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Friday, April 24, 2015

This Job, Not That Job

What I'm reading: In One Person by John Irving
What's on the iPod: That's How Strong My Love Is by Taj Mahal


My last work day before the annual trade show. For some reason, I don't feel ready, but the schedule and checklist both say I am. It was the heavy workload coming up to this week that has me still reeling. The marketing stuff is packed, the suitcase is out, and I'm nearly there.

Thanks once more to Jenn Mattern for this latest This Job, Not That Job candidate. Jenn has a pretty awesome job listings board (she selects carefully what she'll put on it), and on her recent searches, she came across this one.

I don't know what to say about it other than it's a new twist on an old, pathetic scam. Read it and weep:

This Job, Not That Job

WRITE FOR US!
So here’s the deal. We’re looking for freelancers that are wanting to share their freelancing expertise to our readers. Because we’re real people…and busy ones at that…we need to bring in some new faces to the blog. Is that you? Well if you made it here then I hope so.

WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR 
(a list of ideas and suggestions for content -- I won't bore you with it)

STYLE 
(Typical style pointers that anyone can figure out)

SO WHAT DO YOU GET? 
(Company Name) is still a very new blog and because we’ve not yet monetized the website, we are not able to pay for writers. “So what your saying your not going to pay us for our time?” – You 

Yes, but we’re offering credit at the top and bottom of each article which is not such a bad deal. At this time we’re getting around 400 hits a day and this is because we’re not producing articles fast enough. In September we saw 2000-3000 hits per day coming our way. Our marketing team will focus on getting your articles the maximum exposure if you’re willing to contribute for that exposure. Your time will be well worth it, we promise! 

YOU AGREE TO DO WHAT? 
You grant exclusive rights to publish the article and uploaded files to (Company Name). This means that no other site (including your own) can publish a full version of the article. That’s it – This will keep everyone happy. So lets get started and get you some credit. 

Please include where you would like the credited link to send are readers to and a short bio of yourself. Thanks again! We’ll hopefully hear from you soon!

Oh boy. Where to start? How about here: "Write for us!" First, caps and an exclamation points = run the other way. For some reason, bad deals are often accompanied by caps and exclamation points.

Let's just skip down to the meat of it. So, what do you get? A whole pile of nothing. It's not even a steaming pile. Ice cold, in fact. "We've not yet monetized" is code for "We don't pay and probably never will."  In fact, they say they're not paying. Honest little buggers, right? And maybe that's why this one disturbs me so much. They use the "Gee, we're telling you the truth here" approach to convince you they're upstanding people. They may be, but their pay rates are lying flat. Six feet under.

Yes, but we’re offering credit at the top and bottom of each article which is not such a bad deal.

Seriously? Correction -- my name at the top and the bottom of an article is A) standard practice for paying markets, and B) a bad deal if not attached to money. When will people get it -- we're professional writers with valuable skills. That requires payment. Think these people tell their roofer that he can keep his sign at both ends of the driveway as payment? Think he'd accept that?

Here's another thing -- 400 hits a day? Hate to break it to you, but my computer-illiterate mother could manage that in one Facebook post. I would love to tell you exactly how Jenn put it to me in email, but let's just say she said "abysmal" among other, possibly unprintable things. I'll let her elaborate if she's inclined to.

 In September we saw 2000-3000 hits per day coming our way. 

From what? Dodging flies? I don't understand the reference or why it makes a damn bit of difference to writers who aren't being paid for their work. If they're trying to tell you they're getting tons of traffic, then they should also be seeing serious ad revenue, which means they should be paying you. But I think their little hit meter needs to jump up a few decimal places before we take these people seriously.

Our marketing team will focus on getting your articles the maximum exposure if you’re willing to contribute for that exposure. 

Whoa. Right there. "Marketing team"? For some reason, I'm envisioning two guys on Skype who both own this place and serve as the marketing team. If they have a marketing team, why the hell do they need your free labor? They don't. In fact, as Jenn pointed out, that marketing team needs to get busy and do their own damn writing.

