Archives for October 2011

A Freelance Writer’s Life Abroad: Inside Peek at My Life as an American Living in Jamaica for a Year, Part XX

I know, I know, I know . . . it’s been a looongggg time since I’ve posted to this travel series. And, so many have been asking about it, so I felt it my duty to start updating it again. I’ve been busy with my ebook writing, so forgive the long stretch of no posting. I’m going to start updating this series again regularly — at least every couple of weeks.

Note: This series is seeking a sponsor (eg, airline, phone company, luggage seller, etc.). If interested, send email via “Contact” page and let’s discuss.

So, what’s life been like; what have I been up to. Well — a ton!

Moving on Up!

First off, I moved in May. I moved from a studio apartment here in Negril, to a 2-bedroom, 2-bath house. It has access to a pool, as well as beach chair facilities at a nice hotel on the beach. I moved because friends kept wanting to come visit, and my studio apt was too small. It was fine for just me, but when friends came, I wanted to be able to put them up.

Editor Note: Access links to every post in this series at the end of this page.

How to Work and Live Abroad from the Caribbean: It’s Easier Than You Think to Make the Move to an Island ParadiseI dont’ visit the pool nearly as much as I’d like — even though it’s literally right across the street.

But, I’ll catch you up on all that’s been going on since my last post here in successive posts — divulging bits and pieces at a time. Today, I want to talk about eating in Jamaica, as in . . .

I’m Losing Weight — and It’s All Because I Stopped Eating Meat (Well, Almost)

As I’ve talked about in previous posts in this series, it is very easy to eat well here in Negril because there’s no fast food restaurant on every corner. Instead, what you encounter is the veggie truck — which sells everything fom pears (avacadoes (what Americans call avacadoes, Jamaicans refer to as pears) to potatoes).

For about $5 (really!) I buy all the fresh veggies I need for a week — usually that consists of tomatoes, cucumbers, pears, beans, onions, lettuce, garlic, carrots and some kind of fruit (eg, watermelon, papaya, honey bananas)).

I WAS a chicken and salad kind of girl. Now, I’ve discovered veggie chunks, aka textured vegetable protein (TVP). And you know what? It takes like meat. My sister says stew beef. It doesn’t taste like that to me. To me, it tends to take on the flavor of whatever you cook with it.

As the video below shows, I usually add callaloo (a collard green/kale-like vegetable, cabbage, carrots, onion, garlic and seasonings). It only takes about 12-15 minutes to cook, depending on how much you cook at once. I usualy cook about half of a 12 oz bag. I can eat off that 3-4 times.

And veggie chunks are cheap – less than $2 for about a 12 oz bag (I’m guessing on the size here; they use the metric system here in Jamaica and my math conversion skills suck!).

Let’s suffice it to say though that it’s a lot of food for very little money. If you add rice and/or beans to it as a side dish, you’ll be really full, but without the “stuffed sausage” feeling, if you know what I mean.


Why I’m Trying to become a Vegetarian

I carry most of my weight in my middle. It’s genetic. No matter how many situps I do or how many miles I run, I tend to be a little poochy in the middle. I do just enough situps to maintain that area, but my stomach hasn’t been flat flat since I was in my mid- to late 30s.

Once I hit 40, forget it, it’s like my body started betraying me! Most of you 40-something-year-olds know what I’m talking about.

I HAVE to work out now; it’s no longer an option.

I HAVE to eat right; it’s not just something I do.

So when a friend of mine gave me this video entitled, Eating, I watched it and was amazed by how the American diet has changed so drastically in just the last century (which is a nanosecond in world age); and by what meat does to your body (it clogs up your colon like nobody’s business). And that’s disastrous for the body on soooo many levels.

And did you know . . . there’s not THAT much of a difference between eating white meat like chicken and eating red meat? In the video I watched, the medical professionals advised against eating ANY kind of meat — even fish! I’d never heard that before. They say our bodies just weren’t meant to break down animal food, or the by-products of animals (eg, dairy).

But, there’s no way I’m ever giving up cream in my coffee — E-V-E-R!

But the video did get me to thinking about eating better (and I already thought I was a pretty healthy eater). When I thought about the fact that America is the fattest country in the industrialized world and that plenty of medical professionals agree that what’s killing most of us is what we put on our plates, the “becoming a vegetarian” seed was definitely planted and starting to grow (pun fully intended!).

