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Archives for April 2011

Is It Smart or Dumb to Follow Your Freelance Writing Dreams in This Economy?

I was watching CNN this past Sunday; the “Your Money” program hosted by Ali Velshi. It had an interesting segment entitled something like, “Is It Smart or Dumb to Follow Your Dreams in This Economy.”

The segment highlighted this regular guy who’d lost his business (he sold granite countertops) when the housing market tanked. One day, to relieve stress, he popped in an opera CD and started singing to it.

As it turns out, he has an amazing voice and goes on to get a full scholarship to study at one of the top opera schools in the country. So he moves his family from Colorado to Indiana – and they go on food stamps — so that he can study opera full-time.

People Losing Their Jobs, Finding Their Passion & Doing Something They Love: A CNN Feature


As the segment progressed, it brought up a few issues I think many who want to quit jobs they hate to follow their passion encounter.

Following My Freelance Writing and Self-Publishing Dreams: 50 Ebooks on Amazon by Year’s End

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that one of my 2011 freelance writing New Year’s resolutions is to get 50 ebooks published on Amazon by the end of this year. Some have told me I’m downright crazy; others are a bit nicer, wondering how I’m going about it.

I talk about it in the ebook I just published this past weekend entitled, How to Become a FT Self Publisher: Make the Transition from Writing for Clients (or a FT Job) to Writing for Yourself. Following is an excerpt:

Around the fall of 2009 . . . I started thinking about how I could make the transition from doing so much of the writing [for clients] and transitioning into a strictly managerial role at New Media Words [my SEO writing company], as of January 2011.

FYI, this still hasn’t happened yet, but I made great strides last year.

Some Strides I Made by Planning Ahead

I hired a couple of steady writers;

I paid off some bills so I could start turning down work if I wanted to;

I started saving more;

I got more serious about my ebook pricing model; and

I published my first title on Amazon (which had been a goal for at least two years).

The main thing is, I set a target date.

Why It’s Important to Set a Target Date

It’s amazing how fast time can get away from you . . . and before you know it, you’re stuck in “one day I’m gonna get to this” mode.

When you set a target date, you can look at your calendar and see how many finite months, weeks, days and hours you’re working with.

And this is what accomplishing any goal boils down to: setting a date, making a plan for how to get there, then actively working the plan.

Why Paying Down Debt Is Crucial to Achieving Your Self-Publishing Dreams

One thing I do advise doing though is paying down as much debt as you possibly can. Lowering your monthly expenses will allow you to focus more on your writing.

And, even if you have to wind up taking a job or taking on more client projects, at least you can do so at a lower rate/salary. Remember, the goal is to move towards self publishing, not make the most money or stay stuck in a job/work with a client that you don’t like.

So, if you want to lower your SEO writing rate to $35/article from $50 so you can easily land more clients to pay bills, you can do that – if your monthly overhead is low enough.

See what I mean?
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How to Easily Make Life-Changing Decisions: Rules to Live By

Do  you know the “Dumb Little Man”?

I read an excellent post on DumbLittleMan.com (an excellent “lifestyle” site by the way) entitled, How to Simplify a Complicated Decision, that can help you quickly and easily make grave life decisions. The author gave 10 tips that are so simple, it’s one of those, “I need to print this out and put it in my ‘forever advice’ book” posts. My favorite tip is the very first one. The author writes:

Be Debt Free: Money will play into most of the choices you make. If you don’t have debt, you can put less emphasis on the financial element of your decision.

In the course of my career as an entrepreneur, I have to second this with all of my heart. In my experience being in debt is one of the biggest freelance writing dream snatchers of all time. And trust me, I’ve been there! It ain’t fun and it keeps you stuck.

That’s why when I knew I wanted to turn my attention to being a full-time self publisher, getting out of as much debt as I could was one of the first steps I took.

And, as CNN’s Alina Cho highlights in this story of “The Accidental Tenor,” one of the things he said that spurred him on was that he had no debt (he filed personal bankruptcy because as he put it, he’d already lost everything . . . job, cars, etc.).

Advice on How to Follow Your Freelance Writing and/or Self-Publishing Dreams in This Economy

Besides being debt free, following are two other things you can do to follow your passion – even in a shaky economy.

Set a Target Date: As discussed above, this helps you to start working towards your dream today, instead of “some day.”

Write a “Life Business Plan”: Cross all your i’s and dot your t’s, eg:

How much do you need to save;

What are you going to sacrifice (because there will be sacrifice) to get there;

What’s the worst that could happen (prepare for it);

What’s the best that could happen (prepare for that too!);

Who will your decision affect; how; for how long;

To a certain degree, you should treat your life like a business plan. Almost every successful business starts with one. And all it is . . . is a plan for success. Ever heard the saying:

If you fail to plan; you plan to fail.

The Key to Achieving Your Freelance Writing and/or Self-Publishing Dreams

Because I know that my goal is to get 50 ebooks on Amazon by year’s end, I know what I have to do every day between now and the end of the year to accomplish it. Working with this type of clarity, even when I don’t feel like it or I have client projects on tap, I know when to put in the extra hours (sacrifice) to stay on track.

My Answer to the Question, “Is It Smart or Dumb to Follow Your Dreams in This Economy?”

