It's all about the STORY!

Posts tagged ‘publishing’

Links to my former weekly column

The weekly column that I was assigned to was on “caregivers,” and the editor and I chose to use that term very broadly. Here are the articles I wrote for that column…

[This column was syndicated throughout several communities in Florida]

Another sampling of freelance articles

I have two primary publications where my work can be found regularly, beginning with SaintPetersBlog, which is a first-rate St. Petersburg-based blog that covers government and politics in the city and county and even federal levels with a huge emphasis on state. Primarily, I lend a hand with city and county coverage. You’ll see quite a few articles that I’ve had published on SaintPetersBlog also placed here on my personal blog. Sometimes I post previews, insights, updates or unedited drafts here for a different view–mine. Here’s a sample of my most recent work:

  • An interview with Pinellas County Sheriff’s candidate Scott Swope — I was surprised to learn about what a strong candidate Swope was during this interview. Unfortunately, the buzz is true: he’s not getting the media coverage he deserves. Hopefully, this article helps some. Tampa Bay Times, it’s your turn!
  • An Interview with Pinellas County Commissioner Kenneth Welch — I’m biased. As far as politicians go, Ken is certainly one of my favorites. I’d have a hard time finding a politico that is more accessible to his constituents, more likely to roll up his sleeves and work for causes and issues he believes in, and more outspoken to raise issues important to the community he represents. Thanks, Ken.
  • A conversation with County Commissioner Neil Brickfield — Funny story. I had been doing so many interviews on candidates for Pinellas County School Board, even knowing full-well that Brickfield was a county commissioner, I had it in my head that he was running for school board when I called him. Genuinely puzzled about why a commissioner would want to run for school board, he answered by nearly choking on the water he was sipping, assuring me that he was not. Commissioner is his spot of choice–of which I was greatly relieved, personally pleased with the work he does there…
  • Profile of Pinellas County School Board Candidate Jim Jackson –What a great conversation! Talking to this guy for the first time was like talking to a long-lost friend, who is really smart with solid priorites and solutions for our youth and education.
  • A conversation with Pinellas County School Board candidate Rene Flowers –I spent the evening with Rene Flowers that turned out to be profound beyond words. I joined her to hear school children, young girls, read essays about black on black crime. I heard these youths talk about loved ones and family members killed and incarcerated as though it were a normal occurrence for families. Some found it hard to identify that black on black crime actually affected them much even as tears streamed down their faces. What was more profound was the incredible talent these children displayed–in their writing and in their speaking. I am still blown away. Oh, and Flowers was remarkable as well, but she was certainly upstaged that evening. She was meant to be.

The other place that my work appears regularly is on the iLovetheBurg blog. What was intended to be a brief 3-week gig has turned into a summer job, at least. I’m happy to be working with these guys who have a great passion for St. Pete and keep their fingers on the pulse of the cool things that keep the town beating. A previous post has a few of these story links–here are a couple more…

  • Proving solar can be affordable –Farias Marketing Group is committed to leading St. Pete into a genuine position as a “Green City.” Here’s just one example fo the work they are doing. NOTE: Some of the copyediting was a little rough, making a few choppy sentences and transitions, but the story is still there.
  • Snapshots: Mark Sforzini of the St. Petersburg Opera –LOVED THIS! Okay, I have to. I’m a former professional classical singer, and this opera company here in St. Pete is magical. What they can do with a small budget and a small but beautiful space (The Palladium) is extraordinary.
  • BONUS: Mark Sforzini –Here is the link to the unedited copy of the article above along with the transcript of the full interview

Daphne’s List of 7 – Tips for starting freelance writing

I’ve received a lot of requests lately–people wanting me to give them leads to start freelance writing. Truthfully, there are some really credible books out there on the subject, some even targeted towards the niche of writing you would like to do: (or just do an book search on “freelance writing, and take note of the various dropdown options for a more specialized search).

