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Journalism Advice

How Community Engagement Can Help You Get Out of a Writing Rut

Ongoing-Education-ArticleAlthough freelancing can be a liberating career, it can also be a lonely and stressful one. The isolation of working by yourself and the daily grind of chasing leads can be exhausting.

In our latest Journalism Advice column, one writer shares how she reignited her creativity after being stuck in a rut. The author had three (relatively) simple goals: get involved with real-life community engagement, take up a passion project and update her social media presence. Here, the writer shares her advice for meeting new people within your community:

If you’re interested in coworking, try searching “coworking” or “shared work space,” followed by your city. In addition, there’s a global coworking movement called Jelly, which is a less formal meet-up of local freelancers at spaces of their choosing. When it comes to getting out there in the real world, the key is persistence. Great relationships don’t happen overnight. First you have to show up and then you have to keep showing up, often dozens of times, before you see the return on your investment.

For more advice, including how to get the most out of your social media accounts, read: Crafting Your Ongoing Education as a Writer.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

Mediabistro Course

Freelancing 101 Online Boot Camp

Freelancing 101Starting April 28, this online event will show you the best way to start your freelancing career, from the first steps of self-advertising and marketing, to building your schedule and managing clients. By the end of this online boot camp you will have a plan for making a profitable career as a freelancer, and the skill set to devote yourself to it. Register now! 

Join Our Google+ Hangout Today for Career and Web Design Advice

careerlunch_304-300x197Mediabistro is launching a new series of Google+ Hangouts and you’re invited! The series, called Career Lunch, starts today at 1 p.m. ET and will feature media professionals sharing their best tips and tricks for staying ahead of the job curve.

Today’s Hangout will include MediaJobsDaily editor Vicki Salemi and Mediabistro’s managing editor Valerie Berrios, who will be speaking with Maurice Cherry, creative principal at design firm 3eighteen media. Cherry will give us the lowdown on all things web design, along with advice on using social media and other digital strategies to enhance your career.

Be sure to join the conversation with your questions and comments on TwitterFacebook or Google+ with the hashtag #mbhangouts.

How Fiction Writing Taught One Writer About Perseverance

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Transitioning from fiction writing to nonfiction freelancing is a one way to diversify and hone your writing skills.

One writer went through the transition and shared what she learned in our latest Journalism Advice column. The freelancer claims that her background in fiction gave her thick skin, helped her deal with deadlines and taught her the power of perseverance:

The action of constantly reaching, keeping multiple stories circulating in the querysphere, and never wallowing for too long was an amazing gift to my nonfiction career. Persistence as a freelancer is pitching a new idea to the editor who rejected your first idea. It’s complying with an extensive rewrite. It’s chasing down the perfect expert for an interview, no matter how elusive they are or difficult their PR agent is. It’s essential to survival.

For more, including how a background in fiction can help you generate new ideas, read: 5 Ways Fiction Writing Prepared Me for Nonfiction Freelancing.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

Chronicle Pair Offer Visiting Journalists a Ten-Step Article Template

New York magazine recently wondered – “Is San Francisco New York?” From that west coast city, San Francisco Chronicle pop culture critic Peter Hartlaub and staff writer Joe Garofoli today offer up the cheekiest of commentary-responses in the form of a ten-step Cut-and-Paste San Francisco Trend Story template.

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Each and every suggested feature article touchstone is hilarious, including:

Step 3: Find the outrage. Now that you’re sufficiently fired up about evictions, it’s time to write about the tenant-landlord rift without actually speaking to a greedy landlord or aggrieved tenant. The San Francisco Tenants Union, Tenderloin Housing Clinic or any past/present editor of the San Francisco Bay Guardian will gladly confirm that San Francisco is on the verge of doom (just as the naysayers said in 1998 during the first dot-com boom).

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How to Prep for Your First Big Speaking Engagement

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Public speaking can be a nerve-wracking experience for anyone. If you become successful in the media industry, you’re bound to have to stand up in front of a crowd at some point in your career. Fortunately, we have some tips to help make your first speaking gig less excruciating and, dare we say… maybe even fun.

In Mediabistro’s latest Journalism Advice column, you’ll find out why knowing your audience and structuring your presentation are essential. But even more important is practicing your speech and making sure you enjoy hearing it yourself:

If anything about your talk bores you, cut it or change it. Just like in your writing, you can’t expect someone to be interested in what you’re saying if you’re not. Finally, the best pointer, and one that you probably remember from Public Speaking 101, is to never write out your speech word for word. Limit yourself to a couple of note cards with bullet points for reference. Usually, if you’ve been invited to speak somewhere, you know your material, so trust yourself.

To hear more, including what to do when that one curmudgeon in the audience tries to challenge you, read: 5 Tips on Nailing Your First Speaking Gig.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

How to File Your Taxes As a Freelance Writer

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So you got your first freelance paycheck for that FOB piece in Woman’s Day. Awesome, right? Well, yes, but remember that the lump sum you were paid is hardly tax free. You will have to pay Uncle Sam back at some point and if you’re unprepared, it could hurt your wallet more than you think.

