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Posts Tagged ‘freelance advice’

1146398_vampireWhile in the middle of writing a blog, I got distracted by the Internet, and somehow found a story about a day in the life of a freelance writer. I read it, along with a few similar articles by different authors, and was amazed to have much in common with each story. Now one would think that since I am a freelance writer, of course I could relate to tales written by others of my kind. But that got me to thinking…I guess at times I still don’t think of myself as a freelance writer.

It’s ludicrous, but true. I graduated with a degree in Journalism, wrote a huge thesis related to the media, and have been writing on my own for a year and half. I have been able to pay the majority of my bills each month with just my content writing services, and lately, I’ve been more than able to pay my bills. I’ve progressively worked toward and met my goals, as I have multiple long-term clients that give me a steady stream of work. For the last month, I have been almost too busy to keep marketing, and apparently too busy to write a new blog.

All signs point to me being a freelance writer. Yet when I hear about other writers, whether through their business blogs or fun articles, I automatically assume they are more successful and more of a writer than I am. I’m guessing it’s because I’m a perfectionist, so unless I’m the picture-perfect image of a particular role, I don’t consider myself to fit in that position.

The funny thing is, according to these freelance writing adventures, I do fill the bill. In nearly every article I’ve read regarding the typical writer, they lounge around in sweatpants and shirts that don’t match. Of course, Arizona calls for comfortable shorts rather than sweatpants, but the ratty shirts that don’t match definitely describe my best work attire. The fact that I hate shoes and binding clothes in general makes this outfit perfect for me, so it looks like, based on clothes at least, my career choice was excellent.

Most writers of these articles also claim to get their best writing done late at night, somewhere in the vicinity of 3 AM. I’m naturally a night owl, and the fact that my husband also true_blood_s1e7-500x332freelances means finishing work at 4 AM is a perfectly normal night…er, morning. However, client communication is best done during waking hours for the non-vampires of the world, so it is frustrating when I have a question late at night that no one can answer until the next day. I try to refrain from sending emails past regular business hours lest some proper client should raise an eyebrow in disapproval at such unprofessional conduct. But I’m beginning to realize that most are probably used to dealing with emails at such hours if they’ve ever worked with a freelancer before.

Last week, a change in schedule prompted me to start waking up a bit earlier than normal, at 7 AM. The funny thing is that I was beginning to feel more like a professional freelancer since I had regular office hours, until I read the articles detailing most of their waking hours. Apparently to be a real writer I need to go back to odd hours. Maybe then I’ll finally fit the freelance writer title in my mind.

Is your work day as a freelancer at all like the ones so often described? Do you think of yourself as a real freelancer, and if not, what will it take to do so?

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If you have recently made the switch from print writing to Internet writing, you might notice there are a few differences between the two. Though good writing skills and interesting topics are popular anywhere you go, Internet readers do have different expectations online than they do when reading a newspaper or magazine article. Be sure to keep the following facts in mind when writing for the web:

1.) Be Concise


concise2ndlarge1This is one of the web writing rules I sometimes struggle with, but it makes sense. People go online to get things done; they are typically looking something up and want to find the answer ASAP. When a Google search takes them to your page, you’d better have their answer staring them in the face or they will hit the “back” button within a few seconds. If you can say it in a short, sweet sentence, do it.

2.) Illustrate Your Point


1172286_pen_and_lineI never used to believe it, but pictures do help when writing for the web. They break up your page into sections, which makes it easier to scan. That means it is more Internet reader-friendly. Even if you can’t find a picture that refers to your content directly, throw in a few icons, or perhaps a pretty image of your logo.

3.) Use Informative Subheadings


1Adding subheadings also breaks up your content into scannable sections. Whether you’re writing your own blog or providing content writing services for another website, remember to use subheadings that clearly summarize in a few words what that section is about.

4.) Stop Using Buzzwords


Recent studies have shown that readers can easily see through much of the marketing jargon that populates the web. I have heard that one of the most overused words in the corporate world within buzzword_largethe last few years was “synergy.” According to many tales, the very hint of this word now causes most employees to spin into an Office Space-inspired rage involving an on-the-fritz copier. Other severely disliked terms now include “win-win,” “solutions,” “paradigm,” and “value-added.” Feel free to add your own terms, but you get the idea. If your content writing services ever lead you to write for a professional website, please be sure to banish those words from your vocabulary.

