Anna's Alcove

Let's do life together!

Tag: words

What is your niche?

When you want to write for a website or guest blog, or even when you manage a website of your own, you need to have what is called a “niche.”

“What is a ‘niche,’?” you may ask.

The definition in the dictionary is as follows:

1. a shallow recess, especially one in a wall to display a statue or other ornament.
2. place or position (something) in a niche.

Ok, so to put something on display is kind of like showcasing what you know (so to speak). When a person knows a lot about a certain topic and is passionate about it (or at least very interested in learning more about it), they usually try to find a way to share it with the world.

When I started my blog for an editorial college class, I wasn’t sure how or when I would use it in the future. But then I started posting the articles I wrote as they were published in the school newspaper and moved on to writing about whatever came to mind, whether it be biblical, book-based or whatever inspired me to write.

That seemed to work pretty well at the time and helped to boost my readership as posts were published month to month.

Now comes the tricky part. I want to get into freelance writing, but most websites that are looking for guest bloggers/writers want us to declare a particular niche, a certain topic that we’re specialized in.

My husband sent me an article titled “The Surprising Benefits (and Pitfalls) of Being a Jack-of-All-Trades,” which talks about those of us who are interested and knowledgable about a variety of topics.

What was the solution?

“Take your time and pick a couple things to focus on.”

Just because you’re interested in a number of topics and activities doesn’t mean you can become a short-term specialist in that area. Pick a topic and start researching. Make that your hobby for several weeks or a couple months and see what you can learn.

DSCN3678Do you enjoy food? Then cook, take photographs, jot down notes of the things you changed in the recipe and write about it! Are you into photography? Then go out into the world and snap some pictures, research terms like “aperture” and “depth of field” and post it online with a short (or long) explanation about what you did for each picture. Enjoy playing with kids? Then write some tips about what you do to keep them entertained, healthy snacks that they’ll enjoy and educational games that enhance their thinking process.

There’s a world of opportunity out there waiting to be studied! The only thing that will make it stand out from similar posts on the Internet is by making it your own. No one can think like you do, see the world like you do, crack jokes like you do or explain an interest like you do.

I encourage you (and myself) to start becoming a short-term specialist in one of the many areas that catch your interest 🙂 Who knows… you may discover something you just can’t get enough of!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

5 ways to hone your writing skills

Freelance writer. Freelance photographer.

Sounds so professional, right?

But how does one go about becoming either one of those?

I did a little poking around the Internet this past week and came across a website called Innovative Ink, created by Elna, another beginner freelance writer, and found a series she wrote called “Freelance Writing Jobs for Newbies.” There was a number of valuable details about honing your skills as a writer, getting your name out there, landing a client, determining your rates and writing a contract.

Here are some of the points that caught my attention:

1. Portfolio

Many journalism students are strongly encouraged to keep everything they write throughout their college career, no matter how big or small it may be. Why? Because it can be added to their portfolio. Everything you write is a sample of what you can do.

DSCN2538

As a college student, I was a reporter for the school paper and kept PDFs of every piece I wrote. Which was great, but I graduated from college three years ago and haven’t really written an article since then. I had dealt with plenty of online briefs and press releases during my employment at The Morning Call in Allentown, but I have nothing to show for it except for my knowledge and experience.

So how do you keep building your portfolio?

2. Blogging

Why blog? Because it’s a way to determine where you fit in the interwebs. What is your niche? What are you passionate about? What inspires you to write? It took me a while to figure that one out, but soon I would hear a quote or a song or snap a picture of a breathtaking view and suddenly I was inspired to write a 6 paragraph or longer blog post in under an hour. Anything you write can be used in your portfolio, whether it be professional writing or for fun. So, if you’re not in school or don’t write something new every day for work, do it on your down time in the evenings or on the weekends at home.

Which brings me to my next point…

3. Write Daily

This is very important. If writers make it a point to write something every day – a paragraph, their rambling thoughts, a letter – it’s almost guaranteed that their writing will improve and they’ll be able to figure out what their niche is as a writer. Do you have an interest? Write about it. Do you like to cook or bake? Write about it. How about that crazy awesome book series you just finished? Write about it! (just don’t give away the ending)

4. Guest blogging

This is similar to the second point, but the difference is that it’s for another person, not for yourself. I’ve always wondered how to get into writing on another blog. When I started researching how to become a freelance writer, many sites suggested being a guest blogger. Ok, but how do I go about finding blogs that I can write for? That’s where Innovative Ink helped. She listed Google searches to try and a way to sign up for opportunities to guest blog for money (yes, apparently that is a thing at beafreelanceblogger.com). It’s just a matter of getting your name out there and letting the cyber world know what you’re capable of before you fly solo and land your own clients.

