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Do You Have What it Takes to Write from Home?

Write From Home

Write From Home

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post written by Sally Keys, a freelance writer in the fields of business and finance.


In my decade as first a writer and then a content manager, I have seen many people who think they can be writers. They love the idea of calling themselves a writer, bigging themselves up, and working from home. Many are stay-at-home parents, English literature students, and the long-term unemployed looking for a quick buck.

However, there are several aspects which mark out a good writer from a bad one, and it’s not all down to skill. A large part is actually down to attitude and mentality. If you have what it takes to survive as a freelance writer, then you need both of these.

The Writer’s Work Life

Most newbie writers underestimate the amount of work that goes into writing and the diversity of the writing jobs they must complete. They also fail to anticipate the time pressure put on many writers to get work done.

This is not just in terms of deadlines but also the amount of work necessary to make an decent living from writing. In some cases, this can mean pumping out multiple 400-word articles in an hour, including research and editing time.

The biggest challenge of for those who write from home is discipline. This means setting aside time and distractions, being well organized, and keeping to a strict schedule to bring the work in on time and on quality.

On the plus side, if you have that discipline, you will have the flexibility to work half days, to change from day-to-day when you work and how you work. As you write, you will gain more knowledge and more experience in each type of writing, and you will naturally speed up.

This brings in another con to consider: complacency. Shortcuts, cheats, copying, and accidentally writing the same thing again and again are common errors alongside not reading job briefs properly and being bland. These are all things Inklyo will teach you how to avoid.

The Work-From-Home Lifestyle

Most online writers today work from home. This can be in a designated office, a dining room, a bedroom, or, like Roald Dahl, a shed at the bottom of the garden. As noted above, working from home has its own distractions. Bosses will be on chat and email instead of in your face, as will colleagues, but you can tune them out more easily.

However, now you have a TV in the house, as well as a phone, Internet access, a fridge, and maybe a noisy family. Working from home can also be lonely, as it’s difficult to build new professional relationships and you won’t have colleagues to go out with.

Despite these drawbacks, the drawbacks of writing from home are offset by the many benefits: you can work in comfort, wear what you want, take the kids to school, and go out for lunch without a time limit.

Image source: Gabriel Beaudry/Unsplash.com

How to Write a Blog

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5 Reasons Businesses Invest in Writing Services

Professional Writing Services

Professional Writing ServicesWhen they begin to develop content for their websites and marketing materials, businesses often have unrealistic expectations about the time and skill the process requires. They think, “It can’t be that hard to create some content, right? Just put together a few paragraphs, and voilà!”

Not quite.

As a writer, you know about the hours it takes to produce quality content. You know the difficulty of gearing an article toward a certain audience or composing a phrase that will resonate with all readers.

Part of being a freelance writer or professional writing service is demonstrating to potential clients how your skills—the skills you have spent years cultivating—will help them consistently produce content at a level of quality that they could not have reached without you.

As in any business, part of appealing to potential clients is understanding their pain points, or the problems they face on a daily basis that cause them frustration. Sometimes, potential clients are not even aware of their pain points until you show them a solution that will increase their efficiency and, ultimately, their bottom line.

The following list will help you understand some of the pain points experienced by businesses in the area of content production. Use this list as you build your brand as a freelancer and continue to develop—and market—your skills.

1. Businesses really don’t have the time to write.

It might not always look like it, but you know that writing right is hard work. It involves researching, organizing, composing, editing, and proofreading.

Many small businesses can’t afford to hire a full-time writer to produce content for their blog or website, so they must rely on other support staff to accomplish this goal. For an inexperienced writer, a single article can easily take five hours to write properly, while an epic post of up to 2,000 words could take as long as 10 hours or more to research, write, and edit. Add to this the need to fulfill all their other duties as well, and the business’s goal of producing new site content weekly—or even monthly—becomes either a major source of stress or an unattainable wish.

Professional writing services and freelance writers can address this pain point by working on a per-project or per-hour basis, allowing support staff to focus on their real priorities.

2. Writing is not a business owner’s highest and best use.

Most entrepreneurs didn’t get into business to become a writer or an accountant or a salesperson. They got into business because they had a great idea and found a way to monetize it.

Anything that takes them away from their main tasks of organizing, long-term planning, and networking can actually harm their business. If small business owners choose to focus on something they could easily outsource (i.e., content writing), they are using up time during which they could be advancing their business in the long term and are creating bottlenecks for projects that need their review or approval. Outsourcing the task of content creation to freelance writers or professional writing services enables business owners to focus on doing what they need and want to be doing—running and growing their business.

