Freelance

More Helpful Tips For Brand New Freelance Writers

More Tips for New Freelance Writers Essentials and Extras I Used to Launch My Freelance Writing Biz

In my last post we covered how I chose my domain name, WordPress theme and selected a website host. This time around, in More Tips for New Freelance Writers we’ll talk about some of the “extras” and resource materials that I purchased for launching writing business.

New Freelance Writers Need a Bio!

So what is a biography for anyway? What should a freelance writer’s bio include?  If you are an experienced writer with published works that you can point to, that’s fine and dandy. If you are a newcomer to the freelance writing world, you can fill the bill by writing a kick-ass bio that showcases your knowledge and experience.

Writing your writer’s bio is probably one of the very first tasks that you will do as a freelancer that’ll have you staring at a blank page with high anxiety. At least that’s how it was for me! I felt like my biography was going to be a deal breaker. After all, my bio was my introduction to the online world!

If you’re stuck in panic mode when it comes to your bio, take a deep breath. Remember, the beauty of being an entrepreneur, especially an entrepreneur who is a new freelance writer, is that you are the boss! The boss gets to change things!  So get on with it. You won’t be stuck with your bio.  The worst that can happen is … crickets.

Trust me, no bio police will come knocking on your door.

Identify Your Freelance Writing Clients

A great place to start is visualizing your perfect client.  Who are you selling your services to? How old is your target client? What stage of life or business are they in?

Most importantly, what problem do they have that you will solve? Keep that in mind while you are drafting your bio. Describe affirmatively what you have to offer prospective clients.

Don’t try to be all things to all people, or you’ll end up with a very generic bio that will not catch anyone’s attention.

Your Headshot – A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Have you quest posted yet? Bet they asked for a headshot to go with your bio!

Choosing a photograph to grace the home page of your website and use as a headshot is a big deal. Think about it. How many times have you made a choice between service providers based on a picture? Some business coaches, like Melinda Emerson, recommend updating your business photos each year!

Before you snap a quick selfie to send as your headshot, consider your target client. What characteristics do you think will attract your client? For example, if my ideal clients are 20-something fitness freaks, a studio photo in a suit and pearls just doesn’t jive.

My freelance writing niche is in the legal field and business management, where a more formal photograph works.

I admit, this is where I invested a chunk of money. It was money well spent. If you are in the DC metro area, you be sure to check out amazing photographer Virgina Rose Hodges.

I invested in having a professional photo shoot, including professional hair and makeup for my business headshot. Lucky for me, I happen to know an amazing celebrity photographer, Virginia Rose Hodges, a passionate artist and businesswoman.

Presentation does matter! But, it doesn’t have to break your budget. Don’t go into debt to have professional photos! Use the best camera you have (or can borrow) and just be mindful of your setting.

Your picture is an important part of your brand, so do the best you can with what you have, and plan for the professional shots later.

Useful Resources for Writers

Writers love books, and I’m no exception. I’ve have a particular penchant for resource materials that I recommend to new freelance writers.

In addition to a couple journalism textbooks from college, back when print newspapers still flourished, here’s a short list of my bookshelf favorites for freelance writers:

Yahoo Style Guide –  The last version published was 2010, but this book is still recommended for information on writing for the Internet!

Strunk & White’s Elements of Style – I consider this a must read for any aspiring writer. This short and sweet little book discusses the importance of cutting out the fluff from your writing.

AP Style Guide – I will always keep the most recent edition of this guide on my shelf. In my very brief stint as an author for a content mill, this book was indispensable. It is the often the used as gold standard for accurate, technically correct writing.

Planning and Calendaring Your Content

So, you picked your name for your business, develop your brand, and customized your WordPress theme. Time to get busy writing and posting your blog articles.

Conventional wisdom says it’s optimal to publish new blog content 3 to 5 times a week. That’s terrific, if you can do it consistently.  The trick is to consistently produce quality content on a regular schedule, whether it is every day or once a week. Because I have a full-time schedule already, I was careful not to bite off more than I could chew in my editorial schedule.

Plan ahead for your editorial calendar! If you have an idea, or a series of ideas for your blog, using your calendar will maximize the effectiveness of your content.

Your calendar will keep you accountable, whether it is an electronic version or a paper planner. Get in the habit of writing your blog articles in advance. You can make sure that you always have great content available for publication. No scrambling when the holidays roll around, the baby is sick, or you will be on vacation!

What are your essential resources for freelance writers? How often do you publish new blog posts? Would you like to see more tips for new freelance writers? Please leave your questions and comments below!