Filing taxes can be a confusing endeavor all by itself, but when you’re a freelance writer, you also have to contend with the self-employment tax, applicable tax forms and, of course, deduction tracking. Fortunately, Tax Day doesn’t have to be a nightmare. In our latest Journalism Advice column, we spoke to several tax experts about the dos and dont’s of filing as a freelancer. Here’s one tip on figuring out how much you’ll owe at the end of the year:

Because freelance income is so erratic, it can be difficult to calculate how much you’re going to owe. William Perez, tax practitioner and freelance writer, says that you can use Publication 505, available on the IRS website, to determine your taxes by hand. “However,” he says, “I prefer using tax software. After building a scenario for next year’s taxes in the software, I capture the data and tax calculations in a spreadsheet. Then I use the tax calculation to create a budget.”

For more tax advice, including whether to remain a sole proprietor or become an LLC, read: Tax Tips for Freelance Writers.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

Profit From Your Passion in 2014

Profit-From-Your-Passion-tv-150We at Mediabistro have always been huge advocates of doing what you love — whether it’s breaking free of your ho-hum job in corporate law to work for magazines, like Brides‘ editor-in-chief Keija Minor did, or turning a passion for the written word into a lucrative novel- and TV-writing career (before the age of 25, no less, in Kara Taylor‘s case). And we aim to inspire — which is why we’re bringing back our Profit From Your Passion series. Each week in January, we’ll offer tips on how to pitch such prestigious pubs as the The Saturday Evening Post, give you a step-by-step strategy on how to perfect your book proposal, and share the secrets to success from media pros like Lucky founding editor Kim France, HollywoodLife’s Bonnie Fuller, and Dave Ramsey, finance guru, TV personality and author. Whether you desire a job in magazines, digital media, book publishing or TV/entertainment, now’s the time to pursue your dream. To whet your appetite, our first feature is How to Become a Six-Figure Freelancer. Yes, it is possible. See the full “Profit From Your Passion” lineup after the jump.

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How to Achieve Financial Security as a Freelancer

SixfigureFreelancerFreelance writing isn’t an obvious route to monetary success. Many people choose to freelance because they want to pursue their passion, and making boatloads of money isn’t really the goal. But what if you could do what you love — and make a killing at the same time?

Our latest Mediabistro feature discusses various tips and tricks on how to score major moolah on your next assignment. Seeking out new markets is a great way to expand your repertoire and make new connections:

“Writers think that if they want to make a lot of money they have to pitch the biggest magazines because they pay the most,” said [Linda Formichelli, author and co-founder of the Renegade Writer blog]. But, she warns, those are so difficult to break into that “not many people make a living writing only for the consumer magazines.” As a veteran freelancer, she has shifted her writing focus to include trade (business-to-business) and custom publications (like the ones you get from your credit card or insurance company). It’s a strategy she suggests for other writers who want to earn more cash, too.

To hear more tips on how to earn a major paycheck as freelancer, read: How to Become a Six-Figure Freelancer.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

Market Yourself as a Freelance Travel Writer

Travel writing careerTravel writing is something many freelancers fantasize about. Getting paid to travel the world and eat amazing food — where do I sign up?

Although it sounds exciting in theory, the reality of life as a travel writer is just as stressful and unglamorous as any other freelance career. In the latest Mediabistro feature, one writer discusses the lessons she’s learned after 10 years in the business. One of the most important ones? Market yourself to death:

Years ago I joined Mediabistro’s Freelance Marketplace, and it paid dividends. Soon after I joined, the editor of an in-flight magazine contacted me via my profile, and I wrote a bi-monthly column for him for four years. I continue to be a member and update my clips regularly. You never know when an editor will be looking for a writer just like you! I also read Mediabistro’s How To Pitch articles. Not only do I look at the travel-specific magazines, but also the lifestyle titles to find out how travel pieces I have in mind might fit into their books. At the end of the day, as with all freelance writing, it’s about being innovative and finding unique perspectives on topics that have already been covered, and making the pitch.

To hear more tips on how to create a lasting travel writing career, read: Embarking On My Greatest Adventure: Freelance Travel Writing.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

How A Minimalist Lifestyle Could Help Your Writing

MinimalismMinimalism for freelancers makes a lot of sense. When you work from home, you’re constantly fighting off distractions. Shrinking the amount of stuff you have can make a world of difference in helping you stay focused.

In the latest Mediabistro feature, one freelancer shares her story about simplifying mind and matter. So how can freelancers declutter their space to create a work-friendly environment? First, take a look at what’s around you:

Anyone who works from home knows that it’s difficult to keep personal space separate from work space. I made three major changes to my home environment, each of which has benefited my work life. The first is the most profound: I moved the TV out of the living room. Now, when I’m taking lunch breaks, I sit down at the dining room table and don’t get sucked in to some Full House rerun or episode of Anderson Live.

To hear more of her story, read: The Minimalist Freelance Life.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

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