Your time will be well worth it, we promise! 

So far, your promise seems to be broken out of the gates, guys.

You grant exclusive rights to publish the article and uploaded files to (Company Name). This means that no other site (including your own) can publish a full version of the article. That’s it – This will keep everyone happy. So lets get started and get you some credit. 

Here's where you can give me credit -- I'm not stupid enough to write for free and hand over all ownership of the words I've not been paid for. When you say "This will keep everyone happy" you're missing the fact that your writers won't be happy. At all.

Okay, so since this one is clearly not a feasible market for serious writers, let's find one that offers a bit more:

Work From Home Editing Position

Job responsibilities:
Do a 'cleanup' edit of documents sent, in very short turnarounds. Other editors have reported each project takes between 30-60 minutes. Your responsibilities include: general APA formatting, headings, tables, figures, spelling, grammar, academic style, sentence structure, and flow. You are NOT responsible for reference formatting or checking, appendices, or university specific guidelines. 

This is strictly a work-from-home position. Please note that because extremely fast turnarounds are expected, any successful applicant should be available during business hours (EST).

Requirements:
- Applicants must possess a meticulous nature and an extremely high attention to detail.
- Strong command of the English Language.
- Bachelor's Degree or higher.
- The ability to turn work around extremely quickly.
- Comfort and ability to paraphrase and rewrite content rapidly.
- APA 6 familiarity and prior editing experience are required.

Compensation:
All successful applicants will be paid $50 for editing a short document. Please note that this particular type of editing is far less intensive than professional editing - and as a result takes substantially less time per page. Pay will be per project, and is calculated to be about $15-20/hour. New hires should expect a monthly income of $1500-2000 based on project load and personal ability, and this will increase over time based on seniority, speed, experience, and so forth.

Why is this one better? It's not ideal, but they have clear requirements, clearly stated needs, and they're paying for the sample they need with your application. It doesn't scream "I'll be rich!" but it does say they value your time and skills. There are a few red flags, such as the fast turnaround and the emphasis on "work from home." Proceed with caution, but there are good things about this one that make me think it's worth an inquiry.

Writers, what drivel and pie-in-the-sky promises have you seen lately?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Coming Soon: Writers Worth Month

We interrupt this blog to bring you some news:

Just eight days left! Writers Worth Month starts May 1st!
Every year, Writers Worth Month attempts to reach freelance writers and help them gain confidence in the value of their skills. The goal is one more freelancer, one more person improving their business through better choices.

This year, you can help. If you have a topic you'd like to present, get in touch. I'll be at lwbean AT gmail. Beginning writers are welcome, too! You're never too young to teach, and you're never too old to learn. Tell us your personal experiences, observations, things that tick you off, things that make you realize your value, your A-Ha moment -- any topic at all that can help your fellow freelancers look at this job in a new way.

There are still some days open for bloggers. Get in touch! We're waiting to hear from you.


New Guest Post Opportunity for Writers --
If you've posted here in previous Writers Worth events, you may be contacted by Anita Cohen at the Copywriter Collective. They're looking for guest posts pertaining to the world of copywriting, and Anita reached out to me asking if she could contact the authors who have appeared here.

You may also reach out to Anita at CopywriterCollective.com.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What Your Network is Saying About You

What's on the iPod: Just As Well by Jackie Greene

Over the weekend, I had a nice conversation with one of my daughter's friends. We were talking about her work, my work, and we ended up on the subject of networking. After listening to her experiences at a local networking event, I came away with one message:

Too many people are failing -- massively -- at networking.

Because she's an art teacher, her networking is about meeting people, not selling people. She said she was shocked by how people were handing each other business cards and then launching into monologues. "There was no connection -- nothing," she told me.

Not the greatest impression to leave, is it?

