Freelance Writing

Content Marketing Tech Tool of the Week: Google Places

Sorry that this week's Tech Tool is coming on Wednesday instead of Monday. Monday got really hectic for me all of a sudden. It was a pizza and red velvet whoopie lunch kind of day.

Anyway, the Tech Tool of the Week is Google Places. No, this is not because it's really really fun to write reviews. It's this week's tech tool because it's a great way to find contacts for an email marketing or a direct mail marketing campaign. Google Places makes it easy to find valid, quality contacts that could lead to some quality business for you, much easier than web surfing yourself or going through the phone book.

To use Google Places to find businesses to pitch, go the the rating page where you would normally start if you wanted to write a review. Next, go to the search bar, and type in a specific type of business with which you want to work. If you want to do work for clothing boutiques, then type in "clothing boutiques". If law firms, then maybe type in "law" or "lawyers." Since I have a lot of experience covering technology, I typed in "technology."

After that, peruse through the results, clicking on the businesses that interest you. If you are doing a direct mail campaign, then an address is right there for you. If you are doing an email campaign, or would like to see if there's a specific person you could send your direct mail to, click the web address to find this information. You may not always find an email or a company directory. If you want, you could call the business to find the information, or you could skip the business all together.

From my perspective, I think that the results from Google Places are very trustworthy. If they happen to have a recent review, then it's very likely the business is still operating and that the contact information is valid. This is a problem you can run into if you pull information from the phone book or an online directory. Also, many of these listings are put there by the businesses themselves, so these companies are hoping to be found. Maybe they didn't intend to be found by someone who's offering writing and editing services, but you never know. That might be something the company needs!

Give it a try! Best of all Google Places is completely free, so you don't have to spend any money on contact lists from database companies. Plus, if you run into a business that you want to review, you can do that also.

Why There's No Better Time to Start Freelance Writing than Right Now

Over 25 million Americans are out of work, almost four years after the initial recession hit in 2008. Nicholas Kristof wrote an excellent op-ed piece in the New York Times about unemployment, questioning if the federal government still considers jobs a priority. Certainly, the American people still consider it a priority. I agree with Kristof that the Washington ought to be doing more to address unemployment. But, I think that we also need to ask, what are WE doing about unemployment?

These same millions of Americans, many fired and laid off from companies they worked at for 10, 20, even 30 years, are fighting in that rat race for a new job. Somewhere. Anywhere. The Wall Street Journal reported that the average job seeker gives up after five months of job hunting. Giving up? Job hunting? I have to wonder why are so many people are spending so much time fighting and waiting for someone to hire them when they can just hire themselves.

I'm not necessarily talking about starting your own enterprise or brick-and-mortar store, but self-employment as a freelancer or independent contractor. Especially those who have decades of work experience in a specific industry, that's valuable information and specialization that a professional can offer, and charge for. Americans are good, hardworking people, right? Why do we need someone else to give us a job when we could just give ourselves a job, become our own boss, and reclaim our work and our lives?

After all, what kind of thanks and rewards are corporations given us? The August cover issue of Mother Jones shows that corporate profits are up 22 percent, but that money is not going towards hiring people or increasing salaries. It's staying in the pockets of the executives. Yet, the non-executives who still have jobs are working harder than ever. Working the equivalent of two full-time jobs, leaving no time for our spouses, our families, or anything else for that matter. When we agree to take a position, we shouldn't agree to give up the rest of our lives too.

Well, sure, many of these positions come with benefits that are hard to come by as a freelancer or independent contractor. But, how long does that last? Take the case of Aloha Airlines. The airline filed for bankruptcy on March 20, 2008. Ten days later, the airline ceased passenger flight operations. And, just like that 1,900 employees were laid off. Benefits: gone. Salary: gone. Pensions: gone. All that hard work and dedication to Aloha Airlines evaporated in a matter of seconds, as anything to show for that hard work and dedication no longer existed. Aloha and Mahalo!

