Freelancing Online

July 2, 2009

Amazon.com Ramblings

Filed under: Books — carlaboner @ 7:32 am
Tags: , , , ,

If you have not already figured out the greatness of Amazon.com then I will help. Okay so they may not be the greatest place in the world – and yes you should support your local bookstore. But I must confess that I am hopelessly addicted to Amazon.com. I live in the middle of everything, as in I am 300 miles away from 3 very large cities, in a very small town.

I love our local bookstore but their square footage is slightly larger than my single wide trailer. They are very friendly there and can order in just about anything, but for some reason I still prefer Amazon.com. I guess I am just spoiled.

About once a month I spend $50 on books. Most of them are freelance related and I have even written reviews on Amazon.com about the books I have recently finished. Someday I may update others, but I just figured out how easy it is to set up a profile and write reviews.

Unfortunately they do not pay for their reviews, but they do pay through their affiliate program. It is well known that books are a common weakness for writers. So…if you are a writer it pays to sign-up for Amazon’s affiliate program and include links to your store, lists, profiles and reviews any where that is suiting.

As with all things, it is important to maintain the balance between informing and spamming.

If you would like information on and my opinion of various freelancing books on the market please visit my Amazon.com Profile. It includes my reviews, wish list and recently purchased items. I have rated every book I have purchased recently so it is a good indicator of the books I suggest. If you have any questions about them or would like me to write a detailed book review for this blog please let me know!

My Amazon.com Profile

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Photo Reflect Review

It was about 2 months ago that I stumbled across the greatest photography website for photographers, PhotoReflect.com. Photographers can sign up for an account that is essentially free. PhotoReflect does not make any money until you do!

Now that I have your attention, the PhotoReflect.com team has throughly impressed me through free webinars, Tips & Tricks newsletter, tech support, video training, consultation, software and website.

The software is Express Digital Darkroom and it handles everything – maintenance of the website, portfolio, photography events, orders. All you have to do it some data entry. I will warn you it can seem a little intimidating at first and that is where the free webinars come into play. On top of a very in depth instruction manual PhotoReflect.com provides a Getting Started and Advanced Tools webinar.

These webinars teach you everything you need to know to get your site up and running. If you are left with questions at the end you are invited to email your questions and the PhotoReflect staff returns your email or phones with the answer promptly.

You are probably wondering how the money aspect works, thankfully it is very simple. You are able to hook up with a large selection of different photo labs around the country. You can select one that is nearby and/or one that carries specialty items. The lab has all of their prices listed, from there you are able to figure out the price you want to charge on your photos. PhotoReflect.com takes a 15-20%  cut off the top. It may sound like a lot at first but if someone makes a $50 order your net proceeds are $41. The more you sell the lower the percentage PhotoReflect.com pulls out.

Designing your own PhotoRelect site is also very simple, they provide a wide variety of various templates and all of the information is fill in the blank. Your photos are easily uploaded using the Digital Express Darkroom software. These sites are very professional looking too. The site you are able to design are so nice that whether you are new to the field of photography or a seasoned professional you will be happy with the results.

One of the features that I absolutely love is email lists for future events. For example in three months you will be photographing the Smith Wedding & Reception, as soon as the event is booked you can create a photo catalog for the event(s). Instead the PhotoReflect site allows your customers to submit their email for instant notification once the pictures have been uploaded. For weddings this works perfectly because you can suggest the couple include a card in their invitations that mentions this feature. They enjoy it because everyone is able to purchase their own pictures after the wedding.

Another great feature is password protection. If the Smith couple does not want anyone but family members to be able to view their photos, you can password protect their event. This also works well for children sport teams, family photos and more.

PhotoReflect.com also provides you with the ability to sell more than just photos. You can make all your own packages, sell canvas photos, framed photos, photo albums, posters, christmas cards and you make all the choices. If you only want to sell 8×10’s that is your choice – it is not suggested, but you can do it if you really want to.

They handle all the credit card processing, provide discount options, gift certificates, it’s like having your very own 24 hour studio.

I normally do not praise places this much but I keep researching and I keep coming up with more and more satisfied customers, clients and employees. The only way I have found for someone to fail at PhotoReflect.com is lack of publicity.

You cannot simply put your photos up on the site and hope people show up and buy stuff – it just doesn’t work like that. One suggestion that I recieved from Walter at PhotoReflect.com is “print up business cards and on the back print something like: Thank You! Visit yourname.photoreflect.com to view and purchase your event photos!” Be sure to include a line for the event name and the event date. Everytime you take pictures pass the cards out.

