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Monday, June 25, 2007

A New Home

I've been thinking for a while that Get Paid To Write deserves its own domain - and now it's got it. I give you Get Paid To Write Online.

The doors are open, the champagne's chilled and it's time for a celebration. If you have subscribed to my feed or taken an email subscription there should be no difference - if you haven't, then maybe now's the time - the links are in the sidebar.

There are still a few boxes to be unpacked, but you'll still get the same content - so join me on Get Paid To Write Online.

Writers, You Need To Get Out More

Once upon a time, freelance writing was an out and about business. You went out, met people, talked to sources, talked to editors and generally had a range of conversations related to what you were writing. Now, freelance writing can be very different, especially if your main business is writing web content.

As a web content writer, you can spend days or weeks at your desk without ever seeing another person. You can research your articles on the internet, draft them and send them off with very little human contact at all. In some ways, it's like living in a protective bubble, where you don't have to deal with the real world. However, it's a mistake to stay in that bubble for too long.

The reason is that without some outside input your writing will get stale. You will be drawing on the same old sources for inspiration you have always used. No matter how expert your knowledge, you need to refresh it from time to time. In order to produce a pearl, you have to throw in a little dirt.

So how do you do this when your writing job keeps you tied to your desk? Virtuality has advantages as well as disadvantages and one of the advantages is that you can keep up with developments in your field without leaving your desk. You can read news sites, online magazines and ezines, and you can subscribe to blogs in your field. All of this will keep you abreast of what people are talking about and thinking.

Offline, you can get a lot of inspiration from the books you read, the radio programmes you listen to and the television you watch. Anything can spark an idea or create a metaphor that will liven up your writing. The trick is to be alert and be ready to capture these fleeting inspirations – and to get out more. It will do your writing no end of good.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Get Paid Like A Writer?

Escape from Pianosa has pointed towards this spoof Craigslist ad, titled If all CL Job Postings were for Freelance Writers. Here's an excerpt:


We are a start-up family seeking one or more doctor(s) for ongoing projects. We need a board-certified obstetrician to provide initial services while we expand our family from two to three members over the next few months. ... The winning candidates will provide three monthly office visits of at least 30 minutes (each)... Could work into a full-time gig, eventually. ... Since we're a small family right now, so we can't pay much. We're offering $5 per 30 minute office visit, with the chance for bonuses of $3 for each additional service (such as lab work) you provide. We pay by PayPal once a month.

It's worth a read.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Writing Links 23 June 2007

Here are seven posts that I thought were worth reading:

How to have infringing contents removed from the search engines on SixFigureWriters.com

Networking within your blog niche from DoshDosh

Make your blog posts readable from BlogTutorials

Are you in love with your own writing from Copyblogger

Web writing: your top five money making skills from Fab Web Writers

Putting Together Ghostwriting Proposals from the Golden Pencil

Contracts and Agreements from AllBusiness.com


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Client Expectations

Happy Thursday! I was going to write a post about this and found myself putting it on Garden and Hearth instead. Check it out here and drop me a comment either there or here.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tagged - 7 Random Things

hifidel has tagged me in the seven random things meme.

The Rules: Each player starts with 7 random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to write their own blog post with their 7 things as well as these rules. You need to tag 7 others and list their names on your blog. Remember to leave a comment for them letting them know they have been tagged and to read your blog.

Here are my seven things:

1. My favourite movies include Shawshank Redemption and the Sound of Music.
2. The best job I ever had was in a bookstore.
3. I'm a voracious reader.
4. My favourite colour is yellow.
5. I'm a sucker for chocolate cake.
6. I lived in the South of France for a year.
7. I'm in touch with my inner child.

So here are my taggees:


poetically challenged

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Is Your Writing Client Your Boss?

I was reading the latest issue of the Freelance Writing Success newsletter. Writer Nick Osborne made a very good point. He said if you are doing most of your work for a single client, then you have a boss. That's because you are so dependent on that single source of income that you can't afford to say no. In other words, you're not in charge any more.

That really made me think. I have a great relationship with the clients I work with, but I don't want to depend exclusively on any of them. That's why I keep seeking out new work and I keep promoting myself.

As a freelance writer and ghostwriter, I need to be able to say no sometimes. I need to be in charge of balancing my workload. I need to be the one making decisions about my career. After all, that's why I stopped working for a boss and started working for myself.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Freelance Writing Journey

What a difference a year makes. In February 2006 I was into my second month as a freelancing WAHM. I had given up my job the previous August, done some teaching in September to December, and finally part company with my old employer at Christmas. I had made a measly GBP50 for writing some content for one of my old students, and I had just started writing for Inspired Author. Although I was a writer, I wasn't really making any money. I was lucky, though. I had a solid 19 years of writing experience behind me, so at least I had some skills to put on the table.

With IA and my two new blogs, I learned to write for the web, to address my audience directly and to develop a rapport with people I had only met in the virtual world. I was able to use these new skills to write for a number of sites and agency and to make money from writing. It took six months to replace my part time salary from lecturing. (Don't anyone get jealous; freelance writing income fluctuates, so I have had good and bad months since then. However, it was an important psychological milestone, because I knew then that freelancing was viable.)

Just over a year on, things have changed again. I make a reasonable living from freelancing, and have enough work (most of the time anyway) to pass some on to other writers. I didn't expect that deciding to go freelance would lead to becoming an agent for other writers, but I am always open to new opportunities.

I've learned a lot in the last year and a bit. I've learned that if you are willing to invest a bit of time in your future, you will gain something. When I started writing for IA, it was on the promise of future earnings. While I was waiting, I used those articles as a platform for getting other writing work. And I now earn money from those articles every day.

I've learned that it is essential to talk to other work at home writers. They keep me sane. We can share our joys, woes and warnings, which makes the job better for all of us.

Most of all, I have learned that it IS possible to succeed as a freelance writer, even if you are doing it on top of a full time job and while children clamour for attention. All you have to do is look out for the opportunities and grab them - you might get back more than you bargained for.

The most important things I did to jump start my freelance writing career were:

What were the most important things you did to start yours?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Night Shift

Ah - the freedom of freelance writing. The freedom to set your own hours, as long as the client doesn't dictate otherwise. The freedom to take time off, as long as you meet the deadline. The freedom to knock off early, or to work till midnight. Don't you just love it?

I certainly do. I think that there are compromises with every job. Today I stopped work early to take my daughter on a play date, then went to the movies with my hubby. I can do that as a freelance writer. The trade off is that I will be up till midnight so I don't get too far behind this week. Works for me :-) What about you?

Friday, June 8, 2007

Web Writing Skill Building

When you're starting out as a freelance writer, or even thinking about freelancing, it can be difficult to find places where you can get paid to write. However, there is one way you can build your web content writing skills and earn a bit of money too.

That's what I cover in my new article on freelance writing on Garden and Hearth. It includes tips on how to write for your readers.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Thank You Angela Hoy

I want to say a public thank you to Angela Hoy. I had a client who had owed me money for a couple of months. On the advice of a group of writer friends, I approached Angela about including his details in the Whispers and Warnings.

