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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

6 Ways to Work with Writing Clients

What's on the iPod: Nessun Dorma by Luciano Pavarotti

Have an idea for a post or want to guest post? Write to me at lwbean AT gmail and let's talk! Beginners especially welcome to submit posts dicusssing challenges they face.

This is an abbreviated week for me. My mom is arriving tomorrow, and I have an article deadline shortly after she arrives home again. Not a problem -- I planned ahead and have all but a few hundred words written. I'm waiting for input from a source, but the questions I have are very specific, so I'll be able to drop in quotes or easily amend the content to make them fit with the story. Not an ideal way to write, but sometimes a little flexibility is necessary.

Despite having a lot of work show up last week that should keep me busy through May, I'm still marketing. Summer months can be quite slow if we writers don't plan ahead. I have a wedding to help with and a surprise for my parents, so the additional work would be terrific.

I can thank some really great clients for my ability to take time off when needed. I do my part and let them know in advance so we can coordinate projects more easily. It's just one way I try to work well with clients -- anticipating their needs and helping find work-around solutions when life gets in the way.

Sometimes the work comes during your first client meeting. Here are some ways you can create the environment that allows you to work best with your writing clients:

Listen. Don't come to your phone calls, emails, or meetings with a set agenda. Instead, have an open mind and open ears. Listen. Ask questions that show you're listening. Take notes. Practice active listening and then apply it to your client conversations.

Ask smart questions. As your client is interviewing you, you should be interviewing them right back. What are the goals of the project? Who is the intended audience? What has worked/not worked in the past? What can you give them that they're not seeing now? These questions not only get you the information you need to deliver a great product, but they show your willingness to get things right.

Know your boundaries. Sometimes clients will ask you to do things that you're just not going to want to do. Say so. For example, I remember being asked to write a love letter. The client dangled money in front of me. Even if it had been more than fifty bucks (seriously?), I would have still said no. My reasons were myriad, but the main point was love letters should come from the heart, not the ghost writer. It's okay to turn down any request you're uncomfortable with.

Decide if you have time. Right now, I couldn't take on one more thing this week. I'd have no problem saying so, either. Does the intended deadline fit within your current workload? If not, can you get the client to be flexible on delivery? Get all this sorted before you start working together.

Make it binding. Once you come to an agreement with your client, get it in writing. For me, no work starts without a signed contract. Spell out all project details, including steps you'll take and what you expect of the client, if you can. The more detail, the better.

Charge for scope creep. How many times has a client asked for A, B, and C and then decided after the fact that D, E, and F should go in there, too. You may have thought "Okay, just this once." But here's what happens most times. You do the additional work for the same amount of money and the client then comes back with G, H, and I for you to take on. What now? If the original scope of the work changes at all, charge for it. Otherwise, you could find yourself in that Groundhog-Day style loop of endless work for no extra money.

Writers, how do you create better working relationships with your clients?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Free Advice Friday: This Job, Not That Job

What's on the iPod: The Loneliness & The Scream by Frightened Rabbit

I'm running a virtual marathon right now -- two articles are done, one more to go, one other project to complete this morning, and a world of stuff waiting for me in May. I love it. Makes you feel alive.

Since I'm busy today, let's get right to it. Here is this week's free advice. Well, it's all free, but today it'

Free Advice Friday: This Job, Not That Job

Ah, the return of the incredibly bad, pathetic, and vague job listings. How we've missed them, uh, not at all. Here's the latest drivel from Craig's List:

Ghost Writer
Interested in fast ways to make money? We guarantee pay every 8 days for content analysis. New content creators need to have a high school diploma along with give effective results . Send us an e-mail to start building your online business.

compensation: 50+

Wow. Okay, let's just tick through these in order.

Fast ways to make money. That's the equivalent of saying "Make a few bucks in your spare time on very tight deadlines." If it's fast money, that means turnaround times are going to be just as fast. High demand for quick content is my read.

