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Four More Qualities of Successful Freelance Writers

Posted on : 18-09-2015 | By : admin | In : Enjoying Writing, Freelance Writing, Help with Writing, Uncategorized

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Some people just find writing hard work. The physical effort of putting pen to paper or fingers to keypad just does not do it for them. They are unsure that what they are doing is correct and they find the very act of writing a chore. Other writers love it. They enjoy the physical act of writing, whether it’s on a computer or with a favourite pen and paper. They love the feeling of the words flowing out from the brain and onto the page.

By David Turnbull on Flickr CC

By David Turnbull on Flickr CC

Does that mean it’s always easy? No. Writers’ block is very real and it can sometimes be difficult to find just the right word for the sentence, or to work out exactly what it is that you want to say next, but the enjoyment of the physical act of writing just doesn’t go away, no matter how many words you write. If this is you, then you have the potential to be a freelance writer. Here are some more qualities that you will need:

  1. You enjoy learning about new and different things

If you want to write for a living and get paid for it, then you learn to write about many different things. Sometimes Writing Gurus suggest that the best way to get paid is to find a niche and become an expert writer in that niche. If in a previous life, you were an accountant or an insurance agent, then you might well have a niche if you can blog about your knowledge in an accessible way. Most of us do not have that background, however, so we need to discover what we enjoy writing about, and most importantly, what we can write well about. The ability to discover new, reliable sources as knowledge for what you have been asked to write is a very important part of being freelance writers. A future niche may grow out of that work, if you are engaged to write a lot of material in that area.

  1. You have confidence in Your Writing

Writing confidently is part of writing well. Knowing what you want to say and making sure that it reads well is important to a freelance writer. Offering your work through an editor can help you gain confidence in your writing. It is important that you let others read your work, as they can spot errors that you might not.

  1. You can Proofread Your Writing

On the subject of errors, it is important that you can spot simple grammatical and spelling errors. Spellcheck is a great tool and even those freelance writers who are confident in their writing, use it, but sometimes it will miss a homophone, or a word that sounds the same, but is spelled differently and has a different meaning.

  1. You can Take Criticism

Most freelance writers who have had any clients have not always produced every piece of work perfectly. Quite often a piece of work will be returned with requests for revisions. It’s how you take it which is important. Your client knows what they want, and if you are lucky, they will ask for it. It’s your job to write what they want so no matter whether you disagree with them or not, you should write to their specifications. Always be professional and polite because these clients are paying you to do a job. Always turn in the best work that you can do.

 

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Starting out as a Copywriter

Posted on : 31-03-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog, Help with Writing

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Photo on Flickr by itselea

It seems such an easy job that the world and his wife could do it with one hand tied behind their back (not their writing hand, obviously) – copywriting!

How can you become a copywriter? If you have always wanted to have a go, then here are some of the steps that have got me here today.

Read. Yes, I know you want to write, but every good writer is also a reader. Find out all you can on the subject and keep reading. There is some really great information out there and not all of it is paid for. If you want to learn to write, then keep reading.

Write. Now, we’re getting to it – you have to write. What can you write about? The easiest way to start is to begin with a free blog. Pick a subject that you are reasonably knowledgeable about and set up a blog through Blogger or WordPress. If it is just for you, then it doesn’t matter too much about a domain name, but if you want to make money with it later, then you will have to buy a relevant domain name at some point. These free blogs offer some great themes which you can customise to your own design. You can use them to upload photos and videos too.

Bookmark some websites that you think are really helpful and keep going back to them. There are places that you can publish for free like Suite101 and Hubpages. These can be useful to form the basis of an online portfolio. A portfolio is a body of work that you can show a potential employer, and it is important to build up clips or articles so that you can prove that you can write. Don’t expect to make a lot of money with these two websites but they are great for teaching you the basics of Search Engine Optimisation or SEO.

You might like to read some writing magazines. These are really helpful with lots of ideas for how to get started in writing. One of the first ways they suggest is by writing a readers’ letter to those very magazines! Look for those that are available in your country. Some are available online.

The best way to get confident in your writing is to join a local writing class. Some are run from libraries, and some from colleges, but they are a great way to meet other writers and get some feedback on your writing. Your tutor will provide you with subjects to write on and if it is a general class, you will get to try out lots of different writing. Find out what kinds of writing you really enjoy and pursue it.

As your confidence grows, so might your wish to earn some money from this new-found skill. You can find job boards, search Google for jobs or approach potential employers directly. This all depends on the kind of writing that you want to be doing. Always be comfortable with the rate you are being paid – don’t accept work for free. You can try reviews for your local press or write letters to your favourite magazines. Start small, keep going and keep learning.

