The Road to Self Employment ~ Step #1: The Business Plan

~Every business starts out with an idea. Then that idea is turned into a business plan of action. There are many steps to follow when starting your own business and with a lot of hard work and determination the last step ends with success.

What’s your key to success?keyboard-621829_1280

I’ve tried a handful of different business ideas and none of them ever worked out for me. But it wasn’t because they weren’t great opportunities full of potential, it was that they were not the right fit for my future. I have tried many multi-level marketing companies that involved selling products such as dietary supplements, cleansing kits, health food alternatives, telecommunications and even coffee.

I also tried out self employment as a Personal Trainer for a few years and ran my business by going to people’s homes, personal gyms and group training boot camps. Each business had a great compensation plan and a bucket load of wonderful people involved, but they just did not fill my heart with passion. Although writing has been my passion for years, I have always held myself back.

I ask myself: “What if I’m not good enough?” or “What if people don’t like what I have to say?”

And those two questions have stopped me in my tracks many times. Now I am finally ready to work on the business plan that I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. It’s travel blog time!

A business plan consists of many things: statistics, numbers, time frames, information and facts that secure the business idea.

You have to ask yourself: Is this a viable business that can make money?

Will my costs be more than I am willing to pay out?

Can I put in the hours that are required to deliver results?

Do I have the start up funds I need to get going?

mark-516277_1280Once these variables are sorted out then the business plan  can finally be put together. I think of it like a mind map. You must fill in the bubbles with the ideas and connect the dots to create a road map to success.

Well it’s time to get started.

There is a lot of work to be done and step by step I will collect my information and start working on my material.

Are you self-employed? Maybe you might have some advice or would like to connect and chat about self employment.  I would love to hear any success stories out there or even network with others just getting started on this same path. 🙂

If you would like to chime in, please leave a comment in the box below. I love connecting! ~T

So you want to be Travel Blogger? Me too!

globe-454479_1280SO I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to talk about Travel Blogging  as I continually warp my blog over and over. I’ve landed on a new look I really like and I’ve made changes so my blog is more responsive.

Now let’s talk about being a Travel Blogger! 🙂

Travel Blogging is one of those professions everyone secretly wants to have. Wandering around the globe with only a backpack hanging off your shoulders, stopping to “work” beach side from a lovely little café in Europe somewhere or just relaxing while you write your next post from a hammock tied to a tree in some humid rain forest in South America.

OK these are my visions of being a Travel Blogger. What are yours?

During these past few months I’ve gone into great detail on how to be a Journalist and the many ways people make money as freelancers. You can post online to magazines and newspapers, send pitches to print publications or send portfolios to publications who are specifically looking for completed articles.

Well guess what?! Travel Blogging is pretty much the same thing.

Most travel blogs I come across do a hand full of the same things Journalists do, like pitching to an online magazine. The only difference I’ve found is that those bloggers are pitching to travel publications. It’s the only difference I can find.


In many cases, it’s a matter of finding ways to make money. As I’ve stated in earlier posts you can make money on the road by writing for magazines, using ads on your blog, direct sales or copy writing. If you take a look at Sebastian’s blog from Off the Path, you will see he does a number of these jobs to make ends meet:

Another great site I stumbled upon is The Travel Bloggers Academy. It has a course you can take through their website, which is a couple of years old, but still has relevant information.

Aside from posting on your blog about amazing places you’ve been, Travel Blogging can go as far as you want to take it. If you want to keep travelling, you must find ways to make money.

My travel blog is still in its beginning stages so I’m just discovering the many ways to actually make this work. If you have a look at my post from yesterday you’ll see all the changes I’ve made:

The next step for me is triple checking that I don’t have copyrighted images on my blog. If you want to use Word ads, that’s a crucial thing to be sure of. You can’t have any ads promoting through your blog if they are not your own or from legitimate free-to-use sites. It may take some time, but go through ALL of your images if you’ve taken them off the internet and if you don’t know about an image then email the website you took it from.

I hope this helps!

Travel Blogging is a “Dream Job” everyone wants to be in whether they say so or not. What separates you from the people who are keeping it a pipe dream?


