My Top Ten List of Websites for Freelancing Productivity and Inspiration

Over the past several years as I’ve built up my writing business I’ve found a number of helpful online resources and have served either to help grow my business, give me inspiration or both. The following is a list of the top ten websites that have proven useful to me in my freelance writing career:

Getting new clients:

Kijiji.ca – I once had a business coach ask me how I went about getting new clients to write for. He seemed a bit surprised, when I told him that by far the most useful website has been Kijiji. I use the site both to post my own ads and well as to respond to job postings of those who are looking for writers. Since I can write for anyone anywhere in the world, I don’t limit myself to searching within my own city, but rather conduct searches on whole provinces at a time. At the moment, I don’t have any clients based in London, but have quite a few in the GTA.

Elance.com/Upwork.com – When I first started offering my services as a freelancer, I found several clients through Elance.com which is now becoming Upwork.com. This is a great resource, especially for a new freelancer to find work. While I still have one regular client that I work with through this format, I now primarily use it to hire other freelancers.

Freelancewritingjobs.ca – A job board for writers on which I occasionally find new clients.

Promotional:

WordPress.com – While I find that I don’t greatly NEED a website for the work that I do, I really like having one and understand that owning www.kristenduever.com may prove useful someday as I build my freelancing empire! WordPress.com is a fairly easy to use, free website building tool on which I can advertise my services and write blogs which will hopefully prove useful to at least some of my readers. One day however, I may have to convert it over to a wordpress.org site or even have it more professionally designed.

Unsplash.com – This is a really cool site that I discovered recently. Its purpose to provide free high quality photos to pair with my blogs.

Linkedin.com – While I’ve never received any business directly as a result of Linkedin (yet!), I’ve frequently referred prospects to view my Linkedin Profile along with the several positive recommendations from past and current clients.

Administrative

PayPal.com – Most of my clients, I have never met in person. I even have a few clients who I haven’t even spoken with over the telephone. PayPal is a convenient method both for sending invoices and receiving payments.

Inspirational

Sidehustlenation.com – I stumbled across this site within the last year or so while I was searching for resources about running a business while working full time. The site has many useful blog postings and tips but I especially love listening to the podcasts.

Liz Ryan on Forbes.com – while Ms. Ryan tends to write mainly about employment related issues and not self-employment related issues, I find her posts fun and engaging. On a deeper level, they are about enjoying your work – whether it is in the form of a job or your own business.

Sir Richard Branson on Linkedin.com – While I don’t always agree with his politics, I really admire Sir Richard’s approach to the business world – can we say “No Dress Code” and “Unlimited Vacation” anyone!? I always find his blogs and posts very inspirational.

Do you have your own side business (freelance or otherwise)?

I’d love to hear about some of the sites that you’ve found most useful!

Is Copywriting Different from Content Writing?

It is fairly common these days to hear terms like “copywriting” and “content writing” being interchanged. And it’s easy to understand the confusion – especially because of the fact that these two different styles of writing are sometimes even used together. But the fact is – there is a difference. And if you’re posting blogs and articles to your website, it is important to understand the difference.

Both styles rely on each other and can fit into the same marketing plan. The biggest distinction between content writing and copywriting is the purpose behind the writing.

Content Writing

Content writing is composing content for a specific purpose, such as brand awareness, product education or industry information. For example, if your business wants to attract and educate potential customers about their products or services, a blog or web article is a great way to accomplish this goal. Blogs, articles, and press releases are all examples of content writing.

