7 Tips for creating your own website

To reap the most rewards from your website, John Soares, a freelance writer and author of the Productive Writers blog, offers advice for each step in the process.

7 Tips for creating your own website

John Soares

John Soares

soares_john_cover

It has become increasingly important for academics to create an online presence as a means of networking and marketing your work. One way to do that is to create your own professional website.

To reap the most rewards from your website, John Soares, a freelance writer and author of the popular Productive Writers blog, offers the following advice for each step in the process: [Read more…]

8 Ways to maximize the joy of writing

John Soares

John Soares

Maximizing my happiness and enjoyment of life is my top priority, and that includes my academic freelance writing.

Like me, you probably spend a lot of time writing. Life is short — make sure you get the most joy out of your writing time by following these 8 tips.

1. Write About What Interests You

Specialize in an academic writing niche you love and you’ll find you look forward to your work. You’ll also likely find greater success: you’ll be more enthusiastic when pitching projects to editors or clients, and you’ll get a lot more done in a given time period.

Two of my great interests in life are hiking and learning. I started my career by writing hiking guidebooks about northern California and newspaper and magazine articles about hiking and travel in California and the western United States. Soon afterward I established my main niche as a writer of college textbook supplements; it allows me to continue to learn about a wide variety of subjects in the social, life, and earth sciences. Since I’m really interested in understanding more about the world, I truly enjoy my work. [Read more…]

How to maximize your productivity

John Soares

“Find the most efficient pattern of getting the work done for a project and then repeat that pattern,” said John Soares, author of Intelligent Productivity for Freelance Writers. “The brain gets accustomed to routines and you’ll find that there are some things you will start doing automatically (and faster) once the routines kick in.”

Writing productivity experts Jayne London and John Soares urge writers to follow a handful of simple and effective steps, such as breaking projects into small chunks, setting deadlines, and minimizing interruptions, in order to maximize productivity.

London is an associate coach for Academic Ladder, a company that focuses on dissertation, academic career, and tenure coaching. She and her colleagues base their productivity training on research that demonstrates that, despite what many in academia may think, the most productive academic writers are often those who write in short but regular sessions.

“We help people to understand that they can get a lot done in 30 minutes,” London said. “Staying engaged with one’s work on a consistent basis is what is most important. That’s when good writing happens.”

In order to write productively in small chunks of time, London suggests breaking projects down into small, manageable pieces that can be completed quickly. Writing in short bursts also requires careful planning. “At the end of each of your writing sessions, you need to make a specific plan for what you’re going to do in the next session,” London said. “If you only have 10 or 15 minutes to write, you need to know exactly what you’re going to work on.”

London also recommends freewriting first and revising later rather than trying to polish ideas as they arise: “We emphasize that you first have to articulate your ideas to yourself and then go back and articulate them so others can understand.”

Another aspect of productive writing is replacing any negative self talk with positive thinking. Negative self talk “really makes writing a very depressing activity and we’re not able to get to our best work if that’s what we’re saying to ourselves,” London said.

Soares, a highly successful textbook supplements writer, blogger, and author of Intelligent Productivity for Freelance Writers, recommends that writers develop routines for their work. “Find the most efficient pattern of getting the work done for a project and then repeat that pattern,” he said. “The brain gets accustomed to routines and you’ll find that there are some things you will start doing automatically (and faster) once the routines kick in.”

He also suggests setting a deadline for each part of a project to motivate oneself to finish the work within a certain schedule.

Many academic writers need to read other materials before they write, and Soares recommends learning to speed read in order to minimize the amount of time spent reading in preparation for writing.

Another major part of being a productive writer is capturing ideas before they slip away. Soares uses a digital recorder to keep track of ideas he gets while he is away from his computer and listens to them later. “It’s crucial that you review your ideas and decide which ones you will implement,” said Soares. He goes through this process weekly.