Timely Tips for Every New Freelance Writer

Timely Tips for Brand New Freelance Writers What You Need to Know About Launching a Blog!What You Need to Know About Launching a Writer’s Website

Once upon a time, I was a brand new freelance writer. With years of ghostwriting under my belt, energized by a great freelance writing course, I was ready to put my writing out in the world under my own name. Time to launch a blog.

With a little help, it isn’t difficult for a new entrepreneur to set up a website and a blog.  I will tell you how I did it!.

Pick Your New Freelance Writer Name

Let me tell you the first mistake I made when it came to launching a blog. I went out and found the least expensive place to register a name without realizing the relationship between your web host and your domain name.

Take it from me – while you’re busy dreaming up the perfect name for your website, don’t actually go to register it until you’ve settled on a web host. It took hours on the phone over two days to get my domain released from the cheap site when I picked a web host.

Branding Your Writing Business

Give some serious thought to the name you will choose for your business. Select a web site name that will represent you as a new freelance writer that will be easy for people to find, and tell folks something about your business. Your website domain name should be descriptive, distinct, and intuitive for someone looking for your writing skills.

Your website domain name should be descriptive, distinct, and intuitive for someone looking for your writing skills.

Do you normally remember the exact URL for any given site? I sure don’t.

Someday, everyone will know your name, just like hanging out at Cheers. In the meantime, your website domain name should not have a complicated spelling but it should not be too common, either.

You want folks to be able to remember your site name well enough to find you, even if they don’t remember the exact URL.

For my business, I went with Artfully Chosen Words because it is descriptive and easy to remember. My first name is too common (Debbie Does Writing? Uh, NO!!)  But, my last name is a little too complicated for folks to find unless they are already familiar with it.

Choosing Domain Designations

Once you’ve selected your domain name, you still have to decide on your domain designations.  The most recognizable are .com and .net, but there are lots to choose from.

I strongly recommend that you purchase more than one domain extension for your domain name, assuming it is still available. Fees for domain names run about $10-$12 a year.

My biggest concern with my domain name was someone hijacking my domain name with a different extension and diverting customers that were looking for me. Those customers could be hijacked for products and services, or exposed to content that I would find morally or ethically contrary to my business practices. In other words, I don’t want someone searching for my domain name to end up on a porn site!

To protect the exclusivity and integrity of my brand, I invested the funds to purchase my domain name with both.com and .org extensions.

With the same concerns in mind, I did go ahead and purchase domains using my first and lasname. I am protecting my name for personal and business reasons. When I am the next Nora Roberts, everyone will know my name!

If someone uses your business or personal name and registers it as their domain, you are out of luck unless you want to spend big bucks to purchase it from them!

The Bottom Line  – Your Freelance Business Budget

When I decided to pursue a freelance writing career, I made the choice to go at it full steam ahead. My philosophy was Go Big or Go Home. So, I was prepared to make a financial investment to set my new freelance writer website up as efficiently and professionally as possible.

I am blessed with a supportive husband and the financial resources to invest in my business up front. If you are not in a situation where you can afford to fund your business up front, that’s okay. There are plenty of successful online business successes, like freelance biz guru Gina Horkey, who started off with a teeny-tiny budget and built a thriving business.

Web Hosting – Are You Being Served?

There are many web hosting platforms available, and all the big ones have mixed reviews, some more predominantly negative than others.

I was determined my website would be a professional looking showcase for my blog, in order to highlight my writing skills. I added cool pages for readers and clients to contact me.

Careful research indicated that the best platform for a blog is WordPress. I chose the premium version of WordPress and the WordPress recommended web host, Bluhost.

Building Your Freelance Website on a Budget

Don’t Worry if you’re strapped for cash when you start out! Just make careful choices with the end in mind of upgrading and enhancing your business tools and platform as your success grows.

Do your homework, and select platforms and applications that will be easier to upgrade, rather than requiring a complete migration of information to a newer, better platform later on when you have a lot more content and client information to deal with.

In other words, keep your eye on the prize! Look into the future and see what your totally successful freelance writing business will look like, and work back from there.

If you have a smaller budget, check out free version of WordPress. The free version has limitations, but it will be easier to upgrade.  Check out the link here for a comparison of the different WordPress options.

The Theme Is The Thing

WordPress sites need a theme. You c an choose from plenty of free and attractive WordPress themes suitable for sale sites and blogs. I tried that route!

I needed to be able to customize the theme to incorporate elements integral to my personal business brand. Colors, fonts, and layouts can make or break the presentation of your business.

I admit to spending too many frustrating hours trying to customize free word press themes with no satisfactory end in sight. Why was I wasting my valuable time going crazy when there was another option?

I finally bit the bullet, and invested the $79 to purchase a Bluchic WordPress theme. What a difference! Within an hour or two, I had a totally customized, beautiful and responsive website!

