Posts

5 simple steps to sourcing SEO copywriting services

Sourcing SEO copywriters as simple as collecting leaves

Leslie Poston explains how sourcing SEO copywriting services is almost as easy as collecting leaves in the fall. (With better spelling, too!)

Let’s face it, consistently creating excellent, SEO-friendly content for your B2B company can be a daunting task. The person in charge of creating content in-house may not be a great writer or may not understand SEO. Your in-house writing team may not know the best way to reach your niche market online, or it may simply be cost-prohibitive for your in-house team to work on SEO copywriting. You may have written content in the past that talked past your intended B2B audience, instead of with them.

Whatever the reason, it’s completely normal to need to seek outside help with your B2B SEO copywriting. The challenge becomes how to source the best writer for your needs. It helps to have a clear digital marketing plan, clear KPIs, structured campaigns and goals that you set with your analytics teams, and relevant tie-in to other departments, such as sales, to track your content back to your bottom line.

1. Clarity

Once you have a budget in mind (be prepared to adjust your number – quality writing may cost more than you expect), you’re going to need to create a content plan that your SEO copywriter can work from, as well as goals, market segments, keyword and keyphrase lists and more. A great SEO copywriter who really knows your niche can assist with these elements, but the more clarity you have regarding what you want your copy to achieve, the better the results your copywriter can create for you.

2. Research

Take some time to research your potential SEO copywriter. These days, you don’t have to ask for samples of a person’s writing! Their online footprint, website and blog should clearly showcase their expertise. They should have references, samples online, an active blog and – if applicable for your niche – visible certifications relevant to your industry. A simple search should tell you everything you need to know about your potential shortlist of SEO copywriters.

If you don’t have a short list to pull from, you can seek out help on sites like Elance. However, be forewarned that you will need to double check language fluency and competence. Happily, writer-for-hire sites do some of the due diligence for you. Make sure you do your own as well, however.

3. Budget

The old adage “You get what you pay for” absolutely holds true for creative work. SEO copywriting that is obviously SEO driven and is difficult to read or shallow in content relevance sticks out like a sore thumb. Great SEO copywriting is fluid, focused, deeply niche driven, relevant to the CMO- and CEO-level B2B clients you want to connect with, and current. The SEO aspect of the content should never be obvious. If you use a site like NewsCred to find writers, you can expect to pay from $500 on up for articles and blog posts. Individual copywriters and SEO firms may charge more (or less) depending on experience and location.

4. Test

Continuously test for quality before and during your SEO copywriting campaign. First, test your SEO copywriter’s knowledge of your niche before you even hire them. After hiring, test their content. Have them write with A/B testing in mind, which will allow you to maximize results as you get analytics results in. As the results come in, test again. Look to see what pieces of content are actually converting, which are generating actions and which are sitting dormant, not performing. Be prepared to adjust on the fly.

5. Reporting

The final piece in your successful SEO copywriting outsourcing puzzle is reporting. Reporting should be a two-way street! Most SEO copywriting contracts are long term. You want the writer to report to you at least bi-weekly, touching base with metrics related to your content plan. At the same time, your SEO copywriter needs reporting from you on how their content is performing. This will allow them to adjust their content to get the best results for you.

If all of this seems like a gargantuan task, don’t panic. The hardest part of this process will be finding someone who is well-versed in your niche market. This experience and knowledge is essential in reaching the decision-makers with authoritative, interesting content that helps them through the discovery and purchase process. Great SEO content converts, converts, converts!

Leslie Poston

About the Author

Author Leslie Poston wrote Social Media Metrics for Dummies, co-authored Twitter for Dummies, and has been writing for hire and leading content marketing initiatives as a consultant since the ’90s. She is Senior Social Media Editor for McKinsey & Company and also runs a content marketing consultancy. She’s an avid Twitter user, so be sure to say hello on Twitter: @leslie

Photo thanks to Christopher (Take Em If You Want Em)

Why do some freelance copywriters rake in the bucks while others struggle to make ends meet? Hint: It’s all about tightening up the back end of your business. Learn how to make more money, faster with the Copywriting Business Bootcamp. Save 10% until 11/13/13 with coupon code SECRETS.

