Writing to make ends meet…

Looking for a Paid Gig?

I’ve picked up 2 new paid writing gigs in the last couple of days and learned about a couple more that I thought I would share.

I was accepted as a writer into Demand Studios (and I passed my probationary period and have already had 3 articles approved and published).  They specialize in “How to” and “tips” type articles that span just about every topic imaginable. Most articles pay a $15 flat fee, but there are some for less ($7.50) and some for more (up to $50 for special assignment articles).  They have a very strict writing guidelines that have to be followed for all articles and articles will require rewrites or even be rejected.  So far, the articles I’ve written have been accepted with the research I’ve done.  The experienced writers there say the articles get easier to write once you get the guidelines down, so hopefully I’ll eventually make enough that it will be worth my time.  The nice thing is that they pay 2 times a week to PayPal (Tuesdays and Fridays), so I will have $45 waiting in my PayPal account for me tomorrow.

I’m also in the test process for wiseGEEK.  So far, it seems very similar to Demand Studios with its strict guidelines.  The titles seem easier and more intuitive and do not require references, so they shouldn’t take as much time.  They also pay a bit less, though (most are $10 articles).  I’ve been able to churn these out faster, but I’m still waiting for editor comments, so we’ll see.

I’ve also applied to Break Studios and Internet Brands.  We’ll see how those are.  I’ll report back if I get into either one.

Alright, I need to get back to my articles!  Good luck 🙂

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A Peek Into My Sunday

First of all, let me say that I am thrilled because I was accepted into Demand Studios to write short articles.  I’ve been scouring all of their requirements and picking out titles for my 3 probationary articles, and I hope to write those later this afternoon.

Meanwhile, we’re getting ready for another Sunday at the Scoville household.  The Sprint Cup NASCAR race is on in about an hour, so we’ve got our popcorn ready to be microwaved, and the fabulous (and super easy) cheesy chicken enchilada soup is in the crock pot.  Later tonight, we’ll dress the boys up for Halloween and head out Trick or Treating.  This year we have a Vampire and an Iron Man.  The evening will end at the in-laws for  chili dogs and more candy.

What does your Sunday look like?  Do you want some delicious cheesy chicken enchilada soup?  Here’s how we make it:

1 can Cheddar Cheese Soup

1 can Nacho Cheese Soup

3/4  soup can of milk

1 can Medium Enchilada Sauce

1 large can of chunked chicken breast (drained)

1 bag Fritos

Combine cheddar cheese and nacho cheese soup in a crock pot with the milk.  Stir until creamy.  Add enchilada sauce and chicken.  Stir until blended.  Heat in crock pot on medium heat until hot.  Ladle into bowls and top with Fritos.  For a less spicy version, use 2 cans of cheddar cheese soup instead of 1 cheddar and 1 nacho, and use a mild enchilada sauce.  For a more spicy version, use 2 cans of nacho cheese soup instead of the 1 cheaddar and 1 nacho, and use a hot enchilada sauce.

Possible New Gig

Well, finally, one of the resumes I’ve sent in over the past month or so has finally panned out for me.  I finally got a response from a test prep company looking for a science writer.  They gave me a sample assignment and a deadline that I’m working on now.  My fingers are crossed that it will work out and I can start making some more money.

Do you ever wonder where you should be going to look for these types of jobs?  I’ll tell you my preferred sites.  If you know of others, let me know in the comments!

For my education writing jobs (which are the ones I apply for the most since it’s my area of expertise), I use http://educationwriting.blogspot.com.  A group of people update it a couple of times a week with education job leads.  It’s nice not to have to sift through a bunch of jobs I’m not interested in or even qualified to do.

For other types of writing jobs, I check out http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com.  It just changed ownership, but it seems to be keeping the same types of job links and job boards running, so I think it will still be good.  There are also articles about freelance writing on the site that can be interesting and/or useful.

If I am looking for a blogging job, I also check out http://jobs.problogger.net, although most of those that advertise there are not the types of blogs that would interest me enough to actually write for them.  Every now and then, an entertainment geared blog pops up that catches my eye, though, so I check that site every now and then.

