SEO Copywriting Top 10: July 16 to 22, 2014

niche market content strategy

Niche market? There’s a content strategy just for you!

You freelance SEO copywriters won’t want to miss this one!

In this week’s SEO Copywriting Top 10, there’s a guide to optimizing client websites, 140 websites that pay writers – and hot USP strategies!

You’ll also want to keep up with Google by reading the latest on author rank and how Hummingbird has impacted search so far.


Got an unfamiliar niche? Check out #8 for a content strategy that’s perfect for you!

There’s more copywriting greatness in there for ya, too, so enjoy!

1. Kristi Kellogg writes Google Authorship Photos Removed, Author Rank Ahead for Bruce Clay Blog.

2. Peter Da Vanzo writes Guide to Optimizing Client Sites 2014 for SEO Book.

3. Matthew Barby writes How Press Requests Can Be A Link Building Gold Mine for Search Engine Land.

4. Jennifer Roland writes 140 Websites That Pay Writers in 2014 for Make A Living Writing.

5. Mike Sansone writes 13 ½ Business Blogging Tips to Impress Readers and Skyrocket Sales for ConverStations.

6. Kevin Carlton writes 10 super simple strategies copywriters use to find a sizzling-hot USP for Write Online.

7. Gabriella Sannino writes Optimizing Your Content The Best SEO for Level 343.

8. Adrienne Erin writes How to Develop a Content Strategy for an Unfamiliar Niche for Search Engine People.

9. Ian Lurie writes 8 Simple But Powerful Landing Page Copywriting Tips for Unbounce.

10. Eric Enge writes Assessing Hummingbird’s Impact On Search — 10 Months Later for Search Engine Land.

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Creative Commons licensed photo thanks to Daniel Hanson.

Creating Blockbuster Content: 7 Essential Tips for SEOs

you-are-what-you-createMore content no longer means more success in SEO. It just means too much content.

When it comes to content creation, we’re seeing a shift in quantity to real quality. The launch of Google’s original Panda algorithm, which targeted thin content, started this big focus shift, which continues to this day.

At SMX Advanced, Brent Csutoras, Social Media Strategist & Owner at Kairay Media, shared seven essential tips on how to create blockbuster content today. Here’s a recap.

1. Goals Define Your Definition of Quality

Quality is in the eye of the beholder (the reader or customer). That means quality varies from person to person.

Ultimately, quality is defined by your goals. The content you create needs to be beneficial to you as a company.

What sells? What’s profitable? The content you create should have a business benefit.

If you sell 50 products, but only 10 are real movers and shakers, start there. Explore related topics to those products and prioritize creating content around those items. Don’t start with the whole company or every product.

Don’t be too commercial or create content that is totally unrelated to your business. Find balance.

2. Winning Types of Content

The best sites are those that are resourceful, helpful and interesting. People link to and share this type of content. You also want to be viewed as forward thinking.

Some examples of content that, when executed well, are popular include:

  • How-to guides
  • Long-form content
  • Lists (Greatest/Best/Top 10/15/20, etc.)
  • Infographics
  • Visual guides (especially on Pinterest).

Content should exist for a reason, such as to solve a problem or answer a question. Visit a support forum and see what questions people are asking. Wherever there are lapses or content gaps, there is a content opportunity!

When your content is really resourceful, it will be shared and referenced. And it can help brand you as an authority on a topic.

3. More Minds = More Great Ideas

You’ve done your keyword research using your tools of choice. You’ve explored popular hashtags on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. And you’ve looked at sites like Reddit to see what is being written about in your niche.

Don’t stop there.

Once a week, gather everyone on your team together in front of a whiteboard and start coming up with ideas. Most people get ideas from other people’s ideas.

By pulling in all the minds you can, you’ll get a lot better variety of ideas. Come up with 100 ideas in one session.

Once you’re done, have everyone involved in the process score the ideas from 1-10. Put it all together in Excel and you’ll get a good sense of what ideas have the most potential to be popular and help you successfully hit all your goals.

