Interview with Full-time Freelance Writer, Halina Zakowicz @ Haelix.com

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halina-zakowicz-interview

Today we talk with full-time freelance writer, Halina Zakowicz @ Haelix.com.

This interview reminds us of the importance of:

1. Niche targeted writing…

2. Understanding the client you’re dealing with…

3. Helping him reach his objective better and faster than anybody else.

Here are some of the exciting things we cover inside:

  • What it takes to become a top paid writer (two brains? Think again…)
  • How to find high-paying writing opportunities (skip Elance or Guru)
  • How to land (BIG) clients the easy way (and quite fast too)
  • How to quietly milk money from Holiday seasons
  • A proven way to turn one client or opportunity into multiple streams of income
  • The one type of guest post you should write to attract (sizzling) traffic and “fame”

You’re a prolific writer and guest post author (on multiple niche sites) amongst many other things… what is the drive that brought you here and what are the top 3 essential things you’ve learned about writing all these years?

Halina-Zakowicz

Halina Zakowicz
Full-time freelance writer

I’ve been writing since I was 11 years old, so writing professionally was a natural “next step” for me. What keeps me going is the thrill of seeing my content published and hearing how it has helped and influenced others.

In all these years of writing, three essential things I’ve learned:

(1) Almost anyone can be a good writer but few have the actual discipline to sit down and write

(2) Good writing is always in demand

(3) Writers should never work for low pay.

Please explain how you went from getting paid measly to hefty fees for writing web content, and if you could share some of your top 3 highest paid articles…

I started out writing on content mills because I erroneously thought that it took a journalism degree or decades of writing experience to become published at high-paying sites. I assumed that the contributing writers at Time or Cosmopolitan knew key people and that’s why they were privileged enough to be published at those kinds of magazines. What I didn’t realize was that writers don’t need big degrees or to know big names in order to get published. What they do need, however, is to know the market and to take the correct approach when sending query letters to editors, web publishers, etc.

In my own writing experience…

My highest paying article was a corporate white paper that I wrote for the tidy sum of $1,000

This paper took me 10 hours to research and write, which set my hourly pay at $100/hour.

I also wrote blog posts for another company several years ago and these were paid at roughly $75/piece.

This year, I submitted about 20 guest blog posts to the online site KrazyCouponLady.com; the pay per post was $50, but since I could complete a post in under an hour, that meant that I was earning over $50/hour for my writing.

How can one find high paying opportunities besides the available lists out there like “top 50/100 sites” that get paid to guest post?

Actually, you won’t find high paying opportunities listed online or otherwise, although “top 50/100” posts are a good starting point. To really make money writing, you must create your own high paying job opportunities. The really good jobs and the assignments that pay the most money are never advertised on job boards or bidding sites (which, by the way, I stay away from). As a result, I spend a significant part of my time researching companies and individuals who might be perfect clients for me to approach.

What I like to do is to carefully research a potential client and his/her website to find out if anything is missing or might be improved on that site. If there is something amiss, I use that as a point of entry when I contact the client. I also mention what I can do to remedy this issue.

Some of my strategies are outlined in my recent blog post on

How to use LinkedIn to win clients

For example, one of my clients was a corporation that I initially located through LinkedIn. After researching the company, I saw that it had a great product (dietary supplement) but very little online literature explaining how this product worked. I also found out that there were several negative reviews tarnishing this company’s image on the SERP (search engine results page).

Going on this information, I contacted one of the company’s marketing managers via LinkedIn and explained to him how customers who were better informed about the company’s product would probably buy more of it. This marketing manager immediately put me in touch with the company’s president, who heard my pitch (in person, incidentally) on how better and more content could improve the company’s sales and brand image. I landed the “job”, which had until now not existed, and ended up with several white paper assignments for this company.

Knowing how your target market operates also helps you find high paying opportunities, as I noted in my post on how the holidays can create new freelance opportunities. For example, some companies operate on a yearly or fiscal cycle and need to use up all their funds by a given date. If you pitch to a company during its “use it or lose it” time of the year, you can easily win an assignment or two.

How can we turn one opportunity or client into multiple streams of income, what is your perspective and experience with that?

I like to think that turning one money-making opportunity into many money-making opportunities is where I excel. I do this by not just offering content, which pretty much any writer could do, but by diversifying my services and offering content marketing and strategy too. What this means is that

I try to look at the big picture of what my client is trying to accomplish

…whether it be increasing website traffic, selling product, improving brand image, etc.

For example, I have one client who is trying to win a contest for his product idea. Instead of merely proofreading his contest entry, which is what I was initially hired to do, I have also worked with him on submitting his idea to an outside company and in bringing in additional team members who can help build this product. In case his contest entry is rejected, I’ve already researched and recommended that he attempt to realize his product idea through crowdfunding. As a result of this extra effort, my one proofreading assignment has expanded into several assignments and even an offer to become a part of the product team.

How do you integrate guest posting with social media, what is your strategy for that and how well it works?

I always try to syndicate anything I publish on social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. Much of my content is also referenced on my business website Haelix Communications, which works like a virtual business card and is of great help to me when I’m showing clients my work. I may also, if I have time, incorporate some of my content into my comments on other websites- although I try to do this tactfully so that I’m not just spamming websites and making their owners irate. I don’t have a particular social media strategy- just the rule that, if I’m going to post any of my content through social media, it has to be relevant to the group that is receiving it. Spam kills.

What was your most profitable guest post in terms of traffic and exposure- and what do you think is the anatomy of such an article?

I think that one of my most profitable guest posts was a post published on I’ve Tried That shortly before I became a regular writer for that site. The post is titled “Halina’s Journey to Become a Full-Time Freelance Writer”. What made that post successful in terms of traffic and exposure is that it told my personal story about how I became a freelance writer. I think most people like to read personal anecdotes about how someone progressed from point A to point B to point C and beyond. I think my story also inspired a lot of folks to become self-employed.

If you had to start again as a freelance writer and had no access to your relationships, social media profiles or assets, what would you do differently, why, and how often?

If I could go back to 2007, when I just starting out as a freelance writer, I definitely would not spend as much time on content mills as I did. Sure, writing for content mills helped me meet deadlines and write about different subjects quickly, but I think I overstayed my welcome by at least three years. Looking back, I would’ve taken online classes on how to publish for magazines and work with clients directly and would not have worried too much about $10 assignments at Associated Content or Textbroker.

I was actually luckier than most content mill writers because some of my mill clients sought me out privately and paid me far better than the mills. Thus, I was able to earn significantly more money than many starting writers. However, the fact that I wasn’t going out and actively pursuing my own clients hurt me as far as my earning potential was concerned. I also gained no experience in pay negotiation, pitching article ideas, query generation, interviews, etc.

I also would’ve networked more, both with other writers and with organizations that could eventually be a source of clients for me. Networking is crucial to obtaining those lucrative writing assignments that are not posted on job boards or websites yet can really help launch your writing career.

Let’s thank Halina Zakowicz in advance for her insights and words of wisdom; you can find her @ Haelix.com. Give her an email to say hi, and tell how much you liked the article on Codrut Turcanu’s StartABlogHowTo.com website.