Category Archives: Inspiration

An Introduction of Sorts…


Over the last couple of days, I’ve been called quite a few things. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Feminazi
  • Witty
  • Bleeding-heart liberal
  • Opinionated
  • Unfair
  • Eloquent
  • Unbalanced
  • Brilliant
  • Hateful
  • Sarcastic
  • Big-mouthed
  • Bitchy
  • Smart

I’m shocked “stupid” wasn’t bandied about, but hey, I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. ūüôā

Just for fun, and by way of an introduction to my new followers (Hello and Welcome!), I’m going to offer my opinion on each of these descriptions. Cuz, y’know, why not.

Feminazi –¬†If refusing to remain silent while men wage war against women’s rights, shouting down loud-mouthed blowhards, and demanding that women have not equal but the majority say over what goes into and comes out of their bodies makes me a feminazi, then by God, I’ll carry the scepter, and wear the¬†tiara¬†and sash proudly while I take care of my family, build my career and have sex when and with whom I choose, thank-you-very-much!

Witty –¬†Well, thank you. I’d say I try, but honestly, I have to try harder NOT to be humorous. That’s not meant to be conceited, I really have a hard time not letting some sort of humor leak into everything I write. When you write dry, boring copy for a living, fighting the urge to be (or attempt to be) funny is hard. That’s part of the reason for why I blog. *I* need an outlet. ūüôā Imagine a bowl of bran flakes….with a fruit loop in thrown in. Finish that joke however you wish.

Bleeding-heart Liberal –¬† Not really a fair assessment, and I will explain why later.

Opinionated –¬†Gee…me? Nah, I don’t have an opinion on¬†anything.¬†And even if I did, I would never, ever deign to share it.

Unfair –¬†I think that assessment is unfair. I try to show all facets of an issue before offering my opinion, unless the issue is so ridiculous that there is really no other facet to show other than the ridiculousness of the issue.

Eloquent –¬†Thanks…I try! Not very eloquent, but heartfelt!

Unbalanced –¬†Now see, I don’t know if the person who said this meant “unbalanced” as in only showing one side of the story, or “unbalanced” as in I need to be fitted for a straight jacket and prepped for a frontal¬†lobotomy. Then again, it could mean both. But to quote Sheldon (from The Big Bang Theory), “I’m not crazy. My mother had me tested.”

Brilliant –¬†Really smart? According to the tests, yes. Am I capable of moments of brilliance? Of course. We all are. But brilliant? Nah…I just know what my gifts are and try to use them to their fullest as much as possible. But thank you for the compliment!

Hateful –¬†Nope. I’m not a hateful person. I don’t hate anyone or anything. Hate is a wasted emotion. You spend all this time hating someone, but you never tell that person why you hate them. So, they’re off living their life, smelling flowers and whistling a happy tune, and you’re curled up in the fetal position on your bed, suffering from migraines, ulcers and for the life if it, cannot understand why you’re leading a miserable life. What’s wrong with that picture?

Sarcastic –¬†You must be new here. Cuz I can hide my sarcasm for about five whole seconds. It’s harder to control than my humor. Don’t believe me? Check out practically any other post on this blog — sarcasm enters around word 50 (sometimes earlier) and doesn’t leave until I end the post. But I really think I’m more snarky than sarcastic, but oh well, po-tay-to, po-tah-to. It was still a swing and a miss in the insult department.

Big-mouhted –¬†I think this one is a bit off the mark, and really doesn’t make much sense considering this is prose and not spoken word. If I wanted to be a big mouth on screen, I’d have to¬†TYPE EVERYTHING IN CAPS AND BOLD IT SO I’D BE SURE YOU SAW IT. I’D ALSO ADD SEVERAL COLORS SO EVERYTHING STOOD OUT, AND USE LOTS OF “!!!!” TO MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTOOD MY POINT!!!¬†

But that’s not how I roll, so nah, wrong again.

Bitchy – Yeah, I can be. I don’t argue that. Matter of fact, I embrace my inner bitch. I wish more people would do that, there would be much less heartache in the world. ¬†But I really believe I’m bitchy only when justified, and I don’t think I’ve been particularly bitchy in this blog. But I have had my moments. LOL

Smart –¬†Yeah, okay. Thanks. ūüôā

So, that’s what others think of me and how I feel about what others think of me. Now, here’s who I know I am:

I’m a woman with an opinion who is not afraid to express it. If I read, see or hear of an injustice, an act of stupidity or other uncalled for occurrence, I will drag it out of the dark corner where it is trying to hide and expose it for what it really is. I will defend the things I believe in until I’m hoarse and my fingers bleed. If you come at me, take your best shot, cuz when I fire back, I. Won’t. Miss.

