12 Survival Tips to help you manage the early days of becoming a Freelancer

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Image: Angela Shupe

Well the time had come, to step out of hobby land and into the strange, unknown world of freelance writing.  It was exciting and frightening all at once. At first I thought I was having a heart attack, but I was having chronic anxiety attacks instead. And I was waking up at night with ideas for articles running through what was left of my brain. I was on a high and I couldn’t wind down.

I knew my career as a freelance writer was not going to last if I couldn’t get some sleep and calm down. So what did I do? I pretended that I was not a professional relying on my own efforts to build an income. I pretended that writing was still my hobby and that it didn’t really matter if I wrote or not.

Strangely enough this psycho-tactic did the trick. It took the pressure off. I felt a huge load lift from my shoulders. Nothing had changed but the way my mind was coping had changed entirely. And I settled down into a routine that was less stressful and produced regular work.

 12 Survival Tips for the newbie Freelancer

  •  Attend to your appearance. Dress as if you are going to work in an office. I made the mistake of some days working in my dressing gown and not getting showered until about 4pm in the afternoon. I felt like a slob and a client on Skype caught me out one day. Never again. Always look as good as you can because it will make such a difference to how you feel.

 

  •   Decide on a writing routine and stick to it. Try to set a minimum amount of hours that you will write daily.  And if you write for more, then all the better. Housework, shopping and cooking are great robbers of your writing time. If you were working for an employer I am sure you would not be popping out to do the shopping now would you?

 

  •  Keep your desk clear.  When I first started, I had papers, books, notes for several jobs all cluttering up my  desk space. I couldn’t find what I wanted. It was utter chaos. Now I try to work on one project at a time and clean up every evening to that I have a clutter free space to start in the morning.

 

  •  Write a to- do list in the evening for the next day. List 3 things that you would like to achieve the following day. This gives you something productive to aim for when you begin.

 

  •  Buy a filing cabinet, store all those files that you will need to store in an organized way.

 

  •  Keep a record of all expenses related to your business for tax purposes.

 

  •  Educate your family and friends to leave you alone when you are working. Sometimes family members may sabotage your efforts to start your business, it is up to you to be strong and disciplined in relation to your work.

 

  •  Turn your answer machine on. It is easy to get distracted by incessant phone calls if the call is from an important client you can always get back to them when you have finished your sentence.

 

  •  Pitch yourself as an expert, this takes confidence and courage and this means turning down work that is not a good fit for you.

 

  •  Marketing yourself is an important part of the freelancer’s life. Build up your marketing arsenal gradually and regularly. List yourself on all  free online directory listings.  Build a wordpress website or use one of the other writers’ websites out there to advertise your services. There are many ways to market your business so decide on a marketing strategy and  allocate at least 2 hrs a week for this.

 

  • Read and educate yourself. Keep up with browsing expert writing sites and read consistently in areas that interest you.

 

  • Jump on the social media wagon and connect with others who can help your career. Always be ready to help others.

 

How to become a great writer- 10 actions to fast track your writing

6693016151_8ef778dc0a_zHey, being a  great writer is not easy. You cannot read a book on writing, or do a  writing course and suddenly expect the writing world to fall at your feet. Becoming a great writer takes time. Becoming a great writer takes practice, lots of it. There is no easy way. I know, I’ve tried to find it but it doesn’t exist.

The only way to become a writer is to write. Write a story from the beginning to the end or write an article from beginning to end. And then do it again and again until it gets easier. Did I say easier? Somedays it’s easier and  other days  it’s like pulling teeth BUT on those days don’t give up until you have a degree of success because this will give you the motivation to carry on the next day.

Everyone has a life outside of writing but the important thing to remember is that if you want to be a great writer you need to prioritise your writing over and above everything else.

There are no magic formulas  to becoming a writer but you do need 2 things that  I consider to be  the necessary platform to begin. Those 2 things are discipline and desire. Discipline is the ‘nuts and bolts’ of becoming a flagship writer and desire is the passion that fuels and drives  you to keep  motivated and on track.

