So you want to be a writer, huh?

I’ll be honest with you – it isn’t easy. It took me years of work and learning the hard way from multiple mistakes before I hit some semblance of a stride. Split infinitives and post-colon capitalization lurk in my peripheral vision, and spellcheck saves me a minimum of a dozen times an hour, even a decade after I first got the notion to do this for a living. I’m a good writer – an imperfect one, perhaps, but halfway decent if a bucketful of happy clients is any indication. You can be too, if you’re willing to work at it a little and keep persistence as a constant goal.

I started The Freelance Writer Guide to…

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Watch Your Words: Keeping Things Precise

Hello my fellow freelancers! I’m fresh off the plane from Las Vegas and the Content Marketing Conference, which I was fortunate enough to attend as a guest of the WriterAccess team and their leader and conference coordinator Byron White. I had the chance to sit in on some sensational panels, including a keynote speech by my new copywriting brain-crush Douglas Van Praet. There will be more posts on the experience – and all the wonderful tips and tricks I can’t wait to show you – very soon! For now, I wanted to talk about word choices and how important they are to a smooth, cohesive piece of writing.

When writing for pay by the word, it can be tempting to ‘fluff,’ either consciously or unconsciously, with modifiers like very. Depending on how tired we are when working on a piece, we may not even realize we’re doing it! The key combination of ctrl and F (the “find word” command) is the best secret I’ve ever found to stamping out lazy writing – I just type in words I know I lean on heavily, such as very and great, and determine how often they show up in my finished text.

A quote beside an image of a younger Mark Twain reading "“Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” in white text on a black background

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) was brilliant. (source:

If you struggle with the same issues that I do, don’t be afraid to peek in a thesaurus or use words like those outlined in the image below, but don’t let these methods become a crutch. Ultimately, the goal is to write in such a way that you don’t need to do much sweeping up after – and that means consciously trying to keep yourself on course as you write, not just after the fact.

A still image of Robin Williams from the movie "Dead Poet's Society" above a chart detailing alternative words to use instead of adding very as a modifier.

While “very” is still an important part of a writer’s lexicon, it shouldn’t be overused! (source:

Hashtag All The Things: Free Marketing Through Social Media

Recently I’ve found myself explaining my social media marketing process to a lot of friends and peers – it’s simple and it’s a catchall solution for everything from real estate to eBay to, yes, freelance writing. Here it is, in a nutshell:

Step 1: Get a Facebook account and a Twitter account. For those of you already forming the words to something like “But I don’t get it…” or “I don’t have time to…Hush. Hear me out.

What you name your FB/Twitter account should be at least semi-related to what you’re doing, or easy enough to spell/say/remember that it isn’t impossible to find. JohnWritesStuff = Good. InadvertentCephalopod418 = Bad. Even if you already have these accounts personally, it’s probably a good idea to make new “junk” ones so you aren’t overwhelming your friends and family with posts.

Step 2: Do your “thing,” whatever it happens to be. Write your article for Constant Content, post your eBay auction, list your house, sell your stuff on Craigslist. If you’re at least passingly comfortable with any of these things, you should have a title that uses the most room that platform allows (e.g. you have very minimal leftover characters in your eBay title, like 5-6 letters max) and has lots of keywords about that item. Let’s use eBay for an example. I’m going to list a vase, and I use this title:

“16th Century Large Green Ming Dynasty Vase China Ceramic Rare!”

Step 3: Highlight and copy the title you just wrote.

Step 4: Go onto the social media marketing platform of your choice – say, Twitter, and paste that title in the update box. Do not publish/send it yet.

Step 5: Put the # (hashtag) symbol in front of important words in that title, ones that people are likely to search.

  • Leave out any vague terms that people looking for your item probably won’t use – in our example, “Green” is a little too generic.
  • Take out the space between words for words that would probably be searched as a whole phrase, like “Ming Dynasty” so that it shows as a single clickable link instead of one each for “Ming” and “Dynasty.”
  • Don’t want to put a # in front of numbers because it won’t link correctly – in our example, I would swap out “16th Century” for “Antique” – it’s a term that gets the same point across, but has no numbers.
  • After your hashtags are done, copy and paste the URL (the thing in your address bar when your listing/article/page is up) after your hashtagged creation is finished.
  • If you’re selling something that can only be picked up or sold locally (like furniture on Craigslist), be sure to hashtag your city name or your city name and state if you have a common city name like “Smithtown”.

    My finished product might look something like this:

#Antique Large Green #MingDynasty #Vase #China #Ceramic #Rare!

