When I interviewed Sarah Arrow of Sark e-Media for this blog last year, I was impressed by her 30 day blogging challenge. The idea is to blog for 30 consecutive days – something I have not tried before. I kept coming back to the idea, but the time never seemed right. Now, in February 2016, it does.
“Keep a small can of WD-40 on your desk—away from any open flames—to remind yourself that if you don’t write daily, you will get rusty.”
I have accepted the challenge and so plan to blog daily for the month of February and 2 days into March. Sarah has written a blog post to help you get some ideas together about the kinds of blog posts you can write.I already have some ideas mapped out and I am looking forward to seeing what happens.
My reasons for taking part in the challenge include adding some more posts to this blog, as it can get a bit neglected when I am busy with work or just life. I am also blogging to meet more people online and see what other people are blogging about. I am also hoping to reinvigorate my business and have fun.
I have already joined the Facebook group where you can promote your posts and see what everyone else is writing about. This is an important part of the process and will help me to keep to the challenge. Sarah also sends out daily emails to help you with the challenge.
So come along with me for the journey. If, like me, you fancy a blogging challenge this month, then visit Sarah’s website, Sark e-Media to sign up and for further information.
The first day was OK – the other 29? We shall wait and see.
Some people just find writing hard work. The physical effort of putting pen to paper or fingers to keypad just does not do it for them. They are unsure that what they are doing is correct and they find the very act of writing a chore. Other writers love it. They enjoy the physical act of writing, whether it’s on a computer or with a favourite pen and paper. They love the feeling of the words flowing out from the brain and onto the page.
Does that mean it’s always easy? No. Writers’ block is very real and it can sometimes be difficult to find just the right word for the sentence, or to work out exactly what it is that you want to say next, but the enjoyment of the physical act of writing just doesn’t go away, no matter how many words you write. If this is you, then you have the potential to be a freelance writer. Here are some more qualities that you will need:
You enjoy learning about new and different things
If you want to write for a living and get paid for it, then you learn to write about many different things. Sometimes Writing Gurus suggest that the best way to get paid is to find a niche and become an expert writer in that niche. If in a previous life, you were an accountant or an insurance agent, then you might well have a niche if you can blog about your knowledge in an accessible way. Most of us do not have that background, however, so we need to discover what we enjoy writing about, and most importantly, what we can write well about. The ability to discover new, reliable sources as knowledge for what you have been asked to write is a very important part of being freelance writers. A future niche may grow out of that work, if you are engaged to write a lot of material in that area.
You have confidence in Your Writing
Writing confidently is part of writing well. Knowing what you want to say and making sure that it reads well is important to a freelance writer. Offering your work through an editor can help you gain confidence in your writing. It is important that you let others read your work, as they can spot errors that you might not.
You can Proofread Your Writing
On the subject of errors, it is important that you can spot simple grammatical and spelling errors. Spellcheck is a great tool and even those freelance writers who are confident in their writing, use it, but sometimes it will miss a homophone, or a word that sounds the same, but is spelled differently and has a different meaning.
You can Take Criticism
Most freelance writers who have had any clients have not always produced every piece of work perfectly. Quite often a piece of work will be returned with requests for revisions. It’s how you take it which is important. Your client knows what they want, and if you are lucky, they will ask for it. It’s your job to write what they want so no matter whether you disagree with them or not, you should write to their specifications. Always be professional and polite because these clients are paying you to do a job. Always turn in the best work that you can do.
With visitors taking even less time than usual to stop by a new website and look around, it is really important to offer a great title when writing a guest blog. You can have written the most informative article in the world but if the title does not instantly grab a reader, then there will not be many people willing to read on. The title has to be worth their while.
Here is The Creative Writer’s guide to writing a great guest blog title:
1. Make sure the title reflects the article content accurately. Try and be too clever and you might leave a reader puzzled as to how the title fitted in with the rest of the article. An article on the ‘Five best Toddler Drink Cups’ is expected to have something on drink cups in there somewhere.
2. Make sure the language is suitable for the audience that you want to attract. A title aimed at a teenage audience is very different from one aimed at the small business owner market. You want your blog post to be authoritative and to offer information that your readers need. You should therefore choose your language carefully.
3. Puns are out! Well, ok probably not out completely, but a bad pun can put people off reading an article. Puns are plays on words that make you groan rather than laugh. People who are groaning may not read on.
4. Don’t be too clever if you play on words. It is easy to get carried away by your own brilliance and leave your audience puzzled. Some plays on words work, others should be cut in the edit.
5. You won’t always get the perfect title straight away. Sometimes you need to work on it a little. Using numbers can help – ‘Five Ways to-‘ or ‘Ten Perfect Blog Titles’ but it’s not always essential. It is more important that your title reflects your article and that it will encourage visitors to your site to read on.
Sarah Charmley is a UK-based freelance writer who offers guest blogs as part of her services. To discuss your blog requirements either use the contact form or email sarahthecreativewriter(at) gmail.com.
