Wondering What to Write About? Try This!

How many of you get stuck in the “what should I write about” trap?

::raising my hand::

Fortunately, there’s a simple way to create highly useful content that’s great for your readers.

Plus, Google LOVES this kind of content, and it even gives it special billing in the search results.

What’s the secret?

Answer common questions your readers ask every day.

Why is answering questions such a powerful content play?

Easy. Because your readers have questions. Shouldn’t your company be the one that answers them?

Think about it. How many times have you signed up for a newsletter after reading a particularly helpful blog post? Or, downloaded a white paper for more information? You may have even made a purchase.

Strong, question-oriented content can cause conversions.

For instance, let’s say you were planning a trip to San Diego with your family.

You’d probably start typing in question-oriented queries like:

[best time to visit San Diego]

[average San Diego temperature January]

[things to do in San Diego with kids]

You may not know exactly when you’d visit, what you’d do or where you’d stay. You’d just type your questions and explore the opportunities.

Now, imagine finding a San Diego hotel website with a great, “Explore San Diego with your kids” guide.

After reading the guide, wouldn’t you examine that hotel property more closely — even if you’ve never heard of it before?

You bet. You may even book a stay, too.

Providing helpful content wins the game.

(And yes, this is the same for B2B companies. Writing content that answers your prospects’ common questions is a smart move — and your prospects will appreciate it!)

Does this technique have any Google benefits?

Yes.

Remember my post about voice search? I gave folks a heads up that question-oriented queries written in a conversational tone is a smart move.

In fact, Google pulls out popular questions and features them at the top of the search results page. Clicking a question provides the “best” answer (as decided by Google) with a link to the source page.

 

What’s more, those featured snippet answers may turn into voice search responses, too.

How cool would it be if YOUR content was read back to you by Alexa, Google or Siri?

I don’t know about you, but I get gleeful goosebumps even thinking about it.

(Want to learn more about featured snippets? Check out this recent study by SEMrush. It even breaks down the average paragraph length for featured snippet content.)

How can you find question-oriented queries?

Easy!

Check out KeywordTool.io and Answer the Public. Both tools offer great, free data (and the dude on the Answer the Public home page always make me laugh.)

Reddit, Quora and specialized forums are chock-full of questions.

Many paid tools have a “questions” feature.

And don’t forget to ask the folks in the trenches — the people who answer customer/prospect questions every day. These people may include:

– Receptionists and administrative assistants

– Customer service team members

– The company’s owner, especially if the owner is also handling sales

– The inbound and outbound sales team

Ready? Go forth and start answering questions — and please let me know how it goes!

Do you have questions about answering questions?

Or, is there something else on your mind? Let me know in the comments!

Still Using Google’s Keyword Planner? Your Time May Be Up.

Cover Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

Over the years, I’ve joked that “Google giveth, and Google taketh away.”

Here we go again.

And this time, it may directly affect how you do business.

Here’s what’s happening…

The free ride is over

Years ago, Google’s Keyword Planner was considered a fairly viable keyphrase research tool. Accessing it was easy, the data was decent, and, most importantly, it was free. Sure, it was created for PPC ad research, but it (mostly) did the organic trick.

In fact, many writers (and even agencies) relied on Google’s Keyword Planner for all their organic keyphrase research.

Then, over the years, Google changed the game.

At first, you had to be logged into Google to use the tool. No big deal.

Then, you needed to create an AdWords account to access the tool. You didn’t have to spend money, but you did need to sign up.

Then, Google started to show search volume ranges rather than specific numbers (unless you were a major advertiser; then you got to see it all.)

Sure, search volume ranges made the data fairly worthless (especially compared to paid keyphrase research tools,) but some loyal folks stuck with it — probably because it was free.

Not anymore.

Good news: Google rebuilt the Keyword Planner from the ground up. Bad news: Google is deactivating all AdWords accounts with no active spend over the last 15 months.

What does this mean?

Photo by Nigel Tadyanehondo

If you’re not spending money with Google, you’ve been kicked off the Keyword Planner island. If you want back on, you have to reactivate your account, reinstate a PPC ad campaign — and yes, actually run it and pay money.

You don’t get to play with the latest and greatest Keyword Planner without paying (for a PPC campaign.)

Plus, Google is instituting the change this week. So, there’s virtually no warning.

How bad is this, really?

It depends.

