"Master Dayton" might be humorous, (I mean if Ph.Ds are called "Doctors," shouldn't MFAs be called "Masters?") but in all seriousness I have made a living freelance writing and after several years I have tons of information I want to share to help out my fellow writers, regardless of age, experience, goals, situation, or background. This blog isn't pretty-but it will help if real freelance writing information is what you want.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Angry Freelance Writing Blogger Rant

It's This Writer's Ranting Time

For all those of you who remember my last freelance writing blog rant, no worries. This one won't be nearly as long. I promise I don't have 5,246 words more in me for this one :) The short topic of this post is jack asses. If you go around writing blogs that are online, you'll find a lot of them. It's unfortunate. Most are trolls who claim to make a lot more than they probably even dream of, while bashing everyone else. You can usually identify these "writers" because they never leave a link in their comments and say absurd things like "every college educated writer should earn $40 an hour out of college." Once in a while, you get an arrogant jerk who does make six figures writing and so in some ways can back up their arguments.

I don't like jerks. Most writers I've talked to are very friendly and helpful. But you get a few who just seem obsessed with being perceived as better than everyone else. What amazed me was some of the slamming that was going on of Demand Studios. Now I've only been writing there for a little over three months, and I have had a few copy editors who seemed to be asking a ridiculous amount of work in revision to get paid for an article, but to say that $20 an hour or more is peanuts and a disgrace...has anyone seen what the majority of online writers have been paid recently?

Now the $20 an hour is assuming a few things. The easiest way to get there is if you prove yourself with other articles and end up with "specialty" requests. But Fact Sheet articles take all of 10-15 minutes to write, and those are $7.50 each. A $15 shouldn't take a full 60 minutes, either, so a determined writer has the ability to get up to $20 an hour. It takes time to learn what this site is looking for with each type of article and to become proficient at writing to the template, but that's true of any writing job.

Once you get going, $20 an hour is not an unreasonable average, and that's over $40,000 a year, an amount that over 90% of freelance writers will never come remotely close to. I can write a $20 article in 45 minutes based on what Demand Studios is looking for. Finding and recording contact information for hotels and restaurants honestly takes me more time than the rest of the writing. Another advantage of Demand Studios: there's always more work. ALWAYS. I can write between projects, I can write for money at 3 a.m. or I can do $200 in a day if the bills are stacking up.

In fact, I expect my DS income next year will pay off all of my credit card debt and max out my IRA in addition to helping me cover rent, bills, student loans, etc.

So why the arrogance? One particular blogger went on and on about "moving to the next level" or "pushing yourself to the next plane." This person is an accomplished magazine writer, which is why the arrogance surprised me. Print mediums are dying. While I believe there will always be a print market, there are far fewer magazines now than there were 20 or even 10 years ago. That means if said blogger is writing 50 high paying articles a year for magazines, that's 50 assignments that no other writer can get.

There is a very small amount of room for top notch freelance magazine writers. Even ignoring this, there's the skill issue. Some writers are good writers. Not very good, not great, and they're never going to be. But if they can write clean writing in template form, they can make $20 an hour for a very solid living.

A second issue I have with the snobs: some of us started in a hole. We have to make rent, we have to make student loan payments, we have to pay medical bills. There is no 6 month severance, no connections from days in Academics. For a person who needs to start and get a decent income now to keep from being homeless doesn't have time for 40 hours of unpaid work a week "pushing for the next plane as a writer." I'm all about constantly pushing for the next level, but there's no reason not to make $40,000 a year while doing it. Have you seen what adjunct professors make for a living while trying to break into tenure status? Ashley and Justus - feel free to rant for paragraphs in the comments about that one!

Finally, it's one thing to bash a company or bash writers for their choices, but in the end we each have to find our own path. I've tried for 2 years to break into major magazines. So far nothing and no interest. Some trade magazine articles, but none of the major ones I've tried for. I do have some very high level clients - in fact there are some highly technical Forex reports I write weekly for about $42.67 an hour. But that's only a 3 hour a week job on average, and there isn't any more where that comes from. Would I like to make $43 an hour as a freelance writer all the time? Sure - but I'm going to be an idiot who starves to death if I don't find something to fill the gap of the other 37 hours a week.

Finally, $15-20 an hour is a great way for college students to make money on the side, or to even learn what they need to about the editing process and freelance writing to start their own business. For those of us who have lived wondering how to make the rent check, having the ability to make a couple hundred dollars in a few days is HUGE.

So my rant to all the jerks out there (the ones who can actually back up what they say, the idiots who never leave a link are pretty obvious frauds) is simple: help out or shut up. If you don't want your name on an online article, then don't write online. As for the rest of us, well I've learned long ago that pride is overrated, and overvalued. I write well, and I write what they want. Not going to be put down for delivering what they ask for, and I'll continue to get paid for being a freelance writer.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Back Writing w/ a Vengence

Back to Blogging

Hey all, sorry for the long delay in between posts, but there has been a lot going on in the life of this writer, even compared to usual. For one, the freelance writing work is really starting to take off and seems to be making a recovery from the smoldering crater many of the freelance markets seemed to be in when the economy was tumbling head over heels through the middle of 2008. Yep, the work has not only been picking up again, but I've found some better consistent gigs that have helped me to push up my income level and even cut back on the hours I used to work. This was a very good thing since, as my last post talked about, carpal tunnel and writing don't get along.

Along those notes as well - I'm doing pretty good. I'm lucky in that I've caught it early enough that an ibuprofen regiment and occasionally wearing a brace have really dealt with 80-90% of the pain and discomfort issues for me. I've also learned to intersperse my work day with breaks, and as long as I take 10 minutes every hour, and a mid-day "siesta," it turns out I can still work 10 hour days without issue. I rarely even have to use the brace anymore, and ibuprofen usually only twice a day, which is good since I hate popping pills. I know, ironic for a writer, and yet that's one stereotype I defy. Can't drink anymore because of the ibuprofen, so I guess my OCD and general weirdness are the only writer stereotypes I have left :)

So between the move, the medical treatments, a few family trips & emergencies and a busy December to come, things are kind of returning back to better than normal, meaning now that most of the pain is gone and I have more time, I can spend more time on this freelance writing blog, which is definitely a labor of love.

That brings me to a critical last point for why the prolonged absence: at one point not only did I have to shed less profitable freelance work because my wrists limited my ability to type, but there was a very limited amount of hours I could work as a writer and so there was a choice to be made: creative writing or blogging.

I've wanted to be a creative writer all my life, and for the sake of my sanity, I need to write fiction. As my health, setting, and life in general has improved, so has my writing output. Soon I'm going to put one last polish on My Brother's Keeper before sending it out one more time (around 15 hand written rejections - so I'm so freaking close to getting it there), revising a novel I've co-authored with a couple buddies, and sending out a lot of fiction come January. This is in addition to my freelance work, and finding that ever important balance of freelance writing vs. creative writing is a major reason why my mood and outlook has improved drastically.

S0 in the next few weeks, or even the next few days, you can expect a flurry of blog posts here. Definitely part 2 to my original post of how to make money writing in college, since two months definitely counts as too long of a cliff hanger (my bad), as well as a few writing website reviews, including a "new" one that has only come to my attention recently and has helped push up my income and income stability immensely. My opinion of a few writing websites has changed, as well, based on recent changes & actions and I want to make sure to address those changes.

Beyond that I'm not sure what else there is to add. I'm still struggling with decisions on what direction to go with this blog, with how to organize posts and if I should stay with the long rambles I enjoy that sometimes get pretty random search traffic, or if I should post more often with shorter posts on really narrow topics. There are pros and cons to both, but I have a feeling for the next few months that business will go on as usual, and that's not necessarily a bad thing ever.

Thanks to all the new followers-nothing like coming back to a blog to see that people care. Feel free to leave a comment and as always I will try to get back to you relatively soon. Hope everyone is doing well and there is more coming, so stay tuned!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Freelance Writer's Worst Nightmare: Carpal Tunnel

Writing Through the Pain

First of all, I'd like to apologize to my readers and friends for the long delay, and thank you for the kind words, comments, and e-mails over the past month. I'm not a big cliff hanger type of guy, so I assure you that part two of making a living freelance writing as a college student will be finished shortly as things have settled down.

There are many things that can affect a freelance writer's career, and one that has hit me for the first time a little over a week ago was carpal tunnel syndrome. As someone who is used to spending 10-15 hour days at the keyboard for years on end, I was probably long overdue for some type of repetitive stress disorder, and man did it hit me big time.

The pain in my arm was agonizing, and started in the hand, went to the wrist, and even shot up my arm all the way to the shoulder when I pushed too hard. I'm not going to go in to a lot on carpal tunnel or repetitive stress disorders, but I figure since writers are often pointed out as a classic occupation that suffers from this, I want to talk about it quickly.

Not all of freelance writing is about the writing. In my case when the pain was too much, I went to Wal-Greens and picked up a carpal tunnel wrist brace, which came with splint. This helps to provide support to your injured arm, and keeps the wrist from bending in a way that cuts off circulation to your hand (which is more or less how carpal tunnel works).

After even just a week of wearing this thing for a few hours a day, I am now a firm believer that every freelance writer with carpal tunnel should own one of these. And if you don't, consider getting one to help you at the first sign of discomfort or pain. Catching it early is a huge part of preventing it from getting worse.

Beyond the brace, take some ibuprofen three times a day to reduce swelling. This also means that you writers can't drink while treating CPT - not that any of us do anyway...:)

Other steps include breaking up your writing time into smaller slots, taking breaks, and reducing your work load by eliminating the things you really don't need to do and being efficient with your time. Carpal tunnel isn't anything to be taken lightly, as I've found out the hard way.

So while you're writing be careful, take care of your body, and if you need it or even feel slight discomfort in your hands after a long day, I strongly recommend a carpal tunnel brace to help treat your condition before it gets worse.

All you freelance writers stick together, and I'll be back with that long awaited second post on making a living as a freelance writer from college shortly. Thanks for the support and kind words, and to all the carpal tunnel writers out there - I feel ya'. Take care and keep on with your writing dreams.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

College Students as Part Time Writers, Part One

Freelance Writing Opportunities for College Students

One of the biggest joys of having a freelance writing blog for me are the e-mails and comments that I get from readers. Not only do I love the idea of giving fantastic freelance writing advice to beginning first time writers, but the encouragement I receive from others is great - as well as direct requests for post topics. If you e-mail me a specific topic request for a blog post, I'll probably run with it. That is if I have anything to share - while I take a pride in being a jack of all trades, I'm not going to fake it if someone asks a question about a field of freelance writing that I simply don't have a lot of experience in.

So Jared, this post's for you. And anyone else with similar questions. But make sure you don't have any classes for an hour, because this is a monster sized blog post that might even make the legendary Grizz groan in disbelief.

That said, if you're not a college student looking to become a freelance writer, that doesn't necessarily mean that this isn't good information for you. A lot of the professional writing advice that I would give for college students looking for a part time income is the exact same information that I would give to any individual looking to get started as a freelance writer. Especially if that person had the time, assets, and ability to look at freelance writing (and especially freelance writing online) as a long term goal and part time gig.

The ideal situation is if you are a freshman going into college, or a sophomore, but that's nothing close to being necessary. It's just ideal because the best way to start a great online freelance writing career is with time. Time is definitely your friend, and if you have four years to build up a successful freelance writing business, this is a lot easier than if you only have two years to do so. I'm not saying that you absolutely must have four years to make a great career as a freelance writer, but having the extra time definitely helps.

For those of you not in college, this is the equivalent of being able to start your freelance writing business as a part time thing as opposed to having to jump right in shooting for the full time work.

One of the biggest reasons for this is that I am a firm believer that the best set up of a freelance writing business, particularly one where the freelancer is setting up a career around writing jobs found online, is one that involves both active AND passive income. Back when I was just getting started, I wasn't even aware of passive income, and that's a shame because your biggest supporter when building up a solid and consistent passive income is time. Passive income is definitely the way to go in order to fully realize your long term goals and dreams, but it also takes longer to build and takes more determination.

For the college students looking to get started with a freelance writing career, I strongly recommend a mixture of active income with passive income. Active income is easy. You get a job, you do it, and you get paid once for it. This is how most jobs work. But you don't get to use your writing again, you have to start over and find new work. Repeat this cycle endlessly.

Passive income is different, and has become much more viable because of the advance of the Internet and what that has done for freelance writing markets of all types. Basically passive income is when you do some work (set up an AdSense website, write some HubPages, or write some articles) and then with little or no extra work, you keep getting paid week after week, month after month, even year after year once you're finished. This doesn't mean that there isn't a LOT of initial work (especially when building yourself up in the search engine rankings), but once there, your work isn't one $10 payment and that's it - your work keeps making money for you.

For example, let's just say that hypothetically, maybe, I had a weird fetish for post apocalyptic movies. So maybe a few years ago, like in the fall of 2007, let's say that maybe I was in the middle of one of the biggest mistakes of my life (graduate school) and while trying not to go crazy during another long Alaska winter, that I started writing for Associated Content just to have a place to write what I wanted (this was before I discovered passive income as an option). So in September I write an article on the Top Ten Post Apocalypse Movies. This article ends up getting a lot of monthly traffic, so since AC pays money per every 1,000 views, this article earns me money every single month since I posted it over two years ago.

In fact, this article makes me $10-15 each and every month without exception. This article has made me somewhere between $240-$360 since posting it. I have never gone back to edit it, never re-wrote it, and yet I know that as long as this article is in the search engine rankings for some high traffic terms, I will keep making $10-15 a month, every month, for as long as Associated Content is around.

That is passive income. Now instead of having one article making me $15 a month, every month, that I never have to work on again, imagine if I had 200. That would be $3,000 a month, every month, that I would never have to work to maintain. That is the intrigue of writing for residual income online.

The Problem? Well it's not a problem for driven writers so much as a reality check. It's not that easy to create passive income. If you're willing to learn and work and not give up, then eventually you will make it as an online writer/Internet Marketer. Take a look at this free teleseminar by Jeff Herring to see someone who agrees: If you don't give up, you will make a living online.

The problem is that building a solid online residual income takes a lot longer than getting the one time work-one time pay jobs. So how much time you can split between active income and passive income is going to depend a lot on what your specific needs are as a writer. Do you need to make a lot of money now? Or at least enough to have a little bit extra each month, or do you have time to really spend the majority of your time building a passive income (going the "Internet Marketing" route as opposed to the more conventional freelance writing route) because you have three or four years and no big income concerns except maybe $10 for the next kegger?

Even if you need to make some solid income from your freelance writing relatively early, like a part time or even near full time income, I still strongly suggest to any college student freelance writer, or any other beginning freelance writer, to sow the seeds for the passive income. This type of income takes a long time to cultivate, so the sooner you get started, the better. And no matter how much you love freelance writing for a living there will come a time when you get tired, burned out, and might think about needing a break, or God forbid, quitting altogether before you reach your full potential.

If you don't have any passive income, then you're stuck finding a new job without any income coming in while you want to take some time off. If, on the other hand, you're making $2,000 month in passive income then you have the ability to take time off and relax without worry, or even looking at taking the next step to go further towards full time passive income.

So the hardest part for you will be creating the best balance of active and passive income based on your needs and/or goals. If you need the equivalent of a part time job in immediate income, then more time is going to be spent on more traditional freelance writing resources because you will need to make more money now and so less time is going to be spent on passive income, which has to be looked at as a longer term goal when you're beginning from scratch. If you're a freshman who has student loans and scholarships to cover everything, then you can spend the majority of your time on passive income development: basically setting yourself up with more security than other college graduates can even imagine.

This is the point where a lot of controversy can come up, because there is a very distinct difference between freelance writing online and Internet marketing. The best teachers I've found about passive income fall somewhere in the "Internet marketing" category, or they call themselves something else, but most won't call themselves freelance writers.

Being someone who has learned about several types of Internet Marketing first hand from several "professionals," as someone learning from Grizz about making money online, and as a long time freelance writer I can certainly understand both points of view, and I have a special sympathy for any young freelance writers reading this whose heads are spinning because they thought freelance writing was all about writing - so what's all this passive income Internet stuff about?

The good news is that there are many ways for pure writers to get started with passive income while still learning the ropes The following are a list of sites where writers can get started writing and getting paid via AdSense clicks on their pages. I recommend starting with HubPages because it's easy to get an AdSense account through them, as well as an Amazon Affiliates account through them. These starting places are:


There are advantages and disadvantages to all three. HubPages does a 60/40 impressions split, and allows you to make money not only from AdSense, but also from selling Amazon.com products. HubPages is an authority site, meaning it is much easier to get readers and visitors than from starting your own blog from scratch. This makes it easier to earn money, and helps you learn how Internet Marketing and search engines work while still displaying your natural skills: writing. If you want another long read, this is the best page I've ever seen on making money with HubPages.

Xomba is a website that allows writers to post articles and they get a 50/50 split of the AdSense. Xomba doesn't have the authority of HubPages, but they are building some good authority, and an easy way for beginning online writers to start making money writing articles for AdSense. If there's an opening for a featured writer position, take it. It's a nice extra boost every week or two. One downside is that while links in the articles are allowed, they're "no follow" links as opposed to "do follow." If you don't know what this means, learn. It's a critical part of SEO and learning to make money online.

