Why You Need a Writing Mentor and Where to Find One

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No matter where you are in your freelancing career, everyone needs a little help sometime. Finding a mentor can be a good way to break you out of your regular working routine and electrify your mind with new ideas and inspiration. Laura Spencer recently wrote a great post for Freelance Folder, which addresses the best ways to find a writing mentor, and why mentors matter in the first place.

 

 

Check out a handful of her mentoring tips:

Get industry-specific tips. If your mentor works in the same freelancing profession as you do, they may be able to help you identify specific tools and techniques that work well in your field and steer you away from those that are bad ideas.

Learn from secondhand experience. It’s great to learn from your mistakes, but it’s even better to avoid making the mistakes in the first place. In a nutshell, this is often what having a mentor can do for you. Your mentor can tip you off to methods and processes that really don’t work well.

Benefit from expanded network connections. Your mentor likely has a broader base of connections since they have been in business longer. For that reason, your mentor can introduce you to or point you towards individuals and fellow article writers who can really help you grow your business.

And Laura offered a few tips on how to find a mentor too:

Past employer/colleague. For those freelancers who have held a traditional job before becoming a freelancer, their past workplace may be the ideal place to find someone experienced in their field.

Professional association. You can also find experienced freelancers (and potential mentors) in professional associations and business networking groups.

Paid coach. Many experienced freelancers offer paid coaching or mentoring services. If you want to find a mentor who works in your specific niche, this may be the best way to do it.

For the rest of Laura’s great tips, check out her Freelance Folder post Finding a Mentor–A Freelancer’s Simple Success Secret.

Where did you find your mentor? How has your mentor helped you in your own freelancing career? Let us know in the Comments

How Freelance Journalists Can Use Facebook’s New ‘Subscribe’ Button

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When it comes to breaking news, Facebook has got nothin’ on Twitter. Twitter’s rapid fire interface, and news ticker feel makes it the perfect place to get up to the second updates on what’s happening in your world and beyond. But today, Facebook has launched their new “Subscribe” feature, which seems to merge the content control of Google+ with the fast pace updates of Twitter. The gauntlet has been thrown down. But will Facebook be a more effective tool for journalists?

From the Facebook overlords:

Facebook users can now visit another user’s profile and subscribe to receive the person’s public updates in their news feed, without being “friends.” The feature lets Facebook users broadcast public messages to subscribers, like Twitter does, while also keeping their private network of friends separate.

With the Subscribe button, we’re making it easier to do both. In the next few days, you’ll start seeing this button on friends’ and others’ profiles. You can use it to:

  1. Choose what you see from people in News Feed
  2. Hear from people, even if you’re not friends
  3. Let people hear from you, even if you’re not friends

Still wondering how this would work for journalists? Jeff Sonderman at the Poynter Institute provided 5 things journalists need to know about new Facebook subscription feature.
Here are a few highlights of Sonderman’s piece:

1. First, you have to opt-in. You must visit this Facebook page to enable subscriptions to your account. Only then can other Facebook users visit your profile and subscribe.

2. Many journalists may find they no longer need a separate Facebook Page. Pages had two primary advantages over profiles: People could subscribe to page updates (by liking them) without being your Facebook friend, and there was no limit to the number of fans you could have.

…There are two possible reasons you might want to keep your Facebook Page: You already have such a strong following there you don’t want to disrupt it, or you need to use the apps and extra tabs that Pages allow you to add.

3. Facebook continues to encourage publicness. By creating a distinct audience for public updates, Facebook is motivating users to share more things publicly.

People who have a lot of subscribers may feel pressure to share most things publicly, and just keep a few personal updates private for friends and family. If that happens, Facebook Search will become a more useful tool for journalists and others who want to search public posts like they do on Twitter.

4. Each subscriber controls how much they see from you. This could be a good thing or a bad thing for journalists and web content writers. But each person can choose to see all of your updates, most of your updates or only the “most important” as determined by Facebook.

5. Facebook is positioning itself as the social network for everything and everyone, by incorporating the most distinctive features of Twitter and Google+.

Now Facebook takes on Twitter with the new Subscribe button (there’s also a feature to send all your public Facebook posts to Twitter). And earlier this week Facebook announced new ways to build and share with lists of friends, similar to how Google+ circles work.

 

 

What do you think? Will you be using Facebook’s new subscribe button? Do you think it will help journalists? Let us know in the comments!

How to Track Your Freelance Writing Income More Effectively

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Keeping track of money may not be the most exciting part of freelance writing, but it’s still crucially important. In this video, we share a sample Excel spreadsheet and show step by step how I track income, deadlines, and more. If you don’t have a system yourself, Income Tracking Sheet and customize it to your needs. Have another strategy for tracking income? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

What’s in the Bag of a Freelance Radio Reporter?

