Choosing to become a freelancer is both a positive and risky decision. You are setting our on your own, giving up the safety net of a steady employer. You are taking a step to be dependent entirely on yourself and no one else. It is liberating and terrifying, all at once.
Freelancing is a skill that takes some honing. While someone who has a knack for networking will find it easier than others, there are still challenges that you just have to work through. Much of it, in fact, is a matter of learning the hard way, and we all have our horror stories.
Of course, the risks and difficulties become more pronounced when working with people from countries other than our own. All communication is done via email or instant messenger, though some might occasionally ask for Skype. There is no real legal recourse when things go wrong. All in all, you have to rely on clients’ integrity, and they face the same problem with having to count on yours.
But despite that, the risk usually pays off. Working with a client from another country – or even continent – can be a rewarding and positive experience that you won’t want to miss. To make things a little less choppy, try following these guidelines for working with international prospects. [Read more…]
While you’re doing it, you’re focused, zoned in and intense. Every distraction is met with deep disappointment – the phone, the kids, the dog standing there watching you do it. When you’re not doing it it’s all you can think about leaving you distracted. “It” is writing, but the passion in which we pursue, fantasize about and devour it makes it a lot like sex. That’s another big reason why it’s fun.
There’s nothing like the heat of new blog post, new assignment or new magazine. The magazine represents an opportunity. The blog post or assignment represents a conquest. You’ve gotten in the door, now you want to hang a while so you make yourself useful. You caress every part of the piece lingering on the lede (foreplay), delving into and thoroughly exploring the depths of the piece’s body and bringing the whole thing to a fully satisfying conclusion. You send it off knowing you’ve done your best, you’re a bit cocky, but still attentive to the post comments or editor’s response.
While writing has many of the upsides of sex, it also has many of the downsides – boredom, familiarity. Eddie Murphy had a bit during a stand-up performance about dating and sex. He basically said when you’re waiting for the right moment you’re like a person who is starving and when it finally happens it’s like giving a starving person a cracker. It’s the best cracker they’ve ever had, however after a while it’s really just the same old crackers.*
Have you been around the writing block a few times? Are you simply going through the motions with an occasional comment response? You have discovered that wonderful opportunity is still the same old crackers – it’s still work. The danger of the rut is you could lose the relationship, so…
- Revisit the past. Pull out your clips and re-read your work.
- Ask for what you want. Go to your editor or your audience and ask them about their interests, what new areas are they interested in exploring.
- Bring in another love. Open relationships are helpful in writing, it keeps things fresh. Explore other interests and bring back a fresh outlook on your main love.
- Take a class. If you have a particular niche, learn more about it, read an alternative point of view, try handcuffs…wait. Oops.
- Take a break. Sometimes even the most storied relationships falter. Moving out, getting some air and seeing what the world has to offer will go a long way in helping you decide if it’s time to move on or if what you have is worth reinvesting.
Writing is a passion. It can be red-hot and all consuming. Just be mindful – passions wane; everyday life, billing and other interests can sometimes get in the way. Refocus on the fire that kept you typing through all hours of the night.
How do you keep your passion for writing alive?
*The Eddie Murphy clip was a little too raw for me to post here so if you’d like to have the link shoot me an email at [email protected] It’s funny stuff or Google it.
So, you want to write web content for more than one-third of a penny per word. Or you’re doing the Demand Studios thing and would like to branch out. Maybe you write for some of the other content mills and think it‘s time to cut out the middle man/woman. Maybe you’ve been working the bid boards and are tired of giving them a cut. Maybe you haven’t received so much as a “thank you” for anything you’ve written, but you’re ready to get things rolling and you want to deal with real-life clients who’ll toss work your way on a regular basis.
You’re not alone. I know that because I get emails asking, “How in the hell can I get decent clients?” on a regular basis. I know that because I see folks quizzing discussion board participants with variations of the same question. [Read more…]
I was fortunate enough to have international best selling author and personal branding expert, Dan Schawbel, write the forward for my book that’s coming out next month, 30-Minute Social Media Marketing. The second edition of Dan’s incredibly popular book, Me 2.0, comes out this week. You can read his bio at the end of this post which demonstrates just how well Dan knows what he’s talking about!
