Living Rhetorically in the Real World A blog about freelancing, writing, editing, business & social media.


Reader Questions: “I want to get into the editing field. Where should I start?”

Posted by Sagan

I recently received an email from someone who is new to editing and wants to start freelancing. They were hoping I could provide some advice - and you know me; I love sharing what I've learned (and learning new things from others, too!).

A professional freelance editor's response to the question, "how can I become an editor?"

The question:

I am just wondering if you would be willing to provide some guidance to a newbie in the freelance editing field. Where would you suggest I might start out looking for editing work?

My answer:

Congratulations on your shift into freelancing! As far as where you should start, it really depends on what your background is (including your education and experience in this field), as well as what direction you want to go in as a freelancer (for example, if you want to focus on a specific niche or genre).I'd recommend checking in your local area, particularly among friends and family, for work to start with to build up your portfolio (such as with a community newsletter or proofreading a friend's website). There's also certainly work through online freelancing platforms, and those sites can be a good way to establish your online presence, although they often don't pay very well. The nice things about those types of websites is that they give you the opportunity to edit in a variety of different genres, which can help you figure out the direction you want to take your editing business in.

Of course, I strongly recommend you take a couple courses in editing if you don't already have some educational background (after all, the skill of editing is a fundamental part of this job!). Ideally, getting the courses at a university or through a professional body like the Editors' Association of Canada would be the most valuable.

I'll actually be releasing an e-book on this topic in the new year, so I'll keep you posted once it's published as it could be a useful resource for you.

Hope this helps, and best of luck!

how to be a freelancer

If you would like me to keep you posted when my book is published, shoot me an e-mail at (or let me know in the comments section below) and I will be sure to do so! You can also stay tuned here, because I will blog all about it when it is published :)

If you're a freelancer, is there anything else you would share with the above reader? Did I miss anything here that you would add? If you're interested in becoming a freelancer or starting a small business, do you have any questions of your own that you would like answered? Share in the comments section below!


How to Find Inspiration as a Writer

Posted by Sagan

NaNoWriMo has come and gone, but if you're still looking for inspiration for your writing, look no further! These five tips for getting inspired to write will help you come up with new story ideas (or refresh a current story you're working on):

5 tips for getting inspired

1) Get outside for some fresh air. Take a little notebook and a camera with you and get outside for a walk. Snap a photo of anything you see which is pretty, interesting, or captivates you in some way. Stop to sit down at a bench and jot down ideas or passages as they come to you. You can even carry a tape recorder (or, you know, use the recording device on your smartphone ;)) to go with stream of consciousness and say aloud whatever comes to you.

2) Read a great book. There is so much inspiration to be found within the pages of a good book.

3) Take a trip to the art gallery. Check out some masterpieces at a local art gallery, from oil paintings to sculptures to engravings to sketches. You might just come up with the next Girl with a Pearl Earring!

4) Listen to instrumental music. Think of an epic movie soundtrack, for example. You can also listen to music with words, if the crescendos and rhythms are commanding enough that you can write with the music as a background piece rather than it drawing your attention (every time I listen to Muse, I'm struck at how well they've achieved this balance).

5) Have a conversation with someone you love talking to. It always amazes me at how much inspiration I can get from having a really great conversation. Sometimes the inspiration will come out of a normal, everyday conversation that has nothing to do with my book idea, and other times, it really helps to have a deliberate brainstorming session (or to just get someone to ask you questions about what they want to know about your story).

Where do you find inspiration for your writing? What inspires you? Is there anything you would add to this list? Share in the comments section below!


What Should an Online Article Cost?

Posted by Sagan

Some of you might find the below infographic interesting! I'd love to know your thoughts: what do you think an online article should cost?

Personally I tend to feel that around $100 / article is the "sweet spot," but it certainly depends on a variety of factors (including things like the writer's background education and experience, if we're talking American dollar or Canadian dollar, the subject matter of the article, the number of rounds of writing required, and more).

Share what YOU think in the comments section below!

Copywriting Infographic - How Much Should an Online Article Cost?
Like this infographic? Get more online marketing tips from Expand2Web.


Five Tips for Managing Your Blog(s)

Posted by Sagan

I started my health blog in 2008, this communications blog in 2009, my food diary blog in 2010, and my fashion blog in 2013. Blogs can be a great deal of fun and an awesome way to share and connect with, and learn from others. That being said, sometimes it can be tricky to actually manage your blog(s)!

learn how to manage your blogs with ease

Blog management might be one of the most challenging things a blogger faces. If things come up in your life that prevent you from blogging, or if you just aren't in the mood for writing, or if you are stumped for ideas, it can be really tricky to maintain your blog. This is one of the major reasons why so many blogs fade away.

