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Archives for March 2011

Freelance Writers: Should You Charge for Consultations?

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had three client consultations. This is somewhat unusual for me because most times, when prospects contact me, they’ve already been to my website and they tend to know what they want. As my (SEO) writing company lists rates, they also know how much it’s going to cost them.

Why Freelance Writers Will Have to Give More Consultations

This uptick on consultations signals three things to me:

(i) Clients are spending more money on content, as we touched on in this post on content marketing; hence, they want to know more about what they’re getting for their money;

(ii) Clients are starting to realize the value of SEO and content marketing. The recent Google Panda update shook up the rankings. While many gained, lots of firms lost rank and are doing what it takes to climb back to where they were; and

(iii) Clients are seeking freelance writers who can provide them with a range of writing services. In fact, the trend I see is that many companies are looking for a “writing company” they can outsource most of their content needs to.

The reason I believe this is the three consultations I’ve had in the last couple of weeks, and the queries I’ve been getting in the last six months or so.

Freelance Writers: 3 Things to Consider to Help You Decide Whether to Charge for Consultations

should-freelance-writers-give-free-consultationsBut, back to should you charge for consultations: well there’s no cut-and-dried answer, but following are some guidelines to help you decide.

I. Does the Prospect Know What They Want?

Many times you’ll discover that potential clients don’t really know what they want/need. Or, it may differ significantly from what you think they need based on what they’ve told you. For example, a recent consultation I had with a technology firm.

They’ve developing a new software (nothing like it on the market) for the real estate industry and are merging with a large real estate agency. They contacted another writing firm, who wanted to co-op with New Media Words (my SEO writing company) because this firm knows real estate writing, but we know SEO.

While talking with the company reps, we quickly realized that they didn’t know exactly what they wanted/needed (FYI, this happens far more than you’d think with prospects). Hence, the consultations we’ve had thus far have been more about helping them clarify what they need.

As a matter of course, my firm doesn’t charge for consultations. But, if there was an instance where I was going to, this one was it. So far, there’ve been two phone consultations and a proposal sent over. Total time invested has been about two hours (a bit more for the other firm I’m working with as it’s their client and they’re taking the lead).

This could be a lot (a lot!) of ongoing work, so that’s why I haven’t minded so far. But, time is money and it’s getting to the point where a signed contract has to be forthcoming or the deal will be a no go.

Otherwise, it’s like giving away your expertise for free.

Freelance Writers: A Note about How Much Info to Give Away in Free Consultations

I believe in guiding clients and giving them insight into what I think they need and why from an SEO standpoint. After all, it’s so new to many of them. That’s one of the reasons I wrote the SEO internet marketing guide (.pdf file) and distributed it for free.

But, be careful of how much time you spend helping clients to devise a strategy and there’s no forthcoming work on the table for you. This is exactly what seasoned consultants do and they charge a mint; and, they’re worth every penny I might add (if you hire the right one).

II. How Much Upfront Research Is Involved

Piggy backing on the above, if there’s a lot of upfront research involved, you might want to consider charging a freelance writing consulting fee.

For example, back to the above-mentioned prospect. In addition to articles, they want a press release, revisions to a marketing brochure and a rewrite of an almost 20-page PowerPoint presentation.

Of course, to come up with a proper proposal, you have to dig through this stuff.

Once I started to dig through it, I realized that what they commissioned didn’t match what they forwarded (hence, the back and forth so far).

III. Are They Willing to Put in the Work?

One of the ways I’ve avoided a lot of consultations I think is by turning the tables a bit. To explain, with this prospect, instead of spending hours going through all of the material, I devised a list of questions that would help me clarify exactly what they needed.

This does two things: (i) it shows them that you know your stuff; and (ii) it gives you an idea of how  invested in the process they are.

If they answer your questions, or get back to you to let you know, “Hey, we hadn’t thought about that but based on what you said . . .” then you know they are serious. But, if they brush your questions off or tell you to “just do your best with it,” then be wary. Why?

