inspiration

Why All Freelance Writers Need Regular Clients

Why All Freelance Writers Need Regular Clients

A question I am asked quite regularly is how I have managed to sustain a freelance writing career for over thirty years.

There are various answers I could give to this, but probably the single most important factor has been having regular clients.

Over my career I have had somewhere in the region of thirty regular clients – people and companies who have supplied me with work over a lengthy period. As a matter of interest I have listed some of my main clients over the years below:

Maple Marketing (UK) Ltd – books and ebooks, distance learning courses and email newsletters

Streetwise – newsletter articles and training course content

Lagoon Games – puzzles, games, novelty books, quiz books, and so on

Agora (Fleet Street Publishing) – newsletter articles and web content (currently I am contributing two articles a week to their Creating Wealth email newsletter)

Hilite – newsletter articles, distance learning courses and web content

WCCL – distance learning courses, website content and copywriting

The Writers Bureau – distance learning courses and copywriting (I was also for several years a tutor and assessor for them)

Some of the above I’m still working for, others not – though my door is always open, of course!

Having regular clients has meant that almost every month I know there is some money coming in. Obviously I have also had other occasional and one-off clients, but I’d hate to have to rely on that to pay the bills.

For one thing, you get to know your ‘regulars’ and build a relationship with them. Good clients can be guaranteed to pay you for work done (even if once in a while their accounts department may need a prod). With new clients you simply don’t have that reassurance. They may be good, or nit-picking nightmares, or at worst downright crooks. When a potential new client approaches me these days, I am quite cautious about whom I will accept!

Regular clients are a lot less worry and hassle, and over the years I have developed strong working relationships and even friendships with some of them. This is great when, on occasion, you  need a little extra flexibility (over a deadline, say).

And of course, it makes work less stressful and more enjoyable.

And finally, if you have a core group of regular clients, you don’t need to spend so much time marketing your services. You can therefore concentrate on your writing, which is presumably what you enjoy doing, and also what you get paid for.

So my top advice to any writer starting out today would be to make every effort to build long-term relationships with clients. For me anyway this has been the key to sustaining a long career as a working professional freelance writer.

If you have any comments or questions, as always, please do post them below.




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Time to Start Planning for NaNoWriMo 2017!

Time to Start Planning for NaNoWriMo 2017!

The nights are drawing in now and that can only mean one thing. It’s time to start planning for NaNoWriMo 😀

For anyone who may not know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a challenge to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in a month, and it comes around every November.

From humble beginnings in 1999, when there were just 21 participants, NaNoWriMo has grown into a world-wide phenomenon. In 2016 384,126 people took part, and the numbers this year are likely to be even greater.

There is no entry fee for NaNoWriMo (though donations are always welcome), and no prizes either. Essentially, it’s a challenge to help you write that novel you had always meant to write but keep putting off.

By registering with NaNoWriMo, you are joining a world-wide community of writers who are all seeking to achieve the same end, and are thus able to encourage and support one another.

Although there are no prizes for completing a novel for NaNoWriMo, if you do (and you have to prove it by uploading your work to the NaNoWriMo site), you will be able to download an official ‘Winner’ web badge and a PDF Winner’s Certificate, which you can print out.

And, of course, you will have the first draft of a novel you should be able to polish and submit for possible publication (or publish yourself).

There are lots of useful resources on the NaNoWriMo website, including wordcount widgets, web badges, flyers for downloading, motivational articles, and much more. There is also a busy forum where you can compare notes with other participants.

NaNoWriMo is also, by the way, a great opportunity to apply the techniques taught in my publisher WCCL’s Novel in a Month course, or indeed my own Write Any Book in Under 28 Days.

I’d like to wish you the very best of luck if you do decide to register for NaNoWriMo. Please do post a note below if you succeed in completing the challenge!

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Start Writing Fiction

Free Fiction Writing Course Starting Soon

I have mentioned FutureLearn on this blog before. It’s a UK-based platform for short online courses from British and international universities. All FutureLearn courses are free and open to anyone in the world.