I spent a few minutes with him discussing how freelance writers can build their own personal brands in order to build their businesses. Dan’s insightful answers to my questions are included below. Be sure to read the Building Your Freelance Writing Brand series here on Freelance Writing Jobs for more information about how you can start developing your own brand to boost your writing business.
Susan Gunelius: How can freelance writers benefit from personal branding? What can they learn in your book that can help them get started?
Dan Schawbel: Over 30% of the US population is freelancers, and in my opinion, everyone should have a freelancer’s mentality. You should always be looking for work and new opportunities, even if you have a full-time job.
Being a freelancer makes it easy and critical to build a personal brand. Freelancers can benefit from personal branding because they need to differentiate themselves, be found online through searches, and build portfolios to display their work. A freelance web designer will be judged based off of the website they create for themselves, and writers will be judged based on online clips from published sources. Me 2.0 helps freelancers discover, create, communicate, and maintain their brand over the course of their lives. It’s imperative to take advantage of your brand now, so that you can attract the right opportunities.
Susan Gunelius: What is your response to someone who says they don’t need a website or an online presence for their freelance writing business?
Dan Schawbel: I would probably look at them like they were crazy, to be honest. It’s hard to imagine a freelancer that doesn’t have a web presence. For freelancers, I recommend that you have your own website (yourfullname.com), as well as your full name as a vanity URL on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It’s also important to have your full name as an email address ([email protected] is what I recommend). If you don’t have an online presence, you won’t be found which is a major competitive disadvantage. I haven’t made one sales pitch in three years. I get new clients and opportunities based on being found, and it works.
Susan Gunelius: You’ve achieved a lot of success at a young age and even have an internationally best selling book to your credit. Could you share some of the story of how you got to this point and specifically share the story of how you got your first book published?
Dan Schawbel: I wrote the entire story on my blog in length, but will summarize it for you! I had eight internships, seven leadership positions, and a consulting company during college. I got each internship by showcasing my “personal branding toolkit,” which was composed of my business card, a website, resume, cover letter, references document, and a CD portfolio of my work. This impressed employers and I considered it to be “marketing myself” back then before I knew the term “personal branding.” Despite all of this hard work, I was afraid to network, so it took me eight months, meeting fifteen people, and getting rejected twice, to get a job at EMC corporation.
I started the Personal Branding Blog on March 14th 2007, and then created a video series, wrote articles for magazines, started the Personal Brand Awards, and launching Personal Branding Magazine on August 1st with an interview between Donald Trump and Guy Kawasaki. Fast Company wrote about my six month journey, and my life changed at rapid speed. I was asked to speak at Google and was recruited internally by a VP to lead the social media efforts in communications at EMC. I had the idea to write Me 2.0, once I flipped the recruitment process over, and was given a job based on my personal brand outside of work. I went through seventy agents, and three publishers, before I received my publishing deal with Kaplan in January of 2008. I started my company in January of this year.
Susan Gunelius: For a freelance writer who does not yet have a website, blog or other branded online destinations, what are the first steps they should take to begin developing their personal brand?
Dan Schawbel: The easiest part is crafting your online presence, and the hardest part is to figure out what you’re passionate about, what your current writing skills are and what you need to improve, as well as your short and long-term goals. Ask yourself “where do I want to go with my career, and in twenty years, what do I want to do”? Then, craft your personal brand and your long-term positioning. It’s not about the job you’re doing now, but where it all leads you in the end. That’s what counts! What’s your mission, your values, and what lasting impact do you want to have on the world?
Susan Gunelius: Many freelance writers are confused about how to brand themselves online — their personal name, a business name, a pseudonym? What do you recommend from a brand-building/business-building standpoint?
Dan Schawbel: If you’re a freelancer, than you are your business, so you have to brand yourself, and not some random corporate name. You don’t have a team, which means if people hire you, they get YOU. I recommend that you use your name everywhere, and connect it to your expertise.
Susan Gunelius: What are your thoughts on writing for websites for free as a marketing effort to build your brand? I’m a strong proponent of it but many freelance writers can’t make the shift in thinking from requiring payment for their writing to using it as a marketing/advertising/publicity tool. Where do you stand on that debate?
