"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

5 Reasons Freelance Workers Should Own P.O. Boxes


A few years ago, I was reading a client's Facebook profile page and discovered something that made my jaw drop.

Here, in this very public forum of millions of people, this single woman had plastered very personal info that included her home address, relationship status and phone number.

I immediately contacted her and politely alerted her to "the error of her ways."
And this oversight is not uncommon.
Sometimes in an effort to be "transparent" or friendly, people overshare.

But, be forewarned. It could cost you.
An act, seemingly innocent, can cause future detriment.
Even if you have lived at the same address for decades, are proud of the "posh" neighborhood in which you reside, or have no problems disclosing your where-abouts, publishing personal information in public forums is generally not a good way to go.

Why?
It could potentially expose you to criminal activity such as burglary, bodily harm, stalking or identity theft. Particularly for females.
(And on a side note here: ladies, do you really want that "crazy ex" to have access to your new life with his old issues?) "Houston, we have a problem!" LOL

But, don't just take my word for it.
P.O. Boxes typically provide greater safety and sanity for various reasons.

According to Quickbooks.com:
"If you use your home address as your business address, that means you need to provide your personal address whenever a customer or a vendor needs contact information. Using your home address may compromise your family’s privacy. The last thing you want is for a disgruntled customer or vendor to be able to show up at your doorstep."

And Entrepreneurshiplife. com further states, "If you get checks and contracts in the mail, it is much safer for them to go into a locked box inside of a post office than a mailbox in front of your house.
One of the most common sources of identity theft is mail stolen from a mailbox. Keep your business safe by sending your mail to a locked box."



If you are doing business as a freelance professional, here are five compelling reasons to consider a P.O. Box as a point of contact.


1. Not everyone likes to communicate via email. Snail mail provides an alternative.
Hello?  This includes some senior citizens who are not very computer savvy, direct mail marketers, or even charitable organizations seeking donations. Having a P.O. Box simply increases your contact options.
Here's another related reason: as a popular blogger, I often get requests from authors and businesses to do book reviews, try out new products, or take surveys.  A physical address makes it easier for others to mail tangible products. And who doesn't like free goodies?

2. Embedded forms on websites don't always work.
Website forms are often perceived as a quick way for readers to pose questions or perhaps to request  professional services. But here's a newsflash: site forms don't always function properly. Tech glitches happen to the best of us.

3. P.O. Boxes are very affordable.
Depending upon your geographic location and the size of your box, rental could cost less than your
weekly Starbucks' tab. To check out prices and offerings where you are, here's a link to the U.S. post office: https://www.usps.com/manage/po-boxes.htm
You can even apply for one online.

4. P.O. Boxes offer privacy.
You can operate your business from your basement and no one needs to know.
A P.O. Box also prevents what I like to call location stereotype. Believe it or not, sometimes people will make assumptions about you, your income level, your education and your standard of living based upon your neighborhood or surrounding areas. Why deal with the hassle if you don't have to?

5. P.O. Boxes add a layer of professionalism and credibility.
This is particularly true if you are selling things online and want customers and clients to feel more comfortable and confident--for refunds, follow-up, problems, etc.
Or if your street name sounds a little silly for professional purposes.

That wraps things up here, folks.

Keep in mind that with the holidays just around the corner, a P.O. Box address posted on your site positions you to perhaps receive a lovely Xmas card or gift from your faithful readers and fans...or even me. :-)

For optimal success, think "inside the box."


Thoughts? Agree or disagree?
Do you have a Box?

Image credits: Pixabay.com

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The 3R's Series Provides More Writers' Resources!

 

RECOMMENDED READS AROUND THE WEB



HOW TO FIND PAYING CLIENTS
 
 
HOW BLOGGERS BENEFIT FROM CREATIVE COLLABORATIONS
 
 
GET MORE BANG FROM YOUR MARKETING BUCK!
 
