Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Freelance Copyriters: Double Your Income

Freelance copywriters are a strange group of people when it comes to running their own businesses.They are outspoken and enthusiastic while selling their clients' products and services, but are hopelessly shy and reticent about blowing their own horns.They grumble and gripe about their clients being disorganized and unfocused, but are terminally disorganized and unfocused themselves.>> Yes, the situation is awash with ironyThe thing I hear most from freelance copywriters is that they feel too shy to promote their own services aggressively.They won't make cold calls.They won't speak at local business events, at conventions or conferences.They have never written a direct sales letter to send out to prospective clients.The result? The result is tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenues.>> Stranger and stranger...I would hazard a guess that the majority of freelance copywriters make only a fraction of the money they could. Their time is spent inefficiently. They work for too long on jobs that pay too little. They fail to replace low-paying clients with high-paying clients. They fail to negotiate higher fees for their work. They never outsource to other writers and make money on the margin. They pay too much tax. They put no money aside. Their cash-flow is horrible. Their promotional efforts are zero. And so on and so on...It's a ridiculous situation. Why ridiculous? Because as copywriters we expect to get paid well for the very set of skills we fail to use on our own behalf.>> Double your income by getting serious about your businessYes, if you work as a freelance writer, you are running a business. And as a business, you need to take things seriously.Can you really double your income? Of course you can. Just use your time more efficiently and get more and better-paying clients.We all know we have too many days when we don't get as much work done as we should. That's fine if you want to view yourself as a lone 'artiste' struggling with writer's block. But it won't cut the mustard if you view what you do as a serious business. Use your time efficiently. Get the work done.And promote your services. If you are truly too shy to pick up the phone or speak in front of a crowd, at least use your writing skills and create a promotional sales package you can send out to prospective clients.And here's the easiest way to double your income: get better clients and negotiate higher fees. In fact, the better the quality of client, the more open they will be to negotiation, and the more they will respect your work.>> Concluding thoughts...The first step to doubling your income this year is to change your attitude about your work. Think of yourself as a BUSINESS. You are. And apply all the disciplines that are used when running a business. Aim to make money. Organize your time. Get the job done.It isn't so very hard. And the result will be that you'll make a great deal more money, and will probably enjoy your work a lot more at the same time.
About the Author
Nick Usborne is a freelance writer, author and speaker. For more articles and resources on making money as a freelance writer, visit his site, www.FreelanceWritingSuccess.com. To find out more about doubling your income, read my review of Selling Yourself as a Copywriter.
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Monday, July 11, 2005

