Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Press Release Writing Service

Firework Writing is excited to launch a new, specialized press release writing service. For an affordable fee, Firework Writing will craft a press release from start to finish that will help your business garner the attention of target audiences.

For more information on this new press release writing service, visit Firework Writing online or contact Ashley Sweren

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Interested in a New Press Release Writing Service?

Firework Writing is considering offering a new flat-fee press release writing service. If this interests you, please visit this online survey and provide your feedback:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Copyediting Tips

Like a shiny manicure or a freshly pressed shirt, thorough copyediting gives documents the extra touch that ensures they look professional and put-together. Here are my top copyediting tips to help make your documents look their best.

Use Spellcheck, But Don’t Rely on It

Spellcheck is a great tool that can save you from lots of embarrassing mistakes. So, by all means, turn it on! I like mine to check spelling while I type, so I don’t forget to run it at the end. I also like to set my spellcheck to look for grammar mistakes. There are many options when customizing your grammar settings in Microsoft Word. I have mine set for things I sometimes miss, like passive voice and split infinitives.

Show Formatting Marks

People are often wowed by my ability to find extra spaces after a period or fix that annoying thing when your document is exactly one page, but for some reason there’s a second blank page hanging off the end. The fact is, it’s easy when you show formatting marks in your document. All you need to do is click the button on your Home menu in Word that looks like a backwards “P” (the paragraph symbol). Now you’ll be able to easily spot any errant formatting in your documents.

Print It Out

When I’m reviewing a document, I do so on the computer screen as well as on a hard copy. For whatever reason, it’s easier for me to pick out some errors on a hard copy. 

Review Documents More Than Once

In line with my last tip, when I’m editing something, I usually read it through three times. The first time with a fine-tooth comb, the second time for overall flow and the third time on a hard copy to be sure I didn’t miss anything.

Get a Second Set of Eyes

Everyone can benefit from having another person review his or her work. Sometimes, when you know what something is supposed to say, you might miss what it actually does say. An outside party can catch errors you don’t as well as provide input on overall readability.

By taking the extra time to thoroughly review your work and to employ some helpful tools, these copyediting tips will have your documents looking sharp. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tips for Going Freelance: What I’ve Learned as a Freelance Writer

March marks two years since I made the exhilarating leap to 100 percent freelance employment. The change has been scary, but also immensely rewarding. I’ve been reflecting a bit on what I’ve learned over my time as a freelance writer, and what I wish I knew before I made this move.

The work cycle of a freelance writer is truly feast or famine. It seems like most of the time I’m either overwhelmed with too much work, or I have nothing at all. I’ve tried to appreciate both for what they offer – the brief elimination of financial worry in the case of too much work, and a chance to catch up on nagging to-dos and enjoy a little down time when work is slow. I’ve read numerous articles that advise freelance writers to market their services when they are busy rather than when they need work to ensure a more steady flow. This is something I need to work on.

Know when to say goodbye to a client. In my early freelance experience, I took almost every job I was offered. This included projects that did not really align with the direction I wanted to take my career and others with laughable pay rates. Taking whatever I could get was essential to getting established, but there came a time when I realized these projects were holding me back from getting to where I want to go. It took a huge leap of faith to leave these projects behind, hoping I could apply the time they freed up to finding more fulfilling work. Somehow, it’s worked out for me.

No one is going to protect your personal time but you. I’ve tried to be upfront with all my clients regarding my personal situation – My young son goes to school a few days a week. I work during that time and then in the evening after he’s asleep. Sometimes, if necessary, I will wake up before 6 a.m. to get in an hour of work. But I get requests for “urgent” work every day (including weekends) and at all hours. At first, I would drop everything to bow to these demands. But I am learning that this just puts me on a hamster wheel of constant last-minute work. Strict “office hours” don’t work for me, but I try to check email a few set times a day and once in the evening. I took email off my smartphone entirely to avoid temptation. If I have proper notice, I can absolutely get childcare help and make time for more work, but I had to stop the madness of constant “urgency.” I’ve also asked clients not to text me. This helps me keep my work and personal lives separate.

Becoming a freelance writer is the best decision I’ve made for both my personal life and my career. I’m excited to see what kinds of lessons I’ll learn over the coming years. 

Any other freelancers have hard-learned lessons to share? I'd love to hear in a comment. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Common PowerPoint Mistakes

I've been trudging through the Web, looking for examples of stylish PowerPoint templates. Haven't found a lot of good ones, but I did find this funny routine from comic Don McMillan. Enjoy!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Organizational Tips for Freelance Writing and Editing Businesses

I think I’m like most people in that the New Year brings on a strong urge for organization. My office is very small, so I don’t have room for any fancy organizational systems. But here’s a list of a few things I currently do to help my freelance writing and editing business stay organized.

File Dates and Names

I don’t have space to save hard copies of projects, so they are all stored digitally. I create folders for each of my clients. Then within those folders, I store projects by date. For example, when a client sent me a press release to edit this morning, I saved it as “1.11_Press Release Name.” I tend to keep the “Press Release Name” area as the client wrote it to avoid confusion.

When a new year starts, I take all of my client folders from the previous year and move them to a folder named for the year. Having things organized this way really helps me find older documents quickly.

Time Tracking

I know it sounds like I live in the dark ages, but I prefer to track my time on paper. I am partial to these date books from Paper Source, and I use these cute paperclips to hold my page. I write all my obligations and appointments in mine, as well as the time I work each day and for which client. I highlight my work hours in orange so they’re easy to find and add up at the end of the month when I do my invoicing.

Paper Storage

I try to hold on to as little paper as possible, but for things I can’t throw away, like contracts or bound corporate style guides, these FLYT cardboard magazine holders from Ikea fit perfectly in my desk’s cabinet. I like to buy colorful or patterned folders to organize my papers – they make filing a little less dull!

Do you have a resolution to be more organized in 2013? Do you have any tips for keeping your small business organized? Let me know in a comment – I want to keep my work super-organized this year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Best Books I Read in 2012

I recently saw that the “Fifty Shades” trilogy ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 3 on Amazon’s best-seller list for 2012. While this isn’t a surprise, it still bugs me. I read the first book and wasn’t impressed. I thought the plot was boring and the writing was dim.

It’s great that “Fifty Shades” got people interested in reading who ordinarily wouldn’t have picked up a book in their spare time. I just wish the book they picked up was something better. So, in case you’re looking for something new to read that isn’t so “shady,” here are my favorites of the books I read in 2012.

A sad, sad story that is beautifully written. Smart and touching, it tells the story of a teenage girl living with cancer. Don’t let the “young adult” label fool you – This book is has serious depth.

I read “Gone Girl” this summer and could not put it down. Afterward, I read Gillian Flynn’s previous two novels, “Dark Places” and “Sharp Objects.” While I liked them all, I give “Dark Places” the edge for its intricately woven storyline and shocker of an ending.

“Rules of Civility” by Amor Towles
This book makes you feel like you’ve entered a black and white movie with its snappy narrative and rich details. It follows a young woman and a cast of supporting characters as they make their way through 1930s Manhattan. 

What were your favorites this year?