boss,job,business,startup,resignation

Resigning with Style and Why It’s Important

You’ve had enough of your soul-sucking job and your manager with that evil glint in his eye (yes just the one eye because the other is too busy playing policeman). You have a good head on your shoulders and you know that starting a business will be a walk in the park for you. You’re well-connected and there is no reason why people won’t support you, right?  You bite the bullet, punch your clock card for the last time and burn your performance contract on your boss’s desk. You walk out of your job as the fire alarms whine and sprinklers destroy papers, electronics, and perfectly coiffed hairdos alike. You’re burning bridges and taking names like you just don’t care.

Burning Bridges vs. Building Relationships

When quitting your job, there are only two ways to do it. The right way and the wrong way. Whether things have been said or done, it’s important to keep your head high and do the right thing. Serve your notice and work hard during that final phase. You simply never know who is looking. By being a total brat in those final days can cost you a loyal following as old colleagues make wonderful customers. Making things uncomfortable at work and parading your newfound freedom will cost you business and referrals from your previous colleagues.

What If You Need Them Again?

Whether you need to apply for a job with them in the future because things just didn’t work out, or you need their help with a project, your conduct during those last days will make a big difference. There are many business owners who have great working relationships with ex-bosses, as you don’t need to sell yourself to them. They already know what you’re capable of. Any potential client who doesn’t need an introduction is a save on the marketing front.

Your Future Customers May Have Big Circles of Influence

You know you’ve made it as a business owner when your clients invite you to a flashy shindig, and nothing will cause you to hightail it outta there faster than running into that old boss. The very same one who had to have his entire office drained of excess water after that last incident. Turns out your best client is this guy’s son-in-law, and he will do anything to make his beautiful wife’s father happy. Including sacking you as a provider. Didn’t see that one coming, did ya?

You’re Actually a Nice Person

It’s very hard to convince people that you’re trustworthy and loyal when your conduct says something else. When things don’t go your way, it’s better to be the better person and treat the matter with patience. Acting in anger never did anyone any good, and this type of behavior is very hard to disguise for long. Building trust in the world of business is very hard to do and takes very long. This can all be ruined by a single act, therefore, keep it clean.

There is no foolproof way of starting a business, but building solid relationships is a good way to start. Instead of plotting a revengeful exit filled with fire and chaos, rather focus on building your future. Use that fire in your soul for something good and positive and let your success be the best antidote to a life spent at that sucky job.

freelancer,blogger,pricing,money,charges,content mills,bidding sites

Get Your Pricing Right and Make Money as a Freelance Writer

I recently decided to create a profile on a bidding site. This morning I received an e-mail with a few recommendations of jobs they think will match my profile. Two of them were quite interesting and the budget seemed reasonable, but the third just got my blood boiling! This is what it said:

Premium Writer Required for 1500 Word Article (Budget $25)

A 1500-word piece for $25! Are they insane? A standard writer who doesn’t have to survive on writing as an income, maybe. But a premium writer?

So I decide to read through it anyway and waste another 2 minutes of my time.

I am looking for an article writer to help write original article for my travel blog. If I am satisfied with your work, you’ll get additional work.

– Only for individual writer
– Only native english speaker
– Article must be 100% original and pass copyscape
– The total amount of articles needed is (2) for a total price of $25

So there it happens! The scope creep of creeps! A whole article scope creep. At first, this employer wants one article of 1500 for the $25 pittance, of which the writer will only get about $20 after the bidding site’s fee. Now this doubles up to two articles for that very same $20 after deductions. 3000 words for $20 doesn’t seem so inviting anymore, does it? When I started out as a freelancer, I still had a full-time job and starting out at $2 per 500 words back then was a terrible rate. $3.33 For a premium writer today simply breaks my heart.

Let’s Do the Math

If you need $1500 to survive per month, and you’re getting $20 per 3000 words, this is how many words you will need to push out per day, every day just to get by. Let’s say the average article is about 500 words.

  • You’re earning about $3.33 per 500 words.
  • You need to earn $50 per day on a 30-day month.
  • You will need to write 15 articles per day, every day.
  • If it takes you 20 minutes to write a 500-word piece, you need to invest five hours of non-stop writing to make this target.

The Reality

When you do the math and see that it only requires five hours of solid writing every day to push out those pieces, bear in mind that the income example is below the poverty line. Also, this is based on spending only 20 minutes on a 500-word piece, which is not always possible. At times, you will need to hyperlink, do research, and find suitable images. This all adds up and before you know it, you’ve spent 45 minutes on a $3.33 job. Does this even cover your utilities?

