New School Year, New Start

Photo on Flickr by Avalore

The summer holidays are over almost as soon as they began (or so it seems). Cakes have been made and eaten (several times), castles have been explored and cheap places of interest have been visited and now it’s  time to send the children back to school.

It’s almost like a second new year. The children look smart in their new school uniforms, the school run traffic is back blocking the roads and the weather cheers up again again after a rainy August (at least here in the UK).

Find Out About Freelancing

A year ago I started reading all about freelance writing jobs on the Internet.  I had a health problem which meant that I could no longer continue teaching and I wanted to find a job that would suit me. I have always loved writing and find it flows easily when I am working. I am very comfortable with spelling and grammar and it seemed that this might be something that I might want to do.

I read as much as I could. I found Anne Wayman’s blog and Jenn Mattern’s blog invaluable, but there was lots of other information out there. I was wary of sites which seemed only designed to sell you something, but I devoured all the information I could.

Find Some Clients

I found my first clients myself by emailing some local web designers. I wrote some spec articles for them, had them accepted and they now use me regularly. I got a job from Elance and am also working with another local entrepreneur. All of these jobs I have got through having the courage to put myself forward, but I was also able to look honestly at myself and my own skills and weaknesses.

Now it is September again and I am looking forward to hitting the ground running. I will be continuing to contact new people to find out what I can do for them and I hope that my business will enter a new phase as I continue to grow in experience and ability.

Take the First Step

What does this have to do with you? If you are confident in your writing ability and find that putting the written word down on paper comes easily to you, then you too could consider writing for the Internet. Read through all the information you can find, book mark the interesting sites and learn all that you can. The information is out there and you can use it to form your own freelance writing career.

Make a plan. Have an idea of the goals that you want to achieve and put a time span on it. Write your goals down. Aim high.

Take the first step today. Who knows where it might lead.

Photo Link: Back to School

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How to Hire a Freelance Writer

Photo on Flickr by Vitualis

You’ve got some writing jobs. They’ve been hanging round for a while  because you haven’t got round to them. Everytime you think about doing the jobs, you stare a blank piece of paper for a while then put it away and go and do something more productive. You need to hire a writer.

Where to begin? Writers are easy to find. Go on Elance or Guru and you will find a whole pile of writers ready and raring to go. How do you know which one to hire?

Perhaps you explore some blogs and find some people blogging about writing. You like their writing style and think it would be a good fit for your company. How do you approach them about writing for you? Some will make it easy for you to approach them, but others may not be so obvious. How do you know how much to offer to pay?

The first thing to do is decide your budget and plan out the job. It is best to know exactly what you want your freelance writer to do. Have an idea of how long the job will last too. Then decide on a rough idea of budget.

There are many different kinds of writers out there at varying levels and also from different countries. Consider what kind of English you will want your work written in. American English differs from UK English and Australian English. It depends on the audience you are trying to reach. Some writers will have English as a second language. Their writing may be better than that of native English speakers!

Decide how much the job is worth to you. Some company owners go for the cheapest option they can, but it is worth bearing in mind that you get what you pay for. If you offer a good wage then you can expect work to a certain standard.

Bidding Websites

Sites such as Elance and Guru are easy to set up and use. You will find varying standards of writing there and there are people always willing to offer under the odds, but ask yourself whether the hassle of dealing with rewrite after rewrite as the work is below standard is worth it. Some jobs attract a high number of bids. Discount the lowest. Check out the middle and higher ranges. Read their submissions carefully and check out their profiles. Does their writing flow easily and are they selling themselves well? If they can sell themselves then they can sell your product.

Awarding the job within Elance or Guru sets you up automatically with a contract and an Escrow account that protects both employer and freelance if you choose to use it. The money is only released when you are happy with what you have purchased.

What if you want to approach a writer direct?

Approaching a writer direct can be as simple as finding the contact form on the website. In some ways it is a much better way than using a bidding site

as you can set up a dialogue with the writer and see if you will get along. It is easier to work with someone who you feel comfortable dealing with. Ask about their rates and tell them as much about the project as you can to enable them to set a fair price. You are both free to negotiate if necessary.

Finding a freelance writer can seem daunting, but taking the time to find the right person can pay dividends. You might be at the start of a long working partnership which may prove to be beneficial to both.

And, yes, I am available to hire!!

Photo Link: Handshake

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Why Hire a Writer?

Picture on Flickr by blupics

Writing comes easily to me and I enjoy it. I love the challenge of playing with words, getting the quick first draft down and letting my work flow. I enjoy reading through it afterwards, checking my work for errors and to ensure that it reads through easily and with meaning. I enjoy research and using it to write an informed article. Since I  began freelance writing, I have enjoyed ‘going to work’. (OK, OK. That should be switching on a laptop!)

I know that not everyone feels that way. Some people panic at the thought of writing a letter or an important email where they really want to get their point across. It is easy for your piece of writing to be misunderstood and even cause offence.

Bringing Your Business to the World Wide Web

These days, every small business wants to get on the Internet. It gives them a presence where customers can find them (I never use telephone directories now) and helps take their wares out to a wider audience. Often a website is enhanced by a blog.

There’s the problem. How do you find the subjects to blog about if you do not feel confident writing a letter? How do you find the time to blog when you barely have the time to do the other equally important activities your business requires?

Why Blog?

Blogging adds value to your site and gives information to your customers. It adds frequent useful information to your website which will encourage customers to visit your site and Google to lift it in the rankings.  Blogging is most effective when done regularly.

Blog about relevant subjects to your website. Encourage discussion. Visit other blogs and add relevant comments which can link back to your site. Brainstorm a lot of ideas and pick the best ones to use.

Hire a Writer

Hiring a writer to blog can be a cost-effective way of keeping a blog up-to-date. Writers are able to write easily and effectively and can post regular comments to your blog.

Finding the right writer to write for you will help you to create a great blog for your business, which will enhance your website content. A writer will create articles and blog posts which reflect your business. These in turn will help to inform your customers about your services and products.

Creating a Great Website

Using a writer to create content for your website also offers a professional finish. There should be no spelling errors, grammatical errors and the sentences should be constructed correctly. Clients read grammatically correct sentences without even noticing, but misplaced punctuation is soon noticed. Spell checkers do not pick up correctly spelled words in the wrong context, but writers do! (At least this one does!)

Finally, it is important to decide what kind of a price you put on offering a professionally run website. There are many kinds of writers out on the web who offer very cheap services, but they do not offer the professional touch that your business requires. Negotiating the right rate with the writer is very important. Expect to pay a good rate and you will receive an excellent service.

Hire a freelance writer as you would other employees, by contacting them, talking to them and asking to see samples of work. Ensure that they understand what is expected of them, communicating regularly with them and your business will benefit from the results.

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A Quick Style Guide

When you are producing your piece of writing for a client, it is best to be consistent with grammar and spellings, particularly when using headings. Here are some of the most common things to look out for.

Headings

The beginnings of words in a heading should be capitalised unless they are small words such as ‘and’, ‘is’ or ‘of’. It is sometimes helpful to bold the heading to make it stand out from the rest of the text. Make sure that if you decide to do this, that all the headings are capitalised and in bold.

The Main Body of the Text

Start with your opening paragraph which sums up what the article will be about. Keep it short and succinct. It does not need a sub-heading over it – in fact your first sub-heading should be at least one paragraph in.

If you are writing for the web, then keep paragraphs short and to the point. There should be two to three paragraphs underneath each heading and of course they should be relevant!

Consistency, Checking and Counting Words

Photo by Martin Hagberg and used under Creative Commons licence

 

When you are writing your first draft, then just get the ideas down and let them flow. Write until you have finished, Then go back over it and read through. Check for spelling errors (be aware of the differences between American and UK spelling and use one consistently throughout). Also keep an eye out for grammatical problems and check out the word count.

Clients are usually very definite about the amount of words used in a piece of writing, but it is important to write in a focused way on the topic. Beware of fluff or filler. Take out any words that are unnecessary, read your work aloud to check for flow and ensure that your sentences are short and to the point rather than long and wordy. This makes them much easier to read.

End your writing with a strong point or call to action. Revise it again and again until you are happy with it.

Finally when you think your work is done, put it away for at least 24 hours before getting it out and reading it again. The distance is important: it allows you to view your work with fresh eyes and improve it.

Consistency and care is the key to producing strong work which you can be proud of and which is more likely to please your client and bring in more work commissions for you.

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Helpful Blogs

Photo by Matsuyuki

The Internet is a great place to be involved in sometimes, especially for writers. No longer do writers have to sit in a solitary place, banging out another article on their keyboard.

Now we can network, share blogs, contact other writers and share details. We can even write a novel in a month!

Contact with other writers is essential so that we can share success and horror stories and help one another. We are no longer restricted to our own locality, but now the world is in our own backyard.

Here are some of the writing blogs that have inspired me. Go check them out and feel free to add some of your own.

http://www.aboutfreelancewriting.com/ Anne Wayman’s blog which is one of the best ones out there for newbies to read.

http://allfreelancewriting.com/ Jenn Mattern’s blog tells it how it is. She has strong opinions and pulls no punches, but her advice is always sound. Her blog is entertaining and she offers a free e-book – on writing e-books!

http://menwithpens.ca/ Men With Pens show you how it should be done. It’s a great blog with good advice.

http://bloggerillustrated.net/ If you want to understand what SEO, backlinks, and web sites have to do with the writing world, then you could do worse than visit Allyn Hane’s site. He explains it all simply and easily in video.

What websites have you found useful?

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