Writer's Block

Eighteen months into my daughter’s life, I sat down to write. About something. Anything. Two years ago, I had considered myself a writer. I knew that having a baby would mean less time to write; I anticipated tired bones dragging an aching body to the computer at three in the morning after a midnight feeding, or disregarding the pile of dirty dishes in the sink for twenty minutes with the keyboard during an afternoon nap. I had a romantic notion of an affair with my typewriter, finding each other in darkened hallways and spending a passionate five minutes touching, our time together always abruptly ended before we were ready. I knew I would be bursting with words desperately trying to come out, searching for outlets in each of my ten fingers; I imagined sleepless nights prolonged by an unrelenting urge to write wild fairytales that I would sprinkle with glitter and bind in a book for her sweet eyes to peruse as she grew. I thought that although the time would be sparse and of course I would never get to write everything I wanted, I would grasp those precious moments of peace with unheard of gusto, filling pages with drawings and poems and stories and other such craftiness. Never before had I had reason for such inspiration; the coming months would provide me with a wealth of creative fire, which I would put out little by little in the stolen minutes while she was napping or frolicking with her father. Imagination had been my buoy through life so far, keeping me afloat during even the most vicious of storms. I had felt love and death and brokenness travel through my blood and limbs to exit on a page of often sappy poetry and stories. And so, of course, in this most momentous time I was sure to be filled with such ideas as I had never experienced the likes of. So I knew there would be little time, maybe even no time. I was prepared to feel frustrated and loaded with a traffic jam of creative genius. What nobody told me, what I didn’t anticipate, was the complete lack of creative genius I actually felt. In all the classes and books and conversations with authentic mothers, no one ever told me that writers block was a possible side affect of giving birth. Those first few weeks when I sat down to excitedly to write the story of my daughters birth (an absolutely perfect night), I was shocked to find myself afflicted with writers block. For the first time in my life, I had nothing to say. But how could this be? Perhaps more than any other time in my life, there was so MUCH to say. And yet time and time again I hurried to the computer anxious to let the prose flow only to sit paralyzed. I eeked out miserable paragraphs, struggling with each sentence and never feeling fulfilled. I imagined my daughter reading these colorless words in the years to come and felt robbed of the gift I always assumed I would give her. The mother I was in my dreams recorded her first maternal days in a lively and dedicated journal, but I was quick to find out that we can’t all be Anne Lamott. It seemed that raising a child, at least a newborn, was in and of itself such a creative trial that there was none left over. And I had (read: had) a relatively easy baby. She was mostly happy; she slept peacefully nestled next to me, waking often but only to nurse and fall back into dreams. Friends and family were constantly around, feeding us and taking turns admiring her infantness. I was happy- elated, even- adrenaline pumped but still tired (although looking back on those days, I think, crazily enough, not as tired as I am now). I was perhaps steeped in delusion, filled with a Wonder Woman-like feeling that not only would I, should I, raise this little baby of mine, but I would also write beautiful stories and poems and adventure tales. In my post-partum craziness, I didn’t realize that I was spent. The hours of rocking and walking, of singing sweet lullabies and silly songs, conversations where I was the only one talking- this was where my poetry was written. The experience was not so dull and uninspirational as to neglect provocation of creative endeavor, nor was I suddenly transformed into such a dull and uninspirational person as to inhibit imagination. I was simply redefining it for myself. Temporarily.Eighteen months later I am only beginning to find words again. I am just starting to call myself a writer. I feel the spark again, deep in my gut, like an old friend I am so happy to let back in the door. My daughter still takes up most of my time. At eighteen months, she runs and plays and sings and talks; we dress up and kick down castles, dump out buckets of water and take long walks on the beach. There is hardly a moment to get a word down on paper, and sometimes I wait all week for that opening, only to find myself at a loss for words once again. But sometimes, when she has slept well the night before and had a relatively peaceful morning, she may fall asleep for an afternoon nap and I may have just enough energy to forgoe the nap and snuggle for an hour or two with the keyboard instead. What I realized is that not only is raising a child all the things that everyone tells you: it is also an art form. Raising my daughter, right now, for me, is an art. I paint her and mold her and shape her and write her into each of my own dawns, and then I stand back and admire her as she learns to paint and mold and shape and write herself into each of her own days.
About the Author
Abigail lives in Southern California with her daughter Ruby Jane. Her work has appeared in the anthology Loving Mama: Essays on Natural Parenting and Childbirth, on Mothering Magazine's website, and in Growing Up In Santa Cruz.
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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Knock-Out Writer's Block: Listening to Your Inner Voice

