Introduction of post: Happy Friday! In previous posts and podcast episodes I’ve shared on this blog, I’ve talked about the different steps everyone can take in order to write their first fiction story. I have also discussed some ideas for fiction stories that I wanted to pursue.
After taking a long break from this website and writing in general, I have decided to completely switch gears with the fiction story I had been planning. I thought the best way to share my idea would be to write it in the form of a draft and share it. My ideas are far from finalized, and I am completely open to constructive feedback on my draft at this point.
I just wanted to be able to add a space on my website where I can start to develop my ideas for fiction stories and start to develop a routine posting schedule again.
Name of story: Grey?
Setting: Starts in New Orleans, Louisiana. Typical two-story home in a quiet area. Working middle-class family and upbringing. Then shifts to an abandoned warehouse building with magical/supernatural elements. Meaning even though it’s a warehouse building, it transforms into a dark, poorly lit environment that is constantly changing for the rest of the story. The image of the room constantly shifts into different mazes and images, depending on what the female main character and “narrator” are talking about. The abandoned warehouse is related to the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. The story doesn’t revolve around the aftermath of Kartina at all, but it does have a quiet, strong presence because it adds to the main question/theme of the story,
Theme: Which is “Can you label something as completely bad or completely good?” The main character is scared that she’s not a good person on the inside, but everyone thinks she is on the outside because she presents herself in a way that checks off the boxes of what mainstream society would consider a good person.
Setting Continued: Then the majority of the story takes place in a sort of maze the main character will walk through. She walks on a dirt path in a rural, wooded area, but will encounter different buildings that look completely out of place along the way. Ex. An NYC Penthouse, a small cottage, a shopping mall. The environment she stumbles in depends on what scenario each supporting character presents to her.
What season is it?: Fall, leading into winter
Music: Jazz & Hip-hop, street performers
Entertainment: Mardi Gras, festivals, a large mission trip with churches there to help with the aftermath of Katrina (which further contributes to the theme of good vs. bad).
Main character: Name- Cristal- The Greek meaning of this name means “pure of heart” which is significant b/c even though her biggest fear is that she is a bad person & that she has hurt several people in her life, she doesn’t realize how pure-hearted she truly is to her core.
Age: Mid-twenties (25)- subject to change
Hobbies: Art- drawing & painting, volunteering at an animal shelter, loves to play soccer, loves to watch football, loves to go out to bars & clubs with her small group of close friends & boyfriend, loves spending quality time with family & playing board games with parents
Pets?: Yes, one cat.
How she interacts with others: She’s extremely polite & respectful, people pleaser, charming, people find her compelling, oblivious to her own beauty, vulnerable, easy to take advantage of. People constantly underestimate her own self-awareness. She’s strategic. She is working on building self-confidence. She’s extremely intelligent. She is aware people are taking advantage of her sometimes but goes along with it, because the most important thing to her is that she is a nice person, despite the hardships she has faced in the past.
She is an excellent listener, she’s a bit naive, she was semi-sheltered throughout her childhood. People find her sweet, endearing, slightly childish but also extremely mature. She is confusing to people. They look at her with a watchful eye because the major shifts in her personality can come across as though she’s being disingenuous and hypocritical if you didn’t truly know her.
How does she react to being put under pressure?: She has a lot of anxiety. She reaches a boiling point & gets extremely emotional. She takes everything personally, even when it’s not about her. She spreads herself too thin. She shies away from conflict. She sacrifices her own happiness to make others happy. She feels like a complete failure when she can’t solve a task that was always going to be impossible for her to complete successfully. When she hurts/disappoints other people, fails to measure up to other people around her who had way more handouts than she did, she feels like a complete failure and doesn’t think she has a purpose. When she is under too much pressure, her mental health drastically spirals.
Narrator: Name- Basar, it means “sight, vision, the eye”, Arabic origin. His character is the only one with magical elements/powers. He can create visions that feel like reality to Cristal, but they are completely fabricated. She is physically safe for the entire story, even though at some points she feels like Basar has put her in real danger. He knows she feels this way, but secretly ensures her safety is always protected, pulling back slightly every time he notices that she is at her breaking point.
