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Archives for March 2012

Freelance Writers: How to Earn $500 to $1,000 Per Month Extra by Building a Blog

In one of last week’s post, we discussed how building a blog is becoming necessary (in my opinion) for freelance writers who want to push their earnings to the next level. …

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How Can I Start Freelance Writing?

How can I get involved in freelance writing?
How do I become a freelance writer?
What is the best way to get into freelance writing?
How do I get into freelance writing? …

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Why Building a Blog Has Become Necessary for Freelance Writers Who Want to Earn More

In the past, I advised freelance writers not to worry so much about building a blog when they first started out. My advice then was to focus on more direct forms of marketing (eg, email marketing, …

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Barnes and Noble PubIt: 3 Tips on How to Self-Publish an Ebook Using This Platform

This week, I started working on one of my freelance writing goals for this year; the one about uploading all of Inkwell Editorial’s titles to Barnes and Noble. Immediately I noticed some major differences, the main one being that self-publishing nook ebooks is a lot easier than it is publishing ebooks on Amazon (for Kindle).

Following are three things that immediately stood out to me.

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The Barnes and Noble PubIt Platform: It’s Never Been Easier to Self-Publish an Ebook and Sell to a Worldwide Audience!

I. Formatting in Word: With Barnes and Noble’s PubIt platform, it’s so easy to format an ebook when you upload it in Word. The only two things I had to do was:

(i) Change page breaks: Instead of clicking “Page” under the command “Page Break” when I wanted to start a new page, I had to use the command “Next Page” under “Section Breaks”.

When self-publishing Barnes and Noble ebooks, if you use click “Page” under the command “Page Break”, it will ignore it and all your pages will run together.

(ii) Spacing: I had to fix spacing, which was really easy to do. To keep paragraphs from running together, I selected all of my text, then I right clicked and selected “Paragraph”. Under the “Spacing” section, I put “0” in the “Before” and “After” boxes and “Single” under the “Line Spacing” section (see graphic just below).

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Once you do this, some of your text is likely to run together because your spacing was probably off in certain places throughout the document. So, I manually went back through the Word document and put a double space between each paragraph (triple space between bold headings, which is my preferred format), so that all paragraphs had the correct spacing between them.

This was it for the internal formatting.

Ebook Covers: The cover requirements are larger than Amazon’s when you self-publish ebooks using Barnes and Noble PubIt. These are their guidelines; the site says, “Please make sure that your cover image is a JPG file between 5KB and 2MB. The sides must be between 750 pixels and 2000 pixels in length.”

So, I had to stretch mine. As I create my own ebook covers, this was very easy to do. All I did was log into the program I use to design mine and change the cover dimensions. It took less than one minute.

Headers and Footers: I deleted all headers and footers. I noticed that if you leave them in, the Barnes and Noble PubIt program won’t recognize them anyway. But, in order to keep my file as “clean” as possible when self-publishing my ebooks on Barnes and Noble, I deleted them anyway. It made it easier to go through and make the spacing changes mentioned above.

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CONCLUSION: SELF-PUBLISHING AN EBOOK ON USING THE BARNES AND NOBLE PUBIT PLATFORM

It couldn’t have been easier – sooooo much more so than Amazon. Most of my ebooks are in the 40 to 60 page range. Once I got the hang of it, it took me about half an hour to upload one, which includes the reformatting I have to do.

Bonus Ebook Publishing Tip: Have a file prepared that includes your keywords, ebook description and “About the Author” profile prepared beforehand. This will make it go faster.

The One Thing I Don’t Like About the Barnes and Noble PubIt Program: Choosing categories to put your ebook in is is not that easy. In my opinion, they need to be simplified. There are a lot of them; you get to select up to 5. This is a minor inconvenience though.

Overall, the Barnes and Noble PubIt program makes self-publishing ebooks (nook books) a breeze!

Have a great weekend,
Yuwanda
coverP.S.: Want to write and sell ebooks online for a living? You can! Get the guide that shows you how to start a successful self-publishing career — start immediately.

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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Freelance Writing Advice: Conditions Under Which You Should – and Should Not – Sign a Non-Compete Agreement

As a freelance writer, you’ll have clients who will request the strangest things sometimes. I’ve never had the problem outlined in this freelancer’s email (at least not directly). In essence, this client wanted this freelance writer to agree not to work for anyone in his “industry” except for him.

