"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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Freelance Passive Writing Income: And a Vacation Update

Passive Writing Income Opens Up the World

Well this should be an enjoyable post. I've just finished my third week of travel/vacation out of four, and after a week enjoying North Carolina and then Tampa, Florida, this week is already up and kicking in Las Vegas. And we're not talking New Mexico here, people. While I've attempted to start this post several times in the past week, well vacation has been great and there is always a lot to see in the city, so the tenses of this post might not completely match, and I'm going to try and be a little bit less long winded than usual since I am on vacation and there's so much more to be out doing and seeing. But I figured it would be nice to get in one freelance writing blog post before Christmas.

This has been somewhat of a work vacation, as I've put in about four hours of work every Friday, but many days on vacation I haven't done any. And on some of the other days, I've only worked a couple hours a day, using free or rented Wi-Fi and a laptop to get online and type some articles, or use my Dragon Natural Speaking Software (this is an affiliate link, but I strongly recommend this software after a couple months of use and will be doing a more in depth review on it later) to really get some done quickly in a shorter time. So it might not be a 100% no work vacation, but I haven't worked more than 8 total hours any of the last four weeks, and the reason this is possible is not only because of a little bit of savings, but because of the way that passive income opens the door for this type of trip. In a limited way, so does freelance writing since it only takes a laptop and Wi-Fi, but then you have to work a lot more on each week of break than you otherwise would.

During these four weeks I've received over $300 from Google AdSense, $250 from Amazon's Affiliate program, $150 from my eHow articles, $90 from Yahoo! Contributors (formerly Associated Content), $13 from Suite101, $125 from Squidoo, $40 from eBay and $700 from other various sources of passive or semi-passive income. Taking a month long vacation is much easier when you're receiving $1,665 from work that you've already done while on vacation - and it definitely helps you to stretch out the savings. This is part of the reason I so adamantly believe that all freelancers should spend some time building up their passive income streams. The number of hours or days I "have to work" shrink dramatically when a flow of money is coming in from various resources. Even the number of days you can qualify as "I should work, but I don't really have to" also shrinks dramatically when enough money comes in to pay the bills.

This also makes traveling more enjoyable. What stopped me the most early on was that I spent way too much time reading and trying to learn everything there was to know instead of actually building blogs, writing articles, and building sites. And when I started Grizzly's famous make money online for beginners blog was available as an excellent resource, before Google and a few jerks (you know, the ones who try to ruin everything for everyone) hammered away until it was no more. Even if that blog was still available for all of you, it would be a bad idea to do too much research and not enough doing.

There are several reasons for this, not the least of which are:
  • Online marketing and passive income changes constantly. While the basic cornerstones remain the same, there are constant changes in how pages are ranked, what links are most effective, and other tweaks to the best ways to rank pages and make passive income. Because of this, you can NEVER learn 100% of what there is to know before getting started.
  • You can always learn while you are setting up money making pages. Not only is this smarter because you will learn the most by actually doing, but instead of sitting on the sidelines you will be beginning to make the articles, HubPages, and websites you need to build up your passive income.
  • Age matters. The older a website or article, the more authority it has in the search engines and the easier it is to rank on top. So the sooner you get started, the sooner your pages will age and the more they will make for you.
  • Did I mention that actually doing is the best way to learn this business and you can fill in the details while you're writing online?
  • Passive income is partially a numbers game. The higher the numbers, the more winners you are going to have, the more money you will make, and the more likely you are to have a large number of articles or pages that you can tweak to turn into good earners once you learn more about passive income.
  • Paralysis by Analysis is the most common thing that stops people from making it online
  • And finally, almost everyone I know making passive income states that their one big regret was not jumping in and getting started sooner or waiting too long before starting, or something else along those lines.
One of the great things about writing for passive income online is that you get to correct your mistakes and improve your sites down the line. You don't have to ever be perfect, and certainly not up front.

Use that information to encourage yourself to get moving. You can always revise your HubPages later, move ads around on your blogs and websites, and write more articles that are better focused. You're not going to get hurt earning online passive income because your articles or pages aren't perfect when you're starting out. At least by having pages out there you have the ability to earn - someone with all the knowledge in the world and 0 sites is worth $0.00. A person with a badly put up site with no good keywords at least has an outside chance at something.

