Thursday, August 22, 2019

So You Wanna Be a Freelance Writer?

Good for you!  Being a wordsmith on your terms and getting paid for it is one of the best ways to make
a living.  However, it does help your bank account if you can read (don't judge know what kind of individual I speak of) style guides AND are willing to adhere to them.  But then again, why are some of the most grammatically incorrect blogs that walk the fine line of what a person can legally say in a public entity get paid the fat cheddar?

In short, it comes down to marketing and finding the right audience.  I can go on and on about today's intelligence levels but instead, I'll share with you some things I've learned.  While freelance writing articles like this are a great template for getting started, these truths I've experienced can make the difference between being able to make rent and being tempted to put on a paper hat and go slang some burgers, fried chicken, or whatever sells in your area.

What I Learned From a Decade+ of Freelance Writing

  1. Keep calm.  There's nothing worse than entering the process stressed out or wondering about the last rejection or job that didn't go as planned.
  2. Keep reserve cash on hand.  Even if it's as little as $500, it can buy a little time when a person needs a break from the screen.
  3. Diversity is great but generalizations can bite you in the butt.  Trying to know and write about everything is something I learned way back in the days of Associated Content.  Because they paid upfront and residuals, I felt that as long as knew I how to research I can write about anything.  Not only was I called out on my errors but it made my profile look strange when I tried to use it for branding.
  4. Have a set of resources outside of your browser search engine.  This line of work is getting VERY competitive and being original is hard.  Although you may realize that using Wikipedia can be a fail, know where else to look for the facts.
  5. Never, ever pay for resources.  There was once an individual in my LinkedIn group who was a self-proclaimed expert on content writing.  While his intentions may have been good, it was all to promote an e-book that costs $5.  However, the buyer needed a password to open the book and had limited viewings.  Unfortunately for me (I fell for the okey-doke), about half of the things mentioned were out of date (even the SEO algorithms and black hat techniques).  Of course, the leads were out of date but back then, it was typical for a content writing company to go out of business without notice and take their works with them.  Don't believe me, ask anyone who worked with Demand Media pre-2010.
This leads me to the bonus that very few writers today will do.  Keep copies of your work.  Even if it was rejected more than once, it's yours to re-tool/spin/repurpose.  If you choose to work with a content mill as a way to get started and build some bylines, be aware of the risks.  It may start off good but waking up to getting an Error 500 message and not knowing what happened to your work can be disturbing,

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Best Freelancing Tools for the Disorganized

To those who've been at it for a minute, it seems that freelance and organization go hand-in-hand.    Even if a person is naturally organized, they often need something that tells them what to do or how to do it.  While many say that freelancing apps that can be used on a smartphone or mobile device are the best, not everyone uses such as system.

As for me, I'm still old school as I like to write things down.  I've never owned a Blackberry or anything that required me to keep up with charging schedules before realizing that the LG is a pretty awesome brand.  Oh yeah, you didn't hear that last part from me😛

Anyway, this is the organizer I grew up with, except mine was probably some fluorescent since it was the later 1980s.  It was also filled with confetti-size pieces of paper that had random guy's numbers I met on the bus and really serious ish like 'Interview at Mickey Ds for 11:00a'.  I even managed to convert my senior name cards (WTF were those for anyway?) into business cards using a word processor.  How genius was that?

So, in my mind, I was a really busy teen out of school who's always loved the idea of being organized.  Even once considered it as a career.  But then came along those Post-Its, and while it seemed like a good thing for someone who was balancing phone calls from agencies back in the day.  However, I learned that not all Post-Its, just like not all organizers were made alike.  Some could stick for days or weeks but here's my latest discovery...

Now this little treasure right here, which costs about $9 at Office Depot, gives me everything I need without worrying about data loss, USB cables that suddenly decided to stop charging, and wondering if I need a connection to read it.  I just jot down my plans for the week, along with some important tasks that I might have neglected.  Trust me, my Kindle's To-Do List has been a Don't for more than two years now.  Don't let cool technology prevent you from reaching your freelancing goals...sometimes an oldie is more than a goodie, especially when you get paid on time!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Create Presentations that Reflect You

Even if getting in front of an audience isn't your thing, knowing how to create a good presentation goes a long way.  Especially if you're a writer and want a break or a way to make extra income, like creating your own tutorials, a solid presence will take you far.

One thing that can make a difference is believing in the product or your brand  Speaking in a conversational tone is a lot better than trying to sound like a newscaster.  When people are themselves on record, their message is easier to receive than from someone who speaks in a perfect monotone.

While some will say to put some pep in the pitch, speaking too fast can come off as dishonest.  Like a used car salesman type of shady.  Just breathe and let the words flow.

MS Powerpoint can be a friend to those looking to create unique videos for promotional purposes.  It's easy to use and it can be uploaded fast on most viral video sites.  However, many tend to be lost when it comes to creating an engaging product.  Some forget to take advantage of MP4 imports, cool transitions, and the ability to make something unique.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Stay on Top of Studies and Your Money

If you work and go to school, time management can be an issue.  However, if you're a gig worker while trying to learn something, this can be a different kind of battle.  Although battle may be a strong word, it's not easy to realize that money can be funny as a contractor.  But getting an in-demand job while going to school can ease some of the pressure.

Why?  Companies go out of business (sometimes with zero notice), a merger can force out new hires or those without a strong history, and there's personal burnout.  Although these things can happen when working for a large company, having a severance package (or at least the ability to collect unemployment) can make the difference.

In the meantime, assessing skills can be the greatest timesaver.  Why?  Instead of wasting time (and losing money) listening to music or answering surveys for pennies an hour.  Anyone who knows how to type a little may be able to land a job as a transcriptionist.  Some companies even offer paid training.

There are many nice-paying gigs that also allow anyone to create their own schedule.  Genpact (formerly known as OnSource) is great for shutterbugs who can travel to various business and residential locations.  Mystery shopping is great for those who know their way around a store or want to hone their acting skills (the latter may want to consider getting a gold membership).

Many of these gigs just ask applicants to have an active PayPal account to get started, along with the usual documents needed to work.  There are also numerous websites on this page (see right panel) that have leads on jobs that pay weekly, allow background noise, or have full-time opportunities. 

Friday, August 2, 2019

Before You Tell Your BOSS Where to Go...

It's Friday afternoon and you're already sick at the thought of Monday morning.  This is a sign that it's time to go and sooner you realize this, the sooner you can rebound into where you want to be professionally.  However, in order to be your own boss, you have to think like one  Just like a good boss won't fire an employee at random, anyone looking to be in charge should have a protocol in place.

Successful freelancing entails means planning your next move ahead of time, even if your goal is to run the most awesome hot dog cart in your area.  However, don't think because you were smart enough to buy vegan hot links by the case and have a formal biz plan in place that it's time to tell the person who signs your checks where to go.  Even if you and your cart are a hit at the weekend farmer's market, it may not be time.

The art of freelancing, whether it be by choice or necessity, should always start with a clean slate.  It's a lot easier to make decisions when there's money (at least mid-four figures) saved.  If you quit your job so you can start a cat-sitting business, even though most of your neighbors are dog owners, then you probably deserved to be on the chopping block at work.

Logic can become lost when we hate our job. Sometimes supervisors can get things twisted when they wanted someone out last year.  While this type of frustration can benefit mistreated or overworked employees in the end (no company wants a lawsuit), timing is everything.

  • Don't wait for the right time to make a change, create it.  Look at how you manage time at home or check out things you can do on weekends that will place you closer to your goal.  This may result in a nice balance of time but being proactive can also put a person in contact with others who may be able to help out.