Archives for March 2013

Article Marketing: 8 Reasons I’ve Double Downed on This Internet Marketing Strategy This Year

In my opinion, article marketing doesn’t get the credit it deserves from many SEO professionals. There are a few reasons for this, mainly the 2011 Google Farmer Update (aka Panda Update), which affected sites like EzineArticles, Associated Content and HubPages – deeming them little more than “content farms.”

In spite of this, I continue to invest in article marketing. In fact, I’ve doubled down on the strategy this year. I write 3-5 articles per week and submit them to EzineArticles.com, the #1 article marketing directory on the web. This is up from 3-5 per month last year. To this end, following are . . .

8 Reasons I’ve Increased My Article Marketing Efforts This Year

I. Content Marketing: Article marketing is just another form of content marketing. And we know how hot that is right now, right? In case you didn’t, here’s some food for thought:

Spending on content marketing, video marketing, and social media content creation will increase by 15.1 percent in 2013 to total $118.4 billion, according to eMarketer. What does that mean? It means more and more marketers are allocating their budgets toward content, and there is no sign of its slowing down. [Source: Ragan Communications, 24 Stats about the Importance of Content Marketing]

But,” you may be thinking, “search engines want unique content. When you market with articles, the content is not unique.”

And you’re right. This is why article marketing must be just part of an overall content marketing strategy.

For example, I have several niche blogs I update to sell affiliate products. I update them anywhere from 1-3 times per week. Instead of writing all new posts every week, sometimes I post an article from EzineArticles.com.

In essence, I supplement my original content with relevant, high-quality articles I find in article marketing directories. This cuts down on the writing I have to do, which is a blessing because between writing my own ebooks, publishing 2-3 newsletters per week, writing for clients and updating my niche blogs, some days I just don’t have time to create new posts.

But again, I do this sparingly; it’s a part of my overall content marketing strategy. And, you know what . . .

II. Article Marketing Works: This is probably the main reason I continue to use article marketing. I rank well in several niches, eg, SEO writing, because some of my articles in these niches appear on the first few pages of Google.

For the keyword phrase, “what is SEO writing,” content written by me appears on the first page of Google in two spots: #1 (the PRLog.com article); and #8 (The EzineArticles.com article). See?

What Is SEO Writing: Google Keyword Phrase Ranking

I have several ebooks and e-classes I’ve written in this niche, ranging in price from $10 for an individual title, to $99.95 for a bundled SEO content writing package; to $997 for the SEO writing course.

Think being on the first page of Google for these keyword phrases helps?

You bet!

III. Article Marketing Works for Years: Piggybacking on the last point, the two articles in the graphic were written in 2010 and 2009, respectively. Those articles have been ranking on the first page of Google – in various places – for years.

IV. Google Doesn’t Hate It: Contrary to popular opinion, Google doesn’t hate article marketing. It’s all in how it’s used. Again, it has to be “a part” of an overall content marketing strategy.

Here’s what Matt Cutts, Google’s SEO guru says about it. Kim Castleberry over at Just-Ask-Kim.com summed it up beautifully, writing:

Google did drop the ranking of those article directory sites in a recent algorithm change [Panda 2011] and has “somewhat” devalued links from such places … but at this moment, the Google SEO/SERP algorithm still appears to us to give some value to those links and the algorithm places strong weight to sites with backlinks.

What this means is that it’s not that article marketing will not build backlinks for you now, its [sic] that it is not a great primary traffic course and needs considered in tandem with other methods. [Source: What Does Google Think of Article Marketing?]

Here’s a video of directly from Matt Cutts himself explaining Google’s position.

V. Easy to Dispense Info: This is another reason I like marketing with articles on the internet. It’s easy to dispense helpful info to a lot of people in one fell swoop.

Many times web surfers have told me that they ran across some content of mine on another site and were “so glad I ran across that article because it brought me to your site, which has so much good information.”

VI. Eyeballs on Your Content: Below is a graphic from EzineArticles showing my article views for a 24-day period (click for larger view). Over 1,200 views (50+ per day) with 166 click thrus; averaging a 13.4% click thru rate.

This means others are viewing your content. The great thing about it is these tend to be highly targeted click thrus.

Article Marketing Stats

Know what the response rate of direct mail is? 4.4%, as reported by the Direct Marketing Association’s 2012 Response Rate Report. And not to mention, article marketing is free, whereas direct mail can be very expensive.

Another thing I like about EzineArticles (even though I hate how persnickety they are about their submission guidelines), is that they give you performance reports like these that show which keyword phrases web surfers used to land on your article.

This allows you to write more content around those phrases that get a high number of click thrus. Another important metric I use is the one that tells you how many views an article has, which allows you to determine – and write about – topics users want to know more about.

VII: Community Building: I remember reading a post on John Chow’s blog a few years ago (in case you don’t know, he’s one of the biggies in affiliate marketing). One of the things he talked about was getting away from relying so much on search engine (Google) traffic. In the 2007 post, It’s All About Pushing the Envelope (which is linked to in the above paragraph), he wrote:

. . .  if you live by the Google, you’ll die by the Google. I do not depend on Google for my traffic and neither should you. Thousands of people have this blog bookmarked and nearly 6,000 read it by RSS. Way too many webmaster put too much time and effort into Google to try and gain a number one ranking. Google doesn’t stand still (they can’t afford to). They are always tweaking their search system so the chance of holding a number one spot forever is next to zero.

You should work on getting Google traffic for your blog, but you shouldn’t do it the exclusion of everything else. If all your traffic is coming from Google, then you need to work on getting other traffic sources.

One of the ways John built his community was via his RSS feeds and newsletter subscribers. Today, that includes his social media accounts as well.

As I mention in the conclusion section below, if you use article marketing as a lead generation tool, it helps with building your online community of followers. They are your loyal customers; the ones who will buy from you over and over again. Article marketing can be a conduit for reaching them first though, and turning them into loyalists.

VIII: Free Content: The final reason I write and distribute free articles is that many bloggers, newsletter publishers, internet marketers, webmasters, etc. either don’t like to write, don’t have time to write, don’t want to write and/or or don’t have the skill to write. Hence, they’re always looking for well-written, free content for their endeavors.

I’m happy to give them mine.

Marketing with Articles in 2013: 5 Article Marketing Tips

Learn more about how to do article marketing right in 2013, namely:

a) Write longer articles: Many article directories have a 400-word minimum. Mine tend to be between 450-700 words or more. Proof? See articles in my article directory.

b) Make sure you write high-quality content: This is where so many fail. Just because you’re going to submit your article to an article directory doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be as well-written and useful as a piece of content you intend to use solely on your site.

c) Don’t Keyword Stuff: Many article directories won’t accept content that is keyword stuffed. These days, Google and other search engines want 1-2% density; that’s it. If you use the “don’t use the keyword phrase more than once every 100 o 150 words,” rule of writing SEO content, you’ll be just fine.

d) Write Themed Content: As in, use secondary and tertiary keyword phrases to round out copy. Learn more about writing themed SEO articles.

e) Supplement Article Marketing with Original Content: Again, article marketing is highly effective when used IN CONJUNCTION WITH other traffic-generating strategies.

Google doesn’t want to come to a site and see ALL of the content coming from article directories. You should post original content to your blog all the time (eg, at least once a week in my opinion). Articles from article directores should be used to drive traffic to your site, where surfers should be able to find more in-depth, unique material.

Internet Article Marketing: Conclusion

I hope what you take away from this discussion is that marketing with articles will always be effective if you produce good content because web surfers look for information. Remember the articles I wrote back in 2009 and 2010 that are on the first page of Google for “what is seo writing?” This proves that good content will continue to rank well, even if it’s found in an article directory/content farm.

Where people get it twisted is that they lump a lot of the bad content found in article directories (and there’s a lot of it) in with the gems that can be found.

Think of article marketing as a lead generator.

It whets the appetite of the web surfer enough to want to click through to your site to learn more. In my opinion, this is its real value – that and the fact that you get in front of many more eyeballs. But article marketing should never be the foundation of your content marketing strategy; in the long run that just won’t fly with search engines, who prefer unique content.

Hope your Tuesday’s been productive!

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Self-Publishing Short Romance: A First-Time Author’s Success Story

In February of this year, my sister wrote a short romance novel. To her amazement, she sold 541 copies in 25 days. She also writes non-fiction and hadn’t had this kind of immediate success with any of those ebooks, so she was really pleasantly surprised.

