The Most Evil Boss Ever


Monday, March 31, 2014

The Best .99 You Will Spend on a Writing Book

Thanks to Real Ways to Earn Money Online, there are free Kindle downloads that relate to working at home/freelancing.  Some are redundant but every so often, there is a gem.

Now, I say this with the sentiment that content writing is becoming oversaturated.  The companies, Google Panda, and clients want a damn academic paper or ebook for pennies.  This book by Brian Fenwick has given me a little bit of hope.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Getting Around to Expand Your Business

Many of us freelancers enjoy the online opportunities that are out there.  However, we also know there are many prospects that are offline.  The question is how do we get to them and still find time to work effectively?

Unless a person lives in an area with reasonable public transportation, they need a car to get around so they can visit prospective clients.  Though gas costs a pretty penny, look at networking events, cold-calling and other methods as an investment.

It is also a good idea to look into full coverage auto insurance that does not break the bank.  Many companies out there offer flexible payment plans and will give a fair quote on your used vehicle.  Like anything else sold online, cheap insurance can be found for almost pennies on the dollar with companies that are reputable and rank high in customer satisfaction.

The first step to expanding your business is to determine what type of company or individual you want to do business with.  Find out what their needs our and analyze whether you can meet or exceed those needs better than the competition.  Write down 3-5 of these, so they may be included in your elevator pitch.

Develop your elevator pitch by condensing what you can do for them in 30 seconds or less.  Once you have a couple of drafts that will work in a social setting, try to memorize at least one.  Remember to look for a reaction so you will know whether to continue selling services or let the receiver lead the conversation.

Create promotional documents that may be handed out in person or online.  Some people may go with a whitepaper or newsletter but the objective is to make it unique and as fitting to your brand as possible.  Be prepared to give these away both online and offline.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Writer Watch...Before You Apply

Recently, I went through a ton of  writing leads with still quite a few to go.   I like to mix up content companies with private clients so as some are changing or going under.  Anyway, there are a few companies that have been around for a while buuut...

there is something that should not be overlooked.  Free work.

Now, everyone should have clips, even if the work is unpublished or rejected (you can always revise for the next set of eyes).  I, personally, don't have a problem sending a prospect a 100-200 word sample.

Anything else is a waste of your precious time!

Article Marketing, BKA Content and Scripted may operate on the up-and-up but I will never know because they want samples of 500 words or more.  No bueno!

In the near future, I will add to this list of people/companies to avoid.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Why I Stopped Paying for Writing Advice

The occasionally scathing feedback that comes with editors and private clients cannot be avoided.  It happens, it stings and if a decent writer hears it enough, they will either take note and correct it or throw in the towel.  

I say this because I was discouraged by content writer sites and wanted a way out, so I joined WOW (aka Women on Writing).  Now I got okay advice and other resources but the only lead that worked for me was Textbroker.  While TB occasionally paid the electric bill, my membership was hardly worth the $48 charged to my credit card.

Fast forward four years as my writing has improved and I feel confident about sharing my skills with others, I decide to try an experiment.  As WOW sent out monthly newsletters, I saved all 12 issues as PDFs and one weekend, I decided to go through the writing leads.  Just about 80% of the companies listed were no longer in business.  This was in 2013 and I got the listings in 2008/09.

Last year, I re-joined LinkedIn with better success than before.  My groups are larger and I'm feeling my way around the marketing perspective.  In one group, there are posters raving about this e-book, Writing For Money: The Online Writers Path to a Full Time Income by Stephen Davies.

While it sounds nice, I have to be honest as some are being misled about this industry.

Anyone looking to get rich (or comfortable) from online writing needs a plan because relying on TB or Break Studios alone will bring disappointment, regardless of how good a person is.  I can't give this advice because each niche has different needs and there are many profitable writing styles.  However, anyone looking to make an investment in a worthy career should start with a book like this one.

Here's why - 

Davies gives good advice on how to go after online writing jobs as well as simple explanation about SEO writing.  Whether a person writes content for backlinking or Build My Rank (BMR) style links, there is really nothing too technical about writing these if the writer understands the objective.  However, I must disagree about a 5% keyword density that the author encourages as the standard is 2-4% per 100 words.

There are many writing leads here.  I mean hundreds. There are also many UK companies that accept writers from the States. However, I did find broken links in the PDF (more on that below) as well as many companies that have either closed their doors or do not have an online presence.  

I don't fault Davies as sometimes the frequent contributors are the last to know that their services are no longer needed, effective immediately.  My issue is that about 80% of the leads listed can be found anywhere online - AT NO CHARGE!  But to be fair, it does take time to gather this many leads.

Some people do not have $5 to spare and this is not to make light of what may be a serious situation.  However, there are many in the States (I believe the author is from the UK) who need to make a full time income by the following week, not the $7-10 they may get from a content company that may or may not pay on time (it happens, even with the reputable ones that have been around for a few years).  

