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Freelance Writing – How to Write Great Product Descriptions for a Website

Posted on : 14-04-2016 | By : admin | In : Freelance Writing

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One of the many freelance copywriter jobs available is to write product descriptions for a website.

Writing Tools by Pete O'Shea on Flickr CC

Writing Tools by Pete O’Shea on Flickr CC

This is a description for each product on an e-commerce site which describes the product, gives a potential customer information on the product, often including dimensions and colour choices as well as materials that it is manufactured from. There can be some scope for creative writing as you describe the product to enable the customer to make a buying choice. A product description will be required for each product on the website, so this job could potentially last a long time, especially if more products are added to the website.

The first product description writing job I got was in the early days of my freelancing career. I was required to write descriptions for a sports and workwear clothing company. The descriptions were written in an Excel spreadsheet which was useful to enable me to know if I had used the exact same description before. There were about 800 products to describe, so it was time-consuming and I had a deadline to keep. I managed to make the deadline, but only by getting up early in order to finish the writing. The vendor was pleased and I was glad that I had managed to finish, but it was hard work.

More commonly these days, product descriptions are written straight into a content management system or CMS. The person who hired you will tell you what they want in each field, so you should be given instructions as to what to write. The information can include a product number or SKU, a product name, manufacturer, and a description.

The description is usually what takes the time. Each description should be unique. It’s not enough just to copy and paste the same description over again. This product information is seen as updating information by Google – new content which encourages the search engine to search the website, so rewriting website product descriptions can be helpful to your search results. The descriptions should not match other similar websites so the more unique the content the better.

However customers need to be able to match the information to what they are looking for. As much information about the product as possible needs to be included such as dimensions and colour choices.

Using Photos

You might be asked to collect and upload photos. You need to make sure that the website owner has the right to use the photos as they may be copyrighted. You may need to own a copy of an image manipulation programme as many websites have been optimised to suit a particular size of photo. This may also mean always using a landscape-orientated photo as opposed to a portrait photo.

It takes time to get into writing and uploading product descriptions, but once it becomes second nature, it can be a great job. You will quickly find yourself becoming knowledgeable about the products that you are writing about. You will probably be asked to upload a few descriptions and have them checked out before continuing with the work. This is a good idea as you can check that you are doing things correctly before getting too far into the work.

It can take a little time for your boss to check over your work and let you know that you are good to go. They may have some suggestions for you to improve your work. Try and follow them as much as possible and if necessary, have them check over your work again. It is better to get it right from the start than find that you have been doing it wrong halfway through the work.

Pricing

Some companies are looking for a fixed price while others want to pay by the hour. Certainly by the hour will give you a more true idea of how long it will take. Some bosses will want you to achieve a certain target number of product descriptions an hour while others will want to negotiate a price for the whole project. Don’t undersell yourself. Writing product descriptions is hard work and slow going in the beginning while you are getting used to what is expected of you. Your hours will almost certainly be more than you expect.

So, DO

  • negotiate price before you begin
  • make sure that what you are doing is what the vendor wants
  • include the time it takes to resize photos and upload them
  • make every description different
  • act professional in your dealings with your boss

but DON’T

  • be late delivering your work. If a problem comes up then talk to your boss and let them know.
  • just plough ahead without checking that your work is ok
  • get upset if you don’t get things right straight away. Everyone needs to know whether what they are doing is right and this is particularly important in copywriting
  • expect it to be easy straight away
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Day 17: 30 Day Blogging Challenge – Testimonials about my Work

Posted on : 18-02-2016 | By : admin | In : 30 Blog Writing Challenge

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What Others Say

I decided to go into freelance writing following a change in physical circumstances and a realisation that I needed something that meant I didn’t have to stand all day.

The happiest place on earth by Peter Dutton on Flickr CC

The happiest place on earth by Peter Dutton on Flickr CC

I have a steady but not spectacular stream of work and a supportive husband which enables me to keep freelancing. I have enjoyed talking to lots of different clients over the years but have only met 3 in person. I have always tried to ask for testimonials, but not everyone responds. However those who do are very kind and complimentary. My paid work is as a freelance copywriter, writing blogs, web content, product descriptions and anything else that my clients require. The variety of the job is the thing I love about it.

