How to Survive a Break Up with a Freelance Writing Client

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It happens to the best of us. The worst happens. Despite our good intentions and noble efforts, a client “cans” us. Or we decide, due to creative differences, that working with someone is not in our best interest.

Parting of ways is never pretty. But, at least with a personal relationship you can decide to “still be friends.” Or perhaps have “make-up text” afterward.

Client situations can be a bit trickier. Depending upon the reason for the separation, there can either be a great sense of loss or relief.  I’ve had both.

Thankfully, most of my clients have stayed with me for a good deal of time, and the arrangements have been mutually beneficial.  In fact, some have even become friends, resources, referral sources and cheerleaders for my business.

Nonetheless, pop singer Neil Sedaka wasn’t wrong: Breaking up is hard to do.
But you can recover and even reach greater heights if you heed the following timely tips.

1. Learn from your mistakes. Perform an autopsy of the death of your relationship. Here’s where a little self-reflection and honesty can go a long way. Were you meeting their needs?  Did you take the relationship for granted? Could you have communicated better?
There’s great truth to the expression, “Those who fail to learn from the past are destined to repeat it.”

2. Seek proper closure. When possible try to find out/or give a reason that things didn’t work out. Most people appreciate having an opportunity to come to terms with things.

3. Talk to a trusted friend. Another freelancer who has been there can help you to keep proper perspective, share a laugh, and provide needed words of encouragement.

4. Resist the urge to become a stalker, or calling their phone just to hear their voice. You’re better than that.

5. Recognize that a break-up is not a reflection of your self-worth or creative ability. It could be that “they’re just not that into you.” To each his own. Move on.

6. See if it’s possible to perhaps be considered for future projects of a different nature. Sometimes dismissal can happen due to budget cuts or other factors that could change in the future. Try to stay open.

7. Avoid saying things that you’ll regret. Always exit with dignity, no matter who initiates the break-up.

8. Don’t be bitter be better! Anger can cloud judgment and cramp creativity. Keep a level head and keep learning so that you and your business can grow with fresh article writers!

9. Cherish the memories. Perhaps your client was “your first”, or maybe they helped to finance a beautiful vacation, or inspired you in creative ways. Whatever was the original “draw” be thankful for it and recognize that everything has a season.

10. Never accept shabby treatment. In the words of Dr. Phil, “We teach people how to treat us by the things we accept.”

11. Start seeing other people. Get out and network. Make phone calls. Keep yourself busy. Ask your friends to hook you up. Before you know it, you’ll be back into the swing of things again.

…All because you followed these tips and your heart.

How to Become A Freelance Foreign Correspondent

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Being a foreign correspondent is one of the most romanticized jobs in the journalism world. The thought of breaking news in far off countries and meeting fascinating other cultures is nearly irresistible to journalists who seek adventure. Ebyline freelancer Beth Dickinson is one of these adventure seekers, she is a foreign correspondent stationed in the Middle East. She has trekked the globe to cover stories in Africa and Latin America, and her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, the New York Times, and The New Republic (and many more). She is regularly a guest on NPR affiliate stations, the BBC, ABC News, France24, Sirius XM radio, and Washington’s WTOP. We recently caught up with Beth to hear some stories about working overseas and to get some advice for other freelance journalists who want to break in to foreign correspondent work.

Hi Beth, give us a little background of where you are working now and what you have been up to?

I’ve just spent the summer in Latin America, covering various staging grounds of the drug war. Prior to that, I worked as an editor at Foreign Policy magazine in Washington for three years. I was Nigeria correspondent for The Economist (a stringing gig) in 2007 and 2008.

What countries have you worked in, and which place was the most interesting to cover?

My first love has always been reporting in Africa. I feel alive when I’m working stories there in a way that I’ve never experienced in another region. There’s such a depth of complexity and narrative that is under-explored. Unlike a city like New York, or D.C., where there are hundreds of journalists clamoring for a story, you’ll often find yourself the only person digging around, which is challenging and exciting—and also humbling.

More broadly, I love covering places on the move. When you arrive in a city like Lagos, Nigeria or Santiago, Chile, you can feel the momentum of a place whose best day are ahead. There is a sense that entrepreneurship and global shifts in the economic balance have suddenly made anything possible.

What is one memorable story that you’ve worked on, and what made it so exciting?

