Posts tagged how to
Everyone has to begin somewhere. No one just leaps into the top spot in an industry. Or starts off knowing everything there is to know.
And that is especially true with freelancing. It doesn’t matter what type of freelancing. Computer work, software design, art, writing, bookkeeping. And it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been working in your field. Freelancing in a field is different than being an employee in that field.
Maybe you’ve written your first book or maybe your third eBook and you’ve gotten a taste for writing a book. So now you’ve decided you like it and you want to become a freelance writer. Good for you. But you’re going to find it’s a whole different world. So in this blog entry I’m going to share some tips to help beginners in freelance writing. To ease the transition as it were.
1. Freelancing is a business.
Being a freelancer might seem at first glance to be a form of employment. But it is a business and you need to think in terms of running a business. That means like any entrepreneur, you need to spend time working on your business. In fact that is your priority over working in your business. You are no longer a writer — you are an entrepreneur. So think and act like one.
2. Rainy days come sooner than you think.
One of the main pieces of advice that debt counselors give is to put away roughly six months of earnings. As a freelancer your goal is to put at least a year’s earnings away. And you need to start as soon as possible.
3. Time is a limited resource.
As a freelancer you’ll soon learn that you are being drawn in many different directions. If you let it you’ll soon find yourself spending too much time on one part of your business and not enough on another. You need to ensure that you are allocating time to each of the major elements of your business – marketing, finance, information, production. Each is important and each needs your respect and involvement.
4. Sometimes it pays to not do things.
Some people believe that no one can be an expert in everything an entrepreneur does. That’s just not true. In fact it’s easy to do. But what is true is that it isn’t wise to do so. In any job — especially running a business — there are jobs that you don’t do well. There are jobs you don’t enjoy doing. There are jobs that are worth less than other jobs. There are jobs that anyone can do. There are jobs that require specialized knowledge. And then there are jobs that you need to do yourself. And jobs that will earn you more by doing them. As a freelancer you need to identify which group those jobs belong to. And then hire someone else to do the less valuable, less enjoyable, less suitable jobs.
5. There is no such thing as downtime.
As an employee there will be the occasional period of unemployment. And vacation time. And holidays. And other than searching for a job most people take those times as relaxation time. As a freelancer, you will be out of work far more often. But that downtime isn’t. You need to spend the time wisely. Tip number 3 applies even during downtimes. Even if you allocate the time to vacation!
6. Showing is better than telling.
One of the key marketing tools you must develop from the first is a writer’s portfolio. As an employee your main tool is your resume. Not because it’s the best but because the person hiring uses the same rules for everyone. As a freelancer you’ll find you get hired by two disparate groups — those who know how to hire a writer and those who don’t. Your portfolio is what the people who know will want to see. So build it quickly and keep it up to date.
7. Keep your own counsel.
Complaining is an old privilege of employment. However, you’re not an employee. You need to appear professional. And professionals know how to keep their opinions to themselves. So don’t get involved in employee bitch sessions. While your customer isn’t always right, they are your customer. And their business is their own to run. Not yours.
Hey check it out …
TrainingNOW (our publishing arm) has published a new book How To Build A Raised Garden Bed on the Amazon Kindle. Two seperate step by step plans to build a raised garden bed or box, plus suggestions on how to fill it and lots of ideas on where to go from there! Trust me these are easy to build.
Currently only available on the Kindle. You can buy it from Amazon at http://amzn.com/B005J2MW3W
Oh, yea — price. Would you believe only $4.97 U.S.. (Also available on Amazon U.K. and Amazon Germany)
So why am I announcing it? It was written using our system!
One of the basic rules of internet marketing is that you need traffic. Everything starts with the traffic. It’s like a bricks and mortar store. If people don’t come into the store it really doesn’t matter how good your product is, how competitive it is or anything else. Without the foot traffic you aren’t going to sell anything.
And it’s no different over the internet.
In order to have an audience — readers, course attendees etc. — you need the traffic. After all, not everyone who investigates what you offer is going to want to listen/read/watch it. You need enough people passing by in order to get enough people to stick around.
So how do you do that?
One of the best techniques is Article Marketing. Many traffic techniques drive traffic to your site. But it’s often the wrong type of traffic. And that just chews up bandwidth and money. Article Marketing drives high quality traffic — traffic that sticks around and eventually buys.
Now, I’m no slacker when it comes to Article Marketing. But I’m also not the number one author on EzineArticles.com. My coach, Sean Mize is.
I’ve arranged with Sean to make his 6 MP3 audio series Article Marketing Advanced available to you. It will show you how to write articles that drive traffic that sticks, where to post your articles, and much, much more. You can find more information here.
