New Freelance Writer Community: About Writing Squared

by John Soares on April 9, 2012

Freelance writers really benefit when they share their knowledge and experiences with colleagues and get both positive feedback and constructive criticism. Today I’m honored to share an interview I did with Anne Wayman and Lori Widmer, the founders of About Writing Squared: The Supportive Community for Freelance Writers and Other Creatives. It only costs five bucks a month — and that’s not an affiliate link. I’ve been a happy member from the beginning, and I get a lot out of AWS, including both positive feedback and constructive criticism.

Let’s get started!

What’s your background in freelance writing?

Freelance writer Lori Widmer.

Lori Widmer

Lori Widmer: I started freelancing in 1988 very sporadically. I was working with local newspapers as a correspondent, so I branched out into the Pittsburgh newspaper, then the regional magazines. A divorce and across-the-state move later, I was working at a magazine. The day I got told my services were no longer required, I started the full-time freelance career. I haven’t looked back.

Freelance writer Anne Wayman

Anne Wayman

Anne Wayman: I’ve been freelancing longer than I care to admit – more than 30 years. I’m ‘privately educated’ which is code for mostly self-taught. I love freelancing and have been known to say that I’m an excellent worker and a lousy employee.

Why did you two decide to create About Writing Squared?

Lori Widmer: I’ve been privileged to be Anne’s cyber friend for years, having followed her from About.com to her own blog and forum. She’s a super talent and just a darned nice person to be around. She and I had been talking over the years about some sort of collaboration, and one day we decided to try our collaborative skills out on a webinar. From there, we put together the forum. We wanted a place where career freelancers could hang out, as well as the occasional newbie. There are so many sites and forums out there devoted to the new freelancer, but relatively little available to freelancers who have active careers. They don’t want to read yet another post on how to start their business – they have one already. They want to know how to find marketing time, how to improve their collections, how to increase their client base. That’s what we hope to bring to them.

Anne Wayman: Lori and I have been hanging out together for years. When I was the freelance writing guide at about.com she actually became a co-moderator of my forum there. We decided we wanted to create a forum that would limit the snarking and offer real support. We also wanted to deliver webinars to freelance writers and to expand our joint efforts to help business writers – those folks who have to write for their businesses but don’t know how to do it.

I bet there’s a story behind the name About Writing Squared. Please share!

Lori Widmer: It’s a simple one – About is a brand Anne is already known by, and the “Writing Squared” is simply “Wayman and Widmer.”

Anne Wayman: My daughter who carried both her father’s name (Wilder) and my maiden name (Wayman) in college became known as Linda W Squared. When it dawned on me that Lori and I are both Ws I suggested About Writing Squared. She went for it.

What are the main benefits of joining AWS?

Lori Widmer: You get access to some great freelance talent. I think one of the primary benefits of the forum is being in the company of some great freelancers. Beyond that, the forum gives members a free monthly group phone call – sort of our mastermind, catch-all call where we answer each others’ questions, toss out ideas, and get to know each other. Plus, members get discounts on courses, webinars, e-books, etc. Every week on the forum we post Top Magazine Markets – I try to keep them at $1/word and above – and Tip of the Week exercises to get writers thinking and practicing better work habits.

Anne Wayman: The most obvious benefit is the 5 Buck Forum which is meant to be and turning out to be a truly supportive community for freelance writers. In addition to the forum members also get greatly reduced prices on our webinars, ebooks any anything else we decide to offer.

What’s the range of skill levels of the freelance writers who are currently members?

Lori Widmer: Right now we have a strong mid-level and higher skill level. We have beginners and up-and-coming freelancers, too. The current membership is varied enough that the discussions are fruitful and eye-opening.

Anne Wayman: We’ve got a good mix of almost new to quite experienced writers which makes for great idea exchanges. I’ve been delighted with the quality of suggestions and the genuine mutual concern and compassion.

What are the most active forums on AWS?

Lori Widmer: Right now, that seems to be What Did You Blog About Today? We share our own blog links and have some good discussions around them. Other active areas seem to be Getting Started with Clients and Marketing.

Anne Wayman: It changes almost daily. The most read may be Lori’s $1/word markets every week, although there aren’t many comments there, not surprisingly. When someone posts a query asking for critiques there’s lots of friendly feedback. Blog posts are also popular and some surprising things show up in Odds and Ends. For example, a post called “It’s okay to be bored” got lots of comments. So did a plea for help moving a blog to word press. In other words, the forum is open to tackling anything that writers are concerned about or interested in.

What’s a good example of a forum topic that’s generated a lot of good discussion?