Because even if you do a stellar job, there may be problems because what you give them may not be “exactly what they were looking for,” and they’ll want you to add this, change that, cut this out, etc.

You see, it’s easy to pick apart a finished product. But when you started and they had no clue about what they wanted, then you got them a finished document, bells start going off for them. They may realize all kinds of things they want to add and directions they want to go in.

All because they have a defined path now — the path you defined for them “doing the best you could” with the little direction they gave you. And this is exactly why many freelance writers do charge for consultations. In fact, I’m leaning towards it now.

Freelance Writers: How Much Should You Charge for Consultations?

I’m not even going to go into detail here because there are too many factors to consider: type of project, scope of project, niche; etc.

What I will say is, base it on your hourly freelance writing rates. Every freelance writer should know what they average on an hourly basis, even if they don’t charge like this a lot (many charge by the project, for example). But, projects are priced based on how much time they take to complete.

And, usually these are broken down by the hour. 

Freelance Writing Business Advice: How to Cut Down on Consultation Time and Still Land Clients

Develop a new client intake form. It makes your firm look professional and it helps prospects clarify what their needs are. This way, you can cut down on the talk, and get down to the paying freelance writing work!

Here’s to a great rest of the week!
Yuwanda

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P.S.: Want to start a successful career where you have the mobility to live and work where you please? Visit our freelance writing bookstore for a ton of opportunities (freelance writing and internet marketing) to get you started.

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Opportunities in Freelance Writing: Where the Jobs Are & Specific Advice On How to Get Them

Yesterday, I read an interesting report from the Content Marketing Institute on large companies and their content needs. As I was reading it I thought to myself, “Wow, this report really lays out where the jobs in freelance writing are going to come from over the next few years!”

Wanna Know Where the Opportunities In Freelance Writing Are? Look No Further Than the Content Marketing Institute

FYI, if you aren’t familiar with this organization, take some time to explore their site. It’s an excellent venue for learning the trends in freelance writing (aka content marketing), where the jobs are, what companies are spending money on, types of content they’re looking for, types of organizations to target, etc.

So much jumped out at me that I wanted to do a quick rundown here so fellow freelance writers (like you!) can possibly start thinking about how to put together a marketing plan to get some of the business that’s out there.

And make no mistake, there is a ton of work available for freelance writers, especially web and SEO content writers. But, you have to be proactive enough (and knowledgeable enough) to know how to go after it.

Questions from Existing and Aspiring Freelance Writers about How to Find Freelance Writing Jobs

The thing that got the wheels to turning for me when I was reading this report are a couple of questions I received from freelance writers over the last week. An existing freelance writer struggling to get decent rates wrote:

Hi Yuwanda,

I have been a subscriber for a long time and recently bought your ebook on SEO article writing.
 
I’m writing to let off steam because so far I have had no joy from freelance job sites at all and have wasted loads of time just browsing and looking for work. It is so depressing to see ‘professional writers’ offering $1 articles. I cannot write for that price and make a living, yet have not found any better-paying gigs on elance, freelancer or peopleperhour. To top it all, some bids are now just limited for UK, US and Canada writers. I’m a native speaker but happen to live in another country…
Do you think writing to SEO companies to offer my writing services as you suggest in the ebook will net me better results?

FYI, I advise freelance writers to stay away from sites like the ones mentioned because the rates tend to be so low and the competition so intense. My quick response to this writer was:

See Testimonial #6 here: http://inkwelleditorial.com/e11-excerpt.This freelance writer, John, is from Scotland, moved to Spain and has successfully been doing SEO writing for clients worldwide since buying my ebook in 2008. So the tactics work, no matter where you live as long as you have command of the given language you’re targeting clients in (eg, English) and can prove you know how to write SEO copy.
 
And FYI, there’s no need to state where you live on your website. As long as you have the skill, it won’t matter to clients. Good luck!

Why You Can Land Clients No Matter Where You Live as a Web and/or SEO Writer

As many of you know, I’m an American, but I live and work from abroad (at the moment, Jamaica). I’ve also worked from Spain, Argentina, London, New York, Miami, etc. So location truly does not matter as an SEO writer, as long as you can prove your writing ability to clients.

