2019 Goals

I know you can set goals and meet them at any time of the year, but there’s something about the beginning of the year that just seems appropriate. Maybe because it’s an external frame of measurement. Regardless, I do goals instead of resolutions and it works for me.

To provide a frame of reference for my goals, I choose a word for the year. Last year, my word was “Prosperity.” This year, I have two words. The main word is “Intentional” and a supplemental word of “Consistent.”

That said, my goals for the year are:

  1. Launch courses: 40 Days to Creativity and Journal Your Way to Creativity.
  2. Release 12 JEN Enterprises Presents titles (one per month).
  3. Publish RealmWalker: New Beginnings with The Wild Rose Press.
  4. Podcast every other week.
  5. 1 YouTube video a week.
  6. 2 public speaking gigs.
  7. 4 coaching clients.

Every year, I hesitate to make my goals public because “what if I don’t do them?” But the fact that they are public provides some external motivation to get them done.

That’s where I am for goals this year. They are listed in my planner with steps and plans to achieve them.

What about you? Do you make goals or resolutions?

Notebook Challenge

A few days ago, I shared a video from Sarra Cannon of HeartBreathings where she talked about different ways to fill a notebook. At the end of that video, she mentioned a challenge she is doing for herself and anyone who wants to participate.

I’m in.

What’s the challenge? To fill one notebook a month in 2019.

Why am I doing this?

I have a lot of little, pretty notebooks. I start them and don’t finish them. Or I don’t write in them at all because I don’t want to mess them up.

And then I bought more. The picture is a few of them. The first one says, “living my best life.” The second says, “Anything is possible with confidence and cute shoes.” The last one pictured says, “Just put on your favorite lipstick & deal with it.”

I think I’m going to start with the best life one. As for what I’m going to put in it, I need to get back into daily writing practice, so that’s what I’m going to do.

What about you?

Coming Up: Guest Posts

One of the things I have been wanting to do here is to have some guest posts. To that end, I have some coming up pretty soon.  I only have a few currently planned, but if you want to share a post with us, here’s how you can do that:

If you’re interested in writing a guest post for my blog, I’d love to have you. You can check out my site and decide from there. It’s at www.jennippsonline.com.
My focus is on creativity, regardless of what form that may take, whether writing, cooking, painting, or something else. I love hearing about projects people are working on, how they discovered their creativity, and/or their creative process.
Requirements:
  • Posts should be around 500-800 words.
  • Have at least one image.
  • Include a short bio.
  • Provide a link to your blog/website/social media platforms. (If you just have one of these, that’s fine.)
  • Provide a head shot you would like to go with your post (optional).
  • Promote your post anywhere you wish.
  • Check in from time-to-time on the day your post goes live to respond to comments.

What I’ll do:

  • Schedule your post for a future date.
  • Inform you of the projected date.
  • Remind you on the day it goes live.
  • Promote your post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
If you decide this is something you would like to do, you can send it to me at jennippsonline@gmail.com with “Guest Post” in the subject line.

 

Boredom vs. Quiet

Let’s revisit the poll I posted a few days ago. I asked if boredom was necessary for creatives. I didn’t get a lot of response, but that’s OK. I got a couple comments — here and on other social media platforms — that helped me formulate what I want to say.

On my Facebook page, Terri M. said:

I’m not a writer or whatever, BUT I have come up with some of my greatest garden or craft ideas while sitting here doing nothing 

On the poll post, Janet said:

I think a quiet mind is needful to be creative with words. A frantic life seldom produces much. I don’t call it boredom though. Just quiet.

That is, in a nutshell, where I stand. Or sit.

As for the poll, it is still open, but results so far are evenly split between yes and no about boredom being necessary for creatives.

I have never liked being bored. It’s just not me, if that makes sense. I have always, as long as I can remember, had something with me to ensure I am never bored. That may be a pen and paper (even scrap paper in the bottom of my purse or other bag), a book to read, a sketchbook, or something to knit or crochet. I have a cousin who has commented that she has never seen me when I don’t have something to do.

