Grandma has earned over $3,000 in one month writing for Textbroker. She shares her secrets to success in her book, Grandma's Little Black Book. If you want to learn the Textbroker ropes, this is the book for you.).

Welcome to the Buffet    

On occasion I like to cook a lot. When I do cook a large quantity of food, I pull out the heating dishes, arrange the food buffet style and invite my guest to partake.

In addition to the food I provide the necessary plates, spoons forks, dishes, napkins, cups and beverage. My guests are free to enjoy and eat as much as their stomachs can hold. The one thing I will not do, however, is cut their meat and spoon feed them.Buffet

Getting to the Point

As a freelance writer, we have to learn to learn. We learn by example, we learn through mentors, and most of all, we learn by mistakes (plenty of mistakes). If you are considering writing as a full-time occupation you must resolve yourself to the fact you will make mistakes as you learn new skills, methods and even new content sites.

Here at NJFM I try to make that journey a little easier by sharing my experience, both successes and mistakes. I also started out wet behind the ears, but I spent quite a bit of time researching, learning, taking risk and making lots of mistakes.

Silence is Golden

I find that I’m getting an ever increasing number of e-mails from newbie freelance writers asking questions that only they themselves should answer. I get a lot of questions asking things like:

  • Should I have a blog?
  • What should I write about?
  • What’s the fastest way to improve my writing speed?
  • What are the most lucrative subjects to write on?
  • Is it okay if…?
  • (Oh, and the kicker…I know you wrote about it on your blog, but I didn’t feel like taking the time to go through it. I thought it would be quicker if I asked you directly…hint: My time is just as valuable as yours)

I’ve changed my approach on how I respond to such e-mails. In the past I used to take the time to individually respond to each one. Sometimes, because I get the same questions so frequently, I would write a blog post about it. I no longer do that because I’ve covered the topic already. This blog would become mighty boring if I continually wrote the same post over and over again.

Time to Walk Away

I don’t want newbies to feel discouraged but sometimes a little tough love is better than too much love (and spoon feeding). Let me tell you a little story that happened in my life (dim the lights and queue the music).

Once Upon a time…

Prior to the birth of our first child, my husband had never changed a diaper. Back when our son was first born I felt I had to be super Changing diapersmommy. I had to feed, bathe, change and meet my baby’s every need so the fact that my husband didn’t change diapers didn’t bother me.

One day the Come-to-Your-Senses Fairy stopped by and whacked me upside the head and said, “Girlfriend, what are you doing? Don’t you know the way you begin is the same way you’ll end?” I rubbed the quickly forming lump on my head and realized this ornery little fairy was right. Today it’s diapers, a few years from now its soccer practice. And,  what happens if we have several children? Whoa, time to switch gears.

The next time when my husband brought our son to me for a diaper change, I realized it was the perfect time for me to spend a couple hours shopping. I said to him, “I’ve got a few things to do. You change his diaper.”

He looked at me stunned and said, “I’ve never changed a diaper before.” I smiled at him and said, “I’ll give you a hint. If the baby’s face is covered you did it wrong.” With that, I walked out the door.

Father and Son BondingFather and Son

When I came back a few hours later, I found them both sound asleep on the couch. I checked my son’s diaper and it was clean and properly changed. I found that my husband was very capable of changing a diaper. I also realized that if I were around to instruct him on how “I” changed our son’s diaper, I was setting him up for failure (no two people accomplish one task the same way).

That day my husband proudly joined the ranks of dads who can change their child’s diapers.

Back to Freelance Writing

For those individuals who sent e-mails to me and have not had a response, what are you doing now? If you are sitting in a holding pattern paralyzed because I have not responded or given permission for you to take the next step, my suggestion to you is to find a traditional job to pay the bills while you work on building your confidence and decision making skills.

For those of you who have sent e-mails and decided to take the next step anyway even though you have not received a response from me, I applaud you. You have successfully passed my lesson in tough love. Your taking the next step (without permission) will carry you a lot further than if I had spoon fed the information to you.

Becoming a successful online freelance writer is all about reading, learning, making decisions and taking action (right or wrong).