Another aspiring freelancer wrote:

Your articles seems really inspirational, and often, easy to achieve. I’ve tried most of your SEO tactics, and been on a client hunt for the last few months, but with no significant results than finding some guys who pay $1 per 100 words. Any advice?

Oy vey, here we go again with there’s no work and how do I find clients willing to pay me a decent rate.

I didn’t respond to this second writer because she didn’t tell me which tactics she’d tried specifically and for how long. When clicked through to her website, it wasn’t a freelance writing website, so I don’t know how she’s marketing, what type of samples she’s sending out, types of clients she’s targeting, follow-up methods she uses (if any), rates she wants, etc.

The thing is, as I’ve said here ad nauseam before, there are so many factors that go into achieving freelance writing success. But the common thread is consistency, consistency, consistency in marketing.

Related Post: SEO Copywriting: 5 Tips on How to Find Content Writing Jobs No Matter Where You Live

There Are Tons of High-paying Freelance Writing Jobs Out There: Here’s Where to Find Them

So, as I was reading the report from the Content Marketing Institute all I could think was:

How can people say there are no high-paying freelance writing jobs out there? There are tons! And this report is basically a blueprint of who’s looking for what and why.

Content Marketing Institute Report: Synopsis to Help Freelance Writers Land More Jobs

Following are some things that stood out to me in the report as a freelance writer that can help you land more writing gigs:

Types of Writing Clients Need: Web articles, blog posts and newsletter content. To a lesser degree, case studies and white papers. FYI, these last two in particular are the higher-paying freelance writing niches.

Focus of Content Clients Want: Overall, brand awareness, customer retention and lead generation.

Ancillary Services Freelancers Can Offer: There are a couple of services that stood out that freelancers can easily add to their roster.

(i) Social media – it’s huge with large companies now. This is an easy service to add to your freelance writing business, as a social media expert I recently interviewed detailed; and

(ii) Content Distribution: This can be article marketing (which my SEO writing company offers), social media (another service we offer), video marketing (this is becoming more and more popular), etc.

Note: Ebook on Social Media for Freelance Writers

Nina Lewis and I will be co-authoring an ebook on how to successfully add social media marketing to your list of services. We’ve completed the outline and the book will be available from both of our sites, and on Amazon, on April 1st. Of course, I’ll inform you when it’s available.

Update: April 2011. The social media consulting ebook is now available.

How to Land Freelance Writing Jobs from Companies Who Want Content

These companies outsource – a lot—so the work is there. The report states:

Larger firms are much more likely to outsource content creation than their peers at smaller companies. Seventy-seven percent of large firms outsource some of their content development, compared to 55% on average.

But what they need are experts. One of the biggest problems companies had when it came to content was the following, according to the report:

 Like their peers, marketers at large companies cite producing engaging content as the biggest challenge.

So your job is to set yourself apart. If they want “engaging content”; figure out what this means for them and give it to them. Specialize in offering “engaging content for “X niche.” Market the hell out of that niche!

Hone your writing skills; devour what “engaging content” means to a certain niche; come up with a questionnaire to help them help you figure out what engaging content is for them; package “engaging content” services; etc.

FACT: More than 90% of Large Firms Use Content Marketing (They NEED Freelance Writers)

The bottom line is there is tons – and I do mean tons – of freelance writing work to be had. Proof? The report states:

For B2B marketers at large organizations, using content to market their products and services is mainstream. Ninety-one percent of large company B2B marketers report using content as part of their marketing efforts . . .

Are you grasping this? More than 9 out of 10 large companies use content (the very stuff you want to be paid to produce) to get the word out about their products and services.

And as we discussed in this post on content marketing, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Firms are just NOW realizing the value of good, informative, ongoing content. So yeah, there’s work; but you have to be prepared (skill wise and marketing wise) to produce it.

Read the entire report from the Content Marketing Institute on Large Companies and Their Content Needs.

