Category Archives: Busienss Writing

Five Tips for Getting the Best Out of Your Freelance Writer

Hiring a freelance writer is a great way to add a little extra oomph into your content. Whether you need someone who can provide regular blogs and articles, content for your website or a really great marketing piece, freelancers can provide top quality, engaging content for your business. And hiring freelancers is also usually less expensive than hiring new employees.

But if you’ve never hired a freelancer before, where do you start? Fortunately, there is no shortage of people out there trying to make their living by the written word. Check any online classified site and you’re sure to find at least a few. Additionally, you may want to ask friends and colleagues if they know anyone that they can refer.

Once you know where to cast your net, there are certain steps that will help you find and keep the best freelancers.

  1. Know what you want

In the world of freelance writing every project – and every client is different. A writer can only do their very best for you if they know what it is that you want.

  • Scope – whether you are looking for a long-term relationship with a writer or you only require a single article, it is important to set the scope. Make sure that your writer knows what you want in terms of word count, keywords, and deadlines.
  • Tone – to you want fun, conversational pieces, or do you want longer, more meaty articles that will require your writer to do extensive research?
  • Budget – how much are you prepared to spend – and over what period of time?
  • Deadlines – when do you need to have a piece completed by? If your writer is completing multiple articles, you may want to consider creating an editorial calendar.

3. Ask for writing samples

During my years as a freelance writer, I have come to recognize with fairly good accuracy who will and who will not become a client based on their very first email to me. When someone sends me an email and asks how much I charge (and nothing else), they are probably not going to be a client.

If cost is your primary (only?) concern, it is better to a site like Upwork and hire there. Mind you in doing so, you risk hiring someone with poor writing skills or getting a piece of work that is completely plagiarized, but hey – it’s cheap right?

On the other hand, when someone asks for writing samples, it shows they are putting a little more thought into the process. Even better if they ask for writing samples in a particular niche or that were written for a particular business sector!

This isn’t to say that pricing isn’t important. It is. And obviously, you have to stay within a budget that you are comfortable with. Just don’t sacrifice quality in the process.

3. Ask the right questions

In the same vein that it is important to ask for writing samples, it is also important to ask the right questions.

  • Do you write for SEO?
  • Do you write for User Experience (UX)?
  • What are your rates?
  • What is your turnaround time?
  • Can you input your writing into WordPress (or MailChimp or whatever platform you want to use)?
  • Do you provide images?
  • Do you provide social media support?

Ask any question you need to in order for you to feel comfortable working with the writer.

4. Understand what a freelance writer is not

It can be easy to pile all kinds of other duties on your freelance writer but most writers will not be able to design your website, or come up with a PPC campaign. If you need someone to take on these non-writing duties, you can certainly ask your writer if they have experience and if they are interested. Just understand that there is a good chance that they don’t and they’re not.

Also, understand that your writer is an independent contractor and not an employee. They have other clients besides you. In fact, they may even be writing as a side hustle and have a full-time job. This means of course, that they can’t be at your beck and call all the time.

You may wish to have daily or weekly phone calls with them, but chances are they will not. Most communication with your freelance writer can be done via email. And when only voice to voice will do, email or text and ask when a good time for a call would be

5. Be professional

When you hire a freelance writer you expect them to behave professionally. Remember though, that this is a two-way street. Your writer needs you to be professional as well.

This means communicating clearly and not withholding important information they may need to do their job properly.

It also means paying their invoices in full and on time. It’s sad that this last point even needs to be mentioned, but it does. Thankfully, the vast majority of the clients that I have worked for have been great – but a handful have not.

If you wouldn’t refuse to pay your lawyer, your hair stylist or your babysitter, then you need to treat your writer with the same respect.

Hiring a freelance writer can help you take your content to the next level. Just be sure to spend a little time doing your homework and interact professionally with your writer and it can be the start of a great relationship.

 

Six reasons why quality still matters in content writing

Adding fresh content to on a regular basis to your website is important for a number of reasons. Blogs, articles and other updates work to help keep your SEO healthy – allowing your site to rank better with the search engines and thereby attract a greater amount of traffic.