Many companies and writers have dropped Keyword Planner in favor of another, more robust keyphrase research tool. This is a good thing.

However, if Keyword Planner has been your best keyphrase research buddy, it’s time to find another option — fast.  Check out tools like Keyword Finder, Moz, Ahrefs, and SEMrush. Try their free trials. See what feels the best to you.

Yes, these tools cost money. But look at it this way — you’ve been getting a free ride all these years. It’s time to see where a real keyphrase research tool will take you.

Once you roll around in all the juicy data a paid tool provides, you’ll never go back to free.

Besides, a good keyphrase research tool is just as important as your computer, your website, and everything else you need to run your business.

Photo by Kaizen Nguyễn

It’s time to take the plunge.

What do you think?

When I published this information in my weekly newsletter, the feedback was split down the middle. About half of my respondents were freaking out, and asking for my keyphrase research tool suggestions (here you go.) The rest said they stopped using Google’s Keyword Planner a long time ago, and enjoy the tasty data a paid keyphrase research tool provides.

How about you?

Are you shaking your fist at Google, cursing them for taking away yet another “useful” tool? Or, did you read this with Zen-like calm, knowing Google is … well … Google? Comment below and let me know!

What’s Your Copywriting Superpower?

Photo Credit

Have you seen the latest Marketing Profs 2018 Marketing Salary Guide?

The 2018 salaries for brand and agency content positions blew me away!

The forecasted salary range for a content strategist is $60,000 – $115,000.

A web copywriter? $47,000 – $104,000.

In fact, there was nothing under $40K a year.

Nice, eh?

This is great news for content writers like us. (Congratulations if you make this — or even more than this — now!)

But, what if you’re not making that kind of money?

It’s easy to look at salary surveys like this and think, “Everyone else is making way more money than I am. What’s wrong with me?”

I assure you that is NOT what’s going on.

In fact, after I wrote about this in my newsletter, I heard from many writers — both freelance and in-house — who ARE afraid of algorithms taking their jobs.

They’re floundering around, taking low-paying gigs, and suffering with slow-paying clients.

Maybe you feel the same way.

For instance…

A friend of mind was stressing out because she had a “feast or famine” business. When she was busy, she was too busy to think — but when things were quiet, she’d wake up at 3 a.m. and worry about money.

What’s funny is this woman is brilliant at product launches. She can write the emails. She can set up the back end. She can project manage the process. It’s a huge skill set.

The challenge is, she didn’t think of her skill set as a superpower. She didn’t realize she was charging way too little for the knowledge that was in her head.

Because that’s why clients pay you, you know. It’s because of your superpowers.

One SEO Copywriting Buzz reader summed this up beautifully when she responded to my “will machines take our writing jobs” email. Her note?

My copywriting superpower is being a CPA steeped in direct response. I don’t see my big clients looking to AI to write for them. They’re willing to pay me for what’s in my brain.

YES, YES, YES!

So, what’s your content writing superpower?

What do you do every day that seems easy to you — but, blows your clients’ or boss’ minds?

Do your blog posts get more likes than cute cat videos?

Do you have influencers at your fingertips, ready to help get the word out?

Can you write highly-technical content that only an engineer could understand?

Your superpower skill set is what propels you from, “I’m worried about money and clients don’t pay me enough,” to “I’m on vacation and I’m not taking on new clients right now.”

Knowing the value you bring to the table gives you the confidence to negotiate a much higher writing salary (plus, it allows you to work on the stuff you really find fun.)

It’s all about what’s in your brain. The information in your head is worth more than you know.

What do YOU think of the salary survey?

Is it inspirational? Depressing? Do you know your writing superpower, or are you still discovering your hidden talents? Leave a comment and let me know.

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Over 70 Percent of Top-Ten Sites Have This Characteristic

Quick: What’s a common characteristic of 70 percent (or more) of top-ten sites?

Is it a clickable Title?

Is it long-form content?

Nope. In fact, to borrow from Buzzfeed, “The answer will surprise you.”

The answer: site security.

Two recent studies show secure, https pages are locking up the top results.

Barry Schwartz reported that two sources — RankRanger and Mozcast — show over 70 percent of top-ten listings are https.

(For the record, RankRanger says 70 percent, and Mozcast’s chart shows 78 percent.)

(Graph from RickRanger)

(Graph from MozCast)

That’s a pretty huge percentage.

