When Worlds Collide: Television, Crafts, and Lots of Yarn

Every so often my worlds collide. And I love it.

Sometimes that involves writing about food and television, but usually it means I’m writing about knitting, crocheting, yarn, or crafts.

Last week I got a double dose. My column about a new, crowd-funded digital series—The Knit Show with Vickie Howell—ran, and my article from the current issue of emmy—about NBCUniversal’s acquisition of Craftsy.com—was posted on the magazine’s website.

My idea of multitasking: knitting while streaming The Knit Show.

Writing is always easier when the subject involves something you truly enjoy. Being well-versed about a topic never hurts, and can give you and edge in landing certain assignments.

The fact that I love knitting, crocheting, and yarn makes it easy to spot potential article ideas other writers covering the television industry might miss. For instance:

  • When I learned Lion Brand Yarn was making licensed knit and crochet kits inspired by the series Outlander, I pitched this story.
  • After seeing footage of a TV reporter who drew the attention of Jimmy Kimmel during a commercial break of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, I thought my editors might like a short piece that involved television in two ways. They did.
  • I wrote my first knitting-related article for emmy long before it started posting articles online:  “Keeping ‘Em in Stitches” (February 2005). It was about how popular knitting had become among actors as a way to pass time between shots (this was pre-smart phones, when people found more creative ways to kill time).

I also write a lot about business, so I looked for ways crafts and business overlap. That led to writing “OK Computer: Don’t Leave Customers to Their Own Devices” for the August 2012 issue of Yarn Market News. The focus was on independent yarn shops’ policies on sharing wifi passwords with customers, and allowing free use of the stores’ tablets or computers.

The point is: you can use your hobbies, outside interests, and experiences to give yourself an advantage over other freelancers when breaking into new markets. You can also mine those same talents to demonstrate your knowledge of related industries when approaching copywriting and corporate clients. It’s not that hard to find a hook once you start looking.

Fellow writers: How have you turned your passions into assignments?

 

 

 

 

Six Months into 2017

When you’re a freelancer, it never hurts to take stock of your business now and then. Some do it weekly, some monthly, some annually. How often you check your progress doesn’t really matter, as long as you do it now and then.

Some people track their income, how much they’ve invoiced in a given period, or how many new clients they’ve landed. Me? The bulk of my work involves writing articles, so I’ll be tallying my published work.

Here goes….

January:

  • “‘Nashville’ Comes Home (to some of us, anyway),” January 3, 2017, Tube Talk, Rock River Times
  • “2C Creative Leads ‘Nashville’ Home,” January 5, 2017 Promax BDA Brief
  • “TV’s New Favorite Family,” January 11, 2017, Tube Talk, Rock River Times
  • “New and Improved,” January 31, 2017, Tube Talk, Rock River Times

February:

  • “Checkout Time at ‘Bates Motel,'” February 14, 2017, Tube Talk, Rock River Times
  • “Adam Levine’s Most Memorable Moments on ‘The Voice,’” February 10, 2017, Variety
  • “Alton Brown on Film,” February 22, 2017, Variety
  • “Message from Mars,” February 2017, emmy

March:

  • “A Pair of Very Different Cold Wars,” March 1, 2017, Tube Talk, Rock River Times
  • “Cooking Up Fun With Alton Brown,” March 21, 2017, Tube Talk, Rock River Times
  • “CableFax 100,” (multiple listings) Spring 2017, Cablefax: The Magazine

April: 

  • “The Doctor Is In,” April 12, 2017, Tube Talk, Rock River Times
  • “New York Women’s Impact Reports: Glenda Hersh, Casey Patterson, Catherine Kim,” April 18, 2017, Variety

May:

  • “The Handmaid’s Relevant Dystopia,” May 1, 2017, Tube Talk, Rock River Times
  • “Urban ONE: New Name, Bigger Business, May 11, 2017, Promax BDA Brief
  • “Time Travel Trickery,” May 17, 2017, Tube Talk, Rock River Times
  • “All-Access Artist” May 2017, emmy
  • “New, Minus the Views,” May 2017, emmy
  • “The Ever After,” May 2017, emmy
  • “That Sundance Esteem,” May 2017, emmy