We guarantee pay every 8 days for content analysis. Okay, that makes no sense at all. The job is ghost writing, which is already weird enough to need anonymous content quickly. Paying every 8 days? Why not every 7 days? Starting to smell a bit. Content analysis-- are you expected to write and be analyzed or are you the one doing the analysis? 

New content creators need to have a high school diploma along with give effective results. Stop. My eyes are bleeding. If this ad was written by your "editor" your diploma isn't going to make any difference. That's the worst sentence I've seen in eons. The good news is you can pretty much hand in garbage and it will outshine this crap.

Send us an e-mail to start building your online business. There's the carrot. They're implying that working with them will mean you have your own business. Sure you will, and it will start out in the worst possible way -- turning out fast content that's edited by people who can't string together coherent sentences.

Compensation: 50+ Talk about vague -- is that fifty dollars, fifty cents or fifty copies of the file you just wrote? Fifty goats? Fifty pesos? What? Whatever it is, the number fifty is entirely too low in any currency.

Instead try something like this:

Quill Magazine

Looking for topics of general interest to journalists. Also looking for technical and how-to pieces.

Pays $150 to $800 for 800 to 2,500 words.

Better, isn't it? While 800 words at $150 isn't exactly setting your career on fire, it's a legitimate publication and you know at the outset what they need and what they pay.

Writers, what else can you see wrong with that first ad?
How low before it's too low for you to accept?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

10 Essential Freelance Writing Lessons

What I'm reading: Fraud by Anita Brookner
What's on the iPod: What Happened by Corey Smith

This has been the single most productive week I've had all year and it's only Wednesday morning. I've finished one article, nearly finished another, have one more interview for a third, started on a fourth, and have interviews lined up for a fifth. Plus somewhere in there I worked on article blurbs and marketed for more work.

I have to be busy -- next week is an abbreviated week, and I have plenty of deadlines.

One of the lessons you learn as a freelancer is that while your time is indeed your own to schedule and command, you're still tied to deadlines and obligations in a way that can disrupt vacations, weddings, family gatherings, and even sick days. Regular employees get paid time off where bosses are discouraged/forbidden from calling or expecting work while they're away. Freelancers? You can take time off, but if that huge client contract comes in at the start of your two-week vacation and you're not there to get the message, you could lose a lucrative relationship.

You learn to build a network, pay for the international roaming charges, or just accept that sometimes the big ones get away. And you learn to be okay with that.

Like deadlines and obligations, other freelance lessons become obvious after you've done this writing thing for a while. They include:

Charging like you mean it. Maybe you started out at $30 an hour because that was where you'd hoped to be earning in a 9-to-5 situation. However, this is not a standard job. No employer is subsidizing your retirement or your health insurance; your taxes, insurance, IRA, etc. are now all on you. Once you realize that, you begin to increase the price to a more reasonable $75-150 hourly rate.

Keeping it all business. I've been rejected, lied to, talked down to, insulted, cheated, you name it. Running a business may feel like dating, but there shouldn't be any emotional attachment to the one who did you wrong. If you worry about the client who's shouting about your "horrible grammar" you might overlook the fact that his fussing started right about the time you added the second late fee to the invoice. If you ignore the emotional BS and stick with the facts, you'll soon see a snow job forming and be able to stop it in its tracks.

Working with proper paperwork. Contracts are essential. Will you use a contract for every single job you do? Unlikely, but when you first sign on with any client, contracts or emailed terms should be in place before you lift a finger. Getting burned once on payment is usually enough to drive home the importance of signed contracts.

Not chasing the paycheck. When you first start out, you're looking for two things: clips and cash. Once you get the clips, your focus turns to cash. But shifting the focus to the quality of clients makes that cash dash unimportant. Quality begets a fair rate almost every time (almost).

Marketing as a daily activity. Even with all these projects in front of me, I'm still marketing to new and existing clients. Once the desk clears, that feeling of accomplishment is quickly replaced by the realization that no other earning possibility is on your desk. Keeping that flow going is essential to freelance survival.

