A learning space for writers & Freelance Writing Service for Small Businesses
Author: Alanna Higdon
Hey! I'm Alanna.
I am a freelance writer who specializes in blog & social media content. I love serving small business owners, to help them create consistent content that will attract new customers.
A little bit more about me, I was born on the west coast but have lived on the east coast for most of my life. I graduated from college in 2019 as a Sociology major. I'm a lover of cats, coffee, horror movies, rollercoasters, night time walks! You can always follow me on my Instagram for more information and daily updates.
If you have a good grasp of grammar and enjoy writing, you can easily turn your passion into a career. You can work part-time while enrolled in school to make extra money, or you can turn the opportunity into your full-time job after graduation. Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a freelance writer.
How to Hone Your Skills
If you want to be a freelance writer, you have to become a competitive player in the industry. People expect to receive high-quality content in exchange for their hard-earned money, so you must have a thorough understanding of how to create strong and engaging articles. You can earn this knowledge in school and obtain a degree as proof of your credentials, or you can undergo training to become a content writer. Regardless of which path you choose, it is important to practice various writing techniques and good grammar skills if you want to build a strong portfolio.
How to Start a Freelance Writing Business
Forming a business is the best way to protect your career as a freelance writer. Even if you choose to work under your own name rather than that of a company, you need a business moniker for tax purposes. Every company is required to obtain an EIN number from the Internal Revenue Service. This identification number is how the IRS monitors tax liability, so it’s best to get your EIN before launching your freelance career. The number also makes it easier to read your records at tax time.
How to Find Gigs as a Freelance Writer
Before you build a base of loyal clients, you must seek out jobs as a freelancer. You can find many gigs online. Start a social media account listing your services, and start building your portfolio by completing small articles for family members and friends. You can also submit longer articles to online forums for publication. If you can show people the quality of your work, they are more likely to hire you as a writer.
Having an invoice system is crucial for ensuring you get paid for the gigs you land. You will be paid by the job rather than hourly, so making sure you get paid promptly is important. You can create invoices using online templates. Just customize your chosen design with your preferred text and colors.
How to Build Your Client Base
Once you start landing gigs, you can start cultivating client loyalty. The more regular clients you have, the steadier your paycheck will be. Make sure your clients are satisfied with the work you produce. One study suggests that 42% of small businesses use freelancers, so if you work with several companies, you have a reliable job. It takes talent and exceptional customer service to keep clients returning to you when they need your service. You should practice clear, honest communication so that you have a better understanding of their expectations for your work. People who are happy with your content are more likely to recommend your services and grow your business.
As a freelance writer, you’ll have the opportunity to work with many people and companies generating various types of content. It is a fun and exciting career, but you must work hard to be successful. This advice can help you build a thriving career. Learn more at AJ’s Creative Corner.
Writer’s block is a topic that millions of writers, including me, have already discussed countless times. However, it happens repeatedly to all of us so it’s important that we continue talking about it.
Now that I’m back to writing and posting regularly, the Podcast is also back! Every 2 weeks I will post an episode. I will alternate episodes between topics that have to do with writing trends/ideas and topics that will help beginners learn how to become successful freelance writers.
For this week I wanted to see what approach famous authors’ take when they have a bad case of writer’s block. I read an article titled ‘5 Famous Authors’ Strategies for Conquering Writer’s Block’ written by Nicole Bianchi.
Maya Angelou is the first author that is discussed. Her approach is actually similar to an approach I have previously discussed here on my blog. Her approach was to ‘just write.’ Even if you do not like what you are writing or how it turns out in the end, continue to write every single day. Eventually, after staying consistent you will have a breakthrough and begin to enjoy the content that you are writing.
The next author that this article discusses is Neil Gaiman, who has a different strategy when it comes to finding motivation. He actually suggests that you should push your writing to the side for a few days. After a few days have passed, he then suggests sitting down and re-read your writing from the very beginning.
His logic behind this approach is that after you have had some distance from your writing, you will be more enthusiastic and gain some clarity that you didn’t have before. He also encourages writers to make notes about anything that they want to change as they are re-reading their work.