Happy Travel Blogging! xo


PS: I just started using Zemanta as well. This plugin helps you find related articles, tags and images through its own search. Pretty cool right?! Check it out:

That’s where these articles came from:

Freelance Journalism Course #4 and 5

18688409-office-writing-woman-with-paper-note-illustrationIt’s all about the art… the art of writing. Turning words into a compelling story readers can’t tear their eyes away from. This is really all we have talked about in the last two classes of my Freelance Journalism Course at the University of Victoria.

Once you study the way a certain publication works, you understand the tone and the theme of that magazine. I don’t think I will be able to read anything the same again. Now I’m not just reading it but I’m also dissecting it, tearing it apart piece by piece like a science project unfolding. There really is a science behind it.

Our instructor Greg gave us some homework to do over the last two weeks which included: writing a practice article about a tuna delivery truck driver, whose hillbilly quotes made him look “not so bright” shall we put it? And we also had to write a pitch for a magazine. Practice makes perfect so I was pretty excited to write these two pieces for Greg to edit, even if he did rip them apart.
😉 It’s the only way to learn!

Some of the suggestions Greg had for my article were:

-be aware of factual errors and get all the facts straight
-there are no exclamation points is great journalism (oops I get excited)
-read the story out loud to find sentences that don’t make sense
don’t use words that end in -ly: it borders on opinion writing
– stick to present tense
-always use a persons last name throughout the story after introducing them
-headings: you have to make the reader want to read on


We also read some incredible pieces of journalism from different writers and studied them bit by bit. Two of the most fascinating stories were:

Animals by Chris Jones
The Fighter: The Life and Times of Merle Haggard by Jason Fine

I was absolutely captivated reading both of these pieces. Both are quite lengthy but I could not put them down. They are both very different in so many ways. The journalism is just astounding and the emotion that is portrayed in them is very admirable.

What makes great journalism? Fine tuning your work and always practicing the craft.

Greg went into a lot of detail about targeting a specific audience with tone, what works and what doesn’t and how to use descriptive words and phrases when reading someones body language. The moments when the writer takes your breath away by utilizing an emotional moment. A blank stare. A brief pause. A short silence.

Greg shared some of his work as well:

That’s Just the Way it isIsland Parent
Goo Goo Dolls make Victoria women scream for limp rock– Nexus
Shopping Hub Redevelopment- Douglas magazine

He’s a talented writer and so versatile. Each article is different from one another and going through them, seeing the way each piece is written and realizing that words are extremely powerful… it’s humbling. Greg inspires me to become a great writer and definitely has the right tools to apply to this field of writing. Without any university training, Greg has mastered the art of freelance writing and knows the ins and outs when dealing with editors. With only one class to go I feel I have learned so much from him.

As you can imagine, he has also had his ups and downs with his writing. In the articles above he writes from a dads perspective, voicing his opinion about technology. He then writes about middle-aged women singing at a concert and comparing it to dish washing. And lastly he shares a story of a handful of unfortunate events that happen to local business owners when a mall is being reconstructed.

Opinion writing is tricky. You really have to know how to present it properly so it doesn’t come across as something other than what you’re trying to say. Sometimes people get offended or take things the wrong way and it’s hard, as a writer, to have your words misconstrued or the message mistaken. Writing “snarky” pieces full of sarcasm are difficult and Greg has had issues with upset readers, negative feedback and even harsh comments at times.

In the end, I learned a lot about techniques and how important your headline is. Greg made a joke that I wont repeat but I’ll tell you, it was pretty funny when he explained what he was really trying to say when he wrote “limp rock” in the title of his Goo Goo Dolls article. Whoops… a secondary editor is always a good idea when you’re an editor. And Greg says that will haunt him to this day that he published that one a bit prematurely. I guess he got excited too 🙂

Words pack a punch!

John Threlfall also made a guest appearance in yesterdays class and gave us the rundown on the do’s and don’ts of working with an editor and what kind of writer he would work with again and again. You can check out his marvelous blog here 🙂 He has an unbelievable story himself and I think I may just have to write about it! He’s an animated speaker and I really enjoyed listening to his tales of success.

Stayed tuned for my next article… and I will go over some of those do’s and don’ts of writing I’ve learned throughout this wonderful class!

Happy Wednesday! xo

Freelance Journalism Class #3

I was so excited to attend this weeks Freelance Journalism Class because it was about how to write the perfect pitch when sending out queries to magazine publications. Researching on the internet  can be helpful but it is really overwhelming at times and can make for “lazy” mass pitching.

