Driving a Porsche…from your eHow earnings.

Everyone likes nice things. Some people enjoy leather furniture. Others crave an expensive kitchen with a professional oven. Some might want a personal wine cellar, while others might want to drive a fancy car, like a Porsche, or an Aston Martin. I enjoy traveling, as does my wife. We take close to half a dozen trips per year throughout Europe, and I have a pretty healthy wine hobby, not to mention the video game side of me that requires plenty of high def, big screens, and gaming rigs.

What many people don’t know is that you can have all of these…simply writing for eHow.

I’m sure at this point many of the “veteran” writers in the crowd are shaking their heads no, claiming that it’s impossible, because they haven’t been able to do it. Something you will see a lot of at Complete Writing Solutions (if you haven’t already) is proving the impossible to be possible. I have a very “Richard Branson” look on life, which is setting goals for myself that seem insurmountable to others, and consequently becoming addicted to the feeling of gratification I get when I’ve overcome those supposedly insurmountable odds. It’s a rush.

Now, before I get started, I need to give credit where credit is due. I stumbled across his blog a few months back and I can honestly say his approach is something that has inspired our direction for 2010. His name is Pat, and he is the owner of the Smart Passive Income blog. His website is all about showing people how to make smart, passive income. If you read his annual report for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, the guy cleared $203,000 in gross income from simply selling an e-book…all for an initial investment of around 200 USD. He’s 26 years old, and a brilliant marketing genius who completely understands the concept of digitalization (selling a product entirely online in the digital world), something I talk about a lot here at Complete Writing Solutions.

The beauty of Pat’s site is that he gives away all of his information for free. If you take the time to read his blog he discusses the reasoning behind this, because while he isn’t making enough money to give to charity, he feels that giving away his marketing strategies for free is a way to help give back to the community. And considering the amount of income his affiliates make from affiliate earnings, I’d say he’s giving back plenty!

Pat is really good about showing proof of his income. It’s something I’ve been inspired to do, and something you will see incorporated in 2010 when we start showing our income breakdown. That’s neither here nor there, however. I wanted to give you a basis for understanding where the concept of this article came from. The inspiration, as it were.

I have not personally written for eHow, although I have articles up on their site published through Demand Studios. I did not write residual articles, but rather focused on up-front payouts. However, I looked at the math over at Pat’s page on eHow earnings and considering how much I love to put together the numbers to prove people wrong when they talk about how these markets are supposedly low-paying (for example, showing how you could make over 100k a year writing for content sites; if you’ve followed my posts for any length of time you’ll see it’s rather an addiction I have, proving people wrong with math), I had to nod my head and go “Hot damn, here’s someone who gets it.”

Looking at the math on his site, if you were to write 150 articles per month for 9 months you could earn (according to the numbers in his equation, which are not definite; please pay attention to the variables which could sway the number up or down) over 14,000 dollars in residual income over the next year after you stopped writing.

While $14,000 doesn’t sound like a lot up front, you have to look at the broader scope. That’s a car payment for the entire year. Your mortgage. Several nice vacations with the family. A new room addition to your house. A remodeling project to renovate your kitchen. A omfg-blow-your-mind home theater system that will have the neighbours for 5 miles in every direction jealous. And it takes almost no time to write those 150 articles a month. Why?

Because you are living in the age of globalization. There are literally thousands of niches that people are writing in, and thousands of niches that people want to read about on a global basis. It could be something as mundane as how to get stains out of a toilet bowl or something as off-the-wall as how to make a wig out of camel hair, but at the end of the day someone out there in the great big ol’ world is going to want to read your article. And if you understand SEO and know how to pad the articles properly there is a veritable boat-load of cash just waiting for you to claim.

Writing in a niche is wonderful because it takes literally no time. Your niches do not require research; you know the topics intimately. You are capable of sitting down and literally writing five niche articles in an hour or two. What that means is that you can easily sit down every day and write 5 little niche articles in your spare time.

The beauty about residual income is that it is the gift which keeps on giving. However, you need to understand that the initial groundwork still has to be laid, and you are still going to have to put some effort into getting that residual income flowing. Writing is not a get-rich-quick industry, but it is incredibly lucrative when you factor in the thousands of niches that are available for you to write about.

