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An Inspirational Story of Following Your Creative Soul – Eigensenn Farm

Chef¬†Michael Stadtlander has found success by indulging his creativity and natural talent. While he doesn’t have untold riches through running what Restaurant magazine once called the 9th best restaurant in the world out of a farm in Singhampton, Ontario he is happy and doing exactly what he wants to do.

As writers, we can choose to go this way. We can forego a “safe” career in order to pursue our dreams of writing for pleasure and profit. That is what I did and I found resonant notes in Stadtlander’s story. Have a read yourself and see if it strikes the same chords with you.

The Country-Centric Nature of This Blog And Other Resources for Americans

Just in case you haven’t stopped by to read our “About Us” page or are just a new visitor to the blog, I should make this clear. This blog is meant for Canadians. There are many, many resources out there for international writers and in particular American writers. I don’t want to compete with any of them, the whole purpose of this blog is to post job leads that Canadians can apply to.

I know this limits my audience and ad revenues but I don’t really care about that. It’s a great reward when I get e-mails from people who have landed contracts or jobs from their introduction to them on this site. That being said, if you are American please feel free to still use this site, just be aware that there are some better resources out there for you including:

freelancewritinggigs.com
This network of blogs and job listings are what got me thinking about this kind of service for Canadians. Tip of the hat to the people who deserve it. I got my first larger gig through postings on this site.

Anne Wayman aboutfreelancewriting.com
Love her blog posts, articles, and leads roundups that she publishes a few times a week.

For the record, I don’t use the above sites to gather leads. I go straight to the source to get ones that I think are viable for Canadian consumption. I hope all of you enjoy the site and please let me know what else you would like to see on it.

Part Two – Why You Shouldn’t Take Low-Paying or No-Pay Jobs

Courtesy toothpastefordinner.com

I promised more on this subject and it is truly an inexhaustable one. Today we’ll cover building a portfolio and charity work.

You Don’t Need to Volunteer to Build a Portfolio

Yes, you will have a hard time finding work until you build your portfolio. No, this does not mean that you will have to work for free until your portfolio gels into something that most people would be interested in. In fact, most of the companies that will showcase well in a portfolio will not hesitate to pay you. Visa will not ask you to work for free, because they certainly don’t.

Jobs that bill themselves as “a great way to build your portfolio” simply aren’t if they don’t pay more than minimum wage. Granted, you may need to take something at a lower pay scale than you are comfortable with to start off, but you never need to work for free or close to it.

We’re a Charity – You Should Be One Too

In all fairness I haven’t heard of many organizations using this line. However, non-profits do ask for a discount. What to do? If the business is in Canada, you can offer them a discount if they offer to make up the difference for a receipt for donation-in-kind. This will help you out at tax time.

Steer well clear of job ads that advertise that the job is for a charity so they aren’t paying as much as usual. Real charities actually pay quite well, since marketing is an integral part of their fundraising efforts.

They Take Up Your Time

The time cost of taking one of these gigs is huge. Economists call it the “opportunity cost”. The time that you are spending on a volunteer gig can be more fruitfully spent marketing yourself and applying to higher-paying gigs. Two hours spent sending off query letters to magazines will probably net you a lot more return than two hours that you have spent churning out articles on security systems.

In the interest of keeping it short and sweet, that is all I have for now. Do you have reasons that you don’t think people should take low-paying or no-pay gigs? Post them below.

Essential Tips For Landing Writing Gigs You Find Online

Not Me, But Would Be Close if I Stuck to Weight Watchers and Gained A Mustache

When you are applying for a job online, you are up against scores of other applicants. One of my clients closed down the application process after one day and she had roughly two hundred applicants to go through. How can you possibly get noticed in this sea of other applicants?

1. Have a Website

This is so essential. It is also cheap, easy to maintain, and will take very little time to build. Personally, I like Bluehost and their one-step WordPress installation, but any hosting company will do. Even if you have no technical knowledge, setting up WordPress is really quite easy (especially with the one-click method that Bluehost has integrated) and fun. Mac enthusiasts can use iWeb, which I have heard excellent reviews for. Either way, setting up your own website is nothing to be scared of and is hundreds of times easier now than it was even two years ago. In fact, one of the reasons I decided to go into writing rather than web design is the fact that it is now so easy for businesses to set up websites themselves.

