Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Blogging Tips For The New Year!

Quick one today. I just wanted to wish everyone a happy new year and a great 2009! Hope Christmas was a good one this year and everyone had a good time.

I've also just published an article on freelance writing and blogging on AC today. It gives you the basics of getting started and some tips on making extra cash from blogging as well so please take a look.

The Basics of Blogging for Your Freelance Writing Career
Do you want to be a freelance writer or earn an extra income with freelance writing? If you do then try blogging. This article will tell you how and why to get started.
The Basics Of Blogging For Your Freelance Writing Career

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Blogging For The Freelance Writer

If you want to become a freelance writer or would like to get your abilities noticed then you may want to look into blogging as a hobby. Many people make a good living as a professional blogger these days. Of course, many bloggers just blog for fun whilst making little or no extra cash on the side. They may want to vent or air their opinions, but the majority of bloggers are frustrated writers in some way, shape or form!

Starting a blog is a fantastic way to start showcasing your talent. You can use posts as example work ad can also hone your ability by writing on your own blog, just as if you had a written journal.

There are many blog hosts that you may want to tap into, such as Blogger, but if you want to make a little money then why not go for a provider that will pay you per post? I started a personal blog today at Today.com because I did not have a personal blog at all! Today.com is great for new bloggers because they pay you $1 per 100 word post and also give you 2c per view, meaning that you can make decent money if you build up your readership, whilst honing your talents at the same time! The money may not sound like a lot but many hosts will not pay you at all.

Just click on the link - Today.com - to get started and blog away! Registration is easy and you will find that it is a great way to get started for any writer in waiting!

My new personal blog can be found here: English Opinion. Please drop in and take a look!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

More On Business Finances And Credit Cards

I was re-reading through some of my previous posts on here and realised I had yet to discuss the obstacles that you may face when you apply for credit cards if you work for yourself. Few lenders will actually offer you a credit card if you are self employed because they have no guarantee that you will pay the money back. Although some will ask for your accounts or will consider you as a result of your bank balance, others will just decline your application immediately, so what to do?

The solution lies in your status as a business in your own right, believe it or not. When self employed individuals apply for credit cards, they are much more likely to meet with success if they do so through their business. This is risky if you want it for personal use because you could end up in debt via your business. However, if you are applying for a credit card for business purposes then the likelihood is that you will recieve a stamp of approval. Although banks are currently a little reticent to loan businesses money, very little has changed in terms of the amount of credit card approvals.

Always be sure to compare the best possible rates of credit cards when you apply because there are best value products out there and others that are extremely poor by comparison. The same principle applies to business finances as to personal finances so be sure to compare, compare, compare before you apply!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Promote Your Business: Using Personalised Stationary

Everyone entering into a career as a freelance writer can have all the writing skills in the world and still may not make that career a success. This may sound daunting but it is a fact. Any businessperson needs skills relating to self marketing. It is essential that any freelance writer learns how to market him or herself in order to get work. Some use websites, others use composed advertisements but the best place to start marketing yourself is in your local area by going to fairs, work expos and visiting local businesses because it is the people attending the events and local businesspeople that will put work your way.

To market yourself effectively you will need to look the part. One of the best ways to do this is to use personalised stationary. There are many companies around that offer personalised business stationary and many of them allow you to create your own business cards, letterheads and other stationary that you may need. By using these services, you can create your own logo and font relatively easily and thus make an impression on those individuals that may hire you.

Business cards are essential to hand out so that individuals can contact you at a later date if they need any writing completing, such as content for a website. Those business cards should include your name, address, phone number and email. You may also include your logo and motto or a short sentence giving them a reason to hire you. They can keep your card for future reference, thus making your marketing campaign a long term one rather than an instantly forgettable one.

If you do want to try out your own business cards then a company called VistaPrint is a great place to try. They offer free business cards (which can be found behind the link) for all new customers so you will only have to pay postage and packing for your first order, unless you decide to order stationary and other essential items as well. Their prices are reasonable so check them out if you want to save money and mount a successful marketing campaign. I use them and I have to say that I find their products value for money, especially the repeat order function available. After all, with any luck you would need more cards in the future!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Associated Content For Poetry!

