words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Archive for the tag “Write to the Point”

Stop doubting and start believing

It's not who you are that holds you back. It's who you think you're notAs most of you know, I’m a freelance writer.

Like any other profession, the life of a freelancer has it pros and cons.

Pros include choosing my own hours, being able to work in my pyjamas, having a coffee machine less than 10 steps away, and being flexible enough to watch my kids at their various school activities or have lunch with a friend.

Cons include competing deadlines, varying monthly income, the need to work nights and weekends at times, and having to line up your own work.

For now, the pros outweigh the cons and I am pretty happy to be living the life of a freelancer. The ebb and flow of work also allows me to work on my first novel. (But that’s a different story for a different blog post).

 

Contributing writers, volunteers and interns

However, one of the pitfalls of a freelance writer is the need to constantly be on the lookout for work. Sometimes work comes in as a result of groundwork laid months or even years ago. But it can take time to build that momentum. So I have several email alerts set up to notify me of various writing jobs available.

Some of these jobs offer reasonable pay but most pay a pittance. I actually wrote a post a while back about the generous offer to pay $20 for 2,500 words which equated to less than 1 cent per word).

However, the more alarming and frustrating trend I am noticing is the expectation of writers to work for free.

Hard to believe?

Well, it’s pretty common in the world of freelancing and unfortunately, it is becoming more commonplace. It’s not unusual for me to see as many as 10 of these ‘job ads’ per day!

These job ads are very cunning. They start out as normal job ads, stating what their company is and what the ideal incumbent is like. These ads often request people with degree-qualifications, high-end research skills, native-English speaker, attention to detail, willingness to work hard and ability to deliver to brief. You can also expect wonderful working conditions. Blah blah blah.

The kicker is usually hidden, right at the end.

Unfortunately, we cannot afford to pay for writers at this time, but you will gain tremendous experience.

OR

This unpaid position is ideal for someone wishing to build a portfolio of work.

OR

In return, you will gain valuable experience and learn the ropes of writing for a digital platform.

In other words, ‘we want top notch writers who have loads of experience writing interesting researched-based articles, who are willing to work for nothing’.

 

Believe in yourself — or you’ll work for free

These ads anger me for several reasons.

  1. They promote the premise that good writers are not worth paying
  2. They play on the self-doubt that plagues many writers, that they aren’t good enough to request a fee
  3. They devalue writing skills in general
  4. They devalue the writing industry by setting up expectations for other business owners, that good writing can be obtained for free
  5. The business model behind these ads is based on exploiting people and their talents
  6. The business owner expects others to work for nothing in order for them to build their business (i.e. get ahead at the expense of others).

For every one ad that is willing to pay a writer a decent amount, there are at least 20 – 30 looking for a freebie. Quite frankly, I’m sick of it.

But what I am more sick of are the writers who agree to such terms, because they are really not helping their cause, or mine.

Every time a writer agrees to write for free, they undermine their own worth, the worth of other writers and devalue the writing industry in general.

The reason so many people respond to these ads, is because they doubt their skills are worth paying for. They don’t back themselves. Instead, they gladly accept any job that comes their way, even if it means they don’t get paid.

It’s kind of like being offered scraps from the dinner table and being over the moon about it.

 

Know what you’re worth…and stand by it

If writers stopped doubting their abilities and demanded to be paid, then these ads wouldn’t be tolerated, let alone answered.

Today I saw another ad for a ‘start-up’ wellness company. They were looking for “content writers/creators for blogs, research articles, marketing material and newsletters mainly focusing in health, wellbeing and fitness”. That’s exactly my niche, so I continued reading. (Note the grammatical error is the advertiser’s — no wonder they need writers) …

“All content will need to be original, and target our the desired readers along with the consideration of SEO.

We are looking for someone who is reliable, hardworking and keen to produce content. In return, you will gain valuable experience, working for a new up and coming health start-up company.”

I immediately saw red. I was so angry, I had to step away from my computer for a while.

But after thinking about it, I decided to contact them.

I wrote quite a detailed email responding to their ad, outlining my experience, my skills, my publishing credits and provided them with links to all my published works.

I finished my email with this sentence:

“I’m sure I have the skills you are looking for, so I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with your further. There’s just one thing …. I want to be paid for my expertise. If you are willing to pay me, we may be able to work together.”

I called them out on looking for free labour and told them I was worth paying.

For the record, I don’t expect them to respond. But that wasn’t the point of my email. I wanted to tell them they needed to rethink their advertising.

Instead of being angry about their ad, I told them I was worth something. I took back my power.

 

Do you practice self-doubt or self-belief

Sometimes it’s not easy to back yourself.

Self-doubt is probably the biggest hurdle for writers. Is this the right style? Will they like what I write? Is this the right angle to take? Am I good enough to write this?

When work seems to dry up, it’s very easy to think the worst — that you just can’t make it as a writer.

