Sharing the good, the bad, and the stuff that makes you go "Hmm.."


Let’s say you’re one of those writers who has some clients, but not enough to generate a comfortable monthly income. One day you decide to buy a Powerball lottery ticket just for the hell of it, thinking you’ve probably just threw away money that would’ve been better spent on a bag of chips and a soda. Later, you nonchalantly scope out the winning numbers.

In seconds, you’re checking your numbers not once, but several times to make sure you’re not hallucinating. You’ve won! You’re an instant multimillionaire. You never have to type another letter for the rest of your life. You can stay in bed until noon and spend the rest of the day eating Twinkies and watching daytime talk shows–and not have to worry about how your bills will get paid.

Now that you’re among the filthy rich, would writing now become your hobby, or would you still write with the hopes of becoming published and building a client list?

Would writing be put on the back burner while you pursue other interests you never had the time nor the money to invest in?

Would you still write for low-paying content mills just to continue developing your writing skills?

Would you still write for clients with whom you have a good relationship with, but who pays you a lot less than you’d like?

Would you still write for publications who only offer publication and exposure rather than money?

Or would you finally start doing the type of writing that you always wanted to do? Like that novel or screenplay you never had time to write? Or self-publishing and marketing your own newly written book instead of submitting it to one agent after another?

I would enjoy being “in the money” and write fiction. I would enter fiction writing contests and submit short stories to various publishers. I would also invest a good copywriting course. I would still do work for current writing clients, but I would probably be very selective about  potential new clients.

What about you? Would you still write if you won the lottery?

 

 

 

 

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Still a writer…so far


It was a message from a new writer buddy on Linkedin that made me realize I had totally forgotten about this blog for quite some time now. It also made me aware that more people look at this blog–and notice when it’s gone quiet–than I realized. So, what better way to develop a writer’s discipline than keeping one’s blog updated. Easier said than done, trust me, but I know I can do it if I set my mind to it.  Lately, my mind’s been all over the place.

I welcomed in 2013 in tears. I had made the heart-wrenching decision to surrender my car to the finance company. I could no longer afford the the monthly payment and the car also needed several hundred dollars of repairs I sure as heck couldn’t pay for. Struggling to keep it had become mentally and emotionally draining. I had to let it go. Five months later, I got a check for over $700 in the mail. The finance company had sold the car for more than what I still owed on it and sent me the difference, minus a few hundred dollars they kept for “expenses incurred”.

I stepped back my from writing ambitions to explore other homebased and brick-and-mortar career paths. Writing is enjoyable, but unless you write 24/7 or crank out nothing but blockbuster best-selling novels, it doesn’t create a steady income. Having another income stream is a must, unless you thrive on being broke and living on the edge of eviction. I’m currently exploring the possibility of being a virtual assistant or a general transcriptionist, which would utilize my nearly 30 years of administrative/clerical experience.  The virtual assistant avenue seems more feasible, and I think it would be a nice compliment to my writing venture.

My writing gigs since the beginning of the year have mainly come via Writer Access. I am active on five Love Lists. I know it’s not much, but I’m just starting to really get my feet wet with WA.  I like writing for them. I wish they paid weekly rather than monthly, but it’s all good. My weekly blog client and I amicably parted ways earlier this year as well. He decided to go in another direction, and I wish him much success in his endeavors.

On a personal note,  I mourned the sudden and unexpected passing of my aunt. I also got serious about adapting the healthier lifestyle that I love to write so much about and starting watching my diet and exercising. I’ve dropped nearly 20 lbs so far and still have LOT more to go. I feel better already.

‘Til next time, stay strong, stay positive and keep the faith!

A Small Triumph Over Doubt


You need a real thick skin to succeed as a writer. Deflecting the sting of one rejection after another isn’t easy. It’s hard not to compare my successes with those of other writers. It’s hard not to wonder if I’m deluding myself, thinking I could actually earn a living writing. It’s easy to come up with reasons why I’m not cut out for the writer life, but I just can’t let it go.