June: 

  • “TruTV’s ‘Adam Ruins Everything’ Promotes Facts in the Age of Fakery,” June 6, 2017, Variety
  • “Adam Conover’s Top Five ‘Adam Ruins Everything’ Episodes,” June 6, 2017, Variety
  • “Summer Fun,” June 7, 2017, Tube Talk, Rock River Times
  • “Great British Baking Show,” June 14, 2017, Tube Talk, Rock River Times
  • “Short Form Content Attracts Big Interest From Production Houses,” June 16, 2017, Variety
  • “Emmys: It Takes a Village to Make Reality Competitions Pop,” June 19, 2017, Variety
  • “British Mysteries,” June 21, 2017, Tube Talk, Rock River Times
  • “Singing the Cues,” #1 June, 2017, emmy
  • “Elite Street,” #1 June 2017, emmy
  • “Nice Guise,” #1 June 2017, emmy
  • “Guts and Gory,” #1 June, 2017, emmy
  • “Class Mate,” #1 June 2017, emmy
  • “Top Shop,” #2 June 2017, emmy
  • “This Brother’s a Keeper,” #2 June 2017, emmy

While it looks like June is my busy month, my thoughtful emmy editors always assign for the two June issues well ahead of time.

For more information on these articles, and links as available, please check my clips page.

Click here to read my Rock River Times Tube Talk column.

Writers Deserve More than Minimum Wage, Not Less

You might be surprised by how many job listings on writer-centric websites still offer pay rates that fall way below minimum wage. It’s time writers began holding site managers accountable by pointing out any job listings they see that are clearly designed to exploit writers.

Writers Worth Month founder Lori Widmer has a regular feature on her Words on the Page blog, “This Job Not That Job,” which dissects exploitative job offers and suggests viable alternatives.

This year I decided to take that one step further and encourage fellow writers who see exploitative jobs ads on writing-related websites to ask those site owners to establish and adhere to their own minimum requirements for job listings.

You can read my guest post on Lori’s website.

Countdown to Writers Worth Month

I don’t even remember how it happened. I probably read about Writers Worth Day on LinkedIn or Twitter. But the moment I read those words something clicked. In addition to following Writers Worth creator Lori Widmer on social media, I became a regular reader of her amazing writing blog, Words on The Page.

By the next year I was badgering Lori, saying, “Writers are worth more than a day. How about Writers Worth Week?”

She bit. At some point she expanded it even further into what it is today: Writers Worth Month. (Yet some people still insist on calling it “May.”)

With another Writers Worth Month just around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to ask Lori about how the first Writers Worth Day came to be and how it has grown over the years. Here’s what she had to say.

When and why did you come up with the idea for Writers Worth Day?

It was really a theme of mine since my very first blog post. Every time I would look at job postings, it seemed the payments offered were getting more ridiculous. By 2008, I’d established a more proactive client process, and I wanted to help other writers find that same sweet spot. Too many times, we undervalue ourselves because we think we’ll lose the gig or the client. But that does nothing but keep us locked into lousy-paying jobs. We feel stuck, so we bemoan how “writing is dead” and other false claims because we just don’t know what else could be wrong. I wanted a day that said “I’m worth every penny I charge.” It was a day to embrace the value we bring to the job, and the need clients have of our skills.

What types of reactions have you received over the years—pro or con—from other writers about Writers Worth? Which reactions have surprised you the most?

I’ve had nothing but love come back to me over this. And honestly, it’s not me who should be getting the love. Every writer should be happy with themselves for the realization that they can do better, and for going out and doing it. I’m just the one who started complaining and getting pushy with the idea.

The reactions I’ve been most surprised by include yours, Paula. You’ve really embraced the concept and pushed me to extend this idea to an entire month. And it’s a much, much better way to spread awareness, so I thank you for that. One day is so easily missed (I miss International Freelancers Day nearly every year), but a month people notice (NanoWriMo is a perfect example).

Other reactions include thanks from writers who have applied what I’ve suggested and had success. That makes me feel good. Every writer who does better, who charges a fair rate for their work, makes us all stronger. Each one of us lends credibility to our profession, and the more of us taking it seriously and treating our businesses and ourselves with respect only helps to elevate the profession.

