“Jumpstarting a freelance writing career” in the Philippine Star

What do the names Nikka Sarthou, Niña Terol-Zialcita and Ana Santos have in common? For one, they are all freelance writers, whose pieces have been published in various newspapers, magazines and even on websites. All three have their own forte ranging from lifestyle to investigative news. It was during a writing class that they got together and realized that there weren’t many groups that cater to the need of freelance writers who want to learn other forms of writing style. Thus, Writer’s Block Philippines (WBP) was born.

Excerpt from “Jumpstarting a writing career”, published in Philippine Star on July 19, 2010.

Text and photo by Alexa Villano

Carlos Celdran talk with the audience during his Walk This Way tour, the second workshop of Writer’s Block Philippines. Photo by Alexa Villano
Carlos Celdran talk with the audience during his Walk This Way tour, the second workshop of Writer’s Block Philippines. Photo by Alexa Villano

MANILA, Philippines – What do the names Nikka Sarthou, Niña Terol-Zialcita and Ana Santos have in common? For one, they are all freelance writers, whose pieces have been published in various newspapers, magazines and even on websites. All three have their own forte ranging from lifestyle to investigative news. It was during a writing class that they got together and realized that there weren’t many groups that cater to the need of freelance writers who want to learn other forms of writing style. Thus, Writer’s Block Philippines (WBP) was born.

Established only this year, Nikka said that they decided to put up the group writing workshop because of their passion for writing.

“We discovered that we were all writers. The three of us were doing freelance writing. We naturally gravitated towards each other because we have the same passion. We also want to create a group and realized that when we want to look for an outlet, there were not many opportunities. So we decided to form our own group,” Nikka said.

“Many writers have to be educated with issues. When I met Nikka and Ana we saw there was an opportunity beyond teaching and imparting knowledge. It is one to write and write creatively, it’s another thing to do as a source of livelihood,” Nina said.

Their first workshop, “Jumpstarting Your Freelance Writing Career,” got them a huge response. With only a limited slot, the group was surprised that a number of interested participants signed up for the workshop. It was soon followed by the “Walk This Way” tour with Carlos Celdran where writers had the opportunity to explore Intramuros.

“We never expected this reception from the writing community. We were surprised that a number of people were looking for something like this,” Nikka said.

“It was a validation. Before we started WBP, the three of us were all soloists of sorts. The warm reception that we’ve gotten from the writing community has shown us that there are other writers like us who feel the same way,” added Ana.

__

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE.

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.

__

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