Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Are You a Writerpreneur?

Writerpreneur (n) - One who writes for a living; a writer who considers writing to be a profession or business, and constantly seeks new ways to earn money as a writer.

No, I didn't coin this term, unfortunately. From what I can tell via Google, Gregory A. Kompes came up with it to describe his writing life. I took to the word immediately, and decided to formally define it. I think it embodies what a lot of us dream of being or already are. At least it does for me.

By the time I graduated from high school, I already knew I wanted to be a writerpreneur (or, as I stated in my yearbook, a "professional freelance writer"). But coming from a working class family and neighborhood of mostly blue collar fathers and stay at home mothers, I hadn't the foggiest idea how to treat writing as a business, and instead clung to the safe route of "real jobs," dabbling with writing on the side. While I am still employed full-time, I can at least now say that I do enough writing to consider it a steady part-time job, and still plan for the day when I can write, and support myself by doing so, full-time.

Not all writers are writerpreneurs. Some write solely for the joy of it, or for self-discovery, or for creative release, and there's nothing wrong with that. My guess is, some of the world's best writing never gets read by anyone but the author. And not all writerpreneurs are good writers; I see examples of that nearly every day. What binds writerpreneurs, however, is the drive to make writing a career, not a hobby.

Writepreneurs come in many varieties. Some, like Bob Bly and Peter Bowerman, freelance as copywriters. Stephen King, John Grisham, Nora Roberts, Sue Grafton and many others make a more than comfortable living writing fiction. But these represent only well-known writerpreneurs; many, many people you may never hear of do ghost writing, copywriting, article writing, songwriting, speech writing, and supply an endless stream of scripts, screenplays, greeting card verses and Web copy. Others run their writing businesses based on information products, ebooks, or by developing niche Web sites.

True, the internet has proven to be both a blessing and a curse for writers. Too many sites look for free content. Too many internet marketers look for cheap writing labor. And too many people are willing to take these cheap or free assignments.

On the other hand, the industrious writerpreneur can use the internet as part of a profitable marketing, networking and job search strategy. Never before has it been so easy for a writer in New York to do work for a client in California, or for writers in Australia and the UK to submit articles to American and Canadian markets. Never before has it been possible for good writers to make commission by promoting the products of others as affiliates, or by blogging, or by teaching online courses.

For the resourceful entrepreneur, opportunities abound. It takes effort and persistence, just as getting published always has, but I firmly believe that making a good living as a writer has never been more doable. In fact, a lot of writers already do so.

Here's to your writing success.

Mary Anne

P.S. If you don't already do so, come follow me on Twitter! I send out links to writing jobs, writing contests and writing articles nearly every day. To follow, go to http://twitter.com/writesuccess , or narrow your search to my posts only by entering "WriteSuccess" on http://search.twitter.com .

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Simple Way to Manage Projects and Tasks

By guest blogger Steve Slaunwhite

Have you ever had a task fall through the cracks? Then scrambled to get it done? Or misplaced important information you needed to finish a project, and wasted precious minutes or even hours trying to find it?

Few things will torpedo your productivity more than disorganization. That's why having an effective system for managing your projects and tasks is so important.

I define PROJECTS as those activities that typically take longer than 20 minutes to complete. For example, writing a brochure for a client is a project. So is putting together a new website or doing your taxes.

A TASK, by contrast, is any activity that takes less than 20 minutes to complete. It's a traditional to-do item. Over the course of a day, you might have several tasks that need your attention (or, in some cases, scream for it) such as paying a bill, returning a phone call, or ordering a new toner cartridge for the printer.

Over the years I've experimented with many systems for keeping track of projects and tasks. I've tried software programs, online to-do lists, project management binders, the works.

What ultimately worked best for me? Some file folders, a stack of 3x5 index cards, and a wall-mounted cork board!

