I had great fun taking part in the 30 day blogging challenge this year, writing about a number of different subjects and adding 30 posts to my blog. My new challenge is to carry on taking it forward and keeping it up to date. So in the spirit of this (after a few days off to rest and recover) here is a round-up of the best posts in the last 9 days.
Freelance CV help
Writing a freelance CV is an essential part of being a freelancer. Job opportunities often require you to send one off. You should never just drag up an old CV however, you need to tailor it to the requirements of the person description. My CVs have got me a lot of interest over the years, so here’s one way to write a good one.
Write what you know
That old adage should you write what you know, brought a lot of interest from the other bloggers in the blogging challenge group. It was a different way of looking at an old subject.
How to avoid scams
Avoiding scams should be on everyone’s radar, particularly in these days, when it can be difficult to know who is contacting you and whether their intentions are good or not. Always question everything.
Things to do during lockdown
Some great ideas to get involved in while you stay safe at home, were the subjects of two blog posts during these 9 days. I have already started taking a look at my old photos and enjoying the memories.
Lost a freelance job?
Lost a freelance writing job? Here is a personal post with my take on it. There are many people losing their jobs at the moment and it is important to take time for yourself, to grieve and to come up with a new plan. Since this post was written, I have been let go completely, thanks to the lockdown. I choose to look at this positively. There will be someone else who will appreciate my skills – I just have to find them.
Finally, I looked at my transformation through the 30 days of blog posts process. I have gained confidence and enjoyed interacting with other bloggers. I would definitely do it again and I would recommend that you do, too.
I lost part of my freelance writing job recently when it was scaled back. My client hired a full-time social media person and so that part of the role was cut. What’s left is the blog posts, but that is less than half of what I was earning from this job and it doesn’t feel very secure. Here’s how I dealt with it.
When the email arrived, it was difficult. I had put my rates up at the beginning of the year, so I was expecting something, but I didn’t know what. We had a contract in place, but it only allowed for two weeks’ notice, when I normally put an invoice in every four weeks. The email said that for two weeks things would stay the same, but in practice, the new person had already started and there were changes immediately which gave me less chance to earn.
Allow yourself to feel sad
Suppressing emotions doesn’t help. Being able to grieve will help you get over it sooner. Talk to an understanding friend (preferably another freelancer), listen to sad music and begin to heal.
Decide on a plan of action
For me, the immediate question was whether to continue with the smaller role I had been offered. I decided to continue with it for now, but I can no longer count on it. My client does not pay that well. I renegotiated my blog rate, but that probably means that she may still give me another 2 weeks’ notice and finish it. We have re-signed another contract. I have worked for her a long time – since 2013.
Reach out to previous clients
I have started reaching out to previous clients again and looking for other jobs. I have joined freelance writer groups, looking for tips and leads. Unfortunately, since this happened, the world has changed and there are lots of freelancers looking to replace their income, so this may not be easy.
Add new skills
I am looking out for new courses to improve my skills. SEO Moz are offering free courses until the end of May, so definitely worth checking out. I will also pick up my Google digital garage courses and take some more of those.
Reach out to new clients
I have updated my Linked-In profile and am trying to post more on there. I have declared that I am open for business. All my social media is being updated far more regularly. I am trying online networking and I am looking forward to finding some new clients.
Look at the past with clarity
I can see that having worked with the same client for so long, that things had got stale. Also she would never use Facebook ads as she felt they had overcharged her. The new person in the office has been able to boost her posts, though, so they have done better. Perhaps having someone onsite has given her more confidence.
Take the 30 day blogging challenge
In order to get my (long neglected) website up to speed, I have taken on this challenge. It has reminded me of much I had forgotten and given me a host of new ideas. I would recommend it to anyone. Take it and see.
Have you lost your freelance writing job or client recently? How are you dealing with it? Comment below.
This post was first published in 2017 as Tips for Creating a Freelance Curriculum Vitae. It has been updated with new information.
When you begin applying for jobs as a freelancer, many organisations ask you to send a CV. This article will show you how to write an amazing CV that will help you to get the job.
A good CV will show a potential client your previous experience and where it ties in with the skills that they are looking for. It will show your skills and abilities and more importantly your portfolio of work experience. It will help you get the job. Each CV is individual to each person, but there are some things that should always be there.