However, writers don’t have the monopoly on self-doubt. Everyone experiences it.

The man who wants to change careers but doubts he has what it takes.

The business owner who wants to expand her business, but questions whether she will be successful.

The boy wanting to represent his country at the Olympics one day, but wonders if he is good enough.

The student wanting to study law, but doubting she has the smarts.

The aspiring novelist wondering if she is kidding herself.

you can do anythingAs I see it, we have two choices.

We can keep doubting, or we can start backing ourselves.

We can keep questioning our abilities, or start believing in them.

We can keep wishing for dreams, or start working towards them.

The choice is ours.

Personally, I’m choosing self-belief, because I’m worth it.

And you’re worth it too.

 

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you (and you are willing to pay her), contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

 

My extraordinary life

A riddle: What is more precious than gold, but cannot be bought, earned or saved?

I’ll give you a hint. It’s something we often say we don’t have enough of, particularly when we are busy. Yet when we stop and take a breath, we wonder where it went.

Time.

Time is a funny thing.

A minute of sprinting (when you’re not very good at it), can seem like an hour.

A 30-minute filling at the dentist can feel like years.

Waiting several weeks for a special celebration can seem like an eternity.

My extraordinary life Write to the Point

I have made so many different cakes over the years.

Yet 10 years can go in an instant.

We have just celebrated our daughter’s 10th birthday.

To celebrate her ‘double-figures’, she had a special party with nine of her friends. We spent months planning it, organising invitations and lolly bags.

The day of her birthday I spent hours making her cake, and organising her special birthday dinner.

The following weekend, we hosted an extended family celebration, and spent days preparing food and getting the house ready.

By the time we took a breath, it was all over, and our little girl — the baby of our family — had turned 10.

We wondered aloud: “Where did the last 10 years go?”

After all the presents had been unwrapped and the leftover cake put away, I looked through the countless photos of birthdays past, including the plethora of cakes that I had made over the years — 12 years in fact.

There were cupcakes and fairy cakes, lolly cakes and monster cakes, flowers and butterflies, a tennis court, a house, a piano and even an artist’s palette.

I remember making every one of them, each time thinking, “this is taking a forever”, or something along those lines. Yet the only thing remaining of those cakes is photographic evidence that they ever existed.

I am sure all of us are caught in this time warp of sorts — impatient for a moment to pass, yet reminisce about time gone by, because it happened all too quickly.

Mindfulness experts often bang on about being ‘present in the moment’. They believe it is a way to improve happiness and deal with difficult times. However mindfulness is not always possible, or desirable. I for one like to think about something else while the dentist drills my tooth for a filling. Furthermore, finding a quiet coffee shop is much preferable to wandering around a shopping centre focusing on the screams of a 2 year-old having a tantrum.

But I understand the point. We should be ‘present in the moment’, and filing it in our memory bank, rather than focusing on rushing to the next moment.

One of my favourite movies is About Time. It’s the story of a young man called Tim, who is told shortly after his 21st birthday that every male in his family has the ability to travel back in time — but only to a point in time that they have already been in.

My extraordinary life Write to the Point

The artist’s palette, tennis court and house were particular favourites.

All they have to do is enter a dark place (like a cupboard), close their eyes, think of where they’d like to go, squeeze their fists and there they are. Once they are in that moment, they have the opportunity to correct any ‘wrong’. Some of these ‘wrongs’ are small, embarrassing moments that happen to most of us. Some have wider-reaching consequences.

Towards the end of the movie, Tim’s father shares of how he used the gift of time travel. He used to live his day with all the anxiety, stress, frustration and busyness that it brought. Then he would go back and do it again, knowing that things would work out, and therefore able to enjoy the moment, enjoy his life and the interactions he had with people throughout the day. To experience the pure joy of living and making the most of the time he had.

Tim follows his advice for a while and lives each day twice. Eventually he stops travelling in time.

The truth is I now don’t travel back at all, not even for the day. I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary life.”

We all have the opportunity to live an extraordinary life. We just need to show up, and notice it. We need to look for the enjoyment of it and actively participate in it.

It may be noticing the scenery when you travel in the car.

It may be watching your child’s soccer game, instead of playing on your phone.

It might be holding your partner’s hand while you watch TV.

Perhaps it’s making eye contact with the person you are having coffee with, instead of looking at everyone else in the coffee shop.

It may even be focusing on the simple task of icing and decorating a birthday cake.

As I look back over the last 12 years’ worth of birthday cakes, I am blessed to remember making each one of them. They were not just cakes and icing. They represent joyful celebrations of my kids’ lives. They represent their interests and passion at differing stages of their life. They represent joy and happiness and blessings — two blessings in the shape of my children.

They also serve as reminders, that I have indeed been blessed with an extraordinary life.

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

Choose your words wisely

words behaviourHow do you speak to your boss?

How do you speak to your kids?

How do you speak to yourself?

