Monday, June 30, 2008

Multi-million dollar Internet Marketing Company launches contest

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been watching the pre-launch of a really impressive and brand new video contest that just launched on June 1st.

The prize?

A complete business makeover worth over $15,000. The prize package includes airfare, hotel, and you get to spend a full day with Internet Marketing experts who are there to help completely transform your business.

For more details, click here.

Who should enter?

What's really interesting about this contest, is that really anyone who does any business on the Internet could really make out well here. Not only could you win the grand prize, but there are many other prizes available as well.

And here's the big one...

The amount of traffic this could drive to your website is mind-boggling. You're not only entering a contest, but you're also a part of a huge viral marketing campaign where thousands and thousands of people will see your video and your website.

Talk about an opportunity within an opportunity!

Once you enter, post the link to your video here and I'll be sure to check it out and vote on it for you!

The contest ends on July 14, 2008, so hurry! Go now!!!!

Allena's Looking Out for You!

You've probably already found Allena Tapia's awesome pages on She's the freelance writing guide, and has been for almost a year. Here's a link to her list of great places to find writing gigs. Worth checking out (although I'm still a Guru girl!).

Ten Great Links to Find Freelance Writing Jobs: #3 of 5 Lists!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hey - are you still up, too?

So busted!!

Yes, it's late at night. Yes, it's actually my second late night (actually, last night went until nearly 3 a.m. today), so 11 at night is nothing!

But in taking a 'break' to read Cesar's story, I knew there might be others of you up and online at this hour, too. So here it is!

5 Ways Writers Can Get Their Lives Back : Writer’s Resource Center

One o' these days, Freelance Writer will make the list

I always read these lists, don't you? I don't know whether it's out of habit, having spent like 30 years wondering what I'd be when I grew up, or if it's because I'm just nosy about what other people are doing and how much it pays.

10 Cool Jobs and What They Pay from Monster Career Advice

Anyhow, wouldn't it be cool if one day Freelance Writer made the list of "cool jobs"? From my very unscientific sampling, I know that tons of people think this is one of the coolest jobs out there. In fact, most people who find out what I do for a living are pretty impressed (or polite?). But there's still that stereotype, that misguided notion that writers suffer and starve.

My prediction: as the internet continues to grow and grow and grow, commercial writing will become a common major among college students, and will become one of those jobs that people actually know what you do!

I read something about IT job opps will grow to like 600,000 in a few years - and there won't enough qualified workers to fill the jobs. Well, where there's tech, there's also got to be copy, right? : )

Friday, June 27, 2008

Is SEO Dead?

When I first started writing, I wrote a gazillion articles about mortgage and real estate topics. They were 500 word deals, with 3% keyword density. Pure torture... and all for $2 each!

So you can see why I'm not a huge fan of keyword-dense articles. It's kind of like when you get some bad Cashew Chicken, and it takes a few years before you're up for trying it again.

The absolute worst was when I had an international client who wanted 5% density! And he had the whole "longtail keywords" thing down pat. Just imagine trying to fit a five- or six-word phrase smoothly into your text five times for every 100 words!

Most of my clients now, though, have come to their senses. They're after articles that read well to humans. No stuffing. No verbal gymnastics required to get these keywords in. Some want their keywords in the title, and sprinkled throughout... but only where they fit naturally.

Thank goodness! A trend that makes sense!

Do you do much keyword density writing? Any tricks or tips you'd like to share? Or, are your clients easing off that horrible trend?

You'll kick yourself if you miss this!

I've been talking about how info marketing is an awesome way for freelance writers to generate some passive income. So, what's so great about info marketing?

You can write and sell books and other products on any topic you're passionate about.
  • Got a child who sucks her thumb? Write about how you're solving (or not!) that challenge.
  • How about your pets? What tips and tricks can you pass along?
  • An expert on your hometown or state? Believe it or not, people are looking for this info!
  • A whiz in the kitchen? or the garage? People want to learn!
TIP: You can use a pen name and publish your own products on an infinite number of topics.

I'm definitely going to look at creating a second WWHW newsletter - one for info marketers. If you're interested, let me know. Email me at:

In the meantime, BIG NEWS!!!

