Posted in The Writing Corner

Textbroker: The Best Content Mill

Now that you know a bit about content mills, you’re probably interested in learning more about the different ones out there and which one you should get started with. Although I’ve written for numerous content mills over the years, the one that I’ve personally experienced the most success with is Textbroker. That’s why I took the liberty of naming Textbroker as the best content mill out there, although I’m sure there are other freelancers out there who will beg to differ. For me, though, this is the best writing platform for those who want to earn a steady income from freelance writing.

My Story

Textbroker was the first content mill that I ever joined. I happened upon it back in 2007 when I was in my freshman year of college. Although I had a scholarship that allowed me a bit of extra money to live on throughout the academic year after my tuition was paid, like most college students, I yearned for a bit more extra spending money. I knew that I didn’t have time to devote to a physical job, so I took my job hunt to the World Wide Web.

I stumbled upon Textbroker quite by accident. You see, I was looking for something easy like a data entry job. (Back then, I didn’t really know what data entry was. I thought this meant that I would simply be typing information into an online data form and getting paid tons of money to do it. Haha. Ah, the naivety of youth.) After clicking on all the data entry links that popped up in the search engines only to be redirected to pages that wanted to scam me out of money, I became frustrated. I finally began to search for ways to make money online by writing rather than by data entry, and, lo and behold, this site called Textbroker popped up in the search results.

I quickly read what the site was about and thought, “What the heck?” and submitted my application. The application process was super easy. It merely consisted of filling out a form asking for a bit of basic information and submitting a short writing sample. Back then, you were able to submit a writing sample of anything that you wanted, and I submitted an essay that I had used to get accepted into college entitled How to Write a Five Paragraph Essay.

Within a couple of days, I’d received my acceptance email and a welcome package from Textbroker delivered right to the email address I’d provided them. I was delighted to see that I’d been assigned an initial star rating of 4 (the highest you can get is 5, but nobody scores 5 initially, and you’ll understand why later when I explain Textbroker’s rating system). From that moment onward, I was granted access to Textbroker’s writing platform where I could see all the available orders and select the ones that I wanted to write. I’ve been working at Textbroker on and off ever since.

From Part-Time to Full-Time

At first, Textbroker is somewhere I just worked sporadically. Then, I didn’t work there at all (very rarely at least; I logged in maybe once a year) when I was involved in working for a company called Demand Studios. (Now it’s known as Demand Media, and it’s nothing to what it once was. A crying shame to be sure, but we’ll talk more about Demand Studios in another blog post.) Once my work at Demand Studios began to fizzle out, then I found myself once again turning to Textbroker, and there I’ve stayed ever since. True, I do occasionally write for other content mills, and I’ve amassed a nice following of private clients that I serve directly. It’s kind of interesting that the first writing platform I ever wrote for is the one that ended up standing the test of time.

Textbroker is the place where I made my living for many years (and I still write there), so it can be done. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t make a living from freelance writing because you can. Textbroker is the content mill that allowed me to do so, and in the upcoming blogs, I’ll be providing you with insider advice and tips on how you can make a living working on Textbroker too. If you have enough determination, willpower and know-how, you can made a modest salary with Textbroker and lead a comfortable life. Plus, since I’ll be providing you with all the information you need to know to do things first the right time you won’t have to go through the learning periods that I did.

Check out Getting Started with Textbroker: Registering as an Author to begin the process of becoming a Textbroker author.

Posted in The Writing Corner

Getting Started with Freelance Writing: Writing Boards Vs. Content Mills

One of the most difficult parts of freelance writing, or any writing for that matter, is getting started. If you’ve never freelanced before, you likely have no clue how to go about doing it. Where do you get clients? Where do you go to look for them?

All of these are valid questions and ones that will be answered throughout this blog post. First of all, before you can go out looking for clients, it’s important to discuss the differences between the two types of freelancing platforms available on the internet: freelance writing boards and content mills.

Writing Boards

Freelance writing boards are one of the places you can go to look for freelance writing. Similar to job boards, this is the place where clients who are looking to commission certain pieces will post an advert seeking a writer for their projects. Likewise, freelance writers looking for projects can also post adverts expressing their desire for clients.

Think of freelance writing boards as audition portals. If you see an advert for a project that you’d like to write, then you must essentially submit a sales pitch to the client. (There’s plenty of tips that you can follow to catch a potential client’s attention and strengthen your sales pitch, but that’s another blog post.) The client then chooses which writer to proceed with from all the applicants that he or she received. Obviously, the more applicants a client receives, the more competitive the job offering and the less likely that you’ll end up being the one to win the commissioned project.

On the other side of the spectrum, you can post an advert letting clients know the types of writing projects you’re interested in writing and hope that the clients come to you. However, while that alone might work in some cases, it’s important to remember that just as you have to sell yourself in the real world and actively go after a job if you want it, so do you have to do so in the virtual world. You can’t simply post your resume online, expressing what you want to write and then sit back and wait for clients to fall into your lap. (Again, while that might happen in some cases, it’s rare indeed.)