I have also mentioned this approach in a past post as well. If I am writing a fiction story, this is my go-to strategy to not only break writer’s block but also to make me feel excited about what I’m writing again. When I read my story from the very beginning, it puts me back into a headspace that makes the story feel real and helps me to think of what I would like to read next.
The next author mentioned is Mark Twain, whose go-to strategy is giving me flashbacks to my High School English class all over again. He was a big proponent of writing an outline. His thought process behind this strategy is that if you take this big, overwhelming idea you have for a story, and break it down into doable, reasonable tasks, then the project feels a lot less overwhelming.
In a sense, an outline is almost like a step-by-step list of how you would like to write your story, and it’s an excellent starting point to getting rid of your writer’s block.
Ernest Hemingway had a unique strategy that I can’t say I’ve ever heard of before. He suggests saving some of your ideas so that you don’t ‘exhaust’ your energy. If you’re in the middle of writing and you feel like everything has been flowing smoothly, and you know what events will take place next, stop writing.
Hemingway’s strategy behind this is that by utilizing this technique, you are allowing your story to be placed in the hands of your subconscious. If you run out of ideas and spend the remainder of your day worrying about coming up with new ideas so you’ll have something to write the next day, you’ll exhaust your brain. In other words, you’ll feel burnt out instead of excited to pick back up where you left off the next day.
Lastly, Hilary Mantel suggests a similar approach to Gaiman. She suggests that if you are sitting at your desk writing, and you start to become overwhelmed, then you should remove yourself from the environment you are writing in. You can go for a walk, meditate, or partake in any hobby that you enjoy doing, but you need to engage in a different calming task. Her philosophy behind this is that you need to create space in your mind for new ideas to populate.
Out of all of these approaches, I find Hemingway’s the most abstract, but when I give it further thought, it makes sense!
The takeaway here is that almost every single writer has experienced writer’s block at one point or another. Most of my friends and family are burnt out at this point. With so much going on around us, I think that things like burnout and writer’s block are more prevalent than ever.
On top of that, today’s culture places a huge emphasis on grind culture and the idea that if you’re not constantly working, then it’s pure laziness or failure on your end. That’s simply not true. Every person needs rest, including you.
Comment down below and let me know what your strategies are for getting through writer’s block.
Introduction of post: Happy Friday! In previous posts and podcast episodes I’ve shared on this blog, I’ve talked about the different steps everyone can take in order to write their first fiction story. I have also discussed some ideas for fiction stories that I wanted to pursue.
After taking a long break from this website and writing in general, I have decided to completely switch gears with the fiction story I had been planning. I thought the best way to share my idea would be to write it in the form of a draft and share it. My ideas are far from finalized, and I am completely open to constructive feedback on my draft at this point.
I just wanted to be able to add a space on my website where I can start to develop my ideas for fiction stories and start to develop a routine posting schedule again.
Name of story: Grey?
Setting: Starts in New Orleans, Louisiana. Typical two-story home in a quiet area. Working middle-class family and upbringing. Then shifts to an abandoned warehouse building with magical/supernatural elements. Meaning even though it’s a warehouse building, it transforms into a dark, poorly lit environment that is constantly changing for the rest of the story. The image of the room constantly shifts into different mazes and images, depending on what the female main character and “narrator” are talking about. The abandoned warehouse is related to the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. The story doesn’t revolve around the aftermath of Kartina at all, but it does have a quiet, strong presence because it adds to the main question/theme of the story,
Theme: Which is “Can you label something as completely bad or completely good?” The main character is scared that she’s not a good person on the inside, but everyone thinks she is on the outside because she presents herself in a way that checks off the boxes of what mainstream society would consider a good person.
Setting Continued: Then the majority of the story takes place in a sort of maze the main character will walk through. She walks on a dirt path in a rural, wooded area, but will encounter different buildings that look completely out of place along the way. Ex. An NYC Penthouse, a small cottage, a shopping mall. The environment she stumbles in depends on what scenario each supporting character presents to her.
