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Getting to the Next Level

I’m entering a contest to win a one-year membership in the Freelance Writer’s Den and so that is the subject of this post.  For those not familiar with FWD, it is a membership site dedicated to writers.  Carol Tice, founder and Den Mother, also writes a blog for Make a Living Writing, which I have been following. 

 

To celebrate the Den’s one-year anniversary they are having a contest to win a year’s membership and other resources.  For this contest, we are supposed to tell how we would use these resources in our writing career. 

 

To answer the question of this contest and to let readers know why I am interested in this resource pack, I’ll tell you a little about my writing journey.  It is only a year long, so I almost share an anniversary with the Freelance Writer’s Den! 

 

During that year, I have learned how to make a steady income from my writing even though I still work a full-time job.  I currently have regular writing work and each month I see my income grow.  I am excited to see my dreams coming true to be a full-time writer and I know that is in the near future.

 

I could not be where I am today without resources such as the Make a Living Writing blog that has given me tips, advice, and pointers to improve my writing and my business.  My goal is to not only be a writer, but a business owner of a full media company that helps businesses grow with online and offline marketing.  To reach this goal, I need to learn more about many aspects of writing.

 

That is where this writer’s resource pack comes in.  The year in the Den alone would help me immensely to grow as a business woman as I interact with other writers and learn from them and the guest speakers and classes that are included.  The classes and other resources that are part of this prize would help me expand my writing into new areas.  Right now, I’m writing articles and blog posts for clients, but I would like to design websites and do other types of writing in the future. 

 

My ultimate goal is to have my own business providing full media services for clients with a staff to work with.  To get to that level, I have a lot more to learn and resources like the Freelance Writer’s Den will help me reach my goals.

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Learn From the Pros

The best way to learn how to be a freelance writer is to learn from those that are already doing it.  Find someone that is successful and read their blogs, follow them on Twitter, and read their stories.  Learn from their mistakes so you don’t have to make them yourself.

How to Find a Writer to Follow

Not all writers want to have “students”, but many enjoy providing their knowledge for others’ benefit.  Do a search on the internet or more specifically on Twitter for the kind of writer you want to learn from.  For instance, if you hope to become a romance novelist, put that in your search.  Browse through the list that comes up and look at their profile or website to see if they are someone you want to learn from. 

If you are hoping to make money writing on the internet with articles, a general search for online freelance writer will provide a lot of results.  Be careful that you don’t get sucked into buying a bunch of items from someone promising to “teach you how to make thousands of dollars a week” or some other hyped-up promise.  While many authentic writers will have products to sell, they should also give out free information such as allowing you to join a blog where they write regularly. 

What You Should Learn

While there is no secret formula to becoming a successful writer, you should learn the story of how the writer got where they are today.  You should also learn about mistakes they have made and tips they can provide.  That is one reason I started this blog.  I wanted others to see my journey and learn from what I did and didn’t do correctly.  I also want to inspire you to keep trying when you get frustrated. 

Inspiration is something you should find when following a writer.  They should provide wisdom and words that make you say “I can do this.” 

Limit Your List

Don’t spend all of your time reading about writing, write.  Limit yourself to no more than two or three writers that have valuable information to add to your knowledge.  This may mean experimenting and adding and deleting people from your list.  I have followed different writers, but right now, I have four that I feel add the most to my education.  They are different, but all work in the same field of online copywriting that I do.  I have greatly benefited from each of these “mentors” by reading their story and following their blogs.

Let others help you in your journey and be your inspiration and teachers.  The writing journey doesn’t have to be taken alone.

For further help with your writing, Click here for books on freelance writing.

Writers Need a Mentor

Writing is often a solitary endeavor.  We spend countless hours with only a computer as our friend as we stare at blank space in the silence.  Of course, it’s easier to interact with others thanks to the internet, but often we spend more time lurking than communicating.  We read others’ posts and shake our heads in agreement but we never come away from the shadows of anonymity.