There is also the assumption that you will have a non-stop flow of 500-word articles priced at $3.33 a piece, or similar, to keep the flow going. When you have a few clients providing you with steady work at that rate, you will find it hard to go out and look for work where the rate is reasonable. These types of jobs will keep you busy for hours and you will only survive, while the point of being a freelance writer is to thrive.

Stop the Madness! Pricing Guide for Writers on Bidding Sites and Content Mills

Value your skills and start requesting a decent rate for your work. There are many in the industry who won’t agree with me when I recommend these prices, but it’s important to get your foot in the right way.

Newbie

A friend told you about the wonders of freelance writing and you envy her traveling lifestyle. You work for hours a day trying to find the correct sites for research, as you found out the hard way that Wikipedia is not the best starting point.

  • You have no prior writing experience, apart from essays in school.
  • You have no portfolio of evidence.
  • You have no blog.
  • Expect to earn 0.5c to 1c per word.
  • Do not stay in this category for too long.
  • If you only write one article a day, expect to move out of this category within one to three months.

Rising Talent

You’ve gone onto a few job boards and have picked up some horrific, non-paying customers. This led you to the content mills and now you’re furiously typing away. You hope to move up to the next category within a few weeks, but those pesky article thieves and low raters are just blowing it for you. You’re desperate for change but too busy to do anything about it. This is the most dangerous category and shouldn’t last for more than three months.

 

  • You write about anything and everything.
  • You have quite a few articles as a portfolio of evidence, but none published.
  • You have a blog, but not one you’re happy to use as portfolio work yet.
  • You rely solely on the ratings of content mills and bidding sites to prove your writing ability.
  • Expect to earn 1c to 2c per word.

Fairly Established

Some big names rely on you to get their basic writing done such as landing pages and more. You’re still only writing ghost articles but at least you can trace them now. Your rate is fairly decent and you no longer need to pull those all-nighters to get the job done before the next payment cycle. You’ve even managed to move beyond the content mills and bidding sites.

  • You finally have a blog that you’re proud of and starting to monetize it (should have done this from the beginning, but everyone’s scared right?).
  • Advertisers approve your advertising requests and the money is starting to come in.
  • Your portfolio of evidence is now crossing the different genres and you almost have a writing sample for every type of job posted.
  • You’re starting to focus more on specific topics.
  • You visit the content mills and bidding sites just to fill up the income before month end.
  • You can easily charge anything from 3c to 7c per word.
  • You can afford to be a bit pickier in your projects.
  • Expect to move on from here withing 3 months of solid work and self-marketing.

Established

It took you a while to get here, and after many rejections, pitch alterations, blog post entries, and filler jobs, you finally get paid the rate you’ve always wanted. You write three to four articles per day and some of these articles take a few days to complete. The income generated on your affiliate links take care of the bread and butter at home. Advertisers are now approaching you and you now decide who to promote.

  • It’s not unusual for you to have at least 4 to 7 streams of income by now.
  • You have top-rated clients who refuse to deal with other writers.
  • Your writing is helping you exceed your financial goals.
  • You spend less time writing and more time marketing and networking.
  • Asking anything below 8c a word is a labor of love, which you can afford to do now.
  • You’re starting to refer clients to other writers in your circle as you can’t keep up with the demand.

The Shortcut

These only serve as a guideline and should help writers gain some perspective on their writing careers. Often, the biggest problem is getting stuck in a category for too long. Writers who don’t have a writing background often have to start from the bottom and work their way up. Those who have a writing background will find this process much simpler. Writers who happen to have a marketing background will probably start off with the multiple streams of income off the blog first, therefore, probably bypass the entire writing-for-peanuts phase.

journey,freelance writer,freelancer

My Journey as a Freelance Writer

 

It’s easy to get caught up in a myriad of information available on the net, and for me, the journey as a freelance writer hasn’t always been an easy one. When I started out, I was roped into writing blog posts for a client I met on a bidding site and was paid a measly $2 fee. I didn’t know that it was called a bidding site and didn’t know that there were options other than other bidding sites. $2 per 500-word article was a pittance, considering the number of edits she made me do. She always gave me a stellar rating and that was partly why I kept writing for her for so long.

I started writing online after a client told me what she did for a living. I must admit, at first, I wanted to find out more as I knew my sister wanted to be a writer. It took me a couple of months to realize it was one of my desires too but having a stable job meant my dreams didn’t matter, only the bills did. My profile started attracting more employers online, and before I knew it I was writing hours a day after work. It still wasn’t enough to become a permanent position, but at least I started experiencing some kind of fulfillment.

