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.

Enjoy!

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.

Why?

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.

Get everything SEO that you need to know – delivered right to your inbox! Sign up now to receive the SEO Copywriting Buzz newsletter. Free Copywriter’s Manifesto included!

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 Marketing-Mentor.com and the editor of The Copywriter’s Proposal Bundle which she sells in her online store: http://marketing-mentor.com/proposals-copywriters-0. 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 (www.marketing-mentortips.com) and follow her @MMToolbox

Increase your freelance writing income by taking Heather’s Lloyd-Martin’s Copywriting Business Boot Camp course. Sign up today!

Photo thanks to Daniel X. O’Neil

SEO Copywriting Top 10: June 11 to 17, 2014

Commenters as dumb as this person's other car make YOU look dumb! Read Roger Dooley's post for more.

Commenters as dumb as this person’s other car make YOU look dumb! Read Roger Dooley’s post for more.

We have a powerful mix of posts for you in this week’s SEO Copywriting Top 10.

Eliminate keyphrase conundrum with the AdWords Best Practices Center.

New to freelance writing or need to improve your business? Take charge, and charge right! Heather shares how.

Did you know that dumb comments on your blog make you look dumb? Yikes! Roger Dooley explains. Good thing we have such intelligent readers. 😉

Enjoy and have a great week!

1. Search Engine Land writes AdWords Best Practices Resource Center Opens for Digital Marketers.

2. Kevan Lee writes Feeling Uncomfortable: The Way to Create Amazing Content for Buffer Blog.

3. Eric Enge writes 3 Ways To Scale Your Content Marketing for Marketing Land.

4. Heather Lloyd-Martin writes How to charge for freelance copywriting services for SEO Copywriting.

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

6. Miranda Miller writes Google My Business: New Local/Social Dashboard for Business for WordStream.

7. Michele Linn writes A Guide to Creating Content in the Formats Your Audience Loves for Content Marketing Institute.

8. Cosette Jarrett writes 10 Things You Can Learn from Bad Copy for KISSmetrics.

9. Michael Stelzner writes Twitter Cards for Blogs: How to Set Them Up for Social Media Examiner.

10. Roger Dooley writes Dumb Comments by Others Make YOU Look Dumb for Neuromarketing.

PS: If you found any of these posts helpful, please share the list with others!

Impress clients and colleagues with your SEO in-the-know! Get all the latest industry tips and updates – sign up for the SEO Copywriting Buzz newsletter now!

Photo thanks to Halloween 20111031

SEO Copywriting Top 10: June 4 to 10, 2014

crush

Workload got ya feelin’ like this? Read the life-saving content marketing tips in this week’s Top 10. (Don’t worry. I was concerned, too, but that’s an elephant statue.) :)

Let’s face it, whether you’re a freelance copywriter or an in-house content creator, you’ve gotta do it all – and this group of posts may save your life! (OK, that’s a bit dramatic. They’ll just keep you from getting crushed under the weight of confusion-driven deadlines.)

This week brings a grand mix of copywriting, SEO and overall content marketing tactics.

Discover how to get clients begging to hire you, stellar examples of ecommerce copywriting, the latest on Google, Panda 4.0 and keywords, as well as content marketing growth hacks, magnetic email incentives – and more!

1. Carol Tice writes How to Get Freelance Writing Clients Begging to Hire You for Make A Living Writing.

2. Birgitte Rasine writes How to Write Through Duress for The Write Practice.

3. Bill Slawski writes How Google Might Identify Synonyms for Entities Using Anchor Text for SEO by the Sea.

4. Glenn Gabe writes More Panda 4.0 Findings: Syndication, User Engagement, Indexation & Keyword Hoarding for Search Engine Watch.

5. Michele Linn writes The Complete Guide to Influencer Marketing: Strategies, Templates & Tools for Content Marketing Institute.