Dan Schawbel: That is an extremely good question Susan. As an expert in my field, I look at freelancing as a loss leader and something that is used to just promote my book and other assets. I never set out to make a living off of writing for magazines or sources. For writers who depend on money to survive, you should charge based on your experience, talents, and supply/demand for what you cover. If you need to write a few articles for free to get a brand on your resume, it could be a good idea for you. The only problem is that you’re writing won’t be looked highly upon and it might hurt your chances of getting paid by that brand later.
Susan Gunelius: What’s next for Dan Schawbel?
Dan Schawbel: I’m working on a new book concept right now that I can’t reveal of course. I’m launching the 14th issue of Personal Branding Magazine on November 1st, which I’m very excited about. I’m also speaking at Harvard Business School this month, and receiving an award by the Massachusetts Governor. You won’t see me expand my platform by creating more websites and blogs anytime soon. My goal for the short-term is to build upon what I already have, and create a monetization funnel that can support me and my employees. I see live events as being a huge part of that, especially since that’s where TechCrunch and Mashable make all their money.
Susan Gunelius: Where can Freelance Writing Jobs readers go to learn more about you and your book?
About Dan Schawbel
Dan Schawbel, recognized as a “personal branding guru” by The New York Times, is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, LLC, and the leading authority on personal branding. He is the author of the bestselling career book, Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success (Kaplan, April 2009). Me 2.0 made the Amazon top 100 business book bestsellers list when it came out and was the #1 job hunting book. It also made the New York Times summer reading list for job seekers, was one of three social networking books recommended by Shape Magazine, was the #1 career book of 2009 by The New York Post, and is being translated into Japanese and French.
With over 900,000 results for his name in Google, Fast Company calls Dan a “personal branding force of nature.” If you search for branding experts in Google, Dan ranks #2! BusinessWeek named Dan as one of twenty people entrepreneurs should follow on twitter, alongside Richard Branson and Details Magazine cited him as one of five internet guru’s that can make you rich, alongside Seth Godin. He is the founder of the Personal Branding Blog®, which was the #1 job blog by Careerbuilder in 2008 & 2009, is an AdAge top 30 marketing blog and is syndicated by Reuters, Forbes, Fox Business and other major networks. Dan is also the publisher of Personal Branding Magazine® and the Student Branding Blog, head judge for the Personal Brand Awards®, director of Personal Branding TV®, and holds live Personal Branding Events. As a brand futurist, Dan was one of the first seven bloggers to have their own iPhone application.
In 2007, Dan co-created one of the first social media positions in a Fortune 200 company, EMC Corp. He is a syndicated columnist for Metro US (New York, Boston & Philadelphia), reaching over 1.2 million readers bi-weekly. At 26 years old, Dan is BusinessWeek’s youngest columnist and previously had a column with CBS Interactive’s BNET. He is also a featured contributor to Mashable, LifeHack, and MediaPost and he has written articles for BrandWeek Magazine and Advertising Age.
Dan has interviewed over 270 successful business people and celebrities, such as MC Hammer, Kathy Ireland, Jerry Springer, Perez Hilton, Timbaland, Tim Ferriss, Marcus Buckingham, Tony Hsieh, George Foreman, Ivanka Trump and Tom Peters. He’s been featured in over 150 media outlets, such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, The Washington Post, CBS, ABC News, MSNBC, NPR, USA Today, Forbes, and The Boston Globe. Dan has 8 years of marketing experience, employed at companies such as EMC, Reebok, Lycos, LoJack, and TechTarget.
Dan is a keynote speaker at colleges and universities, such as Harvard and MIT and at major companies such as Time Warner and CitiFinancial. He is exclusively represented by the Big Speak Inc. speakers bureau, who also manages Donald Trump and Lance Armstrong. He helps both individuals and companies with creative branding solutions. Dan lives in Boston, MA and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Bentley University in 2006.
I receive a lot of emails and comments on Freelance Writing Jobs posts asking the same question:
I don’t live in the United States. Can I apply for U.S.-based freelance writing jobs?