I bet you are a lot kinder to your boss and your kids than you are to yourself.

When you talk to your boss, what kinds of words do you use? What kind of image do you want to project? Is it an image of efficiency, following the rules, doing a good job, showing your initiative, proving yourself? What kinds of words do you use when you speak? Most probably positive, affirming ones.

What about your kids (or friends, if you don’t have kids). How do you speak to them? If you’re like most parents, you probably use words that encourage, praise and build them up. You use words to help them become confident and resilient. You use words to reassure them, and to teach them valuable life lessons. When you need to, you can be firm, but you do it with love.

Now what about you. How do you talk to yourself?

Do you use positive, affirming words or words to praise, encourage and build yourself up? Do you speak to yourself with love?

I’m willing to bet if we could listen to most people’s internal dialogue, it wouldn’t be very pleasant. It would probably be full of self-loathing, put-downs, limiting beliefs and chastisement.

Do the following phrases sound familiar?

“I’m so stupid”

“I’m so ugly”

“I’m so fat”

“I’m hopeless”

“I can’t get anything right”

“I’m not good enough to do that”

“I can’t”

It is said that the average person has anywhere between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts every day. When the majority of those thoughts focus on putting yourself down or talking negatively to yourself, what do you think will manifest in your life?

Children who are constantly told that they are useless, a waste of space, no good, dumb, won’t amount to anything, often do go on to be these things, because that’s all they have ever been told and that’s what they come to believe as the truth.

Would you ever speak to your children like that? Then why do you talk to yourself like that?

When you believe you can’t do things or you are not worthy, then your thoughts become your actions. You don’t do things and you act like you are not worthy. People (especially your children) see someone who doesn’t believe in themselves, who isn’t achieving to their full potential, who has given up on their dreams, who has given up on life. They see someone who is miserable, and bitter and negative.

Words are powerful things.

To look at an individual word, it doesn’t look like much. After all, it’s just a bunch of letters put in a particular order. But change a few letters and it can make a world of difference.   Choose your words wisely

For example:   “I can’t” can easily become “I can”.

“I am not….” can easily become “I am…..”

See the difference?

Words are powerful things. They have the power to build up or to tear down. They have the power to make you smile, or make you cry. They can be the difference between doing and not doing. They can be the difference between failure and success.

If your life isn’t where you want it to be, maybe you need to change some of the words in your vocabulary.

It may just make all the difference.

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications.This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.  

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.  

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com  

Lessons from 2014

It’s amazing how quickly a year goes by.

As I write this, it’s the last day of 2014, but it doesn’t seem that long ago that we were leaving 2013 behind.

Like many people, I have spent the last few days of the year thinking and reflecting upon the year that is almost done.

In short, it’s been a busy and challenging year with lots to look back on. However, the most important things I have taken from this year are things my children have taught me.

They have taught me many things this year, but there are four things that have really stood out.

Don't let fear hold you back

This boy doesn’t let fear hold him back.

Drop the fear and get involved in life

Many of us let fear hold us back. We are afraid to try new things or do what we really want to do because of fear. We may be afraid of what others will think; afraid of not knowing anyone else; afraid that it will be difficult; afraid that it will involve sacrifice or (insert your own fear here).

However, when we listen to our fears and let them rule us, we miss out on so much.

My son, Josh is a great example of ‘getting in and having a go’. If he feels any fear, he doesn’t acknowledge it or even speak of it. He just ‘does’. He’s always up for a challenge and willing to try new things, even if he has never done them before, or doesn’t know anyone else who is doing them. He doesn’t let other people’s opinions prevent him from doing what he wants to do. In short, he doesn’t let fear hold him back. And he is loving life.

Look to the future

The future is something that can excite us or scare us. I think one of the reasons we find the future so scary at times is the fear of the unknown. We don’t know what is in store and we usually focus too much on the negative ‘what ifs’, rather than the positive possibilities.

My son is about to start a new journey at high school. Even though this is a huge change and he doesn’t know many others going to that school, he’s still looking forward to it with anticipation and excitement. He’s looking forward to meeting new people, and learning new things. He’s also looking forward to discovering just what it is he wants to do career-wise when he grows up. To him, his future is an endless sea of possibilities.

Work on your weaknesses

Just as all of us have strengths, we all have weaknesses too. However most of us focus on our strengths — the things we are good at, and avoid our weaknesses — the things we are not so good at.

At the beginning of this year, my daughter, Laura set some goals for the coming year (with the help of her teacher). All the children were asked to identify one thing that they needed to work on. Hers was ‘confidence’. My daughter is a natural-born worrier which can sometimes lead to anxiety and a lack of confidence. However, this year she has worked very hard on becoming more confident.

