Freelancing: Where to Start

One of my goals for November is to up my freelance game.  I’ve always loved writing, and as a journalism student in college I spent a lot of time writing newspaper articles.  Since graduation though, most of the freelancing I’ve done has been few and far between, and almost exclusively for my town’s local newspaper.  This month though I really want to get my writing out there, and find some more sources I can write for.  And the logical first step in that goal is to figure out where to start.

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Local Newspaper

If you work in freelance writing, the obvious first stop is the local small-town newspaper.  Bigger papers like The Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Times are awesome, but can be much harder to get into, especially if you don’t have a portfolio.  A smaller paper is going to be more willing to toss a couple feature pieces your way and give someone new a chance.

If you’re not sure where to start, head to the paper’s website and find the name of a features or news editor.  Send them an email, maybe with a resume and some writing samples attached, explaining your interest in writing for their paper.

BlogHer

In terms of online media, BlogHer is the first network I’ve freelanced for.  Because they’re a female blogging network, the article topics are going to be ones you’re more familiar with and could have a lot of fun writing.

There are a couple ways to get published through BlogHer.  The first way, which is how it worked out for me, is to make sure you’re regularly publishing your (well-written and interesting) blog articles to your BlogHer page as well.  Good content catches people’s eyes, and you might get an email asking if you’d be interested in writing a paid article.  The second way is to go ahead and submit your ideas through BlogHer Syndication.

Hello Giggles

My roommate introduced me to Hello Giggles over the summer, and I love the types of articles they publish on feminism, basic news, being a 20-something, and cute stuff from all over the Internet.  While HG isn’t a publishing network in the same way as BlogHer, where you’re able to publish your content for free at any time, the website is almost like a magazine/blog, posting several articles written by all different people in an online forum.

If you’re interested in writing for HG, the website’s staff is always accepting article ideas through their email here.  After you read a few articles on their site and get an idea of what types of pieces you’ll find there, go ahead and email the staff with a (very) short bio and a few relevant article ideas you have.

Thought Catalog

Unlike the other sites I’ve mentioned, Thought Catalog does not pay per article.  The website publishes your content on a free-basis, but is a great way of getting your name and your writing style out there.  If you’re just stepping into the freelance arena, it can be a good idea to publish through a site like this first to get the hang of writing for an online source that isn’t your own blog.

Like BlogHer, Thought Catalog accepts article ideas through a form embedded on their website.  Unlike BlogHer though, the ideas you submit to Thought Catalog need to be a full article, ready to be published.  Using the form on the TC website, you submit your information and the article itself to be approved or denied.

My Blog Writing Process

Once you’ve been blogging for a while, you start to notice a process in the way you write each post; steps you take each time that at some point you realize, you wouldn’t know how to write a blog without. All writers develop a process at some point, something unique to them that helps them to get inspired and focused. With blogging though, some steps aren’t quite as unique as others.

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A Blank Screen

Of course, the first step to any new blog post is to open up a fresh post editor, and stare at the vast blank page in front of you. Somehow, whether it’s on a computer or in a notebook, a blank page has always been such an important part of writing for me – to the point that in my journal, I start each new entry on a new page, even if there’s plenty of space left on the last page I wrote on. Something about that empty space waiting to be filled gets me ready to create something, and inspires me in a way that nothing else does.

Scan Post Ideas

I’ve mentioned before that I keep blog post ideas written everywhere – in several notebooks that I carry around with me in every purse and leave sitting on my bedside table, in the Notebook App on my phone, in draft format on WordPress, and in Evernote on my computer.  So whenever I go to write a new blog post, I start by scrolling or flipping through each of those ideas, even though I remember what most of them are. Sometimes, I’ll use one of those ideas for the post that day, but most of the time I end up writing something completely different but that was inspired by one or more of those ideas.

False Start

I don’t know about you, but my blog-post writing process involves a lot of partially written first paragraphs and blog post drafts made entirely of lists.  Tonight, before getting around to this idea, I started three other blog posts that are now sitting in draft format.  A lot of times, those partially-written drafts come from the ideas I mentioned above.  Other times, they’re completely new ideas that don’t pan out right then.  But whatever the reason for each draft, there are several of them lying in my drafts on WordPress, and most of them will never manage to get published.

A Good Photo

Most of the time when I write a new post, one of the first things I do is “design” a photo for the post and get that set up and ready to go.  Somehow, having the labeled photo imbedded into my post draft encourages and inspires me to write the actual post.

So what about you? What does your blog post writing process look like?

3 Reasons Why I Write (and why you should too)

For as long as I can remember, reading and writing have been huge parts of my identity.  I can remember the first poem I wrote – a rhyming couplet-esque piece about loving summer – but I can’t remember a time before that. A time when writing was not a part of who I am. I’ve been doing this for so long that it’s a part of who I am and that I can’t imagine letting go of. There are hundreds of reasons why I write, but here are the top three, and they’re the reasons why you should write too.

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It is a Part of Who I Am

For the same reason why I can’t remember a time before I wrote, I can’t remember who I am without a pen and a blank notebook.  I write because at 22-years-old, it’s an integral part of who I am, and without my writing – for better or for worse – I wouldn’t recognize myself anymore.

It Helps Me to Process My Day

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve committed myself to writing something in my journal every day. Aside from wanting to ensure that a computer screen isn’t the last thing I see before bed every night, I am working towards writing more regularly because it helps me to process my feelings and what happened over the last 24 hours.  When I’m having a bad day, or I don’t know where to go next with something, writing about it inspires me to think of new ideas, and to get past something that I really shouldn’t spend my time being angry or worried about to begin with.

It Makes Me a Better Person

Because writing makes me think back over my day and my thoughts, it makes me a better person. Thinking through what I’ve done and said makes me recognize the parts of my day where I could have done better, or where I can improve in the future.  I’m able to more easily see my mistakes, and in the future I’ll be less likely to make those same mistakes again.

So why do you write?  Why is the process important to you?

My Writing Process: A Tour Through Blogland

This series is one I’ve seen passing around the blogging community over the last couple months, and I was so so excited when Belle and Emily nominated me to discuss my writing process as part of the tour!  Writing is obviously a huge part of this hobby we all share, and it’s been so fun to see how my favorite bloggers come up with the words they write here every day.
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The Rules

// Let everyone know the blogger who nominated you, so they can head over there and check out their writing process tour next.
// Answer the questions about your writing process.

// Nominate a few other bloggers whose writing process you’d love to learn more about.

About My Writing Process

What am I working on right now?

I’m super excited, because Marielle and I just posted our second F-Word Link-Up last week! This is a series we’d been working on for a while, and I was so happy when we finally went live with it in August.  
 
If you’re not familiar with the link-up yet, Marielle and I decided to put it together when we realized that there were a ton of feminist bloggers out there, and we wanted a way to bring them all together.  When I started blogging five years ago, I’d have had no idea how to find these types of posts, and it wasn’t until recently that I did start to find how many bloggers there are out there sharing their feminist opinions!
And on a more personal side, unrelated to my blog, I’m working on editing a personal non-fiction essay I started in March.  I took the piece to the Boldface Writers’ Conference in Texas with me back in May, and I’ve been dragging my feet on making “final” edits to it.

How does my work differ from others of the genre?

I always like to say that technically, She is Fierce is a Lifestyle Blog but that when I think about it, this blog isn’t about my life (and there’s certainly nothing resembling “style” on this little space).  I rarely talk about the specific details of my life just for the sake of talking about what’s going on with me lately.  Instead, I try to make myself come across to my readers by way of the things that are really important to me: feminism, current events, creative writing, blogging, and other things along those lines.  A big part of my writing process, and coming up with new content, is making sure it’s something that I feel strongly about and would want to have a conversation about, and that I think will inspire my readers in some way. 
 
Instead of an “If We Had Coffee” post around here, you’ll find personal essays, thoughts on my belief systems, feminism, and current events, and creative writing.  While I know that the lifestyle blogging community is full of different bloggers and different subjects, I like to think that mine isn’t something you’d find anywhere else – at least not when you put it all together.

Why do I write what I do? 

I write posts about the things that are important to me, about the topics I am passionate about.  The things I write about on She is Fierce are topics I want to have discussions about, and to get more information out there about.  As simply as I know how to put it, I blog about these topics because I think they’re important, and that someone needs to.  
 
My goal for this blog is for my readers to come here to learn, and to be inspired to think about their lives more deeply – about what they do, and why they do it.  I want readers to grow their opinions and knowledge about the world after leaving here.  

What is my writing process?

I don’t know if you can call what I have a process, but I do have some things I’ve started doing to help.  For years I’ve loved writing – I have notebooks full of crappy poems and one-page-short-stories from my high-school years, and I started blogging when I was 17-years-old.  But for some reason, I was never able to sit myself down and say “now write,” and come up with someone “good” and cohesive.

