain into non-existence. Lo-and-behold, it was accepted.

The same paper took another piece from me a month later, though they printed a grievous error in the headline and then promptly went out of business.

Well crap, I thought. There went that.

Resurrecting my writing career

It was three years before I tried again. I opened my ears to what was happening in my city until something struck me as interesting, and then I pounced. It wasn’t a groundbreaking idea, but it was an idea. Specifically, it discussed various ancient Native American artifacts that can be found strewn throughout my hometown.

Though I’d been warned against writing a piece before shopping it around, that is precisely how I tackled the no-clips issue. I went ahead and wrote the article.

I wrote about 1,200 words on the subject (my best guess for the average length of other local articles based on a little cutting and pasting from the web into Word), did some research on query letters, and sent a pretty standard script out to the editors of every local publication I could find.

In my email, I told the editors I had stumbled on a neat little story about artifacts, there was a local organization tied to the information (I had a source), and I had guest opinions published in the extinct newspaper.

I sent the article out with my messages, and tried my best to forget about the whole thing.

Within a few days, two of the maybe ten editors I had queried sent responses, and to my surprise, one of them said yes.

The editor that accepted the piece told me that it was what he called “evergreen” (my first introduction to that industry term for an article that can run at any time because it has no urgent news hook). He would save the article until he needed one for filler.

Not the instant-clip-and-recognition I was hoping for but, six months later, it turned into a $100 paycheck.

The second editor rejected the piece outright but apparently appreciated my writing style enough to assign me an altogether different article for an upcoming issue of her magazine. Score! Two clients came from my one spec article.

Building on my success

As I waited for the rush that came with seeing my work in print, I knew I had also gained:

  • two publications I could continue to pitch, and
  • a stronger bio for pitches — I could say I had work pending with two publications.

Once the articles were published, I was able to use my small portfolio of local samples to land jobs with bigger, higher-paying clients within weeks.

My new clients included a $2,000-plus-royalties contract writing content for a video game development firm and an ongoing writing position with a language learning company for $0.25 per word.

I haven’t stopped since.

Putting in the work

What does all of this mean to you?

Simple: if you don’t have a clip, make one. If you don’t know how, learn more about article writing.

Learn about your target publications. How long are the articles? How long are the paragraphs in those articles? The sentences?

Are the pieces written in the first or third person, generally speaking, or do the writers use the “we” so common to alternative publications? How many sources does each article quote, and on which side of the story’s argument do these sources stand?

Preparing yourself with this sort of basic knowledge before you start writing will make sure that even your unpublished pieces are as close as possible to the real thing, which may just get you a second look from someone that calls the editorial shots. Don’t be afraid to jump in with both feet—you’ll never publish an idea if you don’t send a query.

How did you get your first clips? Tell us in the comments below.

Craig Baker is a freelance writer based in Tucson, Ariz., and shares author advice on his blog, Starting from Scratch. 

 

Writers: Soar Like an Olympian With These 4 Key Traits

Posted in Blog on February 9th, 2014 by Carol Tice – 25 Comments

Rising to new challengesIt’s a season of epic athletic contests right now. The just past (awesome! Go Hawks!) Superbowl and the Winter Olympics have one thing in common: They take top athletes who’ve performed well all year on smaller stages and put them before the biggest audience they’ll ever have.

And then these pros — who have practiced untold hours and prepared for this moment often nearly their whole lives — have to choke down their fears and grab their shot at proving they’re the best.

You know what they remind me of? They’re like freelance writers who’ve been writing for their local biweekly who get that first national magazine assignment. Or small-business copywriters who finally snag a Fortune 500 client.

In every one of these epic athletic contests, when players go up a level, some reach deep inside and pull out amazing performances.

The best soar to new heights. While others crumble.

I’ve always been intrigued by the psychology of that. What makes the difference?

I think four things are key here:

Resilience

Stuff happens in life and things don’t go according to plan. Sources don’t respond. You get the flu on a high-stakes deadline, or the day you have to skate your long program.

It’s not what happens, but how you react to it that makes you a champion. Think Nancy Kerrigan getting kneecapped and then still managing to win a medal.

You need the ability to roll with it and carry on to deliver when it really counts.

Belief in yourself

Recently in the Freelance Writers Den forums, a member commented that when she writes for clients, a voice in her head is saying, “I don’t deserve this. I’m just doing what others can do better.”

