Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ten Items for the Writers Backpack

Writers on the go need a few essentials.
Online article writing can be done anywhere with the right tools. Writers never know where they will be when the next idea or opportunity strikes. Work at home sometimes becomes work on the road. I find it useful to keep a writer's backpack, which I take with me just about everywhere I go. Here are ten things that might be included in a writer's backpack and why.
Notebook computer

If you have one of these, it's a handy little addition to a writers backpack. Notebook computers are a lot easier to lug around than a full size laptop. Online article writers get used to writing with a keyboard. It's just faster and more efficient. You don't have to write everything twice if your notebook is not your main computer. Just put your field work on a flash drive.


Notepad and pen

If you don't have a regular laptop or a mini, a pen and paper is the next best thing. When you're out and about, you can jot down quick article ideas or even make outlines for articles. On Saturdays, I ride along with my plumber boyfriend. While he's in a customer's home, I'm outside jotting down ideas, writing, editing and making outlines for online articles.


Most online article writers place pictures on their published work. Some even post slide shows and videos of places they have visited to give their readers a descriptive pictorial. One of the best work at home strategies for the on the road writer, is to pack a camera with extra batteries or a cell phone with a good camera. Photo opportunities are often unplanned, so make like a boy scout and be prepared.

Cell phone

Having a cell phone in your writers backpack serves a multitude of purposes. In addition to using it for a camera, it can also be used as a voice recorder or to take notes. Those GPS systems come in handy when you're hunting down leads. Use this work at home tool to let loved ones know you'll be late due to a story that came up. Of course, they're great for emergencies too.

First aid kit

Having a first aid kit in your writers backpack may sound like overkill but it really comes in handy. I've used mine on numerous occasions. Usually, that's after climbing a fence or walking through a field to get the perfect picture. You can buy tiny first aid kits for basic bandaging in the travel size aisle at supermarkets and big box stores.

Badge/Business cards

If you do the type of writing that requires access to off limits areas, your writers backpack better carry an ID badge as well as your personal identification. Sometimes a business card is helpful when conducting interviews as well. This work at home strategy allows entry and gives people a way to contact you with further information.

Comfortable Shoes

I can't tell you how many times this summer I've been traveling the back roads of Colorado in my sandals and wished I had a pair of comfortable shoes. As I said before, an online article writer never knows when a photo opportunity will present itself, or where they will have to go to get that photo. A pair of cheap tennis shoes will slide easily into the outer compartment of the writers backpack.

Change of clothes

It doesn't take much trouble to roll up a t-shirt, jeans and underclothes and tuck it into the bottom of your writers backpack. An extra change of clothes is nice to have with you, whether or not you're an online article writer. Sometimes I stray off the beaten path and find myself too far from my home office. It's sure nice to have a fresh change of clothes when forced to spend the night away on the road.

Grooming supplies

These come in handy for impromptu overnight stays as well. It's also nice to have supplies to fix windblown hair. Deodorant wears off and so does perfume. Packing grooming supplies in your writers backpack will have you looking and smelling your best at all times. You never know when an interview or story opportunity will come up while on the road.

Water and a snack

Online articles writers need to keep hydrated and energized when a story takes them away from their home office. Most backpacks have a spot for a water bottle and a snack or two. Why not tuck them in there just in case? You might decide to take a nature walk to capture some interesting photos. This work at home strategy will give you the energy you need for any on the road assignment.

Portions of this article were previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Article maintenance tips

Edit till your eyes hurt!
If you're new to online article writing, you may not be aware that the real work begins after you write your article. Article maintenance has many components, not the least of which is editing. You will also need to decide where to place your article and how to categorize it. All these thing will determine the success of your article. Lastly, you must promote your article and link to it from other websites. This is how your article gains popularity on the web. Why do you want your article to be popular? So it will get page views, of course. Unless you have a problem with making money.


Breathe a sigh of relief. Your article is done. You may think it's perfect. It probably isn't. That's where the phrase first draft comes from. All writers have an editor, and for good reason. As an online article writer, chances are, you will have to be both writer and editor. Go over your article with a fine tooth comb. Naturally, you will have to check spelling, grammar and word usage. You should also be sure your title fits your article and that you have stayed on track. Does your article say what you wanted it to? Is it easy to read? Does it make sense? Would you enjoy reading it?