Blogging has really helped with that, and I’ve gotten to a point where all of my posts are written at night, around 5-10 p.m.  I’ve tried to get my blog onto a schedule, which means that I want my posts up and ready to read by 7 a.m. every day; so the night before, I know I need to write something.  And somehow, that’s worked.

But a lot of that is planning, and ideas.  I carry a small notebook around with me, and whenever I think of something worth writing, I put it in the notebook.  I also keep a running list of ideas in my Evernote on my computer, so that when it’s time to write a post, I have plenty of ideas.

And finally, my “process” involves a lot of procrastination (which you could guess from the fact that all posts are written the night before they go onto my blog).  I’ll sit down, pick out a photo and get that ready and into the post, but then it’s fair game for a million other things: watching Pretty Little Liars, getting a snack, scrolling through Tumblr and Twitter…You name it, and I’ll do it all before writing a single word of a post. 

Now It’s Your Turn

Now I want to hear from you – why do you blog, and how does your writing process work? Today, I’m nominating:
 
Kenzie from Hello Neverland
Kelly from The Lady Errant
Crystal from The Happy Type

If I Could Crawl Between the Skyscrapers

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All my life, I’ve looked towards the city.

I saw myself there – in my one-bedroom apartment, or on the street outside of my building hailing a cab, or on my way to a restaurant with friends.  Or even just (and to be honest, mostly) standing in the center of it all, looking up.

In high-school, my junior class trip was to Boston. As we drove into the city for dinner our first night there, I stared up around us at the lights and a boy sitting next to me on the bus remarked, “You’re one of those people. The kind of person who just thinks the city is so beautiful.”

And I was. Oh, I was.

In that moment, I so wanted to be a part of it all, to get out of the small town where it felt like everyone knew my name (even though they didn’t – I couldn’t even say that about everyone in my high-school. It’s small, but not that small), and escape to somewhere among the skyscrapers. I wanted to find myself in an office with a city-view window, looking out over the beautiful winding roads and oddly shaped buildings that I got to call home.

It seemed so big, and I felt big enough to fit inside of it.

Beautiful Day

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“Daddy?”

I looked up from the sandcastle we were building in our backyard.  We were both sitting cross-legged in my forest-green turtle sandbox; it was built for children, and my six-foot tall father had to place both legs on either side of the box in front of him in order to fit at all.

It was a bright summer day, the sun we both loved so much burning our faces bright red and giving me a hundred new freckles to match my favorite red dress.  I’m sure my father had housework to do and dinner to prepare, but I’d begged him to come outside and play with me.  Like he always has whenever I truly wanted something, he eventually said yes.

He looked up from the pile of sand and shovels in front of us, shading his eyes from the sun that was moving down in the sky slowly, positioning itself directly in front of him and right above my own small head.

“Yes, sugarplum, chicken-lips, kitten-nose, honey-bunch, sweetie pie, chicken-noodle nose?”  My dad had a hundred nicknames for me, always placed one on top of the other like a stack of Leggos just waiting to fall over.  It was a game we played – him listing silly endearments, and me laughing, telling him to stop.

“Isn’t it a beautiful day?”

On Religion and What I Believe

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I wrote before about not knowing whether I believe in a God, in a Heaven or in any sort of afterlife.  I don’t think I do, and as much as I’d like to, I don’t think I ever will.  I was raised Catholic – Catholic School, church every Sunday (for a while)…  I learned the stories and the lessons, the things I was supposed to believe in.  But looking back now, I don’t think I ever did; there was never a conviction, an absolute faith that what I was being told was true.

But that doesn’t mean I am faithless.  There are things I have absolute certainty in – humanity, love, roses in the summer and evergreens in the winter…

I believe that even though I know the world could end tomorrow, it probably won’t.  I believe we have hundreds of thousands of years and mistakes left to make, and that humanity will keep growing.  Keep discovering.

I believe that there is love out there, however fleeting.  The love of a mother, of a brother, of a best friend, of a pet… I believe we have the capacity to fall in love a hundred times in our lives, but that’s no promise that we’ll find ourselves uttering our last words, still in love till our final moments.

I believe that in the spring, the world will bloom again – beautiful flowers and baby birds, and that in the winter we will cart evergreen trees out from the fields and into our homes to be decorated.

I believe in us, in humanity.  I believe that we don’t need an afterlife to make all of that important.  Even if we are just an accident of nature, evolution’s practice run – that doesn’t make us any less important, doesn’t mean we leave any less of an effect on the world.

