How to start a career as a freelance writer

This article was written by Davis Jameson

If you have a good grasp of grammar and enjoy writing, you can easily turn your passion into a career. You can work part-time while enrolled in school to make extra money, or you can turn the opportunity into your full-time job after graduation. Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a freelance writer.

How to Hone Your Skills

If you want to be a freelance writer, you have to become a competitive player in the industry. People expect to receive high-quality content in exchange for their hard-earned money, so you must have a thorough understanding of how to create strong and engaging articles. You can earn this knowledge in school and obtain a degree as proof of your credentials, or you can undergo training to become a content writer. Regardless of which path you choose, it is important to practice various writing techniques and good grammar skills if you want to build a strong portfolio.

How to Start a Freelance Writing Business

Forming a business is the best way to protect your career as a freelance writer. Even if you choose to work under your own name rather than that of a company, you need a business moniker for tax purposes. Every company is required to obtain an EIN number from the Internal Revenue Service. This identification number is how the IRS monitors tax liability, so it’s best to get your EIN before launching your freelance career. The number also makes it easier to read your records at tax time.

How to Find Gigs as a Freelance Writer

Before you build a base of loyal clients, you must seek out jobs as a freelancer. You can find many gigs online. Start a social media account listing your services, and start building your portfolio by completing small articles for family members and friends. You can also submit longer articles to online forums for publication. If you can show people the quality of your work, they are more likely to hire you as a writer.

Having an invoice system is crucial for ensuring you get paid for the gigs you land. You will be paid by the job rather than hourly, so making sure you get paid promptly is important. You can create invoices using online templates. Just customize your chosen design with your preferred text and colors.

How to Build Your Client Base

Once you start landing gigs, you can start cultivating client loyalty. The more regular clients you have, the steadier your paycheck will be. Make sure your clients are satisfied with the work you produce. One study suggests that 42% of small businesses use freelancers, so if you work with several companies, you have a reliable job. It takes talent and exceptional customer service to keep clients returning to you when they need your service. You should practice clear, honest communication so that you have a better understanding of their expectations for your work. People who are happy with your content are more likely to recommend your services and grow your business.

As a freelance writer, you’ll have the opportunity to work with many people and companies generating various types of content. It is a fun and exciting career, but you must work hard to be successful. This advice can help you build a thriving career. Learn more at AJ’s Creative Corner.

Goodbye.

I think I have to say goodbye, this is starting to feel too sweet.

What about us is the exception? What about us is unique?

See the issue here is the millions of scenarios I’ve already gone through in my head.

Love has barely lasted for a year, but supposedly this one won’t end until we’re dead?

I’ve loved every version, every form of you that I’ve met.

I think cutting our losses and cutting this short is obviously our best bet.

Flight is in my nature, impulsivity handles my fears.

Could you wait this thought out with me, until irrationality clears?

Rhyme.

Overgrown weeds, 

Scarce misdeeds,

Juvenile & naive. 

Consistency skewed

Blue & purple bruise,

A lifelong love for misuse.

Bitter, clear taste,

Anxious of waste,

Anger & fear misplaced.

Words are very few

Apologies long overdue,

Peace & acceptance is new.

Every few years,

A brand new fear

Blinds & then it clears.

Words too hard to find,

Haunting to the mind,

It’s easier forcing it to rhyme.

Back with a draft

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

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).

Characters:

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!

What to expect in 2022

Photo by Jonathan Petersson on Pexels.com

It’s been a while! I just wanted to give a quick update on what you can expect from this blog from now on. It’s safe to say I definitely experienced another episode of “writer’s block.” This time it wasn’t that I didn’t have ideas of things to write about. My busy schedule, a lot of life changes, and the pressures of having to constantly come up with new ideas all resulted in me taking a break from all of my digital platforms.

However, once it was time to come back, I was nervous that it had been too long. Then another month passed and then another and then another…

So I’m finally ripping the Band-Aid off and posting! From now on, once every other week I will post a one-hour-long podcast episode. On my Podcast, I like to give movie reviews, book reviews, comment on popular trends in literature and talk about relevant social issues that come up in the writing space.

As far as the blog you’re reading right now goes, I will post at least once a week. I will post poetry, fiction stories, tips for freelance writers, and digital marketing updates that pertain to freelance writers. I may post less, and I may post more, but you can expect a post once a week from now on at minimum.

