Four Secrets Every Freelance Writer Should Know

Finding the right balance between writing what you want and writing for a living can be a difficult challenge for freelance writers. There may not be a good target market for the style and subject you would prefer to write about, but there is an endless supply of work for social media, technology and business experts, online. Here are four ways you can increase your chances of finding the right balance and earning enough money.

1.     Finding the right publisher

You can choose to write material and seek a publisher to sell your work to, or you can agree to write what a publisher requires. The two sets of work are often miles apart in subject choice unless you are one of the lucky writers who happens to live in an online social networking and SEO world.

However good your own work is, if you cannot find a suitable publisher, you will not be paid for your work. Your research hours may have reduced your pay per hour too far. Also, you need to consider the constant flow of rejections and your underlying stress levels.

If you are given an assignment you must complete on time or preferably, sooner, so you can guarantee payment. Of course, it must meet the brief offered and be suitable work for the personality with the check book.

2.     Finding jobs that pay enough

The jobs are out there and you need to find out how to locate them if you want to earn enough to extend your standard of living, at the very least.

Often the work offered by organizations will be mind-numbingly boring, but there is enough of it to ensure you can pay your bills. There isn’t always sufficient work in the area of your expertise, so you will spend time online researching the subject so you can write as an authority, taking care not to copy work directly from another source.

3.    The competition is fierce

You are not the only writer out there who has found they can work from home to avoid long car chases and the endless office politics that prevented real work at the office.

You are in competition with many countries where English isn’t the first language, but they can write for figures you wouldn’t dream of taking for a job. Just because others will work for the price of an expensive coffee each day, it doesn’t mean you should try to compete. You need to fight with your skills to not only write to the brief, but to ensure you meet all deadlines and are easy to work with.

4.   The editor is not always right

Editors vary in how they wish to see a finished product. If you write for several editors you will need to remember and apply each individual’s choice of style and composition. Otherwise, you run the risk of your work being returned for a re-write.

Even when editors are wrong in their choices, you must still apply to their terms and not fight an editor over your preferred alternative to writing sentences, paragraphs or layout. If they prefer short sentences while you maintain that long sentences make for better English, you will lose out in the long term. You might win the battle, but you won’t win the war which means they won’t offer you further work if you become a nightmare to work with.


Tim Brookes is the Managing Director of Storage Concepts a UK-based mezzanine floor & suspended ceiling company @storageUK


The Quickest Way to Become a Freelance Writer [Opinion]

Don’t let the title fool you even though it was intended to do just that, just to get you here. Alas, there is no speedy way to excel to lofty heights immediately in this coveted career, in fact, you better bring all of the patience you have. If you are fresh from a search engine having heard of an elusive, yet fabulously prestigious and adventurous new career that can be lovingly referred to by such titles as:

  • Freelance Creative Writing Artist
  • Independent Copywriter
  • Grammar Guru
  • Word Dynamo
  • Anything that includes the words “writing” and “consultant”

You are in luck! The first thing you should do if you are seeking knowledge on how to get started in freelance writing is to immediately have the illusion above destroyed. If you really want to become a freelance writer, you should probably get more attuned to titles such as:

  • SEO Junkie
  • Current Content Destroyer
  • Manuscript Manipulator
  • Erroneous Word/Phrase Creator
  • Deadline Breaker
  • Where the H*ll is My Money?

At least to begin with. Sorry to have been so brutal, but someone needed to tell you. Even freelance writers with a list of incredibly valid, high-quality and digitally impressive links have little choice in how and where to get started freelance writing. At the bottom. (Unless they have a super-fantastic teacher like me, of course)

Why Am I Saying This Now?

You’re right, I should have said this a long time ago. The problem is that I run into so many people, on a regular basis, who should be doing this job and I can’t help but point this out to them. (I’ve got my eye on you, Justin!) Some are struggling, some are not, some don’t realize they even have the talent or the ability. Some just have a fantastic way with words, the ability to drag a viewer in for a read, kicking and screaming and such.

