Category Archives: Freelance Writing

Website Consultation Services

Hi guys,

Thanks so much for joining me at The Dabbler. It means a lot to me, especially those of you who have followed me from one blog to the next over the years, that you have stuck around through my various upheavals and down times. And it means a lot to me that you’re here, celebrating the birth of this new blog with me, because this blog is about you even more than it is about me. Without you guys, I would have stopped blogging a long time ago.

That’s why I’d like to introduce you to my new service, website consultation, and offer you a special introductory rate of $100 for your 5-page website. In case you’re wondering, a website consultation looks like this:

  • First, I go through each page of your website and make notes on everything, the good, the bad and the ugly, with an eye towards proofreading as I know many struggle with this–even professional writers.
  • Then I send you a .pdf with all of these notes, pointing everything out and making suggestions to help you transform your website so that it’s more client friendly.
  • Finally, I answer any questions you might have about the report, grab a testimonial if you’re willing to offer one–which gives you a prominent link on my Services page–and my work is done, though I like to keep in touch with my clients because you’re awesome.
  • If you’re in North America, I’m also happy to do a 30 minute phone chat about your website, and if you don’t, we can always chat on Skype if you want to communicate in real time. If you do go for either of these options, I will still send you a .pdf with all the information we discuss.

    All you have to do to get your website consultation is email me at and let me know what kind of website you have and what you want out of your consultation. I specialize in freelance websites, but I’ll happily research sites similar to yours so I can make educated suggestions on your website, whatever that might be.

    I spent much of my time at DJiZM Disc Jockey Services suggesting and supervising changes to the website, and I’ve also done website consultations for private clients such as Jordan Clary, a freelance writer who had this to say about my work:

    “I consulted with Dianna Gunn when I was re-doing my writer’s website after being away from freelancing for several years. Dianna has a great eye for detail and a knack for turning an average sentence into a compelling one. Her ideas definitely made my website stronger. If you want to make your website stronger, I definitely recommend Dianna Gunn.”

    If you’re convinced, shoot me an email at and we can talk about what your website needs. Unfortunately I can only accept payment through Paypal or Interac E-Transfer at this time. I am working on a system that will allow me to accept credit card payments and do so more easily, but that looks like it’s going to take longer than expected. The introductory price for my website consultations ends June 27th, so email me right away if you’d like to take advantage of this special offer.

    Do you need help with your website? Are you prepared to invest in your career by purchasing a web consultation? Why/why not? To share your thoughts, post a comment on the original post here, and don’t forget to sign up for my email newsletter here.

    Progress Report June 2013

    It’s June now, meaning it’s time to do two things: analyze how much progress I made towards my goals in May, and make my plans for the summer.

    Let’s start by taking a look at what I’ve accomplished towards my various goals:

    Editing Moonshadow’s Guardian– Last month I edited exactly six chapters and 42 pages. I should be finished editing before the end of this month, and I am going to start looking for beta readers this month. There’s less than a hundred pages to go and I’m thrilled to be this close to the end. So far, June’s looking pretty good month as I’ve already edited three pages and written a new chapter. I’m going to spend the next two weeks in a marathon with a goal of finishing by the time I graduate on the fifteenth.

    Launch the Ten Commandments of a Serious Writer eBook– I’ve now got this ebook almost ready and I’ll be explaining in more detail what it is this Friday. I should be able to launch in June.

    Make $5, 000 this year from my writing– in May I only made $300 from my writing, but I’m expecting more in the next few days and I’m now actively looking for new work. I also had several articles published this month at varying pay rates, which is awesome. And I’ve made a distinct plan for how to get this money, which I’ll show you in more detail later this month. My writing income goal for June is $750.

    Launch an email newsletter– I’ve decided to move to a self-hosted blog, and finally decided what my newsletter will look like, so it will be part of the new incarnation of this blog. It will probably launch in July.

    Write a new novel– I actually didn’t choose a plot for a new novel, but it’s percolating in the back of my head as I plan an event for Nanowrimo this year. Instead, I’ve created an outline for an ebook I’m going to release at the end of the summer. My goal for that this month is to have written the entire thing.

    I finish school halfway through this month, and I’m using existing blog posts for sections of the ebook I plan to release in July, so I think these are totally reasonable goals. To achieve them, I’m dedicating one hour a day every Saturday and Sunday to each project. Once school ends, I plan to work on each goal for at least one hour Monday through Friday during the summer and take weekends off.

    What are your goals for this month? How did you do last month?

    Writing The Feature Story by Jordan Clary

    Today’s guest poster is a freelancer who originally emailed me asking for more information about the work I did as a social media manager earlier this year. I was thrilled to make the connection and happily invited her to post something for all of you–I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

    * * * *

    Feature stories are a mainstay of nearly every type of publication. They balance out informational articles with texture, color and depth. Feature stories give the writer, and reader, a chance to explore a subject and look at it from different perspectives. Unlike news stories, which generally follow the inverted pyramid style, where the reporter makes the main point right away and the most important sub-points in the first paragraph or two, with a feature story a writer can develop the storyline in a number of ways.