In my opinion, the answer is – it’s smart . . . as long as you have a defined plan on how you’re going to get there. As I wrote in the post I remember what I felt on Sundays when I worked a full-time job I was less than thrilled with:

If . . . . you’re serious about starting a freelance writing [or self-publishing] career, NOW is always the best time. Why?   Because NOW is always the best time to start living the life you want — plain and simple.

What’s your answer?

how-to-write-an-ebook-smStart Building Your Own Information Empire: The Ebook Writing Tournament is Less Than a Month Away (May 9th): Write an Ebook in 3 Days! 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.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.

Find this information informative? Follow Inkwell Editorial on Twitter.

Read more.

How I Started Landing High-Paying Freelance Writing Jobs Rather Easily

The following is a guest post by E. Gelica of Gigpreneur.com.

Once Upon a Time . . .

At the beginning of my freelance writing career, I would do what most newbie writers do – I signed up on freelance job sites and answered Craigslist ads. I didn’t really engage in any kind of marketing.

Once in a while I would try to post a freelance ad on a forum but then I would receive negative responses from site administrators about not posting spam ads. 

The Frustration of Low-Paying Freelance Writing Opportunities

Eventually, I started receiving responses from clients. However, all the jobs that I were attracting where low-paying. I knew there had to be a better way. 

Others Gaining Success: Why Not Me?

I read several success stories about writers who landed high-paying writing assignments from big corporations. One freelance writer revealed the amount of money he earned from a writing project and it was more than I made in a two-month period.

how-to-freelance-successfullyThe Best Thing You Can Do to Get Better Freelance Writing Opportunities

I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I didn’t have the extra funds to invest in traditional forms of advertising. I had to figure out a way to find higher paying projects without investing money. So, I had to do the next best thing, invest ‘time’ in my freelance business because time is money.

How “Going Local” Garnered Me Freelance Writing Success

I decided to contact small business owners within my local area.  This was perfect because I lived in a business hub. The only draw back was that many of the clients I contacted wanted me to meet them face-to-face.  So, I had to get out of my little comfort zone (working from home) and meet a few clients in person.

Freelance Writing Opportunities: What to do BEFORE You Start to Market

Update Writing Portfolio: Before I started contacting people, I knew that I had to update my online writing portfolio. The samples that I used for Craigslist ads and freelance job boards weren’t going to cut it.  I needed to up the ante.  So, I created three of my best writing samples and added them to my online portfolio. 

Create Marketing Letter: I created an email marketing letter and included a link to my portfolio. 

Build a Contact Database: Then I spent a couple of hours gathering email address of local business owners.  Then crossed my fingers and submitted my marketing letter to over fifty companies.

How to Freelance the “Right Way”: Success Right Out of the Box!

The day that I sent out my first marketing letter, I was amazed to receive a couple of responses from clients who needed SEO articles written for their sites. One client was a dentist and the other client was a web developer.

Then about two days later, a client replied to my email and explained that he already had a full-time in-house writer. Three months later, he emailed me and asked if I was available to assist him with a large writing project.  His writer was to busy to help out.  He needed a total of 15 pages worth of content for is websites.  I gladly accepted the offer!

Why I Stopped Looking for Freelance Writing Work on Job Boards

Finding high-paying freelance writing jobs within my own community worked out great for me. I no longer had to sift through Craigslist ads or freelance job board ads.

Another benefit of finding higher paying clients is that if you do a superb job, you will get referrals. Referrals are great because it is word-of-mouth marketing. I didn’t have to invest any money to find additional high-profile clients. 

Finding Freelance Writing Work Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

I’m living proof that finding high-paying freelance writing jobs doesn’t have to be complex.  If I can find higher paying writing assignments, you can too!
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FYI, Inkwell Editorial’s Latest Ebook Is Available: It’s How to Become a FT Self Publisher: Make the Transition from Writing for Clients (or a FT Job) to Writing for Yourself.

how-to-write-an-ebook-smStart Building Your Own Information Empire: The Ebook Writing Tournament is Less Than a Month Away (May 9th): Write an Ebook in 3 Days! 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.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.

Find this information informative? Follow Inkwell Editorial on Twitter.

Read more.

How to Become a FT Self Publisher: Make the Transition from Writing for Clients (or a FT Job) to Writing for Yourself

This ebook is all about — pulling the trigger so you can transition from writing for clients to writing for yourself. Or, as I like to refer to it . . .

Start building your own information empire!

Add to CartOnly $14.97.

My Quest to Publish 50 Ebooks on Amazon by December 31, 2011

I finally pulled the trigger and have a goal of publishing 32 new titles this year (2011), and get 18 of my existing ebooks on Amazon, for a total of 50 titles on “the big A” by year’s end.

In this ebook, I outline how I’m doing it. Following these steps, you can start a successful self-publishing career too.

How Much of My Income Comes from Self-Publishing?

coverI get this question frequently and the answer is, in 2010, for the first time, I made more than half of my income from my own e-products (ebooks, ecourses and workshops).

As of the first quarter of 2011, it’s creeped up to between 70-75%.

With every new title I put out, I see financial progress — and this is what pushes me to keep writing, for publishing (especially self-publishing) is an evergreen way to make money. You can write as much or as little as you want in order to make as much or as little as you need to live on.

Who This Ebook Can Help

I’m a freelance writer, so I wrote this ebook because I received questions from other freelance writers about how I made/am making the transition to becoming a full-time self publisher.

