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Freelance Success Story: How One Freelance Started to Get Queries Before She Started to Market (and what she did about it)

A panicked freelancer recently contacted me with a problem most would love to have – before she even started marketing, a potential client came a’knocking! “Huh, how did that happen?” you might be wondering. Let me explain….

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5 Reasons Freelance Writing Websites & Blogs Don’t Make Money on Ads

Advice for Advertising on Freelance Writing Websites

Last month, for perhaps the first time since I started writing ebooks, I started to place ads to promote them – small ads on popular freelance writing sites.

On quite a few sites I ran across, I wanted to place an ad, but hated where the ads were placed, so I didn’t. I think a lot of website owners who are seeking to monetize their sites via ads are losing out.

As a potential advertiser, here a few things that would make me advertise with you – and a few others that turned me off.
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Read here how I routinely make $250+/day as an SEO writer – and you can too!
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Things that Make Me Want to Spend Money to Advertise On A Site & Some That Don’t

1. Ad Placement: Many webmasters bury ads or give them inappropriate placement. For example, on some popular freelance writing blogs, I saw ads that were placed below the “About”, “Feeds” Categories” and “Archives sections.

If I’m spending money with a site I want my ad to be as prominent as possible. To me, this signals that you think your “Categories” section is more important than my ad.

The reason I was turned off when I saw this is that many sites have quite an extensive “Categories” section. This means in some cases that ads are near the bottom quarter of the page where it’s less likely to be seen. 

So, if you’re seeking advertiser, give them the most prominent placement possible; after all, it’s what they’re paying for.

2. Traffic Generation Stats: I ran across one site that said something to the effect of “we’re growing; take advantage of low ad rates now.” But, there were no hard and fast stats.

Don’t make advertisers search for your traffic generation stats. If you’re seeking ad dollars, the most important reason advertisers are considering advertising with you is your traffic generation.

Many webmasters try to monetize their sites too soon – ie, when their traffic levels are not high enough to justify seeking advertisers. What should this standard be? I don’t know, every niche is different.

As for freelance writing sites, I did some poking around to find out traffic levels of some of the most popular sites to see how they all compared. And, you know what, even wildly popular freelance writing sites don’t get as much traffic as one would think.  I’m not naming names because I don’t want to offend. But a couple of the most popular sites I checked get between 3K-10K/day.

I was surprised because I expected much more. Makes me feel good about the 1,000+ visitors/day my site gets.

Want to get a good handle on the traffic a site generates. Mosey on over to StatBrain.com. And, thanks to Paula Mooney over at PaulaMooney.blogspot.com for turning me on to StatBrain.com.

FYI, in case you’re interested in this kind of stuff, I get lots of helpful tech hints from Paula’s blog. She’s an online entrepreneur who was a techie in the corporate world. A non-techie myself, her occasional tips and hints come in handy.

3. Advertise Button: One major pet peeve I had with some blogs/websites who marketed for ad dollars is that they made it hard to find the information on their site.

This bowled me over. I mean, if I want somebody to buy something from me, the least I’m going to do is make it easy to find out what the requirements are. A simple universal “Advertise,” or “Advertise with Us” button will do.

4. Announce My Ad: Finally, one thing I would like to have seen more of is something along the lines of “Please Visit Our Sponsors” category.

While this is paid-for advertising and people will ignore it, many won’t. It calls attention to the fact that, “Hey, there are some products/services here that might interest you.”

5. Explaining Rate: A few websites/blogs I visited made it hard to understand exactly what their rate was. I hate it when things are explained in terms of “CPM” or “Ad Units.”

While this is standard Madison Avenue ad agency jargon, many don’t understand the jargon. I’ve been in publishing forever and should understand this terminology, but it still confuses me and I have to stop and figure it out. In most cases, this just seems ostentatious and unnecessary. A simple $30 for $30 days will do.

One of my sisters majored in Advertising & Communications at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and one of the rules of advertising she learned was, “If you confuse the customer, you lose the sale.” Sage advice.

For better or worse, these are the things that stood out to me as I actively went to spend some ad dollars. If your ad sales are not what you think they should be, perhaps some of the reasons listed here are why.

