Category Archives: advice

How to Respond to Writing Job Ads on Craigslist

I will be the first to point out that there’s a high signal-to-noise ratio on Craigslist, especially for writers. That said, you can sometimes find real opportunities there, and I’d caution new writers against dismissing it out of hand. When I worked as Managing Editor at, I once put out a call for writers that had almost no effect other than making me laugh. I did manage to hire one good writer, but a good 90% of the responses I got went instantly into the trash. Here’s why:

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The Beginning Writer: Query Basics

Your Query: Five Mistakes That Scream-Amateur!

by Catherine L. Tully & Joe Wallace

Getting started in non-fiction freelance writing is not a simple task. Once you have gotten a few articles published, you begin to get a feel for what to say and how to submit query letters.  In the beginning however, it is easy to make simple mistakes that can brand you as an amateur in an editor’s eyes. You don’t want to get a bad reputation before you even get an assignment! Here are five things that would let an editor know immediately that you have little or no experience in the writing field: Continue reading The Beginning Writer: Query Basics

Digital Photography For The Writer

by Catherine L. Tully 

Finding new ways to make money in the writing game can be difficult, but with a little creativity and a fresh idea, you can add more than a couple of dollars to your work output. Being able to supply photographs for pieces you have written can endear you to an editor, make you extra cash and even has the possibly of turning into another side job for you down the line. Here are some basics to help get you started… Continue reading Digital Photography For The Writer

Five Ways to Diversify Your Writing Portfolio

In case you haven’t figured it out just by reading a few of these blog entries, I like reading Folio. Even as a freelancer, I find this magazine-centric site filled from top to bottom with useful and interesting content. Take Folio blogger Mark Newman’s recent entry, You Will Be Fired. Newman’s advice is aimed at people making careers in magazine publishing, but his excellent advice should also be required reading for anyone aspiring to make a go at freelancing full time. Newman compares the writer’s collection of published clips to a stock portfolio.

In the investment world, people who don’t diversify get killed. The same goes for freelance writers. Sure, you could spend a good deal of time writing nothing but articles about Creative Anachronism, how to make your own swords, and what to wear to the renaissance faire. You could also spend a lot of time sticking your thumb up your nose wondering why you only sell five to ten pieces per year.

Here are some ways you can branch out, flex your creative muscles, and try to pitch ideas to new markets you never even thought of touching before. Some of these ideas are certifiably nutty, and by design. The purpose is to get you thinking about your own work in ways you’re not used to:

5. Make a list of your topics of expertise. Now take each part of your list and find a secondary topic that is informed by your actual expertise. A good example–if you have a lot of experience writing about art, chances are you’ve got a lot of solid information about how artists go about promoting themselves. You can start writing pieces about PR and marketing using what you’ve learned from your art writing. The key is to play up the artist-as-relentless-self-marketer angle.  Apply this idea to every entry in your list. You’ll be shocked at what you learn about yourself.

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Are You Being Scammed? Warning Signs for Writers

Any freelancer in the game for longer than say, five seconds, has run into scams specifically designed to lure writers and those who want to be writers.  Some of these are direct rip-offs of your time or your work. Others aren’t deliberately out to hurt you but are run by people who are clueless about how the writing business works. Either way, it doesn’t really matter since the bottom line is wasted time, money and resources.

One example of a dubious publishing model is reported by Storycrafters, which ran complaints about a shady-sounding “get published” scheme at a website called Naturally I’d be willing to give both sides the benefit of  the doubt, but the publisher of ZootyandFlappers went on an ill-considered written rampage against “writers beware” site Preditors and Editors. Bad move, that.  The Bard springs to mind here, the lady doth protest too much.

I’ll try my best not to comment specifically on At publishing time, I don’t know whether it’s a scam site or not. I’d be a liar if I didn’t say it sounds dogdy, but I have reasons I’ll get to in a moment. For me the jury is out because I just don’t know enough, but I know when I smell a rat–and there is a definite rodent bouquet in the air over this particular controversy. With that in mind, here are my own personal warning signs that absolutely scream “STAY AWAY”.

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