She agreed to do that, but she also approached him about my assertion that he had not paid. He very grumpily asked me to invoice him again - and then paid up. Too late, though, I think he will shortly be making an appearance in the next Whispers and Warnings.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Brain Freeze Taught Me A Lesson

As freelance writers, sometimes we take on too much in our desire to please - and to get paid. Sometimes it's a question of saying yes to something you have no hope of completing; at others it's a case of thinking you can do it until the reality hits.

Then there's the third case. This is when you think your research skills are even greater than they are. Today I am supposed to be writing about car restoration. This is a subject way outside my area of expertise. I looked at the sources and my brain froze. I suddenly thought that I had made a mistake in agreeing to write on this topic.

I've looked at my source material a couple more times and I think I can do it. Luckily the article is short, though the style guide is prescriptive. But I've learned a lesson. Sometimes I need to know where to draw the line - and to draw it before accepting a topic that will make my brain freeze.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

UK Writers Wanted

Some of you may know that in addition to writing myself, I'm also an agent for a small team of writers. That means I get the clients, pass on the work to writers, check it's ok and pass it back to clients. Writers get work without having to bid; I get a small cut - and I do mean small. You do most of the work; you get most of the money - that's my view.

Now I'm on the lookout for a couple more writers, but with specific attributes. First of all, you must be familiar with the UK. I get a lot of UK-specific work. If you are good at writing about consumer finance (loans, credit cards, mortgages, insurance, banking and so on), that would be even better.

I have a couple of regular clients who are increasing their requirements, as well as new ones who are likely to. There's plenty of work for someone who is conscientious, a good researcher and can meet tight deadlines. If this is you, drop me a line through my Writing Lab blog. Tell me about your writing experience.

If it sounds good, I will ask you to write a sample article for which you will get paid if the buyer likes it. (No scams, I promise you - I can even provide references who will prove that I pay up.) If the buyer doesn't like it, you own the rights and can use it elsewhere. Either way, you will know within a couple of days. Hope to hear from you.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Getting Busy With Writing

Look what happens when you put in a little work. A few weeks ago I decided I wasn't bidding enough, so I decided to place at least three bids for writing work every day.

Fast forward and what have we got?

* a deal with one company to write bundles of articles
* a deal with another company to write real estate articles
* a deal with a third company to write how to articles
* a contract with a UK company to write property articles
* and two ghostwriting contracts in the last stages of negotiation

The lesson for me is that you should always keep bidding. The more you bid, the better your hit rate is likely to be and the less down time you will have.

Of course, I still need to find time to promote.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Snowed Under With Writing

It's one of those days. All the work I have been chasing has finally come in and now I am officially snowed under. Within the next week, I have to produce articles and blog posts on property, the internet, writing and assorted subjects as well as fleshing out the content for a magazine. I'm also working on two book contracts. I think it will be a busy weekend. I'm not complaining, though. It's good to be busy and it's good to have the income.

How are your writing projects going?

Monday, May 28, 2007

New Writing Community Blog

If the seeming demise of WritingUp has left you down, then weep no more! From out of the ashes has arisen a site that will be better, stronger and much more reliable. It's called Communati and its mission is to take the best from WritingUp and leave the worst.

Here's what founder Mark Whitbeck has to say:

The philosophy about Communati.com, the way it looks, feels, and works, is to introduce something that is familiar while morphing into something completely new.

The best includes recreating that community aspect; leaving the worst means eliminating those darned trackbacks once and for all.

I signed up for Communati and so far, so good. I have already met a couple of old WU friends there and hope to meet more. So far, I am welcoming Communati with cautious optimism.

Check out my posts there. I'm wahmwriter (couldn't stay away from writing completely, but wanted more freedom to broaden my horizons).

PS. Did I mention that you get 70 per cent of Adsense revenue?

This is cross posted from Sharon's Writing Lab

Made You Think - Yay!

I've been tagged for a Thinking Blogger award, courtesy of Showintale Journeys. I am pleased and touched, because the award is for blogs that make you think, which is a nice accolade for any blogger to receive.

Now it's my turn to pass it on. I've got to choose five bloggers, which is tough because all of the bloggers I read make me think in some way. To narrow it down, I've chosen five bloggers whose posts I star in Google Reader so that I can find them again.

JenOHaven - a new blog from a trusted blogging friend, with tech tips of all sorts.
Inkwell Editorial's freelance career blog - every time I read this blog I come away inspired and informed
The Writer's Blog by Dana Prince - a freelancer's journey to success.
FreelanceSwitch - there's so much good stuff on this blog it's hard to know what to pick out.
DoshDosh - how to make money online. Every post is detailed and well planned.

All of these are great bloggers, who deserve the Thinking Blogger award. If you choose to take part, pass on the award to five more bloggers, and leave me a link to your post here. Here are the rules:

*Should the bloggers choose to participate, please make sure to pass the rules on to the next Thinking Blogs you tag.

The participation rules are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

This award was begun by ilker yoldas at The Thinking Blog.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Writing Linkfest 27 May 2007

Well, I usually wait a while before posting collections of links, but I've found some great stuff in the last week that I'd like to share with you.

First of all, there's Inkwell Editorial's series on freelance mentoring. It's in three parts. Parts one and two each cover five things you should look for, while part three considers the most important factor in a freelance mentor. This is a topic that interests me because I have both mentored and been mentored, with positive results for all. I don't know whether I've said it before, but Yuwanda Black's blog is now a must-read for me.

That can also be said of the Freelance Switch blog, which this week had a post on getting more done by working in short bursts. I'm always interested in finding out how to be more productive and this post gives a few ideas. Freelance Switch also has a good post on setting your rates and there's also an hourly rate calculator on the site.

Inklings - The Copywriter's Blog gives some advice on making sure your writing is good, by going over it again and again. There's also an article by Donna Sweat on the Writing For Reason blog - and it's all about proofreading.

Finally, there's an article I wish I had written from Fab Web Writer about five types of writing you can get paid to do.

Happy reading!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Your Favourite Writing Tools

Sometimes you have to blow your own trumpet, otherwise who else will do it. I've been a member of Helium for a while (in fact, I plan to review the highs and lows one day) and I have a few articles on there. Not as many as some of my friends, but a respectable number. I've recently added two more to the list, and since they are about writing, I thought I would share them with you.

The first is about why writers need other writers. I think this is one that I may expand into a longer article one day.

The second is about setting up a writer's office. It made me think about the things I have in my office that I can't do without. Apart from my laptop and a reliable internet connection, I still find a pen and paper the most useful writing tools I own. Sometimes I need to write something down without having to open a new document or leave the one I am working on. What's your most useful writing tool.

Blog Learning

Someone paid me a great compliment today. She said that she had learned a lot from my blog. Hearing that from just one person makes writing this blog worthwhile.

When I started blogging, I didn't know that my fledgling blog would turn into this. It turned out I had a lot to say about various aspects of freelance writing, ghostwriting, blogging and promotion. This was mainly because I was doing all of those myself, and sharing what I learned as I went.