I hope this helps you to really grasp where the jobs in freelance writing are these days, and gives you some insight on how to go about landing them.

Best,
Yuwanda

Want to be Featured on InkwellEditorial.com? Submit a Guest Post. Get the guest post submission guidelines.

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Quickly Become a Published Author This Year! FINALLY get that ebook you’ve been wanting to write done in Inkwell Editorial’s “How to Write an Ebook in 3 Days Market It & Start Getting Sales within a WeekEbook Writing & Publishing Tournament.

P.S.: Want to start a successful career where you have the mobility to live and work where you please? Visit our freelance writing bookstore for a ton of opportunities (freelance writing and internet marketing) to get you started.

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Freelance Writers: Are You Sticking to Your 2011 Freelance Writing Goals? 3 Reasons to Pull Out the List & Assess Where You Are

Back in December, in anticipation of the New Year, I laid out my list of freelance writing goals for this year. As we’re about a quarter of the way through the year, I thought it was a good time to go back and assess how I’m doing….

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A Freelance Writer’s Life Abroad: Inside Peek at My Life as an American Living in Jamaica for a Year, Part XIX

My Visit to Little Bay, Jamaica: Fresh Fish, White Rum, Bob Marley’s House & More

Last weekend, I went on another little excursion here in Jamaica – to a local fisherman’s spot, “Gilbert on De Rock,” in Little Bay. Spent the day eating fish, drinking white rum (waaayyyy too much white rum), and just hanging out.

Never has doing a little of anything felt like doing so much of everything!

FYI, a listing of all entries in this series can be found here.

Note: Learn how you too can live and work from an island paradise!

About Little Bay, Jamaica

Little Bay is a little rustic community about 20 minutes south of Negril, where I live. It’s a beautiful place to fish, swim, meet nice people and just hang out.

Interesting Fact about Little Bay: Bob Marley had a vacation home in Little Bay. It was destroyed in a hurricane a few years back, but the ruins are still there as of today. And Little Bay has mineral springs, too. Not as well-known as the mineral springs of Bath Fountain that I told you about last week, but mineral springs nonetheless!

Learn more about Little Bay, Jamaica

Where’s the Fun in Jamaica?

yuwandainlittlebayIt’s too bad that not many tourists take the time to explore outside of the major cities like Negril and Montego Bay. Most never even leave the infamous 7-mile beach in Negril. But it’s so worth it to see places like Little Bay.

One of the things I love about Jamaica is that fun can be had in the most out of the way, “non-fancy” spots. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of the fancy if that’s your speed (and it is mine a lot of the time too). But, to really experience Jamaica (or any other place really), getting to know the people is the fun part.

And boy, have I gotten to know the people!

Eating Fish Fresh from the Sea: My Weekend Day Excursion to Little Bay

Gilbert is a local fisherman (video). He literally goes out into the ocean in the back of his house with a handmade spear and catches and cooks fish every day. He cooks and sells it from this little rustic shop right beside his house.

gilbertfromlittlebayThe fish is cooked on an open flame right in the earth. It’s some of the best fish you’ll ever have.

Through a friend of mine, I’ve become friends with Gilbert. So usually, when we go up, we stop by the local fish market here in Negril and buy fish to take up.

Also, Gilbert likes it if you bring him a bottle of white rum (for friends, he’ll cook without charging you anything if you bring this).

So my friend and I went up for the day and had some fish, a heap of rum and an all-around good time.

THEN, we stopped by another little roadside bar owned by Killipuss and Shirley (pictured in photo below). It’s literally this tiny little hut by the road. But it seemed that everyone and their mother in the neighborhood gathered there this gorgeous Saturday evening and just talked, laughed, ate and drank.

JamaicanLove-ShirleyandLillipusBetween Gilbert’s, a couple of other stops and various friends of my friend and Killipuss’s and Shirley’s, I had waaayyyy too much rum that day.

But I also had one of the best times of my life.

I hope you enjoy the pics and the video.

