Tag Archives: writing

Wow…


You have all rendered me speechless. Almost. 🙂

As a writer, sometimes you like things you write, and sometimes you merely peck out what you can and hope it’s not the drivel you are sure it is. It’s the nature of the beast. There are three truths you quickly learn as a writer: #1 — Not everything you write is going to be brilliant. #2 — A writer is often his own worse critic.

But then, every once in a blue moon, you write something and you know it’s the best thing you’ve ever written. Something you are totally proud of.

Yesterday’s post was one of those moments.

However, even though as the writer, you love it; even though you want to print it out, put it in a frame and hang it on your wall, you still pause before you hit the submit button. Why?

#3 — Just because YOU love it, that doesn’t mean your readers will. And if they don’t love it…

Well, there really isn’t a worse feeling for a writer.

So you can imagine my elation and excitement when the comments and emails started rolling in about my post. I smiled with every comment, email, retweet and share.

I’ve been doing a lot of smiling.

So, thanks to all of you for showing my post so much love. To my new subscribers, welcome and I’m glad you’re here.  To my old fans, thanks for the support you’ve always given me. I will do my best not to disappoint.

When I started this blog almost a year ago, I really didn’t know what I was going to write about, or if anyone even wanted to read what I had to say. I just felt compelled to share. My outrage. My joy. My amusement.

Okay – mainly my outrage, but with a tinge of amusement thrown in, because quite frankly, if I couldn’t some sliver of humor in this world’s craziness, I’d be a quivering mass under a desk somewhere.

So, you can count on me to continue to shine light on the absurd, the ludicrous and the deplorable. I will continue to rail against stupidity and the wrongdoings of others. And I hope you stick around for the ride.

The trip’s a helluva lot more fun with someone riding shotgun. 😉

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Freelancing — a Primer


It was brought to my attention yesterday that not everyone knows what a Content Site (or Content Mill) is, so I’m going to take the time to explain what a content site is, and the general process of working with one.

A content site is a company that hires freelance writers to write content for them. The content might be used on their personal site(s), or sold to another site or private customer. For example, Demand Media hires freelance writers to write content for sites they own (eHow, Cracked.com, etc.) and for partner sites such as Local.com.

Content site pay varies, but most sites pay between $8 and $20 for an article. Most articles are in the 400-500 word range. You can find a variety of things to write about, from medical conditions to legal articles. Some sites also pay on a revenue sharing platform — for every visit to the website your article generates, you get a share of the profits.

Now, for why some in the writing community refer to these sites as “content mills”. There are two reasons: first the pay is lower for a content mill than it would be if you sold articles in the traditional manner (something I’ll go into in another post). Second, the quality of the articles are not always as high as they could be. Part of this is because of the ease of being accepted to write for the site.

Which leads to my next point — to write for a content site, you apply directly to the site. Each site has a different method they use to approve writers, but most require a potential writer to fill out an application and submit a writing sample. There may be a grammar test involved as well. If your writing sample is acceptable, you’re approved to write for the site, and can select articles that interest you. Once you’ve written the article, you submit it to the site for approval. Some sites use editors who review your work, other sites send work directly to the client and they either approve the article, send the article back for revisions, or reject it. This is another area I will go into in a later post.

If your article is accepted, you get paid. Most sites pay via Paypal, though there are a few who direct deposit pay into your bank account.

And there you have it — a brief explanation into content sites. In my next post, I’ll examine the pros and cons of working for content sites. As always, if you have any questions, leave a comment or shoot me an email.

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Content Sites – Why Some Work and Why Some, Well…


If you’re a regular reader of my blog, then you know that I wrote for quite a few content sites (or content mills as their detractors referred to them). For over a year, I provided content for DemandMedia, BrightHub, SEED, BreakStudios, WiseGEEK, Interact Media, Writer Access, and Textbroker. I was busy, my schedule was crazy and I was making just enough to get by.

Then — enter the Panda, Google’s pet name for its new algorithm. Suddenly, sites that were begging for writers didn’t have work for the writers they had. Some sites were more upfront about the issues than others (I won’t beat that horse anymore, I’ll let it R.I.P.), but ultimately, Panda was too much to overcome.

First, I noticed there were never any new titles for BreakStudios. That was a bummer because I wrote some of my more, shall we say, fun and colorful articles for them. SEED was always a crap shoot, so no real loss there, though I did write one of my most favorite pieces for them.

Then BrightHub went away, and with it, so went my rev share. I had a couple of articles that returned a nice chuck of change every month, on top of the upfront money I got to write them. And finally, DMS, in true DMS fashion, basically said, “Thanks, but you might want to write for someone else…at least for now. Oh, and for the foreseeable future, too.

Now, luckily, I had seen a lot of this coming, and had been transitioning myself away from the content sites such as DMS and BrightHub. But I kept writing for sites such as Interact Media, Writer Access and Textbroker.

Why?

Simple. I quickly figured out that, although I was making less per article at these sites, I could write the articles quicker and make as much, if not more writing for them than I did slaving over a 500-word article that may or may not get past a CE, depending on what side of the bed s/he got up on, whether their coffee was to their liking or if they had been chewed out by someone five minutes before they pulled my article from their queue. To me it made sense, but a lot of people refused to write for these sites because the upfront pay was so low, and opted to stick with the higher-paying quick cash of DMS, BrightHub, etc. Now many are regretting that approach.

But there was another reason I stuck with these sites when I backed away from the others — it seemed they were less affected by Panda, and for one important reason: They weren’t guessing about what their clients/readers wanted. They took orders FROM their clients and used freelance writers to fill them. So Panda changing the algorithm didn’t really have an effect on them because they weren’t dependent on the search engines to tell them what to write, their clients were propelling the search engines.

So, I guess, if you take nothing else away from this post, remember this: research your market and pay close attention to the signs. Figure out which sites are catering to clients, and which are catering to themselves, and then decide for whose team you want to play. Me personally, I’m glad I switched sides.

How have you all fared in the days since the Panda? Are you still writing away, or are you scrambling to find new places to write?

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Houston, We’ve Got Downtime…


Today is a pretty light work day for me. My regular gig won’t start in earnest until tomorrow, and the content sites for which I do work haven’t started up for the month yet, so all I have to work on is a textbook review. Slow days like these used to bug me — I’d feel like the day was wasted. But now, I see it as an opportunity to market and promote myself in other places. So, I’m posting this blog, and I’m going to apply to gigs on some job boards and bid sites. Then I’m going to either crochet or make a piece of jewelry to add to my stock. I’ve also got a HUGE box of ceramic tiles in varying sizes and colors that are calling to me to turn them into coasters and heat pads. Told you I was crafty!

So, how do you handle “downtime” on your work days? Anything you like to do that you might not have time to do otherwise?

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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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On the Horns of a Dilemma


Ok, not really — just always wanted to use that phrase as the title of a blog post. LOL

I am, however trying to make a decision — and I am enlisting your assistance.

In my writing life, I have three basic nonfiction passions: Small business consulting, social media and renters’/real estate assistance. I really enjoy writing about those three areas. There is some overlap between small business and social media, which is cool — it’s like killing two birds with one stone (I’m all about the cliches tonight, folks!).

So, I’ve been thinking of honing an area or two for my specialist bent, and I know it will be one, if not more than one of the three above-mentioned areas…

I just can’t decide which one would be the most advantageous.

So I’m going to explain my idea for all three areas, and then I’m going to ask you which area you think would be the best one to launch. Like I said, I’ll eventually write about all three areas, but I have to start with one.

Small Business Consulting

  • helping entrepreneurs develop their business ideas
  • helping entrepreneurs research and compose their business plans, marketing materials and grants
  • general advice on starting a business (licenses, locations, determining target markets)
  • Question and answer segments when readers have questions.
The format would basically be how-to articles, with the occasional blog post-type article.
Social Media
  • All things social media — how to advertise on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
  • How to launch a social media campaign
  • How to find your target market
  • How to build rapport with your current and potential customers.
  • The dos and donts of social media
  • SEO education
  • Answering questions from readers.
The format would also be how-to articles, but more blog post-type articles.
Renters Rights / Real Estate Issues
This is actually more of a database of information regarding renter’s rights in all 50 states. I’d also include information about foreclosures, short sales, dealing with lenders and other helpful advice for people facing losing their homes — whether as renters or buyers. I’ll also take questions from readers.
And there you have it — my three ideas. I like them all, and yeah, I AM leaning toward one of them, but I really would like input from you guys so I know if I’m going in the right direction. So, please cast your vote and let me know what you think. I’ll share my decision once I get the results of the poll and decide.
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Day 11, Post…er…


I don’t know. I’m not really keeping count. I’m doing good to know it’s day 11. LOL

Spent the better part of the day applying for new gigs. Some were for content mills, others were for, well, not content mills.

