6/17/14

My Next Foray into Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you'll know I'm a BIG advocate of writers enhancing their own incomes by putting their writing talents to good use. That means finding ways to earn more money from your freelance writing efforts.

As a freelance writer, there are SO many opportunities to earn more and more money from your talents. You can create your own blog and find ways to monetize your content. You can write for private clients. You can sell your writing on private marketplaces, such as Constant Content. You can join content mills and write random content for clients. You can pitch your article ideas to magazine editors or newspaper editors.

Or you can create passive income from royalties on ebook sales.

That's right. When you take the time to write an ebook, you do all the work of perfecting your manuscript. You create the content. You edit the words you wrote. You polish your creation and then you publish it. Each time someone buys a copy of your book, you earn a little more income, known as royalties.

Now, if you've read any of my previous posts you'll already know I despise the idea of revenue-share sites. Sharing the revenue some other website owner earns really isn't true passive income at all.

But I seriously LOVE the whole idea of royalties on book sales.

So... Would you like to see the latest series of ebooks I've just released via the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing platform? Okay, here they are....


Yay!! I'm really pleased with how they turned out.
Here's the fun part - I'll be releasing ONE book per day as a freebie download over the next few days. So if you'd like to check out my Kindle ebooks without paying for them, keep an eye on the freebie lists. They'll only be free for 24 hours each, but I've already set the promotion dates for each of them. Take advantage of them while they're available.
Oh - and if you do download them, I'd love it if you'd take the time to leave a review. That would be awesome

5/27/14

Can You Leverage Amazon’s Kindle Publishing to Boost Your Freelance Writing Income?

Can You Leverage Amazon’s Kindle Publishing to Boost Your Freelance Writing Income?

Did you know there are more than 18 million Kindle devices worldwide? There are almost half a billion Android devices out there as well, along with almost 400 million Apple iOS devices, all of which can download and read Kindle ebooks. Of course, you’re also able to read Kindle ebooks right from your desktop computer screen, using the right software to make reading accessible.

That’s certainly a lot of people around the world with access to downloading and reading ebooks. Of course, Amazon lists almost 2 million ebooks in their e-bookstore for you to browse and choose from. When you combine the sheer number of people browsing for something to read with the massive traffic Amazon generates, it’s easy to see why so many writers are jumping onto the Kindle publishing bandwagon.

So how can a freelance writer leverage the power of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform to boost freelance income?

It’s much easier than you think….

Write Your Knowledge

No matter what your clients might pay you to write, it’s very likely you’ll have a hobby or passion that you enjoy writing about in your own time. Think about what you already know a lot about. You might have a great way to help moms think up healthy meals that kids love. You might know a good way to train dogs to be perfect puppies.

You might love gardening and have plenty of knowledge to teach others who have never even pulled a weed before. Your hobby might be golf or fishing or sailing or jogging or….

You get the point. Think about what you already know. Make some notes about your knowledge. Compile those notes into some kind of logical order and turn them into an ebook.

Write Your Research

If you’ve been a freelance writer for any length of time, chances are you’ve written about some strange, bizarre, fascinating, obscure, interesting, helpful and truly weird topics for your clients. I still get surprised by some of the odd topics my clients order from me at times.

Of course, before I write anything at all I spend some time researching the topic. I always keep my research filed for future reference, just in case.

When I’m out of ideas for something new to write, I’ll go back through my research files. It’s sometimes entertaining to see the variety of topics I have lots of information about. Collate your information. Sort it into logical order and turn it into an ebook.

Write from Imagination

Yes, there’s always room for a freelance writer to get creative. Spark that imaginative flair and write a short story or a short novel. Write the type of stories you love to read. Format your story nicely and turn it into an ebook.

Why Bother with Kindle Publishing?

When I first heard about writers making decent incomes on Amazon via the Kindle ebookstore, I screwed up my nose and decided it wasn’t for me. After all, if ebooks are selling for .99 cents per download, that’s mere pennies.

Surely my time is better spent writing highly paid articles, right?

Boy, was I wrong.

You see, a friend of mine jumped onto the bandwagon a few years ago (yes, it’s my regular friend and mentor, Lee. Hi, Lee…) She wrote some simple ‘how-to’ ebooks and published them under a pen name. Her sales were steady, so she wrote some more in a different niche under a different pen name.

Two years later, she has a series of best-selling novels and a huge collection of ‘how-to’ series generating more income than she used to earn writing full time as a freelance writer. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ll know Lee has a team of 12 freelance writers working for her almost full time just to keep up with orders.

Many of her smaller titles don’t make significant amounts of money on their own. In fact, she has a couple of titles that maybe churn $40-$50 per month each. Nothing to write home about, surely.

But then she released those big profitable best-selling fiction titles that blew her monthly income through the roof! Rather than write another series of high-paying fiction, she promptly released another quick series of how-to books again.

My first question to her was: “Why didn’t you focus on writing the more profitable fiction stuff to start with?”

Her answer surprised me. She said “I write full time as a freelance writer. Orders from the clients come first. In my spare time I put together well-researched chapters about information that people need or want or find helpful. It’s all I had time to do.”

Then she said: “Besides, if you write something straightforward like a how-to instructional book, you’re working from reference material. You can have it finished in a matter of days, spend another couple of days editing it for quality and then publish it right away. Writing fiction takes time. A LOT of time. And patience. And creativity. And more time.”

In essence, those short simple non-fiction books and how-to books might only earn $50 per month. But imagine if you had 10 of them selling comfortably every month. Imagine if you had 20 of them. Or 50. Or 100! That would be cool.

And then you’d have income coming in that would allow you to focus on the more time-consuming fiction writing that has the potential to earn even more money each month.

By diversifying the types of books she has for sale, her income can’t be affected if sales of one or two slow down, or if a particular topic goes out of style. She spread her risk and guaranteed her income.

Why All the Different Pen Names?

Now, my friend has an easily-recognizable name in the writing industry. Yet she released a large percentage of her ebooks under different pen names.

I just couldn’t work out why she wouldn’t want to capitalize on the recognition of her own name. Again, I asked her why.

