21 Resources to Improve Your Writing as a freelancer

Freelance writing is an art form, but it’s honestly not an impossible one to learn…or at least improve upon. If you’ve been itching to try it out, but just aren’t sure you’ve got what it takes, you might try out a few of these tools and start honing your craft today!

Improve Your Writing

TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR WRITING:

1.    The Purdue OWL

This is Purdue University’s online writing lab (OWL). They offer a ton of resources to help you improve your writing skills as a freelancer.

2.    Atomic AI
Atomic AI_Work_At_Home

Atomic AI is a chrome browser extension that helps analyze your writing according to the readability level of your target audience.

3.    Hemingway App

This app will also assess your writing pieces in order to make them more readable.

4.    Help Me Write

Great writing skills won’t help you if you can’t figure out what to write! On this website, you can post your writing ideas and ask your social media followers to vote on them and help you choose. It’s a great way to test your topics out before you post them!

5.    Quick and Dirty Tips

Quick and Dirty Tips, formerly known as Grammar Girl is one of my favorite sources for grammar, punctuation and general writing tips.

BONUS: Gina Horkey, offers a free 5 lesson course on “kickstart your Freelance Writing Biz”  You can check it out here.  Remember it’s free!

6.    Writer’s Digest University
Writer_Digest_Freelancing

This one’s not free, but probably cheaper than university classes! They have some fantastic workshops taught by published authors to help improve your writing.

7.    Draft

Draft is like having a professional writing professor on call. You can upload your draft and pick from several options, such as ask a pro, share or simplify. When you use the ask a pro option, you’ll get a series of suggestions from a seasoned writing pro.

8.    ProWritingAid

ProWritingAid is a website that offers tools for evaluating your writing for things like plagiarism and overused words. It’s $40 a year, but they offer a free trial so you can try before you buy.

9.    Grammar Monster

Grammar Monster is another pretty cool resource for learning grammar and punctuation. They offer tutorials for learning the art rather than just doing it for you.

10. Cambridge English Write and Improve

Write and Improve Freelancer

If instant gratification is your thing, hop over and visit this website. They give you exercises and tools that give you feedback to help improve your writing within seconds!

11. Daily Writing Tips

You can subscribe to this website to receive…yep…writing tips that will help improve your writing. These are great little informative lessons that they guarantee you can learn in 5 minutes a day or less. They also offer some tutorials and tasks to help you hone your skills.

12. Grammar Book

Grammar Book is exactly what it sounds like – a book about grammar. It’s a fantastic resource for writers, but the blog also offers a lot of free information and quizzes to tweak your writing.

13. On Writing

Love or hate scary fiction, Stephen King is one of the kings of the writing world (pun intended). His book On Writing is one of those masterpieces that most pros will advise you to peruse for some helpful tips and interesting facts.

14. Writing Commons

This website offers some helpful tips and mini courses geared toward helping you improve your writing skills and grammar.

15. Better Writing Skills

This site has 20+ published articles on writing skills, grammar and punctuation, as well as writing courses.

16. Poynter

Poynter Writing Tools is a website for journalists that publishes articles on writing and often lists great tools you might otherwise miss.

17. CopyBlogger

Improve Your Writing

Since copywriters are some of the highest paid writers in the world, it pays to learn the skill if you have an interest in it. Copyblogger is one of the most respected authoritative websites on the topic and well worth checking out.

18. Time to Write

Jurgen Wolff has all kinds of information available here for writers, ranging from news in the field to successful writing and inspiration.

19. Write Rhymes

If you’re into rhyming your prose, this handy little tool will give you rhyming words when you paste your text into the box.

20. Advanced Text Analyzer

This is a simple free tool that assesses your writing for word count, readability and more.

21. Positive Writer
Improve Your Writing

This is a great website to visit for doses of writing inspiration and helpful advice.

Conclusion

BONUS: Gina Horkey, offers a free 5 lesson course on “kickstart your Freelance Writing Biz”  You can check it out here.  Remember it’s free!

All writers need to work on improving their skills from time-to-time, but if you’re just starting out or thinking about starting out, it’s important to be the best you can be. There are a ton of resources to help you learn, so a lack of information is no excuse!

This is a guest post from Cheri Read, a single mom, entrepreneur and freelance writer for hire. You can find out more about her or her services over at cheriread.com.

The Top 5 Ways to Make Money Online in 2017

Make Money Online

It’s the dream, isn’t it? Make money online, setting your own hours, and calling your own shots. At least, that’s always been my dream!

A few years ago, when I started really delving into how to make money online, I came across a lot of ideas and a lot of advice. Some of it was good and some of it was, well…not!

But the point of this is to tell you that if you share the dream to make money online, it is COMPLETELY possible! It happened for me and it can happen for you too!

To this day, I still search fervently for money-making opportunities so that I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket. I really like to have my income sources spread out over 2 or 3 different streams so that when one is slow, I can pick up the slack with another.

Today, I want to share with you several make money online opportunities I’ve found that have worked for me or for other people I know of.

Ready to start earning some dough?

1.    Make Money Online – Freelance Writing

I couldn’t possibly tell anyone about earning online without mentioning my bread and butter. Freelance writing has been extremely lucrative for me and it’s a great way to earn a side income or a full-time income. There are lots of freelance writers out there earning well over 6 figures. Here are just a few:

Elna Cain

This is where I got my start. Elna has a lot of free information on her blog, but she also has an amazing course that will take you step-by-step through the process of getting your own business up and running. Check her out if this is something you’d like to pursue!

Holly Johnson

Holly is the co-owner of the blog Club Thrifty with a new course called Earn More Writing. I took this one recently, too, by the way, when I was looking to level up my biz. What’s cool about Holly is that she walks the talk. This lady earns over $200,000 a year from freelance writing alone!

Click HERE to learn more about Holly and Greg.

Gina Horkey

I can’t say enough about Gina Horkey and her blog, Horkey Handbook. She has several courses available, including a freelance writing course and a VA course, but you will learn so much even just reading her blog.

2.    Virtual Assisting

Becoming a virtual assistant is possibly one of the fastest ways to get started earning online. Bloggers and entrepreneurs need your services and they hire people just like you every day to take care of tasks they no longer want or know how to do. You can get started with Gina Horkey’s VA course to learn how to start your own business, or you can apply to a service like Fancy Hands if you’d like to start out with some micro tasking.

3.    Online Selling

This one isn’t for everyone, but online selling can be extremely profitable. I sold mostly on eBay for about 6 months before I started my freelance writing business, and it was fun for a little while, but the hassle of dealing with packing, shipping and storing merchandise was just too much of a headache for me to do it forever. But if it’s something that interests you, I know of a ton of people who make a killing with it.

4.    Dropshipping

Dropshipping is another form of online selling that doesn’t require you to keep physical inventory. Michael makes the majority of his online income with a dropshipping business and speaks very highly of the experience. He attributes his success to the course The Dropship Lifestyle.

5.    Usability Testing

This is something I’ve just recently started looking into because I’ve read some good things about earning money this way. Basically, you evaluate websites for their ease of use.

You can earn $10-25 for 20 minutes worth of work and most people that do it claim to love it. There isn’t a ton of work from what I understand, but if you are diligent about checking the sites, you should be able to learn a nice little side income. Ashlee at Work from Home Happiness has a thorough list of those types of sites here.

Get to Work!

There you have it – my top 5 work at home income recommendations that I’ve tried or that I know have worked well for others.

I’d love for you to chime in and let me know how you make money online.

This is a guest post from Cheri Read, a single mom, entrepreneur and freelance writer for hire. You can find out more about her or her services over at cheriread.com.

Dropship Lifestyle: An Honest Review of the Course that Changed My Finances

Dropship_Lifestyle_Success

If you’ve done any research at all on creating passive online income, I’m sure you’ve come across some information on dropshipping.

You might of even came across the Dropship Lifestyle program by Anton Kraley.

Am I right?

Some of the dropshipping gurus out there make it sound like a get-rich quick scheme and the fastest way to earn a buck. The truth is, the dropshipping business is a fantastic way to make a living, but without a roadmap, you might find yourself among the business owners that fail.

I know I was.

Dropshipping – When an online store receives an order, they send the order to the manufacturer. The manufacturer fulfills the order. In other words, the online store does not keep any stock.

Ever heard of Skippypets?

Didn’t think so.

Skippypets was just one of the dropship online stores I opened in the mid 2000s. And like most of the others I built, this one flopped hard.

Since about 2000, I have spent countless hours building dropship online stores only to watch them fail. And believe me, it wasn’t that I didn’t have the motivation or spend the time to make them succeed.

The problem was that I was spending my time on the wrong things. What I needed was an actual online business owner who had been in my shoes and could show me exactly how to build a successful online dropship store.

I needed a blueprint.

Enter Anton Kraly

Anton Kraley

In December of 2012, I was on a business forum and came across a program called the Dropship Lifestyle  by Anton Kraly.  Click HERE if you want to visit! 

I had bought “start your own online store” programs before. They all promised you the same thing — easy success! Behind most of these programs seemed to be excellent marketers who were good at selling their courses instead of actual business owners who had built their own online stores.

But this one seemed different. 

Dropshiplifestyle-homepage

        

Anton Kraly struck me as honest and genuine. He didn’t promise easy money or salesy garbage. He let you know right up front that starting your own business would be work, but that he had a process to make success possible.

Like most of you, I wasn’t looking to get out of work. I was looking for a successful process to follow, so I could spend my time on the right activities. The activities that would actually produce a profit.

Needless to say, I bought the program. He offered a risk-free guarantee, so I felt I had nothing to lose.

Over the next several weeks, I devoured the information. I watched every single video and read every single word. I spent hours learning and building my online store. 

I was living off 3 or 4 hours of sleep a night, but the excitement of owning my own online business was the fuel that kept me going.  

By the end of January, I was open for business.

My First Order

Success wasn’t instant, but on February 19, 2013, I finally received that long-awaited text. My phone buzzed with a notification from Shopify, alerting me of my first order.

I was ecstatic! Someone actually purchased something from my store! I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to see the next text that said, “You just received an order.”

1st Order

Dropship_Lifestyle_1

Since then, my dropship store has grown considerably and I now earn more there than from my day job.

Bottom line…

Anton’s program Dropship Lifestyle  was a game changer for my families finances!

1st Full Month – February 2013

Dropshiplifestyle_2

As you can tell by the image above, that I definitely  did not kill it the first full month in business.

1 Year later – February 2014Dropship_lifestyle_Anton

What I Love About Dropship Lifestyle

One of the things that makes Anton’s dropship program different is that it doesn’t focus on making thousands of sales per month. Instead, the focus is on niche stores selling high-dollar items so that there’s no need for thousands of sales.

Here is an example:

Store 1: Sells Watches

Average-Priced Watch: $20

Profit Margin: 20%

Gross  Profit Per Sale = $4

Store 2: Sells Robotic Lawnmowers

Average-Priced Lawnmower: $1000

Margin: 20%

Gross Profit Per Sale: $200

Get the picture?

Let’s say you want to make $4000 a month gross profit.

With store 1, you will need to make a 1000 sales.

With store 2, you will only need to make 20 sales. 

Dropship_Lifestyle_Review

Twenty sales is way more manageable than 1,000 sales. In the niche I am in, I make several dozen sales a month and those several dozen sales create a very nice income.

 Many others that have taken Anton’s course have gone on to build more than one store and duplicate their success each time.

My Top Five Tips from the Dropship Lifestyle Program

  1. Sell high ticket items. It is just as easy to sell a $1000 product as it is a $10 product.
  2. Don’t try to self-host. Use Shopify right from the start. It takes a lot of the headache out of building your store. 
    Years ago, I would self host the stores that I built, which meant I was responsible for setting up a payment gateway and making sure my store was secured. The past four years, I have used Shopify without complaints. Try Shopify for Free!
  3. You are building a real business. Do not treat it like a hobby.
  4. Set daily goals and work on the hardest task first. In order to stay motivated, you need to know where you are going.
  5. Some niches will be more successful than others. Do your research and choose yours accordingly.

How to Dropship

Conclusion 

I am extremely grateful that I found this program when I did, and credit Anton Kraly with changing my mindset and motivation for starting an online store.

But the truth is, this type of business model may not be right for you.   I would never set out to convince someone to buy something that wasn’t in their best interest. I only want to share what has worked for me and keep you informed of the best programs out there in case this is something you’ve thought about pursuing.

If it is something you’d like to check out, click here to signup for a FREE 10 day mini course of the Dropship Lifestyle  program.

And as always, I am here to help, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below.

Just take a step,

Michael

Work at Home Mom: The BIG List of the BEST Work at Home Resources

Hey friends! I’ve got an awesome list for you today of all the resources I’ve found useful on my way to becoming a mompreneur! I’m now a successful work at home mom, but I didn’t get here alone. I spent many many hours researching, reading and listening to some of the top bloggers, entrepreneurs and writers online, and you know what I learned? There’s a lot of great information out there. But there’s also a lot of useless information out there.

I started this list to help you save time by going right to the best resources for you, the work at home mom. It’s meant to be all-inclusive, so check back often, because every time I find a new product or website I think will help you, I’ll be adding it.