Even if I stop for a while, I always come back and try again. Being a writer is like being in a toxic, off-and-on relationship with a boyfriend (or girlfriend)  who makes you feel real good for a while, then breaks your heart–and the cycle continues over and over. I can dump a jerk boyfriend, but writing is a part of who I am. I can’t cut it loose and not feel incomplete. Besides, it’s the one thing  I know I’m good at, without a doubt. Yet doubt and lack of confidence overwhelms me more than I care to admit when it comes to writing.  Doubt almost cost me a stream of writing income that I really can use right now.

I mentioned in my last post that I was trying to get in with Writer Access. I was actually already signed up with them, but last year they requested all writers to complete a writer profile. We were given a timeframe to complete our profiles, and if they weren’t completed in that timeframe, our accounts would go on inactive.  Needless to say, I never got around to completing my profile.

A former client and writer friend reached out to me a little over a week ago and convinced me to give Writer Access another shot. I logged in and completed my profile. Two days later I got an email stating that my profile was rejected. According to the email, my experience and industry summaries were too vague. They wanted facts and details to support my “claims” and asked me to revise my profile. Well, I did write all the articles and projects I stated, but nearly all of what I’ve written were on topics in which I had no formal experience. I thought to myself, “If they’re looking for experience, I’m screwed. I don’t know if I’m even going to bother revising.”

Three days later, I pondered whether I should bother revising my profile. I decided to go for it.  If it still wasn’t good enough, then I would accept that it wasn’t meant to be and move on.  As I edited it a second time, I realized that it was too vague. I merely stated that I wrote for articles or web content for clients. I provided no information about the clients, type of articles, intended audience, or research (if any). Furthermore, my profile contain no information about me, i.e., my actual work experience, my hobbies and interests, my goals, etc. Potential clients reading my profile wouldn’t get an inkling of who I was.

Hours after making my revisions, my profile was not only accepted, but was also approved for Writer Access’ Industry Elite status in the Legal category. This will give me exposure to clients with priority orders who are looking for legal writers. Had I allowed doubt to get the better of me, I would’ve missed an opportunity to gain exposure to new clients.

I have to give props and a sincere “Thank you” to my former client and writer friend. You know who you are.

The moral of my story?  If you keep telling yourself that you can’t do it, you never will–and you’ll never know how much you can accomplish.  For me, today it’s Writer Access, Writer’s Domain and Textbroker. Tomorrow, it could be a new blog or ebook client. The only way to find out is to just go for it!


My writing life, except for a weekly post that pays enough to pay for my medicines, seems to have come to a standstill. I’m no longer at a fork in the road, I’m at a damn roadblock. These days I semi-exist on ramen noodle lunches and work part-time as answering service operator–a job I wouldn’t wish on my worse enemy. I also search tirelessly for writing opportunities. My search leaves me frustrated, depressed and wondering if I’m going about it all wrong.

I’m signed up with Demand Studios, but they created topic sections and required every writer to reapply to write the same freaking type of articles they wrote for months.  My application was rejected, and there are never any titles when I log in these days. I could earn a nice chunk of change writing Textbroker articles if I could crank out 3-4 articles per hour. I can, but the writing would suck. I updated my profile at Writer Access and am waiting to see if passes muster. Hopefully it will.

I realize I need to be more proactive and start pursuing writing opportunities I’ve yet to tackle. I need to ignore my inner voice that keeps telling me I don’t have the education or experience for to write this ebook, white paper, press release or other type of writing project. Lord knows that as a secretary I did many administrative projects which required learning a new skill or discipline. Why should my approach to writing to be any different?

I want to write press releases. I would LOVE to edit someone’s ebook. I think writing white papers would be a good niche for me. Heck, I’d even take on writing an ebook–maybe my own once I figure out what I would like to share with the world. I need to just go for the  jobs I want, instead of hoping they pop up on job boards. Maybe I should re-enter the world of fiction writing, an aspiration I had years ago before life got in the way.

And I need to stop treating my blog like that friend you only see once every few months. I almost forgot I had one.  Yep, I’ve been that much out of my groove. Time to slowly back into it, one word at a time.

 

At a Crossroads


Lately I’ve weathered more than my share of “How-the-Hell-Did-I-End-Up-Here” days where I’m wracking my brains trying to figure out where I fucked up and when, then dwelling on stuff I wish I had done differently. The should’ves, could’ves, and would’ves have been proverbial thorns in my ass like you wouldn’t believe. I haven’t even thought about this blog in a long while because I’ve been busy struggling to survive–and eat well while doing it. I’m sure all my writer peeps can feel me.