FACT: If you're getting into internet marketing or info marketing, you MUST be able to make your own websites quickly and easily. You could easily spend hundreds of dollars getting a simple site built for you -- I know because I did. Now that I know how to build my own, I'll never do that again.

FACT: We writers don't all tend to be the 'Engineering' type - meaning, if we're going to build our own sites, it better be pretty straight-forward and easy. No complicated code words or anything like that.

FACT: XSite Pro is by far the easiest, most powerful website building program out there. And the price is miniscule compared to having even one site built for you - or even most of the other programs out there.

That's why I want you to know about these upcoming XSite Pro Webinars. You can get a guided tour through the program.

  • See how easy it is to use. Very intuitive - if you can send email, you can build a site.
  • Check out all the cool new features - video, social bookmarking, affiliate stuff, RSS feeds - all at the click of your mouse.
  • Get to hear it all from Paul Smithson, the guy behind the program. (Special plus for those of us in the U.S. - he's a Brit, so you get to hear his gorgeous accent. Don't you just feel smarter listening to someone speak like that? Heck, they could read the phone book, and I'd be mesmerized!)
Anyway, there are three different times you can join in. But you'll need to reserve your spot:

Wednesday 2nd July, 05:00am EDT (10:00am UK time)

Friday 4th July, 12:00 midday EDT (5pm UK time)

Sunday 6th July, 3:00pm EDT (8pm UK time)

As you can see, there are days and times to suit
everyone - no matter where in the world they live.

To register, just click here.
Hope to see(?) you there!

Have a question for Peter Bowerman?

Yup. Mr. Well-Fed himself!

Yvonne is interviewing him soon about his third book, on self-publishing. If you've got a question you'd like her to ask, make sure to get it to her soon!

Writers Cafe - Upcoming Peter Bowerman Interview - What Do YOU Want Me To Ask Him - I Need Your Questions

And if you STILL don't have your own copy of all three of these, what's the hold-up? : )



The Well-Fed Self-Publisher

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Did you get a stimulus check in the mail?

By now, millions of Americans are finding a nice little surprise in their mailboxes - an economic stimulus check, usually in the $600 - $1800 range.

(We're usually on extension, so maybe ours will come in time for Christmas?)

I'm definitely not an economist, so I'm going nowhere near any discussion about whether this whole idea is good or foolish. However, I am a woman, pastor's wife, and mom who knows what a big difference a check like this can make in a family's financial life.

You might be tempted to go blow your check on something crazy like a whole tank of gas! But I've got another suggestion instead.

Think of it as the old "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day vs. teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime" angle.

For $600, you could change your whole life. So you'll want to give it some thought.

I've read the statistic somewhere that many families who end up in divorce court wouldn't be there if they'd had a mere $400 per month extra in their budget. Just $100 per week could make a huge difference in your life - the difference between going further into debt and climbing out, the difference between being able to go on a weekly date night with your spouse or neglecting to spend time alone together, the difference between being able to provide extra help for your child or having to just hope for the best.

So my challenge to you is this: Why not take your stimulus check and invest in your future. Get one of the wonderful books out there that'll teach you how to build a thriving writing business (of course, I recommend mine! but there are lots that are good). Get yourself signed up with a paid membership to Guru or another site (I love Guru best, but have heard good things about some other sites), and start winning your financial freedom.

Just imagine having not only some wiggle room in your budget, but to also have enough that you can give to help others. Imagine learning the secrets to "fishing" for yourself - and being able to pass that knowledge and experience on to teach others, too. Imagine the difference you could make in your family, your community, and even in the lives of complete strangers... just by learning how to take care of yourself.

And that'll last much longer than your tank of gas!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What's your typical client like?

I know there are lots of freelance writers out there who work exclusively with Fortune 500 companies. There's even a fantastic guide you can get that'll teach you how to go after these kinds of contracts (I wouldn't even dare to call them gigs!). And I used to think that was exactly the kind of writing business I wanted to build.

It seemed more respectable, more impressive... and definitely more lucrative than working for smaller clients.

And it may be!

But I also know of many, many freelance writers who've built businesses going the other way.

These "little guys" include:
- small businesses
- solopreneurs
- internet marketers
- service professionals

Having worked with both, I'm just really enjoying having some variety.

