By Sarah Charmley. One of the first bloggers I found when looking for blogs on freelance writing was Anne Wayman’s About Freelance Writing. I found it to be full of information and helpful advice. Anne gave away a book which offered ‘3 Keys to Making Your Writing Pay’ when you subscribed to her newsletter and I downloaded it and found it useful. This book is still available for new subscribers today. Anne is very good at responding to people who comment on her blog. She is usually quick to continue the conversation and this suggests that she is online frequently. She checks her blog regularly and makes sure that no comment goes unnoticed. Anne used to offer freelance writing job listings, but no longer does so. She has however written an e-book which details the links that she used to create these listings. Some listings can be found for free under the tab ‘Jobs and Pay’. These are a great starting point when looking for freelance jobs, although looking through job listings can be time-consuming. The website hosts a ‘5 Buck Forum’ which enables freelance writers to meet and share experiences. This costs around $30 a month for joining a professional forum. It can be a useful way to meet others who do what you do and to learn from others. This is a great website for those who want to start a career as a freelance copywriter. The final tab offers a list of articles which will inform you all about the ‘Business of Writing’. Subjects such as what to charge clients, how to educate clients on what to expect from their freelancer and why freelance projects fail are all useful subjects that can help potential freelancers learn more about their ideal career. Anne’s newsletter always offers some interesting articles for freelance writers and she also runs courses. If you are looking for a blog owned by someone who is approachable, helpful and knowledgeable then Anne’s blog would come highly recommended by this writer. This review is based on the opinions of the author and is offered as free and unbiased. On Friday, Anne Wayman of About Freelance Writing.com will answer my freelance writing interview questions. Thank you, Anne.
Found a bright shiny website with whistles and bells, looking pretty and inviting.
So you decide to stay and look round. Then you discover that although it looks like it will be informative, the website content lacks something…you cast around for the word…what is it again? Oh yes, I know. It lacks INFORMATION!
The content is lacklustre and the information is badly written, poorly punctuated and there’s a few spelling mistakes for good measure. There are some keywords, but they seem to have been sprinkled liberally rather than used sparingly and in context. Perhaps the owner of the website has written it for themselves, or perhaps they have relied on a web developer to write it for them. After all everyone can write, can’t they? We all learn to write at school. It’s just a matter of stringing a few sentences together and bunging it up on a website.
What’s the result of this cobbled-together content?
Visitors don’t stay around. If you’re selling something, then they may not bother to see what it is. They may proceed to buy, but then they were going to anyway and if they’ve seen it cheaper on another website then they won’t bother. There’s no interest to keep them here, nothing to learn and no real information that they can use.
What lessons can you take from this as a business owner?
Bright shiny websites are all very well, but it’s the content that keep people around
Everyone might have learned to write at school, but only certain people have kept in practice
SEO is an art which is learned. Just adding keywords here and there will not do the job of carefully crafted content which has been optimised for SEO
The website has ten seconds to attract a visitor’s attention. Give them something interesting to read and keep them for longer
Talking to a copywriter can help save your website. Organise your information, create interesting content on relevant subjects and your website will instantly improve. Copywriters can create landing pages to entice visitors further, sales pages to help pitch your products and informative articles which can help to sell for you.
If your bright and shiny website also has sparkly and exciting content to match, then your website visitors are going to come back again and again.
Sarah Charmley is a freelance copywriter who specialises in making web content bright and shiny too. Contact her using the form for a personalised quote to save your website.
Each word that you use as a writer has a function. They all have a part to play in communicating your message through your writing. Here are some of the names of words that writers use every day and their function in a sentence.
NOUN – a name – dog, cat, person, girl, boy
PROPER NOUN – someone’s actual name: Jane, Susan, Jack, Frank
Copyright laws can be strange and complex – there have been a few famous authors taken to court accused of stealing their story from another book – but the point made is serious. You can be sued for wrongfully using another person’s work.
Copyright is traditionally the way that authors can protect their own original work. It enables them to protect their writing from plagiarism which is defined as the work being used by other people who claim it as their own. This is particularly important on the internet, because it can be so easy to take someone else’s work by cutting and pasting it on your own website. This applies equally to graphics, photos and any other work that someone has created. Once you have created a piece of work then it is protected by law and another person cannot take it for their own use.
