Weekend Adventure: Silver Springs

Super unflattering photo of me. But it was a fun time!

Source: Weekend Adventure: Silver Springs

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Freelance Isn’t Free.

This all brings us to the underlying message: you cannot expect top tier work from a native English speaker and pay them the same low wage you would if you were to outsource. Freelance marketplaces with workers from Pakistan, India, and other poorer countries have rock-bottom pricing.

From Merriam-Webster:

Free (\ˈfrē\):

: not costing or charging anything

Lance (\ˈlan(t)s\):

:  a steel-tipped spear carried by mounted knights or light cavalry

…okay, so maybe it doesn’t do the whole artsy Tarantino thing, but you get the picture. Ask any freelancer what their biggest pet peeve is, and they will more than likely all respond with clients wanting you to work for free.

This in and of itself is not altogether shocking; people with money and in a position of some degree of authority, i.e. some form of manager, is going to price shop. If they spend too much, they get yelled out by their superiors for going over budget.

The other factor at play is turnaround; most people who hire freelance workers seem to wait until the 11th hour, needing their project completed yesterday.

One of the few ways I have managed to carve a niche for myself is being able to meet tight deadlines. Not to sound haughty, but on more than one occasions I have been able to exceed expectations by providing at least a rough draft within a 24 hour window. Time is money, and when you can save them time, they perceive you as being of a higher value over other freelance options.

Unfortunately, short windows are becoming standard. Okay, not so bad, right? Just hunker down and bang out projects. No big deal; not a huge change from any other Monday morning.

Until you consider what they are willing to pay, and that becomes the bane of your professional existence. Case in point, a main client of mine who I partner with on a frequent basis had to turn down a job recently that would have included me, and it had to do with the perfect storm of what would have led us to hating life.

A company inquired about using us to craft entire packets of copy. Each order would be in bulk, nearing the 5,000 word mark. This would steady work, too; the company was growing and was actively seeking solid workers.

Sounds good so far. The best jobs are big jobs; yes, it usually requires me to work two weeks solid without a day off, but then you get downtime afterwards and a decent paycheck at the end.

Another requirement was native English speakers, which believe it or not, is a strong selling point for anyone looking to enter into freelance employment. The reason for this is everyone east of the UK claims to be fluent in conversational English, only to have an entire article written using Google Translate.

So what’s the deal? We have the skills, the have the work. Should be a done deal. But whenever things seem too good to be true, they always are. The company was netting $300 for these website packages. The writers, as can be assumed, would be getting fairly compensated, right?

One of the hardest things for me to communicate to potential clients is payment. Everyone wants me to charge by the page, but that simply does not work. A single page that is written in size 12 Times New Roman font and double spaced will have fewer words than a single space, font 11 Calibri page.

Simply put, I cannot compare apples to oranges on your project when you want me to complete it by the page. This is especially true if your instructions read “You’re the creative one; I’ll let you decide what’s best.

Another problem is that the Average Joe can’t picture how long a certain number of words is going to be. That is fair, and I get it. For reference, when I’m working on content pages for service trades, home pages generally take 1,000 words, and that gives a rundown of available services, their summaries, short histories about the company, and what sets them apart. You would actually be surprised just how hefty a 1,000 word home page is.

Back to the new client. As they receive $300 for doing little more than getting a new assignment into the To Do Stack, their writers are paid less than one cent per word. Multiply that times the amount of words, which I believe was around the 4,750 mark, and it is literally pennies on the dollar.

Now, it may seem like it’s still a good idea, but that amount would be for labor only. The amount of research that a freelance writer such as myself has to do can be borderline overwhelming at times. To go from knowing next to nothing about, say, poured concrete, and then to create a series of pages that sounds like I’ve been installing it for 20 years, takes a certain degree of Google skills and pure, and tapping into my natural B.S. creating glands.

Depending on how specific of a niche the job is, I may spend hours just researching a topic. This is time that can’t really be billed, either; freelance work is often for the completed project, and I can only really charge by the word.

Another client that recently had to be shot down was someone looking for a package that would essentially require advanced SEO techniques; the kind that one would hone via an advanced marketing degree. Again, the offer was for peanuts, and the niche was too specific. It was more adult-themed in nature; this isn’t immediately a deal breaker, but as is the case with many things in life, attitude is everything.

Another red flag is when they come off having read an article about master-level SEO and now think that this is what they should be shopping for. Once they were asking for Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Marketing, I was out. Not only do I not know how to do this, but 1) this isn’t even proven to be effective and 2) this dips into David Blaine’s territory of misdirection. Basically, it’s using words that most people like to trick them into being super into what you’re putting down.

I am always happy to offer a free revisions for free. After all, without developing the ability to read people’s minds, there is going to be some room for adjustment. However, it was obvious that they had a specific idea in mind. Whenever this happens, nothing produced by my side is going to be completely satisfactory.

Picture it like this; rather than having a physical model or picture of a home, you merely tell the blueprint guy what you’re looking for. They may get close, but it will never be the true dream home that you had envisioned, and it’s because two different people are trying to imagine an abstract concept.

This all brings us to the underlying message: you cannot expect top-tier work from a native English speaker and pay them the same low wage you would if you were to outsource. Freelance marketplaces with workers from Pakistan, India, and other poorer countries have rock-bottom pricing, and then still charge a cut from the worker; unfortunately, due to technological and language barriers, most of the work then has to be paid to be corrected by a true English speaker.

Because they have the knowledge of the English language, they will be charging more, and you have not only paid for the same project twice, but now you have wound up paying more than had you simply gone with them in the first place.

If your project is so complex that it requires advanced metrics and techniques, you may be better off finding a salaried marketing manager to take the reins. The average freelance worker is only going to offer copy and copy-related services.

Finally, if your project is important, don’t cheap out. I’m not saying that you have to spend a fortune; just don’t expect someone to work for free. I charge $0.05 per word; that’s five bucks for 100 words, which is probably somewhere in the ballpark of two to three paragraphs for a website. With that, I include a free revision, two if I’m completely off base.

That also includes the time that I have to spend researching the topic, editing my own work (which is surprisingly difficult because we are all blind to many of our mistakes), and ensuring that it is returned within your specified deadline window.

Even at that price, and what it entails, most would look to drop that number down. Some even argue that larger projects should come with a bulk discount; while that would make sense in the manufacturing word, giving me more work to complete faster should not be billed less as it puts me on the expressway to losing the rest of my mind.

Freelance is a great gig, and if you haven’t contracted out some of your tasks to a freelance laborer, I would highly recommend it. To contact me to discuss your project, use the field below or visit me at my website or Facebook page.

 

 

Finally, An Update!

More travel blog posts! The good good travel boys and girls over at HotelCoupons.Com and Drive the Nation are still my favorite places for unique travel ideas, deals, and more. If nothing else, I find their focus on small town destinations fascinating in a faced-paced world. And more than once I have wanted to walk into my computer screen and just wake up in some of these places.

Sorry for not posting in a while, it’s been a crazy couple of months.

More travel blog posts! The good good travel boys and girls over at HotelCoupons.Com and Drive the Nation are still my favorite places for unique travel ideas, deals, and more. If nothing else, I find their focus on small town destinations fascinating in a faced-paced world. And more than once I have wanted to walk into my computer screen and just wake up in some of these places.

Anyways, lately they have been having me write about a few really cool places, some closer to home than others.

  • Who doesn’t love candy? (Other than dentists.) Got you a scoop on Hammond’s Candies Factory Tour in Denver.
  • The rent still sucks in Orlando but here are 5 Free Things to Do.
  • Volcano Bay just opened and I was lucky enough to do some research on it a couple of weeks back.

I also got to fall in love with some small towns and then regretted not being a bajillionaire to go check them out:

  • Gatlinburg somehow has weirder attractions than Orlando does (and I say that lovingly to both), and it also looks no less beautiful than Endor does.
  • I have no idea why there isn’t a booming movie industry in Jacksonville OR because it looks like the idyllic small town from every movie ever made.

As always, you can always find my past posts here and here.

Also, I realized that I never ask you what you’ve been writing. What’s up? Whatcha been working on? Let’s see it!

What to Expect When You’re Expecting Content: A Primer

As is the case with any type of work, if you deal with any type of customers or clients, there’s going to be some miscommunication. And while the reaction to my work has been overwhelming favorable, there’s always going to be some hiccups. Sometimes it’s me not fully understanding the client’s needs, and other times it’s on their side. It’s fine; such is life.

I will say, however, that there are some reoccurring issues I see time and again. That’s why I decided for this post to discuss a few of them.

I was both surprised and delighted to know that yesterday was my official one year anniversary of being a freelance writer. I honestly wasn’t sure if this was going to be a viable option for me, but at least in the meantime it is. And considering much of what I do I wound up learning as I went, it’s a seriously humbling feeling of accomplishment.