Lori Widmer: One was “It’s Okay to be Bored” – started by Anne – and we had a lot of fun trying to talk each other through some of those boring assignments we’ve taken and how we survived. One of my personal favorites is the Rejection Review, which we’ve not really gotten much feedback on yet, but is an area where we dissect a query and help the writer refocus it for better results. I also like our Referral Group forum, where we post our backgrounds and use that space to give and accept referrals from other members.

Anne Wayman: See what I’ve said above!

What are the main priorities for About Writing Squared in 2012?

Lori Widmer: We’re looking to grow our membership. We love how many we have now, but we’re hoping to increase our numbers. Also, we want to provide more of the webinars that our current members have found value in. We’ve tapped into some great webinar topics and presenters. We’re planning to expand into a non-writing market with some of our Webinars. There’s a a lot of bad writing in the corporate world, and we can certainly help elevate their communications.

Anne Wayman: The most obvious is increasing our membership while still making sure everyone feels supported – that’s critical to us. We’re also planning some webinars and maybe even a master mind group – and we’re wide open to suggestions from members and others.

Your Take

What are your thoughts and questions regarding About Writing Squared? Ask away and Lori and Anne will answer!

Freelance writers who specialize make much more money than those who don't. My short and focused course Find Your Freelance Writing Niches: Make More Money for Less Work guides you through all the key steps you need to take to discover the specialties that will take your freelance writing income to a much higher level. Click here for all the details.

    { 46 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Lori April 9, 2012 at 5:45 AM

    Twitter: @LoriWidmer

    John, thanks again for the interview! We really appreciate the opportunity to meet your readers and make some new friends.
    Lori recently posted…Things That Are Never Okay

    Reply

    2 John Soares April 9, 2012 at 6:55 AM

    Very happy to help out Lori, and I really appreciate that you and Anne took the time to answer my questions. You both have done a great job with About Writing Squared.
    John Soares recently posted…How the 80-20 Rule Affects Freelance Writers

    Reply

    3 John Soares April 9, 2012 at 6:57 AM

    I get a lot from About Writing Squared. It feels good to know that I can hang out with other freelance writers behind closed doors and talk about the business — the good parts and the not-so-good parts.

    Probably my favorite forum is “The Writing Business.”
    John Soares recently posted…Why I Updated My Freelance Writer Resume

    Reply

    4 Anne Wayman April 9, 2012 at 8:13 AM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    do you mean the one from the UK? What do you like best there?
    Anne Wayman recently posted…Editing – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

    Reply

    5 Anne Wayman April 9, 2012 at 6:59 AM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    John, thanks so much for the interview – like Lori I’m looking forward to meeting your readers… happy also to answer questions about the forum and maybe even tease folks a bit about some of the new plans we’re tossing around for adding additional value.
    Anne Wayman recently posted…Freelance Writing – How To Break In

    Reply

    6 John Soares April 9, 2012 at 7:18 AM

    I’m very happy to introduce my readers to About Writing Squared.

    New plans for adding additional value? We’re all ears!
    John Soares recently posted…Is a College Education Necessary to Be a Successful Freelance Writer?

    Reply

    7 Anne Wayman April 9, 2012 at 8:14 AM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    Lori and are are arm wrestling right now about several options… just call me tease at the moment.
    Anne Wayman recently posted…Four For Friday Writing Fun – From Time-To-Time

    Reply

    8 Sharon Hurley Hall April 9, 2012 at 8:21 AM

    Twitter: @shurleyhall

    Great interview, John, and nice to find out more about plans for AWS. It is the ONLY forum I have stuck with for this long, because the chance to talk about the writing biz with colleagues behind closed doors is surprisingly addictive. It’s become one of my must-check sites every day and I really value the camaraderie and good advice available there.
    Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted…My Blogging Adventures 2012

    Reply

    9 John Soares April 9, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    Sharon, that’s also what I value most. There are things I’ll say inside there that I won’t put on my blog, or say in a comment in a blog post.

    And it’s only five bucks a month…
    John Soares recently posted…Six Tips for Marketing Your Freelance Writing from Lori Widmer

    Reply

    10 Sharon Hurley Hall April 9, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    Twitter: @shurleyhall

    No argument from me about the value, John – it’s the best 5 bucks I spend each month! :)
    Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted…My Blogging Adventures 2012

    Reply

    11 Anne Wayman April 9, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    Thanks Sharon – you’re just one of the members that makes it all worthwhile… truly.
    Anne Wayman recently posted…Good Writers Read – It’s Part Of Why They Are Good Writers

    Reply

    12 Sharon Hurley Hall April 9, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    Twitter: @shurleyhall

    Thanks, Anne. :)
    Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted…My Blogging Adventures 2012

    Reply

    13 Tracy April 9, 2012 at 8:47 AM

    Twitter: @TJDerrell

    I very much enjoyed the behind-the-scenes story! Thanks!

