When life gives you lemon then give you a hell of a fight to make your lemonade.
This morning The Love Life of an Asian Guy posted this picture on facebook with the following commentary:
This is one of the most powerful images I’ve seen in years.
You’re peeking directly into the laboratory of white supremacy. A system that will send TWO men in full riot gear to arrest ONE Black woman for one purpose: give her a criminal record.
If she is charged (most Black protestors are) for participating in a peaceful protest, she’ll be forced to disclose her new criminal record on ALL job applications and applications for rent.
That one small change can limit where she works, how much she can get paid, and where she can rent.
The implications are LIFE CHANGING. This act of arresting peaceful Black protestors is SYSTEMATIC RACISM AT WORK, BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES.
“You’re a Harvard Law graduate? 7 years of experience? Nice! Ooh, it looks like…
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One of the worst things that could happen to you as a freelancer is to be scammed out of your hard earned money. You have to be vigilant. You can be scammed by both a freelance website or someone p…
One of the worst things that could happen to you as a freelancer is to be scammed out of your hard earned money. You have to be vigilant. You can be scammed by both a freelance website or someone posing as a client on these sites. There are sites that scam both the writer and the client by claiming the writer violated one policy or another, or that the client defrauded them so the writer can’t be paid. That is their way of trying to lay the blame at the feet of the client, but there are cases where upon investigation the writer learns the client was very happy with, and paid for the work.
Warning: Stay away from Freelancer.com. Other freelancers’ horror stories with them should be enough to keep you away. Do your research. The fact that they require freelancers to pay a fee to join their site should be enough to keep people away, but I guess to each his own. The way I see it – If a site is going to request users to pay a fee to use their platform to find work, then it must be through a model where they withdraw their fees after the freelancer has earned money through their site. To request payment upfront is, in my eyes, a shady business practice.
You Can Make Good Money with Freelance Sites
Irrespective of the many advice from other writers to stay away from content farms and sites such as Guru and UpWork (formerly oDesk), you can make very good money on these sites. You just need to have your wits about you, and not work for pennies. That said, I must acknowledge that depending on the job, some freelancers take penny jobs just to get a few positive reviews under their belts. If that’s the technique that you’ll have to use to get your foot in the door, then go for it, but do not allow yourself to become a slave to cheap clients. Quality work deserves quality pay.
Slaving away at a 500 word article for $2 or a 1000 word piece for $5 or $10 while someone from the US would get paid $15 to $25 for the same 500 word article, or $50 or more for a 1000 word article is simply crazy. You have to set some standards for yourself.
There are clients who actually go off boasting about the great piece of work they got at a mega cheap rate from some international freelancer. For their bird feed money they demand a well researched, well written, authentic piece of work. Please do not allow people to take advantage of you. Whether you’re a freelancer from the Caribbean, Philippines, India, Pakistan or the African Continent, once you’re good at what you do and provide quality work, you deserve to be paid at the rate earned by freelancers from countries such as the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK. Sure you can price your work lower to gain an advantage, but do not sell yourself short.
Do Not Be Intimidated by Freelance Writers from First World Countries
During your search for freelance work you will note that writers from these developed nations often put down freelancers from other nations. you’ll also note that the better paying sites only accept writers from these countries. Do not allow yourself to be intimidated by freelancers from anywhere. Bear in mind that many of the people who are making mega strides in these first world countries are immigrants from your own nation. It is just a case of superb talent migrating from one place to another. Irrespective of where you’re from, if you’re superb at what you do, you’re simply superb.
With the access to a global workforce that the entrepreneurial world now enjoys, for many it’s really about finding great talent from anywhere. It’s all about poising yourself for the opportunities and going in for the kill. As an international freelancer, you’ll have to get certain things right. These include having proficient writing skills in US English and/or UK English. Having an idea of the culture and nature of the audience for which you’re being asked to produce the work is also a huge plus. It all takes time, and you learn something everyday. You’ll have to creep before you can walk and run.
Have you been scammed by or on any freelance website? Share your story and check out one freelancer’s horror experience on Freelancer.com here.
