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Freelance Interview – Meet Kevin Carlton of WebsiteCopywritingServices.com

Posted on : 13-03-2015 | By : admin | In : Blog, Freelance Interview

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Kevin Carlton of Website Copywriting Services

Kevin Carlton of Website Copywriting Services

Name: Kevin Carlton

Website: websitecopywritingservices.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Write_Online

Google+: http://plus.google.com/+KevinCarlton

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kevincarlton

Bio: Kevin is a freelance copywriter and blogger with a methodical and no-nonsense approach to writing copy. He is owner of UK-based SEO copywriting service Write Online, which helps businesses large and small get the most out of their online presence.

He also provides insider tips on copywriting, blogging and SEO at his blog Make every word work for you.

 

Writer Alias: None

How long have you been a writer? 7 years – although I’ve only been a full-time writer for about 3 or 4 years.

Rough idea of where you live: West Midlands.

Are your clients local, global or a mix? I have a mix of clients, although the majority are based in the UK.

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

Yeah, this was back in 2008 when I was a proofreader and editor for a local PR company. At the time, they were looking for someone who could write articles about SEO for a client website.

As I’d worked in the IT industry in my previous career, the company asked me if I’d try my hand at writing a few trial articles for them. It worked out really well and I ended up getting more and more writing projects through them.

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

As it happens, I never actually had any ambitions to become a writer.

At school, I was stronger in the sciences and ended up doing a Maths and Physics degree.

When I graduated, I went into automotive engineering before moving into computer programming.

It was only when I decided to work for myself that my career took a completely new direction.

When I first started freelancing, I was a proofreader and editor for several academic publishers.

Then, when I got that all-important writing break back in 2008, I grabbed it with both hands. Instead of checking other people’s content, I much preferred writing it.

But I still also love doing some of the techie bits involved in writing for the web – such as HTML, CSS, PHP and SEO.

  1. How did you get your first client?

As I explained in my first answer, I started writing articles as a complementary service to an existing client.

That’s the thing about many careers – you don’t always get your foot in the door the way you expect.

  1. What do you wish that you had written?

I’m currently in discussions with a client about writing website content for a FTSE 100 construction company.

I’d love to get my teeth into that project. But I may have to decline it because of their working terms.

That kind of writing work is right up my street. So I’d really regret turning down such an opportunity.

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

To make your freelance career a success you don’t necessarily have to the best writer. But you do have to be a good marketer and a good businessman.

That’s how you get well-paid writing work – by getting your name out there to the right people.

  1. What is your current project?

I’m currently project managing a football magazine website, which is due for launch in the next 2–3 weeks. I always get excited when a website I’ve been working on is finally going live.

 

If you are a blogger, freelancer or author and you would like to be featured on our email interview series, then please email sarahthecreativewriter[at]gmail.com and you could be next!

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Why Have a Guest Blog?

Posted on : 01-11-2012 | By : admin | In : Blog, Writing Help for Businesses

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website ideas

website ideas (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

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.

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How to Save Your Website

Posted on : 04-04-2012 | By : admin | In : Blog, Writing Help for Businesses

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Have you ever done this?

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!

Welcome by Claudio Matsuoka on Flickr CC

Welcome by Claudio Matsuoka on Flickr CC

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. 

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Should You Start Your Own Home-Based Business?

Posted on : 11-05-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog

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Image Copyright David Hawgood

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:

Competition

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.

Get Feedback

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 Up-to-Date

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:

Five Reasons to be a Home-Based Worker

How to Find a Home-Based Job

Five Qualities of a Successful Home-Based Worker

 

Photo Link

 

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Some Ideas for When Running a Small Business Gets Tough

Posted on : 05-05-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog

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Prince Andrew

Image via Wikipedia

I loved the Royal Wedding last Friday. The family sat down together to enjoy the day. The bride was beautiful, the dress was gorgeous, the groom was handsome in his uniform and the bridesmaids were cute. The bride and groom appeared to thoroughly enjoy their day and the beginning of their new life together. Most of the people I know sat down and enjoyed the wedding as I did.

Starting a new business can be a little like a wedding.

It’s a lot of work, but you are looking forward to the end result. There’s the excitement of the new ideas that can come tumbling out barely fully formed, there’s the joy of the fun stuff like researching new products, designing new websites and perhaps looking for new premises. There’s the not so fun stuff such as visiting the banks and informing HMRC. Overall it is a time full of promise, full of adventure and full of trepidation.

Then you have to deal with the day to day stuff of running a business. In the service industry, you have to continually find new clients. On an e-commerce website you have to keep your search engine optimisation working as well as you can to bring clients to your website. If you have opened a high street shop, then you need your customers to come through the door. You have to keep your cashflow going and your overheads paid. The shine begins to wear off.