    Reply

    14 Anne Wayman April 9, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    Hey Tracy, we have no secrets, really.
    Anne Wayman recently posted…Why Freelance Writers Need To Fail

    Reply

    15 Terri Carr April 9, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    Hi All,

    As a fairly new member of the forum, I also wanted to chime in here. I have to say I really appreciate the 5 Buck Forum. Anne & Lori and several other veteran writers generously share advice and experience that is truly aimed at helping other writers succeed. The atmosphere is totally supportive.

    This post also reminds me that I mainly go right to the forum and have not actually checked out the rest of what About Writing Squared has to offer. Thanks, all.
    Terri

    Reply

    16 John Soares April 9, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    Thanks for stopping by Terri. Folks are very supportive in there, and that’s important for all writers at every level.
    John Soares recently posted…The Well-Organized Freelance Writer’s Home Office

    Reply

    17 Anne Wayman April 9, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    That’s so good to hear Terry… that’s exactly what we’re trying to do.
    Anne Wayman recently posted…Why Freelance Writers Need To Fail

    Reply

    18 Cathy Miller April 9, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    Twitter: @millercathy

    As a card-carrying member of AWS, I couldn’t be any happier. Like Sharon, I don’t hang out in forums much (only one other for me). The best thing about it is how supportive and generous the community is.

    I have been writing forever, but I have not owned my business a long time. I find the support and information at AWS invaluable.

    Great interview, John. Thanks for taking the initiative.
    Cathy Miller recently posted…Solid Business Writing Lessons From Ice Road Truckers

    Reply

    19 John Soares April 9, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    We all have to be careful about how we spend our time, especially online. AWS is one of the few places where I hang out regularly. I think I’ve posted over 130 times in there so far.
    John Soares recently posted…The Well-Organized Freelance Writer’s Home Office

    Reply

    20 Anne Wayman April 9, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    Card carrying – maybe we should issue cards? Might actually be fun at some point.

    Cathy, glad you’re finding the forum helpful… we enjoy having you there.
    Anne Wayman recently posted…Writing Fiction or Nonfiction

    Reply

    21 Lori April 9, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    Twitter: @LoriWidmer

    Cathy, I’m a card-carrying member of your posse. :) You’re one of the reasons the forum is successful, so thank you to you (and to all the forum members) for bringing your expertise and great interactions for everyone to share.
    Lori recently posted…Things That Are Never Okay

    Reply

    22 John Soares April 10, 2012 at 6:52 AM

    And I’ll second that. Cathy, you give a lot of good advice inside AWS.
    John Soares recently posted…Claiming Copyright Protection for Your E-Book

    Reply

    23 Lori April 9, 2012 at 10:26 AM

    Twitter: @LoriWidmer

    Wow, glad to see so many people commenting! Sharon, we consider ourselves lucky to have you and Cathy Miller as part of our forum family.

    Terri, it’s wonderful having you on board, too. Thanks for the glowing recommendation! It’s appreciated.

    Tracy, now you know the story behind the forum. :) Glad you’re part of the forum, too. I hope the conversations have been helpful to you.
    Lori recently posted…Things That Are Never Okay

    Reply

    24 Sharon Hurley Hall April 9, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    Twitter: @shurleyhall

    Thanks, Lori. :)
    Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted…My Blogging Adventures 2012

    Reply

    25 Lori April 9, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    Twitter: @LoriWidmer

    Sharon, I’ll confess — the day you signed up, I went squealing to Anne “We have Sharon! We have Sharon!” It was like striking gold. :) I’m a fan, toots.
    Lori recently posted…Things That Are Never Okay

    Reply

    26 Sharon Hurley Hall April 9, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    Twitter: @shurleyhall

    Now I’m blushing, Lori. :)
    Sharon Hurley Hall recently posted…My Blogging Adventures 2012

    Reply

    27 Anne Wayman April 9, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    She did, Sharon, she squealed!
    Anne Wayman recently posted…Why Freelance Writers Need To Fail

    Reply

    28 Wade Finnegan April 9, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    Twitter: @qualitywriting

    The forum is spectacular. It is the best 5 dollars I spend on my business, hands down. I really appreciate you putting the word out, John. I would like to see AWS grow because it is deserving. Anne and Lori give so much for so little.