InfoBarrel offers 75% of every AdSense click to their writers. The good news is that links from InfoBarrel articles or signatures are "do follow," which is very good - but at this point they don't have nearly the search engine authority as the other two sites mentioned. A good way to look at InfoBarrel is as a place where you can gather some great back links, and you just happen to get 75% of any AdSense profit that those articles generate.

There is also a pure writing website not tied to AdSense that you can use to make passive income. The eHow website is one of the best I've found for this. Google "WriterGig" to find out more if my eHow review isn't enough for you. This site they give you an unspecified percentage of the profits that your articles generate, and it did not take long for me to get up to over $100 a month in purely passive income. This was before I was smart enough to apply keyword research and start building links to my eHow articles, as well. If a writer works hard, maximizes their articles' potential, and does the necessary SEO & keyword research then it's not out of the question that in a year someone could be making many thousands of a dollars in passive income a year. A few writers even make that in a month.

So what's left with passive income? Learning. I have several friends online who have taught me almost everything I know. I say almost because after enough time I've begun learning a lot of things on my own, which is the way it should be. If you want to know about passive income, here are the guys to learn from:

Make Money Online for Beginners

Passive Income Online

Video Blogging (Allyn Hane @ Blogger Illlustrated)

The Keyword Academy

-Even if you just scan the free content, it's an amazing tool. The members area is definitely worth every monthly penny.

Read, learn, and repeat. Heck, just look at how I linked to these three sites. I could have said "Grizz's blog" "Lissie" or "Allyn's Blog," but I didn't because those aren't going to be highly sought after terms. However, "make money online" "passive income online" and "video blogging" are terms that people will search for. There's lesson one for all the noobs on what to learn.

This post has already gone on way too long, so I'm going to show some restraint (I know, you don't get much restraint on this freelance writing blog, but here we are), and cut myself off. The passive income lessons are still, in my opinion, far more important than the making money right now - because I know that many people who want to be freelance writers imagine a lifestyle that will be far more achievable with passive income.

So part 2, making money freelance writing now, will be back in less than a week. Until then, I've given you plenty of reading, and plenty to start on. If you're waiting for the next post, get started with HubPages and eHow now. The earlier you get started, the sooner you will reach your goals.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading!

Freelance Writing Blog Update: Instead of doing a traditional part two, I made a monster blog post on what I would do if I could start over again as a college student. You can find that blog post here: The 4 Year College Freelance Writing Passive Income Plan. Beyond this, there will be many website reviews posted on this blog, so just have a look around to find what you're looking for.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Freelance Writing & Blogging

Friends Let Friends Blog Angry

I have to admit, despite a rough year that's still ongoing, I've really enjoyed this freelance writing blog recently. About two weeks ago I received a couple of thoroughly unpleasant and bitter e-mails from former acquaintances who weren't shy on hurling the insults. This led to an important decision on my part as both a writer and a blogger: should I let it go, or should I air out a public response giving my personal feelings on being a freelance writer?

I decided to blog angry, and my rant on being proud to be a freelance writer turned out to be the most well received blog post I've ever had - even though this writing blog has been around for over a year now. This made me smile. Not only did my angry rant hit a chord with many other people, but it doubled the amount of people following me on Twitter, flooded my inbox with positive support, and while 12 comments is a joke to many people - it doubled my old record. Even includes a great back and forth with Lissie from Passive Income Online. Despite her objections to the contrary, Lis is becoming something of a mini online celebrity for those of us who don't believe in A-lister bullshit and really want to learn how to make money online. She has a great sense of humor, and I've enjoyed being able to chat with her. It's good to have friends online.

Did my long ranting blog post give any useful information? In a round about way, yeah. First of all, at the end somewhere in those last two not angry sentences, a very important lesson about being proud of who you are and what you do hopefully came through. I'm proud to be a successful freelance writer. Any freelance writer who is not is going to quit. Really, it's only a matter of time. Just try telling someone you're an Internet Marketer or a Writer, and wait all of 0.2 seconds before seeing a sneer, an arrogant look, or a blank unimpressed face. You must have thick skin, and you need to be able to ignore the armies of naysayers who would LOVE to make you a little bit more miserable.

So I encouraged people to have a thick skin, to have confidence in themselves, and to have pride. It takes a lot of courage to break away from the masses and to work on making your own destiny.

Besides, as angry as I was, all things considered I was pretty mild. At this point, nowhere near Allyn Hane's Rant on Online Scammers. His language isn't even PG-13, so don't open that link at work :) But if you're not familiar with Allyn, he's a big time talent and his videos are really encouraging, as well as enjoyable. It's grade A stuff. If you're looking to move beyond freelance writing to the actual nuts and bolts of making money online (without ripping people off by flogging crap) then he's one of the guys out there you need to keep track of.

But maybe some of the best lessons from my last freelance writing blog post, which actually had very little to do with teaching about freelance writing, are the lessons that aren't abundantly clear. Why did this blog rant get me more followers on Twitter, a huge e-mail response, and a whole lot of comments from new people interested in past posts?

Because say what you will about blogging angry, but my personality definitely comes through in that post. This doesn't mean that all my other posts where I'm the kind patient teacher isn't true. I hope to help out readers who come to this blog. That said, I take pride in being a freelance writer, as the last post indicates, and in anger I decided to through down the gauntlet instead. I wasn't a jerk (well, not a complete jerk), but the rant was honest, heart felt, and the gauntlet thrown down. A lot of people apparently really appreciated this "in your face, won't back down, tell it as I see it" attitude.

After all, who hasn't had a day where they felt that way?

Who doesn't have a friend they love because he/she simply won't take crap from other people?

I think this is the tone that blog post really hits, and that's why it was really a hit. Remember, personality matters when it comes to writing online. This is especially true with blogging. If you don't know what your voice is, then experiment and learn what your voice is. Maybe it's calm but quirky. Maybe it's random and chaotic. Or maybe it's steady and open to teaching...you know, with an occasional roar when someone's picking a fight :)

The next post will be coming soon, and will really reflect a lot of the changes that have been going on with my business model as far as writing goes. During this last recession, normal freelance writing (which usually does very well during recessions) crashed in a lot of ways. Now more than ever, job to job freelancing is harder to do and has less security. Passive income by writing online and learning SEO and Internet Marketing - that should be the goal for every person looking at a freelance writing because that's where the security is.

Until then, thanks to everyone for reading, and remember:

Friends don't let friends blog drunk . . . but friends DO let friends blog angry!

Sounds like I'll have to do a spoof video in the future on that. Later.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Why I'm Not Ashamed to Be a Freelance Writer

With All Due Respect, My Critics Can Bite Me

Well it doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to figure out that I'm feeling a little bit more combative than usual with this blog post. There are a few causes to this, and unlike most of my freelance writing blog posts, I don't even have a basic outline to this one, so this might turn into one of the all time classic ramblers. If that's the case, so be it. No one who's known me since college is likely to accuse me of being too quiet or keeping to myself too often :) As a quick warning - I generally try to refrain from swearing and crudeness, so if you're sensitive to this type of thing, might just want to skim parts of this lightly.

The first basis of this post is simple: I am not, and will NEVER be, embarrassed about being a freelance writer. To me writing is not some some type of dick measuring contest. If you think you're better than me, great. It really isn't my concern. If you've been published in one more magazine or in Chattanooga State Literary Magazine as opposed to the Chattanooga A&M Literary Magazine (I assumed these are made up - so no slight against Chattanooga State if they happen to exist - but maybe against A&M. I'll have to get back to you on that one), great. I'm happy for you. That's not being facetious.

Maybe it's having been around graduate school tool long and academics and creative writing programs, but I've never understood why so often it seems like people believe that individual success has to go hand in hand with tearing others down. I'm not saying all grad schools or creative writing programs are like this, nor all writers. But it does sadden me how often I've run into this, and that every close friend I have who has been through writing and writing programs has been through the same thing.

So recently I've heard from a couple people from my grad school past whom I hadn't heard from in years, and really didn't care to. This wasn't the sole catalyst of my rant, but it was the straw that broke the camel's back. I have no idea how they got a hold of my e-mail address, or why everyone was in a fighting mood, but there are a lot of things in my life people can trash and I just don't care. It's not worth my time to be angry or upset or to lose piece of mind over the bitterness of other people.

That been said, I've wanted to be a writer since I was three years old, when I could first read and write. Yes, you read that right, I was three when I could read and start writing. I've always loved the written word in ALL of its forms, and I refuse to accept any criticism saying what I do is inferior to what anyone else is doing.

