Facebook Is Not Your Website

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Let’s face it people if you are going to work online then you need a website. I’ve already explained why you need a website and what is so incredibly important about it. What is interesting to me is the number of people I see that under “website” put a link to their Facebook page.

Look, I like Facebook as much as the next person but that is NOT your website. You have an account with Facebook but it is not your website. Get it? For the record, the same is true of Linkedin, Twitter, MySpace….etc. If you don’t own the domain, it’s not yours.

For those of you that aren’t overly technically inclined, the domain name is the part just before the “dot” part of the name or after the @ part of the email. Get your own.

Here is the largest problem with listing your Facebook page (or any other page that isn’t actually owned by you) as your website: It makes you look clueless. For a freelance writer that is especially bad though for any freelancer it is generally the kiss of death.

It’s hard to claim that you are great at SEO, technical writing, social bookmarking, or any of the other necessary components that go into web marketing if you A. don’t have a website and B. List Facebook as your website.

Here is the other major problem with having Facebook as your “website”: It is inherently unprofessional. Facebook is a social site. In fact you can look at it this way: You website is your online workplace. Facebook is the place you go after work to have a few drinks and unwind with friends. Mixing the two is a bad idea.

Get your own website and unless you are REALLY REALLY sure, don’t even link from there to your Facebook page. Ask yourself if there is anything at all on there that someone might possible take the wrong way. If the answer is “no” ask yourself this: Do you really want to risk the potential loss of business? It really isn’t worth it. Trust me on that.

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Freelance Writing: Should You Specialize?

Travel Pens

Here is a question that is often on the minds of new freelance writers: Should I go for a niche or write about everything?

The answer depends largely on the individual writer. The unspoken fear is that the writer will not be able to find enough to write about in their niche and that they might possible lose out on other opportunities because they specialize.

I can write 1,000 words on virtually any topic, I’ve done it before. But I prefer writing about certain things. I’m passionate about education, politics and dogs. I love to travel, garden, fish and play games. So for me, the areas I PREFER to write about tend to be those things I love and am passionate about. Travel writing is my favorite so I write in that market a lot. When I actively search for new gigs, that’s where I tend to look.

My online resume and website list far more than just my favorite markets. It lists things like finance, home repairs, real estate, business etc. So I have the best of both worlds. I can accept the gigs I want when someone approaches me about something other than my particular preference and I am proactive in finding things to write about that I enjoy.

This is what I suggest new writer do. You have a simple website that lists all of your abilities and you look for the types of writing gigs that you most enjoy. I also encourage them to write outside their comfort zone to become more familiar with different markets and different writing styles. We can’t always write about just the things we want, but we can certainly try to do that as often as possible!

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Don’t Sell Yourself Short: Freelance Writing Fees


There are two primary ways that freelance writers price their work: By the hour and by the word. For the new freelance writer it can be confusing trying to decide which to use and it can be difficult to explain the matter to potential clients.

I’m certainly not going to tell anyone that they way is good or bad. I just know what works for me.

You answer an ad looking for a freelance writer to write blog posts. The offer is for $100 a month. If you have no experience or are in need of money that can sound pretty good. When you inquire further you are told that they are quick and easy to write and need to be written daily. If you noticed that I highlighted that phrase it’s because this is one of the most hated phrases to freelancers of all fields. It’s generally said or written by someone who has no clue and it also means that the post/article/website change is going to be more detailed and complex than the riddle of the Sphinx.

Assume that you decide to take the job. After doing it for a couple of weeks you have learned the following things:

  • You have to write the posts to a minimum of 250 words
  • You have to insert links
  • You have to insert tags
  • It must green light on SEO

It takes you roughly 20 minutes to do the post. There are a couple of ways that you can look at this: Per post and per hour. The per post rate is roughly $3.23 or $9.69 per hour. If you look at it per word it’s about $0.01 per word.

That’s not very good. If you are paid via Pay-Pal and you have to pick up the fees you are making about $9.15 an hour. If you need the money then it’s better than nothing; barely.

