How To Publish a Successful Guest Blog

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If you’re looking for more avenues to expand your reach and grow awareness of your brand online, while continuing to build a deep library of quality content, guest blogging may be for you. Guest posts on well-read blogs are often highly visible, and can be a great way to increase the number of links to your site.

Think about it using a simple analogy. All of the various platforms that you use to promote your brand are like a megaphone for your content. Sometimes your words can be incredible, but if your megaphone isn’t quite big enough no one’s going to hear them. Through guest blogging you can borrow someone’s megaphone for a little while, and sometimes that’s exactly what your brand needs to be heard.

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Evaluate Your Content Writer in 6 Easy Steps

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Are you keeping an eye on your content writer’s work?

Somewhere along the way, the importance of having a great writer on board became overshadowed by other positions of significance in the workplace. Sales Persons, Human Resource Managers, Controllers, Web Developers and Graphic Artists carry a lot of weight.

But your Content writer controls your branding.  That’s pretty powerful! [Read more...]

#Realtalk from Ann Friedman: Editors are your most important relationship

Ann Friedman

AnnFriedmanHeadshotAnn Friedman was executive editor of GOOD until last summer, when GOOD’s cofounders famously laid off the site’s editorial staff. Friedman and several other former GOOD staffers launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund Tomorrow, a collaborative journalism project to create a single-issue magazine.

With editing stints at GOOD and The American Prospect behind her, Friedman is now embracing the freelance life. She writes weekly columns for New York Magazine and Columbia Journalism Review, curates the Tumblr blog Lady Journos, and posts hilarious animated GIFs on her Tumblr blog #realtalk from your editor (a companion to her CJR column). She also delivered the closing keynote (cleverly illustrated with GIFs) at the Power of Narrative Conference in April.

Ebyline recently caught up with Friedman to find out how she jumped into freelancing, why she loves GIFs, and what she learned from cofounding Tomorrow magazine. What follows is an excerpt of that conversation, edited for clarity and brevity.

Had you freelanced before the layoffs at GOOD?

Before I got myself suddenly unemployed, I described myself as an indoor cat. I only worked in staff positions, and I’d mainly made my living as an editor. Not only had I only had staff jobs, but I had never really tested my ability to produce the volume of writing it requires to be a freelance writer. That was not the plan.

It actually was a great asset to me that I was an editor first. I had an innate sense of how to make editors happy and—let’s be real—editors are your employers when you’re a freelance writer. They’re the ones who greenlight the things that you want to do and they’re your internal advocate when your check isn’t coming. Editors are your most important relationship when you’re a freelance writer.

What are some of the strategies that make editors happy?

Something that would always drive me nuts is when writers would get indignant about my response time or about the fact that I was juggling so many different things. It seemed like there were some writers that didn’t seem to grasp how many demands on my time there were. It’s almost like editors are standing in a room full of screaming children running in a million different directions.

I always try to be respectful that there are many demands on an editor’s time and understand that I’m never going to be priority number one. I try to think of my editor as my ally. A lot of it goes back to having a great respect for the craft of editing and being willing to collaborate with editors.

You’ve become known for animated GIFs. Do you think that they’re a fad? Or are they here to stay?

The GIF is just another tool among many, many tools that journalists have to help punctuate their work and promote their work. I use them as a way to unite the high- and lowbrow. A lot of my friends who are photographers are starting to make great photographic work with GIFs. You can do a lot of different things with it. Not everything is the joking, goofball GIFs that I embed in my CJR column as a way of lightening up what would otherwise be a pretty heavy topic.

What were some of the lessons from working on Tomorrow?

One lesson was community is powerful. It was an amazing community that supported us by funding us on Kickstarter and promoting our work after Tomorrow came out. I don’t think Tomorrow would have come about if we hadn’t cultivated a group of readers around the work that we created prior. People love the idea of being part of what we were about with Tomorrow. We paid everyone something. It wasn’t fair market rate, but everyone involved with the project got paid which is something we’re really proud of. People didn’t do it for the money. Most just wanted to be involved with the project.

