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Posts Tagged ‘Lisa J. Jackson’

Do you find yourself unmotivated or drained when you look around and no one is cheering you on to achieve your goals? Does lack of support make you question your dream?

If you find yourself here, stop, take a breath, and perform a reality check.

Here’s a secret: You and only you have the power to meet and exceed your goals and turn your dreams into everyday life.

Yes, I know sometimes it’s difficult to get on the rah-rah-let’s-go train, but, honestly, does it really matter what Friend A, B, or C thinks about your dreams?

We’re each unique and need to share ourselves with the world in a manner that is true to us, individually.

The only person we need to impress is ourself. If we end up surprising family or friends, it’s a bonus. But when we can prove to ourselves our dreams and goals are achievable, well, it’s euphoric.

In my working life, I seek out writing opportunities that push me to learn more — it’s the only way I can grow. And when I nail a project, well, I do a happy dance to celebrate.

Similarly, in my personal life, I’m focused on being a better runner. Running is still new to me, but I enter races, I show up, and I cross the finish lines. I’m not first, I’m not last, but I do my best in that moment. Kudos and cheers at the end are fabulous, but what puts the biggest smile on my face is knowing what it took me to get there — and actually getting there.

Lisa 2014 Millenium Mile

You, like me, may always work (or run) with other people, but it’s our own thoughts that keep the forward momentum going — that get us to the end of the project (or finish line).

If you keep moving toward your goals, step by step, little by little, day by day — no matter what others think or say — you will achieve what it is that you want to achieve.

Believe in yourself.

Repeat after me: “I’ve got this. I’ve got this. I’ve got this. Oh, yeah, I totally have this. YEAH!”

Now, go on and get this week started!

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She just crossed her 4th runner’s finish line in 2014 and danced on her way back to her car to celebrate the victory. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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If you enjoy helping people tell their stories, case studies might be a good fit for your writing business.

Companies seek professional writers (and pay well) for these effective marketing tools known as case studies.

Basically, case studies tell the story of how a customer decided on, purchased, and is using a particular product (or service) to improve their business.

Case studies can be as short as a few paragraphs (but the shortest I’ve done is 1,200 words), to four or more pages. 

Tasks involved in writing case studies include:

  1. Choosing a niche (medical, manufacturing, and so on), doing some research, and finding a company to work with. LinkedIn is a great tool for finding companies and contacts within those companies. Start with a keyword and then fine-tune the results until you have some companies you are interested in working with and reach out with a letter of introduction.
  2. Getting the details of the assignment. Once you land the job, know the length of the case study, ask for details on the product so you can become familiar with it, and ask for samples of past case studies so you can understand the tone the company strives for.
  3. Taking time to prepare. Whether the company gives you some questions to ask, or you have to create them yourself, be ready. You don’t want the customer to feel interrogated, you want to be professional, yet conversational and intelligent. This is usually a one-shot interview by phone, so it’s important to know what you need before the call begins. (Tip: Sometimes questions are submitted to the customer before the interview, but that doesn’t mean the customer will prepare ahead of time. And many times, great sound bites come from a simple “tell me more” during the conversation.)
  4. Conducting the interview. The most critical part of creating a case study is interviewing the key people involved in making the purchase decision as well as those who are actively using the product (or service). Even though time is precious during this interview, relax and build rapport. Let the interviewee(s) know you’re there to help them tell their story. Start off with confirming the spelling of their name(s), title(s), and roles(s) in the project. Move into the interview questions and end with an open-ended query, such as: “Is there anything we haven’t touched on that you feel is important to your story?” (Tip: Record the call so you can review answers later on — it’s a great time saver for all parties involved.)
  5. Writing. I find it best to write the case study immediately after the interview while the conversation and notes are fresh. Then revisiting the paper the next day for flow, first edits, and identifying holes; listening to the recording and filling in more information; and polishing until the case study is in the best shape possible.
  6. Submitting. The company will submit the case study to the customer for approval (but sometimes the writer is asked to work with the customer for fine tuning) and may come back to you for final edits, if any.

Case studies do include technical jargon, but it’s your job as the writer to make the story flow, no matter what the subject is.

What do you think? Do case studies sound interesting to you?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She’s wearing green today, not because she’s Irish or particularly celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, but because she needs color while the ‘long white winter’ continues in New Hampshire. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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Do you cringe when someone suggests that you get out and ‘network’ with other writers, business owners, or creative types?

