Starting a Freelance SEO Writing Career: The Case Study of SEO Mary Continued

Today we check in on SEO Mary. Who is she? What’s she all about? …

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Freelance Writing Advice: The Saga of the $25 Press Release Client

In Friday’s post, I promised to tell you the story of the client who tried to pay $25 for a press release, instead of $125. Here goes

This client called me on a weekend. I specifically remember it was a Sunday because I was coming back from the grocery store and was preparing to take groceries out of the car.

The Grocery Story is My Good Luck Charm for Landing Freelance Writing Jobs

As an aside, I seem to get called a lot in the grocery store. The first serious inquiry I ever got for SEO writing was a client who called me while I was grocery shopping in WalMart. We spent a good 10 minutes talking, and I had to tell him to excuse the announcement for sale items coming over the loud speaker. He chuckled at that and right then, I knew he was going to be cool to work with. That’s proven to be the case.

But, I digress . . . back to this, the $25 press release client. 

So I’m getting ready to step out of my car to unload bags and my phone rings. I did deep in the recesses of my purse, and finally locate my phone. I answer it and am surprised because it’s a potential client – calling on a Sunday. Not many do this.

Cold Emailing Works!

He tells me he got my email (I cold email a lot) and was impressed with my credentials, yadda, yadda, yadda. He owns an internet marketing firm and needs me to do some press releases for his clients. He tells me he’ll start me off with one first, to see how it goes. And, if all goes well, he’ll be using me for other stuff as well, eg, article writing, etc.

I’m psyched, of course.

NOTE: We don’t discuss price, because I assume he’s viewed my site from the link I sent him and knows what it costs (this will come back to haunt me).

Later on that evening, I log on to see if he sent the project, but nothing. I’m not worried though. As he called on a Sunday and seemed in a bit of a rush, I just assumed that he would send it.

He sends it the next day, and gives me a couple of days to get it back to him.

If you’ll remember from Friday’s post, I told you the reason he wanted me to write the release is because the company sold a product for the home construction industry. They sent me two versions of the press release they wanted me to revise. One was written by them (it was too long), and the other was written by their client (it was too technical and too long).

Typical Press Release Writing Problems from Clients That You’ll Be Called on To Fix

So, my job was to revise it, accomplishing the following:

(i) make it relevant so it had a good chance of being picked up by the media;

(ii) make it reader friendly (as opposed to technical jargon, make it so the average reader could understand it); and

(iii) make it the proper length (one page).

It took me a good four hours to accomplish the above.

After I turned it in, the client raved about how great it was and wanted to know what my availability was for other projects. I also gave her (the partner to the first person to contact me) a couple of more marketing ideas to present to her client.

We had lots of back and forth refining the ideas she could present to her client – things she had never even thought of (in tomorrow’s post I’ll expand upon how to know when a client is a good candidate to upsell quickly).

I felt pretty confident that I’d be more work from this company. Well, what I call the “work killing angel” had other thoughts in mind. “Not so fast missy,” she said.

The Problem w/ My Invoice

When I presented the invoice for the press release a couple of days later, do you know what the client called me and said, “We got your invoice for the press release. I thought it was $25, but the invoice is for $125?”

It was said as a question, not a statement. Almost as if he expected me to say it had been a misprint.

I said, “Yes, is there a problem.”

He said, “I thought it was $25.”

I said, “What made you think that?”

He said, “It says on your site that an article is only $25.”

I said, “An article is different from a press release. The rate card on my site lists both, and one is $25 and the other is $125.”

When You’re Dealing with a Client Who Doesn’t “Get It”

He said, “I don’t understand the difference. Both are just one page.”

And this is where clarity sank in. I realized that he didn’t get it, ie, he didn’t know very much about marketing. This astounded me as they market themselves as an web marketing firm. They have a very slick site and if you came across it, you’d think they are a multi-million dollar company.

So, I gave him a very in-depth explanation, pointing out the differences between the two. He mumbled something to the effect of, “Oh, I see and said, “I don’t know if we’re going to be able to afford you going forward.”

I explained to him the going rate for press releases and told him that I understood and to keep me in mind for other work.

I haven’t heard from them again.