Some blog posts want more and some less. These things will alter the numbers above. You have to decide if it’s worth it to you. Now if you have no income or are just starting out, it’s great while you are looking for better paying gigs. Otherwise, you might want to pass. Textbroker pays better. So keep looking for better paying gigs. If you are doing 2-3 of these a day, that’s fine. You get a little cash and still have plenty of time to hunt for more work.

I generally prefer to charge by the word. Keep in mind, I can turn out about 1,000 words in around 30 minutes. So it’s in my best interest to charge that way.

If I feel that the project is going to require more than the normal amount of research I will sometimes charge by the project or raise my per word rate to compensate for the additional research.

The one thing I never do is charge by the hour. I have known far more freelancers than I care to admit that have been insulted by potential clients who think that they will be cheated by a per hour rate. They can normally understand the per word rate and a project rate. But for an hourly rate they seem to want to stand over you and watch. I just prefer to avoid the matter entirely.

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Great Sites: Contently



You know how freelance writers wander around the web looking for decent places to work for, sites to hold their online portfolios and a place where the pay is actually fair? I was doing that one day and stumbled upon the website for Contently.

Contently offers free portfolios for writers and makes it easy to put them together. After you have assembled your portfolio you can apply to their writers program by just clicking a button. After all, they have your entire portfolio!

The jobs board is being worked on and eventually you will be able to apply directly to writing teams. For now, you have to wait until they contact you. When they contact you, they will ask if you want to be added to a particular team. After accepting you log into the site and pitch story ideas to them. You are paid $5 for each pitched idea. Then after you write the story you are paid the agreed upon amount for that publisher. The rates range from $50 to over $85.

After you write and submit the story (you are usually given 3 days for each article, word count depends on client demands) via the Contently interface, the article goes to your editor. I’ve worked with 4 different editors over there and every one of them has been great. After the article is approved, usually within 3 days, your account is credited with payment and you can transfer the money to Pay-Pal.

There is also a weekly newsletter with writing tips, freelance job ideas and so on. It’s called The Freelance Strategist and it’s a must-read for any freelance writer. Published weekly and sent directly to your email if you subscribe, one of their newest articles, written by Carrie Anton, should be required reading by everyone in the Freelance world: Tricks of the Trade: Dollars and SenseCheck it out when you get the time.

Contently is without a doubt one of the best, if not the best, places for freelance writers on the net.

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Do You Need A Website?

You would seriously not believe how many freelance writers ask me if they really need a website. The answer is a resounding YES!

Websites have become almost mandatory in the business world today. It only makes sense that freelancers would have them as well. Many companies and publications simply will not do business with a freelance writer if they don’t have one. It’s actually considered unprofessional and lazy for you to not have one. My own take on the matter is that if you have a business, you have a website. PERIOD. Of course also being a web designer I happen to think everyone needs at least two websites; one professional and one personal. But I’m kind of weird that way; my dog and cat each have their own websites….nevermind.

If you know nothing about designing a website, look around online. There are literally thousands of places that make designing a website fast and easy for even a complete novice. Alternately, you can hook up with a freelance web designer and offer free writing work in exchange for a simple site. Please try to limit this to people you already know (you wouldn’t like someone you didn’t know hitting you up for free stuff!) and you will have to pay for the domain name and hosting. For less than $100 a year you can have a nice simple website where you can send potential clients. Incidentally, it’s tax-deductible.

So what do you put on the website? Start with a little something about your qualifications and experience. A resume is good as well as any testimonials and a services page. Be creative but keep it simple and professional.

For more really great tips visit the blog of Make a Living Writing.

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Dealing with Deadbeat Clients

Anger Controlls Him

I’ve been lucky in that I’ve only had one deadbeat client. I think part of my luck stems from the fact that my best friend is an attorney and would go after them on a contingency basis she would even do it for free if I asked. I do work for free where my close friends are concerned, but then they work for free for me when I need it. There is a really great (horrible?) website about deadbeat clients. It’s called Clients From Hell and it can be really funny. It’s just horrible how some people have been treated by their clients.

