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Archives for July 2008

11 Reasons You’ll Never Succeed as a Freelance Writer

Freelance writing is a career many would love to have, but relatively few manage to carve out successfully. In my opinion, almost all who fail at this career choice can find the cause in one of the 11 reasons discussed in this freelance writing industry report….

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Freelance Writer Advice: 6 Ways to Increase Your Freelance Writing Income During the Slow Summer Months

Freelance writing is a cyclical industry. Many who have been freelanced for years may not even be aware of the problem. Why is it important to know this? Because you can increase your freelance writing income during the slow summer months by being proactive.

A Summer Marketing Tutorial for Freelance Writers

Following are six things you can do ensure that freelance writing jobs flow your way — now and right on into the busy fall season.

Specific Actions You Can Take to Increase Your Freelance Writing Income During the Summer & Beyond

 1. Review Pricing: One of the best ways to increase your income as a freelance writer is to review your freelance writing rates. summer-marketing-tutorialMany freelance writers overlook this an income booster because they’re afraid of losing clients.

But remember, you’re a business and if you haven’t raised rates in a while (eg, for two years), then it’s time to do so. While you do risk losing clients, if it’s an increase that’s long overdue and some clients bolt, then those are not the kinds of clients you want anyway.

 All businesses raise prices – as a freelance writer, you’re no different. 

2. Review Client Roster: Piggybacking on this last point, review your client roster to see if the client base you have is moving you closer to your financial and business goals, or further away.

For example, as an SEO writer, one of my goals is to narrow my client list to clients who outsource a certain dollar amount of content needs per month. My goal is to move away from what I call “hit and miss clients” to clients who have ongoing content needs.

This will help to: (i) stabilize my income more; (ii) stabilize my working schedule; and (iii) streamline my service offerings. When you cater to a particular type of client, you are better able to service their exact content needs.
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Read here how I routinely make $250+/day as an SEO writer – and you can too!
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3. Add New Services: If you’ve been meaning to expand your freelance writing service offerings, but literally haven’t had the breathing room to get it posted on your site, then summer is the perfect time to do so.

How to Make More Money with a Lower-Priced Service

For example, I recently added Meta Tag Writing to my list of SEO writing services. It’s been a big boost to my bottom line, as clients have really taken to the service.

The good thing about this has been that, even though meta tag writing pays less per project that some of my other SEO writing services, the projects are quicker and easier to complete, which means I make more per job than with some of my higher-priced services.

Now, which freelance writing service do you think I’ll be marketing to clients heavily throughout the summer and into the fall?

4. Reconnect with Old Clients: This is something most freelance writers – ie, small business owners in general – don’t do enough of. I know I’m guilty of it. We get so busy focusing on bringing in new business, that we forget to reconnect with old clients.

And, what better time to reconnect with them than when you’ve added a new service? I did this with some of my old clients when I added Meta Tag Writing to my list of SEO writing services.

Your old clients already know you, and if you believe the 80/20 rule of marketing, then this is one of the easiest ways to increase your freelance writing income, especially during the slow summer months.

What is the 80/20 rule of marketing?
Officially known as the Pareto Principle, this rule states that 80% of your business will come from 20% of your clients. More specifically it states:

While the rule is not an absolute, one should use it as a guide and reference point to ask whether or not they are truly focusing on the 20% (the Vital Few), or the 80% (The trivial many). True progress results from a consistent focus on the 20% most critical objectives. [Learn more about the Pareto Principle]

5. Market for New Clients: This is the flip side of the tip just above. One of the reasons many freelance writers fail to make a consistent living is that they don’t market for new work consistently. They get so bogged down with existing projects then one day they look up and – boom – work has dried up.

While staying in touch with existing clients is vital for long-term success as a freelance writer, marketing for new clients should always be on the agenda.

Would You Send Out 2 Emails a Day If It Meant Making $30,000 a Year?

It can be as simple as sending out two email queries a day to a new firm. That’s 40 per month (M-F); 480 per year. With even a 2% return, that’s almost 10 new clients a year that you will have picked up.

