Tag Archives: Writing

5 Places to Look for Freelance Writing Opportunities

By Katie Sluiter

So you’ve decided you want your writing to earn you some money. But where do you start?  How do you find something that will pay? A good rule of thumb is to start with what you already read and branch out from there.

dollar sign

Local Publications

Poke around your local paper’s website for the name of the submission editor.  Years ago I submitted a piece on celebrity baby names to my local paper and was unexpectedly hired as a freelancer for their print paper.  But local publications aren’t limited to newspapers.  There are probably many local publications—newletters, magazines, blogs, etc.—that you don’t know about yet because you haven’t looked.  You may have the edge over another writer, because you are familiar with the local beat.

Online Magazines

These are generally bigger and get many submissions, but they are worth a shot. Babble, Curvy Girl Guide, AllParenting.com, etc. are some that usually offer open submissions.  Places like BlogHer takes submissions for syndication (which pays) and will often highlight work (which sends your site pageviews) Somewhere on the site you want to work with will be a “careers” or “submissions” link/button.  There you will find guidelines and pay information.  Watch social media as well, Babble, for instance, will tweet when they are looking for new writers for a specific section or column on their site.

Print Magazines

Some Large scale print magazines will run essay contests and hold open submissions for articles.  Watch for reputable, well-advertised contests, not the hidden ones in the backs of the magazines.   Real Simple holds an annual essay contest that is legitimate, for instance, and gets the writer published in the magazine and a cash prize.  Trade and scholarly journals will also have a section in the front of the magazine for calls for articles.  The English Journal, for instance, has a space devoted to what themes and subjects it is looking for to publish in future editions.

The Google

It probably sounds obvious, but searching Google for writing opportunities will bring up various communities/groups you can join.  Some come with a membership fee, some are private and you need to apply, but some are open to anyone.  For example, Linkedin has a group you can apply to be in that posts paid writing opportunities and lists companies looking for freelance writers.

Company Websites

Corporations like Best Buy have programs where they hire bloggers to do their product reviews FOR them.  You join their network and receive the latest products and gadgets to use and review.  The catch is that you need to have your own blog to work with some companies as they do not have a review site.

It is undoubtedly overwhelming for the beginning freelancer to know where to look, but remember: The opportunities are out there.  You just have to go find them.

katie sluiter
Katie Sluiter
is a freelance writer and teacher who should probably be grading papers or changing diapers but is more likely blogging, tweeting, or just overusing social media in general. She chronicles all this on her blog, Sluiter Nation.

 

Image credit: ba1969

Tips for Writing Polls and Surveys

If you need to know what your clients really want, sometimes you just have to ask. Online polls and surveys are quick ways to collect market research for your business. However, getting useful feedback requires asking the right questions and providing a quick, convenient method for survey participants to submit data.

The odds of your online poll being scientific are about zero. But that doesn’t mean the answers aren’t very useful. Polls and surveys can help with a range of small business problems and questions including:

  • Evaluating customer satisfaction
  • Determining the need for your products or services
  • Determining the need to expand to additional locations
  • Analyzing interest in an existing or new product

Online Survey and Poll Question Types

writing online surveysShort Answer: Using a blank text box, allow respondents to provide their own answers to your survey question. Coupled with a well-written question, this is a great method for getting feedback without guiding answers.

Multi-Point Rating: Responses for this question style typically run from “Strongly Disagree” to “Strongly Agree” with an additional opt-out response like, “N/A” or “Does Not Apply.”

Numeric Rating: Numeric ratings are most commonly set from 1-5 and are another way of determining how well your respondents like an aspect of your business. Note that using and odd-numbered scale allows respondents to take a neutral stance, while even numbered scales force clients to lean more to one side or another.

Multiple Choice: Let’s say you want to add a new type of muffin to your menu, but you only have the ability to make three different flavors. An open question survey wouldn’t help much. With multiple-choice questions, you can have respondents pick their favorite of the available choices.

Rank Choices:  Ranking available options gets survey takers to sort available options from good to bad or like to dislike. Looking to take a muffin away from the menu? Ranking surveys can help you find which flavor will be missed the least.

Survey and Poll Writing Tips

  1. Write simple questions. Muddled questions result in muddled feedback. So don’t ask a series of questions in a single poll prompt. Use everyday language and do your best to avoid ambiguous words and phrases.
  2. Don’t pigeonhole your respondents. When using written responses instead of a likability scale, provide several options that run the gamut and leave an “other” prompt for clients who wish to write their own response.
  3. Don’t force readers to answer every question. You should provide a way for respondents to opt out of a question—either by making all answers optional or by providing a “not applicable” selection on each question.  Forcing answers only leads to skewed results, and skewed results are a complete waste of time.

Free Survey Resources

In most cases free  surveys are limited in function. You might find that it’s necessary to purchase an upgrade for surveys that go beyond the basics. That said, here are some places to get started creating free online surveys.