Anyway, I thought you might like to know that a course titled Start Writing Fiction begins on Monday 25 September 2017. It comes from The Open University, a well-respected UK distance learning institution. It will run for eight weeks and you can enrol now if you wish. It is also usually possible to register for a few days after a course has started.

This particular course runs regularly via FutureLearn and I have mentioned it on this blog before. If you can’t fit it in this time, you can put your name down on the website to be notified the next time it is scheduled.

Start Writing Fiction is intended for anyone with an interest in starting to write fiction or improving their fiction writing. There is a particular focus on creating interesting, believable characters. The course does not require any previous experience of studying the subject.

On the website, it says:

Start Writing Fiction focuses on a skill which is central to the writing of all stories and novels – creating characters.

You will listen to established writers, such as Louis de Bernières, Patricia Duncker, Alex Garland, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Tim Pears, Michèle Roberts and Monique Roffey, talk about how they started writing. You’ll consider the rituals of writing and the importance of keeping a journal.

You’ll learn how to develop your ideas and the importance of reflecting on writing and editing, and you’ll hear other writers talking about their approaches to research and consider ways of turning events into a plot.

You’ll also have the opportunity to review and comment on the work of fellow writers, and receive peer feedback on your own story, learning the importance of reading as a writer and how to receive and respond to feedback.

The course is run by short-story writer and novelist Dr Derek Neale. It requires a commitment of around three hours a week.

The course itself is free, but optionally you can pay £39 to upgrade. Upgrading entitles you to receive a Statement of Participation when you complete over half the course. In addition, you get unlimited access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, and quizzes). With the free version, your access ends 14 days after the end of the course. You can, of course, sign up for free and upgrade later if you choose.

For more information (including a video trailer) and to register, visit the Start Writing Fiction information page of the Futurelearn website.

FutureLearn have lots of other interesting free courses, incidentally. I recently took one called Secrets of Successful Ageing from Trinity College, Dublin, which was informative and thought-provoking. As well as the teaching itself, another big attraction of FutureLearn courses is the opportunity they provide to interact with fellow students all over the world. You can see all upcoming courses on this web page.

If you have any comments or questions about FutureLearn, as ever, please do post them below.

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Check Out These Content Writing Tips from 70 Experts

Check Out These Content Writing Tips From 70 Experts

I was recently asked to contribute a writing-related tip to a blog post that was being compiled by my colleague Camilla Hallstrom. Camilla runs the popular Influence with Content copywriting blog.

The post has now been published, and it is such a comprehensive resource I thought I would share a link to it here. The title is Writing Engaging Content – 70 Powerful Expert Tips.

The 70 experts are divided into categories, as follows:

  • Entrepreneurs and Bloggers
  • Digital and Content Marketing Specialists and Strategists
  • Content Writers and Copywriters
  • Writing Experts
  • Social Media Experts
  • Branding Experts

If you’re interested, you can find me (and my tip) about half-way through, in the Content Writers and Copywriters category.

Here is a sample tip from one of my fellow experts, Kayla Hollatz, a professional copywriter and brand strategist.

My best writing tip for engaging your audience is writing in your unique brand voice. You don’t have to sound like everyone else in your industry. In fact, you shouldn’t. The more you deep dive into who you are and what you offer, the more you’ll be able to communicate that in a clear, concise way. That builds trust which then builds engagement. Also, it never hurts to sprinkle in some personality, too!

Although the article is aimed primarily at copywriters and content writers, many of the tips would apply equally in other types of writing. So it’s well worth scrolling through the advice and making notes on any parts that seem particularly relevant to you.

Camilla has also created a free writing workbook that incorporates many of the tips offered. You can download this via the blog post.

If you have any comments or questions about any of the advice in Writing Engaging Content – 70 Powerful Expert Tips, of course, please do post them below as usual.

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Ten Top Tips for Winning Short Story Contests

Ten Top Tips for Winning Short Story Contests

As well as being fortunate enough to win several short story contests, I have been asked to judge a few. So I thought today I would share some tips that come at least partly from my judging experience..

1. Most important of all, obey the contest rules. It they say the maximum is 1500 words, don’t submit 2000. An entry that clearly breaks the rules has no chance of winning.

