Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Freelance Progress Report: October 2009

As you have probably noticed, I haven't been around much lately. It has been a crazy month with trying to balance everything. However, my class ends this week and I only have a couple weeks of clinicals left. Hopefully after those two things are out of the way I can have a little more time.

On a good note, October has been a month of firsts for me. I sold my first article. I met my income goal halfway through the month. I also hit $10 on Ehow so I can finally get a payout. It has also been my best month to date. I made $497.64. Considering all I have going on right now, I can't believe I did it.

No writing for Associated Content, Ecopywriters or Text Broker this month. Although I did get my PV bonus from AC.

The Breakdown
September PV bonus-$2.06
Total to date-$123.79


Ehow continues to earn for me. I finally made enough this month to reach payout, but still didn't write anything for them.

The Breakdown
October PV earnings-$3.21
Earnings to date-$11.90


NAA continues to be my big earner. I got lucky and participated in a "push" over the first weekend of the month. For those not familiar with NAA, a "push" is where they pay extra on articles for a specified amount of time in order to clear older jobs from the assignment board. I ended up doing 15 articles that paid $1.75 extra each, netting me an additional $26.25. The writing I did during the push as well as through the following week brought me my best week for writing income. $219.72, over half of my monthly goal.

I've also been earning tips this month.

I'm getting more article requests now. It is getting to where requests make up the bulk of my writing for NAA. This month two of my clients' orders somehow ended up with other writers. The two clients were not happy with the result and resubmitted the articles for me to do rather than accept the other writers' work. It's nice to be in demand.

The Breakdown
83 articles-$459.15
tips-$7.22
Total for month-$466.37
Total to date-$1205.37

This was my first month writing for Constant Content and I got off to a good start. My very first article sold exactly two weeks to the day I uploaded it.

The Breakdown
1 article-$40
Commission paid-$14
Total for month-$26

Monday, October 19, 2009

First Article Sold!

I joined Constant Content a while back, but got busy with my other writing sites and never did anything with it. For those who aren't familiar with the site, it's one in which you can upload articles to sell for usage, unique or full rights. You choose your price. You also have the option of entertaining offers.

If it sells, Constant Content takes a commission of 35% of the sale price. Provided you have made at least $5 for the month, you get paid on the following payday, which occurs the first week of every month.

Earlier this month, I finally got around to doing something with the site. I wrote an article in response to a request for content. The request was for a basic overview of tummy tucks, around 400 words. I uploaded my article and priced it at $40 for full rights.

Two weeks to the day it was uploaded, it sold. After Constant Content's commission, I netted $26. While losing 35% to commission smarted a bit, I can't complain too much. Even with paying commission, I still made 6.5 cent per word on the article.

Now that my first article went so well, I'm going to try to keep up the momentum. My goal is to upload an article or two per week, either in response to requests or as something I think might sell well.

*Photo by StockXchange user Rawkus.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Weekly Resource RoundUp

Things have been so hectic lately that I haven't had a chance to compile the roundup for a couple weeks. Hopefully this week's mega roundup will make up for it.

Obviously none of us got into freelancing to work for free. However, there are some times when working for nothing can be good for your business. In a guest post at The Wealthy Freelancer, Michelle Goodman shares thoughts on when it works in your favor as well as things to watch out for.

Word of mouth is how many of us advertise our services. Check out these 18 essential tools for word of mouth marketing. While the list is geared more towards those with established brands, there are still some great tools for those in the process of building their name.

For many of us, working from home is a dream. There are so many different work at home jobs out there that you are sure to find something. Some jobs may surprise you.

We know about passive income, but what about passive job hunting? Dana Prince offers tips on self-promotion so the clients come to you without you having to hunt them down.
If you are a work at home parent, it can be hectic. The Work at Home Woman offers some great tips to balance life, work and family.

If you are trying to get a book published, be sure to check out the SFWA Thumbs Down Agency List. The literary agents and agencies on the list have had a high number of complaints or have other issues that might make you rethink hiring them.

Chris Brogan shares some great tips on how to blog almost every day. Now I just need to put these tips into practice.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Fine Line Between Busy and Overwhelmed

With my phlebotomy clinicals starting this week (tomorrow to be exact), I've been doing a lot of thinking on how I am going to balance everything. I already juggle being a SAHM, going to school 2 nights a week, handling the business end of my husband's business, dealing with his chronic illness and freelance writing. Now, with the addition of clinicals three days a week, I am wondering if my plate isn't getting a little crowded.

There is a fine line between busy and overwhelmed. Whether you are a stay at home parent trying to earn some extra money or a full-time employee freelancing on the side until you build your business enough to quit your day job, this line is something you will encounter at some point. How you handle it says a lot about you.

Personally, I thrive on being busy. I seem to do my best work when a deadline is bearing down on me. This weekend for the very first time, I participated in one of NAA's pushes. With the incentive of $1.75 extra per article, I wanted to knock out as many articles as possible. I ended up doing 16 articles in two days, three of which were over 500 words. Considering my husband was in the hospital (yes again), my daughter was cranky because she missed him and I was fighting a respiratory bug, I'm amazed at how much I was able to do. But it all goes back to the deadline. I knew I needed to do as much as I could during those two days of extra pay.

However, there does come a point when I get overwhelmed. When this happens, I break down and do the one thing I hate to do. I ask for help. In many cases, it doesn't take a lot to get me over the hump-a friend babysitting for a couple hours, a family member jumping in to quiz me on my notes for class or my husband telling me to take a nap rather than visit him at the hospital.

Where are you on the line between busy and overwhelmed? If you cross over to overwhelmed, how do you handle it?

*Photo by Ryan Smart.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Freelance Progress Report: September 2009

September got off to a bumpy start with first my husband, then my daughter and finally me getting sick. I ended up not working for pretty much the entire first week and have been playing catch up all month to try to get to my income goal. Unfortunately, I didn't quite make it to my goal of $400. But considering I missed a week of work, I'm not displeased at coming in just $36.93 short. I ended up with $363.07 in writing income this month.

Since Ecopywriters is supposed to be implementing a system to cut down approval time, I decided to hold onto them for now. I did get paid for one of my articles, but the last one is still pending. I spoke to the operations manager and she said it should be paid soon. They haven't had much selection so I only managed two articles this month.

There was a little snafu with my payment. For some reason, Paypal blocked the payment even though it had let one through previously. I ended up having to go in and change some settings before it could go through. Then, Paypal charged me a fee. I'm a bit perturbed about that. While I know I can write it off as a business expense, I don't understand why I got charged a fee. According to Suz, payments were made the same way. Payments from other sites were not charged fees. Paypal says the transaction was coded as a purchase

The Breakdown
2 articles-$21.40
Total to date-$56.48

I'm really loving NAA. Most of my work this month was done for two clients. I did do occasional articles for other clients to give myself a break every once in a while. After writing so many articles on the two topics, I think it would be safe to call myself an expert. I'm really excited about the newest feature on the site. It is an option for clients to tip writers. I am curious to see how this affects my income.

