Thursday, July 30, 2015

Top 10 Lists of Freelance Writing Jobs for Writers Wanting to Expand Beyond Content Sites

At some point, you may want to leave the nest. Working for content sites is relatively easy. The sites find the clients, filter out the flakes, and handle all the hassles that go along with billing and collecting.  The trade-off is that the pay rates are usually lower than what you could get on your own. Also, if you are ghostwriting through content sites, it's hard to build up a portfolio.

The first question that comes up if you are expanding out of content sites is how to find your own clients.

The easiest way is to skim the "writers wanted" lists. If you are working for a content site that uses casting calls or teams, this will feel familiar. If you get nervous applying for a private-client gig, just imagine you were applying for a team or casting call at your regular site.

The ultimate goal is to have such a great online presence that clients will seek you out. Until then, you'll need to put in a lot of applications and pitches.

Here are 10 good places to look for freelance writing assignments that will help you find opportunities beyond the content sites. Make it a habit to skim the lists and send applications whenever your workload is light. Be patient. Many people see these job listings, so competition will be stiff, but persistence should pay off.  This is, in part, a number's game, so don't procrastinate on sending out applications when you see any gigs that look good.

1. Problogger

2. Facebook 4 Freelancers


4. Media Bistro -- Mostly brick-and-mortar jobs, but search on "freelance" in the keyword box

5. Write Jobs

6. All Indie Writers

7. FWJ

8. Writing Career

9. Absolute Write Water Cooler

10. Google "Write for Us" and "Writers Wanted" -- You might be surprised how many sites these searches will turn up.

Image: Brigitte Werner

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It's going to hurt whether you do the work or not -- so you might as well do the work

Here's another procrastination tip adapted from The Now Habit. If you're procrastinating on starting or finishing an assignment, you're probably afraid that working on the assignment will be painful.

But consider this.  Not working on the assignment is also painful. Procrastination hurts. While there is a pay-off in that you get to do something you'd rather do than the dreaded assignment, it still hurts. You can't really enjoy the other activity because you feel guilty that you are not working on the assignment. Meanwhile, as the minutes or hours tick away, your anxiety increases as you add the fear that you won't get the job done to whatever fears you had before.

The trick is to accept that there are no good alternatives.

Procrastinators often hope that if they wait long enough, a solution will magically arise that will enable them to complete the dreaded task without any pain or to avoid it forever without any consequences. Unfortunately, that rarely happens.

Once you accept that your choice is between two painful options -- the pain of continuing to procrastinate and the pain of starting or finishing the dreaded task -- then a real solution becomes available.  Simply pick the painful option that will have the most long-term benefits.  Almost always,, that will be the option of doing the work.

Accepting there are no good choices is oddly liberating.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Procrastination tip -- visualize calm success

If you're avoiding starting a task, try this. Visualize completing the task early, and imagine how good it will feel to work at a leisurely (or at least not a frantic) pace. Contrast that with feeling panicked when you are trying to get something in under the wire.

Really take in how good it will feel to work in a more relaxed state.  Imagine, as vividly as possible, sitting at your desk and writing while feeling calm, relaxed, and productive.  Imagine how being relaxed will allow your thinking to effortlessly sharpen, and imagine how the right words will flow from your fingers.

Think about how starting now will give you so much more time to work on the project.

Visualize submitting your task and not feeling exhausted, with plenty of energy left to do something rewarding because you didn't burn off all of your energy in an adrenaline-fueled frenzy.

Visualize again the luxury of having extra time to work slowly and calmly and how that luxury is abundantly available to you if you start working right now.

Photo taken at Hungry Mother State Park by Virginia State Parks Staff, CC Attribution 2.0 license

Thursday, June 25, 2015

New content sites -- ArticleBunny, Blasting News, StringLancer

I'm not endorsing these, just listing them.  If you have any experience with any of them, please share in the comments below.


ArticleBunny -- This is a new pay-per-word site. Easy application process -- just take a quick grammar test.  I see a few things that may be red flags there, so proceed with caution.

front page / writer info & application


Blasting News -- Started in Europe and is now going worldwide.  Pay is according to the number of unique views an article receives in the first 30 days after publication.   For example, according to their slider (on the front page, under the "compensation" link), they pay 8 euros, which is equivalent to $8.96, for 1,000 unique page views. No application process -- just register.

front page


StringLancer -- Revenue-share site. Splits ad revenue 50/50 with writers. They sent an email blast to former writers, and in some ways the site looks like it wants to be another Helium. StringLancer is also plugging itself as a free portfolio site. No application process -- just register.

front page / register

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ziggywiggy Sent Oogleboogle a Fillyfolly... or a painless way to learn the basics of sentence structure

How to Identify the Parts of a Sentence -- a brief and painless introduction

I'm a big believer in the value of learning about grammar.  You can go far as a writer on instinct and intuition, but at some point, you need to be able to take a left-brain analytical approach to sentence structure if you want to effectively edit your own work.