How to Write Effective Content

Content writing is meant to educate and inform – not to sell. Content writing should not be a comparison of your product or service against competitors in the industry, but rather a way to tell the audience who you are, what you offer, and how your product will benefit the customer. The most effective content writing is achieved when you follow general content writing guidelines, such as:

  • Write within a formal style (i.e. structure of paragraphs, identify a purpose)
  • Build trust with the audience by being genuine
  • Offer the reader an experience through your writing
  • Provide help to the reader; do not sell them anything with content writing
  • Be clear and precise with content writing, always support your thoughts with evidence

Copywriting

Copywriting is compelling writing designed to illicit a specific action or response from the reader. The goal of copywriting is to sell a product or service, sign up for your newsletter or schedule a consultation. For example, if your business wants readers to purchase a product or opt-in to your email campaigns, a branded sales sheet or well-crafted landing page content can accomplish this marketing goal. Direct mailers (or emailers), branded marketing or sales documents, and infomercials are all examples of copywriting.

How to Write Effective Copy

Copywriting is all about branding and ensuring you relay why your brand matters. Copywriting takes content writing one step further; content writing draws the reader in and copywriting entices the reader to perform your desired action.

  • Write eye-catching headlines
  • Take a personable approach in your writing, build trust with the readers
  • Use direct words that inspire the reader to take action
  • Never use industry jargon, slangs, or clichés; avoid confusion and keep the copy simple
  • Always leave the readers wanting to know more about your product or service; this gets the customer interested in taking action

Copywriting and Content Writing Work Together

You cannot have one without the other. In fact, content writing without copywriting (and vice versa) is an unfortunate waste. If your site is generating good traffic but few conversions, the issue may be ineffective copywriting. But if you don’t see much return traffic to your site, you may not be providing enough value with your content writing.

In order to provide exceptional content to potential and current customers, you need a well balanced mix of copywriting and content writing. Combine the best of both worlds to ensure successful content and copy to your readers and customers.

How to write SEO friendly content (and human friendly content) for your business blog

Kristen Duever Writing Services

There are many advantages to writing a regular blog for your business – not the least of which is that it can help with your website’s search engine optimization (SEO). Done correctly, your blog will not only attract customers, set your business up as an expert in your industry and improve your search rankings.

Done incorrectly however, you can alienate potential customers and actually get penalized by Google and the other major search engines.

One of the important things to remember when writing for you business blog is to write content that is both SEO friendly and human friendly. SEO friendly content will help search engine crawlers to find your content and in turn, give your site a better ranking.

Human friendly content will help to ensure that visitors to your site have a great experience. Content needs to be well written and engaging.

The following are a few…

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How to Get More Traffic to Your Business Blog

If you want to increase traffic to your business’ blog, look no further. Here are seven of the most effective tips to build readership and get more potential customers to your blog.

  1. Write and post new content. Search engine algorithms prefer updated content, therefore increasing your blog’s ranking in search engine results. Also, staying current with your blog content encourages readers to return to your blog.
  2. Use social media. Share every single blog post to all of your social media accounts; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ are absolutely necessary for promoting your blog content. If your blog consists of a significant amount of images (i.e. products) or videos (i.e. how-to’s), you need to be promoting your blog content on Pinterest and YouTube. Social media is the top traffic source for all blogs and website content. If you do not have social media accounts, create your business accounts immediately.
  3. Pre-schedule your blog content to social media using HootSuite, which manages all your social media accounts in one place for easy blog content sharing.
  4. Follow a consistent posting schedule. Research indicates that the best times to post content is in conjunction with social media peak times:
  • Facebook: Thursday and Friday; 1:00 p.m. local time for the most shares, 3:00 p.m. local time for the most clicks.
  • Twitter: For B2B content, Monday through Friday and for B2C content, Friday through Sunday; 5:00 p.m. local time for most retweets, 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. for the most clicks.
  • LinkedIn: Tuesday through Thursday; 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., and 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. are the best times to post. The optimum time to post: Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. local time.
  • Google+: Monday through Thursday; 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. local time with Wednesday being the best day for posting.
  • Pinterest: Saturday; 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. local time. Friday is best for retail and fashion posts; 3:00 p.m. Pinterest is great for B2C posts.

5. Add social share buttons to your blog and each individual blog post. This makes it easy for your  readers to generate more traffic by their sharing immediately with others.