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5 Reasons Freelance Writing Websites & Blogs Don’t Make Money on Ads

Last month, for perhaps the first time since I started writing ebooks, I started to place ads to promote them – small ads on popular freelance writing sites.

On quite a few sites I ran across, I wanted to place an ad, but hated where the ads were placed, so I didn’t. I think a lot of website owners who are seeking to monetize their sites via ads are losing out.

As a potential advertiser, here a few things that would make me advertise with you – and a few others that turned me off.

Things that Make Me Want to Spend Money to Advertise On A Site & Some That Don’t

1. Ad Placement: Many webmasters bury ads or give them inappropriate placement. For example, on some popular freelance writing blogs, I saw ads that were placed below the “About”, “Feeds” Categories” and “Archives sections.

If I’m spending money with a site I want my ad to be as prominent as possible. To me, this signals that you think your “Categories” section is more important than my ad.

The reason I was turned off when I saw this is that many sites have quite an extensive “Categories” section. This means in some cases that ads are near the bottom quarter of the page where it’s less likely to be seen. 

So, if you’re seeking advertiser, give them the most prominent placement possible; after all, it’s what they’re paying for.

2. Traffic Generation Stats: I ran across one site that said something to the effect of “we’re growing; take advantage of low ad rates now.” But, there were no hard and fast stats.

Don’t make advertisers search for your traffic generation stats. If you’re seeking ad dollars, the most important reason advertisers are considering advertising with you is your traffic generation.

Many webmasters try to monetize their sites too soon – ie, when their traffic levels are not high enough to justify seeking advertisers. What should this standard be? I don’t know, every niche is different.

As for freelance writing sites, I did some poking around to find out traffic levels of some of the most popular sites to see how they all compared. And, you know what, even wildly popular freelance writing sites don’t get as much traffic as one would think.  I’m not naming names because I don’t want to offend. But a couple of the most popular sites I checked get between 3K-10K/day.

I was surprised because I expected much more. Makes me feel good about the 1,000+ visitors/day my site gets.

Want to get a good handle on the traffic a site generates. Mosey on over to StatBrain.com. And, thanks to Paula Mooney over at PaulaMooney.blogspot.com for turning me on to StatBrain.com.

FYI, in case you’re interested in this kind of stuff, I get lots of helpful tech hints from Paula’s blog. She’s an online entrepreneur who was a techie in the corporate world. A non-techie myself, her occasional tips and hints come in handy.

3. Advertise Button: One major pet peeve I had with some blogs/websites who marketed for ad dollars is that they made it hard to find the information on their site.

This bowled me over. I mean, if I want somebody to buy something from me, the least I’m going to do is make it easy to find out what the requirements are. A simple universal “Advertise,” or “Advertise with Us” button will do.

4. Announce My Ad: Finally, one thing I would like to have seen more of is something along the lines of “Please Visit Our Sponsors” category.

While this is paid-for advertising and people will ignore it, many won’t. It calls attention to the fact that, “Hey, there are some products/services here that might interest you.”

5. Explaining Rate: A few websites/blogs I visited made it hard to understand exactly what their rate was. I hate it when things are explained in terms of “CPM” or “Ad Units.”

While this is standard Madison Avenue ad agency jargon, many don’t understand the jargon. I’ve been in publishing forever and should understand this terminology, but it still confuses me and I have to stop and figure it out. In most cases, this just seems ostentatious and unnecessary. A simple $30 for $30 days will do.

One of my sisters majored in Advertising & Communications at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and one of the rules of advertising she learned was, “If you confuse the customer, you lose the sale.” Sage advice.

For better or worse, these are the things that stood out to me as I actively went to spend some ad dollars. If your ad sales are not what you think they should be, perhaps some of the reasons listed here are why.

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How Will a Recession Affect Freelance Writers? Insight into What It Takes to Land Gigs in a Down Economy

This question was written about recently on ChrisBlogging.com. He states, “Personally, I do not know much about American economics. …. While it is hard to predict the future, a lot of so-called experts feel that a recession is on the way. Like most, this worries me for a number of different reasons.”…

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SEO Writing: How to Convince Potential Clients to Hire You

As a freelance SEO writer, I send out a lot of queries. I think I’m clear about the services I provide. But, as human beings, we tend to get our wires crossed, so sometimes I receive responses from potential clients that kinda throw me off guard….