In addition, it is vital for writers to back up their files regularly to avoid losing their work. “Do this on a daily basis,” Soares advised, “and it’s better to do it more frequently, like every couple of hours or so.” This practice ensures that writers won’t lose valuable time having to rewrite lost documents.

Finally, both London and Soares stress the importance of minimizing interruptions during a writing session. “Whenever something distracts you from your writing, your concentration is broken and you lose time as your mind tries to recover that productive state you were in,” Soares said. This means writing must be a top priority in order to achieve maximum productivity. “If writing is important to you, you have to schedule time for it and protect the time you set aside to write,” London said. “That might mean closing your door, turning off the internet, shutting down email, etc.”

To learn more tips from London and Soares about maximizing your productivity as an academic writer, visit www.academicladder.com and productivewriters.com

7 Tips for creating your own website

John Soares

John Soares

Writing College Textbook Supplements

It has become increasingly important for academics to create an online presence as a means of networking and marketing your work. One way to do that is to create your own professional website.

To reap the most rewards from your website, John Soares, a freelance writer and author of the popular Productive Writers blog (www.productivewriters.com), offers the following advice for each step in the process:

  1. Register a domain name. It is important to create a name that is easy to remember, is fairly short, and is related to the content on your site. You can reserve a domain name at any time—even if you’re not ready to create your website yet—in order to make sure nobody else beats you to it. As Soares suggests, “At a cost of only $10 to $12 each, it is worth the effort and expense to reserve a domain name that you may want in the future.”
  2. Select a hosting service. Using a large, national hosting service is recommended so that you will have access to tech support immediately if you need it. Soares uses hostgator.com for his own websites.
  3. Select software. Soares has long been a proponent of WordPress blogging software for personal websites, even for people who don’t intend to blog. WordPress is a good choice for beginners because it is easy to use and customize, and it is easy to set up for social media sharing and search engine optimization. WordPress is free and comes in two varieties—you can download the software yourself through WordPress.org and host your site elsewhere, or you can create a website that will be hosted by WordPress itself at WordPress.com. Creating a WordPress.com site is the quickest and easiest option, but Soares prefers to download the software through WordPress.org because sites created through WordPress.com have less customizability, must include “wordpress.com” in the domain name, and can be removed by WordPress for any reason. Blogger.com, another free and customizable blogging service, is very similar to WordPress.com in terms of both benefits and limitations.
  4. Design a professional looking website. Make sure the content and formatting on your site is professional and proofread everything carefully. To make your website look as sharp as possible, Soares recommends having your website professionally designed. A professional website developer can help create a site that is attractive, easy to navigate, and maximizes social media integration. “The cost for designing a basic WordPress site ranges from $100 to $500, and the cost goes up from there for a more elaborate site,” said Soares. “It is well worth the investment because it makes a site look more professional. When considering a designer, check references and look at other WordPress sites that designer has created.”
  5. Make your site easy to find. To increase the traffic to your site, learn about search engine optimization (SEO). You can start by learning the basics with a book, but since SEO strategies change frequently, Soares recommends consulting websites such as SEOmoz’s Beginners Guide to SEO or Search Engine Land to stay up-to-date. Another way to increase traffic to your site is to officially submit your website address to search engines Google and Bing. This way they are immediately aware of it and will start indexing key words from your website in their databases so that your page will appear in relevant search results.
  6. Set up social media share buttons. Social media share buttons allow others to share your content with their networks on social media, which can help build your site’s popularity. Soares recommends setting up social media share buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.
  7. Optimize your traffic. Once your site is launched, your number one goal is to increase traffic. In addition to adding your website URL to your email signature and other print materials, you should also work to get reputable individuals and organizations to link to your site. If you write something for other someone else’s website, include a link to your site with your article, and be sure the content on your site is newsworthy so that related websites will link to yours as well.

Throughout this entire process, it is imperative that you make sure your content is interesting, relevant, and updated on a regular basis.

To see Soares’ tips in action and access more information on creating and improving websites, please visit his websites at www.productivewriters.com and http://writingcollegetextbooksupplements.com/blog/.