Get Answers to Your Freelance Writing Questions [Contest!]

Carol Tice

Get your freelance writing questions answered here.Have you got a question about freelance writing? Something that mystifies you and holds you back from pursuing this career full out, because you don’t want to look stupid?

If so, you’re not alone.

Freelance writing questions flood in every day on my email, on my Facebook page, in my blog comments. I started Freelance Writers Den to create a forum for more easily getting questions answered.

It’s the Den’s 4th anniversary this week (don’t miss the picture of me wearing a party hat!). Over 60,000 forum comments later, the questions keep on coming.

I hate it when writers tell me they’re not taking action, because they don’t know what to do. You can get the info you need fairly easily! Here’s how:


Do this first

Before you ask anyone else, ask yourself: Could I figure this out myself, between me and Google? Writers are constantly asking me questions that make me wonder if their Google is broken, or perhaps doesn’t work as well as mine.

It’s a good skill for freelance writers to be self-reliant, so see what you can do on your own.

If you’ve still got questions about that, there are three basic moves that will answer nearly any writing question you have:

1. Ask your editor.

I’ve heard a million questions that have to do with the article writing process. And the vast majority of them can be answered by simply asking your editor.

I know — writers are scared to do that. They think it reveals they’re an amateur. So instead, they ask everyone else. Even though no one else but your editor can answer questions like:

  • What if my source isn’t getting back to me, and my deadline is looming?
  • If my original idea isn’t panning out, what should I do?
  • When will I get paid?
  • Is this based on wordcount or a flat fee?

In fact, pros ask their editors questions like this all the time. So if you’ve got an assignment, just go ahead and ask your editor for all the details.

I’ve seen editors spend hours wringing their hands about what to do on an assignment, when a 2-minute call to their editor would have cleared it up. Don’t do this to yourself!

2. Find experts.

If you don’t have a current assignment, or you have questions about how to market your writing and find good-paying clients, you need another experienced writer, editor, or marketing manager to guide you. You might network and find a friend of a friend who’s willing to walk you through how the freelance writing game works.

Or better yet, you can find a community of writers, where you can tap many peoples’ experience.

That’s what Freelance Writers Den is really all about. At this point, we’ve got about 1,400 writers sharing strategies and giving each other courage. That’s a lotta knowledge. We also have a pro staff of about two dozen experienced writers and editors, too.

There are plenty of other online communities, but the quality of feedback you can get on the free ones tends to be spotty. I know, because I belonged to quite a few before I created the Den — and I built the Den partly because of the bogus baloney I was seeing on some of the free places.

Paid membership platforms attract pros, and newbies who are dead-serious about getting started, so the quality of information tends to be way better.

When you get a chance to try out a new community, jump on it. You can do that Thursday, by the way, for Freelance Writers Den — everyone who has signed up on this list will be able to get a 1-day free pass. Come, ask a question, watch a video — get the info you need.

3. Get a guidebook.

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 11.51.59 AMI’ve written several e-books to answer writer questions already, and of course Amazon is full of e-books on freelance writing.

But I’m particularly proud of my new one that’s about to come out: 100+ Freelance Writing Questions Answered.Β (NOTE: This book is out, and you can get it for FREE just by signing up for Make a Living Writing updates. Check out the sidebar for the form.)

And yes, it really does have answers to more than 100 classic freelance writing questions in it — real questions asked by you, my blog readers.

This e-book is my question-answering encyclopedia. It organizes answers I’ve given into 15 handy chapters by topic, and also includes the full posts I’ve written to answer mailbag questions I’ve gotten over the years.

How can you get your hands on the 100+ Questions guidebook? As I write this, we’re still finishing up the files.

But all Den members will have a chance to grab a free advance copy in the 4 days starting Thursday, when the Den reopens for new members. Free e-books are just one of the many perks of Den membership.

Contest rules & prizes

To celebrate the 4th anniversary of the Den, I’m giving away four bundles of goodies to four lucky winners. You’ll need to post today or tomorrow to be considered — I’ll be writing up the post announcing the winners Wednesday night.

Here’s how the contest will work:

In the comments below, ask me your biggest question about freelance writing. What’s holding you back?

Most interesting or unusual questions will win.


Here’s a look at the four prizes on offer:

WINNER 1: The mega-bundle!

  • A 1-month free pass to Freelance Writers Den
  • All 4 Freelance Writers Den ebooks (The Step by Step Guide to Freelance Writing Success, How to Be a Well-Paid Freelance Blogger, Freelance Business Bootcamp, How to Get Great Freelance Clients)
  • 5 more ebooks! Including an advance copy of my soon-to-be-released e-book, 100+ Freelance Writing Questions Answered, Start Here: 40 Freelance Writers Share, 13 Ways to Get the Writing Done Faster + Linda Formichelli’s e-books Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race, and The Renegade Writer’s Query Letters That Rock
  • A 30 minute mini-mentor session with Carol
  • Linda’s Query Checklist


  • A 1-week free pass to the Den
  • 4 Den e-books
  • 3 More e-books — 100+ Questions, Start Here, and 13 Ways
  • Linda’s Query Checklist


  • 1 week free pass to the Den
  • 4 Den ebooks
  • Bonus e-book: 100+ Freelance Writing Questions Answered.


  • 1 week free pass to the Den

Additionally: ANYONE whose question is *not* covered in the 100+ Questions e-book will win a free copy of the e-book! I defy you to ask something that isn’t included! This e-book is pretty comprehensive.

I’ll answer at least five of the most interesting and unusual questions in a post on Thursday, and announce the contest winners.

Good luck, everyone! Deadline to submit is 5 pm Eastern on Wednesday.

What’s your freelance writing question? Leave it in the comments to win Den access, e-books, and more!

NOTE: This contest has ended. Congratulations to the winners!

Avoid writing scams: Join Freelance Writers Den



  1. Daryl

    I don’t have a question to ask you Carol, but I’d say that the “Do this first” section is really, REALLY important. Every freelance writer should make Google their best friend, as there is TONS of information online that many freelance writers can access to propel their career.

    • Carol Tice

      Right on, Daryl — when writers tell me, “I can’t find this editor’s email address anywhere!” I just feel I’m not talking to someone who’s serious about doing this — because I can usually turn it up with about 5 minutes’ work on Google.

      One time, a writer told me they couldn’t find the email addresses for editors at Costco Connection – when their masthead INCLUDES each editor’s email address, and it’s viewable online! You need a certain curiosity and persistence to be a magazine writer.

    • Steve Ogden

      What’s holding me back from jumping into a full-time career in freelancing *seems* to be a lack of self-confidence, though that makes little sense. I’ve often been paid for my writing and even managed once to snag a regular column in a local paper, so it’s logical that I can’t be terrible at it. Figuring that maybe the problem was that I’ve been pursuing a style that didn’t suit my authentic self, I bought a 12 lesson course in copywriting from AWAI. That was months ago, and I’ve done three lessons so far. At the edge of my conscious mind is this little voice that I can very faintly hear, saying: you’re a fraud. But I’m not! So my question is, what’s the best possible way for me to believe I actually am a writer?

      • Carol Tice

        Steve, I know AWAI’s courses are very focused on direct-response, and on writing persuasive copy. Maybe that’s just not for you? (I know more than one person who’s told me all they learned from AWAI’s class was that they didn’t want to write direct response!)

        There are a lot of different ways to earn as a writer. I personally have earned a very healthy living as a freelancer staying completely on the informational-copy side — white papers, case studies, blog posts, and informational Web pages. You may just not love hard-selling things to people. As someone who came out of journalism, that didn’t come naturally to me, either, so I steered clear of it.

