Tag Archives: freelance writing

The Lead Leader Led the Leed: Humor and Writing

Yesterday I was talking with a colleague about the difference between my language, American English, and his language, Egyptian Arabic.

And the discussion came down to a simple fact of writing and language: humor is the highest sign of fluency in a culture.

The joke that is the title of this piece hinges on your understanding of the fact that English has many words from many languages and sometimes the spelling and pronunciation of the words don’t make much sense.

Humor and Writing

He followed up my witticism with one of his own: we have noses that run and feet that smell.

When you are going to communicate with people in writing, humor is a great way to make connections. But, you need to know who you are writing to in order to get that humor across.

Something one group of people will think is funny another group will not get at all.

In the modern global economy, you also have to realize that some humor is lost in translation.

But, everyone can enjoy the humor as long as you keep the following tips in mind:

  • Don’t hurt people with your humor
  • Don’t expect everyone to get it – After all, some come by slow freight.
  • Be an equal opportunity joker
  • Listen to your audience to improve your writing style

That’s it for now. And I’ll leave you with one of my favorite lost in translation jokes (Hint, the person who told me this was not a native English speaker, and I still don’t get it. But, my kids’ thought it was funny)

Why did the airplane crash?

Because the pilot was a loaf of bread.

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Why You Should Avoid Pay-Up-Front Job Listing Sites

You decide to start a business or work for yourself. Immediately thereafter, you realize that you have no idea how you are going to get enough clients to pay your bills every day.

Welcome to the world of working for yourself. It is scary, but millions of people wake up every day and face the same questions; and, face them, they do. You can approach the need for clients as well, and you will often have to pay to get your business in front of them.

I have paid up front for leads from multiple sites and venues. I have also elucidated leads from thin air around me via the hot-sweat inducing practice of cold-calling.

So, why do I tell people to avoid pay-up-front job listing sites?

Avoid Pay-Up-Front Job Listing Sites

First off, let me say what I mean by pay-up-front freelance sites: a pay-up-front site is one that requires you pay them a certain amount of fees before you ever see the leads they will be bringing in. A site that sends you a Black Friday sale saying that they have 8,000 jobs being posted in the next two weeks but you can’t see them unless you pay 6 easy payments of $97 is a pay-up-front site.

Although these sites are often legitimate, anyone who is starting out in this business should never do them.

Why am I so adamant?

Because a newbie is as a newbie does. I think Forrest Gump said something like that…

Free First, Then Pay

There are many great sites that deliver leads to freelancers. These sites have free options to try them out, see potential jobs, and apply. Some, like Bark will require that you pay before you submit the application. Thumbtack used to require that, but now you only pay when someone responds to your application or reaches out to you via your profile.

Other sites I recommend, like Upwork or Freelancer both have a certain number of applications you can do each month for free, but take a certain percentage out of your income when you do land a client. They also have paid subscriptions if you run out of your free applications.

Even though these are often more expensive in the long run, I still recommend that beginning online freelancers start with the free to enter sites.

Why?

Because you pay for practice, not for opportunities.

The first time you apply for work, you have no idea what you are looking for.

So you practice. You apply for this, you read that, and you seriously underbid for that.

You get hired doing work that earns you $2 an hour, and it’s not enough.

But, you didn’t pay hundreds of dollars for the lead that landed you this job. So, you don’t try to make the poor client work for you, you walk away.

This is practice. This is worth paying for.

If you have the resources to spend to look for specific leads for a business you understand and have been building, then go ahead, sign up for that job-site that requires you sign up for their business builder’s university first.

If you are just starting out on this freelance journey, don’t pay for sites that don’t let you see the leads first.

 

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Can You Make A Career Out Of Non-Profit Writing?

Stick around the freelance writing community for long and you will meet people who need help with writing materials to run their non-profit organization. I always like to think of it that in the for-profit world, you have to pay your taxes, while in the non-profit world, you have to file your paperwork.

Because of the amount of paperwork non-profits are required to file, the opportunities for a writer are endless. Non-profits use paperwork for licensing, IRS approval, grant-writing, policy making, etc.

So, if you are going to build a business or a career writing for non-profits, what are some things you have to understand?

You Have to Talk About Money

This is the most important thing to consider about a non-profit writing career. Non-profits are often so focused on their vision and mission that budgets and emergency funds take a very low priority in day-to-day operations. Because they won’t think about their finances as much, you have to think about yours and be clear in setting boundaries.

Because of how easy it is to volunteer time at a non-profit, you could easily find yourself earning less than minimum wage, or nothing at all, while working full time.

Look at your budget needs, and don’t do a writing project that violates your budgetary boundaries. If you need to earn $10 an hour to make ends meet, don’t take a writing gig for less. You can still provide high quality writing at cheap, cheap prices like $10/hr. Then it is a win-win for you and the non-profit.

Occasionally, when a non-profit is in an area I want to learn more about or has impacted me in some way that I want to give back more, I will volunteer writing services fully. Volunteering is a choice, but realize that it hurts your ability to sell your writing services later, because you have developed a habit of not getting paid.

Understand The Non-Profit’s Mission

You love hunting, raising and butchering your own meat, and training sled dogs. It is difficult for you to write for the SPCA or the Humane Society. Even if it’s just legal paperwork, passion shows.

Since non-profits rarely pay the same amount as for-profit businesses, your passion needs to match with theirs or you will be miserable. There are plenty of charities that match the passions of you as an individual. Find them, join them.

Love Learning as Much as You Want a Career

Writing for a career is about learning as much as you can, and teaching others what you learn. If you are going to write for non-profits, this is especially true. Constantly learn and apply what you learn to the world around you. Then, use what you have learned and practiced in your writing. Whether you write marketing copy, grant applications, newsletters, tax documents or policies, this attitude will pave the way toward your success as a non-profit writer.

What have you learned about working as a non-profit writer? Leave me a comment below.

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