I like to use AOL as my homepage. I enjoy their news (man with biggest testicles in the world has surgery!), as well as their helpful tips on securing employment.
Now, I’m not really interested in securing any employment. I mainly just like to read the articles. Why? Because the information they give is the SAME COMMON SENSE INFORMATION that anyone with opposable thumbs and 4th grade reading level could figure out on their own.
So rather than be part of the solution, I’m going to be part of the problem by telling you all why you should avoid common sense and just start fucking winging it.
This is actually going to be part of a series of books I’m working on in the non-fiction genre. I’ve actually created a new form of self-help. It’s called self-sabotage.
1. Include all your contact information on your resume.
Yeah, this is actually a “tip” written by an expert in the industry. People failing to put any contact information on their resume is a HUGE problem. I can’t tell you how often a resume gets sent under the name ‘anonymous’ with contact information that reads “if you want to hire me that bad, you’ll find me.”
This is not a tip. It’s basic fucking common sense. However, I’m going to expand on it. Don’t just put your name, address phone number and email. Take it a step further. Add some of the bars you like to drink in or the adult chat rooms you frequent. They’ll find you for sure.
2. Use effective titles.
The true goal of a job title isn’t to tell people what you did. That’s actually the opposite of what you want. If you are writing an effective job title, you need to make sure that not one single human being on this planet can actually figure out what you did in that job. For example;
Bad: Accounting Manager
Good: Chief Mid-Level Operation Supervisor In Charge of Eliminating Numerical Redundancies
3. Use a standard font style and size
Fuck that. You’re a non-conformist. Personally, I like to use wingding’s on my resume. Nothing says great employee like;
4. Be courteous
Really? So I shouldn’t call the person interviewing me a fucktarded douchebag? Nah, you’re putting me on. Personally, I think that the guy who uses racial slurs and shows up drunk is going to be a lot more memorable than the guy who sucks up about the companies mission statement.
5. Dress nicely
I’ve heard is said that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Ever since I saw Firefly, all I’ve really wanted was to be the captain of a ragtag band of space pirates. Finally, a reason to wear my eye-patch and carry my ray gun at the same time!
6. Bullet points are AWESOME!
7. Follow up
Most people recommend sending a ‘thank you’ card following an interview. Just so you know, that card usually just gets throw away. I actually recommend a more personalized approach. Follow the person who interviewed you home from work. Show up at their kids school. Trust me, if they wake up at 3 am with you standing over their bed, they’ll never forget you.
There you go. With my helpful tips, I can pretty much guarantee you that you’ll never find gainful employment again. On the upside, you’ll get to be one of those ‘worst employee interview ever’ myths that HR people like to tell.
I love being a freelancer. I’ve always had a bit of a problem with authority, so being my own boss is a pretty good thing. Plus, I don’t have to leave the house and I work better when I drink on the job.
However, there is one thing that I absolutely love, that only comes along once in a while; the freelance interview.
For most of you out there, interviews suck. For normal 9 to 5 types, the job interview is nothing more than a 30 minute lying contest between you and a really stuffy member of HR. You get stuck talking about your 5 year plan, your greatest weaknesses and strengths, your opinion on the companies mission statement.
You know, stuff that no one gives a shit about.
But freelance interviews are different. See, every now and then I’ll submit a proposal on a long term or huge job. In those cases, the person might want to talk to me. However, they’re not doing it because they are required by HR policy to talk to me. They’re doing it because they want to verify that I am an actual human located in the continental US. They don’t care about my five year plan. They don’t care about my greatest weakness. They care about two things. They care about me being an English speaking American, and they care that I am not a complete cunt.
And most of them are even more laid back than me. See, us work from home types can get a little loopy after being out of touch with the rest of the corporate world so long. As a result, we forget about silly things like social niceties or stuff we should not say out loud. We no longer remember what is appropriate to say to another human being in a professional setting.
And god damn it, I love it.
In an effort to share the wealth, for those of you who might never get to have a freelance conversation, here is an actual transcript from my last conversation with a potential client.
Essa is sitting at her desk, swilling coffee and planning a late evening of writing threatening, error filled letters to various politicians. Suddenly, a new call comes in on her Skype feed.
Liam: Hi Essa, it’s Liam.
Essa: Cool. So look, none of that hash shit you got me last time. Do I look Persian? See if you can get your hands on some decent NYC Diesel. Not the kind that’s too resiny though. It fucks up my vaporizer.
