Writer's Mind

Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. ~Sylvia Plath

That’s Not How It Works! – 12 Freelance Writing Myths to Dispel

Posted in Freelance Writing2 Comments

“You freelance writers are all {insert assumption here}!”

And you just stare at the other person with widened eyes and mumble “But… that’s not how it works…”.

As a freelance writer myself, I have been there so many times, home and outside of home, that I have collected plenty of myths (or just wrong assumptions?) over the years about “writers without a boss” and the life we chose for ourselves.

The problem with such myths is that they can undermine your confidence in pursuing your career.

It’s why I had to get this post done quickly. To help you stay strong as a freelance writer — and to open non-freelancers’ eyes about what being a freelancer really means.

So, what myths about the freelance writing career do non-freelancers believe?

Below is my list of 12 wrong assumptions about our lifestyle. ;)

1. Freelance writers are lazy

You know, we sit in front of a computer all day long, playing videogames online and wasting our precious time on Twitter, Facebook and other social media…



Freelance writers working from home or from a office are not lazy for the simple fact they sit comfortably at their desk and you can see them updating their accounts quite often.

Social interactions are part of the job. It’s the marketing and networking aspect of freelancing. We need to talk to people if we want people to know we exist and what services we provide.

Also, working from home is not for the ‘lazy’ at all. It’s actually easier to work in a office where you can focus on your work only. Home is filled with distractions and often with family members trying to snatch you from your duties. It takes great discipline to work from home and sit at your desk, in your room or in the living room, for several hours in a row, working your way through completion of an assignment, no matter what happens in your surroundings.

So no, freelance writers are not lazy at all. Don’t let this kind of comments discourage you (yes, we’re pretty tough people!).

2. Freelance writers can’t make a living for their own

We can’t make a living for our own (and our families) only if we charge rates so low that they won’t cover the bills and leave enough to bring food to the table.

A freelance writing career is a career like any other. Ultimately, for success to happen, you’ll need to stick with your work ethics and your rate list.

An example of success? Freelancer and author Carol Tice of Make A Living Writing. Her blog is proof that freelance writers definitely can make a living doing what they love the most.

3. Freelance writers overprice for easy work

This myth involves two assumptions– one, that freelance writers charge too much for a gig; two, that easy work should be low cost.

The fact is that ‘easy work’ doesn’t exist. No task is ‘easy’ when taken seriously, and a freelancer who can do something quickly and efficiently can do so because they have matured years of experience and problem solving, and so they should quote fair (and definitely NOT low) rates for their competencies and the value they provide to clients.

Professional, experienced freelancers who work with companies and high level projects charge average to high rates and they are entitled to do so. A beginner may temporarily charge less to get their foot in the door, but a good prospective client knows that constant bottom-of-the-barrel rates are a sign that a freelancer may be too inexperienced or unreliable for their needs.

So don’t undercharge. Don’t go below average just because non-freelancers think you should.

You’ll be doing a disservice to yourself and your clients.

4. Freelance life equals underpaid for life

When Myth #3 gets in your systems and begins to influence the way you price your services, you make Myth #4 a reality.

Freelancers are workers like any others, so you are entitled to fair pay for your work. To undercharge all the time and put yourself under a lot of stress to make ends meet every month doesn’t do justice to yourself as a person and a worker, nor to your client.

The only way to make this myth die forever is to charge rates that are respectful of your and your client’s needs.

Once you set a minimum rate for a certain type of task, never go below that; only go up when the project requires more work.

5. Freelance work (and writing, maybe?) is not a “real job”

Awkward myth, but it takes from the perception of “real work” as a synonim of “employee work”.

What’s the definition of “real job” in people’s minds, after all? The sight of an employee doing subordinate, 9-to-5 work, Monday to Friday. Sometimes, if someone is really powerful in their position, these people will accept being a CEO or a running a company or a shop as a “real job” as well.

The truth is– every job is a real job. If you do something in order to earn a living, you have a job. It’s that simple.

Freelance writing is a real job. A writer has real clients and offers real services to them. The fact that freelance writers usually work from home or private office, and alone, doesn’t make it less than a job.

Don’t abandon your career to get a “real job” just because people around you push you to do it. Only do so if you have a real reason to change career path, as Daisha Cassel explains in her Renegade Writer post titled “5 Signs it’s Time to Quit Freelancing and get a “Real Job”“.

