In the spirit of the New School Year, New Start, I have joined the #Customer Love Campaign which was started by LaVonne Ellis of The Complete Flake.
Basically this campaign is all about showing your customers or even people who just come by your site and read it much love! If you want to know how it all began, then check it out here.
I really like this idea. If it’s something that you would like to join, then go to the challenge page to declare your intentions.
This is a 28 day campaign and at the end of it, I plan to offer a free report probably on grammar and style usage. This is not completely decided, however, so do let me know in the comments if there is something else that you would like information on.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
The answer came back to your carefully crafted email, letter, query etc and it was positive. You have got a writing job!
The natural reaction may to be panic! You’ve achieved the first step on the rung of a very long and high ladder, but now you have to fulfill your promise and do the work.
You are welcome to run round in circles, punching the air or any other kind of victory dance that you may wish to do. When the first excitement has died down, turn your focus onto what it is that you will need to do.
The first thing to do is to make contact with your new client. The contact may be through phone, Skype or email. It is fine to make the first contact – they chose you for the job which means that they must want you to do it.
Try and think of any questions you may have. This first contact is important. You need to know what your client is expecting you to deliver. You need to clarify deadlines. You need to clearly understand what the job will entail. Approach any phone call with a notepad and pen to hand.
Once you have spoken to your client and understood the work, then plan out what you are going to do and when. You may have to do a small sample and send it back to your client to check that he is happy with what you are doing.
Once you get your client’s OK, then you can begin. Do your best work and try to impress them to keep any ratings high and enable you to receive recommendations from them.
You may have to send regular status reports if you got the job through a bidding site, but this is generally just giving the client an idea of where you are up to with the job so that they can be satisfied that you are getting on with your work.
Once you have finished your writing work, give it a final proof-read and polish before sending it in. Make sure that you are finished well before the deadline to allow yourself time to check it thoroughly.
Once you’ve sent your work in, be prepared that there may be small changes that the client wants to make. This is where you may have to be a little assertive.
Some writers will allow small changes or one rewrite, but if a client is getting too fussy then it may be best to negotiate an extra rate. This involves talking to your client and keeping them updated on your progress.
It’s time to invoice your client. Work through a jobs board will have a set up where invoices are generated automatically. If you use a system like Escrow, then the funds have already been made available and the system will release the funds to you once both parties are satisfied with the work.
It is a good idea to set up a Paypal account as this is easiest to administer when dealing with clients through other countries. Many of the jobs boards deal in US dollars when paying contractors.
Finally remember to keep track of your jobs and earnings using a spread sheet for tax purposes.
You’ve checked out the jobs boards, you’ve trolled the best sites and you’ve found a job that you are reasonably confident that you could do. Now what?
Now get up the confidence to apply for it! No job ever applies for itself and if you don’t try then you will never know if you could have got it. Here are a few pointers when applying for a writing job.
Send Your Best Writing
This sounds obvious, but its amazing how many writers don’t think of it: if you are applying for a writing job, then you need to write at your best. This is not a time for spelling mistakes or glaring grammar errors!
If you are applying to a job advert, then read it carefully. Some employers put instructions in the ad to ensure that applicants have read it thoroughly. Follow the instructions: if they ask for a CV then write a CV. If they ask you to call, then call; email then email. If they ask you to put “buckaroo” in bold in the middle of your CV, then do it! (They were probably testing you to see if you read the application thoroughly or not!)
Email as though You Were Writing a Letter
If you are applying through a jobs board, then the first contact is likely to be an email. Although these are usually informal, it will do you no harm to approach this as though it were a formal letter. Begin with ‘Dear’ and the client’s name and end with the appropriate ‘Yours Sincerely’ or ‘Yours Faithfully’. It sets you out as a business-like person. It creates a good impression and sets you out from the rest.
Explain why you are suited to the job and why you should be considered for the role. Keep it brief and relevant – no major life stories here. At the end of the letter, say that you look forward to hearing from them and sign off.
Include Contact Details
Make sure that you include full contact details so that any prospective employer can get in touch with you quickly.
Leave your email for a while before sending it (some people recommend 24 hours – but give it as long as you have got). Read it through again and correct any errors. Reading out loud will help.
Attach your CV if required. Send the email. Jobs boards usually have a closing date, so you could have a week or more to run before notifications are sent out. Keep an eye on the site to see if the job closes early.
