Tag Archives: writing

How to find the right Elance job

Elance is a popular platform for freelancers. It brings together clients and contractors in different categories. While my specialty is writing, you can also find design, marketing, programming, admin support and other categories.

How can you find the best job for your skills with so many available? Here are some tips.

Stick to one or two categories

If you’re an individual contractor, you don’t want to spread yourself too thin with too many categories to manage. For example, I bid in the Writing and Admin support categories, but mostly in Writing.

Use tags and keywords

Some clients tag their jobs and use keywords in them. They are often skills or specific knowledge, so identify those that apply to you and bid for these jobs. You have a much better chance of getting a job for which you are qualified.

Don’t undersell yourself

Don’t fall into the trap of bidding low on interesting jobs. It might seem attractive at first, but in the end you’ll feel frustrated about working hard for little pay. Set up a minimum wage for yourself and stick to it.

One problem on Elance is the general lowering of pay; don’t contribute by bidding on jobs that are considerably underpaid. This will eventually force clients to raise their budgets to get qualified workers.

If you follow these tips, you have excellent chances of getting good Elance jobs that will help pay the bills. Read my post about how to write a great Elance bid for more Elance success tips.

Do you have any insights into the Elance system?


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How to get back on track after a vacation

Sometimes it’s hard to get back to work after a break or a vacation. Ever had trouble getting back in the groove on a Monday morning? Here are some tips to get back to work without too much mental struggle.

Keep a task list

Keeping a task list is not only useful for keeping your projects on track. It’s also a great way to refresh your memory after a longer break.

Look at your previous tasks and what you have to do. Do you remember the last thing you did before you left? Your task list should give you an idea of what’s next on your schedule.

Review and reread

If you write a lot, spending some time rereading your previous work can be beneficial. While it’s recommended that you don’t leave a piece of writing for too long, sometimes it’s necessary to do so.

Rereading a piece can help refresh your memory as well. You’ll remember the topic, the tone, the style. You’ll be in better mental shape to carry on your work.

Take a breath

Sometimes it might take a few days to get back on track. And that’s fine. Don’t let the pressure stress you out or paralyze you. Just follow your natural productivity rhythms and your work flow should come back to normal in no time.

What do you do to get back into the beat after a break or vacation? Any tips, tricks or rituals you find useful to get your mind back on the writing track?

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What do you know? How to reflect on potential writing topics

Maybe you’re like me and you’ve been struggling with finding your place in the world lately. While I decided to drop my PhD in English, I’m still not sure what new path I should start following. While I’m trying to take my place in the blogging and Web content world, there is still much I have to learn.

One of the main things I have gathered from professional bloggers is “write about what you know”. Most of us know many things, but often we don’t know most of them deeply enough to write about them on a regular basis. But dig a little deeper and you may find that there is indeed something you know well enough to share with the world.

Here are some tips on how to reflect on potential writing topics.

What do you know?

In what field have you trained? What’s your job right now? Does it require any special expertise?

Think about the skills and the abilities you use every day. There must be something you know how to do better than most people you know. Look at your resume or make a list of things you know. Don’t censor yourself and freewrite about your knowledge.

After looking at your list, you may find something that sparks your attention. Put your knowledge list in groups and see if a topic gathers a lot of words. You may have a potential list of keywords for your next blog.

What do you like?

Sometimes it’s not so much about what we know but about what we enjoy. For example, while I’m not a knitting expert, I can certainly say I enjoy knitting and could probably find ways to build a blog around it.

Sometimes, focusing on something you like may eventually turn you into an expert. Think about when you chose your major in college (if you did go to college): did you choose it because you were already an expert at it or because you were curious to learn more?

What do you want to share?

Sometimes people want to share concerns and ideas that may have nothing to do with their knowledge or their hobbies. However, sudden interests can be turned into hobbies or knowledge.

Read plenty of news and blog posts about a variety of subjects. Something new might just be thing you were looking for. Sharing these new finds is often a great way to begin to take part in a community. Share everything you find interesting with your friends and peers and you might become a reliable source of interesting news.

Everyone has something to say. What’s your thing? How did you find out what you wanted to blog about?

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Why so quiet?

I see I am getting quite a few visits, considering that I am only beginning to keep this blog.

Despite this, it seems there’s a lack of communication between, well, us. I seem to be the only one talking to you. Why aren’t you talking to me?

Maybe some of you are just bouncing off. That’s okay. But those who actually read and stay, I’d really like to know your thoughts and comments.

  • How can I make this blog better?
  • What subjects are you interested in?
  • Do you have suggestions of topics to cover?
  • Do I need to change my theme?

I want to keep this blog informative, but also personal and useful. It won’t all be articles and lists. What else would you like to see?




Filed under Personal

5 ways to get in the write frame of mind

On some days writing comes easily–we sit down, we have a list of topics to cover, and we get down to work. But on other days (like today for me), the thought of sitting down to write travel articles just doesn’t get me going at all. It can be fatigue, emotional turmoil, boredom. But I don’t get paid just to show up… I get paid with results. So on days like this, when it’s hard to concentrate, I do one (or many) of these things to get me going.

Do some yoga poses

Yoga benefits your mind, not only your body. Consciously relaxing and letting your mind go as you take deep breaths can help dissipate whatever’s bothering you. You can perform the classic sun salutations or follow a routine of your choice.

Listen to brain wave music

If yoga isn’t for you, you can try listening to brain wave music. My personal favourite is BrainSync by Kelly Howell. The brain waves imbedded in the music or ambiance sounds can help you focus, activate your creativity or deepen your insight. I was skeptical at first, but I quickly realized how effective it is.


Peter Elbow, a well-known composition theorist and proponent of freewriting, argues that

freewriting gets you going, gets you writing, makes it much easier to begin. With freewriting, “starting to write” means just blurting out first thoughts, musings, and perplexities, starting anywhere–not trying to write a draft. (Everyone Can Write 86)

Freewriting can help you get rid of the mental obstacles between you and your writing. Try turning off your screen while you type for added “freedom” from the look of words.

Take a walk

Sometimes, just nothing will do. When the words don’t come, when freewriting doesn’t break through your sluggishness, sometimes a bit of fresh air can help clear your mind. Try to think about what you have to write as you walk–not about why you can’t write. You’ll come back to your screen refreshed and ready to tackle your tasks.

Take a day off

Unless you have something due that very day, there’s nothing wrong in taking a day off if absolutely nothing works. Sometimes, our brain just needs to rest or deal with the internal turmoil before it’s able to concentrate on work again. I call them my “mental health days”.

It took me all day to write this post; I came back to it every few hours or so. It’s also the only writing I’ve done today. Writing those posts takes me away from my turbulent thoughts while letting me write without constraints of topic, word count or keywords.

What do you do when you’re not in the mood to write?

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How to write a great Elance bid proposal

It’s through Elance that I started working as a freelance writer. It’s an easy way to connect to potential clients and eventually develop long-term relationships with people and organizations. They’re not the best-paying jobs, but they can quickly become so.

One of the features of Elance is that you have to bid for the jobs you want to get. The bid proposal is key to getting the writing jobs you want. Here are some tips on writing great Elance proposals that will get you the job.

Keep it short

Especially in writing jobs where the topics tend to be chosen by the client, you don’t have much explanations to give outside of your own skills. My bids are never more than 3 or 4 paragraphs. Here’s my personal breakdown:

  • 1st paragraph: Name the job, your time frame and your price. It shows you’ve read the job description. Mine goes this way: “I will (write x articles) in (x days, weeks) for (price).
  • 2nd paragraph: Describe, in short, your experience and your skills. Focus on what the client is looking for and show how your experience and skills relate to the job.
  • 3rd paragraph: Invite a visit to your profile for more information and thank your client for considering your bid.

Don’t be humble

There’s nothing wrong with having written hundreds of articles. Mention it if it’s relevant. Don’t boast or exaggerate, but use anything that can give you an edge over your competitors.

Choose a fair price

If your client has a low budget, try and bid a little higher, close to your usual fees. Once, a client contacted me saying my bid was a bit too high but that they were still interested in my services. It’s up to you if you want to lower your price to get the client, or move on to another job. Never be afraid to overbid a little, but never, never underbid. It hurts your Elance rank and it helps keep the prices low (2$ for a 1000-word article? I don’t think so!). I usually don’t worry about all the very cheap bids coming from providers in India and the Middle East; their English is often poor and the jobs usually go to Western providers.

Always attach a sample

If you have a sample in the area your potential client is requesting, go ahead and attach it. Use a PDF with a watermark or “read-only” if you want to make sure that the client won’t use it without your permission. A sample is a great way to show your skills in a work-related context.

Reread, revise, proof-read

I always find a few mistakes after the fact–but don’t worry, you can go and edit your proposal. Take the time to reread and edit your proposal. Mistakes in your proposal won’t help you find writing jobs. Do the same for your profile; clients often check these out before they award a job.

Elance has its own proposal guide, but writing jobs are particular in that they don’t use technical skills like web development or programming. Learn a formula that works for you and use it.

Do you have any Elance tips to share?


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What are you worth as a freelance writer?

Today I found the blog of Ghostwriter Dad… and I found myself wondering what I was worth as a freelance writer.

My best client currently pays me 15$ per 500-word article. These don’t usually require more than a cursory Web search about the topic, and I can write them in about 30 minutes. That gives me an average of 30$ per hour. Not bad as far as I’m concerned–probably the best salary I’ve ever made in my life.

However, assignments from this client are somewhat limited and as I need to transition from graduate funding to making a living on my own, I need to find other sources of revenue.

So, what am I worth?

If the best I can get right now is 15$/500 words, is this what I am worth? Could I ask more? Ghostwriter Dad argues that you can easily get 1$ per word as you gain experience and a reputation. His blog is really inspiring and I plan on keeping up with it from now on.

In the meantime, however, how do I deal with the measly-paying jobs where I make less than 5$ an hour? Do I see them through for the reputation? Do I give them up to find better-paying assignments?

What did you do as a beginning freelance writer? Did you accept pennies and dimes in the hope that it would bring dollars in the future? How did you move your pay scale from cents per word to dollars per word? What kind of assignments should I seek out?


Filed under Professional issues