4. Look at Your Competitors’ Content

What is getting the most social shares and comments on your competitor’s site? What are they showcasing?

Certain content succeeds, some doesn’t. Look at what content works, and compare it to what content doesn’t work. See what is getting the most traction for your competitor and figure out what similar types of content might also work for you.

5. Push Your Content Further

Your content can always be better. Your goal is to be at least a little better than the competition.

Ask yourself these questions when you’re writing:

  • Is there more to the story?
  • Has it happened before?
  • Does it relate to current events?
  • Are there unanswered questions?
  • How are you adding perspective?

Also, make sure to do a quick search and social lookup to make sure your article is complete, add quotes and references, and link out to related information that adds value.

People are going to share the best source, the one with all the information. Make sure your content isn’t just one of 50 stories about a topic.

6. Formatting Your Content

  • Provide quotable, shareable, linkable text excerpts. Providing people with excerpts will help them share on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites, which will then drive more people to your site.
  • Break paragraphs for easy skimming. Try to limit yourself to one idea per paragraph. The majority of folks have lost interest in deep-form reading, so make it easy for people to skim.
  • Use bulleted lists. These help break up content, are easier to read and let you highlight key words and phrases.
  • Images. Use pictures to summarize concepts, break up content and provide something socially shareable.
  • Optimize for mobile. Make sure people can read and share your content on mobile devices, and make sure your content loads fast with a tool like Google PageSpeed Insights.
  • Avoid commercial elements (e.g., shopping cart buttons) or pop-ups (e.g., ads, signups). These end the user experience. Users are turned off, close your page and leave the site (and may never return). Also try to avoid ads within content.
  • Get rid of old junk: Ditch those calendars, tag clouds, counters, and any old social buttons.

7. Don’t Forget the Power of Social

If you see a bunch of people waiting outside a restaurant to get in, you presume it’s good. The online equivalent of this is social engagement.

If you see that a piece of content has many likes, retweets or comments, this sets up a subconscious expectation in a reader’s mind that the content they’re about to experience is of a certain level of quality. Don’t forget to promote your content socially and engage when people comment (or start the discussion in a positive way).

Creating blockbuster content is only half the battle. You must Plan for social promotion.

You can check out Csutoras’ presentation here.

About the Author
Danny Goodwin is Associate Editor of Search Engine Watch, the longest-running search industry publication dedicated to covering the latest search and social marketing news and trends, as well as providing how-to guides and actionable advice for marketers and advertisers of all skill levels. You can find him on Twitter.

Now’s the time to learn how to create high-quality, SEO-optimized content! Save nearly $200 on SEO Copywriting Certification training with coupon code FUN. This discount ends soon, so get it while you can!

Creative Commons licensed photo thanks to wiredforlego.

SEO Copywriting Top 10: July 9 to 15, 2014

Delve into the psychology of anticipation in this week's SEO Copywriting Top 10.

Delve into the psychology of anticipation in this week’s SEO Copywriting Top 10.

There are a couple posts about the psychology of conversion for you this week.

Neil Patel shares some insights on anticipation while Nate Desmond gives you some psych tactics with case-study examples.

Ready to throw in the towel on your writing biz? David K. William helps you delve into your own mind to deal with thoughts of giving up your freelance writing career.

The anticipation must be killing you, so I’ll let you get to it! 😉

1. Mike Murray writes The Great Content Checklist: Tips, Tools, and Examples for Content Marketing Institute.

2. Heather Lloyd-Martin writes 9 (more) questions writers ask about SEO copywriting for SEO Copywriting.

3. Andy Crestodina writes 3 Myths About Duplicate Content for KISSmetrics.

4. Greg Gifford writes Everybody Needs Local SEO for Moz.

5. Kelsey Jones writes How Does Google Index Tweets? A Study by @StoneTemple for Search Engine Journal.

6. David K. William writes What do you do when you feel like giving up? for The Web Writer Spotlight.

7. Neil Patel writes The Psychology of Anticipation and What it Means for Your Conversions for Unbounce.

8. Aki Libo-on writes How to Be a Better SEO: An Interview With Benj Arriola for Search Engine Journal.

9. Nate Desmond writes 5 Psychological Principles of High Converting Websites for KISSmetrics.

10. Ronell Smith writes How To Go Where The Competition Isn’t And Win for ISOOSI Blog.

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Creative Commons licensed photo thanks to David J Laporte.