The moral of the story: Make sure your clients know what they’re getting – and for what price.

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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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How to Start an SEO Writing Career with No Experience: One Freelancer’s Success Story! (Part V of V)

This post is an update on “SEO Mary.” Mary recently landed her first SEO writing client, less than a week after she started to market. FYI, Mary is a freelance writer who has been allowing us an inside peek into how she’s starting her SEO writing career. She has agreed to give me periodic updates. Hence, at some point in the future, I’ll give an update on her story….

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How to Start an SEO Writing Career with No Experience: One Freelancer’s Success Story! (Part IV of V)

This post is an update on “Mary,” a freelance writer who has been allowing me to chronicle her foray into writing SEO content for a living after buying my ebook on the subject….

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How to Start an SEO Writing Career with No Experience: One Freelancer’s Success Story!

This article is an update on “Mary’s story.” Who is Mary? Mary is a freelance writer who has recently started to do SEO writing. She bought my ebook on SEO writing and started to get queries from clients before she even started to market.

Note: Update July 2016. To follow this entire series from the beginning, click the following links: Part IPart II; this is Part III; Part IV; Part V; Part VI; Part VII; Part VIII; and Part IX.

Along the way, Mary has generously allowed me to chronicle her story, from her panic of answering that first email query from a client, to advice I gave her on how to grow her business to make $5,000/month, or more, by outsourcing work to other freelancers.

Here’s the latest on Mary’s foray into the SEO writing sector.

Email Received from Mary: “Yuwanda . . . I just finished an e-mail “blast” to 15 SEO companies. I’m making some progress. I just checked my site’s stats . . . after sending out queries the last couple of days. And this time they [site visitors] stayed longer . . . and looked at almost all of my site’s pages, something that hasn’t happened yet. So I’m rather pleased.

Email I Sent to Mary: Mary that’s great! Keep up the good work, and let me know about that first PAYING project.

Email Received from Mary Later that Same Day:

Mary: So I come home from work and what do I see, this e-mail from one of my queries:

Client Query to Mary: “I don’t usually respond to unsolicited offers in our RFP, but I am curious what you would charge to develop 6 pages of content for category pages at the top of silos. I would provide you with a tag cloud, keyword discovery reports and some keyword density guidelines.”

Mary: “Yuwanda, I know I ask alot, but he’s talking SEO that I don’t know …;-) What are “category pages,” “top of silos,” “tag cloud,” “keyword discovery reports?” At $25/page (my stated rates), is that what I should charge? Or are these he is asking for more detailed and I should charge $35 or more?

Good golly, I need to do some SEO-speak research. I thought I knew enough — I know what long tails are, what density is, etc., but he’s speaking a language I’m clueless about. I’ll do some research tomorrow and e-mail him then.

My Email to Mary a Bit Later that Evening:


You’re getting closer.

FYI, all he’s asking you is what would you charge to write six pages of content for lead categories on his site. He will send you all the info (eg, keyword density reports, what keyword density he wants) to help you out.

Some definitions to help you out:

Siloing is basically categorizing a site so that information can be found easier. You’ll also hear it referred to as site mapping, site structure and site categorizing. A good in-depth definition can be found here.

Category pages are the subsections of a site, relative to the overall content on a site.  If you have a shopping site for example, some Top of Category page might  be Ladies, Men, Housewares. Some subsections might be Shoes, Handbags, Lingerie, etc.

To read more about it, click here.

A tag cloud is just keyword that you enter to describe the content on the page. Tag clouds are just clusters of keywords, labels or tags. When it’s more than one, it’s called a tag cloud.

As for charging more, you might quote him a project rate based on how long the articles are. If you want, feel free to call me and I’ll answer any questions you have.

Hope that helps.

Well, Mary went on to land that client. I’ll post the rest (hmmm, I think Part III) of the story on Thursday (2/14/08) and next Monday (2/18/08), I’ll post the finally to wrap up the series.

And a big thank you to “Mary” for allowing me to chronicle her success. You know who you are! 🙂

P.S.: I’m Ready to Start a Lucrative Career as a Web Writer.


How to Start a Freelance SEO Writing CareerUnsolicited Testimonial

Hi Yuwanda!

