You Can Do It: Develop and Hone Your Writing Skills and Earn a Full-Time Income!

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Freelance writing offers you a lot of perks. You can work at home and you are in control of your schedule. When it comes to how much you can earn, the sky's the limit. You Can Do It tells you ow to start a freelance writing career. This 45-page e-book can help you to: - Know if you're good enough to be a freelance writer. - Improve your writing skills. - Show you how to write an article and optimize it for search engines. - Find writing jobs online. - And so much more. It's a value-packed e-book and, yes, it's FREE. If you have any questions, just send me an email at theproactivepro@gmail.com.

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1. Income and Liability Disclaimer This e-book contains some pieces of business advice which may not produce the same results for you as they have in my experience. I absolutely make no guarantee that, by following the advice in this e-book, you will make any money or improve your current income as there are several factors and variables that may affect your business. The results will depend on the conditions of the marketplace, your experience, your skills, situations, and elements that are beyond our control. By following my advice, you assume all the risks with the full understanding that you are solely responsible for anything that may happen as a result of putting the information in this e-book into action. In other words, I, as the author, cannot be held responsible in any way for the success and failure of your business as a result of the information presented in this e-book. It is your responsibility to do due diligence and ensure the safe and successful operation of your business if you intend to apply the information in any way in your business operations. Terms of Use You are encouraged to give away copies of this e-book. However, you are not allowed to claim authorship, sell, or modify the contents of this document. You are also prohibited from using or copying any part of this e-book without permission from the author. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 2 2. Table of Contents Introduction ........................................................................................................... 5 Why Get Into Freelance Article Writing ................................................................. 7 How Talented Should an Article Writer Be? ........................................................... 9 Developing Your Skills as an Article Writer........................................................... 10 Research ........................................................................................................... 10 Websites You Can Use for Topic Research ..................................................... 10 Where to Find Information for Your Articles .................................................. 12 Writing .............................................................................................................. 14 Diction is Crucial ............................................................................................ 14 12 Common Grammatical, Usage, and Spelling Errors that Can Make You Look Stupid ............................................................................................................ 15 Improving Your Writing Skills ............................................................................ 21 The Website that Writers Absolutely Need to Bookmark ................................. 23 Other Helpful Websites .................................................................................... 24 Need to Know Whether Your Sentence Construction is Correct or Your Diction is Acceptable? Google is Your Friend! .................................................................. 25 Writing Your First Article ...................................................................................... 29 The Anatomy of an Article ................................................................................ 29 SEO Article Writing: Trust Me, It Isn't Such a Big Deal .......................................... 35 Keyword Density ............................................................................................... 35 Keyword Placement .......................................................................................... 35 Writing an Article Using a Keyword Phrase ....................................................... 36 Dealing with Awkward Keyword Phrases .......................................................... 36 Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 3 3. Let's Make Some Money! .................................................................................... 38 Conclusion ........................................................................................................... 42 List of Resources .................................................................................................. 43 Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 4 4. Introduction Writing is one of the most useful skills that you can use to make money online. There are hundreds of writing jobs being posted online each day on hundreds of websites. There is an inexhaustible demand for good quality web content. The pay is quite good, if you know how to attract the right clients and know where to get the best writing jobs. It is not surprising that a lot of people want to get into the freelance writing business. Newbie and wannabe writers often ask me a lot of questions. Among them are: How talented do I have to be to be an article writer? What skills do I need to have if I'm going to be an article writer? How do I improve my writing skills? How do you write an article? Where do you find writing jobs? And many more. This e-book is an attempt to answer these questions. It is a comprehensive guide for newbie writers who want to build their skills and make some serious money online. It focuses on two essential skills that every freelance writer should develop and hone: research and writing. Here, I share some tips and point my readers to some online resources that will help them build their skills as freelance writers. I also discuss the most common mistakes that even native English speakers make when they write. In the last two sections of the book, I give a list of websites where newbie writers can find opportunities to earn. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 5 5. This e-book is my welcome gift to all newbie writers. I hope that it will somehow help you become the best writer that you can be and get paid what you deserve. Now, let's get going! Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 6 6. Why Get Into Freelance Article Writing I've been a freelance web content writer for more than two years. I love what I do and I'm quite good at it. When I was younger, I never thought that writing would become a full-time career for me. I have no regrets. In fact, I'm enjoying it. Here are some of the perks that you will enjoy when you become a freelance writer: 1. The money is good. I charge my clients $12 for a 400- to 450- word article. I can write a 450-word article in about 30 minutes, and that's after I've done my research. If I'm going to factor in research, I'd say it takes me about an hour to write an article. Actually, I'm pretty slow. There are actually writers who can produce three articles in an hour. Let's look at the income potential here. Let's say you're going to charge your clients $10 per article. If you're going to work eight hours a day, then you can earn $80 per day ($10 x 8 hours). You can potentially earn $1,600 a month if you work 20 days a month, more if you can write faster than I do. However, keep in mind that your earnings may depend on some factors such as the availability of projects and the rate that you and your clients have agreed upon. You can charge higher rates as you acquire more experience and gather good feedback from satisfied clients. 