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How to Be a Perfect Guest Writer

Illustration by Ramiro Roman

Imagine for a moment that a friend has invited you over for lunch.

When you get to your friend’s house, you not only eat their food, but you take a shower in their bathroom and sleep in their bed. Then, you put their indoor-only cat outside, take their paintings off the walls, sell their car to a man down the street, and smoke a cigar over their baby’s crib.

Is that any way for a lunch guest to behave?

Of course not!

Now imagine that you’ve been asked to be a GUEST writer. Would you walk into the publication like you owned the place?

You’d be surprised how many writers do! In fact, I get hundreds of e-mails every month from writers who do just that.

I’m the Head Editor of Be a Freelance Blogger and 133T, two online publications that depend on guest writers for content. However, despite the extremely clear guidelines on both publications, an overwhelming amount of writers don’t seem to know what guest writing is.

Let’s clear that up once and for all, shall we? Continue reading “How to Be a Perfect Guest Writer”

Lauren Tharp is the owner and creator of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She’s written hundreds of posts helping freelance writers to become BETTER freelance writers.

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Know the Difference: Pitching, Querying, and LOIs

Illustration by Ramiro Roman.

This is one of the most important blog posts on this site if you’re serious about freelance writing. Every writer – whether you write fiction or non-fiction – needs to learn how to pitch to editors. Or query them. Or send them a letter of introduction.

So let’s talk a bit about what each of those terms means.

Letter of Introduction (LOI)

This is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s a letter in which you introduce yourself to the editor/publication. And…that’s about it. You say who you are and mention that you have an interest in writing for them, but you leave it at that. In my experience, LOIs are much less wanted than they used to be – most editors would rather jump straight to the query/pitch. (Though most modern queries/pitches have elements of a LOI in them).

Query

Traditionally, this is a letter written to an editor/publication regarding whether or not it’s acceptable to send in a pitch. However, recently, the term “query” and “pitch” can be pretty much interchangeable (with the meaning more focused on the latter).

Pitch

This is a letter written to an editor/publication essentially attempting to sell your idea for an article/post/book. You say who you are (the LOI element), and offer up a brief outline of what you intend to write. Most importantly, a pitch should cover why the idea at hand is perfect for the publication you’re writing to. (Editors want to know that their readers are going to be happy with what they’re reading).

The most important thing to remember is to follow the pitching guidelines for whatever publication you’re writing to. If they want a LOI, send them a LOI; if they want a pitch, send them a pitch.

But, in general, you’ll be sending in something that looks a bit like this template: Continue reading “Know the Difference: Pitching, Querying, and LOIs”

Lauren Tharp is the owner and creator of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She’s written hundreds of posts helping freelance writers to become BETTER freelance writers.

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5 Ways Freelancing is Like an Elementary School Bully

This post was originally for my column, “Freelance by Lauren,” on the now defunct DIY Writing: A Writer’s Bucket List.

Illustration by Ramiro Roman
Illustration by Ramiro Roman

You’re probably already aware that freelance writing clients can sometimes be bullies. There are endless stories online of poor, unfortunate freelancers getting bossed around by unreasonable clients. It’s practically an epidemic!

But, did you know freelancing itself can be a bully, too?

It’s true! Freelancing can bully the hell outta you. But it doesn’t bully you quite the same way abusive clients do. Freelancing bullies “old school” style – it bullies you like the toughest kid on the elementary school playground.

Let me explain… Continue reading “5 Ways Freelancing is Like an Elementary School Bully”

Lauren Tharp is the owner and creator of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She’s written hundreds of posts helping freelance writers to become BETTER freelance writers.

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Blogging VS. Freelance Blogging

There’s only a one-word difference between the two, but it makes all the difference…

Illustration by Ramiro Roman
Illustration by Ramiro Roman

In my time as the Associate Editor and Community Manager over at Be A Freelance Blogger, I’ve noticed that a great many people don’t know the difference between “blogging” and “freelance blogging.” This has caused some issues behind-the-scenes seeing as bloggers who want to pitch to us at Be A Freelance Blogger need to send in topics related to how to be a freelance blogger. If you pitch to us, your post idea has to cover both freelancing and blogging. It can lean more in one direction than the other (heavy on blogging, light on freelancing; heavy on freelancing, light on blogging), but both elements need to be present in order for your submission to be considered a serious contender.

