Category: Freelance Writing

Freelance Writing

What to Do When Someone Steals Your Online Content: Dealing with Copyright Infringement

Share Button

If you write online content, someone is going to steal it sooner or later…

There are a lot of dishonest people on the Internet who want to make money from a website without putting in the work to create original articles themselves — they are called, “content scrapers.” Someone might reproduce a few of your paragraphs without citation or even scrape one of your articles in its entirety without your permission. This has happened to me more times than I can count. It’s a real problem in the freelance and blogging world.

I hate when my content gets stolen, especially when parts are reworded poorly and my name is left as the author. When your content gets scraped, it can be damaging to your online reputation. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to try and get the offending articles taken down.

1. Write an Email to the Website Owner Explaining the Situation

The first thing you should try is to politely ask the website owner to remove your scraped content. Simply explain that it is against the law and you don’t want either of you to suffer the consequences. Be careful not to be rude in your email because that’s a quick way to get ignored. Some people truly do not understand copyright law and they will remove your content if you ask nicely.

Carol Tice has a nice copyright infringement email template I like.

2. Send a Second Email to the Website Owner Threatening Legal Action

After you’ve sent the first email, wait a few days for a response. If the website owner is willing to take down your scraped content, great! If you get no response, you can try sending a second email that is a little more strongly worded than the first. Make sure you point out the specifics of copyright law for online content and threaten to take legal action against the website. Sometimes the threat is enough to scare the website owner into complying with your wishes. I also find it helpful to leave a comment on the scraped article requesting it be removed.

3. Report the Copyright Infringement to the Website’s Host

If you can’t find an email or contact information anywhere on the website, your next step is to contact the website’s host. You can (hopefully) find this by doing a WhoIs Lookup. Most hosting companies have policies against plagiarism and copyright infringement and can get the offending website taken down. They may even have an easy DMCA form you can fill out. Of course, the website you report typically has to get several reports before any action is taken.

4. Just Forget About It

If you’ve completed steps 1-3 without success, you should just forget about it. I hate telling people to give up, but sometimes it is the only way to save your sanity. It isn’t truly worth your time or money to hire a copyright lawyer over one article because you won’t recoup your costs.

Keep in mind that most websites that scrape content don’t get very much traffic and many go out of business quickly. This is because search engines are now smart enough to recognize these websites (duplicate content penalty) and take them out of the search results. So, the problem might solve itself if you wait it out.

Has your content ever been stolen? What did you do? Leave a comment below.

Share Button

How to Improve Your Skills When Writing Doesn’t Come Naturally

Share Button

This post was contributed by Alicia Rades of The Writing Realm.

Poetry always came easily to me. I recall writing my first poem when I was 8 years old, and when I reached my teen years, I became an avid and passionate lyricist. But story writing and blogging never came naturally to me until I started practicing like mad to become better. Now, blogging is my favorite form (and probably my personal best form) of writing. Take a look at how I improved my skills and what you can do when writing doesn’t come naturally.

Dedicate Yourself to the Craft

If you don’t want to become a better writer, it’s likely never going to happen. You’ve probably heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule, but if you haven’t, it’s the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to truly master a craft. If you’re doing it full-time, it would take you about 5 years to master the craft of writing, but if you’re not dedicated to actively improving, you’re not going to put that kind of effort into it. So, if you really want to become a better writer, make sure you’re prepared to put in the time.

Take a Training Course

Don’t get me wrong, practice is great, but you aren’t going to get everything you need from practicing without learning what to practice. About a year ago I completed a training course in writing shareable content. At the time, I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know about blog writing, and to be honest, I was scared because I wasn’t very good at it and didn’t know if I would get better. But after I completed the training, my eyes opened up to all these techniques I wasn’t using and tips I should be using. I started practicing, and my skills skyrocketed.

If you’re anything like I was, you’re terrified to take this step, perhaps because you don’t have full confidence in yourself. But believe me, it’s worth it. I’m not going to tell you what course to take since it all depends on the type of writing you want to do and where your skills are lacking, but there are countless bloggers, authors, and businesses online offering training courses. You could even enroll in a local course at a nearby college.

Learn From the Experts

Once you’re done with your training course, you’re still not done learning (and you probably won’t ever be). Take advice from experts who know what they’re doing, have been there, and will help you succeed. I’m not talking about me, either. I’m talking about getting free advice from people at the top of the industry like Joanna Penn, Joe Bunting, K.M. Weiland, and Sophie Lizard.There’s no reason not to learn from these people and read their posts when they have such great advice for free.