3. Writing is not employees’ highest and best use, either.

There are a number of content marketing blogs that suggest that businesses should involve the whole company in producing material for their blog or for social media. The idea isn’t completely without merit, as it is a great way to share a business’s knowledge, allow customers to see the names and faces of employees, and pump out content at a high rate. But it comes with an astonishing number of hidden costs.

First, as previously mentioned, support staff are not usually professional writers, so the company can end up investing a lot of time (and therefore money) in redrafting, editing, and proofreading the material. Second, businesses are effectively paying hourly rates for content that they could likely get for less by using a professional writing service. This is especially true if they are getting managers or IT staff to write for them, as these positions typically command higher rates of pay. Third, and most importantly, there are the opportunity costs. Time spent on producing content is time not spent doing what the employees were hired to do in the first place.

4. Creating content in-house complicates scheduling.

The Internet runs on an up-to-the-minute basis, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Business websites have to keep up. To ensure that prospects and customers return to a business’s site, new content must be posted regularly so that visitors do not lose interest (and so that Google continues to reward the site with a good page rank).

If companies attempt to do this themselves, they must commit a chunk of time every week. If a business relies on staff to contribute, they will require a rota to make sure everyone contributes equally and consistently. They will also have to schedule around vacation time, sick leave, conferences, and the big projects, which inevitably start sucking up whole weeks as deadlines approach.

Freelancers and professional writing services specialize in producing content according to strict deadlines, and reliable services guarantee that the content is completed and ready to publish by the deadline. By outsourcing these tasks, business owners and employees can ensure that their site always features fresh, high-quality content.

5. Do they even SEO?

Writing for the web is significantly different from writing for print. Search engines rank websites based on their content and relevance, and this has a major impact on how much traffic the writing attracts. If the proper keywords and phrases are present, the article can get into the top rankings. However, if this is not the case, the writing can be lost forever in a sea of web content. On the flip side, writing strictly for search engines can lead to keyword stuffing; this results in awkward, hard-for-humans-to-read prose that will earn a penalty from Google.

So, in addition to teaching writing, editing, and proofreading skills to staff, businesses that produce their content in-house will also need to teach staff about search engine optimization.

Freelance writers and professional writing services specializing in creating web content can use search engine best practices to make content more accessible to customers. In addition, creating up-to-date content on a regular basis will ensure that the articles remain relevant to the search engines, which in turn will bring businesses more traffic.

Harder than it looks

Content marketing is well worth the effort, time, and investment. However, doing it properly can put a huge strain on a business’s in-house resources. Understanding the main challenges faced by businesses in terms of content creation will help you as a freelancer or professional writer to appeal to a business’s desires and satisfy their needs.

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6 Reasons Businesses Outsource Their SEO Content Writing

SEO Content Writing

A Guide for Writers

SEO Content WritingSome companies are wary of the shift to outsourcing search engine optimization (SEO) content writing, worrying that it might not be the best decision. However, there are several benefits to outsourcing content writing. In fact, outsourcing can actually be much better for a company than attempting to do the work internally. Knowing why companies choose to outsource can help you, as a writer, understand the obstacles they face and better cater to their needs.

1. They want to focus on what they do best.

If a company doesn’t specialize in SEO content writing, then why strain to make it churn out content? Companies often choose to outsource SEO content writing services to keep their employees working on the tasks that are essential to the core functions of their businesses. This improves efficiency and quality assurance.

2. They want to save the hassle of hiring, training, and paying full-time writers.

When companies try to internalize SEO content writing, it often means having to hire new staff. This itself can be a huge hassle, particularly if the company is new to the world of SEO content writing and doesn’t know what skills to look for.

Once they finally find someone who is able to take on SEO content writing duties, they then need to train them. Even if new hires are competent writers and are familiar with SEO, they will still need to be familiarized with the company and the procedures for writing and posting content. Hiring full-time in-house writers can be a good solution for larger companies, but many small businesses cannot sustain the burden of paying another full-time team member. Plus, if the company is only aiming to produce a weekly or bi-weekly blog post, a full-time writer is likely overkill.

3. They want their SEO content writing to be done skillfully.

Even if some members of a business’s in-house staff take the time to learn the basics of SEO content writing, there’s no denying that a full-time professional SEO content writer is going to be much more skilled at incorporating SEO best practices into clear and engaging copy. As an SEO writer, your knowledge of and experience in the field is what sets you apart from the average employee, and a desire for the high-quality content you can produce is ultimately what will push businesses away from completing the work in-house and toward outsourcing to a professional.

