lovely@passionateworkaholic.com Freelance Writers Guild Mon, 04 Jun 2012 05:47:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4 Living, Writing and Musing: Confessions of a Freelance Writer /living-writing-and-musing-confessions-of-a-freelance-writer/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=living-writing-and-musing-confessions-of-a-freelance-writer /living-writing-and-musing-confessions-of-a-freelance-writer/#comments Mon, 04 Jun 2012 05:47:05 +0000 FreelanceWriterGuild /?p=174 Despite the passage of time and the advent of cool technology, most of us still dream of being a traditional, salt-of-the-earth writer. After all, didn’t someone famous mention that we all have a great novel in us waiting to be written? Why become an accountant or space astronaut when you can grow a two-week old beard and sip on a cold beer by the beach while penning down the Greatest Novel of All Time?

The Road Not Taken

The funny thing about us humans is that while we admire the spontaneous and quirky, most of us prefer safety and routine over change. While both lifestyles carry merit, it should be noted that any form of freelance work, be it modelling, acting, writing or painting will carry a certain amount of risk. This means that unless you become a really, really successful writer, your freelance paycheque probably won’t be enough to cover rent and your very own Hermès Birkin Bag.

Despite having a healthy amount of interest and respect for writers, many are also convinced that writing is an innate talent bestowed to a select few. The truth is that while it may be true that one should be fairly competent in the written language, good writing truly comes from within, which is great as we are all fairly unique to begin with. With due diligence and hours of practice, fluid sentences and poetic words will soon surface on paper. In truth, writers are self-made and are the product of resilience and determination. Whenever someone mentions that they would have never thought of writing something, it just means that they haven’t had the right idea-yet.

A Race Against the Clock

In the real world, we live in a society where praise and envy is both heaped on successful individuals such as Mark Zuckerberg who became the world’s youngest billionaire at age 23. Despite the romantic implications to choosing the profession of a writer, you should be forewarned that the same urgency to become successful seemingly overnight does not really go away. At the same time, one should also come to terms with the idea that true works of art require time to be cultivated so it can blossom to perfection.

Whenever you feel pressured to hurry along, do keep in mind that Joanne Rowling was suffering from depression and poverty at the age of 30 when she began writing her very first Harry Potter manuscript. While better off and with more experience, Suzanne Collins waited until the age of 46 to publish her very first widely successful Hunger Games novel as well.

How to Make the Cut

In a nutshell, anyone can take up the mantle of being a writer as we are all naturally born to be expressive and passionate. Having said that, writing a truly good piece requires plenty of hard work and it also involves bravely hurling yourself through periods of self doubt and criticism. If you are a budding writer, do start small by taking on simple topics and article to write about. Take every piece of feedback seriously and make it a point to humbly improve yourself, even if you’ve already had years of experience in the industry. Make everyday a day to learn something new and make use of online freelance writing tools such as Alistpress to help you gradually write faster every day.

While writing can get tough, it shouldn’t be a needless punishment you put yourself through every day. Do surround yourself with positive people and spend plenty of time finding inspiration to do better, one write up at a time. The task may sound scary and daunting (because it is!), but the end result at the end is truly gratifying.

How about you? Thoughts?

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Beware the Dubious Web Hosting Company /beware-the-dubious-web-hosting-company/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=beware-the-dubious-web-hosting-company /beware-the-dubious-web-hosting-company/#comments Tue, 08 May 2012 04:08:01 +0000 FreelanceWriterGuild /?p=177 Like it namesake suggests, a web hosting company literally hosts your website on the company’s servers. This includes information such as videos, photographs, apps and even information about your company if it is registered to your domain ownership. When chosen correctly, you should be able to maintain the cost of keeping your website online at a bare minimum. If done wrongly, your website may not only lose traffic but could also cost you maddening sums of money simply because the bandwidth was over exceeded. As freelancer writers trying to build up their portfolio, this is a huge challenge.

