What Would the Ultimate Freelance Writer Community Look Like?

What Would the Ultimate Freelance Writer Community Look Like? Makealivingwriting.comSince you gave me your feedback in the writer poll, I’ve been working on making my freelance writer’s membership club a reality.

Some parts are falling into place. Hire Webmaster to wrangle all the technical pieces into place: check. Begin weekly calls where I answer writers’ questions: check. Select and purchase programs to manage chat forums, monthly membership group, and affiliate sales: check.

The part that was really stumping me was the name

It has to embody a lot:

It has to feel welcoming and comfortable, yet exclusive.

It has to let you know there will be loads of great information that’s well-organized into subjects, so you can find what you need to know.

All my previous Webinars and teleclasses available whenever you want.

Free access to monthly live Webinars, too, instead of having to pay $36 each time.

Of course, it needs great forums with caring moderators to support you and help you find the resources you need on your freelance writing journey.

And the moderators and other helpers inside the community should get to participate free.

A community of writers who’re serious about earning more — serious enough to pay to hang out in a place where everyone is as serious about it as they are.

A community that delivers terrific value each month and is way more affordable than buying the resources piecemeal.

A place where a revolving cast of experts drop in to add their expertise.

Most of all, it has to have lots of opportunities to get your questions answered. At live events, and privately on email.

I thought about having different membership levels and different levels of access, but in the end I felt that wasn’t very welcoming or friendly. Sort of a caste system. Ugh. And then I’d have tons more marketing to do trying to convince people at one level to go up to another level.

I’d rather spend more time helping writers. So either you’re in, or you’re not.

I didn’t want to call it a bootcamp. That sounds bossy! Make me think of a drill sergeant yelling at me. Not a supportive climate for nurturing freelance writers and helping them succeed.

Also, been done to death already. Ditto with calling it a club.

I told all this to my husband. We free-associated for hours about names. Then we found the photo above.

And he said, “Why don’t you call it The Freelance Writers Den?”

Bing!

“That would make me the Den Mother,” I said. “Perfect. Every week, we’ll have Den Meetings, where I’ll answer live questions.”

So that’s the plan. I’m hoping to have it ready to beta-test in a couple of weeks.

Branding help, please?

One question nagging at me —

Freelance Writer’s Den?

Freelance Writers’ Den?

I actually like Freelance Writers Den, but it’s ungrammatical. But that’ll be the URL since apostrophes mess up site names. So could that work, Freelance Writers Den? Or would no writers join because of the grammar issue?

What do you think? Definitely give me some feedback on that, please!

A-List Blogger Club has kind of gotten around this because they are still officially known as A-List Blogging Bootcamps on their site…but everyone calls them A-List Blogger Club. Which is a bit ungrammatical, too, but seems to work.

Freelance Writer Den won’t work, though

I kind of suck at branding, so really appreciate any thoughts on the name in particular.

One other question…I’m considering locking down older posts on Make a Living Writing — perhaps older than three or six months? — to members only. What do you think about this idea?

Another possibility is to lock down just some of my most popular old posts to be readable in full only to members. Appreciate everyone’s feedback on that.

Free invitations to the Den will be going out. I want a lot of people to test-drive it and give me feedback to help shape what it will be.

Who’ll be hanging out in the Den?

The top 100 most active subscribers on this blog will be getting an invite for a free month’s membership.

Everyone who participated in the poll, too.

And everyone who leaves me some serious feedback in the comments below will also be invited to try it out, free. Please leave me some below! (Yes, if you also took the poll or comment a lot, that means you might get a two-month free invite.)

Thanks in advance for everyone’s help in making this a mindblowingly awesome, welcoming, supportive, and supremely useful freelance writers’ community.

I can’t wait to open the doors and invite you in.

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107 comments on “What Would the Ultimate Freelance Writer Community Look Like?
  1. Gabrielle says:

    I’m not really picky on the whole “s” or “‘s” thing really. I do like your idea of having a forum for writers. Love writing communities. That’s an amazing price point you’ve cooked up with so much value. 🙂

    I’m behind you with your mission. I’ve written content for those farms and recently after writing for one in particular low hanging fruit farm, got a cut in pay for not dotting my “i” or crossing my “t”.

    Geez. 1 article. Cut in pay. You’d think they’d value a correctly researched article with advanced insight in the topic, copywriting techniques and on-target keywords over not having a comma in the right place. :p

    Let me know if you need any help with anything… just maybe not the grammar part. 🙂
    Gabrielle recently posted…6 Daily Marketing Ideas Your Target Audience LovesMy Profile

  2. Bob says:

    1) A site where the members are about helping each other.

    2) A site with constructive conversations.

    3) A site where questions are answered.

    4) A site with writers from novice to experienced working toward the same goal.

    5) A site where writers can share and receive constructive criticism.

    6) A site that shares sites, books, and information about writing.

    7) A site with opportunities to connect with writing buddies, and possibly mentors.

    Just a few of things I would like to see in any writing group, Carol. Groups should be a family of like minded members. We as writers should be willing to help writers with less experience, or just starting out. This is why I write a blog about freelance writing from a personal perspective.

    Bob

  3. I will go with the Freelance Writer’s Den. Sounds good to me and it’s the correct grammar using that apostrophe. You have offer wonderful ideas and content. Thanks.
    Mamie Saunders recently posted…Natural Breast Enlargement Tips- The Three Effective Means To Increase Your Bust SizeMy Profile

  4. Barbg Johnson says:

    Yes Carol, you are definitely on the right track. I love the idea of the Writers Den. I will love it. As for the apostrophe debate, I really think it’s much ado about nothing.

    I’ve loved your blog and enjoyed the posts and the special calls and believe this group will be helpful to all involved.

    Thank you Carol!

  5. Ahlam says:

    Definitely include the apostrophy in the title, those who don’t know you may not realize it’s an aesthetic preference but a real grammar error, which would be a turn off.

    Don’t lock down previous articles. You hooked me onto your blog through your great posts, allow newcomers to the blog the same experience. Let them get to know your inspiring awesomeness 🙂

  6. I don’t think the apostrophe matters that much. People understand Internet weirdness and make allowances for it. Sounds good to me.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Cool. Just want to say that I’m letting the free-month offer in exchange for feedback run through today…but it expires tonight.

      Feel free to keep leaving me ideas though! Just online researching how I could send people cookies…or maybe a coupon good for some cookies? 🙂

  7. Kar says:

    I love this idea! And I’m in favor of leaving your old content open. It has been so tremendously helpful, and I like to return to it and re-read it. “Now what was it Carol said about…,” I think you have decided to do it, but I wanted to let you know that other than re-reading it, there’s one more reason I appreciate it.

    It shows your evolution. You move from freelance writer, to author of helpful books, to creator of webinars and coaching, and affiliate for helpful programs. You find ways to provide solutions to more than one of us at once, which is great for you, and for us, and creates interaction with others in our position. I think your arc is at least as helpful, for us to see what’s out there and how we might expand if we wish.

    Looking forward to cuddling up in the den. Will there be cookies?

  8. Christina says:

    I’m pretty new to this site and just love all of the great content here! I think leaving it open to everyone (as it looks like you’ve already decided) provides a great incentive to join up and get even more. So far, what I’ve been reading has been so helpful to me that I would seriously consider joining your den, with or without apostrophes. 🙂
    Christina recently posted…With Visions of Grandeur- Building the Online FantasyMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Thanks Christina!

      Despite the elaborate debate about apostrophes, in general this has been terrifically encouraging to me. I feel like I’m on the right track and there’s clearly a need for a community like this for freelance writers.

      Can’t wait to get the doors open! Met with my webmaster yesterday…lots of technical mountains to scale here to physically make it work, but we’re going to get there and real soon. Still hoping for end of this month, or at worst right after 4th of July. We’ll see if I can meet my own goals for how fast I can get it done!

  9. Judy says:

    Carol, this is a little off topic, but you mentioned NAIWE earlier today. If you feel comfortable answering this, do you recommend them as a good organization for freelance writers/editors to join? Are there pros/cons to membership? If a writer were to join just one organization, would they be the one you’d recommend? Have you gotten freelance leads through your membership?

    It looks like they offer some good member benefits. Plus it’s nice that they lowered their fee because of economic conditions.

    What do you think of having a writer site through them, vs. having one’s one site and blog? Are there pros/cons to that?

    Thanks much!

    Judy

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Judy — You can read all about my NAIWE recommendation on my Products I Love page.

      My feeling is they are a great choice for anyone who does not yet have a writer website or blog — you could be up and have a site tomorrow for $99 — plus you get resources, free teleclasses, you’re in NAIWE’s blogroll and get retweeted by them…a lot of other benefits thrown in!

      I have not gotten a lot of leads through it, I must admit, but wasn’t really looking to it for that. I should really make more use of all their resources.

  10. Judy says:

    There’s also the Editorial Freelancers Association (the-efa.org), which is a highly respected and established organization. They don’t use the apostrophe in “Freelancers.” And a high percentage of their members are veteran editors.

    Another twist: “Den” could be construed as a verb, even though it isn’t really a verb…creative license! So all the Freelance (adjective) Writers (noun–no apostrophe) Den (verb) at the FWD! If FWD is read that way, then Writers would have no apostrophe.

    Hmm, the more I think of it, I like Writers without the apostrophe. Like someone else said, it looks crisp and clean. And I like that it matches the URL.

    You don’t have to decide about this today, so if I were you, I would sleep on it and give yourself a little time and space to mull it over a bit. That little voice, your intuition, will tell you which way to go. You’ll know and will get that inner “yes” when you’ve landed on the best choice.

    Whenever I need to decide something and keep going back and forth or don’t sense a definitive answer one way or the way, I know I haven’t yet decided for sure. And I know I need to let things simmer some more.

    Whatever you decide, I’m sure FWD will be a great community! Hey, how about this for a community name, LOL:
    Apostrophes Or Not
    @ apostrophesornot.com

    🙂
    Judy

    • Carol Tice says:

      Har.

      I think you and Susan have swung me back toward my original idea. I feel set free by the knowledge that headlines and titles don’t have to conform to these grammar rules.

  11. Sharon Kay says:

    Freelance Writers Den (no apostrophe for reasons already posted)
    If you’re Den Mother, we get to be Denizens, right?

  12. I hope I’m not too late for pitching in my comment. I realized that my long absence from Make A Living would cause me a lot of reading posts and comments. From SEO point of view, having an apostrophe would result into getting your links truncated. I would choose to consider “Freelance Writers” acting as modifier of “Den”, whether it’s grammatically correct or wrong, the popularity and acceptability of the person and people behind it matters more. Well, I look forward to hanging out in the “Den” with or without the “Writers” apostrophe.
    Jonan Castillon recently posted…Kayaking at the Katahum Tibiao River RapidsMy Profile

  13. Susan says:

    Like Christy, I have no problem with the lack of apostrophe. The Fellowship of Australian Writers has a bulletin called Writers Voice (no apostrophe), and they have been in existence since 1928. I think if anyone could be bothered digging deep enough into ‘Advanced Rules for using Apostrophes’, it would be found that for headlines/banners/titles one can choose to have or not to have (with apologies to W.Shakespeare). Anyway, good luck with the new venture, it sounds great.

  14. Di Mace says:

    Kudos to you for wanting to create something that supports nurtures and develops like this is obviously planned to do. And even bigger kudos to your clever hubby – that is an awesome name as far as branding, positioning and long term development of a community.
    Personally, as a long term marketer and branding gal, I think you are over intellectualising the name/grammar aspect. As an editor I respect your worries about writers being put off by the apostrophe placement and or it being MIA…but I think other important aspects are being overlooked for the sake of grammar.
    You are creating a brand, so think in terms of that. Creating a brand perception requires intrusion. You’re brand (with all its faces or aspects) must be powerful enough (I didn’t say it had to be right or wrong, that is up to the person to judge and discomfort sometimes breeds more cut-thru) to force them out of their routine.
    A brand is your impression, the mindshare you occupy in a customer’s mind, and how that will best help you reach your goals and serve your audience. You want to be memorable as a brand, and that does not mean it needs to be grammatically correct, as discord can often increase memorability….
    It seems both ‘s and s’ is dividing your community already, so you’re not going to please everyone, either way. So, maybe standing out is the right thing to do? So look at it selfishly from the brand viewpoint. What does the brand want to ‘achieve,’ rather than please. Both apostrophe usages convey very different ownership feelings a) ‘s = individual ownership and the den mother being in charge, or b) a community. The technicality of the correct grammar I think is irrelevant in this case, as both are applicable and correct – for their various meanings. But for branding I’d go with Writers. Its clean, still means multiple people and no one possesses it, and it’s still a community – egalitarian almost. And it matches your URL. Be consistent, that is the mantra in marketing.
    Now, for your posts. Well that goes back to the creation of your product. Think of any other product on a shelf. Do you see them taking away access to various product benefits just because they are bringing out another version? No. Your base product is your anchor point. Build on that. You are now creating what a mrketer woudl call, a line extension if you will. You can add as many promo messages (to the old posts) as you want to leverage the purchase of your new line extension, but if you take away your anchor product, you are eroding your foundations. And buildings fall down because of that.
    Hope some of that helped! Or not……
    Di Mace recently posted…Superhero- super speed marketing plans 2My Profile

  15. Hi Carol,

    I have no problem with Freelance Writers Den. It’s grammatically correct in the sense that it’s the den where freelance writers gather, not just the den belonging to freelance writers. (While one or many writers may gather there, it’s still your den.) Other organizations do this, including the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and many writers conferences, and I don’t think anyone makes a fuss (do they?). If we really want to get down to the nitty gritty, the Chicago Manual of Style says it’s fine to dispense with the apostrophe in a proper name (as in Diners Club) even when it could be considered a possessive. I’m in the middle of editing two book-length manuscripts for clients, so please forgive my high-gear editing mode.

    You could also go more old school and call it Den of Writers…

    As for the website, I vote for whatever is simplest. I don’t like sites where I have to remember whether something has a hyphen and where the hyphen is.

    Thanks for doing this, and let me know if you need any help. I look forward to following your progress!

    Christy

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well now you have me swinging back toward the idea of Freelance Writers Den. It is simpler. I gather it would offend some though! But your Pacific NW Writers Association example is interesting to me, as that to me seems similar.

      It’s amazing how much lively discussion we’ve been able to have today about an apostrophe! Definitely a first for this blog.

  16. PatriciaW says:

    Please, no more bootcamps. They don’t sound very fun or welcoming, although I’m sure many of them are.

    Most folks writing online know and understand the apostrophe thing, I think. Still, I like “Freelance Writers’ Den” as I envision many of us lounging, sharing, learning, etc. The den belongs to us all, although you will absolutely be The Den Mother.

    I can see artwork with bookshelves, a comfy couch where a group of writers (clear from their laptops and notebooks) are chatting, maybe a writer sitting nearby reading, and a few desks off to the far side for those who are hard at work (and not hindered by everything else going on in the room).
    PatriciaW recently posted…2011 Summer Reading RecommendationsMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Unfortunately, graphics are tough to make that complicated…you’re actually looking at the initial logo there, just the wording is left to do.

      I think Freelance Writers’ Den is what it’s going to be.

  17. Elle B says:

    I don’t think the apostrophe matters so much these days, especially with branding and URLs. That being said, I prefer Freelance Writer’s Den on principle 🙂
    Elle B recently posted…14 Free Books By Literary Late BloomersMy Profile

  18. No apostrophes would bug me. I like The Freelance Writers’ Den. And, like others, I love the word “den.”

  19. It seems there is a need for this forum. 66 replies and it is only noon. Lots of great ideas coming through. I would caution on doing too much too fast. Start with two or three forums and see how much chaos that creates. It is a “build it and they will come” type scenario. I would let it grow organically. Let the members drive the content and direction. My two cents.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I actually want to open it with a bang with a lot on offer in there, not just forums. I know Kitchen Table Companies just opened like that and did well, with only forums. But I want MORE.

      But in a way I won’t DO much more, as I’m already putting on weekly live events now. It’s more a question of it being better organized. So that will just transfer inside the community. I already answer a lot of questions…I’ll just do that on private messages inside the community, in a more organized way.

      And finally, all my blog information will be organized by topic themes and combined with all the previous webinars and teleclasses to form subject courseware, which will be a HUGE convenience over trolling the blog trying to find something out. I’m REALLY excited to be pulling that together — just starting to categorize and organize that material now, and it’s going to be great.

  20. Karen says:

    I’m pedantic about grammar so I like The Freelance Writers’ Den. Love the word den and all its connotations.

    Personally, I’d like to think that a lot of the stuff available to members would also be available to non members, at a price. A lot of people, for example, might find a particular webinar useful, but wouldn’t want to pay the membership price every month, so maybe things like webinars, coaching sessions etc could be available on a pay-as-you-go basis, but available free to members. That way the membership is excellent value to those who will use all the services, but there is still an option for writers who just want to access some of it. It’s a complicated project, and I don’t envy you putting it all together, but I’m sure the end result will be fantastic.
    Karen recently posted…Free Ebooks for Writers and BloggersMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Yeah, that’s the way NAIWE does it, you can come on their teleclasses for $17 or they’re free to members. I’ll probably still offer the pay option — but the big bonus is, I won’t promote it. I’ll just promote the Den, and everyone in the Den will be affiliate selling and promoting it as well, so it should mean less marketing by me and more time delivering the earning knowledge 🙂

  21. John Soares says:

    Carol, I salute your energy and entrepreneurial spirit. Here are 4 suggestions:

    1. Consider making your weekly Q and A teleseminar part of the membership site, perhaps after a couple of months or so…
    2. Offering a discount on coaching may help bring in members.
    3. Have your webinars be free for members.
    4. Consider having one or more partners to help with the forums and content creation.

    Good luck with it!
    John Soares recently posted…How to Make the Most of an Online Conference- Course- or SeminarMy Profile

  22. Janet says:

    I love the name-if you must do an apostrophe, and I’m not sure the grammar gods will get you for this one- I prefer the s’. Best of luck-you do a great job!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well either writer’s or writers’ could be correct, depending on what I want to convey. It seems like I need to do one or the other as there’s a portion of writers who will be put off if there’s none. I’m kind of torn which one to use! I like writer’s — because of the relatability. Then you go -oh, that’s me, I’m a writer! This is my Den! But maybe writers’ is better because then it feels like, “Oh, a bunch of writers are hanging out here!”

