“Substitute ‘da…

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
― Mark Twain

Swear words. They play far too major a role in my other job as mother. But that’s another post…

Using colorful language in writing can be both enhancing to the story when placed carefully and distracting when overused. Personally, I am always going for a PG rating on my posts. But the occasional PG-13 word is sometimes just too great to leave out. Of course, I have been known to substitute the Yosemite Sam version, as in “@#$!@@”, which is almost as good. 

Mark Twain is far too famous for his use of certain words. But aside from controversy that has been blown out of proportion in my opinion, he is a master at colorful language. I love his advice here. I had a teacher in high school that hated the word very also. I hear him admonishing me in my head whenever I type it. Thank you, Mr. Clemmons.

What is your policy on swearing? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Writers: Make Some Light Today

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“Why would you save me?” Despereaux asked. “Have you saved any of the other mice?”

“Never,” said Gregory. “not one.”

“Why would you save me, then?”

“Because you, mouse, can tell Gregory a story. Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark. Begin at the beginning. Tell Gregory a story. Make some light.”

And because Despereaux wanted very much to live, he said, “Once upon a time…”

“Yes,” said Gregory happily. He raised his hand higher and then higher still until Despereaux’s whiskers brushed against his leathery, timeworn ear. “Go on mouse,” said Gregory. “Tell Gregory a story.”

And it was in this way that Despereaux became the only mouse sent to the dungeon whom the rats did not reduce to a pile of bones and a piece of red thread. It was in this way the Despereaux was saved.

  —  Kate DiCamillo. The Tale of Despereaux.

How to Raise Your Freelance Rates…and Deal with the Losses!

By Terri Lively

dollar rising graph

Today I was told that my freelance rates were too steep for a project. Rats! The facts are that my rates are steep and I am worth every penny. I say this (and put it in bold) because It’s important to believe that you are worth it if you want to charge a higher rate.

But daily affirmation aside, this client doesn’t think my rate is worth it. This is not an uncommon problem today for freelancers. So today’s topic is how to keep pushing your rates.

An excellent writer, Heather Waugh, sent me this article yesterday. It’s about how Freelancers Don’t Understand What They’re Worth. Check out this infographic:

Source: Community.copypress.com

So how do you raise your rates? I have some tips that might help:

  1. Figure out your hourly rate…and stick to it.  All of us have an hourly rate with which we are comfortable. You need to figure out what it’s worth to sell your time to somebody else’s project. If the rate is too low, why not keep your time and spend it on the latest great American novel you are writing in your spare (read: unbooked) time?
  2. Use the hourly rate to guide your proposals. I use my hourly rate as the base for all my quotes. I prefer to give project bids over hourly bids because I never want to get into an argument that what took me three hours should only have taken two. Or worse, what took 30 minutes should only be charged 30 minutes instead of the full hour. So using that rate, I come up with a price that includes likely revisions, image searches, posting charges, etc.
  3. Google it. Sometimes I get a request for a new type of project, something I haven’t written before or that forays into a new area for me. Then I rely on Google to guide my bid. I type in a full sentence like, “What should I charge to write a 60,000 word novel?” and voila! I get about 10 sources that will give me ranges.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for more. This is the toughest tip that has the most repercussions. If you ask for more, you might get rejected.  But if you don’t ask for more, freelancing stays a hobby instead of your profession. So ask for more. Fearlessly.
  5. Renegotiate. Clearly you wanted the work or you wouldn’t have bid on it in the first place. But please, resist the impulse to say, “Just kidding!” and jump back to your cheaper rate. Instead go back with a question, like “Did you have a budget in mind?” If you are lucky enough to get a number back, go back to tip one and make sure that it’s worth it and try again with a lower but higher than before number. It’s all about pushing the needle up, after all.

So how did I respond to the client today that said my rates were too steep? I did the only sensible thing I could. I tried to renegotiate at a lower rate with my question, “did you have a budget in mind?” And then I kicked myself for asking for so much. Sigh. I suppose that the concepts are always easier to talk about than to live.

So clearly, not getting what you are worth is a trend. But is it a trend that will change? Probably not if other writers do what I did and assert themselves as being worth more and then immediately crumble when they get rejected at their higher rate.