FYI, I write non-fiction, how-to ebooks and none of mine have this kind of ruanway success either. Sales tend to have a slower build with non-fiction ebooks in my experience, unless of course you’re some famous author. I’ve had good success self-publishing in this genre  though. I think it’s because I have a few tightly defined niches (ie, freelance writing and self-publishing mainly).

Anyway, back to my sister’s ebook . . .

She wrote it in about week; it was about 65 pages long. The morning after uploading  it, she checked her ebook sales  and was astounded to see 13 sales — and her numbers kept growing throughout the day.

Self-Publishing Profits: Over $1,100 in Just 3 Weeks

As I said, some 25 days later, when I interviewed her about her self-publishing success, she’d sold 541 copies.

She priced it at $2.99, which means she netted approximately $2.09 from Amazon for every copy sold (authors get 70% of the sales price for all titles priced between $2.99 and $9.99 when they sell ebooks on Amazon).

So, she earned $1,130.69 from that one ebook — in just over three weeks.

Now, while this isn’t a fortune, the idea is to think in terms of multiple titles. For example, imagine if you wrote one short ebook per month — 12 per year. And, what if you sold just one hundred copies of each title per month (about 3 per day for each title).

If you priced your ebooks at $2.99 and sold them on Amazon, under their current author payout system (70% for this price point), you would earn over $2,5000 per month.

See the potential? This is why self-publishing can be so lucrative.

3/25/2013 Update: FYI, I just called my sister to get an update on her ebook sales for this post, and she kindly shared the following numbers with me.

110 ebooks sold so far this month (averaging 4.4 copies per day this month for that one title); and

651 copies of that one ebook sold in total since she first published it on February 3rd of this year.

Total Earned from 1 Ebook in just over 7 weeks = Over $1,360

So, “shorts” (ie, short fiction ebooks) do sell. Of course they must be well written, have a professional ebook cover and be thoroughly edited, copy edited and proofread to have a shot at sellling. But you knew this already, right?

The point is, you don’t have to wait to finish a full-length novel to make money selling ebooks. And I believe this trend of selling short works of fiction is only going to grow in popularity, for the reasons I discuss in the post Self-Publishing Profits: Do Short Fiction eBooks Sell? $1,100 In 25 Days Says Yes – Here’s Why, on e-Junkie.info, a blog I write for twice per month.

Click thru to learn why, and share your feedback/experience.

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Is Self-Publishing for You?

Making money ebook-publishing-packselling ebooks and ecourses online is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s not for lazy people. It’s not for those who need others to motivate them.

The Ultimate Self-Publishing Package: 4 Ebooks. 1 Low Price.

But if you are the anti-thesis of this, ie, courageous, hard-working and self-motivated, you really can make a lot of money selling ebooks and ecourses online (I’m proof of this) – if you don’t forget that last ingredient – perseverance.

Share Your Ebook Selling Tips and Questions?

Have any ebook selling tips you can share? Have a question about how to make money selling ebooks online? Please share in the comments section below.

P.S.: Serious about Starting a Self-Publishing Career? The One Thing You’re Going to Need is a Blog. Learn why and how to start one quickly.

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Freelance Writing Advice on Estimating Jobs: How Underestimating a Job Cost Me Over 50% of the Profits

If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, you know that I’ve been a freelancer since 1993. Hence, I’m kinda embarrassed to tell you what I’m about to tell you, but alas . . . it is what it is. Yesterday, I lost over 50% of the shoulda-been profits on a proofreading / copy editing job by severely underestimating the time it would take me to complete it. And, the kicker is – I’ve been working with this particular client for close to a decade. Yes, really!

So, what went wrong?

Well, here’s the story. Please heed this freelance writing advice so you won’t find yourself in the same boat.

My Story: How Underestimating a Proofreading / Copy Editing Job Cost Me Over 50% of the Profits

As I said, I’ve been working with this client for close to a decade – if not a little longer. He publishes a small, niche men’s/hip hop/pop culture magazine. He uses several writers, and also writes pieces for the publication himself.

