Maximize Fiverr! My new book on making easy money with Fiverr.

Maximize Fiverr! My new book on making easy money with Fiverr.

My new book on making easy money with Fiverr!

The method is really effective if you’re a writer, but I talk about ways to make money without skill-based services.

I make around $500 every month with only a few hours a week of actual writing. (Plus I get a variety of jobs, so it stays interesting.) If you’ve been looking for a way to monetize your writing, even at a hobby level, I definitely recommend reading this!

Once you’ve read the book, come back here with any questions and I’ll be glad to offer some “end-user support!”


Why would a content writer hire a content writer?

I’ve run into this situation more than once. An author hires me to write for him or a marketing business hires me to do some of their marketing. At first, it seemed odd to me. Why would a marketing agency outsource its marketing…and more importantly, why would a writer pay someone to write?

For some of you the answer might be apparent. I had to think about it for a while. You see, I’m one of those people that’s obsessed with doing-it-myself. I fix my own car, I tile my own bathroom, I make my own banner ads. If I had a sewing machine, I’d probably make my own clothes. My condition is a mixture of knowing that I can do anything (with the right tools and book or two), a passion for learning new skills and wanting things done exactly how I want them. Hell, this is probably why im single most of the time. It’s so much more effecient to date myself.

However…I’m not normal. One of the lessons I’ve had to learn over the years is that most people pass the work along whenever they can. In fact, I’ve heard that one of the advantages to having money is that you can pay people to do damn near anything for you, leaving your time free to do whatever people with money do (I assume shop for monocles and hunt human beings for sport, but I’ll have to get back to you on that.)

The advantages to outsourcing work:

  • You save time. If you’re already moving on to your next project, you don’t want to waste time writing ad copy for the thing you just finished.
  • You don’t have to worry about it. You’re stressed enough after finishing that novel and you just want to relax before your next manuscript is due.
  • You don’t have to learn a new set of skills. Some people don’t want to research media kits for a week just because they need to make one. If you can afford it, it’s easier to pay someone that does it for a living to make it for you.
  • It lends a different voice to the work. Sometimes it pays when your web content looks unique from your blog or fiction writing.
  • It can be hard to write something that touches close to home. One of the hardest things about writing my media kit and promotion materials was writing about myself as if I weren’t myself.

With this new information and a growing business, I’ve started outsourcing as well. I’ve hired people to do some of my graphic design work…and it was for a reason not listed above. I genuinely liked their work and didn’t want to try to duplicate it myself.

What this boils down to is:

  1. While it’s likely not going to be your target market, don’t pass up on advertising your services to industry contemporaries.
  2. Don’t be ashamed to outsource some of your work. At some point, it will become more profitable anyway, so you might as well get used to it.

For instance, I charge about $50 to write and publish press releases. You can certainly write your own and publish them yourself, but you would have to invest the hours needed to write it, create accounts with the various PR services, and you might even have to research how to write one before you even get started. If you take more four hours to do all of this, you probably would have been better off hiring a service to do it for you. Time is an investment, same as money, and they are not mutually exclusive concepts.

Think about it next time you need a marketing or graphic design task taken care of. As a writer, is your time better spent learning how to complete the task and doing it yourself…or is it better spent writing?

The first few pages…

I’ve had to slack on this blog, as I’ve been overwhelmed with commercial orders and various life issues. I’ve tried to pencil in time to keep reading before bed, though, and in starting the book “How to Read Novels Like a Professor” by Thomas C. Foster, I’ve found something worth sharing.

The first chapter (on first pages) states:
We need first pages -and so do novelists. Right from the top, a novel starts working its magic on readers. Perhaps more remarkably, readers also begin working their magic on the novel. The beginning of the novel is, variously, a social contract negotiation, an invitation to dance, a list of rules of the game, and a fairly complex seduction.

The reason why the first few pages of a novel is a seduction, Foster explains, is because the writer is asking the reader for a large time commitment without giving much of a guarantee of what’s in it for them. He goes on to say that the very first line is immensely important because it must pique the interest of the reader and deliver some promise that there is a worthwhile story to follow.