Best Work at Home Blogs

Pinterest Marketing from Home

Believe in a Budget

Kristin blogs a lot about making money at home, blogging and saving money. She also rocks Pinterest Marketing like nobody’s business!

Work_from_home_Sarah_Titus

Sarah Titus

Sarah’s story is amazing. She was a homeless single mom just a few years ago, but found a way to dig herself out of poverty and managed to become a work at home mom. Her blog now brings in upwards of $20K a month.

Work From Home Happiness

Work from Home Happiness
Ashlee’s blog is full of legitimate ways to earn cash from home.

Helping Moms become mompreneurs

Twins Mommy
Elna’s blog is kinda new to the circuit, but I list it because she’s managed to grow her subscriber list to over 1,200 in just a few short months, and she shares all her secrets on how she does it.

work at home momMaking Sense of Cents Michelle is a digital nomad and blogs about ways to become a work at home mom and save money. She also has a new product out called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing to help bloggers earn money on their blogs. I haven’t personally taken it yet, but have heard some awesome things about it!

 Best Blogging Resources for a Work at Home Mom

How to Turn Your Blog into a Six-Figure Money Making Machine by Sarah Titus
Yep…more Sarah. Her stuff is great because she doesn’t hold anything back about how she got to where she is. She also doesn’t overcharge for her products!

How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul by Ruth Soukup
Ruth is pretty much the queen of all things blogging. She runs a seven-figure blog called Living Well Spending Less, and offers an Elite Blogger Academy twice a year. But if you’re not quite ready to spend the money on her intensive course, this book covers the basics of it and will absolutely help you learn how to generate an income from your blog.

Best Freelancing Blogs & Products

Write Your Way to Your First 1K
This is THE course I took that skyrocketed my freelance writing career in just a few months. It’s priced very reasonably and worth every penny!

Elna Cain
Elna is the author behind Write Your Way to Your First 1K, and she has a blog dedicated strictly to freelance writing. So, if you’re not ready to purchase a course, I recommend you read her blog. She has a way of simplifying complicated subjects.

Writers in Charge
Bamidele is just one of the coolest bloggers around. He’s made a name for himself by teaching people how to break into the freelance writing market…even when English isn’t your native tongue!

Cheri

5 Tips That Will Help You Keep Your New Year’s goal of being your own boss

New Year's Goal Be Your Own Boss

It’s a new year and a great time to make changes, but if you’re anything like more than 40% of the American population, you won’t even keep your New Year’s goal of being your own boss past the first month!

It’s true!  Studies show that most people never achieve what they set out to at the beginning of each year. And while the statistics are a little sad, that doesn’t have to be you. There absolutely are ways to ensure that you reach your New Year’s goal of being your own boss, and maybe approach them from a new perspective.

Whether your goal is to lose weight (the #1 New Year’s resolution made) or reach your goal of being your own boss, this blog post is going to give you some actionable objectives to take with you into the coming year.

Are you ready?

1.    Choose Your New Year’s Goals Wisely

Before you even think about setting a goal, you need to take the time to decide what is truly important to you. I’m assuming that being your own boss is one of your main goals this year.

I always recommend setting very few New Year’s Resolutions. Focus is key here. If you can set one big New Year’s goal (such as being your own boss) that could change your life, you can devote all your energy to that and be more likely to stick with it.

An example of mine would be the year I decided to become a full-time freelance writer. That year, I focused all my perseverance and determination on that one goal. I also achieved it WAY ahead of schedule!

2.    Review the Previous Year

This is important. Take inventory of the goals you set last year. Write them all down and decide which one or two were the most important. Did you achieve them? Are they still important?

If you did achieve a New Year’s goal, decide if it’s something you can build on. For example, when I achieved my goal of starting my own business, the next goal would be to grow that business by a certain amount.

On the other hand, if you failed at sticking to that goal, is it something you need to revisit, or is it something you need to move on from?

Taking inventory can help you gain better insight into what keeps you motivated and what is and isn’t important.

3.    Write Them Down

It sounds simplistic and you’ve probably heard it more than once, but people who write their goals down are 50% more likely to achieve them than those who don’t. Our minds are powerful weapons. Don’t neglect this simple yet powerful step!

4.    Break Them Down

Breaking your goals down into actionable steps is crucial and I have a little secret weapon I use.

I prefer to live by the 12-Week Year. You can read the book for yourself if you’d like, but basically it’s just a way of breaking your year up into quarters, so that you are more likely to stick to them.