9 (more) questions writers ask about SEO copywriting

Would being an SEO copywriter make you smile?

Wondering if you’d be happy as an SEO copywriter?

In a previous blog post, I discussed 9 common questions writers ask about SEO copywriting. But what about SEO copywriting as a career choice? If you’ve wondered how you could find a job as an SEO copywriter – or how you can start a freelance shop – this post is for you.

I originally wrote this post in 2012 and I’ve updated it to reflect other questions I answer every day. Enjoy!

I’m a print copywriter.  Are you sure that I can learn this? Or can an old dog really learn new tricks?

Yes, this is a skill that you can learn and master (check out Lynda Goldman’s interview for a real-life success story.)  Online writing is much different than print copywriting – so there will be a learning curve. At the same time, if you know how to write and connect with your audience, that’s half the battle. The main challenge I see with print copywriters is that they think that SEO copywriting is too “technical” to learn. Here’s how I answer that question …

I’m not a really technical person. Can I still do this?

Yes, you can. It’s true that the more you know about the “techie” side of SEO (and SEO copywriting,) the more opportunities that you’ll have. I highly recommend reading everything you can about SEO (including how to code) and upgrading your skills. Having said that, there are many SEO copywriters who partner with SEO firms. The copywriter writes the copy – and the SEO firm takes care of the “techie stuff.”

There seems to be a lot of SEO copywriters online. Is the market too saturated?

Nope. Granted, if you want business, you’ll have to learn how to market yourself – and ideally, you’ll choose a niche. But there are still many opportunities to make money.

But I’ve heard that SEO copywriting is dead. Is that true?

Nope. Certainly, the SEO writing “rules” have changed. And it’s more important than ever to keep up. But companies (and clients) are still begging for smart SEO writers who can help make them money.

What kind of companies hire in-house SEO copywriters?

All types of companies, including B2B, B2C and publishing companies. If you’re looking to work in-house, think about sites that produce a large amount of content every month – and consider those companies possible employment targets. For instance, ecommerce sites are constantly updating their product pages and blogs. A publishing company may require you to write SEO-optimized articles. Some in-house writers may also create newsletters, emails and white papers. Others focus just on SEO copy. It depends on the employer.

I’ve seen job titles like “Web content writer,” or “SEO content writer.” Is that the same thing?

Yup. There are quite a few different job titles for SEO copywriters. The main thing is choosing a job that fits your skill set. For instance, if you love blogging – but sales pages aren’t fun for you – you’ll want to choose a job that’s more social media related. If you can write high-converting sales pages, you may want to look at jobs that allow you to write landing pages, product pages and service pages.

Can I find a job that can teach me this stuff?

Yes, but don’t expect to get paid a lot. Many companies are looking to turn this over to an “internal expert” – so you’ll make more money if you have training, experience and fantastic clips. Having said that, starting out as a “copywriting assistant,” can fast-track your knowledge. Some of the best copywriters I know had someone helping them expand their skills. The pay may be lower, but the experience will be fantastic!

How can I find clients (or someone who would hire me full time?)

If you’re looking for an in-house job, you can certainly check out online job boards and see what’s out there. However, I recommend getting out there and actively networking – especially within your local community. Many writing jobs are “insider hires” that aren’t posted. The more you can connect with people, the more you’ll learn about secret opportunities and can position yourself as the perfect candidate!

Networking (whether it’s local or on social media) is also important if you want to freelance. In a perfect world, most of your clients come from referrals and you have a steady stream of business. Many freelancers love LinkedIn for copywriting leads. Pam Foster has said that LinkedIn “has been more fruitful … by far, than any other marketing method.” Why not give it a shot?

