As I write this, I can feel each muscle throughout my body individually cramp into hard knots. Tiny jolts of electricity course through my veins, shocking me with any movement.
To move feels like wading in cement. After a few minutes, I have to stop to clear the dense fog enveloping my brain and re-think what I just thought and try to figure out what I am going to say next. From time to time, simple names for things escape me and I turn into Ariel from the Little Mermaid. (What’s that word again? Oh yeah…pencil) Good grief.
The migraine level headache in my skull never ceases. My skin feels sunburnt and itchy all the time. Sitting, standing, or lying down for an extended period of time is incredibly painful. Pain medications, lack of sleep, and poor diet choices from struggling to even make a microwaved meal for myself has caused weight gain that only exacerbates the symptoms.
I could use some more exercise for sure, but try doing your next workout wading through cement and you’ll understand why I don’t even bother. I do stretching exercises and some yoga, but that’s about it.
My Fibromyalgia Experience as a Writer
Fibromyalgia has been with me since Day One of my writing career, which started professionally 3 years ago. Fibromyalgia is a debilitating and misunderstood condition that attacks every area of the body both externally and internally with symptoms that defy current medical testing and treatments, to put it mildly and simply.
It can be so strong that it can force you into a bedridden state if not managed appropriately. The pain levels can get so high that suicide is considered a viable option for the unending relief. In fact, suicide is the number one cause of death for this disease.
Other writers I encounter in my social media encounters tell me that my condition is barely perceptible and awed about the workload I’m able to carry in spite of my condition. Truth is, like most chronic pain warriors, I’ve adapted enough to masterfully hide my condition while working.
You learn to do that quickly to avoid misperceptions, stigmas, pity, and well-intentioned bad advice. I chose to accept the condition as a permanent roommate in my life and worked to find solutions for living together.
To give you an idea of my workload: I run two websites, manage a community of writers, and write 10,000-20,000 words for clients on a good workweek. I’m actively pitching for new clients at a rate of 15 pitches per week.
I’ve recently wrote an e-book for writers and I conduct strategy sessions for writers desiring to earn what they truly deserve on a regular basis. I have a podcast and Google Hangout video series, but production in those areas has declined as of late. I have an organizer full of passion projects that I hope to get to one day and I answer questions from writers on a daily basis.
The freelance world is incredibly tough as it is. Adding chronic pain to the mix makes it even more difficult. I have no way of telling how my body will betray me on a day-to-day basis. Do too much on one day and I’m out of commission two days later.
That’s bad for business. To be successful, I employ strategies that allow me to work around my constant pain companion and focus my efforts heavily on serving others to distract me from giving attention to my condition.
Tips For Writing With Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain
Writers I’ve talked with are scared about working with their chronic pain condition and meeting client expectations. When you can’t trust how you will feel from day-to-day, there’s a nervous apprehension about working with clients.
What if your illness makes you miss a deadline? What if the client finds out- will you get fired? What if the project I agree to take on is too much for me to handle?
How can you live with chronic pain and still be a successful writer? Here’s a few things that have helped me along the way.
Create an adaptive work environment.
Carve out a writing space or two that helps you adjust physically throughout the day. For example: My office has a bed so that I can lie down and stretch, and still get my work done. Recently, I purchased an adjustable sit/stand desk so I can work in either position. Get an ergonomic chair and keep your medication and other pain management tools within reach while you work.
Create a plan of attack before the workweek starts.
Write down everything you need or would like to get done for the upcoming week. Now, separate these tasks into two lists according to the level of concentration required to accomplish them. Throughout the week, tackle high concentration items such as writing articles and pitching clients when you are feeling well enough for work. Tasks that require very little thinking can be managed on higher pain level days. Batch similar tasks together as much as possible.
Let go of your expectations and comparisons.
Chronic pain slows a person down tremendously. Looking around at other writers pumping out content at a much faster rate than you can cause you to feel like raising the white flag of surrender. Your path is that of the slow turtle running the race. Be okay with that. Really truly accept it. You don’t have to do what “they” are doing. Challenge yourself to be your own competition. Shed any “shoulds” from your internal conversations. Focus on one goal at a time and doing it well.