Networking can be intimidating, I know. As an introvert who excels at listening, networking can give me butterflies if I think it’s all about me and my business and needing to say the right thing to the right person.

I’ve found a trick that helps with the anxiety. I put on a matchmaker’s cap. I go to an event with the intent to focus on others instead of myself.

Here’s what it entails: focusing on learning about a person and his/her needs and then seeing if I can connect that person with the ‘right match’ by the end of the evening.

If you do this, people will learn about you and your experience. And if can connect two individuals with specific needs to the person they are looking for, they’ll remember you — and what you do. And when they hear about a writing need, you’ll be a referral they can give.

Networking takes time, here are some other matchmaker-like tips that may work:

  • If you don’t have much writing experience yet, become a source for referrals; be open to recommending a more experienced writer if your experience doesn’t fit a stated need — if that referral gets hired, ask to shadow the process as a way to learn and gain experience.
  • Provide useful information through your blog, website, or other social media outlets. You don’t have to know everything. If you find an article or interview another writer, share that with your audience — you’ll get known as a person with resources and/or a person who knows how to find information.
  • Find a writer to emulate to build your confidence and experience. You’re probably already subscribing to newsletters or RSS feeds and following some successful freelance writers — what is it about those people that attracts you to them? How do they keep your attention week after week? Start emulating them with your own content and build your own following.
  • Attend events that attract the types of businesses you want to work with. As you get to know someone, you’ll learn more about a particular company and be able to learn the correct contact name or department.
  • Graphic designers can be a great resource for freelance writers — as not all designers are writers and not all writers are visual. Finding a designer who works with companies you’d like to write for can pay dividends for both of you.

Consider this: if you were looking to hire a writer, would you contact folks you already know, or start cold calling random writers? You’d call people you know.

In all my years as a freelancer, the majority of job opportunities have come from relationships I’ve developed with people.

What do you think? Does networking seem a little less scary now?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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Have you seen the movie Field of Dreams? There’s a voice whispering to the main character (who has a dream) throughout the movie: “If you build it, they will come.”

It’s a step above “fake it until you make it.”

And a couple of steps above visualization.

Journaling at the edge of the water

Capturing my thoughts while sitting at the water’s edge

A great starting point for getting what you want  is to write it down.

You can do this in a journal, or on a computer, or on a chalkboard or whiteboard, or simply on a single piece of paper.

Writing is powerful. Seeing your dream or goal in print in your own words helps you clarify what you are asking for — from yourself and from the universe.

When is the last time you wrote out a detailed description of your dream writing life? If it’s been a while, or never, why not take some time today (Mondays are great days for starting fresh, after all!) to think about what a day is going to be like once you are living your dream.

Some questions to help you get started detailing your ideal writing life include:

  • What kind of project are you working on?
  • Where are you writing? (cafe, room with a view, home, vacation spot, on the beach…)
  • Where do you live?
  • Are you traveling? (perhaps touring your book, or writing abroad)
  • What time of year is it?
  • Are you near/with other writers?
  • How does your day begin?
  • How do you wrap up your day?

Be as detailed as possible. Picture yourself in the moment in time and capture sights, sounds, tastes, feelings, and sensations. Whatever makes the moment real to you.

I bet that as you write about what you want, you’ll discover at least one way to start on the path to getting it.

Nothing to lose, but your dream life to gain! If you imagine your dream life, you’re taking a big step toward realizing that life.

My dream writing life includes a water view, walks in the sand, and kayaking at dawn.

Will you give it a shot?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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I’ve been a journaler since my first diary as a young girl.

Journaling is a way to get thoughts out of my head and neatly tucked away; a way of removing words/thoughts that distract me. Once I have something written down, I can stop thinking about it and move on.

I have this visual of raising my hand next to my ear, reaching just inside the ear, and pinching the end of a string. When I pull the string, I discover it’s a string made of words. Pulling some words out of my head makes room for others.

Of course, there are some days where that string seems never ending, like those colorful handkerchiefs magicians pull out of a sleeve or a pocket — color after color after color with no apparent end. But there is always an end to the words that need to be cleared away so that new discoveries can be made.

As I browsed through a book store’s magazine section yesterday, I discovered Art Journaling Magazine. It’s a magazine full of examples from visual artists’ journals.

Sketches, multiple colors, ideas, thoughts… Some journals had a bit of a scrapbooking feel, others were done in black and white, most had numerous colors on a page. It inspired my inner muse who loves to find new ways to express myself.

LeatheretteJournalMy mother gave me a beautiful turquoise journal for Christmas. The edge is embossed with a design and each interior page has a light imprint of the design. The color is attractive, the design adds personality, the soft leather-like texture is welcoming, and the pages are spectacular to write on (some paper accepts ink better than others). What looks like a snap cover is a magnetized button closure, and it’s depressed into the cover a bit, so that the journal plays nice if in a stack. There is also a ribbon to use as a placeholder between pages. Everything about the journal is welcoming and comforting and begging to capture words.

ArtistWayMorningPageJournalAnother favorite journal of mine is the actual workbook used for Artist Way Morning Pages. This is a large 8.5 x 11 book, so has heft to it, but it allows for more expansion on creativity with pages. The paper is thick and reminds me, for some reason, of paper I used in first grade when learning to form the letters of the alphabet.

As I flipped through the journaling magazine in the store, a lot of ideas popped into my head about how to add a bit of pizzazz to my journals as I make entries.

I’ve heard a lot about the online LiveJournal tool, too. I’ve never tried it, but I know it allows for more than straight typing of thoughts into the cosmos. And since it’s an online tool, there’s the option to share some of your writing with others. This intrigues me since I could attach photographs to the entries. It’s something I’ll look into. Here’s a listing of those tagging themselves for the writing community.

I believe that any way to clear clutter from the mind to make room for new thoughts is a great exercise.

What is your favorite way to journal?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. Journaling keeps everything in perspective. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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Do you enjoy the essay format? Or crafting poems?

Upcoming Chicken Soup Anthology

Upcoming Chicken Soup Anthology

Do you have inspirational stories that you share with others?

Have you written any of those stories or poems down?

Can you tell a story in 1,200 words or less?

If yes to these questions, check out Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

They are always updating their list of books that are open to submissions. As of this writing, the titles seeking stories include:

  • Angels in Our Midst (March 31 deadline)
  • Overcoming Challenges/Finding Inner Strength (March 31 deadline)
  • Stories ABOUT Moms (September 30 deadline)
  • Stories about the Christmas Season (August 30 deadline)
  • Stories BY Moms (September 30 deadline)
  • The Power of Forgiveness (June 30 deadline)

Chicken Soup has detailed submission guidelines that you want to follow. (It is so important to always follow stated guidelines for any submission to any publisher.)

To get a feel for what the publisher is seeking, you can find a copy of any past publication through a library, book store, online bookstore (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc), used book store, or even a family friend.

For an easy way to digest inspirational stories, you can subscribe to the Chicken Soup daily bulletin and have a daily inspirational storied emailed to you.

Payment for an accepted story is $200 plus 10 copies of the book your story appears in, upon publication.

I recently submitted to the anthology named Reboot Your Life. I’ll let you know when I hear something.

Do you have an essay market to recommend?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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Writer's Digest cover, October 2013

Writer’s Digest cover, October 2013

In a recent (Oct 2013) Writer’s Digest Magazine interview with writer David Sedaris, WD editor Jessica Strawser advises that “You can build a career as an author by playing to your strengths, following your true passion, going at your own pace and never shying away from your unique voice.”

I believe it’s true for any writing career and it’s what I strive for each day. It also ties back to my recent post on how your writer’s platform should be unique, like you. Here’s how I relate to the quote.

Playing to strengths:

  • New Hampshire — I have  strong family history in this state, and enjoy learning more about NH every day. This strength is great for my travel and history essays.
  • Varied background — My early working years were spent as a contractor for numerous NH companies ranging in size from small (under 20 employees) to large (multiple thousands of employees) in several industries such as manufacturing, beauty, engineering, retail, legal, e-learning, publishing, and more. I’ve worked as a customer service rep, administrative assistant, technical manual writer, financial analyst, learning designer, coordinator (of many different groups, people, and activities), and more. I loved the variety of moving from company to company and position to position. Always learning something new!
  • High tech experience — I spent a few years with Digital Equipment Corporation and learned a lot about computer hardware functionality and how all the parts work together — which constantly comes in handy as technology grows and changes into even smaller pieces and parts. I also worked with many engineers and know how to translate ‘geek’ to ‘English.’
  • Writing — I’ve been getting feedback on my writing since fifth grade, through college, graduate school, corporate jobs, critique groups, publishers, and more.