6. To sell yourself as a freelance writer, you have to lie

Presenting yourself in a professional manner is not lying.

A freelance writer who has no experience but a few of “dummy” case study and white paper clips is not a liar– they’re just new to the field.

To offer a new service is always a bait of trust for both parties involved and generally, if a prospective client appreciates a freelancer’s other work, they may be up to hire that freelancer to provide their new services, too.

Freelance writers need to be good marketers, too. Marketing is not about lying– it’s all about making things interesting for a prospective client. ;)

7. Freelance work will never be high quality like in-house work

The place where you perform your job tasks does not influence your performance (unless, of course, you worked in a very noisy, distraction-filled environment!).

A web designer who creates a new website template for a company, for example, won’t perform less if they work at home instead of the company’s office. Actually, working from home may go to their advantage.

This myth has more to do with prejudice than freelance work, actually – the prejudice that workers in an office are kept under control, while someone working from home works in a climate of complete freedom.

But a client who trusts the freelancer they hired will be at ease with giving them all the freedom they need. No need for control.

8. You can’t make a living as a freelance writer without recurring clients

Unless you work with big businesses as a copywriter or other service provider, you don’t have to worry about getting more than one recurring client to keep your schedule busy and your living expenses covered.

This is even truer if you work for magazines – it’s unlikely that you will work with the same publication or editor more than once, so you should pitch new ideas to more magazines every week to keep the well filled.

You might still get on the sympathies of an editor who likes your writing and ideas and wants to buy more of your stories or turn you into a paid columnist, but even when that doesn’t happen, your marketing and pitching will keep work in the funnel – and this is why you don’t need recurring clients (but a recurring client is always a blessing!).

9. Freelance writers need to work 10+ hours a day to make a decent living

Don’t let this myth push you to overwork until you get sick. You do NOT need to work 10+ hours daily in order to earn a decent income.

What you need to do is quote fair rates, pick the right projects, plan, schedule… and then stick to schedule (leave some room for flexibility, as being human comes with variables!).

You might still want to pick the seldom rush assignment that will keep you busy for 10+ hours over the next three days, but you should keep this option open only when you feel a project is really worth it and it means something for you.

By all means, don’t make it your standard approach to work or it will wear you down soon, get you on meds and put an end to your career. You don’t want that.

10. Women freelancers earn less than men freelancers

Not always a myth, this is sometimes true, especially for rates that exceed $100-$150, as Dianna Huff says in her post for the International Freelancer Academy, and a possible cause is low self-worth.

As a woman freelancer who grew up in an area where entrepreneurship and business are still sometimes seen as something not for women, I know it can be all too easy to let such prejudices influence your approach to business, but your experience, competence and background count just as much as any man’s with similar assets.

It’s all in the way you sell your services to prospects – be confident and proud of who you are!

Not feeling confident enough? Fake confidence until you gain your own. It’s not lying (see Myth #6 in this post about it).

11. Freelance writers can’t keep up with deadlines

Freelance writers are pretty good at juggling deadlines because they keep their goals and earnings in sight and help us make informed, responsible decisions.

Doesn’t mean that a deadline or two can’t slip from our fingers from time to time. If this is your case, don’t worry— you can keep up with deadlines, but you’re only human and sometimes… you just can’t help it, whether the cause comes from your life or from your client.

Start worrying when missing deadlines becomes a habit, though. Is there anything you can fix in your life to make sure it won’t happen again? What’s the core of the problem that keeps you from sticking to your deadlines?

Tackle your issues in advance. If your problem is related to health, only pick clients who ask for soft or flexible deadlines that you can work with without stress.

12. Bills and taxes will eat up most of a freelance writer’s income

Not really a myth if you charge rates so low that you have to scratch the bottom of the barrel to get food for dinner, but if you charge standard (average to high) rates, this is definitely not true.

The amount of legal papers and taxes you need to pay to keep your freelance business running will vary according to the country you reside and work in, but generally speaking, if you learn to live on less and you wisely manage your finances and freelance projects, you will eventually marry your spending needs with your saving efforts and have emergency or vacation money at the end of each month.

Keep it going!

If you’re looking for more than these 12 freelance writing myths, there are 6 more myths at Lindsay Van Tohen blog post at Freelancers Union.

Image credit: Scott Beale (cc)

29 Freelance Writing Challenges For The Next 12 Months

Posted in Freelance Writing, Time Management2 Comments

2966756587_80fe7f27bbThe number is 29 because I turned 29 on June 17 (2014).

Yup! I have only one year left in my twenties and, as a writer, I want to get the most out of it. ;-)

Are you up to the challenge, too?

Because you see, these challenges are not here just for myself as a reminder, but to inspire you to take action and work toward your goals with a bit of healthy spirit of adventure.

29’s the number, peeps!

Here are the freelance writing challenges I took up to enter my thirties with a bit of glory and more writing opportunities under my belt. (More clients, too?)

1. Speed up that writing! Get to write 2 posts a day

Okay, maybe not two complete posts ready for publication, but at least two complete drafts with research.

I need to get faster at writing if I want to earn more. Also, since most of my slowness is caused by anxiety attacks, tachycardia and a fear to burnout, this challenge is a good push to take more care of my health.

2. Kick those guts and go interview someone!

If you’re wondering– in English and yes, with THAT Italian accent!

Oh boy, you won’t believe how freaking scared I am to speak English! I can write and read English, but my listening and speaking skills are kind of raw.

I rarely get to practice in Italy (nobody speaks English home either) so I’m scared to death that an interviewee will laugh at me for my accent and my “can you repeat that, please? Slowly?” and quit a phone call before I can even get a quote.

It’s a never ending vicious cycle and I need to break it.

Now, I have a few English-speaking writer friends on Skype and I may just reach out and ask for help…

3. Dedicate more time to MY projects (not just clients)

I’m not sure when that started, but I realized that I’ve come to dedicate more and more time to clients’ projects and less or no time to my own projects.

Big fail. Seriously. If there’s something I always wanted to do on the Web since I made my first website back in 2003, that’s being myself, letting my voice speak up and get my slice of personal success.

But where’s my success if all I’m known for is blog posts for my clients (when I’m not ghosting)?

I have two grand projects to launch this year — Biz Character Blogging and Sponsored Circle — and I’m not going to keep postponing them because of client work.

Reminder to myself: go make time for the two biggies, Luana!

4. Write a White Paper for someone

That’s right. For a real someone– not just my beloved fictional characters and their world.

White papers are big projects and they still scare me a little, but I can’t overcome my fear if I never give it a try, right?

The worst a prospect can say is ‘no’, after all…

5. Act! Be bold!

Pitch blogs and magazines I still feel to shy to even just fan mail. Go go go!

No matter if the publication pays or not– this is about developing guts — and some additional writing, niche, industry experience. It’s about taking action!

I’ve been scared and filled with self-doubt for too long in my career. Time for a change.

6. Find US or European magazine I can use Italian sources for

Because these are the only sources I can interview in person. And I have to break the ice, sometimes.

For example, Italy Magazine might be a good place to start with. :)

Note: I can’t write for Italian magazines for profit because I’m not a member of the Order of Journalists, but I can contribute to local papers for free, and to blogs and online pubs. However, clips like these could help me land assignments with bigger (non-Italian) pubs like OSIA  in the future.

7. Record video tips for WritersMind.eu and other blogs I run

Not just to break the ice, but also because it helps to see a face — and hear a voice — besides reading words on screen.

And to stop fearing to get bullied for my Italian accent. Uhm.

8. Remember that being 29 or 30 is not the end of the world

This challenge might not appear strictly related to writing, but I can assure you that it matters– I tend to buy (emotionally) into the talk that a person’s thirties means we’re getting old and what’s been done, has been done. No more.

Well, I believe that I’m still young and there’s so much I can do, create, WRITE!

When I turn 90, maybe, I can allow myself to say “what’s done, has been done”.

9. Learn to program and write about programming

I’m still afraid to program.

Yeah, I mean computer programming: PHP, C, Java, etc. I’m a Computer Science forced drop-out, but my heart never really dropped out. Yet, I still feel as if I’m never going to really learn how to program.

But how can I write about programming — especially tutorials — if I don’t learn how to program, first? Impossible, right?

Already got started on C and PHP, so get on with it! Program and write! :)

10. Finish (and self-publish) at least one novel

There’s a Sci-fi/romance novel I started 16 years ago (I was 13) that I never got myself to finish. If something like a “fear of completion” exists, that’s what I have when it comes to fiction.

I think it’s about cutting the umbilical cord– these characters and their story are my children, so I’m scared to send them out in the world.