One of my first jobs was for a local website developer. I worked on blog posts and articles on a number of subjects. Lee Davies was a small business owner who built and developed websites local to me and he first asked me to do two articles – one on marble and one about granite. I asked him for a testimonial at the end of a job where he asked me to write some content for his new website and he kindly agreed:

“I have utilised the copywriting services of Sarah Charmley on numerous occasions, and have found that the standard of work has been excellent. Sarah has provided articles and web copy on a wide range of subjects, the content has been focussed and well thought out. Without exception, deadlines for the copy have always been met and in most cases arrived ahead of schedule. Highly Recommended.”

Lee Davies, WebPageOne Solutions Ltd

Thanks, Lee, I enjoyed working with you too. This recommendation has long graced my Portfolio page.

A number of people I have worked for, have never got around to putting pen to paper to give me a recommendation, although I usually try and ask. One who kindly did, has put a review up for me at freelancers.net:

Sarah has freelanced for us on a regular basis since the beginning of 2014 to create product descriptions for our ecommerce website. We have always found Sarah to be a diligent and speedy copywriter, who produces content to a consistently good standard. I would recommend Sarah without hesitation if you are looking for a reliable and good value freelancer.

Clare K.

I began by uploading product descriptions to the website, but was offered the job of social media manager for the website last year. I really enjoy the job, researching and writing regular blog posts on health and promoting them via social media.

I got some great praise about two months after I had started work. They had previously had an SEO company writing their blog posts for them, but they had to come up with the ideas for the posts. I research and write all the blog posts myself. I got this great praise passed on from their other director:

Btw our blogs are WAY better than before, i actually read half of them now, genuinely interesting…

To those of you out there who work with freelancers, if they ask you for a review, do take time to let them know you appreciate them – it can really make a freelancer’s day!

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Five Tips to Finding your Freelance Writing Style

Posted on : 03-02-2016 | By : admin | In : 30 Blog Writing Challenge

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Busy Day by Debra Roby on Flickr CC“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Richard Bach

The internet has opened up a lot of opportunity to writers to earn money from freelance writing. The beauty of freelance is that you don’t have to give up your day job and dive straight in, but that you can use your spare time to explore freelance writing to see if it is for you. One of the most important things you can do is to learn about your freelance writing style. This takes a little persistence and practice, so here are some tips to help you.

  1. Find time to write. Keep notebooks in lots of different places so that you always have something on hand to write on, or use the notes on your phone. This is even better if you are able to sync your notes with your computer because then they will be backed up and you can work on them some more. Even 10 minutes can be productive if you come to it ready to write.
  2. Write about what interests you. Write about an interesting event that has struck you or an interesting news story. Sometimes just a news headline can be enough to spark that creativity. Or you can write a description of an interesting character and put them in a story.
  3. Read. Find out about writing styles. Learning how to structure your work is very important in freelance writing. Read up about how to write headlines and the differences between blog posts and articles. Look up different types of blog posts and work on examples of each type. Practise writing articles. When I began to write, I started by submitting content to a number of websites which would edit the articles before they went up. This was a great way to learn how to do things right.
  4. Follow some writers who seem to be doing things right. You can learn a lot from other people. Be wary of bold claims from some people who just seem to be after your money, but there are some excellent freelance writers out there who give really worthwhile advice. You will also probably be able to follow them on Facebook and Twitter. You can get yourself known to them by commenting on their blog and asking questions. These people can offer a lot of experience and you can learn a lot.
  5. Take your time to learn about freelance writing. If you are interested in building up a career in it, then it is worth spending the effort to research it and find out more. There are some good email courses available but always check out reviews before committing to buying a course.
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Four More Qualities of Successful Freelance Writers

Posted on : 18-09-2015 | By : admin | In : Enjoying Writing, Freelance Writing, Help with Writing, Uncategorized

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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.

By David Turnbull on Flickr CC

By David Turnbull on Flickr CC

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

 

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Could You be a Good Freelance Writer? Part 1

Posted on : 04-09-2015 | By : admin | In : Freelance Writing

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If you think that you have to be a perfect writer to be a freelance writer, then think again. Many of the most successful freelance writers do not consider themselves to be perfect, just good at what they do. Many of them bring other skills to their work, such as the ability to network or to research quickly. So what skills do I think you need to become a freelance writer?

