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Archives for April 2012

Want to Sell Your Freelance Business? Here’s Some Insight into How to Do It and What You Should Be Doing NOW to Get the Most Money For It

What prompted this post was a question I received from a fellow freelance writer recently. She wrote:

One of my colleagues who has a very similar business as me [freelance writing, SEO writing, social media marketing and consulting], just got an offer from someone to buy his business. While, I don’t want to sell my business right now, that may be an option in about 3-5 years. …

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5 Essential iPad Accessories for Freelance Writers that Make Writing Easier

The following is a guest post by Jessie Fitzgerald. But first, a word from me . . .

EDITOR NOTE: On Freelancing and the Importance of Technology

When I ran my editorial staffing agency in New York, the temps that many employers wanted to turn into full-time employees the most were what I call diehard freelancers. I called them this because the vast majority of them wouldn’t trade freelancing for a full-time job for anything.

One of the reasons freelance writers are so desired by many companies is that their skill set is so broad.

What does this have to do with the title of this post?

You see, to be successful as a freelance writer, you must constantly stay abreast of current technology. The most successful freelance writers take the bull by the horns and learn marketable skills that many full-time employees may never pick up, unless their company paid for their training.

Today’s technology is changing faster than ever. And, one of the most exciting to come down the pike in a while is Apple’s iPad. It’s revolutionized how some freelance writers choose to work. Today, freelancer Jessie Fitzgerald gives some valuable insight into how to how to make writing on the iPad easier.

Why the iPad is the Perfect Technology for Freelance Writers

The iPad is ideal for freelance writers because, as Jessie’s post points out, it allows freelance writers to “get work done on the go without the bulk of a laptop or the awkwardness of a netbook.” It’s the ultimate in mobile computing technology.

Enjoy Jessie’s keen insights, and please share your iPad tips in the comments section at the bottom of the post.

FREELANCE WRITERS: USE THESE iPAD ACCESSORIES TO MAKE WRITING EASIER — AND EARN MORE

ipad-tips-for-freelance-writersThe iPad is ahead of its class in mobile computing and convenience. Freelance writers can use an iPad occasionally to get work done on the go without the bulk of a laptop or the awkwardness of a netbook. Whether you’re technically inclined, or not, if you have an iPad or you’re considering purchasing one, you’ll want to acquire certain accessories to make writing on the iPad easier.

Essential iPad Accessory for Freelance Writers #1: Bluetooth Keyboard

The touch keyboard on the iPad can be enough. I know that I’ve written hundreds of articles and a handful of e-books on my iPad (which I use as my primary production machine) with just the touch keyboard.

Yet, if you want to improve your efficiency, you’ll need a Bluetooth keyboard. Just because you can use the touch keyboard doesn’t mean that you should. My typing speed was halved, on a good day, using the touch keyboard, so I knew that I needed to get myself an external one.

Half the speed equals half the profit for an hourly freelancer! And if you write your own e-books and blogs, then you’re taking twice as much time to get out the content that should be earning for you.

If you experience similar results in your typing speed with the iPad, then a Bluetooth keyboard is an essential iPad accessory. There are several on the market and you can find one for around $70 to $100 where I live in Hawaii (so they may be cheaper, as many things are, on the mainland).

Essential iPad Accessory for Freelance Writers #2: Stand

If you want to be able to use your keyboard or just your iPad at an angle for long periods of time that doesn’t try at breaking your neck, a stand is a good investment.

I often use my iPad over my head when I’m lying down nursing my daughter, so that weird angle is unavoidable…but when I’m using it otherwise, I definitely benefit from a stand that keeps the iPad at a good viewing and usage angle in front of me.

Stands are often incorporated into other accessories (I have a keyboard/case/stand combo I paid $100 for) but otherwise expect to pay $20 to $50 for a stand.

Essential iPad Accessory for Freelance Writers #3: Case

I considered topping the list with an iPad case, as this is such an essential accessory, but what could be more important than a keyboard to writers?

Still, a case is equally essential because the $400 to $600 you shell out for an iPad kind of promotes the use of a case. Seeing the sleek aluminum body scratched and marred tends to irk anyone.