She also said there were plenty of problems she saw. And you know something? Her complaints are exactly the ones I had after my first (and last) local networking event. Here's where people go wrong, and what you can do to avoid making a pest of yourself:

The focus is on selling. That' exactly the opposite of what it should be. Networking should be about creating a connection, making a friendship (even business people want to connect with friends), and exchanging information. Think of networking as the first step in your marketing process. You get to know someone so you can stay in touch and, eventually, see if there's opportunity to work together.

The monologue replaces the conversation. Maybe people don't know what to talk about, but it sure as hell isn't about their products or how they can make your life easier if you'd just hire them. Networking is like meeting a new friends at a party (hey, you are). Ask them what they do, where they live, how long they've been attending the event, if they have survival tips or favorite connections they could recommend, etc. It's not hard -- just ask questions.

The approach is way too strong. I received an invitation to a local networking group, which I accepted. The response from the group leader made me instantly doubt my decision -- it was 100 percent sales pitch. "We need to meet. Send me your number and we'll get together." I won't go into the entire note, but it read a bit pushy to me. I don't like pushy. No one does. Had this leader dialed it back a notch, I'd have been eager to meet.

There's no eye contact. I've been in situations where the people I've met and I exchanged cards and then they launched into their monologue while scanning the room. Nothing says "You matter little to me" than a person who's busy looking for bigger fish. Even if they were looking for the dessert cart, it doesn't matter. If you're not making eye contact, the message you send is you're not present and the person in front of you is unimportant to you.

They cut people off mid-sentence. This has happened a few times to me. I listen patiently for the person to stop talking, then when they ask (if they ask) what I do, my answer is almost always interrupted with a hand to the forearm as they see that one person whom they've been trying to land. And they're gone.

There's no curiosity about the other person. This one really, really bugs me. People even in casual situations will go on and on about themselves. One question and they launch. But never do they ask a single question in return. I've had people say "She's so nice." How the hell would they know? Maybe because I didn't faint from boredom or tell them to shut up like others may have.

Writers, what major networking fails have you been witness to?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Freelance Writing Business Facts

What's on the iPod: Human Error by We Were Promised Jetpacks

It was an absolutely gorgeous weekend, though I wouldn't know much about that. Colds hit at the worst times, and they pretend to be allergies at first. That means I infect everyone around me. My husband and I missed what was surely a fantastic concert on Friday. There was no way either of us felt like moving -- staying out past midnight (hell, nine pm even) wasn't happening.

I did no work on Friday because of being sick. I answered emails, caught up on cleaning this desk, and rested. It wasn't as restful as I should have made it, but my brain was given a rest. After the mountains of articles I had to write this month, it needed it.

My post at the beginning of this month prompted a lot of responses and discussion. Freelancers at the beginning stages, and at every stage I'd argue, often get these ideas about what freelance writing is. They take as fact a lot of the misconceptions floating about the Internet, like the constant pronouncements that "freelancing is dead." Right. Since I've started freelancing full time I've seen that pronouncement. If anything, it's more prevalent and as lucrative as you decide to make it.

That's a separate discussion. For now, let's talk about a few facts you should know about your freelance writing business:

If you don't market, you don't work. Welcome to the toughest job you'll ever have. Freelance writing is hard work, and that work goes well beyond the writing. In order to keep the work coming in at a steady pace, you're going to be marketing every day. Sorry, there's not really a shortcut for this. Clients have to know you're there in order to hire you.

Even a mediocre marketing plan is better than no marketing plan. You could just randomly reach out to strangers and ask them for work, and every so often that may work for you. Or you could create a better way to reach them, better words to convince them, and better following up to stay in front of them. Even so, the random way is better than doing nothing. Not great, but at least it's movement in the general direction. Still, the best idea is to build a step-by-step way to connect and stay connected. More effort could mean more money.

