10 common mistakes every freelance writer should avoid (featured in Our Awesome Planet)

Like any other business, you need to organize a working system to manage your own freelance career – all three of us found that out the hard way. We want to share with you what we have learned from our personal experiences, so you’ll know what mistakes to steer clear of and what to do about it. Here are 10 tips to help you become more successful as a freelance writer.

Excerpt from “10 common mistakes freelance writers should avoid”, published in Anton Diaz’s Our Awesome Planet.

Writer's Block Philippines!

10 Common Mistakes Freelance Writers Should Avoid
by Writer’s Block Philippines — Ana Santos (SexandSensibilities.com), Nikka Sarthou &
Nina Terol-Zialcita (TheArtofChangeMaking.com)

Like any other business, you need to organize a working system to manage your own freelance career – all three of us found that out the hard way. We want to share with you what we have learned from our personal experiences, so you’ll know what mistakes to steer clear of and what to do about it. Here are 10 tips to help you become more successful as a freelance writer.

1. Never take contracts for granted. As a freelancer, the only person who can ensure your financial and professional security is yourself. Pay special attention to contracts and terms of reference, and don’t be satisfied with simple verbal agreements. Learn to operate like a small business and keep yourself protected from abusive colleagues or from lawsuits from clients.

2. Be clear about the scope of work. It’s easy to assume your scope of work when you’re simply writing an article for a publication. However, the minute you start taking on larger projects with more tasks and more coordination work (managing a publication, for example), be clear about your scope of work and expectations from both your clients and team mates. Never assume anything and always put terms, conditions, and payment agreements in black-and-white.

3. Even when dealing with friends, be professional. It’s easy to cross professional boundaries when dealing with friends whom you’ve known for a long time and whom you trust. However, when it comes to freelancing and managing your own micro-enterprise, you need to draw professional lines. Let friends sign contracts and agreements, prepare payment vouchers, mind your paperwork, do everything professionally.

4. Know your limits. As a freelancer, it’s tempting to take on more projects than you can handle because it will bring in more cash. DON’T. Know your limits and respect your own boundaries. Remember that when you spread yourself too thinly, your productivity will suffer as well. Avoid getting to the point where you will disappoint your clients, your editors, and yourself. Learn how to manage priorities and decline projects politely. If you turn in consistently good work every time, you will never run out of projects and clients.

5. Take note of your deadlines. You are your own boss so you have to manage all your projects and list down your deadlines so you can easily keep track of them. It would be bad for your reputation if you don’t submit your assignments on schedule.

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READ TIPS 6 to 10 HERE.

Philippine Daily Inquirer features travel writing tips from Writer’s Block Philippines

AS YOU GEAR UP FOR THE rest of summer, fret not about your vacation expenses. Instead, find ways to monetize your travel passions and turn your holiday adventures into sources of extra cash.

How? By writing travel features.

An excerpt from “Turn your summer adventures into extra cash by travel writing”, published in Philippine Daily Inquirer on April 17, 2010

By Sofia Y. Ros

Photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita

Il Duomo in Milan, Italy, taken by Niña Terol-Zialcita with a Nokia E90

AS YOU GEAR UP FOR THE rest of summer, fret not about your vacation expenses. Instead, find ways to monetize your travel passions and turn your holiday adventures into sources of extra cash.

How? By writing travel features.

Ana Santos, Nikka Sarthou, and Niña Terol-Zialcita of Writer’s Block Philippines believe that traveling not only helps us unwind and have a great time: It also offers powerful insights that could make great fodder for writing.

“Writing about your travels is another way of imprinting the memory of that place and immortalizing it in your mind,” Santos says. “Traveling is good for the heart and mind, but writing about a place is good for the soul.”

However, if hopping on a plane seems too expensive and too daunting, Sarthou reassures the budget-conscious traveler. “You don’t have to travel far to produce good travel articles. You can simply start in your hometown, and just share what you know about it in a more organized manner.”

To read the rest of the article and get travel writing tips, CLICK HERE.

Writer’s Block Philippines in “The Manila Times”

The texting starts at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings.

“Hello ladies, I’ll see you in a few minutes. I’ve e-mailed a list of our deliverables for today’s meeting.”

That is the usual text message that signals the start of the weekly meeting of Writer’s Block Philippines, a group formed by Ana Santos, Nikka Sarthou and Nina Terol-Zialcita, three freelance writers.

The Writer’s Block: How to jumpstart that freelance writing career

Text by Veronica Franco
Photos by Ena Terol
Published on April 11, 2010 in The Manila Times

PHOTO - 2010_03_20 Nina,Ana,Nikka Shoot Serendra1

The texting starts at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings.

“Hello ladies, I’ll see you in a few minutes. I’ve e-mailed a list of our deliverables for today’s meeting.”

That is the usual text message that signals the start of the weekly meeting of Writer’s Block Philippines, a group formed by Ana Santos, Nikka Sarthou and Nina Terol-Zialcita, three freelance writers.

The “see” in the text message is actually a misnomer since they won’t actually see each other. Most Writer’s Block meetings are done through Skype teleconference.

“People think that freelancers have all the time in the world, but that isn’t always the case. Like us, our common availability to meet about the workshop was a few hours on Sunday mornings,” says Sarthou.

Santos, Sarthou and Terol-Zialcita were all taking a professional blogging and Internet marketing techniques class at the Asian Institute of Management under Anton Diaz when they discovered that they were all freelance writers with close to a decade and a half of combined experience.

The three decided to put up a writing workshop because they were always asked how they got started in freelance writing and wanted to share their experience and practical knowledge with the writing community. Entitled, “How to Jumpstart Your Writing Career,” the one day and a half workshop will discuss practical tips on getting started in freelancing, building a network and ultimately establishing a credible byline.

Deciding to put up a writing workshop was easy, it was meeting and putting it together that was the more difficult part because of their schedules. They had no idea how hard it would be to get together during the week mainly because their schedules never aligned. They found only one day—Sunday—when all were available, and as others in the group had family lunch obligations, the meetings had to be done on Sunday mornings. Doing the meetings on Skype allowed them to get up at 8 a.m. and log—on versus waking up more than an hour earlier to make an 8 a.m. meeting.

“I think it’s a testament to the discipline that is needed as a freelance writer. You have to use your time productively, otherwise you’ll starve if you just slack off. So no matter what time we stayed out the Saturday night before, we would all get up and log on for our 8 a.m. Skype telecon. It’s a good thing we could still be in our pajamas for our meeting,” says Terol-Zialcita, who is a poetess, political communicator and changemaker.

Sarthou agrees, “Freelance writing is not as easy as it seems. It actually entails a lot of hard work and sometimes working during weekends, too.” Sarthou’s byline is mostly read in travel magazines like Mabuhay. She also manages corporate accounts, which gives her the flexibility to pursue her passion for traveling.

“When we thought of this workshop, we thought of setting things straight when it comes to freelance writing. Being a freelance writer is like being an entrepreneur. The service that you are marketing is your talent and the brand that you are managing is your byline, which is essentially your name. You need business acumen to complement your writing skills,” says Santos, a sex and relationship columnist and sexual reproductive health advocate. Santos, who also writes about armed conflict in Mindanao, has had her work published in international publications like Integrated Regional Information Networks News under of United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The perspective on freelancing as a combination of creativity and business strategy proposed by Writer’s Block Philippines has gotten the support of other partners like PowerBooks and Lifestyle Network, who are their major partners.

As the three know, it’s not easy to break into freelance writing. It’s a slow process that requires networking, business skills and making the best out of opportunities that come along.

READ THE FULL STORY IN THE MANILA TIMES ONLINE