I like the spirit of thanksgiving. Where I come from, thanksgiving is not celebrated. It's not a holiday or a special day. Even though thankfulness is a big part of our faith, there's no religious, cultural or social event to mark it.
My mum's spent years telling me that I should be thankful every single day. Mum, I know you're right, but it's just not possible! But, remembering to be thankful one day is more than possible.
So keeping with the spirit of the day, I'd like to express my thankfulness for the one thing without which I probably wouldn't know half of what I know - which isn't much to begin with but you get my drift.
The thing I'm most thankful for is the Internet. You heard me folks! Without the Internet I probably wouldn't have gotten interested in writing, I wouldn't have read about different cultures, wouldn't have gotten obsessed with world affairs and my horizons would have remained narrow had I not had access to the world wide web to find answers for every and anything I could think of.
Having been born and raised in a country that in its best years was called a 'developing country', the Internet became my portal of knowledge. It is the reason I chose the discipline I chose for my Bachelors. It's responsible for making me a writer and it is also the medium through which I get work.
Most of all, I'm thankful for all the learning opportunities it gives me. From taking online classes to attending conferences - without it I wouldn't even be a freelancer!
My thanksgiving giveaway: As a thanksgiving gift, I'm going to give 5 working hours free of charge. If you have a project that you want to work on but can't find the time or the money, I'll work for you for no charge.
Remember, I'm a writer so the work should have something to do with words. I'm open to all kinds of work. Writing, editing, proofreading, ghost writing etc. Even that of a Virtual Assistant. Be creative, or not. There are lots of possibilities.
If the work requires less than five hours, I'll take on someone else's work. The offer is valid till Sunday on a first come first serve basis. Monday I start working the allotted hours!Read more ...
Thursday, November 27, 2008 | 8 Comments
In my previous post, I talked about how much I made on my first gig. It's time to spill the beans on how much per article pay I'm getting now and why.
How Much I'm Earning Per Article
For the work I do now I'm being paid $10 per article. Granted, It's not much better than $5 but it's still better than it. Even though the going rates for 500 word articles is three times that, as a starting point for me, I'd say its not bad. Am I aiming too low? Definitely. But I'm new, inexperienced and I'm aware of how much I have to learn. My list of things to learn is incredibly long and the learning process not as fast as I'd like. For this amount, I feel some amount of motivation, take initiative and come up with ideas of my own and work hard on an article.
Why I Accepted Low Paying Work
While I agree that $10 is better than $5, I wouldn't have accepted it if the gig hadn't come with perks. I get an editor, my name to my work, resources to learn SEO, revenue share, a helpful writer's community and the chance of writing for different topics if I so choose. For now, these perks are ideal for me. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is at the top of my 'things to learn' list.
Will I Accept More Work for Similar Pay?
Not a chance! My rule of thumb for freelancing is that every gig (till I get established) should pay better than the previous one. Unless the offer trumps the one I have now in terms of perks, I won't be accepting any more work for $10. If I have to write for that amount, I'd rather continue writing here.
As a seasoned freelancer or a new one, do you agree with my reasoning? Share your experience. Disagree? Feel free to tell me why I'm wrong.Read more ...
Wednesday, November 26, 2008 | 0 Comments
$5 - that's all I wrote my first article for. I had read all there was to read about starting as a freelancer and every freelance blog screamed at me to not sell myself so cheap. They told me I shouldn't give in to pressure of getting my first gig. That I should hold out for better opportunities and pay.
Trust me - it's easier said than done. I cracked from sheer impatience and wrote my first article for $5. My PayPal had been set up 3 weeks ago! An empty bank account was mocking me for not having any money to put into it. Hours and hours of job searching with no results. Countless rejections because I had no prior experience. My self esteem was taking a severe beating and my fingers were itching to send in an article in exchange for pay - which is why I accepted the first writing gig that came my way.
I got paid $5 for a 800 word article. But soon after those $5 came in (of which 50 cents were deducted as service charges), I realized I wouldn't be writing for that client anymore. There was no feeling of accomplishment and no satisfaction. I also didn't do a good job. Without meaning to, my article reflected the amount that was paid for it. You can chalk it up to the article being my first and beginner's nervousness but I honestly feel that I would have striven to do a better job of it had the pay been decent.
