working for guru.conmWorking on Guru.com as a Freelance Writer

by Bev Boorer

Working on guru.com as a freelance writer is fun and full of variety.

It gives me the opportunity to connect to people all over the world, which is what I love since I live on a rather isolated farm. It is still quite amazing to me that I can correspond with people in Singapore, London or New York with the click of my mouse and often get a reply almost straight away, in spite of the time differences.

I am lucky in that I can mostly choose to bid on the topics that really appeal to me, rather than having to apply for every job I think I can do. So if any projects on pets, alternative health options or gardening come up, I dive in quickly with a premium bid. That's not to say I don't write on some rather boring topics too. I find finance the least interesting, but I have a regular client who sends me finance keywords to write articles on every month. At least they are only short articles of 200 words, so I do it because I like to know I have regular work.

When I have similar topics for different clients, I like to leave a few days between doing each so that my mind is not filled with the same thoughts. And I never research from the same sources for different clients. You do need to be careful that a sentence of phrase doesn't slip in from one to the other. Very often it is possible to vary the articles by approaching each from a different angle. For instance, for articles on self-managed superannuation, I could have different topics such as; exploring new laws that have been passed concerning them, how to set one up, the benefits vs the bad points, and how to wind one up. I could also do short articles on who can be in the same self managed fund and what assets are allowed.

The longest thing I've ever written was a 70-page ebook on growing potatoes. I found it was easy because my client had a very comprehensive table of contents to write to. Mostly I do articles of 400-500 words, though occasionally I am offered a feature of around 1,000 words. I did one on opals for an International magazine recently that was sourced through guru.com.

I don't really organise my search results now. I used to file it all away on my computer, but then I found that took much time and I could simply go back to find it online. This is helped by the fact that the headlines of each website remain pink even after you've clicked away from them. So you can go back the next day and easily see which ones were used. However, I always create a new folder for each new topic or project and if there is something that I especially want to keep I save it to that folder. For instance, I did an article about the Singing Dogs of New Guinea that needed to have information from various people sent to me via email. I've kept much that just in case I needed it.

For regular clients I simply add a new folder for each month and save it inside the main folder. Then I don't get mixed up with which articles are which. It also helps to save an invoice template to the folder to keep records of payments. Now I've learned to do this, I find I don't get mixed up and have to wonder which batch of articles I just sent off. Being paid through Paypal often helps too, because they have lovely invoices that you can do with a few clicks and you can see at a glance whether you've been paid or not. Once trust has been established and your client becomes long-term, you can move off Guru.com to save on their fees. You can also ask your client to pay you via direct deposit to your bank account and save the fees that Paypal charges.

Occasionally a client will want photos to be supplied by me. I have an account at istockphoto and can find most of what I want in there, though sometimes I can supply my own, now I have a digital camera. I did a 7-page report on the benefits of sports massage for injuries for a UK client once and used both photos purchased from the website and one of my own. I had snapped my half-grown kitten perched on a limb with one back leg extended. It looked just like it was doing exercises and fitted perfectly with what I had written, so I offered it to my client free of charge.

For the potato book, the client registered - and paid - with some online photo websites and allowed me to choose the photos I wanted to fit with the text. This was really embarrassing because there was a photo there that I thought showed a potato starting to shoot, but after I downloaded and enlarged it, I could see it was a turnip! The client was most amused when I 'fessed up, and I offered him another one for free, so that was all right.

For those who want to join guru.com, my tips would be to read all the info first and don't get in a panic if you don't understand it all. By taking it one small step at a time you will finally begin to understand the workings of the website and soon you'll be a pro and find it easy. They do have lots of tips and FAQs to help freelancers with all the ins and outs; so reading it - even over a couple of weeks - is really worthwhile.

Once you start bidding on projects, make sure you get all the information so you can tailor your bid properly. I'm talking about getting paid what the project is worth. I once offered a reasonable bid for a set of 15 articles that were simply described as being SEO friendly, only to find the client wanted 12 keywords/phrases in each 500-word article, plus a selection of several longer keyword phrases to the tune of 5% - 7%. It took soo much longer than expected, but it taught me a lesson. If there are not many details posted for the project be wary and ask for more. Or state clearly in your proposal that your price would need to be modified for more work.

There are many more kinds of tasks offered on guru.com in addition to writing articles, of course. Some such as grant writing, sales letters, graphic design and technical reports, pay a great deal better than the humble article. But you do need to have special skills and training to do these. I'm happy writing articles and ebooks.

© Bev Boorer

 

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