Posts Tagged ‘jeff cutler’

No Need To Join The Circus. Just Become A Freelance Journalist To Work For Peanuts.

The other day I got an email from Yotify. The service aggregates and serves up practically any search results you want from multiple sites all over the Web.

Want a camera cheap? Yotify will search out best deals for you on Craigslist, and more. Looking for a job, it does the same thing.

So, the email that popped into my box yesterday was a writing job report. Yotify had found three potential gigs on Craigslist and sent me an alert and a link. Best thing was, I thought one of the projects could have been a real money-maker. Was I ever wrong.

The heading was right up my alley:

“Freelance Writers for News Content”

The description made me shake my fist at the sky and curse anyone who ever gives away their writing:

Skyword is looking for professional grade writers to share their own perspective on the facts of current news-related topics. Topics include: General News, Politics, Sports and Technology.

About this position:

• Choose your own writing topic based on the latest news trends that you are passionate about

• Write from anywhere, submit your articles through our online state-of-the-art publishing tools

• You’ll learn best practices for writing news content and getting picked up in the major search engines.

• At Skyword, you won’t be treated like a number. Team members are readily available to assist you with any questions you may have

• Build your online writing portfolio, reaching thousands of new readers daily

• Earn up to $13 an article, plus bonuses

• No maximum work quota keeps your earning potential uncapped

•  Receive payment twice a month

Fantastic! Up to $13 an article, plus bonuses? How could I go wrong? That’s what I got into freelancing for…to make the big dollars. Vacation home, here I come. New car, sure – buy it with cash. Lavish parties? Yup, call me and I’ll get you on the list.

I mean at $13 per article….PLUS BONUSES….snack packs and microwavable Chicken Tikka Masala were soon to be memories. I’d buy cashmere sweaters for my cat and hire people to do things for me. Like one guy to learn the banjo for me and another to work out. I’d also call the town to see if they would actually change the name of my road to Easy Street.

I digress. And let me stop before I fall off my sarcasm soapbox and hurt myself. Are you kidding me? We both know there ARE writers who will take this job. We know that there is a draw to seeing your work in print and seeing your name in a publication. But it’s our job as professional journalists to educate our colleagues and provide mentoring to those coming into the business that they hurt everyone who sells words when they take jobs like this.

People (myself included) got into freelancing because they wanted the upside of unmentionable riches and the leeway to write whenever they chose. This isn’t the path. Stay away from the word mills and the blog-for-pennies projects. If you have the acumen to understand what the word acumen means, you have more than enough skill to demand ten times that “$13 per article plus bonuses.”

Now go do just that and stay away from the jobs that demean our training, our profession and insult our pride.




Jeff Cutler has been freelancing for 21 years for outlets that include CBS, NPR, The Boston Globe, NY Post, Technology Review and more. He’s the social media trainer for the Society of Professional Journalists and runs a content marketing company – Novel Ideas – where he is able to exchange blog posts for significantly more than $13 each. He thinks you should do the same. Jeff can be reached via any of the contact information at




Kick Yourself in the Pants: Staying on Target as a Remote Freelance Journalist

The radiator is hissing, the cats continue to circle the room and periodically scratch the back of our new sofa, the mailman stomps up the steps and the HDTV dares me to bathe in its plasma glow.

While these stimuli offer any artist vibrant hooks on which to hang their work, these noises, actions and perceived invitations can also serve to derail your responsibilities. As a 21-year veteran of the freelancing world, I know this feeling all too well.

Without a truly developed sense of discipline and lacking a formal corporate environment within which to operate, it’s difficult to maintain focus and drive sometimes. The distractions around the home office don’t help, and our situation isn’t one that most professionals can empathize with when we share at cocktail parties.

So, when faced with trying to get work done in a remote location, and dealing with myriad distractions, how do you stay on task and complete your assigned work on time?

Three things work for me. Deadlines. Deal-making. Dilly-dallying.

The first, and best, solution is having an immovable deadline. That concept itself is redundant. A deadline should be a deadline should be a deadline. But who among us hasn’t nudged a deadline a bit due to circumstances beyond our control?

Unfortunately, the knowledge that a deadline isn’t absolute is dangerous. Soon, just like the teenager who sets her alarm clock ahead by 15 minutes to get an extra 15 minutes of sleep, you’re just fooling yourself and creating more stress.

So, obey the deadline and treat your assignments as if the product you have when the bell goes off is the final product. While you won’t immediately whip yourself into shape, you’ll find that you use your allotted time more efficiently.

I’m now at the stage – having had deadlines taunt me for two decades – where my internal clock and some recesses of my brain collaborate to spark me into motion when there’s just enough time left for me to write an article or craft a post.

The second solution is to bargain with yourself. Make yourself a deal that you can’t ignore so that you can manage your tasks. Either promise yourself a reward or deny yourself something expected until you reach a milestone with an assignment.

This sounds like game-playing behavior, but sometimes all you need is an initial push to get you working toward your finished goal. My favorite punishment and reward is food. Second is the aforementioned plasma HDTV. What makes the TV even more effective these days is the advent of the DVR, so I can’t convince myself that I’ll just watch my show and come back to the keyboard. That show will wait until I type the ### at the end of my piece.

The third way to keep yourself on track when you’re working remotely is to take yourself completely off the track. Seriously. If you can’t get your writing done because of a mental block, the situation at your remote office or other distractions, then get away.

Go for a go-kart ride, play the banjo, walk along the beach, hop in the hot-tub. Whatever you can do to kindle your creative fire, go do it. Don’t use this method as your first option as it might become a habit. Then you’ll find yourself likely living in a house with hundreds of cats in Key West drinking rum and…..oh, wait, that seemed to work pretty well for some semi-famous freelancer, I guess.

The freelance life – and especially the one that keeps you remote most of the time – is a challenge. But if you can find a few solutions for remaining motivated and creative, you’ll learn to treasure the pace, freedom and other benefits that go along with the solo journey.


Jeff Cutler
Content Creator and Social Media Strategist

READ CUTLER (732-328-8537)


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