Here are 10 actions to fast track your writing

1) Find a private place where you can write uninterrupted.

2) Develop a writing routine at a regular time or times each day.

3) Keep a notebook on you to write down any ideas that may come to you during the day.

4) Observe all that is  happening around you. Eavesdrop conversations. Read books and newspapers. Watch television and movies.

5)  Join a writers’ group  for support.

6) Educate yourself in the type of writing that you want to pursue.

7) Subscribe to great writing sites such as Copyblogger or Men with pens and read what other great writers are up to.

8) Write a short ‘to do’ list that aims to complete at least one writing assignment a day. If the writing assignment is large then break it down over a period of  time. Aim to have some successful, finished writing each day.

9) Follow your own writing rituals, don’t do what other writers do, do what works for you.

10) Write down your long term goals. Where would you like to be one year from now?

These 10 actions are just a beginning to help you on the way to being a great writer.

 

Clear the Decks for Writing

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Hi all,

I am still in holiday mode. But now it is time to settle back in my writing routine. First I need to clear the decks for writing.

Billy Collins wrote a great poem about this:

Advice To Writers

Even if it keeps you up all night
wash down the walls and scrub the floor
of your study before composing a syllable.
Clean the place as if the Pope were on his way.
Spotlessness is the niece of inspiration.
The more you clean, the more brilliant
your writing will be, so do not hesitate to take
to the open fields to scour the undersides
of rocks or swab in the dark forest
upper branches, nests full of eggs.
When you fiind your way back home
and stow the sponges and brushes under the sink,
you will behold in the light of dawn
the immaculate altar of your desk,
a clean surface in the middle of a clean world.
From a small vase, sparkling blue, lift
a yellow pencil, the sharpest of the bouquet,
and cover pages with tiny sentences
like long rows of devoted ants
that followed you in from the woods.

From: “Sailing Alone Around the Room”

I don’t think I will take to scrubbing the floors all night long, but yes I really do need to clean and clear the clutter before I can settle down to write.

Clearing the clutter in your office will clear the clutter in your psyche and help you prepare to write.

Our homes and our psyches are linked. Does clutter kill your creativity?

 

 

 

 

How you can be a blogging hero with your own writing style.

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When I began to blog, I found myself reading many different blogs that seemed to have nailed a great writing style. Many of them also had huge followings. I wanted to write like these bloggers. And so I did. I tried to imitate their cool style of writing. I even sent a guest post out in my new style. But guess what? I wasn’t successful. Why not? Because I was so busy trying to be someone else I forgot to be me.

Trying to write in a style that is not yours is a bit like putting on a pair of jeans that is 2 sizes too small, it’s impossible. In my desire to be a great blogger, I looked all around me for great ideas but I forgot to look to myself.

To be a blogging hero, you need to develop a distinctive style of your own. It is not something that you have to look for. It is there within you whenever you write.

By all means find out what other bloggers are writing, and what they are doing to achieve great results, but write what you want to write.  Be curious, be innovative but above all be you.

Many of the ingredients that make a writer can be learned, copied or changed but you are unique, there will never be another you, so enjoy your own special essence that you will bring to everything you write.

 

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Is your blog ‘blah blah’ boring or is it brimming with creativity?

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Are you having trouble coming up with new content for your blog?

Originality is a wasted search for it has all been done.

Look to the past and what has gone before with a fresh perspective.

Recycle well worn ideas into new directions.

Link the past to the present day.

Be curious, look outside the box.

Look to newspapers and the latest crazes. Look to Twitter. Look to your neighbourhood. What is happening now?

Forge new footprints that  reverberate like entrails in the snow.

Image: Stevendepolo 

Grow your business blog and community with stories

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Telling stories is a way that wisdom is passed around.

Do you live in a world of stories or facts and figures?

There is no meaning in facts and figures.

Stories touch our hearts and minds and make us feel.