    Although, features must still follow the journalistic rules of fairness and accuracy, the writer can be more creative with a feature story by adding descriptions, impressions and other details that might be overlooked in a news report.

    Feature stories can be found anywhere.

    As a freelance journalist, and more recently, as a writer for a weekly newspaper, I’ve written hundreds of feature stories. Just in the past couple weeks I’ve written features about a woman who saves greyhounds, a rancher who self-published his memoir, a homework club for English as a second language learners and a small band of Paiutes who are reclaiming their ancestral homeland.

    What types of subjects make up feature stories? Nearly anything.

    Many features are profiles of an interesting person. Trade magazines might be interested in a profile on someone who is a master at the trade or a behind-the-scenes look at a particular industry. Business magazines like profiles of successful business people. When writing a profile of a person, however, it’s important to focus on just the parts that are relevant to the topic you are writing about. Don’t try to cover their entire autobiography.

    Human interest stories are one of the most popular types of features. Similar to profiles, they give the reader a chance to understand issues through the experiences of another. I live in a rural area where one of the big issues between ranchers and environmentalists is water rights. There is a movement to restore some barren areas to their original lushness through stream and meadow restoration projects. Some ranchers feel this is taking water away from their cattle. Last spring I wrote several features trying to present the different sides to the issue, including a profile of a rancher who began to support the restoration project once he understood its long range impact on the area. History can make for a good feature story. For Veterans Day you might write about a particular battle or interview a veteran. You could write about how traditions evolved during a particular holiday. And don’t forget the lesser known holidays. Does anyone really know the origins of Groundhog Day?

    Seasonal themes can also be developed. These can be themes about the four seasons or they can follow other seasonal ideas: baseball season, opera season, cultural events, a business’ cycle.

    Mastering the art of feature stories can provide a door into a number of different publications, including both internet and traditional print media.

    Newspapers and magazines like features because of their engaging nature, and many of these venues are printing more features as a way to keep their readers interested.

    If you’re a copywriter or business writer, you’ll find many opportunities for feature writing. Company newsletters often contain feature stories that highlight a particular employee’s achievements or of someone who has done something relevant for the industry. Public relations professionals often write short features as press releases.

    Broadcast journalists for both television and radio love human interest stories. These behind-the-scenes profiles are often what keep viewers or listeners coming back for more.

    If you’re a blogger, you already know, many posts are simply short profiles on a particular topic.

    Feature stories are all around us. Do you know someone who has overcome a serious illness? As more and more businesses fold, a profile on what happens to a worker suddenly out of a job can be a valid feature. Who, in your community, is volunteering for animal welfare, assisting battered women, feeding the homeless or helping raise the awareness about foster children? A casual conversation in a grocery line can lead to a feature, as it did for me recently when the cashier mentioned they were holding a birthday party for a customer who turned 100 years old.

    Informational articles may give you ideas on how to expand to a feature.

    Keep a notebook to jot down ideas and contact information when something comes your way. You’ll soon find you have more ideas than you can possibly bring to fruition. And if you work locally, you may very well find people coming to you for feature stories.

    Bio: Jordan Clary lives in northern California and works as a writer and photographer for a rural weekly newspaper. She continues to freelance on the side.

    Finding Non-Fiction Ideas

    Since it’s almost October and next week I’ll be discussing novel planning and writing at great length, I thought today I’d focus on non-fiction. While it’s not my greatest love, I do enjoy writing non-fiction and I’m hoping it will help me pay the bills–and to an extent, it already has. The great thing about non-fiction is there are literally thousands of topics to write about and there’s a market for every topic. But often real life seems mundane and it seems impossible to find ideas, which is crazy if you think about the plethora of topics available to you. Today I’d like to share some strategies for finding non-fiction article ideas.

    1. What are you really good at? Odds are, somebody will pay you for articles teaching them to fix their own computer, create their own Youtube videos or even identify edible plants in the wilderness. You’re probably really good at something related to your day job–say, fixing photocopiers or negotiating with high profile clients. No matter what it is, there’s probably a market that would like a step-by-step tutorial on how to do that thing well.

    2. What are your favourite spots and activities in your city? Pitch these to local lifestyle markets or to travel magazines anywhere in the world. You’d be surprised how many people want–and are willing to pay for–information on the prime spots in your city.

    3. What are small businesses in your area doing? Think local. Odds are there are at least three or four unique businesses at the forefront of their fields in your city or county. Find out who they are, talk to the people who run them, get a couple pictures of their storefront and BOOM, you have a newsworthy story–which is also a great way to enter business and entrepreneurship magazines.

