Go Niche or Go Home! Today’s success path for freelance SEO copywriters

Focus on one niche for a success freelance SEO copywriting business.

Focus on one niche for a success freelance SEO copywriting business.

If you want to grow your SEO copywriting business in a MAJOR way — whether you’re brand new to SEO copywriting or you’ve been doing it for a while but you’re at a career crossroads — you’ll want to take the niche path.

This is the top recommendation of industry experts now, because the cluttered field of skilled and not-so-skilled SEO copywriters is making it harder for you to stand out and attract new clients. This approach has worked gangbusters for me since 2010.

So what does it mean to take the niche path?

It means choosing one industry or market you’ll “own.” For instance, you can claim your position in a particular field, such as the craft beer SEO copywriter, the green/eco products SEO copywriter, the wedding SEO copywriter, the accounting firm SEO copywriter and so forth.

Then you can position yourself in your specific niche industry by writing a helpful website, blog posts and other content that includes the keywords your prospects will use in searches: [industry] copywriter, [industry] marketing, [industry] SEO, [industry] web content, etc.

Once you stake your claim in a specific industry, magical things will happen.

First, you’ll be a superstar in a specific market that needs you instead of being “lumped” among dozens or even hundreds of professional SEO copywriters. Clients in your niche market will be THRILLED to find a skilled SEO copywriter who understands their business, prospects and language.

Next, potential clients will find you quickly in Google and other search engines. Picture how a potential client searches for a skilled SEO copywriter in their industry: they’ll type in “industry SEO copywriter,” right? If you’re well positioned in that industry — with a nicely optimized website and blog posts — you’ll do well in Google, Bing and other search results.

In addition, you can quickly build a reputation as the industry’s go-to SEO copywriter. Once you set up your niche position in Google+ (and link your content to your Google+ profile), your blog posts and articles will give you credibility as a smart and trusted resource. Of course, you need to make sure all your content is offering helpful SEO and marketing tips for your niche industry.

That’s just for starters. You can also build a solid reputation and business foundation by writing articles for your niche trade association, partnering with niche web developers and finding other ways to immerse yourself in that industry. You’ll soon find that clients are calling you for help!

Wondering how to find a thriving, profitable niche market for you? Try these clues from my AWAI articles as well as Copyblogger and Nick Usborne.

About the Author

Pam Foster on finding your SEO copywriting nichePam Foster is a senior content writer and web consultant who has worked in marketing communications for more than 30 years, with 13 of those years entirely devoted to the veterinary and pet industry. She has coached numerous veterinary practices, manufacturers and pet companies on how to make the most of their online marketing efforts. Her specialties include local marketing, web content, SEO, blogging and social media. She’s been a frequent speaker/teacher at industry events such as the NAVC Conference, BlogPaws and the LifeLearn webinar series. She has worked for IDEXX Laboratories, The Pet Health Network, DirectVet Marketing, LifeLearn, numerous practices and other small veterinary and pet businesses. Her mission is to help her clients thrive online.

Top photo thanks to Daniel Zedda (Darwin)

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Feeling the burn and seeking some balance

Overworked?

Overworked?

“Feel the burn!” If you hear this when you are working out, it is a good thing.

However, I have been feeling a different kind of burn lately. I’ve been:

  • Burning the candle at both ends.
  • Getting burned out.

I realized that I am about to crash and burn … and that’s not good.

Over the last six months, my life has gone through many ups and downs. Most recently, I shifted my copywriting business to an off-hours endeavor and started a 9-to-5 job (well 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) – mostly for financial security.

I chose a job outside of my field because I didn’t want to use all of my creative juices during the day and have nothing left for my own clients.

The good news: I’m not using all of my creativity during the day.

The bad news: I’m still burning myself out.

My new job has a rather long learning curve (which drives me crazy), and I’m still trying to hone my productivity so I can continue to meet my clients’ needs in the shortened amount of time that I have.

Of course, all of the pending projects that I had are now suddenly active.

