Monday, November 29, 2021

Is Tempesta Media the New Demand Studios? Also, Article Submission Site Drama...

If you haven't burned off holiday meals, maybe this news will inspire a natural appetite suppressant.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news during this time of year but hopefully this will help new content writers get ahead.  When I stressed in my previous posts how rough the seas of online content writing were becoming, I neglected to mention those companies who forgot the Vaseline after you've made money for them.

Is Tempesta Media the Demand Studios 2.0?

Let me start with the first culprit.  For many years, Tempesta Media has used a number of freelance content writers to submit content to a number of sites.  While the pay was similar to most content mills of the early 2000s, they offered new writers feedbacks and resources for improvement.  FYI, Crowd Content offers writers and editors a similar service but jobs get snatched up quickly.

In the past five years (roughly, as I didn't work for them often), their business model has changed and in the past few years, Tempesta wanted writers who were proven subject matter experts.  In other words, only professionals need apply and generalists may be considered in the future.  This is understandable considering how saturated the market was becoming at the time.

The benefit for me was being able to link my bylined articles (another plus) and use these for my online portfolio.  I've done this for years and these were varied publications so it showed off my diversity in topics.  Well, over the weekend I learned that my 3-4 articles that were once highly rated and had good traffic replaced my name with that of Tempesta Media.

I started this process by logging into my account and I got a pop-up window that said my "account has been deleted successfully".  Huh?  I tried again and got the same message.  Wondering if this was a glitch, I sent an inquiry through the website portal, and as of 10:30 A.M. PST, I haven't received a response.  Considering that my articles got jacked without warning, I doubt that I ever will.

Now, this reminds me of my time with eHow, where I made a nice supplemental income for a few years.  This ended when Demand Media bought the site and began to filter certain writers (I spent my early writing years with them and politely speaking, it was a learning curve).  However, they did offer to give a final payout to certain articles but my days of receiving residuals for views were history.

I took the offer and went about my business but later, there were reports of long-term writers being forced out without warning.  Other writers mentioned not being paid while Demand went through another change, it seemed.  And yes, many articles listed Demand as the sole contributor. While I'm not mad at content companies for wanting to stay afloat (especially during uncertain economic times), it would be nice if they'd considered the freelancers who helped them see their glory days.

Using Article Submission Sites for Self-Promotion

Friday, November 26, 2021

Do You Know Where You're Going ...?

Many of us take on big or tedious jobs - even or problematic clients - and somewhere along the way, we may ask ourselves 'What the hell was I thinking about when I decided to join this project?' After the turkey (or substitute) has turned into leftovers, you may want to ask yourself what you learned from each job.  Even better, ask what you gained outside of paying a few bills.

Getting a steady stream of clients is becoming a true art form and for those without a pencil to create a basic sketch, the terrain can get dangerous.  In other words, taking a chance in the predatory waters of freelancing can be a true compromise of sanity.  However, the trick is to not let strangers see you sweat.  Seriously.

Working Hard (and Unsmart?) 

Right now, someone I know is doing a project free of charge as a favor to a neighbor.  The task is something they haven't done in a while and technology has changed a great deal since they were active in this line of work.  While there's no time for them to play catch up, the project has gone from a labor of love to a source of stress.

When I asked about the details (because this person suffers from clinical depression and has a history of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD), their response waivered from getting a rush from doing research to just wanting to do the best job possible.  While both are good reasons to continue, spending unexpected long periods of time on a project can compromise mental health.  In this instance, there's nothing wrong with setting milestones to allow for a work-life balance.

Choosing Boundaries (and Sticking to Them)

Like the above video states, you are in control...more than you think.  Back in the days of oDesk, I had a nice rating as a freelancer but I made one mistake that gave me an instant headache.  That was making my profile listing available to the public instead of just users. For two days, my personal cell phone rang seemingly non-stop, with callers who either wanted me to drop what I was doing to service them or listen to their personal problems.