Photo Link: Photo on Flickr by itselea

 

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Defining the Words You Use 2

Posted on : 16-02-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog, Help with Writing

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Photo on Flickr by akqp 2

Words are the tools of a writer’s trade. It can sometimes be helpful to know more about your trade in order to improve your work.

CLAUSE – a group of words which make sense and contain both a SUBJECT and a VERB. A simple sentence is a CLAUSE, but a more complex sentence may contain more than one CLAUSE.

E.g. The dog ran.

This is a CLAUSE. It can stand on its own without further explanation, so it can also be called an INDEPENDENT CLAUSE.

If we make the sentence longer:

The dog ran because Billy scared it.

The second part of the sentence is known as a DEPENDENT CLAUSE because it could not stand on its own and be understood.

‘because Billy scared it’ – does not make sense.

However sentences are not always that simple or they would be boring. We prefer longer, more descriptive sentences to enable us to keep the reader’s flow going. Short jerky sentences can break up the text too much.

To enable the sentence to be more descriptive, we can use ADJECTIVE CLAUSES or ADVERB CLAUSES.

An ADJECTIVE CLAUSE gives us more information about the SUBJECT in the sentence. Remember, the SUBJECT is the NOUN that the sentence is about.

James is a great magician and he can make his assistant disappear.

This sentence tells you more about James, but it reads in a rather stilted way.

Try this:

James, who is a great magician, can make his assistant disappear.

The words in bold italics have been changed so that they modify the noun they describe in a neater way. The sentence still maintains its sense, but it reads so much better.

This ADJECTIVE CLAUSE will not stand on its own – it only makes sense in the context of the sentence. It is a CLAUSE rather than a PHRASE because it still contains a NOUN and VERB.

Usually an ADJECTIVE CLAUSE will start with one of three RELATIVE PRONOUNS:

WHO – always refers to people

WHICH – always refers to objects

THAT – can refer to people or objects

Find the ADJECTIVE CLAUSES in these sentences:

The girl slid down the hill and tore her dress.

The girl, who tore her dress, had to go home and tell her mother.

The girl’s mother, who had to sew the hole in the dress, was very cross.

Answers

The girl slid down the hill and tore her dress. (No ADJECTIVE CLAUSE)

The girl, who tore her dress, had to go home and tell her mother. (ADJECTIVE CLAUSE)

The girl’s mother, who had to sew the hole in the dress, was very cross. (ADJECTIVE CLAUSE)

Punctuation

When do you use commas in ADJECTIVE CLAUSES?

You do not use a COMMA when THAT is used in a sentence:

E.g. The race that was abandoned was rescheduled for Thursday.

If the ADJECTIVE CLAUSE is essential to the sentence then you do not need a COMMA.

E.g. Children who have mud on their legs will need a shower.

Balls which have gone soft will be put in the bin.

Not all balls are to be put in the bin – just those that have gone soft. Equally not all children require a shower – just those with mud on their legs.

If the ADJECTIVE CLAUSE is not essential to the meaning of the sentence, then use a COMMA:

The dogs, who had been washed and brushed, were going to a pet show.

The boys, who couldn’t stop laughing, were sent to detention.

Photo Credit: Photo on Flickr by akqp

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How to Define the Words You Use

Posted on : 10-02-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog, Help with Writing

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Photo on Flickr by Dr Stephen Dann

Each word that you use as a writer has a function. They all have a part to play in communicating your message through your writing. Here are some of the names of words that writers use every day and their function in a sentence.

NOUN – a name – dog, cat, person, girl, boy

PROPER NOUN – someone’s actual name: Jane, Susan, Jack, Frank

VERB – describes an action – run, jump, walk, ride, write, curtsey

Also includes words such as ‘is’, ‘was’ and ‘are’

ADJECTIVE – describes a noun. Includes colours.

E.g. small table, black sideboard, little girl, tall woman

ADVERB – describes a verb. Tells you how something is done.

E.g. He ran quickly. She walked slowly.

SENTENCE – a group of words which together make sense. It contains both a SUBJECT and a VERB.

The horse jumped the hedge.

SUBJECT: horse

VERB: jumped

SUBJECT – the main thing that the SENTENCE is about. It is usually a NOUN or a PROPER NOUN.

E.g. The dog ran over the hill.

The dog is the SUB JECT because it was doing the running.

Susan poured the flour into a mixing bowl.

Susan is the SUBJECT.

OBJECT – is involved in the sentence but is usually having something happen or done to it. So in the above examples, both ‘hill’ and ‘mixing bowl’ are OBJECTS.

PHRASE – a group of words that do make sense (are not just random words) but do not contain both a SUBJECT and a VERB.

Photo Credit: Photo on Flickr by Dr. Stephen Dann

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Using Apostrophes – its and it’s Part 3

Posted on : 02-02-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog, Help with Writing

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Photo on Flickr by mag3737

In the first post on Apostrophes, we looked at using them with plurals and singular nouns to show possession. The second post looked at using apostrophes with contractions. This post will examine a simple little word, yet the apostrophe is often used wrongly in it.