I'm not ashamed of being a writer, or having wrote simple articles for online websites. I get paid for my words. People find value in what I write. Even beyond this, I make a living as a freelance writer. A living. I don't make a penny because I have the "right politics" and I don't make a penny because I "know the right people." No one's butt gets kissed, I don't have to sell out my values (I get to turn down any job I simply don't want to do) and above all I get paid for writing. Not teaching.

IMPORTANT POINT: I am in no way, shape, or form bashing teaching. Teaching is one of the most important jobs anyone can do, and a good teacher changes the world - as does a bad one. That said, if you're trashing my writing while making a living teaching (and not writing), then yes, I'm going to take that shot at you because the subject is writing. Do you make a living writing? If not, then be very careful taking a shot at my words, because I MAKE A LIVING WRITING. So you better be able to back up the accusations before trashing my words. This is not a dig on teaching, but at writing teachers who feel privileged to look down on us "lowly" freelancers.

Aside from making a living from my words by freelance writing, there are several reasons why I find being an online freelance writer rewarding. For one, my words aren't read by 20 random people who may or may not pick up a copy of an obscure literary journal. My "views" count from just one website I write on is over one million. That's right, in two years ONE MILLION PEOPLE have read my work online. This isn't including the stuff I've wrote that was ghost written. It may not be Stephen King, but my writing has been read by over a million people. No matter how you try to explain that down, it doesn't change the fact that my words have apparently been seen as pretty useful or worthy by a whole hell of a lot more people than those who still trash me to this day.

Another reason I'm proud to be a freelance writer is simple: it's hard. Yes, given the choice I'd rather write fiction, screen plays, poetry, and other creative writing and get paid full time. That said, being as good a writer as I know I am, I wouldn't give up on freelancing and I would never give up writing online. There's a deep satisfaction from actually being able to talk to my readers through comments, help others get started writing online, and help to change other lives for the better. In addition to this, I've helped shape the online world of the Internet. I find this to be cool. There are literally thousands, if not tens of thousands, of phrases you can type on Google that will bring back an article I either wrote or ghost wrote on page one of the search results.

Beyond this, I don't buy the argument that creative writing is somehow "higher" than freelance writing, or that basic Internet writing is beneath any "good writer." To give my belief on this opinion, I'll quote Homer Simpson: "Bull Plop."

This is crap. If you want to believe that creative writing is a higher form of art, then fine. I have no problem with that very specific statement and description: because the majority of time it will be true. That said, a good creative writer isn't necessarily better than a freelance writer. So I don't buy the crap about that writing being inherently better. I've been paid for my fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and freelance writing. Creative writing is different than freelance writing - but it's not inherently any better.

Case in point: it's hard for even good creative writers to get published BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY OF THEM! There are many great fiction writers out there, many great poets, many great screen writers. Very few of them can actually make a living writing. If there weren't many great writers, it wouldn't be hard for creative writers to get published. Good creative writers are not a rare breed.

Truly good freelance writers are. Only 16% of writers make enough money from writing alone to be above the poverty line (roughly $10,000). I've never fallen below this amount, and beat it by several thousand even in my first year writing, when I had no idea what I was doing, no money to invest in my burgeoning writing business, no writing portfolio, no references, and no mentors to help me. In addition to this fact, the competition for writing jobs has never been fiercer, never been filled with more wannabe mediocre writers, and never filled with more just plain average writers. Even worse: when measured in "real dollars," comparing the value of rates from then to now, rates have dropped OVER 50% since the 1960s.

So if you're in the top 16% of freelance writers in the world, you're doing damn well. I've been there now for four years and counting, and have made as much as $45,000 in a year. I could have made a lot more, but I enjoy freedom of time more than income, and spent my days and weeks accordingly.

Not bad for a "talentless hack," is it?

Most of the writers I've met through college and grad school simply could not do what I do. At least not as well. This might seem like a strange thing to say on a freelance writing blog trying to help others out on the same road, but it's true.

In some ways it's because certain parts of a college, and especially a graduate school, education get in the way. They teach you writing skills, but not the skills that translate into making a living as a freelance writer. What I've said in other blog posts is true: if you work, work, work, and then work some more, you can learn to be a decent enough freelance writer to make a living at it. This is especially true if you learn how to pursue passive and residual income.

That said, since the criticism is coming from former people who I met in grad school, that's where I'm shooting back. And I'll be perfectly freaking blunt to the two who managed to get my goat:

You can't do what I do when it comes to freelance writing.

That's all there is to it. Deal with it. Or read my blog and use it to prove me wrong. Whatever. The second part of my argument with these two is pretty simple:

One of you has nearly thirty years on me as far as publishing creative writing. I'll catch up. The other hasn't published that much more than me. If your book gets published, congrats. I mean that. Getting a book published is really difficult. My novel, "My Brother's Keeper" has twelve rejection letters with detailed hand written comments. Which also begs the question, at what point does the pile become more impressive than getting published?

But this also brings up another reason why I won't be ashamed of being a freelance writer: because this job has proved to me that I can be a published creative writer.


Well two of my favorite freelancing jobs of all time included ghost writing two fictional novels from two outlines and getting them into "publishable shape." Because of the NDA I signed, I can never reveal the titles of these two novels. But I can tell you that both were published, and I smiled widely when I can go to the book store, pick one up, and see my words in print. Yeah, it's not the same as getting my own published, but two books I've authored have been published.

And my graduate school thesis is getting mighty freaking close.

I'm a creative writer and I'm a freelance writer. I can say by income alone that I'm in the top 10% of pure freelance writers in the world. I'm also one of the most flexible freelance writers out there. I've been told by one client I'm the best press release writer they ever had. Another loved my sales letter. Several have told me my content articles are as good as any they've ever received from freelance writers. I have over 20 ghost written e-books that continue to be sold online. There isn't a lot of writing I haven't done at one point or another.

And things are going to continue to get better. There's always a demand for good writing, and as my learning and polishing of my craft continues, I'm only going to get better. Why should I be satisfied with being in the top 10% of freelance writers in the world when I can be in the top 1%? The pursuit continues.

But I will not be ashamed of being a freelance writer. This has opened doors for me as a radio guest on several shows, sharing expertise on topics that include Sinclair Lewis, Upton Sinclair, the American education system, Fascism, dystopias, and the Coen Brothers. I've had lunch with millionaires, traveled all over North America, and even received a personal thank you note from a King. Yes, as in a royal title. Probably the best amazing story I have to tell.

What do I have to be ashamed of?

I'm one of the best in the world at what I do, and I'm getting better. So in the end, those who want to trash my writing can say what they want - but let me Bible thump with "Wisdom is proven right by her children." I have plenty of creative writing (fiction, poetry, & non-fiction) published, and I've been paid for all three. Ghost written novels are in print that have my words on shelves in different bookstores across the country. I've even been published in an International arts magazine.

and as for my creative writing being that of a talentless hack: my 3rd year in grad school, who was the grad student who won the Alaska short story competition and was the only grad student to even place in the poetry contest (3rd)? Oh, yeah, it was the talentless hack who makes a living as the freelance writer and has this blog.

Last shot across the bow: Amazing how in the first year of blind judging I went from never being mentioned to rocking the world, isn't it?

The one other reason for this rant: ignore comment trolls who leave comments talking about everyone writing for less than $20-$25 an hour being losers or hacks. They're idiots and liars who amazingly never have a website to link back to in order to check their back story. I've almost always found that writers who do make full time livings writing aren't egotistical self serving jack asses, they tend to be good people who want to help out beginners.

So I should probably wrap up with something helpful. The number one rule to freelance writing is still the same: get started now. The second rule to freelance writing is this: ignore the trolls, ignore the naysayers, and ignore all the jerks who want to tear you down and destroy you. Unfortunately, there are many people like that in the world. Ignore them.

Or write a blog post destroying their pitiful rhetorical arguments.

Both are good :)

Next time my blog post will be more helpful with freelance writing tips. That I promise...although maybe not quite as entertaining. Everyone take care, take a deep breath, and do one thing today to get you closer to your goals and dreams. Always do one actionable thing to get one step closer to your goals and dreams.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Start Freelance Writing Now!

Get Writing Now to Get Paid Later

Hey all, first of all, thanks for the large number of supportive e-mails. This has been a very difficult year for my family, and the amount of personal notes wishing us well has been very touching. Second, this is going to be a pretty quick post because I have a full and busy week on my plate. So one question that keeps coming up no matter how many posts I write is this: How do I get started? What's the most important thing I need to know? I feel overwhelmed with information, what should I do?

