Thursday, March 31, 2005
I would look at the magazines my teenage neighbor and her friends stashed away in their cupboards and think, “Heck, I could do that!” So one day, while she was away at school, I broke into her room and “borrowed” the magazines.
Teenage magazines have changed since we were teens, I can tell you that. No longer do they advocate sex after marriage and accepting everything for what it is. Teenage magazines today are a whole different gamut. So, if you go into shock mode quickly, this market may not be your cup of tea.
If you want to get published in the teenage market, you have to be familiar with the slang that kids these days use. Gone are the days of the grammar appropriate “I have a crush on…” Now girls are crushing on guys, hanging with their friends and trying to achieve super cool status. And if you’ve got a problem with that, take a chill pill!
Forget vocabulary, forget grammar. Throw all the rules your English teacher taught you in the trash, because you’re not going to need many of them. That’s the deal. When writing for teenagers, you’ve got to be one. You’ve got to think like a thirteen-year old trying to figure out if the guy she’s crushing on really likes her or not. It might not be a big deal for you, but for that thirteen year old, it’s her life. It’s important.
Which brings me to another important aspect—you have to give importance to the subject matter. If you think fighting with your best friend is no big deal, you have no place writing for this market. On the other hand, if you whole-heartedly believe that the sole reason of your existence is the guy you can’t take your eyes off, then you might have a chance. Don’t misinterpret this to mean that teenagers aren’t involved in serious issues, though. You’ll often find articles and issues for the serious teen—community service, road rage, drinking and even drugs—all topics that are given their share of space in these magazines.
Writing articles, quizzes and short stories for this particular market can be a lot of fun. Connect with the younger side of you and write about the ups and downs of high school, making and breaking friends, dating and dumping guys and most importantly, accepting the person you are—in mind and in body. Teenage girls have many more issues with their bodies than do boys, and this is the reason that girl magazines far outnumber magazines for boys.
Before you start though, you might want to meet up with some youngsters to get a hold of their priorities, their interests and their lifestyle. Until you don’t have the mindset of a teenager and aren’t capable of the thought processes of one, you’re not going to find success here.
In writing a query to the editor, the most important aspect is your idea and its presentation. Through your query, the editor has to know your voice, your talent and how much you understand this particular age group. It should be apparent from your query that you understand the publication and its requirements. The study-your-market rule applies even more strictly to this market as each magazine has its own lingo and voice.
The pay rates of these magazines, like other consumer magazines, vary widely depending on the publication and its requirements. In general, you can earn anywhere from $10 to $2,000 for a single piece. Quizzes are very popular among teens and again pay quite well. If you’re a cartoonist or illustrator, you can add even more. And you know what, you can get rich writing for teen magazines!
Once you’re hooked though, you’ll find that writing for teenagers is so much fun, that you’ll want to do it over and over again, money or no money. This is one market, where the fun simply exceeds the work factor. So, what are you waiting for? Bring out those high school photographs and like, get writing already?
Mridu Khullar is a full-time freelance writer and the editor-in-chief of www.WritersCrossing.com. Sign-up for her *free* 12-day e-course "Write Query Letters That Sell" at http://www.writerscrossing.com/ecourses.html
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Monday, March 28, 2005
Excerpted from Knock Their Socks Off! A Freelance Writer’s Guide to Query Letters That Sell
You know that you’re not supposed to start your letters with “Dear Editor,” need to follow proper formatting protocol, and should always send your queries to the correct person, right? You’ve no doubt also mastered the art of kicking out embarrassing grammar goof-ups, know more about your word processing software than you do about your fiancé, and have learnt the dangers of the begging routine (also known as the my-mom-thinks-it’s-fantabulous syndrome).
Why then, do most of your neatly-crafted, SASE-containing queries come boomeranging back? Maybe you’re making the mistakes no one’s telling you about. Here’s a rundown.
Not Moving Beyond the Bible
Writer’s Market is pretty much the most referred-to book in the history of writing. Yet, it’s probably the most incorrect. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I don’t like WM. The fact is I do. I religiously run over (okay, log on to) the bookstore every year and pay $35 plus an obnoxious $30 in shipping to get the darn thing, all-inclusive with its online version. Converted to my Indian Rupees that’s almost a month’s rent, and converted to normal non-writer Indian standards, some would consider me a freak. I then read every inch of every chapter, earmark every second page and underline every e-mail address until I’m positive I haven’t missed a single entry.
Yet, I know from my own experience, coupled with the experience of others that while a fantastic resource worth investing in, you can’t afford to make it your only resource. I learnt this the hard way, when I finally came up with what I thought would be my breaking-in idea for Family Circle. I’d almost given up on them so this time I decided to contact another editor who may be a little more receptive to my pearls of wisdom. But when I logged on, I found that—surprise—Family Circle was no longer accepting submissions. Darn, just when I almost had them!
Two months later, I logged on to a writing message board to get another unwelcome shock. WritersMarket.com was incorrect. Turns out, Family Circle never did stop accepting submissions. They were happily looking at queries, which would turn into $1 per word articles, while mine lay in a 1-cent-a-word editor’s Inbox somewhere in cyberspace. I was not pleased.
Now, I adopt a smarter route. I find the name of the markets that I’ve never heard of from Writer’s Market and look up their guidelines by searching online or checking out the market resources mentioned in Chapter 3. WM is in no way current; the listings are at least a couple of months old, and in publishing, many editors just don’t last that long. They get promoted, fired, retired—any possible scenario. You need to be up-to-date in this business. So don’t make a fool of yourself by relying on an outdated listing and addressing your query to the wrong editor.
