Happy New Year!

Well it's that time of year once again, where the old year draws to a close to make way for the entrance of a bright New Year.

2010 was definitely a challenging, busy year for me. I broke out of a few comfort zones and pushed myself to build up my business even further than it already was. I'm very happy with my results, but I'm not the type to rest on my laurels.

I figure 2011 will be even bigger and better again. So I will continue to push those comfort zone boundaries out even wider and challenge myself a little harder, because in the end, it's all worth it :)

I want to wish all of you reading this a happy, safe, healthy and prosperous New Year. May all your freelance writing dreams come true!


Content Authority - Paying Freelance Market

Content Authority is hiring writers. Content Authority is a content mill with a very similar structure and tier level system to Text Broker. Reports from other writers show that there seems to be plenty of work available at the moment with this company.

The pay rate is adjusted according to the writer's Tier level. However, you will be paid on what quality is requested - NOT what tier level you are. If you are a tier 2 writer and you complete an order that is tier 1 work, you will be paid at the tier 1 rate. If you are a tier 2 and you get a request for a tier 2 you will be paid the tier 2 rates. This is an important distinction to remember when you're calculating how much you hope to earn each week as a writer with Content Authority.

Content Authority pay weekly via PayPal.

Tier 1 Flat Rates

200 Words $ 1.40
300 Words $ 2.10
400 Words $ 2.80
500 Words $ 3.50
600 Words $ 4.20
700 Words $ 4.90
800 Words $ 5.60

Tier 2 Flat Rates
200 Words $ 2.00
300 Words $ 3.00
400 Words $ 4.00
500 Words $ 5.00
600 Words $ 6.00
700 Words $ 7.00
800 Words $ 8.00
900 Words $ 9.00

Tier 3 Flat Rates:
200 Words $ 3.00
300 Words $ 4.50
400 Words $ 6.00
500 Words $ 7.50
600 Words $ 9.00
700 Words $ 10.50
800 Words $ 12.00
900 Words $ 13.50
1000 Words $ 15.00

You'll find the writer application form here: http://thecontentauthority.com/application-writers.php


Do You Take Your Freelance Clients Seriously?

Well?? Do you take your freelance clients seriously? Of course, plenty of you do - but there are also plenty of you out there who don't.

I'm one of those writers who figuratively bends over backwards to accommodate good clients. I'm also very willing to drop bad clients like a bucket full of prawns gone rancid in the sun. I don't have time to deal with clients who treat me badly, or disrespectfully, or simply don't value what it is I do for a living. There are too many good clients out there to worry about those kinds of clients.

One of my better clients has also become a very good friend over the several years I've been working with her. She has 14 writers working for her just to handle her own freelance writing overflow. (no, she's not hiring. Don't leave comments asking for her contact details. She has enough writers for now.)

She treats her clients like gold. She treats her writers like gold. She understands that the clients are the people who pay her bills - and those of her writers by default - so she makes sure they're happy and receiving the work they're paying for in the time frame they want them done.

Unfortunately, as part of a 14-writer team, I get to see some of the wonderful excuses and responses she receives on a daily basis from some of the other writers who simply don't treat their own freelance clients very seriously at all.

You see, even though I have other private clients I work with on a regular basis, my friend is also one of my clients. This means we both learned very quickly to separate business from friendship. If I accept a job she's allocated, I make absolutely sure it's completed when she needs it completed. If I'm otherwise occupied and can't handle the work she needs done in the time frame she needs it by, I'll turn down that particular job. Simple, huh?

Not quite so simple...

Today I was assisting that same friend with some admin work she needed done so she could work on finalizing a copywriting job she was busy working on. She allocates very regular work to her little team. She pays every week and she pays above average rates for the work offered. (once again, she's not hiring. Don't leave comments asking about it!)

What I saw in her email inbox amazed me.

Of those 14 writers, perhaps 6 of them take her seriously as a freelance client (including me!). The others completely take the work she offers for granted. That means they're taking her clients for granted too. By default, it also means they're not treating their own freelance client - my friend - seriously at all.