In short, if you plan on going the freelance writing board route, then be prepared to submit loads of applications and correspond with many clients. Even after do so, you may win some writing commissions and you may not. It all depends upon what the client’s looking for as well as numerous other factors.

Content Mills

If you don’t savvy the idea of putting in tons of work and not getting much return on job opportunities, then there are always content mills. While content mills have gotten a bad rep, there are plenty of advantages to them.

Dubbed content mills because of the number of articles you must churn out to achieve significant pay, they are oftentimes equated with sweatshop factories in the physical workforce. Many content mills pay next to nothing for articles, and quantity is oftentimes thought to be favored over quality. However, there’s many misconceptions about these stigmas surrounding content mills. All of them aren’t necessarily like that. True, most content mills won’t pay as much as commissioned pieces that you earn directly from clients, but they also don’t require the extensive networking and footwork that it takes to successfully win a job on a freelance writing board either.

Instead, content mills offer you a writing platform where you are expected to write articles that clients have already placed with the company providing the service. Instead of applying directly to clients and attempting to commission work from the source (which you may or may not get), with a content mill, you submit an application to the company, and once you’re accepted as a writer, then you choose from available assignments to write. The process of getting accepted as a content mill writer isn’t as arduous as that of securing work from a private client and usually consists of taking a writing test and submitting a sample of writing. However, once you’re accepted into the writing company, then you can usually choose any of the available orders listed to write.

So which type of writing platform is best for you? A freelance writing board or a content mill? While there are pros and cons to each, content mills offer you more of an immediate and guaranteed payment than freelance writing boards, and they are also a great place for people just breaking into the freelance writing profession to begin.

Learn more about one of my favorite content mills in Textbroker: The Best Content Mill.

Posted in The Writing Corner

Inspire Your Heart With Art Day: Writing is Art

Today is Inspire Your Heart With Art Day, and while most people call to mind paintings, drawings and sculptures when they think of art, art can actually be manifested in other mediums in addition to these more traditional ones.

According to Merriam-Webster, art is defined as the following:

  1. 1:  skill acquired by experience, study, or observation

    art

    of making friends>

  2. 2a :  a branch of learning: (1) :  one of the humanities (2) arts plural :  liberal artsb archaic :  learning, scholarship

  3. 3:  an occupation requiring knowledge or skill

    art

    of organ building>

  4. 4a :  the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects

    art

    of painting landscapes>; also :  works so produced art>b (1) :  fine arts (2) :  one of the fine arts (3) :  one of the graphic arts

  5. 5a archaic :  a skillful planb :  the quality or state of being artful (see artful 2a)

  6. 6:  decorative or illustrative elements in printed matter

For the purposes of this article, we’ll be referring to definition 4a. According to that definition, art is “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination.” Writing certainly requires a conscious use of skill, and it oftentimes requires creative imagination as well, which would definitely make it fall within the requirements to be termed as “art.”

However, even if you want to refer to another one of the definitions listed above, such as definitions 2 or 3, you’ll find that writing falls within the requirements to be termed as “art.” In relation to definition 2a, writing does constitute a branch of learning; likewise, in relation to 2b, it is also one of the basic humanities that we are taught.

Furthermore, in relation to definition 3, it is also, obviously, an occupation that requires knowledge or skill. In order to write, you must know, understand and employ the rules that govern writing. A technical grasp of grammar and sentence structure is required and mastery of those skills results in the art of writing.

However, when we think of art in the sense as it’s meant in this national holiday, Inspire Your Heart With Art Day, we think of creative art that is inspired. Poems, novels and other types of writing that requires some sort of creation all fall within what is deemed as written art. To illustrate, I believe that no one would argue that Shakespeare’s writings are a work of art, nor that the late poet Lord Byron’s are as well.

Does this mean that in order for your writing to be a work of art that is has to be fiction? The answer is no because as long as “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination” was employed in the creating of the written work, then it can be classified as art. This means that your writing as a freelance writer could even be classified as art. You certainly have to employ the conscious use of skill in your writing endeavors, and even if you are writing non-fiction articles, you’re most likely employing your creative imagination to illustrate a point or describe a scene or situation.

While many writers desire to only write novels and other creative works, those people who want to make a living writing realize the value in freelancing articles to paying clients and writing their creative works in their free time. If  you’re trying to make a living as a writer, then you might need to engage in a bit of freelancing to help you pay your bills and make ends meet. This doesn’t mean that you have to put off writing your novel or book of poems. Rather, it helps secure you financially until you’ve finished your great work and gotten it published so that you can earn royalties from it.

This also doesn’t mean that you have to give up your love for creating written art. In fact, in order to keep your freelance writing from becoming dull and too technical, it’s oftentimes a good idea to infuse your pieces with a bit of humor or imagery, both of which require you to employ your creative imagination.

Writing is art, so today on Inspire Your Heart With Art Day, create art with your writing, no matter whether you’re writing in the freelancing or leisurely capacity.

Posted in The Writing Corner

So You Want to Be a Freelance Writer?: Debunking the Myths

mythvsreality

While freelance writing might sound like this amazing and freeing job (and it is to an extent) to those who’ve never done it, there’s actually much more to freelancing than appears on the surface. Just as the meme above shows, freelancing doesn’t typically consist of the luxurious writing habits that many people think it does. In short, freelancing is just like any other type of job: you get out of it what you put into it.