Putting Too Much on Offer
Many of us are so desperate when we’re starting out, we’ll promise the world for a non-paid byline in a local newspaper with a circulation of fifty. I’ve been guilty of over-hyping my queries, too. One of my first queries to Woman’s Day (via e-mail, no less) promised a brilliant new twist on cancer prevention.
Foolish, I know.
I researched online, located some high-profile experts and sent off my neatly crafted query with the promise of interviewing a prominent author (who never responded to my four e-mails), tips that had never been featured in the magazine before (I’d never laid eyes on the magazine) and quotes from real people who’d used these techniques. Okay, you can laugh now.
Boy, was I glad that query never pulled through.
The first sign of danger is when you’re extremely anxious and praying that the assignment doesn’t come your way rather than the other way around. But more importantly here’s why mine didn’t: the editor probably knew right away that I was new to the game. I had no similar clips, no major publications in my resume and yet, here I was proposing not only a tough article but one with all the bells and whistles. Ambitious maybe. But I wasn’t giving any evidence that I was actually equipped to be handling such a well-researched idea. The editor was wise. She never responded.
That’s not to say that I’m unprofessional. If that editor had taken her chances, she’d get an impeccable article with quotes and tips on her desk at sharp 9:00 a.m. two days before deadline, even if had to travel to the other end of the world to get them. But she had no reason to believe that just based on my query letter.
Editors know how to distinguish hype from fact. If she’s working in a health magazine, there’s no way you’re going to give her health advice she hasn’t heard before. If you’ve just received a press release on the best foods to be eating to prevent cancer, she probably got it a week before you did. Keep the over-sell out. Pitch your topic and your idea, but don’t promise the world. You sure as heck can’t deliver it.
Making it a Grocery List
Being enthusiastic and having a notebook full of wonderful ideas is one thing. Irritating the crap out of an editor by sending her a laundry list of thirty is quite another. While you may think that you’re giving the editor a good choice of articles that she can file away for later use, she’s probably thinking that you have no clue which ideas will fit into her publication. While you may be happily assuming that she’s going to think that you’re capable of coming up with not just one, but many, many good ideas, she’s probably wondering, “Why is this writer wasting my time?”
In fact, even if an editor does like most of your ideas, chances are, she can’t assign all of them right away. She’ll probably pick her favorite, reject the rest and send them back to you. The next time you’re querying, you’ll need to come up with more ideas because you don’t know whether she rejected them because she didn’t like them or because she couldn’t afford to buy them. What a waste of effort!
I advocate sending one, maximum two ideas at a time. Exceptions to this rule however would be when the editor has requested that you send her a list or if you have a regular working relationship with her. Unless you’ve worked with someone before, they have no way of knowing whether you’re really capable of writing the article, or you’ve just bought a freelance writing book and copied query formats from there. Sure, you have some good ideas, and yes, you’ve even managed to write two coherent paragraphs. But will you stick to the deadline? Will you provide references and phone numbers for the fact-checker? How much editing will your piece need? An editor might take a chance on a new writer with one assignment, but she’s unlikely to give you another one until you’ve proven beyond doubt that you’ll be an asset and not a pain in the ass-et.
Not Following Up
It isn’t enough that we get rejected a gazillion times before an acceptance, write and rewrite articles and essays to perfection, deal with the loneliness of the profession and work with editors who can’t string a straight sentence together. But now we have to send e-mail after e-mail to stingy editors to remind them of our queries when they don’t have the decency to send a simple “No thank you”? Why should you be bothered?
Because you’re the one trying to make the sale.
Sorry, but that’s just the way it works. You’re providing a service, you’re trying to make a sale, so you’re the one who needs to follow-up. If it increases the chances of making a sale by even 0.5%, do you really want to miss out?
I’ve received word on a number of queries simply by e-mailing and asking their status. I’d rather have the satisfaction of knowing whether my proposal is in or out. Even if it’s a rejection, at least I know. Or it might actually bring a quicker acceptance. Just yesterday, I wrote to an editor asking him about the status of my piece. Within minutes, I had a response. They wanted to buy it. Would this editor have written to me had I not e-mailed? Yes, probably. Maybe that’s the reason it took so long in the first place—they were pushing it through the senior editors. But by being proactive, I knew right away. Had the editor rejected it, I could have sent it off to a competing publication, guilt-free.
Maybe the editor just misplaced your letter or lost your e-mail in transit and has no way of contacting you. By following up, you’ll get another shot at acceptance. It takes a minute to do, so just why wouldn’t you do it?
Not Making it Personal
In my first year of freelancing, my querying habits went a little like this: send a query, do the assignment, query another magazine, do the assignment, and so on. When the assignment for the first magazine would be finished I’d neatly wrap it up, complete with thank you notes and meticulous records, and then concentrate on the next assignments I had in line. Next time an idea struck for the same magazine, I’d query them again.
But in my first year of freelancing, while I did write over a hundred articles, I also lost out on getting personal with my editors and in turn, commanding more assignments. Once you finish an assignment for an editor, you stand double the chance of landing another one immediately. Since I’d keep on waiting for another hot idea to strike, I was beginning each new assignment on a fresh note. Too much time would be gone by and I would then have to re-build each relationship, re-create the trust, and re-negotiate each contract. I was getting frustrated.
