Archive | May, 2011

Are Freelance Writing Jobs on Craigslist a Scam?

31 May

If you are starting out as a freelance writer looking for opportunities to earn a little cash, you may find that there are many jobs posted on Craigslist. These jobs can vary from one-time projects to ongoing work with content companies, web development firms and private people who just need some articles or blog posts. Pay rates also vary widely depending on the scope of work and what hiring companies deem as “fair” wages for freelance writing.

While Craigslist can be a great source of freelance writing work, it’s always better to err on the side of caution when applying for work there. Why? Because oftentimes scammers use this free advertising website as a place to steal information from job seekers. Craigslist is a place where people of all types post information annoymously. This means it can be a playground for unscrupulous scammers who use email as a way to gather information on citizens.

So what do you look for to avoid being scammed as a freelance writer?

1. Does the job sound too good to be true? If the job advertisement says something like ” Work from home part time and earn full time wages” or “Make $50 an hour in your spare time”, chances are you’ve found a scam ad. Do not apply to it, but rather promptly flag it so Craigslist will take it down.

2. Does the advertisement ask you to click on a link that takes you to a work from home website? If so, you may be dealing with a scammer who uses Craigslist to get traffic and steal information online. Again, avoid it like the plague and flag the ad as spam.You won’t get a job there.

3. Does the ad ask you to write a “sample” and send it in for approval (with no mention of pay)? This is a common ploy that some scammers will use to get free content to use as they please. You do the work, and never get paid. Instead you get a blanket email that says “thanks for your sample, but you are not what we are looking for”. Do yourself a favor, and never work for free. Get payment terms in writing before you send an unpublished writing sample in. Or send in something you’ve already published online under your own name.

4. Does the ad ask for your personal information (social security number, birthdate, home address, etc)? This is clearly a scammer who acts like a potential hiring manager but who is actually an information thief. Never send your personal information to anyone online, especially through email. Keep your resume neutral and leave off your personal information until a job offer is made by a real person.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Craigslist is not a bad place to find freelance writing gigs. In fact, it can be a very good source of work on a regular basis. Other career-oriented advertising websites can also fall prey to online scammers. The point is to be cautious when applying for any work online. Check out the company further by reviewing their website, pick up the phone and actually call to speak to a hiring manager whenever possible, and protect your information at all times. By following these “rules” you can avoid becoming a victim of online scammers.

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A Very Taylor Resources Wordle for You

30 May

For the 2011 WordCount Blogathon, we were given the task of creating a unique “Wordle” for our blog. I hope you enjoy mine. Click on it to see it in full size!

Wordle: Wordle for Taylor Resources

Want to create your own Wordle? Go to http://www.wordle.net/create and make your own!

What I Learned From Blogging Everyday for a Month

29 May

During the month of May, I decided to participate in the 2011 WordCount Blogathon, which required posting once a day to ‘A Journey of Words’. For a busy freelance web copy writer, this was no easy task. First of all, I had to dedicate at least 30 minutes daily to writing a blog post. Secondly, I had to come up with topics that would be of interest to my readers. Lastly, I had to stick with something for an entire month, something I have struggled with in the past. But here I am, at the end of this challenge and I did it!

During this time, here’s what I learned:

1. Blogging can be a great way to connect with readers and meet new contacts. Throughout the month, I had the honor of getting comments from a huge audience of fellow bloggers, writers and business owners around the world. A few even agreed to be guest bloggers, which was such a treat. I have to say that the rewards of blogging are many.

2. Blogging teaches discipline as a freelancer. One of the biggest fears I had going into the Blogathon was that I would not have the time to blog daily. Instead, I found that the time I spent blogging taught me a lot about being committed to something bigger than myself. I became more disciplined and stopped letting things distract me from my purpose as a writer.

3. Blogging daily is a great source of free advertising. Over the entire month, I used Google alerts to track my success as a blogger, specifically to see if my name came up often through web searches. You may have noticed that there were specific keywords highlighted in most posts (but not all). These keywords helped my website to rank higher and I got a lot of Google hits on my name and my blog feeds.

Spending time on your blog daily, or at least a few times a week, can be a great way to build a steady following of people, make new friends and build awareness about your business or passions. I fully intend to use my blog as a tool to reach more people and share information in a big way this year.

Now it’s your turn to share – How do you benefit from blogging?

3 Tips for Coming Up with Ideas as a Writer

28 May

One of the questions that I get a lot from new writers and clients is, “Where do I find ideas to write about?” For many writers, inspiration comes from different sources. These sources depend on what you are exposed to in an average week, who you talk with, and what kind of media streams into your world.

You may be surprised to learn that I personally do NOT watch television, I seldom have time to sit down and read novels, and I don’t go out looking for topics to write about. Instead, I let the world unravel itself to me. I write about things that I personally encounter through different forms of technology and personal networking combined with a passion for researching.

If you are struggling with coming up with topics for your blog, marketing materials or more…here are 3 simple tips to coming up with interesting things to write about.

Use writing prompts. A great way to come up with topics, especially if you are more of a creative writer, is to employ writing prompts. These are short little intros on topics to write about, sort of like what your English teacher used to assign to you to write essays. Some of my favorite writing prompt websites give you fun writing prompts to get you started. Visit Writer’s Digest Writing Prompts and The One-Minute Writer for some fun, daily writing prompts!

Subscribe to favorite blog and news feeds. If you are a sporadic reader (like me) you can often find writing inspiration through what you read. Blogs and online news sources can give you a lot to think about and inspire new writing. If you have a mobile device, you can even read on the go. Just be sure to credit any sources you find and ask bloggers before you quote from their blog posts.

Look for popular trends. As a web copy writer, you will want to ocassionally create articles and blog posts on popular topics to drive traffic stats up. To do this, focus in on the hot topics and keywords that are creating a buzz on the Internet. Try using Google Trends or Yahoo Buzz Index to locate these topics.

 

Now it’s your turn. How do you come up with ideas to write about? Please be sure to share them below!

Benefits of Becoming a Freelance Web Writer

27 May

You are probably reading this because you are either looking for a part time career or you want to replace your full time career with a home-based job, right? Freelance writing is one of the best careers today, perfect for those who need more flexibility, freedom of expression, and a way to earn more money. Those are reasons enough to seek out alternatives to dull traditional careers.

Before you make up your mind to choose freelance writing as a possibility, here are some things you need to know:

1. You won’t get rich or famous as a freelance writer (think of how long it took King to get there!)

2. You must save money and learn to live frugally to make it as a freelance writer.

3. You need to have a back-up plan or another source of income while you are building a freelance writing business.

4. Learn as much as you can about writing, grammar and word processing tools before you start working as a writer.

With those things said, here are the benefits of being a freelance writer and why this may be the right career for you:

  • Freelance Writing is very flexible with no set hourly requirements each day. However, as a writer you must be able to set aside a certain amount of uninterrupted time daily to be successful (and earn enough money).
  • Freelance Writing is perfect for self-motivated people to earn the kind of living they desire. No more waiting for the boss to see your value and promote you. You must work hard to get where you want to be with your career and earn good wages.
  • Freelance Writing is family-friendlyand works well for people with other committments such as caring for children or elderly family members. You can make your own schedule, but again you must make time for your business too.
  • Freelance Writing is the perfect creative outlet for those who have dull careers or need a form of expression. You can write on any topic you desire and make a living. However, you will be expected to research and write on specific topics for clients often.
  • Freelance Writing can help you earn more than what you may currently be making in your day job. However, without constant searching for new clients, marketing your business and charging decent rates, you wont make enough to survive.

So take some time to absorb these things and consider whether or not freelance writing is the best choice for you? If you want to learn more, check out my 6 week virtual course  over at Freelance Writing Class to find out how you can earn as a freelance writer!

Why Facebook Fans Matter to Small Businesses

26 May

Does your business have a facebook fan page?

Have you been trying to figure out how to use this social media outlet to reach more of your target market?

How can you use facebook to build a loyal following of customers?

These, and many other questions are on the minds of small business owners everywhere. Social media should be at the very top of any business marketing plan. Why? Because it’s a cheap and easy way to interact with people online from all walks of life. It’s also becoming the go-to place for consumers. Just in the last year, facebook saw a huge increase in the numbers of consumers who use this website to research businesses, shop for products and services, and connect with local merchants. Just since the beginning of 2011, there are some 600 million facebook users. Consumers love to share information about their favorite stores, restaurants and services with their networks, which can range in the thousands on facebook.

A growing trend in small business online marketing is using facebook as a primary platform to launch a new idea. Before even building a website or engaging in other marketing efforts, many small businesses are simply building facebook pages and trying to earn followers through good old-fashioned networking.  And this effort works wonders! I’ve personally worked with small business owners who have used this technique to pre-launch a business website, and they have amassed hundreds of eager followers who have converted over to customers within days.

Facebook fans matter a lot to small businesses who may not have the means to pay for other types of advertising. Many small businesses just use facebook as a way to talk about new products and services, using images and website links to invite others to explore more. Some use facebook as a way to research and find new customers online that fit certain demographics. Others use social media to share information and hold contests to help generate more interest.

Perhaps the best way to use facebook and other forms of social media for a small business is to generate more web traffic. Because facebook happens to be in the number 2 spot currently on Alexa’s Top 500 Global sites, it’s really hard to beat in terms of web traffic. Put a post on facebook, and within 24 hours you can expect your website traffic stats to go up as well. I’ve seen it work time and again with clients as well as my own business.

So, if your business doesn’t have a facebook presence yet, or you are not fully maximizing it with daily posts – get in touch with me so I can help you take advantage of this excellent small business resource. I will be happy to show you how to use facebook to your advantage and why facebook fans should matter to your business.

Paragraph Structure for Web Writing

25 May

As you have been looking through popular websites, following your favorite writers and even dabbling in some web writing on your own, you may have noticed a pattern in the way web writing looks.

There is a certain format that seems to look better on most websites. This is not by accident. Professional web content writers understand that the way paragraphs and entire pages of content are formatted bears an impact on how well the website will perform and how readers will respond.

When you were a student, you were probably taught in English class that writers start out their work by writing a main sentence, followed by supporting sentences. Once the thought or idea is developed and a new thought is introduced, a new paragraph starts. This is fine for creative writing and for writing for traditional print publications, but for web writing, it’s a little different.

Writing for the web uses those same basic principles and takes them to the next level. Because you’ve already learned how website viewers read web pages and how they find websites, you may be trying to figure out how this applies to the format for web articles and content?

Simply put, the format you should write in has a little more to do with keeping readers’ attention and less to do with writing full paragraphs in the traditional sense. Writing paragraphs that appeal to the way people review information online becomes a critical aspect of how you will format your writing.

As you begin writing for the web, you may be tempted to write just as you always have as a creative or technical writer. While you may already have a great personal talent for writing, your writing will not perform as well on a website if you fail to recognize how people read online. In general, your sentence structure should be broken down into a simpler format so that it doesn’t overwhelm readers who are scanning the page for pertinent information.

Rule of thumb as a web writer – Keep It Simple!

 

  • Limit paragraphs to one compelling or interesting opening line or sentence. Then follow with two to three supporting sentences.

 

  • Limit paragraphs to 100 words or less for the maximum results and the increased likelihood that someone will actually read your article or content.

 

  • Limit searchable keywords to once per sentence, as anymore than that will be considered spam or trying to trick the search engines.

 

  • Use hyper-links on the desired keywords or those that are relevant to the topic of the content itself once per paragraph.

 

  • Make sure that all titles and subtitles include at least one of the keywords and bold all titles.

 

  • Keep articles between 450 – 600 words in length as that is the optimal length for web writing.

Want to learn more? Check out Freelance Writing Class for more tips on becoming a well-paid web writer!