Showing posts with label writing skills. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing skills. Show all posts

Breaking Into Freelance Writing – Don’t Let Fear Stop You

By Karen Cioffi

Thinking of breaking into freelance writing, but feeling overwhelmed?

Unless you’re an established freelance writer, it’s easy to feel that way.

Maybe the thought of ghostwriting or editing a book seems daunting. Maybe the thought of writing articles and submitting them to magazines on a regular basis seems intimidating.

Well, freelance writing doesn’t have to be overly time consuming or difficult . . . or frightening.

Rather than taking on large projects or feature articles, you can find smaller, less intimidating work. The main thing is to get started.

There are lots of types of writing, aside from feature articles. You can write greeting card content, fillers, anecdotes, short articles or blog posts, letters, jokes, and more. There are many opportunities to write for money.

But, getting started and maintaining any business takes action. Procrastinating and ‘doing nothing’ is a sure way to NEVER reach your goals.

Dreams, well intentions, and even plans won’t get you from Point A to Point B without action. 

So, no matter what genre you’re writing in, or want to write in, take the steps to move forward.

Once you decide you really want to start a writing business, you will need to put time and effort into creating and building it. To do this, to move forward, start with these 4 steps.

1. Write on a regular basis - even if the writing isn’t meant for publication.

You’ll need to hone your skills – practice helps do this.

In addition, it’s a good idea to read ‘good’ copy and content. This will also help you develop and sharpen your writing skills.

2. Copy the masters.

Another trick to keep you moving forward while you query for jobs is to actually type effective copy and content written by pros.

This strategy helps train your brain to recognize good writing and will help you to emulate it.

But, a word of caution here, this is only a practice strategy – you cannot use another writer’s content for anything other than practice. That would be plagiarism.

3. Find resources to take advantage of.

You may be thinking that you just don’t know where or how to start.

That’s understandable.

The writing arena is broad and can certainly feel overwhelming when first starting out. But, there are a number of programs, classes, job boards, and other resources (free and for a fee) that you can take advantage of to guide you to gigs, publication, and sales.

Start by asking in your writing groups or ask more experienced writer friends if they know of tools and resources geared toward freelance writing.

You can also attend live conferences or online webinars. There are a number of free ones available online. In addition, you can do an online search to find resources.

There are also writing membership sites that offer lots of helpful tips and guidance.

4. Jump in - take action.

While taking the three steps above, you also need to actively look for work.

This means researching magazines for what they're looking for, querying for jobs, looking at job boards, getting your name and business out there.

And, getting your name out there means having an online presence - this means you NEED a website. And, your website needs to look and feel professional.

Don’t feel overwhelmed. Don’t let fear stop you from jumping in.

Take that first step. Then take the second, third, and so on.

If you look around, you’ll find lots and lots of opportunities out there for you to get started and move forward in your freelance writing business.

Here are 6 resources to help you get started today:

American Writers and Artists Inc.

Freelancers Union

ProBlogger Job Board

Morning Coffee Job Board

Become a Power-Blogger (Content Writer) in Just 4 Weeks

Become a Ghostwriter- Start a Money-Making Writing Business
New WOW! Women on Writing class


12 Ways to Build Your Freelance Writing Momentum
How to Increase Your Freelance Income
Your Website and Graphics

Writing Skills - Spread Your Wings

Writing has many different genres within the fiction and nonfiction realms. There are children’s, young adult, romance, mystery, fantasy, science fiction, poetry, memoirs, biographies, travel, health, food, magazine articles, business content, and much more.

It seems, most writers start off in one particular genre – with one particular set of skills. Often, they stay there. This may happen for a number of reasons, including:

- The genre is in their comfort zone.
- There’s an unwanted time element involved in learning a new writing style
- Fear stops them from venturing forward
- They just don’t think of the rest of the writing world around them.

Whatever the reason, the end result is that they may be missing out on another form of writing satisfaction and income. With today’s tight market, it only makes sense to take off the blinders and get the peripheral writing vision going.

For writers who are the young children’s or article writing arena, contemplating writing a full length novel may feel overwhelming. It may feel impossible.

This is where you need to take a step back and think ‘simple.’ 

Rather than dismiss a project for fear it’s too big or because it’s out of your realm of expertise, think simple. Write blog posts on the subject, or possibly articles. You can also start with a short story if thinking about writing a novel makes you uneasy . . . maybe draft an outline.

Start small.

Don’t let the enormity of the project stop you—write one page at a time.

This philosophy goes for any new writing area you decide to step into. If the project itself feels too intimidating, think of it as a learning experience with nothing to lose. The new writing skills you learn will offset the time and effort invested.

It’s true that most writers only feel comfortable in one or two particular genres. It’s also true that they may excel in those genres, their areas of expertise. This is a powerful combination that will certainly keep writers from taking off the writing blinders.

But . . .