For example: A job posted on Sunday evening with a very clear deadline of 24 hours written on it was taken immediately by one writer. Usually the deadlines are a lot more lenient. This was a special job. Two days later when I requested an update or an explanation for why it was late and why I needed to speak to the actual client about it, here's what I read:

"I had the worst migraine. I'll try to work on it later tomorrow."

Okay. I thought that was fair enough. A migraine can be nasty, painful and debilitating. But my friend tells me those migraines happen on a regular enough basis to be recognized as "every Monday".

Another great excuse for missing a deadline arrived on the heels of the first from a different writer. "I had the 'women's monthly visit' and felt terrible. I'll do it tomorrow" (paraphrasing here, but you catch my drift).

My friend laughed and said "Again? That's the third time this month!"

The next email was a begging plea for an extra payment outside of when every other writer gets paid. Apparently that writer decided not to work at all last week and has now decided the rent's due, so came hassling my friend for extra work and early payment. 

Another very frequent excuse received is "my kid was sick". (substitute 'kid' for father, mother, grandmother, aunt, neighbor's dog and you see what goes on each week for excuses - and always on the same day from that writer!).

And then one email arrived from a writer saying "I'm so sorry, I thought I had WiFi at the place I was at, but it dropped out and I'm stuck." My friend sat up in alarm. That particular writer NEVER makes excuses and NEVER misses deadlines. She was immediately worried that something was wrong and sent a message saying it was fine and she'd cover the deadline herself. Thus is the power of consistent professionalism and courtesy.

I'm horrified. I'm also disgusted and appalled at the unprofessional manner of these "freelance writers" who have it very easy working with my friend.

As a professional, full-time freelance writer, I understand that I'm self-employed. I choose when I work and I work those hours that suit me around my daughter's needs. This means I only accept work that I know I can get done without disappointing those freelance clients. If I can't get it done, I'm honest enough and respectful enough of my clients to admit it, or to ask for a longer deadline to accommodate their needs.

But watching my friend shrug off the same round of excuses each week for the same missed deadlines - and then watch her sit up until 2am to complete the work that wasn't done in their place - is a little disheartening.

Of course, it also showed me that the writer who has a great reputation for being reliable, trustworthy, professional and timely with completing assignments received all of her attention the moment there was a problem.
(it's also worth noting that the same writer mentioned receives almost four times the amount of personally allocated work each week compared to the other writers to ensure that writer always has plenty of income!)

So the next time you decide to accept a freelancing job, complete it. If you don't have the time or inclination to complete it - don't accept it. If something crops up, say something to your client. Don't ignore it, or avoid it, or just wait until someone complains. In the world of online freelancing, your reputation means everything.

This doesn't just apply to your private clients. It applies to any particular writing job you've accepted from any paying source, including content mills, bidding sites, private requests and any other source that actually pays you to write something in order to get paid.

Treat your freelance clients with respect. They're paying you to complete a job to their specifications. They're paying good money they could have given to someone else to have you work for them and you agreed to it. So do it. If you don't want to do it, don't make false promises that you will.

'nuff said.


Benefits of Being an International Writer

It's no secret - I'm an international writer. I have clients in several countries around the world and they're quite well aware that I'm all the way over here in Australia.

In most cases, my clients are quite lenient of the difference in time zone. They seem to understand that I sleep when they're awake and I'm working while they sleep. Of course, there are a few who call me in the middle of the night because they've miscalculated the time differences, but that's fine.

Some writers seem a little hesitant to deal with clients outside their own country. They fear that they might not get paid or that they might end up with tax issues. Other writers think it's cool to have US clients, UK clients, Aussie clients, South African clients and various other orders arriving from parts of Europe or Asia all the time. I'm one of the latter.