I want to be my own boss and work as a freelance SEO copywriter instead. How do I do that?

Read my “Ultimate Guide for Beginners.” it will tell you everything that you want to know.

I’ve heard that SEO writing is a low-paying gig. Tell me why I’d want to do this.

It’s true that some companies pay a paltry $5 per blog post. Having said that, some companies pay $250 or more per post – especially if the writer is truly top notch. I know many SEO writers who are happily writing content and making a fantastic living. You won’t make 100K starting out (whether you freelance or work full time.) But you can find clients (and employers) who value great writing. As your skills improve and you can demonstrate results, you can make more money over time. That’s pretty cool.

Wow, I’m sold! I want to quit my job tomorrow and freelance full time. What do you think?

Um, don’t do this. Not unless you have a pretty flush savings account, have clients already lined up, or have other income coming in. No matter how “hot” SEO copywriting is as an opportunity, it takes time to get your business off the ground. Having said that, learning everything you can about running a successful copywriting business will help you make more money, faster. For instance, check out my Copywriting Business Bootcamp classes for all of the topics that you’ll need to master.

Are there other ways I can use my SEO writing skills?

Heck yes. If you ever want to launch a side business, your SEO skills give you a competitive advantage. You’ll know how to drive more traffic and convert it into paying customers. Want to help out a friend who owns a business? Yes, you can do that, too. I’ve even heard of SEO writers bartering their skills for Pilates lessons, haircuts, landscaping … you name it. Plus, if you ever write a book, you can easily build an author platform with your SEO know-how.

Are you sure this is fun?

Oh yeah. It’s really fun. If you enjoy a fast-paced career – and you love working in an ever-changing industry – you’ll love SEO copywriting. If it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t have been doing this for the last 16 years. :)

Want step-by-step SEO-writing training and personalized help? Check out the SEO Copywriting Certification training!

SEO Copywriting Top 10: July 2 to 8, 2014


This post is packed full of search!

There’s a whole lot about SEO in this week’s Top 10!

Ruth Burr Reedy tells you what you need to know to succeed in SEO today, and HubSpot gives you a gigantically awesome Google ranking factors infographic.

But there’s more! (Yes, I did just use that overused, persuasive copywriting line on you. Jokingly, though, because you’re one of us! Oh, and there also really is more.)

Builtvisible gives you a candidate’s perspective on landing an SEO gig, and Arnie Kuenn interviews Danny Sullivan on the state of search.

Go forth and enjoy all of this searchy goodness!

1. Henneke writes How to Woo Clients with Your Online Personality for Enchanting Marketing.

2. Amanda DiSilvestro writes Find Writing Opportunities the Unconventional Way for SEO Copywriting.

3. Carol Tice writes How to Get Over Your Paralyzing Article Writing Fears for Make A Living Writing.

4. Tamar Weiss writes 4 Steps to a B2B Content Marketing Strategy that Drives Revenue for Content Marketing Institute.

5. Ruth Burr Reedy writes Essential Skill Sets for the Modern SEO for ISOOSI Blog.

6. Sam Kusinitz writes An Exhaustive List of Google’s Ranking Factors [Infographic] for HubSpot.

7. Ben Davis writes The Natural History Museum online: a lesson in copywriting for Econsultancy.

8. Bridget Randolph writes How To Tap Into Social Norms to Build a Strong Brand for Moz.

9. Dani Mansfield writes Getting a job in SEO: A Candidate’s Perspective for Builtvisible.

10. Arnie Kuenn writes The Current State of Search: An Interview with Danny Sullivan for LinkedIn.

Stop wasting time searching for search news! Let us do it for you! Sign up for the SEO Copywriting Buzz newsletter now and get your time back.

Creative Commons licensed photo thanks to brewbooks.

Find Writing Opportunities the Unconventional Way

Find writing opportunities

Discover new ways to find writing opportunities.

