Help for freelancer writers and bloggers: Blogs to check out

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Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Freelancing can be lonely business: sitting at a desk, tapping away at a laptop, contact through email. Thank goodness for the internet which means that the company of other freelancers is only a short search away.

There are some fantastic bloggers out there for the freelance community. There is lots of helpful information on just about any topic you can think of. Many of these bloggers have been freelancing for years and their experience matches just about anyone you can think of. I have found some of these people really helpful through the years. Hopefully you will too.

Make a Living Writing

Carol Tice has been working as a freelance writer since 2011 and what she doesn’t know about the subject isn’t worth knowing. Her writers’ community, the Den opens for new people a couple of times a year and is full of courses known as bootcamps. You also have the chance to meet people who are on the same journey and ask their advice. She has a free e-book available to download in return for subscribing and she often offers free training for different aspects of freelance writing. Based in Seattle, Carol still makes a living writing.

Words on the Page

I have been following Lori Widmer for a very long time, and I love her no-nonsense approach to freelance writing. Lori is someone who tells it like it is and she offers great advice through her blog posts. She has a regular feature that warns the reader away from badly paying jobs and her advice is great for anyone serious about making a living through freelance writing.

Jennifer Goforth Gregory

Jennifer’s blog is a goldmine of information about freelance writing. She has some great gems about running a freelance business, finding clients and managing work. She has written a book which is available to buy and also has a very helpful Facebook group. The blog has been running for a number of years and you will find some wonderful information there.

Elna Cain

Elna Cain appears in most searches for information on freelance writing. She has a variety of blog posts with information about the freelance writing life. Elna offers a free 6 day email course to help you learn to write for a living. She also posts YouTube videos.

Alliventures

Ali Luke was making money from blogging in the early days of blogging. She offers a paid-for course on freelance writing which can be bought through her website.

Sian Meades-Williams

If you want to know how a writer website should look then check out Sian’s. Creator of the amazing newsletter Freelance Writing Jobs, Sian’s expertise is in newsletters and writing and editing. She has a new book due soon, The Pyjama Myth for freelancers. If you drop by her site, definitely subscribe to her jobs newsletter – it’s well worth it.

The Write Life: Freelancing

The Write Life contains articles on a number of freelancing topics. This link leads to the freelancing category. There are articles on a wide range of topics so pick one and enjoy.

About Freelance Writing

Anne Wayman starts again. Anne was one of the first bloggers that I ever followed. Her posts were always full of wonderful advice. In 2019, Anne lost her websites and all the knowledge it contained. Since then she has been writing in Medium, but her website is back. She is beginning again, and although it does not have a lot of information on it yet, it will definitely be one to watch and return to.

The International Freelancer

Natasha Khullar-Relph, formerly known as Mridu Khullar-Relph lives in London and freelances internationally. Her website is full of great resources for freelance writers, including writing Letters of Introduction (LOI) and secrets of six figure freelance writers. Well worth a read.

 

Blogging

Blogging is an art form in itself. Blogs offer information, content, experiences and  opinions and can help to draw an audience in. Here are some websites for bloggers:

Problogger

One of the original blogging websites, Problogger offers a jobs board and blog posts about blogging. You can also find a podcast here. Darren Rowse owns the website which is full of information about how to successfully blog. There are some great courses on blogging to be found here, some of which are free and others which are paid but not so expensive. If you want to learn all about blogging, you could do worse than start here.

Be a freelance blogger

Sophie Lizard shares lots of tips and tricks on being a freelance blogger. Lots of information on finding specific paid gigs in different niches.

The Write Life – blogging

The Write Life has information on all things writing. It also offers a list of resources to check out. If you are looking for information on a particular topic on blogging then do check it out.

Alliventures

Ali Luke has been writing, blogging and freelancing for a very long time. And I have been following her for a very long time. Her blog contains information on blogging, being a writer and being an author. She offers self-study courses and access to regular newsletters. Ali is a UK freelance writer who is always able to offer an interesting take on writing.

These are some of my go-to writers and bloggers when I am looking for information on freelance writing. Check them out and subscribe to their newsletters. Enjoy.