Following a true passion:

  • Writing — I didn’t start my writing career as early as I wanted, but it was always in my soul and my path brought me to where I am today. I believe it started in 1st grade when I learned how to write my name, then with a diary where I could capture my thoughts.
  • Sharing my experience and knowledge with others — through writing.

Going at my own pace:

  • My first handful of years as a freelancer/independent writer were lean years, but I had saved for that so I didn’t want to worry about paying the mortgage or rent, or eating.
  • Low stress and free time are important; as is making my own schedule.
  • The freedom to pursue what interests me instead of what pays the most is always important.
  • After 6 years, I’m earning more than any corporate job.

Staying with my unique voice:

  • I’m more black and white than shades of grey; I’m literal. And I like that.
  • I enjoy writing from a newbie point of view; I feel I offer the most when experiencing something and then sharing that experience — whether it’s learning a particular topic, way of doing things, or some functionality — I want to come at it with unbiased eyes and write what I’ve learned and now know, in a straightforward manner (which is probably why I enjoy tech and process guide writing so much!)
  • In travel or destination writing, my uniqueness is shared from my perspective of a solo traveler, female traveler, and as someone who finds ways to enjoy adventures while dealing with motion sickness issues. I also prefer off-the-beaten-path details more than what-everyone-else-is-doing details.

How do you relate to the quote?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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Due to a recent burst pipe in the attic, I had a change to move a lot of ‘stuff’ around in order to make room for ceiling repairs. It’s been like spring cleaning, but in the dead of winter. I’ve made quite a few discoveries as I’ve sorted into a keep and toss piles.

Common Phrases and Where They Come FromOne of my discoveries is this great little book called Common Phrases and Where They Come From by John Mordock & Myron Korach.

I thought it would be fun to share some snippets of phrases I find myself using – and the history behind them.

I start off with the phrase and how I use it. The bullet points are my summaries of the write-ups within the book.

The phrase “all agog” has me seeing someone with mouth wide open in great surprise. It turns out, I’m not far off.

  • Medical practitioners noticed that when somebody was anticipating a great happy event, their eyes became lustrous and animated. This eye condition became “goggling eyes,” and groups of people stood “with all eyes goggling.” Then, over time, the phrase became “all agog.” (Disappointment resulted in “all aground.”)

I think “apple of my eye” refers to the person/people that one loves or cherishes. Children are usually the apple of their parents’ eyes, right?

  • Long ago, people in the medical field closely studied the pupil of the human eye and concluded it was apple shaped. The pupil became known as “the apple of the eye.” Then, since the eye was considered as vital as life itself, the gallant hero began to call his love interest “the apple of my eye.”

Although not one I’ve used, “bandy with words” strikes a chord with me as a writer. How can a writer not love to play with words?

  • Turns out, it basically means to talk a lot about nothing! It morphed from a game called ‘bandy’ (described a lot like table tennis), where opponents hit a ball back and forth until one of them misses. Bandy = hit and miss. And to people watching the game, it seemed pointless (ooh, my own pun!); so bandy eventually became associated with idle conversation.

As a mystery fan, I enjoy “red herring”s in stories — particularly trying to figure out what clues are false. And it’s quite fun as a writer to add them to my stories.

  • Campaigning politicians spend a lot of time focusing on matters irrelevant to real issues. It was first known as “dragging a red herring across the trail” then got shortened to “red herring”. It was also used to describe scholars using illogical points to try to prove a thesis. And it was also used to (literally) describe criminals who used strong-smelling smoked red herrings to cover their scent as they ran from justice. Bloodhounds eventually had to be trained to tell the difference between true scents, and that of smoked red herring.

These are just 4 small examples of the fun with phrases people have had over time.

This is a fun book to read through.

Isn’t it amazing how some phrases have morphed into what we use them for today? I find it fascinating.

Is there a phrase you’re curious about?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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The adage of ‘if you build it they will come’ can be applied to a writer’s platform.

If you build a strong platform, business will find its way to you.

