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A Year of Projects
by Melissa Mayntz

Building a successful writing career takes time, as any writer who has sent off a few queries and garnered a few rejections knows. The best writers work on more than writing to maximize their exposure to potential markets and their confidence in their writing abilities. Small steps, one taken every month, can help you be a more successful, satisfied, and profitable writer by the end of the year.

January: Build a Website
If you don't have a website, register a professional domain (your name is your best marketing tool and frequently the best URL) and put up a simple page with your writing credentials, sample clips, and other relevant information. If you already have a site, consider upgrading to a professional design or adding more content to attract visitors.

February: Buy Business Cards
Professional business cards can be a powerful tool. Offer one every time you meet with a client, enclose one in every mailed query letter, and give one to every interview subject. Carry extra cards at all times to take advantage of any opportunity to promote yourself as a writer.

March: Try Social Networking
Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are more than ways to reconnect with lost friends or distant relatives. Create new accounts to showcase yourself as a writer, and use them to connect with other writers, editors, publishers, and potential clients. Stay professional on these accounts, and use them as an interactive platform to promote yourself as a writer.

April: Get Local
Frustrated writers are discouraged by repeated rejections from national publications, but if you investigate local opportunities through daily or weekly newspapers and regional magazines, you can see much more success. Use your intimate local knowledge to build clips from local publications, which you can use as a springboard to more widespread and higher paying markets.

May: Attend a Writing Conference
Find a writing conference that suits your genre and make plans to attend. Investigate the available workshops and networking opportunities each conference offers, and consider entering conference contests or critique sessions to make the most of the experience.

June: Take a Class
School may be out for the summer, but community education programs are available in a variety of topics. Find a writing class to sharpen your skills, or experiment with a new class that can offer inspiration for topics to write about. If your community education program has openings, you might even consider teaching a class.

July: Learn Photography
Summer is filled with photogenic moments, so buy a good digital camera and learn to use it properly. Many freelance markets prefer writers who can supply photographs to accompany their work (this is particularly useful for those local markets you started querying in April), and adding photos to your articles can lead to higher pay rates.

August: Enter a Contest
You've now had seven months to enhance your writing — take it out for a spin in a few contests. Many contests are available for previously published work, or you can investigate contests in different types of writing that will stretch your typing fingers. This can lead to more exposure for your writing and feedback from impartial sources.

September: Start a Blog
Start a blog to showcase your writing or to establish yourself as an expert on a particular topic. Update the blog at least twice weekly to give yourself plenty of practice with self disciplined deadlines and online writing techniques.

October: Recycle Writing
Choose at least one article that has been successfully published and look for a new market to sell it as a reprint. If you don't have material available for reprints, rework a rejected piece and submit it to a new market.

November: NaNoWriMo
Even if you don't write fiction, National Novel Writing Month can help you sharpen your writing skills and may lead to a new type of writing you enjoy. If you don't want to write fiction, use the month's 50,000 word goal to push up your freelance writing productivity.

December: Send Holiday Cards
Send professional holiday greeting cards to all your editors and clients. This is a great way to remind them of your writing services without a blatant advertisement, and it can help you establish stronger networking ties to good markets and clients.

By tackling one new project to enhance your writing every month, by the end of the year your writing career will be more advanced and hopefully more profitable.

© Copyright 2011, Melissa Mayntz

Melissa Mayntz is a freelance writer and editor from Utah. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and websites, including About.com, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, ByLine Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, the Orlando Sentinel, LoveToKnow.com, and WritersWeekly. She has edited more than 20 fiction and non-fiction manuscripts for publishers and independent writers; for current project rates and additional details, visit www.MelissaMayntz.com.

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