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If you’re a working freelance writer, I’ve got a question for you: Would you like to earn twice as much money from writing as you do right now?

(I should clarify that I mean without working twice as hard.)

Who wouldn’t, right?

I’ve been helping freelance writers double their income for many years now, and here’s what I’ve learned: Earning a lot more may be easier than you think.

There are a few basic changes to how you run your writing business that reliably boost writers’ income.

What small steps make a big difference? Here are my top five tips for quickly doubling what you earn from writing:

1. Stop and analyze

Many freelance writers are caught in a gerbil-wheel trap. You spend every minute frantically doing current client work and checking online job boards trying to land more gigs. You’re barely earning enough to pay bills, so there’s little free time.

There are zero minutes spent reflecting on the big picture. Where is your writing biz headed? Who would you really love to write for, and how can you position yourself to get there?

In the world of entrepreneurship, this is called working in your business instead of on your business. You’ll need to stop the busy-busy and take stock of your direction to make course corrections. If you’ve got even a single hour, you could reflect on what’s happening and potentially chart a new course.

Question: When was the last time you made a list of all your clients, how much you make from them on an hourly basis — and where they came from?

Do you see any patterns in your marketing of where better-rate clients came from? Worse ones? That may show you it’s time to stop checking online job boards, and time to do more proactive marketing, or to double down on LinkedIn networking. Or perhaps one industry niche is paying better than your others, and you should troll for more work in that area.

Stopping to do a client analysis can help you see where you’re wasting time, which clients should be dropped, and which asked for a raise.

2. Drop the biggest loser

Once you know who your worst client is, lay plans to get rid of them.

Writers often stay trapped at a low income level because they fear change. “I love writing for client X!” writers tell me, even though the gig works out to under $20 an hour. Bulletin: That client isn’t loving you back.

Somewhere in your client list, there’s probably a client that should be cut loose, to free up marketing time to find better prospects.

Use the time you save to find a better client. Once you do, drop the next-biggest loser. And so on. This simple process of swapping out lower-paid clients for better ones is the main technique I used to build my own business to six figures — right in the middle of the last big economic downturn.

3. Create (or strengthen) your inbound funnel

Are great clients finding you online? Whether it’s from a LinkedIn profile or your own writer website, a thriving writing business gets inbound clients who see your work and contact you. You should wake up in the morning and find emails, InMails, or Messenger notes from good prospects.

If that isn’t happening for you, it’s time to build or improve your online presence. I’m currently teaching a bootcamp for new freelance writers, and I’m blown away by how many have fewer than 100 LinkedIn connections. Give the Internet a chance to help you find clients on autopilot!

Consider making network-building and site improvement a weekly goal – it can pay off in less active marketing you have to do. And we all want that, right?

If you’ve got a writer website but it’s never gotten you a client, it’s time to optimize it. Have you given SEO any thought, and are you getting found for the keyword phrase you’re targeting? It can be worth investing a little time to make sure you come off professional, and it’s clear what type of clients you want.

Remember, most clients are searching for someone who knows their thing. They’re Googling for an Atlanta healthcare writer, or a freelance cryptocurrency writer. Something like that. Be sure to think like a client and communicate your expertise.

4. Identify ideal clients

If your marketing is all over the place, it’s time to focus. One of the best ways to do that is with an ideal-client exercise. Here’s how:

Close your eyes and imagine your ideal freelance writing life. Who are you writing for? Is it Vanity Fair? IBM? Think big and make a list of at least 10 dream clients.

Next, ask yourself this: What clips would impress those clients? Who would be a good stepping stone down the yellow brick road to that Emerald City?

For instance, if you want to write for Forbes, you might pitch a piece to your city’s business magazine or weekly business journal, to start. Aligning current prospects with ideal clients helps you quickly assemble a portfolio that’ll impress the right people.

Stop taking any and all gigs that come your way, and writing about everything under the sun. Instead, build a path that leads directly to your best writing jobs.

Sometimes, this exercise will even lead you to realize you should pitch dream clients right away! I’ve seen writers pitch and get hired immediately by dream clients, once they did the ideal-client exercise and realized they had the portfolio to go for it.

5. Raise your rates

There’s a bottom line that if you want to earn more, you have to charge more.

Start figuring out how you’ll do it. Hint: You’ll need to target clients that have real money and understand our value — bigger-circulation magazines, larger business and websites. Generally, these gigs aren’t sitting around an online job board.

Make sure you know what you’re earning on an hourly basis (even if you charge project rates, like you should)…and keep inching that figure up.

If you don’t have the stomach to ask existing clients for a raise, be sure to bring in new ones at higher rates. If you’re not raising rates, you’re not keeping up with the rising cost of living.

I speak as someone who’s paying $7,000 for braces on kid #2 right now, that cost $5,000 with kid #1, about 5 years ago. The price of everything else is going up, and raising rates shows you’re professional and value your worth.

Once you’ve done the client-analysis process and realigned your actions to suit your goals, make a date with yourself to repeat it every six months- one year. Your client base will change, as will your best actions to grow your income.

We don’t tend to hit new earning levels without a goal. Set yours high and even if you fall short, you’ll be earning way more than you did before.

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!

Photo via Monster Ztudio / Shutterstock 

The post Double Your Freelance Writing Income: 5 Ways to Make it Happen appeared first on The Write Life.

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So you want to start a blog?

If you’re a writer, it makes perfect sense: You can use a blog to serve as your author platform, market your book or find new freelance writing clients.

But where do you begin? Though you’ve got the writing part down, the rest of the process can be overwhelming. Hosting, themes and all that other techy stuff can stand in your way for years.

Well, today is the day that ends. We’re here to help you navigate every step of starting a blog, from choosing your domain name to publishing your first post.

Here’s how to start a blog as a writer:

1. Pick a domain name

First things first: Where are people going to find you online? As a writer, you are your brand, so we recommend using some variation of your name. To check availability, simply visit Bluehost and click on “new domain.” Or, search this handy domain-name checker!

Even if yourname.com isn’t available, you might find it with a different ending, such as yourname.co or yourname.io. If you’re super committed to this whole writing thing, you can also  try tacking a “writer” onto the end of your name, as in susanshainwriter.com.

Alternatively, you could opt for a creative blog name — but remember your interests and target audience may change as the years go by. When I started blogging in 2012, I focused solely on adventure travel and named my blog Travel Junkette. After expanding  my niche and services, I switched to susanshain.com because my name won’t change, no matter what I’m blogging about.

Although it wasn’t a huge deal, I wish I’d started out using my name as the domain, and would advise you not to make the same mistake I did.

Once you’ve settled on your domain (or domains, if you’re like many of us writerpreneurs!), don’t wait to buy it. Even if you’re not ready to start a blog right now, domains are cheap — and you don’t want to risk losing the one you want.

Before you actually click “purchase,” though, you might want to read the next step; we’re going to tell you how to get your domain name for free.

2. Purchase a hosting package

Now it’s time to choose a web host. Your hosting company does all the technical magic to make sure your site actually appears when people type your domain name into their browser. In other words, it’s pretty important.

While we use MediaTemple to host The Write Life, it’s typically better for blogs with lots of traffic, so you probably don’t need that if you’re just starting out.

For a new blog, try Bluehost. It’s used by top bloggers around the world and is known for its customer service and reliability. Bluehost’s basic hosting plan costs $3.95 per month — and as a bonus, the company throws in your domain name for free when you sign up.

Be sure to put your purchase (and all the purchases listed in this post) on a business credit card and keep the receipts; as investments in your business, they’re tax deductible.

3. Install WordPress

We’re almost through with the techy stuff, we promise!

You have several different choices for blogging platforms, but we like WordPress best. Not only is it totally free, but it’s easy to learn, offers a wide variety of themes, and has an online community and abundance of plugins that make blogging accessible to everybody.

You can read comprehensive instructions for installing WordPress on your new blog here. Once you’ve completed that, you can officially log into your blog and start making it look pretty.

4. Put your site in “maintenance mode”

While working on your blog’s appearance, you might want to put up an “under construction” sign to greet visitors.