So this is one of those basic "motto" posts which can be summarized easily: get started and work consistently. If that means something as simple as only one HubPage and one InfoBarrel article a week and one Ezinearticle to both, then so be it, but put in the work. It's worth it, and you'll be glad you did down the line. And if you're ready to really invest in your business, then read this Keyword Academy Review to get a true sense of where the next step is for the true beginner.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I Haven't Updated My Resume Since 2006

Freelance Writing Benefit: No Resume Games

First off, let me add an important caveat to the title, that being that I'm not saying having a good resume isn't important or that freelance writers shouldn't have resumes. I'm just saying that I haven't updated mine since 2006 and honestly I'm not keeping a conventional resume any more because I don't have any intention of getting an "honest job" (whatever that means) again.

My personality made me clash with authority even before I worked for myself, so really, in many ways I'm probably pretty unemployable at this point unless my boss let's me do my own thing as long as the job gets done. But one of the advantages to a freelance writing career is that after a certain amount of time, depending on how well you set up your business, you don't need a resume anymore. I stopped updating mine in 2006, when it became clear that getting into academics was a nightmare I wanted nothing to do with, and that the boss of the job I was interviewing for had exactly 0 interest in my resume and was only interested in my writing skills and at how efficiently I could keep growing and adapting into producing the type of writing that was actually useful to him.

Now don't get me wrong, I do keep track of special accomplishments, list of clients I've worked for (or continue to work for), and places published and earned awards. But as for organizing everything into a writer's resume, I don't bother. There's no reason to. Between steady clients and my growing passive income, there just isn't any reason to. Aside from the fact that the way I was taught to write a resume in college is now "completely wrong and outdated" why do I need an updated resume? Maybe down the line if I want to spend some free time teaching as an adjunct because there are a couple classes I'd really enjoy designing (such as one on online freelance writing that college students could actually use and turn into paying work), I love working for myself and am not willing to give that up.

For beginning writers, a freelance writing resume is essential as you build up a client list, learn the ropes, and still have to sell yourself in query letters time and time again. If you're also someone who doesn't mind writing for a company or in the corporate world, then a resume in addition to copies of published articles (your "clips") are very important. However, one of the great advantages of being a freelance writer is that word of mouth is a powerful way to gain new work as one impressed client will suggest you to others looking for a good and RELIABLE writer. I still can't believe all the horror stories of flaky and terrible writers who don't respect their clients and make the rest of us look bad.

If you're a good and reliable freelance writer, just keep marketing yourself and over time between steady clients and word of mouth, you'll get to the point where you have all the clients you need and possibly a backlog to boot. Another key point here: passive writing income definitely helps out this process a great deal. The day you work for yourself only, with no other clients, I'm sure is also a great day - and one I'm rapidly working towards. Never ignore passive income even if 90% of your time has to be spent on freelancing - a situation I'm used to. However that 10% of time I've spent just over 3 years (because the first 2 years I did ignore the passive income) building passive income has me almost half way to a full time passive income. I'd probably be there by now had I started right away, but the point is that even small baby steps over time will add up to hundreds, then thousands, of dollars a month. You'll be very glad you did not neglect this point.

So what does not updating my resume since 2006 have to do with anything? Well to me it's symbolic of a lot of things that I love about the freelance writing life style. There's a definite independence. Not only do I not worry about finding a new job, I don't worry about getting fired from an old one. There's no being pissed off at being passed over for promotion over and over again or having someone else take credit for your work (unless you're a ghost writer getting paid very handsomely to do just that). There's no worry about whether or not I can compete with experienced veterans or eager newcomers willing to work for less - employers do not let go of excellent reliable writers. No worrying about "having to" beef up a resume or "what about that gap" or "how can I make this sound impressive?" None of that.

Not to say I haven't written resumes since 2006 - I have...but other people's for $50 a pop :) The point here is that a skilled writer willing to take the lumps, learn the business, and push through the frustrations and muck then you can become completely independent of all the worries that plague so many daily grind workers who deserve better. I haven't updated my resume since 2006, and you know what, that might be the last time I ever do.