How do you ensure that the work you are using is legally unique?
You can write it yourself. If you take a subject and put it in your own words, then you own the copyright on that work and can do what you choose with it. Of course then you have to look out for someone else stealing it…
When you hire someone else to do the work, how do you know whether the work is truly written by them or if they have just copied and pasted it from another website? There is some free software out there to help you check out the writing, but you can also do a quick check yourself by searching for websites using your preferred keywords. The work is likely to come up on the first few pages if it has been taken.
You cannot copyright ideas – those are available for anyone to use. This can be difficult when two writers submit the same idea to a magazine. Sometimes that can be why they are rejected. The copyright is in the way that you write it using your own voice and style. Two people will write an article using the same title in two completely different ways.
Using photos and images is also subject to copyright. There are plenty of free sites out there. You can search Google images, looking for pictures that are available for commercial re-use if you use the advanced search. When you are writing for a commercial website, then you may be best advised to buy the right to use a photo from a stock photograph website. This gives you the widest possible choice so that you can find the photo you are looking for.
Even if you believe an image is free to use, you should always check that there are no limitations on how it can be used and it is polite, where possible, to let the owner of the picture know that you have used it and include a link for them to check it out.
If you are in the business of regularly providing content such as a website owner, a blog writer or email newsletters, do be careful that what you write is 100% unique content. That way you can be sure that you will not have a lawsuit landing on your doormat.
A landing page is where an advertising link should lead when it has been clicked. Your landing page should not be the same as your homepage. Your landing page should be designed to induce visitors to become customers in as few clicks as possible.
Here are my top five tips for a landing page:
1. Make the product simple and clear. Include photos if appropriate and a good description.Include all the information that the customer will need to know about the product.
2. Include a clear link back to your homepage.
3. Tell your visitors how purchasing this product will solve their problem. Give them a good reason to click on ‘buy’.
4. Make your buying and checkout processes as easy as possible to go through. Provide a variety of ways for customers to pay including Paypal, credit cards and pre-paid cards.
5. Make sure that your visitors can access store policies including shipping costs and return policies, preferably in a new window so that they do not transfer away from your buying page.
Building trust is key to getting visitors to convert to customers. By making your policies transparent and making it as easy as possible for visitors to buy, then you have a big advantage over your competitors. Getting good traffic to your website is important, but encouraging a high proportion of people viewing your website to commit to buy is the most important part for your business.
Search Engine Optimization or SEO has been a buzzword among internet communities for some time. If you own a company website, or even just a blog that you are hoping to promote and bring new readers to, then you need to know about search engine optimization. It all comes down to search engines and to Google in particular. The main search engine collects websites and categorizes them according to relevant content. This involves a complicated algorithm which is the subject of much debate among internet marketers. The formula is regularly reviewed and the rules can be changed so that a website that originally did quite well in the rankings can take a fall and drop down the pages of searches. The list of websites is then organized in order of relevance to the original search term. If a page appears to be simply spam, then it will be removed. Those websites that are consistently seen as useful will therefore be promoted and brought to the fore in the listings. Google takes into account the age of a website and back links which lead back to a website. For most companies, to get on the first page of a search engine is highly desirable as it will bring your website to the attentions of clients searching for something that you can provide to them. To help achieve this, find the correct search terms that you want to be ranked for. Choosing searches that are often made can help you optimize your website more effectively and bring relevant, targeted traffic to your website. If you can get people who are searching for the kinds of products or services that you are offering to come to your website, then you will have a very effective marketing tool indeed.
Photo Credit: Photo found on Flickr by Crystaljinger
This is a quick note to say that my guest post at #customerlove went live yesterday – and was quickly superceded by two others! Hey, you’re only at the top of the heap for a while!
You can read my guest post at the #customerlove website so do pop over and do that. It was a great experience writing a guest post and the layout of the website was very familiar to me as it was a WordPress site just like this one!
