Resources for Freelance Writers

freelance writers

Key information for freelance writers

Writer’s Weekly Helps Freelance Writers

Writer’s Weekly recently published my success story. This online newsletter offers terrific resources for freelancer writers and I invite you to check it out here.

Writer’s Weekly editors are looking for more success stories and feature articles. In addition, the newsletter lists jobs for freelance writers and information on self-publishing.

Consider what has helped you as a freelance writer.  Was it something as simple as changing where you worked or how you organized your tasks? Did you adopt new technology or change your website?

This past month I downloaded the free trial for InDesign and used it to lay out and design a monthly newsletter for one of my clients. It was a challenge and I made mistakes. But I know I won’t make the same mistakes next month and by learning this software I now have more hourly work for this client.

What are you doing to challenge yourself as a freelance writer, keep your skills fresh and remain valuable to clients?

 

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.

What Goes in Work Bags?

contents of work bags

What’s in your work bag?

Work bags are essential for freelancers. I rarely go places without mine. Not everyone can work at home all the time, even freelancers need to visit the outside world. Sometimes I’m meeting deadlines at soccer practice, cranking out words at a local coffee shop, or strategizing at a client’s office. I don’t mind leaving my home office but I do mind when I’ve forgotten something essential.

So I wanted to put together a standard ‘desk on the go’ that was always ready in case I wanted to head out the door and didn’t leave myself enough to check over the contents of the bag.

So I asked four creative professionals what they always pack in their work bags in order to get things done.

First I asked Susan Paff from Ideality Communications what she carries.

“Believe it or not I used to carry a travel file folder in my trunk. Now dropbox carries everything for me. A laptop, an iPad, an iPhone – I’ve worked from them all. Add Skype for conferencing and messaging and we can work from anywhere.”

Susan sent her answer using voice texting from Siri. I’m impressed at her multi-tasking.

Shawn Graham, who offers marketing services for badass small businesses, brings these items:

  • Laptop (with charger)
  • Tablet
  • Pen
  • Outlet
  • Internet Access
  • Table/Chair
  • Cell Phone (with charger)
  • Coffee
  • Ear buds (personal preference or if people are loud talking around you)
Both Shawn and Susan provide serious creative strategizing for their many clients. I wondered if writers have anything different in their work bags?
So I asked Jennifer Bright Reich, coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Losing Weight and
Feeling Great.

This is a great question, thanks for asking! I generally work in my home office, but each week when my boys are in karate, I usually take “the show on the road.” I have a large laptop bag that’s about the size of a piece of carry-on luggage. I always keep it packed and ready to roll! Even though there was some up-front cost, I bought duplicates of most things in my bag so that way I keep the extras in there and don’t forget to pack them!Here’s what’s inside:
Spare laptop cord
Spare mouse and my Disney Vacation Club mousepad (Will work to travel!)
Spare calculator
Pens, Post-it notes, pencils

I liked that Jennifer packs Post-it notes and I think I’m going to add that to my work bag. Local science writer Beth Skwarecki was the only one who mentioned a caffeinated beverage – maybe that’s why we make such good writing partners.

Here’s what Beth keeps in her work bag:

1. My laptop.
2. The knowledge/attitude that if I have my laptop, I have the tools I need to get work done. Even if I don’t have internet, I can draft, outline, or brainstorm.
3. My smartphone – in case I don’t have internet, I can still look stuff up. (Or take a peek at my email without getting bogged down in it.)
4. Headphones, in case people are getting loud; and a playlist that helps me tune out distractions. I like ambient music like God Is An Astronaut.
5. A notebook (and pen), or failing that, a scrap of paper. I write down things that pop into my head that I don’t have time to deal with at the moment; I also use it for brainstorming and organization. It’s like having an extra brain.
6. Extras that are helpful: laptop charger, usb cable to charge phone, caffeinated beverage or means of procuring same.
Of course everybody I talked to has some serious tech in their work bags. But old-fashioned paper snuck it’s way in there, too. It looks like almost everyone uses earphones, too, whether for phone calls or inspirational music. I feel like I’m well on my way to having a useful bag ready whenever I need to rush out the door. Of course I always have a nice selection of pens. They are so crucial to my productivity. But if you look closely at the photo at the top of the post you’ll see a funny little metal rectangle. I have no idea what it’s called but I call it a book stand or book holder. I’ve had it for years and I love it. It is always with me in my work bag, at my desk, wherever I go. It is my essential item.

 

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.

How to Be A Better Blogger (Part 1)

The Guilt Pen

The Guilt Pen

This is the guilt pen. I forgot it at a client’s office one day, and when I came back, noticed it on her desk.

“How’s your blogging going?” I asked.

“Slow,” she replied. “I just can’t seem to sit down and do it. I’m more motivated when you’re here to push me.”

I noticed my pen there and picked it up and transformed it from a little pen into a powerful talisman.

“See this pen? This is my pen. I love my pens. But I am giving you this pen and every time you see it, you will think of me and you will sit down and do another blog post. And if you don’t, you will feel guilty because I gave you a pen that I love!”

I gave her the guilt pen before Christmas and when I returned to her office in mid-January, she was extremely proud to share with me 8 completed blog posts ready to be edited and scheduled!

The pen is indeed a mighty weapon.

Perhaps you need a guilt pen in your life? Maybe you know what you want to say but need a nudge to actually get the words out? Find one on your own or give me a call, I have lots of very powerful pens to share.

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.

Can You State Your Business Goals?

Start today. Thanks to Runkeeper.com for helping me track my progress towards my running goals!

Early in conversations with potential clients, I ask them to state their goals for me. If they can’t state a measurable goal, I encourage them to work it out and then come back and continue the conversation with me.

