Rolling the Dice on Saving Time

photoshopbloggyBy: Aaron Parson

My entire life, I’ve had a preoccupation with doing things efficiently. Or perhaps more accurately, a preoccupation with making tasks seem more efficient regardless of actual effort. I remember one homework assignment I had back in a middle school math class – we were studying probabilities, and were tasked with rolling a pair of dice 20 times and recording their outcome. Had I chosen to just dig a board game out of the closet and roll the dice, I could have finished within minutes. Instead, I came up with a “more efficient” method for determining dice rolls in the blink of an eye: I spent about two hours programming a dice-rolling simulator in C++. Continue reading

Unleash Your Mental Magpie


By: James Holloway

When you’re a freelancer, unless you’re a specialist of some kind, you either develop a vast knowledge of seemingly-unconnected knowledge quickly or you don’t last. After all, there are a lot of well-informed people in the world, and there are a reasonable number of people who can write well. But being able to take a topic, hunt down references for it and explain it clearly in writing quickly enough to earn a living is a bit of an unusual combination. Everyone acquires this skill in a different way; personally, I learned it from archaeology. Continue reading

Reader Experience Is the Key to Quality

0011These days, the concept of “quality content” means so much more than just eloquent delivery of information. Yes, a well-written answer is part of the equation, but “well-written” no longer ends with grammar, syntax and accuracy. The digital landscape requires more strategy than that, and it all comes down to reader experience. Continue reading

Test Your Boundaries by Crossing Borders

Marseilles,-FranceTravel writing and writing while traveling are two distinct entities. The former — travel writing — entertains us. Writing while traveling trains us. I did it.

I left my beloved U.S. about 10 years ago, with nothing save a backpack, a passport and too many shirts. I have ridden the topside of a donkey in Morocco, making my way up the Rif. I have sat on the roof of terminal three at Tegel airport in Berlin to get a free Wi-Fi connection. I won’t bore you with the discomfort of details, but I know the ropes of the globe. And they do not make a noose — if you write. My ropes tied, and comforted me, with freelancing. Continue reading

Make Your Valentine’s Day Stress-Free


For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been someone who goes a little bit against the grain, making non-traditional choices to stay ahead of the masses. This reflects in my career as an editor and in my personal life.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, here are some of my favorite ways to avoid unnecessary stress from the over-commercialized holiday we know and love. Continue reading

Burning Out: The Assassin of Productivity


By: Shea Laverty

Freelancers operate in a very different environment than most workers: Our income is directly influenced not only by the quality of our work and our passion for the job, but also by the direct amount of work we output. In a lot of ways, this is a pretty good set-up, since the more we work, the more we make. Drive and ambition have direct, tangible rewards that keep us pushing forward. It makes it easier to set clear, attainable goals, especially when you have consistent clients. Continue reading

Emphasizing Intros & Subheads

Last August, we updated our Introduction and Subhead guidelines. The primary goal: Improve the helpfulness of articles. Utility is the principle objective for the vast majority of our articles. We’re not simply answering readers’ questions. We’re providing solutions for their needs. That in mind, intros and subheads are two significant elements of the article. Before readers ever read the full article, they’ll scan the page and see those. If we’re not explicitly addressing needs and solutions within intros and subheads, then we run the risk of obscuring the deeper solutions the article itself is providing.

Since we launched those guideline revisions, we’ve seen tremendous improvement in article quality and utility. But we have plenty of room to learn and grow. Given the subjective nature of each individual title and its needs, there will never be a one-size-fits-all approach. But we can clarify what we’d like these to be and offer examples that highlight best practices. Continue reading

Featured Contributor: Seth Amery

finalWho was the most entertaining person you’ve interviewed throughout your career? There are two in particular who stand out to me the most, although for one I had only transcribed the interview. I interviewed the guys behind the No More Room in Hell mod for Half-Life 2, which adds a ton of realistic zombie gameplay and a barricade mode, and it really impressed me how much effort they were pouring into this detailed mod that they released for free; it was a glimpse into raw passion. It stuck with me.

I transcribed an interview with Doug Kennedy of Reverb Publishing, and during that they discussed fixing the standard developer-publisher relationship that favored big guys at the literal expense of their development team. It was reassuring to read about at least one other person who wanted to fix a very real problem in the industry and was actually trying to do something about it. Continue reading

My Habitual Writing Habit

timsblogEveryone adheres to a writing habit  – some absolutely need that cup of coffee to power them through their text, others may rely on puffing on a cigarette. Some folks, myself included, like to throw on some music and find their mojo the audible way – and that’s what we’re discussing today – the inspiring rhythms of our favorite jams. Continue reading

Wheels Up, Words Down


By: Bryn Bellamy

There’s an inherent difference between people who travel and people who don’t travel. It’s cliched to say travelers are restless, but I do think we crave variety in a way that other people crave routine. Not that there’s anything wrong with craving routine, but the traveler lives for the surprises, and perhaps even the dangers that come with stepping into the unknown. (I’m not an adrenaline junkie of the flying-squirrel-suit variety, but I do get a bit twitchy if I haven’t been on an airplane for a couple of months.) Continue reading