Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Are You Committed to Writing?

If you are committed to being a freelance writer, you will need to have a marketing plan in place. You will also have a commitment to learning the craft of writing on various subjects; how to calculate the keyword density for the articles you write that require SEO keywords as part of the requirement given you by the client. You must also commit to writing something every day. You can’t just hang out and then write when you get the next assignment.

You need to build up clips. Clips come from writing, take a guess at what you need to do. Write, write, write, and write. If you are not willing to make this commitment, you are probably not going to make it as a freelance writer. It takes a commitment to writing, improving, learning, marketing, and promoting to make it as a beginning freelance writer, and even after you are established. No writer can rest on their laurels, especially the freelance writer. A freelance writer must work doubly on staying in the mind of clients and working on finding the next client, unless you work in-house for some company and they find your clients. If you want to keep busy, you will have to spend more time looking for work, than actually writing.
If as a freelance writer, you are not willing to do the work finding jobs and promoting yourself, you probably won’t make it in the freelance writing arena. Marketing and promoting have become an integral part of every writer’s life, not just the freelance writer. Especially as the economy slows down and companies merge, they can do the promoting for you any longer. You will need to reinvent yourself with almost every piece of copy you write.

Learn, read, and above all practice your trade. Learn to write press releases for your business to let people know you are there. Also look at the copy from businesses in your community, see if you can make it better. Approach the local Chamber of Commerce, social clubs, fraternal organizations, your church, and work on their newsletters, and pamphlets. Anything you can do to learn the art of freelance writing. Write web content for organizations, or church you belong to; any kind of writing to gain practice in the various types of writing freelancers write for a living.

If you cannot maintain this type of commitment, you should reconsider your choice of becoming a freelance writer.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Being Tagged to Write a Christmas Story

Thanks to my friend, Lea, I wrote one and posted it on my website, Stormy Writer.

It is my business website that has been newly created. It will be a work in progress to keep it fresh.

My Website

I have been working on a website which all writers should have.
My friend Paidra made this video for me which I added to my landing page.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Business Side of Freelance Writing

Unless you work for a company that takes care of the business side of wring, you as an independent contractor will have to wear many hats besides writer. Most writers are not tax professionals, therefore, find one, and learn how to set up a file to track income and expenditures. What expenditures are deductible, what equipment and supplies, mail expenditures, and so on? This needs to be something to get straight before your first client. If you don't things may come back to haunt you with and IRS audit. Is some form of continuing education allowed? So many questions need to be asked. I can't answer them here; I'm not an accountant, or a tax professional.

You will have to create a marketing plan, possibly send out press releases and more to brand yourself of doing business as, or however you choose to set up your freelance writing business. Should you incorporate, establish a LLC, or just doing business as (DBA)? There is more than just writing that you need to take care of before you begin writing. One of the main things is; why do you want to be a freelance writer?

Anyone that things they can just sit down and write to make a lot of money is dead wrong. There are so many pitfalls for the beginning writer, someone could write a book about it. The main one is pay per article. Many job sites where you can find work, the people looking for writers what a Ray Bradbury quality but pay less than $0.01 per word, some as low as $0.006 per word. Anything less than a minimum of $0.05 per word is taking advantage of the writer, including the aspiring freelance writer, and should be bypassed. If writers work for these extremely low wages, it will lower the overall rates for writers.

If someone wants a specific type of article, say a SEO keyword article, they should be willing to pay for the expertise of the writer at a decent rate per word or article. If they want to offer low pay, then they should get what they ask for, some inexperienced writer who doesn’t know how to write that type of article.
Contrary to the belief of some, not everyone can sit down and write an article. Articles are nonfiction and take time to research and to string the words and keywords in a proper manner to make the article or web content search engine friendly. It take sitting down and writing the article in a specific manner and then having your work being overlooked by the client and most likely you will be asked for some revisions. If you have a thin skin and take things to heart, freelance writing is not for you, and you should look into something else.

As a freelance writer, you have the opportunity to learn new things and to write about them. You might have to visit the library and do online research to gain enough information to write the article your client wants. You will also have to know how long it will take you to research and to write the article. You might have a short deadline. These are the things that you will have to know, in order to calculate, and set your price on the project.

Good luck in your writing.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Freelance Writers Must be Proactive

Work will not come to freelance writers on its own accord; you must be proactive in searching for the writing jobs.