I didn’t choose the picture, LaVonne did and I think she did a great job. The challenge is nearly over now and things have not gone quite as planned for me, but I am hoping to get something up and running before the end of November.
If you have any questions that you would like me to answer on business writing or even starting a small business, then let me know either in comments or on the contact form.
It sounds like a lot of work. Collecting information, articles, even adverts together, formatting them together in an attractive format then, possibly the worst bit of all, printing and distributing them. Is there really any need for your business to have a newsletter?
I would suggest that it can be worth the effort for your business to have a newsletter and here’s why:
– It keeps your business in the forefront of your customers’ minds
– It can enable you to offer other companies you work with extra exposure
– It enables you to make special offers to your customers to encourage them to spend more money with you
– You can tempt your customers with new products.
– You can send an email newsletter rather than a paper one, avoiding the recycle bin and saving the planet!
– You collect details of your customers and know who they are.
There are lots of great reasons why a newsletter should be at the forefront of your mind. So how do you do it?
What Makes a Great Newsletter?
The elements of a great newsletter is great headlines, interesting and succinct articles and graphics. You can include adverts for new products, news and information that is likely to be of interest to your customers and of course information on how to contact you should any of the offers be of interest to your customers.
There are some great publishing packages out there and if you are going to do it yourself, it might be worth investing in software that will help you set it out professionally. Being able to move graphics around easily and play around with the format can help the ease of putting the newsletter together.
Your newsletter can be as short as a page. If you are planning on printing a newsletter, bear in mind that for a folded format, you will need a minimum of four pages if there is not to be a large piece of blank space on it.
Fonts and Graphics
Make the font easily readable such as Arial. Times New Roman has also been traditionally used. At least 11 point will be easily read by most.
If you are printing, graphics quality is everything. Pictures do not come out so well on coloured paper and need to be as high a quality as possible. They also look good with a border to separate them from the text on the page.
Check Your Newsletter Well
Proof read everything thoroughly and preferably get a second pair of eyes to look over them to pick up mistakes you have missed. If your spelling and grammar is not as good as it could be, then use your publishing software hints to help you out and spell check the whole. Bear in mind that this will not pick up words spelled right but in the wrong place.
Make a commitment to getting out the newsletter weekly, fortnightly or monthly and stick to it. Make a commitment, block out some time to deal with it as appropriately. Get used to squirreling bits of information away for the newsletter and collect graphics.
Finally, if you really think it’s a great idea, but just don’t have the time, then hire a writer. Give them the information and ask them to format and produce it as a pdf or a printed book. Rates will depend on how much work will be involved in producing the newsletter.
If you wish to discuss starting a newsletter with me, then please check out my contact page.
I haven’t written a ‘helpful blogs’ post for a while, and I’ve been enjoying some new heights of helpfulness since my last one. If you’re running a business, then here are some blogs you may find helpful.
I love Enterprise Nation! It has a great forum for asking questions, daily helpful articles and a twitter meet-up every day around the watercooler at 11 am.Particularly if you are a UK business, then do check it out.
I found Enterprise Nation from Startup Donut. Again it has a help forum and is particularly useful for information and help for newly formed businesses.
Karen Gunton’s blog, Build a Little Biz is a new favourite of mine. It is great reading for new business owners, or even those just beginning on the Internet. She writes well for Mum entrepreneurs but her advice would suit anyone looking for more information on running a business online.
Freelance Switch is a great site for web developers and designers, but it also includes writers in the mix. The articles are regularly added and very helpful, it has a great cartoon strip and advertises jobs. Well worth a look.
I have only recently begun following Freelance Folder. It is similar in style to Freelance Switch which is a clean professional look. The articles are just as good with lots of helpful hints and tips for business owners.
Finally, if you are looking for either a creative job or for creative workers, try CrowdSpring. It is a simple website that posts projects for a set amount, allowing simply the best proposal to stand out. There are jobs for graphic or web design or for writers. Check it out if this sounds what you are looking for.
We all have different websites that we regularly visit and enjoy. Recommend your favourites in the comments below.
Photo Link: 3D People and Internet Symbol
Freelance copywriter, proofreader, editor, web articles, writer. Your words are my business