And it is when we feel that we act.

In the telling of stories we learn what connects us all.

Ground your readers in real life stories.

Build your business community with stories that heal the great divide.

image: Kirybabe

 

What is a blog? And why I love Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles

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Everyone knows what a blog is. Do you?

A blog is a place where your readers can come and feel loved and wanted.

Is that how you see your blog?

Your blog is all about your readers and how they feel about you.

I love eating Rowntree Fruit Pastilles, I always have ever since I was a girl. I can’t just eat one of them, I keep returning to the packet until they are all gone.

That is what you want your readers to do. You want them to keep returning to your blog again and again because they love what you give them, a real feel good experience.

 Is your blog getting the results you want? Are you getting readers returning to your blog week after week?

If not, why not?

Traditional ways of marketing are changing. Your blog is not about who you are anymore it is about your readers. And your readers will become your subscribers who in turn will become your clients. You do not want traffic, you want visitors who will drop by regularly at the drop of a hat because they love the experience that you give them.

The future for your blog and your business rests with you.

 

More next time

Carole

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australian retailers have captured Christmas

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Christmas is coming and the shops are  already stocked with Christmas fare. But Christmas can be a really bad time for many people.

The older I get, my distaste for the routinely superficial Christmas spending frenzy that begins in August and continues  on until January, increases. Today the Christmas season is all about spending vast amounts of money, we really can’t afford, on people we hardly ever see, and eating vast amounts of food that we do not really want. Christmas is a time when the economy is booming and the people are broke.

I’d like to bin this tinsel Christmas, where there is no Christ, and replace it with a slower paced celebration where families take time to be together, to enjoy each other, in a tradition of fantasy and spirituality.  I yearn to recreate the magical memories of Christmas past.

I remember the cold sting of an English winter and the smells of my mother’s baking a few days before the holiday: hot short crust pastry stuffed with pork sausage-meat and sage and onion, fruity mince pies, and a Christmas cake laced with brandy. I remember my father bringing home a living pine tree and a fresh, free-range 20lb turkey on Christmas Eve that fed us for a week. The only time I  think that my father was truly happy was at Christmas as he directed my mother on the best ways to cook the bird.

I remember the Salvation Army brass band playing Christmas carols down the street and the collection box moving from home to home. And the miracle of midnight mass, one year, when the snow fell silently whilst we were inside the church. I walked home arm in arm with my mother, treading the fresh white snow singing ‘ Good King Wenceslas’ under the stars. A magical memory.

Up until I was 13, I still believed in Father Christmas and the wonder of an old man skimming the rooftops to deliver toys to all the children. My brother and I would leave him a nip of brandy and some sausage rolls for his supper and no matter how hard we tried we could not keep awake. It was my mother who kept the fantasy and rituals of Christmas alive as I also did with my children.

Many families dread Christmas because they do not have the funds to provide children with the latest gadgets and computer games that a materialistic society deems they should have. The power of advertising and the incentives of easy credit and shops, open to all hours, prey on the vulnerable. And after Christmas the stress of high interest rates, high fuel bills, credit cards to the max, and the high cost of food destroys many families.

Long after we are gone, our children will remember the happy times and holidays spent with family well over how much money was spent on them. Love cannot be bought. Sadly, I speak to many young and not so young people today who want to create the warm and loving family that they never had.

To preserve the magic and mysteries of Christmas for our children and grandchildren we all need to look to the past and re-create a homemade Christmas where love, fantasies and rituals take precedent over how many dollars pass through the checkouts.

What do you think about Christmas today? Do you prefer a more old fashioned Christmas or do you love the commercial Christmas of today.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section and  if you think this article has merit, share it below on your favourite social media.

Thanks

Carole

 

 

 

 

A Really Cool Way to become an Awesome Writer

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I’m about to change your life. I’m about to tell you something that will blow you away. Something that will rattle your brain cells into a frenzy. Something that is so obvious that everyone can see it except you. And what exactly is that?