So what is the difference anyway? Continue reading “Blogging VS. Freelance Blogging”

Lauren Tharp is the owner and creator of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She’s written hundreds of posts helping freelance writers to become BETTER freelance writers.

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30 Writing + Freelancing Questions from My Mailbag (Part 2)

Celebrating my 30th birthday!
Celebrating my 30th birthday!

This is part two of a two part series answering commonly-asked freelancing/writing/editing questions from my inbox.

Hello again! Welcome back.

Last time, I covered these 15 questions:

  1. “Is it really okay to e-mail someone as an ‘interview?'”
  2. “How do you deal with rejection?”
  3. “What do you do to feel more professional when working from home?”
  4. “What field of writing brings in the most money?”
  5. “Most important skill as a freelance writer?”
  6. “How do I figure out my rates?”
  7. “What’s been your biggest challenge owning your own freelance writing business?”
  8. “What’s a question you’re tired of answering?”
  9. “Do you know a place online anywhere that fellow bloggers/editors hang out? I’m feeling really green and I could use some camaraderie…”
  10. “How do you get rid of an annoying client?”
  11. “I think my rates are too high for the company I’m interviewing for – should I lower them or keep them the same?”
  12. “Do you ever write sponsored guest posts for clients looking to promote their product/service?”
  13. “Why don’t you use ads/affiliate marketing on your site?”
  14. “Why do editors sometimes accept a pitch but then reject the post?”
  15. “How can you tell when a client’s going to be no good?”

This time, I’ll cover 15 more! Sound good? Good. Here we go! (Feel free to scroll to the questions/answers most relevant to you).

16. “How do you get old fogies to respect blog writing?”

Continue reading “30 Writing + Freelancing Questions from My Mailbag (Part 2)”

Lauren Tharp is the owner and creator of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She’s written hundreds of posts helping freelance writers to become BETTER freelance writers.

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30 Writing + Freelancing Questions from My Mailbag (Part 1)

Illustration by Michael Cervantes.
Illustration by Michael Cervantes.

Freelancer questions, writer questions, editor questions…

Okay! So here’s what’s up:

I turned 30 this year. That’s a pretty big deal to me. And, even though said event happened in early January, I wanted to keep the “30” thing going for a while longer and answer 30 commonly-asked questions from my mailbag. 🙂

Then I realized I was a couple questions shy due to so many commonly-asked questions being repeats, so I turned to the wonderful community at Be A Freelance Blogger to fill in the gaps. (They’ve got a lot of questions over there!).

Without further ado, here are my answers to some of your freelancing/writing/editing questions! Feel free to scroll through for the questions/answers most relevant to you — it’s a long post! Continue reading “30 Writing + Freelancing Questions from My Mailbag (Part 1)”

Lauren Tharp is the owner and creator of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She’s written hundreds of posts helping freelance writers to become BETTER freelance writers.

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Why I’m a Hardass Pitching Editor

EditingHi there:

My name is Lauren Tharp. In addition to running my own writing business, I’m the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Be A Freelance Blogger. And while I’m pretty happy-go-lucky on the forum, I’m a complete hardass behind the editor’s desk.

No, really. I’m a hardass by the very definition of hardass:

Hardass

Noun, Slang: Vulgar.
1. A person who follows rules and regulations meticulously and enforces them without exceptions.

~Dictionary.com

But there’s a good reason for this.

And it’s a reason that you, as a writer, should be aware of — whether you decide to pitch an idea to me or any other editor.

Querying: Every Editor Has the Same Number One Rule

Want to know that every editor I’ve ever spoken to has had to say about pitches/query letters?

The writer needs to follow the guidelines.

I’ve said the same thing myself, numerous times:

And you know what writers say in reply…?

“It’s really not that big a deal…”

“Can’t you make an exception for me…?”

“Why are you such a stickler for the rules?!”

“I’m so great, I don’t have to read the guidelines!”

Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Most freelance writers/bloggers are professional enough to “get” why the guidelines are important. But for those who aren’t — or are simply curious — here’s exactly why I, and every other editor worth their salt, is a friggin’ “hardass” about the rules: Continue reading “Why I’m a Hardass Pitching Editor”

Lauren Tharp is the owner and creator of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She’s written hundreds of posts helping freelance writers to become BETTER freelance writers.

