Tag Archives: Career Building

Three Online Portfolios to Promote Your Writing

A bit ago I wrote on getting paid and my old friend Dustin over at Voodoo Knickers noted that I made it sound like getting paid is the end all, be all of writing. This is not the case at all; the astute readers among you will note I am not getting paid to blog here or on the Social Media Philosophy Project, and that my writing appears in various places on the net in the form of guest-posts and commentaries. I am also extremely active in social media and the online technology scene and am constantly putting out content of various types, all for free. Why do I do all of this? Well, it got you here, didn’t it?

As my colleague Brett Borders put it in the comments to this post:

The web is ultra-competitive and with 30,000,000 free channels for people to surf… they’re eventually only gonna be able to focus on the ones that are the most unique and interesting.

This is blunt but true. To make it in the new digital world you have to be able to get people to notice you. While social media is a great way of doing this, eventually that client or editor is going to want to see something you have written, and “7 Ways the Terminator Could Fail #terminator #fail ‘shortened link’ PLEASE RT!” isn’t going to cut it. You are going to need a portfolio, and you are going to want it public. While you can host it yourself like I do, that isn’t always an option for a starting writer, so what you need is a good site where you can host your portfolio and get noticed. Here are three sites where you can display and promote your writing online.

Behance Network

The Behance Network has a truly remarkable range of creative talents on display. They cover just about every field you can imagine and their site is very sharp and professional. From their site:

Behance is a company that designs products and services that empower the creative world to make ideas happen. Behance is founded on the principle of “Productive Creativity.” Too often, great ideas never materialize. Creative people are rarely lacking inspiration; rather, they lack effective processes and tools to make their ideas happen. The Behance team studies exceptionally productive people and teams working in creative fields. We document the methods and resources that these productive creative professionals use to push their ideas forward. We then develop products and services based on the best practices that we discover through our research.

Behance allows users to create groups called “Circles” and follow other users, similar to most social networks, but differentiates itself through its overall feel, where it tries to pull the mystique of the gallery and museum into everything they do. The work there is highly visual, but their writing section is nothing to sneer at.

Redbubble

Redbubble is a great site and up for a Webby. While they are very focused on visual design, art, and t-shirt designs, they also have a creative writing section that allows for a fast-moving, very Web 2.0 delivery. From the site:

RedBubble is a vibrant global community of people with creative interests. It’s something different for each of us:

  • a place to share the illustrations you create at night,
  • a forum to seek feedback on the story you’re writing,
  • a creative antidote to the day job,
  • lunch break entertainment,
  • a gallery to inspire,
  • a marketplace to buy and sell unique works of art and,
  • a place to be inspired by like–minded people.

RedBubble is a forum for self expression, an inclusive art gallery and a supportive and welcoming community.

While they don’t let you sell your writing, they have a great following and your writing will get seen. The community and quality of the work varies more than Behance, but that is part of the appeal of the site, which provides an more modern, anarchic online atmosphere.

TalentTrove

These are the underdogs of the list, an up-and-coming site who I was originally a bit leery of but grew on me as I delved. TalentTrove, like Behance, does a whole lot, providing just about every kind of creative amateur or professional a venue for their work. From their press kit:

TalentTrove.com is a unique platform that fuses characteristics of social networking communities and media sharing websites to form an all encompassing talent portal completely devoted to artists. Users of TalentTrove.com are provided a space to showcase their talent(s) and be heard and seen worldwide. The nature of TalentTrove.com supports an environment where people can collaborate and find other like-minded users, all the while presenting themselves to scouts and talent agents who are utilizing the site to find the next big star. A user’s homepage (called their MyStage) serves as a virtual resume where they can upload four different types of media: audio, video, images, and text.

Their site is slick and fast, full of social features, and they have started holding contests to promote the work of their users. They are also a truly international site, with users from all over the world, so for those of us (like myself) who find interaction with a lot of different personalities and ideas necessary for creative work, this might be just the site for you. They are bit younger than Behance or Redbubble, so don’t expect them to be getting a Webby or hitting the Techcrunch50 this year, but keep an eye on them, we could hear a lot of good things in the near future.

Go forth and promote yourselves!