There is no golden ticket to freelance success. I'm sorry to tell you this, but if you got into freelance writing thinking you'd sit in your underwear all day crafting the Great American Novel and make oodles of cash, you're about to be severely disappointed (and broke). The same goes for thinking other freelance writers are going to hand clients, advice, guidance, and sympathy to writers they don't know. I for one work hard to qualify and land my clients, so I'm not handing them over to you just because you asked or worse, demanded. And throwing tantrums doesn't help -- it merely solidifies my decision.

Just because someone says they're a guru doesn't make it so. Oh, the silly things we believe just because someone spends money to convince us. Be careful with your money. For as many writers out there who are willing to help you for free, there are an equal number of swindlers plotting to sell you the free stuff. No matter what the offer, approach with a skeptic's eye. Ask for full course/seminar outlines to see what will be covered. Talk to those who attended (and not those the instructor points you to -- could be some paid arrangement going on). Use your brain. I once took a course from someone I didn't know and I dropped it three days in. It was clear the instructor was too interested in hearing her own voice than keeping it brief, on point and manageable. Since then, I vet very carefully.

Nothing any guru tells you applies 100 percent. In fact, nothing anyone tells you should, including advice on this blog. We all react and respond to different situations. Try not to follow advice blindly, but do take nuggets that make sense and give them a solid effort.

Average rates are so average. There's a great discussion going on over at Peter Bowerman's Well-Fed Writer blog about rates. Know this -- I can charge what I want. You can charge what you want. Those rates can be (and will be) different. What matters is the rate you and your client agree on mutually. Don't worry so much about what others are charging. Do get a feel for those rates just so you don't under-price yourself, but don't think you have to charge $1,000 for an article because three other writers do. Run your business your way.

Success is not marked by decimals. We hear a lot of talk about six-figure this and six-figure that. Doesn't matter. If you're running a business and you've set goals, achieving your own goals is what counts. Your goal could be to earn $40K this year. Your efforts toward that goal, in my humble opinion, makes you successful, even if you don't hit your target. Just keep in mind the Buddhist mantra: The path is the goal. Just please stop thinking you're a failure because you didn't make $100K. What other writers set as their goal is completely unrelated to what you do.

Writers, what other facts have you come to realize over the years?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Writer Mini Clinic: Finding Ideas

What's on the iPod: It Doesn't Matter Anymore by Linda Ronstadt


Taxes are done. Amen. Alleluia. Am I done paying? Ha. Ha. Hahahaha... If you asked me right now who I'd vote for in the next presidential election, it would be the first person to simplify (fairly) the tax process. I'd even switch parties -- that's how much I hate tax season.

Over on the About Writing Squared Freelance Writer Forum, a member posted her frustration over a course she'd dropped recently. The course promised to show how to generate ideas for magazine queries, but once she saw the content, she realized it wasn't going to deliver. She cancelled and got a refund.

Good thing. I don't think you need to pay good money to know how to recognize an idea. It just takes a little detective work and a bunch of curiosity. Ideas are everywhere. I know you hear that all the time, but I'm going to show you a few ways to find them. Here are just a few places your ideas are hiding:

News articles. If Stephen King gets his inspiration from news, why not you? Let's look at today's news feed on Bing. You can pick any story at random, but I like to go for ones that make me click on them. This one from the BBC: New whale species found? The article says scientists have heard a whale song in the Antarctic that they can't identify, suggesting a new species. You could go straight to how many new species have been discovered in the past five years (plenty) and why. Also, why not a story on the advanced technology scientists use to identify various mammals/fish? How has that helped them understand the ocean population? Then that makes me wonder how climate change has affected the oceanic ecosystem and what species are now endangered. Or I could write a profile of a scientist who studies marine life for a kid's magazine (neat jobs type of angle).