Making a full time income requires the writer know their audience and the needs as well as overall demand.  They also need to take into consideration their resources so that can plan an effective marketing strategy.

Davies may have covered this but the reason why I'll never know for sure is that the PDF version of this book only allows accessibility three times.  No copying (unless a person has a paid Adobe account) or saving to a hard drive for later reference.  So the best bet may be to get the Kindle version as it is the same price.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Career to Consider

If you are a person who knows somebody who knows somebody, then being a concierge may be a source of additional income when that good ol’ writers block hits. This is also a good business to start if you know many businesspersons in your area that would not mind paying you a referral fee.

Personally, I don’t know of anyone who does this on a working person’s level but I would imagine there is a market for such since people are so busy these days.  Being a single parent, commuting long distances, and attending classes that help solidify job security are reality for many, meaning there is little time to do much else.

Some people build clientele by word of mouth or may already work as a virtual assistant that offers these services. From what I have read, there is no formal training but there are online courses as well as books on Amazon about how to get started.

Finally, you may hear about concierges making $70K and up a year but keep in mind the audience they are catering to, which is usually the very wealthy and discriminating.  However, the local corporate executive may also refer your services to his associates and you may even have virtual clients in addition to the ones in your area.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Create an Online Freelancing Profile

Going to work online can be a scary thing for someone who has gone into a building to punch a clock for years.  There are times when I get nervous about accepting a new client.  Although they may have a decent profile, I have taken some with no online presence who kept me busy for months, and sometimes years.

At the same time, the prospective client has their reservations as well.  Especially in cases where they may have been let down by someone who didn’t deliver and now, they are facing a tight deadline. 
The best way to place someone at ease is to present an online profile that is confident and re-assures the client that you can get the job done within a reasonable time frame.
Here are some tips you can use when creating a freelance profile:

  • Keep it simple
  • Keep it clean (no profanity or use of more than one “x”)
  • Stay away from trendy buzzwords and slang
  • Do not use the word “cheap” as it implies inferior quality
  • Do not make outrageous promises to get attention

What you can do to stand out is create interesting headlines when appropriate that describe what you are offering. (Ex. ‘Writing that gets attention and creates sales leads’).  Also, social marketing is very popular as it requires no upfront cost but the descriptions given must be in the proper format.  For instance, when using Twitter to list services, make sure this is on the first line or the first sentence is a question for someone seeking these services.

If possible, provide links to published work where you have a byline.  Client feedback is important so if there is a webpage that has positive online testimonials, include these links in your page.  Also, check these links every so often to ensure that they are not broken or the page has not been removed.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Writer Watch: How to Deal with Slow-Paying Clients

You have that one client that has their own way of doing things but they are consistent when it comes to handing out work.  Maybe it’s a problem or not but one thing to keep in mind is that late-paying customers can be costly.
The unwritten online rule is that payment is submitted within 24 hours of submission.  Some large publishing companies usually have a longer time or if the submission is more than a couple of full pages, the person giving the final approval may need an extra day or two.
If something was established early on (such as submit on Tuesday to receive pay on Friday) it should be respected.  While it is understandable that things like illness will happen, here are some things to take into consideration –
If dealing with a virtual client, then it is necessary to ensure that there is more than one contact at the company.  Either way, get a mailing address beforehand in case the matter needs to be resolved by a third party.  Whether they live in a rural town in the States or a large city overseas, it helps to know more than their PayPal address.
Sometimes work can fluctuate, for the good and bad.  If you get a new client with lots of work to offer, you want to offer the best service possible without difficulty from someone who pays when they feel up to it.  When an assignment ends, you really want to receive your money as soon as possible so that bills will be paid.
Think about it, when you are served food in a restaurant, you pay before leaving or before receiving food in hand.  Then there’s the other stuff like rent and credit card payments that charge when late payments are made.
Although some freelancers have a late pay policy, newbies, and others get uncomfortable with doing this.  However, you cannot push the elephant in the room into a corner, hoping it will disappear into the walls because bill collectors never do.
So it’s never too late to have a policy in place but you can do a little quality assurance with the client first to ensure that they are satisfied with service.  This is a good opportunity to tighten some areas, if needed.  Also ask what can be done to ensure timely payments if there are no existing issues.
While there is no template, some freelancers will indicate that non-payment of service will result in collections by a third party or other legal action.  Be advised that when things escalate to that level, it may be time to bid them farewell.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Content Blvd...Now You See Them..Now You Don't (as much)

I heard about this wonderful little content submission site over a year ago.  Impressive was the fact that they were local to me (Los Angeles), didn't require applicants to complete a 500-word sample (big rip-off), nor did they spend a lot of time passing judgment if your submission did not make the final cut.

And they paid on time and much more than other content sites people use between clients!