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4 Tips for Applying to Freelance Writing Jobs on Craigslist to Get the Job

I recently landed three new clients in one day. Hence, I was slammed – too much work to meet all the deadlines without help. So, I immediately placed an ad on Craigslist for SEO writers (SEO writing is my new thing).

Over the next 24 hours, I received roughly 75 responses, and they’re still pouring in, fully a week after I placed the ad. That’s a lot of competition. I outsourced work to three writers from that ad – and have outsourced more work since then. Two of the three I worked with I plan to outsource more work to when I need help.

My point? Once an employer uses you, they will most likely use you again and again and again. Following are some things that, as an “employer,” turned me off, and others that made freelancers stand out (and made me want to call them).

Remember, I’ve been a recruiter for over a decade, so the following tips come with a healthy dose of experience behind them.

4 Things Not to Do When Applying to Freelance Writing Jobs on Craigslist (& Other Freelance Writing Jobs)

1. Don’t Ask for More Information – yet. Why? Because it means more work for the person who’s looking for help – at precisely the time they don’t have the time to do more work.

When I got responses like, “Can you send more info?” or “I’ve never done this type of work before, but …” or, “I’m interested in learning more …” I immediately clicked through to the next responder.

My answer to all of these questions is an emphatic “No.” As in:

No I don’t have time to send you more info – because I’m on deadline; and

“No I can’t work with you if you’ve never done this type of work before because I can’t train you – because I’m on a deadline;” and

“No, I don’t have time to teach you right now, although I’m thrilled you may be interested in learning more – because I’m on deadline.”

I thought the ad I wrote was pretty detailed. It gave enough information for someone with the kind of experience I was looking for to be able to assess the job – without more detailed info UNTIL they were hired for the job.

TIP: If you read an ad and can do what it asks, then don’t request more info up front – because the important info (deadline, rate, type of writing, etc.) should be in the ad. Wait until you’ve been hired and then ask questions.

Now, there are bad ads, no doubt, that require more information. But, I’m going to go out on a limb and say these tend to be more of the exception than the rule simply because someone who needs help – NOW – tends to give enough information so that a person with the experience they’re looking for will know exactly what is entailed.

The responses that caught my eye were short and sweet and went something like this: I am replying to the ad for SEO writers.  I have written SEO articles in the past and currently I blog at [insert blog name]. I have attached my resume with writing samples as well as a sample of my SEO writing.  Thank you!

This provided all the things I needed to assess if they were right for the job, namely: (i) experience, (ii) writing samples, (iii) rate acceptance (this was implied); and (iv) willingness to do the work.

Perfect!

2. Hedge-Your-Bet Writers: What do I mean by this? I received quite a few responses like the following:

“I am a [insert FT profession] and an experienced writer seeking freelance opportunities.  If this opening is still available please contact me directly via this email.  I can provide my CV and more information upon request.”

What’s wrong with this? A couple of things, namely:

(i) The person obviously freelanced on the side. And, while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, it’s not something I need to know unless I ask because I immediately think, “Are they going to be able to meet my deadline?”

If you can get the work done within the specified time, there’s no need to alert me that you have other responsibilities – unless I ask you directly.

(ii) The second thing that made me pass on this respondent is that he offered to send me his CV “on request.” What are you waiting for? Send it to me now. All his email did was put more work on me – at exactly the time I didn’t have any time.

I call these types of responses “hedge-your-bet” writers because I feel like they’re putting out feelers and if something comes along that fits their schedule or that they feel like doing, they’ll take it.

Freelancers who are serious about making money market for work and take what comes in – as long as it meets their criteria (eg, rate, deadline, etc.).

3. Incomplete Writers: Incomplete writers are first cousins to hedge-your-bet writers. How? They’re not set up to do what you want, but if you give them the job then they “could be.”

For example, this was a response I received to my ad:I do not presently have a PayPal account but I could set one up.”

As PayPal is free to set up and takes about two minutes, there’s no need for me, the employer, to know that you’re not fully equipped to handle my needs. Why would I use you, when I could use someone who has the setup I requested in my ad?

Especially in cases where you can quickly get what the employer requests, respond as if you have everything they ask you for because what if you do land the assignment. Don’t give them a reason not to contact you.