At one point, I thought perhaps hoarding my knowledge to myself to be an option worth considering. Well, that lasted about five minutes before I tossed up a content writing company website, hired 50 writers, and began to train others to do just as I had done for myself so many years ago. Back in those days, content writing was a bit more like an old game of whack-a-mole. You jumped on a topic and literally beat it into search engine submission until your beater broke or the time ran out. These days, it’s a bit more intricate than that.

What Did I Do?

I worked hard. I worked myself into a frenzy of carpal tunnel syndrome. I built my portfolio. I’ve shown this here before, so if you do not have one, even better, if you feel like you don’t need one, it might be in your best interest to just stop the delusion train right this instant and step right off. Although you should begin on sites like:

You should also plan to get away from them as fast as possible. Use them to build a steady base of clients. Use the resources available at sites like Odesk or Elance to educate yourself on the many elements of freelance copywriting. (Also, expect to pay for those services with percentages of yours and your clients money going to their system to keep them running.)

I studied. (Still do, every day, get used to it)

Once you step into independent mode and begin to create your own content, you should immediately get familiar with how social media is used to aggregate your work and bring your client’s, and your own, content right out into the dazzling sunlight of social sharing. When  I try to explain to prospective writers the two most important things to do first, to get on the road to the most fantastic job you will ever do in your pajamas, I always tell them to:

  1. Get Familiar with SEO (And be prepared for what you learned today to mean zilch tomorrow. It is your responsibility as a content writer to examine all trending information when it comes to content creation. Google Algorithm Change Log is now your best friend and worst enemy.)
  2. Understand How Social Media Works for Content

I was patient.

Plan to spend anywhere from four to six months (most people who aren’t still living the illusion by this point will realize they probably shouldn’t go ahead and tell the boss where to put the old day job just yet) getting attuned to what it takes to be a:

  • Website Copywriter
  • Article Writer/Rewriter
  • Freelance Writer
  • Independent Writer
  • Other Reasonably Sounding Titles without Divatude

By now, you have probably learned very little about the mass range of intricate details that it takes to be a professional freelance writer. However, I get the sense you may still be curious about the phrase that indicated the loss of money. It’s true. Most especially when you make the final conversion from aspiring writer on outsourcing websites to managing your own rowdy pack of roving clients. For that reason I leave you with a list of things a budding freelance writer should keep in mind.

Freelance Writer Resources



Joy Lynskey is the Content Manager for DBMEI and the owner of JRL Solutions, a copywriting and content management company based in Bedford, Virginia. JRL Solutions hosts a Freelance Writers Education Blog that is managed by direct and guest posting. Joy is the Content Manager and Editor for Puglisi Consulting Group at Digital Brand Marketing Education. Joy regularly works in SMM via freelance consulting  private clients with their social media campaigns. @joylynskey


The Ten Commandments of Communication

Smoke signals


For as far back as I can remember there have always been certain things that were considered appropriate and not acceptable for communicating between humans.

These include guidelines within a particular type of communication as well as when what type of communication is most effective and preferred.

Let’s start with types of communications. It may be impossible for many of us who literally walk around with the world in our pockets to imagine a time when contacting another person was more than a fingertip away.


Anyone who has ever watched a ‘cowboys and Indians’ movie knows the basic etiquette of smoke signals. The Indians mastered them and the cowboys were always giving away their location by lighting fires that created ‘here I am’ smoke signals at the least opportune times.

There were also the signals that resulted from catching the sunlight on a piece of mirror or glass. I don’t know the science behind it. But it seemed to have its good points too unless it was cloudy, raining or nighttime.

Mores Code Chart

International Morse Code Chart ©


According to John Perry Barlow, the telegraph was the signal of the technological leap that begat the types of communication we have today. With ‘Morse code’, messages could be transmitted by wire (or cable) over great distances both across land and sea. They were ‘translated’ from code to an understandable language.

That worked well except for when some a cable broke or some ne’er do well cut the line and interrupted the then vital means of communication.