Getting to Little Bay from Negril

You can hire local taxis to take you there. Most will charge a group rate for you and some friends (if that’s the way you roll). One time I went with a group of friends and we paid like $500J each to get there. Then, we paid for food that Gilbert cooked, and of course the drinks.

A cab driver will hang out with you for 3-4 hours if you go up there, so you don’t have to worry about getting back. If you go, plan to make a day of it.

little-bay-jamaica-gilbertshouseNote: Gilbert’s is not an official tourist spot, so some cab drivers won’t know it. But if you ask them to take you to Little Bay and tell them that you’re looking for a spot called “Gilbert on Da Rock,” once you get to Little Bay, you’ll have no problem finding it because most people know Gilbert.

More Pictures from My Day Trip to Little Bay, Jamaica

Here are a few more pics from this day trip: Rasta on the Rocks; Gilbert and his “Woman“; More views from the back of Gilbert’s House

GirlaGoGo.com: My Camera of Choice

A gadget idiot, my camera of choice is the Sony Cyber-shot. It’s literally for dummies (like me) who don’t know anything about photography but still want to take great pictures and video. To take pictures, you literally point and shoot.

To take video, you simply flip the switch to the video/movie setting, and point and record. You can see everything on the screen and if you don’t like it, you simply delete it. When in video mode, it records sound automatically; you don’t need to do anything else. This the easiest camera to use for amateurs who want video and photos, and for what it does the price can’t be beat.

Hope you’re enjoying your weekend.

Yuwanda
P.S.: Want to start a successful career where you have the mobility to live and work where you please? Visit our freelance writing bookstore for a ton of opportunities (freelance writing and internet marketing) to get you started.

P.P.S.: We Love Guest Posts! Get the guest post submission guidelines.

To subscribe and get special deals and discounts on all products, see the sign-up box to the right (top of column) on every page of this site. Once you subscribe, you will immediately be emailed the latest post, as well as all previous posts where a subscription is required.

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Copyright © 2011: Just a reminder that all material on this site is copyright protected and cannot be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without my (Yuwanda Black) written consent. Linking to is fine.

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Freelance Writers: Insight on How to Use Twitter to Land Clients

In last week’s newsletter, we gained insight from social media expert Nina Lewis from Nina Online! on what it takes to successfully offer social media marketing to clients if you’re a freelance writer. …

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A Freelance Writer’s Life Abroad: Inside Peek at My Life as an American Living in Jamaica for a Year, Part XVIII

FINALLY, GIRL A GO GO GETS VIDEO!

The Hot Mineral Springs of St. Thomas, Jamaica

Many of you have been asking for video of my life here in Jamaica. Now, I’ve finally got some. And on what I think is a fun place too – Bath Fountain in St. Thomas, a parish of Jamaica.

This is about a 5-6 hour drive from Negril, which is where I live. It may take you longer to get there because the friend I went with drives like a bat out of hell (a lot of Jamaicans do). Although, I must point out that Jamaicans are very good drivers; extremely good.

This was the road trip I talked about in the last post in the living in Jamaica series. So, let’s get to it – let me expound upon what you’re going to see in this almost 8-minute video.

Bath Fountain in Jamaica: About

Bath Fountain is located in the infamous Blue Mountains of Jamaica, halfway between the capital city of Kingston and Port Antonio in the parish of St. Thomas.

Legend has it that the waters were discovered in the 17th century by a runaway slave, who was badly beaten. Upon discovering the water in the fountain, it healed his wounds and when he returned (ostensibly to tell his master about the healing powers of the springs), the other slaves thought he was a ghost because no one believed that he could have survived such a beating.

This is why the waters of the fountain are believed to have healing powers. As the “cameraman,” Dr. Desmond, explains in the video, the temperature of the water reaches 130 degrees or more. And it’s all natural, coming from rock.

Note: There are different versions of this story floating around; this was the story I was told by the “guide” who showed me around the Bath Botanical Gardens, which is what I want to tell you about next.

Visit the Bath Botanical Gardens in St. Thomas – It’s Free and Worthwhile

hangingtreeAt the foot of the road before you turn to go up to Bath Fountain, there are the Bath Botanical Gardens. I’d been to Bath Fountain before, but never to this place and I only noticed it because my friend and I stopped to get my camera battery charged.