Your homework (yes, there is homework; editors administer the exams!) is to go out, to either these sites or some other, and make your portfolio. Post the links here and the best work will get a review on thePuckWrites (paltry reward, I know, but the best I can offer). Now get out there!

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Four Sites to Sell Your Writing Online

Hemingway posing for a dust jacket photo by Ll...

Real writers get paid.

You hear me? Remember this, always. Want to know when you can call yourself a writer? The first time you get paid to write. I know this sounds mercenary as hell, but think it through. Carpenters get paid. Plumbers get paid. Surgeons get paid. Only in the creative fields do we say that someone can (and should) pursue the field, with all of the effort and study necessary to do it well, simply for the love of it, without expecting compensation of any kind. Too many of us help other people make money with our writing for free. This is unacceptable.

Hemingway got paid.

Show me the money.

I have already covered places to bid for freelance writing jobs, and I stand by what I said there, they are great sites and allow you to bid on some good jobs. The problem is that you have no way to assure yourself of an income on your terms and schedule. You may or may not win the bid, and there are people out there willing to write for next to nothing on those sites, ready to underbid you. Sometimes you just need the cash, sometimes you don’t want to deal with the bidding, and sometimes you already have things written that you can sell, and you need places where you know you can get paid.

Associated Content

Associated Content allows users to both submit articles for them to make an offer on and puts out calls for specific articles for writers to claim. From their site:

AC’s platform enables anyone to participate in the new content economy by publishing content on any topic, in any format (text, video, audio and images), and connects that content to consumers, partners and advertisers.

Downsides: The pay is very low. Upsides: You get traffic payoffs from them, so if your articles do well you will get ongoing payments. This site is perfect for the beginning writer who just needs to get some credits under their belt.

Bright Hub

Bright Hub focuses on tech and science articles and has a set payment per article. You apply for a contract with them and then join a team of writers working within a specific channel. From their site:

With an expert writer network and an active community of life-long enthusiasts Bright Hub provides a level of technology transparency rarely seen in high tech. The team of writers and managing editors utilize deep domain expertise to focus on creating valuable information for both novice and advanced consumers. With a content inventory of thousands of science and technology articles, software and hardware reviews, buyer’s guides, blog entries and forum discussions, Bright Hub is able to provide readers with a dependable resource to make informative technology decisions.

Downsides: You have quotas to meet and the editors can be demanding. Upsides: Bright Hub is solid, dependable work, you can work in multiple channels (though you end up having multiple editors, each with their own expectations and personality), and you are able to set your timetable by their schedule. While it is not going to make you rich, writers can make a full-time living from Bright Hub if they are motivated.

Demand Studios

Demand Studios is a subsidiary of Demand Media, and is a bit of a cross between Associated Content and Bright Hub. You apply for a position and once you get your contract you are able to claim or suggest articles from their internal menu. Each kind of article has a set price, and you claim and write what you want. There is a limit to how many you can claim at a time, but that limit increases as you write for them regularly. From their site:

Demand Studios enables talented freelancers to create valuable content, reach an audience of millions and earn money. Qualified content specialists can take part in the process, from making high-quality titles to editing finished content. We currently employ writers, filmmakers, copy editors, transcribers and title proofers, and we offer unique promotional opportunities for experts in all disciplines.

Downsides: Sometimes articles take a long time to get approved, meaning you can’t accept more assignments; this can really mess up your working timetable. Upsides: Demand is another low paying but dependable writing gig. You know you can make money there whenever you need to, and you can, once you can claim enough articles at a time, make a living from them.

Constant Content

Constant Content is a clearing house, allowing people to purchase and sell online content among themselves. Writers can sell different rights to their work to content publishers hungry for fresh content. From their site:

Constant-Content is a consignment shop for articles and pictures. Publishers can peruse the archive of articles, find the articles that they are looking for or use our system to reach out to authors and publish a request for new articles on your topic. Keeping content fresh on any site can be a lot of work, especially if you’re aiming to post new content very regularly. Constant-Content has a massive archive of articles and a community of writers who are keen to fulfill your content needs.

Constant-Content is unique in that we do not allow search engines to index our articles. As a consequence, when you purchase a unique or full rights license for one of our articles you can be certain that you will be the first on the Internet to post this article and you will receive the benefits of having unique, interesting and link-worthy content.