Personal details – name, address, email, phone number where you can be contacted, and social media handles including Linked-In. You want to be contactable and these details need to be easy to find. It is a good idea to have separate social media accounts for private and business use.
This CV example is a template from my word processor. You may find similar ones on the one that you use. I used this template to write mine.
The profile or personal statement is a summary of the skills you have learned from the work that you are doing. This should explain to the client the kind of work that you have been doing. It is possible to adjust your statement according to the work that you are applying for, just highlight the different skills according to the job description.
“Professional, freelance copywriter, who works with creativity and integrity, based in – shire, UK. She has experience creating content for a number of companies, to communicate clearly and effectively through blog posts, web articles, mobile web content and SEO articles, sales letters, landing pages, newsletters and social media, including Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. She has written regular blog posts on health and mental health stories, curates news stories and promotes new products and special offers. She is able to use a content management system to update product descriptions and add new products and images.”
“John Smith is a freelance copywriter, based in – shire, UK. He has been working as a freelance since 2010, and during that time, he has worked with a number of companies, to communicate clearly and effectively through blog posts, articles, web content, mobile web content, SEO articles and content, sales letters, landing pages, newsletters and social media including Twitter and Facebook posts.
John has written on a wide range of topics including marble and granite products, car mats, product descriptions, sports clothing, sports massage, serviced office space, travel, photography, the English language, Jane Austen and the Northern Lights.
John has been managing a social media account, for one of his clients, for the past 3 years. In the first two years, he increased their Twitter followers from around 500 to 2500, through organic posts and conversations. John writes regular blog posts on medical studies, curates news stories and promotes new products and special offers. John has also used the content management system to update product descriptions and add new products and photos.”
The first example does not use names at all, just a description,the second example uses a name but in the third person. It is a matter of choice which you prefer. The first example has got me 3 or 4 interviews so far.
Something that I have introduced into my curriculum vitae is a list of key skills. These can change according to the job that you are looking at and the person description. More desirable skills for the role should be near the top.
Next comes the list of freelance work that you have undertaken. There should be a headline summarising the work, followed by a brief summary and a link to the work if there is one. Work should be in chronological order, beginning with the most recent. If there is anything utterly irrelevant then discard it. I am unusual in that I have a paid part-time job as well as working freelance, but I tend to include it as it shows I can work as part of a team as well as independently.
My CV then includes my education. This can include relevant courses or certificates that you have taken. You certainly don’t need to list out every single exam you have ever taken, but it is worth putting in the top qualification that you have got, again, particularly if it is relevant.
It is always worth asking former clients for testimonials and including them on a CV can look great. If clients have left a testimonial on a website for you, you can link to it. Always attribute quotes and I like to leave them more or less as they are. If there were a glaring error, I would ask permission to change it.
You should include a couple of references on your CV as you would on an application form. Check with the people you put down first to check that it is ok to offer their details. If you do not want them contacted before an interview, then say so.
The final thing is to keep your curriculum vitae to only 2 sides of A4 and to save it as a PDF. That way a potential client is not wading through reams and reams of writing. It is why it is important to choose the most relevant pieces of work to include in a CV. It is also why it is possible to adjust your curriculum vitae to reflect the work that you are applying for.
What do you include in your CV? Has it got you work? How often do you update it? Leave a comment below.
I came across a job website tonight and read their information on becoming a freelancer. I was shocked to see that they advocated taking a first job and doing the work for free. I am a firm believer that at no point should a freelancer ever work for free. Nor do I believe that they should sell their skills cheaply.
When you are just starting out, it is tempting to take any offer of work that is going, so that you can add to your portfolio and have something to show other prospective clients, but I still think that you should expect to charge for your work.
There is a process of thought that suggests that early-stage freelancers should take work in order to prove themselves. They should take low-paying or free work until they can work themselves up to a more reasonable level of compensation. There are several reasons why this is unacceptable:
Freelancers have to pay bills like everyone else
Taking low-paying work can make you feel as though it is all you are good for
You have to have a certain level of competency to even consider going freelance. Why should you sell it cheaply?
I’m a start-up, will you work for free?
