Research isn’t Just for Work

As a digital journalist, I research a lot on line. The Internet is my basic resource since most everything on every subject is there. I do articles for pay and credit the Internet for much of the background information. But research isn’t just for work. I have personal interests that require many hours in cyberspace. It could be related to my favorite sports—getting player stats and scores—or other hobbies. I like how-to videos on YouTube and have used them extensively for DIY projects. It’s all there my friend. Just try any search engine and you will see the results. It doesn’t take long to be an expert on line. If you do it enough, you will understand the shortcuts and how to evaluate the material you retrieve. If it is really good, I print it out or archive it. I then have a repository of relevant articles. These are things that pertain to my on-going life.

They are also things that I use to tackle problems at home. For example, my water heater just stopped working. Just like that it conked out. I was irritated as I had the feeling it couldn’t be fixed. I saw a big expenditure looming on the horizon. I called a plumber and sure enough I was right. This old monster was never to heat water again. I had forgotten how old it was, just like my house. Water heater need replacing from time to time, even if it is after many years. It is an essential item so I was on the lookout for a replacement. The Internet once again was the resource and I found water heater reviews at the Home Water Center.

There are so many models on line that it is overwhelming. I couldn’t see the differences other than size, but the new ones are small and have digital readings. I did get a sense of a rough price estimate. I had my start but no conclusion. It was time to read the reviews and hoped that they were accurate and honest. This item would be delivered and then I would have to have it installed. I thought best to run my top choices by the plumber. What would he recommend? He said that water heaters had changed enormously over the last few decades and they are much improved. They save on utility bills now that they are so efficient. He showed me how to get a discount. This would help offset his fees for installation of the new unit. It all seemed perfectly planned.

I am now enjoying the luxury of a state-of-the-art water heater that works fast and seems never to run out of hot water. This is important for those of us who like steamy showers, and who doesn’t? My research paid off and shows how valuable it can be for non-work issues. In fact, I spend more time on line for practical purposes than for jobs. Who ever goes to a library these days? Now you don’t have to leave the couch.

What should I write about?

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This is one of those questions that you will ask yourself at the beginning of your writing journey. You will also probably ask yourself the very same question every day afterwards. The ‘what’ is perhaps the most important thing in terms of drawing content together. When you begin your digital journalism journey you will probably have thought about what kind of writer you want to be. After all, there are numerous writing styles out there and potential subjects that you could write about. Everybody needs a niche to some extent, even if that niche is quite broad. Many of the most successful bloggers or vloggers write or talk about a wide range of material under the banner of ‘lifestyle’.

So, you need to decide if you are specialising in a particular field. If you do indeed have a niche then you can begin to research that niche in detail and your articles or posts can be based broadly around that subject area. Online search engines are a great tool for an online journalist. You should particularly think about trying out the ‘news’ section of these search engines, as they will provide you with really interesting, often local, examples of topics. This might provide you with inspiration.

Personal experiences are usually the best thing to write about. After all, you know what has happened to you and what you think about it better than anybody else. Accounts of personal experiences tend to be popular with readers because they seem to be more engaging for some reason. Why not write about somebody you met or a place that you visited? If it links to a broader theme or something topical that is going on in the world at the time then all the better.

You should be careful not to overthink when you are considering what to write about. If you overthink then it is likely that you are going to have too much material to write about and end up writing an essay rather than something suitable for a piece of online journalism. It can be tempting to write longer pieces and some readers do enjoy going through them. However, these readers are likely to be a minority and you are much better off writing shorter pieces that people can engage with quickly and easily. People seem to have a very short attention span on the internet and it doesn’t really need to be said how much competition you have out there in terms of other writers vying for the attention of a wider readership. Keep it short and to the point and you are more likely to have success.

More than anything, write about stuff that you are passionate about. This will come across in your writing if you have a passion for the subject. Nobody wants to read something that is dull so why bother writing about it in the first place. A good writer should be able to make the driest topic interesting.

Be the Guinea Pig

I love to chronicle what happens in my life. You could say I am a digital journalist, but you do have to have a good story to tell. Sometimes it is about mundane things. Not every day is eventful, but some are. Not every experience should be shared, but many of life’s trials and tribulations can be useful for other. We all learn from the wealth of activity humans undergo. There is usually a moral or a point that help someone in a similar situation. My current tale has to do with home remedies for athlete’s foot. Why not use my experience and not start from scratch? If you have ever had this nasty fungus, you know what I mean. Let me help you so you don’t waste time on worthless remedies that cost a bundle on the Internet. While there is no miracle cure, there are things that do work to some extent. If not, then by all means by that athlete’s foot spray at the drugstore.