I had a lot of places to go to for inspiration. (Some of those are in my blogroll, though not all. I have yet to harmonise my feed reader and my blogroll.)

Since moving my blog to its new home, I have rediscovered my interest in blogging about writing, and it's nice to know that I am able to pass on some of the help I have had from other people.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Positive Thinking For Positive Writing

Can positive thinking help you attract the kind of writing clients you need? There's a lot of information out there that says that positive thoughts and intentions help you to tap into the abundance that is already out there. This applies to every aspect of your life, including your writing career. If you intend to have well paid writing work, then that is what you have. If, on the other hand, you think that well paid writing work is a pipe dream, then that is exactly what it will be. That's the way the received wisdom on abundance goes.

I don't have a problem with positive thinking. In fact, I have used it to great effect. However, in my experience you have to back it up with positive action. So if I want well paid writing work, I have to write a successful bid that shows my writing skills and past successes, and I have to set a fair price for the writing I will be doing. If I demonstrate why I am worth the money, then the client is usually willing to pay it. That's why positive thoughts need to be backed up with positive actions, in my view.

Thinking positive means that you present yourself in that way and your self confidence will bring rewards. I am already seeing how that works and am grateful for the results. How have you used positive thinking in your writing career?

This post was inspired by Dana Prince's post on The Secret.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Writing Linkfest 20 May 2007

Time for me to spread some Linky Love and highlight some of the writing related posts that have caught my eye.

First up is 13 Breeds of Freelancer on the FreelanceSwitch blog. It's great fun seeing which category you fit into and the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. A witty post with a serious side.

Codswallop brings us 100 tools to boost your freelancing career, while Inkthinker has released the Freelance Writing 101 handout, with lots of info for all freelancers. Check out the list of online writing resources.

If you work at home, what do you do for Take Your Child To Work Day? Find out from homemom3

Finally, Yuwanda Black advises us on how to use a letter to increase our freelance writing business.

Happy reading.

Friday, May 18, 2007

When Writing Clients Leave

As a freelance writer, you can't rely on clients sticking around. And it doesn't have to be your fault that they leave. Take this example. I have a client who saw one of my promotional efforts, approached me to do some writing on online business, and paid promptly and well. In fact, he's the dream client. He has been happy with my work over the last few months. However, I won't be getting any money from him this month.

Why? Well, I can only speculate. Over the years of my ghostwriting and freelance writing career, I have found that clients move on for several reasons.

  • They have come to the end of the current project
  • They have achieved what they set out to do with a book or series of articles and they don't need you any more
  • They have run out of money (and I am happy if they end the contract rather than making chase them for payment)
  • They have another project but think you have only one area of writing expertise.

So what do you do? In the case of my current client, he asked about other areas I was comfortable writing in. That made me think that it's always worth getting in touch with former clients to let them know that you are available and that you can write in a range of areas.
After all, how can it hurt? That way you remind them that you exist and perhaps generate some additional work.

In these cases my approach is simple. I greet the client, remind the client of the last successful project I did for him or her, and ask if they need any more writing work. At the moment, since I have a team of writers working with me, I also mention that we cover a broad range of writing areas.

That's one point, but the other thing about writing clients leaving is that you need to replace the income. That's where regular bidding comes in. The more projects you have available, the less the loss of a single client matters. How do you handle the loss of good clients?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Business Promotion On Squidoo

Jinger Jarrett wrote a post somewhere about the value of using Squidoo to create a business profile (if anyone knows where, I am happy to link to it). Jinger gives great advice, so I decided to create one for myself. It's a work in progress, but eventually it will bring together all my internet stuff. I present the Sharon Hurley Hall lens. Please have a look and give me some feedback, either there or here.

What's missing that you want to know more about?
What have I put too much of?

I'm looking forward to your comments

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What Do You Think?

Notice the colorful icons beneath each post. They are from a service called Click Comments, designed for those who don't want to comment but want to leave feedback. I'm trying it on this blog. I'd like some feedback from you, though.

1. Would this stop you from commenting if you had been going to comment?
2. Would it make you click on an option if normally you would just leave?
3. Is it annoying?
4. Anything else you want to say.

Let me know what you think.

Get Paid To Write - Not!

Have you seen this spoof ad for ghostwriting web content? Have a look at this post. Not sure whether it's sad or funny. It makes me think that when we agree to those jobs we're being taken for a ride. (On the other hand, maybe we are also feeding our families). What did you think when you read it?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Freelance Writing Report Card

It's just about two years since I made the decision to leave my job as a journalism lecturer and become a full time freelance writer and ghostwriter. Well, actually part time, since the point of doing it was to spend more time with my daughter, who's now at school. I have to say that it was the best decision I have ever made.

Although it took me a while to get started, I spent the first few months setting up my site and starting to promote myself as a writer. Then I started getting work, very slowly at the start of 2006. While I was waiting for more work to come in, I did some writing for Inspired Author, and learned a lot from the owner of that site which is still working for me today.

Then, all of a sudden, things took off. By the time summer came, I had replaced my old salary as a lecturer (some of the time anyway) and had enough work to keep me constantly busy. That trend has continued ever since, which is why I now work with several other writers, to whom I pass on the overflow.

Even though at times I have felt burned out and have lacked motivation (particularly when I get to article 100 of a series of 150 on a subject I'm not that interested in), I have no doubt that I made the right move. I am working from home, setting my own hours (in theory, at least) and writing every day. I love my job and I love the freedom it gives me.

I consider that a good start, but it's still not enough. Now that I am in the habit of writing every day, I want to write more of my own stuff as well. I've got ideas for at least three books or ebooks, so over the next year I plan to start on some of them. What's your report card on your freelance writing career? Why not write a post on it and leave a link here?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Why I Work With Other Writers

The other day I was having an online chat with a friend. I was telling her about some of the problems I had had with some writers. She asked me whether working with a team of writers was really what I wanted to do. That made me examine my reasons for doing it, and at the end of that chat I came out of it with renewed commitment to team building. I want to share my reasons with you.

1. Teaching
One of the reasons I started working with writers is because I have enjoyed helping them or mentoring them through my blogs, sites and chats. I didn't start out knowing this was what I would do, but a few of my friends have said how helpful this was. It's always nice to feel appreciated and my reward is seeing other people succeed. Helping someone to reach their potential is one of the best things about teaching - and I get a real kick from it.

2. Income
I'm not entirely altruistic. Working with other writers means that instead of turning away work when I am busy, I can pass it on to someone else and take a small commission. The writer gets most of the money, as she (they are all women at the moment) is the person who is doing most of the work. The commission covers the time I spend sourcing and bidding for jobs, responding to emails and checking the work to make sure it meets the brief. This gives me a boost in income and gives someone else a helping hand, which means we both win.

3. Giving Back
All through my writing career, there have been people who have taken a chance on me and given me the chance to try something new. I believe in paying it forward, so if I can now do the same for other writers, I think it's the right thing to do. Some writers need the chance to develop some skills and as long as they are willing to learn and can meet deadlines I am willing to let them try new things. It's giving something back to the writing community - and I think it's the right thing to do.