A profile page on Suite 101 or a similar service isn’t enough anymore. Besides, you are promoting their brand and not yours. Having your own website is also usually a sign that you are more tech savvy and those looking for tech or web copy writers are going to want to see that you have the expertise. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but if I was hiring a web content writer and the applicant didn’t have their own website, I would immediately discard the application.

2. No Form Letters

While it isn’t a crime to have a form e-mail that you base your e-mail on, as I do for all of my vital information, make sure to add to it with specific items that speak to the particular job that you are applying to. Keep the large words and clever turns of phrase to a minimum, unless they are witty and fun. Less James Joyce, more Jay Leno. Remember that your target audience is typically a worker who sits in a cubicle all day, and anything you can do to liven up their day short of using off-colour jokes will get you in the “maybe” pile.

3. Portfolio, Portfolio, Portfolio

Here is where I really don’t practice what I preach. My portfolio is sadly in need of updating, something I’m sure I’ll do eventually. However, if you find yourself not getting any or very little work, this is a good place to spend time. Go back to your contacts and make sure that it is OK to put links to your work on your site. If it was explicitly a ghostwriting gig, it’s generally not OK to just link to it as your work. If they gave you a byline, a link is a foregone conclusion and you don’t even really have to ask.

What you can do with your ghostwriting gigs is use samples that don’t easily identify the company that you wrote for, turn them into PDF’s, and make them available for download on your site. Do not reproduce work on your site that may be on another website in anything but PDF form, as the search engines may see it as duplicate content and either you or your client may go down a ranking or two due to your seemingly innocent actions. It is good form to run ghostwriting samples by your client to make sure that it is OK to post them on your site. By ghostwriting, I mean brochure copy, sales letters, press releases; anything that does not have your name on it that you wrote for a client.

I have done ghostwriting gigs where the fact that I was even writing for someone else was supposed to be a secret; if that is the case don’t even dream of posting samples from that on your site.

Make sure your portfolio is easy to navigate. There are lots of WordPress plugins out there that allow you to set up a gallery of documents. This one allows you to have a gallery of images and PDF’s that you can expand in a lightbox: ¬†http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-multibox-plugin/

Whatever you do, give some punch to your portfolio rather than using a boring list. Headlines with descriptions of articles are so 1996; pictures and PDF’s with your article descriptions are much more “punchy”.

Now you have three things to look at to improve on in order to land more jobs if you aren’t getting much in the way of work right now. The more time you spend on your portfolio and website, the better your chances of landing a job. The more time you spend on your introductory e-mails, the more chance there is of you landing that job. It comes down to time, and if you can make an investment of a few hours a week in these three items, you’ll be working so hard you won’t believe that there was ever a time that you were without work.

Why You Shouldn’t Work for Lower Wages or Free – Part One – You Are Always Worth It

After some e-mails and comments in our forum on the issue of how to fix the problem in the industry of people charging too little for their writing and buyers expecting to pay next to nothing for it, I’ve decided to write a few posts on the subject at the rate of one or two a week. Dann Alexander mentioned that education is the best medicine for this ailment and I completely agree.

Reason #1 – You are Always Worth More

People and companies who are soliciting content are willing to pay for it. Like everyone else, they are going to try to get a bargain. As any economics major will tell you, some will purchase for a higher price, some will abandon the project if they can’t get content for under five cents a word. In any case, I can tell you from putting together this site that you are a commodity. If you can write reasonably well and research equally well, your writing is worth far, far more than $1.00 an article.

Those who are advertising for writers for free or low wages know exactly what they are doing. They are not going to change their minds if you write them a nice letter. They know that the going rate for a writer is much higher than what they want to pay; they are just hoping to find a sucker with low self-esteem that wants to get published or get internet famous. Neither should be goals of yours if you are approaching writing as a career.

To determine whether or not a job is “worth it”, divide the number of estimated project hours by the fee offered. Some light content or SEO articles only take an hour to write and some writers are fine with $15.00 an hour. Writers who have been around for longer would argue that is still too low, but until you have a portfolio that is somewhat weighty under your belt this may be just be what you have to deal with until you get it built up.

Once you’ve got that portfolio, stop taking the $15.00 an hour jobs and move up the scale into $20.00, $25.00, $50.00 and so on. The only problem, if you could call it that, with this method is that your old clients still want the $15.00/hr jobs. At some point, you have to start saying “no”. That can hurt, but it is part of the process.

We’ll keep going with this series. If you have reasons that you would like to see in this series, hit me up in the comments or through the contact form and I’ll make sure that they go in. I have a feeling this topic will never be exhausted.