The Adventures of a Freelance Writer and Editor

Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Saturday Book Review: The Digital Mom Handbook

If you check out my bookshelf, you will realize that I am a sucker for books about writing, business and making money. As an entrepreneur, I am always looking for advice from successful people about starting a business. I am particularly interested in stories that involve writing.

A few weeks ago, I was wandering around Barnes and Noble, and I stumbled upon The Digital Mom Handbook: How to Blog, Vlog, Tweet, and Facebook Your Way to a Dream Career at Home by Audrey McClelland and Colleen Padilla. Although I’m not a mom, I am a blogger, and I use social media to market myself and my clients. I picked up the book hoping to learn a few things from these impressive women. If they could create businesses and raise children, I should be able to start a business before I have children.

Here’s my verdict: the book is perfect for beginners. If you are intimidated by blogs and social media, it is a step-by-step guide that will help you overcome those fears. It is also very useful for moms because it talks about the challenges of juggling family and career and provides information on how to connect with other mothers. However, even if you are an experienced blogger without children, you can still pick up a few pointers from these ladies and the real moms they interview in the book. My favorite part of the book is the list in the back that features their favorite mom blogs. I always love discovering other bloggers.

Thanks Audrey and Colleen for writing a book that will inspire women. Just because you’re a mom (or one day want to be a mom) doesn’t mean you can’t have a thriving career.

Check out these sales going on at Barnes and Noble!

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Disclosure: Sales links are sponsored by Barnes and Noble. However, the book review and my purchase of the book above weresolely my choice, and I was not compensated for this review.

My Cure for the Mondays

I’ve started to notice a trend in my work habits: I hate Mondays. It’s my least productive day of the week. Most people complain about Fridays. By Friday, they are ready for the work week to be over, and they become less productive. But for me, the rush of having to finish projects before the weekend gives me motivation on Fridays. I can even manage to get work done on Saturdays. But Mondays are a struggle. So I’ve come up with this solution.

1) Save mundane tasks such as answering emails, dealing with the filing cabinet, and running errands for Mondays. These are tasks that don’t require a lot of concentration but still need to be done.

2) End the day early. I no longer try to force myself to work long hours on Mondays if I don’t have to. I’d rather make up the time later in the week when I am motivated. Instead, I accomplish only what is necessary and then I end my day early. I try to fit in a walk in the park with a friend or a few hours of window shopping. Anything that is relaxing and doesn’t feel like work.

3) When also fails, splurge on a latte. Most days I drink black coffee from my own coffee pot. But on days when I need a pick me up, I get in the car, enjoy the fresh air, and treat myself to a fancy coffee. Something about a Starbucks cup inspires me to write, or at least smile.

What day of the week is your least productive day? How do you handle it?

New Blog Post Schedule

Last spring, I took a course on writing for the web, and the instructor suggested that blogs should be posted on a schedule. Apparently, readers like to know when to expect certain content. When I first started my blog (which was originally a class assignment), I was reluctant to set a schedule. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about, so I definitely wasn’t ready to commit to a writing schedule. After a few months of posting, I’ve noticed a trend in my posts and writing and editing projects, and I am ready to announce my new posting schedule. Drum roll, please…

Miscellaneous Monday: This is to ease my inner free spirit that hates schedules. I still have one day a week that allows me write about anything I want.

Wedding Wednesday: I’ve been doing a lot of blogging for businesses in the wedding industry. (I’m obsessed with all things wedding.) On Wednesdays, I will share posts to my recent work as well as other fun wedding related information and resources I stumble upon.

Food Friday: I love food and cooking. Although it has slowed down, I was doing a lot of projects/blogs related to food. On Fridays, I will share links to recent posts, recipes, and other food related information and resources.

Saturday Morning Reading and Writing: You would think that I would take a break from reading and writing on the weekends since I write and edit for a living, but it is my passion. I love Saturday mornings when I can lounge around with a cup of coffee and a good book or notepad. So on Saturdays, I will share writing advice and news as well as book reviews.

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Social Media Marketing Must Read

It is one of those Saturdays where I want to spend all day in my pajamas and I justify the pile of laundry by telling myself that I still have Sunday to be productive, so I spent the morning on the couch with a book. I finally finished reading The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue by Shama Hyder Kabani. It is a must read for anyone who wants to improve their social media marketing strategy or who needs convinced that they should be using social media to market their business. (Hint: If you need help with this type of marketing, I offer social media marketing services.) Here are a few things I learnt from Shama that I think are worth sharing.

* All of your social media efforts should strive to get visitors to your website.

* Your blog is the foundation of your social media campaign and the key to increased traffic.

*There are ways to streamline your social media marketing so you don’t have to spend hours updating status and responding to tweets.

*Key words are important, but they must sound natural.

* As of 2010, there were more than 300 million active users on Facebook, 20 millions users on twitter, and 43 millions users on LinkedIn.

* You need to create a social media policy and strategy and put someone in charge of the content.

I’m curious, what social media networks do you currently use to market your self or your business? What is your friending policy? Have you seen results with social media marketing?


Grants and Social Media… Just Another Day on the Job

My work can be broken down into two categories: paid and unpaid. On a good day, I am researching, brainstorming, writing, and editing for a paid project (usually blogs, grants, copyediting, or copywriting). On a slow day, I’m usually researching, brainstorming, writing, and editing about my business aka marketing and learning. Although this aspect of my business doesn’t “pay,” the goal is to land new clients and improve my skills; both of which are essential to a successful business and ultimately need to financial rewards.