Liam: Excuse me?
Essa: (Smacks head) Sorry, you’re “from the (magazine name redacted) Liam”. I thought you were “drug dealer Liam”.
Liam: It’s a reasonable mistake. Sorry, I would have used the video chat, but I’m completely nude.
Essa: Coincidence! I’m bottomless today. I can’t find my pants.
Liam: Been there. So listen, I wanted to see if you’d be willing to take on an additional project. The guys that I hired to handle the web content in India are being a bunch of (ethnic slurs). I swear, it’s like they’re doing nothing there except for (completely offensive stereotype of Indian people, followed by some more ethnic slurs). It’s enough to make me want to fly over there and (really offensive rant that involve broomsticks, religious deities and more ethnic slurs). Can you take care of them for me?
Essa: Sure, as long as you’re willing to reimburse my airfare and the cost of broomsticks.
Liam: (laughs) We’ll hold off on that until the end of the quarter. I mainly just want you to weed out the ones that suck from the ones that really suck, and then do a mass firing via email.
Essa: So you’re looking for a scapegoat?
Liam: You got it.
Essa: That will cost you extra.
Liam: Fine with me. If I never have to deal with those (ethnic slurs) again, it will be too soon. Can you take care of it today?
Essa: Already writing the email.
Liam: Can I call you back tonight then?
Essa: That’s fine, just do it before 6. Otherwise, I’ll be shitfaced.
Liam: Coincidence! I’m shitfaced now. It’s half the reason I’m nude.
Essa: We are indeed kindred spirits.
Of course, not all of my freelance client interviews go like that. Sometimes, they actually want to talk about the job. The point I’m making is that it’s never really a chore to talk to them, because they’re actually calling to discuss something important. They don’t ask me stupid questions that they don’t care about the answers to.
If only all employers would behave like them. Of course, I imagine HR complaints would go up as well, but hey, you give a little, you get a little, right?
So, as you all know, I am a full time freelancer. As a full time freelancer, my jobs aren’t always guaranteed. Sometimes, things get rough. It’s a roller coaster ride of financial security and a step away from being a stretch-marked web cam model most of the time. But I won’t give up; I’ll never give up. I’m just that damn good.
But in case you’re new at the whole freelancing thing, and you need to know how to gauge when things are going really bad, here are some tips.
1. Your grocery list has become more of a ‘wish list’ – This is the part where you start crossing out necessities on your grocery list in order to survive another week. “Toilet paper? Who needs toilet paper? I still have coffee filters and old Dunkin Donuts napkins.” When your list consists of nothing more than ‘milk, eggs and Raman noodles,’ then you know things are bad.
2. You’re thrilled to find a dollar – This happens as you’re scrounging through your old clothes, looking for loose change in order to get gas money. As you’re tugging out those annoying dimes and nickels, you might stumble upon a real live dollar! Say what you want about being rich, but no millionaire will ever be able to understand the true joy you feel when you stumble on a crumpled up dollar in an old pair of jeans, when you are completely fucking broke.
3. You start wondering how good you could be at a life of crime. You might find yourself Googling tips on starting your own forgery business or jacking cars. Personally, I have always thought I would kick ass at insurance fraud.
4. You start praying for a relative to die. This is a desperate point. It might be a close relative or a distant one, but the only thing you can think of is how much easier life would be if you got some sweet insurance policy settlement money. Then, you’ll try and push the thought from your mind because you’re afraid of the bad karma, but deep down it will still be there and you know you can’t unthink it.
5. You reuse coffee grounds and roll tobacco out of old cigarette filters. No true writer can live without coffee and cigarettes. So when it gets really bad, we scrounge for what we can get. Trust me, the taste of desperation is the taste of old Pall Mall Menthol Light tobacco mixed with Marlboro lights in some Zippo orange pack rolling papers.
But here’s what separates the real writers from the hobbyist writers. Most full time freelance writers will wash out after a year, due to the five facts above. They will retreat to their cubicles, say they’ll keep writing, but then, after a full day in corporate hell, they’ll forget all about their dreams. They’ll go home, let their novel sit unfinished and watch the news as they drink themselves stupid.
