Content Writing 101 Version 2.0

One of the best parts about having digital products for sale is the fact that you can update products as time goes on. Rather than needing to wait months or even years between printed versions you can make changes to digital copies in the moment so the updates can happen as the market changes and evolves. With that in mind, Version 2.0 of the Content Writing 101 eBook is now live.

For those of you who purchased your copy when it first went live back in April, you have seen the power of the strategies contained within. As the subtitle for the eBook suggests, making $50 per hour as a minimum is the lowest number you should be striving for when it comes to working for content mills, not the $10 or $15 per hour that many content writers struggle to make due to their lack of understanding. There’s rhyme and reason to streamlined strategies and you see them in many forms across the Internet. That’s what informational products are all about, and the most important thing to remember is that there isn’t just one way to do things. There are always multiple ways, and the strategies in the Content Writing 101 eBook are just that: one of many ways.

The updates include an additional screenshot of my earnings for the past few months with DMS as well as eight pages of new content. This includes an in-depth breakdown of my favorite new toy, Instant Article Factory. Yes, that’s an affiliate link, and yes I’ll be making a separate post about the program later on this week or early next week, as well as talking about it on the YouTube channel and the Facebook page. This is another tool that I’ve picked up to help me in my content generation and believe me, when you can crank out a 500 word article in mere seconds that is not only 80% or more original but also grammatically correct you can literally save yourself hours of time. I highly recommend taking ten minutes out of your day to watch the video, because things work exactly as they do in the video. The footage you see is exactly what you see when you buy your annual subscription. Well worth the subscription fee, because you can make that money back in just over an hour of writing.

The bottom line is that while content mills are adjusting and changing with the evolution of media, so must we, and while you can opt to ignore content mills completely if you choose they can be a very lucrative writing niche when you understand how to maneuver through the channels of content writing. Everyone is looking for ways to make money in these difficult economic times, and this is your chance to maximize your profits when working with content mills.

Enjoy the new version and stay tuned as more updates are coming throughout the month of October, including the start of our YouTube video series on the importance of networking, social media, affiliate sales and being a writer with many different hats. If you haven’t already don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter up on the upper right of the website. It’s 100% free and provides you with updates on what’s going on around the Complete Writing Solutions part of the world. You can also tune in to our YouTube channel for more updates as well as watch the five hours of video footage for the Content Writing 101 eBook (where I recorded myself writing for various content mills to put my money where my mouth is and to prove to you, my readers, that this isn’t just some fluke but rather a streamlined system that works), or follow along the conversations on our Facebook page as well as via our Twitter feed.

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

Needs Versus Wants

Everyone is familiar with the concept of needs versus wants. Our parents teach it to us when we are in the learning stages of our lives, when we are being taught the virtues of sharing, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, working hard for your rewards and treating others with respect. It’s one of life’s little golden rules; not everything you want is something you need. But is this a concept that people truly understand?

A freelance writer I know spent a lot of time a couple years back boasting about her salary per yer, the fact that she lives in one of Seattle’s nicer neighborhoods, the fact that she makes X dollars per month, the fact that she and her husband drive Y cars and so on and so forth. And a couple of years ago I wrote a post called “What is success, and how do I achieve it?”

To quote myself from that article, “What is success? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, success is any sort of favorable or desired outcome, or the attainment of wealth, favor, and eminence.”

Specifically, I’d like to pay attention to the part about any sort of favorable or desired outcome. More to the point, I’d like to cover something I talked about in that article, which is how money earned and things purchased do not necessarily equal success.

“But that’s ludicrous,” you sputter. “Everyone knows that the true measure of success is how much money you have in the bank!”

Only in the United States, my friends. Or countries like it.

Let me give you an example. A few weeks back some friends and I were visiting the colonial town of Villa de Levya, a few hours outside of Bogota here in Colombia. One day when we were hiking down through the town we passed a BBQ going on at one of the local’s houses. Roughly 20 people gathered around, all of them drinking beer, enjoying the beautiful weather, grilling up some steaks and vegetables, and we noted how they had been doing the exact same thing every day for the past three days we had been in the town. They are simple people, living on around 200-300 dollars per month. They don’t have cars, they don’t have XBoxes, they don’t have iPhones or iPads or smartphones or laptops or 50 inch flatscreen televisions. And yet there they were, huge smiles on their faces, laughter all around and joy in their lives. I turned to one friend and mentioned how refreshing it was to be reminded that you don’t need tons of money and possessions to be happy in life.

Which brings me to the point of needs versus wants. Let’s take the writer from the start of the article, making her 80k a year with her fancy house in the burbs and the nice cars and plenty of toys. For her, success is measured in possessions and money. She makes 80k a year, but spends almost all of that on the possessions she has. At the end of the year she might put a couple of thousand of dollars in the bank after taxes, the house, the car payments and otherwise. Meanwhile, let’s take a guy working at McDonald’s, still living with his parents. He has no car, no rent, lives cheap and only makes around 25k a year. But because he has no possessions dictating that he spend all of his money on the sake of appearances, he only needs about 8-10k a year for living expenses, so at the end of the year he puts 15k or so in the bank. After a few years of working he has enough money saved up to pay for his own house in cash, and bam, he’s retired by the time he’s 30-35.

It’s pretty simple math. His needs are less than the first writer, so he can save more money per year by living simply. He’s not living poorly, just choosing to define success by a different measure.

As my long-term readers know, I’m an expat, a digital nomad, a location independent international vagabond. I make my home wherever I feel like traveling. Over the past 12 years I’ve seen dozens of countries, and for the past four years I’ve been living abroad in various cities around the world. I have every single amenity I had back when I was living in Greeley, Colorado, but I cut my cost of living down from over $30,000 a year to around $10-12,000 per year, including travel. That’s total expenses per year.