Whether you’re old or new to freelance writing (or whatever skills you bring to the freelance world), it’s a dog eat dog world out there. Protect yourself from scammers. In this post, I will pay particular attention to applying for jobs on the freelance site Guru, but the advice extends to working on other sites such as oDesk – now Upwork.
There are scammers posing as clients on freelance sites, posting multiple jobs seeking freelancers who can write on several topics, and the work is ongoing. I especially see these on Guru. The suspicious thing about these posts are that: 1) the poster has no profile picture, 2) is just about always listed as being from the US, 3) have no payment history, 4) the articles are time sensitive, and 5) the job is good for you if you want long term work.
Freelance Writing Jobs Red Flags
If you apply for one of these jobs and is contacted by the potential client who leaves you his Skype ID asking you to add him for further discussions. My advise…. Walk Away or Proceed with Caution. If you do add them and communicate over Skype, let them know the work transaction has to take place on Guru. Chances are they will walk away. If not, and they ask for a fresh writing sample to prove you are suitable for the job, once again I say, walk away. If they dare suggest that you write and get paid at the end of the week… I don’t think I need to tell you that you’d be out of your mind to accept.
Stipulate that there must be an upfront part payment, and do not start the job until that money reaches your account. If you’re timid about making such demands, stick to the Guru platform which is a much safer bet for getting paid. I have seen reviews where clients complain of being ripped off by Guru who did not refund their money and then block them, so some may really prefer not to deposit their money there in the first place.
However, scammers are wily and persistent. Do not fall for certain tricks. The potential client may go as far as having you sign a contract and ask for your Payoneer or Paypal account to which payments are to be sent. Don’t get starry eyed. They know the modes of payment available to your country and will state that they pay via so and so. I advise that you walk away, demand a down payment or maintain that the transactions take place via Guru’s platform. If you proceed outside of the platform, then understand that once you’ve submitted the piece to the client, there’s really no guarantee he’ll uphold his part of the commitment and pay up. In his shoes there’s also really no guarantee to him that once he sends part payment that you’ll do the job. You’re both taking a chance on each other with the hope that you’re both honest people.
The people behind the scamming may be fellow writers who pass on their work to you and get it done for free while they collect. It may be agencies who win multiple contracts and decide to exploit writers by getting the work done at no financial cost or research and writing time to them. Scammers are especially known to come from countries such as India, Pakistan, Kenya, and Nigeria. Scamming sites who rip off workers and clients seem to be especially operated through countries such as the Ukraine, Kenya, the Philippines, and India, but may have a US address listed as their base. At the end of the day, scammers can be from anywhere so just keep your eyes open.
Save yourself the headache and research a company before joining. Read reviews to learn the experience of other freelance writers. Not everyone will have a bad experience, but as you may realize from reviews, for some, it’s just a matter of time before scam freelance sites make off with their money. Usually when they have a sizable amount to cash out.
Freelancer.com Scam – Part I : How $10 cost me $14000 – Among other misgivings and apathy of Freelancer.com Staff
As a freelancer, it is always best to research a company and read reviews on them before joining. I suggest that you avoid sites such as Freelancer.com who require you to pay a fee to join their site and access work. My policy is… Charge your fees to my account and withdraw it when I have earned money with you. This blogger’s story is just one of the many examples of the horrors freelancers experience at the hands of scamming freelance sites.
People, even those who seem non-ambitious, have a dream – a desire to excel and own their place in this world. If we should tap into the most secret thoughts of the homeless and those deemed mentally unstable, we would find that even they dream of a better life for themselves. Some may consider it a fairytale dream, but is it?
“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.” -T.E Lawrence
What is a Dream?
Dreaming is the act of visualizing something in our subconscious mind. We do not have to be in the state of sleep to dream. Our subconscious mind never goes to rest. It keeps churning even while we are wide-awake. Those thoughts of self-improvement and self-advancement that occupy your mind while wide awake… those burning desires that you have, but set aside with thoughts of “I am not good enough” or “I can’t do it”… those are your dreams, and they are no fairytale.
