A Professional Editor’s Favorite Journals and Planners — 5 Notebooks I Use Every Day

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“You don’t need to take notes,” one esteemed lecturer told me and others in the crowd ahead of a highly anticipated presentation on digital publishing. “I’ll send you a PDF of this slideshow.”

I soon found myself in a sea of side-eye when I—undeterred—took out my notebook and recorded the date in the upper right-hand corner.

My mother has accused me of being an “old soul,” and perhaps it’s just a quirk of my personality that I’m keen on pen and paper, but I’m not alone. A 2014 study from researchers at Princeton and UCLA, previously cited in a July 2017 guest post on my blog, showed that taking notes by hand helps with retention in the classroom—largely, they say, because the physical note-taking process forces the listener to actively synthesize, process, and reframe the information being presented.

“The more deeply information is processed during note taking, the greater the encoding benefits,” researchers Pam A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer reported.

If you’re like me, and the majority of the participants in Mueller and Oppenheimer’s study, then taking notes helps you better understand and recall new information—and you’re going to want the right tools for the job. As a freelance writer and editor, here are my five favorite notebooks, journals, and planners—the ones I use on a daily basis and simply can’t live without:

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5 Ways to Boost Your Creativity and Beat Writer’s Block

This year has flown by—can you believe it’s already October?—and as we approach the holidays, many writers will soon find themselves struggling to keep up their regular workflows. Between all the gift-giving, meal cooking, and school–holiday–concert attending, it can be hard to find time to be creative. But you don’t need to let yourself fall into a creative slump.

If you’re feeling out of your element this fall, don’t beat yourself up: you’re not alone. You just have to put in some extra effort to get those creative juices flowing!

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How to Stay Productive in College Despite an Overwhelming Workload

Click here to read my more recent posts.

APR. 2, 2017 — It’s officially April, which means final exams are right around the corner. If you feel absolutely swamped in your college classes, you’ve come to the right place.

Continue reading “How to Stay Productive in College Despite an Overwhelming Workload”

5 Things I Wasn’t Prepared for When I Started My Freelance Business

This article was published Dec. 19, 2016. Click here to read my more recent posts.

Disclaimer: Opinions published on ShellyRawlings.com do not reflect the opinions of my employers or clients and are not intended to be taken as legal, financial, or business advice or other professional counseling (I am not a lawyer or financial adviser—I’m a writer). For more information on this and other terms and conditions, click here.

OK—it’s official. I suck at Blogmas.

But I’m back today with a great, informative post for any aspiring entrepreneurs like myself.

I’m a freelance writer and editor, and while being self-employed is liberating, it comes with its challenges. Between learning how to find my own clients and navigating my own finances (and taxes), catching the entrepreneurial bug has been an uphill battle the whole way. But I’ve learned a thing or two, and in this post, I’m breaking down five of them.

Here are five things I wasn’t prepared for when I first launched my online business:

1. Your blogging experience will carry over—so marketing won’t be as hard as you think.

I’ve been a blogger for about a year now, and I learned a lot more about online marketing than I thought I did through my blog. While blogging for fun, I learned how to utilize social media—especially Pinterest—to drive traffic toward a site, and when you’re an online business, social media optimization is vital.

I didn’t realize that I knew so much about this until I was so successful right from the start. I knew going in that my business needed to have its own website, and that I would need to SEO and SMO the heck out of it, but I didn’t realize that I knew how to do that so well! I already have over 100 views per day on my separate business site, and it’s barely even been up for a full week.

2. Even online, personal relationships are the best way to get paying customers.

At first, I thought that building an awesome website with a popular blog would be the best way to earn me clients—but I was totally wrong. While that stuff is a great way to bring traffic to my site, I’ve really gotten the most paying clients from forums and Facebook groups where I spoke one-on-one with a potential customer, and they liked me so much, they decided to hire me! This personal connection helped them develop a trust in me that converted them from potential clients to paying clients.