Google + https = LOVE

I know Valentine’s Day was a few weeks ago, but I can’t help but bring up Google’s love affair with https.

Google has been pushing https for a long time and incentivizing the switch.

For instance, starting this July, Chrome will flag http pages as “not secure.”

Just last week, Google’s John Mueller said that new sites should go with https from the start.

Plus, https sites supposedly receive a “slight rankings boost” in Google.

Google is making their intentions extremely clear.

What does this mean for your site?

I’d love to say, “Switch to https and receive an automatic rankings boost! Tell your clients! Tell your friends!”

But, I can’t.

It’s true that most of the sites in the top-ten results are https. That doesn’t mean that being a secure site is what boosted their rankings. They may have already been smart, top-positioned authority sites.

Correlation is not causation.

However, with ALL the reasons Google is giving us to switch to a secure site, doing so just makes sense.

If your clients ask, “Should we go secure?” The answer is yes. After all, do you want to see, “this site is not secure” on a webpage you wrote? Or lose out on the (possible) chance for a slightly better position?

Ugh.

And, if you haven’t switched to https for your own site, now is the time. Talk to your web designer or host — they’ll be able to help.

After all, if moving to https can (possibly) move the needle — why not take advantage of it?

Every little bit helps.

So, what’s going on with you?

Are you happy? Frustrated? Swamped with work? Trying to figure out your next steps? Or, are you frustrated with Google and wish they’d make things easy for a change? (I know, I know!) Leave a comment and let me know!

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Should Writers Care About Voice Search?

microphone

Do you feel like voice search is a fad, and people will eventually tire of their Alexas, Siris and Google Homes?

Admittedly, I’ll typically type a search query before saying it — even if Alexa and Siri are right there. Old habits die hard.

At the same time, I know this tide is quickly turning. Every day, more folks are turning to voice assistants to find the information they need. Heck, even my husband uses voice search (and he’s not an “early adopter” of technology.) 🙂

In fact, according to Google, 20% of mobile queries were via voice search — and that was in 2016. ComScore says voice search will make up 50% of queries by 2020.

So, what does voice search have to do with how you write content?

A lot.

First, let’s talk about what’s not going to work.

If you (or your company) is writing content like it’s 2011, you are going to get left in the dust.

I’ve talked about how “SEO articles” and posts that exact match the keyphrase every single time are bad for SEO and bad for readers.

Let’s face it — people expect more now.

Plus, here’s a surprising thing that may not work as well for some voice searches.

And that “thing” is longer, in-depth content pieces.

You know, the long-form content that’s all the rage right now.

Why? Because when someone asks a question like, “How do I hard boil an egg?” she’s not looking for the history of eggs, the many uses of eggs, and how eggs are stored around the world.

She just wants to know how to boil an egg. 🙂

I’m not saying stay away from long content. But, I am wondering how Google is going to handle question-focused content in the future — especially after reading this post that implies longer content isn’t always better.

What will work? Being human.

Gone are the days when we felt like SEO writing was robotic, stiff and dull.

If that’s how you feel about your writing, you’re doing it wrong (which is probably a wonderful thing to read.) Yes, you still need SEO writing skills, but you can finally take back your natural voice.

Content written in a conversational tone — especially content that answers frequently asked questions — will do well in mobile search (again, check out the article I referenced above for more information.)

That means delete the corporate-speak and “talk” to your customers on your site like you’d speak to them on the phone.

But, wait. Isn’t it too early to strategize for voice search?

Well, yes. And no.

Let me explain.

For all of the stats saying “voice search is growing,” there are others that discuss how frustrated users are with voice search. You’ve probably experienced this yourself if you try to ask Alexa a question she’s not prepared to answer. If you’re like me, you end up swearing at Alexa and typing your question into good old Google.

In many cases, the technology isn’t quite there for voice search.

In fact, a 2017 study by Seer Interactive found that just 8 percent of users searched the internet daily via voice search.

Seer Interactive voice search statistics

Their recommendation was to “watch and wait.” Which makes sense. I wouldn’t create an entire SEO content strategy around possible voice search implications. That wouldn’t have the desired ROI.

Yet, the opportunist in me think voice search is going to be huge. Siri will be less annoying and more our gateway to instant answers.

Why not get your mind right for when the time comes (as the Seer Interactive article suggests) and prepare for our new voice-enabled overlords?

