Merry Christmas

I just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year. May 2010 be your best freelancing year yet. Don't forget to create a list of goals you want to aim for throughout the year to help keep you motiated and aiming for the stars



Too Hot to Write

It's spring here and usually that means warm, sunny days and plenty of visits to the beach before coming home to write some more.

Of course, Australia decided to really turn on the sun this week and by-pass spring completely. It's 110 degrees outside for the third day in a row and very likely to continue this way for the next week or so.

It's just too hot to sit in the office and write today. I have plenty of work to do and deadlines looming, but while I'm wilting in my chair, I have no chance of writing coherently today.

So I'm going to try and cool my poor dogs down any way I can without exposing us all to the burning rays of the sun for longer than a couple of minutes at a time. That's one of the best benefits of being self-employed - I'm taking the day off and I don't have to call in sick or make an excuse to anyone.

If this is spring, then summer promises to be a real scorcher : /


When Clients Try to Under-Cut Your Rates

If you've spent any time reading my blog, you'll already know I love my private clients. They're usually very respectful and understanding and most of them are willing to pay good money for timely service and quality writing.

However, occasionally I'll get enquiries from people wanting me to deliver top-notch service for pennies. They seem to believe my services aren't worth nearly as much as theirs and they work hard to try and make me reduce my prices to suit their own budget.

I don't work this way.

Today I received an enquiry from someone asking me to do quite a bit of work to a VERY badly written ebook. This would have taken me most of a day to complete. However I quoted an amount that is slightly lower than my usual fee and would NOT compensate me adequately for my time and effort

This person agreed, sent me the ebook (which is how I know it was so badly written) and then decided that it was suddenly way too expensive for him to pay. He wanted to push me for a cheaper price again.

Now... this particular person is selling the poor-quality ebook for €37 (Euros), which is $55 US. On a particular forum I'm a member of, there is evidence that this ebook is selling very well, so the person is making plenty of profit.

It's just a shame that he/she doesn't respect his/her customers enough to sell them something worth reading.

So... if you're ever in a situation where you get clients wanting to undercut your rates, STAND YOUR GROUND. They're making plenty of money from your time and effort and they're treating you like a second-class citizen when they believe you're only worth paying $1 per hour.

There are just too many good clients out there to waste time on tire-kicking time wasters who won't value your time or your writing for what they're worth.



Ghost Writing and Your Copyright Rights

Many newer freelancers wonder what happens to the ownership of their articles once they've sold them to a client.

There's another post on this blog about various copyrights and publication rights here: http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2009/03/copyright-what-rights-are-you-selling.html

While the article noted above talks about various rights you can retain or sell as a freelance writer, it doesn't really answer the question of what happens to your rights when you ghost-write for a private client or a content mill.

Let's look at these options in some more detail.

Copyright and Private Clients

When you write articles for a private client, you are selling the full rights. This means you're a ghost writer and the client has paid for the right to do as he or she wishes with those articles.

Keep it firmly in mind that you're selling ALL rights to your client, unless specifically stated by mutual agreement with your client before hand.

Copyright and Content Mills

Content mills are like middle-men between you and the client. The client expects to pay for full rights to unique articles and content mills are simply there to match up available work with available ghost writers.

Once again, you are selling ALL rights when you submit your work to a content mill.

Retaining Your Own Byline and Rights

There are plenty of ways to write articles, keep your own byline and retain your own copyright at the same time as earning money. Unfortunately, many freelance writers bypass this option as it's often more competitive and sometimes more difficult to make a sale.

When you submit your articles to a magazine, the client is the magazine editor. If they accept your article for publication, you usually sell the one-time print rights for that magazine for an agreed time. Your byline is printed below the article title or headline. Once that agreed time-frame has expired, the rights return to you and you're free to sell that same piece again as a reprint.

(*note: you can't sell it again as an original piece. It must be noted on your next submission that it's been published somewhere else first).

You can also manage to retain a byline when you submit work to an article marketplace, like  Constant Content. If you only allow clients to purchase 'Unique' rights, this means they are the only client who may purchase or print your article, but you're given the attribution with a byline under the title as the rightful author of that piece.

I hope this helps!


Private Freelance Clients vs Content Mills vs Marketplaces

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you'll know I have several private clients (who I appreciate and love to bits - thank you all!), but I also work on a content mill to help bring in some extra cash flow, as well as write articles to offer for sale on an article marketplace.

(I should clarify here that I don't bother with 'bidding' sites, like get-a-freelancer or e-lance, so they're not included in this post)

Keeping up with all of these things means I can pay my mortgage every month and comfortably pay all my bills without any other form of income coming into the household.

However, here are some pros and cons to each type of writing activity as I see them.

Private Freelance Clients - Pros

There are so many benefits to having your own private freelance clients that you should always remember to treat them like gold. Not only do they email you directly to place article orders, but they generally pay into your account at the time of the order. Some clients pay 50% up-front and 50% on completion, while others are happy to pay the full amount in advance when they place the order.

Either way, this means cash flow coming into your account on a semi-regular basis that can help with those unforeseen bills that arrive throughout the month.

Another big benefit to working with private clients is that you begin to develop a rapport with them. You can start to understand their needs and tailor your own writing to suit their preferences. This makes them appreciate your writing efforts even more, because you always just seem to know what they want.

You also have the freedom to dictate your own prices. Your clients come to you initially based on your price and some samples. If you set your price too low, you will receive plenty of clients who are only price-shopping. If you set your price higher to cover your time and effort, you weed out those bargain-hunting clients and in return you get much nicer clients who value your writing efforts.

Private Frelance Clients - Cons

The only difficulty I can think of with accepting work from private clients is that you don't always get a choice of topics to write about. You're bound by what topics they need to suit their sites and this can sometimes make research difficult.

Perhaps another minor downside to private clients is the unpredictability of when they'll order next. I have clients who order a month's worth of work at the beginning of each month like clockwork. I also have clients who order whenever they need something written. This can sometimes make it difficult to know how much time to keep aside during each working week (but I still love all my clients...). It can also make it a little scary when they all place orders at the same time and even scarier again when they don't order for a couple of weeks in a row.

Content Mills - Pros

I still work for a couple of content mills on a semi-regular basis because of the ease of available work. When I've caught up with any outstanding private orders, I'll log into a content mill and pick up work I think I can complete quickly.

The good part about the content mill system is that you only have to accept topics you know something about, or that you're familiar with. Most of them also pay either weekly or fortnightly, so the extra cash flow is handy.

Content Mills - Cons

Unfortunately, in order to remain 'competitive', many content mills pay pittance - generally $5-$7 per article (and even less again if you're with TextBroker). This is the primary reason I'll only pick up orders where I know something about the topic and don't have to waste time researching. The clients also seem to expect miracles for a few bucks. They haven't grasped the concept of paying a writer adequately for their time and effort (yet).

The other downside is the lack of flexibility. In most cases, you're discouraged from contacting the client directly, even if you want to ask questions about the topic or the client's preference for format. This means the writer is left guessing as to the type of article the client really wanted.

Article Marketplaces - Pros

The biggest pros to uploading your own articles to article marketplaces (like Constant Content or Daily Article) is the freedom to write what you enjoy. You're not limited to the client's word counts and you're not constricted to anyone else's keywords.

You also have the benefit of being able to set your own prices, which can be great if you write in really popular niches.

Article Marketplaces - Cons

Unfortunately, while marketplaces are excellent for the freedom of writing whatever you like, there are plenty of negative aspects. The majority of marketplaces pay monthly. If you rely on your freelance income to pay the bills, this can be a long time between checks.

The fees are also outrageous. For example: Constant Content takes 35% of your sale price as their fee. This eats into your profits and reduces you income.

Perhaps the biggest downside to uploading your articles to marketplaces is waiting for a buyer to find your articles. While I've had some great luck with most of my work being picked up relatively quickly, there are plenty of horror-stories around from writers who have waited months for their articles to sell.

So there you have it. My take on the benefits and draw-backs of some ways to derive a freelance income. I'd love to hear of any pros and cons you can think of that I might have missed...


Freelancing as an International Writer

The amount of freelance writing sites around these days wanting writers to submit W9 forms is increasing. This can make it difficult for international writers (like me!) to compete with US writers and earn a decent income.