Consider independent contracting as a completely viable way to earn a living. Sure, you might not make money right away, but how much money are you making in those five months of job hunting? You have a better chance of earning something as an independent contractor than as a full-time job scout. It's also cheaper for the company. As an independent contractor, you're not asking for a full-time, 40-hour job complete with salary and benefits. You're asking if you can fill a niche in the company for a short time. It's a great position for a company who may need the work done, but maybe doesn't have enough work to justify a full-time employee. Or isn't willing to provide the full package of a full-time employee. That's where you come in. The best part? If a company doesn't have a need for you, or a need for you any longer, you're not up the creek without a paddle. Hopefully, you have other clients to help pay your bills, and can easily find more clients to fill that gap. Now that's job security, when losing a client or losing a check doesn't mean you have nowhere else to go.

Take Mr. Haggard, Kristof's neighbor from the op-ed I previously mentioned. Haggard used to work on a crew detecting underground gas, electrical, or cable lines. He was earning $20 an hour before he was fired in 2008 at the beginning of the recession. Haggard has since been job hunting, on the prowl for two year. In that time, he's only gotten one call back for job as French chef, a job that didn't pan out. Now, Mr. Haggard would be great as an independent contractor or consultant in that industry he spent 15 year with. That's a ton of industry expertise that he can offer, and Haggard could charge well more than $20 an hour for his time and expertise. Haggard even admitted in the op-ed that company's are interested in hiring someone in his 50s. Well, I'm sure Mr. Haggard doesn't have that same bias toward himself, right?

 Now, if anything, is the best time to make a change and to strike it on your own. If you were a victim of the economy, laid off or fired after years and years of service, why would you want to go back to another company and corporation, and put yourself at risk of that happening again? When you're self-employed, you never go out of business, and you would never have the audacity to lay yourself off or to discipline yourself because you chose not to work those extra hours of overtime after already putting in 10, 12 hours.

I grant that I'm not (yet) making a six-figure salary doing this, but I am only 23-years old and I've been freelancing for nine months. I'm making enough to make ends meet, and it's not at the expense of leisure or family. If I can make it as an independent contractor, I believe that others can do it, especially if you have years, even decades of industry experience.

Funniest "Writer Wanted" Ads

As a follow up to my post on navigating writer job postings, I've decided to post some of the strangest and funniest that I've come across in my time as a freelance writer. Feel free to add your own in the comments, or to email me any that should be added to the list. Disclaimer: Any and all identifying information has been obscured for the sake of privacy. All typographical errors and uses of profanity appeared as they were in the original ad.


looking for a co writer.i have 5 horror stories in outline.others already completed and in submission.thought it might be interesting to write with someone must be serious about writing.NO ZOMBIES,WEREWOLVES OR VAMPIRES.that shit is to lame and i wont waste my time on must be sick,twisted and slightly perverted.age,race,gender and sexuality dont mean anything to me.just be a cool person and we can write great stories.e mail or text me for fastest response.[obscured].my name is [obscured],thanks and i hope to hear from you soon.


Get paid to blog!

We are a small production company in [obscured] and we need bloggers to write about our products!

Please include a resume.

You will be paid through Visa cash cards and you are able to work from home. You are able to get paid by check, but that means you would have to fill out forms and get taxed...

We are looking for someone to help us write hundreds of articles and blog posts and blasting them all over the Internet. This job will give

you a good foot in the door into future positions and you will soon learn how easy it is to make good money doing something you enjoy.

reply for more info follow the yellow brick road starting with "us"


I'm a local writer and I'm writing my self-help/memiors. I've just finished the first three chapters and I'm looking for readers and other writers to give me some feedback.

Please take some time to check it out at and let me know what you think. Thanks, [obscured].

Forced to post this job yet again.. Who ever we select we will have them do a trial article to make sure its the style were looking for :) 

Must articles must be sassy, sexy POSITIVE sense of writing. 