Plus, a case protects from excessive dirt and dust build-up that are inevitable with an exposed device.

Expect to spend $50 or so on a case for your iPad, and around $75 to $100 if it also serves as a stand.

Essential iPad Accessory for Freelance Writers #4: Screen Protector

A touch device like the iPad looks simply disgusting after only light use without a screen protector. When I upgraded to the third generation iPad, I was so glad to get a screen protector on it right away. My iPad 2 looked simply disgusting with the thousands of oily fingerprints all over its screen. Not to mention how gross it was in certain lights actually covering parts of the screen.

I wiped the screen with an electronics cloth everyday but it wasn’t enough. A screen protector helps not only with damage, but keeping your iPad’s touch screen from getting less responsive with your body’s oils all over it constantly.

The best screen protectors cost about $30 to $40 per package, where you will get one to three screen protectors.

Essential iPad Accessory for Freelance Writers #5: Stylus

If you are going to do any handwriting on the iPad, you’ll want to invest the $10 to $50 or so to get a stylus. A stylus is a digital pen that can make handwriting on a tablet smooth as writing on paper.

Even if you aren’t doing any handwriting, having a stylus can also help with fingertip fatigue. Yes, as someone who uses their iPad as their full-time productivity machine, I can tell you that your fingertips actually get tired from all the touchscreen usage (especially if you don’t have essential number one, a Bluetooth keyboard).

Where to Buy iPad Accessories

If you shop online, you’ve got a plethora of resources available. However, those looking to go into a retailer to buy iPad accessories can find them at large stores like Target, as well as Best Buy. I personally purchased my iPad and iPad accessories at Best Buy so that I could see, in front of me, all of the options available.

About the Author: Jessie Fitzgerald is a long-time freelance writer who writes extensively about how to use the iPad. She blogs and publishes e-books about it, in addition to writing for app developers. Her newly launched blog, FreelanceWriterPad.com, helps freelance writers learn how to effectively use the iPad to earn (more) money.

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Writing an Ebook: The Thing That’s Hurt Me the Most by Publishing Under a Pen Name

If you’re a regular reader of the content on this site, you know that I’m a prolific ebook writer and self-publisher. I’ve been writing and selling ebooks online since 2004 and have penned over 50 to date. Of these titles, only one has been written using a pen name.  

So if you’re wondering, “Should I use a pen name when writing ebooks,” following are some drawbacks I’ve run into.

3 Drawbacks to Writing Ebooks Using a Pen Name

1. Ebook Marketing: You can’t use the same online promotional channels (eg, PRLog.com, EzineArticles.com)  without creating a new identity;

writing-an-ebook-under-a-pen-name2. Hurts Website Sales: If you write an ebook and publish it under a pen name, you won’t be able to list it on your site’s e-store without possibly outing yourself;

3. Create Separate Identity: In order to maintain your anonymity, you will most likely have to create a separate online identity for things like registering domain names, receiving payments via PayPal and using article marketing and free press release sites (as mentioned above).

Writing an Ebook: The One Big Regret I Have about Publishing Under a Pen Name

Without a doubt, it’s the lost sales by not being able to effectively market the title. As I wrote in the post, Selling Ebooks Online: 5 Things New Self-Publishers Should Know That Will Help Sell More Ebooks:

That little un-planned sucker [relationship ebook I published last summer] accounts for 25-30% of my Amazon sales each month! I can’t believe it. I only sell it on Amazon because it’s written under a pseudonym and I can’t sell it from my site in the pdf version (which kinda pisses me off at myself to be honest).

This limits the amount of marketing I do for this ebook, but one thing I have done is set up a separate Twitter account for it and I plan to build a blog for it.

FYI, I go into more detail about all of the above in the article, Writing an Ebook Using a Pen Name: 3 Drawbacks to Consider (which you can reprint/republish on/in your site/blog/newsletter by the way).

Share Your Thoughts: Have you written an ebook using a pen name? Has it hurt/helped your ebook sales? Has/does it affect your ebook marketing ability?

Best,
Yuwanda

ebook-publishing-pack

P.S.: Get 4 Ebooks for One Low Price — The Ultimate Self-Publishing Package! Purchase these titles separately and you’d spend: $43.84. Get all four of these ebooks on self-publishing for just $28.95 – an almost $15 savings!

