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Archives for September 2011

Where Have All the Freelance Writing Jobs Gone? Here’s Where

Nowhere, that’s where all the freelance writing jobs have gone. In fact, they’re more plentiful than ever. But, before we get to some specific things you can do to start landing them, let’s back up a bit . . .

In October of 2008, I wrote a post for the highly respected blog, Copyblogger.com. Brian Clark, the site’s editor titled it, Where Have all the Freelance Writing Jobs Gone? (I think I’d given it another title – but he’s so much better at coming up with great titles than I am).

That post still receives comments – almost three years later.

Just this past weekend, the following comment by Jason at ClientsSuck.net came in, which inspired this post. Jason responded:

Another idea [for finding freelance writing jobs] is to stop selling something that people don’t want (words on a page) and start marketing the real result that comes BECAUSE of the words on a page. If you make your business simply about stringing words together, the discussion will tend to focus on two things:
 
1. How cheaply will you write those words?
2. How fast will you write them?
 
When the focus goes there, you’re pretty much in a race for the bottom. Ouch.
 
The market for freelance writers isn’t drying up, because there is opportunity everywhere for those skills to be applied in an effort to create big results. It just takes some creativity to PACKAGE the art of writing in a way that your prospect GETS the value of what that can produce. (emphasis added)

where-have-all-the-freelance-writing-jobs-goneThe emphasized portion is what I want to expound upon a little in this post because, as Jason so accurately states, the market for freelancing is not drying up. In fact, there are more freelance writing jobs than ever before, as the following posts highlight.

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

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

SEO Writing Work Continues to Flow in for This Freelancer: What’s She Doing? Learn How She Got on a Hot Streak (and You Can Too!)

But, customers are becoming more astute. And, it’s the freelancer who can sell RESULTS that will land clients.

So, how do you sell results? Following are a few things I do.

Where Have All the Freelance Writing Jobs Gone? What I Do to Find Clients

Free Reports: If you look at successful sites like Copyblogger, one thing you’ll see is that they put out a lot of FREE, informative reports, like this one on SEO writing.  

It ain’t fluff; it’s not hastily thrown together; it’s not “topical” just to sell you something else.

It’s VALUABLE, in-depth info that overtly and subliminally makes potential clients think, “Hey, if they’re putting this type of content out for free, imagine what they’d do if I actually threw some dough their way.”

You won’t, as Jason says above, have to “race to the bottom” (ie, compete with other freelance writers on rate) if you’re putting out quality content like this that proves your worth. In fact, most clients would feel funny even questioning your rates because they’ll know they’re getting the best when they hire you.

Blog Regularly: Nothing displays your writing skill like a regularly updated blog. This is another thing that great blogs like Copyblogger (and this site, I sheepishly add) do. These sites provide a wealth of constantly updated content, which presells clients with every word they devour.

And, not for nothing, it gives you greater visibility on the web because search engines love content – and the more frequently you update your blog, the more it is crawled and indexed by search engines and returned in search results.

SEO Your Content: This goes hand-in-hand with the last point. Whatever you put out on the web, make sure you use search engine optimization guidelines for writing. It will help search engines to find your content – and hopefully return it high in search engine results.

Article Marketing: Just yesterday, I received the following email from someone who found my profile on EzineArticles.com.  He wrote:

To Yuwanda Black,

With reference to your profile published at Ezine Articles.

I would like to request you to kindly write for my real estate blog as well. Your signature will be posted at the bottom of each post. Hope to hear positively from your side.

Now, while I get the feeling he wanted me to write for free (ie, b/c he offered to give me a byline), it means that article marketing works. You can get legitimate job leads this way (I’ve landed a few clients who ran across my profile on AssociatedContent.com).

The best thing about prospects contacting you in this manner is that they’re already most likely pre-sold on your services, so all you have to do is “tie up” the sale.

Where Have All the Freelance Writing Jobs Gone: Conclusion

The bottom line is, there’s plenty of work for freelance writers these days. But, too many stress about not finding clients and settle for low-paying jobs without realizing their real value.

Remember, prospects need you as much as you need them. And, if you talk to them about the results your freelance writing services can provide, it makes it that much easier to land them as clients.