2. Don’t enter the same story in more than one contest at a time. It will be embarrassing to both you and the organizers if the same story wins or places in both contests, and you may end up forfeiting your prize (or prizes).

3. Try to come up with an original idea or angle. Remember that your story will be competing with many others, so avoid the predictable plots that have been done to death, or at least give them a fresh twist. A clever double-twist ending that surprises the judges and subverts their expectations can be a winning formula.

4. Twist endings aren’t essential, though (unless that is specified in the rules). A story that engages with the reader on an emotional level and leaves him/her something to ponder can also be a strong contender in a short story contest.

5. Other things being equal, avoid submitting stories that are laden with doom and gloom. As a judge I’ve been amazed (and depressed) by the high proportion of miserable, downbeat tales that are entered in competitions. That’s not to say such stories can’t be good, but judges are only human. Faced by story after story brimming with misery, when we come across a tale with a bit of humour it really stands out. So go easy on the negativity. Witty, humorous stories (even dark humour) are far more likely to catch the judge’s eye, partly because they are so unusual. And even if you don’t end up winning, my fellow judges and I will be grateful to you for brightening our day!

6. Avoid cliches such as ‘she was a mine of information’ or ‘he was as cool as a cucumber’. These are signs of lazy writing and won’t impress the judges.

7. Likewise, try to avoid stereotyping. Just as judges are familiar with all the usual plot twists, so they can recognize flat, two-dimensional characters. Admittedly short stories don’t allow much space for characterization and character development. But if you can go beyond the standard stereotypes and present readers with interesting and surprising characters who spring to life off the page, it will greatly boost your chances of success.

8. Check and double-check your spelling, grammar and punctuation. No story that demonstrates a lack of attention to the basics of good English is likely to win a contest. Ideally, have someone else who is good at this check your entry for you before submitting it.

9. Don’t be too despondent if your story doesn’t win or even place. In most competitions there are hundreds of entries, and luck and the judges’ personal tastes inevitably play a part. I have had a story come nowhere in one contest and win another. If you are confident of the quality of your story, give it another polish and send it out again when a suitable opportunity arises.

10. If possible, though, take the trouble to read the stories that do win and see what this tells you about what the judges were looking for. Compare your own story honestly with those of the winners and see what they did that you didn’t (although bear in mind my comments above).

Good luck, and I wish you every success entering short story contests!

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writing

Time to Start Planning for NaNoWriMo 2016!

Once again, it’s that time of year to start planning for NaNoWriMo.

For anyone who may not know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a challenge to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in a month, and it comes around every November.

From humble beginnings in 1999, when there were just 21 participants, NaNoWriMo has grown into a world-wide phenomenon. In 2015 431,626 people took part, and the numbers this year are expected to be even greater.

There is no entry fee for NaNoWriMo (though donations are always welcome), and no prizes either. Essentially, it is a challenge to help you write that novel you had always meant to write but keep putting off.

By registering with NaNoWriMo, you are joining a world-wide community of writers who are all seeking to achieve the same end, and are thus able to encourage and support one another.

This year a number of members of the myWritersCircle forum (which I co-founded) have registered for NaNoWriMo already, and more will no doubt follow. If you are looking for some ‘buddies’ to share notes and compare progress with, check out this forum topic.

Although there are no prizes for completing a novel for NaNoWriMo, if you do (and you have to prove it by uploading your work to the NaNoWriMo site), you will be able to download an official ‘Winner’ web badge and a PDF Winner’s Certificate, which you can print out.

And, of course, you will have the first draft of a novel you should be able to polish and submit for possible publication (or publish yourself).

There are lots of useful resources on the NaNoWriMo website, including wordcount widgets, web badges, flyers for downloading, motivational articles, and much more. There is also a busy forum where you can compare notes with other participants.

NaNoWriMo is also, by the way, a great opportunity to apply the techniques taught in my publisher WCCL’s Novel in a Month course, or indeed my own Write Any Book in Under 28 Days.