        The good news is that there’s increasing call for informational, soft-sell forms of writing, so there’s plenty of opportunity for those of us who don’t want to carve out a career writing “Buy now!”

  2. Marya

    How can a middle aged mom (with no college) who’s been home with the kids for over 20 years get started in freelance writing? I have experienced some success with VA work and some web content ghost writing but I want to kick my earning potential up. I’d like to target non profits, health and wellness, special needs parenting.

    • Renee Toikka

      The same way those of us with 14 years of experience, but no samples, do we fake it until we make it. we take the AMAZING Escape the Content Mills course, build a webssite, write brand new samples and go look for client with those samples. I know writing article and not getting paid seems counterintuitive, but you really are your best customer. write articles for yourself, publish them on your own site, be your best customer because you are worth it!

      • Marya

        Thank you…I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to write samples before smh…

    • Carol Tice

      You might check out my Escape the Content Mills course, Marya, for a road map to breaking in without falling for scams or writing for pennies. College isn’t a requirement if you write well — I’m a college dropout.

  3. Sid

    How can Non Native Writers position themselves to get high paying writing gigs?

  4. Melinda Liu

    Hi Carol!
    After hanging around at your wonderful website and learning a lot of useful lesson, I am convinced that this is the right time to start my freelance business. So I need to built a website. Then KAPOW! There are several things show up:
    1. English is my second language. Should I create it in two languages?
    2. How about the blog? Should it be bilingual, too for every post?
    3. What if my English is not good enough for the market?

    • Carol Tice

      Melinda, see the links in my reply to Sid. Hope they help!

  5. Indichik

    Help! What happens when my editors find out I’m a fraud?(Not a fraud in that I’m not a real writer–I am. I just constantly feel like I’m not nearly as competent as I portrayed myself when I got hired–and that they’ll find out!)

    • Renee Toikka

      But you are a real writer. You are fabulous. you are a rare breed of person who chooses the time honored and gruelingly hard profession and art of writing. I used to try to help peopel who were lookign for work. I used to point them towards writing. SOOO many people shied away from writing because “it is just too hard” and “it takes too much effort” and guess what, it is one of the hardest jobs. Not because it is physically demanding, thats easy, but because it is mentally demanding to choose to study, read, write, edit, and critique yourself day in and day out. If you are putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and putting out halfway decent arguments and text, you are a writer, and you are then a professional the moment you get aid for it.

  6. Anagha Patil

    My question is :

    Does writing only for a niche restrict your exposure or in turn boosts it?

  7. Paulo Roldan

    ΒΏHow can I get real-world feedback about the quality of my writing and how can I improve it before I consider getting paying clients?

  8. Mark

    Hi,Carol. I’m what Barbara Sher refers to as a “scanner,” always jumping from one interest to another and having relatively short bursts of focused intensity. With this type of personality and countless topics grabbing for my attention, does selecting a niche make sense for me? I’ve been a believer that I need to select one and stick with it, but I find the very thought of that can cause me anxiety. Thanks!

  9. Bethany Woll

    What can I do as a student to set up/prepare for/start freelancing? I feel like being a student gives me a lot of freedom and opportunities that I might not otherwise have, but it also comes with extreme financial situations. Not only am I not making any money, but I’m still going into debt. Most resources that talk about getting into freelancing seem to assume you have a full time job. So how can I make the most of this last year before I graduate?

  10. Cherrilynn Bisbano

    love this contest. I just started submitting articles to Magazines and Trade pubs. Of course I have been rejected. Can using another Freelancers name as a referral help increase my chances to get a paying gig?(of course I know the person).
    Thanks for all you do.

  11. Williesha Morris

    Hey Carol! I don’t have a question as I’m already in the Den and have all the books (clearly a mega fan) but I did want to say people who have been doing this for a long time still run into issues now and then, and that’s why the Den is awesome. Working on my white papers one-sheet hopefully soon.

    • Carol Tice

      Thanks for the rave, Willi!

  12. Linda Hamilton

    I’ve been writing for over 3 decades. I’m a published writer and have my own writing business. But I sometimes think that I need to take a new writing for articles/magazines course to know if I’m still savvy on how to write articles for publication. I’m not sure if it’s a confidence problem or just wondering if things have changed since I got my journalism degree 4 decades ago. My writing business is for business writing not articles for publications. And I honestly believe sometimes my ideas aren’t that story-worthy. What are you throughts?

  13. Linda Hamilton

    Whoops, I meant “thoughts” not “throughts”. Need to make sure my spelling is accurate before pressing SEND or REPLY.

    • Carol Tice

      Remember, you’re covered under my blog comment typo insurance policy. πŸ˜‰ Apologies/corrections not needed!

  14. Cherese Renee' Cobb

    Hi, Carol. This is an amazing contest! Thank you for running it. Here’s my question: According to Michael Leander, an award-winning international speaker, trainer, consultant, and board member, in order to have a good social media engagement rate, 1% of your subscribers need to like or tweet your article or blog post. I know that Make a Living Writing has 12,000 readers, so do you feel like your articles have to be tweeted or liked by 120 people in order for them to be sucessful?
    Cherese R. Cobb

  15. Wendy Dunlop Marr

    Hi Carol, I have purchased some of your e-books and find them helpful. For 20 years I worked as a journalist and editor for community newspapers and about 10 years ago was lured into the more lucrative communications world working for a politician. Since my boss is leaving office in the fall, I am looking for a career change, and freelancing writing/editing is my dream career. I have access to tons of my clips but they are more than 10 years old, other than press releases and newsletter pieces that are, of course, very political. Are my clips too outdated in this age of digital media and are slanted political pieces suitable for re-entering the world of objective writing?

    • Carol Tice

      Wendy, there’s no such thing as too-old clips. Just use what you’ve got!

      If you think you need different types of clips, consider doing a quick pro bono project for a client, to get the sample you want.

  16. Tom Bentley

    Carol, I don’t have any questions (other than, β€œDoes this keyboard make me look fat?”), but I have been freelancing for more than 20 years, and found that my year in the Den provided me with an incredible wealth of resources on pitching, contracts, marketing, and business processes. Equally important, clarity and direction on the attitude freelancers should take toward their businesses.

    Plus, a lot of plain, old support and camaraderie from peers and experts. It’s well worth the investment.

    • Carol Tice

      Glad the Den is helping, Tom!

  17. Michelle

    My question: I move back and forth between my writing and counseling/coaching practice. Should I promote both when I network and on my website, or should I compartmentalize each?
    Does it show an area of expertise, or does it make me seem too spread out for effectiveness in either area?

  18. Rohi Shetty

    Congratulations on the fourth anniversary of the Den and on the publication of your new book, Carol!

    My question is: How should new freelance writers decide what steps to take and in what order to maximize their chances of success and minimize mis-steps and shiny object syndrome?

    Thanks for this fun contest – I’m inspired by your constant innovations. And great idea to add [Contest!] to the headline.

    All the best to Linda and you.

    • Carol Tice

      It’s really all trial and error, Rohi — writers should do more and spend less time trying to second-guess themselves before taking action. I mean there are basic things to do like don’t write for pennies and avoid scams…but other than that, you have to try things out and see where the market responds to you.

  19. Tarang Sinha

    Hello! Really interesting article and I must add that the prizes for this contest are stunning!

    My question is: You may write captivating queries (And may get assignments), but what are the effective ways to turn those captivating queries into stunning and gripping articles?

