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

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I’m continuing the F.I.T.S. (Freelancer In The Spotlight) Series on Wording Well, and the “Freelancer In The Spotlight” today is Brian Morris, who is also an author!

Did you pick up your free gift yet? Get it when you subscribe to my author newsletter.

Now please welcome Brian Morris to center stage. 😉

Take it away, Brian!

Brian Morris photo

Focus On the Noose

“Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight,” Samuel Johnson once said, “it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”

But frequently, we don’t get that much warning.

A couple of years ago, I worked for a local utility company.  One day, I was called into a meeting with the regional head of HR who told me what a terrific employee I was, what great knowledge I brought to the job and hoped that I could find another job where I could use 11 years worth of crazy mad office skills.

With the gallows looming (loss of income, loss of house, loss of a reason to put on my trousers every weekday), I knew it was time to go from part-time writing dilettante to full-time freelancing.

I liked the idea of a direct link between my efforts and my rewards and of being my own boss.  The idea of not having to put on trousers or shave ever day was appealing too, but that’s another issue.  Also, if I wrote some books, the books would sell online while I slept.  The idea of a passive income stream was VERY appealing.

A couple of years later, I’ve now got a couple of books out, writing two more, waiting on one to be formatted and published, and working towards publishing another written by a friend.  I also have a Facebook page where I encourage my friends to take up writing seriously and share information.  Of course I do this with my copious amounts of spare time because at the time I’m writing this, I’m also moving into another time zone and trying to rectify everything I’ve neglected to take care of in the old home.

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

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This week, the “Freelancer In The Spotlight” today is Harleena Singh.

First, a few words from me… about Harleena

Harleena Singh is a freelance writer and blogger. She loves to write on a diversity of topics on her multi-niche life blog, Aha!NOW, which focuses on self-development and self-help with an aim to help you bring happiness into your life.

But she’s so much more than that. She’s also a mom, a teacher, and a truly awesome person!

Harleena Singh is a qualified teacher and started her career as a classroom teacher in private schools. She has a graduate degree in Commerce, postgraduate degree in English, and a professional degree in Education.

Harleena has also served as an administrator of a small private school, where she polished her management and organizational skills. It was after her stint as a full-time working teacher and manager that she decided to stay at home and start freelance writing, with the aim to be there for her growing kids.

~ excerpt taken from Harleena Singh, The Commenting Superstar & Proficient Writer!

Harleena Singh photo


Take it away, Harleena!

Thank you, Lorraine, for this wonderful opportunity to share my story with your readers, and although it’s nothing much, but perhaps it might help someone. 🙂

*Her modesty is one of the things I love about Harleena. 😉

My story, background, and how I got into freelancing

For me, it was routine to teach English to primary and elementary school children. I enjoyed imparting knowledge to the young ones, which was not limited to the grammar and literature of the foreign language.

My brief tenure as a teacher was one of my best life experiences. Though teaching came naturally to me, as part of professional teaching, I had to plan my lessons, execute them effectively, and look after the all-round development of the children.

However, I could not carry on teaching in schools for a long time. I had previously acted as the administrator of a small school, which was interesting and enjoyable too, but unfortunately, I had to leave that job because it demanded too much of my time. More so, I wanted to spend quality time with my growing kids and be there for them.

I did not want them to compromise in any way with their studies, so I decided to stay at home and look for some challenging job that interested me, something that didn’t require me to step out of my house.

It was then that my sister informed me about freelance writing that she was doing, and asked if I wanted to join as well. My sister is a good writer and unlike me, always scribbles lines of poetry or short stories, and has, ever since she was in school. In fact, I believe, we both inherited the writing genes from our mother, who also loved writing and had a flair for it. Now, even my Dad writes, though mainly for papers and journals – so it runs in our family! 🙂

I initially hesitated and doubted if I could at all write, not having written for years. I mean the writing I used to do in school and college was completely different from that required by the clients. You can call it the “commercial” writing. Nevertheless, I went ahead and started with freelance writing, though initially, I kept my rates quite low.

I gradually learned the art of researching and writing articles on topics given to me by the clients, which also included keyword research.

Not surprisingly, I loved freelance writing and had fun completing my assignments, which my clients appreciated a lot. That was a few years down the lane. Since then, I worked day and night on my writing assignments and improved my writing skills. Most of my clients were American so perhaps that helped me further.

My clients asked for SEO and keyword-rich articles. So, first I had to find out what these terms were and I “Googled” about them to reach to the right resource sites. Google has been my best friend and guide in doing research for all the articles and even the blog posts that I write.

