Shady Writing Tactics: Why I WON’T Place Your Articles


Illustration by Ramiro Roman, Jr.

I’d like to thank freelance writer Alicia Rades for inspiring me to write this post. You can see her own version of this topic here.

Hey there!

I’m writing this post because a link to it is going to end up on my FAQ page. Because I get asked about this a lot, and I’m tired of having to explain it to each person individually.

There’s a trend lately among “potential clients” wherein they want an article written (good!)…about their product (okay under the right circumstances)…and then pitched/”placed” for them at a particular publication. It’s that last part that’s the problem.

I don’t place articles.

Here’s why:

I’d Be Taking Advantage of Fellow Editors/Blog Owners

I’m a writer and an editor, and I love both of my jobs equally. And I have a great respect for my fellow writers and editors.

As an editor, in particular, I know how hard it is to make the tough decisions needed to keep a publication running. And how much trust has to be put in writers.

I would be betraying that trust if I approached an editor with a “placed” pitch, especially if I didn’t disclose what I was doing.

Not to mention it might not even be possible! Just because I pitch a post doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to get published. Which brings me to my next point…

I’m a Writer, Not a Wizard

Don’t ask a writer to do a head editor’s job.

The only person who can really “place” an article — “guaranteed” — is the head editor or the site/blog/publication owner. Freelance writers can try to get an article placed, but they don’t have any real control over the final results.

But freelance writers shouldn’t be trying to get anyone’s articles placed but their own because…

It’s Unethical on Many Levels

Getting an article placed under false pretenses is unethical. Not only would I be lying to the editors, I’d also be lying to the readers. And if I chose to promote the article after getting it miraculously placed, then I’d lying to my readers. That’s not cool.

Doing something like this could hurt my reputation. Badly. And it could end up hurting yours too, if you’re the person who hired me to engage in said shadiness.

There’s also the potential that I’d be getting paid multiple times for the same article, which is super shady. I’d be getting paid once by the “client,” once by the publication, and possibly a third time if there were hidden affiliate links. Oh, and that third item? Definitely illegal. Which brings me to my final point…

It’s Potentially Illegal

Most of the people who ask me about placing articles also want hidden affiliate links added into the post. But guess what! That’s illegal.

Since I’m based in Los Angeles, that means I’m within the FTC’s jurisdiction. Endorsing a client’s site/link without disclosing that I was paid to do so goes against FTC’s endorsement guidelines since this link to the client’s site would be considered an advertisement.


I’m primarily a ghostwriter. I have no problem writing a blog post as you, provided that it’s under legal circumstances (for instance, I wouldn’t be able to write any educational essays or term papers).

After I wrote the post for you, it would be up to you to get it placed. It’s your article.

Hopefully this is the last I’ll have to say on this subject.

Thanks for reading!


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People I Know: Amy Harrison

Amy Harrison is a brilliant copywriter, consultant, and entrepreneur. Amy is one of my mentors and LittleZotz Writing’s Ms. August 2015!

Amy Harrison

Amy Harrison

How I Know Amy

This August marks the fifth anniversary of when LittleZotz Writing opened its doors. And I don’t think I ever would have lasted this long if it weren’t for Amy Harrison — which is why I asked her to be Ms. August 2015!

I first stumbled across Amy very early on in my writing career and became an instant fan of her work. Her useful information — infused with loads of humor — taught me nearly everything I know about copywriting. And I even won a session with her in which she evaluated a long-form sales page I had written. (Her answer as to why it wasn’t working? Even my top-notch writing couldn’t sell psychic water filters — especially when the graphics the client had chosen made no sense).

Amy has always been a bright spot in my inbox with her weekly e-mails. And, whether she realizes it or not, one of my best mentors.

I think you’re going to love this e-mail interview with her. Read more ›

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Writers VS. Editors: We’re All Winners Here!

star wars writer editor

Illustration by Ramiro Roman, Jr.

Without writers, there would be no editing; but without editors, there would be no good writing. 

I’m a freelance writer. I’m also an editor. This has put me in the unique position of being on both sides of the pitching, drafting, and publication process.

I consider myself primarily a writer for now (after all, my business is called LittleZotz Writing, not LittleZotz Editing); however, I have a passion for both fields and feel myself more and more divided as time goes on. (LittleZotz Editing may become a real thing at some point!).

Both freelance writing and editing are pretty darn great. There are a lot of pros to both!

There are also a lot of cons though…

Let’s take a look at some of the basic “pros and cons” for each, shall we?

The Pros and Cons of Freelance Writing

Pro: You Get to Write.

There’s nothing quite like creating something from nothing. You go from staring at a blank page to a page filled with words that originated from your head. Look at this blog post, for example! A second ago there was nothing on it and now there are just about 200 words. How amazing is that? And to get paid to do that? Even more amazing!

Con: You Don’t Always Get to Write What You Want

As a freelance writer, you don’t always get to choose what you write — even if you choose who you write for. And even topics that you enjoy can become boring when they’re being written for someone else, or under strict creative restrictions. Read more ›

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People I Know: Karen Marston

Karen Marston is a freelance copywriter and the owner of Untamed Writing. Karen’s personality-filled copy has put her at the center of attention lately as a “blogger to watch.” And, yes; that super cool streak in her hair is totally natural!

Karen Marston

Karen Marston

How I Met Karen

On April 29, 2014,Karen Marston wrote to me with a pitch for Be A Freelance Blogger. After weeks of nothing but terrible pitches (it was a particularly bad month!), Karen wrote in with a pitch that was dead-on for our niche and ended like so:

“…there will be an intro and a conclusion to go along with this one, and the bullet points will be padded out more where necessary.

So, them’s my pitches! I guess a little intro would go down well too, eh? I’m Karen, and I run Untamed Writing, where I do freelance writing for my own clients, while also teaching a course to help complete newbies get their own freelance writing businesses off the ground in 4 weeks. I’ve been running my biz since September 2012, mostly through outbound marketing methods. I’ve finally decided to switch to inbound, hence the guest posting :) So far I’ve only had one guest post published, over at Location 180, so you can check that out if you want to see evidence of my guest posting ability. I’ve also had an idea approved by Tom Ewer, for when he launches his Paid to Blog blog :)

I was so delighted by her spectacular pitch that I asked her to send a draft immediately. And I was so charmed by her personality that I sought her out to be my new friend. And we’ve been chatting ever since.
I think you’ll love this e-mail interview with her. (Just don’t let the UK spellings throw you off!).

My Interview with Karen Marston

What do you do?

I’m a copywriter specialising in writing with personality, and I also teach people how to become freelance writers from scratch. I blog twice a week over at Untamed Writing, where I dish out bullshit-free advice on getting paid to write and the lifestyle that comes with it.

How did you start?

I started out writing simple SEO articles, which paid around £15-25 for 500 words. In fact, one of my first ever clients paid me less than £5 for 500 words, but I was just so excited that somebody was willing to pay me to write for them! Read more ›

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Posted in People I Know, Uncategorized, Writer

Blogging VS. Freelance Blogging

freelance blogging hobby

Illustration by Ramiro Roman, Jr.

There’s only a one-word difference between the two, but it makes all the difference…

In my time as the Associate Editor and Community Manager over at Be A Freelance Blogger, I’ve noticed that a great many people don’t know the difference between “blogging” and “freelance blogging.” This has caused some issues behind-the-scenes seeing as bloggers who pitch to us at Be A Freelance Blogger need to send in topics related to how to be a freelance blogger. If you pitch to BAFB, your post idea has to cover both freelancing and blogging. It can lean more in one direction than the other (heavy on blogging, light on freelancing; heavy on freelancing, light on blogging), but both elements need to be present in order for your submission to be considered a serious contender.

So what is the difference anyway?

My Thoughts: Freelance Bloggers VS. Hobbyists

Anyone can start up a blog. Starting a blog is easy. Even writing on a blog is fairly easy. Literally anyone can produce content on a blog and call themselves a blogger. However, these “bloggers” are not freelancers. They’re hobbyists.

And that’s fine! Having a hobby blog is fun. I have one myself. It’s filled with self-indulgent posts about my life. (I’ve made two posts about the press-on nails I wear! And even posts that are really important to me still include pictures of my cats).

Hobby bloggers may be very good at what they do — they may be brilliant writers who are well-aware of “proper” blog formatting — but being able to produce fantastic content doesn’t mean they’ve successfully turned their blogging into a career. They may not even want to! Which is where the “freelance” aspect of “freelance blogging” comes in… Read more ›

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People I Know: Alicia Rades

Alicia Rades is a freelance blogger and young adult novelist. She’s running her own business, going to college, and writing fiction on the side. Curious how she does it? Read on!

Alicia Rades

Alicia Rades

How I Know Alicia

As the Associate Editor and Community Manager for Be A Freelance Blogger, I’m in charge of accepting and rejecting writers’ pitches. I’m also one half of the judges for the quarterly “Pitchfest” blog pitching contests. It was during one of the Pitchfest contests that I met Alicia.