    Thanks for this opportunity! Your upcoming book is seems resourceful. All the best! πŸ™‚

  20. Jinni Bradfield

    My question is, as a grant writer, how can I set a fee for writing nonprofit grant proposals without coming across as greedy when the organization is mostly volunteer?

    • Debbie DiFonzo

      Jinni –

      That is a great question! I have done some grant writing — all for free b/c I’ve always been afraid to ask for compensation. I’ve been successful in obtaining money for organizations and would love to do more of this but it is time consuming.

  21. Helen Brown

    Hi Carol!

    My question is pretty basic but I’ve been racking my brain, trying to consider what is truly holding me back, and the first step is this:

    I have drafted my LOI (Letter Of Introduction) — a term I learned thanks to you! — and I know to tweak it to be customised to each potential client, but do I print them and physically mail them to addresses? Or will emailing suffice?
    On one hand, I’m worried sending my LOIs in the post will make me look old-fashioned and not digitally forward-thinking. On the other hand, I’m worried emailing will make me seem lazy and unprofessional.

    Well: there it is!! πŸ˜‰ might seem ridiculous and petty but that is what’s holding me back… I don’t want to screw up the first most basic step and set myself up for a string of failures.

    • Rohi Shetty

      Hi Helen,
      It’s absolutely okay to email your LOIs. It’s standard practice, unless the guidelines specifically tell you to physically mail your LOI. So email your LOIs right away (make sure you send it to the email id of the editor). This is what Carol taught us in the Pitch Cinic.
      All the best.

      • Helen Brown

        Thanks for replying! πŸ™‚

        What am I waiting for???? lol

    • Carol Tice

      You can email them out, Helen.

  22. Berenice

    Hi Carol,

    Just recently found your blog a couple weeks ago and have really found inspiration and hope in establishing a better freelance writing career by “escaping the content mills.”

    So here are my questions:

    How do I transform myself into becoming a freelance writing industry leader/expert like yourself? Are there specific magical ingredients to becoming a successful freelance writing guru? What are the top 5 guiding principles/ lessons you have learned on your path to becoming a successful freelance writer?

    • Carol Tice

      Well, being a freelance writing coach is very different from being a freelance writer, Berenice.

      I hope I’m nobody’s guru — since what I’m trying to do is teach writers to be proactive and think for themselves.

      There isn’t a magical ingredient to becoming a coach — I worked nonstop for several years on it every waking moment. I literally did not see a TV show for 2.5 years. I learned, learned, learned. Kept asking readers what they needed and how I could help, and then did it.

      In fact, I wrote a whole post about this on Write to Done, you can take a look there:

      As far as being a successful freelance writer — well, the process was fairly similar. Lots of hard work. Learning everything on my own. That’s one reason I have a passion for coaching — want others to have shortcuts and get there faster! But it sounds like you might want to check out my Escape the Content Mills class — it’s over on Sounds like it’s what you’re looking for!

      • Berenice

        I apologize. I did not word the question accurately and both “guru” and “magical” were not the right choice of words. I have purchased the content mills course and look forward to it. Despite my poorly constructed question, you provided informative info. Thank you.

        • Carol Tice

          No apology needed, Berenice — I was just trying to get clarity on which one you wanted to know about! I am actually planning to expand that Write to Done post into an e-book with more details on exactly how I built this blog and this audience…hopefully this summer.

          Enjoy ECM — I think that’s really going to help you!

  23. Katherine Swarts

    I’m also already a Den member and thus not eligible for the contest, but I really would like to see this question covered soon:

    How does one balance the need for goal-setting with the need to make allowances for things one can’t control directly? E. g., is it right to set a goal to “earn $100,000 in the next twelve months” while being aware that the amount earned depends somewhat on others’ decisions to hire you or even on the state of the economy?

    Understand, I definitely don’t want to add to the ranks of people who are always making excuses and blaming their slow progress on outside factors. And I find that goals to make a certain amount of money (or find a certain number of clients) are more motivating for me personally than goals to “contact 20 people a day” (which can lead to rushing through them and neglecting to consider whether you’re actually promoting your business or just checking one more item off the list).

    On the other hand, I have to watch myself constantly to avoid a “my whole day is ruined” reaction every time someone reschedules an appointment or a task takes longer than expected.

    Does all that make sense?

    • Carol Tice

      Katherine, if goals like “make $100,000” work for you, use them. But my experience is that setting goals you can’t control, as you point out, is a bad idea. It’s just a way to feel like a failure when other people fail to do what you want them to.

      When you put all of it in your court, and focus on what YOU can do to earn more, your career moves forward.

    • Cat

      In one of Linda’s books (not sure which one), she suggests that instead of creating a monetary goal that you look at your income now and see how many query/LOIs you are sending out. Then you make the goal to increase the number of queries and LOIs to bring your income up. In example- if you are sending out 20 a month and that produces $1,000 in income, then if you send out 40 that could potentially increase it to $2,000, etc..

  24. Mary

    Hi Carol,

    Congratulations on your 4th year! The Writer’s Den is by far one of the most awesome and helpful places for freelance writers to get great direction and learn real-world skills. Thank you for all your hard work in making it happen.

    My question, or issue really, is that I totally agree with the concept of beginning to pitch in places where I have some sort of background and knowledge as a starting point. This makes perfect sense. I’ve worked in many different industries, primarily in a support role, but don’t really have expertise in any of them to give publications the in-depth meat they’re looking for.

    For example, I approached a trade pub (I know the editor personally) and he was very receptive to looking over a pitch/idea from me. When I sent him my article, just more a sample of my writing, he wanted me to focus more on upcoming trends and how-to’s vs. what I gave him.

    How do I know what upcoming trends, strategies and cost-saving strategies are hot in the Municipal sewer and water industry? How do I find good sources to interview for something like this? When I approached some of the guys I know who have been working in this field for 20+ years, they gave me blank stares like they have no clue what I’m talking about. If I don’t know, and they don’t know, how do any of us know? You know?

    Sorry for the novel, but there it is! Thanks again!

  25. Vicky Cox

    Wow Carol, this is exciting! Go you!

    Right now, I’m trying to create a resume as so many jobs are requiring it in addition to samples. What’s your recommendations for creating a winning writer’s resume when you’re a newbie writer with none to minimal experience?

  26. Louise Ochoa

    If you’re a Newbie and you submit your application to an ad that says “No Experience required”.

    Surprise! You get a quick response back but, it’s a very nicely written rejection email “Thank you but…”, how should you feel?

    I do understand being a newbie with no experience I will get plenty of rejections before I get my first job. What I don’t understand is I was told they have a full staff. Then, I went to the ad again today and it’s still listed? Do they forget to take down these ads or is it that they can’t just say thanks but no thanks?

  27. Raymonda

    Awesome contest! I’ve been wondering about this Den for awhile now but I haven’t been able to join. However, I’ve heard a lot of good things about it though.

    Is it to my benefit, as a new freelance writer, to take time out to learn SEO? I’ve seen quite a few freelance jobs where the client wants someone experienced in SEO content writing to improve search engine ranking. But many authorities in freelance blogging industry say that unique, high quality content is the best way to rank in the google search. If that’s the case, then why bother to learn to SEO and why would clients seek SEO content writers?

  28. Eileen Davis

    Been following this blog for awhile. It’s giving me ideas and my desire to raise rates, but I’m still in old contracts. Here’s my question: What do I do if I have too many ideas to write about?

  29. Manon

    Hi Carol,

    I’m a big fan of your blog, even though I usually write in my mother tongue: Dutch. Not everything works the same here, but in general your advice has been helping me. I thank you for that!