2. You can get the money relatively quickly. You can get paid weekly if you get your clients from freelancing sites like oDesk and Elance. Some content marketplaces also pay their writers weekly. (Content marketplaces are websites where writers can claim writing assignments.) If you get clients from online forums, you can get paid in advance. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 7 7. 3. You will never run out of jobs. The demand for web content (articles, blog posts, etc.) will always be there. Go to oDesk, Elance, and other freelancing websites and you will find that there are literally hundreds of writing jobs that you can bid on every single day. Content marketplaces never run out of writing assignments that writers can claim. If you go to online forums, you will find a lot of advertising threads offering article writing services, and yet, there aren't enough writers to fill the needs of potential clients. 4. You can do this almost anywhere. All you need is a computer and Internet access, and you're all set. If you have a laptop, you can go to a WiFi hotspot like a coffee shop or a McDonald's and work there. Just make sure that you won't get distracted. 5. The job offers a flexible schedule. Your job doesn't have to prevent you from attending PTA meetings or taking your kids to school (if you have kids). You can build your schedule around the people that matter to you. You can work anytime you want. However, this doesn't mean that you can work only when you feel like it. You have to remember that you do have deadlines to meet and that you should put in the required number of hours demanded by the project that you're working on. 6. The job requires minimal technical skills. You don't have to be a computer maven to be an article writer. You simply need to know how to use the notepad, MS Word, and a web browser like Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. 7. Earn while you learn. One of the best things about being an article writer is you will learn a lot of things for free. If you want to be an Internet marketer later on, you're in for a real treat. You will learn what niches are hot. Not only will you get your Internet marketing Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 8 8. education for free, your clients could be your future joint venture partners if you maintain good relationships with them. How Talented Should an Article Writer Be? One of the misconceptions about article writers is that they have talent oozing out of their pores. The truth is you don't have to be massively talented to be a good article writer. In fact, if you're going to be an article writer, you should be able to write articles that are simple enough to be understood by eighth graders in the US. You should resist the temptation to use big words because they're off-putting to clients and their target readers. Nobody has the time to look up the meaning of those high fallutin' words in the dictionary. Most clients prefer their articles to be written in a conversational style. However, this doesn't mean that you're allowed to use slang or words like "gonna" and "wanna" instead of "going to" and "want to." Your spelling and grammar definitely have to be decent. You also need to know how to organize and structure information in such a way that the readers can easily scan and digest the article. One way to do is by using numbered lists and bullet points to make the content "scannable." You will find the basic structure of an article at the end of this report. Like I said, to be a good article writer, you don't need a lot of talent, but you do need to be skillful. Talent is something that you are born with. One the other hand, a skill is something you acquire and develop through learning and constant practice. Talent may enable you to acquire skills more easily than others, but still, no matter how talented you are, you still need to work hard to hone your craft. Will Smith, one of the most successful actors in Hollywood, says it best, "No matter how talented you are, your talent is going to fail you if you're not skilled." Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 9 9. Developing Your Skills as an Article Writer As an article writer, you need to develop two skills: research and writing. You need to know what information your client's target readers want and how to look for them, and you also need to know how to present the information in a way that's engaging and easy to digest. Research All research boils down to knowing what to look for and where to look. There are two types of research that you need to do as an article writer: 1. Topic research 2. Information research First, you need to do a topic research. Sometimes, you won't have to do this. The client may provide you with a list of topics to write about. However, sometimes, the client will leave everything up to you. When you do topic research, you should look for topics that your client's target readers would be interested in or that they will find useful. Usually, these readers go to the Internet to look for information that will help them: Solve a problem (How do I get rid of my pimples?); Learn how to do something (How do I find an online job?); and Make a good decision (Should I invest in Write Less, Earn More?) Keep these reasons in mind when you do your topic research. You can also look for new trends and breakthroughs related to your client's niche that his or her readers may find interesting. Websites You Can Use for Topic Research Where do you find topics to write about? Here are the top five places that I go to for topic research: Ubersuggest.org This is one of my favorite topic search tools. All I have to do is type a keyword or a key phrase related to the niche I'm writing about and boom! The tool unlocks topic ideas by suggesting keywords. You can pick the words you like and use them later when you do your research. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 10 10. Online forums Online forums are websites where people start and/or participate in discussions. Usually, people ask interesting questions on online forums and those who are knowledgeable in the subject answer questions and offer suggestions. To look for a forum that's relevant to the niche that you're writing about, type "(niche)" + "forum" on Google. Example: "dog training" forum When you're in the forum, look for topics with the most number of views. The number of views is a pretty good indicator of how interesting a topic is. Yahoo Answers Yahoo Answers is a community-driven question-and-answer website. Just like on online forums, people ask questions here and they do get answers. This site is a topic goldmine. Type the keyword relevant to your niche into the Y! Answer search bar to look for interesting questions. Quora - Quora is another question-and-answer website where questions are created and answered by its community of users. Search the website and you will find tons of topic ideas. You can also use it to find out what people think about certain issues. Ask a question and you will likely get tons of replies. Amazon.com Amazon sells books. The book section of the website has a cool feature called "Look Inside" that allows you to take a peek at the table of contents and the index. Look for a bestselling book related to the niche you are writing about. Then get some topic ideas from the table of contents and the index. For Dummies Website The For Dummies series is a popular collection of how-to books. The writers of the books attempt to make anything easy to learn. Their website is a treasure trove of ideas! I also use it whenever I need to write how-to articles. Social Media Groups Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ have groups/communities of like-minded people who share the same interests. You can find questions and discussions which can spark topic ideas. However, you may need to join some of the groups to view the discussions. In some cases, you may need to request for the administrator to allow you to join the group. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 11 11. Where to Find Information for Your Articles When you have found some interesting topics, it's time for you to look for the information that your client's readers will benefit from. Make sure that the pieces of information that you will use in your article are accurate, trustworthy, and authoritative. As you probably know very well, Google is your gateway to other websites. Some of the usual sources of information that you can use are: Databases (such as Wikipedia, Web MD, etc.) If you want to search a particular website using Google, type the following site:(URL of the site, without "www" or "http") "keyword phrase" (enclosed in quotation marks) For example: site:webmd.com "breast cancer" Google will only return results from WebMD.com. .gov and .org websites These websites are not primarily built for any commercial intent, so the pieces of information that you find in these sites are likely to be accurate and trustworthy. You can find some information on .gov and .org websites by typing the following: site:.gov "keyword" (enclosed in quotation marks) or site:.org "keyword" (enclosed in quotation marks) For example: site:.gov "breast cancer" Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 12 12. or site:.org "breast cancer" Google will only list websites with either the .org or .gov extension. PDFs Most e-books and reports are published in the PDF format. These are rich sources of information. You can download them so you can use them even when you are offline. You can find PDFs on Google by simply typing the following: filetype:pdf "keyword phrase related to your topic" (enclosed in quotation marks) For example: filetype:pdf "types of breast cancer" You'll end up getting tons of information-packed PDF files on breast cancer. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 13 13. Writing As I've said earlier, you don't have to be super-talented to be a good article writer. However, your grammar and spelling should be decent. To find out whether your grammar and spelling are good enough, create an account on oDesk and take the Basic English Skills Test and the US Spelling Test. Remember, you're going to take these tests to assess yourself, so there's no point in cheating. Don't worry if you've taken the test before. You can take it again. If you score lower this time around (which is highly unlikely), you can still display the higher score on your profile. You can always choose to hide or display your test scores. If you get a score of four or higher, that means that your grammar and spelling skills are good enough. If you get a score lower than four, don't be discouraged. It is possible for you to improve your grammar and spelling, but you're going to have to work on it. At the end of this chapter, I will list some free resources that will help you develop and hone your grammar and spelling skills. Diction is Crucial First, let's be clear about what "diction" really means. "Diction" comes from the Latin word dicere, which means "to say." It has more than one meaning. The meaning that we are familiar with has to do with speech: vocal expression or the pronunciation and enunciation of words, particularly in singing. The other meaning of diction has to do with the words we choose whether we are writing or speaking. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines diction as "choice of words, especially with regard to correctness, clearness, or effectiveness." Diction is crucial because it can spell the difference between bagging a writing job and getting rejected. Also, if your diction is acceptable, you can command high fees from your writing clients. Why? Because writing clients prefer writers who sound like them and they are willing to pay good money to those writers. If you go to oDesk and other freelancing websites, you will often find this phrase, "native English speakers only." Diction varies from region to region. If you want to be a freelance writer, you should be familiar with the diction of your intended clients. In other words, if you want to write for Americans, you should learn the words and the idioms that Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 14 14. Americans often use. The same is true if you want to write for Brits and Australians. 12 Common Grammatical, Usage, and Spelling Errors that Can Make You Seem Stupid My grammar is not perfect by any means. All writers, even the seasoned ones, make grammatical and spelling mistakes from time to time. However, there are mistakes that can be off-putting to clients. Below are 12 deal-killing mistakes that you should watch out for: 1) Dangling Modifiers Incorrect: Rotting in the refrigerator, my sister threw all the bananas she bought last week. Gee, is your sister a zombie decaying in your fridge? In this sentence, the phrase rotting in the refrigerator seems to modify my sister instead of all the bananas. Remember, a modifying phrase should always be next to the word or phrase it modifies. This is how the sentence should have been written: Correct: My sister threw all the bananas she bought last week because they were rotting in the refrigerator. Also Correct: Sick of the smell of decay in the refrigerator, my sister threw all the rotten bananas she found there. In this case, the phrase "Sick of the smell of decay in the refrigerator" appropriately modifies "my sister." 2) Confusion Between Subjective and Objective Pronouns Incorrect: Me and Michael go to the same school. Correct: Michael and I go to the same school. Incorrect: They went to the circus with my mother and I. Correct: They went to the circus with my mother and me. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 15 15. Pronouns take the subjective and objective cases. Pronouns take the subjective case if they act as the subject of the sentence. The subject is the one being talked about in the sentence. Pronouns take the objective case if they are objects of a verb or a preposition. In the above example, the pronoun me is used incorrectly because it is treated as a subject. Me is the objective form of I. In the second example, I is used incorrectly because it is used as an object of the preposition with. The correct word should have been me. Here is a list of pronouns in their subjective and objective forms: Subjective: I, we, you, they, she, he, it Objective: Me, us, you, them, her, him, it One more thing Which is correct, He is older than me or He is older than I am? You will hear both sentences from native speakers. Both are acceptable. However, He is older than I am is the grammatically correct form. I learned about this when I was in high school. My English teacher said that He is older than I am is short for He is older than I am old. The same holds true for this sentence: She is prettier than I am. This is actually a shortened form of She is prettier than I am pretty. 