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7 Winning Blog Promotion Tips from The Social Media Hat’s Mike Allton

bullhorn_by_lemasneyIf you’re not already familiar with Mike Allton, there’s no better time to get to know him.

Mike is the CMO for SiteSell and lead “Content Marketing Practitioner” at The Social Media Hat, which only last week was voted one of the top ten social media blogs to follow in 2016 by Social Media Examiner.

For our part, we featured his article on blog promotion in the second of our series about conversions-driving content. In fact, so impressed we were with Mike’s guide – and The Social Media Hat blog – that we asked him if he’d agree to share his expertise with us.

Here, Mike offers his insights into strategies and platforms for promoting your blog, as well as for building your business with blog content.

Enjoy!

Before we delve into questions about blog promotion, would you briefly share with us why you refer to yourself as a “Content Marketing Practitioner”?

Sure! While many businesses will use content marketing as an approach to reach and educate their audience, I don’t just use content marketing. I teach it. Experiment with it. Study new tools and techniques. Therefore, I’ve come to refer to myself as a practitioner, someone who is constantly learning and evolving in the study and use of content marketing, and sharing the results with my audience.

That evolution in my thinking has been mirrored in my writing, as I’ve worked to provide more and more detailed articles that reflect my own experiments and findings.

Your relatively recent article on blog promotion describes your most thorough social media sharing process. What would you recommend as an absolute minimum, core promotion strategy?

That’s a great question. At a minimum, every business needs to have at least one social profile and an invitation for site visitors to subscribe to their email list, so that new content can be promoted to at least one social platform and email list. And of course on the content itself, visitors should be able to easily share it to whichever platforms and networks they’re active on, regardless of which network the business selects.

So you begin to drive traffic to your site through a social channel and email marketing, and you allow your readers and prospects to share to other networks, increasing your content’s reach.

Of all the social media platforms you leverage for blog promotion, you clearly favor Google+.  Could you share with us why you prefer it to the other main social networks?

First, let me say that my preference is a personal one. While there are reasons why I enjoy Google+ so much, that’s not to say that other businesses can’t find equal or greater success on different platforms. That truly depends on the business and target audience.

For myself, I found Google+ to be a refreshing place to connect with and engage with my peers. That’s not just lip service. It’s been truly amazing to grow relationships with fantastic people who have helped me and my business tremendously.

Based purely on referral traffic, Twitter is currently my top social platform, yet Google+ remains my favorite, and where I spend the most quality time. That further illustrates to me how important it is for businesses to have a presence on multiple networks, and to develop an understanding how each platform fits into their overall marketing and business plan.

Besides Google+, you’re also a strong proponent of Twitter. How effective is Twitter for blog promotion, relative to the other main social media platforms? 

Twitter is one of the best platforms for blog promotion overall, at least in my own niche and experience. There are far more tools available to help with sharing and resharing, connecting with your targeted audience, and analyzing the success of your efforts.

That said, it’s all about your audience. If you’re targeting a demographic largely comprised of work-at-home moms, you’ll likely find that Pinterest is your best choice, followed by Facebook. Every blogger and business must do their own research and analysis to determine where their audience is active and approachable, and then develop ways to become organically part of their conversations.

There’s been a lot of discussion around Twitter expanding its character count. What do you think about it? Do you subscribe to the argument that it may “ruin” the platform?

Nope. I generally have a more open view when it comes to platform changes and development. Facebook’s newsfeed changes. Google+ going back into beta. Twitter expanding character counts… other than the occasional brief annoyance at losing a feature I found personally valuable (i.e. Google+ Ripples), I recognize the fact that platforms need to change and develop for a variety of user and business reasons. Those reasons sometimes won’t be immediately understood or universally accepted.

But with rare exception, I find it extremely unlikely that any modification to an existing platform could ruin it. A platform used by hundreds of millions of people around the world every month doesn’t fall out of favor overnight. It takes time and generally a series of poor decisions.

What are your thoughts about syndicating content on LinkedIn to increase its reach? 

Personally, I think it’s a great idea, but tend to avoid actual syndication too often. I prefer to push visitors to my original content on my own website, and instead like to use those platforms for original content.

