Avoid Loser Writing Clients With This Quickie Checklist

by Carol Tice – 21 Comments

freelance writer tries to find ideal client Bad clients are the bane of every freelance writer’s life.

Once we get one, we tend to feel stuck. It can take ages to find a better client and let that annoying, low-paying client go.

I actually heard recently from one writer who’d been writing for one underpaying client for 12 years. She wanted to know how she could get a raise out of them. After you’ve been their dormat for over a decade, that’s going to be tough.

Please, don’t do this!

Luckily, there is a fairly simple way to avoid getting stuck in long-term relationships with bad freelance writing clients. It has to do with getting in touch with how you feel when you’re offered a gig.

Call it your Martian antenna. Your spidey-sense. Your inner homing pigeon.

But whatever you call it, you have an instinct within you that can help you detect bad client situations — and I’m going to teach you how to use it right now. It’s one of four critical factors you want to see to feel confident this is a great client for you to take on.

1. Listen to your gut

Writers have instincts about whether a client is going to be good for them. Unfortunately, in our rush to book another dollar of income, we often ignore them.

Instead, I want you to focus on what your gut tells you about the client.

When you’re talking to them, do you feel relaxed? Are you having a good time? Or do you feel sort of nervous and sick to your stomach.

Do they seem sort of crazy? Like a big bullshitter?

Most importantly, could you imagine yourself working with this person over a prolonged period?

If the answer is ‘no,’ you want to pass.

For instance, I once got a reach-out from a guy who wanted to do an initial Skype conversation. I dial him up, and the guy wants to free-associate with me about his vague writing project ideas, while Rush Limbaugh blasts on TV in the background — and he walks his treadmill, in a sweaty t-shirt. I thought he was a bombastic blowhard, and I quickly passed.

I prefer people who treat me professionally, so my “gut” said no on this one.

Another gut-check moment is if you ask about a contract or an up-front deposit, and the client balks. This is a big red flag that they don’t deal much with freelancers, and won’t be a pleasant experience for you.

When you only work for clients who make you feel good, life is good. And you tend to earn more. You’ll do better work for clients you like, and who you get a good vibe from. So tune in to what your gut is telling you about the client, and follow its lead.

2. Qualify your prospect

Besides relying on your gut instincts about whether this is a growth opportunity for you and you like the client on a personal level, you need to research your prospect to see if they’re a good publication or company to work for.

This doesn’t have to take days to do, thanks to The Google (as we old bags like to say). Google “problems at X company” or “X magazine sucks” and see what comes up. Can be a real eye-opener sometimes.

Also, be sure to ask around your network – anybody worked for this client before? How slow do they pay? How well?

Finally, if it’s a company, return to The Google to check them out on Hoover’s or Manta, or find them in a local business journal. See if you can get a sense of annual revenue, or of subscriber numbers, for a magazine. Read a magazine’s advertisers’ guide and find out if readers are plentiful, or well-off. You want at least one or the other.

Find out how long this prospect has been around. For a company, you want at least $1 million in revenue — and $10 million is better. $100 million, even better. I recently spoke to one writer who said she was marketing to small businesses with $100,000 in revenue. Honey, that’s just too small to have any kind of a serious marketing budget.

3. Think reputation

Next, to make sure you’ve got a great client on the hook, consider how important reputation is to them.

Could they not pay you, without damage to their business? Are they shadowy figures that only do business online, from some far-off land? Ask yourself if a well-placed tweet about your overdue payment would cause them big trouble.

I prefer to look for companies and magazines that have worked hard to build their reputation, and are motivated to keep it.

For instance, one current client of mine is a mergers-and-acquisitions consultant. It’s critical that he uphold an impeccable reputation, so that clients trust him to sell their businesses and get them the money they need to retire. It would be unthinkable for him to stiff me on $1,000 he owes me — it’s just not worth the reputation risk.

That means I can relax and enjoy the gig. I’ve got no worries about payment.

4. Ask this question

Finally, as I look back on my favorite gigs — the wonderful editors and companies that paid super-great — I find they have one thing in common. It wasn’t so much the great pay, though that was usually there.

Here’s the key question to ask to find out if this is really a client with terrific potential to help you career:

Is there an opportunity to learn something new here?

Nearly every great client I’ve had provided me with opportunities to stretch my skills. They pushed me, forced me to dig deeper, to do one more interview, to rewrite it one more time, to learn a new writing style or project type.

