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5 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Jump Start Your Freelance Writing Career

5 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Jump Start Your Freelance Writing Career

There’s nothing easy about launching a freelance writing career. And as the old adage goes, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” In other words, there are a lot of good writers in the world. Making a successful career out of writing isn’t always directly tied to skill. In most cases, it’s about forming the right connections and making yourself as visible and accessible as possible. With this in mind, let’s take a look at five tips for jump starting your freelance writing career.

1. Launch a Professional Site

The very first thing you have to do is build a professional website. Your website should be something you can be proud of and stand behind – not something that looks like it was developed on your Windows 95 desktop computer. Writers are notorious for launching poor sites, so you can immediately set yourself apart from the competition by producing something that’s original and unique.

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You should view your website as your piece of virtual real estate. It’s the only aspect of your internet presence that you can completely control. It would be foolish not to maximize this space. Don’t go overboard, though.

To get started, all you need is a home page, a brief biography, a portfolio section, and a contact page. This is enough to show potential clients who you are and why you’re worthy of their consideration.

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2. Start a Blog

The second thing you’ll want to do is launch a blog on your website. While your portfolio will let potential clients see your past work, a blog allows you to continually populate your website with fresh, relevant content that speaks to the needs of your target market. You should aim to write between two and three blog posts per week, but feel free to publish more if possible. These posts will also help with SEO.

3. Develop Guest Blogging Relationships

After building up your branded URLs, it’s time to venture offsite and develop relationships with publishing platforms and bloggers. This is how you expand your reach and get your name in front of as many people as possible. As an added benefit, most publishers will give you a byline with a link back to your website. Once again, this gives your SEO a boost and hopefully drives traffic to your contact page.

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4. Build a LinkedIn Profile

If you don’t have a complete LinkedIn profile, there’s no telling how many leads you’re missing out on. Some businesses won’t even contact a writer if they don’t have a profile with a professional photo and an articulate description of their work.

Thankfully, building a LinkedIn profile is as simple as it gets. LinkedIn will provide step-by-step directions for completing your profile. Don’t skip anything. The more information you provide, the more attractive you’ll look from a hiring perspective.

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5. Accept All Paying Jobs

This fifth tip may be controversial to some, but it’s true nonetheless. In the beginning stages of your career, you should never turn down a reasonably paying job. This is because connections are more important at this point in your career than earnings.

In five years, are you going to remember the extra $200 you made, or the blog article that eventually led to a much bigger opportunities? You’ll have plenty of time to turn down jobs in the future, but you should accept anything and everything in the meantime.

Building a freelance writing career takes time and patience. Until you understand this, success will be elusive. While becoming an accomplished writer largely depends on who you know, following the five tips mentioned in this article will place you in front of plenty of potential clients. All it takes is one business relationship to jump start your career.

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Schuyler Richardson

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

Traditionally, when you have a lot of ideas in your mind, you would create a text document, or take a sheet of paper and start writing in a linear fashion like this:

  • Intro to Visual Facilitation
    • Problem, Consequences, Solution, Benefits, Examples, Call to action
  • Structure
    • Why, What, How to, What If
  • Do It Myself?
    • Audio, Images, time-consuming, less expensive
  • Specialize Offering?
    • Built to Sell (Standard Product Offering), Options (Solving problems, Online calls, Dev projects)

This type of document quickly becomes overwhelming. It obviously lacks in clarity. It also makes it hard for you to get a full picture at a glance and see what is missing.

You always have too much information to look at, and most often you only get a partial view of the information. It’s hard to zoom out, figuratively, and to see the whole hierarchy and how everything is connected.

To see a fuller picture, create a mind map.

What Is a Mind Map?

A mind map is a simple hierarchical radial diagram. In other words, you organize your thoughts around a central idea. This technique is especially useful whenever you need to “dump your brain”, or develop an idea, a project (for example, a new product or service), a problem, a solution, etc. By capturing what you have in your head, you make space for other thoughts.

In this article, we are focusing on the basics: mind mapping using pen and paper.