3) Confusion Between "Every Day" and "Everyday" Incorrect: I brush my teeth everyday. Incorrect: Bathing should be an every day habit. Not too long ago, I thought "every day" and "everyday" were the same. Only when one of my articles got rejected by an editor did I discover that there is a huge difference between the two. "Everyday" is an adjective which means "daily." On the other hand, "every day" is phrase made up of the adjective "every" and the noun "day." Correct: I brush my teeth every day. (This means the same as I brush my teeth each day.) Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 16 16. Correct: Bathing should be an everyday habit. (This means the same as Bathing should be a daily habit.) 4) The Use of "Irregardless" Incorrect: We accept everyone irregardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. Most dictionaries list "irregardless" as incorrect or nonstandard. My spellchecker doesn't even recognize it. The correct word is "regardless." Correct: We accept everyone regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. 5) Misuse of "loose." Incorrect: Don't make me loose my temper! In this case, the appropriate word is "lose," which is a verb. "Loose" is an adjective which is the opposite of "tight." Correct: Don't make me lose my temper! 6) Confusing "It's" With "Its" Incorrect: Its been raining since this morning. Incorrect: The dog wagged it's tail. "It's" is a contraction of two words, "it" and "is." "Its" (without the apostrophe) is a neutral possessive pronoun. Correct: It's been raining since this morning. Correct: The dog wagged its tail. 7) Using "Advice" and "Advise" Interchangeably Incorrect: Don't take the fortuneteller's advise seriously. Incorrect: Doctors advice their patients to keep their weight within the normal range. "Advice" is a noun. "Advise" is a verb." It's that simple. Correct: Don't take the fortuneteller's advice seriously. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 17 17. Correct: Doctors advise their patients to keep their weight within the normal range. 8) Pluralizing Nouns That Aren't Meant to Be Plural Incorrect: She gave me some advices that proved to be valuable. Incorrect: We bought a few furnitures from the local shop. "Advice" and "furniture" have no plural form. Use "counter phrases" such as "nuggets of" or "pieces of" if you need to pluralize nouns like "advice" and "furniture." Correct: She gave me some nuggets of advice that proved to be valuable. Correct: We bought a few pieces of furniture from the local shop. 9) Using "Alright" Instead of "All Right" Incorrect: Are you alright? Although "alright" is widely used, it is regarded as nonstandard. Use "all right" instead. Correct: Are you all right? 10) Confusing "They're," "Their," and "There" Incorrect: The children went to they're mother and kissed her. Incorrect: There going to Boracay and might stay their until December. Let's get the following straight: "There" is an adverb of place. It can also be a pronoun that introduces a sentence or a clause. ("There is no other way to let you know that I love you.") "Their" is a possessive adjective. "They're" is a contraction of "they are." Correct: The children went to their mother and kissed her. Correct: They're going to Boracay and might stay there until December. 11) Using "Their" When Referring Back To a Singular Subject Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 18 18. Incorrect: Every student should wear their ID. Incorrect: One of the participants in the seminar lost their raffle ticket. Most writers make the mistake of using "their" when referring back to a singular subject just because they cannot determine the gender of the subject. Most clients are okay with this, but some clients are not. Use "he or she" instead of "their" or make the subject plural if possible. Correct: Every student should wear his or her ID. Correct: All students should wear their IDs. Correct: One of the participants in the seminar lost his or her ticket. 12) Confusing "Than" with "Then" Incorrect: Something is always better then nothing. Correct: Something is always better than nothing. "Than" is a word that indicates comparison. When you compare two things or when you state a preference using the word "rather," you should use "than." Examples: George is taller than Michael. I would rather stay home than go to the party with those drunken nincompoops. "Then" is word that indicates time. When you're presenting a sequence of events or when you're giving step-by-step instructions, you should use "then." Examples: Dave graduated from the Harvard with the highest honors. Then he won a scholarship grant at the Johns Hopkins University. Make an outline first. Then write the article. Keep these 12 mistakes in mind and do your best to avoid them. Make sure that you proofread your work carefully. Dont rely on the built-in grammar and spellchecker in your word processor. The application can make it easier for you to edit your work, but it cant always spot mistakes. For instance, if you used the Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 19 19. word eminent when you should have used imminent, the spellchecker wouldnt detect the error. Take a 10-minute break before proofreading an article that youve written. That way, you can look at the article with a fresh pair of eyes and youll be better able to spot your own mistakes. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 20 20. Improving Your Writing Skills A lot of people have told me that I'm a talented writer. I don't know about that. I seldom got high grades for my writing when I was a college freshman. My writing was good enough to get me passing grades on most of my subjects, but apparently, it was not earth-shattering. It didn't make my professors gasp in amazement or give me perfect scores on my essays and term papers without any hesitation. In high school, I'd always get a score of 7 or 8 out of 10 on my essays. A score of 10 would have made me faint out of sheer joy, but I couldn't even get a score of 9. Before I became a professional writer, I wrote and submitted articles to Constant Content, a website that allows writers to sell their articles at the price they want. Before you can sell an article at Constant Content, your work has to be evaluated by editors first. Then the editors will either accept or reject your article. At first, most of my articles were rejected. I was roundly criticized for my diction. The editors didn't bother to sugarcoat their comments. They said that my grammar was impeccable, but my diction was horrible. I have since sold articles on Constant Content and my articles don't get rejected anymore. My articles now get accepted in other content marketplaces as well. My clients from the US and the UK have told me more than once that they couldn't tell that English is my second language when they read my articles. Some even gave me rave reviews for my writing. I've realized that writing is more of a skill than a talent and you can develop and hone this skill if you want to. Here are some tips that you can follow: 1) Read articles, blog posts, e-books, and other content written by successful web content writers. Do it for the sheer enjoyment of reading. Why read? Because you will develop a sense of how good writers construct their sentences and how they use words and phrases (diction). You don't have to take pains to study sentence construction and word usage every time you pick up a book. Just read and trust your mind to learn the nuances of words and shades of meanings. In time, you will intuitively know whether a sentence is constructed correctly or a word is used appropriately. 