Have a great rest of the week!
Yuwanda

Find this post informative? Please RT It and Follow Inkwell Editorial on Twitter.

coverP.S.: Get the ebook that pushed my freelance writing career to the next level – allowing me to travel and live abroad, get out of debt and really “live the freelance life.” One freelancer wrote:

Hi Yuwanda,

Just wanted to say thank you – as a result of the advice in your SEO writing e-book, I got my first order within 12 hours of sending out my first batch of 10 marketing emails.

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.

Advice from Successful Freelancers: How They Built Their Careers & How You Can Too!

Note: The following is an excerpt from this ebook, along with a complete Table of Contents.

Almost all of the freelancers who were initially interviewed for this ebook in 2004 were still in business when this book was updated 7 years later. Amazing when you consider most freelancers flame out within 1-2 years. So, they must be doing something right, no?!…

Read more.

6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Freelance – What 1,200 Freelancers Said about Their Careers and Their Lives That Can Inspire You to Make the Leap

Since 1997, except for an 18-month stint where I had a job as a Regional Director of Recruiting, I’ve been self-employed. Most of my freelance work has been in the editorial industry; since 1993, I’ve been a freelance writer (editor, proofreader, copy editor, word processor).

I point this out to say, I’ve been out there on my own for a while.

Some of the Biggest Fears that Freelancers Face

One of the biggest obstacles that many have that prevents them from striking out on their own is fear  . . .

Fear of if they’ll be able to make a go of freelancing;

Fear that they won’t get paid as a freelancer;

Fear that they won’t get paid enough for their freelance work;

Fear that they won’t get paid on time if they freelance;

Fear that if they freelance, ______________ (you fill in the blank).

I receive tons of questions all the time from wannabe freelancers who are afraid to make the leap. And, I think that the reason so many are fearful is that there’s not a lot of cohesive, detailed information out there on freelancers as a whole.

Taking the Fear Out of Freelancing

2011-freelance-industry-reportThis is why I was so glad to run across a link by @LinguaGreca on Twitter to a study that revealed some in-depth information about freelancers. The study was sponsored by the International Freelancers Day online conference. The findings were put together and released as The 2011 Freelance Industry Report.

More than 1,200 professionals – from various industries – provided detailed info about their businesses and lives as freelancers. The 53-page report puts to rest a lot of the fears surrounding freelancing.

6 Freelance Fears Put to Rest

Following are six reasons you shouldn’t be afraid to freelance – as the findings in this report underscore.

Freelancing Fear #1: I Won’t Be Able to Earn Enough to Pay My Bills

The information in the report shot this theory to hell. It showed that:

Freelancers earn healthy rates for their work. Although the range varies widely, 45% of freelancers earn between $20 – $59 per hour. Furthermore, 26% earn $80 or more per hour and 17% earn $100 or more per hour.

And not for nothing, but the survey showed that, “Just over half of freelancers are the primary income earners in their household.”

Freelancing Fear #2: It Will Be Hard to Find Clients

Amazingly, while this was a top concern among freelancers, the number who worried about it wasn’t nearly as high as you’d think. According to the report, less than a quarter (22%) cited it as a challenge.

Conversely, this means that almost 80% had no problems finding clients – or at least didn’t cite it as a major concern.

It underscores what I’ve always felt as a freelance writer especially  – even through dry spells – ie, that there’s plenty of work out there if you’re willing to be proactive about going after it.

Freelancing Fear #3: Freelancing Doesn’t Provide Job Stability – What Happens If the Economy Tanks

This is a big one for many who want to make the leap to freelancing full-time. And it’s understandable, especially if you have a family with tiny, dependent mouths to feed. But the survey puts this one to rest big time. What did it reveal?

The majority of freelancers (52%) either have not been impacted by the economy or have faced only a very minor impact. Only 19% said that they have been significantly affected.

Furthermore, freelancers tended to be overwhelmingly optimistic. Over three-quarters (78%) said that they are optimistic about their business prospects over the next year. How many job holders can say that?

As I wrote in the end-of-year post, Want a Freelance Writing Career? Here’s How to Achieve That Dream in 2010:

Many shy away from freelancing in search of job stability. I quite frankly don’t think there is such a thing anymore. Many of the jobs in manufacturing, for example, have disappeared – and they’re not coming back. And in our field, journalism, jobs are disappearing at an alarming rate.

I argue that freelancing is the new form of job stability.

I’d much rather freelance and have 30 or 40 clients I depend on for my living, than 1 client (an employer) to provide for me.