Practice Your Writing

Now it’s time to get your 10,000 hours of practice in. Don’t let the 10,000-hour rule get you down. It doesn’t take that long to get good at writing, only to master the craft. If you’re looking to improve your writing, simply practice when you can, and try incorporating these tips into your practice:

  1. Practice often, if only for a few minutes every day.
  2. Don’t worry about the quality of your content at first as long as you’re learning something.
  3. Use feedback in your practicing, whether you ask friends for feedback, post your content online, or evaluate your own writing.
  4. Continue learning from others.
  5. Don’t quit practicing just because you don’t think you’re “good” at it. It will come slowly, but it will come.

Now I want to know what you’re good at and how you were able to improve your skills in that area. Let me know in the comments section.

Share Button

8 Signs Freelancing Isn’t For You

Share Button

Have you ever dreamed about working from home in your pajamas? Lots of people argue that anyone can do it. To some degree this is true, if you have enough drive and ambition. However, just because you can be a freelancer, doesn’t mean you should. Take a look at these eight signs that freelancing isn’t for you.

1. You Don’t Want to Be On Call 24/7

Many freelancers have a hard time separating work life from personal life because it all takes place in the same space. This can make it seem like you are on call 24/7. And, a lot of the time, you truly are because of your client’s needs. Flexibility can be a curse because it may mean you have to work at all hours of the day.

One time, I worked for a client that had a project manager in India. India is on basically the opposite time schedule as me, so I had to adjust my lifestyle a bit to ensure I returned emails in a timely manner. This meant sleeping with my cellphone close to me so I would wake up whenever I heard an email come in. This was a less than ideal situation, but it’s something you have to be prepared to deal with as a freelancer. Clients expect you to work on their time, which puts you constantly on call.

Even vacations can be affected by the freelance life. A client from the past may email you with new work and you’ll need to respond. Clients wouldn’t be happy if they had to wait a week or more before getting a response. By that point, they probably would have found someone else to do the job.

2. Your Attention Span Is Short and You Can’t Get Organized

You have no supervision as a freelancer. This means you have to hold yourself accountable for the work you do. To be successful, you have to manage your time wisely to stay on target to meet your deadlines. If you’re someone with a really short attention span, this can be a difficult adjustment as you enter the freelancing world.

Additionally, having young children at home can be a major distraction. People think that working at home is the ideal situation because you don’t have to hire daycare, but it actually requires a high level of organization and patience. You have to prioritize your work and juggle lots of other things at the same time without losing focus on your deadlines and goals.

My attention span is less than stellar, but I’ve been working on making it better. I know that when I am really focused, I make more money, which is a huge motivator for me. Having a short attention span will hurt your freelancing career, but it is something you can work on improving. The biggest thing you need to do is minimize your distractions and find self motivators that will keep you on task.

3. You Aren’t an Expert at Anything

The most successful freelancers choose a niche and become an expert. If you’re not willing to do this, freelancing will be hard for you. Sure, there are always content mills that will hire you to write about anything, but landing higher paying gigs requires knowledge, experience, and authority in niche subjects. Clients will deem you an expert if they see a portfolio of articles with similar topics. You can also get a degree in a field where you want to be an expert.

I’ve been a freelance writer since before I got my English degree back in 2008. I enjoy writing about the craft of writing and I’m working on further building my credibility in the subject. Nobody becomes an expert overnight! You have to continually expand your knowledge and stay up to date on trends. Anyone can do this.

I’m also working on building my expertise in technology, small business, freelancing, and marketing. You don’t have to pick just one area of expertise, especially since your interests will change over time. For instance, when I first started out as a freelance writer, I contributed a lot of articles on sewing and crafts since those are some of my hobbies.

4. You Haven’t Built Enough Confidence Yet

Successful freelancers are not afraid to promote their work on social media or anywhere else. You have to gain exposure as a freelancer to get more work and build demand for your services. If you’re afraid of having your name attached to something, freelancing is not a good choice for you. You need to overcome the feelings of self doubt and be willing to show your work to the world. If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will believe in you, either.

Confidence comes after you have become an expert in something. This is because you’ll stop second guessing your information and be willing to stand behind your words. Additionally, the more practice you get, the more confidence you will have because your skills will improve.

At first, I had a hard time putting my bio on articles, especially if I expressed any sort of opinion, because I didn’t want others to judge me or argue my points. At this point, I’ve stopped caring — there will always be people with differing opinions. Plus, my own opinion adapts over time. That being said, I do care about the quality of my work and all freelancers need to be concerned with this, too, because it affects how many clients you get in the future.

5. Dealing with Clients Scares You

As a freelancer, you are your own boss. This means you have no one to go to if you’re having a hard time with one of your clients. If the thought of having complete control over client relationships scares you, you might want to rethink being a freelancer.

Some clients are a breeze to work with and others are very picky with high demands. A lot of the time it is hard to figure out what clients really want. One of my least favorite things about freelancing is feeling the stress of starting a new job every time I get a new client. It is hard, but you won’t have to worry about it as much later in your career when you have a larger client base.