Furthermore, in this specific example, I thought, how long has this person been writing for the web/freelancing if he/she doesn’t have a PayPal account. Most of us do, or at least some form of online payment processing method. So, it caused me to question how much they knew about SEO writing at all.

4. Loquacious Writers: This is a basic, but I felt obligated to include it anyway. Don’t send a life history. A brief professional outline is all you need to send to potential employers, along with a few writing samples.

I received responses from freelancers that told me why they needed the job, why the felt they were perfect for the job and how it was their dream to be a freelance writer. These all peg you as a beginner – and in some cases, unprofessional. And, it will get you sent to the slush pile almost every time.

Final Insight into Responding to Ads for Freelance Work: When employers place an ad on a major freelance site like Craigslist, they’re probably going to get quite a few responses.

They scan through them quickly, looking for the person who has the qualifications they’re looking for and can meet their deadline.

All employers really want to know is if you can handle the job, in a timely manner, for the rate they’re paying. Only info that supports these things primarily is necessary – everything else is basically immaterial.

Sincerely,
Yuwanda Black, Publisher
InkwellEditorial.com

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SEO Copywriters: How to Stop Competing on Rate & Win as Many Clients as You Can Handle

As I contemplated writing this article, I thought, another one on this dreaded topic (freelance writing rates). “Why can’t we all just get along,” is the motto that is running itself over and over in my head right now. BUT, I’m going to tackle this anyway. Sometimes, progress just takes a while….

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Blog Marketing: 7 Tips to Get More Weekend Traffic for Your Blog

This post was updated (a bit) on 5/4/2012.

Conventional wisdom is that blogging on the weekend is not a good idea simply because there is less Internet traffic. However, can you use weekend blogging to increase your traffic and make more money? …

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Freelance Writing Jobs: 4 Ways to Increase Your Freelance Writing Income in 2008

Original Title: 4 Ways to Increase Your Freelance Writing Income in 2008

I’ve been freelancing since 1993, and have been in the publishing industry since 1987. As such, I’m often asked for advice from other freelance writers.

 As the New Year is a great time to re-evaluate, re-invent and re-assess goals, I want to add to the advice I gave in this article about landing more freelance writing jobs, based on some of the queries I’ve received over the past year from readers.

All of the following is from my personal experience.

4 Things You Can Do To Make More Money as a Freelance Writer in 2008

1. Broaden Your Skill Set: This is possibly the best thing you can do to make more money as a freelance writer.

My personal experience: This year, I started to write SEO content (aka article writing, seo content provider, web writer). And boy am I glad I did!

As I detail in this article, I went from 0 clients to making $250/day with just a couple of weeks of marketing. This past December was the busiest one I’ve had in years. Practically all of the projects were from SEO clients. I even picked up a new client on Christmas Eve.

I’m excited about 2008 because I have several clients lined up who want me to start on projects for them in January.

If I’d never taken the time to find out what SEO writing was all about, I would have missed out on what is rapidly becoming one of my biggest money making streams.

2. Don’t Listen to Other Freelance Writers: The internet is all about the ready sharing of information. BUT, this is a sword that can cut two ways.

Take my SEO writing experience. Once I started looking into it, I found a lot of info that didn’t make it sound too good. In fact, I’d say 95% of what I read about SEO writing wasn’t good.

Many freelancers told stories of how clients didn’t want to pay a decent article rate (eg, 500 words for $4). I also read accounts of freelance writers not being paid at all for the work they turned in. Then there were the stories of burnout (eg, writing 100 articles in 3 days time).

In spite of all of this, my gut told me that I could make a go of it in this niche. I brought all of my business experience to the forefront as I was investigating this niche.

And I said to myself, “this type of writing is new enough, there is a vast enough need and there are not that many professional writers doing it that I can make a successful go of it.” My gut just told me so.

And, I was right. But, if I’d believed almost everything I read about SEO writing, I would have dismissed it – and closed the door on a great opportunity.

I guess the point I’m trying to get across is, don’t be so quick to dismiss an opportunity because of what everyone else says. If an opportunity appeals to you, take some time to look into it.

