The lie that is “free writing sample”

online resumeImagine the following scenario:

It’s been six months or so since your last dental checkup, and it’s time to get your teeth cleaned. Your old dentist is out of town, or maybe you’ve moved into a new town, so you decide to use a new dentist. You either find them online, through a recommendation from someone you know, or you find them in the local newspaper, a magazine, the phone book (does anyone still use these) or some other method. The point is, you are going to a new dentist, someone you’ve never gone to before.

You schedule an appointment over the phone or by email. When you walk into their office it’s no different than any other dentist office you’ve ever been in. Certifications are on the wall, there are staff working behind the counter, a couple of assistants and several people in the waiting room. You sit down and you proceed to flip through the stack of magazines or browse the Internet on your chosen mobile device or tablet. Eventually your name is called and you are led back to the waiting room where you sit down in the chair.

As the assistant asks you some basic questions and preps you for your eventual exam/checkup/cleaning, you answer honestly. Eventually the dentist makes his way in and settles in to do his/her thing…but before they get started you quickly pop your head up to say, “Actually, doc, before we go any further I need you to go ahead and clean my teeth/perform this checkup for free, because I need to see if you are really as qualified as you claim you are.”

Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech. The car skids to a sudden stop, black marks stretching across the pavement. The dentist pulls down his mask, looks you dead in the eye and asks, “Are you joking?”

Let’s be honest here: the above scenario would never happen. You will never in a hundred years find a dentist who is willing to give you a free teeth cleaning or a checkup for free while you inspect their work to see if they are “qualified” or not. Similarly, you will never find a mechanic who is willing to change the oil in your car for free or fix a flat tire for free or a plumber who is going to fix the leak underneath your sink for free, just so you can “see if their work is of good enough quality or not”.

The reality is that when you are working with professionals you are bound by a certain code of conduct that relates to trust in the credentials and qualifications of an individual. If you need to verify they are who they say they are, you simply look at their past client list to determine. A dentist, for example, has his own office, certifications on his wall, a staff of professionals working underneath him and you can easily check to see by reading his credentials that he is experienced as a dentist. A mechanic is the same thing: he has a body shop, credentials on the wall, past clients you can check with. As does a plumber, a lawyer or any other type of professional.

None of these professionals would ever work for free just so a client could inspect their work. And neither should you as a writer.

Your website/blog/Facebook/Twitter/etc. serve as your office. This is your dentist office, your body shop, your platform for clients to get to know you and see that you are a professional. Your resume and published clips are your credentials. They are the same thing as a dentist’s credentials up on the wall, or a mechanic’s or a lawyer’s or any other professional. This is how potential clients get to know you and determine whether or not you are a professional copywriter / writer / content writer / editor / etc.

You do not, under any circumstances, give out free samples of your work just so a client can “see if you are qualified”. Every time I have a potential client ask me for a written sample, I laugh. Literally. And then I send them a brief reply that I appreciate the candor, and if they could please get back to me the following day after they’ve asked their dentist to clean their teeth for free or their mechanic to change the oil for free in their car while they watched to “see if they were qualified”, because I’d love to know what their dentist and mechanics said when asked to provide free samples of their work.

That’s what your resume, website and previously published material are there for, so that clients can see your qualifications and determine if you are the right fit for their particular project and/or company. Bottom line is that if someone is asking you to write an unpaid sample just to “see if you are qualified or not”, they are not a professional company/individual, and are thus not worth working for in the first place.

One of the number one mistakes I see rookies make all the time, and it’s something I cover in all of my consultations and mentorships, is giving out free samples. You should never, ever, not in a hundred years, give out a free writing sample. Understandably in the beginning when you are first getting started as a writer you might need to do some pro-bono work in the form of an internship to get some credentials under your belt, but there is a big difference between an official internship with a high-profile company and just handing out free samples.

Free samples are manipulative and a complete, bold-faced lie. They only reason they exist is to get something for nothing. They are a way for clients and companies to get free, never-before-published material that they can either then publish freely with their own name attached or they can quickly repurpose/rewrite and slap up on their website. Any company or client who is asking you for a free writing sample is not a professional, nor can they be trusted. You should put that email directly into the spam box and move on to the next client.

It’s also about respect. If you have a website, a resume, a list of published material and a potential client or company is asking you to write them something for free, they obviously don’t respect you. If they did, your resume, website, published credentials and beyond would be sufficient proof that you are a qualified professional and deserving of equal respect in the work environment. Someone asking you for free samples is someone who doesn’t respect your talent or the time you have put in to building up your reputation as a writer.

The bottom line is that anyone asking for free writing samples isn’t worth wasting your time on.

Just as much as you will never find a dentist in the world who is willing to clean teeth for free just so a new visitor can “inspect their work”, nor will you ever find a mechanic willing to change the oil in a car for free just so a new client can “inspect their work”, you should never be giving out free writing samples of your own work just so a potential client can “inspect your work”. If they can’t tell you are a qualified writer based upon your website, resume and previously published material, they can shove off. 


