Are You on LinkedIn Yet?

LinkedIn_logo

If you haven’t heard, LinkedIn is a powerful marketing and networking tool. It offers a lot of opportunities for writers of all calibers and in all industries.

You can be starting your own business or be self-employed for numerous years. You can be a multi-published author writing fiction or non-fiction; long or short. You can be any type of writer with any level of experience and benefit from the power of LinkedIn to find jobs, connections, and resources. Resources that can gain you new clients and help you improve your craft.

I posted about Getting Started with LinkedIn a few months ago. Check that post if you haven’t delved into LinkedIn yet.

Your profile is a powerful marketing tool. Make sure you have it as complete and relevant as possible — to the type of work you are seeking, skills you can offer, and connections you want to make.  (Avoid diluting it with too many interests that are unrelated to your career.)

Connections are important. Decide if you want to be an open networker (keep all your connections visible) or private (hide connections). There are benefits to each – for instance, if you currently have a job and are seeking another, you probably don’t want your employer to be able to see you connecting with recruiters. (I prefer being an open networker and generally accept all requests as long as there is a profile, photo, and introduction in the Request-to-connect email.)

Building your platform (name recognition). By joining groups related to the industries you want to write for, types of communities you think will help you grow your business, and writers’ groups, you can comment on discussions and start your own. And since you will have a complete profile (with photo), people will be able to follow up with you as they see your name/photo appear in their feeds.

A venue to show your talent. There are multiple ways to share your talents with the world:

  • Publish your own posts on your own feed.
  • Upload samples of your writing.
  • Use Slideshare to share information.
  • Link to your website, Twitter, and other social media accounts.
  • Start your own group.

Use the multitude of opportunities on LinkedIn to get your name (and face) known by offering useful feedback, tips, references, and commentary whenever you can and watch your business grow.

**It takes a while to build up your network, so there’s no time like the present to get started if you haven’t already! Don’t wait until you are self-employed or are seeking clients to start on LinkedIn.

If you have specific questions about LinkedIn, feel free to ask in the comments. If you connect with me on LinkedIn, personalize the e-mail and let me know you read this blog.

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

A Few Freelance Writing Job Resources

Here are a few writing-related sites you can check into for freelance or contract gigs. Most of them offer a lot more than jobs, too.

Freelance Writing Gigs: http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/  “Whether you’re a seasoned writer or a beginner, the information you need to be a successful writer is at your fingertips here at Freelance Writing Jobs!” (check out the Resources for Writers tab off the main page; business tips, job hunting tips, writing tips, and a lot more)

Make a Living Writing: http://www.makealivingwriting.com/  “I’m Carol Tice, an award-winning, fun-loving freelance writer living in the Seattle area. I’m obsessed with helping writers earn more from their work.” (a lot of free resources; podcasts; downloads; monthly membership-fee community; and a lot more)

If you’re looking for work in New Hampshire, I recommend the NHJobsList Yahoo Group: http://www.nhjobslist.com/  “NH Jobs List is a mailing list focused solely on jobs in New Hampshire.” (If you sign up, you will be on the e-mail list for any NH job; several technical writing-related jobs come through each month. At the least, you may learn about a company in an industry you are interested in.)

Freelance Writing: http://www.freelancewriting.com/freelance-writing-jobs.php  “Helping freelance writers to succeed since 1997.” (e-mail list with helpful articles, tutorials, jobs, and links to writing contests).

This is one of several free infographics for writers from the site – a mind map for how a writer finds freelance work:

http://www.freelancewriting.com/infographics/index.php

Click to enlarge

The infographic includes several URLs to other sites for writing jobs.

Do you have a resource for finding writing jobs to share with us? Please include a link in the comments and tell us about it.

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, and technology businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

Getting Started with LinkedIn – for Writers

LinkedIn_logoLinkedIn is a powerful marketing and networking tool that offers a lot of opportunities for writers.

Whether you’re just starting your own business, or you’re a multi-published author; whether you write fiction or non-fiction; whether you write long or short, LinkedIn can help you find jobs, connections, and resources to improve your craft in your chosen specialty.

This post is a quick snapshot on getting started with LinkedIn if you are a writer. The tool is user friendly and quite a great resource for finding companies you want to work with or for.

Getting started:

Create an account. You can use LinkedIn a lot for free (it’s the version I have), so don’t feel like you need to invest money. You can, of course, but it’s not required to start out.