More than One Way to Skin a Cat

Getting back to the diaper situation, one day when I was “napping,” my husband had to change our son’s diaper. I opened one eye to Catwatch the process in action.

I stifled a giggle as I saw him grab the my son’s left ankle and lift 95% of the baby’s little body in air in order to place a clean diaper underneath him. Our son apparently thoroughly enjoyed the upside down vertical suspension. He cooed and giggled and smiled through the entire process.

That showed me that not only is there more than one way of changing a diaper, but my son also learned the difference in diaper changing styles. There’s Mommy’s gentle way and Dad’s toss me in the air and land solidly on a clean diaper method. My son is now over 6’3” and a strapping young man, so I guess Dad’s diapering didn’t hurt him one bit.

Similarly, when it comes to freelance writing, there is more than one way to become a success. I only share the journey I took; hopefully you will learn from my journey and blaze your own path.

Happy eating! ;)


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Filed Under: FreelanceMotivationSelf EmployedWorking from HomeWriting

About the Author: Felicia A. Williams is a freelance writer and blogger. She spends the majority of her time with her family and writing. If she's not writing or commenting on NJFM, she's either outside smelling the roses or writing articles for one of her other sites which include Tidbits and Stuff, BLULOW, A Dose of Health and a few other sites/blogs scattered around the internet.

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  1. T. says:

    Hi Felicia!

    I’m posting in one of your classic post, because I was trying to find a way to leave a comment, and I needed to read your wisdom directed at newbies on your site.

    I’m new to your site, 8 months into writing as an internet content provider, and I am a 6 year vet of working from home (off and on).

    I found your blog via Hope Clark, and her newsletter, Funds For Writers. I’m loving your blog, I subscribed, and I am ready to learn and to share. I love your style, and your wit. I was looking for an email address to send you more personal thoughts. Do you give out an email address, or did I miss it on the site?

    In any case, I’m glad to have found your blog. Cheers!

  2. Emory says:

    Felicia:

    The phrase “to skin a cat” isn’t referring to a feline, but to a catfish because they have skin instead of scales. You may already know that but I thought I’d pass it along just in case. :)

    • Felicia says:

      Thank you Emory. No, I didn’t know that. I always thought it was an odd phrase, but now you’ve cleared things up for me (my daughter is also happy to know we’re not talking about cats). :)

  3. Kim McLendon says:

    PS I found this in my e-mail and thought it might interest some of you who use ad-words… apparently Google has dumped 100,000 of its advertisers based on some complaints. I am not sure what if any real impact this will have if any on Google Adwords income, but thought I’d mention it.

    http://www.wealthyaffiliate.com/blog/is-bing-gaining-momentum/

  4. Kim McLendon says:

    Thanks Felicia,

    Your kind words help. As for our building loss tragedy at least all the shop owners are sticking together as I knew we would. Our manager is a rock, making intercession for shop owners at every turn, hanging in there against fire investigators, insurance adjusters and etc. I have learned that the landlord really care about us too. I never realized that. They could have sold out, took the insurance money and sold the property, but they didn’t. There has been a lot of solidarity.

    The insurance will pay the owner of the building. It was next to impossible to get good insurance on our individual shops, a few people had it, but it’s not expected that it will cover more than a fraction of their individual losses. Some people said that there home-owners insurance had an off site storage clause, but most don’t.

    Our family and community have had a lot of hard knocks recently, but we are bouncing back. I am inspired by how tough some people are. I am trying to measure up, and it is very humbling. I feel like I am in slow motion, and I should be doing so much more right now. I hope my strength of character kicks in soon, cause I really really need it.

    Thanks for the advice on Key words. It helps a lot. I really am so thankful that I found your site before all this happened.

    Kim

  5. Kim McLendon says:

    Thanks Felicia, It is so nice of you to send me the links on your site that are most helpful. Yes I already read your e-book and found it very inspiring. I also read your article on SEO several times, and plan to re-read it again tonight… along with some other articles on that. It is the hardest part really to figure out how to shorten an article and keep repeating key words and phrases. I always try NOT to repeat myself, so I’m trying to remember to change that habit.