She said: “I chose to use different pen names across different genres to keep them separate.”

If you love to read romance fiction from one author and she also wrote nasty, gory horror books, or books about making model trains, or wrote about cooking with gluten-free ingredients, or wrote about cultivating a worm farm in your back yard, would you buy those too just because her name is on the cover?

Or would you stick to the genres and topics you prefer and follow individual authors across your chosen niches?

Why Start with Simple Books?

That first series of basic how-to books taught her the intricacies of Kindle Publishing. It taught her about the formatting requirements and how Amazon’s formatting can sometimes skew your paragraphs and page breaks. She learned  how to tweak her book descriptions to boost sales a bit more. It taught her about book promotion and marketing tactics. And it taught her how to work through the payment systems Amazon has in place for earnings in different currencies.

I really thought about my friend’s advice long and hard. I definitely saw the benefits of learning the industry and the publishing platform with a series of simple books. I also saw the benefit of having a consistent income rolling in each month on books that were faster to write, giving me some freedom later to write more detailed work.

How Do You Promote Your Kindle Books?

I asked my friend how she promotes her books. She promptly wrote an article for her own blog so everyone can learn some marketing basics. You can find her article about Kindle book promotion here: http://fictionfactor.com/articles/book-promotion-tips-for-marketing-your-amazon-kindle-ebook/



So….

When is your first Kindle ebook being launched on Amazon’s ebookstore? Let me know your thoughts on the whole ebook publishing idea.


;)

4/16/14

Paying Tax On Freelance Writing Earnings as an International Writer - Part Two

I wrote at length about paying tax on freelance writing earnings as an international writer in an earlier post (here: http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/paying-tax-as-international-freelance.html)

The original post looks at tracking your ACTUAL foreign income earnings from other countries in each different currency. It also looks at being accurate about tracking your converted earnings to your local currency as soon as you earn it so you're able to pay taxes correctly in the right currency.

While I provided a few examples to illustrate where you should be paying your own taxes, one reader offered an example I didn't cover.

Jords wrote:
What about this. A further complication....
Australian writer, living in Spain for the year.

Australian government still classifies me as a resident for tax purposes. Spanish tax office says I need to pay tax here as I will be here for more that 180 days.

Any advice before I pull my last hairs out.

That's an interesting dilemma - but it's not impossible.

Here's how I would work this situation:

Let's assume Jords is earning a mix of US dollars, Euros and UK pounds. Being an Australian writer, Jords still needs to pay taxes in Australia to the Australian taxation office each year.

However, the Spanish tax office wants Jords to pay taxes on earnings in Spain as well. I note that the Spanish financial year runs from 1 January to 31 December, while the Australian financial year runs from 1 July to 30 June. This overlap is a real pain in the @$$ (it's also the same overlap with the Aussie to US financial year).

I don't have to pay tax in Spain, but I sometimes end up paying tax in the US during that overlap of financial year.

So... let's get into it.

Step One: Create a spreadsheet that shows precisely how much was earned in foreign currency AND how much that converts to in Aussie dollars in the next column. Create a new column to reflect how much the same amount converts to in Euros. Tally each column at the end of the reporting timeframe.

Step Two: Register your Australian writing business to complete your BAS (Business Activity Statement) quarterly via the Australian Taxation Office web portal. (this is a painful exercise all by itself.... but awesome once it's set up)

Step Three: Enter ALL your non-Australian writing earnings into the 'foreign income' category, (no GST paid on foreign income - yay) but be ABSOLUTELY certain you enter the Australian-dollar equivalent amount into the form. If you also earn Aussie dollars, enter that amount into the regular income section, along with any GST claimed (if applicable). Provide a total income amount and your quarterly PAYE tax amount will be calculated automatically for you. You CAN amend this down to zero on the online form if you wish, but it's not usually a good idea.

Step Four: Declare any tax you have already paid to the Spanish tax office on your quarterly BAS AND your annual Aussie tax return. After all, you don't want to be paying taxes on the same income twice in two countries!

Step Five: Declare any tax you have already paid to the Australian tax office on your Spanish tax return. From what I can tell, Spain won't care what you've already paid elsewhere. But the Aussie tax office DOES! They should (.... remember the operative word here is should!) reduce the amount of tax owed here in the form of a tax credit for amounts already paid overseas on the same income amounts.

Step Six: Keep track of the two different end-of-financial year dates and be aware of the overlap. Always double-check your conversion rates and always report in the correctly converted currency.  You're reporting in two different countries with very different tax laws, so it matters that you get it right.

Step Seven: Learn as much as you can about what's deductible in which tax system for where you live. After all, there are some benefits to earning foreign income living abroad in terms of deductions and costings with the ATO. This will help keep your taxes down :)

***Important Note: I am not an accountant! I am just a freelance writer earning money from multiple countries in a variety of currencies.***


I hope this helps :)



3/26/14

How to Get a 30% Increase in Amazon Kindle Royalties

Have you written and published anything on the Amazon Kindle store yet? You're a freelance writer, after all. It makes sense to write your own stuff along with articles for clients too.

I've had a couple of different book series selling well in the Kindle bookstore for almost 2 years now and they royalties are really handy each month.

The biggest problem I've had as a non-US author is that Amazon insist on withholding 30% of my royalty income and giving it to the IRS. You see, when you sign up for your Kindle Direct Publishing account, you're required to submit a short tax questionnaire. Your answers determine whether they withhold almost a third of your income or not.

The only way I had to get that income back into my account where it belongs was to submit a tax return in the US each year. That's really painful, especially since I already submit a tax return here in Australia at a different time every year.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when my long-time friend and mentor figured out a way to get out of paying that 30% withholding amount.

You can find the original article, along with instructions how to stop the IRS from withholding 30% of your royalty payments here:
http://fictionfactor.com/articles/getting-out-of-the-30-tax-withholding-for-non-us-amazon-kindle-authors/

Now, I followed the instructions and I figure it took me around 15 minutes to complete the necessary steps. The IRS issued me a new EIN immediately.