At Forbes, for instance, they actually put on training Webinars for the blogging crew! I love them for it. I’ve learned a ton from them about how to get a big audience for a blog post, and it keeps me engaged and excited to write for them.

I’ve had other clients where they offered me the opportunity to learn new types of writing — to write my first case study, special report, and white paper, for instance.

Many writers avoid these “stretch” gigs, worrying that they won’t be able to pull them off. That’s not the right attitude for a successful freelance writer.

Instead, think of yourself as a first responder, like the firemen and medics who run towards the fire, while everyone else flees. This is your role as a freelance writer — you should be compulsively drawn to the challenge of executing a tough assignment.

Nearly all the really great-paying assignments require this sort of daring.

So take the tough gigs. Keep learning. When you think you’ve learned all you can with a client, it’s probably time to start looking to replace them with one that will challenge you in new ways.

How do you avoid bad clients? Leave a comment and add your tips.

Freelance writer tries to avoid the bad clients

How to Land International Freelance Clients for 2015 — Now

by Carol Tice – 24 Comments

Young successful woman looking at worldmap with profile photos oBy Amy Dunn Moscoso

Are you losing out on local freelance clients because they don’t have the budget for freelancers or because other writers work for less?

You don’t have to limit yourself to local clients. Start thinking globally.

You can build a rocking list of international freelance clients — and secure work for 2015 — with a few simple steps.

Generate leads with global trade shows

Want to break into a new industry? Beef up your client roster? Targeting global trade shows can help you land awesome clients.

My past experience as an agency trade show publicist taught me that companies have:

  • robust trade show marketing budgets
  • urgent need for written marketing materials and press kits
  • time-starved employees who can’t write and work

Recently, I generated red hot leads by pitching global trade shows. I found a Siemens site listing energy tradeshows, selected three and pitched blog articles, brochures, LinkedIn profiles, and media kits to:

  • show managers (the person who knows everyone)
  • sponsors (with juicy budgets)
  • exhibitors (who want to get the best return on their investment)

How I’m getting gigs for 2015: Tradeshows often run a fall and spring version. I offered to handle both. Two leads have emailed their fall and spring requirements, and one even asked if I’m able to write up an industry awards submission in February.

Act as a Local Contact

Does your city, region, or country dominate an industry?

Here’s your chance to activate your PR knowledge. Pitch yourself to international companies attending events, meetings, or conferences as a local contact who writes appropriate:

  • press kits
  • social media campaigns
  • marketing materials

I recently landed a CEO speaker package with a CEO in France, who is presenting in Toronto. I also provided cultural dos and don’ts and Canadian references to help him connect with the audience.

How I’m driving work for 2015: I pitched myself as a Canadian Special Projects Writer. This company has work for year end in March and needs to communicate “in Canadian.”

Position Yourself as a Cultural Consultant

Are overseas companies setting up offices in your town? Here’s your chance to grab work before the local competition descends. Send an LOI that pitches:

  • city guides
  • a package on business etiquette
  • a family resources kit

I’ve landed this kind of work through an agency. During the research, I interviewed local business and government experts which resulting in landing these contacts as clients.

Lining up work for 2015: My family is moving to China, so I’m researching how to settle small children and import Ziggy, our mini-poodle, sans quarantine. I pitched an ongoing ex-pat life blog to five Fortune 500 companies in my new city that recruit North Americans. So far, I have one hot lead.

Secure your 2015 Income

Put an end to the freelancer feast-and-famine cycle and fill in your fall and spring schedule by going global. You may find that once you’ve added international clients to your portfolio, local contacts start banging down your door, too.

How do you target far-flung companies? Share your top tips in the comments below.

Amy Dunn Moscoso is a Canadian B2B writer who works with IT, SaaS, and small business-focused companies, publications, and entrepreneurs around the world. Drop by her blog to talk content marketing.


140 Websites That Pay Writers in 2014

by Carol Tice – 25 Comments

Online markets that pay freelance writersBy Jennifer Roland

Way back in 2010, Carol decided to bust a move here on the blog.

As an advocate for writers seeking out good-paying work rather than writing for “exposure” or pennies, she decided it was time to start paying the writers who guest posted here.

Then, something really cool happened. Other bloggers started paying their guest posters, too. Some were inspired directly by Carol, and some blog owners just decided on their own that great content was worth paying for. So Carol gathered a list of those blogs as a resource for her readers.

But things on the Internet change fast. Fourteen months later, it’s time to post an updated list.