Print up flyers to advertise your services then post them wherever you see fit. Make brochures that showcase your services and your website. Get the word out that you are a photographer and you have photos for sale!

Just like with any educated business endevor, you get what you put into it. If you love photography then this site will prove to be nothing but a blessing for you.

To visit my PhotoReflect.com site visit: http://carlamichelle.photoreflect.com aka Girl With a Pen & Camera

June 27, 2009

oDesk Review

oDesk is a freelance bidding site. If you have never worked with a bidding site before it can be very interesting and confusing at first but it gets easier with time. The way a bidding site works is much like a regular interview process for a normal day job. You search for a job you would like to do then apply for it by giving the client a price quote, estimated time and a cover letter explaining why you are the one for the job.

I know what your thinking – “This sounds complicated and there’s no guarantee I’ll get the job.” In some senses you are right, there is no guarantee you will be chosen, but there is a good chance you will be is you have your profile in order and you write a decent cover letter. The great news is bidding sites do not just work with writers they also work with web programmers, sales consultants, customer service representatives, accountants and so much more. If you have more than one specialty or if you just don’t want to be tied down to doing the same work every single day then you can bid in various fields.

I personally love oDesk because the community is nice, the people are helpful and the clients are great. I have landed at least 10 jobs in the two months I have been with oDesk and most of the assignments are long term. I have good working relationships with all of my clients and I get to set my rates. I have had a few prospective clients refuse me because of my rates, but I have others that have hired me because my rates were slightly above the norm. It also helps that I always direct potential clients to my website in my cover letter. My website is designed to be more of a portfolio than anything else and with the wide variety of topics organized by category tabs clients are able to easily get an idea of my writing style and my versatility.

Another aspect of oDesk that I absolutely love is their free skills tests – yeah you heard me right – FREE. I have taken quite a few of the tests and it helps clients to know where you are proficient. oDesk will even allow you to retake the tests after 30 days if you want to try for a better score. Some clients will only select applicants who have passed certain skills tests. For instance if you are proficient in English take the English skills test. This allows clients to know that you actually do know and understand English and you are not just going to write an article in your native tongue then pass it through a translator. I have taken the English, SEO, article writing and blog writing tests whereas these are my main fields. I plan to take more, just because I like taking tests – I know, I’m weird. The great thing is, if I do not pass or I get a score that I don’t want to advertise to the world I can choose to hide the results from public view.

oDesk is very different from other Freelance Bidding sites whereas it does not charge you any membership or upfront fees. They do however take a 10% cut from the money you do make. It is up to you whether you choose to take that cut or charge it to your clients. I personally take the hit because I think the clients appreciate it and if I only get $90 from a $100 job I don’t see it as a huge deal. Many freelancers have the client pay the 10% though by setting their bid at $100 then having oDesk tack on the extra on top.

There are two different types of jobs you can complete through oDesk: Hourly and Fixed-price. oDesk does not garantee payment on Fixed-price jobs whereas they are not tracked in any way. Hourly jobs are garanteed though because oDesk has a special program that you download onto your computer that tracks the amount of work you complete. You are able to easily take out times when you walked away from the computer or add “offline time”. On hourly jobs a client does not have to pay for the “offline time” though all the ones I have worked with have paid it with no questions asked.

I strongly suggest oDesk to anyone who is trying to find clients and decent paying freelance assignments. Click here to view my oDesk Profile.

The On Demand Global Workforce - oDesk

Text Broker Review

Filed under: Article Sites — carlaboner @ 6:23 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Text Broker, now this is an interesting one. Some people I know do pretty well writing for Text Broker while I never did so well. I have a friend that makes over $100 a month writing for them. The website is set up quite nicely, so that it is easy to use. When you apply to Text Broker you will write a short sample and they will evaluate it on a star system (1-5 stars). Most writers when starting out begin at a 2 star rating and as you complete assignments if you average a higher rating, Text Broker will raise your rating. The higher the rating the higher paying jobs you are able to search for.

Only one article at a time can be accepted through the Text Broker system. Once you complete one article, you can then claim another and so on. Typically there is a large selection of articles to choose from although many of them are odd topics. I rarely find topics that I want to write on, although like I said some people do pretty well on the site.

I have a few issues with Text Broker, that prevent me from being able to do more for them. First off, there is very little personal connection. I have written many articles for clients I know nothing about, technically I don’t even know if they exist. Of the assignments I have completed through Text Broker I have only ever spoke to one client through email and that is because he took the time to contact me through the Text Broker system.