I logged into my Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing account, re-submitted the tax questionnaire with the EIN included and now they don't withhold ANYTHING from my income.

That's an instant 30% pay rise I just received on my royalty checks each month!! Thanks for the tip, Lee. The additional income is MUCH appreciated.

:)

2/3/14

Bubblews Has NO Confidence In Its Own Future!

You may recall I wrote at some length about whether its worth writing for a site called "Bubblews" earlier on this blog. After learning that you give up all your rights to anything you post there, and after comparing the low pay to real freelance writing opportunities available (here and here) I gave up trying to help those writers who seem to be somewhat brainwashed by the whole pennies-per-hour culture.

I also learned they are asking people to "interview" the site owners. According to the Bubblews website, they're happy for ANYONE to email them with questions they say they will answer "honestly".

Of course, in my efforts to warn REAL online freelance writers away from rip-off scam sites paying writers pennies-per-hour for their time and effort, I immediately emailed the Bubblews staff a list of questions at once!

Here is an exact copy of the email I sent:

I own a blog that focuses on helping freelance writers increase their income from home. The blog is at http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com

My questions are as follows:

1) What do you see Bubblews evolving into over the next 12 months? Or will it stay as it is right now?

2) Does the threat of a "Google Slap" punishment for low-quality content bother Bubblews in any way in terms of traffic or advertising revenue?

3) Is the revenue-share model and payment structure you've adopted for Bubblews sustainable over the long term, or is the payment structure chosen simply a way to build popularity during the start-up phase?

4) Is there a valid reason as to why so many people receive zero response from admin staff to queries received regarding redemption issues, other than "we're too busy"?

5) Do you actively employ writers directly to endorse the site on this site, or any others, in blog posts, Bubbles, or other forms of endorsement, to improve the perception of Bubblews, or to enhance the online reputation of the company?

Thank you in advance for your responses. I'm certain my blog readers will be very keen to see your replies.

That email was sent to Bubblews almost 2 months ago. As expected, I received ZERO response.

Apparently, the Bubblews management, admin and staff only bother to respond to people who offer them positive feedback on their amateur efforts, their low pay and their poorly designed, badly coded and unreliably hosted site. They don't seem interested in honest questions from real freelance writers who want honest answers.

If you're one of those poor, mistreated, misled, underpaid people being paid a few pathetic pennies-per-hour for your time and effort on Bubblews, I'd love to hear from you.

Likewise, if you've managed to get the Bubblews team to respond to your interview questions at all, I'd REALLY love to read their responses to your questions - almost as much as I'd like to read your initial questions.

After all, any long-term professional website with any credibility or future would happily answer questions from ALL their readers - not just the brain-washed slaves willing to sing their praises...
:)

1/11/14

Are You Giving Away All Your Rights When You Write on Bubblews?

Blowing Bubblews

You've probably heard all the hype surrounding revenue-share site Bubblews. There are plenty of people singing the praises for Bubblews being an 'easy way to make money online'.
The rules are so simple. Write about anything you want, make sure your post is at least 400 characters long, post it and you make money. 400 characters is around 100 words, so it's quick to get going.
What could be easier?
The site is filled with thousands of people posting endless 'bubbles' about what they ate for breakfast or about some mundane thing they saw on the way to work.
There are also loads of posts containing highly personal information, such as kid's names, family member's names, pet names, locations of where they live, personal family photos, and other personal trivia.
Of course, there are also people there willing to publish their own creative inspirations, such as poems and short stories, all in the hopes of earning a few extra pennies.

What Are Your Rights?

When you write anything at all for Bubblews, you do all the hard work. You do the writing. You promote your posts. You try hard to find more people to view your work. And then Bubblews pay you a few pennies (if you get paid at all, that is....)
But what does Bubblews get out of the bargain?
Maybe it's time to read their Terms of Use a bit more closely and see what you're REALLY giving away.
If you look at Paragraph 5, Section C in some detail, you'll notice a lot of legal sounding jargon that looks as follows:
Bubblews.com owns a copyright in the selection, coordination, arrangement and enhancement of such content, as well as in the content original to it. You may not modify, publish, transmit, participate in the transfer or sale, create derivative works or in any way exploit any of the content, in whole or in part.

Is Your Work Still Your Own?

So, once you've published your 'work' on Bubblews, do you still own it? Or is the copyright for your work handed over to Bubblews in return for a few pennies?
What about those beloved photos of your kids and pets you posted to the site? How about those precious poems you labored over during their creation? Do the rights for those now belong to the site's owners?
I've seen it written that many people are happy to post "otherwise under-performing" articles on Bubblews in the hopes of making a few extra cents.
When the next big revenue-share site fad is launched and you want to shift your work over to the new site, what happens then? If you delete your own posts on Bubblews, they deduct money from your account. If you don't have much in your account, your bank balance will drop to a negative figure indicating that YOU owe THEM money for removing THEIR content!
Let's find the nicely worded section in the Terms of Use that explains that little bit of trivia more clearly. You'll find it in Paragraph 5, Section D:
...you grant Bubblews.com and its assignees and licensees right to review and make public any and all game play, film, photograph and record your name, nickname, pseudonym, persona, picture, biographical material, voice and/or likeness and to use and distribute the same in any manner or media whatsoever, by any and all means, media, devices, processes and technology now or hereafter known or devised anywhere in the universe at anytime in perpetuity, for any lawful purpose whatsoever, including advertising, publicity or trade.

Blowing Bubblews Back at You

In Paragraph 5, Section D, it actually states that by posting any of your work to Bubblews, you're handing it over to them in exchange for a few pennies. That's right, folks, they can do what they want with YOUR hard work. You accepted the pennies in payment and they get to do what they want with YOUR work, photos, artwork or whatever else you post to the site.
Aren't you generous?
By submitting material to any public area of this Site, or otherwise submitting materials to Bubblews.com, you automatically grant, or warrant that the owner of such material has expressly granted Bubblews.com the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, edit, creative derivative works from, distribute, and sub-license such material (in whole or in part, through multiple tiers and/or via syndication) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or hereafter developed for the full term of any copyright that may exist in such material. You also permit any other user to access, view, store or reproduce the material for their personal use.