Our 2014 list of blogs that pay

Here is Carol’s fresh, new list of websites that pay at least $50 for guest posts. They’re listed alphabetically:

  1. Be a Freelance Blogger — Sophie Lizard hosts a contest six times a year for one guest blogger to win $100 for their post. The contest is judged on outlines, so you don’t have to write the post on spec.
  2. HouseLogic — This site operated by the National Association of Realtors pays $1 a word — Carol had an opportunity to interview their editor for an article for The 2013 Writer’s Market. If you’ve got a good twist on a shelter story and strong reporting skills, this could be a great place for you.
  3. Make a Living Writing — Carol pays $50 a post. Due to overwhelming response, though, she now only takes guest posts from students or grads of Freelance Writers Den or Jon Morrow’s Guest Blogging course.
  4. Patch  — AOL’s Patch.com, as of this writing, often pays $50 and up for short blog post–like articles. Patch closed many of its hyperlocal news sites at the end of 2013, so do a little research to see if there’s still a Patch near you.
  5. Read.Learn.Write. — Paying $50 a post after seeing Carol’s Problogger post about paid guesting in Feb. 2012. (We just got word that Read. Learn. Write. is not accepting guest posts.)
  6. David Worrell’s blog, Rock Solid Finance was the first niche blogger to jump on the bandwagon and start paying $50 for guests posts back in late 2010.
  7. SlickWP — Are you a WordPress pro? Then this might be a great place for you to write. They pay $50 per post plus a link back to your site.
  8. Social Alexis — This is actually a group of sites, including The Penny Hoarder and Brazen Careerist. Some of the sites pay $50+ or a link, so make sure you’re pitching a paid post and that the editor agrees on the fee BEFORE you submit your final work.
  9. Strong Whispers — This multi-topic site is paying $50 a post.
  10. Tuts+ — Tuts+ is owned by Envato, which used to run Freelance Switch. Carol guest blogged for Freelance Switch for quite a while. They pay around $75 for shorter posts, and can pay $150 or so for longer ones.
  11. The Work Online Blog — This site is all about how to run an online business, serve clients, and other topics related to the gig economy. They also pay $50.
  12. Your Online Biz — Darnell Jackson is paying $100 a post, so this is another great market to look at if you’re a pro at building your business online.

Not enough for you?

Other bloggers in Carol’s network have created lists of paying blogs — between this list and the ones linked below, that’s 140 potential guest post markets for you.

Even more paying markets

Two are by Bamidele Onibalusi of Writers in Charge, and one is by the above-mentioned Sophie Lizard of Be a Freelance Blogger. One is part of a larger market listing on Jennifer Mattern’s site, All Indie Writers. The final one is from the freelance-training site Matador — it’s a little older, but it lists a wide range of online sites and blogs that pay at least a bit.

Here are the links to grab those lists:

I compared these lists to make sure I didn’t overstate how many blogs out there are paying. And even when you ignore the duplicates, there are still 140 unique paying websites and blogs here.

Not too shabby. Hope these resources help you find more paying online markets!

Have you gotten paid to guest post? Tell us about your guest-blogging experience in the comments below.

Jennifer Roland is a freelance writer, and the guest-blog editor here at Make a Living Writing. She focuses on edtech, lifestyle topics, marketing and public relations, and content creation. Her latest book, 10 Takes on Writing, will be out in late 2014.

Your 7 Favorite Posts About Freelance Writing — So Far

by Carol Tice – 20 Comments

Seven great blog posts about freelance writingHey, writers!

Looking for a little summertime inspiration to get your freelance writing in gear?

Well, I noticed that my January roundup of the most popular posts of 2013 was the most popular post I’ve done here on the blog so far this year. Apparently, you find these best-of compendiums useful.

So I’m here to help with another handy set of popular posts — these are from the first half of 2014. I’m actually out in the Internetless countryside in Colorado right now, but wanted to keep you stocked with useful info to grow your freelance writing income while I’m gone.

Here are the seven Make a Living Writing posts that had the most readers the week they published:

  1. Why You Need to Go For Your Freelance Writing Dream Now
  2. What the Elance-oDesk Merger Means for Freelance Writers
  3. I Quit My Job to Be a Freelance Writer: What Was I Thinking?
  4. Writers: Soar Like an Olympian With These 4 Key Traits
  5. Use This Simple Tool to Move Forward With Your Freelance Writing
  6. Writing for Guardian Liberty Voice: 10 Writers’ Stories
  7. The 4 Worst Places for Freelance Writers to Start



What was your favorite post about freelance writing this year so far?
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