These are all valid questions, and if my answer sounds harsh, I don't mean it to be. But these types of questions are symptoms of what seems to me to be a larger epidemic among writers and/or would be writers. A lot of people want to write for either a part time income, an emergency stop gap in this recessionary economy, or as a full time income. Freelance writing is hard, but it has a lot of allure. So here's my answer:


That's it. There is nothing more important than that bit of advice. Here's one of the things about writing online that I love: there's always an "edit" button. You learn by doing, and by failing, and by learning from those failures to become ridiculously good at making money and succeeding consistently.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't keep learning - but don't freeze up. Writing online is all about persistence, work, and time. If you want to know what you have to do to really get your online freelance writing career going, then here's your step by step guide to getting started by the end of today:

  1. Sign up for eHow, Constant-Content, & HubPages. If you're ambitious, consider signing up for Associated Content and Xomba, as well.
  2. Prepare ideas for 10 eHow articles (10 how to articles), 5 "normal" high quality articles on something you're interested in (for Constant Content), 5 "laid back" articles for Associated Content, and 5-10 articles for Xomba (or Xomblurbs - basically social bookmarking with a small original description you can use to earn with AdSense)
  3. Start writing and publishing. Don't ask another question, don't read another blog post, don't do anything else until you get those articles up and online.
There, now you're started. Yes, there are tons of things you will need to learn to eventually make a full time living online. Yes, you will need to learn stuff like SEO, keywords, passive income, how search engines work, online writing, and multiple income streams - BUT this should NEVER EVER stop you from getting started. Not to be crude, but it's like that old saying: if you wish in one hand and crap in the other, which fills up first?

Freelance writing, especially freelance writing online, requires work and time. The more you write now, the more you learn along the way, the better a writer you will become, and the more ability you will have to speed up your online income when you really figure out what you're doing.

Recently I wrote a post about getting started freelance writing in college, and I think that writing post topic will deserve a deeper delve soon since it no only applies to college students, but to online freelance writers in general. And this blog does provide a TON of information for writers and beginning freelancers, and I'm glad. I want to be a good resource.

But if you haven't started your freelance writing career already, bookmark this blog, sign up for those sites, and get writing. You can learn the rest along the way, but if you really want a chance to make decent money writing online and to start your own online freelance writing career, then get started today...as in NOW!

Thanks again for the kind words, and for those of you who I know have been making a killing on Constant-Content. More will follow soon, but don't let another day go by without doing at least one single thing to move yourself a little bit closer to success.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Master Dayton Blog Update

Master Dayton Blogging Update

Well it's been almost a full month since I last updated the blog, and I am sorry about that for the many people out there who I know have been following this blog and have been waiting for another post. I won't get into the personal details, but in the beginning of July we had to deal with a major family emergency/tragedy, and while facing this family always comes first. I won't go into details beyond that, but it's going to be very hard (God willing the worst any of us will ever have to face) and I will be continuing this blog because normalcy is like humor and faith - you need it most when it seems the most impossible to hold onto.

There has been a lot going on with the writing career that's encouraging. I think the freelance market is definitely beginning its turnaround. Things are still much harder than they were a year ago, but it's not nearly as bad as it was 6 months ago. Even though I did virtually no work at all in July, my residual or passive online income increased almost 70%. I took a few hours to study what I did at the end of June to see if there was something I was doing that might have explained that sudden surge. To my pleasant surprise, the answer was yes. While writing for many different websites, the numbers seemed to show me that in all my experimenting I had stumbled upon what potentially could be one heck of a winning combination - especially when writing for passive or residual income - which makes this particularly interesting and exciting to me.

Right now I'm not going to reveal it because I want to do some very focused testing over the next two months to see if my initial findings still hold up. The good news is that if this works, it's geared far more to writers who learn only a little bit of SEO or Internet Marketing as opposed to Internet Marketers. I know for me and many other online writers, learning the SEO is difficult and somewhat frustrating (I mean we're writers - we want to write, right?). If my testing holds up, you'll still need to know some basic SEO and keyword research, but once you have the basics down you'll be able to focus 90% of your effort on writing. I know if you're naturally more inclined to writing then this would definitely be a bonus.

So that's good news. I'm on the verge of making the $100 monthly threshold for AdSense. While I'm always getting paid bi-monthly now, just hitting that $100 every single month is a major mile stone that is really encouraging. Plus, you just can't complain about an extra Franklin every single month for work that has already been done. My eHow earnings also went up about 68% in the past month, and I just finished a major Power Point project that netted me about $440, with a second one now on the way - just in time for that major dental surgery I need later this month.

I also just picked up some really high paying freelance work this week, and have some leads on some more possible freelance work that might turn into steady gigs. If a few things go right, then maybe fall will be able to turnaround 2009 for me at least financially, if no other way. So in short, there will be many more updates to come, and I plan to continue to add more great information to try to help everyone out. If you're new here, take a look at older posts - I try my best to give away a lot of really good freelance writing advice, especially aimed at beginners, so please feel free to comment on anything you find useful, as well.

So that's it for now. More website reviews, writing advice, and the results of my upcoming two month experiment all coming soon. Good luck writing to everyone, and please feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you think!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Starting a Freelance Writing Career as a College Student

College Students as Freelance Writers

One of the great advantages in the changes of technology is that there exist great opportunities that didn't exist as recently as ten years ago. I graduated from college at the age of 21 back in 2002, and most of the writing websites that allow me to make a living freelance writing online now, the same online writing websites I will continue to recommend to my readers here, didn't even exist back in 2002, or were just looking to begin. How's that for strange? I've been a full time freelance writer in some form or another since 2005 - a mere three years after graduating college I held a job that didn't exist while I was going to college.

So there's no use in me being upset for not making a full time living or having my own full time business while in college because those opportunities didn't exist. But now they do. If you're a freshman in college, or a high school student about to go to college, and you like to write then there is absolutely no excuse for not having a very productive steady income by the time you're out of college - if not a full time passive income even before then.

Being a full time freelance writer does not mean you have to be an English major or use giant words from an extended vocabulary - in fact these things often get in the way. Studies show most adults read comfortably at what is considered a 6th grade level. So for a lot of web writing, this is exactly the level you want to write at. This makes it very easy for most young college students to learn how to freelance write online for a living.

There are many different routes to take. Guru.com and Elance.com are two fantastic sites to start a serious online writing career. It's hard to get started, but as you build a reputation the work tends to snowball, and both sites can provide a full time living with no outside assistance. Rentacoder and oDesk are two other sites I've heard some writers talk up, although I can't personally attest to either since I have not used either.

Even better for college students who want to make money writing is that they have something working for them that most other people don't (and the same applies to grad students as long as they are on scholarship or with a TA or RA job that pays full tuition), and that is time. Two years, three years, four years, even 8 years (assuming 5 year undergrad and 3 year MFA or something to that extent) where free time can be used towards building a long term viable passive writing income from a shoestring budget.

This is where Internet Marketing and keyword research come in. Learning about these topics while sharpening your skills as a writer gives you the time you need and the education you need in order to really make the most money writing online. Combining this with your writing can make websites like HubPages, eHow, Constant-Content, and many others pay off handsomly over the long run.

With time to learn about keywords, how search engines work, and to take this knowledge and have years to write content, there's no reason anyone in this position can't completely control their destinies by the end. College students are in an excellent position to create full time writing careers while still enjoying the college experience - I'm actually rather envious of anyone in that position and young age who has the knowledge and work ethic to be in this position, and I strongly would plead with them not to squander these advantages.

Beyond college students - anyone who is unemployed, going freelance because they were cut off from a steady gig, or just want a change of pace, I always recommend working on the long term income as well as the short term because it does pay off with every hour of work put in, and the sooner you get started, the sooner you control your own hours, your own income, and your own destiny.

Hope everyone is doing well, and have a Happy 4th of July!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Guru.com Review | Guru for Writers Review | Freelance Writing for Guru

Guru.com Review for Freelance Writers

This is one freelance writing review that has been some time in coming. Guru.com is one of my favorite places online for freelance writers to find work. It is an auction based writing website, and is right up there with Elance.com as one of the two top providers of work for freelance writers. I've often heard Rentacoder named as another place for freelance writers to find work, but I can't vouch for them as I've never personally worked there. Ditto for oDesk.

That said, even among all those auction based freelance writing websites, there's no question at this point that Guru and Elance are the cream of the crop as far as that goes. I've worked for both and there are definite positives and negatives with both of these sites. I tend to favor Guru over Elance because I think the interface is much easier for freelance writers to find great writing gigs that fit their skill set. The ability to "watch" 50 projects that you're interested in is a great plus, and you can also set your profile with your specific writing strengths so when you're alerted to new projects, all the new projects are based on your writing skills - not on writing skills you don't have.