Had I chucked that “an editor’s the boss” advice right down the drain where it belonged, I’d be getting more assignments with less effort. Now, I finish each assignment with an informal, “Great working with you! Is there anything else you might need for upcoming issues?” or I’ll just send another query. Every time I get my contributor’s copies, I’ll write to the editor to thank her for sending them and quickly mention something like, “I really enjoyed the piece on studying techniques. Here’s another idea that might work well in that section.”
This way, my name is constantly in front of the editor, and the next time I send a query, I won’t have to remind her that I’m the writer who wrote the cover story last year. She’ll already know.
More query writing tips included in Knock Their Socks Off! A Freelance Writer’s Guide to Query Letters That Sell
Mridu Khullar is a full-time freelance writer and the editor-in-chief of www.WritersCrossing.com. Sign-up for her *free* 12-day e-course "Write Query Letters That Sell" at http://www.writerscrossing.com/ecourses.html
Friday, March 25, 2005
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
If you didn’t need the work, you wouldn’t be poring through Freelance Daily, would you? But when you have pride in your craft, and in your own perseverance, work ethic and quality of output, it’s important to realize that, no matter how you push or pull the project, you sometimes have to choose to pass it up.
Conditions that determine a big, fat, pink No slip include impossible or dangerous conditions of work, unrealistic deadlines, belligerent employers, psychologically damaging colleagues or supervisors, and payment rates that are far below industry standard.
You not only save yourself the agita and life-curtailing stress that comes with unrealistic projects and the snafus that go along for the ride, but you give yourself the blessing of endorphinic zest when you don’t succumb to the lure of putting yourself under an unappreciative thumb.
Feel you “must” take any work, no matter how appalling the pay or conditions? Consider what you do to others in your field if you can’t think of yourself: You ‘train’ the world to think less of you and your craft every time you accept a substandard job. In so doing, you make it easier for every potential employer to downgrade your skills, and the skills of your colleagues.
Net-net? Don’t hobble yourself—and the universe of other writers or editors—by accepting a demeaning wage or other condition of temporary or permanent employment. You’ll boost your self-esteem, lend yourself to better treatment in the future, and be free of the suppressed rage and resentment that unhappy projects invariably engender. And you won’t need so many vitamin supplements to lift you out of the basement depression that often follows.
Earning a fair recompense is as important for writers and editors, copy readers and proposal managers as it is for manicurists, cable companies and dentists.
Remember: Past is prologue.
Marion D. S. Dreyfus is a journalist, writer/editor, poet, film critic and intrepid world traveler. She is currently in New York City after returning from several semesters teaching at universities in China, and hosting a call-in talk-in radio show.
Monday, March 21, 2005
Some clients are just plain difficult to work with. It's not your fault, but it becomes your problem. Have you met the "client from hell" yet? No? One day you will. He pushes for unreasonable deadlines, communicates poorly as to what needs to be done, and vents his anger and frustration out on you if a job isn't up to his standards. ("Rewrites" or "redos" do not exist with this type of client - he expects perfect completion on the first shot.)
When I know I am dealing with a difficult client, I charge more. I have every right to, and so do you. I call this the Frustration Fee. It's better than turning down a project that will pay your next bill; besides, dealing with irate, difficult clients who put you through hell can be a great experience.
How much more should you charge for your services? It depends on the situation, and what you feel like charging. Some freelancers charge an additional $5-$25 per hour or add a fixed percent - like 20% - to the total bill. Here's when you should charge the Frustration Fee:
. A client for whom you already have done an assignment or project and you know he or she is difficult to please.. A client who wants you to redo another freelancer's work because the client decides it's "unsuitable."
. A client who pushes for unreasonable deadlines. If you're going to be up nights working on a project and popping Advil, you better make the client pay for your extra stress and effort.
. A client who needs you for a project immediately - but you already have exceeded your workload. Make the client pay more if you have to find time or work at odd hours of the day.
The Frustration Fee is supposed to help vent your frustration and soothe your stress. As I always say: Extra pay can make your day more enjoyable. Instead of calling it the Frustration Fee, maybe I should rename it to the "Client Accommodation Fee" - after all, a freelance business ought to be built with the client first in mind.
Brian Konradt is a former freelance copywriter and graphic designer, and founder of FreelanceWriting.Com (http://www.freelancewriting.com), a free website dedicated to help writers master the business and creative sides of freelance writing.
Saturday, March 19, 2005
A few people have written to complain that certain readers have been reposting Freelance Daily or portions of FD on other writing sites. This is a clear violation of the disclaimer that appears at the top of each issue and the copyright notice that appears at the bottom of each issue.
PLEASE READ: I have a zero tolerance policy for readers who repost FD content. If you post FD or portions of FD on other Web sites, list-serves, bathroom walls, etc., your subscription will be cancelled and NO REFUNDS WILL BE ISSUED.Drastic? You better believe it. Subscribers are paying for a competitive advantage, and posting this content elsewhere lessens that competitive advantage (interestingly, none of the offenders I’ve identified have paid for subscriptions so far, and one even emailed me a few weeks ago to tell me that she would never, ever pay for something she could get for free on the Internet).
I realize 95 percent of what I offer is available for free on the Internet (that should be changing after April 1 and we get our new Web site up and running). But for now, that’s not the purpose of the newsletter – the purpose is to collect all of the information in one place and save you time as you look for freelance work. So if you want to post these ads elsewhere, DO YOUR OWN DAMN RESEARCH.