If you haven't been asked to fill in a W9 form before, it's a form available from the IRS website that's basically a declaration that you're an American citizen, paying tax in the USA. Many content creation sites are asking their writers to fill in these forms to be sure they're only hiring Americans.

So where does this leave international writers?

You have a couple of options available to you. One is relatively easy and the other is a bit of a nightmare.

While there are still places around that will accept submissions from non-US writers, many of them are beginning to ask for W8 forms from any writer who can't submit a W9. A W8 form is basically a declaration that you're an international writer who is responsible for paying tax on your earnings in your own country. You simply fill it in and either fax it or snail-mail it to the company paying you.

That's the easy option and it's the one I'll choose whenever I can.

The not so easy option is applying for an ITIN and electing to pay tax on your US income to the IRS. This isn't fun. It's not always easy to co-ordinate with your own local tax laws and the paper work can be an exercise in torture.

An ITIN is an International Tax Identification Number and if you elect to pay tax on your US income directly to the IRS, you'll need to be familiar with the taxation laws in the USA or you'll need to hire a tax agent familiar with handling international clients.

For me personally, I get to file my taxes in the US three months before I'm required to file more taxes here in Australia. The ATO (Australian Taxation Office) will take into consideration any income I've already declared and paid tax on in the US before deciding to tax everything else I earn right here in Australia. Sigh.

My accountant has put two kids through college, bought a lovely Mercedes sports model and upgraded her computer and office furniture twice from the fees she charges international writers like me :(

I hope this makes it a little easier for any international writers out there.


Copyright and Your Writing

When you make your living by selling your writing, it's important that your clients know they're getting unique material. They pay you for the right to receive words that haven't been reproduced hundreds of times all over the internet.

While most freelance writers understand this basic principle, there are a few low-lives out there determined to spoil this industry for all those other writers who try hard to do the right thing.

If you're a freelance writer and you regularly write and sell original work, then I urge you to run a simple check on Google or Copyscape to be sure your work hasn't been stolen or copied by one an unscrupulous thief.

There are numerous reports of writers creating good quality, unique content and offering it for sale on Constant Content . The buyers there are willing to pay slightly higher prices for articles because they believe the articles are unique and haven't been posted everywhere else.

Unfortunately there are are a few bad writers in the crowd determined to skim the sample articles offered by other writers and post those samples on Associated Content so they can earn a measly couple of dollars through the hard work of someone else.

The pages at Constant Content aren't indexed on Google because they are supposed to be private sales and representing unique, unpublished content. Because it's not indexed, the internal software at Associated Content doesn't catch that it's a copied article. So they accept it and pay the loser who stole it a couple of lousy dollars and the rightful owner loses out.

If you're a Constant Content writer, I urge you to copy a sentence or two out of your own articles, paste it into a Google search or enter the URL of the site where the article is posted into Copyscape.

In fact, you should make it a habit to do this with anything you've written to be sure it hasn't been 'borrowed'.

If you find that your work has been plagiarized, I urge you to contact the person directly and ask for the stolen writing to be removed. If they don't comply - report them to the site owner or web host. These people need to learn that it's NOT okay to steal another writer's work.

You might remember a previous post (http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2009/04/plagiarism-is-theft.html) about an unscrupulous thief who stole every single post off my blog and posted it as his own elsewhere. The same person/thief/liar/scum, Harshajyoti Das, a.k.a jr_sci, is back to his thieving ways again. While the article isn't mine this time, it does belong to someone I know and it's still plagiarism.

Stand up for your rights and protect your writing.


Writers Wanted...

I heard a rumor that a potential new writing opportunity might be available...

Today I had coffee with a good friend (okay, it was my mentor and friend, Lee) and she told me about a new project she's working on. Lee and another freelance writer she knows are cooking up a way to outsource some of their work load to other writers because they simply can't keep up with the orders they receive. They had a brainstorming session and learned that they could probably hire 10 or 12 writers comfortably and still have plenty of work for themselves as well.

When I heard this my eyes popped and I immediately ordered her another coffee and a slice of cake (bribery goes a long way, I hear...)

You see, both Lee and her writer friend have decided to try and hunt down writers who can work quickly and accurately in both US and UK English to help them meet the demands of their clients.

Some of the work will be quick, easy website content. Some will be SEO articles for article marketers and site owners and some of the work will be quick blog posts, product reviews and blurbs. Some will be press releases, chapters in e-books, sales page copywriting and whatever else they end up with.

Of course I volunteered to help them out.

Lee agreed to let me give you all a hint about this potential opportunity on my blog to see who's interested and who isn't. It's okay if you haven't had much experience. They're willing to work with writers from anywhere in the world with a PayPal account as long as the writing is of a good quality.

...but there's a catch...

If you're interested in registering yourself for their list of available writers, then you'll need to be able to follow instructions. Their clients expect their orders to be fulfilled according to their own specifications. They'll expect you to adhere to those specifications the same way they would. So here are the instructions for registering yourself at a potential candidate on their list.

Leave a comment on this post and include a link behind your name pointing to somewhere we can view your work. This could be your blog, website, content site, article directory - whatever. We'll be able to find you and contact you this way. Give us an idea of what your preferred writing topics are, your areas of expertise and where in the world you live. Don't forget to add a little about what type of writing you prefer to do. (e.g. If you only want articles and SEO content, then say so.) Specify whether you write in US or UK English so they know who to consider for different client's needs.

Pay rates haven't been worked out yet and the work also won't be allocated for a little while yet as they're working hard on finding a system that works for them as well as for the clients. However, they also wanted to be sure they would have a good selection of writers when things started moving along.

Let's hope Lee and her friend get moving quickly on this one :)


Freelance Markets to Avoid: Work-Online

If you're searching for a freelance writing market that accepts non-US writers or international writers, then Work Online might be a starting point for you. However, be aware that I've officially placed this listing into the 'markets to avoid' category as they've reduced their pay rate since the original posting.


Well, it's almost a paying market. The pay rate is terribly low, but it is in UK pounds. At least UK pounds give a semi-decent conversion rate as compared to the US lately.

The basis behind Work Online is that you write a quick 'story' about the keywords you're given. The article only needs to be a minimum of 400 words, but it must include the keywords chosen by the client at the density requested.

You're paid via PayPal if your account reaches a minimum of £10. The terms say 'within 14 days', although I've seen comments from writers saying they've received their payments in 3-5 days.

If you're in the UK and happy to receive UK pounds, then you'll receive the following:

- for the first 100 articles you write, you're paid 25p
- between 101-300 articles, you're paid 50p
- between 301-500 articles, you're paid 75p
- for every article after you hit the 501 mark, you're paid £1

The original post had a list of exchange rates showing how much this pathetically low amount converted to in Indian rupees, Philippines pesos and Hong Kong dollars. As the pay rate has been reduced even further since I wrote it, I've removed them.

The pay rate at Work Online is appalling. If you'd like to add a little bit of filler income to your freelance cash flow then feel free to join up and see how you go.

If I still haven't put you off, you can join up with Work Online here: http://work-online.org.uk/join-now
If you want, you can add my referral code when you join - it's WOR:0441

... but I'd suggest you can find far better options for your writing elsewhere.


Keeping Your Freelance Business Going when Things Go Wrong

Well it's been a while since I wrote in this blog - but a lot has happened in that time. My beloved aunt died, which saw me take a few days off to simply get my head around it all. She was young, vibrant, bubbly, intelligent, beautiful and more like a sister and a best-friend to me than an aunt. She was close to my age, so we kind of grew up together. I'll miss you more than you know, Tiana.

When I did feel up to working on my freelance stuff again, I switched on my computer and my hard drive decided it was time to die in sympathy. It went out in spectacular style, with some hissing and a little show of fireworks. It would have been pretty if it wasn't signifying the death of my work-machine.

Without my laptop, I can't work, which means I can't earn money. My computer is my most essential piece of work equipment.

While my computer was busy dying, it decided to fry my wireless modem as a bonus. Unfortunately, I also had my external hard drive hooked up to the machine because I was only backing up my files that same instant. Of course, my melodramatic computer decided to sizzle my external hard drive as well.