The easiest way to start is simply take your favorite hobbies and write about them. These are already something you are extremely passionate about, so it’s going to be a fun project for you to work on in your one or two spare hours of time every day. And as long as you are dedicated to it and write at least 5 articles a night, you could see the same kind of numbers (or even better!) that Pat posted on his website, which means you could see yourself sitting with an extra 15 grand or so in your pocket next year from doing nothing more than writing about something you were passionate about in the first place! Not only are you having fun, but you are making money having fun, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

There is no such thing as low-paying in today’s markets, people. Everything is relative. When you look at the earnings from places like eHow and Demand Studios they might look small up close, but when you take a step back and look at the potential over the course of an entire year, the results are fairly staggering. 14-15k a year from residual, and 100k a year from an 8 hour a day job? I certainly don’t consider either of those low-paying in the least.

So get out there and start writing in your niche today. You could find yourself with a brand new shiny (insert favorite thing here) next year, purely from spending an hour or two every day writing about something you were passionate about in the first place.

(I am not affiliated with eHow or the Smart Passive Income blog in any way, shape, or form. I am simply someone who enjoys crunching numbers and proving how these supposed low-paying markets are in fact quite lucrative when used properly.)

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Let the social networking commence!

I’ve added a “Follow Me” section at the bottom of the page and created a new Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn connections specifically for Complete Writing Solutions.

For those of you who are stopping by for the first time, 2008 and most of 2009 was business done via a simple blog and word of mouth. As the business has grown, so has our need to create a more professional “company” atmosphere. In other words, we needed to create a brand. That meant getting a website created to go with the brand. Now that the hard part is done, the task of updating and fleshing out the social networking profiles has begun. One project this week is updating the profile pages and getting some new pictures up, as well as filling in all the blanks.

In the meantime, feel free to head on over to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and follow us as the brand moves ahead into the next decade!

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Freelance writing: is it possible to make $100,000 in a year writing for a content site?

First of all, I’d like to apologize for the lack of posts through the month of November. I had a rather large work-for-hire (ghostwriting) contract that I was fulfilling and I just wrapped it up on the 28th of the month. With that being said, there are some big plans ahead for December and into the new year, so stay tuned as Complete Writing Solutions moves full-steam ahead into the freelance writing and information market.

I stumbled across a post this morning over at the FWJ website regarding rates, one of the most talked-about and debated issues among freelance writers. In this particular thread, the topic regards a pair of writers who entered into a competition with each other. One of the writers worked for content sites. Another of the writers worked for a traditional trade publication (print publication). The bet was that the trade writer believed they would make significantly more than the content mill writer. At the end of the year, when the bet was called, the content writer made $52,000 in a year compared to the print writer’s $37,000.

Now, before I get into the whole rates thing, I’d like to point out something right off the bat. You, as an individual, are the only one in control of your success. There is no such thing as a reason for failure. The only person standing between you and success is you. Not the market. Not the rates. Not the competition. There is a literal world’s worth of clients to choose from these days. The vast majority of my clients are actually European and otherwise. If you are someone who is struggling to make money, you have no one to blame but yourself.

On to the meat of the matter. Any of you who have followed me for the past year or so on my old personal blog and in the couple of freelance community sites I’ve become a part of, you know that I have continually defended content sites, often suffering debasement at the hands of the so-called elite writers who work in the print publications. You will also know that I never complain about the amount of money I make, but you continually see those writers from other sites continually complaining about the rates of the current market, how it’s not fair that so and so is doing such and such and blah blah blah. Excuses. A long line of excuses as to why they aren’t making any money, and why the market is holding them back, and how content sites are hurting them, and etc.

The 21st century is about fast, disposable content when it comes to working for content sites. Writers who understand that are making a killing (raises hand wildly). That’s not to say we don’t write quality copy, or that we don’t spend any time on the articles, but let’s face it: the market wants fast, fluffy content. They aren’t interested in Pulitzer Prize content. Yes, there are those clients who do want superior content, and for those clients writers like myself will make a significantly higher wage which means we slow down, we research the topic at hand, and we craft the best article we possibly can. But the rest of the time we are going to do what we do best: make money. How do we make money? By giving the client what they want. And in the case of content sites that’s fast, disposable content to fill the pages of a website.

