I’m an Amazing Stories writer

AS-button-blog-team-MEMBER-Blue-smallI have some great news to share today; I’m now an official Amazing Stories writer. Why am I so excited? Because Amazing Stories is a place dedicated to Sci-Fi. It’s also been running, almost uninterrupted since 1926! Though it finally closed in 1996, there were two attempts at bringing it back in 1998 and 2005, and now it’s had some fresh life breathed into it! The Amazing Stories magazine goes hand in hand with an online blog and SF community to talk, review and discuss all things totally geekery (yeah – I’m so excited that I made that word up).

I will, of course, still be blogging here with news and updates, but I’ll be providing some more in-depth articles over at Amazing Stories. My first post – 4 Modern and Completed SF series that you shouldn’t miss; Part I – is now live, and I’ll be blogging every week. So, what you waiting for? Head over and take a look! πŸ˜‰

Create A 24/7 Presence with Elance

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.

Freelance Writing – Become An Expert

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.


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 πŸ™‚

‘Tis the Season to Up the Anti

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. πŸ™‚

Quitting a Client – When Work Becomes Too Much

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?

Doing it the Ezine Way

Having the desire to become a writer may seem like the driving force behind gaining instant success but any online writer –Β  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.

Triond’s Rising Profit

I must admit, I haven’t used Triond in a while. I have their integrated tool bar in my browser so I know exactly my views, comments, profit stats but in terms of actually submitting new articles I haven’t made any effort. My last article was published last year and I really haven’t had the inclination to write any more. However, a recent and dramatic rise in residual profit has may me wonder whether I should start up again.

I don’t know whether its because my articles are largely garden based and so at this time of year they’re being viewed more. Perhaps. But with an apparent hive of activity behind the scenes allowing for adsense integration, more concise searching methods and possibly more exposure it seems I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I’m not a huge fan of the site, I find it bulky and rather unprofessional looking. I don’t like the premise on advertising throughout articles and its certainly not as streamlined as Associated Content or Ezine Articles.Β  But if its going to make me money slowly and steadily then surely I can’t say no?

Do you use Triond? How do you find it?

When Freelancing, It Pays to Be FABULOUS

Blowing my own trumpet is something I’m not especially good at. I’d far rather hear about someone else, discuss their careers, and not bore them to death with tales of me, me, me. Freelancing, and finding more work, is far more than simply telling everyone what you do, and how good you do it. Whilst it will always help if people actually know what you do, what your aims are, and what achievements you’ve made, they don’t want to know it in the first minute of knowing you!

When it comes to freelancing I have found that, on the whole, patience is a virtue. Whilst earning a living is obviously number one priority, so too is forging a career path in something you want to do. Tell people what you want to do, and ASK to keep you in mind for upcoming work. Asking politely is going to get you much more reward than flashing your cards around, telling everyone you’re amazing and that they must hire you. That will get your card in the bin and your leads thinking you’re far too arrogant to work with. Let them come to the conclusion you’re fabulous by themselves!

Meanwhile, nurture the clients you already have because this can pay extreme dividends. Whilst its fine to have client after client, do the work, get the money, and move on, if you really build the relationships with these clients then more work is sure to follow. Meet EVERY deadline, and if you’re having difficulties, let the client know AHEAD of time. Make a friend by light conversation, but DON’T start giving them your life story unless they actually ask. Consistency is key, check your work, read your work, edit your work. They may be your editor, but they’ll be far happier if they don’t have to actually do that much editing themselves.

Freelancing is definitely not for everyone. You need to be up-beat most of the time, you must be good with time management and one little error can lose you a client just like that. Be modest, be your best but most of all, be subtly FABULOUS and watch the work roll in.

Benefits of Income Streams

There’s a perception in many people that you find a career, you have one paycheck, and that’s how life is. Ok, it’s easy, there’s no finance management and at the end of the month you’re whole salary arrives in one, neat bunch. And if its the career you’ve always wanted then thats the icing on the cake. But its not always this way, people are sometimes stuck in jobs they hate just to earn the money. They want to break free but are worried by change, or taking a pay cut. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and for those looking for a different, more exciting life with a range of interests and jobs,Β  its all about generating different income streams.

I know this to my benefit. I’m a gardener about ten months of the year. In those months along side being outside in the fresh, breezy air, I also work in TV, do some random admin work and freelance write for a range of web clients. I balance my work so I always have enough income and make sure that all my sources of finance are happy so that when I need them they’re there.

For example, as the winter begins to draw in, gardening work all but dies off. Whilst I still have some landscape and design jobs to work on, actual maintanance (which is the heart of the business) becomes non-existant. So, to counter-act this downturn I simply switch to another income stream. I talk to my clients, ask for extra work, search out new job leads to carry me over the new few months.

Of course, its more timely and complex than recieving a check at the end of every month. But, it keeps me on my toes. ItΒ  never allows me to get bored and I can do what I want to do in my life so I never wonder “what if I’d chosen that career path”. And of coures, becoming self-employed isn’t the straight forward path of being an employee, but it sure offers more freedom and is A LOT more fun!