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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How to Start Making Money Online — No Matter What Type of Biz You Want to Start (An In-Depth Tutorial for Newbies)

Editor Note: I publish three newsletters; two cover freelance writing and one covers internet marketing for newbies. From time to time, the info that needs to be shared applies to all three niches. …

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Freelancing and Taxes: 5 Things I Learned When I Filed Taxes This Year That Can Help YOU Earn More Next Year

Usually, like most, I hate filing taxes. But, this year was different. Why? Because I learned a few things. Following is what they are and how they can help you earn more next year if you freelance (or want to start freelancing).

1. I Made More Money: Last year, I made more money than I thought. I track my earnings daily (I have a chart that I update regularly so that I can always have a snapshot in front of me of what my earnings look like).

So, even though I had a very good idea of what I earned, it was enlightening seeing the final number in front of me.

How this can help you earn more: Tracking what you’re making on a regular basis – eg, daily, weekly, monthly – keeps you motivated to do those daily “boring, staid” tasks, like marketing, that bring in the dough.

Usually, I can look back at my earnings and see a direct correlation between my earnings and something I have/haven’t done. For example, I’m an avid article marketer and newsletter publisher. If my earnings are off by a few hundred dollars in one week, usually it can be tracked to missing a week or two of writing and distributing new content.

See what I mean?

freelancing-and-taxes

2. My Income Streams are Diversified: I have three primary income streams. They are selling ebooks, affiliate marketing and freelance writing projects from clients. All three of them are just about where I want them to be, ie, ebook sales account for more than half my earnings, affiliate marketing brings in the second most money and freelance writing projects (that I directly touch) fills the third slot.

Other income streams include freelance / SEO writing e-classes and Google minisite income.

I made a plan to diversify my income streams back in late 2009/early 2010; specifically, I wanted to transition into a primarily managerial role at my SEO writing company and focus more on writing and selling ebooks online. This paid off.

Seeing the earnings from each stream motivates me to make a plan to increase earnings.

How this can help you earn more: Ask yourself where you want to be in a year, two year, three years, etc. as a freelancer. Then, make a plan to get there – and stick to it. While it’s not going to be easy, it’s satisfying at the end of the year (or at tax time) to look at your income and see that you made progress toward your goal(s).

3. A Tough Economy Is Good for a Freelance Business: The worldwide economy hasn’t been in great shape for a few years now; it’s been particularly bad in the U.S. with unemployment fluctuating between 8% and 10%, which is considered high. And,  some regional economies have experienced unemployment higher than 10%, ie:

Nevada continued to record the highest unemployment rate among the states, 12.3 percent in February. Rhode Island and California posted the next highest rates, 11.0 and 10.9 percent, respectively. [Source: U.S. Department of Labor]

But, my earnings were significantly higher last year than the year before. This shows that a freelance business can thrive in almost any economy.

How this can help you earn more: There is no perfect time to quit your job to start a freelance business. The “perfect time” is when you’re ready to take the plunge. So, prepare – and then get started.

4. Organization Is Key: It took me forever this year to comb through the financial data of my freelance business and organize it. While I took joy in the fact that it showed me that my business is growing, it also means that old systems have to be replaced with new ones – particularly when it comes to getting financially organized.

One freelancer who read a recent freelancing and taxes post here (see comments section) suggested using Outright, which I’m going to look into.

How this can help you earn more: Don’t be afraid to make change in your freelance business. Growth requires it, so don’t hold yourself back by holding onto old systems that no longer work. I’m soooo guilty of this, but am quickly learning that it pays (literally!) to be less rigid in this area.

5. I “Gladly” Paid More in Taxes: I earned more last year, so I paid more in taxes. While I’m never happy about writing Uncle Sam a big ole fat check (I almost always owe), this year I didn’t mind so much. It was the second biggest check I’d ever had to write to pay taxes, but it underscored the fact that I had made more money.

How this can help you earn more: The way I plan for taxes is to set aside a certain amount from each payment I receive – whether it’s from ebook sales, or a client project, or affiliate commissions.