Our instructor, Greg Pratt, gave us some great pitch examples from one of his colleagues and mentors: John Threlfall, who is also a Journalist himself and an Instructor at The University of Victoria. Check out Johns profile here.
John is the ex-Monday Magazine editor-in-chief so he has a lot of experience in pitching and what the perfect pitch should look like.

In the examples of good work and bad work, John made some very important points about pitching:

-Know your market- finding the magazine you want to write for and knowing that publication in and out. Reading it cover to cover is the best way to find the tone of the articles and how you should structure your writing. Even reading a few of their past issues will give you some great insight into the writers who consistently write for the magazine.

-Never underestimate the power of politeness- when addressing an editor you should be casual but not too casual in your first inquiry. Also if you say you’re going to get back to an editor with something like an article example, than do so even if you haven’t heard back from your first letter.

-Never bother an editor with obvious questions-before you pitch a magazine you should already know if they actually hire freelancers or if they only have staff writers. How often does the publication go out? What are the writers guidelines?
Do the research and already know the answers to these kinds of questions. Which brings us to the next point:

-Do your research and prove you’re worth their time!

and lastly…

-Pitch first, write later- Greg says this is the most common way freelancers write, but not in ALL cases. Interviewing usually comes after you’ve sealed the deal with a magazine to write an article for them. It’s not likely you will interview someone first in hopes you get the job, but some publications do take articles that are already written. Again, this is something you should know from the writers guidelines.

A great pitch should always be short, specific and to the point and informative. Having a proven track record does help, but you can leave that out if you’re a newby like me 😉 Make sure to include your contact info as well since you want that editor to get in touch with you.

Apparently some people don’t include stuff like that… so don’t be one of those
“lazy pitchers”.

softball-422331_1280You want to pitch all the way to the mound and strike ’em out!!

Stay tuned for next weeks class details and I hope you enjoy!

Happy writing! xo

Freelance Journalism Class #1

home-office-336581_1280Yesterday I started a new evening course at the University of Victoria called “Freelance Journalism in 2014” and as promised I’m going to share what I’ve learned with all of you! It is a bit of a recap of what I’ve already been learning about becoming a writer, but I really enjoyed speaking with a successful writer in person and learning from his own experiences.

My instructor, Greg Pratt, is a local freelancer here in Victoria. He has worked his way up the writing ladder and is now the managing editor for Nexus Newspaper at Camosun College:

Greg also works as a freelancer fairly consistently for Douglas magazine, Island Parent and Alternative Press… and that’s just to name a few. Not only is he extremely knowledgeable when it comes to freelancing, he is clearly an expert on the writing process and what it takes to become a successful writer. You can view his detailed online portfolio here:

During our first hour together Greg shared his story with the class and laid out the details of his job as a freelance journalist. By the sounds of it, Greg had a lot of luck on his side when he was just starting out and was basically just “winging it” when he was discovered. Naturally my first question was: “Do you need a degree to land a job as a freelancer?”

Greg: “I don’t have one.” So no.

This doesn’t surprise me at all. Especially after reading so many others articles that say the same thing. You don’t need a 4 year degree and a $30,000 debt to be a freelancer… you just have to come up with interesting ideas or “hooks” for stories and then write them. It seems so simple right?

Well, Greg was also very blunt about actually “making it” as a freelancer. It’s not easy. In fact it is quite difficult to make a full-time career out of freelancing.  The 3 things we discussed were finding your niche, why you want to write and differentiating between different kinds of journalism. Then we basically jumped 3 classes ahead of ourselves and started talking about pitches and opinion writing.

This is where I got a bit confused.

Opinion writing vs. Neutral writing

Apparently if you want to be a freelancer you have to learn how to write in a neutral tone. Magazines don’t want opinion pieces on your personal viewpoints about a specific topic, nor do they want articles about people you have relationships with. The writing has to be factual and unbiased. That to me sounds incredibly difficult as blogging is the complete opposite. Blogs are mostly opinion based articles so this is a completely different way of writing. It’s something that didn’t even cross my mind because all I write about are my personal opinions and experiences. This will definitely be a bit of a learning curve.

We also discussed different types of journalism such as time pieces, interviewing, feature articles and ratings. In the end you really just have to do your research. What kind of publication are you looking for? Who would you want to write for? What have other freelancers done in the past for that magazine? These are all questions you want to ask yourself when seeking out your future prospects.

Each publication is going to be different so reading previous issues and finding the overall tone of the magazine or newspaper is going to determine your pitch.

Resume vs. Portfolio

Walk-in vs. Email

My next two questions were, “Do I need a resume?” And, “Would you walk in to a publication and hand an editor your portfolio?”

Greg: “Nope.” so no and no.

Looks like I’ll be throwing away my envelopes with my “writing resume” that has absolutely no relevant experience on it, and my amazing articles that have never been published.

Newby mistake! I’m glad I held off on that idea.LJIZlzHgQ7WPSh5KVTCB_Typewriter

Editors don’t want your resume… especially if you have no experience. And they are way to busy to have time to talk to you face to face when you walk in to their office.

I actually just received an email today from “The Writer’s Life” that mentions the exact question I asked Greg next:

How do I get experience and writing samples? was the title of the email.

“At first glance, it may seem like a catch-22…

‘How will I get experience, if I don’t have a portfolio of samples to show prospective clients? And how will I get samples, if I can’t get any experience?’

Yet in reality it is just a misunderstanding many new writers have when getting started in this business…”

And it goes on to explain the same thing Greg said to me and the rest of the class: you don’t need experience. You just need an interesting hook and to demonstrate the ability to solve problems and achieve a particular goal.  If you can control the conversation then your experience is totally irrelevant. That is if the editor likes your pitch and responds to you.

So to wrap things up I leave you with my last Q&A with Greg:

“Would you recommend I shadow a journalist like yourself?”

Greg: “Yes sure you could, but it would basically consist of you watching me sit at my computer all day.”

Enough said.


Great class and great information. I’ll keep you posted on the details from my next class!

Happy writing!imagesFT8MWWC2

My journey to becoming a writer. Part two: I need some experience! How do you get experience?

Am I a writer? Can I call myself a writer now that I have a blog and started a novel?


I keep looking at my writing resume and thinking it’s not really that impressive. I’ve written some poetry and a few short stories but I’ve never actually written anything professionally. Apparently you can’t really make a living just by writing a few novels or just having a blog… so what can I do to make writing a career?

There are 3 main things I’ve learned through this process in becoming a writer:

You have to be very patient

Connecting with people is essential

And… Write what you know

So I’m writing what I know and I’m connecting with other people. Now what?

I still need some experience. I really want to write for a living, so I’ve decided that I should go and talk to some people at some of the local publishing companies around Victoria.

It wouldn’t hurt would it?

There are so many programs and courses out there and trust me I’ve signed up for a good handful but, I need a person to physically show the ropes. Sit me down and point it out. That’s the best way I learn. Every webinar and seminar I attend online teaches me the same key elements to begin a writing career:

1. Find your niche

2. Gather a following

3. Get your work out there

Bada bing bada boom right!?

Well that may take a while so I figure in the meantime I should do something more. I’m going to go to the local magazine publications and the newspapers and see if maybe they will hire me as a freelancer.journal Ok… ok I know that’s a big pipe dream with NO experience… BUT what if someone says yes 🙂

Even if I could just shadow a journalist for one day… call it an internship. That’s what I need.

I need a person who is doing what I WANT to be doing to show me how to do IT!!

I’ve got my not-so-great resumes ready to go with a few samples of my work and cover letters to boot… Let’s call it MY PORTFOLIO. What do you know… I never would have thought that I’d have a portfolio of my writing. A couple of articles about some great local establishments and a short travel story.

Maybe… just maybe… someone might like my work. These are just dreams right!?

Is it possible to make a living as a writer?


Well I am certainly going to try! In my journey to becoming a successful writer I have to try. Whatever it takes to get my name out there.

But first… I found a course at The University of Victoria in Writing and Literature:

Freelance Journalism in 2014.

“How do you get started as a freelancer? Do you work for free? Should you focus on websites or magazines? How do newspapers fit into things? What is the proper query etiquette? There are so many questions when you’re trying to navigate the wilderness of freelancing. This course will help you make sense of them all, while reviewing some of the basics of what makes good journalism. Learn tips on what editors want and how to keep editors coming back to you; learn how to avoid doing what makes editors run the other direction. Learn who you should be writing for, how to find your identity as a writer, how to deal with finances, and go over some basic journalism skills.”

Sounds perfect!!