She has put herself in situations that made her feel very uncomfortable. So much so, that on some nights, it took hours for her to drop off to sleep due to how worried she was. She has taken on challenges that she would normally shy away from, and ended up performing very well. However, the biggest lesson she has learnt from all of this is that things are never as bad as you imagine them to be. By stepping out of her comfort zone, she has learnt that she is capable and that has led to a newfound confidence. So always, always work on your weaknesses.

Follow your own path

This girl is not afraid to follow her own path

Follow you own path

This is a hard thing to do sometimes. Often we have a goal in mind, or something we want to try, yet we get caught up with what everyone else is doing. The primary school my daughter goes to is very big on basketball. About half the school play after-school basketball (my daughter included), and many kids play for domestic teams as well. This year, many of my daughter’s friends were joining domestic basketball teams and a few of her friends asked her if she would join too. We also asked her several times if she wanted to join another team.

Her answer was a steadfast ‘no’. No, because she wanted to keep playing her keyboard and continue with her singing. In fact, she has done so well with her singing this year, she was asked to join the Australian Girls Choir, next year. So while all of her friends are playing basketball, she will be pursuing her love of singing and music. She will be following her own path. Something she is able to do, now she has more confidence in herself.

So as I sit back and think of the coming year and all it will bring, I’m not making resolutions. Instead, I am thinking about how I can make the most of the coming 12 months, just as my children have done in 2014.

In 2015, I aim to:

  • Drop the fear and make the most of all opportunities that come my way
  • Follow my own path, regardless of what others are doing
  • Work on my weaknesses, so they become strengths
  • Look to the future with optimism and hope, rather than worrying about what could go wrong.

In short, I want to be braver than I have been in the past.

This morning while at the gym, I heard the song “Brave” by Sarah Bareillis, and I felt that in some ways, it summed up how I want to approach the coming year.

What are you aiming for in 2015? Are you going to be brave too?

What makes a champion?

When you think of the term ‘champion’, what or who do you think of?

Usually, it’s a word associated with a sportsperson. Usually that sportsperson has achieved something great. Usually the thing that they have achieved is winning an important game, tournament or match.

Most often, ‘champion’ refers to someone who has won something.

However, if you have kids, you’ve probably called them champions as well, even if they haven’t won or performed well in their chosen sport.

This week, both my kids played in basketball Grand Finals.

My son’s game had some significance attached to it because it was the very last game he would play for his school, as he is heading off to high school next year. You can imagine that all the boys were keen for a win — to go out on a high.

Alas, the game didn’t go to plan and they lost 12-31. Not exactly a close game. While there were no tears, there was a fair bit of disappointment from the boys. Like them, the opposition were keen for a win as it was their last time to play for their school. Put simply, the other team played better on the night and our boys finished runners-up for the season.

Understandably, my son was disappointed. And then my daughter presented him with this note:

IMG_5260

Dear Josh, Congratulations on 6 years of basketball at Yarra Road PS. You have played so well everey match. You have improved so much since you started in Grade 1. You always do your best and that’s what makes you a champion. Well done Joshie!! From Laura

After reading it, my son smiled and said “Thanks, Laura”.

Fast forward to later in the week and it was my daughter’s turn to play in her Grand Final. It was a close game (that involved many ‘dodgy’ calls against our team), but with two seconds to go the score was 6-6. Then the other team was awarded two ‘free throws’. The clock stopped and we held our breath. The first shot missed. Phew! Then, the second shot went in!

We couldn’t believe it. We lost the game by 1 point in the last 2 seconds! Once again, our team was disappointed. But being 9-year old girls, there were tears this time. Oh dear.

Following on from his sister’s lead earlier in the week, my son presented my daughter with a note of her own.

IMG_5297

Well done Laura on your basketball match tonight. I know you might be in pain and sadness, but you played really well. I hope you will be PREMIERS next season. From Josh.

She too smiled when she read it.

While it’s really nice to win, what makes you a champion is how you play the game. Do you give it your best? Are you committed to the team? Do you strive to improve each week? Are you gracious when you win? Can you bounce back when you don’t?

While my two kids didn’t ‘win’ their matches this week, they still earned the right to be called ‘champions’.

If you liked this blog post, you might like to read The rules of winning.

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

How many jellybeans do you have?

words by nerissaHow do you spend your time?

How valuable is it to you?

That’s something I have been challenged by lately, especially in the last month before Christmas.

As we all enter the ‘silly season’, time seems like such a precious commodity. All of a sudden, our time seems to be eaten up by attending extra events — school Christmas concerts, sporting club breakups, work Christmas parties, etc. etc.

When you add to this the list of things you need to do to get ready for Christmas itself, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Your catch-cry becomes “I don’t have time”.

However, the beauty about time is that it doesn’t discriminate. Whether you are rich or poor, single or married, old or young, we all have 24 hours in the day. It’s what we do with our time that matters.

Recently, I saw this video. It really made me think about what I do with my time.

Take a look.

As the video says, we all are given a set amount of time. Some of us have more time than others, but we really don’t know just how much time we do have.