But you don’t have to. If you have certain ingredients at home, especially in the kitchen, you may well find you can make a cure for little to no cost. I tried three remedies in particular and watched for results. I had heard about these recipes, but I feel you have to experience something to write about it. The first remedy is a kind of formula of ingredients you mix together in the correct proportions. You use one part bleach to one part lemon juice to one part essential oil such as lavender or pine. I applied the room temperature mixture to the affected area and left it on overnight for three days. It was not working so I tried it for another five days. I got better results.

I wanted a remedy that wouldn’t take so long. I used a combination of alcohol, glycolic acid, and vegetable oil. After four days, I saw the athlete’s foot clear up. I was pretty pleased but I promised you three ways to cure this condition so here is the final one. You mix vitamin C oil, vitamin E oil, and a strong exfoliating cream. It also produced results so at this point I say take your pick. It is a matter of the smell you prefer and the availability and cost of the ingredients. I am sure there are other recipes online because athlete’s foot is such a common and annoying condition. A great majority of people experience it at one time or another. But you can see that it is easy to cure without going to the pharmacy. The point is to take action so the fungus doesn’t spread to other toes. It usually starts between the fourth and last toe and a crack in the skin that starts to peel. Then it gets worse and may ooze if you don’t attack it right out of the box. Do yourself a favor and remember my suggestions.

More than I Ever Needed to Know

I am a digital writer and I cover a lot of ground. I chronicle the activities of life, anything from clearing up toe fungus to renovating a bathroom. People do things themselves: it is a DIY world. I think this is because you can get ideas and instructions and how to material on almost any subject. It is quick and easy these days to get information. Maybe fixing up a bathroom requires special skills and you need to learn them or else get a plumber. You can, however, select your own toilet by looking at all the innovations on line. Toilets have come a long way baby and you can take your pick of shape, size, and functionality.

Toilets can be self-cleaning so you don’t have to labor over them every day. They can be hands free, sleek and modern, or retro in design. I am doing a feature right now on the new models. One of the oddest of course is the Japanese toilet that cleans you as well as itself. It has a spray mechanism that goes to obvious places. I suppose it is a health benefit and worth the cost. You can get a low-water unit that saves you money. Most people are now going this route. They don’t take much water to flush, plus they work faster and more efficiently. If you are renovating a home and want to go fancy, they still make toilets in colors to match your tub and sink. The seat is detachable and can be the same color or white. You can pick the type of metal used for the handle—again, to match your other fixtures. Large toilets seem luxurious but small ones take up minimal space. You have a lot of variables to consider before you set about looking and factoring in price.

I think it is great fun to remodel a bathroom. In the olden days, they used to be plain and simple with maybe some basic white tile. Now people want spa amenities and a sense of luxury. They feel that this is relaxing. The bathroom used to be purely functional, but now it is a substitute for the spa. People want Jacuzzi tubs with spray jets and they want special shower heads that are oversized and have various options for water disbursement. They go for an inlaid rock floor so the feet are massaged as you shower. They want to be engulfed by steam. They expect the same high standards for their toilet. It can’t be merely routine. They also want the attractive toilet paper holder to be close by. After all, we use a toilet several times a day. Why not make it a positive experience? If it looks good, it will matter.

There are many other factors when choosing a new toilet but these are the basics. You can make a list and see if you can match it perfectly to a particular model.

Best Appreciation “Award” Ever!

Sometimes things come your way that are a surprise. I will tell you about it. Life is great when this happens. It punctures the dull days with the unexpected and makes for a more exciting existence. It can be mundane as what happened to me. I feel compelled to write about a local hardware store in the neighborhood that I often frequent. I hope to help the owner who I know generate some new business. It is an editorial, not an advertisement, so it has more impact. People read such material for its credibility and objectivity. Thus it helps the particular business attract new customers. I am pleased to be able to use the power of words to help a friend.

The hardware store is a medium size business and is modern and up to date in inventory and appearance. It stocks a range of needed items so shoppers have choices of styles and prices. It is a functional space, clean and well organized. You can find what you need in minutes. The help is knowledgeable and can give advice. They will help you not only select the right tool or supplies but steer you in the right direction to execute your project. The owner is always there if more expert advice is required. You can’t go wrong in this store for any household or office need. You can get the tiniest things like nuts and bolts to larger items like a pole saw.

I am quite fascinated by a pole saw in that I don’t have one. I took a gander at close range and found one a cut above the rest, pun intended. It had a powerful 8-amp motor promising durability and performance. Plus, you get an eight -foot extension pole for ten feet of reach so you can have tool-less installation. It also boasts of a rotatable handle that makes trimming and pruning a cinch. Basically it is a chain tensioning system with an automatic oil pump and oil level indicator that lets you know when you are low.

What I like about a pole saw is that you don’t need to climb a ladder. You detach the pole after use and use the chainsaw part of the device to chop the fallen branches. I appreciate that this model is rather lightweight in spite of the power. You will avoid fatigue on log jobs. If you want a pole saw with multifunctional features, this one is for you. It is quick and convenient for most purposes.

Since I featured the saw in my article, and the store as a result sold several, they decided to show their thanks by giving me the one of my choice. I was of course super thrilled. I will make use of it in the yard shortly. Watch out neighbors. It is not for borrowing.

The Cost of Being a Digital Journalist

As a digital journalist, I have costs associated with my job just like anyone else who works from home. Of course, there is the computer, the tablet, the iPod, supplies, smart phone (latest model), phone bills, utility expenses, and more. There is the initial investment and ongoing upgrades and additions. It is pretty low cost as businesses go, but I always look for shortcuts. I use my phone a lot and initially got what I thought was a good data plan, but over time I have found this not to be the case. I run over every month and incur fees and charges. It was time to make a change. I found a better plan easily from a new mobile provider because the industry is so competitive. It takes some looking to decipher all the details about memory and data storage, etc. but it can be done.

I will also be looking at cutting costs by renting a room in my house to a suitable tenant. I want someone who is rather quiet and low key as I am often working through the day and also many evenings. When I get inspired to write, I want it to be possible on the spot. Another journalist might be a good idea. We can share space, although not equipment. I can do this for a short time to garner some funds with which I can do some remodeling in the office and add some new sound equipment. I have been wanting a home theater of modest sorts as well and maybe that will be possible. It is all because I am often home. Friends have to come over since I don’t always have time to go out. If I have an entertainment center, we can spend some no-work time. The tenant will allow me the option of a nice system. Why cut corners on something like this when there are other areas that are expendable.

Sure, the new mobile broadband plan for my mobile phone helps, but it isn’t enough. I have to get creative now if I want a new TV and surround sound system. This would be a treat and a luxury for someone like me. My home can be the focal point of activity in the neighborhood. I like the idea of attracting people to my abode. You can’t be too social, especially when you are often confined to home. I will need some advice about where to place it and what to include initially. I can add to it over time. You can spend a bundle so I will have to be judicious in my selections. I am about to go online as I always do when I need information and resources. I can ask the vendors as well and any friends or family with such a home theater set up. I am really looking forward to it. I love having saved money on my cell phone plan. It all goes into the pot for the new home theater.

Feast or Famine: Too Much or Too Little Work

You will soon find that, as a digital journalist,you will suffer from quite a significant problem. No, don’t worry; it isn’t some weird disease that only journalists are prone to. It is the problem of having too much or too little work.

It is the nature of the writing business that work tends to come in dribs and drabs. Depending on who your client base is or who your audience is, you might have a lot of work or you might not have very much. If you are doing a lot of work for free and rely on advertising for your income then it is not so much of a problem. This is because, depending on your subject, there is usually loads of material available to write about. You just need to get it down on the page and advertise it widely enough to make sure that your readership is sufficiently high to keep the advertisers happy. However, if you rely on piece by piece work, this is more of an issue.

Generally, clients have a habit of giving you lots of work at one time, but then you might not hear from them for several days, weeks or maybe even months afterwards. This is why it is important to have a range of different writing platforms and clients so that you should, in theory at least, always have someone to turn to for work. However, this also has its down sides. By having lots of potential clients, you open yourself up to having lots of potential work. Occasionally you will get several clients asking you to complete a task to a tight deadline at the same time. You know that you cannot possibly complete all of the tasks by the deadline and so you are going to have to say no to someone. This is incredibly frustrating, especially when you think of the times that you don’t have any work at all and you wish that someone would just give you something; anything! However, this is just the nature of the digital journalism journey. You need to realise that this is the reality.

It can be tough living through the times of the writing famine. It does happen and you should expect it. There are sites available where you can always find work. However, these don’t tend to pay you very well so you are probably going to have to work twice as hard. However, they are still worth having a look at to get through those times of literary famine.

The most important thing for you to do is to keep positive and make the most of those writing feast times. Rather like making a budget, it is always important to create a contingency fund. During those glut times of writing good times, remember to put a little money aside, to make sure you can get through the times of writing dearth.

The times of writing famine can however also be a good thing. You could use the time to look for new contacts, do some networking, work on non-online work, or catch up with other tasks that you have had to put to the side because you have been working so hard on your writing.

There are good sides and bad sides of everything. There are also times of work and times of play in life. Make the most of all of your time and keep positive and you will be absolutely fine.

How-To Journalism

I like to chronicle the comings and goings of life, however mundane. After all, the world is full of mundane experiences so we can all identify. For example, most of us have a kitchen sink with a faucet. Most faucets get pretty old. We tend to ignore them until they stop working entirely. They do corrode and get clogged, so there is a time when you need to install a new faucet. Most people want to upgrade to a more modern unit. You might want cold and hot water appendages. You might want a flexible model so you can move it around the area for better rinsing. You might want a water filter attachment or an extra-long neck so you can put large pans underneath for washing.

If you go to a hardware store or a fancy appliance depot, there are a lot to choose from to suit your needs and taste. Think about how you use a faucet and it will become an easy decision. Then there is the cost factor as well. For myself, I prefer to select a top-grade model and install it myself to save money on labor. If you check out YouTube, you will find multiple examples of explainer videos that provide how to instructions. As a digital journalist, I also suggest reading an instructional piece. I have written them on many subjects including installing faucets to educate my readers. I hope they are helpful and are the go to material to help do the job quickly and efficiently. I don’t suggest you go the trial and error route. You might get to a dead end. If the faucet is installed incorrectly, you may resort to a plumber to fix your bad handiwork.

So listen up. In my instructional piece I describe what tools you need to get ready in advance. I also include diagrams of the latest trend, pull down kitchen faucets in addition to the more traditional style models. I suggest that if you write similar documents, you include a variety of types so the reader doesn’t have to search and search for his or her particular faucet. Then you go step by step and guide the installer in making the connection with a wrench. There will be no welding involved. It usually screws on to an obvious place. It may take a little strength but most people can do it. In your writing, including tips and tricks that the reader should understand before starting.

Installing a faucet is not genius work like fixing a toilet might be. There are certain plumbing activities that take knowledge and skill. But not installing a faucet or shower head. That’s pretty routine. Any digital writer should learn to be comprehensive and clear. Don’t leave out any steps or the installer will run into trouble. The steps must be in th4e proper order as well. If you do it right, you will help many people with this task.

Your Blog and Your Digital Reputation

When you are a digital journalist you will almost certainly have a blog as your ‘shop window’. If you don’t already have a blog, you should think about getting one. They are seen as your front door in the digital journalism world. They are the ‘go to’ place for anyone who is considering commissioning your work who may want an idea of your writing style or the kinds of topics that you enjoy writing about.

Building a digital reputation is key, both in terms of attracting readers but also attracting clients. In many ways, the two are intrinsically linked. Clients are looking for work that can attract a wider readership to their site. Audiences are looking for high quality, readable material that can inform them, entertain them, educate them or engage them in some way. The more you are able to successfully engage your audience, the more your digital reputation will grow.

As well as making sure that your content is readable and engaging, you must make sure that there is nothing around on the Internet that could be used to smear your reputation. For example, you should never copy something from another person’s site and pass it off as your own work on your own blog. This has the potential of trashing your reputation very quickly. Further, if your blog is messy or looks unprofessional, your reputation is likely to be tarnished as well. A client who looks at a website that is a bit messy is less likely to hire the work of that person, when compared to somebody who has a professional looking, smart, ‘shop window’.

So, is it possible to build your reputation and, if yes, how do you go about doing that?

Apart from making sure your blog looks good and has great content there are a number of other ways that you can grow your reputation.

Firstly, be active on social media. Make yourself well known in the digital world. Try and carve out a niche and learn as much as possible about it. If you can earn a specialism then you will be surprised how much this gains you a reputation. Once you have this niche carved out, try to write about it regularly, building your reputation as somebody who knows their stuff.