    4. Be at the forefront of change. Go out and experience life. When you hear about the “first annual” something, go check it out. Find a new and unique company to work with, either in a day job or a writing capacity. There’s nothing as inspiring as being part of something unique, and watching something happen that isn’t–and probably can’t–happening in any other place in the world. I’ve had the opportunity to go to a completely unique school this year, where we build skateboards and create our own brands, and it’s been incredibly inspiring–and helped me come up with ideas for all of the things mentioned above.

    Non-fiction ideas are everywhere–you just have to know how to look. The more interesting ways you find to spend your time, the more easily you’ll find article ideas. And remember, each of those ideas in turn can be turned into several articles with slightly different spins and also into interviews.

    So don’t despair when you run out of non-fiction ideas: go out and live life, and you’re bound to find more.

    A Variety of Markets

    Today I’d like to introduce you to two markets which accept non-fiction and two markets looking for fiction. In the attempt to build a freelance career, I’ve been doing mostly research on non-fiction markets lately–since all my finished short stories are out to different competitions–but fiction will always be my passion and I suspect the great majority of you prefer to write fiction too.

    Let’s start with the boring stuff to get it out of the way…

    The Non-Fiction

    Vibrant Life is a bimonthly publication promoting a healthy lifestyle and mental clarity. They’ve got lots of different sections and accept articles about any aspect of health or well-being. They’re looking for articles of no more than 1, 000 words, and shorter pieces are always in more demand. They also accept personal stories that fit with the theme of healthy living. Vibrant Life prefers that you submit finished articles to them. Payment ranges from $100-$300.

    Divine is a Canadian women’s magazine, covering fashion, healthy living, love, and entertainment. They’d love to see articles about anything of interest to Canadian women, including careers and money management. They accept both queries and finished work, and they accept work from unpublished authors as long as it meets their standards of quality writing. Unfortunately, they don’t mention exactly how much they pay.

    And now on to the good stuff…

    The Fiction

    Arc is a science fiction magazine looking for stories written in the near future. They want fiction of 3000-5000 words, and seem to be running a competition. First place wins five hundred Euros, and five honourable mentions win two hundred each. Seems like an interesting competition; if you write science fiction, don’t hesitate to submit.

    Lamplight Magazine is a brand new quarterly looking for dark speculative fiction and horror. It’s published as an ebook and they pay a flat rate: $50 for flash fiction and $150 for short stories. They read year-round but have specific due dates for each issue. We’ve just entered the submission period for their winter issue, which ends on October 15th.

    Hopefully one of these markets looks right for something you’ve been working on–or has inspired you to write something new. And don’t forget that if you keep writing, editing and submitting–in that order–you’ll eventually break through to the other side of published writer.

    Markets for Non-fiction

    In keeping with my goal of building a writing income, I’ve spent much of the last week researching markets which publish articles on the topics I’ve decided to focus on: mental health, travel and entrepreunership. These are all topics I can write about without much research. I have struggled with mental illness since I was eleven, I’m creating my own freelance business right now, and I can write about great destinations in my city while fine-tuning my article writing skills for when I can afford to actually travel.

    I’ve decided to share some of the markets I’ve come across in my research with you. I hope sharing them will help you build your own writing income.

    Today’s markets are all very different from one another, but they all accept travel articles of varying length:

    In the Fray is a magazine that seeks to promote understanding between people, encouraging tolerance, and defying categorization. They accept News writing, Commentary–including personal essays and travel writing–and Cultural Criticism, which includes essays and reviews. Being a small publication, they don’t pay a lot, and pay is different for each category. Commentary, the category travel writing’s in, will pay you $25-75 depending on length and quality. Articles should be 1, 000–4, 000 words long.

    Up! is a magazine run by Westjet, aiming to enrich travel experiences with a focus on Westjet destinations in North America and the Caribbean. There are several sections including features, Eat+Drink, and you can even submit for the website/blog. They DO NOT TAKE UNSOLICITED SUBMISSIONS. Instead they ask you query, for time-specific stories between six months and a year in advance due to long lead times. Pay rates aren’t mentioned specifically, but my understanding is the magazines connected to various airlines–several have them–pay quite well and are worth the time.

    Journeywoman is a travel magazine designed just for women. They accept articles covering women’s travelling concerns. Length is up to 900 words, with sidebars containing additional information outside the 900-word article. Payment is a $35.00 honorarium and eligibility for the Journeywoman writing contest, which has a prize of $100. There are several categories to submit to and they prefer stories which contain actual travel tips rather than just telling a story.

    Don’t forget to read the guidelines thoroughly and check out a couple of the available online articles for each before you submit/query these markets. Knowing your market and understanding what they’re looking for is the best way to create something they’ll want to publish.

    Have you submitted any non-fiction before? Did you meet with success?