14 January 2011


A few days ago, I spent a truly scary amount of time staring aimlessly at the screen of my laptop.
I could blame it on several factors, but it wouldn’t change the facts.

This aimlessness caused me to miss some self-imposed deadlines (self-imposed, yes; but still important) and fall behind on my writing goals. In fact, when reporting my word count today at FindYourWords, I was 500 words short of my writing goal for the week.

In an act of desperation, since even reading my RSS Feed felt like too much work, I decided to steal a resolution out of Joanna Penn’s New Year’s Resolutions. I unplugged.

I turned off my laptop, instead of just closing it and letting it hibernate (which felt symbolic and made me feel stronger), I took my notebook and went to bed.

And I started to write. Something I couldn’t accomplish with my laptop on, apparently.

It’s hard to call those days of aimless staring a writer’s block. My creativity was there. I just didn’t feel like making an effort.

Maybe I was just burned out? I wouldn’t be able to tell for sure as it was the first time I felt like that.

Since the next three months are going to be very intense, because I have a lot of stuff on my plate that I just *have to* complete, I will have to learn how to pace myself.

Or I will have to learn how to do it better. I guess I really can’t keep the same writing speed I had during holidays. Not with a regular 8 hour work day on top of that.

It’s a learning experience, figuring out everything connected to writing and earning money.

Here’s hoping I’ll manage to get everything settled soon.

8 January 2011

About that Writing Schedule thing

I’m not going to tell you that keeping a strict writing schedule helps you avoid the writer’s block and develop a writing habit. It’s been said before over and over and over again. Instead, I’m going to tell you how I go about it.

Writing comes first

Yes, the first thing I do after starting up my laptop is checking my email, RSS feed and my Twitter for any interesting links people I follow might’ve shared over night. But after that, writing takes priority. I set a goal for myself saying that my first action after catching up on all the feeds is to write something. It doesn’t matter if it’s a story, a part of a story, an outline, a blog post, an article for a content site or writing for a client.

And I don’t do anything until I finish that first writing piece. Sometimes it’s just a slash fiction, maybe even just two points in my outline. But it’s somehow sets a mood for the rest of my day.

Day doesn’t end until I’ve written something

While this might seem like a silly rule (especially when put right after “writing something first thing in the morning), it actually helps me a lot.

See, I made a word count goal for 2011. That goal translates into writing at least 2000 words a week and 290 words a day. It might not seem like much, but in this word count, I don’t count outlines, my academic work or the brainstorming I do for one of the clients. So sometimes, after a whole day of writing in various projects, it might turn out I didn’t add to my official word count at all.

I don’t deny, sometimes it sounds rough (and it is), but I don’t go to sleep until the daily word count is reached. Last year I sometimes ignored that rule, but this year I’m much more motivated (and hoping this motivation won’t go away.)

Make plans for at least a week

Last year when it came to writing, I just “went with it”. I wrote when I felt like it and ended up not writing much most days. This year, I’m planning all my big fiction projects and all my nonfiction writing. I plan deadlines, milestones and word count goals for all my fiction projects. I also plan who I’m writing for each day, when it comes to my nonfiction.

I was hesitant about it at first, but a second week in and I’m focused, I keep having inspiration for my nonfiction writing and all my fiction projects are steadily moving forward. It really is something.

Reporting on my progress

Every week I report my word count to FindYourWords community. You can report it on Twitter (even using the hash tag #wordcount) or to your writing group. You can report it on your blog, as your Facebook status or just texting your regular writing partner.

Just tell somebody how much you’ve written in the past day/week. You don’t even have to report your word count. Did you finish your story, that revision you were slaving off with? Did you sell an article? The positive feedback you’ll receive to your successes will be the best motivation, believe me.

That Writing Schedule Thing

I don’t make plans to write every day from 5pm to 7pm. mostly because my days and plans are so irregular that I would fail to do so within the first week and I would lose interest in trying soon after that. This would really hurt my writing.

Setting a firm schedule doesn’t work for me, it might work for you. Just like the little tricks I shared here are working great for me, but might not work for you. That said; I’ll be very interested to hear what your tricks to write regularly are. Feel free to share them!

6 January 2011

5 ways to turn your website into a passive income source

Having a website (especially one with a blog) takes a lot of effort. But websites are still one of the most common and most reliable sources of passive income. As a first part of my “Passive Income for Freelance Writers” series I’m giving you 5 ways of earning passive income with a website.


Incorporating ads into your website is still one of the most popular choices when it comes to monetizing your website or blog. The most common tool is Google AdSense (or Chitika, popularized by Darren from ProBlogger.net). But it’s worth remembering that once the website is popular and has a lot of readers, you can always cut out the middle man and start looking for advertisers directly.