So for the past two weeks I've been frantically trying to replace my computer and get my internet connection up and running properly again, re-install software and programs I need to stay working, figure out the missing entries in my income spreadsheets, find files and articles that needed to be sent to clients, locate lost email addresses and then catch up on a back log of work that had gone past deadline during the crisis.

I bought two smaller computers and a new external hard drive. If one computer decides to go wrong, then I now have another in the study that contains just the essential business information (income spreadsheets, expenses, work schedules etc).

This also meant that I was behind with my work load by several days. I spent five days just writing at double time to catch up to where I should have been.

Now the work files are operating again, I realize that I'm missing some of my most cherished photos of my daughter and my aunt together.

A computer wiz is working hard to retrieve my information off the external hard drive right now for me - but I learned that if you truly value your freelance writing business, you'll remember to back up everything very regularly.


Creating Your Own Freelance Profits

Even after all the posts I've written, it still surprises me how many freelance writers are seeking that one, single, solitary source of writing work to get them going.

I'm going to put it bluntly: freelancing means you're self-employed. This also means that if you have ONE lonely source of writing and something happens to that company - you're out of business.

There are so many ways to build freelance income, get paid for your writing efforts, supplement your writing income via other sources and otherwise build up a healthy income that it's impossible to do them all. The point is to find the ones that suit you and your preferences and work with those.

You'll find my top ten tips for ways to find freelance work here: http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2009/05/how-to-find-freelance-writing-work.html

However, finding work is not always the same as creating the right balance of work-types in your own freelance business. This post is more about finding work within different writing types than actually finding any old freelance work you can get hold of.

Let's look at a few basic options:

Content Mills

There are a LOT of these around on the internet. Clients submit requests for the articles they want and the Content Mills allow writers to pick up the work that interests them. You write the article, submit it and get paid. It doesn't get much easier than that.

Content Mills tend to be among the lower paying markets, but they are a source of consistent work if you're still building up your income and need the cash flow.

Try places like Need-An-Article or TextBroker or eHow or Demand Studios or Delegate2 or 10DollarArticles or LovetoKnow for this kind of work.

Article Marketplaces

These can be a higher-paying source of work and if you do a little bit of homework, you could find that this can be a handy addition to your freelance income.

Article marketplaces are sites that allow you to submit articles on any topic you want to write about and then offer them for sale to customers who happen to be browsing the listings. While some writers complain that this takes too long to sell anything, I personally think this is a good option for earning decent money per sale.

Try marketplaces like:  Constant Content or Daily Article

Freelance Market Listings

There are plenty of places that offer free freelance market listings. Browse through these and find websites, blogs, ezines, magazines and anthologies that accept freelance submissions. You find the guidelines, check out what the publication wants to see and then write what they want. You submit it to the editor and when they accept your piece you get paid (hopefully).

These are often only a once-off sale, but you should find that the pay rate is 10 to 20 times the amount you'll receive from a Content Mill, so they form the 'high-paying' section of your freelance efforts.

Private Clients

This is the biggest source of my own freelance income. I have several private clients who email me directly with their orders every week. This keeps me busy on a regular basis and keeps the cash coming in.

Most newer freelance writers aim at freelance job boards or advertise that they want new clients. I won't do these things. The client thinks they can negotiate your prices with you. They think they can aim at the cheapest quote. This is too hard.

I go out and find my clients directly based on who I prefer to work with and I give them my non-negotiable prices up front. They can take it or leave it.

I enjoy SEO writing, so it seemed logical to contact a few SEO companies and submit my resume, bio and some samples. I offered them my services directly. Several declined my offer immediately. This is normal and to be expected. Don't let it stop you though. There will always be another company who does need a writer now.

I have three SEO companies contacting me directly for their work (two in the US, one in Australia). When they hire you directly, the pay rate tends to be much higher than content mill work. They're paying for quality and for the right to have a dedicated writer on demand whenever they want it.

I love writing about finance. So I contacted a couple of finance magazines and suggested a column on a sub-niche that interests me, but they don't have yet. Most declined my offer (again - this is normal) - but two accepted my idea and now I write two permanent finance columns for magazines (one in the UK and one in the US).

I also enjoy writing sales pages (this is called copywriting). Rather than advertise that I do copywriting, I simply emailed the owners of a few different affiliate products that interested me. I showed them some of my previous work - now four of them contact me directly to write the sales pages every time they release new products too.

Copywriting pays MUCH higher than article writing, so if you can learn the tricks behind it, it's worth the effort.

Creating Your Own Markets

In the link I posted at the beginning of this article, (http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2009/05/how-to-find-freelance-writing-work.html ) if you scroll down to tip number nine, you'll see where my own mentor is proficient at creating her own writing markets. She doesn't go out searching for clients. She brings the clients directly to her!

I'm still learning how this works, but the attempts I've made have been very profitable so far. The benefits of having clients come directly to one spot to purchase your work while you're not even writing are just huge. I'm working hard to increase my knowledge and available work in this area right now.

This area seems to be one of the more profitable niches within freelance writing!

Passive Income

No, I do NOT mean submitting work to revenue-share sites. I'm talking about ways to benefit from the things you write and get paid for your efforts. Your own personal website or blog should be your advertisement for your writing style and your commitment to writing in general, but there's nothing wrong with monetizing it a bit.

Did you know that most of my own private clients come to this blog to check out my writing? Even though this blog is about freelance writing and has nothing to do with the topics I'll be writing for them, they get to see that it's been running quite a while (shows dedication), I post fairly regularly and that I constantly promote it to get my name out there. This also gives them an idea of my 'writing tone'.

Since I have a blog running and I'm posting new content to it, I might as well try to monetize it anyway I can. You will notice ads in the right hand column - both Adsense and affiliate ads. You will also notice that I have a section of links to my friend's sites. These links help their blogs. Hopefully they link to me too, which helps my blog. Everyone wins.


Income fillers serve a couple of positive purposes for freelance writers. While they are usually very low paying, they can become a great source of free advertising for your work, your website or your blog.

These fun-fillers include paid forum posting, paid social networking, paid chatting etc. You don't need any experience and you don't need to write endless articles. These are just a bit of fun for a little extra money.

Remember - these are fun-fillers, so they're not intended to be ways to earn serious income. Don't let them take over your real working time.


Okay - that's about all the options I can think of for now. Along with a link for ways to find freelance work (at the beginning of this post), you now have several options for ways to diversify your freelance income. Pick and mix the options that suit you until you have enough freelance work to keep you busy.

And keep writing :)

p.s. if you're reading this, then I want to know what questions you want answered. I want to know what you want to learn about freelancing. There's never any such thing as a silly question - questions just mean you haven't found the right answers yet. Your comments help me to think of new posts and new topics to try and cover.


Developing a Successful Freelance Writing Mindset

"What the mind of man can conceive, it can achieve"

That particular saying is attributed to both Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) and W. Clement Stone (1902-2002). Regardless of who said it first, they're both right.

Here's another one:

"Whether you think you can or not, you're right" - Henry Ford (1863-1947).

The common theme with both of these motivational quotes is that your own MIND can actually help or hinder your progress as you build your freelance writing business. The choice is yours which option your mind takes.

Let me paint you two scenarios and tell me if you identify with either of them.

Scenario One:

Writer 1 visited so many forums and social networking sites trying to find a way to make money online, but everyone she spoke to said that the best you can expect is 2 cents per page view on some revenue-share site. She gives it a shot and follows their advice and sure enough, she earns the quoted 2 cents per page view. It's not even enough to buy a cup of coffee at the end of the month.

She's now become very cynical about all those people falsely claiming that it's possible to earn any kind of real money from this writing thing. After all, everything she's looked into is either a scam or so low-paying that it's not worth the time or effort. She wakes up each day believing that it can't be done - and guess what? She's right.

Scenario Two:

Writer 2 decided to try and find ways to seriously generate an income. She visits a few forums and reads some comments from a few professional writers who really are earning generous amounts of money online from their writing activities. She tries to find out how they're doing it and she sets out to find ways to make sure she's earning that kind of money too.

She's quite excited by some of the opportunities she finds and understands that there are more and more great-paying writing opportunities all around her every day. She wakes up each morning believing this really is achievable - and guess what? She's right.

As Henry Ford said: "Whether you think you can or not, you're right"

Which writer did you identify with the most?