What About Using Graphics on Your Bubblews Posts?

Almost everyone uses graphics to highlight their Bubblews posts. Some people make their own graphics featuring nothing more than their name or random pictures. (yes, Bubblews owns those too - you submitted them. You got a couple pennies. They're not yours any longer...)
However, lots of people choose to use images from royalty-free stock sites. As long as you have the rights to use and reprint those images - and you credit the source correctly - you have no problem.
But if you spend even 5 minutes on the site, you'll see tons of Bubblews posts float past the 'recent additions' scroll featuring images that are copyrighted to other people. There are pictures of celebrities and products and name brands floating around on the site at any time.
So, what happens when the rightful copyright owners decide to take up legal action against Bubblews for publishing a copyrighted image? Yet again, their Terms of Use make it really clear how they intend to deal with that. Just read Paragraph 6, that states:
Any controversy, claim or dispute arising out of or relating to these Terms of Service, its breach or claimed breach shall be settled by arbitration administered by the American Arbitration Association in accordance with its Commercial Arbitration Rules in Virginia, except that, to the extent you have in any manner violated or threatened to violate Bubblews.com 's intellectual property or confidentiality rights, Bubblews.com may seek injunctive, monetary or other appropriate relief in any state or federal court in the State of Virginia (and Bubblews.com may assert both intellectual property causes of action and other appropriate causes of action in any such action), and you consent to exclusive jurisdiction and venue in such courts.
Awesome!
They even TELL you they're coming after you to seek compensation for any damages YOU caused them by publishing whatever you want in your 'bubbles'.

Did Bubblews Make it Clear Enough Yet?

Just in case you didn't read the rest of the Terms of Use on the Bubblews website, they decided to make it abundantly clear in Paragraph 8 that YOU will be held responsible if someone decides to pursue legal action against them in anyway, including coming after YOU for their expenses and fees:
You agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Bubblews.com, Bubblews.com affiliated companies and their respective directors, officers, employees, agents, assignees and licensees from and against all claims and expenses, including attorneys' fees, resulting from (i) any breach of these Terms of Service or your negligent and wrongful conduct; (ii) your use and access of this Site, including the posting of any content on this Site by you; and (iii) violation by you of any applicable law, rule or regulation.

Think Before You Bubble

If you're happy bubbling away on Bubblews, fine. Go for it! Have fun!
Just be sure you think about what you're posting - because you're giving away all your rights the moment you hit that submit button.
I still refuse to endorse any site that makes getting paid a random event.

1/7/14

Claiming Foreign Earnings as Export Income for International Freelance Writers

A reader left an interesting comment on a previous post about international freelance writing income: http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com.au/2010/08/benefits-of-being-international-writer.html

Emma asked:
Hi Bianca, I was wondering how you claim income if it is not a full rights sale of an article and the income is from a foreign country? For example, if you earn residual income from a company like Hubpages where you do not sell them your article, or if you earn income from an affiliate sale that came from an article written on your own site about a product? Do you still claim these as export income, or as regular income?

Basically, if you earn any income from a foreign country in a currency that is different to your own local currency, it's instantly foreign income - regardless of where you earned it.

For example: if you live in Canada and you sell an article to a US client and you're paid in US dollars, you earned foreign income.

Now, Emma's questions was more about residual income, such as through HubPages. In this case, you're not selling your own article, but you ARE still earning foreign income. The amount you earned is still paid to you in US dollars and it still forms part of your freelance business's revenue.

Obviously, you'll need to convert that income to your own local currency in order to spend it. But the amount you earned was still derived from a foreign source.

Personally, the Australian Taxation Office asks that I report ALL income in Australian dollars. Yet I earn the vast majority of my income in US dollars, Canadian dollars, British pounds or Euros.

So I keep a spreadsheet that shows me exactly how much I received in which currency AND what that amount of money equates to after it's been converted to Australian dollars. I also take careful note of any fees charged for the exchange, as those are tax deductible for me.

Then I report the TOTAL income amount to the Australian Taxation Office - but the form includes two separate components: one is for locally earned money and the other is for export income earned. It's important to keep the amounts separated wherever you can.

While the total income may be shown in your local currency, one component of your income will be comprised of foreign earnings. Those foreign earnings are usually taxed differently within most countries' taxation laws. It pays to ask your accountant how this works for your own country's laws and how you should report it, just to be sure you're getting it right.

What If You're Paid in Local Currency from a Foreign Source?

One aspect of foreign earnings that can be very tricky is when you're paid in your local currency, but the source is still a foreign client.

As an example, if you set up a Google Adsense account you can change the currency you receive to be the same as your local currency. I personally receive Australian dollars when I reach payout with Google.

However, the client is still American. The source of the income is still American, despite the fact that they pay my in Australian dollars.

Therefore, any income I earn from Adsense ads is automatically export earnings and is considered foreign income.

I hope this helps!

12/27/13

Increase Freelance Writing Income by Broadening Your Income Sources

There are so many writers around complaining about how hard it is to make a decent income from writing articles these days. Unless you've signed up to a site paying pennies-per-hour for your time and effort, nothing could be further from the truth! I’ve been writing full-time for 8 years now and I’ve learned that a good writer can easily earn a full-time income from their writing efforts. 

In order to break away from the low-paying ranks, you’ll need to treat your writing as a business proposition – and this means learning to make sure your business has as many streams of income coming into it as you possibly can. The key to making this work for you is to treat your writing skills as a viable, marketable product - and then go out and find the right customers for your particular products

In business terms this is called “broadening your debtor base” but it simply means making sure that there is always money coming in from someone, somewhere, all the time. If you rely on just one source of income, then you’re really in trouble if that one source dries up! The more sources of income you have coming into the business, the more chance you have of getting your business to grow to a six-figure income.