By and large, I'm happy with how it's going. I have met some wonderful writers and made some good friends - who could ask for more?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy WAHM Day

I've just realised something. Nearly every writer I know at the moment is a mom. Some have new babies, some have older children, some even have grandchildren. There are lots of us juggling writing careers and motherhood. Some of us are freelancing full time, while others are combining writing with full time jobs outside the homes. I figure we deserve at least one day. So this post is for all of you (all of us): Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Five Lessons

Sometimes you need a little help to make a success of your freelancing career. I know I did - and still do. So to make it easier, I've written an article about five things I have learned about freelancing - some of them the hard way. Here's an excerpt:

Any marketer will tell you that the secret to a successful business is referrals and residuals. These are the people who keep coming back month after month, year after year, without you having to sell them on your writing again. And that's money in the bank to a freelance writer.

I hope they'll help you, too.

Read Five Freelance Writing Lessons

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Guide To Ghostwriting

People are always interested to find out about ghostwriting. They want to know what's involved and more importantly, how much you can get paid. As I point out:

In today's virtual world, you don't have to be in the same room or even the same country to write someone's life story. It can all be done by email.
Check out my Guide To Ghostwriting for some of the answers to your questions. And if you have a different perspective on the matter, leave me a comment on the site.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Writing Admin

Today is one of those days when I'm doing a lot of admin. That mostly means checking my account, checking my list of jobs and making sure that I have paid all Paypal requests that are due. I pay within a week, so I need to keep track of this to avoid writers going hungry. I like it when people pay me on time so I try to do the same for any writers who are working with me. :)

Other tasks include checking to make sure that everything that should have come in today has come in - and that every piece of work due out has been checked and sent on. That can take a lot of time. Tomorrow will be busy because I have two major jobs coming in that will need to be checked.

Finally, I am starting on a job that came in two weeks ago but had to be put on hold because of more urgent deadlines. Of course, that now means that I will have to work faster to get it all done on time. Just as well I love freelancing.

What does the rest of your week look like?

Monday, May 7, 2007

How Do You Promote?

Promotion is a key aspect of freelance writing success. Here's what I say about it in one of my new articles on Garden and Hearth:

As a freelance writer there are two key elements of success. One of those is your freelance writing skill. The other is letting people know you are there, through promotion.
Check out the full article for my thoughts on writer promotion. What's your best promotional method? I'm finding the social networking sites are really bringing people to my sites - and because they're finding it through tags, they're already interested in the content.

Check out my other posts on promotion.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

How To Cope With Writing Burnout

It happens to all of us at some point. It may be after you have completed 200 keyword rich articles on garbage bins or after you have done the umpteenth rewrite of an article on a subject you find really dull. Even if you're one of the lucky ones, and you enjoy what you write most of the time, at some point you face a moment when you just don't want to write. For a day, a week, a month or even longer, the profession that you rushed to embrace suddenly seems charmless. You feel tired, drained and mentally depleted, but you've still got to make a living. What do you do to recharge your batteries and get interested again?

Some of the things I have tried include knowing when to give up on writing and walking away from the computer. Instead of writing I can read a book, go for a walk, head to the beach, play with my daughter or have a nap. These are all things that are guaranteed to get my mind off the job for a while at least.

But what if the problem lasts longer than a few hours or a day? Sometimes I can feel the mental fatigue coming and I can plan my work schedule to allow some down time. That's the best option. At other times, deadlines loom and I have to write through the pain, vowing never to do this kind of job again. Of course, I will - there are times when any writing job is better than no writing job, particularly if you have bills to pay.

All of the best advice on burnout centres on recognising the signs - stress, tiredness, etc - and on changing the circumstances quickly, by taking a break somehow. What do you do when you face burnout?

Here are some other articles on burnout that you might find interesting:

Friday, May 4, 2007

You Want More, You Got More

In fact, even if you don't want more, you've still got it. I'm talking about freelance writing articles. Mine. On Garden and Hearth. I am thrilled to announce that my new freelance writing site is open for business, with several articles for you to look through.

I never seem to get tired of talking and writing about writing, and I'll be adding at least one article a month to the list, so make sure to check back. Over the next few days, I'll talk a bit more about some of the articles, but for now have a browse around the site and come and talk to me on the freelance writing forum that goes with it.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Freelance Jobs On IA

I've decided to set up a thread on the freelance writing forum I manage for Inspired Author to post my overflow work when it is available. The thread is called freelance writing jobs, predictably. There's one gig there at the moment which is great for those seeking experience or those who can write really fast. However, I've got lots of bids out and will be posting more opportunities as they are available.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Three Articles For Freelancers

I've been harnessing the power of RSS to subscribe to more blogs about writing recently. The trouble is that every time I check out the blogroll on a writing site, I find more stuff to subscribe to.

In my trawl through the writing sites today, I have found three articles worth paying attention to.

First, Angela Booth writes about the cumulative effect of writing for self promotion, making the point that you need to think long term when it comes to promotion. I agree with that, having recently seen one of my old articles find new life.

Second, the EzineArticles article writing blog has a good article template to give you inspiration when you're looking for something to write. Browse around that blog; there are other gems to be found.

Third, thanks to Anne Wayman, I have found this great article on contracts for freelance writers. This is a great article if you're new to freelancing, and even those of us who aren't could use it as a reminder. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Time To Fire The Client?

Here's the situation. Last year I found a client who wanted me to write keyword rich articles for him. They weren't too arduous, just a couple of keywords a few times each - and the pay was relatively good. He paid two weeks after invoicing and kept to that schedule.

Then came Christmas, and things changed. I did several jobs just before Christmas, so in January I still had three invoices outstanding with that client. All of a sudden I wasn't getting prompt responses to emails. I chased for two of the invoices and got various runaround stories (no-one's in to sign the check, we have paid it into your account [they hadn't] and so on).

So I got tough and when they asked me to do some more work, I said they needed to pay two of the three outstanding invoices first. They did, then they paid the third one and then they asked me to do more work. I did, because they had paid. But then I waited nearly eight weeks for them to pay me. I chased them several times.

In that time they asked me to do more work. I replied that I would only consider it after I had been paid, which they finally did last Friday. Now they have asked me to do more work. But I'm worried. How long will I have to wait for this payment? Can I really afford to spend the time to do the work and not get paid? I don't think so. At the same time I wonder whether I am jeopardizing a relationship with a client who was good, and might be again. My gut feeling tells me it's time to fire this client and find someone new to replace that income. What do you think?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Ghostwriter For Hire

I've been a big fan of Squidoo for some time, and have three lenses there, including on on site promotion. So it's no surprise when I find quality content that is just waiting to be discovered.

Today's discovery is a lens on ghostwriting. How To Hire A Ghostwriter is aimed at those who are intending to hire ghostwriters and answers some common questions in a clear and simple way. If you're starting out as a ghostwriter, it's a good way to find out what clients might be looking for and what you can charge, though there are other resources that do that too.

I've written a bit on ghostwriting myself, but I found this a really useful lens. Way to go, stevemcc.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Writing For Free Pays Off Again

Like any other freelance writer, I want to get paid fairly for my work. However, there are times when writing for free can be worth it. You get promotion and publicity and it raises your profile.