And yes, it’s true that we need to spend a great chunk of time doing certain things such as going to work, household chores, preparing and eating food, sleeping and travelling. After you take out all of those things, it really doesn’t look like we have that much time left.

But really, we do. I think the key is to find enjoyment in all the things we have to spend time doing. If you have to spend time preparing food, then prepare food that you enjoy, that will nourish your body and soul. When you eat that food, make it special — set the table or light some candles. If you have to travel in the car, then listen to the music you love, or take time at the traffic lights to look at your child’s beautiful face. If you have to go to work, then find something you love.

And while we can’t really control what happens during our sleep, we can make our bedtime rituals a relaxing and blissful experience. Maybe having a bath, reading a novel, or simply curling up in your favourite pyjamas with a cup of tea is what takes your fancy

Many of us, particularly at this time of the year, stress out about ticking the next thing off our list. But as the video above shows, none of us know how much time we have left.

When we rush around and forget to live, we are really rushing towards the end of our lives.

How valuable is your time? And what would you do, if you only had one jellybean left?

What would YOU like to be paid?

Tell me, if you were a freelance writer, what would you like to be paid for the following job?

(Note: this ad has been copied directly from the website, so any spelling or grammatical errors are that of the advertiser).

Hi all!

This is a bit of and odd one, but I’m hoping to reach someone out there who’s looking to earn a little extra side money as a ghost writer / article writer.

 To be more specific:

 – I will provide the topic, the sub headings and references for you

– You will then use that research and turn it into your own words

– I am looking for articles about 5 pages long (approx 2500 words)

And that’s pretty much it! 

I require your English to be top notch, so native English speakers would probably be more ideal. I would also like each article in about a week.

I mainly focus on health and wellness, so example articles would include detoxing, weight loss etc. But, as I said, I will provide all of the research so you don’t need to know anything about it!

I could outsource this work overseas for much cheaper, but thought I would look local first incase anyone would like to earn a little money from home.

Pay is $___ upon completion of a 2500ish word article.

Scope is there to do as many articles per week as you like

I hope this ad has reached someone looking for a little extra money, and if that’s you – I can’t wait to hear from you!

By the way, this ad is about 250 words.. so 2500 is not that many 🙂

Got a figure in mind? Good. I’ll tell you what you can expect a little later on.

In the meantime, know that this ad is typical of the many that I come across in my freelance writing profession.

Write to the Point CommunicationsOn the surface, working freelance may seem to be the dream job — and in many ways, it is. You can work the hours you choose. You can be flexible regarding which hours you work, meaning you can free yourself up to watch your kids’ sports day, or not be in a tailspin about childcare when your child is sick. You can also choose the kinds of clients and projects you would like to work with.

But that’s often where the dream ends.

As a freelancer, you are responsible for finding your own work. You don’t get paid sick leave, annual leave, carer’s leave or, superannuation. You can often find yourself trying to be everything — project manager, marketer, accountant, web guru and even office manager. (Someone has to take care of the coffee, right?)

However, perhaps the biggest challenge, is the misunderstanding from many, that freelancers (in particular, writers) don’t deserve to be paid what they are worth.

Sure, there are some people out there working as freelancers who really don’t deserve to be paid anything at all for the services they offer. Some ‘freelance writers’ I have come across don’t know the difference between ‘their’, ‘they’re’ and ‘there’. Nor do they even know how to proofread their own advertising!

However, there are many of us (myself included) who are brilliant at what we do, and as such, deserved to be paid an appropriate amount for services rendered.

That may sound conceited, but it’s not meant to be. It simply means I believe in what I do, just as I’m sure many other freelancers do too.

The freelance writer

While people freelance in many different capacities and industries, the path of the freelance writer is the one most vulnerable to exploitation. In particular, is the expectation that we will write for free, in exchange for ‘publicity’ or a token amount of money.

Why is that?

Not many of us expect doctors to provide their services for free. What about plumbers? Imagine the quality of work they would deliver if they knew they were not being paid for it. Do clothing shops offer us free clothing in exchange for us wearing them to promote their brand? Would you ask your mechanic to service your car for nothing, just to give him more experience or ‘exposure’? Of course not.

So why do people think it’s okay to ask (or expect) writers to write for free?

In short, it’s insulting.

Write to the Point CommunicationsWriters are professionals who have consciously decided that working with words is their craft, their niche, their career. Sure, there are many different kinds of writers out there, all with their different specialities. However, the one thing we have in common is that we are professionals, who have invested money and time into our careers.

For example, I am a writer who specialises in writing for the health and wellbeing market. This doesn’t mean that I can’t write other things, or edit or proofread. It just means that I have spent time and money honing my craft in that particular area.

My niche didn’t just ‘happen’. I studied at university for three years and gained my Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Journalism, Communication Studies and Australian Literature. I also hold qualifications in Magazine Writing, Editing and Publishing.