So, while I talk to freelance writers in this ebook, the information within can be used by anyone who wants to transition into a self-publishing career, eg:

(i) Employees who want to eventually quit a job and write ebooks for a living; or

(ii) Freelancers who want to transition from one niche to another.

The steps are basically the same . . . and can help you make the transition successfully.

Following is a complete Table of Contents.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Page 2

INTRODUCTION: Page 7

Self-Publishing: The Seed is Planted: Page 7

Self-Publishing: Thinking, Thinking, Thinking . . .: Page 8

Ebook Ideas: They’re Everywhere . . . If Self-Publishing Is for You: Page 8

Ebook Publishing: Pulling the Trigger: Page 9

Who This Ebook Can Help: Page 9

Answers to Some More Questions I Receive about Ebook/Self Publishing: Page 9

PREFACE: Page 10

How Much of My Income Comes from Self-Publishing? Page 10

What Are My Best-Selling Ebooks? Page 11

STEP I: BELIEVE IT: Page 12

Why Many Will Try to Discourage You from Your Self-Publishing Dreams: Page 12

STEP II: SAVE AND PAY DOWN DEBT: Page 14

Why My Savings Plan Didn’t Go So Well: Page 14

Why I Started Focusing Most of My Energies on Self-Publishing Even When I Didn’t Have a Lot of Money in the Bank: Page 14

How Your Relationship with Money Governs How Much You’ll Need to Save: Page 15

Pulling Money “Out of Thin Air”: How Being an Online Entrepreneur Can Help You Achieve Your Self-Publishing Dreams Much Sooner: Page 16

Why Paying Down Debt Is Crucial to Achieving Your Self-Publishing Dreams: Page 16

STEP III: SET A TARGET DATE: Page 18

Some Strides I Made by Planning Ahead: Page 18

Why It’s Important to Set a Target Date: Page 18

How Being a Marathon Runner Helps Me to Accomplish My Ebook Writing Goals & How It Can Help You Too: Page 19

Trust Your “Training”: Page 19

The Mindset I Approach My Self-Publishing Career with That Helps Me to Set & Reach Goals: Page 20

STEP IV: WRITE AN EBOOK SELF-PUBLISHING BUSINESS PLAN: Page 21

A. Niche It: Research and Create a Niche: Page 21

The Importance of Keyword Research When Researching Niches: Page 22

B. Run the Numbers: Page 22

How to Figure Out How Many Ebook Sales You Need to Make to Become a FT Self Publisher: Page 22

C. Develop Products: Page 22

When You Can Expect Your Ebook Sales to Become Consistent: Page 23

Factors That Influence When/How Your Ebook Sales Will Become Consistent: Page 23

How to Ensure Repeat Ebook Sales: Page 23

D. Set Time Aside to Learn and Invest in Technology: Page 24

Needed: E-Publishing Assistant: Page 24

E. Marketing Your Ebook: Page 25

One of My Most Successful Ebook Marketing Methods: Page 25

Ebook Self-Publishing Business Plan Conclusion: Page 26

STEP V: SET A WRITING SCHEDULE: Page 27

How to Find Time to Write & How to Write Faster: 6 Things I Do: Page 28

How Long It Took Me to Write This Ebook: Page 29

How Long It Took Me to Write One of My Best Sellers: Page 30

STEP VI: SAY NO . . . TO CLIENTS, TO KIDS, TO FRIENDS, TO . . . LIFE! Page 31

Sacrifice to Meet Your Self-Publishing Goals: Page 31

A Year of Sacrifice for a Lifetime of Profits: Page 32

Why Self-Publishing Allows You to Control Your Income: Page 32

STEP VII: FIND A MENTOR: Page 33

About My Self-Publishing Mentors: Page 33

CONCLUSION: Page 34

Why Self Publishing Is Not Easy, but the Alternative Is Harder to Stomach: Page 34

Self Publishing: The Alternative to NOT Giving It a Shot: Page 34

Contact Me with Your Questions about Ebook Publishing: Page 35

Help Others Achieve Their Freelance and/or Self-Publishing Dreams: Page 35

ENDMATTER: Page 36

Ebooks, Pamphlets & Reports by Inkwell Editorial: Page 36

E-Courses by Inkwell Editorial: Page 37

Get Started Today! Add to Cart$14.97

how-to-write-an-ebook-sm

Start Building Your Own Information Empire: The Ebook Writing Tournament is Less Than a Month Away (May 9th): Write an Ebook in 3 Days! 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.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.

Find this information informative? Follow Inkwell Editorial on Twitter.

Read more.

Plagiarism and Stolen Content: A Growing Web Problem — Is Your Firm Unknowingly Falling Victim and Being Penalized by Google & Other SEs

This morning, as I was clearing out my inbox, I ran across a message from @ @lingocode (on Twitter) with the subject line, “You’ve been plagiarized.”

You’ve Been Plagiarized

She was alerting me to an article I wrote back in 2008 entitled 11 Reasons You’ll Never Succeed as a Freelance Writer (forgive the look of the page; it’s still in the old design the site had), that had been used by another site.

They’d stuck in a few sentences and changed  few words to make it applicable to their industry, but it was without a doubt a 98% ripoff of my content.