I’d like to wish you the very best of luck if you do decide to register for NaNoWriMo. Please do post a note below if you succeed in completing the challenge!

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Today is Your Day

Today Is Your Day: a free resources set for entrepreneurs from Aweber

My colleagues at the leading autoresponder and mailing list service Aweber have recently released a new (and free) set of resources aimed at entrepreneurial businesses and individuals.

These resources are collectively called “Today Is Your Day”. Each one provides a checklist for completing one particular task to help boost your bottom line, from creating a YouTube video to growing your email audience, creating captivating images to growing your podcast. Banners linking to each resource are published below…

 

 

 
Take the first step towards growing your podcast

 

 

These resources are provided free and without obligation, although obviously Aweber hope that you will sign up to their service if you haven’t already. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I do recommend Aweber if you are looking for a service to help run an email list or newsletter on your behalf.

The checklists are quite concise but provide a practical step-by-step guide to what you should be doing to achieve each of the objectives listed. Links are provided to other useful resources as well.

As ever, if you have any queries or comments, please do post them below.

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working together

Should Writers Work With a Collaborator?

Periodically I get asked my opinion about writers working collaboratively.

It’s a topic that interests me, so I thought I’d set out some of my views here.

In principle, I like the idea of working with a collaborator. Writing can be a lonely business, so the prospect of working with someone else is attractive for the human contact aspect alone.

Plus you have someone else to bounce ideas off (many of the most successful comedy writers work in duos and I’m sure this is part of the reason). And, not least, having a collaborator means that they will do some of the work instead of you!

Of course, there are drawbacks to working with collaborators too. If you don’t get on with your partner or constantly disagree with them, the savings in time and effort may evaporate. Instead of being entirely free to pursue your own artistic vision, you may sometimes have to compromise. And any payments resulting from your labours will have to be shared with your partner instead of all going into your own pocket.

I have worked with writing partners on various occasions over the years (and am still open to the idea if the right project comes up!). The person I’ve worked with most often is my old friend, the poet and performer Simon Pitt.

One of our first collaborations was a sketch show called The Naked Apricot (a satire of the then-famous book by Dr Desmond Morris, “The Naked Ape”). This was performed by a local amateur theatre company, and in financial terms anyway was their most successful show ever (admittedly, it probably helped that we didn’t get paid a fee for it!).

More recently I collaborated with Simon on a couple of non-fiction books: Fifty Great Ideas for Creative Writing Teaching and How to Invite Any Writer, Artist or Performer Into Your School (currently out of print).

The way Simon and I work is to take a project, divide it into chapters or sections, and then allocate each of these to one of us or the other. When we have completed our assigned chapters, we pass them over to the other one to read, edit and add his own input. In addition, I tend to handle the IT-related aspects, as I’m sure Simon would agree that this is not his strongest suit.

One thing we don’t do (or at least hardly ever) is sit down together and go through our draft manuscripts line by line, word by word. Apart from being horribly time consuming, I could imagine this putting our friendship under strain. In my experience anyway, it’s easier to accept (and give) criticism in the form of a quick note rather than face to face.

My number one advice to anyone thinking of working with a collaborator is to agree how you will work together first. If your collaborator expects you to sit down and write together while you prefer to work alone and just meet for planning, marketing and so on, it’s doubtful whether the partnership will succeed.

Likewise, it’s important to discuss the proposed topic of your book, screenplay or whatever in detail, to ensure you don’t have totally different perspectives on it. That’s not to say you have to agree in advance on every point, but unless you have certain basic assumptions in common, the writing process is likely to become a test of endurance. This applies especially in fiction-writing projects.

One other important consideration is how much each person can contribute to the project. This is partly a matter of time, and partly one of skills and expertise.

Clearly, if one person has more time available for the project than the other, this could be a problem if the ultimate rewards are to be divided 50:50. You could, of course, agree a different division of the returns, but this really needs to be discussed beforehand and agreed by both partners. Attempting to negotiate a change mid-project if you think your partner isn’t pulling their weight is not an attractive prospect for either party.