Allowing a posse onto your project kills it. My contracts allow for anyone to be involved in the project if I know about them and they are named in the contract. Otherwise, you get two months into a nearly completed project only to hear that the client's Uncle Marvin doesn't like the topic and thinks you should start from scratch. A "no third parties" clause helps punctuate the importance of knowing all the players up front.

Trusting your instincts. You've entered into those projects where things just didn't feel right, and darned if they didn't turn out awful. After a few times of ignoring your intuition, you learn that sometimes your gut knows better than your brain what's right for you. Once you learn to trust that feeling, you'll not regret your decision.

Challenging yourself creates more opportunity. Whether it's perfecting your skills, learning how to put together new-to-you products, or studying a new area of concentration, the more you learn, the more opportunities that will be opened to you. I learned about insurance and risk management. Now it's my mainstay specialty. From there, I started dabbling in finance, and now more into the specialized workers compensation field. No matter what you do now, you can find ways to transition that into new areas, or you can perfect a weak area and own it.

Inserting healthy skepticism. Be it a too-good-to-be-true offer or realizing your coach or guru is just parroting old information and charging you up the wazoo for it, opening your eyes and examining what's in front of you with a "Yea, right" attitude really can help you avoid some costly mistakes.

Believing in what you do. It's so easy when you're starting out to listen to the negative voices, both those of low-paying clients and those in your own head, and doubt yourself. Rejection is never personal, and if it is, shame on the idiot client who makes it so. It's a reflection on that person, not you. Once you realize your work has value and your standards are respected by others, you're able to defend (or better yet, ignore) the voices that are trying to bring you down. I was told a month ago my pricing was outrageous. Had I believed those words, I wouldn't have gone on to be hired by six clients this month who think my pricing (which is exactly the same) is fair for the quality and attention they receive.

Writers, what lessons has freelance writing taught you?
What one thing can you tell beginning writers about the job that someone had/you wish someone had told you?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Organization Times Three

What's on the iPod: Sweet Child O' Mine by Guns 'N Roses

Weekends? Do people still have those? We are in full-blown wedding mode, and it's about to get nuts. Saturday we were in Baltimore meeting one bride's family. Sunday we were in Lancaster for another bride's (my daughter's) dress fitting. In two weeks we have the first of three bridal showers, two of which occur on the same day. I never made it to Connecticut to see my son, but I hope to get there this weekend, unless he's managed to get fitted for his suit without me shoving him toward the store. If that's the case, I can visit when things slow down.

So far, I've coordinated hotels for some guests, paid for alterations (nearly as much as the damn dress -- thieves), put my tax forms in order (not filed yet, but he's working on it), kept myself in the loop with what the bridesmaids are planning, and worked in the garden. That was yesterday. Saturday was all about Baltimore. We thought it would be a short trip. It turned into an all-day affair. We missed my husband's department cocktail party as a result, arriving home well after midnight.

I was thinking about organization skills as I watched two different couples planning their weddings simultaneously. Maybe it's the curse of being a freelancer, but I view the details each bride struggles over as things I'd have checked off my list quickly. One bride is clearly more prepared than the other, but there are different circumstances affecting each one. One's job is infinitely more demanding, so her details are nowhere near finished. The other one is hyper-organized and has evenings and weekends to get things finished.

People are different and operate under different sets of constraints. It's no clearer to me than right now, watching these young ladies pull together details for their big day(s). In my daughter's case, she has her mom to help tie up details, and she has a supportive bunch of bridesmaids (they deserve medals for how supportive they've been), and she started planning the instant the ring hit her finger. My future stepdaughter-in-law is a chief resident with no time, no fiance close by (he's a state away working), and is trying to please two cultures at once while staying true to herself. The help she's getting is most likely not of the same level as my daughter. Still, she's getting it done.