Here are some of my favorite options for keeping my writing business strong:

1) Write Articles Offline
This is the main income source for my writing business. I’ll write about whatever topic comes into my head. Selling articles to magazines and newspapers is fun, challenging and rewarding - and pays a whole lot MORE than any writing market you'll find online. Do a Google Search for “Writer’s Market Listings” and search out the high-paying magazines actively looking to pay big dollars for quality articles.

2) Write Articles Online
This has become a secondary form of income for me in the last year because the pay is about 1/10 of what you could earn by writing for offline publications. Even though the pay-rate is lower, the potential for quick, easy, repeat-business means quick cash into your writing business. 

Marketplaces like Constant Content make it very easy to write anything you feel like. You set your own prices and wait for buyers to snap them up. I've written a lot about how to earn more from Constant Content sales on this blog already, so check them out (http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/increasing-your-freelance-income-with.html)

You can also find plenty of private clients willing to pay good rates for professional, reliable writers to create content for them. If you're really stuck, you'll also find various content mills around the place offering to pay a flat rate for articles you generate.

3) Royalties
I am always amazed when I meet a writer who is serious about earning a full-time income from writing - and they haven't even considered the true value of earning royalties for their skills. You get paid royalties for writing a book, novella or short story and publishing it with a good publisher or publishing platform. It doesn't matter whether your work is non-fiction and informational in nature or a fictional story you created. You do the work once and you earn money for each sale you make for as long as that work remains available for sale! Such an easy option to boost income for any real freelance writer. You will have to think about some book promotion and marketing tactics to keep sales coming in, but it's really easy when you know how.

4) Write Fillers
This one is a weird little writing market – but it’s one of my favorites. The pay-rate per word is so high and the work is so quick that you can churn out quite a lot of these every week and make good money. A “filler” is the tiny snippet of information you'll find in multiple places and pages inside every magazine. It might be a joke or a riddle or a funny saying or puzzle or even a recipe. Many glossy magazines will pay $20-$25 for a 50-word phrase or joke or recipe. That’s great money for very little work!

5) Paid Blogging
I’ve had a blog for a while but it never occurred to me that people would pay me to post in my own blog! But they do. My logic in taking on this extra source of writing income was that I’m now being paid to do what I was doing anyway! There are sites around that will pay you to blog about topics their clients want. Others will pay you to create blog posts for their own blogs. Easy money.

6) Building Your Own Blog
When you write on your own blog, you're building your brand. You have the freedom to monetize your site however you choose and it's likely you'll be happy to share the links to your blog posts on various social media sites you have profiles on. You're building a readership at the same time as giving you another platform to write on.

7) Value Your Time
If you're serious about earning a full-time income that will cover your bills and sustain your lifestyle comfortably, it's important you take stock of how much you're earning for your efforts in the time you spend. As an example, if you spend 1 hour writing an article you intend to sell on Constant Content for $50, it's likely you're earning around $32.50 per hour (that's after CC take their fee from your sale). However, if you spend waste 50 hours per week trying to earn $50 on a pennies-per-hour amateur site like Bubblews, you're earning $1 per hour.

Always monitor the hourly rate you're earning for your writing skills and talents. Have some self-respect and get rid of any writing avenue that doesn't match up to the amount you need to survive. Be brave enough to replace low paying sources with better quality clients or writing income sources as you find them.

These are just a few ideas to help increase your writing income. The best part about writing across different forms and niches is that you never get bored. You’ve always got something different to work on – and they all have the power to increase your income!

Any writer who is really willing to diversify and break into a few different forms of writing will find that earning a full-time income really is easier than you think! 

12/13/13

Writing Articles for Upfront Pay vs Writing for Revenue Share Sites


Have you ever read a freelance writing blog or website that tells you how AWESOME revenue share sites are for earning extra income? Usually, those tips are written by freelance writers who work from home and earn a bit of pocket change working on some cheap-skate revenue share sites.

Now, don't get me wrong - there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with earning a few extra bucks on the side from your writing efforts. Good for you! It's a great way to earn some pocket money.

What I'm talking about are those freelance writers who really want to make a real, sustainable, full-time income from their writing skills. You won't find any realistic tips to further your freelance writing career by following the advice from someone who earns a few pennies per hour on a revenue-share site.

How do I know this? I've joined up and made contributions to a few of those sites in the name of being able to research my reviews honestly and thoroughly. You can see two of them here:

Bubblews - http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2013/10/can-you-really-earn-money-writing-for.html
HubPages - http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2013/04/more-passive-income-from-freelance.html

All the freelance writing "tips" you've read from other beginners tell you it's a good idea to write lots and lots and lots of articles. Unless you're on Bubblews, then you're told to write lots and lots and lots of posts that their community call "bubbles".

You're also told not to expect much while you're still starting out. Rather, you're encouraged to keep submitting more content to a website you don't own and you don't control so those faceless website owners can get richer off your efforts while your popularity is still growing.

Let's Do Some Math...

I hear you groaning over there "oh, Bianca you're such a math-nerd". But seriously, math can be awesome fun for proving where your time and writing efforts are better spent.

Let's assume you spend 5 hours per day writing articles or posts for a revenue-share site, such as Bubblews. You spend another hour finding ways to promote your articles and entice other people to read them so you can earn a few extra pennies. You connect to a lot of other people, read their stuff, leave a comment and hope like crazy they bother to read yours in return.

By the end of the week, you've worked 30 hours and you've earned $25 (if you're lucky). YAY! That's less than a dollar an hour... if you can manage to get page views high enough... if you can get that many people viewing your articles... if the site's advertisers actually pay enough to warrant paying you a few cents for that post...if the site's cheap web-hosts actually keep the site online long enough for you to post anything on there...

If you do the same thing for 12 months, you'll have earned a grand total of $1,300... maybe. Remember, the amount you earn is shared revenue. If the site you're writing on loses their advertisers or changes their advertising modules, or if Google changes their algorithms again, your income could easily go way DOWN. You're also heavily dependent on making sure you can get lots and lots and lots of people to view your articles or posts.

Every. Single. Day....

All year long. Without stopping.

What's the Alternative?