  23. Jebra Turner says:

    Carol, I love your den idea and don’t actually care what you call it. In fact, when you brought up the apostrophe issue it gave me such a headache. A stickler for correctness, I’m not.

    Also, as a long-time marketer, I disagree that you’re not good at branding. You’re excellent at communicating your brand! I have a real sense of who you are and what you offer, and I’m happy to pay you for what you’ve freely given.

    I don’t like the idea of blocking off old content though. If what you’ve already written is the best you’ve got, then as someone who’s read all the old posts, why would I want to pay for a membership site? I’m expecting fresh ideas that will be even more useful, relevant and exciting, that’s why.

    Thanks for your positivity, Carol! It’s much appreciated.

  24. Debra Weiss says:

    I think you’re overthinking the apostrophe issue. As a web designer, I’ve seen a lot of clients get bogged down in little details. Frankly, it doesn’t matter how you punctuate because people will type every variation into search engines. They’ll also misspell it in emails and forum posts anyway. One apostrophe will not make or break your website. What you have to do is figure out which version of the name you like best.

    I’m also against the old posts being closed off. I always feel cheated when a blog owner does that, especially when I’ve read and supported that blogger for months or even years in some cases.

    All that said, your site is terrific and I read it every day. I’m looking forward to the opening of the forum!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Yeah, I’m feeling the hate about pay for posts! Think we’re not going there.

      You make a good point about everyone misspelling it anyway! I have it as Freelance Writers Den right now, a la International Freelancers Academy.

      Going to think on that one more and see what I think. I feel like Writers’ Den is the one most people like, and it’s just a little keystroke extra there…as you say many will probably ignore it anyway.

  25. Nicola Parry says:

    Love your site! Just came across it today – heaps of great information for any writer, and especially the freelance folk. I like “Freelance Writer’s Den” – I think that “writer’s” personalizes the concept for the member, while at the same time, “den” makes it social too!
    Nicola Parry recently posted…Advancements in OrthopaedicsMy Profile

  26. Tom Bentley says:

    Carol, I think the apostrophe issue isn’t really an issue. If it’s a group organized (owned, possessed) by writers, then it is a possessive. But if it’s used as an adjective (a plurality of writers) then no apostrophe is needed. I’m actually editing listings of writing conferences now, and it’s interesting to note how many organizations use the apostrophe in their use of “Writers” and how many don’t. (The majority don’t.)

    Of course, making it the “Writer’s Den” seems to solve the problem anyway…

  27. Carol Tice says:

    What if the old posts simply got a pitch to join added at the end? Maybe another option. Or I go back and add the signup banner to the bottom.

    I personally like the idea of herding them into the one-week free trial…but appreciate some feedback.

    • Carol,

      Here’s an idea: rather than roping off the content or giving a free trial, why not keep the posts free, but also package them into a low cost e-book or special report?

      While new readers could still take a deep dive into your site – a trip that would take considerable time – you could save them hours with an instant brain dump of your fantastic information.

      That way, readers could still find the information, but your new package could generate some revenue – a win for everyone.

      Reading a blog and all post comments can take a considerable time – I know I’ve spent way too much time on several sites plowing through “evergreen” information and into the comments of others. Gaining access to the great information instantly is well worth a small price to save me time.
      M. Sharon Baker recently posted…What Should You Write About Five Blog Post and Website Content Ideas to ExploreMy Profile

    • Tracy Parker says:

      Carol,

      I am embarrassed to say that I am so bad with grammar that I would not have noticed the difference regarding where the apostrophe was placed in the name The Freelance Writer’s Den or Freelance Writers’ Den. What got me immediately was the name. It is perfect…cozy, inviting–it sounds like place to learn and to make new friends.

      I like the idea of the soft-pitch to join the community at the end of your older posts. I would outline the benefits of joining the community, as you do so well with your other products. I think that move would be less off-putting than locking down content that was previously free.

      Finally, I am soooooo excited about the Freelance Writer’s Blast Off seminar coming up. I look forward to learning and to finally getting my freelance writer career off the ground with the tips and support I’m sure the seminar will offer.

      p.s. Can’t wait to become a member of the community too!

      Tracy

      • Carol Tice says:

        Well, Blast-Off participants will be getting a free month in there, so you will be able to test drive it, no worries! Can’t wait to get that group-coaching course running…look forward to your participation.

  28. Jane says:

    I do not think the apostrophe issue matters. I agree with the folks who say the old posts should not be closed off. Keep up the good work and thanks!

  29. Kathy Davis says:

    Carol,

    Grammar rules should be broken when they stand in the way of common sense. However, here are some other suggestions for you to consider.

    “The Writing Den” or “The Freelance Writing Den”

  30. Carol Tice says:

    Interesting note — I see it’s International Freelancers Academy. No apostrophe.

    Meanwhile…could people please RT this? I’d like to get as much feedback as I can today.

  31. D Bianchi says:

    To me it doesn’t matter ‘s, s’, or none at all. More important to me is that there is plenty of good information and help. There are so many places online where you can get information – this one needs to be better (since we are paying for it). One on one help from professionals is great. The willingness to help from professionals is great. Love the webinars. Don’t like the idea of locking down archives.

  32. 1. Blast those possessives.
    The lack of an apostrophe won’t keep me from great content. Perhaps the lack of grammatical correctness (and your thoughts behind why it isn’t grammatically correct) could be used FOR you. You are about being real. And successful. Even as a less than perfect person. So maybe, Freelance Writers Den offers just those things and you can write a brief explanation in the bio. Because as a writer, it could be one of my first questions. But give me a reasonable answer and I’m fine with it.

    2. Locking down content.
    As a fairly new reader, I have scoured your archives. The richness of them make me want to be in your “club” (and thank you so much for not calling it a club). I doubt you have written your last piece of wisdom. The quality of your older posts continue will continue to drive writers like me to the Den. My vote would be No. Do not lock your older content.

  33. Gabi says:

    Hi Carol,

    I am a long time lurker (if you are familiar with Havi Brooks terminology), but I really wanted to weigh in on your new community.

    Regarding the name, I cast my vote for Writers’..if for no other reason than it looks nicer and is easier to remember.