I was able to remove a few of the more blatant offenders over the weekend; if you suspect someone is reposting this content on other Web sites, please LET ME KNOW.
Friday, March 18, 2005
Freelance court reporter, $500-$600/week (
): Part-time freelance writer/ reporter needed in Orlando , to cover area courts. Must be available afternoons, early evening. Must have news and/or business writing experience. Pay: $500-$600/ week. Apply by: March 14. Email resume and samples to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants may only apply via email. No phone calls, please. CONTACT INFO: Orlando, FL Christine Blank Court House News http://www.courthousenews.com 1111 Post Lake Place, Apt. 311 Apopka FL 32703
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Summer faculty coordinator (
) New York
FACULTY COORDINATOR FOR SUMMER PUBLISHING INSTITUTE -- BOOK PROGRAM
Center for Publishing NEW YORK UNIVERSITY Seeking an individual to serve as adjunct faculty for a three week intensive course in Book Publishing and to coordinate administrative aspects of the course (e.g., identify, invite and schedule about fifty guest speakers; prepare teaching materials and confirm curriculum). This course, which enrolls 100 recent college graduates, runs from June 6, 2005 to June 24, 2005. Qualifications: experience with all aspects and functions of book publishing and management, previous experience teaching adults and good interpersonal skills required. Please submit resume to: email@example.com. NYU appreciates all applications, but can only respond to qualified candidates.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Interested in breaking into writing or breaking into a new area? You can't go past writing fillers. Fillers are one of the most overlooked opportunities in the freelance writing world and offer one of the best opportunities for new writers.
Fillers Are In Demand
I've spoken to hundreds of editors and been told over and over again that fillers are the one thing they never get enough of. Most publications tend to publish more freelance fillers than they do freelance articles. Yet, they often receive 100 times more articles than fillers. This is a gap in the freelance market that you can take advantage of.
Fillers are a Great Place to Get Started
Many publications are careful about publishing feature articles from writers they don't know. Even if your article is good, an editor might decide not to publish you because they don't know you as a writer. This is especially true if you don't have a lot of experience or any clips. But even without experience or clips, most editors will consider a filler. In fact, many editors treat writing fillers as the testing ground to see if a writer can be relied on to write feature articles.
So not only can writing fillers get you some clips, it also has the potential to turn into a long-term writing opportunity. Consider fillers a stepping stone to much bigger things.
The Smart Way to Write on Spec
Fillers are almost always submitted on spec. This means that you avoid the problem of having to query the publication and sell yourself as a writer, because your filler is doing the work for you and showing the editor your writing skill.
The big argument against writing on spec is that you spend your time writing pieces that might never sell. Fillers reduce this problem because they are short and take less time to write. So even if your filler doesn't sell, you haven't wasted as much time as you would have on a longer feature article. Fillers are also more flexible, with few publications having set guidelines for fillers. This means that a filler will often be suitable for more than market. So if it gets rejected once, it's not a waste of time. You can just send it to a new market, often without having to make any changes.
Fillers Rely on Information, Not Writer Qualifications
Fillers usually rely on information, not on the writer's qualifications. This means that you don't have to sell yourself when you submit fillers. Instead, the information you put in the filler sells it for you. This makes fillers a perfect option for writers lacking the experience or clips to sell themselves to an editor.
You Can Write a Lot of Them
Since fillers are short, you can write a lot of them and submit a lot of them. You could literally have hundreds of pieces out in the market for consideration in a short time. And if you write them well, you could have a lot of them published in a very short time. That means you can build a list of clips fast.
And one other benefit is that magazines don't have as limited a space for fillers as they do for feature articles. So if your filler gets accepted, it's likely to get published fast. The same isn't true for feature articles, where an accepted article will often be scheduled for an issue a year or two away. That's one more good reason why fillers are a great way to build clips fast.
Once you've got the clips, then you have a few more options. Until then, fillers are a great place to start.
And one final tip. Once you have the clips and start moving into feature articles, don't forget about fillers. As you're researching a feature, take note of interesting facts, trivia, or anecdotes you come across. These can make fillers and be an added bonus, bringing in some extra cash and some extra clips.
Shelley Wake is the editor of "Getting Published Without Clips." Packed with inside information, proven methods, hidden markets, and more, it's successfully launched hundreds of freelance careers in record time. http://www.writingstuff.com/fs02m.html
Monday, March 14, 2005
Still, some ex-office drones might be missing certain creature comforts of cubicle culture, so I present the Freelance Daily NCAA Anti-Office Pool (I promise, no Freelance Daily Secret Santa or blood drives!).
Because enough of you have sent venomous emails telling me how evil I am for beginning to charge for FD, I have done two things:
1) There is no entry fee, so you can’t report me to the proper authorities for running an illegal gambling operation. Likewise, this is very much a “no purchase necessary” contest.
2) I have made first prize a one year subscription to Freelance Daily. If you’ve already paid, don’t worry. The grand prize subscription will be tacked on to your existing subscription.
3) Second prize is six-month subscription and third prize is a three-month subscription.
To play, you just need to visit http://bracketmanager.com/enterBracket. You will need to set up a free user name, and then fill out your bracket online. After you have submitted your bracket, you need to click on “Edit League #.” When asked for a league number, enter 680. When asked for a password, enter officespace.
I should note I have never organized one of these online and have never used this company’s software, so I have my fingers crossed it will work. As best I can tell, it looks like we also have a chance of winning $250 (I’m not certain on this), so even if you have a comp subscription, it might be worth your while to play.