If you have written on speck, then you may get a reply quite quickly. It may be “no thanks, I’ll keep you on record”, in which case keep applying to other people.
If you got the job, congratulations.
If there is no answer, don’t wait on it forever – get on with the next application. As previously stated: the more applications you send in, the more likely it is that you will get a ‘yes’.
I’m from the UK. I live in a town in the Midlands. I have started to write for a living. I have been researching about freelance writing on the web for a number of months now. Then I decided that it was time I did something about it.
What Did I Find Out?
I found a lot of great websites out there. Many are helpful. Some just want to sell you something. In there, however there are some gems that will help you learn to take on freelance writing as a job.
Where can I find jobs?
There is the traditional way of writing a letter to an Editor of a publication which is known as a ‘query letter’. You are selling yourself through words – something you need to learn to do when you want to make a living that way.
The law of averages says that if you send out enough of them, then you must get a job eventually. You will also get a lot of rejection letters too. It helps you to develop a thick skin but does not necessarily pay the bills.
You can apply to become a member of a content mill. The name says it all: writers churn out a high volume of articles of mixed quality which are then put up on the web usually alongside lucrative targeted advertising which makes the company that owns them money.
Most offer writers some of the advertising proceeds, some will pay writers a nominal sum, still others pay a little more. The process is not perfect and you are not adequately compensated for your time. They could be considered a way to learn your craft.
There are websites out there that offer jobs and a way to apply for them on email. They offer free memberships which are restricted as to the number of jobs you can apply for, or paid memberships which offer better access to jobs. Taking a free membership is a great way to see what is out there.
If you have a strong sense of what you are good at: if you can write well and are confident in what you can do, then ask around companies by you and see what jobs you might be able to do for them. This is the best way to find a job that will pay the bills, but it can also be the most scary.
If you want to put a query to a magazine, then find out the person you need to write to. You can do this online. You might also like to check if the magazine has any guidelines that need to be adhered to before submitting.
Bear in mind that magazines usually work at least six months ahead, so seasonal material will need to be submitted well in advance of the actual holiday.
Content Mills are places like Demand Studios, Associated Content, Suite101 among others. You need to check up on them, read through what they require before deciding to submit to them.
Jobs Boards include www.Elance.com and www.guru.com
They will give you an idea of the kinds of jobs out there, but don’t bid for peanuts just to land a job. That is not the way to get a career going.
I will cover these subjects in more detail over time.
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://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.
You’ve written a story. It may have flowed easily from your pen, or it may have come in fits and starts. You have got it in front of you: on a laptop, a notebook or a piece of paper. Now what?
Leave it for 24 hours. Or 48, or for a reasonable amount of time. You want to lose the immediacy of having written the story and to have forgotten some of the details. Then read it through again, trying to read it as a reader rather than the author of the piece. You will pick up on annoying phrases, repeated words, spelling mistakes. Ignore them for the moment and read through the story as a whole. Jot down impressions, ideas. Did it all work or was the thinking behind it a little woolly?
Go through the story again and pick out the weak points. Mark them out. Check out discrepancies, spellings, grammar. On a computer this can be easy as most desk top publishing packages will help you pick out any glaring errors. Make sure that you are working in the correct language so that the spellings are correct as English and American spellings can vary.
Your story is as good as you can make it? Now what?
Some people are happy to leave it there and just keep their stories in a file on the computer or in a drawer. Others want to know: is it any good?
The easiest way to know is to ask someone else to read it through. Did I say ‘easy’? Actually that is one of the hardest things to do! We all own our writing and can be very sensitive about it. Choose someone you trust and who knows you well. You may find that they have something that they would like you to read as well. The main thing when critiquing someone else’s work is to be kind and gentle, but fair. It is a difficult thing to learn.
Another way to find out if your writing is any good is to join a local writing class or group. Many local colleges offer creative writing courses these days and it can be a good way to get to know people with similar interests and a way to have your stories read. It can be a real confidence booster when you come up with a story that everyone enjoys.
There are also online groups which allow you to post stories to be critiqued and to give you the opportunity to critique someone else’s story. Be warned, however that the anonymity offered by some of these sites can be seen as an opportunity to be blunt.
It is good to take risks. Sometimes the result is a pleasant surprise. If you want to get serious with your writing, then seeking others’ advice is a good way to take. It can be difficult to get your confidence at first, but can also become addictive.
Try showing someone else your writing today and add in the comments if you were brave enough to do so.