Freelancing Fear #4: It’s Hard to Freelance Part-Time and Be Successful

I started my freelance career while working a full-time job; I’m not gonna lie, it wasn’t easy and and I didn’t have kids or a husband so could work as much as I wanted. And I did; I worked all the time. But, I enjoyed the money I made and it eventually allowed me to transition from a full-time job into a full-time freelance career.

Unless you have a stockpile of cash, it’s sometimes the only way it can be done. And, this survey proves this, highlighting that “accidental freelancers” do more than ok, ie:

. . .  80% of these “accidental” freelancers are much happier now than they were as employees. Seventy-four percent of them are also optimistic about their business prospects. And fully 30% of them are earning $80 or more per hour.

Freelancing Fear #5: The Hunt for Work Is Always On – It’s Too Stressful

Freelancing can be a stressful career because there is no paycheck at the end of the week. But, one thing the survey underscored that even puts this fear to rest is that an amazing number of freelancers do achieve what amounts to “job stability.”

The survey found that:

A surprising number (42%) of freelancers tend to work for a client for one year or longer, a clear sign that solo professionals do great work and that client loyalty does indeed exist. In fact, 26% report that they often work with clients for two years or longer.

I can attest to this first hand. I’d say that about a third of my clients are long-timers – a year or more. I’d estimate that about 20-25% are with me for two years or more.

All you need is a few of these (3-5), depending on what your rate is and your monthly bills are – to cover your necessary expenses. So even when times are lean, you can still pay the rent/mortgage.

Freelancing Fear #6: I Won’t Have a Life – I’ll Be Working All the Time & Too Burnt Out to Enjoy “The Freelance Life”

Nuh ugh. According to findings in the survey:

Forty-eight percent said they had more free time than they did when they held a job, and another 18% said it was about the same as it was before becoming a freelancer.

Other Important Facts about Freelancing this Survey Highlighted

Marketing Rules

The survey found that more experience freelancers were MORE affected by the economy than their newer counterparts. But, it explained it in the following manner:

. . . one hypothesis could be that more experienced freelancers tend to stop or slow down their marketing efforts altogether as they get more deeply entrenched with one or two clients. This strategy works well in a healthy economy, but when conditions deteriorate, many are left without a viable prospect pipeline.

Bottom line: Us old-timers tend to get more complacent than newbies, who tend to stay on their marketing a bit more. This is because many old-timers know how to bring in the business when they need to though.

The lesson for all freelancers here is to market all the time – never stop marketing no matter how busy you get.

Freelance Writers Are One Niche Who Are Especially Optimistic about Their Business Prospects

The survey showed that:

Web developers (46%), writers (45%) and marketing professionals (44%) were more likely to feel extremely optimistic about their respective businesses’ outlook over the next year than their counterparts in other professions. Conversely, translators (14%) and business consultants (13%) were the most pessimistic.

And maybe it’s because . . .

Translators (41%) are more likely to spend less time prospecting than their peers in other fields.  . . .  Copywriters have the highest concentration of freelancers spending 16 to 20 or more hours per month promoting their businesses.

Female Freelancers Out Earn Their Male Counterparts

According to the April 2010 Time magazine article, Why Do Women Still Earn Less Than Men?:

U.S. women still earned only 77 cents on the male dollar in 2008, according to the latest census statistics. (That number drops to 68% for African-American women and 58% for Latinas.)

But, at least for freelancers – up to a certain point – females outearn their male counterparts. The survey found that:

. . . women freelancers out-earn their male counterparts in every rate level from $11 to $89. It’s not until the $90+ per-hour range that men out-earn women (something that definitely needs to change).

Freelancing Allows You to Remove a Lot of the “Isms” from Your Life (Ageism, Sexism, Racism)

Because you can hide behind your computer if you want, you don’t have to worry about a lot of the discrimination you’d face in the traditional workplace. This may explain why the vast majority of freelancers are women (67%), and why older workers and much younger ones take up freelancing.

Fully 10% of respondents were 60 or older. And 14% were either in their teens or twenties. The largest represented group in the survey was the 30 – 39 segment (28%), closely followed by those in their 40s (25%) and 50s (24%).

The Longer You Freelance, the Happier You Are

Freelancers report being happier overall being self-employed (59%), and the survey found that the longer people freelanced, they happier they tended to be, ie:

66% of those who have been freelancing for 10 years or longer felt strongly about being self-employed, vs. 51% of those who have been freelancing for one year or less.

