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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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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People I Know: Samar Owais

Happy 2015, Everyone! My first “PIK” interviewee of the new year is Freelance Flyer‘s Samar Owais.

Samar’s a freelance writer and blogger whose name is pronounced like “Summer.” She’s based in Dubai and is absolutely gorgeous:

Samar Owais

Samar Owais

How I Know Samar

If you’ve downloaded my free e-book, The Freelance Writer’s ABCs, you may remember a quote from Samar in the “V is for Vending Machine Mentality” chapter. Yep. I’ve been following Samar’s work for quite a while! :) And, at some point, one or both of us reached out to say “hello.”

Since Samar is based in Dubai, UAE, and I’m in Los Angeles, whatever time it is “AM” over here, it’s exactly that time “PM” where she is! So when I’m still up poking around online at 4AM, I get to chat with 4PM Samar about our lives as super cool freelance blogger ladies.

And, on a more personal note, Samar is quite the make-up expert. I’m still not as skilled as she is application-wise, but she’s definitely encouraged me to branch out a little (I now own a hot pink lipstick and sometimes attempt putting on eyeliner!). But, I think, that speaks of Samar as a whole: She’s always encouraging and motivating those around her to try new things to better themselves (and their businesses!).

So enjoy this (e-mail) interview! Find out how Samar Owais got her start, what’s next for her blogging business, and how you can follow in her ever-glamorous footsteps.

My Interview with Samar Owais See more ›

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Happy Holidays from LittleZotz Writing! (2014)

holiday card 2014

Blog posts will resume on 01/14/2015!

In the meantime, feel free to keep an eye out on my “Upcoming Events” calendar for any guest posts/articles I’ve written elsewhere. Or, you can follow me on any of my social media outlets:

You can also get “News” about my life — and some writing-related stuff! — on my personal site, So I’m not leaving you completely! I’m just taking the holidays off from work. <3

Thank you SO much for reading! Please feel free to keep sending me your questions and comments. I reply to every message I get.

See you all in 2015! I’ve got some great stuff planned that I can’t wait to share with you!!


PS: If you love the LittleZotz Writing blog, please consider nominating it — and other blogs you love! — for The Write Life’s 100 Best Blogs for Writers list! (I’m still so grateful to you all for nominating me this year! And it would be the best 30th birthday gift to be on the list again in 2015! :3)

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People I Know: Anca Dumitru

Anca Dumitru is a freelance writer who specializes in helping B2B companies share their success stories through written content. Read on to find out how she got her start, what her favorite part of the job is, and how you can follow in her footsteps…

Anca Dumitru

Anca Dumitru

How I Know Anca

The story of how I met Anca Dumitru is very similar to last month’s PIK interviewee, and the month before’s PIK interviewee, and the month before that’s as well! We just happen to run in the same circles.

However, Anca and I then started writing for some of the same publications. We wrote for the same blogs. And we even scored cover stories for the same magazine! We even shared a difficult client and ended up swapping notes on how to handle his wily ways.

Over the past year, I’ve grown to admire Anca not only for her writing skills (which are stellar), but for her willingness to help out a fellow writer (namely me!). Anca has become one of my go-to writer buddies when I have a “Hey, have you ever had to deal with…?” freelance writer issues.

My Interview with Anca Dumitru

1. What do you do?

I’m a freelance writer and content strategist. I help midsize B2B companies boost their lead flow and revenue by writing their customer success stories (also known as customer case studies).

Anca covering an event in Brighton, UK (2011).

Anca covering an event in Brighton, UK (2011).

2. How did you start?

It wasn’t an easy start and neither a clear path for me.

I used to work for 16 years for a large logistics group in Romania, Belgium and Germany. Five years ago I was laid off from my corporate job, which left me with a financial cushion, yet with no direction whatsoever as to what I wanted to do next. See more ›

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