Where do you find your jobs?  Let us know in the comments.

Someday…

Someday I will be independently wealthy.  I know this.  I’ve worked too hard to always be behind in bills and in debt up to my eyeballs.  I believe in Karma, and I believe I have good Karma.  I’m generally a good person, and gosh darn it, I deserve to be rewarded.

Waiting for that money to come rolling in leaves me in a tight spot, however.  I already have a full time job teaching and tack on extra curriculars like yearbook and dance team and I actually work overtime.  Then, of course, I write in my “spare” time to make a pittance just to be able to cover some of the bills.

If I could just land that “one” gig out there that would make me not necessarily independently wealthy, but rather comfortable, I would be satisfied.  If About.com would just finally get around to reviewing my applications for them (I currently have 3 sites I’ve applied to be a guide or a contributing writer on and I keep getting the “we have not had a chance to review your application…” messages when I check the status), I know they would hire me and that extra income would solve some of the drowning in bills problems I have.

I’m willing to work for my money.  I don’t expect it to just fall in my lap with no effort (although I’d be okay with that if it were to happen).  I just need that “break”.  I need a good lead and affirmation of my skills by actually being hired.  Or maybe I need a marketable and lucrative idea of my own.  If you have any ideas, let me know!

Long Time, No Blog…

Well, hello there little neglected writing blog!  I almost forgot you existed.  Life got really busy, like writing 3 blogs, having another baby, switching teaching jobs, and of course all the other crazy stuff I do on a daily basis.  I’m back now, though, because my finances are, once again, overwhelmingly in a downward spiral.  That means it’s time to get back out actively searching for freelance writing jobs and sprucing things up around here to send potential employers when they are looking for my published clips.

I started with a new theme for the blog.  Do you like it?  I love the colors.  They are bright and unusual for a blog.  Hopefully, I convey the same things with my writing.  I like to market myself as bright and unusual.  The goal is to make the company I want to write for think that they can’t live without my outstanding services.  We’ll see how that goes.

I also briefly contemplated starting a resume writing service.  My only hesitation is that I’ve never created a resume for someone I don’t know.  I think I have a real talent for writing cover letters, but I realized that I’ve only written cover letters (and resumes, for that matter) for myself and my husband.  I think I know both of us pretty well, so it was a natural thing.  I’m not sure how I would do trying to talk up strong points of strangers unless they are really good at conveying who they really are and know themselves well enough to know what to highlight as a strength.  Anyway, it’s something for me to think about, I guess, and it seems it can be a pretty lucrative gig if you’re good at it.  Anyone out there had experience with resume writing that would want to share some tips?  Let me know in the comments!

And, of course, if you want to hire me (or just give me lots of free money…), let me know!  I’m back and ready to write!

I’m departing, for a bit, on my writing about writing to talk about Iowa HOBY and what it means to me. First of all, HOBY stands for the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program and its aim is to develop leadership skills in high school sophomores by empowering them to step up and contribute to their communities. One high school sophomore from every high school in the US (and 20 other countries!) is invited to represent their school at a weekend long leadership seminar.

I was chosen from my high school to attend the Illinois-Central/South HOBY seminar back in 1994 and it changed my life. Before I went to the seminar, I was very shy and reserved. While I considered myself intelligent, I didn’t think I had the power to change anything about the world. After I attended the program, I learned that with hard work and by believing in myself that I could make a difference. I went back every year after that to participate on staff and hopefully inspire other students the way I was when I was a sophomore.

After I went to college in Iowa and moved here permanently, I looked up the Iowa HOBY organization and started volunteering on staff. I was asked to help out on the seminar planning committee after that and eventually got my shot as seminar chairperson for 2 years. I had the opportunity to give back what I had gotten out of HOBY. When I finished my two years as chairperson, I was appointed Iowa HOBY Corporate Board president. And to think that only about 10 years before that when I was chosen by my high school to go to HOBY, I didn’t think I had the power to get anywhere in life. I looked back and realized that I was the president of a Non-Profit corporation before I was 30. How many people can say that?