What are some of the opportunities?

If you’re a freelancer, this is your time.

Think about it: how many companies have websites written in a conversational, friendly tone? How many companies have done a good job creating content that answers common long-tail questions?

(Yeah, not many.)

And, how many sites still show “old school” SEO writing where the main search term is exact-matched multiple times at the expense of synonyms and related words?

You can help those companies find their conversational brand voice AND optimize the copy. You could even develop a strategy for fixing their old, bad content.

How cool is that?

In-house writers have opportunities, too. Make a list of your customers’ common questions and ask Alexa/Siri/Google Home for their answer. You may not get an answer for some queries —  yet. The important thing is to watch the trends and learn from the data.

(And, if you haven’t already, create blog posts or FAQ pages that answers those common questions. Writing these kind of pages is always a smart strategy.)

Knowing how to write for Google’s Answer Box is also key. This post by BrightLocal discusses how optimizing for voice search can also help you gain the coveted “position zero.”  There’s nothing like being on the very top of the search results… 🙂

fun things to do in portland at night

What do you think?

Is your company tackling voice search? Are you looking forward to writing content for our new voice search overlords? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Is Content Syndication Spammy?

Imagine this…

The editor of a popular site emails you and says, “I love your work! Can we syndicate your content on our site?”

What should you do?

Celebrate and do the deal right then? After all, syndicating your content puts your writing in front of a brand new audience. One already-written post could result in massive site traffic.

Or, tell her that Google wouldn’t approve of two sites with the same post?

First, let’s define content syndication and discuss what it is…and what it’s not.

According to Search Engine Watch, content syndication is, “the process of pushing your blog post, article, video or any piece of web-based content out to other third-parties who will then republish it on their own sites.”

As an content syndication example, I write for a site called Biznology. Whenever I write a new post for them, it’s syndicated to sites such as Business Insider.

But, is this an OK practice? After all, online forums detail some scary syndication scenarios…

…Google may flag your post as duplicate content (aka, spam.)

…The other site that’s syndicating your content may position for your content instead of your site.

…Google’s Larry Page may tie you up and march you through the streets, while your neighbors throw garbage and chant “Shame. Shame.”

Seriously, this won’t happen.

You don’t want to spam Google, but you also want your posts to get maximum exposure.

What should you do?

Finally. Some good news

Good news — we don’t need to worry about the first and third possibilities. Google engineers understand content syndication, and they don’t consider syndicated posts duplicate content.

Nor will syndicating your content cause the Google gods to come after your site. Larry Page will not march you through the street. You will not have garbage thrown at your head.

In today’s Brave New Google World, syndication is a non-issue.

BUT (because there’s always a but…)

Here’s the problem.

When it comes to content syndication, Google may not choose the original site as the “primary” authority. Yes, even if you wrote the article months ago, and Google has already indexed it.

Which means other sites can out-position yours for your own content.

Ouch.

Fortunately, there’s a signal you can give Google that says, “Hey, even if there’s another similar post out there, THIS post (meaning the post on your site) is the post to index.”

Ideally, the site syndicating your content places the rel=canonical tag on the page with your article, with the tag pointing back to the original article on your site.

This tells Google, “We’re republishing the original article, which you can find HERE.”

The result? Your site (should) stay the primary authority for the post (meaning, appear in search results) and you can freely syndicate your content.

This gives you a great best-of-both-worlds situation. You can expand your content’s reach, while still protecting your search positions.

Pretty cool, eh?

Want more details? Here’s some additional information about content syndication, plus Google’s take on canonical URLs. Enjoy!

What do you think?

Do you syndicate your content now? Do you plan to, now that you know it’s A-OK to do? Let me know in the comments!

 

What’s the Best Keyword Research Tool to Use?

What's the best keyword research tool to use

Are you looking for the best keyword research tool out there — but there are too many confusing options?

You’re not alone.

A popular thread in the SEO Copywriting LinkedIn group is “what’s your favorite keyphrase research tool?” People recommended 11 different tools, ranging in price from free (if you’re willing to forgo search volume information) to around $100 a month.

What’s more, there are way more than 11 keyphrase research tools on the market – so, is it any wonder it’s hard to find the best one for you?

Trying to make a choice? Here are some things to think about:

What’s your budget?