    Things are looking up I suppose. My burned out business site is having a sidewalk sale every weekend till they can rebuild our building, bigger and better, so it isn’t as dire as we thought, but still fairly dire. I am very relieved and thankful that the owners will re-build. Our manage has been on site, 24/7 since the fire Friday AM. He has not even gone home to change clothes. He’s working very hard to get the new building underway ASAP. Most of my week has been taken up with the details of all that, and trying to get into my business to see if there is anything we could salvage. There wasn’t but I carried out some worthless melted metal, and the only piece of equipment that was somewhat intact, just for the sake of it, since I spent all day trying to get in.

    I am fairly stressed but making progress towards my writing goals. It’s really a difficult time. Thank you a lot for your help. I just hope I can calm down enough to write well. I figure that rather than write 10 articles a day for Text Broker, as I first thought, I will work on quality and get those 10 four star articles in a row, as soon as possible. That looks like the ticket as Text broker. As you said, slow and steady is best… and I noticed what you said about producing quality even at a low price as well. I agree. That would be best.

    • Felicia says:

      I’m glad that things are looking up. As a former insurance broker, I’m hoping there was adequate insurance in place to help offset some of the loss.

      Settling down to write when so much is going on in your life is very, very difficult, but you seem to be making steps in the right direction. It is evident in your statement about working on the quickest and best way to earn the most at Textbroker. I commend you for that.

      As far as keywords go an repeating yourself, write the article naturally and then go back and re-read your work and swap out words for keywords. Usually words like it, they and them can usually be substituted for keywords (just don’t over do it). Try it a few times and you’ll get the hang of it.

      I always believe that what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger (builds character). I also always look for lessons when tragedy strikes. You very recently were hit with a huge character building situation with a lesson buried in there somewhere. However, through your stress, you seem to be looking for the silver lining (and finding it). I wish you the best. As a matter of fact, months from now, I’d love to hear your story of how you triumphed.

  6. Kim McLendon says:

    Thanks so much for this everyone. I see that Felicia has a great point. I also say kudos to her, for not basking her ego in glorying in an overly dependent fan club. A lot of people like to spoon feed people who don’t have a ghost of a chance. I know those people will ask and keep on asking, till you go nuts and they will never do a thing. It takes a lot of maturity to be able to say “Here’s the river, and a pamphlet on swimming, sink or swim.” I think that’s a fair offer. It’s more than most people will do, unless they have some scam or ulterior motive, and I can see that she doesn’t ask for a dime, so I know she’s legit.

    Really she shares very generously. All of you do, and there is so much great advice in these posts. A lot of people keep all their trade secrets closely guarded. Successful business people rarely want to teach others how to do their job. Everyone here has given me much more help than I would have expected. I appreciate it very much. The main reasons the scams get so much press is because no one will tell you how to do anything unless they are selling something that will rip you off one way or another. People like you who are making a living are too busy usually to tell you how to do it.

    I know you guys are busy, and I plan to get busy this week myself. I have already been thinking of all the spoon feeding I don’t have time to do with my family, and asking myself how much of that is absolutely necessary, so this article helped on a lot of levels.

    That said, I am a newbie to writing on line for pay… I am amazed that people pay for what I normally do for free. As a newbie, I’ll admit I am afraid, and just want reassurance that what I do will be well received. I think all any of us newbies want is attention and a pat on the back and a “you can do it.” However even Felicia in all her wisdom does not know if any given individual has what it takes. I am sure that a lot of great writers fizzle because they get discouraged, and some who don’t know and from but, eventually figure that out if they are determined enough. And I guess that’s why I am afraid, because if I fail I have no one to blame but myself. Plus you can’t fail as long as you keep trying.