Its or it’s?

Do you know which is which?

In this case, the answer is simple – disregard the possession rule. So if you have a sentence:

The dog lolled out its tongue.

This is correct. You do not need to put an apostrophe in because you do not need the apostrophe to show possession of ‘it’.

However:

I love going to Spain. It’s a great place to have a holiday – lots of swimming pools and sunshine.

In the case of this sentence, ‘it’s’ is actually a shortened form of ‘it is’ – a contraction. So you will need the apostrophe.

In short when deciding whether to use ‘its’ or ‘it’s’, you need to know whether the word is showing possession or if it is a contraction. Only use the apostrophe if a letter is missing.

Try these out just for good measure. Is the apostrophe right or wrong?

The horse was lame in one of its hind hooves.

It’s OK you don’t need to explain it to me.

The house was old and ramshackle: it’s whole outward appearance was one of neglect.

Its dangerous to go water-skiing when the red flags are out.

Did you get it right?

The horse was lame in one of its hind hooves. – CORRECT

It’s OK you don’t need to explain it to me. – CORRECT

The house was old and ramshackle: it’s whole outward appearance was one of neglect.  WRONG – NO MISSING LETTER.

Its dangerous to go water-skiing when the red flags are out.  WRONG – ‘ITS’ IN THIS CASE IS SHORT FOR ‘IT IS’ SO IT SHOULD BE ‘IT’S’

Using apostrophes can be easy once you know how. This concludes this series of posts on apostrophes.

Photo Credit: Photo on Flickr by mag3737

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Copyright

Posted on : 31-01-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog, Help with Writing

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Photo on Flickr by jcarlosn

Copyright laws can be strange and complex – there have been a few famous authors taken to court accused of stealing their story from another book – but the point made is serious. You can be sued for wrongfully using another person’s work.

Copyright is traditionally the way that authors can protect their own original work. It enables them to protect their writing from plagiarism which is defined as the work being used by other people who claim it as their own. This is particularly important on the internet, because it can be so easy to take someone else’s work by cutting and pasting it on your own website. This applies equally to graphics, photos and any other work that someone has created. Once you have created a piece of work then it is protected by law and another person cannot take it for their own use.

How do you ensure that the work you are using is legally unique?

You can write it yourself. If you take a subject and put it in your own words, then you own the copyright on that work and can do what you choose with it. Of course then you have to look out for someone else stealing it…

When you hire someone else to do the work, how do you know whether the work is truly written by them or if they have just copied and pasted it from another website? There is some free software out there to help you check out the writing, but you can also do a quick check yourself by searching for websites using your preferred keywords. The work is likely to come up on the first few pages if it has been taken.

You cannot copyright ideas – those are available for anyone to use. This can be difficult when two writers submit the same idea to a magazine. Sometimes that can be why they are rejected. The copyright is in the way that you write it using your own voice and style. Two people will write an article using the same title in two completely different ways.

Using photos and images is also subject to copyright. There are plenty of free sites out there. You can search Google images, looking for pictures that are available for commercial re-use if you use the advanced search. When you are writing for a commercial website, then you may be best advised to buy the right to use a photo from a stock photograph website. This gives you the widest possible choice so that you can find the photo you are looking for.

Even if you believe an image is free to use, you should always check that there are no limitations on how it can be used and it is polite, where possible, to let the owner of the picture know that you have used it and include a link for them to check it out.

If you are in the business of regularly providing content such as a website owner, a blog writer or email newsletters, do be careful that what you write is 100% unique content. That way you can be sure that you will not have a lawsuit landing on your doormat.

Photo Credit: Photo on Flickr by jcarlosn

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A Guide to Using Apostrophes Correctly Part 2

Posted on : 27-01-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog, Help with Writing

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Photo on Flickr by mag3737

In the last article, we talked about apostrophes and the ways that they could alter meaning. To read back what was said, click on the article title: A Guide to Using Apostrophes Correctly Part 1.

The other main way that apostrophes are used is when two words are contracted to form a new word.

Don’t

Won’t

Can’t

These are just some of the words that are in use. Their full forms are as follows:

Don’t = do not

Won’t = will not

Can’t = can not which is also sometimes written as one word – cannot

Here are some of the more unusual ones:

Could’ve

Should’ve

Would’ve

These should be

Could’ve = could have

Should’ve =should have

Would’ve = would have

Unfortunately the contractions sound like ‘of’ and you see a lot of younger students (and older people as well) writing ‘should of’ instead of ‘should’ve’. This is a really common mistake and one to watch out for in your own writing.