It's much like that in our freelance writing world, isn't it? Some of us are married to spouses with benefits, which lightens the load in a major way. Some of us are riding it out without insurance, fingers crossed. Some of us are paying mortgages, raising kids, caring for parents, replacing ancient cars or furnaces, etc. Each of us has a different set of circumstances we're bringing to the desk as we sit down to write.

What I admire about every one of us -- we take up the challenges and work our arses off to meet those obligations.

Maybe that's what frosts me when I see writers taking any old job, any rate, and any story a non-paying client will use as an excuse. There's too much at stake -- many of us have too much skin in the game to just accept things as they're presented to us (or demanded of us).

Like a bride trying to convince a caterer that the contracted price is all she's paying (and I'll be damned if they're going to get away with the "Other charges may be incurred and will be applied at the time of invoice" line -- you either tell me now what it costs or take it to court where you can explain why a signed contract doesn't matter), writers need to defend their boundaries, their businesses, like it's a matter of life or death. It's certainly a matter of life -- a successful, fulfilled life -- and yes, it can be death if writers allow themselves to be controlled and their business terms to be dictated to them by people who may have bad intentions.

But back to organization for a minute -- today, I'll be finishing one story, hopefully finishing a second story, conducting an interview, and finalizing another interview date for a third story. Plus, there's garden work to be done, my daily exercise regimen to fit in, and dinner. Then back to taxes.

An organized life, in my book, is an easier one to stand up for. If you know what your value is (and have the clients to show for it), you can turn down the offers that don't fit or walk away from the clients who aren't going to respect you.

Next month we'll be celebrating the 6th Annual Writers Worth awareness campaign. I went on a tangent back in 2008 about writers not understanding the value of their skills, and it's blossomed from one day to a month of motivation. This year, join us. Offer a guest post. Negotiate that higher rate. Reach out to higher-paying clients. Say no to what doesn't fit. Do something this May that respects you and your writing business. Organize your confidence around your career. Create and use those boundaries. Find some way to make yourself happy with what you do.

Who's in?

If you'd like to guest post, please send me a note at lwbean AT gmail.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Free Advice Friday: The Organized Writer

What's on the iPod: Corazon Espinado by Santana

I've had quite the busy week. I started out with four article assignments. Now there are six. Luckily, the articles are practically writing themselves. Still, one or two topics are proving hard to find commentary for. So I worked instead on those I knew I could get done right away as I tried to line up interviews for the others.

One deadline occurs right as my mom comes into town, so it gets priority. It also means I have to juggle the rest while she's here. That's the freelance writer's eternal struggle, isn't it? Clients and work never appear when we're sitting here with no plans. It's when that vacation is scheduled or that much-needed day off arrives that everything shows up at once. It's happened to me so often I've come to plan for it.

That's today's Free Advice Friday topic: organizing our writing lives.

Free Advice Friday: The Organized Writer
I'll confess right now that I'm hyper-organized by nature. I'm hard-wired to be on time, every time. My husband jokes about my need to be five minutes early or right on time to any event. He's not that way, and at times, I secretly appreciate his ability to drift in and out of punctuality. However, when it comes to my work life, I can't be so relaxed.

In truth, it's a great trait to have if you're self-employed as we writers are. When the work piles up at once --and you can count on it happening -- the more organized you are, the better.

Let's use my current situation as an example. Today I'm driving to Connecticut to see my son. Taxes aren't done yet, but I've left behind an itemized list of the information my husband will need to finish the taxes, complete with locations of all files in case he needs to go over utilities, expenses, etc.

I'm also in charge of a small list of items to finalize/buy for my daughter's wedding. And I'm in charge of cupcakes and flowers for the shower. Plus, my mom is coming for a visit. Add to that two deadlines before May 1st and one more that I want to finish now rather than later. Mom will be here the 23rd and staying until the following Monday. Those are three days I won't be working. I need to conduct interviews, research another topic, and clear the desk before May's projects (which are starting to pile up) come in.