Here are some tips that might help you should you decide to begin freelance writing:

  1. Electronic versions of writing samples–develop a blog. WordPress and Typepad are two platforms that I’d recommend highly. Be certain to use categories so that people can easily find various subjects that you may have experience with (e.g. movie critiques, food, travel, politics, economics, celebrities, community profiles, local issues, etc.). If you do other types of freelance writing, have those categories listed with samples also, such as copywriting, press releases, business plans, reports, analytics, etc. If they have been published elsewhere (big bonus), be sure to cite that and include the link or details of the publication. Also, be certain to have both MS Word and PDF versions of your sample copies available to send as attachments in emails and to print to have in a hardcopy portfolio.
  2. Keep writing–even if you don’t have someone else to publish your stuff yet, write and post it on your own blog. Develop and cover stories, craft articles, conduct interviews, delve into citizen journalism. Be certain to always cover unique and compelling angles to stories. If you’re freelance writing for other types of media such as brochures, press releases and business plans, do the same thing. Keep writing, and keep putting yourself out there.
  3. Get published–this is the only way to truly build your credibility. What being published says is that someone else thought enough about your work to spread it around under their name. Often times it even means that they thought enough of your work to pay you for the opportunity to spread it around under their name. Even if it’s just a blog or community newspaper that won’t pay you for your work, it’s a start. You get a byline. and are two such places you might try, depending on your subject matter. Again, if you’re doing more business-oriented writing, then vs. getting published, get clients. Volunteer to do work for free for nonprofits you like. Get noticed, network and begin building a reputation if you don’t already have one.
  4. Get work–query article ideas to publishers that cover topics that align with your niche. Send a link of sample writing to blogs and such that you read regularly, and ask if they would be interested in a freelance article from you. Scan through Craigslist and similar sites that post jobs and gigs for writers–you’ll find a lot of garbage, but there’s quite a bit of legit stuff there, too. Similar for business writing freelancing. Put yourself out there, and hunt for opportunities. Oh, and network. Talk to people–real, live people. Tell them about you and what you do and what you want (a very quick elevator pitch). Be friendly and generous, and you find others will be friendly and generous in return.
  5. Build credibility and branding–be the go-to person not only for your clients and potential clients but also for others in your field. Blog not only what you write but also about your writing and the business of it all. Develop a following and a network of colleagues. Pitch joint projects to share specialties and resources. Give freely of ideas and innovations–you might think you’re going to give too much–do give too much. You will cash in on the bigger picture, being the source of all of those great ideas and innovations. Your reputation as the go-to person will grow, and you will be noted as an “expert” in your field.
  6. Be in demand–once you’ve been published for a steady amount of time, you will begin demanding increased pay for your work, provided you’re actually worth it. So do always keep working to improve your craft, and listen carefully to constructive criticism and feedback. You may not always like or agree with it, but it’s invaluable stuff. Always ask for it. You might learn something that will supercharge your work and take it to big places. Also, read. Read everything, and study how the big players do your job. Once your demand builds, and so too will your  pay, be very delicate when you have to shed your lower paying gigs to have room to take on higher paying ones. Remember the hands that helped you to grow. No one likes an ingrate, and it can bite you hard later on. Offer to continue giving them some articles once in a while for good measure. Keep doors open and relationships positive. Mend those that have been damaged as possible as much as possible. This too will influence your reputation and build your overall demand.
  7. Stay hungry–keeping your operation lean and mean no matter how much or how little cash comes in the door, it will serve you well to avoid getting jaded. Not about the subject-matter and not about the business. Continue to crave, be imaginative and stay curious–stay hungry. This way, there is little chance you will soon become irrelevant.

I’ve spent 11 years writing in the nonprofit and for profit business environment, and I am a communications junkie. I had a mentor throughout much of this time who helped me develop a reputation within certain circles in the community that have greatly helped my success in freelancing. Not only those individuals, but knowing how to network and build and sustain those relationships have proved to be a critical tool. Therefore, I had an advantage when I made the leap from full-time employee to full-time freelancer–an advantage not many others have.

I also was not hesitant to take on a small overnight job that allowed me time to write on shift to help with cashflow during slow times and also to build a little savings to get me through future slow times. And, there will be slow times. I also have to take balance very seriously–balancing time for play, sleep, wellness, deadlines, self-promotion and hunting for the next big opportunity.

Freelance writing for a living isn’t for everyone–it’s a full-time job x 2. Possibly more when you first get started, just like any small business entrepreneur. You are an army of one, so must make time for all of the needs of the one, or you will burn out and ultimately fail in some definition of that word. And, still, that’s okay. Failure is the greatest teacher if you allow her to be. So, if you bite it on a deadline or two, or you bomb a story or things just don’t work out–it’s okay. Do an autopsy of the situation–find out what went wrong, then, learn from it.

You’ll get better… and that’s success.

