ABCs of Freelance Writing: T is for Trade

tTrading (or bartering) is a legitimate way to do business for some freelance writers. Instead of working for money, you can do work in exchange for things you need to grow your business.

For example, I once made an arrangement to write several blog posts in exchange for some behind-the-scenes work on an old blog template that was giving me fits. The miracle worker I worked with got some great content, and I got a more functional site. It was a total win-win situation.

The more veteran the freelance writer, the less likely she is to rely on trading or bartering services. However, it still works out from time to time, and it’s a great way to build relationships with other small business owners. Before you barter though, beware!

Tips for Trading or Bartering

  • Work with someone you trust. I don’t suggest finding a barter partner by posting anonymous ads or anything. Work with people who have a solid reputation in their field—whether they’ve established their reputation online or through real-life professional networks.
  • Agree to the terms before the work gets started. It can be a little tricky trying to determine what’s a fair trade. Is writing worth more per hour than logo designing? It’s not always cut and dry, particularly when you consider the differences in experience levels. Work out the details of your arrangement before anyone starts work. No one wants to feel like they’ve become an indentured servant.
  • Don’t trade for things you don’t need. Remember that your small business is supposed to make money. Politely decline an offer that doesn’t make good business sense. Trading limits you because you can’t, for example, pay the light bill with a new blog template. When money is what you need, take bartering options off the table.
  • Know your worth. The most important part of setting up a trade for services is to understand what your services are worth. Stand your ground, because trading is a lot like negotiating. There are plenty of people out there looking to get something for nothing.

 

 

[stextbox id=”grey” caption=”About Word Carnivals”]This post is part of the January Word Carnival — a monthly group blogging event specifically for small business owners. (It’s the most fun you’ll have all month!) Check out the rest of the fabulous carney work here. [/stextbox]

The Definition of Freelance Writing

A guest post by Charlotte Bumstead

“Freelance writing isn’t for everyone.” These wise words were offered to me from my university professor after graduation. And it’s something I have struggled with ever since. I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. Sure, I had my moments as a child when I would dream of being a veterinarian or wonder what it would be like to be CEO of a large company. But I would always return to the freelance writerwords. They’re my safety net; my umbrella on a rainy day. To me, everything in life is made clearer and more manageable once it is written down. Little did I know, making a living out of the words would be much more complicated. And such survival tips weren’t exactly part of the required curriculum for earning my degree.

Many of the professors of my program were freelance writers who taught on the side. Perhaps for some, this is a planned career path, but I was aware the possibility of needing a double income was a risk I was taking in entering this field. Still, it did not deter me. The reward in following my passion and fulfilling a creative lifestyle has always been beyond dollar signs, in my eyes.

I decided to take the freelancing route because I really liked the idea of being my own boss and working my own hours; from wherever in the world I happened to be. I was aware this meant climbing a different type of ladder—one that could quite possibly collapse when I reached the fifth (or twenty-fifth) rung. But then I would find a new ladder, and apply my climbing experience as developed from the previous one. So eventually, with a little skill and a lot of determination, I would reach the top.

When people ask me what I do and I tell them I am a freelance writer, I tend to get a mix of reactions. Often I can hear the sympathy in their replies as they say, “oh, good for you,” or “wow, that’s got to be tough.” It’s true—the field is super competitive, and no, I don’t have a guaranteed paycheque that gets automatically deposited into my account every two weeks. Of course, all jobs have their pluses and minuses. And as I make my way along, carving my own path, I am constantly redefining what it takes to be a freelance writer. I thought I’d share some of the descriptions I’ve learned so far:

A Freelance Writer Is Ready For Anything

It’s important to be open to new opportunities and unpredictable possibilities. Today you might be writing about the top ten dog parks in Tennessee; but tomorrow your writing could change the world. You never know who will be reading your work, or who you might end up meeting for coffee the next day.

A Freelance Writer Controls His Own Results

Whether you’re a procrastinator or a go-getter—you decide—it is you who will see the effects of your choices firsthand. Work hard and put your greatest effort into every assignment to find the best results.

A Freelance Writer Does Whatever It Takes to Get By

This might mean taking on a second job when struggling to find new clients, or it could mean waking up two hours earlier to find time to write before heading to your 9 to 5. No one is going to hand over work to make life easier for you. If you want to be a writer and you have bills to pay or a family to feed, you might need to pick up a part-time gig on the side here and there, or give up the reality TV and spend the free time at your computer instead.

A Freelance Writer is Constantly Learning

As you continue to grow and improve, there will always be new challenges and fresh experiences. Take advantage of the wealth of information offered to you from everyone you meet and everything you read.

A Freelance Writer Lets Her Creativity Shine

Personally, I am happiest when in an artistic and inspired state of mind. It is a writer’s job to soak up every experience and share it with the world. Those amazing moments (both big and small) that really struck you as something special—chances are someone else will think they’re special too.

So yes, it’s true, freelance writing isn’t for everyone. But if you decide it is right for you, then you’re definitely in for a thrilling ride.

