5 Branding Tips for Building Your Biz: The Chicken & Egg Strategy

Your brand and audience are inextricably linked.

Your brand and audience are inextricably linked.

by Tracy Mallette

Your audience — meaning your combined readers, as well as potential and current customers — and your brand are inseparably linked.

Your audience builds your brand and your brand builds your audience.

Like the chicken and egg, it can be hard to know which came first – and which should come first when building your business.

The truth is: in the brand or audience question, neither comes first. They both feed each other.

The following five brand-building tips can also be used as five consecutive steps to building your audience.

1. Tell Your Story and Define Your Culture

Share Your Brand Story

Every brand has a story. What’s yours?

Why did you start your business? What led you on the quest to create your business? Was something missing in your life that you couldn’t find an existing solution for?

Chances are that’s the same problem your audience is having.

Help them relate to you and your brand by sharing your story with them.

Write up your story without your editor’s hat, then spruce it up with editing, and create a blog post or an “About” page that shares the story with your readers.

As I type this, my cat’s freaking out over a thunderstorm, and it reminds me that I should get her a ThunderShirt – a vest invented to help pets stay calm during storms.

It also reminds me of the ThunderShirt About page, which tells the story of the company’s founder Phil Blizzard and his dog Dosi. Dosi’s thunderstorm stress led Phil to invent the ThunderShirt.

Other pet owners can relate to that story and will likely trust his solution will probably work for their pet, as well.

Define Your Culture

Along with sharing your brand story, you should define your company culture.

Tell your audience exactly who you are, who you aren’t and what you stand for. Let them know what they can expect from your site.

The Bloggess does this really well. She has built an audience that loves her style and offers a warning to others: “If you are easily offended, you’re in the wrong place.” Her tagline is “Like Mother Teresa, only better.” You like her or you don’t. You’re a member of her tribe or you’re not. You fit in or you don’t. There’s no wondering if the site’s right for you.

Key Takeaway: Your story combined with your company culture will help build your true audience. Your audience will love you because you “get” them. You know what they’re going through and you share their beliefs and ideals.

2. Tell Your Audience How You Can Help Them

Spell Out the Benefits of Your Product or Service

If you’ve crafted your perfect story explaining how you’ve solved a problem with a solution that fills a need in the market, you expect your audience to realize that it’ll work for them, too.

Well, that’d be great if they just got the point and leapt over to your purchase page immediately. And some precious customers actually do that.

But you can’t assume they will.

Always spell out the benefits of your product or service to potential customers – even if you’ve explained all of the glorious ways your solution helped you in your brand story.

Specify Your Competitive Advantages

Not only should you list all of the benefits of your offer, but you should also detail the benefits of going with you over the competition.

If you’ve defined your culture, you can (and should) personalize your benefits and competitive advantages.

For example, there are a lot of copywriters out there. Why should someone choose your copywriting business over another?

If you’re Pam Foster, the answer is simple. She’s the pet copywriter – as in, she writes exclusively about pets; you don’t get to keep her. (Although that’d be cool. I’m sure there’s some copywriter out there who’s offering themselves up as your pet. Now that’s a unique audience!)

Anyone in the pet industry who’s looking for a copywriter and is overwhelmed with where to begin, can type “pet copywriter” into Google, and BAM, there’s Pam’s PetCopywriter.com website in first place.

Key Takeaway: Spelling out the benefits of your product or service, along with specifying your competitive advantages, further defines your audience and endears them to you. Not only does your company “get” them personally, but it also understands what they’re going through and how it can help them solve their problems.

3. Make Them Heroes

This goes along with the benefits you’ve highlighted via tip 2.

Don’t just solve their problems. Go above and beyond by telling your audience how your product or service will help them help others – and the accolades they’ll receive from their success.

Are you on the marketing team for a company that offers same-day plumbing services? Let your reader know that by hiring your company, your customer not only solved his/her leaky-kitchen-sink problem but became a hero to their family.

Can you just hear their spouse now? “Wait, we just discovered the kitchen sink’s leaking this morning and it’s already fixed? I thought we were gonna have to wash our dishes in the bathroom sink for a week! Whew, such a relief.”

Heather does this really well with her B2B SEO copywriting certification page. She opens with: “Over 69% of B2B marketers don’t have time to produce SEO content. Now you can help …”

She lets you know that you can be the hero to all of these crazy-busy B2B marketers – and that there’s a huge market for B2B content creation services.

Key Takeaway: Making your audience the heroes gives them a bonus. Your company solves their problem AND lets them feel extra good about helping others. When your audience feels that good about your product or service, they’ll come back for more and they’ll bring friends, which is an audience-building bonus for you, too!

4. Personalize Communication with Your Audience

This goes beyond just autofilling your subscribers’ first names in email messages.

When you really know your audience, you can put extra care and attention into communicating with them.

Heather creates and sends an email to all of her SEO Copywriting Certification graduates. In this email, she actually includes job opportunities, which I’ve never seen someone do in a newsletter before.

She knows that a lot of her certification grads are looking for freelance writing opportunities. She also knows that because they’ve taken her course, she can vouch for their skills to her business connections. She provides personalized value for her audience while also building trust and gratitude.

When you give your audience something extra, they want to give back to you.

Key Takeaway: Personalizing communication with your audience lets them know that you care about their success and happiness. They’re not just a sale to you. This will pay off for your brand through customer loyalty, repeat sales and brand evangelism.

5. Foster Your Community

When you build a brand, you’re building a community.

You’re like Irving Bacon in The Marriage License episode of I Love Lucy: You’re the mayor, the hotel owner, you run the gas station and the fire department, among other duties in your small town. (See 13:32 in the episode to get the idea.)

Here are some ways to build your audience and brand through nurturing your own online community.

  • Facilitate discussions with your community by starting a forum or LinkedIn group. Copyblogger offers a paid membership group with an online marketing forum called Authority.
  • Educate your community with a blog and content offers. Marketing automation platform HubSpot offers a marketing academy, a marketing library, an inbound marketing conference, a marketing blog, a sales blog, certifications and more to educate its audience.
  • Entertain your community through social media. Porch, a network connecting homeowners to home-service professionals, offers design-inspiration eye candy on its Pinterest page.

Here’s what Corey Eridon, managing editor of HubSpot’s blogs, had to say about its growth through audience education:

HubSpot’s cofounder Dharmesh Shah started blogging before there was even a piece of software to sell – educating the community about business, marketing and tech. Now, almost a decade later, HubSpot’s educational marketing blog has become almost inseparable from the HubSpot brand. While we’ve started to write about other subject matter over the years, what keeps people coming back to the blog is the marketing how-to articles – the pieces that answer marketers’ most fundamental questions about how to do their job every day. Those articles are how people discover HubSpot, and then rediscover it over and over as they grow in their marketing careers.

Key Takeaway: Become like a parent to your own online community by helping your audience learn and grow. Interact with, educate and entertain them. Encourage them when they’re feeling down or stressed. Offer a little tough love when necessary. Love them and they will love you back. This is the real community that comprises your brand.