The reality is, you can’t conduct keyphrase research for free — especially if you’re working with more competitive industries. Consider what you can pay as a monthly (or yearly) cost, figuring you’ll need at least $50 a month for something decent.

If you have zero room to move, start increasing prices $25 or more a month to cover your keyphrase research costs. The cost shouldn’t be enough to freak out your clients, and it should mostly (or completely) pay for the tools you need.

Do you need the basics or all the bells and whistles?

Some keyphrase research tools just provide keyword data (such as KeywordTool.io.) Other tools are more robust and provide positioning information, competitive intelligence and site audit capabilities (like SEMrush.)

If you don’t need the bells and whistles, and you focus mostly on blogging/web content writing, save yourself some money and look for a basic platform. You can upgrade later.

If you’re helping clients with their content strategy, running content site audits and working with larger clients, a more robust tool will be your best friend. Yes, they cost more (Moz Pro, for example, is $99/month, paid monthly.) But, they will make it easy for you to find the competitive data you need more quickly.

Is it a platform you enjoy using?

Most keyphrase research tools give you a free trial, whether it’s a limited freemium account, or a 7-day free deal (sometimes, you can even find 30-day trials!). In many cases, you’ll have to give up your credit card information. It’s worth it.

The last thing you want to do is get stuck with a keyphrase research tool you hate using. Check out a few platforms and get a feel for the process. Is it easy to use? Is the data easy to find and understand? Does it provide all the data you need — or, does it confuse you with “too much” data? The best keyword research tool is the one you enjoy using.

Is the price too good to be true?

Beware of inexpensive tools that say they’re “just as good” as a more robust alternative. These tools may provide basically the same information as Google’s Keyword Planner, just in a different package. (Side note: I beg of you. Don’t use Google’s Keyword Planner for keyphrase research. Please.)

You’re looking for companies with high-quality databases, not one with a limited data set that won’t give you the information you need.  To be sure about your choice, ask yourself…

Do other experts recommend the platform?

Search experts love test-driving (and recommending) good SEO tools. If you see experts recommending the same tool, it’s definitely one to check out. On the flip side, if a company’s testimonials are sketchy-sounding, like from “Bob S. site designer,” you may want to investigate further before typing in your credit card number.

(And yes, good, low-cost (and even free) keyphrase research tools is a topic I cover in the SEO Content Writing: Step-by-Step course.)

What keyword research tools did the LinkedIn group recommend?

Good question.

Here’s the list of recommended keyword research tools. Starred entries (*) are better for content brainstorming than finding search volume information.

*KeywordTool.io (free) KeywordTool PRO does provide search volume information.

SEMrush

Keyword Finder

LongTail Pro

SE Cockpit

*Answer the Public

SerpStat

Amazon reviews (as one poster called them, “keywords straight from the prospect’s mouth!”)

SpyFu

Quora (to see your audiences’ pain points based on their queries.)

Moz

What about you?

What’s your favorite keyword research tool? Share it in the comments!

Win a Webinar Spot with a #SEOCopyHaiku

Here’s a fun game to play — and your answer may land you a free spot in my upcoming SEO Content Writing:Step-by-Step webinar series starting September 19th.

You know I like writing haiku, right? I even wrote 14 SEO writing tips in haiku (check out this blog post for the geeky goodness.)

Now, it’s your turn.

Tweet me your SEO writing haiku (@heatherlloyd) and tag it on Twitter with #SEOCopyHaiku. You can write about keyphrases, your frustration with Google, learning the SEO writing ropes — whatever you want! The choice is yours!

I’ll choose my favorite one on September 6th (yes, after the Labor Day holiday) and announce the winner. Bonus points for making me laugh. For example, Craig from StrayGoat Writing Services, Ltd. submitted this gem:

Google you bastard
Hurry up and index page
Client impatient

As a quick refresher, haiku poems have three lines. The first and third lines have five syllables, and the second line has seven. I’ve included another example below.

Ready, set, GO!

Have fun!
Heather

52 Questions to Ask Your New Copywriting Client [Updated for 2017]

Anyone who knows me knows that I tend to ask a lot of questions….

Why? Because that’s how I learn.

When you’re onboarding a new copywriting client — whether you work for yourself, or an agency — asking lots of question is the key to success.

Sure, that means that you’ll be spending an hour (or more) on the phone. But just as you wouldn’t enter a marriage without a pretty solid “getting to know you” process, you shouldn’t start writing without a solid customer interview under your belt.