Do you live with Fibromyalgia or chronic pain? What advice would you give to other writers to help them succeed? Share your stories and comments below.
Let’s discuss my favorite group of people: haters. You heard me right. I love haters. So much so, that I advise people to celebrate with a glass of champagne when they acquire their very first hater. And before you leave thinking I’m crazy, allow me to give you my reasons why I embrace the hate so much.
First, you have struck someone’s nerve enough to have a passionate opinion on what you just created. Congratulations! You have just awoken the mindless Internet surfer and made him or her engage. That’s reason enough to celebrate. Most bloggers hear crickets. You caught yourself a real live troll!
Now, don’t take what they said personally. Do you think Beyonce cared one iota about her recent Super Bowl performance with her song “Formation”? A huge conversation erupted in America over racism in America, and a large portion of that conversation was hateful and violent, to say the least.
Beyonce wasn’t on social media defending her performance. She was immediately off to creating her next performance. She already said everything she needed to say about her haters at the end of the song:
“You know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation. Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper.”
Whether you agree or disagree with her stance, she fulfilled the role of the artist: to spark a conversation and change perceptions with her creations. It’s what we deep down want to achieve with our work as well.
Beyonce has tons of rabid haters and loyal followers. But that didn’t happen overnight. She put in intense hours over decades to get where she is at today. We can expect to be required to do the same.
You will have people that simply don’t like you. That’s okay. There’s at least one person on this planet that desperately needs what you have to say. You would be doing that person a great disservice by allowing haters to get in your way. Don’t let your fans down.
While it isn’t a good idea to publicly interact with your hater, you can objectively take a look at the criticism and see if there is anything constructive in there. Is the criticism coming from a place of good intent or just being hateful? Does the critic make any suggestions on how you can improve your form to create better work? Take what is useful and ignore the rest.
For example: A review that says your book was horribly written and contains numerous typos contains constructive criticism. You need to better word what you say and fix the typos. A review that calls the author an idiot is not constructive and needs to be ignored. It’s not always this cut-and-dry, but you’ll be able to better get a grip on what readers are saying and how to respond appropriately over time.
The worst kind of negativity that you will encounter will come from your family and friends. Typical bombardments will involve constant criticism about your choice of profession (When are you going to get a real job?), constant distractions and demands on your time (After all, you’re just sitting around playing on the computer all day), and so on.
The negative feedback may not always be as obvious as outright hateful statements. You are going to make people around you uncomfortable simply because you choose to buck the status quo and follow your personal passions. Though they may never say it themselves, you have created a situation that has forced them to look at what they have accomplished in their own lives. They were afraid to jump out of their comfort zones, and subconsciously they resent the fact that you are making that point obvious. Their reactions are a defense mechanism that you will have to learn not to take personally.
Once you do achieve some success, those same individuals may even turn around and pretend like they have been there supporting you all along and expect handouts simply because they know or are related to you. If you attempt to teach them how to do the work for themselves, you may see an amazing amount of resistance. They have it in their minds that they can ride your coattails instead.
This is an uncomfortable place to be in as it puts you in a position to look like the villain if you don’t respond positively to their requests.
As a good person, naturally you will want to give in to their demands. But don’t fall into this codependent trap. Each person is the author in his/her own life. To get the rewards, you must do the work.
Ultimately, you are responsible for your own life. It’s up to you to achieve your hopes and dreams. It doesn’t matter what others think. Let the critics sip their haterade. Break out the bubbly and celebrate your willingness to break through the ordinary. And stay thirsty for more!
According to an online article written by Ben Matthews entitled Freelance Statistics 2016: The Freelance Economy in Numbers, 53 million people are performing freelance work in the United States and contribute to the overall economy approximately $715 billion in earnings. This equates to 34 percent of the national workforce. What are the current battles being fought on the freelance front line and what is being done about them?
Finding Legitimate Paying Work
The top benefits of freelancing is the ability to have flexible schedules and to earn additional income on the side. However, finding legitimate paying work on a consistent basis is the biggest elephant in the room. Still, over 77 percent of freelancers state that the future of freelancing is more promising than ever. 65 percent of the interviewed freelancers (mostly writers) expressed that the field is more respected than it was just 3 years ago. However, currently 40 percent of freelancers struggle to get paid on time, if they get paid at all.
One major problem for freelancers is that they are classified as independent contractors under the 1935 National Labor Act. This creates difficulty in taking legal action when a client refuses to pay and makes it impossible for this field of workers to unionize for proper workplace treatment. Until political action is taken to address these issues, writers are going to continue to face difficulties regarding client nonpayment.
As of right now, 68 percent of freelancers expressed strong interest in becoming a member of a legalized union. There are 2 organizations out there for freelancers that act in some capacity like a union. However, both organizations have major flaws when it comes to defending the rights of the independent contractor. For example, one of the union organizations does not pay contributors for content distributed on their own corporate blog. It makes it difficult for a writer to believe that the organization is fighting against client nonpayment when the warriors on the frontline of the battlefield don’t even pay writers for their work.
According to a recent study on the current state of freelancing, the average annual income for freelancers is between $10,001-$20,000. Only 19 percent of surveyed respondents made over $50,000 in yearly income, and only 5 percent were able to make 6 figures. Full-time freelancers typically average between $20,001-$30,000 on a yearly basis. Fiction authors struggle even more when it comes to earning a decent living. Those seeming to have better income luck currently appear to specialize in B2B content marketing and technical writing. The more complicated the work, the higher the pay seems to be.
Let’s compare these numbers to the average salaried worker in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual mean wage is $47,230. The average mean wage for writers and editors recently was $66,990. Lumping both editors and writers together is questionable statistically, as editors generally are paid more for their work than writers.
Let’s delve a bit deeper. According to the most recent Gallup poll, the average American employee works about 47 hours on a weekly basis. In contrast, the majority of full-time freelancers are working between 31-40 hours on 2 or fewer projects per week. Writers typically made more money recently through flat rates rather than per-word rates. Digital work garnished for less money for writers. The average for print stories was around $350 per piece. Digital work can generate approximately $207 per assignment, while working for content mills averages around $25 per piece.
An alarming stat in the study of the state of freelancing uncovered that 68 percent of freelancers would gladly give up self-employment for a full-time job with great benefits. In regards to daily obstacles, 34 percent identified obtaining enough work as their biggest hurdle. 26 percent stated time management was their largest concern.
Writers still need to learn how to become their own advocates for their businesses and not rely on the powers-that-be to resolve their issues. We creatives can be more proactive through protecting our work through contracts, better negotiation strategies, and utilizing copyright protection to our advantages. It is up to us to keep abreast of the changes that directly impact our businesses and adjust accordingly. There is no third-party savior.
The future looks brighter overall. As the economic markets change, it will make more and more financial sense for the employment of freelancers to accomplish the daily content needs of businesses worldwide. We have the ability to win this war long-term. But ultimately up to us how willing we are to keep continuing the fight until we achieve victory.
by Nida Sea
As a writer, you’re constantly reading blog posts and news articles, doing research, and of course writing. It’s easy for your creative juices to dry up while you’re drafting and creating fresh content. But when your creativity begins to wane, you find yourself having trouble brainstorming new writing topics.
What’s the answer to this dilemma? Get a hobby.
Hobbies do more than give you something to do. They take your mind off the daily grind, which is especially true for a writer. Hobbies help you to relax, let your mind wander, and reopen your creative flow.
Ready to jump start your creativity once more? Check out the 13 hobbies that’ll make you better at brainstorming freelance writing topics:
Studying the stars, planets, and natural astronomical occurrences improve your knowledge of astronomy, but it can also expand your thoughts on the universe. New topics to brainstorm for popular astronomy magazines like “Sky & Telescope” and “Popular Science,” can come to you while studying stars and viewing them through a telescope.
It’s refreshing to look at a classic (or modern) piece of artwork and critique it. You see what the piece speaks to you and how you can relate to what the artist was feeling at the time. The same concept can be used in your own works of art, such as your writing.