The Breakdown
62 articles-$336.40
Total to date-$739

I had hoped to have time to work on a little for Associated Content and Ehow this month, but it didn't quite work out. Since they both provide residual income, I would like to increase this by adding a few more articles to each every month. If you stopped by Ehow to check out my husband's article that I mentioned in the last progress report, thank you. The increase in views thrilled him and he's talking about doing more. On a good note, I think this month will be the one where I finally reach payout. I'm only $1.31 away.

Associated Content Breakdown
June PV bonus-$2.16
Total to date-$121.73

Ehow Breakdown
September PV earnings-$3.11
PV earnings to date-$8.69

I don't know if I'm just logging in at bad times or what, but Text Broker hasn't had a lot of level 4 articles for me this month. The few I have saw weren't topics I was interested in. I didn't do a single article for them this month.

I did put in a few bids on jobs this month, but lost out to people who were willing to take less money. While I don't expect professional rates, I'm not going to write a 500 word article for $1-2.

*Image by Christian Ferrari.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Weekly Resource RoundUp

I haven't had much time to post lately. As I mentioned in a post earlier this month, my entire family, including myself, got sick. I ended up losing close to a week of writing time. It was not exactly an ideal start for the month. I've been scrambling all month to make up for the lost income so I can still reach my goal of $400 in writing income.

Anyway, on to this week's resource round up. Since many of us haven't reached the point where we make enough income to pay for things we need, I thought I would share some freebies for freelancers that I have came across on the web.

Visit Writing Career to get some free e-books that can help expand your skills. If you are looking for information on how to make money writing for gaming sites, Freelance Poker Writing will help. Creative Freelancing shows you the various careers you can pursue from home, including freelance writing, programming, graphic design and more. If you write a lot of promotional copy or are considering adding that to your repertoire, check out The Lousy Writer's Guide to Writing Persuasively.

If you do not have Microsoft Office or perhaps you have a client that doesn't, Open Office is an excellent substitution. It is an open source (FREE) software suite that gives you word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, graphic and database functionality. It is similar to Microsoft Office so there is no steep learning curve. Extensions to improve functionality are also available for free.

Nothing interferes with a freelancer's work more than their computer having problems. Avast! Antivirus Home Edition will help protect you from damage caused by viruses. Spybot S&D will search out spyware for you. If you use IE8, be sure to scroll down the page to read about a possible issue and how to fix it. Finally, Ad-Aware Free is another program that finds spyware and adware on your computer. I like to use both it and Spybot because each will catch whatever the other one misses. When downloading, make sure you have selected the free version as they also offer paid versions with more features.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Weekly Resource RoundUp

One thing I've found since starting my freelance writing career is that research is essential for many articles. Even if you know the subject enough to write off the top of your head, there are some sites that require you to document sources. So I thought I'd share a few of my favorite research places.

If you need a study to back up a claim on something medical related, you can't go wrong with PubMed. A service of the US Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health, PubMed allows users to search through literally millions of citations from medical and science journals. The search does include some foreign language journal and there are not always translations. In most cases, results of your search will give you abstracts and point you to wherever you need to go to read the full text. I have found PubMed especially helpful in writing articles on alternative health such as herbs. My clients have really liked having scientific studies to back up the claims. "In a 2004 study by British researchers, the herb was found to increase energy by 80%." is a lot more effective than "The herb increases energy."

If you want to look for information in books, but don't feel like wading through the offerings at your local library, Google Books can help. Just type in your search terms and it will search through its large library of books. Depending on the book, you may be able to read it online entirely, get a preview or, in some cases, get nothing more than the name of the book and author. If you're interested in those that do not offer full text, you can then check your library to see if they have a copy available.

The CIA World Factbook is a good jumping off point if you are writing about countries you are not familiar with. It gives information and statistics on the country's geography, people, government, economy, communications, transportation, military and transnational issues. You can find out everything from the average life expectancy to how many cell phones there are in the country.

Ask your local library if there is a state program that offers reference material. I'm not sure about other states, but I know in my home state of North Carolina, we have access to a large online database that links us to reference sites for all kinds of subjects from auto repair to science and technology. Many of the sites normally require membership fees, but by going through the state database, residents are able to access the information for free. All I had to do was give my local library a call and ask for the password for home access. If you are a freelance writer living in North Carolina, leave me a comment and I'll help you get set up.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Importance of Breaks for Freelancers

Making a full time living working from home is probably one of the top reasons people choose to leave their 9-5 for a freelancing career. However, most people fail to take into account that it takes time to build that kind of income. They find themselves working long hours, taking on any job that comes their way, trying to get to that income level. Burnout is common.

Ask any freelancer what their secret is for maintaining their sanity and preventing burnout and they will tell you it is taking regular breaks. By regular breaks, I don't just mean a half hour lunch break or a few smoke breaks through the day. I'm talking about a break that involves staying away from the computer for an extended amount of time.

When I started my journey into freelance writing, I fell in the trap myself. Because my time was split between taking care of my family, going to school and helping my husband with his business, I took every chance I got to write. I ended up giving up time with my family on weekends since that was the only time my husband was home all day to be with our daughter.

Then it hit me. I can't be effective as a freelance writer if I don't give myself some downtime. My brain needs times to recharge, especially if I'm working on multiple orders on the same subject like I have been lately. My eyes and back also need the break. More importantly, my family needs me on weekends.

Now I make it a point to take at least one day a week off from work and everyone is happier. My family is happy because I'm not hidden away in my home office. My back and eyes are happy because they got a much needed rest. Even my clients are happier because a recharged brain is a creative one.

Do you take breaks?

*Photo by Vassiliki Koutsothanasi.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Weekly Resource RoundUp

This week's roundup is all about blogs and blogging. While most of these resources focus on running your own blog, some of the tips can also be applied to paid blogging for other people.

Jade Craven highlights 892 tips you can learn from some of the top bloggers on the web. Darren Rowse (Problogger), Michael Martine (Remarkablogger) and James Chartrand (Men with Pens) are only a few of the gurus on the list.

Learn 10 tips to help tidy up your blog categories. I've been working on this myself here on The Freelance Experiment. As you can see, I still have work to do.

The Weblogs category at About.com has a nice directory of advertising opportunities. If you're wanting to monetize your blog, you might want to check it out. While it doesn't cover all the options for monetizing your blog, it's a good jumping off point.

Daily Blog Tips shares 4 ways to promote your blog offline. The blogger at Balkhis shares 13 ways he promoted his blog. Between these two, you should get some good ideas on blog promotion.