Who do you recommend that other freelance writers follow? Let me know in the comments below.

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What is Plagiarism and How Do You Avoid it?

Definition of ‘Plagarism” from Etymology Online:

plagiarism (n.)

“the purloining or wrongful appropriation of another’s ideas, writing, artistic designs, etc., and giving them forth as one’s own,” 1620s, from -ism + plagiary (n.) “plagiarist, literary thief” (c. 1600), from Latin plagiarius “kidnapper, seducer, plunderer, one who kidnaps the child or slave of another,” used by Martial in the sense of “literary thief,” from plagiare “to kidnap,” plagium “kidnapping,” from plaga “snare, hunting net” (also “open expanse, territory”), which is perhaps from PIE *plag- (on notion of “something extended”), variant form of root *plak- (1) “to be flat.” De Vaan tentatively compares Greek plagia “sides, flanks,” Old High German flah “flat,” Old Saxon flaka “sole of the foot.” (Accessed 19/1/2021)

https://www.etymonline.com/word/plagiarism

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Image by Frank Winkler from Pixabay

Starting an article on plagiarism with a copied definition from another website may be an unusual way to start an article, but there is a reason for it. This quote is within quote marks or inverted commas, it is attributed and referenced correctly. The copying of another’s work or plagiarism seems to be growing more common. It seems that where there are websites, there are people willing to create tools to copy them. It can happen to blog posts, e-books and pictures too.

Examples of Plagiarism

I came across this topic while attending an online business group as a guest. I arrived, was deposited into a Zoom breakout room and was asked a question. A business had had a former client set up their own business in the same field which involved renovating properties. The original business had a gallery as a form of testimonials of the work that they had done. The former client had chosen to copy all the photos from the original website which seemed to indicate that they had done the work. It is illegal to copy another’s work, but also dishonest. Those photographs are a means of persuading potential customers to hire them as a renovator. What if their skills are not up to par? The original owner had tried to get them to take it down but had so far been ignored.

I have also known blog owners who have found their blog posts on someone else’s website and mailing list owners finding their content copied across onto other mailing lists. If you post content regularly, then it is worth checking regularly that no one else is taking it and passing it off as their own.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer nor trained in any form of law. If you are thinking of taking action against someone who has stolen your intellectual property, then please consult a legal professional.

Why do We Need to Add Fresh Content Regularly?

Business websites add content to their websites for several reasons: to

Show testimonials and pictures from satisfied clients

Raise their business blog in the search engines, so they update content regularly

Communicate with their customers and indicate that they are a live business.

They may also update promotions and offers to their customers.

If there is duplicate content on the internet and Big G finds it, then it can do one of two things: it may determine which is the older content and penalise the newer website or it might penalise both.

Consequences of Plagiarism

Consequences of plagiarism can include a loss of reputation among peers, a legal challenge and even a lawsuit for damages. Copyright laws differ in the countries of the world, so the actions a plagiariser faces may depend on the country where the original creator lives.

Intellectual Property

In the UK intellectual property such as a story, book, drawings or photographs are automatically covered by copyright. You do not need to do anything further to protect them and you can take legal action against anyone who steals them. It is wise to put a copyright protection signature on your intellectual works, particularly photographs. You can add a watermark while editing if needed. It is possible to read an overview on intellectual property. Make sure that you use images that you have permission to use or are Creative Commons on your website.

Protecting Your Words and Images

If you become aware that someone is using your intellectual property, then you can send a ‘cease and desist’ letter as a first resort. You can ask legal advice before sending it. There are examples available on the internet. You will need to send it to the owner of the blog. Some people advise to send an invoice for the use of the property. Your aim is to get them to take it down. If that doesn’t work, then get legal advice. Quite often, a legal letter from a solicitor is enough to get the content removed. You could contact their hosting platform if you get no answer from the person, themselves.

Writers’ Code of Conduct

Writers also need to protect ourselves from allegations of plagiarism. Following a code of conduct will help to protect you.