However, as with everything else in digital marketing, opinions can and should easily change with exceptional testing and analysis. This topic, specifically, is one I plan to test this year. However, measurement of success is going to be elusive. As Mark Schaefer has pointed out, it’s next to impossible to measure how much visibility your content gets when it’s published on external properties.

You mention that you use Pinterest (even though your content, as a rule, is primarily text-based). Does it drive significant traffic to your blog?

Pinterest is great for bloggers. And the more niche and specific you can get with your content, the better platforms like Pinterest may prove to be for you.

And while I don’t create a lot of image content, I do make sure that I have at least one branded, feature image for each and every blog post. And for those articles that are more important to me (for any number of reasons), I’ll take the time to create an image specifically for Pinterest (900 x 1100). I’ve added a custom, hidden field to my new blog post form so that I can upload a Pinterest image that the share buttons will see so that anyone can pin it.

What would you say is the more effective blog promotion strategy overall: email or social media?

Email.

Social media is outstanding for creating and developing relationships, and it’s a necessary step toward moving interested people into your email marketing.

But let’s do some basic math here:

Let’s say you’re a small business who has been working on their marketing for 6 months. You’ve created a nice lead generation resource to collect email addresses, which you’ve shared to social media and other distribution channels routinely. With all of the other content you’ve created and your marketing efforts, you’ve built up 1,000 Facebook Page fans and 1,000 email list subscribers.

The average open rate for email marketing is about 18%, with an average click rate of 1.8%, which means that out of 1,000 email subscribers, 180 will likely open the email and 18 will click through to your latest blog post.

Share the same blog post to your Facebook Page and your post will see the typical “Organic Reach” on Facebook which is about 2%. Click rates vary from 0.22% to 2% depending on the page and audience. But no matter how you slice it, it’s likely that a mere 20 of your fans will see that post, and probably half of them will click through.

Facebook is brilliant for reaching a targeted audience in a number of ways, not the least of which is paid advertising, which is the most cost effective in the world. But for promoting a blog post, email is clearly more effective.

What are the top strategies you’d recommend for building a business using blog content?

You’ll read dozens and dozens of different ideas on how to use and promote blog posts to build and promote a business. But there are two things in particular that you can do that are far more effective than anything else.

First, you have to create long-form content. That means really long blog posts… at least 1,500 words, and preferably more than 2,500. Sound like a lot? It is, but don’t let that scare you. You don’t have to write that much every week. In fact, most successful businesses will create one of these posts, what I call a “Pillar Post”,  per quarter on average.

The pillar post isn’t just long, of course, that’s just a byproduct. It’s long because it extensively and exhaustively covers a topic of particular relevance to the business, and of interest to the target audience. It has to be something that thoroughly answers a question, yet is positioned so that it’s likely readers will want more information or assistance even after they’ve read it all.

These kinds of extensive posts get exponentially more shares than shorter posts, and that helps drive traffic which increases the already high ranking factor, bringing even more organic search traffic. Those visitors are just as compelled to share the post, thus continuing to feed the process.

The post should, of course, have a strong call to action for readers to proceed to the next logical step (call you, read about your services, another article, whatever).

But here’s where the second top strategy kicks in.

With a post like this, let’s assume it’s 5,000 words about how to do something integral to your niche. That’s a long post, and would make for a great PDF download. You can put the entire article on your site, and then let interested readers grab a PDF copy for reference. Better yet, come up with a supplemental resource, like a checklist, that boils the topic down into a one-pager and make that available.

To get the digital download, they just complete an email subscribe form on your article and you set it up to auto respond with a link to download. They’re then part of your email marketing (which is an entire topic for discussion another day… how to leverage email automation to create a series of emails, regular newsletters, and more, to lead prospects down a sales funnel).

There are many other tactics and strategies for building and using blog content, and a lot can stem out of these two. So start there!

Connect with Mike on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+

Image thanks: ID 160597642 © lemasney / deviantart.com

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

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

Learn how you can make more money as a freelance writer without working so darn hard! Look into the Freelance Copywriting Business Boot Camp – today!

The do’s & don’ts of partnering with other web content providers

Thinking of partnering up with another web content provider? Consider these tips from the trenches.I took a big step this week for my company – I closed its virtual doors.