My working career has totaled 19 years. (I took five years off when my two children were born).

During those 19 years, I have worked in a variety of roles and industries, all of them using my writing skills. Prior to going freelance, I worked in a corporate wellness company as a health writer for several years. My work was published overseas and in Australia — both online and in print. I even wrote a great deal of copy for a leading Australian pharmacy. In fact, you’ve probably read some of it. All of that experience means I have developed the following skillset:

  • a knowledge of the health and wellness industry
  • a solid understanding of key health concerns facing the Australian population
  • an understanding of how to write for the health and wellness industry
  • an ability to take complex information and express it in a way that the average person can understand
  • highly developed research skills
  • a knowledge of where to source up-to-date and accurate health information
  • an ability to read scientific studies and interpret the information
  • an understanding of the publishing process
  • brilliant administrative, organisational and time-management skills
  • highly developed event management skills
  • highly developed verbal communication skills; strong negotiation skills
  • an ability to work to deadlines
  • an ability to work autonomously or as part of a team
  • desktop publishing and layout skills
  • highly developed computer skills
  • an ability to learn quickly.

The above list doesn’t even consider the skills I have in terms of spelling, grammar and sentence construction, etc. (i.e. ‘writing’).

Yet, I am still constantly asked and expected to write for free.

Although it isn’t phrased as bluntly as that. It’s more like this: “We would love you to write for us, as you have the exact skills we are looking for. However, we don’t have a budget to pay writers at present, but we would be happy to provide you with publicity, or links to your website in exchange for your writing.

Ummm. No. I don’t need publicity or links to my website.

I want to be paid. I deserve to be paid.

If I was employed with a company, I would be earning a pretty decent wage. I also wouldn’t have to provide my own computer, printer, paper, stationery, lighting or heating. I wouldn’t have to pay for my website or other costs of doing business. I wouldn’t have to spend my time looking for work, preparing quotes and invoices. And my employer would probably pay the fees for any professional organisations I belonged to.

I also wouldn’t have to justify why I am worth being paid.

Don't write for freeWriting for free

I have had a few people ask me why won’t I write for free.

Well, I have in the past. Yet, in every case it was carefully considered and each case had its own reasons. There are still circumstances in which I would write for free (or a reduced rate) — most notably for charitable institutions.

However, every time a writer agrees to write for free, they undermine their own worth, the worth of other writers and devalue the writing industry in general.

Once an editor/publisher receives an article for free, they expect the next person to provide it for nothing. If they have two people who can provide work, one who will do it for next to nothing, and one who wants to be paid what they are worth, who will they choose?

You guessed it — the person who writes for nothing.

Who loses? Well, obviously the writer expecting payment. But do you realise that you will lose out too?

You see, when it comes to writing, you really get what you pay for. If you pay poorly (or not at all), you get poor quality. When editors, publishers and everyone in between consider price before quality, you are going to get very badly written and/or incorrect information.

Anyone who once enjoyed reading satirical articles, amusing tales, in-depth analyses or informative pieces, will have to make do with poorly constructed sentences, misspelled words, and dull writing. Eventually, publications, websites and newspapers lose readers, which means less money to pay writers which means — yep, you guessed it — more trashy writing.

I bet you didn’t think about it like that, did you?

So back to our job ad.

Assume you have my experience, all my skills and know you can do a great job. This is also in your niche area of expertise which you have spent years learning.

Remember, you have to write to the brief, read the research attached, interpret the research and then ‘write it all in your own words’. 2,500 of them. That’s five pages — all correctly spelled, grammatically correct and easy to read. It could take you anywhere from 6-12 hours (remember, you haven’t even seen the brief yet).

What would you expect to be paid?

$1,500?

$1,000?

$500?

$250?

What if I told you, that if you agreed to the job advertised, you could expect to receive the grand total of $20.

Yes, that’s right. $20. Less than 1 cent per word. And if you’re lucky, you might even see that $20 after you submit the article. (Believe it or not, there have been instances where I haven’t received full payment for the work I have completed).

Would you write the article?

Imagine being asked to do that for no payment at all.

Would you be insulted? Feel angry? Feel bemused?

How would you feel, if your boss came to you and renegotiated your hourly rate to below $3 per hour? Would you bother working?

So if you ever need to engage the services of a freelancer (whether a writer, web designer, photographer, or consultant), ask yourself this question:

What would YOU like to be paid if you had to do that job?

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you (and you are willing to pay her), contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

Is nothing changing?

words by nerissa blogHave you ever wanted something to change?

Have you ever worked towards something, thinking that nothing is happening, your goal is no closer, or your circumstances are no different, despite the hard yards you are putting in?

Let me tell you, changes ARE happening.

The other week, I took my kids to get their hair cut. On the way, my  son spoke up.

“You know what’s weird?” he asked.

“What?”