People, this cannot be the tape that’s playing in your head if you want to make it in the big leagues.

Know that you could not have come this far without talent and drive. You have worked hard for and deserve all your accomplishments. (And if you think everyone else is writing better than you, go down to your local Chamber of Commerce and read all the brochures. Eye-opening, hm?)

Not only that, but you can continue to excel and go beyond what you’ve done before.

Human beings always have more unrealized potential waiting for a chance to shine, as these Olympic athletes always show us.

It’s also realizing that the gold medalist is not the only winner. To not spend all your time judging your performance against others.

Listen to interviews with Olympic athletes, and you realize simply being able to put yourself out there and compete at an elite level — or being able to write for a living – is victory. The journey is really the reward.

An Olympic medal — or a national writing award — should only ever be the cherry on top.

Inner motivation

What makes those skaters hit the rink at 5 a.m. and go back after school for more? Nobody can drag you to all those practices against your will.

Nobody can make you write and rewrite and polish your draft when all your friends are at the movies or on Facebook or going to dinner parties.

That drive to write — and to write better, and better — can only come from you. No coach or class can give it to you.

If you don’t have it, when you get called up to the big leagues, you may just balk. You may pass. Happens all the time.

I’ve talked to so many writers who were invited to pitch a top magazine, and then just froze. You have to be willing to take more risk, to stretch, to dare yourself to be more, if you want to move up.

Focus

It’s always blown my mind how Olympic athletes do their routines while people cough, scream, walk past, and blast music or even crank their earsplitting air horns. Often, while their top competitors stand there and watch their every move. (At least we don’t usually have to deal with that!)

The true champions are completely in a zone. Nothing will throw them off their game.

Meeting an article deadline while your kids whine for snacks, the laundry is sitting in piles, you need a shower, and your favorite TV show is coming on? Same thing.

What traits do you think make a champion? Leave a comment and give us your take.

Found Money: My System for Selling More Article Reprints

Posted in Blog on January 30th, 2014 by Editor – 35 Comments

Get extra paydays selling article reprintsBy Carol J. Alexander

You’ve interviewed your sources, done your research, and worked your tail off to create a stellar piece of work — for a one-time gig.

Don’t settle for that single paycheck when you can sell the same story again and again to the right markets. Roughly one-third of my freelance writing income comes from selling article reprints.

Here’s how I do it:

What you can re-sell

You can re-sell anything you write so long as you retain the rights to it.

When you sell first rights or one-time rights to an article, after the terms of the contract are fulfilled, you are free to sell the piece elsewhere.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate contracts if they ask for more rights than you want to sell.

Where you can re-sell it

Generally reprints are sold to non-competing markets — different audiences, regions, or countries.

If you write “Supplements for the Menopause Years” for a woman’s magazine, a health magazine would have a different audience.

Chicago Parent and Houston Family cover different regions.

Chickens Magazine and Practical Poultry represent similar audiences in different countries.

Where to find markets

Generally publications with a smaller circulation, regional magazines, trade publications, and newspapers purchase reprint rights.

Haunt the bookstore, peruse the digital pubs found on Issuu.com, and scour the Writer’s Market for publications that buy reprints.

Read a magazine’s submission guidelines online or email the editor and ask if they purchase reprints and what they typically pay. Some publications have a set rate. Some will pay what you ask.

I have made anywhere from $15 to $50 on article reprints in regional markets. That might not sound lucrative, but I have an extensive list of publications that purchase reprints in one niche. If I sell one article 20 times for an average of $35, that’s $700.

If that article already appeared for first rights in a national magazine for $400-$500 or more, then I think pitching the reprint market is worth my time.

How to submit your work

I group potential markets by niche in my email address book.

When I have a reprint to submit, I write a snappy cover letter (email) describing the story, listing a few places my work has been published, and what I’d like to get for this story. I mention that if they are interested in the piece I will forward it as a Word document with an invoice. I then paste the text of the story after the email.

Keep your eyes peeled and continually add to your list of markets. The more publications you have to submit to, the more opportunity you have of re-selling your work.

Have you made money selling reprints? Tell us how — and how much — in the comments below.

Carol J. Alexander writes from Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Her work has appeared in over 30 national and regional magazines, several websites/blogs, and her local newspaper.