I have an account I set up just for taxes, and I deposit a certain amount of all earnings into this account weekly. This way, I never have to worry about having enough set aside to pay taxes. Part of the reason I wasn’t peeved about owing more is that I had the money.

I’ve been caught with my “tax bloomers” down before, and let me tell you, it ain’t pretty! One year I screwed up and owed more than $17K in taxes. It took me a few years to pay this off, which taught me a huge lesson. You never want to owe Uncle Sam – ever!

As always, here’s hoping these insights help you in your freelance business.

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.

PayPal Tax Tips for Freelance Writers . . . Also, How to File an Extension (for Free) and More “Taxing” Info for Freelancers

If you’re wondering, “Do freelancers pay taxes,” the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” And, today’s the tax filing deadline.

I started doing my taxes yesterday and foolishly thought I’d be able to finish them by devoting a whole day to it. Not! I started late (which is another story), but once I did get started, I spent most of the day categorizing payments/refunds/fees from my PayPal account. That’s what inspired this “PayPal Tax Tips” for freelance writers post.

In case you don’t know, this is the first year that PayPal will report your earnings to the IRS. PayPal explains how/why on their site, stating:

Starting in 2011, Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 6050W states that all US payment processors, including PayPal, are required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to provide information to the IRS about certain customers who receive payments for the sale of goods or services through PayPal. These new rules apply to sellers who receive over $20,000 in gross payment volume AND over 200 separate payments in a calendar year.

Learn more about PayPal tax requirements.

FYI, you should have been reporting your PayPal earnings all along (you were, weren’t you?). It’s just that now, if you don’t, good ole Uncle Sam has a way to track it.

As I was going through my PayPal account printout yesterday, following are a few things I wanted to share that will make filing taxes easier for freelance writers. 

PayPal Tax Tip #1 for Freelance Writers: Download Monthly Statements

PayPal generates monthly statements for you (see graphic below for where to click to get your PayPal statements). But they are only available for the latest three months. So, be sure to download them every month (or every three months) so that you can have them at your fingertips when it ‘s time to file.

Tax Tips for Freelancers Who Have PayPal Accounts

I had to go back and manually print out my PayPal account activity for last year and it took for friggin’ ever because a lot goes on in my PayPal account on any given day, as the following graphic illustrates.

Tax Tips for Freelancers Who Have PayPal Accounts1

PayPal Tax Tip #2 for Freelance Writers: Itemize Statements Monthly (or at Least Quarterly)

What I mean by this is, when you print out your monthly statements – whether you do it monthly or quarterly – go through them and itemize your expenses/payments. Calculate them and put them in a spreadsheet (eg, web expenses, PayPal fees, payments to affiliates, payments from clients, refunds, sales, etc.).

This way, you’re not stuck doing it for the whole year at the end of the year like I did yesterday. Boy, what a pain that was. It’s easy, it’s just painstaking and it takes so much time (and you’re more prone to make errors) when you do it at the last minute. This is why I spread my taxes out over two days this year (yesterday/today) instead of trying to finish them in one day.

I could have finished, but I didn’t want to risk mistakes, so I just did the organizing yesterday and the actual entering of the data today. I use TurboTax, which makes doing taxes yourself really easy (and cheap!).

FYI, I have no affiliation with TurboTax; I’m just a happy user.

Tax Organization Tip: Freelance writing expenses tend to be pretty fixed, eg, web hosting fees, PayPal fees, bank fees, online marketing fees, etc. So, create a spreadsheet and fill in these expenses regularly when you download your monthly PayPal report.

This way, you can just plug them into the appropriate categories on your tax form when the time comes.

PayPal Tax Tip #3: Don’t Forget “Other Than PayPal” Income and Expenses

Eighty to ninety percent of my annual income and expenses can be tracked via my PayPal account. As of this writing, 100% of my clients pay via PayPal and most of my expenses come out of this account as well.

But, some of my ebook and internet marketing income and expenses are deducted from a checking account I use for my business, eg, Clickbank payments, Amazon ebook sales, Google minisite income. So, don’t forget to download and itemize income and expenses that come from other accounts as well.

While it’s unlikely you’ll forget the biggies, if you only made a few sales via Clickbank for example and that went to a checking account, then you could easily forget to add this into your annual income figures.