Since it’s such a common question, I want to provide an answer publicly. Here goes…
Can you apply? Yes. The hiring manager will determine whether or not they’re willing to work with a writer outside of the United States. You’ll never know if they’re willing to do so if you don’t apply.
When it comes to freelance writing, you’re not an employee. You’ll either be paid as a contractor or a vendor and that means you’ll receive that payment as miscellaneous personal income or as earnings for your business. Tax rules vary from one country to another, so what really matters is how the client is willing to pay you and how they want to report those payments to the Internal Revenue Service.
These days, many clients are happy to pay via PayPal, which offers an automatic currency conversion (which may or may not require you to pay fees depending on how both your account and your client’s accounts are set up). That means they can simply send money to you via PayPal as they would any other vendor and PayPal takes care of the rest. Banking-related issues that used to make it more difficult for clients to pay vendors outside of the United States are not as prevalent anymore thanks to tools like PayPal.
Keep in mind, I’m not an accountant, and this answer is based on my own experiences writing for clients outside of the United States and witnessing clients who pay multiple writers in various countries around the world without any problems. However, the bottom-line answer to this common question is still yes. There is no reason why you can’t apply for freelance writing jobs if you’re not from the United States unless the job description specifically restricts applicants to U.S. citizens.
A final suggestion: it is worth your time and effort however to consult with someone in your country who understands business, income, and tax-related issues so you set your freelance writing business up in the best way from the start.
There have been many would-be-bloggers who’ve thrown up a website with a handful of pages filled with pillar content and leave it at that. Then they move on to the next blog. That kind of blog model can work if you stay within micro niche topics where there is very little competition.
However, if you prefer to build a blog and keep adding content – you will want to consider your options for gathering and creating that content. I’m going to list several ways for you to consider. This isn’t a comprehensive list by any means – and is purely off the top of my head.
Write It Yourself
This is the hardest and most time consuming way to create content – but it is the way that is most rewarding. If you know your topic well, you should be able to write about it with authority and ease. The advantage of writing the article yourself is the article is unique and you control the quality. The disadvantage is it can be time consuming.
If you can’t write yourself or you don’t have the time, you can always hire someone. How you pay them is up to you. Some sites hire full time salary writers while some pay per article. There are many sites that don’t pay at all but the writer gets name notoriety, a place to write without the technical backend concerns and sometimes they get perks and product for their writing. However you do it, make sure there is a contract between you and your writers stating whom the articles belong to should they leave. This can help avoid sticky situations later on.
Recruit Guest Writers
A good source of content can come directly from your readers. Everyone wants their 15 minutes of frame and having an article on their favorite site is one way of doing it. The main problem with reader submitted articles is quality. If you accept guest articles you will want to make sure to specify ownership in your terms of service and in some sort of mutual agreement. It’s not always a good idea to “cross that bridge when you come to it.”
I have been known to trade an article with another writer. We select older posts from each other’s collection. To our readers, the old article is new. The advantage of this option versus using free article services is you won’t likely encounter the issue of duplication penalty. Because the article is older, you can do a little minor tweaking to bring the article up-to-date, but that requires much less work.
Republish Old Articles
Republishing of older articles is a nice and easy way to create new content. Again, you may want to do some minor rewrites to bring the articles up-to-date.
There are tons of blogs that are developed using nothing but RSS feeds. This is the lazy way out and one method I would not personally recommend if you plan to make a valued name for yourself. Using RSS as filler content is not so bad if used minimally – but you certainly won’t want it being your main content.
Private Label Articles
Known as Private Label Rights, PLR articles are a new twist on content building. PLR articles allow users a quick way to get up a content site really quick and cheap. Private label articles are special type of right or license which you purchase where you are legally allowed to edit and publish the article as your own. In some cases you can even include your own name as the author and your own resource box at the end of each article. You can purchase these articles for pennies.
The real issue with PLR is quality. Most of the articles are garbage that will require a great deal of editing. Another problem is duplication, which I mentioned above. You aren’t the only person to use those articles. The more these articles are used, the more diluted they become. If you choose to use PLR, you really should rewrite them considerably to avoid this problem. However, if you’re going to invest that much time in editing, you might as well create your own to begin with.
