Starting a career as a writer...

41 replies
Hello, I'm Johnny (hence the username). Writing has always been a talent of mine, but despite discovering that at 15, over a decade later I've yet to put it to real use. I'm sick of that, and have seriously been considering pursuing some sort of career in it as of late.

Now, there are two things to be said here. The first is that my subject, "writing," is intentionally vague. Despite my talent, I haven't exactly done much writing, and readily available work even less (making a portfolio difficult to assemble). But more to the point, I'm not even sure what sort of writing I would like to branch out into.

My only writing job was working with Hydrocarbon Publishing, a small company based in PA that publishes a weekly digest about the petroleum and petrochemical industry. My job was to write up articles summarizing one or more news articles pulled from the AP feed and various magazines. Other jobs have not been writing-related and held few skills that I could apply to a career with my writing skill, aside from interpersonal skills (that I can and do learn everywhere else, anyways).

I know that there are plenty of types of writers (content writers, copywriters, ghostwriters, and probably several more I didn't think of there), but I'm not sure which I would want to be (if/when I would specialize), and am definitely not ready to specialize. Which brings me to the second thing I have to say: how do you do it?


I'm not asking for help with finding resources or jobs, necessarily (though pointing out particular good places to find such resources is always appreciated), but rather am asking for clarity. I've been doing a lot of searching on these sorts of topics, not only on this forum for the past few hours, but also my college website's list of links, and Google itself.

My biggest problem has been a lack of mentors and guides to help me along my own path. Professors would just sort of say "well, google it and see what you can find." I could never articulate to a career & co-op center exactly what I needed from them. I was left on my own with nothing but the thousands upon thousands of pages of "information" out there, on anything and everything, ranging from million dollar pieces of advice to utter bullcrap.

So what I need more than anything is some guidance. People to parse the thousands of pages of advice that are out there, not only on this site, but the internet at large, and summarize it into the most important points that will help me get started. How you got your start, and where. Basic considerations I'll need to make besides "tell people you'll write words for money" and then doing that.

Tips on specific websites, forums, etc. that I could advertise myself on, or other activities intended to generate some sort of interest in my talents and services are also welcome, but this would probably be a matter of linking me to other threads on this site (and please do, if you know of one that addresses my issues well). I've found elance.com and odesk.com on my own, but are they good sites to get started with?

All in all, I'm reasonably confident in my writing skill, and am more than willing to spend the time and energy needed to excel in my work... so long as I actually do see a reasonable return on that investment. I've tried to break into writing and designing indie games before, but every project would fall apart despite my best efforts, and I gained almost nothing from it. Hopefully, things would go better if I'm the only one I truly have to rely on.

Thanks in advance for any assistance you can offer me. Be as brief or in-depth as you'd like, though I have a feeling a brief reply with some accompanying links is probably what I'm looking for.

~Johnny
#career #starting #writer
  • Profile picture of the author Craig Paulson
    I can recommend 2 excellent resources. The first is Michael Masterson's "Accelerated Program for 6 Figure Copywriting". The second is "Start and Run a Copywriting Business" by Steve Slaunwhite. It will take a little while to get some momentum in business (lots of copywriters out there), but those are the only 2 guides I ever used.
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  • Profile picture of the author Will Edwards
    You could try constant-content.com (no affiliation).

    You can submit content on a wide variety of subjects and get paid when people decide to use your content. In addition, when consumers of content (bloggers etc) get to know and like your work, you can attract commissions - could be a good way to get started.

    Good luck,

    Will
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  • Profile picture of the author tpw
    Successful writers must bring 4 prerequisites to the table:

    1. Ability to write well;
    2. Ability to tell a story people want to read;
    3. Willingness to complete the job;
    4. Commitment to meeting a deadline.


    Once you have met these prerequisites, you have to decide what you will want to get paid for the work that you do.

    Here is an interesting point about that though...

    Some people believe that you have got to start writing at low rates to prove that you are worthy of the higher rates afforded to others.

    Yet, 90% of your customers will drop you when you increase your rates!

    Every time you change your prices, you will almost universally have to start finding new customers who are willing to pay your new rates.

    So, instead of falling for the "start low and then raise your prices" myth, you might as well decide what you think you are worth to a customer, and then charge that rate from the outset.

    It is true that if you charge lower prices, you will tend to get more writing work. However, those folks who pay the smallest amounts to have content written on their behalf tend to also be the people who create the largest volume of customer support issues.

    When you are working at the lowest end of the market, you will have to do more writing to make your living, and worse, you will have to hold the hands of your high-maintenance customers.

    When you rise above the lowest end of the market -- provided you have the talent to write at that level -- job satisfaction and pay level go up, plus writing volume and customer support requests go down.

    Writers at the low end of the marketplace tend to charge less than a penny a word -- I have seen many offers at half a cent per word.

    I have found the best skilled writers might charge as low as 3 cents a word, but not less.

    When I sold my writing skills, I charged between 7.5 cents per word to 50 cents per word.

    I know other writers who are charging a minimum of one dollar a word.

    The highest rate I have ever seen charged was $5 per word, but only from high-level sales copy writers.

    When it comes to what you charge, that should be predicated on how confident you are in charging what you charge, your ability to find clients in that price range, your ability to earn the confidence of your customers, and your ability to deliver a solid product.


    When it comes to where to sell, there are lots of options.

    Keep in mind that if you have to chase jobs, then it becomes a "buyer's market", where the buyer gets to set your rates.

    However, if you can turn the tables and get people to come to you, then in shifting to a "seller's market", you will get to set your own prices.


    There are SEO firms like TextLinkBrokers.com that hires writers online. You must go to their website and apply to become a writer, then prove yourself with some samples. If they choose to send work your way, you will find yourself working for whatever rates they dictate that you will be paid.

    You could sell on a site like Fiverr.com, but I would not recommend that, unless you are willing to set up a sales funnel that will enable you to sell small jobs at $5 then squeeze extra dollars from the job in your sales funnel.

    There are places like eLance.com and Odesk.com where you can list your services, but you will find yourself bidding on a number of jobs in hopes that you will be hired for some of those jobs.

    In my signature, you will also be able to find a link for FreelanceWritersReview.com. It is structured a bit different from the above options, in that it will let you set your own rates, but a portion of your earnings will go to the website as a service fee for helping you find clients and process payments on your behalf.

