Tag Archives: freelancing

The Elusive CV – How to Get Credits on Your Writing Resume

When I wanted to get into writing professionally, it was instantly obvious that I had nothing to show to any potential publishers or clients.  Like most people who had found writing to be their passion, I had spent much of my life writing but had very little to show for it.  Nobody was going to care that my poetry had made it into a high school magazine back in the day or that I had filled quite a few notebooks with rhymes and short stories.

I read quite a few books on the subject, but I didn’t find a whole lot that helped.  I plunged in headfirst and did the best I could, and I managed to start building up a pretty decent CV.  There are still many more things I want to add to it, but considering that my freelancing business currently keeps me glued to my desk, I would say it’s doing the job.

Make a Portfolio:  Even if you don’t have any credits, you can still show off your writing skills.  Put together a portfolio that represents your best pieces in all genres you have worked in.  This gives a potential client or publisher an example of your abilities even if nobody else has given you a chance before.

Start Local:  Local businesses often need a little bit of help with brochure copy, web content, or blog material.  Call them up, ask for the office manager, and tell them what you can do.  It’s a great opportunity to get a little bit of experience under your belt, as well as a reference to throw on your resume.

Use Your Connections:  Do you know someone who runs their own business?  Have you noticed that your buddy’s website is consistently filled with typos?  Offer your services!  You can work out payments or maybe barter for their services, or even just do some work for free in exchange for using them on your resume.  (Please, please don’t ask your friend if you can use him as a reference without doing any work.  I know people lie on resumes all the time, but that doesn’t make it right.)

Freelancing Websites:  The first time I tried eLance (now Upwork), I was completely discouraged.  It seemed impossible to land jobs, and most of the listings I saw offered very little money.  I gave up and didn’t think about it for a few years.  When I came back, I had more motivation since I had quit my job and gone back to school.  I started out with several jobs that paid literally next to nothing ($5 or $10).  Don’t overlook these opportunities, because they show up on your job history on your profile.  They prove that someone gave you a shot and that you did well!  Soon enough, I was landing much bigger jobs and finding plenty of work.  Many people put down these websites, claiming that they are a complete ripoff for freelancers.  I have acquired several jobs that paid $1,000 and up, so I tend to disagree.

Start-Up Magazines:  If you’re looking for some publishing credits, start submitting to smaller, start-up literary magazines.  These are usually based online, require no reading fee, and have less competition for publication.  While they might not hold as much weight as some of the larger mags, they’re a great place to start.

Get Outside Your Comfort Zone:  Just because you have never done something before doesn’t mean you can’t.  When I got my first offer for a ghostwriting gig, I was terrified.  I had never done anything like that before, and now I had committed to writing an entire book!  I dove in and did the best I could.  My client was very happy with the work, and ghostwriting is now the vast majority of my freelance work.  If someone offers you a job, go for it!

Take every opportunity you can to build up your resume.  It’s going to take some time and lots of calling and emailing and submitting, but it will happen.

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I’m not Just Pale, I’m a Ghostwriter

At one point, I never thought ghostwriting would be part of my freelancing repertoire.  My first ghosting gig was one of those oh-crap-I-need-a-job moments.  We all get there in the freelancing business every now and then.  I had never done this type of assignment before, but the client and I really hit it off.  It was time to fake it until I made it.  It was the biggest job I had ever taken on at that point, and it only led to more after that.

When I tell non-writers that I ghostwrite, they’re usually a little confused.  It’s not the kind of thing you hear every day, and people often want to know more.

If I was an actual ghost, would my desk be this clean?

What do people do with the stories you write for them?

I don’t know most of the time, and I honestly don’t care.  I’m only paid to write, not to worry about how it’s marketed or if it makes any money.  If the story does nothing but sit on their hard drive and rot, then that’s the client’s business.

I will say that I recently stumbled upon some of the stories I had written for someone else.  I was looking for books in the same genre (which I won’t mention in order to protect my client) and just happened to find it.  The stories were being well-marketed with excellent covers, and they had tons of five-star reviews.  There is no greater inspiration than a compliment, even if the reader doesn’t know who they’re complimenting.

But you don’t get any credit for it. 

This is one that my daughter brings up on a pretty consistent basis.  It does seem silly to put a lot of effort into a story just to have someone else slap their name on it.  But I do get credit for it in that I have credit with my client.  Most of them come back to me time and time again because they know I can give them what they want.

I’m obligated to do at least a little bit of haunting, right?

So why do you do it?

  1.  I get paid.  Let’s just be honest about that right up front.  Sure, there are lots of writers out there who want to say that getting paid means you’ve sold out.  I say it means you’re smart.  The money I make from ghostwriting means that I have the time and funds to put together my own stories.  I also get to do things like buy groceries, clothe my children, and feed my new fountain pen addiction.
  2. I enjoy it.  Who wouldn’t want to do a job that they enjoy?  Yes, I sometimes have a job that doesn’t thrill me or that isn’t the most fun, but I still get to sit at home in my pj’s with my dog next to me.  You don’t get that at a 9 to 5 job.
  3. It’s great practice.  Even though I write for others, I do write for myself as well.  The genres I have ghostwritten in include science fiction, mystery, western, and modern fiction.  The stories are anywhere from 10,000 to over 60,000 words.  Even if I’m not writing a piece that is necessarily up my alley, it hones my writing skills and expands my horizons.

Ghostwriting may have come to me as a surprise, but it’s also been a pleasant one.

 

If you enjoyed this post, please come find me on Facebook or check out my (non-ghostwritten) books on Amazon!

 

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My Own Ruler for Measuring Success

If you do a bit of googling (which you’re probably doing anyway), I’m sure you will find plenty of articles about success. It might be tips for how to succeed, stories of how someone else already did, or inspiring tidbits for those who aren’t feeling motivated.

This isn’t really any of those.

I had a conversation recently about how success is measured. I made this absolutely crazy statement about how I don’t equate money with success, and I got some major side-eye followed by an outright rejection of my theory. No, they said, they definitely wanted to get paid and get paid well in order to consider themselves successful.

I get that. I mean, money shouldn’t be everything, but it kind of is. If you want a new car or a nice house, you must have some way of paying for it, right? And nothing is cheap these days. So in this sense, yes, money is how you know you’re successful.

But what a terrible cage that puts you in. If you make good money but you hate your job, then you’re successful? If you make good money but you never have time for your family, then you’re successful? If you make good money but it’s killing you in the process, then you’re successful?

Don’t get me wrong, I like making money. I’m not interested in working for free, because I have bills to pay, children to feed, and Doctor Who merchandise to buy. But I don’t think it’s okay to be a slave to the almighty dollar while sacrificing everything else that’s important in life.

I’ve never had a lot of money. (I mean, seriously. If you know me, you know that I have never had money.) As a freelance writer, I’m sure not raking it in. But I do feel successful. How is my success measured?

 

I get paid to do what I love.

I get to work from home, which means I am always here for my family.

My clients come back to me for repeat business, which is a huge compliment.

My husband has done nothing but support and encourage me in this endeavor.

My stress levels are pretty low.

My schedule is flexible.

I’m happy.

 

For me, all of this adds up to something that is worth so much more than a six-figure job. Would I turn down a multi-million dollar book deal? Heck, no. But I don’t need one to know that I’m successful.

 

Measure success

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Filed under Family, Finances, On Writing, Work, Work-at-Home Mom