How can you overcome your biggest fear

Even though Catherine grew up splashing around in shallow lakes and even water-skiing, she never really knew how to swim.

But when a group of friends invited her on a white-water-rafting trip on the Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania, she thought she’d give it a try. After all, she’d always managed just fine with a life jacket. Then her raft hit a huge rock. Catherine was tossed into the rough water and immediately pulled under by an eddy. overcome my fear (3)

As it turned out, her life jacket wasn’t fastened properly. Instead of keeping her afloat, it pressed against her eyes and mouth. She found herself gasping for air. “I remember thinking, I haven’t breathed in a really long time. This isn’t good,” says Catherine, who was 29 at the time.

Fortunately, a passing kayaker rescued her. “But I was completely traumatized,” she says. “I refused to get back into the water with my friends and ended up hiking five miles to our camp.” After that, Catherine had a deep fear of the water—any water.

Finally, her husband, Alan, who grew up boating, made her a deal. “He said, ‘If you take swimming lessons, I’ll take dance lessons,’” she says. “I’ve been wanting him to dance for years.” So she signed up for a session with Beth Davis, a swim coach. Just wading into the indoor pool for her first private lesson started Catherine’s heart pounding. “I was full of terror,” she says. “When water went up my nose, I started coughing and felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was having flashbacks to the river.” Nevertheless, Catherine came back once a week for three months. She and Beth talked a lot during those sessions. “During one class, we didn’t even get in the water,” Catherine says. “Beth explained that few people who set a massive goal ever meet it. overcome my fear (4)

She told me, ‘Yard by yard is hard, but inch by inch is a cinch.’ That philosophy of taking small steps really resonated with me.” Maybe that’s because Beth was such a good role model for overcoming fear. An avid rock climber, she’d recently fallen 20 feet and endured a harrowing stay in the hospital. Still, she resumed climbing. “I could see the scars from her surgery,” Catherine says. “When I felt scared in the pool, I’d look over at Beth. I’d think about what she’d overcome, and I’d ask myself, ‘What am I so scared of?’” After two years, Catherine says, she felt comfortable swimming in the deep end. And after three, she could swim a whole lap there. These days she swims three mornings a week, sometimes with Alan, who still hasn’t signed up for those dance lessons! “But we have an amazing relationship,” she says. “Alan encourages and supports me, and I guess now we dance when we swim together.”

Many people are petrified to speak in public. Jackie used to be scared to speak to anyone.

“I couldn’t talk on the phone or say hello to a co-worker,” she says. “If a waiter remembered my order when I went back to a restaurant, I was mortified.” Jackie wasn’t an introvert, and she wasn’t shy, exactly. She had social anxiety disorder, a paralyzing fear of being judged and embarrassed in almost any social situation. She traces her anxiety to her childhood, when her family moved frequently because of her father’s job. By the time she was 9 years old, she’d gone to seven different schools.overcome my fear (5)

After one move, when she was in fourth grade, she had particular trouble making new friends. One day when she went out of home to buy a best rated vacuum since her house had many steps but she can not even talked to the customer service. From there, her fears snowballed to the point where she even avoided making eye contact with classmates. “I spent recess walking the outskirts of the playground by myself,” she says. Through college, marriage and motherhood, her anxiety remained. Then, in 2008, when Jackie turned 40, she went to a meeting she’d read about for shy people in her area. It was the first place she heard the term social anxiety. After she googled its symptoms, she had an epiphany: “The way I was feeling wasn’t because of my personality,” she says. “I had a real disorder that could be fixed.” Armed with her new knowledge, she signed up for weekly cognitive behavioral group therapy, led by a psychologist who used exercises to help Jackie and a dozen others with social anxiety disorder.

During one such exercise, Jackie was asked to make small talk for several minutes with the person nearest her, then switch to a new person until she’d chatted up everyone in the room. The only thing that got her through the excruciating exercise was “knowing that everyone else was just as anxious as me,” she says. Still, Jackie froze when it came time for a bigger assignment: attending a pool party at a group member’s home. A few days before, Jackie’s stomach was already in knots.