I’m going to use Demand Studios as an example. Keep in mind I do not represent DS in any way, shape, or form. In 2009 I only wrote roughly 40 articles for them, total.

15 dollars is the average pay for a 400-500 word article. If you have a niche (and everyone in the 21st century has a niche) then you can assume the topics you are writing about require little to no research. The average freelance writer can put out about 100 wpm, but assuming time for editing and arranging thoughts, let’s say that a 500 word article takes you 15-20 minutes to write. That means you can easily put out 4 articles in one hour in your chosen niche. That’s $60 an hour.

The average work week is 40 hours. That’s $2,400 a week. $9,600 in a month. Assuming a 2 week vacation, you would make around $110,000 for a year’s worth of work, working only for a content site.

No time spent looking for leads. No time spent marketing your brand. No time spent negotiating with clients. No time wasted while you query and wait to hear back from an editor about whether or not your article idea was approved so you can write it. No pitching, no waiting…just cold, hard cash. Log in, pull articles from your niche, write them, get your byline, and move on to the next.

Understandably not everyone has an unlimited pool of resources when it comes to niches. There will always be articles that you need to research. But honestly, even if you were only writing two articles per hour for Demand Studios that’s still $30 an hour, which comes out to around $55,000 for a year, assuming a two week vacation. Not too bad for a job that never requires you to leave your house, never requires you to pitch an article, never requires you to deal with clients face to face, never requires querying and waiting, and never requires anything other than the desire to write and get paid for writing.

Writing is a job, just like any other job. If you worked in a corporate environment you would be working 40 hour work weeks and you would be expected to perform to the highest level of your capabilities. Why should it be any different when you are working for yourself? Do you really want to succeed, or do you want to continually blame the market, or your peers, or the competition for why you are continually failing?

Just because you are a writer doesn’t mean you can suddenly throw all the business aspects of the real world out the window. While writing is easy, yes, it is still a business, and the only way businesses succeed is through hard work. This is not a get-rich-quick industry, but it is an extremely rewarding industry because you can set your own hours, determine your own rate of pay, and you get to see your name in print.

The problem with most of the print writers out there is they believe that they should be getting paid per word, and believe that a 400-500 word article should take 5 hours or more to craft, because “that’s the way it’s always been done.”

Stop living in the past. We aren’t in the 20th century where you had to go to a library, pull out some dusty old tomes, make phone calls and interview people, and hand-write the article. This is the 21st century. Google it. Within 2 seconds you will have literally dozens (if not hundreds or thousands) of references to choose from to research your article.

There are plenty of content sites out there, and while some of them are low paying, the vast majority of them pay well enough that you could easily be making over $50,000 a year. However, you have to have the desire to succeed.

The only person standing between you and success is you. I like making money. How about you?

(For the record I typed this article (normally I use Dragon Naturally Speaking). From start to finish it took me about 20 minutes, including a “rough” edit. It’s 1250+ words.)

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

Tools of the trade, part II

As more and more people transition into the digital world and upload or create new content in the various nooks and crannies of the Interwebz, a common occurrence is for lines to cross. Somewhere along the way someone is going to say something that sounds exactly like what someone else said over there. Now, while blatant copying is plagiarism, and is one of the biggest mistakes a writer can ever make, there is a difference between blatant copying of someone else’s work and not giving credit where credit is due, and simply writing something that sounds exactly like what someone else wrote.

So how do you combat the issue?

The beauty of the technological age is that there are a great many resources that we writers can use to help ensure that our work is not only of the highest calibre, but also ensure that we aren’t copying anyone else’s work. Personally, I use Article Checker and Dupli Checker.

How do they work? It’s fairly simple, really. You take the content you have written, and you plug it into their search box and choose the search engine you want it to use. I always use Google, because Google is the most trusted search engine available on the market currently. The programs then break your content down into sentences, and check those sentences against content already published on the Internet. If anything shows up as too similar, or duplicated, it will flag it and tell you which portions of the article are potential threats.