Upsides: You can get paid much more, sell work you already have sitting around, and get your work published all over the web. Downsides: Your work might not sell at all.

Tell me more.

I know there are a lot of other sites out there, these are just the ones that I like best and think are the best way for starting writers to establish themselves, get some credits, and most of all…get paid.

What about you? Tell me about your favorite sites to sell your work and I will feature them in a later post and give you credit.

Update (4-5-09)

It seems that Associated Content doesn’t pay out to non-U.S. residents. You just get traffic residuals.

Who is eligible to be paid?
You must be at least 18 years old to be paid by Associated Content. If you are also citizen or legal resident of the United States, you are eligible for both Upfront and Performance Payments. If you are not a citizen of legal resident of the United States, you are only eligible for Performance Payments due to U.S. tax regulations.

How very self-centered of them. I would like to apologize. I know that a lot of my readers are outside the US (that’s right, I’m watching you! *peers around*) and I don’t want to lead you wrong. My job is to help you get your career as writers going, and a non-paying client is exactly what I am trying to steer you away from. So please be advised:

Associated Content only pays residents of the United States of America. Non-US writers should seek other entry-level markets.

Special thanks to my buddy Mark Dykeman for the tip. He’s written for Louis Gray and Mashable and is an overall smart guy who says smart things. Check him out over at Broadcasting Brain or follow Mark on Twitter.

  • New Revenue-Sharing Content Site: Bukisa (onlinepublishing.suite101.com)
  • How To Find More Ghostwriting Jobs (ghostwritinguncovered.com)
  • Are You A Greedy Writer? (ghostwritinguncovered.com)
  • A Freelance Writer’s First Experience With Elance (danaprince.blogspot.com)
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Skills That Pay The Bills: Copywriting, SEO, and Blogging

a typical office day

Hello, intrepid readers. We are going to shift gears a bit in this post and address an issue that is always near and dear to my heart: money. This is not to say that I am obsessed with wealth, but I certainly enjoy being able to live comfortably and enjoy my hobbies, which as a geek can include expensive gadgets, video games, and lots of media. So how does a writer in the modern era get paid?

Copywriting

Copywriting (also known as business writing) is the art and science of creating text that informs, attracts, and sells, all at the same time. To write good copy, you not only have to be a good writer, but you have to understand your audiences and what will drive their purchasing. Your goal is to sell something, and in order to do that you have to understand how your readers will react not just to the content of your words, but their appearance and tone.

Necessary skills:

  • Write in many tones and voices, from warm and friendly to cold and technical. You must get over the notion that you are selling your art and thus must maintain your own authentic voice. While this is true for fiction, poetry, and other creative writing, copywriters must be able to catch the tone and voice that will most effectively represent their client’s interests. Read, listen to, and watch advertisements of all kinds and you will hear many different voices; practice writing in all of them.
  • Understand visual cues. Words are visual, and by purposefully arranging how they meet the eyes  you can make certain impressions without changing a bit of your content. By creating symmetry and asymmetry in your copy (lining up your text and formatting it such that the lines “lead” the eyes of the reader to each important phrase) you can emphasize certain points over others, line up “question and answer” blocks around explanatory copy, and create a general impression of casualness, formality, friendliness, or whatever impression is needed.
  • Be a good researcher. Clients will vary, and you will often need to be able to learn a great deal about a given industry, company, product, or service with very little notice. Make sure you have resources bookmarked and ready to do research on just about anything. This includes niche sites, academic sites, and government sites; Wikipedia, for all its glory, just won’t cut it.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Writing in the online world requires at least a basic understanding of the principles of SEO, including keyword research, competition evaluation, and link-building. Understand, it will seldom be your job to define and entire SEO strategy for a client, but in order to create good online content you have to know how to make sure it can be found and will compete against other similar content.

