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Blog Writing Training

Teaching A Budding Writer to Blog

I have planted a seed. And a good seed needs nurturing, pruning and water. So I am enlisting the he help of my faithful readers to help this seed to grow.

My son Mark has talent. Real, pure, undeniable talent. Anyone that is his friend on MySpace already knows that when he writes, you are drawn to read his words. I have always found his writing to be deep, honest and emotional, yet sometimes riddled with unnecessary words that discount the impact of the writing. So, with all that talent, his aspirations of being a photojournalist, and him being on his way ‘out’ of school, I thought it was time to teach him about being a blogger, and doing it right.

I am going to be offering him subjects to create articles on and then post them on this blog for you to comment on, review and critique. This will be the water he needs to grow.

We begin today, and the subject I offered up first was Gas Prices & The Economy. I asked him to shoot at least one photo for his article, and asked that I receive it by 2:00 pm today to post here for you to see.

Here is his writing on the subject:

Things Are Getting Worse

BP Station for blog postAt least thats what Barrack Obama said. Of course from the looks of things, we all are getting a big relief from the recent pricing of many things. Gas, for instance, starting in the beginning of 08 was on a steady rise to around $2.50 per gallon. Somewhere halfway along the year, those prices rocketed up to maxes of at least five dollars within the United States. And now? We are back where we began if not in better positioning to help ourselves and the national economy as well. Gas prices have fallen back below two dollars. Some, like this American-owned BP here are near the dollar-fifty marker. With this new found glory of sales, many have found it easier than previously thought for a family outing to a well-kept restaurant for the holidays. Others can now get by with their overwhelming lists for groceries. Whatever the bargain is for us these days, from the looks of things, were comfy with a dollar-fifty per gallon.

Here are my thoughts on his first offering:

  • On the whole, I really liked it, especially since there was not even a single curse word in it – a first for him I think 🙂
  • I like that really put HIS thoughts into what HE felt about the prices, and how they impact him.
  • I am not keen on his title. While it is engaging to me, it does not fit fully with the article subject.
  • I would have liked to seen some sort of explanation, or a link to Senator Obama’s specific words on that headline.

I made many suggestions to him about how we could better enhance his blog title, and article, and thought I would post the edited version, however, I opted to leave his fully intact and post it here for more opinions so as to better lead him to his professional blogger status.

Your thoughts and opinions?

Christmas Money Blogging

Making Extra Money for the Holiday Season

Times are tough. There is no denying that fact.

Just this morning before leaving for work, my husband pointed out that this economy is adding years to the time he gets to retire, which he was hoping to do in just a few more years. I learned that it took more than 20 years for the markets to recover from the Great Depression. Yikes, that will cut into what he has been working toward!

I have not been very busy the past few weeks, though I have not much desired to design anything after totally getting screwed by John Paul Cambert (I will elaborate on that in a different posting), other than working on the All Quality Heating & Air website. So, when Denny mentioned that this morning, and knowing Christmas is on the way, I set my sights on trying to make a few extra bucks.

I set to Googling work-at-home opportunities (which I really hate looking through, because most things are scams), and perused a few websites that had some information that I really already knew… I am NOT the ‘salesgal with the never ending little black book’, so that nixes all those ‘party’ type of businesses such as Pampered Chef, PartyLite, PureRomance or the plethora of others there are.

I went to Craigslist checking out what was posted in the Design & Development area for Chattanooga, and came up with a bunch of nothing. I should probably check out LOTS more cities, but when I am on that site I always get trailed off.

Took a few minutes on CrowdSpring and Design Outpost looking at what they had going on, but I just have a hard time designing with no guarantee of compensation. Maybe if I was uber-broke, I would, but I am not, so I won’t.

Finally from my searching I stumbled upon ProBlogger, and saw all the “Bloggers wanted” jobs. Talk about a ‘dugh! moment’. I DO have blogs (that I hardly write in, shame shame) that I could be pumping out musings on and would possibly see a Google check in the mail. I could write for others. Hey, now that was an idea.

So, I signed up to be a blogger at Today.com (as listed on the ProBlogger Jobs site) let’s see how that works out.

I am still hunting for designY things to do to fill the stockings, so if you need a good designer, I am your girl… unless you are JP Cambert!

Freelancing Tips

Freelancing Tips

I was reading one of the mailing lists I am a member of the other day, and some questions came up about Freelancing. Some were interested in knowing the best way to get business as a freelancer, and since Zenful Creations came from years of freelancing, I thought I would share my experiences in freelancing. I posted a list of seven items to the message list, and received numerous comments and a few more questions, so I decided to add a bit more to the list, and post here.

1. First and foremost, have a GOOD website. Make sure it has at least six original designs, the service you provided (a before and after shot is always good), and a little detail on your process helps too. Make sure your site is easy to use, and preferably compliant with standards. Make sure there are no typos in your content.

2. Get signed up on sites such as Guru.com, RentACoder.com, GetAFreelancer.com, and many many more… Over the years I found great success at Guru.com, and also acquired several projects from DesignCrowd. I would also suggest checking 37signals Job Board, and CSS Beauty Job Board for new listings as often as possible.

3. Participate. Find listservs, message boards and blogs about freelancing, and participate in discussions. Affiliate with other freelancers – if they are too busy to take on a project they may pass it on to you, or they may partner with you on larger projects.

4. Post a free ad on Craigslist in your area. Craigslist allows you to post an ad for your services every 45 days. With the usership of this site, you will at least get a hit or two each 45 days. While you are on Craigslist, make sure you check out the ‘Barter’ section, and ‘Creative Jobs & Gigs’.

5. 3rd Party Endorsements. Always get testimonials from the clients you work for. Since the launch of this online reputation manager, I have had all clients that I worked with give me a review on iKarma.com – it is a place that you can send current clients (or have a link from your site) to find out more about working with you.

6. Network. Join professional organizations such as your local BNI, or attend other networking events in your area to build your synergistic relationships, and meet people that will refer you to people they know. You can find events local to you on Meetup.com, on Craigslist in the events or community section and also in your local newspaper.

7. Blog. This will increase traffic to your site – I suggest blogging about each design you do or whatever niche it is you have; blog the before, process and after. Blog about open spots in your schedule… Blog when you are full and can take no clients at that time (which shows you are busy) – clients tend to like busy designers as that usually indicates they are good at what they do, and in demand.

8. As funny as this one may sound, it works. Get yourself a myspace account – for your business – there is so much traffic on myspace and it is a great place to network. Customize your design if you can. I have been approached by many clients over the past year (mostly musicians and artistry) who desire to have a customized myspace page. Upload design proofs in the pics section. Keep clients or partners in your friends list, and keep your comments well moderated. Keep it professional.

9. Use a contract. Always. Everytime. A contract is important in any project you do. The contract not only protects a you and your client legally, but it also clearly details deadlines and payments. If you do not already have a contract, you are welcome to copy mine and edit it to suit your needs.

10. Keep up with your records. As a freelancer, you are an independent contractor, and therefore, are expected to keep up with and file your own taxes. You can either pay them throughout the year (file quarterly), or put the money aside to pay later. Get a good program such as QuickBooks, or Quicken, and keep it updated. Also, keep a record of the business expenses you can write off at the end of the year – books, travel, lunch meetings etc.