The objective of a mind map is to clearly visualize all your thoughts and ideas before your eyes. Don’t complicate a mind map with too many colors or distractions. Use different colors only when they serve a purpose. Always keep a mind map simple and easy to follow.

    Image Credit: English Central

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    By following the three next steps below, you will be able to create such mind maps easily and quickly.

    3 Simple Steps to Create a Mind Map

    The three steps are:

    1. Set a central topic
    2. Add branches of related ideas
    3. Add sub-branches for more relevant ideas

    Let’s take a look at an example Verbal To Visual illustrates on the benefits of mind mapping.[1]

    Step 1 : Set a Central Topic

    Take a blank sheet of paper, write down the topic you’ve been thinking about: a problem, a decision to make, an idea to develop, or a project to clarify.

    Word it in a clear and concise manner.

      What is the first idea that comes to mind when you think of the subject for your mind map? Draw a line (straight or curved) from the central topic, and write down that idea.

        Step 3 : Add Sub-Branches for More Relevant Ideas

        Then, what does that idea make you think of? What is related to it? List it out next to it in the same way, using your pen.

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          You can always add more to it later, but that’s good for now.

          In our example, we could detail the sub-branch “Benefits” by listing those benefits in sub-branches of the branch “Benefits”. Unfortunately, we already reached the side of the sheet, so we’re out of space to do so. You could always draw a line to a white space on the page and list them there, but it’s awkward.

          Since we created this mind map on a regular letter-format sheet of paper, the quantity of information that fits in there is very limited. That is one of the main reasons why I recommend that you use software rather than pen and paper for most of the mind mapping that you do.

          Repeat Step 2 and Step 3

          Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you need to flush out all of your ideas around the topic that you chose.

            I added first-level (main) branches around the central topic mostly in a clockwise fashion, from top-right to top-left. That is how, by convention, a mind map is read.

            In the next section, we are covering the three strategies to building your maps.  

            Mind Map Examples to Illustrate Mind Mapping

            You can go about creating a mind map in various ways:

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            • Branch by Branch: Adding whole branches (with all of their sub-branches), one by one.
            • Level by Level: Adding elements to the map, one level at a time. That means that firstly, you add elements around the central topic (main branches). Then, you add sub-branches to those main branches. And so on.
            • Free-Flow: Adding elements to your mind map as they come to you, in no particular order.

            Branch by Branch

            Start with the central topic, add a first branch. Focus on that branch and detail it as much as you can by adding all the sub-branches that you can think of.

              Then develop ideas branch by branch.

                A branch after another, and the mind map is complete.

                  Level by Level

                  In this “Level by Level” strategy, you first add all the elements that you can think of around the central topic, one level deep only. So here you add elements on level 1:

                    Then, go over each branch and add the immediate sub-branches (one level only). This is level 2:

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                      Idem for the next level. This is level 3. You can have as many levels as you want in a mind map. In our example, we only have 3 levels. Now the map is complete:

                        Free-Flow

                        Basically, a free flow strategy of mind mapping is to add main branches and sub-topics freely. No rules to restrict how ideas should flow in the mind map. The only thing to pay attention to is that you need to be careful about the level of the ideas you’re adding to the mind map — is it a main topic, or is it a subtopic?

                          I recommend using a combination of the “Branch by Branch” and the “Free-Flow” strategies.

                          What I normally do is I add one branch at a time, and later on review the mind map and add elements in various places to finish it. I also sometimes build level 1 (the main branches) first, then use a “Branch by Branch” approach, and later finish the map in a “Free-Flow” manner.

                          Try each strategy and combinations of strategies, and see what works best for you.

                          The Bottom Line

                          When you’re feeling stuck or when you’re just starting to think about a particular idea or project, take out a paper and start to brain dump your ideas and create a mind map. Mind mapping has the magic to clear your head and have your thoughts organized.

                          If you can’t always have access to a paper and pen, don’t worry! Creating a mind map with software is very effective and you get none of the drawbacks of pen and paper. You can also apply the above steps and strategies just the same when using a mind mapping tool on the phone and computer.

                          More Tools to Help You Organize Thoughts

                          Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

                          Reference

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