“Well, your hair is growing all the time, but you can’t really see it growing when you look at it. It’s only when you look at it after some time has gone by that you notice it’s different. That it needs cutting.”

WOW!

Often we get impatient and want to see results now.

Society has conditioned us to expect things straight away. A typical example is the weight-loss industry. How many ‘quick-fixes’ are doing the rounds? (Countless) How many of them work? (None — at least not for the long-term) How many people still buy into them? (Millions).

Why? Because people want an instant result. Even though their head may tell them it won’t work, in their heart they are desperate for it to. They can’t bear the thought of weight-loss taking time.

Similarly, how many people spend money on the lottery every week? (I’m not sure, but I’d guess the number is in the thousands). Why? Because they want to ‘get rich quick’.

The same thing with tax-returns. Some accounting firms now offer ‘instant tax returns’ — some even promising cash within the hour! Why? Because as a society we have forgotten the art of being patient.

Sometimes we can get so caught up with ‘seeing immediate results’, that we miss the other things that may be happening around us.

My beautiful boy, (like millions of other kids) is a living testament that hundreds or even thousands of changes are happening all the time.

As he is about to transition from primary school to high school, I can’t help but think back to when he was a baby. I remember the day he came home from hospital — so tiny and helpless. His legs and arms were long and thin, reminding me of a skinned rabbit. His hands so tiny in mine.

From this...to this

From this…to this

Day after day I would care for him, talk to him, read to him, walk with him, and it seemed as if he gave nothing in return. It seemed like all he did was eat, sleep (although he didn’t do much of that!) and require plenty of nappy changes. But bit by bit, little changes were happening. His hair grew, his eyelashes grew and he needed the next size in clothes. After a few months he rolled over. A few months later he sat up, began to talk and once he was walking our little baby had gone and in his place was a toddler.

Like many parents, I would catch myself thinking that I couldn’t wait for a certain stage to be over — “I can’t wait until he sleeps through the night”. “Won’t it be great when he is out of nappies?” “Imagine when he can get in the car by himself and do up his own seat belt.”

Some of the stages were difficult and some were delightful. However, all of them were necessary in his growth as a boy.

Fast forward almost 12 years and he is now only a centimetre or two off my height. Over the past 12 years, countless changes have occurred. Some of them I noticed along the way yet others have snuck up on me.

These changes may be almost 12 years in the making, but in some ways, they have all happened too quickly. When I take a step back, it’s hard to believe the young man in front of me was the same little bundle I brought home from hospital.

Things in our lives are changing all the time. Yet when we look for changes we never seem to see them. Sometimes all we can see is the difficult stage and we find ourselves wishing for the next stage — “I can’t wait until my business is profitable.” “Won’t it be great when we own our own house?” “I wish I was a size 10 NOW!”

But the difficult stage is necessary, just as the delightful stage is necessary. In every stage there are lessons to learn, foundations to build, and changes to consolidate. Even though we may not be seeing many changes (or the changes we want to see), they are happening regardless.

If you are impatiently waiting for something to change in your life, then keep waiting. But don’t forget to enjoy the journey you are on. Don’t forget to look at everything else that is happening in your life. Everything that is good and even the stuff that’s not so good.

If all you ever do is focus on what is NOT happening, you’ll go through your life miserable and frustrated.

So take a step back and look around you. Take it all in. And when you glance back at the thing you are hoping will change, I’m sure you’ll find that it has.

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

 She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

 So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

Give yourself a chance

words by nerissa

Source: VicFit Factory (http://www.vicfitfactory.com/)

If you could do (or have) anything at all, what would it be?

Perhaps you want a new job, a promotion or even a change in your career.

Maybe you really want to travel — see the world and meet new people.

You may even wish to do something daring — like bungee jumping, parachuting or leaving the house without making the bed!

Maybe you are thinking about starting a family, buying a house, selling a house, buying a bigger house?

Perhaps you want to leave a bad relationship or start a new relationship, or deal with something from your past.

Do you have a dream or goal? Or maybe an idea forming in your mind of what your ideal life would be like?

If you do, and you’re not going after it, then what’s stopping you?

The biggest thing that holds people back is FEAR.

What is FEAR?

Fear is a very real feeling. Actually, it is our body’s way of protecting us in the face of life-threatening situations. Fear is a response to a perceived threat — whether it be physical or emotional.

words by nerissaYou may have heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response. This is our body’s inbuilt response mechanism, that prompts us to either fight or flee from perceived harm or threat to us.

The key word in both the above paragraphs is the word ‘perceived’. Perceived doesn’t mean ‘actual’. It means that you have interpreted something as threatening to you.

The trouble is most of us are afraid of things that are not really threats at all. More often than not, the situations that we imagine are more frightening than reality. The situations we imagine are also not likely to happen.

We may be frightened of what people think, of being ‘left out’ or ‘not fitting in’. We might be afraid that we will lose friends.

We may fear losing our money.

We may fear failure and the feeling of disappointment.

