Saturday, August 30, 2008

Demand Studios review time is shortening

It looks like Demand Studios is getting on the ball. Today I had an article approved that I wrote on 8/25 or 8/26. It seemed to be taking a week or more for them to review articles for a while but in the past three days I have had six articles reviewed. They are also very quick to approve suggested assignments--usually within a couple of hours. While I don't agree with everything Demand Studios does as far as editing goes, I have to say they are trying hard to make their writers happy. They just started a Demand Studios blog, so this may be a good step toward improved communication and Demand Studios-writer relationships.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Power of Networking

Although I've only been in this business a fairly short time, I cannot underestimate the importance of networking. I cannot tell you how many jobs I have gotten and how much advice, story ideas and education I've gotten through networking--it's invaluable. I got my first publisher because of networking, and although I had to back out of it, I wouldn't have gotten there in the first place without knowing someone there. I have heard several stories of authors getting published because they were in the right place at the right time. There is so much competition out there, sometimes just knowing the right person is what you need to get your foot in the door.

There are many different ways to network. The old school way is to join writers' guilds and associations and attend meetings and conventions. A more modern way is to meet people over the internet. I belong to several writing-focused discussion boards (and horse-focused ones) and an email list of equine journalists. This is how I met my mentors and obtained a large amount of work, either by helping them with their workload or following their advice to try sites like oDesk.

I highly recommend you meet and talk to as many writers as you can. Tell everyone you know that you are a writer and try to work in the type of writing you do in conversations--you never know when some work might come your way because of it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

September/October Short Story Contest Announced at Accentuate

Well, as expected, my joke short story entry did not make the finals in the August/September Accentuate Writers short story contest. There were some great entries and everyone who made it should be proud! Michy said she'll post my story on her blog at some point, so I will point to it when she does. It is based on inside jokes at the writing forum, but non forum dwellers will find it funny, too! Heck, why not join the forum so you get the full effect? It's fun, it's free, and there is a lot of good information on the forum.

The September/October short story contest promises to really step up the competition! The announcment was posted last night, and first prize will be $300!! Second will be $150 and third will be $75. Plus, you get published in the short story contest anthology. What do you have to lose? OK, so you might not win...but you will have accomplished something by writing a story and entering it, and chances are good you will receive some valuable feedback on it to improve for next time.

Off to think of a story idea...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

How much to charge?

The question of how much to charge for your work plagues every new freelancer. Most, like me, tend to underprice themselves, afraid if they charge too much no one will buy. Further, they don't believe they're worth as much as they could get. It's really hard to break out of that! What I'm doing is I set my hourly rate at $25 per hour. I try to figure out how much time I'll spend researching and writing the piece and guess at a price from there. It's really pretty unscientific. I almost always underestimate how much time something will take...and then, I forget about the whole rewrite thing. While some pieces are just fine the first time I write them, others require rewrites. These are usually minor things; often the editor thought of something I should add after they read the first draft, or they give me some information I didn't have before. It's rarely earth shattering, but it is practically inevitable and I need to remember to build it into my time. I also need to consider the time I sit and stare at my computer, creating the piece in my head before I actually write. It is a process I will probably need to continually readjust.

Are you directing your destiny, or is it directing you?

This woman Greg and I used to work with once said that everything I touch turns to gold. She said it's like I have a charmed life, because I'm always accomplishing things and getting things. Some, more religious than I, might say I am blessed by God or something.

I prefer not to think of it that way. That would indicate some forces outside of myself are responsible for the good things that come to me. In fact, I work very hard to make them happen. I talk to the right people, learn what I need to learn, follow the advice I am given and put in the long hours to get it done. When I decided I wanted a horse, I made sacrifices to afford her. When I decided I wanted to become a writer, I did what I needed to do to make it happen.

Am I blessed? OK, I guess I have to admit that I am blessed in that I have talents, and I am very thankful for that blessing. I am able to learn things quickly and there are a number of things I can do well, and I am lucky in that I am able to make money doing them. However, I could just as easily have decided not to do anything with them and work at McDonald's where no one expects anything of me. However, I chose to capitalize on my talents and put them to their best use.

I have met people in my life who are victims. Everything is going wrong in their life, and they let it drag them down. They wear their problems on their sleeve, display them for the world, and wallow in pity--self- or otherwise. I see other people who have terminal illnesses and all kinds of problems. However, they are bright, positive people who make the best of what life has dealt them.

Why is the second group happy when the first group isn't? It's all about their outlook on life. If you continually see the negative side of life and whine about what you don't have, how can you be happy? If you are religious, one of the Ten Commandments is "Thou Shalt Not Covet". Why is that? When all you do is covet what other people have and you don't, you will not be happy. Instead, enjoy what you have and figure out how to get what you want.

Put your energies toward positive things. If your positive energy and hard work pays off, good things will come to you. However, whether you get what you want or not, why be miserable?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Questions people ask when I tell them I'm freelancing, cont.