Building a platform doesn’t happen over night, let’s say that right at the start. Most likely, the experience may turn out to be something like a successful author who says “It took me 8 years to become an overnight success.” No one, except you, truly knows the effort you put in to building your business. But with a strong platform, one day everything will click into place and you’ll realize the effort was worth it.

Leading a workshop

Leading a workshop

So, what goes into a strong writer’s platform? Here are some pieces to consider:

  • Your website and/or blog is a great place to start. Make sure to have your photo, bio, some samples of your work, descriptions of past projects, and a list of your writing services and specialty
  • Blog posts. Your blog content showcases your writing skills, interests, and your area(s) of expertise. Write for the markets that have the type of projects and assignments you want to do.
  • Newsletter. If you have enough content, advice, resources, or news to share with your target audience for a monthly or weekly newsletter, this can be a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your area of interest.
  • Publication credits. Whenever you have something published (with or without your byline) in magazines, online article directories, or relevant-to-your-industry websites, list the credits. Guest blogging counts, too! They can go a long way to a strong platform.
  • News releases. Keep an eye to when you do something newsworthy and share the success with your community through a release. It’s a type of pat on the back, but as long as you’re showing your value, you can attract more interest, and eventually more business.
  • Useful comments and social media posts. Target specific forums, blogs, and social media sites related to your target market and follow them consistently. Leaving comments can get your name in front of thousands of people, but the key is saying something useful.

These are just some pieces to consider in building a writer platform. You can also publish books, teach workshops, lead webinars, and find other ways to expand your reach.

Creative, functional, and unique; like your platform

Creative, functional, and unique; like your platform

As long as you focus on showcasing your writing skills and talents, you don’t need to limit yourself to the size of the platform. And not all the pieces have to be the same size. Get creative, reach, stretch, and build your platform – it should end up being as unique as you are.

A strong platform will help attract the work you want to do.

Have you started building your platform?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She’s changing her business platform in 2014 and looks forward to the new challenges. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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Earlier this month, the NHWN bloggers met via Google Hangout. Lee has a nice summary of the evening here. One topic was to share our achievements for 2013 and share some 2014 goals.

The new year brings new opportunities and I’m excited with how 2013 has ended, and inspired for 2014.

Celebrate 2013 accomplishments

Celebrate 2013 accomplishments

Here’s a high-level look at my writing year, my 7th as an independent writer and editor. Some achievements include:

  • Financially, I blew my own mind by achieving 6 figures — my highest annual income ever. ‘Freelancing’ doesn’t have to equate to living on a tight budget (although my frugality is still well in place). Many happy dances and loud “Woo Hoo” shouts have echoed through the walls here, especially this month as the goal was realized!
  • 3 prior clients came back for more projects. I love building lasting relationships!
  • I wrote about small business ownership for American Express at their request. 
  • I published 4 NH-related travel articles in  a regional monthly magazine I loved. (It closed its doors in August, even though it was successful.)
  • I blogged here on NHWN weekly for most of the year.
  • I converted my website over to WordPress.
  • I have a business logo designed.
  • I joined a business mastermind group.
Make 2014 awesome!

Make 2014 awesome!

2014 business writing and editing wildly inspiring goals include:

  • Double my 2013 income
  • Gain 12 new long-term clients
  • Publish 12 writing-related and 12 small business ownership related e-books
  • Use business blog for writing and small biz ownership posts
  • Integrate my own photos into blog posts, especially with inspirational sayings on them
  • Publish NH and New England travel articles again

I’ve joined a business mastermind group and am now a co-organizer for a NH-focused networking group that plans monthly events. This year I also joined a local Chamber of Commerce and made connections with a networking group focused on New England. These groups will help me meet people (obviously), but also to build relationships and learn more about myself so I can continue to grow and improve overall.

Although my business has international clients, I have a strong desire to work with regional businesses where I can meet face-to-face. Technology is great and telecommuting is fantastic, but I feel there’s more to a client relationship when we can meet in person whenever possible.

I also write and publish fiction and poetry and those accomplishments and goals are separate from my business. Definitely ‘upping my game’ in that area, too!

If you need some help setting writing goals, this article may help: 15 New Year Writing Resolutions to Adopt in 2014 by David K. William of The Web Writer Spotlight.

What is one major goal you have regarding writing in 2014?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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