Every time I write an article for a client I check it against both of these checkers to make sure that I’m not too close to someone else. No one wants to have a flag against their record, and this is one of the best ways to make sure you aren’t copying someone else’s content, even accidentally.

What steps do you take to make sure your content is 100% original?

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Research in the 21st century

A concept I discuss with great passion when I’m talking to friends and peers about writing in the 21st century is being “relevant”. It’s a theme that has popped up a lot in my blogs over the years, and in posts such as Being Relevant In a Modern World. And something that has noticeably changed in the 21st century is the way we approach research as a whole, and what is acceptable as forms of research for papers, articles, website content, and so on and so forth. It’s a topic a great many writers focus on in recent years, and some writers like Nick Usborne have a firm grasp on how the industry is moving ahead, as can be seen in this excerpt from his latest book, New Path to Riches. I actually read this a few weeks back, but I’ve been percolating and doing some research of my own since then, and finally found the time to put down some thoughts about the subject.

Research, in its broadest form, can be described as a search for knowledge or any systematic investigation to establish facts. There are a variety of ways for your research to be considered credible, and that’s the crux of the issue as we move further into the 21st century. One of the things I think Mr. Usborne has correct is the concept of being slaves to media. Prior to the advent of the digital age we consumers were relegated to only knowing what the media chose for us to know. We were forced to get our news from programs like 60 Minutes or The Today Show. Any sort of “facts” were required to be proven by someone with a PhD in their given field, and we–the consumers–were only allowed to learn what they wanted us to learn. We only knew what was published in their magazines, shown on their TV, or written in their books. This allowed those fact-givers to establish themselves as “kings”, and now that their positions are threatened they are doing everything they can to try and retain that power.

Enter the Internet. Specifically, Wikipedia. Suddenly people all over the world are allowed to share their knowledge, and we the consumers are no longer relegated to information funneled to us through the “official” sources. Naturally, this is cause for contention. Humans fear change. They especially fear change when the status quo is upset. And for the many accredited professionals in the field who dominated the “who gets to learn what” market, they have a reason to be upset. We the consumers are no longer relying on those privileged few to tell us what we need to know and how we need to learn. We now have a wide variety of sources to gather information, and we are in control of what information we want to see.

Humanity evolves continually. The printing press gave way to the printer which gave way to magazines and books which gave way to websites and hand-held readers. Stone tools gave way to steel which gave way to gunpowder which gave way to bullets and other weapons. Jumping off of buildings with home-made wings gave way to airplanes which gave way to spacecraft which allowed us to reach into the space beyond Earth. The list could go on. We, as a species, are continually evolving. Education is one of the ways we evolve. Knowledge is power. And the hoarding of knowledge is something that only hampers us as a species.

There are a wide range of debates in recent years as to what should be considered acceptable forms of research, but what humanity is discovering is that the old ways of doing things are no longer the preferred, or even the accepted. It used to be that if you wanted to know something about something you went to the person who was lucky enough or privileged enough to be published in some fancy book or magazine or allowed to be shown on TV. They were the ones who controlled the flow of information. However, there are a great many qualified professionals that were never published in the “important” publications, and never had a spotlight shone on them on TV. Should their research be discredited simply because it wasn’t part of mass media?

Enter the digital age. Wikipedia. Many professionals take offense to the fact that any person can come in and edit a Wiki article, and while I can appreciate that view it’s important to understand that there are literally millions of people viewing Wikipedia worldwide, and as a general rule of thumb Wiki articles are fairly accurate and if an error does occur it will be fixed within minutes. Sure, someone could come along and change the Wiki entry on the Moon to say that it’s called Tuparakinafis and revolves around the planet Tharmemetus, but that information would literally be changed within moments to the way it needs to be in order for historical and scientific accuracy to be preserved.

