Freelance Fridays- Finding Work

Freelance Fridays is a series of posts meant to chronicle my journey as a freelance writer and help others looking to transition into freelance work.

Please check out my previous post, Freelance Fridays- Getting Started for tips on how to improve or gain skills in the area you would like to work in.

Now you’ve learned about the exciting field of copywriting, proofreading, editing, or whatever skill you chose. Perhaps you’ve created a spec ad, worked up some writing or editing samples, written a video script, or created a logo. But how do you get work?

The first step is to contact your friends and family. Let your network know what that you are pursuing copywriting (I’m using copywriting because that is what I am doing). In my case I had my first client before I finished my class due to the simple act of letting my friends know that I was taking a copywriting class. In some cases your friends will not just flock to you just dying to try out your new services, you will have to reach out to them

Create a Products and Services page on your website or blog. Your blog is likely an excellent showcase of your writing. A Products and Services page can bring customers to you.

Look for work online. Craigslist often has jobs or gigs in writing copy or content so this may be a good start. They also list more time work or work from staffing agencies if that is your goal.

Sites like Elance, Odesk, and Guru allow you to bid on jobs. Be prepared to bid on a lot of jobs in order to get started. These markets are pretty saturated and it can be hard to gain traction when getting started. You may feel like the work is going to the lowest bidder but keep trying.

Sites like freelancewritinggigs.com and mediabisto.com also have job listing in the field of writing.

Try sites like fiverr.com. An alternative to bidding on gigs at sites like Elance at fiverr you create the gig that you are willing to do for $5. This puts you in control. The great thing is that you can create whatever gig you want for $5. I am currently offering to write holiday letters for $5.  Once you gain experience you can start earning more by adding extras to your gigs. You can also find other freelancers on this site if you wanted to outsource work to a graphic designer, video producer, or illustrator.

Hopefully these tips will help you get started finding freelance work with your skill

Advertisements

The Care and Feeding of Hufflepuffs

This summer I got some life altering news.

No, it wasn’t that I have the autoimmune hypothyroid disease. It wasn’t any of the other health or life challenges that I’ve faced in a year that seems to mostly be about change.

This summer I learned that I’m a Hufflepuff.

I’ve taken many a Buzzfeed quiz, Facebook quiz, and every other quiz available and have pretty much lived the last 15 years under the idea that I was a Gryffindor. After all if Buzzfeed’s sorting hat says I’m a Gryffindor who am I to argue?

DSC00803

This summer I went to Pottermore and I got sorted. I picked my pet, answered some questions, and eagerly waited to join Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville, and Ginny at the Gryffindor table. But the Sorting Hat had different plans.  J.K. Rowling has spoken, through Pottermore, and I am a Hufflepuff.

IMG_0263

 

At first I was so devastated by this life altering news that I didn’t tell anyone. I mean I was a Hufflepuff, what was so great about that?

I made more of my friends take the Pottermore quiz. Secretly I was hoping more people would be Hufflepuffs like me and that I would find some solidarity with other Hufflepuffs. That didn’t work out the way I hoped I am a Hufflepuff in a Slytherin, Gryffindor, and Ravenclaw world. My friends are smart, brave, and ambitious. Me? Well, I can’t digest gluten, lactose, or yeast.

But then I started learning more about my house and even though I am a grown up it completely changed the way I see myself.

When Dumbledore gives a toast to Cedric Diggory at the end of Goblet of Fire he mentions the qualities that make Cedric Diggory an exemplary Hufflepuff. He was a good and loyal friend, a hard worker, he valued fair play.

I am all those things. I am loyal. I am a good friend. I am a hard worker. I value fair play.

IMG_0265

Once I realized that I am an excellent Hufflepuff I began to treat myself differently. I’ve met more Hufflepuffs. There are several Hufflpuffs at my lifeguarding job. It turns out Hufflepuffs make good lifeguards. It is sometimes hard to be a Hufflepuff in a world that values bravery, ambition, and intelligence.

Since realizing that I am a Hufflepuff I practice a different level of self care. It is hard to be a Hufflepuff in a world of Gryffindors, Ravenclaws, and Slytherins. Sometimes people walk all over you you because you are are a good, kind hearted, person. People roll their eyes and snap at you. Sometimes people laugh at you(see above video).  Sometimes people step on you or push you out of the way to get to something that they want.

