“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Alicia Rades

FITS Series Welcome Image

Because today is the first Monday of the month, here is another entry in the F.I.T.S. (Freelancer In The Spotlight) Series on Wording Well. 🙂

The “Freelancer In The Spotlight” today is Alicia Rades.

This is a picture of Alicia Rades.

Take it away, Alicia!

How did I get into freelance writing?

I started freelancing when I was 17. I’d never had a job before, and I couldn’t exactly get one around all the extracurricular activities I was in, not to mention that I lived in a house with three other teenagers and we only had one vehicle available to share between all of us.

So when my sister told me about this opportunity where I could work online and create my own schedule, I jumped on it. I was working for a content mill writing crappy 300-word blog posts for $3 per piece. In today’s market, I don’t think anyone would have hired me at the level of writing I was doing. It was bad. At the time, though, I thought, “At least it’s money.”

I used that money to save up for college, and when college came around, I was working for several other content mills, and the rates were starting to get a little better. I loved the flexibility of it, so I stuck with it.

And then this amazing thing happened. I didn’t realize how great of a shift it would be at the time, but it’s made my entire career evolve. Google changed their algorithms. That meant that content mills had to step it up a notch, and so did I. One of the places I was working for started training us in writing higher quality content. Their training guides intrigued me so much that I started searching for information on my own. I ran across all these amazing blogs like Be a Freelance Blogger and Make a Living Writing, and I realized that I wasn’t really doing the freelancing thing right.
I took the first few months there to practice my blog writing skills and learn all I could about how to write quality content. Can you believe that I almost didn’t want to do it and was just going to stick with writing product descriptions, yet I went on to write a bookabout how to write quality blog posts?

After I started to get the hang of it and even took to creating my own blogs (most of which don’t exist anymore because I’m focused on writing for clients’ blogs), I realized how much I really loved writing blog posts.

This started happening right around the time my husband graduated from college. I wanted to follow him wherever he went, so I said screw it to my major and my previous career choice and said, “I’m going to be a freelance writer forever!”

That really made me get my butt in gear. At that point, I finally launched my freelance writing website, I paid for some training resources, and I started attracting private clients.

But I didn’t give up on my dream about graduating college. Today, I’m taking online courses to get my B.A. in communications with an emphasis in professional writing and a minor in social media marketing, but that has opened me up to even more flexibility, which allows me to work quite a bit with my freelance writing.

Alicia Rades’s Top 3 Freelancing Tips

1: Join a community of writers.

For a while there, I thought that if I was going to land high paying clients, I had to hang out where my clients were. I was so confused and disoriented that trying that tactic did absolutely nothing for me. I’m not saying it won’t be good for other people. It’s just not my cup of tea. Instead, I focus my energy on creating relationships with other writers. I know a lot of people will say, “It’s the clients you want to create relationships with!” but I think other writers have done a lot more for me than any client has (no offense to any previous clients).

What exactly does it do for you?

1. It gives you a chance to learn from other people’s experiences. You’ll learn and grow so much better with other writers on your side.
2. It can lead to referrals. My highest paying clients have come from referrals from other writers.
It gives you a chance to help others learn and grow. I don’t know, but this seems to be one of my favorite parts of the job. And I do it for free. I recently spent several weeks helping another writer get her foot in the door with one of my clients–whom I thought she was a better fit for–and it makes me so happy to see how excited she is about the opportunity.
3. It leads to opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have. Along with referrals, my network of writers has led to interviews like this one, guest posts that help boost my portfolio, and even a moderator position on my favorite forum.

2: Read freelance writing blogs

Okay, so since you’re here, you probably already have this one down, but something that I think is really important is staying up-to-date on news related to freelance writing. I still see people working desperately to incorporate keywords and do all the SEO crap that frankly doesn’t matter much anymore. If you read blogs related to freelance writing–and this can include content marketing, blogging, marketing, Internet, or plain old writing blogs–then you would know that quality content and engagement is what drives websites nowadays.

Do yourself and your clients a favor by keeping “in the know” when it comes to these types of things.