I have air conditioning, high speed Internet, high definition television, fully furnished apartments, world class medical coverage and I live an upper middle class existence on a fraction of what it costs to do so back in the United States. For example, my apartment in Bogota, Colombia is in the Chapinero district, near the Lourdes church, smack-dab in the heart of downtown. I pay around $325 per month for a fully furnished apartment with all utilities included, and I pay around $400 per month for my total other expenses, including food and entertainment. That’s around 700 per month, maybe 800 if I’m pushing it and spending a lot on wine.

That’s right. $800 per month in total expenses.

How much are you paying where you live?

Now ask yourself: do you really need to be living where you are now, or do you simply want to be living where you live now? Are you tired of the cost of living? Wish you had more free time? Dream of a time when you could work 3-4 hours per day and still make enough money to live like a king, plus put money in the savings every month? Find yourself struggling month after month to barely find the funds to put food on the table for you and yours? Contemplating financial aid from the government because you just simply don’t have enough money to make ends meet?

In times of economic crisis, those of us who are freelancing have it easy in the sense that we can pack up and go wherever we want. As long as we have a laptop and the Internet, our livelihoods are taken care of. And for those of you who might be struggling with the weight of it all, wishing and hoping and praying for a way out, you might want to consider the lifestyle of a digital nomad. You can have all of the things you have back home at a fraction of the price, plus you can explore exotic cultures and experience places around the world that most people only dream about or barely get to taste on their two weeks of vacation per year.

But don’t take my word for it. Just do a random search on expat living, digital nomads, location independent travelers, or international vagabonds. You’ll see that there are more and more people out there trading the needs they were told they had to have in exchange for the things in life they really want. You can also check out my digital nomad website, Marginal Boundaries, for more information on how I do what I do, and why you should consider it as well.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

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

Surviving as a Freelance Writer in an Era of Digital and Social Media ‘Overwhelm’

Surviving as a Freelance Writer in an Era of Digital and Social Media ‘Overwhelm’

 By Robin Elizabeth Margolis

Are you an overwhelmed freelance writer in the digital era? Baffled by the flood of advice on how to be a successful online writer flooding your email inbox? Feel like much of the incoming information reads something like this: “You Must Learn New Technology X! and New Social Media Y!  Write for Online Writing Market Z! Or You’ll Never Sell an Article or Book in this Town Again! You’ll Starve If You Don’t Follow Our Advice! And Our Advice Changes Every Month!”

If you are a freelance writer suffering from digital and social media ‘overwhelm’, you have lots of company. I manage two writers groups on Linkedin.com – “Freelance Writers Working for Internet Content Mills” and the “Spirituality Writers Network” – and participate in several other Linkedin writers groups. Many writers and editors in those groups have been ejected from financially comfy journalism nests in the print media within the last five years and abruptly transported into a frightening new online writing future where they believe that they will have to fight for pennies per word for the rest of their lives.

In their laments they resemble the protagonists in science fiction stories who accidentally stumble into one of those ever-popular “gaps in the space-time continuum,” and are abruptly transported hundreds of years into the future only to find themselves lamentably ill-equipped to survive in the year 2315.

Here are some thoughts about how to survive and prosper in the new era, gleaned from listening to many writers who are slowly coming to grips with writing online and managing multiple social media outlets.

1. You don’t have to sign up for every single new online writing market, digital technology or social media program. Honest. It will do you more harm than good by exhausting you and splitting your attention among too many new learning curves.

 2. Don’t be an early adopter of new technology and social media. Be a little skeptical. Let other writers try out new niches and ideas, and ask them about their experiences. Twitter, for example, is widely and deservedly praised, but it is used by only a tiny minority, according to Business Insider.

3. Find out which new digital writing markets and social media have worked for writers in your specialties. Rather than indiscriminately latching onto every new fad, ask other writers and editors which Great New Things work to make money in your fields. Publicity is not enough – are they getting actual article assignments and book sales out of their new Google+ circle?

4. Try selling to a different online writing market every few weeks. Learn one social media program and make it work for you before acquiring another one.  If you want to make money writing in a blog, read books and websites about how to make money blogging, research other writers’ blogs and then set up your blog. Take one step at a time.

5. If an online writing market or social media program is not working for you, drop it.  Facebook works great for some writers and drives other writers crazy. There is no law saying that you have to sign up for it.

6. You can write for both print media markets and the new online markets.  Many writers appear to believe that there is an “either/or” choice that they must make, and have split into warring camps of traditionalist print writers and online or digital content writers. Remember, money for writing is money, no matter how you earn it.

7. Don’t let anyone make you ashamed of your choices. If you are now writing for content mills at lower rates than you were paid by the print media, ignore the catcalls of some traditionalist writers, who feel that you are lowering their payments and ruining the writing profession by accepting less money. You have to pay for your groceries, not them. Eventually, you’ll learn how to milk online writing markets in the same way you learned to get higher-paying print media payments: through careful study of your markets.

8. Review the examples of writers who have “made it” writing for the new online writing markets. These writers are not shy. They offer blogs, ebooks, webinars, and email newsletters. Take advantage of the wealth of material in a selective manner.  Whose advice resonates with your particular writing career? Subscribe to those writers’ blogs and buy their ebooks.

 9. You cannot be everything to everyone. The writers who advise adopting massive amounts of new digital technology and social media programs are like the statues of multi-armed Hindu gods. They sell their services by becoming experts in everything new. You only need to find a few ways of selling your services.

10. Be patient with your panic, but don’t let it rule you.  Of course you are nostalgic for the days when you had a clear pathway. You bought a copy of “Writer’s Markets,” subscribed to “Writer’s Digest,” you sent editors your typed query letters, and, ideally, you got a steady flow of writing assignments. Remember waiting for editors’ replies by postal mail?

Now you turn to online writing venues, many of which have been in existence less than 15 minutes, and all the rules have changed. Some online writing markets want your resume and writing clips, and others simply add you to a stable of writers and let you compete against them. Payment methods vary from cash per article sent to you through Paypal to “pay per view” formulas more complicated than calculus equations.

It can be scary, but if you are patient, you’ll figure out how to get the maximum amount of money from the new online writing markets, just as you figured out how to extract money from the old print media markets.