But I’m far from being out of business. I’ve decided to focus on content marketing clients who are also working with a marketing company for complementary services like social media and inbound marketing strategy.

Working with partners – whether formal or informal – has helped me reach new levels in my business. And it can do the same thing for yours too. But you need to be careful you aren’t compromising yourself, your ethics, or your sanity when you strike up a partnership.

Here are some of the do’s and don’ts that I wish I’d had when I first started working with partners.

DO look for complimentary partners for your SEO copywriting services.

Fortunately, we’re working in a time where the demand for copywriting and content marketing is at an all time high. Anyone involved with providing web marketing services to clients – from web designers to social media consultants – needs to know great content creators. If they don’t have one they trust an email away, they are doing their clients a big disservice.

Start your search by finding complimentary providers on LinkedIn, exploring small business sites, or looking for freelancing blogs where similar, but not competing, providers might be hanging out.

DO learn about the different ways of partnering with other providers.

Partnership doesn’t have to mean going into business together.

You can work with other providers under a referral agreement or set up a deal where you provide a service as part of their company – but still retain your own clients. It all depends on what you and your potential partner decide to do.

Consider where you want to take your SEO copywriting business and then pick an option that works best for you.

DON’T jump into a partnership too soon.

Finding a good partnership is a lot like dating. You’re not going to run off to Vegas to get married the first night you go out. And if you do, you’re going to end up getting the partnership version of an annulment.

Network with other providers, but take things one project at a time until you get a good feel for how you work together. There’s nothing worse than getting into a contractual relationship with someone whose business practices you don’t respect.

DO evaluate your potential partner’s target market and marketing approach.

There are dozens of opportunities out there for working with another provider – so you can afford to be choosy.

Pay close attention to your potential partner’s own marketing. Who are they working with and speaking to? This is important for two reasons. Finding a provider that works with your own target audience will make it easy for you to create client content – and easy for you to create content for the fellow provider. Everyone needs blog posts and website copy, so chances are your partner will be looking to use your content services at some point. It helps to be familiar with their target audience and know who you’re writing to.

DON’T work without a contract.

No matter how friendly you may be with another provider, you’ll want to treat them just like any other client.

There needs to be contracts in place for each project or – depending on the nature of your partnership – for the length of time you’re working together. Even if you’re working with a fellow business owner it doesn’t mean that they have your best interests in mind.

DO pay close attention to their business practices.

Finding a good fit with another provider goes beyond the leads or projects you can bring one another.

Are you truly on the same page when it comes to growing your businesses? Case in point, after a single project with a particular SEO provider I came to realize his opinion of clients (that they were stupid and deserved to be duped) didn’t jive with the way that I want to do business. This isn’t always apparent based on their website, marketing and social media usage – so keep things low on commitment until you know more about their business practices.

DON’T explore partnership unless you’re sure you can handle it.

If you’re someone who prefers to work on your own, partnership probably isn’t for you.

For me, I found the life of a solo copywriter to be sort of lonely. I always found myself conferring with SEO providers, web designers, and social media marketers so I decided to make it official. Do some soul searching and figure out what you want your business to look like in the future.

Have you worked with referral partners or other partners? What was your experience like?

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 buddawiggi

Need a partner to help your web copy sizzle in search and convert like crazy? Check into my SEO content services today!

 

SEO client education: It’s your most important job

Client education is an SEO professional's most important jobIt doesn’t matter if you’re an SEO consultant, SEO copywriter, content writer, or social media coordinator that reads keyword reports – if you are helping clients with SEO, client education is your most important job.

In fact, I’d wager that if you’re struggling in your business as an SEO provider, client education is the missing piece.

Client education and managing expectations go hand in hand.

What do I mean by education? It can take many different forms, but the goal is to help your client get up to speed on what you provide, why you provide it, and how they’ll benefit. It’s not a sales page or a sales call. It’s helpful information that makes them a smarter buyer.

When I’ve had a difficult client relationship in my business, nine times out of ten it’s been because of a big difference between what the client expected and what I was able to provide. For example, as a copywriter, I can’t build your backlink profile or improve your offpage SEO. But I can make it easier for search engines to understand your site – and help your site visitors get where they need to go.

