Saturday, 26 October 2013

Freelance Writer: How to Start Making Money Online

How to start and what to do! A practical step-by-step guide for beginners based on my personal experience.

People, who love to write, are generally those who love to read. To be a good online writer, you have to be a good researcher. This potent combination of a good researcher, who loves to read, can make or break your writing career. Why am I saying this? This was the first hurdle I identified, when I took stock of my writer status. I wasted too much time researching, reading and getting sidetracked. I enjoyed what I did, lost track of time, tired myself out or used up my time slot for writing.

The first thing I did, when I decided to try my hand at online freelance writing, was to Google about freelance writing. Oh My God! It was like being buried under an avalanche of information.  Online freelance writers seem most busy writing about ‘article writing’ than anything else. Every article is loaded with extra links of temptation: tips, tricks, secrets, success and buckets of money. The result is often, too many open tabs of overwhelming data, which ends up in creating a brain fog.

At the end of the day or even the week, the wannabe writer is thoroughly confused about where to actually start. Well, if you are serious about wanting to be a successful online writer, then it’s time to stop the planning and the preparation. Start the action with just the basics in place. This is what worked for me.

1.       Understand that it takes time to start earning online. Even when you land a few writing gigs, expect lean periods, where you will have to fall back on your savings. You will need a part time job or the support of working spouse to pay your bills in the meantime.

2.       The basics: Have a working computer, with an internet connection and word processing software like MS word.

3.       Set up a PayPal account. It’s free and easy. A lot of your clients maybe paying through PayPal.

4.       Decide on your field of expertise. Do not diversify too much. You can probably research and write on any topic, but it is better to focus on a subject you are familiar with. I write about Food and Nutrition, Health and Fitness, Pregnancy and Parenting; they are related topics. To write about legal issues, finance or construction business, I will have to go out of my comfort zone, research much more, study and understand this new material, before I can write a quality article on that topic.

5.       Create a blog. It’s free and easy. Don’t think or plan too much. You can make plenty of changes and improvements in the blog, as you understand the playing field. Don’t try to be a perfectionist from the beginning.

6.       Now, it’s time to start writing. What I liked about using my blog to launch my writing career was that it took a lot of pressure off me.  I didn't have to worry about, whether it will get published or wait for someone’s approval. Once you start writing an article in your blog, you have actually become an online writer! Congratulations! Research and write on at least ten popular topics related to your blog subject.

7.       Prepare your resume. Create a professional freelance writer profile on LinkedIn.

8.       Decide on a pay rate. Asses your own worth based on your skill and quality. Your location and currency exchange rates make a real difference.  Since I am Indian writer, the dollar conversion rates made $15 for 500 words, a good starting point. Once I got enough projects to keep me afloat, I stopped accepting projects below $25. Now, my base rate is $50 for 500 words or rather $10 for 100 words.

9.       Search writer job sites for work opportunities related to your chosen topics. Prepare your job pitch correctly to market your skills. Apply to as many as you can and do it within a day or two of the job posting. By the law of averages, you will sooner or later land a job.

10.   Now that you have your first job, do your best to research, write well, proofread and edit it. Once they are published, see if they can be added to your portfolio. Continue applying for new projects on a regular basis to keep the work flow consistent.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Guard your Identity and your Trash Can

Did you know that your trash often leaves clues as to what treasures exist in your home? In fact, your trash can is a treasure trove of information about your identity. Our trash cans very often contain our personal information on various documents that we discard casually. Outdated documents and unwanted junk mail are often carelessly tossed into the trash. The personal information available in these items is exactly what an identity criminal is after when he searches your trash.

Identity theft occurs when your personal information is stolen without your knowledge and is then used to commit fraud and other crimes. Any item that contains just your name is a starting point for even an unsophisticated thief to steal your identity. An identity criminal can create a blueprint of your life from documents in your trash. Return addresses on envelopes may reveal where you bank, who maintains your mortgage, where your investments are held and much more.

An Identity thief can strike gold in your trash can. The variety of documents that can be found in garbage cans include expired credit cards or debit cards, credit card receipts, unused credit card checks, credit card statements, Pre-approved credit card offers, bank account statements, canceled checks, pension account statements, phone and utility bills, tax returns and statements, insurance claim or insurance policy information, expired identification documents like driver’s licenses and passports. These kind of documents that supply personal information can cause you harm if they fall into the wrong hands. ? All these items tell a thief about your current financial standing.  Trash items like gift and packing boxes can reveal what items you have in the house that is valuable.

When a thief has collected several months of billing data, he can contact you pretending to be a company representative. He may use the billing information to prove his credibility and gain more personal data from you. Contact your service provider directly if someone claiming to be a company representative requests information. Do not provide any information to anyone over the phone until you verify that the person you spoke with was legitimate.

The key to preventing identity theft is to stay one step ahead of the thief. It is important to protect your belongings, even if you don't think thieves will target them. Don’t toss out your identity to a waiting thief. Secure trash bins at all times, until they are placed for pickup and collected. Shred financial documents, any unused credit card offers that come in the mail and paperwork with personal information before you discard them.  Invest in a good quality shredder that cross-cuts the paper into smaller bits. Cheaper shredders only shred documents in one direction. , An industrious thief can put them back together like a jigsaw puzzle. Deter identity thieves by safeguarding your information.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Alysha means Noble and Kind

Our sweet daughter Alysha was born on 1st of December at 9.23 AM. Her weight was around 3 Kg. Rohaan was 3.5 while Tania was 3.8 Kg. They were huge babies compared to Alysha. She seemed really tiny. But, perfect!

Rohaan was really excited about the baby. He loves to have her on his lap. He turned four in October. He loves fiddling around with all the baby stuff, he wants to lie down in the baby's cot with all the rollers and pillows, etc. He curls up like the baby and imitates her crying sounds. Its really cute to see.

Tania ignored the baby for the first one week. Tania is two and a half yeas old. She would copy Rohaan and say,"Don't cry baby" when Alysha cried. She totally refused to touch the baby. It was more like, she wasn't sure what to make of this little new entry in her life. After a week or so, she just simply 'fell in love with Alysha'. Now I have to be really careful since Tania is always hanging around the baby. The moment I leave a peacefully sleeping baby, all safe and secure for about two minutes for any reason, I will come back to find Tania curled up next to her or attempting experiments like trying to hold her hand...and more...

Thankfully, neither of them seem to resent the new baby. I think they are happy to have each other to play with. Mobin is a really good father who ensures all their needs are met. So far, he has been on leave since my delivery. My mother and mother in law were there to help out with the house and cooking. My father in law used to take out the kids to the park in the evening. My brother in law Robin was here for the first three weeks. He had sprained his ankle badly and is on leave from the Indian Army. he is a Major, posted in Kashmir. So, we had quite a merry company at home till around December 20th.

Having so many people at home after the delivery has its pros and cons. Its like a joint family system. Everything was taken care of, I just had to focus on the baby. I got plenty of rest. But, the house was like a zoo. Not much of privacy or quiet. But then, it was fun. When all the guest left, as thankful as I was for all the help I got, I am enjoying the peaceful atmosphere  I am grateful that their presence and help, has helped me rest and regain my health after the delivery.