I recently took a part-time job working at home as an operator for a medical answering service. It’s stressful, but what job isn’t? I’d love to write around my work schedule, but it takes time to get clients who pay a few hundred per assignment instead of a few dollars. I will have to get another part-time job, most likely outside of the home. I’ve made peace with the likelihood that I may lose my car soon. It’s heartbreaking, but on the bright side, it’s one less bill I’ll have to worry about. I’ll have more money to pay off my credit card debts, and perhaps I can start saving money again. I can always get another car when my finances improve.

I’ve come to a fork-in-the-road on my writing journey, and I’m not sure how writing fits into my life anymore. I suppose I should be grateful I stumbled onto content writing as a way to earn some income, but I wish I never jumped onto the Demand Studios, Textbroker, Break Studios and Bright Hub bandwagon. I wish I never bought into the mentality–at least for a short while–that writing for a few dollars per article could be profitable if I could “crank out” three or four of them in a hour. I wish I hadn’t been foolish enough to try it and then feel like a failure when I couldn’t.

I wish I’d just gone out and gotten a part- or full-time B&M job and used my free time to study up on writing good query letters and approach clients who don’t post on work-at-home sites or sites like Elance or Odesk. I would’ve enjoyed writing without worrying about writing enough to pay the bills or hoping and praying that a client will pay as promised. Don’t even get me started on the latter. I’ll just say that if you’re reading this and you drag your feet when paying your writers or don’t pay them at all, you truly deserve nothing less than the best that Hell has to offer.

Writing solely to pay the bills sucked my creativity and drained my passion for writing. It’s time to step away and regroup. Working two part-time jobs will leave me less time for writing, but the time I spend writing will be enjoyable again–as writing should be.

 


I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to put this year behind me and move forward with a new focus and new goals. I’m looking forward to watching New Year’s Rockin’ Eve (not quite the same without Dick Clark hosting it), watching the ball drop and bidding a fond farewell to 2011. I do wish, though, that I could rewind back to January 1st so I would get another chance to do some things differently.

My time would’ve have been better spent. I would’ve procrastinated less and been more organized. I would’ve worked smarter, not harder.

I wouldn’t wasted my time on low-paying writing gigs. That time would’ve been spent setting up my website, keeping my blog current and marketing myself to prospective clients who pay professional writing rates. I would’ve lined up a part-time job outside the house to pay the bills, allowing me to be more selective when pursuing writing projects.

My private clients would have been required to sign a contract before I did any work, and I would have insisted on upfront payment of at least half the agreed amount. It wouldn’t have mattered if you were a friend or relative. I’ve recently learned this lesson the hard way, and let’s just leave it at that. I’m not ruining my holiday cheer by dwelling on foul people and bullshit.

Fear of failure and lack of confidence wouldn’t have gotten the better of me. I talked myself out of pursuing several opportunities because I didn’t have a four-year degree or wasn’t an “expert” in a certain field. A fellow writer once said that if you gave her 24 hours (to research), she would be an expert. Well, I certainly can research. I hate it, but it’s something I’m good at. And I can always consult with some real “experts” and quote them (with their permission).

Here’s to being fearless in 2012.

In 2012, I will most likely be working part-time (preferably) or full-time outside the home unless I find a nice work-at-home job or a few lucrative writing gigs that don’t require me to crank out 30 articles a week. I need a steady, reliable income so I can pursue my writing dreams and still be able to sleep at night knowing my living expenses are taken care of. I’m actually looking forward to getting out of the house on a daily basis. You know you’ve got a bad case of cabin fever when you bundle up on a cold, snowy day to walk down to the corner store just to get outside for a while.

I want to learn this whole social networking thing and how it can help me get clients. I’m on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Google+.  I don’t know why I even bothered with Google+ since I’m on the other three sites. I’m still trying to decide if I even like Linkedin. I’m not on Twitter that much, and most of my time on Facebook is spent playing games. I need to better utilize my time on these sites.

