All posts by Catherine L. Tully

Catherine L. Tully is a writer, photographer and educator. She has been published in magazines such as American Style, Boys' Life and Chicagoland Business Elite among many others. See more about her at www.catherineltully.com or view her photography at www.moonbeamdigital.com.

Specialization And The Writer

by Catherine L. Tully

Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully

Today, we’re going to talk about specialization.

Most of the time, writers are told that they need to be flexible. That they need to be able to write about anything. That isn’t exactly false–after all–if you can write about a wide range of topics, there may well be more jobs available to you. But it can work the other way around as well…

Specializing in a certain subject can make sense. When you specialize, you become known in various circles in that area. This can mean people will start approaching you for jobs, rather than the other way around. And that is a really nice thing.

Specializing makes sense if you are an expert in a certain field, or if there is a topic you are truly passionate about. For me, dance is both a subject I know a lot about, and something I love to write about, learn about and share information about. I have a dance blog, and it has become my main work arena. I’ve had dance articles published in major magazines, and even have a content partnership with The Huffington Post.

I know. It’s crazy.

So…specialization has worked for me. Can it work for you?

Is there an area you think you could carve out a niche in? What do you love? What do you spend your time doing, or thinking about doing? What do you know more about than anyone else you know?

These are some of the questions you can ask yourself if you’re trying to decide if specialization is for you. It isn’t for everyone, but if there is a spot you can fill–it can be a wonderful thing.

Anyone else out there specializing? How’s that working for you?

The Organized Writer: Electronic Or Paper?

by Catherine L. Tully

1238333_63708366Since it’s the beginning of the year, I thought we’d talk a bit about organization. How do you stay organized? Do you write everything down–or are you among those who use your computer or phone to keep you on task?

Organization is crucial for the freelance writer. Let’s face it–nobody else is there to keep track of anything, so if you don’t do it, it gets lost in the shuffle. Not good for business. Having a system is a vital part of keeping things straight, but everyone has their own way of doing this…

I guess I’m old-school. I use a desk calendar and notebook organizer to keep everything straight. All my posts, deadlines and such are chronicled there for easy viewing. I just haven’t been able to make the switch to an electronic system. Or, perhaps I should say, I just haven’t found one that works for me.

I’m a strategic thinker–someone who needs to see the whole month at one time. That’s why the desk calendar works so well in my system. If I look at bits and pieces, it confuses me.

I’d love to hear from writers out there…do you use a smartphone to load your deadlines? Or perhaps you utilize Outlook’s calendar system to remind you of things…

Then again, you may just be old school like me…

Happy 2013!

We’re taking a time-0ut and wishing all our readers a very happy New Year! May 2013 bring you closer to all your ultimate writing goals. It has been an honor to be a part of your journey. Keep an eye out for more from our wonderful columnists and a guest post or two that might just surprise you…

We look forward to serving you in the coming year and hope you have a happy, safe celebration!

Helping Another Writer = Good Karma

by Catherine L. Tully

Catherine L. Tully
Editor, Catherine L. Tully

It may seem counter-intuitive, but helping another writer get work can actually bring you good writing karma.

Many writers I know are reluctant to share information they come across about jobs in the field. There’s always this feeling that you should keep it to yourself–just in case you need it.

I take another approach…

If I hear of a job I can’t take on – I pass it along to another writer who I know is deserving. Now…that is where you have to use sound judgement…you don’t want a recommendation from you to be associated with a writer who can’t do the job…so you have to know they are a decent writer. And if they are, I say, give them the job–or at least share the opportunity with them to follow up on.

Part of the reason I do this is completely unselfish. I know how hard it is to get jobs in this field and how competitive things are when it comes to work. I’m sincerely happy to help out a fellow writer.

The other part is not as unselfish. I’ve gotten jobs this way too. Writers¬† that I have helped out along the way have done the same for me from time-to-time. It’s nice. It’s like a big job pool. And I have to say, it feels really good when we’re all working together rather than elbowing each other out of the way.

So…for the holiday season, that’s my pitch to you in the coming year. Look out for your fellow writer.¬† It will not only make you feel warm and fuzzy, but it may come around and net you a little cash down the line. Let the writing karma abound!

The Holidays, Writing & Marketing

by Catherine L. Tully

Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully

Every year I do something that helps move my career forward during the holidays…

I market myself.

This means reaching out to people to touch base, getting my contacts organized, sending out some new feelers and other strategies designed to both keep me working and find new jobs. Here are some great things you can do to stay on top of things for 2013:

  • Send holiday cards. Sending out a simple holiday greeting is a great way to remind editors you are out there. Touch base and write a short note in the card. It’s good business.
  • Organize your address book. Add contacts that you should have in there and delete old e-mail addresses.
  • Research places to send an outreach e-mail to in the NY. Get an Excel document going with names and e-mails of people that you would like to reach out to for work in the New Year. Don’t send these e-mails over the holidays–they’ll probably never see light…but do get ready for your marketing push in January.
  • Look for reprint options. Sift through any articles you sold in 2012 and see if you can re-slant them for another publication in 2013.
  • Do your tax prep. I’d advise using an accountant, but no matter what you do for taxes, you’ll need to organize your receipts. Get it done while things are quiet and you’ll be thanking yourself in April. Believe me.
  • Network. Arm yourself with business cards for all of the holiday parties that you will be attending and pass them out like crazy. You just never know when someone will need a writer.

Do you have any good tactics for marketing yourself during the holidays? If so, we’d love to hear from you!

Spot Check Your Writing

by Catherine L. Tully

Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully

Just finish a draft and want to check your writing? Here are some top tips for making sure everything is in tip-top shape!

  • Spell check. Sound basic? It is. Even so, as an editor I’ve gotten documents from people – writers who should know better – with simple errors I have to fix because they didn’t run a spell check. And as an editor, it really is annoying. Take that step.
  • Read aloud. This is another great way to catch mistakes. I’ve found things by doing this that I missed after reading something three times over.
  • Get another opinion. If you have a writer (or editor) friend you can run the piece by, it’s good practice to do so. Perhaps you can swap articles/chapters/posts on a regular basis to keep that workload even.
  • Walk away. Taking some time out to clear your head is a good thing. After a break, go back to your writing and re-read. Your fresh perspective will help.
  • Look it up. Not sure about how to word that sentence? Does something look off grammatically? Don’t just lament it and try to figure it out on your own…look it up. Every writer should have a copy of Strunk & White’s Elements of Style somewhere nearby. Seriously.

Got any tips to share? Leave one here in the comments section below!