Just wanted to say thank you for your e-books! I bought your SEO e-book on May 10th and just received payment for my first order of SEO blog articles! It’s a recurring job for an SEO company that is working with an allergist. All I have to do is take some stock articles and rewrite 8 articles per month at $25 each. I got this job by [following the marketing plan] in your e-book. … Now I am confident that I can charge more for my work!

This is just in time because I was worrying about having to break down and find a full time job. I want to stay home and work because my fiance has kidney failure. He needs a transplant and we fully expect that he will receive one and live a long life. However, if he does not, then he has a good 15 years of life.

While 15 years can be a long time and any number of things can happen in that span of time, I don’t want to spend it stressed out about a job and commuting to a place I hate. Thanks for giving me the tools to create a flexible online career!

P.P.S.: Have something to stay to the freelance community?

Have some freelance advice, tips and/or a success/failure story to share? Submit a guest post. Read the guidelines and if I like it, I usually publish it within a few days.

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How to Earn $5,000/Month or More as an SEO Writer

If you’re an SEO writer (aka article writer, SEO content provider, web writer, etc.), you’re probably busy. And if you’re not, I guarantee you there’s a marketing flaw. SEO content writing is a hot niche in freelance writing right now, and you can quickly become overwhelmed, as one freelancer recently learned….

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Freelance Success Story: How One Freelance Started to Get Queries Before She Started to Market (and what she did about it)

A panicked freelancer recently contacted me with a problem most would love to have – before she even started marketing, a potential client came a’knocking! “Huh, how did that happen?” you might be wondering. Let me explain….

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How Will a Recession Affect Freelance Writers? Insight into What It Takes to Land Gigs in a Down Economy

This question was written about recently on ChrisBlogging.com. He states, “Personally, I do not know much about American economics. …. While it is hard to predict the future, a lot of so-called experts feel that a recession is on the way. Like most, this worries me for a number of different reasons.”…

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4 Tips for Applying to Freelance Writing Jobs on Craigslist to Get the Job

I recently landed three new clients in one day. Hence, I was slammed – too much work to meet all the deadlines without help. So, I immediately placed an ad on Craigslist for SEO writers (SEO writing is my new thing).

Over the next 24 hours, I received roughly 75 responses, and they’re still pouring in, fully a week after I placed the ad. That’s a lot of competition. I outsourced work to three writers from that ad – and have outsourced more work since then. Two of the three I worked with I plan to outsource more work to when I need help.

My point? Once an employer uses you, they will most likely use you again and again and again. Following are some things that, as an “employer,” turned me off, and others that made freelancers stand out (and made me want to call them).

Remember, I’ve been a recruiter for over a decade, so the following tips come with a healthy dose of experience behind them.

4 Things Not to Do When Applying to Freelance Writing Jobs on Craigslist (& Other Freelance Writing Jobs)

1. Don’t Ask for More Information – yet. Why? Because it means more work for the person who’s looking for help – at precisely the time they don’t have the time to do more work.

When I got responses like, “Can you send more info?” or “I’ve never done this type of work before, but …” or, “I’m interested in learning more …” I immediately clicked through to the next responder.

My answer to all of these questions is an emphatic “No.” As in:

No I don’t have time to send you more info – because I’m on deadline; and

“No I can’t work with you if you’ve never done this type of work before because I can’t train you – because I’m on a deadline;” and

“No, I don’t have time to teach you right now, although I’m thrilled you may be interested in learning more – because I’m on deadline.”

I thought the ad I wrote was pretty detailed. It gave enough information for someone with the kind of experience I was looking for to be able to assess the job – without more detailed info UNTIL they were hired for the job.

TIP: If you read an ad and can do what it asks, then don’t request more info up front – because the important info (deadline, rate, type of writing, etc.) should be in the ad. Wait until you’ve been hired and then ask questions.

Now, there are bad ads, no doubt, that require more information. But, I’m going to go out on a limb and say these tend to be more of the exception than the rule simply because someone who needs help – NOW – tends to give enough information so that a person with the experience they’re looking for will know exactly what is entailed.