The real writers will understand that this is just the low point on the roller coaster ride that is freelancing. They will ride the storm and they will hit the high point. A new ghostwriting gig is right around the corner or it’s only a matter of time until their novel takes off. A real writer will never forget the dream, even as they’re getting an eviction notice or smoking used cigarettes. They will keep on writing. Ironically, the suffering they accept from writing in that state of desperation will make them better writers. If you doubt me, look up pretty much any famous writer you can think of before they hit it big.
So yes, things might be bad, but they will get better. Knowing that isn’t about optimism. It isn’t about false hope. It’s about recognizing your own talents and standing behind them. When you’re good, people will notice.
Once year ago today, I had about 25 blog followers watching the things I write. Now, that number is closer to 3000. Things can only get better and only a fool would give up now.
I’ve reached a low point in my life. I’m being judged by a garbage man with a neck tattoo.
I live in a place that has ‘valet trash’ service. This is a fancy way of saying ‘we pay a bunch of ex-cons and high school drop-outs $20 a night to pick up your trash at your door, for the low, low price of $50 a month.”
Being the dainty flower that I am, I use this program. Well, also, you can’t opt out. My complexes dumpsters are locked up tighter than Fort Knox and only a select group of individuals have the key. From what I’ve seen, you’re only eligible if you have a criminal record and some form of ‘fuck the police’ permanently, and prominently, etched onto your body.
Anyway, the whole valet trash thing seems easy enough. You put your garbage out, they take it. But then you get into the complexities of garbage politics. They won’t take loose pizza boxes. They won’t take unflattened cardboard boxes. They bitch about bags that are too heavy.
Also, if they fail to show up for three days, and one of the several billion squirrels that run around get into your trash and destroy it, they bitch about that. I really feel like I need to apologize for that. If there are any valet trash men out there, reading this tonight, please accept the below as my formal apology.
Dear Garbage Man
I’m so sorry I forgot to deploy my Sonar Squirrel Repeller 3000 while you took your spontaneous vacation. Maybe I should have just sat outside for three days waving them away with a fucking broom until you decided to some back. You know, because my life revolves around making a service, that I pay you to do, easier for you. Regardless of how poorly you decide to provide that service.
Essa Alroc, Person Who Pays You
Tonight was the last straw. As I sat here, finishing up yet another 12 hour work day, I heard one of these douchebags complain through my open window about the way the knot was tied on my garbage bag. The exact phrase; “Jesus, learn how to tie a fucking knot. It’s not fucking rocket science.”
The guy nearly shit himself when my blinds popped open and I responded, “nope, and neither is your job but you still can’t manage to do it without leaving a line of garbage down my walkway.”
He walked away without responding. It was a shame, because I had many more helpful suggestions about what else he could do to make his job easier. Some of the helpful tidbits I was going to recommend;
- Try being in the country legally. That way, your job won’t involve working for a shady contractor who owns a pickup truck and only hires dudes that hang out in front of Home Depot.
- Try graduating from High School or at least getting a fucking GED. My friend Sara finished her GED in approximately 12 minutes, for $399, by taking a correspondence course she found in her TV guide. No joke, there is no longer any excuse for not managing to at least complete the standard 12 grades. Don’t give me a hard luck story either. This isn’t China. There is more than one free program available out there. Find it, and you might find someone willing to at least pay you minimum wage.
- If you have chosen to get a facial tattoo with a swear word or racial slur, you’re not getting a job that pays more than $3 an hour unless you go back to prison. No suggestion here. Just an FYI.
What are you getting from the tips above? If you hate the idea of cleaning up my garbage for a living, it’s not my problem. It’s yours. Do something a little more productive than bitch about the people who pay your salary and things might get a little better for you.
Who knows, maybe someday, you’ll be the one driving the pick up truck.
If you’ve been following my tips and tricks on freelancing, then you’ve seen my articles on how to land clients and how to start your own freelancing business. At the same time, I hope you’ve been paying attention to how to avoid a scam.
If not, it’s time for Essa’s tutorial on DMCA and how to keep from getting your work stolen.
Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who are only trying to collect as many articles as possible so they can resell them or use them without paying. Let me explain to you how they do this, because these requests will actually appear perfectly legitimate.
Generally, the scammer will request a test job. A test job is not the same as a free sample. Instead, it’s a common, legitimate request when starting with a long term client. If the article is accepted, the client will pay for the rights to use it and you’ll begin a relationship.