Top Tips

Use a range of sources so that you can find evidence for your writing and back up the facts

Never just copy a chunk of writing or cut and paste

You CAN describe what other people have said and talk about the relevance to what you are writing about

Quoting what is said (using quote marks and an attribution to the author, usually with a date) is an acceptable way to use other people’s work

If you are not sure how to reference correctly, ask the person you are writing for as there is usually a guide

Keep notes on your sources. This enables you to prove that you used them. Helpful when putting a bibliography together too or to help add footnotes or appendices

Businesses, what is the best way to protect your intellectual property and have you ever had to warn someone off? Leave comments below.

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Is there ever a time when a freelancer should work for free?

I came across a job website tonight and read their information on becoming a freelancer. I was shocked to see that they advocated taking a first job and doing the work for free. I am a firm believer that at no point should a freelancer ever work for free. Nor do I believe that they should sell their skills cheaply.

When you are just starting out, it is tempting to take any offer of work that is going, so that you can add to your portfolio and have something to show other prospective clients, but I still think that you should expect to charge for your work.

There is a process of thought that suggests that early-stage freelancers should take work in order to prove themselves. They should take low-paying or free work until they can work themselves up to a more reasonable level of compensation. There are several reasons why this is unacceptable:

Freelancers have to pay bills like everyone else

Taking low-paying work can make you feel as though it is all you are good for

You have to have a certain level of competency to even consider going freelance. Why should you sell it cheaply?

I’m a start-up, will you work for free?

Then there are the people who advertise jobs who usually suggest that as they are a start-up, they cannot currently afford to pay someone to do the work. They usually dangle the offer of more, paid work down the line. But there are some problems with that:

If they can’t afford to pay someone, then why are they starting up a business? Surely if they have no money for it, it will be doomed to fail.

The promised paid-for work rarely materialises or when it does, the pay is not worth the effort

Consider this:

The time that you spend working on something for free, is time that you can never get back.

Does that make it more valuable?

Or

The time that you have offered for free, could be used to market yourself to find a paying customer

Or

Will the product that you have created for free be used to bring this client money?

Then you deserve some compensation for it.

When you start up as a freelancer, it is advisable to work out how many billable hours you can find for your job. That is, the amount of time that you have available to work for clients. Once you have that number, you can use it to do a number of things.

You will need to set aside some time to market your business. This includes writing for your own website, creating products for your own website and running your own social media (without getting sidetracked on Facebook).

You will need some time to do the administration of your business – invoicing and chasing payments.

You will need time for clients.

If you give up some of your time for free, then you are taking some time away from your business. Even if you are a brand new freelancer, you have chosen this path because you believe that you are good at what you do and that you can bring some skills to the table. Your skills deserve a decent reward.

Don’t sell yourself short.

Have you ever worked for free? If so, then do comment below. Did more work materialise? Do you agree with me that freelancers should not work for free? Please comment below.

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3 fears you face as a business owner and how to work through them

We have all experienced fear. That uncomfortable moment when the pit of your stomach falls through the floor and a feeling of dread creeps over you. Fear is a healthy response to stepping out of our comfort zone. Sometimes, however, the emotion can take over and paralyse you, which can prevent you taking action.

 

 

 

 

 

But what if you let fear rule your actions?

Fear of starting a project

It can be possible to be afraid to start something. You take that normal piece of business advice, which is to formulate a plan – and then you plan and plan and plan. Or you research, research, research. You are so busy planning and researching, that you don’t ever start. Ever.

Answer:

While it’s good to plan and research, the time does eventually come when you need to start to do something. How will you ever learn if you simply stay safe? No one can plan for ever and sometimes you just need to get something done.

Find a small step and just take it. Make that first step to that thing you want to do and then follow it with another and another. If it helps, break down the whole process into small steps, just make sure that you then follow through and take action too!

Fear of not being able to carry out the work

There can be a real fear of taking on too much and not being able to fulfil your work demands. This especially applies if you are working in a service industry. You might be afraid that family demands could mean that you are unable to work, or if other demands on your time increase the pressure. How can you give 100% to your work when so many other things threaten to take over?

