Freelance Writers: How to Protect Yourself from Unscrupulous Clients

While working on your own as a freelance writer has certain perks, there are also a few drawbacks. When it’s just you, your computer, a high-speed Internet connection and your clients, you open yourself up to potential problems, such as unscrupulous clients who refuse to pay you for your work. Here are a few tips for freelance writers on how to protect yourself from those unscrupulous clients.

Protect Yourself from Unscrupulous Clients: Prepare a Contract

Although a contract doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be paid for your work, it is definitely good insurance. A contract is an agreement between two people-the freelance writer and his or her client-that states the specifics of the project as well as the payment terms and the consequences for non-payment.

Have an attorney create a standard contract for you or talk to other freelance writers who might have a contract template. You can find pre-made contract templates at and (state-specific).

Protect Yourself from Unscrupulous Clients: Be a Good Judge of Character

As a freelance writer, it isn’t your prerogative to accept every client who comes your way. If you’re getting a bad vibe or if you’ve heard negative things about an individual or company, feel free to say “no”. Even if you’re worried about paying the mortgage next month, you won’t be farther ahead to do work for free.

It is also not inappropriate to ask a client for references from previous contractors. Even if they’ve only worked with web designers or virtual assistants, it will give you peace of mind to know that other contractors have been paid in full and on time.

Protect Yourself from Unscrupulous Clients: Be Firm From the Beginning

One thing that I’ve learned during my short tenure as a freelance writer is that you have to be firm from the very beginning or clients will walk all over you. State your terms up front and let the client know that there isn’t any room for negotiation. Don’t let a client talk you down for your price or convince you that your work isn’t worth what you advertise.

That said, don’t be rude or inconsiderate either. Act like the consummate professional that you are and you’ll earn the respect of your clients. Turn in projects when they are do and send prompt invoices to encourage payment on time.

Protect Yourself from Unscrupulous Clients: Don’t Advertise That You’re an Amateur

If you’ve only been freelancing for a few months (or a few weeks!), don’t advertise that fact to potential clients. Instead, behave as though you’ve been freelancing for years. This will discourage clients from trying to get one over on you and will further illustrate that you’re a professional.

Protect Yourself from Unscrupulous Clients: Don’t Start a New Project Until You’ve Been Paid for the First

If you’ve completed a project for a client, wait until you receive the check before starting a new project for that same client. This will ensure that you’ve judged his or her trustworthiness before putting more work and effort into their cause. If you’re sent a check, wait for the payment to clear in your bank before starting a new project; bounced checks are hell on a freelance writer’s income.

Protect Yourself from Unscrupulous Clients: Hire an Attorney

If you’re knee-deep in a dispute with a client, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney for representation. Sometimes just a demand letter written by an attorney will be enough for a client to pay up, but if you are forced to take it farther than that, you will need an experienced attorney to help you through the legal process of collection.

Protect Yourself from Unscrupulous Clients: Don’t Allow Mid-Project Changes

If your client wants to change the scope or content of the project when you’ve already begun work, charge a fee. As a freelance writer, you must remember that you need to be compensated for any work that you perform, regardless of whether the client changes his or her mind. Put that policy in your contract and make sure that your client understands ahead of time.

Freelance writers are taken advantage of every day in America and overseas, but ultimately, it’s up to you to protect …

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Educational Challenge Helps 3 Woburn Schools Raise $40K

How do you calculate ‘success’? Well the students of three Woburn, Massachusetts schools calculate it 30 different ways!

On April 13th , the Hurld Elementary School PTO held a PTO Ideas’ Educational Math Challenge fundraiser that was an enormous success.

Students collected pledges for each correct answer on a 30-question math test. A concept similar to a walk-a-thon; but instead of walking, the kids are learning to earn money for their school.

Over a 7-day period, parent volunteers organized fun, educational, math-related games and challenges to motivate the students and get them ready for the final challenge test this past Wednesday.

The PTO’s goal was around six to seven thousand in order to purchase computer equipment for the school. The students far exceeded that goal and raised over $11,000.