Here's how I get organized. Feel free to copy verbatim or amend the way I do things to suit yourself:

Schedule interviews now. The minute the articles came in, I scheduled the interviews. Because I know whom it is I want to talk to before I send queries, that helps. But not all these articles were pitches -- a number of them were assigned. So that means I need to find commentary.

Segment your day. Mornings are usually an hour or two of writing and one hour for interviews. Afternoons are research, interviews with West coasters, marketing, and more writing.

Keep a running list of all current projects. Mine are printed out in front of me, and I've used my Sharpie to announce the deadline and word count for each one. I'm working on three simultaneously, so I keep those on top during the mornings, then shift to the others during the afternoon.

Plan out the personal time. Yea, Mom's coming on a Wednesday because I told her Sunday wasn't going to work. I need at least two and a half days to make sure those deadlines are met and the subsequent work is well under control. If I didn't need to visit my son this weekend, it would have waited. Alas, he's in his sister's wedding and he needs a suit (and a push toward the store)...

Keep copious notes. When I schedule interviews, it's really easy to get the wrong person talking about the wrong thing. So when I schedule, I put on the calendar the person, the topic, the questions (key if you're trying to juggle a ton of things at once), and the contact person should you need to reschedule. When I record calls, I note the folder and recording number on my notepad (I never work without a safety net). Then I upload the interview immediately to my hard drive should the unthinkable happen (tape recorders drop and break, recordings get erased accidentally...).

Think weeks out. None of this would work if I didn't have my eyes four weeks into the future. Actually, right now I'm two months out as my daughter's wedding is fast approaching. My mother's visit was planned months ago and was amended the minute the project deadlines coincided.

Time your schedule. When I'm completely overwhelmed (and yes, I'm close to that right now), I get the kitchen timer and set it for an hour. Then I write like that's the only hour I have. When it rings, I take a quick break, decide what I'm doing next (usually I have it planned out in advance), then set the timer for the next task. If you're like me and have a tendency to jump up from your chair and pace two rooms away, this is a good tool to keep you planted in that chair.

Writers, how do you organize a busy schedule? 
Where are your strengths? What areas could use some improvement?

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

10 Avoidable Marketing Mistakes

What's on the iPod: Late March, Death March by Frightened Rabbit

Piper welcoming us to the Tattoo
What a weekend. It's Tartan Week in New York City, and the festivities began Friday. We took part of the day off Friday and headed up for Saturday's kirkin o' the tartan and the parade, which we participate in every year. It was, per usual, a great time. We met up with people we see once a year -- annual friends, as it were.

Needless to say, a weekend in Manhattan equals a ton of walking. Saturday alone, we logged just under five miles on foot. Friday wasn't so bad, as we'd found a fantastic tapas restaurant within a block of our hotel. Sunday, we took the subway to meet his brother at the Harvard Club for breakfast, then walked ten blocks to Penn Station for the ride home.

A train ride is a perfect opportunity to tie up some work details, so I spent the ride up coordinating interviews and responding to important emails. On the way back, I caught up on blog reading and generally browsed the Internet. For every one good piece of advice (not advice labeled "MUST DO"), there are scores of lousy pieces of advice. What concerns me isn't that this stuff is floating out there, but that writers may be listening.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the largest mistakes you can make if you're a freelance writer trying to market your business:

Market to your entire customer list every day. Maybe you remember my encounter with a good friend who did just that. If you're in doubt about the message you're sending and whether it's too often, ask yourself how many emails of the same nature you read in a week. Right. I like to reach out every week or so to some of my potential clients -- for me, that's just enough time to let them know I'm there and to remind them of my background.

Hound the hell out of people via social media. We've all read the advice "Scan LinkedIn/Twitter/Facebook for clients." That's different than sending out mass mailings to everyone on LinkedIn, trying to sell to people the minute they view your profile, or setting up 20 Twitter blasts a day promoting your latest book or advertising your brilliance. Know those Twitter people or LinkedIn group people who put up promotion after promotion? Know how annoying that is to you? Don't be like that.