St. Petersburg, Florida–City government sets goals, but actions will speak louder than words

This is my first publication in my new affiliation with SaintPetersBlog: a well-respected political blog in St. Petersburg, Florida. This first post is my introduction to the local political sphere. A getting-to-know-you type post, making use of my small introductions to a few local politicos such as the Mayor of St. Petersburg, Bill Foster; St. Petersburg Police Chief Harmon and a couple of City Council representatives. I also have had significant professional relationships over the years through my workings in the nonprofit sector with other branches of the city government. These relationships I continue to value and hope to continue to foster as mutually beneficial ones through my ongoing work communicating on locla politics.

Anyway, I’ve said all of this to introduce you to my very first political blog post. I have had the privilege of speaking with some of our city’s leadership, of whom I genuinely respect. I do not always agree with them. I may sometimes wish things were different and that they would have dealt with issues differently, but I believe, truly believe that these individuals do bring a level of integrity and accountability to their local community that does demonstrate strength in leadership to our city. And I am grateful for their contributions. What this also means is that I expect much from them. As I expect much from this city of my birth. And I will work with the community to voice our appreciation and concerns in concert and will hold these leaders accountable. For more than praise, high expectations are the greatest compliment, and criticism is critical to this end. Therefore, as I introduce this article to you, the people… the locals, the tourist and those considering to be locals or tourists, I urge you to communicate your thoughts with me. Together we can help these leaders in strengthening our community and increase transparency and accountability.

Here is the link to the post where I list the St. Petersburg City Council’s goals for the year and provide a little insight as to what some of these goals entail through the eyes of our local leadership:

St. Petersburg City Council met yesterday, January 12, which marked the first City Council meeting of District 1 elected Councilman Charlie Gerdes. I had the opportunity to speak with Councilman Gerdes that evening during the Mayor’s Night Outevent, hosted in the Councilman’s district at the J.W. Cate Center.

Gerdes expressed that he was genuinely optimistic despite many challenges ahead for the city. In addition to the City Council meeting held that morning, Council Members participated in a goal-setting session later in the day where several initiatives were put to the forefront of concerns that the Council intends to address in the year.

These goals include: 1) public safety; 2) job creation and economic development; 3) codes enforcement, emphasizing neighborhood association support; 4) the new Pier and St. Petersburg waterfront district; and 5) homeless initiatives.

. . .

Some ideas and plans are on the table to address some of the goals determined by City Council, but funding some of the ideas still needs to be secured along with consensus and implementation to see them come to fruition. Action always speaks louder than words, and St. Petersburg needs to see much more action to believe the many good words.

eBooks: An Exciting Emerging Communications Tool & Profitable

iPad, Nook, Kindle and several other formats of eBooks are taking the publishing industry by storm and turning the tables for self-publishers. As most business people know, developing and sustaining profitable intellectual property/passive income is the single most important investment, I recommend creating eBooks. Here are some industries that can benefit off the top:

  1. Restaurants: develop and publish cook books to promote your restaurant and help brand its cuisine. Include historical notations of the restaurant or amusing/entertaining stories about its staff and guests. It can have lots of graphics or just a few to highlight the best your publication has to offer. Selling this will not only remind people to be excited about your food, but it will also broaden your market reach, helping to target tourists and media.
  2. Artists: Do you paint, sculpt, work with metal, wood, glass, beads or t-shirts… no matter your medium or how high-quality or grassroots, creating an eBook will greatly increase your exposure in your community and to new markets. From your brainstorming and creative process to the beginning stages and mistakes and mishaps to the grand creations, you can document whatever story you find compelling to tell your audiences. Lure them into the tale of your creations.
  3. Performing Arts: Do you dance, sing, act, perform spoken word? This medium is for you. Collect a photographic profile to portray your experiences and the process of creation. Tell a story about you and your art. If you don’t write, hire a ghost writer (like me)–many won’t charge as much as you might fear (like me), though some will. Use this to gain exposure and increase your brand for audiences and prospective patrons and directors.
  4. Nonprofits: Your role as a visionary professional is critical to your community. You change the landscape of your community by the services, advocacy and philanthropy you offer. Tell your story. Let your public know that you are often a silent and overlooked thread in the fiber holding their community together. Use this to help educate the community on your importance and to assist in cultivating donors and underwriters that see your value, perhaps from a very different perspective, perhaps for the very first time.
  5. Small Businesses: You are our community’s heroes! You are symbols of overcoming odds and surviving through tough times and succeeding through determination, creativity and hope. Your story is an inspiration! Tell it. Share it. Remind your public that you are here, serving them and need their patronage to stay alive.
  6. Bigger Businesses: Often you began as a small business or a great idea or invention that rose to the top. You dared to dream big and made that dream come true. You employ hundreds, even thousands of people and provide goods and services that consumers and other businesses or even our government counts on to live and thrive. Your story is about strength and dedication and growth. Remind your public that the seed of where you began has only made you larger not heartless. Tell your tale.
  7. Museums: You are of and for your community. Remind them. Remind your community about your history, what you have to offer, where you are headed. Remind your community that your doors are open wide to welcome them and their families. That there are no barriers regarding race, gender, creed, socio-economic status–you are here for all. Your story is critical to the prosperity and preservation of your community’s history, arts, dreams and innovations. What you truly curate is culture, and you are open to everyone.

