Creative and Freelance Writers Beat the Winter and Solitary Blues in 7 Easy Steps

Have you heard of seasonal depression or the winter blues? Freelance writers, if you live in a cold, gray, snow, or rainy part of the U.S. or an area of your country of origin that’s not sunny and warm, you may suffer from seasonal depression. Also, you may get depressed or crabby from time-to-time because you work alone. This is normal and treatable.

Some freelance writers prefer the solitary life while others are very sociable creatures. If you fall into the latter category, you probably like to be surrounded by people and may become irritable if you constantly stay indoors. There’s no need to be blue about writing alone, you just require the knowledge and tools to free yourself from the grips of writer’s depression.

Creative and Freelance Writers Beat the Winter and Solitary Blues in 7 Easy Steps

1. Decorate your home office with colorful artwork or homemade art from your kids.

2. Hire a Feng Shui expert to design your home office.

3. Place fresh flowers in vases or put plants in your office.

4. Get a pet that you can easily manage.

5. Get out! Freelance writers; meet with clients face-to-face once or twice a month. Creative writers may want join a coffee group or visit your local library to see what classes they offer. Also, go to the beach, park, or walk around your neighborhood.

6. Become a volunteer at your favorite charitable organization.

7. Take up a hobby like painting, pottery, drawing, model airplanes, or whatever interests you.

It’s true that writing can be a lonely profession, but you can join writer’s groups or attend weekly or monthly book clubs. Let’s face it; staring at the same four walls every day could slowly drive you insane! Seriously, working by yourself could get to you if you let it.

Creative and freelance writing does not have to be a depressing career. You could listen to music while you write. Also, don’t allow the solitude of writing choke you. Make sure you’re involved in activities other than writing such as working art, painting, yoga, dance, etc. It’s good to branch out of your comfort zone and try something new.

You can overcome the winter and solitary blues. So … Before you do something drastic like quit writing, find something else that you’re passionate about and do it. Creative and freelance writing doesn’t have to be a gloomy profession. You don’t have to be the stereotypical depressed artist. There’s a bright side to your profession, you just have to find and appreciate it!

Amandah

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Freelance Writers Use This Simple 5 Step Laptop Maintenance Plan

Freelance writers, do you work on a Mac or PC? What’s your backup plan? My laptop has been acting up lately. It gets stuck when it goes into sleep mode and sometimes Windows takes a long time to boot. My laptop is four years old, but I was expecting it to last a little longer than that! I’ve been trying to ‘diagnose’ the issue, but I can’t be certain if it’s the CPU, hard drive, motherboard, Windows Vista operating system, or RAM. Who knows? I’m a writer, not a computer technician!

Freelance Writers Use This Simple 5 Step Laptop Maintenance Plan

1. Always backup your files. Choose a day during the week or month and backup up your computer system. You can also purchase an online backup system or purchase an external hard drive and backup your files.

2. Clean your laptop. Keep your laptop clean by cleaning it. I know it’s a ‘no brainer’ but you’d be surprises how many people own laptops but don’t take care of them. Use non-abrasive cleaners on laptop and it will look good as new.

3. Delete old files. Clean your system by deleting old files. When in doubt, transfer files to a USB or external hard drive and then delete them from your computer’s system.

4. Use a good surge protector. It’s important to protect your laptop or MacBook Pro from power outages. Purchase a heavy duty surge protector and make sure your outlets are up to code.

5. Defrag and cleanup your disk. If you’re not a techie or that computer savvy, have someone else do this for you. Locate your ‘My Computer’ on your laptop and open it. Find ‘Properties’ and right click on it. This brings up a menu. Select ‘Disk Cleanup‘ and allow your laptop to work its magic. If you feel comfortable with ‘moving’ around your computer, check out Tools and check for errors, Defrag your system, and Backup your files.

Amandah

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Freelance Writers Learn to Interview like Diane and Katie in 10 Easy Steps

Interview

Image by smiling_da_vinci via Flickr

Freelance writers, how many times have your clients asked you to interview sources for articles, blog posts, or books? By the way, you can find ‘sources’ at HARO or Reporter Connection. Anyway … Interviews can be conducted via phone, SKYPE, face-to-face, or through email. Remember, it’s important to research the background of whomever you’re interviewing in order to create a list of questions that are provocative, yet informative. Review websites, social media sites, and read any material written by your interviewee. Gathering information from these resources will help you create your list of questions.

Freelance Writers Learn to Interview like Diane and Katie in 10 Easy Steps

1. Be natural when you interview someone. If you think of an interview as having a conversation with a friend, you won’t get nervous or make the interviewee nervous.

2. Ask journalistic questions: Freelance writers, you know what questions I’m talking about: Who, what, when, where, why, and how. Prepare questions ahead of time; however, if you allow the interview to unfold, you’ll intuitively know what questions to ask.

3. Be professional. If a phone interview is scheduled for 2 pm EST and you live in another state or country, make sure you’re familiar with time zones. It’s embarrassing to have an interviewee call and ask you if you forgot about the interview.