You weren’t born knowing how to succeed in writing for the print media. You acquired your skills through a long process of studying writing techniques and writing markets. Treat your transition to online writing in the same way.

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Robin Elizabeth Margolis is a freelance writer in the Washington, D.C., area. She has been writing about health care, science, nutrition, fitness and law since 1988, and served as the editor of a health law newsletter. Margolis holds a Bachelor of Arts in biology, a master’s degree in counseling and a paralegal certificate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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

Claiming Your Incidental Role in Social Media Marketing

This is the first in a series of guest blog posts by other writers for the months of June, July and August. This first entry is written by Joy Lynskey. Check out her bio at the bottom of the article for more information as well as links back to her website.

 

Even if your professional writing career is limited to a particular niche or topic, there is one simple fact that outlines what most clients are looking for when they search for a freelance writer. These days, many who may have previously sought out content creation services to fill blog pages or web content alone are now looking for something different altogether.

They are not looking for writing services as much as they are looking for assistance with some element of social media. Social media can encompass many elements of a freelance writers workload.

  • Blogging
  • Website Content
  • Question and Answers Posting
  • Facebook Fan page or Twitter Management
  • Content Creation
  • Crowdsourcing

Are businesses looking to the wrong crowd to launch or manage their social media campaigns? Are freelance writers cutting their own salaries by having little more than a working familiarity with all methods of social media marketing?

Highly likely.

Why Are Writers Chosen for These Roles?

Because they are lucky? Although that would be the easy answer, it’s not exactly true. As a matter of fact, for those freelance writers who have not delved deeply into social media rudiments, it may seem just another ‘topic’ with a bunch of unlucky research requirements. However, if you consider that the average social media marketer now makes around $55,000 per year, it may seem quite lucky indeed.

As so many critical elements of social media are directly related to content, it is actually not a bad idea to seek out a writer to work up their tweets, blogs, or website text. In fact, you have likely heard many clients refer to ways in which your content will be filtered to or through a social media site here and there.

It is even highly common for businesses to pay a writer to create interesting–and of course grammatically correct–tweets, or question and answers postings, only to have another employee implement them on the proper sites. Employers who can find one person to handle this dual task efficiently are almost always more than willing to do so.

Market Your Social Media Knowledge

First and foremost, as any good freelance writer knows, you will need to have at least one (but preferably several) posts on a topic you are advertising your knowledge of. Just as with any other job, the more references or links you can provide to support your understanding, the more influence you may have on a clients list of prospective employees.

To get started, try out a social media tool or two, such as EmpireAvenue. This unusual social media tool is also a game that simulates the NYSE in buying and trading of shares. These shares are not of businesses, but of people. EmpireAvenue also has a very large and active community of writers.

Participation is fun, and the social media management tool options can take mundane task and make them interesting by urging personal goals such as Facebook posts, and rewarding for small achievements. While you are having all of this fun, you are building your clout in the social media world on the shortlist of social networking sites.

You are also building your knowledge base for your first social media post. Hopefully you are familiar enough with some of the more popular web 2.0 sites that came through the Google Panda algorithm change unscathed and are now ready to make your first knowledgeable post on an important social media subject, management. Challenge yourself further by continually SEO tweaking and updating your post until it reaches the top of a Google search result. It is not as hard as you may think if you are providing high-quality, informative, and error-free content.

Increasing Social Media Awareness

If you are ready to reach far beyond what Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube have to offer, there are many extremely handy tools that your writing career can benefit from.

  • Get hooked up with Alternion. Do not wait. I began working with this tool when it was in its beta stage, and I know that as I was logging in, with its easy integration, options and over 250 social media networks and aggregates, that I must have said, “no way!” and “whaaaat?,” at least thirty times, all in a highly optimistic manner.

It is much easier to list what Alternion will not do for your social media campaign than what it will do. It will not force you to use more than one program no matter which social media tools you prefer, ever. That’s all. The rest is covered.

  • Use social media influence measurement tools like Klout or PeerIndex. Although Klout will provide a more in depth look at what you are influential about on your social media networks, you do have to log in and integrate to utilize their tool. PeerIndex also requires initial log-in but a quick widget placed in your toolbar will then allow you to see immediately the overall influence any social media user has, even if you aren’t on a social media site, by highlighting their Peer Influence next to their name.

Keeping an active measure of your social media success will help to steer your own social networking knowledge in the right direction, and subsequently, those of your future clients.

 

About Joy Lynskey

Full-Time Freelance Writer and Editor for Puglisi Consulting Group, Joy Lynskey specializes in Technology, SEM, SMM, and other elements of Internet Marketing. Additionally, she provides regular freelance writer education updates and tools to her viewers on JRL Solutions Blog.

 

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

Looking for guest bloggers

I’m currently looking for guest bloggers for the months of June, July and August while I’m in Bogota, and I’m wanting to expand my network and start bringing on regular guest bloggers and help create additional opportunities for fellow scribes, as well as spark creativity and inspiration for readers and writers from around the world.

Here’s the criteria:

  • Posts will need to be between 500 and 1000 words. Can be longer if you want, but that’s entirely up to you.
  • Posts must be about freelance writing in the digital format. CWS is keen on sustainability and living green, and print-based media is anything but conscientious about the environment or the impact of wasting natural resources. Digital and online is the focus here.
  • Posts can be about anything related to freelance writing and making a living at this. Originality is key. I’m not interested in publishing more posts on “how to create niche sites” or “how to write an eBook” or “how to write a cover letter” or “how to sell yourself to clients”. Think outside of the box. Think about things like The Myth of Artistic Integrity or learning a second language so you can write translated material, or living in a foreign city to find inspiration for your writing, or the importance of shared information, such as with Knowledge is Power, and how Wikipedia is not only a valid source of information for writers, but a superior source because it focuses on the entire human race having access to knowledge, not just an elite few who control what everyone else thinks and sees. Words have been around for thousands of years, and our job as writers is to use words to saturate the world with knowledge…and make a buck in the meantime.
  • Guest posters need to be “qualified” professionals in their field. My criteria for this is pretty simple. If you are someone who makes at least $2,500 a month at this job, you are what I consider qualified enough for this guest posting position. I mean no disrespect to part-time bloggers or part-time writers. It is simply that the goal of these guests posts is to provide accurate, proven advice, methods and tips to freelancer writers from people who are actually doing this for a living, not just as a hobby or a part-time gig while still working their day job. If you are someone who writes for a living and makes a decent wage at it, here’s an opportunity to spread the word. Whether or not you have a degree isn’t important…just that you are someone with a track record of proven success.
  • Focus on ideas that combine making money with living and working in the modern era where digital information has fostered the rise of self-taught professors, writers, artists and beyond on a scale that prior to the Internet was nothing more than a dream. Or something like that :) Be creative in your pitches!
  • You must have a PayPal account. No checks, no money orders, no bank transfers; PayPal only.
  • You can include backlinks and a website address in your post. Part of this project is promoting growth between writing communities, and I want the guest bloggers writing here to know that I fully support and encourage you promoting your business, your products and your contributions to the writing community as a whole.

Presently, I’m thinking of doing 10-12 guest posts/interviews from 10-12 different writers between June, July and August. Here’s how you can go about signing up:

  • Send an email to queries@completewritingsolutions.com
  • Pitch me your idea for a guest post.
  • Include a link to your website, your products, your blog, whatever.
  • While a resume isn’t important, I’d love to see some of your previous, published work. Send me a few links to places where your work can be found, outside of your own blog/products. If you feel like sending your resume, go for it; it won’t count for or against you.
  • Tell me about yourself. Sell me on why I should pick you above anyone else for these guest blog positions. I’m very keen on meeting like-minded people and helping stimulate growth between our respective communities, so if you haven’t already, browse through the backlog of posts here to get an idea of what I focus on with my freelance writing tips and ideas for other writers.
  • Let me know if you are up for an interview along with your blog post/newsletter post.

The pay is $25 per blog post, and each guest blogger will also receive a free copy of Content Writing 101: How to make a minimum of $50 per hour writing for content mills (a value of $29.99). Your posts will either be placed directly on the website or in our newsletter, which comes out twice a month. In addition, certain guest bloggers will be invited to do an interview for the newsletter.

Once you’ve sent me an email, kick back and wait. I’ll try my hardest to answer each and every email that comes in.

In the meantime, stay tuned over at our Facebook page for more updates in the coming weeks!

 

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

Tuesday, May 10th Update

While I normally post every 2-3 days to keep a regular round of freelance writing tips going through the blog for my readers, I’ve been busy the last week or so producing a five part series of YouTube videos centered around my Content Writing 101 project, showing people how to make a minimum of $50 per hour writing for content mills. The reason for this was because in order to build up a brand you need to build up trust with your readers and customers, and the best way of doing that is showing people that you can put your money where your mouth is and actually do the things you are claiming anyone can do if they use your product.

With that in mind, while Episode 1 went live last week, all of the articles in question for this particular project have now passed through editing and are making their way live. As their live addresses are made public, I’m updating each episode and uploading them to YouTube. Episodes 2, 3 and 4 will be made available publicly on the Complete Writing Solutions YouTube channel this week, while Episode 5 will remain private as a special treat for those of you who have purchased the eBook, as a way of showing you some more of the advanced methods talked about within the program and enhancing the overall value to those of you who have chosen to move your careers to the next level.

If you are a long-time reader you already know what to expect, but if you are someone who has stumbled upon my blog for the first time, here’s what the videos entail:

  • Episode I features edited footage of me writing 4 articles in 50 minutes for Demand Studios, one of the leading content mills on the market today, for $60 dollars. I talk about some of the behind-the-scenes things that go into the crafting of the articles, such as disclaimers, templates and a few generalized tips and tricks to keep your numbers as high as possible.
  • Episode II is similar to Episode I in that it features edited footage of me writing 4 articles in 56 minutes with Demand Studios. I delve into some more of the behind-the-scenes action, once again clearing $60 in an hour.
  • Episode III focuses on me writing another 4 articles for Demand Studios. In this episode, you can follow along for an entire hour’s worth of non-edited footage. I show you the references I use for the articles, I show you the captioning and keywording and editing and plag-checking process, as well as in-the-moment writing of the articles. This episode was 4 articles in 58 minutes.
  • Episode IV is a repeat of Episode III, but instead of me writing articles that were already in my queue, I go into the live “Find Assignments” pool at Demand Studios and pull four articles in the moment, then write them within a total of 52 minutes. Two are within some of my niches, while the other two were articles on which I have no previous knowledge or expertise. Once again, $60 in less than one hour, and you can follow along for the entire hour’s worth of non-edited footage.

I’m filming Episode V tonight, which showcases several of the advanced strategies I talk about within the book, which have nothing to do with the generalized methods I talk about in Episodes I-IV. It will be uploaded to YouTube as a private episode only viewable by those of you who have purchased the eBook and follow the link contained within to see some in-the-moment footage of what actually goes on with some of the advanced strategies within the Content Writing 101 eBook, such as niches-of-the-moment, utilizing a non-Demand Studios source to show you how to repeat this success at any place, regardless of where you choose to write.

I know how frustrating it can sometimes be writing for content mills. Many people feel trapped because they need money, but they can’t quite figure out how to make content writing work for them. They go in and they plug away writing 4-5 articles a day, taking 30 minutes to 45 minutes per article, or even an hour or more in some cases. And I get it. Even when I first started out, I was only making 20-25 dollars per hour, but over the past few years I’ve refined my methods and learned exactly how to write proficiently for content mills in between my private contract work, and this eBook is my way of giving back to the community of content mill writers out there who are struggling to break out of that 10/15/20/25/30 dollar an hour bracket and move into the big leagues.

