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Do You Need a Website?

Do You Need a Website?

Yes.

You need some sort of Internet presence, whether it’s a website, a blog, or a LinkedIn page.

When you send an email to someone you’ve never met, the first thing they will do is search for you on the Internet. It’s what I do. And it’s what countless people I talk to do.

For me, it’s the connection. If you’ve reached out to me for something, I want to know a little more about you so I can respond well.

  • If you have a website, that makes me think you are serious and professional.
  • If you have a blog, I get the impression you are dedicated.
  • If you have a LinkedIn profile, I feel you are serious about networking. Wait, let me backtrack a little.
    • If you have a completed LinkedIn profile, you are serious about networking. No picture and just a smattering of words tells me you didn’t really want to be there and it’s not important to you. Ouch.

No Internet presence at all? You are either new or very stubborn. I can deal with new. I would recommend an Internet presence first thing. Stubborn…, well.

Take a look at 19 Quick Ways to Grow Your Author Following on Social Media. It has tips on looking professional in whichever platform you choose. (Yes, you need to choose at least one)

Whether you have a website or a blog, you need a Hire Me page. This is essentially the About Me page but let’s readers know that you are ready and willing to work. Check out Your “Hire Me” Page: How to Get More Clients and Increase Your Rate for tips.

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#FailUp Friday – 003 Lessons I Learned From Saying No to an Editor

I was a freelancer for a commercial publication at the time. The editor and I were working together for close to a year. She sent me assignments for each issue without fail. I accepted those assignments, completed them, and produced appropriate articles, always in a timely fashion. I was always given adequate time to research and complete assignments. Although we never even met in person, I believed this editor and I had a good working relationship, beneficial to both parties. 

Then, she sent me one assignment that was out-of-the-ordinary: She asked for triple the amount of work she typically assigned in half the time normally allowed. I immediately called her, leaving a voicemail message that I needed to speak with her. I received no reply the entire day. Later that evening I constructed and sent an email outlining why the assignment wasn’t something I could accept. Yet, I received no response.

As a full-time freelancer, I juggle multiple assignments and projects from a variety of publications. I’ve never missed a deadline on an assignment in over 10 years, and I have a number of editors and publishers I work with on a regular basis. Throughout my career I’ve made it a policy never to accept more than I can reasonably handle, a practice I thought was sound and fair for both parties. I’ve been an editor myself, and I always appreciated when writers were honest about the amount of work they could handle rather than being unable to produce high quality work in a timely manner. 

Unfortunately, despite my explanation and what I thought was good judgment, I never heard from this particular editor again. Safe to say, she was unhappy with me and elected to discontinue working with me as a result. I’m by no means suggesting you should accept work you can’t handle; however, I do think any freelancer should be aware and prepared that declining work, even for the most valid of reasons, can be deadly.

Lessons I Learned from Saying No to an Editor:

  1. Saying no to even one assignment can terminate your relationship with an editor. Luckily, I’ve never faced this challenge before this instance, and it hasn’t happened since. Yet, it has occurred once, and I’ve certainly heard of other freelancers having the same challenge. I think it’s prudent for any freelancer to be aware that saying no, regardless of how great the relationship is, can change things.
  2. Know your own limits, and stick to them. I firmly believe declining that work, even though it resulted in one less client, was the correct thing for me to do in that situation. If I would have accepted the work, given the amount and deadline, I believe my work would have suffered.
  3. If possible, discuss the issue of declining work with an editor before it occurs. Perhaps it wouldn’t have changed the outcome in this situation, but I certainly would have appreciated not being blindsided by the outcome.

-Kathy

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#FailUp – 002 You Can’t Be Too Careful

#FailUp Friday is a weekly post where freelance education writers post mistakes and failures and what they learned. If you have a story to share, please submit it here: http://bit.do/WEMFailUp. Your story may end up in one of our #FailUp Fridays.

This story was sent in from a member. 

I’ve been in the business for almost two decades and am still learning the ropes.  (Sorry, newbies, it never truly gets easier.)  This particular disaster occurred about 4 years ago.  I was in a slow period and responded to an online ad.  The company needed someone to edit an online college course for $1,500.  The turnaround was tight, but that didn’t worry me because I had nothing else to do. Thank God for that because it turned into a FULL-TIME job for four weeks.  I was to read the course and all its accompanying materials (end of chapter questions, test questions, answer keys).  Yes, I had to verify the answer keys . . . . and you know how time-consuming that is.

The project turned out to be a nightmare.  I worked 160 hours for $1,500.   It was a course about restaurant management.  Whoever wrote it was challenged by the English language.  The writer was even more challenged by math concepts.  So whenever there were math problems (figuring out overhead costs or what to charge for a meal based on the cost of its components), the math was wrong.

Sometimes the writer used capital letters with a parenthesis after it for answer choices in assessment questions.  Sometimes the writer used lowercase letters with periods.  But when I asked the project manager for a style sheet, she didn’t know what one was!!!  I had to create one and then refer to it as the project dragged on.  If I asked my project manager a style question or what the company preferred, she had no idea.  None.