Here are some of the bigger benefits I've found to having an international client base:

International Writers Have a Broadened Debtor Base

In business terms, broadening your debtor base means becoming less reliant on one sole source of income. Imagine if I had one big-paying client (or worse, one employer) and something went wrong with that source of income. I'd go broke. Yet with so many different clients with varied needs from all over the world, I'm assured that somebody, somewhere will always want to order more work from me.

This protects my freelance business against any particular client leaving or not ordering any more.

International Writers Are More Recession-Proof

During the Global Financial Crisis, I noticed that far less American clients were ordering big amounts of writing work done. Oh sure, there were still plenty around - just less than there had been before. The same with UK clients. They suddenly went very quiet and only ordered what they needed.

Of course, not every country went into a recession. Australia sure didn't, and the surge in orders from Australian clients was enormous as they sought to take over niches where the Americans and Brits were falling behind.

Parts of Asia, such as Singapore and India, also didn't suffer the same financial difficulties faced by the US and UK, and I also noticed a huge spike in the number of orders I received from Indian and Asian entrepreneurs willing to pay higher rates for a native-English speaking writer.

International Writers Can Benefit from Earning in Multiple Currencies

One of the fun parts about being an international writer is that I'm not limited to just earning Aussie dollars. Right at this point in time, the AUD is quite strong against the US Dollar, but this hasn't always been so - and isn't always going to stay this way either.

I can choose to charge my clients in the currency that represents stronger value at that time when I convert it to my own local currency. So right now, the Aussie dollar is stronger for me. However, last year it made sense for me to charge UK and European clients in British pounds or Euros.

I can choose to charge Canadian clients in CA dollars or US dollars, whichever represents the best conversion rate for me at that time. I always charge US clients in US dollars, as they don't seem to get their heads all the way around paying in a different currency to their own.

When you learn how to use the power of foreign currency in your own favor, it's possible to increase your income simply due to the conversion rates over to your own local currency.

International Writers Could Be Considered Exporters

This really fun aspect of being an international writer surprised me when I first learned about it a few years ago. You see, if you're selling goods or services overseas and bringing that money into your own country, you're technically an exporter.

According to the Australian Export office, I'm selling my writing (the product) to foreign countries, which means I'm an official exporter.

Usually this doesn't change the way you do business. You still need to produce the goods and you still need to deliver the goods. You still receive payment the same way you always would and convert it to your own country's currency so you can spend it (and pay tax on it).

The big difference is that some countries actually reward exporting businesses. In Australia, this makes me eligible for various government Export Grants, exporting assistance schemes and rebates on travel (!)

With so many cool benefits to being an international freelance writer, I hope it's even more obvious why I love my job/business so much


The Problem with Freelance Writing Tips

Have you ever visited a site promising freelance writing tips, only to find that the information on it really doesn't help what you're trying to achieve? There are literally millions of sites on the Internet offering freelance writing tips, but how many of them really have anything different to say than any of the others?

I've found there are a few common types of freelance writing site getting around the place. These are usually:

- great value, packed with helpful information and valid knowledge imparted by a working freelance writer
- average, containing information that could be helpful under the right circumstances
- pathetically lame, usually written by someone who really doesn't know what it means to work full time in this industry, but who is generally earning a few bucks on a revenue share site somewhere.

However, I've noticed there's one specific type of 'freelance writing tips' site missing from the general, run-of-the-mill sites:

- the site that remembers that every freelance writer is an individual and will want to set up their own freelance business in their own way according to their own unique taste, style and schedule.

Curious, isn't it?

You see, the majority of freelance writing tips available often tell you to go out and follow the precise steps listed on the site. Do it their way and they promise you'll succeed. While their intentions are good, these kinds of tips don't take into account that not every writer WANTS to write white papers or technical articles or web content or ebooks or whatever else they recommend to do next.

Let's be honest, if I said to you the only way you're going to earn money as a freelancer is to do the exact same thing I did, would you do it? Even if you knew you probably wouldn't like most of the topics I really enjoy writing about? You'd be bored out of your mind and not stick with it too long.