It’s not that I don’t want the business. I just don’t want a dissatisfied customer. And if my customer can’t state their goals – in an objective way so it’s obvious whether we’ve reached them or not – how can they ever be satisfied?

You’ve probably heard of “SMART” goals before. If not, here’s a little tutorial from Stanford University:

A SMART goal is:

Specific (and strategic):  Linked to position summary, departmental goals/mission, and/or overall School of Medicine goals and strategic plans.  Answers the question—Who? and What?

Measurable:  The success toward meeting the goal can be measured.  Answers the question—How?

Attainable:  Goals are realistic and can be achieved in a specific amount of time and are reasonable.

Relevant (results oriented):  The goals are aligned with current tasks and projects and focus in one defined area; include the expected result.

Time framed:  Goals have a clearly defined time-frame including a target or deadline date.

This is the perfect time of year to take a good chunk of time – not a fleeting moment – and state your business goals. And if you need a writer or social media coach to help achieve some of these goals, just ask!

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.

How can knitting improve your writing?

Knitting, yarn

The more you practice, the better you get.

Knitting is an obvious metaphor for writing. Using your own two hands, you hold the needles and weave together a lovely fabric. You choose the yarn, you choose the pattern and you choose the end product.

Along the way, you encounter problems. You miss a stitch. Holes appear. Something goes wrong.

You have choices in knitting – you can back up and correct the problem or you can plow ahead and accept the finished product with all it’s flaws. When you choose to go back the awful feeling that you might never finish the project looms over your shoulder. Plowing ahead means you might feel embarassed to show your imperfect work to others.

Luckily, writing isn’t exactly like knitting. When you write, you can lay words to paper, plow ahead and then go back and make the edits and corrections you need. But even the best of writers needs an experienced editor to look over their work.

Have you recently completed an incredible piece of writing? Do you need a skillful editor to find the holes, the places where you left a stitch unworked? Give me a call and give you work the attention it deserves, so you can be proud to show off your finished product!

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.

Children’s media provides secret insight into business innovation

Creating a fantastic new product doesn’t always require starting from scratch. Just observe the world of children’s media. Some well-loved new books and television programs have sprung out of the marriage of two perennially popular themes. In our house, two telling examples are Shark Vs. Train by Chris Barton and Dinosaur Train on PBS Kids. Trains hold a lot of fascination for my boys, and adding big sharp teeth (whether from a live predator or an extinct one) is icing on the cake.

Consider your own product offerings and how you could re-combine them to attract new customers as well as seal the deal with your current ones.

When you’ve hit upon a brilliant idea, it’s time to share the news, and social media can help. You absolutely must have a strategy to engage the customers who are going to adore it and a good writer is key to a successful strategy.

Let’s do some brainstorming – what can you mix and match?

 

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.

Do you know when to follow the process and when to invent your own?

Follow your instincts

You arrive at work and find a lovely gift on your desk – a brand new box of Legos.

Do you dump them out on your desk and start stacking?

Or do you flip through the enclosed book to find a project you think you can tackle?

Legos are a double-edged sword. They literally provide the building blocks of creativity – versatile tools that allow kids and adults to experiment, envision and eventually build amazing creations. They are basically open-ended and come in a wide variety of colors and sizes.

But they also come with guidebooks that show you step-by-step how to build completed projects.

My kids get frustrated when they think they must create the projects outlined in the book. My husband and I love the fact they are trying to follow the rules (it’s a rare moment) but we are also dismayed when they refuse to strike out on their own and build “whatever they want.”

There are lots of reasons they’d rather follow the steps in the book, and they are the same reasons people are reluctant to be creative in their professional careers or work place.

1. No ideas. They don’t know what they want to make. My kids don’t have a brilliant idea or end product they want to build. They like the idea of building but have “Lego-builder’s block.” But they know they want to build. So instead of being patient and working on an idea or inspiration, they would just rather do what someone else tells them to do. How often do you just check the boxes at work instead of seeking a new idea or inspiration?

2. Fear of the unknown. They think they have to know what they want to make. My kids want to build, build, build. But they are not comfortable with just randomly stacking bricks until a idea comes to them. They don’t know how to explore without a goal. How often do you feel more comfortable just following someone’s else’s instructions instead of striking out down a path without a real goal in mind?

3. Scared to fail. My kids are really Lego-newbies. They don’t know how to make curved sides out of rectangular bricks. They don’t know how to build the internal structure that will give them the external design they envision. So instead of trying, failing, trying and failing again, they would rather just work through each project as laid out on the pages and guarantee a nice, unoriginal, project. Do you pick the path everyone’s already walked because it’s safer than trying something new that might not work?

When is the last time you played with Legos? If I handed you a pack today, would you follow the steps in the book or work on your own original design?

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.

Find the right writer for your project

How can a great freelance writer make your hard work shine? Consider one of my favorite writing assignments.

Tell me how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 

The worst answer is “you put some peanut butter and jelly on bread.”

Where do you get peanut butter? Where do you get jelly? What kind of bread? How do you put it on the bread?

It sounds so simple, but to really give the complete answer is difficult. There are so many pieces of information and steps to list.

Your business has a story to tell – it is unique and stands out from its competitors. But it can be difficult to express what makes your business special. Often you overlook your own best qualities, those details that set you apart, because you’re embedded in the day to day tasks.

An excellent writer can tackle this task and pull out the essential information and provide the details that your customers are clamoring for in a friendly, informative way and make them your fans.

Businesses that blog have 55% more business than those that don’t! What valuable information could your blog give your customers and win their loyalty?

Email me. Let’s talk about your ideas.

About Elizabeth Pagel-Hogan

Writer, Author, Social Media Coach, Reader, Runner, Triathlete, Wife, Mother.