In one of these scam instances, they will request the test job. Then, after you submit the article, they will just disappear. Sometimes, they’re just a normal client who is too busy to respond. A follow up email will usually get a response with a yes or a no from a non-scammer.
However, if they delay or start making excuses as to why they have not made a decision, chances are you’re dealing with a scammer.
Let’s be honest. Most of the articles you will write for test jobs are going to be around 500 words. If they can’t read an article of 500 words in under two weeks and make a decision, chances are they are planning on stealing it. Don’t let them.
The easiest thing to do is send an email withdrawing your application and asserting your copyright. Resist the urge to tell them to go fuck themselves. Regardless of how tempting it may be, after you’ve wasted hours of your valuable time writing for them, be a professional. You can never truly tell if someone is scamming you, or if they are simply an unresponsive client. Regardless, you don’t want to work with them. Scammers for obvious reasons and unresponsive clients because getting them to pay you is damn near impossible.
Just send an email thanking them for their consideration, but state ‘due to time constraints’ (or whatever cliched phrase you want to use) you will be unable to work with them. Then, make sure to add this sentence or something similar.
“I also assert all rights in articles submitted for consideration and not purchased per standard copyright law.”
To a non-scammer, this sentence simply tells them that you’re keeping the article for your future use. To a scammer, it tells them “I’m watching you. Don’t fuck with me.”
Standard copyright law isn’t complicated. You don’t need to register anything and you don’t need to file any legal forms. Simply stated, once you write something, you own it until you sell the rights to it. Never agree to transfer of copyright prior to payment. As long as you can show proof, either through a word doc or emails, that you wrote it first and that the copyright wasn’t purchased, you’re safe unless you have to take it to court.
Trust me, you won’t have to take it to court. There is a simple law out there to protect you and it’s scarier than any courtroom. It is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, aka, the DMCA.
After your close call with a scammer, sell your article to someone else ASAP. It’s much harder to steal something if it’s already posted online. Usually, scammers will sit on these stolen articles hoping that you forget about them. Before you sell it, check to make sure it hasn’t been posted by searching one phrase from your article on the internet, or checking the scammers website.
If you find your article posted somewhere, you need to act. First, use the contact form on the website to send a polite message reminding them that you own the article and requesting that they remove it immediately. Give them a limited timeframe to respond. Every second they’re posting your stolen article is a second they’re making money on your stolen article. In the past, I’ve given anywhere from 24 hours to 1 week, based on how likely I thought it was a scam over an innocent mistake.
If you don’t get a response, then it’s time to get aggressive. Find a formal DMCA notice of copyright infringement. Send a copy to them. Send a copy to their hosting provider and send a copy to any advertising partners listed on the site. Advertisers are making money off your scammers copyright infringement as well, so they are guilty by association. Ironically, they are usually the first people to do something about it. Generally, they’ll pull their ads and end their affiliation with the scammer.
Here’s where the DMCA gets scarier than a courtroom. Once you have sent proof of your copyright and the right DMCA form, the web host will either remove the content themselves or ask that the site owner remove the content. If the site owner refuses to remove the copyright material, or doesn’t respond, the hosting provider will shut the entire site down.
Not only will your scammer get their page shut down, if they do get it back up after removing the copyright material, they will also get a black mark on their Google record as a copyright violator. Any website with multiple DMCA notices gets tanked in the Google rankings. As their goal in stealing your material in the first place is to get an increased site rank, you just hit them where it hurt. Well done.
It is getting harder and harder for these scammers to swipe content. Thanks to that, those of us trying to make a reputable living doing this have a better chance of doing so. Never let someone make money off your work when they haven’t paid you for it. Instead, know your rights when it comes to your material.
And above all, know when to be an asshole.
I get a lot of requests for proposals from prospective clients about projects they need done. Some are reasonable. They give me an outline of their project, I give them an idea of price and how long to complete. This notice isn’t for those clients. This notice is for the other 25% of proposal requests that I get that I immediately decline. Let me explain to you why you aren’t getting any responses to the project you need done and answer some common, but incredibly annoying questions I get.
