You’re Smarter Than You Think You Are

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Starting your own business and becoming an entrepreneur can be a terrifying prospect.

While we’d all like to use our talents to earn money, actually finding the motivation and time to sift through all the billions of gigabytes of digital information available can make even the most committed individuals want to hide under the covers.

I started this journey five years ago, and although it’s been a little scary at times, it’s also been invigorating. If you have a dream of sharing your passion with others, then it’s time to start now. 

Here’s my story. I hope it inspires some of you to take the leap and be the best you can be.


I’ve always considered myself a little above-average when it came to communication skills.

I like to talk—probably a little too much at times. I like the interaction with people and really enjoy sharing experiences.

But I really love to write. Like many before me, my love of the written word started with my first pad of paper and ballpoint pen.

I’d write about anything and everything. I was definitely teacher’s pet in every English class—not because I needed the help with my grades, but because I wanted to learn as much as I could about creating stories people would want to read.

Through each school year, I was the geeky one.When the other kids moaned about the essay portion of the final exam counting for 50% of their grade, I rejoiced. As long as I had the chance to write out my answers, I had it made!

Well, I took business classes in high school to learn the fundamental skills I’d need to work in an office, but my dream was to become a journalist AND some day write a book.

Like a lot of childhood dreams, mine got derailed by an overly critical Creative Writing teacher I had in my senior year of high school. While I was accustomed to reading the rave reviews about my work from teachers throughout my school career, this one was different. Every single short story, every poem, and every assignment I turned in were met with harsh criticism and disinterest.

I was mortified! “Had all my teachers been lying? Were they just praising my work because I was their favorite? Now, what was I supposed to do?”

I decided to put “Ms. Creative Wrong” to the test. For a writing assignment, I submitted an award-winning poem I wrote in fifth grade. It had been a class assignment when I was 10, and my teacher liked it so much, she submitted it to the school magazine. I won $50.

Fast-forward to my twelfth-grade recycled poem…and I got my one-and-only “A” of the course. I was convinced I HAD a gift and LOST it, so I gave up on my dream of becoming a writer.

Have I lost YOU yet? Or does my story sound something like your own?

As you may have guessed, that dream was resurrected (even if it was 35 years later.)

“People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves, they have the first secret of success.”       -Norman Vincent Peale

I went on to become an administrative assistant (see, those business courses did come in handy!) I never stopped writing, only I was invisible when I did it. For years, I’d been ghostwriting articles for my company’s marketing and advertising campaigns—I just never got credit. I thought I was okay with that, and I was until “I wasn’t.”

My nephew, a brilliant millennial who took a leap of faith, moved to NYC without a job or a place to live, and who is now a wildly successful videographer, came home to visit. He also composes music, plays in a band, and spent some quality time writing a graphic novel.

He’s read some of my “stuff” and has always encouraged me to pursue my dream of becoming a professional writer. After years of staying in the background, my confidence really took a hit. I actually heard the words, “But I’m not smart enough to write a book” come out of my mouth when he questioned why I hadn’t followed my passion.

While I didn’t realize it at the moment, a few days later, I started remembering some of the things my nephew mentioned. One word, in particular, stood out…FREELANCE.

Finding Motivation:

I honestly wasn’t even sure what a freelance writer was. I’d heard the term before but had no clue just how big the industry had gotten. I really was more curious than anything when I sat down at my computer five years ago and started to see what was out there. I hadn’t intended to launch my second career at that moment, but that’s what happened. 

This is what started me on my way to becoming a successful freelance writer…

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Yep, my first Google search for “freelance writing opportunities” gave me:

2,570,000 results!!!

I thought I hit the “Mother Lode!” I was not prepared for such an unbelievable number of opportunities from one simple search. Obviously, this was a “thing,” and I needed to start learning immediately.

The wonderful thing about being a freelance writer today is that the tools of the trade are at my fingertips. Anything and everything I want to learn about can be found online. I’ve got to admit that in the early stages of my career, with so much information available, I quickly became overwhelmed. I had no idea where to start, what I was getting myself into, or who to trust.