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Friends have asked me why I’ve invested so much time and expense in radio gear since I mostly write for print. Simply put, I love turning in fully produced, turnkey stories and radio shows pay more for the effort. Piecing together music, interviews and sound effects is like creating an editorial illustration, which is something that I’ve done for years and enjoy. Both are very visual and conceptual mediums.

Of course, you don’t need as much gear as shown in the photo to freelance in radio, but I plan on doing more in the near future – an eye-opening experience for any freelance writers who want to do more.

A: Marantz PMD670 digital, two-track audio recorder – Marantz makes smaller, lighter recorders now (PMD 660, 661) but they don’t have as many features as the full-sized recorders, and their preamps are a bit noisy. Oade Brothers offers a nice retrofit that really improves noise on all Marantz digital recorders

B: Sennheiser MD46 cardioid dynamic microphone – Great interview mic with low handling noise and a heart-shaped pickup pattern that records from the front and sides. Durable, too. It’s survived a few drops

C: Gooseneck mic stand – Heavy but solid. Cast iron base isn’t easily knocked over

D: Audio-Technica microphone shock mount with hotshoe adapter for use on my DSLR camera

E: Audio-Technica AT835b condenser microphone – Directional mic that’s useful for noisy rooms or to record sound from afar. Very sensitive to handling noise

E: 2 XLR mic cables 5-foot/15-foot for use with the Marantz recorder

F: Sony MDR-7502 field headphones

H: Church Audio preamp – Gives my small recorders a pickup boost when using less sensitive dynamic mics. Also improves the sound on my DSLR when recording video

I: JK Audio Quick Tap – Allows me to record decent quality telephone interview sound for broadcast use

J: Audio-Technica ATR-3350 wired lavalier mic – Great way to get clean and consistent sound from a subject that’s either moving or in a loud room. I’ll use this lav mic with the Olympus LS10 clipped to the subject’s belt or in a pouch

K: Olympus WS-300M digital recorder – It’s small and can plug directly into the
computer like a USB thumb drive. I still use it to record ambient sounds or sound effects like a closing door, footsteps, restaurant noises. A single AAA battery doesn’t give you much recording time

L: Olympus LS10 digital recorder – Great small recorder that I use for all of my print story interviews. It has good preamps so also works very well for radio

M: JVC earbuds – Low profile way to monitor sound

N: Church Audio 1/8” plug-in omnidirectional dynamic mic – Cheapest way to drastically improve recording quality on a small recorder

O: Sony MDR-V6 studio headphones – I use these “cans” while doing sound editing on my desktop computer at home

Not Shown:
1 XLR to 1/8” mic cable for small recorders

Bogen monopod – I use this if I need a boom for the mic. Works alright but heavy. I’ll eventually buy a Rode Boompole

Asus 15” laptop and desktop with Sony Sound Forge and Audacity. Ideally, Pro
Tools is the standard software editor in radio but it’s expensive and has a steep learning curve.

Audacity is free, feature rich and Sound Forge allows me to clean up the work

Sennheiser G3 wireless lav mic – Great wireless system but pricey. I borrow this from a friend when needed

Freelance Writing Burnout and What You Can Do About It

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Everyone gets burned out from time to time. Freelancers are no different. There are plenty of great perks to being a freelancer, but sometimes you have that existential crisis. Why am I here? What do I want? Is this what I want to do? Prolific freelance writer and author Kelly James Enger has been there. “With fourteen years of freelance experience, I’m far from immune to burnout. Instead, I can predict that every nine to eighteen months, I’ll go through a period where I seriously question my freelance career.”

Yet Kelly doesn’t let the burnout get her down. Instead she takes the time to evaluate the root causes of her disillusionment, and looks for a way to get through it.

In her new post for Dollars and Deadlines, she describes some surefire ways to beat freelancing burnout.

Here are a few of Kelly’s insights.

If you’re falling out of love with freelancing, first determine what’s causing the burnout. Do you have too much work overall—or simply too many deadlines all falling at the same time? Are your clients too demanding? Is it the type of work you’re doing? Or is it that you’re bogged down with “grunt work,” things like transcribing interviews, chasing down money that’s owed to you, or following up on queries you haven’t had a response to?

Sit down with your choice of caffeinated beverage and make a list of the pros and cons of freelancing. Look at this as a brainstorming exercise; don’t worry about listing them in order of importance or how many you have on each side. Then read your list and compare the pros and cons.

 

Read the rest of Kelly’s post A Surefire Way to Beat Freelancing Burnout at her blog Dollars and Deadlines.

How do you deal with freelancing burnout? What are your own tips for how to beat it?

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