The responses that caught my eye were short and sweet and went something like this: I am replying to the ad for SEO writers.  I have written SEO articles in the past and currently I blog at [insert blog name]. I have attached my resume with writing samples as well as a sample of my SEO writing.  Thank you!

This provided all the things I needed to assess if they were right for the job, namely: (i) experience, (ii) writing samples, (iii) rate acceptance (this was implied); and (iv) willingness to do the work.


2. Hedge-Your-Bet Writers: What do I mean by this? I received quite a few responses like the following:

“I am a [insert FT profession] and an experienced writer seeking freelance opportunities.  If this opening is still available please contact me directly via this email.  I can provide my CV and more information upon request.”

What’s wrong with this? A couple of things, namely:

(i) The person obviously freelanced on the side. And, while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, it’s not something I need to know unless I ask because I immediately think, “Are they going to be able to meet my deadline?”

If you can get the work done within the specified time, there’s no need to alert me that you have other responsibilities – unless I ask you directly.

(ii) The second thing that made me pass on this respondent is that he offered to send me his CV “on request.” What are you waiting for? Send it to me now. All his email did was put more work on me – at exactly the time I didn’t have any time.

I call these types of responses “hedge-your-bet” writers because I feel like they’re putting out feelers and if something comes along that fits their schedule or that they feel like doing, they’ll take it.

Freelancers who are serious about making money market for work and take what comes in – as long as it meets their criteria (eg, rate, deadline, etc.).

3. Incomplete Writers: Incomplete writers are first cousins to hedge-your-bet writers. How? They’re not set up to do what you want, but if you give them the job then they “could be.”

For example, this was a response I received to my ad:I do not presently have a PayPal account but I could set one up.”

As PayPal is free to set up and takes about two minutes, there’s no need for me, the employer, to know that you’re not fully equipped to handle my needs. Why would I use you, when I could use someone who has the setup I requested in my ad?

Especially in cases where you can quickly get what the employer requests, respond as if you have everything they ask you for because what if you do land the assignment. Don’t give them a reason not to contact you.

Furthermore, in this specific example, I thought, how long has this person been writing for the web/freelancing if he/she doesn’t have a PayPal account. Most of us do, or at least some form of online payment processing method. So, it caused me to question how much they knew about SEO writing at all.

4. Loquacious Writers: This is a basic, but I felt obligated to include it anyway. Don’t send a life history. A brief professional outline is all you need to send to potential employers, along with a few writing samples.

I received responses from freelancers that told me why they needed the job, why the felt they were perfect for the job and how it was their dream to be a freelance writer. These all peg you as a beginner – and in some cases, unprofessional. And, it will get you sent to the slush pile almost every time.

Final Insight into Responding to Ads for Freelance Work: When employers place an ad on a major freelance site like Craigslist, they’re probably going to get quite a few responses.

They scan through them quickly, looking for the person who has the qualifications they’re looking for and can meet their deadline.

All employers really want to know is if you can handle the job, in a timely manner, for the rate they’re paying. Only info that supports these things primarily is necessary – everything else is basically immaterial.

Yuwanda Black, Publisher

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Freelance Writing Jobs: 4 Ways to Increase Your Freelance Writing Income in 2008

Original Title: 4 Ways to Increase Your Freelance Writing Income in 2008

I’ve been freelancing since 1993, and have been in the publishing industry since 1987. As such, I’m often asked for advice from other freelance writers.

 As the New Year is a great time to re-evaluate, re-invent and re-assess goals, I want to add to the advice I gave in this article about landing more freelance writing jobs, based on some of the queries I’ve received over the past year from readers.

All of the following is from my personal experience.

4 Things You Can Do To Make More Money as a Freelance Writer in 2008

1. Broaden Your Skill Set: This is possibly the best thing you can do to make more money as a freelance writer.

My personal experience: This year, I started to write SEO content (aka article writing, seo content provider, web writer). And boy am I glad I did!

As I detail in this article, I went from 0 clients to making $250/day with just a couple of weeks of marketing. This past December was the busiest one I’ve had in years. Practically all of the projects were from SEO clients. I even picked up a new client on Christmas Eve.

I’m excited about 2008 because I have several clients lined up who want me to start on projects for them in January.