Its been two month since the $5 article and my PayPal is sitting at $4.50. I got work this month but the pay for that won't come in till next month. Don't get your hopes up though! The pay isn't much better that $5.
Stay tuned to find out how much I'm making per article in my current gig and why I accepted it.Read more ...
Sunday, November 23, 2008 | 9 Comments
I discovered Windows Live Writer a few months ago and have been publishing the base through it. I wasn't expecting too much from Microsoft's desktop blogging application when I first downloaded it, but I was in for a surprise! It's one of the most comprehensive blogging applications I've used.
Seamless Transitioning Between Different Blogs
You can add as many blogs as you want and it let's you access them with a single click. Save your passwords and you'll be saved from one more step to hinder the process of publishing your blog.
Supports Other Blogging Platforms
While Live Spaces is the first choice it offers, we can add blogs from Blogger, WordPress, TypePad etc by choosing 'Other weblog services'. All you have to do is provide the blog URL, username and password of the service and it retrieves all the information on its own to set up your account on WLW.
Windows Live Writer has the option to add different plug-ins to further enhance the blogging experience. Plug-ins that come with the application can insert hyperlinks, pictures, video, tables, tags and maps. Clicking on 'Add a Plug-in' leads to a Windows Live Gallery where there are different choices depending on your needs.
To learn about which plug-ins would be most useful to increase your productivity through WLW, check out '10 Must have plug-ins for WLW'.
One of the best thing about WLW is the easy navigation.Everything is within sight and easy to understand. Formatting also has the same common keyboard function as that of Microsoft Word and other word processing programs.
Different Viewing Options
What stands out in WLW is the different previewing options. We can view our blog post in normal layout which has the usual white background with the post on it. The Web layout has the general outline of your blog page and the Web preview does a quick scanning of your weblog's template, downloads the settings and stores it to show a preview of how it would look like when published on your blog. The html code view is also there for people who like to tweak their own code.
Last but not the least, is the option to form blog posts and edit them offline. This option was the show stealer for me. We can even have a web preview while we're offline since it downloads our blog template when we ran the web preview option while online.
Verdict: Whether you're new to blogging or an old hand at it, WLW is great for all.Read more ...
Thursday, November 20, 2008 | 0 Comments
When starting a blog, the primary fear of a blogger is that they won't have enough to say to keep updating it regularly. I was no different. This fear was the major part of my decision to only update this blog two to three times a week.
Work related blogs or blogs concentrating on a specific topic or niche, come with more responsibility and pressure. Friends don't count as traffic. You have to plan, edit and proof read posts before publishing them. Then there's the whole process of marketing your blog. Leaving comments on different blogs trying to entice readers to your own through it. It's a lengthy and constant process that takes time, planning and lots of patience. (Yes, I realize it's becoming my mantra but hey, it is true!)
So how do we successfully plan a blog and avoid running out of steam? Before today I would have given a vague answer of making a blog-plan along the lines a small business plan. Had you asked me to lead by example, I would have floundered.
Not anymore however. Ask me that same question and I'd direct you to Blog Energizer. It's a complete dose of everything your blog needs. While there's still two days before it launches (Nov 18th), the cool gifts already on offer are very promising!
- You get a buzz topic report that gives ideas about which topics to write about to create buzz on your blog.
- The 14 months Blogging Calendar is filled with cool observances that can lead to posts, contests and discussions.
- The Blogging Planner is extremely simple and very well thought out.
- You also get a report that talks about thinking outside the box and talks about other ways to gain readers and spread the word.
- There is also a report on different and fun activities to generate more traffic for your blog. After reading them, I found them helpful and will definitely be working towards implementing them.
Head over to Blog Energiser, get your gifts and decide for yourself. Don't forget to sign up for the blog energiser too! I first read about it on the WAHM blog. My first impression of blog energiser is impressive and I plan to follow its development closely.
Tony, this is especially for you in regards to your comment on my previous post. I hope it helps!Read more ...