Trying to survive a crazy schedule

On most weekdays, I leave my apartment by 8am (sometimes having done some work on my laptop before leaving); go to my day job; leave a little after 5 p.m.; drive to my office (maybe grab something to eat); and work for several more hours – many times until midnight or later.

I am trying to find balance, but right now that includes scheduling a social outing some nights … then coming home to work on my laptop. In the month that I have had my new job, I have come directly home from my day job maybe one time.

Overcome the online writing overwhelm monster

The other day I was preparing for a meeting with a prospective client, and I realized that I was going to crash and burn. By adding to my already overloaded workload, I was doing a disservice to my clients and myself. It was difficult, but I had to make the decision that I cannot take on new clients at this time.

My focus right now is taking care of the projects I already have and making sure my long-term clients are happy. And, I need to make sure I set up some real self-care foundations so I can overcome the overwhelm monster.

Are you setting boundaries?

You may not be working two jobs (or you might be), but most likely there are areas in your life where you are becoming a bit overwhelmed.

Are you taking on too many projects at work?

Do you have trouble saying “no” professionally and/or personally and take on more than you can handle?

Are you working from home while you try to run the household?

Don’t sabotage yourself.

I have already made the decision to not take new clients at this time, but I also have another goal for my schedule. I want to feel the burn again – in a good way. I am going to carve out a spot in my schedule for exercise. It makes me feel better and helps me focus.

Determine what is holding you back and find a way to change it. Even minor changes can make a big difference! Take some time this week to examine your life and find a place to make a positive change.

How to successfully launch your own freelance SEO copywriting business

Five posts on launching your own freelance copywriting business is featuredA couple months ago, I gathered a collection of Heather’s posts about surviving in the highly competitive SEO freelance copywriting business.

Today, I’ve selected a complementary set of Heather’s posts on how to start your own freelance business – beginning at the beginning.

These posts are a mashup of both video how-to’s and Heather’s regular Thursday posts. For those of you (like me, like Heather) who prefer to read content, rest assured that the video posts included are all accompanied by narrative text.

So without further prefacing, let’s get on with Heather’s best on how to successfully start and manage freelance copywriting business…

 

Plan for SuccessLaunching your freelance copywriting business: plan for success!

Preceded by how to: define a niche market, ask for a writing deposit, deal with writing revisions, stand firm by your rates, protect yourself with a contract (no matter the size of the gig), and hone in on the services to offer your clients, in this video post Heather gets down to the nitty-gritty of how to launch your freelance copywriting business – by making a smart plan.

 

 

Dive or Wade in?Should you dive or wade into a freelance copywriting business?

Wondering whether to just take the plunge in starting your new freelance copywriting business? Or would it be a better strategy to slowly wade in? In this final installment of her How to start an SEO copywriting business video posts, Heather outlines the pros and cons of each approach.

 

 

 

31 Questions for your client31 questions to ask your new copywriting client

Asking questions is the best way to get at the answers you need to write highly effective, targeted SEO content. Meaning, content that resonates with your clients’ prospects and succeeds with conversions. Think your list of 10 questions is a bit much? Try 31 – from reporting to marketing to process/procedure questions – to drill down to the details you need to generate great conversions-driving SEO copy that best helps your new client.

 

Sales Call Success7 tips for sales call success

So this is it: you’ve the questions you need to ask (above) and have scheduled a call with your perfect prospect. No worries: with these seven business-savvy tips from Heather (backed by her five confidence-boosting tips to help your prepare for prospect calls) you will close the deal. Easily.

 

 

 

 

How to raise your ratesHow to raise your freelance copywriting rates

Now that you’ve some momentum in your freelance copywriting business, and have (hopefully) accumulated some case studies and killer testimonials, you’re ready to ask for a raise. This can be a very uncomfortable and somewhat scary thing to do. Here, Heather outlines six things to consider if you’re thinking about raising your freelance copywriting rates.

 

photo thanks to Steven Depolo

Learn all you need to know about starting your own freelance copywriting business from 12 of the world’s leading experts! Check out the 6-week intensive SEO Copywriting Bootcamp today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handling your copywriting client’s feedback: 5 do’s & don’ts

Dealing with client feedback can be difficult, but you can minimize the painYou’ve done your homework. You’ve interviewed your client. You’ve painstakingly put together the first draft for some new web copy. And then comes the waiting game.

Sometimes you get feedback right away. Sometimes it takes a few days or even weeks. But when that email or copy review call comes around, it’s a critical moment in your relationship with your client and your reputation as a copywriter.

If you want to keep clients happy and maintain your integrity as a writer, you have to strike a balance. Here’s how.

1. Do research thoroughly.

You can avoid a lot of problems with feedback and reduce the rounds of edits by doing as much research as possible up front. Using a standard copywriting questionnaire for the start of each project can help, but be sure to review and reach out to the client if there are any misunderstandings.

Case in point, I received a questionnaire back from a client once and at first glance, everything looked okay. It wasn’t until later when I was working on the web copy that I realized they’d skipped several questions on their target audience. Without this, it was difficult for me to frame their benefits in the right light. Fortunately, there was still plenty of time in my project timeline to have a short call about their audience.

2. Don’t let the client squeeze out more rounds of edits.

The reason for having a questionnaire and documented process from the start is so the client knows what to expect during the project. Two rounds of edits and a final proofreading is the standard clause in all of our engagement letters, and you may want to adopt the same policy.  This way the clients know this from the start, and understand that anything above and beyond these two rounds of edits will be priced at a separate rate.

3. Do be respectful and listen to their feedback.

As difficult as it may be, the client is allowed to come back and say “This sucks.” You have the option of pushing back (see below), but if you handle this moment wrong, you could lose your reputation and possibly future work from this client.

If the client says that they don’t like it, get specific detailed feedback on which areas are not working for them. The first round of edits is going to be more intensive, so expect that. If they aren’t, push for feedback. It’s better to get it during the first round of edits then be hit with lots of feedback later on in the process that undoes all of your hard work.

4. Don’t be afraid to push back on specific portions of the copy.

Even though you should be respectful and listen (or read) feedback, don’t be afraid to push back on some of the edits if they aren’t making sense. Sometimes clients may have a big difference of opinion on what their web copy should say. In my experience, it’s normally of a matter of them wanting to focus on what they do (the features) instead of what they can do for clients (the benefits).

This is where your detailed web copy questionnaire can come in handy again. You can refer back to it and explain that your choices in writing were based on the information they provided: their target audience, their position in the market, their competitors. If this information is incomplete, you need to ask them to fill in the gaps for the next round of copy but stand by what you wrote based on the information provided.

5. Do develop a gut feeling for your style of great copy.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned as a web copywriter is that there are some things I am great at writing about and there are others that I really suck at. No matter how hard I’ve tried to write web copy for life coaches – it ends up being terrible. Those clients were never happy, and neither was I.

Don’t be afraid to turn down a project or refer it out to someone else if it doesn’t feel right. When you develop a good gut feeling for your own writing style and capabilities, you reduce the criticism of your work. You can take a look at a writing opportunity and instantly know whether or not you’ll be able to deliver your best.

What are your do’s and don’ts for the feedback part of the process? How have you learned to develop a thicker skin?

About the Author ~ Courtney Ramirez

Courtney Ramirez is the Director of Content Marketing Strategy for Endurance Marketing. She’s an SEO Copywriter and content marketing specialist who creates clickable content for clients in both B2B and B2C markets. As a proud graduate of SuccessWork’s SEO Copywriting Certification training program, she geeks out on algorithm updates and content marketing metrics. She’s always in the mood for a good cat-based meme. You can connect with Courtney on Google PlusLinkedIn or Twitter.

photo thanks to Rodger McCutcheon (Auckland Photo News)

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Taking my own advice…

Give yourself a writing break now and then!…and taking a break from writing.

This past week has given me a much-needed hiatus, allowing me to replenish the creative reservoir.

If you feel like you’ve been running on creative fumes, consider giving yourself a break. It doesn’t have to be a matter of weeks – and often that isn’t an option. But even giving yourself a few days away from the keyboard will allow room for new ideas, fresh perspectives, and unexpected sources of inspiration.

Try it! You’ll be glad you did.

Will be returning to my own keyboard next week – until then, take care and have a fantastic weekend!

 

3 steps to getting your in-depth articles ranked in Google search

Do you write in-depth articles? Here's how to get them ranked in Google search results.Google has recently introduced a new rich SERP element which highlights in-depth articles towards the bottom of the search results.

For content marketers and SEOs alike, this is fantastic news. Not only does this further emphasise the need for quality content, but also that if you apply the Schema.org Article markup, your in-depth articles stand a better chance of appearing in the SERPs for your relevant keywords.

The search giant has provided some information on how to make it easier for them to crawl and index your content, which increases the chance of you appearing in this block.

Here are three steps to make this happen!

1. Mark Up Your Pages With Schema.org

Schema mark-up is essentially a series of tags used by webmasters to optimise their HTML coding, assigning page elements and content with descriptions so that it is easier for search engines to understand and index them appropriately.

In order for your content to be found by Google and considered for in-depth article rankings, they will need to be marked up with the Schema code for articles. This can be done by adding the following code to your web page HTML:

<div itemscope itemtype=http://schema.org/Article>CONTENT GOES HERE</div>

Itemscope basically determines that everything within <div>…</div> is describing a particular item.

To give the search engines even more detail, you should add microdata to your HTML. Microdata is determined by ‘itemprop’ and refers to the page elements and content more specifically.

Here are the key parts of your page elements HTML that you will benefit from adding microdata to:

Headline – the title to your post

<h1 itemprop=”headline name”>Your headline</h1>

Alternative Headline – a secondary title or subtitle

<i itemprop=”alternativeHeadline”>A sub-headline here</i>

Image – the image(s) in your post, which will need to be crawlable and indexable by attaching suitable alt tags.

<img itemprop=”image” src=”image URL” alt=”Relevant alt tag describing the image”>

Description – A short description introducing the body of the content

<p itemprop=”description”>Your name explores the chosen subject</p>

Date Published – the published date of the article

<meta itemprop=”datePublished” content=”YEAR-MONTH-DAY”>PUBLISHED DATE</p>

Article Body – The content of the article

<p itemprop=”articleBody”>The body of your article here</p>

Don’t forget to close the HTML with </div> otherwise it will be not work correctly.

Adding more specific itemprop microdata will depend on what your content is about. For the full properties (i.e. all of the itemprop definitions you can use for your given topic), check out Organization of Schemas.

2. Connect Google+ Authorship

So you have marked up your pages with the correct Schema and microdata, now it’s time to set up Authorship and implement that into your markup too.

Whenever a piece of content goes live on your site, you should add the below link to the page, preferably in your author bio.

<a href=”[profile_url]?rel=author”>Your Name</a>

Where it says “Profile URL”, this takes us onto the next step.

If you do not already have a Google+ account, it’s time to sign up. Once you have set up an account and uploaded a headshot, add the URL of your profile page to the “profile_url” part of the rel=author tag. Then you will need to update the About page of your Google Plus profile.

Within the ‘Links’ box, you’ll see a ‘Contributor To’ section. Simply click ‘edit’ at the bottom of the ‘Links’ box, and click ‘Add custom link’. Add the URL of your article, or the blog you write for if you write multiple items.

3. Create Compelling In-Depth Content

Last but not least, you need to be creating the right kind of content. It’s all well and good adding Schema mark up, microdata and authorship, but if the body of your content is not up to scratch, you cannot compete against other articles.

For something to be “In-depth” you need to have a strong understanding of the subject matter, so make sure to do your research, and keep the information straightforward and relevant.

Getting individual articles just right will not be enough – currently the main sites appearing as “In-Depth Articles” are big brands, so reputation clearly comes into play too. This should change over time, giving lesser-known blogs and publications a chance to compete, but only if you are doing all you can to make it easy for Google to find you and your outstanding content.

About the AuthorBen Norman

Ben Norman is a leading UK SEO Expert with an extensive knowledge of search engine marketing. He regularly writes straightforward search related posts for his SEO blog. You can connect with Ben on Twitter via @Bennorman and on  Google+.

photo thanks to Steve Jurvetson

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5 essential business survival lessons for the freelance SEO content writer

Five of Heather Lloyd-Martin's top posts on the business of freelance SEO copyritingFrom time to time, Heather takes some time off. Yes. And we all need to do that now and then, right? If Heather has taught us anything, it’s that taking a writing break is good for us and for our freelance copywriting business.

The last time Heather took anything resembling a “real” break, I assembled a collection of her posts directed at freelance SEO copywriters. They were personal and served to encourage, inspire, and motivate. (You may recall “Write, play, live…”).

Today, I’ve selected another handful of Heather’s posts from the archives that I’m sure you’ll find every bit as helpful as when you first read them. (And if you haven’t been following Heather’s posts for very long, then you will want to go back and read even more of her stuff!)

The tenor of these posts has more to do with the business realities facing the freelance SEO content writer. Having walked that road for many a mile and back, Heather has a lot to offer in lessons, counsel, and plain business smart talk.

So take a moment to learn from one savvy freelance SEO copywriter and successful businesswoman, Heather Lloyd-Martin!

 

Are you putting your freelance biz at risk?Are you putting your freelance copywriting business at risk?

You may be the most brilliant writer on the planet, but if you don’t have a “head for business” your chances of succeeding as a freelance copywriter aren’t so good.

In this toughish-love post, Heather gives freelance copywriters this reality check: “If you don’t have the business side of your business tight and wired, you will fail.” And then lists some of the financial woes you will most likely face, before finally failing altogether.

Not a pretty picture – but here is where Heather shines, in giving freelance writers the “reality bites” information they need to know. Read up on 11 things to consider if you’re serious about running a freelance copywriting business.

 

When to walk awayWhen to walk away

Ouch. It looks like it may be time to end a client relationship. This is hard, even painful – especially if this is an original client, a client you’ve developed a friendship with, or a long-term client (and likely all three in one big owie).

How do you know if you’re doing the right thing, both for you and for your client? Heather outlines ten scenarios when it may be time to walk away – and an 11th scenario that may mean turning away a prospect (*gasp!*).

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-salted-peanuts-falling-out-blue-bowl-image12910883Quit getting paid peanuts: 10 tips for freelance writers

Find yourself scrambling to make those proverbial ends meet, and complaining about your “cheap” clients? If you’re burning the candle at both ends and simply not making enough money, then this is a wake-up call.

As Heather explains it in this other toughish-love post, it is not the fault of your freelance copywriting clients that you’re getting paid peanuts. It’s yours. No one is going to offer to pay you more than you ask – and it is up to you to show your value and charge accordingly.

Check out these 10 tips to reconcile your value with your paycheck! It really is up to you.

 

10 stupid business mistakes smart writers make10 stupid business mistakes smart writers make

Heather starts it off with “Are you fearful of a business #FAIL?”

Then she discusses 10 common business mistakes even the smartest of writers make, from missing deadlines to spacing out client invoices. Any of these seemingly minor mistakes can erode your chance of succeeding in the highly competitive freelance copywriting industry.

Although written in April of 2011, these freelance copywriting business mistakes are still happening all too frequently. Am I wrong? Check out the list and see which applies to you (be honest, now!) and figure out how to prevent it/them from sabotaging your business in the future!

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-transform-fear-action-concept-image29545056New SEO content writer? How to conquer fear and land clients

Lest we forget the brand spanking new SEO copywriter, here’s a giant “you got this!” booster – provided you can set aside fear and take some suggestions.

Heather lists six things the new freelance SEO content writer can do to get started and gather experience plus a portfolio. If you’re willing to follow her guidelines, then yes, you got this! (I know, cause I did) :)

I’m sure there are about 10 or more additional posts by Heather that I could have included in this collection, but I’m also sure I’ll find another occasion to gather them for you. In the meantime, have a fantastic weekend and we’ll see you Monday morning!

photo thanks to Paul Inkles

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On SEO & guest blogging: A smart talk with Ann Smarty

SEO ninja Ann Smarty discusses SEO and guest bloggingToday we’re pleased to share our chat with Ann Smarty, founder of MyBlogGuest and veteran SEO and internet marketing expert.

Here Ann discusses how MyBlogGuest works, her current passion for reviving Threadwatch, and her take on guest blogging for links.

You’re well known as the founder of MyBlogGuest. Could you share a bit as to how it works for freelance writers and blog owners?

MyBlogGuest.com was started as a simple forum with the only aim to connect people with one interest: guest blogging. I never intended to monetize it. It was just a fun idea quickly wrapped together with no budget behind it.

What happened next was a fun time of building the community, collecting the feedback and implementing it. In an effort to cover development costs we had to monetize it but the gist remained the same: We wanted people to meet and build relationships

Currently our features include:

  • Articles Gallery: A writer can upload his/her original guest article there for blog owners to come, preview and suggest their site to be its home. I think it’s a good tool for any blogger: Whenever they have too little time, leave on vacation, get a new job, etc., the Articles Gallery can be their source to support the blog. The Articles Gallery is 100% free from any money offers: We want the blog owners to only use the content if they love it! There should be no other incentive.
  • Infographics Gallery: The similar tool for infographics designers to find blog homes for their work. Together with the infographics we require an original text description to go with it. (My case study is here).
  • Articles Requests: A blog owner can leave a “request” for some specific guest article topic and authors can pitch ideas. The unique part of this feature is that ALL articles here are pre-moderated, so the blog owner gets an essentially edited piece of original content based on his/her specific requirements and topic. (Here’s a quick video).
  • Verified authorship: We comply with Google trends and encourage authors to verify the authorship of their guest posts (and thus digitally sign them). Blog owners may visit that section of “verified” content and allow established authors to guest post.

#1 Authorship example:Ann Smarty

 

 

 

 

#2 Authorship example:Ann Smarty

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are lots of other features including link tracking (for authors to be able to use a guest post elsewhere if the blog, for example ceased to exist), free Copyscape checks (to make sure all content is original), 24/7 moderation and support (thanks to our awesome team), follow-up reminders, free hand-picked and monthly updated “featured” requests lists, etc.

We still can’t stress the value of relationships enough!

Even with PRO membership I have always been saying: Pay for a couple of months, build some contacts with a bunch of bloggers and move on! Don’t use it as your only or main source of guest post opportunities. Go out and reach out to more bloggers, use MBG-powered connections to expand to “friends of your friends” circles, etc.

Lately there’s been some concern expressed by SEOs regarding Google’s warning about guest blogging for links. What’s your take on all this? Should this be a concern?

My main concern is the SEO community – people are too distracted and confused. SEOs just keep looking in the wrong direction!

I’ve said this before: Guest blogging for links has always been doomed. It’s simply not the way it should be used to work!

Instead of picking up to Googler’s work and inventing “red flags”, SEOs just need to grow up and make it work the right way, i.e., build a linkable asset (tool, whitepaper, great article, etc) and use guest blogging and social media to get an initial attention to it.

If you are doing your job right, you won’t have to keep writing guest posts just for the sake of gaining links: Links will start coming on their own!

If that’s how you are guest blogging, you will always be good! :)

You’re also very involved with the Threadwatch community. What is Threadwatch about?