Most website owners struggle with finding a decent web hosting provider simply because there are so many different hosting companies available on the Internet, each with different packaged plans and unique hosting features. Of course, this also means that everyone’s definition would also vary depending on their own website’s need. One thing all website owners can agree upon though is that their chosen web hosting company should be trusted enough to provide services as promised.

How Bad Can it Be?

For instance, a website that is down frequently has clearly broken its promise of a 99.99% uptime. In the best case scenario, you might lose site visitors whereas in the worst case scenario, you could very well lose monetary sales. If your web hosting provider has offered to host your site for a cheap price but requires a two year advance payment, do be wary as it is more than likely that said company will elope with your money and promptly ignore any technical issues or complaints. Unlike a proper brick and mortar business, online businesses are usually pretty difficult to sue and not many regulations are in place to protect consumers from making bad purchases off the Internet.

On the other side of the spectrum, expensive web hosting packages may also mean that your prospective web hosting company is taking advantage of you. On average, a simple web site should only be charged less than five dollars a month of hosting fee whereas web sites that requires more features such as WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) site builders and scripts should be billed up to fifteen dollars per month for hosting services. Alternatively, you might also want to purchase the cheapest package and then gradually upgrade yourself up as your site grows in traffic volume. While this option may not be cheaper in the long run, it is a good way of testing the web hosting company’s services before fully committing your site.

The Worst Thing That Could Happen

The biggest threat posed by any web hosting company is the nightmare that all your uploaded data can virtually disappear overnight. After all, web hosting servers have been known to crash or been hacked into for numerous reasons, which means that there is no real way of ensuring that all your files are constantly protected. To counter this problem, most web hosting companies have begun advertising nightly, weekly and monthly backups for all files left on the server so that restoration can be done at the click of a button in the event of an emergency.

The problem is that while back ups are a great idea, whether or not the exercise is actually put into practise is subject to your web hosting company’s discretion. After all, there really is no way for customers to double check that their site has been backed up until it’s too late. All you really can do though is to create your very own back up just in case, regardless of whether or not your chosen web hosting company comes with plenty of integrity. After all, why risk losing years of data for no real purpose?

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Very Important: SEO your Content /very-important-seo-your-content/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=very-important-seo-your-content /very-important-seo-your-content/#comments Tue, 08 May 2012 00:00:00 +0000 Lovely /?p=182 As freelancers, we love to write. Our clients tend to give us keywords that we they would like to be the focus on their writing – but why? Why do we need to do that and what is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a method of helping websites rank higher in search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo. Basically, when a user types “freelance writers”, ranking means the websites that shows up on the  first few pages of the search engine. When I search for the word “freelance writer“, this website by Allena Tapia Cover of  appeared on the first page (after wikipedia). That means that her site is well SEO and ranks really high for the keyword “freelance writer”.

Now, how does this impact what we do as freelance writers? Well, there are a lot of freelance writers out there and one way to differentiate yourself is to have an idea of what SEO is and learn how to optimize an article for SEO purposes. To start off, here is a good article about what SEO is:

In the SEO world, which is constantly evolving, there is so much to learn that staying on top of all the changes is practically another full-time job. I am going to relate the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, by Steven R. Covey, to the world of SEO in an attempt to help lay down some principles that will help you. Like Mr. Costanza says, “When the sea is angry my friends”, you need to step up and figure it out.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective SEOs

#1 Be Proactive:

The success of an search engine marketing campaign is determined by you as the expert, but that success hinges directly on your attitude.   The best part about being human is that we have the ability to choose. You can choose to have success, maintain a good attitude or even give in to failure. Some things that happen are beyond your control.  But for the most part, it comes down to being proactive and taking responsibility for SEO decisions.  You can blame Google for algorithm changes (like the recent Penguin update), you can blame your client, you can blame your computer – you can even blame the weather if you want….

More at 7 Habits of Highly Effective SEOs

More Reading

 

How to Write SEO Articles in 2012

A Freelance Writer’s Basic Guide to SEO

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Freelancers Union /writing/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=writing /writing/#comments Mon, 07 May 2012 00:00:00 +0000 Lovely /?p=156 To my friends out there, I spend a lot of time reading and thought that I would share this.  

via, the Freelancers Union:

Support the Freelancer Payment Protection Act
Send Letters to Senator Dean Skelos : 394 Letters Sent So Far

What is the Freelancer Payment Protection Act?
The FPPA would help independent workers in New York collect money from clients who don’t pay.