Which brings me to my next point . . .
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3. Develop Multiple Income Streams: When you start to investigate different opportunities, you’re going to run across some amazing ways to make money as a freelance writer.

Select two or three complementary ways to make money. Developing complementary income streams will make it easier. Your secondary income streams should take less time and effort than your primary income stream.

For example, I write ebooks, and produce freelance writing and teleseminars. This goes hand-in-hand with my primary way of making a living – writing/editing for clients.

Passive Income Tip: Try to develop secondary passive income streams. For example, I set up an Inkwell Editorial Amazon Store featuring books on how to make money as a freelance writer. It took me about 20 minutes to set up. I don’t have to do anything to maintain it – passive income at its best.

4. Listen to Clients for Chances to Expand Your Service Offerings: Sometimes, opportunity knocks on your door so often, that you’d be crazy not to take advantage of it.

My personal experience: I’ve been asked by three different clients in the last month if I do blog writing (eg, update blogs). I don’t, but, starting the New Year, I’m going to.

Blog posting goes hand-in-hand with SEO writing. Hence, I’d be missing out on numerous opportunities to increase my income. 

So, listen to your clients. Have they been consistently asking for a service you don’t provide? Do you find yourself referring customers to other service providers to a service you can easily provide? Is there a service you don’t want to actually do, but can outsource to others and still make a fee off of it?

Extra Service Tip: When you are seeking to expand your service offerings, look for opportunities that compliment services you’re already providing. This provides three distinct advantages:

3 Advantages to Expanding Your Freelance Writing Service Offerings

(i) Save Time: Take my blog posting example. As I already provide SEO content, adding blog posting to my service offerings is seamless.

Most blog postings are 250-350 words. The SEO article writing I do consists of articles that range from 500-1,000 words. It’s just a different variation of a service I already provide (one that takes less time, no less). How easy is that!

(ii) Save Money: As you’re targeting the same group of clients, you don’t have to spend money to target a different demographic.

Also, there should be nothing to train for, set up, educate yourself on, etc. And, in cases where there is, it should be very nominal.

(iii) Create Client Loyalty: Service offerings that compliment your existing services increases your clients’ loyalty. I think of it as the WalMart marketing approach. Eg, why would you go anyplace else when you can get all of your writing needs met here?

Furthermore, new service offerings give you a reason to contact existing clients again – eg, “XYZ Writing now offers the following service for your convenience.” Having a legitimate reason to stay top of your clients’ mind is never a bad idea.

Freelance writing is not a static profession. Every year brings new opportunities to make more money. Knowing how, when and where to take advantage of these will ensure that you get a “raise” every year – and it can be greater than any raise you get from a 9-5 job – if you are smart enough to capitalize on the opportunities.

Here’s to a successful financial year in 2008.

Happy New Year!

Yuwanda

make-money-on-backpageP.S.: Want to start a successful career where you have the mobility to live and work where you please? Visit our freelance writing bookstore for a ton of opportunities (freelance writing and internet marketing) to get you started.

P.P.S.: Want an easy, fast way to get started in affiliate marketing, making as much as $50, $100 or $150/day? Get How to Make Money Placing Ads on Free Classified Ad Sites (ie, Backpage.com). If you want to make some easy money promoting affiliate products on free classified ad sites, this ebook is for you. I’ve personally sold tens of thousands of dollars of e-products (my own and affiliate products) doing this since January 2009.

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SEO Copywriting Success: From 0 Clients to $250/Day in Less than Two Weeks

I’m amazed at the month I’ve had. One new client I’ve already completed four projects for, and three more serious inquiries for work starting in January. Remember, December is supposed to be a slow month for freelance writers. …

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Long Tail Keywords: How they can help you convert 30% more of your site’s surfers into buyers

If you’ve never heard of the phrase long-tail keywords, you may be missing out on tons of search engine traffic. Why? How? To answer this question, let’s first define it….

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How Often Should You Update Your Site to Rank Well in Search Engines?

Have a freelance writing website that’s not generating any business? If you are a freelance writer and you are trying to monetize your site, eg,  sell an ebook, a seminar, etc. ranking well in the search engines is key. As a freelance writer, you probably have limited time and practically no budget. One of the things you can  do for free to generate traffic is update your website blog. But, how often? …

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