.:The Internet Home Business Magazine for Moms & Dads:.


How to Use Your Blog to Destroy Your Business


The majority of our posts this week focus on how to use blogging as a part of your freelance business.  First of all, we talked about how a blog can be useful for marketing, networking, earning, and even evaluating your own business practices with “Does Your Freelance Business Need a Blog.”  After that, we looked at how having a niche blog can be the ticket to promoting yourself in “Using a Blog to Grow Your Business.”  Today we’re going to take a peek at some of the best (by which we mean “worst”) ways to use a blog to destroy your freelance business. 

Revealing too much about your clients – This is a big no-no and can lose you a lot of business.  If you just have to vent about a client, be sure not to mention them by name or give too many details.  In some cases you may just tick them off.  In others cases, you might land yourself in a lawsuit.  Believe me, you don’t want to get Dooced.  Now that I’ve said that, I have to admit that there are a few hilarious blogs out there that skewer clients.  Notice how Writing Frump manages to keep not only her clients’ identity quiet, but also her(?) own. 

Revealing too much about yourself – Blogging is tricky.  We build these relationships with the people who read and comment on our blogs, and sometimes it’s easy to forget that you’re not having a private conversation.  Obviously this guideline depends on your area of focus.  The original eMom, Wendy, is well-respected for being transparent about her life, for example.  On the other hand, if you’re a self-employed criminal attorney using a blog to showcase your expertise, it’s probably not appropriate to talk about how you got wasted at the Poison reunion concert last weekend. 

Demonstrating your lack of actual skills – If you’re a freelance web designer, then your blog should be beautiful.  Potential clients should look at it and think, “If her site looks this good, imagine what she can do for me!”  Likewise, if you’re a freelance writer, make sure that your posts aren’t full of errors.  Photographers should utilize their own (best) photos.  The lawyer mentioned above should avoid giving questionable advice just because he was still hung over from the show.  Sure, you can fool some of the people, but the quality clients are going to see through your B.S. and find somewhere else to spend their money. 

Being too controversial – There is something to be said for the occasional opinion piece.  Heck, some blogs survive on the principle of stirring up as much controversy as possible because it gets people talking and visiting.  On the other hand, a business blog might not be the appropriate place for this kind of post.  While you certainly want to be true to your ideals, you don’t want to alienate half of your potential client base.  Sometimes you’ll find that controversy happens in the comment section without you.  These situations are always tricky, and you’ll have to determine how to best proceed if commenters start bashing each other (or even your original post).  Conversations are great, name-calling is counterproductive.  Getting sucked into these situations can hurt your status as a professional. 

Not posting often enough (or even posting too much) – If you’re only going to post to your blog once a month, then you’re less likely to earn any sort of loyal following.  Perhaps you just want a place to put up the occasional article.  That’s o.k.  Just realize that this type of blog is probably not going to be as popular as one that posts a few times a week.  Most of the folks I’ve talked to say that they think a blogger should post a minimum of three times a week.  If I visit a blog that hasn’t been updated in a couple of weeks, I wonder about the blogger’s dedication and follow-through.   

Posting too frequently can be a problem, too.  First of all, it’s easy to get burnt out if you’re constantly trying to come up with new, quality posts.  Also, folks who receive your posts via a feed reader sometimes get annoyed if too many come through every day.  It sort of feels like they’re being spammmed, even if the content is good. 

Blogging can be an incredible asset to your freelance business, but remember that it can hurt you, too.  Use yours to its best advantage by doing the opposite of those things listed above:  Remain professional, avoid unnecessary controversy, keep your blog current, and always put your best foot forward. 

Help us all avoid trouble by telling us about other blogging mistakes you’ve seen out there that made you think, “Ouch!  I wouldn’t hire that person in a million years!” 

Popularity: 4% [?]

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Book Review: Write for the Web: A Beginner’s Guide to Writing on the Internet


One of the things that Tamara and I originally planned to do with this blog was to offer reviews of books related to freelancing and writing. Somehow, that brilliant idea slipped into the background.

So, when James Chartrand and Harrison McLeod at JCM Enterprises mentioned that they had released an e-book on those very topics, we offered to review it for them. We couldn’t imagine a better topic to share at Freelance Parent, we figured maybe we could give them a little publicity (assuming the book was any good, of course), and—best of all—we’d get to read it for free.