Create a profile. LinkedIn walks you through the profile creation process step by step. Help is available all along the way, too.  Use it; it’s actually helpful! Creating a profile is the most time-consuming part of getting started, but it’s definitely worth it to pay attention to each section.

  • For your current job title, avoid generic terms such as president, owner, wordsmith or crafty titles such as ‘word whisperer’, ‘writing goddess’, ‘chief bottle washer’. Think about how companies you want to work for will search for someone with your skill set. Keep it simple, straightforward, and relevant.
  • When you add in current and past employment, do the same with the titles (as prior bullet). Sure, you may have been ‘senior manager’, but that doesn’t benefit you when someone is seeking a software writer. You can include ‘senior manager’ in the description of the job, but put key works in your job titles, as well as in descriptions of job responsibilities.

Search for jobs, groups, people. The search bar at the top of the screen offers numerous search methods, and you can take advantage of the Advanced feature to help narrow in on the jobs, groups, and people you are seeking. Search on such terms as ‘beginner writer’, ‘(industry) writing’, whatever you want. Just like doing searches on Google or Bing, you’ll naturally start discovering the search terms that work best for you.

  • When you do searches, particularly writing-related ones, you’ll discover the profiles that appear at the top of lists — look those profiles over and see what catches your eye for wording that you can adapt to your profile.

Connect with people. LinkedIn offers many ways to import various address books, and if you do that, invitations will be sent to the people in your contact list. It can be a good way to get started, but you won’t have any chance to personalize the e-mails sent out.

If you have specific questions about LinkedIn, feel free to ask in the comments. If you connect with me on LinkedIn, personalize the e-mail and let me know you read this blog.

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, and technology businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

Secrets of Successful Freelance Writers – Part 2 of 2

successIn the first part of Secrets of Successful Freelance Writers, we talked about the importance of finding the right work, learning to accurately price writing projects, and releasing your inner project manager. In today’s post, we tackle four more secrets that can help you build the freelance writing business of your dreams so you can make money from home … in your pajamas.

Here we go!

Study your craft.

You will never be done learning about writing. Whether your goal is to write feature articles or marketing copy, there is an infinite collection of resources and references that will help you hone your craft. From traditional books to blogs, online courses to community college courses, mentorships to internships, there are literally hundreds of ways to improve your skills and confidence.

In my case, I leaned heavily towards online sources. I became a voracious blog reader, devouring post after post, storing choice bits in my Evernote files, and putting my new skills to work as quickly as I could (lest I forget them). You can self-educate however you prefer, but don’t ever stop being hungry for more knowledge.

ACTION ITEMS:

  • Do a search for blogs on your particular area of interest. Load a few into a reader (with Google Reader closing in July, I just switched to Feedly and I’m loving it!). Read them regularly.
  • A great initial resource for anyone considering life as a freelance writer, Peter Bowerman’s Well-Fed Writer series are a perennial favorite – chock full of great advice and helpful templates.

Create your system.

There’s a reason that the assembly line had such an impact on the industrial revolution. Systems help you replicate and streamline a process so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time you tackle a particular task.

In addition to being more efficient, systems give you and your clients a greater sense of confidence. You know how to break a project down so you can get it down. Your clients feel like they are in capable hands when you have a clear and defined plan to get them from Point A to Point B.

Like pricing, expertise with creating systems will come with time and practice; but you can get a good head start by studying other people’s systems and thinking consciously about what works well on your projects.

ACTION ITEMS:

  • Keep a running log of the steps you take to manage a project. After only a few times doing this exercise, you’ll begin to see patterns for what works and what doesn’t.
  • Formalize your system by giving each phase a name. Familiarize yourself with the optimal flow for a project and then share that with your client as you work through the process.

Pay attention to the details.

They say don’t sweat the small stuff. When it comes to writing, I disagree. In writing, you’re better off remembering that the devil is in the details.

In a perfect world, we’d each have our own private editor who would proof and polish our work for us before we release it to the client. However, this isn’t a perfect world, so that’s not usually possible. There are, however, two tricks you can use to help improve the quality of your work.

First, build “breathing room” into your development schedule. Too often, we are rushed. We write right up to the deadline and have to send our work out without giving ourselves time to walk away for a little while and then come back with a fresh eye. Whenever possible, make sure to give yourself enough wiggle room to let your copy “set” for twenty-four hours. You’ll be amazed at how many improvements you’ll be able to easily make even after that short a respite.