I just finished a month in Colombia, reporting a really heartbreaking story about changes in the violence in an impoverished port city called Buenaventura. The city is Colombia’s largest port—but that fortuitous access to the sea has also transformed the area into a battleground for drug cartels and gangs, vying for a piece of the illegal narcotics trade northward to the United States.

Anytime you cover a story like this, you have to constantly be thinking about the safety of your sources and the people you are talking to. It’s very easy to carelessly publish quotes or details about people’s lives that could then be used against them in the future. You have to remember in a case like this that it isn’t about the story, at the end of the day. It’s about the people—and you have to craft your reporting in a way that is fair, representative, and narrative, without it being exploitative.

How do you pitch your stories to editors? Are you pitching blindly, or do you mostly have relationships with editors already?

I have a number of relationships with editors, but I also pitch cold. When I write someone I haven’t worked with before, I find it’s helpful to try and find a connection to that person as an ‘in.’ For example, I’ll ask a fellow journalist or colleague for advice on who is best to contact in an organization. Alternatively, I just try to pitch as surgically as possible. Find the relevant editor and write them directly. I think the best pitches are short and to the point. Editors are busy and they get far too many emails. So they’re not likely to take well to a 1,200 word pitch.

How did you get started as a foreign correspondent?

I wrote an email. During my junior year of college, I reached out to several New York Times correspondents in Africa and asked if I might be able to intern with them. I would find my own funding; I just wanted the chance to learn from their work. I ended up heading to Senegal to intern with Lydia Polgreen, the bureau chief in Dakar. Everything I know about journalism, I learned from her incredible mentorship.

The best way to become a foreign correspondent is to become a foreign correspondent. If you want to write from Yemen or Finland or Brazil, just go there, prove you can write, prove you are easy to work with, and prove that you are reliable, and you will find editors ready to accept your copy. It’s not the most lucrative model at first, but there are lots of creative ways to make it work while you build editor contacts.

For people without extensive language skills, can they still be foreign correspondents?

Yes, though making an effort to learn makes a huge difference. For example, in Nigeria, I spoke a little bit of Yoruba—really not much, but enough for ‘party tricks,’ as I would say. Those few greetings and expressions opened countless doors for me, because it gave a sense that I was invested in understanding the place. Genuine interest is always appreciated.

5 Essential Marketing Tools for Freelance Writers

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Whether you like it or not, freelance writing is all about marketing. You need to not only market your services, but also market the idea of who you are and what makes you different than the millions of other freelancers out there. Writer Leo Babauta ruminates on the 10 Essential Marketing Skills For Freelancers in blog post for Freelance Switch: “As a freelancer (or potential freelancer), you live and die by your ability to sell your services. And unless you’ve got some kind of agent or marketing firm doing your marketing for you, you’ve got to be your own marketer. If you’re like me, that doesn’t come naturally.” Babauta has a point. Freelancing is all about doing-it-yourself, so if you want to push your career to the next level, here are 5 tips on how to market DIY style:

Blog. It’s been said many times before, but the blog is the new resume. If you don’t have a blog, learn how to start one up. And don’t just rant about politics and talk about your cat. Make your blog look professional, write about things that would look good to potential clients, and offer your services to others (with contact info, of course). If you are a designer, be sure that the design is clean and creative. If you are a photographer, the photos should knock them out. If you’re a writer, have only your best writing on your blog. In all cases, have a simple, clean layout with well-written words. If you’re not good at this yet, constantly learn and refine. Look at other professional blogs for inspiration, then tweak. Then edit some more.

Collaboration. One of the best ways to market yourself  as a freelance writer is to collaborate with others. Instead of only working by yourself, offer your talents on a project. If you’re a writer, offer to collaborate with other bloggers — if you give them some free writing (do a guest post), you have just reached a wider audience, and you’ve developed a relationship with another blogger. You can do the same with whatever service you offer — offer it up for free (or at a discounted rate) so you can develop relationships and reach a wider audience.

Listings. Be sure that you’re on all the freelance job sites, or at least the ones that apply most to the service you offer or the market you’re aiming for. You don’t have many words to make a pitch, so offer a few words to differentiate yourself and a link to your blog if possible.

Business card. Don’t go with anything tacky or overly complicated. Keep it simple, professional. The fewer items on your card, the better. Really, all you need is your name, your service and your email address, but you can put a slogan or logo if that works for you. Also, some have argued that the new business card is to simply say “Google me”. If so, be sure that you’ve researched your Google results thoroughly.