If I had it to do over, I would have loved to work with someone in a publisher role. All of us are journalists. We lived on the editorial side. It’s pretty hard to put your business brain on and your editorial brain on at the same time. So if we had it to do over, I would have tried to enlist help from someone to handle our business stuff from the outside.

A new crop of journalism grads is about to enter the workforce. What’s your advice for them?

Find some way to do the thing you’re excited about. Sometimes that means picking a crappy day job that doesn’t meet all of your journalistic goals. Take those jobs, even non-journalism jobs, and pay your bills. Then use the huge amount of resources available digitally to create a one-off Tumblr or collaborate with a group of people on a reporting project.

There’s a feeling among a lot of J-school students that they feel stuck in a city regional reporting job that’s not that fulfilling. I actually think there’s never been a time in journalism when it’s been more possible to do this other thing on the side. I don’t think that journalism accurately prepares journalists to be entrepreneurs in the way that most of them are going to have to be if they want to be successful.

Photo by Stephanie Gonot

How Sports Psychology Helps Freelance Writers

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soccer playerSport psychology methodology is an invaluable tool for freelance writers. I incorporate the mindset of sport psychology into workload periods of feast or famine. My mental edge comes from a basic tenet of sport psychology: Mental Toughness.

The mentally tough are health conscious. Well researched queries turn into assignments. When this happens, we need to be able to withstand the onslaught. Work done while stressed or when feeling unwell is usually not our best. Exercise and good nutrition should always be a part of our day. As I write this I almost chuckle to myself. The sad truth, however, is that if we don’t follow this sport psychology guideline, we may succumb to a stress related illness and be unable to make deadlines.

The mentally tough:

  1. Have a ‘flexible mindset and ‘weather adversity’. Life doesn’t always go the way we expect. Plan B should be worked out and implemented when a kink develops. ‘Focus on the task at hand’. This is usually achieved by persistently and systematically checking off the ‘to do’ list. It is also a learned behavior to ‘stay poised’ during pressure situations. The writer’s opponent is limited time. Becoming anxious takes more time. Find a quick coping mechanism like deep breathing and incorporate deliberate inhales and exhales.
  2. Set goals with the end goal in mind. If you know how much money you need for the hour, day, week, month, and year then you know how much work to accept. It is important to set specific immediate, short-term, and long-term goals. Do this at the end of the current work year preferably the week before New Year’s Eve. Set yearly long-term goals and work in reverse to short-term goals, and immediate goals.
  3. Know that ‘motivation’ isn’t a stable entity. No one routinely walks around with a full tank of motivation. We become writers because it’s our passion. We are internally motivated. External motivators help during periods of burnout. If you meet with your favorite cheerleader and still don’t feel motivated, open a notebook and grab a pen. Free write until you find your release valve. Write until you vent all your misgivings and feelings of being overworked.
  4. Understand ‘self talk’ is a double-edged sword. It’s important to monitor your automatic thoughts and exorcise the negative. Some days productivity is derailed because of negative automatic thoughts. Asking for more money can be a challenge for writers. What is your first thought when picking up the phone to ask your editor for a higher fee? If the automatic thought is negative, start offering yourself positive self talk. You know your good points. Write them down and revel in them until you feel like making that call.
  5. Embrace ‘visual imagery’ as a freelancer’s friend. You completed three of the five article assignments that landed in your lap simultaneously. You desperately need a break NOW. You do have something to look forward to in a couple of weeks. With that positive in mind: Close your eyes and visualize yourself moving through the research. That wasn’t so bad. Then you see yourself calling sources and scheduling interviews. As you go through each step of the article you may become more motivated to get started especially when your visual imagery moves to the end of the feast of work and you see yourself relaxing in a couple of weeks.

The games we play and the game of life have similar rules. We need to be healthy and to obtain that critical edge that equals success; we need to harness the positive powers of the mind.

Image courtesy of Paul Gooddy / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Skills That Make Freelance Writers More Marketable

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Gone are the days when simply being a strong writer was enough to earn a living. Nowadays, many editors and clients expect freelancers to have skills beyond writing a snappy headline or a poignant turn of phrase.

Here are five skills that will help set you apart from other freelancers and make you more valuable to your clients.

[Read more...]

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