As regards skills/expertise, I’ve sometimes turned down offers of collaboration when I couldn’t see what particular contribution I would be able to make to the project – how I could “add value” to it, in other words.

I think it’s important to know how your skills and expertise are going to mesh with your writing partner, and what input each of you expects from the other. Ideally there will be a synergy when you have complementary skills and expertise. But if one partner doesn’t have any distinctive contribution they can make, the project is unlikely to survive through to completion.

Finally, if you do decide to go ahead, it’s worth looking into the growing range of online resources that can facilitate working collaboratively.

One tool I have used quite a bit is Google Drive. This free platform lets you publish documents on the web where they can be viewed and, if you allow it, edited by other selected individuals (i.e. your writing partner/s).

This means it is feasible to work collaboratively with people in other countries and even other continents. I used Google Drive when planning and writing The Wealthy Writer, the downloadable course on making money writing for online markets I co-wrote with Ruth Barringham, who lives in Australia. The Wealthy Writer is a little outdated now, by the way, which is why I don’t actively promote it any more.

So what are your thoughts on collaboration? Do you actively seek out writing partners, or does the idea fill you with horror? I’d love to hear your views and experiences! Please post your thoughts below as usual.

Note: This post is an updated version of one first published a few years ago on my old blog at www.mywritingblog.com. 

Nick Daws Course

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Dear Michael Love Dad

Keep Believing! One Day Your Dream May Come True

Today I am pleased to bring you an inspirational guest post by UK freelance writer Iain Maitland.

Iain is an old friend of mine, whom I first met many years ago when he was editing a newsletter called Personal & Finance Confidential, for which I was a contributor.

In his article, Iain reveals how, after many years as a struggling freelance, a book deal catapulted him into the big time.

Over to Iain, then…

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This is an article for aspiring writers, especially those with a dream.

This is not a how-to article.

It is not going to make you money.

What it will do is to give you hope – it’s never too late to achieve what you want.

I’ve been a freelance writer for 30 years, turning my hand to all sorts of articles, from curing hay fever by putting Vaseline up your nose to making money from Forex trading. What I’ve always really wanted to do is to be a ‘proper’ writer with a literary agent and a big-time publisher.

I had a go at various books now and then over the years and time passed by and nothing ever worked. I turned 54 last year and thought I’d drift into retirement with, between you and me, plenty of regrets.

And then something rather magical took place.

I’d written this book, Dear Michael, Love Dad – it’s a funny, sad and emotional story of my relationship with my eldest son. Think Dear Lupin or maybe Love Nina.

I sent it to lots of agents. They all turned it down. I sent it to every publisher I could find. They turned it down too. I then pretty much gave up.

Cue a magical moment. An agent, Clare, suggested we meet for breakfast. She loved the book and would pitch it to publishers. The next morning, within an hour or two, a publisher, Hannah, said she loved it as well. They’d publish it.

This was the same book that so many agents and publishers had turned down. Rejection after rejection after rejection; to the point where I doubted that I had any writing ability at all.

Yet now, same book remember, I was a wonderful writer, capable of moving people to tears and to laughing out loud.

Roll forward nine months to today, early July 2016, and I’m not sure if the book is going to be a best-seller, but it’s certainly going to do rather well. Charlie, ‘Dear Lupin’, Mortimer has said it is, ‘wonderful, moving, humorous…extremely poignant’ and that has been a big boost.

We have lots of interviews and features coming out across the press later this month, with an appearance on ITV This Morning booked on 27 July. There will be plenty of media coverage going through the summer.

I am now, almost overnight, that ‘proper’ writer I always wanted to be with an agent and a big-time publisher who has optioned a follow-up to Dear Michael, Love Dad.

I am about to start writing a stage play with a well-known actor (who may well play me) and this will see the light of day later next year.

I have a thriller, Sweet William, coming out next year too and that, it’s been suggested, will be a best-seller.