In fact, Alicia won the first ever Pitchfest!

She just sort of appeared out of nowhere, schooled everyone on what it takes to write a great pitch, and was suddenly a part of the BAFB community. Not that I’m complaining! Alicia was hanging out in the BAFB comments and forum so often — and giving out such great advice — that Sophie ended up bringing her on as an “official” member of the team.

So to put “how I know Alicia” in the most simple terms possible: We’re co-workers! :D

She’s young, she’s ambitious, and she’s imaginative. Enjoy this e-mail interview… Read more ›

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LittleZotz Writing: Adventures in Freelancing

Inside LittleZotz Writing Adventures in Freelancing you’ll find 25+ articles divided into the topics most relevant for budding freelancers:

  • Freelancing in General
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Within the pages of this fine 99-page e-book, you’ll find 26 timeless lessons for freelance writers.

There’s practical advice like how to blog, the importance of contracts, how to meet deadlines, and how to write a killer query letter.

Personal advice like how to conquer your fear of failure, why freelance writers deserve respect, how to say “no” to a potential client while still saying “yes” to success, and why you should never burn bridges.

And 18 other lessons!

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Sometimes you don’t want to read through hundreds of pages to get the information you need. Fortunately for you, LittleZotz Writing’s Quick-Start Guide to Blogging is only 10 pages long! It covers why blogs are great, how to write professional-looking blog posts, and whether or not you really need a blog.

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People I Know: Mark Ceb

Mark Ceb is a part-time freelance illustrator and YouTube content creator. For the latter, he writes essays — thoughtful analyses of modern culture and video games — and then records them as videos. (Technology-minded freelance writers/journalists/bloggers take note!).

Mark Ceb

Mark Ceb

How I Know Mark

I’m not going to go as in-depth in this section as I usually do. As you may have guessed by the fact that there’s no picture of Mark Ceb at the top of this page — and the additional fact that even the illustration of him has a censor bar over the eyes! — Mark is a bit of a private person. Despite the fact that he’s becoming more and more of a public figure, he values his privacy in his private life and I want to respect that.

But I will say this: We originally met in 2013 thanks to the StreetPass feature on our Nintendo 3DSes. Since then, Mark has become a close friend of mine and my boyfriend’s.

As a friend, Mark has never been anything but sweet and one of the most caring people you could ever hope to meet. As a freelancing creative, Mark is always a true professional — calm, respectful, ethical, and original.

This e-mail interview doesn’t do him justice. So go check out his work after you read it! Read more ›

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5 Things to Expect When You Become a Mentor

mentoring 2

Illustration by Ramiro Roman, Jr.

I started mentoring fellow writers looking to go freelance in 2013 and I’ve learned a lot since then! 

Last month I shared five tips for people interested in hiring a mentor. But then I realized that some of you are past that point. Some of you are ready to become mentors yourselves!

Well, I’ve mentored dozens of people at this point, and I’ve boiled down my experiences — just for you! — into five things I think you “must” know before getting started:

1. No matter how clear you are, some people will still be confused.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned at my Associate Editor job, it’s this: An astonishing amount of people — even those who call themselves “writers” — don’t like to read. So no matter how informative you are on your sales pageyou’re still going to get questions.

That said, you should still try to be as clear as possible from the get-go! Let your potential clients know exactly what they’re getting. Try to cover not only the basic premise of your mentoring sessions, but also answer questions like: Read more ›

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5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Mentor

mentoring 1

Illustration by Ramiro Roman, Jr.

Books and blogs are great, but you can’t ask them questions…

So there you are: You’ve read all the books, you’ve skimmed all the blog posts, you’ve subscribed to all of the newsletters, and you’ve had long chats with your peers in the freelancing community. And yet, somehow, you’re still not “ready.”

You feel “stuck” and you fear messing up. You’re paralyzed and you have no one to turn to for answers to your most “stupid” questions. (The ones your peers would scoff at and make snide comments about without truly providing answers…).

Sounds like you need a mentor!

But there are a few key questions to ask before you hire one:

1. Do they practice what they preach?

Before signing any contracts, make sure your mentor knows what they’re doing. And, more importantly, that they’re still active in their field.

What worked in the past may not be what works today (especially in the fast-paced online business world!), so you’ll want to check to make sure your mentor’s skills are up-to-date. After all, what good would updating your skills do if the person teaching you is stuck in the past…? Read more ›

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