Step 6: Submit it. Copy and paste that whole finished line into Twitter and Facebook – Yes, you can use the same line! Cool, right? – and voila. You’ve just successfully used social media marketing. Make sure the privacy on these posts is set to “public!”

But what does this do for me, ThatWordChick?

On both Facebook and Twitter, hashtags are used to denote a searchable term – so if someone plunks “Ming Dynasty” in the Twitter or Facebook search box, for example, your entry will show up and they’re likely to click through to check out your auction. These searchers do not have to be friends, following your page, etc – that’s the beauty of hashtags! If you want to have a little fun with it, open a tab that shows your current hits/views on the auction/article/listing etc. , post your status update, then refresh this stats page a minute later. You can watch the numbers jump up before your eyes!

I use this method to advertise my Etsy listings, my eBay auctions, my Freelance Writing services, my Craigslist items, my Constant Content articles – essentially anything I’m looking to sell. It’s been extremely helpful for me and my sales, and I hope it’s just as helpful for you!



Followup Review:

Typically I space out my followup reviews a bit more, but a lot has happened with since my review went live about a month ago, none of it good. Here’s what I’ve experienced after just walking through the steps to get my screenshots for the review – bear in mind that I never even submitted my (extremely specific, free) sample.

October 10th Email

Happy Friday, Authors!

Just when you thought we wouldn’t make any more changes, we did.

This week we updated our system to remove the bidding process.

That’s right, we no longer ask for a bid or take bids into account when we calculate your overall score.  

From here on out, the focus is on quality.

So go forth, Authors, and make us proud!

Thanks for all of your hard work,

– The Team at Authorr


Okay…so…no more bids. A step in the right direction? I guess?


October 16th Email

Hello Authors!

Hopefully you remember us.  At some point in time, you submitted a sample for our value article writing type but for some reason, it cancelled and you weren’t able to complete it.
I’m here with really good news.
We recently made a bunch of changes in Authorr and would like for you to drop in and give that sample submission a second shot.
Before you submit your second sample assignment, we encourage you to watch our webinar and review our guidelines.  If you weren’t sure what our expectations were before, you will definitely know now.
Both were created in the last couple of weeks, so there’s plenty of fresh tips and tricks about how to be successful on Authorr.
  • Webinar:  [URL removed]
  • Guidelines: [URL removed]
Thanks so much and happy writing!
– The Team at Authorr
Okay, well, I never submitted in the first place, but I can understand them wanting to maybe call back some folks that wandered away. This tells me they’re hurting for quality writers though, it has a slightly-too-eager tone to it in my opinion.
(Another?) October 16th Email

Hey Authors,

As we mentioned on our webinar a few weeks ago, we are now re-opening the Premium Article assignment type.  These pay out $30 for a 500 word article and 6 cents per word after that, so $60 for a 1,000 word article.

To opt-in for the Premium Article type just log in to Authorr, and click Assignment Types under the Account tab.

If you have not yet watched our Webinar, you MUST watch the webinar before opting into Premium Article.  There is very critical information in the webinar that you’ll need to know to get your samples accepted.  The webinar is here:

View Webinar [URL removed]

Then opt in here. [URL removed]


Kevin and Bobby from Authorr


Alright, now they’ve crept slightly over the line of being a little too eager. Two emails in the same day, to the same person that didn’t even submit a sample, encouraging them to apply for premium level? What kind of hurried talent is that going to snag you, guys? Premium isn’t something you should be casting about for from the untested pool, this email should only go out to established writers.

(Another??) October 16th Email

Hey Delany Martinez,

This E-Mail is to let you know that we have work available for you on Authorr. There are currently 1 assignments available to you that you can work on.

Assignments on Authorr are first-come, first-served, but we do expect that if you accept an assignment that you will complete it without delay.

If you’re ready to do some writing, please sign in and accept the assignment.

To get started, just log in here: [URL Removed]

The Authorr Team

P.S. Getting too many of these emails?  You can set a maximum frequncy for them in your Settings.  Just log in and go to the Account tab and click “Change Settings.”

Know what that one assignment was? My unpaid sample piece they’re apparently VERY EAGER for me to start/finish. That’s all I have access to, that one 500 word SEO specific-theme-and-audience timed assignment that it looks like they get the rights to and I get zilch for. See where it says I can adjust “frequncy” at the bottom? Apparently the default setting is FOUR EMAILS A DAY because I’ve been getting “reminders” about that sample piece assignment every six hours for the last three days. This is now almost a month after I dabbled on their site and poked around – nearly 4 weeks since I touched anything or logged in the site, and suddenly – bam – four emails a day, every day, out of the blue.