3. Visiting competitors’ sites isn’t treasonous—it’s absolutely necessary.

The only way to learn about the business you’re in is to see what others are doing. How do they run their business? Am I operating up to their standards? Am I charging too much or too little? Am I using the correct industry terms? The answers to these questions are all on my competitors’ websites, so I don’t stop myself from taking a look-see.

Additionally, it’s just as important to form solid relationships with your competitors as it is with your clients. In the editing business, we tend to fill up our schedules quickly, and if a fellow editor fills their schedule but I have an opening, I’d love for them to feel comfortable passing that business to me (and vice versa).

4. You have to be willing to turn people down, even if they’re willing to pay.

When I first started freelancing, I basically never said no—especially if I was being paid. And I didn’t argue. You want me to write 5,000 words? Got it. Oh, you need 6,000 now? That’s fine, I’ll do it.

I built a lot of great relationships this way, but I got taken advantage of a lot. I soon decided I wasn’t going to do that anymore.

As an editor, I offer a small free trial of my services to help my authors feel more comfortable choosing me as an editor, and also so I can give them an accurate price for how much work I’ll have to do on the full manuscript. But I soon realized that if I’m going to offer a free service, I need to be very specific on what I will do and what I won’t do for free. I can’t offer more words than what I say I’ll do for free, no exceptions. And I can’t do a complete rewrite of a section for free: it’s a trial solely for the editing service. After all, I started working for myself so I could do what I love and get paid for it, not so I could do what I don’t want to do for free!

5. Work-life balance is going to be even harder when I’m a business owner.

A few months back, I did a blog post all about how to balance your life and bounce back when you’re experiencing burnout. I was totally overworked and my loved ones were suffering because of it, so I promised my family and friends that I would never let my job take away from my time with them. But that became super difficult when I opened my own business.

I always wanted to get back to clients and potential clients immediately, but doing that meant working after-hours when I should have been spending time with the people I love. I have to limit myself and consciously decide to protect the sacred balance between my work and personal life—for my and my family’s sake!

Once I figured out all these things, my business went along a lot smoother…but I had to learn the hard way! Did you?

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How to Bounce Back When You’re on the Verge of Burnout—Balancing School, Work + Relationships

This article was published Oct. 2, 2016.

If you’re feeling mentally (and physically) exhausted, your stress and anxiety levels are through the roof, and you feel like you have nowhere to turn, you’re probably on the verge of burnout—and before you completely lose your passion, it’s time to take a step back and figure out what you can do to balance everything you have going on.

Continue reading “How to Bounce Back When You’re on the Verge of Burnout—Balancing School, Work + Relationships”

9 Items I Keep On my Desk While Working From Home | Productivity Tools for Remote Workers and Freelancers

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, and this post contains affiliate links. If you click any of these links and make a purchase, I’ll earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own and can’t be bought. Thanks so much for supporting me and my blog! (Click here for more info.)

Whether you’re a work-at-home mom who’s looking for a little more organization in your life or a college student looking to be a little more productive when not in the library, here are 9 at-home desk essentials for productive study sessions and effective work habits:

Continue reading “9 Items I Keep On my Desk While Working From Home | Productivity Tools for Remote Workers and Freelancers”

What’s On My iPhone 6S? | Tour + Productivity Tips

This article was first published June 12, 2016. Click here to read my more recent posts.

Our smartphones seem to run our lives nowadays, and since we’re always using them, we’re always looking for ways to make them better and use them more efficiently. If you’re looking for new apps to simplify your life, tips for organizing your home screen, or ideas for battery life optimization, you’ve come to the right place.

Article Contents:
→ The Tour
→ Productivity Tips: How To Keep Your Battery Life (And Available Storage) High

Continue reading “What’s On My iPhone 6S? | Tour + Productivity Tips”

Stay Organized With My Due Date Spreadsheet — Free Printable

As a college student, it’s crucial to start the semester strong with a consistent method of tracking your assignments—but if a traditional paper planner isn’t your style, you might have better luck with my Due Date Spreadsheet.

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