Posts Tagged ‘New York Daily News’

Back to the Future: Advice for Those Who Hate the Whole Personal Branding Thing

By Carol Cole-Frowe

There’s so much advice out there these days about personal branding, also known as “Keeping Your Name Out There.”

You know what I’m talking about. You need to Facebook, Linked In, Google Plus, Pinterest, ad nauseum. Who has time for all that? I’m lucky if I can keep up with Facebook and play the occasional Words With Friends game with Alec Baldwin. Maybe update my website every other month if I’m lucky.

I get exhausted thinking about keeping up with all the social media sites, especially if you’re working crazy freelance hours and trying to have a decent family life. And when you’re freelancing –  trying to humor a few beloved pro bonos who think you can write their newsletter in no time flat? Every freelancer I know gets pitched at least once a month for pro bono. I don’t know about you, but I like to get paid when I write — except for when I don’t — and I prefer to choose those things, not have them choose me.

My advice is if you want to put yourself out there with the least amount of effort, I’d advise that you do these few things. First, I know what you’re saying. Gosh, Carol, I’ve never heard “get a website” before. But humor me for a minute. Here’s a couple of reasons you need these tools, and I’m just betting you don’t have one or you wouldn’t be reading this. In order of importance:

–       A Website is like leaving around a brochure about your wonderful self. It’s static, just sitting there working for you, and waiting for some lovely editor who’s interesting in reading your work. And then if it’s good, it will sell you while you’re napping. You can make one easily with, or several other good hosting sites. I’m reasonably technologically challenged and I used FatCow and Drag and Drop Builder to build my website-work-in-progress at And tracking my stats, I know a bunch of folks check it out. Categories to consider: About Me or Bio, Portfolio, Photography, Buzz, Blog, Contact Me. If I can do it, you can do it. Bare minimum — get a website.

–       List Yourself in the SPJ Freelancer Directory. It works.  In fact, I got a stringing job for the New York Daily News only yesterday from the Freelancer Directory that will pay my Society of Professional Journalists memberships for several years to come. List your new website on it.

–       Get Professional Business Cards. There are several sites on the web where you can get inexpensive business cards, like VistaPrint. Even better, see if you can trade out your favorite graphic designer some writing for their website for their talents on your’s. Or save up and get a really special individualized card. Make sure you note that you’re a SPJ member and your brand-spankin’-new website, mobile and fax if you have one.

–       Blog. I hear the collective groan from here. You don’t have to blog about stuff about your  job (unless your boss makes you.) Write about what you love, like hiking or recycling or gardening. Make it a habit to post at least once a week, then post the link on Facebook and Twitter (see below.) When I started seriously blogging at the first of this year about my gastric sleeve surgery and offering compatible recipes, I thought I was writing to myself for awhile, especially since I’m a newbie and still learning. Then all of a sudden I have thousands of visitors who’ve found me from several dozen countries including Russia, Brazil, India, Germany and Australia, and I was the most shocked person out there blogging. Then I monetized it and I’m actually making money writing a blog. Building it is easy and self-explanatory on WordPress or Blogger. Once again, pictures or graphics are key to keeping interest.

–       Suck It Up and Get on Facebook, minimum, even if you just use it to occasionally promote something your particularly interested in or your latest freelance article, book or blog. I’ve gotten freelancing jobs from people who wanted to find me and couldn’t figure out any other way than messaging me on Facebook. 160 million users? Not a bad potential audience. I recommend posting pictures, they’re the best point-of-entry into any article and that hasn’t changed. Folks love to look at pictures.

–       Twitter. I used to hate Twitter until I got the hang of it. It’s all in the hashtags, which is putting a number sign aka “#” in front of your key word, and you can find anything, complain about anything, reach out for any info, all in 140 characters. When I recently complained about an airline on Twitter, I got a personal letter apologizing for their “glitch.” Do I need to tell you to post pictures?

That’s the bare minimum for “Those Who Hate the Whole Personal Branding Thing.” Now go out and do it. In order.

What are your ideas for personal branding and marketing without sitting all day in front of your laptop?

Carol Cole-Frowe is a full-time independent journalist, based in Oklahoma and North Texas, and vice president of the Oklahoma Pro Chapter of SPJ. Her website is Reach her on Twitter at @carolcolefrowe.



Freelancing with a Family

Contributed by Kathy Ehrich Dowd, freelance writer

Want to be there for your child’s every milestone, but aren’t ready to surrender your creative-yet-professional side after your kiddo is born? There is no perfect solution, but freelancing seems to come pretty close.

I have been a full-time freelance journalist since 2004 and have always loved many things about the gig — the flexibility, the variety of assignments, and the lack of commute to name a few — but I have never loved my setup more than these past 18 months during pregnancy and the birth of my son.

While other preggos lamented exhausted days filled with battling nausea during client meetings, swollen ankles crammed into “professional” shoes or the simple act of getting out of bed for work after a sleepless night, I slept in as needed, happily attended my Tuesday morning prenatal yoga class and worked comfortably, often in stretch pants and slippers.

I have become even more grateful for my freelance life after my son was born. While some full-time working away from home moms I know battle guilt because they feel they aren’t spending enough quality time with their kids and some stay-at-home-mom buddies struggle with the loss of their intellectual, “adult” side, I realize I am incredibly fortunate to have the best of both worlds.

My son is now 9 months old and I feel lucky to have figured out a work/life balance that works well for me and my son — for now, anyway. I take him to daycare three times a week after his first nap (usually about 10:30 or 11, much later than most other kids whose parents need to rush out the door early in the morning). My parents are usually available to come on his non-daycare days as needed, and my husband can handle weekends if I need to work. When my son is home with me I will often work during his naps and can occasionally sneak in an email or two when he’s awake — I just have to keep a watchful eye to make sure he’s not biting the vacuum cord or getting into some other kind of crawling baby trouble!

What this all means is that I can spend hours in the playroom with my son singing songs, helping him learn to walk and simply marveling at this tiny person who discovers something new practically everyday. Babies are babies for such a short time, and I revel in the time we spend together. And, I must admit, I revel in our time apart, where I can pursue the journalism career I love, without the guilt.

Freelancing can be tough. It can be isolating, the work/cash flow can be uncertain and the administrative aspects of the job can be a hassle, but if you’re a journalist and also a mom (or dad!) to little ones, freelancing offers something so many careers do not: lots of flexible, unhurried time with the people you love most. To me, that is worth more than anything.

Kathy Ehrich Dowd is a frequent contributor to PEOPLE Magazine and has also written for TV Guide, USA Today, Women’s World, the New York Daily News, and many other publications. Learn more at


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