    Another option is a classified advertising type site like Warriors For Hire here in the Warrior Forum. You can list your services there, then advertise your listing on other sites, in hopes that you can find more clients.

    Or, you could do as I had done for years... Set up your own website, your own payment systems, and your own advertising to bring potential clients to your writing offer. When I did it this way, I used article marketing and forum marketing to advertise my services.


    All-in-all, you have a few decisions to make before you begin working in this niche. But, if you can do everything that needs to be done well, you can make a very nice living working as a freelance writer.
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    • Profile picture of the author fatafat
      Some great advice on this forum, I have been writing small articles for a while and have noticed that as long as there is PASSION and BELIEF in your work...money flows...increase your desire and your results will increase as well...
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      • Profile picture of the author Kay King
        Despite my talent, I haven't exactly done much writing, and readily available work even less (making a portfolio difficult to assemble)
        That's a red flag for me. A writer...writes. Putting together a portfolio is a basic for a writer who wants to be paid for his work. You need samples in several voices, in differing styles to show skill and versatility. If you can't sit down and write some sample work for a portfolio for your own benefit - can you write on demand for others?

        You are focusing on a lot of details that you can decide on once you get started. But the basics of what you want to do is to know how to research - and be able to write on various topics.
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        • Profile picture of the author Steve B
          Johnny,

          Undertaking a new career generally means preparing oneself through study, training, and learning by immersing oneself for a period of time (often years) prior to expecting to own the skills necessary to be paid for your time and output.

          You said . . .
          "My biggest problem has been a lack of mentors and guides to help me along my own path."
          No.

          In my opinion, your biggest problem right now is that you haven't prepared yourself to be a writer yet. You do that by writing and learning from other skilled writers. You don't have a "path" just yet.
          "So what I need more than anything is some guidance."
          Here's some guidance for you. Don't expect your education to come from having members of a forum
          "parse the thousands of pages of advice that are out there, not only on this site, but the internet at large, and summarize it into the most important points that will help me get started"
          Education and learning for a career don't come so easily.

          Good luck to you,

          Steve
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        • Profile picture of the author JohnnyH4
          Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

          That's a red flag for me. A writer...writes. Putting together a portfolio is a basic for a writer who wants to be paid for his work. You need samples in several voices, in differing styles to show skill and versatility. If you can't sit down and write some sample work for a portfolio for your own benefit - can you write on demand for others?

          You are focusing on a lot of details that you can decide on once you get started. But the basics of what you want to do is to know how to research - and be able to write on various topics.
          Well honestly, part of my problem has been that I've never really had much idea of what to write about, or different styles, or even ideas on different distinct types of writing (I did mention I hadn't even really heard of copywriting until a week ago). Granted, that's on me, since I could've, but just never did.

          Are there any good resources on how to put together an effective portfolio? Do I just stuff it all in a zip file, or do I set up a web page that has links to the different things with an explanation of the work?

          Just to note though, I actually do work more effectively for others than when just writing for myself. That is one reason I'm seriously interested in trying to make something of myself as a writer. One big roadblock has been my own self-confidence, but that's something I'll deal with on my own. Not much other people could do to help with that.


          Originally Posted by Steve B View Post

          Johnny,
          Undertaking a new career generally means preparing oneself through study, training, and learning by immersing oneself for a period of time (often years) prior to expecting to own the skills necessary to be paid for your time and output.

          You said . . .
          "My biggest problem has been a lack of mentors and guides to help me along my own path."
          No.
          In my opinion, your biggest problem right now is that you haven't prepared yourself to be a writer yet. You do that by writing and learning from other skilled writers. You don't have a "path" just yet.
          "So what I need more than anything is some guidance."
          Here's some guidance for you. Don't expect your education to come from having members of a forum
          "parse the thousands of pages of advice that are out there, not only on this site, but the internet at large, and summarize it into the most important points that will help me get started"
          Education and learning for a career don't come so easily.
          Good luck to you,
          Steve
          Well, one of the reasons I came here was to further my knowledge of writing and all that it entails. I'm not expecting to find a mentor or teacher here that will sit down with me and tell me all that there is to be known, and I'm especially not expecting someone to tell me some "magic formula" for success in writing. What I want is a place I can ask specific questions and get feedback from people, which I might not have communicated as effectively as I would've liked.

          I've spent a lot of time googling things, with varying results (usually not that great). There's way too much advice for someone with no real foundation to sort through, but then I found this site. Even in just this one thread, the links people have provided have been a big help in beginning to understand how things work, and how I would go about building a career.

          In any case, I'm plenty willing to do the research and put the time in to building a potential career. While I don't necessarily have a "path" yet, that is what I am hoping to figure out, partially by talking to people here to get ideas. Some will be good advice, some won't be, and most won't be exactly applicable to my own (potential) career, but I'm hoping to work towards that.

          Perhaps I should've said that I hoped people help could help me parse all of the information, rather than saying I wanted others to do all of that work (which I don't).
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    • Profile picture of the author DeborahDera
      Look up Tiffany Lambert (formerly Tiffany Dow). She's here on the forum and has her own website. She has a lot of great tools for aspiring writers.
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    • Profile picture of the author John Coutts
      Originally Posted by tpw View Post

      Successful writers must bring 4 prerequisites to the table:

      1. Ability to write well;
      2. Ability to tell a story people want to read;
      3. Willingness to complete the job;
      4. Commitment to meeting a deadline.


      Once you have met these prerequisites, you have to decide what you will want to get paid for the work that you do.

      Here is an interesting point about that though...

      Some people believe that you have got to start writing at low rates to prove that you are worthy of the higher rates afforded to others.

      Yet, 90% of your customers will drop you when you increase your rates!

      Every time you change your prices, you will almost universally have to start finding new customers who are willing to pay your new rates.

      So, instead of falling for the "start low and then raise your prices" myth, you might as well decide what you think you are worth to a customer, and then charge that rate from the outset.

      It is true that if you charge lower prices, you will tend to get more writing work. However, those folks who pay the smallest amounts to have content written on their behalf tend to also be the people who create the largest volume of customer support issues.

      When you are working at the lowest end of the market, you will have to do more writing to make your living, and worse, you will have to hold the hands of your high-maintenance customers.