6. Do not be afraid to re-share past blog content. Oftentimes, social media posts are missed by some people in your network. By re-sharing a previous (and relevant) blog post, you ensure the content will be seen by your entire network in a relevant way.

7. Guest contributors add significant value to your blog and its content as well as increasing traffic to your blog because the guest contributor will bring their network to your blog. A guest contributor writes relevant content for your blog and in turn, shares the content with their network and many times ask you to be a guest contributor for their blog.

Should You Write Your Business Blog or is Outsourcing the Best Option?

Business owners focus on operations, management of employees, finances, building new products, brainstorming services, and improving the overall health of the business. As a business owner, you have a lot on your plate. When you include social media marketing, website development and management, and other marketing requirements, the workload begins to be overwhelming and daunting. Business owners need a team of professionals, whether in-house or outsourced, that support the business.

Producing blog content is not just about writing. There are a lot of factors involved in content writing, including, but not limited to; SEO keyword research, managing the blog platform, and social media management.

In order to have a successful blog, there is a significant time commitment required to publish consistent and creative content. Business owners can attempt to manage their web and blog content on their own or they can outsource dedicated professional writers to produce blog content for the business.

Benefits of Writing Your Own Business Blog

  • If you have an in-house staff member that can take on the additional responsibilities of blog writing and content management, costs are typically lower than outsourcing. However, ensure the staff member can accept the time commitment required and their primary role with the business will not be affected. Also, make sure the staff member is a qualified writer. Poorly written content will destroy a blog’s chance for success. Be available to train the staff member in social media management and SEO analysis for the most successful blog posts.
  • Blog posts that are created in-house tend to be more personable and can sometimes provide higher quality content. The staff member has a vested interest in the business and can directly relate to the reader more easily.
  • The in-house writing representative can feel a sense of authority and trust by the business owner, which can lead to better employee performance. The staff member is now responsible to be the “voice” of the company and will benefit from the writing experience and content management experience, furthering their portfolio.

Benefits of Outsourcing Your Business Blog Content

  • Time is one of the most beneficial aspects of outsourcing your business blog needs. Content writing takes significant time and when you include social media management the time requirement greatly increases. Outsourcing your blog writing and management will save your business large of amounts of time and subsequently a lot of money.
  • The majority of freelance blog writers are experienced and provide high-quality content with a quicker turn-around than a novice writer. Constant revisions will not be necessary; just a simple review process. Also, many outsourced blog writer professionals are knowledgeable in SEO keyword analysis and social media management. You will only need to hire one well-trained professional for all your blog content management needs.
  • No one knows your business better than you. However, to gain interest and increase traffic to your blog, you will need a fresh and unique perspective. Overfamiliarity can cause blog content to sound dull and boring. An outsourced freelancer provides a new fresh look at your business and bring a sense of excitement to your content.

Pick the Best Blog Keywords

Keywords are words or phrases that you plan on targeting to get more traffic to your website or blog from search engines. Once you pick the best blog keywords, you write articles and other content with the keywords strategically placed in the content in order for people to find your blog or website through the internet. The first step in using keywords for your blog is identifying the best keywords. So, how do you pick the best blog keywords?

Keyword Types

  • Short tail keywords are shorter keyword phrases (i.e. phone case); broad search results that target a mass audience which results in more competition and minimal chance of ranking in search engines.
  • Long tail keywords are longer keyword phrases ((i.e. iPhone 5c case for girls); specific search results that target a smaller audience, which results in less competition and a solid chance of ranking in search engines.

Google AdWords

You can choose any preferred keyword analysis tool. There are several free tools available but the best option is Google AdWords because the data is highly accurate and comes from the most used search engine in the world. If you have an existing Google or Gmail account, access to Google AdWords is very easy; it is located in Google Apps. Setting up your account is simple and again, it is free.

