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Benefits of Becoming a Freelance Web Writer

27 May

You are probably reading this because you are either looking for a part time career or you want to replace your full time career with a home-based job, right? Freelance writing is one of the best careers today, perfect for those who need more flexibility, freedom of expression, and a way to earn more money. Those are reasons enough to seek out alternatives to dull traditional careers.

Before you make up your mind to choose freelance writing as a possibility, here are some things you need to know:

1. You won’t get rich or famous as a freelance writer (think of how long it took King to get there!)

2. You must save money and learn to live frugally to make it as a freelance writer.

3. You need to have a back-up plan or another source of income while you are building a freelance writing business.

4. Learn as much as you can about writing, grammar and word processing tools before you start working as a writer.

With those things said, here are the benefits of being a freelance writer and why this may be the right career for you:

  • Freelance Writing is very flexible with no set hourly requirements each day. However, as a writer you must be able to set aside a certain amount of uninterrupted time daily to be successful (and earn enough money).
  • Freelance Writing is perfect for self-motivated people to earn the kind of living they desire. No more waiting for the boss to see your value and promote you. You must work hard to get where you want to be with your career and earn good wages.
  • Freelance Writing is family-friendlyand works well for people with other committments such as caring for children or elderly family members. You can make your own schedule, but again you must make time for your business too.
  • Freelance Writing is the perfect creative outlet for those who have dull careers or need a form of expression. You can write on any topic you desire and make a living. However, you will be expected to research and write on specific topics for clients often.
  • Freelance Writing can help you earn more than what you may currently be making in your day job. However, without constant searching for new clients, marketing your business and charging decent rates, you wont make enough to survive.

So take some time to absorb these things and consider whether or not freelance writing is the best choice for you? If you want to learn more, check out my 6 week virtual course  over at Freelance Writing Class to find out how you can earn as a freelance writer!

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Happy 2nd Birthday to A Journey of Words!

14 May

Wow, I cannot believe it that my little space on the net “A Journey of Words” is turning 2 years old this weekend! What started out as a casual place to post updates for my web copy writing clients, has now turned into one of my favorite places to share ideas, encouragement and tips for making your business more successful through content marketing.

Over the past 2 years, A Journey of Words has been a source of inspiration for me as a writer and as a small business woman. As I struggled to make my way in the world, a career changer in my mid-30’s, this little blog has been a place where I have turned to over and over again to gather my thoughts in a creative way.

The recent WordCount Blogathon has given me a good reason to take fifteen minutes out of every day to share something new here. As a result, A Journey of Words has gotten some nice comments from others and for that I am very grateful.

People have asked me the following questions about this blog, which I would like to address:

Q. What does A Journey of Words mean?    

A. This phrase describes the personal and professional journey that I have been on as a writer. What started out as a part time effort back in 2006, ended up giving life to a whole new career for me. I went from being a disillusioned HR professional, to an inspired web copy writer that year. I made my dream of being a work from home mom a reality. I improved the quality of my family life, my professional life, and my community by being gutsy enough to take this journey. All that time it was the WORD that led me to where I find myself now, and this will be the way it will be in the future.

Q. Why is your blog build on the Word Press.com platform instead of as part of your website?

I get this one a lot. The straightforward answer is that the program that I used to build my website did not include the option to create a blog, still doesn’t for some odd reason. Other than that, I love everything else about my website. So, that left me with one option – to create a blog elsewhere. I actually first started out with a Blogger blog, but after getting fed up with some of the themes I was using, I was turned on to Word Press. Since then, I have enjoyed switching out the look and feel of A Journey of Words several times, but will always use WP as my blog format. So, to make it work with my website I simply set up a re-direct page from my website to here.

Q. Why don’t you monetize your blog with pay to click ads and affiliate buttons?

While I respect and appreciate that many bloggers include paid advertising sources on their blogs, it was a personal decision not to do so with A Journey of Words. First off, this isn’t a place to advertise for anything really. This is a place to leave the world’s clutter behind and focus on the words in front of you. I wanted this blog to be uncomplicated, easy to navigate and understand for all viewers. Besides, I’m not trying to get rich from my endeavors – just love what I do and the small business owners I help!