      When you rise above the lowest end of the market -- provided you have the talent to write at that level -- job satisfaction and pay level go up, plus writing volume and customer support requests go down.

      Writers at the low end of the marketplace tend to charge less than a penny a word -- I have seen many offers at half a cent per word.

      I have found the best skilled writers might charge as low as 3 cents a word, but not less.

      When I sold my writing skills, I charged between 7.5 cents per word to 50 cents per word.

      I know other writers who are charging a minimum of one dollar a word.

      The highest rate I have ever seen charged was $5 per word, but only from high-level sales copy writers.

      When it comes to what you charge, that should be predicated on how confident you are in charging what you charge, your ability to find clients in that price range, your ability to earn the confidence of your customers, and your ability to deliver a solid product.


      When it comes to where to sell, there are lots of options.

      Keep in mind that if you have to chase jobs, then it becomes a "buyer's market", where the buyer gets to set your rates.

      However, if you can turn the tables and get people to come to you, then in shifting to a "seller's market", you will get to set your own prices.


      There are SEO firms like TextLinkBrokers.com that hires writers online. You must go to their website and apply to become a writer, then prove yourself with some samples. If they choose to send work your way, you will find yourself working for whatever rates they dictate that you will be paid.

      You could sell on a site like Fiverr.com, but I would not recommend that, unless you are willing to set up a sales funnel that will enable you to sell small jobs at $5 then squeeze extra dollars from the job in your sales funnel.

      There are places like eLance.com and Odesk.com where you can list your services, but you will find yourself bidding on a number of jobs in hopes that you will be hired for some of those jobs.

      In my signature, you will also be able to find a link for FreelanceWritersReview.com. It is structured a bit different from the above options, in that it will let you set your own rates, but a portion of your earnings will go to the website as a service fee for helping you find clients and process payments on your behalf.

      Another option is a classified advertising type site like Warriors For Hire here in the Warrior Forum. You can list your services there, then advertise your listing on other sites, in hopes that you can find more clients.

      Or, you could do as I had done for years... Set up your own website, your own payment systems, and your own advertising to bring potential clients to your writing offer. When I did it this way, I used article marketing and forum marketing to advertise my services.


      All-in-all, you have a few decisions to make before you begin working in this niche. But, if you can do everything that needs to be done well, you can make a very nice living working as a freelance writer.
      JohnnyH4: People pay good money for this kind of advice, and here it is, free!

      Read it three times at least and act on what is being said. Some of it runs contrary to a lot of what you'll find being said on this forum, but it's the truth, nevertheless.

      John.
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  • Profile picture of the author spearce000
    “Writing” as such is a pretty broad church. You say you don't want to specialize, but most writers ARE specialist to some degree or another. Different types of writing require different skill sets. For example: Fiction writing requires creativity and imagination, whereas non-fiction writing requires adherence to the facts. Copywriting has its own set of skills and is (as a famous copywriter put it) “salesmanship in print”.


    You need to try out different types of writing, and see what you're best at. Try writing a short story, short report, web page etc. , and see what you're most comfortable doing (don't worry too much about the quality at this point), then seek out forums on the net where writers who specialize in that sort of thing hang out to get tips and encouragement.
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  • Profile picture of the author TimothyTorrents
    It is not as difficult as you might think. The key is to build a reputation. Once you have a reputation the clients will keep coming in. http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...ml#post8326157
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  • Profile picture of the author BobTheBostonian
    I haven't exactly done much writing

    A writer who doesn't write. Right.
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    • Profile picture of the author Ricky Allen
      Well my advice is create a guide or guides that show people how to do things.

      People basically want to know how to do things faster, easier or cheaper and if you can show people how to do this you will have a guide that sells.

      Hm, what can you write about then, Well for example you may not think it but I am sure you are an expert at something.

      Think what you know that will allow people to do something faster, easier or cheaper then and write down how they can do that.

      And if you want more advice or even want me to work with you to create that winning guide drop me an email to ricky.s.allenatbtinternet.com you know the drill I suppose just change the at to @ of course.

      Ricky Allen
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnnyH4
        First, thanks to everyone who took time to help explain things to me. I really appreciate the help.

        EDIT: Upon thinking about writing samples to display my prowess, I actually may have more options than I initially presented. Over the past several years, I've written several video game walkthroughs and guides in my spare time. While I don't necessarily think I would be able to find work doing that (or would want to do it for a living), wouldn't I be able to use my guides as a sample of my writing ability? I've put a lot of effort into writing, formatting, and perfecting them, so they should hopefully show off my talent. I just usually don't think much of the guides, since they've never felt like the kind of thing that could get me a job.

        Additionally, would it be worthwhile talking to my old boss at the tech writing job and seeing if I could obtain samples of my work? He never wanted people to keep copies of their articles, since his largest source of income is selling the digest, but now everything in the issues I worked on is over a year old. Hopefully he still has them in digital format.

        Would samples of those two types of writing (and actually, it would be all of my game walkthrough/guide material, since it's all condensed nicely on a single site) make for a good start at displaying my talents?

        EDIT 2: I also have a lot of the background fluff and other game design writing I've done for the several failed (due to forces beyond my control) game development projects I've worked on. It's mostly either manual text dumps from forum posts or other similar writing that is not fully refined. Would I want to include that sort of thing as samples of my work? If so, would it need to be processed to be a little more...final, as opposed to rough, or could it be labelled as such, and presented as proof of my creative talents?


        Now, for the responses to people that posted!

        Originally Posted by Craig Paulson View Post

        I can recommend 2 excellent resources. The first is Michael Masterson's "Accelerated Program for 6 Figure Copywriting". The second is "Start and Run a Copywriting Business" by Steve Slaunwhite. It will take a little while to get some momentum in business (lots of copywriters out there), but those are the only 2 guides I ever used.
        I'll look into those. Copywriting is something I know nothing about (didn't even know what it was until I started seeing it everywhere upon searching), but maybe it's a good path to head down for me. I'll check out those resources anyways, thanks!

        Originally Posted by tpw View Post

        Successful writers must bring 4 prerequisites to the table:

        1. Ability to write well;
        2. Ability to tell a story people want to read;
        3. Willingness to complete the job;
        4. Commitment to meeting a deadline.