A note of interest: if you take a look at the reliability and accuracy ratings of Wikipedia, you will find that they have increasingly high standards applied to their content, and the ratings are only getting better with time. Of particular note are the accuracy ratings in comparison to the Encyclopedia Britannica, which is something that Mr. Usborne touches on in his book, as well. As you can see, Wikipedia is considered just as accurate as traditional methods of research, and in many cases is superior because of the simple fact that Wiki can be edited the moment new research is brought to light, while traditional encyclopedias take years in some cases to rectify their mistakes or omissions because they are “traditional” and require literal months and years to get anything changed.

Furthermore,  the amount of information that can be complied via Wikipedia is far larger than what a traditional encyclopedia can contain because of the simple numbers. Traditional publishing requires vast resources and in many cases hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars in order for a new volume to be published, while Wikipedia and online sources cost literally pennies in comparison. A typical website can be operated for tens of dollars per month in comparison, and while Wiki definitely costs more than that to run, the simple costs of an online reference are staggering in comparison to traditional formats, which is something I’ve touched on in the past in articles like Rates: What Determines Them?

Traditional researchers and publishers have been stamping their foot with great force regarding the simple fact that they are dying out like the dinosaur. Humanity has grown beyond requiring a trip to the library and dealing with bulky, dusty, out-of-date references. We are living in the information age. Information changes by the minute, and we (the informed consumer) can no longer rely upon publications that take literal years to adapt their data to the current changes. For those of us living in the digital age with a digital mindset the information needs to be available at the click of a button, and places like Wikipedia provide that. We understand that it is not a be-all-end-all source of information, but neither are books in the library or articles published in scientific journals. Anyone researching a topic uses multiple sources to be as accurate as possible, and with Wiki in particular it is only getting better with time, and when used in conjunction with other sources can help provide us with accurate, detailed, and up-to-date information on a wide array of topics, without the use of traditional publications who take potentially years between publications to update their data.

In addition, more and more universities are transferring their libraries into digital format, which means we have more and more access to information that is considered “credible”, and that information is being linked to Wikipedia articles, allowing Wiki to gain more and more credibility as time goes on. As more and more content is transferred to digital format it allows for more and more references to be cited, and isn’t that the real reason that the people against Wikipedia have been objecting? A lack of citable references?

In the end, Wikipedia is actually one of the most accurate and up-to-date sources of information that consumers have, and as time goes on it is only becoming more so. The advent of digital libraries is allowing Wiki authors to directly reference the publications where their information is coming from, effectively silencing the clamoring of those old-fashioned dinosaurs who refuse to evolve with the times. Celebrate your freedom, the freedom of information, and relish your ability to determine for yourself what you should or shouldn’t know.

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

Green Freelancing: Fact or Fiction?

Ever wondered what it really means to be “green”?

A decision we made a few years ago was to go entirely paperless. What does that mean? First of all, we don’t do fax machines. We do scans. Did you know that digital signatures are binding in a court of law? The way we look at it, that’s good enough for us.

But there’s a lot more to being “green” than just not using fax machines.

Going paperless is actually harder than you might think, but there are several  things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint as a freelance writer. For starters, stop accepting physical mail. Have your bank statements sent to you via e-mail. Credit card statements, cell phone bills, any bill at all…have it done paperless through e-mail.

Don’t do contracts via snail mail. Do them via e-mail. If someone absolutely has to have a physical signature on a piece of paper then get them to accept a scanned copy of your signature. Again, these are binding in a court of law so clients have absolutely no reason to claim they need a “physical” signature on file. Mailing contracts is not only a waste of paper, it’s a waste of time. It’s a waste of your time to have to schedule a trip to the post office and stand in line to have the package weighed and scanned and eventually sent. Envelopes are bulky, clunky, and they cost an absurd amount of money to send. Meanwhile, simply scanning a copy of a document and then e-mailing it costs whatever your ISP and all-in-one printer/scanner/copier cost you, and that’s it. Not to mention, envelopes and snail mail are just so…20th century. And they contribute to the continued deforestation of the planet, which is one of the leading causes of global warming.

One of the best parts about being a freelance writer is the fact that there is no commute. That means no emissions from a car. No pollution, no money wasted on purchasing fossil fuels that deplete our natural resources, no related car insurance and maintenance fees or monthly payments or worrying about the cost of parking. The only thing you have to worry about is your ISP and a laptop/desktop.

There are other ways as well, but these are just a few tips to get you started on the path of being a more environmentally-conscious writer.

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Writing samples: the hidden agenda

Something many new writers assume when they get started in the industry that they can just walk into a business relationship with someone and walk away with money as soon as the job is done. This is not always the case. Scams exist in many forms these days, and Internet scams are some of the most prevalent, especially when it comes to clients requesting “samples” of your work to prove whether or not you are qualified.

There are a few things to look at. First of all, as a new writer you might not have any previously published work that you can refer a client to. This is when a blog is extremely important because it allows potential clients to see the way you write. This is both a blessing and a curse. I’ve long held that an individual’s personal blog should not be used as a reference of quality when it comes to determining the final product that a client may require from the writer in question. Everyone goes through an editor. Period. Every professional author and writer out there has to answer to an editor. Rough drafts and personal blogs are rarely as polished as a final product will be because they have not passed the desk of the editor in charge. As such, blogs should only be used as a reference…a way to show your potential clients that you can in fact string sentences together in some semblance of the English language. They should never be used as a reference for what your final work looks like, because no writer out there can tell you exactly what the final product will read like because they aren’t the editor in charge of the final say. Now, while the blessing is that blogs are a great way to give clients a sample of your work, the curse is when said clients look at your blog and cannot see the potential that is there because they can’t see with an editor’s eyes.

One thing you never want to do in this industry is give a client a “free” sample of your work. By this I mean any work that has not already been published in some way, shape, or form, either on your personal blog or for other clients. If you give someone a sample that has never been used before you are opening up the door for that client to abuse the client-clientele trust, and believe me…there are a lot of scam clients out there who are simply fishing for free content for their websites.

Let’s take a look at clients who say they need “previously unpublished samples”. This is a major red flag and common sense should dictate your first response: tell them to take a hike. Any potential client who asks for previously unpublished samples is fishing for free content for their site, guaranteed. No ifs, ands or buts about it. But there is also another type of fisher out there, and that is the one who asks you for your resume and samples, but after you have provided them then asks that you write them an original piece “just to make sure we are on the same page”.

Again, the red flag should go up. An example I’ve used in the past with a client who used this very same request on me was the following:

Let’s say you are a home owner and you want a new study built onto your house. You look in your local phone book or the Internet and you find various builders who you proceed to contact. They come out to your house, they show you their credentials (resume + samples), and they give you quotes on the project. As a home owner it is your responsibility to verify their credentials, and to make a decision regarding their quote based upon the information that you find when calling their references. What you do not do is tell the contractor, “Well, we verified your references and it looks good…but we are going to need you to come to our home this weekend and build us a tree-fort for our son in the back yard so we can make sure that your work is up to our quality of standards. Oh, and we need you to do it for free because we can’t be sure that your standards are as high as ours until we see you in action.”

If a client doesn’t bother to check your references then you cannot be bothered to work with them. If they cannot trust your credentials, even after they have been verified, they are never going to be trustworthy enough to work for. They are simply fishing for free content, and that is something you never, ever want to give away. Ever. Time is money, and if they want your time then they need to pay for it.

If a client cannot be satisfied with your resume, walk away. If they are not willing to verify your references, walk away. If they want free work from you, walk away. They wouldn’t ask the builder to construct a tree-fort for their son on his own time, and they shouldn’t be asking you to do the same thing.

If someone asks you for samples, don’t panic. Just make sure that whatever samples you give them have been previously published in some way to make sure they can’t use them for free. It’s just smart business.

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

Tools of the trade

Every industry has special tools which make the tasks within those jobs easier, and they are generally specifically tailored to that profession. By using these tools you increase your proficiency and remain relevant in your particular niche, whatever that might be. Plumbers have special pipe wrenches that allow them to quickly and easily change your pipes out, while if you worked the project by yourself it would likely turn into an all-day mess. Mechanics have special tools to change your oil filters and your tires, while you would be stuck with what you have in your garage, not to mention dealing with disposing of the oil and dealing with requirement for space. Crab fishermen have boats. Dentists have…nasty metal things that they stick in your mouth.