You don’t want any potential clients or readers to Google your name and find a half-finished site. (You may think you’re going to finish setting up your blog tomorrow, but we all know how writers procrastinate when there are no looming deadlines!)

To set up maintenance mode,  just download this plugin. On your maintenance page, you could even include a link to your email newsletter or social media profiles so visitors have an alternate way of getting in touch with you. When you’re ready to share your blog with the world, simply deactivate and delete the plugin.

5. Choose a theme

Now we’re getting to the fun stuff! Your theme determines what your blog looks like, and you’ve got a lot of options to choose from. Yes, there’s a wide range of free themes, but if you’re serious about blogging, the customization and support offered by paid themes can’t be beat.

Here at The Write Life, we use Genesis, which is one of the most popular premium themes available. Another popular and flexible theme is Thesis. On my first blog, I used Elegant Themes, which has a wide selection of beautiful themes at a reasonable price. All of these themes come with unlimited support — essential when you’re starting a blog.

If you want your blog to be a marketing tool for your writing services, you might look for a theme with a static home page (like mine). That way, your site will look professional and appealing to everyone — whether they’re there to read your latest post or hire you for a project.

Whatever you do, make sure your theme is “responsive,” which means it automatically adjusts to look good on any device. Since more than half of website visits are made on mobile phones, this is crucial for your blog’s aesthetic.

6. Create a header

I think it’s always worth getting a custom header for a new blog.

You can ask your favorite graphic designer, create one with Canva  or order one on Fiverr. I’ve had great luck getting headers and other graphics designed in this online marketplace, where thousands of people offer their services for $5 per gig.

7. Write your pages

Though you’re starting a blog and not a static website, you’ll still want a few pages that don’t change. (“Pages” are different from “posts,” which are the daily/weekly/monthly entries you publish on your blog.)

Here are some pages you may want to create:

About

The about page is frequently touted as one of the most-viewed pages on blogs, so don’t overlook it. Include a professional headshot and brief bio, and explain why you’re blogging and why the reader should care. What makes you an expert? How can you help them?

Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through — blogging is a personal affair!

Contact

You want your readers to be able to get in touch with you, right? Then you’ll need a contact page.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; just tell your readers how best to reach you. Avoid putting your full email address on here, as spambots could get ahold of it. To work around that, you can use a contact form plugin, which we’ll link to below, or simply write something like “yourname AT yoursite DOT com.”

Portfolio

It’s your blog, so flaunt what you’ve got! Show your prospective clients and readers that you deserve their time and attention with examples of your past and present work.

You can see examples of great writer portfolios here; personally, I love Sara Frandina’s.

Resources

Do you have a list of favorite writing tools? Or maybe books that have inspired you? Readers love resources pages, and for bloggers, they can also be a clever way to earn income from affiliate sales. Check out The Write Life’s resources page for inspiration.

Start here

You probably won’t need this at first, but a “start here” page is smart once you have a decent amount of content. It’s a great opportunity to express your mission and highlight your best work, so your readers can see the value of your blog without wading through months or years worth of posts.

Joanna Penn does a good job with hers, encouraging readers to download her ebook and then choose a topic that interests them.

Work with me

If you’re using your new blog to sell your writing services, this page is essential. Be clear about how you can help people and how they can get in touch with you. You could even list packages of different services, like Lisa Rowan does on her site.

Once you’ve set up all your pages, make sure they’re easily accessible from the home page. If they’re not showing up, you may have to adjust your menus.

8. Install plugins

Plugins are great for everybody, especially those of us who are less comfortable with the technical side of things. Think of them as apps for your blog; they’re free tools you can install to do a variety of things.

Though having lots of plugins can undermine the functionality and security of your blog, there are several we recommend everyone look into:

Better Click-to-Tweet: Encourage readers to share your content by including a click-to-tweet box within your posts. This plugin makes it easy.

Contact Form 7: If you want to avoid putting your email address on your contact page, use this plugin, which is frequently updated and receives good reviews.

Hello Bar: Want to get readers to sign up for your free newsletter? Or want to announce the release of your latest book? This plugin allows you to create a banner for the top of your blog.

Mashshare: These share buttons are similar to  the ones you see here on The Write Life. Another minimalist  option is Simple Share Buttons Adder. It doesn’t matter which plugin you choose; it’s just important to  make social sharing easy for your readers.

Google Analytics Dashboard: This plugin tracks the visitors to your site so you can see what people are interested in and how they’re finding you.

Akismet: One of the headaches of blogging is the plethora of spam comments. This plugin will help you reduce the number of spammers that sneak through.

WP Super Cache: Another plugin that’s not sexy, but is important. Caching allows your blog to load faster — pleasing both your readers and Google.

Yoast SEO: This all-in-one SEO plugin helps you optimize your posts so you can get organic traffic from search engines.

9. Install widgets

If your blog has a sidebar, you might want to spruce it up with a few widgets, aka small boxes with different functions. That said, the minimalist look is in — so skip this step if you want to keep your sidebar simple.

Here are some ideas:

About box

You’ve probably seen this on a lot of blogs; it’s a box in the upper right hand corner welcoming you to the site. Check out The Write Life editor Jessica Lawlor’s blog for a good example.

Social media icons

Make it easy for your readers to follow you on social media by including links to your profiles in the sidebar. Your theme will probably include this feature, but if not, here’s a basic tutorial.

Popular posts

Once you’ve been blogging for a while, you might want to highlight your most popular posts in the sidebar, which you can do with a basic text widget. We do this here on The Write Life so you can find our most popular content quickly and easily.

10. Purchase backup software

Don’t overlook this important step just because you don’t have content yet! It’s better to install this software early than to start blogging and forget until it’s too late.

Free options exist, but I’ve never had good luck with them — and for something as important as my entire blog, I don’t mind paying a little extra. (It’s a business write-off, remember?!) Popular backup options include VaultPress, BackupBuddy and blogVault.

11. Start your email list

I know, I know — you haven’t even started blogging and I already want you to build an email list. Trust me; you’ll be so glad you did.

Alexis Grant, founder of The Write Life, agrees with me. “If I could go back and do one thing differently for my business, it would be starting a newsletter earlier,” she writes. “My email list is THAT important for my business, bringing traffic to my website, buys of my products and opportunities I never could’ve expected.”

Even if you don’t have anything to send, just start collecting email addresses. The best way to entice people to sign up is by offering a free ebook or resource. For a great example, check out The Write Life’s Freelance Writer Pitch Checklist.

My favorite email newsletter platform is Mailchimp. It’s intuitive, fun and free for up to 2,000 subscribers. There are many  tools to choose from, though; here are a few more options for building your email list.

Once you’ve created your list, encourage your readers to sign up  by adding a subscription box to your sidebar, and maybe even installing a plugin like PopupAlly.

12. Write!

If you really want to start a blog, you’re going to need to…start blogging.

We recommend creating an editorial calendar — even if it’s just you blogging. It doesn’t have to be fancy; it can even be scribbled out in a notebook.

What’s important is that you plan your posts in advance, so you can keep track of your ideas and stick to a schedule. It’s also a chance to assess and tweak your content strategy. What do you want to write about? How will you draw readers in?

Don’t forget you’re writing for the web, so your style should be different than if you were writing for print. Keep your tone conversational, use “you” phrases to speak to the reader and break up text with bullet points and sub-headers. Lastly, keep SEO in mind, and grab a feature photo from sites like Unsplash and Pexels to make each post shine

13. Promote, promote, promote

You’re almost there! Now that you’ve started writing, it’s time to get readers. And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but for many writers, this is the most surprisingly time-consuming aspect of blogging. Though it’d be nice if we could just write (that’s what we love to do, right?), it’s nicer to have people actually read your work.

You can try guest posting on other blogs, reposting on sites like Medium and LinkedIn, or including links when writing responses in forums, Facebook groups, or on Quora. Just make sure you’re adding value — and not spamming people with your URL.

