Wild Musing

Writing – Diary of a Budding Freelance

The Confident Elance or Guru Pitch.

I was looking back over some of the templates I had created for these sites at the very beginning of all this and I was struck by how much they differed from the ones I send out now. In the early ones I was pathetic, I sounded like they would be doing me a favour throwing any ill paid rubbish my way. Here is an example

Thank you for the opportunity to submit my proposal for your project. Enclosed please find all information relative to my skills and experience.

I believe I could do an outstanding job of this project. I consider myself to be a very persuasive person who has an exceptional way with words. In my previous career as an English teacher I was often required to mock up advertising campaigns with a strong element of persuasion. Not to mention motivating the kids to complete the project which is perhaps the biggest challenge of all.

I gave up my teaching job to concentrate on my writing very recently, as a result I am eager and determined to produce a fantastic piece of work to satisfy your requirements.

Give me a go: you won’t regret it.

Please contact me on michellejbuss@googlemail.com to further discuss pricing and project details.

Regards Michelle Buss

How awful. And it elicited very few responses except the odd ” Do these really well for $1 each and I might have some more work for you” kind.

The type of proposal i send out now is much more confident. I know I can do the job well and expect fair pay for it. The bonus is that this is actually more professional and attracts a better quality of employer. If you come across as under confident you frighten the employer. Most of them are there because they don’t know how to do the job themselves, they are hardly likely to hire someone who comes across as if they haven’t got a clue either. Who can blame them? My bids now are more likely to sound something like this.

I was drawn to your advert because it sounds like you want quality articles, it seems to me a lot of employers are not the slightest bit interested in quality. It also sounds like a lot of fun and I gave up a fifteen year teaching career to write because I enjoy it so that is very important to me.

I write articles for an Australian gaming magazine. They are a journalistic endeavor as I decide each month what topics are hot in the industry and do the research and interviews to put the article together. They pay very well but there is not enough of this work to earn a full time living.

As I have great difficulty turning out rubbish low fee articles take me far too long to be worth the effort. Your project sounds just right for me. A chance to reflect the true quality of my writing for fair pay would be very much appreciated.

It is hard to give you a truly reflective price as you do not mention how much writing would be involved. I would be happy to discuss this with you.

Please visit my website at

https://michellejbuss.wordpress.com/

This will give you a feel for my style and writing ability. I have also attached an article I had published in a gaming magazine. I can provide the contact details of the editor who will be more than happy to provide me with a reference.

I look forward to working with you on this.

That is slightly generic and clearly i respond to each project on an individual level so I would add the following;

– A few sentences on why I am the best person for their particular brief.
– If possible a pertinent question to show my understanding of the type of project they are asking for.

This has worked loads better and jobs do come to me quite regularly. An up date of my profile to include my new improved writing ethos has also started bring employers to me. So, at the risk of repeating myself my number one tip is to be confident, it is vital.

On another note if you found your way here looking for a view on these sites from a web designers point of view the following site is worth a visit
http://rubiqube.com/elance-tips-top-5-projects-you-should-run-away-from/


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January 21, 2009 Posted by | Elance, Getting published, Guru, Writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Freelance Writing Ethos.

When I first started this caper I used to look at all the profiles of writers who knew exactly what they could bring to a project with envy. People were chucking around terms like value added and I really did not have a clue. I certainly had nothing approaching an ethos or a mission statement but as I have gone through the process I think I have started to develop one. I am quite sure that it is not fully formed yet but if I was pushed for an ethos now I think it would go something like this

I produce quality products. I do not copy sections from the internet or re word other people’s articles . Inserting a bit of spark and personality is my specialty.I love to write and anything I produce will reflect my genuine love of language.

I strongly believe that top notch writing can add value to a website or product and help increase profit. I also believe that poor writing can harm the image an employer is trying to create and therefore cost them money. That is why I will strive to give them a product that is of exceptional quality every time.

I don’t think I came into this expecting to have to convince people of the power of words. I suppose as a former English teacher I should know better than anyone that not everyone appreciates how important language is. But somehow I expected that if someone was hiring a person to write for them then they would understand this truth. Some people seem to think that any words will do. The way these people totally underestimate the power of language still astonishes me.

This freelance writing thing has really focused me on the pleasure of earning a living from something you are passionate about and so far I declare this career change a success.


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January 20, 2009 Posted by | Elance, Gaming, Getting published, Guru, Uncategorized, Writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Small Victory For Me- Writing For Guru And Elance

It looks like there really might be something in this holding out for decent money and delivering quality. Yesterday I got this letter from someone I wrote for on Elance

Dear Michelle,

If it was possible, I would give you an eLance standing ovation. The article was exactly what I wanted. I decided to skim over the article late last night and all of a sudden my already exhausted eyes perked up and by the end of the article I was watching the trailer for World of Goo and looking where to play the demo. The only thing I need you to include is just your name at the end of the articles so my readers will know who to thank for such engaging articles. Keep up the excellent work.

If you think I am showing off, you may be right. It is just that I am a little proud of myself and my two Staffordshire Bull Terriers don’t seem to care. By the way I highly recommend the Indie game World Of Goo. A fabulous achievement by the little guys. Huge budget of $10 000 and second on the amazon best seller list at Christmas. Imagine the envy of the tens of millions of dollars game developers.

Anyway, getting back on track. Remember the people I politely declined for offering me a silly small amount of money for my writing (if not you need to read this post https://michellejbuss.wordpress.com/2009/01/14/silly-offers-for-your-writing-politely-declining-guru-employers/ Well, I’ll be darned if they did not get back to me this morning accepting my original offer. It just goes to show you sticking up for yourself not only feels good it can win you customers.

Of course my original bid was still pretty low because I need the experience in writing eBooks, and they need the whole sixty pages in a week, eek. I best get started, I will let you know how it goes.


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January 17, 2009 Posted by | Elance, Gaming, Getting published, Guru, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fair Pay For Good Writing- Good News Guru/Elance Update.

Just a short up date on how our two favorite writers for hire sites are treating me. To be honest things are on the up and up. Even though I spent today plugging the virtues of timeshare in Florida, I have some real hope of a job writing some quality stuff for a reasonable rate from an employer on Elance.

It is writing content for a new website that is not interested in SEO; they are interested in a good reader experience. Wow, what a novel idea. How refreshing is this statement?

Firstly, I am not looking for SEO writers who optimize their articles for search engines sometimes at the expense of the quality of their writing. Rather, it is precisely quality writing that I am looking for.

Wonderful. And for once that statement does not seem to be followed by rates that make it obvious they want this quality at the same price everyone else is paying for crap. Like we should be grateful that anyone cares about quality at all and should , in fact, perhaps pay them for letting us write it.

So the idea seems to be that I write a column three times a week in my own area of expertise, about 500-700 words. For the week’s work they will pay $100 USD if they agree to my quote which they seem to be doing. This is obviously not a fortune but it sure beats the tripe out of $10 for 1200 odd original words. now I am still a little sceptical that everything will work out as it seems to be but I am hopeful. If it all goes wrong I shall of course crawl back here with my tail between my legs and tell you all about it. For now though, it seems that holding out for a fair deal and continuing to stress the quality of your work may bring results on these sites. I will be pleased if that is the case.


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January 9, 2009 Posted by | Elance, Getting published, Guru, SEO writing, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SEO Writing- Is There A Way We Can All Make Money?

As I was ploughing my way through my present bread and butter work of SEO writing today, I suddenly had an epiphany. It is actually possible to write SEO quite well. You may mock but it is true. If you have a strong grasp of the English language and a bit of talent with words then SEO’s can sound quite professional and even show some personality and humor. They can flow well and actually make the product sound like it really would be worth checking out. Here is the bad news though. It is impossible to make a 500 word SEO article sound like real quality in half an hour. I do not care what anyone says; highly competent, compelling articles of 500 words take an hour to write and if there is research involved add at least another half an hour. So why is this bad news? Because most SEO employers pay about five dollars USD for an article. So that means SEO writers are on way less than minimum wage. I have got news for you SEO employers, the articles you are getting are not quality.