    I have found myself some customers in The Netherlands, so that’s all fine. But I’ve been wondering, being Dutch I can write English articles about Dutch subjects, like musea, tourist information, Amsterdam, Dutch ways of looking at the world, culture etc. I’d like to expand my activities, but I’m a little beat as to where I could find international clients for this kind of writing.

    Do you have any ideas?

  30. manish

    How I become perfact writer, without taking anyone’s guidance ?

    I am a non native writer and struggling a lot to become one of the good writer in the world.

  31. Christina Vasilevski

    Here’s my question: I’m working full-time on-site for a company right now as an independent contractor. I like the work and the people, and I would seriously consider giving up (or at least deprioritizing) my freelancing if they offered me an official job. Is this a good idea, or does it just means I’m not cut out for freelancing?

  32. Rebecka Reddick

    I understand the point of becoming an expert in your niche is to write about things you love and know.
    I love to write about travel, education, writing, and China.
    But…..I really want to publish fiction someday.
    I’m scared that if I become a freelancer blogger/journalist I might succeed and never get my fiction published? How does a writer make the leap between genres?

  33. Anquanette

    Hi Carol!

    My question is around pitching ideas. I have no clue on how to craft an idea that I can pitch in a query letter. How do you become better at creating ideas for stories? Usually you have ideas for a particular niche but mine is so saturated (food & travel) that I find it difficult differentiating myself in the market. I’ve tried looking into different markets but I don’t know how to even start the pitch about a subject I know very little about. As always, your insight is greatly appreciated.

    P.S. The Den rocks. I’d be even more confused without it!

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Anquanette — you know you can ask your questions in the Den, right? πŸ˜‰

      I’d suggest taking a look at Pitch Clinic — that’s exactly what it’s about. We work you HARD and by the end of this course, you have a sharp grasp of what makes an idea salable, especially in a competitive niche.

      In the meanwhile, you could check out the Den resources on ideas — there’s a Story Idea Lab in there with me and Linda F, as well as one with Diana Burrell. Those share a ton of techniques for developing great story ideas that sell.

  34. Cameron

    My question: How do I go about cultivating the sort of sources who have tons of insider knowledge, whether they’ve been in a given situation or industry for a while, or for years, if not decades? The sort of sources who could tip me off on a major story in the making, even if they insist on remaining anonymous.

    Ever since I’ve known about Uber’s vice president idea of putting a bounty on any journalist’s head for whatever dirt could be dug up on them, I wanted a way to wield the Sword of Damocles over those who would do the same to us. This is why I ask the question above.

  35. Arnaud

    Hi Carol, great contest! My questions are:

    1. Do you think it’s a good idea to do like James Chartrand and go undercover as a man when you’re a woman writer?

    2. I know you’re against content farms in general. What do you think of Danny Margulies’ success with Elance?

    Thanks and wishing you lots of success with the Den!

    • Carol Tice

      Not familiar with Danny — but there certainly are a few outliers who’ve done well on bid platforms. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of writers, they don’t seem to be a great place to hang out.

      For question #1, I think you’d have to ask James!

  36. Debbie

    Hi, Carol,

    I’m a librarian and have written some published articles for magazines and my local paper, but I am more interested in having my fiction published. I recently discovered some editors and agents who participate in pitching contests on Twitter where they will review parts of a novel. Are these competitions worth entering? Most of them are free. I am questioning what my focus should be and where my time is best spent to sell my fiction. I have self-published a novel, completed another that I am trying to publish traditionally, and working on a third. I also have several short stories that I am sending to contests and publishers and am taking online publishing classes and a WordPress class to start my own blog/website.

    • Carol Tice

      Debbie, fiction is really out of my wheelhouse here at MALW — we’re about all things in nonfiction writing. Sorry! Check out Writer Unboxed or Larry Brooks’ Storyfix, I’d say, for that.

      • Debbie

        Thanks, Carol. I had a feeling that was the case. Sorry about that. I still want to follow you and Writers Den for my articles. Here’s a question about those. Since most print publications now have websites and/or blogs, how can a freelancer know which one is better to submit a particular query to if both the print magazine and online magazine cover the same topics? Would it be inappropriate to simultaneously submit a query to the same print and online publication?

        • Carol Tice

          First question: By studying the publication and the site and seeing where your idea is a better fit (or just pitching whichever pays better!).

          Second one: Yeah…I wouldn’t hit 2 editors at once at the same publication. Pick your best shot and ask them to forward it if they’re not the right person. That’s how I close most of my queries!

  37. Sara

    I love that you’ve started more offerings for non-newbie freelance writers. I’ve been a freelance writer and editor for more than 15 years, but I know that I need to keep learning and evolving.

    You’ve created the Freelance Writers Den and a variety of courses and ebooks. Do you think additional products and services are necessary for writers to be successful or are they a natural progression in a career?

    • Carol Tice

      There’s no one answer to that, Sara — it’s so individual, what each freelance writer needs. I personally never read a book or had a group I belonged to…which is one reason it took YEARS to build my business. Books and communities are shortcuts you can take to get there faster…and what you need to learn depends on what you already know, and how fast you want to go.

  38. Mary Ellen Carmody

    I have been working on getting started freelancing for years, have only submitted a couple things, no takers, I am in my early 70’s I need suggestions to get off my butt and submit.

  39. Amanda Davey

    What are the ‘essential’ books and tools that freelance writers should have on their bookshelves/desks? I’m thinking above and beyond a dictionary and thesaurus, Word Processing program etc. as well as your books πŸ™‚

    • Carol Tice

      Amanda, see my answer to Sara — what’s essential isn’t a book or an app, or a collection of them. It’s drive, curiosity, confidence, and a willingness to learn.

  40. DesirΓ©

    Hi Carol,

    Thanks for all of the useful information.

    1. I’ve noticed a trend in online writing jobs seeking writers with html, WordPress, CSS or other coding/tech related skills. Is this worth learning or is it a distraction from writing work? Is it an plotter effort to save with one-stop shopping methods or a valid expectation?

    2. I also have been wondering if identifying myself as a Manager, Writer and Mind-body Specialist may be hurting my ability to get work. Does it make me look like a jack of all trades and master of none?

    I teach yoga when I’m not writing.


  41. DesirΓ©

    Not plotter–that should read employer….

  42. Rosanne

    I have to say, I love the Den. It has proven to be a valuable resource! πŸ™‚ Is it better to do a scatter gun approach or focus on one area at a time. For instance, I’m interested in doing case studies, textbook supplements and articles. Do I focus on one at a time or work on all of them at once?

    • Carol Tice

      Rosanne — you should post in the Den contest — look under ‘Den Announcements’! Sounds like you have a good success story to share, and I’m running a testimonial contest for members right now, with similar prizes to the ones listed here.

      I don’t know many writers who are making it just writing case studies or textbook supplements — and Chris Marlow did a study a while back that found writers who specialized in an INDUSTRY earned more than those who specialized in a type of writing, FYI.

  43. C. Lyn walter

    I feel confident about my writing but very concerned about my blog/website design and functionality. Trying to figure out technical issues with WordPress is where I spend most of my time. Blogging about healthcare is my niche, so I really need to resolve this problem.

    • Carol Tice

      I strongly recommend hiring someone to do your site, Lyn! Too many writers waste time trying to become WP experts when they should be sending queries out.

      • C. Lyn walter

        Thanks Carol, any referrals?

        • Carol Tice

          Yes — they’re on my Products I Love page.