I’m a liberal who believes that those in the position to help others, should. I also believe that once you’ve been helped, you need to move to the other side of the column and become a helper yourself. If you don’t — if you continue to seek help when you could do for yourself, or you refuse to help others as you were helped, you’ll have to answer to me. And you’d better have a damn good excuse.

I believe that if you don’t vote, you don’t get to bitch. Spare me the “my one vote isn’t going to make a difference”, “the whole political process is rigged” and “our voices aren’t heard anyway” mumbo jumbo. Even if any and all of that is true, our forefathers died so we could vote. If we end up in a situation you don’t like and you did nothing about it, other than¬†complain¬†that the system is broken, I don’t want to hear it. Move on.

I believe everyone should have the right to love who they want, and if they want to get married, they’re crazy more power to them. (Did I mention I’m divorced? lol)

I’m a writer, a designer, a mother, a daughter a sister and a friend. I love deeply and am loyal to a fault. I’m kind to furry woodland creatures, share my toys and color inside the lines (usually).

But most of all, I love being here. It’s beats the hell out of the alternative. I’d rather smell the daisies than push them up from the other side.

And that, ladies and gents, is who I am, or at least a brief synopsis. And that’s who writes this blog. I hope you’ll stick around and see what I have to say. I’m sure it will only get more¬†interesting¬†as the months progress.

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How To Make Money Writing for Content Sites


We’ve all heard the complaints — content sites (or content mills) are screwing up the industry. Content sites provide poor content. There’s no money to be made writing for content sites. Google all but killed content sites.

Blah blah blah…yadda yadda yadda.

Now, I’m not a fan of content sites, but I also don’t believe in biting the hand that fed me, and for several years, that’s exactly what they did. If it weren’t for some of the articles I wrote for content sites, (And I wrote some damn fine articles, I might add!), I would not be in the position I’m in now.

(Yes, it’s a good position, more about that in a future post.)

Even though the Google Panda has stripped much of the leaves from the content mill eucalyptus tree, you can still make money writing for content sites. Here are a couple of tips to help you out.

1. Focus on what you know. Choose topics you can write about in your sleep. Take full advantage of the search feature each site has, and find titles that are easy for you. It will take less time to write the article and since it’s a topic with which you are familiar, you’ll enjoy it more. If you run into a bunch of articles on the same topic, grab as many as you can. [There is an art to doing several articles on the same subject without tripping the plagiarism flag. I’ll come back to that.]

2. Branch away from your comfort zone. This may seem to counter what I said above, but it doesn’t. While writing what you know will bring in the bulk of your writing income, picking up one or two titles out of your comfort zone will help you in the long term. I mean, you weren’t always an expert in your main topic, were you? Of course not. So pick a title or two that you are interested in learning about more, and do the research and write about it. After a few articles, your comfort level with the topic will increase (and if you’re like me, you’ll read about it every time you get a chance). Before you know it, you’ll have TWO topics that fit the “Focus on what you know” category.

3. Share your work. Some people who write for content sites don’t like to admit they write for content sites. Sometimes it’s because of the reputation of the site, or maybe an editor screwed up an article and the writer doesn’t want to be associated with it. Well, that’s nonsense. Here’s the thing about the writing/publishing industry: Everyone knows that writers are edited, and everyone knows not every editor should be an editor. A few bad articles are not worth burying your byline and losing the exposure, especially when you’re starting out. So share your articles with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Post links to them on your blog. But if you’re that concerned about the quality of your articles, write a post explaining that the errors were introduced through an “editing oversight”. Of course, my solution would be to not write for the content site, which leads me to…

4. Choose your sites carefully. I know that when the economy is bad, you have to do things you normally wouldn’t do to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head and clothes on your back. However, you have to think long-term here. If you plan to build a career as a writer, you want your clips to be respected, and sometimes you have to consider the source. Some sites have better reputations than others, and some sites have NO reputation. Before you agree to lend a site your byline, take a careful look at the content that is already there. Is it stuff you would read, or did you cringe during the first sentence? Does the site present itself well? Take these factors into consideration before you publish with them.