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Educational and Business Tools:

The best advice I can give you is that you can’t start a business alone. I’m not suggesting you take on a partner or hire employees (yet.) I believe it’s important to seek out reputable companies that offer the services and tools your start-up business needs. 

Technology can feel like a runaway train where you’re always trying to catch up. In the five years I’ve been freelancing, I’ve often struggled to understand how to manage social media, cyber-security,  and digital marketing.

Working with amazing companies like HP Business Solutions and HP Life, I’ve had opportunities to learn the fundamental skills I needed to start my own business through coursework, such as Basics of Finance, Business Communications, Social Media Marketing, Selling Online, and even Setting Prices. The best part…It’s all free of charge

In addition, they have developed an initiative to bring together groups of global entrepreneurs to “share ideas, issues, and solutions to make businesses more successful.” This provides worldwide networking opportunities to grow your business.

While HP Life is getting you up to speed online, HP Business Solutions can provide the equipment and accessories you need to get the job done. Their state-of-the-art technology and reputation for high-quality products were all the reassurance I needed when I bought my HP laptop and printer, and I’ve never been disappointed.

Find Your Niche:

As I said at the beginning, I didn’t think I was smart enough to be a freelance writer. What I quickly discovered was that I had many unique work and life experiences that I could share through my writing.

By establishing a niche (or several) for topics I was familiar with (mine has been in the home improvement industry, and now, freelance writing), you’ll be better equipped to target your specific audience and create a following.

Build Your Brand:

This involves establishing a platform through website development, blog and content creation, and a social network presence. This is no easy task.

After a lot of stops and starts, I discovered that WordPress offered a package of tools to fit every branding requirement. With pre-packaged themes, tutorials, and a blogging community willing to answer any question, you’ll have a website up-and-running in no time.

Blogging for fun or for financial gain will give you the best opportunity to practice your craft and improve your writing. Initial packages are free, so you’ll have the time to learn how things work before committing to significant expenditures. 

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Social network sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram can all drive traffic to your website. If your ultimate goal is to monetize your blog or other services, you must be active on social media. It’s impossible to keep up with this ever-changing world, so pick just a few sites and schedule posts in advance. This will save you the time and frustration of daily posting.

WordPress Plug-ins also allow you to link your website to your social media pages, so your published post is automatically sent to your network. Pretty cool, right?

Getting Your Feet Wet

Even though I’d been writing for most of my life, I wasn’t really prepared for how different it was to write for the web. Everything has a unique format that takes some time to learn. Blog posts, for example, have a more conversational tone and short paragraphs. (My apologies to my fifth grade English teacher who taught me that there was no such thing as a single-sentence paragraph. There is now.)

You may be surprised, but my first 100 posts were done through a content mill. Not always known for having the best ethics, content mills offer an inexpensive option for companies to obtain articles, blog posts, and website content. In turn, they take a commission for every order and pay writers extremely low per-word fees.

I thoroughly researched content mill companies before finally jumping into the game. I chose Textbroker to start my freelancing career and will be forever grateful for the experience. 

There is no charge to become a member, but you are required to take a test to gauge your writing abilities. A “star rating” is used from 2 to 5. The higher the rating you achieve, the more writing opportunities will be available and the more money you’ll earn per word. While 1.8 cents per word may not seem like much, the first time you get paid to write, you’ll feel like you made a million bucks!

The open order topics are varied, so you’ll be able to write about things you know or test your research capabilities as you try to find your niche.

Unlike some unsavory mills, the Textbroker team truly cares about their clients and their authors. The first few orders you produce will be reviewed for grammar, punctuation, and content. They’ll give you suggestions on how to improve (there are specific rules you must follow), and they even provide free classes to help increase your star rating and earning potential through direct client orders. 

