Jim Sutton: NAIWE Member of the Month, April 2012

Our Member of the Month for April is Jim Sutton of Creative Solutions. Listen in to the recording below as we interview Jim on The Freelance Life. He shares some of the online networking skills he teaches others to help improve their online networking for profitability.

A self-described onion networker, who is passionate about networking and helping others master the skill, Jim built his LinkedIn network to 3600 direct connections in 6 years.  He has successfully managed complex learning management systems and led the creation of performance-based qualification programs.  To help improve the skills of job seekers he is currently facilitating a weekly interview preparation session.  He lives in Venetia, PA, is married and has a degree in computer systems and a masters in Training and Performance Improvement.

Tinie Tao, October Member of the Month

Tinie Tao, a freelance writer and editor, is NAIWE’s October Member of the Month. Tinie effectively uses her NAIWE website (TinieTao.NAIWE.com) as a showcase for her fresh, accessible writing style. I think you’ll enjoy her interview. Join us for the audio interview at 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday, the 13th of October at The Freelance Life.

Q: Please share a little of your professional history with our readers.

I’m currently writing and editing for The Infusion Project, an organization that promotes and throws live art events downtown for artists to get their work out there. I also write blogs for New Evolution Video, a San Diego video marketing company.

Q: How and when did you make this business a reality?

I quit my admin/office job, which was my first position out of college, after about ten months there.  I knew from that experience that I wanted to jump into my passion and start enjoying every day of my life now.  I was already writing for New Evolution at the time, and I was able to ramp up the quality and amount of writing I did for them when I liberated myself from the day job hamster wheel.

Q: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned thus far in your career?

I actually create my highest quality writing when I focus on others.  I stay on track when I ask myself, “How can I help this client?  How can I best serve the readers?” My priority moves from being about  how much money I’m getting out of the deal to creating the most fun-to-read content I can for an audience.

Q: What are some of the teachers, books, or authors who have influenced your professional life in a positive way?

I love Carol Tice’s Make A Living Writing blogs and Steve Pavlina’s personal development blogs.  Steve teaches that we ramp up personal wealth by creating and delivering value.  We already know that we’re talented!

We create financial abundance by getting others to see our talents.  We profit when others recognize and purchase the enormous benefits to themselves from our products and services.

Q: As a seasoned professional, what advice would you offer an independent writer or editor who is just beginning a career?

Take risks, and try new things!

Q: What inspires you?

Sharing positive energy with entrepreneurs building amazing businesses.  I love that my clients’ industries (ie. art, entertainment, technology) are young, hip, and full of life.

Q: How has your membership in NAIWE benefited you professionally?

My NAIWE membership equipped me with the tools I need (ie. WordPress platform, examples by other members) to create and publish my online writing portfolio.

June Member of the Month: April Michelle Davis

April Michelle Davis of Editorial InspirationsOur Member of the Month for June is April Michelle Davis of Editorial Inspirations. April has recently celebrated her tenth year of editorial freelancing. She has a strategic approach to her career that any freelancer would benefit from studying. She shares many tips in this interview, and even more in the audio version that aired on The Freelance Life. Here’s the recording:

Q: Please share a little of your professional history with our readers.

I have been a freelance editor, indexer, and proofreader for 10 years. I have a master’s degree in publishing from The George Washington University, a bachelor’s degree in English from Messiah College, a certificate in editing and a certificate in book publishing from the University of Virginia, and a certificate in professional editing from EEI Communications. My clients are both authors and publishers, and I work in a variety of genres.

Q: How and when did you make this business a reality?

I officially began my business in May 2001, but at that time I had little experience. I was literally working on books for food. I would edit books for authors, and they would buy me breakfast while we discussed ways to improve their manuscripts. From that, I worked in-house for a few years while obtaining my certificates and then my master’s degree. And at the same time, I worked to build my freelance business. In 2007, I had enough clients to quit my day job and freelance full time, and that is what I have been doing since.

Q: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in your career?

To be successful at freelancing, I have had to learn to be very determined. I am a stubborn person, so this does come easier for me, but sometimes I just get tired and want to give up. However, after an hour of feeling that—not even an entire evening—I know that I can’t. I love what I do, and it is my passion.