As a woman, society says I'm supposed to have boundaries when it comes to suitors.  Never give out your number first, always order (and watch) your own drink, etc., etc.  My issue is that my laid-back L.A. vibe doesn't always work well in the world of business either.

Defining Goals Early

Doesn't it suck when you've done what you're supposed to on a job but it's the client that's wishy-washy?  While you don't have to put everything in a formal contract or agreement, it helps to communicate your expectations before closing the deal.  If something feels off, address it right away because predatory clients will take advantage of gray areas.  When people know you have standards and stick to them, they will either respect you or take their business to a desperate freelancer willing to work for pennies.

I once had a client ask me a ton of questions about a topic they needed for a lengthy copywriting project.  Because it was a matter that hit very close to home, I had no problem being a subject-matter expert (SME).  The next thing I knew the conversation was getting into an hour and there was no deal on the table.  While I was able to lock something in within the next half hour, they would use my disposition against me less than 24 hours later.  Not only did they find a subjective reason to reject my work but tried to give me a guilt complex when I dropped the project without warning.  For the next couple of days, I ignored their rude comments and realized being a sucker was costly.

Lesson: Be cordial at the very least but have an imaginary timer going in your head.  Normally, 15 minutes is a safe maximum but sometimes it may take another 10-15 minutes to get a feel for the client and their project.  As much as I hate to use this example, just don't be that "available" girl because she never gets the respect she deserves.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Now is the Time to Re-Vamp Your Freelancer Portfolio


Updating an online presence is not always easy.  We know that technology changes as well as the need for good visuals.  Ten years ago, it was rare to see character animations used in a promotional video with a small budget.  Nowadays, it's not only the norm but most apps make it easy to create quality videos on any device for almost nothing.

These days, the online portfolio acts as the traditional resume but with better readability.  This means that objects should be easy to navigate and links to external pages should be fresh.  While many portfolios have unique qualities, not all are functional.  Using a blog format is okay but you should be cautious when it comes to layout and visibility.

For instance, I've been called out for using white fonts against a black background in my professional portfolio because it leads to eyestrain.  It may also hurt my chances of being found in a search engine.  While the latter isn't my concern, I do want prospects to feel comfortable and get the information they are seeking.  However, I just learned that I've been doing two things very wrong despite being able to land jobs with this powerful tool.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

We Are the Future (or How to Survive the Freelancing Life)


While the grind can be draining, this life is a reality for many indie workers out there.  From client relations to taxes, it seems there's no end but depending on how you market yourself and the goods you're selling, you can come out on top.  Here's some quick tips - 

  • Take time for yourself - this seems impossible at two stages: 1) when you're getting started, and 2) when business is booming.  Depending on your planning, these stages can be a make or break moment but doing things like taking a day to not deal with clients or your next move may allow for fresh ideas to enter.
  • Don't give in to unreasonable demands - a lot of freelancers get stumped on this one but repeated actions of this kind lead to fumbling the bag...and your reputation.  While satisfying clients is the core of good businesses dealings, it's your job to filter out those predatory individuals or entities that are looking to get over.  Choose your loss leader wisely and move on to the next prospect if there's no deal to be made.
  • Outsource Your Weak Areas - this should go without saying but a lot of newbie freelancers love to cut corners, especially in the beginning.  The IRS often will give leeway to those making a little money the first year or two but otherwise, they don't play when it comes to taxes.  On a milder note, if you know your website is out of date, hire a college student to give your online real estate a makeover
  • Move past the negativity - people who tell you to go back to work (depending on the circumstances, they may have a point), a stream of bad clients, or a horrid chain of events can easily influence someone to throw in the towel.  It's impossible to guard yourself against all bad things but if you remind yourself why you became a freelancer, the inspiration to resume should return quickly.  If not, it may be time for a new strategy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Why Fact Checking Matters for Freelancers

You don't have to be a marketer or writer to benefit from fact-checking.  As someone who's been in e-commerce for a while,  I'd say knowing the facts goes a long way for anyone trying to sell their services or goods.  By knowing of people, events, or places in the current time, you may be able to close a sale on that piece of knowledge alone.  Why?  Because people will go to lengths to see if you know what you're talking about.