You’re living in a fantasyland on price point. It’s not just annoying for someone to send me a request to write an ebook and tell me their budget is under $500; it’s insulting. Sometimes, if you’re just looking for formatting or editing, I get it, but you’re still asking the wrong girl. I write, I don’t edit. Believe it or not, the two generally don’t go hand in hand. However, for those people who want me to write an entire, 50,000 word, fictional story based on a very loose plot line about their family’s heirloom quilt, for under $500, realize that you are asking me to work for about 12 cents an hour. No, I don’t give a shit that you’ll give me a share of the profits when your boring as fuck quilt book goes viral like 50 Shades of Grey. Why? Because most self published books sell under 100 copies. If it’s a family project and you’re not interested in making money, how cute! Call me back when you can actually afford to pay for my time. Generally, a novel that I sign away all rights to is costing you in the 5 figure range. That way, if the book does make you rich, I will be less likely to kill myself for signing away the rights to it.
No, I won’t post the articles on my blog. I know that they’d get more exposure here, but there’s a reason my blogs are popular. Because I write interesting shit and I don’t censor myself for a sponsor. If I start selling out and selling space to every company who approaches me, my blog would soon be nothing more than vibrator reviews and healing crystal articles. Then my readers would disappear. I rarely drag my blog into my work. Last time I did, it was for a company whose goal was to build schools for girls in Afghanistan. If your company is trying to raise money to keep a 10 year old from getting acid thrown in her face for daring to learn to read, then fine, drop me an email. If you need a review of the New Rabbit Ultrasonic Orgasm 5000, I will give you the same review I give all vibrators right now. “It’s good, but not as good as the real thing.”
You don’t need to talk to me on the phone. Picture me doing that Jedi thing with my hand as I say that. I work with an escrow account, meaning that if you’re not satisfied, you’re getting your money back and I never even see it. I am not a Nigerian scam artist. You do not need to talk to me, or heaven fucking forbid, Skype with me. I write for a reason. I hate talking to people. We can exchange the same info in a 3 second email that you want to give me in a 25 minute phone conversation. Oh, and we will never Skype. Why? Because I haven’t changed my clothes or brushed my hair since I started freelancing. Trust me, seeing me would actually be less reassuring.
Employee or Contractor – Pick one. If the answer is employee, I quit. Here’s how it works. You tell me what you want, I deliver it in the required time frame for an agreed upon price. You pay me. I go away. In exchange, you don’t have to insure me, pay me unemployment if you don’t need me, or jump through hoops to get rid of me. You are not installing a tracking monitor on my keyboard to make sure I’m typing the whole time. You’re not spying on me with a web cam or taking screen shots of my computer verify my hours. That’s shit you do to an employee, which I am not. We agree to a price for a product, I deliver it. Let’s keep it uncomplicated.
NO FREE SAMPLES! Picture this; I finally walk into Abercrombie & Fitch without my eyes swelling shut from allergies. I cram myself into a pair of acid green, torn, size – 4 jeans then walk out of the store in them without paying. It’s ok though, because if I like them, I’ll actually pay for more. If I don’t, I won’t buy anymore, but I’m going to keep the pair I just took. Sound ok? That’s what you’re asking me to do when you want me to write an example, 500 word blog post for free and sign away my rights to you for it. Need a sample? Check one of the 70 articles, 3 books or countless blog posts I have published. A request for a custom written free sample screams scam to me and you’re not getting a response.
Of course, the clients like these are uncommon, but not exactly rare. In fact, I think I get at least one of these requests a week. For those who are considering freelancing careers, keep an eye out for those types of request. Sometimes, they’re just harmless requests from someone not familiar with the work. Sometimes, they’re request from people trying to get over on a new freelancer. Luckily, the beauty of being a freelancer means you never have to be stuck with a bad client. Instead, you can dump them off on someone who’s not as informed.
You might be rubbing your eyes, trying to see if you read that title right. If you’re familiar with my page, then you’ll notice that I generally don’t give advice. I give long winded rants filled with profanity. However, I get a lot of questions posted and emails to me from hopeful freelance writers, who want advice on breaking into the field.
Now, as a disclaimer here, I’m comfortable, but I’m not millionaire. I live in an apartment and I drive an inexpensive car. I am the midlist of the middle class. I don’t have a lot of expenses, so the transition to full time writing was easy for me. Aside from my semi-regular illicit substance purchases, I’m a pretty low maintenance chick. The tips I’m going to give you might help you get to the middle of the pack, but they’re not going to make you a millionaire.