Depending on your freelance writing rates, if these new clients spent as little as $2,000 a year with you (a measly $167/month), that’s an extra $30,000/year added to your bottom line. This is the difference between being able to stay at home and work as a freelance writer, doing what you love – and having to go out and get a J-O-B.

Think you can find the time to send out two email queries a day based on these numbers?

Let me hammer this home with a personal example . . . when I first started SEO writing, I was sending out as many as 25 emails a day (sometimes even more). I landed gigs within the first few days. Now, I’m down to sending out between 5-10/week. Now that it’s summer and things are slow, I’m back up to trying to do 10 per day. Most days I don’t make it, but I try to make it up on the weekends.

6. Attend to Back-end Office Procedures: Unorganized or unimplemented back-end office procedures can increase or decrease your income as a freelance writer. How?

I’ll share my own sad tale as an example. I’ve been meaning to get my website (this one) redesigned for at least two years. I finally bit the bullet and started the procedure in May. Not having this done has prevented me from placing ads for my ebooks, accepting ads on the site (for which I’ve been approached on numerous occasions over the last year), and moving forward with publishing more ebooks.

While it’s taking much longer than I anticipated, I know that it’s an investment in my business that’s going to pay off big once it’s finally done.

Is Your Freelance Writing Business Losing Money? How to Tell

So if you don’t have an accounting system set up, a marketing plan in place, a list of freelancers to outsource to when you get too busy – all of these are back-end office procedures that can cost you money.

Once fall rolls around, it’s going to get hectic again. Use the slow summer months to position your freelance writing business to handle the gigs as they come in. The work will flow so much better – and you’ll see that reflected in your bottom line.

Yes, indeed, summertime is a great time to increase your freelance writing income – especially if you heed the advice listed here.

Yuwanda
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Copyright © 2008. Republished 2010: All material on this site is copyright protected and cannot be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without my written consent (linking to is fine).

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Buying a Self-Published Ebook? 4 Things to Look for Before You Purchase

The article Real Authors and the Paradox of Desktop Publishing inspired a spirited discussion on self-publishing.

I’ve self-published quite a few ebooks, with plans for many more. The author writes in the aforementioned post, “There’s a lot of crap content out there. Anyone can invest in a program or two, buy a few stock photos or clip art and throw something together.” And he’s right.

So this post got me to thinking about what to look for if you’re going to purchase an ebook from a self-published author. As both a writer and purchaser of self-published ebooks, following are four things I look for before I hit the “buy now” button.

1. Author Experience: My non-fiction ebooks* are all about freelance writing, small business and marketing, and all are written from first-hand experience because I’ve been a freelance writer since 1993; I’ve owned several small businesses (online and off) and got into internet marketing this year (2008).

So, this is the first thing I look for from a self-published author, ie, do they have experience in what they’re writing about.

I find that most books written and published via traditional publishers have a lot of fluff or expect you to follow the “rules” so to speak. Many self-published authors have managed to find a success formula without doing this (this is why they are self publishers) and share that experience in an ebook.

And, this is one of the main reasons I write and buy self-published ebooks. The author has experienced success on their own terms, which was learned from first-hand experience.

Ebook Marketing Tip: One of the most effective marketing methods I’ve used is the ebook giveaway, eg, sign up to my newsletter and get a free ebook.

*Update Oct 2016: I write fiction too; primarily romance novellas.

2. Author Background: This piggybacks on the above. I like to know a little about an author’s professional background. This is important to me because it clues me in as to their motivation for self-publishing – and their depth of experience. It tells me a lot about how they approach their subject matter.

As an example, I’ve been in publishing since 1987. I’ve owned an editorial staffing agency and have been a freelancer. So I know the ins and outs of freelance writing from an employer’s view, and from an employee’s (independent contractor’s/freelancer’s) view.

When I write, I bring all of that experience to bear on the subject matter. I can lay out scenarios, predict outcomes and suggest solutions because I have a depth of knowledge on freelance writing that only comes from having worked in publishing/editorial for many years.