With my bigger clients, there's a lot more involved that's not so creative. We've got to worry about compliance issues, getting stuff approved by the legal department, and getting the green light from a whole committee. There's not as much room for doing things differently than they've been done before. The writing they seem to like best is, for me, a throwback to college - it's stiffer, more distant, kind of aloof... and very few contractions.

With my smaller clients, even though they can't pay as much (although mine do pay very well), we get to kind of partner together to come up with something brand new, something we hope will get amazing results for them, something we know could flop - but we're still going to give it a try. They like creativity, connectedness, friendly and casual writing. I feel like I can be myself when I write for them. It's like we're in it together - sink or swim!

What kind of clients do you work with most often? What's the "fit" like between your personality and your client list?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ever get writer's block?

Sometimes even the most "in the zone" writer gets stuck.

It's not as bad as those blank lined pages we had in school. "Write SOMETHING!!!" But looking at a blank computer screen can be tricky, still.

It's kind of like when you've got a friend you've known a while. You get together for the afternoon - maybe a trip to the beach or something. You're chatting away, totally enjoying being together, when all of a sudden... you've got nothing to say. Nothing of interest, anyway.

Your mind starts racing, grasping for anything you could ask, any funny story to tell, some news about someone you both know... and you're coming up with nothing.

Panic sets in. You start wondering whether your friend's feeling the same way, agonizing over how dorky you must seem because you're feeling so awkward.

But if you can take a moment to chill a bit, breathe, and think rationally again, you see the truth. A gap in the conversation is actually only uncomfortable when you freak out. In fact, you probably wouldn't even notice it if you just relaxed. And to be honest, being comfortable together in silence is one sign of a really nice relationship.

See any parallels to your writing here?

The more you panic about not having anything to say, freaking out because you feel like you'll never have another word, the more you torture yourself unnecessarily.

Half the battle of beating writer's block is to just chill. Write something else for a few minutes. Even a grocery list. Just like when you're trying to remember some odd little factoid, and it seems just out of reach - but then when you let go and think about something else, it pops right into your head... your mind won't fail you in this either.

Do you ever get writer's block? How do you push through?

Monday, June 23, 2008

How much editing do you do?

I hear all the time from writers who can't leave well enough alone. In fact, I'm married to one! (Well, he's actually a pastor, but he's been working on an apologetics book for the last dozen years.)

You editing addicts are such a mystery to me. Where do you get your patience? How do you keep your enthusiasm for what seems like a never-ending process? How will you know when it's finally 'done'?

At one of the Klemmer & Associates seminars I attended, we heard about the four different quadrants we operate in - the Supporter, the Promoter, the Controller, and the Analyst. Can you guess which one these compulsive editors are in? : )

Me, I fall in the Controller group. Surprised? Hardly, right? One characteristic is that we tend to do things very decisively, doing them only once if at all possible.

Lucky for me, most of the writing I do works well with this - especially lately. Doing copywriting, I'm seeing, is much more a matter of instinct and vision than research, fact-checking, and parsing. Yes, of course there's a certain flow, a definite checklist of necessary elements, and lots of room for tweaking and rewording to choose the most powerful words possible. But there's a definite sense of forward progress as you go.

Also lucky for me, I don't typically take projects that are research-intensive. Of course, thank goodness, I've got the blessing of lots of work to choose from, so I'm growing pickier and pickier without seeing a decline in my project load. But the idea of researching and writing highly technical articles about unfamiliar topics, then going back to edit, rephrase, and diagram sentences... pretty much makes my skin crawl!

Lucky for the tech clients out there... there are TONS of Analysts who are freelance writers. Got to love Analysts! Bless your hearts, you'll pick and perfect until the cows come home. You'll dig in and research odd topics until you know them well. And the clients who are fortunate enough to find you, if they're really smart, will realize the gems you are!

So, how about you? Are you a compulsive editor? Or do you just get in the zone and let it flow? (knowing it's just fine as is!)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Some great tips for bidding on Guru and Elance

Couldn't have said it better myself!

Bids and Proposals for Freelance Work « Daily Freelance Writing Tips

Freelance Writing Jobs - 53 Writing, Blogging, Editing and Translation Jobs

Freelance Writing Jobs - 53 Writing, Blogging, Editing and Translation Jobs

So, how do YOU answer this question?

I've talked some about how funny it can be answering the ubiquitous question, "So, what do you do?"