Social media is another great way to get more traffic and grow your author following. Instead of merely tooting your own horn, be sure to interact with editors, writers and bloggers, too.Share their content with your community, comment on their posts and support them when and where you can. Hopefully, they’ll return the favor!

14. Get help if you need it

If you feel stuck at any point, don’t be afraid to invest in a course or ebook like these:

Sometimes a little outside help is all the boost you need.

Other than that, creating a successful writing blog is about hard work and consistency. Keep posting helpful and engaging content, optimizing it for SEO and sharing it with your networks — and you’ll soon see your new blog start to blossom.

Congratulations, you’ve now officially started a blog as a writer. Guess it’s time to get writing!

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life and we thank you for that!

This post was updated in February 2019 so it’s more useful and relevant for our readers!

The post How to Start a Blog: A Step-by-Step Guide for Writers appeared first on The Write Life.

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In January, I packed my car and drove 12 hours alone from Florida to North Carolina. This was not a typical road trip, but I had plenty of soul-searching planned: I was headed to the Penland School of Crafts, a bustling art school nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

As I embarked on my first writing residency, I knew I’d be joined by artists from all over the country seeking a focused period of independent work. I was ready — or so I thought.

I had packed and repacked the car. I had checked out helpful library books for research. I had acquired plenty of snacks. I had obtained not one, but two new notebooks waiting to be filled with the fresh inspiration that was sure to come.

What I didn’t expect was to feel like a fish out of water, as the only writer attending during my two-week session. Being a lone ranger wasn’t a big deal. But I had no other writers to turn to for perspective, or for a boost of encouragement. It was up to me to forge my own writing path.

I made the most of my time at Penland and returned feeling accomplished. But I also learned important lessons about planning for writing productivity while you’re away from home.

1. The first few days will probably be a wash

Anyone who’s sat down at their desk and waited (and waited…and waited) for words to come knows the anxiety of not being productive enough during a writing session. This gave me some anxiety as I embarked upon my first residency.

A friend advised me to give myself a few days to settle in, both to my surroundings and my temporary writing routine. Of course, someone doing a shorter retreat or residency may not have the luxury of spending a half day importing their chapters to Scrivener, or avoiding writing by reading a book on Cold War-era bunkers, as I did. But I was grateful to have the first few days of my stay to putter around and get comfortable, not only with my space but with myself, and no other tasks to complete but writing.

Tip: Plan a few low-energy tasks to get you started in the first few hours or days of your residency. A valuable way to start your stay may be to read over the work you’ve already done, to remind you why you’re here — and what needs work.

2. It’s good to have goals

Here’s where my strategy of “ease into the residency!” has its drawbacks.

Working in a residency for primarily visual artists meant it was easy to say, “Hey, what did you make today?” to a fellow resident, and be shown beautiful works-in-progress at a moment’s notice.

When they turned that question back to me, asking, “What did you write today?” I would chuckle half-heartedly and give them a big toothy grin. Then I would change the subject.

I didn’t always have something to show for my day of work.

In my first week of my residency, my major accomplishment was figuring out the emotional catalyst for my entire story, and summarizing it in a paragraph. It was a huge accomplishment for me, but on paper, it didn’t look so massive.

My colleagues were still excited for my progress. But because I didn’t set any goals before I started my work, I couldn’t truly gauge my progress during this valuable time.

Tip: Make a work plan, however minimal. Whether it’s a set of chapters, a character development arc, or research for technical aspects of worldbuilding, you’ll want to be able to look back on your time and say, “Yes, I did (at least part of) what I set out to do.”

3. Distractions are everywhere

It’s natural for others to be curious about your work at a residency, and it’s natural to be curious about theirs.

But it’s easy to let those side conversations about your work, your life back home, your pets, and that one city you visited once derail your productivity.

An artist at my residency referred to procrastinating as “chasing squirrels.” Everyone did it. Some of us more than others. If you let distractions like conversations, social media, and fiddling with the coffee pot take over, and you’ll wonder where your day — or entire residency — has gone.

Tip: Set a writing schedule, even if it’s as simple as working two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. That way, you can protect those hours — and let distractions run rampant outside those limits without feeling bad.

4. You will hit a wall

Right when you think you’ve hit your stride and it’s going to be nothing but multi-thousand-word writing sessions from there, you’ll hit the wall. Stuck. Burned out.

It happened to me: I started my second week of residency with a super-productive day where I wrote several pivotal scenes in my work in progress. I felt like I was on top of the world.

Until the next morning, when I sat back down at my desk and…nothing.

The cure? A 90-minute hike on a cold, but sunny day fixed me right up. I knew I needed to clear my head, and when a fellow resident volunteered to keep me company along the path, I happily took her offer. Leaning into this opportunity for distraction helped me reset my brain and sit down at my laptop with clarity and confidence the next day.

Tip: Accept that even in a special environment, some days will be more productive than others. Embrace the ebb and flow of your residency and listen to your body, mind and surroundings along the way.

5. Make a work plan before you depart

Your residency might feel like a rush of creativity and uninterrupted writing. But you can’t take it with you — at least, not in the same form.

When I returned from my residency, I chatted with my mother on the phone, who asked if I had a productive trip. Then she said, “Now you’ll have to keep up the momentum.”

Again with the half-hearted chuckling and toothy grin she couldn’t see through the phone.

I didn’t have a plan. In fact, in the month after my return home, I wrote zero additional words. I did zero additional plotting. I felt inert, sluggish back in my surroundings, with a day job to attend to and errands to run.

The momentum of a residency is hard to replicate for writers who don’t typically get time and space to write.

Tip: Before you depart, make a plan for how you’ll continue writing when you return home. Sure, maybe life will require you to tone it down from 2,000 words each day to 500 three days a week. But setting expectations for yourself will help you feel motivated to follow up on your residency-facilitated burst of creativity.

My lessons might seem obvious to someone who has taken writing trips before. But for a newcomer who loves planning and reviewing agendas, I felt overwhelmed with lightbulb moments. Of course it takes planning and preparation to make the most of your time — just like writing at home.

Now, it’s a matter of applying those lessons as I daydream about my next residency.

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!

The post 5 Lessons I Learned at My First Writing Residency appeared first on The Write Life.

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Have you ever wanted a magical editing wand?

Just imagine: A flick of the wrist would be all that stood between you and the end of editing your writing. No frustration. Minimal time investment. An amazing manuscript or blog post.

Alas, no such magic wand exists.

But we do have automatic editing tools, which are the next-best things.

Just remember that automatic editing tools are designed to make editing easier, not to eliminate the work completely.

Putting automatic editing tools to the test

During self-edits on my latest manuscript, I experimented with six editing tools, both free and paid, to determine which could be most beneficial to The Write Life’s audience. Besides being an author, I’m an editor, so I also weighed each tool against what I’d look for when editing.

Since editing, which is anything that improves your writing, has a broad definition, it’s not surprising that the tools I tried had different functions, from checking grammar and style, to eliminating unnecessary words, to identifying areas for improvement.

What you want your editing tool to do will influence which one(s) you choose. No one tool can do it all — nor can one of these tools wave away the work and critical thinking necessary for a well-edited book.

An automatic editing tool doesn’t replace a human editor. Because language rules and elements of a good story can be so flexible, human eyes will always be superior to the rigidity of automatic tools.

Here are those six tools, broken into three categories based on function.

[Editor’s note: Some companies offered free access to the paid versions of their tools for the purposes of this post, but all opinions are the writer’s.]

Check your grammar and style

Sometimes, you just want to make sure you’re not making any silly spelling or grammar mistakes.

1. Grammarly

What It Does: Grammarly is a grammar checker and proofreader.

Price: $29.95 per month, $59.95 per quarter or $139.95 per year for premium service. A limited version is available for free, and Grammarly also offers a number of other free services such as a plagiarism checker and various plug-ins.

Who It’s For: Anyone, though most useful for corporate business people and academics.

How It Works:  Copy and paste or upload your text into the online dashboard and let Grammarly work its magic. It flags potential errors, gives suggestions and provides an explanation if you need it. There is also a free Grammarly Add-in available for Microsoft Word, along with a plug-in for web browsers.