So there you have it. Let me personally thank  all of you wonderful friends and family who take the time to read my blog throughout your busy lives. I welcome your comments, ideas and feedback always. Thanks for making the last 2 years so much fun!

Finding Inspiration in Everyday Ordinary Things

12 May

Today, I am having one of those days when I am trying to squeeze too much into my day trying to be super-writer! Ever go through this as a writer yourself? This feeling often comes from trying to multi-task way too much and not giving enough focus to the tasks at hand. It can also come from biting off too much at once, hoping to rake in the projects and dollars to pay the bills as a freelancer. When this happens, I have to remind myself to take a small step back and seek out inspiration in everyday ordinary things.

Let me explain a little more what I mean here….

The world, as we know it, is filled with little bits of inspiration. Like clever quotes found on people’s social media posts, the stories of people who have made their dreams happen, or beautiful images of the natural world right outside your own window. We can see this in the smiles of our children’s faces, or in the love and care we give to others. The key is to take a moment to declutter your brain enough to notice these small snippets of inspiration, if only for a moment.

My father once said to me, “take the time to stop and smell the roses”. In fact, I have a bookmark that he gave me the last time I saw him when he was in the hospital fighting his final battle with Leukemia. This wonderful man had worked hard all of his life, rarely taking a vacation or personal time, to support my Mother and younger sisters, and yet he never got to enjoy his retirement years. This poignant phrase has stuck with me for years, and has taken on new meaning as I became a home-based professional. Each day, I try my best to live up to his words by taking five minutes to reflect on what I have learned that day and if I have indeed taken a moment to experience the sweet smell of success. Afterall, without these moments of inspiration – what is life worth living for?

Personally, I find that the best inspiration I get is from other creative souls. For example, I love walking in downtown Charleston, SC for the art walks. Those artists and the amazing work they produce inspires me on so many levels. Or the random musicians I find in my daily listens to online radio stations or on reverb nation. Today, I found an incredibly talented musician by the name of “Minds I” (David Isaac Marchant Jr.) whose soulful ambient songs gave my brain a fast infusion of divine inspiration!

Other days, I just have to take a short walk outside to be reminded of how lucky I am to work from my comfortable home office daily as a web copy writer in Charleston. Anytime I desire a mental break, all I need to do is step outside and breathe in the fresh air on my front porch. What a feeling of absolute freedom, that inspires me to do my best!

So, ask yourself what inspires you? Have you taken the time to smell the roses today?

3 Steps for Maintaining Balance as a Web Copy Writer

8 May

If you are a freelance writer, do you often find it difficult to find that perfect balance in your life? Are you continually feeling guilty about not having enough time to do it all? A while back, I wrote a post about maintaining balance as a small business owner, which provided some helpful tips for anyone struggling in this area. Now I’d like to address the writing community out there specifically, to talk about some of the ways to find a better balance between writing work and a personal life.

First, let me start off by saying that being a full time web copy writer is by no means an “easy” job, like some of my corporate counterparts like to think. They seem to imagine me as this free-spirited person who has all the time in the world to dream up content for websites whilst I relax in my pajamas eating bon-bons all day. I suppose it’s because they wonder what it is that I do from 9-5  in my little home office. When I tell people I write for a living, I often get that puzzled look and then a question like, “So what books have you written?” My response is then, “Well, actually I don’t write books, I create website and print marketing copy that helps small business owners get their message out there more effectively.” Then it makes better sense and people realize that I work HARD all week long.

When I first started out in this biz, I had the same set of expectations which included: being able to roll out of bed when I wanted to, work on the projects I chose, and deal with clients on my terms. Instead, I found out very quickly that I had a lot of hoops to jump through as a service provider. If I didn’t spend time daily looking for new opportunities, they wouldn’t exactly be banging on my door. My world quickly got out of balance as I spent more and more hours glued to my computer.

Then I started taking a real hard look at my business and set up a 3-Step Plan to get myself back into focus and create a more reasonable work-life balance for myself (and my family). Here’s what I came up with:

1. Establish standard business hours. Without a clear schedule and work hours, it’s easy to let things get out of balance. The lines between work and personal time begin to blur. In addition, clients begin to think that you will be available at their command, any time of the day or night. When you get a call from a client at 4 AM on a Sunday, you know you have a problem with balance. So, I decided what work hours work best for my clients and I, and then I set them into action by stating them clearly on my business website.