 
SINATRA IN HIS KITCHEN
 
 
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR BLOGGERS
 
 
KEY QUESTIONS FOR CREATING A SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY
 
 
MESSY IS THE NEW PERFECT


RESOURCES


 

Chicago Writers Association hosts "An Uncommon Writers' Conference"
 
 
31 Free Writing Contests
 
 
 
SMART BRANDING FOR BUSY BLOGGERS
 
Insider's tips, resources and strategies to earn more with less effort.

TO LEARN MORE OR TO ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY, CLICK LINK BELOW:
https://payhip.com/BankableWriting


REVIEW

5 Sizzling Secrets to Writing Hot Web Copy that Sells
By: Nina Lewis
 
 


During a typical blog-hopping session, I came across a link to Ninaonline.
If I recall correctly, it was a site that was linked to from an article I was reading on another writer's site. Immediately, I was impressed with Nina's set-up and the quality content on her blog.
As a result, I signed up for her free marketing report "5 Sizzling Secrets."
It did not disappoint!
This information product was packed with useful information to help writers, bloggers and authors to promote their work, increase their visibility and their bottom line.
Additionally, it addresses the psychology behind "selling" your words.
 
"5 Secrets" is a brief but substantive read, that I'm betting you'll often refer to for answers with future marketing issues. The only negative were the few typos I detected.
I give it **** 4 Stars out of  5. 
 
To learn more, visit
http://www.ninaonlinelv.com/home/
 
If you find this info useful, let me know by leaving a comment.
Have a great writing week!
 
 
 
Image credits: # 5 Freedigitalphotos.net
R Block: Pixabay.com
 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Food 4 Thought Friday-Hungry for Tradition?

  

A few months ago, I made a Saturday trip to a neighborhood store, in search of a recipe box to “pretty up” my kitchen and help organize some of my party menu ideas.

When I arrived, I was overwhelmed with the array of new products and gadgets for today’s domestic diva. Bold, bright colors, pretty patterns, and elaborate displays…yay!

I was like a kid in a candy store! Like most women, I could have spent hours exploring, shopping and planning. But my budget and my practical side reasoned that I should get what I came for and find the quickest exit.

My excitement was short lived though, when I became frustrated that with all the stuff stacked, I couldn’t seem to find a simple recipe box.

I flagged down the first clerk I spotted.
“Can you help me?” I asked a young, attractive lady in her early to mid twenties.

As our conversation went on, I was dumbfounded at what I came to discover.
After darting from aisle to aisle, this “modern girl” confessed that she really didn’t even know what a recipe box was!

When I enlightened her, she replied, “Oh, I don’t cook!” as if it were a badge of honor.
I thanked her for her help and left, when an inventory check ultimately revealed there were no more boxes available. But, later it got me to thinking…

Does “slaving” over a hot stove make some women feel less “liberated?”
Have the traditions that many of us grew up with become outdated like 8-track tapes?
Are we “starving” our relationships to feed our careers, egos and bank accounts?
This is food for thought that’s definitely worth examining.

Though cooking is not necessarily a “rite of passage” into womanhood, it’s a skill that I believe is nice to have, no matter how successful (a man or woman) is, or how much “bacon” they bring home.

As a self-professed foodie, I could cite numerous reasons, but here are the top reasons cooking is “hot,“ for single and married folks alike.
 
 
1. Cooking provides the perfect “recipe” for romance.

Like most women, I have always loved being wined and dined at fancy restaurants by male suitors as part of the courting process. But, as relationships evolve, there’s something very “intimate” about a home cooked meal shared in the privacy of one’s home--- with candlelight, a little music, dancing and the ability to let your hair down as the situation dictates.

2. Cooking at home is often healthier than restaurant eating.

When eating out, many times foods are processed, served with rich and fattening sauces, fried in excess fat, “super sized” and without proper preparation for those with dietary restrictions and food allergies. Dining out can be costly in more ways than one.

3. Culinary skills add to any woman or man’s romantic resume.

Think of it as increasing your “Blue Book” value.
Here’s what a male writer recently wrote: ”The number of women these days that openly admit they can’t cook is astonishing. When a woman says she can’t cook, the first thought that comes to a lot of good men’s minds is “How the hell do you take care of yourself and how would you be able to take care of me?”