As you will clearly see from the Camtasia footage during the video series, I’m doing this on a daily basis. I personally make $60-$80 an hour writing for content mills across the board above and beyond my private contracts, and I take you through every single step from the very beginning where you claim articles, to the actual referencing, researching, keywording, editing, plag-checking and submitting, all the way through to the published pieces that you can easily verify in your chosen browser. You can watch all of the episodes back to back, or you can skip through and watch the segments you think pertain to your own personal needs.

It’s been a lot of fun filming these episodes, and it’s inspired me to do more podcasts, video blogs and diaries, and probably another series of videos down the road for the updated version of the Content Writing 101 eBook. I hope these videos provide you with inspiration to take your content writing for content mills to the next level, and help you transform your time into money. Stay tuned this week as the next 4 episodes are rolled out!

Thanks again for those you who have been following along, and for those of you who are new here, I can’t wait to hear your success stories as you join the brotherhood of content writers for content mills :) Cheers!

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

YouTube Video Challenge

Long story short, yesterday I got into a discussion over at the Demand Studios forums where an individual in question offered to pay for my flight to the Santa Monica (or other, closer headquarters, depending on their personal preference) headquarters for Demand Studios to record video footage of me doing what it is that I claim I do on a regular basis: write 4 articles per hour with Demand Studios (and the equivalent elsewhere). After all, it’s the basis of my Content Writing 101 eBook; showing people how to make a minimum of $50 per hour while writing for content mills. If I complete the challenge, he gives me a $1,000 prize. If I lose the challenge, I give $1,000 to DS’s Write for a Cause charity which donates books to children.

Now, while I’ve already included Camtasia footage of some of the methods described within the book, I started thinking about this in greater detail. You see, I made the comment over there (the Demand Studios forums) that part of my normal routine is sitting down and writing 4 articles for DS (or other content mills) per morning around my cup of coffee. It’s been my routine for quite some time; I generally do my content writing in the early morning hours and my private client work in the later morning hours or the evening hours. Naturally there was an uproar of disbelief from the “world is flat” crowd who believe that it is impossible to create content consistently on such a regular basis. Nevermind the fact that I have 3.5 years of research into my methods and niches and formats used to consistently break the numbers that I do. The only thing that matters to some people is that “it’s impossible”.

With that being said, I accepted after some back-and-forth bantering. However, we are currently waiting to see if Demand Studios is willing to take us up on the offer. A lot of people seem to think the DS higher-ups wouldn’t accept such a challenge, but we will just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, on the off chance that they don’t, I decided it would be beneficial in the first place to go ahead and do my own YouTube video challenge of the same nature: show me putting into practice some of the methods included in the eBook to give people a chance to see things working in the moment rather than waiting until after they make their purchase. And since I know how important trust is to customers putting money on the line for a product, I give you the Complete Writing Solutions YouTube channel. You can either click the link or hit the “Follow Me” tab on the right-hand side of your screen to navigate to the page. While the first few videos are going to be promotional in nature to show people proof positive of me using some of the methods described within the eBook, I’m also going to be using the channel in the future to host podcasts as well as conduct interviews with other professionals in the field.

For now, there’s simply an introductory video up. I apologize for the size of the video; it was recorded on my laptop screen, as I don’t have actual recording equipment right now and decided to create this video on the spur of the moment; gonna have to go out next week and buy a Sony Bloggie. In any case, I’m going to do a 5 part video series to show people exactly how I use some of the methods described within the eBook to reliably break that $50 per hour mark. Specifically, as a result of the challenge that was issued, I’m going to be utilizing Demand Studios for this particular test, although you can easily transfer the results to any type of content mill you work for.

Today I recorded the first episode of the series to some pretty good results. I ended up with 4 articles completed with 10 minutes on the clock. That is, 4 articles written within 50 minutes of time. And that was after a documented mistake that cost me about 5 minutes of time, when I mis-read a title and was forced to back-track and re-write half of an article. Otherwise I probably could have done 5 articles within the alloted time. All of this is documented, with start times, finish times, article titles, content of the article and so on and so forth, and next week after the 4 articles in question have gone live I’ll be releasing the first video to the public on the YouTube channel to begin the nationwide promotion of the eBook starting in May of 2011.

 

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

The Myth of Artistic Integrity

It used to be there were only a few clear-cut paths when it came to writing: journalism,  novel writing, poetry and writing plays. Then came the days of the silent film, and screenplay writing began its first little baby steps. Since silent films relied more upon stories told visually, novel writers were able to successfully write for producers because it was simply adaptations of their literary visions. Dialogue was not as important as the actual story, which was transposed onto the screen.

Then came the talking pictures. Novel writers began to fade back into their own little world and the industry found that screenplays were better written by journalists because they understood how to get the point across to an audience without a lot of flowery script getting in the way. They wrote clear, concise dialogue, because that’s what they were used to doing for their publications in the first place.

The industry continued to evolve. Enter the Internet, and suddenly dozens of branches split off the main trunk of the writing tree, spreading their boughs in all directions. There were no longer just a few branches; there was an entire tree, in full bloom.

These days there are any number of paths to choose from on the highway of writing. You can write screenplays, TV scripts, plays, magazine articles, work as a journalist for any number of publications around the world, write website content for yourself, for a third party, blog, write SEO articles, do rewrites for other companies…the list goes on.

But there are some – we’ll call them the Panicked Writers, or PW for short – who claim that all these various branches are diluting the quality of the written word and stripping the so-called “artistry” from the “craft”.

Let’s analyze this concept for a moment.

There are very few writers in this day and age who write purely for the passion or purely for the “artistic” integrity of a project. Those who do are the writers who never worry about being published. They write in journals, they write in notebooks, they scribble on napkins and they gather in closed circles with others of their ilk, joining in clandestine “writers clubs” to discuss the various weaknesses in plot, progression of characters and strength of dialog. They maybe even write on a blog, purely as a hobby, and purely for their own enjoyment, for the “art” of writing.

Then there are professional writers: those who are writing aside from a real job because they want to see their name in print and enjoy writing enough to earn a little extra cash per month (part-time writers), and those who are writing full-time for a living, making an actual wage, paying the bills and so on and so forth (writers who love their job even more than the part-timers, and have taken their passion and put it to good use).