As a long-time freelancer, my take on this is that you know more; you get more confident in your skills and abilities; in your ability to bring in the business; and you’ve lived all the up and down cycles of freelancing — so it’s less stressful.

Is Freelancing Becoming the New Workforce Norm?

According to the report, numbers compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that one-third of the U.S. workforce is self-employed, part-time or contingent freelancing. And, since these figures were compiled in 2005, the number of self-employed professionals has increased as businesses everywhere have downsized and workers have given up their job search in favor of the solo route.

Now that you have some actual facts to work with, it should make striking out on your own a bit less stressful . . . because as the 1,200 freelancers in this report illustrate, freelancing just might be the new workforce norm.

What’s your take on this? Is freelancing the new norm? Knowing the info here, would you feel more comfortable striking out on your own? Let me know in the comments section below.

Until next time,
Yuwanda

Find this post informative? Please RT It and Follow Inkwell Editorial on Twitter.

coverP.S.: Get the ebook that pushed my freelance writing career to the next level – allowing me to travel and live abroad, get out of debt and really “live the freelance life.” One freelancer wrote:

Hi Yuwanda,

Just wanted to say thank you – as a result of the advice in your SEO writing e-book, I got my first order within 12 hours of sending out my first batch of 10 marketing emails.

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.

How to Make Money Online: A Simple Tutorial for New Internet Marketers

Wanna make money online? Don’t know anything about how to start? This information is for you….

Read more.

Lady GaGa and Me: What Freelance Writers Can Learn from Rock and Rollers

The following is a guest post by John Coutts.

My Connection with Lady Gaga

I know… The title implies I have some connection with Lady GaGa, the oft-times outrageous and popular singer. I don’t. I was just trying to make an obscure point.

Read more.

Ebook Returns: 16 Ways to Minimize Them and Sell More Ebooks Online

PREFACE

Every time I get an ebook return, I wonder what I could have done better to prevent it.

I think, “I was clear about the info included, why are they requesting a refund?” This feeling quickly subsides though because it doesn’t happen that often.

x-click-but22 Learn how to decrease your ebook returns for only $6.97. Get the special deal offered with this ebook. [See all Inkwell Editorial Titles that Help You Live the Freelance Life!]

ebook-refunds-cover-medEbook Returns: Who Can Benefit from This Information

Before we go any further I want to say, this ebook is not for every ebook writer, publisher and/or seller. While much of the information within will apply to many ebook writers, publishers and sellers, the material here is specifically for those who deal in the how-to, non-fiction genre.

With that being said, let’s start the discussion.

My Firm’s Ebook Return Rate

I’m lucky, less than 1% of those who purchase ebooks from InkwellEditorial.com (my company) request a refund. I’ve been selling ebooks online since 2004 and went back through almost three years of records (and yes, my eyes are bleary from looking at all those numbers).

I ran my return numbers from PayPal from January 1, 2009 through August 29, 2011 – just from my website, InkwellEditorial.com (not Amazon or Clickbank or Lulu – other places I sell ebooks).

I chose this time period because (i) it was the most recent as of this writing; and (ii) before then I wasn’t logging almost daily sales like I do now.

Following is what I found . . .

NUMBER OF TRANSACTIONS: 2569

ITEMS SOLD: 2990

I processed exactly 20 refunds out of over 2,500 transactions.

Ebook Returns: What I Gleaned from My Research on Ebook Returns

Roughly that anything less than this percent seems to be about the norm.

But again – this can’t be stressed enough – your ebook return rate depends a lot on some key factors.

With this researched info in mind, following are 16 things you can do to minimize ebook returns.

Following is the complete Table of Contents for this Ebook

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PREFACE, Page 5

Ebook Returns: Who Can Benefit from This Information, Page 5

My Firm’s Ebook Return Rate, Page 5

Ebook Returns: Some Industry Stats, Page

A Successful “Pro Blogger” Discusses His Ebook Return Rate, Page 6

WarriorForum Ebook Return Discussion, Page 6

The Clickbank Refund Rate, Page 6

$1,200 in 11 Days in Clickbank Sales, Page 7

Some Reasons for Higher-Than-Average Clickbank Ebook Return Rates, Page 8

Ebook Returns: What I Gleaned from My Research, Page 8

I. PROVIDE A COMPLETE TABLE OF CONTENTS, Page 9

Writing the Best Ebook You Can: Why a Table of Contents Is Critical, Page 9

II. CONTENT DELIVERY, Page 10

How to Write Content that Decreases Ebook Returns, Page 10

III. DON’T WRITE CRAP!, Page 11

IV. AUTO DELIVERY, Page 12

V. CUSTOMER SERVICE – HOW QUICKLY TO RESPOND TO CUSTOMERS, Page 13

My Experience with Ebook Returns: How Quickly to Respond to Buyers to Lessen the Chance That They’ll Request a Refund, Page 13

Message to Ebook Buyers that Helps Minimize Ebook Returns, Page 14

How to Make Contact Easy to Minimize Ebook Returns, Page 14

Why Many Who Request Ebook Refunds Really Don’t Want Their Money Back, Page 15

VI. ASK FOR FEEDBACK, Page 16

The 80/20 Rule of Marketing, Page 16

VII. CONDUCT KEYWORD RESEARCH TO PREVENT EBOOK RETURNS, Page 18

The Secret to Making Sure Your Ebook Will Sell Before You Write It, Page 19

VIII. WRITE AN AUTHOR BIO, Page 20

3 Things I Do in My Author Bio That Helps to Decrease Ebook Returns, Page 21

IX. DEVELOP A REFUND POLICY, Page 23

X. WRITE FROM EXPERIENCE, Page 24

3 Reasons Writing from First-Hand Experience Decreases Ebook Returns, Page 24

Ebook Writing Tip for New, Nonfiction Ebook Writers, Page 26

XI. SPELL OUT WHO EBOOK IS FOR, Page 27

XII. PRICE IT RIGHT, Page 28

3 Things to Consider When Pricing Your Ebook to Mitigate Returns, Page 28

XIII. START A BLOG/WEBSITE, Page 30

Decrease Ebook Returns: 4 Reasons Starting a Blog / Website Will Help Minimize Returns, Page 30

XIV. REMIND CUSTOMERS WHO THEY’RE ORDERING FROM, Page 33

XV. SIGN UP WITH PAYPAL, Page 34

Ebook Returns and PayPal: Insight for Ebook Writers, Publishers and Sellers, Page 34

When You Can and Can’t Get a Refund on Ebooks via PayPal, Page 34

4 Reasons NOT to Go the “We Accept PayPal Payments Only” Route, Page 35

I Don’t Understand the Whole PayPal Thing – How Can I Purchase with a Credit Card Using PayPal?, Page 35

Why Using PayPal Is a Safe Way to Shop Online, Page 35

A Couple of Commonly Asked Questions about PayPal, Page 35

Why Using PayPal Can Decrease Ebook Returns, Page 36

XVI: EBOOK SOFTWARE, Page 37

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Page 38

x-click-but22 Learn how to decrease your ebook returns for only $6.97. Get the special deal offered with this ebook. [See all Inkwell Editorial Titles that Help You Live the Freelance Life!]

Read more.

Freelance Writing Work: How to Bring in the Jobs Now That the Busy Fall Season Is Here

As pointed out in the last post, now that summer is unofficially over, the busy fall season is here. This means that ad spending is about to begin – for holiday campaigns, end of year clearance sales, New Year’s specials, etc.

What does this mean? More freelance writing work is on the horizon. Are you ready to market for it?

Here’s Help on How to Land More Freelance Writing  Gigs This Fall

If not, this is just a quick reminder that the fall marketing tutorial for freelance writers can help you focus your marketing efforts. It discusses how to negotiate your freelance writing rates, how to work more and earn less, how to market for higher-paying clients, how to create effective email queries – and more.

FYI, see links to more relevant posts below that can help you land more freelance writing jobs.

For U.S. readers, hope you enjoyed the Labor Day holiday weekend. To all Inkwell Editorial visitors, here’s to a profitable fall season.

Best,
Yuwanda

Find this post informative? Please RT It and Follow Inkwell Editorial on Twitter.

coverP.S.: Get the ebook that pushed my freelance writing career to the next level – allowing me to travel and live abroad, get out of debt and really “live the freelance life.” One freelancer wrote:

Hi Yuwanda,

Just wanted to say thank you – as a result of the advice in your SEO writing e-book, I got my first order within 12 hours of sending out my first batch of 10 marketing emails.

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.