Hello, everyone! I am truly flattered that I get emails from readers and potential clients, but it has reached a point now where I get the same kinds of questions on a regular basis. So I figured I would create a page of FAQ’s in order to save time. Please read this information before contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Would you be willing to write an Amazon review for me in exchange for a free product?
A: Believe it or not, I get these emails on a daily basis. In the past, I was a Top Amazon Reviewer, and would regularly write reviews in exchange for free products from 2012-2015. This was fun while it lasted, and I’m truly grateful for all of the things I’ve received over the years. But I no longer do this for the following reasons.
- It’s against Amazon’s customer review policy, which was updated in 2016.
- I realized that the time it takes to use a new product, analyze its value, and write about it isn’t worth the trouble. Reviewing a product takes work. This review process might take an entire day, when I could have spent that same amount of time working. More often than not, the product value simply isn’t worth my time.
Q: Okay, so Amazon is off the table. But would you be willing to do an Instagram product shoot and review?
A: In the past, I did some modeling, but I don’t consider myself to be one by any stretch of the imagination. However, I have done product reviews along with photoshoots on Instagram where I worked directly with brands or through a PR agency. Typically, a brand will have a contract with me for the number of days I’m required to keep the post online. Please check out my Instagram and email me to discuss any opportunities.
Q: I am an author who recently published a book on Amazon, and I know you’re a Top Amazon Reviewer. Could you please read my book and leave me a review?
A: Unfortunately, no. Back when I worked an office job, I was really happy to do this for people, especially since I had a lot of downtime. Now, I am a full-time writer, which means that I spend all day researching and writing. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. But after 8-10 hours of reading for work, my brain sort of shuts down, and I can’t do it anymore. I rarely read for pleasure. And when I do, it’s usually in audiobook format.
Q: How do you pull off creating original ideas on a regular basis?
A: I think for me, it’s 40% natural creativity and 60% research. It becomes easier once you open up your mind to be inspired. I get my ideas from everywhere. Books, TV, movies, podcasts, magazines, conversations, you name it. I also save every little quirky true story I hear, just in case I might use it later. After a year of saving up my resources, it became a lot easier to write new ideas on a regular basis.
Q: How did you first get a paid job as a writer?
My first ever paid writing job was one I found on Craigslist for a new website that specialized in pop culture and entertainment. The editor was willing to take me on as a writer after I showed her some pieces from the school newspaper. After about 2 years working for them and becoming a contributing editor, the site failed to turn a profit, so it shut down. I focused on finishing my degree and only occasionally wrote for my own blog.
After college, I started writing Amazon reviews as a hobby. I became a Top Reviewer and started getting free products in exchange for my feedback. People started asking me how I did it, so I wrote a long post about it on Facebook to answer everyone’s questions. A friend of mine who works at The Penny Hoarder read my Facebook post, and she told me to pitch it to them, and it became this post. From then on, I worked on pitching to more places and getting myself out there again, after a multi-year hiatus. Then, I moved on to pitching to Listverse.
Q: Did writing for Listverse helped your writing career?
A: Yes. Absolutely. Getting published on any big-name publication in general is great for your writing career. I started writing for other trivia and history related websites, and it’s all because I was able to showcase my research abilities on Listverse. Getting published on The Penny Hoarder helped me get other finance writing jobs., too.
Q: How did you get your job as a staff writer at TopTenzNet and Biographics on YouTube?
A: The executive producer, Shell Harris, reached out to me via LinkedIn. He found me on Listverse, after I had roughly 50 to 60 lists published there. At first, I was just writing for TopTenz. I wrote a few biography-type lists for the channel that did really well. So Shell asked me if I wanted to work for Biographics, too.
Q: Should I quit my job and become a writer?
A: The short answer? No. Don’t quit your day job. You could be the next Hemingway, but if you’re not getting paid by anyone yet, hold on to your job for now. In my opinion, the only time you should quit your job for writing is when you have so many paid opportunities coming your way, it would make more sense to write full time than to work. The only way to get there is by building up your portfolio, which takes time. In my case, I probably waited too long before quitting my old job.
Q: Can you recommend any books or podcasts I should listen to?
A: Yes! Kelly James-Enger writes a lot of great books with advice for freelance writers. I also love On Writing by Stephen King.
The Self Publishing Podcast and the books by Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt are great, as well. They also have audio books like Write, Publish, Repeat.
Last but not least, The Rocking Self Publishing Podcast is amazing. It is no longer updated with new episodes, but the interviews are priceless.
Q: Can I pick your brain?
A: This is called a professional consultation. It’s not something people give away for free. I do not give consultations, because I’m not a career coach.
Q: Can I send you one of my stories so I can get your feedback?
A: No. Absolutely not.
Q: But you seem so nice, and it should only take you a few minutes!
A: Most people- I’d say 99% – don’t actually want honest feedback when they ask someone to read their writing. They want a sugar-coated ego boost. I am also a very brutally honest person. I would pick your writing apart, because that’s the only way I know how to help someone get better. If I was your English teacher, I am absolutely positive you would hate me. It can only end in tears.
Q: I can’t get published yet, and no one besides my mom and best friends are willing to read my story. So how am I supposed to get valuable feedback?
A: There are tons of ways to get feedback. There are online forums dedicated to fan fiction and writing. Online trolls will let you know very quickly what you’re doing wrong. There are also meet-up groups for NaNoWriMo, and writing circles at local libraries. If you’re still in college, sign up for a creative writing class, even if it’s not your major.
Q: Can you change (insert thing here) about (insert article title here)?
A: In most cases, the answer is no. If you have a request to change something in one of my articles, please contact the editor of each respective website, and it will be up to them and the owner to make any changes they think are appropriate.
Q: I have a great idea, but I cannot write it myself. If I tell you my idea, would you like to write it, and we can split the profit?
A: No, thank you. I am very lucky to be able to say that coming up with new ideas is not an issue for me anymore. I suggest that you should try writing your idea yourself.
Q: Do you want to write for my website/magazine?
A: If you are interested in hiring me for a project, please e-mail me at email@example.com.