6. Nicole Kohler writes The Hidden Power of Nofollow Links for Moz.

7. Garrett Moon writes 9 Content Marketing Growth Hacks to Drive Traffic and Conversions for Unbounce.

8. Christopher Ratcliff writes Five evocative examples of ecommerce copywriting for Econsultancy.

9. Dorothy Wheeler writes How Does Competitive Intelligence Tie Into Search? for Search Engine Journal.

10. Michael Hyatt writes A Step-by-Step Guide for Creating a Magnetic Email Incentive for Michael Hyatt.

We’re giving away Heather’s SEO Copywriting Certification course while she’s on vacation! OK, it’s not free, but save $150 until June 17 with the code CATSAWAY! Hurry!

Photo thanks to peasap

Is it Time to Upgrade From Freelance Writer to LLC?

Do you need an upgrade?When I made the move from freelancer to starting a content development agency, the decision of which type of business to form was an easy one. I went from being a sole proprietor to being the co-owner of a limited liability corporation (LLC).

Why we chose to go with an LLC had a lot to do with the state where we’re based — Texas. Say what you will about the state, but Texas is one of the most small-business friendly states. Also, there’s no state income tax. And we have awesome barbecue. But I digress.

Aside from the legal and financial reasons for making that choice, creating an LLC — and in general, becoming a more formal business entity — offered other benefits directly related to our business over and above our business filing. If you think you’re ready to upgrade, an LLC may be just the thing to help you gain more credibility, more clients, and yes, more revenue.

What’s the Difference Between a Sole Proprietorship and an LLC?

If you’re a freelance writer, you’re already a sole proprietor. (You’re paying your quarterly estimated tax, right? Right?!) Although you likely didn’t have to actually file any papers or pay any fees to claim that status, sole proprietorship is recognized by the IRS. It basically means you as an individual and you as a business are one and the same, and you’ll encounter few differences to how you file your taxes, aside from possibly having more deductions.

In order to be recognized as an LLC, you will need to file paperwork and pay fees. What kind of paperwork and how much in fees will vary from state to state. But the basic paperwork required regardless of state indicates the name of your business, its location, and who the members are.

Depending on where you form your LLC, you may also have to pay an LLC tax or, in some states, what’s called a franchise tax. I know — we’re not talking about franchises, we’re talking about LLCs. You weren’t really expecting tax law to make sense, were you? C’mon.

Forming a Foreign LLC

You’ll notice I said “depending on where you file your LLC.” Sure, this is because it depends on the state you live in, but something you may not know is you can file an LLC in any state you like, whether you live there or not.

Why would anyone do this? For lots of reasons, but the two main ones are:

  • to make the filing process easier, and
  • to reduce expenses

While forming a business can be a complex process in some states, when we did it, we filled out a form, sent it to the state capital, paid a few hundred dollars, and in exactly one week, we were an LLC. Just like that. Done. It couldn’t possibly have been any easier than it was.

As for expense, if you live in California, you’ll pay a fairly high LLC tax of 8.84%, and a minimum tax of $800, and income tax to boot. If you file your LLC in Texas, you’ll pay a franchise tax of just 1%.

(While I may be just a teensy bit biased toward Texas (Go Spurs Go!), it’s not the only state that offers benefit to those forming an LLC. But seriously — barbecue. That’s all I’m saying.)

Forming an LLC in another state — a “foreign LLC” — may also require the payment of additional up-front fees. You’ll need to do your own homework here to decide not only whether you want to make the leap from sole proprietor to LLC, but then whether to file in your home state or not.

Speaking of doing homework, I’m discussing these topics based on my personal experience, and from a general, educational point of view. But remember that we’re talking about legal entities here that have certain tax responsibilities. As I’m neither a lawyer nor a tax accountant, be sure to consult one or the other or both, or at a minimum, do your own research before making any changes to your business status.

Now, how can switching from a sole proprietorship to an LLC benefit you as a business owner?

More Credibility

Let’s be honest for a minute here. As prevalent and in demand as the freelance writer is, there’s still a pervasive attitude that if you’re a freelancer, you’re not a “real” business. You just have some free time on your hands, and you figured you’d make a few bucks while your kids were at school, or on the weekends. You’re not really expecting to make a living doing that, are you? So businesses can sometimes be reluctant to pay reasonable and fair rates for freelance work.