Posted in Freelance Writing 101, Freelance Writing Resources, Freelance Writing Tips Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

How should I price my copywriting rates?

Rates are one of the hottest topics of debate among writers in the United States. Ironically, not so much outside of the U.S. As someone who has spent much of the past 13+ years traveling, and four and a half now actually living as an expat in countries around the world working with professionals and on projects in all corners of the globe, I can tell you that rates are different no matter where you go and depend entirely on local markets. And most writers living outside of the U.S. don’t really pay attention to what the other guys are making so much as they do to what they can make for themselves and their families.

What does that mean? For starters, it means that there is no such thing as a standardized rate for copywriting services. Yes, there are local rates…for example, copywriters living in New York City make significantly more than those living in Denver, and as a general rule those living in Mexico City make less than those living in Montreal, because the local rates in those cities vary. But only if they are looking on a local level. When you start looking on a global scale you realize that there is a massive pool of talent out there, writers who are ready, eager, willing and completely qualified to do the work….which throws the whole standardized rates thing out the window.

Instead, savvy businesses are looking abroad for their talent, rather than sticking to local rates. It’s outsourcing at its most basic level, only now instead of being limited to only working with people in your region, the Internet has allowed the entire world to become your region. Which means companies based out of a place like NYC can work with professionals based out of Thailand…or any other country in the world.

But here’s the thing: there are seven billion people on this planet, some of whom will want to work with you, and no one but you. Your role as a copywriter is not just write amazing copy; it’s also about selling yourself, especially in a digital age of social media where you are expected to maintain a website, a blog, a LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and beyond to represent yourself on a professional level. You are the brand, not the other way around. And people aren’t worried about prices when they have trust in the brand.

Because there’s no such thing as a global currency where everyone has the same cost of living, you have to look at you, your skills, what you want to make on a per hour or per day or per month (or whatever) basis. Maybe you are from a country like Colombia where 15 USD per hour is the equivalent of around $60 per hour back in the U.S. Maybe you live in New York City and you want to keep your flat even though it costs you $3,000 a month to rent, so your bottom line is $80 an hour to live comfortably. Maybe you are happy with $10 an hour or maybe you are a seasoned veteran who needs $200 an hour or beyond to retain your services. It doesn’t matter. There is no such thing as a standardized, global rate for copywriting services.

That’s a hard pill for some people to swallow, especially writers from the United States. Before the advent of Global Internet they had it made as the only people in the world who had high-speed internet and access to online opportunities, so digital copywriters and writers in general were making great money at the top of the food chain. But now that high-speed Internet is in every corner of the globe the waters are awash with professionals who are just as qualified as the U.S. writers…they are just working for significantly less due to global currency exchange. Now, many writers continual spend their time crying about how the wages these days are horrible and how they can’t find work and no one has money and so on and so forth.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” And nowhere is this more evident than in someone who has the Internet at their disposal and a long line of excuses as to why they aren’t making any money. It’s the market. It’s the economy. It’s the competition. It’s those @#*&@#* writers in the Philippines and Indonesia and India working for pennies driving the rates down.

No it’s not. There are clients out there for all of us. You just have to get out there and find them. Look globally, not locally, and you will find plenty of work. I haven’t stopped since I started in the middle of 2008. I’ve had a non-stop plate of work since then, but I haven’t found more than 10% or so of my work in the United States. Every other job I’ve worked on has been in Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East. Now I’m hip-deep in work down here in Mexico. I haven’t had to lower my rates once for any of my clients, although I have to be honest: I’m not freelancing that much these days. Most of my work here is either referrals or traffic coming in from Google, and I’ve done the occasional retainer. The vast majority of my time is spent over at my immersion travel website.

The point is, everyone has a budget, just like everyone has hair. Not everyone has the same color hair. Not everyone has the same kind of budget. There is work at all levels, for all types of writers, regardless if you are working in copywriting or web content generation or ghostwriting or tech manuals or advertising. The key lies in learning how to sell yourself, how to become a salesperson, how to pitch your services, pitch your talents, pitch your brand.

Don’t worry about what someone else is charging. Look at what you want to make. What you feel comfortable making. What you need to pay the bills. Then polish the hell out of your resume, get your cover letter ready and start looking for gigs. And be prepared to work your butt off in the early months. No one gets into the big leagues without putting time in as a grunt and learning/earning their way up the chain of command. We all start off somewhere, and you shouldn’t be discouraged by that fact. Rome wasn’t built in a day…and neither is a writing career. If you want to be a veteran copywriter you have to build up a resume, and that requires getting your hands dirty and your feet on the pavement looking for work and selling, selling, selling your brand to everyone you come across.

Your rates are yours and yours alone. Don’t listen to people who tell you to “price according to the competition”. They usually don’t know what they are talking about, or are limited to only thinking on a closed, local scale. You are one of the global elite. You understand what it means to be relevant in the modern era. And part of being relevant means looking on a global level for work and finding the clients who will pay your specified rates. Don’t settle for second best. Shoot for the moon. There’s a client out there with your name on their contract.