Then came the telephone, with operators. Invariably in a small town, the telephone operator was the best-informed citizen, even though one was not supposed to listen in on private conversations. The same shortcoming existed where people shared the same phone number called a ‘party line’. The person being called knew by the type of ring tone which party it was for. There again one could listen in their neighbor’s call and violate their privacy.

If you remember the movie, Driving Miss Daisy, there was one phone in the first floor hallway. There was a piece of furniture it sat on and on a shelf with the paper phone book. Well you can wipe out that nostalgic memory along with all the great ‘telephone tables’ I painted as a decorative painter. They were a combination of bench, table and shelf. Some of them were quite lovely and a modern facelift made them quite the collector’s item.

But then, every room had a phone. Phones came in every color to match any décor. There were princess phones for the ladies of the house, wall phones for the kitchen and the standard table or desk phone. They were all made by one company and they were made to last. In fact, they outlasted the technology they were made to serve.


telephone table painted by Alison Gilbert

Telephone table from the © 'Recycled with Love' Collection. Painted by Alison Gilbert

Now let’s fast-forward from operators, to dial phones, to touch tone phones, to huge mobile phones, to car phones, to the cell phones of today. That’s lots of kinds of phones. There is also faxing, texting and the myriad of ways we can communicate by Internet.

We have so many choices. Do we call someone and on a landline or by cell? Do we e-mail them? Or should we text them, message them on Facebook, or use Google +? How did people manage before? Many people in countries where landlines are not laid use cell phones as their major line of communication. Most of us, in what we consider ‘civilized’ countries, cannot live without our cell phones even though we have landlines too.

But have you noticed that given the nature of the relationship, it is sometimes a challenge to know which is the most appropriate way to contact someone? Is a phone call too familiar? Sometimes it can be. I have even noticed that an email can be intrusive too. In fact, it is not so easy to get someone’s e-mail address anymore. Many businesses have a form to fill out so they can contact you.

So far there does not seem to be an official etiquette book on the do’s and don’ts of present day communication. I find a lot of it is common sense. Just about as often, I go by what feels right to do. Sometimes, I will have many choices, which makes it more difficult. Other times, the situation limits my choices and makes my decision easier. Here’s a general rule of thumb or ‘Ten Commandments of Communication’ that I have developed:

The Dick Tracy Two Way WristTV

  1. Do what is least invasive. You can always move onto another less formal means of communication once the groundwork is laid.
  2. Email in all caps is considered yelling, so use your indoor voice.
  3. Unless someone is your sweet heart or it is an emergency, call at a reasonable hour. What is reasonable does vary from person to person.
  4. Do not call someone’s cell number unless they gave it to you or it is on their business card.
  5. Personal email addresses should be given the same consideration.
  6. Ever think of sending a letter? I mean a personal letter, not spam.
  7. And speaking of spam, the verdict is still out on bulk email in my book. Even people on a permission-based mailing lists can find one newsletter after another rather tiresome. Unless you have something of real value and importance to say, I say, don’t send it.
  8. When you leave a phone message, speak slowly. Repeat your information, you name, your phone number and the reason for your call. You name, your phone number and the reason for your call.
  9. Respect other people’s privacy. That may seem like a joke these days but do your best.
  10. Do not talk on your cell phone in a restaurant or other public place as if it were your private space.

I hope you find these guidelines helpful. Please let me know what you think, agree, disagree, have another or better idea. Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks.


Alison Gilbert is the Digital Age Storyteller. She is a regular contributing author to DBME, writes The Marketing Byte Blog and is The New York Graphic Design Examiner. Alison is the owner of MARKETING BYTES Solutions 4 Local Biz. Located on Long Island, New York, MARKETING BYTES serves clients virtually everywhere.

Their boutique style – very personal service – hybrid company specializes in helping local/small biz generate sales leads by transitioning from traditional advertising to online marketing. Contact MARKETING BYTES at or call 516-665-9034 ET


Funding Your Freelance Writing Business

The greatest aspect of funding your freelance writing business is that you are only as limited as your ambitions, creative talents and the time it takes you to complete writing projects. As a freelance writer you likely have already gained some knowledge on what it takes to win larger projects as well as specific knowledge different clients seek.