What else does the first page contain, besides the hook? Foster points out 18(!) things:

  1. Style: How the story is written in a technical sense. Short sentences, modifiers, etc.
  2. Tone: Is it ironic? Matter-of-fact?
  3. Mood: How does the voice “feel” about the story it’s telling? Guilty? Angry?
  4. Diction: What kind of words are used? Complicated? Simple? Challenging or rare?
  5. Point of View: This is obvious, but it has a huge effect. (See: how I refuse to read anything in first-person present tense.)
  6. Narrative Presence: Who is telling the story and how do they fit in?
  7. Narrative Attitude: How does the person telling the story feel about the characters and events?
  8. Time Frame: When is it happening?
  9. Time Management: How fast or slow will time progress in this story?
  10. Place: Setting (locale) plus the environmental impact of that locale on the story/characters.
  11. Motif: Things that happen again and again. Language patterns, repeated actions or consequences.
  12. Theme: “The idea content of the novel,” per Foster.
  13. Irony: Or lack thereof. Can show up in narration, dialogue, etc.
  14. Rhythm: You should know what this means!
  15. Pace: Is this going to be a sprint or a marathon? The depth of detail and words used can convey alacrity or leisure in pace.
  16. Expectations: The writer expresses what kind of reader he expects the story to reach.
  17. Character: Not always the first page, but the protagonist usually shows up pretty quickly.
  18. Instructions on how to read the novel: All of the other elements combine to quietly inform the reader how the book should be read. The reader may or may not comply.

Of course, Foster goes into much more detail about these elements and more, but you get the idea. Don’t skimp on your first pages, because they contain “the DNA” of your entire book. It looks like this book about reading is also a valuable insight for writers. I recommend giving it a read, and I’ll keep you posted on anything else useful that I dig out!

Amazon: How to Read Novels Like a Professor

Good story, or just a good idea?

I consider myself very lucky when it comes to inspiration. On any given week, I’ll be struck with 10-15 ideas for fiction begging to be written. I’m happy to say that my notebook is now filled with enough stories that it would take me two or three years to write them all. Now, before you think I’m boasting, I’ll tell you that the process wasn’t always this easy for me.
I’ve been writing since I was old enough to hold a pen. However, I wasn’t able to concieve a single worthwhile story to tell until I was about 28 years old. At that point, I wrote my first novel (which is still sitting in first draft in dire need of a rewrite) and then went stagnant for another two years. Luckily, when I turned thirty, my inner storyteller blossomed and started feeding me an endless stream of stories.

Not all of my ideas are good, of course. More importantly, not all of my ideas are stories. Sometimes an idea is just an interesting character or a factor of the environment. When these elements hit you, the key is to write them down and save them for future use…or if you want to put them to use, brainstorm around them.
Say you have a character idea that pops into your brain and you think “holy crap, this guy needs a story.” The next thought in your head should always be CONFLICT.
Conflict is everything. Conflict is story. So you have a great character…now who hates him? Who wants to stop him? What is he afraid of and how can you make him face that fear? If you can answer those questions in a way that’s as interesting as the character himself, then you have the start of a story.

Remember, if you’re having a hard time getting inspiration for your own stories, I highly recommend reading outside of your comfort zone. As I’ve said before, I force myself to read Grimm’s Fairy Tales on a regular basis because I can’t get through five pages without coming up with one or two good story ideas.

NaNoWriMo: Procrastination dies now. (Unless you put it off.)

I was talking to my friend and fellow writer Gary Pinnell ( when the subject of NaNoWriMo came up. He threw out the idea of forming (another) writing group, specifically dedicated to attacking November with an unwavering fervor toward actually finishing a novel-length manuscript by the start of December.
First off, let me say that Gary and I seem to be polar opposites when it comes to publishing. Whereas I’m all about independent artists, self-promotion and self-publication, Gary still resides in the camp of “if you can’t get your manuscript picked up by a legit publisher, then it’s not good enough to print.” This disparity aside, Gary has been very influentual to my writing career. His words of wit and wisdom (or sarcasm or laughing at me) might be interpreted by a lesser person as inert banter…but many of the maxims that guide my approach to writing have passed through his beard on their way to my brain.
So, we’ve established that Gary is a sort of Obi Wan figure in my sphere of influence (although if I ever see him sitting in Panera wearing a robe, I’m leaving.) Back to the recent conversation, we go.

He made a fairly relevent point concerning NaNoWriMo. If someone is legitimately planning to write a novel (say, 50,000+ words) during that month, then they damn well shouldn’t start working on November first. The simple fact is that you’re going to have to crank out almost 2000 words a day, and you won’t have time to stumble over plot holes, come up with characters, research and brainstorm.

If you want to write a novel in November, you should seriously consider starting now. Not the actual writing, mind you, but the groundwork. Hone your concept, write your ‘story bible,’ brainstorm plot twists, and for the love of blog, WRITE YOUR OUTLINE.
In this case, you don’t have a choice. If you don’t have an outline to work from, you will not be able to write a good novel at the pace of 2000 words a day. (Caveat: if you honestly, truthfully can do it without an outline, then stop reading my blog and go make millions of dollars. Donations are appreciated.)