Necessary Skills:

  • Understand the principles of search. Search is a weird field, in concept and in practice. In theory, it’s just math; search engines index content and use various algorithms to return that content in reply to corresponding searches. And if language, meaning, and knowledge were a simple affair, that would be enough, but they aren’t. We categorize things, use synonyms and conditionals, come up with neologisms (new words), and generally make things very complicated (and very interesting). We teach the search engines what words mean, and in turn the search engines teach us how to ask for what we are looking for. I can’t even begin to cover the necessary knowledge to really understand search, but I will list several resources for learning the basics of search and SEO theory at the end of this post.
  • Learn how to use keywords and keyword phrases without sounding forced. Learn how to research commonly searched keywords and phrases and pepper your writing with them appropriately. Don’t stuff them, don’t use keywords unrelated to the content, and don’t just reuse the same one over and over; use synonyms and related terms.
  • Produce quality content. Realize that keyword use is just part of the battle, what we call a “necessary but insufficient condition”. You have to use well-chosen keywords, but quality content that will attract links and traffic is the rest of the equation.
  • Be generous. Link out often to other blogs and sources, and always make sure your anchor text (the text that you make the link) is actually associated with the content you link to. Try to go for deep links (links to pages inside a website rather than to the frontpage) and when you reference ideas or content from other sources, make sure to credit them.

Blogging

Blogging is big business…for a few. This money comes from advertising, direct sales, and the attraction of jobs. The decision of how to monetize your blog comes down to how much traffic you get and what your niche is. thePuckWrites is monetized by being a sort of virtual resume…I blog about how I do things so that others can learn how to do them, which showcases my knowledge and writing, while making sure a few select pieces of writing are available to show my range, plus a resume and a contact form. Since my blog is set up this way, I attract both writers who want to learn and employers who want to hire. You might also consider blogging for hire…companies may pay you to blog regularly for them, or you could join a blog network or multi-user blog that pays per post like BrightHub. These kinds of jobs can vary a great deal in price, so make sure you are getting paid what you are worth.

Necessary Skills:

  • Picking a good niche. I know a lot of bloggers, and some of them blog about things that no one would ever want to read about regularly. Some industries and subjects, no matter how necessary for society and life, will not draw an audience. Pick a niche you know about, but pick an interesting niche you know about; you might sell toilet paper, but no one wants to read about toilet paper, whether it is making, selling, or using it.
  • Writing for a wide audience. Don’t be a snob. Use language that everyone will understand and if you must use special jargon, explain what you mean without being condescending. Remember, most people do not write for a living and thus it is not their job to know all the $0.50 words. You are not special, better, or smarter because you know what deontological means or can use gerund properly in a sentence, you are just specially trained in your job like others are specially trained in their own. Don’t be an ass.
  • Discipline. You need to update regularly, research new posts, and promote your work. Quite frankly, it can be a huge pain. Depending on your revenue model, you might need to update as often as several times a day. Good scheduling and productivity is a must.

Resources

Copywriting

SEO

Blogging

What Else?

These are my skills that pay the bills, what are yours?

Three Strategies for Success in New Media

PASADENA, CA - OCTOBER 29:  Copies of The Chri...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Concern about the death of traditional print media is all over the blogosphere. Newspapers such as the Christian Science Monitor have been forced to take up online strategies in order to compete, and from this new approaches such as the New York Times social network have arisen. In light of this, the question arises:how can the modern writer be successful in a world where the traditional writing jobs are fading away?

Get Diverse

Once upon a time, a writer picked a niche and ran with it. The choice of what you wanted to write and where you wanted it to be printed decided how you wrote, what the best practices and standards were, and how you should attempt to build your career. Books on how to be a writer would differ wildly based on what kind of writer you wanted to be.

Maybe this made sense before the internet, but now it just doesn’t work. As a professional freelance writer, I write in so many different styles and for so many different purposes from day to day that focusing my efforts into only one approach is impossible. In the last few months I have written quests for an upcoming video game, informational articles on computer gadgets at BrightHub, movie reviews, and blog posts on all sorts of topics. Right now my “big” job is copywriting for a start-up. On top of this, I still write my fiction, which will soon be appearing on a new site.

The point of this is that you can’t afford to pigeon-hole yourself into any kind of writing. Now, I know what some of you are saying: “What about inspiration? What about art?” Well, that becomes the difference between writing professionally and being an artist. You can do both, but your attitude is different when you want to write professionally, and you focus on different things.

It is possible that if you are incredibly gifted and lucky, you can write precisely what your inspiration calls you to write and nothing else and make that your career. However, the much greater likelihood is that you need to see your writing as any other professional skill, and thus keep it flexible and open to the needs of the moment. Thus you must diversify your writing and be able to write for any media, as needed.

Get Educated

As the incorporation of new media into the mainstream continues, the needs of the writer’s craft will change. Already we have seen some of these changes, as SEO and social media have become more and more important to online writing. The simple fact is that as the technologies shift, the very definition of what we do changes. Just as I doubt many writers of my generation have done too much of their work on typewriters, I doubt many writers of the next generation will do too much work where search-engine optimization and online technologies do not play a role. If you refuse to learn about these new technologies you are making your skills less valuable, and some other writer who has done their homework will get the jobs that could have been yours.

Get Creative

New media allows for a new kind of writing. As I have written about elsewhere, microblogging has some interesting implications for fiction writers. I think there are even more interesting possibilities with modern technologies, where stories can be structured to unfold over various forms of social media, including video, microblogs, and even leaving trails of social bookmarks and forum posts. Consider the strange tale of John Titor. Ignoring the issue of whether he was really a time traveler, his tale is interesting and the fact that it was delivered across message boards points to hidden possibilities of fiction and meta-fiction. Viral ad campaigns such as that used for Heroes, while used as a way to gain buzz, point the way to stories told across multiple mediums and technologies.

Final Word

Traditional media may very well be dying, or it may become a form of backup media, like we have seen happen to radio. Writers, whether of stories or advertising copy, need to think seriously about the strategies that will allow them to keep plying their trade in the days to come. However, these ideas are just the beginning; what other strategies can writers use to ensure their success in the changing world?

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Online Promotion for On and Offline Work

Cover of "Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us&...

Cover of Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

In the wake of Seth Godin‘s new book “Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us”, Chris Brogan has a great post on how to promote your book online that I wanted to make sure everyone saw. I also wanted to say that I have been considering the exact same issue. While I love the world of marketing and copywriting, and I love the online world, my truest desire is to write my fiction full-time. This led me to considering how to do such a thing through new media and how to promote it, and I came up with a strategy that I wanted to add to Chris’s post.

Obviously, promoting fictional work online is different than promoting non-fiction work. People want something different out of a good story than they want out of instructional work. People are going to keep coming back to see what happens next rather than to learn something new.

There are two traditional ways of drawing that reader back for the next part of the story. There is the serial and there is the franchise. The serial is an ongoing tale where the story is progressed in basically linear way with each installment, while a franchise is a world, a setting and set of characters that can engage in various adventures. The best ongoing tales combine a little of both, and so we have Star Wars and Star Trek, Dragonlance and Lord of the Rings, where the tales are interconnected by a common world and there are overarching storylines connecting the various stories, but each installment does not necessarily progress in a linear fashion from its predecessor.

This way of doing things can be far more difficult than just creating a good story, because there is a type of internal consistency that is required from the different stories. A good series and world go on to live beyond the author in the hearts and minds of the readers, and they will be quick to point out the flaws. A good article on this subject is “How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later” by Philip K. Dick. Like no other writing, a series must give the appearance of history and depth. Writing a good outline and exposition for the series as a whole can help with this immensely.

Does anyone has any thoughts or examples of a good instance of online fiction?

Picking a Genre in New Media

Journal and penWriters in traditional media eventually have to choose a genre to write in. No one can do everything, and so like every other profession, writers specialize. Some genres are defined by the type of settings and plots used, like horror, science-fiction, and fantasy. Others categories are defined by their content, like historical writings, academic works, and poetry. In new media we also have to specialize, but the genre’s are slightly different. This list will cover the basic categories of online writing.

1. Informational Blogging

By far the most popular of online content, informational blogs allow writers to share their interests, skills, and knowledge with interested readers. This is probably the easiest form of blog, as your own favorite subject is all you need to start out. Just pick something you know a lot about, from wine-making to stamp-collecting, and write short instructional pieces.

2. News

Writing news in an online world is a very different beast than writing for traditional media. Speed is of the essence, and deciding what kind of news you want to focus on is key. In addition to this, you must add content to your news, some sort of analysis or commentary, not just repeat your source. To get started covering news, pick a “beat”, a subject, field, area, or industry that interests you. Find your sources, which can be blogs and other social media as well as traditional sources. Find people online who are involved in your “beat” and try and establish contact with them, allowing you to hit them up for comments and thoughts…this is one place where social media and networking can really make a difference. Make sure to always cite your sources, linking to them when possible.

3. Fiction and Fan-Fiction

Many storytellers use their blog as their primary means of getting their writing out into the world. Whether you are writing your own stories from the ground up or using the characters and settings of someone else, you can make a name for yourself that will allow you to make the transition to selling your work to traditional publishers. Another tactic is to use your blog for short stories or short-short stories and then sell your longer works through e-books. If you are technically inclined you can create your e-books yourself, and if not you can use a service such as Lulu, which will allow you to convert your document and add a cover, as well as allowing you to sell printed copies on demand through your site or through retailers like Amazon.

4. Comedy and Parody

Technically a form of fiction, online comedy and parody can become viral like nothing else. Cracked, CollegeHumor, and the Onion are some of the most trafficked sites on the web because people love to laugh and the humor is quick, topical, and speaks to the concerns of the average netizen. However, not everyone can do funny, and you should consider deeply whether you can truly hack it. If so, pick your tactic and have at it, but the competition is steep. Also remember that, in comedy more than any other field, you have to make your content stand-out…while it is fine for just about every fantasy tale to include magic, the net just doesn’t need any more sites specializing in pictures of everyday things with humorous or absurd captions.

5. Collections

The internet is very big, and despite the best efforts of our overlords at Google, it is very hard to find what we want. This means that collecting lists of links, images, videos, and other content and summarizing why they are interesting is its own genre, with its own readers. While sites like Digg and Delicious have taken this genre and run with it, many subjects are obscure enough (and the web big enough) to make collections a very viable genre. Again, go for a niche, some subject that interests you and you can follow eagerly, and then simply collect the best content and summarize it for others. Collections can also be a good way to finish out a week of other posts by using a “best links of the week” theme.

6. Diaries, Opinions, and Rants

While this genre is hard to pull of well, some people really are interesting enough that their general thoughts can compell readers. This is a difficult call to make, because almost everyone thinks their own thoughts and opinions are interesting even though they are not. A good example of someone who can pull this off is Norimoto over at AvenueToTheReal, who blends humor and absurdity with serious social commentary and philosophical questioning. This kind of writing can be very cathartic, but beware: your readership may be low.

7. Reviews and Product Reports

Increasingly, people rely on other people rather than marketing to tell them about the products and services they want to buy. This means that if you happen to read a lot of books, go to a lot of movies, or buy a lot of gadgets, your personal experiences with them and expertise will help others get feedback and information about their interests. The Movie Space is a great example of a blog with multiple authors who have parlayed their collective knowledge of movies into some sizable traffic. Just like with an informational blog, pick something you are very interested in and have a great deal to say about…a book review that says “I liked it” or “It was boring” and nothing else will get little attention.

Final Word

This list is meant to help you figure out not just how to write for new media, but what to write about. It is not definitive, as these categories are coming into existence and changing as you read this. If anyone can think of any genre’s or categories I may have missed, please let me know.

The Value of Networking: The Aftermath of the ProBlogger Love-In

Business PartyYesterday I blogged on Darren Rowse’s “Social Media Love-In” over at Problogger. In the aftermath of a few hours of clicking, I have a massive number of new social media connections in every field remotely related to mine.

Now, I thought about this because I remember the business culture of the 1970s and 1980s. I remember the notion of “networking parties” where a whole bunch of people in a given field would get together, attempt to drink and have fun, and furiously exchange business cards. Then they would go back to their offices the next day and give the stacks of cards to their secretaries, who would then file them. These parties would have about 50 people and be of a single field.

Let’s compare that to yesterday, where we had hundreds of people (if not thousands at this point, I haven’t gone back…my clicking finger is numb!) from related, but not the same fields, able to interact through social media systems that keep them sorted and searchable with no secretary or overhead. I made connections with people who span every part of what I do. I met people to get hired by, hire, start new projects with, make friends with, and learn from, all in the space of a few hours. All for the price of an internet connection and some clicking. We just have to do this again!

