With new people around them and a new environment, college students are hard pressed to find time to do essay editing during college days. Endless streams of assignments, essays, midterms and final exams make finding extra time to see friends and relax difficult. The Internet has many websites that offer essay writing services, but what students really need is editing services.
Freelance writing newcomers may find it difficult to find work at first because of their lack of experience, which reflects in their weak or nonexistent portfolio. Luckily, learning how to build a freelance writing portfolio isn’t very hard and doesn’t require an immense amount of time or effort considering the rewards. Continue reading
Whether they want to earn a decent living or just want to make money on the side, most freelance writers know that private clients are where the money is at. What we mean by ‘private’ is that these clients aren’t working with you through some system like Elance or Odesk, they are communicating with you directly and handling everything privately between you, which is much more professional and fosters long-term relationships. Private clients tend to pay more than most content mills, but they also tend to be harder to find. Fortunately, there are several ways you can make landing writing gigs a much easier process.
Build an Internet Presence
If you don’t have a professional website for your freelance writing already, creating one is a excellent way to score private clients. While making your website or blog, you should try to target a few keywords that will help it rank well.
Instead of sending your resume and samples as a file attached to an email, you can conveniently send all possible private clients to this website. Also, once your website starts to rank well in search engines, employers will start contacting you instead of the other way around. You can help your website rank well by utilizing back links and other search engine optimization tactics.
Check Out Job Boards
There are many job boards out there that are specifically for freelance writers. Once you weed out any illegitimate job offers, you will be left with an ample amount of advertisements to respond to. Of course, you’ll most likely be in competition with many other freelance writers, but if you follow the employer’s directions down to the letter, you’ll be ahead of most of the competition. If you check job boards often, you may find a very high-paying employer every once and a while.
Ask Past Private Clients
Most of the time, it is a good idea to stay in touch with past private clients in case they ever have a need for more work. If you have had previous private clients in the past, you should get back in touch with them and stay in touch, even if they currently have no work available for you.
Sometimes, previous private clients may have content that they need written, but they may have forgotten about you or they may have lost your contact information. You’d be surprised about how much work you can get by just asking previous employers who were pleased with your work.
Create Social Media Profiles
As social media websites increase in popularity, more and more freelance writers are finding gigs through these websites. As a freelance writer, you should create social media profiles that are strictly for professional matters. Ensure that you keep your private profile separate from your professional profile.
If you post helpful tips and make it well known that you provide writing services, private clients may eventually offer you work. Maintaining a social media profile typically requires little time investment, but it can potentially have bountiful results.
You can attain a reasonable amount of private clients by using only one of the methods listed above. However, if you utilize all the methods listed above for a long period of your time, you’ll eventually start getting more work than you can handle. When it comes to attaining private clients, patience and persistence is the key.
One of the biggest leaps in a writer’s career is the one into magazine article writing. It’s a field where jobs are always available and success is within reach for those with talent and dedication, but it takes a lot of industry knowledge to get your foot in the door.
The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Magazine Article Writing is an attempt at providing an all-in-one resource for beginners to familiarize themselves with how the magazine article business works. It was written and compiled by a large number of magazine and journalism experts, which is good because having multiple perspectives into such a complex marketplace can help readers get a deeper understanding of it.
I would recommend doing some basic reading on the subject and developing your skills gradually through freelance writing before trying to make use of this book, because it makes certain assumptions about your skill level and may confuse someone who is completely new to writing articles in general. It’s a fantastic resource and can put you on the right track, but it won’t make a resume for you and when it comes down to it, experience is what matters- you need to take action, not just read books.
The book isn’t very heavy on jargon and when it introduces new terms and concepts, it almost always makes it clear and understandable for beginners. This is great for the business and marketing oriented chapters of the book because it’s best to have everything clearly laid out and bluntly stated, but the sections on fundamental article writing skills are too skimpy to be considered an all-in-one resource. You’ll need to do some side reading on journalism and familiarize yourself with concepts like the inverted pyramid- and of course, practice practice practice.
I consider the Handbook of Magazine Article Writing a must-read for people who aren’t familiar with querying, selling reprints/rewrites, finding markets, and common rights issues. However, if you still need help with the fundamental/non-business stuff like writing technique, researching, and interviewing, you’ll need to hone your skills and do some learning on your own before you’re ready to actually use the information in this book. One thing is for certain- if you plan on writing for magazines in the future, picking up this book will make it much easier for you.
[easyreview title="Handbook of Magazine Article Writing" cat1title="Summary:" cat1detail="A suitable introduction for beginners, but further reading and experience is required to have a real grasp on the subject." cat1rating="4"]
One of the easiest ways to find clients as a freelance writer, especially for beginners, is to join one of the most popular freelance networks. These sites are essentially platforms that allow clients to post jobs in a variety of different areas (we will be focusing on writing, of course) and freelancers can apply to the ones they are interested in doing. Some networks and platforms are more competitive than others, some are more suited for beginners and others for experts, you need to find your sweet spot in terms of price point and competition in comparison to your credentials.
