Thursday, April 23, 2009

Where do we go from here?

Let's try this again!

Now that I've resurfaced from the bathroom with two of my closest friends, it's time to get down to business of a variety not typically done in bathrooms...though freelancers do make a point to mention that their work is portable...or potable, or....

Nevertheless, now it is time for me to move on to steps D through Z, so to speak. I have a few questions for all of you not-at-all-newbies to help those of us who are still really quite wet behind the ears.

First, what would you say the best sites for Freelance work are, and why? What ones should be avoided? What are the first steps one should take when venturing out into the realm of paid work? If you had to do it over again, what would you do and what would you not do when first starting out?

Many people mention Elance and I have begun to make an account there, but it wants blurbs about me and some keywords. Any tips for writing these? I'd imagine that a good balance between creative and professional is the goal here, but does anyone want to offer some basic direction?

After the account hurdle, what does a person need to know about successfully bidding on and landing work?

Also, since I am so new, I'd imagine that there are questions I should be asking, but have no idea that I should. So, if you have some other wisdom to impart for the rest of us, we'd all be eternally grateful.


  1. Shelley, I hope to be able to answer questions soon about the different sites since I am setting up accounts on ifreelance and guru this month. Yay for the guinea pig! I will be posting updates.

    As far as Elance goes, I am pretty happy with it. I get regular work and lots of repeat clients.

    Take a look at the profiles of people who are doing well on Elance. Make a list of the components these profiles all have in common. This will provide you some structure.

    You are correct in assuming that your profile should sound professional but still show a little of your actual writing skills. Try to make it unique and not boring. Avoid quirky at all costs!

    Include a list of your skills but spend most of the available space describing specifically how they benefit the client. After all, the profile is not really about you. It is always about fulfilling the customer's needs.

    More notes later! In the meantime check out the writer's forum on Elance for posts by Grace and the people she recommends on that site. There is a lot of specific information on bidding and winning projects. I recommend lurking rather than posting over there since there is a massive troll problem that may rear its ugly head again at any point.


  2. Hmm, you must be very lucky not to have run across one yet.

  3. LOL! A troll is a spammer, who decides they want to cause trouble on a forum and start posting insane, abusive, disgusting, inappropriate or downright lewd comments on the boards to attract attention and put off people from posting there (especially newbies). Often it is someone who is mad about something and tries in this way to exact revenge, by rendering the site's comment section virtually useless.

    Elance has had a bit of trouble lately, but we are hoping they get things under control.

    Some of the best people to watch on Elance are HARLAN (Carol) and dynisabore (Denise). There are others as well, but take a peek at those two's profiles and you will be headed down the right track - of course, check out mine (Grace-Alexander) and Daisy's (KDMcCarty)as well!

  4. OH, and as admin of this blog, I managed to trash the former post that went wrong on you, and fixed the title of this one. And whatever you do don't sign up on GAF- GetAFreelanceer is one of the worst sites out there. There are a LOT of scam sites - I will try to get a list together and post it for edification!

  5. Thanks! I will see if I can find the people you suggested on Elance. I am still in the process of figuring out how to navigate that site.

  6. I found HARLAN but not dynisabore. I also found you and Daisy. Thanks. That certainly gives me some plan for direction. Obviously I need to spend a day or two thinking this through. Maybe once I have it up, you guys could look at it for me?

  7. My Elance profile is...not so great :) I threw it together because I hate writing bios, but I still win projects! I'm going to revamp mine, but in the meantime, all I have to say is: focus on your proposal writing. That is the buyer's first impression of you when you bid on their project.

    Oh, I have one more thing to say. Try out Demand Studios. It's nice to get feedback from editors (even if it's not something you want to hear), and it's money.

  8. Thanks, Shelley, for your post and others for their insightful comments. More good stuff here!

    I seem to have all sorts of freelance information rumbling around in my brain, and I would dearly love a more organized approach.

