Monday, January 30, 2012

Bad Egg Alert: Richard Rahlston or DBA Devenia

This client was found on oDesk. Though most clients found on oDesk are honest, this client is not.

He did not pay for his week's worth of assignments from myself and then decided to disappear on both email, oDesk and messenger. oDesk suspended his contract because of other complaints and he is under investigation. I believe he takes his work from another content site and then sends it out to collect money on it.

I will be contacting any site that is posting the articles I wrote to let them know they are not paid for and therefore are being used illegally.

Do not work for this client. See contact names and information below to avoid him. He is based out of the United Kingdom. He calls his company "Devenia" on; however is in no association with the company Devenia Ltd. or

Yahoo Email/Messenger:
oDesk ID: Richardrahl
Company Name (listed on oDesk): Devenia

Clients like this give freelancing a bad name. Now I (and my family) will go without that money I spent all week earning and now I will have to make up an entire week's pay somehow through other or new clients. In all my years of freelancing this is the first time a client has skipped out in such a way. Usually after hassling they finally pay, this one just disappears.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Expert Blog: Breaking into the Freelance Writing Industry

By Shailynn Krow

I wanted to spend some time today talking about breaking into the freelance writing industry. A lot of people jump into the freelance writing world and think they are going to make it big overnight. Sure, some people are that lucky, though honestly I have never met or read about these so-called get rich quick writers. Ever heard the phrase “starving writer”? That is more likely than a rich writer happening overnight – to think of it, I started off on the ramen noodle budget diet. You would be surprised what you can do with those noodles and for $0.80 a pop, it is what most writers live off of.

Even famous writers like Stephan King and Michael Crichton had to put in their long hours – and they still put in their long hours today. Too many newbie writers jump into freelance writing and think they are just going to get rich and never work and these are the people that never make it.

Get to Work and Keep Working!
After 10 years of freelance writing I still work long hours. Some days I will work 5am to 7pm, while other days I work three hours. Why? Because I’m a freelancer. Work is never scheduled, never the same and it is always sporadic. You take the work when you get it because tomorrow you might have none. If you waltz into freelance writing thinking you will work when you want and have a scheduled number of hours, you might as well fill up your resume and get a real job. Freelance writing means long hours and never the same schedule. Ask any freelancer and they can tell you that.

Setting Your Own Hours by the Job Not Your Life
You should set your own hours, but by that I mean set up some working hours, but have them flexible. Example? I set myself up from 8am to 3pm for one of my clients. However I have to be flexible depending on the client I get.  Two weeks ago I had a client from China. We certainly do not share the same work hours. To meet with him I had to get on Skype by 4am my time. Did that mean I woke up at 3:55am and dragged myself in robe and no makeup to my computer to chat with my client via video chat? If I had, I doubt I would have been working for them.

Instead, I woke up at 3:00am, hopped in the shower, ate and even drank a cup of coffee all before heading to the computer. I was awake, fresh and clean for my client and more importantly I was alert and professional.

Think of the Competition
I cannot tell you how many writers I have met who are lazy and just figure they will find work later. These are the people that you see at Costco working part-time because their freelance writing career has got them nowhere. I have never taken a side job in my 10 years of freelance writing. Why? Because I know the competition and I strive to beat them every time.

Who are your competitors? Aside from the hundreds of thousands of so-called “freelance writers” in the United States, you are also competing against writers in China, India and other countries – all of which have impeccable work ethic in comparison to U.S. writers.  U.S. writers, in all honesty, are lazy. Deadlines mean nothing to them, they work slow and they don’t know the meaning of hard work. Writers in other countries are willing to do twice as much, twice as fast and for half the pay of U.S. writers. More clients are opting for non-U.S. writers simply because they know they will get their work on time, in bulk and for half the price. Can you blame them?

Start thinking in terms of competition. There are perhaps a few thousand jobs per month available and usually several hundred writers that apply for the same exact position. If you have history of missing deadlines, poor work quality or inability to comprehend simple instructions, you will not make the cut. Your portfolio, client referrals and feedback have to be extraordinary. You have to stand out in a crowd of perhaps 50 to over 100 other applicants. That’s not easy to do – no matter how great of a writer you are.

You Want to be a Writer – So What?
Telling someone you want to be a writer, whether it is a publisher, editor at a newspaper or some random employer looking for some articles, means nothing. I once told an editor I wanted to be a writer. His response?

“So why are you standing here telling me that? Go write something”.

He had a point.

Saying you want to be a writer means nothing to anyone who wants to hire you. You have to write, prove you can write and more so prove you want to be a writer. Standing around saying it doesn’t mean anything. Those that really want to be writers get up, write, get the job done and do what it takes to become a writer. Weird how that works out right?