Build Your Brand, Build Your Audience and Help Each Other Thrive

By defining your business story and culture, you attract and hold the interest of your audience.

Take that further a few steps further by telling that audience how you can help them, even making them heroes, and you can convert that audience into fiercely loyal customers who’ll share your brand with others.

From there, you take it over the top with personalized communication and building a warm and fuzzy community for your now tribe, and they will pay you back as brand evangelists, who can’t stop gushing about you on social media.

This cycle feeds itself as your brand gets stronger and your audience grows.

Enjoy it!

What do you think? What other brand-building techniques have been successful in also building your audience? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

Connect with Tracy on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Photo credit to ©Raising Chickens.org

SEO via Media Relations with @SpinSucks Gini Dietrich

pr-seo-handshakeYou’ve most likely heard of Spin Sucks and the force behind it, Gini Dietrich. She entered the public relations (PR) business after graduating from college, working her way up from her initial position as an account coordinator.

True to form, Gini eventually set out on her own and started her PR business (Arment Dietrich, Inc.) in 2005. The following year, she launched Spin Sucks (she quips, “embarrassingly so”). Fast forwarding to today, Gini has authored Spin Sucks: Communication and Reputation Management in the Digital Age and co-authored Marketing in the Round. She is also a co-host of the podcast Inside PR, and the primary voice of the Spin Sucks blog.

We were fortunate enough to grab some of Gini’s precious time for an interview, focused around her thoughts on leveraging media relations for SEO.

Enjoy!

A few months ago, you hosted a fascinating webinar on leveraging media relations for SEO using a three-pronged approach (readers can download the free webinar on demand here). Could you summarize this three-pronged approach?

You bet! We look at earned media, as it relates to building brand awareness, increasing your search engine optimization, and generating qualified leads. If your efforts don’t do all three of those things, it’s not working for you. This gets a bit into one of your questions below, but you want to work with media outlets to write stories about you, interview you on topics of expertise, accept contributed content, or run OpEds.

In those stories—all of them—should be anchor text, as it relates to your targeted keywords, and a link to something on your website or blog. There are very few journalists who won’t do this for you. Once you have that link on a higher domain authority site than your own, you have the opportunity to track your own domain authority, your search engine optimization, the qualified leads hitting you up online, and your brand awareness.

In this webinar, you also discuss how to create content hubs around a specific keyword or phrase. What content hubs would you recommend for an in-house copywriter, versus a freelance business owner? Are there hubs that would perform better for B2Bs than B2Cs?

I hate this answer, but I’m going to use it anyway: It really depends. Your content hubs should be focused around your targeted keyword or phrase. For instance, PR metrics is a big one for us because I am focused on changing the way PR pros measure their efforts. Our content hubs are built from that. It’s less about the job you’re doing (in-house vs. freelancer) and more about the search terms you need to use. And no, B2B vs B2C does not matter. This is about content around your keyword or phrase.

Earlier this year on the Spin Sucks blog, you described how to use media relations to get on the first page of Google by demonstrating your expertise on a topic. Specifically, you talked about how to leverage media relations via guest blogging on a site with relatively high domain authority to earn a link from it. Given the amount of solicitations authority sites receive from link wheel spammers, what steps would you recommend an online writer take to successfully pitch a guest post to an authority site for an “unknown” client, or for that matter, his or her own new business?

The very best way, just like any other relationship, is to build trust. I get TONS of solicitations from the wheel spammers…and it’s gross. I also receive really bad pitches and integrated news releases from PR pros, which makes me very sad. However, if someone were to pitch me and say, “I know you’re on a mission to change the way PR pros measure their efforts. I have content that fits that perfectly. Here’s a quick outline.” That would most definitely get my attention.

There’s been a lot of SEO industry talk about making links “no follow” and avoiding keyword-rich anchor link text so as not to invite a manual penalty per Google’s Penguin. Have you encountered any issues with backlinks that use a keyword or specific website domain name? How do you deal with link fear?

Nope. I’ve never had an issue, but it’s because we approach it with a “white hat.” I can’t even speak to link fear because it’s never been an issue for us.

Returning to the question of how to establish authority in the eyes of Google: what would you recommend a “noobie” do to market her content to influencers, aside from pitching a guest post? How can a new copywriter demonstrate her credibility when trying to forge a relationship with an influencer?

I recommend you start a relationship online just like you would offline. You find something in common. You share content. You comment on their content. You scratch their back and, eventually, they’ll scratch yours. Every day we have new commenters on Spin Sucks. They’ll say things such as, “First-time commenter, long-time reader.” I love that because I can dig a little to see who they are, welcome them into the fold, and provide some context about them to our community. This always helps start the relationship.

Finally, in a recent Spin Sucks post referring to the Narrative Science genesis of news storytelling via computers – or more precisely, algorithms spawned from artificial intelligence software — you discuss how “[i]t’s a new world where algorithms and humans are working hand-in-hand to produce some of the world’s best content.” Assuming the trend towards algos and writers working together will only grow, where do you see this new world heading for content creators, SEO copywriters, and online communicators?

It scares me! I joke that a computer will win a Pulitzer before I do. But I’ve talked to the founders of lots of these companies, and they’re focused solely on creating content that humans won’t do. For instance, they’ll write stories about Little League games and the Fortune 450 company because it doesn’t make sense for the newspapers to spend resources on that type of content. It’s also impossible for an algorithm to add color, irony, or even sarcasm. So, even if you use an algorithm to pull the data and science you need for a story, you still need to do the human part of it.

Well said, Gini! Thank you for spending time with us here!

You’re welcome! :)

Connect with Gini Dietrich via Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+

Photo credit to Garfield Anderssen | Flickr.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Stupid Business Mistakes That Cost Writers Money

Are you struggling in your freelance writing business and you don’t know why?

Don't burn out. Make more money, instead.

Don’t burn out. Make more money, instead.

There’s nothing worse than working your butt off and feeling tired, burned out and poor at the end of the day. If you’re churning through clients and feeling like you’re making less than minimum wage, you know you have a problem.

Good news, if you’re in this position, you can easily fix it. Bad news, it may mean changing your process, how you spend your time – even how you communicate with clients.

Once you overcome what’s holding you back, you’ll be able to transform a business #FAIL into a fantastic (and profitable) way of life.

And that’s pretty cool.

Here are the ten most common business mistakes I see smart writers make:

Missing deadlines

Never, ever miss a deadline. Period. It makes you look flaky and puts your client in a very bad position. If you know up front that you can’t make a deadline, express your concern or don’t take the gig. I’ve seen writers get fired after missing one deadline. Don’t let this happen to you.

Oops, did I forget to invoice again?

Forgetting to invoice clients

How much would your cash flow improve if you collected everything that was owed you? It’s amazing how many solopreneurs forget to invoice their clients and end up in a cash crunch at the end of the month. Services like Paymo and FreshBooks can help, and they’re easy to use. If you need additional help (or you hate billing,) find a VA who can invoice for you. It’s that important.

P.S. Clients hate it when you send one invoice for three months of work and say, “Oops, I’m a bit behind. Please pay this immediately.” Doing this once could cause you to lose the client forever.