But how important is it that those articles actually be good? Well-written? Informative? Original? Is simply churning out a high volume of articles enough or does quality still matter?

I was recently confronted with this question meeting with a prospect who was interested in having me do some content work for him. The prospect represented a marketing agency who was looking to outsource some of their work to me.

He said, “My clients don’t care about quality. We can take existing articles and spin them for two dollars a piece.”

I politely wrapped up the meeting know that this prospect and I would not be able to reach an agreement. But I should actually thank this prospect because he really got me thinking about what differentiates quality writers from spinners and content mills.

The quantity argument

Let’s start with the argument for quantity and why some companies choose it over quality for their websites.

As I’ve mentioned before – regular content – sometimes even poor content can give you a boost in your Google or Bing ranking. The natural result of this will be more traffic to your website.

Spinning articles (that is taking someone else’s work and changing the wording just enough so that it does not appear to be plagiarized) is one way to produce a lot of content in a short amount of time. It’s easy – and it can be relatively cheap. There are even software programs that can do it for you – albeit rather poorly.

But hey, if you can get lots and lots of articles for your site and do it quickly and cheaply, why not right?

It’s a tactic that might just work – for some businesses.

So why would a company choose to spend more and hire a content writer who produces high quality and engaging content?

Here are six reasons why I would argue that quality is not dead:

  1. Quality content shows your reader that your company is an authority. When people do Google searches, they are looking for answers. If your site contains a blog that is truly able to answer their question and not just repeat what has been said on every other site, that can make you their go-to expert next time they have another question about your industry.
  2. Engaging content helps you build an audience. There are so many company blogs out there that merely rehash what’s already been said hundreds and thousands of times. Engaging content stands out. If your business has a blog that makes people think; or that entertains them; or that challenges them on some level, they’ll be more likely to return to your site or start following your business on social medial.
  3. Quality content writers will learn to speak your company’s language. It is more important than ever before for businesses to distinguish themselves through brand image. Do you want to portray an all-business get er done kind of image? How about a quirky fun image? Or perhaps an image that appeals to a certain gender or age group? A skilled content writer can work those goals into the “voice” of your articles.
  4. Quality attracts your niche customer. While putting out hordes of low quality content, may boost SEO and bring more traffic to your website, it may not be attracting the right audience. What’s the point in attracting visitors to your site who never do business with you? The best articles are the ones that attract, engage and eventually convert your target customer.
  5. Google’s algorithms are continually evolving. Many spammy tactics that were used only a few years ago to draw traffic to websites have now been dubbed “black hat” by Google. Using these same tactics today can get your site penalized or even banned by search engines. Google’s spiders already have algorithms to detect quality – and they are getting better all the time. Sheer volume of poorly written content will not give companies an SEO advantage for much longer. Businesses that choose quality now are ahead of the game.
  6. Readers are demanding better content. Let’s face it – the internet has become polluted. Anyone and everyone can post whatever they want and there is a lot of crap out there. There is also a lot of really good content. And your readers know the difference. Companies that wish to keep their readership have to recognize that the modern business website is about giving just as much as it’s about getting. Sure, they want to “get” traffic and conversions – but they are also expected to “give” value to those that visit their site.

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.

Make Those Five Seconds Count: Create Easy to Read Web Content

As a business owner with a website, you have to make your web content readable and easy for a reader (and potential customer or follower) to scan. The average reader takes approximately five to 15 seconds to scan over a piece of web content and then decide to stay and continue reading or move on to another website. Make the most of those few moments and keep readers on your website, reading your exceptional web content. Here are 8 super easy ways to make your web content readable and easy to scan:

  1. Start with a strong title and deliver through your content. Create a catchy title and provide content that gets right to the point and supports the title throughout the article. Time is very important to readers, so keep your writing focused.
  2. Headings and subheadings. This creates flow and makes the article easy to follow and allows the reader to see how you are delivering on your promise (meaning your title).
  3. Use lots of space in your web content. Keep your paragraphs short (three to four sentences) and use line breaks to increase more white space. This format is easy on the eyes and helps readers stay on your website.
  4. Bullet points and lists. An eye-catching format of web content is using bullet points and lists. Bullet points can display a significant amount of information, just in a condensed and easy to read format. Lists are a great way to engage readers and keep readers on your website. Also, lists bring immediate attention to supporting your title.
  5. Images. Use images with your web content, where appropriate. People are visual and images always grab the readers’ attention. Make sure the image is relatable and relevant to the content.
  6. Pair images with captions. Surprising, one of the most read words on your web content is the caption associated with an image. Write a two to three sentence caption with each image you use and this should intrigue the reader to stay with the article and continue reading.
  7. Good content uses links. This includes internal links (where you place a link in one piece of web content that sends you to another article, blog post, or page of your website) and external links (where you place a link in your web content that sends you to a relevant outside website). Links provide a strong value proposition to readers and increase your validity and trust. Warning: Do not use too many links throughout the content. You do not want to lose your readers. Well-placed links that add value are best.
  8. Review your web content. Always preview your web content or have a trusted colleague review the draft of your web content. Take only 15 seconds and scan the content. Make sure the overall theme is there in your scan. If you do not see a seamless thought and well formatted content, revise as needed.

Ten Quick Tips for Improving SEO Content Writing

If you run a business with an online presence, chances are you’ve heard of search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is vitally important to ensure that you have a good website ranking in search lists which, it turn helps drive more traffic to you site – which hopefully helps to improve your bottom line. SEO should be handled in part, by your website developer. But if your business has a blog, or engages in social media, you can also improve your own SEO through quality content writing.

Writing for SEO however is a bit different than other types of writing. You need to craft your prose in a way that works well both for the search engine crawlers as well the real live breathing human beings who you ultimately would like to communicate with.

Here are the ten tips for improving your SEO content writing. They are simple, easy, and highly effective at boosting SEO keyword optimization and density as well as providing a better overall viewing experience to your readers. Please Note: Since Google is the most common search engine used (5 billion searches per day), I will be using their analysis methods as a guide. It should also be mentioned that all other search engines follow similar methods.

  1. Put the keyword or keyword phrase in the title of the content writing. An interesting title grabs the interest of the reader, while a title with the keyword grabs the attention of the search engine algorithms. In fact, Google focuses on the content’s title in their keyword analysis. This puts you at a great advantage for getting your content in front of readers.
  2. Use the keyword or phrase in the first paragraph of the content; even better if you can logically fit it into the first sentence. Search engines place great emphasis on keywords in their algorithms.
  3. Avoid complex phrases. Focus on action verbs and industry buzz words to engage the reader and sell your products or services. Keep the content interesting and avoid sounding “too wordy”.
  4. Be mindful of keyword density. You should place the keyword once every 125 to 150 words for an appropriate amount of SEO keyword placement. “Keyword stuffing” is does not reflect quality writing and readers will not read your content. Also, if Google picks up too many keywords, the content can be registered as spam and search engine rankings will decrease for the business.
  5. Links increase search engine rankings, whether the links take the reader to another location within your website or leave your website to another piece of content. Use links for products, industry references, and other applicable services or information. The best placement for a link is in the last paragraph with a call to action statement.
  6. The layout of your content is important in order to grab and maintain the readers’ attention. Keep your writing within organized paragraphs or lists. Make use of the headers. Since readers scan content, make sure the headers reflect the most important topics of your writing.
  7. Make use of metatag descriptions. A metatag is scanned by search engines and this is a powerful place to put SEO-filled content. The metatag describes the product, service, or blog within 160 characters (approximately 30 words) or less. Make the metatag to-the-point and specific.
  8. Include images with the content writing. People are visual and images catch the readers’ attention. Images provide for a description that can include SEO content. Do not use pictures that are protected; always ask permission before using the pictures as your own.
  9. Use social media. Anytime you post content to your website or blog have it automatically post to all your social media outlets. If you have a blog, enable the “share” option. This will allow your content to reach substantially more people than the regular reader.
  10. Keep variety in your SEO content writing. Always stay within your industry but mix up the content. For example, maintain your product or service descriptions but include industry news updates or fun infographics about your industry.