Be prepared. When you go into November, all jacked up and ready to write your best-seller, you’re going to be very glad that you planned ahead. Nothing kills the flow of writing prose like having to stop to research how long the deck of your character’s yacht is or how they made windows in the 17th century.

Because I love indie artists and I want everyone with a story to tell to write a book, I’m going to try to help motivate and stimulate this year. I offer “workshopping” services on, where I will look over a writer’s outline, plot summary, story bible or what-have-you and give feedback and suggestions. However, for the month of March, I will help any of my readers who want to get a jumpstart on NaNoWriMo pro bono. Simply email me your idea, concept, problems, questions, outline..whatever you need help with to get started. If you’re worried about me pulling a “Gentlemen Broncos,” send me a secure .pdf with a timestamp and copyright information on it. (If you haven’t seen “Gentlemen Broncos,” go watch it real quick before November. If you’re a writer, you have to laugh at this movie.)

I’ll check my mail collector at least once a week in March and offer my support and services to any writer who contacts me. Sadly, I am really busy with my freelance writing business taking off, but I will do everything I can to help you get started.

Email me with “NaNoWriMo” in the subject line:
OR…you can use the contact form on my website While you’re there, you can ‘like’ it on facebook and help a brother out!

Now, spend a couple bucks and get this movie so when I reference it, you get the jokes: Gentlemen Broncos


Promotion…what it means to ‘go viral.’

The concept of ‘viral media’ is hot for researchers right now. Everyone wants to know why Joe Blow’s youtube video of his cat becomes a must-see overnight, and the ten billion other cat videos don’t. It’s almost mind-blowing, when you stop to think about it.

Well, marketers don’t really give a damn about Joe Blow’s cat…what they care about is the behemoth of potential marketing power that is ‘viral media.’ They want to be able to break it down into a formula and make it repeatable. We all do. Who wouldn’t want to put some nonsense on the internet at have it spread to 2 million consumers who are eager to buy the newest meme-based T-shirt?

The problem is that there is no formula…not yet. I did, however, come across a really informative book that discusses the idea of things going viral. To date, this is the best material I’ve read on the subject and it’s backed with research and case-study data.


Contagious: Why Things Catch On

There’s a ton of useful information in this book, but I’ll go ahead and key you in on one of the major things you’ll learn; Going viral is all about feelings. Big surprise, right? If you’ve been following me, you know that my mantra is: “Writing is about feelings. It’s about making the reader feel what you want them to feel.” Well, to expand upon that, almost everything you do that has anything to do with human beings is about feelings. Marketing is no exception…not by a long shot. Marketing and promoting is all about making people feel what you want them to feel.

Sometimes, though, the trick is knowing what you want them feel. In the case of viral marketing (according to this book) you will want the reader/viewer to feel like they’ve found some privileged information. You see, in this mile-a-minute world of information exchange, it’s hard to be the cool guy who ‘discovered’ the new funny video, the hilarious website, etc. So part of getting people to spread your media at viral speeds is to make everyone want to be the first to say “HEY! Look what I found!”

It’s social-need validation thing, and it really has more to do with things going viral than you might believe. Marketers and self-promoters need to know this stuff. I highly recommend that you read this book “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” by Jonah Berger.

New service on fiverr.

Just a quick update (since I’m taking a break from writing the article on constipation that I’ve been hired to do.)

Find my gigs on!

In my last post I told you that I’ve been offering a number of services on fiverr, from making awesome book covers to writing web content. I’m now offering a service that other writers might want to take advantage of: workshopping.

Think of it as a one-on-one writer’s group meeting. Check it out here:

Writing for profit.

(This is straight talk from my WIP book “Codename: Pitchcraft.”)

At the end of the day, money is always a factor. You can’t write if you can’t eat, and while being a “starving artist” is probably one of the more socially acceptable paths to poverty, it’s not fun having to live hand to mouth. Trust me, I’m well exercised in doing so.

I’ve always been an advocate for pursuing ones artistic inclinations. Do what you love. However, I’ve also been chided by the artistic types for always trying to figure out how to make a profit from doing it. I’ve been accused of trying to get people to “sell out” more times than I can count. My argument against this is simple: people don’t mind paying for good work. If you paint something, you’re not selling out by putting a price tag on it. If you’re a musician, you’re not selling out by trying to market your music. What you’re doing is pursuing the path that takes you from being a hobbyist to a professional: a payday. There is nothing immoral or wrong about seeing the value in your talent and skill.

What’s the other argument I hear the most? “I don’t write/paint/play/draw the kind of stuff people buy and I don’t want to change my style just to make money.”