We are all dreamers, but we are not all dream chasers. There is a fundamental difference between the two. The latter speaks to those who strive to turn the scenario they visualize in their subconscious mind into reality. The former does nothing but dream. The chief differences between those who achieve their goals and those who do not, are the belief in one’s self, and the will to make a dream a reality.
Every excuse you present for not pursuing your dreams can be countered with the examples of no less than five individuals who were in a similar to worst position, but made it because they dared not only to dream, but to also believe they could achieve it.
The Perfect Combo for Dreamchasers
Self-belief along with drive and determination create the perfect combo package for dreamchasers. Without action (drive and determination), self-belief is like a valuable, but discarded wheel. Without the force of push or pull, a wheel remains motionless. The same is true of your dreams. Once you believe in yourself, your next step is to think of ways to start applying some force to your dream to get it moving. What is your dream? What do you need to achieve it? Where can you get the things you need? Where are the places you need to go? Whom do you need to contact?
Self-belief kicks in at various stages of our lives. Even very successful people struggle with self-belief at times, but their drive and determination help them to press on. Ask yourself the relevant questions. Take the relevant actions. Put it all down on paper then make a plan of action. Set a timeframe, and start small.
Lets face it… Not all of us have the gift or the patience of nit picking our own work to find all the errors and correct them. We often wish that our first draft would be good enough, and save us the hassle of having to go back through with a fine tooth comb.
Editing may not be your strong point, but as a professional writer it is entirely necessary. As a matter of fact, the mistakes can be so blatant you can’t help but wonder if you really penned it while you were in your right mind. Here are a few guidelines that will help you go through and get the editing done in the shortest time possible.
1. Take a Break Before Editing
Every so often, we miss some pretty simple errors because in our mind we know what should be on paper. We end up reading the text in that manner even though something is amiss. It is almost like a mind game. Our mind allow the eyes to see what our brain knows should be on paper.
Taking a break before you edit allows you to be more objective when you read through the text. Do something that is unrelated to writing for a few minutes. Go for a short walk, listen to some music or just do something around the house. That will help you clear your mind so that when you read through, it is more like having the text talk back to you. It is less likely then for you to overlook errors such as missing words, misspelled words, poor grammar and poor choice of words/tone.
2. Print Out or Copy and Paste Your Work in Another Word Processor
Seeing your own work in print seems to automatically bring out the inner editor. You immediately start to scan through and read it in a more critical manner, much the same as another editor would. This also happens when you opt to edit in a word processor other than the one in which the original typing was done. Lets say you typed up your article in Microsoft Word, moving it over to Google Docs or another processor seems to help with the editing. It is almost like your brain and eyes become more objective when the same text is viewed in a different setting.
3. Check for Synonyms
Choice of words makes all the difference between an excellent piece and a mediocre piece of writing. As a writer, a thesaurus should be one of your best friends. It helps you to choose alternative words that will give your writing a flourish rather than leaving it reading like a BLAH. Read through your piece, and as you go along select words that you are not so comfortable with, words that if replaced would give your sentence more life and appeal.
Microsoft Word comes with its own thesaurus that you can use along with your own. Simply right click on the word you wish to replace, and it will give you a list of suggestions. If you find nothing there, then by all means use your own thesaurus or even one of the many available online.
A word of caution: Do not get carried away. By this we mean that you should not be overly sophisticated and use complex words throughout your text. It must still be readable and appealing to your readers. People just can’t be bothered with pieces that are complex and does not read well, because the writer was too caught up in using “big” words.
4. Check Your Use of Similes and Metaphors
While similes and metaphors add to the story line and create interest, overuse or misuse can totally ruin it for what would have been an excellent piece. Use similes and metaphors appropriately by ensuring they remain within the context of your description. Do not use metaphors to compare something to (for example) a truck then later on go on to compare that same object/idea to a crane. Do not mix metaphors. It may confuse your readers and take away from your storyline. You also need to take care not to use flashy similes, as these may end up taking center stage to the idea/thought you actually wanted to convey.
Read your work aloud and really listen to yourself. Use your dictionary to check for word meanings that you are unsure of, and replace those that just don’t seem to work for the piece. You would be amazed just how often we misuse words because we thought they mean one thing, when they actually mean another.