Here's another case in point. Nearly two years ago I wrote It's Your House, Don't Give It Away, an article on severance of tenancy (UK legal term for putting your house in joint names), for a friend who was running a legal services website. Since the object was to drive traffic to his site, I put it up on EzineArticles.

Now the friend has returned the favour, submitting my article to a UK legal services firm as part of the flagship content for their new blog. Although the blog is new, this firm is one of the fastest growing legal services firms in the UK, so it won't do me any harm to have my article there, with a link to my site and EzineArticles profile. I may not have been paid in money, but I have been amply repaid in promotion.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

WLN May 2007 Preview

This is cross posted from my Writing Lab. The next edition of Writing Lab News is out in a few days. Here's what I've got planned:

-- How To Promote Your Way To The Top Of Google
-- A guest article on freelance writing success
-- Diary Of A Working Writer
-- Five Essential Reference Tools For Writers
-- An insight into a writing market
-- I Must Be Doing Something Right

and more.

Last month's issue can be found here.

If you want to make sure you get it as soon as it comes out, there's a subscription box next to this post (in the middle of the right column). So go on - subscribe. Lots of good content about writing and I'll only mail you once a month. You have nothing to lose so sign up now.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Professional Pay Please

When it comes to freelance writing, I have never been too proud to write for peanuts or even for free, but it's time for that to stop. Writing for free has helped me to promote myself as a writer. The articles I have written are still driving traffic to my website. I have also used them to land writing gigs. Writing for peanuts has helped me to pay the bills (when I write very fast) but it is not a good long term career strategy. Not only will I lose interest in writing, but I am likely to burn out quickly. So I need to earn more money from writing.

And why not? After all, I have 20 years' experience of writing for newspapers and magazines. I have been writing good web content of all kinds for the last two years. Sometimes it seems that I have written about every topic under the sun. Although I haven't really, my expertise includes writing on writing, online business, consumer finance, parenting, blogging, promotion and much more. So I think it's fair to say that I have something to offer to my writing clients. In addition, I write quickly, my work is virtually error free and I'm great at following a brief.

That's why I think I should earn more than one cent a word for my writing. I had an experience this week where someone outsourced a project I had given them to writers who were being paid half a cent a word (!). While I'm surprised the writers took it, I am not surprised that the quality of the work was poor.

To be honest, even on one cent a word jobs, I like to maintain my standards, but I won't give the job as much care as if you pay me a living wage. That's why I've decided to actively seek better paying work, where I get a professional rate of pay for a professional job.

And clients like the work they get as a result. One of my recent clients said he had rarely worked with a writer who got his brief so well. He also signed his email with kisses, because he was so happy. And that's the difference you get when you pay the right rate for the job. Am I the only freelance writer who feels this way?

Want A Free Database?

How would you like to get hold of a free online database? Well, it's easy to do with this new offer. You can try the new online database tool, QuickBase from Intuit. It's free for one month and you don't even need a credit card.

Intuit makes QuickBooks and is now getting into web apps - that's why we now have QuickBase. Not only is it a database, but it is also a customer relationship management and project management tool.

I think this will be especially useful for those who want these features without paying for a huge IT department, so small business owners might be especially interested. Once the trial is over, MavenMapper says that $249 a month will buy a ten person subscription, which is cheaper than some of the competition.

All support is handled by Intuit. When you sign up, a sales rep gets in touch and offers tutorial videos and other help so you can get to grips with the application and give it a real trial. That doesn't cost you a dime, so QuickBase has to be worth a look.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Serving Two Writing Masters

It's never easy to serve two masters, but when you are writing for search engine spiders and for human readers you are doing just that. As a ghostwriter I write a lot of content that is designed for the search engines. That means that my clients have rules about keyword density (the number of times each keyword is used) and about whether keywords have to be used exactly as written, including spelling mistakes.

The main goal when writing for search engines is to have keywords corresponding to the most searched for terms so that when people search for those terms again they find your site. And it probably works, though search engines are constantly updating their search algorithms so they can't be fooled. That's why the emphasis has changed from metatags to keywords to whatever the latest info is (I'll leave that for another time).

However, there is a problem. Content that is written primarily for search engines may seem turgid and boring to a human reader. After all, web content is about addressing the reader directly in a sort of conversational style, If you were talking about plastic containers, you would only mention it once or twice as you would both know what you were talking about - 15 times would make for a dull conversation.

Some writing clients have caught on to this and allow white noise around the keywords. This is words like 'the' and 'a' and prepositions which help to make the articles better for human readers while still keeping the keywords intact for search engine spiders. In addition, they realise that using the keywords only a few times can be just as effective as using them 15 times, provided they are placed correctly. Search engines want to see relevance. That means that whatever the article title is, you should have the keywords in the first couple of sentences. And if you also have them in the last couple of sentences, that will indicate that there's relevant content throughout the article. Of course, there's more to it than that. You need to think about your subheadings and the content that follows them too.

As a ghostwriter, it can be difficult to write for two audiences, but that's just what we often have to do with web content. Where possible, I try to write something that I would be happy to read, but there are times when you have to bite the bullet and do exactly what the client wants, even if it goes against the grain. The thing that bothers me most is spelling mistakes, so I always check whether the client really means to include them, pointing out that human readers will think less of the content if they are left in - it sometimes works. How do you handle writing for two audiences?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Art Of The Follow Up

It never hurts to send another email. Sometimes it feels like you don't have time but failure to follow up means that you could miss out on a contact you need.

Take this example. Last week I sent some info out to a writer who wanted to work with me. She seemed keen, so I was suprised that I hadn't heard from her. Today I was at a loose end and sent an email to see if she was still interested. Turns out she was and had emailed me, but the email never arrived.

Following up has meant that I get the chance to build a working relationship with a great new writer. It does make me wonder, though, whether some of the other people I thought were blanking me were actually waiting for a response from me. Time to do some more following up. :)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Writer Promotion Is Important

If you are going to get paid to write, then you need to make sure that prospective clients can find you. That means promotion, but it doesn't have to cost you much. I've outlined some of the ways I promoted myself for free in How To Promote Your Way To The Top Of Google. Let me know if you have any tips to add.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Freelance Writing For Professionals

One way to make sure you are taken seriously as a freelance writer is to be professional. This can mean many things, but for me it's about how I do business to make sure that the client gets what they want and I do too. The client wants work that is produced on time and to spec. I want to get paid to write and get repeat business or referrals. There are four things I do as a professional freelancer:

I don't say yes to a job unless I'm pretty sure I can deliver. Failing to deliver makes me look bad with the client. It also puts me under stress so I have learned how to say no.

However, sometimes there are circumstances beyond your control. If I think the deadline is in jeopardy I give the client plenty of notice and options for retrieving the situation. The rule here is to ask for what you need and make it realistic - there's no point in asking for an extension twice. I give the client a reason why I can't deliver on time and I say how much I can deliver by the due date. I also let the client know that I am working hard to get everything done.