First off, you’re going to have to learn to deal with some incredibly boring work. My main goal isn’t to be a freelance writer forever. It’s to make money from my books and the stuff I like to write. However, that’s not something that can pay the bills instantly. If you’re planning on uploading your novel on Kindle and waiting for the profits to roll in, you’ve got a long wait. In the meantime, that means paying the bills by doing some incredibly boring work.
Who’s giving you that boring work? Business owners. The biggies are lawyers, doctors, financial execs, real estate offices and pretty much any type of sales work. There are also possibilities available in the alternative health, computer programming and technology industries, but those require a bit more expertise. Rule of thumb; if it has a website, it needs content.
How do you get to be the one that provides that content? First, notice the word I’m using. ‘Content’, not articles. If you’re going to make a living freelancing, it’s not about magazines and newspapers anymore. It’s about the internet. I don’t care what you’re writing about, that webpage’s goal is to have hits from SEO. If you have no idea what the hell I’m talking about when I say SEO, we’re already getting off to a really bad start. If you do, feel free to skip the next paragraph.
SEO is about how a web page is ranked in a website. The big one is Google, which takes about 80% of the market share on searches. Google has an algorithm that crawls webpages, finds keywords and indexes them. When a used types a search engine phrase like; ‘hot anal transgendered amputees’, those search results come back with pages where those words were found. Of course, those search results will include every page, regardless of whether the page is about ‘hot anal transgendered amputees’, or whether it is a page like mine that has nothing to do with the subject. To make sure the websites are given proper credence, each one gets a relevancy ranking based on how related to the phrase they are. When someone is asking you to produce ‘content’ they are asking you to get them to the top of that list. That’s what search engine optimization, or SEO is for. Learn it, absorb it, fantasize about it in the shower. It’s your life now and it changes every fifteen fucking minutes.
Before you even consider hunting clients down like the innocent prey they are, you need a resume and writing clips. Freelance writing is a tough business, because most of your work is going to be ghostwritten. Trust me, my opinion is all over the internet, but it’s not my name attached. When you ghostwrite, you don’t get credit, you lose the right to your work, and you usually can’t use it as a clip sample. However, you can note you ghostwrote for a company on your resume, and if with their permission, link to the blog you worked on.
However, the easiest way to get clips is to hook up with a site that allows newbies to post their articles. The site I started out with was the Yahoo Contributor Network. I barely do work on it anymore, but it can really help boost your credentials. It’s also network central. I got approached by 60 Minutes following something I wrote for Yahoo! News. They are a fantastic place to start getting the clips you need for your resume.
As far as getting your feet wet, and for some immediate writing gigs, you can try a few of these sites; Text Broker, or London Brokers . Sites like these are commonly referred to as content mills. They can be great starting out, or if you looking to make a little extra cash. However, if you focus only your writing career on these, you will learn to hate writing. They don’t pay very much, but they’re easy to get into and you don’t have to apply for jobs. You just pick an article and start writing.
What’s the downside, besides the low pay? Let me give you a verbatim example of what you will be writing about.
Please write an informative and creative article concerning “BEST NY TRANSMISSION SERVICE”. Article must be interesting and informative. Please write 500 words, use keyword 11 times. Adhere to the exact mode of the mentioned keywords.
Yup, boring as fuck. You’re writing filler, keyword focused articles and you’ll need to do about 10 an hour if you want to make any real money. On the upside, it will help with your creativity, because it takes a magic fucking computer to make transmission service centers interesting.
Again, content mills are great for getting your feet wet or if you’re just trying to make some extra cash. I would not recommend building a career on them. It can be done, I know several people who do it. But they don’t like writing anymore. That’s why you need to move on a bit, to getting clients who allow you a little more creativity.
Again, unless your one lucky fucker, you’re not going to start out writing something you’re passionate about. However, at least write about something you can tolerate. Alternate professional Essa writes legal articles, alternative medicine articles, jewelry articles and programming articles because I find them interesting. I don’t force myself to look into sports writing, because, aside from competitive drinking, I fucking hate sports. I write for clients whose work already interests me. Because of that, it requires less research and feels less like work.
How did I get my clients? Well, I started out on Elance. There are other sites like oDesk and Guru that you can also use, but I prefer Elance. These sites are bidding sites, so you need to be careful. DO NOT ALWAYS BID LOW! In the beginning, you might have to bid lower, but do not try to beat out the guy from India, offering to write articles for 1.25 each, who speaks English as a second language. I both hire and apply for jobs on Elance. When I apply, I bid a fair price that is not nearly the lowest. When I hire, I pick the best proposal, not the lowest price. Bidding what your worth isn’t just about you. When people come into the market charging rock bottom prices, everyone starts to drop their prices and we all make less.