Now let's look at it a different way. Let's assume you spend two hours writing a well-researched, well-written 700 word article and you submit it to a good marketplace like Constant Content or Ghostbloggers or Daily Article. You charge $78 for your effort. The marketplace takes their cut and you're left with $50 in your pocket that you get paid for right away.

You've earned $50 for 2 hours work. That's $25 per hour. Not awesome, but certainly not bad. Imagine spending 30 hours per week doing the same thing? That's a potential income of $750 per week if you did this full time. That's money you receive right now without having to spend hours promoting someone else's site or spend waste time commenting/liking/interacting. You simply move onto the next order.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Let's just stick with spending only two hours a week, writing one single, solitary article per week at $50 per piece. You put that in the bank and you earn 4% interest on your earnings. After 12 months, you have a guaranteed $2,704.12 in your account. Not a bad effort for 2 hours work per week.

It's also more than double what you could earn if you spent wasted your time on a crappy $1 per hour revenue-share site and the money is guaranteed. It's not a guess. It's not a maybe. That money is yours.

How does it look side by side:


Revenue-Share Site
Selling Articles
Words Written
100 per post
700 per article
Number of pieces written
20
1
Sub-total words per week
2,000 (+words written for comments)
700
Number of comments left
100 (about 20 words per comment = 2,000)
0
Total words per week
4,000
700
Number of connections required
50
0
Time spent per week
30
2
Amount earned
$25 (maybe)
$50 (after fees)
Earnings after 1 year
$1,300
$2,600
Guaranteed Payment
No
Yes

Okay, so based on this example I know I would rather spend 2 hours earning $50 I can spend right NOW than spending 30 hours earning a variable and unpredictable amount of money that may never arrive. Besides, once I've earned my money, I can go hang out at the beach or in my boat and relax and enjoy the company of my husband and my daughter and my dog and the rest of my family. I'm not "bubbling" for 12-13 hours a day into the small hours of the night to earn an extra 3 cents.

Of course, I happen to work more than 35 hours per week writing articles for various clients and marketplaces ,so I do earn more than the examples shown here. It's not difficult. It's not slavery. It's not rocket science.

However, if you're still starting out 2 hours per week is a great start for someone wanting to start replacing income from a job with writing income. It's also a very handy part-time income for anyone already earning money elsewhere.

Comparing Accurately

Just to ensure that I'm giving accurate comparisons, in the past month I spent 30 minutes per day - AFTER I'd finished actual properly and respectfully paid writing assignments - spending wasting time on Bubblews to see whether the "claims" of various bubblers were actually true.
(here's the original post: http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2013/10/can-you-really-earn-money-writing-for.html)

Yes, I got paid twice - despite the fact that lots of writers don't get paid by this site. If I spent 30 minutes per day on the site I earned a little more than $25 per month.

If I spent 30 minutes per day writing articles, I earned $50 per day which adds up to more than $1,100 per month. TWO HOURS PER DAY compared to more than 30 hours a week....

Gee... let me think for a moment.... Um $25 per MONTH on a crappy revenue-share site paying pennies or $50 per DAY? Hmmmm.... take a moment.... think about it.... what would you do?

Get the idea?

Even if you sold your articles for $10 each and write five articles per week, you're still earning $50 per week, which is still $200 per month - and still far more profitable than spending wasting time on a site like Bubblews.

Math lesson over.

11/27/13

Writing for Revenue Share Sites vs Writing On Your Own Private Blog



I admit it. I'm a numbers-nerd. I like to compare options and work out the actual numbers before I make a decision that might impact my freelance writing business.

Recently, I've had a lot of people slam my decision to NOT recommend revenue-sharing sites.

So here's my math-nerd response - and some questions for you to consider in the meanwhile.

Answer these questions...

Are you willing to write lots and lots of content for free in the hopes that you MIGHT earn some "passive" income in the future?

Are you also willing to spend a lot of time promoting your work to make sure you get lots of page views?

Does the idea of reading and commenting on lots of other people's pointless, aimless posts in the hopes that they might visit yours in return excite you?

If you said yes to any of these things, you probably already spend a lot of time trying to earn money from writing on a revenue share site. You may also own your own blog.

How do Revenue Share Sites Work?

Revenue share sites all work on a similar platform. The site owners earn money from advertising revenue generated by the content you create for them. They pay you a tiny portion of the revenue they receive based on how popular your posts are and how much they're earning at the time.

Owners of revenue share sites also place the responsibility for increasing your own page views right on your own shoulders. If you get no page views, you earn nothing. Even if you DO get page views, you may not always earn anything, depending on the advertisers they've chosen to use on their site that show up on your posts.

So it's your job to write the content, promote your work and find traffic for THEIR site.

If you're willing to write lots and lots of content for someone else's site, chances are you could end up in the ranks of "high" earning revenue share site writers, who are always in the minority. Or you could become another statistic earning less than $150 per year for hours and hours of low-paid work each week.

Let's be honest, most new online writers believe that getting paid by a "get paid to write" revenue share site is a good opportunity for them to learn. Likewise, the spiel sold on 'get paid to write' revenue share sites is that you earn more for contributing more. In other words, they really want you to work hard to make their site more popular for them. As they become more popular the amount of money they can earn from their advertisers increases, so they try to tell you that you'll earn more in the long run.  If that was true and the site owners were so confident about earning enough revenue from your work, why wouldn't they pay you upfront for your contributions?

What Are Your Options?

By comparison, you could create your own blog. You can also spend your time and effort writing lots and lots of free content. Only this time you have the choice which advertisers you work with.

You're still responsible for finding your own traffic and attracting new visitors to your posts and you're still responsible for promoting your work, so nothing changes there. You're also responsible for connecting with your readers and finding ways to entice them to keep coming back to visit your blog.

The difference is - you don't have to share your revenue with ANYONE. It's all yours.

Unfortunately, far too many new writers believe they can't do this. So they fall for the slick sales pitches revenue share sites sling at them and they hope to earn a few extra dollars over the long term. They think writing lots of posts and attracting visitors and promoting their new blog will be too hard.