Of course there’s more to dealing with clients than figuring out what they want. You have to maintain the relationship after you finish a project. This means you have to spend extra time reaching out to your clients through friendly emails and newsletters. And the kicker is that you have to do all of this without pay.

6. You Don’t Know How to Negotiate Your Pay

Another difficult thing about being a freelancer is that you have to negotiate your pay. Some people have no problem with this, but it can create an awkward situation. Just make sure that you charge what you are worth and build in time for emails and calls. Remember, if you’re willing to work for minimal pay, that’s all you’ll get.

Also, keep in mind that freelancers do not get insurance benefits like traditional employees. This means asking for a higher hourly rate is acceptable. Getting paid by the project instead of by the word is another great way to increase your pay rate, as long as you work efficiently.

As a side note to negotiating your pay, too many freelancers fall victim to content mill rates. This is because content mill work is the easiest to get as a freelancer. However, working for five cents a word won’t get you anywhere fast. It probably won’t even pay the bills. Some people use content mills as a way to fill in the gaps between better paying clients, but you’re better off spending your time looking for new clients. I really wish more people would think this way so that content mills would go out of business.

7. Money Management Isn’t One of Your Strengths

Being a freelancer means that you run your own business. This requires strong money management skills because you won’t have a steady paycheck. As a matter of fact, your paychecks can be drastically different from one month to the next. I once had a month where I made $4,000 and then the very next month I only made $500. If you want consistency, freelancing is not for you.

Too many people leave their full-time job for the freelance life before considering everything involved. Freelancing does not work for everyone and not everyone can make enough money doing it. It’s best to start out on a part-time basis to determine if it’s right for you before jumping completely in. Also, make sure your savings is built up before you start to help you through the first few rocky months.

8.  Being Alone Bothers You

For the most part, freelancing is solitary work. Sure, there is the occasional phone call or face-to-face meeting with clients, but you don’t truly have coworkers or anyone you can talk to about work on a daily basis. Some people thrive in this type of environment while others go crazy. If you can’t stand to be by yourself all the time, freelancing isn’t for you.

For me, I go through bouts of loneliness, but this is only when I’ve been isolated from friends and family for a while. As long as I can get out and have fun with people on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, working at home doesn’t bother me. I actually didn’t experience any loneliness until I had been freelancing for about a year. Of course, I had some stressful things happening in my life at that time that also could have contributed to it.

If you’re worried about loneliness, you should avoid freelancing or be sure you know how to cope with it. There are ways to get around it. For instance, you can go to a public place to work, such as a library, café, or park. You can also make friends with other freelancers in your community or online and stay connected.

Freelancing is the ultimate job for flexibility, but it is not easy, especially at the beginning when you’re building your client base. You need confidence, determination, talent, and professionalism to thrive in the freelance world. You can make it happen if you really want to, especially if you’re able to overcome the problems with freelancing mentioned in this article.

If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my website. There’s a quick email opt-in at the top right of this webpage.

Share Button

Do You Have What It Takes to Be Successful as a Freelance Writer?

Share Button

Lots of people want to make freelance writing a career, but few are actually able to make it happen. This is because it takes a special kind of person with the right drive and motivation. Simply knowing how to write is not enough — you must be willing to market yourself. If you’re interested in pursuing freelance writing as a career, let us help you determine whether it is a good choice for you or not.

Your Writing and Editing Skills Need to Be Top Notch

Firstly, you need to know how to write and be good at it. I worked several years as an editor for a content mill, and I often came across writers who shouldn’t really be writers. What I mean is that their writing and editing skills were not anywhere near a professional level. To truly be successful as a freelance writer, you need impeccable skills. This takes both practice and education. You don’t have to have a degree in English, but you do have to be a good writer. So, don’t jump into the freelance writing life before you are confident that you can write coherent sentences that flow from one paragraph to the next.

Editors shouldn’t have to spend hours rewriting sentences and adding flow to your content pieces. That’s a major problem with content mills — they will let anyone be a writer. This gives many people false hope that they can make freelance writing a career. I started to notice that the better writers didn’t stay with the content mills long. This is because good writers move on to higher paying gigs. If you can break free from content mills, you can make freelance writing a career instead of a hobby. Now, I don’t want to entirely bash content mills. They are a good place for new writers to test the waters in terms of their skills and interest in freelance writing.

You Can’t Be Afraid to Market Yourself to Clients

Once you have the writing and editing skills down, you need to put yourself out there. You can’t be afraid to market your writing abilities to potential clients. For the most part, clients won’t just fall into your lap. Many people who hope to become freelance writers have unrealistic expectations about the work load. They think they will spend most of their time writing, when in fact a good portion of their time will actually have to go towards marketing their skills and expertise.