Email skills. This is how I do most of my marketing, in combination with the blog and collaboration ideas listed above. I’ll simply email someone to see if they’re interested. I’ll do a short pitch about myself and my services (a short paragraph) and make them an offer. If they write back, great. If not, you can either follow up or move on to the next one. Don’t be too pushy. Again, be professional, and offer a link or two to show samples of your work. People don’t have a lot of time to read emails, so be sure to keep it short. Be friendly and professional. And make them an offer they can’t refuse (not a “Godfather”-style offer, though).

To read the other 5 of Babauta’s tips, check out the full article at Freelance Switch.

How do you market yourself as a freelance writer? Any successes? Any failures? Let us know in the comments!

6 Biggest Mistakes of Freelance Writers

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You know the old adage: Everyone makes mistakes. But when you don’t recognize that you’ve made a mistake, sometimes you can get into that endless cycle of making the same mistake over and over again. For freelance writers, it’s easy to fall into the trap of mistake-making if you’re never alerted to your mistake in the first place! Kelly James-Enger at at Dollars and Deadlines has published a post about some common mistakes that freelancers make, and how to recover from them. Here is a roundup of some of Kelly’s greatest tips on how to recognize a freelancing mistake, and how to correct it.

Find out more tips from Kelly in the full article here.

 

What are some of the most common mistakes you have made as a freelance writer? How do you recover from them? Let us know in the comments!

Turn Your Mobile Phone Into A Multimedia Journalism Tool

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In the old days, let’s say way back in 1999, broadcast journalists had to lug around bulky recording devices and oversized cameras. These days, most journalists have all the tools for capturing a great story in their pocket. Your smart phone is the new Swiss Army knife for professional and citizen journalists. Non-profit MobileActive.org has created the Mobile Media Toolkit, which collects different tools and resources that help 21st century journalists to use mobile technology efficiently.

The simple fact is that using mobile phones in media production isn’t always as easy as it seems. Finding the right tool and using it correctly to reach the broadest possible audience requires knowledge of the mobile landscape. The need for guidance in the industry is apparent.

The Mobile Media Toolkit provides guidance on tools, resources, and case studies of how mobiles can be used for reporting, news broadcasting, and citizen media participation on a variety of platforms and in a variety of circumstances, especially when expanding copywriting services.

If you’re looking for a one-stop resource for all things mobile, the mobile media tool kit is the place.

Here are a couple of reasons Mobile Media Tool Kit says they are revolutionizing citizen and professional reporting.

Create Media on Your Phone:

  • Mobiles phones are always with you. Knowing how to capture multimedia on your phone will enable you to capture breaking news and information at a moment’s notice.
  • Mobiles are portable and unobtrusive recording devices, and can be used in places where camera crews are banned. There are, essentially, always there.
  • Journalists have reported that recording video or audio interviews with mobile phones often helps subject stay relaxed and comfortable.
  • Location-based reports can add valuable geographic context to reports. This will help content reach specific audiences who are often looking for news relevant to their environment and location.
  • Depending on your budget, a mobile phone can act as a cheap recording device and save you money you might otherwise spend on a fancier recording set up.

Share Media Via Your Phone

After creating content, one of the best ways to create an audience for that content is simply to publish it online. There are many online platforms which will let you self-publish content and build an audience for that content. Web publishing can be quick, easy, and supports all kinds of information that can be uploaded from mobiles (including audio, video, photo, and location information).

There are many reasons to know about and create platforms for publishing mobile content.

  • If you are creating news content on your phone, you will need a platform to publish your content. For multimedia content such as text, audio, videos, or photos, online is often the best publication medium.
  • Most people carry their mobile phones with them everywhere. By making it easy for the general public to upload content captured on their phones, you can increase the reach of content, speed of coverage, as well as diversity of the content you showcase.
  • News consumers, especially on mobile phones, are becoming increasingly participatory. Letting users participate on their mobile phones is the next step, as it makes participation easier and more accessible to a wider audience.
  • Not only can user-generated content drastically increase the amount of content you have, examples show that more people may seek to access this user-generated content as well.
  • These platforms can work with a variety of publishing platforms (like online publishing, the radio, or mobile phones), and in some cases, can plug in directly to your current infrastructure.

Deliver Content Mobile to Mobile

There are many reasons to disseminate content to mobile phones.

How do you use your mobile phone as a reporting too? Any aps or hacks that help you do your job?

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