So for example, when you're writing for Guru if your strengths are press releases, white papers, and technical writing, you'll receive daily project notifications in these categories. You won't be bothered with grant writing, fiction ghost writing, or anything like that. Not having to wade through the freelance writing jobs you're either not qualified for (or not interested in), allows you to spend more time hunting down the freelance writing assignments that you're perfect for.

Another thing I like about writing for Guru is that there is enough work provided for several writers to make a full time living only working for this website and not having to do anything else. That said, I always advocate multiple income streams for the online freelance writer, but knowing that you could make that much income on Guru.com just goes to show how valuable a resource that this website could be.

The profile section also allows you to upload a LOT of information, and I strongly recommend that you take advantage of this. The reason is that it is hard to get started because there is a star rating system on Guru. Once you get a lot of positive feedback you're in great shape, but getting that first positive feedback can be really hard - especially when you're competing with so many other writers who have already earned five star feedback. The profile page is where you can set yourself apart by putting up a resume with any offline freelance writing experience you have, post a lot of different writing samples, and just make yourself look as good as possible to help capture that first writing job on Guru.

Once you have a couple of five star rankings, getting awarded with freelance writing work on Guru is much easier. It really snowballs. For example, my first five months of writing on Guru earned me: $200, $50, $445, $699, $1,298. June actually made me two grand, so the sharp upward trend continued. There's no reason anyone reading this post can't get there faster.

There's a lot more work for freelance writers to be had on Guru now then there was when I was starting out. In addtion, then they didn't have such a nice profile set up. Add in that all writers now have the ability to block out one feedback from an employer (in case they're one of those types who is unreasonable or just mean spirited) which means one negative feedback that you didn't deserve won't sink you - the way a mediocre feedback from a professional ball buster on Elance sunk me. It's hard to get work with a 4.1 rating when everyone else who worked for reasonable employers had a 4.9 or 5.0. On Guru you have the ability to keep one bad report from sinking you.

As for what membership to sign up for, never take the free basic. There's no point. If you're serious about a freelance writing career, then you need to invest in it. The other caveat to Guru is that it does take time to build a really solid and steady freelance writing income stream. So I don't recommend a one month, or even a one quarter membership. You get a nice discount if you invest in a one month membership to the Guru website, and I strongly recommend that because it's enough money to make you serious about the commitment to become a full time (or solid part time) freelance writer, but low enough that over a year you can easily make that money back. This also gives you the time you need to really get your writing career off the ground and going.

A freelance writing career is never easy, but I like Guru.com as a mainstay of my online writing income and I think a lot of people reading this blog could benefit from making the commitment to write at that site for a year. And if you're a stay at home parent who needs to help make a second income, a laid off worker with unemployment running out, or a college student who just wants to build a business of their own - Guru is a great place for all of these people to start and launch their freelance writing careers.

The least you can ever make on a freelance writing job here is $25, which is less than Elance's $50 minimum, but I also find that it's generally easier for pure starters and novice freelance writers to get started writing at Guru than it is at Elance.

That's a brief review for now. There's so much more to cover I could write an entire e-book on it, but there should be enough information here to get people started, which is always the most important part. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask in the comments.

Keep writing, and remember that a freelance writing career doesn't start until you have the courage to start writing and put yourelf out there. I hope you found this Guru.com review useful.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Summer Writing Update | Brief eHow Review

Summer Writing & Brief eHow Review

Update 04/05/2010: Due to a hugely unpopular move by eHow and parent company Demand Studios, there no longer is an eHow writing program open to writers. If you're looking for other ways to break into writing online, I suggest having a look at my Constant-Content Review or Demand Studios Review (which may also need updating depending how this all goes down). Avoid Helium.com, and keep hacking away at the dream. It may have gotten a little bit harder as yet another employer chose not to respect their writers, but keep at it.

Original freelance writing blog post & original eHow review
First of all, thanks to everyone who has left comments or sent encouraging e-mails. It always feels great to know people are reading your writing, that you're getting some great positive support, and that you're making a difference and helping out. I also want to congratulate those of you who have been doing very well on Constant-Content - an extra few hundred a month is nothing to sneeze at and one of you just cleared $500 in about 4 weeks. Very impressive.

For those of you who haven't read the last post, or caught wind of it elsewhere, I'm in the middle of a major writing marathon. I'm trying to really push for a shift from conventional freelance writing to more of a passive income/residual income mode of making a living writing. I have AdSense blogs, affiliate sales, etc. helping in this pursuit, but I'm naturally a writer first, and so a lot of my focus is trying to really build my online writing in places where it can earn me a good residual income.

So far in 9 days (not counting today because I'm still working) I've wrote 36 articles on eHow, which is right on schedule for my 3.5/day average to make my summer goals, 10 hubs for HubPages for the challenge (putting me behind my ideal schedule), as well as several miscellaneous articles and about a grand in freelance work that's above and beyond my normal weekly projects. Between trying to prepare for a move and everything else going on in the personal life, it's not a bad effort.

Which brings me to a brief review of the eHow website, which I haven't given a thorough look at yet on this blog. After spending long enough writing on this site to give it a fair shake, I have to say this: I'm a Big fan.

One of the things I immediately like about eHow is that it allows you to build a passive or residual income, something that is much more difficult to do with many other online writing websites. In other words, if you write a good article that continues to get traffic, then that article is going to continue earning money for you long after you've finished writing it. It has taken me a few months, sped up by buying and studying (the then available WriterGig's ebook on improving eHow freelance writing earnings) I strongly recommend buying a copy for anyone interested in making a serious passive income with eHow. It's worth the buy - especially since the advice in there had me recoup my investment in one month, so there's not a lot of risk.

Another thing I love about freelance writing for eHow: it's a very easy format. Since the "how to" set up of the website sets up the template for every article, it's very easy to whip up an article in 15-20 minutes if you know what you're talking about. For writers like me, this format helps organize my thoughts, which is not always my strength. For writers who really like step by step formats, they're just going to thrive.

Another plus for eHow is that it can be considered its own income stream for individuals who are also working towards the full time residual income online. What's this mean? The income you get from your articles is from splitting any advertising revenue your articles generate. But you don't use your own AdSense account. This means that your AdSense earnings and eHow earnings are completely separate streams of income. Just as with anything else, diversifying is the key, so having eHow as an income stream is very helpful in the overall writing goals.

Another giant plus is that eHow has a really active and good online community. There are a lot of helpful people here, and you find out pretty quickly that making a lot of money on eHow isn't a random thing: there are several hard working writers on this site who make a very good monthly pay out, and also are often more than willing to share advice with newer less established writers.

Finally, I really enjoy eHow because I've seen solid gains in earnings every single month I have wrote articles for them, and eHow is an authority site. What does this mean? It means Google sees eHow as a trustworthy site, so articles you write for them are more likely to show up high in the search rankings, which brings more traffic, more exposure, and more income. When you're learning about Internet Marketing, AdSense, or how search engines work, you'll learn why this is such a huge deal.

Anyway, this is a semi-brief update because things are still crazy here. Thanks again to everyone reading, and I can't recommend eHow enough. It's a fantastic place to write for a long term passive income. Best of luck to everyone, and keep writing through the recession. Freelance writing is a long term endeavor, but it's worth it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Busy Writing Summer Kicks Off

Insane Summer Writing Goals?

Regardless of what calendars say, to me June 1st has always been the "official" start of summer. As a new season begins, I'm also taking some time to wonder where I should go as far as my own specific writing goals. This isn't just about how much freelance writing work I want to get done this summer or how much I make, but also how I make it. While freelance writing and residual income are not necessarily mutually exclusive, they're not always the same thing, either. One website that is an example of where the two meet is eHow. You write all the articles and content, the website splits the advertising revenue with you. That continues even after you stop writing, making writing for eHow one way that ordinary online writing can be turned into passive month after month income.

I've been freelance writing in some form for about five years now, and I've managed to make a full time living at it since year one. It's not always the most financially comfortable living, but I've done all right and even had some quite good years in there, as well. I've been able to travel, enjoy freedom of schedule, explore the Northeast (especially Vermont), Alaska, and Austin Texas, and I'm on my way to the West Coast and Oregon in a few weeks here, once all the final ducks are set up in a row. But one thing about conventional freelance writing is you're always looking for repeat work, always looking for a new job, and after five years the "boom and bust" way that freelancing works can really wear on you when you're trying to create some form of order or semblance of stability in your life for the first time.