Then there are the people who advertise jobs who usually suggest that as they are a start-up, they cannot currently afford to pay someone to do the work. They usually dangle the offer of more, paid work down the line. But there are some problems with that:
If they can’t afford to pay someone, then why are they starting up a business? Surely if they have no money for it, it will be doomed to fail.
The promised paid-for work rarely materialises or when it does, the pay is not worth the effort
The time that you spend working on something for free, is time that you can never get back.
Does that make it more valuable?
The time that you have offered for free, could be used to market yourself to find a paying customer
Will the product that you have created for free be used to bring this client money?
Then you deserve some compensation for it.
When you start up as a freelancer, it is advisable to work out how many billable hours you can find for your job. That is, the amount of time that you have available to work for clients. Once you have that number, you can use it to do a number of things.
You will need to set aside some time to market your business. This includes writing for your own website, creating products for your own website and running your own social media (without getting sidetracked on Facebook).
You will need some time to do the administration of your business – invoicing and chasing payments.
You will need time for clients.
If you give up some of your time for free, then you are taking some time away from your business. Even if you are a brand new freelancer, you have chosen this path because you believe that you are good at what you do and that you can bring some skills to the table. Your skills deserve a decent reward.
Don’t sell yourself short.
Have you ever worked for free? If so, then do comment below. Did more work materialise? Do you agree with me that freelancers should not work for free? Please comment below.
Finding out the original meaning and origin or etymology of common words is fascinating if you enjoy playing around with language. The language we know as English has developed and evolved over centuries, taking into account the languages and words of immigrants and conquerors until it became the language it is today. It is still evolving and new words are added to the dictionary every year.
Origin of ‘Business’
The word ‘business’ is thought to have originated from the Old English word bisignes, from Northumbria. The original meanings of the word included anxiety or care as well as occupation. From this word was also bisig, which was the adjective: anxious, careful, occupied, busy and diligent. The word became busy-ness or busyness in the mid-14th century, losing two of the meanings (anxiety, care) and retaining ‘being much occupied’. Johnson’s dictionary also includes busiless, which carries the meaning: at leisure, being without business.
The word being used for a person’s livelihood or occupation was first written in the late 14th century (bisig) as a noun with the sense of occupation, employment. It was also used as something ‘undertaken as a sense of duty’. In the 17th century, the word could also be used to describe sexual intercourse. In 1727, the word is first found to mean ‘commercial engagements or trade’.
Origin of ‘Write’
From the Old English writan which had the sense of ‘to score (mark), outline or draw the figure of’. Similar words were also found in Old Saxon (writan – to tear, scratch, write), Old Norse (rita – scratch, outline, write) and the Old High German (rizan – to tear, scratch, write).
Most of the European languages had their word for ‘write’ originally mean ‘scratch, carve, cut’, most likely as this was the most common form of writing at the time.
Origin of ‘Freelance’
The first written example of ‘freelance’ was written by Sir Walter Scott in his novel, Ivanhoe (1819). A feudal lord refers to the army that he has assembled as ‘free lances’ – literally free weapons. The army are at the disposal of his lord, but they are refused. The word became popular and found other meanings, including a politician who had no affiliation with a particular political party or to refer to a person who worked on their own terms without long term commitment to a single employer.Our current noun, ‘freelancer’ is quite a late addition, so freelance was used as noun and verb. Throughout medieval history, the existence of free lances was well-documented. Hired soldiers were common for major military campaigns between the 12-14th centuries. At the time, however, rather than being referred to as ‘free lances’, such soldiers were known as ‘stipendaries’ (they were given a stipend for their work) or mercenaries.
Which words would you like to know the origin of? Comment below.
Blog post visitors are tricky beasts! We are told that we have a very short time in which to grab their attention and persuade them to stay on the blog. How can you ensure that your blog visitors might be tempted to stay? When you are a freelancer, it can be even more important – you rely on your blog to showcase your talents and your business.
Aim the subject towards your readership. It’s no good blogging about upholstery if your audience is here to learn about freelancing. Freelancer, make the subject relevant to your intended audience and even more important, use relevant images too.
Pick your images for the impact that they will make, as well as their relevance to the blog post. I look for either bright colourful images that are not too distant or too fuzzy for the size that I need them, or distinctive black and white images can work well too. Either way, the subject needs to be clear and the background works with the picture rather than against it. I always think that the pictures you choose are individual to you and really enhance your post.