5 steps to building a powerful SEO copywriting business network with LinkedIn

Guest Author, Pam Foster

After 2-3 years of trying several different social networks for my SEO copywriting business, I had a breakthrough in the past 6 months where most of my biggest web projects came from one source: LinkedIn.

I’ve come to realize that my LinkedIn connections have been more fruitful for my business, BY FAR, than any other marketing method I’ve tried. Here’s why I believe it’s a terrific resource for you too:

  • Your LinkedIn connections are truly business-focused connections.
    People are using LinkedIn primarily for business conversations, sharing business tips, finding business contacts and opportunities, and asking questions about business success. I have not found this to be true with the other social media.
  • LinkedIn connections are often from companies with decent marketing budgets.
    The clients who reached out to me via LinkedIn were mainly from companies looking for a skilled SEO Copywriter to help improve an existing website or launch a new site. This work was in their marketing budget for the year and they were ready to go. They were happy to find me and were willing to pay my fees for quality SEO Copywriting. The same can happen for you too.
  • Linked connections represent all types of opportunities for your business. Over the last couple of years, I’ve connected with more than 600 people I know personally from my career and my school days. I have connections with former colleagues, associates I met through business groups, college classmates and friends, high school friends, graphic designers, web developers, ad agency people I’ve met, fellow copywriters, industry leaders like Heather, and many, many other types of people. Any one of them can be a great source of referrals or business. You never know!

It’s not just me that’s having better luck with LinkedIn than some other social networks when it comes to finding business clients. HubSpot’s 2011 State of Inbound Marketing report shows that, “the effectiveness of particular social media channels varies according to the type of business.”

In a survey of over 600 professionals, they found that “LinkedIn is clearly more effective (than Facebook) for B2B businesses.

So why not try it and see for yourself? It’s incredibly easy and it’s FREE. Try these 5 ways to dive in and create a powerful network for your business, all from the comfort of home:

1. Create an optimized profile of yourself.

For example, include the phrase “SEO copywriter” in your SUMMARY and in the description of current business. Include all past work you’ve done as a virtual resume under EXPERIENCE, but be sure to showcase the work you’ve done that’s relevant for today’s potential clients. You don’t need to do it all at once, but eventually you’ll want to create a robust profile with relevant content in each prompted section.

2. Start connecting with the most obvious folks on your list.

This will include current employers (if you’re still working at a company), current colleagues, past colleagues, college friends, local business folks you know… anyone who comes to mind. You might make a big list on paper and then search for those people in LinkedIn’s SEARCH area. When you send a request to connect, always add a little personal note to say “hi” and let the person know what you’re doing. Here’s an example, “Hey Bob! Great to see you here. Just letting you know I’m now a Certified SEO Copywriter focusing on improving website performance for clients. Perhaps you know someone who could use my help? In the meantime, I’d love to add you to my LinkedIn Connections. What are you up to these days? Cheers, Pam”

3. Continue connecting with “People you may know.”

As you begin building a network of connections from all your past jobs, etc., LinkedIn feeds you a list of people who you may know based on your new connections. This list is a goldmine, so make the most of it!  You’ll find people you completely forgot about or you haven’t seen in years. With a quick invitation to connect, you suddenly strike up a new relationship that could lead to a great referral or project. I check out the “People you may know” at least once a week and send out at least 10 invitations each time. It adds up quickly.

4. Join Groups that are relevant to your business.

If your SEO copywriting work is for a particular niche market (which I highly recommend), join groups in that market. For example, I’m focused on the pet industry, so I’ve joined Pet Business groups and Veterinary groups. Joining groups helps you keep track of questions and topics that are important to your specific market, and when it makes sense, chime in on a discussion (without promoting your business of course, because no-one likes spammy participants).