        Once you have met these prerequisites, you have to decide what you will want to get paid for the work that you do.

        Here is an interesting point about that though...

        Some people believe that you have got to start writing at low rates to prove that you are worthy of the higher rates afforded to others.

        Yet, 90% of your customers will drop you when you increase your rates!

        Every time you change your prices, you will almost universally have to start finding new customers who are willing to pay your new rates.

        So, instead of falling for the "start low and then raise your prices" myth, you might as well decide what you think you are worth to a customer, and then charge that rate from the outset.
        This is something that had actually come to mind when I started thinking through how I would get started and then, once I had some samples and reputation, charge more for the higher level of quality work I could deliver. But since a lot of advice seems to revolve around establishing regular clients rather than constantly pursuing once-off gigs, I started wondering what would my clients do once I decided I was going to charge them more for what they were getting, even though the actual quality being delivered would only improve marginally (or at least slower than the price raise, most likely).

        I would worry about finding ANY clients if I charged a higher rate to start with, though, especially without much previous work or reputation behind me. So it's more a case of getting started, establishing myself to some degree, and then worrying about rates, I suppose, although I still wouldn't want to lose most of my clients when I switched to higher rates. A bit of a catch-22, but at least it could be subverted by luck to some extent.

        Originally Posted by spearce000 View Post

        "Writing" as such is a pretty broad church. You say you don't want to specialize, but most writers ARE specialist to some degree or another. Different types of writing require different skill sets. For example: Fiction writing requires creativity and imagination, whereas non-fiction writing requires adherence to the facts. Copywriting has its own set of skills and is (as a famous copywriter put it) "salesmanship in print".

        You need to try out different types of writing, and see what you're best at. Try writing a short story, short report, web page etc. , and see what you're most comfortable doing (don't worry too much about the quality at this point), then seek out forums on the net where writers who specialize in that sort of thing hang out to get tips and encouragement.
        Actually, I don't mind specializing at all, it's just that as it stands now, I haven't had much experience with a lot of types of writing. I'm hoping to change that, though. Part of the reason I'm here is to find out what types of writing are out there. I do have some preferences, though, such as fiction being one of the main types I've worked with. But I have a feeling that fiction is probably one of the more difficult types of writing to market. (and if there actually is a market for it, or specific resources for making a living with it, please direct me there!)

        In fact... maybe at least narrowing the field a bit is exactly what I need to do. I'm quite honestly feeling quite overwhelmed by all this, just the sheer possibilities, what is needed, etc. that it's a bit difficult to all take in right now (and one main reason I never pursued this before). I guess all people new to the whole process of trying to build a career with writing (of any kind) have to go through this period.

        Originally Posted by timbonitus View Post

        It is not as difficult as you might think. The key is to build a reputation. Once you have a reputation the clients will keep coming in. http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...ml#post8326157
        Is reputation really that powerful? And how would one "prove" their reputation, so to speak?

        Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

        Suits me: not being a wordy chick at all, I'm capable of only the briefest of replies.

        Here are your accompanying links ...
        Thanks for the links! I'll check them out and post again if I have any further questions on those topics.

        Originally Posted by Ricky Allen View Post

        Well my advice is create a guide or guides that show people how to do things.

        People basically want to know how to do things faster, easier or cheaper and if you can show people how to do this you will have a guide that sells.

        Hm, what can you write about then, Well for example you may not think it but I am sure you are an expert at something.

        Think what you know that will allow people to do something faster, easier or cheaper then and write down how they can do that.

        And if you want more advice or even want me to work with you to create that winning guide drop me an email to ricky.s.allenatbtinternet.com you know the drill I suppose just change the at to @ of course.

        Ricky Allen
        Hm, not sure what I'm an "expert" at, at least to the extent of writing and selling a guide to. Except video game walkthroughs, and I wouldn't be too keen on selling those. But those I write in my own free time, and don't want to sell, so they're separate from any business I'd do. I'll certainly think about it though, and thank you for the offer. I'll keep it in mind.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
    Banned
    Originally Posted by JohnnyH4 View Post

    I have a feeling a brief reply with some accompanying links is probably what I'm looking for.
    Suits me: not being a wordy chick at all, I'm capable of only the briefest of replies.

    Here are your accompanying links ...

    What's The Deal With WF Writers?
    Writing Articles - I'm Done
    How much can you make writing articles?
    How do I make money writing articles???
    Would you still do freelance writing?
    Can anyone suggest good pay, high quality writing jobs?
    Content Writing - Still Viable?
    Are There Many Clients Who Pay $50/Article?
    The appropriate rate for written content is ?
    You must be a superstar professional writer BUT I can only pay you $2 per article - say WHAT?
    Any point in trying to find clients on Warrior Forum..?
    Is it hard to make 30K a year from writing?

    These resources may also be useful (but maybe only after you've decided in which markets you want to compete for work) ...

    Jennifer Mattern's blog
    Carol Tice's blog
    Freelance writing jobs (minmum payment requirement of $50 per article to be listed there)
    Free report on how to attract new freelance writing clients during a recession
    The Renegade Writer Blog
    The "Irreverent Freelancer" blog
    The Well-Fed Writer: Lucrative Commercial Freelance Writing - Land Lucrative Freelance Writing Jobs
    Words on the Page.
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  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    You've got some good advice from some of the top writers on this forum. I'm going to add something else: brevity. Get to the point sooner. I'm not slamming you, you've got talent but you go on an on and on. People want the meat right away. Give it to them.

    I've got a much younger half brother who's actually published an article in Time magazine but is having trouble getting consistent work. Guess why. Toooooo much unnecessary stuff. It's a major sign of insecurity. Subconsciously he thinks more is better. It's usually not.

    I'd suggest you write the way you write. Then go though it and trim it down some. If you do this consistently you'll begin to develop the habit of directness during the first draft. I used to do what you're doing. I still do from time to time. And so I don't end up doing it here I'll say this: Good luck.
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnnyH4
      Originally Posted by travlinguy View Post

      You've got some good advice from some of the top writers on this forum. I'm going to add something else: brevity. Get to the point sooner. I'm not slamming you, you've got talent but you go on an on and on. People want the meat right away. Give it to them.