Now that you have the final draft, where are you going to place your article? If you write for several websites or clients, think about where it would get the most traffic. If it's an assignment, check to see it meets the specifications set forth. If not, you can either re-write it, or place it elsewhere. Remember, until you submit your article, it's yours to do with as you please. This fact may come in handy, if you've departed from the assigned subject matter altogether.


Now that you know what venue you have chosen to place your article with, you may also have to choose a category. Some websites allow you to submit an article under more than one. You will have to think about which category your reader will look under for this information. If your article is about curing your dogs fleas with apple cider vinegar, it might fit under pets, alternative medicine or both. Choosing more than one category will make your article visible to more people.


Most online article writers use social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter to promote their articles. You will need to have a page on as many social network venues as possible in order to get the most from article promotion. Facebook has a cool option for making your article post visible to all Facebook users. This can help widen your audience beyond your social network circle. As you become more experienced at promotion, you will learn many other tricks like this one, to further your writing career. For instance, you should never stop promoting your articles, no matter how long ago they were written. You never know who might have missed them the first time.


I will close by mentioning one highly valuable technique for promoting your article. Online article writers call this method backlinking. The idea is to link to your article from as many venues and websites as possible. This gets the attention of search engines. It makes your article look like a hot property. You can do this through friends, your own websites, or other venues you write for. Just make sure it's not against the rules of the other sites. So, you see, the real work in online article writing begins after the article is written. Article maintenance makes a huge difference in your success.

This article was previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.

Balancing homeschool and writing

Give instruction, then write while your child completes assignments.
Several online article writers I know chose this career partially so they could homeschool their children and still earn a decent living. Balancing homeschool and writing, while excelling at both is no easy task. Here's a few tips I learned when my daughter was homeschooling her kids at my house.

Hand out assignments - Write
Online article writers may find balancing homeschool and writing easier by using worksheets and independent assignments. There are many assignments that are simply practice of lessons learned. Worksheets involving basic math, reading and writing skills can be done independently by kids while the online article writer is working.

Older kids may be able to work on more advanced skills without a lot of supervision as well. When balancing homeschool and writing, it's best to explain the assignment when it's passed out. Make sure the child understands the assignment completely before going back to your writing.

Teach a lesson - Give assignment - Write

At some point there will be lessons that need to be taught. Homeschooling isn't just about handing out assignments and expecting kids to do them without knowing the subject matter. When exploring new areas of study, you will have to teach a lesson before handing out assignments. Once children have a good grasp of the material and are able to move on to a related assignment or project, the online article writer can concentrate on their work.

Pass out a test - Write

Just like regular school, homeschoolers take tests to track their progress. For the online article writer, tests provide an opportunity to write in a relatively quiet atmosphere. Getting in the habit of testing all your homeschooled kids on the same day at the same time will help you keep a set schedule for writing. The more strict you are about your homeschool schedule, the easier it becomes to balance homeschool with writing. Remember to give direction as to what kids should do once the test is complete.

Online homeschooling

Online article writers can buy themselves a little more writing time by enrolling their children in online homeschool. This is not to say you are off the hook as far as teaching responsibilities are concerned. Your children will still need you to explain difficult lessons and teach them when they fall behind in certain areas. You will have to closely monitor their progress to see they are learning everything they are required to learn. Still, online lessons take a bit of the burden from online article writers who homeschool.

Night moves

Online article writers balancing home school with writing may use other helpful strategies. For instance you can write outlines at night. Finish the articles during the day. Some homeschoolers prefer to do this the other way around. This way they have more time for homeschool lessons during the day. It depends on what works best for each individual family. You can also write during recess. Writing while kids are eating lunch makes good use of time. Balancing homeschool with online article writing is a matter of doing what works best for you and your children.

This article was previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.

Putting rewrites on the back burner

Save those re-writes for filler in writer's block moments.
Just the other day, I was thinking how tired I am of publishing rewrites from closed venues and how much I am looking forward to all those being done. For some reason, my little ABC order brain was blocking me from moving on. Then, I realized a few things that made me feel that putting rewrites on the back burner is not only OK, it's imperative.

I don't do well with “have to's.”

Even when I dictate those “have to's” to myself, I am discouraged by them. They slow me down. They are uninspiring. They stifle my creativity. They mess with the natural flow of my thought processes. In short, anything I have to do is an admittedly ironic hindrance to getting it done.

They're not going anywhere.

Those articles are just sitting in my queue, taking up space and that bothers my organized side a bit. Still, it took me years to write them, so what makes me think I can get them all rewritten to suit other venues in a matter of months? It won't hurt them to sit there until the mood strikes me. They're just articles. They don't have feelings. LOL

There's no guarantee that my best sellers will sell well again.

Like many other writers who have been the victim of site closings, I have some articles that made me consistent money in page views on a regular basis. I was having a real hard time scrambling to make sure that at least those best sellers were utilized elsewhere. Surprise! Some of the best articles I had on closed properties are doing terribly on new venues. So, why am I in such a hurry? I need to concentrate on moving forward.

Nobody enjoys reading old news.

The news in some of my old articles is out-dated. Some of the subject matter is too. Plus, who wants to read the same article twice? I'm sure that my readers would appreciate me producing more newer, relevant articles instead. Oh, I'll throw a few oldies in here and there. But, all in all, piquing the interest of my readers usually entails providing new information, thoughts and tips. While those old articles are great as jumping off points, many of them just don't stand the test of time without a ton of revision.

Life stages

I'm in a stage of life where I am re-evaluating everything I do to make life more enjoyable. Call it a mid-life crisis if you will. Personally, though, I look at it as living life the way I should have been all along. My writing is a big part of my life. Why shouldn't I do everything I can to make it more enjoyable for both myself and my readers? And sure, rewrites are easier than new articles. But if they don't pique my interest or that of my readers, why not time them so they do instead of rushing to get them done? Did you hear that? That was the sound of a brick hitting my head. Duh. Moving forward is always better than dwelling on the past.

Tips for ill or handicapped writers

Old school writer's wheelchair.
There are a large number of online article writers who chose their career path due to a handicap or illness. Writing articles online can be worked around the schedules of ill or disabled individuals. It provides a way for elderly, disabled or handicapped individuals to earn a living. The online writing community also provides a way for the home bound to socialize. Writing with an illness or handicap can present some difficulties. Here are some work at home strategies that may help.
Give yourself regular breaks

Online article writers who are home bound due to an illness or handicap may not always have the stamina of other writers. Sitting at the computer may be tiring without frequent breaks. If you are an online article writer who has been struck with an illness, you may need to take breaks more frequently than you used to. It's alright to take breaks when needed. Treating yourself well is not a sign of weakness.

Fidget a bit

Sitting at the computer all day can be hazardous to even the healthiest of writers. If you are home bound, be sure to exercise while at your desk. Simple things like moving your feet and having a long stretch can help with circulation and dexterity. It's OK to fidget a bit or get up and walk every few minutes if you are able while writing.

Put your feet up

All online article writers should make this a regular practice. When sitting in a typical office chair, fluid can build up in your legs. Those who sit for a living are also more prone to blood clots. When coupled with certain illnesses and handicaps, this can be a double threat to your health. So be sure to put your feet up while writing as a life saving work at home strategy.

Watch out for snack temptations

The sedentary work day of an online article writer can lead to weight gain for those who don't watch what they eat. Snack on fruits and vegetables instead of high calorie junk food when you work at home. Most diseases and conditions worsen when you are overweight. Even if you are not ill or handicapped, watching out for snack temptations is vital to your health.

Stay hydrated and don't wait to medicate

It's easy to get carried away while writing and forget to stay hydrated or take your medications on time. Those who are ill may need more water than the average individual. Avoid the temptation to go past your medication time in order to finish up an article in the works. Keeping medication and water close at hand while writing is of utmost importance for online article writers battling an illness or handicap.