Similarly, in 2008 the Wyman School ran the PTO Ideas’ Educational Challenge as a Spelling Challenge and this 200-student school raised over $13,000. The Linscott-Rumford , also in Woburn, joined in to run the Challenge fundraisers two years in a row resulting in profits of $8,500 and $7,200.

The fundraiser comes from Vicki Blaze of PTO Ideas (, a web-based company in Massachusetts. Blaze started the company in October 2006 and has written the Budget BashesTM series of fundraising ebooks, inlcuding the Educational Challenge and the $5ForKids Campaign.

Word has been spreading across town and across the country about these fundraising books that are helping schools increase their fundraising campaigns by thousands of dollars. Together Blaze’s ebooks have helped these 3 schools alone raise over $40,000.…

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The ‘Race to the Top’ Education Plan

Last month President Obama presented the country’s “Race to the Top” plan to state Governors. It’s an Educational Reform incentive program geared toward getting them jazzed about beefing up their states’ school systems.

In his speech, Obama described students in early learning programs up until senior year of high school, as the potential employees of tomorrow. He emphasized that our schools must churn out kids that are ready to succeed in college, are creative, possess problem solving skills and, who also possess an entrepreneurial spirit. This, he explained is the only way that they’re going to compete for jobs in this global economy.

4 billion dollars of the Recovery Act is aimed at reforming and refining US Education. Rather than handing out the funds, governors will compete for a share. States that turn around schools, employ great teachers, have high performing students will get a piece of the pie.

The way Obama put it, ‘States that outperform the rest, will win and America’s children will be better for it.’ Massachusetts is the only state mentioned as one of the current winners He says it’s not about more tests; it’s about finally getting testing right. Although he talked a lot about factors failure – poverty and racial difference, there was only one off-the-cuff mention about special ed.

Starting this September, Arne Duncan (Education Secretary), Al Sharpton, and Newt Gingrich are touring the country to promote the plan.

See the video on…

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Reservations in the Indian Education System

Almost 50% reservation in various fields of education is degrading the quality of students passing out every year. As a result the quality of education is also deteriorating due to this. Many brilliant students who deserve much better colleges or universities are barred from getting admission due to this reservation. In the present scenario in India there is no discrimination between people of different castes or societies. Every individual in the country gets the same opportunity but still though we talk of equality in society still due to this reservation the government is creating a difference in social status in our society.

Do you think this can help in the development of any nation? The government talks of equality everywhere but still in the educational system, government jobs there is a divide between the different societies in our country. Every year the situation gets worse as the government implements more and more reservation in the educational system. Is there any opportunity that the so called backward classes in the society don’t get? The answer is obviously no. Then why is this discrimination. Due to this the unity, equality and tranquility among the people is getting disturbed. We want a society, nation free from all these discrimination and so I would like all my brothers and sisters to raise their voice against this.…

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Five Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Downtown Seattle

If you’re planning to visit Seattle with the kids, you won’t be disappointed as there are numerous things that are sure to keep the entire family entertained no matter what time of year you arrive.

Pike Place Market 

This market is not only one of the most popular attractions in the city; it’s the oldest continually operating farmers’ market in the U.S., founded over 100 years ago in 1907. It’s also one of the most lively markets, with not only the fresh produce, seafood and flowers you might expect, but a wide range of vendors that sell specialty foods, handcrafted and vintage goods, rare comics and collectibles, and all types of entertainment.

It’s always fun to watch the fishmongers toss their fresh catch of the day, but you’ll find many performers throughout the market including talented musicians (along with the not-so-talented), magicians, balloon-makers, and even a colorful and comedic costumed gorilla playing buckets rather skillfully.

The Great Wheel

One of Seattle’s newest attractions can be found by taking the steep steps down to the waterfront. The Seattle Great Wheel is one of the largest Ferris wheels in the country and offers amazing views of the Puget Sound as well as the Olympic Mountains on the other side. If you happen to arrive on a clear day, towering Mount Rainier may even make an appearance.