So it happened – is happening right now – for me; and, who knows, it could happen for you too. You just need to believe and keep going. And one day…

Find Out MoreIain Maitland

Here is the book: http://geni.us/2TT5o (universal Amazon link)

Here is the story: http://www.yellowkitebooks.co.uk/parenting/your-child-depression-what-you-need- to-know/

And here’s me if you want to get in touch: www.iainmaitland.net and www.twitter.com/iainmaitland

Iain Maitland

Nick Daws again: I really enjoyed reading Iain’s original article, and asked if he could follow it up by setting out some tips for writers wanting to follow in his footsteps. Once again, he came up trumps. Here is what he wrote…

Here’s my ‘how-to’ advice based on my own experiences…

* Write the whole damn book. If you don’t have a track record, the agent and publisher will want to see the complete manuscript.

* Discover similar books, either online or in Waterstones etc. The closest books to mine were ‘Dear Lupin’ and ‘Love Nina’.

* Google – you may have to dip deep – to find the agents and publishers of these books; I found leads on Linkedin and Facebook.

* Approach agents and publishers by email, with an outline of the book and a sample chapter. Keep it short and to the point. Don’t try to be smart or clever.

* Learn to accept rejection. You need a thick skin! Most will not reply. Those that do will send a template response. Few will engage.

* Take advice – when an agent does engage, listen to what they say. Dear Michael, Love Dad was rejected as a funny book but accepted once I’d woven in the bittersweet story of my eldest son’s depression and recovery.

* Remember the good news – you only need to be accepted once. You will get ignored and rebuffed over and over again. You may well doubt yourself. Your heart may break. But you have a talent and a story to tell. You only need one agent and one publisher; it will all roll on from there.

* Don’t get cross with agents and publishers who seem dismissive. They get bombarded. Publishing is a small world and you will cross paths again; not easy if you’ve called them a flipping idiot (or similar).

* Assume you are right and they are wrong and keep going – whisper it quietly, but one Hodder publisher turned my book down, another later accepted it with enthusiasm.

I am happy to chat! You can email me at Imaitland@aol.com.

Join me at www.twitter.com/iainmaitland

*

Thank you very much to Iain for an interesting and inspirational article. Do follow him if you are on Twitter, and check out his book and homepage.

And, as ever, if you have any questions or comments, for Iain or myself, please do post them below.

 

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Money

How One Blogger Made £100,000 Working from Home on the Internet

I saw an interesting article last week about a UK-based blogger called Emma Drew who is making an impressive income working from home on the Internet.

A little surprisingly, the article was on the Daily Mail (UK) website. It opens as follows:

A blogger who turned to online money-making schemes to make ends meet while unemployed has been able to quit her job after earning £100,000.

Emma Drew, 28, from Littleforth, Cambridgeshire now makes around £3000 a month from activities such as mystery shopping, risk-free betting and online lotteries, which she documents on her blog From Aldi to Harrods

Her husband Tony has also been able to given up his job to work alongside Emma, and the couple were able to splash out almost £30,000 on their dream wedding and honeymoon last year without a second thought.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3553368/Blogger-earns-100-000-money-making-schemes-quits-job.html

Working from home is a particular interest of mine, and of course I write about such opportunities for my clients at More Money Review.

Quite a few of the money-making opportunities Emma pursues I also do myself, or at least I have some knowledge of.

I thought it might therefore be of interest to add my own thoughts, and also include hyperlinks where appropriate (for the most part these are not included in the Mail Online article). I have adapted the list of headings below from Emma’s Top Tips list in the article. Note that not all of these may be suitable for people living outside the UK.

  1. Blogging

Obviously this is something I do through my Entrepreneur Writer blog. I also ran My Writing Blog for nearly ten years on behalf of my publishers, WCCL.

Like Emma, I make money from my blogs in various ways. The most important is affiliate marketing. I do this in (I hope) a fairly low-key way, with occasional banner ads and affiliate links to products I recommend.

I don’t make a fortune from this, but some reviews have undoubtedly been remunerative. One review on my old blog (for the Brain Evolution System by Inspire3, if you’re interested) has made me over £5000 in commission since it was written.

I also have Google AdSense ads on my blog, although as they aren’t very prominent you would have to look quite hard to find them! Nonetheless, they earn me a few pounds a month as well.