Finally, check out Dragos Roua's list of 100 ways to improve your blog. The list covers content, layout, plugins, promotion, networking and money. It's a long read, but full of great tips.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Making the Leap to Private Clients

Since starting my journey to become a freelance writer in April, I have stuck to content sites. I have browsed the various freelance job sites, but haven't taken a chance on applying or bidding for anything. Considering how well suited I was to several, I'm kicking myself for letting fear of getting turned down stand in my way.

However, the last few weeks have shown me that if I can just get a client to let me do one article, they usually come back for more. Last month, I had several clients on NAA that liked my work so much that they put up additional articles for me to do. Today alone, I had messages from two NAA clients offering me more work on the basis of my original article. One offered 20 articles and the other offered 50.

To truly make a career out of freelance writing, I need to take the leap. While writing for content and ghostwriting sites has allowed me to get my feet wet and gain confidence, it's difficult to make a living on them alone. I did reach my income goal last month, but I also turned out a lot of writing, approximately 39,000 words, to do so. If I had did the same amount of writing at a slightly higher rate, say 3 cent a word, I would have made enough to cover most of my family's expenses. At 5 cent a word, I could have paid everything and had a little left to put into savings.

This month I'm taking that leap. I'm starting small with a commitment to apply for or bid on at least one freelance writing job per week. At the end of the month, I will have hopefully landed a private client.

Have you taken the leap yet?

*Photo by Jeff Hallam.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

When Missing a Deadline is Unavoidable

For a freelance writer, or any freelancer for that matter, missing deadlines reflects badly. Miss too many and you get a reputation for being unreliable. However, there are times when missing a deadline is unavoidable due to circumstances beyond your control. How you handle these situations can go a long way in the client's impression of you.

Murphy's Law states that if anything can go wrong, it will. Maybe you or someone in your family gets sick or hurt. Perhaps your computer crashes. Or maybe a storm knocks out your power. You never know when something might happen so planning for the eventuality is difficult.

This week was the first time ever when I knew I was going to miss a deadline. My husband had to be hospitalized unexpectedly. Then my daughter got sick and finally I got sick. Needless to say, it's been a rough week.

There are a few ways you can handle a situation like this. Not all of them are right. Some freelancers make the mistake of not contacting the client and just submitting the work when it is ready. Others may just blow off the client entirely, not even bothering to complete the job. Both of these are wrong ways to handle the situation. They leave the client in the dark. Even with the first option when the work is completed, the lack of communication will probably leave the client with a poor impression of you.

Better ways to handle the situation would be to contact the client to advise them of the problem and either request more time or suggest another writer. While suggesting another writer may seem like you're working against yourself, it actually benefits you in two ways. One, it lets the client know you care about the satisfaction of your clients. Two, by sending business to a fellow writer, you increase the chance that they'll refer business your way.

When handled correctly, a missed deadline can work to your benefit. However, keep in mind that a habit of missing deadlines, no matter how well you handle it, will not do your freelance writing reputation any good.

*Photo by Paavo Leinonen.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Weekly Resource RoundUp

This week's roundup will focus on running your freelance business. No matter how good a freelance writer you are, you will need some business skills to survive as a freelancer.

To start, we should know what not to do when starting out as a freelancer.

If you are considering leaving your 9-5 for a freelance career, check out the get started now guide to becoming self employed at Zen Habits. If you have time, take a look at the comments too to pick up some more great tips.

Before you rush out to purchase a bunch of software or other tools for your new business, take a look at 10 awesome online tools your business should be using. Some are even free!

Deb Ng asks (and answers) the question "Do freelancer writers need business cards?" To be honest, I never really thought about it until reading her post. Now I'm thinking about potential designs.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Freelance Progress Report: August 2009

August was my best month to date. Early in the month I set an ambitious goal of $400 in income from freelance writing. I'm thrilled to say I did reach that goal and even passed it by a few dollars. The new system of scheduling writing jobs is definitely paying off.

In last month's progress report, I mentioned that I had picked up two new freelance writing gigs and would discuss them more once I had a chance to get used to them. The two sites were Ecopywriters and NAA.

I've decided Ecopywriters probably isn't going to work for me. While I like the idea of a system similar to Textbroker, their payment policy is a breaking point for me. I wrote four articles for them at the end of July. I received payment for two of them about halfway through this month. The other two are still pending approval as of today. While I have no problem giving clients an opportunity to make changes, I think over a month is a bit excessive. When you add in the lack of variety and several days of no jobs available at all, it's just not a good fit for me. Unless they make changes in the near future, I will most likely be closing my writer's account there as soon as I get paid for the remaining articles.

NAA has turned out to be my favorite freelance writing site so far. The jobs are plentiful and on a variety of topics. In my first month, I have already managed to impress several clients, who are now requesting me specifically to fill their orders. One liked my original article package so much she put up five more packages totaling 22 articles for me to do.

The Breakdown
66 articles-$381.00
Total to date-$402.60

I actually did a little bit of writing for Associated Content this month, but still not much. The three articles I did were all assignments. My plan is to continue adding a few articles a month to build my residual income.

The Breakdown
3 assignments-$9.00
July PV bonus-$2.52
Total for month-$11.52
Total to date-$119.57

I didn't have a lot of time for eHow this month. I did collaborate on one article with my husband. After hearing him tell me several times that he wasn't much of a writer, I was expecting to do the majority of the work. I told him all he had to do was write down the steps to the project for me and I would take it from there. However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn he is actually pretty good at writing. I ended up only having to add some safety information and do a little fine-tuning for SEO.

He's quite pleased with himself and asks me daily how many page views it is up to. If you want to check out the article (and make him happy by increasing his page views), you can find it here.

The Breakdown
6 articles
PV earnings for month-$3.63
PV earnings to date-$5.28

Textbroker got put on the back burner while I focused on NAA. When I did look on the board for assignments, most were either on topics that I was unfamiliar with or ones that required a lot of research. I ended up only doing one article for them this month.

The Breakdown
1 article in the 4 rating-$5.95
Total for month-$5.95
Total since start-$175.20

*Photo by Christophe Libert.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Weekly Resource RoundUp

In this week's roundup, I want to focus on applying for jobs. As freelancers, we'll be spending a lot of time looking for and applying for jobs.

First, check out Deb Ng's list of 12 things to do before applying for a freelance writing job.

Next, work on your resume. Learn how to make it stand out from the pack. If you missed my post on creating a writer's resume earlier this month, take a look to be sure you have all the information you need.

You want to be sure you have a great cover letter. If sending through email, there are a few extra things to consider.

If you want to brush up on your writing skills before applying check out Mom Writing From Home for information and links on improving writing skills.

Monday, August 24, 2009

10 Reasons Freelancing Might Not Be for You

To many people, freelancing may seem like a dream job. There's no punching a time clock. You can take off when you want. If you don't feel like doing something, you can turn down the job. For those that actually attempt a freelancing career, reality may come as a rude shock. So before you tell your boss exactly what they can do with their job, check out these ten reasons freelancing might not be for you.