Old article or blog pieces can be spun and given a new twist, and then used for new pieces. For example, a blog post about green tea and its benefits can be spun into a topic like this: “Top 5 (or 7) Best Teas for Curing a Cold in One Day.” Old idea topics aren’t useless, so take out your old articles and blog posts and use them to brainstorm fresh, new ideas.
Working with clay allows you to create something else other than words with your hands. You can be abstract or definitive with the clay, or mold it after a creature you admire.
Brainstorming works the same way. You take something simple, like a keyword and mold it into an article topic or several topic ideas. Simple keywords like ‘dog’ can be reworked into a topic such as “Four of the Best Indoor Guard Dogs for your Two-Year-Old” or “How to Train your Dog to Use the Toilet and Flush.” These ideas are off the top of my head, but you see what I mean.
Clay shapes and forms in your hands, sometimes when your mind is blank. When an idea hits, you shape it as much as possible with the clay. Do the same with keywords to brainstorm new and fresh topics.
Relaxing and interesting, bird watching lets you research and discover the world of birds. You’ll also mingle with other folks who share the same interest about this hobby. Learn about bird facts and myths, and discover cultural stories behind birds in specific regions.
All of this can translate into new ideas for popular bird watching magazines like “Bird Watching” and “Wild Bird Magazine.” You can also gain new brainstorming ideas from fellow bird watchers. Listen to what they talk about and try to pinpoint any frustrations or curiosities they have concerning bird watching.
Making candles is a fun and enjoyable past time. Different scents, colors, shapes and sizes, along with various wicks, help you create unique handmade candles. Plus, you get some awesome custom-made lighting for your votives! Candle making is more than pouring colorful wax into molds.
The process of making new candle designs is similar to how you create fresh article topics. It’s a method of brainstorming and coming up with new colors, designs, and scents before you make your candles. Similar to brainstorming, you select a topic you’d like to write about, review different angles of your potential topic, and do research to ensure it’s going to be worth writing.
Doll crafting is a fun hobby, but also a very serious one. Doll forum members take the hobby seriously by being selective of the brands and types of dolls they craft. The hair to the color and fabric of the clothing has to match, which can take long periods of time to locate the perfect match. And, dolls even have to be ‘connected’ with the doll crafter to be considered special.
Consider how seriously you take your writing. In the brainstorming aspect of it, you consider all the ideas that come to your mind and note them down. Each idea is reviewed and researched, and if it fits, it’s a keeper. If it doesn’t, it’s set aside for later use, or discarded if it can’t be used. Doll crafting can help you perfect your talent for fitting dolls exactly how you imagine them, which is how you would work a brainstorming idea into a fully fleshed article topic.
Plus, like brainstorming, doll crafting is a slow process because you want to find all the right pieces to match.
Cooking is creative, useful, and relaxing. As a freelance writer working out of your home, you have the option of making your own at-home meals. Try new recipes and make your own unique twist on classic recipes.
Cooking not only helps you to develop your skill and create delicious meals, but it can help you to concentrate on piecing together new content pieces. And, if you’re a writer in home and garden, or cooking, you can develop new ideas to pitch popular cooking blogs or magazines.
Exercise is a great way to improve your body and overall well-being. Physical activity also increases cognitive functions, which means you can focus better and withstand challenging activities like brainstorming. Doing a short, 20-minute workout is enough to boost your mind and eliminate any sluggish feeling you may have—similar to how a cup of coffee works!
Plus, if you’re feeling writer’s block coming on, head on outside for a brisk walk. Just walking down the street or around the block can clear your mind. Frustrated with your lame article topic ideas? A quick cardio workout can eliminate frustration easily giving you the relaxed mind you need to rework your topic choices.
The art of calligraphy is a calming and freeing practice. Feeling the pen in your hand, the smell of the Sumi ink, and watching the page come alive with your handcrafted words is stunning and requires a steady, yet creative hand. Calligraphy allows you to create artistic words for poems, quotes, abstract work, or even fancy journaling. You may also be able to pen brief drafts in calligraphy.
Calligraphy is often considered an artistic hobby, but it can help improve your writing by appreciating what you create. You take your time with calligraphy and each stroke is thought out carefully before making it. Like brainstorming, you come up with hundreds of ideas, but your best ideas are reworked several times and researched carefully to make sure they create a stunning piece.
Believe it or not, writing for half an hour each morning about your previous day in a journal can help you find topics. Much of our ideas come from our own experiences. When you look back on a good (or bad) day you had in your journal, you can find new ideas to use as blog or article topics.
Sometimes the best article topics are derived from emotional frustrations or concerns we have. If you notice a pattern in your journal about something you’ve recorded from your daily life, you may find others who are interested in reading about it. Review your journal once every two weeks to find potential topics to use.
Watching TV or Movies
Yeah, some say watching TV is for slobs. I say, whatever. Watching TV not only takes your mind from the present, but it can spark your creativity with certain scenes or phrases, and it can be thought-provoking or inspiring at times, which can trigger your creative juices.
You may find great moments of inspiration from specific scenes in movies that can be related to real life. Or, maybe there’s a good story about certain actors in the movie that prompts you to ask: Where are they now? These are great brainstorming topics to pitch Hollywood or gossip magazines.
Getting away from your office helps de-stress you, which you should be doing once in a while anyway. But, traveling and seeing other places away from home help you relax, and provide you a new perspective for fresh ideas.
Travel magazines love new article ideas for topics about places to see, best areas to visit in certain cities, and most active venues. You may also stumble across smaller historic locations or local-only events that have yet to be written about. It’s a perfect way to brainstorm fresh new perspective ideas.
Test your mind (and vocabulary) with mobile app games like Words With Friends, Crossword, and Yahtzi to open up your vocabulary world. For most online content, you don’t want to use an extensive vocabulary with big words. Online content is usually better digested in small, easy-to-understand words.
But, mind games test your vocabulary knowledge and these games can introduce you to new words you can use in your writing. Use these new words when brainstorming catchy headlines or short social media posts. Poetry writers would find these words ideal to use in their prose.
These are just some of many hobbies you can do to improve and enhance your brainstorming, and give you ideas for better article and blog post topics.
What hobbies do you enjoy that help you with brainstorming?
I would like to thank freelancewritersacademy.com for this guest post. The website can be an excellent tool for any freelance writer, and there is a lot to be learned from it. In particular, I would like to direct readers to check out this post on writer’s pitches after reading through here.
Freelance writing can often be a competitive business, with only so many jobs available and a lot of experienced writers out there knowing exactly what they are doing. This means that you need every advantage you can to get yourself out there and get the jobs you need so you can keep working on the career path that you’ve chosen for yourself.
Technology is likely your best opportunity to try and get ahead in today’s writing environment. In addition to there being a far greater amount of technology related writing jobs available than there are not, if you know how to utilize technology people will notice and pick you over the writer who cannot.
Here are five tips that will hopefully better allow you to use technology to its fullest potential in your freelance career:
Always Stay Connected
Every writer should have an email account, a few social media accounts of some variety (LinkedIn, despite being the subject of many jokes, still has its uses), and a smartphone to communicate online and by phone with potential clients or readers. You should check these often enough and stay in a constant stream of communication with your contacts. Many of them will not like to be kept waiting for any length of time or until you get home.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a social life and always be worried about your phone and feel the need to check every single notification that comes on your phone at the dinner table. It does mean that it is a good thing to regularly check anything that comes in while you’re out so you can decide what can wait and what can’t for either when you get home or so you can decide to step out quickly to make a phone call or write a quick email. That difference in time can be the difference between you getting the contract or someone else accepting better terms first.
Use Tech to Organize
Some writers may like to romanticize the pen and paper as a way of taking care of their scheduling and keeping track of things, but in a technological age, that simply won’t do anymore. You need to be able to coordinate with clients when you are available and many of them use one application or another by default. By the time you’re dealing with a lot of clients then you will probably have an account with half a dozen different organizing websites.
