How to Write Amazing Pitch Letters that Land You Freelance Writing Jobs

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As a freelance writer, writing an article is easy, but writing a pitch can sometimes be the hardest part. How do you put the words just right to get an editor’s attention or convince them that you are the right freelancer for a job? Kelly James-Enger of Dollars and Deadlines has put together some of her pitch letter tips greatest hits in her post: 10 Query Posts that Tell you Everything you Need to Know about Queries…and Then Some.
Here are a couple of her tips:
For the rest of her tips, check them out here!

Should U.S. Freelancers Be Worried About Competition Overseas?

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Like typewriters and evening deadlines, many of the staples of print journalism have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Stories are now uploaded, optimized, tagged and tweeted on a never-ending news cycle. With 266+ million website out there, the demand for content is endless.

That’s both good and bad news for freelance writers and content producers. It means more work, but it also means more competition from foreign writers willing to work longer hours with shorter turnaround time, for less pay.

Terry Aldershof, an Illinois-based freelancer with more than 20-years experience called the trend, “the biggest travesty to hit freelance writers since the inception of the industry.”

“It’s essentially turned freelance writing from a pay per word, to a bid-for-service industry,” Aldershof said. “It’s a losing proposition when you are bidding against someone in India or the Philippines where 1 USD is the equivalent of 70 USD in their country.”

Barry Maurice, co-owner of Thought Mechanics, LLC works with clients who need everything from website copy, to content writing, to blogs for their websites. Having hired both US and foreign based writers for his website and his clients, he shed some light on the industry and the nature of competition American-based freelance writers face.

Q: What kind of writing projects are you tasked with finding writers for?

A: The biggest one is when the client wants a blog. A lot of clients like having a blog because of the search traffic it brings. Unfortunately, they don’t like to actually write the content themselves. In cases like that, we will usually use above average writers unless the client doesn’t have the proper budget, then we will find lesser quality writers.

Q: What are the key differences you’ve found between using US-based writers and writers from other countries?

A: Obviously North American and European writers are best. Indian writers are usually not necessarily “bad” writers as they have great spelling and technically are good writers. Unfortunately, they use that classic English-type writing. So they will write in ways that looks abnormal. For example, in their emails they will start off with “Dear Sir or Madam”. Which, there is nothing wrong with it, but it’s not common for people to talk like that.

As for Philippines writers, their first language is not English. So not only do they speak differently but nine times out of ten, they have at the very least mild, broken English.

Q: Is the main reason for hiring overseas because of the money-saving aspects, or are their other benefits?

A: Usually money. It’s also easier to get 500 x 500 word articles banged out super-fast if you are in a bind, by using people from India. They work hard and they aren’t afraid to grind hard.

Q: Can you give me an idea of the pay range writers overseas charge versus American writers for various projects?

A: You can get $2 per 500 words that is “decent” from overseas. My most-used American writer is $10 per 500 words. But I have paid well over $50 per 500 words before when I needed really super good content. And, there are certain sites and forums you can visit with “real” writers where they charge very high prices like $1-$2 per word which I would probably never pay.

Q: How do you go about finding writers?

A: These are pretty much all the places I use:

Need an Article
Digital Point
Warrior Forum
Wickedfire

Q: Do you think US freelance writers should be worried about the future of their field?

A: No, not the good writers who don’t mind working for a living. But I do see a lot of $1 per word type writers who are sitting around waiting for the New York Times to call. I’m not sure what they have in store down the road.

Is Negative Thinking Sabotaging Your Freelance Writing Career?

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Are you sabotaging your own freelance career? According to Lexi Rodrigo at Freelance Folder, your own mindset could be leading to your own setbacks in your career as freelance writer. She ruminates on her own life and how negative thinking has affected her own career. “I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the most important ingredients to success in freelancing–in life–is mindset. Mindset is the way you think about yourself, others, and the world around you. Often, we’re unaware of these thoughts. Yet they play in our minds every minute of every day and affect the decisions we make and how we behave.”

Here are a few tips on negative thoughts that can hinder your freelance career, from her piece Mindset Busters That Make Freelancers Fail.

“I’m Not Good Enough”

We freelancers like to put ourselves down for various reasons. We think we ought to have that degree or certification. We ought to have a long list of impressive clients, or more years of experience behind us. Whatever it is, there’s always SOMETHING that keeps us from being good enough.

This mindset is destructive, because it keeps you from trying anyway and finding what you are good at. It keeps you from stretching, and therefore reaching, beyond what you’re already capable of. Instead, you stick to projects you know you can accomplish with minimal chances of failure. While this keeps you safe, it also keeps you from growing.

Realize that you don’t have to be the best at what you do. You only have to be good, very good. And that’s something you can always work for.

“Success Is for the Lucky Ones, Not Me”

The problem with thinking like this is it tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Studies have shown we tend to act the way we believe ourselves to be. When schoolchildren were told they were special and smart, they performed better in school than their peers who had the same intelligence but didn’t receive the same “programming.”

Don’t program yourself to be a failure. When you see a successful freelancer and jealousy starts to rear its ugly head, try thinking instead, “What can I learn from this person that would make me successful too?”

“Money is the Root of All Evil”

Something got lost in translation here. The Bible, which is where most people think the quote is from, does not say this at all! What it does say is, “For the love of money is the root of all evils.” Having money does not condemn you.

Loving money can make you a greedy, selfish, shallow person. But simply having money means that money can be used for both bad or good purposes. With money, you can give other people jobs, support charities, and help your family and friends.

Read the rest at of Lexi’s piece at Freelance Folder.

How to Diversify, Expand, and Broaden Your Freelance Writing Career

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Diversify, expand, and broaden. Do you notice that? Three different ways to say the same thing. Diversification is the antithesis of redundancy and the lifeblood of good prose, and so it is for freelance writers. Go ahead, don’t be afraid to mix it up. In today’s market, you have to dabble in everything from print media to smart phone apps and podcasts to keep your business viable, visible, and varied enough so you don’t die when one of your markets does.

Here are five tips for spreading your talents in various directions in today’s media climate.

1.    Look for the steady paycheck. This isn’t necessarily the job or jobs that are going to make you famous or fulfilled. In many cases, they are tedious, but tedium often pays well. Newsletters, web maintenance, and public relation accounts are three examples of steady work that could earn you a quarterly or monthly paycheck. Contact local companies, tourism bureaus, non-profits, and other organizations that already communicate regularly with their customers or the world. If they’re not already doing so, try selling them on the idea. Network: Join the local Chamber of Commerce and other professional organizations to mine this market.

2.    Forever query. I know, it’s my least favorite part of freelancing, too, but even when you’re too busy, you should be sending out queries… and not just to your steady markets. Make a goal of pitching ideas to one new market every month.

3.    Become an expert. Position and brand yourself as a top authority in one or more fields. How do you do that? In the old days, you wrote a book. That’s still a viable path, whether you find a publisher or self-publish. Just be sure to build eBooks into your business plan. Much easier these days is starting a niche Web site/blog. Although they don’t pay all that well, you may consider becoming an “expert” for the Web content mills such as Examiner and Huffington Post – short term anyway. Don’t forget to use social media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, et al – to further broadcast your clips and expertise.

4.    Be fearless. Okay, so now you have your foot in the door with an organization or two, a print publication, and some Web sites, including your own. Don’t rest on the proverbial laurels. Look around. What aren’t you doing? Don’t use excuses for not knowing how to set up a blog, create a podcast, or write an app. Either learn or look for middlemen with the technology to help. Be willing to invest time and money to expand and keep up with the quickly changing world of technology. Talk to local broadcast stations to see how you can get involved in writing and producing. Don’t forget the value of a camera and video camera in diversifying your options.

5.    Be relentless. Make a monthly list of new projects to try. Set goals and schedule daily tasks. Study and research markets you’d like to broach. Then work until you’ve gotten there. Forever improve the visibility and marketability of your work. Steadily increase how you monetize. Read everything from techie magazines to pulp fiction. Consider writing fiction.

The possibilities are endless if you keep you set your sights on diversifying.

5 Free Tools for Freelance Writers

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Whether you’re editing photos or typing in a foreign language, you’ll find lots of online tools to simplify and streamline your writing-related tasks in just a few clicks. Still using expensive photo software or searching for the accent mark you need? As Apple would say, “there’s an app for that.” Best of all, many of these tools are free. Here are five of my favorites.

1.    Picnik.com
Editors and clients often want photos in specific sizes, so I use this free tool to crop or resize images to accompany blog posts or articles. It’s a good basic photo editor and requires no registration, but the premium version offers even more features. At $24.95, it’s still a heck of a lot cheaper than the full version of PhotoShop.
2.    Google Voice
I could devote an entire post to all the handy Google products I use on a daily basis, but Google Voice is my undisputed favorite. I used Skype for years, but Google Voice includes some additional features like voicemail transcription and the ability to get a phone number in your local area code for free. I can make and receive calls through my MacBook and have them forward to my iPhone when I’m away. As with Skype, the sound quality can be a little spotty, but I especially like Google Voice for phone interviews so I don’t eat up a zillion cell phone minutes or get neck strain from cradling my iPhone on my shoulder as I furiously type notes.
3.    Boomerang for Gmail
Confession: I sometimes work late into the night, but I don’t want clients or sources thinking I have no life. That’s why I installed Boomerang for Gmail so I can schedule messages to arrive at saner hours. I also schedule emails when an editor says, “check in with me next week after our editorial meeting” or “can you follow up after the next issue closes?” The basic version of this tool includes ten message credits per month.
4.    TypeIt.org 
Ever needed to type the symbol for a foreign currency? Or wanted to spice up your writing with a phrase or two en Español? TypeIt puts all these special characters literally at your fingertips without you hunting around for so-called shortcuts or (my old standby) Googling until you find the character you need. I had a copywriting client whose products were named in several different languages, so I’d just click on the language and have all the accent marks or umlauts I needed.
5.    WordPot.com
Most technical writers resist the idea that they are slaves to SEO. Still, it’s useful to know what search terms in your niche are most popular. Enter a word or phrase and WordPot shows you the prevalence of related terms. This is useful for freelance writers for two reasons. First, knowing how different rank could help you create SEO-friendly headlines. Second, looking at related terms might inspire future articles or blog posts. You might pay for a more comprehensive tool if you were planning a pay-per-click campaign, but for writing purposes it works just fine.

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