Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Challenge Update

Here's a photo of colorful and bright daiquiris. The weather is just so dreary here, I needed something bright, colorful and alcoholic to get me going today :) No, I haven't had a drink yet, but will have a little drink later this evening to kick off this challenge. Cheers! to everyone joining in, following along and doing their own challenges!

Yesterday was a $74.00 day. So, I basically cut down what I need to make for the remainder of the week to $801.00. Yesterday was a typical Monday with lots of school and my typical Monday scheduling and behind the scenes work. I would have liked to knock out $125.00 though and have no one to blame, but myself. I was watching the NBA playoffs while working and got a bit caught up in the games.

Also, today, I am just now getting started with work at 6:32pm Eastern. This is actually a good thing because it allows me to show you that while I could just call it a day and do no work, I won't. I am going to put in the hours and knock out at least three BrightHub articles for a total of $30.00 bucks, my Yahoo Medical News article for $15.00, I have two more Yahoo Sports articles on deadline totaling $21.00, I want to get two Daily Glow articles in for a total of $20.00 and want to get my first Gather Politics written and submitted. I also have some research done for a Livestrong article so since the hard part it done, I might as well knock that out too. That would be $20.00. That would bring my grand total to $106.00. That puts me $20.00 behind where I want to be for the day, so I will either knock out another Livestrong article or do another two Daily Glow. I should do the other two Daily Glow articles because I have a monthly quota with them and planned to do three a day for the remainder of the month.

At this time, I am not including Gather in my totals because I will not know how much Gather will bring in until a day or two after the articles publish. Once I get rolling with them (I was literally just accepted) I will be able to better judge and figure in my income from them.

As long as I stay focused, I should be able to knock out this work quite quickly. Due to getting a bit behind the last two days, I will carry my week into Saturday. That is fine because I am used to not taking days off anyway. For this challenge my goal was working 5 days a week, but as we know, when building a career, you have to expect to work weekends, evenings and holidays here and there. I still do fully intend to take off Sunday and just work on my blogs and school on that day. We shall see though! I forgot how hard it was being a freelance writer and not using private clients. It really can be a lot more work due to the less pay per article with mills and farms. While I am already missing my private clients, I will absolutely keep going with this challenge because this is how I started so I know it can be done. It is like going home after not being there for a while. There is a comfort to it. The change of pace is quite nice though. The less strict guidelines and less "depth" (not exactly the word I am looking for) are really nice. I guess I just feel a bit more free because with mills and farms I am able to choose my own topics for the most part and can write for the layman. None of that technical stuff. It is quite nice.

So that is the gist of the update for now. If I don't get to writing, I will be up all night. Be looking for another one in the next 48 hours. I will probably stop by with other random posts with tips and advice as well in between challenge updates. And, remember, if you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment and I will address it. Happy Writing!

Photo Credits: Jill Chen

Sunday, April 24, 2011

See it Through

See it Through. When you have a deadline, see it through and see it through on time. If something like an emergency happens, notify your client immediately so they know you will be a day or two late. Not meeting deadlines will kill a freelance career faster than Charlie Sheen can kill a bottle of whiskey.

Image Credits: Photodisc


Research. Research is a critical part of writing. While there are topics most of us can write off of the top of our heads, it is still the responsible thing to do to quickly research and check our facts. Also, when researching, use credible resources only. Do not use Wikipedia. It is user-submitted. Use universities, hospitals, government sites certified professionals, etc.

Image Credits: James Baigrie


Quiet. You are unlikely to get it when working from home. Even if you live alone, you probably have neighbors that may be loud from time to time. It is important to learn to either tune out noise or work in an environment that is not quiet. I used to require an absolutely quiet environment to work. Now, I have the basketball game on in the background, iPod blaring, cats running around, folks outside causing a riot, police sirens blaring and other city noises simultaneously. I have no issues with it at all anymore. Eventually, I was able to train myself to just deal and I no longer need quiet.

Image Credits: Jed Share

Push Through

Push Through. If you have deadlines, you have to push through them. Think of it this way, if you had a brick and mortar job, would you just up and leave every time something in the day didn't go your way or every time you had the sniffles? Of course not! You wouldn't have the job very long. So, buck up and push through. This goes back to my post on discipline. You have to treat freelance writing as a real job if you wish to be successful and you have to push through life's curveballs.

Image Credits: Blend Images


Open-Minded. You have to be open-minded in the freelance writing business. You are going to run into an incredibly diverse crowd of people and opinions, especially with commenters. People will tell you that you are the worst writer to grace the earth just because they disagree with your stance on a topic. Stay open-minded and keep on keeping on.

Image Credits: Brand New Images

No. Do not be afraid to say “no”. I know it is tempting to take on every client that comes your way, especially when you are starting out, but this is not practical. You have to set the price you are willing to work for and stick to it. Do not be afraid to negotiate and if the client wants to be cheap, politely decline and tell them no. Trust me, it is liberating. You, as a writer, are worth something. You have talents that not everyone has. You work hard. Writing is not easy. Get paid what YOU are worth. Stick to your guns and say “no” when the opportunity does not fit you. Trust me, there are thousands of opportunities out there and skipping one because the client is cheap will not hurt you in the slightest bit. It will just give you room for a better and higher paying client.

