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.

14 Holiday Gift Ideas for Writers (and Yourself)

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The following article was originally published in 2018. It has been revised with new gift suggestions for 2020.

Happy holidays, and ‘tis the season for gift giving. I’m taking a break from my usual posts about writing to indulge in a little brainstorming for holiday gifts for the writers in your life. Or even for yourself.   

Here are a few ideas to get you started on your gift list.

1. Books about writing. Naturally, books will fall on any writer’s wish list, especially books about writing, reading or creativity. What writer wouldn’t want to add to their library? There are plenty of books available about becoming a better writer, improving your habits, overcoming writer’s block and more. Check out some of these book suggestions. There are more suggestions here and here.

2. Writer’s tools of the trade. Every writer needs a current dictionary, thesaurus, AP Stylebook and/or University of Chicago Manual of Style to complete their library. Add The Elements of Style and a basic grammar book, and your library is complete. Even if you have a dictionary on your shelf, they are updated fairly often, so it might be beneficial to get a more current version.

3. Caffeine containers (also known as coffee mugs). No writer should be without their daily supply of caffeine. Check out this collection of humorous coffee mugs from Café Press that are sure to put a smile on your face.

4. A really, really nice pen set. Many writers I know write their stories longhand, so they need plenty of writing instruments to get the job done. Consider getting them (or yourself) a supply of really nice pens (within budgetary reasons, of course), or a stock of their favorite pen, if they have one. Working with a stylish pen can put you in a more serious frame of mind when you write.

5. Professional development. Instead of a physical item, consider the gift of experience or education. Continuous learning is important to most writers to stay on top of publishing trends. Writers are constantly searching for ways to improve their own craft and become better writers. Consider a gift of a Writer’s Digest subscription or an online course through Mediabistro.

6. Writing exercises and word puzzles. Exercise your brain and jumpstart your creativity with a magnetic word game. Each magnet contains a word, and with 100 or so word magnets, you can create some pretty imaginative poems. Put them on your refrigerator, and let the family create their own mini-short stories as they grab the milk.

Another option is the Writer’s Toolbox, described as “more exercises and games to inspire ‘the write side of the brain.’  Get the family involved with a Once Upon a Time storytelling card game. One person begins telling a story using the elements described on their cards, guiding the plot toward their Ending Card. But other players can interrupt the Storyteller with their own elements and the right to take over as the new Storyteller.

7. Jigsaw puzzles. Speaking of puzzles, jigsaws are ever popular. Not only does it give you a needed beak from writing, it’s a way to relax and unwind. If you’re stuck in a writing rut or you’re facing a tough plotting dilemma, taking time out to work on a jigsaw puzzle may be just the distraction you need to get your mind off of your writing problems.

8. A book of writing prompts
. Occasionally writers need help generating story ideas. To get the creative juices flowing, they might appreciate a book of writing prompts. Before you know it, the writer in your life (or even the writer in you) will be off and running on their next story.

9. Do Not Disturb signs. Some years ago, I once saw a sign that read “Do Not Disturb. Genius at Work.” I laughed at the time, but I think it succinctly describes the sentiment most writers feel when they are at work. Writers are creative geniuses who need privacy and quiet, uninterrupted time to plot, daydream, and craft their stories. Let people know that once that sign is on the door, it’s time to get down to work.

10. Music for your ears. Some writers enjoy a little background music while they work, so a few new tunes might put you in the mood to be creative. Even if you don’t listen to music while you work, music can calm you when you’re not working or make you feel like dancing when you’ve met a deadline.

11. Membership dues to a professional organization. If you have ever wanted to join a writers’ association, now might be an opportune time to give yourself a gift of membership. Some organizations charge only $25 or $30 annual fee to join, and if you’re lucky they may pro-rate it or give a holiday discount.

12. An inspirational poster. Looking for motivation? A framed print or poster with an inspirational quote can help you stay positive during those long stretches of writing time.

13. An ergonomic desk chair. With all the sitting writers do, it helps to have a good chair to sit on so you don’t suffer any back pain. How old is the chair you currently have and how often do you use it? Does it have enough cushion to support you? Does it allow you to plant your feet firmly on the floor? There are plenty of ergonomic chairs on the market that are designed to align your spine properly. They might cost a little more, but your backside will thank you.

14. Desk lamp. If you plan to spring for a new chair, why not add some new lighting to brighten your work space? Sometimes the right lamp can improve the lighting of your desk space while improving your mood.

At this time of year, it’s easy to become more focused on finding gifts for the people in your life. But don’t be shy about giving something to yourself. Self-care is important too, especially after the year we’ve all gone through. Remember to treat yourself well. The more you invest in yourself, the more you improve your writing life.

Happy shopping and happy holidays.