Interview with Expert Freelance Writer: Ali Hale

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Ali Luke(Ali Hale, is now Ali Luke as she got married in September 2010 ) is one of my favorite writers. I have been following her blog from a year now. And I enjoy all her writings, especially when she writes series articles. They are so catchy, sticky and yet so simple to follow. You can improve your writing kills just by following her writing.

Ali-Luke.

She is a blogger, writing coach, she provides jury service, staff blogger and an inspiring human being. Recently she teamed up with Daniel Scocco and started Freelance Writing Course at DailyWritingTips.

With out much ado, lets get started with the interview.

1. Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Hey! πŸ™‚ I’m Ali Luke, a writer and writing coach. I live in Oxford in the UK. I write for a number of big blogs, and I’ve also written for magazines. I also run my own blog, aliventures.com and sell my own ebooks and ecourses.

2. How did you get started with freelance writing.

I started out by writing guest posts for big blogs, and landed a couple of paid gigs from that. I had a full-time day job in technical support/testing at this point, so pretty soon, I was getting up before 6am to write before going to work. It was hard for a few months, especially once my paid work really started taking off — but then I was making enough to quit my day job.

I saved up for several months so that I had an “emergency fund” which really helped – not just because I had money in the bank in case I didn’t get much work, but also because I changed my spending habits. Most freelancers don’t earn all that much to begin with, so it definitely helps if you can live fairly frugally.

3. Do you promote your freelance articles? How important is it to promote it or is it not that important

I’ll often tweet about an article, but not always. I find that the blog’s editor tends to do any promotion, and they usually have a much bigger following than me! So it’s not too important, though there’s no reason not to.

Sometimes I’ll link to my freelance pieces from my own blog, if they’re on topic. Again, I don’t think there’s any real need to do this, but if it’s useful to readers, why not?

4. Writing articles for your blog v/s writing for other blogs as a freelance writer. What’s your view ?

Well, I love doing both, as you might have guessed! πŸ™‚ Writing as a freelancer is great, not just because you get paid, but because you can learn so much from working for an experienced blogger. Plus, you’ve got access to a big audience — great for feedback.

On the other hand, I love writing on my own blog, Aliventures, where I can put a bit more of “me” into my posts and write about anything I like. If a post doesn’t do too well, it’s no big deal — whereas in my freelance work, I want every post to be a hit!

5. How much profitable is freelance writing. As an industry, how is it growing and where do you see it in the future.

I believe it’s a growing industry. More and more people are devouring online content — and there’s a constant demand for new writing.

One problem is that there’s a lot of poor content out there, and editors who’re just paying as little as they can in order to get any content. This harms good freelancers, and creates a bad impression on readers.

It can take a bit of time to find good writing jobs. In my experience, the best jobs come from personal connections — getting to know editors on Twitter, sending them guest posts, and so on.

6. Being a freelance writer means it involves a lot of writing. How do you find time(along with your masters degree studies), topics, motivation to keep going. Basically, how do you deal with the deadlines ?

I’ve finished the masters’ now, so that helps! I had to be quite organised, with my masters’ degree deadlines and with client’s deadlines — I usually set aside particular days for particular tasks. For instance, I’d do my paid blogging on Mondays, and generally have Thursdays and Fridays for course work.

In terms of motivation, I think it helps not to get behind or overwhelmed! When you feel on top of things, it’s easy to keep going.

7. How to land big freelance writing projects which pays more.

Build up a strong relationship. Few people will hire you for a huge project without knowing a bit about you. So look for smaller jobs first — for instance, I started by guest posting for one particular blog, then worked there as a regular paid author, then stopped doing regular work but took on occasional higher-paid blog pieces for them, and finally launched an ecourse as a joint-venture with them. (That’s slightly different from straightforward freelancing, but not very different!)

8. What’s your advice to over come “writers block” ?

I personally never get writer’s block. I do sometimes get “writer’s laziness” though πŸ˜‰

It helps to take breaks. No-one can write for hours a day, seven days a week. Give yourself the weekend off, at least once in a while! When you’re really struggling to write, it’s often best to just stop for a bit.

On the other hand, if you just feel a bit reluctant to sit down and get started, the best thing you can do is sit down at the computer, open up that document, and get going. Often, you’ll find that initial resistance just vanishes. You might want to use a timer (e.g. ticktocktimer.com) and tell yourself that you just have to write for 15 minutes, or even 5 minutes.

9. Your top 3 secrets to be the best freelance writer and to be ahead of the competition.

1. Always deliver good work. If a job is badly paid, don’t take it — even if you think you can turn out some piece of scrappy content in ten minutes. It harms you to have bad work out there with your name on it.

2. Be professional. That means meeting deadlines, replying to emails, and approaching editors in a polite and respectful way.

3. Build up good relationships with other freelancers. They aren’t necessarily your competition — how about viewing them as colleagues? If you get offered a job that’s not quite right for you, perhaps you can pass it on to a fellow freelancer (and they may well return the favor in the future).

10. Some tips to write articles more effectively.

1. Set a timer when you’re writing. I know it sounds like a tiny thing, but it makes a real difference — it helps you stay on task.
2. Plan out your article before you write. Jot down your subheadings, for instance. This makes it much easier to get the piece written (and it’s more likely to be a good, well structured piece, too).
3. Keep a list of ideas so that you’ve always got a starting point. Sitting down with a completely blank document in front of you can make your brain go blank, too!

11. Things to include in the freelance portfolio or service page/landing page

Explain clearly what you do. Ideally, pick a particular specialisation — that might be a type of content (blog posts, sales pages, SEO pieces) or a subject area (parenting, sports, health, etc).

I think it’s a good idea to give an indication of your rates, though not all writers want to do this.

Make it very clear how to contact you! I know this sounds obvious, but it’s really easy to miss out. Just having a “Contact” page on your site isn’t enough — put your email address, or at least a contact form, on your services page too.

Include testimonials, if you have any. And put in some links to pieces that you’ve written (ideally freelance ones, but they could be good pieces on your own blog).

Anything more you would like to tell our readers..

If you’re looking to get started as a freelance blogger, check out my Staff Blogging Course, The Blogger’s Guide to Effective Writing. It’s currently only $29 but I’m rewriting it at the moment (and will be charging more for the new version). Anyone who buys the current version will get the updated one for free, so it’s worth buying it now!

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