500 words each 2% keyword density per article.

Informative but playful style. ******Will be posted on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PLEASE REVIEW THE WEBSITE!!!! or competitors websites to get an idea about drunk texting

Please make sure the keyword is used in the first and last sentence

Texting while intoxicated- 2 articles

Texts from last night - 2 articles

My drunk texts-2 articles

Drunk texting- 2 articles

Drunk messages- - 2 articles

Drunken stupor- - 2 articles

College drunk texts- - 2 articles

Drunk photos

Drunk stories


I am looking for a female fashion writer to research and write copy for an ebook on fashion tips for women with large Breasts.

The book should include information on bra sizing, information on different kinds of bra, colours&patterns, neck lines for tops and cuts of dresses. 

I would also like sample imagery to be included. 

The book should be around 100 pages long.

The writing should be light and conversational, whilst being informative.


Added 8 AUG 2011, 5:51 AM EDT

I would also require information on swimwear for women with big Breasts.


I need to address the US Patent office.

I need to request information regarding all GRANTED petetions in relation to Petetion to Revive Patent under "unavoidable delay"

The patent office grants maybe 100 per year and we want to request a complete list of patents that requested and were GRANTED a petetion to revive under an unavoidable delay

for years 1995- present.

We do not need any file information just the patent numbers .


Okay, this one is not an ad for a writer, but for an illustrator. But, it’s still funny and weird:

I am looking to have a chicken illustration created for a t-shirt. The theme is LMFAO's Pary Rock Anthem. So I am looking for a female chicken in a polka dot bikini (similiar to the LMFAO album art) with a tatoo that reads, "Sorry for Party Rockin."

Freelance Writing Tech Tool of the Week: Freshbooks

One of my niches is technology. I didn't start out my freelance writing career with the intention to specialize in technology. Sort of just happened that way. One of my early gigs, a blog that I still write for by the way, focused on startups and new technology. I've used that gig as a springboard to new gigs, and it seems that technology is a topic that works for me.

Anyway, freelancers, like many other business people, can use technology to increase productivity, to improve efficiency, and to make life easier. So this week's tech tool of the week, of which I recommend to all freelancers is the online expense management program Freshbooks.

I found out about Freshbooks from an ad I saw on a web page. Prior to using Freshbooks, all my invoices were word documents, where with each new invoice I had to go through and change every line item, do my own math, then send it as an attachment. If I was creating an invoice for a new client, I had to change all the personal information myself as well.

With Freshbooks, for just a monthly $20 fee, I get professional-looking invoices that I can choose to send via email or snail mail, and the program does the work for me. The program also saves every line item I've ever used, which is handy for my clients that only pay for me to write blog posts. I don't have to go through and type in everything myself, or change anything from an old invoice to keep formatting consistent. I just have each line item as a blog post, which I pick from a drop down menu, put in all the other information, and it's done. When the client pays the invoice, I can mark off that as well, keeping track of how much the client paid and which method the client used to pay.

Freshbooks also comes with a time tracking feature, which is useful for clients who bill hourly. I haven't had any need for this feature, but it certainly is a better alternative than keeping track of time yourself. It also comes with the ability to do your own bookkeeping online. This is handy if you do all your invoicing through Facebook, but I do have a few clients who use ElanceoDesk, or their own methods for invoicing, so for the time being it's easier for me to use a separate program for bookkeeping.

I would highly recommend Freshbooks if you aren't yet using any time and billing management software for your work. For $20, you can have up to 25 clients on your account. There is a free version, which only allows you to have up to three clients. You can also create custom login pages for certain clients, if necessary.

