Today was a quiet day for me. I completed a couple of hours of freelance writing work in the morning, toddled off for an eye test, and then a health test. I ended up in Soho, stuffing my face with blueberry muffins, sipping Earl Grey tea, and enjoying the afternoon. The sky was clear, the scarves and coats were out and making almost every man look very attractive. I think it’s the change of seasons, but a man wrapped in scarf and snug jacket is pretty damn hot!
Having had what was essentially a day off, I returned home to discover I had two new jobs on Elance. This is why I love this site. As long as you take the time to prepare a decent profile, and put in a headline that will attract niche customers, work pretty much comes your way without having to look for it. Once you’ve completed a few clients job and got feedback and stars, you can showcase yourself without actively having to do so. I’ve had a day off, yet I’ve scored two new writing jobs where all I had to do was read through the brief and click accept. It’s that easy.
So if there’s one thing you do this week, join Elance and create a profile. Include as much information for clients as possible and use a niche based tagline (mine’s “Horticultural London based Freelancer”). And even when you’re out with friends and seeing the sights, you can sure that your online writing persona is still attracting valuable clients.
Starting off in a freelance writing career can be tough. It’s a very competitive world out there, and with thousands of people logging onto the internet, applying for the same jobs, and often undercutting each other on price, it can be difficult to score the best jobs. Meanwhile, there are MANY providers who think they can realistically pay $3 for a 500 article. The problem is, people are actually willing to work for this!
Specialisation in an area when freelance writing is a key concept to help you get ahead. Of course, and I’ve done it too, when starting out you’ll automatically take on jobs that you have no interest in. I’ve ghost written finance blogs, articles on insurance, and an entire project on accountancy which had me wanting to scratch my eyes out. And taking these jobs on is essential to keep the money in so look on it as practice to improve your skills. But in the back of your mind you should start to try and specialise in a number of areas. This will allow you to become an expert in your niche, become well recognised in that area, and demand higher fees. It’ll also give you the pride and satisfaction that comes with developing skills in a key area and really becoming a master of your subject.
But what if you don’t know any niche areas? Develop them! I have a degree in marine biology and zoology, but my specialities online are gardening and male exercise. Why? Because I love these subjects and I know them. I set up a gardening blog. I started tailoring my online profiles at Ezine and Elance to horticulture and exercise. I made it know with my ongoing clients that these were my specialities and if work came up, then to please keep me in mind. You don’t have to know a subject to become an expert, you just have to be willing to learn.
Gardening’s my expertise…what’s yours?
Choosing a speciality is one key element that will set you apart from others in your freelance writing career. My Elance profile is purely horticultural, and I don’t have to look for clients, they come to me. Start a blog on your preferred subject, and join Ezine to start producing articles in your preferred field. And whilst continuing to slog away at work for conservatories, washing machines, or paint products, believe that you can become master of your subject, and watch your freelance writing career take off.
One of the amazing benefits of being a freelance writer is the joy of working from home. When the dog’s giving you the ‘I want a walk’ eyes you can down tools and take to the forest. I can fit in gym sesssions wherever I want, and being a gardener I can nip to clients here and there without having to worry about sticking to office hours. I don’t have the annoyance of taking an annual leave day just to wait for a parcel delivery, and I can visit the bank whenever I want. However, a certain degree of self discipline is needed for any freelance writer, and whatever your effective writing method, you do need one.
It’s all too easy to become distracted at home, whether it’s cleaning, making yet another cup of tea, or spending hours looking through tweets and emails. I find myself pottering down the garden to visit the hens A LOT. And weeding. I put out one little weed and then an hour later I’m up to my armpits in soil having decided to dig out the compost bin. Being distracted is very easy if you don’t have a time management plan for working at home. Meanwhile, without a full load I find myself putting jobs off, when in fact, if I got them finished I could use the spare time to search for more clients, and greater earnings.
Creating your perfect schedule is a personal thing. I tend to write best in the early afternoon, or late evenings…hence I’m often up to 1 or 2am tapping away at the keyboard. Knowing these peak times is vital to ensure maxiumum efficiency and allow for other activities to take place during times when perhaps writing isn’t as efficient. I recently started using the “50 minute focus” technique as explained on the Elance blog for client work, and it suits me down to the ground. Rather than putting work off for a few hours, or even a few days, I can get pieces finished and yet still have time to write more should I wish. Meanwhile, whilst some like to work a five day week and enjoy writing free weekends, I prefer to spread the work over seven days, having more me time throughout the week. It also allows me the option to a write a little more one day if I have a big social event the following one.
So, whether working for a few big clients, or a huge portfolio of smaller ones, time management is vital for freelance writers who want to maxmise their creative potential and future income. I’ve found my perfect way, what’s yours?
Having had to scour the internet in the past few weeks for new freelance writing work, I discovered myself re-browsing Elance. Whilst I joined the site last year, I never actually gained any work. It seemed to be full of buyers looking for 500 word articles and only willing to pay a few dollars. It was ridiculous really, and totally undermined the freelance writing economy. Yet people took on the work, and got paid peanuts for work that would be taking several hours.