That is intentional.

That is not to say I don’t have quiet time or downtime. I do. I just structure it differently. My quiet time comes in the short meditations I have started doing. It comes in the times when I am knitting or crocheting and the pattern doesn’t require a lot of attention. It comes in doodling in a sketchbook or writing practice/Morning Pages (refer to The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron if this is a new concept to you – I highly recommend that book/study).

Everyone is different. Don’t let anyone tell you that the way you do something or what you call something is wrong. It might be different, but it’s not wrong. Especially if it works for you.

What I call downtime or quiet time may indeed be boredom to someone else. Whatever you call it, it boils down to this: We need to give ourselves time for ideas to form and incubate so we can continue our creative work.  Whatever name you give to that incubation time doesn’t really matter. It’s what you do with the results of it that count.

And who decides if it counts?

You.

Making Money Writing

Photo of reporter’s notebook by grafixtek on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

Yesterday, a friend contacted me on Facebook Messenger with a question.

My daughter is interested in trying to publish a book she’s working on. Short stories and poems. She asked if i knew anyone that did that and of course you popped in my head. If it’s not too personal, can you tell me if you make money doing that? And what the process to do so is?

The thing of it is, there’s no simple answer.

Can you make money writing? Yes and no, because it depends on what you want to write and how much you market yourself. As a preliminary, I told her this:

The short answer is that some types of writing can and do make money. I haven’t made much because marketing intimidates the hell out of me. Even the big names have to do self-promotion. As for how to do it, take a look at CreateSpace.com. They’re pretty easy to use. The way I do it with their self-guided process doesn’t cost anything unless I order books.

Yes, I know marketing shouldn’t intimidate me. That’s really not the point here. (Plus I’m working on that and getting better at it.)

One of the biggest things to remember is that writing is just the beginning of the work. How many revisions and edits you go through will vary from project to project. And then there’s the whole publishing process.

Now, like I said in my original answer to my friend, most of my stuff is published using CreateSpace, so I follow the process laid out in their self-guided system. I don’t talk to anyone in customer support, so it doesn’t cost me anything until I order books.

I almost said the work of marketing/self-promotion starts then, but, really, you need to be doing that all along. Be talking about it on your social media platform(s). I mainly use Twitter and Facebook, but I do occasionally post writing-related stuff, especially when I have a new book out, on LinkedIn. The more you talk about it, the more interest you generate, which will (hopefully) translate into sales down the road.

Take a lesson from me: Don’t be shy about marketing and self-promotion. Most of the big names even have to promote themselves. Except maybe Stephen King.

So, what makes the most money?

Mostly, nonfiction. Followed by romance. I did a Google search on the question “what kind of writing makes the most money?” Just click the link to see the search results.

The funny thing (to me) about the timing of this question is that I’ve been thinking about that. Making money writing.

A few years ago, I taught a class through the community education program at the local college. The name of it? “Make Money Writing.” In it, I talked mostly about writing for magazines, the query process, researching articles, finding other resources, etc. I’ve been thinking about moving that online, either as a video course or an email series.

Let me know if there’s any interest in that and which format would be best.

I promised my friend a list of resources. I’ve been thinking about how to narrow that down because I have enough that I could probably fill a book with just links. I’ve decided to just list the top 5. Links will open in a new window. If you have a pop-up blocker, hold the Ctrl key down when you click it so it will open.

Resources:
Writer’s Digest
CreateSpace
Purdue Online Writing Lab
Ralan (market listing)
Help a Reporter (more for nonfiction, though can be useful for fiction)

There are a lot more I could add, but the sheer mountain of information available just from these resources can be overwhelming enough.

By the way, in speaking of making money writing, the type of writing that traditionally makes the least amount of money?

Poetry.

However, with that said, if you’re just writing for the money, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.

Happy creating.

5 Ways to Market Yourself as a Freelancer

Note: The other day, I was going through some files and found a few articles that had been assigned to me by a website but were never published. This is one of those.

business cardsSuccess as a freelancer, whether writing, graphic design, etc., depends on self-promotion. Many of us were taught as children that it is considered impolite to brag about ourselves. However, that is exactly what we need to do as freelancers.