Friday, March 11, 2005
But subscribers get so much more than just the average of 25 new job leads by 9 a.m. each and every weekday. When our new Web site is launched this spring, you’ll have access to subscriber-only message boards and a searchable database with up to date info on more than 2,600 magazines!
There are few bargains in life, but this is one of them, and your complimentary subscription ends April 1. That means on April 2 hundreds of other writers and editors will have an advantage over you in finding work and making a living as a serious freelance professional.
Don’t wait any longer – the $24.95 reduced rate won’t last for long. Subscribe today!
Arrogance has a bad rap. We think of arrogant people as unpleasant to be around, full of themselves, and incapable of taking an interest in anyone else. However, when applied to one’s own writing, a certain measure of well-placed arrogance can be a useful tool.
Writing can be a scary enterprise. The writer puts herself out for public scrutiny in a way most other artists and professionals do not. When the writer publishes, she commits herself to the words she’s written for the rest of her life. Even if she changes her mind about what she’s said, others may still react to the piece decades after it first appears in print. This can make even the act of putting pen to paper (or more likely, fingers to keyboard) an anxiety-producing ordeal.
Then there is the schooling most of us received, which treated writing as a chore rewarded when well done or punished when poorly done, as opposed to a pleasurable activity for ourselves and our readers. Very few of us had any audience for any the writing we did in classrooms, other than the teachers who instructed, criticized and graded us. It’s no wonder most writers suffer from self-doubt rather than overconfidence. We tend to underestimate ourselves and our words, even when they come from the most powerful places inside us, even when we get accolades from the outside world, and even long after we finally get published.
Practicing selective arrogance can help disarm these nasty doubts. And, not to worry: If you are not arrogant to begin with, practicing the type of arrogance I suggest will not transform you into an insufferable braggart. Rather, it will help uplift you from the gutters of self-doubt onto the clean, dry road to getting published. Even if you do not feel in the least arrogant about your writing, you can still follow my simple instructions to act as if you do, with the same results: to get published, or to get published again.
Selective arrogance does not mean thinking of yourself as any better than anyone else, or as having reached the pinnacle of your skills. Rather, it means treating every word you write as a precious baby worthy of the greatest care and nurturance. Here’s how to do that:
Never, ever throw anything away, period.
Carry with you at all times a means to record your creative thoughts.
Record your creative bursts, even if other voices inside you are dismissing them with negative judgments.Trust your impulses and passions: if you feel drawn to write about something, write about it!
Eschew impatience-give your babies the time they need to gestate. If you’ve read between the lines, you see that these instructions have you do nothing more than treat yourself and your writing with respect. However, because many people have a hard time doing even that, I counsel my clients to behave arrogantly. It gets them giggling and releasing the feelings they have about their writing, and makes it easier to find that respect.
Although you may have read elsewhere to be prepared to throw away your first writing attempts, to release attachment to your early work and the like, nuggets of wisdom and creativity appear throughout a writer’s life from childhood through seniority. I advocate collecting and these and treating them with care, perhaps polishing them now and again. There is no magical moment when one suddenly becomes “a good writer.” Thus, your most novice scribblings become diamond mines.
The one time I disobeyed my own advice and discarded what was I believed was possibly the most poorly written sentence in history (or at least my own history), I rejoiced. Five minutes later, I needed the gem in a new sentence, and struggled to reconstruct the one I’d discarded. May you never make that mistake-do as I say, not as I’ve done.
These gems also shine through at unexpected times. This is why I advise my clients to carry at least some scrap paper and a pencil nub if not an electronic recording device. The times at night and in the mornings between wake and sleep often yield good raw material, so keep your recording device of choice bedside.
The idea behind saving every little scrap, writing everything down and cultivating the arrogance to believe these activities matter is that finished pieces often assert themselves over time, forming a coherent whole from little scraps, like a Rorschach, or getting that crucial letter right in the Wheel of Fortune. The key is to keep feeding the collage and trusting that something or things will emerge over time.
Not every sentence will necessarily lead to an essay, book or screenplay of its own. But some might add that missing piece to make a good piece great. Even tidbits that go nowhere for now still give your brain a chance to exercise itself and keep your creative pathways well-hacked.
When it comes to choosing which pathway you’ll write your way down, trust your wild and wooly impulses. If you’re drawn to something, chances are you will make the subject come alive. You’ll seduce your readers by the very fact of your relationship to the material.
Finally, give your pieces the time they need to develop. Being an arrogant writer means honoring the gestation period your writings must pass through to be born into the world healthy and ready to engage readers. Honoring this gestation period may mean asking for help. Just as the dedicated gardener finds the right soil, fertilizer, seeds, watering schedule and equipment, so the arrogant writer finds her coach, buddy, copyeditor, ghostwriter, or colleague’s expert eye. I have seen writers move from stagnation to publication with the right combination of assistance. I love being part of that process.
Author Jill Nagle is founder and principal of GetPublished,http://www.GetPublished.com, which provides coaching, consulting, ghostwriting, classes and do-it-yourself products to emerging and published authors. Her most recent book is How to Find An Agent Who Can Sell Your Book for Top Dollar http://www.FindTheRightAgent.com.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
owner of Allfreelancework.com
Believe it or not, there are certain projects that you probably shouldn't accept. Turning down work is probably the hardest decision you will need to make when running your business, but sometimes turning down a gig is necessary. In this article I will explain to you the details that you need to consider when you aren't sure which route to take. Consider the following:
1. Will I Learn From This Gig? - As a freelancer, especially one in a technical field, you are expected always to be on top of new advances in your field. Therefore, taking a gig that will help you learn about something is probably worth taking on. However, it is important to make sure that you can do the job well even though it is new waters for you.