After all, how can you write specific, action-oriented content if you don’t have any specific information?

Here are 52 of my favorite questions to ask a new copywriting client – enjoy!

Important: Ask these questions after your client has signed on the bottom line. Although you may touch on some of these topics during the sales phase, it’s best to save the “meat” of your questions for the kick-off client call.

Reporting/set-up questions

  1. Can I review your analytics?
  2. Do you have any customer persona documents? Can I see them?
  3. Do you have a style guide?
  4. Can I see reports outlining your SEO/content marketing success, to date?
  5. How do we measure success? Conversions? Page positions? Social media love?
  6. Which social media platforms are working for you?
  7. What is your per-page keyphrase strategy?
  8. How did you arrive at your keyphrase choices?
  9. Do you need me to create the strategy and research the keyphrases?
  10. How important is it for you to position for a particular keyphrase? If it is a competitive keyphrase, are you prepared to spend the time (and budget) to make this happen?
  11. What’s your one thing that drives most of your current content marketing success?
  12. What tools/platforms do you use (SEMrush? BuzzSumo? Trello?)

Marketing questions

  1. Who is your online competition? Why would you consider them “competition?”
  2. What is your unique sales proposition?
  3. Why should a prospect purchase from you rather than your competition?
  4. What are your company benefit statements?
  5. What content approach has worked in the past?
  6. What has not worked?
  7. Do you like your site’s “voice?” (how it reads and sounds.)
  8. If not, what’s an example of what you would prefer?
  9. How do you follow up with prospects?
  10. How do you follow up with current clients?
  11. Can I see your other marketing materials (autoresponder emails, print materials, etc.)
  12. Are there any keyphrases that you’re not currently positioning for, and you want to gain a stronger position?
  13. How do you currently promote new content (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)
  14. Who is your “perfect customer (s)”?
  15. What benefit statements are important to those customers?
  16. What customer profile would not be a good fit for your business?
  17. Can I review your customer testimonials (or better yet, can I chat with a few of your happy clients?).
  18. Has your company won any awards? Can I see the documentation?
  19. What are the most common questions that customer service answers? How do they answer them?
  20. Can I talk to your best salesperson to get his/her perspective?
  21. What are the most common objections to overcome?
  22. Has your product/service been featured in a book, endorsed by an organization, etc.
  23. What primary action do you want readers to take?
  24. Is there a secondary CTA?
  25. What is your biggest sales “sticking point” right now?
  26. How will the content be promoted?
  27. What is your influencer outreach strategy?
  28. Is there anything you’ve wanted to try (for instance, white papers,) but you haven’t had the time?

Process/procedure questions

  1. Who else will I be working with (for instance, an external SEO company.)
  2. Who is my main point of contact?
  3. What is the expected content turnaround time?
  4. Who will review the content?
  5. How long does content approval take?
  6. How would you like me to send you the content? For instance, in a Word document?
  7. How often would you like to receive project updates?
  8. How will I know if the content is working? Will I have continued access to your analytics?
  9. How is the editorial calendar created and who is on the editorial calendar team?
  10. How often do you deviate from the editorial calendar?
  11. How often do “quick turnaround” posts happen?
  12. Are there any content structure/wording no-no’s I should be aware of (for instance, not using the word “cheap” in the content.)

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Quit Obsessing Over Your Freelance Writing Niche. Do This, Instead.

Right this minute, someone out there is wondering, “how can I find my perfect freelance writing niche?”

(Maybe even you.)

I receive heart-wrenching letters every week from writers trying to find their true path. These folks have heard they need to “find a niche” — and that’s where they get stuck.

Because people aren’t focused on finding a niche. They want to find THE niche. The one thing they should do that will be fun and satisfying and most lucrative and feel almost effortless.

And, let’s face it, there are a lot of people selling their “best writing niche” ideas. You can buy training courses on how to write for small business owners, how to write B2B copy and how to write white papers that sell for 10K a pop.

There are books and blogs and webinars, all screaming the same tune. THIS IS THE FUTURE! LEARN THIS NOW! YOU’LL MAKE SO MUCH MONEY!

It gets confusing.

So, people go from blog post to blog post, and purchase training course after training course, trying to find that one thing.

That one copywriting niche that makes their life complete.

via GIPHY

In the meantime, they don’t write. They don’t start anything. They’re…stuck.

