Archive for the ‘writing life’ Category

Overcoming Life’s Obstacles

Keep your faith and trust in the Lord

Photo courtesy of Flickr member honey77

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1: 2-4 (NIV)

Many Bible verses keep me going, and when times get as tough as they’ve been for me these past few months, it’s this verse that lifts my spirits.

That nasty devil always tries to knock us down, but eventually (in my case anyway), the Lord intervenes. Although I recently lost all motivation to the point where I struggled to put words on paper, I never lost my faith. Rather than let the devil win, I prayed and spent more time than usual reading and studying God’s word. And that, my friends, is what got me through the tough times.

Once again, I refused to let the devil win, and my reward for holding on to my faith: I can’t type fast enough to keep up with all the words that have been flowing freely again. That, to me, is the greatest reward of all, because I felt lost when I wasn’t able to write as well as I usually do.

The Bible tells us we must stay strong through the trials of life.

Photo courtesy of Flickr member Honey77

Final Thought

If Jesus can do this for me, I can handle life's obstacles.

Photo courtesy of Fllickr member Kamalaboulhosn

No matter what the devil does to try and knock you down, do as I did: stay strong, keep your faith and pray. Sure, you may fall a few times, but you must get back up, take a deep breath to recuperate, thank God for what you do have, and keep on truckin’. Then in due time, the Lord will take care of everything. It’s just one of the many trials we have to experience as Christians, and although those trials will be tough at times, it’s not near as bad as what Jesus endured for us.


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Back From a Hiatus That Lasted Longer Than it Should Have

Photo courtesy of Ashleeappendicitus from Flickr.com

Can you believe it has been almost a year since my last post? When I started this blog in September 2005, I never thought my blog would be on hiatus for this long.

Although I have been busy with clients, I can’t use them as an excuse for my absenteeism, because it wouldn’t be the truth. Actually, the truth is something I never would’ve thought I’d be writing about, but I guess after 10+ years of writing for a living all (or most) writers begin to feel like I have this past year.

Where it All Went Wrong

Lack of motivation is what has caused me to neglect my blog for so long. In all my years as a writer I never dreamed I’d get to feeling so low that I’d lose all motivation to write, but it happened.

You see, it’s extremely difficult to support a household of seven with only two incomes. My husband works extra hard, and to help with the bills, I work hard too. However, between the two of us, it’s still not easy to provide food and shelter for seven people under one roof, so I took on quite a bit of freelance work to help out with the household needs.

Since I filled my schedule with several clients, I haven’t had the time to write my Christian fiction novels, and not being able to find the time for my true passion these past few months caused me a lot of grief. I’ve been so upset over this that I actually lost my motivation to keep up with this blog. Well, I’ve decided that ends today, because I’m ready to re-discover that enthusiasm I once had!

The Plan

In addition to blogging again, I’m going to focus more on inspiring and warming souls through Christian fiction. I truly believe that is what the Lord has planned for me, and I’m not going to let Him down. I will still keep the clients I have and take on a few more, but seeing as writing Christian fiction is what keeps me motivated the most, I figure the majority of my freelance work could come from writing and selling inspirational stories to help pay the bills.

I had a long talk with the Lord the other morning, and I asked him to intervene. If Christian fiction is my true calling, which I believe it is, I know God will guide me and make sure that I earn enough to help with the bills.

Have you ever found yourself lacking motivation to the point where you slacked off because you couldn’t concentrate or the words just wouldn’t come to you like they use to? Share your story by leaving a comment, and let me know what you did to overcome the dilemma.


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Writing From Home — Where I’m at With My Career Today

Writing From Home - Earn More Than $1,000 a Month Writing

Yes, you can earn more than $1,000 a month writing from home too!

For quite sometime now one of my annual goals has been to earn more than $1,000 a month writing from home. It has been a long journey, but I’m happy to report that I finally accomplished that goal.

I began my writing career in 1999, and until last month, the highest my income has been is around $600 a month. I realize I probably could have met this goal a lot sooner, but it takes time to learn the business, build an attractive portfolio and market your writing services. Furthermore, with the way things change in regards to SEO and social networking, it also takes time to learn effective marketing techniques to keep up with all the changes.