I was excited to receive my PDF version of Write for the Web: A Beginner’s Guide to Writing on the Internet. I know that JCM Enterprises has had quite a bit of success building their freelance writing business, and I was prepared to soak up any knowledge they had spilled on the pages of their e-book. I was pleased by what I found.

First of all, the overall look of the book was quite nice. The layout and design were attractive and pretty easy to navigate. There were some formatting issues in the ebook version I had, but they have since been addressed and corrected. The photos and color scheme were nice and professional, and the graphics were really inviting. There were also a lot of bullet points in the form of check boxes, and as a consummate list-maker, these appealed to me in a big way.

The book is organized into four sections that lead pretty smoothly into one another. It made me ridiculously happy that much of the first section focuses on evaluating yourself and determining whether or not freelance writing is a good fit for you. So many e-books are full of I-Got-Rich-and-So-Can-You hype, but JCM Enterprises deliberately avoids taking that route with theirs. They invest the time to help readers determine not only if they have the necessary writing chops, but also if they are prepared to learn to market themselves and offer great customer service.

The second section of the e-book gives some really practical information that any new freelance writer would want. While it can sometimes be a little tricky to figure out how on earth to set your fees, for example, the book dives right in and offers suggestions. Other topics include some background information on copyrights, and an introduction to what the heck “SEO” means. They also give a quick run-down on some of the scams that sucker newbies.

As they move into the next section, the authors get into some of the nitty-gritty details of exactly what types of markets are available to those wanting to write online. I liked the fact that they not only describe markets like article writing and sales letter writing, but they also talk fairly in-depth about what specific skills a writer needs to excel in the various areas.

In the final section of Write for the Web, JCM Enterprises actually shares a number of links to resources for beginning freelancers. This section isn’t necessarily extensive, but it creates a helpful jumping-off point for getting started. This, partnered with other suggestions scattered throughout the book, really does offer enough information for a person to get started. As I alluded to before, while the e-book is optimistic in tone, it doesn’t sugar coat the hard work that is necessary to become a successful freelance writer.

When Tamara and I started freelancing, we spent a lot of time reading blogs and articles all over the Internet in order to gather the basic information we needed. I really do think that this book would be a great resource for someone in that same position. It would literally save the beginning freelancer a few weeks’ worth of research. Since we’re more experienced, we didn’t learn anything in the e-book that we hadn’t already learned on our own, but that’s only because we’ve worked very hard and invested a lot of time and energy. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Write for the Web is definitely a book for beginning freelance writers, and that someone in that position could gain a lot from reading it.

There is a ton of material on the pages of this e-book, and it manages to cover the majority of the most important questions a new freelancer would have. Whereas you can generally sit down and read an e-book in one sitting, this is a book that is better digested in sections. To me, that says that the authors were more concerned about including the pertinent information than they were with simply selling a slick-looking book.

I would recommend Write for the Web to those wanting to get the basics on how to pursue their freelancing dreams. Goodness knows, it would have saved Tamara and I a lot of research time.

If you are interested in purchasing the book, we feel comfortable recommending that you Buy Now

Popularity: 5% [?]

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Using a Blog to Grow Your Business


Yesterday we took a look at how this particular blog has benefited our freelance business. Today we want to focus on how it’s not helping our business and what we plan to do about that.

When I say “how it’s not helping our business,” I’m not implying that it is hurting us. While it’s true that writing about potty training and housework might not seem like the most “professional” approach, it makes sense for us. First of all, this blog is about being freelancers and about being parents. Secondly, we decided early on that if it was a problem for a potential client to hire a WAHM, then we probably wouldn’t be a good match for them anyway.

Identify Your Audience
Quite honestly, this blog really isn’t for our clients. Sure, some of our readers have become clients; and the occasional web surfer has stumbled across the site and been thrilled to hire us. In general, though, this blog appeals mostly to other freelancers. In fact, it seems to be most popular with other freelance writers. If there is one group of people in the business world who are least likely to need our services, it’s other freelance writers, right? (Actually, that is somewhat debatable.) In the grand scheme of things freelance writers aren’t the people we most want to target as potential clients.

We have talked repeatedly about the importance of finding the right niche for your business. After working hard to identify our strengths and interests, we have chosen a niche for our freelance work. While we’ll still be working on a variety of projects for the time being, we’re setting ourselves up in the next few months to be able to offer writing services specifically geared toward nonprofit organizations. Both of us have quite a bit of on-the-job experience in this field, my Master’s Degree focuses here, and Tamara and I are both bleeding hearts—so it seemed like a great choice.