This is important to remember because some of the articles are very well written, and others are very poorly written – to the point where what I’m doing sometimes is totally rewriting pieces, instead of just proofreading and copy editing them.

Another important factor to this story is that sometimes I won’t hear from this client for a couple of years. Then, I’ll get several jobs in succession. When you freelance and you work with a client consistently, it’s easy to get “in the groove” of their work. You can pretty much begin to predict – with great accuracy – what needs to be done to it and how long it’s going to take.

This particular time, I hadn’t heard from this client in probably about a year.

How to Estimate Freelance Writing & Editing Jobs: 3 TipsAnyway, he sends me the document – 12 double-spaced pages of content, and asks me how much it’s going to cost and how long it’s going to take.

I perused the document, reading the first few pages. The first thing I noticed is that the text is pretty clean and straightforward. I’m a pretty fast reader, editor and copy editor, so I thought it’d take me about an hour and a half – at most – to complete this project based on perusing just the first few pages.

Mistake #1.

So I quickly fired off a response to him, basing my estimate on this. And it was a firm estimate, ie, I said, “Well complete the job for $X.”

Mistake #2.

He missed the payment (deposit) deadline, which should have pushed the project back another day. But he wanted a quick turnaround – and as I thought the project was going to be easy to knock out, I told him I could still get it back to him on the originally agreed upon date.

Mistake #3.

This meant that yesterday, I had three deadlines: (i) his project; (ii) an article for a client; and (iii) the first draft of an ebook for my latest ebook writing client. Full day ahead, right?

I got up earlier than usual – because I had a full schedule – and got to work. I’d slotted 1.5 hours for his project, because I really thought I could complete it in an hour. So, it was the first one I started on.

Well, the project dragged on for three hours, which put me behind for my other two projects, which were due by close of business (5 p.m. U.S. EST).

Estimating Freelance Writing Projects: How to Avoid My Mistakes So You’re Never Underpaid for Your Time

As outlined above, I made three critical mistakes. I know better. After all, I’ve been doing this for 20 years, dammit!

But sometimes you slip up because you get lazy and don’t do the upfront assessment work that you should. Hence, following is my advice on how to avoid the mistakes I made. You can bet this won’t happen to me again because I needed that extra hour and a half like nobody’s business yesterday!

Rectifying Mistake #1 in Estimating Freelance Writing Jobs

If you’ll recall, this mistake was giving a “firm estimate.” It should have been a “conditional estimate.”

Remedy: Don’t give firm estimates unless you are 100% sure that you can complete the job within the given timeframe. Following is a response to a recent client where I had to hedge my bet when estimating.

It’s a developmental editing job that I’ll be working on this week. The email I crafted to the client read:

Until I get the manuscript in hand, I can’t tell you exactly how much it’s going to cost, so I’ll invoice you for half of the max I stated in the quote for this service (developmental editing). If I get the project and think that it’s going to be significantly more hours (ie, more than 8), I’ll let you know.

Rectifying Mistake #2 in Estimating Freelance Writing Jobs

Remember, this mistake was quickly firing off a response without doing a proper assessment of the job. I should have looked at every page – especially as it was only 12 pages. Then, I would have seen the bad writing that required a lot of my attention, which was near the end of the document.

And remember, this client uses different writers, so I should have known better than to just look at a couple of pages. Because it had been such a long time between projects though, I think I kinda forgot this aspect of working with him.

Remedy: Thoroughly go through as much of a job as you can before giving an estimate.

Rectifying Mistake #3 in Estimating Freelance Writing Jobs

In this case, the client missed the payment (deposit) deadline, which should have pushed the project back another day. But, I stuck to the original deadline.

Remedy: I should have stuck to my SEO writing company’s policy of setting the editorial calendar based on when payment is made (we don’t start on anything until a deposit is made). This meant I wouldn’t have had to tackle it at all yesterday. I’m glad I did, but boy, yesterday was a bear!

Estimating Freelance Writing and Editing Jobs: Conclusion

Estimating freelance writing and editing jobs is definitely a skill – and you’re gonna make mistakes. In my opinion though, it should take you about 6 months to get the hang of accurately doing so (if you’re getting the same type of freelance jobs over and over again).

With that being said, each job is different, eg, developmental editing is different from line editing, is different from copy editing, is different from straight proofreading, is different from writing SEO content, etc.