Whether you’re a freelance writer or looking to contribute articles across the web for visibility and links, it all starts with finding those writing opportunities in the first place. If you’re in charge of placing an article you write, then you probably know by now that it helps to find publications before you start writing. Even if you plan to write an article and then send it over with your pitch (depending on the situation), you still like to have an idea of where you’d like the article to go before you start writing.

Unfortunately, finding writing opportunities isn’t always easy. The “guest posting” days are still upon us, so editors are still being bombarded with emails from poor writers from poor companies, and so it’s easy to get ignored. Nonetheless, there are ways to get creative when it comes to finding these opportunities. It might be a little bit unconventional, but you’re a good writer, you deserve to be noticed!

Tips and Tricks for Finding New Writing Opportunities

Traditionally what you do is visit a website, look for a “guest post” or “write for us page” and read the guidelines. If those guidelines don’t exist, you move to finding contact information for the editor of the website. If all else fails, you’re writing a message to the invisible people on the other side of the “contact us” page. And by now, you also lose hope.

The trick to finding different writing opportunities is to not only be persistent, but to also try to connect with those in charge in other ways that aren’t the norm — where all the spammers go. Analyze the site where you’re hoping to get published and determine how far you want to go to get published on that site. If it’s a very good site (likely part of the reason you’re getting ignored), try some of these unconventional tactics:

• Try connecting through social media.

Of course this is the number one way to try and get your name out there to an editor. Unfortunately this is becoming a little bit more mainstream as well, but it’s worth a try if the editor of the website accepts your social follow request. Always request to connect first before sending any messages.

Once you connect with a publisher, reach out and express that you’re interested in creating a content partnership. I find that LinkedIn is the best place for this type of outreach because typically your requests to connect aren’t ignored here (like they often are on social sites like Twitter), and because it should be a network of professionals. It’s the best way for that publisher to see that you’re not a spammer and you’re serious about writing.

• Find contacts through other contacts.

If you’re ever at a loss finding different sites that allow contributors, talk with some of the editors who you already have a good relationship with. Not only will this help you find different options that you know accept articles, but you also have another editor vouching for you. Ask if you can have an introduction and offer to do the same for them with any of your contacts. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door — just use someone else who has already done it.

• Find other staff members at the website and try to connect that way.

If an editor isn’t getting back to you via the contact page or social media and you don’t have a mutual connection, try to find someone else who works at the company. Do this by checking out different social media sites and typing in the company name. If there is a full-time writer, chances are he or she knows the editor and can put you in touch with the right person. The writer probably doesn’t get many requests like an editor does, so you could be answered right away. A forwarded messaged to their boss is far more likely to be opened than something general you submitted on the site.

A Few Extra Tips

Scott Langdon, managing partner of SEO Company HigherVisibility, explained that a big part of finding opportunities is being committed to a regular relationship. He said, “Companies don’t want to hear from writers who are just interested in a link and publishing any content they have on hand. Publishers want to see that you are committed to finding the perfect content, potentially by sending ideas, and you’re ready to be a regular contributor who values the partnership over the link.”

Also keep in mind that when you are trying to approach an editor, it always helps if that editor has seen you before. Try to become an active member of different websites in your community by not only contributing articles, but by commenting on different posts. Recognition will always get you far when it comes to writing opportunities. And, although it can be tough to start, once you break through, these opportunities will start falling like dominoes.

Finally, don’t try and talk with editors if their site clearly doesn’t allow outside contributors. Always go for the traditional approaches first and analyze the website to determine if you want to move forward with some of the more aggressive approaches discussed above.

Do you have any extra tips for finding writing opportunities? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comment section below.

About the Author

Amanda DiSilvestro is Online Content Editor and Writer for SEO consulting service Higher Visibility. Follow her on Twitter @ADiSilvestro, and connect with her on LinkedIn and Google+.

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Creative Commons licensed photo thanks to Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures.

SEO Copywriting Top 10: June 25 to July 1, 2014

Heather explains the benefits of getting out of your comfort zone - and leads by example!

Heather explains the benefits of getting out of your comfort zone – and leads by example!