The going was slower than molasses. Did I mention how poor the writing and math was?  So as the deadline drew closer and I struggled to keep up, the PM took some chapters from me and did them herself–and then deducted $300 from my pay!

So what can you learn from my mistakes?

(1) Find out specifically what the job entails.  When someone wants to pay you a fixed sum for a course, be cautious.  You must know the number of pages for the price.  “Ten chapters” is too vague–it can mean 200 pages or 800 pages.   The project manager may beat around the bush and say because it’s online so there’s no page count.  Baloney.  I was editing the material in Word before it was entered into the platform, so there was a page count.  If you get  a vague answer, do NOT take the job!  I don’t care that you’re not busy.  Next week you could get a dream job, but if you’ve already signed a contract committing yourself to a month of slave labor, you’re stuck doing the slave labor.

(2) Get the information about what the course entails in writing.  It doesn’t have to be fancy: “You will edit 200 pages for $2,000.  The page content will include text, end of chapter questions, assessment questions, and the answer key. The work will be completed by X date.”

(3) Ask for a style sheet.  If the PM has no idea what you are talking about, offer to create one–for a price!  (BTW if the PM has no idea what one is, that speaks volumes about the company.)

(4)  Save your emails.  They are legal evidence if you need to sue for payment.  There was nothing in her emails saying that she could pull some of the work from me and deduct it from my pay. Fortunately when I mentioned this to the company’s CEO, the $300 was restored to me. (That made me wonder if this company had had “tangles” with freelancers before.)

(5) Be wary when working for a new company.  If you’ve never worked for them before, it’s just not wise to be trusting.  I don’t care if it has a “big name” in ed publishing.  I once had one of the biggest names in ed publishing state in a phone call that they were going to publish my book. Shortly thereafter the editor who made the promise during the phone call got married and went on her honeymoon, while I worked on her requested revisions.  She never returned to the company,and I was left trying to get the ear of someone else at the company . . .  without success.

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How This New Website Works

Grow

We’ve officially moved over from our old blog. I’ve gotten lots of great feedback from you and we’ve even grown!

My plan for this redesign was to create a site that more easily connects writers to each other and to education companies. In order to do that, some things had to change.

In the old site, readers signed up to receive job leads by email. The leads were posted in blog posts and subscribers received the blog posts by email via RSS feed. This site will run a little differently.

In order to create a site that will attract more education companies and make them want to post here, I felt that we needed to have a database of writers. That is coming along beautifully. As I write this post we have 205 writers listed in the database. Some selected multiple subject areas, but if a company comes looking and enters a subject in the search box they will find:

  • 52 math writers
  • 59 ESL/ELL/ESOL writers
  • 87 science writers
  • 121 social studies writers
  • 146 ELA writers
  • 28 writers in other areas

That’s a gold mine to an education company. And I believe this is what is going to make us the go-to site for finding and hiring freelance education professionals.

Writers in the Database

To encourage more writers to add their information to the database, I am reserving the ‘found’ job leads for them exclusively. That means that if you are on the Writers page, you will receive by email job leads that I’ve found in my rounds through the online education market. This is in addition to what the regular mailing list sends out. (P.S. I have a new set of job leads scheduled to go out Thursday morning. If you join the writer database today, you’ll get that email!)

Subscribers to the Mailing List

If you subscribe to the newsletter and job board but don’t put yourself in the writer database, you will receive blog posts focused on the art and business of freelance writing for the education market. Any jobs that are posted on the board will also post to the blog, so you will get those by email as well.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this new system.

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There’s a Listing on the Job Board

Fingers Crossed

Photo from Flickr

I am testing out my new mailing list this evening. You should be receiving this post in your email in about an hour. I’m crossing my fingers. You would think I’d be able to read and follow directions and things would work as I expect them to. Perhaps I misread…

Some updates:

  • As I said in the post title, there is a job on the board posted by Six Red Marbles! Take a look if you haven’t had the chance yet.
  • There is now a search box on the Writers page. I was wracking my brain trying to make a fancy one that would give results if someone wanted to search for a K-5 math correlation person, but that hasn’t worked out so far. So, type math in the search box and get all the writers who have math anywhere on their profile. You can also search by name.
  • If you registered on the website after you created your writer profile, you can edit your own profile once I’ve connected it your username. Just click on Add your profile to the list to get back into editing mode.
  • If you haven’t added your profile yet, register first and it will automatically connect your username to profile and you can edit immediately.

Last bit:

  • Writers who have completed a profile (with an email address included) will receive by email exclusive job leads that I come across in my searches, much like we did on the old site.

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#FailUp Friday – 001 Early Mistakes

#FailUp Friday is a weekly post where freelance education writers post mistakes and failures and what they learned. If you have a story to share, email it to Laura@WritingForTheEducationMarket.com and include #FailUp in the body. Let me know if you want it posted anonymously. Your story may end up in one of our #FailUp Fridays.