In the real world, no one writes purely for the “art”. No one writes purely for the “passion”. They write to get paid or to earn a publishing credit, regardless of which branch of the writing tree they have scampered out upon. This is why you continually see rate debates not only in the freelance world, but also from the literary community and the fiction world. Everyone sends in their manuscripts/queries/screenplays/whatever to various publications in an attempt to earn a credit and a paycheck. Everyone wants to get paid for their words. No one in the real world is writing for free. Not a single screenplay writer, author or blogger out there is writing purely for fun. They are all writing for credit in some form or another, as well as justification in the form of a paycheck so they can move on to better, higher-paying gigs.

I am a professional writer. I do this for a living. It pays the bills, pays for my vacations, my hobbies, my investments, my lifestyle and my toys. To me, the most important aspect of my job is to bring a paycheck home so that I can put a roof over my family’s head and food on their table. Period. There is no other reason why I work. Period.

Now, I love the written word. I’ve been chewing through novels and stories since I was a child, and I knew from the time I was still in my single digits that I wanted to be a writer. But here’s the thing: I don’t believe in artistic integrity. I don’t believe that writing has a “soul”, nor do I believe that there is anything to be diluted. There are only the needs of the audience or the needs of the client. In your quest to appease either the audience or the client you are going to be writing in a specific way to earn a paycheck and please the editors + readers. If this wasn’t true you wouldn’t be sending your work in for editors to look at and hopefully publish. You wouldn’t be querying, cold-calling, sending in manuscripts to various publications and waiting with baited breath for an acceptance. You would simply be writing in a journal for your own personal enjoyment, for your own artistic satisfaction.

Many of the artistic crowd claim that the Internet, and the rise of web content, has killed their baby, the written word. I disagree. The Internet didn’t kill the “art” of writing. The fact of the matter is plain and simple: artistic integrity is a lie. It doesn’t exist. It is a myth. It never actually existed in the first place.

Now before you jump down my throat, actually look at the facts. Everyone wants to get paid for their time. Period. No one writes for free (or at least no one wants to write for free, thus the rate debate across the highways of writing and the continual attempts to get published and earn some form of credit and recognition). If artistic integrity was so all-important, there would be far more people writing purely for the “art” of writing, for the sake of writing the “perfect” prose, the “perfect” line of poetry, the “perfect” screenplay, the perfect sense of self-indulgence (which is all artistic integrity really is) and not giving two shakes about whether or not they are earning a byline or a paycheck for their time. They would be writing purely for the pleasure.

So now that we’ve gotten the fact that everyone wants to make money (or earn a byline/credit) out of the way, we can move on.

The long and short of the reality of writing is this: at the end of the day each and every one of us who is writing for a living is doing so at the whim of one person and one person only: the client/customer. Their vision, their concept, their ideas, are the only ones that matter. Why? Because they are the ones writing the paycheck or giving us the byline/credit.

The client is interested in one thing: a product. Each client is different; each is unique. Each client has a different view on what they think is best for their business. Some want straight-forward content, some want rewritten Wiki content to simply flesh out their pages and to hell with the quality as long as it passes Copyscape, while others want SEO, which in some cases can read like it was chopped up in a meat-grinder before being hosted on the website if keyword padding is the only thing the client is after. Keyword density with some articles is so heavy that the articles read less like an actual article and more like exactly what they are…keyword-padded chunks of text. But, be that as it may, it is still a product that relies on the written word, which means it is technically still an aspect of writing. And since there is still an audience for it (see clients) then it still falls under the banner of actual, breathing words.

Anyone who works with the written word has the right to call themselves a writer. That means the guy writing keyword-heavy SEO articles has must as much right to call himself a writer as someone writing for The New York Times or some other publication. Both are working with the written word, and both are making a paycheck for their time.

So is there really any difference in the writer working on SEO and the writer who is authoring poetry or stories, or the more “artsy” projects?

Not in the least.

Which brings me to the crux of this article: should you be worrying about the PW (Panicked Writer) who claims you have no artistic integrity and are stripping the soul away from writing with your SEO content and other non-flowery-prose articles? Are you selling your artistic soul, or are you simply doing what every human being on the planet does: performing a task to earn a nut, which in turn provides for you and yours.

Let’s be realistic. Artistic integrity doesn’t put food on the table. It doesn’t pay the bills. It doesn’t provide for vacations and insurance and necessities. Artistic integrity is nothing more than a warm fuzzy feeling that rests within your stomach, letting you know that what you wrote stirred some emotional response from the readers, or was in some way “beautiful”. Sure, it’s a nice feeling, but does it provide an actual, tangible side-effect that you can use to make your way through life? Does it keep the lights burning bright, the heat on in the winter, gas in the vehicle and food on the table? Does artistic integrity pay for your children’s doctor bills when they are sick? Does it pay for your health insurance, your emergency surgeries or your retirement?

Most of you (the readers who follow this blog) are professional writers in some way, and most of you understand that there is only one thing that really matters: the needs of your client. Clients are what pays the bills. Not flowery script (unless that’s what your client is after) meant to provoke an emotional response in readers. Clients want to know that you can deliver exactly what they want, when they want it, for a price they find affordable. That is your job. It doesn’t matter if you are writing SEO, rewrites off a web page or Wiki, health articles, golf articles, overviews on how to get rid of fleas for dogs, how to boil an egg, the airspeed velocity of a laden swallow, or how many pickles can you eat in an hour.

Your job is to sell yourself.  The most important thing any client wants to know about you is whether or not you can give them what they are paying for the first time around. That’s how you earn your paycheck. Clients want consummate professionals who put one thing ahead of anything else: delivery of a superior quality product on time, every time.

The value of the written word is purely dependent upon the audience. For some, artistic integrity is in SEO. For others, it is articles on how to boil eggs. For others it is a literary piece. Some prefer political essays or writing plays and films, while others prefer crafting science fiction. Each individual determines for themselves the value of the written word. For others, it is the perfect dialog and scene progression for a film or TV show.

Another way to think of it is the way that Stephen King referred to talent in his On Writing book. “If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.”

The next time a PW or any other critic tries to tell you that what you do for a living is somehow less than artistic, pay them no mind. Instead, look at your paycheck. That, in and of itself, is more than enough proof to the entire world that you are a professional who is writing for a living. That, and that alone, determines your reality. It doesn’t matter if some random individual on the Internet thinks you are stripping the value away from the written word; they are wrong. The artistic value of the project is directly related to your client and/or fan’s happiness with the end result. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

Or in this case, your bank account.

 

 

This post is actually a revised version of a blog post I wrote back in April of 2010, roughly one year ago. For the original version, you can go here.

 

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

Breaking 100k a year writing for content mills: fact or fiction?

Couple of years back I remember stumbling across this gem over at the Freelance Writing Jobs website. The crux of the story is quite simple, really. Two writers from opposite ends of the spectrum made a bet: a traditional journalist who viewed content mills as the “scourge of the writing industry” bet a counterpart working for content mills as to who would make more money in 2009. The trade writer (journalist) assumed that she would make more because she viewed content mills as “low paying havens” for “no talent writers”.

At the end of the year the content mill writer made $52,000 dollars while the trade publication writer working as a journalist only made $37,000 dollars. The response of the journalist? “Well, it doesn’t really matter that you made more money than me. That wasn’t the point. The point is that content mills aren’t good places to work, because the quality of their content is far below mine.”

I’m paraphrasing a little here, as you can see from reading the original post, but here’s the concept I want to drive home to you:

Content writing for content mills is not low paying, nor is it demeaning. Anyone trying to tell you otherwise is simply jealous of your profits, doesn’t understand how to write for content mills, and/or is terrified that the new model is shutting down the old way of doing things.

I actually talked about this in greater detail two years ago in E-Envy, delving into the real reasons why so many writers of yesteryear are in a panic over content mills and a new way of doing things, but the cold hard truth is that when it comes right down to it, it has nothing to do with the quality of writing. Artistic integrity is great, but it doesn’t pay the bills, and any level-headed, sane individual out there realizes that at the end of the day the only thing that really matters is putting food on the table for you and yours, and when you look at the vast amount of content being pushed out by content mills, sure; it’s fast food content meant for a fast food generation. But it’s never going to truly replace journalism or “gourmet” content; it’s simply one of many, many ways to make a check as a writer.

The Reality of Content Mills

For those of you who have purchased my Content Writing 101: How to make a minimum of $50 per hour writing for content mills, or who have already been breaking that sweet spot on your own, you already know the truth behind content mills: they are in no way, shape or form low paying havens for no talent hack writers. For those of you who haven’t purchased your copy yet, now is the perfect time to get on the bandwagon and start making a minimum of $50 per hour writing for content mills, transforming your famine cycles into history.

Around the same time that article came out, I wrote a post about breaking 100k a year writing for content mills. It’s been about a year and a half since then, and I’ve written a lot more content for content mills, and over the time since I initially wrote that post I’ve only found my beliefs strengthened given my continual results, day in and day out, when utilizing content mills as part of my everyday routine.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”~ Steve Jobs

The key to being successful writing for content mills is to ignore the naysayers and focus on one thing: success. Treat it like any other business venture, with seriousness. If you walk into writing for content mills and only do it a couple hours here and there, in your spare time, or as a hobby, and you never take it seriously, you will never see serious results. But if you walk in there like the champion that you are, grab it by the horns and dominate it from the very moment you arrive, you are sure to see numbers that others can only dream about.

Buy Now

Some Simple Math

Let’s assume, for a moment, that you are the Regular, Everyday Normal Guy (WARNING: ADULT LYRICS).

You work a traditional 9-to-5 job, or you are already a writer working freelance. You are part of the average median in the United States. According to the Census.gov PDF for 2009, the 2009 median earnings of all working men aged 15 and older, regardless of work experience, was $36,331. Divided against 52 weeks in a year that comes out to $698.7 per week, or  $17.5 per hour. That’s the average median income. Some make more, some make less; this is the average.

$17.5 an hour. That’s down from $18.5 an hour in 2008, and $22 an hour back in 2006. But I digress. The point here is that this is the gross hourly median income across the United States. 36k a year, or 17.5 dollars per hour, working a traditional 9-t0-5 job where you put in 40 hours a week.

Now, taking the methods described within my eBook, you can easily break $50 per hour writing for content mills. Let’s do some more simple math, shall we? $50 per hour @ 40 hours per week is $2,000 per week. That’s $8,000 per month, or $96,000 per year. If you look back to my Content Writing Experiment from 2010, you will see that I averaged out at $53 per hour using several different mills combined. Using a 40 hour work week example, that comes out to $101,760 dollars in a year.

That’s over 100k in a year, writing only for content mills using the methods described within my eBook. But in order to hit that number you have to treat writing for content mills just like you would treat any other job: seriously. If you aren’t willing to work 40 hour work weeks, you won’t break 100k a year.

Therein Lies the Rub

Let’s be honest. Working a 40 hour work week is a pain in the ass. I sure as hell don’t work those kind of hours, and I haven’t since I last worked in construction back in 2007. Since then, I’ve transitioned into a location independent digital nomad who uses countries and cities around the world as my bases of operations, taking advantage of a drastically lowered cost of living in comparison to what most people in the United States have to deal with on a daily basis. What this translates to for me is the simple fact that I don’t have to work 40 hour work weeks in order to live like a king. In fact, my average work day is 2-3 hours, 4 at most, depending on the project I’m working on and how motivated I am by additional wants. My average cost of living and how I do what I do is something I talk about more at Marginal Boundaries, but suffice to say, I’m debt free and I don’t need 2-3k a month to cover my basic costs.