If you’re scratching your head going wondering, “What’s so wrong with that?” Well, a couple of things:

What You Give Up When You Agree NOT to Work for a Client’s Competitors

(i) It kinda defeats the purpose of freelancing; after all, you freelance so that you CAN take on any client you choose; and

(ii) It kinda makes you an “employee” of this one client.

Signing non-complete clauses and non-disclosure agreements is ok. But in my opinion, this client request was over the top. Before I explain why, let’s take a look at the exact email this freelancer sent to me, and then I’ll respond.

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Question from a Fellow Freelance Writer about Non-Compete Agreements

Hello Yuwanda!
 
I hope this message finds you well.
 
I had a question I wanted to run by you. Perhaps it’s a question other writers have as well and could be useful as a blog post on your site.
 
I recently asked for a testimonial from a client. He asked that in exchange for the testimonial I agree not to conduct any work in his industry except for him.
 
I didn’t think that was reasonable, and said I could not agree to that.
 
I have however completed contract work in the past for organizations and signed contracts with them where the agreement was that while I worked for them, I do not conduct similar work for other organizations. As a freelancer though, this does not seem reasonable to me.
 
Have you had a similar experience? What are your thoughts on the matter? Thank you very much.
 
-R 🙂

My Answer

I addressed this in a previous post which partially covered non-disclosure agreements (a close cousin of non-compete agreements), writing:

You are under no obligation to tell prospective clients who your current clients are, unless it’s covered in your NDA. And even then, you don’t have to give specific names.

For example, your NDA might say, you can’t work with our leading competitor in such and such industry. It may even spell out specific companies. THEN, of course it’s okay to divulge. Or if you don’t want to give specific company names, you can simply decline to work with that client.

I have never divulged the names of companies I work with. I simply tell prospective clients about the types of companies I work with, eg, internet marketing firms, real estate companies, computer services firms, etc. And I tell them the types of content I provide, eg, SEO copy for their websites, for article marketing campaigns, for industry blogs, etc.

This is more than sufficient.

This freelancer is right; this client’s request was unreasonable in my opinion.

I sign non-compete agreements if a client says, “Our main competitor(s) is X, Y and Z firm. If we use you, you have to agree not to work for these PARTICULAR firms.”

Then, it’s up to you to decide if you want to do that.

Conditions Under Which I’d Sign a Non-Compete Agreement as a Freelance Wrier

Personally, I’d never agree NOT to take ANY clients within a certain industry, unless:

(i) The potential client paid me a non-refundable retainer: The reason is, you never know what lucrative writing gigs could come your way.

If you’ve agreed NOT to take on work from any other firm in a particular niche, especially if it’s a writing specialty of yours, then you could be losing out on a lot of work. A non-refundable retainer would help to make this more palatable — and it would show me that they’re serious because they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is . . . like . . . right now.

And/or;

(ii) The client would have to guarantee me a certain dollar amount of work during the time I was under the non-compete. The reason is, if a client wants to retain my services exclusively, then I need to know that it will be worth my time over the long haul.

Conclusion: Should You Sign a Non-Compete Agreement or Not?

As a freelance writer, it’s up to you to decide. The advice I gave here discloses how I’d handle it.

As an aside, in all my years of freelancing, I’ve only been asked to sign non-compete clauses in a handful of cases. And when I did, there was never a situation that came up where they had to be “enforced,” (ie, I had to turn down work because I did indeed sign one).

I hope this insight helps if you’re ever asked to sign a non-compete clause.

Best,
Yuwanda
P.S.: Get the Freelance Writing Contract & Confidentiality Agreement All Rolled Into One!

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coverP.P.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!”

FYI, 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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How to Write an Ebook: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Self-Publishing

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about self-publishing / how to write an ebook. If you’re a freelance writer, this is an ideal way to add another income stream to your business; a quite enjoyable one I might add. So, here’s yet another Q&A on this subject. …

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Freelance Writing Rates: 3 Instances Where You Should Definitely Charge More

Even if you have set rates as a freelance writer, there are going to be times where you think, “Man, I should be charging more.” While you may have to suffer through charging your going rate the first time with the following types of clients, if you work with them again, you might want to charge more if there’s a second time.