You like interaction.

Freelancing is lonely work. You spend a lot of time alone. What little talking you do will most likely be with clients. If you do online work, the majority of your contact with clients will be through email or instant messaging programs. Since starting my freelancing journey four months ago, I've only talked to two people on the phone.

You are not proactive.

In other words, you are not a go-getter. It's extremely rare to have freelance jobs just fall into your lap. Most of the time you have to do the work of finding jobs and submitting an application or resume. While freelance job boards and jobs that connect clients with freelancers do exist, you still have to put yourself out there.

In some cases, you will have to be persistent. Don't be afraid to follow up on a potential job if you do not hear back after applying. Your application or resume may have been lost along the way or the client may be sitting back to see who takes the initiative. One of my current writing jobs was landed as a result of sending a follow up email reiterating my interest and asking if they needed any additional information to make their decision.

You have a lot going on.

This isn't always a barrier to a freelance career if you have good organization and time management skills. There are many freelancers, myself included, that successfully balance freelancing with family and other responsibilities. However, the more you have going on, the less time you have to devote to your freelance work.

You are unorganized.

Organization is an important skill, especially if you want to get paid for your work. You need to keep up with what work you've done and how much you are owed for it. For some clients, you may be asked to submit an invoice. When writing for content sites, you often have to click a pay out button before you will receive payment.

You also need to keep your income and expenses organized for tax time. Even if you plan to drop everything in the lap of your accountant, you need to be sure you have all the information handy. after doing the taxes for my husband's business for the last few years, I can tell you from experience that your accountant will not enjoy spending more time finding missing information than actually doing the taxes.

Your skin is thin.

With so many people drawn to freelancing, you may be going up against a large number of applicants for a job. Some may have more experience or offer lower rates than you are willing to. In some cases, it may come down to who offers the quickest turnaround time. Rejection is a sad fact of life in the freelancing world. Even big names in freelancing occasionally get turned down for a job.

You don't have good time management skills.

Time management skills are critical, especially if freelancing isn't the only thing on your plate. Missing a deadline is a cardinal sin in the freelance world. While a single missed deadline as a result of a situation beyond your control will most likely be excused, a reputation for constantly missing deadlines will be fatal to your career. Word gets around about unreliable freelancers and it can quickly become difficult to find work.

You expect a full-time income from the start.

While a full-time income from the start isn't completely impossible, it is highly unlikely. It takes time to build your reputation. Income usually grows as you gain more experience and visibility in the field.

Your communication skills aren't up to par.

While the majority of your contact with clients will most likely be through email or internet messaging, good communication skills are required. You need to be able to understand their needs, asking pertinent questions if necessary to clarify. If taking on a large job, you need to be prepared to update the client on your progress at frequent intervals. In all communications with clients, you need to maintain a professional image.

You need supervision.

As a freelancer, you'll be given a job and expected to do it. While asking questions for clarification is to be expected, most clients do not want to hold your hand as you do the job. If you can't work without someone telling you how and when to do something, you're probably not going to do well as a freelancer.

You're gullible.

There are scams that specifically target freelancers. Most of these revolve around the scammer posting an ad for a position and asking for samples as part of the application process. In reality, there is no position and you have just provided the scammer with free work, which they turn around and submit as their own or sell to others. If you're the gullible type, you will spend more time getting scammed than actually making money freelancing.

*Image by Svilen Mushkatov.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Weekly Resource RoundUp

weekly resource roundup logoIf you accept Paypal payments from clients for your freelance writing, you may be getting a little less than expected from now on. While personal accounts used to be able to receive money for free, Paypal has now added fees for certain transfers. Check out Paypal Doubles Fees, Forgets to Tell Customers for more details. This move may mean less money in your pocket now, but keep in mind that payment processing fees can be deducted as business expenses on taxes.

Freelance Apple offers 17 tips and tricks for new freelancers. Check it out to make sure you're doing everything you can to get your freelance writing business off the ground.

If you plan for your blog to be a source of income and want to be sure it gets off to a good start, there is a blog post on Just Make Money Online to help you out. The post is called how to make money from blogs in the first 6 months and gives you a month by month breakdown of what you need to do.

Daily Writing Tips gives us the top 5 freelance mistakes to avoid.

Last, but certainly not least, Deb Ng of Freelance Writing Jobs offers a little advice for finding work between jobs.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pros and Cons of Writing Packages

balance scaleWriting packages consist of multiple articles. Occasionally packages are for articles on related topics, but more often they cover the same topic. For the most part, I enjoy doing packages. However, there are some drawbacks.

Pros
  • Research is faster. Instead of having to research each individual article, you can research the subject once and do all the writing from a single research session.
  • Clients get to see more than one sample of your work. On content sites, work usually goes to the writer who claims it first. Unless you get lucky and snag multiple orders by the same client, you're left trying to make that one article convince the client you're the best writer for any future work. With a package, you have several opportunities.
  • You gain skills in originality and creativity. This is especially true of packages in which the subject matter is very narrow. You may end up covering the same ground multiple times and each article needs to be unique.
Cons
  • If you have trouble with one article in the package, you may have trouble with them all. This happened to me recently when I took on a writing package of five articles on a popular cosmetic procedure. When I first accepted the job, it seemed like it would be an easy one. However, once I started writing the first article, it quickly became apparent that meeting the client's needs and writing effectively was going to be difficult. With every subsequent article in the package, my frustration grew. While I did manage to complete the package, it was not a pleasant experience.
  • You may get paid less. In a world with buy one get one free or other discounts promoted everywhere, clients may expect a discount for giving you multiple articles to do. While it may not seem much to offer a $0.50 per article discount, it can quickly add up. Over 100 articles, you'll make $50 less.
What are your thoughts on article packages? Are they worth it?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Scheduling Writing Jobs

daily planner for scheduling freelance writing jobsWhen I first started taking assignments, I would write them down in my planner on the due date and time and would often actually write the article the same day it was due.

However, with everything I have going on in my life, I realized that odds were something was going to happen to prevent me from finishing my work on time. I started scheduling jobs a day or two before they were truly due in order to give myself a cushion.

This week, the odds were not in my favor. My husband was supposed to be home for the day on Friday so I scheduled a bunch of work to do that day. At 9 AM Friday morning, he got a call about a tile job. Since he's building his own business at the moment, he had to take the job. So I was left with a slew of work to be done while taking care of our sick three year old. I ended up only getting half of the work done that I had planned for the day.

Thankfully, my new system for scheduling saved me. Although I had scheduled the work to be done Friday, it was actually due over the next few days. I was able to complete all my jobs and get them turned in to the client by the real deadline.

How do you schedule your writing?

*Photo by Uffe Nielse.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Promoting Your Writing

person with a bullhornIf you write for content sites that pay for page views such as Ehow or Associated Content, getting traffic to your writing is important if you want it to earn money. While SEO (search engine optimization) and good writing may attract some traffic, promoting your writing exposes more people to your work.