I’ve definitely been there. In fact, when I was freelancing, I took to referring to myself as an “independent professional writer” in an effort to be taken more seriously — and to have my rates taken more seriously.

That changes when you become a registered business entity. When you put an LLC (or an Inc., or whatever official designation you establish) after your business name on your website, people perceive you differently. I’m not going to lie to you and say companies immediately open their wallets wider to pay for web content because we still have a struggle with content mills, but that’s another post.

But when you can put a business name and logo on your invoices, you can begin to change how your clients interact with you and how potential clients see you.

It may also open up other opportunities to you such as speaking engagements, offers to guest post on well-regarded blogs and even press quotes (Are you signed up with HARO?).

More Clients

Those marketing opportunities are all fantastic, but the main goal of those activities is to get clients. You also know that some clients respond to perceived scarcity (a classic marketing tactic), and to perceived value (a necessary facet of your business). How better to bolster both of those perceptions than to move from being an individual freelance writer to an LLC?

Just as your industry colleagues may view you differently once you change your status, so too will potential clients. In fact, establishing your business as an LLC (or other entity) may even passively assist you with client pre-qualification. Some potential clients may infer that once you become a small business, you’re probably more expensive than a freelancer. Whether this is true or not, it may keep the more, uh, frugal clients out of your inbox, leaving plenty of room for those who are really serious about their content, and serious about hiring you at your possibly higher rates.

More Revenue

Well, this one just naturally follows the last one if forming an LLC brings you more regard and more clients. But if you do go this route, why not raise your rates a bit? In fact, you really should.

Even if you form a single-member LLC, you’re likely going to have a few more expenses than you had as a sole proprietor. You still may not have to worry about renting office space, but you may want to step up from using your Gmail address to a domain-based address that you access via Gmail. The best option for that is Google Apps, which, while very affordable, does cost.

Then there are business cards. Again, you can find affordable options, but now that you’re a business and not a freelancer, you need cards with your logo on them that make more of an impression than most free cards you may find.

And don’t forget your LLC or franchise taxes and other fees. As a business, you have other expenses you didn’t have before. Raising your rates may not bring an immediate raise in net profit. But if your new rates cover your new expenses while keeping your income status quo (at least at first), you’re coming out ahead.

You may also find it easier later on when it comes time to raise your rates again. Some clients won’t take it well, but that’s just another way of qualifying clients. Again, a post for another time.

Joining Forces

OK, now let’s think for a moment. If you’re going to form an LLC, you’re positioning yourself for more credibility, more clients and more revenue. Well, how are you going to handle all those new clients and new marketing opportunities by yourself? Maybe you don’t have to fly solo.

I never thought I’d go into business with a partner. My experiences as an employee with less-than-stellar bosses put me in a mindset of wanting to go it completely alone. Well, things happen, things change, and I did not only get a business partner, I became one. But it’s led our business to bigger and better things.

Think about it — two times the labor force. Two times the marketing. Where I’m weak, she’s strong, and vice-versa. And now that she’s moved back to her home state of Ohio while I’m still in Texas, we’re a national company with two locations! OK, we both still work from home, but you get what I mean. She’s making all new connections up there while I’m still working in our community here.

But the best thing? Those days when being an entrepreneur is hard, when clients are making us crazy, when we wonder what the heck we were thinking — those days, it’s wonderful to be partners who keep each other grounded, who listen to each other vent and then give each other that push we need to keep going.

The point is, starting a business is hard. Keeping it going is even harder. Doing everything all by yourself, well, that’s not always all it’s cracked up to be. If you’re thinking about making your business official, you can open yourself up to a lot of benefits. But don’t let the fact that, up to this point, you’ve worked alone, be the thing that stops you.

In fact, don’t let anything stop you.

About the Author

Michelle Lowery is the co-founder of Passion Fruit Creative Group, a boutique content development agency, and Passion Fruit Website Creation, both offering services to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

In addition to editing the ISOOSI blog, Michelle is a regular contributor to Search Engine Journal, 3Q Digital, and Authority Labs. She’s also a PubCon speaker, and webinar instructor.

Connect with Michelle on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

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Photo thanks to kennymatic

SEO Copywriting Top 10: May 28 to June 3, 2014

No Google Penguin updateWas that a penguin you just saw?