Now this may not come as a shock to most SEO employers but how about this for a thought; what if the articles you are publishing are actually damaging your sales? I have no proof of this except common sense but hear me out. If I was after a good or a service and googled the name of it to be taken to an extremely poorly written or uninspiring article, I would not click on the link, in fact I would look at the company name and warn myself it was one to keep well away from. I would not be the only one.

None of this may matter if you are selling some dodgy hair replacement or penis enlargement product (though come to think of it if I was the poor guy who had googled those terms I would probably really want an article that inspired some confidence, especially in the case of a penis enlargement) but if your product has some real quality to it you may actually be damaging your product image and therefore losing potential sales.

Even if you believe none of this, even if you think rubbish SEO articles will not hurt your reputation or your image there is still the fact that you are missing out on the opportunity to actually use the articles to really add value to your product or brand. Don’t you think a brilliantly written SEO that really sells the product could actually help you get sales over competitors whose links are attached to rubbish articles? Maybe you don’t, but I do. If you pay more for fabulous SEO’s but it increases your sales exponentially then everyone is a winner. We all make money.

SEO’s have the potential to actually be quality advertising but nobody seems to see that.


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January 6, 2009 Posted by | Elance, Getting published, Guru, SEO writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Will SEO Be The Death Of Freelance Writing?

No, probably not, but it may be the death of me. Only joking, of course. Those of you who have been following my blog will be pleased to hear I am now back on track and being paid for my writing. It is mainly SEO at this stage though and that provides some unique challenges. I am not talking about any moral issues people may have with SEO writing ,I have done those to death, just the practicalities.

I think we would all agree that SEO writing is the bottom rung of the writing ladder and as a result not very well paid. Most of us starting out in freelance writing accept that and perhaps even see it as a way of paying our dues. The difficulty comes when you have some much higher value writing coming in and you have to balance it with your SEO stuff.

I am not ashamed to say I earn about ten quid for a five hundred word SEO article at the moment, I am not ashamed because it is largely what is keeping the wolf from the door and I am grateful for that. The good news is I now also have some ‘real’ writing starting to come in, in fact I have three articles to write this month at the much more pleasant rate of fifty pounds per five hundred words. This is great but it does present me with a bit of a dilemma. SEO employers tend to be very demanding employers (no offense intended). By the nature of their business they need you to be quick and reliable. The good news is they tend to pay quite quickly and that really helps the cash flow situation.

By contrast the magazine editor I am writing for is more relaxed about time and more concerned about quality. This sounds great but most editors also seem to be quite relaxed about when they pay you. A lot won’t pay before publication, and your article can be in a queue.

So this is my problem, to write my magazine article I need to take time out from my SEO writing. The worst thing that will happen is that the SEO employer will see me as unreliable and cease to deal with me (yes, they are a dime a dozen but writers are a penny at this end of the market). Even if that does not happen a couple of days out of SEO writing will seriously slow down my cash flow which, to be fair, has only recently started re flowing.

I think I may have to accept that the temporary poverty is worth it for the improvement in the quality of job I am getting. I will have to try to balance the two types of writing, because far from being the death of my freelance writing career SEO has actually kept me afloat long enough to start reaping some benefits.

I could just cease to sleep.


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January 2, 2009 Posted by | Getting published, Guru, SEO writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social Media – A Beginner’s Thoughts On Twitter and More.

I may have said this before somewhere on here but when I first decided to try my hand at making money from my writing, I thought the ability to write well would be the key. Now don’t get me wrong, despite what some people say the ability to write lively interesting copy is paramount. You can blog and twitter and dig all you like but if your writing is essentially rubbish, I feel strongly that you are doomed. However, social media is the new advertising and you are going to have to get a grip of it. Here are two of the things I do and my thoughts on them.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/home Fabulous. People say I have texting tourette’s because I just send so many. It is the sheer immediacy of them I love. Tweeting ( as us pro’s call it) has the same thrill, only with a much bigger audience and the ever present possibility of that audience growing.