    For myself, the biggest hurdle is going to be negotiating price, understanding contracts, and communicating directly with publishers. It appears that there are a lot of parts that can go wrong. I still don't fully understand how freelancers can protect themselves from unscrupulous publishers.

  9. Kristina (or anyone else who might know the answer to this), I was checking out Demand Studios, per your recommendation, and I see they ask for a resume. I don't currently have one, and could certainly write one, but how writing-centric does it need to be for these guys? Do they really want to know what I have been doing with my life, or only the writing-relevant parts? How does one write a resume based on exactly 29 Helium articles and a half-finished juvenile fiction novel?

  10. :)

    I was embarrassed to submit my writing resume! I was hoping to find it to refresh my memory of what exactly I wrote, but it's gone. Sigh.

    Under writing work history, I think I listed the dates for which I have submitted content to Helium, noted the sale of a Marketplace article... It was far from being the beefiest resume. I may have listed my college degree and noted writing related to that.

    Just use a resume template and fill in as much as possible that pertains to writing. I think I also added my experience that helps me write about certain topics (e.g. I'm a groomer who can write all day about dogs), and showed examples of writing across a wide topic variety within the application.

    DS assignments are home and garden, computers, business, animals, travel, art, etc. So offer samples that fit into those categories if you have any. It's also mostly How To articles.

    Sorry that I didn't see your question here earlier; hope this helps! Let me know if there is any other info that might help!

  11. Thanks. I wonder if there is a way to get a list of all the topics they write to?

  12. The topics are divided into channels:
    *Health and Fitness (medications, illness, treatments)
    *Home and Garden (how to fix appliances, install things, build things, grow things)
    *Culture and Society (fashion, how to draw/paint, etc)
    *Hobbies and Games (how to play XX, how to make XX)
    *Sports and Recreation
    *Computers (how to install software, etc)
    *A Few More

    I'm pretty sure that they allow different writers to write to different channels, but I'm not sure. They have so many topics that you can show samples of almost anything. Their How To articles are usually published on eHow.

  13. I am working on the resume, and wondering exactly how you included your Helium articles. Did you simply list the title and creation date? Did you include a synopsis of the article or a link?

    I also plan to mention the book that I am approximately half done writing. Would some kind of super simple plot outline be a good idea?

    Thanks so far for all of your help.

  14. I think there is an area in the application to include writing samples as attached documents; I definitely didn't list articles in my resume, but I know some of them were offered somewhere...

    For writing a book, you could say something like:
    12/2007 - present: Writing novel in (insert style) genre.
    The focus of the site is more for technical than creative writing. Hope that helps!

  15. So then was the format for the Helium stuff more along the lines of:

    1/09 - present: Wrote 29 articles for the website Helium on a multitude of topics.

    And if the book is children's fiction (preteen age) is the genre children's fiction?

  16. Sounds good!
    You could bulk up the Helium blurb a bit:
    1/09 - present: I write web content for on the topics of home and garden/fitness/health/whatever it is that you normally write.

    Yes, the genre is fiction for children.
    Also, if you have any knowledge of SEO, add a blurb about that.

  17. I don't know too much about SEO, but thanks to Grace's previous blog, I now know what it means.

    Now, when writing SEO content, does the customer typically provide the words they want incorporated into the article(because that would be easy),or do they want YOU to figure out what words they are supposed to be using (because that is an art in itself, I'd imagine!).

    What kind of knowledge is sufficient? Is the simple fact that I can define the term good enough? HA HA!

  18. Normally they have the keywords picked out - if they don't, I demand they pick them out. I don't do keyword research because I don't want them coming back and throwing a fit if they don't get the results they want.

    There are too many 'gurus' out there teling people what to do. I don't get involved - I provide content, period. Easier that way :)

  19. I agree. If I wanted to be in the field of internet marketing, I'd be heading down a different path. Writing things using particular words seems a million times easier.

    Do they typically specify in which sentence or paragraph they'd like each word to appear? (I do know enough about SEO to understand that placement is of the utmost importance).