Seattle Aquarium

Also along the waterfront, the Seattle Aquarium is home to playful sea otters, adorable harbor seals, fur seals, and the always fascinating Giant Pacific Octopus. Kids will love the chance to get their hands wait and even touch some of the creatures that live in the tide pools along the state’s coastline as well as Puget Sound’s inland sea.

Get out on the water

Getting out on the water is a must while you’re here. A variety of cruises are available right from the Seattle waterfront, including sight-seeing tours of the harbor a well as sunset sails to take in breathtaking views of the city skyline. If you’re on a tight budget, just hopping on the Washington State Ferry to Bainbridge Island is a great way to get some of the same views and maybe even spot a dolphin or whale along the way.

Pacific Science Center 

Just below Seattle’s famed landmark, the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center provides an opportunity to journey back to the days of the dinosaurs or stroll through lush gardens and brilliantly blooming flowers at the Tropical Butterfly House to watch the colorful insects fly and feed. You can even learn about the universe we live in and delve into unsolved mysteries at the Planetarium.…

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Used Bookstores in Kansas City and Surrounding Areas

Used bookstores aren’t just for the bargain hunters anymore. If you are willing to do some fishing through bookshelves and bins you will be surprised by the hidden gems you find. Who wants a new version of a book when you might be able to find a first edition?


Prospero’s Bookstore – This used bookstore is located on 39th street in Kansas City, MO. It is run by people that adore the written word and will help you with any question you ask. It is in an old building that they are constantly working on. There are 2 floors and they not only have current fiction but they also have nonfiction, classics, and occult books. As a used bookstore goes they are very well organized and have some great titles.

½ Price Books – This is a commercial end used bookstore. And although they are not independently owned and they don’t have the charm of most used bookstores they do have cheap books and a wide selection. They also will purchase books from you as well. They are located in Olathe and Overland Park, Kansas as well as other areas around the city. This is a great store if you like books but aren’t desperately in love with them.

JD Books – This used books store is a small one located in historic Westport. Definitely worth a visit especially due to the area it is located in. However they also carry rare books if you are looking for a true used book treasure. They are a little small but really most independent used bookstores tend to be. They have almost no advertising which means they manage to stay afloat just by the books they sell.

Lasus Used Books – This little independent used bookstore is located in Riverside, MO. They have used books as well as collectibles. The prices for the used books are pretty average for an independent store. The employees are very friendly and willing to dig through their books as well for you.

Anastasia’s Books – This is another charming independent used bookstore. They have rare, uses, and out of print books. They are located in Raytown, MO. What is so great is they will buy your books or even trade them for others within the store. They will also special order books for you even they can locate the title you want.

Really when purchasing any book look into shopping at a used bookstore, not only can you find books for less than regular price but you can also find rare books, and impossible to find novels. Plus you get a charming experience and support a local business.…

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Bette Hagman’s Books About Celiacs and Dietary Restrictions

Why Being Gluten-free and Wheat-free is Necessary for Someone Who is a Celiac – How to Do It, Where To Look for Advice

A gluten-free diet does not need to be just produce, protein or as Bette Hagman would say, “Bananas and Rice”. People on wheat-free and gluten-free diets are able to consume grains such as corn meal, quinoa, rice, millet, as well as soy flour and other bean flours.

Consumers are seeing more labels that say gluten-free or contain warnings about gluten. These labels are not yet on all products, however, are expected to be in the future. These labels are on some products, products that don’t have a warning label usually have contact information to reach the corporate headquarters. A visit to a company’s website as well as toll-free phone calls to the company should give a consumer information about what products a given company manufactures. For the celiac, this important information is what products are wheat-free and gluten-free.

A visit to Albion, the Swan Library, a public library in Orleans County, New York was full of useful books about wheat-free diet options, such as books by Bette Hagman, who has been researching gluten-free products for 25 or more years. Thumbing through a few books by Bette Hagman provided some interesting information about what contains gluten and what does not contain gluten that I did not know previous to this reading.

The author of these cookbooks, Bette Hagman, is a founding member of GIG (Glucose Intolerance Group), is a good author.