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How NOT to Get Your Guest Post Published

Rejection is part of being a professional writer… But, don’t get yourself rejected for any of these reasons.

EditorFacepalm

When you’re a freelance writer looking to get published on blogs or in magazines, the process will generally look like this:

  1. Send in a pitch/query that wows the editor.
  2. Send in your article/guest post.
  3. Get published.
  4. Rejoice.

Or, if things don’t go as well, it might look a bit like this:

  1. Send in a pitch/query that doesn’t wow the editor.
  2. Get rejected.
  3. Think up a better idea.
  4. Try again.

Sure, one scenario is more pleasant than the other; but they’re both perfectly normal outcomes. Getting published is part of being a professional writer, but so is rejection.

Unfortunately a lot of writers get rejected for really, really dumb reasons.

Despite What You Might Think, Editors Aren’t Against You!

If you look at the scenarios I’ve listed above, Step One is always the pitch/query. Pitches are extremely important! They’re also where most writers either excel…or get it so, so wrong. And usually they only have themselves to blame.

I’ve been working as the Associate Editor and Community Manager for Be A Freelance Blogger for just shy of a year now. In that time, I have read hundreds of pitches. And I have rejected most of them.

Honestly, it’s the worst part of a nearly-perfect job. I don’t relish rejecting writers. On the contrary, I get so extremely happy when I get a great pitch, I will often call out to my significant other in the next room to say “Someone wrote a good one!!” It’s exciting because, as a writer myself, I know how elated the writer on the other side is going to be when I write back and say “This is awesome.”

I want you to succeed. In fact, I’ve already written a few articles on the pitching process to try to help you succeed:

But, I feel like I haven’t written enough. I’m still rejecting far too many pitches. And I’d like to change that. Hence this article.

This time around, I’ve gotten permission to share a few of the e-mails I’ve gotten. That’s right: You’re getting a behind-the-scene’s look at a pitching editor’s inbox.

Here are six ways to NOT get published: Continue reading “How NOT to Get Your Guest Post Published”

Lauren Tharp is the owner and creator of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She’s written hundreds of posts helping freelance writers to become BETTER freelance writers.

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How NOT to Treat a Fellow Freelance Writer

Illustration by Ramiro Roman.
Illustration by Ramiro Roman.

To quote one of my favorite movies: “You are violating my territorial bubble!”

I’m always telling writers that one of the best things about “going freelance” is getting to be a part of the freelance writing community. In fact, in my monthly column over on A Writer’s Bucket List, I even went so far as to say that it’s a big mistake not to connect with fellow writers. And I meant it.

For the most part, you couldn’t imagine a better group to be in. However, as my business continues to grow in popularity, I’ve also noticed a growth in another area: Off-putting interactions.

Thankfully, very few of the writers who have contacted me have been “crazy” or cruel. Most of the inappropriateness has been well meaning (I think!). But there have been several times recently when I’ve wondered how someone could be so oblivious… And then I realized that maybe it’s because no one has ever officially set the “ground rules” for interacting with fellow writers.

So that’s what I’m going to do now. Continue reading “How NOT to Treat a Fellow Freelance Writer”

Lauren Tharp is the owner and creator of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She’s written hundreds of posts helping freelance writers to become BETTER freelance writers.

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10 Facts About Freelance Writing Every Teen Should Know

Most of my readers are in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. I also have a nice cluster of forty, fifty, and sixty-year-olds! And I love all of you. <3

However, there’s one segment of my audience that I feel I’ve been neglecting: Teens.

PublicSpeaking

Over the past couple years, I’ve spoken with over one thousand local teenagers about my writing career and how they can follow in my footsteps. I have several young newsletter subscribers, one of whom is a 13-year-old girl who excitedly replies to each issue. And my very first one-on-one online mentoring student was a 17-year-old.

I adore my teen audience–nearly all of my fiction is written for their age group–but  I’ve never written a post specifically for them. And, while most of my articles more-or-less apply to “everyone” in the freelance writing game, there are a few unique challenges that teen writers face.

So, this article is for you, Reader Who is Nineteen or Younger! 🙂

(But, if you’re a little older, feel free to join in). Continue reading “10 Facts About Freelance Writing Every Teen Should Know”

Lauren Tharp is the owner and creator of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She’s written hundreds of posts helping freelance writers to become BETTER freelance writers.