For my Instagram account, my long-term goal is to post three times a week, but for now, I can only commit to one day a week. On my Instagram, I post poetry that you can’t find on my website and more tips for freelance writers! Over the past year, I have definitely learned the value of setting realistic goals and following through on them. Even though I’ve done a good job of following through on this in my personal life, I haven’t done such a great job when it comes to AJ’s Creative Corner.

So these are the goals for 2022, I’m very excited about a new beginning and I will see you guys next week!

The Eyes That Raised You.

I look into the eyes that raised me and I learn something new

Those familiar eyes are just as confused and gentle as me and you.

Those same eyes that seemed so mean-spirited when you were young

Are still developing after all these years, the growing isn’t done.

Those eyes still light up when they watch their favorite childhood show

Those eyes celebrated with you through every high and bared the brunt of every low

Those eyes aren’t the thick metal shield they sometimes pretend to be

Those eyes that raised you are just as human as you and me.

3:0

When I was 18 I called my best friend in tears

Halfway through a 12 pack of cheap gas station beer

I told her he left, told her he was gone,

Told her I couldn’t breathe, that my chest felt all wrong.

It took a long time, she gave me a warm shove

Taught me that level of pain only happens with your first love

Since then I’ve loved and I’ve lost but I’ve never hurt that bad again

In fact sometimes in love, I find myself playing pretend.

And it’s been 2 years since the last love took the centerpiece of my heart,

The one you need to stop the whole thing from falling apart

And I thought I was invincible, I thought I was strong,

But you left yesterday night too and now my chest feels all wrong.

Chicken Tenders and French Fries

I don’t know how to stop feeling like

Your go to order at a restaurant

You want me, you like me, there are times when you even need me

Nothing extraordinary about the taste but you order effortlessly

Stable, dependable, a little bit mundane

You indulge in all the new options but expect me to stay the same

Insulting, infuriating, addicted to your validation

But even my people pleasing nature can’t accept my own degradation.

I’m changing, I’m developing into a recipe that’s brand new,

There was only one thing keeping me the same, turns out it’s you.

The Way Men Love

This post is a sort of “response” to Ada Limón’s poem Accident Report in the Tall, Tall Weeds. http://www.buenosairesreview.org/2015/02/ada-limon/ I thought the message of the poem was so beautifully worded and unique that I was really inspired to write something of my own.

Subtle reassurance through wide tired brown eyes,

A comfortable silence spent staring at morning skies.

Grocery store trips and doctor appointments filled with laughter,

Fairy Tales were onto something with “happily ever after.”

The sound of a deep gravelly goodnight and a soft cheerful good morning.

The kind of love that really shouldn’t come without a warning.

It’s good and it’s simple and it’s managed to stay sweet,

Name’s been on the tip of my tongue all week.

I know this ground isn’t solid and I should run for cover,

I know my idealisms cause my own heart to suffer.

But I’m addicted to your presence, I refuse to give you up,

I can’t help it,

I just love the way men love.

What Happened at the Cecil Hotel?

Hey guys! On this week’s Podcast episode I followed up on a previous episode titled “How to Write a Horror Story.”

In that episode I talked about how I am planning on writing a fiction horror story for the first time! On this week’s episode I updated you guys on my outline for my horror story, I discussed a blog post that teaches you how to plan a fiction novel, and then I talked a lot about the Cecil Hotel since it has become an inspiration for this new book I want to write.

To keep it brief I’ve decided to write a novel about an eighteen-year old girl who lives somewhere in the U.S. The book takes place during the Summer before she will be starting college. The main character who I have temporarily named Annalise will be hitchhiking her way through the country as one final act of freedom before she enters the real world. The character has extremely overprotective parents so she told a couple of white lies to convince them to let her go. Little does the main character know that she has bipolar disorder which has never been formally diagnosed and during the middle of this trip, she gets thrown into a full-blown manic episode.

I talked a lot about the steps I will take to prevent exploiting people with bipolar disorder and to prevent myself from portraying this disorder inaccurately. I have decided that the character has bipolar disorder type 1, simply because a manic episode has different symptoms than a hypo-manic episode which is what’s associated with bipolar disorder type 2 (also known as bipolar depression). I personally have been diagnosed with bipolar depression and I understand just how important it is to accurately portray the symptoms without feeding into the harmful stereotypes that surround this disorder.