You see, it’s very easy to put your goals off when you know you have an entire year, but if you give yourself 12-week deadlines, you won’t have time to waste. This doesn’t mean you have to achieve every big goal in 12 weeks. If it’s a huge goal, you can break it down into quarters.

Of course, you don’t have to use the 12-week year plan. You can simply break your goals down into daily, weekly or monthly segments. Whatever works for you.

5.    Keep Them in Front of You

Finally, don’t let those goals out of your sight! Keep them with you everywhere you go. In your wallet. On your mirror. In your car. Wherever you will see it every single day to stay motivated.

I’m a big fan of vision boards, but if that’s not your thing, just read over your written goals at least once a day. Don’t let yourself forget!

Stay Motivated

Motivation is hard. It’s not a constant, and it’s something we have to work at every day. You’re the only one in charge of your motivation, but these simple keys can help keep you on track. The bottom line is to make sure you do what needs to be done to achieve your New years resolutions and goals no matter how you feel.

I believe Zig Ziglar put it best when he said, “Do it, and then you will feel motivated to do it.”

Will you achieve your New Year’s goal of being your own boss?

15 free resources that has helped me as a freelance writer

Freelance_Writing

1.    Freelancing 101

In this free 7-day course, Sagan Morgan walks you through the steps to begin your freelance writing or editing business. She covers how to avoid common pitfalls and how to land your first client.  If you starting out as a freelance writer, this is an invaluable resource.

2.    Get Paid to Write Online

I can’t say enough about Elna Cain. I’ve taken both her free and paid freelance writing course. It’s what kickstarted me as a freelance writer and allowed me to work from home! Her 6-day free course covers everything you need to know to get started with your own biz, and then some!

3.    Freelance Hourly Rate Calculator

All Indie Writers has this pretty cool hourly rate calculator that lets you plug in the number of days you want to work and the amount you’d like to earn, helping you determine how much you should be charging as a freelance writer.

4.    Canva

Even if design isn’t your thing, you will have to create blog graphics for some of your clients or for your own blog. Canva is an excellent tool for even the most design-challenged writer.

5.    Pixabay

Speaking of images, Pixabay has some great ones and it’s a totally free resource! If you’re not ready to buy your stock images yet, this is where you’ll want to start.

6.    PicMonkey

PicMonkey is another image design tool with a simpler layout than Canva but not quite as many options.

7.    Tiny PNG

This website has a tool that allows you to compress your images and create zip files to send to clients. Optimizing your images is a necessity for bloggers and your clients will appreciate the extra effort.

8.    Skitch

Skitch is hands-down my favorite app for capturing screenshots and adding graphics like circles and arrows. However, it’s now only available for Mac users, so if you’re using Windows, you’ll have to choose another app such as Greenshot, which is my second top pick.

9.    Greenshot

Speaking of…yes, it has to have its own place on my list! J

10. 52 Headline Hacks

Jon Morrow is one of those bloggers that we all aspire to be like. He has the market cornered on creating content that draws people in. In this free resource, he teaches you a few tricks to writing eye-catching headlines like a pro freelance writer.

11. Evernote

Evernote is a great place to store all your research for freelance projects. It lets you bookmark or save pages, articles or websites for future reference and will sync with all your devices.

12. Contently

Contently is a free portfolio site for freelance writers. You can store your published works here where companies are always looking for writers. You may even land yourself a gig or two!

13. The Ultimate List of Better-Paid Blogging Gigs

Sign up for Sophie Lizard’s mailing list and get her awesome list of 75 blogs paying $50 or more. While you’re there, stick around for some of her tips. She has some amazing advice and courses.

14. Alexis Grant’s Database of Freelance Bloggers

It can’t hurt to be on too many lists! Fill out her short form and she will add you to her database. She sends out email blasts occasionally when gigs are available.

15. 100+ Freelance Writing Questions Answered

Carol Tice is pretty much THE go-to guru of the freelance writing world, and in this book, she answers almost any question new freelance writers might have.

Bonus: Freelance Writing Blogs to Follow

Each and every one of these has something great to offer for all levels of writers.

In Conclusion

Don’t get stuck wading through piles of useless information. Believe me – there’s a ton of it out there. Instead, try sticking to this list to begin with and learning all you can. And don’t forget to check back here often for all our best tips and tricks.

Happy writing!

3 home business tasks that I don’t like to do. So I outsource.

Outsource your business task

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably bootstrapped most of your business ventures. This means that spending extra money on outsourcing your business task is out of the question in the beginning stages, but there will come a time when it’s an absolute necessity.

