A trio of resources for outsourcing your tasks

busy Time. Few of us have a lot of it. Especially busy freelance writers. There are always little (or not-so-little) tasks that we have that maybe we don’t have the time to tackle. Or, maybe, we don’t have the skills to tackle quickly and efficiently.

Sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet and outsource some of your tasks. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been doing that every so often. The (small) sums I’ve spent have been worth it. They’ve freed up a little more of my time, and have saved me money in the long run because it would have taken me far longer to do those tasks on my own. That’s time I was able to focus on paying work.

Let’s take a closer look at this.

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Read-it-later tools that can help you do research

Hitting the books Doing research has changed since I started seriously writing back in the 1980s. In those days, the internet wasn’t on computers. I had to haul myself to the local library (or one at my university) and peruse books, magazines, and newspapers. I went through more pens, notebooks, and photocopies than I can remember.

These days, I don’t have leave home to do my research. Most of what I need is available online. Articles, blog posts, essays, reviews, background information, quotes, and more. One one of the best ways that I’ve found to collect that research is to use a read-it-later tool.

What’s a read-it-later tool? It’s software that grabs something that you see on the web and saves it to a repository on the web. The tool also strips out a lot of cruft — like navigation, ads, and images — from that material. Since what you save is stored on the web, you can read it in a web browser or using an app on you smartphone or tablet.

Let’s take a look at a quartet of read-it-later tools that you’ll find useful.

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A few links for the end of the week

Turning your back catalogue into an ebook

An ebook Unless you’re just starting out as a writer, you probably have a fairly sizable back catalogue of work. Stories, articles, essays, blog posts. Piece that were published sometime in the past. Or writing that just never found a home.

Sometimes, you find that work has a consistent theme. That it could come together quite nicely as a book. With a bit of time, a bit of effort, and the right tools you can pull the elements of your back catalogue into an ebook. In fact, if you plan correctly and use your time efficiently, the entire process won’t take that long.

Let’s look at one way to turn your back catalogue into an ebook.

(Note: I’m not going to go over the tools and techniques for assembling and publishing an ebook. I plan to cover that in a future post.)

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Conducting an effective email interview

microphone When I started writing all those years ago (and even before that, when I was in journalism school), there were two ways to conduct an interview: face-to-face or over the phone.

Ah, how times have changed. While you still can do interviews in person or via telephone, you have other options, too. Like using video conferencing, Skype, and email interviews. The latter are especially convenient. Not just for you, but for the person you’re interviewing.

Over the last few months, I’ve been doing quite a few email interviews as part of my work as community moderator at Opensource.com. While I’d done a number of such interviews in the past, my work for Opensource.com has given me the opportunity to refine the way in which I conduct email interviews.

Let’s take a look at how to conduct an effective email interview.

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