Being a writer is no different. There are certain tools which should be in every writer’s arsenal as “must have” resources. The one I’d like to talk about briefly today is speech-to-text programs.

Speech to text programs are unique software programs that allow you to speak into a microphone and have that speech rendered into text on your screen, either in your chosen word processor or in a blog post or any other form. The better programs even have built-in utilities that allow you to manipulate your Internet browser without ever lifting a finger. While they are extremely useful for handicapped individuals, and were primarily developed as a result of that field of study, they are also one of those hidden secrets that writers should really be using if they want to increase their productivity.

I use Dragon Naturally Speaking, from Nuance. It is rated as the number 1 dictation software in the industry. It has a 99% accuracy rating once you have trained the program, which is generally higher than most people’s accuracy while typing. The beauty of the software? According to their website, the average person types 40 words per minute, but speaks 120 wpm. Now, as a freelance writer, you probably type far faster than that, but as a general rule of thumb no matter who you are you will never type faster than you can speak. By using a program that translates your speech into text you will increase your word count, which really helps in terms of how much work you can get done in a given day. The more content you can get done the more money you make, which means less time spent physically working at the computer and more time enjoying the rewards.

DNS is a really fun program to train, as well, because you can literally “see” it learning your speech patterns and nuances. Every single person speaks differently, and if the program is trained to your voice it likely won’t recognize someone with, say, an Australian accent, or a German accent (assuming you are neither).  For example, Evy’s version doesn’t always recognize my speech patterns, and vice versa for mine, and we talk fairly similarly. It’s just the nuances of the speech patterns that the software recognizes and fine-tunes depending on the user. The program learns every time you use it, plus there are special dialogues you can read through (like excerpts from novels) that help you train it. It is a constantly evolving program that grows as you continue using it over time.

I am not affiliated with Nuance in any way, for the record. In my personal case it has doubled my performance numbers, allowing me to pick up jobs that might otherwise have been not-so-profitable and turn them into thousand-dollar projects, or more.  Using dictation software not only drastically increases your performance, but it saves your wrists and it allows you to be 100% hands-free.

Every industry has tools of the trade. Freelance writing is no different. It’s not just about having a keyboard and a mouse. Using a program like DNS allows you the freedom to walk around the house while you work, talking into your headset wherever you are. Rather than needing to tab back and forth between your research and word processor you can simply work right off of the page, taking “notes” as it were without ever needing to look away from your research. Be smart, and use the tools that were provided. You will definitely see positive results.

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

Location, location, location!

About a year ago I started reading the Location Independent website. Now, I’m not a regular reader; I probably only check in once every couple of weeks. I honestly do find their website incredibly informative, I just never have the time to browse as much as I like because of my busy schedule.

I am not affiliated with the LIP website in any way, shape, or form. In fact, I’ve never even talked with the owners of the site or any of their members, although it is something I plan on rectifying in 2010 as my wife and I expand the horizons of Complete Writing Solutions. But that’s neither here nor there. What I really want to talk about today is location.

Location as it refers to this particular article is the place where you live. Where you live determines many things in your life. Your cost of living, for one. The opportunities available, for another. But one of the things I really want to talk about is the myth that you are somehow “not allowed” to move outside of your location and break away from the traditional way of doing things.

Now, while I’m not 100% location independent in the sense that I do have a permanent place of business (our home), I would say that we have accomplished many of the things that the LIP lifestyle allows you to do. Which is actually how I found their website last year, because at the time I was preaching about the benefits of moving abroad as a freelancer in the digital media medium.

Too many people have become trapped in this mentality that they “aren’t allowed” to live their life before they are 60 years old. You are expected to go to college, graduate into a starting position, and work your way up the ladder over the next 30 years of your life. You are expected to be several hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt the majority of your life between your car payments, your house payment, your credit cards, and your school payments, and barely have your house paid off before your SS and IRAs start becoming available. As a result, you become a slave to this mentality that you have to make X dollars per year because you have become a slave to your possession, and that you aren’t allowed to enjoy the freedom of a debt-free existence until you are 65+.