5.) Use Facts


1117094_basic_math_1Use facts as often as possible, and when you do, make it obvious. For example, rather than write out a number under 10 like we were all taught to do, use the numeral. Linked sources are also good, as readers love both facts and the proof to back them up.

Just consider the websites you visit when you’re in a hurry. Think about what you like to see on the sites you actually stop to read, whether you’re looking for a way to prove a friend wrong on a point or just researching for an article. Have any other web reader-friendly ideas? Post them up!

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Those with full-time jobs often have ways of dealing with their day so that it is more enjoyable, particularly if they are not happy with their career. Though many freelancers are quite happy with their choice of jobs, work is work, and they therefore still need some help in getting through their day. I love writing, but there are definitely days I can’t seem to get started, or perhaps can’t finish what I did start before my break. I have a few ways of making both my jam-packed and more boring days a little more fun (and not to mention more organized).

1.) Desk Calendar


Though I am always on the computer, I find I prefer to make notes and appointments by hand. It is probably more time-consuming and less 601035_sk_lg1organized than simply making a Notepad document full of notes. However, it’s just how I work. I decided to compromise and clean up my desk a little with a giant desk calendar. Not only can I write deadlines and things to do on each day, but I can also take notes about writing assignments. In fact, before I write any business guide for a particular company, I jot down the three main points to write about on some area on my desk calendar. By the end of the month there is so much chicken scratch on the calendar it’s ridiculous, but it definitely beats the piles of Post-it Notes covering my desk.

2.) A Good Monitor


I was getting along fine with my 15-inch monitor for years (actually, 6 years to be exact). But when my husband bought me a 22-inch monitor for 1046708_881141321Christmas, my vision seemed to improve enormously. I can now put two web pages side-by-side on my monitor and still read them easily, which helps when researching while providing content writing services. I could have chugged along for a few more years on my old monitor, but this one just makes my job a little easier. My eyes are thanking me, as well.

3.) BlackBerry


Though I wouldn’t say I’m addicted, I do appreciate the increased mobility my BlackBerry has brought to my business. I can email clients from the pink-blackberry-pearlstore, or even when I’m out with friends. I have also done research for projects while waiting for my car’s oil to get changed. The only issue I’ve found is that it makes it a bit more difficult to separate work from free time. However, when you have your own business, you likely find that sometimes personal issues come up during your normal business hours, as well, so it usually evens out.

4.) Music


I listen to much more music now than ever before, thanks to being alone in my office all day. I find that many people that provide content writing services do the same. I usually alternate between Pandora and the 1151325_listening_to_music2500 or so songs on my PC. I find my favorite artists to listen to while I write are Jack’s Mannequin, Something Corporate, Death Cab for Cutie, Mae, Splender, Lifehouse, Jimmy Eat World, and Keane (to name a few). Of course everyone has different taste, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that some of my favorite authors listen to many of the same bands as I do when they write. Maybe listening to these bands enough will inspire me to write the next great novel. If not, at least I have some good music to listen to while I work.

5.) Caffeine


I don’t know if it is a mental thing or I am just addicted to caffeine, but I typically have some sort of caffeinated drink before I write. 1154374_coffee_preparation_11Last year the drink of choice was Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper, but it was recently discontinued. Since then, I have taken up drinking coffee instead, and I am pretty sure I am not alone on this. I can get through the day without it, but a tasty drink that happens to boost energy doesn’t hurt.

What are your pick-me-ups throughout the day? Whether you’re a freelancer, a business owner, or work the typical 9 to 5 shift, I want to know what gets you through your day.

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Today I was reading one of my favorite blogs , which recently discussed a few money issues when it comes to freelance writing. In this and other blogs, some people have mentioned that it is difficult to pay the bills on small SEO articles that only pay a few bucks each. 296-1226867106mpr81

I see their point, as obviously it is easier to pay the mortgage with higher writing jobs. However, to say it cannot be done is incorrect.

What many people fail to see is that, no matter what your freelance job might be, you have the power to make your dream hourly wage. Whether you are a handyman striking out on your own for the first time, a web designer, a freelance medical transcriptionist, a writer, or anyone who gets paid by the project, you are in control.