So what happened, you ask?  Like they said in the seventies, search me because all I remember was being a little inundated with work from private clients as well and when that dried up, the format at Content Blvd. had changed. No more selecting a topic to write about or suggesting one.

Back in November, my login did not work the same and Erica (?) suggested that I check back in Nov. but things looked like they were in a new format that was not user friendly.

Oh well, will return with new leads and more 411.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Those Lovely Amazon Commenters

Don't get me wrong!  I love these guys.  However, there are some people that take Amazon as the gospel.  Here's something that happened to me recently.

I got called for a job as a part-time marketing assistant for a music publishing company.  Of course, I think glamour right away but this was hardly the case.
The first thing that bugged me was that they stood me up on Skype but things happen so I agreed to being rescheduled.

When interview time came, I had to use the newer laptop for a video conference instead of text chat.  Maybe it was my fault for having work that was suited for my desktop (Vista) instead of just getting a larger Win 7 laptop.

Okay, so this whole thing is about selling acoustic guitar lessons and they want to know what can I contribute?

Hell if I know.  You reached out to me - twice!

So I mention the blog here and the fact that I'm from LaLaLand where there's a musician on every corner.

Unfortunately, this was good enough for them.

So there's a lot of talking about upcoming products but no data, no demo or anything else to go on.  So I take a look around and realize something.

I'm being paid to lie on Amazon.

So I got the hell out.

I don't need money that bad.  

AMZ has saved me money in rare movies, textbooks, and so much more in the past decade that I could never risk my rep like that.  In my discoveries, I found many people do not feel the same as I.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Networking Away From the Computer

Many of us who work online and manage to eek out a living often find ourselves becoming overly comfortable at times.  Like anything else, as long as we know our boundaries and the client’s happy, we know where to draw the line when it comes to self-discipline.
Especially when a job is no more.

We all know that as freelancers it helps to be in constant learning mode as well as promote services in order to stay marketable in an ever-changing workplace.  We also know that clients may have a final deadline and no longer need services, their budget may be maxed out, or the relationship isn’t what either party desires in the long run.

So we get away from the box and plan to find new clients but first, we must read about the latest celebrity breakup, the stock market, or after the last (for real, this time) funny cat video.  

Whatever we consider our priorities at that moment, one thing to look up between breaks are places to network.  Community development centers, small business associations, and private events are good places to look into and possibly get on their mailing lists. is a great place to find in-person meetings and there are many categories from which to choose.

When I began attending networking sessions, though nicely dressed and fairly well spoken, I also made mistakes that may have killed other opportunities.   
Some of these were –

  • ·         Arriving hungry
  • ·         Spending too much time with people who didn’t have a neat (or fitting) appearance
  • ·         Spending too much time with someone who had interests outside of business

Finally, I didn’t have a 30-second pitch.  Since becoming a Marketing major, I’ve realized the importance of these both online and offline.  I’ve also cleaned up many profiles so they are keyword dense and show off my best features.  Yet, there’s more work ahead of me when it comes to selling marketable skills and not telling female attendees about my favorite stores for size 10 shoes.

However, as a natural introvert who has worked for someone else most of their life, I had minimal networking skills.  Although my last employer held meetings that offered get-acquainted sessions, many of the attendees on my caliber gossiped about other departments and situations.  Even though many spoke “in code”, I knew this could backfire in a major way.

Fast forward to present.

As I’m gathering data and drafting a new promotional campaign, networking events are high on my list.  That invaluable resource called the library led me to borrow The Networking Survival Guide recently.  Though some topics are best suited for someone on the executive level and the author is a little chatty in some chapters, I’m grateful to Diane Darling for writing this book.

Before returning, I found a simple checklist that most newbies should not be without in order to make an impact.  Here are some checkpoints before arriving –

  • ·         Handshakes – give two firm shakes and let go; no fishtail or dishrag (moist and/or limp)-style grips.  Also, make eye contact and give a slight smile
  • ·         Name badge – place on right side of chest at eye level and it may be a good idea to keep a Sharpie pen near to ensure that your name is visible
  • ·         Basic conversation – three to five minutes but no more than eight minutes; also keep it friendly without discussing matters that are personal or controversial
  • ·         Wardrobe – if not sure, dress up but one common question is ‘What is business casual?’  Or a better question is how does a person know when to come dressed to nines and whether to be comfortable. Sometimes a plain shirt and khaki pants that are neat and clean go over better than a suit that is obviously dated.

·         Dining Etiquette – Always hold drink in left hand and if possible, eat before arrival

No matter how attractive or charming someone is, resist the urge to hook up for a date.  Though we may read a sweet story about couples meeting on the job or a business trip, think of each networking event as an investment in your brand, so keep it professional.

Finally, make sure that you have plenty of business cards on hand with information and links that are current.  If you have a promotional item to give away, save these for those who are interested in the services you have to offer and not hand them out at random.