How do you deal with bad clients?

The short answer is “how bad do you need the money?” In other words, the best way to deal with bad clients is to put yourself into a financial position where if you land one you can fire them. Of course many clients are great until the time to actually pay your for your work appears. Then you can end up with insults, rants and outright refusals to pay. This is where it pays to know a few legal specifics.

In my state, failure to pay for contracted work is a breach of contract and a civil matter. Depending on the amount you can take them to small claims court or you can sue them in a general court. If you win, and as long as you have fulfilled your side of the contract, you will be paid. The client will also have to pay court costs and the fees for your attorney. It gets a bit grittier if they actually used your work and then didn’t pay. That constitutes fraud and depending on the dollar amount is a felony. While jail time is unlikely, it is possible. I’ve never actually seen a case where it came to that. Once the client talks to his attorney he is usually willing to pay just about any amount to make the whole thing go away. So knowing the laws in your state can be a big help.

It can also be helpful to spread the word about deadbeat clients (and late paying or insulting clients as well) to other freelancers. If you are networking with other freelancers in your area (and you are a fool if you don’t) let them know who the good clients and the bad clients are that you have had dealings with.

As I said earlier, I’ve had one deadbeat client. It was Bestcovery.com. This was several years ago when the site was just getting started. They contracted with me to write several articles, used them and never paid me the $100 they promised. Still, I got off easy. It could have been a lot more.

I recommend a signed contract before starting work. I also recommend that you copyright your work immediately. Then if they don’t pay, they can’t use it. My standing policy is to turn over the copyright after the final payment has been processed. The best part of this policy, though it is in the contract itself, is that other than the actual amount of work, date of delivery and price, no one seems to know it’s there. Good clients have nothing to worry about. They pay and then I send them the copyright along with a letter thanking them for their business, telling them how much I enjoyed the project and that I hope to work with them again. They love getting that letter.

Bad clients, well they are illegally using my work and I would sic my friend on them.

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Real V/S Pseudo Home Offices

Home Office

I’m supposed to be on vacation today so please don’t tell my family that I was writing instead!

I’m an avid fan of home decorating sites and shows. Don’t even get me started about House Hunters International….LOL. Part of it is seeing the new and creative things people do with their private spaces and part of it is that the project goes from start to finish in a matter of minutes. The reality is far more grim. I know, I’ve renovated a house before. While I like the results the actual process is horrible.

Those of you who have seen my own home office and have read my blog know that I actually work from home on a full-time basis. This IS my day job. So I know the difference between a functional and a non-functional home office. Unfortunately most of the professionally designed “home offices” you see online are not really functional for someone like me.

The problem is that we all work differently and a design professional goes by norms and averages. They also go by pretty. There is a reason most actual offices are not “pretty.” Pretty is seldom functional on its own.

What I recommend for someone creating a home office is absolute abject honesty with themselves. Here is a trick to try: Make a list of everything within arms reach of you at your desk. Then move all of it into a pile across the room. Spend the next two weeks living with the pile. Everything you actually get up to get for work needs to be kept within reach of the desk; the rest doesn’t.

After you get rid of the clutter you will miss something. In my case it was my Big Fish Games anniversary fish. Silly, I know but I missed seeing on my desk and so I moved it back. It doesn’t take up much space and it makes me happy.

Oh and if you are freelance writer, get a Lucky Bamboo Plant. Just trust me on this. Get one and keep it close to your desk.

One final thing and this is more of a personal rant than anything else:

kindle touch

I LIKE technology. I LIKE seeing my Kindle Touch on my desk. I LIKE seeing my iPad. I LIKE seeing my computer and my netbook. I realize that others don’t like these things being visible but it would be nice if, every now and then, some professional designer would create a home office space that doesn’t look as though it’s from the 1980’s due to the almost stunning lack of visible technology. Not all of us want a Little house on the Prairie look to our office. Please remember that. Oh, and remember that there are other computers in the world besides the Mac. Please.

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