When I teach high school students, I ask them what they love to do. After they respond, I ask them how they can do what they love and make money. I have always loved books, and I have found a way doing what I love while supporting my family. That is key to not having just a job. Editing, indexing, and proofreading is not a job or even a career for me—it is my life. I live and breathe it.

Q: Are you working on any special projects you’d like to tell us about?

I just finished up a year-long project revising a volume of ten books. During this past year, I edited the books, made corrections in InDesign, corrected any layout errors, input proofreader changes, indexed the books, laid out the indexes, and wrote and laid out a compilation index. This volume is in its seventh edition, and I worked on a few of the older editions as well, so it has been great seeing this volume progress through the years.

I have also begun teaching a lot more. I host Editing 101 and Editing 102 classes, which are specialized classes designed for those who are in the editing industry (or who want to become freelance editors). Editors who have been in the field for more than twenty years have told me that they are great refresher courses, and people thinking about entering the publishing industry have been able to make educated decisions about their future. More details about these classes are on my website: www.editorialinpspirations.com/services/classes.

Q: What are some of the teachers, books, or authors who have influenced your professional life in a positive way?

Barbara Hart was my first editing teacher at the University of Virginia. She was very tough, and it was tougher for me because most of the students in my class were seasoned people in the publishing field, whereas I was just getting into it. I learned a lot from her, and I still have all of my class materials that I periodically review.

Q: As a seasoned professional, what advice would you offer an independent writer or editor who is just beginning a career?

People don’t always want to be mentors, and even when people find mentors they don’t always know what to do with them. However, I found it greatly valuable to take many classes both related to my degrees and certificates and other classes not related to them. From those classes, I did more than just learn the content. I critiqued the professors. I examined their qualities to see if I wanted to pick up any of them. I examined the way they edited, managed their business, or marketed, and I decided whether I wanted that to become something that I do. Therefore, I recommend finding mentors in everyone—even those people who don’t want to be your mentor.

Also, the publishing industry is incredibly difficult to enter. You need to stay determined. You will fail multiple times; learn from these failures and continue your efforts.

Q: What inspires you?

I love when authors and publishers send me packages. I still get excited to see a package at my front door step. I grab it as soon as I see it and run to the kitchen to grab the razor blade. I have to open it right away. And there, sitting in that brown cardboard box is a beautiful, shiny, new book that I helped to create. In the foyer of my home, immediately outside my office, I have a bookshelf that everyone must pass when entering my home. This bookshelf is only for books that I have worked on. I don’t brag about them and show them to everyone, but if someone asks about those books, I light up and begin showing them my work. If someone asks what I have worked on, I take them to my special bookcase.

Q: How has your membership in NAIWE benefited you professionally?

I have been a member only since the beginning of the year, so this is a difficult question to answer. However, I do have Google analytics on my website, and in those six months that I have been a member, several people have gone to my website from my NAIWE web page. I think that’s pretty good considering that I am still working on my NAIWE blog to get more content up on it. Also, when I Google my name, my NAIWE web page is listed six, bumping another April Davis to the second page and making a Google search for “April Michelle Davis” include on the first page nine of ten web pages about me.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Whether you are new to the publishing industry or have been in it for years, you can always learn new things and can grow professionally. Remember to stay current with the industry by taking classes and networking. With the publishing industry changing so rapidly with technology, those who don’t will be left behind.

April’s member website is AprilMichelleDavis.NAIWE.com.

May Member of the Month: Whitney Hopler

Whitney Hopler, Freelance Writer and Editor, NAIWE Member of the Month- May 2011Whitney Hopler, a freelance editor and inspirational writer, is the NAIWE Member of the Month for May. Whitney very effectively uses her NAIWE website (WhitneyHopler.NAIWE.com) by including the URL in her article bios and other materials, and she continues to develop her freelance career in a direction that’s both personally and professionally rewarding. I think you’ll enjoy her interview.

Q: Please share a little of your professional history with our readers.