These are overly-simplified examples, but they highlight a specific mindset within so many writers I meet from all over the world. When you begin searching for writing opportunities and job markets and submission guidelines with a negative mindset, guess what you're going to find?

You're going to find all the low-paying, time-wasting, scam-listed writing cr@p available on the internet.

However, I also meet a lot of writers who are eager to search out the valid opportunities, the real job markets, the higher-paying gigs. They're willing to recognize that freelance writing is the same as any other job in the world and that you get back out of it exactly what you put into it.

A positive mindset and an optimistic viewpoint can mean that you begin to see things that might have been right in front of your face all along. You might have been blind to those same things previously because your negativity was getting in your way and allowing you only to see the less-attractive options.

When it comes to developing a successful freelance mindset, it's important to avoid the things you DON'T want to influence you. If you're reading posts and comments from novice writers that tell you you can't earn more than $2 per article or 2 cents per page view, you have two choices.

1) you could follow them and end up earning the same as they're doing


2) you could avoid those types of comments and go in search of more positive influences

Let me try and word it another way:
- Would you take investment advice for your money from someone who's on unemployment and has filed bankruptcy?
- Would you take medical advice from a vacuum cleaner salesman?
- Would you take legal advice from the girl at the checkout-counter at Walmart?

Of course you wouldn't.

So why is it that people will look for ways to take advice on freelance writing from people who are doing everything EXCEPT freelance writing?

When you surround yourself with positive information that is focused and motivated, you begin to develop a sense of positivity about what you're doing. You begin to believe you can achieve what you've set out to do.

My little blog is just one blog among thousands of similar blogs. There are also thousands of freelance writing forums and hundreds of freelance writing websites focused on teaching writers how to get started, how to build your business, how to find clients, how to increase your income.

How many great tips have you read to get your writing income going and thought "Oh, that's great, but I couldn't do that..." ?

If you keep telling yourself that you can't do that, then guess what? You're right.

Try telling yourself the opposite things. Tell yourself if a single mother from little-old Australia with a bad, cliched-sounding name like Bianca Raven can do it, then so can YOU. Believe it. Then see what happens.

Leave me your comments on what your mindset is doing right now. I'd love to see how many of my readers have which particular mindset - positive or negative.

Vent your negativity at me. Go on - really let me have it. Tell me how hard you've got it and how difficult it is for a newbie to break into freelancing. I won't argue with you. I'll probably agree with you. After all - if that's what you think, then you're right.

Of course, I'd also like to hear about your really big goals and dreams. Really get it off your chest and tell me what you know you're capable of achieving. If you tell me enough about what you really want to achieve, if you really believe in those big goals and dreams, if you truly believe YOU can achieve them, then I'll do my best to help you find ways to reach that goal.



How to Find Freelance Writing Work

Right from the very start of my freelance writing business I've always had plenty of work. I guess I'm lucky that I had a mentor who showed me how to find good-quality clients and how to encourage clients to keep ordering more work from me.

I wrote an earlier post giving a vague idea of how to find freelance work (http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2009/03/finding-freelance-writing-work.html) but I still get a lot of emails asking me to be more specific.

It occurred to me that there are a lot of freelancers out there that don't have this same benefit. Many writers struggle to find new work. They can't seem to find the good clients that pay well and on time. They wonder how to find ways to source more work to keep their income high enough without having to give in to the pathetic slave-labor writing sites.

So I figured I'd list down some of the things I've done over the course of my freelance career to source new clients and new work.

Always remember - you're running YOUR freelance business, so you're free to choose what works for you and what doesn't. There are more tips about finding clients here:

Here we go...

1. Website or Blog

This would have to be the number one way to attract new clients. Without a website, how will clients know what you do and who you are? You can include a list of your services and specialty topics. It's up to you if you want to include your list of fees or not.

Your freelance website should include a bio and some sample writing so clients can get an idea of your style. Include a portfolio of published work to date (hint: work self-published on Associated Content or Helium is NOT a professional portfolio. See my previous post about creating a professional portfolio).

2. Self-Promotion

If people don't know what you do, how can they hire you? Do you have business cards? Are you promoting your website for people to find? Where have you told the world that you are a "Freelance Writer For Hire"?

I'm a member of several community sites where webmasters and article marketers hang out. I never beg for work. I simply have my services listed in my signature line. If people are interested they'll send me a PM (private message) or they'll find my email address in the right hand column of this blog and shoot me an email. I give out my business card everywhere I go. I tell people what I do and I've learned they often tell others that they know a writer who might be able to help. Networking can be a valuable tool.

3. Offer Your Services

When I was still in the creation stage of my freelance business, I decided I wanted to break my working day into sections. I enjoy SEO writing, but I also enjoy the research involved in magazine feature articles. Web-writing and article writing are quick and easy and not too difficult. Writing fiction is pure joy. What parts do you enjoy?

When you know what you enjoy most about writing, take a moment to craft a letter of proposal to a few potential clients. I wrote to magazine editors, owners of SEO companies, web-developers and article marketers. I got a lot of rejections - but I also got quite a lot of assignments and permanent clients from this one tactic.

4. Referrals

One of the biggest sources of new work for me is referrals from existing clients. The vast majority of my freelance clients are either article marketers or SEO consultants. They tend to hang out in networks, communities or forums with other article marketers or SEO consultants.

In a previous post I highlighted some of the things I do to make sure my clients keep coming back to me. I've had clients go away in search of freelance writers with cheap fees, but they always come back.

5. Job Boards

Scouring the freelance job boards can sometimes lead to good assignments and great contacts with potential new clients. I've listed several great job boards in previous posts and I use them regularly to keep my work-load constant. I've also listed several job boards and opportunities to avoid so you don't end up wasting your time.

6. Repeat Business

Repeat business from existing clients is easily my biggest source of freelance writing work. I'm constantly amazed by stories of freelance writers who complete an assignment and then never hear from that client again.

When you finish an assignment, thank the client for trusting you with their content/article/blog post/whatever. In your thank you letter, let them know you'd be happy to work with anything else they need in future and tell them to contact you if they are thinking of other assignments in future. This simple courtesy can often let them know you want to work with them further.

Sometimes clients lose your contact details. Tactful contact with clients can sometimes remind them of your services, refresh your contact details for them and prompt a fresh order from them.

7. Bid Sites

I'm not a fan of bidding sites like Guru.com or freelancewriting.com . These sites seem to be inundated with people willing to undercut on bids to try and be the cheapest bid. I won't work for pennies, so I won't go chasing clients who only want to pay pennies.

However, if you're really stuck for freelance work, then at least bidding sites can give you an opportunity to meet potential new clients.

8. Diversifying

Where is it written in any rule-book that you only have to write articles online to be a freelancer? What's wrong with writing for magazines? What's wrong with writing fiction? What's wrong with writing ebooks or blogs or songs or poems or jokes?

Diversify your portfolio. Not only does it make your working day a little more fun, but you break into wider markets at the same time.

9. Create Your Own Market

I'm still learning how this phase works and I've had some success so far, but I've seen my mentor (hi Lee!) generate her own writing markets so that she can bring clients directly to her and create sales where there were none before.

This means she writes ebooks and generates sales from her websites (she has 10! Where does she find the time to write as well? Want to see what she deals with every day on top of her writing assignments? http://www.fictionfactor.com/sites.html) Aside from writing ebooks, she writes all the content for her own sites. She writes courses and lesson guides. She writes ezines.

One of her other self-made writing markets, PLR articles, is explained here: http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2008/12/profiting-from-plr-articles.html

The point of creating your own market is that you don't need to be constantly searching for new clients to give you paid writing assignments. This is because you're generating income from your writing activities via other avenues.

10. Ask Other Freelancers

How many freelance communities or forums or networks are you involved in? I try to spend a little time with some of the bigger communities wherever I can because the tips and tricks you learn from the professional writers can be invaluable.

I hope this post has helped you to find a few more writing clients. Good luck :)


Freelance Jobs to Avoid - Content Gurus

Thanks to the reader who emailed me the link to this site.