Sales and Marketing:

If you’re going to be a professional “anything,” you need to develop a sales and marketing plan. For freelance writing, this involved learning how to sell my skills through pitches. 

Much like the old-fashioned, face-to-face interview, those skills must now translate into a digital footprint. Many jobs are done remotely where employers and employees never meet. It took me a while to learn the new rules for finding clients. I enrolled in courses that taught me how to pitch clients, build a portfolio of sample work, and even establish price structures.

Online job boards are often the best places to find work that matches your niche. To get the first shot at higher-paying opportunities, you may need to pay for a membership, but the return on investment can be significant.

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Getting Paid

You may not always have a say on how you’d like to be paid, but when you do, the easiest way I’ve found is through PayPal. Establish a free account with an email address and password. It’s a safe system that protects your privacy while allowing you to transfer funds to your personal bank account. International payments are no trouble—for a small fee foreign currency is exchanged for USD. You can even create invoices right in the PayPal system so you can get paid quickly.

Are you afraid to take that first step? Don’t be. You can move as fast or as slow as you want. This is your business, so you’re the boss!

It’s taken me several years to break into the freelance writing business, and I’m committed to being a life-long learner. The industry is constantly changing and evolving, and when it does, I want to be ready.

“It’s not the destination, but the journey that matters most.” -Wizard of Oz

A plaque on my desk reminds me of this every time I sit down to write. So far, my journey has been life-altering. How about yours?

You really are smarter than you think! Get started today.

Has my story inspired you to start your journey? Have you already taken those first steps? I’d love to hear where your path has taken you. Won’t you share your experiences in the comments section below?

Enthusiastically,

Debbie


Giving Your Vision A Voice. Let me help you express your message.

Now offering Business Writing and Virtual Assistant Services. Visit my Contact Page to get started today.

If You Don’t Ask, You Won’t Get

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Female freelance writers earn more per hour than men doing the same work until they reach $100 per hour and then men consistently outearn them. The main reason? The women undervalue their experience and skills.

While it’s not a subject that’s often tackled in the cyber world, gender isn’t necessarily the issue, a lack of confidence is often the reason women fall behind in earning power.

I’ve worked in the construction industry for years and have often struggled with the stereotypes related to the field. And while it’s taken years to break through some of the barriers I’ve encountered simply because of my sex, I’ve realized that some were actually built by me.

When I first started freelancing, like when I started working in construction, I felt lucky to have found clients that were willing to pay for my writing and settled for mere pennies a word. I always thought I was a pretty good writer and would often compare my work to others’. It didn’t take long to figure out that something was wrong.

Whether it was the large number of candles on my birthday cake or the fact that I was solely responsible for the success or failure of my freelance writing business, I quickly realized that only I could change things.

I had to stop shortchanging my talents. I had to believe in myself if I wanted to earn what I was worth. I’m proud to say that I’ve overcome my early insecurities and now run a successful freelancing business. You can too if you:

  • Practice, practice, practice. The more you write, the more comfortable you’ll feel with your craft.
  • Don’t let yourself make excuses for not pursuing your dreams. You’re never too old or too feminine or too inexperienced to tell your stories.
  • If you don’t ask, you won’t get. Why do men make more money freelancing? Because they ask for it. Take a deep breath, and ask. You’re worth it!

Now that you’re earning more money with your freelance business, you’ll want to find an easy way to get paid. Take a look at Invoice2go and their new, free invoice template generator. It’s a fantastic resource for anyone interested in digital invoicing. Give it a try today!


Giving Your Vision A Voice. Let me help you express your message.

Now offering Business Freelance Writing and Virtual Assistant Services.

Visit my Contact page to get started today.

How To Write Faster, Even If You Procrastinate

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While I’ve spent many a late night wondering just how to do this, I still haven’t found the magic potion.

I’m intrigued by Julie Neidlinger’s post from CoSchedule Blog on the subject and am seriously going to try some of her suggestions. I’ve always considered myself a procrastinator, but I honestly recognize tendencies toward being a list-maker and a productivity-focused writer too. Julie provides tips for every style that I’m hoping will give me to boost I need to get more done. How about you?