Do you remember when I discussed the most important item in your office I mentioned off hand that it was you?
Well, I wasn’t being entirely silly. Just mostly.
You see, any advice I or anyone else, gives you needs to be filtered through your own needs. The way I write has been developed through years of cubicle living. The way another writer writes will have been developed through their own experience. The thing is, we aren’t going to live in your office — you are. So you need to make it your own.
And no that does not mean put up pictures of the spouse and kids — not that that isn’t a good idea.
Each of us will have our own source of inspiration. When I wrote fiction, many years ago, one of my main sources was the local coffee shop. I’d go sit in a chair by the window and watch the people who came in and the people who walked by. From the homeless person who was convinced Sheena of comic book fame was his daughter. To the blingster with the two “ladies” on his arm and his BMW. Now that I write non-fiction “how to” books, my inspiration comes from a yellow, legal pad and a topic map. Or at least a mindmap. And coffee shops are for business meetings and buying high end coffee beans for my home espresso machine.
You also need to determine how and where you will write best through each of the stages of creation (inspiration, selection, consolidation) and through the physical writing.
Do you need silence when you write? Or do you need people around you? Can you handle interruption or do you need to concentrate? Will the other people in your life accept your lack of response or do you need to warn them they won’t get a reply or do you need to remove yourself altogether?
Are you organized when you write? Or are you a messy writer? Do you need a large area to display your book plan or just a piece of paper beside you?
These questions need to be answered before you can determine where your writing office will be.
Do you need a seperate office? Do you need an office in the living area of your house? Would the local coffee shop or library do the job? Do you need both or all? Will your needs change during the creative and writing tasks?
Once you have answered these questions you can determine the location and nature of your office. And your office will truly be your office.
In the last post I talked about the most important item in your office. This post will be about the second most important item. And just as in the last post it is a key to your future comfort.
The second most important item in your office is the computer monitor.
While your monitor won’t cause physical problems like your chair could. It can cause headaches and other issues which are almost as debilitating. Fortunately, the cost for even a great monitor is much lower than that of the chair.
The key again is to chose the monitor that is best for your needs.
One way to choose is to select the largest LCD monitor you can afford, then buy one size down from that. Why? Because even with LCD monitors there is a loss of sharpness as the screen size increases.
However, a much better method is to view various monitors from the same position and the same angle (and under the same lighting conditions) as you will have in your office. Then select the one that is the sharpest and easiest on the eyes.
In any case, you want to select an LCD monitor which is sharp at the distance you will be reading it. And you want the monitor which makes reading the easiest.
Again, you’ll be spending 4 hours a day (at least) looking at this monitor. Your eyes will thank you if you pick the right monitor.
So last time, I said that we would talk about the most important item in your office.
Now I could be silly and say that’s you.
Well, not so silly because it’s true you are the most important item in your office. In fact, you are so important to your office that it has to take its direction from your lead. After all it exists to make your job simpler.
However, I’m actually talking about the reason I haven’t been able to write for the last week.
The chair. Yup the lowly chair. You wouldn’t think that a place to plunk your a** would be that important. But it is.
The chair is the most important element in your office as far as productivity is concerned. After all you are going to be spending 4 hours a day in that chair while you write your how to book. Maybe more if you chose to work for the rest of the day. Even taking into account the work for 3/4 hr and then change for 1/4 hour pattern which occupational therapists recommend, you will be spending a great deal of time in your chair.
So when setting up your office don’t stint on your chair. Simply put you want the best chair you can afford. The chair needs to be ergonomic (of course) and adjustable. But it also needs to be comfortable and fit you.
Even though chairs are adjustable they still have a range of people that they fit. And one chair may just feel better than another. So when you pick your chair don’t shop over the internet. You must try the chair. Try the adjustments. Check the padding. And to do that you need to physically sit in the chair and pick the one that suits you best. Then once you’ve picked the chair, if you want to shop online — go ahead.
But be prepared, a good chair will cost. They aren’t cheap. But your back (and your book) will never forgive you if you buy anything less than the best!
Oh what the hey … I’m in PAIN!!!!!!
You see I’ve been working so hard and so long lately that my poor back is killing me!
And that lead me to write a new series on how to set up your office to write a how to book.
You see, one of the things that people forget when they are about to write a how to book is that they need to have a place to write. The same thing goes for creating information products in general.
So I’m going to share my experiences over the next two weeks or so on different issues related to the physical act of writing how to books.
However, I want to be clear right off the top that these are my experiences. Every one of us is different and you really need to think about your choices and why you are making them. So feel free to comment and disagree.