The new addition to my growing list of freelance jobs to avoid is Content Gurus. (also known as Content Marketing Pros)


There are a lot of angry writers on the net lately making it very clear that this site promises VERY low pay ($2.50 for 400 words) - and then they don't pay their writers! (see evidence link here: http://www.freelancewriting.com/forums/index.php?a=vtopic&t=523 plus several disgruntled comments on this post from unpaid writers)

The double-whammy of extra low pay plus the bonus of not paying their writers means Content Gurus definitely earns a place in the writing markets to avoid listing on this blog. This also means avoiding Content Marketing Pros (CMPros International). Content Marketing Pros is the new company name given to the failed Content Gurus and owned by the same untrusthworthy people.

If you or someone you know has written for this site, please leave a comment and let us know your story. We'd love to hear it.

EDIT: Since Rachel, the owner of Content Gurus has clearly stated she DOESN'T pay $2.50 per article, I've since found a link showing that she's offering to pay $2 an article. She was telling the truth! Here's the link if you want to see it for yourself: http://www.simplyhired.com/job-id/rupu3f5nie/freelance-writer-jobs/

So at an even lower pay rate than I initially reported, Content Gurus is definitely an entrant into the Freelance Markets to AVOID

Update: We've had a couple of comments added to this post from an angry webmaster and an angry owner of Content Gurus, denying they pay their writers ridiculously low rates and accusing me of writing on 'hearsay' only.

However, we also have SEVERAL comments from ex-Content Guru writers who haven't been paid at all and are seeking legal action.

So, if you're a writer and you want to earn some income - Avoid Content Gurus. Avoid CMPros International. Avoid Content Marketing Pros.



Dealing With Rejection as a Writer

I've met a lot of freelance writers since beginning my freelance business. Both non-fiction and fiction writers alike, I've learned that there are those who submit their work to every market they can find in the hope that some will accept. I've also learned there are a few who never submit to any markets for fear of being rejected.

So I went hunting for an article about rejection and found something I think you might like. It was written by my mentor, Lee and originally published in her ezine Fiction Factor. Enjoy.


Dealing with Rejection
by Lee Masterson

"Dear Reject Writer,

The brilliant, masterpiece-seeking staff at Bucking-Huge Publishing have decided to ruin your day and post you this pointless piece of paper. It is an official rejection of you as a person and as a writer.

Basically, we thought your story sucked so much that we didn't want to use your SASE to return it to you - just in case you personally had licked the stamps. In fact, we were afraid to touch it. We hired someone to burn it for us. We also hired the same person to prepare this form rejection letter, so you'll never be tempted to think we read it at all.

Once at the post box, the editorial staff will crowd around this soon-to-be-sealed rejection-letter-of-doom and chant curses upon your writing future, after which we shall laugh at you and call you names like Reject and Amateur, just to make us feel better, but especially to make you feel worse.

Have a rotten day!
The Editor"

Rejected - Personally!

Many writers feel as though each rejection letter is deeply personal. Regardless of whether the rejection you receive is a form rejection or a personalized note trying to explain why that publication has chosen not to accept your brain-child - to a writer, the declining editor is the enemy.

Seriously, the first thing all writers must realize is that rejections are NOT personal. I know many of you are shaking your heads in disagreement and even more won't believe me right now, but it is true.

Let's take a look at some of the reasons an editor might reject a piece of work:

* The publication is over-stocked with similar stuff right now
* The manuscript was about the wrong topic for that editor's preferences
* The manuscript was too long/too short for that publishing house's tastes.
* That editor only buys horror. You submitted romance!
* Your manuscript was addressed to the wrong editor.
* There is no market for books about purchasing snow tires in the Australian Outback
* The editor has spent the quarterly purchase budget, and so rejected everything that came in the door that month.

The above examples are just a few things that could happen in any busy publishing office - and are also just some of the ideas that I came up with off the top of my head. In each example, the editor is in no way rejecting the AUTHOR personally. In each example, however, the editor is making a point of showing the author that his or her manuscript is simply not right for that publishing house on that day from a purely business point of view.

There are many, many more reasons an editor may choose to reject any piece of writing. I could research for the next decade and STILL be finding new reasons why editors reject writing. I'll lay odds that very, very few of those rejections stemmed from a personal dislike of an author.

What is an Editor?

Despite beliefs to the contrary, editors are people. They breathe real air and work at real jobs. They go home to real homes and have real families (sometimes). They have bosses to answer to and they must fulfill job descriptions, like anyone else.

An editor's job is to purchase manuscripts (be they novels, short stories or articles) for the publishing house who pays the checks on pay day. In order for that editor to keep receiving pay checks, the publishing house must continue to sell enough books (or magazines) to enough readers to guarantee the running costs will be covered for another week.

If the editor purchases manuscripts that do NOT return sufficient profit for the publishing house to remain in business, then everyone loses. The author's work is STILL rejected, the editor loses his or her job, and thousands of related workers will also join unemployment cues once the publishing house files for bankruptcy and closes its doors.

Now that we all understand that trivial fact, let's ask the following question:

Why do so many writers feel the need to exact a bloody, dire revenge on an editor who is simply doing his or her job?

Whilst researching for this article, I visited some "Coping with Rejection" sites. One of these sites offers a place for rejected authors to vent their frustration and anger at hapless editors.

On one forum, I happened across the angry rantings of a rejected writer, determined to let the world know that he thought all publishers and all agents were only out to find out 'how much money that writer can make for [them] anyway."

I'd like to know who told that unhappy Rejected Author that the industry was ever any different! Let's be honest. If your book is not popularly liked by the masses (your readers!) then no copies are going to sell. If no copies sell, then the publisher has lost money. The editor has lost money. The bookstore has lost money. The author has lost money - oh wait - the author has to pay back any money that wasn't covered by sales...

Honestly, the publishing industry is a money and sales oriented business - just like any other. Why try to internalize something that is simply about how many books are going to sell of how many shelves on any day?

What is a Published Author?

I know, I know - you're already thinking "A published author is a writer who has been published."

You're way ahead of me. Or are you?

I was going to use the following definition: "A published author was once an unpublished author who didn't quit submitting."

You see, ALL published writers were once unknown, unpublished writers, who kept submitting work until eventually they were accepted. It's purely a numbers game. The more you submit, the greater your chances are of receiving an acceptance!

Did you know:

* --The first Harry Potter book is reported to have been rejected by 14 publishers.

* --Stephen King's Carrie had been rejected more than 30 times before being picked up for publication.

* --Richard Bach's Johnathan Livingston Seagull received more than 140 rejections.

* --After 743 rejection slips, British author, John Creasey went on to have 564 mystery novels published!

* --Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time received over 30 rejections. It took 10 years to get published, and then went on to win a Newbery Award.

What to Do When You Receive a Rejection

It never ceases to amaze me how many potential authors swear undying vengeance upon any editor who may have rejected a story.

You have several choices. You could:

a) Scrawl "Die, Editor" in blood across the cheaply photocopied form rejection letter and promptly mail it back to that editor, along with the sawn off head of his Fluffy Bunny soft-toy.


b) Act like a professional writer, file each rejected piece of work into a file and send the piece back out the door. This way, each rejection is turned into a brand new submission the very same day.

Now I'm not saying my way of dealing with rejection is the right way, but here are some of the things I do when I receive a rejection.

Firstly, I open my filing cabinet and take out the file marked "Rejection". Then I place the rejection slip into it, close it and return it to the filing cabinet.

Next, I'll open a file on my computer called "Writing Business". Inside this folder are sub-folders for invoices, contracts, taxes, clippings, ideas, snippets, half-finished articles & stories, pay rate schedules, two spreadsheets (submissions and pay amounts) and one last folder - you guessed it - REJECTIONS.

Inside the rejections folder, I have another spreadsheet. I list the date and publication name. I also list where I intend to send that rejected piece next. Then it gets listed again in the Submissions spreadsheet (because it's not a rejection anymore, it's a new submission again, remember?).

Improving the Acceptance Odds

There are also lots of things you can do to improve your chances of being accepted by an editor. The most obvious solution is: Submit more.

Simple, really, isn't it?

Of course, the more work you submit, the greater the chances are that you'll receive a rejection. But the same odds are true for receiving an acceptance, too. It really is a numbers game.

The more you submit, the greater your chances become of receiving an acceptance!

© Copyright Lee Masterson. All Rights Reserved.