Navigating Job Posts as a Freelance Writer

With the rise of the Internet and various freelancing jobs sites like Elance and oDesk comes the need to sort through job postings and job boards to find a gig that's worth applying for. Especially if you're new to freelancing and are in desperate need of work, it can be tempting to apply to any job posting that's remotely close to something you can do or are interested in doing.But, doing that will only lead to the grief of bad clients, poor pay rates, and overall disappointment. Just like how a hiring manager is thorough and particular in the search for candidates to interview, and eventually, hire, you need to be equally thorough and particular in choosing the jobs you'd like to apply for. Essentially, there are three things that ought to be answered, and answered "correctly", in order to make a job posting worth the time and effort.

  1. Budget - This is the most obvious one. How much does this job pay? If it's not listed, or if the job poster demonstrates that he/she isn't sure about the budget, then run away as fast as you can. You're freelancing as a business and you need to make a living. Don't waste time dealing with someone who has little or no budget, especially if it's below what your willing to work for. A few examples of when to run are when the budget/compensation says things like: Yes, $$$, cash, not sure, percentage of profit, per article, to be discussed later. All of those answers are just too vague for anyone to adequately gauge if the gig is worth the time. So, don't waste time trying to gauge it.
  2. Topic - What are you going to be writing about? If it's unclear, or if it's something where you'll be writing about all kinds of things, then avoid the project. In freelancing, it's important to develop niches, or specific topics of expertise. By developing niches, it's a lot easier to make money as you are developing your knowledge base on a few select topics, positioning yourself as someone who has experience and expertise. It may seem fun at first to write about a variety of things, but it only gets easier down the road if you spend your time on a few topics. Research gets easier as well as you will spend less time on it.
  3. Workload - How much work is expected of you? This is incredibly important to consider as knowing the workload will help you to determine if you can actually take on the project and if it's worth the money offered. There are jobs out there where its expected that you do 20 articles a week, or 10 articles per day. I don't even think I could do either of those if this client was my only client, let alone with the work of my other clients. If I don't know how much work is expected of me, it's possible the job poster doesn't either. And I don't want to work with a client who isn't sure of what they want.

Here's a posting from the St. Louis Craigslist that meets all of these criteria:

I am the Sports Editor for, and manage the sports content for the 24 web sites that we have in the St. Louis area. As we prepare to cover the new high school sports season, we are looking for sports writers to help cover high school games, events and also write feature stories.

We also cover anything of relevance to the communities we cover, so not all of our sports coverage is prep sports. We cover everything from Little League sports, to features on MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL players that are from the St. Louis area. We also cover area college athletics. Patch is leading the developing news model for combining digital journalism with community-oriented news, and we are also a very fun, innovative and rapidly growing company. Please drop us a line, and we'll get you to work right away on the stories that YOU are interested in writing! 

I'm happy to answer any questions you may have. 

  • Location: St. Louis
  • Compensation: We typically pay between $50 and $75 per story.

As you can see, this posting addresses all of the questions a freelancer ought to be asking before applying. We know the compensation/budget. We know the topic(s). We have some understanding of workload, as we know the type of the publication this job is for. Since this is an online news publication, we can wager that the workload is something of one to three articles per week. If I wrote about sports professionally, then this would be something I would apply to. But, I don't, so I won't bother.

Here's an example of a bad job posting that screams "Run Away!":

I need someone to write two papers for me. Please let me know if you are interested. College grad, or college student wanted. 

  • Location: St. Louis
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
  • Compensation: Good pay with discuss if interested

This posting doesn't answer any of the questions adequately. There's no specification on budget, topic, or workload. Yes, the posting says "two papers", but how long are these two papers? What kind of papers are they? Are they personal essays or are they research papers that would require research and a bibliography? Another reason to run away is that this job posting is for someone to do this person's schoolwork. Now, I don't know about your ethics, but this person crosses the line. I will write about drawing boundaries in freelancing, determining what you do and don't do as a freelance writer, in a later post.

Is there anything that I missed, or anything that you'd like to ad about navigating want ads and determining if it's worth a shot? Then, please, comment below!