The foundational first step is to learn how to identify the parts of a sentence. If, like me, you were myseriously absent the day that was taught in school, or if you had dozed off, or if your hippie-ish teachers preferred dissecting novels to talking about grammar, then you've got a hole in your brain where this basic knowledge should be.

But it's not too late to learn about grammar now.  And who knows, you might even enjoy it. It's worth keeping an open mind. Some subjects that are deadly dull to children can be fascinating to adults.

I've Got the Deadline Blues

There are only three things you need to do to succeed as a freelance writer:

1. Produce good-enough writing. This includes writing clearly and grammatically; having subject-matter expertise and/or good research skills; and being flexible enough to adapt to different clients' requirements and styles.  

2.  Demonstrate good-enough customer service skills.  When writing for content sites where you never meet clients in person and all contact is via online messages or (rarely) phone calls, this can be as simple as refraining from acting like a jerk.  

3.  Meet deadlines.

The third one is my Achilles' heel.  Missing deadlines is my fatal flaw as a freelance writer. My writing skills, I believe, are good. My customer-service skills are fine. But being late on assignments is killing my reputation and, therefore, my opportunities.

The culprit -- the evil, leering villain behind the clock that is ticking away -- is procrastination.

I finally hit what felt like rock bottom last week. 

Is it frustrating or inspiring to hear that other writers are making more money?

In my previous post, I mentioned that there is a huge range of per-word rates paid to freelance writers, from a small fraction of a penny on the low end up to a couple of dollars or more per word on the high end.

Then I started wondering if this was useful information, or if it was better not to think about it.

I'm of two minds on this. Actually three.

Sometimes, when I hear that other writers are making 10, 20, or 50 times more than what I am making, I see it as an opportunity to raise my income by learning to do what they are doing.

Other times, I feel that it's not possible for me to increase my freelance writing income that much, and that by dwelling on the differences in pay, I will only be breeding jealousy, resentment, and frustration.

And still other times, I remember that years ago, I was so taken by this sentence that I read in the book Spontaneous Happiness by Andrew Weil that I copied it down, adding it to my collection of quotes that I try to live by:
The source of human unhappiness is our habit of comparing our experience to others and finding our reality to be wanting.
What do you think?  Is it better sometimes not to know things or at least not to think about them -- or is more knowledge always a good thing?  Does reading about writers who may make a lot more than you do inspire you or make you feel frustrated?

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link to Amazon.

How much is freelance writing worth per word?

Image adapted from photo by Roman Oleinik

The difference between the high and low end of freelance writing pay is staggering.

Pay rates range from less than one cent per word to more than $2.00 per word.  Someone at the high end of the scale may be making 500 times more than someone at the low end.

Is it possible to move up?  If not all the way to the top, at least part of the way?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Using Google Trends to Get Fresh Ideas for Articles and Blog Posts

If you are racking your brain trying to think of fresh ideas for blogs or articles, take a look at the newly expanded Google Trends page.  You may see something there that will spark new ideas, especially if you want to write on subjects that are both popular and timely.

The Google Trends page has been around for a while, but the company says that this week's expansion is the biggest change since 2012.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Update on Content Sites

I went through the list of sites I had previously written about on this blog, and checked out what was going on with them.  Here's the latest info (after the jump):

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Reboot of Writing for Pennies

A rebooted blog for a new year

A lot has happened since I started this blog on August 10, 2010.  Helium closed.  Associated Content became Yahoo Contributor Network aka Yahoo Voices -- and then it, too, closed down. Epinions closed its contributor program. And on and on, content sites famous or obscure, loved or hated, run by huge corporations or by teenagers from their Moms' kitchen tables --all stopped in their tracks by Google's Panda, Penguin, and other algorithmic changes meant to wipe content sites off the face of the search engine results pages.

Yet, online writing opportunities remain.  Some hardy sites have survived and new ones are popping up, some quickly crashing and burning, others sticking around.

I pulled this blog a while ago because I felt that my gripes and praise about sites that were no longer around weren't relevant any more. I'm starting it again because I missed doing it and because there are new things to write about.  But I am going to make a clean start.  In the spirit of the new year, I am starting this blog over with a clean slate.