Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Freelance Writing Community Pulls Together To Help Out Someone In Need

How connected were you to your coworkers at your last 9-to-5 job? Probably very connected if you were in a nice working environment with a wonderful team. In the military, everyone is family through thick and thin. But would you imagine that a bunch of freelance online writers from all over the country working with the same client pulled together to help a fellow writer in dire financial straits? Even over-the-computer, we can all stay connected.

This is the story: "Doug" is one of the fellow writers at Demand Studios. He's like several writers that can't do that's limited  in his work abilities: he suffered a car accident that severely injured his shoulder and leg. His income has mostly been from writing.

Well, Doug has a seven year-old daughter that he cares for. His wife decided at some point that she wanted no part of the realtionship-to include the one with their daughter. Although she and Doug were combining their income to keep their rent and bills on pace for the sake of their daughter, she decided to leave them both for another man.  They were struggling enough as it was, but this made things much worse for Doug. He was left with no rent money for the current month or the next one.

While Demand Studios is probably one of the most reliable and on-time clients, technical issues can cause problems. Editors weren't getting our articles from their servers, so our works weren't getting reviewed. This caused a massive back log. Instead of a one or two-day turnaround, many articles weren't getting approved for six or seven days. For people like Doug, that can be a financial disaster. In this case, it was one that would lead to eviction.

Doug mustered up his courage, put away his pride, and asked for our help. He just needed to get the rent paid so his little girl wouldn't be homeless. Remember, the mom has already disconnected herself, so it was up to him to care for her. After some soul searching, he posted a plea for anyone to help find resources like local shelters or even a temporary loan to tie him over for at least the rent. He'd already negotiated with the other bill collectors on delaying payments.  He took one writer's suggestion to create a link to a "hero" site that would allow anonymous strangers to donate. The link is here, where you can see a picture of his little girl.

Another writer suggested that he post his PayPal e-mail so that people could pay directly. It took him awhile to post it because, again, this was an uncomfortable situation as you could imagine.

Within three days, Doug received enough money from his writing community to cover a month and a half's rent. He posted the following:

Yeah, I've still got power, phone (internet) and October's rent to take care of... but really, everyone stunned me with the show of support and I'm definitely getting back on the right track. I've worked out deals for the bills (as they were all due this week and overdue from August, blecch) to get the payments moved further into the month and am now working my butt off to get those covered and make sure I'm not in the same state come October.

So again, thank you all very, very much.

I'm still struggling, but it's gone from bleak to hopeful in a very short span!!!

It's one thing to get money from strangers, whom you'll never see again. It's one thing for your coworkers and pals to help you out in a pinch.

But for a writing community- made up of people who are already struggling and have never seen you in real life but know you from your forum posts- to help out? That's a miracle on its own.

I can't tell you how proud I am to be a part of such a world. I had my own financial struggles at one point, but never to the level Doug was at. There are many others who are in the same boat as Doug- and perhaps yourself. To see my fellow writers pull through for him makes me smile inside and out.

So for those of you who've thought about writing but might feel like you're missing out on that human spirit of connectedness- you aren't.
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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Free Exercise Advice For You, $300 For Me

I'm not a bodybuilder. I'm not a personal trainer. But I just got paid $300 to give exercise advice- with more money to come!

This is how it started. I LOVE to eat. I'm not a big guy with a big gut ,nor am I super-skinny. But I've got a little "front porch", so to speak.  I wanted to work it off so I thought "oh, I'll just hit the gym, play some basketball and burn it off, as usual."

That didn't work. I lost a pound or so after two weeks and I even ate less crap, but it was next to nothing for weight loss. My goal is to lose about 3 inches from my 38 inch waist because 40 inches is the danger zone for heart disease. I'm only 36 years old but I have a family history of heart disease. No better time than now!

After a little research, I found a technique that works for me: short burst training and weightlifting. Short burst training takes about 20 minutes but it naturally causes these hormones in your body to burn fat like butter in a frying pan (mmmm....butter). More on weightlifting later.

The short burst training gave me some pretty good results pretty quickly. I lost another inch off the gut within a week. My wife bought a Jillian Michaels DVD and that really pushed me. I'm not a friend of Jillian Michaels, but I'm a lifelong fan now. She's the only workout trainer that I've shouted an obscenity towards or argued with as if she were in the room. That 30 Day Shred is NO JOKE.

So how did all this lead me to $300?

Well, I logged onto one my client's sites to see what topics were available to write on. Lo and behold, the motherload! 20 articles on "muscle" alone! And at $15 a piece, that's a potential $600!

This is the kinda gold mine us freelance writers like: getting paid to write on what you know.
Again, I'm NOT a personal trainer. But I already looked up most of this information and knew exactly where to get what I needed to do the topics. Example topics were "how to build muscle fast", "how to build muscle naturally", "how to gain 10 pounds of muscle"...
The topics were designed for people like me: we need just enough information to get us going in the right direction, not extreme physiology lessons. Since I was already looking for it, it wasn't a waste of time!

I learned even more information as I did the research. Like how my metabolism will naturally slow down, even in my 30s, which is probably why the weight didn't slide off like last time. And how lean muscle eats so many calories at rest that you almost have to "pig out" on meat and complex carbs to keep building!

Since then I've only lost three more pounds on the scale, but my fat is disappearing from my face, arms, and waist. I'm down to a 36-inch waist with one more inch to reach my goal.

By the way, my real goal isn't to lose weight so I can be a healthy buff guy.

It's to make a nice, large hole in my gut so I can fill it up for the holidays. I'm going from my healthy Northern California digs to my greasy-food Carolina roots. Waffle House, here I come!

And with the money I've made so far, I can afford those plane tickets home!

Feel free to visit the fruits of my labor at this link . I don't get residuals from your visits, but you'll see the proof is in the pudding. (mmm...pudding...)
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