Tag Archives: Freelance Writing

7 Nifty Resources for Freelancers

Jaclyn Law, PWAC Torontoby Jaclyn Law

Freelancers are a resourceful bunch, and I love finding out about cool tips, tricks and tools from other writers. I’d like to share some recent discoveries, plus a few that aren’t so new but are worth a reminder.

Organize a meeting: The next time you’re planning a meeting, save time and reduce email clutter with Doodle, a simple (and free!) tool that lets everyone indicate their availability. Features like calendar integration, email alerts and encryption are available for a fee.

Centralize your social media: Instead of listing all the co-ordinates for my Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media accounts on my business cards, I’ve been using about.me as a hub (see my page). It’s free to create a personalized page; for a fee, you can change the URL to a custom domain, such as your business website address.

Speaking of business cards: Even in this digital age, I think business cards are a must-have. I’ve never been disappointed with the ones I order from Vistaprint.ca. (I pay a little extra for heavier cardstock.) Choose from hundreds of templates or upload a design.

Manage projects in the cloud: A web-savvy client introduced me to Basecamp, an easy-to-use project-management tool. It helps you track assignments, schedule meetings, keep stakeholders informed and more. Try it for free for 60 days. Android and iOS apps are available too. Another one to try is Trello – I haven’t used it, but Matthew MacKinnon, editor of walrus.ca, extolled its virtues at a recent PWAC Toronto Chapter seminar on collaboration.

Read more magazines: The magazine industry can break your heart sometimes, but I’m still a magazine junkie. Next Issue from Rogers lets me read and research more than 100 publications, for a reasonable monthly fee, on my iPad Mini. Try Next Issue free for 30 days. (Full disclosure: Rogers Media is one of my clients.) Or, if you have a Toronto Public Library card, enjoy e-books, audiobooks, magazines, movies and music online for free – details here. Not in Toronto? Ask your local library what it offers online.

Avoid the ATM: I’m not suggesting that you switch banks for this, but I’m enamoured with a new feature from CIBC: eDeposits. Most of my clients still pay with cheques, and I had a weekly ritual of going to (and often lining up for) the bank machine. Now, using the CIBC mobile app, I stay at home and snap pictures of the cheques instead. Presto! The money is in my account.

Save on travel insurance: Going on holiday this summer? Before you book your trip, check the fine print for your credit cards to see what insurance you have. If you need more coverage (as many freelancers do, including me), you have lots of options. While planning a trip to the U.S., I found one that works for me and my husband (who’s also self-employed): BMO MasterCard Travel and Medical Protection. For about the same amount I used to spend on insurance for a single short trip, the Total Coverage option provides emergency medical, trip interruption/cancellation, baggage loss/delay and collision damage waiver coverage for a whole year, no matter how many trips we take. You’ll need a BMO credit card, but there’s no annual fee for the BMO Air Miles MasterCard.

P.S. If you’re visiting Toronto this summer, join PWAC Toronto Chapter for Cheers with Peers! We’re meeting on June 25, July 23, Aug. 20 and Sept. 10 (all Wednesdays) at Pogue Mahone, starting at 7 p.m.

Jaclyn Law is the president of PWAC Toronto Chapter. 

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The Value of Belonging: Meet the PWAC Danforth Success Group

Danforth Success Group PWAC OntarioBy Jennifer D. Foster

Woody Allen once said that “80 percent of success is showing up.” He’s definitely onto something there. I’ve been a member of the PWAC Danforth Success Group (a subgroup of the PWAC Toronto chapter) for about four years and it’s proved invaluable.

Founded by freelance writer/editor and long-time PWAC member John Schofield in May 2008, our lively group of nearly a dozen like-minded writers and editors (who also wear many other hats, including award-winning authors, accomplished musicians and singers, mentors, tutors, web gurus, prize-winning photographers, health-care professionals, piano teachers, Amnesty International volunteers and TV hosts) has been meeting at various neighbourhood cafes to commiserate and share tips on freelancing ever since. John says he thought the group “would be a great way for PWAC members living in the area to meet, socialize and discuss our business challenges and triumphs. It was also a response to my own feeling of isolation as a freelance writer working at home.”

I missed our meetings for a while after joining (raising a family, work deadlines and volunteer commitments thwarted my best intentions!), but I’ve recently started attending again with regularity. And I’m so glad I have. Being part of this group is yet another way to get even more out of my PWAC membership. As John says, “There’s no substitute for sharing ideas and advice face to face.” I couldn’t agree more. The informal networking and support provided by our small group setting has provided myriad perks for me, including freelancing writing assignments from a member during her tenure as editor ofa meetings and corporate travel magazine. I wrote eight articles, learned a ton about that industry, increased the range of my portfolio and made several business-related contacts for future articles. I also suggested a fellow writer friend to the editor, who, like me, wrote many articles for the publication.