Tips to Help You Earn More Than $1,000 a Month Writing From Home

There are many things I could’ve done differently to reach my goal sooner, and today I’ll share some tips, so you won’t make the same mistakes I did. Hopefully you’ll learn enough that it won’t take you over 10 years to earn more than $1,000 a month writing from home. So without further ado, here’s some advice that I pray will help you.

Stick to your guns. Yes, I know it’s cliché, but it is VERY important that you follow this advice. Are you wondering what it means? It means that you shouldn’t lower your rates just to get a client. Yes, even if you’re desperate for work. Just hang in there and a gig paying your going rates or possibly more will come along.

If I hadn’t been so desperate when I first started writing from home fulltime, it may not have taken me this long to earn more than $1,000 a month writing. However, now that I’ve been sticking to my guns, I’ve met this goal with ease and am quickly approaching the $2,000 a month salary range.

Now I’m not saying you can’t lower your rates at all, but don’t resort to accepting an unfair rate. In fact, it’s best to set your rates high enough that you can negotiate to meet the client’s budget and still earn a fair rate for your time and hard work.

Don’t rely on content mills.. Okay, I’ll admit I’m a bit embarrassed to confess this, but I will in order to keep you from making the same mistake. Confession: I use to think that if I wrote for a few content mills that paid a flat-rate of at least $10.00 an article as well as pay-per-view royalties I could earn a good living writing from home and still have plenty of time left to write my Christian fiction novels and work on other personal projects. Boy was I ever WRONG! Truth is, even at those rates I was struggling to pay the bills. As for extra time, I didn’t have that either, because I was so busy writing tons of articles on a daily basis just to make ends meet. Furthermore, once I sat down to calculate just how much time I was spending researching and writing the articles (not including the revisions), my actual hourly rate was less than the minimum wage in my state ($8.00 per hour).

Writing for content mills is okay if you want to earn a little extra spending money, but please, friends, don’t rely on it for the bulk of your writing income. Believe me, it’s not worth the hassle. In fact, your time would be better spent sending query letters to trade magazines and online publications within your areas of expertise. Despite what you may think, there are trade magazines and online publications that do pay a rather fair rate for quality articles, and they pay you far more than a content mill will.

Include your best writing clips in your portfolio. Even if you submit your very best articles to content mills, these aren’t the best writing clips to include in your portfolio. The best way to gain writing clips to include in your portfolio is by following the aforementioned advice on sending query letters to trade magazines and online publications.

Once I removed the links to the articles I submitted to content mills from my writing portfolio, my clientele really increased. The best part: editors, business owners, SEO companies and others were contacting me!

Network with others in the writing and publishing industry. The best way to gain clients and build great relationships with existing clients is through social networking. The best social network for business is LinkedIn, so if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, sign up today. In addition to LinkedIn, create a Facebook page and join Twitter.

Once you’ve joined all three networks, start connecting with others in the writing and publishing industry. Just remember not to spam them. Share relevant advice and links, and you should do just fine.

What have you done to earn more than $1,000 a month writing from home? Share your tips and/or feedback in the comments area below. Questions are welcome too.

Photo credit: Purpleslog


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The Ups and Downs of Making a Living Writing

Making a Living Writing takes dedication and patience

I’m really bummed because I haven’t been able to update this blog as often as I’d like since I moved it over to WordPress. I really did have plans to post more frequently, but since moving the blog, I’ve gained more new clients through oDesk, and they have kept me busy.

As all you other writers out there know, we wouldn’t be making a living writing if it weren’t for our clients, right? And my motto has always been to put my clients first. After all, they’re the ones who pay my bills, so my blog and other personal projects have to wait a little while. Putting personal projects and your blog aside for paying clients is one of the drawbacks to making a living writing.

The Advantages of Making a Living Writing

Although it can be frustrating to let personal projects sit, there are many good things for those who choose writing as their career. Other than the paychecks, here are two big positives to making a living writing:

1. Interacting with other entrepreneurs. I love working for business owners, SEO companies and bloggers, because I get to know them better. Plus sharing business advice gives us all the chance to learn from one another.

2. Staying motivated. Although I sometimes find myself lacking time to work on my own projects, most of my clients are successful, and their success and determination to reach new heights motivates me to make the time for my own projects.

What is it that you enjoy about making a living writing?