... and yet they do the same things willingly for a revenue-share site for a fraction of the revenue. Curious.

Your Own Free Blog vs Revenue Share Sites

Let's say you spend three minutes setting up your own free blog on Blogger or on Wordpress or Typepad - or whatever blogging platform you want. You spend another 30 minutes signing up for a Google Adsense account, or an Amazon affiliates account, or a Clickbank affiliate account, or Chitika or Donanza or Neverblue - or any other type of advertising platform you want to play with.

You set up your blog's format and layout and you start blogging about whatever you love. You write 2 posts per week at around 500 words per port. Of course, you post a link to each post on your Facebook account and on your Twitter account so people know to come and read it.

Yes, it takes time to build up a following. But that's the same amount of time and effort you'd put into building up a following on a revenue-share site anyway.

Time for the Freelance Writing Math Lesson

It's time now for a little more freelance writing math.

Let's look at the comparisons side-by-side. For the purpose of this example, we're going to compare writing simple 100 word posts for Bubblews to writing 500 word posts for your own blog.



Revenue-Share Site
Writing Articles for Your Blog
Words Written
100 per post
500 per article
Number of pieces written
20
2
Sub-total words per week
2,000 (+words written for comments)
1,000
Number of comments left
100 (about 20 words per comment = 2,000)
0
Total words per week
4,000
1,000
Number of connections required per week
50
0
Time spent per week
30
2
Amount earned per week
$25 (maybe)
$50 (maybe)
Earnings after 1 year
$1,300
$2,600
Guaranteed Payment
No
No


Hmmm... so you're earning around double the amount of money (maybe), but you're only spending two hours a week writing something you actually enjoy. Plus, you're not dependent on another site owner choosing what ads are displayed on your work.

You're also not dependent on them being honest about the amount of revenue you're actually earning for them while they give you a few pennies in return. When it's your blog, you get to see exactly how much you're earning from each different advertiser you have.

When you can see the statistics of which blog posts earn you the most money and gain you the most page views, you can duplicate your efforts and choose topics that people are more likely to come and read. You have more control over your online business, because you can see what's really happening behind the scenes.

But Owning a Blog is Hard Work...

What's that? You say it's hard to drive traffic to a blog? It's hard to increase page views? It's hard to think of new things to write?

So, what exactly are you doing on those revenue share sites anyway to earn a few extra pennies? You're focused on increasing your page views. You're focused on thinking of new things to write. You do all this in the hopes that someone else will pay you AFTER they get paid from the same advertisers you have the same level of access to directly.

Before you fall for the hype of earning "passive income" from a revenue share site, think carefully about your options. Your time and effort could be better spent elsewhere - for more money in the long run.

Personally, I own several blogs across a range of niches and topics. I know it took me a bit of time to get them up and running. It also took a bit of effort to get them ranked in search engines and to find a few regular followers.

I also know I earn quite a bit more each month from my blogs than most of the "higher earning" people on Bubblews earn. And I really only spend a few hours a month on each of them, because I also write articles and ebooks for various other clients throughout the day.

So, what's your choice for your own freelance writing business and your own freelance writing future?

:)





10/31/13

Making a Living As a Full-Time Freelance Writer Made Easy

One of the best parts about being a freelance writer is that YOU have the power to set up your business and your income YOUR way. You can choose what you write. You choose what clients you want to keep. You choose what sites you visit.

It's all under your control.

Yet I receive so many emails from writers who have absolutely no idea where to start. I get emails from writers who get stuck in low-paying content mills and end up burning out. I get lots of emails from writers who want to increase their income and build up business.

Of course, I also get emails from writers who just want to write for fun and not to try and make a big income.

It doesn't matter what your goal is with your freelance writing. The key is to remember that it's all about YOU and what you enjoy doing. When you can work that out, you're in a position to build your freelance business around your preferences, so you end up getting paid for doing what you love.

So let's look at all the options and see if you can find any that suit you...

Writing Just for Fun - And a Little Extra Cash

Believe it or not, there are sites out there that will pay you for writing anything at all. You can tell stories about your day or your memories or your dog or random thoughts. Whatever. Those sites do exist. The pay isn't great, but it's better than hanging out on Facebook. Go and have some fun. Socialize, connect and network with other people. Earn a couple of extra dollars while you're there. You'll find several sites mentioned in this post:
http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com.au/2009/01/freelance-writers-who-dont-want-to-be.html

Hobbyist vs Business-Person

Before you start building up your freelance writing business, take a careful look at whether you want to be a hobby writer who does this just for fun or whether you really want to head off down the professional business person path. Take a look at the difference between the two in this post:
http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com.au/2009/04/what-is-freelance-writing-really.html

Freelance Job vs Freelance Business

Did you know there's a difference between a freelance job and a freelance business? I'm often surprised by the number of people who ask me what freelance site they can join with so they can get a freelance job. There's nothing wrong with that, but just be sure you're aiming at the right thing before you sign up. You'll learn more about both options here:
http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com.au/2009/02/freelance-job-vs-freelance-business.html

Debunking Freelancing Myths and Building Your Confidence

Ugh! The number of silly myths I see circulating online about freelance writing really frustrate me. Let's debunk some of those silly myths and find ways to build up your confidence in your own writing abilities at the same time. You'll find more information here:
http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com.au/2009/02/freelance-writing-myths-dispelled.html

Finding Freelance Work

The biggest challenge most freelance writers face is figuring out how to find freelance work. There are plenty of options available to you, but the key is to work out which options suit your goals best. You'll learn all about some of those options here:
http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com.au/2009/05/how-to-find-freelance-writing-work.html

Diversifying Your Freelance Business

It's a shame how many really good writers I see fall into the same trap. They become reliant on one form of income and they end up stuck when something goes wrong. This is why it's important to diversify your freelance income wherever you can. You'll see some options here:
http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com.au/2009/09/private-freelance-clients-vs-content.html
and here: http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/increasing-your-freelance-income-with.html

Recession Proofing Any Freelance Business

Yes, it really is possible to recession-proof your freelance business. In fact, back in 2008-2009 my business almost tripled, so the big Global Financial Crisis didn't affect everyone. But you need to set up your business so you're protected, no matter what. Check out how right here:
http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/recession-proofing-your-freelance.html

Benefits of Expanding Your Business Internationally

Many of the writers who read this blog are international writers, just like me. I'm in Australia, but the majority of my clients are in the US, the UK, Europe, New Zealand, India and several other parts of the world (of course, I have a few Aussie clients too). If you really want to build up your freelance business, you should understand the benefits of taking your business global, here:
http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com.au/2010/08/benefits-of-being-international-writer.html

Hopefully the posts listed above will help you on your way to building up your freelance writing income so that you get paid for doing exactly what you love doing every day - WRITING!

