Hear Melanie on other podcasts!

Melanie has appeared on several podcasts talking about being a freelance business owner, including providing writing and editing services to membership associations, particularly in health care. If you are interested in booking Melanie on your podcast, email her at melanie@meledits.com. 2022 Smart Habits for TranslatorsEpisode 61: Smart Habits for Drumming Up New Business with Melanie Padgett Powers 2021 The Content …

The Best—and Worst—Books I Read in 2020

Unlike a lot of people this year, my reading did not slow down because of the stress of 2020. In fact, I read 53 books this year, one more than my goal of 52. Plus, that is the most books I have read since I started keeping track a few years ago. What has been different about my reading life …

Thanksgiving Memories in Weird 2020

Thanksgiving is a strange day for me. It’s not sad per se, but I don’t worship it either. It lost its luster when I moved to D.C. in 2000 and chose to fly home only for Christmas rather than Thanksgiving. I couldn’t afford both at the time, and secular Christmas with my parents and brother was more meaningful. So, I …

Choose a Word of the Year

January 2020 As we headed into the new year, I had my word of the year all picked out. It came to me one day as I was thinking about last year’s word and what it meant to me. But after rereading James Clear’s book “Atomic Habits” to start off this new year, I suddenly realized my word was flawed …

Freelancer? It’s Not to Late to Get Your Flu Shot

I updated this post in January 2020. If you work for yourself, the flu vaccine may be the only thing standing between you and two to three weeks without pay. The flu is not a cold; you will be miserable. So, freelancers, please get your flu shot. Mid-winter is not too late to get your flu shot. The flu typically …

The Best—and Worst—Books I Read in 2019

I hit a book slump in February. Isn’t that the worst? I wanted to read, and yet every book I picked it up just wasn’t right for me, so I put it down. Or worse, I let it sit there for a week—a week of no reading—which delayed me trying the next book. Pick up, leave abandoned on my nightstand, …

#18: How to Set Higher Rates

Setting higher rates, better rates, and asking for more money takes confidence. There’s so much emotion and self-esteem wrapped up in what we charge. It’s often fear that keeps us from charging more. So I’m here to give you a pep talk and then explain why you should start creating project rates and stop offering an hourly rate. But, every …

#17: My Favorite Books of the Year So Far

It’s July Fourth—a great time for a little diversion from our regularly scheduled programming. This week I recommend my favorite books I’ve read so far this year. I’ve read 20 books as we hit the year’s halfway point, but my goal is 52, so I need to get a move on! Turns out, my personal favorite book genre is literary …

#15: 6 Tips to Get More Work during Slow Periods

Summer is here, summer is here! It’s my favorite time of the year, but for many people it’s the slowest time for their freelance business. It depends on the industry, but oftentimes your clients and potential clients are taking time off in the summer. The summer slowdown has begun for some of you. But even if summer isn’t your slowest …

#14: Freelancing with a Chronic Illness, with Christy Batta

Today’s guest is Christy Batta, a freelance graphic designer I know in real life. Christy works primarily with nonprofits, creating or freshening up their brands, designing logos or print materials, and developing event materials. Christy was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, or MS, when she was just 23. A few years ago, when people were debating health care in this country, …

#13: How to Set Better Goals for Your Business, with Andrena Sawyer

Today’s guest is Andrena Sawyer, president of P.E.R.K. Consulting, an advisory firm for small to mid-sized nonprofits and businesses. Andrena works actively to mobilize and empower others—and that is exactly what she does in this episode. Andrena walks us through how to set better goals for our business, using the SMART formula. But she goes deeper than that, providing brilliant …

#12: This Is a Smartphone & Social Media Intervention

This is a “tough love” episode. Many of us are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, distracted and too busy. I think a lot of that can be alleviated by decreasing your smartphone usage and fighting against social media and digital addictions. It’s time to take back our lives. It’s time to take control of our schedules. In this episode, I lead you …

#11: How to Find the Right Anchor Clients

I like the term anchor client because an anchor on a boat keeps you steady and secure and is something you can rely on. We should all have a couple of anchor clients that provide just that—security and a steady income. I aim to find anchor clients on social media and via email referrals, but I also spend a lot …