It's gotten a lot easier recently - probably for a couple of reasons:

- I've found a more precise, yet concise answer (mostly for when I'm networking): "I'm a commercial writer (no pause here) - I specialize in..."
- I've also got a good general-purpose answer: "I'm a writer." (I used to hate that because the next question was always, "What books have you written?" and I didn't have any -- but now I do! Here's mine in case you don't have it yet: Working Writer Happy Writer: How to Build a Thriving Writing Business from NOTHING

Here's Jennifer's take on the subject.

Why I Hate the Question “So, what do you do?” - Blog

How do you answer that question?

Strength in Numbers

Ours is one strange career path, don't you think?

Who else on earth does what we do? Selling opinions, ideas, random thoughts, and persuasive arguments. Very, very strange.

Throw in the whole "I'm on a deadline" dynamic, the one that keeps you inside on a sunny day, and awake until wee hours, and it's no wonder nobody you know really 'gets' you!

Having just spent a weekend with some writer friends, laughing about odd writing requests we've received, comparing projects, fees, and resources - it was wonderful being somewhere where everyone knows your name and game.

Just stumbled onto this site for freelancers in Atlanta, GA. If you're in the area, you should check the site (and the group) out. If you're not in that area, maybe give some thought to forming a local group where you are.

Atlanta Freelancers: Writers, Editors, Graphic Designers, Web, Videographers, Photographers, Illustrators, Marketing, Public Relations Case Studies

Friday, June 20, 2008

The perfect writing environment

OK, part of the issue here with the writing retreat is location.

We're frequent guests with a certain hotel chain, and have accumulated a ton of points. So I could use those to take a nearly free writing retreat.

But the idea of sitting in a nondescript hotel room somewhere is less than inspiring.

So, what about staying somewhere that's a bit of an adventure - somewhere I've never been? Could be the break from normal life that spurs me to great creativity. Or, it could be such an alluring distraction (how could I possibly go to Scotland without spending my days exploring?) that I get no writing done at all.

What about a B&B somewhere? Well, there's the wi-fi question. I'm all for going to a coffee shop now and then to get online, but it would sure be more efficient to be able to do it without that hassle.

Plus I've gotten kind of picky about where I sit to write. A bed isn't going to work. A desk probably isn't going to work. A sofa is iffy. So there's that.

I've got the perfect place in mind - it's a B&B near Traverse City, MI. Actually, I'm not sure about the wi-fi - but this is the place that really captures the quiet, soothing, beautifully inspiring environment I'm dreaming of. Probably not going to happen there this year... but maybe next time?

Where's your ideal writing retreat?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The elusive writing retreat

It's every writer's secret dream, right?

Uninterrupted days and nights of writing, writing, writing. Then eat a great meal with some friends - maybe a glass of wine, or a frozen drink - then back to writing. Write until you drop. Wake up whenever, and start it all again.

A writing retreat.

Last time I did one, I pretty much completed my first book. And now it's time to do it again. It's coming up soon - and I can't wait.

Trouble is, I'm still debating where to go!! (Canada? Minnesota? Michigan's UP? Wisconsin?)

And which book to do next. (Too many outlines started to even list!)

And whether to go alone or with other writers.

Or what about just staying home to do it this time? (The kids will be away. Hubby's all for this idea.) Will it be too much like one of those "stay at home" vacations we took years ago? (Very lame.) Or will it work?

This indecisiveness is totally unlike me - and that's probably the most troubling fly in the ointment. I'm usually more impulsive than this - if it's a great idea, I recognize it immediately, jump in, and make it work. But my wheels have been spinning in the mud on this question for weeks - maybe months.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Freelance Writing Jobs for Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I don't usually find my gigs this way, but I stumbled onto this and thought of you!

Freelance Writing Jobs for Wednesday, June 18, 2008

To be honest, though, I used to look at list after list after list like this trying to find writing gigs, and honestly don't remember ever getting any. However, I have on occasion looked for team members by posting on Craigslist and other sites like that - and sent work their way, so it must work sometimes!

I still say registering with a freelancer site is the best way to go. What do you think?

What's been your best source of work?

Writing from home - probably the biggest challenge

Anyone who works from home - who's got kids, anyway - shares this challenge, and it's a biggie.