5. Be an amazing contributor.

Whenever you can, use the “Share an update” box on your home page to post helpful tips, links, ideas, questions, answers, sources, industry news, etc. that your connections may find helpful. Try not to be overly promotional. Just be helpful. That’s the simple rule of thumb for all your social media efforts. And don’t forget to use relevant keywords in your posts! This helps potential clients find you in LinkedIn search.

Bonus tip: Ask for recommendations and give recommendations.

LinkedIn makes it very easy to reach out to folks and ask for a personal recommendation of your work. By clicking on the Recommendations button, you can send a simple request via email. Be sure to add a personal message and offer to return the favor. Not everyone will stop and write a recommendation, but it’s great when some people do take the time. I’ve accumulated a nice list of testimonials through this feature.

This gives you a solid start on making the most of LinkedIn. There are many other ways you can make the most of this free resource once you get your foundation going.

Keep linking and good luck!

Connect with me on LinkedIn

Author, The Web Copywriter’s Clear Path to Profits
SuccessWorks Certified SEO Copywriter and Sr. Content Marketing Consultant
ContentClear Marketing and PetCopywriter.com


 

Do you give it away for free?

So, what do you do when someone wants free advice?

I talked to someone the other day who had just hung out her freelance Web writing shingle. That means, she’s hustling for clients. All. The. Time.

She had a great sales-call conversation with a local business owner. They talked. They laughed. They bonded. He asked her, “What changes would you make to my site,” and she spent 45 minutes outlining how she’d change the Titles, how she’d start a blog, how she’d add keyphrases to his copy. She even showed him WordStream‘s keyword research tool and how to use it.

She was convinced she got the gig. The prospect told her that “He’d let her know” – and she left in a sales-happy daze.

Fast forward two weeks. The prospect won’t return her calls. He won’t return her emails. And when she looks at his site – surprise, surprise – some of the Web copy was changed per her suggestions.

Where did she go wrong?

She gave it away for free.

This is a problem for any professional. If you work with computers, everyone calls you for tech support. If you’re an attorney, people ask you to answer “Quick legal questions.” And if you’re a freelance SEO copywriter (or SEO professional) the question on everyone’s minds is, “How can I do better in Google?”

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for educating prospects. That’s important. But there’s a fine line between educating clients on best practices and telling them how you’d “fix” their site (or whatever you get paid to do.)

This can be especially tricky during the sales process. You may really, really need this sale. Or, the person asks you face-to-face. Suddenly, not giving out free information seems like a sales (and social) faux pas. You start wondering if other people have given out freebie information and you’ll look bad if you don’t.  Heck, it doesn’t feel comfortable to say, “Uh, you have to pay me for that.”

No, it doesn’t feel comfortable. You don’t need to say those words, exactly…but you do need to say something like them. That is, if you want to make money.

Yes, you want to show off your expertise during the sales process. Yes, you want to wow the prospect. At the same time, you need to set a boundary. You need to know – clearly, deep in your heart-of-hearts know – that you are willing to talk about X for free. Maybe you provide one tip. Maybe you provide very general (but highly educational information.)

Or maybe, you don’t want to give anything away for free – even the most basic information. That’s OK, too.

When the prospect says something like, “What would you do to fix my site,” that’s when your boundary should kick in. Say what you’re comfortable saying and then steer back to the sales process. Tell them, “It looks like you have many Web writing opportunities here. I can outline them out in a report that contains (X) and costs (Y).

Or you could say, “That’s a great question. I’d have to dig deeper into your issues to really help you – let me tell you a bit more about how I consult with clients like you.”

You’re not ignoring their question or being rude. You’re simply – and nicely – informing them of your limits. At that point, they can choose to work with you (get the information they obviously want to have) or try to find someone who will give them freebie help. Either way, you win.

Consider if it’s time that you reviewed your own sales process. Have you felt “trapped” into providing “too much” information? Do you give it away for free? Are you gaining new clients – or inexplicably losing gigs? It could be that a slight change in your sales process can actually drive new business.

What about you? What kinds of information do you give away for free – or do you?