The poor characters are knocking hard inside my heart and mind to have their story finished, though, and people who were anticipating my novel are eager to see it written and ready to read, so… I made finishing this novel one of my To-Do Before 30s list.

11.  Publish case studies

Because I have several in the works but I seem to be scared to complete and publish them.

Scared of what? To ‘upgrade’ my skills, it seems. To be called “the incompetent writer who was so arrogant to try formats that go beyond her skills”.

Silly me, just as silly as per #10 and #12 in this list.

12. Stop thinking I write crap

My clients and writer friends say otherwise, so that means something, right?

No more self-sabotaging.

13. (Re)Learn to write an entire blog post on paper first

Start to finish. An entire blog post draft in one sitting, letting nothing and nobody stop the flow.

I’m so used to getting interrupted at home that I unconsciously interrupt myself every 15-30 minutes or so. I know why my brain does that (it tries to anticipate the ‘shock’ of interruption by provoking it on its own), but it’s frustrating nonetheless.

I have to (re)gain control over the flow of thoughts if I want to speed up my writing (see #1).

14. Remember that my short story collection awaits…

… and readers, too. :-(

I had to self-publish my Lights of Metal and Sky collection around October 2012 originally, so that says a lot about how behind I got on those stories.

15. Find a new work-study balance

It got messed up after I dropped out of university (not officially yet, but I no longer pay tuition, so I’m an “on hold” student).

Once again, I tend to buy into my family’s line of thinking that “you either study or work, you can’t do both”, exactly when my heart speaks differently.

I have to remind myself that I owe it to my love for Computer Science, Technology and other subjects if I can call myself a freelancer. If I don’t keep studying, I may quit freelancing as well.

16. Learn some electronics and circuit logic

See #15. :-)

And then, there’s no way I can write for those fabulous electronics magazines I read all the time if I don’t learn some electronics first!

17. Write and publish all the ebooks in my To-Do list

Because I have many, most of which are started or half-written.

Doesn’t matter if I can’t get to finish and publish them all, but I should at least try.

And if you read the above Challenges, you’ll notice a pattern. :-)

18. Practice Catalog and Direct Mail Copywriting

With fictional characters, of course.

And my business websites.

The soonest I learn the crafts, the soonest I can add these forms of copywriting to my list of services.

19. Publish Press Kits and Press Releases

For my blogs, services and projects, to start with. Maybe one or two for my Robocity world, too.

I need to get faster at planning and writing these pieces.

20. Learn to write Business Plans and Corporate Profiles

Probably with Characters only until I feel confident enough, but it’s a start! :-)

21. Add columns and monthly features to Writer’s Mind

I want to make this blog even more interesting to creative and freelance writers!

22. I script and draw comics, right?

Then I should definitely add comic book/strip/cartoon writing to my range of services!

How silly of me, how could I not think about this before? :-(

23. Find more trade magazines and niche blogs to pitch

I like trades more than glossy or consumer mags/blogs and TradePub is my daily (or weekly) joy. So I think I found a match, here.

24. Re-pitch rejected ideas

Often I just post them on my blog, but I should re-pitch them instead, to other blogs and publications.

I’m learning to love rejections and use them to find new (and better) opportunities, but sometimes my emotions betray me.

That’s an area I need to work on.

25. Get some niche clips from guest blogging

For niches I want to experiment with. I think this is the easiest way to break in and get a clip.

26. Remember to enjoy the writing while I’m at it…

… and forget the money.

Yep! Money is a big distraction and it usually leads me to produce lower quality work, so I better forget what people around me say (“Do it for the money!”) and enjoy the craft instead.

Money comes as a consequence. ;-)

27. There’s freelance fiction, too

I should get back to writing short stories in my spare time, and try to get them published in literary magazines and newsletters, like Daily Science Fiction.

28. Raise my rates– not BUTs!

Pretty self-explainatory, right?

29. Come up with another freelance writing challenge for 2015

Just because. ;-)

Of course, there will be a follow up post to this challenge.

What freelance writing challenges are you taking up this year?

Photo Credit: prettyinprint via Compfight cc

How to Make the Most of Guest Blogging (eBook)

Posted in Blogging, Writing ResourcesBe the first to comment

This is a guest post by MyBlogGuest.com

Got your guest post published thinking your job is done? You are doing that wrong! Each guest post is your most valuable asset! Make the most of it!

