The Beginning Of My Freelancing Is Nigh!
Writing itself can be a fickle mistress. There are days when you feel as though you could not be further from where you need to be mentally (or physically) in order to write; and then there are the times when your keyboard sounds like a shootout in your attempt to get down some of your cascading ideas. Whether it is overcoming writer's block, crafting a poem or just attempting to discover why it is that you put paper to pen or fingers to keys in the first place, writing is an ever-changing flow that can often have as much control over you as you have over it.
Nevertheless, my love for it has kept me coming back time and time again, and lately I’ve been reaching for a lot more than that. Today I have decided to actually write something in my blog because I have finally completed what I have been working on for quite some time: I submitted my first article.
Now I know that may not seem like much--especially to those of you out there who are already successful freelance writers, because an article is something you have a bowl of for breakfast--but for me, this is a monumental success. If you’re an elite freelancer and I tell you that my first article was submitted on Examiner.com, you may just skin me alive and hang me out to dry.
I’ve done my research and read some really horrible things about all of the writing sites that I have looked into--but they all have their share of horror stories, often brought about by simple miscommunication or someone being an idiot. Some of them, however, have certainly not done anything to stem my fear of sharing my work in this sea of insanity--thieving fish be in this sea, and the main reason I have avoided doing anything like this has not been my lack of time or will, but me surrendering to this all-encompassing fear that I have carried since I was young.
It’s about time that I did some serious looking into everything that involves online freelance writing, and when I finally broke down (or stepped up, however I feel like looking at it) and used the tools at my disposal to dispel my fear of the unknown and learn something for a bloody change, I felt better straight away. This was at the end of February 2012 when it became disgustingly clear that I had been screwed over big time and I had to start something or I was going to be unhappy and poor for a very long time. So instead of focusing on my retarded little problems in my ridiculous little reality, I began my walk on the quest to make something of myself that I could be proud of.
The First Few Weeks
The initial steps themselves were not something I took lightly. I did a good three days of research into sites that you could make money off of by writing online. My first sets were dominated by posting sites; what I mean by that is they want you to visit forums and such to type in comments and responses to make a relatively inactive site seem like it’s hopping. I am sure this works for a few people--it does seem like a safe way to go, and only includes you being able follow simple directions and such--some of them even allow spelling mistakes, slang and one-word posts, but those are few and far between. The rest require suitable, relevant comments with proper spelling and grammar. You visit the sites and post the pre-ordained amount of times, fulfilling the needs of the client, and the site pays you a very paltry penny per post. That was one of the reasons I chose to not go with these sites; another is that I do not do well in confined character limits. (You don’t say?!)
Though I did sign up for three of the sites that I looked into, I did not follow through with any of them due to my lack of interest and partially because of the fear-inducing things that I read about even the good ones.
I did find it fascinating that people’s need for money has brought them to the point where they start a blog and work like the dickens to make it popular--then either it does not gain their preferred popularity level or they no longer have time for it and that has created the need for sites like these. Talk about job creation.
Only two of the sites out of the original eighteen that I crawled over involved actually writing and not just commenting, and by learning some of the terminology they used I found some keywords and began to search for a whole new set of sites in addition to the set I had come across. The thought that I could actually do some serious writing for money instead of doing things like commenting on the nearest calendar holiday or discussing the hems of some ugly socks in a blurry photo gave me renewed hope.
From there I found a good bucketful of sites that claim to be able to make you money just by you posting your articles online. Personally I thought this was a magnificent idea when I first heard of it, and then that cynic in me was wondering just what the catch was. With more research of the reviews that other people have put online about their experiences with these article sites, I found that there sure is a catch in some of them--a catch that will hook you in the mouth and steal your words for good. That horrible terror of mine reared its head again as I read what seemed to be an unending amount of privacy policies, user agreements and author practices. Having taken law in grade twelve and passed it alongside an ability to decipher the goddamn point from umpteen billion sets of legal jargon sure helped me here as I noted to myself what the clear-cut rules for these sites are. It became very evident that it depends on which site you use and how you use it, which I was expecting but I was not expecting the vastness of the differences between some of them.
This point in time was something that made my head feel like it was going to explode with all of the information and warnings I was trying to cram in there within a few days. At this point (and from day one, actually) I was watching the days tick by and I still had not signed up for even an eighth of the sites that I had researched in one end and out the other. This was also when I made myself understand that no matter how good you are at writing--even if you could write circles around Shakespeare in sonnets--you are not going to gain instant success overnight. The majority of us out there have to work diligently for at least a good six months to make a name for themselves before they even start to see some of their investment return in the form of currency. Life’s turn of events has left me with very few options employment wise, and I resigned myself to the understanding that this was not going to be a solid source of income for quite some time. I added a few more local job sites to my arsenal that I watch everyday and send off my resume and cover letter to any opportunities that could work for me. Few and far between sure; but not unlike laundry, you need to start it before you can walk away and wait. I will admit that this did not make me feel any better, but doing it in the morning seemed to be the best time for me. Sitting with my coffee and laptop in a housecoat with head full of messy hair checking employment classifieds at nine in the morning is much less stressful for me than looking over the same information at night when I get that sinking feeling that yet another day has passed without me procuring something that will eventually become pay.