Because it would be weird and unjust not to mention it, here’s a post on Google removing authorship photos from search. I don’t want to put one of these posts in the list, though, because that precious space is mostly for learning things. However, you should be aware of the change.

One cool thing to learn, now that Heather’s back from her month-long sojourn into the Grand Canyon, is to leave your comfort zone behind in order to grow. See how she did it in her post!

Also on the topic of personal growth, don’t miss Demian Farnworth’s piece on outsmarting obsolescence.


1. Eric Covino writes SEO Insurance: Best Practices for Writing SEO Services Client Contracts for SEO Book.

2. Michael Gerard writes Outsourcing Content Creation: Agencies vs. Freelancers for Curata.

3. Barry Adams writes Google`s Road to Total Web Domination for State of Digital.

4. Heather Lloyd-Martin writes Climb out of your comfort zone! for SEO Copywriting.

5. Danielle Bachini writes Why You Must Be Blogging for SEO Success for Brick Marketing.

6. Demian Farnworth writes How to Outsmart Obsolescence for Medium.

7. Michele Linn writes The Basics of SEO for Successful Content Marketing for Content Marketing Institute.

8. Michael Stelzner writes Marketing You: How to Play to Your Unique Strengths for Social Media Examiner.

9. Rand Fishkin writes 8 Ways to Use Email Alerts to Boost SEO – Whiteboard Friday for Moz.

10. David Cheng writes How to Optimize Your Older Blog Content for Long Tail Conversion for Unbounce.

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Creative Commons licensed photo thanks to Aldon.

Climb out of your comfort zone!

I'm the one in the blue, hanging on for dear life. And yes, I was VERY scared!

I’m the one in the blue, hanging on for dear life. And yes, I was VERY scared!

I have an incredible fear of heights.

Bouldering makes every muscle I have tighten up with anxiety.

And I don’t do heat well. If it’s over 75 degrees, I feel like I’m melting.

So of course I spent 16 days rafting the Grand Canyon – the land of sheer drops, lots of bouldering and 105+ degree temperatures.


Because catapulting myself out of my comfort zone provides me incredible clarity.

Some backstory: About a year and a half ago, my husband won a river rafting permit for the Grand Canyon. Some people wait a lifetime to win a permit. My husband has won two. If only he could use his superpowers to win the lottery, but I digress …

Mind you, Ron (my husband) and I are the Odd Couple of marriage. I love the city. He prefers living in the suburbs away from people. He’s quiet. I am … not. He loves camping. I would prefer a spa with daily massages. We make it work.

So when this trip became real, I knew I’d have to push myself. I’d rafted the Canyon before and I knew all the ways I’d be pushed:

– I’d have to take about three weeks off work – with no access to anything electronic.

– I’d be dealing with searing (and shadeless) heat for hours every day.

– I’d be around my fellow group members almost ALL THE TIME. For someone who is used to having hours of alone time, the social obligations were daunting.

– I would not be able to enjoy five minutes of my “normal” home routine – from what time I got up, when I would go to bed, what I would eat and how I would spend my time.

– I’d have to be careful all the time. I found a scorpion in my pants on day three. I almost broke my toe day 12. Not to mention the other bumps, bruises and general klutziness I experienced.

– And oh yeah. I could die. Or another member of my trip could die. There were two deaths within the 3-week period I was there.

Did I lose it during the trip? Yes (day three, 11 and 13.) Did I secretly wish I had stayed home and enjoyed my air conditioning? Yes.

Despite the pain (and yes, there was pain,) the experience was worth it.  Jumping out of my comfort zone provided me some incredible gifts I wouldn’t have learned any other way.

Although I’m awfully good at providing well-meaning advice, I get stuck. And scared. And confused. I go on autopilot when I can’t think of what else to do. Instead of feeling energetic, my energy sits there and stagnates.

Maybe that’s something you go through, too.

Once I was back home and settled, I realized I could think more clearly. It wasn’t a case of “Heather finally took a real vacation.” It was more “Heather pushed herself and realized the benefits.”

– Things that seemed “impossible” before seem challenging now … but doable.