Client education is important in any industry – but it’s absolutely essential with SEO. Search engine optimization is complicated – and it’s always changing. Although the core of the process is growing a bit easier and less fragmented (pick your keywords, create great content and stay social), there is still enough change from update to update and from year to year for clients to get confused.

These changes can be jumped on by less than scrupulous providers to make a mountain out of a molehill. For example, when Panda and Penguin hit, questionable backlinks became the biggest problem. Unless a client has been paying someone to post backlinks to large, spammy directories there’s no reason they should be spending their time and their money on devaluing links when there aren’t many there begin with. They’d be far better off creating some great content and getting social to build genuine backlinks.

Since there are so many factors that go into SEO and some scum bags out there that are misleading their clients (either intentionally or unintentionally), your job as an educator becomes even more important.

Here’s how to do it, in three steps:

1. Always start the process with an intake call.

Do you get a lot of emails that look something like this: “Hi – I need some web copy. How much do you charge?”

Delivering a paragraph or two back with a quote isn’t going to have the impact that an official intake will. Start your relationship with a conversation so you can understand their SEO needs and determine if they need you, or another type of provider. This will also help you set the framework for how you are working together and let you explain the specific value that you provide.

2. Rather than being a service provider, think of yourself as a consultant.

It’s a subtle shift but an important one if you want to educate your client and take a more strategic role. When you’re “just a service provider” a client will expect to come to you, place an order and then get exactly what they ordered – no questions asked. These are the clients that will come to you saying “Here’s my keyword list and I want a blog article on X, Y and Z.”

But when you present yourself as a consultant, you’ll leave the door open to explain to them why jumping into blogging without a strategy is a bad idea. You can give them insight into how to make their pages better before they blog, how to create a blog strategy and how to improve their overall presence.

3. Produce lots of content – and then produce some more!

When it comes to copywriters and content, it’s often like the old story about the shoemaker’s children having no shoes. If your work days are filled with work for clients, how will you find time for your own work? Make time!

If you want to provide education for your SEO clients, you need to blog, create white papers and develop newsletters. It doesn’t have to be extensive, but it does have to be there. This way, your SEO clients are prequalified and educated before they reach out. They know the difference between bad SEO and good SEO because they’ve read it on your blog.

What steps are you taking to educate your clients?

About the Author ~ Courtney Ramirez

Courtney Ramirez is the Director of Content Marketing Strategy for Endurance Marketing and owner of Six Degrees Content. 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.

image thanks to Digital Sextant (Brendan Riley)

Finding the fun in your freelance copywriting business

Find your freelance copywriting funYesterday, during what seemed to be my 100th pushup, my trainer said something interesting…

“I know you’re beat. You don’t want to do this. It’s time to find the fun and keep going.”

My first reaction was something like &##$&#. But then I saw her point – and realized the application “find the fun” has to freelance copywriters.

You see, owning a business is hard work. I’ve discussed before how some people think it’s all puppies and rainbows when they first start out. And then reality hits.

You have to pay taxes – even if that money was earmarked for something “more important” like a new laptop.

You have to do the writing – even if you’re tired, stressed and want to zone out in front of the TV.

You have to invoice clients – even though you would rather stick a needle in your eye than open your QuickBooks file.

You have to deal with late vendors, flaky clients and other irritating things.

Not to mention, you may love your business 99.9 percent of the time. But that .01 percent? Well…working as a Walmart greeter sounds more enjoyable.

The reality is that your freelance copywriting business will never be perfect. You won’t love it all the time. But you can certainly find the fun and silly in every situation.

For instance:

Were you hit with a huge tax bill? A friend of mine likes to remind me that paying taxes is a good thing. It means you made so much money that the IRS wants some too. Celebrate your success! Heck, you could even have a “I have to pay taxes” party!

Worried about how you’re going to pay taxes next year? Turn a scary unknown into a fun challenge. Pencil out different ways you can prepare  – like setting aside 15 percent of all income into a special “taxes” account. At the same time, you can set up a fun challenge like when you save X for taxes, you’ll take a couple days off. Or buy that laptop you really need.