Many popular websites and blogs use their sidebars to display “sponsors”. Many of those websites are direct clients paying monthly for the exposure. You can also use the advertising spots on your website to display banners from your affiliates about more on that later.) The key to a successful ad is to make sure it fits into the general topic of the website. The ads will bring profit only if they are of interest to your readers.

Affiliate marketing

By promoting other people’s projects, you are earning a percentage of the profits from each sale. Your partners usually provide you with great promotional materials that you can use to promote their work.

If you’re wondering where to find the right affiliate programs, you’re not looking right. Your first choice should always be products and programs you have personal experience with. It’s the ultimate truth – it’s easier to promote something you know and something you believe in.

When choosing the affiliate programs keep in mind what it is that your readers are looking for. And try to provide it not only with your content, but with the products you promote as well. Even if you choose to work with Amazon Affiliates, you should select the products that can benefit your readers.

Self-made products

You either build a website around a product you wish to sell, or you promote a product on a site you already have. Either way a website has an enormous potential of helping you sell those products and, once again, it allows you to cut out the middle man and earn a bigger profit (when you don’t have to pay commission to anyone else.)

Freelance writers usually decide to create eBooks or online courses and tele-classes and share their knowledge with the world. But those are not the only products that can be sold and/or promoted with a website.

Membership sites

Majority of the websites offer some sort of content to the readers. If they are product pages, they offer information on the product. If they are websites of companies or people, they offer information about that. There are sites that have been created and published and are updated rarely, but there are also websites that are updated every other day.

Websites like that can be turned into membership sites, charging readers a monthly fee, providing them with exclusive content (either in a way of a premium newsletter, special blog posts, eBook reports etc.) that they are interested in. Obviously, the details all depend on the niche, but the general idea remains the same.

But what you need to remember is that nowadays, with all the free content you can imagine, you need to be offering something spectacular and amazing to convince people to join the website. You might consider teaming up with somebody else: a graphic designer, or a programmer; where you provide content and all the written material and they add the extra content.

Launching platform for other projects

Sometimes, you don’t have to earn the passive income directly from the website. But if your website is good and provides great content, attracting a lot of readers, it can become a valuable platform from which you can launch your other projects (especially if the projects are in the same niche, or your website is a personal one.)

Whatever your next project is a CafePress shop, another website covering your niche from a different angle, a book deal or a class you can plug it on your website and some of the readers will follow.

Final notes

No matter how you decide to turn your website into a passive income source, there’s one thing you need to remember. No passive income will earn you money if you just set it up and forget about it. It will only bring in profits if you promote it, offer great content and supervise it regularly.

For the entire series on Passive Income click here.

4 January 2011

How Somebody Who Hated Change Decided to Become a Freelance Writer

If you ask anyone, who knows me, they will tell you that I don’t deal well with changes. It’s a God honest truth: I HATE changes. It doesn’t matter how big or how small the change, I will always try to resist and whine about how much I hate the new thing.

To give you an idea of how extreme my dislike for change is: I only eat one type of pizza (or no pizza at all), I dropped out of my studies because getting a degree and defending my thesis was too big of a change from my usual way of doing things (and it took me two years to go back to school), I don’t like meeting new people, because, well, they are new people and they don’t understand how OCD I am about the smallest things.

In fact, my entire writing career moves at a pace everybody else would consider “barely not moving backwards”.

It took me years and meeting very supportive people for me to start writing more seriously in the first place. It took an extremely enthusiastic writing cheerleader to talk me into writing my first novella. I hesitantly wrote what I thought would be a good story but didn’t like the results. But the feedback I got was encouraging, so I decided to try writing another novella the following year... It took two years, a support system and four big fiction projects for me to get comfortable with an idea of writing a novel.

My freelancing career went almost the same.

At the very beginning (back in, I think, May 2008) the idea of receiving payment for my writing seemed rather surreal. I didn’t treat it seriously, so when I stumbled on Helium, I looked around and set up an account, because it seemed harmless.

And I did nothing.

I sat on the brand new account for a few days before I decided to see what the whole thing was about. Because it’s just my luck, I had no idea what to write about, so I randomly searched for an Empty Title and wrote my very first advice article about treating painful periods. I did research on natural remedies to have the knowledge, but I winged everything else.

I knew nothing about a proper article structure for online content, I had no idea what a keyword was and why it was important. I just wrote an article to see what would happen.