So, how will you know?

A good example is my recent attempt at electrical work. My wife and I are in the process of finishing a bonus room above our garage, and a few weeks ago, I spent most of Saturday and part of Sunday afternoon trying to wire a 4-way switch. I mean, how hard could it be?

But even after watching numerous YouTube videos and reviewing diagrams and instructions, I couldn’t make it work. Finally, I swallowed my pride and contacted an electrician who had it fixed within an hour. It was worth every penny of that $190 service fee.

My only regret was that I had not called him Saturday morning. I wasted hours and hours trying to do something that I already knew was not my forte.

What’s my point?

When you own your own business, you are inevitably going to have tasks you don’t enjoy or you’re not good at. It’s just part of it. But little by little, it’s essential to find people who excel in the things you don’t and outsource these business tasks. Otherwise, your business will never grow the way it should and you will quickly become burned out.

But how do you outsource on a budget?

When you’ve finally started earning a little cash and can see that your business could benefit from hiring some extra help, it’s time to start looking for some assistants. Believe it or not, it’s probably a lot less expensive outsourcing than you think. If you know where to look, you can find quality freelancers on even the tightest budget. Just remember to try them out before investing too much or agreeing to contracts!

3 Popular Marketplaces to Find Freelancers:

  1. Fiverr: Fiverr jobs start at $5 for a basic gig. You will find all kinds of freelancers from SEO work to blog writing.

Fiverr Outsource

Some of the gigs that I have purchased on Fiverr were useless – not even worth salvaging. But I have also had some good results, which makes it worth the small risk. Several of the freelancers that I now use for graphics and editing, I found on Fiverr.

Tip: Once you find someone that does quality work, tip them with each job so that they’ll be motivated to keep producing quality work.

  1. Upwork: The freelancer who currently adds products to my store, I found on Upwork. Like Fiverr, there are a lot of low-quality freelancers, but I usually hire two or three freelancers to do a test job and hire the one who meets my criteria.

Upwork Outsource

Tip: When choosing a freelancer, don’t automatically go with the cheapest bid.   Sometimes that will cost you more in the long run. I found this out the hard way when I hired a writer whose articles I couldn’t use. I now use a freelancer who is a writer by profession.

  1. 99designs: For quality graphic design, 99designs is a great website. Here, designers compete for your business. You submit a detailed report of what you need designed, pick your package, and then designers can pick up the job. They will all submit their designs to you and you pick the one you want.

99designs-outsource

Which tasks should you outsource?

This answer is a little different for everyone, but in general, I always suggest delegating tasks you hate. As your business grows and you’re making more money, you can begin delegating more of your work until all you’re left with is what you’re best at.

For example…

Three Tasks I Always Outsource:

  1. Editing

I would be embarrassed for you to read my posts prior to having them edited. I love to write and share my thoughts but editing is part of the process that I do not enjoy, so I outsource it.

Every article that I write for the Work at Home Inspiration blog and every description on my ecommerce page is edited by an excellent editor.

  1. Mundane Details

When I started my online store, I spent hours upon hours adding products. It was tedious work, and many nights, I was up until 3 a.m. doing the mundane task of adding specifications, product images, and dimensions. It was mind-numbing!

It was during this process of the business that I questioned if starting my own business was worth it. But thank God I stuck with it, because owning my online business has changed my family’s life!

Through many trial and error, I finally found a guy on Upwork who enters all of my product descriptions, which frees up my time to do the things I enjoy and excel at.

  1. Accounting

I actually still do my own accounting, but one of my goals for 2017 is to find the right person to take over this task. It’s just not something I enjoy and feel it would be best outsourced to someone else. If it’s not a strength of yours, you will want to consider handing it off to a professional as well.

Outsource Wisely

Bottom line – outsourcing tasks wisely will make and save your business money in the long run, but be sure to vet your freelancers well. Test jobs and small tasks are always a great way to begin a relationship with a prospective hire.

Check back soon for a future post on the many outsourcing services that are available.   And if you need help finding a freelancer, please email me and I’ll be happy to take a look at your project and recommend someone.

In the meantime, what tasks would you love to outsource?

What Should You Charge as a Freelance Writer?

Should a freelance writer charge by the hour, a flat rate or by the word?

What to charge as a freelance writer

As a freelance writer, I get asked all the time how to structure prices for services like these. I see it in the forums and I hear it from people just starting out. And I used to ask the same questions.