This is the power of social media. When it comes to building your writing career in new media, an opportunity like this can’t be passed up. Head over to Problogger and get in on the social media love, and you won’t regret it.

Who else made great connections from the love-in? Share some of your social media love stories for us!

Top 4 Freelance Sites for Writers

Writers gotta work, and thus we gotta find the work. Read on for the top four sites I have found for finding freelance writing work online!

Warning:

There are a lot of job sites out there, and plenty of scams and exploitive pay as well. There is also a seedy underbelly of internet writers, who work for less than a penny a word and “write” a thousand versions of the same piece of content using programs called spinners (I refuse to link to this scum). These people feed a piece of original content in and the program rewrites it with synonyms. It looks disjointed and awful, but they don’t care. It passes copyscape.

These services generally cost money to get anything useful out of, around 9-12 dollars a month US.

That said, lets get to it.

Elance

Elance is where I get most of my best jobs. There is plenty of bad jobs and jobs where you can’t understand what they want you to do (this is why they need writers, I suppose), but there are some real gems as well. I got my current favorite gig, writing the lore and designing the character classes for Ghostees!, an upcoming MMORPG, from Elance.

They have a full escrow service, which protects both you and the client, and record all dealings through a private message board. The fee is very reasonable, and the various features are useful and focus on taking care of you, including making sure your taxes are prepared properly for all money earned through their service. Highly recommended.

Guru

Guru is a lot like Elance. In fact, it is almost a clone, in format, pricing, and services. The main difference seems to be the quality of jobs, which seems lower, and the overall functionality of their resume system.

I would recommend Guru, but only in addition to Elance, not alone.

iFreelance

iFreelance really, really wants to be like Elance and Guru. They have the look, they have the format, and they certainly have the pricing. The problem is that their site barely works. It’s very hard to search for jobs, the resume page has an irritating scrolling banner of your portfolio file’s icons, and there are very few jobs. In addition, they seem to let people set jobs to expire in months, so bidding on anything is pointless. By the time a job is close enough to expiring for me to know whether I will have the time to work it for the money they are paying, it has 3 months worth of bids. This is just poor infrastructure.

However, a certain sector of jobs seem to come here and nowhere else, so I still suggest opening an account with them.

GetAFreelancer

If a iFreelance is a wannabe Elance, GetAFreelancer is CraigsList on steroids. You can bid for free (up to 15 bids) but you get access to better jobs through getting a “gold account”, which is about the normal price for all of these services. The interface is awful, the search functions laughable, and the resume section almost non-existent…but it has some great jobs on it, and they usually don’t require a “gold account” to bid on.

Recommended if you can deal with the interface. If you want glitz, go for one of the others.

Final Words

My advice is to have accounts on all of these, if you can spare the cash. The reason for this is simple economics. The clients need one or maybe a few jobs done. They only need to have one account they pay for to post jobs, and as long as it is a reasonably good site they are assured of finding a provider. Providers, on the other hand, always need access to continuous good jobs. Thus the client’s best choice is to have one account, while for the provider it is best to have an account on each. Thus if there are four great jobs you can handle at once, but each of the clients go to a different service, you can get one job or all four depending on where you have accounts.

That’s all till next time. Let me know if you have found any other good freelance sites…I might have missed a few.

Keep reading and writing!

Why Choose New Media Over Old?

Leaning tower of manuscripts.I have been promising to focus some posts on the writing side of writing for a change, rather than promotion and collaboration through social media. However, because of my general focus here, I want to focus on writing in the new media rather than the old, and I want to begin at the beginning.

What is the beginning? Well, its deciding to be a writer. What do you need in order to do that? The ability and drive to write, plus actually writing. If you can write (and I have read some people I can definitely say can’t write) and you are writing, then you are a writer.

Now, will you write passionately and artistically while pursuing a day job? Or will you go all in and write full-time? The secret to answering this question is answering the question of what kind of writer do you want to be…new or old media. If you want to go old media, then don’t quit your day job, because you are going to be spending a whole lot of time waiting on editors and a whole lot of money on postage.