Second, read your work out loud. There are lots of things that look good on paper, but sound lousy when spoken aloud. Reading your work out loud makes it obvious when a certain word or phrase doesn’t work. Never skip this step.

ACTION ITEMS:

  • To convince yourself of the efficacy of these tactics, go back to a piece you wrote a while ago. First, edit it just on paper and then read it aloud and edit it again.
  • Adjust the list of tasks and template schedule you created to include “breathing room.”

Provide over-the-top service.

Finally, nothing strengthens your business like stellar service.

When you engage with clients, try to make the experience fun. Smile even if you’re meeting via conference call (people can hear smiles, you know). Keep a positive and upbeat mood. Be responsive to customer inquiries. Be a true collaborator. Be polite and helpful and respectful. Go the extra mile.

One of the best things you can do for any customer is make her life easier. Whether your clientele is made up of corporate marketing managers or solo entrepreneurs, everyone loves to work with someone who makes the work easy. Find little ways to take things off your customer’s plate. Become an irreplaceable resource.

ACTION ITEMS:

  • Think about the types of customer service experiences that have wowed you. How can you incorporate some of those types of experiences into your own workflow?
  • Then think about the worst service experiences you’ve had. How can you ensure that you never make those mistakes with your customers?

So, there you have them – my seven favorite tips for becoming a successful freelance writer. So far, they have served me well. I hope they will do the same for you.

Questions? Lay ‘em on me and I’ll do my best to answer them.

More tips? Don’t just sit there – share! 

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of voice and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

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Image Credit: seeveeaar

Secrets of Successful Freelance Writers – Part 1 of 2

antique typist photoSo, you wanna be a freelance writer. You want to work from home, make money writing, build a business in your pajamas. You can write, but do you know – really know – what it takes to succeed as a freelance writer?

I’ve been freelancing for more than five years. It was something I’d always thought about, but was afraid to try until I found myself facing divorce and single motherhood. Adversity has a way of helping us find courage we didn’t know we had. Happily, in addition to my courage, I also discovered a few serendipitous connections that helped me get set up with a couple long-term contracts.

For the first eighteen months, I wasn’t writing. I was a freelance project manager who helped web development companies herd their proverbial cats. I handled budgets and schedules, corralled various resources, and managed client expectations. I wrote a lot of meeting notes and a lot of emails, but nothing more creative than that.

Then, a year-and-a-half into my freelance journey, I got my first chance at a writing project. One of my clients needed some web copy written. When he asked if I knew anyone we could hire for the project, I offered up my own services. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no samples to show. I did, however, have the trust of my client. They gave me the shot and I never looked back. About six months later, I had enough experience under my belt to confidently call myself a “freelance writer.” Six months after that, I joyfully turned down a project management gig saying, “I don’t do that any more.”

Over the course of my adventures in the land of freelancing, I have learned many things. I have been hired for a wide variety of writing jobs: professional blogger, ghost blogger, marketing writer. I have written all kinds of content: essays, website copy, emails, newsletters, corporate ebooks, case studies, award submissions, brand identities, messaging frameworks, and more. I wear a lot of hats, but no matter what role I’m in or which kind of content I’m working on, there are seven “secrets” that have consistently contributed to my success:

Learn where to find work.

When you’re first starting out, it’s tempting to take jobs that you find on sites like Craig’s List or oDesk. While I’m sure there are some viable gigs that you can find through these sources, my personal experience was depressing – the quality of the clients was low, the pay was low, my chances of landing the job against the many other applicants were low.

Instead of searching these sites as a stranger in a strange land, think about how you can use your personal and business networks to make connections with potential clients. Your chances of getting an introduction to the right person are much higher when you have a personal contact. Your chances of getting stiffed are much lower (assuming your friends aren’t jerks).

Don’t overlook the value of the relationships you already have.

ACTION ITEMS:

  • Make a list of all your contacts and make a commitment to reach out to a few of them each day. Share what you’re doing and ask them to let you know of any opportunities that come up.
  • One site that I did find helpful in the early years was Freelance Writing Jobs. Though I didn’t ever land a job through the site, perusing the daily job postings was a great way to begin getting a feel for what types of jobs were out there and even what people were paying for certain types of writing.

Learn to price projects properly.

One of the most common pitfalls awaiting new freelancers is inaccurate pricing. You land a new project, but you’re not sure what to charge. You end up throwing out a number that winds up being way off the mark. End result: you work your tail off, but your profits dwindle away to peanuts.