Part four in the series:

Will you write me an article on X so I can see a sample of what you will do? I'm not going to pay you for it or use it, I swear!

I fell for this once. I wrote some beautiful ad copy for a potential buyer and they didn't take it. now I use it as a sample, but otherwise it's useless. I wasted my time. Would you ask a store to give you $50 of product so you can make sure the quality is good? I have plenty of writing samples to show my quality of work. I will work with you to make sure you are happy with the end product. Don't ask me to work for free!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Questions people ask when I tell them I'm freelancing, cont.

Part three in the series:

Do you want to help me with [fill in whatever unpleasant chore here] to give you something to do during the day?

No, I don't want to [fill in unpleasant chore]. I have a job. It's called "writing". Now that I'm self employed, I work many hours every day. Like 12. Is it worth it? Yes. I love spending all day doing what I love to do, where I want to do it! However, right now this job I love does not leave much time for anything else. When I do take time off to do something else, it will be something I want to do, not your chores. Unless I really, really like you. And I'm probably getting something out of it!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Questions people ask when I tell them I'm freelancing, cont.

Part two in my series of silly questions people ask me.

2. You can make money doing that?

I'm not sure where this question comes from. When people plunk down several dollars to buy one of those glossy magazines full of articles and pretty pictures, do they not realize that someone is paying the people writing those articles and taking those pictures? What about the books you pay $10 or more for? The author gets some of that. There are many, many people who make a living writing. The last time someone asked me "you can make money at that?" I answered, "No. We eat dirt and live under a bridge." Not only is it a stupid question, it's actually kind of rude. Why would I quit my job to do something that won't make me any money?

Questions people ask when I tell them I'm freelancing

Every time I tell someone I quit my job to become a freelance writer, I get asked the same questions. I'll discuss each of them, one at a time.

1. What do you write?

There are a variety of ways a freelance writer can get paid. You can make easy, steady money writing for article warehouses like Associated Content or Demand Studios. There are also a variety of revenue share sites like Suite 101, Triond, paid blogging sites, etc. These do not pay a lot of money, but there are people who make a living just writing for them.

A more professional and lucrative way to make money freelancing is writing articles for print or web and writing web content. There are many different tasks that fall loosely within these categories. Press releases, letters, sales material, translation, transcription, rewriting name it. If you can string words together with good grammar in a way that makes people want to read what you wrote, you can make money doing it. If you decide you want to be a freelance writer, it's your choice what you want to do!

I do a combination of the above. I do magazine articles, online articles, website content and article warehouses.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ten things I love about my new job

This is my second week of working my new job as a freelance writer. Here are ten things I like about it, in no particular order:

1. No commute
2. Wearing (or not) whatever I feel like (or not) to work
3. I can take a nap or a bath or a gardening break whenever I want
4. I am in control of my income. If I need to make more money, I write more. If I want some time off and can afford to take it, I can.
5. My co-worker won't rat me out to my boss if I annoy or offend him.
6. I can have Take your Pet to Work Day any time I want.
7. I can work wherever I want.
8. I can take care of appointments and errands during the week when everyone else is at work.
9. I spend all day doing what I want to do, not what someone else is telling me I have to do.
10. I can blog at work any time I want.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Give my hubby some clicky love?

Loyal readers, my husband, Greg Walker is trying to get the whole writing business thing off the ground. He has written a few articles on Associated Content and is just 48 views away from actually receiving a payout! Will you do me a personal favor and read a few of his articles? I just went and read them all again, but I can only give him so many. He has an engaging writing style--quite entertaining to read! Greg's Associated Content page

Thank you!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What's your goal?

I've set various goals and challenges for myself over the years, and it always motivates me to get work done. I am goal oriented, so it really helps me to have something to work toward! On Michy's forum, LaurieM started the August Challenge, but we all set our own goals. I set a goal for myself of 100 articles and 20 queries for the month of August.

The first goal should not be hard--I already have 21 for the month. The second is a little harder, because I am usually so busy trying to earn money, I don't stop to write queries. However, I must! This is the way to break into higher paying markets and get higher paying projects. So, I only have 2 in for the month, but I have about 24 days left to get the other 18 in.

Do you set goals for your work? What are they? If you don't, consider trying it!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Today's epiphany

Today I figured out something very cool and exciting. I am writing a long article for a magazine that requested it. I realized that the same topic can easily be reworked for a different magazine with a different subject matter but the same idea...and then I thought of several more places where I can do the same thing! I could even break it up into a series. I'm starting to figure out the system!!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

I'm FREE!!!!

Today was my last day at the day job I've worked for over eleven years (most of my adult life). It was at once sad and exhilarating! It's such a big change that I'm kind of in shock. I'll miss the routine and my co-workers immensely, but I won't miss a lot of the work and BS that went with it. I am very happy to be leaving on my own terms to do what I want to do! It is the end of an era and the beginning of a new one, and changes of this magnitude are always hard and scary...even if the change is for the better and you know that. I know I am going to be successful--I'm determined!