4. They want their SEO content writing to be done efficiently.

Because freelance writers are used to working within deadlines, companies are guaranteed that their projects will be completed efficiently. This beats waiting for the one or two employees who have picked up some SEO content writing skills to complete the projects after finishing their other duties.

5. They want to choose their own output frequency.

The great thing about outsourcing is that companies don’t need to stick to a certain number of articles every month. If they find that the frequency at which they are posting is not enough to engage and excite their readers, they can easily increase the number of articles they issue each month. Similarly, if they need to downscale to fit a budget, they won’t have to worry about having a full-time staff member without tasks to complete. Outsourcing to a freelance SEO content writer allows them the freedom to post at the frequency they determine appropriate.

Conclusion

As a writer, it’s important to be looking for opportunities to use your skills. Many businesses are seeking high-quality SEO web content to keep their blogs and websites fresh, compelling, and valuable to potential customers, and understanding the obstacles businesses face can help you partner with them to produce the content they need.

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It’s in the Pages: Reading for Pleasure Makes for Better Writers

Reading for Pleasure Makes for Better Writers

Reading for Pleasure Makes for Better WritersDoes reading for pleasure make you a better writer? It’s a theory that has been tossed around and debated numerous times. Many people maintain that writing is a craft, and that all crafts should begin with an education from the masters—for instance, if you want to be a modern artist, you should go to Florence to study the works of Michelangelo and Da Vinci. Others, as represented below by the esteemed Lil Wayne, will staunchly argue that saturating yourself in the works of others will only keep you from developing your own style.

Honestly, I don’t listen to nobody else’s music but my own. It’s kind of like sports to me. You don’t see Kobe Bryant at a LeBron James game—he just works on his own game. And that’s what I do. I only listen to me, so I can criticize and analyze and all those things. —Lil Wayne

No offense to the creative habits of Lil Wayne (and I swear my disagreement isn’t at all influenced by his use of double negatives), but there is some interesting research that shows reading for pleasure can actually make you a better writer, both mechanically and meaningfully.

Early reading and performance

Research has linked early reading habits with better performance in school-aged children. Cullinan’s “Independent Reading and School Achievement” examines several studies indicating that students who engage in free reading outside of school are better developed in vocabulary, reading comprehension, and verbal fluency, which then translates into practical writing ability. Children who establish reading habits early (at the age of five) exhibit continued academic success in later years. Cullinan states that even “six years of schooling could not make up for the loss children suffered by not engaging in literacy events in their early lives.”

In a study of 230 children, the most academically successful were frequently read to by their parents, were provided with materials and spaces for pleasure reading at home, and visited libraries purely for enjoyment. Assessments of children in grades one to five revealed that “among all the ways children spent their time, reading books was the best predictor of measures of reading achievement in reading comprehension, vocabulary, and reading speed, including gains in reading comprehension between the second and fifth grade.”

A book title recognition test of middle school and young adult students revealed that those who had been most exposed to literature were also the most advanced in vocabulary, spelling, verbal fluency, and general word knowledge. In Writing: Research, Theory and Applications, Stephen Krashen notes that the highest-achieving college students report high levels of pleasure reading, especially in high school, compared to low-achieving students who engage in little to no reading for pleasure.

Krashen concludes that “voluntary pleasure reading contributes to the development of writing ability; it is a more important factor than writing frequency in improving writing.” Some famous examples include Malcolm X and Richard Wright, whose literacy success came not from formal education but from recreational reading.

Reading, language, and writing

Krashen compares the formation of writing ability to the learning of a new language. He states that reading for pleasure is the greatest boon to natural language development; the same goes for becoming an accomplished writer. Languages are best learned by indirect absorption (e.g., reading) rather than overt instruction (e.g., grammar memorization). Krashen calls the art of writing a “special dialect” that, like language, is acquired, not learned. In a paper presented at the RELC conference in Singapore in 2004, Krashen stated that “those who do more recreational reading show better development in reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary. These results hold for first and second language acquisition, and for children and adults.”

The effectiveness of recreational reading on ESL learners can be seen in this case study of a Korean woman and also in this report of Sophia, a Taiwanese girl who immigrated to the United States at the age of six with no real English ability. The Korean woman claims that her prowess in the English language comes not from grammar books but from careful study of the feel and flow of language as she encounters it in literature. Sophia’s case presents some interesting data: her English test scores drop at the end of each school year but skyrocket after a summer vacation full of voluntary free reading.