He is a trickster. He is all-knowing. He was mortal in his initial lifetime. He had a troubled childhood. He has done this journey with other people before, but he really sees himself in Cristal. Cristal makes him feel nostalgic and secretly touched that she is such a kind person who is so troubled by the thought she might be bad. He has a long grey beard and black eyes. He knows that Cristal will become overwhelmed by the vision and he knows what conclusion she will come to in the end because it’s the same conclusion he came to several years ago, in the same exact way she did.
She won’t ever realize that he genuinely liked her and wanted to protect her, but this will be seen by the readers at the very end of the story. When Cristal begins to question the point of trying to be a good person, he gently ensures that she won’t veer off onto the path of apathy or rebellion by gently reminding her of her roots.
This draft is far from complete but I wanted to make this post today as a baseline. Throughout the next couple of months feel free to check-in for updates to see how I develop this story further. Happy Friday!
Hey guys! Just like last week, I wanted to have this week’s Podcast episode available both on audio and in a blog post so that everyone has access. This week’s topic is a bit more technical. I have just started this journey of learning to become a Freelance writer and so I wanted to give other people some advice on where to begin your Freelance writing journey. Some of this stuff I have already done, I’m in the process of doing, or I haven’t even started it yet. Keep in mind I’m still in the beginning stages so I have so much more to learn but I have been building my knowledge in digital marketing for about a year now, so I definitely have a few tips I can share. I currently have a couple gigs where I get paid for my writing and I noticed when I was brand new to this job, I couldn’t find any resources that really taught me how to get started.
I wanted to give you some simple straightforward tips on where to start. So, let’s begin. The first tip I would give is to pick a niche. Some examples of niches you can pick are travel, fitness, CBD, cooking, or real estate. I’m a bit of a hypocrite. I haven’t committed to a niche yet. Real Estate is my “back-up” niche because it’s what I have the most experience in but I’m not sure if it’s what I want to commit to yet. Don’t panic if you don’t have a niche right away. I’ve actually been using Fiverr to eliminate niches that I’m finding aren’t a good fit. So far I’ve ruled out the tech, science, and medical world from my area of expertise since I don’t know nearly as much about these subjects as I do about other subjects.
Next you should set up a website or a blog. You can do this for free on plenty of platforms like Wix or WordPress. I will say I have made a free website on Wix before and this blog I’m currently using is a paid WordPress blog. Wix has some insanely fun themes and it’s very user-friendly but it doesn’t have nearly as much SEO as my paid WordPress blog. If you are a blogger, even if you are using the free option, I will recommend WordPress over any other platform every time. The research I did before I bought this blog all pointed to the same conclusion as well. A feature to note that doesn’t get talked about enough is WordPress reader. I follow at least 100 blogs on WordPress, so when I click the WordPress reader button it creates a feed of recent blog posts from everyone I follow and I’m able to like/comment on all of their posts. It’s like a social media platform but only for people with WordPress blogs. Here I have been able to gradually increase my followers and likes each month. I get a lot more guaranteed views now because I utilize this feature and I get to find new blogs that I want to follow which gives me tons of inspiration to keep posting!
The next tip I have is to get your sample work prepared ASAP. This is actually kind of a controversial topic among Freelance writers. Seasoned writers often have the expectation that they will be paid when asked to provide a sample. I think it’s important to note that some experienced copy writers/freelance writers have been doing this job for 10+ years, so the expectations they have will differ from some of the expectations a beginner should have. The truth is you haven’t proved yourself yet in the eye’s of a potential client. It’s normal to be asked for samples of published work you’ve written for other people. Here’s a hack I used when I first started. I would go on Indeed and search up “Freelance Writer” jobs and “remote” for the location. I would scroll through several job descriptions all giving prompts for what sample work they wanted. I would write these samples and save them on a folder on my laptop without actually applying to these jobs. You don’t have to be published in order to have sample work and also your website or blog that you’ve built can serve as a portfolio. There are tons of options for beginners to provide sample work. I suggest creating sample work for the clients you want to attract. So for example, if I want to work for a Real Estate agent, I’ll send them a sample writing titled “How to buy a home in a seller’s market.”