#10: Think Like a Marketer to Grow Your Business, with Megy Karydes

Today’s guest, Megy Karydes, lives in Chicago and has owned her communications and marketing consultant practice for the past 12 years. Megy is all about systems and structure. She is very disciplined about sticking to a set schedule throughout her work day. Megy uses systems like time tracking and knowing her peak productivity time to create this discipline—and it’s a …

#9: The Money Lessons I’ve Learned the Hard Way

What kind of money personality do you have? This is important to know as you handle your finances for your freelance business. DELIBERATE FREELANCER SHOW NOTES My budgeting goes all the way back to childhood and my $2 allowance. Hear about my huge money confession and tax mistake. I immediately implemented two things to prevent that mistake in the future: …

#8: 5 Ways to Make Your Clients’ Jobs Easier

Working at a content marketing agency for two years and now hiring subcontractors has helped me learn what freelancers can do to make their clients’ jobs easier. I learned what I DON’T want to do and what I COULD do to make myself stand out from the crowd. In this episode, I dive into five areas where any freelance business …

#7: Blogging and Tweeting to Build Your Business, with Michelle Garrett

Today’s guest, Michelle Garrett, has been a freelancer for 20 years. Michelle describes herself as being at the intersection of PR, content marketing and social media. She is a public relations consultant, content creator, blogger, speaker and freelance writer. She is also the host of the weekly tweet chat #FreelanceChat, which she launched in September 2018. Michelle has grown her …

#6: Make the Most of Conferences

Soon after I started my freelance business I quickly realized how much I loved going to conferences. It has become an investment in my business—a way for me to learn new skills, find clients, bond with fellow creative types and get inspired to try new things. I’m always invigorated after conferences, buzzing with fresh new ideas and excitement about things …

#5: Track Your Time for Better Efficiency

“Busyness is laziness.” Raise your hand if you reply “busy!” whenever someone asks how you are. Let’s get rid of that hectic, way too busy, frenzied feeling. Time tracking can help. Time tracking can show you how you’re spending your time and set you on a better course.    DELIBERATE FREELANCER SHOW NOTES 1:13Learn about the research that shows how being …

#4: Work Only with Nice Clients, with Jennifer Goforth Gregory

Today’s guest, Jennifer Goforth Gregory, is a six-figure freelance content marketing writer who has firmly embraced the business mindset. Jennifer, who wrote the very useful and praised book “The Freelance Content Marketing Writer,” will only work with clients she deems nice. And she trusts her gut to figure that out. She also looks at each potential client as a partnership …

Deliberate Freelancer Podcast Helps Freelancers Grow Their Businesses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:          Melanie Padgett Powers                        202-494-9194                        melanie@meledits.com Silver Spring, Maryland (March 26, 2019)—Melanie Padgett Powers, a freelance writer and editor in the Washington, D.C., area, launched the Deliberate Freelancer podcast this week. The new podcast is aimed at helping freelancers build a successful freelance business. Powers leans on her own extensive experience and of having built a …

#3: Host a Solo Business Retreat

Stop hustling. Stop flying by the seat of your pants. Host your own solo business retreat and take a step back to analyze your business and where you want to go—and how you can get there. SHOW NOTES 3:14Where to hold your business retreat. 4:26The supplies you need for a retreat. 5:13Why you need a retreat agenda. 5:40Six things you …

#2: Discover Your Unique Brilliance

You are uniquely brilliant. It’s time to laser in on that brilliance and make THAT the focus of your business. When my workshop coach drew a simple quadrant on a piece of paper, I changed a huge part of my business and began outsourcing parts of my life. SHOW NOTES 6:01How to use a simple quadrant on a piece of …

#1: Change Your Mindset: You Own a Freelance Business

I believe that freelancers can only succeed when you embrace a fundamental fact: You are a business owner. Stop thinking of yourself as “just” a freelancer. Say goodbye to the hustle and the feast-or-famine cycle. Instead, build a business.  SHOW NOTES 1:01The dream of being a freelancer vs. the reality. 3:29Four fundamental beliefs I have about being a freelancer. 4:20Learn …

What Is a Podcast?