Keep reasonable work hours

Online article writers who are ill or handicapped may need to work shorter hours than those who are healthy. Once again, you should not look at this as a character flaw. Everyone works according to their own set of strengths and limitations. Knowing and respecting your own capabilities is a strength, rather than a weakness.

This article was previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.

Take writing advice from the opposition

Hanging with a different flock can open your eyes.
Online article writers should not only anticipate opposition, they should embrace it and learn from it. Some of the best writing advice I have ever received has come from people with different points of view. We all have belief systems we get stuck in from time to time (or all the time). Taking advice from the opposition can pull us out of that rut.
Birds of a Feather

Rather than hanging with the same old crowd, why not branch out a bit? If you're a serious bookworm, make some funny friends. Are you perpetually positive? Try hanging out with someone depressed and surly. Surround yourself with people from all backgrounds and walks of life. Taking advice from the opposition might bring up some suggestions you hadn't thought of. Online article writers keep their ideas fresh and varied by having diverse friendships.

Take Advice from Strangers

Want a really different form of advice? Try asking people you have never met. How do you do this? Well, it's pretty simple for online article writers. You spend your whole day on the web. How about a post on Facebook or Twitter? Your fellow writers are usually willing to offer their opinions. Maybe someone with an opposing viewpoint will see your post as well. I get some of the best ideas from people I've never met who see thing differently than I do.

Take Advice from 'Winners'

Instead of envying successful online article writers, learn from them. Don't be too proud to admit they may know something you don't. Sometimes the best advice comes from writers you have absolutely nothing in common with. They might give you a different angle or just a new way of getting things done more efficiently. Taking advice from the opposition sometimes means swallowing your pride for the sake of self improvement.

Take Advice from 'Losers'

Does this sound like bad advice to you? Think again. How do we learn best in life? By falling down, right? Sometimes losers are the real winners. Everyone falls down occasionally. Everyone makes mistakes. Almost everyone learns from those mistakes too. Online article writers who stick with it and turn themselves around might have a thing or two to teach you about the pitfalls of your chosen career. So go ahead and take advice from the opposition. They just might teach you a thing or two about online article writing.

This article was previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.

Online Article Writers Tips - Avoid Stereotyping

How do you see yourself as a writer?
What do I mean by avoiding stereotyping in online article writing? How can this widen your writing opportunities? Stereotyping comes in many forms. It could be the way you categorize yourself. Maybe it's the type of article you choose to write. Labeling your audience or your subject matter can effect your diversity as well. So, when I say, "Avoid stereotyping to widen your writing opportunities," it's an all encompassing statement.
Are you stereotyping yourself?

It's human nature to categorize. We put a name on things to make them real. Sometimes we're even guilty of naming ourselves. Learning and growing as a writer necessitates being able to reinvent yourself and change with the times. Getting stuck in the same groove may mean you just go around in circles, never really getting anywhere.

Are your articles diverse?

It's one thing to have a niche and another thing to fall into a habitual writing pattern. Stereotyping your articles can lead to readers losing interest in what you have to say. Not only that, it limits your writing opportunities in a big way. If you only write on one topic, new clients have no way of knowing how diverse you can be.

Do you always write for the same audience?

Stereotyping your audience hinders your continued success. How successful are companies who only cater to their regular customer base? To put it bluntly, eventually those customers either lose interest or pass away. In order to be a successful online article writer you must write for a diverse audience and continually bring in new customers.

Is your subject viewpoint slanted?

It's OK to be opinionated in online article writing. How do you express that opinion? If your entire article is a jaded view of your subject or main character it only serves to make you look foolish. On the other hand, if you present your article as a factual piece, interject your opinion at the end and clearly mark it as commentary, the article appeals to people with all different viewpoints.

Learning as you go nixes stereotyping.

If you are continually learning from your mistakes, you keep an open mind. Your articles will reflect that growth and maturity. On the other hand, if you stubbornly jam biased opinions down the throats of your readers, they may soon tire of your writing. I know my early articles clearly show me as a different type of person, because I was. Now that I've learned from my earlier mistakes, my writing is constantly changing. Now that I know to avoid stereotyping for continued growth, my transition will be smoother.

Portions of this article were originally published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.