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Post Continued Below — Note:
To get a free, customizable report that you can distribute to your clients to help them avoid using plagiarized/stolen content, subscribe to our newsletter. Signup box is on every page of this site to the right. Helpful, free info like this that you pass along can help you land more freelance writing jobs.
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Mad as Hell!

plagiarism-and-content-theftI was furious, as it seems this is happening more and more. As an aside, I’ve got to get a handle on my anger when it comes to this kind of stuff simply because I know it IS only going to get worse, not better.

How I Got My Stolen Content Removed from the Offending Site

At any rate, I contacted the company and received an email from the president not even half an hour later that the content was removed and that she had no idea that it was stolen material.

I believed her.

She even asked if she could repost the material giving me the credit. I said no, stating that she could use it in the following manner. Following is how I explained it:

The article may not be rerun as is, but, if you want to say something to the effect of: “According to this article on InkwellEditorial.com’s site (link to article of course), our industry face the same problems. Based on that article, here are lessons we can learn . . .”
 
The point is to use my article as a reference (and link out to it). It may not be rerun practically verbatim with just a few words changed here and there. That’s plagiarism.
 
Again, thank you for your prompt attention to the matter; I truly appreciate it and your professionalism.

###

She responded, in part:

Unfortunately, this does not appear to be a one time problem [another freelancer found her copyrighted material on the site as well, which was subsequently removed] …….we are very disappointed with the way the blog has been handled by the person in charge of it. 

I don’t wish to burn her at the stake or anything but we are going to have to change how we do this.  Like I said, we learned a big lesson today.  It is difficult because we don’t have the resources to put someone “in charge of making sure the blog posting is original!” This is very unfortunate for us…….i am sincerely sorry you were affected.
##

I responded:

Using basic tools like Copyscape.com and plagium.com to check for possible plagiarism is a must for businesses these days because w/ things like Google’s recent Panda update, this is happening more and more. Google puts a premium on relevant, indepth, well-written content, and that’s why more and more thieves are stealing from writers like me who produce it.
 
In my opinion, burning the freelancer who engaged in this behavior at the stake is EXACTLY what needs to happen. She knows what she did is wrong and there’s simply no excuse for it, especially if she calls herself a writer as well. This morning, I’ve spent close to two hours on this — time I could well use for other things, as I run a thriving freelance writing business.
 
At any rate, these are just my opinions.
 
Good luck however you decide to proceed.
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How Many Web Businesses Get Suckered into Buying Plagiarized/Stolen Content

All of this got me to thinking, a lot of firms may be unknowingly using copyrighted material. After all, many of them use outsourcers to fulfill their freelance writing job needs, as we discussed here recently.

And, they trust that content providers are providing them with original content – UNLESS it is specifically stated otherwise or they are knowingly purchasing PLR content.

So it’s up to us, ethical freelance writers and SEO content providers, to protect our clients. Many depend on us for their content needs. In order to honor that trust, we need to ensure that the content we pass on to them is what they want – unique copy.

Free web tools like Copyscape.com and Plagium.com make it quick and easy to do so.

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Post Continued Below: Copyright Violation Notice. If you’re reading this entire post (snippets are fine) on any site other than InkwellEditorial.com, it is stolen content. Scraping content (eg, using software to illegally copy and paste copyrighted content from websites and blogs) is becoming a common practice which affects every website owner. So if you see this content someplace else, please take a quick moment to send an email to [info]at[InkwellEditorial.com] (remove brackets, of course) so that we can take the appropriate action. Thank you in advance for your help.
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Web Marketers: 2 Questions to Ask Any SEO Writing Company You’re Thinking of Using

Following are two basic questions to ask any SEO content provider you’re thinking about using to ensure that you get original content:

1. Do you use outsourcers (freelancers)? Many SEO writing firms do. This is not the problem. What is a problem is if they don’t have quality checks in place to check the originality of copy, which brings us to the next question;

2. How do you ensure originality of content? Again, there are any number of ways for an SEO writing company to check this – and most of them are free.

This is a question that should be readily answered. If the firm you’re thinking about using stumbles when you ask this question, look for another one.

Your online reputation is just too important to risk unknowingly using content that is not unique. And remember, YOUR site is the one that will suffer, not them – even though you’ve done nothing wrong.

Even if you do eventually get it straightened out, it could cost you untold hours in manpower; manpower that could be put to better use someplace else in your business we’re sure.

So just beware.

Copyright Infringement: How to Protect Your Intellectual Property Rights Online

If you’ve ever had an article, a graphic, a video or any other type of “intellectual property rights” stolen, you know the fury and angst it causes.

Learn how to fight back and protect yourself in this copyright infringement ebook.

P.S.: Get Discounts & FREE Stuff When You Subscribe: We often offer discounts and freebies to our subscribers. So be sure to subscribe (see sign-up box to the right on every page of this site). To get the free report mentioned in the beginning of this post, subscribe. Once you do so, you will immediately be emailed the latest post, as well as all previous posts where a subscription is required.

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

Find this post informative? Follow Inkwell Editorial on Twitter.

how-to-write-an-ebook-sm

The Ebook Writing Tournament is Less Than a Month Away (May 9th): Write an Ebook in 3 Days! 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.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.

Read more.

Freelancing and Taxes: Info on How to Avoid an Audit, How/What to File if You Live Abroad & More

In the U.S. this Friday, April 15th is T-Day (Tax Day). It might as well be D-day for some of us, no? But, I digress.