I never eat red meat in Jamaica, and I was eating just chicken or fish about 3 times a week anyway. In the last month, I’ve had chicken twice and the last time I had it, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would (I had a meat craving so went out and got some fried chicken — which I happen to love).

But, after not eating it for over 2 weeks, I didn’t enjoy it as much, which surprised me. 

Also, not for nothing, but I have diabetes in my family on my mom’s side, so I’m always hypervigilant about that, especially as I get older. So with all of this running through my head, I said to myself:

Let me give this vegetarian thing a try.

And you know . . . it’s not half as hard as I thought it was gonna be, but there are some things I do and don’t like about it.

What I Don’t Like about Being a Vegeterian

I’m always hungry — I literally feel like I could “eat a cow” all the time;

I”m craving sweets more — and I’m not really a “sweetie eating” kind of girl;

My legs feel weaker running (need to add more protein to my diet to compensate for not eating meat);

I’m more gaseous — not great for romance, for sure! and finally . . .

I poop a lot more — I find myself scoping bathrooms just in case (sorry to be so graphic): One thing the doctor in the video said was that most of us are walking around constipated and don’t even know it.

Boy, do I believe him!

But, there are some definite positives, ie:

What I Do Like about Being a Vegeterian

I feel light as a feather overall — am losing weight seamlessly;

My middle is shrinking — without doing any extra situps; and

I feel good mentally just knowing that I’m taking better care of myself.

I’m hoping the positives start to outweigh the negatives and that I can keep it up. I don’t foresee ever giving up meat FOREVER (especially with the holidays just around the corner), but I can see eating it only a few times a year.

I have a couple of friends who are vegetarian and they say that after a while, the meat cravings go away. I hope so because it’s like now that I’m trying NOT to eat meat, it’s all I crave.

But, c’est la vie, no?

And that’s it for this Girl a Go Go this update.

I promise not to go away again for that long.

See you next time, and have a great weekend!

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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Copyright © 2011: Just a reminder that all material on this site is copyright protected and cannot be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without my (Yuwanda Black) written consent. Linking to is fine.

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Get Paid to Write: How to Break into the Elance Writing Marketplace and Earn Thousands per Month

The following is a guest post by Hayden Jackson.

Elance can be an intimidating place for writers. When I first signed up, I took a look at the profiles of some of the top-ranked writers. I looked at their long lists of completed jobs, their five-star feedback, and their thousands of dollars in earnings. And I thought, “How am I ever going to get paid to write for this site? How am I going to win my first job?”

Every Elancer starts in the same place: no feedback, no completed jobs, and just a string of zeroes where their earnings should be. Two years ago, I was no different.

How Much Can You Earn with Elance as a Freelance Writer?

Hayden JacksonBut today, everything has changed. Since I joined Elance in November 2009, I have earned almost $60,000—more than the writers whose profiles I studied when I first started out.

Over the past two years, Elance has become an integral part of a rewarding, full-time freelance writing career for me. In fact, I even wrote a definitive guide on the subject: “72 Insider Tips for Elance Writers.”

How to Make Money Writing for Elance: 4 Tips from a Freelancer Who’s Earned Up to $5,000/Month

How did I break into the Elance writing market? And more importantly, how can you make money writing for sites like this? Here are four essential tips that will help you stand out and find success in a crowded marketplace:

I. Polish your profile to perfection

So many writers complain that buyers ignore them on Elance, but when I look at their profiles, it’s clear that they aren’t selling themselves effectively.

To Make Money Writing for Elance, Fix These Top Profile Mistakes

Top profile mistakes include:

  • Failing to include a profile photo, or using a photo that’s out of focus, badly cropped, or unprofessional (this includes holiday snaps and family photos)
  • Including typos or spelling and grammar mistakes in your profile. Always proof your profile AND have another trusted writer proof it, too.
  • Including personal information. As with a job interview, a buyer doesn’t need to know your marital status, hobbies, or life circumstances.
  • Including information that isn’t relevant to the skills you’re selling. Unless you plan to establish a niche as a food writer, don’t include your job experience as a chef or your culinary diploma in your profile.

 I found that my job acceptance rate rose significantly after I gave my profile a “makeover” that included a better photo, a well-organized set of portfolio samples, verified credentials, and tested skills.