3: Do what works for you

One of the biggest things I’ve struggled with is whether or not I should run my own blog or not. I did have a blog a while back that focused on the writing craft, and it was starting to gain traction. But between my clients, I just didn’t feel like I had the time to write kick-ass posts for my readers, so I felt like I was letting them down.

I’ve thought about starting a writing blog again, but maybe with some other admins and contributors, but I’m just not sure it’s worth the effort when I could be writing for my clients, which is something I really enjoy, especially because there’s more variety in topic choice.

So when everyone is saying that I need a big blog that I update at least three times per week, I’m kind of like, “No thank you. That just doesn’t work for me.” Instead, I devote my time to contributing to other blogs, and not once has I heard that it’s affected someone’s decision to hire me.

The point is, you don’t have to listen to all the expert advice if that’s not what works for you.

Don’t like my ideas above? Then at the very least follow this tip: Throw out any advice that doesn’t build you up as a writer and/or a business person.

(Note: I do maintain a blog on my writer website that I update twice per month as well as a place on my author website where I share book reviews and book spotlights.)

UPDATE:

Alicia created a new site (now managed and owned by Elna Cain): Freelancer FAQs. Check it out!

Please thank Alicia for sharing her story and tips with us!

Check out the other freelancers in this series:

Some Life Updates and Info about Freelancing from #freelancewriter Lorraine Reguly

An Interview With “F.I.T.S.” Series #freelancewriter Elna Cain

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Candace Simonson

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter DD, an Addicted-to-Heroin #Freelancer

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Corinne Kerston

F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Ali Luke

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Joe Warnimont

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Brian Morris

F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Janine Ripper

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Harleena Singh

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Crystal Nay

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Christy Birmingham

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Tom Bentley

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter William Ballard

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Deevra Norling

Freelancing Tips From Kirsty Stuart #freelancingtips for #freelancers

7 Reasons for the FITS Series on Wording Well (with results!)

If you want to raise your freelancing rates, read How to Ask for a Raise (and Get One!) from your #Freelancing Client.

If you want to know why you should be gathering testimonials you can use on your website, read about The Power of Client Testimonials.

This is a picture of Alicia Rades.

 

Alicia Rades (@aliciarades) is a freelance blogger, writer, and editor with a passion for giving tips to help others succeed. You can learn more about her and her freelance writing at aliciaradeswriter.com. When inspiration strikes, she’s also an author. Please support her and her upcoming debut fiction novel at aliciaradesauthor.com.

 

How MY Blogging Saved Someone’s LIFE

picture of a hand holding a pen

Sometimes bloggers wonder if their words truly have an impact on others.

I am pleased to report that mine did, and are continuing to do so.

It’s true. I have actually helped save lives!

In fact, I recently saved someone’s life. Seriously.

How I Learned I Saved Someone’s Life

I received a letter in my inbox a while ago. Apparently, a suicidal teenager read a post I wrote about the time I tried killing myself. (Wording Well is unique because it contains personal posts from when this site used to be called Lorraine Reguly’s Life, before I found my niche — I guess I should say “niches,” as I have three: writing, blogging, and freelancing — and before I had direction as a services provider and business owner.)

Anyway, getting back to this teenager…

She contacted me through my contact page form. She granted me permission to post her first two emails to me, as long as I didn’t use her name. Naturally, I agreed. I even sent her a copy of this post before publishing it to double-check that she’d be okay with what was published.

This is what she wrote: Read More

2014: A Year to Remember #yearinreview

2014 Was A Year To Remember

No doubt about it. 2014 was a year to remember.

I learned and accomplished a lot in 2014. But there were a few bad things I endured, too, which I’ll share with you today.

I’ll also let you know what’s coming up in 2015, for Wording Well, for you, and for me. Read More

How to Customize the Size of Your Blog Post Images #video #tutorial

How to Customize the Size of your blog post images

Have you ever needed to customize or adjust the size of one of your blog post images?

I have… especially when I learned how to create image quotes.

I also learned a little trick that some of you might know about. It is simple, really, and I created a video for this blogging tip, too.