However, in a bid to increase my portfolio, I updated my profile, threw in a few specifics to name, and moved onto the next site. Within a week I had an invited bid offer which was horticulturally based and paid well. I snapped it up immediately. This got my interest flowing, and say I gave the site another shot. I started looking for freelance writing work and found another interesting job. Whilst I had to lower my average rate a little, it was a big bulk job and putting in a bid at the top of their range I was stunned to win that too. And now, both clients have given me repeat work and my Elancing career is taking off.
Many may be sceptical about using a site which acts as an intermediary between writer and client, but actually, I see NO problems. Yes, Elance takes a fee, but simply incorporate these into your bid so you don’t lose out. You talk to the client directly through the site which can be a bonus as it actually protects your personal email identity. In addition, with Elance portfolio and widget available, you can receive much needed ratings and feedbacks to improve your writer’s score.
For someone who was looking for freelance writing work a few weeks ago, I’m now inundated and have plenty to keep me going. So give it a go. Don’t lower your bid just to gain the work, be honest with yourself about what you want to earn so that working won’t feel like a chore. And give your profile the once over to encourage new custom.
Do you use Elance? What are your stories? Happy Elancing 🙂
At this time of year, when the mornings are just that little cooler and the glimmerings of autumn are on the horizon, I have to start seeking out new writing jobs with gusto. My career is two parts, nine to ten months of the year is spent gardening, but as the winter rolls in I have to increase the writing to counteract the loss of gardening income. And combined with the recession, and the resulting loss of a few clients here and there, the gardening work has been rather lacklustre this year.
And so, its off to work I go. I have enrolled at Indeed.com which sends new job adverts directly to your inbox. So to does Peopleperhour.com which, though I haven’t gained any contracts from yet, is proving to be a very respectable source of feelancing gigs. Meanwhile, after its take over by Splash Media, freelancewritinggigs.com still remains a favourite of mine, as does Elance. However, the former does seem to have lost a little of its personality, with Deb Ng always doing a great job of making readers feel comfortable. Now she is gone, the site feels a little more corporate, however, it remains a vital source of some of the globe’s best daily writing gigs.
Finding freelance writing gigs can be difficult, but actually winning contracts with so much competition can be incredibly hard. It is therefore vital to apply to far more jobs than you anticipate gaining, and take the time to create personal portfolio’s online. For example, I write my personal gardening blog, supply articles for Ezine, and am now writing in the community for Mother Nature Network. And with a wider number of viewers, and an increased variety of portfolio’s with which to attract clients, fingers crossed that the next few months see a steady increase of work. 🙂
In the freelance game you will rarely come across someone who can happily turn away clients. Even if their workload is already heavy, the fickle game of the freelancing market generally means that we work like crazy all the time with the worry that suddenly all our work will die off. We don’t take holidays. We don’t turn away new prospects. We certainly don’t quit existing jobs…..or do we?
There have been a couple of occasions in my career where I’ve had to admit that work was finally too much and I couldn’t do the job efficiently or productively anymore. I’ve had one such instance today where I work through an agent, their client changed the parameters of my work and after reading the new briefs it just simply wasn’t worth my time earning the money. Ok, I NEED the income, but the drain on my day to complete this project and the time I’d spend not wanting to do it made me realise that emotionally and financially it just wasn’t viable. And with freelancing, I didn’t want my work and therefore brand name to take a step backwards through poor quality submissions.
So now, with an added urgency, I’m back on the continual hunt for more work. However, I know that I’ll be happier and I know that the drop of a project will spur me on to find something new. But when does a freelancing job just become too much? What finally breaks that camels back? And when do we ever reach that point where we can pick and choose?
Having the desire to become a writer may seem like the driving force behind gaining instant success but any online writer – be it a ghostwriter, a blogger, an online website editor – will tell you that it takes alot of time and a lot of effort. There are no get rich quick schemes when it comes to writing. It takes time to find your style, your niche, your passion. It takes time to develop your online presence. And it takes a lot of effort to keep going when the initial intrigue and excitement dies away to leave the not so glamorous truth.
In a bid to raise my profile and, in some ways, write for myself I’ve started at Ezine. This online directory doesn’t pay, it doesn’t give any form of CPM (cost per mille) and it certainly doesn’t make you an instant success. However, what it does do may be far more important. Providing a editorially guided framework Ezine Articles allows for writers to build a web presence, creating a directory of articles that Ezine Publishers can use in their letters and newsletters and on their website. It works as a professional portfolio for prospective clients. It drives traffic to a writers website and social networks.
Like everything else I’m sure Ezine is in no way a route to quick success. However, with only four articles published I’m already seeing some crossover traffic to my website. Meanwhile the freedom to write about what I want to write about is already having positive effects on my outlook and for now I’m going to try it the Ezine way.