No single one of these elements will win you the job, but together, they present a professional, credible image to prospective buyers.

II. Bid more frequently

Did you know that at least 40 percent of all Elance jobs are never awarded? And that’s the official award rate—the real number of unawarded jobs may be much higher.

This means almost half of your proposals will never result in a job—no matter how talented you are or how brilliant your proposal is.

Most Elance writers are lucky to get one job for every 10 bids they make, so keep that in mind when you decide on your bidding frequency.

A few months into my Elance career, I really stepped up my bidding frequency, submitting proposals for 25 to 35 jobs each month. The more often I bid, the more jobs I won, and my earning started climbing quickly.

III. Don’t give up too soon

I have heard from many would-be Elance writers who gave up after trying to break into the Elance marketplace for two or three weeks. That’s just not enough time to establish yourself and start to see real results.

In my first few months, I struggled to make a few hundred dollars, and I thought about quitting many times. But I stuck with it, and today I can sometimes clear $5,000 in a single month. It takes time to build up to this level of success—and every writer will advance according to a different timeline.

As a general rule of thumb, give yourself at least three months before you decide that Elance is not for you.

IV. Go for the wow factor

When you don’t have fabulous feedback to vouch for your talent, you need to make the extra effort in your proposal.

How to Bid on a Job on Elance: Here’s Some Insight

Start with a well-crafted proposal template that clearly lays out your skills and experience, and take the time to customize your template to reflect the requirements of each job you bid on. If possible, take the time to research the buyer so that you can appear knowledgeable about their business.

This may seem like a lot of work, especially when you’re applying for a high volume of jobs. And it IS a lot of work. But keep this in mind: you only need to make the effort while you’re in the process of establishing yourself.

Once you’ve earned some feedback and credentials, you’ll find that you can submit a more straightforward proposal and still get a good response.

As an established Elance writer, I spend no more than 10 minutes on each proposal I submit.

Get Paid to Write: Gain Access to Clients Worldwide

Elance gives writers access to hundreds of potential clients all over the world at a minimal cost. However, it’s a crowded place, and it’s easy to become discouraged before you’ve given it a chance.

You need to treat writing for Elance like a real business to make it pay like a real business.

Invest some time in your profile. Invest some money in additional Connects so that you can bid more aggressively. And then give it some time—three months, at least. I did, and I’ve never had reason to regret the extra effort I put into establishing my Elance career.

Publisher Note: In a subsequent email when Hayden and I were corresponding, she added the following golden nugget, which I think is important. She wrote:

I know freelance bidding sites are unpopular with a lot of writers, and truthfully, the ratio of junk jobs to good jobs is about 100-1! But by filtering out the junk and focusing on the good stuff, I’ve been able to make it work for me.

About the Author: Hayden Jackson is a freelance writer and successful Elancer. She is also the author of “72 Insider Tips for Elance Writers,” a comprehensive guide to earning money and building a freelance writing career on Elance.com.

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Opportunities in Freelance Writing Fading Fast for eHow Writers — Many Have Lost Their Sole Source of Income (How to Prevent This from Happening to You)

I was reading an issue of WebProNews.com last week (an e-zine I recommend that every freelancer read because it covers so well what goes on in the online world, eg, social media, SEO, e-publishing, etc.). The story that caught my eye was entitled, Demand Media Shifts from “Content Farm” Approach, Writers Lose Income Source.

The article basically detailed how eHow sought to clean up its act after the Google Panda update earlier this year. The site got hit pretty hard and took drastic measures to fix itself, which basically meant changing their content strategy. Of course, this affected the freelance writers who wrote for it.

Opportunities in Freelance Writing: The Old eHow Content Strategy

writing-for-ehow-post-pandaMany freelance writers had been able to make a full-time living writing for eHow (eg, $4000 per month). Part of it was because their revenue model was based on a pretty straightforward content strategy, as outlined in the above-referenced article, ie:

[The eHow content] strategy, mind you, was generally about writing assignments based on what people are searching for, and including numerous articles on the same topics, covering a variety of different title options. The strategy worked [well] for Google search visibility. No question about it.