I ask questions up front rather than waste my time and theirs by doing something wrong. Having to do a job twice is bad for cash flow, so I always get as much information as I can before starting the job. I usually explain to the client that he will get a better service if I do this - then it's no problem.

I don't work for people who repeatedly fail to pay within the required time scale. As a friend said to me recently, you have to know when it's time to fire the client. One of my clients approached me recently to do more work. I still have one unpaid invoice with that client and have had to chase him five times for payment. I said to him that I would not feel comfortable doing more work until that invoice was paid and that I would not feel comfortable doing another job until THAT invoice was paid. Time is money - you don't pay me and I don't have time to write for you.

Using this approach means that my clients know they can count on me - and that counts for a lot on the occasions when I need some leeway. It also means that I don't have many non-paying clients (I've had a few - what freelancer hasn't?)

What other advice would you give on being a professional freelance writer? Feel free to drop a link to something you have written on this issue in the comments thread.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Ghostwriting Ethics

Here's another find from Mom and More, a discussion of ethics and ghostwriting. Here are my responses to the questions:

1. Would you completely write a book, play, or other creative work and allow someone else to have the credit?

This is a tough one. As a ghostwriter, I might be asked to do this and I suppose it's part of my job, so if I agreed to do it I would. However, if I could write a successful fiction piece I would be tempted to write it myself and take the credit.

2. Would you write a blog and allow someone else to claim it as their own?

Yes, I do that all the time. I ghost blog for several people and that's part of what pays my bills. However, I have several blogs under my own name (or recognisable pseudonyms) so I don't feel cheated. I think sometimes people need help with writing and that's what they get from me.

3. Would you use a pen name or pseudonym?

Yes, I would, but I haven't chosen one yet. I do have a couple of internet identities, though.

4. Would you write a nonfiction piece and allow someone (or something as in the case of a company) to have the credit?

That's another ghostwriting one. It's my job, so that's what I do. If I could give the same dedication to my own writing, I would already have finished a couple of novels.

5. Would you write someone’s term paper for them?

Absolutely not! As a former lecturer this makes my blood boil and I won't be a party to anything that smacks of plagiarism.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bloggerwave Pays You To Blog

I'm always on the lookout for new ways that you can get paid to blog and I've now found another one. It's called Bloggerwave and it works similarly to other paid to blog sites. You sign up, you get your blogs approved (lightning quick when I did it) and then you take up one of the opportunities. I signed up yesterday and have already written two posts for them.

At the moment, there are only a few opportunities but I am sure that will change. In the meantime, the system seems to work well. The site loads quickly, too, which is a plus for those of us with temperamental internet connections. So far, I like Bloggerwave, so I'm hoping for good things.


My Writing Team

As you know I started a new venture in January, leading a small writing team. Boy, has that been a learning experience. And it still is. Here are some of the ups and downs of the past three months.

There was a lot of initial interest in the writing team. One person asked to work with me, took a job and then backed out at the last minute, leaving me to rely on the kindness of friends and some hard work to get the job finished on time. This was a big deal for me because I NEVER miss deadlines, though I do sometimes renegotiate.

A few more people were put off by the amount of writing that they had to do. I can understand this, because when I started I was appalled at the rates I had to write for and the money I was making, but I soon decided that if that was the market, then that was what I had to do to start with. And it's been worth it, because I have improved my skills and knowledge and have now started to earn more money for some projects.

Then there were the people who waited until a job was due to tell me that they couldn't complete it. To say I was incensed would be to put it mildly, so I waited till I had calmed down before pointing out that a last minute approach didn't leave me enough time to find an alternative - a couple of days would have been better. And I've also had dealings with people who want to do the job part time or less, which is fine, as long as they don't promise what they can't deliver.

Working with a team means that I spend a lot more of my time checking work than I had expected and it has also affected my cash flow. I try to pay people within a week of invoicing - and sometimes have managed within a day - but if people don't pay me on time, this can stretch me a bit. However, as a freelancer, I am only too aware that people have bills to pay, and I don't want to make writers wait for money when they have delivered the work.

On the plus side, I am developing relationships with some very good writers, who have put themselves out to meet deadlines, even when the money didn't seem great. They know who they are, and I am very, very happy to be working with them. I've also hooked up with a couple of new writers in the last couple of weeks who look very promising.

I've discovered a lot about the inner workings of Paypal including how to pay people when there's no cash in my account. I've made a bit of extra money, though not quite as much as you might think. In fact, there were some jobs on which I made 25 cents for spending 20 minutes checking, giving feedback and rechecking.

Overall, I'm not complaining. Although there have been some difficult moments, I can see that this will be a good experience, so I'm looking forward to what I learn over the next few months.

And here's a final question - as writers, what would you want from the people who supply you work. I think I have an idea, but it would be better to know for sure.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Finding Balance In Writing

Domestika has set me on the track of this meme about balance in the writing life, forcing me to face some uncomfortable truths about my life as a freelance writer. Of course, I aim for balance. I even have a written plan for the amount of time I will spend writing, with family and on myself. The trouble is that it all goes out the window when I have a deadline. Instead of finding balance, I end up sitting in my chair, typing my fingers off and watching my butt grow larger by the second. But for what it's worth, here's my plan for achieving balance in the writing life:

1. Family time – I try to go with my husband to collect my daughter from school each day. It gives us time to catch up on our day and then to get the latest news from school. I also try to make time a couple times a week to spend the entire afternoon with my daughter, playing, reading, watching television and generally having fun.

2. Exercise – I have lots of exercise machines, which I am trying to use. I go to a weekly salsa class and I try to hit the pool five times a week and the beach a couple of times a week. We also try to walk round the block a couple of times a week, which is more family time.

3. Social time – this is less frequent, but it involves spending time (non child related) with my husband, and also with friends (sometimes child related)

4. Me time – this is the bit that tends to suffer, but occasionally I splash out on a pedicure or spend half an hour reading something that has nothing to do with work or childrearing.

I don't think I've achieved balance yet, but I'm much nearer to it than I was when I worked as a lecturer, with long work days and nights.

Now, who shall I tag? How about Dana Prince, Katherine Huether, Productive Pen, gracepub and suejeff

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Making Sense Of Writing It Down

As a freelance writer, you may well end up having to interview sources and you will need a way of keeping track of the information. I always travel with a recording device, spare batteries, a power cable and a notebook. I'm not talking about a laptop, but an old fashioned notebook with lines in it that you write in with a pen.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First of all the technology might fail, so having notes is a good backup and one I have had to use more than once when my editor was breathing down my neck for a story that had been chewed up by the Dictaphone or simply not recorded.

The second is that writing things down helps to fix them in your memory. As a journalist I would sit on the train on the way back from an interview and start to sketch out my story with the aid of my notes. Very often, I would not need to listen to the tape much, except to check that my quotes were right.

Now, the thing about interviews is that they are not tidy. Yes, you may have a neat list of questions but an interview is a conversation, which mean you may start out one place and end up another. This can get very confusing when you are taking notes, as you may find that you are putting pieces in all over the place, or correcting or clarifying previous information.