In fact, I created this tutorial using some new screen recording software I have never worked with before, and am quite pleased with how it turned out! (*pats self on the back*)

It took a while for me to learn how to use it, but now that I have, you can probably expect more videos from me! 😉

Please watch the video to learn how to customize the size of your blog post images. This tutorial shows the steps you need to follow. They are simple, and you’ll be able to easily customize your blog post images once you watch it.

FYI, if you want a transcript of this video, you can find it below. Thanks goes out to my transcriptionist, Angela Shirley, whose services you can use, too!

How To Customize the Size of Your Blog Post Images: Video Tutorial

One Important Note about the CUSTOM Image Option

I didn’t mention in the video is that the Custom option is only available once the image has been uploaded. Therefore, the steps are:

1. Upload the image.

2. Edit the image. Choose Custom Size.

3. Save.

Video Transcript of How to Customize the Size of Your Blog Post Images 

Here is a transcription of the video, for those of you who can read faster than you can listen:

Hi, this is Lorraine Reguly from Wording Wel,l bringing to you a bite-size blogging tip you can use any time you need to customize or adjust the size of an image in one of your blog posts. In fact I am going to show you how to do it using three different scenarios, one from each of my blogs: Wording Well, Laying It Out There and Poetry Perfected.

Now what we are going to do is we are going to is look at three different scenarios, the first dealing with a square image, the second with the rectangular one, and the third involves adjusting an image on a free blog on WordPress.com. I know not all of you have self-hosted blogs yet, and so I don’t want to exclude anyone from this tutorial.

Let’s get started.

Now, once you have uploaded an image from your computer into your WordPress dashboard, and notice that it’s not the right size – perhaps it’s either too big or too small – all you have to simply do is click on the picture. And here, in the “Interview A Blind Woman” post that I have yet to publish, but is coming soon on Wording Well, I am going to adjust the picture of Kerry, to make it a just little bit smaller. So click on the image and you will see two little squares pop up on the left hand side. If you click on the edit option – automatically a window will pop up. Now under the display settings, the first line shows you where the picture is located. Here I have it in the center. And then underneath is the size. And this is the part we are going to focus on.

It’s a dropdown menu, and if we click on it you’ll see there are some pre-set options: thumbnail, medium, large, full size, or custom size. Now we are going to click on Custom Size as sometimes the pre-sets simply aren’t good enough. So if you click Custom Size, underneath you will see the width and the height. We only actually only have to change one of them. WordPress will change the other one for us. From past experience, I know that I can choose 600 to be a good width for my pictures or my images. Now, if you don’t really understand the numbers, that’s okay. You don’t need to. You can learn as you go, through trial and error.

So now that we have selected 600 – because it is square, it is going to be 600 x 600 – we’ll update the post. We will update the image and then save this draft of our post… and once that has been saved, we can take a little preview of it and see if we made a good choice.

So when we preview it, we can see that Kerry’s picture shows up quite nicely within one window screen, and then the post goes on. So we made a good choice.

So let’s move on to the next part, on Laying It Out There, where we are going to deal with a rectangular image.

Here I have chosen a post called “Who I am + How I Became a Self-Published Author,” because you can see my little calling card or online business card is quite small and hard to read. Now because since this post has already been published, we are simply going to click Edit Post and change the size of the image.

So, again, here all we have to do is click on the image – our little boxes come up, we’ll select edit. And because, when we click on our sizes 541 x 247, I am actually not going to check the Custom Size. I will check the Full Size instead, simply because the writing will be more legible than if we were to Custom Size it and make it quite large. And I will show you the difference. So if we Custom Size it to 600, WordPress automatically calculates the height and it looks a little bit blurry. So let’s go back and change it to the Full Size and you can see how the writing is clear here. So we’ll update the post with this nice, new, re-sized image that’s legible, clear, and perfect. And we can just hit View Post to double check.

Excellent.

Okay, now we’re going to look at an image on a free blog of mine, which is Poetry Perfected. It’s on WordPress dot com, and in kind of keeping with the same theme – here is a poem I wrote called “My Blind Friends Taught Me To See” and Kerry is allowing me to use her image once again in this post.