If, instead, you have decided that your time is precious and manila give you hives, then new media is the way to go. Waiting is minute and communication is digital. Don’t be surprised if you never want to deal with snail-mail again.

But here is the real reason why new media rather than old. Remember back when we all found out that the music industry was scamming most artists, and that they had created so many paid middle-men in the industry that had to take their cut that the artists, the actual musicians, mostly made their money on concerts and t-shirts? Well, if you are in print media, look in the mirror, because that is us, too.

Think about it…how many different people and structures are in place between you and a full-time career in the old media? First, you need to write the material, shop the material to agents and publishers, who each get a cut. Then they will negotiate deals with promoters and distributers, and they all get a cut. And editors and their secretaries and hard-working people with slush-piles a mile high from people that want to be writers just like you…and the whole time you are waiting for checks. Checks I tell you. Who the hell pays for anything with a check anymore?

Nobel Peace Prize DiscussionOr, you can get a computer, master some basic skills, and pay for an internet connection. Whee! Your off. You find a few resources like my site and start looking at freelance sites, job boards, and social media. You start blogging, and talking and networking with other bloggers. The next thing you know, you have more work than you can shake a stick at and you are getting to turn down people who want to publish your work, rather than sitting in some slush-piles, waiting your turn.

The choice is yours, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls (oh yeah, did I mention kids can get started writing in the new media without getting laughed at by frowny faced meanies in suits?). I have made mine, and I hope this post has given you some good reasons to join me.

Here, in this virtual world, we do not have to compete or wait on bureaucracy that exists only to profit on our creativity. Here we go straight to the reader, on our own terms, and in our own way.

Now tell me, who would choose anything else?

What about you, folks? Any horror stories to tell of trying to make it in old media? How about the new? Success stories? It would be interesting to take a poll.

What is the “New Media”?

When people ask what I do, I tell them I’m a writer. Then they ask what I write, and I say I mostly write online. They then look at me quizzically, like they understand the words but don’t comprehend their meaning. They always ask, “like what?”

Like what?

Like the internet isn’t mostly text, and that the text and content they interact with daily doesn’t have to be written by someone. Like all the content, from the longest essay to the smallest lolcat didn’t have to be created by someone.

Now, I know that inside, deep inside, in the cockles of their hearts, they know all of this. I also realize that this is just an updated version of the treatment writers, artists, and thinkers have always gotten about what they do. This is normal.

What bothers me is when writers, people who should know better, still don’t get it. They just ask if I ever plan to do any “real” writing. As if what I do here and else less real than other writing.lolcat

When I have these conversations, I try to make my point.

me: Do you read?

them: Yes, of course.

me: Do you mean for news, entertainment, and information?

them: Yes.

me: Do you read about those things in newspapers, magazines, and books?

them: Oh, no, I do all that online.

Now, if this were a story, I would go silent and wait a beat, then they would go “Ohhh” with a look that showed their comprehension. Like the professional tale-spinner I am, I try to do this in real life, but it never works. They just wait for me to go on, and I stand there looking increasingly stupid.

The point is, what is this that we do? What is the “new media”? What is so different about writing for the new media that I made my blog about it? Is it the same as writing in other mediums? Well, obviously I would say no. I would say that the “new media” is a developing form of art in itself, a platform for literature and creativity impossible before the internet. It’s a new game with new rules.

So, the new media is all forms of media that exist through the internet primarily or only. Web-shows and podcasts, fanfilms and blogs, videos and playlists. The odds are that you probably have already contributed to the new media by talking on forums or commenting on articles, and never even realized it. We are all a part of this online creation. We exist in it and we help create it.

If you want to make writing your career, you have a choice to make. You can go the route of writers of prior generations and hack away at your novel and snail-mail it off to publishers, waiting for editors to get around to your corner of the slush-pile. Or you can get online, go into business for yourself, and pursue writing in the new media. Whichever it is, you need to be able to write, but to write in the new media you need some other skills and tricks as well.

For the next few posts, I am going to talk about the craft of writing itself, and how writing for the new media is different than writing for print. I have some topics I plan on covering, but I want to put out a call for questions from other writers and people getting started:

Do any of you have any questions or issues you would like to discuss?