    I know I wrote a couple of posts on here… mostly just saying I am here, and I want to learn. I just found this site a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve spent a lot of time this week and last trying to figure out how to use key words, and what I need to finish setting up PayPal. I started the process and my husband said I should link it to a separate account. So I need to set up a secondary bank account. The bank’s closed… grrrr…

    I have already started writing some articles though. Just to see how long it takes. It takes a couple of hours, but I run so long so far that I can split each article into two or three related articles. I need to work on learning to cover a topic in 500 words, but other than that, my time works out.

    looked up most everything mentioned on the site, and I feel ready to start. I’ve made a plan where I submit to Studio 101, and Text Broker (thanks Grandma. You have completely sold me on them.) I might try Demand Studios later… I am curious about Associated Content, and Helium and a few others and I am open to suggestions, but I am going to work with those two at first. I will keep trying till I get my elusive five stars. I figure I’ll keep it simple to start with.

    You know what? I am still scared. It is so illogical because the only thing I have to loose is my time, and I know my tendency to waste that anyway. It’s completely silly that I have a smattering of dread mixed with my excitement. I worry because it all sounds too easy, and because I have developed some bad work habits since I used to work 60 hours a week as a freelance artist. I need the money like yesterday. I mean really need it. I was trying to support my family on a weekend business I own, and then that caught fire last week… I am very very upset about that, and can’t settle down. If I hadn’t had this plan already, I don’t know what I would do. I am very upset as it is, but it would be much worse if Felicia hadn’t given me a plan… and that plan is on this site. I don’t have to ask her, I’ll just read the stuff. I do know though that I feel like I need a push, or a kick in the pants to actually apply and register and all. I am nervous about it. I am registered with the Examiner. I did that months ago, but then figured out I wasn’t going to make any money. LOL

    Anyway to everyone else who wants to do this; You have to read a little before you can write. 1. Read the blog. 2. Look up what you don’t understand using Google. 3. Set up a PayPal account. 4. Sign on with a couple of companies. 5. Start writing.

    • Felicia says:

      Kim, hopefully you already downloaded my ebook. It might help you with your fear. As far as covering a topic in 500 words, I have an old post on SEO and writing for the internet. Maybe it might be of help: http://www.nojobformom.com/2008/04/02/learn-about-seo-2/.

      In the meanwhile, if you need money right away, Demand Studios and Textbroker are two sites that will pay up front. Demand Studios pays twice a week and the money will come in handy. I’m sure you’ve read the posts on here about writing for DS, so be forewarned.

      Here are a few tips on how to get accepted at Demand Studios.

      You sound like you have a plan. Don’t let fear stand in your way.

  7. Oh I hear you on this one Felicia – though I’ve never changed a nappie – but then I’ve never had any kids either! I particularly find that people want to know every single step – down to weather they should have (for example I’m not making this up) – private registration on their first site or not! How would I know do whats best for your business and move on!

    Yeah doing almost anything is usually a good move in this business – thinking about doing something isn’t!
    Lis@Passive Income recently posted..Online Income – The Secret to Success Is …

  8. oceansideblogs says:

    Excellent, excellent comments Grandma! I especially like your last sentence. Very wise words indeed.

  9. Grandma says:

    Sometimes I feel that many people do not give writing the credibility that it deserves as a career. To be a writer, it is necessary to have not only top-notch language skills, but also the ability to communicate clearly and effectively. Doing this requires high level thinking ability as well as an inner ability to translate those thoughts into understandable language for the “common” (not as educated) mind.

    Many will try, but few succeed to any great degree in their freelance writing careers. On top of the language skills, life experience matters. Having experience allows the writer to rise above the ordinary and almost have an eagle’s eye view of a topic. Self-education is wonderful and can be just as good or even better than the piece of paper that says one has completed a list of coursework. Being a writer really does require high level thinking ability in addition to basic grammar, spelling and language use skills. This comes easily for some, not for others.

    These things can be learned over time; nothing good comes quickly unless you win the lottery by chance, and even that may not be good in the long run. Study writing thoroughly, as if you were learning a skilled trade, so you know and understand every aspect of the trade before expecting success. Add a dose of luck, like finding a place as nice as Textbroker for your initial writing efforts along the way.

    Do the required work to complete a task. This applies to writing as it applies to any other thing in life. Read, understand, and take the time to explore the arena before you jump into the ring. Before asking questions, see if you can find the answers on your own. Then, if you still have questions, ask someone with more experience to clarify if what you are thinking is the answer.