If I’d never taken the time to find out what SEO writing was all about, I would have missed out on what is rapidly becoming one of my biggest money making streams.

2. Don’t Listen to Other Freelance Writers: The internet is all about the ready sharing of information. BUT, this is a sword that can cut two ways.

Take my SEO writing experience. Once I started looking into it, I found a lot of info that didn’t make it sound too good. In fact, I’d say 95% of what I read about SEO writing wasn’t good.

Many freelancers told stories of how clients didn’t want to pay a decent article rate (eg, 500 words for $4). I also read accounts of freelance writers not being paid at all for the work they turned in. Then there were the stories of burnout (eg, writing 100 articles in 3 days time).

In spite of all of this, my gut told me that I could make a go of it in this niche. I brought all of my business experience to the forefront as I was investigating this niche.

And I said to myself, “this type of writing is new enough, there is a vast enough need and there are not that many professional writers doing it that I can make a successful go of it.” My gut just told me so.

And, I was right. But, if I’d believed almost everything I read about SEO writing, I would have dismissed it – and closed the door on a great opportunity.

I guess the point I’m trying to get across is, don’t be so quick to dismiss an opportunity because of what everyone else says. If an opportunity appeals to you, take some time to look into it.

Which brings me to my next point . . .
Want to start making $50-$150/day as a freelance writer?
Visit FreelanceWritingWebsite.com.

3. Develop Multiple Income Streams: When you start to investigate different opportunities, you’re going to run across some amazing ways to make money as a freelance writer.

Select two or three complementary ways to make money. Developing complementary income streams will make it easier. Your secondary income streams should take less time and effort than your primary income stream.

For example, I write ebooks, and produce freelance writing and teleseminars. This goes hand-in-hand with my primary way of making a living – writing/editing for clients.

Passive Income Tip: Try to develop secondary passive income streams. For example, I set up an Inkwell Editorial Amazon Store featuring books on how to make money as a freelance writer. It took me about 20 minutes to set up. I don’t have to do anything to maintain it – passive income at its best.

4. Listen to Clients for Chances to Expand Your Service Offerings: Sometimes, opportunity knocks on your door so often, that you’d be crazy not to take advantage of it.

My personal experience: I’ve been asked by three different clients in the last month if I do blog writing (eg, update blogs). I don’t, but, starting the New Year, I’m going to.

Blog posting goes hand-in-hand with SEO writing. Hence, I’d be missing out on numerous opportunities to increase my income. 

So, listen to your clients. Have they been consistently asking for a service you don’t provide? Do you find yourself referring customers to other service providers to a service you can easily provide? Is there a service you don’t want to actually do, but can outsource to others and still make a fee off of it?

Extra Service Tip: When you are seeking to expand your service offerings, look for opportunities that compliment services you’re already providing. This provides three distinct advantages:

3 Advantages to Expanding Your Freelance Writing Service Offerings

(i) Save Time: Take my blog posting example. As I already provide SEO content, adding blog posting to my service offerings is seamless.

Most blog postings are 250-350 words. The SEO article writing I do consists of articles that range from 500-1,000 words. It’s just a different variation of a service I already provide (one that takes less time, no less). How easy is that!

(ii) Save Money: As you’re targeting the same group of clients, you don’t have to spend money to target a different demographic.

Also, there should be nothing to train for, set up, educate yourself on, etc. And, in cases where there is, it should be very nominal.

(iii) Create Client Loyalty: Service offerings that compliment your existing services increases your clients’ loyalty. I think of it as the WalMart marketing approach. Eg, why would you go anyplace else when you can get all of your writing needs met here?

Furthermore, new service offerings give you a reason to contact existing clients again – eg, “XYZ Writing now offers the following service for your convenience.” Having a legitimate reason to stay top of your clients’ mind is never a bad idea.

Freelance writing is not a static profession. Every year brings new opportunities to make more money. Knowing how, when and where to take advantage of these will ensure that you get a “raise” every year – and it can be greater than any raise you get from a 9-5 job – if you are smart enough to capitalize on the opportunities.

Here’s to a successful financial year in 2008.

Happy New Year!


make-money-on-backpageP.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.