And this is where passive income comes into the picture. I've read Grizz's make money online blog and really appreciate his knowledge and honesty. I've followed a few Internet Marketers like Josh Spaulding and Jeff Herring, signed up for Court and Mark's Keyword Academy, and bought Marisa Wright's e-book on maximizing profits on eHow. I've been extremely happy with all the information this has gained me, and have been struggling between some health issues, personal issues, and family issues to put all of this information into action. I'm just hitting the point where enough has cleared up that this looks possible - although that move to Bend, Oregon, coming up in a few weeks is definitely consuming some major time.

So what's all this mean? It means that while I'm going to keep writing website reviews and giving advice on how to make a living freelance writing, I'm also going to be spending the next several months shifting most of my efforts to making passive and residual income: income that is going to keep paying me for my writing long after the actual blog posts, websites, articles, etc have been written.

Most of my writing the past year and a half was for an employer in Austin, Texas, who is an Internet Marketer. I'm withholding the name simply out of respect because I'm not sure what's considered "appropriate" or not. I was hired for 14 months and change, and then let go. There's no ill will: I was treated fantastic the entire time, had a great face to face talk about the situation and decision, received glowing endorsements of my work, and I still gladly freelance for them on a monthly basis. But that time in Austin was my dream job: get the writing done wherever and whenever you want, just get it done. Remote location working - and Austin is a great city to have that perk!

Then, it was over. So with passive income and residual income, imagine the security you would have if you knew you were making enough off of past work to make a full time living even if you didn't write anything new all year. Imagine if you had two or three different income sources that were providing you with a full time yearly income online. Aside from the obvious complete freedom of movement and freedom of time, there's also the security factor of not ever having to rely on someone else for your own livelihood.

So that's what I'm working towards now. When I first move into Bend, I'm going to have no TV, I'm not going to know anybody in the area, and no video games or other distractions. This makes it a great time to really buckle down on the work and see what I'm capable of producing in a short time period like a summer. My student loans are in deferment (I can rant again about the politics and waste of money grad school often is - but I digress), and I really don't require that much to live if I trim the budget down to true necessities.

So I've done a lot of really hard thinking about what I want to do as a freelance writer, what kind of writing really excites me the most, and what my writing goals for the summer should be to get me from another freelance writer struggling with this gawd-awful recession, to someone making a full time income off of passive online sources. Right now I can look at a couple hundred and change in completely passive income per month. I'd like to push that to three grand or more.

I work best with a clear plan that still gives me freedom to improv my way there. In other words, I do best with general goals, but don't do as well when I break that down all the way to strict day by day guides.

So for the next three months, here's what I'm shooting for to try and make that transition from freelance writer to writing for passive income online:

  1. 22 niche websites monetized with AdSense or Affiliate links
  2. 10 micro niche blogs monetized
  3. 150 new hubs on HubPages
  4. 300 new eHow articles
  5. 10 Clickbank campaigns by using PotPieGirl's Squidoo lens strategys (50-70 lenses)
  6. Get this blog up to 100 visitors a day and look at monetizing it
These are the main goals, and not even listed will be the normal freelance writing work, more articles to add to Constant-Content, and the heavy amount of article marketing and link building to get these articles, hubs, lenses, blogs, and websites onto the first page of Google for their respective niche keywords. The link building and article marketing in theory should take even more time to get these all to first page Google than even the actual writing.

This is also in addition to moving across the country and picking up some extra freelance work from Guru.com in order to help pay for the expenses, as well as improving what I already have set up and earning for me. I'm not naive: getting all this done without outsourcing means I'm looking at 12-16 hours a day, almost every day of the summer. And you know what, to take a shot at the life that a full time passive income could offer me, I'm willing to do that. I can rest in September when 90%+ of my work will be analyzing results and building backlinks.

I posted those goals because that's a great encouragement to me. Now it's out there, published, where anyone can see it (and ask about it) later. I'll update my own progress over the summer while still adding posts that hopefully all the rest of you will find helpful.

I guess this post also points out something else I believe about freelance writing. This advice also works for probably any process that helps you earn money online. If you're going to go, go all out. If you're going to work for something, shoot incredibly high. If you shoot for the moon and miss, you might still make it up to space. If you shoot for the mountains and miss, you're still stuck in the hills.

Freelance writing isn't easy, but it has benefits I wouldn't trade for the world. That said, even the most happy traditional freelance writer, in my opinion, would be a fool not to also invest in passive income for now and the future.

That's all for now. I hope all of you are doing well, and keep on writing. As always, my one bit of advice is get started writing online right now!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

This Recession is Hard on Freelance Writers. Too.

Freelance Writers Are on Hard Times, Too

Usually during the past decade and change, a recession was not something that freelance writers had any reason to fear. In an odd pattern, technology had made it so that many times freelance writers were doing better in recession than out of it. When full time writers at companies were let go, and internships cut, the work still needed to get done.

Why pay an employee $15 an hour for an article (if employees on pay roll were even that proficient) plus paying 1/2 of their Social Security taxes (which all companies do for employees), plus pay matching 401-k, plus pay for the vacation days and sick days being piled up, plus unemployment taxes, plus pay for any insurance or bonuses when you can pay a freelancer $13-14 an article for the same level of work or better, with none of the extra expenses? Using a freelancer also eliminates overtime.

Because of this, during minor recessions many freelance writers would actually see more work, be able to charge fair market prices for their work, and actually make a pretty solid living without the same level of effort that it took when jobs were more scarce.

But this recession, which was barely prevented from being blown out into an all depression, things are different. This is the first time I've ever seen a dip in the economy that not only affected freelance writers the same way as every other profession, but flat out leveled a lot of the consistent work that I was used to seeing out there. Many of my friends who freelance said the same thing. Some saw their incomes slashed in half or worse, and the competition for the scraps that are still around is as fierce as it's ever been.

The "what to do about it" question is hard. Some writers are re-opening Guru.com or Elance.com accounts that they had ceased needing to use. Others have had to cut back heavily on the at home expenses. I lost my full time writing position (and dream job) back in November. I freelance a lot more to make up for the lost income, but I had to put all my student loans on deferment and am working harder than I've had to for the jobs that are available. There are more quality writers willing to work for less to fill the gap. My average hourly rate has also dropped from $16-18 an hour down to $10-11. There's simply not as many willing buyers at the higher level anymore, especially since there are good writers who are dropping down to the latter level, which is causing an avalanche effect.

So if you've been a fairly successful freelance writer and are now struggling, don't take it personally and don't question yourself. Right now it's a hard time for most freelance writers. All you can do is keep at it, build some passive income sources to help over the long term, and build yourself a solid base. If you can make it in this economy, you'll absolutely thrive when it starts to bounce back. If you're a beginner, don't let this post discourage you. If you can start from scratch and make it in this economy, you'll thrive when things turn around.

I just wanted to write this post because I haven't seen a lot of writing about how the current economy is affecting freelance writers, and I think this is a fair subject. Is online freelance writing still a place where people can go to make a nice side income, or even a full time income? Absolutely. But right now it is harder than it was 12 months ago, and I think it's important that writers of every level understand what the freelancing situation is right now.

That's all I have for now. I will say don't give up. The past month work has really picked up for me, and it's decent paying - not "oh holy shit I need to make rent by Friday" gap jobs. I've also noticed that ALL of my passive income streams (Associated Content, Constant-Content referrals, Squidoo, HubPages, AdSense, Affiliate sales, eHow, etc.) have increased for the third straight month. This is why passive income and making money online with more than one source is so important. Even if I did nothing for the next month, at a worst case scenario ((and when I say worst case, I take that phrase to a ridiculously improbably level)) that combination will still net me over $300.

During a recession that's nothing to sneeze at, especially when it's all coming from work that's been done and over with for months, if not years. Read this blog, including past posts, and if there's anything you want to know, don't be afraid to contact me. I'll help if I can. I'm a firm believer in what goes around comes around, and something at least akin to karma really does work in the Universe.

Until the next post, I hope everyone reading this is doing well, and don't be afraid of freelance writing during a recession. We all have to work through this, and the pay offs will be huge if you can just stick with it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Master Dayton Freelance Writing: May Updates

Freelance Writing Blog Update

Hello all. First of all, thanks for the kind words from the many of you who have left comments or sent e-mails offering support during some hard personal times. Always greatly appreciated. The good news is that things have managed to work out better than I could have possibly hoped for, and this blog is far from dead. There will be far more posts in the future as I work towards a twice daily posting regiment. I also have some good friends and fellow writers who have agreed to do guest posts in the future, and I'm look forward to having them on here, as well.

There's even a chance of looking to move this blog to a much nicer location, maybe even with its own URL, but that's definitely further in the future if that's going to happen.

Anyway, there are a few things that are worth updating to this point:

There have been some really cool developments over the past couple months. Some of these are very specific to making money freelance writing, while others might be along the more general "make money online" arena - which also generally involves a lot of writing.

