Clearing my name after being attacked on “The Rip Off Report”

My Rip-Off Report Rebuttal

I Googled myself tonight and found this.

Instead of using a website as obviously questionable as the Rip-Off Report, I figured I’d use my own website to issue a rebuttal to some online slander about me which is entirely untrue. It is clear to me as I read this that someone was merely taking details off my freelance writing resume on WriterHeather.com and stringing them together so that someone might actually believe “the facts check out” if they look up “Heather Larson” or “Freelance writer Heather Larson” after reading this silliness on the Rip Off Report.

I do not write books, nor have I ever. I attempted to write one once for a client who never paid, thus it didn’t work out. (More on that freelance writing assignment gone wrong below). I write SEO content and I write and edit news for broadcast, print, and online platforms. I also write and produce podcasts. But I do not, as a freelance writer, write books nor have I ever. And yes, I am also a disc jockey on the air at 98-7 The Peak in Phoenix, Arizona.

Let me go through this lie by lie to straighten it out.

First of all, I would never “brag” about my writing on the air at 98-7 The Peak. I keep the various companies I work for separate from each other while also separating my freelance work from those companies. I would also never look for clients on the Peak request lines. And if you hadn’t already guessed it, most people don’t hire writers by having their sons call radio station request lines.

I don’t have a high hourly rate nor do I have 9 years of book writing experience. I have no book writing experience and never do I even look for this kind of work. I’m doing SEO content writing right now for a client who already knows me. I haven’t been actively looking for freelance work in a while, although I am Googling myself before I start looking again. This has obviously proved to be a wise move!

I am not a Boston University graduate. I am in the middle ofcompleting my BLS and graduate in May of 2010 from Boston University, which I attend online from Phoenix. I never tell people I am a BU graduate and you will not find one credible piece of literature anywhere calling me that. Everyone who really knows me and has worked with me knows I am currently in the Executive Undergrad Completion Program online at Boston University’s Metropolitan College.

I have never charged anyone a retainer; my clients pay me once my work is completed, turned in, and invoiced to them. I shouldn’t even have to explain that one…

I have never “disappeared.” I have been in Phoenix for eight years working in the local media here. I’m pretty findable with my various websites, Twitter accounts, MySpace accounts, blogs, podcasts, LinkedIn, Facebook…need I go on? I’m an open book, probably too much in fact. I also have a good reputation with everyone who has ever worked with me. If you know anyone at a local radio station, go ahead and ask them about me. They probably know me or know someone who does and I’m sure they’ll give you a glowing review of me and my work. The Phoenix radio community is a tight knit family like that.

I don’t think I even need to dignify with comment the part about me thinking this person is a stalker for calling the radio station looking for me. Whoever wrote this has never called the radio station looking for me to my knowledge. They can only call the request line to get a hold of me as I am on the air and not working in the station’s business offices during the daytime. I do not have a phone number and extension at 98-7 The Peak that I can be reached at.

The comment about me being “busy doing work for Need-An-Article.com and CJD” is a complete lie and another set of details scammed off of my official website, WriterHeather.com. I was never “busy” at Need-An-Article, though I did work there writing SEO content during lean times as a freelance writer. I have done nothing “for CJD” since speaking at Barrow Neurological Institute in January of 2007 aside from blogging about a cureless and fatal disease that has killed two of my immediate family members since 2004. To create lies surrounding this is completely classless.

I have never in my lifetime plagiarized anything. I have been writing copious amounts of material since I was a little kid and have never been at a loss for words. Plagiarizing in the current age of the Internet in which we live and work is next to impossible with sites like Copyscape. Honesty is important, which is why you won’t find me ripping apart innocent and hardworking people online. I don’t hide online behind names like “LoriGardenBooks” or“Lorichildrensbooks.” I use my first and last name online because I have nothing to hide.

I have never threatened anyone or anyone’s son, and especially not with my SEO content writing expertise. I don’t do business with non-paying clients by threatening or name-calling and if you know me, you know it’s not only not my style but also not my personality. I’m also not “mental,” and would happily release any and all of my medical records; all you’ll find about me is I snapped an ankle ligament in half once and take prescription decongestant. I’ll pass any drug test and background check. I’ve passed an SEC background check for crying out loud. I’m one of the most honest people you will ever deal with – and my honesty is blunt at that. There isn’t a soul on this Earth I need to “leave alone” because I’m not harassing anyone.

The final paragraph is true only when it says I have no book writing experience. I addressed this above and I will say it again—I do not have any book writing experience nor do I claim that I do. I’ve been published in local and national magazines and a full list of where my work has been published is available on WriterHeather.com’s About Me page.

I have been sued once and the case was dismissed. It was brought against me by a client who actually owed me money. I had reported him to Angela Hoy of Writer’s Weekly.com and I’m sure the report is still up there to be read. He sued me for defamation of character in San Diego County—after I had signed a freelance contract to do work that was to be construed by the laws of the State of Arizona. He wanted me to write—you guessed it—a book despite the fact that I had no experience doing any book writing. Considering I only wrote a select few pages for this person before I realized he’d never pay, I certainly don’t count it as “book writing experience.” I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the same person trying to slam me on The Rip Off Report as this is the only person who I have had a bad experience with as a freelance writer. Then again, it could be a an ex-boyfriend.  Who knows?  If you hide behind online handles and don’t reveal your real name, no one knows who you are and your statements hold no credibility. If it is the person who attempted to sue me, he has a pretty hefty judgment against him in Arizona by another freelance writer he never paid. I was taken advantage of by this person at a time when I had only just begun working as a full-time freelance writer in 2006.