She called the group leader, who pointed out that she was getting caught up in her usual pattern of negative thoughts. He suggested she practice positive “coping statements” such as “When this is over, I’ll be happy that I went.” “I repeated them in my head, and they helped,” she says. “I was able not only to go to the party but also to feel glad I’d gone.” At one point during her therapy, she and her husband went out to dinner—and she found herself actually joking with the server. Learning to relax and think more positively still helps Jackie conquer her fears every day. “Today I can hang out and talk to people—even strangers—just like everybody else,” she says proudly. “A few years ago, I never would have dreamed that was possible.”

When Lovelyn was 6 years old and on the way to visit family during a heavy rainstorm, she witnessed a horrific crash on a twisting Pennsylvania road.

“I heard a loud bang,” she recalls, “and when I turned to look out the window, I saw two people flying out of a car. The man spun like a break-dancer.” The experience didn’t stop Lovelyn from riding as a passenger, but she avoided driving at all costs. “My parents had to force me to get my license,” she says. “When my mom let me buy her junky Chevette from her for $300, I was more excited to decorate it than to drive it.”overcome my fear (1)

Throughout college, Lovelyn’s Chevette mostly sat untouched in the parking lot. After graduation, when she absolutely had to drive to various jobs, she would, but it felt like torture. She avoided busy roads and making left- hand turns because she’d have to drive across oncoming traffic. She worried about cars rear-ending her. Once she married, she relied on her husband, Patrick, to transport her places. “If I was going somewhere new, I’d have him drive me there first so I could see all the turns or roads to avoid,” she says.

“Then I broke out in a sweat and white-knuckled the steering wheel.” When she and Patrick, who is British, moved to a town just outside London in 2008, she was thrilled—the extensive public transportation in the United Kingdom meant she’d almost never have to drive. But when they moved back to Florida in 2012, her old fears returned and were even more intense. “The first time I got back behind the wheel, my neck and shoulders tensed up and I began sweating,” she says. “I ended up going to an unfamiliar supermarket simply because it was closer and didn’t involve a scary left turn. They didn’t havewhat I needed, but I just came home anyway.” In 2013, Lovelyn, a voracious reader, came across Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, a self-help book. Its premise—that meditation can lead to lasting changes—intrigued her. “In the past, I’d been willing myself to change, but it hadn’t worked,” she says. “Meditation seemed like it might be the answer.” overcome my fear (2)

After finishing the book, she began watching instructional videos that meditation teachers uploaded to YouTube. The first time she tried to follow along with a video, it didn’t go well. “I desperately tried to relax,” she remembers. “Instead, I ended up feeling likeI couldn’t breathe.” But instead of giving up, she kept trying to meditate. Then one day it dawned on her: “There was no mystical secret,” she says. “All I had to do was sit quietly and focus on my breathing. Once I did that, something clicked.” Meditation calmed her—to the point where she felt she could tackle her fear of driving. “Did my heart still race? Did I still sweat like a pig? Yes!” she says. “But I forced myself to drive anyway. Each time I did, I became a little less anxious.” Lovelyn still feels a clutch of terror every now and then when she is driving alone. “But now,” she says, “I have that tool of mindfulness in my pocket and can pull it out at any time.”

Six Things Your Boss Wants You to Know

We spend more time at work than anywhere else, but do we really know what it is our bosses want from us? Sure, the obvious answer would be to complete the tasks and objectives at hand, but that’s not really what it’s all about. Former chairperson and chief executiveof Xerox Corporation, AnneM Mulcahy,once said:Six Things Your Boss Wants You to Know
“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied and more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.” So what is really expected of you to be able to reach this profitability at work and to achieve the maximum level of success?


How many times have you put your hand up when your boss requires volunteers for a project she’s starting? Being keen is often a characteristic that many people dislike or try to avoid because no one wants to be that “eager beaver” in the office. But sometimes it can pay off. President and chief executive of leadership firm Lead From Within, Lolly Daskal, says the phrase “I’ll do it” is one your boss wants to hear.Six Things Your Boss Wants You to Know (1)

“When you’re already in a high-pressure position, nobody wants to take on more responsibility. But if you look at it from a different perspective, it’s really an opportunity to show your boss that you’re proactive, willing to pitch in, are a team player and are reliable. It establishes you as a natural ‘go-to’ person,” she writes in Inc magazine. She adds that although it may seem like a bit of extra work, the benefits are tremendous. It’s worth mentioning that this type of eager is not to be confused with being a people pleaser.