4. Cooking allows you to be more independent and more realized.

No more waiting for your mom to fix your favorite meal, or hoping that your neighborhood restaurant will have Pot roast on Monday’s menu, or dialing for take-out; you can fix it yourself!

5. Cooking seduces all the senses.

From the pleasant aromas, to the eye-appealing arrangements on the plate, in a variety of colors and textures, to the heavenly taste--- a good meal can satisfy those we care for on so many levels. And for those with kids, it adds to their childhood memories.



6. Cooking is a fun way to bond.

You can cook and he can make the salad. Feed each other, or perhaps share stories and traditions associated with family recipes. Cooking makes a man feel pampered and catered to. And if he’s special to you, isn’t that how you’d like for him to feel?


7. Many of the characteristics that make for an effective, skilled cook apply to writing as well.

Things like: time management, following directions, creativity and presentation.
Wouldn't you agree?

And there’s good news here: You don’t have to sign up for culinary school or subject yourself to endless trial and error; there are many online cooking sites and YouTube videos that provide step-by-step tutorials to increase your cooking I.Q.!

HERE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITES:

DIVAS CAN COOK
http://divascancook.com/

EAT THIS POEM

http://www.eatthispoem.com/

THE RECIPE CRITIC

https://therecipecritic.com/


 
Another useful strategy is to purchase cookbooks authored for children. They provide a great starting point for learning about kitchen safety, standard measurements, and easy to follow recipes.

Don't be intimidated by the process.
Even if you are only able to eventually create one "signature dish" it's something that will make you feel proud (IMHO).

Bon appetit!

Those are my thoughts on this "hot" topic, folks.
Would love to hear yours.
Agree or disagree?
What's your signature dish?

As always, thanks for reading.



 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

How to Edit Fiction With Greater Finesse



Editing Fiction is more than Dotting I’s and Crossing T’s
by J. Stephen Howard


As the author of five books, I’ve come to appreciate multiple drafts of a story. I remember sprinting to the end of my first novel, just hoping I’d find a way to conclude what was, to me at the time, a cumbersome narrative. I was out of breath, so to speak, and distracted by the light at the end of the tunnel when I should’ve gone back to dive deeper.

I’ve come to see the first draft of a book now as capturing the basic shape of the story. Imagine Leonardo Davinci drawing the rough outlines of figures for a fresco and then going back to fill them in with color and shading.

Instead of a painter’s palette, writers have sensory details, and as such, we must realize that the job is not done after the ink dries on the first draft. When I go back and revisit my narratives, I put myself in the story as a reader, and if I can’t envision what it’s like to be there, that’s a problem.

Suspension of disbelief is the cornerstone of fiction. Especially in the case of genre stories—science-fiction, fantasy, and horror—writers have to give their readers something to hang their suspension on.

I recently reread the short story “The Fall of the House of Usher” by the master of sensory details, Edgar Allen Poe. Poe, in this classic haunted house story, makes the centerpiece of his setting stand out in ways that virtual reality these days could not.
“The discoloration of ages had been great. Minute fungi overspread the whole exterior, hanging in a fine tangled web-work from the eaves… and there appeared to be a wild inconsistency between its still perfect adaptation of parts, and the crumbling condition of individual stones.”

Usher’s house is described as if it’s infected by a virus. Indeed, later on the protagonist personifies it, claiming every stone is “sentient.”

A lot of us would vaguely depict the house as being ancient and scary-looking. In rushing to the next plot point, we forget to take a beat to soak up the scenery.

Of course, one can overdo it, but that’s where the artist’s eye is needed. Writers must develop an understanding of when the work is done and when it’s incomplete.

When editing my latest novel, Bountiful Harvest, after tackling mechanical issues, I went back and reread the whole book, a chapter at a time. In trying to mimic a painter who squints at his work, I closely examined each scene within each chapter.