The Keyword Planner in Google AdWords is a great free tool for developing keyword campaigns by finding keyword ideas and closely estimating the performance of your keyword ideas. You can start with as many keyword phrases as you want and branch out from there, developing the best blog keywords for your needs. It is suggested to start with one or two keyword ideas and see where that takes your search in finding the best blog keywords. Here are some important terms to help navigate Keyword Planner:

  • Average Monthly Searches is the number of times the exact keyword phrase has been searched in the past month. This is the popularity number.
  • Competition is based on the number of advertisers that selected the keyword phrase across Google. If the competition is “High”, the chance of your content showing up in the search engine results is low and vice versa for “Low”. You have some additional options, such as bidding and sharing, if you want to pay for cost-per-click campaigns. These additional options are not necessary for picking the best blog keywords. Another feature of Keyword Planner is inputting your website homepage as well as a specific category and sub-category of your blog or business. This will show tailored keyword suggestions based on your blog content and business category.   The Keyword Planner shows dozens of alternative keywords based on the one initial keyword idea. The tool allows for easy recreation of your keyword plan, as needed. If the first keyword phrase does not show the results you want, the additional results should give you a better idea of how similar keywords are performing. The tool allows for easy recreation of your keyword plan, as needed. The possibilities are limitless.

The Easiest Way to Write a Blog Title

First impressions are everything and your business blog title is that first impression. A blog title must be eye-catching and make the reader think, “I have to see what this article is all about”. A successful blog title will get readers to your website or blog, thereby increasing the potential to gain a return viewer and the high likelihood for your content to be shared through social media and other networks. As you can see, a strong blog title is absolutely essential to your success.

Titles sell the content. Titles are responsible for the search engine ranking and increasing traffic to your business blog. All the great content within the article will not get read unless you have a solid title. Some writers start with the title and others generate a killer title after the content has been written; it is entirely your preference but one of the easiest ways to get started is to create a “working” title.

The Working Title is NOT a Topic

A blog topic is very general and can yield numerous results in a potential viewer’s search. Examples of a topic are “CRM systems”, “recognition programs”, or “new hire packet”. Topics can go in many different directions. The working title creates the direction of the topic and is a very specific statement. For example; “The Best CRM System for a Top-Performing Sales Team”, “How Recognition Programs Boost Employee Productivity”, or “Organize Your New Hire Packet for Easy On-Boarding”. No working title is perfect and can require revision after the content has been written.

Set Clear Expectations for the Reader

Do not deceive your readers and always be completely accurate in your title. If your content is about recognition programs increasing employee productivity, then make sure your title matches the specific topic. If readers go to your blog expecting to see a results-oriented blog post about boosting employee productivity through recognition programs, but you spend all your time talking about the different types of employee programs, you will lose followers and potential customers. Be respectful and build trust.

Keep SEO in Mind

Make every effort to include hard-hitting keywords in the blog title. Use your SEO keyword research in the title as well as in the content of your blog. However, never compromise the clarity of the blog’s title for SEO best practices. If it makes sense to include the keywords or phrase into the title, go ahead; but if the title sounds weird or confusing, leave out the keywords.

Short and Sweet

A business blog title should be short and direct. The best blog titles that rank high in search engines are under 65 characters (no more than approximately 12 words) in length. If you post your blog content to social media, specifically Twitter (and you should be for a hefty increase in blog traffic), shoot for a title and tag of no more than 117 characters in length. You do not have to be exact with every single blog post, but remember this guideline.

Tips for Titles

Provide your business blog titles with a pop that will grab the attention of readers.

  • Alliteration is using the same beginning letter repeatedly. “Tips for Titles”, “Write With Wonder”.
  • Use strong language such as “Things Employees Hate”, “Qualities of Awesome Bosses”.
  • A helpful tone goes a long way. “10 Free Tools for…”, “Simple Ways to…”.
  • Bounce ideas off a colleague and brainstorm if revisions are needed and have fun developing your business blog title.