Small Staff? Here’s How to Edit Your Own Work

I’ve been there, association friends: a staff of one, just you as the editor and writer for your association publication, relying on freelancers to do the rest of the work. So how do you edit your own work and continue to improve your writing? Here are a four tips on how to self-edit. (By the way, this works for freelance …

How to Make It As a Freelance Writer: Lessons from ASJA 2017

Spend five minutes talking with me about my freelance writing and editing career and you realize I emphasize that I own a business. Want to make it as a freelance writer? Don’t think of yourself as “just” a freelance writer; you are a business owner. One of the many reasons I love attending the American Society of Journalists and Authors …

3 Content Lessons from ASAE’s Marketing, Membership and Communications Conference

Most of my writing is magazine features for membership associations. So what better conference for me to attend than the two-day ASAE Marketing, Membership and Communications Conference last week in DC? Here are three content lessons—plus a bonus one—from that smart conference: 1. Kill the association magazine flipbooks. I’ve always hated the idea that you can take a print publication …

How to Involve Members in Content Creation: Lessons from a Dutch News Organization

A Dutch news site provides lessons on how membership associations can involve readers in content creation. De Correspondent was built on the idea that readers are “contributing experts.” “Everyone knows something about a specific topic … and we feel it’s the responsibility of journalists to get people to share that knowledge because it leads to more sources and better-informed journalism,” publisher …

AP and Chicago Manual of Style Approve ‘Singular They’

It’s time to embrace the singular they, membership associations. I’ve been calling for the acceptance of “singular they” since I attended my first American Copy Editors Society (ACES) conference in 2015. In that first year, I quickly learned that the most esteemed copy editors are not sticklers for arbitrary rules and instead embrace the changing use of language. While style …

How to Write a Seductive Lede

You’re making me nervous. You clicked on this link expecting to learn something or to perhaps be entertained. I could boldly hope that you may even retweet or bookmark this article. But a lot of that depends on my lede. Here’s hoping it worked. An article lede can stop a person in his tracks—both the writer who is terrified to …

7 Reasons You Should Hire a Journalist for Content Marketing

I started my career as a newspaper reporter, but I’ve spent the past 15 years creating membership association publications, custom media and content marketing. And the skills I learned in journalism school and as a reporter have been invaluable. Here are seven reasons you should hire a journalist for your content marketing. We are storytellers. Let’s face it, the vast …

Why You Need to Cultivate a Personal Brand

What comes to mind when you hear the name Jon Stewart? Richard Branson? Malcolm Gladwell? Grammar Girl? All of these people have a specific personal brand, a way others think of them, a way to market themselves to the world. Those of us who want to be leaders in our career or industry — whether you’re an employee or a …

How to Conquer the Writing Process

The interesting part about writing is that much of the “writing” process involves staring at a blank document on the computer screen. I rock back in my chair, I play with my hair, I stretch out my back. But all the while, the ideas are churning in my head. But whether the ideas are flowing or I have writer’s block, I just …

How You Can Create Your Own Solo Business Retreat

After my first year in business as MelEdits, I held a two-day company retreat. I was the only participant. And I didn’t leave my home office. It was my very own solo business retreat. I now carve out at least one day every 6-12 months to reevaluate my business. Solo business owners and freelance writers are often so busy marketing …

How to Use Your Content to Improve SEO

My fave Content Marketing World speaker in 2016, Andy Crestodina, provided extremely smart and helpful tips during a #ContentChat in September. I Storified it as a resource for my own MelEdits marketing and thought I’d share it with you. These tips are great whether you’re a small business owner, freelance writer or content marketer. Check it out: How to Use Your …

My Interview for a Book on How to Make $100,000 as a Freelance Writer

I believe independent and freelance writers can build a successful career—and that includes financial success. But, there are several things you have to do and believe first. First and foremost, you are a business, not “just” a freelancer. I had the amazing opportunity to provide other writers tips on building a successful freelance business for the ebook, “The Ultimate Guide …

Think Like a Business: My Tips from My Very-First Podcast

In the summer of 2016, I had the pleasure of talking to fellow writer Daniel Ford of Writer’s Bone for my very-first podcast. It took awhile to gather my nerves to make this event actually happen. As I try to convince Daniel in the podcast, I truly am an introvert. Plus, being on “radio,” so to speak, and being the …

Freelancer? Please Get Your Flu Shot

Remember when you were an employee with paid sick days? You may have felt the hint of a mild cold or sinus infection and suddenly, “That’s it! I’m calling in sick.” You’d spend the day savoring your alone time and getting sucked into online videos or watching bad daytime talk shows. But now that you’re a freelancer or independent contractor, …