What does proactive mean? It means you need to get your butt out of the chair and visit businesses and other places that could use your writing talents to help them with their materials. Most businesses can use a professional writer for their marketing materials, brochures, newsletters and even e-mail marketing letters. There are manuals and educational materials for the employees, management guides, and more that need writing for businesses. People looking for a specific position need resumes geared toward position.

There are many types of writing for the freelance writer to handle for many people, businesses and web sites, but the freelance writer has to find them and work hard at getting the assignment, they are not going to come to the person waiting for them, they come to the person hunting them out and applying for them.

In many cases, the freelance writer will spend more time looking for work than writing until he or she becomes known enough for clients to seek them out for assignments through referrals from other satisfied clients. You satisfy clients by doing good work, and never missing a deadline.

If you take on a project, you need to make sure you can do a good job within the time frame the client gives you to complete it. You will have to know how you work and how long it will take you to complete and what a fair price is. You also might have to negotiate with the client to determine what a fair price is. You will need to make sure you have a complete picture of what the assignment entails by asking the proper questions of the client before saying yes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What are the characteristics of a freelance writer?

The main characteristics of the freelance writer are the ability to park his or her ego at the door, a huge amount of patience and perseverance. Without theses character traits, you won’t last long in the freelance writing business.

If you plan to operate a one-person operation you will need to learn about business plans, marketing, accounting, promoting, diversifying your writing, production techniques, and a personnel department all rolled into one. Isn’t that fun to contemplate?

As a freelance writer, you are at the mercy of the client. You may write the best copy, but the client may think he knows better and you might be rewriting the piece many times, possibly making it something that you know is bad, now you must be a diplomat while you try to convince the client that what you wrote is good. Since freelance writing is a service business, the client is always right. Even if you know better, the client’s word is the final say. You’ll find this with editors also.

Now you know why you need to leave your ego at the door. If you don’t, you could lose jobs and have a reputation as someone not to give assignments to write. You’ll wonder what is wrong and why you aren’t getting writing jobs and will not know.
Remember that rewrites are part of the game. If you take it personally, you are in trouble. Just remember that the client has the last word and you’ll do fine.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Aspiring Freelance Writer's Catch-22

Writing is work, and to come up with original work is not easy and to work just to get clips or for small pay is wrong. Have patience and the work will come in time.

What are clips? Clips are samples of your writing, so the client can see how you put words together to create tone, and to check your grammar and punctuation skills. Clips are samples of your published writing, No clips. This might be true for aspiring writers. Anything you have written, letters to the editor, a newspaper column, or something that shows you can write.

A prospective client may ask for a writing sample when applying for a job.

The Catch-22 comes from clients wanting experience when you have none, and how can you get experience if no one hires your for a job. This is something that many new freelance writers face on a daily basis. The best thing you can do is to write something every day while you continue looking for someone to hire you. This does not mean to hire out for peanuts or free. Freelance writers, whether new or seasoned should never write free, or for low pay.

Writing is work, and to come up with original work is not easy and to work just to get clips or for small pay is wrong. Have patience and work will come to you in time. One thing writers need is a boatload of patience, and a thick skin.

New writers have a tendency to be willing to work for any amount just to become a published author. This is wrong on many levels. The main thing this does is to diminish the work of all writers by working for an unrealistic amount for your hard work. Some clients love to find someone they can take advantage of, if you write for a pittance, they are taking advantage of as a professional.

This is another point of the Catch-22, taken advantage of because you want to gain clips.

Friday, November 7, 2008

What is in your writer's library?

Every writer needs a good collection of books and some software in their writer’s library.

Each writer will have his or her own favorite writing books. Numerous books on writing are available for various stores and online. Writers are free to choose whichever ones work for them.

Anyone that wants to be a writer needs some of the following books in his or her library:

A good dictionary, like the Merriam-Webster Collegiate
A good Thesaurus

The Chicago Manual of Style

If you write journalistic articles, or web content, a current Associated Press Guide to Newswriting.

If you write academic writing, a current MLA and APA may need to be in your library.

All writers should also consider a copy of Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

For those writers that wish to write Science Fiction, consider an old book, The Engines of the Night by Barry N. Malzberg (It is an out of print book, but you may be able to find a copy.)

The best thing any writer can do to help them learn their craft, it to READ in the genre you want to write.

On a personal note: A program called WordWeb Pro is a very helpful program which I use often.