Like learning a language, writing successfully requires not just mechanical skill but a feel for words. Grammar lessons and exercises in story construction can certainly help fill the holes in a writer’s ability, but they pale in comparison to the foundation of skill that literature gives to aspiring writers. In the words of William Faulkner,

Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.

Exposure to fiction means greater empathy

Good writing employs sophisticated style, a feel for language, and mechanical expertise. But let’s not forget that writing is also an art and a way to connect people across continents and generations. People read to understand life; those who write do so to help others understand it. How can we, as writers, access this world of understanding and empathy to become better writers? The answer is obvious: through reading. Renowned author Neil Gaiman speaks on the effects of exposure to literature:

. . . [The] second thing fiction does is to build empathy . . . Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You’re being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you’re going to be slightly changed.

A good book is good because it is relatable; it taps into the human condition to make its readers feel something. You develop this kind of skill by broadening your own emotional scope through reading.

Like any craft…

Writing requires practice. Reading supplies a foundation of style and empathetic understanding in ways that formal education cannot. Technical instruction (such as the courses offered at GrammarCamp) simply fills in the gaps to help you become an even better writer.

Can I be blunt on the subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.—Stephen King

 

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You’re Hired: Freelance Writing and Editing Jobs

EditingCamp.com explains all you need to know about freelance writing and editing jobs.

All you need to know about freelance writing and editing jobs

EditingCamp.com explains all you need to know about freelance writing and editing jobs.One of the most appealing qualities of the writing profession is the ability to work from anywhere in the world. With advances in technology, it is now possible to read material written or edited by individuals from across the globe. Another tempting aspect of a career in writing or editing is the opportunity to work on a freelance basis, setting your own hours and employing yourself. In fact, according to the 2012 Freelance Industry Report, nearly half of all freelancers across North America operate in the field of content writing.

However, freelance work is not all fun and games. It requires dedication, discipline, and motivation to tackle an assignment through your own initiative. As well, freelancers often have other full-time careers, depending on the amount of freelance work available.

But what do freelance writing and editing jobs entail, and what are the differences between the two?

Becoming a freelance writer or editor

To begin a career in the writing or editing industry, freelance or not, an education is likely required. Often, freelancers in the field will possess a university degree specializing in English or linguistics. Other freelancers have similar backgrounds, with degrees in such disciplines as journalism, communications, or marketing. You must have a strong grasp of the mechanics of English and the skills required to communicate effectively.

Important traits for the field include clarity in writing, good judgment, initiative, and leadership. It takes more than articulation to thrive in this line of work. Writing and editing require unique personality characteristics, particularly creativity, which is not always needed in other industries but is critical to success in this field.

What to expect

Freelance writing and editing jobs are not for everyone. While creating your own schedule may sound easy, freelancing requires you to take on additional roles. For example, freelance writers and editors also become accountants during tax season. Without a personal payroll department, this responsibility falls on the employer: you. You will need to maintain detailed records and develop a good knowledge of tax laws and the deductions for which you qualify.

Despite the added accountability, freelance writing and editing jobs can be very rewarding. Another benefit of freelance work is the chance to write your own contracts and set your own rates. Keeping an up-to-date portfolio of your best work will show employers that you are knowledgeable, professional, in demand, and capable of setting your own working parameters.

There are some drawbacks to freelance writing and editing jobs, including financial insecurity. Steady work is not always guaranteed. There may be times when you are behind on bills and times when you can’t plan that dream vacation. In the freelance industry, situations can change quickly and without warning.

Most important, when taking on freelance writing or editing jobs, stay passionate and involved in your field. Otherwise, your drive may dwindle, and you may struggle in your work. Keep yourself informed about changes in the industry, and never end your educational journey in your discipline. Constant learning will keep you engaged and prevent burnout on the job.

What’s the difference?

Freelance writing and editing jobs might sound similar, but the nature of the work differs greatly. Freelance writers, for example, are not necessarily limited to the opportunities that appear on job boards and freelance sites. Writers can create pieces out of thin air and sell their work to publishers, producers, or businesses, even when they might not be looking for such material. They can closely watch the market and anticipate what material will sell, which means the freelance writer takes on a much more sales-focused role than an editor does. For the freelance editor, market demand, when low, can be limiting; if no one requires editing services, your workload may suffer.

While the two positions are different, freelance writing and editing jobs do share some similarities. Often, while working on a piece, a freelance editor may take on the role of a writer in revising unclear wording or replacing awkward phrasing. Writers, however, can certainly edit their work, but as the old adage goes, two pairs of eyes are better than one.