However, there are ways that you can manage and maintain your blog!

Here are my best tips for blog management:

1) Understand what you want from your blog. You don't need to have a formal blog mission statement, necessarily, but understanding what you want your blog to be and what you want to get out if it is definitely an important place to start! If you have a purpose behind your blog, you will be that much better able to constructively figure out what makes the most sense to write about.

And don't worry if your blog changes and evolves as you do! This particular blog started out as a way to document what I learned in my rhetoric courses, and now it's much more focused on freelancing, small business tips, and social media tips.

2) Plan ahead as much as possible. As I write this, it's November 11. However, I won't be scheduling it to publish until December. Since I started writing six days each week between my three main blogs (Living Healthy, Living Fashionably, and Living Rhetorically), I've definitely needed to have a good idea of what at least the next two weeks would entail, and have the bulk of those articles written in advance. You never know when things come up or when you won't get the chance to blog, so it's helpful to prepare in advance.

3) Have several lists of ideas. Creativity can strike at any moment. This is why it's good to have a running list of ideas as they come to you, even if you can't actually write the blog post at that exact moment. I have a list of ideas on my iPhone (in case ideas come to me as I'm out and about), as well as an Excel spreadsheet with different tabs for different blogs---I also keep separate lists for "ongoing types of blog posts" and "specific ideas."

4) Consider some structure. This might work for you, and it might not, but it's what works for me: I like having some kind of structure (however broad that might be!) so that I know what types of things I want to write about. For example, providing tips and how-to articles on this blog every Wednesday, and a re-cap of my week as a freelancer (or interesting ideas, quotes, and FAQs) every Saturday, enables me to better consider what would be a good fit for the blog.

5) Enjoy your blog. This is extremely important! If your blog feels like a chore, this is a good time to figure out what you're doing wrong. Everyone likes different aspects of blogging, so whether you prefer focusing on the writing, the design element, the marketing, etc., take some time to continue working on that. Connect with the bigger blogging community---the community is one of the best parts about blogging! Your blog will only get better and better the more that you enjoy it and the more pride you take in it and care you put into it.

Want to read more blogging tips? Check out some of my past articles:

What are some of your best tips for managing and maintaining a blog? Got any questions about blog management? Share in the comments section below!


Books I’m Reading

Posted by Sagan

I've been spending nearly all of my spare time reading, the past few weeks. Partly this is because I realized I wasn't reading nearly as much as I wanted to (Netflix is a glorious and dangerous creature), and partly this is because I received a belated birthday gift of a pile of books (squee!), and had the opportunity to borrow a few books from friends.

a few great books to read

Consequently, I've become a reading machine in my spare time. This has also had a nice roundabout effect where I've been writing much more too. Win-win!

Here are the books I've been reading lately:

  • The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. I just finished reading these books at a rate of one every two days. They are so addictive! Cassandra Clare's writing style is better than that of, say, Stephanie Meyer or Suzanne Collins (I mean, Clare isn't the best writer ever, but her writing is certainly decent)---but what really intrigues me about her style is that there are very few pauses in her books, even from one book to the next. You are always reading more because the action never stops, and even though you can make a pretty good guess about what will happen next, it's still gripping. It wasn't until the end of the third book that I felt there was an actual pausing point and I could wait until the next day before starting the fourth book. If you like Young Adult novels, make sure you have time set aside to read the entire series over the course of a week. This has easily become my favorite YA series.
  • What is Stephen Harper Reading? by Yann Martel. Yann Martel is an amazing writer. And I really like the concept of this book, which is a collection of letters he wrote to Stephen Harper---Martel has sent the prime minister a book every two weeks for years, along with a letter explaining why he sent the book, and this particular book is a compilation of those letters. It's a must-read! He writes so elegantly (and it's also fun to see what kinds of books he recommends!).
  • The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us by James W. Pennebaker. This is such a cool book. I first heard about it through the Editors' Association of Canada, and it immediately went on my must-read list! I haven't read very much of it yet, but I already love it. My old rhetoric professors would go crazy for this book! And as Pennebaker notes, "Words, in my world, are a window into the inner workings of people, a fascinating and revealing way to think about language and its links to the world around us all." To me, this sums up rhetoric very nicely. When I was getting my degree, the majority of my classes were around examining and analyzing the language we use and thinking critically about how we communicate and what that says about us. This book is kind of like my degree, wrapped up neatly in 300+ pages. And Pennebaker is a funny and engaging writer, too (I laughed out loud at this line: "I won't tell you the findings now because it would ruin the thrill of chapter 3."

Want to see what other books I've read in the past? Check out my monthly book lists from a couple years ago!

What books are you reading? Do you have a strange obsession with YA novels like I do? Which author's writing style do you adore? Share in the comments section below!