Photo courtesy of Liz West


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Sharing What I Learned About SEO

Last week I told you one way to achieve success without college is to set aside time to learn. As you know from that post and from following my blog, despite the time I spend working on clients’ projects and my own, I still manage to find the time to study so I can improve my own skills.

Last night I spent over two hours on GoogleWebmasterHelp’s YouTube channel watching videos of Matt Cutts answering SEO-related questions. Because I offer SEO writing services, I have to learn more about it in order to keep my clients satisfied. Moreover, I also market my websites and blogs, so making sure my sites and blogs are optimized for the search engines is a must.

I absorbed a lot of information last night, and today I’d like to share some of what I learned. I won’t be able to share everything, but maybe these three SEO tips that I learned from Matt will help you when it comes to writing for your clients and marketing your websites and blogs.

1. Freshness (the amount of times you update your blog and/or website) is good for SEO marketing, but quality content is better. In other words, you shouldn’t worry too much about how often you update. Instead, you should worry more about creating good quality content that others will want to link to.

2. Using more than one of the same Headers tag (e.g. H1, H2, etc.) is okay as long as you’re doing it sparingly, which means your entire Web page isn’t just the H1 tag. For a better explanation, see the video below.

3. Finally, if you syndicate your content, the content should include a link back to the original source.

If you’d like to learn more about SEO, I highly recommend you check out the videos on GoogleWebmasterHelp’s YouTube channel. Matt answers some great questions, and he explains the answers in simple terms.

On a final note, I’d like to ask you to vote in the poll below, please. Your answer to the question will help me with an upcoming SEO article that I’m working on for this blog. I’ll reveal the results of the following poll in my upcoming article.

[polldaddy poll=3442697]


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Multitude of Blessings

I was raised in church and gave my heart to the Lord at the age of 13. Then when I turned 15, my brother and I were baptized together. I’m by no means perfect. Like everyone else, I make mistakes, but I’ve NEVER lost my faith. In fact, as time went on, my faith has grown, and the more my faith grows, the more blessings I receive. It’s absolutely wonderful what the Lord will do when you believe and turn your life over to Him! I have to give Him credit for it all, and as my thanks to our heavenly father for His blessings, I feel the need to share how He has helped me with my writing career over the past few months.

Answered Prayers

Not a day goes by when I don’t pray for my writing career. Every night I ask the Lord to bless my career, and within the past few months, He has done just that! Not only have I gained another new client that keeps me busy, I’ve gained even more work, as well as a raise, from a client I’ve had for over a year now. Furthermore, the Lord continues to bless me with trouble-free writing sessions. Lately, the words have been flowing well and ideas come to me often.

Dedication is the Key

With all these blessings, I’m now trying to make time to fit in my personal projects, but as always, my clients will come first. By putting my clients first, I build a good reputation, and that, my friends, is the key to freelance writing success.

No doubt, I stay busy, and on top of all the aforementioned blessings, I continue to receive emails from others eager to take advantage of my writing services. Problem is, my schedule’s filling up fast and I still want to keep room open for the personal projects. No matter how hectic things get, though, I just can’t say no to the editors and entrepreneurs who are contacting me. Although I want that extra time to focus on my fiction writing and getting this blog moved to WordPress, I continue to accept clients who offer me work that’s within my areas of expertise, because I know these are answers to my prayers. However, I do set limits, which I believe the Lord expects me to do.

When you find yourself with an abundance of blessings, here are a couple of tips on what you can do. These tips are the limits I’ve set for myself.

1. Don’t accept less than what you are worth. I know my usual freelance writing fees, and I’ve learned not to undercut myself. I believe the Lord would want me to stick with my normal fees, because if I change them, I wouldn’t profit. The Lord blesses to help us, not hurt us.

2. Pray for guidance. If it truly is what the Lord wants, it will work out. So when I question a new job lead or wonder about a current project, idea or etc., I pray for the Lord to handle it.

Has the Lord blessed your writing career? Tell us about it in the comments area.