[stextbox id="info"]This post is part of the March Word Carnival — a monthly group blogging event specifically for small business owners. (It’s the most fun you’ll have all month!) Check out the rest of the fabulous carney work here.[/stextbox]

ABCs of Freelance Writing: U is for Upfront Payment

I’ve written about the sticky subject of collecting money from difficult clients before. In an article I wrote for Small Business Bonfire, I shared some ideas I had for getting deadbeat clients to pay up. But today I’d like to talk about one way you, as a freelance writer, can avoid dealing with deadbeats entirely.

It’s called an upfront payment.

And it’s glorious.

Tips for Collecting Upfront Payments

Create a fee schedule for your most popular services.

Online freelance writing payment

First things first, establish freelance writing fees so you’re not wasting time debating what to charge. Most of my pre-pay clients are in a hurry to get a job done, and having a rate sheet expedites the process.

Choose between full and partial upfront payments.

When it comes down to it, you have a couple of pre-pay options: you can bill for a fraction of the invoice upfront, or you can bill for the entire cost of services. I’ve done both, but I tend not to split invoices under $200.

Explain your upfront payment policy.

New clients may need to be reassured that you’re not going to leave them high and dry after you’ve got their money. Explain your entire process in writing (preferably in a contract) before any money changes hands. Confirm your commitment to the deadline and be clear about what happens if the customer is not satisfied with the work or requests revisions.

Offer immediate Payment processing.

FreshBooksI bill with Freshbooks because it enables me to send invoices and statements immediately via email. I can collect payments through my PayPal account, making it possible for me to accept a job, bill the client, receive payment, and begin work on a project in a matter of minutes. Freshbooks even has an arrangement with PayPal where you can opt to waive the standard PayPal fees and select a flat rate fee per transaction for $.50. That’s pretty sweet, because those percentage-based PayPal fees can seriously eat into your profits if you use it a lot.

Never miss a deadline.

The thing about charging for work upfront is that you have to be able to deliver consistently. If you aren’t committed to delivering the finished product when promised, you’ll have a hard time maintaining a solid business relationship with your clients.

Deliver your best work.

Think of the upfront payment scenario like a transaction at your local electronics store. As a customer, you expect to walk away with a solid product that lives up to the claims on the packaging. Your clients feel the same way about your writing. When a client pays upfront, there’s a greater expectation for you to get the job done right the first time.


Playing the Name Game

Life Lessons for Writers Contacting Editors

A guest post by Terri Huggins

The name game. It’s a game that I’ve gotten way to familiar with over the years. The rules are simple. After mulling over every aspect of a pitch and practically driving a hole into the delete button, you proceed to rack your brain over the correct way to address a new editor. The hard part is realizing that you never know how to win the game; especially when there are so many options.

writer contacting an editorIf you are anything like me, you play this game on almost a daily basis and you still haven’t mastered the concept. Whose genius idea was it to have so many ways to address a person anyway? I think having the option to call someone by Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss, or by first name is over-kill.

In all honesty, the decision on addressing an editor wasn’t always so difficult for me. My parents’ tough love and strong feelings about respect and formality were instilled in me at a young age. And it’s still very much a part of me. Because of that upbringing everyone who I perceived to be my elder or superior was always addressed as Mr. or Ms. in person and in writing.  I even did the extra legwork for unisex names to make sure I addressed people properly. (Having a unisex name myself, I understand how annoying it can get to be wrongly called Mr. Terri Huggins so frequently.)

It wasn’t until I read a few advice columns geared towards writers that suggested pitches be written in a relaxed and conversational tone to show personality. Some even went as far as saying that addressing editors in a formal way was too rigid and showed no personality. Of course, I then went into panic mode. Was my attempt at being respectful, coming off as rigid and resulting in my pitches getting ignored? Nonetheless, I continued to address editors I hadn’t worked with formally unless told otherwise. Even after I got the ok to call them by their first name, I still found it difficult to break the habit.

However, getting permission to address editors informally when working with them got me thinking. Does that mean I was originally supposed to address them by their first name in the pitch? Did I do it wrong completely? Or was I just extended that courtesy having worked with the editor already?

I decided to do a little investigation by asking a few editors what they preferred to be called.  Unfortunately, I received a bunch of mixed responses that didn’t exactly help in the decision process.  The responses ranged from preferring a first-name basis initially to those who thought being addressed formally made the editor feel old and mean or that the writer was out of touch with the times. A few said that in this increasingly informal society, it is pretty much expected to use first names. Of course, a handful of editors suggested staying on the safe side by addressing editors formally for initial communication and then using first name for future correspondence. However, most editors said as long as their name was spelt correctly, it wouldn’t lead to automatic pitch deletion. (Definitely, helps put me at ease!)

While I’m still not convinced about the right way to reference an editor, I guess the moral of the story is to do what feels right considering there will always be many different opinions of the matter.

Terri HugginsTerri Huggins is a Freelance Writer/Journalist in NJ who specializes in bridal, beauty, relationships, education and business topics. She also writes marketing paraphernalia such as brochures, press releases, blogs and newsletters for local businesses. By night, Terri is a arts enthusiast, prima ballerina, education activist, and dedicated volunteer. Connect with Terri on Twitter: TERRIficWords or stop by her blog, www.terrificwords.wordpress.com. Professional Website: http://www.writingbyterri.com/