I notice that Emma has about six different blogs, all targeted at extra income seekers. That seems a good way to boost your earnings, although of course it does involve a lot of extra work.

2. Matched Betting

This is one of those methods you can only apply if you live in a country where online gambling is legal. The idea is to make use of bookmakers’ special offers to generate a guaranteed profit. This is tax free in the UK.

To give you an example, a bookmaker might offer a £20 free bet as an incentive to sign up for an account on their website. Using the matched betting method, you bet on the opposite outcome as well on a different website, adjusting the stakes so that whatever happens you are guaranteed an overall profit. Emma has a more in-depth explanation of how the method works on her blog, incidentally.

I have only ever used this method in a small way myself, but it is perfectly do-able, and gives the lie to the oft-repeated claim that you can’t take money from the bookmakers. You do need to be well organised and resist the temptation to place any speculative bets, however. In addition, over time the number of opportunities may diminish as you use up more and more of the bookies’ introductory offers.

Nonetheless, Emma seems to be making this method work for her. As well as the service she mentions, many members of the More Money Review website recommend another well-established advisory service called Bonus Bagging.

3. Complete Online Surveys

This is another genuine online moneymaking opportunity, but the rates of return vary considerably. In some cases you can end up being paid as little as 50p for a survey that takes over an hour to complete.

As I value my time more highly than that, I don’t generally do online surveys now. Still, if you have the time to spare, they can certainly provide a bit of pocket money. Here are links to Prolific Academic and MintVine, two survey sites recommended by Emma in the article.

4. Mystery Shopping and Research

This is a money-making method I haven’t tried, but the opportunities are certainly there for those who are interested. Nowadays they are typically based on smartphone apps, so if you don’t have one of these your options may be limited.

There are various apps you can download free of charge to help you make money. You are unlikely to make a fortune from any of these, but they can generate a useful sideline income for you.

Yoobic is one of a number of apps that pay smartphone users for performing simple research tasks in shops and other retail outlets. For example, you might be asked to take photos of products or rank a store’s marketing displays.

Missions (as Yoobic refer to them) typically pay between £4 and £8 for 10 minutes’ work, with payments via PayPal. If this prospect appeals, download the app from the iTunes store or Google Play, create an account, and search for missions near you. You can reserve up to ten jobs at a time, and must complete them by the stated deadline.

Streetspotr is another app for both iOS and Android that connects market research clients with users who carry out small tasks. Most tasks pay about £5, though some offer as much as £15. Jobs can involve anything from photographing supermarket product displays or checking restaurant menus to ordering a hot drink in a muffin shop!

Some apps are for iPhone users only. One such is Field Agent. Missions are sent via the app, and can include checking product prices in stores, taking photos, writing reviews, and so on. The company typically pays £4.50 per task, but it can be between £2 and £10.

Task 360, another iPhone app from the same firm, offers a wider range of tasks, and typically pays £5 to £10 for 15 minutes’ work. To download Field Agent and/or Task 360, just search for them in the iTunes store.

If you enjoy sharing your opinions, VoxPopMe could be for you. They will pay you for recording short (15–60 second) video clips on set topics on your smartphone. Payment is via Paypal once you reach £10. Both Android and iOS versions are available. One possible downside to VoxPopMe is that they say that they may use your video for their clients or themselves, and that they own the intellectual property in your video the moment you upload it.

Finally, Quostodian pays you to read offers and occasionally download an app onto your phone. You can earn extra by referring your friends and family too. The minimum payout is £10 via Paypal or BACS, with payments processed weekly. Unusually, in addition to iOS and Android, this app is available for Windows phones and Blackberries too.

  • Emma’s number one recommendation for mystery shopping gigs is Market Force. She also recommends the website usability testing service What Users Do.

5. Write an E-book for Sale on Amazon

Clearly this is something that I do and recommend myself. You are unlikely to make a fortune publishing Kindle e-books (though it’s been known), but even a moderately successful title can generate a useful sideline income for you for years to come.

Two of my own Kindle e-books you might like to check out are my humorous sci-fi novella “The Festival on Lyris Five” and my guide for writers “Three Great Techniques for Plotting Your Novel or Screenplay“.