(Feel familiar?)

If this sounds like you, I want you to stop and take a deep breath.

It’s OK you haven’t found THE copywriting niche for you.

Why?

Because there’s more than just one niche for you out there. Good, profitable, fun niches.

Your job isn’t to pick THE niche. Just A niche.

Let’s talk about how to do that.

It all starts with high school…

Remember taking career aptitude tests way back in high school? They were a way to supposedly tell us what we should be when we grew up.

There was all this emphasis on “what are you doing after high school” and “what will you major in?” At the tender age of 18, we were supposed to have our lives figured out for us. Many of us dutifully went to college, chose a major and made a future career choice. Mine was “psychologist.”

Did I know anything about my career choice, other than I would have to go to graduate school? Not really. But, I had to choose something…right?

Let’s face it: most of us had no idea what we were doing back then. The only exception I know is my high school boyfriend. He wanted to be an accountant like his dad, and he worked his way up to a Big Six accounting firm. He’s done well.

The rest of us, well, we’ve bumbled around some. I’ve owned a video store and art house theater, worked as a secretary, worked as a recruiter, dabbled in marketing for a plate freezer company and even tried my hand at accounting. I discovered the world of writing and SEO in my 30’s.

Chances are, you’ve lived a similar job trajectory. You’ve tried different things and stayed with some more than others. Maybe you’ve been in the same profession for awhile, but, there was a time when your career choices were more flexible.

News flash: Finding our copywriting niche takes a lot of fumbling around. It’s learning what you like, what you don’t, and how you best work.

You may be one of those rare folks who know exactly who you want to work with, and what you want to offer (if so, I envy you!). But, most folks need to circle around and get cozy before committing.

via GIPHY

What’s more, you have the aptitude for multiple niches inside of you! I’m not talking so-so niches, either, I mean good, meaty, fun and profitable niches.

Just like we can look back at our high school selves and say, “How can anyone be expected to choose a career at 18 years old?” we should give our current selves the same compassion.

How can anyone be expected to choose the one true freelance writing niche for them when they are first starting out?

But wait…don’t you have to start somewhere?

Yes. Here’s how

I got this idea from reading Designing Your Life. The authors, both Stanford professors, discuss how there’s not one true “perfect job.” Instead of focusing on finding THE job, the authors recommend prototyping out three job alternatives and choosing the best one.

That way, you get to design the job (and life) that works for you today — and you know how to focus your efforts.

(I highly recommend reading the book if you’re stuck and need direction. The book goes in-depth about how to prototype your career choices, the importance of a workview, and more.)

Think about the author’s advice in terms of choosing a niche. There’s a remarkable amount of freedom in knowing there’s not ONE niche for you. Your career (and interests) will naturally flow from one thing to another. Opportunities will pop up. Clients will come and go.

Your “job,” right now, is to think about three possible niches that sound fun. To you. Not what makes a “10 best freelance writing niches” list. Or, what your favorite mentor copywriter is pushing.

Just pick three writing niches you would enjoy. No pressure. No judgment. It’s all up to you.

Research your niches for three months or so. Check out the freelance copywriting competition. Look for possible clients. Break down the pros and cons. For instance, small business owners may be your passion — but they typically don’t have much money to spend. You may be fine taking on more clients so you can help small business owners. Or, you may want to work less and make more.

Pretend you’ve made a choice and live one day as an “industrial B2B copywriter,” or a “health and wellness freelance writer.” Or, you can choose to be the “newsletter maven,” and market your business to all businesses, big and small. How does it feel?

You’ll often learn everything you need to know just by noticing how you feel.

via GIPHY

The important thing is to take action every day — however small — towards researching your freelance writing niche. You may not feel that “checking out blog posts” is helping you accomplish your goals. However, even the smallest action steps put you that much closer to making a decision.

Once you’ve made a decision, commit to it for at least six months. You may have regrets and doubts and want to second-guess yourself. That’s normal. Know that you’ve done the research and you’ve evaluated the options. Worst-case scenario — you dump choice A for choice B after six months and go for a different target audience.

It’s OK. This is your life and your business. Many business owners (and companies) reinvent themselves and pivot in a slightly different direction. You can, too.

So, quit worrying about THE perfect freelance writing niche for you. You have many perfect niches inside you.

Just. Start. Your. Business. Already.

It’s time.

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