Cater to that Audience
In the past, each of us would have typed up our resumes to include all of our work in the Arts and Social Justice and maybe trotted out our college GPAs in order to try and attract clients. In today’s world, though, we have the option of really showcasing our knowledge by building a blog that speaks directly to those who do the hiring. A simple resume wouldn’t allow Tamara to truly share her feelings on the importance of cultural competence in the workplace, nor would it give me the chance to outline how a volunteer recognition program can increase the retention of volunteers and staff alike. Creating this new blog was not necessarily our idea, rather it was a suggestion made by the marketing team over at IttyBiz. And who are we to argue with the marketing professionals?

Blogging offers another opportunity for us, as well. In addition to demonstrating knowledge of the field, it also gives a first-hand view of our writing abilities. What a great way to share our expertise as both nonprofit professionals and as writers. It also provides an opportunity to write articles that are really interesting to us and that will be beneficial to nonprofit organizations, whether they are our clients or not.

Focus on What You Can Give, Not What You Can Get
Perhaps it sounds idealistic, but the priority of any blog should be to produce great content. Sure, there is something to be said for focusing on SEO and for monetizing a site; but when you boil it all down, if there’s no good information, there’s really no reason for folks to visit. While our new blog will certainly be a tool for finding new clients, it won’t be completely geared that way. The aim will be to provide high-quality information to nonprofit organizations—a truly useful site that nonprofit professionals will visit often.

So, we’re curious. Have any of you freelancing folks created blogs specifically to appeal to your clients? I know a lot of you have writing-related blogs, but have you branched out into other areas? If so, feel free to leave a link in the comments section. If not, is it something you’ve considered?

Popularity: 7% [?]

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Does Your Freelance Business Need a Blog?


Aside from the fact that we rely heavily on our partnership, Tamara and I believe that this blog is the biggest factor in our current success as freelance writers.  There are the obvious benefits of using it to market our business, of course, but there’s so much more to it. 

I know you may find this shocking, but when we started our freelance company, we really had no intention of creating a blog to go along with it.  It’s kind of crazy, when you think about it, because I’ve been blogging for five years.  I’ve kept a personal blog for all that time over at LiveJournal; and for more than a year, I’ve also maintained the Something Good blog there.  Not only that, but I was an avid blog reader.  eMoms at Home was one of my favorites, even though I was yet to be a parent.  

Still, when Tamara and I started planning for our business, the idea of blogging never came up.  Sure, we talked about marketing materials like brochures and web sites, but a blog . . . it never occurred to us that we could use one.  Thank goodness Wendy approached us about joining eMoms when she decided to expand her original site. 

We’ve experienced a lot of benefits as a result of the Freelance Parent blog: 


I mentioned already that this blog has been a tool for marketing our business.  One client happened to be searching online for freelance writers and came upon the site before heading over to Guru to post a job.  She liked our personalities and our approach to what we do, and rather than posting on Guru, she popped us off an email instead.   


Tamara and I don’t make a lot of money from this blog, but we also don’t have to put a whole lot of work into setting it up and maintaining it.  Basically, we write about topics that we think will be useful for other freelancers, and once a month we get a check.  As a result of having a well-maintained blog, we’ve also been hired to write on as many as five other blogs in the last couple of months.  In addition to being paid for the writing, many of the freelancers we know set up their own blogs and earn a little extra income through advertising and affiliate programs. 


At first, Tamara and I were a little nervous about having enough to say in order to post three times a week.  We ended up just sort of forcing ourselves to write a little something every day.  In no time at all, we realized how valuable this was.  Not only were we keeping ourselves active on days when there wasn’t much paid writing to do, but we were also learning a ton about our business.  By doing a write-up on record keeping, for example, we had to review our own process and determine if it was working for us or not. 


Becoming part of the online freelancing community has been such an incredible part of blogging here at Freelance Parent.  Our peers have educated and inspired us.  I’ve mentioned before that we’ve made friends through the blog, but we have also made some wonderful business contacts.  As our company continues to grow, we’ll be not only working with some of these businesses ourselves, but will also be referring our own clients to this network of professionals with whom we’ve developed personal relationships. 