5. Take your work seriously. You might “just write for a content mill,” but you never know when an article will attract someone’s attention. I have landed several well-paying gigs because someone was surfing through eHow or BrightHub and happened across one of my articles. I’ve also had people contact me for work because a friend of a friend of a friend saw an article I wrote shared on Facebook. Don’t devalue your work by just throwing up crappy content. Take pride in it. Do your best, because you never know who’s watching.

Now, about that plag flag. Here’s how I used to write 10 different articles on the same subject, using the same sources and never NEVER got a plag flag:

1. Write article #1. Save as a draft.

2. Write articles #2 – #10, saving each as a draft.

3. Submit each article, one at a time, an hour or two apart. If you’re writing for a site with quick approvals (such as how DMS used to be and how Textbroker can be), wait for the approval before submitting the next one.

Or if you have the time to spare, submit one or two a day over several days.

So, there you have it — how to make money writing for content sites. Do you have anything to add? Questions? Comments? Let me have ’em.

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My Path…


is being laid out in front of me. I have felt like I has headed toward someplace for the last several years, and being that I’m a rather Zen person, I allowed myself to just go with the flow (for the most part). But I think my path as led me to the door I am supposed to open and walk through. It might mean the closing other other doors, but I really think I am where I am supposed to be, doing the things I’m supposed to do.

I’ve picked up skills that I really had no reason to learn, considering my career path, but they were of interest to me, and the opportunity was there, so I took it. Those skills led me to other interesting avenues and now I find I spend a lot of time using those skills, which I didn’t even think I needed at first. More to the point, no only do I use them, I enjoy using them. And since I made a point of stating here¬†that my goal is to work smarter and be an expert, I believe it is time for me to practice what I preach.

I know this all sounds cryptic, but for those of you who have been around awhile, you know how I am. When everything is ready to be revealed, I’ll reveal it. I’m really only writing this because…well…because. LOL

As soon as I am ready to make the big reveal, you all will be the first people I tell.

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Moderation


“All things in moderation.”

I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase throughout you life, in response to one issue or another. Maybe you were reaching for that fourth cookie, and you mother was telling you no. Maybe you were starting a new workout routine, and your trainer was warning you of the dangers of overdoing it. Or maybe you were turning down a beer because you didn’t want to overdo it. Whatever the reason, I’m sure you’ve heard or said the phrase.

The phrase has its place, of course, but in many ways, moderation gets in our way more than it helps us. And in the case of launching and maintaining a freelancing career, it can be the nails in the coffin.

In Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Dan Millman states this about moderation:

Moderation? It’s mediocrity, fear, and confusion in disguise. It’s the devil’s dilemma. It’s neither doing nor not doing. It’s the wobbling compromise that makes no one happy. Moderation is for the bland, the apologetic, for the fence-sitters of the world afraid to take a stand. It’s for those afraid to laugh or cry, for those afraid to live or die. Moderation…is lukewarm tea, the devil’s own brew.

Now take a moment and think about what he’s saying. Have you ever not done something because it was easier than doing it? Have you ever stepped down from a viewpoint or challenge because others said it was impossible, stupid or foolish? Have you ever set aside a dream because it seemed like other things were more important?

That, my friends is a form of moderation. And for a freelancer, not doing things because they might be hard or out of our comfort zone, cow-towing to a bully client, taking jobs that are beneath what we’re worth or not trying something because we might fail is a form of moderation we simply cannot afford.

When I make a cup of tea (well, I’m more of a coffee drinker), and it gets cold, I don’t want to drink it. At this point, I can do one of three things: dump it out, warm it up or add ice and make iced coffee.

Dumping it out = giving up.

Warming it up = trying again

Making iced coffee = creativity and innovation

Now, you tell me: which of the three things above cannot be an option for a freelancer?

So, keep the moderation when it comes to diet, exercise and the 6-pack, but toss it out the window where your career is concerned. If failure and giving up are not available options, they cannot occur.

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Nano — Day Three


Yeah, so this is my first post in November, but I have been working on my Nano novel. I’m at just under 3,400 words, so I still need to knock out some words tonight, but I’m kinda proud that I worked on it two days in a row.