Some good tools to check out for your own organizational purposes are Google Calendar, todoist.com, and some of the apps that might be installed on your smart phone. Experiment a little to find an app or combination of apps that might be good for you.
Protect Your Data
You should make sure that all of your passwords are safe, and try to remember that what you have on your computer is the most important thing to your career. Make sure you use a security suite program on your computer (consider it a business expense), and then on top of this, use extra security protocols for your most sensitive data.
Also, if you go out to a public place and do your writing and/or research on a public network, then you should really take note of the dangers of a public network and how hackers might be able to steal the data that is being sent. If you use these kinds of networks often, then you should invest in a VPN so that sensitive client data or your financial information isn’t stolen by hackers and sold to the highest bidder. That would ruin your reputation and set you back a long ways in your career.
Backup, Backup, Backup
In short, you should find a flash drive and use it. Then you should find a safe cloud storage service and use it to keep a backup of all your old writing (you never know when you might need it for a portfolio). You should verge on the side of redundancy when it comes to making sure that if your hard drive decides to die you don’t lose more than a couple of day’s work at the very worst. Your client may understand, but then again they might not and you might not have time to restart the project from scratch.
Learn the Language
While you don’t need to learn how to be a programmer to become a successful freelance writer, you should try to make sure that any technological term they throw at you is at least something you will understand. Anything particularly complex or detailed you can always research later, but try doing some research on your own and try to understand Search Engine Optimization, the basic logic behind website programming and design, what makes some devices better than others, the more complex ways to use Google, and how to use the most popular websites on the internet to their full effectiveness.
Once you learn those things, you’ll have a better clue about what you might be able to use as something you can specialize in for your writing or something you can talk more in-depth about in your negotiations. It’s getting increasingly more important with the amount of freelance work that is shifting on-line. Try not to worry too much about it, once you’re immersed in it, you’ll pick it up very quickly.
I hope that these tips help you land more and better clients, and remember to keep at it despite any starting difficulty. Thank you for reading.
Caroline is a freelance writer and technology enthusiast. She particularly enjoys writing about practical ways technology can help you and also internet safety and security. You can contact Caroline here.
By Christine Kloser
Have you dreamed of writing a book or becoming a successful published author? Do you have a valuable message that – if put in print – will help grow your business and transform more lives? If you answered yes, but don’t have your book written yet… keep reading!
There has never been a better time to write your book and become an author. The opportunities available for authors in the 21st Century are endless. Yet, the majority of entrepreneurs who say they want to write a book don’t actually do it. Why? Based on more than 900 responses to a recent survey by Transformational Book Coach, Christine Kloser, aspiring authors revealed what holds them back.
Most authors don’t know where to start or what to do first. They are overwhelmed with too much information and not enough action. Sometimes things like fear and doubt creep in. Other times, its confusion, lack of clarity or confidence that can stop an author in their tracks. Another big challenge for authors is feeling like their book has already been written… by somebody else.
Not to mention the maze of information out there about writing and publishing a book. Is it best to self-publish or try to get an agent and sell your manuscript? How important is it to build your platform? What are the first things to do to start writing your book? How can you leverage your book to grow your business? What do you do about “writer’s block?” How much will it cost to publish?
The questions facing an aspiring author can be endless and the answers are often times confusing. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are great people out there who want to help you write your BEST book, who are interested in your message and committed to your success.
And it’s absolutely possible to write your book in a way that is easy, joyful and fun – without wasting your precious time, money or energy going in circles. It’s also possible your book will bring about profound personal, professional, and even planetary transformation. Consider this…
Throughout history, books have played a critical role in impacting readers to create positive changes in their lives. Seeing that individual transformation impacts global transformation – it can be said the books truly do have the power to transform the world. And YOUR book can be one of those books that transforms lives forever.