However, there’s a reason sample work is such a sensitive topic among freelance writers. Writers get screwed over. Like a lot. This happens in many different ways. One, you might see a job post on a platform telling people to submit a sample writing with their application on a topic the company has chosen and if they hire you, they will pay you for your work. The issue with that is obvious. Only one person is going to be hired, so apply to positions like this at your own risk and don’t invest too much time into it if you have other money-making opportunities available. Now, what happens if you write sample work about a specific prompt a company has given you and they don’t have such great integrity? Meaning, they take your post, don’t hire you, don’t credit you, don’t pay you for your work, and then publish your post. It’s disgusting but it happens! It might not even be legal but when you’re a small business or independent contractor going up against a multi-million dollar company in some cases, most of the time you’ll have to end up accepting your losses and moving on. I want to make sure I haven’t scared you. Being asked to provide sample work is fine and you shouldn’t act above it. However, go with your gut or ask for advice on Freelance Writing Facebook groups you’re a part of when you get in situations where you feel like you’re being exploited. It happens! I just want to make sure anyone reading this is aware and prepared for the possibilities.
Next we get to a tip that I call selling in the DM’s. I’m mostly going to be talking about Instagram and Email for this part, since these are my primary platforms that I use. So, this is really where you’re going to find your clients when it comes to freelance writing. Start by going to your search bar on Instagram and looking up a hashtag that your ideal client uses. For example, if you want to work for a realtor you’ll look up something like #realtorsofinstagram. Then you’ll scroll through posts and click on the person’s profile. Scroll through their page and ask yourself a series of questions. Do they consistently post content? Does any information in their highlights or on their bio seem outdated? What’s their following like? How much engagement do they get on each post? Do they post professional content or just personal content? These questions are great if you would like to be hired to write social media content for people. If you would like to be hired to write blog content for people, try following these steps. Click on their link in bio and go to their website. If they have a blog on their website ask yourself how often they blog and if they’re blogging valuable information. A realtor in this example who has a low following, outdated posts, and no clear social media strategy could be an amazing potential client!
This is where the selling in the DM’s starts. Number one, please don’t follow the steps I give without adding in your own additional steps or tweaking my advice to fit your specific niche. Beginners have a bad habit of wanting a script or fool-proof formula for being successful. I am only here to provide a general outline as I am still learning myself. Also, do not use a set script for each potential client you message. As someone who runs an Instagram account for Real Estate agents I can tell you that they get multiple DM’s a week from photographers, digital marketers, etc. all who seemed to go to the same class and end up with the same exact copy & paste script. It feels disingenuous and spammy. Some of this advice might sound harsh but I really want each of you to be successful, so I always want to be brutally honest. Once again, having a general outline is perfectly acceptable but don’t take a rigid approach by using a set script that can hinder your ability to individualize your pitches.
Now, here’s what to do next. The most important thing is to show that you have done a little research about the business you’re approaching. This means that you’re mentioning specific details you have seen on their page. For example, “I see that you have 200 followers and your last post was two months ago.” This way they know you’re not DM’ing them just another copy & paste script. However, I’m getting ahead of myself. Your first message to someone should be a warm greeting that genuinely expresses interest in their profile or content. Sometimes we get so excited about gaining a new client and growing professionally, that we forget to simply enjoy a conversation. This is also a great way to see if they even respond to you in the first place. Now, once you have sent them a message detailing what services you provide and why you think you can help them, think about where you want to direct them next. End your message with a call-to-action.
If they engage with you and seem interested in the services you’re offering, maybe offer to set up a Zoom meeting. Make sure if this is the case, you are prepared and everything is ready to go on your end so if they agree to setting up a Zoom meeting, you already have an account set up and know exactly how to send them a link. You can send these pitches either through DM’s on Instagram or send it to whatever Email they provide in their bio (not everyone will provide an email address).
Lastly, I would recommend looking at job boards like Indeed. I’ll discuss this very briefly. Like I mentioned earlier, you can search for remote, freelance writing jobs on Indeed. I’ve had incredible luck with this method. I am a freelance writer who also has an interest in digital marketing so I use this platform to find jobs for both of these fields. This is a great place to start, especially if you aren’t comfortable DM’ing people yet. We should all eventually be prepared to pitch ourselves but if you’re just starting out, you don’t have to stress about that right away. Just take a deep breath and start by applying for freelance jobs on a job board. It’s less intimidating and an excellent resume builder.
There are also job boards built for freelancers to sell their services, like Upwork or Fiverr. I have zero experience using Upwork so I can’t say too much about it. Some people are able to make a full-time income using Upwork. You’ll probably have to have some work already published before you get accepted and it has a better reputation than Fiverr when it comes to scoring high-paying jobs. If this platform works for you and you can get verified, I say go for it! I’m mostly going to talk about Fiverr since that’s what I have the most experience with. I’m not the biggest fan of Fiverr, however I definitely want to do some more experimenting before I call it quits!
I’ve ran about 3 or 4 gigs so far. My most recent gig easily got the most traffic, but if there’s one thing I regret it’s making the gig so general. I opened up the gig to any niche, so when people contacted me asking me to write a blog about the tech or medical industry I couldn’t deliver. This was a big learning lesson when it came to niches that I could officially rule out so that was helpful! I’ll leave you with a few key takeaways for Fiverr. Number one, getting your first client is the hardest part. Don’t be alarmed if you have to run multiple gigs before you finally get a message, that’s normal! Try making something different about each gig so you can run them at the same time and see which one performs the best. Lastly if you’re still struggling to understand Fiverr’s features or how to get your first client, who better to teach you then Fiverr themselves? They provide educational videos teaching you about the different features and they even give you tips on how to successfully get a client.
When it comes to promoting your business to a mass audience for the lowest price, what’s the best way to go about it? That’s right, social media! In this Podcast episode, I told you guys that I boosted a Facebook post promoting my Podcast for $10 and I shared the results with you. The post I boosted was a picture of my Podcast cover art with a lengthy caption detailing who my Podcast is for and what I talk about on there. Full disclaimer, if I were to re-do this I would completely change the caption, mostly the hook. I would have an attention grabbing sentence, calling to other freelance writers. My hook was a complete fail! So the results I’m sharing with you today is by no means the fault of Facebook, there are some major changes I would make on my end for the next time, because there will definitely be another ad experiment soon. My post ran for 5 days and the goal I selected was to get more website visitors. Total I received 8 link clicks and reached 1,667 people. There was a $1.25 cost per link click. Honestly the cost wasn’t worth the results, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t see an increase in my Podcast viewer stats because I definitely have! Once again, I also take full ownership for not choosing the best caption to boost. I thought this might be helpful for you guys to have a realistic understanding of how boosting a post works and to see if it seems like a feature you would want to utilize. Ads are a fantastic way to gain new traffic to your website but it’s definitely a step to consider after you’ve set yourself up for success by completing the other steps we’ve talked about first.
Finally my last talking point during this episode was explaining how the new iOS update affects Facebook ads. So Apple has released a new update that allows users to choose whether they want to disable tracking. This means that people can choose whether they want to see Facebook Ads or not. Obviously, this will result in Facebook losing some money. However, I’m not sure if you know much about Facebook but…they’re not exactly hurting for money. This change by no means will be detrimental to their current income. Android users still can’t disable tracking and besides some Apple users with the iOS update are still choosing to allow Facebook to show them ads. However, the fear here is that Facebook will increase their prices when it comes to running ads in order to make up for this loss in income. That hasn’t happened yet and Facebook has not stated that will be happening. For now, it’s important to keep calm and just ride the wave. I think it can be a great thing that one of the most successful social media platforms of all time is being forced to adapt to what their users now want. Facebook is by far one of the most affordable platforms to run advertisements on so trust me, I understand the panic especially if you’re used to running ads on a daily or weekly basis. Just something to keep in mind, you will have around 20-30% less reported conversions if you do choose to run Facebook ads because of the changes. Just take note of this and don’t feel discouraged if you feel like your conversion rate has been decreasing.
Alright, that about wraps it up for this week’s Podcast episode! If you have any questions about any of the information I shared or you want to suggest a topic for next week’s episode, comment down below! Otherwise, I will see you guys in next week’s episode!
Earlier this week I uploaded a post about how to edit poetry. Today I wanted to share a checklist of five different tips you can use when editing short stories:
Read it out loud. The #1 tip for editing any style of writing is to read your work out loud. Why is that? When we read our writing out loud, it’s easier for us to spot grammatical errors, wordiness, repetitive phrasing, and much more.
Check for consistency. This is especially helpful for character development. I like to read through a story to make sure if I brought up a small detail about a character, for example a character who doesn’t like fruit, that I take time to read through my entire story and make sure I keep this fact consistent throughout the story. I find when I write a story over a long period of time, I can forget small details and fail to deliver on consistency.
“Trim the fat.” I also gave this tip in my post on how to edit poetry but for short stories the way you can accomplish this is different. Instead of trying to cut down words sentence by sentence, think of this more broadly. If you have clichés, if you have an extremely long introduction that doesn’t contribute to the story, or if you have filler words, try to cut down on these as much as possible. This will help your story have a more efficient impact on the reader that doesn’t linger on unnecessary details or wording.
