Tuesday, April 15, 2014

At What Point Did Brad Pitt Stop Having to Audition for Work?

When I started blogging back in 2007 I did it just for me. With countless journals filled to the middle with my ranting and raving since as far back as 1989, I found blogging to be a cathartic experience. There were no readers on my blog for a long time, not until I started connecting with other writers.

But I had no idea at that time that I could take my voice and make money by posting. So in 2008 when I made my first few dollars from my blogging efforts, an entire new world opened up. I loved it and couldn’t wait to keep writing for a living.

No purpose or direction?

The problem? I didn’t know what to do with that experience and instead of pursuing more blogging jobs I started another blog. Shortly after that I began guest posting for a team of Green shop owners. There was no pay but I figured the exposure would be good. And for the most part, I was right.

The issue was I still had no clue how to go about doing this freelance blogger thing as a career. Instead, I decided to use my blog and the exposure on the team blog as a part time effort while I wrote and self-published both of my fiction books.

Even during my fiction writing process I knew there was something about blogging that I had to pursue in a full time way. I could be myself and write like I was having a conversation with everyone on the other side of the computer.

I loved it and my husband heard “why can’t I just get paid to do this?” on a weekly basis.

Turns out, I can get paid to blog!

So when I discovered the world of freelance blogging (thanks in big part to writers like Sophie Lizard, Tom Ewer and Carol Tice) and realized this wasn’t just a fun way to spend a day but a real viable career, I dove into it like a crowd surfer at Lollapalooza.

For a solid 6 months I built up my site with content that related to the experiences I had in learning about the world of freelancing, what worked for me, what didn’t. And then I got hit with a big personal setback that derailed me for a while.

Just last week I read a graphic that said positive thinkers are people who see a step back after a step forward as a cha-cha, not a disaster. I identified with it right away because the sentiment was exactly why I picked myself back up and started again.

A break wasn’t going to stop me from pursuing a career path I knew I was meant to follow.

As soon as I got back in the game I went after clients and work like a mad woman. I worked and sent numerous pitches every week and set a minimum of 10. Soon after, I managed to land a few clients.

Building on the confidence I got from landing those jobs I went back to pitching as soon as my schedule settled into a groove. More client work came my way and I was feeling great about building my business.

Not everyone will respond but sometimes you’ll be pleasantly surprised

Of course I didn’t land all of the gigs I pitched every month but that was okay. I was determined only to work with people who understood that my skills could provide great benefit to their needs for content.

So I allowed every rejection or email of shock at my rates to roll off.

I work hard. I never fail to go above and beyond because that’s just the A+ personality I have. My desire to only provide content that is researched, edited, re-worked and polished isn’t the norm in the industry today. That is, if you focus on crowd source sites.

Once you start to focus on moving away from the types of jobs that pay pennies for the hard work you do, something amazing could happen. A potential client might contact you directly.

It still feels strange to say it out loud but that very thing happened to me last week.

The potential client owned a shop in an industry I’m very familiar with. They were looking for a blogger. It seemed to be a great fit and I was on a cloud thinking that I might soon secure a new client. One who approached me!

In the end our financial positions didn’t gel and I had to turn down the job. However, I didn’t see that as a disaster either. It’s just as important to hold true to your business needs and what you know you’re worth as it is getting work and a short term paycheck.

I decided to focus on the fact that I got invited to try out in the first place. That’s pretty great.

It still feels nice to have readers leave a comment or shoot me a message on social media and I hope that kind of feeling never goes away. Even if I see the volume of engagement increase on every post, connections made every day, I still hope to get that burst of excitement to learn that someone has read what I wrote and responded to it somehow.

Because, in the end, whether I have to cold pitch or get invited to tell a potential client about my background, I’m doing what I love to do every day. And that is the greatest feeling of all.

How did you get to the point you’re at in your career? What methods did you use to find clients? Share in the comments!

Image courtesy Stuart Miles

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My blog has Gremlins; the only way I can reply on my posts is by using a separate pop-up window for comments. A new window opens when you click to comment.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Just a Little Something Funny for a Happy Friday

Good morning folks! This week has been a busy one with a bunch of work, both paid and personal, so my brain is having trouble processing a really great post today.

No worries, I have a couple posts on the table that I'll edit & put up next week. But for today please enjoy this funny image. Happy Friday and happy weekend everyone!

My blog has Gremlins; the only way I can reply on my posts is by using a separate pop-up window for comments. A new window opens when you click to comment.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What do Freelance Blogging and Fiction Writing Have in Common?

Here are two undeniable facts:

Freelance blog writing is a specialized skill.
Fiction writing is a specialized skill.

These two facts might make it seem like the writing in question must be worlds apart. But the truth is, the need for a special talent isn’t the only thing these two seemingly different writing styles have in common.