 

Writers' Block

Writers’ Block

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Persistence

Persistence is the number one attribute a freelance writer needs. You need persistence to finish a blog post, you need persistence to keep reaching out to people and companies who need your services and you need to be able to keep going when it seems that you are getting nowhere. You will never know where your next job is going to come from. Persist and you will eventually break through.

  1. Good sense of voice (or able to write consistently in one voice)

This is important if you are going to sell your work. Your ‘voice’ is the tone in which your work reads. Some books are very literary in tone – they use long descriptions, unusual words and it can take a long time for any action to happen. This is a style which some readers like and other readers don’t. Other books can seem easy to read: the action bounces along in quick succession, the characters are sketchily drawn and they do not always take the trouble to draw the characters thoroughly. Neither is right nor wrong and most of us fall in the middle. Both kinds of writing draw readers.

Where do you think you are?

Read a piece of your writing and see if you can discover where you are on this scale. The most important thing is that your voice is consistent – it’s no good starting out literary and ending up friendly and jolly. Developing a consistent voice will help you as a freelance writer.

  1. Grammar and Spelling

Contrary to popular opinion, your grammar and spelling does not have to be perfect, however it is useful to have an idea of how it works. Word processing can pick up most of the problems, but it is not always helpful if the spelling is right, but the word has the wrong meaning, or you don’t know which of the options to choose.

If you are very under-confident in using spelling and grammar, then make sure that you always have a link to a dictionary such as Merriam Webster. Don’t be afraid to google sentence structure to make sure that you are getting it right if you need to.

The best way to make sure that you are getting it right is to ask another pair of eyes to look over it. Even the best writers can make mistakes and we all need someone looking over our shoulder to check that what we are producing is right.

The best advice that I can give to a freelance writer starting out is to suggest that they undertake some writing assignments either on a website or real life which requires an editor to check over their work, before it is published. It is the best way to learn writing styles and to ensure that your writing will be polished and ready to sell when you start taking on clients.

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Freelance Interview with Sarah Arrow of Sark e-Media

Posted on : 29-01-2015 | By : admin | In : Blog, Freelance Interview

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Sark e-Media Logo

Sark e-Media Logo

Sarah Arrow of Sark -Media has agreed to be my next interviewee. I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did.

Name: Sarah Arrow

Writer Alias (if you are willing to let us know)

I have several, including Sarah Stanton, Danielle Stanton, Danielle Field and few others that I’d rather not mention.

How long have you been a writer?

Erm, I’m not sure. I’m not sure that I even like writing at times! However I just can’t seem to leave it alone long enough to allow something else to take over! Rough idea of where you live: I live in Essex approximately 12 miles from London. Which is close enough to love the City, but far enough away to breathe. My house is on a golf course and in the summer I write in the garden, watching the golfers play. The 8th hole is at the bottom of my garden, so the last 10 feet of it is a no-go zone when they play. Sometimes I sneak to the fence and throw a ball back onto the green when they’re not looking.

Are your clients local, global or a mix?

My clients are a mix of global and local. The power of the internet means we can do business anywhere that speaks English.

1. What is the first piece of writing that you remember doing?

My first piece (that I can recall) was an article on Henry VIII. I grew up in East London which is rich in history from the Tudor period. Roads are named after his first two wives and many of the landmarks are related. I found it compelling, yet gruesome to be a Queen in those times and I was thankful to be born now. I still have a fondness for Katherine of Aragon, and I often wonder how England would have looked if she’d have had a son. Did you know she was Regent of the country for a while and she martialled an army to repel Scottish forces? She won.

2. What made you realise that you wanted to write for a living?

It crept up on me! One day I was on maternity leave and playing with the children, the next day I was a blogger! I write prolifically as I’ve found when you do something more you get better at it.

3. How did you get your first client?

My first client came from a blog post and that fascinated me, I wanted to pick apart why that post worked, why the person contacted me to work with them… The rest they say is history.

4. What do you wish that you had written?

Where do I start! Harry Potter (for the money), I wished that I’d written that. I love how children worldwide started to read again with Harry Potter, proving that they don’t need dumbed down writing, but books that make them feel, and understand those feelings. I’d also loved to have written Philippa Gregory’s books, she writes very readable historical fiction. There are so many wonderful women writers, and I’m going to read Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel next and by the end of it I’m sure I’ll wish that I’d written that as well! If it was a non-fiction book, then Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. It’s the book I read the most, I have it on audio and I pick it up at least once a day. I have a handbag edition, a car edition and an under-the-bed edition (for when I lack motivation). To write this book, I’d have had to live a full life and then share my wisdom, and that’s part of the reason I love it so much.