2. Is The Money Good? - If the gig pays a lot of money, taking the money without any other benefits is probably a good idea. I am sure that you have an hourly rate, use this rate as a gauge to decide whether to take a job or not.
3. Do You Trust The Client? - If a potential client gives you the heebie-jeebies then your instincts are probably telling you something. Do the potential client's references check out? If you mistrust a potential client, but the pay looks good, perform a background check. An untrustworthy client could cheat you out of a lot of money, and isn't worth the collection efforts.
4. Does The Project Fit With Your Moral Code? - If a potential client offers you a gig that really disgusts you, you need to turn the job down. If you do take it, you are definitely going to regret it. In addition, you won't be able to add this project to your portfolio … it just isn't worth it.
5. Will This Gig Help Build Your Contact List? - If taking this gig gets you in good with a few other contacts, then taking this job on is probably a good thing. Do your best on this job and soon it will lead to new opportunities. A gig that helps your networking efforts is very worthwhile.
6. Will This Job Lead to Widespread Exposure of My Services? - There are some gigs that don't pay well, but that lead to wide exposure. For example, designing a website that you feel is going to be big some day, or writing a column for a big website. Certain gigs will lead to a great exposure of your talents and will lead to a new influx of clients.
7. Does This Job Interest You? - If you feel this job will bring you great joy and excitement, take the job on.
Take a look at all of the above considerations. Ideally, a gig will encompass all seven of these considerations, but in reality this rarely happens. If not even one or two of these is true, turn down the job. Good Luck.
http://www.Allfreelancework.com - 1000s of freelance jobs, articles, and resources.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
- Ray Bradbury
Monday, March 07, 2005
owner of Allfreelancework.com
Some people call it a bid and others call it a quote or proposal. But no matter what you call this process, make sure that the document is concise, powerful, and easy to understand. Why? Because preparing a quote is an integral part of a freelancer's business and must be mastered in order to land work. Consider the proposal as a final step of the sales process. Would you buy a computer if you hadn’t read all the sales copy, and didn’t know how much it would cost? Of course not. Use the proposal to introduce yourself, sell your services, and focus the client's eye on you.
The first rule of thumb is never to bid blind. In order to obtain all the necessary information from your client, create a standard form that you can hand out at initial contact.
It’s generally unprofessional to bid on the spot. Instead, take all the information you’ve gathered back to your office to create an all-inclusive estimate. If you bid immediately, you’ll usually seem over-eager and unprofessional. However, this isn't always true. There are some situations where you can bid immediately, such as:
Bidding online at a site such as elance.com or allfreelancework.com. These sites are built on the idea of bidding on jobs, so obviously this is what you must do.
When you sense that a bid is merely a formality. However, if you do bid on the spot, make sure to slightly overbid to compensate for anything that you might have overlooked. Make sure that the client understands that this is just a preliminary bid, and that when all materials are reviewed, a formal quotation will be sent to them.
Now that you have all the information related to the project, it’s time to start the estimation process. It takes time and discipline to calculate the figures accurately. The most effective way to prepare an accurate estimate is to map out the entire project and all of its components in a Flow Chart. Although, at first glance, this might seem to be a waste of time, believe me when I say that this is the best way to get the most accurate estimate. You’ll find once you gain some experience that you can bypass this step with simple projects. However, with complicated projects, this step will always be necessary to obtain an accurate quote.
The Flow Chart
In order to estimate the time and resources you’ll spend on a project, you’ll need to visualize each stage of the job. In order to visualize a project in its entirety it is necessary to bring all the information together in a concise way in your flow chart. In order for your estimate to be accurate, you will need to make sure that the chart is comprehensive -– have someone else review it if you can.
Now that you’ve completed your Flow Chart, review the information. Are you able to visualize how much time each stage of the project is going to take? If you’re still unsure, ask yourself what steps are involved in each phase of the project.
Review your Flow Chart carefully and write the amount of hours you’ve estimated for each stage of the project into the appropriate categories on the estimation worksheet. If you aren't sure how many hours should go in specific categories, consider raising your estimated hours a little (it’s better to make a mistake in your favor than the client’s, don't you agree?). Multiply the number of hours by your hourly rate to calculate your total production time.
Next: what supplies or services will you need to complete the project? Will you need to mail anything? Will you need to print anything? Make sure to mark up these items by 15% or more -- buying supplies, going to the post office, and other small tasks all take time out of your day, and you’ll need to be compensated for this.
Also, review your Flow Chart to see whether you’ll need to outsource any work to a freelancer? If you do, you’ll need to contact a freelancer and request their bid – once you have this, you’ll be able to complete your bid. It’s difficult to work with other freelancers on a project, and for this reason, I’d mark up a freelancer's bid by at least 20% for the extra time that communicating with, and managing the contractor it is going to take. Now add up all the figures to calculate the total estimation for the project. Does the number you came up with look right to you? If not, review your estimation sheet to see what could be amiss.