    I generally find 50% or so of the new content on your blog interesting, thought-provoking, and useful, but I’ve also noticed that nearly every recent post is actually related to/a pitch to sell a product. If you look at the Copyblogger example of the content marketing model, I believe they aim for more of a four out of five or nine out of ten approach, which comes off as far more helpful and informational than salesy. To take a highly successful individual example (since they have a lot of writers in their den over at Copyblogger), Havi Brooks sells in an off-handed way, like she is just letting people know, while creating a highly specific community for her followers.

    I am hoping that with your new den, since people are already paying to be there, your content can be more along the lines of the Copyblogger percentage, with the personality quotient Havi brings. It would be wonderful to see you in a more personal vein, as I feel that you pull back the curtains on a lot of your business in the blog, but not too much else about yourself.

    I apologize for the somewhat off-topic critique, but I was truly disgusted with a lot of the behind the scene practices at the A List Bloggers Club (not giving credit where credit was due, bulldozing forward with new ideas too quickly, not laying out basic guides and welcome mechanisms until members begged for them, claiming to be “small” and “exclusive” while driving membership into the high hundreds for revenue’s sake), and I hope that your community can evade those issues and be a truly comfortable and welcoming space.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Gabi —

      Exactly what I’m talking about above with the marketing ratio. To do the one-off paid Webinar model I’m doing now takes a lot of marketing. I am hoping to be able to dial it all way down and maybe do one post a week that relates to the Den, and that’s it.

  34. My two cents: I like the Freelance Writers’ Den. It’s specific (freelance writers as opposed to book authors), illustrative of a community (writers’ versus writer’s) and grammatically correct (which a writer’s site should be).

    I look forward to test-driving whatever site you ultimately create. Very exciting. Happy planning!

    • Carol Tice says:

      It seems like Writers’ Den is the leading choice of how to do it…leaning that direction.

      I definitely feel like having a non-grammatical title for a writers’ community is a problem!

  35. Barbara Drewry says:

    Carol –

    I recently discovered your site and have been enjoying it. Thank you so much! 🙂

    My suggestion is to go with Freelance Writers’ Den. I am one of those people who tends to be very fussy about avoiding grammatical errors, and especially in a site BY and FOR writers, it does not seem like a good idea to deliberately include an error. I personally, if I bumped into it while in search of a writing community, would be turned off by Freelance Writers Den (with NO apostrophe) and move on.

    I also like Freelance Writers’ Den better than Freelance Writer’s Den, as it seems to better promote the idea of community. :-):-):-) I, for one, am pretty isolated, and the sense of community that the plural form of Writers’ presents is very appealing.

    I, too, hope your new membership group is affordable. I would love to participate! 🙂

    All the best to you in your endeavors! 🙂

    Blessings –
    Barbara Drewry :-)PTL

  36. I have to agree with the majority that a general archive lockdown would probably create hard feelings–although perhaps not that many if it’s only the older archives, since few casual visitors will go back that far in any case. My suggestions:
    (1) Provide an all-posts-accessible option for first-time visitors.
    (2) Make sure you never include a link in a NEW post that will lead to a locked article.

    As for preferred names, I vote for “Writers’ Den” with “Writing Den” a close second. “Writer’s Den,” being singular, risks sounding as if you plan to do all the talking.
    Katherine Swarts recently posted…Utter DespairMy Profile

  37. Honestly, I don’t believe the name is that big of an issue. With or without an apostrophe writers will sign-up. I belong to a board called ifish and I really like the sense of community it brings. I believe this board will do the same thing. Your workload will increase, and make sure you have some people you can count on to be moderators. Even great people like writers have disagreements from time to time. I also suggest keeping it affordable, because the very people you want involved will have the least amount of money in the bank. Thank you Carol for taking this on. It is a great idea and I would be willing to do any volunteer efforts you need.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Oh yeah — did I mention I’ll be looking for a few good moderators who’ll get to hang out free? Not sure how other communities do it, but I think the worker bees get a free ticket. Probably also someone to coordinate the welcome wagon and reach out to new members…so probably 4 people. Definitely taking applications from experienced freelance writers who could fill in and offer some tips.

  38. Martine says:

    I like the Freelance Writers’ Den. Don’t think it’s a big problem in the url. Quebec Writers’ Federation does the same, but with qwf.org as their web address. Definitely better to keep the apostrophe rather than consciously going for grammatical errors.

    Agreeing with the suggestion for warm colours for the Den.

    I’m not sure if I’d want you to lock down the old content. It sounds like a better advertisement for your site if you show people the awesome stuff you’ve done in the past. Makes them want to come see what you’re currently doing.

    keep up the good work! I can’t wait to see what the site’s gonna look like. 🙂

  39. This membership plan is sounding more and more exciting.

    My first thought was to make it “The Freelance Writing Den: the hang out for serious writers” so I’m glad some other people agree.

    A few thoughts about branding:

    – use warm colors since dens are enclosed and comforting
    – the word den has a secrecy connection, so maybe use that

    As for locking down older posts, I think that’s a great idea because non-members still get info and you’ll get more chances to convert them to members.

    Hope these thoughts help, Carol.

  40. Vonda Skelton has a blog called The Christian Writer’s Den, and she uses the apostrophe as I’ve shown. Am not sure if it matters to you that someone else has a similar name but thought I’d bring it to your attention.
    Cheryl Barker recently posted…Debt of LoveMy Profile

  41. CJ says:

    Hi Carol – I think that Freelance Writers Den works as a URL and as a title; you can add the requisite apostrophe in the page itself. I prefer the notion of ‘writers’ rather than a writer’s den. The collective concept is what we are looking for.

    Also, I agree with everyone else that locking down old content is a bad idea. I came across your site by googling ‘content farms’ and I fell upon your old content on this topic, read it all, and have kept coming back. Your excellent older copy is a hook to new readers. Your excellent current copy is a hook to new members. You can get both if you continue to make your content free to all.

  42. Hi, Carol.
    I only recently found your site/blog and have been enjoying the information presented in a warm, casual (yet professional) way. I also learned a great deal from your call-in broadcast (which I can’t get live, but listened to later).

    As far as the name of your new site, I’m a stickler for grammar, so I would prefer the ‘s. I think most people know not to include these when typing in a URL, so I think it’s ok to have the ‘s in the actual name (The Freelance Writers’ Den). I like vonnie’s notion that the THE is important for branding purposes.

    Please keep the archives free! At this point I’m not sure if I’d be able to become a member, so I’d like to have access to your past articles; I have a lot of catching up to do! One option (which some newspaper and magazine sites do) is to have current articles available only to paying members, and then “release’ them after a period of time (30 days, 60 days?).

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment. Good luck with your new site. I look forward to learning more and interacting with other freelance writers.

    Wendy
    @wscalfaro
    Wendy Scalfaro recently posted…Finding Your Muse at Garage SalesMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Interesting idea! But I think the fresh posts need to be available to all.

      Leaning toward maybe just locking up a handful of most popular older posts, and driving it to a free trial subscription. You still pay nothing and get to read it…and you also get a look around at what we’re cooking up in the Den, which is what I want, since I feel like once people see how much information and access to a pro to answer their questions it has, they’re going to want to be in it.

  43. That’s hang out – although I’ll take hand outs too. 🙂 And it’s – could you just correct those – it is too early for me…..
    M. Sharon Baker recently posted…What Should You Write About Five Blog Post and Website Content Ideas to ExploreMy Profile

  44. Hi Carol,

    I’ll be the contrarian – I like Freelance Writer’s Den – it sounds like the actual place freelance writers go to hang out. It does not mean singular writer to me, and the connotation I get is club and great place to hand out and learn.

    I’d like to suggest trying some SEO to see what pulls best. I’d stay away from Writing as I think that may be so generic that it would be hard to rank high.

    The logo works as long as you have your title included. As a standalone it doesn’t convey “freelance writing.” It feels like “novel writing.” I know its very hard to convey freelance writing, so I like the den-ish feel.

    As for the post lock down – I’d feel very disappointed if I was a new user of your site and I was looking around and found some posts locked. It would turn me off and send me away – especially if there was a pop up or message that I could join your club if I wanted to see the post.

    My two cents. Hope that helps!

    Great idea and I wish you the best of luck!

    • Carol Tice says:

      I’m with you — think reading these comments I’m leaning toward Writer’s Den for the official name and logo, and freelancewritersden is the URL.

      And typos are always overlooked here on the blog comments!

  45. Elizabeth says:

    The Writer’s Den. Singular possessive because the den belongs to the writer. Would LOVE an invitation to this group. I have benefited so much from your advice.

    Thanks!

  46. Ronald Sieber says:

    Carol:

    I like the Den idea and you being a Den Mother sort of brings back fond memories of my cub scout days.

    Paul Wolfe’s (suggested) hyphenated URL is easy to read/write (freelance-writers-den), and I like the idea of dropping the apostrophe for KIS reasons. That’s my vote!

    BTW: can we all call you Mother? :]

    ronald sieber

    • Carol Tice says:

      As soon as I realized I could be the Den Mother is when I knew this was the right concept for the community I wanted to create. Doesn’t that just rock! I AM a mom of three…and it just seemed to fit the tone of how I want people to view me. I’m not your guru, it’s not a cult…but I’m here to love and support you and show you how to make more money as a writer. Just like you learned skills and got badges in Cub Scouts…(or in my case, many, many years of Girl Scouts).

      HEY WAIT A MINUTE! Maybe we’ll do some classes where everyone who participated GETS A BADGE. With a little symbol on it.

      And then it stays on their profile so when they comment in forums people can see what courses they’ve already been through??? I LOVE THAT IDEA. Going to talk to my Webmaster about how to pull that off.

      What do you think?

  47. Carol:

    I don’t think the apostrophe matters at all. This is really exciting — mostly for your readers — because I just know it will be topnotch.

    I don’t know about locking up your old stuff. It may include some really good stuff that prompts people to say — I want to get closer to her.

    I guess I would have to hear more about what the advantages/disadvantages would be. Frankly, you could have it both places… I don’t think most people really go digging too deep in the archives…but it would be good to keep it up for SEO..and so newbies can find you.

    You rock.

    Amy

  48. Helen Page says:

    One more thing. I love your library photo, but I’m not sure it conveys the idea of freelance writing as a career, or a profitable enterprise, which is what you are selling. To me it says literary, writing, reading. Just a thought.
    Helen Page recently posted…How easy is it for you to promote yourselfMy Profile

  49. vonnie says:

    Oh and I love that picture. You need to keep that graphic for THE den – lol.
    vonnie recently posted…My latest article – published on EmpowherMy Profile

  50. vonnie says:

    You could name it “Freelance Writing Den” for the correct url, then use ‘where freelance writers hang out’ or something like that for the tag line. Or how about “The Freelance Writing Den”? That way people will think this is “THE” place to hang out if you are a freelance writer. : )
    vonnie recently posted…My latest article – published on EmpowherMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      I’m down on writing vs writer — it’s an activity vs a person, and I also think it might seem too much like a would-be novelists workshop or something…and then there’s the Google angle, which doesn’t support writing either. I wished I could make it writing because it so artfully solves the grammar issue…but I think it doesn’t work as well as a name.

  51. Kymlee says:

    So many great ideas here in the comments. I think when it comes to urls grammar is secondary to picking a good one. You can always make the site name grammatically correct. Someone suggested “The Writing Den,” I like that except that it sounds more like a place to write than a place to get tips and tools on building a freelance writing business. So far my favorite is Freelance Writers’ Den.
    Kymlee recently posted…And So Summer Begins…My Profile

  52. I second Paul – I like “Freelance Writing Den.” It solves the pesky punctuation issue and also refers to doing something in the den. More writing! Would LOVE love love love, did I mention love? to be involved. So sick of boring news and requests to buy another book on how to write instead of actual tips for doing it, examples, discussion and collaboration!
    Michelle Tackabery recently posted…Children were dying thenMy Profile

  53. Judy says:

    Hi Carol,

    Too funny–I’ve been meaning to send you an email, suggesting that you start a membership site for freelance writers. I missed the survey when you sent it out, so this is the first time I’ve heard about your wonderful new membership site.

    Could you use
    Writers’
    on the actual site, and
    writers (no apostrophe)
    in the URL? Or do the URL and actual site need to perfectly match each other?

    The “Den” name, with all its implications, is great. Kudos to your clever husband for thinking of that.