It would frustrate me to no end when successful freelance writers would say things like “You have to find what works for you,” or “Decide what you want to make in a year and calculate your hourly charges accordingly.”

It was frustrating because I would love to make a million dollars a year, but let’s face it, nobody in their right mind was going to pay a freelance writer $500 an hour to write, especially starting out!

Here’s my take on it (and I first heard it from Brent Jones): Some money is better than no money.

Right?

It all depends on how you look at it, and now I know why those other freelance writers give that advice. It really does depend on what you’re comfortable with.

As a freelance writer, I started out making $25 for a 500-750-word blog post. I never went below that, but I know many freelancers who did.

The bottom line is if you are comfortable making $8 for a blog post starting out, don’t let anyone else bully you into not taking the job. Think of it as practice. In fact, you will most likely write many blog posts for free during your career to get exposure by guest posting.

But on the flip side of that, if you are appalled at that rate, don’t let anyone tell you that you have to take it either!

So what rates can you reasonable expect as a freelance writer?

Let’s take a look.

Hourly Pay

It’s completely true that you don’t want to underprice yourself so much that you’re making $1 an hour, but you’re probably going to be much slower at your job when you first start out, so chances are, you will work for lower pay at first.

I rarely use an hourly rate unless I’m doing admin work, but some freelancers charge this way, and it’s perfectly okay.

As a new writer, you need to take into consideration what others are willing to pay you, along with what you’d like to make. In my experience, it’s not too difficult to get $15-20 an hour as a freelancer, as long as it’s not taking you 6 hours to write 500 words.

Flat Rate Pay

For that reason, I like the flat-rate model better. When I first started, it honestly did sometimes take me several hours to write one piece because I had no idea what I was doing and I wanted it to be perfect.

I based my prices on how long I thought a piece should take and the average rate people seemed to be offering freelancers on the job boards. I mean, yes, I was making terrible wages once in a while, but I was getting clients, exposure and practice. That’s worth a lot!

Specifically, after my first few assignments of $25 each, I started charging a flat rate of $40 for a 500- word blog post and $70 for 1,000 words. I actually still have a couple of $40 per blog post clients. Oh the horror!

Why?

Because they pay the bills, they are very quick and easy for me to write, and they are super clients I’m not ready to lose! Keep in mind these are blog posts that typically take me less than an hour to write, and $40 an hour is a perfectly respectable and comfortable rate as far as I’m concerned.

By the Word

The third way writers charge is by the word, and this is something I kind of figure in when deciding my rates each year. Some writers say you should never charge below $.07 per word, but again, it depends on what you’re comfortable with. As you can see, my rate hovers around that mark, but I didn’t start out there.

If you like this model, use it! A lot of writers do. I simply prefer the flat-rate model to protect my clients from unexpected charges. I rarely go under the word count, but I often go over. In those cases, I would have to re-calculate their fees, and I find my clients are much happier when they know what to expect.

Wrapping it Up

I hope this gives you a little insight into how other structure their pricing. It can be really frustrating just starting out when you can’t get specific answers, but the truth is, you will find what works for you, and when you stop getting clients, you know you’re charging too much for your level of expertise.

Stay tuned for a future post about how to raise your rates!

10 Characteristics of a Successful Entrepreneur

What it takes to be an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur

I’m not going to sugar coat it…being a entrepreneur can be hard. Yes, it’s fantastic setting your own hours, creating your own income and not answering to a boss, but the truth is, you need to either currently possess or hone some skills to make sure you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

When you first quit your job to do what you love, the feeling is euphoric, but if you’re not careful, you can end up binging on Netflix for a month before you realize your cable is about to get shut off.

So, how do you decide if you’re ready?

There are 10 characteristics most successful entrepreneurs possess. If you don’t have them, it doesn’t mean you’ll never be an entrepreneur. It just means you’ve got some stuff to work on.

Ready to learn?

1.    Discipline

This one should be obvious. If you lack self-discipline, you’ll end up at the movies with friends instead of buckled down at your laptop. You’ve got to be able to stick to your schedule and get something done every single day.

Discipline is not an easy skill to develop, but if you’re motivated enough, you can find a way to train yourself!

2.    Unafraid of Risk

There is ALWAYS risk with entrepreneurial endeavors, but to be honest, there is with any job. Your secure bank job is only as secure as the customers supporting it. Huge corporations go belly-up all the time. You just have to decide for yourself whom you’re willing to take the risk on.