2) Watch English movies and talk shows, and listen to podcasts. Like reading, listening will help you develop an intuitive sense of diction and correct grammar. I Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 21 21. used to transcribe American TV shows and doing so helped me develop an "ear" for American diction. I did this for four years before I became a professional writer. As a transcriber, I had to listen carefully to what the hosts and the guests said so I could produce accurate transcripts. Working as a transcriber prepared me for my writing career. Now, some of my clients tell me that I write like an American. You don't have to be a transcriber to develop an ear for American English. Just watch more American films and TV shows. Listen to podcasts while doing your household chores or while commuting to work or school. Here's a list of websites where you can download good podcasts free: iTunes Podomatic Robin Sharma Learn Out Loud 3) Have a small notebook where you can jot down interesting words and phrases that you have read or heard. You don't have to use high-sounding words to write a good article. Just make sure that you know the common words and idioms that your clients use. Remember, diction is important. I cannot emphasize this often enough. 4) Write for Constant Content. I'm not kidding! I must admit that the scathing criticisms from the editors eroded my self-confidence as a writer. However, I later realized that those criticisms didn't have to destroy my confidence. I said to myself, "Well, I may be a bad writer now, but this doesn't mean that I can't be a good writer someday." Instead of giving up, I submitted more articles. I began to welcome the editors' criticisms. Sure, they sometimes hurt, but I learned from them. Now, I'm grateful for their criticisms because they helped me become a better writer. Constant Content has strict editorial standards. If you want to be an excellent writer, you need to set high standards for yourself. Constant Content will set the bar high for you. Don't be afraid of criticisms even if you don't see them as constructive. Learn from them and don't allow them to dampen your spirit. Take advantage of this "free training." Aside from that, Constant Content offers you a Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 22 22. side benefit: extra money. When your articles get sold, be sure to buy something nice for yourself. You deserve it. By the way, not all editors at Constant Content are harsh. Some of them are actually very helpful. If you really don't want to write for Constant Content, at least have someone who can give an honest critique of your work. 5) Practice stream-of-consciousness writing. I love doing this! Perhaps you will, too. Just pick a topic. It could be about a person, a thing, an emotion, an idea, anything. Set an alarm clock so that it goes off after 15 minutes. (You can use online countdown clocks like e.ggtimer.) Write everything that comes to mind about your chosen topic. Write without stopping until the alarm goes off. If stray thoughts enter your mind, jot them down. Forget grammar, spelling, diction, sentence structure, and word usage. Just write. This exercise will help you get "unstuck" because you allow the words and ideas to flow freely, unhampered by your inner censor. Stream-of-consciousness writing also trains your mind to cough out ideas and to construct sentences within a short span of time. You will learn how to think on your feet and you will soon speak and write more fluently. You can also use Write or Die, my favorite online application for stream-of-consciousness writing. It can help you beat writer's block and procrastination. Write or Die forces you to write without stopping or you will suffer a consequence. If you stop for a set number of seconds, the application will either play a very annoying sound or your piece will "un-write" itself depending on your settings. You can also buy the software for offline use. The Blog that Writers Absolutely Need to Bookmark There's a blog that I strongly recommend to writers, newbie or experienced. It's called Daily Writing Tips. The blog has a ton of helpful articles for writers of all levels of skill. There are tips for grammar, word usage, business writing, fiction writing, and many more. If you are a beginner, you will find this blog very useful. On the left side of the home page, you will find a list of categories. I suggest that you read articles under Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 23 23. the following categories: Grammar, Grammar 101, General, Freelance Writing, Punctuation, Style, and Misused Words. I have an email subscription so I don't miss anything. If you want to subscribe, click on the link that says "RECEIVE OUR WRITING TIPS VIA EMAIL" on the upper right hand corner of the blog. Other Helpful Websites Grammar Girl This website is highly recommended by one of my clients. It offers loads of helpful tips on grammar, punctuation, word choice, and style. You can listen to the podcast or simply read the transcript below the podcast player. Purdue Online Writing Lab This is a website run by Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana. One of the editors at Constant Content recommended this website to me when I was still a bungling writer. The grammar section has helped me a lot. You may also find this website helpful when you need to write academic papers. The Free Dictionary, Idioms Section Like I said, clients usually prefer to hire writers who sound like them. One of the best ways to sound like your clients is to learn their idioms. Every time you go to the idioms section of the Free Dictionary, you will find a list of random idioms. Pick out the ones you find interesting and study their meanings. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 24 24. Need to Know Whether Your Sentence Construction is Correct or Your Diction is Acceptable? Google is Your Friend! One of my best kept secrets as a professional writer can be summed up in one word: Google. Like I said, I used to get dinged quite often for awkward wording. However, I've found a way to check whether I've used a word or a phrase correctly. Here's how I do it: First, I enter the phrase in quotes ("") inside the Google search box. Let's say I want to know whether the phrase "mitigate their fears" is correct. (I enclosed the phrase in quotes so that Google will return results with the exact phrase.) Then, I check the number of pages in the results returned by Google. I also check whether the phrase is used on reputable websites. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 25 25. The phrase can be found in About.com, a website that requires writers to adhere to high editorial standards. It can also be found on the University of Chicago website. So far so good! I use the phrase if it meets any of the following conditions: If Google returns 10,000 results or more on the phrase If Google returns less than 10,000 results, but the phrase is found on reputable websites If one of the results is a periodical or if one of the results shows that the phrase was used by a well-known contemporary writer. (As great as Shakespeare was, thou shalt not write as he didst! Thou wilt sound ridiculous!) In this case, I will use the phrase because it meets two conditions. It has 145,000 results on Google and it is found on reputable websites. You can use this method if you want to know which of two phrases is correct. For example, you want to know whether "share to" or "share with" is correct. Type the following in the search box. Make sure to enclose both phrases in quotation marks. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 26 26. Google will often return results like these: There are sites (forums and blogs) that discuss grammar issues. Some people may actually have the same dilemma of having to choose between "share to" and "share with." I visited both sites listed by Google. However, I didn't get the answer I was looking for. So what do I do now? I go back to Google and I type in "share to." Google returns 287,000,000 results. Then I type "share with" in the search box. Google returns 308,000,000 results. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 27 27. Now which of these phrases do I use? Obviously, I would go with "share with" because it has more search results, meaning people use the phrase more often than "share to." However, the number of Google results isn't always a good indicator that a phrase is grammatically correct. It just shows that "share with" is more widely used than "share to." Keep in mind that this method requires the use of common sense. I use Google to check my sentence construction or diction whenever I want to play it safe. I write for websites that require writers to have flawless grammar and diction. I don't want editors to reject my articles, so to be on the safe side, I consult Google. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 28 28. Writing Your First Article If you haven't written an article before, you should know that it's not really hard as it seems. However, you should also know that a good article is 50% research, 25% structure, and 25% good grammar, diction, and spelling. First and foremost, your article should offer valuable information to its readers. Make sure that you've done your research well before you write your article. Next, it should be well-structured and "scannable." The main points should be easily identified at a glance. You can use lists, either number or bulleted, to make it easier to scan the article for useful information. Why make your article scannable? Because when an article is scannable, it is easy to digest. Also, readers don't want to spend a lot of time reading articles. They may gloss over your subpoints, so make sure that you make your main points highly visible. If your article isn't scannable, your readers might stop reading it before they even reach the conclusion. The article should also be free from grammatical, spelling, and factual errors. Make sure that you proofread your article well before you send it to your clients. You should also check your word usage. The Anatomy of an Article An article should have four parts: The Title The title should be interesting enough to grab your readers' attention. If it is going to be optimized for the search engines, it should include your clients' primary keyword phrase. (Don't worry. I'll discuss search engine optimization (SEO) later.) Introduction The introduction should tell the readers why they should read your article. If your article aims to solve a problem, you can begin with a statement of the problem and then promise that the article has the solution. If you're writing a how-to article, you may briefly discuss the benefits of knowing how to do whatever it is that you're going to teach them to do. You may want to include statistical facts in the introduction, if applicable. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 29 29. Body of the Article The article gives readers the information that you promised them in the introduction. Like I said, your articles should be scannable. You may use bulleted or numbered lists, but you don't have to all the time. You can also use subtitles or simply dedicate a paragraph for each of your main points, which should be supported by subpoints. Conclusion The concluding paragraph should tie the main points in the body of the article together. It should also tell the readers what they can do after reading the information that they just read. Here's the basic structure of an article: Title Introduction Main Point 1 Subpoint 1 Subpoint 2 Subpoint 3 Main Point 2 Subpoint 1 Subpoint 2 Subpoint 3 Main Point 3 Subpoint 1 Subpoint 2 Subpoint 3 Conclusion Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 30 30. Of course, there is no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to the number of main points and subpoints in an article. You can have as many of each as you want. In the following page, you will find a sample article that I wrote a couple of years ago. I'm going to show you my outline, and then, you can read the entire article. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 31 31. The Outline Title: Causes of Anxiety Disorders Revealed: Know Why You are Anxious Introduction: - number of factors, not just one. - need to understand factors. Main Point One: Family Subpoint 1: A parent with an anxiety disorder. Subpoint 2: Exposure to people with anxiety disorder at a young age. Subpoint 3: Insecure relationship with parents. Main Point Two: Environment Subpoint 1: Traumatic experience during childhood, PTSD Subpoint 2: Social pressures and culture. Main Point Three: Brain Subpoint 1: Chemical imbalance, low levels of GABA Subpoint 2: Dysfunctional amygdala. Main Point Four: Stress Subpoint 1: Anxiety may be a response to stressors. Subpoint 2: What happens if stress level is beyond the limit. Conclusion: - hereditary, environmental and physiological factors. - detailed history Note: This is a blueprint of the article that I wrote. I used this as a guide to write the article below: Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 32 32. The Article Causes of Anxiety Disorders Revealed: Know Why You are Anxious An anxiety disorder can rob you of your peace of mind and may even prevent you from living a normal, productive life. The first step to overcoming an anxiety disorder is knowing what caused it in the first place. However, no anxiety disorder can be blamed on one cause alone. You may well be suffering from an anxiety disorder for a number of reasons. You need to understand the most common factors that come into play in the development of an anxiety disorder so that you can work together with a health care practitioner toward overcoming your condition. It May Run in the Family Research shows that an anxiety disorder may be passed on from parent to child. If one of your parents has an anxiety disorder, you are likely to suffer from this disorder as well at least once in your lifetime. Growing up in a household in which someone has an anxiety disorder could also make you susceptible to this condition. Since you are exposed to panic behaviors at an impressionable age, you probably learned to make them as your own. If you had an insecure relationship with one of your parents or both, you could develop an anxiety disorder later in life. As you can see, while anxiety disorders may partially be blamed on genetics, it may also have something to do with the environment in which you were raised as a child. Your Environment There are other environmental experiences aside from your childhood living conditions that factor into the development of an anxiety disorder as well. A childhood traumatic experience could leave a lasting impression on you. You could suffer from a posttraumatic stress disorder or the experience caused you to develop thinking patterns that may be consistent with those of people with anxiety disorders. Social pressures and culture may also be a factor if you find yourself in a society that teaches you to be afraid of certain things or to be anxious at certain times. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 33 33. Your Brain An anxiety disorder may also be the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. Low levels of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that decreases activity in the central nervous system can contribute to the development of anxiety disorder. A dysfunctional amygdala may also be the culprit. The amygdala is the part of your brain that is responsible for your fight-or-flight response. It processes sensory-related fear memories and communicate their threat importance to other parts of the brain. Normally, its function is to help you protect yourself from dangerous and unpleasant conditions, but when it is dysfunctional, it may cause you to overreact to harmless situations. Stress Anxiety disorders may also be due to stress. Anxiety could be a response to stressors such as chronic illness and financial problems. When you feel stressed about something, you may slowly start to wear out. Our bodies are built to handle certain amounts of stress to a certain extent. However, when the stress level has reached beyond that limit, an anxiety disorder could start to develop. Anxiety disorders are caused by a number of factors which could be hereditary, environmental or physiological. It is very important for you to be as detailed as possible when you relate your history to a mental health professional. Make sure that you do not leave out anything so that the factors that led you to suffer from an anxiety disorder can be pinpointed and the problem can be dealt with successfully. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 34 34. SEO Article Writing: Trust Me, It Isn't Such a Big Deal Perhaps you've come across the acronym, SEO, many times. It stands for search engine optimization. SEO is the application of techniques so that a web page or a website is listed at the top when a person types a certain keyword in the search field. If I want my blog to be at the very top of the search results when you type the phrase "make money at home," I'd have to use SEO techniques to make that happen. To some, SEO sounds intimidating, but if you're a writer, there are only two things that you need to know about SEO, and those are keyword density and keyword placement. Keyword Density Keyword density is the ratio between the number of times a keyword is used and the total number of words of an article. Don't worry. Keyword density isn't hard to compute. If the keyword density is one percent, it means that the keyword has to be used once per 100 words in the article. If it's two percent, then it means the keyword has to appear two times per 100 words. For instance, if a certain Ms. Roberts asks you to write a 500-word article and she says she wants the keyword density to be 1%, you should use the keyword five times in the article. If she wants the keyword density to be 2%, then you should use the keyword ten times (500/100 x 2 = 10). Usually, the desired keyword density is just 1%, so you don't have to worry about the computation. Some client won't give you their desired keyword density. They will just tell you the number of times they want you to use a certain keyword. That will make life a bit easier for you, because you won't have to bother computing for the keyword density. Keyword Placement When you are optimizing an article for a certain keyword, you should know where to put the keywords. Usually, clients will tell you that they want the keywords placed in the title, the introduction, the body, and the conclusion of the article. In other words, they want it scattered around the article. Some clients will ask you to put the keyword within the first 30 words of the article. Some may even ask Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 35 35. you to use the keyword within the first 50 words of the article, but not within the first 10. The rules on keyword placement are not set in stone. However, ideally, the keyword should be used in the title and within the first 100 words of the article. Also, the sentences where the keyword appears should be far apart. For instance, if you already used the keyword in the second sentence of the article, don't use it in the third sentence. Use it a few sentences after the second sentence. Of course, the keyword placement will depend on the keyword density that your client wants as well as the length of the article that you're going to write. Writing an Article Using a Keyword Phrase I like writing keyword-optimized articles (a.k.a. SEO articles). It challenges my creativity. Actually, writing an SEO article isn't difficult once you get the hang of it. However, here are a few things you have to keep in mind: 1) Take the keyword phrase into account when you do your research. You would need to find pieces of information that are relevant to the keyword phrase. 2) Forget about the keyword phrases when you write your rough draft. You should write for people first, then for search engines. 3) Place the keywords in strategic places. You may need to rewrite sentences or add some to accommodate the keyword phrases that you need to use. Dealing with Awkward Keyword Phrases Sometimes, a client may ask you to use a keyword phrase that seems awkward, and it may seem that you're not going to have any choice but to violate the rules of grammar. Let's say a certain Mr. Johnson asks you to use the keyword phrase "medical school Maryland." Unfortunately, you cannot insert the word "in" into the phrase and write "medical school in Maryland." Also, you cannot change the order of the words. You can only use the keyword phrase as is. However, it's an awkward phrase to use in a sentence, right? Well, who says you cannot use it in two sentences? Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 36 36. You can separate "medical school" and "Maryland" with a period or a question mark. Search engines don't care about punctuations between words. For example: If you want to be a topnotch doctor, you should enroll in a world class medical school. Maryland is home to Johns Hopkins University, an institution renowned for its medical program. Have you been looking for a world class medical school? Maryland is the place to go if you want to be trained by the best in the medical field. You can even use a comma: If you are planning to enroll in a world class medical school, Maryland should be in your itinerary next month. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 37 37. Let's Make Some Money! Now, how can you use your newfound writing skills to earn money? Here are ways to earn some good money online: 1) Write For Content Mills. This is a good way to get your feet wet. You can start earning money while honing your skills and gaining confidence as a writer. Content mills don't have strict editorial standards. However, I don't advise you to stick to content mills. Why? Because these are websites that provide cheap content to buyers and they pay very low rates to writers. As soon as you feel confident enough to look for writing jobs elsewhere, stop writing for content mills. Some of these content mills have different pay scales for different levels of writers. However, to get to the next level, you'd have to write a specific number of articles (30 on iWriter) and gather good feedback from the buyers. The maximum rates that content mills usually offer aren't good enough. You can earn so much more elsewhere. You can also use content mills if you need to earn some quick PayPal money. Content mills usually pay writers weekly. Here are some content mills that you can write for: iWriter The Content Authority Text Broker (The UK site accepts writers from other countries. The US site doesn't.) 2) Write For Content Marketplaces. Content marketplaces are websites that allow writers to submit their work and sell them to website or blog owners at the price they want. Sometimes, buyers do request articles on specific topics such as astrology, indoor gardening, dog training, and many more. I started my writing career on Constant Content, a content marketplace. At first, I simply wrote articles on the topics I really liked and uploaded them on the site. However, I've found out that it is better to write articles on the topics requested by buyers. That way, you won't have to wait long before you earn from the articles you write. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 38 38. Constant Content is the only content marketplace I've written for and I haven't had any problems with the website when it comes to payments. Make sure that you do your due diligence before you write for Article Sale, the other website listed below. Constant Content Article Sale 3) Apply For Writing Jobs on Freelancing Websites. This is one of the best ways to get long-term writing clients. Plus, there are many writing jobs available on oDesk, Elance, and other freelancing websites. They never run out of them! To increase your chances of getting hired, make sure that you create an attractive profile. You should also have a writer's portfolio so that potential clients can see samples of your work. You can upload a word document containing your sample articles. Better yet, you can create a blog for free on Blogger.com or Wordpress.com and post your writing samples there. When your clients are happy with the work you do for them, ask them for testimonials and post them on your blog. That will give you some "social proof" and you will be able to charge higher rates. Here's a list of freelancing websites where you can find writing jobs: oDesk Elance Freelancer Click N Work Guru.com 4) Advertise Your Services on Online Forums. Online forums are teeming with potential writing clients. To promote your services as a writer, you will need $20 to post an advertising thread. Your advertising thread should be compelling enough to convince potential clients to hire you. $20 is a small investment compared to what you can earn once you get writing projects from clients. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 39 39. If you want to learn how to write a compelling "copy" (a written sales pitch), read the advertising threads that have a lot of views and replies. Get the gist of what they say and write your own copy accordingly. Don't copy anything word for word. If you don't have $20, you can simply use your forum signature to advertise your services. Write a compelling, benefit-oriented call to action and use it as your forum signature. Here's an example: "Well-Written, Well-Researched, 100% Original Articles Delivered to You on Time. Click Here!" ( Don't copy this. It's mine! ) Link your signature to your blog where your writing samples can be found. Make sure that you have your contact information on your blog. You can also create a contact page and put a contact form on it. If youre going to use Blogger.com, you can use Email Me Form. Its free. Then, participate in forum discussions. Don't sell your services when you post. Rather, offer helpful tips and answer as many questions from the forum participants as you can. If you don't know the answer to their questions, you can always count on Google. (Wink!) The only Internet marketing forum that I recommend for writers is the Warrior Forum. 5) Try Crowdsourcing Sites. Crowdsourcing sites have a bad reputation for paying low rates to writers and other workers. Well, not these two crowdsourcing sites I know: Crowd Source Crowd Content I used to work for Cloud Crowd. However, since it became a part of Crowd Source, I havent done any tasks yet because Ive been busy with my own projects. I still have an active account on the site. Ive recently logged in and Ive found a lot of high-paying writing tasks. You can earn as much as $22.50 for a 450-word article. You can also write a 100-word answer to a question for $2.50 and a 200-word answer for $5.00. However, Crowd Source has very stringent editorial standards. You have to strictly adhere to the style guides or the editors will reject your articles. Every type of writing assignment has its own style guide. For instance, you have to follow a style guide for writing movie reviews and another style guide for blog posts. You need Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 40 40. to take the time to read the style guide for the writing tasks that you are interested in. I haven't tried Crowd Content, but I've heard good things about it. You can earn two to six cents per word depending on your writer level. Thats a lot more than what other crowdsourcing sites and content mills pay, so its worth a try. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 41 41. Conclusion Writing is one of the skills that will always come in handy when you want to make money online. Writing articles doesnt require a lot of talent, but you need to be skilled. There is a huge demand for article writers. There are hundreds of sites where you can score article writing projects. You can apply for writing jobs on freelance sites. You can submit articles to content marketplaces like Constant Content. If you want to get into Internet marketing and you want to get your feet wet, you can start a blog or be an article marketer. I hope you enjoyed my short report and found it helpful. I'd love to hear from you! If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, shoot me an email at theproactivepro@gmail.com. Now, let's make money! Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 42 42. List of Resources Topic Research: Ubersuggest Yahoo Answers Amazon.com For Dummies Online Application for Stream-of-Consciousness Writing: Write or Die Free Podcasts to Help You Develop an Ear for American English: iTunes Podomatic Robin Sharma Learn Out Loud Helpful Websites for Improving Grammar and Writing Skills: Daily Writing Tips Grammar Girl Purdue Online Writing Lab Free Dictionary, Idioms Section Content Mills: iWriter The Content Authority Text Broker Content Marketplaces: Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 43 43. Constant Content Article Sale Internet Marketing Forum: Warrior Forum. Freelancing Websites: oDesk Elance Freelancer Click N Work Guru.com Crowdsourcing Sites: CrowdSource Crowd Content Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 44 44. Ready to take your freelance writing income to the next level? Find high-paying online and offline writing jobs Discover what clients are willing to pay extra money for. Know how to overcome pricing objections. Learn how to command higher rates for your next writing projects. Say goodbye to $5 per article jobs and hello to better paying ones! Grab a copy of Write Less, Earn More today! Click the e-book for more information. Copyright 2014 by Diane de la Cruz. All Rights Reserved. 45

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