And our small group amazes me with its generosity, humour and expertise. Someone’s always willing to share sound advice, a great organizing tip or a time-saving technique or offer up a helpful contact or a useful website. And the group is great at brainstorming for story ideas, potential sources and prospective clients. The conversation is always stimulating and diverse, often veering way off (the freelancing writing) track and into life in general, providing much-needed social time and lots of laughs (added bonus: a great stress reliever)!

A number of members have been part of the group since its beginnings and that’s created a comforting sense of continuity. New members are always welcome, though, adding a fresh dynamic to the group and yet another chance to network and make new friends. I’ve made some wonderful friends by being part of this group, friends who totally “get” what it’s like to be a freelance writer.

I’ve also recently been inspired to join a few other writerly organizations, including the Toronto branch of the Canadian Authors Association. And some of our group members are actively involved in other writing groups. I’m considering joining yet another writers’ group to take the creative writing plunge.

Another bonus of belonging to PWAC Danforth Success Group? Being able to tap into a rich talent pool. I recently wrote a feature for the 2015 issue of the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market on the anatomy of a successful short story, and one of our members, who is an award-winning short story author, graciously agreed to be a source. His quotes and information brought much-needed depth and a unique perspective to my piece, thanks to his vast knowledge and experience. In a similar vein is being able to recommend my fellow group members, when possible, to (potential) clients. I’ve passed on work to group members – and vice versa – when I’m just too busy to juggle yet another project and crazy deadline, knowing that (potential) client is in good hands.

Our monthly lunchtime meetings provide an endless forum for sharing writing-, editing- and communication-related quandaries, frustrations, triumphs, milestones and the dreaded client horror stories. And I always leave the group meeting feeling not only energized and positive about the writing biz, but also quite gratified to be part of this fab little community of freelancers.

For more information about the PWAC Danforth Success Group, contact John Schofield at j.schofield@pwactoronto.org.

Jennifer D. Foster is a Toronto-based freelance writer and editor, specializing in fiction/non-fiction, custom publishing, magazines, and marketing and communications. Her company is Planet Word.

Image credit: sxc.hu

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Filed under PWAC Ontario Community, PWAC Ontario Events, Writing Tips & Advice

Sharing Stories, Sharing Success

Kim Arnottby Kim Arnott

Through the years I’ve gathered an invaluable amount of inspiration, encouragement and practical advice from my PWAC colleagues. I’m always awed by the generosity of our group, with people taking the time to share everything from technology tips and market suggestions to simple advice about managing to be a freelance writer and a sane person all in the same day.

I hope that this space will further that tradition of sharing and networking. And if you have any doubts about the value of such interactions, I offer you the following story.

A number of years ago, I was talking with a former Montreal PWAC member about stories we’d recently had published. She said she’d had success in pitching a story about the city’s great greasy spoon restaurants (“A Dozen Delicious Dives”) to a city mag. When I told her it was a fabulous idea, she urged me to pitch it to a Hamilton magazine, which I eventually did.

I’d never written for the magazine before that, and in the end, they never took that story. But as is so often the case in this profession, the editor called with a different assignment. And then, a few assignments later, she called with an odd question. Did I know anything about trade magazines? Or even home building? The truth?… of course I didn’t. The answer? … I’m a quick learner.

It turns out that her publisher also owned some trade magazines and needed a freelance editor for one of them. I landed what turned out to be a well-paying gig that lasted for several years, offered a great experience and opened some other doors. And I could trace it directly back to my conversation with Julia.

Often our interactions inspire us. But they can also enrich us. The story idea is now yours to pitch, and may it bring you as much success as it brought me. Just be sure to bring your stories back to help inspire us all.

Kim Arnott has been a freelance writer and editor since 1994, writing on a variety of topics for newspapers, magazines and digital media. She is PWAC’s current Regional Director for Ontario.

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Ontario PWAC Member Jennifer Foster Shares Freelance Writing Tips and Truths

Freelance writer Jennifer Foster

Jennifer Foster

We asked Toronto-based freelance writer and editor Jennifer D. Foster from Planet Word to share some of her favorite tips and tricks for succeeding as a freelance writer in Ontario.

Jennifer has been in the writing and editing business for 18 years, 11 of those spent freelancing. Her clients are from the magazine, book and custom publishing industries as well as the marketing and communication sectors and include The Globe and Mail, Art Gallery of Ontario, Kids Can Press, Ontario Dental Association, Quill & Quire and Writer’s Digest Books. She works on everything from adult and children’s fiction and non-fiction, magazines, curatorial content and brochures to menus, book reviews, press releases, packaging and blogs.

Enjoy this Q&A-style interview from one of our PWAC Ontario members and email miranda@miranda-miller.com if you have tips or advice of your own to share in an upcoming post!

1. Which tools or software help keep your freelance projects organized?

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