But here’s the thing: look at any traditional job and what do you see? A person sitting behind a desk working the same 9-to-5 shift day in and day out, repeating the exact same routine over and over and over and over and over. Yet they are doing it for a paltry $17.5 per hour, according to the U.S. Government. Why would anyone in their right mind want to do something like that for a meager 17 dollars an hour? But doing it for $50 an hour (minimum)? That’s a whole ‘nother story!

Money is a motivating factor for all of us. How much motivation we have dictates how many hours in the office we spend. Our goals, dreams, bills and otherwise all work towards coercing us to remain in the office for X amount of hours per day. If you were to take the same amount of discipline you apply to your 9-to-5 job now and transfer that over to a job where you make $50+ per hour, breaking 100k in a year becomes not only a possibility, but also a realistic goal.

However, it does take considerable dedication to be willing to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day and reliably crank out the amount of content required to be that profitable. Not to mention constitution. But when the motivation is your family, your dreams, your goals and your freedom, I think dedication and seriousness is a small price to pay for being able to break 100k in a year without ever needing a college education, a degree or any previous writing experience.

The short answer to anyone who claims that writing for content mills is low paying or demeaning is this: you must be joking, right? After all, there are thousands of writers out there who are making bank working for content mills, and they are absolutely viable as one of the many, many ways you can make a great paycheck writing around the world, and as long as you take it seriously and are willing to put forth the same time and effort you put into your traditional 9-to-5, the profits are waiting for you.

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

The Myth of Feast or Famine

First of all, I want to thank all of you who have taken the first step towards furthering your career through the purchase of our Content Writing 101 eBook, showcasing explicit details on how to break $50 per hour while writing for content mills. I’ve been receiving some great feedback from those readers who have already finished the book, and I’m eager to hear more success stories in the coming weeks and months ahead.

With that in mind, I’d like to talk about something that most freelancers think is a part of being self-employed: feast or famine.

Feast or famine is a term used to describe the peaks and valleys of being self employed. The old saying goes that if you are someone who works for yourself, you never turn down work; instead, you outsource when you have an overload. The reason for this is simple: once you say no to a client, the chances of them being willing to come to you in the future with additional progress decreases, and for those of us who happen to work in this field we all know that the more chances to make money = the more chances we have of avoiding that nasty “famine” phase of writing.

The famine phase is fairly self-explanatory. It’s the time between large projects when things are a bit lean and you end up pinching pennies to make sure you don’t tap into the savings while you wait for the next client. But is the feast and famine cycle really something that is a part of freelance writing?

The Myth of Feast or Famine

The reality is that the feast or famine cycle is largely a myth, at least in my opinion. The reason I say this is simple: with a global pool of opportunities and the Internet at your disposal, there is really no reason on the face of this planet why you should be suffering from a famine cycle in your career.

The biggest mistake people make when it comes to this career is ignoring possibilities. Which is exactly why I promote writing for content mills along with all of the traditional forms of writing, such as cold-calling, querying, writing for print, writing short stories and so on and so forth. You see, content mills are yet another source of income for people, right up there with residual sales from self-published informational products, and as anyone who has been in this career for the long haul understands, additional sources of income are vitally important in terms of self-sustainability. After all, you never know when one revenue stream might dry up, and with so many changes happening across the writing industry on a day-to-day basis, it’s really in your best interest to have as many options as possible set up so that you can keep on bringing in income should one of those revenue streams dry up.

However, there is also a kernel of truth behind the warning to not stretch yourself too thin. Multiple revenue streams can be a good thing, but having too many going at the same time that require your attention can mean less time writing and more time overseeing the day-to-day operations of the various streams, which can be a distraction and eventually lead to revenue loss. But there are some revenue streams which have a guaranteed outcome, and when you can relax in the certainty of a fast, fat paycheck, would you really want to pass that type of income stream up?

As for myself, I have three different revenue streams: residuals from the various informational products I sell; content writing income; and private client income. I plan on setting up two more additional revenue streams this year that actually have nothing to do with my current career. One of the benefits of living and exploring various countries around the world is finding great deals on real estate and setting up rental properties, which is something I’ve been investigating for the past 4 years and am finally getting around to actually doing now that I have my nest egg ready to hatch.

Why You Should Consider Content Mills

As anyone who has followed my website for a length of time knows, I’m one of those who actually supports content writing for content mills. Why? Because I firmly believe in the age-old saying of “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. As such, I have established multiple streams of revenue through my writing efforts. I don’t believe there is only one way to success in this career, and anyone who tells you such is lying. There is never only one way of doing things in any career. Innovation being what it is, everyone can find new ways of doing things, especially in a day and age when the sharing and selling of information has become so readily accessible for people around the globe.

The reason content mills are so important is that they are yet another method of avoiding famine cycles in your writing career. Regardless of who you are, at some point in your career there have been slow times. Times when you started to cringe when the utility bill was due, times when you were clipping every coupon you came across, times when you avoided going out so you could make sure you didn’t tap into your savings. But those times are long gone, nothing more than a remnant of a tired past that has faded into antiquity.

You see, content mills can be used to your advantage, especially when you know that you can walk into many of them and make a minimum of $50 per hour without any previous writing experience. While you can choose to work primarily for them, you can also choose to balance them with your other revenue streams, much like myself and others do on a regular basis. And while you can choose to ignore them if you have other options already in place, for many people content mills provide a way to bridge the gap between slow times, effectively eliminating the famine cycle of a career and keeping you in the driver’s seat for the entire duration.

In uncertain economic times, don’t you think having more than one option for revenue is a good thing? I know I do, and with four years running in my career and no dry spells yet, I can say without a doubt that content mills have certainly provided me with a way around famine cycles, especially in light of the types of profits I’ve made from them in the past few years. I’m certain they can do the same for you.

So put aside those worries and fears about longevity and sustainability. Stop stressing over the utility bill or whether you have enough money to take your significant other out for a date or your kids on an adventure. Strap on your content writing boots and discover an alternative way to bring income in, keeping your pocketbook full and your hopes and aspirations both achievable and enjoyable at the same time.

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




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