As I did this, I made sure I included sensory details on every page. If I couldn’t picture myself there, I would add a visual cue, which is the most common sensory detail. But, also, I would consider adding auditory, tactile, or olfactory touches which are often neglected in stories.

The trick, though, is not to do too much. Doing so would be like the painter ruining his original vision. It goes back to putting yourself in the scene and making yourself believe.

Without your own suspension of disbelief, how could you expect as much from your readers?

Thoughts? Comments?

BIO:
J. Stephen Howard has written several paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy and horror books, including the short story collections Frankenstein’s Confessional and The Legend of a Blues Guitar. He has also written the novels Fear in Appleton, Fabled Circus and its sequel, Bountiful Harvest, which will launch exclusively on Amazon this November 27th for 90 days before being available on all major digital platforms.
Author links:

www.jstephenhoward.com

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Review of William Kenower's Fearless Writing

 

 
FORMIDABLE WRITING:
A REVIEW OF WILLIAM KENOWER'S FEARLESS WRITING

By Noelle Sterne


Introduction

I have to admit it: I am in love with Bill Kenower’s blogs on Author Magazine. He posts a new one every several days, and each is thoughtful, powerful, insightful, enlightening, uplifting, and often funny. He pushes the limits of what it means to be a writer-author and is admirably forthright about his own struggles.

Now he has published a book that incorporates his wisdom and honesty. The title intrigued me immediately: Fearless Writing. As I do with many books, I started reading the book before bed. Big mistake. It pulled me in for another hour, from one chapter to the next. Who ever heard of a self-help page-turner?
 
Overview

This is truly a unique writing craft book—and much more. It’s a writing craft and life book. My review here is uncharacteristically long because you should know about the treasures the book contains.

Kenower’s is not a typical how-to book on writing but a how-to on attitude, outlook, and perspective, all of which correct and inspire in us courage, confidence, persistence, and truth to our vision. More than a shot in the writing arm, it’s a shot in the psyche.

He covers the gamut of the writing life, from creating to revising to rejection to writing groups to marketing to our fears of failure. But his approach is unique. The foundation, unlike so many other books on writing, is not self-discipline, fear of regrets, wasted talent, or the usual writing-is-hard-complaining-writhing-bleeding-incessant struggle of so many (oxymoronic) writing self-help books. Rather, Kenower’s premise for our writing is that we should feel good and love ourselves writing(!) Writing, he maintains, is supposed to feel good.

I warn you. The reading is not facile. To get the most—or anything—you must stop, think, digest, and ask how much of Kenower’s insights and pointed observations apply to you. The exercises at the end of each chapter help you take in and practice the meat of the chapter. And they are not all traditional prompts, by any means. Examples: Two characters you create talking about their worst and best days of writing (p. 11). Your rules for what you believe is a good story, poem, or other work, with required illustrations (p. 61). Instructions for a guided meditation (and no writing, p. 114). A technique for “waiting for better ideas” after a fight or low feelings, and then for writing (p. 146).


 
On Writing

Kenower views our writing in an intimate, inextricable relationship with the whole of each of us. He objectifies our writing for us to understand what it is and how it’s behaving so we can choose and act. Write this or that. Wallow or rejoice. Shut out the world and write what’s in your gut or write to the market and try to please everyone.

The specific advice on writing is equally inspired. Don’t worry about the language but “Feel first; write second” (p. 30). Your reader wants to know what it feels like—whatever you’re describing or whatever quandary you’ve put your protagonist in. Especially when you’re stuck, “stop thinking about language and . . . see or feel what you’re describing” (p.177). Remember that anything in the so-called “real” world had to exist first in someone’s mind and imagination (p. 214)—and it certainly could be yours.

Too, we must throw out what Kenower calls “the mother of all writer fears.” This is our often unquestioned assumption: “What other people think of what I write is more important than what I think” (p. 98). Instead, we should strive to feel our creative power and purpose in writing and “immerse . . . fully” (p. 186) in what we have chosen to write. Our only job as writers “is to write the story [or poem or essay or novel] we most want to write in the way we most want to write it and then let our audience find it” (pp. 148-149). This is the theme of the book.