What season is it?: Fall, leading into winter
Music: Jazz & Hip-hop, street performers
Entertainment: Mardi Gras, festivals, a large mission trip with churches there to help with the aftermath of Katrina (which further contributes to the theme of good vs. bad).
Main character: Name- Cristal- The Greek meaning of this name means “pure of heart” which is significant b/c even though her biggest fear is that she is a bad person & that she has hurt several people in her life, she doesn’t realize how pure-hearted she truly is to her core.
Age: Mid-twenties (25)- subject to change
Hobbies: Art- drawing & painting, volunteering at an animal shelter, loves to play soccer, loves to watch football, loves to go out to bars & clubs with her small group of close friends & boyfriend, loves spending quality time with family & playing board games with parents
Pets?: Yes, one cat.
How she interacts with others: She’s extremely polite & respectful, people pleaser, charming, people find her compelling, oblivious to her own beauty, vulnerable, easy to take advantage of. People constantly underestimate her own self-awareness. She’s strategic. She is working on building self-confidence. She’s extremely intelligent. She is aware people are taking advantage of her sometimes but goes along with it, because the most important thing to her is that she is a nice person, despite the hardships she has faced in the past.
She is an excellent listener, she’s a bit naive, she was semi-sheltered throughout her childhood. People find her sweet, endearing, slightly childish but also extremely mature. She is confusing to people. They look at her with a watchful eye because the major shifts in her personality can come across as though she’s being disingenuous and hypocritical if you didn’t truly know her.
How does she react to being put under pressure?: She has a lot of anxiety. She reaches a boiling point & gets extremely emotional. She takes everything personally, even when it’s not about her. She spreads herself too thin. She shies away from conflict. She sacrifices her own happiness to make others happy. She feels like a complete failure when she can’t solve a task that was always going to be impossible for her to complete successfully. When she hurts/disappoints other people, fails to measure up to other people around her who had way more handouts than she did, she feels like a complete failure and doesn’t think she has a purpose. When she is under too much pressure, her mental health drastically spirals.
Narrator: Name- Basar, it means “sight, vision, the eye”, Arabic origin. His character is the only one with magical elements/powers. He can create visions that feel like reality to Cristal, but they are completely fabricated. She is physically safe for the entire story, even though at some points she feels like Basar has put her in real danger. He knows she feels this way, but secretly ensures her safety is always protected, pulling back slightly every time he notices that she is at her breaking point.
He is a trickster. He is all-knowing. He was mortal in his initial lifetime. He had a troubled childhood. He has done this journey with other people before, but he really sees himself in Cristal. Cristal makes him feel nostalgic and secretly touched that she is such a kind person who is so troubled by the thought she might be bad. He has a long grey beard and black eyes. He knows that Cristal will become overwhelmed by the vision and he knows what conclusion she will come to in the end because it’s the same conclusion he came to several years ago, in the same exact way she did.
She won’t ever realize that he genuinely liked her and wanted to protect her, but this will be seen by the readers at the very end of the story. When Cristal begins to question the point of trying to be a good person, he gently ensures that she won’t veer off onto the path of apathy or rebellion by gently reminding her of her roots.
This draft is far from complete but I wanted to make this post today as a baseline. Throughout the next couple of months feel free to check-in for updates to see how I develop this story further. Happy Friday!
It’s been a while! I just wanted to give a quick update on what you can expect from this blog from now on. It’s safe to say I definitely experienced another episode of “writer’s block.” This time it wasn’t that I didn’t have ideas of things to write about. My busy schedule, a lot of life changes, and the pressures of having to constantly come up with new ideas all resulted in me taking a break from all of my digital platforms.
However, once it was time to come back, I was nervous that it had been too long. Then another month passed and then another and then another…
So I’m finally ripping the Band-Aid off and posting! From now on, once every other week I will post a one-hour-long podcast episode. On my Podcast, I like to give movie reviews, book reviews, comment on popular trends in literature and talk about relevant social issues that come up in the writing space.