I, Heather Larson, do not have a journalism degree, nor do I claim that I have one. I have a certificate in journalism from Paradise Valley Community College and plenty of experience gained through working in print, broadcast, and online media.

Yes, I am still attending Boston University online. I am exactly halfway through the program. And yes, I write all my own stuff. I’ve even gotten A grades on some of it.

If I am being investigated for anything, I would love to hear about it and so would my lawyer. I would especially love to know if I am being investigated for embezzling money “from some CJD charity.” I’m not, of course. I have never even been involved in raising money for CJD charities. I volunteer my time by speaking at Barrow Neurological Institute with doctors from the CDC when invited and have only done that once. I also volunteer my time by raising awareness of CJD online on my websites and by networking with other CJD families from all over the world. I have been busy on occasion raising money for or volunteering my time for other local charities, but never busy enough to turn down work!

The Rip Off Report states that it does not release the names of people who write these reports on their website. This makes it very easy for someone to post anything they want without owning up to who they really are. You can go on the Rip OffReport and say whatever you want about Heather Larson or anyone else for that matter without revealing who you really are. So I don’t know who wrote this, but whoever it is should be a writer because they have very creative fiction skills. I am honest about who I am online and have courageously posted information like my resume and even my family history of fatal genetics.

I have never heard of a person named Lori who writes gardening or children’s books and none of her post is true, save for the part about me not being a book writer. That is something I have honestly never claimed to be.

I will close by saying I am Heather Larson, a freelance writer based in Phoenix, Arizona. If you have found your way to this posting and know me personally, feel free to leave a comment endorsing me in a positive light. (As if you haven’t already on LinkedIn). Please speak about my character and your experience in dealing with me on either a personal or professional level.

This post was originally pubished 10/20/2008 at 8:58 pm on blog.writerheather.com

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Quick tips for those new to freelancing online

I’ve been freelancing with not much more than a Macbook and a prayer for over two years now, however, it’s no longer a full-time gig for me.  I’m looking to get some good freelance gigs again, but they have to be right.  Since I work full-time as a digital editor for Westwood One Web, I have the luxury of being able to pick and choose gigs I’m crazy about instead of just taking whatever comes along that pays.  In the meantime, I’m most interested in creating my online brand so that it’s clear who I am, what I do, and what I’m after in my career.  If your business is right for me, I’m sure our paths will intercept somehow.  That’s my take now.  Know who you are, be clear and steady with what your personal brand is (mine is music/entertainment and hippy-oriented lifestyle stuff).  Be yourself 150% and the work will come to you.  That’s my first tip.

My second tip is Twitter.

My God, how I love this site.  If they ever make an IPO, I’m buying stock.  It is the next big thing.  I’ve been on it for a long time and follow 150 people or so.  This site is singularly responsible for connecting me with colleagues, other freelancers, journalists, the local Phoenix web community, old friends, and new friends.  I think it just may be the glue holding the Phoenix new media community together.  If you’re a freelancer, you have to be on here.  If you have a website to promote, you have to be on Twitter.  I’ve gotten more traffic to my sites from my Twitter followers than I have through SEO tricks.  Twitter works.  My Twitter followers will actually visit my blog if I ‘Tweet’ a link to them if they are interested enough.  I don’t want people to bother if they aren’t into what I’ve just blogged about.  Those who do visit from Twitter leave really good comments on my blogs.  I would post links to blogs on MySpace and never got the response I got from Twitter.  I think it’s because my ‘Tweeps’ and I share a more intimate day-to-day experience.  We also all happen to be social media whores who are way too interested in the ‘net and who would be more than happy to read one another’s daily blog posts just because that’s the type of geeks we are.
Avoid Craigslist

There are some legitimate employers on Craigslist but this site isn’t where it’s at for freelance gigs.  Use it at your own risk. It’s a site where I’ve had really good experiences as well as the worst ever experiences as a freelancer.  There is no middle ground.  My advice is to find connections through friends and colleagues over any job board.  Follow your interests; you’re likely to find the right obscure job board that fits your experience and passion in life.  If you find an unbeatable gig on Craigslist, just do your research on the company and person running it.
This post was originally published on blog.writerheather.com 9/24/08 at 5:35 pm

Recycling a blog post from last year about new media jobs

I published this on the original WriterHeather blog last year:

I’ve noticed quite often lately that all the cool writing and journalism jobs are in what we call “new media,” or working in the realm of the Internet.  The majority of new jobs listed on MediaBistro.com are in the new media category.  Yet a friend of mine did something I think is insane–he took his first job out of college in print media at a small, local paper.  On one hand, this could be his last chance to enjoy the print industry.  I think it’s dying or at least shrinking to the point where job competition will be fierce.  The jobs of the present and future for those of us who are writers and journalists will require skills like SEO/SEM, podcasting, blogging, social networking, and video editing.  Can you create original content that no one else is doing?  Do you offer something no one else can?  This is where the future is headed.  Are you able to navigate around various social networks?  Do you understand why this is valuable knowledge?  Only time will tell as to whether or not my friend made the right decision for his career.  I am interested to see where he goes once he feels it is time to move on from the print news job.  I’m sure the print sensibility he is gaining will be useful wherever he goes.  Meanwhile, I continue trying to bridge traditional broadcast media with the internet between my jobs at both Westwood One and Bonneville International.

Vindication:

I wrote this August 17, 2008. I think it is even more true nearly a year later. I think today we’re all either:

1. New media journalists

2. Learning to be new media journalists, or

3. Wanting to figure out how to be new media folk of any capacity

We’re basically trying to adapt. There are fewer jobs in the media than ever; I have more friends out of work than I can find work for. And the friend I wrote about last year? No longer at that paper…