I began in the education market as an in-house editor for an educational design house that no longer exists. I wanted to write, but they told me they didn’t hire in-house writers. So I left after two years, with a sort-of promise from one of my colleagues.

My first mistake was when I was still an editor. I thought writers invoiced per manuscript page, not bookmap page, which inflated the amount I thought writers made.

After I began freelance writing, I made another error. I assumed every editor was like me, wanting the number of words assigned, no more or less, so that I didn’t have to waste time cutting copy to fit the page. An editor early on said I “wrote short,” because I gave her the exact word count, and she had nothing to play with. Lesson: It’s important to know what kind of editor you’re working with! That takes some time, which we often don’t have, given crazy deadlines. But I now “write long” when in doubt–an extra 50 words doesn’t hurt me.

-Judy Johnson

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A Profile Editing Breakthrough!

Many thanks to Eloise Elaine Ernst Schneider for helping me work out how writers can edit their own profile. It can be done! What we found was that if you were a registered subscriber to the site and logged in before you filled out the form, that form automatically connects with your username and when you log in again, you can edit it.

I checkmarked that “Let users register” button without really knowing what it would do. Now we know!

So here are a few options:

  1. You haven’t completed a profile yet, so you go to the Writers page and find the Register button on the right side. (Note: I only see this option on the full desktop site. I can’t find it in the mobile site. ) Create a username and password and then log in and complete the profile form.
  2. You already completed the profile but there wasn’t an option to register when you did, so you go to the site and register now with the same email address that you used on your profile. I will connect the username to the profile with the same email address. (I know, I know. There are already 162 writers that I would need to connect. It was my fault for not having it in place. I’ll connect.)
  3. You completed the profile before registering, but you don’t want to use the same email address to register, so register with your preferred email address and then you email me at Laura@WritingForTheEducationMarket.com and let me know which username to connect to which profile.

Another step in the right direction. Thanks for bearing with me! Oh, and at a reader request, I added a Company Name field in the form and I added an Other to the subjects where you can type your own in.

Fun!

Laura

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Moving Right Along (with a quick recap)

FireworksFirst, the Recap

Wow. Things are really moving along with the new site. I am going to publish this post in both WritingForTheEducationMarket.com and educationwriting.blogspot.com so that it’s part of the new blog history but everyone on the yet-to-be-moved-over email list will receive it in their email from the old blog. All this will get cleaned up soon. I was able to get some advice on moving the list over.

I’m getting some recurring questions, so I am going to address some of them here. I’ll set up an FAQ page on the new site soon (after the email list move).

  • The new website address is WritingForTheEducationMarket.com
  • The old blog address is educationwriting.blogspot.com.
  • The old blog address is where you have been receiving emails from Writing for the Education Market.
  • This will be changing very soon, so you need to
    • read all then WEM emails or blog posts from last week and this week to stay updated on the move
    • go to the Writers page on the new site and Join the List (I’ve had 46 new writers join since Sunday noon)
    • Check the job board on your own until I can get the email thing sorted out (HINT: There is already a job posted there!)
  • You can’t edit your profile (yet), so if you need to change something, fill out the form again and then email me at Laura@WritingForTheEducationMarket.com and let me know to delete your other one.

Moving Right Along

First, I got to meet Laura Bresko at ISTE today! Yay! Laura’s been a subscriber from the beginning and hires writers through WEM. It was a pleasure to be able to talk to her in person. Laura also introduced me to someone who could help spread the word about WEM. It was exciting!

Then, I stopped by Gale Group booth in the expo hall and the person in charge of content development was super excited to hear about our community. That was a great feeling. So tomorrow, I plan to stop at a few more places to see if I can make some connections.

If you know of someone who hires freelance writers, perhaps you’d be willing to send me their contact info. Those folks know others of their ilk and I bet we could get it moving along at a fast clip just by being social.

Next Steps

  • Move the email list over
  • Figure out how to let writers edit their own profiles
  • Notify all the folks who link to the blog of the new address
  • Close down the educationwriting.blogpost.com site

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Welcome to the New Blog Home for Writing for the Education Market

As part of the re-design, the blog has moved to WritingForTheEducationMarket.com from its previous home at educationwriting.blogspot.com.

Here’s what the new site will have:

  • A searchable database of freelance education writers, correlators, and editors
  • The ability for writers to create their own profile
  • A job board for companies to post job leads directly
  • A blog focused on the business of freelance writing for the education market.

We’re going to start with the searchable database. Go to the Join the Writer List page and create your profile. This information will automatically populate in the Writers page. The ability to search will be in place by July 8.

My next steps are to move the email list over so you continue receiving blog posts and job leads. More on that later.

I am heading to ISTE in Philadelphia and plan to visit with several education companies to tell them about this service. I’d love for them to come to the site and see a huge list of writers!

You can reach me at Laura@WritingForTheEducationMarket.com or comment on this post. I get all the comments in my email. Please let me know if there are any glitches that I need to fix.

Cheers!

Laura

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