Break your blog post into smaller chunks or paragraphs. When you change the subject, change the paragraph. Keep the paragraphs short and don’t use too many connectives – better to have short clear sentences. You can also divide your blog post up, using subheadings which help your reader to have a clearer idea of what the blog post is about.
Don’t worry too much about a ‘tidy’ blog post at the point of first draft. It is more important to get your thoughts and feelings on the page and shape the post. Once you have said what you want to say, then you can go back over it and polish it.
How long should your blog post be?
Blog posts are tending towards the longer end at the moment: lengths of 1,000 words or more are not uncommon. This is due to the super power of a long blog post to keep you on the page for longer (which is a Good Thing according to Google). This is wonderful for the more wordy among us, but I’ve always found that my blog posts find their own length – they just seem right when they’re done.
By the way, if you can tie blog posts together and do a series, so much the better. Hopefully you can keep bringing back your visitors for more.
Finding your voice
The most interesting blog posts for me are ones where you can hear the author’s voice. For example, I can usually hear Sarah Arrow’s voice reading her blog posts and anyone who knows her would probably do the same. My voice is not so well known, but when I use anecdotes from my life, I am at my most real. I would also say that this can be quite scary to do. Don’t be afraid to change names and make people unrecognisable to themselves, but a little storytelling can help a blog to change from a so-so blog to a post that people will remember and may come back to read again.
Finally, find time to post! You are a fine one to talk, I hear you say to me and you are right. I have been guilty of not finding time to post to my blog. I am making up for it with 30 days of blog penance and I am enjoying it – so far. Finding a rhythm and time to post ensures that when that client comes across your blog, it doesn’t look like a ghost town. You want to be present in your blog and that can only happen when you post.
So enjoy your time on the blogging challenge and keep going!
What tips do you have for making your blog readable? Please share in the comments below.
Actually, there is such a thing as a free lunch! My church put on a free lunch on the first Saturday of every month. They offer soup, fresh crusty bread and cakes, and it is very popular. Some of the homeless people in the town are waiting eagerly outside, at 12 pm, ready to come and eat and stay until the end, at 2. I have known people who are struggling, who are down on their luck, or just not making ends meet that month, come and enjoy a free hot meal. Not even a collection is taken – it is completely free.
However, when you are setting out as a writer, where do you find opportunities to write, if not for free? There are job ads everywhere, offering internships, voluntary positions, or even, the old chestnut, more paid work will be along soon! How do you know whether this is a position that will give you good experience and bring along better things, or whether you are just being taken advantage of? Here are three opportunities, where you might consider offering your services for free, and three where you would be well-advised to stay clear.
A local charity is looking for someone to help with writing some articles for the magazine. It is a subject that you know something about, and you would like to write more about. Yes – especially if you are looking for some clips for a portfolio. This kind of thing is fine, especially for smaller, local charities. The only time I would be hesitant, would be if this were for a charity that could afford to pay. Also, make it clear that it would take second place to paid work, and limit how much you produce for them.
A friend is starting up a business and wants to set up a website. They are looking for help to put content together. You agree to write some pages for them, if you can link to their website on your portfolio. Yes – but with provisos! Not everyone chooses to work with friends – it can be a fast way to lose a friendship! Decide on the scope of the work before you start – how many articles, and know how long it is going to take you. Again, free work should only be done after paid work is done.
You decide to join an article-writing website. The article titles are chosen by you, so you can write about what you want, and the website puts advertising on your articles. You can collect the money for the advertising, once it reaches a certain amount. Your articles are passed by an editor before being published. Again – a qualified yes! This is something that I did, when just starting out. I liked the idea that the article had to be passed by an editor, so that meant it had to pass certain style guides. It taught me how to write a headline and how to write for the web. I made a little money out of it – but don’t expect to get seriously rich from this kind of set up! Also do some research before joining such a website – some are better regarded than others. It’s best to check out reviews first.
Don’t Touch it!
A company posts on a job board, looking for writers. They suggest that the opportunity will be great exposure and experience for a writer – but they can’t afford to pay yet. They say that there may be payment somewhere down the line… no! The problem is, that you don’t know the person and you have no idea about their circumstances. They may be telling the truth, but they may not. Stay clear or be taken advantage of!