      I've got a much younger half brother who's actually published an article in Time magazine but is having trouble getting consistent work. Guess why. Toooooo much unnecessary stuff. It's a major sign of insecurity. Subconsciously he thinks more is better. It's usually not.

      I'd suggest you write the way you write. Then go though it and trim it down some. If you do this consistently you'll begin to develop the habit of directness during the first draft. I used to do what you're doing. I still do from time to time. And so I don't end up doing it here I'll say this: Good luck.
      Yeah, I tend to be a rather verbose guy. I've worked on trimming it down in actual writing, though, and my job at Hydrocarbon helped me learn how to do that more effectively. I tend not to when I'm posting on forums or something, leading to things like this topic. Guess it's good to keep it in mind when dealing with clients, though, so I communicate just like I write. Thanks for the advice.

      Originally Posted by katherineolga View Post

      You already have the skill, I can tell from your post. So, whatever you decide to do you can completely handle it. I wouldn't worry about building your writing skills at all - you are more than competent.
      (and the rest)
      Thanks for the advice and encouragement! That "to do" list is definitely a helpful tool to get an idea of what I need to do to get started. I definitely know one of my problems is being blinded and paralyzed by the "big picture," and not being able to see the trees for the forest, so to speak. It has made a lot of things needlessly difficult for me, but I'm trying my best to make sure it won't obstruct me any longer.


      A couple of other questions that have come to mind, though.

      First, there are two types of writing I have immediately available as samples: video game walkthroughs/guides that I've written over the years in my free time, and a lot of background fluff and other game design material for the various (failed, unfortunately) game projects I've worked on. How would I go about organizing this into my portfolio as samples of my writing? Should I do it at all? I'm not sure how relevant it would be to the types of writing I may be working with, but all the same, it does show I can write.
      (I asked this earlier, but it might've been overshadowed by the massive post that followed)

      And second, if I do start building a career out of this, how does it work in terms of being my main source of income (or even only, eventually)? Would I need to start a business for myself to conduct my work through, or would it be enough to just declare my earnings on income taxes? I know this isn't something to concern myself with right now, beyond keeping track of how much I earn, but I'd like to have some idea of what other people do in this regard.
      (I live in the US, just to make sure that's clear)
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      • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
        Banned
        Originally Posted by JohnnyH4 View Post

        there are two types of writing I have immediately available as samples: video game walkthroughs/guides that I've written over the years in my free time, and a lot of background fluff and other game design material for the various (failed, unfortunately) game projects I've worked on. How would I go about organizing this into my portfolio as samples of my writing? Should I do it at all?
        I think not. It sounds like it probably won't be relevant to what the people reading your "samples" are interested in/looking for? So probably not helpful. It may even put some people off. If you're trying to attract article-writing customers, you need a few articles on different subjects. (You can write them without needing to have a client for them!).

        Originally Posted by JohnnyH4 View Post

        if I do start building a career out of this, how does it work in terms of being my main source of income (or even only, eventually)? Would I need to start a business for myself to conduct my work through, or would it be enough to just declare my earnings on income taxes?
        This is a question that only a local accountant can answer for you. It varies from country to country. In the US, it varies from state to state, and some questions (such as whether you need a business licence and what kind) can even vary from city to city. This is exactly the kind of question for which it's a mistake to rely on well-intentioned forum "information" which can turn out to be mistaken.
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        • Profile picture of the author katherineolga
          Johnny14 it was my pleasure to offer that list.

          I am a big picture thinker as well and I identified that you were too and this is something that has also held me back. You are extremely articulate and will do well once you sort everything out.

          So, for a portfolio, you can do several things.

          The first is to convert each thing into a pdf and upload the files into the profile thing on several (or at least one) of the outsource sites. I have my stuff up on freelancer.com. I don't even bid there but I direct clients there from my website using a page redirect.

          The second way is to start a website or blog. You can use a free platform like blogger or weebly or get the domain and hosting and use wordpress or something like that. It's up to you how to organize it. I would do this even if you create your portfolio on an outsourcing site - you can just direct people to your portfolio.

          The tax stuff: Alexa is right, this is a question for your accountant.

          I would also seriously consider doing the article thing that I talked about using Yahoo Voices or Hubpages. Write 1-2 articles of 500 words or so per niche you would like to write in.
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        • Profile picture of the author JohnnyH4
          A bit too late for me tonight to do the usual "quote and reply" thing, so I'll keep this brief with a comment and a question.

          I actually do have my own website. It's just a small forum I set up to discuss games with my friends on, so it's not for making money (I don't even have ads on it). But it means that I have the, well, means to set up a webpage to promote myself, as well as a place to host my portfolio. I also know my way around a (very) small amount of HTML. Putting together a page for myself would be difficult, I think, but not impossible. I'd need to pick up a new domain name to use for the page, though.

          Now, my question is this (and it may be silly): what exactly is a "niche?" I know what the word means, and the concept behind it. But how narrowly-defined is a niche? Are we talking something like sports, automobiles, travel? Or is it more specific, like Miami Dolphins, Toyota Camry, Northern Germany? Just curious, since I see the word used a lot here, but never with examples.


          EDIT: I do appreciate the replies, though. So thank you to all who replied but I didn't respond directly to.
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          • Profile picture of the author tpw
            Originally Posted by JohnnyH4 View Post

            Now, my question is this (and it may be silly): what exactly is a "niche?" I know what the word means, and the concept behind it. But how narrowly-defined is a niche? Are we talking something like sports, automobiles, travel? Or is it more specific, like Miami Dolphins, Toyota Camry, Northern Germany? Just curious, since I see the word used a lot here, but never with examples.


            EDIT: I do appreciate the replies, though. So thank you to all who replied but I didn't respond directly to.


            There are niches like online business, offline business, health and wellness, sports, and financial.

            There are also sub-niches like article marketing, mobile marketing, cancer, football and investing.

            And, most sub-niches can be drilled even deeper.

            My primary niche is writing.

            My sub-niches include freelance writing, article marketing and book publishing.

            And, my target audience for each of my sub-niches are those writers who want to increase the incomes they earn via their personal writing projects.
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          • Profile picture of the author DTGeorge
            Originally Posted by JohnnyH4 View Post

            A bit too late for me tonight to do the usual "quote and reply" thing, so I'll keep this brief with a comment and a question.