So, if you’re ready to take the next step with your book (even just a little bit interested in writing a book someday) you’ll want to join me for Christine Kloser’s Transformational Author Experience®. Christine is a transformational book coach and is offering one of the best trainings I’ve ever seen for authors. Her faculty includes New York Times Bestselling authors like Lisa Nichols, Chris Attwood and Marcia Wieder, as well as publishing industry experts like Wendy Keller (Senior Literary Agent), and Marc Allen (CEO and Publisher of Eckhart Tolle’s “Power of Now”). And that’s just the beginning of what’s in store for you at her f-r-e-e Transformational Author Experience®.
I hope you’ll take a look at what she’s put together for you and join us. It truly is a phenomenal program that has the power to transform your life if you let it…
Christine Kloser, “The Transformation Catalyst” is a transformational book coach, spiritual guide and award-winning author whose spot-on guidance transforms the lives of visionary entrepreneurs and authors around the world. Her life-changing work has impacted 60,000 authors in 90 countries and is endorsed by many of today’s leading transformational authors, including: Neale Donald Walsch, Lisa Nichols, Sonia Choquette, Gay Hendricks, and many more. Learn more at www.ChristineKloser.com
Writing is one of the few professions where a constant barrage of online harassment is considered just part of a day’s work. We’re expected to accept the fact that anytime we write on a controversial topic, we’re going to be told to eat shit and die, as though that’s totally normal. But really, none of us want to open ourselves up to the possibility of being harassed by dead relatives, or worse, being confronted by real life danger.
So instead, we don our armor and fortify our walls in the hope that we can get through the day unscathed.
In the face of that kind of pressure, it’s no wonder why some of us prefer to keep a strict lock down on Facebook. After all, it’s full of information that could be weaponized against us if it fell into the wrong hands. But by doing that, we’re also missing out on lots of warm and friendly connections with people who mean us no harm.
It might seem like a worthy sacrifice, but it’s not necessary. There is a better way to keep control over your private information and welcome new friendships without fear. Sort your Facebook friends into lists and use them to easily control who sees what.
Handy Lists to Use and How They Work
Facebook lists come in three categories: smart, basic and custom. Each of these give you more power over your privacy by allowing you to group your friends according to your comfort level in sharing with them. When you use lists to configure the privacy settings on your profile and posts, you can be sure that potentially dangerous information is only visible to those you trust.
Facebook already has lists set up for your family, close friends, coworkers and acquaintances. You just need to put people on them. But before we get to that, let’s take a look at how each list behaves.
Lists with a lightning strike symbol next to them are smart lists. These automatically populate based on what your friends have on their profiles. When you claim someone as family, and they approve the connection, they’ll be included in your family list. Friends who claim the same profession, go to your coworker list. If you don’t want a particular person in a smart list, you can remove them.
The drawback is that you can’t add to smart lists without the other person getting a notification asking that they update their profile to match the list you put them on. So if you’re a freelance writer and you want to see your freelance blogger friends on your coworker list, you’re out of luck. To get around this, you can make a custom list.
These include the close friends, acquaintances and restricted lists, as well as custom lists. You can add anyone you want to basic lists without them needing to know about it. They’re just for your sorting convenience.
One of my favorite basic lists to use is the restricted list. People on this list can send messages to your inbox and tag you in posts, but are only able to see your public information. This is nice because when people who aren’t on your friends list try to message you, their message goes to your other inbox where you’re not likely to see it. If you want to interact with some people without sharing anything personal, this is the list for them.
Custom lists are basic lists that you create yourself. These let you group friends based on any category you want. With a custom list of writers, you can easily network with all your fellow writers of various job titles and post updates specifically for them.
How to Use Lists to Safeguard Your Online Self
First Time Setup
Depending on how many friends you have, setting up your lists for the first time may take a while. You’ll need to go through your main friends list and choose a sub-list for each person.
Manage all your lists at once by clicking the friends category header on your feed sidebar. This brings up your list dashboard. There you can create new lists and populate lists in batches rather than having to go to each friend’s page individually.
When you make a new friend, use the drop-down on their cover photo to select a list for them. If you’re sending a friend request, the drop-down is on the friend request sent button, after you send the request. If you’re responding to a request, you’ll find the drop-down on the button that says friends, after you approve the request.