I have found that fruit cocktail is also gluten-free. Sugar-free, gluten-free fruit cocktail is sold by Wegman’s, sweetened with fruit juice. Look for labels that say wheat-free and gluten-free on products.

Things to avoid include dextrin, which could be made from wheat, or corn, or rice, or tapioca. Read the label carefully, and if in doubt, contact the manufacturer. 
Malto-dextrin is safe to use, being made from cornstarch. Gluten-free diets allow for corn starch, corn meal, corn, and popcorn.

Watching videos about the gluten-free diet while eating popcorn is a goal of mine. I’ve been thinking about what I read, and am certain that popcorn is a flavorful and excellent thing to do! Popcorn is a surprisingly quick and easy way of making a gluten-free snack food for yourself. There are many flavorings that make popcorn taste an an equally unique variety of ways. Everybody eats popcorn, whether it be cheese-flavored, or garlic-flavored, or onion powder flavored, or paprika flavored, or cinnamon-sugar flavored, or basil/oregano/rosemary flavored, or sun-dried tomato flavored, or thai-peanut sauce flavored, popcorn is something that everybody enjoys eating!

Bette Hagman is an author of cookbooks for gluten-free diets. These diets are also wheat-free.…

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The Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market is a Excellent Resource for Aspiring Artists

The Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market is a must have for aspiring children’s writers. It is a valuable resource for anyone trying to break into the business of writing for children. The Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market is a book that guides you on your quest to writing success.

The Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market gives writers information on how to market and sell their writing. Writing, revising, and editing is a long process. When we finally have the perfect manuscript, we don’t want to waste our time sending our submissions to publishers who are not looking for the kind of story that we have created. The Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market makes it easier by giving the listings, and submission requirements of book and magazine publishers. There is even a section for marketing greeting cards, puzzles, coloring books, and games.

The Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market offers important tips on how to create queries, cover letters, proposals, and how to handle contract negotiations. The Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market also provides information on properly formatting your manuscripts, organizing your office space, and keeping submission records.

I know that when I first started, I was really confused about things like first rights, one time rights, first North American serial rights, second serial rights, foreign rights, and subsidy rights. The Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market makes learning about these things easy, by breaking them down into sections and explaining them.

The subject index is really a plus. If you have a humorous story that you want to submit, simply refer to the subject index to find out exactly which book, and magazine publishers are looking for that genre of work.

The Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market provides sections on writing great children’s stories, listings on workshops, and children’s writing competitions. The Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market offers a list of online resource that may be helpful to children’s writers. If you have questions or doubts on a particular issue pertaining to the business of writing, you can always refer back to the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market.

The cost of the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market is minimal, compared to the wealth of viable information that it offers. The book is available at most large chain bookstores for less than thirty dollars.

If you are an aspiring children’s writer and you don’t have the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrators Market, you need to go out and buy it. The book is a great time saver when you are looking for the perfect publisher to market your work.…

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Child Beauty Pageant: Winning and Losing Talent Performances

Observing child beauty pageants together is a great way coach your child through the do’s and don’ts of winning or losing performances. If your child is competing in beauty pageants, it is wise to order the Videos observe what choices and habits make contestants winners or losers.

Winning performances at child beauty pageants:

• Feel the performance: One pageant talent winner in particular, sang a song that while not necessarily popular, told a story. In addition, but her body language and facial expression told the story too. It did not hurt that she had a great soprano voice for a child under 10.

• Wow the crowd: Judges at child beauty pageants also notice the reaction of the crowd. If your dance routine involves stunts few others cannot do, then go for it! Flexibility helps!

Losing performances at child beauty pageants

• Be yourself. A Shirley Temple impression, while adorable, is just an impression. After a certain age, it’s time to form your own performance style.

• Painful to the ears: Get an impartial person to listen to you sing when preparing for your child beauty pageant, if you sing off key or just not well at all chose another talent. If you sing OK, take lessons to get better.

• Forgetting lyrics. A big no-no at child beauty pageants, especially when you are singing a popular song and everyone else knows the lyrics.