Another issue I have is the low pay. Most articles pay less than 1 cent per word, until you get into the higher ratings. Which leads me to the only one assignment at a time policy. I understand why they do it but at the same time I think the more you work for them and prove you are there to provide they should allow at least up to 5 claims. There have been several occasions when I claimed a somewhat decent paying assignment hoping to get it done in time to claim another, just to have them be claimed by the time I completed the first one. In my opinion this leads to sloppy work that is done to hastily for any research, spell-checking or proofreading.

I hate to admit it but if I am getting paid less than 5 cents per word I am not going to spend a lot of time making sure the article is perfect. Which brings me to my last point, my name is not on this article – giving me yet another reason to not care a whole lot about the quality. That’s right Text Broker is a ghostwriting site as in your name is not getting published with any of these articles and you retain zero rights to your work. This is why they are able to pay such low amounts. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with ghostwriting if you are being compensated for all of the work you are doing and all of the rights you are selling.

If you are just looking to make a few bucks from home every month Text Broker is not a horrible option. If you are serious about becoming a writer and honing your skills, selling to magazines or even publishing a novel someday I would suggest only using Text Broker when you desprately need a cup of coffee – next month (they only pay on the 10th of every month).

Associated Content Review

Associated Content is an article submission website that is a good place to start out if you are a freelance writer new to writing content for the internet. If you do not know anything about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), keyword density, keywording, link building or content marketing, Associated Content is a greta place to begin.

The Associated Content community is very friendly and helpful. Their forums and social network provide great locations to learn from other online writers. They have a great selction of articles that explain SEO and content marketing techniques.

Articles have to be over 400 words and they have a style guide that will help you learn how to format your articles so that they are online reader friendly.

When submitting articles, I strongly suggest asking for non-exclusive rights and upfront payments. By choosing these options you are keeping the rights to your work so that you can sell reprints to other online sites or even sell First Serial Rights to print publications.

According to the people I have talked to and using my own experience average upfront pay per article is $3-$5. There are a lot of different factors that Associated Content takes into account when deciding their upfront payments.

Associated Content also pays a Page View Performance Bonus. When you first begin it is only a few pennies per 1,000 page views but as you work your way up through the “Clout” levels you are able to work up to $2 per 1,000 page views.

I know it seems like a lot of work but it is also a good idea to search Associated Content before you write on a topic. Many topics have been covered, even more have been done to death. If you write another Work from Home, or Lose Weight Now article Associated Content is not going to pay much for it and it will get burried in the depths of internet hell.

If you are looking to work full time as a freelance writer you will need more than just Associated Content. I started with AC and I have over 50 articles with them right now and I earn about $3 a month from page views.

I have made a few friends from Associated Content as well as learning a lot about SEO and keywording when I started out not knowing anything at all about it.

At the beginning of this post is a link to Associated Content, but if for some reason you would like to use me as a referal here is my Associated Content Referal link.

Join Associated Content

June 14, 2009

Welcome to Freelancing Online!

Girl With a Pen & Camera

Copywriter & Author

As a freelance writer and photographer, I Carla Michelle would like to help you find success in online freelancing. I will write a review for every on-line company I have worked for and let you know which ones I am still working for. As of June 2009 I was averaging $300 a month after only 6 months in the field.

Although most of my advice will be for writing and photography, there will also be information on secretarial, data entry, web programming, and various other on-line freelancing opportunities. I will include links in the sidebar for every legitimate site I have worked with and suggest or recommend. I will also warn of scam sites and those I find to be less than reputable that I have encountered and I will not provide any links to such places.

Welcome to the world of Freelancing Online I wish you all the best!

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Freelancing Online is changing direction! We will still be discussing online opportunities for freelancers, but I will also be covering corporate copywriting! I am just now shifting to that market and I hope I will do a good job at keeping you informed of the new hassles, time, and of course….PAY!

Why am I switching? First ask yourself, if you are truly happy writing the articles you have been writing? How long does it take you to write a quality 500 word article?

It takes me 1.5 hours to write a quality 500 word article. That is with minimal research on the internet, no interviews, very little fact checking, typically opinion pieces. If I were to write that same article to the best of my ability with facts, proper editing, etc. I would spend about 3-5 hours on it.

If I submitted that article to Associated Content, I have made less than $1 per hour. At eHow, I just donated that article (I might make a few cents over the next year), Bright Hub I made $2-3 per hour.

Now If I were take that article to a corporation that it would work well for their marketing packages I could charge at least $45, earning me $15 per hour. Although I love writing and I do it whether or not I am getting paid, I would prefer to get paid what I am worth. Most good copywriters charge no less than $50 an hour because copywriting takes something most writers do not have – the ability to sell a product or idea.

Read on to learn about Article submission sites (where I got my start) and some how-tos on copywriting.

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