Why I Wrote for eHow

I wrote 20 articles for eHow back in 2008. And I can tell you, it was some of the easiest, quickest money I’ve ever made as a freelance wrier. The articles only paid $15 each, but as they were about freelance writing (a subject I can write about in my sleep), it usually took me less than half an hour to write an article and upload it.

Note: Links to articles I wrote for eHow are provided in the linked-to article above, but some of the links no longer go to the content. I guess some of my articles were removed from the site during their post-Panda update.

Opportunities in Freelance Writing: The New eHow Content Strategy

Now, eHow has a new content strategy. And, it’s left many freelancers who wrote for the site out in the cold.

What is the new eHow content strategy? As best as can be judged from the moves they’ve made since getting hit by the big Panda, it seems to be less about “saturating the web with run of the mill content” and more about “diversifying its traffic sources” (ie, getting away from relying so heavily on Google).

What Does eHow’s New Content Strategy Mean for Its Freelance Writers?

Well, if you read the comments of Demand Media Shifts from “Content Farm” Approach, Writers Lose Income Source, it means fewer assignments — a lot fewer — almost overnight. Commenter Vicky Hunter wrote:

There were no articles available in the main eHow pool today for the first time ever. All but a few other specialty channels have been empty, as well. Demand’s thousands or writers are panicking on their forums. Crying, screaming, blaming, begging, fighting, pleading for help from fellow writers – even hinting at suicide. No matter what you think about them, you can’t help but feel some real pain for some of these writers.

I feel bad for the writers. Some were making $4,000+ a month, and many were able to keep families afloat during this bad economy – and now it’s all gone, like that – poof.

Did Demand Media Lie to Its eHow Freelance Writing Community?

That’s exactly what some have accused the company of. In a related article that came out just this past Saturday on WebPronews.com entitled, Demand Media Writers Offer Different Viewpoints of Assignment Reduction, one used-to-be-eHow freelance writer stated:

The writer tells us . . . they felt “they were being strung along, which is akin to lying.”

“They continually developed new writing categories (eHow Money [and] eHow Garden are examples) as the titles disappeared and the promises that they were providing a better writing experience for their freelance writers,” the writer tells us. . . . It’s almost as if all of the changes for ‘new writing opportunities’ were a coverup when they were actually taking away the writing opportunities at the same time.”

Lesson Freelance Writers Can Learn from Recent Happenings at eHow

I tried to post the following in the comments section of the first article mentioned above on WebProNews, but it wouldn’t take. And, that’s what inspired me to write this post. As a long-time freelance writer, my take is this . . .

The Secret to a Successful Freelance Writing Career

If there’s one thing many freelance writers need to learn it’s to treat freelancing like a “business,” for that’s what it is. And, smart business owners diversify.

I’ve been a freelance writer since 1993 and it took me years to take my freelance career seriously; ie, to treat it like a business. And, when I did, that’s when it started to pay off.

I advise freelance writers all the time to develop multiple revenue streams — never, ever depend on one (or a few clients); writing outlets; etc. for your living. You set yourself up for a downfall when stuff like what’s happened with eHow / Demand Studios happens.

And lest we forget — it’s their business; they can change the rules on a dime. While it may not be fair, it’s life; it’s business.

I hope this helps many freelance writers to take stock of their careers; ie, to diversify — whether it’s creating your own info products/ebooks to sell; building minisites for passive income; finding 10, 15 or more clients who can give you work; or creating e-seminars, etc.

If taken the right way, this can be a blessing in disguise — as I talked about in this post on writing for write-for-pay sites like eHow and HubPages.

If you haven’t started to diversify your income as a freelance writer, take stock and start to do so as soon as possible. The less you depend on one source as a freelancer, the better chance you have of having a long, successful freelance writing career.

What’s your take on the recent happenings at eHow/Demand Media? Were you affected by them? Have you ever written for them? Share in the comments section below.

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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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Get Paid to Write: 5 Sites That Pay $50+ for Guest Posts and 35 More “Write-for-Pay” Sites

There are tons of ways to get paid to write. Many are covered right here on this site, eg: …

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

I can’t believe it’s been more than a month since I’ve published anything in this series. But, I’ve been busy doing, what else . . . writing and uploading more ebooks. This afternoon, I uploaded my 28th title to Amazon….