If you freelance, taxes are probably one of those things that you deal with in one of two ways:

(i) You put them off until the very last minute and hope that good ole Uncle Sam stays out of your wallet this year (not a good strategy for fiscal success as a freelancer. Trust me, I know; or

(ii) You plan for tax season all year long so they don’t come back to bite you in the arse come April.

Freelance Tax Questions

Every since February, I’ve been getting questions about freelancing and taxes (some people are so early and organized – aarrgghhhh!). So, I reached out to some pros to get some solid info. Following are a couple of  the emails I’ve received that kind of summed up what most wanted to know, along with answers from some tax professionals.

Question #1: Received on 2/18/2011

freelance-taxesHi Yuwanda,

Thanks for the update on your life in Jamaica-it looks very beautiful there. I don’t think I mentioned this to you before, but I currently live with my wife’s family in the Philippines. I have lived here for 3 and 1/2 years.

We moved here out of necessity-we are adopting a non-orphan child and the only way to complete it was to live in this country for 3 years before starting the adoption. It is now moving through the courts and should be completed soon.

For most of the time here, we’ve been living off our savings, while I’ve been searching for a way to make money online to help support us. Thankfully, a friend I met in one of the forums . . . recommended your ebook [on SEO writing] to me and has been mentoring me on much of the details ever since, which has helped me to reach the point now where I have consistent weekly cash flow.

The reason I mention all this is I wanted to know what you know about the tax implications of living abroad. I have heard that if you are a US citizen and you live abroad, you are exempt for like the first $90k or something in income. This has never been an issue in the past, but this year it definitely will be.

When I read the IRS regulations on this, they are a bit confusing (no big surprise there). I was wondering if you could post sometime about how you handle your taxes and if you are able to qualify for this tax exemption.

 PL

Question #2: Received on 2/20/2011

Hi Yuwanda,
 
Just a question for you…are you required to submit taxes on your freelance earnings while living in Jamaica? Also, do you know much about whether a Jamaican freelancer (like myself) based in Jamaica would need to file taxes for my freelance writing earnings?
 
Thanks,
C-

My Quick Answer to Freelancer on This Question (See More Details from Tax Pros Below)

C-:
 
As a U.S. citizen, I am required to pay taxes on my earnings. I’m not sure about Jamaica’s laws; every country has their own. Consult a tax attorney in your country to find out.

FREELANCE TAX QUESTIONS: ANSWERS FROM PROFESSIONALS

When questions started coming in about this, I reached out to Sam on Twitter (@CanTaxPro), who was generous enough to send in a detailed response. Following is what I asked.

My Question to a Tax Professional about Freelancing and Taxes

Sam:
 
First, thank you for getting back to me. I know you must be swamped  this time of year and I really appreciate your time.
 
The reason I wanted to contact you is because I ran an SEO writing company and . . . particularly as SEO writing has grown, more and more of us are working abroad. For example, I’m American, but spend about half the year in Jamaica. One freelancer sent in the following question. Can you shed some light on this?
 
 QUESTION SENT IN BY AMERICAN FREELANCE WRITER LIVING IN THE PHILIPPINES
 
  . . . I want to know about the tax implications of living abroad. I have heard that if you are a US citizen and you live abroad, you are exempt for like the first $90k or something in income. This has never been an issue in the past, but this year it definitely will be. When I read the IRS regulations on this, they are a bit confusing (no big surprise there).

I was wondering if you could post sometime about how you handle your taxes and if you are able to qualify for this tax exemption.
 
To put it succinctly, what should freelance writers who live/work in another country know when it comes to taxes?

 Sam’s Answer

OK Yuwanda, here you go.

I have clients all over the world who are dealing with complex tax issues. Taxes on foreign income is a very common issue in my practice. Anyone needing help on this subject should feel free to contact me through my website, http://taxsupport.ca.
 
Hope the following helps.
 
Tax Info for US Citizens Living Abroad
 
In recent years, many U.S. citizens have left the U.S. and started settling and working from foreign lands. The advent of technology has made it easier for those working from anywhere to keep in touch with customers.
 
Working and living abroad has significant tax implication for U.S. citizens. If you are a U.S. citizen, you must report and file your income tax every year to IRS. Your income must include income from all sources — within and outside the USA. In tax terms, it is referred to as worldwide income.

As an aside, besides the USA, I think only North Korean citizens have to report worldwide income to their government.

Amount of Foreign Income That Is Exempt for U.S. Citizens Living & Working Abroad
 
For U.S. citizens, part of their income from foreign sources are excluded for tax purpose. The specific amount varies each year. For [tax year] 2010 this amount is $91,500. Any foreign income over that amount will be taxed at the marginal tax rate for the individual tax payer.

Additional IRS Forms U.S. Citizens Living & Working Abroad Must File – or Face Severe Consequences
 
Beside income tax filings, U.S. citizens living abroad must file several complicated informational tax forms to the IRS every year, whether they have to pay taxes or not.
 
Along with IRS Form 1040 and Form 2555 (Foreign Earned Income Exclusion), US Citizens must file Form TD F 90-22.1 (A report of all foreign bank and investment accounts). There are severe consequences for not filing Form TD F 90-22.1, including penalties, interest and prison time.

U.S. citizens living abroad who have to pay taxes on their foreign income should restructure their income to keep it tax exempt. Consult a tax professional to learn how to properly do this.