4 Main Lessons Learned

The lessons I learned during my initial days of freelance writing helped me become proficient in my work and make a name for myself in the freelancing world. I will enumerate a few of them hoping they will help the newbie freelancers.

1: Planning is platinum

It is very important to chalk out or plan your workday and the assignments to meet the deadlines. No matter what, writers and even bloggers need to respect deadlines. You need to remember that your clients or readers will not pay heed to your reasons, which will merely be excuses for them. Planning is precious.

2: Research is golden

Pour yourself wholly into the research of your topic and drench yourself fully with the knowledge such that every word you write drips off information, and make it worthy to read. A well-researched article will even eclipse an article written by a literary expert when it comes to commercial writing. Read More

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

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Today we are continuing with the F.I.T.S. (Freelancer In The Spotlight) Series on Wording Well, and the “Freelancer In The Spotlight” today is Crystal Nay.

NOTE: Due to my recent announcement, I’m going to be blogging my True Tales Tuesdays posts on Lorraine Reguly: Laying It Out There, so if you’re a reader who loves those type of posts, then please subscribe to my author newsletter. You’ll get a free gift when you do! 😉

Now please welcome Crystal Nay to center stage.

Take it away, Crystal!

Crystal Nay


Writing Perks?

There’s a perk to introducing yourself as a writer: people automatically think you’re smart. They also think you’re whimsical, an idealist, and uncommitted. But, then they think you’re an alcoholic, a pessimist, a paper-hoarder who unleashes nonsensical thoughts on Twitter because, well, no one can stop you from speaking your piece.

Well, joke’s on them. We’re not all alcoholics.

Hell, I’m not even on Twitter… yet.

If you haven’t figured it out already, the life of a freelance writer is an interesting one. But, it’s not necessarily because it is so, but because we make it so. Writers have a keen eye and a tuned ear that not only notices things others might not, but can also take seemingly mundane things and turn them into things worth noting.

Such is the power of words. Or a constant and desperate need to be entertained. Your choice.

And, let’s be real: sometimes we sound super awesome. We can’t even believe we wrote such amazing copy or prose. Sometimes we sound super idiotic. It’s all par for the writing course.

(Sometimes we even use lame clichés that, for some reason, we don’t bother removing even though we know we should.)

I don’t remember the first time I heard the word “freelancer.” I can’t recall when I first decided to pursue freelance writing as my work, let alone actually do it or introduce myself as such.

To be honest, I can’t recall exactly when I first began writing. I don’t want to be that person—the one who starts off with saying she’s been writing since she could first scribble sentences. But, guess what? I am that person.

I wrote a poem during class in the third grade. My teacher loved it; my mother loved it. Somehow, it ended up typed up and on the walls of all my teachers’ classrooms. (Thanks, Mom.) Without my pencil and a sheet of paper, I felt like I wasn’t me.

I was that kid who carried a backpack that was much too heavy because it was filled with binders of my latest masterpieces, each page handwritten on lined paper and inserted into a separate plastic sleeve. “Crystal, how many pages so far?” 42. “How about now?” 96. “How many now?” 217. My friends begged to be added as characters. They didn’t care if the story was about a princess who was now an orphan and running the streets. They didn’t mind that another was about a girl who gets lost in the woods while camping with her family and must learn to survive on her own.

They certainly didn’t notice I apparently had a thing for girls being badass and being able to fend for themselves.

Turns out, I would be able to relate to that more as an adult than I ever thought I would have to. But one thing remained my constant, and that was writing.

In keeping this—my love, my craft, the thing that occasionally causes me to forget to feed my sassy and independent young daughter—my constant, there were a few lessons I learned and feel would be handy pearls of wisdom for other writers.

4 Valuable Freelancing Lessons Learned

1: Be a Writer. No, seriously. BE a Writer.

If you’re going to walk around touting that you are a writer, you had better be a writer. Some fancy spoken words, and cute/handsome purple plaid scarf paired with and adorable/handsome gray pea coat and smart-looking glasses does not a writer make. Neither does someone who walks around whining all the time about how they just want to be a writer, but aren’t doing it. If you’re going to be a writer, BE a writer.

Writers are neurotic. They are crazy people who have strange observations and even more entertaining opinions. (Don’t deny it!) We scribble ideas on envelopes and napkins, on parking tickets and on our children’s foreheads.

For the longest time, I knew in my gut that I was a writer, but I always pushed it off. I always tried to ignore it, but it was the one thing that NEVER went away. I could never stop writing, could never stop thinking about writing. Even still, I sometimes try to push it away. It doesn’t go away.

Why? Because I’m a writer.

Just own it already!    

