Helpful Resources for Freelance Writers

Like most professionals, freelance writers don’t work in a vacuum. They have to surround themselves with a supporting cast to help them succeed. They also have to arm themselves with knowledge and skills to win new client business.

In my freelancing journey, I’ve relied on several helpful resources to refine my craft and stay motivated, especially when I feel stuck or discouraged or filled with self-doubt about the wisdom of my career path. Here are my go-to places for inspiration and skills development.

Websites/Blogs:

Funds for Writers – If you have ever wondered how to earn a living from a writing career, check out this site by mystery writer Hope C. Clark who shares tips and advice for finding sources of income. In her weekly e-newsletter, she compiles lists of writing contests, literary agencies, freelance opportunities, writers’ retreats, grants and fellowships, and more. There’s plenty to read and learn from her site, and you’ll walk away feeling inspired.

Make a Living Writing – Carol Tice’s site is a go-to place for writers of all levels of experience. The blog covers tips and advice for getting published, how to find good-paying writing gigs and how to avoid  content farms. You can download a free e-book about how to avoid scams and browse lists of freelance writing jobs.

The Muse – While The Muse is primarily for job seekers, freelancers can find helpful tips for working with clients or finding career opportunities if the freelance life isn’t working out. Sign up for the news alerts about companies that are hiring, get insights from people who work at these companies, and get advice on how to approach a hiring manager.

Media Bistro – I’ve taken several of the online courses from Media Bistro, and they are well-paced, detailed and practical, covering everything from social media, advertising and copywriting to marketing communications and journalism. There’s also a job board for full-time gigs and a freelancer marketplace called Freelancer Connect where you can look for contract opportunities.

Writer’s Digest magazine – Whether you freelance for businesses or write fiction, Writer’s Digest offers the most comprehensive information, no matter what kind of writing you do. Find out about writers’ conferences, read interviews from successful authors, or take any one of hundreds of online courses. If you get writer’s block, they also offer writing prompts to get unstuck.

Jane Friedman – Friedman, a former editor at Writer’s Digest, has developed a loyal following among creative types who want to know how to get published. While Friedman reports on the publishing industry, she also shares guest posts from successful authors and editors who discuss everything from starting an author platform and how to pitch to a literary agent to how to start a blog and how to find beta readers for your novel. The online workshops are inexpensive too – about $25 for a 90-minute presentation.

Kat Boogaard – Boogaard is a successful freelancer who offers helpful resources to writers of all levels of experience, whether you’re a beginning freelancer or an established professional. Her weekly e-newsletter written in a cozy, conversational way, gives readers a peek into what it’s like to be a freelancer. She also shares freelance opportunities that she’s gleaned from social media. Check out her site at www.katboogaard.com.

Reynolds Center for Business Journalism – I recently came across this site while doing some random research about a topic I was writing about. The weekly e-newsletter called Tuesday’s 2-Minute Tip  provides ideas and advice about covering business topics, such as politics, cyber security, and supply chain businesses. Each article shares resources on where to find key data for business stories, statistics, and industry research.

Reedsy – Reedsy is an online marketplace for creative professionals who help businesses and individuals write and publish books. Reedsy also offers free online workshops via YouTube about the writing craft. You might find workshops about character development, working with an editor, or creating tension in  stories. If you’re interested in self-publishing, Reedsy offers a platform to help bring your story to life.  

Networking:

American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) Monthly Freelancer Networking Group – Each month, freelancers meet online to talk shop. In addition, ASBPE lists job openings and news about writing for business trade publications. If you write long form articles for the business trade, this group is for you. Best of all, membership is free.

Freelancers Union – Your business is more than writing; you need to understand the financial side too. At the Freelancers Union, you’ll find numerous resources to help you operate your writing business as a business. Create contracts for your clients or learn how to manage your invoicing. There’s also an insurance marketplace for health, term life and liability insurance (among others) because well, writers need insurance too. Sign up for alerts to stay abreast of developments on laws that can affect writers. The Union may not be the most glamourous of writers’ sites to know, but it is probably the most important one.
 
Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) – As writers of fiction and/or nonfiction, there will be a point when you need to hire an editor. One of the best places to find one is the EFA. You can post a job or browse the member directory to find a match. Also check out the editorial rates page to know what you can expect to pay a freelance editor, or if you’re a freelancers, what to charge a client. There are numerous chapters throughout the country, so you can be sure to connect with other freelance editors wherever you are, and many of their events are online.

Books:
In addition, I have found the following books to be not only helpful but essential for developing my writing business.

  • Arts & Numbers: A Financial Guide for Artists, Writers, Performers and Other Members of the Creative Class by Elaine Grogan Luttrull
  • The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Freelance Writing by Linda Formichelli
  • A Step-by-Step Guide to Freelance Writing Success by Laura Spencer and Carol Tice

No matter where you are in your writing journey, whether you write for business clients or write fiction, these resources will help you stay on the leading edge of industry trends.