More “Food for Thought” Tax Info for U.S. Citizens Living & Working Abroad
 
Here is blog post that may interest your readers about citizens living abroad and how to avoid/lower their tax burden: http://www.taxsupport.ca/want-to-avoid-tax-denounce-your-citizenship/.
 
About Sam: Sam is a US/Canadian tax professional with 12 years experience of working with U.S. expatriates and duel citizens. Find him online at Taxsupport.ca and on Twitter at #cantaxpro. Learn more at Super Sam.
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Advice for Freelancers on How to Avoid an Audit: Insight from a Second Tax Professional for Freelancers

Last year, Outright.com provided readers here with some valuable info just in time for tax season. This year, they did it again. Jennifer Escalona, the [Social Media] Community Manager at Outright sent me the following email a couple of weeks ago, writing:

Did you know the IRS compares the deductions on your Schedule C to others in your industry and if yours are unusually high, they can flag you for an audit?

I’m writing to you because you covered Outright.com in the past on Inkwell and we thought, here at tax time, you and your readers might be interested in our newest widget, which allows you to compare your deductions against the averages of other businesses in your industry.

Freelance Tax Calculator: See – and Fix — “Audit Red Flags” before the IRS Does

It’s based on government info, so the “governmentese” isn’t as small business friendly as we would like, but it’s an interesting snapshot of U.S. business and income. And if you compare it against your Outright Schedule C (using this form of an income tax calculator that compares deductions), it can show you any red flags before the IRS sees them!
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That wraps up what the professionals have to say about freelancing and taxes. Following is one more piece of info to help you weather tax season this year.

Freelancing? Taxes Got You Over a Barrel? File an Extension

If you’re not ready to file taxes by Friday (April 15th) – either because you’re too swamped with deadlines, don’t have all of your paperwork (eg, a missing 1099 from a firm you did contract work for), are travelling (me!) or just don’t want to deal with taxes right now, you can get an extension to file your taxes. And, it’s free to do so online.

Note: This does not give you any more time to pay; if you owe and you file an extension, you could incur penalties if you don’t pay up – on/before April 15, the tax filing deadline.

“But,” you may be thinking, “how do I know what I owe until I file?” Ahh, same question I had years ago when I first filed an extension.

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Freelancing and Taxes: What Filing a Tax Extension Does NOT Mean

The government gives you more time to do the actual filing, not compute your taxes. Hence, they ask they you send in an estimated amount due because they assume that you’re a great little recordkeeper and know more or less what you owe them.

The extra time allotted is for you to gather the paperwork and/or handle the other reasons you might not be able to do the actual filing (eg, get back from wherever you are outside the states, gather missing 1099s, get receipts in order for the deductions you claim, etc.).

In short, they want the monies you owe them by April 15th, or you will be assessed penalties.

The good news is, if you wind up not owing and you’ve filed an extension, there are no penalties or fees (ie, they’ll gladly hold on to monies they owe you, but they don’t want you holding on to monies you owe them).

Dont’cha just love Uncle Sam?!

And that’s the skinny on the freelance tax situation this year. Hope the info helps and that you get a big fat refund!

Sincerely,
Yuwanda
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Freelance Writers: 10 Reasons the Google Panda Update Makes (SEO) Article Marketing Even More Effective & Means More Work for You

Update: 11/23/2012 — Learn why I started my own article directory in January of this year.

Note: This is an in-depth post (about 2,500 words) about article marketing — complete with graphics and links. If you can’t read the whole thing now, feel free to bookmark it to refer back to later. Hope you enjoy it and of course, all comments are welcome.

About Article Marketing: Is It Worth It In Light of the Recent Google Panda Update?

Every since Google made its algorithm change (aka the Google Panda Update) back in February, the web has been abuzz about how it’s making article marketing less relevant, how article marketing is dead, how it’s now a waste of time — and just bad things in general about it.

Following are just a few of the articles I ran across when doing a quick search on the subject:

From WebProNews: The Panda Reaps – Is Article Marketing Still Viable?: Google Change Throws Tactics Into Question

From a Digital/Internet Marketing Firm: Google Panda and the Death of Article Marketing

From an SEO Copywriting Site: Has Google’s Panda Update Killed Online Article Marketing?

And the list goes on and on.

As an aside, many of these articles make very cogent arguments on both sides of the debate – some point out that article marketing can still be effective; while others say it’s completely dead.

About Article Marketing: While I Believe in It – Even More So After Google’s Panda Update

I’ve been an avid article marketer since 2004; I’ve literally written hundreds of articles to promote everything from my ebooks to affiliate products. Just Google my name (Yuwanda Black), you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Just FYI, this site (InkwellEditorial.com) took a hit in the rankings with the recent update. We lost top positions for several keywords we’d ranked well for for years – effortlessly. But even that hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm for article marketing. I attribute the drop in rankings it to a whole bunch of stuff I haven’t done to this site, eg, site navigation.

Article Marketing Is Not Dead: 10 Reasons Google’s Panda Update Made It an Even Better Way to Market Online

And even after the Google Panda Update, I believe in this form of online marketing more than ever. Following are ten reasons that get into a bunch of stuff about article marketing and why I think it’s still an excellent way to market online (and I’m not even going to mention backlinks y’all!).

I. Content Marketing Rocks: Article marketing is nothing more than content marketing. And as we’ve discussed on this site recently, content marketing is where it’s at nowadays. A previous client who owns a leading internet marketing firm that teaches seminars around the country on PPC (and other forms of internet marketing) remarked in the post linked to in this paragraph:

Content marketing is the wave of the future and those who invest in it now will leapfrog over the competition, who’ll be playing catch up for years.