You don’t need to do it alone. Hire a freelance writer, photographer, graphic artist and/or a consultant to assist. A consultant (like me) can coordinate all the talent and expertise you need to get your eBook developed, converted to the various digital formats needed and digital checkout through your website and on the purchasing lists of Kindle, Nook and iPad. Most often the full development and publishing process will cost between $900 – $3,000 from beginning to end. Are you interested? Feel free to contact me at Street Media:

Just finished reading Gary Vaynerchuk’s book “CRUSH IT!”

Gary Vaynerchuk puts his story out there–in every way imaginable. People refer to him as everything from brilliant and a powerhouse to a thought leader. Sounds like publicity hype? Don’t worry, there are a few out there who find him to be loud and crass, too.  Truthfully, he’s a little bit of all those things, and that’s what makes him great! My opinion, he’s on-fire passionate and that passion is contagious–he spreads it on liberally to anyone who cares to pay attention. Not only is he passionate–he’s knowledgable. He’s knowledgable about his trade: wine, and he’s equally if not more knowledgable about his audience and how to connect with them in a meaningful way. This shows in everything… EVERYTHING he does. Watch him on winelibrary tv, read his Tweets, his book, watch him during an interview or best yet, watch him speak in public.

Gary Vaynerchuk

If you’re not familiar with Gary yet (I’m a little surprised), check out some of his sites:;;

You may have noticed the fact that I have not yet mentioned that Gary is best-known for being a social networking rockstar. This wasn’t an unintentional omission. I’m getting to it, I promise. In reading “CRUSH IT!,” it provides very clear steps and recommendations on how to develop a brand, cashing in on your passion, and using the web and social networking platforms. He would know, he’s done it with a level of mastery that outshines most anyone’s. He also nows which mediums best suit his particular style and recommend other styles Yet, while the book is very descriptive about methods and platforms–I believe the greatest value in the content isn’t in those chapters. It’s the stories. It’s Gary’s stories that connect with you, that bring you inside his world and offer you the privilege of seeing the world, for a moment, through his eyes. These stories also project Gary’s sincere commitment to motivate you, the reader, to work to spend your life doing what you love. Put your family first and your work second. Hustle and CRUSH IT!

I realize that this may sound a bit more like a marketing post than a book review. That’s okay. I assure you that while I follow Gary on Twitter, I do not know him, and I am not necessarily even endorsing his book. Really, I’m not. Because “CRUSH IT!” isn’t for everyone. It’s not for the guy who thinks “good enough” is perfectly fine. It’s not for the person who enjoys going to work in an office everyday and doesn’t like to stand out from the crowd. But, if you’re reading this blog, “CRUSH IT!” probably is for you. Just my guess.

Truthfully, not everyone is cut out to do what Gary does. He talks a lot about DNA and being true to yourself. Personally, I know my DNA. Neither of my parents worked for other people for very long. Most of their life they were free agents, creating opportunities, networking and making things happen for themselves, their family and community. I realized that I was living waaaay out-of-synch with my DNA for a long time. Far too long. And this wake-up-call lead me to where I am now, working my tail-end off to design, create and live my next chapter in life. For more about this, please check out

But that’s me. Sincerely, not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur at all or even cut out to develop a personal brand to boost their value in their industry and job market. I will say that if starting a business doing something you love has you researching the web late at night, following and commenting on blogs on a subject you love, if you have a deep passion that you love to talk about or write about, and you find yourself thinking and dreaming about fulfilling a dream, an ambition, you’ll want to buy a copy of “CRUSH IT!” Who knows, it might inspire you to write a blog post that sounds a bit like a marketing piece, too.

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