2: Tell People You’re a Writer, and then Explain What That Means

Yes, it seems rather self-explanatory. If you’re a dog groomer, you must groom dogs. If you’re an office assistant, you must assist in the office. If you’re an IRS agent, you must… Anyway, if you’re a writer, you’d think people would put it together that you must write. Truth is, they often don’t. When you throw in a fancy word like “freelance” people get a little confused. So, without sounding condescending, explain it.

There’s good reason for this. I’ve had many referrals come from people who didn’t know what I—a freelance writer—did. But, once I explained it to them, these people would pass on my name and business card to their contacts on my behalf.

If you’re working another job, tell people you write. If you’re at a mixer, tell people you write. If you’re stuck house-sitting your best friend’s four dogs, tell the dogs you’re not a dog-sitter, you’re a writer. (That last example is purely cathartic.)

3: Your Least Favorite Clips Just Might Be Your Best-Showing Pieces

One of the first travel pieces I wrote was for the local newspaper of a small, coastal town in Oregon. I was introduced to the owner of the local—and only—used bookstore. It was a great spot with a lot of local, Oregon hippy history, and the shop owner also happened to be the guy who ran the paper. There was a whole lot of “localness” happening. I knew I wanted to write something for him, and I knew what I wanted it to be.

Before I mentioned anything to him, he said to me, “You know, I’d love to have you write something for the paper. I think it would be neat if you wrote something that juxtaposed our coast with your coast.”

I instantly liked this man; he had read my mind exactly. And, he used the word “juxtaposed” in casual conversation, which can make any word enthusiast swoon.

The bookseller featured my piece for quite some time. It garnered favorable reviews, but also criticism simply because it was written by a Californian. But, I always use it as a clip. It’s different from the clips I usually include, and while I always think editors won’t much care for it, they often come back to me saying that was the piece they most enjoyed.

4: Carve Your Own Path, for You

This, I think, has been one of the hardest things I’ve learned—and probably you, too—simply because there is only one way to learn it: the hard way. Two writers might end up at the same magazine or newspaper or TV show, but no two writers arrived there the same way. There is SO much information out there for writers, from how to get started to how to get clients to how to retire off writing the best skywriting copy.  Well, maybe not that last one, but I think I may be onto something…

My point is, there is a lot to filter through, and you’ll quickly realize that a lot of it is contradictory. Write what you know; don’t write what you know. Tech is the place to be; healthcare is the place to be. White papers are awesome; white papers suck.

No one else is living your life, and no one else is navigating your career. Both belong to you. So you scramble for a bit trying to figure out where your niche is. So what? So you can’t pay all your bills on time right now. Neither can most people, and A LOT of successful writers went through the very same thing. Your path won’t look like mine, nor mine like yours. Or any other writer’s for that matter. And, honestly, we’re all probably better for it.

So, tell people you’re a writer and let them think you’re smart. Be whimsical and idealistic and uncommitted. Be a pessimist, a paper hoarder, and drink responsibly. Unleash your nonsensical thoughts on Twitter. Come read mine. We can share our writer neuroses.

Hmm… guess I should join Twitter…


Do you think you have to follow someone else’s writing path to obtain one of your own?

What does your writing journey look like?

Do you have clips you hate – but others simply love?

Share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in the comment section!

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 Alicia Rades

“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 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.

Crystal Nay is a freelance writer, tree-cloning enthusiast, and mother to a hilarious and sassy miniature version of herself. She loves to learn about people by asking them things she probably shouldn’t. She has never dyed her hair. Ever. You can visit her website at http://www.crystalnay.com/ and check to see if she’s finally joined Twitter. 😉

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

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This week we are continuing with the F.I.T.S. (Freelancer In The Spotlight) Series on Wording Well, and the “Freelancer In The Spotlight” today is Christy Birmingham.

Did you pick up your free gift yet? Get it when you subscribe to my author newsletter.

Now please welcome Christy Birmingham to center stage. 😉

Take it away, Christy! 🙂

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The Ups and Downs of the Freelance Writing Field

After working in a range of jobs from a chocolate factory line worker to manning the front desk of a bustling office, I decided to take the plunge into a freelance writing career. That was two-and-a-half years ago, and the journey has been one full of ups and downs.

I like to focus on the ‘ups’ but, of course, there have been a mix of good and bad experiences during the last few years. I hear ‘that is normal’ from other writers, although many people I know pursue their writing dreams outside of their day job or have a partner who contributes to the home income. As for me, it is ME alone who pays my bills, and I do so from writing online.