As obsessed as I am with podcasts (including plans to create my own soon!), it turns out that many people don’t really understand what a podcast is. Even those who say they know what a podcast is have some misconceptions when pressed on the subject. In my quest to share the brilliance and beauty of podcasts with you, I provide …

Best Business Books and Business Podcasts in 2018

As I grow my business, my overarching goal is to be a go-to writer and editor for membership associations. To do this, I not only continue to work on my craft, but I focus on the business side of MelEdits. I’ve become a fan of good business books and business podcasts. I’ve discovered that many business books and podcasts can …

The Best—and Worst—Books I Read in 2018

I crave reading. I was the kid who read the back of the cereal box while eating breakfast. I spent so much time at the public library as a child that the librarians ignored the five-book maximum for me because they knew I’d be back a day or two later. But when I started MelEdits in 2013, my reading slipped …

How to Find a Freelancer Perfect for You

Every now and then I receive an email that goes something like this: “I’m looking to hire a freelance writer. What are your rates?” This is not the way to find a freelancer that will be a good fit for your organization. Finding the right freelancer means finding someone who will understand your goals, make your job easier and build …

How to Get the Most Out of AM&P’s Annual Meeting

It’s time for AM&P’s Annual Meeting! As a self-proclaimed conference junkie and longtime Association Media & Publishing (AM&P) member, I want to share a few things I’ve learned about what works when it comes to networking and professional development. Here are 6 tips to get the most out of your AM&P conference this week:     1. Follow the hashtag: …

5 Tips to Fight the Writing Procrastination Gremlins

For every 300-word blog entry or 2,000-word article they write, many writers spend a substantial part of that time doing everything they can to not write the story. I know, I know, shhhh! I’ve just blabbed a state secret among us writers. Writing may be something you have wanted to do since you started a class magazine in the sixth grade, wrote …

3 Tricks to Write Better Headlines

I still remember one of my favorite headlines with a chuckle: “Skywalkers in Korea Cross Han Solo.” I was enticed to click the head after spotting it while browsing a news site. The headline is so clever that it actually seems like a no-brainer to use. But remember, the editor was only crafting a headline about tightrope walkers and the …

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 …

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 four tips on how to self-edit. (By the way, this works for freelance writers …

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 …

Writers: Simple Ways to Make Your Editors Happy

When I was a managing editor of a magazine a few years ago, one of our regular writers submitted articles every issue without typing his byline at the top. That meant I had to do it myself, remembering how he spelled his name each time. I reminded him more than once to include his name, but he rarely did. I …

Common Mistakes Writers Make

Copy editors were more than a little stunned and outraged a few years ago 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 …

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 I Got to Know Myself Better—and Improved My Freelance Business

My Summer of Serendipity I am a questioner and a lifelong learner. This may not be surprising, as I started my career as a newspaper reporter. But I’ve come to realize that these aspects of my personality are beneficial to my new life as a small business owner and entrepreneur. I believe to be a successful freelancer or solopreneur, you need …

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 …

How to Boost Your Productivity and Focus

I’m obsessed with productivity. That doesn’t mean I’m as productive as I can be every day. But I do know what tends to work for me so I thought I’d share a couple of tips on how to boost your productivity and focus. Time Tracking When I worked at a content marketing agency for two years, I had to track …

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 …

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 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 …

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 …

Nix the Jargon and Other Lessons from #AMP17

Each year at the Association Media & Publishing Annual Meeting, I learn a few new tips or am reminded of a writing, editing or content creation best practice that I should be implementing. #AMP17 was full of great lessons, so I’ve Storified a few of them for you to keep in mind. And I’m proud to say that I was …

Try Not to Insult Your Readers

Columbia Journalism Review staff shared their disappointment with the Washington Post’s effort to reach millennial women through its new publication The Lily. The Lily takes existing Washington Post content, shortens it, rewrites it and posts it on Medium.com and social media, not on the Post site. (The Lily also sends an e-newsletter twice a week, which I have subscribed to.) …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …