Website Coming Soon

I’ve had my work cut out for me the past six months or so.  The good news is I’ll have my own website by the end of March.  As soon as the site goes live, all useful material from this blog and a few of my other blogs will be moved to the new site.  All new material will posted to the new site as well.  I’m extremely excited about this announcement.  I’ll be able to post at least once per week, but I truly hope to post three times per week.  The new site will focus on detailed descriptions of every public writing site I’ve tried, plus reviews of all sites I use to learn more about my craft, including tips and tricks to make the most of every site.

Another focus of the site will be writing prompts for fiction, non-fiction, poetry and editorials with a place for contests so viewers can vote on the best material for each prompt.  By 2011, I hope to be able to offer monetary prizes, but publicity will be the main prize for now. 

I hope my readers will forgive my long absence and visit the new site when it goes live.  Over the past six months, I’ve dealt with quite a few personal and professional ordeals.  I’ve come a long way towards getting back on track professionally and personally.  Surprisingly enough, I’ve had my worst bout of rejections since I started writing. This is mainly due to branching out and taking risks.  Overall, the risks have paid off.  I’ve learned more about writing for the web, when to take advantage of an opportunity and how to keep trying no matter what.  I thank everyone for their interest in my blog and hope you’ll enjoy the forthcoming site, full of useful information and fun.  Not to mention, a section for all my wonderful, opinionated editorials about any and everything that crosses my mind 🙂

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Beware of Writing Scams

When you’re looking to start or even advance your writing career, you have to be careful of scams. There are thousands of websites looking to sell you advice, which 9 times out of 10 is regurgitated BS that tells you nothing but the bare basics.  Below is a list of things to look for to tell whether you’re looking at a possible writing scam.

  • One long webpage full of site promotion and testimonials followed by several links advertising special time pricing.  These are either straight out scams or a complete waste of your time.  This are typically sites that tell you how to create duplicates of the website you’re viewing.  Never give your money to these sites, no matter what they promise.  If there were such professionals, they’d have a professional looking website.
  • Asks for personal information.  If you have to give over your name, address, phone number, and any other personal information just to visit a site, then the site is a scam.  The only things you should be required to give in order to register on a writing website is an email address, password, and a name to write under (only if you’re actually writing for the site).  For most sites, PayPal is used to pay you, so providing your PayPal email address is the only other requirement you need to fulfill to be paid.  There are some writing sites that require tax information if you make over a certain amount each year.  By the time this information is required, you should trust the site.
  • Asks for work before you’re paid.  There are writing websites and forums where users post requests for writers to do certain projects.  Always ask for some type of reference from anyone you want to work for.  Many users take your work and don’t pay.  Before joining a site and taking on a project, be sure you’ll get paid.  Look through forums on other writing sites to see if anyone else has experience on the site you’re looking to use.  Associated Content provides a great forum for Other Online Gigs to help you find which sites work and which ones don’t.
  • Asks you to pay to work.  You should NEVER EVER pay to work.  You can pay for information, access to writing tools and software, and website and blog hosting.  However, if you have to pay just to access a list of available assignments or pay a membership fee just to write for the website, don’t do it.  The site is a scam.  You won’t make your money back.  A true writing site makes there money from a preset amount from each sale or ad revenue.  They’ll make money off you simply by you writing for them.  They won’t deter members by asking for membership dues.
  • Asks for free or cheap services.  Never short sell yourself.  If an ad or website asks you to write an article for far less than it’s worth, odds are, you’re getting scammed.  They want to buy your work for little or nothing, take away your byline, and sell the article elsewhere for profit.  If you retain rights to your work and keep a byline, it’s okay to sell an article for less than it’s worth.  For instance, you can sell a 400 word article at Associated Content for $4-$5, place it on Helium for page views and $.50-$2.50 depending on the category, and then again on Constant Content for around $6 for usage rights.  All of these sites let you retain full rights over your work.  If you’re asked for exclusive rights, no byline, and less than .02 per word, don’t even consider it.
  • Make money for nothing.  This one should be obvious, but I’ve seen so many people fall for it.  One email I recently received had a subject line saying I could make $5000 a month by writing a few articles per week.  I’d love to make thousands a month by writing a few articles and marketing the hell out of them.  Guess what, that’s not going to happen.  The research required to write extremely high paying articles takes time.  Far more time than the few hours a week those types of scams advertise.  You’ll only waste your time and loose money by missing out on legitimate opportunities if you try to take the easy way out.

These are just a few of the typical scams you might find.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Stay safe and save your skills for real writing jobs.  Legitimate sites will help you advance your career for little or no monetary gain.  That’s what ads are for.  Use common sense and writing communities to avoid becoming the next victim of a writing scam.

Dropped off the Radar

Sorry for dropping off the radar for a few weeks.  I’ve been busy trying to understand Brighthub’s new system and getting caught up on some other articles.  I was excited to receive the Top 1000 badge on Associated Content.  I’ve been writing for them since late 2007.  I didn’t really get super involved until 2008, but for only a little over a year of work, I’m proud of my accomplishment.  It think that’s one thing freelancers should always remember.  Take pride in every accomplishment.  Yeah, a lucky 100 got the Top 100 badge and a handful actually received annual cash rewards and badges for their work, but at least I did something to receive recognition.

I was actually feeling kind of blah about writing lately until I saw that.  It’s one of those little things that can get you motivated again.  Think about the boss giving you praise at a 9 to 5 job.  It’s pretty much the same thing.  A nice comment, a lot of activity, or just praise from a friend or family member can help re-motivate you.  Or at the very least, make you feel as if you really are making a difference with your work.

I’m using this week as a major catch up week.  So many opportunities have arisen lately and I don’t want to miss a single one.  I’m looking to break my record for weekly earnings this week, so wish me luck.  I advise everyone to take advantage of every opportunity you can when writing, especially if you’re trying to establish your career.  You never know what may happen.  Who knows, you could nail a full time position or regular client, major recognition, or just a butt-load of cash.  I should be back at the end of the week.  I’ll have more writing prompts and an update of how the week turned out.

Exercise for Writers

I’m not talking about doing aerobics or rushing to the gym after a hard day of writing. I’m talking about writing exercises. It’s important to exercise your writing skills on a regular basis.

No matter what your writing schedule may be, take at least 10 to 15 minutes 5 days a week to practice your skills. You can explore new topics, write about passions, or simply journal about your day or dreams. The topic doesn’t matter, just the writing itself.

I’m kind of ashamed to say I’m just beginning regular writing exercises myself, but I’ve already since improvement. As an added bonus, I found a way to actually make money from my writing exercises. Well, at least from some of them. Trust me, you don’t want to know some of the random stuff that spews onto my page from time to time. Anyway, I’ll write more getting paid for writing exercises soon. I don’t want you focusing on getting paid at the moment, as important as that may be.

So here’s the deal, spend roughly an hour a week and you could see vast improvement in your writing. Not to mention, you’ll be writing frequently on topics that interest you, without sparing a thought about whether it’s a money maker or not.

Benefits of Writing Exercises:
Enjoy writing more
Better first drafts – less editing later
Write more quality pieces faster (I’m especially enjoying this one)
Increase your confidence
Creates a desire to write more

Common Types of Writing Exercises:
Journal – Write about your day, dreams, hopes, fears, etc.
Writing Prompts
Blogging – Write a quick post about whatever interests you
Poetry – Yes, even writing a poem can help your writing skills, especially creative writing
Debate/Rant – Nothing’s easier or quicker to express than your own opinion, especially strong ones

Now, find the time and exercise your writing!