II. Good Content Still Ranks Well Even on “Low Quality Sites” Like Article Directories: There will always, always, always be a need for good content and no matter how it’s distributed, eg, article marketing directories, blogs, social media, etc., if you produce it, you want people to find it, right?

I know I do!

For example, if you type in the keyword phrase “seo writing” (without quotes), you know what the number one organic result is as of this writing? An article written by me in January of 2009 – on EzineArticles.com. And, this is out of almost 92 million results – yes, million!

Not to brag (only to prove a point), but content written by me about “SEO writing” occupies four spots on the first page of Google. It can be found on everything from my site which has all unique content (SeoWritingJobs.com (see result #5 in the graphic below)); to free press release sites like PRLog.com (see result #6 in graphic below), which are rife with lots of so-called, low-quality content.

In short, if it’s good, quality content, it stands a chance of being recognized by the search engines and showing up high in search results – even if it’s part of a “content farm.”

what-is-seo-writing-search-results

III. About Article Marketing and Garbage Content! It’s getting harder to rank with a blog/website that has spun (ie, via article spinning software), regurgitated, non-useful content. So goodbye to garbage content. Google wants quality.

In fact, Google’s whole algorithmic change was meant to give good content more room to shine at the top. Now, we can fight over what “good, quality content” is all day long.

Michael Martinez, who writes over at SEO-Theory.com (and a few other places) puts forth a pretty in-depth, funny, bit of a sarcastic article on this entitled, Why Your Quality Content Sucks, writing:

The most frequently used expression that I gleaned from reading dozens of these posts [on why some sites lost rank after the Google Panda Update] was without question “quality content” or some variation on it. . . . “Quality content”, like “quality links”, is a nonsense expression. That means it makes no sense. That means it doesn’t mean anything within the context of search engine optimization. Your “quality content” might be HIGH quality content in your eyes and LOW quality content in my eyes. Which of us is right?

With that being said, in my opinion, if your content is useful “in the eyes of enough beholders,” it will still rank well – whether it’s found in an article marketing directory, or on your website.

IV. Distribution Is Just as Important as Writing Good Content: Just like in marketing, distribution counts. You can have the best thing-a-ma-bob around (or article or blog post or video), but if no one knows about it, what good is it? That is, assuming you’re marketing your thing-a-ma-bob to make money.

And most of us write content — and distribute it — to drive traffic, generates leads and make sales. Article marketing rocks when it comes to getting the word out quickly to a lot of places!

V. It’s Cheap and Easy Compared to Other Forms of Marketing: Article marketing remains one of the cheapest, easiest ways to distribute content. It’s FREE after all! Compare that to, for example, pay per click marketing. Once you read more about article marketing and start comparing it to other forms of online marketing, you’ll quickly realize how cost effective it can be.

VI. The Returns are Long Lasting: Articles I wrote years ago still pop up high in search results. Proof?

From 2002-2004, I had an online store that sold ethnic décor – eg, soft home furnishings like mudcloth pillows, ethnic candles, woven African baskets, etc. With no money to market, I used article marketing to get the word out about it.

As of this writing, if you type in the keyword phrase “ethnic décor” (without quotes), an article I wrote in 2003 still pops up in search results on the first page of Google (positions #4 and #8) out of over 6 million results. Sure it’s a small niche, so it’s easier to rank well for. But that’s the whole point of online marketing, to dominate your niche, right?

I closed this business in 2004 and this article STILL ranks well – some eight years later!

And that’s the beauty of (SEO) article marketing; if it’s good content it can drive traffic for years to come. Years! Can’t beat that for ROI.

effects-of-google-panda-update-on-article-marketing

VII. Dominate Your Niche: The more you learn about article marketing, the more you’ll see how niche marketing with it can really make you stand out. And depending on your niche, it can be pretty easy to dominate it with this form of marketing. BUT, I want to repeat — it depends heavily on what your niche is.

In case you don’t know, marketing on the web is all about nicheing (if you don’t at least know this, then article marketing ain’t gonna help you).

About Article Marketing’s Power: Case Study — How One Small Business Owner Dominated Her Niche Pretty Quickly

To demonstrate niche success with article marketing, let me tell you a little story.

In 2008, my sister wrote an ebook on foreclosure cleaning. She ran a very successful foreclosure cleanup business in Atlanta at the time (now she just consults about it) and people kept emailing her tons of questions that she just didn’t have time to respond to in-depth.

I kept saying, write an ebook on foreclosure cleaning. She kept saying she didn’t have time. Finally, after about six months of pestering her, she wrote it. I signed on as an affiliate to help her market it. And of course, I used article marketing (in fact, I got her into it too!)

Now, if you type in keywords like foreclosure clean up; foreclosure cleaning; cleaning foreclosures; etc., you’re going to find something written by one of us (sometimes both) — on the first page of Google. Proof?

In this graphic, the first result is an article written by me, the second result is my sister’s website and the fourth result is an article that mentions her company in USA Today.

effects-of-google-panda-update-on-article-marketing1

How did a national newspaper find out about her? By doing research on the web. Now, I don’t know if they found her via an article in an article directory or via her website directly. But I bet you this:  they read more than one piece on her company and some of them were articles written by us that appeared came from article directories.