Freelance writing and editing jobs are both in demand at companies that employ medical and scientific professionals, as they tend to avoid the softer arts of writing and communication. In addition, with the expansion of English as a second language programs, editors can find ample work handling papers, essays, and documents from ESL learners.

Finding freelance writing and editing jobs

Taking the plunge into the freelancing world can be daunting. It is always useful to look to others who have made the same career choice. How did they overcome the obstacles? What were the biggest challenges? How can you avoid making common mistakes? The Internet, and even blogs, can be particularly useful as resources when you’re looking to follow the lead of others. In the end, though, becoming a freelance writer or editor is as simple as changing your job title on your LinkedIn profile. Getting the word out about your expertise? Now, that’s another article.

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What is Ghostwriting?

What is ghostwriting?

What is ghostwriting?Have you ever wondered how celebrities—surrounded by paparazzi, traveling around the world on tours, and balancing family and relationships—can possibly send out hilarious tweets every five minutes?

In most cases, these celebrities can barely spare a minute for social media or website content. Instead, they hire “ghostwriters”—people who produce content under the celebrity’s name. Many celebrities, businesses, and authors use ghostwriters to regularly produce mass amounts of content in short periods of time. By constantly posting online articles, tweets, blog posts, and other texts on the Internet, major brands keep audiences continuously engaged with the content to bring in revenue for advertisers.

Ghostwriting is not exclusively for celebrities or social media, but it’s easy to conceptualize the author-ghostwriter relationship using the analogy of a celebrity-writer relationship. The author’s name is a brand, similar to a celebrity, company, or product. This brand needs a public image. This image, in turn, needs to be positive and interactive, and one that engages with the audience and keeps it returning to increase traffic for revenue. Because the Internet is a space that offers nonstop communication and access, the brand needs to constantly maintain this image online. This is nearly impossible for one person to accomplish alone. To help the brand keep that attention, popular names will hire workers to maintain this image under the brand’s name. In publishing, the brand name is considered the “author,” while the person who produces the content under the author’s name is the “ghostwriter.” Not all authors use ghostwriters, but it is a common practice in today’s fast-paced publishing world.

Anyone can hire a ghostwriter for whatever part of the writing process needs work. For example, authors with an excellent idea might not have the time to write a book on their own, or they might lack the skills needed to put their ideas into words. This is where ghostwriting comes in: authors will hire a ghostwriter to use their preexisting idea to write the content. Sometimes, ghostwriting can be a way for authors to overcome writer’s block. Ghostwriters can also bring fresh ideas to the piece beyond the author’s initial vision. Whatever the reason, there is a large market for freelance writing work.

The process is collaborative and involves regular communication between the author and the ghostwriter. The author informs the ghostwriter of the requirements for the piece. It is up to authors to decide how much information they decide to give. They can provide the writer with as much as multiple pages of detailed research notes, or as little as a generalized topic that the writer must then research and write about. The two parties then need to build this relationship and maintain regular communication to remain on the same page.

For the author, hiring a ghostwriter provides an opportunity to focus on other aspects of the publishing process. Authors have many other responsibilities, such as promotions, sales, and contract negotiation. Writing in itself takes up a large chunk of the time needed to publish and create a brand. This time could easily be delegated to a professional ghostwriter, allowing the author to produce high-quality work quickly and efficiently while keeping the author’s original voice.

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The Different Types of Ghostwriting

The Different Types of Ghostwriting

The Different Types of GhostwritingEveryone needs to communicate; it’s how we live as humans and how our society has progressed over time. The ability to write and interpret information is a necessary skill, especially when it comes to communicating through various media. In a world of text messages, comments, and blogs, it is crucial to know how to properly convey ideas. These modern technologies have made the written word continuously accessible and ever-changing, which, in turn, has made the ghostwriter an increasingly common and widely used resource for fast and efficient content production.

Ghostwriters are versatile employees who can take on a number of creative and professional roles. However, the strength of ghostwriting can differ depending on the writer’s style, technique, and experience. When hiring ghostwriters, it is important to take their strengths into account. When looking for ghostwriting work, it is important to know your strengths so that you can properly market your services.

Some of the different types of ghostwriting work can be found in the following categories:

Creative work

Autobiographies

Although the book’s title implies that the subject is the author, autobiographies can be difficult to write when you are the subject. Famous figures, especially those who lack communication skills, will hire a ghostwriter to compose their autobiography. Ghostwriting lets the writer take an objective look at the subject’s life, thereby allowing for a different—and perhaps more truthful and sincere—portrayal of events.