With school just letting out, I can practically hear the writers out there groaning in unison: "I can't concentrate with all these people around!"

Some days it seems like it would be a lot easier if I just had an office to go to. I could leave work at work. I could close the door, concentrate, turn off the phone, and work straight through without interruption. Plus, there wouldn't be any complaining - or like I'm hearing lately, begging for a turn on my computer. Don't get me wrong - my kids are awesome, and I love them with all my heart. It's just that we both end up feeling bad about me closing the door and hanging the virtual "Do Not Disturb" sign while I work. And it often takes me twice as long to complete a project when they're home, because it's hard to write with "Sponge Bob" on in the background. With a little escape to a quiet place, maybe I could get it all done in half the time?

And it's always a possibility. There are writers out there who rent office space.

What do you think about that idea? Have you considered it? How is it working for you? Any tips?

Talk about a penny for your thoughts! New on PPP

Well, actually, potentially much more than a penny! So I wanted to be sure you knew about this site that's another excellent way you can get paid to write.

PayPerPost (PPP)is cool because it offers lots of different topics you can blog on. Usually, you're reviewing someone's site, ebook, or just putting your two cents in.

I first heard about PPP from a friend who's in internet marketing. Steve has used it a lot when he's launched new products, or if he just needed to beef up his site traffic. At the time, I didn't have a blog of my own (at least not one I was doing much with!), so I kind of tucked the info away for the future.

Now, I'm definitely a newbie to PPP, but already I can see this will be somewhere I include on my daily rounds around the internet. There are social components, opportunities in every field under the sun, and you can get kind of a sneak peek at what's new out there on the web... and get paid to give your opinion!

Can you really make money with this? I'm guessing you make more as your blog traffic increases - but even until then, it's definitely a nice addition. So, what will I do with all my extra moolah from PPP opps? Probably buy a tank of gas!

Just visit payperpost
for more info.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What's your writing specialty?

All the biggest earners seem to have nailed down a specialty - tech writing, annual reports, direct mail, sales letters. Maybe they started off in a field that was related, and just kind of morphed into writing about that narrow area. It didn't take long before they became experts. They get the lingo, the expectations of their market.

But most writers start out as generalists. As in... generally, they'll write about anything!

For a long time I thought of myself as a generalist. And I wondered when my specialty niche would magically appear. I figured that eventually I'd stumble onto some strange little corner of writing that really lit my fire. In the meantime, I built a business on articles, press releases, website copy, sales letters, ebooks, and some direct mail. Doesn't sound too specialized, does it?

But it occurred to me that it's a lot more specialized than it seems.

For example, I don't do medical writing, technical stuff, manuals, translations, grants, annual reports, scripts, or a bunch of other stuff clients ask for. For those things, I refer out. I could probably learn how to do some of these things (and they might be profitable, too), but I stay too busy writing for my clients (and increasingly, for my own publications) that it doesn't seem like it would be worth working through the learning curve.

How about you? Are you developing any specialties in your writing business?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Finally!! XSite Pro Version 2 Is HERE!

Confession: I'm a total non-techie (my husband actually took my suggestion and paid a college kid $10 to teach him how to sync his iPod). In fact, when I first paid a coach to help me learn about internet marketing, I was probably only one step beyond knowing how to right-click.

But I knew it was really, really important to know how to build my own sites, so I was pretty motivated.

Why's it so important? Two major reasons:
1. Control. I've had sites built by pros before, and yes, they're gorgeous. BUT, if I want to change anything, I've got to ask. Then I feel like, "Am I supposed to pay for every little change? Or is that included?" We never really discussed it. But that awkwardness is enough to make me understand how nice it is to be able to make my own changes - anytime, day or night.
2. The price. The sites I had built for me, I got at a "good friend" discount. But they were still expensive. Really expensive. And if you're getting into internet marketing, you're going to eventually need a bunch of sites. Multiply that out, and you'll see why it's so great to be able to build your own.

Oh, and a third great reason for learning how to do this... it's another skill your clients may want. I've had several who needed their text in html - and XSite Pro lets you create text "normally" and send it all coded up. I've built a number of little sites for clients who didn't need anything really fancy. You can take a peek at a couple if you want:

Anyway, I used the original XSite Pro for those (and of course for my own little site: And it was easy as could be. Of course, I'm good about running through the tutorial first, and that helped.