Today was one of those “non-paying” days. I took a break from my “paying” projects to hone my skills and improve my marketing. I spent the afternoon attending a webinar titled Winning Grants by CharityHowTo. Every month, I research, write, and submit grants for Cystic Fibrosis Worldwide, and I recently researched grants for Lights Camera Learn. Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to write and submit grants for Lights Camera Learn as well as other nonprofit organizations.

Since I work with grants on a regular basis, I thought it would be beneficial to participate in this webinar. I did pick up a few helpful strategies, but overall, I was disappointed in the service. After spending $80 on the webinar, I had a poor audio connection and left the webinar after 30 minutes. (It was supposed to be an hour and a half.) I’m not sure if it was my computer or the webinar itself. I would love to hear from others who attended the webinar. Did you have audio trouble? Were you pleased with the content?

Also, if anyone can recommend any useful resources for grant writers (books, websites, courses), I am always looking to improve my skills.

The rest of the day I spent reading The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue by Shama Hyder Kabani. I frequently use social media to market my personal business as well as my client’s businesses. I recently started a new project updating Mita Production’s Facebook, so I wanted to learn more about social media marketing. So far, I really enjoy social media marketing, and I would love to find more clients who need help in this area. If you or anyone you know could use this service, please let me know. I am always looking for referrals.

As always, here is my most recently published posts. More coming soon. Cheers!

Why the “From” Line is Important to Email Marketers

How to Decorate Your Wedding Cake with Fresh Flowers

Seven Ideas to Steal from Twilight Inspired Movies… Even If You Aren’t a Twihard

The Importance of Illustrations

Color Printing Vs. Black and White Printing

Weekly Update

Besides worrying about Irene, I have been doing a little bit of work. Here are a few blogs that were posted this week.

Book Review: Irises to Ashes

A Garden Party Presents… Our Gift Card

Three Unusual Bridal Gowns (This is my favorite blog of the week!)

Four Places to Find Wedding Inspiration

Should You Rent or Buy?

Should You Hire an Editor?

The One Thing Every Bride Needs…

I’d love to hear your feedback. Enjoy the weekend!

Reading is Working

So far this week, I’ve had a hard time focusing. My personal life is demanding all of my attention, and I’m lacking the motivation to get much work done. Luckily, my writing to-do list is fairly short this week, but I still feel guilty for not concentrating hard enough. I should be sending out emails to potential clients, pitching articles to magazines, working on projects that are due in the upcoming weeks, and organizing my growing pile of expense receipts. Instead, I’ve spent most of the week reading books, browsing Barnes and Noble, and “researching” online. Luckily, as a writer, I can consider reading in the middle of the afternoon productive. After all, they say the best writers are avid readers, since reading is the best way to study the craft of writing. Unfortunately, reading and creative writing don’t pay well, so I’ve also been “productive” by registering for a grant writing webinar and flipping through marketing books.

Yesterday, I finished reading a great book called Just Let Me Lie Down: Necessary Terms for the Half-Insane Working Mom (Hardcover) by Real Simple Editor Kristin van Ogtrop. It a memoir about life as a working mother and is written in dictionary form. Even though, I am not a “working mother,” I am a working woman who cooks, cleans, cares for a husband, and hopes to one day have children, so I could relate to many of the stories and terms. Here are a few of my favorites.

“Technological bipolarism: When you wake up in the morning and can’t imagine how you would get through life without your BlackBerry, but by bedtime you want to strap a bomb to it and blow it to smithereens.” Even though I refuse to buy a phone that allows me to be connected to the internet all day, I have the same love/hate relationship with my computer, Facebook, email ,and the internet in general.

“To-do haiku: The list of tasks or semi-important things to remember that replay like a song stuck in your head until you finally find a pen and write it down… To-do haiku are also useful for some of life’s bigger issues: How is my marriage?/Do I even like my job?/Does my ass look fat?” This is pretty much the story of my life. If you think I’m ignoring you because I’m not responding while you’re talking to me, it is probably because I’m mentally repeating something I don’t want to forget. I’m not good enough of a multi-tasker to talk to myself and you at the same time.

“Flamethrower e-mail: The incendiary message you don’t expect that promptly ruins an otherwise lovely day. The e-mail may be from a boss, an annoying coworker, a difficult friend, a teenage daughter. Regardless of who send s it, suddenly your whole world is on fire.” I seriously feel like Ogtrop was spying on when she wrote this.

“Usual suspects: The panel of forces you must consider before you commit to having a full-blown working-mother existential crisis. Before you allow yourself to question your entire life and any decision you have ever made, check: hormones, sleep deprivation level, messiness of house, whining level of children, ridiculousness of colleagues. If none these is the guilty party responsible for your unhappiness, then you may indeed have bigger problems.” This is definitely true for all women, whether or not you  have children.

“Homeward bound: The powerful drive you feel to get back into your house at the end of the day. The drive is so powerful, in fact, that sometimes it makes you do things that are irrational or completely out of character.” I’m glad to know I am not the only person who feels a magnetic pull between my body and the couch at the end of the day.

“Stress test: The self-analysis you must undergo when you are acting like a completely unbearable person. The test consists of one question: Is there something deeply wrong with me, or has stress taken over?”

If these terms describe your life, I suggest you go to the library or the book store and find a copy of Just Let Me Lie Down. By the end of the book, you will realize you are not the only crazy woman in America. In fact, you can rest assured that at least 90% of the people around you are probably just as crazy, or maybe even more, as you are.



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