The apostrophe in this case is there to indicate that there are missing letters. It therefore is placed where the missing letters would be in the word.

For example: when writing ‘don’t’ the apostrophe replaces the ‘o’ of ‘do not’. This helps you to decide where to put the apostrophe.

As long as you know where the letters have been omitted then you will always find it easy to know where to place the apostrophe.

Photo Credit : Photo on Flickr by Mag3737

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Style Guide – A Guide to Using Apostrophes Correctly (Part 1)

Posted on : 19-01-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog, Help with Writing

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Photo on Flickr by mag3737

I saw a question on a writers’ forum the other day. It read:

‘Is it time to abolish apostrophes completely?’

I can understand the writer’s frustration. Apostrophes are one piece of punctuation that it is very easy to get wrong – as demonstrated regularly on pub notices round where I live. Yet in the opening three sentences, I have used two apostrophes and used them perfectly correctly. So it is possible to learn how to use apostrophes. Here is a guide of when to use apostrophes and how to use them correctly.

E.g.         Jack’s computer

Jane’s bag

Both these objects belong to the person mentioned and so we use an apostrophe before we add an ‘s’.

However, sometimes the person’s name already ends in ‘s’ or more than one:

The bag belongs to Jess.

In this case, it is more usual to drop the extra ‘s’. Some writers may include it as a force of habit.

Jess’ bag (but it is still said, ‘Jesses bag’)

Easy enough when dealing with someone’s name but what if it is an animal, an object or even a pronoun?

The lion’s roar was loud.

The mouse’s squeak was quiet.

What if there can be confusion over whether the word is singular (one) or plural (more than one).

E.g.         The girls’ shrieks followed them on the roller coaster.

Here there is more than one girl. The word is plural, so the apostrophe goes on the outside of the word.

What about this?

The girl’s shrieks followed her on the roller coaster.

There is only one girl, so there is an apostrophe and an ‘s’. The use of the word ‘her’ rather than ‘them’ later on in the sentence confirms that there is only one girl rather than two or more.

You know that you might have got an apostrophe wrong if the sentence doesn’t quite seem to make sense. Are these right or wrong?

The boy’s shouts echoed through the woods as they tramped home.

The rabbits’ burrows were dotted all over the hillside.

The girl’s tobaggan overturned, throwing them into the snow.

The horse’s field provided plenty of fresh grass for him.

The ant’s crumbs seemed too big for them to carry.

How did you do?

The answers were: wrong, right, wrong, right, wrong. In every case there was another word in the sentence which confirmed whether the initial word was singular or plural.

The boys’ shouts echoed through the woods as they tramped home.

The rabbits’ burrows were dotted all over the hillside.

The girls’ tobaggan overturned, throwing them into the snow.

The horse’s field provided plenty of fresh grass for him.

The ants’ crumbs seemed too big for them to carry.

So if you are unsure where to place your apostrophe, then look for other words in the sentence which may help you to decide. Alternatively, decide which would make more sense.

Photo Credit: Photo on Flickr by Mag3737

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A Quick Style Guide

Posted on : 22-07-2010 | By : admin | In : Blog, Help with Writing

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When you are producing your piece of writing for a client, it is best to be consistent with grammar and spellings, particularly when using headings. Here are some of the most common things to look out for.

Headings

The beginnings of words in a heading should be capitalised unless they are small words such as ‘and’, ‘is’ or ‘of’. It is sometimes helpful to bold the heading to make it stand out from the rest of the text. Make sure that if you decide to do this, that all the headings are capitalised and in bold.

The Main Body of the Text

Start with your opening paragraph which sums up what the article will be about. Keep it short and succinct. It does not need a sub-heading over it – in fact your first sub-heading should be at least one paragraph in.

If you are writing for the web, then keep paragraphs short and to the point. There should be two to three paragraphs underneath each heading and of course they should be relevant!

Consistency, Checking and Counting Words

Photo by Martin Hagberg and used under Creative Commons licence

 

When you are writing your first draft, then just get the ideas down and let them flow. Write until you have finished, Then go back over it and read through. Check for spelling errors (be aware of the differences between American and UK spelling and use one consistently throughout). Also keep an eye out for grammatical problems and check out the word count.

Clients are usually very definite about the amount of words used in a piece of writing, but it is important to write in a focused way on the topic. Beware of fluff or filler. Take out any words that are unnecessary, read your work aloud to check for flow and ensure that your sentences are short and to the point rather than long and wordy. This makes them much easier to read.

End your writing with a strong point or call to action. Revise it again and again until you are happy with it.

Finally when you think your work is done, put it away for at least 24 hours before getting it out and reading it again. The distance is important: it allows you to view your work with fresh eyes and improve it.

Consistency and care is the key to producing strong work which you can be proud of and which is more likely to please your client and bring in more work commissions for you.

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