Generally, you won’t get paid as much for your writing if you work through a freelance writing network as opposed to finding clients on your own, but the process is much more streamlined and the time you save searching for work may be worth it. Working on these sites is great for beginners because it helps them build their reputation, skills, and portfolio while making money.
Here are some of the most popular freelance writing networks that I’ve used in the past and my recommendations on who they are fit for.
Their commission: 6.75 % – 8.75 % of the job price.
Elance.com is one of my go-to freelancing sites, it’s very popular with a ton of active clients constantly posting new writing jobs so there’s never really a shortage of work. My advice is to build up your profile and portfolio areas before you start putting in applications for jobs, clients will expect to see samples of your work. Posting a link to your own site with client testimonials would be a big plus as well and give you an edge over the competition.
Prices at Elance are better than most other freelance marketplaces, it depends on what the client is looking for. There are certainly a good amount of them who want some cheap outsourced help ($.01/word Filipino writers flock to those jobs) that would be a waste of time for you to get involved in, I wouldn’t write at Elance for less than $.02/word, and that’s for the most basic of article writing jobs. The amount of cheap outsourced work is relatively low compared to other freelance sites.
The downside to Elance is the limitations they put on contractors who don’t want to pay any fees, as a free member you’ll only receive 10 ‘connects’ per month. You expend one connect every time you apply for a job, so only put in applications for realistic opportunities that you have a good chance to get. When I was an active member I got by just fine on 10 connects per month, don’t waste them on ‘featured’ job applications- most job posters will read through each and every one, your portfolio in comparison to others will be the deciding factor, not a green border around your application.
All in all, Elance is a great place to get your freelance writing career off the ground if you can put together a good portfolio.
Their commission: %10
Odesk.com is quite similar to Elance in terms of framework, but there are a few notable differences in the communities that make them unique.
The biggest difference is that Odesk seems to have a much more prolific cheap outsourcing job community instead of a high-paying freelance writing scene, so don’t expect very impressive payment as a contractor. However, if you specialize in a certain format (ebooks, journalism, copywriting, etc.) then you can still find a good amount of well-paying jobs. For beginners who don’t mind working the $.01/word to $.02/word range for standard web articles, Odesk is a great way to make some cash.
The good thing about Odesk is that you can apply to as many jobs as you want, no monthly limit or fees like Elance. However, their cut of the dough is a bit larger at %10.
Now, these two sites hardly even scratch the surface, but these are the two that most of us are familiar with. Other notable networks for writers include Guru, Freelancer, and TextBroker. I’ll cover some of these other ones (as well as more advanced options like Demand Media and using Craigslist to find writing work) in the future.
What are your recommendations for freelance writing networks and websites?
Once you start providing services for more high-end and professional clients, they will probably expect you to invoice them for the amount of the order instead of just deciding on a price and the client sending payment via PayPal or some other service without any documentation. You’ll need to find the best invoicing software to accomplish this, luckily there are a ton of great solutions online.
Invoicing your clients with an online invoicing tool makes you seem much more professional, organized, and prepared. It’s also very helpful for both your client’s records and your own, the best invoicing services even keep a log of all of your transactions for easy reference whenever you need them.
So which one is the best invoicing software? Here are a few that we have used and recommend:
The existence of CurdBee means that you have no excuse to not use invoicing for your orders. Instead of telling you why, let me show you why:
Look at that beautiful Free plan and the features it includes- it has near-limitless functionality that most of us would be more than happy to pay a monthly fee for: Customizable branding, unlimited invoices and clients, online payment support (PayPal, Google Checkout, and tons of others), even automatic data backup for no cost at all.
When you do start getting into the paid plans, the feature set gets even more impressive and cost-efficient. The Big plan is great if you manage a team or run a subscription service, and for $20/month it’s cheaper than most other invoicing services.
CurdBee is the best free invoicing solution I have ever come across.
FreshBooks is probably the most popular online invoicing solution around, and with good reason. FreshBooks is a very reliable and streamlined invoicing service that does everything right, and it has a great set of features to help out your business.
The only problem I have with FreshBooks is with it’s price- it simply doesn’t compete with CurdBee’s ultra cheap plans with just as much functionality. Here’s what FreshBook’s pricing chart looks like:
As you can see, the free plan here only supports 3 clients, which is enough to call it a decent trial. However, the problem begins with the next plan up, the $19.95/month Seedling plan. This plan only supports 25 clients, which is nothing considering that most service providers work with tons of different people and often have huge contact lists. It’s not until you start paying $29.95/month that you get to have the freedom of an unlimited client list, but the added features are comparable to CurdBee’s $5/$20 per month plans so it doesn’t seem like a good deal.