What is Writing Really Like?
I get a lot of questions from people asking what it is like to be a writer. I tell them it’s a lot of work. You have to read, research and be up-to-date on just about everything. You have to be crafty and witty and take a boring topic and make it interesting  -- not something everyone can do, even real writers. If I can give one bit of advice to those who want to break into freelance writing, here it is:

·         Never be late with your work. It shows you are lazy and undedicated to being a writer.
·         Never be selfish with your work hours. If you want to survive and make a living, you better learn to fashion your hours around that of people hiring you.
·         You want to write? Then quit reading this, quit telling people what you want and sit down and do it.

Freelance writing is a harsh, highly competitive and grueling industry. You will be given horrible feedback, yelled at, and scrounging for work some days. If you love to write and really want to be a writer, however, you will make the most of what you have and you will find just how easy it is to actually break into the industry.

How to Work from Home as a Freelance Writer Successfully

The issue with the term “work from home” is that most people hear this and take it too literally. They become lazy, irresponsible and just assume that they are going to make it big or become wealthy overnight – all of which are wrong. So how come so many people work from home as a freelance writer and make a successful living, but you can’t? Consider some of the following:

The Work from Home “Dream”
Those that want to work from home as a freelance writer often do so not because they love to write, but because they want to make money and work for themselves – this is issue number one. The other “dream” misconceptions of working from home as a freelance writer:

·         I can make my own hours
·         I can be my own boss
·         I can choose when I work and how much I work
·         I can write on whatever I want to write
·         I can become rich working 20 hours per week
·         I can be a writer; I did good in school

Let’s talk about these “dream” misconceptions and how most likely they are destroying your chances of ever being a successful freelance writer.

I Can Make My Own Hours: Yes and No
Sure, you can make your own hours, but do those hours work around the people you are writing for? As a freelance writer, you still work for someone in terms of writing. What if that client is available 6am to 4pm, but you only work 5pm to 11pm? How will you contact your client with issues or questions? If you answer “I’ll wait until the next day”, then right there is your freelance writing failure. Though you can make your own hours, you still have to plan those hours around your clients.

Bottom line: If you are selfish with your hours, you might be surprised how many clients you lose or don’t get altogether.

I Can Be My Own Boss: No
A freelance writer still works for someone and answers to someone. Whether it is an editor at a newspaper, CEO of a copywriting company or the owner of a company you are writing a press release for, you answer to some sort of client and that client is, technically, your boss. If they are unsatisfied, they fire you. Therefore, if you think you will work from home as a freelance writer successfully by saying you work for no one, then you have just axed your chances of writing successfully.

Bottom line: Even great authors like Stephan King and John Grisham report to an editor at their publisher’s office and they still have to report on time and do the job. Everyone answers to someone.

I Can Choose When I Work and How Much: No
You can pick and choose what clients you take on, but that’s as far as your power goes. Clients will give you assignments, which might take you longer than your scheduled hours. If you don’t do it, you won’t get more work from that client. It’s quite simple. Those looking to work from home as a freelance writer need to be flexible with their working hours, flexible with how much work they take and always strive to do the best. Why? Because one week you may have work and the next none.

Bottom line: Take what you get when you get it, get it done and do it no matter how long it takes.

I Can Write on Whatever I Want to Write: No
If you have been freelancing for years and built up a large enough clientele or work for a newspaper, then yes, you can. However, most who start to work from home as a freelance writer do not have that luxury. Therefore, being an avid researcher is important so that you can write on any topic presented to you. You cannot just pick and choose. If you do, you will be surprised at how little you make.

Bottom line: Learn to research and learn to write on what you are told to write. Pretend you are starving and work is your food. Take the food you get so you don’t starve to death tomorrow.

I Can Become Rich Working 20 Hours Per Week: No
The whole “get rich, work less” jargon was created by the schemers of the work-from-home industry. They lure people in saying work 15 to 20 hours per week and make $5,000 per month from home. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. This is no different with working from home as a freelance writer. Freelance writers have to work long hours, long weeks and sometimes for little pay. Even famous writers work more than 20 hours per week. Do you think Stephan King wrote all of his novels working when he felt like it or just 10 hours per week? No. Stephan King writes a minimum of 2,000 words per day for eight hours per day the entire week. Sure he’s rich, but he didn’t get there nor keep himself there only working a few hours a week.

Bottom line: If you think you will make it big working a small number of hours per week, you will be surprised at how little you make. Get to work and get working hard.

I Can Be a Writer; I Did Good in School: No
Those who want to work from home as a freelance writer often fail because they say they are a good writer. Writing a term paper in school is nothing like writing a 400 word article on the effects of a prescription drug and hair loss or installing a vinyl fence. Those who look at freelance writing as “homework” ultimately fail. Those who are passionate about writing, who write naturally and without effort are the ones that are successful. You have to be naturally witty, entertaining and more so conversational. A client that asks for an article on vinyl fences doesn’t want a book report. They want something interesting for their readers to learn from.

Bottom line: Not everyone is cut out to work from home as a freelance writer. Just because you were good in school doesn’t mean you are good at professional writing.