4. Expect the unexpected. Freelance writers, if the interview gets off course, gently guide the interviewee back to the interview.

5. Phone interviews. Freelance writers, some interviewees prefer phone interviews. You may want to use a program called Audacity which is a FREE audio editor and recorder. It works great for phone interviews.

Tip: Avoid interrupting the interviewee when they’re speaking. Wait for pauses and then interject and ask questions. The interview will flow better if you do this.

6. Email interviews. Some interviewees prefer email interviews and want the questions sent within the email. Others require freelance writers to submit questions in either Notepad, Word (.docx, .doc, .rtf), or some other program. Always ask.

7. Face-to-face interviews. This provides you the opportunity to see your client and their facial expressions. Bring a recorder, notebook, and pen. You may want to bring an extra recorder and batteries to ensure the interview is recorded — sometimes technology malfunctions. Make notes as you conduct the interview because they could prompt you to ask additional questions and write down key points.

8. Listen. Learn when to interject with questions by listening to definitive pauses.

9. Forget about a set time limit. Avoid using a time limit unless your interviewee is under  a time constraint. Interviews are anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour. But if the interview is flowing ask the interviewee if they’d like to keep going.

10. Transcripts. Freelance writers, how fast do you type? Some interviewees will ask for a transcript of the interview. You can transcribe the interview yourself, use a transcription service, or hire a local transcriber. It’s up to you.

Tip: Freelance writers, remember that an interview may be posted on the interviewee’s website. Ask interesting questions that will engage the interviewee and readers. Boring questions are the fastest way to dash your hopes of a poignant interview. Ask open-ended questions that you can build upon if necessary. Stay away from questions that require a “yes or no” response because they don’t add anything to an interview.

Freelance writers have fun with interviews. Make sure an interviewee is relaxed because it will make the interviewing process easier. Be prepared for the interview with a list of questions, but don’t be afraid to ask questions that you think of as the interview progresses. This will show that you’re paying attention to what your interviewee is saying and guarantee you another interview. Good luck!

Amandah

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How to Improve Your Blog to Increase Web Traffic in 5 Easy Steps

Creative, freelance and ghost writers, the number of blogs on the internet increases every day. What makes yours unique? You may have noticed that some blogs have the same template or theme. There are numerous blogs about freelance writing, blogging, screenwriting, fiction writing, and other niches. How does your blog stand out from the crowd? What makes a person want to read your blog? Attracting web traffic doesn’t have to be difficult. If you write and publish useful, unique content and engage with your current followers, you’ll gain more followers.

Writers, I know you’re no stranger to blogs. Freelance writers write blog posts for clients and authors usually have a blog on their website or at least a link to their blogs. The key is to write a headline that will ‘hook’ readers and write a blog posts that will solve their problems or entertain them.

Writing a blog can be tedious if you’re writing on the same topic as everyone else. Be original and break away from the same old, same old. Use a different angle when you write a “how to” post. Provide information that hasn’t been written about yet. Readers appreciate blog posts from different perspectives. Dare to be different!

How to Improve Your Blog to Increase Web Traffic Visitors in 5 Easy Steps

1. Write unique posts in your style, tone, and voice. Forget about copying your writer because that’s too boring.

2. Create attention grabbing headlines and back them up with solid information.

3. Change your color scheme one in awhile. You may get bored with the look of your blog or it could use a makeover. Breathe new life into your blog with a different a color scheme and layout. It could help your increase your page ranking.

4. Breakout of the “how to and tips and tricks” blog posts. There’s more to blogging than “How to do this or How to do that.” Be bold and daring and write posts that make readers stop and think. Don’t be afraid to be controversial. If you disagree with something, present your opinion and back it up.

5. Find your niche. If you’re not passionate about your subject matter it will show in your blog posts. Make sure you’re passionate about what you’re blogging about. Have fun with it!

Blogging can be a solo professional or company’s worst nightmare; this why freelance writers are hired. Freelance writers know how to write error-free blog posts, and they incorporate key words to assist in increasing page rank. 

If your blog needs a makeover, think about how you can revamp it. First, step back and reevaluate why you created your blog in the first place. What’s your goal for the blog? What do want to accomplish? Second, think about the layout and color schemes. Dark color schemes sometimes work, but the most popular color scheme is blue because it’s known as a ‘trustworthy’ color. This is why you’ll see politicians and business men and women wear blue — it conveys a ‘feeling’ of trust. Finally, have your blog critiqued by an expert in web design and SEO. They’ll provide you with suggestions on how to make your blog user friendly. Your web traffic will increase in no time.

Amandah

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Freelance Writers: How Do You Use Facebook?

Freelance writers, there are more than 500 million active Facebook users. Of course, with the 2010 release of The Social Network the number of users has steadily increased. The one drawback to Facebook is that you must choose either a personal or business profile — they are not the same. A personal profile has more options than a business profile which is why most professionals opt for a personal profile page. This may not be a good idea if your family and friends want to “friend” you.