  44. Bina Joseph

    Happy Birthday and Many Happy Returns to the Den and felicitations to the Den Mother.

    My question is:
    “When does one KNOW enough to confidently put oneself out there as a writer, and craft winning bids for writing projects?”

    I have been reading, and training myself for a few years now, and putting into place what I learn. Getting and maintaining a steady flow of well-paying assignments is still a challenge, even though I am more than qualified for those I target.

    I feel I am doing something wrong, but I don’t know what.

  45. Kelli

    Question:Once you determine what areas/niches you want to pursue, what’s the best plan of action to target potential clients?

    • Carol Tice

      Kelli, see my Step by Step Guide ebook on the ebooks tab above for my answer on that! There’s no one best plan, but you can figure out yours through the steps in that book.

  46. Patricia

    Is it true that when pitching & negotiating with clients, you shouldn’t highlight the term “freelancer” when describing yourself? Some say that the term doesn’t put you in the best light because it makes you seem like a commodity. For instance, the title “freelance writer” can be replaced with “medical writer” or “content creator” instead. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Great contest prizes, by the way!

  47. Carolyn

    My question: What is in your opinion the best position (for least strain on your back and neck) to write for long periods of time on a laptop? In a recliner chair, at a desk, on a lounge chair, or at the dining table? Thank you.

    • Carol Tice

      Not an ergonomic expert, Carolyn, sorry! But you’ll know if you end up in pain at the end of the day that you’re doing it wrong. πŸ˜‰

    • Ana

      Hi Carol,

      Happy anniversary! I’ve been following you almost that entire time, and I’m hoping my question is one others have posed also: I’m an editor as well as a writer, and for the past few years editing is what I’ve been doing as a primary activity.

      1) How can one build a professional-looking website when they have little to no tech skills? I’ve been trying to use a template but it looks so amateurish that I don’t dare continue with it. I don’t know how to upload images or create spaces for them; insert quotes with the proper, eye-catching fonts; make columns; or the myriad other functions required to create a good site.

      2. In addition to the above, should I create one site for both editing and writing, or separate the two? I do have some (very old) newspaper clips, but other than that I have no experience at all as a writer. I do feel I need to branch out beyond editing.

      Thank you again for the contest. As much as I’d love to win, as money is very tight (unemployed), there are many of us out here trying. All the best to all!

      • Carol Tice

        Ana, you can see a few solutions I recommend for websites help on my Products I Love page. I say don’t get bogged down with it! And one site should work for related skills like writing and editing.

  48. Debra Giuliano

    Happy Anniversary! I am already on the wait list for the Writers Den and poised to join at the first opportunity. Fingers crossed that opportunity arises tomorrow!

    My question is about photographs. I have been asked to provide a bio and “head shot” with my article. Any suggestions about author photos? Style, pose, format for submission?

    I appreciate learning about every facet of building a successful freelance career. Thank you for providing so many valuable resources!

    • Carol Tice

      Well, you can see how my theories on that have evolved in my own head shot — I had a formal-looking shot in the past, and now use a selfie I took on the beach. πŸ˜‰ I think head shots have gotten more friendly and casual — but you don’t want it to be you with a drink in your hand wearing a tube top or something.

  49. Gayle Prettyman

    What I really love to provide is a turnkey project. That is, write the copy, translate into Spanish when necessary, lay out the design in Adobe, and even work with commercial printers to ensure quality. Yikes! How do I market for this kind of skill group? And yes, I really am qualified to do all that and think it’s great fun.

    • Carol Tice

      Gayle, plenty of writers market themselves as writer-designers or translators. Just make your site feature what you do, and then figure out who that would save time and money for, to market to.

  50. Patty

    Here’s a question:
    When pitching an article, which comes first: asking for access to the source’s work (e.g. a book, film, recording, etc) to see if they are the best person to quote, or attempting to secure the assignment based on the subject/focus and making suggestions of who your source(s) might be?

    • Carol Tice

      Patty, I rarely ask for access to their work — either I’m already familiar, or can see enough of it online to get a sense of whether they’re an expert I should interview.

  51. Lindsey D

    Thank you for the great contest! I just took your “escape the content mills” beta test and it was great. Now, do you have tips for finding writing time with a FT job, 1 yo and 5 yo? I’m guessing I’m going to have to try the early morning hours and hope they don’t wake up!

    • Carol Tice

      Sure, loads of productivity tips here:

      I also really recommend Linda’s book Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race for tips on making that transition, and going through the tough period where you’re juggling FT work with building your business!

      Glad you found Escape the Content Mills useful!

  52. Debbie DiFonzo

    I own a real estate company and have a ton of knowledge I can share – however I am very burned out on that industry. I have a ton of ideas that I would love to write about but I am not necessarily an expert in.

    Just getting started as a freelancer, is using a service such as HARO (Help A Reporter) acceptable? encouraged? taboo?

    • Carol Tice

      Debbie, it’s difficult to use HARO without an assignment these days — they’ve gotten a bit pickier on how they post interview requests.

      Also, be wary of trying to write as an expert — freelance writers earn by QUOTING experts in their stories. If you present yourself as an expert, you probably won’t get paid, as publications will expect you are writing to promote your real-estate business.

  53. yehudit rose

    My career and previous publications are medical/health related and scholarly. I have recently been writing about travel and history. How do convince editors to give me a chance when I have no track record (other than a three month old blog) in my new field?

  54. Sharon

    What are the best keyword tools to use to help me get my writer’s website on the first page of Google results? I’ve made it to page 2 using my city+freelance writer, but it seems no one in my area is looking for writer’s according to Google stats.

    • Carol Tice

      Sharon, not everyone’s city works well for ranking — if it’s not getting searches, you may want to take another approach.

  55. Deborah Lazear

    What is the funniest question you have ever recieved?

    What is the funniest response you recieved from a querry letter?

    What is the funniest response you would like to be able to say to a client or publisher?

    What is the best tool to use to take a head shot of yourself for your website or blog; by yourself?

    Do you think you can get a professional enough looking head shot with a cell phone on the new “pole” that is out for people to take selfies on?

    How often do you take a selfie of yourself and put it on your blog?

    I sure hope one or all of these questions win me the contest.

    • Carol Tice

      Deborah — the contest is actually to ask ONE question! I talked a bit about head shots in the comments above, if you want to take a look.

      And my answer to the first three of those would have to be I don’t remember, or I don’t know!

  56. Susan Morrow

    Hi Carol,

    thanks for the work you do in helping us writers understand the often complex world of the freelancer.

    My question is two-fold, hope that’s not too cheeky.

    1. How do I know how to pitch my price as an expert in my field, when so many people offer undercut prices, with no expertise, just cheapness. I believe my 20 years experience of my sector should allow me to command a higher price, but I find myself up against inexperienced by much cheaper individuals.
    2. what is the best way to find work in a specific sector? I have several clients in the sector, but it’s been through online portals and I want to widen my net, yet make it more focussed, what’s the best way to do that?

    best wishes


  57. Mike*Antares

    I’d love consideration for the contest. My question to you, Carol, is this:

    What is the one piece of short, memorable advice you received from another writer (in person or via reading) that helped you the most in your own journey to success?

    I look forward to your answer!


  58. Deborah Lazear

    ONE question, How many people use a comma, semicolon, or colon correctly in their first submission to you in any of your writing courses?

    • Carol Tice

      I think most of them do, Deborah! I’m not teaching any English 101 courses — all my premium courses proceed from the assumption that you already write competent English. I’ve had maybe two writers who we had to tell really had big grammar problems, in the 1000+ students we’ve had.