I've mentioned Associated Content in a post before now as a good way to showcase your work and earn a little extra money as well, but this may surprise you...

... You can publish stories and poetry on Associated Content as well!!!

I found this out completely by accident when I claimed a call for content, but just check out my limerick if you don't believe me!

The Democrat Sheriff
This is a political limerick in honor of Barack Obama, the Democrat candidate for US President in 2008.
View more »

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Manage Your Accounting And Credit For The Crunch

small business credit cards
It's certainly been a while since I blogged on here but I am lucky enough to have been incredibly busy over the last few months. I'm extremely glad of that given the fact that there is a credit crunch now in full swing! Work seems to be steady at the moment but I credit the fact that I am extremely conscious of my finances to explain the fact that my business is doing well so far. Of course, that is not to say that I will not need a helping hand in the future but I have confidence in the fact that my finances have been pretty stable so far and may continue to be so.

One of the reasons behind this is adequate financial planning and I can offer tips to help others, the first of which concerns the proverbial rainy day! Always make sure that you have a business savings account or a personal savings account with a little set aside for those just in case moments because you never know. Try to have at least two months operating costs and personal costs put away because that gives youtime to either get back on track or to find a part time job to supplement your writing. Also, you may want to consider having an emergencies card just in case you are waiting for a buyer to pay you. I am having difficulty with a client who keeps putting off payment. As annoying as it is, it prevents me from purchasing stuff that the business could do with. However, I have an American Express credit card that I put any expenses on and then pay off in full every month. This also helps separate business expenses for tax purposes as well, which is a bonus.

Just be smart and make sure that your financial future is protected as far as possible. This will save a lot of heartache in the future.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Your Questions: The Non-Disclosure Agreement

There are some tools that every writer will become familiar with over the course of a career. In fact, a successful writer may deal with them on a regular basis. One of those was the subject of a question I received through just a few days ago:

I have been asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement by someone that wants to work with me. What is a non-disclosure agreement and shoul I sign it?

A non-disclosure agreement is effectively a confidentiality agreement. Many buyers will ask you to sign one if they work with sensitive information or have a unique and innovative idea that they want to guard. For example, a guy that I work with on a regular basis is successful and has a lot of techniques and secrets that are not commonly used in the industry he works in. They contribute to his massive success and give him an advantage over the competition. As a result, it's no wonder that he wanted me to sign an agreement! It gives him peace of mind that I won't sell him out and gives me protection in that it defines the terms that we work under.

If a buyer does work with sensitive information then it is a good idea to protect yourself with an NDA, as a non-disclosure agreement is commonly known. It ensures that you cannot be accused of anything without justifiable proof and will instill a sense of confidence in the buyer. Most freelancers are more than willing to sign one if asked because it promotes trust and the buyer will more than likely employ you again if the standard of work is high.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Get Your Name Out There!

I was working on a ghost writing project earlier on this afternoon and realised that I've been covering how to earn money and prosper as a freelance writer on this blog but had not really covered how to get your name out there. It is all well and good relying on ratings on sites like Guru and Rentacoder whilst you find your feet, but spreading the word about your work is a different matter. I, like any other writer, love to see my work in print with a byline that clearly labels it as my work. However, it is tough when you're starting out.

One way to get your name in print is to join a website like Associated Content. The financial reward is related to how popular your articles are but your content will be printed and attributed to you. Associated Content is a useful website for gettig our name out there and can also act as a portfolio for your work should you ever need to show examples to an employer. You never know, some clients ma find you through your AC content.

You can literally write about whatever interests you for Associated Content. There are no restrictions as long as it is clean! If you don't know what to write then you could always use their "suggested content" tool to pick up articles. For example, I wrote one a few days ago about cocktails for 4th of July parties, which was on the suggested list. You can have a read of my 4th of July cocktails by clicking on the link. This is a good example of the kind of work they are looking for. You can also reach the Associated Content website itself by clicking on the link.
It is definitely worth checking out.

If you like the article I wrote then please subscribe to my articles using the "subscribe" tag just under my name. My articles will be sent to you as and when they are published so you can have a read and get a few ideas!

Happy writing!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Your Questions: Spelling!