Major traffic changes to sites hit by the Google Penguin link-spamming update had some SEOs crying Penguin.

The ever-on-top-of-it Google update guru Barry Schwartz found out otherwise straight from the search giant’s mouth in this week’s top post.

Also, more on Google Hummingbird and how to create an update-proof SEO strategy.

1. Barry Schwartz writes No, Google Says There’s Been No Penguin Update for Search Engine Land.

2. Kathy Klotz-Guest writes 7 Ways to Lighten Up Your Marketing and Generate Conversation for Convince & Convert.

3. Kerry Curren writes Use Search Insights to Improve Your Content Marketing Strategy: 4 Steps for Content Marketing Institute.

4. Annabel Hodges writes Hummingbird & Entity Search for State of Digital.

5. Neil Patel writes How to Create a Search Engine Listing That Engages Trust for KISSmetrics.

6. Chris Ainsworth writes The Top 5 Off-Page Optimisation Factors for Search Engine People.

7. Larry Kim writes Triple Your Click Through Rate for Social Media Today.

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

9. Marjorie Steele writes How to build a Google update-proof SEO strategy for Level343.

10. Lisa Toner writes 11 Ideas to Grow Brand Awareness at Lightning Speed for HubSpot.

Start making more money today! Raise your rates by adding SEO copywriting to your suite of services. Save $150 on SEO Copywriting Certification with code CATSAWAY. Quick! Prices go up when Heather returns on June 17!

Photo thanks to Ian Wilson.

5 SEO copywriting tips for B2B companies

I love working with B2B companies. Many times, they have scads of unique content opportunities – they just need someone to point them out and send them in the right direction.

If you work for a B2B company and you’ve been wondering, “Why are people bouncing out of our site so fast” or “Why don’t we position for X keyterm,” read on. You may benefit from one (or all) of these five SEO copy tips.:

  • Do you know who you’re writing for? Who is your target audience? Do you serve multiple target audiences?  For instance, you may serve real estate agents, solopreneurs and large corporations.  That means three different audiences (or personas) – and each persona will have different goals, motivations and needs. Creating personalized content for your company’s different personas allow you to customize the content around what they need to see – and can help conversion rates skyrocket. For instance, Paymo clearly outlines their target markets on their home page, and lists persona-specific benefits.

  • Qualify your keyphrases for the B2B market. Many B2B keyterms can cause “keyphrase confusion” if they aren’t qualified for your market. For instance, when you think “blades,” you may think “server blades.” However, “blades” could also mean “hockey blades,” or “razor blades.” If you were a B2B company focusing on the single term “blades” when you really mean “server blades,” you’ll be missing the search engine boat.

Adding the qualifying word (in this case, “server”) will help the page position for the B2B phrase. Here’s how Dell does it:

  • Consider your tone and feel. One of the easiest ways a B2B company can differentiate itself is through well-written, engaging copy. That doesn’t mean that the content should sound “fluffy” or be inappropriate for the brand. But it does mean that you probably have more room to move than you think. For example, check out FreshBooks’ home page. I never thought an invoice could “Earn the awe of your clients,” but hey, the copy gets the point across in a fresh, snappy way.
  • Create clickable Titles. A common B2B Title is structured like this:  keyword | keyword | keyword| (insert company name here.) You wouldn’t write a headline like that – so why would you let the first opportunity for conversion (getting the click from the search engines results page) pass you by?  Create a compelling, “clickable” Title by including a benefit statement or even a call to action. For instance, check out this example from PSPrint. Their Title has keyphrases. It has a benefit statement. And it positions in the top ten, too. Triple score!

  • Leverage the content you have. B2B companies tend to have many content opportunity. For instance, newsletter content can be re-purposed for a blog post. You could create transcripts of past Webinars and post them online. Existing site copy could be transformed into top-positioning SEO copy through strategic keyphrase editing. The possibilities are out there – it’s just uncovering them, setting an editorial calendar and making it happen.

Save 20% on the SEO Copywriting Certification training while Heather’s out of town! Use coupon code CATSAWAY until June 17.