RedGage is one method of promoting your writing. After registering for free, users can upload their photos, videos, blog posts and links to their work. Other RedGage users view your content, sometimes rating or commenting on it, and you earn cash for each view. While RedGage promotes the potential to earn, my goal for the site is simply to drive more traffic to my writing. It's paying off. In just a couple weeks, I've managed to gain over 200 views.

Twitter is another option. If you have a lot of followers, tweeting links to your articles can gain some views. However, be careful not to overwhelm your followers with links as this is considered by many to be spamming. I would suggest breaking up link tweets with conversation or only tweeting links that would interest your followers. For instance, if many of your followers are parents, a link to an article on how to get permanent marker off a hardwood floor would probably be a welcome tweet.

You can also post links on your Myspace or Facebook profile. Again, you want to be careful not to overwhelm with links. A few well-chosen links will do. If your readers enjoy your writing, they will go looking for more of your work.

If you're a member of a forum, linking to an article or your profile on a content site may be an option. On the WAHM forum I frequent, it's not unusual to see members with links to their Ehow or Associated Content profiles in their signature. Answering a post in a niche forum with a link to your work may also be a way of getting views. For instance, if you're a member of a crafting forum and a member has posted asking about free patterns, you may be able to link to your article on finding free patterns.

Advice sites such as Yahoo Answers may send some traffic to your writing. Don't be afraid to link to your writing if it's relevant to the question.

As a final option, your blog may be a way of promoting your writing. While you should not plaster your blog with links to every article you've ever written, occasionally referencing an article in a blog post or putting a feed of recent articles in a sidebar can bring traffic to your writing, especially if your blog has a high volume of traffic.

*Picture by Yamamoto Ortiz.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Weekly Resource RoundUp

weekly resource roundup logoNo one wants to put a lot of work into applying for a writing job only to find out that it's a scam. James of Men With Pens shares three scams freelancers face and how to avoid them. It is an older post (September 2007), but many of these scams are still in use today.

If you're writing content for the web, search engine optimization, often referred to as SEO, is something you need to know about. Check out this great list of free SEO tools. If you're writing for a share of ad revenue, you'll definitely want to check out the keyword tools.

Unless you plan to stay with content sites, odds are you're going to start looking for your own clients at some point in the future. Daily Writing Tips gives us 5 tips when bidding for freelance work.

Freelance Parent gives us 67 freelance niche writing markets you may have never considered.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Busy, but Productive

person jugglingLast week was very busy, but also quite productive for me. I finally hit my writing groove and managed to knock out almost $100 in articles. I'm well on my way to my August goal of $400 in writing income. I may even end up surpassing my goal. The addition of two more sites at the end of last month definitely helped as I have more options for income.

My new system for writing has helped a lot. Originally, I was grabbing an article or two, doing them and then looking for more work. Now, I sit down once a day and grab several articles with varying due dates. I spend less time looking for work and have work lined up several days out. What's your system for writing?

In addition to writing, I've been helping my husband with his business. After four years of subcontracting pretty much exclusively for one company, he decided to go in a new direction. He went into partnership with a friend. Since they're basically starting a new business from the ground up, they can't afford someone to handle the phones, bookkeeping, advertising and setting up their online presence. That all landed on my plate. I can't say that I mind too much, though, as they've already landed several nice jobs.

With everything going on, my time management skills are getting quite a workout. I'd be lost without my planner. I write down everything on it-due dates for articles, when I need to request payouts, doctor appointments, my classes, etc. Then I block out periods of times to do each thing. I try to take writing assignments on similar subjects so I only have to research once.

One thing I'm considering is setting up an additional monitor on my computer. I spend a lot of time going back and forth between my sources and my word processing program. Adding another monitor would enable me to have my research on one screen and my article up on another. This should reduce the amount of time I spend writing an article, in turn increasing my productivity. Do you have more than one monitor? If you do, has it increased your productivity?

*Photo by Joe Zlomek.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Weekly Resource RoundUp

weekly resource roundup logoA few more good resources this week. If you know of any that may be helpful to me or other readers, please comment and let me know.

If you're looking for information on how to monitor for content theft or how to deal with it if you find it, you need to check out Hey That Blogger Stole My Content at Blog World Expo.

If you're constantly fighting distraction, then check out 155 ways to work at home without distractions. There's lots of great tips from people that work from home.

Twitter has become the new social media. Learn 62 ways to use Twitter for business.

Ever wonder why you are not more productive? Check these 6 reasons on Dumb Little Man and learn how to get past them.

Your bio is an important part of how client's perceive you. Learn how to write a killer bio that lets clients see who you are and what you have to offer them.

Monday, August 3, 2009

How to Create a Freelance Writer's Resume

ResumeAs in a lot of other jobs, freelance writers sometimes find themselves in need of a resume in order to apply for a desired position. While a traditional resume will sometimes suffice, a writer's resume is a better choice. A writers resume focuses on your writing skills and experience. Any training related to either writing or the type of writing you will be doing should also be included.

If you're unsure of what to include on your writers resume, hiring a professional resume writer is an option. However, you should keep in mind that you may need several variations of your resume depending on the type of writing position you're applying for. That is why many freelancers choose to build their own writers resume.

A writer's resume begins like a traditional one with your name and contact information. Use discretion when deciding how much personal information to share. While many legitimate freelance writing positions do request a resume, spammers sometimes use the ruse to gain information.

Next is the objective. This is an often debated part of a resume. There are many that believe that no resume is complete without an objective. There are an equal amount of people who believe that the objective is useless. If you do decide to include an objective, make sure it's personalized to the job. A generic "position to utilize my writing skills" should be avoided.

Skills are next. While you may be tempted to include all your writing skills, it's best to list the ones that are relevant to the position. Remember hiring managers generally only spend 15 to 30 seconds reviewing a resume.

Experience follows. Focus on your writing experience. However, if you've held a non-writing position that can relate to the position you're applying for, it may be worthwhile to include that experience on your writers resume. For instance, if you're applying for a position as a medical writer and have ten years experience as a nurse, you would include your nursing experience because it lets the potential client know that you have a medical background.

Education should also be included. School name, location, degree, year of graduation is a common format. Even if you didn't graduate with a degree, it may be helpful to include relevant classes or activities that you did well in.

That is a basic format for the writer's resume. Don't be afraid to reorder the parts to play up your strong points. If you have little experience, but a Master's degree in Journalism, definitely move the Education section.

As you can see, a writer's resume isn't much different than one for any other job. The key is in highlighting your writing skills.

*Photo courtesy Microsoft ClipArt.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Freelance Progress Report: July 2009

Coins into piggy bankJuly ended up being a pretty hectic month for me and I fell short of my income goal. Between my husband and my father-in-law both being hospitalized and running here and there taking everyone for doctor's appointments and tests, I wasn't home that much. When I was home, a lot of my time went towards designing new business cards and a website for my husband's business.