Becoming a Subject Matter Expert (SME)

This may sound intimidating to anyone outside of marketing but in this case, you can be an SME of just about anything.  If you know for a fact that adding oatmeal to your homemade desserts is better for heart health, you may want to bring better statistics than what's listed on a cereal box.  You should be able to explain why pure oats are better than processed and so on.

Anyone can look things up on Google or Wikipedia but how much of this content is accurate?  Most of us know how to look for basic inaccuracies found in content (Lifehack) but what about respected sites that have old information?  Oftentimes the online public library is the best place to find updates and other information that will support your claims.  However, there are some ways to go the distance in finding the information you need.

Doing Better Information Searches

It's no secret that there's no singular way to do most things.  From changing your car's oil to making tamales, people are going to have shortcuts or tailor their content for a certain audience.  While this may work as a secondary (or tertiary) source of information or in your personal life, today the competition is too steep to cut corners.

If getting facts directly from a known expert is impossible, then the next best method is to aim for sites that are equally relevant.  By using Google's Advanced Search feature, you can reach a number of educational or government agency sites that have no choice but to tell the truth.  Just enter the keyword or phrase, followed by the domain type (.edu or .gov). The former sometimes publishes content from campus blogs but these usually have a disclaimer that recommends readers to use this information at their discretion.

Learning from the Pros

Communicating with clients means learning how to listen and respond in order to keep the engagement going.  Who better to learn tips from than a writing entity like the Poynter Institute?  They offer a variety of writing, communication, and journalism courses for novices to seasoned professionals.

Their media literacy series of classes can help anyone learn how to dissect information that goes in, as well as use data to back up claims or give stories a little more sustenance.  Most public libraries also have fact-checking fundamentals that are easy to understand and put into practice right away.  If there are topics you find yourself visiting often, it may help to create a personal library you can access.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Freelance Leads for Fall 2021, 3 of 3

This third and final post in this series is more of a gig or side income listing but these have been around for a while. The first two opportunities do not promote dating or contact that’s not platonic.  These are also ideal if you’re looking to make extra money for the holidays and completing those online surveys just isn’t getting it.

Rent a Friend - yes, it’s something like that Kevin Hart/Josh Gad movie except there’s no wedding party participation involved.  However, this is becoming a trend for those who may lack an active social life due to family and/or work obligations.  While I didn’t see any stipulations that forbid developing a genuine friendship afterward, like online dating, tread carefully.

If you want to get your snuggle on, here’s a few companies that promote safe engagement with client and contractor - 

Cuddle Comfort Cuddle Companions

Here’s what one review site said about Snuggle Buddies.

If you want to become a therapeutic snuggler, get trained on the proper methods.

If you like to do the cyber thing, Web Employed also has some leads to help expand your social circle.

DISCLAIMER: We at Freelancing Fun cannot be held responsible for the outcome of these encounters.  I love and hate everyone kind of equally so my social circle is okay.  I’ve never tried any of these services nor have I been compensated to list them in this blog post.

The last opportunity is ideal for those who like to write and may be interested in self-publishing.  So far, the only straightforward information I’ve found on the self-publishing hustle is on this freelancing site.  However, if you like looking at statistical numbers, testimonials, or just want some real talk about the pros and cons of self-publishing, Sidehusl will never steer you wrong.

I heard the term printable last year and it seems to be low-risk and something you can do over the course of a weekend.  The only catch seems to be writing unique content and choosing a marketable topic.  In other words, infographic-style books about working from home, small business, or entrepreneurship may be a little played out (maybe with some funny illustrations, I’d buy it).

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Before You Fire Your Boss to Become a Freelancer

While some of those work-from-home B.S. ads may sell you a dream, freelance life is tougher than ever.  Besides Gen Xers and early millennials planning for things like big purchases and early retirement, figure in the former retail and other service workers on who've gotten on their IG hustle in the past year.  Yeah, it's intense but this isn't to say that you shouldn't live out your dreams.

Here's an infographic for you -