Once you have your friends situated into lists, go to your profile and double check your privacy settings. Make things like your personal email, home address, and phone number visible to only your family and close friends.
Lists in Action
When you make new posts, use the lists to pick who can see them. Posts visible to friends will be shown to all your lists except restricted. The friends except acquaintances option shows posts to everyone except the acquaintances or restricted list. To post something for only your close friends and family, choose the custom option and put those lists in the share with box.
For older wall posts, go through your activity feed by clicking the activity button on your cover photo. From there you can review and revise the privacy setting on past posts.
Check who can see what by clicking the view as button on your cover photo. Facebook will show you how your profile looks to the public and restricted list first. To see how it looks to a particular person, type their name in the box at the very top, above your cover photo.
More Perks to Organizing Your Friends
Not only do you get an extra layer of security by using lists, you also get to enjoy custom feeds. If your main feed is full of updates you don’t care about, lists are how to fix it. Tell Facebook who should show up more in your main feed by putting them in your close friends or family list. To see less of some people, put them in the acquaintances or restricted list.
Get a feed that only includes updates from your best friends and family by clicking on that list from the main feed sidebar. That way you can make sure important updates from your best friends and family don’t slip past you. You can also take it a step further and choose to receive notifications every time someone in one of these lists posts something.
You don’t have to sacrifice potentially meaningful friendships for the sake of safety anymore. Facebook friends lists are a great way for you to feel more confident sharing and making new online connections. They give you the security you crave so you can enjoy a more engaging online experience without worrying about all the dangers it could bring. That, along with the added bonus of being able to filter out some of the noise on your feed, makes them well worth the time it takes to set them up and get used to using them.
It’s time to break free from the fear and stroll confidently through the walls of Facebook. Take an hour or so when you can and make it happen.
Do you trust Facebook when it says it won’t tell?
Lynndee Daniels is the freelance writer with the word on all things green and geeky. When I’m not creating quality unique content for my clients, I’m helping people turn green by sharing the ins and outs of natural living on my blog. To find out more about my services, you can check me out at my online home at http://lynndeedaniels.com.
NOMINATE YOUR FAVORITE WRITING BLOG!
Here at Freelance Writers Academy, we are all about helping writers earn what they truly deserve and pursuing their purpose with passion. So, for the first time ever we want to acknowledge the writing sites that truly help writers attain more with their writing career with the Earn What You Truly Deserve Award from Freelance Writers Academy.
We need your help. What writing sites inspired you to action? What sites helped you make more money?
We are looking for the very best. We are looking for writers who spend time and develop relationships with their readers. We are looking for nominations in the following categories: freelancing, writing (all types), blogging, and publishing.
Nominate your choice by posting a link to your favorite writing blog or website in the comments and tell us why they deserve this reward.
Nominations must be received by February 27th.
Winners will be announced right here on March 1st.
And don’t forget to share this post with other bloggers and writers so they don’t miss out!
What writers do you know that push you to achieve your very best?
Freelance Writers Academy had an incredible year in 2014. We were blessed to feature fantastic guest posts bursting with useful information from some wonderful writers:
We also started the Freelance Round Table podcast, sharing laughs and sorting through problems we all face in our writing life. Here is our latest one:
We also added a new member to our team to help transcribe our videos.
Lauren Tharp of LittleZotz.com has already been doing a fantastic job behind the scenes and I am thrilled to be working together with her to provide media for the hard-of-hearing writers.
Our membership community The Kingdom of Paidalot has grown strong and we have journeyed through many quests and member-only trainings. We’ve supported and bonded and loved one another through our private Facebook group, commiserating in our woes and triumphing in victories.
All this to say that Freelance Writers Academy wouldn’t be where it is today without the support it has been receiving from all of you. So with that I just want to express my deepest gratitude for all the likes, shares, comments, and emails you’ve all given me this past year. I appreciate each and every one of you. I hope the information you have received from me has helped you immensely in earning what you truly deserve!
I’m so excited already for 2015. I haven’t been blogging on here as of late because I am working on some huge projects I know you all are going to really love so I hope you will stick with me!
Let’s get ready to rock the New Year!