Yep, I know that's about as low-tech as it gets, but the system works. Let me walk you through it. Here's what I do when I get a new project from a client:

  • First, I pull out a file folder and label it with the project name. That's where I'm going to put all the printed project information. I use an accordion-style legal-size file folder because it holds a lot of stuff and prevents papers from falling out the sides.
  • Next, I make a corresponding computer folder -- using the same project name, of course -- to hold electronic project information, such as documents and emails.
  • Finally, I write the project name and any key dates, such as the deadline, on an index card and pin it to the cork board adjacent to my desk. The cork board gives me an at-a-glance view of what needs to get done: projects on the left, tasks on the right.

That's it! When I "go to work" each morning, I simply look at my cork board, decide which project I want (or need) to work on, and simply pull out the corresponding file folder and open the corresponding computer folder. Everything I need to hit the ground running on that project is now at my fingertips. I'm working productively in about 15 seconds!

I have a similar system for completing tasks. If there's a phone call I need to return, for example, and I can't do that right away, I simply:

  • Pick up an index card from the stack I keep on my desk.
  • Jot down the task. "Call Michael back to discuss the revisions for the new website.
  • Pin the index card to the cork board.

When I have a few moments, usually while I'm taking a break from working on a project, I just look at the cork board, pick a task and, as comedian Larry the Cable Guy is famous for saying, "Get 'er done!"

My cork board of projects and tasks helps me gain a big picture of what needs to get done and ensures nothing, especially tasks, falls though the cracks. And it sure feels good to take down an index card and toss it in the recycle bin when a project or task is done!

Try this low-tech system for staying on top of your projects and tasks. It works!


Steve Slauwhite is the author of Start & Run a Copywriting Business (Self-Counsel Press) and The Everything Guide to Writing Copy (Adams Media). You can sign up for his free newsletter for copywriters at http://www.forcopywritersonly.com/

Monday, June 15, 2009

Some Questions to Reignite Your Writing Flame

Do you ever feel so paralyzed by writer's block or procrastination that the very thought of sitting down to write seems downright repulsive? When cleaning out a closet or organizing your DVDs alphabetically sounds more attractive than setting aside time to write?

I'll admit that I have felt that way. Generally speaking, I love to write--I enjoy the entire process, from sitting at my laptop or PC and clicking away on the keys to stringing words together that best capture my message or mood. I relish the editing process as well, changing or restringing those words until I am satisfied with the result. And I definitely love the feeling of fulfillment that comes from completing an article, chapter, blog post, essay or issue of WriteSuccess.

But sometimes...I lose sight of what I love about being a writer. And if you're struggling to complete something you're working on--or to even begin developing in writing an idea that's been floating in your brain--chances are you've lost sight of why you've wanted to write as well. When this happens, perhaps taking some time to ask the following questions, and even writing the answers in a journal, can help replenish our writing energy and restore our writing resolve. Here are a few of the questions we can ask to stoke our writing fires once more:

*How old were you when you first realized you wanted to be a writer?
*What was the first thing you remember writing that you were proud of, and why?
*What is the most recent thing that you've written that you're proud of, and why?
*What do you want your writing to accomplish?
*What is it about the writing life that most appeals to you?
*How would you like your writing to be remembered, known or recognized? Why?

Answering questions like these can help us rediscover the joy, fun and/or fulfillment that we sometimes lose along the way during the course of building our writing careers. They can bring us back to our writing roots and provide us with a fresh sense of purpose. In other words, they can help us remember why we chose to become writers in the first place, or why we keep coming back to writing again and again.

Here's to your writing success.

Mary Anne


P.S. Come join me on Twitter! I send out links to writing jobs, writing contests and writing articles nearly every day. http://twitter.com/writesuccess , or search WriteSuccess on http://search.twitter.com/ .

Monday, June 8, 2009

Writers: How to Land Online Radio & Podcast Interviews

Mary Anne’s Note: The following article is actually part of a free report I received from the editor of one of the ezines I subscribe to. While the author wrote it for internet marketers, I think it contains great advice for writers trying to publicize their books and/or writing services.

By Nicole Dean

Imagine being a talk show host for a weekly podcast. What’s the one thing you need every single week? Guests. Lots and lots of expert guests.