The Language

Kenower is a supreme wordsmith, and his phrasing is to be much admired. He points out “our nearsighted desire” to write what we think we should and to our refusal to yield to the coveted “Flow,” in which all goes perfectly (p. 14). With a story that doesn’t work, he finds himself “leaning against the headwind of my disinterest” (p. 33). And sometimes he succumbs to “the hamster wheel of my [negative] thoughts” (p. 214).

In that wonderful “Flow,” he exchanges the first exhilaration of a new piece for the “patient pleasure of discovery” (p. 106). In choosing to write what we are genuinely curious about, we “rid[e] the momentum of thought that ensues” (p. 135). Through all of this, we must recognize and accept our moments—and hours—of “creative discomfort” the feeling that guides what we really should write (p. 90). And many more, all of which I envied.

The Undergirding of Spirituality

As in his blogs, Kenower shows great courage and audacity in his unabashed spirituality. We are not running out of time. We are basically okay; everything is okay. Contrary to our seemingly ubiquitous inner judge, he asserts, “Humans are always complete . . . “(p. 105). With these indomitable declarations and assumptions, he doesn’t rationalize, justify, apologize, defend, alibi, or explain. A lesson all its own.

Writing, he says, “is not thinking; it is listening” (p. 108). This truth goes with the advice to heed our internal personal guidance system. He explains and extols the guidance system in each of us (yes, you too) and admits to “the agony of working without” it (p. 83). “All people, regardless of whether they’re writers, have an unerring guidance system. It’s how we know what we should do, whom we should marry . . .” (p. 91). As we ask and listen, we are instructed what to do and where to go in our work.

Once I learned this lesson, instead of fretting or yielding to previously hugged despair/despondency/depression, and flinging into the tub of ice cream, I found the guidance system invaluable and infallible. When I am stuck in a plot, trying to figure out a sequence, utterly blank at what piece to pick up or where to go next, I ask and listen. The answer always comes.

But Kenower doesn’t leave us hanging in the amorphous Universe; he always applies his teachings (and learnings) to writing. He reminds us of the poles we often feel hurled between: We love our writing—or fear we won’t be good enough. We stay, with love, absorbed in our current project—or worry that no one will like it and will condemn or ridicule it, including ourselves.
In remedy, Kenower always returns to the cardinal rudder idea: write what you love, what you’re curious about, what you’re interested in. “Writing is supposed to feel good” (p. 35). Remembering these “rules” is how you kick out fear and worry about the value of your writing—and yourself. You become engrossed in and enthralled by your overriding fascination with the work itself and your mysterious, magnificent creation of it.
The Style

Kenower’s style is engaging, personal, sometimes juicy. He is friendly but not oversimplified, highly intelligent but not ponderous. He talks easily about his personal life—cleaning the house with his wife on Sundays, picking up bagels for brunch, telling stories about his two sons. Although intimate, his tales are not cloying, self-serving, or sensational—they always have a point, and he brings them back to our writing. For example, when his older son Max was two, Dad pointed to a favorite toy truck. Max focused on and stared at the end of the pointing finger, not the truck. Max taught Kenower, and he teaches us: Our writing is more effective when we point and let the reader conclude. That is, he advocates the well-hammered saw, “Show, don’t tell” but advises us not to show everything.

He is often authoritative, and sometimes didactic, but never offensively so. He’s occasionally pedantic but not self-importantly. Rather, Kenower’s his tone results from his unshakable conviction and is aimed only at helping fellow sufferers. Throughout, he is always human, approachable, and one of us.

The Format

The book has some attractive physical features. It balances nicely in the hand, a traditional 6 x 9 paperback format. It’s good for reading upright, reclining, or flat in bed (my favorite). I would have wished, though, for subheads within each chapter to break up the rather small print. The book is printed on cream-colored paper that does not highlight the print itself. You can look at the format as a test of your desire to keep going and taking in his wisdom. My quibbles here, though, aren’t from Kenower’s decisions but the publisher’s, likely for economy.