Get National Attention with SEO Article Marketing

So, article marketing paid off here big time!

This happened to me when I had my ethnic home décor store online as well. I did radio interviews and appeared in quite a few regional newspapers – because people found me online via articles I’d written and submitted to article directories and other “content farm” places like free press release sites.

VIII. It Builds Authority: The more content you put out, the more people run across content written by you, the more they come to view you as an expert – an authority in your niche.

My name pops up so much in freelance/SEO writing circles because I’ve published so much content on the subject. Now while I don’t consider myself any type of SEO guru, plenty of subscribers to my newsletters think of me that way (they tell me so).

So I’ve built my “street cred” in this niche. Hence, if someone wants to order content from my SEO writing company, or purchase one of my SEO writing ebooks or sign up for my SEO copywriting training class, they’ve more than likely already been pre-sold by the enormous amount of articles I’ve written (and distributed) on the subject.

And to think, my foray into article marketing all started because I had no money and wanted to market my new little business (Ethnic Home Decor) online. I learned about article marketing — and haven’t looked back since.

Note: Learn more about article marketing in this tutorial.

IX. More Users Conduct Online Research before Purchasing: Finally, the Google Panda Update means greater returns from SEO article marketing than ever before because more and more users are coming online everyday to search for – and buy — stuff. And shoppers are more savvy. They conduct online research before making a purchase — even if the purchase is at a brick-and-mortar location. Proof?

Ninety-four percent of online shoppers conduct research prior to making a purchase and 61% of online shoppers always or often use search engines, according to the Compete Online Shopper Intelligence Study. [Source: MarketingCharts.com]

In my opinion, one of the best ways to get found online is to still write and widely distribute quality content. And one of the best ways to do this is still SEO article marketing.

X. But, Stats PROVE that Article Marketing Is Not as Effective as It Once Was: Not for nothing, but I took statistics in college (and hated every second of it), but one thing I learned is that you can make statistics say what the hell you want. Really! Just ask any politician — they twist stats so much that you can’t believe any number that comes out of their mouths.

Now, this is not to say that article directories didn’t get banged up pretty badly by the big Panda. The article marketing stats afterwards scared the bejeezus out of some.

But it made me think, “Wow, what a great opportunity! Many are now going to stop marketing with articles. Yoohooooo!” A lot of these quitters weren’t churning out great content anyway. After all, you have to KNOW your content (your niche) to write quality (ie, useful) content.

You can’t be a fly-by-night operator who just wants to throw together a few, generic 250-word articles (or tons of them if you’re paying a $1/per article writer) and make money.

Now, the REAL business owners can shine; the ones who know their niche, put out useful content and are in it for the long haul. Dare we dream that our content will get rewarded?

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel for folks like us. Yes!

SEO Article Marketing: The #1 Reason I Will Continue to Invest in It

I will continue to invest in article marketing. I will continue to advise my clients to invest in article marketing. And I will continue to tout the benefits of article marketing to my subscribers.

And the main reason is this – I don’t spend money online to make money. Or, very little. Ninety percent (90%) of my online marketing is article marketing (or now as its becoming known by its more newfangled name — “content marketing”).

Because, for me, it works.

Why the Google Panda Update Means More Work for Freelance Writers: How I Sold the Benefits of Article Marketing to a Client

Yesterday, I had a phone consultation with a new client. And, I was explaining the benefits of article marketing to him (as it’s laid out on my SEO writing company site). I STILL believe this. I told him to do more research on his own so he’d have a grasp of both sides of the argument. But, he said:

What you said makes sense; we want to start with some foundational content and some “easy, breezy” content on an ongoing (weekly) basis.

And, he placed (and paid for) his first article order just a few hours later.

Note: Don’t sell what you don’t believe in. If I didn’t believe in article marketing, I wouldn’t continue to use it for my own ventures and of course, I’d never sell the service to clients. The ONLY reason I offer this service to clients is because I believe wholeheartedly in it.
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Post Continued Below: Copyright Violation Notice. If you’re reading this entire post (snippets are fine) on any site other than InkwellEditorial.com, it is stolen content. Scraping content (eg, using software to illegally copy and paste copyrighted content from websites and blogs) is becoming a common practice which affects every website owner. So if you see this content someplace else, please take a quick moment to send an email to [info]at[InkwellEditorial.com] (remove brackets, of course) so that we can take the appropriate action. Thank you in advance for your help.
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BEWARE — Article Marketing Scams: I Don’t Endorse Products Like Article Spinning Software

In spite of what you may run across on the web, I have NOT endorsed any products like article spinning software, article submission software, autoblogging software, etc.

Because I am an avid article marketer and have written extensively on the subject (and authored an article marketing ebook), I’ve run across “Testimonials” I’ve purportedly given for some of these types of products. It’s not me and if you see my name attached to it, it’s a scam so don’t purchase it. 

About Article Marketing: Is It for You?

I hope I’ve given you enough information about article marketing to help you make an informed decision about whether it’s something that can work for you — whether you’re a freelance writer who wants to sell this service to clients; or an affiliate marketer looking to make money (when you have no marketing budget); or just an internet marketer wondering if it’s still worth your time.

Sincerely,
Yuwanda

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P.S.: The Ebook Writing Tournament is Coming Next Month: Write an Ebook in 3 Days! 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.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.

Read more.