Hate dealing with bookkeeping? Hire a super-fun accountant or bookkeeper to help. My E.A., Eva Rosenberg, has helped me for over 14 years. Eva has the remarkable ability to make the most grueling tax conversation fun and enjoyable. I come away from our conversations feeling inspired – and that’s worth every penny I pay her.

Are you exhausted and need a break? Build in a couple hours (or a couple days) of “just for you” time. Do whatever you feel like, whether it’s reading a book, getting a manicure or enjoying lunch without your laptop nearby. Once you’ve had some fun, your writing will flow much more easily.

Do you hate to sell? Think of ways you can reward yourself for every gig you land. Maybe you can get a massage, or purchase something that makes your heart sing.

Having a bad day? Stop what you’re doing and immediately focus on the positives – even if the only positive you can think of is, “Well, I brushed my teeth today” and “My cat didn’t wake me up at 3 a.m.” Depending how deep you are in your negativity hole, it may take some time to move from cranky into happy. Stick with it. It makes a huge difference.

Some aspects of our businesses are always going to suck. There’s no way around that. What we can do is control our reaction. We can search for the silly fun hidden at the center of our serious situation. Once we master training our brains, work (and life) will seem so much easier. Really.

What about you? How can you “find the fun” in one of your current freelance copywriting challenges?

Want to learn how to make your freelance SEO copywriting business more fun (and make more money, too!) Join me in Phoenix on May 22nd! Learn more about the in-person SEO Copywriting Certification training.

 

Write, play, live: Said well, done even better

A collection of 6 inspirational posts by Heather Lloyd-Martin

Morning in the Canyon

Sometimes an encouraging word makes all the difference on a difficult day. And some days all we need is a spark of inspiration to stir our creative muse.

Then there are those days when we need a swift motivational kick in the butt to get unstuck and move forward.

Over the past several years, Heather Lloyd-Martin has written prose that encouraged us to move past fear and self-doubt, pushed us to claim our worth as damn good writers, motivated us to welcome challenges and changes, and inspired us to grow by sharing her own experiences with facing down and walking through some of the worst stuff that life can throw at us – and by transcending them.

Here, I’ve collected some of those words of encouragement, inspiration, and motivation penned by one of the best damn writers, generous teachers, and finest human beings I’ve had the honor to know. I hope they enrich you as they have me, and many, many others.

 

What to do when you don't get the gigWhat to do when you don’t get the gig

 It happens to all of us. But people don’t talk about it. Sometimes, you don’t get the gig – and your “hot lead” goes somewhere else…Depending on how you’re feeling, it may be hard to face this kind of “rejection.”

From her opening words, Heather’s empathy comforts us with the knowledge we’re not alone with this disappointment. It’s an occupational hazard. It’s what we do with it that matters. Here, Heather suggests 10 things to do – two of them twice. Keep it handy! Because it does happen to us all.

 

Are you creating your own hell?Are you creating your own hell?

…Her situation made me think of all the ways we create our own business (and personal) hell. Instead of dealing with issues head-on, we let FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) stand in our way. We let things fester, hate the “place” we’re in and come up with every excuse we can think of to explain why our current situation can’t change…

Written over two years ago, this post demonstrates the “tough love” Heather shows from time to time. She doesn’t do whining, and nor should we if we are to break free from that paralyzing fear of change! An open invitation to take an honest look at how we can sabotage ourselves.

 

Yes you can!Yes you can!

…Yes, I learned an important lesson about the necessity of taking a long break. More than that, I learned that anything is possible – if you ignore the excuses of why you can’t do something.

Telling yourself “no” all the time, granted, is the easier path. But here’s the thing: How long are you going to let “no” dictate your life?

Just back – officially – from her Grand Canyon rafting trip last June, Heather shares how giving herself permission to leave her “baby” (business) for an extended adventure way out of her comfort zone opened up unexpected doors and possibilities.

 

Turn your creativity up to 11!How to turn your creativity up to 11

I’m often asked, “Heather, how do you write so much content without burning out?”

Um, good question. I could talk about how I’ve spent almost half of my life studying copywriting (ack, that’s scary to type.) Or how I force myself to write online copy, even when I don’t feel like writing. Or how I’m just plain stubborn.