Family history

As with autobiographies, ghostwriters can study a family’s history without bias. Such ghostwriting also allows for a more objective and comprehensive examination.

Fiction

Often, a person will have an idea for a great story but will not be able to successfully transfer their thoughts to paper. Other times, the author might not have any writing experience. Hiring a ghostwriter allows the author to turn his or her story ideas into text and bring it to life.

Scripts/screenplays

Script and screenplay writing requires skills that are substantially different from typical storytelling techniques. For an author who does not properly understand stage directions, dialogue, or camera angles, ghostwriting can speed up the writing process. Ghostwriters are often hired to write for TV shows with short deadlines.

Professional work

Business reports/records

Businesses will hire ghostwriters to take meeting minutes (or notes), which are kept on file. This is especially important in negotiations, courtrooms, and governmental meetings.

How-to manuals

Though this might be the most tedious area of ghostwriting, comprehensive instruction manuals must accompany many products, including electronics, household appliances, tools, and even medications.

Blogs

While blogs are typically thought of as online diaries, many are used for advertising, sales, and other marketing objectives. It is therefore crucial for bloggers to regularly post engaging content that will attract readers. Ghost writers can help companies achieve this goal in the midst of heavy workloads and busy schedules.

Medical documents

Researchers and scientists, while experienced and well versed in their fields, may not possess the skills necessary to write medical reports and journal articles. To publicize their research, they will often hire ghostwriters to communicate their ideas and findings.

Speeches

Politicians, celebrities, and corporate executives might have the charisma to deliver compelling speeches, but they often lack the ability to transfer their thoughts into writing. Ghostwriters will be delegated to write speeches, which can take some of the pressure off the public figures they are ghostwriting for.

Social media

Along with speeches, many public figures and businesses need ghostwriters to manage their social media accounts. Since social media sites are virtual spaces of constant activity, popular brands must create regular content and be prepared to respond to users instantly. Ghostwriting can help.

Newsletters

Businesses, news outlets, and other institutions will send out newsletters at regular intervals to an email list of recipients. Ghostwriters will cover various events, updates, and messages for the recipients of these newsletters.

Technology is always changing and improving. For writers, the options available for ghostwriting are limitless, and the market is growing rapidly. For authors and companies, ghostwriters are a mainstream resource that can significantly affect the success of their work. As long as instant communication continues to remain a vital part of everyday life, there will always be a market for high-quality written work.

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Creating a Great Freelance Writer Team

A group of casually dressed freelance writers.

A group of casually dressed freelance writers. Establishing a competent and reliable freelancing writing team that will bring in clients and get the job done can be a huge headache. Since freelance writers are technically not employees, ensuring quality, consistency, and timeliness are great concerns for business owners. Choosing the right people is important, and there are certain traits you will want to look for in freelance writers. Below are some of these traits, as well as common tips for working with freelancers once you have selected your team.

Ask for a portfolio or sample

A resume or curriculum vitae is not always a good representation of writing skill. When hiring a freelance writer, the first step in the process should be testing his or her abilities. Assign a mock project with a topic that matches your desired style of writing. This will give you a good idea if the freelance writer can follow instructions, research, and write well on the topic. You should have some quality criteria established ahead of time so that you can review the work objectively. In addition, freelance writers usually have a portfolio of previous work they can provide upon request. You will need to review each sample carefully to evaluate quality.

Set clear requirements

You need to communicate with all of your freelancers all the time to ensure projects are completed well and on time. You need to make sure to set out your content expectations regarding style and tone, and you should provide tips and reminders as often as possible to keep your content production on track

Look for variety

When hiring, look for a wide variety of skillsets in your freelance writers. Journalism, SEO copywriting, researching, and blogging are all essential in content development. You will need to put out several advertisements in different places to attract the right applicants.

Provide resources

Do not be surprised if a freelance writer does not understand the field about which you are asking him or her to write. A lack of expert knowledge does not have to mean low-quality content if you provide the proper resources. For research purposes, make blogs, websites, and manuals available to your freelance writers. Also, maintain a freelancer availability schedule to ensure you have the resources you need to complete the projects you have in your queue.

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5 Books Every Work-from-Home Businessperson Should Read

5 Books Every Work from Home Businessperson Needs TN

5 Books Every Work from Home Businessperson NeedsTired of the office life? Many people aspire to work from home, but doing so requires a particular set of skills. It’s not all pajamas and cuddling your cat while bringing in the money; successful work-from-home businesspeople are excellent at time management, personal organization, work–life balance, and marketing their unique skills to maintain a livable income. Below, Inklyo has rounded up five books that offer great tips for working from home.