P.P.S.: Want an easy, fast way to get started in affiliate marketing, making as much as $50, $100 or $150/day? Get How to Make Money Placing Ads on Free Classified Ad Sites (ie, Backpage.com). If you want to make some easy money promoting affiliate products on free classified ad sites, this ebook is for you. I’ve personally sold tens of thousands of dollars of e-products (my own and affiliate products) doing this since January 2009.

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SEO Copywriting: 5 Ways to Get a Job Writing SEO Articles

In yesterday’s post, Post #6 of Freelance Writer’s Technology Month, we discussed 4 controversial ways to drive more traffic to your website/blog. Almost any type of traffic generation for websites and blogs begins with content. It truly is the “golden egg” if you want to make money online. And, there’s a lot of money to be made as a content developer/SEO article writer (I know, it’s what I’ve been transitioning into lately)….

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How to Effectively Use Internet Job Boards to Find a Job

Editor Note: I usually write about freelancing issues. But, I’ve been getting a lot of queries lately that revolve around FT employment. So, I thought I’d devote this post to answering some of those questions. Today’s topic, how to effectively use job boards to find a job.

4 Tips on Using Online Job Boards to Find a Full-Time Job

Monster and CareerBuilder are two of the largest online job boards on the web. They post hundreds of thousands of positions and have millions of resumes on file. So, how do you get found? How do you effectively use job boards to find a job? Following are four tips.

1. Use Keywords: Many applicants don’t make good use of this, but it is how you get found by employers. Let me explain.

Employers and recruiters search for resume by typing in key words. If your resume is not keyword rich, even though you may be extremely qualified for a position, it will never come up in their search.

How to Make Your Resume Keyword Rich

As an example, under “Computer Skills” on your resume, you may type in MS Office Suite. Included in this software package is MS Word, PowerPoint and Excel. If you just type in MS Office Suite, and the recruiter is looking for someone with PowerPoint, your resume will not come up in their search.

So, list your skills like this: MS Office Suite (PowerPoint, MS Word, Excel). That way, no matter how a search is conducted, your resume will be part of their search.

2. Revise, Revise, Revise: As in, revise your resume to fit the job. This does not mean lie. To explain, when you see a job you know you are qualified for, but your resume may not reflect it, revise your resume to suit the position.

For example, if you’ve been an office manager and are applying for an executive assistant’s position, take the skills that overlap and rework your resume to reflect how those skills are directly transferable.

Also, have two or three different resumes going at the same time. Take key words and phrases from the job description provided and use them in your revised resume.

It’s tempting to just shoot off the same resume over and over again. BUT, the reason that job hunting is a “job” is because it’s time-consuming to tailor a resume to every position. However, this is what you have to do, especially if you’ve sent out many resumes with no response.

3. Apply Judiciously: Don’t apply for any and every thing you think you are remotely qualified for. Many employers and recruiters see the same resumes over and over again.

And, if your resume continually pops up for positions that you are either only peripherally qualified for or are not qualified for at all, your candidacy won’t be taken seriously – not matter how qualified you may be for a position.

Remember, there are real professionals on the other end reading your credentials. And no, your resume doesn’t disappear into a black hole, even though it may seem like it sometimes. Making a hiring director’s job harder by applying over and over again will only get you blacklisted.

4. Salary: If your salary expectations are unrealistic, you will never even get the call. So, if you are currently making 38K and want 50K, it is rare that a recruiter will call you. Most employers will consider a slightly higher salary than what you’re currently making; this is expected.

However, a large salary increase – unless it’s under extremely unusual circumstances (eg, you went back to school and got an MBA, you worked for a nonprofit and are looking in the corporate arena now, etc.), will have to be justified.

If you fall in this arena, it’s better to just leave the salary section blank and/or include a detailed cover letter explaining why.

I hope these job hunting tips help and remember, the web can be your foe or your friend when conducting a job search. Which one depends entirely on you.

Happy hunting!
Legitimate Work from Home Job OpportunityP.S.: Avoid the 9-to-5 Rat Race & Achieve Freelance Writing Success! Sign up for the Freelance Writing E-course: Launch a Profitable Freelance Writing Career in 30 Days or Less — Guaranteed!

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