Sunday, November 16, 2008 | 6 Comments
As a newbie, what I've learned from following other writers and their experiences is priceless. I'll forever be grateful for the invention of blogs for how they've helped me. They're a source of information worth the most expensive course on freelancing. When I decided to freelance three months ago, all I knew was nothing.
Through reading blogs and online books, I've learned three lessons that are engraved in my head. When I reach my first goal for myself I plan on gifting myself with a plaque of top five lessons to never forget, to keep in front of me every time I write.
There are no short cuts.
The best thing I learned is that there are no short cuts to a freelance writing career. It takes time and dedication to be the writer you envisioned yourself to be and to earn half of what you thought you would earn. Be vary of websites screaming that it's easy to be a freelancer or that you can make heaps of money through it. Sure, there are people for whom it has happened. But its not the norm and its not going to happen to me. Or you.
Don't sell yourself cheap
The next lesson that I engraved upon my writer heart was to never sell myself cheap. No matter how desperate I was to get work. I found plenty of people looking for writers to write 500 word article for $1-$3. It felt like an insult to my intelligence but I was on the verge of accepting that maybe this was the norm when I read a discussion in the comment section of a blog about how so many writers were doing work for next to nothing which was why they felt that such rip-off jobs were still on the market.
Persevere and eventually you'll find clients and gigs according to your personal standards.
Don't sell yourself cheap, but don't put too high a price on yourself either. Personal standards should be realistic. Don't expect to get $500 for a 500 word article. If you've got no credential, potential clients won't hire you at the standard rates either. Lower your rates if you must...but be realistic about it too!
It only took me a week to realize that it was going to take me a long time to land any kind of work. I don't have a diverse portfolio. I don't have any references from previous clients, I also have no experience. I knew it would be idiotic to charge high rates. In fact, charging standard rates would have to be let go for the time being too.
If you're a new writer with no experience, you cannot expect to land a column at a national newspaper or magazine. Even applying for such jobs is folly. Keep them as a goal and gain experience and knowledge to work towards materializing that goal.
Find out what the going rates are for the kind of writing you do and charge according to that. Again, that still is no guarantee to get instant work
The gist of all these lessons is that patience and hard work is the key to success. What lessons has freelancing taught you so far?Read more ...
Thursday, November 13, 2008 | 6 Comments
As human beings we keep on learning new things. Whether it's in school, college or on the job. As a freelancer, we couldn't succeed if we didn't keep ourselves open to learning every day with every article or at the very least - every gig.
Learning leads to experience which leads to expertise.
That's the story of a freelancer. You don't need a Master's in English, Communication or Journalism to be successful as a writer. All you need is the love of learning. We, as freelancers start learning from the beginning. Our first article, first gig, first pay check, first returning client and let's not forget - first scam.
Learn from mistakes.
Every writer has either fallen for a scam, missed a deadline, or generally been careless with keeping in touch with a client. All of these happen at some point or other. We're humans and mistakes happen. But if we keep on repeating them we're stupid. Learn from them and we get wise. It's a simple formula really.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. A large part of the learning process of a freelancer is to read, read and read some more of authority blogs and books of established and successful writers. If you've fallen for a scam, read up on the kinds of scam there are, what to watch out for and how to avoid them. Missed a deadline? Find out how other writers stick to their schedules and what techniques and tools do they use. Utilize every resource available to avoid making the most common mistakes freelancers make. Sure, nothing teaches a lesson better than a mistake, but mistakes can be avoided by being prepared.
Don't be dependant on your niche.
Sticking to one genre, or one topic of writing can severely limit a writer's exposure as a freelancer. Depending on a niche to make you successful is not smart planning. Take one topic or genre at a time. Learn about them. Write about them. Keep them in your portfolio for times when you're short on jobs related to your niche. Even if you're not short of work, sometimes a writer needs a break. Writing about a different topic can be a breath of fresh air.
Have something to add to these? Share your views in the comments and add to the list of things we learn on the job. Stay tuned for the things I've learned on the job so far.Read more ...