3. Author Website: You can tell a lot about a self-publisher from their website. Following are three things I look for in a self-published author’s site/blog:

(i) Site Content: As in, is there a repository of informational articles on the subject matter of the ebook I’m thinking about buying? Is it written by the author of the ebook, or are the articles pulled from sources like article directories? Is there a blog? Is it updated regularly, or was the last post three months ago? Are first-hand stories recounted, or is the information very general?

All of this lets me know how well the author knows his/her subject matter.

(ii) Affiliate Programs: Affiliate programs in and of themselves are not a problem. But, if an author’s website is filled with affiliate programs and almost nothing else – especially when they are unrelated to the subject matter of the ebook I’m thinking of purchasing – then I’m wary.

If I’m considering purchasing a self-published ebook on freelance writing for example, I’d expect to see affiliate programs for things like ebook cover and/or logo design, web hosting companies (we all need websites), email marketing software and yes, even other ebooks on freelance writing.

Unrelated ads make me pause – because it makes me feel as if the seller is just trying to make money, not sell me a product that they really know about or believe in.

(iii) Site Updates: As I mentioned above, I look at how often the author’s site is updated. It doesn’t have to be daily, or even every other day. If a site is not updated at least two or three times a month though (or on a set, publicized schedule if it’s less), then I dig a little deeper; eg, are they on vacation, is the site currently being redesigned, has there been a personal matter the author is handling, etc.

My rationale for looking at how often a site is updated stems from the fact that self-published authors — who are actively engaged in what they write about — run a business. Businesses don’t stay “closed” (eg, are not updated regularly) for very long – not if they are legitimate.

4. Google: One of the last things I do is run a Google search of the author’s name. It’s amazing what you can find out about a person by just doing a simple Google search. Mainly, I’m looking to see if they’ve been around a while.

Can what is on their website be backed up by other stuff that appears on the web? Have they written and submitted content to sites like Business2Community or Medium? Have they guest posted, been mentioned, or discussed on other blogs in their niche?

All of this lends legitimacy to their “author status.”

Why Buying from Self-Publishers Is the Best Way to Get Information (IMO)

Self-publishing is becoming more and more mainstream. And as a self-published author, I know that the information received in ebooks can be some of the most effective, direct, hard-hitting information you will ever find.

Good ebook authors cut out the fluff and get right to the point, which is why buying from self-publishers is the best way to get information in my opinion. If you want to know how to do “x”, find someone who’s done it/are doing it – and wrote an ebook about it. Then simply follow their advice.

And this is the power of self-publishing – if it’s gotten from the right source. Visit the Inkwell Editorial bookstore for links to all of my self-published titles.

Wanna Publish an Ebook? Here’s a Valuable Tip. Make it an immediate download. My ebook sales jumped when I signed up with e-Junkie, which allows buyers to immediately download the ebooks they buy.

P.S.: Make Money Writing Romance

This is one of my most popular self-published ebooks. To date, I’ve written over 40 romance novellas. Here’s one of my most in-depth posts on the subject.

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Article Marketing Tutorial: How to Write a Resource Box That Increases Traffic & Generates Sales (Part III of III)

Learning how to write a resource box that increases traffic and generates sales is something I recently learned, and I’ve been marketing with articles since 2002. For years, I did it all wrong.

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Article Marketing Tutorial: Put Your Article Marketing Efforts on Steroids — Generate More Traffic with SEO (Part II of III)

This is Part II of III of Inkwell Editorial’s article marketing tutorial. Read Parts I and III.

Article marketing works. There’s no debate about that. But, it can be much more effective if you use SEO (search engine optimization) techniques in your online marketing efforts. What do I mean by this?

Following are three things I do to make sure my article marketing efforts produce maximum search engine optimization results.

3 SEO Steps to Take to Ensure Maximum Results from Article Marketing

1. Start with a Keyword: One of the first things you should do is to make sure your article is written around a specific keyword phrase or two. This does not mean that you give in to bad writing. What it does mean is that you tweak your article so that they keywords flow naturally. This is the hallmark of a good SEO writer, which more online entrepreneurs should become if they want to make money online.

If you just can’t seem to accomplish this task, then by all means hire an SEO writer. The money spent will be well worth it years into the future as keyword articles drive traffic. And, isn’t this what article marketing is all about?