Knowing that I am a Hufflepuff has helped me to value those qualities in myself- goodness, loyalty, hard work, fair play- and helps me nurture them. I take more time to nurture my goodness and loyalty.  In my own way I am finding ways to stand up for myself in situations where I feel like being a Hufflepuff isn’t valued.

What Pottermore house are you in? Was your house different than you thought it was and did that change how you saw yourself.

 

Law of Averages

I can’t believe that is it November 20th already.

I was flipping through my PiBoIdMo idea notebook and counting up my ideas. 20! 20 ideas!

This makes me unbelievable excited.

Not only am I excited because I feel like I’m on track with PiBoIdMo I’m excited about what all these lovely ideas mean for 12×12 next year. Drafts!

Years ago I took a photography class in college. This was back before the digital revolution when everything was done in film and you developed the film and processed a few of the strongest images. There was no delete button for images that weren’t good. Needless to say there were a lot of negatives that never became fully developed photos

As with all art classes there was an important lesson that has applied to my writing life ever since I took that photography class. Professor Goodman had a requirement for the number of images we would shoot in a week or while we were out doing assignments. There was a minimum number of shots in order to get a passing grade and then there was a higher number to get the good grades. The higher the number of shots you took, even if those shots never become anything, the better your grade.

Anyway my professor preached the law of averages as it applied to photography. None of us were natural talents, born with some special ability to catch a perfect shot the first time, with minimal shooting.  We were all just human and we needed to learn the law of averages. (I feel like this alone was a pretty groundbreaking lesson to teach college kids at a small liberal arts college where everything you do is celebrated, praised, and awarded) She said you have to go out and shoot a lot of images so that you had the raw material to work from in the dark room. Slack on the shooting part and you’d choosing between weak images for your photos. Shoot a lot of images and the likelihood that one of those images would be strong was greater.

IMG_2796

I didn’t become a professional photographer. The camera that I used in class was on loan from my father and my brother, who was Parson’s bound, needed to use it the following semester. I lacked the funds to purchase my own SLR camera at the time. But pens and paper were fairly affordable so I kept writing.

A few year later, when I was just getting started writing for publication I admit I didn’t adhere to my professor’s teachings. Naturally, I probably thought that whatever I produced was wonderful, publishable, the next best seller. I forgot Professor Goodman’s lesson, that I was human, that I was not some natural born talent, that I needed to play the law of averages.

The more I write, the closer I feel I am getting to the dream of one day having a book published, the more I come back to Professor Goodman’s lesson. I’m just human. I am not some natural born talent. I need to keep playing the law of averages. Writing 12 Picture Book drafts a year hoping that one or two of those can go the distance. Coming up with 30 picture book ideas in a month and hoping some of those can be turned into drafts that can catch an editor’s eyes. Writing scenes in novels that might never see the light of day. I have to write a lot of word in order to play the law of averages.

Freelance Fridays- Getting Started

A discussion with a friend inspired me to start a series of posts on freelancing- Freelance Fridays. Follow along on my journey as I learn the ups and downs of the freelance writing business.

I’ve always loved writing. When I got out of school and moved to Minneapolis I began taking classes in writing for children and dreaming of publication. Recently I began to wonder if there was a way I could earn money from my writing while I waited for my fairy godagent or fairy godeditor, I’m not picky, to grant my wish of a publishing contract.

Over the years I’d been taken in by those “get paid to write” sites where you write articles and other readers rate your articles and you earn like a tenth of a penny every time someone clicks through an ad displayed with your article. It took me 5 years to make $50 on one of those sites.

Then one of the ladies in my writing group suggested copywriting and I thought this might be a way for me to make some extra money to support my writing career while I wait for my fairy godagent to sprinkle editing dust on my picture book manuscripts and turn them into books.

The more I read about copywriting the more it sounded like a legit way to earn money putting words together. There were actually copywriter jobs in my area. The going rate for copywriters also seemed decent. And the idea that I could do this as a freelancer was appealing.

(I’m writing this from the point of view of a copywriter but I think the advice applies to other fields of freelance as well)

Step 1. Brush up your skills

Ok before you go rushing off to go back to school, hold up. Chances are you’ve already gone to college, or maybe not. The point is you don’t need to rack up a bunch of debt and go back to school to brush up your skill set.

I had no idea where to start. Sure I’d done some writing but I hadn’t done any copywriting. So I researched copywriting classes.

Free Resources

The library Start at the library. They have books, for free. Find some copywriting books, read them. Chances are any classes you take will refer back to these books.