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Meet Me and Learn How to Market Your Writing Services

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 10, 2010

Southern Illinois Writers Guild Features Misti Sandefur

Veteran freelance writer to share tips on marketing writing services

Carterville, IL — On May 20, 2010 (7 p.m.), veteran freelance writer, Christian fiction author and Southern Illinois native, Misti Sandefur, will be the guest speaker at the Southern Illinois Writers Guild meeting, which will be located in Room B48 at John A. Logan College in Carterville, IL. Sandefur will talk briefly about her 10+ years experience as a writer, and then she’ll share some of what she’s learned over the years to help the writers in attendance market their writing services. In addition to revealing some of her secrets to success, she’ll distribute free handouts to the group.

Since 1999, Sandefur has been writing content for CEOs, webmasters, business owners, bloggers and others in need of quality content. Besides providing writing services to the aforementioned, she enjoys writing Christian fiction that she hopes will warm the souls of her readers. Writing inspirational fiction stories is Sandefur’s greatest passion.

“Misti Sandefur is the perfect combination of a Southern Illinois writer,” says Cindy Gunnin, Vice President of the Southern Illinois Writers Guild. “She writes without preaching about faith, the beauty of her surroundings and down-home wisdom. She offers practical advice for exploring the region, enjoying life with your family and creating a principled life. Misti writes for several exceptional sites online and has published several books of her own,”

To-date, Sandefur has had numerous articles and stories published in various print and electronic publications, she’s editor of CoffeeBreakforWriters.com and the author of “Help From Above” and “On the Net Resource Guide for Writer” (both published under the name Misti Jackson). She’s also writing her second Christian fiction novel, which will be the first book in her Acts of Kindness series.

“Working from home as a freelance writer gives me more time with my three teenagers, husband and two adult stepchildren. It also allows me to be a caregiver for my elderly father who was diagnosed in late 2009 with Lymphoma and Leukemia,” Sandefur says. “I’m doing what I’ve loved since I was 8 years old, while also being able to care for my loved ones when they need me,” Sandefur adds.

Writers are encouraged to attend the free speaking event in May. There’s no need for registration. Just bring along a writer friend and be prepared to learn how to market your writing services.

To find out more about the Southern Illinois Writers guild, visit them on the Web at http://www.jalc.edu/activities/siwg/index.html. If you’d like to find out more about Sandefur, schedule an interview or request a press photo for your story, you can reach her via email (mediainquiries@mistisandefur.com) or cell (618-841-6885).

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Struggle With Words

My absence here isn’t because I’ve been too busy writing this time, but I honestly wish it were. As much as I hate neglecting my blog and readers, I wanted so bad to tell you it was due to work. Unfortunately, though, that’s not the reason this time.

In all my 10 + years as a writer, I can’t recall a time when I’ve been so lost for words. I don’t know why words have been such a terrible struggle for me these past few months, but I plan to cure it by tonight.

My Plan

Each time that I’ve sat down at my computer to write these past few months, I was at a loss for words. No matter what, the words just wouldn’t flow. I became so irritated that I gave up and headed for bed. Moments after I sat on the side of my bed all kinds of ideas and words — yes, words that I was at a loss for — gushed through my head! “Okay. Great!” I thought. “That’s exactly what I wanted to happen minutes earlier,” I told myself as I got back up and headed to my computer to put those words on screen and save them. Nevertheless, as soon as I sat back down in front of the computer, I wanted to scream. Everything that had come to me vanished!

Back to bed again, and just like before, the ideas and words returned. This time I didn’t rush to the computer, though. I knew if I sat back down in front of my computer the cycle would continue. Instead, I grabbed a flashlight, along with pen and paper, which I keep on my bedside table, and I wrote everything that had come flooding back down by hand. I don’t know why, but for some odd reason I think better in the dark, and I write better with pen and paper under little light. Maybe it’s because when I first started writing that’s how I did things. Even when mom bought me a typewriter, I still wrote everything longhand then typed it later. As for thinking better in the dark, I can’t write unless it’s silent, so when I’m sitting in the dark, it’s peaceful. Well, except for the humming of the appliances and hubby snoring, and if that starts to interrupt my thoughts, I put in earplugs.

Finally, I believe I discovered the cure for my struggle with words, so tonight my plan is to sit in the dark, where it’s quiet, with only little light to see by, and during that time, I’ll write my words by hand and type them into the computer later. I know this will work, because that’s exactly how I wrote this post that you’re reading now.