    Value time like gold, both yours and that of the experienced ones. Why can’t you take a few hours to invest in research about your own career? Read all the blog entries…have a cup of coffee and relax while you learn. Artists learn techniques by studying the masters; writers can do the same.

  10. Kristi says:

    Felicia,

    You are so right that there are many ways to become successful as a freelance writer, internet marketer or even an internet marketing writer (as I like to call myself). However, you have to be ready and willing to take MASSIVE ACTION and you can’t just sit by and wait to be spoon feed. Like you know, everyone has a different style and what works for one may or may not work for another. I learned to take a bit from everyone and formulate my own winning strategy and it seems to be working quite well for me. My advice to the newbies, is to take action and take it now and don’t be afraid to make mistakes because you will. Only will you fail can you succeed!

    Kristi

  11. kidgas says:

    Wonderful post. I also loved the analogy since we have six kids and I changed my fair share of diapers as well. We have tried very hard as parents to raise independent children. They are home-schooled through high school with a focus on reading and math. We figure that if you can read and understand language, you can learn anything.

    When you get to high school, you are responsible for doing your own laundry. We will check homework and offer assistance if asked but the expectation is that you are responsible and get it done correctly.

    Sounds like your style is very similar and you are trying to raise independent bloggers here as well. Strong work.
    kidgas recently posted..August Is Best AdSense Month for 2010

    • Felicia says:

      Kidgas, my hat is off to you and your wife for home schooling 6 kids! When I had my children I hadn’t even considered it. However, there I times when I look back that I wish I had home schooled my kids.

  12. Prerna says:

    Hi Felicia,
    Really like your approach -fosters independence and creative thinking! Also, Like Christina’s FAQ idea.. Have seen quite a few blogs use that.
    In addition, I think that now what newbie writers should do is simply download your FREE ebook. Its free, useful and loaded with everything they’ll ever wanna know. :-)
    Prerna recently posted..A Free eBook for New and Aspiring Online Writers!

  13. Kathy says:

    Very eloquent, as always. And you’re correct, being sucessful at working from home takes the ability to show some initiative and look for information on your own. Cheers!
    Kathy recently posted..Getting ready for the cold weatherwithout wearing a coat!

  14. Christina Crowe @ Cash Campfire says:

    Hi Felicia,

    I loved the analogy you used! I often get the same emails. Generally I just link the articles where I answer the question. However, this can be time consuming. I was thinking about making a FAQ sheet. I might end up doing that and then adapt your tough love method.

    Great read!
    Christina Crowe @ Cash Campfire recently posted..Finding Motivation- How to Adapt a Routine

  15. Deanna says:

    I also get a lot of e-mails from new writers asking questions that they could easily find the answer to on my blog. It’s like they think I am holding out on some special information that I don’t share on the blog but might share in an e-mail. I have to give you credit for ignoring those e-mails because I haven’t been able to do that yet. But I agree with you, if they can’t find the information they need by researching, as you and I and thousands of other freelancers have, than maybe freelancing isn’t the right job for them. Great post!
    Deanna recently posted..Free e-Book About Becoming a Freelance Writer

  16. Crystal says:

    Enjoyed your story immensely, Felicia – what a great analogy! Thanks for another top-notch post and for sharing a bit of your home life with us.
    Crystal recently posted..The Best Resource for Budding Freelance Writers – and its FREE!

  17. oceansideblogs says:

    Felicia:

    I, for one, would like to thank you for the tough love. Point taken.

    Sometimes a roadblock on your path can be an opportunity to analyze whether your current path is even the “write” one for you. There are so many online writing opportunities, and each one of us has to determine for ourselves what we want our writing career to consist of. At the end of the day, hopefully each one of us can be proud of the path that our writing has taken us on.

    Thank you for being such a great teacher. You don’t just give us the answers; you make us learn them for ourselves so that we remember the lesson.

  18. Will says:

    Here’s my advice to newbies:

    1. You are going to make mistakes
    2. You are not going to get rich overnight
    3. Take action (just do it!)
    Will recently posted..Panthers 15- Titans 7