Tamara and I have been upfront since day one about the fact that we are new at this whole freelancing thing.  On the other hand, the mere fact that we’ve kept this blog has given us some sort of reputation as knowing what the heck we’re talking about.  We take that very, very seriously; and it has been such motivation to constantly learn and grow.  We are fanatical about learning all we can, not just to make our business succeed, but also because we know that other freelancers are looking for good resources to do the same.  Writing this blog has seriously made us strive to be more knowledgeable people. 

At this point in the post, it should be no big secret that Tamara and I are pretty much in love with blogging.  We enjoy the research that goes into those how-to posts, and we appreciate the feedback that we receive when we share the more personal aspects of our lives.  We’re also aware of how blogging is helping our business grow.  During the rest of the week, we’re going to focus on a few more aspects of how you can use blogging as a part of your freelance business.

Popularity: 10% [?]

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Freelance Advice From the Blogosphere, Goal Setting Edition


Holy moly.  (Does anyone know how to spell “moly?”)  It must be December, because everyone is talking about goals!  I have to admit, I’ll probably sit down and write a goal post (ha, ha – “goal post”) here in the near future.  In the meantime, check out what these freelancers have to say about setting their own goals: 

  • I like Michele’s “My Top Ten Goals for 2008” because while none of them are easy, they are all do-able with enough hard work and persistence.

  • Allena gives her suggestions for how to go about setting your goals at Writers Unbound.

  • Anne at The Golden Pencil invites everyone to share their goals for 2008.

  • Ah, the never-ending how-do-I-set-my-freelance-rates question never really dies, does it?  Christine over at Self Made Chick has some suggestions in “How to Get What You’re Worth.”  (She mentions goal setting in this post, too!)

  • When Ritu from Freelance Folder answers the question “How Do You Put Your Ideas Into Action?” his very first suggestion is – you guessed it – to set goals.  (If there’s anyone who reads Freelance Parent that hasn’t subscribed to Freelance Folder yet, then get your booty over there and do so.  There is always something incredibly useful being posted over there!)

  • Oh, and don’t forget that Tamara and I shared some of our initial goals from our business plan.  I have to admit, though, that a few of these are probably going to be revamped.

There’s a good chance that if you’re setting your 2008 goals, you’ll be writing down something about how to get more business in the upcoming year.  Here are a few freelancers with ideas you can try: 

Popularity: 22% [?]

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Does Making Good Money Outweigh Quality?


Our company has a pretty set list of the kinds of assignments we absolutely refuse to take. I won’t go into exhaustive detail here; however, for the most part, these are assignments that we feel fall into a morally black area (for example, writing research papers for college students or some of the issues Lorna addressed in her Unethical Employers post). We understand that everybody needs to pay the bills, but producing quality content that makes us proud is a pretty important component of our company’s vision. 

At the same time, not every client and assignment we get is a dream job. Sometimes, we find ourselves writing SEO articles on topics that hold no personal interest for us. I was once asked to write descriptions on what I may safely call the ugliest products I have ever come across. As far as I’m concerned, these kinds of jobs are both fine. They simply address issues of personal taste and preference, which are easily surpassed in pursuit of the almighty dollar. They also still allow us to put forth our best efforts. Even if a 400-word SEO article may not be ground-breaking journalism, I can still present a well-researched, well-written final product. That, in and of itself, is a moment of pride. 

My problem is work that falls into a morally gray area—work that is wedged somewhere between great pay and just plain poor content. Let me give you a little background. The majority of my own work right now is copyediting—which is great, because I’m good at it and I enjoy it. However, my work for one particular client has recently raised some issues. On the one hand, the pay is pretty good, the client and I have a foundation of trust, and the work is steady. On the other hand, no amount of copyediting on my part will make the products good. Yes, I am putting forth my best effort; the content is fantastic as far as grammar, punctuation, syntax, and clarity go. Unfortunately, this fine layer of polish doesn’t do much to change the fact that the writing isn’t done well and the overall content is lacking in value. These are products I would not use myself and would not recommend to family or friends, should any of us find ourselves in need of them. 

So, where should a freelancer draw the line? Is it okay to work on a project that you don’t support 100 percent? Our company is not yet in a place where we can pick and choose our clients at will. At this point, we rely on every bit of income we can get, and the client is always happy with my work. Do any of those factors make a difference in the grand scheme of things?      

Popularity: 15% [?]

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