    I love that photo–the bookshelves, lamp, chair, colors, warm feel. Looks like a place I’d enjoy as my office…and a perfect spot to spend some time with other freelancers.

    Looking forward to hearing more about the new site as things unfold! I’m sure it’ll be an enjoyable resource, refuge, and community for many freelancers.

    Judy

    • Carol Tice says:

      Sure, the URL and name don’t have to match exactly, but I think it’s a real good idea if they do. Yet A List Blogger Club still has the URL AListBloggingBootcamps and they seem to be doing just fine.

      Don’t you just love that photo? Talented DH did some styling on it and I am just in love with how that looks — that image really conveys what I want the community to be — warm, comfortable, welcoming, supportive, inviting…and a place to learn. As soon as I saw it was like, “THAT’S IT!!!”

  54. I have to say that I really like the idea of Freelance Writers’ Den – it really has a lovely ring to it.

    As a brand name it conjures up all the right images – cosy, friendly guidance, non threatening environment.

    The fact that you cannot translate the exact name to the url really doesn’t matter.

    I’m looking forward to see how this progresses as the Q&A session doesn’t fit into my schedule but the information is all really interesting, it would be great to gain access to all of your content.

  55. Melody says:

    I’m going to have to agree with Barbara and Sarah on this one. 🙂 Personally I like the s’. If you decided to go without the ‘, I do not think that the lack of apostrophe would turn anyone away. Well, I do not think that it would turn away anyone who is online and understands the URL rules. Plus, there is nothing more frustrating that having a site called one thing and the URL being something entirely different. So, to sum up my $0.02, due to the URL rules and the name being the URL minus the ‘, I do not believe it would make a difference one way or the other if you decide to use it or not in the name.

    In regards to locking down older posts on a free site that were previously accessible to all, well, that sort of thing just sort of rubs me the wrong way. I realize that it is an incentive for people to join a new site, but at the same time it makes it seem like those who do not, or cannot join for whatever reason, are just plain out of luck and screwed… Honestly, in my humble opinion, it comes off as being pretentious. Please do not take that personally, I’ve just been a member of too many sites that suddenly get a new site, or hit a certain membership/reader/follower level, and bam!, articles you like are moved into a members only zone, certain aspects of a site that you like you can only access once you pay, and so on. The only time I agree with that is when it is understood when you sign up that it is free only for a limited time. Other than that, I say nope, no way, not fair.

    I know I’m looking forward to the new site! I’m interested in learning about the membership fees / monthly cost to join. Just keeping my fingers crossed that it is something I can afford. While writing is still paying off (I’m one of the lucky ones that the economy has not affected my writing income), hubby has only worked 3 months out of the past 2 years… As I’m sure many others feel the same pain. With thousands of government workers going to be laid off in the next couple months, I still do not see things getting better yet…
    Melody recently posted…Blueberries- Blackberries and GrapesMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      No — totally appreciate your honesty, Melody.

      I’m seeing a LOT of negative feedback on here about closing off old posts.

      There’s some changes coming to the free-content world, though, that not everyone may be aware of. Some sites are going to a micropayment model, where you can read the top of many articles and then have to pay $.99 to read the whole thing.

      I explored that and decided I didn’t like it — too nickel-and-dimey and annoying. I know that people come on here and read through my back posts like a novel, think how annoying that would be to have to stop and enter another payment every time! That’s actually what got me thinking about the membership, one-payment-a-month-and-you’re-done idea.

      One possibility is that I might lock down just 5 or 10 of my most popular older posts — think How I Make $5,000 a Month as a Paid Blogger…I have a few that have stayed very high-traffic that are quite old.

      And then, to read it, you’d just have to sign up for a one-week, FREE trial subscription to the Den.

      What do you think of that idea???

      • Melody says:

        That idea is not bad! A free trial week will give most people enough time to visit the new site, determine if there will be enough quality content for their liking to go ahead and pay for the site access along with the old posts.
        It’s kind of a toss up on the direction things are going. I hear many people talking about how free content is going away, but then again, I hear just as many mention the economy and without a light at the end of the tunnel still, ppv sites are going to be pushed under the bus. I have not looked into this personally as I have no plans to launch a ppv site anytime soon.
        I wish you all the best with the new site! It is always such an exciting, yet stressful, time. 🙂 Considering the high quality of all your content, I’m sure it will be a big hit!
        Melody recently posted…Blueberries- Blackberries and GrapesMy Profile

      • Melody says:

        Ewww, I stumbled upon a site that had those micro-payments. YUCK! I’m glad you’re not considering that method. That is just outrageous. Imagine, if you get hooked on one of those sites, sit there and read 40 articles, that’s almost $40! Not for me. I’m surprised that sites that do that are still alive and in the black.

        Then again, if most of a site is kept free and there are only some articles that are excellent and chock full of good info that are like that, I would actually consider paying to read the few.

        That could end up to be a billing / accounting nightmare though.

        Good luck! and enjoy your day.
        Melody recently posted…Blueberries- Blackberries and GrapesMy Profile

        • Carol Tice says:

          Yeah, I’ve been on one too. At first I thought wow, this could be a money machine…but the amounts are so tiny — and the companies that collect them charge big fees, so it’s even tinier. And ultimately, I thought it would be so annoying. I’d rather have one monthly fee club where you get a lot of extra stuff, live calls, support and help, I decided.

          Basically rather than micropayments or blocking old posts off to members only, I’m going to add value to the old posts by organizing them within the membership club. So essentially you’ll be able to take a mini-self-study class in negotiating rates, as all those posts and webinars that talk about it and all will be right together. As the blogroll gets longer and longer, I think this is going to be increasingly valuable, rather than hunting around for the best post I have about move-up markets or best places to break in or whatever.

  56. Julie says:

    Hi Carol,
    I have been enjoying your posts for a couple of months now and appreciate your insights. I like the idea of the writing community. For branding, I like the suggestion of The Freelance Writing Den. While I like the sense of using Writers’ because it gives the idea of possession, the apostrophe is really awkward both for domain name purposes and the graphic look and feel of the title itself. The Freelance Writing Den sounds like a destination to me which seems like a place I can go to hang out with other writers.

    Whichever name you choose, I like the idea and would like to be part of the community!