My intent with this story is to get people to understand how scary it can be to struggle with this disorder, especially for those who are undiagnosed and unmedicated. I have set some hard limits, the main character will not commit an act of violence throughout the story and she will not have a fatal ending. I don’t think either of these scenarios will contribute anything to the reader’s experience or my intention with this story. A common misconception about people with bipolar disorder is that they are violent, and I want to debunk several myths like this throughout the story.

Some other minor details I’ve come up with so far is that the main character is either a writer or photographer. She is going to college for a career either in the medical or engineering field but indulges in the arts as a hobby. She wants to launch a new blog and document her travels. Right now I am planning on using this minor detail to help deliver the ending of the story. I don’t know too much about the ending but I know ultimately I would like it to end with ethical medical intervention for the main character, where the reader will formally learn about her diagnosis.

In order to form this outline I followed the 10 steps that were mentioned in this article:

https://www.writersbureau.com/writing/planning-a-novel.htm

If you are planning on writing a novel soon or in the future, I would strongly recommend reading through the article linked above to help get your ideas on paper!

So…let’s talk about the Cecil Hotel. This obsession I have with this hotel started when I watched a Netflix Docuseries titled “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel.” The series focused mostly on the tragic case of Elisa Lam. As I was planning my novel I realized subconsciously I was thinking about this case and the Cecil Hotel. I want to make it very clear that the novel I am planning in no way intends to copy the details of what happened to Elisa Lam but this case is simply a reference for major themes that will be discussed in my story. Actually the obsession I have is with the history of the Cecil Hotel itself because I find it absolutely bizarre. However, out of respect and full transparency I did briefly talk about who Elisa Lam is and what happened to her because after all she is a part of the history of the Cecil Hotel.

So, in February of 2013 Elisa Lam who was a Canadian tourist tragically passed away at the Cecil Hotel located in downtown Los Angeles. If you’re a true crime fan, you’ve probably seen the infamous elevator footage. Just minutes before her death, security footage at the Cecil shows Elisa Lam standing in one of the hotel’s elevators alone. She is acting extremely erratically in the footage. She is waving her arms and speaking seemingly to someone who is outside of the elevator, even though no one was caught on camera. She also pressed all of the elevator buttons and popped her head out of the elevator several times to look into the hallway. When I first saw this footage with no context I thought she was playing some sort of game with friends she had made but it later comes out, no one else was caught on video at this time. The elevator door stayed open for a concerning amount of time and the footage’s choppy nature all contributed to how poorly this video was received.

This footage was released to the internet by the detectives who were working the case of trying to find Elisa Lam, who was just thought to be missing at the time. However the internet erupted into chaos, forming several conspiracy theories and web sleuths began to have a field day with the footage. Here’s what actually was said to have happened.

Elisa Lam who wrote on her blog about the fact she had bipolar disorder and stopped taking her medication, had a manic episode. During manic episodes some people can experience visual and auditory hallucinations. This fact combined with the hotel’s lack of following safety guidelines, led to an extremely bizarre and tragic ending for Elisa. First of all, the hotel’s elevator door stayed open because Elisa had accidentally pressed the hold button in the elevator. Once the elevator door stayed open Elisa Lam exited the elevator and made her way to the roof. The hotel’s security cameras never actually showed Elisa leaving the hotel so after awhile detectives began to realize they needed to search the hotel itself to find her.

Guests and residents of the Cecil Hotel are obviously not supposed to have access to the roof because of the many safety guidelines that violates, however they did. The door to the roof was often left unlocked and would not set off alarms if opened, even though the hotel’s formal statement was that the door would set off an alarm if opened. Once Elisa made it to the roof, she is said to have climbed up the water tower and jumped in as a way to escape her hallucinations.

I genuinely understand why people without a solid understanding of what bipolar disorder is, are prone to believing the conspiracy theories. Elisa Lam’s body was eventually found naked, floating in the water tank and that seems like an extremely brutal ending for one bad mental health episode. So it makes sense why so many people feel like there has to be more to the story, but the reality is, that’s the whole story. Elisa Lam was unmedicated, experiencing a manic episode and she climbed into the water tower to escape the hallucinations. Once she was in the water tank she most likely quickly became overwhelmed by the water pressure and took off her clothes as her body’s natural response to experiencing hypothermia.

Elisa had actually been moved into a private room in the days before her death because the roommates she was originally staying with complained about her erratic behavior. As heartbreaking and brutal as her ending is, it isn’t a conspiracy. It’s a heartbreaking unfortunate tragedy.