2. Check Keyword Traffic: As in, select those keywords that produce a decent amount of traffic in your niche. The last three words are italicized because you should always choose keywords that will drive relevant traffic to your site.

Getting back to traffic, don’t shoot for the top keywords in your niche – unless your niche is so small that it can be easily achieved. I’ve found that targeting numerous keyword phrases that get a decent amount of traffic in my niche is better than shooting for the most popular keywords in my niche because it brings a broader base of traffic.

I refer to this is the shotgun spray of SEO, rather than the laser shot. Why? For example, my niche is freelance writing. Rather than trying to optimize for popular phrases like “freelance writing jobs” and “editing jobs”, I optimize for less popular keyword phrases like “seo copywriting jobs,” “newsletter writers,” “article writers,” etc.

The rationale behind this is that when people search for something on the internet, the more specific they are in their choice of keyword phrase, the more serious they are about purchasing.

Think about it, if you already knew you wanted to be a freelance writer, but you really want to focus on being an SEO writer, you might search phrases like “seo writing jobs,” “article writing jobs,” and “seo copywriter jobs.”

Remember, choosing less popular keyword phrases may drive less traffic, but will drive more targeted traffic. This is maximizing your article marketing efforts.

3. Check Popular Articles: One thing I’ve started to do recently in my article marketing efforts is to check the number of page views of articles in my niche. I will go to a popular article marketing directory, do a cursory glance of 15, 20 or 25 articles and see if any jump out at me as getting a lot of reads.

If so, I’ll then write an article around that subject for my site. Remember, no idea under the sun is new, but all of our experiences are. All you’re doing is putting your spin on the article topic.  It goes without saying but never, ever plagiarize the work of others. Not only will it eventually be discovered, it can ruin your reputation on the web – even if you do it just one time.

Article marketing is about dispensing relevant information to a targeted niche. Do this – in conjunction with a little behind-the-scenes SEO work – and you’ll be well on your way to driving continuous traffic to your site.

“How long should an article be that I write to submit to article marketing directories?” I receive this question a lot. The following is my take given my experience working with many internet marketing firms.

Most articles submitted to article directories fall in the range of 350-500 words. Some may be 600-750 words long, but these are the exceptions.

Therefore, if you’re trying to achieve a keyword density of between 3-5% (which is somewhat of an industry-accepted standard) then you need to repeat your keyword phrase at least 10 times in a 500-word article, for example. This is not a hard-and-fast rule, just a measuring stick to be aware of as you’re writing.

The Importance of Organic Search in Article Marketing

Finally, not to get into too much depth here, but natural search (aka organic search) is starting to be just as important as keywords in search engine optimization. So for example, if your site is about freelance writing and you have a lot of content that is not “keyword rich” but is about freelance writing in general, your site may still rank high when surfers type in certain keywords that have to do with freelance writing. Why is this?

Because your site has been identified by search engines as an authority on that subject based on its overall content. No one knows the algorithms of search engines and how/why they return the results they do, but backlinks, navigational structure, type and breadth of content, etc. all tell search engines something about your site.

As you can see, knowing just a little about SEO can go a long way towards helping you to get the most out of your article marketing efforts.

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Article Marketing Tutorial: Two Types of Content Every Website and Blog Should Utilize (Part I of III)

This is Part I of III of Inkwell Editorial’s article marketing tutorial. Read Parts II and III.

If you visit this site regularly, then you know I’m an avid fan of article marketing. My recent article marketing experiment just reconfirmed what I already knew – article marketing works – if you put in the work.

I increased my ebook sales by 166% during this recent article marketing experiment, which has made me start to do it again on almost a daily basis. And, this is where the title of this post comes into play. With all that being said, what exactly are the two types of content every website and blog should have?

Raising Rates Illuminates the Need for Two Types of Content

I was updating my seo writing website (an old site that has since been folded into this site) this morning, raising rates and fine-tuning some service offerings.