Creating a Professional Freelance Writing Portfolio

When you begin looking for freelance writing gigs, many clients will ask to see your writing portfolio. There are a few reasons why they want to see a professionally presented portfolio:

1. Clients need to check that you're able to write in a logical, coherent style across a few diverse topics

2. Clients also need to know what level of quality they can expect for their money

3. A portfolio showcases your abilities

4. The type of websites and publications included in your portfolio tells a potential client a lot about the type of writer you are

Your writing portfolio is one of the most important parts of building your freelance writing business. If you're not careful, a badly presented portfolio or an unprofessional attitude towards your freelance business can mean clients are by-passing your talents in favor of other writers.

Don't worry if you're still new and don't have much to add to your portfolio yet. We'll look at some ways to build your portfolio the right way as your business grows.

Let's look at building a professional freelance portfolio that will help you win those higher paying freelance jobs:

1. NEVER Include Links to Content-Producing Sites

It amazes me how many writers submit porfolios to potential clients that contain only links to their work on Helium or Associated Content or eHow. This is NOT a portfolio that represents your professional freelance writing abilities. You are admitting to your clients that you've self-published all your work on the lowest paying sites you could find rather than having the courage to submit your work to more professional markets.

Technically content sites are paying you (pitifully low amounts, but still pay), which means they're a client - but they are not a showcase of your work and definitely not a portfolio.

Most reputable clients and editors of professional writing gigs already know that the short articles on content sites are unedited, self-published work. The quality of writing is often not as high as they're searching for or willing to pay good money for. This means you'll often be overlooked for a real freelance writing gig if your portfolio contains only links to content sites like these.

2. Displaying Your Freelance Writing Portfolio

If you don't have your own website or blog, get one. Create a separate page and list the places you've been published to date. Having your own site shows potential clients and editors that you are serious about your writing business. It's also a lot more professional than directing clients over to a content-producing site.

On your portfolio page, include links to any of your published work. If you've been published in magazines or newspapers, write the name of the publication down along with the publishing date or issue number.

If you don't want the hassle of registering a domain name and figuring out how to upload website pages to it, then a blog is just fine. Don't panic if you have no paid writing credits so far. We'll work on that later.

3. Writing Samples

Showing a client a few samples of your work allows them to see your style and what level of quality they can expect. While many clients may click over to view your previously published pieces, you should also offer a few samples of your finest work on your own website somewhere.

4. Detail Your Services

Include a list of your professional freelance services on your website or blog. This is not a part of your writing portfolio, but it is a great way to show prospective clients your range of skills and abilities. It's important that your new clients understand that you're capable of writing in various styles for different specifications.

There's a lot more to freelance writing than just slapping together a few paragraphs and calling it web content. Some clients want press releases or sales pages written. Other clients want informative feature articles. Still other clients want business presentations or advertising copy written for them.

Showing a list of your available services can often lead to a client contacting you for more than they originally wanted. For example, I have one client who only wanted a little web content written. After seeing my list of services available, I now write all his press releases and advertising copy as well. This created an up-sell situation for me - which also meant more items to include on my portfolio once they were done.

Building Your Portfolio

So... what do you put in your portfolio if you haven't had anything published yet?

Your first option is your own blog or website. While this isn't paying work, it is enough to show clients that you're passionate about what you're writing and it shows your writing style at the same time.

If you have spent some time submitting articles to content-producing sites (such as those slave-labor revenue-share sites), then it's acceptable to link to a few articles on these, but only if you display one on each different topic you've written about. The moment you do have some professional, paid credits to add to your portfolio, you'll replace those content-producer links over time anyway to make sure your portfolio appears as professional as possible.

Your next option is to seek out some paying markets. Don't feel bad if you're only seeking out lower markets to start with. These can be really important while you're building your confidence. Take a look at the list of categories in the right hand column of this blog. You'll see one there that says 'paying freelance markets'. Browse through these and try your luck applying for some.

Visit plenty of real freelance writing job boards or browse the freelance guidelines databases and only aim at work that interests you or that you feel you can write comfortably.

Writing For Dollars Markets Database: http://www.writingfordollars.com/ArticlesDB.cfm

Worldwide Markets Database: http://www.worldwidefreelance.com/masearch.asp

Freelance Job Openings: http://www.freelancejobopenings.com/

Online-Writing-Jobs: http://www.online-writing-jobs.com/

Accentuate Services: http://www.accentuateservices.com/xmb/forumdisplay.php?fid=70


Creating Residual Income From Freelance Writing

There's a lot of talk about creating residual income from freelance writing, and I seriously agree with the basis behind it. Residual income, or passive income, is money that keeps coming in, month after month, long after you've finished the work.

There are lots of great reasons to create residual income. Any freelancer who's serious about turning a love of writing into a lucrative career should learn very quickly how to maximize passive income whenever possible.

I personally have several forms of residual income coming into my freelance business. It's this passive income arriving each month that pays my mortgage payment and my utilities bills each month.

As with every other area of freelance writing, there are ways to seriously boost your residual income through the stratosphere and then there's slave-labor version of residual income. For those writers already determined to stick to the slave-labor versions of making money online, then I suggest you stop reading this post now. I'm about to TRASH Associated Content, Helium, Triond and sites just like them a lot.

Before I get into my slave-labor site-bashing, I will remind you that I did conduct an experiment at Helium to verify my findings. You can find my original experiment here: http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2008/10/writing-at-helium.html

I read a post on a networking site from a writer who only writes on revenue-share sites. This writer's logic went as follows:

100 articles written and submitted could bring you $100 per month in residual income. Wow. That's $1,200 a year! You just need to get 10,000 page views of your work to make it happen.

Um... I don't know about you, but getting 10,000 page views takes an awful lot of work, time and effort. You also have NO guarantee that you're going to reach that massive amount of page views, which means the average writer is going to earn significantly less than $100 a month from these options. What happens if you only get 100 page views? That adds up to a princely sum of UNDER $10 for 100 articles. That's hardly 'passive' income any more is it?

Besides, 100 articles sold at $50 each should have made me closer to $5,000 in upfront payments that could be paid off my mortgage right now, which would save me significantly more than $1,200 in interest payments in half the time. Or I could go on a nice vacaction with $5,000. Or I could buy a new computer. And that's without me having to worry about getting ANY page views!

Or I could aim at even higher paying markets and sell them for $100 each. That's $10,000 for 100 articles. Yes, that really is possible. I've already pointed at lots of places for you to find markets that pay this high - and higher.

Gee - I could even be contrary and aim at the really low-paying end of the market and still earn more money. Even at $10 per article, that's $1000 in guaranteed upfront payments without worrying about promoting it or finding page-views.

Writing so much and working so hard for a pathetic amount of a few cents per article at a revenue-share site is also nothing to do with creating a real, reliable residual income.

There are much easier ways to make residual income than writing hundreds of articles for a few cents each.

Types of Residual Income

Passive income, or residual income, doesn't have to come from writing activities. In fact, investors have been generating residual incomes for themselves for decades. Here are some ways to build residual income.

- Rental Income from buying investment properties

- Dividend Income from shares/stocks you own

- Interest Income from savings at the bank

- Royalties from selling a book/ebook or writing music or inventing things

- Recurring commissions from selling affiliate products on the internet (affiliate marketing)

- E-commerce websites or online stores

- Advertising revenue from creating effectively, correctly monetized websites

Hmmm... from what I can see, none of those methods of creating and building residual income have anything to so with slaving away, day after day, writing, submitting and promoting hundreds and hundreds of articles for a few cents IF you can generate thousands of page views.

However, if you read those options carefully you would have also noticed that four of those options have to do with working smarter online instead of harder. One of them is directly related to freelance writing.

Freelance Writing and Residual Income

Writing and selling articles is the 'bread and butter' of my freelance writing business. I write an article and then I research markets until I find one that will pay me properly for my time and effort. I receive an upfront payment for the highest amount I can possibly find. That's not residual income. That's bringing cash flow into my freelance business NOW so I can continue to pay my bills on time. That's making sure I have enough money in my accounts so that I don't have to go back to a day job any time soon.

Residual income is the 'cream and sugar' of my freelance writing business. I do receive quite a lot of residual income each month as well as my upfront payments. My residual income comes from ebooks, affiliate sales, paid ads on several blogs, royalties from anthologies as well as a few well-placed investments. It's a vital part of my total freelance business income.