As is the case with any type of work, if you deal with any type of customers or clients, there’s going to be some miscommunication. And while the reaction to my work has been overwhelming favorable, there’s always going to be some hiccups. Sometimes it’s me not fully understanding the client’s needs, and other times it’s on their side. It’s fine; such is life.

I will say, however, that there are some reoccurring issues I see time and again. That’s why I decided for this post to discuss a few of them.

Calling Out Competitors

This is always an interesting one for me. At first, the client seems sure that they want you to call out a few of their top competitors. Whether they’re simply feeling strong or they’re attempting to piggyback on their SEO influence, this happens quite regularly. And I don’t think that it’s coming from a place of malice so much as small business owner ego.

And almost every time without fail, once they see their competition mentioned in text form, they do an immediate 180. I don’t know if it’s seeing it in plain black and white, or maybe a feeling of inferiority to their competition, or possibly even seeing the potential for slander, but more often than not their own request typically freaks them out.

Long story short, if you’re going to have me throw shade at someone else, either commit fully and know that you do X,Y, and Z better than them, or stick to common civility and leave them out.

Wanting Me to Use Existing Content

Again, business owner ego is alive and well with this issue. No matter how poorly written their existing site may be, these types of clients will kick back what I wrote, and instead request that I use what is already available. This is problematic as it raises the question of 1) if it’s already that good, why are you hiring the content work out and 2) without a writing background, how do you know the existing text is effective?

I get it. I’ve worked in my own businesses in one capacity or another. It’s your baby; it’s an extension of yourself. You don’t want to know that you’re doing something wrong, or that something isn’t as sharp as it should be. But at the same time, being your own company means recognizing your strengths as well as your weaknesses and compensating accordingly.

Think of it like this; would people have read Donald Trump‘s book if he didn’t utilize a ghostwriter? This same question can be applied to any celebrity memoir. People who need a book and don’t know how to write one use a writer. In the same vein, those who don’t know how to fill out their website need to sub it out as well.

Not Being Specific Enough

Anyone who works in any sort of creative capacity knows what this feels like. They assume that, even as a content writer, you’re some sort of artist with a blank canvas just waiting to make them a masterpiece. However, in actuality, the process is far less romantic. I’m usually in last night’s pajamas banging out a generic service page for someone I’ve never met. Sometimes in my living room, or if I’m feeling particularly under the weather, from my bed.

This doesn’t stop some clients from requesting several thousand words without any direction whatsoever. They will make claims such as “I trust your judgment” or “you’re the writer” or even “surprise me!”.

I am not a birthday clown. There will be no surprises.

They may go the other way with it, where they provide me what seems like every single word in the English language that remotely may connect to their services in even the slightest capacity, which leads me to…

Lack of Understanding of What Content Does

Many know SEO as the buzzword, but I’m finding that few know what it really is. The short answer is the better your page’s SEO level is, the easier it is for people to find you. For example, if you have a plumbing company, when people have a leak they’re going to head over to Google and simply type “local plumber”. Those sites with better SEO will appear first, which is important as the vast majority of people won’t even pay attention to page 2 of results.

So how do you rank better? There are dozens of factors in place, content being one of them. Google’s crawlers are getting smarter daily, and the main focus is preventing spam and bad info from appearing first. So if your site looks and reads like garbage, you’re probably scrapping the bottom of the search barrel.

Many clients want text to either paint a rosy picture of their business, while others are more or less looking for a biography written. At minimum, your page should successfully explain what you do and services offered, with about a dozen or so relevant keywords.

 

I want to end this post by once again thanking everyone for their support this last year. As always, if I can assist you with your professional or creative writing needs, I’d love to discuss your job. Be sure to send me an email (below) or hit me up on my Facebook page and I will gladly return your inquiry.

 

Keep Traveling, Good Buddies!

I keep forgetting to update everyone with my latest travel articles, mostly because I don’t get notifications when they go live (it’s for a client, not my own personal blogging space). But if you love traveling, you may find these helpful:

Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour

See where the magic happens, and on most days, on-site ice cream creation. Plus you get taste samples, a gift shop, and an ice cream shop. If you love ice cream and/or factory tours, check it out.

Dollywood

Hello, Dolly! Thrill rides, live music, American history, and maybe even an appearance from the country music goddess herself. Family fun, entertainment offerings, rides for everyone, and more, all from idyllic Pigeon Forge, TN.