Or rather, I was conflicted between wanting to see what would happen and being terribly afraid of what would happen. What if the article was terrible? What if people wouldn’t be interested in what it said? What if the article didn’t earn any money? Or worse, what if IT DID?

In the first week after publishing, the article earned one or two cents from pageviews. I found that idea absolutely terrifying and closed the browser. I didn’t touch Helium for another month after that.

I returned to the site in June and started to write simple opinion pieces on topics I knew from personal experience. Nothing I would have to do research on. The idea that anybody could take me for an expert was too scary.

By the time December rolled in, I was comfortable with an idea of getting paid for my writing, out of curiosity I was reading blogs about freelance writing and publishing articles from time to time.

All the blogs I’ve read seemed unconnected to what I was doing. They were all talking about setting up websites, blogs, pitching editors, being able to pay bills from money earned with writing... The idea of giving up my cozy and safe job to pursue something that earned me cents seemed ridiculous.

Then, by complete accident, I sold an article in Helium Marketplace. After the initial euphoria that somebody liked my article and wanted to pay for it (and after the panic that followed: “what if they change their mind and demand a refund? what if they clicked the wrong button and they really wanted the article next to mine?”) I realized that you can earn more from writing than just cents based on pageviews.

I filed that information away, because “why mess with something that’s working just fine?” But just to be sure, I did some additional research and found online marketplaces like oDesk, Guru and eLance. They all seemed really scary and confusing and there were some fees involved and I decided I really don’t like the idea of exchanging my Helium earnings for what seemed to be very stressful and demanding.

I kept writing for content sites (expanding outside of Helium was a nightmare, but I knew that keeping all my eggs in one basket would be unwise if a dreaded change decided to surprise me).

Nothing changed for a year in my writing career (which I considered to be a good thing, most specialists would never agree with me) but then I started to get bored with my day job. Long time ago I learned to recognize boredom as a first symptom of change and I did what I’ve always done when I felt change coming. I started to make plans how to make that damn change as painless as possible.

Which brings us to six months ago and my new year’s resolution to switch to full time free end of this year.

It’s worth stating that I admire people who can quit their day job and become freelancers in a day. People who take risks are amazing, but I’m not one of them. If there’s a way to avoid the change, I’ll take it. If I need to go through a change, I will hate every moment of the transition.

I need numerous support systems, safety nets, cheerleaders and people who understand that I need to have complete control over the process or my stress levels reach catastrophic very quickly.

At the same time, I love writing. I get huge satisfaction from it and I love looking at the finished product and knowing it’s worth something (I feel even better when other people say the same thing). I want to keep doing it!

And yes, for some, the pace in which my freelance career is moving, might seem unwise, or time-wasting. To some, my choice to keep writing for content sites while I pursue other freelancing options, might seem counterproductive. But the truth is I like the passive income. And another change (in addition to all the changes that will happen to me this year) might be too much for my poor little heart.

I’m optimistic though. I have a plan, which includes several safety nets and contingency plans (and contingency plans to my contingency plans) and for a first time in a very long time I think I might be able to handle the change. That I might even like what it’s going to bring.

Still, I’m not going to jump head first. I’ll keep poking at the idea, moving forward slowly. It’s going to take some time to get where I want to be. But it’s okay.

2 January 2011

Passive Income for Freelance Writers

5 ways to turn your website into a passive income source

I hope you all had a very good start in the New Year. I kicked off 2011 by writing two articles (total over 1300 words) and it made me feel really good. I also decided that January will be a month of Passive Income here at WritingMakesRich.

I consider passive income to be one of the more important revenue stream for freelancers. There are only that many hours you can work in a day and at the same time, raising your rates stops being enough at some point.

I’m not going to hide, this Passive Income series is going to serve mostly as my very own resource center as I learn more about passive income opportunities and try to find out which work best for me.

Freelance writers have a lot of options open to them, though most of them demand a lot of time and effort before they even start paying back.

I’m at the very beginning of my freelancing career. I don’t work non-stop and I don’t have a whole bunch of clients. Which means that I do have the time to invest into my future income. There are many things freelance writers can do when they don’t have enough work and while I keep applying for various jobs, I always preferred investing in myself.

Working an hour a day or so on a personal project that has the potential of bringing extra money in might seem like a big commitment, especially if the money isn’t anything impressive at the very beginning, but I believe in planning and considering all the options before actually taking the jump.

I will no doubt write about revenue streams that I’m not involved in personally. I will mention things that are great for writers, but take a lot of time, which is why I’m not tapping into their potential just yet. But they are nonetheless good opportunities and every writer should at least consider them.

It seems like it’s going to be a very productive and a very interesting January, and hopefully a year. Happy New Year everybody!