Working It

Although my first love is, and always will be, flash fiction, the truth of the matter is it’s very difficult to make a living from writing flash fiction. However, it’s been a great training ground for an actual career in making a living for what I love to do most, which is writing in general.

The working life of a freelancer is full of ups and downs. I’ve had some success in writing web content and articles; the problem is finding a steady market. I did some work for a woman who owned several websites, but she insisted on keyword-stuffing the articles, and there were a couple of experiences with flash fiction that really helped me do this.

One was my daily blogging habit. As I’ve stated before, I’ve had a private blog since 2004 and I’ve blogged almost daily. This is great practice and even better discipline — think of it as exercising your writing muscle. Of course, as with any other endeavor, the more you do something (theoretically, anyway) the better you get at it.

The second experience that helped me was a writing exercise that was the brainchild of a very dear friend of mine called 3 Words. Initially, he would post three random words every day, and then the participants would write 50 words of a story incorporating those prompt words. We would write for thirty days and have a complete story to show for it.  After the first month, he decided (with the consensus of the group) to increase the word count to 100; the 50 word limit was a bit too confining. As a matter of fact, I had a hard time ending the stories on the last day — but I was allowed to carry over into the next month.

This was excellent experience. The first two stories I wrote were abysmal, but I seemed to catch the hang of it after that and I actually wrote a couple of stories that were readable. It was quite challenging to fit three words into your ongoing story, to gauge the pace in order to end on the last day, and to come up with an idea in the first place. It was a blast, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, never realizing how much good the experience would do me when it came to launching a freelance career.

Back to my first freelance job — Okay, this woman wanted her articles keyword-stuffed. (Remember, at this point I am but a neophyte, and had no idea about keywords or SEO practices. I’m not sure I get it even now, to be totally truthful.)  She wanted 45 – 55% of the content to be keywords.

Yikes.  I think if it wasn’t for my daily blogging habit and 3 Words, I never would have pulled it off. It was very difficult writing, but I ended up banging out 70 articles on the same subject for her. I then called it quits, because I was burned out and I just couldn’t do that anymore.

The second job was much better — this time for a company, and all they required was three or four keyword phrases sprinkled through the body of the article. After what I had just done, this was no problem at all. The problem was, there wasn’t enough work to sustain me, and eventually the company went through a re-structuring and soon I wasn’t getting any work at all.

I’ve had short-term jobs here and there, but nothing steady, which is the bane of the freelancer. Thus, I’ve been on a mission to find jobs that suit, with not much to show for it. However, I did find a place to post articles where shoppers for material for their websites could pick them up. No marketing, the money goes directly into PayPal, easy-peasy.

The site is called Constant Content and I’ve had good results, so far. I’ve posted rewritten content from articles already researched and written, and it’s a good way to recycle material I have laying around I probably won’t use again. Spin, baby, spin.

Check it out. While it might not provide a full income for you, or even make you rich, it is a good venue for material you already have just taking up hard-disk space. Cruise the site and take a look at what’s selling, what’s offered and think about the material you have at hand. Join up, post — and let your leftovers earn you some cash. You can thank me later.

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4 thoughts on “Working It

  1. i’m glad you enjoyed 3words (not that i didn’t know this already), and have often toyed with taking it up again as it was a useful tool to get me writing something when i was dithering, and would often lead to something more (as i was then “in my write head”).

    i’ve made note of the site, as it sounds interesting. thank you for the headsup. 🙂 here’s hoping you can find a way to earn enough from your words, as whatever i tend to read of yours –flash, short, factual– finds me interested. 😀

    rts last blog post..even shyamalan had to start somewhere

  2. Hi Susan!

    Oh, I know how the time thing can eat you up. It really does take a lot of time to format, get together, and submit. I think your Pam fiction is great, and I hope you do sub it out.

    If you haven’t already, I recommend Duotrope for markets and they have a nifty option that helps keep track of submissions. (I use that AND an Excel spreadsheet, otherwise it gets very, very confusing.)

    Good luck — and if I can do anything to help, just let me know.

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