Perhaps we are scared about being out of our comfort zone, of feeling uncomfortable in new situations.

Maybe (in the case of bungee jumping), we are fearful of losing our life.

We may worry that the price we need to pay to have what we want will be too great.

We may even fear that when reach our goals, it may still not be enough — we may still feel unsatisfied, unhappy and discontent.

But what we are afraid of is not really the negative outcome — we’re afraid that we won’t be able to deal with it. We don’t trust ourselves enough to say “well, whatever happens, I can handle it’.

Fear is a real feeling, but it’s often based on false evidence.

FEAR can be described as  False Evidence Appearing Real

It can also stand for Face  Everything And Rise.

This week, I was encouraged to give myself a chance. To forget about everything that wasn’t happening, or that may not happen, and instead, focus on steps I need to take, regardless of any outcome.

words by nerissaI was encouraged to give myself a chance.

While we are consumed with fear and worry, we cannot possibly be doing all we can to maximise our chances of success. After all, a head full of fears, has no space to dream.

We have two choices. One, we can either Forget Everything And Run

OR

two, we can Face Everything And Rise.

When was the last time you gave yourself a chance?

Really gave yourself a chance?

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

 She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

Do less and do it well

words by nerissa

Lots of sorting got done today

Once again, it’s school holiday time.

As someone who runs a business from home, this can be a tricky (and sometimes, frustrating) time. In the freelance writing game, it’s very often ‘feast or famine’ — either too much work or not enough. And for the first few years, it’s very tempting to say ‘yes’ to any work that comes your way, until you are well-established in your field.

As luck (or Murphy’s Law) would have it, my busiest times have usually been during school holidays. This has often meant a stressful holiday period, trying to balance meeting deadlines and holiday fun. It is further compounded by the fact that writing for a living isn’t as simple as sitting down for a few hours and ‘getting it done’. Writing often means needing to be in the ‘zone’ — feeling the inspiration and getting the words to flow freely, rather than trying to extricate them one by one. As a health writer, I also need time to research my topic.

As any writer would know, the zone isn’t something you can turn on and off. It’s either there or it’s not. Sure, there are things you can do to help you get in the zone, but with two noisy (and sometimes arguing) children in the background, getting there can be difficult. Even if you manage to find your way there, that magic place where the writing comes easy, can be shattered in an instant with the words “Mum, I’m hungry” or cries of “Stop it! Leave me alone!”

Really? You won’t believe it. Honestly, no sooner had I typed the words above, my eldest comes in and says “Mum, I’m hungry!”….so I’ll be right back……

(insert 37 minutes….)

Right — where was I? Oh that’s right, being interrupted!!

In the past, working during school holidays has meant early mornings, late nights and working across the weekends. By the time school term started up again, I was in need of a holiday myself. But of course, everything else that had been put on the back-burner while I was juggling work and school holiday activities was beckoning.

So these holidays, I decided to do something different. I didn’t take on any work.

words by nerissa

The art of cake decorating

Yes — I said ‘no’.

Instead, I am working intermittently while I can, on things that are not urgent. They are important, but not urgent. They also don’t require me to be ‘in the zone’ so much, which means that I can make the most of snippets of time that becomes available.

Tasks such as updating my website, planning out the remainder of my year, setting goals, learning new things that will have a positive impact upon my business, as well as building relationships with key people.

Quite frankly, it’s been great. I haven’t worked at night, or early in the morning. I spent last weekend attending a personal development workshop, visiting friends and sleeping in. This weekend we are spending time with more friends (celebrating the end of AFL season, to be honest!) and taking the kids to the Melbourne Show.

Instead of fitting school holidays (and the kids) around work, I’m fitting in my work around them. For the past three days, my son has been at a tennis clinic, and my daughter was occupied either watching a movie, playing with her barbies or at my parents’ house — so that’s when I worked.

This morning, the kids sorted out a plethora of books, pens, pencils and other ‘crafty’ activities that have been accumulating throughout the house, so I took myself off to the study to work. This afternoon’s activity was cup-cake making — something we all did doing together.

The great thing about my new approach is that I don’t feel guilt. No guilt about not spending time with the kids when I’m working, and no guilt about not working when I’m with the kids.

words by nerissa

What wonderful creativity

The other positive, is the quality of my work is a lot higher because I’m focusing more on what I want to get done, rather than how I’m going to fit it all in. There is also a lot less frustration, because writing deadlines do not exist for these two weeks. It’s an arrangement that seems to be working, and one that I will endeavour to employ in future school holidays.

It’s very easy to get caught up in the busyness of work and family life. It’s even more easy to be swamped by the juggle that is work and school holidays. One thing I have learnt however, is that sometimes we need to take something out of the picture in order to have more balance, more fun and less stress.

Sometimes we need to do less, so we can do it well.

And on that note, it’s time to enjoy those cupcakes!

Until next time. xx

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

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