• Poorly played instrument. At a girl’s pageant, a performance that sound like you are tuning a guitar will not be understood. However, in a school talent contest, I might go over well.

• Background louder than singer: Singing should be louder than the background music. Try to use music with only background vocals in a child pageant, not a track with the main lyrics to the song.

At child beauty pageants watch out for:

• Natural Pageants prefer performances not be over staged. This means paying more attention to the camera that to what you are doing and choreography planned with camera poses. It gets annoying to the audience and judges. You would never find a regular tap dance performer stopping in the middle for a photograph.

• Classical music is great, but for talent contests, something more popular is appreciated, unless you are especially gifted.

• Have copies of your music, sometimes a disk that worked previously, may not work later.

• Clothing should fit. If your dress is too tight, short, or falling off one shoulder, it will take attention away from your performance.

• Know when to stop. Practice with your music and make sure your DJ knows when to stop the track. It is embarrassing if you keep singing after the music has stopped.

• Too short: Don’t leave them asking if you were really finished, or just quit. If the time limit is 2 minutes, try to do at least one and a half.…

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Shipping Your Amazon Book Orders

Shipping Domestically

Amazon seller shipping credits are flat for books, and are not calculated by weight or the location you will be shipping to. You will be credited the same amount for both a two ounce leaflet and a 15 pound textbook.

Within the United States, there are a few Amazon shipping methods.

For items weighing 7 ounces or less, you will save the most shipping via First Class Mail versus shipping that same item by Media Mail. For items weighing more than 7 ounces, shipping costs less by Media Mail versus First Class Mail.

You can ship via Media Mail for the “Domestic Standard” option, which is not at all unreasonable. With the $3.99 credited to you, you will be able to ship up to a 5 pound book ($3.94 via Media Mail) without losing any money.

When shipping “Domestic Expedited”, you will be shipping via Priority Mail. You will be credited $6.99, but to ship that same 5 pound book via Priority Mail to California if you are located in Maryland, it will cost you $17.65 ($10.70 if you can fit it into a Medium Flat Rate Box). Priority Mail costs are variable according to your shipping zone and the zone you are shipping it to. Amazon credits you $6.99, so you will be losing $10.66 to ship it.

Shipping Internationally

If you choose to ship internationally, sometimes the shipping will cost a significant amount more than the Amazon international shipping credit you will recieve. If you are shipping via USPS, “Standard International” translates into USPS First Class International, and “Expedited International” translates into Express Mail International. Remember, the shipping credit will not be calculated by where you are shipping to or the weight of the book.

Here, I will be using Australia as an example for the shipping prices because when shipping from the USA the Amazon shipping costs to Australia are highest. Shipping is a bit lower to Europe, but not too much lower.

If someone from Australia orders a book from you that weighs 4 pounds and chooses the “Standard International” option, it will cost you approximately $31.40 to ship it to them via “First Class International”. Amazon credits you $12.49 in shipping, so you will be losing $18.91 to ship it.

If someone from Australia orders a book that weighs over 4 pounds, and chooses the “Standard International” option, the shipping rate to Australia will be $46.90 ($43.45 if you can fit the item in a Medium Flat Rate Box). Items weighing over 4 pounds cannot be shipped via “First Class Mail International”. For items weighing over 4 pounds, it is necessary to send them via “Priority Mail International”, even if the buyer chooses the “Standard International” option. Amazon credits you $12.49 in shipping, so you will be losing $34.41 to ship it.

If someone from Australia orders a book from you that weighs 5 pounds and chooses the “Expedited International” option, you will be shipping via USPS Express Mail International. Amazon will credit you $35.98, and the shipping cost via USPS Express Mail International will be $55.75, meaning you will lose $19.77.

You can ship up to a 1 pound 4 oz book to Australia with the amount credited by the “Standard International” option without losing any money. With the “Expedited International” option, you can ship up to a 15 ounce book to Australia without losing any money.

And remember, as it states on Amazon: “Shipment is required even if the shipping amount credited to your account does not cover all shipping costs.”…

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