What are a couple things you’ve learned about worth from your guest bloggers or commenters in past Writers Worth celebrations?

I learned how many incredibly talented writers I know. We all learn from each other, and I’m no exception. Cathy Miller taught me how simple communications are often best with clients and colleagues. Jake Poinier convinced me that charging per project was much, much smarter than per hour. Eileen Coale taught me about “lumpy” mail. You taught me about letters of introduction. All of those things and others have elevated what I do, and sharing those ideas with readers have hopefully helped them, as well.

I also learned resilience. Nancy Oliver’s story was an inspiration. I learned what a strong woman she is. Her story shook me to my bone marrow – her husband dying suddenly in front of her – and her perseverance showed an inner strength that I think exists in us all. If you want to succeed badly enough, you find a way.

Writers offer a lot of worth to clients, editors, readers, even each other. What’s the one type of worth most writers fail to see they possess?

Confidence. I wrote about it recently. I see so many skilled writers hesitating. They have the tools, the techniques, but not the confidence to say “What the hell” and just try. I’ve also seen plenty of writers asking questions only to ask them again and again over the course of four or five years. They don’t act. Fear, I suspect, is why. Fear of failure holds too many people back, which is crazy when you realize that doing nothing is failure. Trying and failing is at least forward motion. 

And finally: Do you have any special plans for this year’s celebration?

This year I’m winging it. It’s what I’m doing in my career now, too. Instead of a focused theme, I’m mixing it up entirely – interviews, guest posts, lists, whatever comes to mind. I think holding to a theme is okay, but sometimes we learn so much more from varied content. At least that’s my perspective this year. Next year who knows? I’ll be in a different place, as will our profession and our attitudes.

 

Please be sure to check Lori’s blog, Words on the Page, throughout the month of May for insights and advice about Writers Worth from writers of all types. And don’t be afraid to join the conversation!

 

 

Specializing

Remember last week when I mentioned All Indie Writers founder Jenn Mattern?

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of All Indie Writers, Jenn decided to interview several long-time freelancers to find out how the freelance writing business has changed over the past five or ten years.

I’m fortunate to be one the freelance writing pros she asked to participate. Over the weekend I answered some of her detailed questions, and today she posted the results: Paula Hendrickson on Choosing Her Freelance Writing Specialty.

Not only do I hope you’ll take time to read my answers, I encourage you to read Jenn’s interviews with other writers and browse the site to uncover even more great writing advice.

 

 

A Community of Writers

Being part of a supportive community of full-time freelance writers is a wonderful thing. Not only are the other writers kind, funny, and insightful, they aren’t afraid to share their own challenges with others.

A couple weeks back one of those writers, Lori Widmer—creator of Writers Worth Month—was neck deep in deadlines and asked if I’d like to contribute a guest post to her Words On The Page blog. Of course I said yes. Her blog is one of a handful of writing blogs I read on a regular basis. Scroll through a few posts and you’ll see why. Lori has built a truly supportive community through her website and connects writers who might never have otherwise met.

My guest post, about the virtues of an occasional lazy day, can be found here.

One of the many wonderful and supportive writers I’ve met through Lori’s blog is Jenn Mattern, the brains behind another one of my favorite writing blogs, All Indie Writers. If there’s anything you want to learn about the business of writing, you can find it on Jenn’s blog.

As night owls, Jenn and I often get caught up in late night Twitter exchanges (frequently with the delightful Princess Jones, another person I probably wouldn’t have “met” if not for this generous community of writers). Last night our tweet fest was about music and confidence. It happened to fit well with a blog post Jenn was planning, so she asked if she could include part of our exchange. Another hard yes. (Modesty may have prevented her from including the bit where Princess and I were commenting on Jenn’s seemingly boundless energy.)

You can read Jenn’s post here.

With so many great, established writing blogs already out there, you can understand why I decided not to attempt a regular blog about writing. I’m content reading many of the existing blogs and contributing guest posts when asked.

If you’re a writer, do yourself a favor and check out Lori and Jenn’s blogs now.