:)

(image from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1197801)


10/22/13

Boost Freelance Writing Income with Cloud Crowd

Recently I received an email from a reader asking if I had heard of Cloud Crowd and whether the money making opportunities there are any good.

I had never heard of them before, so I figured I would sign up and see what it's all about. Here's what I found out:

What's Cloud Crowd About?

Basically, Cloud Crowd pays you to complete various tasks that range in pay from just pennies up to $30 per task. You can select whether you want to work on lots of really easy micro-tasks that take 30-40 seconds to complete or whether you want to work on more involved tasks, like researching and writing articles at $30 per piece.

Can Anyone Join Cloud Crowd?

Yes. Anyone with a Facebook account and a Paypal account can join Cloud Crowd.

Keep in mind that Cloud Crowd doesn't operate from a standard .com website, even though all their instructions and support forums are on a regular website. The actual work is posted to a Facebook application instead.

Once you've created your Cloud Crowd account, head over to the link that says "Earn Money Now". You can select tasks right away - however, it's strongly advised that you read the FAQ on their site so you understand what's expected of you.

Micro Jobs vs Writing Jobs on Cloud Crowd

If you intend to just complete lots of little micro-tasks to earn your money, then go right ahead and get started! The pay for this type of work is quite low, but as long as you're quick and you're careful about making sure your work is correct, you will get paid tomorrow for any approved work you do.

However, if you intend to accept more involved work, such as writing articles or press releases, editing, marketing work or proofreading, you can expect to be paid up to $25 per hour or 5 cents per word for your time for some of these more involved tasks. In order to qualify for this level of work, you will be asked to complete a Writer Credential Test.

There are several Credential Tests you'll need to take, depending on the type of work you want to complete. The majority of these are basically testing your comprehension and usage of the English language. If you're already working as a freelance writer you should find these Credential Tests very easy to pass.

Does Cloud Crowd Really Pay You?

Yes. Payment is made daily on Monday through to Friday via Paypal for any tasks you've completed that day. There is no minimum payout threshold you have to reach. You just need to have finished some tasks in your Cloud Crowd account.

So if you complete a few tasks on a Monday and they're all approved on Monday night, you can expect to see payment turn up in your Paypal account on Tuesday night.

Advantages to Working with Cloud Crowd

There are some definite advantages I've noticed when working with Cloud Crowd. Here are some of them:

1. Next Day Payment - that's always a bonus in anyone's book, right? It's even nicer that there's no minimum payout threshold you have to reach. You just get paid for any approved work you submitted.

2. Lots of Variety - if you're keen to work on the higher paying tasks, it's quite easy to earn a decent amount of money fairly quickly here. However, if you want a bit of a break from the researching or editing or whatever you're doing or you just want to fill in a bit of time at the end of a work day, you can always pick up some quick, basic categorization tasks that only take a few seconds to complete.

3. Get Paid to Review - yes, that's right. You don't even have to do the work yourself if you don't want to. You can choose to review other people's work and get paid for your time that way.

4. Correct Any Rejected Work - if your work is rejected, you still have the opportunity to correct it and resubmit it again. At least your work isn't wasted!


Downsides to Working with Cloud Crowd

As with most things, there are always negative aspects to think about. Here are some of the biggest disadvantages I noticed:

1. Peer Review - any work you submit at Cloud Crowd is reviewed by other workers on the site. If somebody decides to reject what you've submitted, you don't get paid for it unless you successfully appeal the decision. It's also a bit lame that anyone can decide to reject something you've done, even if you've followed the rules exactly. You can keep appealing those incorrect rejections, but you're limited to 16 appeals per month.

2. You Must Disable Secure Browsing - when you're working on tasks at Cloud Crowd  you are required to switch off your browser's secure browsing option. You can always turn it back on again when you've finished work, but always remember to run a good anti-virus or anti-spyware software on your computer every day or two. You'll be amazed at how much spyware and adware programs turn up on your computer the moment you switch off secure browsing. Personally, I decided to do any Cloud Crowd work on my laptop and keep my office computer safer that way.

3. 16 Appeals per 30 Days - as there are so many people working on Cloud Crowd  the number of people having perfectly good work rejected is very high. Unfortunately, you're only allowed to submit 16 appeals each month.

4. Credibility Score - everyone who works at Cloud Crowd is given a Credibility Score that doesn't seem to make much sense. Every time you complete a task, your credibility score will increase. If your work is rejected, your credibility score will decrease. If you let your score get below 30, Cloud Crowd will close your account.  While this seems like a really positive way to get people to follow the instructions and submit great work, I don't see it that way. What I see is that it takes a lot of tasks and a lot of effort to get a high score. But if you get one piece rejected, your score drops really fast.

5. They Want Your SSN - if you're in America, Cloud Crowd will ask for your SSN. I personally don't have one (I'm in Australia!!) - but for those of you in the US, you can just switch up the first two or middle two numbers in your SSN to get your foot in the door. That way no one has your details, you get your account and your identity stays safe :)


What's the Verdict for Cloud Crowd?

So far my verdict is mostly positive. For those looking for easy ways to earn quick money online that pays you the very next day, Cloud Crowd could be a great start. If you're willing to work your way through the Credential Tests, there's even the possibility of earning decent money for your time and effort.

I'd love to hear some feedback from anyone who's tried this site and had any success.

:)