The Teaching

Kenower, a closet iconoclast, eschews the usual advice to writers: xxx words/pages a day, set the timer for xx minutes, completing xxx prompts. Yet the craft aspects are very helpful. He emphasizes the “Show, don’t tell” rule. He reviews and explains the three story arcs (I only knew of one!): the physical, emotional, and intentional. They are very helpful to me now as I wrestle (lovingly) with the present novel, especially the intentional arc.

The arcs all require some prethought and articulation. I used to rail, fight against, rebel against, refuse to entertain, object to, and stonewall all such outlines and prethinking. Ah, I thought, I only need the Muse. But now, with Kenower’s direction, I am more conscious. The Muse still alights much of the time but is now tamed and made to sit down as I look more closely at what is down on paper. And I ask myself his cardinal questions: What do/did I most want to say? Have I said it?

Kenower is also sensitive to writers’ angst and keeps returning to the major message. Throughout, and especially to conquer staleness and despair, he asks us to ask ourselves, What do I want to share? Why? What am I most curious about? What do I really want to write about? What am I in love with?

As we respond, our answers fuel us, keep us going, remind us why we started this thing. Whatever the trends, fads, current lucrative markets, practical advice about what sells from well-meaning mentors and relatives, we need to keep coming back to these questions and our answers.

So, he says, write the story you most want to write. Have the confidence to follow your desires. Self-doubt is the “vampire” of unity. Again, writing is supposed to feel good (p. 37).

If we write for other reasons primarily—“the world’s full arsenal of preference” (p. 154), like money, recognition, approbation, publication, awards, we will feel unsatisfied and discontented, and the specter of self-betrayal will lurk. That arsenal of preferences is not inherently bad. But, like a holiday sparkler, Kenower reminds us, the delight fizzles after a very few seconds.

When we write what we love, are interested in, and curious about, we complete, finish, even publish our work. We feel a great a sense of satisfaction, self-fulfillment, and integrity: I’ve done what I was supposed to do. And we go on to the next.

The Application

As experienced a writer as I am, reading Kenower reminded me: Don’t force it, stop trying to dazzle. Relax, allow, know I am the receptacle, open, trust. The ideas and right words and evolution of the piece will come.

This principle was proved to me (again) recently when I was asked to contribute a major essay to a special issue of an online literary magazine. The editor and I discussed and agreed on a heady cluster of inspiring ideas. Oh boy, I thought, am I important! They want something great from me.

Well, when the time came to write the thing, my brain was brick. The Flow had left the building. I tossed and turned in my desk chair and pecked out a few words. Got up, flung around, wished it were already time for night-escape TV. I was making the cardinal mistake: caring too much what others thought or might think. And it hogtied me.

Finally, following Kenower, I asked myself: What am I curious about on this topic? What do I really think, feel, see? What do I want to share? His words floated in: “Writing is not thinking; it’s listening” (p. 108). That broke it. Answers to those questions floated in, and, blissfully in the Flow, I typed so fast I could. (And the editor was very pleased with the piece.)



 

A Niggling Criticism

With so much to praise, almost embarrassed I point out a couple of flaws. My editor’s eye couldn’t help but notice some repetition, even exact phrases, for example when Kenower talks about his son diagnosed on the autistic spectrum. And sometimes he repeats too often the dictum of writing what you love and everyone else be damned. But such slips are easily forgiven, couched as they are in his wisdom and passion for writing.


The Theme

Kenower restates his theme in many ways: not only, first, to write what we love, but also and most importantly, to recognize our power. The book deals less with craft, as he says, and more with our self-confidence as writers. The motto of Author Magazine, of which he is founder, editor, and principal blogger, also proclaims, We are the authors of our lives (pp. l43-145). Despite rejections and disappointments, we determine our successes. Part of our power is to “write fearlessly and with complete confidence” (p. 208). Our success is a choice—to trust ourselves and continually shore up our self-confidence (p. 208).