2. Allow goof off time or mental health days. One of the ways that freelance writers get out of balance is by not allowing themselves time to relax. Spending 12 hours in an office chair  6 days a week is not a healthy way to conduct a business or produce quality copy. So now, I allow myself at least one hour of “goof off” time during the day, and take a mental health day off twice a month. I also frequently plan on-site client meetings and go to business networking events to get out of my home office. Getting away from the desk refreshes my mind and helps me to focus on work when I am in the office.

3. Learn to ask for help when needed. The biggest lesson I had to learn as a web copy writer in Charleston was getting help from other writers or creative professionals when the project called for it. The personality of an entrepreneur is to try to do everything yourself. But this is also an indicator of being a complete control freak! If a big project comes in, I quickly assess how much time it will take me to do my part, and then I get in touch with a couple of trusted entrepreneurs I have in my network to help out. This has created more balance in my business and life.

So, whatever you find yourself dealing with now in your writing career or as a home based business professional, know that you CAN find a better balance for your life. The key is to learn what your priorities are and establish clear boundaries so that you can focus on what’s most important to you. Don’t wait – do this now and save yourself a lot of stress and frustration.

How do you find balance as a freelancer?

How to Avoid Working Weekends as a Web Copy Writer

7 May

The thing about web copy writing is that it’s one of those careers that has endless work coming in. Combined with clients who want everything “yesterday” and you have a recipe for stress. When I first started out as a Charleston web copy writer, I often found myself taking on way too much work and trying to meet unrealistic deadlines in an attempt to impress my new clients. While I have always prided myself on fast turnaround, sometimes I bit off more than I could chew and found myself working on the weekends to catch up. After a few months of this, I was ready for the looney bin! So I decided to take a step back and figure out why I wasn’t able to get the work done during the week.

Some of the reasons I often ended up working weekends were:

  • Too much work and no one to help out.
  • Deadlines too close together on multiple clients.
  • Bad habits from when I worked full time and wrote in the evenings/on weekends.
  • Procrastinating on big projects until I was days away from deadlines.
  • Too many distractions in my life – the phone, email, facebook, family, etc.

So after going through this scenario over the course of a year of writing, I started to feel majorly burned out. My family was also getting pretty mad at me for spending every waking hour on my laptop banging out articles and web copy. My house was a disaster zone from all the housework and laundry piling up. I had next to no social life and was getting very pale from being stuck in my home office for weeks on end. Something seriously had to give!

Finally, I came up with a little system which has worked for me ever since. Here’s what I recommend for any web copy writer who wants to avoid working on weekends:

Make a schedule and stick to it. I use my Google calendar A LOT. If something comes up, I check my calendar first before I tell a client when I can meet for coffee, have a project done, and other things that take up my time. Clients are generally understanding that I have other projects on my plate so they are willing to wait a reasonable amount of time to get quality results from me.

Be realistic about what you can do. Sometimes I have thought of myself as super-woman and have taken on projects that were a wee bit too technical for me. I like the challenge apparently! When this has happened in the past, I have spent way too many hours trying to figure something out for the benefit of a client, because I always bend over backwards for people. That means I probably didn’t make a real profit on some of that work. Instead, now I take on projects I know I can do a great job on and pass others onto colleagues who are better at things I cannot do.

Ask for help when needed. One of the biggest pitfalls of being a freelancer is having the sense of responsibilty for everything. When I accept a project, I do it 100% to the best of my abilities. This can lead to stress, however, when life’s little emergencies happens. That’s when someone close to me suggested “why not ask for help?”. So I found a couple of fantastic freelance writers and have asked them for help on occasion. That keeps me from doing overtime on weekends.

Reduce self-defeating habits from my week. Perhaps the biggest reason I used to work a lot of weekends was because I goofed around on the computer all week, chatting with friends, checking out community forums, and basically procrastinating. So, I started using a timer and working in chunks of time, without distractions or allowing myself to surf the net. Once the work is done, then I have time to play a little. I find that I spend less time working on weekends when I remove these self-defeating activities from my work week.