So take your time when crafting an estimate; and remember, it’s better to overestimate than underestimate. There is nothing like seeing the minutes tick by, knowing that every one that passes means you’re losing money – all because you estimated wrong.

One final thing – if you give a firm estimate, stick by it. It’s the only honorable thing to do – and you’ll be much more careful in the future because you’ll remember the sting of losing money.

Have You Ever Lost Money Because You Estimated Wrong on a Freelance Writing / Editing Job?

Please share in the comments section below.

And as always, I hope this insight helps.

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How One Ebook Writer Earned Over $1,000 in Less Than 1 Month – from 1 Ebook – on Amazon: Interview with Self-Publisher Cassandra Black

In a post I did recently on ebook marketing, I promised to bring you an interview with my sister, who is a writer and self-publisher also. She’s written in the neighborhood of 20 ebooks, and she writes fiction as well as non-fiction….

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Ebook Writing Jobs: 3 Things I Learned from a Recently Completed Ebook Project That Can Help You Earn More

Recently, I completed an ebook for a client, which she loved so much that she immediately ordered another one. She also referred two more prospects who want the same thing. I’m in the contract stage with one; the other was just referred yesterday.

I’m pointing this out for a reason – namely that in the age of content marketing, I see evidence in my freelance business that ebook editing and writing jobs are going to become more common in the next few years.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve probably completed between 7-10 ebooks for clients. After you do a job a certain number of times, you gain more experience and put systems in place to make them go smoother. To this end, following are three things I’ve learned that can not only make writing ebooks for clients go faster, it can help you earn more money as well.

1. Research: Every ebook needs research – I don’t care how intimately you know the subject matter. So following are two tips on research when writing ebooks.

Tip #1 on Research: Charge for a minimum number of hours for it. At my SEO writing company, we charge for a minimum of two hours. Why? If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I’ve written over 50 ebooks. And, most of them were on subjects I am intimately familiar with. But, they still required hours of research.

I put a two-hour minimum in our ebook writing contracts for research because this is the bare bone number of hours you’ll spend on ebooks of even a few pages – to make them quality.


Tip #2 on Research: Have clients submit research materials to you. For example, on the recent ebook I just finised for the client, I asked her to forward links to materials that supported the vision she had for her ebook. While I’ll still have to do research to complement hers, with her initial research, I can be sure I’m on the right track.

2. Vision: Have potential ebook writing clients fill out a questionnaire that gives you pertinent details about the subject matter. Here’s the ebook writing questionnaire we use at New Media Words.

This keeps you focused, and helps you to give the client exactly what they want. This will also cut down on your research and writing time because it lays out the client’s vision – in their own words.

3. Cap the Price: My client immediately ordered a second ebook upon me turning in the first one – literally within minutes. And one of the reasons I think she did so is that I put a cap on the project rate. For example, I said something to the effect of:

The estimated price for this 15-page ebook is $1,200, but we can cap that at $1,050 if you return the contract within 24 hours and agree to all stipulations within.

Clients like project caps because they know exactly what the ebook is going to cost them. They don’t have to worry about the research hours stretching on, or the editing phase taking forver (hence, costing more). It eases their minds and makes it more comfortable for them to sign on the dotted line.

Note: Only cap price once you and the client have clearly gone over the parameters of the project and are on the same page. Our ebook writing contract has a stipulation about projects that change editorial direction mid-stream and/or deadlines that aren’t adhered to by clients.

Completing Ebook Editing and Writing Jobs: Conclusion

I like writing ebooks for clients because I like to work on “bulk projects.” Hence, when I have one on my desk, I know exactly what I’m doing for the next two or three days.

These types of writing jobs are also very lucrative; you earn a chunk of change at one time – which every freelancer can appreciate. Just doing a couple per month can be the equivalent of a full-time salary for many. But proceed cautiously . . . it can be easy to work for pennies doing these types of writing jobs if you don’t price them correctly. Heed these tips and you’ll be less likely to do so.

Have you completed any ebook writing and editing jobs? Have you seen an uptick in these types of requests from clients? Have additional questions about this type of writing job? Please leave your feedback in the comments section below.

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P.P.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.

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