Press releases. Often overlooked, press releases have hidden gems in them at times. Okay, sometimes they're nothing more than "Joe Smith has been promoted to Manager" but even those seemingly mundane ones might have ideas. But for this exercise, I'll take one I just received yesterday. "National Electronic Vehicles Sweden (NEVS) (formerly Saab) has exited reorganization. The District Court of Vänersborg has today, April 15, 2015 decided that the reorganization of Nevs shall cease as the purpose of the reorganization is fulfilled."

Where the idea is -- Saab (my car, and a favorite brand) went out of production despite multiple buyers and attempts to get some money behind it. New owners are concentrating on making it electronic. A million ideas here! What's the market currently for electronic cars? How can this company change the market for the better (can't you just see that on a cover of Fortune?), or the economics of bypassing fossil fuels. You could go into how to reinvent a brand or what US automakers are doing to compete with foreign automakers. Will your next minivan be electric? Should your family own a green car? Let the idea take over.

Studies and surveys. I love a study. Nothing gives you instant access to statistics to back up your query better than a study with facts and hey, statistics. I just typed "study" into Bing News -- up came this: Study: Acetaminophen reduces not only pain, but pleasure, too. Go no further than the headline, and you have plenty of ideas. Six Side Effects of Common Medications, Libido Killers in Your Medicine Cabinet (is Your Acetaminophen Taking Away Your Sex Drive?), Managing pain without side effects, natural supplements that can replace your over-the-counter drugs, when to talk to your doctor about chronic pain....

A conversation. I've found so many ideas just talking with people. My husband is a great source for topics as he's always mentioning something he's read or heard on NPR. But I have had conversation with people that have led to articles (sort of like this one, right?). One guy wrote to me about an article I'd written. In his one note were two ideas that became sold articles, and he went on to call me on occasion with other ideas. Another post -- Tuesday's -- was a direct result of a phone call from a woman with questions following an article of mine she'd read. Or it's the questions surrounding the current sex offender laws that label 18-year-olds who date 16-year-olds. Or maybe it's the safety of the chemicals your neighbor just had sprayed on their lawn (and the over-spray that's floating into your yard). Or it's how to tell a reputable offer from a scam, or when to fire your doctor and why.

TV and radio.  Or NPR One (their app). Ted talks. YouTube videos. Facebook posts. Twitter links. Anything you see is a source of ideas. Here's something from my Facebook feed right now - Beechnut recalls baby food, a video of tips for improvising while on vacation in a hotel... Food safety - how many recalls this year/last year, and what does that say about the safety of our food supply? How to ensure your meal tonight is safe, creating a safer, healthier kitchen... video - simple ways to pack less, most useful hotel perks /least necessary, the essential travel guide for non-travelers, Easy, affordable weekend getaways, Life hacks that save you thousands a year....

Trade shows, course descriptions, workshops. I love looking through conference session lists for ideas. If they're talking about it to an audience, then there's an idea that needs some more attention brought to it. The same goes for courses you see online, at colleges, in seminars, etc. Even a workshop can be a springboard for at least one article idea.

Your own imagination. Read your next article and watch your next video with the goal of finding at least two questions you want answers to. Those could lead you to larger questions, which could become your next article ideas. How and when to force tulip bulbs, how to upholster arm chairs, easy fat-cutting switches you can make to your meals.....look at what you do all day and ask yourself what you'd like to do differently or learn to do.

Or just use a random idea generator and try to come up with three questions on whatever idea appears on your screen.

Writers, what's your process for locating ideas?
Do you have a process or do they come to you naturally?
Where have your best ideas come from?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How to Win at Marketing Every Time

What's on the iPod: Already Gone by The Eagles

Yesterday was a day of planning. I finished a ton of work last week, and now I can take a much slower pace to finish other projects. Plus, I worked on setting up in-person meetings at the upcoming conference. I had one person cancel -- not unexpectedly, but without a single word accompanying the cancellation. Not terribly professional. Probably a good thing we couldn't come to an agreement.