Most of my writing was done the week my husband was out of work. He took over taking care of our daughter and the house, which freed up my time for writing. I registered our daughter for Head Start and now we're waiting to hear if she got in. If she gets in, I'll be able to do more writing during the day, which should increase my income substantially.

I started my phlebotomy classes the last week of July. It's paying off in an unexpected way. Thanks to what was covered in our first two classes, I came up with a few article ideas. I've set aside some pages in the back of my notebook I use for class to jot down article ideas.

I picked up two more writing jobs this month, Need An Article and Ecopywriters. I'm still getting used to them, but so far I'm enjoying writing for both sites. NAA has really impressed me with their open communication policy. Unlike other sites where you rarely get to speak to the staff, NAA encourages communication. I'll have more details on both sites once I get a little more versed in them.

The Breakdown
Ecopywriters
4 articles-$35.08
NAA
4 articles-$21.60

Associated Content once more got pushed to the side in favor of better paying options. I did do one article, an assignment, but other than doing a little promotion to drive traffic to my articles there, that was the extent of my work for them.

The Breakdown
1 assignment-$2.00
June PV bonus-$2.91
Total for month-$4.91
Total since start-$108.05

I had joined eHow a while back, but for some reason, I never followed through. This month I did put up a few How to's. I'm pleasantly surprised by the result. While they don't pay upfront like the other sites I write for, their pay for page views is better than I expected. With only 5 articles, I made close to what I got from Associated Content and I have 36 articles up on AC.

The Breakdown
5 articles
PV earnings-$1.65

With joining two other writing sites this month and learning the ropes with them, I did very little writing for Text Broker. Despite being told that the move to a level 5 would take a few weeks, I still haven't heard anything or noticed a change in my rating. I'm a bit disappointed.

The Breakdown
1 article in the 4 category-$4.55
1 article in the 3 category-$2.00
Total for month-$6.55
Total since start-$169.25

This month I joined RedGage in an effort to get more exposure for my writing. I added links to all of my Associated Content and eHow articles. It seems to have helped a little. The day after I added links to my articles, my AC page views went up. They did come back down, but are slightly higher than they were before. I'm going to keep experimenting to see if I can find a method to consistently drive traffic to my articles.

The fact that you can earn money when people click your links on RedGage was an added bonus, but since I joined just before the end of the month, I only made a few pennies. I'm not too concerned about the money issue since my main reason for joining was to get more views on my articles.

*Photo by Marc Garrido i Puig

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Weekly Resource Round Up


This week's round up has a few more goodies for you. If you have good resource or tool to share, let me know by commenting.

If you're feeling frazzled, stop by and check out Will Write for Chocolate for a laugh break. The comics never fail to make me smile.

Are you in personal branding prison? James Chartrand of Men With Pens offers some great advice about branding on a Copyblogger guest post.

Laura Spencer at Freelance Folder gives us ten tips to stay motivated even when you really don't feel like working.

If you need a refresher on punctuation, grammar or AP style, be sure to check out News University's course Cleaning Your Copy. The course is free. You just have to register with NewsU to take it.

Stock XChng is a good source for free photos to use in articles and blogs. Be sure to check the restrictions when using photos. Some require permission to use in a public work or ask that you give them a photo credit. Even if they have no requirements to use the photo, I always credit the photographer and leave a note letting them know where I used it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Back to School

Tonight, I go back to school. Considering I've been out of school 8 years, it's a bit of a scary thought, but I'm excited as well. Initially, school shouldn't interfere with my writing. My classes will be only two nights a week so I can continue to write during the day and late at night as I do now. Once I start clinicals, however, I'll have to rework my writing schedule as I've been advised that there are few, if any nighttime clinicals offered. By end the end of the year, my class will be finished and I'll be certified as a phlebotomist.

Even though I'm adding another career, I'm not giving up on my writing. My plan is to use phlebotomy as a source of full-time income while I build my writing business. As my writing business grows, I'll scale back on the other work.

The training should help my writing as well, especially when it comes to medical or health related articles. I figure I can probably get a few articles out of training and working as a phlebotomist as well.

*Photo by Steve Woods.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Weekly Resource Round Up

Note to readers: The Weekly Resource Round Up is a new feature and will appear every Wednesday. I spend a couple hours each week browsing the internet in search of information related to freelance writing. I'm constantly coming across some great information and tools and wanted to share them with you to help you in your own journey.

Deb Ng of Freelance Writing Jobs shares 50 Places that Hire Freelance Writers. Be sure to check out her freelance writing job leads as well.

Mira's List offers a large frequently updated list of grants, fellowships and residencies for individuals working in the arts. A number of these are specifically for freelance writers.

You can check the Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) of your headlines at the Advanced Marketing Institute. The free Headline Analyzer is an excellent tool for finding a headline that make an impact on your readers.

Web Doctus offers tips on using twitter to find freelance writing jobs.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Writing for Magazines


Lately, I've been considering getting into writing for magazines. The idea appeals to me for several reasons. First is the exposure. With so much writing online, it's easy to get overlooked. Writing for a popular magazine gets my name and work in front of millions of people. Second is the clips I can use in my freelance writing portfolio. An article on Associated Content or the like is okay, but can't hold a candle to an article published in a magazine read by millions. Third is the pay. Writing for content sites I make pennies per word. Writing for a magazine I can make a dollar or more a word. It adds up.

When the idea initially occurred to me, I assumed it would be difficult to find magazines willing to take on a freelance writer. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that many welcome unsolicited articles and queries. You can usually find the submission guidelines and contact information by going to the magazine's website and clicking on the “about us” or “contact us” tab. Not every magazine will indicate their rates upfront, but many do.

The one downside I've found to freelance writing for magazines is the wait time to get paid. Because articles are generally scheduled months in advance of their publication date, you may find yourself waiting a long time before you receive a check for your work. However, I feel like the higher rate of pay, not to mention the exposure, is well worth the wait.

Have you written for a magazine? If not, would you consider magazine writing? What magazines would you choose?

*Photo by R. Young.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Writer's Block

I've had writer's block lately. It's a frustrating condition, especially for a freelancer on a deadline. No one wants the dreaded label of "writer who misses deadlines." So how does a writer break through writer's block and get the words flowing again?

I did some research to find out what other writers do and came across an interesting post by Matt at Signal vs Noise. In his blog post Writer's Block is Sometimes Just Typer's Block, he theorizes that we have the words we need, but our fingers fail to follow through. He recommends speaking the words, then going back and transcribing what you recorded. In theory, this allows you to bypass your fingers, allowing your words to shine as they're meant to.

It actually makes perfect sense. I spend so much time struggling to get the typed words to match the words in my head that I end up cluttering them up, rendering my writing incomprehensible. By speaking the words naturally and then going back and typing, I skipped all the extra words by fingers were trying to add and managed to complete my article.