Then there are those freelance writing sites that offer some information designed to get you really interested in what they're saying. Just as they get to the good bits, they'll stop giving out the good information and promote a manual/course/book promising you even more good information. This is a simple affiliate marketing tactic designed to part you from your hard earned money and earn the webmaster a few quick bucks from your sale. There's absolutely nothing wrong with affiliate marketing - plenty of people make a good living this way. Just be aware of what it is when you're reading through sites.

The point I'm making is that your freelance writing business is completely 100% up to YOU. You're the boss, so you choose what you want to write. You choose which clients you want to work with. You choose whether you're going to accept work or not. You also get to choose what types of work you want to focus on to earn your money.

You get to make the decisions.

So the next time you  visit a site offering freelance writing tips, check first whether they cater to you as a writer who owns his or her own individual business, or whether you're being told how and where to jump next like an obedient sheep...


Plucking the Low Hanging Freelance Fruit

Have you ever heard the saying "to pluck the low hanging fruit"? It basically means to go for the easy pay off rather than aiming at the more difficult fruit at the top of the tree.

If you take the analogy seriously, I guess you're looking at taking zero risk and just reaching for the low hanging fruit you can reach easily. While this means you'll be eating fruit sooner, will it be as sweet as the more tempting fruit growing at the top?

Unfortunately, reaching the golden apples at the top of the tree often involves more risk - and a far greater fall if something goes wrong.

So how does this relate to freelance writing?

Think about some of the many, varied levels of freelance writing and you'll see that there's plenty of low hanging fruit lying about waiting for someone to pick it all up. There are also those big, elusive golden apples waiting at the top of the tree for those brave freelancers willing to take the climb to the top.

So which is the right path to take for a freelance writer trying to make an income from this crazy industry? Do you aim at the easy-pickings and bank your consistent cash flow each week? Or should you forego the easy income and go without the cash flow while you're taking the arduous climb to the top for the bigger pay off?

I've heard arguments for and against both options from many, many writers. Obviously there are those who turn their noses in the air at anything that won't pay them what they believe they should receive. Yet there are others who won't strive to reach any higher than the level they've already reached.

The decision for where you want to climb in your own freelance career sits firmly upon your own shoulders. You have the choice whether to aim higher, further or faster, or you can stay where you are comfortably. It's your choice.

Personally - I have a mortgage to pay, so I've become a realist. While I'm happy to make the climb into the higher paying markets at the top of the tree, I'm also very happy to reach out for the low hanging fruit that's in easy reach and brings in regular cash flow. This is what pays my bills.

The difficulty is finding the right balance between the two.

Obviously, if you're only reaching for the easy pickings, the amount you earn is going to be a little lower than the premium-quality stuff hiding right at the top, but at least you know it's regular.

However, by aiming at only the really juicy fruit that promises to give you a really big windfall at the end, you could find that the competition is much fiercer, the risk of failure is greater and you might bypass a lot of golden opportunities along the way.

Oh sure, I'm the first to admit that I aim at (and sometimes get!) plenty of really high paying freelance assignments in magazines and I'd love to get my novel published for a six-figure advance. That would be fabulous.

But I'm not going to turn my nose up at the low hanging fruit that's within such easy reach while I'm on my way to those dizzying heights!


Writers Who Won't Work

I've learned in the past couple of months that there are thousands of writers on the Internet, all searching for ways to earn more money from their writing efforts. They spend plenty of time online, trying to learn all about how to earn money from freelance writing. They try to source new clients and new work avenues. They really dig in deep and research how to make it all work for them.

Unfortunately, there is also a large percentage of writers who have access to all the work they want or need and they simply choose not to take it because it might look like they have to do some work.

It's so surprising how many writers beg for help and tell me how hard they're struggling with money - yet when the work is handed to them on a platter, it all becomes too hard for them to cope with. They'd rather sit around and fantasize about writing the next big novel, instead of accepting real paying work that will pay the rent right now!

Freelance writing is about accepting writing work for clients, completing that work and getting paid. If you have the dream of sitting around signing autographs on the inside of your best-selling book cover, but you don't want to write what clients want, then you're in the wrong business. That's novel writing - not freelance writing.

