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When I first started my business, I was afraid of so many things. As a lifelong cubicle farm resident, I was used to being told what to do and when to do it. I misinterpreted my constant desire to be insubordinate as a character flaw. Now I know I was just a frustrated entrepreneur. But I was still afraid. When you've worked for someone else from the age of 14 to the age of 44, that is serious indoctrination. I didn't know if I would or could get clients (Newsflash - there ARE clients, and lots of them). I didn't know if they would like my work (some do, some don't, that's life). I didn't know if I would ever be able to charge what I needed to charge to survive (that's another post). And I didn't want to network. I didn't want to show up to functions and hand out a business card, making it seem as though I regarded every opportunity as an excuse to ask for work. Duh, Patty. That's why there are networking groups.

When anyone asks me now how to start a business or what I did to get started, the first thing I say is join a networking group. Even before you've had your business cards printed. I also say read Napoleon Hill, Jim Rohn, James Altucher and all the classics, of course, but nothing beats good old fashioned networking. Joining one or more business groups where everyone knows what to expect and everyone has the same goals is critical. Networking groups give you the kind of business confidence that would cost you thousands of dollars in a seminar setting. People in a networking group are friendly and welcoming and yes, they'll take your business card (or a piece of paper with your name and number on it) and ask you what you do. They will wonder if somehow their business can fill a need in your business and then their wheels will turn and they will try to figure out if they know someone who can help you or give you business. You can actually see their brains working on all of these issues at once. It's a beautiful thing. It's not a sleazy, salesy, creepy thing, it's the way business works.

As a female entrepreneur, I looked for networking groups that included a large number of women business owners. The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) changed my life, my business and yes, that is a plug for NAWBO. There are many other such groups, filled with interesting, intelligent, kind and successful businesswomen and businessmen who will help you if you only let them. All of them are good, including Rotary and your local Chamber of Commerce. Remember what I said about business confidence? When you've been networking for a year or two, you will see that it really is all about connecting, and you never know how or where a connection will be formed. You'll get so good at your elevator pitch, you can pitch to anyone at any time, and it doesn't feel yucky. You'll be able to put people together in your mind in about 2.5 seconds, because that is how your brain works now. Maybe you'll get business, maybe you won't, it really doesn't matter. So find a networking meeting to attend this week. I'll bet there will be a lot of interesting people there. Don't talk yourself out of it because you have to go alone, get going. You won't regret it.

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When I first started my copywriting business, I looked askance at social media. I found facebook annoying with the constant meaningless status updates, couldn't figure out what to Tweet about and didn't know how to approach networking through Linkedin. I didn't see the value of many social media sites for small business - they all seemed purely social. The last several months I have spent trying to build a portfolio of my work (so I can get more work!) and now I'm ready to internet market. Well, we all know what that means. I've cut myself a very generous slice of humble pie, which sadly doesn't taste as good as regular pie, but I will eat it. I have seen social media develop into a force to be reckoned with and admired, and an essential...

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Many business owners are hesitant to outsource any writing they may require. Frequently, decision makers feel they can do it all themselves without the extra expense of hiring a professional writer. The problem with this point of view shows itself quickly as soon as they begin the actual work of writing. In today's business world, small business and big business alike, consumers, clients and customers want websites filled with interesting and updated content, blogs with pithy posts and compelling creative marketing campaigns. In short, consumers want to be captivated, constantly. When a business owner, or in the case of a larger firm, a staff member, takes on the task of writing for the company, the realization of the amount of time required and the level of difficulty render the undertaking overwhelming. The result is a website that doesn't stay current, social media that is not followed, tweeted about or liked and twice yearly blog posts.

So the next time you or someone you know needs quality writing on a regular basis, or a project that needs a professional touch, consider hiring a freelance copywriter, you won't regret it and your customers will thank you!

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Technology has brought with it so many uber-amazing advancements, I find myself in constant awe of the latest app or opportunity. It's also brought texting while driving, mass distribution of mis-information, auto-correct and a collectively clogged social filter, but the good with the bad and all the rest of it. The writer's life is notoriously solitary and whether you have an inkpot or an iPad, nothing will ever change the fact that you have to write to be a writer. However, it's comforting to plug into, as often as necessary, the magnanimous writing community available for support and encouragement. There are so many writers out in cyberspace trying to get a freelance job and make a living, it would seem naive to see them all as allies, but that's exactly what they are. From story ideas to job leads, the writing community shares it all. Of course there is money to be made by selling an article-writing ebook, but there is a wealth of information that is available for free, and even if you do end up paying for something that you feel will help your freelance business, that's part of the cost of doing business. The bottom line is that writers want to encourage other writers to do what they love; writers want to help other writers.

Sites such as mediabistro.com, freelancewritinggigs.com, aboutfreelancewriting.com, freelancewriteresden.com and fundsforwriters.com, all provide a powerful springboard to finding a way to get paid for writing and excellent articles and posts. These are not content mills, these are legitimate leads and valuable tips. It genuinely warms the heart to know that we're all in this together. I'm proud to be an American writer.

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This January I am excited and inspired for the year ahead. I have actually done something this year that I have never done before (thanks to all of the business videos I've been using to procrastinate). But seriously, even though I have been watching more than my share of business how-to, why-to and do-nows, I can feel already that I won't regret spending that precious time taking in their messages. They are starting to pay off already. I have actually spent a fair amount of time goal setting, but not just nebulous goal setting. I wrote down my goals for this year in very specific terms. I included sub-goals, timelines and action plans. That is something I can safely say I have NEVER done before. I feel the catalyst for this, at least for me, is owning my own business. Being able to do what I love, that is write of course (!), and build a business around it, is a joy that is real, amazing and utterly satisfying. It helps me get through the days when I'm struggling to make a deadline, worrying about getting or keeping clients and cursing the demon writer's block. Minute by minute, being a business owner entices me to do something, anything, to help reach my goals. It's my American Dream. So, along with the requisite 20 lb. weight loss, daily exercise pipe dream and parenting with love and logic (instead of tears and insanity), that precious document titled 2013 Goals will be my source of promise in this new year. I hope your 2013 is filled with peace, joy, love and success.

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