– I’m more able to let go of the things that don’t serve me (clients, busywork, emotions.)

– I feel less fearful and more confident. Heck, I crawled down a 25-foot rock wall. After that, I feel like I can do anything.

Plus, I feel like I can finally start making some pretty major changes. They don’t seem as daunting anymore. If anything, not making these changes seems like a scary alternative.

I’m sharing this with you because you may also need to jump out of your comfort zone and hang out on a virtual ledge. Instead of trusting your fears, you’ll need to “trust your feet” (as I heard over and over) and know that they’ll lead you where you need to go.

Granted, that’s harder to do when you’re home. You probably have set times you write, when you spend with family and when you work out (because you do exercise – right?) You may eat the same thing for breakfast because it’s easy. You may rely on your routine because it’s safe.

(I do the same thing.)

My challenge to you is to do something a little different every day. Work at a different cafe. Take a new route home. Write copy for a new vertical.

Then, see how you can really push yourself. If you’ve never run before, start running and sign up for a 5K. Jump out of an airplane. Take a few days off and refuse to check anything electronic.

The more you push yourself, the more you’ll learn. Sure, it will be scary. And you’ll kick back a number of times.

But the experience will be well worth it.

Where do I go from here? I’m still percolating on my options. There are times when I want to make a drastic change. Other times, I realize that I can make a bunch of little changes and see some big results.

All I know is, I’m ready to climb off that comfort-zone ledge.

C’mon. Why don’t you climb down with me? It will be fun. :)

Have you been wanting to start your own copywriting business? It’s time to take the leap! (With help.) Sign up for Heather’s Copywriting Business Boot Camp course today and finally experience the freedom you’ve been looking for.

SEO Copywriting Top 10: June 18 to 24, 2014

free tool

This post is chock-full of free tools!
And, unlike security for this man’s building, we trust that you’ll use them wisely. :)

We’ve got a couple killer Hummingbird posts for you this week, and, because I know you love tools (the helpful marketing kind, not the obnoxious person kind), I’m giving you two posts from KISSmetrics chock-full of growth-hacking and SEO tools.

Seriously, can we get enough posts about tools that make our lives easier?

You’ll also discover how to produce more content without outsourcing, and, for any of you too-free-spirited freelancers (c’mon, you know who you are!); discover how to create a freelance writing schedule that keeps the dough rollin’ in.

1. Karon Thackston writes Are You Asking These Useless Questions about SEO Copywriting? for Marketing Words Blog.

2. Ilise Benun writes Freelance Copywriting Proposals: 10 Questions to Ask First & 4 Types to Write for SEO Copywriting.

3. Dan Shewan writes How Google Hummingbird Changed the Future of Search for WordStream.

4. Cyrus Shepard writes Feeding the Hummingbird: Structured Markup Isn’t the Only Way to Talk to Google for Moz.

5. Neil Patel writes Seven Free SEO Tools You Should Be Using for KISSmetrics.

6. Chloe Mason Gray writes 35 Growth Hacking Tools for Marketers Who Don’t Code for KISSmetrics.

7. Peter Herrnreiter writes The Psychology of Belonging: Why People Become Brand Fans for Marketing Profs.

8. Eric Enge writes How Content Quality Analysis Works With SEO for Search Engine Land.

9. Bryan Lovgren writes The Secret to Producing More Content (Without Outsourcing) for LinkedIn.

10. Lauren Carter writes How to create a freelance writing schedule that boosts your productivity for By Lauren Carter.

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Creative Commons licensed photo thanks to bark.

Freelance Copywriting Proposals: 10 Questions to Ask First & 4 Types to Write

freelance writing proposalsExcerpt from The Copywriter’s Proposal Bundle

Do you ever sit down to write a freelance copywriting proposal only to realize that you don’t have enough – or the right – information from the client to submit the best proposal that you can?

It’s not their fault. If you agree to write one, it’s your responsibility to make sure you get what you need – whether through a questionnaire or a brief phone call – before you invest the time in writing a proposal, which you should never agree to do lightly.