The only problem — I don’t like what I’ve written so far.

I don’t know if I’m not far enough into it to really enjoy writing it, or if my idea is fizzling out..but this is not much fun for me right now.

Then again, sometimes writing isn’t fun, so I’m going to power through today and see if I like where things are going. Otherwise, I might scrap this idea and work on another idea I had. It all still counts toward the word count anyway, right?

I’m going to assume you’re all nodding your heads in agreement.

OK — off to do some Nano’ing.

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No More Do-overs!


I have a game on my phone that I play a lot called Basketball Shot. Basically, you flick the ball in the hoop as fast as you can, and try to score as many points possible in a set time period. Each level has a score you have to beat to advance.

Well, being the geek that I am, I pretty much figured out early on that you want to pad your score as much as possible in the early stages, because as the game progresses, there is less time, but you still have to meet that level’s score. So, I have benchmarks set that I have to meet in each of the first three stages. If I don’t meet them, I reset the game and try again.

A couple of days ago, as I was about to reset the game for probably the tenth time, it hit me. I’m addicted to do-overs. If things don’t go well when I first start them, I either chuck the whole project and start again, or more in my nature, I move on to something else. Another way of looking at it — if it’s too hard, I look for something easier. Something I know I can accomplish without even trying.

I cannot tell you how many opportunities I’ve missed because of this mindset, and I’d bet you’ve fallen victim to it as well.

  • Have you ever seen an ad for a job that you would love to have, but one of the qualifications would take you out of your comfort zone, so you didn’t apply?
  • Have you ever turned down a writing gig because it would require you to do something you’ve never done before (interview a client, cold call business, write in a style format you didn’t know)?
  • Talked yourself out of doing something you really wanted to do because it might require a risk of some sort (relocation, pushing other work to the side, others might gripe about it)?

Sure, you had your reasons for why you walked way from these opportunities, but were they good reasons?

So, I’ve decided: No more do-overs. No more walking away from opportunities because of fear of the unknown, or because it might be hard or I might fail.

In my head, the only real way to fail is to not even try, or worse, to try and give up because of what might happen. This is no longer acceptable.

I decided several years ago that, I was really only going to pursue things that made me happy. I guess I should have included the caveat that some of these things might be hard, but to go ahead and do them anyway. But I guess its never too late to change ones life philosophy.

So, no more do-overs or resets for me. I will do my first three stages as well as I can, and play the game out to its natural conclusion. If I win, great, if I don’t, at least I can say I stayed in the game til the end.

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Figuring Things Out


Being a generalist with a specialist bent should keep life interesting, and yet I sometimes find myself totally bored with what I am doing. But just because you love what you do, this doesn’t mean you will love it all the time. There are lots of things I enjoy doing that at times leave me cold and totally unmotivated. Not sure why I thought writing would be immune to that.

Like with anything else, you just have to find ways to keep it interesting. I’ve spent way more time on articles than I should have. Methinks it is time to branch out a bit. Remember what ignited my desire to become a writer in the first place. To that end I think I’m going to attempt NANO this year. Except I don’t think I’m going to do a novel per se. It’s going to be the shell of a screenplay instead. I also have a few passions I’m going to pursue as well, such as a website about eviction laws in the US. But that’s still in the planning stages.

So folks, the point to this ramble is this: do the stuff that puts food on your table, keeps the roof over your head, and gas in your car, but don’t forget to do the things that make you happy as well. Life is too short not to enjoy your trip around the sun.

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Post Two, Day Two


Don’t have a whole lot to say. Spent my day writing articles. I need to find new clients, because my current ones are getting on my nerves. LOL

I’m a little fed up with CEs that question everything I write. If I’m supposed to be the expert, then a CE needs to trust in that, at least to an extent. But questioning whether my definition of “overhead account” is correct because, “all companies have overhead, so it doesn’t make sense that you limited it to manufacturing busineses” because that’s what you BELIEVE is going a bit around the bend.

FYI – An overhead account is a term used for a manufacturing business to record the expenses incurred during the production process. Yes, all businesses have overhead, but really, that term is misused for any business that doesn’t manufacture goods. For all over businesses, “Expenses” is adequate.

Anyhow, my day has been spent dealing with CEs who seem to be on a slight power trip. Maybe it’s a beginning of the month issue, or a new batch of CEs are coming through and trying to prove themselves. Eh, whatever.