I want to write press releases and web pages–for the right price, of course. And I still want to break into copywriting. I’d love to work on an eBook.

On a personal note, I’m going to FINALLY get rid of all of this damn clutter in my apartment before I torch it all!

What will YOU do differently in 2012?

What Are You Thankful For?


Hopefully this has been a blessed year for everyone. I hope this Thanksgiving holiday finds you in good health and surrounded by people who love you and have your back. I hope you are blessed to share this holiday with someone special. If not, I hope you decide to make it a joyous occasion simply because you’re still alive to enjoy it.

If you are struggling financially, like yours truly, I hope you won’t let the struggle damper your spirit. Instead, remember all you have to be thankful for. Remember those who are more unfortunate than you, whose struggle is ten times worse, yet they manage to keep the faith and keep on keepin’ on–with a huge smile on their faces. Take a page out of their book. Remember, you ARE blessed.

I’m thankful I learned I was diabetic before I had a stroke, lost my eyesight or slipped into a diabetic coma. I’m thankful I learned I had high blood pressure before I had a heart attack. I’m thankful my Mother is still here, and I pray we will spend many Thanksgivings watching football and eating turkey, stuffing, collard greens and her sweet potato pie (all in small portions, of course). I’m thankful for every day that I see her face and hear her voice and her laughter.

I’m thankful I learned at an early age to be thankful for what you have. As a child, I thought I was the unluckiest kid.  I had an absentee father–more like MIA for the most part. We were on welfare, and I practically lived in hand-me-downs and clothes from the Goodwill and thrift stores. I never got the toys I wanted for Christmas–you know, the “cool toys” that all the kids on the block have. I got the toys my Mom could afford. I grew up eating the “cheapest brand you can find” from the grocery store. I’ve eaten my share of  “government cheese” and spam. That was some damn good cheese, and to this day I hate spam.

I’m thankful I grew up with a sibling with a mental disability. My older brother got Rubella (German measles) when he was two. My Mom wasn’t familiar with the condition, so by the time it was diagnosed it was too late. The disease left him mentally handicapped. It’s not easy growing up with a sibling all the kids laugh at,  make fun of or call a “retard”. I wanted to fight them all..lol! I’m compassionate, almost to a fault, because of my brother. If he’d been normal, I may have been one of those ignorant people who frown on people with physical and mental disabilities and act as if they’re contagious. Growing up with a special-needs sibling taught me to regard people with disabilities no differently than I would able-bodied people.  My brother is my heart. If you ever see me on an episode of “Snapped”, you will know that someone made the grave mistake of messing with my brother. The same goes for anyone who messes with my Mom, but I know my Mama will fight–hard–even at the ripe young age of 69.

I’m truly thankful for content mills. YES, you read that right. They don’t pay high rates, but content mills helped pay some bills over the year. They put food on my table and gas in my car (when it was drivable). They pay on time, and they let you know when the pay’s going to be late and when you can expect it. That’s something you can’t always count on with private clients.  The only thing content mills have in common with private clients that they can be here today and gone tomorrow. Just ask anyone who writes for Demand Studios.

I’m grateful for my private clients. I’ve been blessed to have really nice ones so far, and I hope that my future clients will be just as wonderful to work with. I’m grateful for my writer friends, one of whom hired me as a writer on her team, through which I’ve had the chance to write on subjects I’ve never thought I would write about. I’m blessed to have gotten the chance to know another veteran freelancer who taught me the difference between a fair writing wage and a pitiful one. I’m grateful to have met a copywriter in cyberspace who gave me some tips in breaking into copywriting. I hope to make my big break soon, and I hope this holiday finds him in good health and fortune as well.

I’m thankful for my writer buddies who happily do the low-paying gigs I won’t do, who have taught me not to automatically dismiss a low-paying gig without looking at the whole project. I’ve learned that one project that initially doesn’t pay well could lead to higher-paying opportunities (or contacts who have higher-paying opportunities), while another project could pay really well but both the client and project could make you wish you’d passed on it. Many writers started out with low-paying work. The key is finding out all you can about the project, deciding whether it’s worth your time and effort–even if it pays low, and continue working to move up the pay scale.

What are YOU thankful for this holiday season?

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