You are already an awesome writer.

How do you feel about that? You don’t believe me?

Yes, you are already an awesome writer. You just have to believe it and do it.

 Confidence is the key.

As an awesome writer you must believe in yourself.

You must grow your confidence.

And in order to grow your confidence you must write every day.

It’s simple really:

  • Plan what you want to say first.
  • Write down what you want to say next.
  • Revise what you want to say next.
  • Rewrite what you want to say as many times as you want.

No one can tell you exactly how to write, but write about things that you are passionate about.

Dare to say what you want to say.

Be strong and defiant.

Write as simply as you can with plain words that everyone can understand.

Don’t worry if your writing is not up to your high standards. Persist. Persevere.

And above all be brave.

 

From one awesome writer to another please practice your writing skills in the comments.

If you think this post has merit please share it with your favourite social media below.

Thanks

Carole

Image by gerriet 

 

 

Does your blog have balls or is it dying? 8 ways to keep your blog alive by finding great content.

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Does your blog have balls?  Does your blog have fresh original content that will blow my mind?

Is it a place where I can hang around for a while to breathe in some new knowledge?

Are there insane and wonderful words that will draw me in again and again?

And what about the visuals? Are there a few snazzy photos or even a video?

Or does it serve up the same old mashed potato that’s been hiding in someone else’s fridge from last week carefully rehashed as a poor man’s bubble and squeak?

 Blogging is not an easy pursuit.

Just as there are many great and not so great books there are many great and not so great blogs. Many blog owners become disillusioned at their lack of subscribers. And the constant grind of coming up with useful content drives them to abandon their blogs.

You can see these, once loved, carcasses strewn throughout cyberspace and it is sad and eerie to dip into the pages of a blog that has died.

Have you ever felt like giving up on your blog? Is your inner critic setting you up to fail before you’ve given yourself a chance to shine?

Are you disillusioned with the dreamtime gurus who play with your head and spout porkies about how easy it is to make money from your blog?

You didn’t really believe them did you?

I did for a while…a very short while.

 Blogging is not a joy ride.

It can be bloody hard work. It requires passion, desire and most of all persistence. And when you are tearing your hair out about what to blog about, maybe these 8 ways to keep your blog alive will help.

 8 ways to keep your blog alive by finding great content.

  • Subscribe to at least 20 RSS feeds from popular blogs in your niche. Make a point of scanning these posts when you need inspiration to see what your sparring blogs are writing about.
  • Subscribe to 10 not so well known blogs in your niche that you like and that have content that resonates with you.
  • Explore blogs from other niches that may inspire you with the help of All Top where there is a very comprehensive list and links to blogs in all niches.
  • Set up Google alerts in subject areas of interest to you. This will provide you with the latest info. on what’s happening on the web in your chosen areas.
  • Listen in on social media sites such as twitter to see what the talk of the day is.
  • Join Linked in to connect with other bloggers or writers who may give you some fresh ideas from their conversations.
  •  Build a library at home in your niche. Whilst online info. is useful, there is also plenty of material for thought in the more traditional medium of books.
  • Download free samples of kindle books in topics that are of interest. You don’t have to buy the whole book unless it really turns you on; chances are that the sample will stir up some creative energy for your blog.

Blogging is not easy, nothing worth having is easy. We have to make things happen and it doesn’t happen overnight. We can’t give up without a struggle and we have to put our failures into perspective.

I have been recently talking to people who have decided to give up on their blogs, who have decided to give up writing altogether because no one is hailing them as the next Brian Clark or Jon Morrow. Is this you?

Are you trying to compare yourself to one of the greats after 5 minutes in the business? Are you feeling sorry for yourself because no one is beating a trail to your website?

Are you are giving up on your writing and blogging for no other reason than you think it is too hard?

No one will miss you if you run away.

So what are you going to do? Are you going to give your blog balls or let it die?

Please let me know by commenting below.

Or share it with your friends in your favourite social media below

Thanks

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