As far as the blog you’re reading right now goes, I will post at least once a week. I will post poetry, fiction stories, tips for freelance writers, and digital marketing updates that pertain to freelance writers. I may post less, and I may post more, but you can expect a post once a week from now on at minimum.
For my Instagram account, my long-term goal is to post three times a week, but for now, I can only commit to one day a week. On my Instagram, I post poetry that you can’t find on my website and more tips for freelance writers! Over the past year, I have definitely learned the value of setting realistic goals and following through on them. Even though I’ve done a good job of following through on this in my personal life, I haven’t done such a great job when it comes to AJ’s Creative Corner.
So these are the goals for 2022, I’m very excited about a new beginning and I will see you guys next week!
So, you want to start your journey as a Freelance writer on Fiverr, but you have mixed emotions about it. You might have heard that Fiverr is a great platform to utilize as a Freelancer and earn some extra money on the side, or you may have heard the downsides of Fiverr. They take 20% of your earnings, they’re known to attract bargain hunting clients, and the platform has practically become a meme among popular YouTubers at this point.
I can’t tell you if Fiverr is the best platform for you and the specific services that you offer, but I can give my honest opinion after being a seller on the platform for a few months. In this article I will discuss the pros & cons of Fiverr for freelance writers, and I will give you some tips on how to get started if you choose to starting selling on Fiverr.
The good part about Fiverr.
In my opinion, there’s no shame in getting started on Fiverr. Use it as an experiment. Before I started Fiverr I had no clue what niche I wanted to write for. After running one Gig that’s gotten 1K impressions and 10 5-star reviews (I’m a little picky about the clients I agree to work for), I’ve noticed what industries I am attracting to my gigs and what topics I enjoy writing about. I have created content for realtors, construction companies, lifestyle blogs, dating websites, and more! I would have never known that I enjoy these niches, had I not had a platform to explore this. It’s a learning process!
Earn money to reinvest into your business.
Another reason to use Fiverr when you first get started as a Freelancer, is to earn some money that you can reinvest into your business! We hear it time and time again. “Just stop buying that cup of coffee every morning.” “Quit ordering takeout.” “Skip a night out in order to save money.” There’s always this assumption that we secretly have money hidden away to invest in a brand new freelancing business, but the truth is, sometimes you just don’t have the money to spare! You don’t have to stop purchasing the little things that bring you joy, and some of us (especially the parents out there) need every cent of our current income for living expenses and necessities. So the best part about getting started on Fiverr? Once you start making money, you can use these funds to invest in your business further.
Some other pros about Fiverr is that they have a resolution center you can utilize, the platform allows you to easily make custom orders, you set your own prices, and (this is a big one) you are guaranteed to get paid if you deliver work to your client. One of the biggest challenges of being a freelancer is trying to chase down payments and make sure that you aren’t being scammed. Fiverr eliminates this worry since they collect the payment. Customers have to put down their credit card information before they place an order with you, so as long as everything works out and the order eventually gets marked as complete, you will get paid!
Finally, one last pro of this platform is that customers can tip you! After you have delivered an order, and your client marks it as complete, they have the option to review and tip you! This tip money will be paid to you on top of whatever they paid you for the Gig, but keep in mind that just like everything else, Fiverr will take a percentage of this tip. (If you have a positive experience with a Fiverr seller, and it’s financially feasible, please remember to tip!)
I used my first deposit from Fiverr to buy a P.O. box for 6 months so that I can start an Email list (Legally you have to provide an address at the bottom of your Email newsletter), where I mail out a weekly newsletter to small business owners. This helps me find future clients and meet other business owners! I couldn’t have afforded this in the beginning without that money from Fiverr. You may want to invest in a Canva subscription, buy office supplies, purchase video editing software, or use the additional income to start running advertisements on social media to promote your business. The point is, you can take this money from Fiverr and use it as seed money to market yourself on other platforms. Fiverr can (and probably should) be a stepping stone, not the final destination.
The downsides of using Fiverr.