How would it help?
Victims of nonpayment will be able to file complaints with the New York State Department of Labor. After investigating, the Department of Labor may award victims 100% of what they’re owed, plus attorney’s fees and interest.

What’s happening now?
The New York State Assembly passed the Freelancer Payment Protection Act. Now, the Senate must do the same! Email Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, urging him to pass the bill this legislative session.

If you live in NYC go here to support: …

More at The Freelancer Payment Protection Act Cover of

As freelance writers, we should always understand our rights and know when to act when necessary. That is very important – as the world of freelancing can sometimes be a little tough, brutal and honestly, some clients are quite tough to deal with. Understand your rights and protect yourself.  

More Reading

       

 

 

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The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube /the-anti-9-to-5-guide-practical-career-advice-for-women-who-think-outside-the-cube/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-anti-9-to-5-guide-practical-career-advice-for-women-who-think-outside-the-cube /the-anti-9-to-5-guide-practical-career-advice-for-women-who-think-outside-the-cube/#comments Sun, 06 May 2012 17:06:50 +0000 FreelanceWriterGuild /?p=144 Cover of

Cover via Amazon

Women these days are different compared to who we were before.  We want to be different and we want our passion to drive our career.  A 9-5 job is not satisfying or motivating anymore.

This books, The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women who think outside the Cube identifies exactly that.  The author, Michelle Goodman, a self proclaimed “wage-slave” has written her story of finding what she loves and think in a non-traditionalist way.  Her wise choice of words, inspiring story and resources that she shared with us is breathtaking.  This book is a great complement to my post on Freelance Writer vs Full-Time.

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Freelance Writing vs Full-Time Job /freelance-vs-fulltime/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=freelance-vs-fulltime /freelance-vs-fulltime/#comments Wed, 25 Apr 2012 02:44:48 +0000 FreelanceWriterGuild /?p=8 Imagine this, waking up every morning at 7am, drive to work by 9am, work your butt off and leave at 5pm. You are exhausted, stressed and brought some of your work home to finish it up for tomorrow. Then, you do this over and over again from Monday to Friday. What a life.

Here is an evaluation of the pros and cons of freelance writing vs a regular full-time position:

1. Flexibility

Working a regular 9-5 job sucks up at least 40 hours per week from your life. That comes up to 24% of your time away from your family and the people that you love. A freelance writer works whenever she wants, provided that she finishes her work in a timely fashion. Time is priceless and by being a freelance writer, you can spend good quality time with your love ones.

2. High Demand

Knowledge is transmitted through two ways: words and images. It is not easy crafting and creating a beautiful piece of writing that attracts readers but the ability for a writer to attract the attention of his/her target audience is very valuable. Good writers are highly sought for. My buddy who writes sales copies charges six figure amount per sales copy that he writes. If you are able to attract readers to read what you write, people are willing to pay for it.

3. Wealth of Knowledge

As freelance writers, we are given different topics and keywords to write our articles. When we receive a topic that we are not familiar with, we will spend some time learning about it before putting it down on paper. That allows you to explore different topics and expand your horizons. You are getting paid to do research, learn and write. That is the best way to learn!

All in all, I am bias towards freelance writing and really enjoy what I am doing. I would never trade this life for anything else.

How about you? Do you enjoy writing as much as I do? What are your thoughts on a freelance writing vs full-time position?

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Top 9 Twitter Tips for Beginners /top-9-twitter-tips/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=top-9-twitter-tips /top-9-twitter-tips/#comments Sun, 08 Apr 2012 02:31:07 +0000 FreelanceWriterGuild /?p=184 Being a freelancer, it is often a challenge to share your story to the world.  As writers, we really enjoy writing – when it comes to marketing and building a brand though, that takes some extra effort and we may not be the best in doing so.

Imagine this:
One day, you decide to be a freelance writer. You did a google search for “Freelance Writers” and started looking for opportunities to write. Then, you stumbled upon freelance websites like oDesk, Elance and Freelancer Cover of . You create an account, start applying for jobs and after 2 weeks, you still have not gotten your desired position. That is very demotivating…

There are a few methods to make you “stand out” among the crowd. Stop being like everybody else and spend some time building your personal brand. The best place to start is Twitter.
Here are the 9 steps to get your started:

1. After signing up on twitter spend 30 minutes to 1 hour on Twitter’s homepage, doing basic searches to become familiar with the type of content available on the service.

2.    Find followers by searching your town and surrounding areas as well to find key influencers, news outlets, bloggers and city officials. Also, search for large players in your market. If they share your posts, you have the potential to reach thousands.  I suggest following a few people at a time (~10-20). To truly connect with them, mention them in a post immediately. You can also comment on one of their posts or simply say that you look forward to following their awesome tweets.

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

3. Treat your twitter profile as you would treat any other website. Send as much traffic as possible to your twitter profile to gain followers using other web properties.  For example, if you have a website, you can place your Cover of tool at the following location:

  • Top right of your website
  • Registration Page
  • Edit profile page
  • Thank you page
  • Every Blog Post

4. You only have 5 to 7 seconds to convert a visitor into follower, so make your twitter profile as attractive as possible. Tweak all the aspects mentioned above (related to profile page), and you can see a drastic increase in the number of followers. Furthermore, use a custom background for your twitter profile. This will show that you are real and shares quality content.

5.  Use your twitter profile wherever possible to gain backlinks. The higher your visibility to the search engines (SEO), the higher your chances of having people follow you. For example, when leaving a blog comment or signing up to a free service on a website, if you are able to use your twitter profile to sign-in, do it.

6.  Re-tweets (RT) are important. The originator of the post will receive an email if their content is RTed. That will increase YOUR visibility and chances are the person who got your RT tend to follow you.  If you are listed as the top 10 re-tweeters on Twitter, you will get a significant amount of followers.

7. Keep your followers engaged by participating in certain groups (hashtags) and asking good questions. In Twitter, you can easily start a conversation with any stranger. Make sure that you ask an open-ended question so that more users can answer your question. Groups can be created using Hashtags. The best way to start is to find trending hashtags and use those first. After you are use to using hashtags, create your own and start spreading by adding it on relevant post. If it becomes popular, people will search it, find yours and hopefully re-tweet their stories and comment on them! Alternatively, reply to each and every message. Keep the conversation going. The goal is to get them to trust you. Of course you should do this as much as you can. Then get involve in great debates and conversation with people with more followers. When the famous person reply to your tweet, his followers sees your twitter ID, if they find the conversation interesting, they may start following you and the conversation. Your first priority should be building relationships with people, not pitching your service or product.

8. Maintain consistent and high-quality content. The content that you tweet should be both consistent as in regular updates, and also consistent with your overall message or objective. Keep good tweets in the first page of your profile because your recent tweets will be displayed in the first page of your profile. Tweet valuable things. Do not tweet merely to get traffic to your blog by tweeting only about your articles. You can tweet about what you are presently doing etc, bit personal things; this is what twitter followers like to know. But try to provide some more valuable things. Like tweeting breaking news, latest happenings at your place etc.

9.  To truly leverage Twitter you need to stay current. This includes desktop and mobile Twitter clients like TweetDeck Cover of , Cover of and Tweetie. Desktop clients give you more flexibility and more control over your Twitter strategy than you’ll have on the Twitter website. Among other things, you’ll be able to pre-define searches (so that you can monitor certain keywords, including your business name) and group people you follow so that you can minimize the noise and focus on the real content. You might also consider using a web tool like Twitterfall Cover of , which will allow you to define (and color-code) various custom searches that you can review from time to time, and also to follow trending topics. Get alerts sent to your phone when folks engage with you via your social networking sites – at least in the beginning – that way you respond quickly.

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