A: I began my journalism career in college at George Mason University, where I served on the campus newspaper’s staff as an editor and worked for a chain of local newspapers as a reporter through an internship. After graduation, I went straight to work for the local newspapers as a reporter covering a wide variety of stories. However, several years into reporting, I began to feel depressed about my job. I had a nagging sense that I’d be better suited to writing stories that people reflected on more than newspaper reports, but didn’t know how to go about doing so.

One day I sat in someone’s living room interviewing her for a profile and noticed her pet parrot nearby.  At the bottom of the parrot’s cage was a copy of that day’s newspaper, with my latest cover story featured in all its glory – and the bird had pooped all over it. That, for me, graphically illustrated the fact that my stories might have been interesting but didn’t offer much lasting value. It turns out that God had been using my restlessness to motivate me to seek His will for my life more, and when I did, I sensed that He was calling me to write about what I thought mattered most: faith. So I quit my job and devoted time to prayer while working on a freelance project.

At the right time, God provided a job that was a much better fit for me, and a much better job overall – as an editor for The Salvation Army’s national magazines. Ever since then, every job I’ve gotten has come to me through prayer and having the confidence to take risks to follow where I sensed God leading me.  After my first child – my daughter Honor – was born, I needed a job with a more flexible schedule, and over the years God has provided jobs that included serving as the religion editor for a newspaper chain and editing a channel for Crosswalk.com, the largest Christian site on the Internet. I’ve been serving as an inspirational writer and editor now for about 17 years.

Q: How and when did you make this business a reality?

A: When a different corporation took over Crosswalk.com, I was faced with a dilemma: either move to a different area to keep my staff position, or work with Crosswalk.com on a freelance basis. I didn’t want to uproot my family, so I began freelancing for Crosswalk.com, and gradually added other freelance clients as I could. Now it’s been about 9 years since I began freelancing full time, and I’m grateful that I can continue to write regularly for Crosswalk.com and other clients.

Q: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned thus far in your career?

A: When searching for jobs or freelance projects, don’t settle for less than the best, because God will provide the best if you’re willing to trust Him. No matter what your professional field is, you have a choice. You can either jump into any job or project that comes your way simply to make money and have something to do, or you can ask God to lead you to what’s best for you and work hard to earn it, taking whatever risks you need to take to grow.

The times when I haven’t trusted God to lead me, I’ve gotten by, but I didn’t enjoy my work very much or see many positive results from it. When I have trusted God, though, my work has given me a lot of joy and led to something great happening – people’s lives actually changed for the better. So I’ve learned that people facing career decisions should seek God’s will (rather than just how much money they can make, what logistics are involved with job, etc., which are secondary to the primary concern of how they can best contribute to the world through their work) and be confident that God will lead them to what’s best.

Q: Are you working on any special projects you’d like to tell us about?

A: About.com has just hired me to serve as the guide for its new site about angels and miracles. I’m excited about engaging readers of all perspectives (believers from every religion and skeptics alike) online to discuss God’s angels and the miracles that He sometimes performs. I’m grateful that I get to be a part of delivering good news to readers, since the media so often features more bad news then the good news still that happens regularly, even in our fallen world. About.com’s angels and miracles site debuted in May. Please visit the site, tell your friends, and send me stories of your encounters with angels or miraculous events you’ve experienced. I’m looking forward to posting reader stories regularly. Also, I plan to blog about angels and miracles myself both on About.com and on my NAIWE site, so please plan to check out the blogs and let me know what you think.

Q: What are some of the teachers, books, or authors who have influenced your professional life in a positive way?

A: My high school journalism teacher, Mrs. Margo Tyree, urged me to overcome my shyness and take on an extrovert’s job – reporting for the school’s newspaper – as an introvert to gain confidence, and I did. I’ll always be grateful that she believed in my potential back when I was an insecure teen who just loved to write. Mrs. Tyree and many of my other teachers and professors also helped me become a stronger writer over the years. As for books and authors, the classic book The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White helped me vividly see the value of writing clearly and concisely, and I think every professional writer or editor should read it.

Q: As a seasoned professional, what advice would you offer an independent writer or editor who is just beginning a career?