5. Social Media

This has already been a major part of getting the word out about my blog. I’ve been working on my blog since 2011 and it contains a wide variety of writing samples – poetry, devotionals, short story, news articles, features and more. By the time I moved my blog over to this website, I was nearly at 7000 views! That’s all from sharing my latests posts on my Facebook, LinkedIn and Google profiles. What I learned from blogging for fun is that social media has to be a big factor in getting the word out about my freelance career, my clients and what I can offer to the world as a writer and photographer.

So there you have it. Be creative! Write! Build that portfolio and have fun with it 🙂

I would highly recommend checking out the “Freelance Writing Jobs for Newbies” series, as it has helped me to form a game plan for starting my career as a freelance writer.

Thanks for reading!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Learning to Dance in the Rain

What is the first thought that pops into your head when you wake up to a steady rain? You know the kind… large drops of water falling from the sky – not too hard, not too soft – just nice and steady all day long.

Many people consider it an interruption in their plans or a nuisance, but, for some reason, I don’t see it that way at all.

I love waking up to the sound of rain and knowing that it’s going to last for a while. Nearly everyone thinks I’m weird for enjoying it, but think about it… when it’s raining outside, it makes being inside so much more satisfying!

That feeling of getting my work done and out of the way and knowing that I have absolutely no other obligations. I mean, come on… the rain is obviously telling you to save the yard work for another day and to stay inside as much as you can! You don’t want to end up like the Wicked Witch of the West from”The Wizard of Oz,” now, do you?

Ok, that was a tad corny, but let me try to explain…

You know that scene in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast where Belle and the Beast are sitting by the fire, enjoying each others company and reading a book while the snow came down outside? Or in “Little Women” when Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy sat by the fire either working on their sewing or enjoying a book and just spending time together while the rain poured down outside their house.

Those two scenarios (and I can easily name a bunch more) are exactly what my idea of the perfect afternoon is! Hearing the constant drumming of the rain on your roof while you’re all cozy and dry in the house is what makes it so great.

Even though you’re stuck inside, the possibility are endless: you can explore new worlds between the pages of a book, watch a movie you haven’t seen in a while, play games with your family and friends (like actual board or card games), enjoy a mug of something hot, make goodies to pig out on at night while enjoying a movie/TV show marathon 🙂

When it’s gorgeously sunny, you feel almost obligated to go spend at least a little time doing something outside, whether it’s driving to the store, going for a bike ride or getting some yard work done. Don’t get me wrong, I love the warm, sunny days and I’m definitely your outdoorsy-type of girl… but not when it’s rainy and deliciously wet outside 🙂

So, the next time it rains (which might be tomorrow!) instead of complaining about how gloomy and disgusting it looks… look on the bright side. Here’s an opportunity for a guilt-free stay-
indoors day to do whatever may tickle your fancy! Read a book, watch a movie, play a game, get that project done, be a complete bum for a day….

… or literally go dance in the rain (it’s completely worth getting soaked) 🙂

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Writing is…

What does writing mean to you? Think about it. When you think of writing, what comes to mind? The countless research papers that your professors forced you to write in order to keep up your grades? Or do you see it as an outlet? A way to express yourself?

These were the questions I was asking myself as I sat at my computer at work last week, trying to find the inspiration to start blogging again. Ever since graduating from college and leaving the student newspaper, I haven’t really written anything of my own. Well, I’ve spit out numerous facts and information that I’ve gleaned from the hundreds of press releases I deal with at work from week to week…

… but that’s not me…

… that’s not the kind of writer I want to be defined as.

What some people don’t seem to realize is that words carry a lot of power. They can bring to life whole worlds that exist in between the covers of a book. They can inspire an entire nation to turn against the king and fight for their independence. Words can be the window into an author’s mind and reveal their innermost desires and dreams.

For me, there is so much more to writing than just repeating the facts. Writing is expression, thought, feeling, sensuality… freedom! It’s a doorway into strange, new lands full of adventure… and the only way we can open that door and make it available for the whole world to see, is by letting the creativity flow through our fingers and discovering where it takes us.

Whether you’re sitting at your desk staring at a blank Word document, nearly at the breaking point because you can’t figure out what to write or how to even get started; or you’re curled up in a chair with your journal trying to figure out how to put your life into words, just blurt out the first thing that comes to mind, no matter how silly it may sound, and go with it. Who knows? You might just unlock that creativity that’s just waiting to spill out.

It doesn’t matter if you have horrendous grammar or if your DSCN2516thought process doesn’t quite seem to line up at first… the only thing that matters is that you’re creating, constructing, expressing…

… you’re writing!

That’s really all there is to it. When you’re writing on your own, there’s no pressure of grades, getting the grammar correct and all that fun stuff you had to try to keep track of in school. No. Out here, it’s just you, the pen (or computer keyboard) and the blank sheet of paper just waiting to be filled with your words.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab a pen or a laptop, your favorite drink and a snack, get comfortable and let your creative juices flow!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

© 2021 Anna's Alcove

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