But the new and improved version has me salivating!

Don't get me started on all the bells and whistles - it'll take forever and you'll get tired of reading. Just trust me on this: if you're looking for a way to ultimately create some other streams of income from your writing, information marketing and affiliate marketing are an excellent plan. You're going to need a site building software thingy... and this one's phenomenal.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

This new version goes on sale TOMORROW!!! (6/17/08) AT NOON EDT.

About being #1 on Guru

When I first signed up for a Guru membership, I didn't even know there was a ranking system - much less what position my profile was in. Probably a good thing, though, because it was most likely up in the 1000's - and that would have been kind of discouraging.

But after a while I caught on, and as I've mentioned before, the whole ranking thing added some fun to the experience. Competing (mostly against myself) to move up became a game I looked forward to every day. Plus, it was kind of fun calling my husband whenever there was a change up or down to announce the new rank:

"This is #39 calling. Have a nice day." (click!)

Bless his heart, he totally understood! And he's like rooting for me!! There have even been jokes about taking out the kneecaps of others above me! (Well, maybe knuckles would be more fitting?)

Having reached #1, though, it feels weird. You see, I'm definitely not the best writer out there, absolutely not the cheapest, and probably not always the friendliest ("You called me? You're fired!) (just kidding) (well, sort of.).

But all that just goes to prove that ANYONE can make a go of this - it just takes persistence, discipline, and some time. Keep at it! And come knock me out of the #1 spot whenever you're ready! : )

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Keeping to the word count: Tip #5

Be efficient.

That. That. That. That. How often is it that that word pops up in the articles that you write? : )

Yeah, it's only one word - but it's one you can almost always cut, and it'll help tighten up your writing. Get in the habit of reading your work to see whether you've got 'thats' you can eliminate.

Along those lines, always choose the most efficient verb. I'm not going to give you grammar nightmares by getting into all the technical terms for verb tenses. The important thing is to choose active verbs over modified verbs whenever you can.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Scraps and leftovers

Does your brain work like this, too?

You get a great idea... then another... and another... and another. Once you turn on the idea faucet it just won't stop. Drip, drip, drip - a thousand fantastic ideas - pure inspiration!

The only problem is that you've got a word count to worry about. And if you don't stop with all these excellent ideas, you'll never finish.

"But they're too great to just let go of them!" your creative little heart cries.

Don't let go! Just save them for later. Like one of those great soups my grandmother used to make, after saving who knows what in her freezer for who knows how long, let those ideas rest for a while. Put them in an idea file for later.

You may get to use them for the same client, if you get an order for more articles on that same topic. Or, you may land another gig on that topic down the road. Or, you might decide to write an article on your own and post it to a directory and make money writing on your own!

This way, no good idea goes to waste!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Keeping to the word count: Tip #4

Be ruthless.

If you forgot (or balked at!) the other reminders, and you find yourself running too long, it's time to break out the weed whacker.

Now's the chance to come up with that outline you should have had before you started. What are the main points you've got to cover?

Read through your novel (!) and start cutting. If it's not on the outline, block and cut. Paste it into another document (just in case). Make sure the remaining paragraphs flow and that the article reads well. Run the word count again and see where you stand.

Rinse and repeat if you're still over.

What do you do with those scraps you trimmed? We'll talk about them next time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Keeping to the word count: Tip #3

Set your goal before your eyes.

OK, it's really not that philosophical - but it's a great visual reminder if you start your document with a reminder of how long the text should be. A simple: "500-700 words" on the first line of your document is enough to remind you where you're headed.

This comes in especially handy when you're working on a batch of articles on the same day. As you research or get inspiration for each article, you can start your outline. Then go back and do the actual writing... without having to remember was this one 500? or 900?

Just be sure to delete your reminder before you turn your article in!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Keeping to the word count: Tip #2

Plan ahead.

Make a list of everything you'd like to cover in the article. Just a list - not a fancy outline. Just a list of one or two words for each point is all you need.

Circle the points you think are most important.

Write those points first, checking word count as you go. If you're under, great - you've got more to write about. If you're nearing the cutoff, wrap it up!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Keeping to the word count: Tip #1

Understand why too much is too much.