I received a bit of a strange question last week from a UK writer that was struggling to get and keep jobs from US clients. It isn't one that I thought anyone would ask but that is why I'm responding to it today.

What is the difference between US and UK spelling and do I need to know it?

If you are a freelance writer then you need to be versatile and adaptable. You need to be able to fulfil all of an individual buyer's requirements. If you cannot do that then you will not be able to build up ongoing relationships with select clients that could possibly ensure your business stays afloat for years to come. This is why you should take the time to learn the difference between US and UK spellings.

I was lucky in that I went to college in the US for a year and had to learn the different spellings pretty quickly. I now have a good grasp of both US nd UK spellings, slang and sentence structures. I have clients from both sides of the Atlantic that know I can fulfil any requirements they ask for because I know how to write like a Brit and like an American. There is a number of SEO companies in the UK that are big freelance employers and millions of clients in the US so you really can't afford not to know the difference between the languages. There are definitely fundamental differences.

If you have to be able to spell in the US or UK way quickly but don't know how to then you can use the language settings on Word. That's a good cheat tip! However, you might want to study a few articles on websites like the BBC for UK stye and USA Today for US style. There are writing guides available on the Internet as well.

In the next couple of days I'll be posting a quick guide to US/UK spelling and writing here for your reference so stay tuned!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Your Questions: Getting Paid!

Thanks to everyone that has emailed a question to me since my last post. Rest assured, I will get to them all so stay tuned for the information you want and need. The question that I'm going to answer today concerns payment. Two people asked roughly the same question:

How can I guarantee that I will get paid for work that I do?

The reason why I'm dealing with this first is because it is very important for you if you want to make a living out of writing. It is also a legitimate concern. After all, if you don't get paid then you have no career.

The first and most important thing to know is that there is no guarantee that you will be paid for the work that you do if you do not protect yourself. Agreeing to do work before putting measures in place will leave you open to con artists and those that will take your work and run. I have only ever not been paid for my work once. I made good use of the work I had done and ultimately benefitted from it, but it doesn't always turn out that way. You can try the following to protect yourself and ensure you get paid:

1 - Get A Deposit - Some writers only work on a deposit basis so they get a percentage of the total fee before anything is written. This is great for you because you have something for your work no matter what. However, most buyers are rightly sceptical and will not pay you in advance. They are as mistrustful of writers as writers are of them. They have no guarantee that you will not run off with the money. Also, very few buyers will trust unknown writers with an upfront fee because they have no idea what you are capable of. Try negotiating and remember that there is no harm in asking, but you are not likely to be taken up on your request!

2 - Draw Up A Contract - This is an excellent idea because it gives both writer and client peace of mind. However, it is only suitable for larger jobs in reality because every client knows that a writer doing a job for $50, for example, is not going to take them to court if they are not paid. It is not financially viable. However, for any jobs you do that are over $200 or $300, a contract is a must.

3 - Use A Protected Site - Finally, the best idea and way of protecting yourself! Certain sites, like Rentacoder, require the buyer to deposit the full amount agreed upon for work before you start on the project. The funds are in a neutral escrow and are released to you as soon as the buyer approves you work. There are actually writers that will only work through Rentacoder and ask all potential clients to set up a project for them rather than doing it privately. As long as you complete the work, you are guaranteed to get paid.

So there you have it, a quick guide on how to make sure you get paid! I hope that was useful for you. If you have any questions on this or any other questions that you may want to ask, just give me a shout!

Friday, 2 May 2008

Ask Me Anything!!!

Hi all! I'm back! The last couple of months have been manic here so I apologise for not posting on here a little sooner, but I am well and truly ready to go on here now so look for more posts in future weeks!

I set this blog up to help people looking to break into the world of freelance writing in the near future but in order to do that I need to know what you want to know... if you get my drift!!! This is basically an open invite to anyone with a question to ask about the world of freelance writing. Everyone looking to take a specific career path has questions about the profession they wish to go into, but the questions that I think you may ask might be completely different to those you want to know the answers to. Help me to help you!

If you have any questions that you would like me to answer then please let me know. Just drop me a line at louise.crowley@gmail.com and I will write a response on here as soon as I can. Of course I'd let you know when it's up.