In the Beginning…


Last year, when attempting to make the majority of my money from home providing content writing services, I did accept some low-paying jobs. I wrote 500-word SEO articles for $5 each. Obviously, being a college graduate, I couldn’t be satisfied with making $5 per hour. I made more than that at my thankless job as a server at a pizza place, though I wasn’t doing what I wanted at all. After a week of writing about 15 of these per week, I realized I could write two per hour. 5-dollar-bill3So I made $10 per hour, which was not bad when you consider I doubled my previous wage in a week. Additionally, gas prices had gone way up, I had moved a half hour away from my serving job, and the new management at the restaurant bumbled around, firing many of my coworkers/friends there willy-nilly. I had to get out of there, and this was the first step.

A few weeks after I had accepted this new writing job, I noticed my writing skills with these articles had improved, yet again. One day, after waking up a bit later than I had wanted to, I began to write at my 2-article per hour pace (which was beginning to get quite leisurely). Suddenly I realized that the deadline of 2 p.m. was not actually my time, but Central. I got a sinking feeling as I Googled the time difference, which confirmed my suspicions: I had an hour to write five more articles.

Progress



I had never typed so fast in my life. My fingers ached when I was done, but guess what? I made the deadline. I also realized I had just made $25 in one hour. It 33-12130430812yra2sounds like a scam now (“Double your hourly wage in a week, and do it again a week later!”) but I really did go from $5 per hour to $25 per hour in a matter of three weeks. Granted, I didn’t exactly rush like that every single time I wrote, but it did make me want to experiment with my hourly wage a bit more. I found I could comfortably make about $20 per hour, writing four articles each hour in a kind of stream-of-consciousness stupor (this was after I realized they preferred quantity over quality).

Though I don’t typically deal with such jobs now, when I don’t have much work for a day, I do pick up some lower-paying jobs. It is no longer all about the project pay for me, but the hourly. Some people without experience providing content writing services would probably scoff at the chance to write two $10 blogs, but I figure it is an easy $20 in one hour. What else would I be doing in that hour on the days that I have few projects? Myspace, Twitter, the local forums, then back to Myspace again? (I really have to focus on getting more productive in my free time!)

What Are You Worth?


Anyway, the advice stays the same if you do some other job besides writing. If you are a designer and get a logo design job that only pays you $100, but you have a great idea for it that would take you two hours to complete, what’s wrong with that? I don’t think too many people should be turning down $50 per hour in this economy.

Similarly, I have seen offers of $200 for a book editing project. I hesitate before I apply for such jobs. After editing one published book so far, and countless other documents, I know exactly how many pages I can edit per hour. Sure, I could use $200 to do something I love, but if it would take me 30 hours to complete that project, I would be making $5 per hour, once again. I would rather offer my content writing services to companies that appear to pay less, but that provide me with projects I can get done quickly.

In the end, you have to figure out what you’re worth per hour. Are you okay with making $5 per hour, or would you rather just relax and enjoy life? Is the money per hour worth missing a night out with friends, or the time you’d spend reading a good book on a rainy day? You tell me: What are your thoughts on setting your desired hourly wage?

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Whether you’re a professional writer or not, I’m pretty sure everyone has their favorite subjects to write about. You might get paid good money to write about cats, _mg_3062but maybe you look more forward to your lower-paid writing assignments about the characteristics of hamsters. I think it’s important to make room in your schedule to write about the subjects you have a passion for, whether you are getting paid for such writing or not.

Personally, I love writing about places. I never knew that until I started writing for a company that creates websites for realtors. Once I’d written a few websites full of content on a particular city in myriad states, I realized how much fun it was to find out different facets of each city. I’ve written about metropolitan areas like Phoenix, tiny towns I’d never heard of previously, cities with lots of horse property in Texas, neighborhoods in Scottsdale, ports in Maryland, oceanfront property in gorgeous Carlsbad, CA (my hometown), and more.

I think this stems from the fact that I have always wanted to travel more than I have. However, having a mortgage, a husband who is not as keen on travel as I am, and a very needy pug all make that difficult. For the time being, writing about different areas will definitely do. It’s actually more than I can ask for, as it quenches my thirst for knowledge of other places.

Do you have a favorite topic to write about, and if so, do you think you could make a living doing so?

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