It Wasn’t All Peachy

Two clients turned out to be major frauds and the system that I believed would protect me, didn’t. I turned to the content mills and once again had to start right at the bottom, $2 per 500 words. The topics were soul-draining vacuum-cleaner-dribble and I soon found myself resenting the writing. During this phase, I also quit my job to pursue another career, which ended up not working out at all. I was at the bottom with a terrible writing career and no permanent income to fall back on.

Game Changers

I was working with my husband in his business, trying to build it up to cover the loss of income on my side, and in the evenings I would write articles. I applied to every casting call I could and googling as many writing resources as time allowed. It was a few months later when one of my pitches were accepted and I finally started getting regular writing. It started with 40 small articles a week, which I could comfortably squeeze in after a long day spent at the business. It took me an hour to write up five of these and the information was already provided. Soon the client extended that and was requesting anywhere between 150 to 300 of these write-ups per week. The money was good and the relationship lasted a full year. This was a project that was only supposed to last a month! This was a massive confidence boost and I managed to work my way up the rankings on the various sites. I now have a steady flow of income, however, some months are better than others.

Freelance Writing as a Side Hustle

Sticking to the Good Ones

I have a few profiles on bidding sites, content mills, and regularly check for work on the various job sites to ensure that I have as many clients in the pipeline as possible, without compromising quality. I prefer the stand-alone client jobs, however, the mills do provide bread-and-butter income.

Writers constantly need to keep many balls in the air, and yes, we do drop them on occasion. There are many resources out there to help us, however, and taking advantage of these can be game changers. There are a few basic things to work on first, which will be covered in a later post.

The Dark Side of Social Media for Your Business

“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” –  Scott Cook, Founder, Intuit

You’re running a small business and you’ve decided to take the plunge where social media marketing is concerned. You decide to do it on your own, without the help of a social media specialist, and things seem to be going smoothly. After a long day at the office and with a cup of tea in hand, you sit down to work through all the social media for the day, and boy are you glad you’re sitting down!

One Status Update and the Whole World Goes Mad!

The morning started out well and before you opened your doors, you announced that today was the buy-one-get-one-free day, but you failed to stipulate of equal or lesser value. It makes sense to you and the 85% pf your customers who walked through the doors that day, but somehow that notice on social media solicited all the creepy critters from society who decided to take advantage of the situation. Naturally, they will take to social media to vent. They will tell you that you do false advertising and that your institution is no longer reputable. They will exploit the situation until they are placated with a freebie, while you quietly tell them to never return to your shop again. This could upset the apple cart and damage control is essential.

Too Busy to Attend to Requests

It’s the busiest time of the month and you find that you eat, sleep, and work in a repetitive cycle that simply doesn’t have an end. There is no time to phone your mom, let alone tend to social media. Finally, during a break you decide to quickly see what is happening online, and to your dismay customers are having a field day with the lack of response on the site. Boycotting the institution is on the cards and it will take more than a few minutes to get the situation under control again. Many customers expect an immediate response and one that only happens a few days after their initial request will simply let them go with someone else, even if you have the best gear, prices, or support services.

Funny to You May Just be Inappropriate to Others

There are jokes and then there are socially acceptable mood enhancers. Although you may have  certain views, your customers may not share them, and even if they do, might feel obliged to stand up for somebody else. The moment something may come across as hurtful, irrelevant, mean, or criticizing, it has no place on any platform in your business. One of the fastest ways to alienate customers is by offending them. Once offended, customers take very long to regain trust in your business.

Social media can be a wonderful and inexpensive means to increase your footprint, but it does have it’s snags. Stick to the basics and check the updates as often as possible to ensure you don’t let anyone down. If the social media side becomes a little hard to handle, you may want to consider hiring someone who can take care of it a couple of times  week, or even on a permanent basis.

work online, startup,starting out, freelance writer,freeelancer

When You’re Starting Out as a Freelance Writer

There are many different websites that promise they have the number one route for freelance writers to instant success online. A few simple articles will get you those big fish in a jiffy, but the sad reality is that it will take a lot more than that. Hard work, long hours, and the constant sorting through all the dribble online will hopefully turn up a well-paying customer or two someday.

What About the Content Mills?

Although many writers may not agree, some content mills have their place in a fresher’s writing career. Getting stuck in a mill is the dangerous part, as there are some pretty horrible sites out there. I’ll give you a bit more information on the mills in a later post, but for now, what you need to know is that you need to build up a good reputation with as many sites as you can manage. This is crucial to ensure that you have a constant stream of work, and when one site dries up you can still pick up work on another. The quicker you build up your reputation, the easier it is. There are some warning signs to look out for:

  • Read the terms and conditions, as some sites stipulate that they own any work submitted to the client on the site, and not you as the writer. Not even when the client doesn’t pay for it. Many clients are also unaware that the site retains ownership of the content.
  • Be wary of clients who have high decline rates and low scores, as they tend to be the ones to pull a fast one. The content mill won’t bail you out either, as many of those customers are still on there, month after month.
  • Don’t trust a content mill that offers you the opportunity to buy your way to a better rating. This is just a horrible money-making scheme and you may not even be successful. The sad truth is that many writers get stuck in the lower rungs because of cheap clients, and those who aren’t that great tend to enjoy all the meaty articles.