5. What is the one tip that you would give aspiring writers?

To keep writing. The words are no good if they’re in your head. So write them down, type them.. Just get them out of your head and onto the page. Don’t be scared to experiment, don’t think you can’t self-publish as that’s not real writing (look at E.L James she did it and now lives in the centre of London in a fab home), you can do anything you want to do, but if you keep the words locked up… No one will ever know your brilliance.

6. What is your current project?

Aside from my 30 day blogging challenge, I’m writing an alternate history book about a famous English battle. I’ve mapped the book out, the characters and the basic plot and I’ll soon be ready to start filling the pages!

Sarah from Sark e-Media

Sarah from Sark e-Media

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find Sarah at her blog, Sark e-Media where she is currently running a 30 day blogging challenge.

Thank you, Sarah for agreeing to be on my blog. There will be more author/freelance interviews soon so keep checking this page for more details.

Subscribe to the newsletter for up-to-date information on this blog.

If you would like to take part as an author/freelance interviewee then email me at sarahthecreativewriter[at]gmail.com

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Freelance Interview – Meet Anne Wayman of About Freelance Writing.com

Posted on : 23-01-2015 | By : admin | In : Blog, Enjoying Writing

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Anne Wayman of About Freelance Writing.com

Anne Wayman of About Freelance Writing.com

Name: Anne Wayman

Writer Alias (if you are willing to let us know) I use my own name

How long have you been a writer? 30+ years

Rough idea of where you live: San Diego

Are your clients local, global or a mix? Mix

  1. What is the first piece of writing that you remember doing?

A news story for the 6th grade newspaper.

  1. What made you realise that you wanted to write for a living?

I never liked the idea of working in someone’s office

  1. How did you get your first client?

They came to me

  1. What do you wish that you had written?

Still working on stuff.

  1. What is the one tip that you would give aspiring writers?

Write, read and write

  1. What is your current project?

Forum for writers

Anne’s Contact Details:

Anne Wayman

anne@annewayman.com

www.annewayman.com

www.aboutfreelancewriting.com

619 434-6110

Many thanks, Anne for taking part.

There will be more author/freelance interviews up soon so keep checking this page for more details.

Subscribe to the newsletter to get up-to-date information on interviews and other articles.

If you would like to be interviewed as a freelancer or an author, then email me at sarahthecreativewriter[at]gmail.com

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Blog Review: About Freelance Writing.com

Posted on : 19-01-2015 | By : admin | In : Blog

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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.

Anne Wayman of About Freelance Writing.com

Anne Wayman of About Freelance Writing.com

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Are You Using More Freelancers?

Posted on : 25-05-2012 | By : admin | In : Uncategorized

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One of the websites that I consider well worth bookmarking is Freelance Switch. I’m a big fan of the cartoon ‘Freelance Freedom’ by NG Winters which comes out every Tuesday. I

ff51_photoshopmagic

ff51_photoshopmagic (Photo credit: Stefson)

try to catch it every week.

This week there was an article on there that suggested that the global recession has been good for freelancers It was entitled ‘Online Jobs are on the Rise by Melanie Brooks. It did spark a discussion on the nature of poor payment rates for freelancers, but I believe that you don’t have to accept those rates. Better paying jobs are out there. The article made the point that we as freelancers are finding it easier to find work as we no longer have to look in just our backyard. The Internet enables us to search on a global scale for work.

From my own experience, I would say definitely that things are on the up. The UK as a whole is apparently stagnant at the moment, growth is slow and seems almost to be getting slower. However there are signs that things are changing. I have had more offers of work this year already than in the whole of last year, when it felt like I was constantly trying to market myself. Good content writers are in demand and they don’t have to settle for rubbish rates.

The article suggests that freelancers are best placed to take advantage of the market conditions. We don’t carry big overheads we can negotiate quickly and often network with other freelancers so that we can offer extra skills to our customers. We are attractive in that we pay our own taxes and in the UK at least our own National Insurance too.

Let me know in the Comments: do you use freelancers? Do you find them easy to work with? What advantages can we offer to you as a business?

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