Asking if an invoice has been paid three days after sending it

Your personal finances are not your client’s problem. If you want your invoices to be paid up front or net 15, put that condition in your contract. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait for payment like everyone else.

Besides, if you do send a “please pay me” email, it screams “I’m desperate” – and you’ll turn off your client. Certainly, you should check in if it’s been over 30 days or if the check is late. Otherwise, makes sure you always have enough money in your account to help float any receivables.

Dropping the communication ball

Your clients will love you if you send them quick status report emails and answer their emails quickly. Good customer service is so rare that this one little thing will make your service shine. Waiting days to email because “You don’t know anything yet,” will drive your client nuts and cause them to think about you in cranky ways.

Talking about leads/clients on social networking sites

One of the best business pieces of advice my father gave me was, “Keep your mouth shut.” Congratulate yourself if a big fish comes your way, but don’t talk about it on Twitter or Facebook. I have seen writers kicked out of the running (or fired) because they said a little too much. If you treat everything as confidential, you never have to worry about saying the wrong thing. :)

Not having a well-optimized, compelling site

How can clients trust you to do a good job with their site if your is poorly designed, you aren’t positioning for anything, and the writing looks like an afterthought? Richard Hostler, Senior SEO copywriter from Brookstone, recommends new copywriters optimize their site for their name, as well as their other top keyphrases. When clients type your name into Google – voila – your name will pop up in the top spot, and they can read all about you.

This button says it all.

Being afraid to speak up

I’ve chatted with scads of copywriters who say, “The agency gave me a list of bad keyphrases, but I’m afraid to say anything to the client.” You know what happens after that – the page doesn’t position, and the writer gets blamed for sub-par work.

If something doesn’t work, speak your mind! Tell your client why. Back up what you say with data. Your client may choose to ignore you, and that’s their choice. If they come back to complain about their poorly performing page, you can remind them of your recommendations and see if you can steer them in the right direction.

Not keeping up-to-date with the latest SEO news because you “don’t have time.”

There is nothing more embarrassing than an informed client asking a question about the latest Google update – and you having no idea what they mean. Make sure that at least 10 percent of your day is spent educating yourself on the latest and greatest. Yes, it sounds like a lot of time. Yes, it’s that important.

Holding yourself back

Expanding your business is scary. So is taking on larger clients, asking for more money per page or taking a vacation when you know you really need it. Plan out what you want to do and do it. If you “fail” – so what? Pick yourself up and try again. This goes along with…

Not taking care of you

I’ve said it before – if you don’t take care of yourself, you put your entire business at risk. Play with different work/play schedules and see what works for your lifestyle. Laugh with your friends. Eat well. Exercise. Your energy levels will skyrocket if you do. Trust me.

What about you? What stupid business mistakes do you see new and established SEO writers make?

What to Do When It All Goes Wrong

This is an “oldie-but-a-goodie” post that originally ran in 2010. I’m re-running it today because I’ve received two emails this week from folks who are stuck in a bad business hole. If that’s where you are too, please know that things will get better soon. Really.

Enjoy the post!

Sometimes, I receive an email that’s so compelling that I need to respond right away. This is one of those times.

The note said:

“I’m a freelance online copywriter. I’m busting my butt to get clients and doing all the necessary marketing (email, networking, social media, article marketing, etc.). However, I’m still not getting the results I desire, but I see my colleagues who do the same exact thing that I do, and they are making a killing.

I don’t want to sound like, ‘Woe is me,’ because that’s not me. I’m dedicated, passionate, and a fast-learner. I guess the question is, have you experienced this kind of ‘stuckness’ when you were just starting out? If so, what did you do to get past this phase? Please note, that I’m managing social media for two clients a month as well.”

Ah, I call this phase “surviving the dark times.” And yeah, it’s tough. I distinctly remember going through this about 14 years ago and feeling so frustrated that I threw a wicker chair against a wall. I knew what I wanted. I could SEE it. I just couldn’t figure out how to make the money flow.

Obviously, I pulled out of it. That doesn’t make me smarter or better. I just had a vision, and I stubbornly held on to it – and eventually, everything worked out.

You may have seen this in your own business – whether you’re a freelance writer, a small business owner, or even a partner in a corporation. You’re working mondo hours and not seeing the money you want. You’re waking up at 3 a.m. thinking about money.

And there’s a little voice inside of you whispering, “Give it up. You can’t do this. Close down and start over.”

Are you tired of hearing the “helpful” whispers?

 

Maybe you subscribe to a few newsletters in the hopes that they get you back “on track.” But the newsletters almost make it worse. Every headline talks about how much money everyone else (except you, of course) is making. You read inspirational stories about people who make it big within six months of opening shop.

And that little voice inside of you whispers even louder, “Forget it. You’re wrong. Other people know the secret, and you’ll never succeed.”

Then you try talking to friends or to your spouse. They try to be supportive. They really do. But when they say, “Maybe this isn’t the right time…maybe you should get a real job,” it tears you up inside. You don’t want to talk to them anymore. So you close down and give up.

And that inner voice that used to be a whisper is now a full-force 3 a.m. taunt. You’re so burned out and demotivated that it’s hard to get up in the morning, much less work.

Here’s your compassionate reality check: This process is normal. It sucks, but it’s normal. And you will go through this many, many times throughout your career.

There are some great books on this topic (The Energy of Money is a great one) but here’s my take:

Running a business – like everything else – is cyclical. Some days (or months) you’re super-creative, motivated and in the flow. Other days, you wonder why the heck you decided to go into business for yourself. Some months (or years) you can’t keep up with requests for business. Sometimes, you happily talk to phone solicitors because – darn it – it was the first call you’ve received in weeks.

There is dark, and there is light. There is super-busy, and there is super-quiet. It’s all part of the process.

Your business will ebb and flow like the ocean. May as well relax and enjoy it!

Your freelance writing business will ebb and flow like the ocean. You may as well relax and enjoy it!

Plus – and this is just my opinion – most folks quit too early. They hit the dark times, and they freak out. The fear is too much. They lose too much sleep. Instead of following their passion, they do what’s “safe.”

Granted, there are times you do what you have to do to live – and there is no shame or judgment in doing that. Just know that it’s one thing to let your dream die and give up. It’s completely another to do everything you can (even if that means taking a part-time job) to keep that dream alive.

I strongly believe that we are rewarded for being passionate. When we’ve done the planning and we can see the goal on the “other side” – we will eventually get there. The trick is – and I know that this is easier said than done – stay calm, manage by facts, and take care of you.