Answer:

Strangely, the answer to this one is planning! Know the hours you have to work and make sure that what you take on will fit inside them. Always allow a little extra for the unforeseen event and keep the communication with your client flowing. It is true that life has a habit of tossing little problems in your way and no one can guarantee that they will always be able to fulfil the work, but you can mitigate it as much as possible by ensuring that you keep a good grasp of what needs to be done. If this means making an old-fashioned timesheet to ensure you give enough time to different projects, then so be it.

Fear of not being good enough

No one knows all the answers when they’re just starting out, but there can be a real fear of being found out! What if the people you network with, realised just how much you are finding it hard to keep on top of everything? What if your business fails in a spectacular way? How can you say that you are an expert when you have only just started?

Answer:

Everyone can feel this way sometimes. It is one of the ways we put pressure on ourselves. However, we can choose to listen to the disparaging voice in our head, or we can tell it a few home truths. Just because you have this fear, doesn’t make it true. We need to find ways to counteract the voice with logic and calmness.

One way to help this is to have a good friend, who knows what you do, how hard you work and what it has taken to get there. A conversation with them might just be the antidote you need to a doubtful voice inside your head.

What fears have you faced while running your own business? How do you manage to face them down and still get things done? Comment below.

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Starting from the beginning as a freelance business owner

Starting a freelance business could be a dream

There is something very attractive about being a freelance worker – being your own boss, dictating your own time, tea breaks whenever you want and the joy of working in your pyjamas if you wish, however life is never that simple. When you have a job, you are given targets and work to do, but you know when and where the money is coming in that month. As a freelancer, you are responsible for finding your own work and bringing in your own money. You need to account for your money and arrange to pay any taxes or pensions. If you are in the US, you need to arrange healthcare. It can get very complicated if you just launch in without thinking things through.

Here are some tips for starting from the beginning as a freelance business owner:

  1. Set up systems – know where you are going to keep track of invoices and expenses, contacts and marketing. Keep it simple to start with – a spreadsheet for finances and one for marketing. Notify your local tax authorities that you are starting up a business and be prepared to submit accounts according to your country’s tax schedule.
  2. Decide who your clients are going to be. Know your ideal client – what they are looking for, what they will need doing, what do they look like? When you know who your ideal client will be, then find out where they hang out, as you need to be able to reach them.
  3. The easiest way to begin marketing is starting out with friends and family. Reach out to them, let them know what you are doing and ask them if anyone they know is looking for a freelancer. Any past co-workers that you are in touch with, should also be contacted. People who know you are the easiest to talk to at the beginning.
  4. Get some rough ideas of what to charge – there are lots of websites offering to help you decide what to charge but it is best to look at professional organisations for freelancers – they will often have a guide to help you decide what to charge. You can charge by the hour, per word (if writing) or per project. Per project is often the best way to charge, but you do need an idea of how long something is going to take. Allow for changes and feedback in your calculations.
  5. Have a contract. There are lots of contract examples to be found on the web. Look for something close to what you need and adapt as necessary. Never start work without written confirmation that the client is happy with your quote and an agreed deadline. You should also consider a deposit that is non-refundable should the client back out of the work.
  6. Set up a website. Every business should have a website that helps to showcase what they do. It can be as simple or complicated as you wish. Make sure that your website is clear on what you do, and make sure that people can contact you through your website.
  7. Start a portfolio. A portfolio is simply examples of your work that people who are looking for a contractor like you, can look through to help them decide to hire you. In the beginning, there may not be many samples of work, but do keep it up to date with any work that you may do. Include links and make sure that it can be reached via your website.
  8. Start marketing. Keep your Linked-In profile up-to-date. Post on your website and Linked-In and any other social media that you may use. Advertise on free business websites, reach out to local traders or other companies that you may come across.
  9. When in public, i.e. on social media, act like a professional at all times. You never know who is watching.
  10. Get some business cards printed and go to some networking events. Meet people and talk to them about what you do. Start to look for other ways to market your business, even when you’re busy. In order to keep work coming in, you need to keep marketing.

These are just some of the tips that I would give someone starting out as a freelancer. What tips would you give?

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