Tag Archives: blogging

Best Blogs for Freelance Writing Newbies

Freelance BlogsWhen I first started freelancing I turned to blogs of men and women who had “been there, done that” to get advice on starting my freelance business. Today, I continue to read many of these blogs to stay inspired and to be up-to-date on the conversations others in my field are having.

If you’re a newbie freelancer, here are a few blogs I have found useful and you may, too:

1. Make a Living Writing. This blog by Carol Tice was a great help when I was first starting out, especially her posts about setting freelance rates, what different markets pay, and transitioning to a career as a full-time freelancer.

2. The Renegade Writer. When I was a summer editorial intern at Family Circle magazine, I remember fact-checking articles written by Linda Formichelli. I enjoyed her articles, and afterward I started seeing her byline in tons of places. I wanted to write for magazines like she did. When I was considering quitting my day job and becoming a full-time freelancer, I read Linda’s books The Renegade Writer and Query Letters That Rock (both co-written with Diana Burrell). I started reading Linda’s blog, too, which has even more practical advice for freelance newbies.

3. The Well-Fed Writer. Peter Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Writer was another book I read before getting the courage to make the leap to full-time freelancing. The book is kind of a no-nonsense guide of how to land copywriting work, and the freelance rate information in here was yet another super-helpful resource in helping me to determine my freelance rates. His blog has equally great advice.

4. MediaBistro. This site has lots of blogs, based on your interests in the media world, but what I found even more helpful than the blogs here were the site’s How to Pitch articles for tips on pitching story ideas to different magazines. It helped me land an article assignment from a magazine I hadn’t written for before. In my opinion, the MediaBistro subscription fee is well worth it.


About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. Her clients include universities, nonprofit organizations, magazine publishers, and book publishers nationwide. Dana has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics.

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College Marketing: How Does Your College’s Online Presence Compare?

College WebsitesOn average, it costs colleges and universities $1,641 (not including admissions staff salaries and benefits) to recruit a student through enrollment, according to the recent 2013 State of College Admission report from the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).

In the same report, colleges ranked the university’s website as one of the top three most important aspects in their new student recruitment strategy. Even though websites (and even other online tools such as blogs and social media) are considered important, not all colleges and universities are using them to their fullest potential.

So how does your school’s online presence compare to other colleges and universities? Let’s check out some more stats from the NACAC 2013 State of College Admission report to see how your online presence stacks up.

1. Content for parents and guidance counselors. We know it’s ultimately the student’s decision where to go to college, but parents and high school guidance counselors (particularly at private schools) are big influencers (whether the students admit it or not). However, only 85 percent of colleges and universities reported offering information on their website tailored to parents of prospective students and only 68 percent said they offer information for high school counselors.

Does your website have information for parents? How about for high school counselors? If you’re in the minority here, you may want to consider adding content directed at those important influencers.

2. Contact methods. Does your website prominently display the school’s phone number as a way to contact the college? If so, you’re not aligning your methods of contact with the ways students and parents prefer to contact schools.

According to the 2013 State of College Admission report, e-mail/Internet is the most popular way for students to contact colleges, with 40 percent of all admission inquiries being received via e-mail or the Internet. Of all the methods used to contact schools (college fairs, high school visits, written sources), phone calls were the least popular method for contacting colleges. So, make sure the admission office’s e-mail address or an online contact form is displayed prominently on your site.

3. Social media tools. The report found that 96 percent of schools provide links to their social networking sites, and an increasing number (52 percent) have blogs by current students. Some colleges even have blogs by admission officers and offer podcasts. What’s your social media presence like? Are you in the 4 percent that doesn’t link to your social media sites? Is anyone from your college blogging?

The report didn’t go into specific social media platforms used by colleges and universities, but many news outlets have covered how the social media tools used by teens are changing. Some studies show teens are moving away from Facebook, and moving toward other social media tools like Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. In fact, a recent survey shows that Twitter is now more popular with teens than Facebook. Is your school in the online places where your target audience is spending time?

4. Visibility of online application. How easy is it to find (and fill out) your online application? In our technology-driven world and with the change from targeting Millenials to Generation Z (aka “digital natives”), online applications are becoming increasingly important. According to the 2013 State of College Admission report, for the Fall 2012 admission cycle, four-year colleges and universities receive 89 percent of their applications online, an increase from the previous two admission cycles.

If a link to your online application isn’t prominently located on your college website, now’s the time to make a change.

Hopefully these insights from the 2013 State of College Admission report will help you as you evaluate the state of your current online presence, maintain your college website, and determine where to put your resources (particularly valuable staff time).

Image credit: Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net


About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. Her clients include universities, nonprofit organizations, magazine publishers, and book publishers nationwide. Dana has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics.

Pet Therapy Helps College Students Relieve Stress

beagleDuring my time as a recruitment marketing manager at Mount Mary University, I was intrigued by the animal-assisted therapy (also sometimes called pet therapy) students got to experience each semester, usually right before final exams.

Pet therapy has become a popular stress relieving activity that higher education institutions offer to students. Just this fall, I’ve seen many universities, including Mount Mary, Marquette University, Colorado State University, Indiana University-Bloomington, and more, tweet about their pet therapy events on campus.

When asked about the popularity of pet therapy on college campuses, Sarah DeLone, education program director at the Monroe County Humane Association in Indiana, says VIPaws (the local therapy dog group in her area) has been making more visits to Indiana University-Bloomington this year than they have in the past. In fact, they were on the campus four times this fall.

You can see more about the Indiana University-Bloomington animal-assisted therapy events (including photos from the events) in my recent My College Guide blog post. For more information on pet therapy, DeLone recommends checking out the Pet Partners website.

Expert Tips for Finding College Scholarships

Scholarship MoneyHave I mentioned how much I love writing articles and blog posts for My College Guide? One of the reasons I enjoy this so much is that I get to talk to college administrators, admissions professionals, and financial aid staff all around the country and get their best advice to help high school students prepare for college.

These professionals often have so much great advice to share that we can’t include it all in the magazine articles. This was the case with information on finding and applying for college scholarships for a recent article. Because of this, I compiled the “extra” advice into a new blog post. See expert scholarship advice from professionals at Iowa State University and William Peace University in my latest post.

My College Guide Blog: Anti-bullying Scholarships

My College GuideIn September 2013, I started writing the My College Guide blog. The blog provides college preparation and college life tips and advice primarily for high-achieving high school students.

To date, my blog post topics have included SAT and ACT preparation, fall college fairs, college rankings, online degree programs, and scholarships. I also introduced a “Major of the Month” series to highlight a different college major each month.

While researching general scholarships available to students, I came across several organizations that offer scholarships or other award money to victims of bullying or to students who actively lead anti-bullying efforts in their schools. With the prevalence of bullying among students (about 13 million American kids are bullied each year) and with National Bullying Prevention Month happening in October, I thought these college scholarships and contests were timely to write about.

See my recent blog post on college scholarships for National Bullying Prevention Month, plus check out the National Bullying Prevention Center’s website and StopBullying.gov for more information on bullying prevention.