Some positive steps that you can take right now are:

  • Take time away from your business. Seriously! It may feel like the “worst time ever” to do it, but you need the perspective. You need to be able to look at your business with fresh eyes (and a calm brain) if you want to move forward. Otherwise, you’re going to burn yourself out and involve yourself in “busywork” that doesn’t move your business forward.
  • Take a hard, hard look at your business focus. Hindsight is always 20/20 – and for me, I know that a lack of focus can decimate my business opportunities. You may be an “online writer” – but who is your target audience? Can you picture what she/he would look like? What her hopes would be? Her fears? It’s so easy to do “anything” to get money in the door that we stray away from what we really want to do (and who we really want to work with.)
  • Spend time every day with “the end in mind.” Allow yourself to feel what it would be like to work with that company you really want to work with. Or imagine writing the check that pays off that last credit card. Or finally having enough money to take a “real” vacation. Keeping that excitement and vision alive is paramount.
  • Celebrate your successes. It’s so easy to say, “Well, yeah, I’m making money – but it’s not the money I want to make.” So what? You’re making money! Congratulate yourself and pat yourself on the back. You’ll never be able to break out of your funk if you never feel “good enough” to celebrate your successes.
  • Don’t believe everything you read and hear. Although your colleagues may say that they’re “raking in the bucks,” know that it may not be true. After all, it’s very, very hard for entrepreneurs to admit that they’re losing money (in our minds, we call it “failing” – even if that’s not the case.) It’s a whole lot easier to say that things are “great” rather than admitting “Yeah, I’m feeling pretty scared.”
  • Take care of you. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, you’re all you’ve got. If you get sick from the stress, you’re going to put yourself in a worse situation. If you ignore exercise because you “don’t have time,” you’re going to feel worse and be less productive. I would watch every piece of food you put into your body and focus on high-quality meals. The better you feel physically, the better you’ll be able to handle any situation. (After typing that, I’m feeling a little guilty that I just munched the complimentary chocolate they gave me on the plane!).
  • Recognize the voices in your head. The voices telling you that you’re a failure at 3 a.m. aren’t real. It’s your fear coming back to bite you. Notice the voices. Laugh at them. Learn from them. But do not let them get to you. They are not real.
  • Know that your hard work is not in vain. At this very moment, someone may be discussing hiring you – you just don’t know it yet. Your life and financial situation can change with one phone call.
  • Get support from other entrepreneurs. My support network is comprised of search folks and local Portland business owners. I love them. I can go to them hurting and scared and frustrated and come away feeling fantastic. It helps to know that you’re not alone (and you know that you’re never alone, right?) Other people have gone through this multiple times. They survived. You will too.
  • Ignore the naysayers. They do nothing but sap your energy and make you feel bad about yourself.  If you walk away from a friend feeling drained and tired, you may want to keep that friendship “on hold” until you’re in a better spot.  You don’t have time for folks like that.
  • Finally, recognize that this is, in fact, a phase. It’s the darkness before the dawn. It’s miserable and scary and…a little bit exciting too. Once you’ve gone through this a few more times, the process does get easier. You start to recognize what’s happening and move through it a little bit faster. It doesn’t make it “fun.” Heck, I go through this phase kicking and screaming (sometimes literally!) But at least you may not take it quite so personally next time.

If you’re going through this – hang in there. Know that things will – eventually – be OK. And let me know how it’s going. We’re all in this together.

Why Your Prospects Aren’t Buying (and What You Can Do!)

Want to know a secret?

Want to overcome common sales objections? You'll need to crawl inside your prospect's brain.

Want to overcome common sales objections? You’ll need to crawl inside your prospect’s brain.

When prospective buyers visit your website, they are looking for more than just their desired product or service.

The secret is; they’re looking for reasons to NOT buy from you.

Yes, that’s right. Your prospects – no matter how motivated they are – are coming to the virtual table with a chip on their shoulder. Like the person burned by too many bad dates (you dated that person too?), they want you to prove to them how you’re not just like all the others.

But the problem is, just like in the dating example, you have no idea what the “others” did to your prospect. She’s not coming to you and saying, “Here’s what happened to me – and I’m expecting you to pull the same stuff.”

Here’s what a prospect may be thinking…

…The last PR company I worked with took my 10K and didn’t generate a dime in buzz. How can you help me?

…The last time I bought something online, the package arrived late, and the company overcharged me for shipping. Will you do the same thing?

…The last time I hired a writer, he copied an article from Wikipedia and tried to pass it off as original content. How do I know that I’ll get what I’m promised?

…These prices seem high. Are your services worth it, or are you overpriced?

Think about your buying behavior. Do you jump into a new purchase willy-nilly, buying from the first vendor in the search results? Or do you carefully compare sites, send exploratory emails and check reviews so you can work with the right company?

(As a side note, that’s why well-written persuasive content is so important, It’s more than just “getting a good ranking.” It’s providing a fantastic customer experience through the power of the written word.)

The importance of overcoming sales objections in your web writing

Now that you know that your prospects have sales objections, it’s important to overcome them within your copy. Rather than waiting for your prospect to bring up every objection they have (guess what – they won’t,) you have to face the known issues head-on, showcase your value and create an active need.

That means knowing what freaks your prospects out about working with you.

Plus, if you don’t overcome these objections immediately in your copy, you may not get a second chance.

For instance, Domino Pizza’s old campaign of “Pizza in 30 minutes or less” was perfect for thousands of hungry pizza-lovers anxious for immediate-gratification food.

The U.S. Post Office’s campaign of “Celebrating a simpler way to ship” accomplishes a couple goals. It helps promote their online services, plus, overcomes the objection of “Will I have to stand in line for hours at the Post Office?”

Or FedEx’s, “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight…guaranteed” – which is important for businesses who need on-time, trackable shipping.

How do you “figure out the known issues” if you can’t crawl inside your prospect’s brain and determine what she’s thinking? Simple. Do your homework.

Talk to the sales team

Your sales team are the folks “in the trenches” who hear what’s going on – and who overcome objections every time they talk to a new prospect. Ask them what their clients are worried about and any common questions they hear.

Chat with your new customers

New customers are a fantastic source of information. Task someone with calling selected folks who sign up. This is a smart strategy for a couple reasons:

  • Your new customer will be impressed that someone has called to check in – so your company gets some great customer service bonus points.
  • During the call, you can ask your customer questions about their past experiences, why they chose your company, why they love your product or service and more. In fact, you may even be able to ask them to provide a testimonial.

Read your testimonials

Testimonials provide great (yet, often ignored) information. Companies are often so focused on posting new testimonials to the site that they forget to mine the data.

And testimonials provide yummy data.

For instance, customers will tell stories like, “When I worked with XYZ company, it took one or two days before they would answer my email. When I work with you, I get an immediate response.”

Bingo! Now you know that a fast response rate is an important benefit. A sentence like, “We’ll return your email within one business day, guaranteed” perfectly overcomes the objection.

Additionally, if there’s something your company does really well, testimonials will often reflect that fact. Maybe it’s your cutting-edge knowledge. Or your great customer service. Those testimonial themes are marketing gold!

Review competing sites

Sometimes, your competition really does get it right. Comb through their copy and see if they’ve overcome objections your site doesn’t address. Does your competition talk about how many years of experience their consultants have? Does your competition mention a “no hassle money back guarantee?” Do they include customer reviews touting their superior service?

Although it’s not a smart idea to copy your competition (after all, you can do better,) you can learn from them.

What’s the best way research the objections you should overcome?

Easy. Just start.

