Tag Archives: blog

Lessons from the Trenches – Freelance Lessons

trenches-british10This morning I wrote a 350 word blog article for a guy I have never met. As of the writing of this column I have no idea whether or not this guy is actually going to pay me for my work. I have several ads up for freelance work and he discovered one and contacted me late yesterday. He wanted a 500 word blog article at first and then a 250 word one. When I was done the piece was 350 words (250 would not have done it justice) and I will charge him at the 250 word price.

There are several lessons here. First, sometimes you just have to take a chance. I get a lot of response from my ads and about ¼ of the time, I don’t get paid. It’s frustrating but it is the nature of the beast when you float ads for work. Sometimes the work goes well, like a woman who contacted me to rewrite some stuff on her website that I charged $30 for. She loved what I did so much that I got an envelope in the mail several days after the completion of that job with an extra $20 in it and a note that said “thanks”. Then there is the SEO job I took on where the handler didn’t pay any of the subcontractors she hired. That job lost me about $150 worth of work. The thing is, it can go either way and often, it does.  But you won’t make any money at all if you don’t take that leap of faith.

The second lesson is that we have to be smart about the way we charge for things. I generally charge a new client half down and then the rest on delivery. I know that there are a lot of clients out there who won’t buy into that but the way I figure it, if they want quality work, they will invest in it just like I am investing my time and trusting that the payment will come.

Finally, there is the lesson in human nature and communication. I believe (and this is my humble opinion) that in this day and age with the advent of all the technology we have stopped really listening to each other. We communicate in short bursts of verbiage that often amounts to nothing more than a sneeze. Long gone for many are the days when you got to “feel a person out” during initial conversations. If you are going to freelance, you have to get back to the basics and go back to the days of getting an “impression” of a potential client. Last night, when I first spoke to the blog article guy, I asked him key questions. I had him explain his blog to me and from the way he explained it, I could tell that he was passionate about it. (Good sign #1) I also discovered that he was looking for a certain “tone”, again this show me that he is serious about the work. (Good sign#2) Finally, he was willing to put that half down on the project which means he really was investing in the work. (Good sign #3) I wouldn’t have been able to determine all of this had I not listened.

So if you are going to freelance understand that it is a rough road at times to travel. It can be rewarding but it can also feel a little bit like that road in China that the truckers travel with the very large no-return drop offs. It is a road you must travel carefully and slowly, watching for the dangers along the way BUT once you get to the other side, there is a lot of reward. In the care of freelancing, slow and steady really does work best.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Vote Now

Write to Done is running their annual. Make sure to stop by and vote for the blogs that you think are the most interesting and helpful!

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 28, 2022 in Writing


Tags: , , , ,

For Sale……ME!

Self-promotion…it’s a scary phrase. My reaction when I was a young writer just starting out was, “I have to do what???” I didn’t want any part of self-promotion. Why should I have to do that? I’m a writer after all. I don’t sell things; I write!

And that attitude is all fine and well, unless you actually want to make a living writing. I mean if you are independently wealthy and don’t rely on your writing in order to hit the drive thru at Taco Bell…go ahead…don’t tell anyone how special your work is. As for me…well my writing has to feed my family, buy my sweats in the winter and keep the electricity on. Self-promotion is a fact of my life.

So how does it work…this self-promotion? (It sounds so…well…you know…) First and foremost, a writer has to write, but then they have to sell themselves. We have to be able to convince people that we are worth taking a gander at. And then we have to convince them that we are worth their investing their time and money into us. After all, when a writer is selling their work, it is, in a sense, selling themselves.

There are a lot of ways that writers sell their selves.

  • When you write a blog - you are coaxing people to follow you and maybe buy your work. Your blog is one way you get your readers attention. Sort of a “hey, look at me” thing. Followers equate to readers which equates to word of mouth. Word of mouth=Good!
  • When you pitch a magazine-you are convincing the editor that you have the qualifications to write for their magazine. That query is your how-do-you-do handshake. You have to make sure that it is a firm handshake otherwise the editor will move on to the next writer. You have to yell “pick me, pick me” louder than the rest.
  • When you query an agent or publisher- You are selling an idea or a novel. You are telling this person, that you probably don’t know, that your work is worth taking a look at. Your book proposal is the make-up you dawn every morning…a way to say, “see….aren’t I purty???”
  • When you leave a comment on a blog, Facebook or Twitter-Even when you are leaving these you should be selling yourself. You best face forward all the time means potential attention to who you are and who you are is your work. When you comment on certain social media sites think about what you are putting out there.  These days those comments can come back to haunt you so why not make them work for you too?

These are just a few ways that we can self-promote and although I know that the thought of doing so can make you a bit queasy…get over it. You have a duty to put your best face out there so that your work can be shared with the world.  Heck you have a bit or a moral obligation of sorts. So think about how you can self-promote and then just do it…then pay a bill with your rewards when your work sells…or go to Taco Bell…because sometimes…. getting a burrito makes it all worthwhile. (I am in no way promoting Taco Bell…in fact, I can’t stand it, but it was funnier than Wendy’s)



© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


Posted by on August 4, 2022 in Business of Writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blogging Right Along…..

People ask me all the time why I started a blog. Many of my friends think that I am crazy for having done so.

My friend Tim thinks I have my hands full with writing my books and am doing a disservice to my novels by blogging. (Note- Tim has never actually read one of my books)

My writer friend Denise tells me that no one will read my blog and I am wasting my time. (Note- Denise reads my blog every day in order to tell me how no one will ever read it….)

My cousin Eddie says that I am leaving myself open for other people to make fun of my writing. (Note –Eddie made fun of my pigtails when I was a kid so…whatever)

While to some degree they are all sort of correct, i.e. I DO have my hands full, not EVERYONE reads my blog and Eddie…well…he’s Eddie…, it is not a waste of my time. It is, in fact, my way of giving back. I have been a writer for over 30 years and while I am by far not the perfect writer, I have learned a few things along the way. I think that when the Universe gives you knowledge of any kind…you are obligated to share it for the good of all human kind. (Good thing the Universe didn’t give me limericks…there once was a lady from Nantucket…)

Blogging also makes me feel good. I have always been a bit of a clown…I love to make people smile…and I have always been a writer…blogging is a way I can put those two things together along with the knowledge I have rattling around in my head and BAM!…a bit of support and entertainment for my writerkin. (Hey I made up a new word…see Writerkin..The family of writers you are connected to…Writerkin….(It even has a definition)

The truth is, I enjoy writing and I enjoy passing on what I have learned but, I also think that too many of those of us who have “made it” forget the path we trudged. I wanted to go forth and help where ever I could. So if I make you smile (and not in the creepy way) great! If I entertain you, great! If I have been able to make your trudge along the writing path easier…halleluiah! I wish someone had done that for me.


© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

1 Comment

Posted by on May 9, 2023 in Writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

More than Sandwich Boards and Phone Calls

Today marketing your new book is a whole lot easier than it used to be. In the old days writers had to get the word out with labor intensive self-innovative acts of public display. Advertising included sandwich boards outside the local bookstore and days on end of personal phone calls touting to prospective bookstores why they should carry your great new book. Writers would do crazy things, like do the local radio morning show which almost always included some form of public humiliation. I once did a local morning show, when my second book launched, that included me donning a mask with two other people and being asked stupid questions so that the “contestants” could pick out which one of us was the writer. In the end they picked the guy who worked at McDonald’s; kind of telling isn’t it? At times this kind of promotion was almost, well, embarrassing.

Today we writers have a bevy of promotional tools at our fingertips that don’t include an obnoxious radio personality. (In all fairness, I need to disclose here that one of my first jobs was in radio and I was an obnoxious radio personality for about 2 years) We have the internet which leads to websites, blogs, e-mail blasts, online interviews, promotion sites and Facebook fan pages. All of these neat little innovations can be channeled to aid you in promoting your book and even yourself as a writer in general. Don’t think for a second that it is easy however. I have to schedule time each morning to update everything. The last thing you want to do as a writer is begin a website, blog or Facebook fan page and then not update it. That’s a little like putting your underclothes on and then forgetting your pants…people will talk.

As a writer, I’m grateful for all of the new tools and I use them as many of you well know. I have a Facebook fan page. I also do this blog and a newsletter. When something new is happening I do blast e-mails and update on twitter (@writerjaifarris). Each and every one of these venues gets the word out that I am a writer and am serious about my work. It does all add more work to my day but I’m telling you now it beats those phone calls and sandwich boards any day of the week. If you want to promote yourself, take advantage of all these tools. There are help files within Word Press that will help you set up a blog or a page and it will cost you almost nothing but time. Facebook offers the same type of help.

The bottom line is the difference between being that writer who sells books and being that guy who has written 1200 manuscripts and is in the next episode of “Hoarders” may be getting the word out. To quote shoes, “just do it”, it’s easier than ever.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

1 Comment

Posted by on March 7, 2023 in Writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: