How to charge for freelance copywriting services

Probably the most common question that freelance copywriters ask me is “How much should I charge?”

I know what these folks are really asking. They want me to gaze into a crystal ball and reply, “You should charge $X per page. If you charge that rate, clients will love you and you’ll make lots of money. Now go forth and write.”

If it was only that simple.

Pricing for copywriting services will always be a challenge. When you’re just starting out, you don’t know what you don’t know – so it’s very easy to undercharge (or price yourself too high.)

When you’ve been in business for a few years, raising your rates can be a very scary experience. You’re afraid of losing the clients you already have (or not being able to land new ones.)

Of course, it doesn’t make sense to stay in business if you’re never able to raise your rates…so you’ll constantly be facing this dilemma.

Then, there’s always figuring out the best way to charge the client. Per page? Per project? Come up with a magical number and hope the client goes for it (yes, we’ve all been there!) 😉

If you’re stuck in the “how should I charge for services” quandary, here are some guidelines to get you through.

First, you’ll want to start by asking yourself four questions. These questions are applicable if you’re brand new to freelancing, or if you have an established business. In fact, you may want to revisit these questions every six months or so and confirm that you’re still on track.

Question #1: What are your income goals?

This is an incredibly important point that many freelancers ignore. I’ve seen freelancers charge $10 a page just to get business in the door – without realizing the long-term impact of that decision. Think about it: If you have a $750/month rent payment, that means that you need to write 75 articles a month just to make your rent. That’s not counting food, electricity, gas, taxes…you get the picture.

Do you really see yourself writing 150 articles a month just to make $1,500? Nope. I didn’t think so.

To come up with an income goal, you’ll first want to determine what your monthly expenses are (both business and personal.) Then, increase that number by 35% (which represents what you’ll want to set aside for taxes.) This is the base amount you’ll need to make just to keep your doors open.

I would recommend adding another 10% to that number, too. That way, you can put money aside for a new computer, travel, or any other business expense that may pop up. Better to put that money aside now than put a purchase on a credit card later.

Question #2: Who is your target market?

Is your heart with small, local businesses? That’s fantastic! Just know that small businesses have smaller budgets  – and if you’re expecting mom and pop businesses to pay you $300 per page – or $250 an hour –  you’ll need to adjust your expectations. However, if you’re working within a specialty niche market, it’s possible to charge much more money.

Question #3: What’s your experience level?

Here’s a reality check: If you are new to copywriting, your rates will need to reflect that. You are not going to start out making $500 a page, no matter how many books promise “huge profits” in your first few months.  Once you can show results (happy client testimonials, rankings, case studies, etc.,) you’ll be able to charge your target audience more money.

Experienced copywriters can (and should) charge more. Have you gone through specialized training (such as the SEO Copywriting Certification training?). Have you written a book? Are you the recognized copywriting expert in a certain niche? Are you a recognized speaker and trainer? These feathers in your cap can (and should) translate into a higher per-page rate.

Question #4: What are other writers charging?

This one is trickier. Some writers will share their pricing information. Others consider it competitive information.  Chris Marlow developed a copywriting pricing guide that provides some guidelines. And sometimes, clients are very open about what other writers have charged in the past. Just remember – just because a writer is charging X doesn’t mean that you should charge the same thing.

So, now that you hopefully have a better idea of how to charge, let’s consider the various ways you can work with clients.

Hourly pricing:

Some freelancers love hourly pricing. On the surface, it looks like a great way to make sure that you’re getting paid for all of your research and writing time. However, this approach can backfire in a number of ways.

First, it works against you as a writer. When you first start out, it may take you five hours to write one page. A year later, it may only take half of that. That means that the better and faster you write, the less money you’ll actually make. You can compensate for this by raising your hourly rate, but the other challenge is…

…hourly pricing doesn’t showcase the value of what you offer. Since clients don’t know how much work goes into writing a page, they’ll often ask you to “only spend an hour” or “just a few minutes” to save time (and money.) That means you’ll be turning in sub-standard work and making less money. No fun.

Per-page pricing:

Most freelancers I know operate on a per-page basis. This structure is easy for clients to understand – they know that every web page you write is going to cost X.  It also allows freelancers to charge for the value of their work. After all, if you spend 10 minutes writing a page – and that page results in $10,000 worth of sales – charging $300 is a pretty solid investment.

The challenge with per-page pricing is that you need to have very clear boundaries. If your client asks you to “make just a few extra tweaks” (that weren’t originally in the scope of the agreement,) – you’ll “lose” money. Your contract should include information about how many revisions are included, how long you’ll spend on the phone with their team and what work is considered in and out of scope.  Be warned – a client who needs to chat with you 30 minutes a day to “make sure we’re on the same page,” will eat up your budget quickly – so make sure that you set expectations up front.

Project-based pricing:

This is also a popular way of pricing client projects. Rather than outlining your services and how much they cost, you’d quote a price for the entire project.  This can be an excellent pricing method if you’re afraid that the client will slice something out of the quote that you’ll need to do your job well (such as cutting out keyphrase research in order to save a few bucks. Yes. it happens.)

The challenge with project-based pricing is you may underestimate the time you’ll need to spend – so what you think will take you 10 hours may take you 25.  Sometimes, you can go back to the client and ask for more money…but usually only if you’re already addressed this in your agreement. Otherwise, it looks like a bait-and-switch.

Like per-page pricing, you’ll have to set some really clear boundaries. If this is your preferred pricing method, just make sure that the client understands what’s included – and what may trigger an additional fee (with the client’s approval, of course.) That way, you’re protected – and the client knows exactly what they’re paying for.

One final warning…

My final piece of advice? Don’t sell yourself short.  It’s tempting to charge a rock-bottom rate just to get business in the door – or be too afraid to raise your rates. As my father used to tell me, “If nobody is complaining that your prices are too high, you’re not charging enough.”

That’s excellent advice.

What about you? What pricing advice would you add?


Time’s running out to save $150 on the SEO Copywriting Certification! Sign up now to add skill that raise your rates with the code CATSAWAY until June 17.

Photo thanks goes to 401K.









SEO Copywriting Top 10: June 4 to 10, 2014


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.

SEO Copywriting Top 10: May 21 to May 27

Google rolls out Panda 4.0Google rolled out the Panda 4.0 and Payday Loan 2.0 updates. Find out what Dr. Pete has to say about that  – and the consequences for eBay.

Is your CTA MIA? Discover how to use calls to action where they’re hot right now: social media and blogging.

Also, find out how to stand out as a freelance writer.

Get that information and more in this week’s SEO Copywriting Top 10.


1. Vincent Barr writes The Deceptively Simple A/B Testing Mistake Quietly Killing Your Conversion Rates for Unbounce.

2. Oli Gardner writes The Most Entertaining Guide to Landing Page Optimization You’ll Ever Read for Moz.

3. James Scherer writes 10 Tips for Creating Content That Converts Like a Champ for Content Marketing Institute.

4. Michelle Lowery writes The Keyword Density Myth and Why it Must Die for ISOOSI Blog.

5. Carol Tice writes 5 Super-Easy Ways Freelance Writers Can Stand Out for Make A Living Writing.

6. Aleyda Solis writes 7 Factors to Check when doing SEO for International Sites for State of Digital.

7. Danielle Wiley writes How To Use Social Media & Blogs For Powerful Call-To-Action Marketing for Marketing Land.

8. Courtney Seiter writes Stand Out on Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn: Your @Buffer Guide to Social Media Formatting for Search Engine Journal.

9. Dr. Peter J. Meyers writes Panda 4.0, Payday Loan 2.0 & eBay’s Very Bad Day for Moz.

10. Michael Bird writes Raison d’etre: 8 Ways to Excel at Brand Storytelling for SEO Copywriting.

Save more than $150 on the SEO Copywriting Certification while Heather’s away (through June 17, 2014) with coupon code CATSAWAY!

Photo thanks to Chi King.

Raison d'etre: 8 Ways to Excel at Brand Storytelling


From bedtime stories to a friend’s crazy weekend story to the greatest novels of all time, people love to hear stories. They want to connect to others and experience new or even familiar emotions through characters.

This is what brand storytelling is all about, making emotional connections with your consumers. These don’t always have to be sappy or heartfelt connections. Think back to the Snickers/Betty White Super Bowl ad of 2010. When you’re tired and hungry, a Snickers bar will take you from feeling like a 90-year-old woman to playing like a Super Bowl champion.

So how can you successfully use brand storytelling to connect with consumers? Follow the eight steps below and you’ll be on your way to building a better relationship with your customers.

1. Determine Your Purpose

determine your purpose

You don’t necessarily have to take a sabbatical in order to define your brand’s true purpose, but stop for a minute and consider something. What is it, at its most fundamental level, that your brand is trying to say? To figure this out, go back over your mission statement, your goals and your company’s history.

Your purpose may be something simple; “buy our product,” for example, but your mission is probably more complicated. Ask yourself what your company believes in and what separates your product from its competition. Are you a shoe company dedicated to manufacturing shoes with a blister-free guarantee? Or perhaps you make plastic bags and trash bags that are biodegradable and will decompose along with the trash inside.

2. Narrow Down Your Audience

This is the time to really get to know your demographics. Who is going to buy your product the most? Everyone does laundry and will need to buy detergent, but moms and dads with messy kids will still be the biggest sector of consumers.

Go over everything: age, race, income level, location. Find out who your audience is and what they value. Broke college kids and retired men and woman value a good deal. Parents need a detergent that will get grass stains out. How is your product going to help them solve a problem or maintain their values?

3. Analyze Your Budget

analyze your budget

Chances are you probably don’t have $4 million dollars lying around, so a Super Bowl commercial might not be in the works for you, but you should have enough money to pay a good team of writers and designers as well as fund any necessary raw materials.

Distribution might be free. After all, you don’t need to pay for an Instagram account, but you should look into other ways to reach consumers and decide what will work best for your demographic. This of course leads us into …

 4. Decide on How You Will Reach Your Audience 

Now that you know how much money can be used for this project, you can start looking for the best ways to reach your audience.

Play to your strengths. Clothes and accessory brands would probably do well with an Instagram photo spread or YouTube behind-the-scenes videos from a recent photo shoot. A company selling a new brand of boxed cake mix might want to consider doing a number of cooking segments on YouTube, showing off the many ways viewers can utilize their product.

Think social media. Think blogs. Think about how your audience is going to find your content, and make it easier for them to find it.

5. Recognize Gaps

Here is where you should look at other brand storytelling efforts from your competitors. Watch, read or listen to their storytelling, and see if you can pick out their mission and their goals. How are they motivating their audience to act in a certain way? How is their approach different from yours?

By viewing your competition, you should be able to see where you’re excelling and what still needs work. Head back to the drawing board to see if you have the same gaps in your storytelling.

6. Define What Success Looks Like

define success

Success can be measured in a variety of ways, and it’s essential that you set attainable, realistic goals for yourself. You might consider higher profit to be the end-all, but remember, marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Profits might not really begin to show for six months, maybe even a year.

Instead, define a plan based on your storytelling strategy that will help you see if your efforts will succeed. Track the number of downloads or how many people participated in an Instagram contest. How many times was your YouTube link shared on Facebook or Twitter? You won’t get much out of your storytelling if you don’t know how to tell success from failure.

7.  Get Comfortable with Failure


Sometimes even the best laid plans fall through. Even if you think you know your mission, purpose and audience like the back of your hand, some brand storytelling ideas just fall flat.

What’s really important is how you plan to recover. Go back over the whole process and try to see it with new eyes. Could the audience be redefined? You should be able to use the data you collected to determine success and failure in order to readjust your efforts and redirect them.

8. Plan ahead

Now that your message is out there, it cannot be recalled, un-posted or unseen. Every other piece of content that has your brand’s logo on it will need to reflect the values and goals that you have put forth. If you want to retain customers and build brand loyalty, then you have to continue to deliver on your brand’s mission.

You may not fully connect with your audience on the first try, but you won’t build any loyalty if you give up. If nothing else, ask yourself what speaks to you. If you can answer that, there’s hope for you yet.

About the Author

Michael Bird is Co-Founder and the Director of Digital Strategy at Social Garden, an Australian based Digital Marketing Agency specialising in social media community growth, content marketing and SEO. You can connect with Mike on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, or click here to check out his blog.

Don’t miss a thing! Sign up for the SEO Copywriting Buzz newsletter today!

SEO Copywriting Top 10: May 14 to 20, 2014

What do your links look like?

What do your links look like?

There’s much ado about links this week as Osanda Cooray runs you step-by-step through conducting a backlink analysis in Excel to improve your own site and to scope out the competition, and Elisa Gabbert gives you the expert scoop on link value.

You’ll also find conversion-rate boosters in Hayley Mullen’s science of CTAs and James Scherer’s landing page content techniques.

Have you encountered “the mullet master” client yet? Don’t miss Heather’s post on which clients you need to avoid!

1. Sally Ormond writes Writing Copy is Easy. Writing Great Copy is Tough for Freelance Copywriter’s Blog.

2. Melanie Davis writes How to Speak Like a Human (and Why It Matters) for Convince & Convert.

3. Tim Aldiss writes A prioritised web development & site migration SEO checklist for Econsultancy.

4. Hayley Mullen writes The Science of CTAs: 5 Things That Drive Conversions for Kapost Content Marketeer.

5. Ryan Farrell writes Build A Go-To Team That Can Conquer Any Content Marketing Challenge for Content Marketing Institute.

6. James Scherer writes How Adding Personality and Trust to Your Landing Pages can Maximize Conversion Rates for KISSmetrics.

7. Osanda Cooray writes Conduct a Backlink Profile Analysis with Excel (case study) for Social Media Today.

8. Martin Shervington writes How to Create a Google+ Community to Grow Your Business for Social Media Examiner.

9. Heather Lloyd-Martin writes 5 SEO Client Types to Avoid at All Costs for SEO Copywriting.

10. Elisa Gabbert writes The Future of PageRank: 13 Experts on the Dwindling Value of the Link for Search Engine Journal.

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Photo thanks to Irina Patrascu

SEO Copywriting Top 10: May 7 to 13, 2014

give content keys to customers

It might be time to hand the content keys over to your customers.

First, social media scared brands when consumers could share information about them publicly. Well, that’s old news.

Now, there’s a whole new fearsome trend – letting customers create content for you!

As Matt points out in the first post below, “Fan-generated content creation can yield big increases in the metrics marketers are most obsessed with: time on site, followers or page views, SEO, and bounce rates.”

It might be time to hand over them content keys, folks. Hey, you’re not selling ’em to random strangers from a van – they’re your beloved customers who love you and want to help. Mull it over while you read the post below.

1. Matt Myers writes Is It Time to Hand Consumers the Keys to Your Content Creation? for Content Marketing Institute.

2. Michael Iwasaki writes Google Finally Validates Why a Press Release Helps Your Online Exposure and, Potentially, Your Rankings for Social Media Today.

3. James Agate writes The World of Link Opportunities Beyond Bloggers for Moz.

4. Andrew J. Coate writes 75% of Your Future Content Marketing Team Is Already in the Building for Kapost Content Marketeer.

5. Sherice Jacob writes How to Plan Your Content Marketing Strategy Beyond the Blog (Part 1 of 2) for KISSmetrics.

6. Andrei Petrik writes 5 Untapped Sources of Keyword Ideas for Search Engine People.

7. Linda Dessau writes How to Create a Business Blogging Plan for Social Media Examiner.

8. Jayson DeMers writes How to Audit Your SEO & PPC Agency or Consultant for Search Engine Watch.

9. Heather Lloyd-Martin writes 20 Copywriting Blind Spots All Web Writers Should Avoid – SEO Copywriting for SEO Copywriting.

10. Henneke Duistermaat writes How to Rev Up Your Business Growth (Without Going Crazy) for Enchanting Marketing.

Start your freelance writing business off right! Take the Copywriting Business Bootcamp course – save $100 now with coupon code PROFIT until May 20!

Photo thanks to Mo Riza (Keys, we can make.)

20 Copywriting Blind Spots All Web Writers Should Avoid

What are your copywriting blind spots?

What are your copywriting blind spots?

Do you ever read a blog post and cringe? “I don’t know how they missed that,” you think. “It’s such an obvious mistake!”

The truth is, we all suffer from copywriting blind spots. We’re so close to our own writing that it’s hard to see the mistakes.

It’s important to get a handle on your blind spots, and do it fast. We may not see these boo-boos, but our readers will. Depending on the severity of the mistake, it can cost us (or our clients) readers or even sales.