A: Take the time to figure out what genre of writing and editing you should focus on, since you’re more likely to get hired and do a great job if you’re working on projects that are best for you. What are you most interested in? What distinctive talents and skills can you offer? For instance, some writers and editors are best suited for technical projects and others for creative projects. Some have experience covering a particular field, such as sports or business. If you’re not sure what to focus on, pray for guidance, and you’ll figure it out.

Q: What inspires you?

A: It’s inspiring for me to read a compelling story of how God has worked in someone’s life to change that person for the better in some way. I can’t get enough of stories like that!  All of our individual stories are incredibly significant because they’re connected to the ultimate story of what God is doing in our world.

Q: How has your membership in NAIWE benefited you professionally?

A: The website has proven to be a tremendously valuable tool to use when communicating with potential employers. To compete for freelance jobs today, every independent writer and editor really needs a professional website like the ones that NAIWE offers.  Also, knowing that I have NAIWE’s many resources to turn to for advice and support as needed encourages me a lot. It’s easy for freelancers to feel isolated, but NAIWE members are connected to a great community that can help all of us, so we never need to feel that we’re alone in our work.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

A: I just want to thank NAIWE for giving me an opportunity to share my professional story. Hope it inspires some other NAIWE members to have confidence that their work matters to God, and He’ll lead them to some great projects when they trust their careers to Him.

Ruth Thaler-Carter: April 2011 Member of the Month

Ruth Thaler-Carter, NAIWE Member of the Month-April 2011Here’s an interview with long-time NAIWE member Ruth Thaler-Carter. She’s been freelancing for many years, and has created an interesting, profitable career with multiple streams of income. We’re delighted to have her as our Member of the Month for April 2011. You can read the review, or click on the audio recording to listen to it.

Q: Please share a little of your professional history with our readers.

Oh, gosh, where to start? I write articles for association and independent magazines and for several newsletters; write, edit and produce newsletters for associations, nonprofits and businesses; edit manuscripts for magazines, a series of regulatory courses, a World Bank division and more; proofread marketing materials for a law firm; and teach classes for a local writers’ center.
Q: How and when did you make this business a reality?
Technically, by selling my first articles to a local weekly newspaper while still in high school, but formally, by recasting a full-time association communications job into a consulting arrangement, adding two part-time onsite editing assignments, and just plunging in, back in 1984.
Q: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned thus far in your career?
Never give up, and always do your best work.
Q: Are you working on any special projects you’d like to tell us about?
Writing four-part series of articles on eldercare for a regional lifestyle magazine, a book on the same topic with a good friend, and articles for Copyediting newsletter and the magazine of an association for owners of animal hospitals, and writing parts of and editing a book celebrating the 35th anniversary of my writers’ group. My goal for this year was to do more writing, and it’s already coming into being.
Q: What are some of the teachers, books, or authors who have influenced your professional life in a positive way?
My sixth-grade English teacher, Miss (Louise) Thomas, who taught us how to diagram sentences and instilled grammar and usage into my very being, and Miss (Elizabeth) Hart, my 11th-grade “Critical Reading and Writing” and 12th-grad AP English teacher, who gave me the organizational skills to write fast and accurately, and strengthened my belief in my writing ability.
I can’t think of any particular books, but the works of Josephine Tey, Dorothy Dunnett and Susan Roberts Shreve are long-time inspirations.
My parents, by the way, who taught me to love reading, learning and books in general; backed me up on every major decision; and demonstrated their pride in my independence.
Q: As a seasoned professional, what advice would you offer an independent writer or editor who is just beginning a career?
Never whine. Learn from colleagues. Give back as much as you get. Join and be visible in at least one professional organization. Don’t sell yourself cheap. Don’t give up!
Q: What inspires you?
The thrill of seeing my name in print and of feeling like I’ve contributed something to colleagues.
Q: How has your membership in NAIWE benefited you professionally?
Not sure yet, although this kind of opportunity should enhance my visibility, I hope!
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I really appreciate your creating the NAIWE. The more opportunities for us to interact with each other, the better professionals and more successful we all should be.