In the beginning of your freelance writing career, you’ll probably spend more than half of your time marketing yourself. This includes things such as sending query letters, sharing your portfolio, and networking with professionals in your industry. Once you’ve established a client base, you won’t have to spend as much time on marketing. However, you’ll always have to dedicate time to maintaining client relationships so that the work continues to pour in. Writing isn’t simply about expressing your opinions; you have to make your clients happy.

A lot of people lack the courage to market their writing skills. This could be for any number of reasons, such as being afraid of rejection or making excuses for a small portfolio. To be successful as a freelance writer, you must be willing to take chances and out your writing skills in front of potential clients.

You Need to Have Self Motivation

Once you start getting a chunk of work, you need to find the self motivation to get it done in a timely manner. I’m not talking about overcoming procrastination; I’m talking about finding the balance between pay and effort. For instance, if you’re being paid $100 to write an article for an online publication, but you spend 10 hours or more writing, you wouldn’t have a very good hourly rate. Freelance writers have to be good at monitoring their time. Of course, you don’t want the quality of your work to suffer, either. This means you should never take a freelance writing gig that does not pay you what you’re worth because you will lose the motivation to get it done.

I’ve never met a freelance writer that didn’t have a problem with procrastination to some extent. As an editor, I rarely saw articles come in more than a day before their deadline, even if they were assigned two to three weeks in advance. Personally, I find deadlines a great source of self motivation. I can see the amount of time I have to complete the assignment and this keeps me motivated and on task. When I’m working on something that isn’t due for a while, I have more of a tendency to check emails, visit Facebook, and do other things online that waste time that I could have spent writing.

People who procrastinate can still be good writers. If you are a habitual procrastination, just make sure that you leave enough time to finish your projects before the deadline. You won’t make it in the freelance writing world very long if you miss deadlines. You can probably get away with it a few times, but clients will notice and you’ll lose work. Self motivation is about being able to overcome procrastination when it is needed.

Are you self motivated, willing to market yourself, and confident in your writing and editing skills? These are the three most important traits to being successful as a freelance writer. What other traits do you think would be helpful to a freelance writer? Leave a comment below.

Share Button

How Pregnancy Affected My Freelance Career (The First Trimester)

Share Button

My husband and I were thrilled to find out we were pregnant because it was so hard to get to that point. However, I wasn’t prepared for the toll pregnancy would have on my freelance career. I’m not complaining; I just figured I’d share my experience to help others prepare. Everyone’s pregnancy is different, but that doesn’t mean you won’t experience similar things.

I Had a Major Lack of Energy

First of all, I knew I’d be tired because that’s what all of my friends told me. What they didn’t tell me is that I’d be tired to the point of needing a nap every day in the afternoon. As a freelancer working from home, I knew I could get away with a little snooze, but it did affect my productivity. This sometimes meant I’d have to work longer during the day to cover the time I missed while napping. Of course, this flexibility is one of my favorite things about being a freelancer.

Additionally, I am a very deadline-driven person, which means I tend to procrastinate until my deadline is in sight. This is really bad, but if I have a 6 a.m. deadline, I sometimes wake up at 3 or 4 a.m. to get it done. When I’m done, I just go back to bed and sleep for a few more hours. The first time I tried this as a pregnant woman was a nightmare. I had a really hard time dragging myself out of bed and then keeping my eyes open to work. Because of my pregnancy, I had to force myself to overcome my bad procrastination habits, at least to some degree. (You know you’re guilty, too…)

I Was Stressed from Pregnancy Complications

On top of my constant need for sleep, I lost valuable working time because of frequent dr. appointments. For a couple of weeks near the beginning of my pregnancy, I had to spend an hour every couple of days to go get my blood drawn. Also, my doctor had me coming in for weekly ultrasounds. There are so many things that can go wrong with a pregnancy, and they all add stress to your life. This doesn’t mean you’ll have pregnancy complications, but you should be prepared to miss some work in case you do. Plus, you might not be as productive when you do work because of the added stress on your life.

Also, my pregnancy complications led me to be on bed rest for a couple of weeks. This isn’t unbearable when you work from home, but it is still an inconvenience. I would just sit or lay on the couch with my laptop nearby. I usually move about from room to room during the day, but staying in one place wasn’t a very hard adjustment.

I was only mildly sick during my first trimester, so that didn’t really affect my freelance career. Although, I hear it can be a major inconvenience for some women (75 percent of pregnant women get morning sickness). Luckily for me, I could end my queasiness pretty quickly by eating a cracker or two.

I definitely lost some productivity after getting pregnant, but I was still able to make freelancing work for me. How have your pregnancies affected your freelance career? Leave a comment below.

Share Button

Subscribe to Life of a WAHM

  • Receive Notifications of New Posts
  • Get Special Offers via Email
  • Be the First to Learn of New Products

Enter Your Information Below