Often underrated,this is an important factor in the workplace. There’s a woman in our office who never turns down an opportunity to help because she understands the importance of the role she plays and that helping out isn’t a step down for her. In a world driven by success, it’s easy to make it all about you.

People would much rather look out for themselves than consider the well being of a company at large. Although sometimes that reasoning is justifiable, being a team player can be beneficial. Robert Galford, the managing partner of the Center for Leading Organisations, writes in the Harvard Business Review that your boss wants you to “build a following of competent people who trust you, trust each other, keep you in the loop, and feel as if you are there to help and guide without getting in the way”.

Six Things Your Boss Wants You to Know (2)

Daskal further elaborates this by saying that hearing the words “I can help” is a good thing. “Offering to help a colleague who is stuck, overburdened or unexpectedly called away shows interest and a willingness to do more. It also demonstrates your focus on the big picture rather than your own role, and it casts you as an agent of camaraderie and collaboration,” she adds. So next time there’s a crisis, get stuck in and help where you can.


Being optimistic really does pay off sometimes, and although many might think it’s a waste of energy, looking for that silver lining can help you get ahead. Having a solution to a problem not only shows initiative, but displays you are always fully present in the workplace. Daskal writes: “Bosses hear a lot of problems all day, and they’re usually the ones who have to come up with all the solutions. The next time there’s an issue you need to bring to your boss’ attention, come prepared with a solution in hand.” Anyone can identify a problem, but coming up with an action plan is what really counts.Six Things Your Boss Wants You to Know (3)

The chief executive and founder of publishing and consulting firm Human Workplace, Liz Ryan, told LinkedIn that the workplace is in fact a place to solve problems. “You learn something new and grow your flame a little bit more every time you solve a problem at work,” she says.


Being transparent in your work environment isn’t just something to do for you to feel good about, it can be a huge growth point in terms of accountability and keeping the channels of communication open and free. Daskal says: “When you make a mistake – and we all make mistakes, even the best of us–find a way to come to your boss and say, ‘I made a mistake and took care of it.’

If possible, also share what you’re doing to prevent it from happening again. In that way, what’s most memorable is not the mistake but your responsibility and accountability.” Honesty is underrated, with many sweeping things under the carpet and leaving them to fester. Ryan goes as far as saying that one owes their employer the truth about what happens in the workplace. Six Things Your Boss Wants You to Know (4)

“When you speak up, your muscles grow,” she adds. Trial lawyer and contributor on, G Grant Dixon III, writes thatconfessing and rectifying your mistakes means you’re human. “You are going to make mistakes, no matter how hard you try,” he says. So accepting that and being honest about those mistakes is worth it.


Tembisa, 32, works at a call centre. She was desperate when she accepted the job, and doesn’t enjoy going to work anymore. In 2013, the Washington Post reported that only 13% of people worldwide actually
enjoy going to work. This boils down to passion: Does the job mean a lot to you or is it just a nine-to-five and a secure salary? “If you hate your job, start a stealth job search on the side, but don’t slack off in your current role. That isn’t fair to your employer, its customers or your team-mates. It’s not fair to yourself. As long as you have the job, put your heart into it,” Ryan emphasises.

There aren’t a lot of people who can say that they’re truly passionate about the work that they do, but it’s never too late to work towards that passion. For some, it comes easier than others, but if you haven’t found a way to make your passion your work yet, push what you’re doing with respect for yourself. Ryan shares her motto for this particular point: “An employee’s job is to give his or her best work every day. A manager’s job is to give the employee a good reason to come back to work tomorrow.”


Not everyone is confident in expressing themselves, but coming out of your shell can really help you stand out. Daskal says: “It’s great for your boss to know you can fix things and that you’re willing to go beyond expectations, but it’s when you bring new ideas to the table that you really shine.”

She highlights that being seen for what you can do and who you are is the first step to this. If you’ve been putting yourself out there and just not getting any joy from your employer, keep trying, and if that doesn’t work, maybe it’s time to move on. Author of New York Times bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain, is a perfect example of someone for whom speaking out paid off. She writes: “I am not a natural self-discloser at all. It took me 30 years to realise my childhood dream of becoming a writer, partly because I was afraid to write about personal things – yet these were the subjects I was drawn to.

Eventually, my drive to write grew stronger than my fear, and I’ve never looked back.” Although these are but a few of the things that make bosses tick, they’re definitely worth trying to apply in your workplace. ■

When maths help you find the perfect job!

How would traumatizing mathematics help in any way when you are thrown away on the job market and trying to sell your skills and assets to the highest bidder?
Brett Nelson, a former engineer and editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine, has come up with a formula designed to help you find the perfect job! What does it do you don’t do? It helps you find the so-called “confidence factor”, a ratio between 0% and 100%. Further explanations ahead.

math finding job (2)

And now nerds are smiling and beating everyone up!

(that is figuratively… but still!)
And now would be the time for the most reluctant of us when faced to mathematics, numbers, ratios and formulas to happily turn their jacket and find the perfect job! Mr. Nelson and his formula will make you appreciate the company of numbers. Yes, it surely seems a bit scary at first sight, but his calculations are still quite simple:

CF = 0.2x(Salary) + 0.15x(Satisfaction) + 0.15x(Opportunity) + 0.1x(Personal Time) + 0.1x(Company’s culture) + 0.1x(Company’s financial health) + 0.05x(Company’s location) + 0.05x(Team work) + 0.05x(Professional evolution) + 0.05x(Interactions in and outside the company)

And now on your way to calculate your “confidence factor” (CF):

  • Salary : Is this job well enough payed? Does your salary cover your needs? Each time, pick a ratio from 0% to 100%.
  • Satisfaction : Do you really enjoy the job you do or do you just do it without looking for improvement?
  • Opportunity : Shall this job allow you to evolve and lead you to the position you eventually really wish to occupy and fulfill?
  • Personal time : Does this job still leaves you enough time to actually enjoy your personal life?personal life
  • Company culture : Do you feel comfortable in your work environment as well as with your colleagues?
  • Financial health : Is your company thriving or meeting difficulties?
  • Location : Does the location of the company, where you shall eventually work, suit you?
  • Team work : Does the job involve team work or solo? Pick this ration according to your personal preferences.
  • Professional evolution : Shall the job ever stay the same or will you be in charge of multiple tasks during this mission?
  • Interactions : Shall you work with a number of companies or in direct contact with customers/users during your mission?

To each variable a ration that you pick from 0% to 100%, 0% being entirely unsatisfied and 100% extremely satisfied. Example: the proposed salary – or the one you actually perceive – is entirely satisfactory to you; coefficient for salary being 0,2, multiply 0,2 by, let’s say, 90 (because who is always entirely satisfied with his salary, right?), hence: 95 x 0,2.

And so on for each factor involved here: location of the company is to far from home? Note it 30 x 0,05 or maybe 35. You will be in direct contact with users and it’s a supplementary motivation to work? Well, who knows, they might be unpleasant, but that’s a plus! Note it 80 x 0,05. And the list goes on and on.

To each his own calculator

Thus add up every factor and you will end up with your CF or “confidence factor”. To be sure that the Nelson formula has done the job, the inventor warns, be always sure that the sum be > 1. What’s more, if some factors are found irrelevant to your own situation, simply put them away of the equation.
Now to find out the results:

  1. If your CF or “confidence factor” is under 60%, you should not, very clearly, accept the job offered to you, or you should quit the one you currently occupy (theoretically of course!).
  2. Your CF goes between 61% and 75%? Good enough, but you should still think it through: you can do better.
  3. If your CF is over 75%, this job is for you!
  4. Beyond 90%, that is perfection.

And after this tremendous effort in mobilizing my neurons for this career equation I need to go back to my best mattress for side sleepers for a nighty night, probably…

it is a small calculation before you start
it is a small calculation before you start

But before that, one last quick add from Mr. Nelson before you write your resignation letter and go off for a better job:
“This formula is not rigorously scientific but it will certainly allow you to clarify your thoughts and take the best of decisions amongst your possible options” … No rush!

A modest proposal: how to open and run a business by using sewing skill


Cathe lives a simple life by choice in Northern California after opting to give up her steady paycheck to stay home with her family and develop her creative business. From her roots as a graphic designer, she created a thriving DIY crafting business that will be reflected in the new series, “Inspired Barn,” a nod to the way her business grew from her bedroom to her garage to a barn makeover.