What's your method for dealing with writer's block?

*Photo by Robert Linder.

Monday, July 13, 2009

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pros and Cons of Freelance Writing

As with most things, freelance writing has its pros and cons. While the pros are what draw most of us to a career as a freelance writer, it's important to explore the cons as well. Many can be overcome, but if you find you have difficulty dealing with one of the cons, it may be time to do some serious thinking about whether freelance writing is really the best career option for you.

Pros
  • You can work just about anywhere. I've worked from a hospital waiting room while my husband had a procedure and the backyard while my daughter played.
  • You set your own hours. In a regular 9 to 5 job, you generally have to plan activities around your work schedule. One of the things that drew me to freelance writing is being able to take my daughter to the park in the middle of the day if we wanted to go.
  • You can wear your bunny slippers to work and no one will laugh. Other than your spouse or kids anyway.
  • If you don't feel like doing a specific job, you can turn it down.
  • You don't have to tune out your coworkers chatter.
  • Unless you're ghostwriting, it's your byline on the work you do.
Cons
  • You have to find your own work. It doesn't matter if you're the best writer to ever attempt a freelance writing career. If you don't take the initiative to find work, odds are you won't survive as a freelance writer.
  • You have to be organized. A freelance writer with a reputation for missing deadlines will find it difficult to find jobs. I use a combination of a day planner and reminder on my computer to ensure I don't miss a deadline.
  • You're on your own with taxes. As an employee, taxes are automatically pulled out of your paycheck. When you freelance, you are responsible for paying the taxes yourself.
  • You have to have a thick skin. In a perfect world, we'd always get every job we wanted. In the real world, the job often goes to the writer with more experience, a lower rate or simply a different style or writing. Freelance writers have to be able to handle rejection.
  • It can be lonely.
What pros and cons have you found in your freelance writing career?

*Photo by Stephen Stacey.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Freelance Progress Report: June 2009

This month I added another paid writing gig with Review Stream. The pay isn't the greatest-a few dollars per review, a fraction of that if they consider it a bulk review. Thankfully, all of my submitted reviews were paid at the full rate. You can review anything-products in your home, local businesses, etc. I did a couple reviews on supplements I take and a few on local businesses. Judging from some of the reviews I read on the site, they're not too picky about how good the writing is.

It is a little different from other writing sites in that it doesn't have a log in. Initially, I thought it was a scam, but I did a little research and it appears they are legit. I don't plan on it being a big money stream, but it's okay for a little extra when I don't have any other work to do.

The Breakdown
3 reviews at regular rate-$6

I haven't did a lot of work at Associated Content this month. This is partially due to the fact that writing assignments have been few and far between. Most of the assignment list is made up of video and audio assignments. While I have the equipment to do those type of assignments, I prefer writing. I haven't claimed the few writing assignments because they have all been on topics I'm not familiar with. While I don't mind researching, it's just not productive for me to do that much research on an article that only offers a couple dollars. In the time I spend researching something I have absolutely no knowledge on, I would have been able to write a couple articles for TextBroker or a handful of reviews for Review Stream and made a lot more money. With limited time to write, I need to make sure the pay is enough to compensate for the time spent.

I did run into a problem with my Father's Day article. Apparently someone stole it and "spun" it. When I was checking the standing of my articles on the search engines, something I do on a regular basis, I came across the other one. The idiot who stole it was not the brightest crayon in the box. Their spun version made no sense, not to mention they neglected to steal the second page of the article. This is the first time I've ran into an issue with any of my articles and it was frustrating. Logically, I know it's bound to happen if my articles are online. However, that doesn't stop me from feeling very ticked off at the person for ripping off my article.

The Breakdown
4 articles
1 assignment-$3.75
3 offered upfront-$9.09
April PV bonus-$0.30
May PV bonus-$1.79
total for month-$14.93
total since start-$103.14

I ended up giving Textbroker the majority of my writing time this month. They've had pretty steady work almost all month. Of the articles I wrote, only a couple were in the 3 category so I made out pretty well. I definitely surpassed last month's income with the site.

I got lucky the other day and snagged an article that paid between $14 and $28. It ended up being a little more work than I had expected, but I did get it finished. Even with falling short of the upper limit (which I almost always hit with other articles), I still made $23.58.

I did send in my request to be moved up to a 5 rating. One of the editors answered my request and said that they would review my writing. She also let me know that the process can take up to a few weeks. So far, I haven't heard anything back other than that and I'm still at a 4 rating, but I'm not giving up on it.

They had another bonus weekend, but I only got a $1 bonus, just like the last bonus weekend. It never fails; I'm always busy doing other stuff when one is going on so I end up missing out on a nice bonus.

The Breakdown
9 articles in the 4 category-$75.10
2 articles in the 3 category-$10.00
bonus weekend-$1.00
Total for month-$86.10
Total to date-$162.70

July will be my last month before I add another aspect to my already busy schedule. I start classes at the end of the month to become a phlebotomist. I still plan to continue in my efforts to make a career as a freelance writer, but phlebotomy will give me a steady income while my business gains momentum.

*Photo by Sigurd Decross.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Articles Were Picked Up!

Earlier today I was doing a web search for my articles to see how they were doing and found that several of my articles have been picked up by other sites. I'm excited. While I know they most likely grabbed a feed from Associated Content and my articles just happened to have the right keywords, it still means a little more exposure for my writing. Getting my name and my work out there puts me one step closer to a career as a freelance writer.

One article about being a SAHM was picked up by the Wall Street Journal website. Articles on museums near Cannes, Virginia attractions along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and family-friendly waterfalls in north Georgia were all picked up by USA Today website.

*Photo by Adam Ciesielski.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Home Office

I have a home office. Kinda. We have a three bedroom house. Since we only have one child (so far anyway), the third bedroom is supposed to be a home office. However, it has become a catch-all for everything we can't find space for-our large library of books, boxes that we've yet to unpack since our move, craft supplies for my daughter, etc.

When I was only doing the bookkeeping for my husband's tile business, it wasn't a big deal. Because he mainly subcontracts for a larger business and has no employees, keeping the books does not require a lot of time. I could handle being hemmed in by everything for the little bit of time I spent working.

But now that I'm spending more time in the room working on my writing, I'm beginning to feel stifled. It's time to overhaul the room. I'd like to get remove everything I don't need for work, but I have a feeling that I may have to settle for corralling all non-work items to one corner of the room.

Once I have some space dug out, I can start thinking about the best arrangement of my work space. I will probably end up getting a new desk as my current one lacks the desktop space I want. It's a pain having to balance a notepad on my lap while I'm typing. So far, I haven't found the right desk that fits my needs and price range. I may end up drawing a picture of the desk I'm looking for and having my husband build it for me.