Widgets and Plug-ins, Oh My!

The premium version of WordPress has loads of widgets and plug-ins that even a newbie to website design can use!

There are widgets for creating contact forms, calendars, author information and all kinds of other little goodies that are easy to drag and drop into your WordPress theme.

I started with a handy plug-in called Under Construction. As the name implies, this plug-in tells visitors to your site that something good is coming soon. It allows you to work on your website design without anyone else able to see until you’re ready to unveil your fabulous new site!

Are you an new freelance writer? Are you in the process of setting up a website or blog? Do you have recommendations?  Please leave your questions and comments below!


Consider The Dark Side of Being A New Business Owner

Image of fountaijn pen and to do list illustating the dark side of being a new business ownerIs the Force With You in Your New Venture?

Do you see yourself as a business Jedi, ready to unleash your entrepreneurial force on the world? Are you prepared to encounter the dark side of being a new business owner?

As Yoda counsels, “Do… or do not. There is no try”. In other words, it will all be on you to successfully launch your new business and guide it through the virtual galaxy.

Search your feelings, Jedi. Have you been so excited you haven’t looked at all aspects of running your own business?

That’s no moon. It’s a Space Station!

There are plenty of online business coaches and communities that will exhort you to follow your dream, shoot for the moon, have faith in yourself and to go ahead and jump into your new business. They tell you not to get stuck on trying to make everything perfect and figure it out as you go. Sound familiar?

Usually these sites have testimonials about how they launched a successful business in weeks, and immediately began to multiply their income.

You are particularly vulnerable to the shiny lure of instant gratification business coaching if you are already restless or unhappy with your day job.

You are particularly vulnerable to the shiny lure of instant gratification business coaching if you are already restless or unhappy with your day job.

According to the Small Business Administration, the dark fact is, on average less than half of new business ventures survive to five years.

You ready to captain this ship? Start here! Take charge now and figure out your finances and business obligations before you jettison your day job so you will be one of the long-term winners!

Ready To Run A New Business Are You?

You need provisions for this trip, my Jedi friend. And there is no room for excess baggage.

Get out of debt

It you have consumer debts, car payments or other obligations outside your basic living expenses, try to get them paid off before you quit your 9-5 job. And for star’s sake, don’t add anymore! You will need the flexibility to handle unexpected business expenses or income dips.

Build an Emergency Fund

Have at least six months’ worth of your household living expenses in savings. A year’s worth is better. That’s household – not just your contribution if you have a spouse or partner that works. Stuff happens, and need to be able to cover your bills. Don’t plan to rely on credit cards.

Track Your New Business Income

Start your new business as a side hustle. Yes, you will basically be working two jobs until you get established. “A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind!” Keep track of your net income. Set realistic goals and prove to yourself that your business income is sustainable. For example, set the goal that you can quit your day job (or cut back to part-time) after your net income stays above $xxxxx for six months. Make sure your target income will cover all your expenses.

Tell Jabba I’ve Got His Money

Are you disciplined and organized enough to keep up with the administrative side of running your own being a new business owner? Have you educated yourself and have a system in place? Or do you have some vague notion that you’ll hire someone to take care of the numbers stuff but have no idea who, or how much it will cost you?

This information is primarily for new business owners based in the United States, but the administrative categories apply to businesses anywhere.

As an entrepreneur in the United States, you are considered self-employed by the Internal Revenue Service. You will be responsible for paying your income taxes quarterly and will also be responsible for paying a Self-Employment tax that covers Social Security and Medicare. You must keep careful records and report your income accurately.

If your day job provided your health insurance coverage, when you are flying solo you will be responsible for acquiring a replacement policy and paying the monthly premiums without fail. In the U.S. you may be subject to penalties if you fail to arrange for qualified healthcare coverage.

A Tremor in the Force

Do you have a workflow in place for running your new business?

Hopefully you are serious enough about being a new business owner that your idea of being self-employed is not limited to wearing pajama pants and only working when inspiration hits you, but that doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself in to a standard 40 hour work week.

You will need a planned workflow and the discipline to execute it consistently.

To be a successful business that survives beyond the first year or two, plan specific blocks of time for marketing, administrative tasks, responding to client inquiries, creating and delivering your goods or services, and future product development.

Be prepared for social isolation. You may be looking forward to being able to work in peace and quiet without distractions. You may also be surprised how much you miss having real people to talk to, to complain to, and to share a laugh with. Don’t burn your bridges. Take steps to maintain your work network. Plan to meet folks for lunch occasionally.

Keep in mind that when you are self-employed if your computer crashes or your supply order doesn’t get delivered on time, you are the one who will have to identify the problem, get it fixed, and manage any repercussions. Are you mentally equipped for crisis management?

