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Archives for December 2011

SELLING EBOOKS ONLINE: How I Published 50 Ebooks on Amazon in One Year – And You Can Too!

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Writing and Selling Ebooks Online: Diary of My Quest to Publish 50 Ebooks on Amazon in One Year, Part XV

Note: This is the final entry in this series. See links to all entries in this ebook writing series at the end of this post. And, get the ebook, SELLING EBOOKS ONLINE: How I Published 50 Ebooks on Amazon in One Year – And You Can Too!

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Freelance Writing Goals for 2012: Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying – The Choice Is Yours

The one lesson I learned from setting such ambitious freelance writing goals this year – and saw in black and white in hard numbers — is that success comes in stages. And, it all starts with planning. The older I get, the more I realize just how precious time is and the more stock I put in the time-honored saying:…

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3 Ways I Increased My Freelance Writing Income This Year & How You Can Do the Same Next Year

Man, it’s been a hectic year! A good one, but hectic. With Christmas being just a couple of days away and the New Year just around the corner, I’m sitting here reflecting on everything that’s happened this year and what I want to happen next year….

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Freelance Writers: 2 Online Scams You Need to Be Aware of This Holiday Season

Boy I tell ya, times are tough and since it’s the holiday season, the scammers are out in full force – especially online. And, if you’re not careful, you can really fall for these because the thieves are getting more sophisticated.

If you’re a freelance writer – and/or are just someone who makes your living online, eg, internet marketing, affiliate marketing – you know how critical your computer/laptop is. If it gets infected with a virus, your work literally stops unless and/or until you can get it fixed.

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Editor Note: Inkwell Editorial Holiday Deals and Discounts: We’ve got some good ones, eg, 1/2 off!
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Of course, I’m a freelance writer who’s also into internet and affiliate marketing. Following are two scams that have happened to me within the last 24 hours. And, if I were not a seasoned online worker, it would have been so easy for me to fall prey to them, possibly costing me hundreds of dollars (not to mention hours upon hours of time).

Freelance Writers: Scam #1 NOT to Fall Prey to – The Microsoft Tech Department Phone Call Scam

Yesterday morning, I received a call from a guy saying my computer was infected. Had said he was calling from the Microsoft Tech department. He went on to say that Microsoftt had sent me an email “last week” which I’d probably ignored about this problem.

I said I don’t recall receiving an email and he said that’s why they were following up because I hadn’t  responded and that they were getting “messages” (I guess he meant pings or something) that my computer was infected and that  the virus needed to be removed.  The call was from 254-30-005-7990 (+254300057990).

I Googled it, and the 254 is the country code for Kenya, which set my “scam” hackles up because a lot of computer/internet/online scams originate from Kenya (and Russia).

Anyway, the tech guy told me that I needed to follow the steps he was going to give me to tell me how to remove the infection. More warning bells went off.

I work online, so know to NEVER, EVER let a complete stranger take over my computer (which is what they’re trying to do when they tell you to follow “their instructions”). I replied:

Since you obviously have my contact information (remember, they called me), send me the instructions via email, and if I have questions after reading them, I’ll get back to you.

He replied, “You probably won’t understand them, so it would be best if you follow my instructions while I’m on the phone with you.”

I said:

No, send me the instructions. I’ll read through them and if I have any questions, I’ll get in touch with you.

He said, “Ok” and hung up. I haven’t heard from him again. Of course, no email was sent with “instructions” on how to remove the bot/infection.

Bottom line — this is a scam. I got off the phone and Googled the number he called from. Nothing showed up (which is why I listed it here).

Learn more about this scam here: http://bit.ly/u2OWrM. I posted to this thread what happened to me to add one more voice to the “don’t fall for this scam” discussion.

How Online Scammers Get Your Contact Information

If you’re new to the online world, you may be wondering, “Then how did he get your phone number and know to ask for you by name (which he did).” I own an online business, so it’s easy to find my contact info. Also, I’ve had the same phone number for years. Furthermore, these scammers buy lists of contact info from companies that compile this stuff.

