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


Remember one of my last posts entitled, “I Quit”? Well, last month, I almost did.

I’ve applied for some writing gigs and heard nothing. I’ve scoured writer job forums–the supposedly good ones–until my eyes glazed over. An urgent (or shall I say desperate) need for cash sent me back to writing for a former client and friend at a much lower rate than I would like. It gave me the chance to chat with my writer buddy again, and I did end up getting higher paying work with another client through her, so it’s all good. However…

I’m four months’ behind in rent. Thankfully I have a landlord who “really doesn’t need the money” (must be nice) and he’s been very understanding about my unemployed status. He even gave me the go-ahead to use the rent money on any pressing bills if necessary, but I really want to get caught up before he thinks I’m taking advantage of his kindness.

And then there’s my car. It needs about $800 of front-end work. I also have to pay $900 by the end of this month or I’ll have my own “Operation Repo” situation to deal with (without the dramatics, of course). I should be able to make good on the double car note payment, but it means fixing the car will have to be postponed. I still drive it for short trips, but I pray every mile of the way that it won’t break down. On top of that, the state inspection expired (not that it would pass anyway), so I’m taking a risk every time I drive it.

The stress took a physical toll. I’m an emotional eater, so I stress-ate a bit more than I should’ve. Helping my writer friend/client on a huge project detoured my regular workout regimen. I put back on 11 pounds, and my blood pressure spiked slightly, causing me to have a few light-headed days. That, if anything, was a sign that I needed to start controlling my reactions to stress and stop letting stress control me. I want to get off the meds, not take more of them.

It all made me question if a freelance writing business was really for me, and more specifically, if it was really what I wanted. I seriously considered going back to the brick-and-mortar world fulltime, where I could count on getting a biweekly check. I’d worry a lot less about when I could pay my bills. It would be so much more easier to budget. I could get my car fixed. I could buy some stuff for my apartment. I could rest easier.

Then I remembered I would be going back to having to rise at 6 AM to rush around so I could hit the roads and fight through traffic to get to work by 8 AM. I would be going back to having someone tell me when I could go to lunch, having to let someone know when I was going to the restroom or having to ask for permission to take time off for a doctor’s appointment or vacation. The longer you have time freedom, the harder it is to give up.

I looked into WAH non-writing jobs, like customer service and transcription. I could do the latter because it was part of my former life as a secretary. I’m not sure I want to do the former. My customer service experience consists of dealing with Avon customers, and that’s a lot more enjoyable than dealing with irate customers who want to bitch about their Direct TV bill.  And at less than $10 an hour?  I don’t think so.

The fact is, for the first time in my life I’m trying to earn a living doing something that I truly love to do, and I’m not giving that up without a fight. Life’s too short to spend your entire life doing something you loathe. No one on their deathbed ever wishes they had more time to work on that job that sucked.

November is off to a much better start.  I’m about 6 pounds lighter with a much lighter workload.  I’m still on the prowl for higher paying gigs, of course.  I realize I need to do more. Applying to “some” gigs won’t cut it. I also can’t shake the feeling that I’m doing something wrong. I have a feeling my query/cover letters may not be up to par. I still write cover letters as if I’m applying for an office job. I don’t think that’s going to work now. Definitely need to tweak it and perhaps have it critiqued by one of my more seasoned writer friends who may pick up on what I’m missing.

I’m going to start setting up my writer’s site. It’s time.

And I’m done stressing. It goes against my faith, it’s not healthy and it ages you. I’ll age when I’m 90 and not one day sooner.

 

 

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Do You Believe?


Many people believe in a higher power. I personally believe in God, and there isn’t a day I don’t say a few prayers. As a writer, however, I find myself asking Him for the courage to apply for writing positions I keep telling myself I’m not qualified for.

I admit I struggle a lot with believing in myself, despite having hundreds of articles published at content mills such as Bright Hub, Break Studios, LIVESTRONG and Demand Studios. I doubt myself despite successfully landing gigs doing ghostblogging for criminal law, personal injury and DUI attorneys. I’ve ghostwritten articles on auto insurance, career planning, credit/debt management and even bean bags. Still, I bypass many writing opportunities simply because I lack the belief that I can do it.

The past month has been rough on my psyche. Writing job leads that initially appeared promising went cold once I found out they paid anywhere from a fraction to a whole penny per word. Potential clients lost interest when I asked for more than a few pennies per word, and others didn’t respond at all. I try to take it in stride and keep plugging away at my craft and in my search for new clients. Moving away from content mills is turning out to be quite a challenge, but it’s also a test of my faith and my determination to succeed. Some days I’m more optimistic than others.

What about you? Do you believe you have what it takes to compete with other seasoned writers for writing jobs, even if you have no clips? Do you believe you will succeed? Will you still believe you will make it even after your 50th rejection?

What keeps me going, despite my self-doubts, is knowing I’m capable of being a damn good writer. I just need to step out of my own way and really go for it.

I can’t promise that I’ll be cool as a cucumber when I land my first plumb gig.  No doubt I’ll be ecstatic, but I’ll also be scared that I’ll screw it up. I hear all writers experience the same feeling, so I should be fine…I hope.

I Quit!


That’s right, I QUIT!

I’ve had it with folks offering me $5 to write a 500-word article.

I’m through checking my email every half hour to see if I got a response to an application I submitted.

I’m sick of agonizing over private clients who pay writers when they get around to it.

I’m sick of stressing over finding new clients so I don’t have to go back to a full-time day job.

I’m done with ALL of it! Getting my hopes up when I apply for a writing gig, then feeling deflated when I get no reply. Getting excited about a gig only to discover it pays third-world wages. Planning my bill payment schedule around money I’m owed for a writing gig–and the money comes late!

F*** this!

I’m going to apply for writing gigs that meet my requirements and then forget about it. I’ll give it a week or two and then send a follow-up email to the potential client. If they don’t reply, then the gig simply wasn’t meant for me. No more obsessively glancing at my inbox all day.

Opportunities offering a few dollars to write a 500-word article won’t get a second glance unless the only requirement is to type the words, “Hell no” until the word count is at least 500 words.

I’ll use content mills as a safety net to carry me over until my tardy clients (finally) pay me. No more banking most of my entire budget on one or two clients to come through. Eventually I’ll have enough clients to retire the content mills to the back burner–perhaps for good.

I’ve always believed that God places you exactly where you’re meant to be in your life. I lost my job for a reason. I found myself browsing writer job boards for a reason. I applied to and got all of my current online and private clients for a reason. Everything I’ve endured up to this moment is part of a bigger plan that God is orchestrating. I have to trust that He knows what He’s doing.

 

P.S:  You didn’t really think I was giving up freelance writing, did you? 😉


That’s what I say when I see writing jobs offering $3 dollars for a 500-word (or longer) article.

That’s what I say when I see Guru and Elance jobs paying a penny per word that actually get lots of bidders.

That’s what I think to myself when I see writers clamoring for these jobs because “it’s better than nothing”.

Are you @#&%! kidding me?

I’m not griping about content mills. It’s no secret that contents mills pay pennies per word. A lot of writers are happily cranking out 10 or more articles per day for content mills just to pay the bills. Even I write for one content mill that shall not be named, which currently has a lot of writers on pins and needles due to recent events. The only reason I still write for them is because I earn $20 per article, which is better than $5 an article, and right now I need money just as bad as everyone else does these days. Yet I continue to search and apply for jobs that pay more and will enable me to move on from content mills. No writer should make content mills a career, because it just proves you will work for a few dollars. That’s not the impression you want to give a potential client.

My beef is with private clients who want “excellent” or “talented” writers to work for a couple of dollars an article.

Here’s a heads-up to those clients who think writers don’t eat: freelance does not mean “cheap labor”. Writers don’t live in grass huts; they actually have roofs they need to keep over their heads. Writers have families to support, and it takes good money to pull that off, not pennies. Clients who want good writers don’t hesitate to pay good money to get them. They don’t insult good writers by demanding Pulitzer Prize efforts for $2 an article. If you can’t afford to pay a writer more than the price of a McDonald’s value meal, maybe you should consider writing your articles yourself.

Working for a low rate is not so bad if it’s a means to higher paying opportunities. I also work for a writing company that has private clients, many of whom pay less than what I earn at the content mill. The president is a fellow writer with whom I developed a rapport before she started the company. The company is growing, which means the potential for higher paying clients down the road.

For those writers who think $2, $3 or $5 an article is better than nothing, I have to ask…is it really? Even if you could churn out 10 to 20 short articles a day, how is that better than writing one longer article for $500? Or even $250 if you must work cheap?

You can’t bitch about low-paying clients when you eagerly pounce on their offers as if your life depends on it. At some point you have to value your time and efforts enough to starting demand more from a client. Clients will stop being stingy with pay when writers stop being grateful for pennies per word.


Nothing makes a freelancer’s morning better than getting a new client (except in my case, a Starbucks’ caramel macchiato–the consumption of which I’ve had to drastically reduce).

I logged into my email this morning to see an email from a potential client, telling me I got the job. It’s exactly the kind of work I was looking for–writing diet and fitness blogs/articles.  I will be writing one blog post a week for a health and fitness site. It’s not a lot of work, but I consider it a good addition to my small portfolio of private clients, which I’m presently working on increasing.  I got the pay rate I asked for, and I even got my first payment upfront!

And this blog made it happen.

I responded to classified ad on a forum that I regularly frequent. I emailed the OP and sent him a writing sample. He liked my sample, but he found that the writing lacked the “personality” he was looking for.  Admittedly my sample did have a more informational and authoritative tone, so I sent him a link to this blog so he could get a better idea of how I write when I’m free to be more expressive.

He liked what he saw, and the rest is history. Hopefully this is the beginning of what will be a long and pleasant working relationship–and referrals to future clients. Hey, you never know!

I look forward to the day when I have to turn down potential new clients because my plate is about to crack under my heavy client load (I think..lol). Until then, new clients are always welcome to discuss how I can be of service to them. If you’re still trying to decide if having a blog is worthwhile, let me just say I’m glad I finally warmed up to the idea.


I’ve written about 300 or so articles in a year’s time. All of them were online articles. I don’t remember ever finishing one of them in less than 30 minutes. If I finish one in an hour, I feel pretty good about myself…until I start reading writing forums. I read posts from fellow writers who boast about writing 4 to 5 articles in an hour, and that sense of pride I had from being able to complete an article in an hour wears off with the quickness.  I begin to think I must be doing something wrong. Posts from other writers who are also slow writers do little to make me feel better, because I want to be a speedy writer.

If I could write 4 or 5 articles in an hour, I could do a day’s work in less than four hours. That’s the life I’m talking about! The truth is, I could write 4 or 5 articles in a hour, but the writing would be crap. I tend to rewrite my articles as I writing them. Maybe I should stop doing that and write crap instead, then go back and make it look good.  Is that how speedy writers do it?

I want to be able to tell a client that I can write ten 500-word articles in 24 hours, not two days. I realize most clients wouldn’t give it a second thought, since they may assume I have obligations to other clients. Still, it would be nice to know that if I had to, I could. My writing speed, or lack thereof, has become my Achilles heel.

Perhaps it’s a sign that it’s time to move on to bigger projects that pay more per article, or projects like copywriting and ebooks where I’m allowed enough more time to write at my natural speed, which seems to be slower than most. I don’t know if I’ll ever write any faster, and maybe I’m not meant to. It’s time to make peace with it and work with what I’ve got. Quality has always mattered more to me than quantity anyway.

By the way, it took me 15 minutes to write this 382-word post, but I did spend another 30 minutes cleaning up typos and tightening up the wording. I’m such a perfectionist.

I..Am..Here


I admit I was never interested in starting a blog. The idea of something that’s the equivalent of an online diary didn’t appeal to me at all. I tend to be a private person, so there’s wasn’t much I would write on a blog anyway. Not to mention the idea of millions of people around the world seeing my most personal or private thoughts was downright disturbing.

So what on earth am I doing typing my first blog post to my first ever blog? Why am I willing to open up myself (just a tad) to all the cybermasses? Because I realized that’s what I do every time I reply to a forum post on the various message boards I frequent. Every time I post an opinion, comment, sentiment, gripe, compliment, express my condolences or wish someone well, I give a piece of my heart, a glimpse into my private world and thoughts. I’ve been “blogging” since 1998, when I first got America Online and discovered how addictive the Internet can be.

So instead of churning out another article for a content mill that shall remain nameless until another blog post on another day, I’m sitting here familiarizing myself with WordPress and writing the first of hopefully many blog posts. This blog will take you on my journey from walking into my day job one day and being told it was last day of working for the company, to my present status as an up and coming freelance writer who’s ready to let the world know that I…am…here.

 

 

 

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