Monthly Archives: September 2012

Tips for Successful Freelance Writing

Freelance WritingWhether writing is your only source of income or just a way of making an extra income, you need to handle it with the seriousness it deserves. The following are some tips that will help you succeed as a freelance writer.

1. Create a professional working environment

Establish a workspace which will maximize your productivity and comfort. If you, like many freelance writers, work from a home office, make sure your friends and family understand that they should respect your time and space.

2. Deliver quality work

You should always make sure your work is of the highest quality possible. Write flawlessly, with no factual or grammatical errors. Double check your work before submitting it. If you establish yourself as an expert in your field, your clients will always think of you when they have new projects.

3. Ask for reasonable compensation

Find out what is reasonable payment in your specific market niche and ask for it. However, when starting out as a freelance writer, it is advisable to begin at the low end of the spectrum. As you build a name for yourself, you can start asking for higher compensation. Don’t bother with projects that pay nothing, unless the client or topic has some significance for you. In the highly competitive business of freelance writing, it is very important to establish your monetary worth. Educate yourself regarding negotiation and marketing skills so as to enhance your chances of getting favorable compensation.

4. Be disciplined

When it comes to freelance writing, discipline is very important. It is generally advisable to handle the least pleasant or most difficult tasks first, and then tackle the easier tasks last.

5. Build relationships with other writers

You could come up with client-exchange agreements with other freelance writers. If you are offered a project but you are too busy to take it up, you could recommend someone else for the job. Other writers are then likely to return the favor. Don’t see your fellow writers as enemies from whom you have to hide client contacts.

6. Never miss deadlines

Never, ever miss deadlines. If, for some reason, you can’t meet a deadline, make sure your client is informed as soon as possible. Ask for a brief extension and assure the client that they will have the work delivered to them within the specified period. Whatever you do, be sure to keep your promise.

7. Be firm regarding timely payment

Some clients assume that freelance writing is a casual activity for you, and might not see why they should pay you on time. This assumption needs to be dealt with firmly. At the beginning of every project, agree with the client on when payment is due and insist that they keep their end of the deal. A client who does not care about when they pay you is not worth your investment of energy and time.

8. Ask for references

Request some of your satisfied clients to write brief testimonials for you, which can then be used to create an online portfolio. When you apply for new writing jobs, remember to include a link to your online portfolio.

Why is a Blog Important for Business?

Nowadays, more and more companies are realizing the importance of having a business blog. The following are some of the general characteristics of a blog:

  • Writing a blog does not require any technical expertise
  • Visitors can leave comments after reading blog posts
  • Information can be distributed automatically and instantly
  • Blogs allow multiple authors to contribute posts
  • Blog posts are automatically organized into archives and categories

Business BlogA business blog is a powerful communications and marketing tool that can help companies interact effectively with all the stakeholders, from employees to suppliers and customers. Here are some of the benefits of a business blog.

1. Opportunity to position yourself as an authority

A business blog allows you to display your experience, knowledge and skill on issues related to your industry. Over time, people are likely to perceive you as an expert in your field.

2. Business differentiation

A business blog gives you the chance to demonstrate how your services and business stand out from your competition. When customers appreciate the benefits you have to offer, your sales are likely to increase.

3. Search engine marketing

A business blog which has fresh, relevant and well structured content will enjoy high rankings in search engines. This means your company, as well as your products will be more visible.

4. Communicating with customers

A business blog offers the opportunity to pass on information to customers in an informal and approachable manner. Customers get to learn about your company, as well as your products and services, innovations and achievements. In addition, a blogs allow for two-way communication. Besides passing information to customers, you can also receive feedback from them. When you take time to listen to their concerns and respond in helpful way, customers will feel important and valued. This will significantly enhance customer loyalty, as well as increase repeat purchases.

5. Brand awareness

Every company has a brand message that they would want to send out to its customers. A business blog offers a great opportunity for promoting a brand image. Consistent branding will build trust with customers, thus enhancing customer loyalty.

6. Internal communications

A business blog is also a powerful tool for communicating with employees. It allows information to be shared instantly by multiple people. Instead of waiting for the monthly or weekly newsletter, employees can access the latest news on a daily basis.

Conclusion

A business blog can be a very effective tool for enhancing customer loyalty and increasing sales. However, such blogs need to be written in a way that attracts customers, rather than turning them away. Therefore, steer clear of corporate jargon and rhetoric. Take time to reply to customer comments. Above all, be sure to offer content which is current and helpful to customers.

Guidelines for Writing Scannable Blog Posts

Blog PostMost web users are very impatient people. They scan a web page and within a matter of seconds decide whether to stay on and read further or just move on to a different page. With this consideration, you need to ensure that your posts are crafted in a way that is scannable, as well as visually appealing.

The following are some guidelines which can help you make your blog posts scannable.

1. Work on your titles

A title is a very important component of your blog post. You should therefore ensure that your titles are concise and clear enough to enable web users understand what your post is about. In addition, make sure your titles contain keywords which are relevant to your post. This will help improve the search engine ranking of your page.

2. Use headings

By using headings, you will break your content down into smaller sections thus making it scannable. Make sure your headings are clear, concise, relevant and search engine optimized.

3. Use italics and bold

Italics and bold formatting in your posts can be very effective in directing attention to particular texts. However, if overused, your post will end up looking messy and difficult to read.

4. Make lists

Numbered or bulleted lists are also very useful for breaking down long posts into content which can be scanned easily.