The bottom line is, if you’ve shopped online, surfed, have a blog, a Facebook acct, a Twitter account or do any type of online activity where you’ve had to enter info (this includes having a simple email address), it’s relatively easy for someone – especially online scammers — to get your contact information. Unfortunately, that’s the simple truth in today’s wired world. Simple information like your name, phone number and email address are  NOT private, no matter how much you’d like it to be.

So again, NEVER, EVER give anyone any information who contacts you FIRST — even if they use your name (whether it’s via phone or email). It’s easy to find this information online and IF YOU DIDN’T INITIATE THE CONTACT, then it’s 100% a scam. Your bank won’t call you and ask for personal info, the IRS won’t call/email you and ask for info — and neither will MICROSOFT.

Freelance Writers: Scam #2 NOT to Fall Prey to – The “Comcast Bot ‘Semi-Scam’”

The reason I call this is a semi-scam is that the notices purportedly come from a legitimate company (Comcast) about suspicious activity that “may” have infected your computer. The general consensus on messages boards seems to be that it comes from Comcast. However, others suggest it comes from hackers who are spoofing Comcast email addresses and sending mass emails to Comcast customers.

Following is how this semi-scam unfolded. You be the judge . . .

This morning, I logged onto my computer and as I was surfing, I get a message from “Comcast,” which is my internet/cable service provider. Mind you, the message came via a big banner across my screen with the Comcast logo and everything (see graphic below).

The message said something to the effect of your computer has been infected with a bot. It explained what a bot is, and instructed me to either: (i) Click to “Close” the screen; or (ii) “Go to the Antivirus Center.”

The image looks like the image just below (image courtesy of identitytheft.info). Note: Read this linked-to article. It explains more about this message and why you may continue to receive these kinds of notices. It should relieve your mind a lot about why you got this message in the first place.

comcast-virus-pop-up-big

My sister called the Comcast Tech Dept because she got the same message (she has the same provider as I do). The tech guy said if you got the message, then you have a bot and he told us to call a tech support number (1-855-805-3484). But, a virus scan of both our computers revealed no bot. And from the reading I did, what I gathered was that a bot “may” be on my computer because of a “suspicious website” that I “may” have visited recently.

Someone had written in on one of the message boards echoing this same experience, writing:

John12345678
New Visitor

Re: Bot Alert Email

11-10-2011 09:17 PM

Thank you for providing that phone number.  Ijust called and while the tech was extremely nice, the call did not provide much help.  I told the rep that I have an antivirus on all computers, which is updated daily and that I ran full virus scan and malware bytes scan.  He said that it was probably a suspicious website that was visited and to look out for suspicious emails.  He also asked if I had router security, which I do.  Basically he said that the email was to make sure I was “crossing on my i’s and dotting all my t’s”.  No further action required.  He did agree that the Comcast rep that told me it was a way of advertising their antivirus program was incorrect but went on to advise me of the comcast website where I could get free and paid product to enhance my security. 

Why I Label This a Scam (The Comcast Bot Email Scam)

In my opinion, Comcast needs to alert its customers about this if they know that their customers are receiving these types of messages (and they do know, because there’s a forum on their website devoted to this topic, ie: http://forums.comcast.com/t5/Security-and-Anti-Virus/Bot-Alert-Email/td-p/1092311).

Also, when you call Comcast’s Customer Service about this, they are quick to give out the number listed above (eg, 855-805-3484). I Googled this number and the first result that pops up leads you to this website: http://cgps.idvault.com/support/contactus.html.

comcast-bot-scam

And, guess what’s right there on this page (see graphic below)? Yep, Antivirus software, tech support, etc. – and Comcast. Learn more about this antivirus software/tech support (Constant Guard) here: http://security.comcast.net/constantguard/. You can also learn more about the supposed “bot” that “may” be on your computer.

comcast-bot-scam1

Here are links to a couple of forum discussions about the Comcast Bot infection: http://bit.ly/tfbed2 and http://bit.ly/w4BItK.  

Comast Bot Message: Scam or Real Computer Infection?