It is imperative to create a business plan and set aside some of your income from freelance writing projects. Once you begin building it, funding a small online business will be as easy as paying writers as they complete projects.  When considering funding your freelance writing business, realize that it is a distinct possibility that others may not have the ethical practices you have. Clients have been known to run off without pay, so be prepared emotionally and financially for that possibility as well.

The Basic Requirements

Before you delve into creating a small online business of your own in the writing niche, you need a reliable internet connection, an up-to-date computer and the willingness to work longer hours than you would as a part-time or even a full-time freelance writer. You will likely need at least two to four hours per day to have enough success to ensure your failures are not ‘end-alls’ for your company.

Build on Your Good Name

Outsourcing clients who are happy with you and your team may need larger projects completed. They could also have other affiliates that do. As your own writing career becomes more lucrative, improve upon the portfolios and profiles of your writer-base. Once you have a steady amount of work on your own, strike out from the freelance employee niche and become a freelance employer. Make sure that prospective employers understand you may be a part of a writing group or small online business that caters to clients with larger content needs.

Outsourcing Ethically

Never mislead a client if you are outsourcing jobs they give you. This is not only unethical but can end up costing you your reputation. If a client has agreed that your work is up to their standards and you turn in work from another writer who did not meet those standards, the client will assume you lack consistency and may decide to terminate your contract. Fair assumption, you didn’t supply consistent content, regardless of who created it. On many freelance work sites, the client would win that disagreement in a moderation process.

However, once you have clients with whom you have made clear you will have a group of writers on their project, make sure that each writers work lives up to the standards that you originally provided. This may require that you spend less time writing and a bit more proofreading the work of others. Be financially prepared with a bit of overhead from your own completed assignments in case the proofing or approval process takes a bit longer with larger orders. It will. Expect to spend at least a couple hours per day doing not much else for even the smallest projects.

Don’t Multitask Too Much

The freelance writing world is full of competent writers and websites that clients can be fully satisfied with. For this reason it will become your personal responsibility to see that your freelance writing business stands out among others. Before you go from employee to employer, you may also want to consider building up some funds to invest in marketing. Without a bit of help, the time you spent hunting, managing, and completing projects, will go from around two hours per day to ten. You can not add the much needed element of marketing on top of your many other responsibilities and expect any of them to be highly-effective. You can also expect to find yourself failing at both ends if you do. Certainly be hands-on when it comes to learning how the marketing process works. You will eventually have the time to give that area of your business far more consideration.

Funding your freelance writing business will become much easier if you demand high standards from your employees and perhaps even set up a series of rewards for consistently meeting those high standards. This will return your own private working time back to you, which you can turn over to completing the projects that will be funding your freelance writing business.

Get Started Here @DBMEi

There may be no other place better to start than right here on DBMEi if you are searching for some free freelance writer education as well as practices that you should inject into your own Freelance Writing Business.  Currently we have Megan Campbell, Vanessa Canner,  Leigh Egan, & Megan Harriswho, along with me, all write on Freelance writing  topics here @DBMEi.

Joy Lynskey is the owner of JRL Solutions, a copywriting and content management company based in Bedford, Virginia. JRL Solutions hosts a Freelance Writers Education Blog that is managed by direct and guest posting. Joy is the Content Manager and Editor for Puglisi Consulting Group at Digital Brand Marketing Education. Joy regularly works in SMM via freelance consulting  private clients with their social media campaigns. @JoyLynskey

Social Media: One, Two, Three

social media icons ©

Social Media icons. 65 Bookmarks and Social Icons. ©

When I first signed up with facebook a few years ago this month, I was gung ho. I wanted to be up there with the superstars batting 5,000 and having to get a fan page because there was no more room on my personal page. Well the names are not the only things that have changed since then.

‘Personal pages’ are now called ‘profiles’ and ‘fan pages’ became ‘LIKE’ business pages. They are now just referred to as ‘pages’. In an effort to comprehend even the most superficial of the latest facebook changes, timelines, page covers, no more choosing the default page, etc., I have attended webinars, read numerous blog posts and spoken to colleagues.

During a fact filled webinar hosted by social media diva, Amy Porterfield, I got some real gems in addition to the big boulders of info. She emphasized the importance of users stopping focusing on the almighty ‘LIKE’ and indicated what was more important.

That really got me thinking about ‘SOCIAL’ media as a whole. We have reduced this term to a single hashtag, #socialmedia. I think this is a mistake. It is no coincidence that the term SOCIAL is put before the word media as two words. Internet media is distinguished from other types of media by the single adjective SOCIAL. Why does this matter? I thought about it and have concluded the following.

Using SOCIAL Media correctly involves a three step process. All these steps apply to the myriad of online technological applications:

ONE: Introduction
The purpose of SOCIAL media is to introduce ourselves to others both as individuals and as business people, to begin to get to know each other, to interact.

TWO: Engagement
The way we get to interact is by engaging in conversation. A conversation is NOT ‘post and run’ or ‘LIKE’ me and I will ‘LIKE’ you. I see these so often it frustrates me to tears. A conversation, discussion or interaction is, for example, about my providing information of value, asking others what they think about it and getting responses. It is about starting a CONVERSATION, in other words, providing an opening for there to be one.

THREE: Relationship
Engaging in repeated conversations even limited to 120 characters (leaving room for re-tweeting) can start and lead to a relationship. The chances of meeting unlimited numbers of people on the Internet that we have interests in common with are staggering. The relationships that can form are real and rewarding.

Whether it is in-person or virtually, it is human nature to connect, and want to connect with others, especially folks with things in common (tribes).  SOCIAL media makes this possible like no other tool of communication has done during any other time in recorded history. To be social on the Internet, just remember, it’s as simple as one, two, three.

Alison Gilbert is the Digital Age Storyteller. She is a regular contributing author to DBME, writes The Marketing Byte Blog and is The New York Graphic Design Examiner. Alison is the owner of MARKETING BYTES Solutions 4 Local Biz. Located on Long Island, New York, MARKETING BYTES serves clients virtually everywhere.

Their boutique style – very personal service – hybrid company specializes in helping local/small biz generate sales leads by transitioning from traditional advertising to online marketing. Contact MARKETING BYTES at or call 516-665-9034 ET


#SMWF: How Hilton Does Social Media

Hilton has one message from their industry that rings true into their social media campaigns. Hospitality is social. If it isn’t, the execs at Hilton think it should be. Their studies into how social media integrates with travel accommodations has shown:

  1. Those who travel often are commonly also active on social media networks.
  2. Those who use these channels do expect their favored businesses and locations to be listening, available, and willing to respond via these networks.
  3. Those using these venues are not only interested in deals, but often also travel advice, and to deal with customer service issues.

Hiltons Wide-Reaching Social Network

Hilton has made finding information on an incredible variety of things on social networks of all types, quite easy. They regularly post interesting videos on YouTube that show a myriad of benefits for choosing Hilton accommodations when you head out for your next vacation.

Check out this video about a spectacular special drink created by one of Hilton’s own bartenders at the Hilton Hawaiian Village® Waikiki Beach Resort.

Not only does this create an interest in this location and its amenities, it also builds upon true customer engagement by giving them a real taste of what to expect on their next trip, but also a familiarity that many can appreciate.

None of the above even takes into account that not only does Hilton engage their customers with this type of open information but they have also effectively engaged the employee. It looks like Hilton has taken the proactive stance that many other businesses have by utilizing their current staff to share the big picture through social media networking.


Social Media Guru for Hilton, Vanessa Sain-Dieguez, helps implement training for their employees on how to use social media to help take care of their customers. In a comprehensive study on using social media with their guest, they noted one very important issue, customers do not just expect their favored businesses to be ‘listening’ to them, but they also expect them to act.