The Reality Behind the Glitz and Glamour

Now this isn’t to say that you can’t enjoy freelance writing on the beach while sipping a mai tai or pina colada. However, as someone who’s actually tried this, I can personally vouch that writing on the beach over a couple of drinks is much more romantic in theory than it is in execution. Not only does sand from the beach get in your keys (especially on those windy days when the sand’s being blow in every direction), but the sun tends to glare on your computer screen, and you’re likely to get a sunburn. Not to mention that if you have too many alcoholic beverages, you likely won’t feel like working anymore. Haha.

But wait, you say. Aren’t you supposed to be telling us how great freelancing writing is so that we’ll want to do it too? After all, this blog is supposed to help us become freelance writers, right? 

Yes, the intent of this blog is to help you learn insider tips and tricks to help you succeed at freelance writing, but before I get into all that, I think it’s more important to debunk many of the myths surrounding freelance writing. In short: it’s not the glamorous profession that it’s made out to be.

Commitment is Key to Success

Sure, you can certainly enjoy the benefits of being your own boss, traveling wherever you want to, writing wherever and whenever you want to and so on. However, I always find it so important to stress to new writers wanting to break into freelance writing that freelance writing is a commitment. Just like you can’t expect to get paid for a 40-hour work week at a factory without trudging in to work and putting in all 40 of your hours, so can’t you expect to make tons of money from freelance writing unless you’re willing to put in the work (at least not at first, but we’ll get into that much later on).

To be a successful freelance writer, I personally believe that it’s extremely important for you to actually enjoy writing. If you hate writing (or perhaps don’t hate it but quickly tire of it), then freelance writing probably isn’t the profession for you since it requires a LOT of writing. If the primary reason you want to break into freelancing is because you harbor hopes of it being a “get rich quick scheme,” then the sad truth of the matter is that you shouldn’t waste your time.

I love writing. I always have. Furthermore, I love being able to work from home and work on my own terms, but the keyword in the aforementioned statement is work. Freelance writing is work, even if you enjoy writing. You might not always get to write about the topics that you love (at first anyways). However, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you can certainly be rewarded with a liberating and successful career.

Now that you know that freelance writing isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be on television and elsewhere, if you’re still interested in learning more, continue onward to the next blog.

 

Posted in The Writing Corner

It's National Handwriting Day: What Will You Write?

With January 23 being National Handwriting Day, I thought it’d be appropriate to start off this blog talking about that.

How many of us really write anything by hand anymore? I’m not talking about jotting down little lists to take with us to the grocery store, but really writing–putting thoughts down on paper.

When people find out I’m a writer, they just assume that I have notebooks and journals filled with writing, and while that might have been the typical case for a writer a little over a decade ago, today it’s not. I know I don’t have very many (if any).

In fact, if you’re like me, most of your day to day writing is done online with a computer. I spend pretty much my whole day typing on a laptop, no matter whether I’m writing articles for a client or creating my own content for an upcoming book or blog, which brings me to my next thought:

Are we, as writers, losing a part of the writing experience by forgoing the traditional pen and paper method of writing?

For me, the answer is yes. While it’s easier and much quicker for me to simply type my thoughts up on a computer, there is something to be said about grasping a pen in your hand and watching as the ink flows from the tip onto a piece of paper. It’s a powerful feeling to know that as you create a series of letters, you’re forming words. To me, handwriting is a form of artistry. (Seeing as how I have absolutely no artistic skill when it comes to drawing or painting, I’ll grasp onto any other way to be an artist that I can. Haha.)

When you write by hand, you put more of your blood, sweat, and tears into what you’re writing. I say this because if you write for any length of time, your hand begins to cramp or tire, and yet (if you’re like me) you trudge on, not content until your thoughts are painstakingly conveyed onto that sheet of paper. If you make a mistake, you must pay the consequences of it. You can’t simply backspace or delete it with ease; instead, you must cross out the mistake, erase it, white it out, or even leave it. You’re forced to deal with it.

I like handwriting. I always have. Even as a child in school, I relished when the teacher gave us an assignment that required us to handwrite definitions of terms. I get a weird sense of pleasure from clutching a pen or pencil between my fingers and feeling a smooth sheet of paper under the side of my hand as I neatly form the letters that I envision in my mind’s eye.

However, in this digital age, I have gotten away from the practice of handwriting. Working online keeps me typing on the computer, and even when I create my own content for publication, I create it for publication online so that I might reach a larger audience. Until the beginning of this new year, I hadn’t kept a journal, diary, or whatever you want to call it since I was a child. One of my new year’s resolutions was to take some time each couple days (if I can’t get around to it every day) to write something by hand in a little journal that I bought. Not only does it give me a sense of accomplishment, but I think it’s been a healthy writing exercise.

Whether or not you keep a handwritten notebook or journal or you choose to do all your writing digitally, take a moment today to handwrite something. You might find that it proves to be an activity that you want to incorporate into your daily writing habits.