The Best Part: Grammarly is easy to use and pointed out a vocabulary issue or two that none of the other tools did. It’s superior to Microsoft Word’s grammar checker.

What Would Make It Better: As an editor, I’ve found that many people don’t understand or care to learn the technical explanation for why something’s wrong. Plain language (or as plain as you can get) explanations for mistakes would make it accessible to more writers.

Our Recommendation: Grammarly is best for the final proofreading stage, or for people who want to learn more about the technical aspects grammar. If you’re an editor or strong writer, you might find yourself ignoring more flagged items than you fix.

2. ProWritingAid

What It Does: ProWritingAid analyzes your writing and produces reports on areas such as overused words, writing style, sentence length, grammar and repeated words and phrases.

Price:  Enjoy limited use of the tool for free, or upgrade to the premium membership to edit where you work (i.e., in Google Docs or MS Word), access a desktop app and Chrome add-ins, and — best of all — lose the word-count cap. A year’s membership is $60, but you can get two years for $90, three for $120, or go whole hog and buy a lifetime membership for $210.

Who It’s For: Anyone

How It Works: Click on “Editing Tool,” create a free account, then paste in your text.

The Best Part: ProWritingAid delivers similar results to AutoCrit, and though ProWritingAid has a premium option, most of the areas you’ll want checked are available for free.

What Would Make It Better:  Though ProWritingAid checks grammar, I slipped in a your/you’re mistake without getting flagged. I wasn’t overly fond of the website design, but its overall functionality is hard to argue with.

Our Recommendation: Use ProWritingAid in the self-editing stage to guide your edits. It may not be as comprehensive as AutoCrit, but for a free tool, it’s a decent contender.

3. After the Deadline

What It Does: Like Grammarly, After the Deadline is a grammar checker.

Price: Free for personal use

Who It’s For: Anyone

How It Works: Click “Demonstration,” paste the text you want to check, and click “Check Writing.” After the Deadline underlines any potential issues and explains its reasoning.

The Best Part: It’s free! You can also use it on your self-hosted WordPress site, as an extension or add-on for Chrome or Firefox, or with OpenOffice.org.

What Would Make It Better: A definition of passive voice that explains how you construct it grammatically. After the Deadline rightly explains what passive voice does, but it seems to focus only on the “be” verb, which occasionally leads to falsely labeling non-passive constructions as passive.

Our Recommendation: You get what you pay for with After the Deadline. Use it for a final proofread, but exercise good judgment and don’t make every change it suggests — it’s not as sophisticated as Grammarly.

Improve your writing

If you’re looking for a critique that goes a bit deeper, try one of these options.

4. AutoCrit

What It Does: AutoCrit analyzes your manuscript to identify areas for improvement, including pacing and momentum, dialogue, strong writing, word choice and repetition. Depending on what level you choose, you can also compare your writing to that of popular authors like J.K. Rowling or Stephen King.

Price:  Three different levels are available: the “basic” for $10 per month, the “professional” for $30, or the Elite for $80 per month. (Both of the latter offer a 14-day trial for $1.)

Who It’s For: Fiction writers

How It Works: Paste your text into the online dashboard or upload a document and click on AutoCrit’s tabs to see their analysis.

The Best Part: I spent the most time in “Compare to Fiction” tab, which is a comprehensive look at common issues. It highlighted my tendency to start sentences with “and” and “but,” and identified my most repeated words. I felt like I learned something about my writing, and that’s something I don’t think I could say about the other tools.

What Would Make It Better: A more accurate definition of passive voice. It highlights any use of the “be” and “had” verbs, neither of which fully capture passive voice (you need a past participle in addition to a “be” verb), and many active voice constructions were falsely labeled as passive.

Our Recommendation: AutoCrit is great to guide your edits in the self-editing stage. It’s best used for developmental edits, rewrites and avoiding common writing no-nos.

5. Hemingway App

What It Does: Hemingway App provides a readability score — the lowest grade level someone would need to understand the text — and analyzes your writing to identify areas for improvement.

Price:  Free online, $19.99 for the desktop version (available for both Mac and PC)

Who It’s For: Anyone

How It Works: Paste your text into the dashboard and scan for highlighted sections of text. The highlighted text is color coded depending on your area of improvement, whether it’s hard-to-read sentences, the presence of adverbs, or passive voice.

The Best Part: In addition to providing examples on how to fix passive voice or complex phrases, Hemingway App also identifies how many “-ly” adverbs and passive voice constructions you have and suggests a maximum number to use based on your word count.

In my prologue, for example, I had one use of passive voice, and Hemingway App suggested aiming for six uses or fewer — which I nailed. These recommendations reinforce the idea that not all adverbs or passive voice constructions are bad, and that’s something other tools miss.

What Would Make It Better: Hemingway App was the cleanest and easiest to use of the free editing tools, but it’s not a grammar checker or proofreader. Even though it’s not meant to catch grammar and spelling mistakes, any editing application that catches those mistakes is instantly more attractive.

Our Recommendation: Use Hemingway App to increase the readability of your writing and identify problem sentences during the copyediting stage, but supplement your efforts with a grammar and spell checker.

Eliminate word fluff

Those unnecessary words and phrases are getting in your story’s way.

6. WordRake

What It Does: WordRake cuts out the unnecessary words or phrases that creep into your writing. It works with Microsoft Word and Outlook, depending on which license you purchase. I tested the Microsoft Word version.

Price:  The Microsoft Word version is available for Mac or Windows, and you can pay $129 for a year or $259 for three years. The Microsoft Word and Outlook package version is only available for Windows, and it costs $199 for a year or $399 for three.

Who It’s For: Bloggers, authors and editors using Microsoft Word or Outlook

How It Works: WordRake is an add-in for Microsoft products and requires you to install the program before using it, though it’s as easy as following the instructions. Select the text you want to edit, then use the WordRake add-in. It uses track changes to suggest edits, which you can accept or reject.

The Best Part: WordRake is as close as you can get to an automatic editor. It appealed to me more as an editor than writer, but it’s great at eliminating unnecessary phrases and words — and it’s those words that bog down your writing.

What Would Make It Better: I threw a your/you’re mistake in to see if WordRake would catch it. It didn’t, even though Microsoft Word flagged it. If WordRake could catch common writing mistakes like your/you’re or their/they’re/there in addition to unnecessary words, it’d be a hard tool to beat.

Our Recommendation: WordRake is a great tool for the copyediting stage. Verbose writers, authors wanting to cut down on editing costs or editors looking to speed up their editing process will most benefit from WordRake. Watch out if you’re running Word on a slow computer: WordRake increases your load time.

Do you use one of these editing tools or something else? What’s been your experience with automatic editing tools?

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!

This post was updated in January 2019 so it’s more useful and relevant for our readers! It was originally written by Amanda Shofner and updated by The Write Life team. 

The post 6 Automatic Editing Tools That Will Make Your Writing Super Clean appeared first on The Write Life.

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A lot of writing advice encourages you to market to your audience by defining your ideal reader.

It says to think of your reader as one person, create a profile and write for that person.

You’ll even find templates for defining your ideal reader — fake head shots and all. They’ll ask you to name the reader and list their demographics, interests and job. They’ll ask you to explain why this reader is totally in love with what you write.

The problem? This exercise does nothing to help you understand what actual readers want from you.

The “ideal reader” myth

When you set out to define your “ideal reader,” you’ve probably already decided what you want to write — maybe even written it.

You’re sitting on that romance novel, self-help book or blog about what cats have taught you about love, and now you’re ready to market it. So you dream up a reader who fits the bill. They’re male or female, between ages 18 and 54, probably own cats and are single. So, obviously, they’ll love your blog.

Voila. You’ve got your ideal reader.

Except that’s useless. All you’ve done is reverse engineer an audience for yourself, and you can’t do that with real people.

If you want to attract actual readers, you’re going to have to do it the other way around: Learn what real readers want, and write it for them.

