How Rejection Can Make You a Better Freelance Writer

July 17th, 2008

rejection is a normal part of every freelance writer's life

Photo by Irina Slutsky

A Freelance Writer’s Blueprint for Handling Rejection

Since I embarked on my freelance writing career, I have experienced rejection more often than I have received acceptance. Now I have been a professional long enough and have worked with enough tough bosses that I can take criticism — including harsh criticism — and not get crushed. After 19 years of working in various offices, I now have a pretty tough skin.

However, I don’t just let rejection slide over me. I gnaw on it and suck the juices out of it. No, I’m not a masochist. I am a person who makes the most of every situation and tries to learn something from every experience, even one that’s as unpalatable as rejection. You might be surprised to know that rejection can be a positive thing in your freelancing career.

How should a freelance writer deal with rejection? Here is my own personal blueprint for handling rejection.

Expect rejection.

I’m not being a negative thinker here. All I mean is that you should accept rejection as a normal part of a freelance writer’s life. Even the best, most successful writers have been rejected at one time. Yes, including Dr. Seuss himself. Do you think you’re better than the rest of them? If you expect rejection, then you’re less likely to take it personally. Rejection will not defeat you.

Recognize and accept your disappointment.

There will be lots of times when you feel that you’ve written the perfect article for a publication, or made an irresistible bid for a project, or that you’re the perfect fit for a writing job — and yet your services were rejected. Admit it, you’re totally bummed! And it’s the perfectly healthy way to feel. Allow yourself to feel bad about it. Treat yourself to a chocolate cupcake and a latte while nursing your wounds. But don’t stay there too long. You need to move on.

Analyze what you did wrong.

Go back to the article you submitted, your bid proposal, or your application letter and resume. What could have gone wrong? Was the article not suitable to the publication you submitted it to? Was your bid too high? Perhaps the application letter had a typo? Maybe your resume does not differentiate you enough from other freelance writers, or show off your best qualities? Or maybe you did everything correctly but they simply liked somebody else. It is possible that it was not your fault.

Brainstorm ways you could do better.

Even if your rejection was probably not your fault, note how you could do better next time. Could you do more research on the target publication? Could you offer an additional service — at no added cost — that your competitors might not be able to do? Could you improve your resume so that it reflects what you do best? Would you like to test-run your article, project bid, cover letter and resume to a trusted friend and see what they think of it? You might be surprised with what you learn.

Try and try again.

Now that you have a list of ways to improve how you get new clients or writing jobs, go and do them! Test your new knowledge just to see if the little tweaks you thought of give you better results. If you think you’re too raw to expose yourself again, then try again out of curiosity: will it work this time? Remember what Lisa Simpson used to say, “I’ll keep asking because you might say yes on the 99th time”? This is how people succeed: they try until they succeed.

Rejection is a painful, humiliating experience that’s enough to undermine any professional’s self-confidence and desire to persist. But as with any form of suffering, rejection can help you become a better writer, a better freelancer, and an all-around better person.

Related website:

Rejection Collection: The Writer’s and Artist’s On-line Source for Misery, Commiseration and Inspiration

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10 Top Tips For Creating Your Freelance Writer Online Portfolio

June 20th, 2008

freelance writer online portfolio

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How to Create a Top-Notch Freelance Writer Online Portfolio

One of the first pieces of advice I received from other work at home Moms when I told them about my venture into freelance writing was to put up an online portfolio.

I knew it made sense. Who isn’t on the web nowadays? And what better way to showcase one’s work, attract possible clients, and generate assignments than an effective website?

Although I was sold on the idea, it took me at least a week before I finally sat down and began creating my freelance writer online portfolio. I was clueless about how to begin. However, I knew that it had to be done, so I began by registering a domain. That was easy because I decided to use my own name instead of a business name (which I would have had to register with the government first).

Actually writing the content of my website took another few days. I read Internet articles about the topic. I looked at other freelance writers’ online portfolios. After a few days, I started writing the pages for my website. I scanned samples of my work and uploaded them. I signed up for a free contact form to give my readers a way to contact me without splattering my email address on the Internet.

Since then, I have revised my website almost a dozen times! Every day, I learn something new about marketing my services and I use it to tweak my website. My first draft was stiff, plain and a bit lifeless. I felt embarrassed about selling myself and worried that the copy was too hard-sell. I still make changes every day so it’s a work in progress.

If you’re planning to put up your own online portfolio, here in no particular order are some of the best advice I’ve gathered these past few weeks (of course, whether I’ve applied all of them to my own portfolio is another matter):

1. Pay for web hosting.

Resist the temptation to get a free or dirt-cheap online portfolio. The lay-outs are usually terrible and you have limited control over the content. Besides, having your own website shows that you are a professional who is serious about this freelancing business. Isn’t www.yourname.com more impessive than www.freewebsite.com/yourname?

2. Know whom you are targeting.

Identify your niche and focus on it. Something I’ve learned from Shelancers is that those who specialize can charge more than generalists can. Decide on the type of client you want to work for, or the specific assignments you want to do, and build your website around those. Your niche will also help determine which samples you will post.

3. Enable the reader to contact you from every page of the website.

The action you want from your reader is for them to hire you. To do that, the first step is for them to contact you with details of their requirements or expressing a desire to explore the possibility of working with you. Make sure you have a contact page and a link to it on every page of your website. Some freelancers include a telephone number. Think about whether you’re comfortable with this.

