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How to Write a Query Letter that Sells

How to Write a Query Letter that Sells

Finding Markets and Soliciting Work
    Breaking into freelance writing has a few hoops. One of those hoops is the query letter. As an editor, I regularly receive pitches like the following: I know a mover and shaker in the dairy farm industry. How about a story about dairy farming? Because this guy told me he is a college student looking for work, I explained to him a little about how to pitch an idea. But if I received this pitch from a professional freelancer, it would be deleted, without delay. Does that sound harsh to you? Let me explain. My first question is, "What about dairy farming?" Do you want to write about the history of dairy farming? New technology used in dairy farming? The consequences of the latest laws in the area…
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How to Make Your Editor Happy

How to Make Your Editor Happy

Building Relationships
  Many freelancers would pay money to be told How to Give an Editor What He Wants. But you don't have to because I'm going to give it to you for free. Why would I do that? I love teaching other folks what I've already learned. If you stop and think about it, it's a no-brainer and I can't bring myself to charge for no-brainers. Even after I tell you these two easy steps, I have huge doubts you will follow through. Did you catch that? There are two easy steps to giving an editor what he wants. Two! Ask, then deliver. That's it. Ask Honestly, all you have to do is ask an editor what types of stories he's looking for currently, and he'll tell you. Promise. I had…
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Batch Writing

Batch Writing

Productivity
I write different kinds of things for various clients. I write magazine articles. Some short, some long features. I write blog posts, my own and for other blogs. And I write emails. I also edit and proofread--magazine copy, websites and blog posts. In addition to writing and editing, I have email to answer--from several accounts. I have invoicing, research, phone calls, and a myriad other job duties. How do I get it all done? In batches. Once your brain gets into a gear, it's easier to just coast in that gear than it is to switch gears, mentally. (Picture coasting in 5th on the highway versus constantly shifting between 2nd and 3rd in city traffic.) In other words, your productivity is higher if you do a batch of blog posts…
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Are Your Stories Alive?

Are Your Stories Alive?

Craft
  Are your stories alive? Or are they boring narratives that no one wants to read? Here is an example: BORING The head chef said that the best way to get paper-thin slices of tomato is to use a sharp knife or a mandoline. ALIVE "Your knife must be sharp," said the head chef as he pinched thumb and forefinger together, sliding them through the air. "A dull knife smashes the skin of the tomato as it cuts and then you end up with something that may as well have been out of a can!" Three rules to making your story come alive: Interview people in person. If you must, use the phone but never email. You get your best quotes from conversation. You get your best descriptions face to…
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How to Write with Kids at Home

How to Write with Kids at Home

Productivity
  Sitting at the kitchen table with my laptop, I finally hit “print” for the article I’ve been struggling with for days. But nothing happens. Then the message appears: “The printer is out of paper.” “Not again,” I mumble as I hoof it to the next room, tripping over my six-year-old sprawled on the floor with crayons and paper spread about. “Like my pictures, Mommy?” That’s where my paper went, again. Many moms wait until the day their child gets on the school bus for the first time before they begin a home business. As a homeschooling parent for over 20 years, I’ve never had that option. Consequently, I’ve learned many ways to work alongside them. So, whether you have pre-schoolers or homeschoolers, the following ideas will help you write…
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Thoughts on Deadlines

Thoughts on Deadlines

Building Relationships
I can approach deadlines from two perspectives--the freelancer and the editor. From the freelancer perspective, I need deadlines. I once had an editor that told me to send the story when I had it and she would work it in. Really? To this day, I don't understand how she managed her editorial content. But, the truth of the matter is that I ALWAYS put her projects on the bottom of my list because I didn't have a deadline. Once I have the deadline for a story in hand, I put it on my calendar a full month ahead. For instance, if my editor asks me to turn in the story by July 1, I put it down for June 1. Why would I do this? Because you never know. You…
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3 Secrets to a Productive Day

3 Secrets to a Productive Day

Productivity
Many writers struggle with productivity. No wonder. Distractions come at us from every angle, every hour of the day. If you work from home, the children vie for your attention. If you work online, Facebook disguises itself as a chocolate bar--tempting, tempting, tempting. Business coaches have seemingly bred like rabbits, all eager to tell us how to spend our time. Yet the activities they promise will "move our business forward" don't actually get our work done. Writers need to write. Putting pen to paper, so to speak, is what generates income. Posting to social media channels, writing our own blog posts, live streaming on Periscope, creating fremiums to build our email list, researching markets, while all worthwhile activities, do not pay the bills. Secrets to a Productive Day So what…
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3 Reasons to Write for Content Mills

3 Reasons to Write for Content Mills

Finding Markets and Soliciting Work
According to Wikipedia, a content mill: is a company that employs large numbers of freelance writers to generate large amounts of textual content which is specifically designed to satisfy algorithms for maximal retrieval by automated search engines. Why so many writers feel compelled to start their careers writing for content mills, I will never understand. Here are some of their reasons: Experience--The experience you get pushing out one blog post after another is not the experience you will need to write magazine feature articles, website copy, marketing materials, or really, anything else you might like to do. Exposure--You will not get a byline, for the most part, for what you write for a content mill. So this is not a valid argument. Pay--Ha! Really? Five dollars an article is not…
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Have You Met Trello?

Have You Met Trello?

Productivity
Have you met Trello? O.M.G. I LOVE Trello. Trello is my new organizational tool. It is the only digital organizational tool I have stuck with using. You see, I'm really a paper and pencil kinda gal and the digital things like Evernote are great at first. Then, I just can't see enough. I can't touch enough. And I ditch them like a bad date. But, Trello. Oh, someone heard my sighing. Trello is like using sticky notes on a bulletin board except they don't fall off when someone walks past your desk. And I can set up an entire project in one screen. Boy, do I wish I knew Trello when I was writing my book! Now, I use it to layout the magazine I edit and a blog I…
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How to Find Files without Cleaning off Your Desk

How to Find Files without Cleaning off Your Desk

Productivity
If you are a creative person, your desk is a mess. That's a given. I'm not about to tell you how to keep it organized, because that would mess with the right side of your brain and kill the flow of those creative juices. But what I will tell you is how to find folders on your desk. If all you use are manilla file folders, stop it. Today. Who ever found a manilla file folder in a pile of papers and other manilla file folders in less than a minute? No one, that's who. So, go wild and buy colored file folders. Better yet, buy ones with designs on them. I buy glossy pocket folders with pictures or designs on them for important files. For instance, my "outstanding invoices"…
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