Now it’s time for us to discuss the cons. What’s the biggest downside of Fiverr? They take 20% of your earnings when you first start out. That’s a lot. The benefit to Fiverr is that you don’t have to have previous experience or published work in order to use their platform. This is why they seem to attract brand new freelance writers more than any other freelance platform. The downside of this, is they take more of your earned income than other freelance platforms.
Another con is that Fiverr is a bargain hunting platform. This means that most clients on there are looking for the lowest price possible, but they still have extremely high expectations. This is the main reason that Fiverr is a stepping stone and not the final destination. Just remember to prioritize other avenues of income, and maybe offer low word count articles, that way you don’t spend a long time working on orders that won’t help you pay the bills.
The clients you meet on Fiverr stay on Fiverr.
Fiverr has a very strict policy that you cannot contact clients outside of Fiverr. So if you get an awesome repeat client on Fiverr, you can’t contact them on social media outside of Fiverr, set up a Zoom meeting (Fiverr does have it’s own video chat feature available for some clients), or fully market to them. If you decide to leave Fiverr, then you leave all of the contacts you have made on the platform, otherwise you violate the platform’s policy. It’s definitely not ideal but the positive side to that is that Fiverr will do the marketing for you and push your gig out to potential clients. This means that sometimes you will have had a gig running for months and one day randomly a brand new client will place an order with you, and you haven’t even been marketing your gig!
This is an incredible thing and also a potentially stressful thing. This is the biggest mistake I made in the beginning. Make sure you are consistently checking your Email notifications from Fiverr or logging onto Fiverr itself to see if any clients have messaged you or placed an order with you recently. Fiverr really cares about your average response time, so you want to respond to messages as quickly as possible! Remember that even if you haven’t had an order placed with you in awhile, it could happen randomly while you’re out on a Friday night, completely unaware. The last thing you want is for a client to pay for a gig that you put a 10 hour timer on, while you’re out for the night and away from your phone.
Luckily, Fiverr does have a few features in place to help you with this. Fiverr allows you to put a cap on your orders. For example, for my most popular gig I have changed my settings so that I can only have 3 active orders going on for that Gig at the same time. (I learned the hard way that 4 orders at once can be a bit overwhelming for me personally!) You can always pause your Gig, be careful with this though, it can potentially mess with your Gig’s ranking. You can also set your availability on your profile. This means if you have a week when you are going out of town, you can tell Fiverr not to let anyone place an order with you that week. You can still message with clients while you are not accepting orders, in order to touch base and keep them in the loop. Finally, as a last resort, if someone placed an order with you and you either don’t have enough information or you just don’t have the time, you can cancel the order. This will definitely negatively impact your Gig’s ranking, but sometimes you just don’t have another choice so remember that this option is available to you.
Tips for getting started on Fiverr.
We have discussed the pros and cons of being a Freelance writer on Fiverr. What are some tips for brand new Freelance writers who are going to get started on Fiverr?
It’s not “quick” money.
When you first get started, please understand it’s not “quick” money and there’s a lot of waiting around that comes with Fiverr. When you first sign up for Fiverr (if you are located in the United States) you will have to fill out a W-9 form. You’ll have to know your social security number and be comfortable with sharing it in order to complete this form. You cannot be a seller on the platform without completing this form. It took a few days for my form to get reviewed and approved, then I could finally start getting my actual Fiverr shop up and running.
Then it came to my first payment. Fiverr is totally transparent about how getting paid works and they even discuss this further in some of the free learning courses that they offer. However….I didn’t pay attention to that part. At first it seemed so hopeless that I would ever get a Gig because wow, it felt like forever until someone finally placed an order with me. It took almost two months. However, when I finally did get that first order I wasn’t prepared for how long it would take to get paid.