Writing and selling short stories and fiction creates both a little bit of upfront money as well as residual income. Most short stories sell for between $40 - $100 upfront, plus you get paid royalties if you sold the story to an anthology that sells well.

Writing entire books or ebooks can generate a very healthy residual income for a long time. You complete the work once and then you continue to receive royalties for as long as that book keeps selling. No hassle about getting enough page-views. No difficulties in finding something else to write about tomorrow. Just royalties coming in month after month.

Advertising income can generate quite a significant amount of residual income. I see a lot of people complaining about not earning enough from Google Adsense or Bidvertiser or Adbrite - yet imagine how much you COULD be earning if you wrote 100 articles and put them on your own blog? Instead of a few cents per page view, you could actually be keeping all the profits for yourself. (I'll give you a hint: this post is number 83 on this blog. I reach payout with Adsense every month.... )

I'll also write an entire post on creating ebooks in a later post - there's too much to add here.

So the next time someone advises you join a revenue-share site, think carefully about it. If you're willing to write hundreds of articles and spend large amounts of time generating more and more page views in order to earn a few extra dollars a month, then try it.

If you're willing to learn about real ways to create residual income that don't involve slave-labor, then perhaps direct your time and energy to options that can double your income without even a fraction of the work involved in working at those slave-labor sites.


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Plagiarism is THEFT

I was happily looking around Google to see what I could find and I ran across a Wordpress blog that looked very familiar. I knew I'd never been to this ugly green blog before and I didn't know the name of the Indian thief (Harshajyoti Das, also known as 'jr_sci' on most forums or Gudugudu), so that wasn't what I was finding familiar.

What was familiar is that EVERY SINGLE BLOG POST I've ever written was stolen, plagiarized and reproduced there exactly.

How stupid are some people to post a blog that says "My name is Bianca Raven" - but posted on a blog by someone who's name is Harshajyoti Das instead of Bianca? Surely that would be a hint?

I work hard to put together the words I offer on this blog for other writers to learn from. I try to find valid resources for you all. These words are free for you to READ anytime you want - but they're not free to be copied, reposted or otherwise stolen from me.

When I emailed this ugly green blog's owner and politely asked him to remove my content from his page he responded with the following email:


Binaca listen. There are numerous blogs over the internet that has the same content as yours. If you want then I can provide the link of your blog in my freelance blog. Thus, I shall give a link of the original posts. Are you okay with this deal?

Actually I have no profit making intention. Your content is awsome so had taken to my blog. I am sorry if I have offended you.

Harshajyoti Das

Hmmm.... plagiarizing my work and then saying you think my content is awesome doesn't make it okay to steal it and pretend that it's your own work. That's THEFT!

So I responded with the following:


There are not numerous blogs all over the internet with my original copyrighted content. I wrote that content for use on my own blog only. I have not given permission for this content to be stolen by anyone.

If you wish to steal original content from writers, then you need to ask for permission from the legal copyright holder. If you don't ask for permission, then this is called theft.

I'm glad you think my content is awesome - thank you for the compliment - but this doesn't give you the right to automatically copy it.

Please remove my legally copyrighted content from your blog at once.

Thank you for your prompt attention to fixing this theft problem.
Bianca Raven

Of course nothing was done to remove MY content from this plagiarized ugly-green blog. In fact, when I searched for the thief's name on Google, I noticed that he has an Associated Content account and a Squidoo lens. Hmm... No profit-making intentions from stealing other people's work huh? Sure buddy.

So I reported his lack of action to Wordpress (where the ugly-green plagiarized blog was hosted).

Here's the amusingly rude email I got this morning ...


My Wordpress account got suspended because of you. You are such an asshole. I challenge you that I shall make a much more better blog than yours with a double traffic and show it to you.

Just keep fucking with your fucking blog. Just see to it how I am going to fuck you and your blog.

Harshajyoti Das

Um... let me think. The last time I looked, Harshajyoti - YOU WERE THE ONE WHO STOLE MY WORK. That means you got your own Wordpress account suspended - not me!

Have a nice day and remember - if you take something that doesn't belong to you without permission of the owner it's called theft.

I wonder if he'll steal this post?



What IS Freelance Writing Really?

Do you know what the word 'freelance' really means? I'm sure most of you do. You're all bright, intelligent people (I can tell by the correspondence I get!). But there are one or two out there who seem to insist that just being online and earning a few cents makes them freelance writers.

Here's the real meaning.

Freelance = self-employed

The word 'freelance' by itself does NOT mean anything to do with writing. It has nothing to do with being online. It isn't about articles and it's not about revenue-share. It means self-employed.

'Going Freelance' means you've decided to work all by yourself with no boss but you. You can be a freelance photographer, a freelance graphic designer, a freelance architect, a freelance web creator, a freelance mortgage consultant, a freelance wedding planner, a freelance nose picker... whatever you want to do on your own within your own home business means you're a freelance whatever. Fill in your own blanks.

What's Freelance Writing Then?

Freelance writing is the term given to a person who is self-employed as a writer, running a business in which they must write in order to earn income. It makes no difference how big or small your business is - as long as you realize that freelance IS being in business for yourself.

I am a freelance writer. I own a small freelance business in which I write for a living. This means I work for myself as my own boss in my own home business where my primary product for sale is writing. I do the work I want to do. I choose which work assignments to accept and which ones to decline. I research new markets to submit work to. I write for offline magazines, I write for online clients and I often write just for myself too. I don't receive any other income from anyone or anywhere else.

Your freelance business could be big or small. You have the freedom to choose what you want it to become. Write just the fun stuff and avoid the crummy stuff you don't enjoy. It's your business after all.

My amazing, wonderful mentor is also a freelance writer (Hi Lee!) Her freelance business makes my own full-time enterprise look like a beginner. She's nothing short of amazing. She earns all her income from writing for clients, websites and magazines. She has staff as well as a personal assistant and she even owns her own magazine!

Many of my closest friends are also self-employed freelance writers who earn their entire income from writing activities (but they don't have staff LOL) Three of my own proteges are freelance writers and fast becoming good friends. They actively work hard to increase their skills and knowledge while they build their freelance businesses. They seek out new clients, they actively avoid the low paying markets in an effort to keep increasing their income until it reaches the level they need to pay the bills (Hi to Linz, Jhellie and Amalia. You know who you are)

When Are You NOT a Freelance Writer?

I'm a member of several community sites where newer writers tend to hang out. I spend time here trying to help those new writers with real talent to break free of the low-paying ranks and build a profitable income for themselves.

Many newer writers seem so proud of themselves when they earn 5 cents per forum post and earn 23 cents per month on page views on useless revenue-share sites. They immediately begin calling themselves freelance writers, immediately start up little blogs and attempt to teach others how to make easy money from 'freelancing'.

While it is possible to make a few extra dollars a year from posting in forums or submitting your thoughts about your own life on revenue-share sites like Associated Content or MyLot, these little musings don't make you a freelance writer. They make you a hobbyist.

Hobbies Are Great Fun

Never feel bad for being a hobby writer. Enjoy it! It's a lot of fun and you can earn a bit of extra pocket money. Be proud to tell people that you're a hobby writer part-time.

While my own business was still growing, I was a hobby writer in my spare time while I worked full time at a very large bank. I had fun with my hobby for 2 years before I decided to take it seriously and build it into a business instead of a hobby. The day I quit my job and earned my entire income from writing I became a freelance writer instead of a hobby writer.

How Do You Become a Freelance Writer?

When I was learning and growing and still in the hobby-phase, my mentor was very fond of nagging me endlessly about treating freelancing seriously and professionally. This means actively working to improve your confidence levels, honing your talents and aiming at markets that will pay your bills. It also means learning to prioritize your time carefully so that each day is filled with activities that bring income into your business.

Prioritization was the hardest thing I had to learn. My mentor looked at what I did during each day and asked me to create a spreadsheet. Then I learned to track my activities and what percentage of income was earned for how much time spent on doing them.