Can a freelancer write fiction and vice versa?

A couple of weeks ago I posed a question in one of my Google+ groups:

How many of you freelancers also write fiction?

I asked because I wondered if there were others like me who had an interest in writing both styles.

My question was answered with mixed responses. Some do, some don’t, a few want to start but have trouble finding the time. I was also introduced to a few professional writers who seem to tackle this duality with ease.

Back in 2012 I self-published two fiction books. I loved writing fiction; something I started doing before I even hit my teenage years. But my freelance writing took over as a full-time career shortly after Reckless Abandon was released and time to write my fiction has been sporadic at best ever since.

However, opening the question to a group of freelancers had me thinking about what made me transition to blogging in the first place.

Suddenly, I had a revelation. Blogging and fiction writing require the exact same skills.

Wait a minute, isn’t this a contradiction to the opening facts?

At first glance it might seem like I’m a crazy person because as I already said both of these styles require specialized skills. So how can those skills be exactly the same?

Yes, it is true that a blog and a book are worlds apart in their structure and content. Plus, the information presented in a fiction book is a lot different than a blog.

In a blog, a writer has only so many words to get their point across. Fast and informational is the name of the game. In a book, sometimes it can take thousands of pages to get to the crux of the story. Lord of the Rings, anyone?

So although it seems I’m disproving my own point I ask you to stick with me for another minute as I show you just how much these two styles of writing share.

Let’s study the various techniques of fiction writers

  • Maintaining a consistent voice.
  • Writing old topics from a fresh perspective.
  • Keeping it simple.
  • Staying on topic through outlines.
  • Writing to engage – pulling the reader through the book with dialogue and narrative.
  • Using writer’s license when applicable.
  • Pitching Agents or publishing houses.
  • Marketing and social media savvy.
  • Writing, editing, re-writing, more editing, scrapping and sometimes starting over.

Now, let’s study the various techniques of freelance bloggers

See above.

Because here’s the secret…

You’re a freelance blogger so you understand that there are certain elements you need to include in your posts that help move the information forward; help push the reader to the end of the post.

So let’s look at how all of those fiction techniques compare to their blogging counterparts.

Maintaining a consistent voice. Whether you write for your own blog, ghostwrite for clients, or spend your time guest posting, the most important thing you can do to become a successful freelance blogger is to become an authority. Authoritative writing is the same as keeping your character’s voice throughout a book. Think of it like this - you’re the character and the blog is the book. Like a fiction writer needs to use a vocabulary inherent in their genre, a blogger will use a voice that speaks to their niche.

Writing old topics from a fresh perspective. Everyone and their grandfather has written about how to make money online. Everyone and their grandmother has written a murder mystery. But if this is what you want to write about – be it blog or book – you have to find a way to say it so it reads like it’s new. Using creativity to conceptualize is just as important to a blogger as it is to a fiction writer.

Keeping it simple. Basically, only include info integral to the story. Same goes for blog posts. Readers don’t have time to follow fractured tangents. You can do this by…

Staying on topic through outlines. Setting a structure for your posts, like with a book, will keep the writing tight and easier for the reader to follow (and for you to write!).

Writing to engage. Though, like I said above, fiction writers pull a reader through with dialogue and narrative, the concept is the same for bloggers. A lot has to do with your voice and staying on point but giving the information in the right order is critical to a successful blog post regardless of length or topic. Make it fun to read!

Using writer’s license when applicable. Applying creativity to factual situations is another good blogging device that fiction writers use all the time. Including a story about someone we “know” who has been there and done it can help a reader believe it’s possible. Now I don’t mean to say we should lie (never) but sometimes the fish only looks that big because of the angle of the photograph. You dig?

Pitching. In blogging the pitch goes to other bloggers or Marketing Managers, but developing expertise in the craft of queries can mean the difference between a pitch being accepted or denied. This goes for books and blogs.

Marketing and social media savvy. Sharing our posts with a wider audience gains readership and helps establish that authority in your niche. Learning how to market is key for fiction writers and freelance bloggers.

Writing, editing, re-writing, more editing, scrapping and sometimes starting over. Do I even need to explain? A blog isn’t ready when the words first go on the page just like a book’s first draft is never likely to see the light of day. All writers need to edit.

In the end there isn’t a lot of difference in the approach of a blogger and a fiction writer. The words may line up differently and appeal to different markets, but the techniques used to get ideas out to readers are almost always the same.

Do you do both – freelance and fiction? Have you drawn from your creative side to make your blog posts read better? Share your experiences in the comments!

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I'm Jenn, a content marketer, Author, blogger, and owner of Copywrite That. I write for writers, the Green market and ghostwrite in various industries. Let me write for you too! 

My blog has Gremlins; the only way I can reply on my posts is by using a separate pop-up window for comments. A new window opens when you click to comment.