Knowing what to charge comes from experience. You need to know the market value of the work you’re doing as well as how long it will take you to do the work. When you’re just starting out, there are all kinds of unforeseen tasks that will eat away at your budgeted time like Uncle Ned at a Las Vegas all-you-can-eat buffet.

ACTION ITEMS:

  • Do some online research by searching phrases like “freelance writing rates” to see what kinds of pricing resources are out there.
  • Make a list of all the tasks that go into a writing project: client intake, administration, research, writing, review meetings, revisions, formatting, editing. Create a template in Excel that you can use to help you price out projects.

Learn to be a project manager.

A project manager is the person in charge of creating and managing project plans, budgets, schedules, and resources. It’s an unglamorous role, but an important one. When you can handle these details, you take a great deal of responsibility off your client’s shoulders – you make her job easier. (That is a good thing.)

In addition to accurately estimating your time (and the associated cost) on a project, learn to create a basic project schedule for your clients. Handle all the documentation tasks associated with a project: creating a scope of work (a topic which deserves a post of its own), capturing meeting notes, sending reminders about next steps and deadlines.

By helping to keep the team on track and on time, you will become a more valuable asset.

ACTION ITEMS:

  • Think through the basic steps of a project and create a simple project calendar or schedule that you can provide for each of your projects.
  • Get in the habit of providing clear, consistent communications (most usually in email) so you can help everyone stay on track.

These simple practices have played a big part in my success. They have kept my clients so happy that they don’t just come back for more, they refer their friends to me. I’ve seen these same principles at work in the successful writing businesses of my colleagues as well. Although creativity and writing excellence are important, you might be surprised at how qualities like responsiveness and reliability can influence your prospects.

Next time, we’ll cover four more secrets of successful freelance writers. Until then, what methods and tactics have you seen work well? How do you build your successful business?

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of voice and trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

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Image Credit: Jan Willemsen

Some places to find writing jobs

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving holiday if you celebrated it last week, and that you survived shopping if you were brave enough to go out this weekend!

There are so many writing job resources and so many niches, that a comprehensive list is rare. We build our resources based on what we need to have and know. This list is a good start, at least, if you’re in need of some places to start looking for writing opportunities.

  • Dan Case‘s Writing for Dollars – a weekly e-newsletter jammed with legit paying markets
  • Angela Hoy‘s Writers Weekly – resources for writers, including paying markets – and a quarterly 24-hour short story contest that is a lot of fun and offers numerous prizes.
  • WritersMarket.com – related to Writer’s Digest Magazine (which also has job opportunities), this online database has a lot of up-to-date markets. Subscription fee.

PayingWriterJobs– this Yahoo group has its worldwide subscribers posting the job opportunities, it’s a community effort. From the site:

This is a mailing list for PAYING writer and editor jobs. It can be Freelance, Staff, Contract, or Permanent, but must PAY. No work for free or chit-chat allowed. This is primarily a network for writers and editors who are looking for work and editors who are looking for professional writers. This is a moderated list, which means the owner approves of all postings.
  • On Twitter, you can find various job listing folks to follow such as @writersjobs, @writingjobs @writing_jobs, @dnzwritingjobs, @writethismoment, @dnzcontentwrite, @freelanceWJ, @UOPX (University of Pheonix), @AnneWayman
  • Also on Twitter for writers and others: @workfreelancer, freelancejobz4u, @theonlinejobs, @careerbuilder, @AlisonDoyle

Craigslist – Free listings for just about anything you can imagine. But for writers, you can search in your area, or anywhere in the world, under Gigs, Jobs, and Services. It isn’t the best place to find decent writing jobs, but it’s a great place to get new keyword search ideas. Postings that list rates and company names are more trustworthy than anonymous posts that require samples be submitted before payment is discussed.

When looking for writing work, search by area of interest, company you’d love to write for, your location, state/location, editor name, publication name, etc.

You can find writing jobs on LinkedIn, too, by doing keyword searches or even searching by a particular company to see the openings.

The above are some resources I use and think they can get you jump started if you’re looking for writing gigs.

Please add your go-to resources to help our writing community.

Lisa J Jackson writerLisa J. Jackson is a New England-region journalist and a year-round chocolate and iced coffee lover. She loves working with words, and helping others with their own. As Lisa Haselton, she writes fiction, co-blogs about mystery-related writing topics at Pen, Ink, and Crimes, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is a chat moderator at The Writer’s Chatroom. Connect with her on LinkedInFacebook, or Twitter