When I was young, I used to talk to myself. Long, drawn out, one-sided conversations. I didn’t have an imaginary friend, I just talked to myself. My mother says that’s why I became a writer: because of my overactive imagination. I admit she may be right. Those conversations currently get me through my worst cases of writer’s block.I have to laugh when I read articles on breaking through a writing slump. They always have tips like: go to the mall and make up a story about the people you see there..or..write down a dream you had the other night..or..think about the happiest moment in your childhood and write about it. You can even sign up and have a writing “prompt” emailed to you everyday. And I can’t help but think, Does this work for anyone? I mean, really? I’ve come to discover that I’m not like the average author. The normal methods of combating writer’s block do not apply to me. In writing mode, I can only concentrate on one novel at a time. I get distracted easily, so writing something on the fly only leads me down one path: The-Hey-I-Just-Came-Up-With-Another-Great-Idea-For-A-New-Book-So-I’m-Gonna-Drop-The-One-I’m-Currently-Angsting-Over-And-Start-A-New-Novel path. Believe me, it’s happened before. I was young (seventh grade to be exact), just starting out, and I didn’t know any better.Now, I just put the novel away..and wait. The wait has been known to last six months to a year. Sometimes longer. For others, the time frame may be shorter, but eventually they will come. The inner voices, I mean. I no longer hold verbal one-sided conversations with myself. My characters have one-sided conversations with me..in my head. When they start talking to me about dialogue and plot, that tells me it’s time to pull out the novel and jump in again.So, go on. You try it: Open up your mind and listen to your inner voice. If we ever meet at a conference or a book signing and you tell me that you’ve been hearing voices, I won’t think you’re crazy. I promise.Copyright © 2004 – Celise Downs. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author
Celise is a Young Adult fiction author and owner of Gemini Mojo Press. Her books, “Secrets and Kisses” (Mar 2004) and “Dance Jam Productions” (Sept 2004), are currently available on the publisher website at www.GeminiMojoPress.com

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A Cure for Writer's Block

Writer's block is a favourite topic of writer's, and no wonder….nearly every writer suffers from it at some crucial point in their careers. Writer's block usually comes to visit at the most inopportune times, like during projects of tremendous importance where there's not a moment to waste, or when there are firm deadlines involved and a nasty boss waiting in the next room anticipating a brilliant end-product. Writer's block is such a prevalent problem that articles, essays, books, and entire websites have been dedicated to the topic.How will you recognize writer's block? It appears like a blank page or screen that doesn't change for hours or days. It feels like stress and pressure. It frustrates and angers you and causes you a great deal of anxiety. You may experience an overwhelming sense of desperation and panic. You can definitely be sure you are suffering a mild case of it if you catch yourself staring at your blank computer screen, hoping that, magically, the keys will start typing on their own, and words will appear, nicely organized into coherent paragraphs and sentences. I think the worst case of writer's block I ever had was when I was writing my Masters thesis. It lasted for four complete years -- exactly as long as my last marriage. When the marriage ended, so did the block... funny how that worked.How often we sacrifice our own creativity for the sake of someone else. We turn off that inner light and give control to the other person, effectively killing our creative selves along with whatever drew them to us in the first place. It wasn't the first time I'd done this, but for sure it will be the last. I've made it a personal challenge to myself not to ever give away my power again! I will fight tooth and nail to hang on to every victory no matter how small, and to build on each victory until I see myself as the winner that I know I AM!What does this rant have to do with curing writer's block? It's the direct result of using a quotation to stimulate creative writing. I first learned this technique from reading Sarah Ban Breathnach's _Simple Abundance Companion_.The idea is to take a random quote and write whatever thoughts come to mind as you contemplate it. The quote I chose to create the above piece was Henry Ford, "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right."It's more apt to say that the quote chose me, rather than the other way around. I never know what I'm going to get when I reach into the box to pick a card. That way I'm not predisposed to sort through them until I find one I *want* to write about. The whole thing with writer's block is that the ideas aren't flowing the way you want them to. By picking a random quote and writing whatever comes to mind with what you get, you allow the words and the creative energy to flow in the direction it chooses. It's also surprising how often the random quote ends up being a message that is needed right at that moment. In this instance, I was feeling the trepidation that always comes after finishing a book and putting it out there. What if no one likes it? What if no one buys it? By the time I finished the first draft of this article, it didn't matter any more. My writer's block was cured, and my self-confidence got a boost in the process thanks to Henry Ford's eleven words from long ago.
About the Author
Ruth Ritchie-Farmer is the managing editor of Ritchie Media, and the author of Perceptions of Success: A Collection of Quotations. Visit her on the web at http://www.whytedove.net/perceptions.shtml to pick up your copy today.

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