But what’s the real secret of my success? I force myself to take breaks – long, soul-renewing breaks – and let my creative juices do their thing.

I wasn’t always this way.

Heather shares how she went from working, working, working at a break-neck speed to the far more balanced lifestyle she’s now enjoying…as well as why – and how – we can too. Read Heather’s do-able tips for “building in some downtime,” because “without our creativity, we’re lost.” Indeed.

 

You are a writerYou are a writer

Have you ever struggled with something…and suddenly, everything clicked into place? Maybe a random conversation helped you see your situation in a different way. Or you read a passage in a book – and it’s almost like the passage was written just for you.

Here, Heather shares the power of positive self-talk, after realizing (almost as an epiphany) that she is a runner. Applying this empowering experience to new (and even experienced) writers, she challenges us to affirm to ourselves that yes…

 

How a personal crisis shaped my businessHow a personal crisis shaped my business

I’m going to tell you a story not many people know.

Eleven years ago, my then-husband committed suicide. Saying that I was “devastated” doesn’t come close to describing how I was feeling. I don’t remember much about that time. That’s probably a blessing…

…That dreadful experience shaped my business more than any book, conversation, or mentor. Here’s what I’ve learned.

I’m still floored by the courage Heather shows here, not just by sharing such a personal and terrible experience, but by learning and sharing lifelong lessons from it.

Bravo, Heather!

Said well, done even better.

Should you dive or wade into a freelance copywriting business?

High Dive Video Post : 031113Greetings and welcome to the final installment of Heather’s “how to start an SEO copywriting business” video series!

Last week, Heather discussed some questions you need to ask yourself if you think that you want to launch a freelance copywriting business. Today, she addresses how to make the leap!

Typically, freelance copywriters start up their businesses in one of two ways – by just taking the plunge, or by slowing easing into their new enterprise.

Here, Heather addresses the pros and cons of each approach. Tune in to learn which way makes the most sense for you!

The first way: Take the plunge

The first way that people will approach starting up their business is to just take the plunge: they quit their job one day then start their freelance copywriting business the next.

This is the big fantasy about making your new freelance copywriting lifestyle happen. I did this with my business. I was working for a company and I quit with $100 in my pocket.

I started my freelance SEO copywriting business a couple weeks later. For me, taking the plunge was successful – but I was also younger, had fewer responsibilities, and there was a lot more going on at the time to where it stacked the odds in my favor.

For you, it may be a completely different scenario.

So first let’s consider the pros and cons of diving right in…

Pros:

– You can focus 100% on building your business.

You don’t need to worry about having one foot in working at a “real job” and one foot in your business. You can focus.

Cons:

(And these are pretty heavy duty cons…)

– You probably won’t have a stable income for awhile.

Although you will read ads that claim you’ll start making $20,000 in your first month, this is not a typical experience.

In a lot of cases, people are losing money for a few month before they make a profit, because on top of losing your steady paycheck…

– You will have expenses.

You may need to buy a new computer, you will need a website, you’ll need to contact an attorney, get business cards – all of those things that cost money that were covered in the last video.

– It will take time to build your brand (unless you are already established.)

Just because you’re new on the market doesn’t mean that everyone will be thinking “Oooo! I must work with him or her!” It takes some time…and…

This can be highly risky if you don’t have a financial safety net.

If you went through the questions to ask yourself last week (on planning for a successful launch), and thought “Okay, I’ve got money in the bank and I can ride on this for awhile”  – cool!

But if you’re already feeling pretty tight, taking the plunge may not be the best way to start off. Instead, you might want to…

The second way: Have a “real job” and freelance in your free time

As with diving right in, here are some pros and cons of wading into launching your business.

Pros:

– You have a stable income while you build your business.

And that is wonderful! So even if your freelancing income goes up and down, you know that you’re getting a paycheck every couple of weeks.

– You can build your business gradually and with less stress.

One of the hardest ways to build your business is when you are scared to death that you’re going to be living under the bridge in a couple of months because you don’t have money to live.

So keeping your “real job” eliminates the stress of financial uncertainty and makes it easier for you because it is…

– Much less risky.

Now, a look at the cons…

Cons:

– You will work long hours.

You’ll be working at your “real job” during the day, only to come home and handle client projects at night.

– It may be hard to communicate with clients.

There may be some clients that you won’t be able to work with because they’ll need to meet with you during your “real job” work hours.

And finally…

– Some employers will not let you freelance.

This is something you’ll definitely want to ascertain, especially if you’re already writing content for your employer.

Although it may be tempting to be sneaky and freelance on the side, figuring no one will find out, and it’s in violation of company policy…well, you could be fired and that’ not a scenario you want!

Ultimately, the option you choose is up to you.

You need to evaluate how much risk you can take, how much money you have in the bank, and how long it’s realistically going to take you to get up and running before you actually start generating the income you need.

Thanks for joining me! As always, if you have a question or comment about this video post – or if you just want to reach out and say hi – I’d love to hear from you! You can email me at heather@seocopywriting.com, or find me on Twitter @heatherlloyd.

image thanks to cliff1066™ (Cliff)

Learn more about how to successfully launch your own freelance copywriting business from 12 of the world’s experts! The next Copywriting Business Boot Camp starts April 1st

Launching your freelance copywriting business: plan for success!

You need to plan before you can successfully launch your copywriting businessGreetings! In today’s installment of the How to start an SEO copywriting business video series, Heather addresses the subject in the broadest sense. That is: how and where do you begin? What steps do you need to take?

In her preceding video posts about starting a copywriting business, Heather discussed 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.

Here, she zeroes in on the overarching question: I want to start a freelance copywriting business. What do I do now?

Developing a plan is crucial

The smartest thing that you can do if you want to launch your own business is to develop a plan before you do it.

I’ve talked to many copywriters who have literally quit their job one day and started their freelance business the next! And while many were successful eventually, it proved to be a huge struggle at the beginning because: they were trying to get income in the door, it was an expensive time as their business was brand new, and they weren’t clear about who they wanted to work with…

So by developing a plan first, you can help ensure that you’ll be more successful more quickly! Here are five questions to ask yourself:

– Do you have a financial cushion so you can pay expenses + extra?

If you’re working at a real job now and you quit that job to start your own business, cool! But where’s the money going to come from?

Be realistic in asking yourself about this. Don’t set yourself up by thinking “Well I can cut expenses and only live on $500 a month.” If that’s not possible, that’s not possible! You’ll have to figure out some other ways to generate income while you’re launching your business. (We’ll talk about that more next week).

– Do you have funds for site design, business cards and other marketing materials?

In considering this question, you’re taking into account business start-up expenses, not just living expenses.

With business essentials like your website, you want to get them done correctly the first time. You don’t want to have to go the cheap route, thinking you’re going to learn to build your own site even if you don’t know what you’re doing, or get free business cards that have “printed free by X” at the bottom of them.

You’ll want to plan on having that money set aside so you can have a really nice, integrated branding strategy in place before you start.

– Can you launch with clients, or will you start from scratch?

I know some copywriters who have quit their job and then their ex-employer became a client – so they were able to start their business with a little bit of money coming in.

Other people are starting exactly from scratch, and so they need to figure out their target market, who they want to work with, and also how long it’s going to take before they get money in the door.

Which brings us to the next question…

– How much money do you need to make?

Do you need to replace your existing income? Can you possibly bring in a little bit less, or do you need to make even more?

Really give this question careful consideration, and again, be honest with yourself.

– Do you have a business/marketing plan?

If not, this is the time to create one!

Again, it’s about not starting out cold, figuring you’re going to be able to make thousands of dollars right off the bat.

The smartest thing you can do is first figure out what your target market is, what your unique selling proposition (U.S.P.) is, what kind of services to offer – all of those dimensions covered in previous videos – and then you will know what you’re doing, who you’re doing it for, and really be ready to rock and roll!

Thanks for tuning in!

If you’d like to learn more about how to start a freelance copywriting business, you can get free advice delivered right to your inbox by emailing write4income@aweber.com!

And as always, if you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact Heather via heather@seocopywriting.com, or via Twitter @heatherlloyd.

 

photo thanks to mathewingram (Mathew Ingram)

Want to learn even more about starting a freelance copywriting business? Check out the 6-week, intensive Copywriting Business Boot Camp!