  59. Nick

    I’ve always been a pretty solid writer. Garmmer and structure are definitely my strong points when it comes to writing. In fact, I really looked forward to when it came time to diagram sentences in middle school English class.

    So what brought me here? Well, there are many reasons I chose to turn my writing into a career. For one, it scares the crap out of me. I’m not a very fast typer (but Im a fast texter). I’m also a perfectionist. Its been a drawback in so many areas of my life, held me back from accomplishing my dreams and completing tasks. However, that’s in the past. “It doesn’t matter how we got here, all that matters is where we decide to go, from here.” Over the past year, I’ve had some pretty intense life experiences. Experiences that could easily be turned into a book or series. As a result of what I witnessed, my life purpose shifted dramatically. Now I’m on a mission to make a change by getting my voice and the voices of (less fortunate) out into the world.

    My question is how do I get my voice out there? My team and I have a blog, but I’m still learning the ins and outs. What’s the best advice you can give me for where I’m at in my writing career? Thank you Carol and friends

    • Carol Tice

      This is sort of out of the wheelhouse of freelance writing, Nick…more a blog-monetizing question. I put all my tips on that in my How to be a Well-Paid Freelance Blogger ebook. I’m also writing a new ebook on how I built this blog, so stay tuned for that!

  60. Glynis

    Fun contest! My question is regarding finding a balance between copywriting (the part of writing that makes me money) and creative non-fiction/blogging/article writing (my love and passion). Is there a way to do it? I’d like to be devoting more time to the latter, but the former is what pays the bills. Is there a way to make the transition gracefully?

    That was 3 questions. Sorry. πŸ™‚

    Looking forward to checking out the Writer’s Den tomorrow! I’ve been on the waiting list. Thanks for the peek!

    • Renee Toikka

      YES, working on your own website, social media, promoting your clients projects on social media, writing for your self… all of it is the stuff you are doing between waiting for responses from queries and editors. anytime you have a down time between projects or parts of the project, thats when you keep yourself busy running your business that runs your business. Some writers keep schedules, some deadlines throw those schedules right out the window.

      • Glynis

        Great advice, thank you!

    • Carol Tice

      Look forward to having you in the Den, Glynis!

      I don’t know that you have to choose one or the other — I’ve been doing both for a decade now. πŸ˜‰ See my website for how I market both.

      • Glynis

        Amazing to hear, thanks for your response! I’ll check out your website now.

        I guess that means I won’t win, though, eh? πŸ˜‰

  61. Sid

    Hi Carol
    I just got an email that Freelance Writing Den is opening tomorrow for 4 days. If I am not wrong it costs $25/month. I have no money but will take a loan from a friend and see if the Den can help me earn more. I can join for 2 months in the beginning. If I can start earning more obviously I will continue otherwise I would have to leave though I hope that won’t be needed.

    • Carol Tice

      Sid, if you’re too broke to pay $25, I wouldn’t join at this time. You need financial resources to build a thriving freelance business, so you’ll just get a lot of advice you probably can’t implement. Please don’t go into debt to join the Den!

  62. Ashley M.

    Hi Carol,
    I found this site on accident last year and absolutely love it. It’s really given me a lot of aha moments, and I’ve taken more steps in my writing career because of it. I’m finally confident enough to call myself a writer. However, I’ve run into a bit of a dilemma.

    Now that some of my friends know that I’m a writer, they ask me to critique or edit their work. On one hand, I enjoy giving other people feedback on their work. On the other hand, it makes me really uncomfortable doing this for people I have relationships with. My question to you is this:

    Do you mix business with pleasure?

    • Carol Tice

      Nope. Not unless they’re paying! And working for friends is really a minefield.

  63. Renee Toikka

    I’m trying to niche myself into Online business writing and advice, including a long list of smaller business niche topics, like finance. I just finished your ETCM course ( IT IS AHMAYZING!) I’m building my website before I send out queries and LIo’s. so I will be ready by mid August to get rolling.

    Is this a good niche for a female writer? Is this niche saturated? wil lI have a lt of competition? What kinds of magazines should l target? How many examples of content should I have on my site before I start bugging editors, once of each? Should I include a sample in the article style of the magazine(s) I’m targeting before I send out my query? Is there a particular method or outline to write queries for business magazines? this will be the first time I have ever sent queries and LOI’s, I’m very very nervous.

    • Carol Tice

      Renee — this is a 1-question contest. Do you want to boil it down for me there?

      And…why do you think being female figures into it one way or the other?

      • Renee Toikka

        Because I’ve heard it from one client or another. Not having a business degree doesn’t seem to factor, apparently some companies reject based on gender.

        Boiling down the question… not trying to win the contest, becausse I just dotn think winning will happen with all these other amazing questions and more deserving writers . Now that I’ve been through your ETCM course, I don’t have any burning questions, except how to approach business trades with queries and which ones are best to approach. I think I need to take the query writing course to get those answers.

        Is online business – financial, marketing, management, and advice – a saturated market and is it worth getting into, or should I niche for something better?

  64. Cat London

    Hello Carol,

    I am a full-time musician and actress who was recently (March) approved by a major statewide newspaper/blogging platform to cover a story on their behalf and I was to be paid $150 for this “trial” story. No contracts were signed prior to this freelance agreement. Stupidly, after submitting my 800-word project and following up 3 times, the chief editor of entertainment still wasn’t giving me my paperwork or telling me when the article was to be posted. Instead, for 4 months, he led me on and diverted my attention by either not responding or telling me to make my “dream schedule” for blog posts to submit to him for review. Meanwhile, I’m trying to be polite, and so the other day I follow up with him a 9th time, faked my disinterest in prolonging my employment with them by pretending I had another job offer, just to coax out of him what I sort of assumed this whole time. The budget for my addition as a contractor was difficult to come by, and there was no concrete date when OR IF it would be approved. So I waited 4 months to get compensated for my work, 4 months to have my story printed, and 4 months having false confidence that I’d be writing a promised 15-20 blog posts per month. That’s a lot of bread. And because 15-20 blogs a month at that generous pay-rate is a ton of work and I wanted to show my dedication to him, I stopped my search for other jobs. Much to my chagrin, my loyalty backfired. Thank god I also play music for a living. So…I ask…did I royally mess up by not demanding paperwork from the get-go, or was I just royally disrespected?

    Cat πŸ˜‰

    • Carol Tice

      Cat…publications can be flakey. You messed up by assuming it was going to happen and stopping your marketing.

  65. Louisa Fitzgerald

    So, from what I can tell, being a good writer is only ONE thing you need to be a successful freelance writer. What really makes some people cut out for the freelance life while others flounder? How long does it really take to get your freelance writing business off the ground?

  66. Ken

    How do I match my skills and natural ability with a paying niche? I think in dialogue. Can’t stop it. Poetry and scripts come natural. Is there a diagnostic test, matching chart, good resource to ensure I’m maximizing my natural ability? Thanks.

    • Carol Tice

      Unfortunately, poetry and scripts aren’t a source of reliable pay, Ken. I’d look at the nonfiction writing forms you enjoy — that’s what pays. Do you read magazines? Enjoy business newsletters? Look at what you get in the mail, from companies, and the emails you get. Could you write that?

      • Ken

        Thank you for that truth.
        I have an MBA in real estate and several decades as a bank mortgage lender. I’m looking at that as a realistic niche. Makes sense. I got the journalism degree to write. I guess the poetry will be a hobby and the mortgage/real estate knowledge a practical service I can offer.