Copyblogger– This site has a number of free ebooks to get you started with web copywriting. Things like writing effective headlines, SEO optimization, and the basics of copywriting are all covered in their free ebooks.

Classes

It isn’t necessary to go back to school. There are a lot of online classes to get you started or help you take your already existing skills and translate them into another field.

For copywriting I found classes at mediabistro. They offer several classes both online,  in person, and self paced. I am currently taking a copy editing course through them. They offer certificates in copywriting. I also found a copyediting course through UC San Diego and copywriting courses through NYU.

I took my copywriting class through Writer’s Digest. I chose them because the price of the class was right for me. Writer’s Digest is a name I trust. The class also promised the opportunity to work on a spec ad that could be used a portfolio piece in getting work. All this seemed like a low risk way to get started on a portfolio.

After my class I wanted to learn more about copywriting. A friend had recently finished an app development course on Udemy so I decided to check out a copywriting class through Udemy. I recommend this class. The instructor was great, he updates often, and encourages students to get in touch. The classes are affordable and it is a good way to learn new skills. Udemy offers classes in a broad range of subjects.

Part of being a freelancer means being willing to acquire new skills. As a freelancer you are going to need to wear a lot of hats when you get started. Having resources to expand your skills is a good place to start.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supporting Diverse Books

I’ve been waiting all week for pay day so I could finally donate to the We Need Diverse Books Indie GoGo campaign. 

I’m not going to lie, I felt fairly well represented by the characters in books but I’ll never forget when we read Beverly Cleary in second grade. Of course I wanted to read a Ramona book. I loved Ramona. Ramona had brown hair, like me. Ramona sometimes cracked eggs on her head, ok I never did this but I feel like I did similar things.

But my second grade teacher insisted I read a different book. Dear Mr. Henshaw. Wait, I thought. Was Miss Johnson crazy? This kid didn’t even live on Klickitat Street. Also the book was about a boy and I was a girl. But Miss Johnson knew Beverly Cleary’s books. I’m pretty sure she knew which Beverly Cleary book each kid in her class needed to read.

It wasn’t long before I realized why Miss Johnson wanted me to read Dear Mr. Henshaw. The main character in Dear Mr. Henshaw was a lot more like me than I thought. In his letters to Mr. Henshaw we see Leigh coping with his parent’s divorce, being a new kid, and his dad letting him down.

As a kid attending a small Catholic school in the eighties there weren’t a lot of people who had families like mine. But Leigh’s family was like mine. Unlike Ramona, who had two parents, Leigh had his mom. His parents were divorced or were getting divorced and his dad was often not there for him.

I will never forget the bright light feeling I felt reading Dear Mr. Henshaw.  It was the same feeling I got when I watched the movie E.T. and saw that Elliot’s dad wasn’t there and it was just Mom and three kids, like my family. It was the first time I really knew that I wasn’t alone in the my-parents-are-getting-divorced universe.

This is why diversity in books is so important to me. Because I know the powerful feeling of seeing something you are going through represented in a book and I think everyone needs the chance to see themselves represented in a book.

 

What November Feels Like

It is Day 2 of PiBoIdMo and already I have two story ideas in my notebook.

Have you ever noticed when you go to a kid lit conference and the atmosphere feels like it is full of ideas. As you are sitting and listening to presenters talk about the world of picture books you have all these great ideas that you just can’t wait to get home and jot down.

You wonder if all the good ideas have congregated there just hoping to fall into the imagination of some writer.

That is what November feels like to me.

A month where ideas, characters, and plots are swirling around with the leaves just waiting to fall into the brains and out of the pens or keyboards of some writer.

I did my first NaNoWriMo in 2007 and about halfway through the month, while I was working on my 1667 words for the day, I was hit over the head with a picture book idea.

I wrote it down because I didn’t want it to get away but at the time I wanted to write YA. At the end of the month I felt like the strongest thing I’d written was that picture book draft. I took a picture book class and revised and submitted. I got some positive feedback from and editor but that book never quite found a home.

But by that time I was hooked on picture books. While people at conferences spilled out of breakout sessions on YA novels I felt like my strongest work were my picture book manuscripts. I do still work on Middle Grade and YA projects but I still feel like my picture book manuscripts are my strongest work.

But it is interesting to see how writing begets more writing. Today I sat down to write my picture book idea for the day, I wrote down an idea, looked at pictures on Storybird to get ideas for future day, and then I wrote 500 words on another project.