Designer and Artist Cathe Holden Shares Her Rich and Frugal Life in Her “Inspired Barn” Video Series
Designer and Artist Cathe Holden Shares Her Rich and Frugal Life in Her “Inspired Barn” Video Series

Everything was created on a tight budget, but the results are beautiful. Here, Cathe shares how she crafted her dream and her tips for living a modest and creative life.

Amber Eden: Can you tell us more about your philosophy for creating Inspired Barn?

Cathe Holden: After an incredible wide-reaching audience response to my design and craft blog, I was often requested to instruct and speak at various creative events around the country. With young children at home it wasn’t always ideal for me to be away. So after a few years of traveling to teach, it occurred to me that I could invite attendees to classes in my very own workshop here in Petaluma. My husband and I repurposed a large storage outbuilding on our property into a big craft studio and classroom.

 Ephemera DIY Felt Coasters and Tray Kit
Ephemera DIY Felt Coasters and Tray Kit

Here I can work, craft, assemble kits, and host DIY events in my community. However, teaching only in Northern California is somewhat limiting to those who are unable to attend because of location, and so the “Inspired Barn” video series was born. Now I can share my favorite craft projects, techniques, and style with anyone. And now that my kids are all grown, who knows, I may even one day take “Inspired Barn” on the road.

AE: You talk about living well, but living modestly. Your barn is so gorgeous. Can you explain how that came together with your resources and resourcefulness?

CH: I love to shop and collect vintage items, but I’m frugal and I’m patient. I collect only practical items that can be used as materials in craft projects, to store craft materials, or as furniture and furnishings that benefit the process of crafting. I have a good idea of what I’m looking for at all times and will wait and search until I find it or something similar at the lowest price possible. I frequent eBay, Etsy, Craigslist, and flea markets on a very regular basis with a savviness for the search.

 Cathe’s desk, where she works her crafting magic.
Cathe’s desk, where she works her crafting magic.

Many of the larger furniture pieces in my workshop were items pulled from our home such as breakfast and dining tables, bookcases, and cupboards, all which were initially acquired inexpensively or second hand. Smaller items such as a watch case and office supply cabinets for housing small supplies were found at flea markets, estate sales, or local antique shops. Having an overall theme helps keep a cohesive, balanced look in the space.

I refer to my decorating style for the barn as mercantile chic—a mix of vintage advertising, bins, and drawers, mixed with an eclectic amount of color and whimsy. I enjoy collecting, decorating, and organizing Inspired Barn as a craft in itself.

AE: How did you get started crafting?

CH: I suppose I’ve always been a crafter. Even as a small kid I was assembling bits of junk found among the gravel in the alleyway, or scraps of office supplies brought home from work by my mom, into funky works of art.

As an old-school commercial artist, I segued into handcrafting as more than a hobby a few years after most graphic design tasks became digitized. I missed working with my hands and began spending time in online [crafting] communities.

Top left:  Yarn Wrapped Mirror and Laurel Wall Art Kit Top right:  Embellished Fabric Panel Pillow Kit
Top left: Yarn Wrapped Mirror and Laurel Wall Art Kit
Top right: Embellished Fabric Panel Pillow Kit

I embraced a new and exciting way to pursue my creative endeavors while satisfying my need to work with physical tools and materials through crafting. It was then that I began sharing a graphic designer’s take on crafting on my blog,

AE : Where do you see crafting fitting into the bigger picture of your business?

CH: Although crafting has become my business through blogging and teaching, I also plan to produce craft materials unique to my style and aesthetic. I’m currently designing a line of typographic, mercantile-style stencils, some of which I have designed exclusively for the video series kit.

It’s my intention to create projects and products that are both simple and impactful. I do this by designing exciting crafts with easy-to-follow instruction, sharing loads of inspiration for customizing, and developing uncommon materials and products.

AE : What is your vision for Inspired Barn?

CH: My hope is for Inspired Barn to become a vintage-style brand known for facilitating individual creativity, repurposing, and re-imagining. Through instruction, ideas, products and materials, it’s my hope for Inspired Barn to become an extraordinary handcraft resource for multiple craft genres online, in print, and in stores.

Exploring Unlimited Career Opportunities in Welding

Career Opportunities in Welding
Underwater welding is one of the many opportunities to explore in a welding career. This photo shows a U.S. Navy doing an underwater welding job. (Photo Credits: Official US Navy Page cc: Some Rights Reserved)

Having a career in welding will surely help make one earn a decent livelihood. In fact, if one is to work harder, it could prove to be a rewarding career or business that will bear a range of benefits for the welder and his family.
Apart from the construction, home improvement, and manufacturing sectors, there are a lot of other industries a welder could get into. Welders, for instance, can get into the following industries:

  1. Military
  2. Transport
  3. Aeronautics
  4. Mining
  5. Energy
  6. Heavy Equipment Manufacturing
  7. Health/Medical
  8. The Arts
  9. Light Equipment Manufacturing
  10. Electronics
  11. The Academe
  12. Robotics and Computer Engineering

As such, welders are in demand in the United States and other countries. Studies in fact suggest that because of hiring migrant workers, as well as the younger generations’ lack of interest in pursuing a Skilled Trades Profession like welding, the demand for welders continue to go up.
But the opportunities in this profession are endless. A welder can explore any of the following career opportunities that are in demand in this country and abroad:

  1. Underwater Welder
  2. Welding Educator
  3. Metallurgist
  4. Researcher
  5. Materials Engineer
  6. Welding Engineer
  7. Sheet Metal Worker
  8. Welding Inspector
  9. Machine Operators
  10. Pipefitter
  11. Robotics Technician
  12. Welding Technician
  13. Business Owner
  14. Salesperson
  15. Structural Iron Worker
  16. Boilermaker

Aside from being a professional welder, a welder can also explore a career in the academe as a teacher or a trainer once he has gotten certifications, and earned the number of years of experience required to teach the vocation. For some, being able to pass on their knowledge is just as fulfilling as having a high-paying job.

Career Opportunities in Welding 1
Continuous education and learning is important if one wants to succeed in a career in welding. (Photo Credits: Clarence Risher, cc: Some Rights Reserved)

Welding is likewise a career that offers continuous learning process as trends, and new techniques are discovered. Certifications are being offered as well to open up more learning, earning, and career opportunities for the welder. Certificate courses include those that let one become any of the following:

  • Certified Welding Inspector
  • Certified Welder
  • Certified Radiographic Interpreter
  • Certified Welding Educator
  • Certified Welding Engineer
  • Certified Welding Supervisor
  • Certified Robotic Arc Welder

And since there is a shortage on welders, the salary being offered to those in the profession are very decent. In fact, welders get paid even before they finish their vocational course through paid apprenticeship programs. Now compare that to college degrees that cost much, pays at almost the same level, and may even require loans, such that the graduate cannot get to fully enjoy his salary upon graduation as he has to pay for his educational loans.
Now if one decides to pursue a career in welding, it will be great to note that he could in fact, choose a path that he will enjoy. For instance, if one loves scuba diving, the welder can definitely pursue a career in underwater welding. An interest in cellphones and gadgets, can also merit exploring a career in the consumer electronics industry. If one would like to pursue a career in engineering, a four-year course in welding engineering could lead the welder right through it.
There indeed are plenty of options in terms of exploring a career in welding, but most experienced professionals would say that for a welder to succeed, practice, as well as continuous studies should be pursued. The more experience the welder gains, the more opportunities become available to him.
The exposure he gets from the various industries he decides to work in also help much in terms of giving him the experience, expertise and skills that he will need.
In fact, welders from developing countries are in for a brighter future with the increasing worldwide demand for welders. It gives these professional and skilled welders the chance to work abroad, earn higher salaries, and for some, get to bring their families in the countries they work in. And since most developed countries provide a better quality of life for children, the whole family of the migrant worker stands to benefit from the good career choices the welder made.
And while the demand for professional skilled workers increase, analysts in developed countries fear that sooner the shortage will be badly felt, if not negatively impact their industries. The best thing to do, they say is to re-educate the youth into the benefits and advantages of pursuing skilled trades professions like welding. This, or continue hiring workers from overseas.
As for the welder himself, all he has to do is to continue learning, practicing, and exploring new trends and techniques in his industry. He should also not think twice about exploring new opportunities that abound in his line of work.
Of course safety should always be paramount in the practice of his profession. Attending safety seminars, as well as being informed about the safest ways to carry out his work could help him reach his full potential. Using a best welding helmet could be one of the wisest investments he could ever make in his career, as a great helmet will be his partner in honing his craft and in earning more experiences.