My battery went dead just before we were about to go to the springs, and I was NOT about to go there a second time with no camera; on my last visit my camera was stolen before I took this trip.

So as we’re waiting for the guy to charge my battery (just a generous, random shopkeeper my friend was kind enough to ask the favor from), I noticed the opening to the gardens. I asked some guy standing on the street if we could go in. And he said, “Yeah, mon.” He wound up acting as our tour guide.

The gate was open and it was free, so I figured it was a great way to kill some time and finish my beer while my battery charged. This guy (there is no official tour guide) started telling us about the history of the garden. I knew he expected to be given a few bucks, which was no problem because his information was very interesting. He showed us trees that had been planted, types of fruit the trees bore and a whole bunch of other stuff.

But, what really caught my attention was what he called “the hanging tree.”

The Hanging Tree in the Bath Botanical Gardens in St. Thomas

I did an internet search and couldn’t find any info on this, but this is what the guide told me. The tree (pictured — click all photos for a larger view) sitting in this garden is on the grounds of what was once a slave owner’s home.

It’s called the hanging tree for obvious reasons – slaves were hanged from it, in public view, for all to see. If the story is true, the tree is well over 300 years old.

Needless to say, the place lost its beauty for me and I literally couldn’t wait to get out of there (just the thought of stuff like this makes me physically ill).

rootofhangingtreeThe non-edible fruit this tree bears is call poison fish fruit or poison sea fruit. It looks like a giant – really huge – fig, but is hard to the touch. And as the photo indicates, the roots of this tree are huge. To me, it’s as if the roots were running, trying to escape the horror of what was going on above them.

Learn more about the Bath Botanical Gardens and the history of the Bath Fountain.

Now, back to more pleasant things . . .

Getting to Bath Fountain

This was my second time going through every parish in Jamaica (there are 14 of them).

Bamboo Avenue in Jamaica

In the parish of St. Elizabeth is the infamous Bamboo Avenue,  which stretches for almost 3 miles. It consists of very tall “bamboo trees” growing along each side of the road, forming a beautiful, feathery bamboo tunnel. Quite amazing to see, as the video shows.

The Best Food in Jamaica Is Sometimes by the Side of the Road

Another interesting thing you’ll encounter if you go through St. Elizabeth is what I call “Food Town by the Side of the Road.” You come up on it seemingly out of nowhere. There’s a beach behind it.

Don’t let the rustic nature of this place fool you — it’s some of the best food you’ll ever eat. Some of my favorites are bammy (a cornbread-like bread); conch soup (pronounced “conk”); and fried fish. The big pots pictured here and in the video link just above are where the conch soup is cooked.

conch-soup-potsIt’s really peppery (Jamaican peppers are very hot) with potatoes, carrots, onions and of course conch and  a few other ingredients. It’s delicious!

What is Conch?

Conch is a marine gastropod mollusk with a famous spiraled shell and edible flesh similar to that of abalone, another edible mollusk. The conch is found in Southern waters, particularly the Caribbean, and it has been used as a source of food for centuries. [Source: WiseGeek.com]

I wanted to take one of the pots filled with this soup home with me, as I felt like I’d died and gone straight to food heaven!

Drive Up Blue Mountains to Get to Bath Fountain in St. Thomas: The Perfect Romantic Getaway

As the video clip displays to a limited degree, it’s a gorgeous drive up the Blue Mountain range in Jamaica. Note: It’s impossible to capture the beauty of this drive on camera. I kept taking video and erasing it because I couldn’t seem to get the raw, brilliant beauty of the mountains reflected on film the way I was seeing it with my eyes.

So you’ll just have to trust me when I say, it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It’s almost like you can touch the sky and hold the hand of God. This would be a perfect honeymoon trip/romantic getaway.