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A Beginner’s Guide to Getting a Website: How to Get Your Business on the Web Quickly & Affordably

Unsolicited Testimonial: I want to set up a website as part of my plan to promote a book of mine that’s due out later this year. I … just finished your e-book, How To Get Your Small Business On the Web Quickly & Affordably. Excellent, concise, practical advice. — Stuart…

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Freelance Writing Advice for SEO Writers: In-depth Answers to 26 Commonly Asked Questions from SEO Writing Clients

I decided to write this ebook because, as a freelance writer since 1993, and a search engine optimization (SEO) copywriter since 2007, I get a lot of questions from fellow freelancers about what to expect from SEO writing clients….

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Financial Advice for Freelancers: Keep More of What You Earn, Get Paid Regularly, Estimate Taxes & More

I spent all day yesterday updating the ebook, Advice from Successful Freelancers: How They Built Their Careers & How You Can Too! I wrote this ebook back in 2004 (it was the second ebook I ever wrote), profiling 14 freelancers (including myself) on what it takes to succeed. …

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In Business: From Startup to Success — One Freelance Writer’s Success Story

An Ebook Excerpt
[See all Inkwell Editorial Work-from-Home Titles Here]

I have been a freelance writer since 1993. I’ve run several successful businesses from home since then — both online and off. The information in this ebook is for all aspiring or struggling entrepreneurs — no matter what kind of business you’re in or want to start.

x-click-but22 Get inside info on what it’s really like to start/run a business for only $3.95.

I am the publisher of this site, InkwellEditorial.com, an authority site on how to start, grow and maintain a freelance writing business. I have also authored over 30 ebooks, mostly on small business, freelance writing and internet marketing. And, more are on the way!

startup-cover-medIn the in-depth report, From Startup to Success!, I answer the following questions in detail — and quite a bit more:

1. How I got started?

2. How I went from full-time employee to small business owner?

3. How I learned to get clients?

4. How I learned what to charge?

5. How I initially financed my business?

More Startup Questions Answered & Personal Insight Given to First-Time Entrepreneurs

Additionally, I point out seven things you should do from the beginning that will help you become successful that much sooner.

Starting from the beginning, I tell you how I acquired my very first clients, what I did when I lost my biggest client two months after quitting my job, how I financed my first business, lessons I learned from running two businesses from home — and more.

Answers to these questions contain insight into how I learned to market with nothing (literally), what I learned about loans, financing a business with credit cards (yes, there is a time for this!) and personal finances in general — all of this information is central to running a business successfully.

Many think there’s a mystery to owning a business. It simply is not true. Anyone who really wants to can do it. Via this insightful account, you learn the mistakes NOT to make, which can save you thousands of dollars and make success possible that much sooner — no matter what kind of business it is.

Here’s to your success!

Following is a complete Table of Contents



About My Very First Business, Page 5

A Business Owner Speaks: The “Mystery” of Owning a Business, Page 6

Who This Information Can Help, Page 6


1. How did you get started? Page 7

3 Big Lessons I Learned from a Failed Business That’s Helped Me to Succeed, Page 7

2. How did you go from a full-time employee to owning a business? Page 8

The Advantage of Running a “Small” Business, Page 9

3. How did you learn to get clients? Page 9

Why It’s Critical to Spot – and Grab – Opportunities Even When They Aren’t on Your Business Plan, Page 9

4. How did you learn what to charge? Page 10

Why You Must Learn to Charge Enough; What Can Happen If You Don’t, Page 11

Factors to Consider When Setting Rates/Prices/Fees, Page 11

5. Did you get a loan to start your business? Page 12

About Getting a Small Business Loan, Page 12

When to Use Credit Cards to Finance Your Small Business – Yes, There Is a Time When It’s OK to Do This in My Opinion, Page 13


I. About Credit, Page 14

II. About Recordkeeping, Page 14

III. About Getting a Lawyer and Accountant, Page 14

IV. About Getting a Business Mentor, Page 15

The Best Piece of Business Advice I’ve Ever Received, Page 16

V. The 4 Secrets to Small Business Success, Page 16

VI. About Developing a Thick Skin, Page 16

VII. About You, Page 17


x-click-but22 $3.95

P.S.: If you want to know how to do something, ask someone who is already doing it. This is the vantage point from which this ebook — indeed, all Inkwell Editorial titles — are written. All material is first-hand; contributed by real entrepreneurs. This allows readers the benefit of learning from those who have been there.

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