What I noticed very quickly is that spending four hours on a networking site like MyLot might earn $2 - but four hours worth of article writing could see at least 4 or 5 articles written. So I immediately began submitting articles hoping to earn $5 or $6 per article. I was ecstatic about the increase in income! I learned to spend more time doing things that paid more money and avoided those that ate my time for very little return.

This one simple lesson tripled my freelance income and increased my productivity massively at the same time.

Developing Confidence in Your Freelance Writing

You know I'm going to tell you my mentor wasn't happy with me aiming at low paying $5 article markets like this. In fact she was disgusted and promptly sat with me as I looked for higher paying options.

My first argument to Lee was the same one I hear from people regularly when I tell them to aim a bit higher. "I'm not good enough to submit to big markets". Does that sound familiar to you?

She rolled her eyes at me in exasperation and pointed out that magazine editors have NO idea how long you've been writing. All they care about is how good the idea is in front of them. If they like the idea for a story, many of them will suggest a format that they want to see.

I didn't believe her at all, but I submitted a query letter to an editor at a magazine and simply told him about my idea for an article. He loved it and offered to pay me $800 for the article at once.

Yep - it really is as easy as that.

(see this post for ideas about improving confidence)

Avoiding Freelance Burn-Out

I met a really talented writer on a forum last year. He wrote great articles and always knew exactly what the client wanted. His name was Taylor and he had a really bright future in writing ahead of him.

Unfortunately Taylor refused to look outside of the low-paying markets. He spent all his time on Digital Point Forums charging $2 for a 500 word article. He would write and write and write all day, sometimes writing 8 or 10 articles just to earn $20. He worked 6 days a week on this same routine. He was so mentally exhausted that one day he woke up and simply couldn't face writing another thing the rest of his life.

He was a brilliant, talented writer and he'll probably never write anything again. I hate hearing stories like this. It's a waste of perfectly good talent. The sad part is he could easily have earned $50 or $100 per article with the quality he was producing. He just didn't have confidence in his ability.

If Taylor had actively broken up his writing activities into profitable sections and 'just-for-fun' sections and then looked more carefully at prioritizing his time, he would have been able to turn a hobby into a lucrative full-time income by writing only 2 or 3 articles per day, 5 days a week. He wouldn't have burned out and wasted all that talent.

Phew! I didn't realize I'd written so much (grins sheepishly). I hope some of you are realizing by this post that no matter what level of writing you're at, where you take it and how you build it is all up to you. Enjoy the hobby stage. Have fun with it. Be proud to be a Hobby Writer.

But the moment you decide you want to be a professional Freelance Writer, go ahead and quit those low paying, slave-labor, revenue-share hobby sites and come out and play with the real paying sites! You'll be glad you did.

Happy writing.


Researching Your Freelance Articles

I received an email from a reader saying "In a previous post you mentioned being able to churn out 5 or 6 short articles in an hour. How? I have the hardest time because I have to research the articles. I do find myself spending about an hour or two for a $5.00 article. It doesn't seem worth it."

Freelance writing really can be a very lucrative career. It's possible to earn a great income from the comfort of your own home. Unfortunately it's also possible to reduce your income drastically by accepting the wrong types of assignments or by not organizing your day or your writing assignments for maximum efficiency.

Let's look at some ways to increase your income and reduce the amount of time you spend researching and writing.

Researching for Assignments from Content Mills

Content mills are those sites that offer writers with a steady stream of article work. They don't pay very highly - generally between $5-$15 per article - but they are a nice inclusion for any online freelancer needing a bit of consistency with cash flow.

When you accept writing assignments from content mills like Text-Broker or Demand Studios or even from Need-An-Article then you're not always going to be thrilled about the subject matter. You may need to search around on Google or through Wikipedia to find enough information to write a logical article.

If you find yourself spending an hour or 2 researching to find enough information to write a $5 article, then you need to ask whether you should have accepted that assignment in the first place.

Understanding What Content Mills Want

The biggest difference between an assignment from a content mill and an assignment from a private freelance client is the level of quality they expect. The people who order articles written through content mills are mostly seeking keyword-focused articles that center around the general topic they requested. These articles are only to fill up websites and attract search engines. This means they're not after in-depth articles. They want information that covers a topic.

To understand a little more on how I write according to the differences between content mill work and my own work for private clients, check out this post from last year:


Cutting Down On Research

One option I use to reduce my research time in these situations is to verify how many articles on the same or similar topics are available. If I can see more than 5 articles available then I'll happily spend 10 or 15 minutes researching for enough topic points to talk about. Obviously I'm going to need 5 topic points for 5 intended articles.

(tip: if you can't limit your research quickly, then set an alarm and stop when it rings)

Remember - if this research is for an assignment with a content mill only paying a few dollars then you can't afford to be spending hours looking up the information you need. Find a few pointers to write about and get writing.

Writing 5 or 6 Articles an Hour

If you've accepted an assignment for 5 articles, then research the basics before you begin writing. Write the article topics one beneath the next. Then make notes about your research as you work beneath each title.

For my own style, I tend to write all 5 at once, making notes I want to remember about each subject title. When your research is done, go back through your notes and add sentences to expand on your meaning and say what you want to say.

By the time you've expanded on your notes and clarified your meanings, you should easily have several hundred words. You're almost there.

Re-Use Your Own Research

After you've written the article you needed to write, ALWAYS save your articles to a separate folder. Because content mills buy all the rights to those articles, you can't sell them again anyway - but you can re-use the research within those articles whenever you want. Make sure you label the article according to the topic it covers so you can find specific topics easily.

Hint: NEVER re-use the same words you've already used. Someone else has already paid you for the use of those words. You can re-write, re-slant, re-hash and re-edit your original work all you like - just be sure you never use the same words twice or your favorite content mill will suddenly decide they have no more work to offer you.

Don't Take It Too Seriously

While it is still important to write legible, logical articles for content mill assignments, they're not masterpieces and they're not being entered into the category for a literary award. These articles are web content.

Of course you should still be careful to keep your spelling and grammar correct. Your facts should also be correct and your writing should convey the information you want the reader to know.

Then you need to learn to save the file to your separate folder, close the word processing program you're working on and begin the next assignment. Immediately.

Don't be tempted to go back through every word painstakingly editing each sentence until it gleams. Save this kind of attitude for the high paying markets who are paying for your time and effort.

Content mills provide much-needed cash flow for freelancers needing a bit of extra cash in between waiting for the bigger markets to send out their checks. Keep this in mind next time you're tempted to spend any longer than 15 or 20 minutes writing an article for $5 or $10

I hope this helps


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NeutralExistence - Paying Freelance Market

Are you interested in earning some money by writing about environmental issues?

NeutralExistence are seeking writers willing to write articles on going green, reducing emissions, eco-tips and helping to save our environment. Pay is between $20-$30 per article - but remember that NeutralExistence pay 1/2 of your payment upfront and the other half in 60 days AFTER they've verified that you haven't published the same article all over the internet.

To get an idea of what kind of articles are accepted, read through their archives. If you think this is the kind of thing you can write, then visit NeutralExistence, check their writer's guidelines and submit your articles!

Happy writing.



What's Your Freelance Brand About?

Have you ever Googled yourself? LOL. It sounds a little obscene if you don't think about it - but when was the last time you put your own name into a search engine to see what showed up?

I did this less than two minutes ago and was surprised that there are several other people in this world with the same unfortunate name combination as my own! Apparently there's a serial-unemployed person in the UK with the name Bianca Raven and there's a male in America with the same name wearing someone else's underpants (!). There's a pretty African-American version of Bianca Raven showing on a Facebook profile page.

And then there's me - the real Bianca Raven - out here in Australia.

My aim was to see how easily I could be found if someone was looking for me directly. After all, if clients can't find me how will I ever get more work? So my goal was to be the only 'Bianca Raven' on the front page of the search results so that's who potential clients will find if they're looking directly for me.

Unfortunately the serially unemployed UK-version of Bianca ranks more highly than I do. This can't be a good thing for my 'professional branding'. I guess it's time to get some serious SEO practices happening on this blog. I've added my actual Facebook profile link to my bio (in the right hand column) along with my Twitter profile link to help those links with my name on them to rank a little higher too.

For the sake of optimization I'm going to have to add my own name to this post at least one more time ;)

So with all good professional branding motives in my head while I write - this is Bianca Raven saying KEEP WRITING!

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