Posted in Freelance Writing 101, Freelance Writing Resources, Freelance Writing Tips, The World Is Your Oyster Tagged with: , , , , ,

A Day in the Life of an Expat Copywriter

As most of you know from reading the blog and following along at our Facebook page, I’ve been extremely busy with my current full-time job, which is managing my online community with Marginal Boundaries and establishing niche sites and products such as The Expat Guidebook and The Mediterranean Lifestyle eBook, Olympian Health and Wellness According to The Mediterranean Diet. So much so that I haven’t made a blog post here in months, which I alluded to towards the end of 2011 and early weeks of 2012 as I wrapped up the Dremel project with Demand Studios with enough cash to get me through the entirety of 2012 while working solely on passion projects.

Which has allowed me, consequently, to go about building up my own niche in the immersion travel / expat industry and offer services and products based upon what I prefer to do with my life: travel the world and live in countries where the cost of living is much, much less than the United States while I enjoy an early retirement, absolute freedom and basically live like I’m on vacation every day of the year. I’ve been debt-free since I was 29 years old, and I’ve been freelancing part-time since January of 2008 when I left the U.S. to live abroad as an expat in other countries.

Nowadays I just create products, such as the immersion guides for Marginal Boundaries based on which cities I’ve lived in for the past going on five years: Sofia, Bulgaria; Bogota, Colombia; and Cancun, Mexico. Or the previously mentioned Expat Guidebook and Mediterranean Diet lifestyle plan and nutrition guide. And I still do the occasional copywriting gig here through Complete Writing Solutions, although I’m not actively searching for clients these days aside from those projects which catch my eye as in my niches. I still get referrals from time to time, and the random query. I’m also creating and producing YouTube videos, such as The Expat Guidebook Tip of the Day series, and I’m currently putting together footage of the Riviera Maya for an upcoming production.

And I did it all on a median salary. I just did it in a way which gave me financial freedom: living abroad as a full-time expat.

When I started in January of 2008 I had no previous experience at being a writer. I never finished high school, I never went to college and all I knew was construction (family trade; I was third generation), video games and fantasy/science fiction novels. And yeah…it took a lot of hard work in the beginning to find people who would give me gigs with no previous experience, no degree and no published samples. But I found people who needed work done in my niches, I landed gigs, I paid the bills and slowly moved my way up until by 2009 I was debt-free and clearing $50 an hour with my lowest gigs.

Now I’m an expert student (well, semi anyway. There is always something new to learn as Google makes continual tweaks) in SEO, backlinking, copywriting, marketing, digital enterprises, travel and website design. I can take a website from zero to the first page of Google in three to six months, and I haven’t needed to outsource yet. I run seven different domains presently including the aforementioned domains, so I’m a busy guy. I’m also starting to produce video content, although that’s in its early stages presently. As the budget grows, so will the production value. Right now it’s just me and a high-def cam as I work my way around the world, and it’s proving to be a vital part of my traffic online.

I suppose I still have to work, if you consider managing the Marginal Boundaries community and creating new products “work” in the traditional sense. I have an intern program starting in June that runs through into September, at which point I’m hiring a personal assistant to help me manage things because as the empire grows it takes more time to manage, and I prefer to keep my time investment to a minimum now that things are off the ground. So things are growing. And we have a lot of travel plans coming up in the future, including Santiago, Chile and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for more immersion guides. Although you won’t see posts here too often from me given the fact that I only work on retainer now as a copywriter, I’m still around. Just check out the myriad of links in this post to find me where I’m most actively engaged :)

Listen…if I can do this…an uneducated construction worker from Colorado who didn’t even finish high school…than you can do this. Anyone can do it. All it takes is a desire to achieve and you will find everything you ever wanted at your fingertips. Too many writers are stuck in a rut thinking they can’t achieve success and all it takes is the dedication to not just say “I want it”, but to go out there and chase it down.

Opportunities don’t wait for you. You have to take them. So get out there and get some!

Posted in Freelance Writing 101, Freelance Writing Tips, The World Is Your Oyster Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Copywriting Services

While I don’t regularly post blog updates for other writers anymore due to being extremely busy with my Marginal Boundaries and other products such as The Expat Guidebook, Complete Writing Solutions still exists as a platform for my clients past, present and future. And the newsletter still periodically comes out with some juicy tidbits. However, today marks a new day in the CWS timeline, and that is with the inclusion of copywriting services to our ever-growing list (coming later this year are Spanish writing services, as well as editing services).

In any case, if you are interested in more information about the copywriting offered by Complete Writing Solutions as well as our rates on other projects such as consultations and press releases, you can use the drop-down menu above to click through to the specific rate page you are looking for with details regarding your project. We look forward to continuing to provide clients around the world with premium content and copywriting services, and this is just a natural progression forward.



Posted in Freelance Writing 101, Freelance Writing Resources, Freelance Writing Tips Tagged with: , , , , , ,

CWS In 2012

It’s been pretty quiet on the blog front for Complete Writing Solutions in 2012, and there’s a reason for that :) Those of you who have been following along for some time already know it’s because things are in full swing over at Marginal Boundaries, which is where the majority of my time is now spent. I have the initial three immersion/travel guides for sale as of January via PDF  at EJunkie and Kindle via Amazon, and I’m also working on a fourth product for release in late February/early March for the same brand. I’m also working on a completely new brand/product/series for launch in March, plus in March I’m heading out to film a completely self-funded travelogue in the jungles/mountains of the Chiapas region of Mexico…just to name a few of the things I’m currently working on. Then there’s another immersion guide coming planned for late 2012 in Guatemala City, where I’ll also be filming another travelogue for 3-4 months on location along with putting together the next immersion guide….let’s just say I’m staying busy!

In short, I’ve mostly moved out of contract writing and content writing and am now generating the majority of my income from sales of my products as well as affiliate sales and internet marketing which is what I set out to do last April when I started building my various other projects. I’m 9 months in now and 100% of my cost of living is covered through residual income, so I’d say that’s a good start. From here on out it’s just a matter of growing bigger and better!

With that being said, there won’t be too many blog posts for the present out of Complete Writing Solutions. However, there are still a few core things that will come out from time to time, such as the aforementioned income reports and detailed “how to make money as a writer” reports in the newsletter, and also occasionally here at the blog. I’m working heavily with half a dozen various programs and products right now that are rocketing me up through the rankings in my niches and generating a lot of hits, and I’m going to continue to share those with my readers as part of the “complete” suite of solutions that we provide here for clients and readers alike.

However, I don’t have a schedule or a deadline for any of those things. They’ll come when I have spare time to write them. In the meantime, if you want to find out more of what I’m doing for 2012, you can stay tuned over at Marginal Boundaries, as I’m currently focusing about 85% of my energy on more products related to location independent living, how to retire in two to three years on a shoestring budget, how to make a living online to pursue a life of continual travel, how to purchase property abroad and anything and everything related to the digital nomad lifestyle that I’ve been using for the past 5 years now which enabled me to retire by the time I was 30 (I’m 32 now), rather than waiting until I was 65 like most people in the States are told they need to wait until.

So, if you are interested…feel free to follow along over there. Or check back here from time to time for the updates when they come. Cheers!

Posted in Freelance Writing 101, Freelance Writing Tips, The World Is Your Oyster

Income Reports

Hey guys! I hope your 2012 has been going great!

If you haven’t read the latest newsletter post that went out today, I wanted to let the blog readers know that I posted a teaser promo of the income reports that I’m starting to do this month. I’ve been inspired by Pat Flynn over at the Smart Passive Income blog where he posts his monthly income reports as inspiration for his followers, and I’m going to start doing the same. If you check the Facebook page you’ll see a link  to some screenshots of my PayPal stubs as of the 10th of January, just from my content mill efforts alone; I also have the ebook sales, affiliate sales, travel guide and affiliate sales, private contract work, ongoing gigs with places such as The Social Expat and Real Food and Health, and numerous other projects.

I can’t wait to continue to share with you guys my methods and strategies and help you achieve the same levels of success! It’s been an awesome start to 2012 and it’s only going to get better from here :) Stay tuned for the finale when I post the total income for January at the end of the month, so you can see the various eggs I’ve got in my basket, which will hopefully help you figure out where you should be focusing your energies and inspire you to achieve the same level of success in your writing career.

See you on the flip side!

Posted in Freelance Writing 101 Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Marketability in the 21st Century – Evolving With The Industry

“Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

Ben Franklin has numerous quotes that remain relevant throughout the ages, but it is this quote in particular that strikes a chord with me as I look around at the scores of writers in this post-brick-and-mortar era who continue to clamor how they don’t have any work, despite the fact that there are a global range of opportunities available. What it really boils down to, more than anything else, is that certain people have yet to grasp the simple fact that they must be willing to evolve and adapt if they want to survive. This means learning new ways of doing things, of accepting that their way isn’t the only way.

The traditional ways of doing things have long since passed. Outsourcing has long been a business method used by companies around the world to get cheap labor on things, but with the advent of the Internet this has spread outsourcing beyond simply the local pool, and into the realm of global. In short, there is no such thing as regionally local anymore. Global is the new local. Which means you are competing with a global pool of competitors. Writers who are just like you, who have the same education, the same job skills, the same relevant experience in the field…except they are willing to work for pennies in comparison to you because their cost of living is drastically lower than yours.

So how can you remain relevant in a time when it seems as though all the best work is being shipped out to writers in India, the Philippines or Indonesia? How can you overcome and adapt to the changes in the market flow so that you can continue making enough money to pay your bills and live the lifestyle you have become accustomed to over the years?

By being willing to learn new ways of doing things.

Global is the new local. Which means you have to learn how to market yourself on a global base. That means searching for work within a global community, not just simply typing in “freelance writing jobs” into Google and searching for the first 5 pages of results. This means getting creative with your job searches, using various search engines, learning a new language and looking at the markets in Europe, Asia and South America as well as within North America. It means broadening your horizons and realizing that you are not the be-all, end-all of writers simply because you are located in the Untied States and are a native English speaker.

Education matters. When I can hire someone from Argentina who has the same qualifications as someone from New York (5 years of experience, 4-6 year degree, and passable English), why would I want to hire the writer from New York when their rates are $80 an hour versus the writer in Argentina who only wants to charge me $15 an hour? I am more than willing to deal with English that might not be perfectly written the first time to save $50+ per hour in fees because the person has the knowledge I want to portray in the work. It’s simple business 101: save money to make money.

This is only one of the realities that you must learn to overcome, and that means evolving and adapting to the changes in the market if you want to remain relevant and put food on the table. You can’t blame the market for evolving and you can’t blame the writers in other countries for supposedly “stealing” your work. Instead, you need to look at yourself, self-evaluate, and ask yourself, “What am I doing wrong? What do I need to learn in order to overcome and adapt so that I’m not one of the ignorant?”

Stay tuned for more in our on-going series, Marketability in the 21st Century. 

Posted in Freelance Writing 101, Freelance Writing Tips, The World Is Your Oyster Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Are You Really A Writer Or Just A Hobbyist?


Over the past few weeks and months I’ve been putting together some research in my spare time, taking a look at the disparity between a Real Writer and a Hobby Writer. This particular blog post takes a close look at the differences between the two and is written to help you determine which category you fit into, as well as give you some tips on how to upgrade your status from Hobbyist into a Real Writer. While this post has been brewing for some time, I finally decided it was time to write it after being inspired by a recent rant from Adam Carolla, during which he talks about the curse of the Instant Gratification Generation who think that anyone experiencing success beyond their own is somehow inherently evil. It’s a real problem in the United States right now, and the true reason behind the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement; millions of members from the Instant Gratification Generation who are upset with anyone who makes more money than them, has more things than them, and generally succeeds in life compared to them as they scrape along the bottom of the barrel, barely eking out an existence. Gone are the days of having idols to look up to; now, anyone who is more successful than you are is inherently a bad person.

But before I really get into the whole Hobby Writer and the Instant Gratification Generation, let’s take a look at some of the core differences between a RW and a HW.

A Real Writer:

  • Makes a livable wage, based upon where they live.
  • Can support themselves or their family with their income and has extra money to burn every month.
  • Writes every day, for profit, and never concerns themselves with what another writer in another part of the world is making, because they have clients who pay their rates regardless. They understand that there is no such thing as failure and they understand that there are 7 billion people in the world, all of whom need their services in one form or another.
  • There is no such thing as a client who isn’t willing to pay the rates you want. There is only someone you haven’t won over yet.
  • Doesn’t believe in free samples, and never writes for free.
  • Understands marketing basics and how to use them for their business. Everyone needs your services, and your daily job is to sell those services.
  • There is no such thing as failure. There is only the ABCs of business: Always Be Closing.
  • Understands that the clients need them, not the other way around.
  • Studies the market flows and ebbs, on a global basis.
  • Spends at least 2 hours a day marketing their services on a global basis and lands at least 2-4 out of every 10 proposals/queries.
  • Has at least 3 months of work already booked in advance and is always looking ahead.
  • Has enough money in the bank to provide for themselves or their family for a full year even if they didn’t work a day.
  • Keeps an updated resume and professional website.
  • Understands social media and utilizes it to help make more money and expand their network of clients and customers.
  • Subscribes to at least half a dozen professional newsletters and can afford to spend between $100 and $1,000 per month (minimum) on various products to help them keep at the top of their game.
  • Works their ass off to be Number 1 and doesn’t settle for anything but 1st place.
  • Doesn’t cry over spilled milk, but instead continually self-evaluates and finds new ways to adapt and overcome to fluctuations in the market.
  • There is no such thing as feast or famine for the Real Writer. They make a continual, steady paycheck, regardless if they are freelance.

A Hobby Writer, on the other hand:

  • Submits free samples to anyone who asks, desperately hoping to land a gig. As such, does not value their own worth and believes that the only way to succeed is to bend over backwards to impress a client. Doesn’t understand that part of impressing a client is showing strength of character and proving that the client can’t live a day without their services.
  • Blames their current financial state on the market. Can’t afford to pay the rent, and doesn’t make anything close to a livable wage.
  • Blames their lack of income on the fact that other writers in India, the Philippines or other parts of the world are working for pennies and are thus the reason they can’t land any jobs for “professional” rates.
  • Sends out 100 queries and doesn’t land a single job, then blames it on the market rather than looking in the mirror and wondering if maybe it’s their resume or their cover letter that needs work.
  • Doesn’t have a professional website, instead relying on a free Blogspot or WordPress blog.
  • Doesn’t understand anything about marketing. Never attempts to close, believing that passive strategy works best. Doesn’t understand basic marketing skills. Thinks that being a writer means simply sitting at the desk and putting words on paper.
  • Hasn’t ever researched beyond what they can find for free on Google in the first 5 pages.
  • Doesn’t subscribe to any newsletters and can’t afford to spend $50 on a product that will help their business, much less $100 to $1,000, because they believe that anyone selling a product is out to “scam” them.
  • Spends most of their time on writers’ forums crying about how they never have any money, can’t find gigs, never hear back from query letters when they should instead be researching, reading products and finding new ways to profit.
  • Doesn’t believe that they need improvement, or that spending money on consultations, resume services, cover letter services, mentoring, products or otherwise is a necessary expense, because they think that free information is the only information they should be looking for on the Internet.
  • Blames their lack of success on everyone else but themselves.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else”. 

The Reality of Business

First off, if you can’t afford to spend $50 on a product, service or mentor to help improve your business…you don’t have a business. What you have is a hobby. One that apparently can’t even pay for itself, because you don’t make enough money to cover your rent, let alone pay for an ebook, a consultation, someone to revamp your resume or some other service to improve your business.

Secondly, if you are sending out 100 queries and you haven’t heard back from a single client, have you ever stopped to consider that it’s not the market? Maybe it’s the fact that your cover letter needs a serious overhaul, or that your resume isn’t written in a professional enough manner. Maybe it’s the fact that you need a consultation to help you on your way.

Look at it from this point of view. Would you really want someone fixing a cavity in your mouth if they learned how to perform dentistry from the Wikipedia? Or would you rather have a qualified dentist who paid money in a school to learn how to become a dentist working in your mouth? The same rule applies. College classes cost money because you are learning skills that are necessary for that particular trade. And if a client is looking at your resume and sees that you don’t have the relevant skills to even put together a professional cover letter, let alone a resume, why would they want to hire you when they can get someone who actually has the relevant skills and has a professional cover letter and resume?

Writing isn’t about just writing. It’s about marketing. It’s about social media management. It’s about selling your services to someone who is receiving 100 or 500 or 1,000 other competitive offers from other writers. You have to stand out from the pack. You need to be willing to critique yourself and accept professional help from people who are actually succeeding in this career. The ones who actually make a livable wage, who have professional websites and resumes (the equivalent of digital six-pack abs), who have videos, ebooks, courses, training classes and more to help the struggling writer get the help they need to get ahead in this career. After all, if they are making that kind of money, they must be doing something right. Don’t you think it’s worth your time to find out what methods they are using so that you can use them in your own business?

There’s an old saying in business that holds true in any industry. You have to spend money to make money. For example, if you want to become a dentist you have to be willing to spend the money on a college education so you can earn the credentials to practice. And if you want to be a successful writer you have to be willing to spend money on products, consultations, courses, advice from the pros and beyond, the same way you would pay for a college degree. And while it is true that not everyone needs the help or advice of a pro, many people do…and it is these Hobby Writers who need to wake up and realize that it isn’t the market that is the root cause of their issues. It is the fact that they lack the relevant skills to be writers. They need to find someone teach them how to become a Real Writer of the 21st century.

Another thing to think about is to look at your writing career like getting into physical shape. You don’t get six-pack abs by sitting around talking about how badly you want to lose weight and how it’s not your fault you are fat because you have a gene problem while you continue stuffing your face with packaged foods, sugary drinks and potato chips. You get six-pack abs by establishing a diet routine, by establishing a fitness regimen, by eating healthy foods in smaller quantities, by doing a series of crunch routines on top of cardio and weight training and by actually doing what it is that you want to accomplish. In short, you stop being an overweight loser who blames their weight on everyone and everything but themselves, you take control, you lose the weight and you sculpt your body into what you want it to look like in the first place through hard work and perseverance. You hire a personal trainer, a nutritionist, someone with professional experience who can help you achieve the goals you want. You don’t merely think or dream or read about getting in shape…you actually DO IT!

Instant Gratification Generation

These are the Hobby Writers of the modern era, the ones who were raised with a continual stream of “you are special!” shoved down their throats through television, No Child Left Behind programs in school, millions of blogs and media advertising that streams “you can do it!” 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This is the generation of people who think that mediocrity is to be celebrated, that they should have an award just for being “one of the team”, and that they don’t really need to strive above and beyond to achieve. They think that everything should be handed to them “just because”.

These are the Hobby Writers who look at a Real Writer and rather than look up to them as mentors and idols instead view them with disdain, thinking to themselves, “They must be lying about their success. After all, I can find that information for free on Google. I don’t need to buy their product, because it’s just a scam. They don’t deserve to be successful, because all they are doing is manipulating newbie writers and trying to get them to spend money on a product that doesn’t contain anything other than what I can find for free on the Internet.”

First and foremost, if this type of information was readily available for free on the Internet, if these strategies were supposedly out there for anyone to find and utilize, than why in the world do Hobby Writers exist? The reality is that Hobby Writers want things handed to them on a silver platter without having to put forth any real effort. They don’t believe in anything other than “free” because they have been brainwashed into thinking that everything out there should be free in the first place, automatically given to them because that’s how they’ve been treated their whole life, and that anything that costs money must naturally be a scam. “I don’t need a resume mentor, because I can learn how to write a resume for free on the Internet,” they tell themselves. “Why would I pay someone for a consultation when they are just going to tell me what I can find for free doing a Google search?”

If all of this information is supposedly free and readily available…why aren’t you making as much money as a Real Writer, Hobby Writer? Why don’t you have enough money to pay the rent? Why can’t you land jobs? Why aren’t your queries getting responses? Is it really the market? Is it really the foreign writers? Maybe it’s the fact that you aren’t a Real Writer in the first place and you need the guidance of a professional to turn you into one. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn.” Are you merely ignorant (as all of us are at some point or another, such as when we are children before we understand that fire is hot and can burn us), or are you unwilling to learn how to become a professional?

In the old days (as Adam mentions in that audio clip) if you were walking down the street and you saw someone drive by in a nice car, your dad would turn to you and say, “Look there. That’s Mr. Smith. Look at his nice car. He worked hard to achieve success. If you work hard, you can have the same success in your life.” You would use Mr. Smith as an example of what you wanted to achieve and you would mirror your own advancements after his, using him as an example for your own success.

The problem is that now the Instant Gratification Generation of Hobby Writers look at other writer’s success and the first thought that comes to mind isn’t “Wow, I want to be just like them,” but rather, “They can’t possibly be telling the truth with their products. It’s all just a scam. There’s no way they are making that kind of money, because I’m not making that kind of money. No one in their right mind would ever pay that kind of money when they can find the information for free on the Internet!” They throw bricks in the form of derogatory blog posts, and they keep on complaining that their lack of success isn’t their own fault, but rather the fault of the market, or the foreign writers, or the rates, or the lack of jobs or the global economy or any other excuse they can find.

They want everything handed to them on a silver platter and they don’t want to actually have to do any work to achieve success. They think that the road to success is paved with free advice and anything that isn’t free or doesn’t allow them to be number 1 along with everyone else isn’t real and shouldn’t be allowed. They want 1st place without actually having to do anything to get there. They want it simply because they know in their hearts they are “special”, that they “deserve” it, because it isn’t fair for someone else to be more successful.

Mediocrity Isn’t Worth Celebrating

You don’t earn a trophy for simply participating. You don’t pay your rent by submitting free samples of your work. You don’t get to practice dentistry without first going to school, paying for a teacher to train you and learning the relevant skills. You don’t become a best-selling author by lamenting how much money the other writers are making. You don’t land jobs by having a mediocre resume and cover letter. You don’t lose weight and get Brad Pitt abs without researching and paying a nutritionist and a personal trainer to show you how to do it the right way so you don’t injure your body or starve yourself by simply trying to not eat as a means to lose weight. And you don’t become a Real Writer without learning the craft and shooting for the moon.

There’s more to writing than simply putting words on a page. Today, writing is about being an excellent social media manager, an excellent marketer and an excellent writer, all wrapped into one. It’s about researching the continual changes of the market, subscribing to and being a part of networks of other writers, researching and purchasing products and courses that train you and teach you how to utilize the latest strategies to make the most amount of money for the least amount of effort. It’s about running a business. It’s about spending money to make money. It’s about putting in the time, the hours and the hard work so that you can be Number One with actual proof behind the title rather than being Peon Number 27 who comes to work and gets a special “You’re A Winner!” button that they can put up on their board simply because they showed up.

It’s about being a Real Writer. A professional. A business specialist. Someone who excels at what they do. Someone who not only makes enough money to pay their bills but also sticks money aside in the savings every month. Someone who sells their products every time. Someone who lives the lifestyle they’ve always dreamed about. Someone who doesn’t send out 100 resumes only to hear the echo of the wind in return. Someone who hits home runs every time they step up to the plate, rather than only punting a grounder that turns into a sacrifice which lets someone else get to touch home base first.

Do you want to be successful? Stop thinking that everything in life should be given to you for free. Stop accepting mediocrity. Stop celebrating $50 writing gigs and start celebrating $500 or $5,000 writing gigs. Don’t settle for anything less than 1st place. Remember those No Fear shirts from the 90s? There’s no 2nd place…there’s only losers. This should be your motto. Don’t send in free writing samples, because it only signals that you are a weak, inferior writer, part of the 99%. Be willing to accept the fact that if you are sending out 100 queries without a single reply that it’s not the market that sucks, but your resume and cover letter. Hire a professional to give you a consultation. Revamp your resume. Talk with the professionals in your field who are making 100k or more a year. Find out what they are doing and apply that to your own work. Don’t think that you can’t afford to spend money on a product. Instead, think of it it this way: you can’t afford to not spend money on that product, because it has proven success behind it.

Don’t look at other writers and their success and think how it isn’t fair that they have so much money, that they don’t need their 500,000 dollar mansion or their fancy car. Instead, look up to successful writers and ask yourself, “What are they doing right that I’m doing wrong? How can I achieve that level of success? How can I become part of the 1%?”