Some of my readers here on the Freelance Writer Guide were quick to speak up on their own negative issues on the site, too – email neediness aside.

From Bianca:

I wish I had read this article before I had signed up with Authorr. I’m new to freelance writing, and also learned of it through Freedom with Writing. I’ve had issues with Authott at an alarming rate. Twice this week their timer on their site has had errors, and timed out long before the six hour deadline. That issue resulted in projects that I had put time into being lost and marked as failed. One of them errored out while I was submitting it.

I’ve reported the issues, they acknowledged that it was a bug on their end, but I highly doubt I’m ever going to get paid the $7 that I feel I am owed. After all, I did the work. I’m getting a bad feeling about the site, personally.


And here, from Laura:

You are completely right. We need to “vet” companies to avoid getting robbed blind. The webinar put together by the company (on the blog post) said they were looking for “premium” writers, and this would be by “invitation only”. I did not expect them to invite me, but I got an email yesterday to submit an 500-word sample. My hopes were up, ran it through PaperRater, Ginger, checked AP guide, etc. Within hours I got an email:
Unfortunately, your submission for #7218 (Independent Contractors vs Employees) on Authorr fell short of our standards.

We will not allow you to access further assignments in this type.

Feel free to resubmit a new sample assignment in a different assignment type.

So, they must have checked me out, as I have already had a fallout with editors, asking them straight whether or not they read the articles or the emails sent by the authors. Did not expect brownie points for that. Still, I would love to know “their standards” as I was given a straight, level 3 starter grade when I applied with The Content Authority, and have not had any problems with the editors so far. I get regular reviews and detailed comments from the site, something Authorr would never implement.

I think I am “ditching” the site for good, and many authors are already leaving because of the ignorance of the company.


I don’t think I’ve ever received chimes of “me too” quite so quickly on a site review before, which makes me even more wary of Who knows, maybe they can salvage themselves in time, but right now it looks like a terribly executed site that’s up to some underhanded nonsense when it comes to free “samples” of your hard work.

Freelance Writing Site Info: Review

Freelance Writer Guide Asks: Is legit or Is a scam?

What is

A commenter on my review asked me about, so I decided to check it out at length. is a bid-based freelance writing site that requires authors to apply and, once approved, bid on individual jobs on the site against one another by offering the lowest amount per word they’re willing to accept.

How do I start at

Once you hit the “Join Now As Author” button at the bottom of the signup page, you’ll be taken to a screen where you enter your name, address and email, which also needs to be your Paypal email, for reference. After submission, you’re sent an auto-email with a link to the following page: Application Page Application Page

From there, you’ll need to hit the “Account” button and, via a fairly user-UNfriendly form, apparently “opt in” to receiving certain assignments to take – as I was just starting out, the only thing open to me was the “Value” articles, and take a gander at the suggested rate – .005, aka half a cent per word. As you’ll recall, I emphatically stress in the Freelance Writer Guide that not even new freelancers should not accept less than a penny a word. I have, in fact, taken other freelance writing sites to task for routinely putting out projects with terrible sub-penny rates. Assignment Opt In Page

.005 a word. Nope.

The next step after putting in my bid (I went with .01/word for experimentation’s sake) requires clicking the “Assignments” button. At this point, I want to remind my readers that mentioned that you’d need to submit some samples to actually be accepted to work, but had not up until this point mentioned if those samples could be previously written/published, nor specified if we’d be paid for them if they had to be new. Assignment Acceptance

Time to head over to the Assignments page… Scam

It’s worse than my freelancer spidey-sense had envisioned. They give you the word count, topic, audience and timer and you fork over free work.


Okay, so 400 words is nothing to sneeze at, that’s a solid half hour of work for even advanced freelancers, and when you add in the restrictions of topic and audience, it may be even longer. I hunted through the site and also found nothing that suggested the writer retains rights to their work, which essentially means that likely keeps it, sells it, and keeps the profit. This is akin to the Craigslist writing scams and scams that solicit fresh “samples” of work on specific topics with an open cattle call and, unsurprisingly, never seem to get back to the folks that submitted it.

Add that to the fact that the owners of, Velluto VIP LLC, are also behind a few SEO-work-for-hire firms such as and you have a “Hmm.” moment on your hands.


How do I get paid with pays with Paypal, but no word on frequency. There’s also a nod that they may start paying in Bitcoins – a troubling, financially volatile concept at best for freelancers that depend on a steady income.


Helpful Hints for


Skip it. If their opening pitch is half a cent a word and they’re asking for a 400-word freebie out of the gate, you can bet that respect for the profession isn’t exactly prominent on their corporate horizon.

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