Monday, November 10, 2008 | 1 Comments
A freelancer is easy to please. All you gotta do is accept their submission, pay them on time and tell them they do a good job. Really, how hard is that? As a freelancer, I'm learning to appreciate every small thing. Someone replying with a rejection is also appreciated. At least they bothered to tell me they were rejecting my application! That's more than I can say for a lot of freelance writing jobs out there.
Every freelancer has a bliss. Something that makes them feel successful, happy, content and rewarded. Whether its getting so much work that they have to turn employers away, or getting published in their favourite magazine, Getting that big fat pay check for which they worked diligently or finding out that someone other than yourself reads your brand new blog.
That last one would probably be me if it happened to me. Since it hasn't yet, my bliss till now is a little different. My freelancing bliss is having my article accepted without a single revision! Yep, you heard me. My web article did not require any changes from the editor. I got a "This article is ready to go" e-mail and boy did it feel good!
What's your bliss as a freelancer?Read more ...
Friday, November 07, 2008 | 5 Comments
In my last post, I boldly claimed that I knew blogging like the back of my hand. Now I can just imagine the looks I'd have gotten from people who treat their blogs like a business and continuously do so much to make it productive that they can point out ten things that I'm not doing right in this blog with just a glance. The good thing is that so can I. Apart from setting up a blog, updating it regularly, using similar templates for my blog and portfolio blog to give it a sense of connection, I haven't done anything at all. There is no interactiveness here, nothing to tell about the author and absolutely nothing to sell. To begin with I'll point out five things that I know I'm doing wrong. Five is all my ego can take at the moment!
1. No 'About Me' page - There should be one. A picture of the writer is great to associate with the blog but what is the writer like? A page about the writer and/or blog is as important as the blog itself. So why haven't I one? Because I haven't quite worked out how to add a page in blogspot when clearly it doesn't let us put up separate pages like wordpress.
2. No pictures with my posts - This is something I need to work on. Sadly, Flickr is blocked in UAE (which is where I am) so I need to find other sources. I know there are several other sources. I could make an entire blog post out of it. Suffice it to say, I'm lacking in this area because I had this idea to make my own illustrations for posts. The only thing stopping me is that I don't know how to make illustrations. It's in my 'things to learn' list.
3. I'm not selling my services through this blog - Yep, it's the biggest mistake a freelance writer could make. Any potential client coming by my blog has no idea what kind of writing I do or what services I offer. Do I write web content? or blogs? Or do I write for print media? What kind of different writings can I do? No one going through this blog would know.
4. No blogroll - I don't spread link love. Another faux pas, one that is in the works. I subscribe to countless freelancing blogs. And every week they come up with some really great posts and articles about the business of freelancing. Yet I read them, hoard them but don't share them.
5. No promotion of my blog - I haven't done any promotion of 'The Base'. I have possibly one reader which is the witty Sal, and he probably stumbled upon my blog through one of the comments I made on some freelancing blog. Him finding my blog can be chalked off as a fluke because the number of writing blogs I've commented on can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
I also don't use any of the social networking sites to promote my blog except for linkedin. I use Facebook, Digg, Del.icio.us, Stumble Upon and Twitter as well. I'm on a couple of forums too yet the promotion hasn't happened. And its not like I don't know how to promote. I do. Had I stayed back home I would have been working for a major local marketing firm. My internships were all in marketing departments and I was lucky to intern in firms that believed in sucking the intern's brain dry through work. Promotion of my blog is one of the things that will happen in its time.
If I know what I'm not doing right with my blog, then why have I not fixed it yet? Because I'm a firm believer in everything having its own time. It will possibly seem a weird philosophy to most but I like to plan and move things forward in stages. I want to enjoy the process of doing things. I enjoy seeing the progress my changes make. I have given myself six months to develop my blog the way I want it to. In the meantime I will be learning more and more things that will help me. Too much, too soon is not something I want. I don't want success soon. I don't want big bucks soon. I want to improve and progress as a writer.
All this does not mean that I don't have big plans for myself. I most certainly do. My plans are so big that when I accomplish them all, I'll be super woman! With a different costume of course and a laptop as my super power. Patience and hard work is the name of the game called success.
Have anything to add to my list of 'things I'm doing right?' What did you do wrong when you started out? Read more ...
Saturday, November 01, 2008 | 5 Comments