How and Why I Became a Freelance Writer

I took the path of freelance writing as my career because, after emerging from a long bout of depression and anxiety, I wanted to pursue my dream of being a writer. I had thought about it before but never taken the risk – and  do not get me wrong, it IS risky! I decided that if I didn’t try it, I would have regrets, and I had seen my share of those already in my life. So, even if I tried and didn’t succeed, well, at least I had made the effort. That said, I went for it, with hands to keyboard!

The start was tough, let me tell you. I had no clue what current writing rates were and often short-changed myself, accepting rates lower than Canada’s minimum wage just to be able to get work from clients. I worked every single day and often very long hours. I continued that way for about a year and tried to figure out what to specialize in for writing tasks and topics. I changed from focusing on social media tips to health tips to … well, now I do a lot of writing for a range of business websites, producing content for their websites and blogs. I also take days off now and then to recharge my batteries and keep writer burnout far away.

The Changes I Made After the First Year: Tips To Raising Rates

After a tough first year in the freelance writing industry, I took a step back and thought about why I was not able to get ahead financially or get more balance in my working hours. When I took that step back, I saw that I was getting excellent feedback on my writing projects from clients most of the time and was even starting to get referrals to new clients. With that in mind, I realized it would be wise to raise my rates, as my work quality spoke for itself. Read More

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

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This week we are continuing with the F.I.T.S. (Freelancer In The Spotlight) Series on Wording Well, and the “Freelancer In The Spotlight” today is Tom Bentley.

Did you pick up your free gift yet? Get it when you subscribe to my author newsletter.

Take it away, Tom!

picture of Tom Bentley


Tom’s Early Years

When I was seven or eight years old, I’d walk to the nearby public library, and go into the section on dinosaurs. I would lie in the aisle for hours, surrounded by scattered stacks of books, driving through a landscape of imagination, fueled by words. At first, I was simply thrilled by the stories of the great beasts, but after a time, I began to realize that I was taken by the words themselves—Jurassic, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus—and would say them softly aloud.

Many, many books later, it began to dawn on me that books were the conscious, choice-making work of authors. I started to fathom that a writer employed tools, framed a composition, shaped its architecture. Deeper yet, that writing had a voice, that it was animated by a current.

When I was twelve years old, I was swimming in the ocean when I was tugged out by a small rip current that took me, amidst slamming waves, against the supports of a public pier. I screamed for help at the people looking down at me; no one seemed to react. I was terrified that I would die, while enraged that no one cared. In my agitation, I didn’t know that someone had called a lifeguard, who quickly rescued me.

Months later, for a class assignment, I wrote an essay in which I described in detail my fear, fury and despair. My teacher later read the story aloud, saying it was a vivid slice of life. At the end of the year, the school handed out student awards, and I was given a little cloisonné pin that said “Best Writer.” I knew before then that writing had an unusual power over me, but the commendation told me that language, even my language, could hold sway over others as well.

More and more, I came to see that the world of imagination is the biggest world there is, and that a writer can write to see the unexpected, to know the hidden, to do as Asimov suggested and “think through his fingers.” And that words can be so sensual you want to lick them.

Storytellers Everywhere

I saw evidence everywhere that people were storytellers. They have been storytellers for ages, whether the words were inscribed on resistant stone, delivered in a lilting voice or caught in an electronic dance. I knew I wanted to be a storyteller too. However, I was still striking the anvil of ideas with brute blows, yet to learn the deft stitchings and tight knots in narrative’s fabric. But I wasn’t discouraged enough not to write.

One of my favorite F. Scott Fitzgerald quotes goes, “My own happiness in the past often approached such an ecstasy that I could not share it even with the person dearest to me but had to walk it away in quiet streets and lanes with only fragments of it to distill into little lines in books.”

Tom’s Writing Background

I thought of those words when, 25 years ago, the San Francisco Chronicle accepted my article on my long correspondence with the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, publishing it in the beloved Sunday Punch section. I bought 10 copies, and sat on a bench in Golden Gate Park just staring at my byline, not even reading the article. Sitting on that bench, in my quiet ecstasy, I knew my little lines weren’t literature, not the stuff of Lear’s stormy fulminations, of Conrad’s lurid Congo, of Twain’s beckoning twang, but for me, word magic enough. That essay’s publication made me feel like I might be, was becoming, could be a writer.

Ten years later, receiving a beautiful glass plaque (and a tidy sum of money) for winning the National Steinbeck Center’s short story contest, I was sure I was a writer, but I wasn’t convinced that I would ever be a great writer. Now, I know I am a writer, and I can leave the “great” part for someone else to ponder. I know that my best writing is yet to come. Read More