[box border=”full”]

Charlotte Bumstead Charlotte Bumstead is a freelance writer and blogger, covering a wide-range of topics, including: environmental, health, entertainment, technology and finance.

You can find her blog and portfolio on her website, or follow her on Twitter @c_bumstead.

[/box]

//
//

Playing the Name Game

Life Lessons for Writers Contacting Editors

A guest post by Terri Huggins

The name game. It’s a game that I’ve gotten way to familiar with over the years. The rules are simple. After mulling over every aspect of a pitch and practically driving a hole into the delete button, you proceed to rack your brain over the correct way to address a new editor. The hard part is realizing that you never know how to win the game; especially when there are so many options.

writer contacting an editorIf you are anything like me, you play this game on almost a daily basis and you still haven’t mastered the concept. Whose genius idea was it to have so many ways to address a person anyway? I think having the option to call someone by Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss, or by first name is over-kill.

In all honesty, the decision on addressing an editor wasn’t always so difficult for me. My parents’ tough love and strong feelings about respect and formality were instilled in me at a young age. And it’s still very much a part of me. Because of that upbringing everyone who I perceived to be my elder or superior was always addressed as Mr. or Ms. in person and in writing.  I even did the extra legwork for unisex names to make sure I addressed people properly. (Having a unisex name myself, I understand how annoying it can get to be wrongly called Mr. Terri Huggins so frequently.)

It wasn’t until I read a few advice columns geared towards writers that suggested pitches be written in a relaxed and conversational tone to show personality. Some even went as far as saying that addressing editors in a formal way was too rigid and showed no personality. Of course, I then went into panic mode. Was my attempt at being respectful, coming off as rigid and resulting in my pitches getting ignored? Nonetheless, I continued to address editors I hadn’t worked with formally unless told otherwise. Even after I got the ok to call them by their first name, I still found it difficult to break the habit.

However, getting permission to address editors informally when working with them got me thinking. Does that mean I was originally supposed to address them by their first name in the pitch? Did I do it wrong completely? Or was I just extended that courtesy having worked with the editor already?

I decided to do a little investigation by asking a few editors what they preferred to be called.  Unfortunately, I received a bunch of mixed responses that didn’t exactly help in the decision process.  The responses ranged from preferring a first-name basis initially to those who thought being addressed formally made the editor feel old and mean or that the writer was out of touch with the times. A few said that in this increasingly informal society, it is pretty much expected to use first names. Of course, a handful of editors suggested staying on the safe side by addressing editors formally for initial communication and then using first name for future correspondence. However, most editors said as long as their name was spelt correctly, it wouldn’t lead to automatic pitch deletion. (Definitely, helps put me at ease!)

While I’m still not convinced about the right way to reference an editor, I guess the moral of the story is to do what feels right considering there will always be many different opinions of the matter.

[box border=”full”]Terri HugginsTerri Huggins is a Freelance Writer/Journalist in NJ who specializes in bridal, beauty, relationships, education and business topics. She also writes marketing paraphernalia such as brochures, press releases, blogs and newsletters for local businesses. By night, Terri is a arts enthusiast, prima ballerina, education activist, and dedicated volunteer. Connect with Terri on Twitter: TERRIficWords or stop by her blog, www.terrificwords.wordpress.com. Professional Website: http://www.writingbyterri.com/%5B/box%5D

//
//

Writing Contest Prize Donations

blue ribbon

Last September some very generous prize donors—including Small Business Bonfire, All Freelance Writing, Dreaming Iris Design, The Writers Den, and Inky Clean—partnered with me for Writers’ Week, offering more than $725 in prizes to the Writers’ Week Writing Contest Winners.

If your company would like to support the next writing contest, simply fill out the form below. You will receive an advertising slot on writing event posts through April 2012 and will be given full credit for your contribution on the rules page. (View this page for an example.)

Photo credit: ba1969

 

Sponsor the Next Writing Contest on Suess's Pieces

I’m getting some great info from the writing contest survey, and several readers expressed an interest in advertising their blog or business during the event. Basically, there will be two ways to do this: through the writing contest eNewsletter or in the Suess’s Pieces sidebar.

Purchase an eNewsletter or Sidebar Ad Now

Ad Prices

  • eNewsletter Text – $7
  • Sidebar Text – $10
  • eNewsletter Image (125 x 125) – $20
  • Sidebar Image (125 x 125) – $30

How to Purchase and Ad

  1. Click on the link above and fill out the form.
  2. You will be directed to PayPal to finish your transaction.
  3. That’s it!

Other Important Details

  • Ads will be displayed in a section titled “Sponsors.”
  • Image ads will appear above text ads and will be displayed in the order received.
  • Text ads will appear below any image ads and will be displayed in the order received.
  • The ad form closes on February 29, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern. No purchases will be accepted after this time.
  • Suess’s Pieces sidebar ads will appear in the sidebar for all official event posts published in February, March and April 2012 and will remain on those pages indefinitely.
  • Ads in the eNewsletter will appear in all eNewsletters published in February, March and April 2012. (There will be a minimum of 5 issues)

Although I’ve made every attempt to ensure the form works properly, please let me know if you have trouble making a payment by contacting me at emily@emilysuess.com.

