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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Last post of the Blogathon: One-Day ONLY Special Offer--and 8 Ways to Beat Writers' Anxiety

Blogathon, day 30! Thank goodness it's over. I'm actually posting this on Sunday night because I'm swamped tomorrow morning and to give readers a jump on my special offer. 

As I said yesterday, blogging every day doesn't sell books. So in honor of the end of the blogathon, I'm trying something that hopefully will. For ONE DAY ONLY, all of the electronic versions of Improvise Press' books will be HALF OFF. That's $4.99 for:  

Don't have a Kindle? No problem. You can download other e-reader-friendly versions (including a PDF) at Smashwords here: 
This offers ends on Monday, July 1st, when the blog goes on hiatus, so buy your books today--and share this on social media! Thank you! And now for today's post: 

I'm an anxious person by nature. That anxiety has been a driving force in many ways; it got me through college, law school, and two states' bar exams, and a demanding but unsatisfying career as an attorney. It also helped me power through the first few years of full-time freelancing, and has given me the energy and drive to continue to freelance as the publishing world has undergone radical change--and not always for the better. 

I've talked to many fellow freelancers and found that many, like me, are anxious as well. Maybe it's part of our DNA as writers, or it's because a certain amount of anxiety if motivating when you're self-employed. (It is for me, anyway.) But too much anxiety is counterproductive, and it just flat out feels awful. Yes, I obsess sometimes about the amount of work I have (either too much or not enough) but I've found a number of ways to manage my freelancer's anxiety. I think they'll work for you, too: 

1. Start early. I start researching assignments very soon after receiving them, especially when they're souce-heavy. Even so, I'm always at least a little worried about finding enough (and the right) sources until that I wrap up the interview with the last critical person on my list. 

2. Exercise. It's the number one way to beat anxiety, and you can't worry about and work out hard at the same time. I don't always work out first thing in the morning; sometimes I run or bike over my lunch break, which makes me much more focused and productive in the afternoons. 

3. Know what you're doing. Don't get stressed second-guessing yourself. Confirm the specs of the assignment with your client before you're writing so you know exactly what she wants. 

4. Get it down. All too often, I angst over the initial draft of an article, book chapter, you name it. Once I have a draft down, though, that anxiety recedes. Even the crappiest draft can be improved upon, but you can't do anything with the draft that's still in your head. 

5. Forget perfect. I use a three-draft process for pretty much everything I write and don't rewrite after that. Rewriting over and over wastes time and actually makes you more anxious! 

6. Mentally "let it go." My four-year-old walks around singing this hit from Frozen constantly, and it's good advice for freelancers, too. When you turn a piece in, let it go. You'll waste time and stress yourself out for no reason worrying about what your editor will say--and you have no control over it, either.    

7. Think ahead. When I'm really busy, I'll put in an extra hour or so of work after my kids are in bed. I feel like it gives me a jump on the next day, and takes the edge off worrying about getting everything done. 

8. Have a plan. I find that writing down my goals for the day and checking them off help me manage my anxiety--and gives me a sense of satisfaction as well. 

**Readers, what about you? Did you take advantage of the special offer? Do you struggle with writer's anxiety? Feel free to comment here...and enjoy your July! I'll bring the blog back from hiatus in August. 

Four Things I've Learned from the Blogathon

Blogathon, day 29. 

Tomorrow will be my last post before my blog goes on hiatus for the month of July, and I have to say I'm ready for it. I've learned a few things from the blogathon, including: 

1. I’m glad I took on the challenge because I’m a believer in trying new things and stretching yourself. I would have never blogged for 30 days straight had I not publicly committed to. 

2. That being said, I hate blogging every day. Every morning I woke up, thinking, "crap, I have to blog today." I'd much rather blog once a week, on Mondays, the way I have for several years (with an occasional mid-week post thrown in here and there). 

3. Blogging does not sell books. At least not mine, and that was my primary purpose in doing the blogathon. Yes, I've been averaging more than 200+ hits/day on the blog. But my book sales have been lower in June than in March, April, or May--months when I blogged four times/month. Significantly lower, in fact. Why? First, I figure that many of my readers already have my books. (Yay! And thank you!) And I theorize that readers (at least some) are willing to read a blog for free--yet unwilling to shell out money for a book on the same topic I blog about. And by blogging so much, I think I'm devaluing my books, and what they offer, which makes for fewer sales, not more. Not good. 

4. Blogging every day takes too much time. It took time away from pitching ideas and working on assignments--and it took time away from my family, too. It made me run late almost every morning as I tried to get it done before my day started in earnest, and stressed me out almost every day.  


So while I'm glad I did it, I will not be doing it again in the near future. I will, however, be offering a one-day only special offer tomorrow to celebrate the end of the blogathon. Make sure you tune in! 

**What books am I talking about? 

Well, there's Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Editiona freelancing classic that helps both new and experienced writers boost their bottom line. 

If you're a new freelancer, get up to speed fast with Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Marketswhich is aimed at brand-new freelancers in search of their first clips.

And if you want to add ghostwriting to your repertoire, you'll want Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs and More, Second Edition, which shows how to break into the ghostwriting/content marketing field--even if you haven't ghostwritten before.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Blogathon, Day 28: Forget Perfect

Blogathon, day 28. (And don't forget about my special offer which will launch Monday, June 30.) 

Today's post will be a short one, but it's advice that many new writers need to hear. Forget perfect. It doesn't exist. Don't rewrite a story six, seven, eight times, trying to make it better. Your second (or, okay, third) version is most likely good enough--and "good enough" is almost always good enough for your editors and clients. 

Save time, save aggravation, save wear and tear on your psyche. Forget perfect. 