I have file cabinets, thanks to my husband. A few weeks ago, he was on his way to a job and came across someone throwing away two perfectly good file cabinets. They're the two drawer kind and even had the keys to lock them taped inside. So he loaded them up in his truck and brought them home for me.

Do you have a home office? How is it set up? What home office essentials could you not work without?

*Photo by Lauren Stephens.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Scheduling Time for Writing

One of the reasons I enjoy working from home is that I'm not stuck working in a schedule designed by someone else. I like the freedom of being able to run errands when I feel like it, rather than trying to squeeze it into my lunch break. Being able to take my daughter to the park when the mood strikes, rather than having to wait until I'm off work, is wonderful.

However, with my plan to add more content sites to write for, as well as hopefully finding some private clients in the near future, I see that some sort of schedule is going to be a necessity. My time is split in several directions-family, bookkeeping for my husband's business, taking care of our home, writing, and, starting next month, school.

Since the thought of a rigid schedule with every minute planned just makes me cringe, I'm going to try a more flexible one. That will allow me to adapt easily if something comes up or I just want to do something different that day.

If you're a stay at home parent, how do you schedule time for freelancing?

*Photo by Jenny W.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Value of Your Freelance Writing

I have been debating about signing up with a freelance job site. To make a career out of freelance writing, I need to be able to find clients, rather than depend solely on content sites. After browsing my options, I signed up with one. I filled out my profile, did a couple tests to prove my abilities in my chosen categories, and then started looking through the jobs.

I'm finding that the pay isn't that great on many of the jobs. Either providers are bidding extremely low or the buyer is expecting professional quality work at outrageously low rates. The buyers know they can find providers at low rates so they have no incentive to pay a fair rate.

While I don't expect top dollar for my work when I'm still fairly new to freelance writing, I have a problem with working for rates that low. I just can't bring myself to work for $1-2 an hour or a fraction of a penny per word. I can make more money waitressing, babysitting or working fast food.

My husband is supportive of my writing and my desire to make a career of it. However, I can't see it going over well if he comes in from work to me announcing that I worked all day and made $8. He would ask me if I was out of my mind and I would have to agree with him.

As freelancers, I don't think we're helping ourselves by undervaluing our work. To make money working at substandard rates, you have to work faster, which often leads to a decline in the quality of work. Also, by agreeing to work for extremely low rates, we're teaching clients to expect high quality work at bargain basement prices.

What value do you put on your work? What are your time, skills and experience worth?

*Photo by Jack Tse.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Freelance Progress Report: May 2009

Second month down and still going good with Associated Content. I slowed down a little on my writing for the site since I added Text Broker. Also, between dealing with my chronically ill husband's two hospital stays, babysitting my rambunctious nieces, and my great-grandmother passing on, I've had a busy month.

Anyway, I added another 13 articles, 10 of which were assignments. The 3 non-assignments were offered upfront payments.

I was pleasantly surprised by my Mother's Day article. Initially, I wasn't going to do one since the web is saturated with holiday content, but I finally came up with a niche. It has turned out to be my top-performing article so far, although my yoga poses for kids article is fast closing the gap. What really surprises me, though, is the fact that the article is still getting views despite Mother's Day being over.

The breakdown
13 articles
10 assignments-$33.75
3 offered upfront-$8.38
total for month-$42.13
total since start-$91.96

This month I joined a site called Text Broker. It's a bit different from Associated Content. You choose from the list of assignments in your rating or lower. Once the article is complete, the client has all the rights to it. I've written 10 articles so far and made $76.60. All of my articles have had high ratings from both the client and Text Broker.

Text Broker's FAQ says that if you consistently are rated high, you can request to be moved up to a higher rating. Since all mine have been high, I'm thinking about it. I'm rated a 4 right now and it's a decent jump in pay-from 1.6 cent to 5 cent a word-if I move up to a 5.

The Breakdown
8 articles in the 4 category-$64.40
2 articles in the 3 category-$11.20
bonus weekend-$1.00
Total made-$76.60

I'm happy with my progress so far, but if I want to make a career out of freelance writing, I need to buckle down. I'm going to have to work out a schedule for writing and find some other freelance writing gigs. While these sites are fine for now, I'm hoping to get to the point where I do my freelance writing directly for the client instead of a go-between.


*Photo by Matthew Bowden

Monday, May 25, 2009

Writing in Chaos

I normally don't have a problem writing with my three-year-old in the house. She'll sit in my home office and play while I'll work. Occasionally, she'll want to play one of the educational computer games we have for and I'll set her up on my husband's computer. It's rare I have trouble working with her around.

My husband has chronic pancreatitis. When he's sick, it does add a degree of difficulty as I'm not only trying to keep him comfortable, but I'm also attempting to keep our daughter and the puppy away from him. It slows down my writing, but generally I can still get some writing done.

However, this weekend has taught me that writing in chaos is nearly impossible. My sister is currently attending college full-time to be a medical office administrator. Between school and taking care of her family, she hasn't had any time for herself in a long time. So when she was offered the opportunity to attend a bike rally over the weekend, I volunteered to babysit my nieces so she could go. They're four and five.

It was a very chaotic weekend. While my daughter is good at playing quietly, my nieces are not. Our puppy tends to sleep a lot, but since my nieces had brought their puppy along, he spent the whole time chasing her around the house while they both barked at each other and anything else that caught their eyes. On top of all the ruckus the kids and dogs were making, my husband got sick and ended up being hospitalized on Friday. Then, my aunt called Saturday night to tell me that my great-grandmother had passed away.

By Sunday, I was ready to pull my hair out. I had planned to write over the weekend, but hadn't had a chance with everything going on. My husband got out of the hospital around lunchtime. On the way to pick him up, my sister called to let me know she was coming back early and ask if I could meet her at three so she could pick up the girls. I ended up rushing home, feeding everyone lunch, then loading them all back in the car for the two hour trip to meet my sister.

By the time I finally made it home Sunday evening and got my daughter in bed, I was so exhausted that I crawled in bed as well. Not a very productive weekend for me unfortunately.

This weekend was a learning experience for me. If I plan to make a career as a freelance writer, I need to be able to work around obstacles that come up.

*Photo by Carl Dwyer

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Free Courses to Help with Your Freelancing Career

When it comes to being a freelance writer , you need skills in writing, marketing and business. However, as a stay at home managing our bills on one income, paying for classes on these subjects isn't an option. So I started searching the web for free online classes.

News University offers courses on subjects ranging from advertising sales to writing. While some of the courses do have a fee, there are several that are offered at no cost. You do have to sign up for a free account to take advantage of the courses.

Suite 101 offers a variety of courses. Be sure to check out the articles on starting and running a small business, professional writing, and writing well.

Writer 2 Writer has a few free courses. However, you should be aware that you will be automatically added to their ezine when you sign up for one of the free courses.

The business courses at Free-Ed will help you learn how to manage your freelance business.

*Photo by Sanja Gjenero