First off: Bullshit. People will buy anything if it’s good. There are fans for your work, whatever it is…whatever the style. Just take a look at Etsy and see the kind of stuff that people sell. Some of it makes me go “what the hell…people pay $200 for THIS?” But my opinion doesn’t matter. Neither does yours. Not when the guy selling it was able to quit his job to do what he loves for a living.

Secondly: Get over yourself. I can be harsh about this, I know, but I’m an artistic-type myself and I know better than anyone that the thing that we often need is for reality to kick us in the ass. If you can quit your day job by writing what other people want instead of what you want, isn’t that worth it? If you say “no,” then can you really consider yourself a writer? Or are you a waiter/clerk/accountant who writes?

Any work that you do in your field will push your art into greater levels of success. I want to be a professional author, but for now I’m a professional writer. I write ad copy, business letters, marketing strategies, articles, press releases, web content and blog posts every day for money. It’s not what I want to do with my life, but when you boil it down, it is writing. I am continuously honing my craft and my art through “selling out”…and all of the money I’m making goes right into my brokerage account where it can earn a percentage. Some day, I’ll have earned enough from “selling out” that I can stop working for other people and sit on my butt all day writing novels. That’s my artistic vision. It ain’t pretty, but it’s a plan.

There is nothing wrong with having a rich portfolio of professional work. I highly recommend that any artist pursue a bit of income from their talents. Here’s a quick breakdown of how to get started:

Decide if you want to sell your artwork or be a freelancer. Or both. Do you want to make things and then see how much you can get for them, or do you want to do commissioned work?

Find a venue. There are scores of web sites out there which can serve as your storefront or your agency. If you’re selling your artwork (things that you’ve already made, not custom work) then Etsy is a great place to start. You can also try eBay, which is still a very viable place to sell your work. If you want to be a freelancer and do commissioned work or contract jobs, try deviantArt, fiverr, or eLance. Do your research and find out what services will promote your art the most effectively.
* Best for writers that I’ve found: eLance and fiverr.

Promote yourself. This is the marketing part. Want to know all about this? Wait until my complete book is released and read it. Codename: Pitchcraft will be a self-contained marketing course, followed by very specific information on how to find success as an independent artist. I’m even working out deals with some of my fellow marketers that will allow people who buy this book (or course, if you want to call it that) to take advantage of our ever-growing promotional network.

You don’t have to wait for my book, though. Now is the time to take your skills to market and start being a pro. Hit up those websites, make your free account and get selling.  

Outlining…it’s a matter of style.

The topic of outlining comes up frequently around writers; Should I? Shouldn’t I? Does it really matter?

The best advice that I can give in regards to the topic is this:

Try it. Try as many different ways to outline or plan your work as you can think of. Eventually, one of these methods will stick.

This is coming from me, a guy who swore off outlining years ago. I’ve always hated writing to a plan. That is, until I figured out the way of outlining that worked for me, and now I can’t imagine “free-wheeling” it ever again. 

My outlining method is a simple, three-step process. First, I write out a timeline of the events in the story. This can take as little as a minute or it could take days, depending on the length and depth of the story. This is also an unrefined brainstorming session. For instance:

  1. Guy finds a magic rock.
  2. Rock makes him go insane.
  3. Wizard comes to village for ?? and learns about the guy with rock.
  4. Wizard confronts him and explains that the rock is his older brother, an evil sorcerer who he turned into a rock years ago.
  5. Rock-sorcerer takes control of guy.
  6. EPIC BATTLE (this is where sorcerer-rock gets so angry he makes the guy throw him. Then the connection is lost and the guy is returned to normal, wizard destroys rock, happy ending.)

This is not a real story, by the way, although it might be some day. (Another piece of advice: no idea is stupid enough to be thrown away.) So, once I have this little breakdown of the events, I typically rewrite them so that each event carries any important information. This includes names of the characters, the locations, any bits of dialogue that see fitting well in the scene. Example:

1. Guy finds magic rock.


1. POV Johan Applethorpe is walking through woods near his village. He is distraught over the loss of his betrothed. He is thinking about her when he sees a glowing thing in the stream. Reaches down, picks it up. The stone uses the memory of his dead fiance to take control of him. 

Finally, I write the story piece by piece, going over each point as I write. For point one, I would write out the scene. Then I would delete that line on the “outline” and move to the next. This is pretty much how I write everything now…even business articles, reviews, ad copy…you name it. 

Maybe some of you will click with my system of outlining, but that’s not really important. What matters is that every writer experiment with the conceptual/planning phases of their craft and work to hone an effective, repeatable means of outlining. Once you’ve nailed down your style, you’ll be glad you did!






Another bit of visual poetry. This is the first and last portions of a much longer poem. The complete poem is going into my private stash because it earned an entirely new layer of personal meaning this week.

Art and words by yours truly.