How to write what your audience wants to read

To understand who your audience (actually) is and how to write for them, I’ve come up with a simple exercise.

Borrowing from the way software developers plan projects by first working to understand their end users through a user story, I define readers with what I call a “reader story.”

The reader story is a simple way to understand who you write for, what they need from you and why.

The exercise might feel similar to fantasizing about your ideal reader, but it’s goal is different. Instead of inventing a reader for something you’re determined to write, the reader story helps you plan your writing around helping the audience achieve some goal.

To create your reader story, fill in this statement about the typical person you expect to read your work:

As a [type of person], they want [some goal] so that [some reason].

For example:

As a millennial mother of young kids,

They want advice on raising children, self-care and relationships,

So that they can balance being a parent with a full-time job while still enjoying me-time and a relationship with their partner.

That reader story might drive content for a parenting and lifestyle site like Scary Mommy.

If you don’t know anything about the typical person who might read your work, do your research before creating a reader story. Don’t invent a reader you hope exists.

How to use your reader story to plan writing projects

Once you create a reader story, it should drive all the decisions you make about your writing.

Does that blog topic help the reader achieve some goal? Does that book cover appeal to their some reason? Are those marketing platforms frequented by this type of person?

Write down your reader story, and stick it somewhere you’ll see every time you write.

Keeping your reader’s needs top of mind can help you make decisions about:

  • Which topics to tackle to get your story across.
  • Your goals for what you write.
  • Which products make sense for disseminating your story or ideas.
  • Which platforms are best for distributing your work.
  • The tone and voice you’ll use to speak to your readers.
  • When and how to release your work to have the greatest impact.

Developers rely on the user story to focus on features customers actually want — and leave behind the stuff that’s super cool technologically but totally unnecessary in real life.

Use the reader story the same way in your writing. You might love the anecdote you’ve found to open that article about your grandmother’s butternut squash soup recipe… but does it serve the reader’s goal of, you know, making a good butternut squash soup?

Yeah, the reader story will make you get real honest with yourself about the value of what you’re writing.

For more guidance on using your reader story to plan writing projects and answer those big questions for everything you write, I invite you to download my free guide: “How to Write Anything (Well).”

The post How the “Ideal Reader” Myth Hurts Your Writing Process appeared first on The Write Life.

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When I wrote my first book in 2013, I was newly married and working a full-time job. While writing, that dream of every writer’s heart whispered to me every morning: What if this is what you could do to make a living?

As I’d done for decades, I silenced that voice of hope with a quick and definitive, “Yeah, right. Nobody’s even going to read this thing.”

However, I’d just read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. Spurred to fight Resistance, I wrote my 50,000-word book in six months by waking at 5 a.m. every weekday and writing for an hour — whether or not I felt like I had anything worthwhile to say.

I accomplished that by changing my mind-set. What I had once approached as a pastime turned into an obligation. Where once I’d wait (far too long) for inspiration to strike, I found W. Somerset Maugham’s words to be true: “I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”

When I experienced the truth that a writing life is built upon writing—a novel concept, I know — everything changed.

When my hobby became my habit, my identity changed to match my expectations.

I no longer said, “I want to write.” I said, with confidence, “I am a writer.”

It wouldn’t be until years later — after I’d become a full-time freelance editor, author, and ghostwriter — that I’d learn the four-step habit-building process I’d unintentionally worked through.

And that education, ironically enough, would come through a book project I had the glad opportunity to assist with early on in its development.

Atomic Habits (for writers)

The subtitle for James Clear’s Atomic Habits, a New York Times bestseller, is An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. Its tagline is “Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results.” Through many well-researched examples, Clear presents reason after reason why a 1 percent change for the better every day is more beneficial than striving for one defining moment, or, worse, stagnating.

He also offers clear steps on the process of building better habits. Essentially, you need to discover your cue, craving, response, and reward. (Atomic Habits goes in-depth on each of these steps, and I recommend picking up the book for a fuller understanding.)

How to create and maintain a writing habit

To transpose his ideas to the writing world, let’s consider how each step could look in your writing life. Each quote below is from “How To Start New Habits That Actually Stick,” an excerpt of Atomic Habits.

1. “The cue triggers your brain to initiate a behavior.”

Your cue could be the place you write, the music you listen to, or the tools you use.

My cue was just getting myself from my bed to my office chair in less than ten minutes every morning. If I could get myself in front of a keyboard before conscious thought (a.k.a. Resistance) entered my brain, I could convince myself, Well, I’m already here. Might as well write.

Author and podcaster Sean McCabe automates lights in his office to change to a certain color when he’s scheduled time for himself to write.

I highly recommend using one or all of these cues: writing in the same place, at the same time every day, while listening to the same kind of music. As you establish your writing habit through repetition, your body and mind start to correlate that place, that time, and that music with, Well, it must be time to write.

Now, pause here to consider what your cue could be.

2. “Cravings…are the motivational force behind every habit.”

Clear notes, “What you crave is not the habit itself but the change in state it delivers.”

In other words, I didn’t crave getting up at 5 a.m., at least not initially. I craved the sense of accomplishment from being a writer working toward a long-sought-after goal. To be honest, I also craved the moment I’d be able to tell friends and family, “I wrote a book.”

Your craving may be the same, but it could also be to make money or a living through your words, or to earn respect for your opinions or skill.

Now, ask yourself, “What change of state am I seeking as a result of my writing?”

3. “The response is the actual habit you perform.”

Writers ought to have only one response to their cues and cravings: writing!

Of course, being a writer today requires far too many extracurricular activities, like promoting your list or pitching agents, but the habit you must perform without fail to become a writer and stay a writer is to write.

Yet, I’m willing to bet, most of us struggle to do that consistently for a host of reasons.

That’s why following Clear’s four stages of habit-making — which loop back upon themselves — is so helpful.

4. “Rewards are the end goal of every habit.”

Once your cue has led to your craving, your craving has led to your response, your response leads to your reward. You finally get to enjoy the fruits of your labors.

These rewards can take a few forms.

Maybe it’s the endorphin kick when you finally figure out your plot or when one of your characters surprises you on the page.

Maybe it’s the realization that you’re doing what you’ve always said you’d do.

Maybe it’s being able to talk about your work-in-progress because you finally have a work-in-progress.

For me, my reward was Pavlovian. I used Scrivener’s word count goal feature to meet my daily word count goals. Every time I’d cross that number, Scrivener would give me a pleasant ding and a pop-up of congratulations.

Eventually, I craved hearing that noise.

For all of those early mornings, my habit loop wasn’t about writing a book and whatever rewards could come from publication. Rather, my habit loop was much simpler: I just wanted to hear that chime, signifying that I’d met my goal.

And, by just getting 1 percent better every day, I eventually wrote a book, published it, and then turned that work into a career in writing.

That whisper of fear I once had has been replaced with a daily shout of joy: This is what I get to do for a living. (And I have incredible clients to thank for that.)

If you’re ready to transform your writing hobby into a writing habit, I hope you’ll experience the same kind of identity shift.

You’re not going to write.

You are a writer.

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!

The post 4 Ways to Create (And Maintain) a Writing Habit appeared first on The Write Life.

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Maybe you’re the type who welcomes Valentine’s Day with open arms — and a slew of candy hearts for good measure. Or maybe you’d rather ignore Cupid’s birthday entirely, rebranding the event S.A.D. (Singles Awareness Day, that is).

But whether you struggle with or celebrate this annual festival of fondness, one thing’s for sure: making money as a writer can be just as trying as navigating a romantic relationship…and just as blissful when the stars align.

In honor of the season of love, we’ve put together a few fun ideas for earning cash as a writer, even — or maybe especially — if you’re a little love-sick. (In either sense of the term.)

Below, find five dreamy ways to win a wage for your words.

1. Help the lonely find love as a professional dating profile writer

Just as we do for delivery meals and taxi rides, many of us turn to the wide world of the internet when we’re in search of Mr. or Ms. Right. (Or even Mr. or Ms. Right Now.)

But crafting a well-written online dating profile can be a serious obstacle for those who aren’t linguistically inclined.