If you have an in-house marketing manager, he can get the ball rolling and start gathering data. Although this process isn’t hard to do, it is time-consuming – so your marketing manager will want to set aside time to do it right. Otherwise, it will sit on the back burner and never get done.

Some companies choose to work with an SEO content strategist who can do the heavy lifting for them. This tactic is especially smart if your team members are time-crunched – or if you want a fresh perspective. It’s amazing how often an outside expert can find opportunities that were missed in-house.

The important thing is to get moving, especially if your site’s conversion goals are sluggish and you’re leaving money on the table.

Once you have the data, you’ll want to rewrite the content and incorporate the messaging changes. Depending on your existing content, this could be a simple tweak – or a more major undertaking. Consider A/B testing the new copy to further refine your pages.

Just imagine: After a few hours of research and some copy tweaking, you can gently move that chip off your prospects’ shoulder and drive more sales.

It’s that simple.

How to Be Your Own Benevolent Overlord

Have you ever had a <headdesk> moment when you realized your major business problem

Morning on the Middle Fork. I obviously love my coffee.

Morning on the Middle Fork. I obviously love my coffee.

was…you?

I just had this happen to me. In fact, I see this happening every day to writers and other entrepreneurs.

Let me explain…

I recently returned from a seven-day rafting adventure to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Unlike last year, when I was scrambling down 25′ Grand Canyon rock walls, this trip was relatively uneventful. No huge rapids. Nobody died. It was easy to let my brain drift away with the current.

Prior to leaving, I had a conversation with a couple organizations that wanted to purchase my company. This scenario is nothing new – when you’ve owned a business for almost 20 years, the occasional suitor is fairly expected. Although I have rejected suitors in the past (as well as outside funding,) I let myself imagine life if I sold my business and remained as a training figurehead.

  • I’d be able to let go of the irritating administrative work behind the scenes.
  • I’d be able to reach more people with my Certification training (and other training options.)
  • I’d have a bigger team of people helping me.
  • All of the up-and-down business insecurities would be gone. Poof.

(If you’re self-employed, you probably understand my pain. My work fantasies are far from common.)

As we floated along, I imagined myself as an employee of my business rather than the owner. I was fully immersed in the fantasy and imagining myself leading a relative life of leisure…

…until I was suddenly doused with cold water. We had hit a minor rapid, which meant I got very wet, very fast.

But with that momentary “ACK” reaction came a <headdesk> moment of clarity.

The only person holding me back was…me.

(Which, from an emotional standpoint, felt like another cold, wet wave hit me.)

I really like where I am now. I’m happy and incredibly grateful. But there are some things I could do to take my business to the next level and have even more fun.

Where my realization hit. Just imagine a big wave crashing over me.

Where my realization hit. Just imagine a big wave crashing over me.

As writers and entrepreneurs, it’s easy to get into a learned helplessness mindset. For instance, have you ever said (or thought) something like this…

  • I’d need more time to make more money. My clients keep me too busy to think about that right now.
  • I’d love to hire help, but I don’t have the cash flow right now.
  • I’ll start business planning after I make X. Right now, I’m just trying to make ends meet.
  • I don’t have time to work on my business right now. It’s all I can do to finish work and meet my obligations.
  • I. Am. Exhausted.

My thoughts tend to come from the “too busy” excuse mindset. I don’t “have time” to plan. I’m “too busy” with other things. I’ll “get to it later” (and later never comes.)

At the same time, real life wasn’t matching my thought process. For instance, I had to shove two weeks worth of deliverables into the week prior to my trip. On top of that, I needed to rewrite two chapters of the SEO Copywriting Certification training. To say I was busy was an understatement.

Is it any wonder that having a benevolent overlord running my business sounded attractive?

What’s striking is — despite the stress, I finished all my tasks. I got out the door with a minimum of drama.

The problem wasn’t because I was “too busy,” or “too stressed” or something external.

The problem was with me. I could obviously get everything done. I just needed a plan.

I was holding myself back.

How? Instead of focusing on big-picture items, I spent my time on mindless minutiae.

  • I would pay bills, but not pay attention to long-term financial goals.
  • I would personally handle tasks (like writing and formatting emails,) that someone else could easily do for me.
  • And, perhaps the absolute worst thing…instead of contacting influencers, I focused on clearing my email every day.

WHY was I focused on email when I have other, more cool, opportunities to consider? As Ramit Sethi said in a recent email discussing this very thing, “Screw that. I decided to grow, so I’m going to do what I have to do.”

(And thank you, Ramit, for sending that email the exact moment I needed to read it and confirm my thought process.)

In short, I needed to take control. I needed to be more proactive rather than reactive.

Brainstorms and “satori moments,” as Dr. Wayne Dyer calls them, are all well and good. The important thing is taking action. So what does that mean?

  • Blocking off at least a half day (preferably a full day) where I do nothing but long-range planning, contacting influencers and working on my business. I do this on a more sporadic basis, so this is an easy tweak.
  • Finding people who can help me with minor tasks I shouldn’t handle myself. Heck, that may even be reading and responding to my email. I get over 500 emails a day…so you can imagine the time investment. That also means figuring out what I can outsource. When you’ve done it yourself for years, finding those opportunities is harder than you’d think.
  • Setting clear and measurable financial and business goals that I work towards in an organized fashion. I do this now, but I can tighten up my process.
  • Scheduling time for rest, relaxation and general rejuvenation. My husband, who has worked for Starbucks for over 20 years, gets six weeks of vacation. Shouldn’t I, after 20+ years of self- employment, give myself the same benefit? (Um, that answer is not just “yes,” but “hell yes!”)

In short, it’s time for me to separate myself from the business minutiae, organize a more cohesive team and focus 100% on what really matters. It’s not about working even harder (we all do that.) It’s about working smarter.

In short, I can be my own benevolent overlord. How cool is that?

If you’re in the same boat, I challenge you to figure out how to be your own benevolent overlord. What would make your business life easier? What do you need to do to make it happen? As you’re brainstorming, know that excuses will come up. It’s easy to think, “I can’t,” and “not right now,” and “this isn’t the best time.”

Here’s the deal: You can. Just pick an “official” time to start. Then, keep yourself on track, no matter what. Do what you need to do to keep yourself accountable. Maybe that means hiring a coach or participating in a mastermind group. In the words of Nike, just do it.

When is my “official” start date? July 1, 2015. I have some traveling to do beforehand, and a customized SEO copywriting training to give. After that, my time is more “mine” again…and I don’t have any excuses.

Isn’t it time to take control of your business and finally get it on track?

Who’s with me?

 

 

Going Beyond Shareable Content with BuzzSumo’s Steve Rayson

children-sharing-milkshakeToday we’re happy to share our interview with BuzzSumo’s Steve Rayson. As BuzzSumo is a relatively new company, we asked Steve to talk a bit about its founding before answering the seven specific questions we had for him. You’ll want to be sure to read his intriguing take on the future of social sharing. Enjoy!

When was BuzzSumo founded?

The first version of the free product was created in 2013 by James Blackwell and Henley Wing. This tool allowed people to search for the most shared content published over the past 6 months.