I had a call from a lovely woman who sells insurance. She had read an article of mine on how agents can market more effectively. She had specific questions, and she had some frustrations. Like a lot of people trying to attract more customers, she'd listened to advice from this person or that person, paid too much money for a list of names/addresses, and came up lighter in the pocket for it. She's doing everything right. But it's not working.

So how was she to attract customers, she asked? Sally, this post is for you.

It doesn't matter what business you're in -- you have customers. In only one case did a client ever tell me he didn't really want to attract customers (yes, he really said that), and in that case there's no helping (and I still can't quite get the logic behind his approach).

The goal is to reach as many clients as you can without spending a fortune doing so.

So for all the Sallys out there -- whether you're an insurance agent or a freelance writer or a landscaper -- here's the best way I know to win at marketing:

Be consistent. I told Sally this, and it applies to all of us. It's like hockey-- the more you shoot at the net, the better your chances of scoring. But you have to keep shooting. If you contact that client six times and hear nothing, you'll never know if the seventh time was the one time they were looking for just what you were selling. I tell this story to the point of redundancy -- I had talked with a client in email and in person who was interested. Nine months after our first contact, I sent out one more "checking in" email. She bought. My persistence resulted in an extra $24K in my pocket that year.

Be helpful. If you go at this marketing plan of yours with the idea that you'll give them this can't-pass-it-up offer and not build a relationship, you're going nowhere fast. Think about how you like to buy. You want to buy from someone who's nice, helpful, and who gives you information that can help you solve a problem (or entertain you). Think relationship first, sales after the fact.

Don't be pushy. I remember winning a lease on a new car from one of the trade shows. The lease was for two years. At the time, my daughter had just turned 16, so I checked the insurance rates. That "free" lease was going to cost me $7,700 for two years of insurance on a teenager, no matter what car she drove. I called the dealer and told him I couldn't take the lease and why. For the next two weeks, he called me incessantly, pestering the hell out of me to try to change my mind. I was polite on his first call, but when he refused to hear what I was saying and talked over me, I hung up. Each subsequent call went right to voice mail.  If you're pushing something someone doesn't want, you're going to become the newest plague to hit their lives. No one ever wins people over by wearing them down.

Don't forget to review your message. I told Sally that if she sends out postcards or emails or newsletters and doesn't see any results, she should look at the product, the targeted customer, and the message to see why. And as I said to Sally, chances are it isn't the product but either the people you're trying to sell to or the words you're using to convince them to buy. Marketing is an active pursuit; you can't simply create a plan and then never do anything else. You have to get used to watching how people respond or don't respond and adjusting your approach as you go.

Be on social media. Sally said she liked Facebook, and that someone told her she has to be on Facebook in order to get customers. Those of you who know me know how I get when someone says we MUST do anything. There is no requirement or magic bullet, period. I don't have a Facebook page for my business, and I have lots of clients. I told Sally (and I'll tell you) as long as you're comfortable with the platform, it's the right one. I love Twitter. Sally doesn't, so it's not going to work for her. Some writers love LinkedIn, while others think Google+ is the way to go. If you're able to find a way to reach potential customers via social media, it doesn't matter the platform. What matters is you keep it up.

Be consistent. Yea, I know. I said it already. But dammit, it's the most important part of marketing, and it's the part that's going to get you results.

Writers, how do you win at marketing?
What can you tell Sally and others like her about reaching potential customers?
How often do you change up what you're doing?

Thursday, April 09, 2015

33 Places to Learn New Writing Skills for Free

What's on the iPod: Late July by Shakey Graves


It's been a productive week so far. I've managed to write five articles for one client (complete with interviews, so I had to be efficient about it) and two blog posts for another client. There's one more feature article due to the first client, so that's today's focus. Plus I had to market for my upcoming conference.

I've had zero time to market for it, too. But I've managed two client meetings and a few I have yet to arrange. If I can meet with four new people in sit-down meetings at the conference, I'll have reached my goal.