Which is why “professional online dating profile writer” is now a real job title — and a uniquely 21st-century way to make money writing copy. You could offer up your services freelance on a platform like Fiverr or try to find a gig with a firm focused on this kind of content, like DatingProfileWriters.com.

You might also just reach out to the singles you know in person and ask if they’d like to give their OKCupid “About Me” section a bit of a professional spit-shine. Besides, most online dating profiles would probably be more objective (yet still attractive!) if they were written by a third party.

2. Bring others’ romantic sentiments to life by writing greeting cards

How many lovestruck — or lovelorn — people turn to the staid stanzas of a pre-written greeting card when attempting to express their emotions?

You can use your way with words to help a stranger say what they really feel by writing those heartfelt, if generalized, sentiments.

There are many large greeting card manufacturers who hire full-time writers and offer internships to those who are still studying. That’s how poet and short-story author Keion Jackson ended up as a senior writer at Hallmark Cards. You can also write for major card companies on a freelance basis, earning a flat fee for each accepted submission.

And thanks to DIY sales platforms like Etsy, you could even strike out on your own, writing and selling artisanal greeting cards of your own creation — though in this case, it’ll probably help if you’re as crafty as you are literary.

3. Find work as a freelance romance writer

Yes, it’s true: finding any work as a freelance writer is already complicated. But it’s also true that you can get paid to write romantic fiction on a per-word basis.

Check out, for example, this listing from Radish Fiction, calling for freelancers who are “interested in the romance genre and serialized storytelling.” At $50 per 1500 words, the pay isn’t exactly stellar… but it is paid!

Romance writers are also sometimes in demand on freelance platforms like Upwork. This listing offers between 3 and 6 cents per word for “high quality romance writer[s],” and you’ll be provided an outline. Again, not exactly bread-on-the-table money, but a fun way to bring in a little bit extra!

4. Or pitch and pen your own piece about love

If you’ve got your own heartwarming (or heartrending) story to tell, you might be able to make significantly more than a few cents per word to tell it. You can earn a more substantial chunk of change, not to mention exposure and name recognition, if you successfully pitch your story to one of these literary outlets, which pay quite well for personal essays.

Just be sure your piece fits your prospective publisher’s submission guidelines, and ideally relates to any recent pitch calls the editors have made.

Keep in mind that editorial calendars tend to run several months ahead of publication, so you’ll probably want to reach out by December at the latest with a story you think would work well in February.

5. Feeling feisty? Self-publish your steamy fiction

Find yourself weaving wandering tales of courtship — or even out-and-out smut? No need to be embarrassed. In fact, you may be sitting on some serious earnings potential.

There’s a huge market for romance novels, which accounted for about 15% of adult fiction purchases in 2017, easily beating fantasy and sci-fi combined. And thanks to the accessibility of self-publishing, you don’t necessarily need to do the time-intensive footwork of finding an open-minded agent.

Looking for even more ways to earn cash as a writer? Check out these online gold mines for finding paid gigs, or this guide to getting your start as a freelancer.  

Whether you’ll spend February 14th smiling in pink or scowling in black, we wish you the best of luck — both in love and in lucrative writing!

The post 5 Romantic Ways to Earn a Living as a Writer appeared first on The Write Life.

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If you’re fearfully approaching your writing life this year, one decision could change your life and your writing.

While this decision should be cautiously made, and you may experience some trial and error in the process, I strongly advise you to consider my suggestion: join a writers group this year.

Years ago, I joined an in-person, flesh-and-blood writers group through a local arts program known as Art House Dallas. We met for two years. We studied inspiring passages about writing. We contributed chapters to a collaborative project that was outside most of our comfort zones. We listened to each other’s stories of failure and success. Multiple members finished their book-length projects at the time.

Most of all, we encouraged one another to keep pursuing the calling of writing that is both so challenging yet so rewarding.

That group made me believe I was a writer.

You need other writers

Since then, I’ve become a writing instructor with Writing Workshops Dallas and a public speaker for writers groups and writing retreats.

In the summer of 2018, I attended the God’s Whisper Farm Writers Retreat. I led a breakout session, but the most memorable moment reminded me of our deep need for writing community.

During a time where small groups of five writers shared pieces of their work for immediate feedback, Maria shared her poetry, humbly telling us in so many words, “I’ve rarely shared this with anyone.”

Her hands may have trembled as she handed each of us a printout of one of her poems.

We all read in silence. Then we all looked at her, then at each other.

I don’t recall who spoke first, but our feedback was unanimous: “Maria, this is excellent work. I don’t see how any of us could improve upon it.”

After discussing her poem, background, and motivation, we all sat in awed reflection. Then I may have been the one to ask the question that nearly brought tears to her face: “Have you considered pitching this to a publisher?”

Her facial response seemed to say, “That’s ridiculous. Who would be interested in poetry from some no-name woman in rural Virginia?”

Then she spoke with grace and humility, downplaying her significant way with words. After begrudgingly accepting our accolades, she spoke similar words to what I’d said myself before joining my first writers group: “I just never knew there were other people like me out there.”

Really, that’s the only reason you need to join a writers group: to know you’re not alone on this insane calling.

But, if you need more motivation to leave your desk, read on.

6 reasons to join a writers group 1. Joining a writers group will help you escape hibernation

If your writing life has been dormant for months (or even years), the right writers group will spring you into action — if not just to prove to your group members that you are, in fact, a writer.

2. A writers group will provide you with accountability

Some people can self-motivate, but even the most productive writers need goading from time to time. Procrastinating writers definitely need prodding. Untold thousands of people want to write a book every year; only a small percentage will ever meet their goal. What kind of writer do you want to be?

3. A writers group will motivate you to become a better writer

For instance, the Inklings was a famous writers group from 1933–1949 comprised of J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and many other English writers. “Many passages of The Lord of the Rings found in the Inklings their first—and unfailingly appreciative—audience, much to the delight of their author.” The friendly but competitive spirit of the group spurred Tolkien to write a masterpiece.

4. A writers group provides inspiration

Hearing another author’s work-in-progress, celebrating their successes alongside them, or seeing how they overcome the inevitable frustrations of the writing life will all inspire you to keep at it. And knowing that you will have a group of people who will likewise celebrate alongside your successes is a great inspiration to do your best work.

5. Worthwhile writers groups ought also to educate you

While not every writers group is solely educational, education still happens, whether through hearing others’ feedback, learning how someone marketed their book or discovering a new tool or resource that’s just what you needed at the precise moment you needed it.

6. Finally, a writers group ought to be fun

Of course, it won’t always be fun, but if you’re going to get the most from your group, your group needs to be relationally healthy. And a sure sign of relational health is the group’s ability to have fun without losing sight of the reason for the group’s existence.

If your writers group is far too serious all the time, you might need to search for a new group. The writing life is hard enough without your dour writers group making it more so.

Now, since I’m sure you’re motivated to join a writers group this year, let’s get practical.

What kind of writers group should I join?

Not all writers groups are created equally. Not all are sanctioned by an organization. Not all are free to attend.

In other words, before you choose a writers group, do your homework.

Research the group online. Send an email or two to the group’s coordinator. Connect with current members of the group. Figure out if what the group offers and the kinds of people who attend are what you could commit to.

Unless the group quickly fails to meet your expectations, commit to the group for at least a year. You need that long to build the kinds of trusting relationships that the best writers groups need, especially for critique groups. (Wouldn’t you rather know the person pretty well who’s nicely ripping apart your work?)

Here are a few different types of writers groups:

  • Critique groups tend to be the most common type of writing groups. In these groups, you’ll often bring multiple printouts of a sample of your work-in-progress for other attendees to read and critique. This feedback often happens out loud. If that’s your nightmare scenario, don’t join a critique group—yet. Then again, it’s better to receive in-person feedback from a few people you know than from the reading public on your launch day.
  • Program-based writers groups, like the Nonfiction Authors Association, often bring in a guest speaker to discuss some specific aspect of the writing life. These are mainly educational meetings, but some will mix in critiques too. Again: do your homework.
  • Discussion-based writing groups are informal meetings, sometimes without a set agenda, where writers can talk about anything they may be struggling with. They are essentially writing mastermind groups.
  • Writing classes are not writing groups in the strict sense of the phrase, but they can be depending on how the organization or teacher leads the class. Some writing classes offer group help after the class, whether online or in person.
  • Genre-based writing groups only accept authors who write for a specific genre, like romance or sci-fi. Their meetings focus on topics germane to their genres.