You don’t want to have to pay hundreds (or thousands) of dollars in back taxes a few years down the road for a few dollars you forgot to account for on one year’s taxes (it can take the IRS a few years to catch stuff sometimes, but if you owe them, trust me, you will eventually be billed for it).

Learn more about how not being organized can cost you years later in back taxes.

Extension of Time to File Taxes Form

If you know you won’t complete your taxes before the deadline, no need to worry, you can file an extension, which will give you another six months to get your taxes done. But you need to file Form 4868 with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Access the Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return form. The PDF form is directly from the IRS’ website.

Please note the mailing addresses in the instructions included with the form. If you’re making an estimated payment with your extension filing, you will use one address; if you are simply sending in the form with no payment, you will use another address, so look at that area carefully in the instructions.

Speaking of making estimated payments, please note, filing extension gives you more time to get your paperwork in order. Filing an extension does not give you more time to pay your taxes if you owe. If you owe, that amount is still due today. If you don’t have an exact figure, pay an estimated amount.

Tax Tips for Freelancers about Making Estimated Payments

I found these websites helpful for estimating tax liability (Line 6 of Form 4868). The calculators are very basic, but they will give you a gauge showing how much you think you’ll owe (assuming you’ll owe) as your tax liability:

Tax Liability Calculators: Learn How Much You’re Likely to Owe in Taxes at the End of the Year

http://www.hrblock.com/free-tax-tips-calculators/

http://www.calcxml.com/calculators/federal-income-tax-estimator

E-File Your Tax Extension Form – Free!

There are several sites available from which to e-file. Start with the IRS’ e-file tax extension. Make sure you choose the FREE options.

Free Tax Help for Freelance Writers

If you have any questions, please consult a tax professional, or call the IRS directly at the numbers below.

Toll-free IRS tax assistance line at the following numbers: 800-829-4933 (for business tax questions); and 800-829-1040 (for individual tax questions).

Also, you can visit this federal government page for more free IRS / tax help. 

Already Filed Your Taxes? Want to Know When Your Refund is Coming?

If you’ve already filed, learn when to expect your tax refund. The IRS will tell you your refund status after a few clicks.

DISCLAIMER: Please note, I am by no means a tax professional and do not intend the information dispensed here to be taken as professional tax advice for freelancers. I’m simply passing these PayPal tax tips (and other tax info) along in hopes that it can make filing your taxes easier – if not this year, then definitely in future years. Freelancing and taxes touch on a lot of grey areas, so never hesitate to consult a tax professional.

Learn more about freelancing and taxes in the related posts below.

Happy filing!
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.

Selling Ebooks Online: 5 Things New Self-Publishers Should Know That Will Help Sell More Ebooks

I’m “e-friends” with a few freelance writers / self publishers; ones I stay in contact with on a regular basis. I was doing a catch-up chat with one of them recently, and in one of her responses, she touched on the subject of selling ebooks. Her email contained the following snippet:…

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Freelance Writing Advice for College Grads (Or Those Who Want to Transition into Freelancing Fulltime)

Written by Yuwanda Black

My 18-year-old nephew ships off to the U.S. Air Force today (I couldn’t be more proud!). As a recent high school graduate and young person who’s spreading his wings for the first time, I’m feeling full of advice for the young (and the not-so-young who are trying to forge a freelance path). So, when the following email from a college senior hit my inbox about a week and a half ago, it was right on time for a newsletter I wanted to write anyway.

Question from a College Student about Freelance Writing

freelance-advice-for-college-studentsHi Yuwanda,

I am a 23 year old college senior, soon to be 24. I am an English and Psych double major. My strong point has always been writing; its just what comes natural to me (been doing creative writing since I was 13). After hearing about technical writing, I decided to stay in college and pursue the certification they offer. Its the end of the year, and it turns out that the “business and technical writing” courses are mediocre at best. Adobe Framemaker, Robohelp – none of them were even mentioned.