Still haven’t decided to re-try my hand at feature writing. As much as I enjoy creating unique article angles, interviewing people and writing features, I really did not enjoy the adminstrative end of it all.

And no, I don’t mean the query letter. I got pretty darn good at writing those. It’s the other backend stuff that drove me batty. Namely, the waiting. Seems like I was always waiting for something.

Waiting to hear about a query.

Waiting to hear if the article was accepted.

Waiting to get paid.

Waiting. Always with the waiting.

Bleh.

Now, I’d imagine, I’d hope the process has sped up a bit, what with email, instant messaging and even Facebook, but the one drawback to writing for content mills (or at least the ones I write for) is the almost instant feedback/results and relatively quick payment for my work has made me impatient. We are living in an instant gratification world, and I’m an instant gratification girl.

(Sorry, Madonna).

But really — having to wait days, even *gasp* a week to hear back on a query might send me up a tree. Of course, I would have other things to work on while I waited, so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. And I did just spend a day applying for other places to write and I haven’t melted into a puddle of goo yet, and it’s been all of 12 – 14 hours…

Hum…

Well, I think I’m going to continue pondering whether I’m going to go the features route again. Until then, Imma just keep on doin’ what I’ve been doin’.

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Long Live General Knowledge


So, I got an email from one of my regular clients yesterday, basically announcing that, although the sites I write for will live on, the opportunities to write for them are going to decrease dramatically. This email wasn’t much of a shock, because opportunities to write for this client have decreasing steadily for a while now.

Now, of course, I’m not the only freelancer who writes for them, so getting the email wasn’t a personal affront to me. However, others seemed to view it differently.

For months….months I have been preaching that it is folly and freelancing suicide to depend on just one client, or one type of client for your bread and butter. Companies fold. Companies scale back. Companies execs wake up one morning and decide they don’t like this group of people, and *poof* those people are on the outside, looking in.

I’m not going to lie and say that the scaling back hasn’t hurt. As I mentioned a while ago, I had grown too dependent on this client and other like it, so I’ve been working on branching out for a while now. So, although the news isn’t great, it’s not going to kill me either. I can find work elsewhere. I’ve got skills and enough general knowledge and experience in the freelancing world to make it work.

Which brings me to the reason for the title of this post. A few weeks back, a fellow writer made a statement that ruffled my feathers a bit. She stated that generalists were a dying breed and that the only way to make it as a freelancer was to carve a niche, and stick with it.

Uh, pardon me?

You’re trying to tell me that it’s not a good idea to have knowledge in a variety of areas? You really expect me to believe that it is better to stick to one knowledge base and skill set…as a freelance WRITER?

Um, that’s as suicidal as sticking to one client.

Now, I’m not saying it isn’t good to become an expert in an area and tout that expertise. I do it all the time with my small business knowledge and growing expertise in social media marketing. What I’m saying is that along with that expertise, it can’t hurt to be able to write on a variety of topics. So, yeah, I can write about small business startup concerns and how to launch a social media campaign with authority, but I can also explain how to troubleshoot a washer, how to get rid of a skunk smell in your furnace, and give men 10 reasons why they are still single. As writers, one of our strongest skills is the ability to research and write knowledgeably on a variety of topics. You cannot survive as a freelancer if you only write about one topic. Not to mention, it would make the freelancing gig incredibly boring…

And if I wanted to be bored, I’d go back to a brick and mortar job. To toss out a well-worn cliche, variety is the spice of life, and it’s a freelancers bread and butter.

So, to all my fellow generalists, keep doin’ what you’re doing, and ignore those who tell you that you’ll never make it as a freelancer. If they still want to argue, send them my way. It’s hard to argue with someone whose been doing it since 1996. And to those of you who are niche writers, good luck to you, and I have you have a niche B. And feel free to try and prove me wrong.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have three social media articles to write and then I need to explain how to hide an ugly bay window, remove scratches from a butcher block table, and detail the various sizes of dormers.

Diversity…it’s a good thing!

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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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Wow…there really is an app


For everything! Maybe now that I know I can blog from my phone, I’ll get to blog more often. Consider yourselves warned! Bwwaaahahahaha!!!!!

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