However, there is a simple technique that can help you to make sense of the chaos, and it's this. Write on every other line. In other words, leave a blank line between each line of notes. When something comes up that's related to an earlier note, you have space to write it. If something needs to be clarified, you have space to write it. And when you're done you'll still be able to read all your notes. Try it; I promise it works – even for my terrible writing.

Recommended reads:
Talking The Talk: Secrets Of Interviewing Success

Taking The Free Out Of Freelance

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Is Freelance Writing The Best Job In The World?

To some of us, freelance writing may be the best job in the world, but a Money Magazine/Salary.com survey puts 24 other jobs ahead of it.

The job of writer gets an A for creativity, Bs for flexibility and difficulty and C for stress. There's expected to be a 17 per cent growth in the number of jobs for writers in the ten year period up to 2014.

The bit that interested me most was the salary forecasts. I don't know about you, but I'm aiming to be in the top 25 per cent. In fact, I'd like to be in the '5% make more' category - gives me something to aim for.

Here are the figures:

Average pay: $60,519

75% of writers make more than: $50,302
50% of writers make more than: $56,598
25% of writers make more than: $64,762
Top potential compensation (5% make more): $120,823

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Best Freelancing Article I've Read This Year ...

... and I didn't write it - darn! While I was surfing yesterday I came across a reference to this post. A Comprehensive guide to starting your freelance career. This is a great post, with advice on everything from bidding, to quoting, to warning signals about clients. In fact, it's a good guide to everything about freelancing. If you are freelancing - read it! Nuff said.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Writer Promotion Works

I'm not really into trumpet blowing, but I had to let you know that all the promotion works. If you read this blog regularly, you will know that I have spent the last year and a bit promoting myself as a writer. Check out my freelance writing index to see exactly what I have done.

Anyway, every so often I do a search on Google to test how my efforts are going. Check out the screen shot to see what I found.

Not bad after a year! Of course, there's still work to do. I need to make sure people find me for the other keywords I use as well. Watch this space - and keep promoting. It really works!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Why I Love My Writing Newsletter

A year ago I started a newsletter (called Writing Lab News) to bring some traffic to my site. At least, that was the idea. When I started I had a handful of subscribers and I knew most of those personally.

A year later, I have dozens of subscribers, so much so that I am changing to a new ezine provider and have put a new signup form on the front page of my blog.

I've really enjoyed doing the newsletter. I've been able to republish some useful articles and showcase articles and blog posts from other writers, many of them from right here on WritingUp. And the traffic building has become less important. I enjoy creating something useful. It has also become a way to connect with other writers and for them to find me. That means it works as a social, promotional and networking tool.

Here's an index of my newsletter over the past year:

Are You A Writer? - December 2006
Beef Up Your Blogfolio - March 2007
Best Ways to Generate New Article Ideas and Topics - August 2006
Blog Your Way To Working At Home - February 2007
Copyright Law: A Quick Guide For Freelance Writers - June 2006
Diary Of A Working Writer - Monthly
Ebook On Legal Services - July 2006
Feature Writing For Freelance Writers - March 2007
Five Ways to Become Published - January 2007
Free Resources For Writers - March 2007
Free Resources For Writers - May 2006
Free Resources For Writers: June 2006
Freelance Writers - Four Reasons To Get On The Net - May 2006
Ghostwriting Guide For Freelance Writers - February 2007
Great Gadgets For Freelance Writers - December 2006
Guru and Elance: Are They Worth It For Writers? - June 2006
How I Get Paid To Blog - May 2006
How I Put My Site On Steroids - Update - December 2006
How To Get Fair Pay For Freelance Writing - October 2006
How To Get Web Hits And Keep Them - February 2007
How to Grow Your Own Furniture - October 2006
How To Manage Writing Time - November 2006
How To Promote With Article Marketing - September 2006
How To Set Up A Writer's Home Office - November 2006
How To Write Copy That Pays The Bills - April 2006
How To Write Money-Making Copy - July 2006
Making It As A Freelance: The Art of the Interview - July 2006
Paid Blog Posts - And Not With Blogitive - September 2006
Press Here To Make The News - August 2006
Quality Pays Off In Freelance Writing - January 2007
Remind Me Why I’m Still Awake At 2 a.m.? - September 2006
Resources For Writers - April 2006
SEO Tricks - August 2006
So You Want To Be A Freelance Writer? - April 2006
Standard Rates for Freelance Writers - November 2006
The Revamping of My Freelance Writing Career - October 2006
What I Learned From Writing Reviews - February 2007
Writer promotion course - May 2006
Writing Articles for Newspapers - January 2007

Back issues can be seen at SharonHurleyHall.com, with the last few available as PDFs.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Why I Blog

I've been tagged by danahinders to give five reasons why I blog, so here goes:

Reasons For Blogging

  1. I started blogging because I heard it was a good way to bring traffic to your site. That worked well, though it took longer than I thought.
  2. Then I found WritingUp and fell in love with the community aspect of blogging. At that point I no longer cared about traffic, I was just having fun.
  3. I also blog because it's like an online portfolio, which I have used to show my writing ability to various people.
  4. Blogging is a good way of fostering creativity - and of taking a break when I'm mentally exhausted
  5. I blog because I get to write in my own voice - which is nice for a change after a day of ghostwriting.

Whose turn next? How about Inklings, kohuether and merryone?

Monday, February 5, 2007

At The Mercy Of My ISP

While I'm writing this, my internet connection is down - AGAIN! As a freelance writer, I depend on having a reliable internet connection. Most of my work is for websites, so I have to visit clients' websites to see what content exists, and to get a lead on the tone they might expect. This is usually a useful supplement to a client's brief, which is not always as detailed as I might like. In addition, it helps me to see the context in which people will see my writing. The internet is where I do a lot of my research. Not all of it, because then I might be regurgitating the same content as everyone else, but it's certainly where I look up information about subjects I know very little about so I can write a competent article.

I have to visit websites to bid on jobs. IFreelance is my favourite, but I also look at work on Guru (though I rarely bid) and on Deborah Ng's excellent site. Usually, this involves looking at the profiles of project providers, checking out the details of jobs and perhaps doing a quick search to see whether the person who is posting has been mentioned in connection with any scams.

I also like to keep in touch with what's going on in the freelance world. That means visiting other freelancers' sites and blogs to see what they are talking about, and perhaps to participate in the conversation. There are two reasons to do this. The first is to get me out of my work at home bubble; the second is to promote myself by creating links with other relevant freelance professionals.

My email is online, because I couldn't cope with the spam any longer. Even Thunderbird wasn't catching it all, so I moved to Gmail for domains and have not regretted it. (Note to self: the next time you think you should download an email straight away, just DO it!).

Many of my friends are online. Some of them are right here on WritingUp; others are in the many places where I have created profiles. It's nice to have a chat with them from time to time. Usually, this helps me to relax, but I may also learn something useful. Chat with people like gracepub often enough and you are bound to learn something you didn't know that you can put to practical use.