I would like your opinion on the technical and medical writing field. I’ve taken a look around your site and I bought your ebook on “How to make 250$ a day writing simple SEO articles“. It offers some great information. My question is: What do you think about technical/medical writing, versus Freelance work? I’m a bit lost. I am over 100k in debt of education expenses. Do you think I should pursue technical writing, or do you think freelance writing on the net is better? I have no problems viewing writing as a business. Do you think its possible if I do freelance SEO writing for now – and on the side, self teach myself the skills needed for tech writing, or is it not worth it? Should I go and pursue an internship while I finish school? Is tech writing really all that lucrative?

Thanks for reading. Right now I’m a bit lost and frustrated on where to go and what to do.

My Answer

Let’s take this student’s questions about freelance writing one by one (albeit, out of order).

1. Is tech writing really all that lucrative?

Yes, tech writing can be very lucrative. Just know, there are different kinds of technical writing. And, you can do it for a company, eg, writing computer manuals for a software manufacturer, or you can pursue it as a freelance writer.

FYI, find out the average salary for technical writers in your area.

I’ve always made more money as a freelancer, but I should point out that I’ve never held a full-time position as a writer. I worked in publishing for a decade in New York City, but never as a writer (I was a copy editor, admin assistant and publications operations specialist).

So my advice here would be to figure out what type of technical writing you want to do first. Then you can always pursue full-time employment or freelance; or, you can pursue both at the same time. I freelanced on the side for years while holding a full-time job. Then, I started to earn more freelancing (and it suited my personality more), so I eventually peeled off and made it a FT career.

2. What do you think about technical/medical writing, versus freelance work?

See answer to #1.

Also, realize that both are niches are ones where you can earn very good money, but you need experience. You’re going to have that catch-22 situation where it’s needing experience to get work – and of course, you need work to gain experience. You just have to stay persistent. While landing that first gig may be difficult, once you do, you’re on your way.

As an aside, I’ve always found that getting work as a freelance writer (as opposed to searching for a full-time writing position) is easier when you’re trying to break into a market, especially if you have good writing samples. So, after you figure out what type of (freelance) writing you want to do, eg, technical and/or medical, then compose a few samples that prove you CAN write in that discipline.

3. Do you think I should pursue technical writing, or do you think freelance writing on the net is better?

These are two completely separate questions.

I can’t tell you what to pursue, as that depends on a range of factors, eg, is this a type of writing you like to do, for starters.

As for “is freelance writing on the net better,” any type of freelance writing you do is going to require marketing. In my experience, it is the skill most freelance writers lack and one most never really take the time to learn.

You also have to be very disciplined to be a freelancer. Most give up way too easily and they don’t invest in their careers, eg, learning: how to build / update their own websites; how to market; how to price freelance writing jobs – and most of all how to make decisions on their own without constantly seeking the advice of “experts.”

In short, freelancing depends a lot on your personality – are you a “take charge, go get’em” type of person; an “I need some hand-holding before I make a decision” type of person; or a “I constantly second-guess myself” type of person.

If you fall into the first two categories, you have a shot. If you’re the third type of person, you’ll probably be eaten alive as a freelancer.

4. Do you think it’s possible if I do freelance SEO writing for now – and on the side, self teach myself the skills needed for tech writing, or is it not worth it?

Again, this is something only you can decide. Start by answering the above question about your personality type.  THEN, ask yourself if freelancing is a career you really want, or would a full-time job suit you better.

First, you have to identify what you want of out life – then ask yourself what you’re willing to do to get it.

For example, if you choose to freelance, realize that there is no health insurance, no 401K and no steady pay check.

You say that you’re over $100,000 in student loan debt. Now, you can get a “secure job” (and I put this in quotation marks because I stopped believing in job security years ago) and count on a certain salary to pay your bills, or you can strike out on your own and earn more (or less) than you could at a 9 to 5.

But that’s all up to you.

I can tell you this, I’ve earned more being self-employed than I ever did in a FT job, but it took some time to build up to it. But, I know of freelancers who earn $35,000 to $50,000 per year pretty easily. Then, there are go-getters who earn six figures within a year or two.

But again, this depends on you.  And, I’m not trying NOT to answer your question; it really is up to you.

As a soon-to-be college grad I do want to point out that small business owners (eg, the self-employed) are happier than 9 to 5ers, even though they tend to earn less. But, self-employed individuals are more likely to become rich?  Proof? According to the article, How Do the Wealthy Get That Way?:

Self-employed people are more likely to become wealthy. Overall 20% of our population is self-employed, while 75% of millionaires are self-employed.