3.    Decisiveness

Life is hard when you struggle with making your own decisions, and being an entrepreneur is even harder. You won’t have a boss to turn to for answers when facing a huge decision. You will just have to buck up and take responsibility yourself. The faster you can become at making them, the easier it will become. Trust your gut!

4.    Self-Control

If you’re bootstrapping your business and starting out on a budget, it can be difficult to know what you need to set aside and what you can spend. The bottom line is that you’ll probably need to reduce your spending to ensure you have enough to cover taxes and business expenses the first year. Get control of your finances and find out what’s coming in and going out.

5.    Dreamer

That’s right. Anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit has usually envisioned his or her success in his mind long before they ever took the first step. While daydreaming instead of working can be detrimental to your success, a healthy vision is a necessity for future success as an entrepreneur.

6.    Positivity

Let’s face it, any endeavor has its ups and downs, but it can be especially true when you go it alone. It’s easy to get down in the dumps and forget to see the big picture, but if you keep a positive outlook, things will go a lot smoother for you!

7.    Self-Confidence

Along with a positive outlook toward your new venture, you also have to believe in yourself enough to know that you have what it takes to accomplish your goals. Without it, you’re likely to crumble at the first sign of adversity!

8.    Flexibility

Almost nothing goes exactly as planned, and that’s okay. One of the best qualities you can have is the ability to roll with the punches and adjust accordingly.

9.    Humility

Nobody can do it all on their own, and even if you start out that way, there WILL come a time when you need a little help. Be it advice, assistance or just a shoulder to cry on, don’t be too proud to turn to people you trust!

10.  Self-Awareness

All of these qualities really boil down to self-awareness. Be willing to see the bad with the good in your own character and make the necessary changes to succeed.

Get to Work!

If you find yourself lacking in any of these areas, don’t give up hope. All these skills can be learned and developed with a little hard work. That’s why so many entrepreneurs start their endeavors as side hustles and hone their skills before they leave their day jobs.

What’s the old saying?

“If it were easy, everyone would be doing it!”

7 reasons why I have kept my day job while owning my own business

Does starting your own business mean you should quit your day job?

Owning your own business

Like you, I stay busy. I work a full-time job, operate a thriving online store and run the blog workathomeinspiration.com, all the while being a husband and dad.  The question often asked is,  should you quit your job while owning your own business?

I make as much money from owning my own business as I do with my full-time job, but I have yet to put in my two-week notice and don’t plan to anytime soon.

Why do I continue working a full-time job?

1. Base Income

I view my day job as my base pay and my work-at-home businesses as commission. I pay myself a regular salary every two weeks from my ecommerce store. The rest of my profit, we save or pay off debt. Having that base-pay buffer eliminates some of the stress that can come with owning your own business.

2. Insurance

The company that I work for offers excellent insurance at an affordable premium. Two summers ago, one of our sons had to be rushed to the emergency room, and two weeks later, our other son had to go to the emergency room. We would have been out several thousand dollars if we had not had excellent insurance coverage.

3. I don’t dread my job

If I had a job that I dreaded going to every day, I would probably take the risk and quit. But I work with great people and my job is not stressful. While I work, I am able to listen to podcasts and audio books that help me grow own businesses.

4. Meet financial goals earlier

Several years ago, we purchased a brand-new car and were able to pay it off within a year, thanks to the fact that we could pay at least $1,000 a month from my online business.    My wife and I are working toward paying off our home early. This goal is obtainable because we have several streams of income as business owners.

5. My wife can be at home

At one time in our marriage, my wife was working three days a week, cleaning an office and teaching on Saturdays. I hated it because we had always desired her to be at home as much as possible with our kids. Today, she only works two days a week and one of those days she is able to pick up the kids from school. I do not want to jeopardize her having to work more than two days a week.

6. Retirement

The company that I work with offers an excellent 401k plan. They match dollar for dollar. This benefit has the potential of being worth several thousand a year. Right now, I put in 5 percent of my salary, which is the maximum they match. Of course, if I was making $1,000,000 annually with my work-at-home business, then this benefit would not have as much holding power.

7. Security

I have worked for the same company for over 20 years and realize there is no security working for “the man”. My wife, however, feels more financially secure with me having a corporate job. I would not leave my job without making sure that we had enough in savings to last for at least six months and all of our bills were paid off. Of course, there are always exceptions.

Like many of you, I would love to work full time on my own businesses. But for now, I am satisfied doing what I am doing. I have certain financial goals that will need to be met before I quit my day job.

For those of you that work a job as well, what keeps you from quitting and owning  your own business full time?

Just take a step!

Michael