Looking forward to hearing from you all! Stay tuned!!!

Friday, 22 February 2008

More On The Financials Of A Freelance Writer

I posted an article about the finances of a freelance writer yesterday and wanted to say a little bit more about it today because it is an important part of the profession. Many writers struggle to make a living out of freelance writing for years but with a litle planning there is no need to go back to a 9-5 job at all.

Business banking is an important part of having your own business so you should take the time to look around for a good deal. Many will now give fee free banking for a period of anywhere between six months and eighteen months. You should choose a good plan with as many months fee free as you can because this will give you opportunity to plan and this is the most important thing.

Planning will give your writing creer longevity because you can get and keep your finances in order right from the start. Plan out expenses in advance and always over-project them so you are not left short of cash. That includes everything from overheads like rent and utilities to expenses for software, travel and other facilities you may need.

I do advise any writer to have a least two savings accounts in addition to the main business account because you will need one for tax payments and one for emergencies. It is essential that you make tax payments into your savings account every time you get paid so that you are not left short when you do get your bill through. You should put as much as you can in the other savings account every month too. The beauty of writing today is that there is a massive demand for it as a result of the Internet but you may find that you do not have work from time to time if a contract comes to an end and you have to find work, for example. It is always better to be safe than sorry!

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Managing Your Business Finances Effectively

There is a lot to deal with when you finally quit the dreaded office job and try to make a go of it as a full time writer. Finally turning a hobby into a career was a bit of an eye opener for me personally because I didn’t realise just what was involved. I had done a lot of research but nothing will prepare you for that day when you sit in your home office and begin work for the first time. Whilst I got used to a lot of elements of owning my own business quickly, one thing that did take me a little time to adapt to was the financial aspect of running my own business.

It is very difficult going from a regular income each and every month to getting paid by clients as and when the work is completed. I had purposely built up a list of clients before I left my job and really landed on my feet, but it does take some managing. For example, you have to be able to budget for bills, put tax payments away and make sure that you have an emergency fund should something go wrong. However, the most pressing aspect of it is making sure that you can buy the equipment you need to be able to work effectively and efficiently within a few months of branching out on your own.

There are two ways to do this. The first is business banking. You could apply for a loan via your business banking provider. You should set up business banking before you start because you are much better equipped to manage your finances that way. Business banking loans are the same as normal loans in many ways but they go on your business rather than your own name and credit report. As such, you may be in debt for the first few years of your business.

However, there is another solution. If you plan out the equipment that you need (computer, printer, fax, filing cabinets, desk etc) then you will be able to plan your saving and spending in advance. You may be able to obtain a cash advance via a payday loan. The beauty of payday loans is that there is no credit check and you could borrow money via one for equipment before your last regular salary payment or even afterwards as long as you have money coming in. Some companies that offer payday loans do accept applications from the self-employed. The great thing is that you avoid being in debt over a fixed period because it is payable when you get paid, so you get no debt and the stuff you need to get started!

Friday, 8 February 2008

Build Your Skills By Writing Reviews

If you're planning to be a freelance writer in the future then your immediate problem is knowing where to start. It took me months to figure it out and years before I could go full time. Now that I am, I wouldn't change it for the world! It is a long hard journey and it doesn't get any easier when you have made that first step but it does get much more enjoyable.

I have never undertaken a formal education as a writer. Instead, I have worked on my skills on the job itself. The majority of work I initially completed was unpaid just to build up a clients and contacts list but I did manage to make money on the side from what was essentially a hobby back then.

There is a website that will pay you for your opinions and enable you to build up your skills at the same time. In fact, there are quite a few. You will never earn very much off them, but there is something much more important up for grabs. The other members will help you. You write reviews of products, post them and then the members will often message you with hints and tips.

The material you write will very rarely be useful in any major writing jobs,but the advice will be priceless. Your basic writing style will shine through and they will assess it for you, pointing out weaknesses for you to work on.

The site is called Ciao! and you can access it and sign up for free by clicking the banner below. It is a useful starting point for you if you do want a little help. As a member, if you do post a review on there then let me know because I'll be happy to offer any constructive feedback that I can to help.