Knocking on the right door

If the main entrance is locked, try the side door.

Certain magazines have an emotional allure for us–we’ve dreamed of seeing our bylines in them. High-profile, large-circulation publications pay the highest rates and often have the most prestige. Part of the allure, admittedly, is the challenge, but unless we know someone inside, it can start to seem useless to keep repeatedly knocking. It’s time to look for another way in.

“It is rare that we will assign a feature article to a writer with whom we have not worked,” read the editorial guidelines for freelancers on the Travel + Leisure website. “The best sections to start with are those in the front of the magazine.” Most major magazine editors would echo that advice.

The front of the magazine, commonly called “the front of the book,” refers to the pages of shorter articles that appear before the feature articles begin. Often they are grouped into “departments,” each covering a subject such as travel, people, style or entertainment. But sometimes they are not organized at all–a string of pearls. (Hint: WD’s FOB is the Inkwell department you’re reading right now. And, yes, it’s the easiest place to break in.)

FOB articles have a little less gravitas, are often more of-the-moment, and typically pay less than features. If a writer’s byline and existing credits are not on a par with the magazine’s reputation, an FOB piece is usually his starter assignment to see if he is worthy of being considered as a features writer. It gets you invited into the house when you could still be banging at the front door.

In my own case, some sympathetic editors who have turned down my features pitches have instead asked me to write a short article–an unspoken but welcome consolation prize.


FOB articles are not to be taken any less seriously than features. Flub one and you probably won’t be asked back.

Prepare for the article

Study the departments carefully, as these are very targeted pieces. Many magazines have editorial calendars with theme issues announced in advance, which you can usually access in the “advertising” section of their sites. These calendars can both guide you to new ideas and better target those you already have.

Before making the pitch, answer these questions: Why would the reader care? What’s the best angle? Why now? Why me? Your query for a short piece might sound very much like the final article–consider it your writing test.


Finding the right editor to pitch–or even any editor to contact–may not be easy. As with any business, a magazine may be run top-down with the executive editor calling the shots on all assignments. At other publications, department editors are kings and queens of their own fiefdoms. But regardless of who sees your query first, most pitches that pass the first hurdle will likely be further vetted by others on staff.

The first part maybe the heardest, you have to wait for the pitch

For editorial guidance and contact info, I first check the current Writer’s Market or (both from WD Books), and then look at the magazine’s website. Some have staff directories with email contacts, but many give only one entry: info@ In those cases, I select an editor from the magazine’s masthead, title my message “Writer’s Query” and give the salutation to the chosen editor.

Then I wait.


To paraphrase an old business dictum, “The purpose of the first article is to sell a second article, hopefully a bigger one.” At least six magazines for which I now write features started me out with FOB assignments. And truth be told, I still pitch them ideas of lesser importance as FOBs. It’s extra money.

Then with your second job, you can start have a better wage

Moving up isn’t easy or guaranteed. I’ve sold seven front-of-the-book pieces to one national mag without achieving a features byline–I have yet to pitch the right idea at the right time. But I’m getting paid, colleagues and other editors comment on my pieces in this flashy publication, and every pitch I send them–FOB or feature–gets real consideration because they now recognize my name.

Finally, department editors generally become your advocates in moving up to features. They are often young, ambitious and loyal to those they consider “their writers.” They will remember you in their next editing incarnation.


Increasingly, there is a third door to publications, one I think of as the “stage door.” That is website features, very similar to FOB pieces, but generally lighter and more topical or timely. There is perhaps less pay and prestige in these Web articles, but they get you in the door, and give you an opening to become part of the site editor’s entourage.

Of course, always be bold enough to pitch a great feature idea to a great mag–it can and has worked for many writers. But don’t give up easily if you fail. There’s more than one way to get that coveted byline.

Roger Morris writes from Pennsylvania, primarily about wine, food and travel for publications including Town & Country, USA Today’s Co/Escape, Wine Enthusiast, Beverage Media and The Drinks Business. His most recent book, The Brandywine Book of the Seasons, was co-authored with his wife, Ella.


Know-how to spot and avoid freelance writing scams

Most freelancers turn to the Internet to find work. And while there are plenty of legitimate job opportunities to be found online, many others are too good to be true. Navigating this virtual minefield and avoiding scams can become a key element of your job, as today’s scams are particularly sophisticated. Fortunately, a bit of knowledge and constant vigilance can protect your work–and your paycheck–from con artists.

