QuinnCreative Newsletter Returns

Some months ago, I stopped publishing my newsletter, Imagination Works from QuinnCreative. There were lots of good reasons: The newsletter was ten years old, I’d originally kept the addresses in an address book, because I sent a paper newsletter. Once I created an online one, I knew that some people weren’t getting the letter anymore, those who

Raw-art-journal entry, Inktense pencils on paper, © Q.McDonald, 2009

Raw-art-journal entry, Inktense pencils on paper, © Q.McDonald, 2009

got it at work often found it in the spam filter. OK, I’ll admit it was a lot of work putting it on my website, and fads change–people didn’t want a newsletter through email, they wanted it on a website, now people don’t want to be forced to click on links in emails to take them to websites they think might contain mal-ware.

Once I discontinued the newsletter, the emails started.  “What happened to the newsletter?” “Where was that article you wrote on failure?” “I went to your website and there’s no newsletter!”

My mistake. There are many reasons to start up the newsletter again.  A lot of people don’t want to read a blog every day, don’t want to troll my website to see when a new class is coming up,  and want to know about living their creativity out loud as artists, writers, and just plain people. So I’m bringing back the newsletter with a really simple title: QuinnMcDonaldNewsletter.  It’s not fancy, it’s simple writing through a Yahoo Group.

You can go here and sign up:


Anyone can sign up. It will come the first and third Sunday of the month, via this Yahoo Group.

Tip of new logo for Quinn's Raw-art-joujrnals

Tip of new logo for Quinn's Raw-art-joujrnals

Sundays so people who are in the “Sunday Slump”–that uneasy time of week at the end of the weekend and before the beginning of the work week–will have something interesting to read.

I don’t sign anyone up, I don’t spam anyone. I’ve sent out invitations to a few people who have told me to bring the newsletter back. If you want to receive the newsletter, please go sign up. It will contain links, stories, ideas on living a creative life. Because I still believe that we don’t find meaning in life, we make meaning. The newsletter will be delivered through a Yahoo Group, but it is a newsletter. No photos, no websites, no fancy design. You won’t be required to do anything. I chose Yahoo Groups because it makes it easy to subscribe (and unsubscribe) and for me to mail out.

Yahoo Groups also creates automatic archives, which I could never do, and it was a constant source of questions. Now people can search the archives for previous posts.

Thanks to all for letting me know what you want. I sure hope this is it!

The Pencil © Quinn McDonald, 2005-9

The Pencil © Quinn McDonald, 2005-9

Freelancing in 2009: Resources for Writers

The sky is not falling. This may come as a shock: stop chewing yourself up about the economy. If you are a freelancer, stop even sooner.

Daily writing

Daily writing

Why am I being so seemingly callous? First, because you are not in charge of the economy, and simply worrying about it helps no one, least of all your bank balance

Freelancing is still lucrative. Second, because freelancers may have a break in this economy. There have been business layoffs, and the few are left to do the work of many. That makes freelancers more attractive than full-time employees.

  • Freelancers save companies money by not getting benefits
  • Freelancers don’t take up space
  • If we are smart, we don’t get involved in company drama
  • If we are smarter, we hand in work on time and within budget
  • That makes hiring freelancers attractive and smart. In turn, that makes being a freelancer lucrative. For those who are willing to work at it. (How do you know if you are freelancer material?)

    Having gotten that out of the way, if you want to be a freelance writer, you have to construct a list of resources.

    Below are some decent places to look for freelance work. Before you start opening links, please understand that these are not magic writer-ATMs, and that you won’t make money instantly by clicking on the link.

    Every resource has the potential to be a scam, not what you wanted, too much work. Being a freelancer means that you have to do your own heavy lifting to find work. Here, then are the resources.

    Suite 101 seems to be looking for writers all the time. Make sure you know how (or if) they pay. Many of these sites pay only after you have a certain number of readers.

    Craigslist.org is a old favorite, and offers range from outrageous scams to, well, real work. The trick is not to limit yourself to the city in which you live. Many writing jobs don’t demand your presence in an office. Check out larger cities in your state, or check various-size cities for your niche.

    Ed2010.com lists all sorts of editing/writing-related jobs, so you will have to dig, possibly hard. They also have how-to articles, which are a resource all by themselves. Yes, there are full-time, location-specific, must-be-here jobs, but that may also be an opportunity to explore. I have found good freelancing gigs by offering to work part- or short-time, giving the hiring manager more time to find the right person.

    Freelance Writing Gigs has a huge following. It has tips, hints, how-tos and lists that are, thanks goodness, updated regularly, which probably accounts for it’s huge following among freelancers.

    Freelance Success is a subscription-based site. It costs $99 a year, so it’s for serious freelancers. Before you shrug it off because you think everything on the Web should be free, you should know that the jobs are the better ones, at least $.50/word.

    Media Bistro offers classes, job listings, and articles. While this site is largely for media jobs (producers, music mixers) looking for full-time jobs, it’s useful for it’s breadth of work available, classes and the ability to set parameters for exactly the job you are looking for among the listing.