            I actually do have my own website. It's just a small forum I set up to discuss games with my friends on, so it's not for making money (I don't even have ads on it). But it means that I have the, well, means to set up a webpage to promote myself, as well as a place to host my portfolio. I also know my way around a (very) small amount of HTML. Putting together a page for myself would be difficult, I think, but not impossible. I'd need to pick up a new domain name to use for the page, though.

            Now, my question is this (and it may be silly): what exactly is a "niche?" I know what the word means, and the concept behind it. But how narrowly-defined is a niche? Are we talking something like sports, automobiles, travel? Or is it more specific, like Miami Dolphins, Toyota Camry, Northern Germany? Just curious, since I see the word used a lot here, but never with examples.


            EDIT: I do appreciate the replies, though. So thank you to all who replied but I didn't respond directly to.
            It sounds like what you need is a tutorial in freelance writing.

            Rather than get the information of how to start freelance writing piecemeal, go straight to the source.

            Here are three awesome sites I follow that go into great detail the process of starting and running a successful freelance writing career

            1. Leaving Work Behind by Tom Ewer
            2. Make a Living Writing by Carol Tice
            3. The Renegade Writer by Linda Formichelli

            These three resources will answer all the questions you have and more.

            Good Luck Johhny
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      • Profile picture of the author LilBlackDress
        Originally Posted by JohnnyH4 View Post

        Yeah, I tend to be a rather verbose guy. I've worked on trimming it down in actual writing, though, and my job at Hydrocarbon helped me learn how to do that more effectively. I tend not to when I'm posting on forums or something, leading to things like this topic. Guess it's good to keep it in mind when dealing with clients, though, so I communicate just like I write. Thanks for the advice.



        Thanks for the advice and encouragement! That "to do" list is definitely a helpful tool to get an idea of what I need to do to get started. I definitely know one of my problems is being blinded and paralyzed by the "big picture," and not being able to see the trees for the forest, so to speak. It has made a lot of things needlessly difficult for me, but I'm trying my best to make sure it won't obstruct me any longer.


        A couple of other questions that have come to mind, though.

        First, there are two types of writing I have immediately available as samples: video game walkthroughs/guides that I've written over the years in my free time, and a lot of background fluff and other game design material for the various (failed, unfortunately) game projects I've worked on. How would I go about organizing this into my portfolio as samples of my writing? Should I do it at all? I'm not sure how relevant it would be to the types of writing I may be working with, but all the same, it does show I can write.
        (I asked this earlier, but it might've been overshadowed by the massive post that followed)

        And second, if I do start building a career out of this, how does it work in terms of being my main source of income (or even only, eventually)? Would I need to start a business for myself to conduct my work through, or would it be enough to just declare my earnings on income taxes? I know this isn't something to concern myself with right now, beyond keeping track of how much I earn, but I'd like to have some idea of what other people do in this regard.
        (I live in the US, just to make sure that's clear)
        I wrote an eBook on Freelance writing which answers many of your questions in depth but to give you a short answer here.

        Yes you should have a portfolio and there are free sites you can put samples on or you can start a website. It is of course best to have your own website but there are free options out there.

        Yes you need to track your income and expenses. How you pay your taxes will depend on how you are classified i.e. working for yourself or if you start writing for someone else as an employee. It sounds like you want to work for yourself in which case you would have to keep records of your 1099's, report your earnings, and pay taxes on them. Frankly, I don't pay an accountant...that would eat up my earnings. I make sure to keep excellent records and I pay taxes on my earnings and take the deductions I am allowed.

        As for how much to charge - try working backwards from what you need to make - stay competitive and add a cushion. Always factor in your expenses and consulting time.
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  • Profile picture of the author katherineolga
    You already have the skill, I can tell from your post. So, whatever you decide to do you can completely handle it. I wouldn't worry about building your writing skills at all - you are more than competent.

    Try to resist the urge to research for too long. I started my writing career back in 2002 - in 2001 I started researching what it entailed. That was a huge mistake - the minute I jumped in and got started is when I started making progress.

    Since you don't know what you want to do, I would start by brainstorming a list of all the topics you like to write about (or industries, etc). And then, I would make a list of all the types of writing you think you'd enjoy. Keep it close.

    It seems to me that you want to start working with clients. Start things out by setting up your profiles on all the freelance bid sites you can think of. www.odesk.com and www.elance.com are two of the best. Jump in and start bidding. I'd post 5-10 bids a day on each of these sites until you get your first nibbles. Then use your judgement as to which site you'll stick with and how often you'll bid after that. There's an art to bidding but everyone has his own style.

    My last bit of advice is to not spend too much time worrying about anything. The sooner you take action, the better. You can build your business, marketing, and writing skills as you go along. But I wouldn't wait to get started. I did that back in 2001 and that was a huge mistake!

    -- If I were to get started again, from scratch, this is what I'd do. And I'd do it in this order. Look at this as a to-do list. Also, it's just an idea. You don't have to do it. I am only listing it this way because I can tell you're overwhelmed with the details on getting started. The only way you'll really know what you want to do is to just jump in and start. You can hone and refine as you go along.

    1. Choose a place to post some sample articles for your very first portfolio. I personally use Hubpages and Yahoo Voices.

    2. Write 10-20 articles of at least 500 words to put on these sites.

    3. Start bidding at sites like elance.com and odesk.com - build up your profiles on these sites as completely as you can.

    4. Get on linkedin, facebook, twitter - declare yourself a Professional Writer.

    5. Start a professional site talking about who you are and what you do. Eventually you'll want to consider having a list for your clients and leads (I recommend Aweber) and a blog to attract potential clients.

    6. Promote the site using various methods.

    7. Build your skills by taking copywriting courses and reading about how to be a successful writer.

    8. Constantly evaluate what is going right and wrong as well as your likes and dislikes. My career has changed so much over the past decade - I got my start writing for magazines!

    I sincerely hope this helps. There were a lot of people who helped me when I got started, and I love to pay it forward.
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    • Profile picture of the author DTGeorge
      Originally Posted by katherineolga View Post

      You already have the skill, I can tell from your post. So, whatever you decide to do you can completely handle it. I wouldn't worry about building your writing skills at all - you are more than competent.