I also want to quickly mention the fact that many people believe the Netflix Docuseries was exploitative of Elisa. The documentary was made to look like a documentary mostly about the Cecil Hotel but Elisa Lam was the main subject discussed in every single episode. There are also parts where they show her Tumblr username which was one of the platforms she blogged on and read her blog posts out loud which many viewers felt was an invasion of privacy. The docuseries experienced other criticisms as well including the fact they took on too many topics without giving a conclusion to all of them. I would definitely urge readers of this post to not rely solely on the docuseries for information about the Cecil Hotel.

So now, let’s actually talk about the Cecil Hotel. At some point I would love to replicate this hotel’s unique characteristics and find a way to implement them into a story of my own. The Cecil Hotel is located directly next to an area referred to as “Skid Row.” This name comes from the saying that people end up in this area when they’re “on the skids.” The area has an extremely large homeless population. Skid row covers 50 blocks in Downtown Los Angeles. The area has been known for its homeless population starting riots, selling drugs, and breaking the law in other various ways. This area is also known for frequent instances of police brutality. The Netflix docuseries briefly discusses the fact that officials made a plan to basically keep homeless people in Skid Row all together and keep them out of other areas of California.

The hotel was known for being a space where sex offenders, gangsters, prostitutes, and serial killers stayed when they had the money or wanted to hide out. This was a fact known to residents of Downtown Los Angeles but it was not a fact usually known by tourists from other countries. Many tourists who stayed at the Cecil experienced two major surprises. The first surprise was realizing where the hotel was located and having to walk through Skid Row to visit different attractions. The second surprise was entering the hotel’s stunning lobby, only to then see the rest of the hotel which paled in comparison. Since the Cecil is a budget hotel, the rooms are minimal and have historically looked extremely rundown.

The Cecil Hotel opened in 1927 and it was intended to be a spot for traveling businessmen and tourists. After two years of the hotel being opened, the Great Depression happened and this is when the hotel’s interior itself began to see a decline. In 1931 the hotel saw its first tragedy when a man staying at the hotel committed suicide and this seemed to mark the beginning of the hotel’s reputation for being a place people ended up at when they were down on their luck.

Several people have committed suicide in this hotel either in their rooms or by jumping off the building which has 19 floors and 700 guest rooms. Several other tragedies happened at this hotel including the case of a woman who was found raped, stabbed, and beaten which still remains unsolved today. Richard Ramirez known as the “Night Stalker” was fond of staying at the Cecil Hotel. He was able to leave at odd hours of the night and change his clothes in the alley without attracting attention since he blended in easily with the other residents.

In 2011 the hotel was split and half of the hotel was renamed to “Stay at Main.” The hotel was desperate to rebrand and get away from the Cecil’s reputation. Since the hotel’s demographic mainly consisted of longtime residents of Skid Row and tourists from other countries, Stay at Main was an attempt to attract more tourists. When potential hotel guests googled “stay at main” they most likely wouldn’t see the concerning search results that they would see when they googled “Cecil Hotel.” In the docuseries the hotel’s old manager who was hired despite having no previous managerial experience, discussed other attempts she made to change the hotel’s clientele. One more unethical approach she tried to take was evicting the hotel’s longtime residents but this attempt failed since there were laws protecting these residents as an attempt to get homeless people off the streets of Skid Row. This hotel desperately tried to rebrand and is still making attempts to rebrand themselves to this day.

In 2017 Los Angeles made the Cecil Hotel a landmark. There are currently renovations being done to the Cecil Hotel that are scheduled to be done in October of 2021.

I find the Cecil Hotel so interesting because it has a bunch of different elements contributing to its unique environment. This hotel targets two main demographics; well intentioned tourists from other countries who want to visit the version of Los Angeles they see on TV and long-time residents of Skid Row who are used to witnessing crime and police violence on a regular basis. Tourists at this hotel stay for short amounts of time and long-time residents think of this hotel as their home. Both of these demographics share elevators and common spaces but reside on opposite sides of the hotel.

I have never heard of any hotel quite like the Cecil and even if its a location that will only be briefly mentioned in my future story, I think this hotel is the perfect spot to implement into a Horror Story.

That is it for this week’s episode! Let me know down in the comments if you’ve already known about the Cecil Hotel and what intrigues you about it the most. See you guys in two weeks for the next episode where I will be discussing what’s new on the digital marketing side of the internet. See you next week!