    Wooden Horse provides freelancers with a free newsletter and a fee-based database of new/existing magazines that provide writing, photography, poetry opportunities. You can access the database —one year for $119 (while it’s on special) or six months for $69.00 (also on current special).

    Writers Market is a listing of publications, their requirements and contact information. You may be familiar with the book, this is the online version. You can access their Website for free, but the database is fee-based.

    –Quinn McDonald is a freelance writer, life- and creativity coach. She runs workshops in business communications and personal journal writing.

    Marketing When You Don’t Have Time

    Whether you are an artist, freelance writer, or any small business owner, you know you have to market yourself and your work.  And as soon as this crush slows down a bit, you plan on doing just that.

    Now it’s too late. The time to do marketing is when you don’t need to because you are busy, when you don’t have free time. Once you have free time, it takes weeks for the marketing to work and money isn’t coming in. I hate hearing it; I hate saying it, and it’s true. So I devised a way to get around the roadblocks and market.

    One of the ways I market my work is to publish articles in magazines and ezines. Published work not only displays your talent and expertise, but the clips also help you market your work to others. There is a certain amount of drudgery involved in pitching your work,  getting rejections, finding another magazine, re-writing and then re-pitching your work.

    I write an article–just getting down the ideas. What Ann Lamott calls a “zero draft”–not even a first draft. If the article is longer than a page, I staple it together and stick it in the yellow folder in my bag. When I’m in line at the post office, the grocery store, or waiting at the dentist, I pull out the folder and read through the articles. Sometimes I circle a paragraph and mark it for deletion, other times I’ll write notes in the margin. I don’t line edit it. I’m not ready for that, I’m still working on the idea stage.

    When I’m waiting for a client to call back, when I can’t read another email, when I have a few minutes of time, but no more, I pull out the zero draft and review the notes. Sometimes the zero draft is really two different articles. Sometimes the zero draft is not worth keeping. If the article has promise, I’ll write the first draft, and toss it back into the folder. Over time, creativity wins out. The articles get written, re-written, edited and polished.

    When I send them out, I am no longer attached to them. Rejections don’t crush my spirit. And because there are more of them in the folder, if one is rejected, another one can go out. Or the rejected one can be rewritten.

    The marketing benefit comes from producing publishable articles without setting aside weeks of time to do it. The emotional benefit is that staying objective about the articles helps you pitch and rewrite more efficiently. There is the added benefit of not buying candy while you are in the supermarket line and not being as anxious when the dentist calls your name.

    It’s a slow process that makes the most of how creativity works. Your brain keeps working on the writing, even if you are not focusing on it directly, and the process moves forward in small, but definite steps. When you get an article accepted, it seems like a bonus. Over time, I’ve noticed that I get more and more accepted, and the checks are an incentive to keep working.

    –Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach. See her work at QuinnCreative.com

    Writer’s Dilemma

    You are a contract writer. You freelance for a living. One of your clients asks you for help with a project, and you agree to a meeting. When you get to the meeting, your client tells you about her client–a company that needs some help organizing their website, creating a site that’s easier to navigate. You ask a few questions, and the job seems like a good fit. The pay is in line with what you ask. You agree.

    And then you find out your client’s client is a company whose goals you disagree with. Not just a little. A lot. There’s a wide breach between your beliefs and the company’s. What do you do? Refuse to take on the job? Tell your original client that you disagree with the viewpoints and turn down the job? Take the job, send a big invoice, and run?pencil.jpg

    Here are a few things to think about while you are struggling with your authenticity and the money.

    –If the client’s values are repugnant to you, if you find the company unethical or immoral, don’t take the job. No amount of money will make you feel right about it, and you can’t do a good job. While you are speaking with your client, ask who the organization is. If you recognize the name, you can turn it down right away. If your client can’t reveal the name of the organization, you might want to reserve the right to withdraw once you research them. Give a deadline–24 hours.

    –If the client represents a different viewpoint from yours, even one you strongly disagree with, consider taking the job. Every writer should be exposed to views they don’t agree with. It’s good for you–it helps you question your assumptions, see facts from a different perspective, and open your mind.

    –If you take the job, you are required to do your best work. Every web reader deserves to read clear, concise, well-written copy. Your calling as a writer is your priority. You deliver well-written, well-organized, logical and precise writing. This is what every organization should be required to put on the web.

    There are more than 100 million websites in cyberspace. Almost all of them are badly reasoned, horribly written and cramped with confusing and irritating navigation. A few stand out as beacons of clarity. You can contribute to the small number of sites filled with intelligent writing and good explanations. You can help others understand what the client wants to say, what they stand for. Every company deserves to have their cause clearly spelled out to let the readers understand and choose.

    It’s your choice to contribute or step away. Think before you do.

    Examples of badly organized and hard to navigate websites.

    Studies, articles, and common sense from Jakob Nielsen, information design guru.

    Examples and help on writing, everything from columns to budgets.

    –Quinn McDonald is a writer, certified creativity coach and artist. See her work at QuinnCreative.com