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

FITS Series Welcome Image


Today’s “Freelancer In The Spotlight” is Corinne Kerston. You’re going to learn a lot from her, so get ready to dive in!

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Corinne Kerston head shot

Take it away, Corinne!

How I Stumbled Into the Freelancing Field

For someone who grew up writing poems and reading all the time, I actually stumbled into freelance writing by chance.

I graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in English, and immediately began applying anywhere and everywhere. I landed a job as an accountant for a local Property Management company. Because that makes sense, right? I won’t be all dramatic and say I was miserable, because I wasn’t. I was earning a steady paycheck and I was satisfied.

And then I had kids and my outlook completely changed.

After I had my first child in 2007, I continued to work full-time. But I felt like I was missing everything. I missed her first steps, her first words. So when I became pregnant with my 2nd child, I decided I would stay home.

I still had no idea that I could write for a living. I know … I don’t have a clue how I didn’t figure this out yet. I began looking at work-at-home jobs. I knew a medical transcriptionist who worked from home, and I thought that was a viable option.

Then I met a freelance writer on a cloth-diapering forum of all places. I was intrigued! I had my “duh Corinne!” moment, wondered why I hadn’t thought of writing before and messaged her about her career. I wanted to know more! She had a webinar on breaking into ghostwriting and she offered it to me for free.

See, I told you I totally stumbled into this career by chance. And I’m so grateful I did.

Beginning My Freelancing and Writing Career

I started writing for a few clients in late 2010 shortly before my son was born. By the time he was born, I had a couple blogging clients and I was writing for some content mills. The money wasn’t great, but hey, I was earning money and staying home with my kids. I was ecstatic.

Since then, I’ve grown as an online writer, as a blogger, as a marketer and a business person. I have ditched the content mills for good. I even self-published a few eBooks, including Start Your Freelance Writing Career: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started Working From Home.

Corinne's ebook cover

Here are some of the gems I have learned along the way.

Top 5 Freelancing Tips from Corinne

1: Pick a Niche.

In the freelancing world, there are generalists and there are specialists. I find generalizing may open you up to a whole bunch of different types of clients, but specializing allows you to command higher rates. To pick a niche, look at what you are good at, things you enjoy and areas you have experience in.

2: Have a website.

I can’t stress this enough. Have a website! It’s essential. How else are you going to show potential clients how great your writing it? While you are at it, how about adding a blog? A blog can act as your samples, but also as helps with traffic and getting readers to your site.

3: Get samples up right away.

Even if you’re just starting out, you can find samples. Use old papers you wrote, write free reports, self-publish articles on article submission sites, or do pro bono work. Yes, you won’t be getting paid for your writing at this point, but you will build a great portfolio so that you will land those money-paying jobs.

4: Don’t be afraid to ask what you’re worth.

‘Cause you are worth it.

Don’t get in the mindset of comparing yourself to other writers or other bloggers, because you’re not them. If you know your writing is worth it, set your asking price fairly high. Of course, use some business common sense. If you’re just breaking into an industry and have no experience whatsoever, you can’t very well ask $200 a blog post. But, once you have established yourself as a writer, earned some street cred, you can most certainly raise your prices.

5: Get it in writing.

Contracts are gold when you freelance. I have learned this hard way. Contracts don’t only protect you, but they also protect your client. You can easily write up a simple contract yourself, just make sure that you include things like your agreed-upon price and payment terms, what you will be writing, how many words, when you are expected to turn it in, if any edits are included and any other expectations. Make it impossible for the client to spring extra work on your without renegotiating your contract. Include privacy and rights to content clauses to protect your clients and a contract is a win-win for everyone.


Now it’s your turn:

How did you break into freelance writing?

Did you always dream of writing as a career or did you just stumble into it, too?

Corinne’s freelancing “must haves” are samples, a website, and a contract. What are yours?

Share your thoughts, story, and/or answers in the comments, and please thank Corinne publicly for sharing her awesomeness 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 Alicia Rades

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.

Corinne Kerston is a professional writer and blogger. She is also a mom, wife, chef, chauffeur, nurse and whatever else her family needs her to be at the moment. Check out her Kindle book about breaking into freelance writing, Start Your Freelance Writing Career: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started Working From Home. Connect with her on her website or Twitter.

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

FITS Series Welcome Image

Ali Luke is the “Freelancer In The Spotlight” today, as part of the F.I.T.S. (Freelancer In The Spotlight) Series on Wording Well.

She’s been freelancing for years, has created many wonderful things for writers and bloggers (including a membership site and some e-books), and is my special guest this week.

We’re lucky to have her here, and I would love it if you’d take a moment right now to show her some appreciation for being here by Tweeting the following message.

Now please welcome Ali Luke to center stage.


Take it away, Ali!

How Ali Got Involved in Freelance Writing

I started freelancing by accident. Six years in, I’m still going strong.

Back at the start of 2008, I’d launched a blog that – rather naïvely – I hoped would quickly gather hordes of readers and bring in loads of money.

Of course, the reality was a little different:  it took me eleven months to get my first Google AdSense cheque from that blog.

But early on, I tried guest posting to get more traffic. The very first blog I wrote for happened to be looking for paid writers. I still remember how I felt when I got an email from the editor asking if I’d like to write a couple of posts a week for them, at $20 a post. I hadn’t even realized freelance blogging existed and – even though I charge a lot more these days – I was delighted by the money I could earn.

Of course, I was lucky. Freelancing jobs don’t normally appear in your inbox just like that (as I found over the next few months and years), but gradually, I built up my freelancing work, and was able to quit my day job about six months after getting that first paying gig.

Since then, I’ve added extra income streams, too – ones that don’t just get me paid per hour. I sell a series of Blogger’s Guide e-books and run a teaching/community site for writers, Writers’ Huddle. In the past, I’ve also worked one-on-one with writers as a coach, and run stand-alone e-courses. Read More

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

FITS Series Welcome Image

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!

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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.

Read More

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

FITS Series Welcome Image

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

FITS Series Welcome Image
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. 😉