And the only problem is that when we click on it, nothing comes up on the left-hand side. However, we do see a different bar show up on the right where we have our different alignments and the Edit. So we will click on the Edit and we will change this to Custom Size once again.

Although the large is 605 x 605 we could choose that. But we will choose custom size, we’ll go to 600 again. We will update this, and we’ll save our draft. And then once we have our draft saved, we can preview the post and see if we made a good choice.

So here we can see Kerry’s picture, very pretty girl, and underneath, because this is a poem called “My Blind Friends Taught Me To See,” there’s also a picture of Max, but Max’s image right now is really, really small and it is really not fair to him to have such a small image when Kerry’s is so big.

So what we are going to do is go back to this post. We’ll go underneath Kerry and click on Max, and we will edit this image here. So you can see this is just a thumbnail. We’ll go to Custom Size and we will make it … the width as being 500. The height we see is 889. So that is still a little bit big. So let us make this part 600 and then the width will be automatically calculated at 338. We’ll hit Update and let’s take a look and see how this looks.

We’ll save our draft, and then we will preview the post, and if it all looks good, then we are good to go. And yes, it looks perfect. You can see Kerry here, you can see Max here. We can actually make Max’s picture just a tad bit bigger. So let’s go back and edit it once again, and this time we will choose 700 instead of 600 for the height. We’ll update it. We will save our draft, and we’ll will take one final look at the Preview and see if this looks good… see if they kind of balance each other out. And they do.

So there is Kerry, there is Max, and there’s the poem. So that looks like we have made really good choices.

So as you can see, there are different ways you can customize your blog posts. You can choose either a pre-set, custom size, or one of the pre-sets – medium, large, thumbnail, full size, whatever. So there you have it.

So this has been a little tutorial for you. I hope you’ve learned something and don’t forget to stop by Wording Well and grab your free e-book (compliments of me), “20 Blog Post Must-Haves.

You can get it right here.

Thank you so much. Have a good day.

UPDATE:

FYI, An Interview With A Blind Woman has been published.

So has An Interview with a Blind Man.

I hope you have enjoyed this post, How to Customize the Size of Your Blog Post Images #video #tutorial.

Please remember to share it on social media!

Getting Back to Basics with This Darn Blog

loudspeaker horse with an announcement

It has come to my attention – actually, it’s always been in the back of my mind – that my new website is not that great.

I agree.

Are you surprised?

Don’t be.

Remember, I’m still a fairly new blogger; even though I have been doing this blogging thing for over a year now, I have only been a website owner for a mere few months!

Truthfully, it’s exhausting, sometimes, too.

Boring, Basic, Blogging Responsibilities

Before I tell you of my plan for getting back to the basics of blogging on this darn blog, I want to point out that there is a lot of boring work involved in maintaining a website. I don’t like these basic responsibilities, I didn’t expect them, and I didn’t think they would annoy me so much when I asked these numerous questions about moving websites.

I don’t like having to deal with the crappy parts blogging brings, like checking my spam folder for comments that are actual comments and NOT spammy comments, constantly updating all of my plugins, trying to improve the speed of my site, fixing broken links (even a plugin doesn’t do the whole job), and. . . the list goes on and on.

It’s a hassle.

Then there’s the whole promotion of my site.

I don’t like being one of those people who use social media to get discovered. Marketing just isn’t my thing. But it’s all a part of blogging, regardless of who you are and what type of blog you have.

My main problems are that I want to be Superwoman, doing everything myself, and I don’t always know how to do it all. I’m not talking about time management issues here; rather, I’m talking about being the owner of a successful site that provides great content and makes money, too.

I haven’t even started with Adsense or Adwords or whatever the heck it’s called right now.

Instead, I have been learning about some of the new SEO (search engine optimization) methods and even some coding (!) to help me become a better blogger.

And now my head is filled with all sorts of geeky knowledge that has turned my brain to gobbledygook.

In recent months (basically, since moving to my own self-hosted site), I have found myself caring about things that never crossed my mind before. PageRank (PR) was not in my lexicon before I owned a computer! I also didn’t care about it, either, when I had a free blog, until my free blog somehow got rated as having a PR of 2. While this is not great, it’s not that bad, either, for someone blogging on a free platform!