Eight Content Ideas to Make Your Newsletter More Read-worthy

Be sure to check out this week’s writing prompt.

Newsletters are one of the best marketing tools you can use to reach clients and customers. Whether you’ve had a newsletter for your business for a while or you’re thinking about starting one, it’s helpful to share good, strong content can put you in front of readers and keep them informed and engaged.

But most business owners and bloggers know little about newsletters. What kind of content should they include? What will their readers want to know and read about? The answers will depend on what type of business you have. For example, a yoga studio might include tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, healthy recipes, profiles of instructors and studio news. It might be a good place to promote a special offer too.

Or perhaps you provide a dog walking service. Your newsletter might include news about new dog treats, pet grooming tips and a list of local veterinarians.

While I have yet to start a newsletter for my writing business, I’ve worked on several others for employers and clients. I also subscribe to several newsletters from writers and publishing professionals, including Kat Boogaard, Joanna Penn and Jane Friedman. Each of their newsletters are unique based on what information they want to share with their readers and what services they want to promote. Some are sent out weekly (Boogaard’s) and C. Hope Clark’s Funds for Writers while others are shared monthly.

Those are some of the issues you will have to ask yourself as you determine your newsletter content. How often do you want to send it out? What kind of information do you want to include?

One thing is clear. The best newsletters offer helpful advice and information to their readers. They put their readers’ interests first. Further, the least helpful ones focus too much on marketing themselves with little thought about their readers’ interests.

So what kind of information can you include in your newsletter? Here are a few ideas.

  • Start with a brief opening to welcome readers. Keep it brief, no more than three or four paragraphs. Make it timely, referring to current events or the latest news in your life such as a conference you attended, a holiday or family event. Keep it casual and conversational as if you are speaking to friends, (which of course you are).
  • Link to your own blog/website. If you post to your blog frequently, perhaps a few times a month, why not share links to the most recent stories? We used to do this at one of my employers since we posted to our company blog nearly every day. In the weekly e-newsletter, we shared the headlines to the latest stories and linked back to the blog. This is a great way to generate interest in your work and give people a reason to visit your site. It’s one of the easiest things you can do to promote your business or services. Don’t post every single link, but only the top three or four that your readers may find useful.
  • Link to the most interesting news stories and blog posts that you’ve read. No doubt you subscribe to numerous blogs and online magazines. What is the most interesting and memorable things you have read from these sources? Make a list, then link to those articles in your newsletter. Freelance writer Kat Boogaard shares her favorite stories in each weekly newsletter issue. It’s a great way to share industry news that readers may not have known about.
  • Conduct interviews. Is there someone in your sphere whose work you admire? Or perhaps they’ve done something remarkable, like finish a marathon or got their first book published. Reach out to them for a brief interview. I like the Q&A format because it’s easy to read. But keep it brief, no more than four or five questions. Keep in mind that readers don’t have a lot of time to read and will skim through the material. So keep your questions on point.
  • Consider sharing a guest post or article. If you don’t have time for a short feature for your newsletter, why not recruit a fellow writer or business owner to prepare something. I’ve seen this done on several newsletters I receive, which adds a new dimension to your offering. Plus it helps build rapport and support among fellow writers and business owners, especially if they have a product or service that would benefit your readers.
  • Include a book review or recommendations. Have you finished reading a book about a topic pertinent to your business? Why not write a short review and share it in the newsletter? An alternative is to list books about a common theme or topic that may interest readers. For example, find three or four book titles about time management and share links to Goodreads or Amazon for details. This is another way to provide valuable service to readers.
  • List upcoming conferences and workshops. Since so many conferences are being offered via Zoom or other online platform, more people can participate in them that couldn’t before. Your newsletter is a great vehicle for sharing links to upcoming conferences, workshops and events that may interest your readers.
  • Close with a positive message. Ending with a quote from a famous person can inspire readers  and motivate them to be their best. My daily news brief from my health care provider always concludes with a healthy recipe, three tips for a healthy lifestyle, and a quote that makes me feel positive about the future. You can do the same for your readers.

While there’s no guarantee that readers will share your newsletter with their friends, it’s nice when they do.

Remember the best newsletters focus on the readers’ interests, so avoid too much self-promotion which can turn off readers. A little promotion of a product or service is okay, but when it’s done with a relentless force, people may give up on you.

Another piece of advice: browse the newsletters that come into your in-box every week or every month. Notice what you like and what you don’t. Then make a list of components you’d like to include in your own newsletter.

Focus on providing tips, tricks, tools and resources that will make your readers’ lives better. Make sure you are consistent with your timing too. For example, if you decide to distribute your monthly newsletter on the fifth of the month, make sure you do it every month. Readers will begin to look for it in their in box.

Keep the newsletter brief. Most people don’t want to spend hours reading lengthy articles because they suffer from information overload as it is from all the material they already receive. You want your newsletter to stand out. It’s not how long the newsletter is, but the quality of the information you provide.

What about you? Do you have a newsletter for your hobby or business? How often do you distribute it? What kind of content do you include?