Guest blog posts are becoming more popular as the demand for website content grows. Introducing a blog to your website can help increase your traffic and bring more customers to your business, but maintaining a blog can be hard work. It can be difficult to constantly think of fresh ideas and easy to put off writing your blog until the last minute. One solution to this problem is to have a guest post.
There are two types of guest posting: one where people get in touch with you and offer to post. This is usually the case with a very popular website such as Copyblogger which is big in its own right. My comments on posts on Copyblogger rank higher in the search engines than my own website. If you are getting offers of guest posts, then my guess is that you have a highly ranked website in a popular topic.
More usually you might offer to swap blog posts with a friend in a similar field. You exchange like for like in return for links that might bring more traffic to your website. If you don’t have anyone that you think would offer suitable links, then there is a Blogger Link Up newsletter where you can post your guest blog requirements and see if there are any you could offer.
Then there is paid blogging where you hire someone to blog for you, usually if you really aren’t finding the time to write and keep your blog up to date.
Paying a blogger to write guest posts for your websites will give you a ready supply of blog posts to keep your website updated. A professional writer does this for a living: they are able to write new and engaging content that your readers can identify with. A good guest blogger will be able to write using a style similar to your own so that your readers feel that they are still getting the information from you, and of course, the final say over the content is yours. You need to feel that the post could have been written by you and that you can relate to the writing that you are posting.
A paid blogger is often writing in your name. Yours’ is the byline – they just happen to have written the words. It is happening more and more and if writing isn’t your strength, then it might just be the solution you need.
Guest blogs offer a painless way of bringing fresh content to your website and keeping it updated. Whether you accept guest blogs in return for links or money, they can offer a fresh perspective, a new voice and further opportunities to link up with other small business owners and increase your social network.
Sarah Charmley is a UK-based blogger who offers interesting blog posts for your website. If you would like to discuss your guest posting requirements with her, then please use the contact form or email sarahthecreativewriter(at) gmail.com.
Many businesses consider having a blog an essential part of their website. Blogging offers a chance to connect with your customers and enable them to see a little of what you do. Blogging brings fresh content to your website and that is a good thing when it comes to search engines.
Deciding to have a blog is a regular commitment. How often you update it is up to you, but updating it regularly ensures that visitors to your website can see that you use your website and that you still have a valid business.
1. Adding fresh content to your blog ensures that your website stays fresh and current. Coming across a website which has not been updated since 2007 says ‘I don’t care’ or even ‘I’m no longer in business’.
2. Finding new subjects to write about helps to expand your own learning and enables you to keep up with trends and learn more about your own business. It will also help you keep your brain active and engaged in your business. You might even get some new ideas to help your business.
3. Putting up a new blog post gives you the opportunity to promote your website and your business using social media. Keeping in touch with customers through social media is becoming increasingly important. You want your business website to be well-known through social media, although spam is not a good idea.
4. You can use your blog post to promote special offers or to offer other promotions designed to increase business and encourage return customers. This can be a great way to use a blog post. Design it carefully so that links leading to products or services are visible and easily accessed.
5. Regularly updating your blog will help to reassure your customers that you are a trusted company for them to do business with. Trust is increasingly important on the Internet. A trusted company will bring more repeat customers.
Regular blogging can bring many benefits to you and your business website, so stop reading this post and go and get writing!
Sarah Charmley is a UK-based writer who offers blogging as a speciality. If you would like a carefully crafted blog post on a topic of your choice, use the contact form to get in touch or email sarahthecreativewriter (at) gmail.com.
Many people have job uncertainty at the moment and the option of working from home begins to look more attractive. You can’t fire yourself and the prospect of giving yourself a disciplinary warning seems unlikely!
Joking aside, however, the decision to start your own business cannot be taken lightly. You would be well advised to look into the idea thoroughly before taking any steps to become self-employed. If you need the wage you earn to cover the costs of day to day living, then you will need to consider carefully what you need to live on and what you will need the business to make a month. You need to consider a pension, National Insurance and tax. The tax office in the UK requires you to register within three months of setting up in business. You will be responsible for finding your own customers and clients and you will need to keep your cashflow going.
If you are still reading this, undaunted, then you truly have got the bug and there may be no hope for you. Here are some of the things you will need to consider when setting up your own business:
Check out your competition. Is there a need for your kind of business and what are you going to do to compete with them?
Make That Sale
The hardest part of any business is getting the customers through the door or on the website. You will need to be your own sales person, so get used to talking on the phone, designing leaflets and buying business cards.
Get a Website and Your Own Domain Name
Having your own website is essential. It is best if the domain name describes what you do in some way although the more obvious names will be taken. Try to find a name that your customers will search for when they are looking for a business like yours. Bear in mind that a website is a long-term investment and that unless you employ an expert, you are likely to be blogging to yourself for a while.
Sell, Sell, Sell
After getting customers through the door, the hardest part is getting that sale. Make sure that your shop or website is bright and appealing. Don’t forget promotional offers can tempt customers to buy and make sure that it is as easy as possible for a customer to buy from you. A website should include big 360 degree pictures of products and accurate descriptions. Logical departments for products and a search facility can also help.