Thanks for your support!

 

Image created using www.istockphoto.com.

The Paper Chase

A guest post by Jeff Gregory

I guess I see my writing as a beautiful woman that I am trying to figure out how to court.  But like anything worthwhile, she isn’t making it easy on me.  No, writing is evasive.  She wants me to earn her affection.

journalI first caught a glimpse of her when I was in the third grade.  She came out in a writing assignment.  The teacher, I think, was merely interested in my knowledge of subjects, predicates, and verb conjugations.  Little did either of us know that she ignited a spark in me – a literary puberty, one might say.  And as puberty would have it, I was confused about what it was that I wanted.  I wasn’t prepared for the wiles of Writing.  There she was, but not with blonde curls and blue eyes summoning the wild oats of a young buck, my seducer was the thrill of a boy’s adventure in a cave in the forest – flowing from my own hand with a life all its own.   Then she was gone.

I never totally forgot about her. Years later, she spied me from the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.  In eighth grade, I dreamed up a Star Trek novel.  I made it through about seven chapters before my young mind was distracted by something else.  Yet, I was enthralled by bringing life to people and adventures.

My crush could not stay away. In high school, I wrote a poem.  It was similar to Poe’s The Raven.  It was a dark story using rhyme.  For the first time, writing batted her lovely eyes at me.  A friend of mine insisted on keeping the poem.  That was the first time I knew the romance was on – that this could be the love that I waited for.  However, waiting wasn’t enough.  I had to win her over.  The chase was on.

In college, my flame had transformed into somewhat of an intellectual.  An associate professor sat down and taught me to write essays in my freshman year.  I loved the structure, the rules.  My romance could actually have a formula – something that wouldn’t fail me, like math.  Two plus two is always four, right? On that stage it never did fail me, but I realized a romance is not really a romance if I only get to see her at work.  She wasn’t mine yet, so I continued the pursuit.

Since then, I have always tried to keep an eye on her and figure some way to finally make her mine. I have written a few blogs, worked as a columnist, and have done some freelance work. I have also started several versions of the “great American novel.”  Part of me thinks that is the real wedding – the successful, thought-provoking novel.  Another fragment of my mind believes that my love will always be elusive and unattainable because mystery is the biggest part of the romance.  Some day, I may let you know.  I plan to write my own epitaph.

[box border=”full”]jeff gregoryJeff Gregory does freelance writing and was formerly a weekly sports columnist for The National Indoor Football League.  He is currently the executive director of the Henderson-Henderson County, KY Human Rights Commission.  You can read his Psychosomatic Wit at http://psychosomaticwit.blogspot.com.[/box]

//
//

Virtual Goodie Bag for Writers

freebiesI’m no extreme couponer, but I do like to get something for nothing every now and again. This little collection of freebies for writers is my way of saying thanks for a great year in 2011 without handing you baked treats that will wreck your new diet. If you know of other free stuff on the internet for writers, please tell us about them in the comments.

Connect

  • Writers and Writers-2 are lists I curate on Twitter. Follow them to connect with other writers (and the occasional agent, publisher, editor or literary organization.) The only reason I created two lists is that I ran out of room in the first one. Stupid limits. I’m sure eventually I’ll have a Writers-3 to share.
  • SheWrites is a free social networking site for writers set up on a Ning platform. To be honest, it’s packed pretty heavily with literary/author types of writers at the moment, but there is still plenty of valuable information freelancers can cull from member posts. If you go, friend me.
  • Follow writers on Google+. For that matter, follow whatever shared Google+ circles float your boat. Have you seen this list? Follow writers, authors, aspiring writers, romance authors, screenwriters, science fiction writers, NaNoWriMoers. I mean, seriously? If you’re one of those people complaining that Google+ is nothing but dead air, you’re not doing it right. P.S. You can find and follow me here.

Learn

  • Revive Your Inbox, a 21-day program to promote better email skills and habits and help you organize your inbox. This is run by Baydin, the people who do Boomerang for Gmail. By the way, Boomerang is another freebie (as long as you stick with the free version) that you might want to check out. I use the free version for scheduling my own emails.
  • Free, self-paced online fiction writing course hosted by The Open University.
  • Use the free keyword density analyzer from All Freelance Writing if you’re working on search-friendly content for your clients—because math is fun, but not that fun.

Grow

  • AP Style Quiz. This quiz ran during Writer’s Week and continues to be a popular post on the blog. Go ahead, test your AP skills.
  • 100 Ways to Find Ideas for Your Blog Posts  (Kindle eBook, free at time of posting.)
  • Invoice up to three clients for free and track income and expenses with Freshbooks (affiliate link). Good for newbies, part-timers or those looking a free trial before they buy.