A highly active Twitter account known as @HiltonSuggest stays on the lookout for those who Tweet messages like:

Although none of these Tweets specifically mentions Hilton, @HiltonSuggest still doesn’t mind offering immensely helpful suggestions based on exactly what folks are looking for in the Twitterverse. Also noticable is the fact that not all of the blurbs thrown into the Twitterverse have hashtags, which shows that Hilton is really listening, the replies show that they are also willing to act, even when it doesn’t mean a direct consumer experience for their industry.

It turns out that dbmei author had written an article that had personally touched him and his family, and yes Hilton was behind it! Check it out here.

Defining Social Media in the Hotel Industry

A panel co-hosted by HVS Executive Search and ESSEC Business School Paris was held on February 7th, 2011 to discuss what the rise in social media means for the hotel industry. Attendees were students, hoteliers and other staff, all of whom declared they are active on at least one social media network.


Skype: The Platform that Microsoft Just Bought

An announcement on May 10th that Microsoft had bought Skype was obviously colossal business news, however, most users seem more concerned with how the eight and a half billion dollar deal will impact their user experiences.

Skype in 2010

In the past year, Skype has seemingly remained focus on providing a positive user-experience for their consumers, and that focus may have also been a driving factor behind a reported $7 million dollar loss for the company. With whispers of a holographic Skype in the works, among other improvements, it seemed to be doing fairly well in keeping up with the times though. Other key elements in important improvements to Skype in 2010 included:

  • Two way video calling for the iPhone was implemented
  • New capability for phoning friends on Facebook
  • Even the President took the first-ever Skype call at a town hall meeting to help bring the entire world into the digital dimension.

In early 2010, Skype teamed up with Citrix to provide remote desktop capabilities in GotoMeeting for Skype video chat users. This partnership brought an entire new aspect to Skype’s capabilities when it came to meeting and beating the curve for a fully bundled, big business remote meeting or educational tool.

Ending the year with a crash due to shaky servers and a possible bug in the client software, Skype may have been sent plunging towards the edge it was brought to when the decision to sell began to seem like the best one for current users.

Skype Users

It seems that everyone is using Skype for either personal reasons that can include things like communication with family in the same country, or across the globe, to large corporations that have begun to use it to conduct meetings, or even hiring processes, thereby saving immense expenses in travel and other costly elements for their companies.

Predominantly used by highly educated males ages 45 years old and up, global traffic statistics shows its three-month traffic ranking stands at #198, while the US ranks it at #281. It is also incredibly popular in other countries such as Algeria, India, and Russia. Skype is still currently located in Luxembourg.

Future positive prospects for Skype may be possible, however, Microsoft may need to go as far as needed to retain the best, brightest employees that Skype currently has while implementing lucrative changes for the products longevity. Whispers of possible changes for the Skype program have included a wide variety of possibilities.

Facebook Friendly

One of the rumors includes putting the Skype product in front of over 600 million Facebook users by integrating video chat into their social network. Although it may have been no more than a passing comment, it was mentioned around the recent sale that ‘social’ may be one of the possible new uses for a Microsoft-lead Skype.

Since Microsoft still actually owns a small piece of Facebook with a buy-in of $240 million in 2007, it seems a quite likely, time and money saving idea for their developers.

Improving Microsoft Mobile Technology

It is no huge secret that Microsoft’s Windows phones are no true leaders on the cell phone market circuits. Since Android and Apple products already have the capability to run Skype apps, it seems likely that Microsoft would now follow suit, however, it is also obvious from a marketing standpoint that not quite everyone is into the video chat scene quite yet, although it of course remains a frank possibility for future benefit.

Gaming Integration

Although the Xbox remains a very popular gaming console with off and online capabilities, for high-end gamers, other consoles still remain top priority when it comes to real-time communications.

Considering that at least 10 million Xbox users now have cameras attached to their Xboxes, those 10 million now owning the Kinect system, already have the works for setting up video chat capabilities, indeed, video chat gaming integrated capabilities, could be quite endless with Skype as their video tool, and immensely intriguing to the gaming world, another extremely lucrative industry. No doubt putting Skype on the Xbox could be a significant push forward for both products.


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