The bottom line is, if this message does indeed come Comcast (and I beleive it does becasue of the info in the IdentityTheft.info article above) — they they should be ashamed of themselves.

No legitimate company should be scaring their customers this way. If there is a real virus infection, give the customer more detail IN THE INITIAL EMAIL (which should not be via a big-ass pop-up that scares the bejeezus out of them). Also, tell them to call their Comcast Tech Dept via the number on their monthly Comcast bills. Also, tell them about the probability (or NOT) of there being a real virus infection to their computer / laptop.

Don’t just give a vague message and tell them to click one of two buttons below, especially with so little detail. My sister wouldn’t click on anything because she didn’t know if the message itself (the one that purported came from Comcast) contained a virus. I clicked on the “Close” link.

If a company uses these kinds of scare tactics on their customers (which is highly unethical and borders on illegal in my opinion), I wouldn’t trust their antivirus software anyway. If I wasn’t as experienced as I am working online, stuff like this would make me crap my pants. How many people have ponied up for this antivirus software or signed up for tech support when they didn’t even need it?

I mean, if a company will stoop this low to market this way, how good can their services be? I’ve used Comcast for years – and am highly disappointed as a customer if they indeed are behind this.

Related Reading: AssociatedContent and PayPal Scams: How to Keep Your Online Earnings Safe 100% of the Time.

Hope this helps. Be safe online this holiday season.

Do you have an online scam story? Have any advice you can share to help “newbie” freelance writers/internet marketers/freelancers in general stay safe online? Please share in the comments section below. We all have to work together to help keep eachother safe online.

On a More Personal Note . . .

I’m back home in Atlanta safe and sound. Did another half marathon this past Sunday. It was a small one (only about 60 participants) and a little disorganized as far as course markings, start/stop points, number of loops to make, etc . Hence, I wound up running an extra lap (which meant an extra 2.31 miles). So I ran 15.4 miles instead of 13.1. As the race wasn’t officially timed, I was DSC02091ok with that (guestimated time was 2:36). And as it’s the holiday season, I figured every extra mile I put in wouldn’t go to waste (I’m baking cookies and a cake this weekend – can we say waist expansion?!).

Since I’ve been back I also got my holiday decorating done, last client project of the year finished, and now the race is on to finish my 50 ebooks by year’s end. Will give one final update either this Friday or next – depending on how the schedule for writing is shaking out.

I hope that however you spend this Christmas that you are happy, healthy and are looking forward to the New Year. I know I am. I absolutely adore this time of year and run around all season long as happy as a two-year-old on Christmas Eve.

Now be good so Santa will leave something under the tree for you, ok?

Yuwanda

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coverP.S.: Get the freelance writing opportunity that allowed me to be financially secure enough to travel, live abroad, get out of debt and really “live the freelance life!”

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.

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Where Are the Opportunities in Freelance Writing for 2012? Here’s an Obvious, Easy Gig to Go After

Wanna know what I did this past weekend? I worked. I hadn’t touched a client project since July, but this month, my SEO writing company received two assignments for a total of 30 pages – to rewrite content (to make it unique) — for a company that provides home repair services in multiple locations. I pitched in because the client wanted a quick turnaround due to the upcoming holiday.

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Editor Note: Inkwell Editorial Holiday Deals and Discounts: We’ve got some good ones, eg, 1/2 off!
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Remember when we discussed why the Google Panda Update would mean more work for freelance writers, especially SEO writers, back in the early spring? We even touched on this in last week’s post on SeoWritingJobs.com when a new search engine optimization writer wrote in wanting to know what to charge for Web Copy SEO re-writes, among a host of other things – all because a potential client had asked her about it.

opportunities-in-freelance-writing-2012So I’m giving you a heads up – pitch clients on rewriting / repurposing content in 2012. It’s where a lot of opportunities in freelance writing are going to come from, in my opinion.

How to Pitch Clients to Land Freelance Writing Jobs That Involve Rewriting / Repurposing Content

I’m a big believer in educating clients first. Why? This gets them to invest in the process. And as I’ve said in a number of posts, if you’re the freelance writer who gets them invested in the process, who do you think they’re going to contact when they’re ready to have the job done?

Why you, of course!

One of the best ways to educate clients is to write and distribute special reports, like the one New Media Words produced on how to repurpose content to drive more traffic (which yields more sales and leads). It’s already on my calendar to do one at the beginning of the year talking about all of the search engine changes (ie, Google) that have come down the pike in the last year – focusing on the parts that have to do with content.

Search Engine Updates Mean More Writing Jobs for Freelancers

There’s been more than the infamous Panda Update. Google has stated that it does hundreds of updates a year. Only a few get the attention that Panda did. Some of the others you may not have heard of are:

Google Panda 2.5 Update: In spite of my research, I couldn’t figure out what exactly this update had to do with, other than it was more “minor updates” to Google Panda. {Disclaimer: I was sitting in a bar in Jamaica enjoying my last few days on the island before flying home for the holidays drinking rum and coke as I was writing this post, so wasn’t exactly CLEARLY focusing on what the heck I was looking for.}

Google’s “May Day” Update: This one “changed the way Google indexes so-called ‘long-tail’ queries, in which a user enters multiple keywords for a search;” and

Google’s “Caffeine” Update: This algorithm change, in November of this year, was all about building “on top of its [Google’s] previous “Caffeine” update in order to deliver more up-to-date and relevant search results, specifically those in areas where freshness matters. This includes things like recent events, hot topics, current reviews and breaking news items.”

So Why Do All of These Search Engine Changes Lead to More Work for Freelance Writers?

One of the running threads I hope you’re picking up on in all of these updates is that some sites lose and some sites win – as far as site traffic is concerned.

So what it boils down to is a win-win for freelance writers because if a site gains more traffic, then they strive to do more of what they’re doing to maintain their position. As for the losers, they need to recover. This means rewriting content, adding content, expanding content, etc.

How to Land Freelance Writing Jobs in 2012

So to land freelance writing jobs going into the New Year, one thing I’d advise is to put together a special report outlining a few search engine algorithm changes – as they relate to content marketing and development – and send it to prospects.

It doesn’t have to be long – 2-5 pages is sufficient. Post it on your freelance writing website as a free download (pdf), and email it to prospects in an email marketing campaign.

Opportunities in Freelance Writing Don’t Just Land in Your Lap: Be Proactive to Land Freelance Writing Jobs

It’s your job as a freelance writer to illustrate to clients the value you can bring to their business. Many of them are way too busy to even know about stuff like this. But, if you bring it to their attention in a well-written report, it can land you work for months – and possibly years – to come.

Note: I’m travelling this week, so will be hard to reach – unless you’re a student in one of Inkwell’s freelance writing ecourses (SEO copywriting ecourse; general freelance writing ecourse).

Hope you’re enjoying the holiday season. I’ve been too busy with training for marathons (finished the Reggae Marathon (half) in Jamaica on the 3rd of this month and have another one this Sunday, the 18th, in Atlanta); writing ebooks; and; this month – client projects – to fully take note. But, when I get back to the states tomorrow, my holiday will officially start.

Yes!

Until next week,
Yuwanda

Find this post informative? Please RT It and Follow Inkwell Editorial on Twitter.
coverP.S.: Get the freelance writing opportunity that allowed me to be financially secure enough to travel, live abroad, get out of debt and really “live the freelance life!”

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.

One Good Reason NOT to Raise Your Freelance Writing Rates – and It Has Nothing to Do with Losing Clients

With the New Year approaching, as a freelancer you may be thinking about some changes you want to make in your business. One that usually tops the list is raising freelance writing rates. And, this is great. It’s an excellent time of year to assess where your freelance business is going. Or better yet, where you want it to go. …

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Writing and Selling Ebooks Online: Diary of My Quest to Publish 50 Ebooks on Amazon in One Year, Part XIV

Since the last update in this ebook writing series, I’ve uploaded 6 more titles, for a total of 41 ebooks on Amazon. Remember, one is under an alias, so you won’t be able to find that one under my name. Note: See all posts to date in this ebook writing series….

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