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! See more ›

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Posted in Artist, People I Know, Uncategorized, Writer

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: See more ›

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Posted in Freelance Life, Freelancing, Freelancing Advice, Time Management, Uncategorized

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…? See more ›

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Posted in Freelance Life, Freelancing, Freelancing Advice, Uncategorized

People I Know: Robert the Cat

This month, my featured interview is one of the most important males in my life: Robert the Cat. He’s a freelance consultant specializing in food eating, proper litterbox use, and general rumpusing. 

Robert the Cat

How I Know Robert

I met Robert in 2009 when a feral cat gave birth to him in our backyard.

My Interview with Robert the Cat

What do you do? See more ›

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Posted in People I Know, Uncategorized

10 Common Invoicing Mistakes Made By Freelance Writers

invoice in a bottle

Illustration by Ramiro Roman, Jr.

The difference between being a freelance writer and writing as a hobbyist? Getting paid.

Why is it that so many freelancers – writers or otherwise! – have such a hard time getting themselves paid?

My rates are stupidly “reasonable” (AKA: Too dang low!*), but I’ve never once had any qualms about getting paid. Invoicing has always been something I’ve excelled at.

*I’ve been slowly raising them over the past few months.

And considering the importance of invoices, you’d think that freelance writers would do everything possible not to make any mistakes. However, such is not the case!

Here are ten of the most-common mistakes I’ve witnessed freelance buddies and/or mentees making with their invoices:

1. Sending the Invoice to the Wrong Person/Department

If you’re working for multiple clients and you’re not super-duper conscientious, you’re probably going to slip up and send your invoice to the wrong person at some point.

At best, you’ll end up embarrassed, look a little less professional, and have to wait a bit longer to get paid. At worst, you could end up violating your contract by divulging your client’s private information to another party — which could land you in legal trouble. See more ›

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Posted in Featured, Freelance Life, Freelancing, Freelancing Advice, Uncategorized

People I Know: Ashley Gainer

Ashley Gainer (recently Ashley Gainer Lankford) is a freelance writer, editor, and content manager. If you’re a part of any writing communities, you’ve probably seen her around. Now get to know her better!

Ashley Gainer

Ashley Gainer

How I Know Ashley

In February of 2014, Ashley Gainer wrote a Tweet about an article I’d written:

ashley gainer tweet.

Ashley’s probably going to be surprised that I remembered this. haha.

Then she reached out to me to say hello. She was a single mom, new to the freelancing scene, and had a lot of questions. She was also funny, earnest, and genuinely good at what she does. I liked her! So I kept in touch.

Now Ashley is newly-married (hence the Lankford at the end of her sig in some cases!) and is successfully freelancing doing her dream job! Not such a newbie anymore, that’s for sure.

I thought you’d love to read how she did it. So, thanks to the magic of e-mail, I asked Ashley a few questions. Check out her answers: See more ›

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30 Writing + Freelancing Questions from My Mailbag (Part 2)

Mailbag 2

Ramiro’s still too busy to draw new illustrations, so I altered this old one

This is part two of a two part series answering commonly-asked freelancing/writing/editing questions from my inbox.

Hello again! Welcome back.

Last time, I covered these 15 questions:

  1. “Is it really okay to e-mail someone as an ‘interview?’”
  2. “How do you deal with rejection?”
  3. “What do you do to feel more professional when working from home?”
  4. “What field of writing brings in the most money?”
  5. “Most important skill as a freelance writer?”
  6. “How do I figure out my rates?”
  7. “What’s been your biggest challenge owning your own freelance writing business?”
  8. “What’s a question you’re tired of answering?”
  9. “Do you know a place online anywhere that fellow bloggers/editors hang out? I’m feeling really green and I could use some camaraderie…”
  10. “How do you get rid of an annoying client?”
  11. “I think my rates are too high for the company I’m interviewing for – should I lower them or keep them the same?”
  12. “Do you ever write sponsored guest posts for clients looking to promote their product/service?”
  13. “Why don’t you use ads/affiliate marketing on your site?”
  14. “Why do editors sometimes accept a pitch but then reject the post?”
  15. “How can you tell when a client’s going to be no good?”

This time, I’ll cover 15 more! Sound good? Good. Here we go! (Feel free to scroll to the questions/answers most relevant to you).