So how long has it been since you had to update your resume? How hard would you work to make sure you never had to do so again? This might not be right for everyone, but these are questions that might give you that little bit of motivation you need to get moving with the online writing. Imagine never having to prepare a resume again because you were secure. What would that be worth to you?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Last Writing Post Before a Freelance Vacation

Freedom to Write on the Road

If there is one giant benefit to freelance writing, especially when the majority of my work is done online (and nearly 40% of my income is passive) is that when it's time to take a vacation...or just wander off for a while, that's exactly what I can do. There is no office I have to be at, no location where I "must" be to do my job. Have Wi-Fi, get paid for working. So over the past year I've been back in Cedar Rapids, Iowa building my business, taking care of personal matters, and trying to clean house and figure out what's next for me.

Part one is part doctor's orders and part just long overdue. After a very stressful year and too much working in 2010, (not to mention serious wanderlust that hasn't been seriously fed in 2 years) there's no question that it's time for a good vacay, and there is little that relaxes me more than traveling. So I'm going on a vacation, also a "work vacation" for the rest of the year.

Next week I'll be taking the train east to visit one of my best friends in North Carolina, who is fulfilling his life dream of going to college at the age of 30 - a life dream that was delayed by a hard life. After hanging out for a week, it's a road trip to Tampa, Florida where he can visit his family for Thanksgiving, and I can visit my Dad for Thanksgiving. A week after that I'm flying for my return trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, where I'll be meeting some of my best friends from Alaska who I haven't seen in years.

After that, a week in Austin to see some of my old friends and scout out apartments for a return next year and a nice train ride home with a few days in St. Louis before getting back to Iowa in time for Christmas.

How can I do this? Because as a freelance writer all I need is Wi-Fi, whether it's Asheville North Carolina, Tampa Florida, Las Vegas Nevada, Austin Texas, St. Louis Missouri, or back to Cedar Rapids Iowa. I've worked my butt off the past six weeks to pay off the bills, set myself up to be able to coast out the year and take this vacation with minimal work.

Now I'm not 100% passive income, and that passive income level isn't where it needs to be so I can "not work," but I'll be enjoying life a lot more than most people stuck in a career. Every Friday for the next five to six weeks I need to work 4 hours a day in the morning. Otherwise, it looks like 6-8 hours a week will be more than enough to handle expenses, give me a decent bit of spending money and cover all the bills. For me, visiting some of my favorite cities and some new places altogether is going to recharge me in incredible ways, with or without work.

The freedom of a freelance writing lifestyle is what allows me to end a year like this, and while I'm on break no worrying about saving up for bills, no worrying about getting extra work, and no worrying about building passive income or writing my next e-book. I'm going to do the minimum work to finish out 2010 and recharge my batteries to be prepared to go full force in 2011.

This also serves the important function of reminding me not to pigeonhole myself, because being a freelance writer offers freedoms and an openness to planning life that gives me the opportunity to do amazing things and enjoy an amazing life - as long as I don't let old habits or practices get in the way and change my thinking to make a freelance lifestyle just another job.

Not everyone is going to have the same goals or desires that I do. I love travel. ALWAYS have. For other people that's not the goal, but simply having the ability to move around, to work in different places, and to have that control over your life is a huge relief and maybe the biggest benefit of being a freelance writer.

Being at my breaking point, having the ability now to travel, to spend a week at five different places (most I love, one I haven't ever visited) and to only have to work a grand total of 10-12 hours a week at the most to do it is huge for me. For those of you who are more motivated by the possibility of living out your dreams as opposed to written goals to achieve (i.e. earning enough to take a 6 week work vacation as opposed to a goal of 'write 100 articles' and then doing it), take the time to really look at what you love out of life and use that as motivation. I find it easier to have at least one or two reminders of things I have done and want to do again - this is easier for me to imagine as opposed to going somewhere I've never been or doing something I've never done.

This doesn't mean I don't have to work for a break - I've pushed myself pretty hard the past few weeks, but now I get to enjoy the pay out, and while this shouldn't be the last freelance writing blog post before 2011, I'm not sure if I'll be posting over my break. Basically if I feel like it I will, and if I don't then I won't. That's the beauty of a freelance writing vacation, as well - I get to choose my schedule.

So I hope everyone is doing well, keep up your writing goals, and if you're finding a hard time getting motivation then think of the things you want or the ideal lifestyle you could enjoy from making a full time living as a freelance writer. Spend some time reflecting on these goals or ideals, then map out the first steps you can take to get there.

So take care, and for now I'm outta' here!