There’s an old saying: your possessions cease to be possessions when they possess you. Take a look at that in closer detail.

Are you in debt? What do you owe money on? A house? A car? Two cars? Credit cards? School payments? Do you live in an area of the country/world that requires you to make 60 thousand dollars a year or more JUST TO BREAK EVEN?

You, my friend, are a slave to consumerism. Your possessions have come to possess you.

The best part about the Internet is the ability to work from anywhere in the world if you happen to be someone who enjoys a job in the digital media medium. Digital artists, freelance designers, freelance writers, etc. The world is not limited to Western countries where the cost of living is outrageously gross. In fact, almost every modern city on the planet boasts the same amenities as those in the Western sections of the world, at a fraction of the cost.

Why wait until you are 65 to have your house paid for? Why not have your house paid for by the time you are 35? Instead of having a cost of living that is 50-60k a year for you and your family, why not transition into an environment where your cost of living is 10-15k a year?

To put it into perspective, Evy and I lived in a decent apartment in Colorado. Between her school payments, our rent, the cost of living, and various other sundries, the cost of living for the two of us between 2005 and 2007 was close to 60 thousand a year. We lived what you could call a “middle class” life. Here, in Sofia, we have the exact same amenities…but our cost of living is a fraction of what it was back in Colorado. Our apartment is 100% paid for. We are 100% debt free. And we aren’t even 30 years old. Our total cost of living, including entertainment, is around 10k USD a year.

That’s right. 10k USD a year. Even if we had rent, we would still only be around 20k USD a year for our TOTAL cost of living. That means our cost of living is forty to fifty thousand dollars a year less than what it was when we were living back in Colorado.

We spend our money traveling all over Europe. We generally take 5-6 trips a year. And before you cry foul…I still pay US taxes, just like every other American citizen. The only thing I did was shed the belief that I’m somehow “required” to live and work only in America, and that I’m somehow bound to the restraints of a consumerist society. In one year we have put more money into the savings then we did in 5 years in the U.S., and on top of that we have been on over a dozen trips in the past 2 years to places like Turkey, Italy, Paris, Macedonia, Greece, and all over Bulgaria.

Many Westerners have developed this mentality over the years that if you don’t live in the West then you aren’t really living in a civilized society. This is one of the biggest farces on the face of the planet. Look at how many countries are a part of the civilized world now. Almost every country has Internet. Iphones. X-box 360s. WiFi. Health-care. I could go on.

The question you have to ask yourself is this: if you compare the two side by side, which is more beneficial? A country where the cost of living is 60k a year for two people or a country where the cost of living is 20k a year (at most)?

The beauty of digital media is that you can work from any country, any city, any place on the planet as long as there is an Internet connection. Combine that with the fact that you can spend your money how you want to spend it, rather than being told you have to spend it on what they want you to spend it on. Then add in the fact that you can be debt free long before you are 65. Suddenly the world is a lot bigger than it was when you were still working that 9 to 5 job with a 50k a year salary and a cost of living that barely allows you to put a few grand away every year into the savings account.

At the very least you cannot deny the simple math. If you make 60k a year in a country where your cost of living is 60k a year and you are 300 thousand dollars in debt, are you really free? Compare that to a country where you can make 60k a year and have a cost of living that is 10-20k a year. Suddenly you are putting 40-50k a year in the bank. In ten years you could have half a million dollars. A million in 20. And that’s just saying you make 60k a year. Imagine if you make 100k a year.

Take a closer look at your location. You could find your life changed in ways that you could previously only dream about.

Posted in The World Is Your Oyster Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

The Official Launch!

Today is the official launch of Complete Writing Solutions. Feel free to browse around, search through the topics, and spread the word :)
While there is not a veritable freighter’s worth of content available on the website just yet, work is ongoing. If you think you have an idea that might lend itself to being worthy of contribution, then feel free to get in touch with us and let us know! We will be looking at guest bloggers in the future, and we will be adding sections such as translations (among other things) in the months ahead.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Posted in Uncategorized

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