Adopt hashtag overload. While I don't believe there should be any hard-and-fast rules on how many hashtags a person uses, use your head. If four looks like too many, find a way to send the message out to those various groups in different ways. I use no more than three before I think it looks too unreadable. Pay attention to your message and your audience.

Argue both sides of the issue for the Google juice. Ho hum. How boring (and obvious) can you be if today you say content mills are the devil's spawn and tomorrow you advocate everyone try it at least once? Really boring. Inciting debates by purposefully flipflopping on an issue may get you instant traffic and blog followers, but what are the side effects of that? Lack of trust from your audience, clients who aren't sure you're able to be honest with them, followers unsubscribing, and your reputation taking a hefty hit -- just for starters. No website ranking is worth people thinking your not genuine. If I can't trust what you're saying, I'm going to stop listening.

Write a really long sales pitch complete with bold fonts and abundant exclamation points. Does this ever work? Yes, but writers and people marketing to writers have adopted what could be the worst possible approach for their audience. Maybe it's just me, but I was taught in J school to let the words do the work, not the punctuation. If you know how to write and your idea has merit, you don't need to resort to trickery. Also, be succinct. Tell us what you're selling, how much, and how it's going to benefit us.

Avoid controversial conversations. Be it on your blog or with your potential clients, don't ignore the pushback. In some cases, clients will get insulting -- that's okay to ignore (completely-- and lose their contact info). What isn't okay is to do what one former blogger did and delete comments that didn't support the blogger's own particular stance. Whether taking on a client's objections or conflicting beliefs or those of a blog community, be true to yourself and allow others to be true to themselves. You may never agree, but you won't lose respect by allowing others to have their say.

Insert your politics. I've seen an increase in politically charged notes in my in box over the last decade. In one case, I disagreed completely with what the colleague was saying and how he was presenting his political views to his customers. It had nothing to do with his business, so why did he think insulting half his client base was a good move? In another case, I agreed completely. Still, I was no less offended, because to me, Starbucks should be selling me a beverage, not stumping for a political party to its customers. They nearly lost my business on that one.

Lie. Is that webinar or e-course really about to sell out? Am I an award-winning journalist or did I merely win a contest? Have you really written tons of advertising content, or are you counting every line in that one press release as a slogan, caption, company profile, and announcement? Those who know me know I don't like absolute statements, but this one is one to live by: Never overstate your background. Instead, be truthful, but point out the similarities (if there are any) between the job required and ones you've completed in the past.

Tell your potential clients how great you are. It only matters a little who you are and what you can do. What's primary is how that benefits your clients. Do they care that you have six degrees from four colleges? Only if you show them how that background can make them money. Remove the "I" from your sales pitch and replace it with "you."

Apologize. Whether it's for not having the exact background they require or simply for bothering them with your note, your apology translates as lack of skill. Any writer worth his or her fee would approach a client with confidence, show them how their skills can translate into the best money that company has ever spent, and convince that client that they're capable of forging a successful partnership.

Writers, what mistakes do you see in marketing?
What methods work for you/appeal to you?
What doesn't?

Friday, April 04, 2014

Free Advice Friday: This Job, Not That Job

What's on the iPod: Middle Brother by Middle Brother

After a slow beginning, this year just became busy -- really busy. I spent this week working on two articles, scheduling interviews for a third, and researching a fourth. Plus, I did a good bit of marketing. I heard from a few regular clients about work that's coming in -- one gig possibly today and the other one at the end of the month. Work-wise, I'm set up well for May because the fourth article in as many weeks is due June 1st.

Also, an article I had a blast writing just appeared on the latest cover of Risk Management Magazine: Marijuana: The Implications of Legalization. It's a serious topic, but so much fun to write those subheads and inject those subtle puns. Tastefully, of course. Since this year's conference is in Denver, my pitch was right on target and at just the right time.