 

5 Free Things to do in Houston

Big city living on a budget. There’s a surprising amount of things you can do in Houston without dropping a single cent.

Dahlonega, GA

Classic small town charm, rich U.S. historical offerings, and posh area attractions such as wineries, dining options, and gorgeous views.

If you’ve missed my past postings, first of all shame on you. Two, rectify your mistakes and check out my archived posts:

Drive the Nation

Hotel Coupons

Be on the lookout for more articles as well! And if you’d like to contact me about posting on your blog/site, feel free to contact me.

PRESIDENT TRUMP …

Well said. Let’s hope for a strong presidency that will end the divide and bring us together.

Regie's Blog

In 2008, Oprah and Will Smith yelled and screamed and high-fived each other over how amazing the Obama presidency was going to be.

But then, we had a “beer summit” (that was odd). Then, a trillion dollar stimulus package …that turned into a deficit. Then a Tea Party. Then Occupy Wall Street. Then Ferguson, Baltimore, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Orlando, Chattanooga, Benghazi and Dallas. Then came Obamacare. And ISIS rose up in the middle east.

Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Merle Haggard and Steve Jobs ALL died during the Obama presidency. Peyton Manning retired. American Idol got cancelled. Tornadoes still ravaged trailer parks in the mid west and hurricanes still chewed up beaches. Several people got eaten by sharks. Brad and Angelina broke up. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian procreated. Smart phones blew up in people’s pockets. We had, like, six hundred Country Music award shows…

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October Articles are GO

I hope everyone’s October/Inktober/Rocktober/Autumn Solstice/Spooky Times Month is going well.

I have three new posts up (plus one I worked on) for you to enjoy.

I hope everyone’s October/Inktober/Rocktober/Autumn Solstice/Spooky Times Month is going well.

I have three new posts up (plus one I worked on) for you to enjoy.

I don’t get to do it as much as I’d like, but I love to travel. And as you’ve guessed, I love to write. So working on travel blog posts are a lot of fun for me.

The topics this go round are monuments, dia da muertos, and Oktoberfests. The company I write for is an American travel group, so even though these traditions are Spanish and Bavarian in origin, respectively, they are all about events in these United States.

 

Hotel Coupons

I love writing for Hotel Coupons blog because of how unique their topics are. In this case, diverse festivals that celebrate cultures that don’t get a whole lot of celebration.

If you’re interested in beer, pretzels, schnitzel, and fun, definitely check out my Oktoberfest post. There just might be a festival near you!

If you want to check out some sugar skulls, dancing, and alters, see this post on Dia de Muertos!

Drive the Nation

The articles for Drive the Nation are typically geared towards places you can find unique nationally history. This month, I wrote about:

 

If you want to see more, you can check out my past assignments here. And if you would like me to write guest posts for your site or blog, just drop me a line or send me an email at chris@writenowfl.com.

I Did Some Guest Posting

If you enjoy my writing AND like to learn about traveling, I have good news: I’ve started doing some blog posts for Hotel Coupons and Drive the Nation.

If you enjoy my writing AND like to learn about traveling, I have good news: I’ve started doing some blog posts for Hotel Coupons and Drive the Nation. Drive the Nation is owned by Hotel Coupons, but has a different feel to it.

Hotel Coupons, as you might have figured out, is a great place to save money on travel. They do more than just find you the best price, like aggregated discount sites. They find last second deals and cancellations to make sure you get a great stay at the lowest price possible. Best of all, if you use their mobile app you can find local hotel price deals through geolocation. That means no more having to pull over on the side of the road to find the best hotel price, because your phone will do it for you.

You can find their coupons everywhere, from Denny’s, state rest areas, and even McDonald’s . They get to lowest prices so you don’t have to do the work, which makes them far more capable than Priceline or Kayak.

If you want to take a much-needed vacation and haven’t decided where, both Hotel Coupons and Drive the Nation have tips, tricks, and more about visiting major cities, as well as hidden gems all across the USA.

Most recently, I posted an article about visiting Knott’s Berry Farm and some fantastic places to see the Milky Way. I’ll be having more posts in the near future as well. You can visit my author page for Hotel Coupons and for Drive the Nation for easier access to my posts.

What’s been some of your favorite vacations? Do you like the typical tourist traps, or go off the beaten path? Let me know in the comments!

 

And if you’re interested in me writing some blog posts for you, you can contact me through email:

or through my site!

Thanks for reading and happy travels!