Don't get me wrong - I'd love to write a novel too. But I'm funding my novel-writing dreams by doing the real freelance paying stuff that gives me the time to be at home doing what I love first. I'm not shirking the 'work' side of this writing thing as I keep seeing so many people doing, day in and day out.

So my question to you is this: Is there really any point trying to help people who simply don't want to help themselves? Or am I banging my head against a brick wall over here?

I'm going back to writing my assignments that really do pay my bills. When I'm done with covering the bill payments, I'll spend time writing my novels. I won't be spending my time answering emails from people who beg me to help them, only to learn that they don't want to do anything that looks like they have to do anything for themselves.

Till next time, be good and if you can't be good - be good at it.


Getting Your Freelance Blog Found By the Right People

When I first began this blog, I took some time to research ways to increase the readership and popularity. While there are no freelance writing samples of my work on this particular site, it can still give my clients a clear insight into how seriously I take my writing business.

Therefore, the following things were important to me:

- that my site ranked well in the search engines for freelance related keywords, to be sure my clients could see I had SEO skills within my own primary niche

- that it was written with professionality in mind, to reflect my dedication to my freelance work

- that my readers found it useful, so they'd want to keep returning, which makes the blog busier by default.

These goals were quite simple to achieve. Here are some things I did to boost popularity of my blog, and, by default, boost awareness of me as a freelance writer to the world at large.

1. Clear Primary Topic

When you want to attract a specific audience, you need to choose your primary topic and stick to it like bug-guts on a windshield. Smear your topic's keywords around the place. Write posts that are pertinent to that topic and get them out there. Think outside the square a little and look for things that other people interested in that topic might find appealing. Don't change topics or add things you think might make a few quick bucks. This will damage your efforts.

2. Search Engine Ranking

There are plenty of tutorials and informational articles on how to increase search engine ranking for sites and/or blogs, so I won't go into a lot of detail here. Suffice to say, I chose to use white-hat techniques to be sure my blog wasn't penalized in any results. Always be ethical in your SEO efforts and you won't face consequences later.

3. Spread the Word

People can't find out about your services as a freelance writer or find out about your blog if they don't know it exists. Post articles about your chosen topic on a few article directories and leave your link in the author bio box. Link to each new post on social networking sites, like Facebook or Twitter. Submit your posts to RSS feeds. Get out there.

4. Back Linking

Chances are, many people who read this blog didn't find it via search engines. Think about how you ended up here. Did you follow a link from another site? Did a friend recommend you to come and take a look? Did you find one of my tips posted on someone else's site and followed that link?

Regardless, those backlinks have more than one function. Not only can they help direct visitors to your blog, but they are also seen and read by the search engine spiders. When they appear on sites/blogs revolving around a similar topic to your own, they're considered useful and can help your ranking.

For example, if you own a blog about freelancing and you leave your link in a comment on my blog, you have created a valid back link that will help your SEO. (I encourage you to leave a link - if you have a site related to writing, that is)

However, when you spam every blog you can find just to try and create a backlink, even if the topic has nothing to do with your own, this is called link-spamming. It doesn't increase your popularity. It doesn't help your ranking. It ruins the ranking of the blog you're spamming.

And it annoys blog-owners like me when idiots constantly keep posting useless links on my blog that have absolutely NOTHING to do with the topic at hand just to try and get a few cheap backlinks.

If you find link-spam like this on your own blog, check the link first. When the topic relates to your topic, it helps you both. When it doesn't relate at all and is clearly just spam - DELETE IT and ban that IP address from posting again. (I added this because someone has been spamming with blog for a few months with a completely unrelated site. So annoying).

These are the primary things I did to make sure my freelance blog was visible to the people I wanted to attract. While I've found each of you, my treasured readers, I've also found several clients who have come looking for writers directly.

So if you're still wondering how to get your name and your writing services known, take action, be ethical in your efforts and persist. It will happen.