How it works: Expect to be confused when you first look at a twitter conversation window, I was. It soon becomes clear though. Create your profile page and start to tweet. The program will check through your email and msn accounts to see if there is anyone in there that already tweets and then you can choose to follow them, this means when they tweet you will see it. This is how I got my start but if that fails for you there are two other ways to increase your network. When you tweet people can find it through a keyword search of twitter here http://www.ghacks.net/2008/02/04/twitter-real-time-search/ so if you use terms in twitter that appeal to them they will find you. That is a good reason to make sure that at least some of your tweets contain words that link to your main interest or to writing if that is what you are trying to sell. Secondly, I used this tool http://twitter.com/MrTweet to ferret out some people I thought sounded interesting, when I chose to follow them a lot of them followed me back, unless they were twitter super stars with thousands of followers.

Why should I do it?: It creates interest in your blog or website, simple as that. When I complete a new blog entry I tweet the url and within minutes people have visited it. If they find it through a keyword search for writing they may even be people who want to hire me, not happened yet, but I am still fairly new. Plus, it is fun.

Diggit: It is an article sharing place, people submit article that they think may be of interest to other people.

How it works: http://digg.com/ People submit articles by logging in and pasting the url. Or by pressing the diggit button on the bottom of the blogg or article in question ( not worked out how to get one of those yet, more when I do). In reality you submit your own work, which sounded sycophantic to me at first but it really is how it works, chances are no-one is going to do it for you. It is then displayed as an article recently submitted in whatever section you chose for it. People can also find it through a keyword search. If it starts getting votes then it will be displayed in hot posts sections, but don’t get too giddy about this idea because none of mine have ever got a single vote except my own and I don’t think it is because I am crap (you may disagree, feel free).

Why should I do it?: Again, through the keyword search and recent posting board it will lead people to your site, it also show cases your writing which is no bad thing.

There is loads more social media out there and I will let you know what else is good when I get my head around it. It is basically modern advertising, self marketing, I am not sure you can survive without it these days.


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January 1, 2009 Posted by | Diggit, Getting published, Social media, Twitter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Guru Update- Employers Who Don’t Pay For Your Writing

Well I think Karma may have got me. After all my moaning about the quality of the work my first guru employer had asked me to do it now looks likely he won’t pay me. I am not going to get into the whole blame game thing, suffice to say, he was totally in the wrong. I said I could do 4/5 articles a day every day this week except New Year’s Day (for obvious reasons). He sent me three sets of four with a note acknowledging that I would not be able to do them all at once. I polished off the first set yesterday and returned them to him within twelve hours, with a note reminding him that as I would not be working New Year’s Day, one more set was probably the best I would manage before the holiday.

I got up this morning and did two more articles, then sent him an email querying a minor detail in the assignment and received a reply stating that as I could not finish the assignment he had given it to another writer. I am left to assume he mean the whole 12 articles. So what about my first four? Gentle emails prodding him for an answer have had no response, funny that as the longest he took to reply to any queries yesterday was about ten minutes.

So… I think I can kiss goodbye to my articles and my money. Where does this leave me with Guru.com? Not in as negative a frame of mind as you make think. I figure this can happen anytime to someone who provides goods or a service up front. Look at the amount of people who skip out on motel bills or drive away without paying for petrol ( no-one I know,obviously, but you see what I am saying). I will even stick up for this Guru employer slightly, he may actually pay some of his writers. His mindset may be to use the first sign of a problem to his advantage. Or he may be an out and out scammer. It is not really important at this stage.

The question is should I allow it to put me off Guru.com all together? I think not. I have had some quite promising emails from people discussing far more interesting and lucrative projects than this one which is very encouraging. I think I will persevere and see where they lead me.

Though I must admit that another experience like this and even my sunny, Pollyanna style optimism may become slightly tarnished. I will keep you up to date.

December 31, 2008 Posted by | Elance, Getting published, Guru, Uncategorized, Writing | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Guru Update – Is It Writing Prostitution?

Forgive the emotive title, I have just finished my first Guru assigned writing gig. And I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand it is, if everything goes to plan, going to bring in a much needed fast cash injection. On the other the work was very repetitive and not very exciting. The pay per activity was not very exciting either actually, or the topics for that matter. It basically entailed writing four articles on the topic of real estate and then spinning each one twice.

