Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Advice for New Online Writers

Writing web content is not a reliable way to make money

According to Indeed.com, the average annual salary of a web content writer is $56,000. Keep in mind this is just an average. When starting out, web content writers will make a lot less. You will be lucky to crack four figures. Web content writing is hard work with long hours for very little money. Treat a career in web content writing as a second job instead of relying on it as a main job.

When you do get work, act professionally. Get it done on time. Let your clients have at least two ways of getting in contact with you. Use good grammar, spelling and punctuation in your correspondence emails. Get a separate email account for your clients. If you do not have a PayPal account, get one. Many clients will only pay by PayPal.

Expect Scams

Finding paying clients that offer steady work is very difficult. This is a “feast or famine” type of career. You must take as much work as you can when it is offered in order to help you get through times of no paying writing jobs. Because there are so many online writers desperate for work, it will be inevitable that all web content writers will run into scammers.

Scammers will not give you a clear answer as to how much money you will make. They will ask for long articles as a “sample” of your work. Never send long articles as samples. It will wind up being stolen. Make a blog, webpage or LinkedIn page that shows off your best online clips. Send links to these pages as samples to potential clients.


Never count on steady work from any client. Many online writers were making a good living writing for just one client, Demand Media. Google then launched the Panda algorithm in late 2011, which penalized Demand Media web sites. Demand Media dropped most of its writers and greatly slowed down the amount of writing jobs available for the few writers that was left.

Clients can come and go at the drop of a hat because of online trends, natural disasters or sudden bankruptcy. Never be satisfied with just one or two major clients. Get at least six clients so that if one client suddenly disappears you still have five other revenue streams. Economize whenever you can and bank your savings. Your savings should be used only in emergencies when you cannot find work.

Being a Writer: Overcoming the Fear of Failure

Or, overcoming the intimidation factor of being a writer

If I only had a dollar for every time I was laughed at when I mentioned I wanted to be a writer, I’d still write anyway.  I’d only do it in a more comfortable chair.

Public Perception of Writers

And I'm not the only one. Any career in the creative arts is looked on with eyes rolled to the heavens. Although some lucky writers were given immediate support by their families and friends, most would-be writers are heavily encouraged to take up another profession by friends, family and total strangers.

The reason for this is because the nay-sayers hold a genuine fear that you will not be able to make enough money to survive. Most people look at all artists as starving artists. You will certainly find them in any field of the creative arts today. If someone you know (or don't know) tried to discourage you from being a writer, they are usually doing it out of concern for you rather than trying to put you down.

Money or Lack Therof

The chances of making enough money to survive through your writing alone are grim. You not only have to learn how to write, you have to learn how to network, how to sell yourself and do your own bookkeeping. Even books on writing careers written by successful freelance writers will caution, "Don't quit your day job." For example, my “day job” is caretaker to my elderly mother.  I don’t get a salary for it, but I do get bed and board.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average yearly salary for a freelance writer was 
$55, 420.  Keep in mind that this is the average. Last year (2015) made a mere three-figure salary.  Finding the average of a freelance writer's salary is like finding the average of a professional baseball player's salary. It only takes a few multi-million dollar contracts to screw up the national average.  And so, this worry about money can be very intimidating, indeed.

Write Anyway

Write anyway. Let the very burning drive to write be your validation to write.  If you have the passion for it, you will find ways to incorporate writing into many aspects of your life, whether you are a freelance writer or not. Know deep within yourself why you want to write is it to put food on the table, to express yourself, or just because you love it?

If going three days without writing something down drives you nearly insane, then perhaps you have the passion to write. Writing is the jugular vein of your life. The more you write no matter what you write the better you will get. And you'll keep yourself sane.

Recommended Reading

  • Take Joy: A Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft.  Jane Yolen.  Writer’s Digest Books; 2006.
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.  Stephen King.  Scribner; 2000.
  • Procrastinating Writers. “Do YouFear Failure?” May 12, 2009.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

5 Most Effective Ways to Get Over Writer’s Block

Advice from a freelance writer -- me

When you write for a living, then writer's block can be crippling. Although people who write as a hobby or "for fun" also feel crippled when they undergo writer's block, they usually have another source of income to fall back on. But for a professional writer, word flow is the only way to get food on the table. Here are five ways to get the butt in the chair and the fingers on the keyboard.

Look At Your Bills

This is an incredibly effective way to remove writer's block. Do not underestimate the thought of getting a harassing phone call from a bill collector. Suddenly, that series of colon cleansing articles due next week looks a little more appetizing.

Needing to pay bills taps into your survival instincts. When asked about his talents, legendary British singer-songwriter Peter Gabriel quickly denies that he possesses exceptional talents. In an interview with Musician magazine, Gabriel explains, "Image that a gun was put to your head and you were told that you'd be shot unless you managed to produce a great work of art. Suddenly you would find motivation to do so."

Let that pile of bills act as a gun put to your head. You'll be writing like mad before you can think about it.

Read Something From Your Favorite Charity

Ever wish you could give more money to your favorite charity? You could if you wrote more articles, blog posts or whatever it is you write in order to get paid. By looking at people or animals that suffer worse lives than you have, your writer's block seems to dwindle in comparison. This is a more altruistic version of the first method.

Just stick to one charity or you'll soon feel overwhelmed with responsibilities. Try to keep the reading of websites, charity newsletters or whatever to about ten minutes, or you'll just be reading instead of writing.

Write in Small Chunks

You can trick yourself into writing a whole article, short story or whatever. Don’t think "I have to write a whole big project now." Instead, think, "I have to write a headline or title now." That's it. That's all you have to do. When you get that done, mentally pat yourself on the back and think, 

"Alright – now I need to write the first sentence. That's it. Just the first sentence." And so on.
It’s a bit like climbing a mountain or cleaning a house.  The whole task looks insurmountable, but if you take it down into small chunks, the task is accomplished.

Set a Deadline

Even if your writing project does not have a deadline, give it one. It’s hard to justify postponing writing when you have a deadline looming. Make the deadline the day before a special event so that your event is even more special with a sense of accomplishment.  Other deadline dates can include upcoming vacation days, doctor's appointments or when the next episode of your favorite television show comes on.

Loosen Up and Laugh

Your first draft does not have to be perfect. Editing and revision come later. Just get that first draft out as quickly as possible. When you go back and see the mistakes you made, realize that the sky has not fallen because you did a typo. Have a laugh and enjoy the process of getting yet another writing assignment accomplished.