Finally, some writers groups may encompass two or more of these categories. That’s why you must research a group before attending so that your expectations are properly set.

Now, as to what kind of group you need to join, ask yourself, “What does my writing need right now?”

If your craft is lacking, join a critique group, an educational group, or attend a writing class.

If your motivation has dried up, join a programmatic writers group or a discussion-based group. If you’re serious about getting better within your particular genre, find a group centered on your genre.

If you have no idea what to choose, join the closest writers group to you that seems like a good fit and that you can commit to for at least a year.

That writers group just may change your writing life.

How to find a writers group

Lastly, how can you find a writers group?

Begin your search by locating in-person groups. Give yourself a reason to get away from your desk at least once a month.

Search “writers group” at Meetup.com. The results will show you writers groups within your preferred radius of your chosen city.

If you don’t find a compelling group at Meetup, search “[your city name] writers group” on Google. Click on the first group that seems interesting, then read as much as you can about them. For any lingering questions, email the coordinator. Put their next meeting on your calendar and force yourself to attend.

Lastly, for IRL writers groups, see if your city, area or state has an organization that aggregates writing groups. For instance, the North Texas area is spoiled by W.O.R.D., Writers Organizations ‘Round Dallas, a website that has compiled multiple writing groups in the area and sends out a monthly email newsletter listing every group’s events.

If you’re unable to find a worthwhile writers group within a drivable distance, or other issues may prevent you from venturing out of your house, online writers groups are a serviceable substitute. They can provide each of the same helpful attributes that real-life groups offer.

To that end, The Write Life offers these two excellent resource-filled articles for finding an online writing group:

The right writers group can launch your writing life into its next — and possibly its best — phase yet.

May you find your writing tribe soon!

The post Why You Need to Join a Writing Group (And How to Find One) appeared first on The Write Life.

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Endless definitions of “writer” exist in the world. And they’re only growing with the proliferation of blogging and digital publishing.

Whether you’re a novelist, journalist, Ph.D. candidate, entrepreneurial blogger, self-help guru writing a book or some combination of creativity at the intersection of multiple ambitions, you call yourself “a writer.” Whatever kind of writer you are, a blog or online community probably exists to help you succeed.

Each year, The Write Life celebrates these vast resources available by releasing a list of the 100 Best Websites for Writers, and we’re excited to do it for the sixth year in a row.

Thanks to your suggestions over the years, we’ve been able to curate hundreds of websites to bring you the best of the best.

Many are tried-and-true favorites featured in our previous lists, and this year we’re thrilled to feature several newcomers you recommended, along with two new categories: writing tools and inspiration.

Each website featured in this list meets the following criteria:

  • It was recommended by readers of The Write Life. More than 400 of you nominated sites this year — thank you!
  • It publishes content helpful to writers.
  • It has been updated recently and regularly.

We’ve broken our 2019 list into 10 categories: freelancing, inspiration, writing tools, blogging, creativity and craft, editing, podcasts, marketing and platform building, writing communities and publishing. All sites are listed in alphabetical order within their categories, with numbers for ease of reading (not ranking).

And if you want to start your own website or blog, here’s our step-by-step guide. Your website could be next on our list!

1. A Selfish Poet

For poets and creative writers seeking publication, writer Trish Hopkinson shares writing tips and no-fee calls for submissions. Articles from Hopkinson and guest bloggers will help you become a savvier submitter and keep you abreast of the latest opportunities for writing contests, journals and other publications that pay.

Post you’ll like: Just Keep Writing: 3 Forms to Re-energize Your Poetry

2. Creative Revolt

At Creative Revolt, Jorden Roper is leading a revolution to help freelance writers and bloggers make serious money. Don’t miss her free class on how to make your first $1,000 freelance writing in 45 days.

Post you’ll like: How to Become a Freelance Writer with No Experience, Degree or Money

3. Elna Cain

Elna Cain has helped thousands of writers find their first freelance writing job and go on to make a living from writing. On her blog, she shares tips and strategies to help new freelance writers succeed.

Post you’ll like: How to Write an About Page as a Brand New Freelance Writers

4. Freelance to Freedom

You love to write. But to be a successful freelancer, you need to work those business muscles. That’s where Freelance to Freedom comes in. Founder Leah Kalamakis offers articles, newsletters and a free Freelancer’s Toolkit to teach everything from client management to setting up your business website.

Post you’ll like: How to Use Twitter Effectively for Your Freelance Business

5. Freelance to Win

At Freelance to Win, Danny Margulies believes you should get to do work you actually enjoy doing — rather than just working for a paycheck and waiting for the weekend to arrive. Danny is an expert at landing gigs on Upwork, and his blog shares all the latest tips on how to use this platform for ultimate success.

Post you’ll like: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your First (or Next) Freelance Job

6. Freelancer FAQs

You have questions, they have answers. Team members and guest contributors at Freelancer FAQs address all the things you’ve ever wanted to know about freelance life, including writing, marketing, running your business, money management and more.

Post you’ll like: How Can I Find Profitable Niches to Make More Money as a Freelancer?

7. FundsforWriters

Where other websites provide guidance on how to write, FundsforWriters offers direction on funding streams, focusing on markets, competitions, awards, grants, publishers, agents, and jobs. Her free weekly newsletter reaches more than 35,000 writers, and includes semi-pro or higher paying markets and contests as well as grants, crowdfunding, contests, publishers, agents and employers.

Post you’ll like: Beyond The Writer’s Market: Seven Ways to Find New Magazines

8. LittleZotz Writing

Lauren Tharp has found a way to write as a freelancer full time and is dedicated to helping other writers do the same. In 2018, she opened the site up to guest submissions, so if you have knowledge to share about writing, you’ll want to send Lauren a pitch!

Post you’ll like: What to Do When You Lose Your Best Client

9. Make a Living Writing

At Make a Living Writing, Carol Tice helps writers move up from low-paying markets and earn more from their work. Whether you’re a new writer, mid-career writer or just thinking about becoming a writer, her blog, ebooks and paid community offer solid advice, support and resources to grow in your career.

Post you’ll like: How to Become a Freelance Writer: The Ultimate Answer Sheet

10. Pen & Pro$per

You’re in the “write” place when you visit Pen & Pro$per where Jennifer Brown Bank shares more than 15 years of professional writing experience to help others reach financial success with their writing. The site is devoted to supporting and advancing its community along their creative journey.

Post you’ll like: How to Onboard New Clients (And Why You Should)

11. Sagan Morrow

Recommended by readers, romance novelist and business-book author Sagan Morrow teaches solopreneurs how to build businesses. Her articles offer practical tips and step-by-step guidance for anyone who wants to make a living as a writer.

Post you’ll love: Identifying Your Ideal Client: Step-by-Step Guide

12. The Freelancer’s Year

In 2016, Lindy Alexander took on the challenge of taking her freelance writing career full time. The Freelancer’s Year documents the lessons she’s learned and features interviews with seasoned freelancers.

Post you’ll like: Are You Ready to Become a Full-Time Freelance Writer?

13. Goins, Writer

Best-selling author of five books, Jeff Goins believes you don’t have to starve to share your best work. He created his site to inspire others to awaken to their creative gifts and develop their true voices. Through his blog posts, podcasts and newsletters you’ll get an inside peek into the life of a successful creative professional, as well as practical advice for pursuing your own art.

Post you’ll like: Why the Story of the Starving Artist Needs to Die

14. Positive Writer

Bryan Hutchinson overcame writer’s doubt, and he knows you can too. In the pursuit of creating work that matters, all writers get stuck from time to time. Positive Writer offers motivating blog posts to help you move beyond writing paralysis and finish the work you set out to create.