Upward and onward. The search for new and better clients begins tomorrow.

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Change Is In the Air


So, it’s the last day of the month, and as I review my activities for the month, three words spring to mind.

So Not Impressed.

This wasn’t a good month for me, on several levels, but I’ll focus on the work-related ones here. My volume of work was WAY down, and I felt it in more ways than one. Content writing slowed, partly due to a lack of things I wanted or felt I was qualified to write. This is the first month I failed to gain a new client, and my current clients have slowed. Not exactly how I wanted to end a fiscal quarter.

The things I did write, while they were good, left me rather unsatisfied. Most of the things I love to write about weren’t plentiful, so I found myself writing about things I could really not give two flips about. Again, what I did write, I wrote well and my clients were satisfied, but past that, meh.

So, I guess it is time to revisit getting back into the feature writing game. for a while there, I was making a pretty good name for myself, but I got tired of the merry-go-round or query in May for an article that might run in November and pay out in January. With all the technological advances, I’m sure the process is shortened, and I really do miss delving into a topic and doing interviews…I don’t know…

I just know I need to shake things up a bit. Doing what I have been doing worked for a while, but now I think its time to branch out. If not feature writing, then maybe the radio show idea I’ve kicked around for a while — or maybe something else entirey. All I know is that a change is a’comin’, so stay tuned!

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Why Content Writing?


I’ve been asked this question a lot lately. Why do I want to make a writing career out of writing “fluffy” articles about “How To Recycle a Modem” and “How To Cash a Jury-Duty Check.”

My response: “Why not?”

But, Quillie, you could be writing feature articles in big name magazines. You could be interviewing and writing about politicians, famous people, successful business magnates. You could write a best-selling novel…a Tony-winning play, an Emmy or Oscar-winning script…but instead you write, “What Determines If You Qualify For Rapid Refund”!

Why, Quillie, why?

My response: Because I want to, that’s why.

But…but…you could be making WAY more money than you are now! You could have bragging rights about where you’ve been published! You could be a success!

My response: Been there, did that. Got the t-shirt. Donated it to Goodwill. And I am a success, thank-you-very-much.

I’ve been around the freelance writing block more than once. I know the stores. I know the homes and the churches. I also know where the scary man with the van and the bag of candy is parked, the corners where the winos that just want my money slink out of, and where the smooth-talking Pimp likes to pick up the unsuspecting and¬†naive, making big promises to make them a star if they’re nice to him for just a little while…

Yes, I know the business. Sometimes, I think I know it all too well.

So, why do I choose to write content when I could be writing 1,243,675 other things? What it really boils down to is this: I write content for two reasons. I enjoy it and it’s easy.

Yeah, I said it. It’s easy. Lemme say it again:

E-A-S-Y.

Now before you accuse me of taking the path of least resistance, let me make one thing perfectly clear: You’re right. I AM taking the path of least resistance. For once, I’m not killing myself to accomplish a monumental task. I’ve done hard. I ¬†was good at hard.

But hard is, well, hard, and after a while, you get tired.

Hard work is hard work. Hard work makes you tired. Exhaustion from hard work can make you resentful…

Resentment of hard work can make you walk away from a career you loved…

For five years.

So, why did I make the leap from traditional freelancing to content writing?

Because I could. What the hard work taught me was how to optimize my time and turn my interests and talents into marketable areas. It taught me how to research quickly and effectively, write fast, and ask the right questions the first time. In other words, hard work taught me how to work smart.

I mean, jeez, people, of course I know I could be writing for national magazines and/or newspapers. Of course I could write a novel or a screenplay.

But I don’t want to. That’s not where my heart is right now.

For now, I enjoy answering the easy questions. If someone wants to know how their social security benefits are calculated, I am more than happy to answer that question. If a small business owner is struggling to choose the proper organizational structure, I’m thrilled to explain his options.

Because what is easy for me to explain might be causing others to lose sleep while looking for that information. And I get a great sense of inner satisfaction knowing that I provided information to someone seeking an answer.

It ain’t about the Pulitzer, Emmy, Oscar or Tony for me. It’s not about being able to say, “I’ve got a feature in “——-” this month.”

It never was. Not to say one day it won’t be, but for now…

Life is easy, and I’m glad for that.

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