5. Use images

Images are useful for adding color to a blog, directing attention to a particular post and enhancing search engine optimization. However, avoid using excess images since this will end up cluttering your post and making it difficult to read your text. In addition, before publishing an image on your blog, make sure you have permission. There are numerous sites where you can find free photos to use. Finally, take time to research about fair use and copyright laws which govern the use of images online.

6. Use links

Links can be very effective in providing additional information for readers. In addition, they are useful for search engine optimization (SEO) since text which contains links is ranked better than content without links. However, don’t overuse them. Too many links will make your post difficult to read.

7. Keep paragraphs short

Blog posts which have short paragraphs can be scanned and read easily. Short paragraphs allow you to have some white space in your posts, thus offering visual relief to readers.

10 Google Search Ranking Factors

Ranking FactorGoogle, the search engine giant, has rolled out major changes to its algorithm causing some SEO techniques to produce undesired results for many websites.

If these developments have affected your domain too, you need not worry. Despite your site’s plummet in the results pages, you can still achieve a high ranking. All you have to do is to find out which factors Google uses to determine whether your website should be at the top or bottom.

ONSITE FACTORS

These are under your direct control.

1. Quality content

If you want to gain more visitors and retain your loyal readers, you must constantly produce top-notch articles. Plus, you should publish posts that everyone can easily understand and finds informative.

2. User engagement

This is one of the most important measures of a trusted site, and the loyalty of your followers plays a major role in strengthening it. Likewise, your website’s ability to entice casual readers to stay for longer periods is a crucial factor.

3. Relevant keywords

These are the words or phrases, which the users type in search boxes to look for information. If you don’t integrate highly searched or popular terms in your content, there is no way your audience will spot you.

At the same time, you must be careful with placing too many keywords because this can lead to a penalty.

4. Site speed

It is important to remember that Web users immediately leave a portal if it takes forever to load. Therefore, you have to avoid unnecessary elements, such as Flash videos and heavy graphics, which can significantly affect a page’s loading time.

OFFSITE FACTORS

Site speedThese are mostly influenced by other publishers, readers, and visitors.

5. Link quality

The number of sites linking to you also plays a major role in getting high ranking. If you earn links from trusted sources on the Web, then you definitely have a bigger chance at being no.1.

6. Social signals

Never ignore the popularity of networking sites such as Google+, Facebook, and Twitter since a link shared on user pages can spread rapidly in a matter of minutes. That is, of course, if the content is worth sharing.

Other than backlinks, you can get social votes in the form of “Likes”, “+1’s”, bookmarks, etc. The more of these means increased exposure and higher likelihood at landing in the first page.

7. Geographical area of linking websites

Inbound links from relevant sites (similar niche and target location) are vital in helping you get to the top of Google’s search results.

8. Quality traffic

Getting a constant and steady flow of users who actually find your content relevant helps achieve the results that you desire. It is also a sign that your site is slowly becoming a trusted resource.

9. Anchor text

When you come up with words (for hyperlinks) to direct the visitors to internal or external pages, use keywords related to the content. What is more, ensure these are diverse, which means you have to target several search terms.

10. Link diversity

Like your anchor texts, the backlinks pointing to your website must come from various sites to ensure a natural link profile.

While these are only ten Google ranking factors, combining and maintaining them allow your site to work its way towards the top of the search results ladder.

 

About the Author

Emma Tomlinson is the Head of Retail at Smart Traffic, a top SEO services company in the UK offering search engine and social media marketing solutions to clients from various countries across the globe.

Guidelines for Writing Blog Contest Rules

Blog ContestNowadays, many people are using blog contests as a way of attracting traffic to their blogs, as well as rewarding loyal readers. However, if not handled properly, they can end up working against you. To protect yourself, you need to come up with appropriate and comprehensive rules which will govern your contest. Rules will ensure that there is no discontent among entrants when the winner is chosen. Unhappy losers are likely to create negative publicity for you.

Here are some things you need to consider when writing rules for your blog contest.

1. The prize

When you announce your blog contest and ask people to sign up, make sure you mention clearly what the prize is. Whenever possible, you should also provide an image of the prize. Describe the prize in detail so it will be clear to entrants what the prize actually entails.

2. Qualifications

Explain clearly what qualifications someone needs to participate in the blog contest.

3. Deadline

Set a specific date and time as the deadline for receiving entries to the blog contest. It is also very important that you indicate the time zone.

4. Prize delivery

In case you have any limitations on prize delivery, make sure you mention them clearly when calling for entries to your blog contest. For instance, if you are only ready to deliver the prize to winners in the United Kingdom, make that limitation clear in your announcement. You should also mention by what means the prize will be shipped.

5. The winners

Outline clearly and elaborately the process of choosing the winner. This is especially vital if winners will be picked in a subjective manner, as opposed to a random selection.

6. Winner notification

Clarify what means will be used to contact the winner of the contest. When joining the contest, participants should be asked to submit specific information in their entries. This will enable you to contact them in case they win and also deliver their prizes.

7. Prize acceptance

Your call for entries should have specific prize acceptance requirements. For instance, you could mention that winners will be reached in a particular way, and that they are required to respond within a certain duration (such as 72 hours), failure to which they will give up their prize. The prize acceptance requirement is therefore vital otherwise you might end up waiting for the winner’s response for a long time.

8. The alternate winner

In case the original winner fails to respond, explain the process which will be used to choose an alternate winner.

For more about running a blog contest, you might want to read the post ‘Tips for Running a Blog Contest‘.