The writing arena is full of opportunities. Taking the time and effort to develop a new writing style will certainly be an asset in your writing career. If your piece is accepted and published, you will have another writing accomplishment to include in your writer’s resume, as well as another avenue of income.

There’s an expression: nothing ventured, nothing gained. Why not venture forth today and spread your writing wings.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning author, ghostwriter, and author/writer online platform instructor. Get must-know writing and marketing tips at

Interested in being a ghostwriter? Check out Karen's new class at WOW! Women on Writing:
Become a Ghostwriter – Start a Money-Making Writing Business


Tips on Polishing Your Novel
Website Design – Keeping Up Appearances
Freelance Writers – What to do While Your Waiting for Work

Raise Your Standards

I was watching a video of Tony Robbins on youtube the other day and he said something that really stuck with me.

He said, "If you are unhappy with anything in your life, simply raise your standards in that area."

So what did he mean by that?

Well, according to Robbins, we all have standards that we have set for ourselves in all areas of our life.

These standards are the way we see ourselves and the way we think we are supposed to live.

We have health and fitness standards, relationship standards, and wealth standards, for example.

We probably set these standards for ourselves long ago based on something we were told or taught.

But, the thing is, many times these standards no longer apply to the life we want to be living now.

For example, long ago someone might have told you that you were overweight and it was a genetic thing.

You were just destined to be overweight and there wasn't much you could do about it.

So guess what?

You either accepted that and used it to create low health and fitness standards for yourself or you failed to believe it and raised your standards in this area.

If you raised your health and fitness standards, you started eating right and exercising regularly and eventually you were no longer overweight.

It might not have been easy.

But it wasn't impossible once you raised your standards.

We Set Writing Standards for Ourselves, Too

If you're a writer, you've set standards for this aspect of your life, too.

But have you set your writing standards too low?

If so, you probably aren't getting published regularly and you aren't making much money from your writing.

Examine the way you have set and accepted low standards for yourself as a writer.

Next, decide to raise your standards as a writer.

Write down your new standards so you're really clear about how you want to see yourself as a writer and how you want to live the writer's life according to these new standards.

Try it!

Build a career writing about what you know and love. Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer's Coach, can show you how.

Learn more about her 10-week e-course and mentoring program, Fearless Freelance Writing.

A Critical Skill for Every Writer

by W. Terry Whalin

With the ease of cranking words into a computer, it's easy to get lulled into the idea that anyone can be a writer. Yet the specific words you write are important. Which words are you selecting when you write and are you using the right combination?

Whether you are writing a children's book or a novel or nonfiction or a personal experience magazine article, your word choice is critical. How do you learn this skill? You will use it in many aspects of the work—from the title for your book or the headline for your article. Or the words on the back cover of your book which helps a reader know if they should purchase your book or press on to the next one.

In the writing business, creating words which sell is called copy and the specific skill is called copywriting. The good news is you can learn this skill as a writer. 

First, you need to be aware your word choice is important and can drive sales. Years ago as a young journalist, I learned the power of writing great headlines to draw readers. When you write a headline or the words on a website, what is drawing readers? Be aware of the response. Do people click your button and buy your material or do they breeze past it? Awareness is a critical step.

Second, practice. When you write a blog post or a magazine article or a book proposal or a book manuscript. Think carefully about the title or headline. Are you telling a story that pulls the reader into your writing? What are the words doing and are they achieving what you want? This type of internal analysis will help you be more deliberate about your word selection.

Third, there are skilled teachers who teach copywriting. One of the best in this area is Ray Edwards. Recently Edwards has published a new book, How to Write Copy That Sells. The book is less than 160 pages and covers key topics like headlines, emails, bullet points, irresistable offers, secrets of product launches and much more. Each chapter begins with an inspirational quote. Here's how chapter four begins, “Make it simple. Make it memorable. Make it inviting to look at. Make it fun to read.” — Leo Burnett

As an acquisitions editor, I read a great deal of unpublished pitches and manuscripts. Some writers have learned their words have power and they pull me into their manuscripts. Others lack this critical storytelling skill. If you learn this skill, it will increase your sales potential. It doesn't matter what you are writing at the end of the day you are selling something. The sooner you can learn this skill, the sooner your writing will be published and sell.


Do you have this critical skill for every writer? Learn About It Here. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He is always looking for good books to publish and his email address is in his twitter profile. He has written more than 60 books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and for more than 50 magazines.

Freelance Writers: What to Do While You're Waiting for Work

by Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer's Coach

160419_boredWhether you're a new freelance writer anxious for your first assignment or a seasoned freelancer anticipating your next assignment, don't sit back and simply "wait" for work. Instead, take these steps:

1. Get at least a dozen queries, proposals, or complete manuscripts out there circulating. Many beginning freelancers tend to put "all their eggs in one basket." They finally manage to get one submission or query out, then they sit back and wait to see if it gets accepted. That's a mistake. You need to have at least a dozen things circulating at all times to increase your chances of getting new assignments or selling your manuscripts on a regular basis. Regular sales are what make a freelance writing business. Don't expect a single sale to launch your business or take your current business to the next level. Instead, strive to create a constant stream of work.