Your Shield Is Up

Now that you are aware of the dark side of being an entrepreneur, you won’t be fooled into blasting off before your ship is loaded and fully functional! You will be a successful business owner… and a positive force in the business community!

Are you launching a new business? What have you done to defeat the dark side? Are you a current business owner with suggestions for new entrepreneurs? Please share your thoughts in the comments section!

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Avoid Obstacles To Your Freelance Success

Remove Obstacles to Freelance Success Are you ready to for freelance success right now? Are you tired of schlepping to a day job? Are you underpaid, overworked, or burned out? Remove those obstacles to your freelance success!

The thing is, most new business owners or entrepreneurs fail. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows us that only about half of new establishments that make it through the first year are still in business by year five.

The statistics do not take into account all the failed freelancers out there. The ones who never registered as a business or lost steam after the first few months and gave up.  How sad, to not even be a blip on the business radar screen.

It is fun and easy to dream of big freelance success, but unless you take action, you will never get past the daydream stage.

It is fun and easy to dream of big freelance success, but unless you take action, you will never get past the daydream stage.

There is something for everyone out there in the realm of business opportunities and freelance options, but you have to do the work, and you, only you, have to be able to overcome common obstacles to freelance success.

Lack of Vision for Your Freelance Success

Sure, you have imagined for years how it will feel to be your own boss. You see yourself working anywhere and anytime you feel like it. No more time clock for you!

That is not a vision, it’s a daydream.

Define your mission statement, your vision and your values. Why are you stepping out as a freelancer? What is the service or product you will provide? How will you deliver your product? What are your core values? What is your commitment to your customers?

To be a freelance success, you gotta get real. You have to set realistic, measurable goals.  You have to work your tail off, consistently. There are no shortcuts to freelance success.

You can take advantage of courses and coaches that give you knowledge and a framework to launch from, but it will be up to you to create a great service or product and market it effectively. Create and market. Then do it again.

Know Your Customer

You have heard by now that you have to find a niche.  That means you have to be specific about the type of customer who will buy your product. Can you define what they need? Now you have to be able to describe how you can meet that need.

It is too broad to say that your market is fitness freaks, and you will teach them a workout program for peak performance.  Failing to narrow your target customer is an obstacle to freelance success.

A successful freelance niche is much more specific. For example, your ideal customer may be millennial female runners in executive positions who have difficulty finding a regimen that works with frequent business travel.  You have just the answer they need!

Perfection Hinders Progress Towards Freelance Success

A huge obstacle for many is just getting started. Have you kept buying self-improvement books and joining Facebook groups in your chosen field but haven’t even really gotten your business off the ground? The first hurdle is planning and decision making.

The saying is true, even in business that progress is better than perfection. You still need to have a decent business plan, but stop thinking you need to wait until you have everything perfect before you actually start selling you product or services.

Perfection is a process, not a milestone. You will always be looking for new ways to improve your business, your product, your marketing strategy and yourself. If you don’t, your business will fizzle.

Make a plan, set deadlines. Designate specific times to be working on your business tasks. Not just setting up a web page, or tinkering with your WordPress theme, but also designate time for creating a business plan and measurable goals.

Don’t just set deadlines to accomplish certain tasks, but make deadlines for decision making. Are you paralyzed with indecision about choosing a web host? WordPress theme? Picking a domain name? Gather some options and then set a hard deadline for making that choice! Then go with it. Don’t waffle. You need forward progress here and if you can’t trust your own gut, you are lost.

Be realistic about your abilities. Nothing is a faster business killer than constant frustration and hitting roadblocks. You have to be prepared to change course if your initial plan is hitting a brick wall.

Doing It All

If you are trying to save money by creating your own web site and customizing a free theme, that’s fine if you have the skills for it. Nothing is more frustrating than spending hours on a task that turns into days and you feel you are worse off then when you started.

I actually have skill and experience with databases and customizing online applications, but trying to set up and customize a free WordPress theme was making me totally crazy. After several late nights, I realized that setting up my own web page was taking way too long to be productive. I finally purchased a responsive theme package and had my website up and customized in a few hours – easy peezy!!

I can’t believe I wasted so much time and energy before spending a few measly dollars to get something workable and attractive. So don’t make yourself crazy! Remember, your time is worth money, too.

Still Need More Support to Reach Freelance Success? 

Business programs that I can personally recommend to help you get your business off the ground are Empire Building with Alexis Giostra for starting your own business, and Fearless Launching with Anne Samoilov to show you exactly how to effectively get that new service or product out to your customers.

As for that interactive theme I bought – it came from BluChic!

Are you dreaming of freelance success? Do you have a side hustle? Please share your questions and comments!