There should be multiple drafts. I can’t recommend the exact number of drafts you should write before you’re finished with your short story. What I can say for sure, is that the first draft should not be the same as the final draft. It is exciting to finish a piece of work, especially a short story which can take a much longer time than other styles of work. After you finish your first draft, take a break, the break could be a few days long even. Then come back and read your first draft again. After a break you’ll be able to read your work with more objectivity. Repeat this cycle until you’re satisfied with the end product. Each draft will most likely have less and less edits. If your second draft looks extremely different from your first draft, don’t be alarmed! It’s okay. Sometimes we need the freedom to write down out ideas but once we read it, we realize that it didn’t pan out as well as we originally hoped it would. That’s okay and that’s part of the fun of the editing process, we’ll find a way to work through it and produce an amazing end product.
My last tip is the same as it was for editing poetry; share your work! Sharing your work with friends and asking for feedback will help you find ways to improve that you might not have found on your own. Everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to sharing their work but sharing your story with at least one person that you trust to give constructive feedback will help you grow as a writer. If you are comfortable, I would strongly recommend sharing your work with more than one person since people’s opinions and critiques may vary. Sharing your work with at least a small group of people can help you get a general consensus on your stories strengths and weaknesses.
I find the editing process the most difficult for any type of writing that I post. I didn’t have a strong method until after I graduated college and I’m still learning on how to improve my method every day. This is to help any beginner or any writer that needs a refresher, come up with an editing method that works for them.
This post is for all of my poets out there who are new to editing, struggle with editing, or just need a refresher. This guide is giving tips on how to edit poetry and then later this week I will be posting a guide on how to edit short stories.
Editing has always been my biggest struggle with writing. I either get so excited after I finish a draft that I want my work out there immediately or I don’t even know where to begin with editing and I grow frustrated. After taking a few classes and talking to other writers I’ve developed a method that I am going to share with all of you.
Step 1: Congratulations, you’ve finished your draft! You have one of two options here. Honestly I do both, depending on what I’ve written and if it has a deadline. You can either continue into the editing process or take a break. Taking a day long break, an hour long break, etc. can help you clear your mind and come back with a more objective view to continue editing your new poem.
Step 2: Once you’re ready to move onto the editing process, simple read through your poem a couple of times. Don’t edit anything. Just get a feel for what you’ve written and see if anything stands out.
Step 3: “Trim the fat.” Ask yourself this, can a convey an even stronger message if I take out some of the “fluff” wording that may not need to be there? Sometimes this can feel very personal to a writer because we spend so long on our writing that it seems strange to turn around and try to trim it down, but you’d be surprise at how much more powerful your message can be once you cut out some words or even lines.
Step 4: Are you using one word too much? Do you have a word that doesn’t quite fit? Try using a thesaurus to look for synonyms. You don’t want to necessarily change the meaning of the word you’re using but it needs a slight tweak, right? Then try your best to find a synonym! This is always a good habit to get into because a lot of us are guilty of having what I call “comfort words.” Words we routinely use in multiple pieces. The more variety the better!
Step 5: I like to do one or two times, it’s a scan solely for grammar. I’m far from perfect when it comes to grammar so I need to take extra time to review it. The two things I’m most guilty of are misusing commas and incomplete sentences. If you were going to read this poem out loud where would you take pauses? This is a trick that might help you with punctuation.
Step 6: Visual aesthetic. Now your poem sounds grammatically correct but does it visually appear how you want it to? If you want to shape it a certain way or add in visual art, now is the time to do so. Just remember to ask yourself, does the visual aesthetic contribute to the message of the poem? Making a bold aesthetic choice that aligns with the poem’s message can make for an even better experience for the reader.
Step 7: If you haven’t already taken a break, you should do so now. After these edits sometimes I take a break and sit back down to re-read it. From here I’ll either go through the fully editing process again or just make final touches.
Step 8: Share your work! Where people are comfortable sharing their work varies for everyone but I’m a firm believer that you should share your work somewhere. Whether it’s on a blog, on social media, with your friends or family, in a class. It doesn’t matter! The constructive feedback and affirmation you get from others will help you grow so much as a writer.
Feel free to comment on this post with additional steps that you take for your editing process!