First of all, if you've read this blog for very long at all, you know I'm a big fan of Constant-Content. There have been a lot of changes over there recently. One update to those of you who have been writing there and maybe referring others: you now get 5% of the sale from a referred author, not 10%. Still, it comes from the website's cut, so this isn't a bad deal. Right now I'm seeing about $15-20 a month from referred sales, which is incredibly encouraging because this means some people have actually taken my advice and are working and earning some decent change writing for this website.

The Constant-Content website has undergone a really radical make over, and in my opinion it's definitely for the better. The site looks better, is easier to navigate, and that new $5 pay out level is definitely a huge plus. If you haven't been over there in a while, it's a good a time as ever to check it out.

#2 Freelance Writing Update: If you've been looking at HubPages (and the Google AdSense and Amazon/eBay affiliate sales that can come with it) but haven't taken that extra step to jump in yet, well now's the time to do so! One of the few gurus I subscribe to (even literally in this case) is Courtney Tuttle, and Courtney started the Hub Challenge. He is shooting for 100 hubs in 30 days to see what the full potential of earnings from HubPages can be. Many others who think 100 might be a little too ambitious, are shooting for 30 hubs in 30 days, which is the same route I'm taking.

What I love about this challenge is that it forces action, and that's the most important part of any freelance writing or online endeavor. If you haven't heard about this, but might be game to get started, take a detailed look at HubPages TOS (because they don't except purely promotional or pure crap hubs) and take a look at the details of the Hub Challenge here:


or here:


HubPages is a great way for writers to learn how online income sources like affiliate marketing and Google AdSense work while polishing (and showing off) your writing skills. Over time, there is also great potential here for passive income.

If you haven't signed up for HubPages and started in on the challenge, I strongly reccomend this as a way to get going. Even if you do something small, like 15 hubs in 30 days or even 10 in 30, at least you'll be doing something and you'll get started learning how the Internet works for those trying to write for money online.

#3 Freelance Writing Update: I'll have a myriad of detailed reviews coming soon, including one on eHow, now that I've written there long enough to have an idea of how viable it is for passive income. If you've looked at eHow, it has a very nice set up for authors, and I've been pretty impressed with the returns, especially considering how little I've "done things right," or the fact that I've done no keyword research and generally have wrote there sparingly as opposed to really hammering away at it. I'm thinking this summer maybe I'll have to do my own ehow challenge: 150 articles a month, for 450 in a summer. I did find my earnings went up considerably after reading WriterGig's ebook. I do reccomend it if you're serious about writing and earning on ehow.

A few final words for beginners: Get started! Take the time to write five great articles for Constant-Content and submit them after proofreading and review. Join the Hub Challenge and get some hubs going online! Pledge to write 500 ehow articles over the course of the year, but sign up and do something!

There will be a lot more information coming, even as I'm preparing for a move to the West Coast. Speaking of which, if anyone reading is familiar with the Bend, Oregon, area, and has some tips, feel free to contact me with any advice! Hope everyone is doing well. Take care, and I look forward to keeping this freelance writing blog up for the future. Thanks for reading, now go write!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Freelance Writing Advice: Writing & Staying the Course

Freelance Writers Write

This will be a relatively brief post until I get back into full swing in May. I think the single hardest part of getting started as a freelance writer is actually having the courage to get started. I was fully prepared to make a living as a freelance writer a full couple years before I actually did - but I read and read and read and studied and heed and hawed, and waited. This was out of fear. What if I failed? What if I succeeded and it still wasn't enough? There was no way to fail or ever know about the drawbacks if I didn't jump in and try.

And in fact, I never did try until life (and a car) crashed so hard that I had no other choice. I started on a tower system that had main components from three different computer systems, a partially burned out mother board, and a CD Rom drive held in by folded cardboard and bubble wrap. It was a miracle this thing turned on, but with that computer and a dial up Internet, I started the first tenuous steps of my freelance writing career.

The hardest part of any endeavor is always getting started. If you read a lot about making money online, you'll see the same thing there as I'm saying here. You can't be a freelance writer if you don't write. You can't make money if you don't work. And researching doesn't count. Work means doing something that produces results. If you want to be a freelance writer, go ahead and read all these posts - I try to include solid information that will get you moving, but above all else, GET STARTED!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Where Is Master Dayton, Freelance Writer?

The Freelance Blogger Returns

As some of you have noticed, and been kind enough to e-mail me about, I haven't been around "Master Dayton" in a while. In way too long, in fact. One post in March and none until mid April is way too long an absence, and I completely apologize for that fact. Freelance writing is not easy, and part of what can make things even rougher is that when things going chaotic and bad in the personal life, you still need the discipline to work and keep the income coming in even when money is the absolute last thing on your mind.

This has been a very rough several weeks for me, and as to the kind questions about if I'm doing all right, the answer is "not really." But I'm hanging in there best I can, trying to deal with things best I can, and while there were a large number of things on my plate, the personal meant some things had to be put to the side, and link building, online marketing, and all my blogs were on that list, unfortunately.

This freelance writing blog is my favorite of all of my blogs, and one that I really enjoy since I get so much interaction with my readers and because I really like sharing the knowledge I have and hope that more and more people are helped out by it.

So the short answer to another question that has come up a few times recently: No. This is not a dead blog. I intend to get back to regular blogging soon, and am actually excited about the prospect of having some guest bloggers in the short term future for both the freelance writers and the creative writers. There will be more website reviews, more freelance writing advice, and a lot more in the future.

So thanks for the kind words and understanding, and you'll see me back around here in the weeks ahead, hopefully with some good friends who can make this blog better than ever! Until then, keep on freelance writing and build the dream.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

She Listened, She Acted, She Made Money Freelance Writing

She Made Money Writing for Constant-Content!

This was a pretty good week for this freelance writer. This is just one of those times where the writing jobs are flowing in, nagging problems were all resolved and wrapped up nicely, and best of all, I received a great e-mail from Lesley Anderson sharing her great freelance writing news (I censored the amount the article sold for out of respect):

"Hi there!

I left a comment on your blog awhile back when I found it and read about Constant Content. I believe I used your affiliate link to sign up, and I've sold my first articles! I just thought I would pass it along because it's thanks to you that I found that website, and now hopefully we both get to share a bit of the wealth. I sold a couple usage articles for just a few dollars, but this morning I sold my first full-rights article for $XX! It was a response to a public request and took me all of a half hour to write. I can't believe it. I was so skeptical and it actually worked. Hopefully I can keep this up and make both of us a bit more money!

Thank you again for introducing me to constant content, and I'll be sure to keep checking back at your blog as things continue.

Take care!"

Lesley gave me permission to print this e-mail about her big sale on Constant-Content in the blog post, and I thank her and congratulate here once again. The main reason I started this blog was because I wanted to share the enormous amount of information I've learned during my freelance writing journey and to help others. This applies whether it's getting a head start on life (college students), get some critical extra side income (disabled, retirees forced to work, unemployed) or to just avoid the many costly mistakes I made early on as a writer.

That's why an e-mail like Lesley's is so encouraging to me! I'm going to reveal some numbers that I usually wouldn't, because I'm hoping that this, along with Lesley's e-mail, will help encourage others to take the jump and help improve their lives with the extra income and freedom that freelance writing can provide.

From affiliate links, I have recommended 166 authors to Constant-Content as of this post (the 10% I get comes from the website's cut, not the author's, otherwise I wouldn't ever use the affiliate link), and of that group only only about 15 have written anything. Six of those people wrote one article and that's it. 9 have written two or more articles. Only two seem to have written more than one or two before giving up. Out of those 9, all 9 have sold at least one article.

Lesley sold another article tonight while I was writing this post - I may have that information before she even does. This means out of 166 people, only 2 have given anything close to a serious effort, and it has paid off pretty well for both of them, and I'm confident that it will continue to do so.

What's the difference? Lesley read my blog, then she took action by signing up, then she took action again by actually writing and posting articles to Constant-Content. That's it. She put in the effort, and that's the difference. It's actually ridiculous how often I see a commission that comes from an author who wrote one article and that's it. If there are that many articles selling, why not keep at it? Even one or two a week means by the end of the year you'll have some decent side income. Do that for a few years, and that can be a vacation fund, a retirement fund, or even a springboard to a better life.

So if there's anything you can learn from this post, aside from the fact I'm a sucker for a good news e-mail, is PLEASE follow Lesley's example and take action. Her testimony proves that this can work.

So thanks again for sharing, Lesley, and here's hoping to many many more successful articles sold at Constant-Content and elsewhere for you and everyone else reading!