After all, the world “is a perfect mirror for what we believe” (p. 208). Seeing is not believing, but rather the opposite—believing leads to seeing. If we tell ourselves stories of failure, in writing and life, they “gain momentum” and we somehow feel we must prove them true (p. 137). As we doubt, the evidence appears; as we build confidence in ourselves, the evidence appears. Our job is to surrender to our writing (pp. 208-212).

Radically, Kenower suggests, very much akin to the advice of athletes and others, to “practice feeling success” (p. 206). Fearless writing, he says, “is about understanding your creative power” (p. 102) and acting on it.

As you might have guessed, I recommend Fearless Writing as a superb addition to your writing library. When you need a writing vitamin, flip it open at apparent random, à la I Ching, and you’ll hit on just the right passage for what’s ailing you. When you feel the need for steady doses, read a little at a time daily and you will begin to soak in (and act on) the messages.



In Fearless Writing, Kenower enables us to live more easily with our writing. His vision and conviction teach us to perceive our lives and writing as the authors and to keep writing with courage, confidence, and love.

Images: Pixabay.com

Thursday, September 21, 2017

6 Tips for Designing a Home Office You'll Love!




SUCCESS PRINCIPLES 


Home offices are all the rage these days. And with good reason: in this Internet age, with changing dynamics, more professionals are choosing positions that allow flexibility, convenience, the opportunity to design their own “perks,” and the option to work from home.

According to the Freelancer’s Union, “53 million U.S. workers are now freelancing” from the comforts of their own space.

Working from home affords many benefits for today’s workers--- less stress, less travel time, fewer travel-related expenses, and more quality time spent with family members.


A HOME OFFICE CAN ENHANCE YOUR PERFORMANCE

To make the most of working from home, a dedicated space is important.
It can increase productivity, allow for greater organization, accommodate clients, and provide an environment that contributes to greater success. An added bonus here is that a home office has certain tax benefits.

So, if you’re in the market for one, or have been setting up shop at your local Starbucks or the nearest coffeehouse, it’s time for a change.

WITH THIS IN MIND, HERE ARE 6 TIMELY TIPS TO CREATING A HOME OFFICE YOU’LL LOVE:


1. CHOOSE THE "WRITE" SET-UP

A home office can be as small as a corner attic space or as big as a master bedroom.
It all depends upon your spacial considerations, your business needs, and your personal preferences. For optimal results, choose a room that offers a good degree of privacy, minimal noise, and space for basic equipment like a copier, fax machine, desk and chair.

2. CAPTURE THE RIGHT COLORS

Did you know that certain colors have a psychological affect on our thoughts and moods?
For example, green is associated with growth, wealth and vitality. Red is associated with energy. White depicts faith and purity. Get the picture here? Choose a color that resonates with your personality and reflects an image you’d like to portray.

 
JEN'S HOME OFFICE
3. GET PERSONAL

Mix business with pleasure. Combine quality furniture with bold, unique artwork, fun lamps, personal trinkets, awards of achievement, pretty framed photos of your family or favorite places you’ve traveled.

If you’re an avid reader, books provide a nice “scholarly” touch as well.

4. CONSIDER ADDING PLANTS

MY PLANTS

Bringing a bit of nature indoors adds warmth to your décor. Plants also improve the air quality in your home. Choose a low maintenance variety like Spider Plants and Lucky Bamboo.

5. ENHANCE IT WITH SOME FENG SHUI PRINCIPLES

Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese practice of aligning your home’s design with the correct placement of furniture to achieve proper balance and energy flow.

Read more about the various techniques and practices here:

http://www.yourchineseastrology.com/feng-shui/career/


JEN'S HOME OFFICE 2


JEN'S HOME OFFICE 3
JEN'S HOME OFFICE 4

6. EXPERIMENT

Don’t be intimidated by the process. Take the time to try on “different looks” before you arrive at a final decision. Take pictures at various stages, take note, reflect and assess. What colors work well together? Does your new office look crowded? Can you find things easily? Does the look inspire you? Is it suitable for clients? Comfortable?
Is it a positive reflection of your personal identity?
These are things to consider.