4. Showcase your most effective work.

Sure, one of your articles may have been a literary masterpiece, but what impact did it have for your client? What goal did you help them achieve? Was it effective aside from being a good read? Therefore, it is necessary to…

5. Explain your work.

Include a brief background about each work sample: What were its objectives? What results did it generate? Why are you proud of it? How did it help your client?

6. Follow basic principles of sound design.

Although you’re not a designer your website should still be uncluttered, easy to read, with plenty of white space, and easy to navigate. If you’re clueless about setting up your own website, then consider paying for the services of a web designer and web master.

7. Consider how you will get potential clients to your website.

Will it be a “passive” website that people find out about because you gave them the link? Or will it be the type of website that will rank high on search engines allowing potential clients to find you? The latter is better in terms of generating job leads, but will require SEO work. Ultimately, the answer is really up to you.

8. Be clear and assertive about promoting your strengths.

Your website should market your services, so don’t be shy about it! Clearly state how your clients could benefit from your services.

9. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through.

In all likelihood, you will never meet your prospective client face to face, so let them know you as a flesh-and-blood person. Post a flattering photograph of yourself (I’m guilty of not doing this; I don’t have a nice enough picture yet). Place a link to your personal blog.

10. Make sure your portfolio shows you in the best light

I almost didn’t include this because it’s common sense. Make sure your website doesn’t have typos, grammatical errors, distorted graphics, non-working links, and other elements that will portray you as unprofessional and careless.

Your online portfolio is more than your business card on the web. It is your Internet persona, your head hunter, your link to prospective clients. Make sure it works hard for you.

Related links:

Build a Killer Online Portfolio in 9 Easy Steps.

How to Create an Online Writing Portfolio in 2 Days

How to Build a Portfolio That Gets You The Job

Freelance Writer Online Portfolio: Providing Potential Clients Examples of Your Work Using the Internet

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The Cost of Starting a Freelance Writing Career

June 12th, 2008

costs of freelance writer home business

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Freelancing writing is an easy and inexpensive home business for a stay at home Mom to set up. According to an article in Yahoo!, it can also be one of the most lucrative. However, many newbies may not be aware that there are start-up costs involved in putting up a freelance writing business.

If you’re thinking of launching a career as freelance writer, here’s a list of 10 items to budget for:

1. Computer, printer, home office supplies – These are basic home office equipment which you probably already have anyway. You’ll also need paper, printer ink, folders and other basic home office supplies.

2. Business name registration – If you want to use a business name other than your own, you may have to pay to have it registered. Consult your local business bureau on the procedure and costs involved.

3. Internet connection – Broadband, please. You’ll need the Internet to market yourself, find clients, do research for your articles, do research on your competitors, network with potential clients … the list is endless.

4. Website hosting and domain registration – Every freelancer needs an online portfolio to help attract clients and show off sample work (here’s mine). Don’t use a free blogging service. It doesn’t look professional and you don’t have enough control. You could also easily lose your website. I use Bluehost and so far I’ve been happy with its reasonable prices, unlimited domains, and ease of use. Caroline Middlebrook has a free E-book on setting up a WordPress site. That’s how I learned. Or you could try Yaro Starak’s video guides. If you’re absolutely clueless about putting up your own website, it might be better to hire somebody to do it for you.

5. Various insurance plans – Depending on what your government and your spouse’s employer provide, you should consider buying: life insurance; basic or extended health insurance; and, disability insurance.

6. Professional services – You’ll need the services of an accountant so you can do your taxes properly. Unless you plan to set up a corporation, you probably won’t need a lawyer. Depending on your capabilities, consider also hiring a web designer and graphic artist.

7. Marketing tools – Aside from your website, you’ll need business cards and a letterhead at the very least. Again, if you have no artistic abilities, hire a professional graphic designer to create these for you and have them printed professionally. Don’t print them at home!

8. Freelancing networks – Consider joining networks and job boards for freelancers, such as Elance. Actually, you can bid for up to 3 jobs a month for free in Elance but to enjoy the full features, you’ll need to pay a monthly fee of $9. Not bad. I’ve just joined Shelancers, a network of female freelancers. Aside from a directory listing, Shelancers also provides various resources for its members. Although I haven’t gotten a job through Shelancers yet (I’ve only been a member for a couple of days), I have already learned so much. I especially like meeting other stay at home Moms who are trying to balance family and earning an income at home. The best thing is meeting Moms who have succeeded! Besides, I’m tired of getting advice (from men, no doubt) like, “do only one thing at a time.” Don’t they know that multi-tasking is the only way Moms get everything done?

9. Training – No matter how good you already are, you need to keep learning. There are so many ways to make money at home as a freelance writer and you will have to pay to get good advice, guidance and mentoring. Also have a good dictionary, thesaurus and other reference materials.

10. Babysitting – The day will come when working during naps and after bedtime will no longer cut it. And that’s a good thing! Invest in your sanity and productivity by hiring a babysitter, even if for just a couple of hours every day. The more work you get done, the more income you’ll make.

If you’re thinking of starting a career as a freelance writer, remember to include these items in your budget. Other types of freelancing will have similar costs. It isn’t that daunting, and having all these things covered will give you peace of mind.

Related articles:

How to prepare financially for your home business

Home office productivity for Moms of young children

Countdown to being a work at home Mom

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