Also, consider subscribing to Merriam-Webster online. For $29.95, you have access to a number of dictionaries, a thesaurus, and an encyclopedia online. You can sign up at Merriam-Webster Online.

Many publishers want documents in Word 97-2003 Document. If you happen to have Microsoft Office 2007, you have to option to save as Word 97-2003. It seems the Word 2007 has its own extension that some people may have trouble reading with older versions of Word.

Monday, November 3, 2008

So, you want to be a Freelance Writer

Becoming a freelance writer is the easy part. All you need is a computer and some basic knowledge of English. Then you write non-fiction articles. You are a freelance writer.

Now, if you want to be a published Freelance Writer, we are talking something different and more difficult. You can go to sites like Helium, and other sites where you can write for free, and hope for the best.

There are sites where you can bid on writing jobs. These sites are looking for the new and aspiring writer to work for peanuts. If you want to make money at freelance writing, you will have to work hard and not accept assignments that pay low wages per article, thereby lessening your worth as a writer, and other writers.

Freelance writing takes a special type of writer. A writer capable of writing on a number of different subjects, plus ghost writing, SEO web content, and copywriting to name a few types of writing projects.

A freelance writer needs to be a self-starter and able to meet deadlines. Many times, a writer will have to work under a short deadline to complete the assignment, he or she must be able to research, and complete the writing task on time. A professional writer NEVER misses a deadline. To miss a deadline or come up with excuses as to why you cannot finish the writing, says you are an amateur. In the eyes of the client, if a writer misses a deadline, it gives all writers a black eye.

It is better to pass on an assignment that you cannot complete within the deadline. You do not want to burn any bridges with clients. See if you can negotiate for a bit of extra time, or explain why you must pass on the assignment at this time. A freelance writer always needs to keep avenues of writing open with clients.

Freelance Writing is a job, just like any job that pays the bills. Writers need to approach it like one. When you as a writer, take on a writing assignment from a client, you owe your client the best work you are capable of producing. Anything less than a writer’s best should be unacceptable to the writer. If a writer does not do his or her best, then they should not have taken the assignment in the first place.

Do you still want to be a Freelance Writer?

Friday, October 31, 2008

What is Freelance Writing?

More than just defining what freelance writing is, the better question is, why would someone want to be a freelance writer in the first place?

Ask any writer why they are a freelance writer, and you will get just as many answers, as the number of writers you ask. It is simple, working alone; the number of different types of projects, and learning new things has always tweaked an internal need, and interest for some writers.

When doing research for an article, one needs to fact check for accuracy and substance of the article. It is this desire for correctness and deadlines that guide the freelance writer to take on an assignment, while also pushing them into a sometimes-uncomfortable area.

When writing within a writer's comfort zone, sometimes makes the writer lazy, if they become too comfortable. When a writer is so comfortable they become lazy, the writing will reflect this and the article will suffer. No writer wants to write less than his or her best effort possible. Less than a writer’s best effort will reflect on all writers. No writer wants to let down fellow writers by submitting sub standard writing.

If anyone is thinking of getting in to the freelance writing arena, he or she should think long and hard. It takes time to build up a reputation, and an even shorter time to lose it with poor work. If you think, you are going to make a full time living by freelance writing, do not quit your day job. There are many people willing to hire the unproven writer, but, for very little money.

Some people looking for writers are seeking someone to write for peanuts. If writers allow themselves to work for nothing, it brings down the hard working writers with experience.

Anyone wanting to get into writing should take some take some refresher courses in English. Only when the writer has a good working knowledge of grammar and punctuation, can they write well enough for the client’s needs. If a writer does not know the rules, they will not know when, or which one to break under certain situations. Take a course in English at a community college or a university to brush up on your grammar and punctuation skills before attempting to get into freelance writing, or any type of writing you wish to pursue.

People are under the false impression that a spell and grammar check found in most word processing programs is sufficient. WRONG! All a spell checker does it to tell you whether, or not the writer spelled the word correctly; not if it is the right word; as Mark Twain said, “The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

If a writer does not understand the quote above, he or she, needs to learn.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A new career path

This is the beginning of a new career path for me.

I will be writing about the ins and outs of Freelance Writing on this blog.

I will be posting about Freelance Writing, and the pros and cons of Freelance Writing as a way of making money; also, what is needed to become a full-time writer from home.