I was reading a LinkedIn group and I saw a freelancer asking about a particular type of project and what it pays. Right away, the sales people came out. "My course is here and costs just $600!" (I'm paraphrasing.) It's the sort of response that serves one person -- the sales person.

Mind you, if you're selling something like that, more power to you. But when someone asks on a public forum for advice, it's a little tacky to be shoving your course in front of them.

So why not offer free help? That's what today's post is about -- free training and education to help you improve your freelance writing business. It's not a comprehensive list, but I did try to include a little bit of everything.

Attracting Clients: From Freelance Writing Tips, probably the most comprehensive post on exactly where clients are and how you can reach them.

Business Foundations certificate course. When it comes to business, there's nothing to compare to The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania. And when you can get certification from the best program for free? Why wouldn't you?

Business Leaflet writing: Sharon Hurley Hall has a lot of great information on her blog. This is one example.

Business Planning: Follow the "business plan" tag to get to my series on putting together a business plan.

Business Writing. Another free course, this one from UC/Irvine.

Case Study Writing. The most fun you'll have writing about user experiences. Academic Help gives you a free guide on how to start.

Creating a Writing Portfolio: Sharon Hurley Hall does it again. This time, she tells us what goes into a winning portfolio.

Cleaning Your Copy: Thanks to a grant, this one is free from the Poynter Institute. Brush up on your grammar, style and more.

Competitive Decision Making & Negotiation: MIT teaches you how to negotiate and make decisions that help you be more competitive in business.

Digital Marketing. Great e-textbook that walks you through the digital marketing experience from concept to analytics.

Entrepreneurship 101: MIT teaches you - for free - how to identify your customer.

Ethics in Journalism: This course should be mandatory for anyone writing for a living. The Poynter Institute offers this one.

Free Reports. This course shows you how to build free reports into your marketing strategy. And yes, you should.

Freelance Site that Delivers Leads: From FreelanceLift, learn how to get more oomph from your site. Not totally free -- this course costs $1.

Marketing 101: Right here. Just follow the Marketing Series tags and get going on a new approach today.

Online Business Building certification. Alison, a free certificate-based education source, helps you get your business online.

Online Media Law. Learn about copyright infringement, defamation and invasion of privacy. A must if you work online.

Power Writing. I love Udemy. Not only can you get low-cost courses, you can get free ones like this one, which teaches how to create business opportunities through power writing.

Press releases: A basic primer via PRWeb, and a good place to start.

Press Releases Made Easy. Jenn Mattern's free e-book that explains the fundamentals.

Pricing your services. Thanks to Cathy Miller for pointing out the SCORE.org website, which is loaded with free training and advice. This webinar can help you understand how to price your services.

Query Writing: Easy approach I use. Adapt it to suit your own needs.

Resume Writing. Another great Udemy freebie, resume writing can give you a steady income stream.

Sales Page Writing. Great primer from Writer Mindset's Simon Townley

Social Marketing. A great learning resource from OpenLearn.

Social Media Marketing diploma. From Alison, a free certificate-based education site, learn all about the web, files and affiliate marketing for increasing traffic.

SWOT Analysis Worksheet: If you've never conducted a SWOT analysis of your writing business, here's an easy worksheet via All Indie Writers. In fact, check out all of Jenn Mattern's free resources.

Technology for Professional Writers: A great offering by Utah State University.

Top Tips Series: Brought to you by some of the best writers I know, this is a great combination of ideas and strategies for writers at all career levels.

Trade Magazine Writing: Mark Lamendola does a great job explaining how to break in to this lucrative area.

Travel Blogging: Grab the free Travel Blogging 101 from Travel Blogger Academy.

Writer Website Building: Ruby Bayan has a sensible, easy plan for writers building their websites.

Writing White Papers. Jenn Mattern outlines the basics of white paper writing.

Writers, what free resources can you recommend?

Words on the Page