Besides the pitched stories, I've been getting assignments from editors, which is where any freelance writer would love to be. When they find you with the idea in hand, it makes your job just a little easier. But for every freelance writer who has built that kind of reputation, there's another freelance writer who's just starting out and hasn't a single clip.

Do yourself a favor: start your freelance writing career out right. Be choosy at the outset and learn to let your instincts have a large say in what you take on. That means learning to read every job offer, every advertisement with a jaundiced eye. As you read, you should be asking yourself "How many things are wrong with this offer?"

That leads us to this week's free advice: the return of my This Job, Not That Job series.

Free Advice Friday: This Job, Not That Job
This ad comes to me via Jenn Mattern of the fantastic site, All Indie Writers. Jenn found this "offer" and thought it would be perfect for this series. Jenn, thank you. It's a prime example of why writers need to vet every job listing carefully.

We are looking for an exceptional ghostwriters to create content for a very specialized new blog in the home care/ home healthcare niche. 

The flat fee for this project is $400.00 

For this initial project, I am looking for a writer to research & create 40 articles (10 articles of approximately 1000 words each and 30 short posts between 250 – 500 words each). These shorter posts/articles will simply cover the topics in the 10 longer articles in more specific detail. 

In other words, if you write one longer article on a specific topic, you will write 3 more shorter posts about that same article, only the shorter articles will have their own headlines and cover smaller pieces of the longer articles. These shorter posts are ultra specific in nature. 

For example: If one of the longer articles is about “3 things to consider before choosing a home care provider for a loved one”, then you would write 3 shorter and more specific posts that go into more detail about some of the points discussed in the longer article. 

Each of the 10 longer articles will have 3 ultra specific shorter posts that break down the info in each of the 10 longer articles in more detail. 

For this set of articles I will provide you with the topic as well as the keyword for each article. 

In order to submit: 

You must write “Home Care” in your response to be considered for this job. 

You must submit a sample with the below requirements. 


- Each of the 10 longer articles must be approximately 1000 words. 
- Each shorter supporting post should be between 250 -500 words. 
- Each article must be original and unique. 
- Each article must be informative & well researched. 
- Each article must be free of spelling mistakes, grammar errors and must be correctly punctuated. 
- Plagiarism is strictly prohibited. Articles must pass Copyscape test. 

Did they get your attention with $400? Sounded pretty good, didn't it? Why this job is such a dangerous one:

  • It's not $400 per article - it's $400 total for 40 articles and 30 posts. 
  • It's a specialty topic, which means they have to be well-researched (time-consuming) and you should have a solid understanding of the industry.
  • They want an unpaid sample before they hire you. Right. Show of hands--how many people believe they're using those free samples and not hiring anyone? (My hand is up.)
  • They're not editing --"free of spelling mistakes, grammar errors and must be correctly punctuated" -- ironically, they've just told you how perfect you have to be in a grammatically incorrect sentence.
  • "Original and unique." By whose standards, I wonder? A loophole to avoid paying you -- if, in fact, they ever hire anyone (remember those free samples?).
  • For $400, you get to write anywhere from 22,500 to 30,000 words. That's half a small book, people.
I can't go on. The evidence is making my eyes bleed.

There are other options. This is one:

NurseWeek (biweekly magazine)

Needs articles on nursing, specifically interview and personal experience. Looking for topics such as clinical care, health-related legislative updates, community health programs, professional development, new clinical care approaches, etc. 

Pays $200-800 for 900 words.

That's 900 words, not 90,000 words. On the surface, the pay looks like it could be lower ($200), but once you dissect the first offer, it's easy to see how much better this offer is in comparison. Plus you're getting a published clip from a legitimate publishing source, not one you've not heard of. While the rates still aren't fabulous, if you're starting out, these types of markets can help you get established.

Writers, what were some of your first legitimate gigs?
How many lousy offers did you fall prey to? 
How did you avoid the same traps going forward?

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