  67. Cindy

    My question seems simple, but it has stopped me in my writing tracks: I could spend hours on writing sites, joining groups, reading newsletters, and potential paying job opportunities. Where is the most useful and reliable information so I can read less and write more?

    • Carol Tice

      I think I’m biased…but I’d say Freelance Writers Den gives you one place to go, and then you don’t lose your mind looking at 80 different newsletters! That’s an overwhelm problem I hear about a lot. Tap the power of a 1400-writer community to find out what’s really going on out there, and our 100+ hours of bootcamps and presentations from top experts!

  68. Shari J

    Hi Carol-

    I am a “jacktress” of all trades, mistress of none! πŸ˜‰ Currently, I have hit the proverbial brick wall in relation to my “career.”

    I am a seasoned, experienced Corporate Communications PR Pro, but started in my earlier years as a features/entertainment journalist. I’d like to consider myself a hybrid of the PRJ World.

    Right now I feel I am at a crossroad & suffering from writers block; not knowing which direction to head in moving forward to re-branding myself. I’d like to become a successful freelancer as I decide which avenue to pursue next.

    I am “suffering” from two “maladies”-
    *FEAR of success
    *FUNDSALOW disease
    (fund are low) ;-))

    My question for the contest is:

    If you had the opportunity to take a crash course dip of the toe in the FREELANCERS DEN for a day, which direction would you navigate to seek help in adding that boost I need to get me re-energized & emerge with a 2.0 version of myself?!

    (I’ve also dabbled into Scriptwriting but uncertain if The Den would be the forum to supply that assistance as well).

    Been a fan of yours & what you do for folks for a while!!!

    Thanks Carol!

    • Carol Tice

      Why not continue doing both? You can, as long as you don’t do both for one client, at once. See my comment above — I do both. It’s not an issue.

  69. Carol Sheppard

    I cannot shake the fear that I may not have a talent for writing. I get excited (inspired by your website and emails) start, then fear starts to cloud my judgment, things get out of focus, I lose perspective, get a headache and quit. I’ve belonged to writers groups, well, one, and find that everyone else is easily more talented than I am. I almost believe that to be a writer, you have to be a genius. Unfortunately, most of my brain cells were blown during the 70s. I’m truly frightened to find out what kind of writer I really am. I thought it would be a natural talent that would just flow out of me, like Stephen King. I write a blog for the law firm I work for. My boss says they’re very good, well, some of them, but they’re dry and boring. I’m pretty sure esteem problems may be out of your league, but maybe there are exercises. Just writing this has me breaking out in a sweat. I’m not exagerating

    • Carol Tice

      Carol, Stephen King collected so many rejections that he needed to replace the nail he stored them on with a railroad spike!

      Go to your local chamber and read the brochures. Everyone who makes a living writing is NOT a genius.

      I hope you can join us in the Den — our next bootcamp (which you get as a member perk if you join now) is going to be on overcoming fears!

  70. Gabby

    With the rise of websites like Fiverr and E-lance, I feel like the cost of freelance work is plunging downward. Do you have any recommendations on how to avoid selling yourself short in such a competitive market?

    • Carol Tice

      Sure — don’t go on Fiverr and Elance. πŸ˜‰ Problem solved! Find your own clients.

      • Ana

        Great advice, Carol. Far, far easier said than done — which is why Elance and Fiverr have so many writers working for them. There are experts who say they are good places to start for those with no experience. No client is going to deal with a contractor with no experience. I wouldn’t.

        I would not, of course, stay with them longer than I had to.

        • Carol Tice

          Yes, but you can get experience without ever visiting these places. My Step by Step ebook goes into exactly how.

          I mean — how do writers imagine we all broke into freelance writing BEFORE content mills were invented? I can tell you, it still happened!

  71. Karen

    I’m certain you’ve covered overcoming your own fear and insecurity, so I won’t bore you asking that (even though it’s still my biggest struggle). I also just feel overwhelmed–so much information out there that it’s easy to get bogged down, you know? Again though, that’s not a terribly unique question.

    In order to have a shot at it, what’s the most unusual or outlandish thing you’ve ever heard of a writer getting paid for?

  72. Melissa

    Hi Carol,

    You’ve probably covered this a hundred times, but I’m overwhelmed by all the information I’m finding about freelance writing and blogging.

    What’s the best way to make sense of it all? How do I know whose advise to trust? And finally, how do I market myself without sounding like I’m selling used cars? Forgive the clichΓ©.

  73. Esther

    How do you as a writer balance the hours writing in solitude and also needing down time for creative marination and being socially healthy!? Thank you for this opportunity for so many of us to ask and learn from you and each other.

  74. Dianna Gunn

    Awesome contest! So here’s my question: have you ever thought about whether or not the companies you’re working for are ethical? If so, how do you research a for-profit company to figure out if they’re ethical?

    I want to help businesses make a positive impact in the world, and I don’t want to stick with just non-profits–but I want to work for companies I respect. So any suggestions you have for finding ethical companies would be much appreciated.

  75. Celeste

    Hi Carol,

    I bought a copy of the 2014 Writers’ Market, but I find most of the listings are about book publishing and less focused on magazines (and Canada). As a newbie freelancer without much of a portfolio thus far, I feel like I should aim for smaller niche magazines β€” do you agree that’s a good place to start? And is there something like the Writers’ Market but specifically for non-fiction magazine content?

    Thanks for all your advice. I really enjoy the info I receive from you!

    • Carol Tice

      The Writer’s Market has a TON of magazine listings — be sure you’re looking in the right section. It’s the biggest resource I know.

  76. Adelina

    Hi Carol,

    Here’s the question that has been bugging me for quite some time: I am a freelance writer located in Europe and so far I have only worked with people from my country.

    If I plan to extend my business abroad, is it absolutely necessary to sign contracts and issue invoices for every gig that I get? It’s common sense to work with a contract, but if I don’t have a business registered, and currently working as a physical person, I cannot issue invoices, right?

    So can I get into troubles if I ignore these aspects? Not being able to issue invoices will make me look unprofessional?

    • Carol Tice

      You can issue an invoice as an individual or “sole proprietor.”

  77. Claire

    I don’t normally comment, although I always read your brilliant blog (and dream!) but the prizes are so fantastic, I just had to this time. My question is this. I’m just getting started in the world of freelance writing, after time bringing up children, and I really need to earn some money. But I just don’t know which direction to concentrate on. SEO writing, copywriting, article writing, blog writing? It’s all a bit overwhelming and confusing right now.

    • Carol Tice

      Let the market decide, Claire–try the types of writing that interest you, and see where you get paid better. That’s what guided my whole career. (Spoiler alert: “SEO writing” pays very poorly.)

  78. George West

    I was very lucky to get huge exposure fairly early – I got my first paid writing gig about 9 weeks ago, and 3 weeks later I’d been commissioned to write this piece for the Guardian (feel free to delete that during moderation if it looks too much like cynical self pub πŸ™‚ )

    My problem is that the magical transformation of the streets to solid gold hasn’t happened. I know I’m still very, very early in my career, but my question is how I can utilise that big break to get more, and better paying, work.

    • Carol Tice

      Put up a writer website and start plugging your win, George! Or query other editors and mention your clip.

  79. Elizabeth

    Freelancing is an idea that has been germinating for years but with a cushy, FT job – it didn’t seem “practical”. Now, I’m in grad school and have a PT job and the desire to freelance is stronger than ever! How do I make the leap? Where do I even start?