      Try to resist the urge to research for too long. I started my writing career back in 2002 - in 2001 I started researching what it entailed. That was a huge mistake - the minute I jumped in and got started is when I started making progress.

      Since you don't know what you want to do, I would start by brainstorming a list of all the topics you like to write about (or industries, etc). And then, I would make a list of all the types of writing you think you'd enjoy. Keep it close.

      It seems to me that you want to start working with clients. Start things out by setting up your profiles on all the freelance bid sites you can think of. www.odesk.com and www.elance.com are two of the best. Jump in and start bidding. I'd post 5-10 bids a day on each of these sites until you get your first nibbles. Then use your judgement as to which site you'll stick with and how often you'll bid after that. There's an art to bidding but everyone has his own style.

      My last bit of advice is to not spend too much time worrying about anything. The sooner you take action, the better. You can build your business, marketing, and writing skills as you go along. But I wouldn't wait to get started. I did that back in 2001 and that was a huge mistake!

      -- If I were to get started again, from scratch, this is what I'd do. And I'd do it in this order. Look at this as a to-do list. Also, it's just an idea. You don't have to do it. I am only listing it this way because I can tell you're overwhelmed with the details on getting started. The only way you'll really know what you want to do is to just jump in and start. You can hone and refine as you go along.

      1. Choose a place to post some sample articles for your very first portfolio. I personally use Hubpages and Yahoo Voices.

      2. Write 10-20 articles of at least 500 words to put on these sites.

      3. Start bidding at sites like elance.com and odesk.com - build up your profiles on these sites as completely as you can.

      4. Get on linkedin, facebook, twitter - declare yourself a Professional Writer.

      5. Start a professional site talking about who you are and what you do. Eventually you'll want to consider having a list for your clients and leads (I recommend Aweber) and a blog to attract potential clients.

      6. Promote the site using various methods.

      7. Build your skills by taking copywriting courses and reading about how to be a successful writer.

      8. Constantly evaluate what is going right and wrong as well as your likes and dislikes. My career has changed so much over the past decade - I got my start writing for magazines!

      I sincerely hope this helps. There were a lot of people who helped me when I got started, and I love to pay it forward.
      It seems to me that you want to start working with clients. Start things out by setting up your profiles on all the freelance bid sites you can think of. www.odesk.com and www.elance.com are two of the best. Jump in and start bidding. I'd post 5-10 bids a day on each of these sites until you get your first nibbles. Then use your judgement as to which site you'll stick with and how often you'll bid after that. There's an art to bidding but everyone has his own style.
      You have some good advice, and present it in a meaningful way. But Odesk and Elance?

      Blegh.

      The less I say on that topic, the better.
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      • Profile picture of the author tpw
        Originally Posted by DTGeorge View Post

        You have some good advice, and present it in a meaningful way. But Odesk and Elance?

        Blegh.

        The less I say on that topic, the better.

        Both leave a lot to be desired, but when someone is starting out, it is good experience.
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        • Profile picture of the author DTGeorge
          Originally Posted by tpw View Post

          Both leave a lot to be desired, but when someone is starting out, it is good experience.
          I started out with both, and I agree that they can provide valuable experience.

          That being said, as someone who's been there, there are better ways to get this experience and earn more.

          At least with some of the content mills, you learn a lot about the professional style and formatting used for writing, particularly web writing. Not only that, but you'll earn a bit more (usually from about $15 and up).

          As opposed to bid sites like Elance and ESPECIALLY Odesk, where (most) clients think they're treating you well for a $1 for 100 words, and where what they want varies drastically (I had one client send me an email telling me my article was crap, then another one the next day saying how good of a writer I was)
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  • Profile picture of the author HumbleGuy
    Start a blog, write quality and write more. You'll automatically get some excellent leads in six months. But write daily, long and lovely posts for your blog. It would eventually help.
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  • Profile picture of the author ymest
    Originally Posted by JohnnyH4 View Post

    Hello, I'm Johnny (hence the username). Writing has always been a talent of mine, but despite discovering that at 15, over a decade later I've yet to put it to real use. I'm sick of that, and have seriously been considering pursuing some sort of career in it as of late.

    Then, go for it! Don't over think. Just get started. You're saying that you're serious about it, so go for it!


    Now, there are two things to be said here. The first is that my subject, "writing," is intentionally vague. Despite my talent, I haven't exactly done much writing, and readily available work even less (making a portfolio difficult to assemble). But more to the point, I'm not even sure what sort of writing I would like to branch out into.

    Pic anything and start writing. Writing is "muscle" so to speak. Give yourself an assignment. For instance, how about writing a piece about something you know nothing about. It's challenging but it'll hone your skills. You have to start somewhere, right?


    My only writing job was working with Hydrocarbon Publishing, a small company based in PA that publishes a weekly digest about the petroleum and petrochemical industry. My job was to write up articles summarizing one or more news articles pulled from the AP feed and various magazines. Other jobs have not been writing-related and held few skills that I could apply to a career with my writing skill, aside from interpersonal skills (that I can and do learn everywhere else, anyways).

    The good thing is that you've already DONE IT! So, it's just a matter of jumping in again and getting started. It's often the hardest part. I have been there too. I created a portfolio from scratch when I started at Elance. It was a bit scary at first but then, after a few articles my confidence soared and I was able to get in touch with potential clients who eventually became repeat clients. Again, just get started. Take action. Don't fear anything. Honestly, what are the risks?

    I know that there are plenty of types of writers (content writers, copywriters, ghostwriters, and probably several more I didn't think of there), but I'm not sure which I would want to be (if/when I would specialize), and am definitely not ready to specialize. Which brings me to the second thing I have to say: how do you do it?

    You do need to start and as you go along, you'll find your true calling and decide which topic you like writing about etc. You won't find out until you've gained some experience. You maybe surprised to discover that you like writing about something you thought would not be your cup of tea.


    I'm not asking for help with finding resources or jobs, necessarily (though pointing out particular good places to find such resources is always appreciated), but rather am asking for clarity. I've been doing a lot of searching on these sorts of topics, not only on this forum for the past few hours, but also my college website's list of links, and Google itself.

    Searching too much may be the reason why you're confused and not writing yet. Clarity will start to show up once you've got a few gigs under your belt. You're probably suffering from information overload right now and this confuses you. Make it simple. Choose a freelance site and place bids or offer your services here. Get cracking. No more searching. Write what your clients want you to write and build a portfolio. You'll soon discover what you want to specialize in.