Now that you’ve completed the estimation worksheet, you’re ready to begin to write your proposal. Keep in mind that a good proposal demonstrates your complete understanding of the client's needs, your ability to satisfy those needs, and the action that you are going to take in order to achieve those needs. Every proposal should contain these elements:
A Cover Letter
Any Supporting Documentation
The cover letter summarizes:
Why you’re sending the proposal
What the proposal is for
What will be done next and when
Any differences between what the client asked for, and what you have proposed
The proposal is the meat and potatoes of the package. Aim for a concise yet powerful and persuasive document. Make sure your proposal is easy to understand, is arranged in a logical order, and answers these questions:
What will you do?
Why will you do it this way?
How will you do it?
How much will you do it for?
When will you do it?
Every proposal should begin with an introductory paragraph. Summarize any information that has already been discussed in conversations or correspondence with the client, to convey that you understand the client's needs and wants. Next, summarize what the proposal will include.
The next few paragraphs will contain the solid content of the proposal. Include:
A description of the actions you’ll take in order to meet the needs of the client, and what the outcome of this will be.
An explanation of your skills and talents (as appropriate to the particular job), and why you’re perfect for this gig.
An outline of the total cost of the project.
An estimation of your time estimates for the project.
Information on how you’d like to be paid, and what payment schedule you’d prefer.
You might want to send some supporting documents along with the proposal package, such as:
Information about your business
Recent client list and testimonials
Examples of projects
Now that you’re ready to write the proposal, you might want to consider "dumbing it down" a little. Us computer geeks mightn't realize it, but not everyone knows what “cgi” or “asp” is. If you think a particular word might be over your client's head, don't use it, or explain what it means (but be sure not to insult your client's intelligence!).
Look at things from the client's perspective. You might even want to put yourself in his shoes and write a proposal that you think he would like to hear, however, never lie. It might be tempting to embellish your skills, talents, education, or experience, but this is illegal, as well as immoral.
Try to use a conversational yet professional tone in your proposal. Translate your services clearly into client benefits. All potential clients want to hear how you can raise their profit margin or cut the cost of something here or there. Take this approach throughout your proposal. Not only will it make you look knowledgeable, but it will also help justify in their minds that they need to hire you.
After you’ve written the proposal, review it carefully.
Have you met all the criteria that the client will be sure to look for?
Have you checked for spelling and grammatical mistakes?
Is the proposal clear and concise?
Have you addressed all major concerns?
Have you outlined all the major benefits of hiring you?
Is everything that you have written accurate?
Now, to help you begin work on your pitch, why not take a look at the following proposal template...
To finish, here’s an example of a proposal, which you can easily develop to your own requirements. Good luck with your next pitch!
999 Ithaca Park
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
January 01, 2002
Mr. Joe Jones
999 Hunt Drive
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Dear Mr. Jones,
After our phone conversation, I have researched all aspects of the Website that you are interested in developing. I am happy to say that I have come up with a solution that will not only improve your customer retention, but will also raise your profit level. The site I’ve proposed will be the only Website out there that sells this product, and it will allow customers to buy your product for a lower price than they’d pay at your competitor's stores. Below you will find my ideas for developing this innovative Website.
With 5 years’ experience as a programmer, I have the capabilities to provide you with the requested Web development work. I can complete this project well under your budget of $5000, and in less time then you have scheduled. Also, I will develop your online store with the latest innovative software. For just $200, we will be able to have customized control of this software, saving you at least $3000. With the saved funds, we will be able to market your site to the full extent that you described at our first meeting.
In summary, I’ve found a way to save you $3000. I will be able to complete the backend of the Website, Web graphics, design, marketing, and installation of the product software for $4200. I will be able to start the project on January 09, 2002 and I will have the project completed no later than February 28, 2002. If you’re interested, please feel free to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.
http://www.Allfreelancework.com - 1000s of freelance jobs, articles, and resources.
Friday, March 04, 2005
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
A marketing strategy is worthless if all it does is promote your freelance business and plea to prospects to hire you. Such is the case with many print and e-mail business newsletters. Few freelancers understand how to use a business newsletter to secure clients in the long term. Instead they use their newsletters to pitch their freelance services and advertise their qualifications. This method does not work effectively. It's why freelancers don't bother publishing a second issue — because prospects tossed out or deleted their first issue.
Harness the following techniques and you won't be a freelancer who calls it quits. Your business newsletter will be different and powerful. It'll serve as a business-builder, lead-generator, and repetitive project-producing money-making marketing tool.
GUIDELINES TO CREATE A BUSINESS-BUILDING NEWSLETTER Your business newsletter should serve multiple functions, not just one. Here's how to do it.
Function #1: USE YOUR NEWSLETTER TO SELL YOUR SKILLS AND EXPERTISE—BUT DO IT QUIETLY AND CLEVERLY.
Your newsletter should provide worthy, timely, helpful, problem-solving information — anything else, such as blatant promotion or bragging about the benefits of your skills and services, will trigger the prospect or client to toss out or delete your newsletter, including future issues. Learn to sell yourself cleverly and subtly. You can do so by showcasing specific examples, samples, and results you've achieved for other clients. Your newsletter should contain 80% information and 20% (or less) promotion.
You also can mention any awards you've received, if you did charity work for a non-profit association to help raise funds, spoke at a workshop or led a seminar, or had an article or book published. Both prospects and clients will enjoy reading these newsworthy achievements as they are reflections of your skills and abilities.
Function #2: USE YOUR NEWSLETTER AS A REPETITIVE MARKETING TOOL.
Securing a client is multi-step — and marketing repeatedly to the same prospect or client is vital to secure work. Publishing your newsletter frequently satisfies this need and increases the chance of the prospect or client outsourcing work to you.
According to marketing experts, it takes five consecutive times to make an impact. Publish your newsletter no less than bi-monthly. Monthly is standard. Weekly or bi-weekly is recommended, especially if you publish your newsletter online.
Function #3: USE YOUR NEWSLETTER TO INTEREST PROSPECTS AND CLIENTS IN WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY.
Your newsletter should contain interesting, problem-solving copy — not fluff or generalizations.
You can craft interesting copy by writing copy that:
a) solves a problem or problems;
b) solves a potential or future problem;
c) helps the prospect or client achieve better results;
d) lends valuable advice;
e) helps define his or her problem;
f) provides case studies of mistakes that other businesses have made and how he or she can avoid them.
Favor brief copy over long-winded sentences and endless paragraphs. Use periods over commas. Use a software program like StyleWriter, found at http://www.StyleWriter-USA.com, to help you write in plain english and to clean up your copy. Writing interesting, problem-solving, plain english copy makes the prospect or client read your newsletter immediately and increases the chance of securing work.
Function #4: USE YOUR NEWSLETTER TO BRIDGE TOGETHER YOUR COPY WITH YOUR VALUABLE FREELANCE SKILLS.
How does a prospect or client know you can exceed their expectations on their next project, if they decide to hire you? Because your newsletter subtly shows your capabilities. Make sure you bridge together the newsletter content with your freelance skills. Your newsletter content should be an extension of your experiences, skills, expertise, and knowledge. The client will realize you're well qualified to undertake his next project.
Function #5: USE YOUR NEWSLETTER TO GENERATE NEW WORK FROM EXISTING CLIENTS.
You may write for an existing client, but that client may not realize you also write other types of copy. You can make existing clients aware of your services by highlighting how some of your services have solved problems or achieved better results for other clients.
Function #6: USE YOUR NEWSLETTER TO BUILD RAPPORT AND ESTABLISH NEW RELATIONSHIPS.
When a client receives your newsletter, your information creates rapport and builds a relationship — two components that make clients hire you. Each issue of your newsletter should increase awareness of your expertise and keep your name and phone number fresh in the mind of the client.
You can build rapport and establish a relationship by:
a) writing in first person form;
b) providing insightful, expert-oriented information;
c) understanding the needs of the prospect or client;
d) subtly revealing your willingness and eagerness to help solve their problems.
Use a program like "3,000 Sales and Business Letters" (http://www.masterfreelancer.com/wsstore/wex001.html) to help you craft client-centric copy.
Function #7: USE YOUR NEWSLETTER TO PRESERVE EXISTING RELATIONSHIPS.
Communication is an essential link to maintain prosperous, long-term relationships with existing clients. Your business newsletter can serve as a communications mouthpiece, buzzing your name and phone number in front of the eyes and into the minds of existing clients, as well as updating them on new events about your business and how you're helping other clients.
Function #8: USE YOUR NEWSLETTER TO INITIATE A SELL OR PROVIDE REFERRALS.
Your newsletter has the potential to initiate a sell or funnel referrals your way. As stated before, when you help a prospect solve a problem or achieve better results by means of your business newsletter, he'll want to call you to produce similar results — or he may refer you to an associate who also could benefit from your skills and expertise.
Function #9: USE YOUR NEWSLETTER TO GENERATE EXTRA RESPONSES.
Your newsletter may be the first step in a multi-step marketing blitz to secure clients. You can include incentives to pull in responses.
For example, you can offer a Free Consultation, in which you ask the client to call you for free advice and solutions on his current project. You also can offer a Free Material Review incentive, in which you critique a piece of the client’s promotional material and then discuss the weaknesses and strengths. Or you can use your newsletter to advertise free information-dense articles or back issues of your newsletter (that have your byline and phone number on them).
Function #10: USE YOUR NEWSLETTER TO INCREASE THE VALUE OF YOUR SERVICES.
Because each newsletter focuses on your skills and expertise as a freelancer, each issue builds on the last one and emphasizes and re-emphasizes your skills and expertise. Your first issue may not have an impact, but by the second, third, or fourth issue, the client begins to appreciate your insightfulness and problem-solving skills and may rely on your skills for his next project.
Function #11: USE YOUR NEWSLETTER TO POSITION YOURSELF AS A TOP EXPERT IN YOUR FIELD.
The information in your newsletter can position yourself as an expert in your field, so use this toward your advantage. Begin to think of yourself as an expert — the best one around, and subtly convey this image in your copy.
To position yourself as an expert, subtly provide:
a) specific results you've gotten for other clients;
b) quotes from popular authors or keynote speakers to supplement and support your statements;
c) brief, interesting footnotes about what you've learned from books and magazines, or at workshops and seminars.
When a client realizes how knowledgeable and active you are in your field, he will begin to see you as an expert — and you will get the work, not another freelancer.
Function #12: USE YOUR NEWSLETTER TO CREATE AND PRESERVE A POSITIVE IMAGE OF YOURSELF AND YOUR BUSINESS.
You are responsible as to how other clients and prospects perceive you — and you can change, alter and manipulate your image with a business newsletter. For example, you can create a newsletter that pegs you as a freelancer with a special skill or talent.
© 2005 B. Konradt
Brian Konradt is a freelance writer and founder of FreelanceWriting.com (http://www.freelancewriting.com), a free web site to help writers master the business and creative sides of freelance writing; he is also founder of BookCatcher.com (http://www.bookcatcher.com), a free website to help authors promote their books.