Monthly Archives: May 2012

How Blogging Enhances Your Writing Skills

BloggingBlogging is one of the best ways of improving one’s writing skills. It is therefore advisable for every freelance writer to have their own personal blog. The following are some of the ways blogging can enhance your writing skills.

1. You will start writing more often

If you have your own blog, you are likely to develop the habit writing frequently. The great thing about blog posts is that they are usually short and can get published immediately they’ve been written. It is therefore easier to write regularly on your own blog than submitting your posts to other blogs which might not even bother publishing them.

2. Readers will motivate you

Every writer experiences days when they are just not in the mood to write. This is very normal. However, you can derive motivation from the fact that there are some people out there who are actually reading and appreciating your posts. So on those days when you don’t feel very inspired, remember that there is an audience which is waiting to read what you have written.

3. You can gauge your progress through the feedback received

Feedback is not necessary when you are writing for yourself. Since blogging is about writing for others, you benefit by receiving instant feedback from your readers. Once people read your post, they are likely to begin adding their comments, linking to the post from their own blogs or sending you emails. If you get positive responses, you will know that the post was well-written and interesting. However, if you don’t get any feedback at all, your post was probably boring or poorly written.

4. You can try out new writing styles

Once in a while, you may want to experiment with new forms of writing e.g. bullet point lists, short sentences or rhymes. Writing a whole book, article or story in an unfamiliar style would be taking a big risk. There are chances that it might not work. It is easier to experiment using a blog post which will be published at no cost. If you don’t succeed, not much will have been lost. Blogging therefore makes it easier for you to try out new things.

5. Your writing skills will improve

Consistent practice is the best way of improving your skills in anything. As you write regularly for your own blog, your writing skills will definitely improve. Through the feedback you receive, you will learn how to select the most appropriate words and effectively craft sentences.

Online Freelance Writing – The Advantages and Disadvantages

Freelance WritingMany people aspire to work as online freelance writers. It is true that the business offers many advantages. However, it also has a downside. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of online freelance writing.

The Advantages

  • Flexible schedule

Since you are basically self-employed, you can work from virtually anywhere; the beach, a café or a home office. In addition, you can take a day off whenever you like. As long as you meet your deadlines, your schedule is all up to you.

  • Freedom to choose who to work with

Most people in formal employment have, at one time or another, worked with a boss who was difficult to deal with. When it comes to online writing, you have the opportunity of working with a wide range of clients. If one of your clients starts making your life miserable, you always have the choice of walking away.

  • Unlimited earning potential

There are many freelance writers who make a good income from the business. Beside writing articles for the web, freelancers can also make money from publishing books, speaking at live events, teaching workshops (online or in person) or creating a product. This means that at any one time, a freelance writer can be reaping from one or more of these streams of income.

  • Your success is your responsibility

In the long run, this can be very satisfying and empowering. There is no feeling like that of seeing a small idea grow from humble beginnings to a full-fledged lucrative business.

The Disadvantages

  • The business can dominate your life          

If you are not careful, you will find life being taken over by freelance writing. In an attempt to make as much money as possible, many writers spend hours online at the expense of their health and their families. Some writers accept more work than they can handle and end up being burnt out. At times, distractions such as social media or the telephone interfere with work, and thus result in long unproductive hours online.

  • Problems with editors and clients   

At times, it is just a communication problem. For instance, you might find yourself rewriting an article because of insufficient instructions at the onset. It is therefore important to clarify everything before getting started on any task. Other clients are just plain difficult to work with. Some take your sample articles and publish them without your permission, while others keep losing your submissions and asking you to resend them.

  • Finding well-paying jobs is not easy           

The truth is that most clients out there expect you to work for very low rates, or even for fee. The situation is made worse by writers who are willing to accept meager pay for their services. This means that it might take some time to find clients who offer reasonable rates.

  • Your failure is your responsibility

Since you are working for yourself, you cannot blame anyone for your failure. If you decide to sleep all day or spend all your time chatting on Facebook at the expense of your work, you will be solely responsible for the failure of your venture.

Freelance Writing – Guidelines for Setting Your Rates

freelance writing ratesMost freelance writers have a difficult time deciding how much to charge for jobs. When it comes to freelance work, one cannot just set a fee and apply it to every client. The following are some of the factors that need to be considered deciding on your rates.

What does the work involve?

To give a proper quote for a project, you need to have full understanding what it involves. Ask yourself the following questions.

  • Type of job – Is it a press release, product review, sales letter or an article? The kind of job it is will have a major influence on the fee charged. For instance, a 500-word sales letter for a major firm would pay more than a 500-word post for a home improvement site.
  • Page/word requirement – How much are you expected to write? The more pages or words, the higher the rate
  • Deadline – Find out when the work is due. If you feel the time is too limited, inform the client. Avoid work which will put you under pressure, and probably compromise your standards. However, if the short deadline cannot be changed, make sure it is factored in your rate.

What is your level of experience/knowledge?

Specialist writers usually charge higher fees compared to those who are starting out in freelance writing. You should therefore work towards being an expert in your subject of interest. When applying for work, inform your client about your area of specialization. Set your rate based on your level of experience.

Who owns the rights?

