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