What I Learned from Writers and Editors at #ASJA2015

I still remember the exhilaration and pride I felt the first time I landed a story on the cover of The Indianapolis Star newspaper when I was a college intern. Since then, I’ve built a rewarding career—and now a successful business—writing and editing primarily for membership associations and custom media publications. But a part of me wants to challenge myself …

Networking Is Not a Dirty Word

I confess: I was once one of those people who thought the evil word “networking” meant standing awkwardly at cocktail parties, making boring, polite conversation. It seemed so stilted and fake. But if that’s what networking means to you, you’re doing it wrong. Networking is not a dirty word. It can be fun, social and provide you opportunities in your …

What I’m Thankful for on Social Media

As I give thanks for my wonderful and supportive husband, family and friends, and for my health, happiness and successful first year in business, I also want to give thanks for something not as important in life but that I deal with every day. I spend large chunks of my day on social media, managing sites for clients and my …

Why I Don’t Introduce Myself as a Freelancer

When an electrician arrives at your house to install new wiring, does he introduce himself as a “freelance electrician”? When you visit the neighborhood’s new coffee shop, does the owner say she’s a “freelance coffee roaster”? When I introduce myself, I tell people I own my own business and that I offer writing, editing and social media. I rarely introduce myself …

Three Ways to Get More Freelance Clients

When I was a newspaper reporter, ideas for articles were always popping into my head. Stories were all around me. An acquaintance mentioned her niece was joining the Peace Corps. I was told about a long-standing small business shuttering its doors. Someone mentioned two high school valedictorians lived in the same house — 30 years apart. “Oooh, that’s a story idea! …

Diversify your Client Income: My Interview in Fast Company

Forgive me for beginning with a cliché: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. That should be the mantra of every freelancer. I’m fortunate that my business plan focuses on three services: editing, writing and social media content strategy. This helps ensure that no single client of mine provides the majority of my paycheck. So if a magazine is …

Tips from Association Media & Publishing Annual Meeting 2014, #amp14

Trying to wrap my head around all the tips and key messages I took away from Association Media & Publishing’s Annual Conference, May 19–21, 2014, will take awhile, but I certainly made the most of the event. I was excited to be a first-time member of the Annual Meeting Committee, which meant I (and several others) advocated for more social media, …

Common Mistakes Writers Make

Copy editors were more than a little stunned and outraged recently when the Associated Press casually mentioned at the American Copy Editors Society conference that using “over” instead of “more than” in front of a number was now acceptable. It’s a well-established AP rule that you change “There were over 200 participants” to “There were more than 200 participants.” But …

Take Your Association Blog to the Next Level

Blogging enthusiasts turned out recently for an Association Media & Publishing Lunch and Learn to learn how to take their association blog to the next level. I’m proud to say I recruited the panelists and organized this successful Lunch & Learn. See some of their expert tips here: Bedazzle Them With Your Blog. 

How to Stop the Social Media Procrastination Monster

I may not have monsters lurking under my bed, but they’re calling to me from my laptop and my smartphone. Damn you, social media. Using social media for work makes it easy to justify starting your day browsing Facebook and Twitter, but minutes can easily turn into hours until you realize you’re clicking on Buzzfeed articles about annoying airline passengers …

3 Ways to Use Twitter to Find Clients

Twitter can be addictive for many of us, whether we’re communicating with like-minded people about our professions or politics—or we’re group-watching “The Walking Dead.” But many others just don’t see the appeal or return on investment. I’m here to show both groups three ways you can find new clients by using Twitter effectively. 1. Buy promoted tweets.  A few weeks …

Don’t Settle for ‘Good Enough’ in Your Marketing Plan

Are you struggling with how to market your content or implement a full-scale marketing campaign? I recently took part in a roundtable discussion about developing a marketing strategy for an association communications campaign and was invited to write about it for  Association Media & Publishing. Here’s what I learned: Marketing: Get Beyond ‘Good Enough’.

Quit Daydreaming and Focus on Your Website

That one big idea—the one that will bring the masses to your website overnight and lead to more Twitter followers than Lady Gaga sees is not worth waiting for. I’m all for brainstorming and trying big new  ideas, but if you really want to improve your pageviews and build community online you should place your focus on the series of small …

3 Social Media Lessons from Digital East 2013

A good conference jump-starts your creativity, offers several networking opportunities and provides numerous take-away lessons. That’s what I found at Digital East 2013 (@DigitalEast) a few weeks ago just outside Washington, DC. With that in mind, I offer you my top take-aways from Digital East, as well as recommendations for a few social media experts you should be following on …