Rates can vary significantly depending on who owns the rights to a piece of work. Usually, writers surrender full rights for their work. However, due to the writers’ ignorance, most clients get away without paying for full rights. This is why you need to insist on a contract before undertaking any work.

How much research is needed?

When setting your rate, don’t forget to factor in research, especially if it is a job which will require you to spend many hours in travel, reading or material preparation. For such projects, calculate your fee by the hour rather than on the basis of output.

Are there extra expenses?

Extra costs could include anything from courier costs, traveling costs and postage costs, to making phone calls. Never underestimate the importance of such expenses. Always make sure they are factored in to the contract.

What is the going rate?

To get an idea of the goings on in your industry, you need to find out what others are charging. You could visit a few writer forums to ask for advice. In addition, there are numerous freelance writing sites which can give you an idea of the going rates for similar projects. Don’t forget to check online job boards as well.

If a potential client is offering a fee which is too low, you could negotiate for better terms. In case they are not willing to budge, walk away. On the contrary, if the payment being offered is very high, take the job right away!

Blogging – How to Select a Niche Topic

Blogging NicheThe best way of making money through a blog is by building it around a specific niche topic. The following are some of the questions you need to ask yourself when choosing a niche topic for your blog. Once you have followed my advice and chosen a niche for yourself, have a look at this guide to start your own blog:

Do you have any interest in the subject?

You need to start by recognizing your own passion and interest for certain topics. Though many people are tempted to build blogs based on what is commercially viable or what other individuals are interested in, it doesn’t make sense to start a blog based on a subject you are not passionate about. There are several reasons for this.

First, building an authoritative and popular blog can take a significant amount of time. You therefore need to consider whether you would still be interested in writing on the topic one year down the line. If not, then it would be wise to find another topic to write about. Secondly, your readers will easily be able to tell if you have a passion for the subject or not. Blogs which are passionless and dull rarely grow since no one would want to read them.

Is the subject popular?

A popular blog cannot be built only on the basis of the blogger’s interest. You also need to consider whether people would be interested in reading about the topic you are writing about. Of course, it is not possible to write on a topic which everyone would be interested in. You only need to target a specific audience.

However, you need to note that over time, popular subjects change. You should therefore be able to think ahead and to figure out what will be the next big topic will be. Always be alert to what people are talking about and what the current trends are. Besides keeping an eye on the internet, you should also keep track of the information on newspapers, magazines and on TV.

Who is the competition?

Many bloggers make the mistake of selecting popular topics without considering the competition which they are likely to face. If you have identified a ‘hot’ topic, chances are that someone else has also seen it. To avoid this competition, you can opt to go for topics which are not very popular. At times, you will find yourself earning more from these topics which have little competition. Instead of being a small fish in a big pond, you can be a big fish in a small pond.

Will you have sufficient content?

If your blog is going to be successful, you’ll need to create fresh content over a long period of time. Most blogs die off due to lack of sufficient content. To find out if there is enough to write about, you need to ask yourself two questions.

  • As an author, do you have sufficient content in you? This will be determined by your interest in and passion for the topic.
  • Are there other sources of inspiration and content? Find out if there are other people who are talking about the same subject.

Free Online Storage – Factors to Consider

Free online backupNowadays, there are many providers who offer online backup storage for free. Some online backup providers will give you up to 7GB of storage at no cost. So what does ‘free’ really mean? And what factors do you need to take into account when it comes to such offers?

Amount of storage needed

One of the most important considerations is the amount of storage space that you require. There are some individuals who only need to store small files and documents, while there are others who need to backup hundreds of gigabytes of content. If you fall in the latter category, then free online backup is not for you. This is because you cannot get such large quantities of free storage from online backup providers.

However, some providers run promotions which offer free storage of up to 100GB for a limited period. When you come across such promotions, you need to be careful. In most cases, you find yourself paying more than you intended. Some online backup providers use such free offers to entice you, and then start charging you exorbitant fees after a few months. A credible provider will allow you to leave at any time you wish. You also need to beware of money back guarantees. Find providers who will allow you to try out their services without having to commit yourself first.

Extra features

If you are one of the people who only require to backup small quantities of data, you could consider using a free service from any of the major online backup providers in the industry. Together with the free back up storage, many providers also offer a syncing feature which allows you to retrieve your files from multiple machines.

Second-tier solution

When it comes to online backup, it is advisable to use free storage as a second-tier solution. You could combine several services and then find out what works best for you. You could consider backing up your main data with a paid online storage solution, and then use a free service for data files data files that move around frequently. Data that is rarely accessed does not have to be synced. In addition, syncing is usually more costly than normal backup. Therefore, you need to think twice before going for that 30GB of syncing space.

Security

Many people are unsure about the security of free online backup. There are a number of online backup providers who offer the same level of security for their free services as they do for their paid services. When you open an account with such providers, you can rest assured that your account will not be compromised.

Conclusion

Generally, it is advisable not use a free service to backup sensitive and vital data. If you have any problems, you might find it very difficult to reach customer support. Even when you get to talk to customer support staff, you won’t have much leverage since you have not paid for the service. The best option is to go for a two-tier solution which is made up of a paid online backup provider, as well as an extra free account.