    • Carol Tice

      Elizabeth, see my note above about Linda Formichelli’s Write Your Way out of the Rat Race ebook…a practical guide!

      • Elizabeth

        Thank you – will do!

  80. Samm

    Here’s my question (and sort of an explanation):
    I’ve only been at freelancing a couple weeks and so far it’s been a mix of exciting and frustrating. When I pitch articles, editors seem to be interested, but I’m having trouble picking up clients/longer term assignments — i.e. I’m having trouble making enough to pay my bills without turning to content mills. I feel like I’m getting lost in the onslaught of resumes — so how do I make myself stand out to clients?

    • Carol Tice

      Stop sending out resumes, Samm — good clients never ask for them. Looking at online job ads is not the way to find good pay as a freelance writer.

  81. Teresa Driggers

    Many of my jobs have had a large writing component to them. I love writing , yet I have balked at writing for a living. One reason is that I don’t want to lose the love of it. The second reason and the subject of my question is how to overcome my inability to maintain a steady flow to writing projects.

    I reading, walking, or doing something I have never done before. I will get info running through my head, but lose impetus by the time I sit down to actually flesh out the piece. This is especially true for longer projects.

    Thanks for any help you can give. I am unable to work a normal schedule as I am fighting a debilitating illness, so I am aiming to support myself with writing. Thanks for taking a look at my question.


    • Carol Tice

      I’d say you want to avoid longer projects if you run out of steam on them! Think about maybe getting freelance blogging gigs. Those tend to be ongoing, and could help you to have more regular work, too.

  82. Helen Brown

    I read different things but have never found a definitive answer.
    Thanks for taking time to reply. No stopping me now!

  83. Jane

    Hi Carol, thank you for the chance of winning your gifts. My question as a wannabe freelancer writer is this:

    I have specialised knowledge in Holistic Health and Fitness in many topics and this is the area I want to concentrate as a freelance writer.

    My reason to be a freelance writer is to share my expertise, gifts and knowledge in this area to gain exposure and grow my business as a coach and mentor, whilst also gaining an additional source of income.

    The area of Holistic Health and Fitness is vast and with my research I have done there are plenty of areas I can write as a freelance writer.

    As a new writer, not yet started in freelance writing, I want to specialise in my area of expertise as my writing will be strong and passionate.

    My question: To get started in being authentic and strong in my writing, should seek only opportunities in the area of my expertise? (my preference)

    But If after seeking and researching opportunities, I find writing gigs that are not in my area of expertise but I know the area and could write about, and they pay well, should I grasp any opportunity to start my freelance writing business?

    I am not keen to write in an area I am not passionate or an expert in about as I feel it will show in my writing and therefore not reflect my best writing, and also it would not be authentic to do so. ( my feeling)

    I feel having good feedback on your first try of freelancing is crucial for confidence and your reputation.

    • Carol Tice

      Jane — I had a similar question, about wanting to write on something you feel you’re an ‘expert’ in, that’s included in tomorrow’s post — be sure to take a look.

      • Jane

        thanks Carol, look forward to reading the post πŸ™‚

  84. Brigetta

    My question is legal/business questions: I completed an extensive multi page website all graphic art and copy as well as copy writing for a radio ad – the client did used these and they ran for five years. I was never paid. Because they were a friend we had an oral agreement, we were never friends again either. This was 10 years ago. I went back to fine art where I do get paid. But I would really like to try the business world again, and I want to know how to protect myself in a contract (written) – when do you get paid – up front – or after turning in materials? The second question is how do you do a contract for a Pseudonym and get paid -for example you write an article but under a pseudonym – how do you reveal your name to get paid? Thank you Carol for a great column.

    • Carol Tice

      Brigetta, my Freelance Business Bootcamp e-book, and the 4-week bootcamp in Freelance Writers Den that it’s based on, cover all these details — we actually go clause by clause through what should (and should not) be in a contract. Hint: 50% up front is a good starting point for conducting business as a freelance writer, with new clients.

      In general, pseudonyms are not used in freelance nonfiction writing. They’re for novelists. Using a fake name when you’re writing a factual article raises questions about what you’re hiding and calls your credibility into question.

  85. Tarang Sinha

    Hello, more question from me: What are the tricks to make a usual topic or article idea look unusual that captures the reader’s attention (Apart from the title of course). Thanks! πŸ™‚

    • Carol Tice

      Tarang, this is the subject of my Pitch Clinic class with Linda Formichelli. It’s not a question of making it ‘look’ unusual, but actually developing something new about the idea that makes us want to read about a familiar topic again. We had a lot of success with our students!

      • Tarang Sinha

        Oops! Bad choice of word, I guess. You are right. It is about those quirky elements that make the article more readable. Some writers treat some really common topics so innovatively, and take unique approach to write that you simply want to read on!

        Thanks for replying! πŸ™‚

  86. Tarang Sinha

    Sorry! I wanted to say ‘one’ more question.

  87. Natasha

    Hi Carl,

    My question has probably been asked befoe but here goes. I don’t have many samples to advertise to potential clients. Is it smart to write them a sample based on the job they require?

    How do you ensure that your work isn’t riddled with grammar and spelling errors? Do you use an editor for the proofreading before you send it to your client?

    • Carol Tice

      I’m not a fan of self-created samples — instead, find a pro bono client, so you can show a testimonial and that you know how to please a client. Writing free samples for clients is usually a scam, especially for online sites.

      I don’t hire an editor — most freelance writers I know have strong grammar and spelling skills to begin with. If you don’t, I recommend learning in that area. If you have to have your work pre-edited and pay someone for that, you’ll never make a living.

      • Natasha

        Great advice, Carol. I’ll keep that in mind and look for a legitimate pro bono client that I could use for testimonials.

  88. marie xeanne rivera

    I am a licensed teacher but for a living I do teaching and tutoring on the side. Now I am filling my sort of “basket” to make me writing-ready and blog-ready. I have done writing for free a lot of times and that inspired me to do the job for a fee. My question is if after doing queries, and a publisher seems to show interest for a textbook, what mind-set is better a teacher who is a novice at writing, a writer but knows little of a subject matter offered to write about?

    By the way I am thankful for being a recipient of free anniversary den. In a writing group where I just joined someone earlier asked who belonged to the waiting list and I admitted I had qualms of the fee a a newbie in the field. But now I am here and asking questions to sought after writers. Thank you so much I had learned so much in just less than 24 hours.

    • Carol Tice

      Glad you were able to take advantage of the 1-day pass party we held yesterday for the Den’s 4th anniversary, Marie!

      To answer your question, as a newer writer you’ll do better plugging your expertise and pitching projects that line up with your experience.


    Freelancing is unknown in Africa,especially Uganda, my mother country.For those of you who have known freelancing for ages make it difficult for Africans (like me) who do not have access to Paypal or Visa cards to get the better of it, because you do not accept the Money Transfer organizations like Western Union or Money Gram to act as a conduit for the people in mentioned category to pass the money for membership!I am anxious and curious that I want (in the real sense of word) to work from home and gain something for survival as a freelance as other writers in White nations are doing and I wish I could get the Goodies on offer,as well.The article I have read is inspiring but leaves me helpless!How do I get my self in,perhaps with very little restrictions or nothing at all? Besides what is the universal legal implications for one to work as a freelance?

    • Carol Tice

      Kigozi, I’m sure you know Bamidele Onibalusi, who’s a very successful freelancer in Nigeria, and struggles with the same payment problems. I pay him as an affiliate, so I know there are workarounds for countries where Paypal doesn’t do business. Ask around and see what the options are in your country! And don’t give up.

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