Excellent Driving Skills Required

But, make sure you’re a good driver because the roads are narrow, steep, windy and very small. It’s impossible for two cars to pass going up the mountain in 90% of places, so if you don’t know the roads like the natives do, you have to know when to blow your horn (all the time) so you can alert whomever might be coming around the next hairpin curve (and the next curve is always a hairpin curve).

What You’ll See on Your Drive To and Up the Blue Mountains

You’ll see rare birds like the black dove (thought I’d captured it on video, but I missed it), in addition to mongoose; cows; goats (they’re everywhere); fields and fields and fields of sugarcane; fruits (pineapple, apples, mango, bananas, etc.) being sold by vendors on the side of the road; breathtaking, jaw-dropping views of mountain canyons with running water; and every kind of tropical plant imaginable.

Climbing the Mountain (on Foot) to Get to Bath Fountain

Once you finally get to Bath Fountain and park, you have to hoof it for about 3-5 minutes up the mountain (don’t worry, it’s not high) to get to the actual mineral springs. On your way up, you’ll encounter a couple of vendors selling food, but they’re not pushy. In fact, no one really says a word to you.

It’s a narrow path and if you have tender feet (like me), wear shoes. I’d advise wearing “water shoes” because they give you grip (not that it’s slippery going up). But once you get ready to descend into the water, you don’t have to worry about getting your shoes wet.

And oh yeah, there are rocks in the spring as the video shows (this is what hurt my feet). If you choose to get a massage from one of the “masseuses” there (which I highly, highly advise), you’ll be asked to remove them, but you’ll need the shoes on the walk to get back to your car.

What to Bring to Bath Fountain

As mentioned above, water shoes. Also:

A towel (or two): If you get a massage, the masseuse will wet one to drape over you and have you lay on at different points, so you might want to bring two (the second one being to dry yourself off if you don’t to step into your clothes while being damp). If you bring two towels, leave one in your car to dry yourself off there and change into dry clothing.

I wore a daishiki-like pullover and just kept my bathing suit on under it for the rest of the day.

A bathing suit: You can actually strip down and walk up the mountain in your swimsuit to the springs. The first time I went, there was this little makeshift screen you could go behind and change if you didn’t have your swimsuit on. This time, I didn’t see it. So, just wear your bathing suit under your clothes if you don’t want to strip down.

Be sure to wear something you can take off easily and stuff in a bag because there is no place to “store” stuff. Whatever you bring with you will be propped up on rocks if you choose to get a massage (or a friend can hold it for you). On the rocks though, it’s fine. Nobody bothers your stuff.

Note: If you feel comfortable, a two-piece suit is best because then you can get the mud and oil the massagers use on you on as much skin as possible.

When I went this time, I was PMSing and retaining the friggin’ ocean, so no way was I putting on a two-piece on THAT particular day (oy vey, the body of a 40-something, “hopefully” almost menopausal woman is not cute sometimes).

A camera: Can’t miss shots all around. I “hired” Dr. Desmond for 10 minutes to shoot the footage here. He kind of did his own thing with no direction from me other than “shoot Erroll” (my masseuse). But, I didn’t mind because he did a great job and I paid him $500J (about $6 U.S.). And he added all the commentary about the springs without me telling him too, which I thought was really sweet.

A peaceful attitude: Get in the zone and relax. It’s one of the best experiences and if you’re mentally prepared for it, you’ll enjoy it all the more.

Money: You can enjoy the springs all alone, or like I said, pay one of the guys to give you a massage (use the one I’ve come to refer to as “my guy Erroll;” he’s the best).

What you pay them is entirely up to you. Last time, I went without a lot of money and only had $1,000J (about $12) to give to Erroll. As he’s friends with the rasta I came with, I was told not to sweat it; that what I gave him was fine. But, I still felt funny. So this time I was prepared. I bought two bottles of Erroll’s pimento oil and gave him $4,000J. And, it was worth every single penny.

To Contact Erroll and schedule a massage before arriving at the springs, call 876-846-0175.