As I was updating my SEO Article Writing page, I realized that the two types of content every site needs is what I call “easy, breezy content” and “foundational content.” To illustrate, take the article I wrote and uploaded to InkwellEditorial.com yesterday, Green Tips for Freelance Writers: How Freelance Writers Can Help the Environment.

The article is over 1,100 words long. It is a foundational article in that it is comprehensive, unique, authoritative (cites numerous sources) and can only be found on InkwellEditorial.com.

I wrote a companion article (easy breezy content) to this article, entitled Green Tips for Freelance Writers and posted it to Amazines.com, an article marketing directory.  It’s a little over 600 words long, about half as long as the foundational article.

Even though it carries basically the same title, it’s 100% different but covers the same subject matter. This was done on purpose.

The Differences Between and Purpose behind Easy, Breezy and Foundational Content

Both types of articles are used to drive traffic to a site, but they do it in different manners.

How to Use Easy, Breezy Content to Drive Traffic to Your Site

Easy, breezy content can be distributed to multiple outlets, eg, article directories, forums, blogs, newsletter, etc. It is meant to whet the appetite of readers, giving them enough info to create interest so that they click through to your primary site.

Just because it’s “easy, breezy” does not meant that it shouldn’t be well written and insightful. This must be the case at all times. The real difference is that it is shorter than your foundational content.

How to Use Foundational Content to Drive Traffic to Your Site

Foundational content is your site’s unique content. It should not be distributed elsewhere and it should be extremely informative, highly valuable and make the reader come away with an “aha” moment.

This is the type of content that will garner repeat visitors because it sets your site up as an authority.  The article, How to Create Cornerstone Content That Google Loves gives an excellent tutorial on why this type of content is a must for every site. FYI, foundational content is also referred to as “cornerstone content.”

How to Effectively Combine Easy Breezy Content & Foundational Content to Create Sales

Notice how in the resource box of the Green Tips article on Amazines.com I include a link to the foundational article on InkwellEditorial.com? By using easy breezy content to drive traffic to more informative, in-depth content, you have a better chance of making a sale.

When you consider that customers have to see your sales message anywhere from 7-28 times before they will purchase from you, combining these two types of content makes sense.

Your easy, breezy article may appear on 5, 10 or 20 sites. Every time someone sees it, that’s another touch, another impression you make. By the time they click through to your foundational content, they are usually practically sold.

2 for 1: How to Create Easy Breezy Content & Foundational Content from One Article

Now that I’m back into article marketing with full force, when I write an article for my site (foundational content), I automatically create a shorter version to post to article directories.

I include a link back to the foundational content on my main site/blog so really interested readers can learn more. When someone is interested enough to click through to your site, that’s a pre-qualified customer – the kind every business owner wants.

Create Passive Streams of Income for Years to Come

Foundational content; easy, breezy content; and article marketing — the kind of 1-2-3 knockout punch that can create passive streams of income for years to come. And, if you’re a freelance writer, all it costs you is time.

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Green Tips for Freelance Writers

The Skinny on E-Waste, Using Recycled Paper & More

I’m probably the least green person I know – and I’m not proud of it. As I work at home, one day I said to myself, “It’s probably easier for you to be green than most people, so get your butt in gear!”

Hence, following are a few green tips for freelance writers – tips I’m starting to follow.

Green Tip for Freelance Writers #1

Recycle Electronics, Computers & Other Office Equipment. I was working with a client recently who is the owner of a computer services firm. One of the articles she had on her site was about how her firm was going green.

This is when I got the idea for this article. I was thinking, “How can a computer services firm go green?” Well, easily. By recycling electronics and other office equipment. Now of course you know you can refill your toner cartridges, which is a form of recycling. But, did you know you can recycle your computer equipment and other office peripherals (fax machines, scanners, copy machines, etc.)?

The Proliferation of E-Waste

Electronic equipment is one of the fastest growing segments of our nation’s waste stream. It’s referred to as e-waste.

The formal definition of e-waste is “. . . a popular, informal name for electronic products nearing the end of their “useful life.”” Computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, and fax machines are common electronic products. Many of these products can be reused, refurbished, or recycled. [Source: http://www.erecycle.org/efaqs.htm.]