If you read the blog “The Crafting of a Freelance Writer – Childhood Experiences” you already know of bits of my childhood that helped to craft my writing skills. This is the piece I started out with before my wandering mind side tracked my efforts and I ended up writing that piece.
The same experiences mentioned in that blog on freelance writing also helped to nurture my love for public speaking. I must say, even though I was a very shy child I was always a deep thinker with keen ears. My fascination with people having lively discussions helped me to learn a lot. It also fostered my desire to be able to stand up in front of a crowd or participate in discussions and deliver my thoughts/points in an effective and captivating manner.
I have delivered some pretty memorable speeches, and some not so memorable ones. It’s all in the life of a speaker so you just do your little “Oh No” dances in secret and get on with life. Yeah right!!! Laughing and making fun at my own failures has really been helpful, but *** Oh My Goodness*** if nervousness would just take a pair of wings and fly away…
Digging a Hole in the Ground During a Speech
I can remember not one, not two, but at least three occasions when nervousness caused my feet to literally go on a digging expedition while I was delivering a speech. On each occasion, I had to try to maintain the control in my voice so that those in the audience would not catch on, but those sitting behind me were treated to a display of my “not so happy feet” staging a rebellion.
Based on feedback, my voice does not show my discomfort as much I thought it did. That’s good, because if my voice cracks badly it is going to be “Hallelujah” for that speech and quite a fight to get back on track.The only people who came away knowing I was nervous were those who witnessed the trembling/dancing feet. My hands would be at it too, but once I had a lectern or some such to rest on I had some coverage. Nervousness is my nemesis, and it just wont go away.
The Day I was Floored
The annoying thing about having this issue with nervousness is that I can never tell when it is going to hit. I’ll be there delivering with all the confidence in the world and then it just makes it move – unannounced. That is what happened on the day that my nemesis really floored me.
I was a member of the drug awareness group in my parish, and as leaders in the making we had to go through some training sessions. This included delivering speeches to a group of young people. Three of us were slated to speak on the evening of my experience. We were given the topic to speak on, and a set time to complete our preparation. If I remember correctly, it was on birth control. We completed our preparation, and it was time to deliver. I do not recall who went first, but I remember I wrote and delivered an introductory poem that had the teenagers all enthused and ready for the rest of the presentation.
I completed the poem and they applauded. I went right on into the rest of the presentation, and as I like to do was delivering it in a conversational manner. The next thing I knew, my hands began to shake and my paper went flying. Oh My Word… The shocked look on the faces of my trainer, colleagues and the teenagers only added to what I knew was coming. There was no lectern or anything else to rest my hands on in an attempt to hide the trembling. ***SIGH & YIKES***
A young man quickly got up and retrieved my paper. I accepted it and told him thanks. As far as I remember, that paper and maybe one or two more hit the floor again by the time he settled into his seat. Oh yes… Someone retrieved them for me, and at that point I did the only thing I could do. I paused and apologized for my obvious nervousness. I told them it happens and I can’t control it so I have to work with it. I was able to complete my presentation.
Making My Nemesis My Friend
That is life. Things will befall us unexpectedly, but we have to do our best to push on and accomplish our goals. I accept that nervousness is my nemesis and will simply make it my friend. I am not going to spend my life trying to get rid of it,but rather continue to deal with it and move on. I like Paul Lynde’s view, “If I ever completely lost my nervousness I would be frightened half to death.” (Borrowed from Brainy Qoutes). It is just like having a physical handicap. You acknowledge you have it, and determine that it will not control your life. Why allow it to stop you from achieving your goals, enjoying life and moving to higher heights?
Freelance writing is a great job, but it is really not as easy as some would try to make it out to be. It definitely takes more skills and talent than many content mills clients and some of us writers seem to appreciate. Anything that calls for the engagement of the brain in researching and compiling information into an engaging, readable piece should not simply be regarded as an easy way to make money. That has not been my experience, and that is the reason many stay away from freelance writing for a living.
Creativity, and the ability to clearly express one’s thoughts plays a key role in writing good material. I often think I am a better writer in my head than I am on paper – this piece on “Writer’s Block” will explain why I say this – yet I find that I produce work that really meet and even surpass the expectations of clients and quite frankly even mine. My childhood experiences have really helped to shape me into who I am, and helped to furnish my talents.
A Little Background Trek
I was usually a very shy and quiet child, but have grown into a somewhat outspoken young lady. I was so shy that I simply hated speaking in public. I was, and still am an introvert, but I absolutely love being engaged in, and listening to activities that require people to speak out and express themselves effectively. These include public speaking, robust and even controversial discussions (once the people involved are sensible and respectable), making speeches and debating.
As a child, I enjoyed emulating speakers and presenters I either saw on TV, live at an event (such as church meetings) or listened to on the radio. I would stand in front of the mirror and read as I practiced my diction, voice projection, reading with the proper emphasis, and all that comes with effective reading. Sometimes I’d be in a corner somewhere or an empty room doing my thing.
Classroom reenactments at home was such a great avenue of learning, sharing, bullying, being bullied, arguing, getting upset, and then ending school for the day. I think many of us can relate to the days of childhood when we had our own school sessions with our dolls, the furniture in the house, the trees, bushes and other objects outside or our siblings, cousins and neighborhood friends. Great Days!
Parents today really need to place more value on family sessions. In my family, there was no set time and no structure to our family sessions so there was no pressure. Living in a rural area with wide open spaces to run and play was such a blessing. Sometimes on moonshine nights we would just sit and laugh and chat about this and that while taking in the beauty of the moonshine.
Old Moon, Great Times
Back then, the moon seemed to come out in all its glory. It was so bright that it was almost like daylight. Sometimes we would start playing games out in the yard. These would include cricket, stuck and freeze (something similar to tag), ring games and creating a moonshine baby (making a figure with ashes or white pebbles) then dance, sing and tell duppy/ghost stories. It was not strange to wake up in wee hours of the morning and get out of bed thinking it was time to get up. The moonshine was just so splendid back then and made for great impromptu family sessions.
Mommy and Daddy would often share their childhood stories of hardship and happy times. Parents expressing themselves really help children to also express themselves and develop a variety of ways to do so. We would ask questions, laugh, prompt them to tell more, tell our own stories, tell/squeal on each other, share strange, scary or happy dreams we had, make up stories and just enjoy ourselves.
Duppy/Ghost Story Drama
I mentioned duppy/ghost stories earlier. I must say that Mommy was good, but Daddy was the boss at this. Sometimes they would both tell it together, catching each other up on bits and pieces that they may have forgotten. Whatever the case, a mistake no one (us kids) wanted to make was to not have gone to the bathroom and done all we had to do in preparation for bed. You had better make sure that the bowel and bladder was empty, teeth sparkling clean and all was set. This is because at the end of the story telling when Mommy and Daddy said “OK…” “Goodnight…” “That’s it…” “Time for bed now…” no one was going to move. The fight would then begin for who was going to sleep with Mommy and Daddy that night.
Dare to ask who will follow you to the bathroom and you would be on your own, unless of course Mommy and/or Daddy intervened and demanded that someone go with you. Your only other savior would be if one or more of us also wanted to use the bathroom. If this was the case, you would then have to contend with the battle of who was going to use it first. There was no guarantee anyone would be waiting on you if you went last. The other option then would be to get the other sibling into the bathroom with you so he/she would not run away, and you had better hurry up. Those were the days.
Listening to My Older Sister
I am the third of five children for my parents. My older and younger sisters are certainly both blessed with the gift of telling and reenacting stories of things they saw or experienced. I suck at telling stories verbally. My older sister is really good at bringing a book she read to life or really capturing your attention as she carry on about a movie she watched.
I have never watched that movie “Freddy Krueger”, and I never will. I thank her for sparing me the horror. I am just not the horror movie type, because I can barely watch without shielding my eyes while I cringe. She did such a fantastic job describing Freddy’s character, that the hand with bladed fingers coming out of nowhere and everywhere remains stuck in my head. That’s enough for me to stay away.