The thing is, I’ve lost sight of why I began blogging to begin with. My recent contact and interview with The Productive Superdad made me reconsider my initial reasons, though.

The secret code?

I have even learned some HTML code! Even though I don’t truly understand how it all works, I have to admit that there are certain instances where knowing certain pieces of code comes in handy.
I can highlight text. (You can, too, with this tutorial!)

I can create boxes to put around the text.
I can change the colors of both the highlighted text and also the colors of the boxes, using hex code, and can combine them, too!

I can create page jumps (and did many in both this tutorial post I wrote as well as in my web hosting guide).

Coding, even though I don’t understand it, is not that hard to do if someone gives you the code to do it! I have to give a shout out Greg Narayan (from Dear Blogger) for providing me with such code. (Thanks, Greg!)

I even created an ebook, 20 Blog Post Must-Haves, which talks about the many different parts of a blog post. You can download it for free when you sign up for my newsletter – another thing I had to learn how to do! (I had to figure out how to make it easily accessible and downloadable!)

Back to Basics

But, getting back to the whole reason why I am writing this right now, and why I began blogging in the first place. . .

Why DID I start blogging?

Everyone has a different reason for creating a blog or a website, and my original reason, basically, was to create an author platform.

Essentially, this meant blogging, getting on social media and connecting with others and somehow obtaining a fan base. It’s kind of strange that I am expected to do all of this without even having a book written! (Yes, two are in the works. Still.)

Of course, I did write a book almost 20 years ago, called The Life and Love of Canadian Poetry: An Interpretative View, but I wrote this for a university course and never expected to make money from it. (If you want to see a video I made about this book, you can watch it here!)

Then I learned of The Writer’s Market – a book that lists just about every publisher there is, along with the types of books that each publishes. Generally, each year’s version is about two inches thick! Yikes. That’s a lot of information!

So far, I own three different volumes. Sigh. Heavy stuff! (Metaphorically AND literally!)

In the 2013 edition of The Writer’s Market, there is a lot of advice about what to do to increase your odds of getting published. I have now done a lot of what was suggested. I started a blog on WordPress, I joined several social media sites and spent months connecting with others and gaining a “following,” and then I even went a step further and got my own hosted website.

After I started blogging, I discovered many different things and got swept up in it all.

But I’ve veered off course from my original goal.

And now, some days, I don’t even want to turn on my computer!

This hurts my heart.

I don’t like feeling this way.

Blogging Basics

Q: How many bloggers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: 100. 1 to change it, and 99 others to tell the first one how it could have been done better.

Giving people what they want is part of blogging. Any blogger will tell you that.

Recently, a discussion I had with Lois (a woman living part of my dream life by taking so many cruises and then blogging about them) revealed to me a few things she didn’t like about my new site.

One of these things was the comment form.

I thought that using the CommentLuv plugin would attract more comments from readers. Ironically, the opposite has happened. Granted, I have never gotten tons of comments on my blog posts like some bloggers I know do, but I did have a lot of interactions with many of my readers.

To rectify this problem, I have now disabled the plugin and am now using the default comment form that is a part of WordPress.

Hopefully, this will make commenting easier!

I have also chosen to moderate comments again so that I can be sure of what is getting posted on my site, and also so that I can ensure I respond to each and every one!

I’m also going to add a more personal touch to my posts and try not to be so serious and informative all the time. Just because I’m a teacher doesn’t mean I should be teaching you things all the time, does it?!?

Naturally, I will share things with you and will still respond to readers’ requests for specific posts – like I did when I wrote the post about how to get free social media buttons for your blog.

I want to help you, too, however I can.

Answering comments and connecting with others is one of my favorite parts of blogging. Some might say, “That’s what social media is for,” (and they are right) but so is writing in a personal blog!

So that’s my plan.

Now, tell me, does this sound good to you?

* * *

P. S. Don’t forget to grab your free ebook: 20 Blog Post Must-Haves. A link will be sent to you once this form has been submitted!

 

Image courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young / FreeDigitalPhotos.net