Free Article Services
As you may have guessed, free articles are an option. However, when using these articles, you will most likely be required to keep the authors credentials in place and won’t be allowed to do any edits. This in essence will create an overused, highly diluted content system.
If you can avoid free articles, I would. NOT recommended at all.
What are some methods you use or recommend when creating content?
I know FWJ has covered a great deal of ground since it began, but for the sake of not missing a step, I’d like to start at the beginning for those who may be new and perhaps bring something new to the table for those who have been around for a while.
As I stated in my initial introduction post, this blog is all about you! If there’s something in particular you’d like us to focus on, please don’t hesitate to drop me an email or leave a suggestion in the comments section.
Thanks to the advancements of social media – most people know what a “blog” is. For the sake of discussion we’ll jump back to the very definition and move forward.
How does that sound?
What is a Blog?
Blog a slang term derived from the words web log. Blogs quickly became one of the most widespread, quick growing, trends on the internet. More and more websites are starting their own blogs or even converting their existing websites to blogs. Blogs are often used to deliver fresh content, promote products, or just about anything you can think of.
Since blogging began, there have been a handful of types that have emerged:
- Personal bloggers – Without doubt, personal blogs are the most popular. The writer posts journal-like entries on a variety of topics. Many cover politics, daily-life, sports, fashion, news events, etc. These blogs have no point really other than being a form of entertainment for the writer. This seems to be a great medium for “Mommy Bloggers” to feel as though they have a social life too!
- Business bloggers – With the explosion of social media, businesses have begun using blogs to promote their products or services. Businesses have learned to use blogs as informational resources that add value for their readers rather than using a blog to post in-your-face advertising. Overtly promotional blogs are of little interest to those reading. Strategic uses of a blog in your business can definitely increase sales and enhance the experience of your customers.
- Organizational bloggers – These bloggers use blogs to communicate with groups of people. Whether the group is a church, school, employees or charitable organization, this can be an excellent way to communicate.
Communication is the key to all human relations and a blog provides an excellent means to do just that. Whether it has to do with the latest news or trends, or just talking about the latest happenings of Hollywood celebrities, a blog is an excellent way to bring communication and information to everyone. And if you can educate and entertain, you’ll likely develop quite a following.
Now you want to know…
Should you blog?
Anyone can blog, but not everyone has what it takes to make it worth your time.
Standard guidelines that may help in determining whether have what it takes to blog:
- You have a strong interest in a particular topic and could easily speak on the topic regularly and with the public.
- You have the time and drive to update your blog regularly. Nobody wants to read a blog that is updated once a month.
- You run a site which promotes your business and desire a means to communicate with your clients.
- You can handle feedback – the good, the bad and the ugly. Rest assured, at some point, someone will disagree with you.
One of the biggest mistakes a blogger can make is not posting enough. This is something I’ve personally struggled with at times. It’s easy to fall in the trap. However, if you begin a blog I highly recommend you don’t begin posting 2 posts a day if you ultimately wish to post once a week. Whatever you begin with, stick to it.
I won’t lie — a truly successful blog takes a lot of work – and by a lot, I can honestly say there were days I’d invest as much as 10 – 12 hours into my blogging.
Enough preaching – just take special care to post well and post often. You want your readers to return, subscribe, and become engaged – posting regularly will help accomplish that.
Freelancing can be a great move to make. It can change your outlook on life, improve your financial situation and give you more freedom. It can also open up opportunities that you didn’t have access to previously, like traveling to new places or maybe a book deal.
But freelancing also can be a bad move, in some circumstances. Many people get desperate and throw themselves into this line of career without thinking and planning. The result? You’re worse off than you were when you started.
So when is the right time to move to freelancing? Is it a good decision for you? Will it be everything you hoped for? Read on.
I see so many people launch themselves as freelance writers and end up disappointed. They disappear from the scene, they become bitter and nasty, or they get stuck in a rut of low wages and crappy work. They just can’t seem to make it.
Three elements help determine whether a writer has a good chance of making a decent living freelancing. The right combination and in good measure creates a recipe for success. What are these three elements? Let’s see…