Bulk Work

Bulk work for a writer is one of the most wonderful things, as it provides a steady source of income. This allows you as a freelance writer to have better control of your budget, and those bread and butter items are taken care of.

Before accepting a bulk order, make sure that you have all your documents in order should you need to take action against this client for none-payment. Be careful of customers who don’t have a website, permanent address, or landline.

When you’re not sure about payment, hold on. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time on research. Working through the content mills seem to be a bit safer, but payment is still not guaranteed.

Contracts and Paperwork

When you’ve managed to land a nice client, it’s important to ensure that you have the necessary paperwork in place. Get into the habit of doing things right from the start. You will have a much smoother career going forward. Any client who does not want to sign your contract, will probably also be less inclined to pay you in the end as well.

Pitch Perfect?

The right pitch to the right client will set you apart from all the dribble they need to sort through. Although there are many different ways to create a perfect pitch, there are a few things that will have the editor press the delete key quicker than you can say “I love your publication.” These are:

  • Glaring spelling and grammar mistakes
  • Passive voice in writing prompts (without clear instructions for passive voice)
  • Poorly formatted e-mails
  • Unsolicited e-mails asking for advice

There is no quick fix to landing the high rollers from the start. However, the fastest route is to ensure that you have the basics right. Work through free resources provided by websites that will help you with the basic outline of your articles. These include formatting skills, correct attributions, and more. There are also many freelance writing communities that are eager to support you in your journey. You will find that many clients and other freelancers are very forgiving of your mistakes. That is if you remain humble and eager to learn.

millenials,sales strategy,business,brands

How to Target Millennials in Your Sales Strategy

You see millennials everywhere, usually in a coffee shop with their comb-back hairstyles furiously typing away on their Macbooks as they sip on a Free Trade Coffee Bean Latte while eating a slice of gluten and sugar-free cake. Their clothing seems recycled at least three times over the past 30 years, and those retro sunglasses are actually from the seventies. Neatly painted fingernails tap on the table as they echo the kick drum reverberating in their earphones, some melodic drone from the latest Indie band. Unlike the generation before them, where it was just a straight-forward newer-is-better approach, this band of fresh spenders wants new-vintage if ever there were such a category.

What Do Millennials Want?

Millennials are fairly simple in their desires and needs. They are modern-day hippies that embrace technology seamlessly, without the desire to conquer every gadget on the planet. There is also the ever-increasing pressure of this generation to abstain from slave-trade items and the environment plays a big role. Don’t mistake them for the tree-hugging and LSD-popping crowd, but rather as the generation that will embrace the very best of nature and make a sizeable difference to their carbon footprint. Marketing material that gets this right, will undoubtedly have a massive impact on this generation.

How To Target Their Needs and Desires

  • Less Is More: Create or brand a product that allows the millennial to make an informed decision without all the technical jargon.
  • Less Really Is More: Don’t just use this in the reading material, but also ingredients and products. Picking up a beverage that has a hundred ingredients will slowly point this forward-thinker in the other direction.
  • Respect Nature: By actively finding ways to reduce the impact on the environment, millennials will find it easier to relate to your brand. The mass-produced temporary items that fill the shelves of supermarkets are slow becoming a fad. A Brogan & Partners article indicates that as much as 13% of millennials are focused on lowering food waste.

Speak to Their Social Needs

The latest trends in cold brewed coffee might be a good angle, however, it is the social context that will play the biggest role. Is your brand doing all it can to secure the interest of your client and their merry band of followers? Social media plays a big role in many of the decisions millennials make, and your brand will need to speak to those needs. The old strategies of bombarding the customer with products are slowly becoming more and more irrelevant, as millennials associate with brands more than anything else.

Brand awareness on social media platforms will involve more personal interaction with customers, and less product pushing. Some of the most successful brands have a happy presence on social media without one product being advertised, such as @nike on Twitter. A respected brand and arguably one of the top sellers in active wear, they ensure users are comfortable with their brand first and product later.

Millennials are after brands they can associate with and trust. This brand will need to provide good-quality products at reasonable prices that have as little impact on the environment. The brand will also need to be more socially responsible and embrace the nuances of social media.