I always admired her ability to share what she learnt. Thanks to her skills, I was reading romance novels long before I would have been allowed to. Watching her laughing like crazy, and then relating to us the bits she wanted to share made me curious enough to sneak and read her books. She is after all just two years my senior, and since my parents really did not approve of us reading such material, I had some leverage.
What Goes In Must Come Out
We all have to find a way to pass on and share the things we learn. Some are good at writing, some sing, some make craft or other items and some of us like my sister are good at verbalizing things. Certainly, some of us are multi-talented and can do several things, but we all need an outlet to share the things we learn, as well as our innate talents and abilities.
I enjoy researching, learning new stuff and writing, so naturally freelance writing provides a good avenue for me to get all of that done. I also enjoy public speaking, and believe it or not, I started writing a piece entitled “The Speaker’s Nemesis – Nerves – Floored by Nervousness,” but ended up doing two pieces because I found myself really getting into the sharing of my childhood experiences.
Such is the world of writing and the wandering mind of a writer. I’ll end my childhood tales here and complete the intended article so I can move on to some other work.
I certainly wish I had the drive to just reach for a pen and some paper and jot down my ideas when they present themselves. Sometimes they are inspired by something I heard, something I saw, something I said and even something from my thoughts. I get excited, but that almost never seems translate into my getting off my bum to get pen and paper to write down the idea – and then it’s all lost.
Writers Block is a pretty common occurrence among writers of all levels. People experience writers block for varying reasons. Some writers experience anxiety when they have a new writing project to start and when they have to come up with new topics. Sometimes a good topic or subject just seems elusive, and that can be very frustrating especially if there is a deadline to meet.
There’s No Writer’s Block They Say
I have heard it said that there is no such thing as a writer’s block, but I really beg to differ. I think my writer’s block comes in the form of “go get your pen and paper and jot your ideas down.” I really have a problem in that avenue, and that is what I consider to be my main writer’s block. Sometimes I get so excited about an idea that comes to me and I think seriously of writing it down, but that’s where the mobilization often ends. That’s just sad, because when I sit to write and try to remember stuff, nothing comes or it comes in confusing/disorganized bits and pieces. Either way, I spend a lot of time just trying to recapture the thought. Sometimes what comes to me at the time of writing is much better than those I failed to jot down, but oh so often I am left disappointed that I lost the initial thoughts.
So why don’t you just get up and do it?
Pausing my thoughts to get pen and paper is like tearing myself away from a great scene in a movie to go to the bathroom or get some water. I need to go, my throat is parched, but if I leave I will miss too much. You know the feeling.
I am a deep thinker, and as it is with deep thinkers I get some really inspirational thoughts. I have lost a myriad of them to my writers block. I tend to tell myself that the idea was so good there is no way that I could forget it – Big Mistake. Ever heard of the saying that the shortest pencil is better than the longest memory or something like that? It is indisputable true. Every so often I end up literally taking my brain down bit by bit with a mental hammer trying to find exactly where the great thought had gone to hide, only to come away empty-handed.
So Why Not Amend My Ways?
It is true that the best thing to do is to jot down ideas when they come. For me that can be so complex and inconvenient. Why? When I move the moment is lost, and sometimes so is the trend of thought. That magical moment gets broken, and even if I remember, it is just not the way it was when I initially had the thought. I get annoyed at that. So instead of getting up to get some material to jot down the idea I prefer to sit and complete the trend of thought.
There are other times when the ideas are inspired by something I saw or heard while I was out in the town or elsewhere. Naturally by the time I get home its lost or in shards. Maybe a figment of what I wanted to take note of still remains within the crevices of my mind, but I always note that they are hardly ever as good as the initial thought. Again I get frustrated and just can’t bother using what appears to be mediocre.
Like an artist who uses his spoiled piece of art work to create an alternative piece, I sometimes start working with what I now consider a mediocre bit of memory and create an even better piece of writing, but most times this is not the case. Sometimes the piece is so way off that I drop it all together.
I can’t figure out a way to get over my writer’s block so I just work with it.