It’s also worth noting that FreshBooks does not appear to support Google Checkout (though it does have authorize.net), feel free to correct me on this in the comments.
FreshBooks is being used by over 3.5 million members, and I suspect that’s because of all the integration support that it has for other platforms. FreshBooks plays nice with all sorts of project management systems, accounting software, and other popular web tools that help you run your business. This alone is a very attractive aspect and shouldn’t be glanced over, if you manage your team with something like Basecamp and want your invoicing to mesh with minimal administrative work, FreshBooks may be more efficient than other services.
This invoicing tool is more geared towards small/medium businesses than small-time freelancers, LessAccounting provides great features for managing groups and common business expenses.
The price is $30/month for unlimited everything, and that includes ‘members’ on your account, something which FreshBooks and CurdBee lack (at least on non-enterprise price bracets). Their bank integration is also a unique feature, you can make transactions and send reports right from your LessAccounting account to your bank.
LessAccounting also offers an hourly bookkeeping service, which means you can hire one of their certified accountants to handle your finances and sort out your records. This invoicing tool seems to cater to larger operations, and it also plays nice with almost as many services as FreshBooks does.
Would you recommend some other invoicing apps besides the ones I mentioned? Let us all know about them in the comments below!
Learning how to write SEO articles can seem daunting for someone without experience in internet marketing, but rest assured- using keywords in your articles is really quite simple.
One of the most important factors when it comes to ranking a web page for a certain search term is how often a certain keyword is used throughout the article. This is why requests for SEO articles are so common for freelancers and web writers, they are essential to driving traffic and ranking in search engines. This concise guide will show you how to write SEO articles with keywords in just a few simple steps.
Before we get into those steps, you should be introduced to the concept of keyword density. The amount of times a keyword gets mentioned in a particular page determines how optimized that page is for the search engines. You usually want to keep this at %1, which means you want to mention the keyword about once every 100 words.
1. Use the keyword for research
We’re going to assume that the preliminary stages of keyword research have already been done and that your chosen keyword is targeting a viable market. That said, in order to rank for this keyword, you should search for it on Google to A: check your competition and B: see what everyone else is writing about. Try to out-do all of these pages in every way you can, and use them as resources to your advantage.
2. Use the keyword in the headline/title and description
One of the most important places you can put keywords is in the title or headline of your article. Try to use it verbatim (or close to it) and make it flow naturally, write a title people would want to click on. For example, if your keyword is “Blue Widgets” you may want to have a title like “How to Use Blue Widgets” or “Blue Widgets vs. Red Widgets”, something along those lines.
3. Use subheadings and organize your article
You should always use subheadings when you write for the web. You can do this by using <h3> tags (or the equivalent in your WYSIWYG editor). This helps keep your thoughts organized and much easier to read, and it also provides a great place to put your keywords. Search engines pay special attention to anything placed in header tags, so try to sneak your keyword into a subheading if it sounds natural.
4. Write the article naturally
The problem with most SEO articles is that the flow and voice of the article gets lost behind the writer or company’s objective to increase search engine page rankings. To avoid writing articles that sound forced, fake or in common writers slang appear to be “stuffed,” first write your article without the purposely including keyword or keyword phrases. Only after it’s complete, go back and up the density a tad by adding new sentences and playing around with your wording.
5. Check for keyword density.
In order to successfully write a keyword rich article, the article should be dense or filled with the keywords or keyword phrases. On average an SEO article should have a keyword density of at least 1% (once every 100 words). To figure out the keyword density of an article, multiply the number of times your keyword or keyword phrases appear in your article, divide that number by the word count of the article, and then carry the decimal over to the right twice. Be sure to include any times you write the keyword in title or header tags as well- those are just as important as in-content keywords.
You now know how to write SEO articles!
Some website owners prefer to have different keyword densities or even multiple keywords, but the basic principles still apply. If you follow the steps and just keep your keyword in mind as you write, you’ll know how to write SEO articles with keywords in no time at all.
Try these 5 tips to help get rid of writers block and get your creativity flowing.
Freelance writers have a lot of obstacles to face but none can be more daunting than figuring how to get rid of writers block. At one point or another, every freelance writer’s brain has drawn a complete blank at the most unlikely time. Maybe there’s a tight deadline or a time crunch due to personal reasons, say a hot date or Monday night football? Whatever the case, when writers block kicks in and you haven’t got the time to wait for your creativity to spontaneously reappear, these 5 tips will help you jumpstart your productivity and get you back on track.