Here are the most common blind spots that I see:

– The content doesn’t include any keyphrases. Sure, it’s good to “write naturally.” But that also means you’ll still need to conduct keyphrase research and place those keyphrases (and related synonyms) in the content. I still see copywriters guessing at what keyphrases are relevant to the page … with disastrous results.

– The content includes too many keyphrases. New SEO copywriters typically make this mistake. Your best way to check for keyphrase overuse is to read your copy out loud. You’ll be able to hear where you’ve overloaded your keyphrase usage and editing will be a snap.

– Ignoring the Title. Remember, the search engine results page is your first opportunity for conversion. Rather than [keyword] | [keyword] | [keyword], why not write something clickable and compelling instead?

– Focusing on “us” “we” and “our company.” The key is to tell prospective readers what’s in it for them. If your copy is peppered with company-centered content, rewrite it so it focuses more on the reader.

– Odd sentence fragments. Sure, using the occasional sentence fragment can be a cool copywriting technique. But only if you know how to use it well. Don’t write sentence fragments unless you are very sure you can pull them off.

– Repeating concepts. Ever talk to someone who says the same thing in five different ways? It drives you nuts, doesn’t it? It’s the same with your content writing. If you’ve said something once, you typically don’t need to repeat yourself.

– The subheads don’t make sense. The purpose of the subhead is to give the reader a preview of the following paragraph. If you write a subheadline about “saving money,” but the following paragraph is about “saving time,” you’ve created a copywriting disconnect.

– There are no subheads. Subheadlines allow readers to quick-scan your writing and decide if they want to go deeper. Plus, if your readers are on a mobile device, subheadlines make your content easier to read. Don’t forget about them.

– The subheadlines are benefit-free. If you are writing sales pages, benefit-rich subheadlines help your prospect quick-scan the page and immediately understand how you can help them.

– Hyperlinking the keyphrase every single time. Yes, once upon a time, this technique was OK (within reason.) Now, you’ll be walking a fine spam line if you do it. Mix up your hyperlink usage and only use them where they’ll make sense to the reader.

– Writing too much content. It’s important to ruthlessly edit yourself (or have someone else edit for you.) If you take 750 words when you could have used 500, you’ll lose the reader.

– Forgetting the call-to-action. Every page should have a call-to-action (for instance, reading another article, making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter). Don’t forget to tell the reader what you’d like them to do. If you don’t ask for it, they probably won’t do it.

– Writing endless, scrolling copy. There’s a lot of truth to TL;DR (too long; didn’t read.) If you tend to write long-form content all the time, ask yourself if you could split up the content into separate pages. Especially if the content is sales content.

– Writing “too short” content. Brevity is not always a good thing, especially if your copy doesn’t fully say what you need. If you find yourself writing 50-word product descriptions that are “just the facts,” consider if you need to beef up your content.

– Discussing features, not benefits. People don’t care about your state-of-the-art technology. What they want to know is how will your product or service help them. Features are nice, but benefit statements are what sell.

– Writing long, scrolling paragraphs. Long paragraphs are overwhelming and hard to read. When in doubt, split up your paragraphs into smaller, easier-to-digest chunks. Your readers will thank you for it.

– Ignoring your customer persona. How your copy sounds and how it’s written depends on your customer persona document. You’d write different content for a self-described “computer nerd,” than you would for a self-described “club-going player.” The more specific your content, the better your sales.

– Repeating words. If you’ve already used a word in a sentence, don’t repeat it in the same paragraph. Repeating the same word looks repetitive, and readers will catch the fact that you’re repeating the same words repetitively. :)

– Fluffy claims. Be careful of saying things like “everyone loves this product.”  There’s not a product on this earth that is universally loved by “everyone.” Fluffy claims will trip the readers B.S. meters and they’ll unconsciously distrust everything else they read from you. Instead, use specifics (like percentages) whenever possible.

And the top writing blind spot to avoid?

-Boring copy. Content doesn’t have to be boring (and yes, I’m looking at you, B2B companies!) After all, one of the easy ways you can differentiate your company is with customer-centered, engaging content. If your content doesn’t sing, it’s time to add some zing!

What copywriting blind spots would you add?

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Photo thanks: Nimish Gogri