From the Shark Tank to the Pound

I am a fairly easy person to get along with. Most people call me nice, sweet, easy going, and helpful. While I at times can be a grumpy mutt, for the most part – it’s true. I like to help others. Hence, this blog. A blog not only to share my trek as a freelance writer, but also (hopefully) an occasional hint for those trying to do the same. So color me surprised to learn that many of the freelance writers I experienced were not the same. Especially when I first started out. The first site I joined was a real learning curve. To be honest, I was so green, I was amazed that the whole world of content writing was even there. But I jumped in and went to the forum to ask the typical newb questions. The sharks circled around me telling me not only that I was clueless, but I should quit. Really?

One site I applied for allowed my writing examples to be critiqued by higher level writers. My first piece was torn apart and rudely rejected. So, I was determined for my second piece to be loved. It was creative, fun, and I felt, well written. It included a quote from a famous book (that went on many years later to become a Disney movie). In the book, the quote is quite a bit different from the Disney version. I gave credit to the author – naming the BOOK. The writer who critiqued my piece very rudely told me I got the quote all wrong among other things. Sigh, I had no way to reply to it and so fumed about it and was not accepted to write at that site.

I almost gave up at that point. I got tired of swimming with sharks who were willing to rip each other to shreds over 2 cents a word. But, trudge, trudge, trudge, I kept going. I found a few sites that weren’t so bad – as long as you avoided the forums (shark tanks). When I stumbled upon a site where things were done a bit differently. BlogMutt. After you write your first piece, you are invited to join the forum. Hmmm, hesitant, I went and said hello. I was greeted warmly, welcomed to “the pound” and found the best group of writers I’ve ever met. They gave advice freely, supported everyone, and treated everyone with respect. The founders and staff are active there and put up with no crap from clients who are rude to the writers. It was fun to go there and write.

Now, what amazed me most is how other freelance writers and sites slam BlogMutt. The setup is a bit different. BlogMutt offers businesses a service that provides a minimum of 1 post a week for their blog. The client can select more, buy posts early, ask for special keywords, or let BlogMutt handle the auto-posting each week. On the writer’s side, we choose the client, the keyword, and write a post that is then placed in the client’s queue as last in line. As posts are bought, you move up. Or the client can move the posts around, bumping it up or down. They can also read a post, ask for an edit or even reject it. However, for the writer, if a post is rejected, they have a chance to re-submit it to another client, with editing changes, so see if they like it better. When a post sells, you get $8.00 for it. Every Monday, you get paid for your posts.

You write what you want, when you want, for who you want. The key to BlogMutt is flexibility, freedom, and a bit of cash. There are always plenty of clients to write for – I have never found a shortage or competition to snatch away articles. I’ve never had someone tear my posts apart, I’ve never been told I should quit. While many other writers from other sites claim that the pay is crap – I say – what is life worth? What do you find important? Do you want to spend your life ripping people apart for a few cents more? Do you want to stress out, stress over deadlines, fight for clients? Okay – go for it. I prefer to write in a supportive, friendly, fun atmosphere where I enjoy going to the site each day. But that’s me – life is too short to spend it miserable.

Now, the pay you make at BlogMutt isn’t the highest you can get paid. But then, haven’t people ever taken jobs at a lower pay scale because the benefits package is better? Let me tell you, at BlogMutt the benefits packages is the best I’ve found at any site. I took a swim out of the shark tank over to the pound, and I’ve never regretted it. For those who want to knock the site, the writers, the quality, or anything else, fine. Don’t write there. We probably wouldn’t want you there anyway. We only want friendly mutts at the pound, who all want to pull together and make the site the best it can be. I could go on about how the system is set up to include the writers as co-owners once you reach a level. I could rave about how they have perks along the way. I could even expand on the friendly mutts and fun we have. But honestly, it’s either the type of site you want to write at or not.

My only request is this – if it isn’t the site for you, please just move on. Go find your own clients, go work for another site, go make your money in your own way and however you choose. But leave the mutts alone. We aren’t evil, we aren’t hurting anyone, we are just doing something we love in an environment that we keep friendly and fun. There is no need to post articles and blogs about how bad it is. Because honestly, we love it here. There is no need to slam the quality of work we do. The clients must like it – they keep buying it. We are not uneducated, stupid, grammatically challenged, or clueless. I know I for one, choose quality of life over fighting for scraps. Respect in life is essential. I respect everyone’s choice to write or not write at the pound. Can you do the same?

What They Really Want

We like to think we know what the client really wants. They give us keywords, descriptions, examples, and some clients even attempt to write their own posts as examples. That’s always great fun because it makes you realize why they pay someone else to write for them. And then, we as writers, take all that and attempt to give them what they want. Sometimes they love what we do. Sometimes not so much. Some clients are frustrated writers who continuously try to ask for edits because it just isn’t right. Others are more trusting and leave it in the hands of professionals, believing we know what works best. But in spite of all of this – it isn’t the content that is the main factor. Not really. What they want is writing that will bring in customers, make their business look good, position them as experts in the field, and make them money. That’s what content marketing writing is about.

As the search engines and consumers get more savvy, businesses have to make more effort to get their business. When I read something I wrote for a client, often times trying to squeeze in some odd keyword or follow some convoluted instructions, I try to read it as a consumer. Reading your own work as a writer, you may look for flow, creativity, wit, or wisdom. You may try to be funny or professional. But at the end of it all, we are not writing fine literature. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not talking about quality. I am talking about intent. If we are to be successful as content writers, we do have to provide quality work. But it is the goal that is important more than anything. And the goal is sales.

I have written some pieces I thought were brilliant, only to have the client turn up their noses at it. I have had what I considered to be rather poor pieces of writing garner praise and sales. So I started looking at the pieces that sold and got high ratings. What did they have that the other pieces didn’t? I found absolutely nothing. I was clueless as to why they were rated higher than my other pieces. BUT – I did discover something out about it. I discovered a hint as to why. The client really doesn’t care about the writing. They care about what the writing can do for them. They care that the writing does what they really want it to do. Now, the hard part is figuring out what the client thinks will do that.

Some still believe in *gasp* keyword stuffing. Others believe in reaching out to a very small target audience in their field. Still more interesting is the clients who try to appeal to absolutely everyone – trying to somehow link their electronics business to bacon lovers around the world. Those are the keywords that you stare at for a long time trying to figure out how you can possibly make that work. But you can do it. Instead of thinking like a writer – think like a consumer. If you want to create content that clients will love – create content that consumers will love. You may find that you give clients more of what they are looking for than if you try to achieve excellent writing.