I took a break from that for one day and spent some time doing other things. That night, I found myself laying in bed with an closed eyes and an exhausted body that was being currently tormented by a mind that would not shut off in both ideas and guilt. I resolved that I would make the step the next day and start putting into action some of the tips that I had created for myself or learned from the plethora of blogs and review sites that I had visited on the topic of freelance writing. Some of the things I learned that seem to be universal were my first steps. I was most certainly still tentative, but nevertheless demanding that I begin to move foreword with my aspirations and the knowledge I had gained.
Step one was to actually sign up for the sites that I had chosen. No, let me rephrase that: step one was to create a username for myself. That username I then made into a new email account for myself, and then I went to the sites and finally signed up instead of just getting to the terms & conditions and then navigating away from the page. Armed with my list of links, I spent a good day just learning the different sites once I was registered. I did not upload anything I did not have to, and kept my profiles all but empty as I learned the pros and cons of my site choices and read their frequently asked questions. Signing up for these sites made me aware of a whole new slew of products and services that I was going to have to sign up for--and so I did. The next day I set out to compare what I had learned site versus site. That and yet more research had me taking the list that I had signed up for and whittling it down to under half.
A fork appeared in my research road at this time. Some of the other products and services I was going to need required research on my part as well, and I spent the equivalent of one day acquiring all of these. What sort of things were these? Things that I have really never had a use for: A Paypal account, another email address, and a Skype, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ account. Another was a blog, and it took me forever to decide which platform to use. (BEHOLD, Blogger!)
From there I began to seriously look into readership on each respective site and what they require of the content that you add. This was very eye-opening. A couple of them immediately appeared to be way more trouble than they are worth, so between that and the negative reviews I have read I crossed another two off my dwindling list. Reading into the fact that one of them will not pay me because I am Canadian not only enraged me (how un-North of me, eh?) but made damn sure that I will never post for them. The nice thing about that day is that one of the blogs that I had recently stumbled upon had an article that was updated to let me now that one of the sites that I had previously been interested in near the beginning had launched a counterpart site in another country that now made its services available to more than just Americans, so it was a break-even situation in that way. When I found a site that gave me a list of not only the sites I had become familiar (if not friendly) with, I discovered that the two at the top were not even on my list and a couple of the ones that seemed okay have squat all for page views. I am aware that it depends vastly on your content, but I have read in more than one place rather sad stories of someone seeking to avoid duplicating their content by posting on different sites and choosing the wrong site for the wrong topic. This resulted in huge loss of potential revenue for them--and bearing this in mind, I moved forward with my next set of steps.
These last few days have been the time for profile building and preparing content for myself. Receiving an acceptance letter from examiner.com after I spent so much time perfecting my submission form was for sure a great lift to my confidence… But when I researched into that and saw even more information about bad experiences and poor writers coupled with the fact that this ‘local’ aspect that they tagged me with is a city that I never visit due to how FAR AWAY IT IS from me, I almost backed out. Tired of doing so, I began to craft my bio and my first article as a “Vancouver Smartphone Examiner’. I had applied for Android Market Examiner, but whatever. I should not be feeling too proud of myself for getting onto that site according to many out there, but at least what I write will still have my name on it and the rights to my work are returned to me if I leave the site. They are expecting about two to three articles a week from me, and this is going to be the perfect test for me to see just how well I handle it. If nothing else, this is going to be the first step in building not only my skills but my name and writing portfolio. Massively hoping I will not regret it, I submitted not only my real name and an actual photo of me (EGAST, run! Flee in terror!!!) but a brief true bio and my first article.
From there I sat for a moment and thought to myself, I just submitted my first article. My next two need to be in before the end of the month (no big deal at all) and I realized that I have reached a point where I could actually stop for a second.
Don’t worry, it was only a second.
Off to Blogger to start writing my blog. Main driving force behind this? I finally applied for Google Adsense yesterday for my blog and lo an behold, I receive an email: my site needs more content. I laughed; it made total sense, there is virtually nothing on there right now save a fish gadget and the promise of content. Good to know, so here I am remedying that. Instead of writing myself some articles or heading over to the other sites that I really need to devote my time to, I have gone over to my blog for many reasons. They include (but are not limited to): creating content, getting some writing practice, and getting some form of release from all of this welling up in my chest and head. Certainly these are only a few of the things on my mind, but this is a lot easier to write about than the fountain of drama that I live with.
That in itself makes me wonder about why I am blogging about my stumbling steps in the freelancing pool instead of the things that haunt me daily. That in itself makes me interested in where this new ‘out-there’ me has drawn the line on the privacy issues that have always plagued me. I think there is an odd little egomaniac in me that sits there wringing her hands and assuming that everyone I’ve ever known is googling my name every moment of the day.
Then logic enters into the equation and I wonder just what it is that has me so terrified. One second I am thinking that I should even put up my art on this blog, the next I want to shut it down and go hide again. Then I say to myself, “The internet is no vacuum tube that will inexorably devour your work and spit it out with someone else’s name on it, Nicole! No, it’s a salivating hydra waiting to devour not just your stuff but your time and your soul!” …And then I stop drinking coffee for a bit.
Don’t worry, it’s just for a bit. ^.^
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