1. My So-Called Freelance Life, by Michelle Goodman

Written for female entrepreneurs, My So-Called Freelance Life has practical tips for working from home for anyone wanting to leave the 9-to-5 grind (not just women). The author, Michelle Goodman, has been a successful freelance writer for 16 years and shares her experiences and tips for working from home, while delivering her advice in a relatable, funny, and highly readable way! Michelle offers a thorough overview of what’s involved in growing a successful freelance career, and, although she is a writer, the basic principles she describes are useful for any freelance creative work.

My So-Called Freelance Life covers how to organize your clients and jobs to optimize your output, plan your own career path, plan your workload based on how much you want to earn, market yourself using a great web presence, network and gain clients through referral, and negotiate projects and contracts. It also covers legal, budgeting, and tax issues. Overall, Michelle offers some great pointers for those wanting to do freelance work and those who are already doing freelance work.

2. 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, by Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam’s book on time management, 168 Hours, is one of those reads that people either love or hate. The author advises us to start thinking in 168-hour blocks (i.e., the number of hours in a week), monitor what it is we are actually spending our precious time on, and then cut the time-wasters. She offers sound advice for spending your time mindfully and on pursuits that further your career, relationships, and passions. In 168 Hours, quality is more important than quantity, and living a full life is as easy as out-sourcing the tasks we don’t want to do to make room for the ones we love. This is one principle that many readers have an issue with, but besides a tendency to whitewash the fact that time management may look different to people of various economic means, the core concepts of her book provide realistic tips for working from home.

3. The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr, Dr. James E. Loehr, and Tony Schwartz

A work-from-home businessperson reading.The Power of Full Engagement is a powerful book that aims to help people change their perspectives on time management and their daily routines. The core concept here is that, instead of prioritizing the amount of time you put into your day-to-day actions, you should focus on the energy cost of those actions. An over-packed schedule not only creates stress but is also detrimental to productivity—which is especially important for those who work from home and depend on their own ability to self-manage. The authors explain the cost of spreading yourself too thin and how it affects your happiness, physical state, and engagement with life. These same positive and negative energies also affect how well you do your job. The Power of Full Engagement provides key principles to ensure that you are using your energy efficiently and in the way that is best for you, an important tip for anyone working from home.

4. Creative Personal Branding by Jurgen Salenbacher

Jurgen Salenbacher’s Creative Personal Branding is a great place to start for anyone wanting to learn more about developing their personal brand. In a world so driven by fast information and seemingly endless options, having a dynamic, recognizable personal brand is a must for anyone working from home. In this book, branding is explained in detail, from defining your own marketable skills to how to market those skills creatively in today’s global market. How well you present yourself has a huge impact on your success as a freelance businessperson or entrepreneur.

5. Organizing from the Inside Out, by Julie Morgenstern

Organization is not just for Type A personalities. Julie Morgenstern’s book Organizing from the Inside Out covers many areas of life and explains how keeping your surroundings organized can lessen stress, create more positive thinking, and increase productivity—all of which are important when you work from home. The book is laid out in chapters that cover separate areas of life, from your kitchen and your kids’ rooms to your office space and home-based business. Morgenstern’s goal is to help you build an effective strategy for tackling the disorganization issues specific to your life, so that you can forget about mental and physical clutter and focus on your own success and goals. The chapters about using technology to organize projects and resources are especially relevant and packed with tips for working from home.

Image sources: Startup Stock Photos, kaboompics.com

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When Should You Listen to Music at Work?

Music at work

Everything You Need to Know about Music and Productivity

When Should You Listen to Music at WorkLots of workers rely on music to get through the workday. Whether they’re headbanging to Metallica, grooving along to Arcade Fire, or report writing to the Requiem for a Dream soundtrack, these employees insist that listening to music can increase their productivity. How much truth is there to this claim? Are employees simply using their headphones to escape boredom, or are music and productivity really linked?

Research seems to indicate that listening to music in the workplace has a positive effect on employee productivity because it alleviates boredom—more specifically, music makes people more productive because it makes them happier. Let’s look at some of the research on music and productivity to see how you can best use music to get through your workday.

Why Should You Listen to Music at Work?

Multiple research studies indicate that listening to music positively affects productivity in the workplace. A 2005 study by Teresa Lesiuk showed that computer programmers who listened to music produced better work in a shorter period of time than their coworkers who did not listen to music. The music helped the programmers pace themselves while completing tasks.

This positive effect of music on employee productivity is great news for music-loving workers everywhere. Still, some employers may have their doubts. An enjoyable activity that magically makes employees more productive? For some employers, this seems a bit too good to be true. So, what is it that creates this miraculous link between music and productivity?

A Happy Worker is a Productive Worker

No, there isn’t a “productivity” section of your brain that kicks into high gear when you’re exposed to music. There also isn’t a certain song or music genre that will have you working at five times your normal speed. The principle behind music and productivity is a little less pseudoscientific and a whole lot simpler than this. The simple truth is that music improves employee productivity because music makes people happy.

The field of research pertaining to music and neuroscience is vast and complicated, but when it comes to music and emotion, one central idea is almost universally accepted: music elicits an emotional response in the listener. Even our negative emotions can be experienced in a positive way using music, according to Apter (2001), who states that even those who use music to experience unpleasant emotions do so with the underlying intention of “enjoying” their difficult emotions (as cited in Lesiuk, 2005). Just like watching sad movies can help us process our feelings when we’re feeling down, listening to music that makes us sad can actually work to make us happy in the long run. (Ah, the magic of art!)

Not surprisingly, several studies have found that music improves our moods. People perform higher on measures of emotions after listening to music. During Lesiuk’s 2005 study, for instance, the programmers’ positive moods increased during the weeks of the study when they listened to music, but decreased during the week of the study when the music was discontinued. Additionally, because music is also known to reduce anxiety, it may actually be able to help employees relax, focus, and complete stressful tasks in shorter amounts of time.

Music boosts happiness, which boosts productivity

Can an improved mood really have that big of an impact on employee productivity? Recent research suggests that it can. Of course, music isn’t the be-all and end-all of workplace happiness; bigger, more encompassing issues like personal fulfillment, work–life balance, and a sense of accomplishment also contribute greatly to happiness in the workplace. Still, even the relatively small mood improvements that occur when people listen to music can increase workplace productivity.

Remember: Everyone Is Different

So, music has a positive effect on mood, and elevated mood has a positive effect on employee productivity. Does this mean you should exchange full-time silence for full-time music? Not necessarily. For one thing, according to Furnham and Strbac (2002), certain tasks require more concentration than others; depending on the task you’re working on, music may be too distracting (especially if you’re not used to listening at work). Individual differences should also be taken into account when deciding how often you should listen to music at work, if at all.

Researchers have looked at differences between introverts and extroverts in terms of music’s effects on mood and productivity. The results have not been entirely conclusive, but some of the studies lean toward the assertion that introverts have a harder time listening to music and working than extroverts. (This may have less to do with the music and more to do with the complexity of the task.) Doyle and Furhnam (2012) found that “creative” individuals are less likely to be distracted by music than “non-creative” individuals, but their study does not address whether introverts or extroverts are more likely to be categorized as “creative.” Nor does it address how this might conflict with the results of other studies on the topic.

Correlation versus causationAs Lesiuk (2005) points out, the correlation between music and mood is still somewhat fuzzy. Though her study gave some pretty solid support for music being the cause of improved mood, other research hasn’t been so straightforward. Lots of studies have found that people with more positive outlooks tend to listen to more music at work; however, if you’ve ever taken a social studies or science course, you know that this assertion falls into the dangerous “correlation versus causation” predicament. In this case, it’s possible that the music does not cause positive mood, but that people who are generally happy to begin with tend to listen to music more than those who are not.

As you can see, there is still much to learn about music and productivity. If there is one lesson to be taken from all these different research studies and perspectives, it is this: do what is best for you. One thing that researchers seem to agree on is that, for individuals who do enjoy music while working, the type, duration, and genre of music don’t seem to matter. Individual music preferences are the most important indicators for music’s effect on productivity (Lesiuk, 2005). It doesn’t matter whether you want to listen to classical music, rock, rap, or indie pop—as long as you’re listening to music you enjoy, you’ll be more likely to succeed. You should also keep in mind that familiar music tends to be less distracting than music you’ve never heard before. You may even decide that any music at all is too distracting when you’re at work, and that’s fine too. Everyone is different; just focus on finding what works best for you.

Conclusion

Employee satisfaction is key to employee productivity—and what makes people happier than music? The next time you’re debating the use of headphones in your workplace, whether as an employee or as an employer, take this research into consideration. Happier employees mean better quality work for the company, and more of it—and that, my friends, is what we call music to everybody’s ears.

Image source: Daria Nepriakhina/Stocksnap.io