At the time they were employed and developing the product in their spare time. I was so impressed by the tool that I approached James and Henley about developing a paid product, creating a company and working on the product full-time.

We first met face to face in December 2013, where I agreed to invest to allow James and Henley to work full-time on developing BuzzSumo Pro as a paid product.

We established BuzzSumo as a company in March 2014, with the three of us as directors. The first paid product, BuzzSumo Pro, was launched in September 2014. The paid version includes content alerts, reports and influencer analysis. We have continued to add to the product, including our latest trending features.

What was the inspiration for its creation?

In essence it was about searching for content that was resonating with people. Google is great, but it is based on authority sites. Thus if you search for, say, e-learning, it will start with Wikipedia. We were interested in the content that was resonating, e.g., what was the most shared content during this week or that month.

We were also interested in how content gets amplified, meaning who shares and links to the content and why? Our tool will show who shared an article and who linked to it so you can understand how it is being amplified. I think promotion is a much neglected area — people should spend as much or more time on promoting content as researching and creating it.

We are a small team so we tend to cover lots of bases. I tend to focus on marketing and strategic development, and relationships with partners. We have recently done joint webinars with Cana, Hubspot, Uberflip and Wordstream. On any given day I can be doing anything from researching new feature ideas and talking to customers about what would be helpful to them, to writing articles and answering support queries.

Any milestones in BuzzSumo’s growth that you’d like to share?

We recently passed 100,000 subscribers to our free product and more importantly 1,000 paying customers.

The key to any successful SaaS (software as a service) product is minimizing churn, which is the turnover of paying customers. Thus you want to make sure you have a product that provides value and that people use as part of their daily work.

You need to track things like active daily users and your ongoing churn rate, as well as your monthly growth in revenues and users.

It is important to focus on customer service as you grow and help your customers to get the most out of the tool. They are also your greatest asset in that they can help you identify features that will be really valuable to your audience.

BuzzSumo was once described as a “fusion of human intelligence and digital intelligence”. That seems to be a good descriptor – can you talk a little about that?

I am not sure where that came from but I understand the sentiment. It is difficult to define “good content” but we can define content that is resonating with audiences as we can see people share it and link to it. We can draw insights from this data.

Thus we can see that posts with images get more shares than posts without, that infographics are well shared in some areas, that list posts get more shares than other content formats, that quizzes get well shared, etc. We can then improve our odds of producing content that resonates by understanding this data.

We have found that the best content formats depend a lot on the topic and the audience. It is important to research what works with your audience.

Tracking content trends is also important. A BuzzSumo top content search will show you the most shared content in the last month or last 24 hours so you can see what is resonating. The BuzzSumo trending section will show you today’s most shared content for any topic, providing real time insights into the content that is engaging your audience.

We are fundamentally about helping people create better content: content that resonates and gets shared. We hopefully do that by providing insights through data such as what is working in your area or for your competitors.

Many companies push out large volumes of content to “please Google.” How can big data streamline a company’s content marketing efforts and gain better results?

I think you need to start with content research and produce a content plan. I think one of the most important aspects of content marketing is being consistent. You need to consistently produce content as the benefits accrue over time. You need a schedule, whatever that is — e.g. one blog post a week — and you need to stick to it.

Data helps you to focus on creating content that works, and getting a balance of content to support the various stages of the sales funnel. Here are some examples below:

sales-funnel-content

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What matters as much as the content itself is distribution and promotion, which we come to below.

Some experts believe that it’s better to write one really good piece of content a month (that’s properly promoted,) than multiple pieces of content with little or no promotion strategy. Have you seen data that supports this?

All content should be “good” and it can be better to produce one really good, well-researched article than four poor pieces of content. The key is that you are producing something of value to your audience. If you have limited resources you need to be realistic about what you can produce.

Sites like the Harvard Business Review produce good content but it doesn’t mean they only publish one blog post a week. In fact they average 50 blog posts a week. They do this through guest authors. Guest authors and curation are one way you can seek to increase the volume of content.

The key is that you promote your content. It doesn’t matter how good your content is, people will simply not find it if you don’t promote it. My view is that you need to spend as much time, if not more, promoting and amplifying content as creating it.

You need to think about this before you write your post. For example, can you involve influencers in the research or interview them? Be clear how you are going to promote the post – which social channels, how many people will share it for you, which forums are you going to submit your content to, what paid promotion you will use, etc.

From your research, how does the underlying emotion of a blog post impact its shareability? What can this mean for, say, B2B content that’s typically considered “boring?” Is there an opportunity there?

Emotion can help improve shareability. Last year we analyzed the top 10,000 most shared articles across the web, and mapped each one to an emotion, such as joy, sadness, anger, amusement, laughter, etc. Here is how the breakdown of how the emotions looked:

popular-emotions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, I don’t think you need to focus on emotion to get good shareability. In B2B, people are time pressed and want to do their job better and faster. Thus if you can produce content that is helpful, people will value it and share it.

So you can identify the key questions people are asking and produce good answers. The aim really is to be the best answer to the question. The top ten thousand “how to” posts this year were shared more than 19,000 times on average.

You can also experiment with list posts and picture lists. List posts provide a promise, such as “5 steps to improve your landing page”.

Posts that are well structured and skimmable also do well. Below is a good example. This post has clear numbered steps, links to further resources, good use of images to explain points, and top tips to make the post actionable.

skimmable-content

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Images work well because we process images much faster than text and they help us to skim articles faster. They also work well if you are taking someone through a process, telling a story or making comparisons. One post format I think will continue to do well is a picture list post, i.e., a curated series of images.

You conducted an interesting interview with SEMrush where you outlined how BuzzSumo and SEMrush go hand-in-hand for competitive intelligence efforts. Are there other tools you’d recommend for writers?

I use tools like BuzzSumo and Feedly to keep on top of new content and to generate content ideas.

On BuzzSumo, I use top content searches to find new content ideas, but what works better for me personally is setting up content alerts and custom trending feeds. I then turn each of these into RSS feeds that I pull into Feedly. I then get a constant stream of posts on specific topics such as data driven marketing.

For trending content, I will also use Hashtagify to see related trending hashtags.

Many smaller companies are direct competitors of large brands with big followings. What are some competitive intelligence steps their writers could take that could build authority faster and increase their content’s shareability?

There has never been a better time for small companies. They can move faster than larger brands and can achieve reach through web publishing combined with promotion and influencer marketing. They can really punch way above their weight.

Smaller companies can also jump on trends much faster and engage in relevant discussions.

They can build a personal voice, as well. I feel social is very much about people. I rarely follow someone unless they have a face; I don’t like to follow logos. When you think about whose articles you want to read on the web it is normally a person not a corporation.

If you peer into your crystal ball…where do you think social sharing is headed?

I think it is interesting that more people discover content now via social than via search. Social overtook search for the first time last year — in fact the volume of Google searches fell last year for the first time. A recent research project published by the American Press Institute found that young people get most of their news from social channels.