(BTW … I’ll be interrupting this series for a special announcement … so keep checking in even if you aren’t interested in setting up your office).
So what am I going to write about:
- The most important item in your office
- The second most important item in your office
- Where do you need to be?
- Paper, Paper everywhere … not any more.
- Sunshine came softly over my office today …
Sorry folks, I think I need to go take another back pain pill …
As always, if there is something special you want me to include just ASK!
Sorry about the title … somehow I’ve messed up my SEO so I need to fix it So I apologize if the following blog entry uses some pretty iffy grammar and spelling! The good news is that I’m still not going to write anything whether how to book or blog entry or article without providing you some useful information! So there mighty Gods of Traffic!
Anyway, a question that often comes up is “Why do I NEED a system in order to write a how to or non-fiction book? After all, I write articles and blog pieces all the time.”
Having to write a non-fiction blog entry is entirely different from having to write a how to book. With a blog entry, my own excepted, it isn’t usually necessary to spend a lot of time organizing one’s thoughts. After all, in 200-400 words you really can’t write a great deal of how-to information. Just knowing what you want to say in general terms is good enough to fill in 2 to 4 paragraphs. After all, you only need an opening, 2 to 3 points you want to make and a closing. And boom, you’ve got 400 words with just a little bit of writing. For 200 words you only need one point!
Not so when you write a how-to book!
To write a small how to book (such as a non-fiction eBook), you need roughly 60 pages or 15,000 words. That’s roughly, 150 paragraphs to write a non-fiction book.
That’s at least 150 points that you need to make in order to write a small how to book. And given that we have a cognitive limit of 5 to 9 that makes the chance of organizing the points to write a non-fiction book entirely in our heads highly unlikely. Like no chance!
Secondly, to write a how to book is a long task (even our system doesn’t change that) and whenever you are doing a long task it makes sense to break it into controllable chunks. Why? Because then you can look for ways to improve it, and manage it, and understand it. And most importantly, so you don’t waste any time when you write your how to book.
And any system you choose to write a how to book should have these features in order to give you the benefits. A system to write a non-fiction book should
- help you to organize writing your how to book before putting words to paper.
- help you to write your non-fiction book quickly without wasting time going off into unprofitable directions.
After all if a system can’t do it’s basic functions it isn’t a very good system!
Writing How To Book: Selecting a Writing System Video #1 of 4
I hope you enjoy the first in a series of 4 videos to help you select a writing system.
So why do you need a writing system?
First of all, I’m going to presume that you want to write a book. After all, if you weren’t interested in writing a book, you certainly wouldn’t need a writing system.
But once we’re past that bit we’re left with “What is a writing system?” and “What is it going to give you?”.
A writing system is a set of processes, tools and techniques which help you control the complexity involved in writing a book, and help you to effectively and efficiently write a book.
A good writing system will help you to:
- Organize the book
- Organize (structure) the information in the book
- Keep control of where the writing is going
- FINISH the book
In short, with a good system, you’ll actually finish, and it’ll be a book that meets the readers need for COD!
Next: What are your needs?
Welcome back folks!
Yup, it’s that terrible time of the year … the worst possible … the return to work after New Years! SCARY !!!!! ;)
Okay, I exagerate. It is that time tho … Time to get your resolutions in place. Time to get your plans in place. Time to get off your duff and get moving! Time to get the year off with a BANG!
So that’s what I’m going to do …
One of the questions I keep being asked goes something like “I’m not writing a how to book. I’m writing a xyz book. Can your system work for me?”. So far, with one exception, the answer has been YES! :cool:
But it’s obvious I’m scaring people off with the emphasis on fact based writing (aka how to books and similar non-fiction).
So, I’ve decided to write a short Youtube course on “How to Select A Writing System” …. Only it turned out to be longer and containing more information than I envisioned. (So what else is new). As of now, it’s four videos of about 10 minutes each! For Free?????? Am I NUTS ????? Well, yeah, but I’m also into giving lots of stuff for free (in the hopes you’ll buy something of course ;) maybe even this!!!!).
Anyway, that’s going to be my blog for the next two weeks; How do you choose a writing system? After all, there’s a lot of us competing out there and getting us all sorted into order is not a fun thing. So my blog is going to consist of the video and some comments to expand on the video.
First video blog is Wednesday … but check up on Youtube … you never know I may be faster there!
(4/6 does not go evenly … so what am I going to do with the other 2 days? This is one of them … The other I’ll devote to planning and the usual year end stuff! Or maybe I’ll have a special announcement … you never know! … meaning if I get my blasted todo list done!)
This blog — and the forum — is meant to give YOU a place to ask questions and get answers. So … PLEASE let me know what you would like me to cover!