Want to be more than the 99%? Get out there and start working for it. Hire someone to help coach you. Find a mentor who speaks to your style. Take a class, a course, buy a book and find a way to mirror the success your mentors have. If they offer a product or a subscription service, go for it. The reason they are successful is because they are Winners. They are Real Writers. They aren’t the ones complaining about how they can’t pay rent or can’t afford to pay $50 on something that will guarantee them success. There are dozens of different gurus on the Internet, and all of them have something unique to say. Find the ones who speak to your heart and use their strategies and methods to become a winner, not a loser. I personally am a huge fan of the Smart Passive Income blog, as well as the 4 Hour Work Week, both of which have helped me in my success. I also loved Life After the Cubicle, and the Location Independent programs. These are just examples; you can find your own mentor or service that speaks to your heart.

If you can’t afford to spend money to make money, you don’t have a business and you aren’t a Real Writer. You have a hobby and are nothing more than a Hobby Writer. Want to get those six-pack abs that show off what a badass you are in the work place? Want to make thousands per month instead of a mere $50 now and again? What are you willing to do to change your status and become Number 1 in your writing niche? What are you doing to do to achieve 1st place so that you can be a winner, not a loser?

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” – Ben Franklin

Posted in Freelance Writing 101, Freelance Writing Tips Tagged with: , , , , ,

The Complete Writing Solutions Holiday Referral Program

As a way to show my thanks for your continued support over the past four years while Complete Writing Solutions has grown, I’m currently offering a 25% referral program for the holidays.

Any work that is referred by you between now and December 31st, 2011 will earn you a 25% commission off of the total cost of the project. This applies to any service that Complete Writings Solutions offers. Whether your friends need original content for their websites, copywriting and press releases, consultations, original fiction, ghostwriting or beyond, Complete Writing Solutions is here to provide exactly what our name states. Just have them send us a mail with your name and email attached to their initial query and I’ll contact all involved parties and go from there.

You must have a valid PayPal account to qualify. Referral fees will be paid out once 100% of the total project has been paid for by your clients. 

Posted in Freelance Writing 101, Freelance Writing Resources, Freelance Writing Tips, The World Is Your Oyster Tagged with: , , , , ,

Welcome to the Future of Writing

For those of you who have been following along for some time, you’ll remember awhile back when I wrote the “Why being a writer is more than just writing” newsletter for the Complete Writing Solutions followers. In that particular newsletter I talked about why it is important to have as many social networks as possible and how important it is for you to be a social butterfly rather than an anti-social writer, because the more people you know and the more avenues you have for income the more money you will make. Little Johnny might not be making any money with his lemonade stand, but Suzy is making a killing simply because she chose to maximize her exposure, thus maximizing her profits. And just as I talked about there, the next few months at Complete Writing Solutions are solely dedicated to showing you just how far beyond writing you need to go if you want to be profitable as a writer.

While it’s true that you can still make money as an anti-social writer, the proof is out there that the writers who have the most exposure are the ones making the most cash. It’s all about visibility. The most important part of being a writer these days is having your product, services or information available to as many avenues as possible. Not every person wants to read your blog posts, newsletters or Facebook updates. Some of them want to view your updates as YouTube videos. Others want to listen along to podcasts. Still others prefer to read your information, so every time you come up with an idea or have a service to market or information to offer you need to be breaking it down into all of the different avenues so you can maximize your exposure to as many people as possible.

For example, let’s say you have an idea for a blog post. Now, take the core ideas from that blog post and set aside a portion of them for a podcast session. Then another portion for a vodcast (video cast). Then write a newsletter about it, plus put a unique spin on it for your Facebook page. Every single idea you have has a dozen or more different media formats you can use to share the information with your followers, and if you want to be successful you need to be taking advantage of all the different angles.

I’ve had people in the past (you will always have naysayers) who have mentioned that they can’t afford to spend $100 or $200 on a product that will help move their career forward, such as dictation software or a press release. If you cannot afford to spend a mere $100 on something to help expand your business….you don’t have a business. You have a hobby. A non-paying hobby that doesn’t even pay for itself because you can’t afford a mere $100, which is less than what it would cost you to take your significant other out for a nice dinner.

So how do you run a business? That’s what our next video series is focused on. I am going to take you through a step-by-step method of how to go from being a part-time blogger or solely a content mill writer into a full-fledged professional who is running a business. You are here to make money, and that’s what I want you to achieve. I want each and every one of you to make as much money as possible and the only way you can achieve that is by taking your job seriously. It’s not just about working hard, it’s about working intelligently so that your efforts are reaping the rewards you want.

Sit back, relax and enjoy. There’s a lot of information coming down the pipeline over the coming months as we wind down to the end of 2011, ranging from setting up affiliate programs to social networking to how to set up your own niche site and monetize it as well as maximize your profits through informational products. Over the next couple of months I am going to show you how to go from someone who can’t afford to spend $30 on a product to help with their business (such as the Content Writing 101 e-book) to someone who can afford to spend $500 or more per month on things to help expand your business into places you never thought were possible before. Maximum exposure for maximum rewards.

Posted in Freelance Writing 101, Freelance Writing Resources, Freelance Writing Tips Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

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