How can they scam you ?

I always considered myself to be pretty careful. In my years of writing Web content, I’ve come across plenty of scam artists:

  • Clients who ask for multiple revisions as a way to get several articles.
  • Clients who ask for bank account information under the guise of direct-depositing payments.
  • Prospective clients who ask for unpaid samples as a way to score free content with no intention of actually paying for the job.

One scam I was not prepared for, however, was the so-called “check” scam. The mechanics of the scam are fairly straightforward: First, an individual approaches you with an assignment, such as a document to be edited. He offers payment in advance using a stolen, forged or otherwise fraudulent check. He then cancels the assignment, demands a refund and requests that you wire him the money.

Freelancer writing is a job that can be done anywhere and anytime but beware of the scammers.
Freelancer writing is a job that can be done anywhere and anytime but beware of the scammers.
I was lucky in that things didn’t get that far when I was taken in by this scam. The company whose checks he had stolen found out about the fraudulent activity and shut down the account within two days. All in all, 15 writers around the country were affected, and I watched bitterly as the payment for what had seemed to be a valid and lucrative editing job disappeared from my grasp. But it could have been a lot worse.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re ever taken in by a scam artist

A bank often has no way of knowing whether a check is legitimate until days, weeks or even months after it’s been deposited. As a courtesy, the bank will provide funds to your account the day after the deposit is made, but that doesn’t mean that the check has cleared.
You are responsible for any money you deposit into your bank account, even if you’re the victim of a scam. This means that if you spend the money, believing that the check is good, you’re responsible for covering those purchases if the check later bounces. You might be refunded some of the associated banking fees, but don’t count on it.

It’s in your best interest to file a police report. Even though the odds of the authorities actually finding the scam artist are slim, doing so will help protect you from fraud charges of your own if you accidentally write any hot checks, and it improves your odds of having bank fees waived.

You can ask for police helps but there are not much chane to find the scammer

Prevention is always the best medicine

There are ways you can spot a possible scam before it gets out of hand. In hindsight, these are things I could have done to save myself the hassle and disappointment of being taken in by check fraud:

  • Get as many details about the project as you can. My first red flag should have been that the client was always eager to discuss payment but had little to say about the project itself. Before you begin, you should know where the project will be published and who exactly is ordering it. Check the website of the client–both the end-client and any intermediary broker–and refuse to deal with anyone whose identity you can’t verify.
  • Use a written contract. In it, specify your payment preference, number of revisions you’ll complete, deadlines and any other details that seem relevant. Forward the contract to the client and don’t start work until the terms have been agreed upon and signed.
  • Use a safe and secure payment method. Paypal is easy to use and one of the safest options, but be aware that clients can still cancel a payment after making it. Another option is a money order or secure wire transfer such as Western Union. Don’t accept personal checks; take checks only from a well-established company that you know for a fact hired you to do the work. Even cashier’s checks can be faked.
  • Verify that funds are available before cashing a check. If you do accept a check, you can call the issuing bank to ensure that funds are in the account before cashing it. Don’t count on your bank to do this for you.
  • Request a portion of the payment in advance. Or, for larger projects, after completing an agreed-upon portion of the project. Ensure that the payment method worked before proceeding with additional work. Be wary of any client who offers to pay entirely up front. Even if they’re not scammers, these clients can still cause headaches if they decide to cancel the project and demand reimbursement.
  • Consider working through a brokering service. Textbroker, eLance, oDesk and Guru collect payments from the client on your behalf and hold them in a secure account. When the work is complete, you are paid by the brokering site. These sites do take a commission of your earnings, but the price can be a fair compromise for the security they offer.

    These freelancers site may charge you some fees but you have better protection and better chance to avoid scammers
  • Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that you’ll never run into a scammer. Anytime you use the Internet to find potential clients, you run the risk of meeting a thief or con artist. By practicing some vigilance and taking steps to protect yourself, you can weed out these unsavory characters and focus on the real, valuable paying clients who make up the backbone of any freelancer’s career. Tips: Freelance writing is an interesting way to work and earn money, it maybe easy if you have a good foreign language skills and ability to work under high pressure. You can find many good clients and have them rated you a better rank for getting jobs easier.