You are emailed by a person you don’t know, out of the blue. They offer minimal compensation, but ask for a free trial of your writing to check whether you are up to the right standard. Not recommended! If they receive enough writers willing to do a free trial – will they need to pay at all? They may have emailed you, but you have no guarantee that this work is going to be worth your while. I have occasionally sent over a trial piece – but on the understanding that if they want to use it, I want to be paid for it!
You offer an article to a publication that pay for print and online pieces. Their reply tells you that they won’t be paying you because your piece will published as a blog post. You are a new writer, looking for clips – what do you do? This happened to an experienced freelancer who pulled the piece rather than give this publication free work. They would not have offered the work if they had thought that they would not be paid. This feels like a scam – and you should value your work too much to be taken in by it. If something doesn’t feel right – then walk away. There will be other opportunities.
Sarah Arrow of Sark -Media has agreed to be my next interviewee. I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did.
Name: Sarah Arrow
Writer Alias (if you are willing to let us know)
I have several, including Sarah Stanton, Danielle Stanton, Danielle Field and few others that I’d rather not mention.
How long have you been a writer?
Erm, I’m not sure. I’m not sure that I even like writing at times! However I just can’t seem to leave it alone long enough to allow something else to take over! Rough idea of where you live: I live in Essex approximately 12 miles from London. Which is close enough to love the City, but far enough away to breathe. My house is on a golf course and in the summer I write in the garden, watching the golfers play. The 8th hole is at the bottom of my garden, so the last 10 feet of it is a no-go zone when they play. Sometimes I sneak to the fence and throw a ball back onto the green when they’re not looking.
Are your clients local, global or a mix?
My clients are a mix of global and local. The power of the internet means we can do business anywhere that speaks English.
1. What is the first piece of writing that you remember doing?
My first piece (that I can recall) was an article on Henry VIII. I grew up in East London which is rich in history from the Tudor period. Roads are named after his first two wives and many of the landmarks are related. I found it compelling, yet gruesome to be a Queen in those times and I was thankful to be born now. I still have a fondness for Katherine of Aragon, and I often wonder how England would have looked if she’d have had a son. Did you know she was Regent of the country for a while and she martialled an army to repel Scottish forces? She won.
2. What made you realise that you wanted to write for a living?
It crept up on me! One day I was on maternity leave and playing with the children, the next day I was a blogger! I write prolifically as I’ve found when you do something more you get better at it.
3. How did you get your first client?
My first client came from a blog post and that fascinated me, I wanted to pick apart why that post worked, why the person contacted me to work with them… The rest they say is history.
4. What do you wish that you had written?
Where do I start! Harry Potter (for the money), I wished that I’d written that. I love how children worldwide started to read again with Harry Potter, proving that they don’t need dumbed down writing, but books that make them feel, and understand those feelings. I’d also loved to have written Philippa Gregory’s books, she writes very readable historical fiction. There are so many wonderful women writers, and I’m going to read Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel next and by the end of it I’m sure I’ll wish that I’d written that as well!If it was a non-fiction book, then Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. It’s the book I read the most, I have it on audio and I pick it up at least once a day. I have a handbag edition, a car edition and an under-the-bed edition (for when I lack motivation). To write this book, I’d have had to live a full life and then share my wisdom, and that’s part of the reason I love it so much.
5. What is the one tip that you would give aspiring writers?
To keep writing. The words are no good if they’re in your head. So write them down, type them.. Just get them out of your head and onto the page. Don’t be scared to experiment, don’t think you can’t self-publish as that’s not real writing (look at E.L James she did it and now lives in the centre of London in a fab home), you can do anything you want to do, but if you keep the words locked up… No one will ever know your brilliance.
6. What is your current project?
Aside from my 30 day blogging challenge, I’m writing an alternate history book about a famous English battle. I’ve mapped the book out, the characters and the basic plot and I’ll soon be ready to start filling the pages!
You can find Sarah at her blog, Sark e-Media where she is currently running a 30 day blogging challenge.
Thank you, Sarah for agreeing to be on my blog. There will be more author/freelance interviews soon so keep checking this page for more details.
Subscribe to the newsletter for up-to-date information on this blog.
If you would like to take part as an author/freelance interviewee then email me at sarahthecreativewriter[at]gmail.com
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
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.
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
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.