Wild Musing

Writing – Diary of a Budding Freelance

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.


Digg!

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.


Digg!

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

Silly Offers For Your Writing-Politely Declining Guru Employers.

I have to admit that I am joining the ranks of the fans of Guru and Elance. I am well aware of their downsides but the bottom line is they facilitate a link between you and employers. What you negotiate from there is up to you. There is no doubt there are employers on there that think they are doing you a favour by offering to let you write and you should gratefully work for under minimum wage but no one makes you work for them. I now have $400 of continuing work a week through these two sites. Granted this is a recent development and I have not been paid but as this week’s money is held in escrow accounts I think I can be fairly confident.

I have one small job writing tiny blogs for a landlord. Another one that requires 3 articles on gaming a week and yet another that is currently a set 5 articles but looks like it shall continue beyond that. In each case I am being paid fairly. Two offered a fair price up front and one had to be given a gentle prod but all in all it is my ideal of fair pay for decent writing.

I think this has been bought about by my deciding and openly stating in my bids that I will not accept less. People still occasionally offer me silly money but I doggedly decline their offers and hold out for something better. It really is the only way. Just today I received a counter offer to my bid to write 60/100 page EBook, the gentleman wanted me to do it for $200! Apparently the hook is there may be more in the future, at that price I could not afford to do any more for him. Anyway, he received one of my thanks but no thanks letters. In each letter I try to set out how long a quality job would take and then put it into pay per hour for them. I am not being patronizing, I really think some of them just don’t realize what they are asking. Unless they actually write themselves this is understandable. I include a mock up of the type of letter I send to politely decline an unrealistic offer.

Sixty pages of well written, researched copy would take at least forty five hours including proof reading and editing. Anyone who tells you different is not intending on giving you quality. This works out at less than five dollars an hour. I usually work at a very low minimum of ten to fifteen and had only gone below that because your project sounded interesting. I literally cannot afford to work for you at that price and must admit my astonishment that anyone can. They must have much lower house payments than me.

So I politely decline your offer.

I recognize that we all do what we need to do and I wish you all the best.

I will admit to a small sense of satisfaction when I press the send button.


Digg!

January 14, 2009 Posted by | Elance, Gaming, Guru | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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.


Digg!

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

Seriously Bad SEO Writing- Funny Examples Competition

My post yesterday got me to thinking about all the examples of truly bad SEO writing I have seen in my time. Some of it is really very amusing. Either because the writer has completely lost control of what they are writing (overuse of thesaurus or just lack of grasp of the language.) Or, just occasionally, because you can see the bored to tears SEO writer behind the copy deciding to have a laugh.

There have always been examples of bad writing my personal favorite example currently is an opening paragraph that was recognized as one of the worst of 2006.

Her angry accusations burned Clyde like that first bite of a double cheese pizza, when the toppings slide off and sear that small elevation of the oral mucosa, just behind the front teeth, known as the incisive papilla, which is linked to the discriminatory function of the taste buds except, where Clyde was concerned, when it came to women.

I had to find a way to include that because it really mad me laugh. If you interested in some other creative writing train wrecks check this out http://www.ieplexusblog.com/featured/90-great-design-wont-mask-bad-writing/

Back on my original topic though, once I started to actually look for funny, bad SEO examples I found it quite time consuming and being so impatient I decided to kick off with the first two I came across.

Firstly, in the category of: Is There Actually Any Meaning Left In That Sentence?

Because the desire for a bigger penis is both a carelessness and a beginning of care for many men, the penis enhancement ‘store’ has flourished.

What? I apologize for using such an obvious topic but I just had a feeling it might throw up some examples.

Secondly, and my personal favorite category That Writer Is Having A Laugh: I Wonder If Anyone Will Notice.

(Before you read this you need to know the title of the article was The Three Products Most Likely To Be Top Sellers for Your Internet Business)

Hair loss products. No man likes to lose his hair, forget the old adage that baldness is a sign of virility. That phrase was coined by a bald man. The desperation men feel at losing their hair resulted in the invention of the comb over. If men were willing to believe that looked better than going bald then they will buy just about anything.

Classic. The, your customers are dumb and desperate sales pitch.

My idea is this. Let’s find the best examples of truly bad SEO writing and post them here. It will be good for a laugh if nothing else. If I start getting in some replies I will write up the best ones once a month or so and create a new page for them.

I may not get enough traffic for this kind of idea but if not I will continue to post any funny examples I come across.

Please be aware that I am not having a go at underpaid and over worked SEO writers, I feel their pain, just at the system as it currently is.


Digg!

January 6, 2009 Posted by | Diggit, Elance, Gaming, Guru, SEO writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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.


Digg!

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.


Digg!

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.


Digg!

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

Moral Issues in Freelance Writing- Can We Afford to Care?

Yesterday I was pretty dismissive of a minor moral dilemma I had encountered in my day’s work. I still largely stand by what I said, there is nothing inherently wrong with writing articles to draw people to your client’s website. Clearly this is a legitimate form of advertising and just because it is a fairly recent development does not make it unethical. I did toy with the idea that having writers who know nothing about a product, sell it, may be deceitful but really, since when have advertisers known the ins and outs of their products? Over all I think we are on pretty solid ground morally when we accept this type of writing, so long as you undertake to research as best you can and do a thoroughly professional job I think you can sleep easy in your bed (I dare say that is a huge weight off your mind, worrying about my opinion on the matter has no doubt kept you up nights)

But what if as you are writing you start to get a small but persistent, sneaking feeling that the whole thing may be a big con? What if you fear, on a fairly educated guess, that the product you are selling is designed, largely to do people out of their cash without much gain for them? Do you stop? Can you afford the loss of income and inevitable negative feedback?

Again, I am not sure I can afford to care at the moment but if it is any consolation I would feel bad about it and I will care as soon as I have enough money to feed myself. Anyway, I may be wrong, maybe the product is making everyone rich. How does everyone else feel about this?

December 30, 2008 Posted by | Elance, Guru, Writing | , , , , , | Leave a comment