Social media’s role as a content discovery platform is only just beginning. I think people will become more sophisticated in how they build personal learning networks using social media and how they mine social data for trends.

social-and-search

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can connect with Steve Rayson via Twitter and LinkedIn

A Powerful SEO Strategy for Crazy Conversions

SEO Conversions Strategy

Drive conversions with this mini-USP strategy!

When I work with new clients, I send them a creative brief so I can gather the best information for my SEO copywriting project.

And quite often, when I receive the completed brief from my clients, the following scenario unfolds:

Me: “I reviewed your creative brief, and I see that you left your company’s USP section blank.”

Client: “Yes, we need help with that. What’s a USP again?”

Me: “That’s your company’s Unique Selling Proposition — the main, unique reason a customer will choose your company, products or services over other options in your market.”

Client: “Oh… OK. So our USP is that we’ve been around since 1975.” (Or) ” Our USP is that we’re the leading manufacturer of [fill in the blank].”

Me: “Cool! Let’s dig deeper to find something exciting for customers; something that will stop them in their tracks and choose you now.”

Client: “OK, sounds good.”

This is where your genius work as an SEO Copywriter truly begins.

Let me be clear: you’re not just helping the client articulate a single company-wide USP.

For each page of a company’s website, you’re writing “mini USPs” that set each product, service or offer apart from the competition so customers will become excited and make an immediate choice.

I’d guess that about 80% of companies (maybe more!) never consider their USP when writing web content for products, services, free trials, enewsletter sign-ups and other offerings. They just put it out there as a flat statement (“We have this product…”) It seems that way, anyway, when I search for various things in Google.

For instance, if you Google a specific topic on any given day, you’ll probably find that most search result descriptions simply list what they do (“We’re the leading supplier of…”). Or include a list of keywords with no context or inviting sentences. Or say something like, “Save 25%!”

They don’t make an effort to set themselves apart with mini USPs. And therefore, potential customers scan right by them, searching for something special.

I tried this with all kinds of keywords, from “dental equipment” to “party supplies” to “corporate training programs.” Most descriptions in the search results look very similar; it’s hard to tell them apart.

In contrast, Southwest Airlines does a great job of standing apart from other airlines with mini USPs. For example, they offer “Bags fly free” and “No change fee.” I love that about them, plus these are great examples of mini USPs — unique reasons to fly Southwest. And guess what? Southwest shows up first in Google search results for “free bags” and “no change fee.”

To give you some more ideas, here’s a variety of website headlines that articulate mini USPs in customer-friendly ways, using keywords:

• Nest Protect: “Programs Itself. Then Pays for Itself. Meet the Nest Learning Thermostat.”

• ShopKeep: “ShopKeep Point of Sale transforms chores to child’s play, while providing genius reporting and analytics.” (I also like this cheeky line: “Make sure that ‘love’ is the only four-letter word you associate with business.”)

• The Honest Company: “Honest Organic Baby Powder: Extra gentle natural dusting powder with probiotics.

So, how do you create mini USPs for your SEO copywriting projects?

Here are three simple steps to help your clients help YOU identify mini USPs for each product or service, and then articulate them beautifully (with keywords) through SEO content.

1. Create a mini USP table for the products or services you’ll be writing about.

• Column A lists each product, service or offering (free trial, watch our demo, etc.).

• Column B lists the USP(s): the benefits or attributes that make the product or service better than any other relevant options. There could be 1-5 or even more mini USPs. (Saves more time, easier to use, delivers more robust reports, etc.) You’ll work with your clients to go through each one and confirm that you’ve covered the best possible USPs.

2. Match up the USPs with keywords you’ve discovered during your keyword research.

For instance, if the USP is “this tool is the only one that eliminates manual data entry” — perhaps there’s a keyword for “automated data entry.”

3. Review the list with your client to make sure the keywords accurately reflect the prospect’s intent.

We all know that keywords can have various or ambiguous meanings at times, so this is a good time to do a gut-check: would potential customers truly use these phrases when searching for the products/services your client offers?

That’s it! Now you have a roadmap for creating mini USPs for each page of your SEO copywriting efforts in headlines, bullets, photo captions, page title tags, meta descriptions, calls to action and other strategic locations.

Here’s to your web success!

Pam Foster is a SuccessWorks Certified SEO Copywriter and the owner of ContentClear Marketing and PetCopywriter.com. She works mainly in the highly competitive pet-veterinary industry and enjoys helping her clients drive conversions by creating mini USPs.

Photo credit to SEOPlanter | Flickr.com

How to Avoid Boring Blog Interviews

Want to avoid boring guest interviews? Are you new to interviewing experts and need a process?

Running expert interviews is a nice win/win for all parties. Your expert gets exposed to a new audience and you get awesome, thought-leader content that drives links and gets shares.

Sadly, it’s not always as easy as that. Your expert may not be available. Your interview may come across as boring or  downright awkward. If this has happened to you, know that you’re not alone.

Fortunately, weird situations can typically be avoided.

There’s a method to the guest interviewing madness.

Here are 10 tips to get you started:

Do send a good pitch.

A good pitch makes all the difference. If you want your email to get trashed, send something that says, “Hi, my name is Bob and I run the XYZ blog. Can I send you some interview questions?”

Ain’t nobody got time for a pitch like that!

Most guest experts are happy to help, but they also need to make sure that it’s worth their time and fits their audience (which sounds harsh, but it’s true.) If you want a fast yes, you’ll need to send more details. Consider adding information such as you blog’s readership numbers, your target audience and a brief idea of the interview topic. This information will help. Trust me.

Don’t get offended if someone says “no.”

Even the best pitches get rejected. Maybe your guest expert is traveling and doesn’t have time. Maybe your readership doesn’t fit their target market. Maybe she’s just completed six interviews and doing one more seems daunting. Whatever the reason, take it in stride and don’t bash the person on social media. Heck, I’d keep the interview door open – I’ve said “no” to some folks only to say “yes” a few months later.

As a side note: If you send an email and don’t hear back, send another “check in” note. I recently missed an interview opportunity because I accidentally trashed the original message. My bad. But had the person emailed me back, I would have been happy to help.

Do research your guest, read their bio and check out their site

It goes without saying that you should know your guest’s work, their background and what their site offers. Believe it or not, this doesn’t always happen. Especially when there is one person handling “guest acquisition” and another person runs the interview.

From the interviewee’s side, it’s really weird when the person who is interviewing you seems to know nothing about your work. Yes, it’s happened. Yes, it’s awkward – especially during a podcast. And yes, this is a great way for that guest expert never to talk to you again.

Don’t ask “how did you get started?”

“How did you start your career”  is a valid question. But I promise you unless the expert is brand new to their field, there are already 10+ interviews with him or her that outlines their career trajectory. That information is already out there.

Over my career, I have answered that question at least 100 times (and I’m probably estimating low.) Unless you can put a different spin on the question, asking about the expert’s past will do nothing but bore the audience and your guest expert. Try another lead instead – you can always summarize your guest expert’s achievements somewhere in the interview.

Do ask thought provoking questions.