What are some other suggestions you can think of that will help you be more productive during the week so you spend less time working on weekends? Please leave your suggestions and comments below!

Using Google Calendar to Set Up an Easy Blogging Editorial Calendar

3 May

This week, the 2011 Wordcount Blogathon launched with some great incentives to start blogging daily! At last count, there were over 200 unique blogs participating in this fun activity. When you think about it, that’s a lot of blog posts! 

To start things off right, I decided to be proactive with my own blog and set up an easy editorial calendar using Google calendar. I use this free web-based calendar for so many things in my Charleston copy writing business. From booking private clients and scheduling myself for events, to setting up reminders for project deadlines and important networking meetings – I use Google calendar ALL the time. The cool thing is that it’s not only just a nice web-based calendar, it has a lot of great features such as sending invitations to others for meetings, and text message reminders right to any mobile device! Without this technology wonder, I would be lost most days!

So, when it came down to the Blogathon, I wanted to get myself set up with fresh ideas and reminders for topic days on my Google calendar so I have it all planned out. That way I don’t forget a day or get burnt out on blogging.

Here’s how I set up an Editorial Calendar for the Blogathon:

  1. Signed into my Google accounts
  2. Clicked on “Calendar” which took me to another page
  3. Set up a New Calendar Named “Blogathon”
  4. Added a Daily Topic for each day of the month of May
  5. Set up reminders to send me a text and email each day

It really was that easy! Anyone can use this handy FREE tool to create an online editorial calendar to maintain a blog. Try to think of topics that are relevant to your business, what your clients or friends may be into, and in a specific order that makes the best sense. If you have a complex topic, try breaking it up into a series and then writing about it for a few days – expanding on the topic as you go.

Wishing all the participants of the 2011 Wordcount Blogathon the best of success! Looking forward to getting to know others, share some great information and make new friends.

OK now it’s YOUR turn – how are you keeping track of your blog posts??? Please leave comments below!

About the Author:

Tess C. Taylor, Web Copy Writer and Owner of Taylor Resources Writing, has been writing for the web since 2007. After transitioning from a 14 year career in Human Resources, Tess writes on many topics close to the hearts of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Her work has been featured on Yahoo Business, US News and Chamber of Commerce. For more information about Tess, please visit www.trwriting.com

Word Count Blogathon 2011 – Tess C Taylor, Charleston Web Copy Writer Participating!

1 May

Hey all!

During the month of May, I’ve decided to inject my blog “A Journey of Words” with some energy by participating in the Word Count 2011 Blogathon! This fun event is the brainchild of Michelle Rafter, the founder of “Wordcount: Freelancing in the Digital Age“, which happens to be one my favorite blogs that’s jammed packed with information about web content and copy writing! The reason I chose to get involved in this are many, including:

  • My blog really needs more interesting content to get people engaged.
  • I LOVE sharing information about being a Copy Writer in Charleston.
  • I’d like to introduce some of the wonderful entrepreneurs I work with.
  • Would like to get to know many more people in the online marketing industry.
  • The topics for the Blogathon look fun to write about.
  • The 2011 Wordcount Blogathon offers some sweet prizes and a party!

The entire Blogathon requires that bloggers write at least a post per day, write on specific topics, get other bloggers involved and join in on a network of others who are doing this fun activity. The first thing I was concerned with was “Will I have enough things to talk about on my blog?”, closely followed by “How will I find time to post daily?”. Naturally, as a busy freelance web copy writer, I have a lot on my plate. Clients depend on me to get their projects done. I’m continually trying to meet more people who can utilize my services. Plus, I have a fairly active personal life as Mom to a college student. The To-Do list in my life is ever growing.

Still, I accept this challenge to grow my blog, meet new people, and get myself out there instead of being a hermit, buried under work! So, look for some informational, educational, funny, and sometimes off the wall posts in the coming weeks. I’m using my Google calendar to set reminders of the topics and to make sure I don’t forget a day. From your favorite Charleston copy writer to you – here’s to the start of something wonderful!

Want more information about how you can join the 2011 Word Count Blogathon? Register here : http://michellerafter.com/the-2011-wordcount-blogathon/