    My biggest problem has been a lack of mentors and guides to help me along my own path. Professors would just sort of say "well, google it and see what you can find." I could never articulate to a career & co-op center exactly what I needed from them. I was left on my own with nothing but the thousands upon thousands of pages of "information" out there, on anything and everything, ranging from million dollar pieces of advice to utter bullcrap.

    Mentors are only there to guide you. You must do the rest. You must take action. Whatever you've heard that you don't like, just forget it. Most successful writers were told that they would never amount to anything....until....! Well, it's the same for you. Most of them didn't have anyone behind them, showing them every step! They just worked HARD! You can do the same!

    So what I need more than anything is some guidance. People to parse the thousands of pages of advice that are out there, not only on this site, but the internet at large, and summarize it into the most important points that will help me get started. How you got your start, and where. Basic considerations I'll need to make besides "tell people you'll write words for money" and then doing that.

    I disagree again. You don't need THAT MUCH GUIDANCE! You certainly don't need babysitting. Start writing. Write for yourself. Build a massive portfolio until you land your first clients...

    Tips on specific websites, forums, etc. that I could advertise myself on, or other activities intended to generate some sort of interest in my talents and services are also welcome, but this would probably be a matter of linking me to other threads on this site (and please do, if you know of one that addresses my issues well). I've found elance.com and odesk.com on my own, but are they good sites to get started with?

    Yes, they are good ones but you'll probably have to start writing for next to nothing...so that you can build yourself a "reputation". Then, you can increase your prices. There is Freelancer.com too. And there's the hire section on the Warrior Forum! Do it!


    All in all, I'm reasonably confident in my writing skill, and am more than willing to spend the time and energy needed to excel in my work... so long as I actually do see a reasonable return on that investment. I've tried to break into writing and designing indie games before, but every project would fall apart despite my best efforts, and I gained almost nothing from it. Hopefully, things would go better if I'm the only one I truly have to rely on.

    You've said it all! You're confident, so stop writing here and write elsewhere, for MONEY!

    Thanks in advance for any assistance you can offer me. Be as brief or in-depth as you'd like, though I have a feeling a brief reply with some accompanying links is probably what I'm looking for.

    ~Johnny
    You're welcome! Good luck. Stay motivated and go get those high paying clients!
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  • Profile picture of the author SanerWorld
    For what it's worth, consider what name you will be writing under. Will it be your real name or a pen-name of some sort? Purchase a domain under that name, so that if you'll be writing as James Doe, register JamesDoe.com, if possible. While you will certainly be marketing your skills as a writer, you also need to be marketing your identity.

    Part of the process of building that identity as a writer is finding your voice - that style that is uniquely yours and with which you are very comfortable expressing yourself. And for that, the best advice I can give you is to write - preferably every day. Get into the practice of writing daily, even when you don't think you have anything to say. Our harshest critic is usually the one between our ears, but if you set yourself to a writing schedule, you'll soon learn to ignore those inner voices and draw out your ideas quickly and easily. Write first, edit second. Not everything you write needs to be posted online and a lot of your daily writing may be more like a form of brainstorming, meant only for you. Writing is a skill, and like any other creative pursuit, works best if practiced regularly!
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  • Profile picture of the author writeaway
    Here's my tip: Don't have an ENTITLEMENT MENTALITY. As long as you are always willing to learn and willing to continuously increase the quality of your work, you will do fine. However, if you feel you are ENTITLED to a certain income or price point, chances are this will only work against you-regardless of what other people say. This market is highly SEGMENTED. There is always space for newcomers.
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  • Profile picture of the author Marhelper
    If you have story to tell ... tell it. Get it in front of those that are the target audience. Then keep your vision in front of you because there will be much doubting but hold strong.
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  • Profile picture of the author TimothyTorrents
    I don't want to sound like I am self promoting but I wrote about this topic in this thread http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...ng-career.html
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    • Profile picture of the author helen jones
      Banned
      Originally Posted by timbonitus View Post

      I don't want to sound like I am self promoting but I wrote about this topic in this thread http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...ng-career.html
      Regarding the personal blog part, what do you think is the best (or easy) platform to create it? Can Wordpress work well or you need a more advanced site?
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      • Profile picture of the author tpw
        Originally Posted by helen jones View Post

        Regarding the personal blog part, what do you think is the best (or easy) platform to create it? Can Wordpress work well or you need a more advanced site?

        Very few people need anything more complicated than a WordPress website.
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnnyH4
    Hey, been really busy the past couple days (not with writing, unfortunately), and just wanted to say thanks to everyone who's responded since my last post. All input is appreciated.
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  • Profile picture of the author Canadaseopro
    Hi Johnny here is a great article to read if your going to do some sales copy writing. can make up to 500 per page for professional sales copy.

    7 Principles of Effective Sales Copy

    or the classic, this was posted way back in 2003 and still #2 in Google for search term "effective sales copy"

    Writing Effective Sales Copy - Internet Coaching
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  • Profile picture of the author AlbertBarkley
    Its suits me to start my career as professional writer. thanks.
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  • Profile picture of the author Gourmet Gifts
    Starting out as a writer I began with something I was honestly passionate about being an alcoholic which was at once confronting and forced me to reveal exactly what I felt and thought on a regular basis.

    Now, I feel confident to move on after about 100k hits and some positive comments.

    Being honest and genuine is all there is to it, really.
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  • Profile picture of the author dsouravs
    well in current condition you can offer content writing services in fiverr to get experience.
    Signature

    I can convert your Non-Responsive website to Responsive website ... How sweet is that? :)

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  • Profile picture of the author isadoregregory
    Somehow somewhere you just really need to get started. Don't wait for things to be perfect. You need to have the momentum. Don't wait to start big. Start out small. Read books and find out what interests you. Accept writing jobs to see which ones you like the most, then you can figure out what type of writer you wish to become. Start out with odesk.com, elance or iwriters.net, etc. Start out a blog, where you can write about anything and process your thought. The universe should take you somewhere if its really what you desire. Don't expect to earn hundreds of dollars right away. Ideally, you should not expect to earn anything in the beginning,if it is what you really love.
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