Threadwatch is one of the oldest SEO communities. It’s been around since 2004! Then it was inactive for a while and Jim Boykin decided to revive it in January of this year. I happen to be Internet Marketing Ninjas’ community manager, so I was the one to oversee and manage the revival.

In my revival submission, I covered all the Google updates and news we had missed.

Since the re-birth we have redesigned it and added a couple of innovative features. One of the recently added is the “Marketing Conferences” page which enables users to mark conferences as “I am going to” and it will then be reflected in the calendar (as well as your user profile and on the conference page as well). Basically, it’s like a community-driven personal conference manager.

We are still undergoing the “beta” phase though: Looking for the “core” active members and editors who will create the “ultimate” voice of the resource and define its actual style.

Time will show but I would love to see Threadwatch to be the major resource of what is important in SEO and social. I don’t want it to be yet another list of “top lists”, you know. I want it to be the ultimate hub of in-depth SEO discussions: “Less noise, more signal” :)

But time will show… The community is organic in nature; you can’t always control it, so we’ll see where it goes!

You’ve been in the SEO and internet marketing profession for a considerable time now. What is your overall impression of the state of the SEO industry today?

I stopped counting years in SEO, to be honest. I’ve been involved long enough to understand that nothing essentially changes: Google is trying (and often failing) to find really quality content and SEOs are trying to “fake” it instead of actually trying to *build* it.

In the process, Google is getting more aggressive and SEOs are getting more sophisticated (instead of putting the same amount of energy into actually *building* it). Luckily, the SEO community is slowly but surely growing up and it’s been awesome to be part of that process!

About Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty is founder of MyBlogGuest, Branding and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas, co-founder of ViralContentBuzz and regular contributor to a number of top marketing resources. You can follow Ann on Twitter (@annsmarty and/or @seosmarty) and on Google+.

photo thanks to chrishusein

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Should you close your freelance copywriting business?

Should you close your freelance copywriting business?

Have you been thinking about closing your freelance copywriting business and working in-house instead?

Ouch. Talk about a difficult decision…

You may be thinking of closing up shop for a number of reasons:

– You aren’t hitting your financial goals, and you’re in debt (or heading that way.)

– You’re burned out and your heart isn’t in it anymore.

– You realize you could go farther, faster if you worked in-house.

– You’ve been offered a fantastic opportunity that’s too good to pass up.

I’ve gone through this myself. About 10 years ago, I was one fried woman. A number of huge life hits left me bruised and battered. I felt lonely, burned out and frustrated. Working in-house seemed like the perfect solution – it was a stable paycheck, and I could work with some great people.

(I lasted six months before I realized I made a mistake – but it was a great lesson.)

If you’re feeling this way, you are not alone. At all. I’ve talked to many freelance copywriters who dream about taking a “real job.”

But they don’t like to talk about it because they feel ashamed. Or, they may feel like they’ve failed or done something horribly wrong.

And that can’t be further from the truth.

There is no law that says you have to keep your business doors open forever. However, you’ll want to be very (very) sure that closing shop is the best thing for you.

If you’re facing this dilemma, here are some things you can do.

– Talk to someone. Don’t let this bottle up inside of you. You aren’t the first person to go through this, and you won’t be the last. It’s important to get this stuff OUT.

– Assess the core issue behind the urge to get a in-house copywriting job. Is it financial? Are you burned out? Are you tired of the self-employment stress?

– Be gentle with yourself. If you’re working 12-hour days, six days a week, of course you’re going to burn out.  Before you make a major leap, consider if you need a little self-care first. Once you’re stuck in burnout land, finding financial opportunities is challenging.

– Are your expectations realistic? Do you keep hearing about “six-figure copywriters” and wonder why you’re only making five figures your first year? Relax. Comparing yourself to others is a dangerous slippery slope.