Photo Credits: ballyscanlon

Make Time to Relax

Make Time to Relax. Yes, I am a total hypocrite for saying this because I work seven days a week and nearly 16 to 20 hours a day. However, I am working towards a more normal schedule. You have to relax a bit and live or else burnout does and will occur and it can land you in the hospital. Back several years ago, I worked myself into the hospital. I was working way too many hours and getting no sleep some days of the week. I would literally get off of work, shower and go back to work. The human body is not meant to handle this type of abuse. So, even if you are just taking an hour a day to watch your favorite show and relax on the couch, it will help you in the long-run.

Photo Credits: Oliver Rossi

Love What You Do

Love What You Do. If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. I truly believe this and wish I could remember who originally said it. When I was a teen, I washed dishes. I hated the job. Just being there was torture and the day just lasted forever. Now, I can write all day and love it. I love to research, write, educate and everything else involved in being a freelance writer. Well, except rejection. But, really, no one likes rejection even though it is part of the process. If you do not love to write and do not love every other part of this writing game, you will just torture yourself everyday, so you have to evaluate and really think about whether this is your true passion.

Photo Credits: Nicholas Rigg

Kick It Into Gear

Kick It Into Gear. In light of my new challenge I thought this was appropriate. I also thought this was appropriate since I am a smidge behind in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. In essence, if your writing career is just not where you want it to be, you have to kick it into gear. Get out there and start hitting the virtual pavement. Collect a few clients you like and start writing. You will not make money and will not succeed if you do not just kick it into gear and get going with it.

Photo Credits: Urs Kuester

Saturday, April 23, 2011

$3,500 a Month Challenge

I always see writers talking about how they just are not making money. How they keep getting distracted or they had a bad day so they didn't write, etc, etc, etc, the list goes on. Let me pose a question. If you were working a brick and mortar, would you call off of work every time you had a bad day? No, you wouldn't. You would be fired if you did. You absolutely have to take the same approach with freelance writing or else you will not make any money. I am not saying this to be harsh and trust me, I have the opposite problem: I never take days off. Never taking a day off isn't exactly healthy either, but that is an issue I will tackle at a later date. My point is, freelance writing is a real job and has to be treated like a real job. We will discuss this more throughout the next five weeks as well.

So, I am going to show you how to be a full-time freelancer. No excuses. If you have the sniffles, get the Kleenex. If you are having a bad day, take that energy and turn it into productivity. If you want to be a full-time freelancer you have to treat it like a full-time job. Taking off willy nilly is not helping you at all.

Why $3,500 you ask? Well, it is $875 a week. $875 is an amount of money that is achievable and it is an amount that the majority of people could live off of. Now, for the next 5 weeks (rest of April and all of May) I am only going to write online content. No hospital work, no pharma work, no fancy stuff. I am going to make sure this is fair. Online content only. To make it even more fair and more in tune to really new writers, I will concentrate my efforts on content mills and farms. I will not even include my private client work in the $3,500 total. Basically, I will be farming it to show you that a no excuses, hard-working writer can make a living do this.

Now, for the last week of April, we will just look at making $875 of course. Then, for the month of May, we will focus on making the full $3,500. This is based on the online content terms. No medical trials, pharma, etc. I will take PayPal screenshots and all that so you will see where the money is coming from.

I am also a full-time student so I will talk about the challenges this presents. I will provide tips to shorten research and writing time, tons of links to cool resources, helpful tips and advice for you, info on the clients I am writing for during the challenge, etc. By the end of May, you should be able to mimic exactly what I did and succeed at it.

Main sites I will be concentrating on for this challenge include: Yahoo and YCN, Demand Studios (both Livestrong and Ehow to keep it fair because not everyone has Livestrong permissions), BrightHub, Daily Glow, Gather, Examiner (yes, I decided to give it another go), TextBroker, Content Current, Writer Access and I believe that is it. I will also be applying for new gigs throughout this time and will be reporting to you on this because all freelance writers should also be always applying for new gigs.

I will be reporting in several days a week letting you all know about my income, energy levels, who I have been writing for, gigs I've applied for, tips and advice, etc, etc, etc. You will basically be living vicariously through me for the next 5 weeks. I highly suggest you either follow my blog or bookmark it so you can find it easily.

Shortly, I will be providing you with my writing arsenal. Some sites I use religiously to ensure I am on point and on my game that provide tips and points that are critical for online writers.

I hope this helps some folks. I know I preach often about how you CAN be successful as a freelancer. Well, now I want to show you how it is done. Also, if you have questions or comments, drop a comment. I am happy to address them.

Photo Credits: Jorg Greuel

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Jokes. Jokes and jokes often. Do not take yourself too seriously. We have to be professional all day long. When you are chatting with your fellow writers on Facebook or other social platforms, let your hair down. It is important to take several breathers throughout the day, tell a few jokes, laugh a little and live a little. Of course, do not get too sidetracked because you have to get those deadlines done, but definitely take out a little time to play throughout the day. Just 10 minutes here and there will keep you sane and focused.