Friday, 25 January 2008

The Benefits Of Journalling

The journal is an important part of every freelance writer's toolkit. Whether you are an experienced writer with several years in the field under your belt or a novice that has yet to begin typing that all important first article, a journal can really get your juice flowing and ideas moving through the creative filter inside your mind.

Many people make the excuse that they do not have time to keep a journal, and many don't... but if you are a writer then you should make time because it could be a great foundation for your career. Many writers benefit from their journals for a variety of reasons, and it is this range of reasons that provide the benefits and advantages of the journal:

Refine Your Style - A journal gives you the perfect opportunity to hone your style. Many writers do not have one definitive style of writing when they begin to build a career, and this is why some buyers and employers will reject your work. They want one specific style the majority of the time so that you display consistancy. In other words, they know in advance what they are paying for! There is nothing wrong with being versatile and mastering several styles, but you must be comfortable with one in particular if you are to make it! A journal is the perfect forum to do that because you can experiment before finding your own style.

Evolve Your Ideas - If you have ideas, you can initially use a journal to jot them down and work on them as and when you like. If nothing comes of them to start with then they are there to tap into at a later date.

Critique Your Own Work - You can use a journal to spot holes in your own work. It is best to do this on a regular basis so you can spot any changes and weaknesses. Once a month is roughly about the regularity at which you should take a look at your work and make a few notes and goals. It is important for a writer to be able to critique his or her own work in order to evolve and get better so it is a technique that you must work on right from the start. A journal is the best possible way to do this because it keeps everything in the one place.

Of course, there are more benefits and advantages, but from a beginner's point of view, the three above are the most important. When you have been keeping a journal for some time, maybe around six months or so, you can begin to keep another important book, which is an extension of the journal. This is the ideas book. Check back shortly for more information and a quick guide to get you started!

Monday, 14 January 2008

5 Essential Skills For Budding Freelance Writers

5 Types of Article You Can Write

by David Goldsmith

If you always write the same type of article then you are probably limiting your chances of getting published. Look at your favorite publications and you will see they print a variety of types of article. Here are five of the most popular types.

The ‘How To’ Article

This is a very popular type of article, in which you tell the reader how to do something. It could be how to build a garage, how to write a book, how to sell a house, or how to clean tar off a pair of trousers. These articles tend to be particularly popular because people love to find out how to do something.

When writing how to do something, and if the sequence is important, then it is a good idea to number each step. Remember to keep your instructions simple, yet specific. And you could even use a picture or illustration if the publication allows it.

The ‘List’ Article

The list article is an article that lists several related pieces of information, and is one of the easiest types of article to write. It could be “10 Ways to Save Money”, “5 Flowers to Plant In April”, or “The Best 12 Places to Live in Canada”. A list article should have:

• An introduction.
• The list; each item may be a paragraph or two.
• A conclusion.

The ‘Roundup’ Article

In the roundup article, you provide a roundup of information, statements, or opinions from a variety of sources. You might interview a number of experts, for example, and ask them the same list of questions. In your article you then write a roundup of the answers, e.g.

“Bill Jones, CEO of SHJ Limited, is confident that the market will turn around soon. “Within the next six weeks at most”, he predicted. But Tom Sloane, at Pickwick Associates, disagrees. He explains why…”

The 'Inspirational' Article

Inspiration articles include inspirational narrative, essays, articles on faith and religion, and self-help articles.

Do you know of an issue or concern that affects many people? Think of your own every day experiences. Write about the issue… and help the readers to deal with life and to improve themselves in some way.

The ‘As Told To’ Article

Because many of the people who have outstanding experiences are not writers, there is a market for writing those people’s stories. This is quite similar to ghostwriting, except that in this case the audience knows that you are the writer. In the credits, you would show “By Peter Wallace [subject], as told to Jim Davies…” [writer].

Instead of writing a third-person narrative of the event, the ‘As Told To’ article makes the tale more real and personal by using the first-person.

So next time you are about to write an article, pause… and ask which type of article would best suit your situation and topic. By varying the types of articles you write your writing will also develop a new depth and your articles will be picked up by a much wider variety of publications.

About the Author

David Goldsmith is a freelance consultant and writer. For more information on writing, he recommends Worldwide Freelance Writer. For more information on freelance writing and a database of more than 1,700 writing markets, visit http://www.WorldwideFreelance.com

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Websites To Kick Start Your Writing Career Part 1


When you embark on a career in writing, you'll probably have an idea of where you want to go in mind. Whether you want to work for a magazine, newspaper, within a specific industry or see your name on the front of a paperback, you can't just expect to get to your destination as soon as you start to write seriously. As the old saying goes, everyone has to start somewhere! The advent of the Internet can help you!

Not only has the Internet opened up more jobs than ever before for freelance writers but it has given them a base to launch their career off, and working on various Internet sites can give you a great foundation. Every now and again, I will be posting some of the sites out there that can get you start with a quick review and a link so you can go right to the site and get started! They all offer an assortment of projects that can give you experience in various areas of writing and can help you to earn cash along the way!

1 - Rent A Coder - Rent A Coder is undoubtedly one of the best websites out there for starting off your writing career. There are hundreds of projects posted every single day concerning a huge variety of skills, from proofing and editing to articles to white papers to sales letters to press releases! It's all there. There are also a large number of buyers on there that will go out of their way to hire new people to the site to give them a leg up as well as those looking to form long term relationships with writers as well. Better still, the nature of the site means that all funds for jobs are escrowed before you start work on them so you are guaranteed to get paid if you complete the work. There's absolutely no chance of getting stiffed! Signing up is completely free as well, as is bidding for as many jobs as you like! What more could you ask for?

2 - Get A Freelancer - Get A Freelancer is also a great site for beginners because there are plenty of buyers on there that will accept bids for jobs from people that have never written professionally before. It is free to sign up but you do stand a better chance of getting a project on there if you sign up for gold membership, which currently stands at $12 a month. Of course, it is easy to make this money back! It is easier to withdraw money from GAF than most sites because you can have your own debit card. You can have the funds that you have earned transfered into that account and withdraw it at ATMs, which beats waiting for it to be transferred! Finally GAF is one of the easiest sites to work out! Just log on, post a message to buyers offering the jobs you want and away you go!

So there you have it - the first two sites you can look at for getting a foot on the writing ladder! More coming very soon so watch this space!

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

The Rocky Road To Freelance Writing

No matter what age you are, you are never too young or too old to start writing with a view to doing it for a living. Everybody can write but very few can do it well enough to make a living from it. If you are one of that number that has a gift for writing then you should nurture your talent and actively look to make the most of it. Today is as good a day to start as any - new year, new opportunities!

There is much more to being a freelance writer than meets the eye. However, there has never been a better time for trying to forge a career out of it. The Internet has opened up a wealth of opportunities for the individual find work, but there are three rules that you have to adhere to in order to get started on the right foot. They are as follows:

Rule One - Know Your Ability!

Freelance writers are often amongst the most self-doubting people on the Earth. Very often, they do not recognise exactly what they can do. This includes both strengths and weaknesses. However, having the ability to accurately assess your skills will help you to figure out exactly what projects you could do and which ones you should avoid. For example, some great writers can just reel off an article in ten minutes flat, whereas others need to plan it all out and take 30 minutes to an hour. The subject matter may be the same, as may the quality, but the latter kind of writer should probably avoid tight deadlines. Of course, there are many situations that this applies to but the rule is the same for all of them.

Rule Two - Gain Exposure

If you started writing yesterday then you are not going to make money from it tomorrow, unless you are very very lucky! 99.9% of writers will need a day job when they get going if they want to pay the bills, but they will obviously need to gain exposure by working on the side. You can use a website that offers a bidding system for individuals looking for writing work. Rentacoder and Guru are great sites for that. Alternatively, you could set up a blog or complete article projects for free. All of those options will get your name out there and help you to build a reputation.

Rule Three - Constantly Look To Improve

There are so many freelance writing skills today that a good writer has to have a working knowledge of several if he or she wants to compete with their fellow writers for a client list! Many clients will require a writer that can complete press releases as well as generic articles, for example. You should do all you can to build your repertoire of skills so that you appeal to more clients whenever you get the chance!

There you hae it - the three golden rules! Stick to these when you are first starting out and you will not go far wrong!