Your assignment: The third draft should be it. Don't rewrite past that point. 


Friday, June 27, 2014

Identify your Sources Early

Blogathon, day 27. Make sure you tune in on Monday, June 30, for a one-day special offer I've never done before! 

Two days ago, I picked up an assignment from a market that's brand-new to me. It's a research-heavy assignment; two related stories that require three experts and three "real people" sources each. The stories aren't due until the end of July, but I'm already working on lining up my sources and ideally want them interviewed by July 10 or so. 

Experts are easy. Swing a dead cat...you know the rest. "Real people," however, are not. It takes time to find "real people," especially when they have to meet specific parameters like for these stories. (One story about newlyweds and sex took me three weeks to find the three "real" people who would agree to speak with me. Lesson: No more writing about newlywed sex again!) And I never want to be in a position where I'm closing in on a deadline yet don't have all of my sources interviewed. It makes me cranky and anxious. 

So I always get my research and interviews done way ahead of time. You should too. 

Your assignment: When you accept an assignment, immediately start identifying and lining up your sources for the story. 

**Want to learn more about successful freelancing? 

Check out Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Editiona freelancing classic that helps both new and experienced writers boost their bottom line. 

If you're a new freelancer, get up to speed fast with Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Marketswhich is aimed at brand-new freelancers in search of their first clips.

And if you want to add ghostwriting to your repertoire, you'll want to read Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs and More, Second Edition, which shows how to break into the ghostwriting/content marketing field--even if you haven't ghostwritten before. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Track your Time and Make More Money

Blogathon, day 26.


I often say that I don’t consider dollars/word when I accept an assignment. Instead, I consider how much I’m making per-hour. To do this, however, you have to keep track of your time on assignments. In doing so, I know my true hourly rate.

I find that my hourly rate varies, depending on the project, and the client. But even work I do for the same client can produce a different hourly rate. Here's an example. I create custom content for a nonprofit client on a regular basis, and am paid a set fee for each article. 

For one article of 650 words, I was paid $300, and spent a half-hour doing background research and another hour writing the draft of the article. (It was on a subject I’d written about before, so it was a fast draft—and this story didn’t require me to conduct any interviews.) Edits and a quick proofread took another half-hour. So the piece took two hours to write. Hourly rate: $150. 

Another piece for $400 required five interviews, which eat up a lot of time to schedule, conduct, and then transcribe my notes. The interviewing, transcribing  and thank-you notes took a little over four hours, and writing the story itself took another three. Edits took another hour. So this story took eight hours, much longer than I originally expected. Hourly rate: $50. 

A third $300 piece required more background research—more than two hours’ worth, and another two hours to write and edit. Hourly rate: $75. 

From tracking my time, I know that work for this client typically pays $50-150/hour; I make more for stories that require less legwork and research and less for stories that require more research upfront. I know what each of my projects' hourly rates are, which helps me decide what to charge and whether to say yes to a new assignment. You can do the same when you track your time. 

Your assignment: Track the time you spend on your next assignment and determine your hourly rate. 

**Want to learn more about successful freelancing? 

Check out Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Editiona freelancing classic that helps both new and experienced writers boost their bottom line. 

If you're a new freelancer, get up to speed fast with Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Marketswhich is aimed at brand-new freelancers in search of their first clips.

And if you want to add ghostwriting to your repertoire, you'll want to read Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs and More, Second Edition, which shows how to break into the ghostwriting/content marketing field even if you haven't ghostwritten before. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Avoid One-Shots

Blogathon, day 25. 

Early on in my freelance career, I wrote a lot of what I call one-shots. I'd write a story about a particular topic one time, for one particular market, and never revisit the topic again--and often fail to even write for the same market more than once! That may be a great way to amass a wide variety of clips (it certainly was for me) but it's not an efficient way to work. You spend almost all of your time researching markets (at one time I had pitches out to more than 20 different magazines) and writing queries because you're writing each one from scratch.  

I do a lot of things differently today. First of all, I don't write one-shots anymore. If I'm going to write about a topic once, I'm going to find a way to write about it again, with a different angle, for a different market. For example, when I found some interesting research about caffeine's effect on physical and mental performance, I pitched and wrote a piece about how to use caffeine for a fitness magazine. I also pitched and wrote a piece on how many caffeine is too much for a regional newspaper, and a piece for a custom magazine on the trend of putting caffeine into beauty products. Each article was a new article, but I could reuse the research over and over, which saves me time. 

In short, avoid one-shots. Strive to write about every topic more than once. 

Your assignment: Come up with more than one angle, and more than one market, for every story you write. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Make Your Book Sell Itself with a Subtitle

Blogathon, day 24. (And I will be glad when it's over!) 

Today’s post is for book authors, or those who want to be. One of the reasons I started ghostwriting (after I’d already published my own books) is because of the enormous amount of time you must spend promoting and marketing your books after they’re published. As a ghostwriter, I don’t have to worry about promoting a book; I just have to write it. And that makes me much more efficient and means I make a lot more per-hour.

But I still write my own books, and that means I have to market them, even years after they’ve been published. That’s why I continue to blog, and speak, and write articles about freelancing, and Tweet, and maintain a Facebook page, you name it. 

The bottom line, though, is that selling books comes down to one simple thing—giving readers a reason to buy them. Make them a promise with your book's subtitle, and make sure that your books deliver on that promise. (For example, Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Publications and Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs, and More, Second Edition.) My subtitles may not be sexy, but they get the point across. 

Promises sell books. Make sure your subtitle sets out that promise.


Your assignment: Choose a subtitle that makes a promise to readers--and deliver on it.