Offer great customer service to keep your customers coming back for more. Ask for feedback and post reviews. Keep in touch with customers via a newsletter so that you can offer more promotions.
Keep your website fresh and up to date. Don’t let yourself get in a rut. When you can afford it and the business is bringing a little money, hire a graphic designer and have some custom designs made so that you can build your brand.
Starting up a new business is an exciting decision. When the excitement dies down, make sure that you have thought everything through and planned thoroughly to ensure that you will be a successful business owner.
I have written some articles on this subject on Suite101:
Here are five blog posts that I have found helpful this month:
1. Ask the Expert How to Start up an Online Store
This blog post answers all the questions that you might ask when setting up an e-commerce website. This is a really useful post and Karen answers the questions very succinctly. You might want to check out her website for information on setting up a Facebook page too, because she is very good at what she does.
2. Five Ways to Avoid Being a Notworker
This is a great post on how not to network and therefore, some of the best ways to network. There is some great advice here.
3. What Budget 2011 Means for Freelancers and Small Businesses
Staying with Bitsy, here is a great post on the UK budget announcements and how they will affect small businesses. Very useful.
4. Facebook vs Twitter
A new website I have recently come across had this interesting post on Facebook vs Twitter. The website is very useful with lots of interesting information on running a small business.
Finally, Laura Lake at About.com talks about the latest Google feature: +1. It will be interesting to see how the search engine makes use of it in the future when evaluating search results and page rankings.
Every so often, it’s helpful to run a ‘best of’ blog post particularly once you have picked up your blogging rate. Here are the top five blog posts on The Creative Writer in March in my humble opinion. Feel free to share any posts that have helped you this month.
OK, going to break my own rules here – this wasn’t strictly published in March but on 28th February, but Google Algorithm Change Rocks Content Websites was a blog post about a big change on Google. The effects of this change, known as Panda is still being assessed, but it affected some pretty big sites such as Suite101 and Hubpages, making those organisations take steps to improve the quality of their publishing. Some people are still concerned about the effects of this change, but I think it will all even out eventually and that great content is still king.
How to design a successful leaflet began life as a sample for a company, but turned into an interesting blog post. I have had a hand in designing leaflets, but as part of a committee and that can be a difficult thing to do, with everyone having their own opinion on how it should look. Some useful tips here.
Regular blogging can make a difference. I have noticed it on my own website: my stats are still steadily rising since I started making a commitment to blog three times a week. Try it and it could work for you.
Writing compelling copy offers an insight into the copywriter’s mind which is a dark and murky place… just kidding! Actually this suggests an idea that might help your company write copy that can help convert visitors into customers. Try it and let me know how you get on.
So these are some of my better blog posts this month that I think contained real value to the people reading them. Let me know what you think and please ask any questions that you would like to know the answer to.
It seems such an easy job that the world and his wife could do it with one hand tied behind their back (not their writing hand, obviously) – copywriting!
How can you become a copywriter? If you have always wanted to have a go, then here are some of the steps that have got me here today.
Read. Yes, I know you want to write, but every good writer is also a reader. Find out all you can on the subject and keep reading. There is some really great information out there and not all of it is paid for. If you want to learn to write, then keep reading.
Write. Now, we’re getting to it – you have to write. What can you write about? The easiest way to start is to begin with a free blog. Pick a subject that you are reasonably knowledgeable about and set up a blog through Blogger or WordPress. If it is just for you, then it doesn’t matter too much about a domain name, but if you want to make money with it later, then you will have to buy a relevant domain name at some point. These free blogs offer some great themes which you can customise to your own design. You can use them to upload photos and videos too.
Bookmark some websites that you think are really helpful and keep going back to them. There are places that you can publish for free like Suite101 and Hubpages. These can be useful to form the basis of an online portfolio. A portfolio is a body of work that you can show a potential employer, and it is important to build up clips or articles so that you can prove that you can write. Don’t expect to make a lot of money with these two websites but they are great for teaching you the basics of Search Engine Optimisation or SEO.
You might like to read some writing magazines. These are really helpful with lots of ideas for how to get started in writing. One of the first ways they suggest is by writing a readers’ letter to those very magazines! Look for those that are available in your country. Some are available online.
The best way to get confident in your writing is to join a local writing class. Some are run from libraries, and some from colleges, but they are a great way to meet other writers and get some feedback on your writing. Your tutor will provide you with subjects to write on and if it is a general class, you will get to try out lots of different writing. Find out what kinds of writing you really enjoy and pursue it.
As your confidence grows, so might your wish to earn some money from this new-found skill. You can find job boards, search Google for jobs or approach potential employers directly. This all depends on the kind of writing that you want to be doing. Always be comfortable with the rate you are being paid – don’t accept work for free. You can try reviews for your local press or write letters to your favourite magazines. Start small, keep going and keep learning.