Unfortunately, Iowa HOBY has been shrinking in size due to lack of funding. HOBY International started charging a fee for service in 2003 and the small rural schools in Iowa just don’t have that sort of money in their budgets allocated to one student. We work hard as a corporate board to make up the difference and give even more students the opportunity of a lifetime, but sometimes we come up short. Hopefully we can raise enough this year to increase our numbers.

Blogging All the Time

I am fortunate enough to have applied for and been given the VH1 blogging job at 451press.  Check out my new blog all about CelebReality and VH1 programming at http://www.watchingvh1.com.

I’m trying to become a better blogger to make WatchingVH1 the best it can be.  Here are 10 tips I picked up that may seem obvious to most bloggers, but it’s always a nice reminder of what makes a good blog a great blog.

1.  Make your blog interactive.  Articles are great to write, but a blog should involve the reader in some way.  Put out some thought provoking questions or ideas and urge your readers to discuss them in your comments section.  This doesn’t mean every post has to be controversial or ask questions, but there should be more posts in that vein than straight up articles.

2.  Do something unique.  There are so many blogs out there nowadays that you have to have a reason for your readers to return.  This could be something as simple as a weekly commentary or feature on your chosen topic, or maybe your writing style will be sufficient.

3.  Update frequently.  This is where I have problems with my personal blogs (obviously…when was the last time I had the time to write in this one?).  My personal blogs get put aside, naturally, to cater to my paying gigs and teaching, and that is how it should be. However, if you want to keep people coming back, the entries need to be fresh and relevant often.  There is nothing more disappointing than taking time to surf to a blog and see nothing new for you to read.

4.  Know your subject inside and out.  If you are blogging frequently, you have to be able to come up with enough ideas for fresh content as often as possible.  If you pick an extremely narrow topic, there just may not be enough ideas to keep it up for very long.  If you know a lot about your subject, you can be more creative and are more likely to be able to come up with more ideas to keep readers interested.

5.  Listen to your readers.  They are who are keeping your blog in business, so read your comments and reply to them when appropriate.  If someone suggests something to make your blog better, and it’s a reasonable request, try to accommodate them and use their ideas.

6.  Word of mouth is your best marketing tool.  Sure, search engines are great, but your blog may be on page 1674 of 1 million for your keywords.  This is why you have to get some loyal readers who will tell their friends how awesome and unique your blog is.  Reciprocal links to your blog is a great way to get surfers, so make friends with people who have similar blogs and link, link, link!

7.  Don’t overwhelm your writing with your blog design.  You definitely should make your blog pleasant to look at, but it also needs to be functional.  Your writing needs to speak for itself and if your blog design is what’s getting the attention, that defeats the purpose of spending all that time writing posts.

8.  The fewer ads, the better.  Of course we’d all like to make some money with our labor of love, but if you have too many ads crowding up the page, your readers are going to get tired of searching for the real writing on your blog.  AdSense and other advertising opportunities can bring in some cash, but keep it to what’s relevant to your blog topic and put it somewhere that won’t interfere with the flow of your blog.

9.  Brush up on your writing skills.  You can have a beautifully designed background for your blog, but if you can’t coherently string sentences together, no one is going to want to read what you have to say.  Isn’t the point of a blog to get your ideas out there to the internet audience?  How are they going to know what you’re trying to say if your writing is poor and your spelling is worse?

10.  Don’t be self indulgent.  Yes, it’s your blog–your little piece of the internet pie, but if you want people to read it, you have to cater to what’s important to them.  It’s fine every now and then to write all about yourself and your exciting day of laundry and eating Doritos, but give readers some sort of useful information–or at least a lesson in your life story–that applies to them.  The best personal blog are stories that are written so others can relate or get a chuckle out of.  Remember that your blog is just as much for everyone else as it is for you.

What are some of your rules for blogging?  Did I cover most of the important things or did I leave something important out of this post?  Leave me a comment or email me and let me know!

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