Why You Should Recycle Computer Equipment

You should recycle for three reasons primarily:

(i): Recycle Materials: Many electronics are made up of a variety of materials, eg, metals, that can be recovered for recycling;

(ii) Less Mining: Recycling electronics saves resources and protects the Earth because new metals don’t have to be mined;

(iii) Protect Earth from Hazardous Waste: Some electronics have elevated levels of certain materials like lead that make them hazardous to dispose of.

So do your part – recycle. For more info on where and how to recycle your old computer and other office equipment, visit, EPA.gov, specifically this link.

Green Tip for Freelance Writers #2

Create a Paperless Office. I’ve been doing this for years – without giving a thought to being green. In 2001, I moved my office into my home.

Living in New York City at the time in a one bedroom, there was, of course, a space problem. So, I decided to go paperless which meant no file cabinet.

I scanned all applicable documents and starting storing them as electronic files. And, where possible, I used email instead of fax. I was surprised at how easy it was to “go paperless.”

Green Tip for Freelance Writers #3

Plan Trips. Again, as I work at home, I plan my trips carefully to save on gas. One thing I do is try to schedule all of my running around during the middle of the day. There’s less traffic, so I use less gas.

I also make sure to bunch my destinations, eg, hit the grocery story which goes right pass the beauty supply store, which is right around the corner for the $1 store, etc.

The final thing I do with regard to planning trips is to stay home more. As I don’t have to go out to lunch or run errands for work, I try to move my car as little as necessary. Usually, during the week, it only leaves my driveway once or twice.

Green Tip for Freelance Writers #4

Unplug. I heard Carter Osterhouse, one of HGTVs stars say that appliances use as much as 40% of their energy when they are turned off, but still plugged in.

So, at night when I log off, I also unplug my equipment. Yeah, it’s a bit of a pain to plug everything back in in the morning, but considering that it’s probably less than a minute of my day, it’d be selfish of me to not do it.

Carter went on to say that all appliances around the house should be unplugged when not in use, eg, the coffee pot, the curling iron, the toaster, microwave, etc.

Green Tip for Freelance Writers #5

Use Recycled Paper. When you do use paper in your office, buy recycled paper. Look for paper that has the highest recycled content as possible. FYI, by federal standards, for a product to carry the recycled logo, it must be at least 30% pre-consumer content.

To make sure you’ll always have recycled paper on hand, order it in bulk from online suppliers, or buy it in bulk from your local retailer. The point is to be sure to always have some in stock so you won’t be tempted to use non-recycled paper.

Using Recycled Paper: The Effects on the Environment

Ninety percent of paper pulp is made from wood. The production of paper accounts for over a third of felled trees in the world.

Did you know? Some experts estimate that recycling one ton of newspaper saves about 4,000 KWh of electricity. This is enough electricity to power a 3-bedroom European house for an entire year, or enough energy to heat and air-condition the average North American home for almost six months. [Source: Wikipedia.com]

Green Tip for Freelance Writers #6

Use Cloth, Flatware and Dishes. Usually, when you work outside the home and run out for a sandwich, you’re going to get paper napkins, plastic forks and paper plates.

But, if you work at home use your nice dishes, real silverware and cloth napkin. Not only will you be helping the environment by contributing less waste, you’ll be doing something nice for yourself too!

Green Tip for Freelance Writers #7

Wash Less; Hang Dry. As you’re at home and are changing clothes less (ostensibly), wash less. Don’t forget to use cold water as much as possible. You can structure your days to do laundry once a week, instead of two or three times.

And, if you live in an environment that allows it, hang clothes on a line to dry instead of using the dryer. I vividly remember as a child growing up doing this with my mother. Nothing smells better than fresh clothes coming off the clothesline after having been dried by the sun.

Going Green Adds Up

There are many more tips that can be added to the list. These are just a few off the top of my head. While these may seem like little things that don’t do much, they do add up. Imagine if we all practiced these. We’d be doing Mother Earth a huge favor. Green tips for freelance writers are easy to implement – and you can feel good about doing your part to help the environment.

P.S.: Read here how I routinely make $250+/day as an SEO writer – and you can too!

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