JEN'S HOME OFFICE 5


Follow these timely tips to create a home office that “works” and that’s attractive, functional and uniquely you.
Because “there’s no place like home.”

Unless otherwise noted...
Image credits: Pixabay.com

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Why Should Writers Blog Today? Points to Consider





Guest Post by Cynthia Clampitt
 
Much of the discussion about blogs these days is about monetizing them. Pity—because monetizing a blog is not only difficult, it’s also (somewhat) unlikely. When people run into this reality, many give up on the idea of blogging. But money is not the only, or even the main reason to blog. Even without creating an income stream, blogs have virtue and value.

First and foremost for many is that key element of writing success: building a platform. If you have a good blog, people will become interested in your writing and may start “following” you. Of course, this means you need to put some serious thought into your blog. It should reflect the quality of the writing you want to promote. Plus you need to decide what your blog will include: all your random thoughts, information on the writers life, your travels and research, your personal insights or struggles. The goal and focus of the blog should be defined on the About page, to let people know what they can expect from you.

Word to the wise: don’t make it so narrow you can’t keep the blog going long term, but make it clear and diverse enough that it helps your readers.

ADDITIONAL POINTERS…
Make the most of the promotional opportunities of the blog. The About page, of course, can include a link to a website, an Amazon listing, your LinkedIn profile, or other places that make it clear you are a working writer. (I see so many “About” pages where the sample text “this is an example of an About page” is left in place. You definitely shouldn’t do that.)

Be aware that you can add other pages to inform and engage readers. For example, a page for awards and/or reviews of your writing.

DISCIPLINE IS CRUCIAL…
Possibly more important than promotion, though rarely mentioned, is discipline. If you are going to succeed as a writer, you have to write pretty consistently. Sure, you’ll have days off, but if there are months and years off, you’re not going to succeed. A blog gives you a place to “stay in shape” as a writer. You have a reason to write even when you don’t have an assignment. (Another bonus I’ve found is that, when you have to cut a passage from something you’ve written, and you simply love that passage, you can put it on the blog. You can keep your word count to what has been assigned but still have an outlet for those extra details or delightful vignettes.)

THE BENEFIT OF HAVING YOUR OWN BLOG…
A blog gives people a place to connect with you. There are, of course, the “like” buttons and comment sections. While a lot of comments tend toward “nice post,” sometimes important information is included. (I’ve heard from ad agencies and schools in Australia that wanted to use my photos, colleges asking if students reading my book could contact me, and even the National Library of Australia, requesting permission to archive my Waltzing Australia blog.)
 
PLANNING FOR SUCCESS…
“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”

A bit of planning is involved. Whenever possible, have a few posts planned out in advance, so if you get busy, you still have something to put out there. But don’t panic about it. You don’t have to post every day, unless you have a topic that requires daily updates. Once you get followers, they will be notified when you post something. And most host sites work hard at promoting every post of their users. (I use WordPress, and they are very good about making blog posts visible.)

Also, link whatever you can to your blog. Goodreads, Amazon, and LinkedIn all offer the option of having your posts appear on your profiles, but even sites that won’t show your posts still generally allow you to post the URL for your blog.

TO WRAP THINGS UP HERE…
Visit blogs that are related to what you write, and leave comments. That leads people back to your blog. Because building platform only happens if you work at it one layer at a time.



Bio:  Cynthia Clampitt is a writer, speaker, traveler, and food historian. She is the author of Midwest Maize: How Corn Shaped the U.S. Heartland and Waltzing Australia. Midwest Maize and Waltzing Australia also happen to be the names of two of her three blogs (the third is The World’s Fare, which covers culture, food, history, and travel to places other than Australia and the Midwest). She has been blogging for more than ten years.




Why do you blog? What aspect do you consider to be a benefit to your writing career?


Image credit: Pixabay.com