So in conclusion, if you plan on starting your freelancing career this year, I hope my tips can help you out. At the very least, they’ll get you started. Of course, the best way to get started is to buy several thousand copies of my book, so I can retire and you can get me out of the market. I’m heavy competition. ;)
Today, I looked slightly to the right of my computer screen and realized that my site counter for the release of my next book, Asymmetric Angels, has significantly less time on it than it used to.
When the hell did that happen?
I currently have three days to finish my next 100k word book, if I want to get it to my proofreader in time for the December 26 release. Is it done? Mostly. It’s all written in my head. It’s just getting the damn words down on paper that’s the pain in the ass.
When are they going to invent mind reading dictation software? It’s the 21st Century for Gods sake. We should all be riding around in hover cars, living in space, and I should be able to write my novels while I’m sleeping.
Anywho, I’d say all together I have about 20k words left to go. That’s not so bad. Mainly just closing up plot holes and writing the ending with enough lose ends to allow me leeway into the third and final book. But I can’t get it done. Why? Because I’m the words biggest procrastinator and I have the attention span of a baby goldfish. To give you all an idea of what I’m dealing with here, below is an inside look into my writing process.
An insanely hot girl sits at a crappy computer desk in a small suburb outside of the Orlando metro area. She scratched her chin thoughtfully. “Is this a chin hair?” Tug, tug, tug. “How the hell did it get so long? How did I not notice this before?” Tug, tug, tug. She takes her hand away from her face. “What was I doing again? Oh, yeah. Novel. Must finish novel.” She cracks her knuckles and lights another cigarette. She types a few words on the screen. Reads them out loud. Deletes them all again. Lifts her coffee mug to take a sip. “Argh! When the hell did I put a cigarette out in this!” Spits out coffee disgustedly and notices her overflowing ashtray. Stomps off to the kitchen to get new, cigarette-butt-free coffee and empty ashtray. Returns and sits back down. “Where was I again? Oh, yeah. Novel.” Begins to type when she sees a small, moving dot on her screen. “Is that an ant? Where the hell did an ant come from?” She climbs out of her chair, peering suspiciously, and begins to follow the ant as it crawls off her screen. She tracks it across her desk, down her wall and all the way to her bathroom before she loses track of it. Sighing deeply, she returns to her computer and sits back down. “What was I doing again? Oh, yeah. Novel.” She begins typing and scratches her chin thoughtfully. “Is this a chin hair?” Tug, tug, tug.
Anyway, as you all can see what I’m dealing with here, I really need to buckle down if I’m going to get this done. Until this book is safely nestled in the arms of my proofreader, I’m going to be offline, but I’ll be back soon, sharing my mild disdain and skewered world perspective for all your entertainment.
Now, if you’ll all excuse me, I really have to go take care of this chin hair.
So a few months ago, I was absolutely miserable. I was sitting in a cubicle 8 to 10 hours a day, watching my life drain away and feeling like it was in perpetual pause. For people who don’t know what perpetual pause is (and you shouldn’t, because I just made that phrase up), its when every single day of your life feels exactly the same and the only think that changes is the amount of crows feet on your face.
So I did what any normal person would do to fix my problem. I antagonized my employer until they had no choice but to fire me. In all honesty, it was only a matter of time. I was incredibly bad at my job and I am still amazed to this day that it took everyone 6 years to notice.
I think I might be prettier than I originally thought.
I would like to say straight off, I have no regrets. My job was guaranteed to end only one way.With me flinging myself out a window if we had another ‘Lean Process’ meeting.
The freelancing is going well. I’m actually a bit busier than I can handle at the moment, with new clients sending me query letters every day. I’ve finished a novella and almost finished my sequel and I’m pretty sure as soon as I put them up, I’ll have a decent amount of residual income coming in from book sales.
But how do I put this? Oh yeah, I’M FUCKING BORED. I’m spending like 16 hours a day on my computer. How do the fat guys who live in their moms basements do this? I’m tired of wearing sweatpants and putting my hair in a pony tail. I’m tired of forgetting what day it is, what month it is and sometimes what year it is. The only people I see are my brother and my son and I’ve run out of shit to say to both of them.