You think finding content for your website is hard? Trying pinning down guests each week for interviews. My good friend, Kelly McCausey, has been recording an online show since 2003 – every single week at WAHMTalkRadio.com That’s a lot of guests.

I recently interviewed Kelly to ask the question "What makes a good guest and what makes you want to invite someone back?" Here are some pointers to increase your odds of getting on a show and being asked back:

1. Actually listen to the show a few times before even thinking of contacting the host as a potential guest. Make sure your concept fits into the market that the show reaches. If the show is about Health, then don’t pitch your candy-making cookbook on there.

2. Do something newsworthy or interesting. Are you having a special event for charity? Have you recently won an award? If your idea is timely, you’ll stand out and the host may contact you sooner rather than later.

3. Have something interesting to say. If you just plan to talk about your products, then don’t ask to be a guest. Buy an ad instead.

4. If you have sample interviews or media exposure, tell the host about it in your inquiry letter. Direct her to your media page where you link to past interviews, if you have them.
One Good Turn Deserves Another

With the Host or Hostess giving so much to you, what are you expected to do in return?

• Provide a list of questions in advance.
• Send a sample of your product to the host before you appear on the show.
• Tell your newsletter list about the interview and where to find it. Your host will be more
likely to have you back if you are willing to publicize your interviews.
• Blog about your interview.
• Be a gracious guest and be sure to say "Thank you" when the interview is over. (A gift
is also nice.)

Hot Tip! You may also ask the host for a copy of the interview that you can add to youraffiliate center.

The author’s Web site is http://www.SalesArmySecrets.com

Speaking of Web sites, be sure to 1) subscribe to my free ezine of information, inspiration and resources for writers at http://writesuccess.com . Also, for the latest links to writing jobs, writing contests and writing news, follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/writesuccess .

Monday, June 1, 2009

What Do You Want as a Writer?

I think it's been 20 years since I've listened to audio cassettes by motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, but I remember this quote of his, in that Southern drawl, as clearly as though I'd just heard it yesterday:

"In order to get what you want, you need to help others get what they want."

At that time, I had pretty much abandoned my writing aspirations and was concentrating all of my efforts on the "practical route" of clawing my way up the corporate ladder. I read and listened to everything I could get my hands on regarding leadership, good management, networking, goal setting, and a host of similar topics, which eventually led me to Ziglar. Zig had a delivery style as cozy as a hand-sewn quilt and as warm as homemade bread, so you felt as though you were sitting on his front porch listening to him while spun tales that incorporated his business philosophies.

I learned so much from him, things I tried to apply on the job. But I didn't actually work with, or for, Zig. In fact, I felt as though I worked with and for people whose motivations and goals I either didn't understand or couldn't agree with, and found it difficult to reconcile Zig's philosophies with my reality. After awhile, the corporate ladder for me turned out to be a slippery slope, one I could never firmly grasp. This turned out fine, as I returned to writing, using my management and corporate experiences to break into publication as a business article writer.

But as I recalled Zig's words recently, I realized that they apply as much or more to writers as they do to those aspiring to management positions. No matter what kind of writer or what kind of writing I applied the quote to, it fit. For example:
Do you want to get published in magazines? Then come up with the kind of article ideas (including titles) that editors crave, ones that would entice readers to pick up their magazine at newsstands.

Do you want to write novels? Write for your readers, not just yourself. Develop characters that readers will remember, create settings they can feel, see, smell and taste, concoct page-turning scenes and plotlines.

Do you want to be a sought after copywriter? Deliver your best work to your clients at all times, adhere to deadlines and make reasonable revisions when asked.

Can you see the pattern here? In order to get to where you want to be as a writer, give editors, readers, agents, publishers and clients what they want. Mr. Ziglar had it right all along. I was simply applying it to the wrong career for a while.

Here's to your writing success.

Mary Anne

P.S. Come join me on Twitter! I send out links to writing jobs, writing contests and writing articles nearly every day. http://twitter.com/writesuccess , or search WriteSuccess on http://search.twitter.com .