Getting a Massage at Bath Fountain

Erroll worked on me for almost an hour and a half – literally from the bottom of my feet to the top of my braided head and everywhere in between – thighs, back, buttocks, shoulders, fingers, chest, legs — everywhere. He kneaded, rubbed, patted and scrubbed me like I was a piece of precious clay being molded into Michelangelo’s David.

When the massage first starts, you’re sitting up on a rock somewhere (like I am in the video). Then, you are taken to a spot to lie down (there are only a couple of these). I actually laid down on the rock that the woman in the video is laying on once her masseuse was done with her. The massage lasts another half hour to 45 minutes after you lie down.

You are worked on while you’re laying face up; then you’re turned over and worked on some more. Hot water is poured on you, then a towel is put on you, then you’re massaged some more and the process is repeated over and over.

I fell asleep, woke up, fell asleep some more and just gave myself over to the experience. I was like jelly when Erroll was all done – wobbly, but so soft and pliable that if I’d had a blankie and an air conditioner, I could have crawled right in bed and slept for three hours.

Note: At first, the hot water will seem too hot. But if you can, brave it. The uncomfortability lasts only about 7-8 seconds, then it’s a comfortable warmth. You can literally feel your body loosening up and being “healed.”

I see why people are addicted to massages; it’s one of those experiences in life everyone should have at least once.

More on the Massage

At different points during the massage, oil will be rubbed on you, then natural mud (taken right from the earth there). It will be rubbed all over your body and you sit for about 5 minutes and let it dry. Then, you go back to the bamboo shoot you can see in the background of the video and rinse yourself in the water coming from there.

It’s hot!

Once you rinse all of the mud from your body, then you walk a little further beyond this bamboo shoot and sit in the cold, cold water (to close your pores).

Then you’re done.

Again, be prepared for about an hour and a half of pure bliss. I’m never ready to go.

How Much to Pay for a Massage at Bath Fountain

There is no official fee; as I said before, what you give the masseuses is up to you. Depending on the person though and how much time they spend on you, in my opinion, anything less than $3000J is too little.

Buy Pimento Oil from Erroll at Bath Fountain

Erroll sells this all-natural oil (pimento) that he makes himself. There are about a dozen ingredients in it and you can put it on everything from your face to your hair. The older I get, the drier my skin gets so I put it on my face, especially at night. And when I wake up in the mornings, it’s so smooth I hate to wash it.

I also use it in my hair after washing it – it gives my braids a clean, minty fresh smell and keeps them moist without being heavy and oily. I also use it all over my body sometimes when I get out of the shower. It’s a multi-functional oil that’s just great for a lot of stuff.

If you ask Erroll, it can cure cancer (just kidding). But, it is good for a myriad of things, eg, eczema; dry, itchy skin; scalp diseases; etc.

One Last Thing about Bath Fountain

There is a hotel/spa at Bath Fountain (The Bath Fountain Hotel and Spa), but the mineral springs are separate. According  to, again  my unofficial guide of the Botanical Gardens, what is now the hotel was once a hospital for slaves.

Finally, you’re going to see a lot of different types of people with different types of bodies. You’ll see the butt cracks of some and the mounds of cellulite of others. It’s a relatively small place, but there’s no need to be shy or feel self-conscious. Enjoy the experience. I assure you, it’s one you’ll never forget.

GirlaGoGo.com: My Camera of Choice

I’m a gadget idiot, so my camera of choice is the Sony Cyber-shot. It’s literally for dummies (like me) who don’t know anything about photography but still want to take great pictures and video. To take pictures, you literally point and shoot.

To take video, you simply flip the switch to the video/movie setting, and point and record. You can see everything on the screen and if you don’t like it, you simply delete it. When in video mode, it records sound automatically; you don’t need to do anything else.

This is the easiest camera to use for amateurs who want video and photos, and for what it does the price can’t be beat.

Now that I have a good camera, I’ll be uploading video in almost every post. So to all who’ve written in asking for it, thanks for pushing me to finally do it.

And that’s it for this Girl a Go Go this week. Hope you enjoyed this discussion of Bath Fountain and may you get to experience it one day (soon). Until next time!

Have a good weekend.

Yuwanda
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