So when my ISP is down, it is a major pain in the behind. It has been down a lot recently. Last week, the ISP that my ISP uses went down for 12 hours; another day it was for four hours. Today, my ISP's DNS thingummy is down. Almost every day, I have to reboot a couple of times, because of some weird thing they have in the system. (Correct me if I'm wrong, but you shouldn't have to restart an 'always on' connection every 12 hours.) Normally, when it's just the ADSL that goes down, I can connect with dialup, but not if it's a DNS problem. Ho hum!

Today was supposed to be a relatively light day. I have a few consumer finance articles to do, a couple of home articles, a business article to start and then a rewrite project for a client and friend. I also have to do an assignment for an online course I'm doing. However, this glitch means that while today will be even lighter than I thought it would be, tomorrow will be difficult, because I will have to add most of today's work to tomorrow's.

In the meantime, every cloud has a silver lining. While I'm waiting for the internet to make a miraculous reappearance so I can post this, I'm going to take some time off, go to lunch with my hubby and enjoy the sunshine.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

How Writing Reviews Helped Me

One of the things I did when I started my freelance writing career was to write reviews for consumer sites. I learned a lot from that experience, and I've collected in all in an article entitled What I Learned From Writing Reviews. Here's an excerpt:

On the paid to review sites, what people want most of all is your opinion on a product or service. They want to know how you used it, what worked, what didn’t work and how you felt about it. They also want to know what you get.

What I learned from that experience gave me the blueprint for much of the web content writing I do today.

Read What I Learned From Writing Reviews and see if you agree with me.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Freelance Writing: 2007 Career Goals

Whether you're freelance writing or in any other career, it's important to have goals. They keep you focused and, in the tough times, remind you why you're churning out articles at 1 cent a word. I have a lot of goals for my career - and not all of them involve writing. In talking to a friend recently (more on that another time), I realised one important thing: I was working hard so I didn't have to work so hard."

Setting Career Goals

What I mean by that is that my short term career goal is to make enough money to pay my bills. That's also my medium term goal, with the addition of enough money for holidays and other small extravagances. I also want to improve the pay rate, so I get more money for less writing (who wouldn't?) But the reason I am doing this - and the reason I work at home - is to be able to spend more time with my family and to have a better quality of life. Those are things that I think most people want. (And don't think life is perfect, because there are some family members I can DEFINITELY do without!)

So this was what I had in mind when setting my goals for 2007. My perfect day would involve about four hours of writing for others, about two hours of teaching and about one hour of dealing with the other writers I work with. I would do this Monday to Friday and on weekends I would spend a couple hours a day working on my own stuff. I would be able to spend every evening playing with my daughter, and I wouldn't get stressed.

Living The Perfect Writing Day

Someone suggested that I try living (and writing) that way now instead of thinking about all the things that get in the way. So I tried it yesterday - and guess what? Yesterday I did as much writing in four and a half hours as I had done the previous day. I spent two hours on a new course, spent an hour on some admin - and took the rest of the day off to spend with my daughter. And I didn't get stressed even once. I'm going to try this for a couple of weeks and see if it works. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, I'm curious - how do you plan to change your writing life this year?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Freelance Writing Motivation

It's hard to maintain your motivation with freelance writing sometimes. Take today. I am nearing the end of a long assignment for a discerning client (no, you did not hear me say picky). The articles are on mortgages and there are more than 140 of them. I have 26 more to write. But those 26 are the ones with the difficult keyword phrases, which must be used exactly as written. (Ever try to make a sentence with six nouns and no verb?)

Freelance Writing Originality

Freelance writing assignments often ask you to be original. This person wants original content, but there is only so much to say about this subject - and I have already said it 120 times in different ways. I'm quite proud of myself - but I am also discouraged by the thought of the last few articles. Every original thought on this subject has already left my brain and been put on paper. The last 26 will be more difficult than the other 120.

Freelance Writing Discipline

This is when you really need discipline as a freelance writer. I have to force myself to write through the inertia. I need to go back to the sources I have used before (press releases, websites and occasionally my ex-IFA husband) and mine them for new information. But most of all, I have to write - even if I don't feel like it. I may be living my dream, but it's not always easy.

Read Of The Day: The One Minute Writing Lesson

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Freelance Writing And Promotion - My Master List

Trick Falls asked for a list of blogs, lenses and websites. I do a lot of promotion, so it took me a while to collate this. In fact, I'm still not sure that I've got everything. There are many article directories that I submitted only a few articles to and many social bookmarking sites that have fallen by the wayside. Anyway, here's the list so far.



Sporadic/inactive blogs





Other stuff

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Freelance Writing Friends - A Big Thank You

What do you do as a freelance writer when you are in danger of missing a deadline? I have to say that I don't usually miss deadlines - it's bad for business. But this week, I was let down on a job, which left me with too much work to do to meet one of my writing deadlines. I could have pouted and cried (and maybe I did inside) but that wasn't going to help me meet the deadline. So instead of wallowing in my distress I asked for help. And I got it. That's why I'd like to thank marleymauve and kohuether, who helped me out of a really tight spot - and burned the midnight oil to do it.

And this is part of the power of WritingUp. Those of us who have been here for a while (and maybe those who are new) have found a supportive community. I have met other people who are doing the same thing I am doing - building a freelance writing career. WritingUp is a great place to talk about things that matter to you with other people who also care about those things. And it's a great place to make friends and meet people who offer help and mean it.

One To Read: How Blogging Helps Writers

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Help, I Need A Writer

Freelance Writing Is Funny

Freelance writing is a funny business. What a difference a year makes. At the start of last year I had been freelancing for only a few months and had yet to make any decent money (or any money from writing). I was about a month into blogging and my writing site was just starting to get some traffic.

Searching For My Writing Site

Fast forward to this year and things have changed a lot. The best news of all is that people are now using searches like 'freelance writing', 'ghost writing' and 'freelance editor' to find my site, so all that promotion has paid off. The number of unique visitors to my site has more than doubled. The number of page views has more than trebled. That means that there are more people coming to the site and they are looking at more stuff. That is good news. Traffic to my WritingLab blog is good and my newsletter has a healthy number of subscribers.

So You Wanna Do Some Freelance Writing?

I also have more freelance writing work than I can handle. I am having to turn down work and it's killing me. So I had a thought - what if I don't turn down work and pass it on to someone else instead? The person - or people - would need to have a great command of UK and US English. The topics I am asked to write about are quite varied, but I have a lot of people asking for people who can write on loans, insurance, mortgages and credit cards. There are other subjects as well, so if you're an expert in something let me know.

Get Paid To Write

The pay is middling. Typical articles are around 500 words and the average pay is around $5-$7. Not the best, but not the worst. However, I have also had ebooks that paid more than 4 pounds sterling for a 300 word page. It evens out in the end. I should know. One month I made nearly $4,000 from writing and blogging. Of course, I didn't see my family for a month, but that's another story.

Anyone who's interested has to be good with deadlines. If you're interesting in giving it a try, contact me through my blog (http://doublehdesign.com/blog/contact/) or website (contact page on the main doublehdesign.com site). I'll send you some more information and we can sort out an assignment for you to start on. Happy New Year!