Photo Credits: Tyler Edwards


Initiative. Take it and take it daily. This goes back to the post I did on discipline. As freelancers we have no boss, time clock or anyone keeping us on track. We are responsible for keeping ourselves on track. We have to take initiative on a daily basis or else we will not get anything done. It is easy to get swallowed up in this business. It is easy to get lazy and behind on deadlines. Get yourself a schedule and take initiative in sticking to it.

Photo Credits: Thomas Northcut

Have a Good Cry

Have a good cry. Yes, I said it. Cry, scream, vent, yell, do it all. Rejections happen. We get rewrites and edits we do not agree with. Things do not go our way. If we are just passive and do not deal with the emotions that come along with these, we will become narcissistic and insane. So, get it out. Find a few writer friends who care and understand what it is like to be a writer. Seek support and understand and be sure to support them as well. You will all feel better and it will aid in your success.

Photo Credits: Brand New Images

Go For It!

Go for it! Your career will not just happen. If you want a client, you have to approach said client. If you want to break into a certain niche, you need to take initiative and do the research, get the education and/or experience and break into the niche. The beauty of freelance writing is we truly do dictate whether we succeed or fail. You literally hold the key to success in your hand.

Photo Credits: moodboard

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Flexibility. As a freelance writer, we often have to be flexible. Deadlines may change, we may get a last minute edit or a last minute project. We have to be able to rearrange our schedule and get it all done. To do this, we have to be flexible. If you are not already flexible, don't worry because this can be learned over time.

Photo Credits: Jupiterimages

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Exhaustion is something so many writers face. We are smacked with deadlines and everything else we have to do in life.

I see a lot of folks mentioning exhaustion. I can relate! As someone who has had one day off in 3.5 years (for a hysterectomy) and as a nurse, I want to share a few tips with you to help you try to feel as "un-exhausted" as possible. First, drink plenty of water. Sounds simple right? It is and it does help.

Second, load up on the B vitamins and vitamin C. All are water soluble so no chance of toxicity. Getting plenty of these vitamins will combat fatigue and strengthen your immune system to fend off illness. Also get a good multivitamin and talk to your doctor about how many days a week you need to take it. Many people do not need to take them 7 days a week anymore according to the new RDA guidelines. Women can usually benefit from vitamin D and calcium as well.

Third, get some exercise. Even just 20 minutes three days a week is good if this is all you have time for. Do more when you can, but just this 60 minutes a week, broken up every other day will help you beat fatigue. Simple things like 20 minute walks or playing some freeze tag with the kids is plenty.

Fourth, when you wake up in the morning, take 10 minutes to thoroughly streeeeeeeettttch. This will help to wake you up and help to knock out that grogginess we often feel. It also gets our blood flowing and brain working.

Fifth, eat as healthy as you can. High fat, high sugar foods weigh us down and make us tired. Nutritious foods give us energy to burn. A good cheap snack I love that gives me an energy boost an satiates is an apple with a little peanut butter.

Sixth. Get some sun. Now that the weather is getting nice. Well, not yet in Cleveland lol, but elsewhere. Nice weather naturally puts us in a better mood. Work outside if you can or next to an open window.

Seventh. Take an hour nap. I know many of us do not have an hour to spare, but if you do, use it for an hour nap. Just one hour can recharge you.

If you are like me and unable to sleep 7 to 9 hours a night, try to regulate your sleep cycles so that you can increase the quality of your sleep. For example, go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Your body will get used to this and your sleep quality will improve and you will feel a little better.

Hope these help. Love and hugs.

Your fellow exhaustee!

Photo Credits: Eastnine Inc.


Discipline. As freelance writers we write from home. We do have deadlines, but no boss or time clocks or set hours. It can be difficult to get going and stay going. We have to discipline ourselves to be successful and get our work done and deadlines met.

Photo Credits: John Slater

Monday, April 4, 2011


Craziness. All writers are crazy to some degree. Sanity stifles creativity and you cannot possibly be sane and work the hours we work and deal with what we deal with on a daily basis. Crazy is not necessarily a bad thing though. It is not the type of crazy that would have us committed, but the type of crazy that keeps us free-spirited enough to love what we do and to allow us to be creative enough to be really good at it.

Photo Credit: Yuri Arcurs

Believe in Yourself

Believe in yourself. Recently, many of us YCN writers had our confidence smacked with FC rejections. Yes, rejection is a part of the writing business, but that does not make it sting any less. However, a rejection does not mean you are a bad writer. You have to believe in yourself. Your have to believe in your talent and your writing. As we enter a new week and a new month, it is time to believe in ourselves and start anew.

Photo Credit: ULTRA.F


Authoritative. When you are writing, it is important to write in an authoritative manner. You want your readers to know that your information is factually accurate and trustworthy. Be direct and to the point. Eliminate fluff and just tell them what they need to know. To sum it up, get it right and get to the point.

Photo Credit: Brand X Pictures