To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, why let your post blend in when it can stand out? The key to conducting a really good guest interview is asking the questions nobody else has thought to ask before.

James Altrucher is the master at this. Whether he’s interviewing Coolio or Tony Robbins, he throws in a question (or more) designed to make his guest think. It’s obvious that James isn’t looking for a canned, “this is what your handler said is OK to say” response. He’s looking for something deeper. And his interviews are fascinating because of it (this is from a person who hates listening to podcasts.) You don’t need to make the entire interview sound like a therapy session. But a couple of deeper questions is good.

Planning a podcast? Do send the questions ahead of time.

Want your guest to love you? Send your questions a few days in advance and ask for feedback.Sending the questions early ensures the questions you’re asking are in the interviewee’s “sweet spot” and your guest can provide great information. Otherwise, you may ask them about a topic they aren’t as comfortable with and the interview will take a very weird turn.

Conducting an email interview? Work out the deadline ahead of time.

You’ll want to confirm with your expert prior to sending the questions that he can meet your deadline. If you’re on a tight deadline, tell them immediately – and promise only to send a few fast questions. Otherwise, you may slave over your interview questions only to learn that your expert can’t meet your deadline. I’ve been there and the situation is no fun for either party.

Don’t lay out a strategy question and then ask,”Can you outline what you would do, step by step?”

I’ve received some very detailed emailed questions that have made me think, “Is this person asking for their readers, or are they asking for their site?” Strategy questions take a long time to answer. There are a lot of moving parts that make providing a specific answer impossible. Certainly, your guest can provide an overview of the process. But asking them to “dig into” a site and figure out how to handle something is consulting, not an interview.

Give your guest expert a lot of social love.

Now that the interview has posted, it’s time to promote it to the masses. Let your guest expert know that the post is live. Tag them on Twitter and Google+. Re-promote the post to your followers. This technique not only drives more traffic to your site, it also gives your expert a lot of well-deserved social love. Plus, your expert will (hopefully) promote the post on her network and drive more traffic to your site.

Say “thank you.”

It’s amazing how rarely this happens. Thank your guest expert for their time. You don’t need to send a long email. Just a short “thank you,” just like Mom taught you. It makes all the difference.

What tip would you add? Please leave it in the comments below!

[Updated] Freelance SEO Copywriting: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

New to SEO copywriting? This guide will help.

New to SEO copywriting? This guide will help.

Thinking about starting a career in SEO copywriting?

Here’s a reality check.

Making a living as an SEO copywriter (whether you work in-house or freelance from home) is hard work.

First, there’s a learning curve – it takes some time to master SEO copywriting best practices.

Second, you’ll need to keep up with (and understand the ramifications of) Google’s ever-changing whims.

Plus, you need to know how to write. Well.

But you know what else?

Working as an SEO copywriter is incredibly fun.

Once you master the best practice basics (and yes, you can do it!) you can work from anywhere, choose your clients and make a darn good income. Prefer to work in-house? According to MarketingProfs, Web editors (which often requires SEO content skills) can make upwards of $90,000 a year.

If you love working in a fast-moving industry filled with brilliant folks, SEO copywriting is a perfect choice. I’ve been working as an SEO copywriter for over 17 years. It’s been a blast.

Wondering if SEO copywriting is the right career for you? These 25+ posts will give you a small taste of the SEO copywriter’s life. Enjoy!

Considering a career in SEO copywriting? Check these posts out first:

Want to be an SEO copywriter? Check out these FAQs. Here’s a list of the most common questions I get about launching an SEO copywriting career. Good resource for folks who want to work from home or in-house.

What does an SEO copywriter do, anyway?  Learn how SEO copywriters are an important part of SEO and social media success.

Want to be an SEO copywriter? Here’s how to do it! If you’re new to this field, this post can help you figure out what to do first.

7 tough love tips to boost your freelance income. Don’t make the same mistakes I did. Learn from them instead. Please.

SEO copywriting vs. social media writing: What’s the difference? Do you love blogging and feel so-so about writing sales copy? Use your SEO copywriting skills to write for social media. Here’s the difference between the two writing styles.

Why do freelance writers hate SEO copywriting? The SEO copywriting industry has its haters. Learn why and what the misconceptions are (there are a lot of them!).

9 questions writers ask about SEO copywriting. Have a question? There’s a good chance I’ve covered it here.

It’s all about the Benjamins! Ways SEO copywriters can increase their income.

How to make money as a freelance SEO copywriter. Wondering what to charge for your freelance writing services? Let this video be your guide.

The business side of starting a freelance SEO shop. You may know how to write jaw-dropping online copy. But if you don’t have the “business side” of your business sewn up, you’ll leave money on the table.

Discount your rates? No way! Try this instead! Learn why bidding low can work against you in many ways.

How to charge for freelance copywriting services. Wondering how to charge? Here are some tips.

Quit getting paid peanuts! Making money is the name of the game. Here are some income-boosting things to consider.

How to wow your freelance copywriting clients.

When should you hire newbie SEO copywriters? Brand-new to the industry and wondering what your clients want? Here’s more information on what to expect.

When to hire intermediate-level SEO copywriters. Looking for higher-level SEO copywriting work with higher per-page fees? You’ll need certain skills to command a higher rate.

How to land more clients with a killer proposal. The better your proposals, the more work you’ll get through the door. Check out these client-grabbing proposal guidelines.

Freelance copywriting proposals: 10 questions to ask first and 4 types to write. Long headline. Great article.

Your client is wrong. Now what? Your client is asking for something that you know will hurt their SEO copywriting campaign. Here’s how to handle it.

Don’t assume your clients need you. News flash: you are not irreplaceable no matter how good you are.  This great guest post by Amy Teeple tells you why.

Are you making your clients fire you? Don’t sabotage your success! Learn what not to do when you start your SEO copywriting shop.

How to fire a client. It’s never fun when you have to fire a client, but it will happen. Someday. Here are some survival tips.

Are you a content strategist or an SEO copywriter?  Yes, there is a difference between the two (hint: strategists make more money.) Learn what the differences are and why they matter.

Your secret to landing great clients. It’s one thing to land a client. It’s another to bring on a client who you love and who pays you well. Here’s how to score more of the second type.

Living the freelance online SEO copywriter’s life has it’s ups and downs. Here’s a reality check.

Climb out your comfort zone. What does crawling down a rock wall have to do with your business? A lot. Read this post if you’re feeling stuck.

Surviving the business dark times. Running a business can be scary. Here’s some perspective.

3 cures for freelance writers burnout. For those days when the thought of writing another blog post makes you want to stick pencils in your eye.

Overcoming the overwhelm monster. Being busy is a good thing, but it can also cause you to burn out fast. Here’s how to avoid feeling overwhelmed in your freelance copywriting career.

4 ways SEO copywriters can increase their income – fast.  Sometimes, you need to make lots of money fast. Here are some ways to do it.

SEO content writers’ manifesto.  You are more than “just a writer.” Much more.

What resources would you add to the list?

Want to start your career in SEO copywriting, but need specialized training? Check out the SEO Copywriting Certification training course.

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