2. Keep improving your writing skills. You'll do this naturally to some degree if you get a dozen queries, proposals, or manuscripts out because you'll keep writing. And your writing skills will improve somewhat just from the quantity of writing you'll be producing since we all get better the more we write. But also take a writing course or two. And join a critique group and take an active part in the group.

Successful writers constantly work to get better and better at what they do. And they know that getting the feedback from a writing instructor and/or other published writers (as in a critique group) can be the key to finally landing assignments and getting acceptance letters.

3. Continue to network (both online and offline) with other writers and with potential clients. A critique group will give you the opportunity to network with other writers. But also join writer's groups, clubs, and other organizations. Other writers can answer questions you might have about writing and the business of writing. You'll also learn simply from observing what they do and how they do it.

Besides other writers, you also need to network with your target market - your potential clients. The people who need your writing services can't hire you until they know who you are and what you have to offer them, so get known among your target market.

Take these 3 steps while you're waiting for work and you won't be waiting long!

All the best,

suzanne-cover 016-2 Suzanne Lieurance is an author, freelance writer, writing coach, speaker and workshop presenter. She is a former classroom teacher and was an instructor for the Institute of Children's Literature for over 8 years.

Lieurance has written over two dozen published books and her articles and stories have appeared in various magazines, newsletters, and newspapers, such as Family Fun, Instructor, New Moon for Girls, KC Weddings, The Journal of Reading, and Children's Writer to name a few. She offers a variety of coaching programs via private phone calls, teleclasses, listserv, and private email for writers who want to turn their love of writing (for children and/or adults) into a part-time or full-time career.

To learn more about Lieurance, visit her website at or

What It Really Takes to Improve as a Writer

What It Really Takes to Improve as a Writer 

Guest Post by Andrea Shay

According to the 10,000 hour rule, it takes approximately 10,000 hours to become an expert or a master of something. This equates to roughly 10 years of practice at 3 hours per day. If you want to master the art of writing - or even if you simply want to go from "okay" to "great" – you're going to need to put in some serious hours. One of the major components of improving any skill is putting in the time and effort to practice regularly.

In addition, creating any form of art requires the ability to think both creatively and linearly. Practicing other creative hobbies like visual arts, music and even cooking can help you improve your writing. Trying new things both in your writing and in your real life can also open up new worlds and give you new skills.

Also, it never hurts to take a few lessons from the masters. Learn about rhetorical devices and stylistic tricks you can use to make your prose as evocative as possible.

Practice A LOT and Learn New Techniques
Many aspiring writers make the mistake of doing only one of these two things rather than both of them. Writing a significant amount each day is important for improving your skill level, but you also must learn new skills and techniques and try them out in your writing as well. Writing alone isn't enough, and simply learning new techniques without practicing them won't help you improve.

Study and imitate your favorite authors and learn rhetorical and stylistic devices to create effect. Set aside a specific time to write, and do just that. Keep those fingers moving regardless of whether or not you write something profound or incoherent. You can always go back and edit later.

Put Your Whole Brain to Work, Not Just Half of It

For several decades people have promoted the mistaken belief that "artistic" or "creative" activities use only one side of the brain – the left side. Along with that idea went the notion that logical activities use only the right side of the brain. New evidence has emerged in the last few years that suggest that the two halves of the brainwork together during activities we tend to label as either "creative" or "logical."

To improve your writing, examine how you write.

Do you work more creatively with minimal structure?

Or do you work more logically, structuring everything down to the last detail?

Whichever you do, try to incorporate more of what you do least. If you're a structure freak, spend more time just letting your writing flow and see what happens. If you tend to sit down and write whatever comes into your mind with very little structure, try working in the opposite fashion and spend more effort structuring your characters or the events in your stories to see how that impacts your work.

Try New Things

Try new things, both in your writing and in your real life. Try a new technique just to see how it works out. If you've never tried a flashback, write a scene with a flashback. If you tend to conceive of the end of a story first, try starting in the middle and working your way out, or try starting at the beginning. And if the converse is true and you always start at the beginning, start somewhere else first.

If you always plot out your characters' personalities, try writing a few chapters before you fully understand your characters and let them become revealed to you. Additionally, practice other creative arts as well as logical tasks like math or organization. The more you can create flexibility between the two halves of your brain, the more flexibility you'll have as a writer as well.

Andrea Shay is an editor and writer, living in Sarasota, Florida. She holds a B. A. degree in English from U.W.-Oshkosh. She also works as an alternative healing practitioner and teaches the art of energetic healing.

Tips for Creating Subplots in Middle Grade Novels

by Suzanne Lieurance   If you’re writing a middle grade novel, you want to include at least one or two subplots. Subplots in fiction are sec...