Ever had this happen when you start reading an article? Catchy title, compelling first paragraph... you're in. You're totally up for reading this thing, learning something new, getting a chuckle, stretching your perspective... until you realize it's just WAY too long. And you realize the dent it's going to put in your schedule if you take the time to read it all.

So you skim, scan, and scroll your way through the rest and move on.

If you didn't make it to the end, you definitely didn't see the resource box. And if you didn't see it, you didn't click it. And if you didn't click it, no way did you get to the author's site, sign up for the newsletter, find more info, or buy anything.

And that, my friends, is the biggest problem with running long.
Many of your best clients will be internet marketers. The really smart ones use articles to market their sites and products. But for article marketing to work, people have to actually read the articles! Not every word - because most readers still skim, scan, and scroll - but enough to want MORE.

If you understand what your clients are trying to do, you'll get a grip on why word count is important - and that's the first step in being able to work with it.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

What about when YOU'RE the one who can't shut up?

OK, you probably won't be yap, yap, yapping on the phone. But writers run into another form of chattiness, and it can be just as troublesome.

What happens if you just can't seem to stop writing? Your client asks for an article that's about 500 words. You get on a roll. When you're 'done' you run a word count and.... YIKES! You're well over the 725 word mark. Crossing over into page two was your first clue that you weren't going to be able to stop.

Now what?

Well, if you've got an editor, you can just turn that baby over and watch the editor play "Edward Scissorhands" with your text. Words littering the floor, like outtakes from a film. But, if you're a one-person firm (and most of us are), you don't have the luxury of letting someone else do the dirty work.

We'll take a look at some ways to wrap it up over the next few days.

In the meantime, how about weighing in on this question:

What's harder for you - finding enough to say? or, having too much to say?

Friday, June 6, 2008

How to bill a "chatty" client

A while back, a WWHW reader sent me this question, and I answered it in the newsletter. (If you're not subscribed, just pop over to to sign up.)

Thought you might have run into the same problem before, too. (And if not, you will!)

Hi Sue,

I enjoy reading your newsletter, thank you for all your efforts!

I am just preparing an invoice for a client. The project was large and I was surprised when I totaled up my time at how much it added up. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on the details you'd bill your clients for. For example, my client was very chatty whenever we had a phone meeting. Do you charge for the time you talk to a client, all your meeting time? I was including this, but I want to make sure I'm correct in charging for it. I am always very careful not to overcharge for anything, but I don't want to be taken advantage of.

Thank you so much for any insight you may have on this!


Hi Karen,

Congrats on having this 'problem' : ) It shows you're in activity, building your business, and generating an income from your writing. That's fantastic! And I want to honor you for your commitment to charging with integrity - that character quality will serve you well and will be evident to all of your clients.

To answer your question, a lot depends on how the project was initially proposed. Did you quote an hourly rate? A flat rate? Something in-between? How much detail did you include as you and the client discussed your agreement together?

If your agreement was to bill on an hourly basis, absolutely you should include the entire time you met - either by phone or in person. Because you established before you started that your client would pay for your time, your client had the prerogative of being chatty - and should expect to see an invoice that's higher than a less talkative client would get : ) (Obviously, if YOU were the one who talk, talk, talked, you'd need to make an adjustment here!) On the invoice, I'd break it down as 'meeting time' and 'writing time' in this case.

If your agreement was to bill a flat rate for the project, the extra chit chat - and in fact, any meeting time - is on your dime. Your client would be very unpleasantly surprised to find an additional fee for that time, because it would be higher than the original price you quoted. (A sad, sorry lesson I've learned recently, by the way!) You'd want to bill just what you agreed on, and eat the rest - a less than tasty morsel that at least you can learn from.

If you structured the agreement to be some sort of hybrid between hourly and flat rate (looking more and more ideal by the minute, right?), you have every right to charge for all that meeting time. What I'd recommend if it seems like a really high, stroke-inducing fee, is to round down. Maybe show the initial meeting as a free consultation, to show good will. You'd want to bill the writing fee, and then detail each meeting (date, time) so the client can account for all the costs included.

Hope that’s helpful!


Thursday, June 5, 2008

YouTube - Inspirational Quotes Especially for Freelance Writers

Just when you hit the wall, and think you can't make it as a writer. Or your 'perfect' client gets away. Or... well, you know your challenges...