Basic advice on how to write a Kindle e-book can be found on the Kindle Direct Publishing website. For more in-depth advice, my number one recommendation is (of course) Geoff Shaw’s Kindling.

6. Free Lottery Websites

A growing number of websites offer the opportunity to enter free daily or weekly prize draws, with the prizes financed by advertising. You simply register for each site and enter the details required, whether it’s your postcode, your birthdate, your phone number, or whatever. Then all you have to do is check them every day to see if you have won. Here are some of the top such websites:

Free Postcode Lottery

The Selfie Lottery

Lucky Phone

Ashleigh Money Saver

Date of Birth Lotto

Note that these lottery sites are generally open to UK residents only, but if you live elsewhere a search for “free online lottery” may prove productive.

7. Investment

The main site Emma refers to in this category is RateSetter. This is a person-to-person (P2P) or crowdlending service. In the case of RateSetter, you will be lending money to businesses rather than individuals (as with Zopa).

With all such services, your money is lent to a number of borrowers, and you receive interest plus return of your capital as the loan is repaid. Lending to businesses is arguably riskier than lending to individuals, but the potential returns are greater.

I don’t actually use RateSetter, but I do belong to a similar service called The Lending Crowd. I currently have around £1000 lent out to about 40 businesses, at an average interest rate of around 11%. So far there have been no defaults, but if this did happen I would still be doing a lot better than with a bank savings account.

Of course, the drawback of this type of service is that if you need all your money back quickly, it won’t be as straightforward as with an ordinary savings account. Nonetheless, in my view (and experience) if you have a bit of money you can afford to lock away for a while, this type of service can offer much better returns than a standard bank account.

  • As mentioned, my own experience is with The Lending Crowd, and I am therefore happy to recommend them. However, RateSetter (as mentioned in the article) are a well-established company and currently offering a bonus of £100 with investments of £1000 and over, so they are definitely worth considering as well.

8. Buying and Selling

Although this is referred to in the article, it doesn’t say very much about it. But of course buying and selling, typically using online auction sites such as eBay, is a very popular way of making money from home.

Many people (including myself) start by selling things from around their home that they no longer require. If you want to turn this into a sideline business, of course, you will need to buy products cheaply (e.g. from a wholesaler) and sell them on for profit.

An excellent resource I recommend for online auction traders is Salehoo. This is both a directory of suppliers and a comprehensive training programme. You can read my full blog review of Salehoo here.

9. Reviewing

I’ve already mentioned that I make some money publishing reviews on this blog. In addition, I am paid by my clients at More Money Review to review home business opportunities.

Additionally, I am an Amazon Vine reviewer. That means Amazon offer me a wide range of products to review. In exchange for doing this, I get to keep the product in question. Over the years I have received some quite valuable products, including a lawnmower, a vacuum cleaner, and a £1000 mattress.

Unfortunately you can’t just apply to become an Amazon Vine reviewer. You have to wait for the call! However, if you regularly post product reviews on Amazon, there is a good chance you may be asked.

One thing I discovered from the Mail Online article is that there is a growing number of websites where you may be able to get free or heavily discounted goods in exchange for reviewing them on Amazon. The site mentioned in the article is AmzReviews. This is only open to UK residents, but you can find a long list of sites seeking reviewers for Amazon on this webpage.

10. Freelance Writing

Finally in the article Emma mentions freelance writing. This is obviously something I do as well, and it is still by a distance my largest source of income. I have a small number of regular clients, and others I work for occasionally when required.

I can’t really go into detail here about how to get freelance writing work, but one tip would be to apply proactively to any publishers or other potential clients you think you could provide a service to. To sustain a career as a freelance writer you really need a few clients who will keep you going with regular work rather than an endless stream of one-off projects. Any of the latter that arise will then be icing on the cake for you.

This post has gone on rather longer than I anticipated, but I hope you found it interesting. In addition, I do recommend reading the Mail Online article that inspired it, and also clicking through to read Emma Drew’s blog.

If you have any comments or questions, as ever, please do post them below.

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