To grow as a writer, we must learn from those who have beaten down the path before us.  While we can do that by reading articles and books on writing, we learn best by interaction with others.  This can come in the form of mentoring.

On Hubpages, I wrote an article about mentoring that describes the benefits.  I also provide some guidance on how to find a mentor and how to approach them.  I received a comment about how hard it is for writers to approach someone to be their mentor.  That commenter was correct.  How about we writers put our names out there to new writers and let them know we are willing to be their mentor? 

Could it be that we don’t think we are qualified to be mentors?  We say that we haven’t been doing this long enough or we don’t make enough money to guide someone else.  Or how about “I’m only a part-time writer”? 

The truth is that if you are making money and getting published or getting clients, you have some knowledge to impart to new writers who are struggling.  They may surpass you and move on to more experienced mentors, but you may be the catalyst to their success.

If you need proof that you have something to offer new writers, make a list of everything you have accomplished in the writing world.  It can be a seminar or class you’ve taken or an article you’ve written.  Write down what you have learned as a writer and you will see how much knowledge you can give to someone else.

Giving back feels good, and inspiring a new writer can fuel your own writing goals.  It can also help remind you why you wanted to be a writer in the first place.  So take the time to inspire others; it just might come back around to you.

What I’ve Learned From Writing for Elance (and other freelance sites)

Freelance websites often get a bad reputation for being content mills that allow clients to hire freelancer writers for ridiculously low prices.  Many reputable and established writers warn new writers to stay away from them.  While much of the reputation is deserved, there are some benefits to these places. 

I’ve been working on Elance and oDesk for close to a year now, and I’ve seen the good and the bad with them.  But the bottom line is that I’m making money doing what I love.  Not enough to support myself without another job, but it’s a good start.  While they may not be for everyone, I have learned some valuable lessons from working on these sites.

How to Sell Myself.

No matter how much you just want to write, you have to learn how to promote what you do to others.  Marketing is a big part of writing, regardless of whether you write for print or online.  The freelance websites teach you how to do this successfully by creating a profile and submitting proposals to jobs in competition with others. Once you land a few jobs, you will start to see what works and what doesn’t.  I’ll provide more details on this topic in a later post.

How to Work With Different Clients.

You will always have to know how to work with different personalities and understand project requirements.  Sites like Elance allow you the opportunity to interact with clients from all over the world.  You will learn what questions to ask about a project and what information to provide to the client.

How to Create Different Types of Writing.

You can bid on projects that are geared to what you already know, but one of the best benefits to writing on Elance is that you can try your skills on new types of writing.  This will allow you to see what you like and don’t like to write so you can add new things to your portfolio. 

I first wrote landing pages for a client on Elance.  I also did some press releases and product reviews for clients.  I did research on projects I was not familiar with and learned how to meet expectations.  While you want to treat every client as important, you would rather practice on a beginner’s job than to lose out on a high paying client because you didn’t know how to write what they wanted.

How to Meet Deadlines.

You will always have deadlines as a writer.  Elance and other freelance sites provide you with varying deadlines for your projects.  You learn how to decide the length of time to promise for different projects in your bids.  You will get faster at your writing as you work on it and will learn how to predict the amount of time you will put into a project.  This is an essential skill so you know how to charge for your writing to make money.

Freelance writing websites are not for everyone, and most people cannot earn a full-time income with them.  However, they can be a great place to develop your skills to become a successful writer.  I’d love to hear your comments about any experience you have had with these websites.

How to Live the Freelance Life

On this site, I will provide information that I have learned either through reading and learning from others or things I’ve figured out the hard way.  This site is for anyone who wants to write, either for fun or for money, but many of the posts will be targeted towards those who want to earn income.

I plan to provide relevant information about making money and where to find work.  I’ll update you on my progress as a writer and tell you how I did it.

Right now, I’m working part-time in freelance writing, and I focus on bidding sites for most of my income.  I also write some on Hubpages and I’m looking at some other sites.

Come along with me as I take this journey.  Learn from my successes and failures and life the freelance life with me.