This checklist will make it easier to get the crucial details you need to write the strongest possible freelance proposal to win you the job.

1. The Goals: What are the big-picture goals of this project? What specific objectives do you need to achieve? How does this project fit into your overall plan? How will you measure the success of this project?
2. The Market: What/who is the market for this project? Is there research available on the market? Is this the first time you’re approaching this market?
3. The Content: Where will the source content come from? Is it ready? Will research be necessary? Who will do the research?
4. The Timeframe: What is your timeline? Is there a hard deadline? Is this a rush? How quickly does your team provide feedback between drafts? Are there other factors that could get in the way?
5. The Contact: Who will be our main point of contact? Will he/she be involved from the start or jump in later?
6. The Decision-Making Process: Who is the main decision-maker on this project? Is it one person or a committee? How will you select your vendor and what is the most important factor in your selection? Price? Location? Style? References? Past experience in your industry? Something else?
7. The Budget: What budget have you allocated for this project? Are you thinking $xxx or $xxxxx? Do you have an overall marketing budget for the year? What is it?
8. The Proposal: What would you like to see in the proposal?
9. The Other Vendors: How many others are bidding on this project? Do you have someone in mind for the project already? Can you say who or what size firm?
10. The Proposal Presentation: Will you be available on (date/time) for us to present the proposal to you either in person or via phone/Skype?

The Best Freelance Proposal for the Job: 4 Types to Choose From

Once you’ve gathered all the information, it’s time to decide which type of freelance proposal to prepare. Sometimes a simple one will do just fine and you’d be wasting time to do more. But there are other situations when the only way to win the project is to do a substantial proposal. But if you’re using the same one for all prospects, you may be selling yourself short.

Depending on the scope of the project and your familiarity with the prospect or client, choose from these four distinct types of proposals to make sure you submit the one that will get you the job.

1. One-page agreement. This is essentially a confirmation letter (often sent via email) or simple cost estimate, best used for small projects and/or projects done for an ongoing client. It should take very little time to generate when you have a simple template ready to drop the details into.
>>> Time to write: 15 minutes or less.

2. Small proposal (1–3 pages). The structure of this short proposal is very close to that of the one-pager but not quite as minimal. It’s ideal for a new prospect that’s already sold on working with you but wants the details of what you’ll do in writing. Like the One-Page Agreement, it outlines the bare bones of a project but goes into a bit more detail, which is especially recommended if your prospect has not worked with a writer before.
>>> Time to write: One hour or less.

3. Medium proposal (4-10 pages). This proposal is for a medium to large project for a prospect you don’t know or a client you do know but who will be responsible for selling you “up the chain” to others who don’t know you. For a proposal at this level, the client has higher expectations and so it often requires more pages. That also means more persuasive copy – remember, absolutely everything you write is a sample of your writing! And for this size proposal, always include a title page and a cover letter.
>>> Time to write: No more than 4 hours.

4. Long proposal (10-20+ pages). For a major project with Ideal Client Inc., the long freelance proposal is an important marketing tool. As a general rule, the higher your fee, the more pages your proposal will need in order to demonstrate the value you bring. A more substantial document shows that you’ve thought through the project and know what you’re talking about. Include lots of relevant examples that position you as an expert, demonstrating that you have the experience and knowledge for this project. And don’t do this one unless your chances of getting it are at least 50%.
>>> Time to write: 1-2 days.

About the Author

Ilise Benun is the founder of and the editor of The Copywriter’s Proposal Bundle which she sells in her online store: She is also a national speaker, the founder of The Creative Freelancer Business Conference and provides business coaching, advice and accountability for copywriters and other creative professionals who are serious about growing their business. Her books include “The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money,” “The Designer’s Guide to Marketing and Pricing” and “Stop Pushing Me Around: A Workplace Guide for the Timid, Shy and Less Assertive.” Sign up for her Quick Tips from Marketing Mentor ( and follow her @MMToolbox

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Photo thanks to Daniel X. O’Neil