Here are five ways to promote yourself as a freelancer:

  1. Develop (and maintain) a web site. An outdated website does you no favors. Take the time to keep your site updated. Include a list of projects you completed in the past, with links when possible. You might think no one looks at your site, but it is a valuable tool you can use to let prospective clients know what you can do and see examples of your work.
  2. A web site is basically static. A blog is regularly updated. Ideally, keep your blog relevant to the work you do. Prospective clients use search engines, such as Google, to search for people who work in the field. Their search could lead to your blog. Keeping it updated regularly, at least twice a week, and talking about your freelance work can push your blog higher up in the search engine rankings. The higher your ranking is, the more likely it is someone will find, and ultimately hire, you. There is a caveat here: Never complain about clients on your blog. They will find out and word will get around. Keep it friendly yet professional.
  3. Create an e-mail signature. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you have a computer and an e-mail address. Even free e-mail addresses allow you to have a signature file. Include your name, preferably both first and last, a title, and a link to somewhere people can see samples of your work, whether a web site or a blog. Put it at the bottom of every e-mail you send.
  4. Network online and in person. If you work primarily with local businesses, join local civic organizations and consider joining the Chamber of Commerce. Go to meetings and Chamber events to network. Take business cards with you and hand them out. Remind people of what you do. Even if you work with local businesses, network online as well. Web sites such as Twitter provide opportunities to network with other professionals in your field, learning opportunities (there are numerous chats on Twitter, for example), and interaction with potential clients.
  5. Invest in business cards and brochures. Even in the Internet age, every freelancer needs business cards for self-promotion. Brochures might be able to be replaced by web sites, but only if they’re current. Sites such as VistaPrint offer free business cards if you pay shipping. Business cards are necessary to have on hand for civic organization meetings, Chamber of Commerce events, and professional conferences. Include your name, title, web site address, and best way to contact you on the cards.

There are more ways to promote yourself as a freelancer. Word-of-mouth also works well. The above are five of the most effective methods of self-promotion and can bring you success if you use them and follow up on any leads and assignments you receive.

Tips for Effective Interviews

Photo of reporter's notebook by grafixtek on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.
Photo of reporter’s notebook by grafixtek on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license.

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that I’m working with the local newspaper on some articles. I’ve been doing several interviews because of that. In the process, I’ve learned — or rediscovered — some things.

  • Have at least 10 questions ready.
    I have discovered that if I go in with fewer than 10 questions, I don’t get enough usable material. I struggled to pull articles together. Once I figured out that I needed to ask more to get more, it became easier. One thing, though: If you ask a closed question, one that can be answered with a simple yes or no answer, ask another open question where they have to elaborate. Or ask why.
  • Treat the interview more like a conversation.
    If you go in acting like this is a formal interview, your source will be stiff and uncomfortable. They won’t open up the way you need them to. If they don;t open up, you get short answers. Getting them to open up is key to getting them to talk more about the subject at hand. Don’t be afraid to let them go on a tangent. You might be surprised at how relevant it turns out to be later on.
  • Take notes.
    Taking notes is important. It shows your source that you take them seriously and believe they will have something good to say that you will want to remember. I advocate taking notes even if you are recording your interview because batteries die and — particularly with digital recorders — recordings can be deleted or become corrupted.
  • When possible, record the interview.
    When you take notes, you use abbreviations. Sometimes you don’t remember what those abbreviations mean when you go to transcribe your notes. It is also possible that there will be too much information to take adequate notes and you risk losing a good quote if you’re not recording. There will be times when your source won’t want to be recorded, though, and you have to respect that.
  • Be gracious.
    People are busy. Be sure and thank them for taking the time to meet with you. If possible, follow up with a thank-you note, especially if it was a “big” interview.

There you have it. These are just a few of the things I’ve learned/rediscovered while doing interviews over the past month. Hopefully you get some benefit from it.