– Ask yourself how you can improve the situation. Do you need business-building skills or a business mentor to help you with the financial aspects? If you’re feeling particularly stuck, chatting with someone can provide insights you may not figure out on your own.

– Consider creative solutions. Do you need a stable income? Some jobs will let you freelance part time. That way, you can keep your business, and still enjoy the security of a paycheck.

– Is the opportunity too good to pass up? Take it! Sure, you may not really want to take a “real job,” but some gigs are really cool…and ones you won’t be able to land as a freelancer.

As a side note:

Beware taking a job just for the money. No matter how many Benjamins an employer throws at you, you need to like the people, the company and what you’ll be doing. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with a high-paying job you hate (and you may not be able to exit easily.) Trust me. A little company research goes a long way…

Are you burned out and need some business-building help? I can help. Check out my Copywriting Business Bootcamp and learn how to increase your income without working so darn hard.

 

New SEO content writer? How to conquer fear and land clients

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-transform-fear-action-concept-image29545056Starting your career as a freelance SEO content writer is scary. 

You know you’re a good writer. You may have written some web copy for friends. Heck, you may even have a client or two – or you worked in-house.

“Dabbling” as a freelance SEO content writer is one thing. You’re testing the waters and seeing if you really want to continue.

But then there comes that “jumping off” point. That point where you say, “I want to turn this into a full-time business. What should I do next?”

That’s where the fear sets in.

Unfortunately, this is when smart SEO copywriters start making not-so-smart decisions. They get scattered. They get frustrated. And sometimes, they give up – long before they should.

If you’re new to the freelance SEO content writing business, here’s what to do:

 

– Write as much SEO content as you can. This sounds like a no-brainer tip, I know. But it’s amazing how many “newbie” SEO copywriters spend so much time on “book learning” that they forget that the only way to truly improve their craft is by writing.

One of the easiest ways to start is by building a blog. Write about “stuff” you enjoy and you’re passionate about. Practice setting up an editorial calendar. Learn how to research keyphrases and develop a keyphrase strategy. Don’t worry about screwing up – this is all for practice. Your own blog allows you to try and test different approaches. Then, you can take that new-found expertise and use it to wow your new clients.

– Study your butt off.  Yes, you’ll want to write every chance you get. But remember, “book learning” is still important. I’ve spent over 20 years learning how to craft persuasive content, and I’m still learning. Plus, if you don’t know the SEO content writing “rules” you’re putting your site – and your future clients’ site – at risk. Read books, blog posts (here’s a great list,) and take courses. When you learn something new, take that knowledge back to your blog and put it into practice.

– Volunteer your time. Don’t think of this as “giving away your time.” or “working for free.” Instead, consider this an “unpaid internship.” I’m willing to bet that your local not-for-profit would love your help (and be grateful for it, too.) Plus, you can use an opportunity like this to gain your first testimonial.

– Find an SEO copywriting mentor. Sometimes, you can offer to work with a Master SEO freelance copywriter as an intern. You may be working for free, but you’ll have someone checking your work, offering guidance and letting you work with different types of clients.

I’m going to chat about how to find a mentor in a future blog post. There’s definitely a way to “pitch” a possible mentor – and things to definitely avoid. Stay tuned!

– Work with small businesses. Local, small businesses rarely have the budget for full-on copywriting help – and they are incredibly grateful for any SEO writing help.

Your best bet is starting small. Create a monthly newsletter. Rewrite a couple pages of web content. Conduct keyphrase research. Offer to work for free or at a highly discounted rate. Great experience like this can gain you even more testimonials – even case studies (which are crucial for landing new clients!)

– Know your fear is normal – but it’s time to get over it. You will be rejected. You will have dark nights of the soul when you’d rather work at Starbucks than write another word. You will feel like you’re not good enough. There will be aspects of your business that are not so fun. We all go through it. Allow yourself time (like, 10 minutes – not an entire day) to freak out, bitch, moan and fear the unknown. Then, go out there and pitch your new client.

You’ve got this. Really!

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