Freelance Writers: How Do You Use Facebook?

What do you do if you have a personal profile page and your family and friends want to friend you? How do you handle it? Do you really need to know everything that’s going on in their lives? Do your potential customers and clients need to know? How about your business and industry associates? What about your co-workers? Using Facebook can be a sticky situation for some professionals. You may not want your family and friends on your Facebook page. If they post offensive material it could scare off potential customers and business partners.

The selling point of Facebook is that professionals and businesses can use it as marketing tool. You can create fan pages which people can “like” and you can advertise on Facebook. Using these tools can help you increase sales and the bottom line. It’s also a great way to network and build a database of potential clients, collaborators, and partners.

If you opt for a personal page, your family, friends, and childhood schoolmates from 20 years ago can find you, and they may want to be your friend. Is this a good idea if you’re trying to build a business? Maybe, maybe not. 

Freelance writers, before you join Facebook, ask yourself why are you joining? Is it to keep in touch with family and friends and to find your long lost high school love or is it to build your business? If it’s the latter, you may opt for a business profile page. If you want all the options that come with the personal profile page, gently tell family and friends you’re on Facebook for business reasons. And whatever you do, use Facebook responsibly!

Amandah

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Freelance Writers Follow These 7 Steps to Write Catchy Headlines

I was supposed to attend Copyblogger’s Headline Clinic on Thursday, December 15, but I had a meeting regarding Event and Party Planning. Anyway … As a freelance writer, it’s important to write appealing headlines for your clients as well as personal projects such as blogs, newsletters, articles, teleseminars, webinars and so forth. Below you’ll find 7 steps to writing catchy headlines.

Freelance Writers Follow These 7Steps to Write Catchy Headlines

1. Know your target audience and write for them.

2. Write headlines that contain 40-80 characters.

3. Identify the problem and offer a solution in the form of a question. Example: How to Write a Newsletter in 5 Easy Steps.

4. Pay attention to headlines in the newspaper and online. See how they create a call to action or make you want to stop and read the post.

5. Use the headline formulas of Question + Problem = Solution or Question + Problem + Solution = Specific Answer.

6. Make a statement without making a statement. Translation: statement headlines can appear weak — use them in moderation.

7. Read gossip magazines (I know) to see how they write jaw dropping headlines.

Amandah

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Steal Like Oscar Wilde: Improve Your Writing and Online Presence

Are the best writers’ thieves? According to history, the answer is yes. Oscar Wilde stole from everyone. It’s speculated (some believe) that William Shakespeare didn’t write his plays, but rather Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe or Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford did. Some historians believe that Thomas Jefferson plagiarized the Declaration of Independence by stealing from John Locke. That’s John Locke, aka The Father of Liberalism, not John Locke from Lost. Good show, by the way. Anyway … I digress.

It’s illegal to violate copyright laws or claim a work of fiction or non-fiction as your own. But it’s not illegal to observe and learn from other writers and adapt whatever it is they do for your own work. After all, you’ll want to put your own ‘spin’ on anything you publish. Otherwise, it will be bogus and inauthentic.

Fiction

1. Vampires, werewolves, hybrids, witches, warlocks, outcast/loner, headhunters, magical lands, fairies, far-away lands, etc. can be found in many books. Change the names, time, setting, and tweak the plot, and you basically have the same book.

2. Mysteries are no different. Whether it’s a retired cop or rookie detective, a mystery’s a mystery. The case will be solved and it will be closed … or will it? Trilogies happen.

3. Horror is no different. Slashing, thrashing and bashing can occur throughout the pages of a book or graphic novel. Whether it’s a guy with a chainsaw or some out-of-this-world creature, the horror of it all will continue.

Tip: The best horror books don’t contain a lot of blood and guts. They build suspense and ‘suck’ you into the story. They keep you on your toes and make you want to turn the page to find out how it ends.

4. Historical novels contain the same basis of the story … history. You can’t go back and change the War of 1812 to the War of 1814. However, you can change the character names, plot, scenes, dialogue, etc.

Non-fiction

1. Have you ever been down the self-help aisle of a bookstore? Pick up a couple of books and compare them. They probably contain the same information but are packaged and written differently because people are different. An author who resonates with your friends may not resonate with you.

2. Do you know how many baby name books can be purchased online or in a bookstore? A lot. Pick up any book and you’ll find the meaning for the most popular baby names. Again, the packaging and verbiage are different but the origin of Emma is still Old French and Old German.The meaning is still entire or universal.

Let’s face it; you may think your idea is original, but the reality is another writer probably already wrote a book or screenplay using ‘your’ idea or is in the process of writing something along the same line as you. It’s the same situation with blogs and articles. It’s not a big deal because readers know what they like and will choose to ‘follow’ authors and writers who appeal to them. The key is to observe and learn from the ‘best writers’ and take what they’re doing and apply it to your own writing career. History has shown us that this happens time and time again.

Amandah

 

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