I miss coworkers and inappropriate workplace jokes. I miss mean spirited rumors and snide office gossip. I miss high heels, wearing lipstick and fixing myself up in the morning.
So I’m considering a part time job. Many people might be scream, ‘why!, you’re living the dream. You answer to no one. You’re self-employed!” But in all honesty, I have to disagree. Why? Because now is the perfect time to get a part time job.
I have absolutely nothing to lose.
I don’t need the job and I don’t need the money. What I need is the human interaction and change of pace. And if that human interaction and change of pace doesn’t meet my standards, if my boss is an asshole or the work is boring, there is nothing in the world to keep me from photocopying my middle finger and sliding it into all my coworkers inboxes. There’s nothing to keep me from quitting in a way that will get me escorted from the building by security. And there is nothing keeping me from posting it on my blog for all your entertainment.
And if it turns out the grass was greener when I was sitting behind my desk 16 hours a day, there’s nothing to stop me from going back to it.
I might start looking tomorrow. Then again, this might be a delusion brought on by the dangerous levels of sleeping pills and beer I’m mixing. If so, disregard.
If not, I think I might make a good DJ.
I have an economic theory about the dangers of low prices that I would like to share with all of you today. It’s based on some experiences I have had, and I’m pretty sure I’m right.
When I was first starting out in article writing, I had a per word rate that was reasonable, competitive and on par with most other writers at my level. I had a few jobs trickle in, but definitely not a flood of work and definitely not enough for me to get by on. So I dropped my price and suddenly the orders started rolling in. Unfortunately, all the instructions for these orders looked like this.
“Please write article based on keyword “genuine imitation alligator leather purses Brooklyn NY”. Please write 500 words. Please use the exact keyword phrase 25 – 35 times. Please make the subject interesting and informative. Please be useful of good English.”
So yeah, I was getting more work, but who exactly was I catering to? These clients didn’t care if my articles were decent, and they didn’t care if my work made sense. They just wanted to pay next to nothing for the jobs and saw no value in my product. If I had kept going the way I was, I would have had a group of clients with no loyalty whatsoever, who didn’t give a crap about quality, and who would dump me for the next cheaper writer as soon as they came along. I would have clients who expected to get next to nothing and were happy with subpar service as long as they didn’t have to pay too much for it.
Are you listening Walmart?
Walmart, the super discount store of infamy, is the perfect example of this incredibly dangerous practice at work. Ask any middle to upper class person what they think, and you’re likely to get groan and a horrible story about shopping there. Walmart got their client base by undercutting the competition at ridiculously low prices. At first, everyone was happy. A store that catered to the blue collar workers of this country! A store that catered to the middle class! It was about friggen time.
Then, that awful segment below the middle class found out about it. The 24 year old women with six kids, with 5 different babies’ daddies and one on the way, who views children as a welfare check. The recent parolee, who needs to pick up steel wool and baking soda at a discount. The people who think that letting themselves get morbidly obsess entitles them to a handicapped parking spot.
It doesn’t, and it’s not a fucking thyroid problem.
As the dregs showed up, Walmart decided to cater to a new consumer. The ‘they probably won’t give a fuck’ consumer. Walmart stopped cleaning the bathroom. They stopped cleaning the floors. They crammed the isles with as many impulse buy products as possible, until its near impossible to get one cart down those slender rows…never mind a 400 pound man driving one of those motorized sit down carts. They beefed up security, because unfortunately, their new market segment tends to have sticky fingers.
And they stopped hiring employees who gave a crap. Instead, their interview consisted of one question. “Will you work for minimum wage or less?” If the answer is yes, then they were given a blue smock and their own register.
Walmart started treating hiring employees like they were buying product. They didn’t care about quality, the only thing that mattered was price point. So they get employees who make it clear to the customer that they hate their job, can’t do basic math and regularly spend the day hiding out in the bathroom that they never clean.
So, Walmart’s new look now includes a dirty store, rude employees and sleazy customers. And they were surprised when their middle class segment started leaving their stores in droves to go shop at Target instead?
I’ve learned my lesson about ‘low, low prices’. It’s not just a matter of ‘you get way you pay for.” Instead, I’ve learned another economic lesson. It’s called ‘you get who you cater to.’
I’ll stick to catering to people who give a shit about quality.