I believe that we are important without any help from someone we can’t see or touch.  We are important and consequential in our own right.

We are Infinite

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From 30,000 feet in the air and rising higher every minute, I watched the world below me grow smaller.  I’d flown before, but somehow watching the highways and lakes below me shrink to the size of Polly Pockets make it feel new.  As though I’d never watched the world from this perspective before.

I watched the cars making their way down twisting highways that went on for miles, and I wondered which of them were going home, and which were running away from home.  I watched the lake that couldn’t have been more than a mile from the house in front of it, and wondered whether there was a teenage girl in that home who took her solace at that lake, because I know I would have.  I watched the football and baseball fields at the high schools below me, and thought of all the seniors who just graduated and are getting ready to leave everything they’ve ever known to start over at college.  I wondered whether they were excited, like I was, or terrified.  I thought of all the babies being born, and the 14-year-olds falling in love for the first time.  I imagined the old married couples who had been together for 50 years, and the young lovers planning their wedding day.

And I couldn’t help but think how amazingly endless humanity is.  How many possibilities there were on the ground below me, and how many incredible journeys we’ve yet to make.

Chbosky was right – we are infinite.

If I Had a Daughter

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I always say I’ll never have children – I’m not the mother type – but sometimes all I can think of are the things I’d do differently. The things I would teach a little girl if I had one, the values I hope she would have, the things and people I’d teach her to believe in – the foremost being herself.

I would teach her about the miracle that she is, about al the little pieces and moments that had to come together just right in order to create her, and how perfect she is. That if even one step her father or I had taken had been left instead of right her eyes would not shine the way that they do, her hair would not curl at the ends when she wakes up in the morning. that every moment of my life was only ever leading up to her.

I would teach her that life is busy, but every moment is so important. That walking fast does not only get you to the destination quicker, it takes you out of the moment and away from the sunshine and the things that you are supposed to be seeing as you go. That nothing is a waste of time, not even lying in bed all day with a bowl of ice-cream and a good book if you are enjoying yourself. I would teach her to always try to enjoy herself, to listen to the music all around her and in her head, to pick flowers even when everyone else tells her they are weeds because their being weeds does not make them any less beautiful.

I would teach her to say “I love you” in a hundred different languages. Not just to the man or woman that she will walk down the aisle towards one day, but to her father and I, to her best friend, to a moment, to her kitten. Most importantly, to herself each night even when she things there’s nothing to love, because there is always something to love in yourself

I would teach her not to need anyone but herself, not even me or her father. I would teach her that nobody and nothing other than herself can define her. That the miracle of her life is all the meaning she needs, and the sound of her heart beating will always remind her of that universal truth. But I would also teach her that not needing someone is not an excuse to not want someone, and that she should never deprive herself of desire or love or hope. That the touch of another human being, of a mother’s hug or a best friend’s hand in hers, these are the things that make like worth living each day.

I would teach her all of the things that I am still trying to learn myself.

The Destiny You Met at Closing Time

The man you meet in a bar at closing time, your friend pulling you towards the door while he tells you how beautiful your smile is, is not your destiny.  No matter the almost-relationship that ended just hours earlier, or the fact that his hair is red and his eyes are making you pull your friend back towards the still-open-for-just-a-few-more-minutes bar.

The beauty you are seeing in one another’s faces is a reflection off of yourself, off of the beauty of this night, and the cool air outside, and your friend’s hand in yours pulling you back to a warm bed and birthday cake. You are caught up in a moment, in a feeling that you think you’ve been searching for all your life.  And there are 13 minutes until closing time.  Thirteen beautiful minutes until you have to stop laughing at jokes you probably wouldn’t understand in the morning and follow your laughing friends back to their house, too-high heels in hand because you just can’t walk on the cobblestone with them.  It is physically impossible at 2 in the morning, the late-April breeze in your hair and a warmth in your whole body that you don’t remember having felt in a while, to continue walking on the balls of your feet as you have been for the last five hours.

In that moment, with his hand reaching for yours and a smile that won’t fall off your face until morning, he may seem like your destiny.  You will see the life the two of you could have had flash before your eyes, and you will imagine that you’ve met your future in a college bar, the bartenders yelling for last-call in the background.

But he is not.  He is just a man in the bar, one who you likely wouldn’t remember if you saw him the next day and whose path you will probably not cross again.  He is a beautiful moment, a memory of the night you tasted life and love and freedom for the first time in what seems like forever.