    Thanks,
    Julie

  57. Helen Page says:

    What about Freelance Writing Den? Freelance Writing Group?
    Helen Page recently posted…How easy is it for you to promote yourselfMy Profile

  58. A eggshell WHITE room with all contents white (on one side) and a traditional rich person’s library.

  59. I like the DEN idea. I don’t think an apostrophe is a big deal here – it wouldn’t bother me to not see one.
    Karen S. Elliott recently posted…A surprisingly simple way to keep track of your charactersMy Profile

  60. Diana says:

    I like it without the apostrophe–even though it’s not grammatically correct. It sounds like the perfect place for writers, cozy and welcoming.
    But I don’t like the idea of locking out content that has already been published for free. It seems like taking something back, and I don’t think it will generate much revenue or goodwill (but I might be wrong).
    Instead, I think monetizing your Webinars and events, and your services of course, is the best way to go.
    You offer wonderful ideas and content. That sells itself. All the best to you, Carol.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well, the idea here is that instead of hawking $36 Webinars every month, the Webinars would be FREE TO MEMBERS who pay $25 a month, and get a long list of things, so it delivers way more value than the $36 Webinar thing did.

      If people wanted to just pay $36 for the Webinar and not join they could…but why would you? I’m hoping to drive everything into the community. It means a lot less marketing for me and a lot more time answering freelance writers’ questions and helping them earn more.

      Instead of one hour with me for $36, for $25 you’d get:

      • a weekly live call plus a one-hour full-on Webinar presentation, every month. (I’ll hold one free-to-all Free-for-All call a month, and the rest of the calls will become Den Meetings.)
      • Office Hours with the Den Mother where I privately respond to your questions twice a week on email.
      • PLUS all the previous Webinar and teleclass recordings and handouts
      • AND all my blog content from both this blog and 40+ posts from my stint as perpetual guest at WM Freelance Writer’s Community, organized into theme topics for ease of study.

      The whole reason I’m cooking this community up is I want to deliver more, more, more value for the money, AND make it more affordable for people to come to the Webinars. So that’s what’s driving this.

      Whaddaya think?

      • Carol Tice says:

        Also, there’ll be all kinds of bargain deals, especially as I prepare to launch, that will bring that $25-a-month price down. Probably 2 for 1 at launch. Then a discount if you buy 3 mos at once, and more if you buy a year.

        And of course the chance to affiliate sell the Den and earn your monthly fee back in commissions. That’s what I’ve loved about A-List — I’ve made way more hanging out in there than the cost of belonging! Hopefully writers could do that in the Den as well.

    • Deborah says:

      Wow. I was with you right up to the point where you said you would be locking out previously available content.

      One of the things we preach to our clients: You can never take back what you give or promise. You can always add new stuff, new features, new bells and whistles, new whatever. But the moment you start to take away, bad feelings erupt and your credibility sinks.

      In an online market, “trust” is your most important asset. You have to be careful how you do this, Carol. It’s all well and good to want to make money, but if you get tightfisted with the stuff you’ve been giving away for free, it’ll leave a funny aftertaste.

      On a minor note, if you rope off your most popular articles, you will be breaking hyperlinks—all the blogs and posts where others sing your praises and point to your articles. That’s free advertising. Gone.

      • Carol Tice says:

        Ooooh…good point there about the links. I’m really appreciating the feedback about locking out old posts. Probably I’ll just go back and add promo banners to them.

        • Rosie Taylor says:

          I would agree that putting promo boxes on those popular posts is a better way to raise awareness for your new venture. The people who are already members will be getting so much benefit already and they won’t feel like you’re just recycling content.
          Rosie Taylor recently posted…trust 30 Post- Afraid to DoMy Profile

  61. Hi Carol,

    Ah, yes, branding, taglines and how web-site names look in URL – I’ve been through that lately with my writer’s site – http://www.justineickes.com – and my blog – http://www.cultureeveryday.com.

    How about The Writing Den – Where freelancers come to hang out? or
    The Freelance Den – Where writers come to hang out?
    or “Cozy up with your colleagues in The Freelance Writing Den”

    Just food-for-thought

    • Carol Tice says:

      I worry Writing Den sounds like book authors.

      And Freelance Den could be graphic designers, business consultants or whatever. I feel like the Wealthy Freelancer people have this niche covered with their International Freelancers Academy, while that name obviously has a very different feel to it.

      So Freelance AND Writer (in some form) I think need to be in there.

  62. Bob says:

    Looking forward to reserving a spot on one of the comfortable couches in the Den.

  63. Sarah says:

    I agree with Barbara – I like Freelance Writers’ Den. The s’ makes it clear that it’s for a bunch of us, not just one of us. Most of all, though, thank you for such a wonderful idea!
    Sarah recently posted…How I Hit the JackpotMy Profile

  64. Barbara says:

    I like Freelance Writers’ Den. It sounds cozy, inclusive and intellectual. The sort of place I’d want to lounge. Well done!

    • Carol Tice says:

      I think if I get enough negative feedback on Writers Den with no apostrophe I’d probably go to writer’s. Because it’s individual — this den is for YOU, writer. Rather than, a bunch of other writers are hanging around in there… writers’.

      But it’s so hard to decide this stuff! Already have my URL because that won’t be changing, but need to decide on this name issue…really appreciating all the people giving feedback right off here!

  65. Paul Wolfe says:

    Carol

    What about Freelance Writing Den?

    That gets read of the apostrophe.
    Or you could use hyphens in a URL like this:

    http://www.freelance-writers-den

    Good luck.

    Paul
    Paul Wolfe recently posted…4 Reasons Why You Should Outline Your eBookMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      I like Writers rather than Writing. We won’t be sitting around writing novels. I like having the people in the title rather than the activity. Also if you do some key word research you’ll see freelance writer gets way more searches than freelance writing.

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "What Would the Ultimate Freelance Writer Community Look Like?"
  1. […] on.That’s why I’ve been working on some plans to make it comfy and welcoming in the Freelance Writers Den right from the start. Right now, I’m hoping to get the doors officially open on July 13.In […]

  2. […] make a post out of them later this month.Everyone who appears in that post will get a free month in The Freelance Writers Den. (Yep, sticking with no apostrophe. Sorry to all who’re disappointed.)One entry per person, […]