So what do you do to raise your rates? I’d be interested to hear your suggestions in the comments below.

The Gap By Ira Glass

Who doesn’t have doubts about whether they have the talent to be the artist they want to be? I suppose there are a few people out there, but for the rest of us, doubt is a place with which we are all familiar.

I like this video because it’s honest and inspiring. It confirms that when you start out, it’s just not that good. But like a sculptor, you keep taking away the excess material until you uncover your work of art in it’s glorious form. It will be there, just as fantastic as you pictured it.

But in order to get there, you have to keep working. So keep it up, keep drafting, revising, giving up and starting over…whatever your process is. The art is there, like buried treasure, so don’t ever stop looking for it.

6 Ways to Get More Followers on Twitter

6 Ways to Get More Followers on Twitter.

If I tweet alone in the forest, does it make any sound?

If you are like me, then you would like to have more influence on Twitter. But how do you get more people to follow you on Twitter?

As a content provider, having a robust social media strategy is an important part of our career. So whenever I find a good resource for how to build up my following, I pay attention.

Theses tips from Everyday Social Media Marketing at hswriting.me are easy to do, good to know and an excellent foundation for building up a Twitter following. This is a great quick read that might help you get more of the following you want so that your tweets make a sound in the forest.

Three Ways to Wow Your Clients This Week

Closeup of thank you card with ribbon

Like it or not, when you are a freelancer, you are in sales. Only unlike the traditional salesperson that is typically selling a product or service for an organization, the thing you are selling is yourself…and by that I mean your expertise, your professionalism and your customer service.

Wowing customers isn’t rocket science. You simply need to put your customer’s needs at the center of everything you do.

Here are three ways that you can Wow your clients this week:

1. Send them a pertinent article related to their business that they can use for social media.

Social media marketing is a hungry beast that never turns down a feeding. For most people in business, maintaining social media presence has become one more task in an already overloaded day. Since many of us write for these people because they needed to outsource some of their work, why not take the initiative to ease their load in other ways, too? So when you see an article that might enhance the efforts of your client to build a brand on social media, email it to them with a note that says, “I saw this when I was researching a project and thought it might be a great addition to your Tweets this week.” This will position you as someone that is a valuable resource that provides extra service and strengthen your relationship with the client.

2. Mail a handwritten Thank You note after your next project.

Typically, we don’t bother with handwritten anything in today’s tech-driven world. That’s why this one works so well. Stash Thank You notes in your drawer and periodically send one out to a client after completion of a project. Find something from the project that you want to compliment them for that is genuine and specific (if it’s too general, it won’t seem authentic). I guarantee you that this gesture will keep you in the mind of your client when the next job comes up.

3. Offer a free consultation on their current materials.

Depending on your client, you may have additional opportunities to work with them that just haven’t reached their attention yet. Take the initiative to look at their materials and see if you have any suggestions that your marketing expertise can help them improve. If it’s a brochure, offer a consultation on how to take that online. If it’s a website, share with them your expertise on how to make it easier to read. Maybe you have a great SEO strategy that you can use to make their online marketing have a bigger reach. By setting up the meeting and offering the consultation for free, you are positioning yourself as a consultant rather than just another vendor waiting for the next project.

Too many times freelancers forget that they need to wear their sales hat when dealing with clients. But the truth is, you are always in sales when you freelance. Be sure to use these tips to Wow your clients this week and see where it takes you. It may not result in any new business at the time, but it will make you a more valuable member of their team.

“Writing is its…

“Writing is its own reward.”
– Henry Miller

“So don’t expect much else!”
-Terri Lively

This is an interesting quote for today. Why do you write? Is it for fame? Money? Attention? Lately, I have realized that these motivators drive me more than they should. They usually only lead to disappointment and disillusionment. Miller’s quote is both wise and honest. I might amend it to say, “Writing is usually it’s own reward…so don’t expect much else!”

I spend way too much time thinking about my audience instead of thinking about the story I want to tell. That’s my marketing background coming through my work. My focus for my personal work this week is going to be to write something I like and quit worrying if anyone is going to read it. Who’s with me?