I was reading a post by Jennifer over at CatalystBlogger.com on freelance writing rates, which gave me the idea for today’s topic. I wanted to tell you some real-life stories because if you haven’t had your turn yet with the following types of clients, if you freelance long enough, trust me, your time will come.

I. Working with Difficult Clients: Let me start by saying, the vast majority of clients are very easy to work with. But every once in a while, you’ll run across those who make you want to run back to a 9 to 5.

I had one of these last spring. It was a rewrite of a marketing brochure that my firm was working on with another writer. We had – at least — four phone consultations and numerous back-and-forth email discussions before we ever started the project. We began work and sent them an initial outline of what was going to be included, which they approved.

Then, after we submitted the first draft, they completely changed the parameters – I mean, these weren’t tweaks; it was as if the initial outline was for a totally different project.

freelance-writing-rates-frustrationWhen we went point by point showing them that what they wanted was nowhere in our initial discussions (we saved email correspondence) and nowhere in the outline for the first draft, they still insisted on the changes. We told them we’d be glad to give them what they wanted, as soon as the remainder of the payment for the initially agreed upon project was forwarded.

They balked.

It’s a good thing we received half of the project fee up front because we quit.

I think the lead guy in the group was on drugs or had a split personality because he would call and just ramble on and on about what they wanted – this was AFTER we had settled on the parameters of the project and had started working. And, he’d also talk about stuff that had nothing to do with the project. Way weird! I literally had to cut him short several times.

About Freelance Writing Clients: One Clue to Spotting Difficult Ones

The red flag we should have heeded is that they had tried several other writers who weren’t able to give them “exactly what they wanted.” The only reason we took the project is because, during our initial conversations, they seemed so amenable to our ideas and they approved the initial outline. Also, both of us came from a real estate background (this was a new software for a real estate company that they wanted to roll out), so we understood their industry.

Our thinking was, maybe the other writers didn’t have the right background. As we understand what they wanted and had some great ideas on how to present it, we felt the project would be a breeze.

Boy, were we mistaken!

This definitely warranted more than we charged. Looking back though, no amount of money in the world would have been enough to continue working with them.

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II. Working with Clients Who Don’t Know What They Want: A good illustration of this is what I call “the saga of the $25 press release client.”

When a client isn’t knowledgeable about a service they may want, you have to spend time educating them on what it is and how it differs from other services; then, possibly even justify your rates for that service.

There tends to be a lot of back and forth with clients like this. And, you might not even land the project. This is why some freelance writers charge for consultations. As I wrote in this linked-to post:

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

I’m not big on charging for consultations; but I mitigate this by not spending so much upfront time with potential clients. Sure, I help them clarify what they want, but they must have a very good idea coming in; my job is to fine tune their ideas within the parameters of the services my firm provides.

This is a good example of a time when a consultation fee might be in order.

Remember this: As a freelance writer, time is your most valuable commodity. Don’t let anyone waste it; not even potential clients.

III. When a Client Wants More than Writing Services: Sometimes clients want you to do more than write. They may want you to, for example, do keyword research for them; upload content to their websites; and/or put in the HTML coding.

I had one client who wrote a weekly blog on dating. My firm not only wrote the blog posts for him, we also uploaded it to their blog using their CMS. Note: FYI, for those who don’t know, CMS is the acronym for content management system (eg, WordPress). We did it, but charged an extra fee for doing so.

How to Determine When to Increase Your Freelance Writing Rates

The bottom line for me is time. If a client wants something over and beyond the outlined services my firm provides, they’re charged extra. Now if it’s something like putting a link to a home page somewhere in the article, no, we won’t charge for that.

But if a client requests that we write a unique resource box for each article, then of course, we charge for that.

A freelance writer in the comments section of Jennifer’s post gave a great rule of thumb she uses to judge when to increase her freelance writing rates. She wrote:

I charge more than that [$100] per hour anyway, but only because the clients and market have shown it to be the going rate (three clients paying it makes it okay for me to charge it!).

I’d never thought of this, but think it’s an excellent idea.

When do you raise your freelance writer rates / and/or wished you had? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Hope you’re having a good week so far.

Yuwanda
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P.S.: Take the guessing game out of setting your freelance writing rates once and for all.  This simple straightforward guide gives you several pricing models that will help you set — and get — the rate you deserve.

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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