A little reminder that you're awesome - and that you can make this work!

YouTube - Inspirational Quotes Especially for Freelance Writers

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

8 Way You Make Money From: AffSphere | Affiliate-friendly Article Directory

Affsphere's put out this video which explains how it all works. It's really a pretty cool site, and I'm spending way too much time there!

Another way it's helpful is for research. Lots of writing gigs require quick research rather than getting the equivalent of a Master's degree in a certain topic. One of the easiest ways to get a good handle on any particular topic is to read what's already been written.

Now hear me very clearly on this point: NEVER use another writer's work as your own. It's wrong in 101 ways. However, if another writer has been able to learn about and distill the basic points of a topic you don't know anything about, reading articles about it is a great way to learn enough so you can write, too.

A couple of other good sites for this are and Affsphere's new so it doesn't have quite so many articles on it yet - but it won't be long before it's just as big as these others.

Just one more reason posting articles on Affsphers is a great idea.

8 Way You Make Money From: AffSphere | Affiliate-friendly Article Directory

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My book - on!! Thanks Allena!

Read all about it - the good, the bad, the ugly!
(Man, I've got to make time to update those couple of links and put in some more sub-heads!!!)

Working Writer,Happy Writer- Review of Working Writer, Happy Writer by Sue LaPointe

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Dead Bunny Principle


If you're squeamish, don't read this post!

OK. This is gross. I woke up this morning, and went to make the bed. I found what I THOUGHT was one of my daughter's stuffed animals wedged between the sheets where hubby's knees go... but it was a dead bunny. A real one. But dead.

Who was the culprit? Here's the list of suspects:

  • Husband. No. Way too gentle for a midnight bunny killing. And too old to mistake it for a snuggly.
  • Cat #1 - Kim. Very likely because this cat likes to pretend he's (yeah, it's a boy) king of the jungle. And Florida being like it is, there's lots of potential prey outside. However, Kim's a little cat, probably too little to carry in a DEAD FIVE POUND BUNNY.
  • Cat #2 - Ron. He's just evil enough to do something like this. He's not wired quite right. But he's also not much of a hunter. That leaves...
  • The dog, Woody. Now this is puzzling. Woody's sweet - and lazy. He grooms Kim and basically spends his life lying around watching me write. (Not very exciting.) He's also afraid of most things - including guinea pigs. He's a good dog, though, and if we could only use two words to describe him they would be hopelessly devoted.
I'm thinking it went down something like this. Dog and cats went out for a midnight pee break. Dog and cats found a bunny. Dog and cats surrounded poor bunny. Dog decided the bunny would be the PERFECT way to display his undying love and loyalty to us. Dog brings (now) dead bunny (by the way, not a mark on the poor thing - probably died of fright) to us and tucks it into bed (ew!), thinking, "She is going to LOVE this!" Hey, I can't blame him - I've never once told him what would really be a good gift, after all. How's he supposed to know what I'd like if I've never told him?

How's this apply to writing?

It's my new "Dead Bunny Principle" and it sounds something like this:

  • Sometimes we writers deliver what we think is AMAZING and lay it at the feet of our clients.
  • They may not agree.
  • They may scream, "Aaaayeeeeeeeeeek!!!" and ask someone to get rid of it.
  • They may not reward us for a job well done.
  • In fact, they may send us outside.

Does that make us bad? Nope. It's just a mis-match in expectations.

Sometimes it happens.
- Even if we spent a while talking with the client to find out exactly what they'd like
- Even if we delivered what we thought they said they wanted
- Even if they wanted it that way yesterday - but not today
- Even if we've got ten other clients who love it

So what's next?

Try to make it right. Based on how you handle this, you may end up with a client who's hopelessly devoted to you because you were loyal.

But don't go crazy. You'll know when you've reached the point of 'creative differences' that can't be bridged. For each writer, there are some times (hopefully not often), when you may just need to "gift" what you've already done, and walk away empty-handed. You are very unlikely to ever win a fight about whether your copy is any good, so it's really not worth creating any drama about it.

If that happens, spend some drama-free time evaluating what happened, what went wrong. If you can nail that down, it's worth the experience because you'll see it coming next time - and you'll be able to handle it differently (or take a pass on that kind of client).

And remember - even good dogs sometimes deliver dead bunnies.