Post you’ll like: Keep Writing Even When You Absolutely Hate It

15. The Write Practice

Here’s a little secret about writing: It takes practice! At The Write Practice, Joe Bunting and his team help you develop your writing rhythm and grow into your voice and identity as a writer through prompts, exercises and more.

Post you’ll like: Writing Deadlines: The Unlikely Secret to Creative Freedom

16. Write or Die

Writers can’t do it alone! Community is everything over at Write or Die. Wallace’s blog documents the writing lessons she’s learned and offers practical guides and tools for upgrading your own writing.

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17. Writers Helping Writers

Authors Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi are dedicated to empowering writers everywhere. Their books and blog posts focus on helping writers, editors and teachers become better storytellers.

Post you’ll like: Beginnings and Backstory

18. Duotrope

This resource for writers helps you find agents and publishers for your work. Browse up-to-date market listings, track your submissions and deadlines, and get valuable insight into the publications you’re pitching. Duotrope costs $5 per month or $50 per year, and you’ll start with a seven-day free trial. Users say the cost is worth it.

“You get pretty amazing statistics,” literary magazine editor Jerrod Schwarz told The Penny Hoarder, “that are as specific as percentage of people they publish, percentage of people they reject, how many people they publish per issue. Sometimes contact information.”

Try out the tool here

19. Journalist’s Resource

Run by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center, Journalist’s Resource offers write-ups on the latest scholarly studies, reports and data. This is a great place to find reliable research as well as inspiration for your next freelance article.

Browse the latest research here

20. One Stop for Writers

One Stop for Writers by Writers Helping Writers is a “storehouse of creative information.” Grab free resources to help you write and plan your story or upgrade to to one of their subscription offerings for even more support.

Browse the resources here

21. ProWritingAid

Tons of our readers recommended this site last year! ProWritingAid offers manuscript editing software to help you analyze and self-edit your writing. You can sign up with an email address to use the free tool to analyze 500 words of text for style, grammar, overused words, readability and more. You can pay for a membership to get desktop software and eliminate the word-count limit.

Try the editing tool here.

22. Where to Pitch

Created by freelance writer Susan Shain, this awesome resource helps you decide where to pitch your articles, based on a topic or publication. The free Where to Pitch newsletter offers monthly freelance writing tips and resources.

Try out the tool here

23. Who Pays Writers?

“Who Pays Writers?” is a crowd-sourced list of publications that pay freelance writers and how much they pay. Just search for a publication in the tool, and you’ll see an average pay per word, a list of assignment descriptions and how long writers waited to be paid.

Try out the tool here

24. Writers Boon

A one-stop destination for everything a writer needs, Writers Boon is a book publishing and marketing directory where you can connect with other authors, publishing and marketing experts and resources for authors. Membership is $89/year, but you can follow the Writers Boon Blog for ongoing free advice and news.

Sign up here

25. Be a Better Blogger

Blogger Kevin Duncan created Be a Better Blogger in 2014 to help you — you guessed it — become a better blogger. His articles show bloggers how to get better engagement, increase traffic and choose the best tools to run your blog.

Post you’ll like: 6 Simple Steps for Creating Remarkable Content

26. Be a Freelance Blogger

Sophie Lizard and her team at Be a Freelance Blogger shows you how to increase your income, build an expert reputation, and regain your freedom by blogging for hire. Through her blog posts, job board and Facebook group, you’ll increase your blogging income and become an expert in your niche.

Post you’ll like: 6 Get-It-Done Tips for a Fairytale Freelance Blogging Career

27. Copyblogger

Since 2006, Copyblogger has been teaching people how to create killer online content. They’ve been around the block a time or two! Take your content marketing and copywriting skills to the next level with Copyblogger’s free membership, including an online-marketing e-course, free ebooks, forums and more. It’s a leading resource for professional blogging and digital marketing.

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28. Craft Your Content

This editorial agency founded by Elisa Doucette offers proofreading, editing and coaching services for entrepreneurial writers. Its free email course and articles motivate and educate writers to create better content.

The Write Life readers say, “Elisa and Craft Your Content are one of the best kept secrets on the internet.”

Post you’ll like: Responding to Edits as a Professional Write

29. How to Blog a Book

In 2010, author Nina Amir developed the challenge to “write a blog post a day and a book a year” by blogging your nonfiction book from beginning to end. Now her site shares tips for blogging in general, including “booking blogs” — repurposing your blog content into books.

Post you’ll like: How to Become a Prolific Author by Blogging Books

30. ProBlogger

Founder Darren Rowse and the ProBlogger team bring you the latest news and tips to build a better blog. This site, which has been around since 2004 (!), offers extensive resources on how to monetize your blog, as well as a robust job board constantly updated with new blogging opportunities.

Post you’ll like: 3 Ways to Give Your Readers a Fresh Take on a Well-Worn Idea

31. See Jane Write

A website and community for women who write, See Jane Write, founder Javacia Harris Bowser seeks to empower women to be “authors of their own lives” and “live a life worth writing about.” Consistently recommended by many of our readers, See Jane Write is a great place for women who want to dive into the worlds of writing, blogging and entrepreneurship.

Post you’ll like: Rediscovering the Joy of Blogging

32. The Blogsmith

Sales and marketing pro Maddy Osman shares SEO writing advice and content marketing expertise to help writers get more eyeballs on their sites.

The Write Life readers say, “I always go to The Blogsmith when I need the most up to date information on industry changes that impacts writers.”

Post you’ll like: How to Get Backlinks (Without Being Annoying)

33. Aliventures

Master the art, craft and business of writing with Ali Luke. Her blog provides practical and motivational advice on writing books, blogging and building a business around your writing. Check out her Writer’s Huddle Self-Study Packs to learn more about time management, self-publishing, freelancing and more.

Post you’ll like: Three Things to Do Before You Start Freelance Writing … and Three Things Not to Bother With

34. Almost an Author

Almost an Author offers a deep archive of useful content focused on helping writers at any level. Blog posts, interviews and resources help writers learn the craft and launch their careers.

Post you’ll like: Microblogging for Authors and Writers

35. Ann Kroeker

Ann Kroeker, an author and writing coach, helps established and emerging writers be more curious, creative and productive so they can overcome hurdles and reach their writing goals.Her website is home to numerous blog posts, podcasts and resources for writers.

Podcast episode you’ll like: 4 Simple Ways to Put Your Own Writing First

36. Bang2Write

Calling all screenwriters (and novelists)! Bang2Write is for you. This site offers tons of advice on how to develop great stories and pitch your scripts, along with best practices for writing research.

Post you’ll like: 22 Industry Pros Share Their Advice On What They DON’T Want

37. C.S. Lakin’s Live Write Thrive

Novelist, copyeditor and writing coach C.S. Lakin loves writing, teaching and helping writers. At Live Write Thrive, she writes about proper scene structure, character development, editing and crafting a fantastic story.

Post you’ll like: How Writers Can Spot Those Pesky Flaws in Their Fiction

38. DIY MFA

According to the folks at DIY MFA, the typical MFA (Master of Fine Arts) boils down to one simple formula: Writing + Reading + Community. And you can do that yourself, accessing the benefits of a Master of Fine Arts degree without having to go the traditional (expensive) route.

Post you’ll like: Using Fiction Writing Techniques to Enhance Your Creative Nonfiction

39. Elizabeth Spann Craig

Mystery author Elizabeth Spann Craig blogs about all things relevant to a writer’s life, including public speaking, productivity, gaining visibility and connecting with the wider author community. Her weekly “Twitterific” roundup of writing articles is a reader favorite.

Post you’ll like: Pushing Ourselves in 2019

40. Eva Deverell

Eva Deverell offers tons of resources for readers, writers, poets and people who just love learning. With worksheets, blog posts, writing prompts and ebooks, this site offers practical ways to deepen your craft. Don’t forget to grab your free novel outline!

Post you’ll like: How to Writer Fast

41. Fiction..
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