That’s a pretty interesting report by the way; try to read it all. The article goes on to state that there are other factors that contribute to becoming wealthy.

My family has always been a big believer in entrepreneurship. Even though my nephew is going into the military, I know that one day he’ll be his own boss – whether it’s investing in real estate (a definite if his mom (my sister, a RE agent and investor) has anything to say about it) – or some other type of business.

He sold candy in grade school; mowed lawns in middle school; and composed music in high school. So, his entrepreneurial background is already rich in experience.

5. Should I go and pursue an internship while I finish school?

If you mean an internship to become a freelance writer – no. I think writers should be paid. The time you spend as an intern could be spent marketing for paying freelance writing work. There’s plenty of it to be found on the web and your age / lack of experience doesn’t have to be a stumbling block.

One of the beautiful things about working on the web is that you can be “anonymous” if you want; this makes things like age, race, sex, etc. almost irrelevant. All employers care about is that the work gets done.

Now for some specific “life” advice . . .

How I Would Build a Freelance Career If I Were a College Student Today

If I were a senior in college today and knew about freelancing, I would probably take a FT job to have that steady paycheck and get myself on my feet (eg, get an apartment; a (paid for) car; and save six months to one year of expenses).

I’d also be freelancing on the side from day one and as soon as I had my financial cushion in place (and I wouldn’t pussy foot around about saving this money), I’d quit to freelance fulltime in a heartbeat.

I spent my 20s spending so much money on travelling, hanging out partying with my friends and not really knowing what the heck I wanted out of life. Again, I don’t regret it at all because I appreciate my success so much more now. But, I also know that I’d be MUCH more successful now if I’d figured out earlier that freelancing writing (which led to self-publishing and other revenue streams) was what I wanted to do.

Debt: The #1 Freelance Dream Snatcher

Don’t get into debt (any more than you already are). Stay debt free as much as you can – forever. It is the number one thing that can keep you tied to jobs you hate (that and having responsibilities like children before you’re financially ready).

Once I became debt free, I vowed never to go in debt again. My car (a Jeep) is over 10 years old — it’s paid for and I happen to love it); I paid off my student loans a few years ago; and I don’t have credit card debt. My only debt is my mortgage and I’m striving to pay that off as soon as possible – way before the 30-year term.

You see, when you’re debt free, you have so many more options in life. You are free to look at your life through a different lens – ie, through the lens of “what do I really want out of life,” instead of “I have to take this job because I have to pay the bills.”

Life goes by way too fast to live like that, so keep this in mind, ok?

Freelance Writing Advice for College Graduates (and Others): Conclusion

The only regret I have about choosing a career as a freelance writer is that I didn’t do it sooner. I believe that every path we choose leads us to where we are at any given moment, so I don’t regret my circuitous route to freelancing because it paved the way for my present success in so many ways (eg, industry contacts;  learning the ins and outs of how editorial companies function; learning the lingo of the trade; learning how to do so much on my own, like building websites, etc.).

I hope this insight helps, and wish you much success – whether you choose freelance writing as a career, or something else.

Yuwanda
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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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Writing As a Career: Questions from a Freelancer Who’s Just Starting Out about Niche Marketing & More

Many are turning to freelance writing as a career in this economy, and the reasons vary. Recently, I was contacted by an old friend whose wife has been a stay-at-home mom for the last couple of years. She’s pondering going back to work, but really wants to find something she can do from home. He knows I’m a freelance writer, and as we talked, I told him I thought freelance writing would be an ideal fit for his wife. He agreed and now she’s in the process of setting up her freelance writing business.

About a week ago, I received the following questions from her that deal with niche marketing. She wrote, in part:

Questions from a Stay-at-Home Mom Who’s Chosen Freelance Writing as a Career 

One of my areas of writing expertise is Financial Services due to my background working in Marketing Communications for a Registered Investment Advisor firm for eight years. The initial domain that I reserved is [she listed the domain she registered].  First, do you think this is too cheesy?