Here’s a breakdown of how the order process on Fiverr works. Someone places an order with you. Before your timer runs out, you deliver the work to your buyer. Depending on how many revisions you’ve offered, your buyer can either request a revision or mark the order as complete. If they don’t do either of these actions, the order will automatically be marked as complete in 3 days. Once you have delivered your revisions and your buyer is satisfied, they will mark the Gig as complete. Then you have to wait 2 weeks until your funds are out of pending and are available for you to withdraw. On top of this, if you opt for direct deposit, you have to wait until your information gets approved and then your first payment can take up to 7 days to be deposited into your account. My funds were deposited right away but still, after all of the waiting I had to do for every other step I was starting to get nervous.
I’m not intending to criticize the platform for this waiting time but I do find it important to mention. If you’re planning on using your Fiverr earnings to pay a time sensitive bill, please be aware of the waiting time that comes with withdrawing your earnings!
Run multiple Gigs.
The best advice I can give to a beginner on Fiverr for any job or niche, is to make sure you are running multiple Gigs. Change them all up so that there is something different about each one. Running multiple gigs and giving it a little time (This could be anywhere from 1 month to 10 months!) will eventually lead you to getting your first client.
For example, my main job is producing blog content but I also create social media templates, social media calendars, and have consulting services to help business owners review their social media accounts. I ran a Gig for each of the skills I had. I experimented with different cover images, prices, targeting specific industries, etc. Also, do not upload multiple Gigs at the same exact time on the same exact day. It sounds crazy but I swear it matters! Sometimes one Gig will perform better than another just because it was uploaded at a time when more people were online. I can’t tell you what time you should aim for, but definitely make sure to mix it up.
A lot of people will try to tell you that you need to lower your prices, but the truth is, you might just have to give it time. Buyers have a hard time taking a chance on a brand new seller with 0 reviews when they could instead place an order with a seller whose had multiple clients and has multiple glowing reviews.
I decided to make my prices extremely low when I first started out in order to be competitive with experienced sellers, and it worked! However…it came at a cost. I have undervalued my work. I’m not even joking I had a client message me to tell me that I lowballed myself and that the work I delivered exceeded all of their expectations so I should raise my prices. On the one hand, I was super excited to deliver quality work that they enjoyed! On the other hand…ouch…I spent 3 hours on a job I got paid $30 for. It’s not the worst thing in the world but I definitely could be doing better.
Be careful when you lower your prices to stay competitive. Don’t do so at your own expense and remember, that after you get a few positive reviews, it’s okay to start raising your prices!
You should be offering sample work.
Even if you have never ever had a paid gig as a writer, you should still have sample work. Let me explain. Buyers don’t want to take a chance on a brand new seller without some sort of social proof, so…offer them social proof! Stand out from other beginners by putting in your Gig’s description and creating an FAQ for all of your Gigs that lets potential buyers know that you are happy to offer sample work to anyone who requests it.
You can either identify the niche you want to write for and pick 3 topics you think people in that niche would find valuable, then write sample articles about these topics. Or, if you don’t have the slightest clue what niche you want to write for, that’s fine too! I went on Indeed and looked at topics that employers wanted freelance writer applicants to write about and I wrote about those topics. I keep a folder saved on my laptop of all of my sample work. That way when someone requests it, I can give them work that I think relates best to what topic they want me to write about.
Last but certainly not least, buyer requests. If you’ve already ran multiple gigs and offered sample work and you feel like you want to scream because you still haven’t gotten a gig, there’s one more thing you can do! When you’re on your selling profile (make sure you didn’t accidentally switch your profile to “buying”), go to the top menu and select the “more” button. Then select “Buyer Requests.” Buyers will post requests like “looking for someone to write an SEO-friendly blog article for my construction website” and you have the ability to send them a custom offer! If they like your prices and like what you’re offering, then they might become your first client! The longer you have Fiverr opened on your computer the more Buyer Requests you will be able to see. Check it multiple times throughout the day and don’t be alarmed if at times it says there are 0 requests. I promise it won’t be 0 forever. You can send up to 10 offers a day this way.
So, are you thinking of trying Fiverr? let me know in the comments below!
P.S. time for a shameless self plug, but I am currently running a new Gig on Fiverr where I write blog content for small businesses. If you’re interested send me a message on Fiverr, I’d love to chat!