"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.

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.