Second, do you recommend going after a financial SEO-oriented URL that can be redirected to the broader [domain name she’s chosen] since I don’t want to limit myself to just the financial markets?

Also…

On my website, in addition to SEO writing, I’m planning to offer editing services and creative marketing flyers. So, maybe going with [domain name] or [domain name]. 

Do you have any recommendations here?

I realize I need to just get it up and running but I’d rather get the name right from the get-go.  I sooo want this to work!  I’ve started to get my resume back out there and really, really don’t want to go back into the corporate world – uggg!

My Answers

Let’s take her questions one by one.

writing-as-a-career-advice

1. The initial domain that I reserved is [she listed the domain she registered].  First, do you think this is too cheesy?

As long as the domain name is professional, I don’t think it could be cheesy. So don’t worry about that. She’s chosen SEO writing, and the domain name she chose was actually very good – it was straight, simple and to the point, alluding to exactly the type of writing she’s chosen to provide.

2. Second, do you recommend going after a financial SEO-oriented URL that can be redirected to the broader [domain name she’s chosen] since I don’t want to limit myself to just the financial markets?

Actually, this is a VERY good idea. This person is new to SEO writing. She read my How to Make $250+/Day Writing Simple, 500 Word Articles ebook and the How to Write SEO Copy That Sells manual – that’s the extent of her training. And, she’s already picked up on the fact that having an SEO’d domain name would benefit her.

So, kudos on that M!

FYI, when I first started out as an SEO writer, I had two domains as well – one was for regular SEO content, the other site was used to sell PLR content (which my firm no longer provides, by the way). But this was EXACTLY why I had two separate domains – so that I wasn’t limiting myself. They linked to each other.

Once I start New Media Words, my full-fledged SEO writing company, I folded both sites into that and expanded my service offerings from just SEO articles and blog posts to SEO press releases, article distribution, case studies, etc.

Learn more about expanding your service offerings in the post, SEO Copywriters: How to Make an Extra $61,880 This Year. Even though this discusses SEO content, it’s relevant no matter what type of writing services you decide  to offer.

One Word of Caution When You Choose Freelance Writing as a Career

As this new freelance writer alluded to (ie, “I realize I need to just get it up and running”), when you first start, the priority is to do just enough so that you can start marketing for work, then expand as you get going.

But for freelancers like her, taking time to “get it right from the get go” is the right course of action. “So,” you may be wondering, “what do you mean for ‘freelancers like her?’”

I mean someone who has not only gotten the material, read it, and grasped it, but she’s taken the initial steps to getting started. Many newbies get stuck at the starting gate. In short, they procrastinate and fool themselves into thinking they’re “starting,” but they need “more direction,” they need to do “x” and “y” and “z” – BEFORE they start marketing for freelance writing jobs. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given advice to someone who’s asked me for it, and six months later they come back and ask the same questions. They never ACT – but they still think they’re “starting a business” because they are, after all, “seeking advice from experts.”

This newbie didn’t do that. She got the material, immediately studied it and formulated a plan of action. This tells me that she’s motivated to, as she stated make this work.

So that’s why I say that if she wants to do a little more than is necessary in the start-up phase, then it’s – in my opinion – the right move for her.

How Her Journey Parallels Mine When I Chose SEO Writing as a Career

As I already stated above, I started out with two websites. This was just one of the things I did when I transitioned into SEO writing.

Other things I did was to wrap up existing client projects, researched SEO writing rates and decide on which niche I wanted to focus on (real estate). In short, I took the time to plan my foray into SEO writing because — like this newbie — I knew that I wanted to (knew that I COULD) make a real go of this niche.

Like me, this freelancer has a real motivating factor that’s pushing her to take concrete steps to make her writing business a success. Hers is not wanting to go back into the corporate world; she wants to be able to continue to stay home with her kids.

Mine was money and a change of pace in my career. I was bored and when I discovered SEO writing, it ignited my passion for freelancing again because not only was the work plentiful, it was different, exciting and paid well.

As always, I hope this insight helps if you’ve chosen writing as a career and are a little stuck at the starting gate.

Some More Related Reading

Freelancers: How to Make the Transition from Another Specialty to SEO Content Writing

Best,
Yuwanda
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