    Reply

    29 John Soares April 10, 2012 at 6:54 AM

    The cost is so low that I don’t even think about it; however, I’ve been a member of other sites where the cost was north of $20 bucks a month, and I would evaluate whether or not it was worth it.
    John Soares recently posted…The Well-Organized Freelance Writer’s Home Office

    Reply

    30 Anne Wayman April 9, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    (we paid him to say that) – just kidding of course. Wade, it’s our forum members who are spectacular… truly.
    Anne Wayman recently posted…Why Freelance Writers Need To Fail

    Reply

    31 Lori April 10, 2012 at 6:12 AM

    Twitter: @LoriWidmer

    Wade, we really appreciate your support. You’re part of what makes it a great place to hang out!
    Lori recently posted…Writing Tool #3: Time Management

    Reply

    32 Greg April 10, 2012 at 8:12 AM

    Nice interview. I don’t know what to say about the forum… it’s truly supportive and it’s really helping to give me the confidence nudge I need to get out of various ruts in my writing career. It’s a wonderful group of people.

    Reply

    33 Anne Wayman April 10, 2012 at 8:28 AM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    Greg, you just said a whole bunch… we think you’re pretty wonderful too.
    Anne Wayman recently posted…Freelance Writing – How To Break In

    Reply

    34 Lori April 10, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    Twitter: @LoriWidmer

    Greg, we’re happy to have you there. You make it special, too.
    Lori recently posted…Writing Tool #3: Time Management

    Reply

    35 Luana Spinetti April 10, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Twitter: @luanatf

    Wow, John– fabulous interview! :) I’ve always been a fan of Anne and Lori, and their truly addictive blogs.

    That makes me think I should come back to the forum. I haven’t been there in weeks.

    Anne, Lori– that idea for the the forum’s name was absolutely GENIAL! :D

    ~ Luana S.

    Reply

    36 John Soares April 10, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    Thanks Luana! Please do come back to the forums; we’d love to see you again.
    John Soares recently posted…Why Choosing the Right Words Matters

    Reply

    37 Luana Spinetti April 16, 2012 at 3:41 AM

    Twitter: @luanatf

    It was too good to come back, John! :)

    Reply

    38 Anne Wayman April 10, 2012 at 12:49 PM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    By all means come back Luna – the name was an inspiration… Lori and I had been kicking around names and prices and I was walking out the door to a meeting and 5 Buck Forum appeared in my head. When I got back I sent an email to Lori… I don’t think I even asked her!
    Anne Wayman recently posted…Self-Publishing Links I Like – Resource Roundup Tuesday

    Reply

    39 Luana Spinetti April 16, 2012 at 3:45 AM

    Twitter: @luanatf

    I think you and Lori have genius brains. Period. ;)

    And it was wonderful to come back– the boards are a little comfy home.

    Reply

    40 Samar | The Writing Base April 12, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    Twitter: @samarowais

    I feel like smacking myself silly right now. I’m one of your silent readers Anne and Lori (John, yours too!) and I had no idea about the forum until today. I have no idea how I missed it.

    I’ve spent a LOT of money of forums and have left each of them after a while because of one reason or other.

    I’m off right now to sign up.

    Reply

    41 Anne Wayman April 12, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    And she did… Samar, glad you’re joining us – maybe I need to do another article on it! Great observation that you missed it… you’re probably not the only one… knowing that is helpful. (How does one stage a parade on the internet?)
    Anne Wayman recently posted…9 Ways To Writers (Or Anyone) Can Quit Getting Down On Themselves

    Reply

    42 John Soares April 12, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    Glad you joined Samar! You were one of the first writers I connected with when I first started blogging.
    John Soares recently posted…Is a College Education Necessary to Be a Successful Freelance Writer?

    Reply

    43 Samar | The Writing Base April 12, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Twitter: @samarowais

    Anne – I really think you should! I suggest doing more guest posts and interviews – a blog tour of sorts. Do a post on your and Lori’s blog about the forum. Ask your forum members to talk about their experience with AWS on their respective blogs or however they want to do it.

    I know I’m going to be doing a post about online forums for freelancers and bloggers and giving you guys a shout out.

    John – I remember :) I’m so happy that your blog has taken off the way it has. I’m back to freelancing after an affair with a full time job. Hehe. Now that I’m back, you’ll be seeing more of me :)

    Reply

    44 Anne Wayman April 12, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    We’ve got some good comments and I’ll do an article… next week sometime… thanks
    Anne Wayman recently posted…Self-Publishing Links I Like – Resource Roundup Tuesday

    Reply

    45 Becca April 12, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    Thanks for the share John. Even you did not accept my past comments here. I keep coming back cos i learn a lot from your post especially this one. I am aspiring writer and i really want to learn more on writing. keep on posting.

    Becca

    Reply

    46 Anne Wayman April 12, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    Twitter: @annewayman

    Becca, keep working at it and you can probably become published… sounds like you’re willing to work at it.
    Anne Wayman recently posted…9 Ways To Writers (Or Anyone) Can Quit Getting Down On Themselves

    Reply

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