1. Break away your immediate environment and change your perspective. According to Scientific American, a magazine devoted to scientific discovery and technological innovation, “there are several simple steps we can all take to increase creativity, such as traveling to faraway places (or even just thinking about such places), thinking about the distant future, communicating with people who are dissimilar to us, and considering unlikely alternatives to reality.” In short, a great way to get rid of writers block might be as simple as daydreaming about an overdue vacation or chatting with an eccentric friend can spark creativity by giving your brain a little dose of something different.
2. Write your project in piece mill proportions. Instead of trying to write an entire project in one sitting, take your time and divide up the work. Oftentimes, looking at a job as one whopping task can be a bit overwhelming. After dividing the work up into portions, finish one part at a time with breaks in between.
3. Improve your eating habits and exercise more to help get rid of writers block. A recent California Polytechnic State University article revealed that, “if you work out regularly and eat right, you will feel better and your mental health will improve,” so that when you sit down and begin to write “you will feel energized and your mind will focus more easily.” While most correlate healthy eating and exercise to well being and looking good, it might be worth it to remember that writers block prevents you from being productive and poor productivity means less money for you.
4. Rethink your process. If you want to get rid of writers block take some time to sit down a rethink your daily routine. Factors like what time you wake up, others things you have to accomplish during the day, and where your work area is, all have an effect on your productivity as well as your creativity. If you’re more of a night owl, however you find yourself trying to work in the morning, maybe you can do a schedule change where you focus writing time during the day. Also, take the time out to make a daily schedule of other things that you have scheduled during the day and plan them accordingly and reasonably so that you have time to accomplish all the task at hand.
5. Forget the physical reward behind completing your work. While getting rid of writers block can definitely benefit you in the areas of time and money, it might be worth it to remind yourself why you like to write. In a review of a Boston Globe report, GNU.org found that, “A related series of studies shows that intrinsic interest in a task — the sense that something is worth doing for its own sake — typically declines when someone is rewarded for doing it.” So, try letting go of the idea of “money, awards, praise, or winning a contest…as the reason [for] engaging in an activity, that activity will be viewed as less enjoyable in its own right.”
Short stories are a fantastic way to express oneself through writing, especially for beginners. Those without the time to undergo the arduous task of writing a novel or more expansive text can get their point across just as easily and more succinctly using a short story. The plot building process is much simpler, but certain techniques must be used because there is less room to work with. A well-executed short story can be just as memorable as any other form of storytelling and it is a skill that any writer can benefit from.
Preparation and Outline
Before you start writing short stories, you need to develop a firm grasp on how they are structured and the most effective routes of plot development. The best way to do this is to read acclaimed short stories, take the time to find the best ones (the “classics” from your favorite genre) and focus on specific authors that you admire. Pay very close attention to character development and dialog. Some view the smaller word count as a restriction, but a good author will use it as an advantage.
Every short story starts out with a premise or idea; you need some sort of inspiration. This can be elements from your everyday life or purely your imagination, but having a great idea for a plot with a clear sense of direction is absolutely essential to begin writing.
After you’ve read a decent amount of short stories and you have some potential plot ideas forming, it’s time to write up an outline. Determine the course of events including how you plan on introducing the characters and setting. Write it all down neatly and organized in a presentable way so that you can easily transcribe it into prose. Once this foundation is built, it’s time to sit down and write.
Writing the Story
The very first paragraph of your story is the most essential; you need to capture the reader as soon as their eyes hit the page. Get them interested in your characters and their motives right from the start. You may have the leisure of a slow beginning when writing a novel, but in a short story environment you need to keep the chain of events moving at all times. Build a strong foundation right from the introduction and the rest of the story will come more naturally, and the reader will keep the pages turning more eagerly.
Everyone is different when it comes to the actual technique of writing. Some prefer to map out every single part of the story before actual writing it while others operate on a more unstructured “go with the flow” mindset, either way it’s easy sometimes to forget the time restraints in place so just remember to keep the action going. Don’t bring too many new elements into the mix once you’ve established enough to work with, you will confuse the reader and muddle up an otherwise clean delivery.
Review and Edit
Once you have a draft that you are satisfied with, read it over very carefully, sentence by sentence. It’s easy to start subconsciously skimming when you read your own work, so really try to focus on grammar and sentence structure as well as pacing and flow. This is of course not enough proofreading to be called a final draft; you need a second pair of eyes for that. Some people will tell you to find a friend, but that’s actually quite misleading. A friend will be looking out for your feelings, so they may be too nice and not mention any gripes that they had. Find someone you know will be brutally honest with you and have them look over your draft.
Before you go show your short story to anyone as a finished product, it is very wise to just put it down for a month and let your mind be cleared of it. Pick it up with a new perspective and immerse yourself in the story the same way that a reader would. If you feel that it just doesn’t work, go back and rework the plot or just start all over again with a new idea. If you give up on it you’ll never improve, so the most important thing of all is to just keep writing.
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