For those of you who have never heard of spinning, as I had not until today, it has nothing to do with Tony Blair’s labour party. It basically means going back and changing enough about your article so that it appears original to whichever site the client submits it to. The idea being to attract potential clients to their sites so they can sell their product. Apparently a 30 percent difference should be enough. You can get spinning software but clients are unhappy with that because it basically goes through the article and replaces random words with one of its equivalents from the thesaurus. I had a friend who used to do this to his high school English essays so I can well imagine the results, hilarious. Anyway, humans are much better at this process than computers (except my friend of course). Score one for us.

The work is not difficult I will say that for it. A tiny bit of knowledge on the subject is enough to generate a couple of articles and you can always research a bit on the web to find out more. But it is boring and not very well paid. If you can do an article and two re writes in an hour it works out at just above minimum wage (for this particular employer).

I did question the ethics of the process for awhile, until I decided that really it was just a modern version of advertising and the debate about the ethics of advertising has been going on around me ,unheeded, for decades. I don’t plan to start taking notice now. As for the ‘rewriting’ issue, I have made a decision, I will never re write another writer’s work, that is just wrong. But so long as the work I am re writing is my own I figure I am the only one getting ripped off and I can live with that.

On the bright side while this type of work is common on Guru it is not the only type that is available, there are other better paid and much more exciting projects on there. When you can afford to be choosy it is a very good resource. Just for the record (and for the benefit of Guru employers I point this way) I can’t always afford it. So I will continue to accept project like this and complete them to a high professional standard. Maybe that will reap rewards. Here’s hoping.

December 30, 2008 Posted by | Elance, Getting published, Guru, Writing | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pitching Your Article:Template for a Detailed Pitch

This is a follow up on the article pitching blog from last week. I  needed a bit of help with my first detailed pitch so I thought I would share my formula with new writers in the hope it helps them.I have changed the name of the magazine and the person involved but you can probably see it relates to my horrible interview blogs. Still the reason I was holding the interview was because the pitch succeeded and that is the main thing.

If you do decide on a long, detailed pitch as the way to go for putting forward your idea then it is important that it is still concise but informative at the same time. It is also important that you are familiar with the readership of the magazine and the style. Below is a example of the kind of structure such a pitch could take. It may also be an advantage to include a paragraph from the article.

Successful Woman Interview- Your Magazine

Synopsis

The focus of the article written from the interview will depend on which magazine I am writing for. For your magazine I would propose to concentrate on Ms Taylor as a successful woman who manages to juggle family and hugely busy career with aplomb. As well as her work with children and in the field of child psychology, she also wrote a successful TV which was very well received.

As your magazine is directed at women 25-45, many of whom will have children, I also propose to spend some time on her latest achievement The Internet Used Well- a book she has written on how to assist children to get the best from the internet and video games. I believe this area to be of huge concern to mothers and the report has some good, practical advice on how make sure your children are safe on the internet and how to help them get the best out of video games(it is not all bad news, if used wisely video games can be beneficial for children).

Structure (largely dependent on how much room I am given)

A 2000 word article on Ms Taylor”s life – home and work. Some focus on how she manages to ‘have it all’, kids, successful career and marriage. In this section I would include her reasons for refusing to do anymore of her popular parenting shows and her work with on the successful TV series.

500/1000 words on her book, the way information was gathered and a discussion of its findings and the implications for parents.

I also think a sidebar detailing the more important and relevant recommendations of the book in jargon free language would be of interest to your readers.

Possible Coverlines

Video games- it is not all bad news. Ms Taylor tells us how to keep our kids safe and have fun at the same time.

Your Magazine Reader’s Interest

Ms Taylor is an attractive, successful and intelligent woman firmly in the demographic of your magazine’s readers. She has a brilliant career, a long term marriage to a man who is successful in his own right and two lovely children. For these reasons alone I believe your magazine’s readers would find her story inspiring. Add that to the fact that she has a track record of giving parents sound, practical advice on child rearing and has written a very well received report on an area of concern for parents and I believe she is an ideal subject for your magazine.

December 27, 2008 Posted by | Getting published, Interviewing, Writing | Leave a comment