Here are my two tricks:

Repackage Your Content For Fresh Views

Fresh View

Sometimes you just don’t have the inspiration. There is nothing wrong with that, we have all been there. Luckily, it doesn’t have to affect your ability to write effective and engaging guest posts. You just need to learn how to repackage content in a new and creative way.

This isn’t the same as rewriting. The actual facts of a topic rarely changes, at least more than would require an update. Providing that update is one way of repackaging content. So is creating a new form of media that is easily posted and shared via social media.

Infographics are a personal favorite of mine, as they are easy to make, use previously cultivated content and are linked like crazy on every social network around. Plus, certain guest posting platforms like MyBlogGuest already have a section dedicated to them.

But videos, podcasts, webinars, ebooks and just content that has been rewritten and expanded are also easy ways to repackage posts while maintaining the quality and uniqueness.

Link Back To Old Posts


Guest Blogging Ebook

As mentioned above, sometimes updates are needed for old blog posts. But this lends to whole new posts, as well. Such as expanded series that are related, but not quite different. The best part about doing this is that context is required. You have the perfect opportunity to link back to the old post, thereby bringing a whole new wave of readers and more traffic to what has already seen the peak of its popularity.

You can also link back to other guest posts on the same blog you are visiting. Though many blogs will already do this automatically in the footer, or as part of your byline.

Find more tips on how to make the most of guest blogging in our free guest blogging eBook here. It’s free to download!

6 Tips To Engage Your Blog Readership With A Clean Web Design

Posted in BloggingBe the first to comment

La Gustadera, G0! 1986. Web Design ExampleLet me tell you a simple truth — running a niche blog can feel like a chore sometimes.

Not because of the writing, though. No, the reason lies in the website design.

My guest writer July Minor pointed that out in her contributions to Writer’s Mind — without a reader-friendly, nice looking design, your content is bound to make less of an impact on your readers.  Since you thrive on your blog readership, this is an aspect you can’t overlook.

Don’t fret, though — there’s no scary programming or technology you need to learn in order to make your blog presentable. Actually,  you don’t need to become a web designer to improve your blog! All you need is to follow these 6 easy tips and make sure you always put your readers (therefore, your content) first.

1. Use Images To Complement Your Content, Not To Replace It

I know, infographics are the big hit now. But I would advise you to use them sparingly and only when the content is exceptionally good and unique and you know your readers need it. In all other cases, use images to complement your content, support your argument and give a face to the point you’re making.

Even your logo should portray a summary of yourself, your blog and your services. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

2. Tweak Your CSS To Improve Readability

You may know little to nothing about CSS coding to style your blog, but there are tools you can use to write CSS code for you — for example, Generate CSS is a service that will generate a code snippet you can copy and paste into your blog design. If you know the basics of CSS, you can use advice from CSS-Snippets to improve your blog readability.

3. Don’t Add Unnecessary HTML Tags To Your Content

HTML tags – bolds, italics, tables, H titles, etc. – improve readability for your visitors and search engine spiders when they are used in moderation and when their presence makes sense. However, adding unnecessary HTML tags can lessen the readability of your content

4. Learn The Basics To Fix Things When Necessary

Whether you coded your blog theme yourself or you had a web designer do it for you, things change — HTML tags become outdated, a certain title style may lose its readability trend and be replaced with another, and so on — so you need to be able to fix little things in your theme code when time comes. If you had your web theme designed by someone else, spend some time to study the theme structure, how it’s coded; learn the basics of HTML and CSS to adjust things yourself or ask your web designer to help you.

5. If Your Current Font Is Not Reader-Friendly, Change It

You can take advantage of free fonts for personal and commercial use at OpenFontLibrary.org and Google Fonts, or you can buy commercial fonts from Fonts.com. Either way, if you feel your current font is not helping your readers focus on your content — you can survey or poll your readers about this — changing your body text font will increase the time your readers spend on your blog and your content will appear more attractive and engaging.

6. Always, Always Put Your Readers First

And therefore, your blog content. Because that’s what readers consume. A clean design is the friendly container that helps them accomplish that task, like a book with colors, charts, illustrations and clean fonts looks more appealing to a reader than black and white fine print.

How does your blog design help your readers consume your content? If you made improvements, what did you do? Let’s share! :)

Image credit: Javier Eduardo Piragauta Mora

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