A Little Writing Advice From Me to You

If you ever find yourself struggling with words, do what usually works best for you. Many times it’s the simple things that we use to do that works best, so instead of neglecting your work and your readers, stick with the thing that works best for you.

If you’re still reading my blog, thanks for sticking around and being patient with me during my absence. Now that I think I’ve uncovered the solution to my problem, I hope to start blogging frequently again.

May the Lord bless you with an abundance of words and solutions to any problems you may be struggling with. And last but certainly not least, I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and blessed New Year!

Photo credit: Re_birf


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You Know You’re a Writer When …

… you sound like an English teacher correcting everyone’s grammar.
… you can’t enjoy a book, because you spend more time editing it.
… you carry a notebook and pen with you at all times.
… you dream about your novels.
… you get revenge on your enemies by making them a character in your novel.
… the letters on your keyboard fade within a year of owning your laptop.
… you have paper, pen and a flashlight on your nightstand.
… you pay close attention to the people and conversations around you.
… you need a bigger mailbox to hold day’s worth of mail.
… your favorite store is an office supply store instead of WalMart.
… you have a desk full of notebooks and napkins with all your ideas.
… your desk is cleaner than your house.
… your family wonders if you know how to fold the laundry.
… the couch you bought years ago still looks new.
… your mom calls to check on you, because you haven’t called or visited her in a while.
… you stop writing and realize everyone in the house is gone. Later, they return and tell you they went out to eat because they got tired of waiting on you to fix dinner.
… the majority of your laundry consists of gowns and flannel pajamas.
… coffee becomes your best friend.
… you read everything in sight.
… you’d rather be home writing instead of shopping.
… your dog brings you the empty food dish and barks.
… you’re getting the most use out of your son or daughter’s English book.
… you’re nodding your head to all these things.

Now it’s your turn.


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Missing Writing the Genre I Love Most… and What I Plan to do About It

My way of “giving a little love every day” is through words. When I first starting writing years ago, my main focus was Christian fiction. Through Christian fiction, I could create characters that would inspire my readers and warm their souls.

Although I still write Christian fiction, I don’t write it as often as I did in the beginning, because my other writing — writing I do to keep the bills paid — keeps me busy. While I do my best to help and inspire through non-fiction as well, I really miss writing Christian fiction stories and novels. So how can I focus more on this genre and still pay the bills?

Possible Solutions

1. Decrease my clientele. While that would free up some of my time, I still have to pay the bills, and Lord knows I can’t write without electricity. Well, I can, but turning in assignments would be hard to do since 95% of my communication and work is done through the Internet.

2. Cut down on my social networking. In addition to writing for clients, I also spend a lot of time building my brand and building relationships through social networks. Now that I think about it, the best solution would be to cut down on my social networking time. I figure I could use some of my social networking time to write Christian fiction stories and submit them to paying fiction markets. That sounds like the perfect plan, and I wouldn’t lose money! However, I have done some searching for paying fiction markets, and although I’ve come across a few, I haven’t found many. That said, I’m going to have to spend a little time searching for paying fiction markets, and then I’ll begin writing and submitting short Christian fiction stories once I’ve built a list of decent paying fiction markets.

Planning Ahead for Future Christian Fiction Assignments

Since I’ve discovered the solution to my problem, I’d like to make plans for a future of Christian fiction assignments. Instead of writing lots of non-fiction, I’d love to be able to work for people who pay for Christian fiction stories. If I could find blogs, magazines and electronic publications that wanted a writer to write weekly or monthly fiction columns that would inspire their readers, then I’d be much happier. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy writing non-fiction, but my biggest passion is Christian fiction. The market, though, doesn’t seem to be as big as my passion. I guess I’ll work my hardest to find those type clients, and if it’s meant to be, the Lord will make sure I get the gigs I really want. In fact, I pray that one day the Lord will bless me with enough book sales that all of my time will be spent writing novels for my readers and the publishers who want my Christian fiction novels. This is not only my prayer, it’s a dream, and one dream that I will continue to work towards.

Have you ever missed writing a genre that you love because a great deal of your time was spent making money to pay the bills, and if so, what solution did you come up with?

Do you know of any paying fiction markets?

Discuss and share your answer(s) in the comments section.

Photo credit: Angel Ina


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