16. “How do you get old fogies to respect blog writing?”

Sometimes I just refer to blogs as “online magazines.” It’s easier than arguing.

Though don’t let that be your default. Most of those “old fogies” aren’t as set in their ways as you might think! Often, our elders simply aren’t “in the know.” But, one of the things I’ve always liked about the older generations is their willingness to learnIf you’re willing to put in the time to explain blogging to someone — of any age! — I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results you get. See more ›

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Posted in Freelance Life, Freelancing, Freelancing Advice, Time Management, Uncategorized, Writing

30 Writing + Freelancing Questions from My Mailbag (Part 1)


Ramiro’s still too busy to draw new illustrations, so I altered this old one

Freelancer questions, writer questions, editor questions…

Okay! So here’s what’s up:

I turned 30 this year. That’s a pretty big deal to me. And, even though said event happened in early January, I wanted to keep the “30″ thing going for a while longer and answer 30 commonly-asked questions from my mailbag. :)

Then I realized I was a couple questions shy due to so many commonly-asked questions being repeats, so I turned to the wonderful community at Be A Freelance Blogger to fill in the gaps. (They’ve got a lot of questions over there!).

Without further ado, here are my answers to some of your freelancing/writing/editing questions! Feel free to scroll through for the questions/answers most relevant to you — it’s a long post!

1. “Is it really okay to e-mail someone as an ‘interview?’”

There comes a point when you have to ask which is more important: How you conduct the interview…or getting the message out into the world? See more ›

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People I Know: Kelly Gurnett

Kelly Gurnett (AKA Cordelia) is a freelance writer and editor specializing in blogging — and ghostblogging! — who loves to share how fellow freelancers can “quit” dealing with the endless stream of nonsense in their lives. 

Kelly Gurnett

Kelly Gurnett

How I Know Kelly

Ah, Kelly… I have so much to say about Kelly Gurnett and her writing, I don’t even know where to start.

Kelly’s blog, Cordelia Calls It Quits got its start in 2010, the same year LittleZotz Writing was born. And, just like LittleZotz Writing, Kelly has a page on her site dedicated to explaining her business name. So, naturally, I felt an immediate sense of camaraderie with her!

I also instantly adored Kelly for her seemingly never-ending optimism.

But she’s a special kind of optimist. Her optimism isn’t a result of having never been through true hardship (too often I’ve been told “Why don’t you just _________?” from people who have never even been close to relating to what I’m going through). From dealing with mental illness first hand to dealing with the pressures to low-ball her rates as a freelancer, Kelly has always opted for a positive outlook and helps others (or, me, at least) do the same.

In particular, her posts on dealing with freelancer burnout have meant a lot to me. If you know you need a break, but can’t justify taking one in your own mind (if you’re the kind of “I AM THE JOB” crazypants freelancer like I am), then you should check these out:

There are others, of course, but this intro is getting super long. So let’s get on with the interview, shall we? Check out Kelly’s e-mailed answers to the 5 questions I ask someone every month: See more ›

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Why I’m a Hardass Pitching Editor

edited writingHi there:

My name is Lauren Tharp. In addition to running my own writing business, I’m the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Be A Freelance Blogger. And while I’m pretty happy-go-lucky on the forum, I’m a complete hardass behind the editor’s desk.

No, really. I’m a hardass by the very definition of hardass:


Noun, Slang: Vulgar.
1. A person who follows rules and regulations meticulously and enforces them without exceptions.

But there’s a good reason for this.

And it’s a reason that you, as a writer, should be aware of — whether you decide to pitch an idea to me or any other editor.

Querying: Every Editor Has the Same Number One Rule

Want to know what every editor I’ve ever spoken to has had to say about pitches/query letters?

The writer needs to follow the guidelines.

I’ve said the same thing myself, numerous times:

And you know what writers say in reply…?

“It’s really not that big a deal…”

“Can’t you make an exception for me…?”

“Why are you such a stickler for the rules?!”

“I’m so great, I don’t have to read the guidelines!”


Most freelance writers/bloggers are professional enough to “get” why the guidelines are important. But for those who aren’t — or are simply curious — here’s exactly why I, and every other editor worth their salt, is a friggin’ “hardass” about the rules: See more ›

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