 How To Write Faster, Even If You Procrastinate

Procrastination seems like such an ideal solution for creating a better today. Of course, that means the next day is rushed, stressful, and panic-ridden, so it’s not that great of a solution. Not every writer is a procrastinator, though. Some are very orderly and regimented. Some are super-focused on being productive. Whichever kind of writer you might be, you all have something in common: you’d like to be able to write faster.


Giving Your Vision A Voice. Let me help you express your message.

Now offering Business Freelance Writing and Virtual Assistant Services.

Visit my Contact page to get started today.

7 Freelance Writing Myths Exposed

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Sadly, when you’re new to any business (especially freelance writing), it’s challenging to know just what to believe. I remember searching the internet five years ago wondering if I was good enough to write for money, committed enough to learn about my new career path, and savvy enough to avoid being scammed.

I’m here to tell you that if you’re just starting out and worrying about the same things I did, STOP!

Writing definitely takes time. Writing definitely takes diligence. Writing definitely takes commitment. But with the amount of information available on this very topic, you absolutely can earn money with your skills.

Take a look at this re-blog by Elvis Michael at Blogging Pro for some solid advice on the subject. Elvis uncovers so many of the myths that I bought into early on in my writing career. Take a short cut…understand what’s real and what’s not, and then jump right in!

7 Freelance Writing Myths Exposed

Freelance writing myths are a dangerous thing. They have the power to stop many from achieving greater success and prevent new freelance writers from even bothering in the first place. Let’s discuss some of the many, many false ideas and assumptions that plague the freelance writing world today.


Giving Your Vision A Voice. Let me help you express your message.

Now offering Business Freelance Writing and Virtual Assistant Services.

Visit my Contact page to get started today.

36 Killer Writing Tips From Stephen King

Written by Millionaire’s Digest Staff Member: Amber M. -Contributor, Motivational Speaker, Founder & Owner of Anotsojadedlife 1. “Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”

via 36 KILLER WRITING TIPS FROM STEPHEN KING (10 min read) — The Millionaire’s Digest

Stephen King is considered “The Master” for a reason. I love #35. A must-read for every writer or wanna-be writer out there.


Giving Your Vision A Voice. Let me help you express your message.

Now offering Freelance Business Writing and Virtual Assistant services.

Visit my Contact page to get started today.

You don’t have to be a great writer to be a successful writer

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Take a look at Elan Cain’s latest post. If you’ve ever worried that you’re not good enough or experienced enough or skilled enough to become a freelance writer, Elan provides some honest advice on what it really takes to be a successful writer.

You don’t have to be a great writer to become a successful writer

Giving Your Vision A Voice. Letme help you express your message. Visit my Contact page to get started today.

7 Guaranteed Ways to Write Faster and Get More Clients

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Re-blogged from Elna Cain

I couldn’t wait to share this post from Elna Cain. She shows great insight into a problem I believe many writers struggle with…how to write faster. Take a look and let me know if you’ve found even more ways to handle this problem.

7 Guaranteed Ways to Write Faster and Get More Clients

For some reason, I don’t see writing faster and producing poor content as mutually exclusive, but I know you’re probably thinking, if I’m writing faster, will I still be able to produce memorable and awesome content?

The answer is, Yes.

Writing faster will only help you produce even better content than before. It will make your writing flow better, read better, and relate better.


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Zeroing in on Your Business Identity — What’s Your Positioning?

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Excellent re-blog from Copyblogger.com:

Zeroing in on Your Business Identity — What’s Your Positioning?

With so many out there doing exactly the same things you are, it’s important to stand out in the market. What makes you unique? What stories can only you share? How can you help provide solutions better than anyone else?

This article will give you some tips and insights into how to position yourself for success.


Giving Your Vision A Voice. Let me help you express your message.

Visit my Contact Page to get started today.