Secondly, try and write on a wide range of different platforms. There are lots of online magazines and specialist sites out there. Try and get your work published widely on these platforms and always search for new avenues to publish your work.

Finally, get actively involved in the blogosphere and make informed comments on other people’s blogs. After a while you will see your own blog visitor numbers grow, as your reputation grows.

Learn Something New Every Day

I love it that I learn something new every day. It can be scintillating or mundane. I just add it to my storehouse of knowledge. Then I can pull something out of my hat so to speak when I have to write an article. Sure, I also do research, but it helps to have a little background on the subject. Right now I am on the practical track, writing about things in people’s homes. I look for innovation and technological advancement so it makes for more interesting reading. Other people want to learn something new, too. Right now fitness is very popular. The entire country is on a craze to lose weight, avoid obesity, and get healthy. Restaurants that serve heavy, fattening food are closing daily. It is all about fruits and vegetables, no to little meat, and low cal. There is a myriad of subjects within this realm. I think everyone is on the right track. What could be more timely and important? As the population ages, it becomes ever more important to stay fit. We restrict our intake to a certain number of calories a day and we expect to see results when we step on the bathroom scale.

So I am now into bathroom scales since it is an important part of the weight loss process. You use it daily so you want accuracy and optimum functionality. You wouldn’t want anything but a digital model. Some people like a scale that interfaces with the computer so they can store information on weight gain or loss over time. This is the epitome of the best bathroom scale. It is not enough to just see what you weigh today. You want the scale to guide you on your journey to your target. When on line, it will generate sites that discuss dieting and give surefire recipes. It may also steer you to vitamins and supplements that will boost the process.

No doubt you will want an attractive glass scale with a big screen so you can easily read the numbers. Sales are ultra-modern these days to accompany their technological aspects. Along with everything else in the bathroom, the scale should be like one in a spa. Bathrooms and appliances are no longer cutesy. They use high-grade materials and the latest trends that are sweeping the country. You want a scale that is your friend and will notify you when you are overweight and facing problems. They will signal a warning alarm when you approach obesity. Banish the thought! The scale has a special spot in the bathroom. I hope you have room next to the toilet or shower. It must be far enough from the wall to be able to step on easily. Of course, a tip is to weigh yourself after a morning bowel movement and with no clothes on. You will get higher numbers after dinner at night. Compare your scale to the one in your doctor’s office to make sure yours is accurate.

Just Write

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Just write. That’s what they always told me (by they I mean other writers who were way more experienced that I was when I first started out). The important thing to do when you sit down at your computer to start writing is to not think too hard about it, just churn out the words. After all, editing can come later; spell checking can come later; grammar checking can come later. Once you have an idea, you should roll with it and have confidence that your writing style and ability will carry you through to the other end.

When you are a freelance digital journalist, time is money, just like with any other job. With this in mind it is really important that you get through as many tasks in one day as possible. If you don’t get words down on paper then there won’t be any payment, and if there isn’t any payment then the bills cannot be paid. If you already have work lined up for the day, then get on and do it. If you don’t have any work then you are going to have to spend some time looking for it. This usually isn’t too difficult though, and once you have built up a solid client base, you can send round some emails or messages to see if anybody has any work. More often than not, somebody will have something for you.

You may have heard of a thing called writers block. This is a real thing and sometimes, the words just don’t flow. You can have a really good idea of what you want to write in your head, but you just can’t get it down on the page. Alternatively, you might not be able to think about the idea at all and really struggle to get motivated. This is ok and all writers go through it at some point. However, often the best way of getting through it is to just write. It doesn’t necessarily matter what it is about, you just need to get something down. It is always worth having a few tasks on the go at any one time that you can return to when you are struggling with one. We all have tasks that we prefer to do above others. The trick with being a freelance writer is to not waste any time, or at least as little time as possible. Even if you are working on something else unrelated to what you feel you should be doing, it is technically not wasted time because you are still writing.

So, in conclusion, when you get up in the morning, you need to get into the routine of writing. It can take a bit of time to realise that it is now your day job and it is your daily duty to get out there on the internet and write articles. However, you need to get into a routine of writing. Just write, and don’t look back. When you get to the end of the day and you look back at what you have achieved, you will feel good. Then you can go to bed and afterwards, get out of bed and do the whole thing again! It should be what you enjoy doing so it shouldn’t be a chore. Writing is what you are good at – so just write!