Before you know it, you are struggling to find clients, the website is failing to meet its targets and you are not ranking for any of your keywords in the Google top ten pages. Or you’re faced with a sink full of dirty dishes while your new husband goes off for a sulk over the way you cooked tea…! (It could happen)

What Can You Do?

What you do next will show the stuff you’re made of and whether you’re really cut out to be a business owner. You need to find a way through the slump times and discover a way to bring customers thronging to your door once again.

You can share your problem on the business forums and ask advice from some of the old hands there. You may be able to find a customer or two lurking there as well.

You may wish to read up on your problem. Subscribe to one or two recommended blogs and see what the experts suggest.

Linking and networking with like-minded people can bring help so that you can get your head clear and understand the steps you need to take to remedy the situation.

You may decide to hire somebody like a copywriter or a web designer to ensure that your content and your website are as fully optimised as they can be.

Proactively seek clients, especially if you are in a service industry. Go where your clients hang out and join in discussions. Post your availability and let people know that you are able to help.

Use social networking to increase your customer awareness. Tweet, update your status on Linked-In and keep your Facebook page up to date.

Use a promotional offer to encourage people to buy. Use leaflets to target customers.

Check that your e-commerce website is working as well as it can. Ask friends to check it out and follow up on their comments.

Try a website such wecandobiz.net which encourages networking.

Many of these ideas suggest asking others for help. It can be so encouraging to talk to someone who has gone through this before and is able to share their experience. It can be lonely to be a small business owner, particularly one that is a sole trader. By seeking others out and getting involved in communities then you can find a place to share your problems and also help others.

Don’t give up. Keep going and use every bit of your resources to keep your desire to work for yourself alive. Try and remember a little of the excitement of the first days to help you find the resources to get through these dark days. Every business has its ups and downs – that’s what keeps most of us interested.

Good luck.

Oh – and never burn the dinner when cooking for your new husband!

Have you had some difficulties with your business recently? Perhaps you have just come through a difficult patch or you are feeling low at the moment because things are not going the way you would like. Comment below for a sympathetic ear.

 

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The Simple Guide to SEO Terms

Posted on : 15-04-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog, SEO Help

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Here are some of the terms regularly used in SEO jargon and the simple explanations for them.

Affiliate Marketing – running ads on your website for a company which will pay you per impression or click or lead. There are umbrella companies set up that will enable you to apply to suitable affiliates for your website.

Algorithm – computer programme that is a series of steps designed to solve a problem.

Backlinks – links from external websites leading back to a website. Backlinks should relate to the websites that are being linked and should be one way for the best effect on the search engine results.

Black Hat SEO – Using practices that are not honest to achieve SEO. If you are caught by Google, then your website will be ignored or ‘sandboxed’.

Conversion – The art of turning ads into sales.

CPC – Cost Per Click. This is a measurement unit used when assessing adverts for a website. Often paid by companies to their affiliates. This can also be measured in cost per impression depending on the terms of the agreement.

CTR – Click Through Rate. Way of measuring the effectiveness of ads

Highlighted search results – these are usually paid for, often by a bid process. There are more paid for ads in the right hand column.

Keywords – Words that relate to the subject matter of your website or business. Choosing the right keywords to aim for is important to help your website rise in the rankings.

Keyword Density – This measures how often a keyword appears on a page.

Keyword Research – there are programmes to help you decide which keywords to aim for. They can rank them in the volumes of people who search for them, how difficult it is to rank for them and even how much companies are prepared to pay for them. If you want to use your website to make money then using these programmes is essential.

Landing Page – a special web page or home page designed to help users navigate the website. Can also be a special sales page that an advert points to.

Page Rank – an algorithm that enables Google to list all the websites on the web from the most to the least important based on search results. It measures one way links from websites and if those websites are ranked well themselves, then their links are worth more. Often stated as a number: PR1 will be PageRank 1. The higher the ranking, the more Google values the website.

Rankings – the order of websites returned when a search is conducted.

Search engine – a facility for searching for information from websites. Google is the most popular search engine but Bing is catching up. The websites are listed on pages and it is desirable to have your website show up on the first two or three pages.

SEO – Search Engine Optimisation – Making sure that your website shows up during a Google search for certain keywords

SERP – Search Engine Results Page

Web Content – Articles written about a subject to give a website more informational value. Can include any information put on a website.

White Hat SEO – Practices that are acceptable in the world of SEO.

 

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Top Five Blog Posts Last Month

Posted on : 04-04-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog, Writing Help for Businesses

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Writing

Image by Ed Yourdon via Flickr

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.

Form alliances with your fellow freelances is a great suggestion which can lead to more work for both of you. Find people that you can work with and get alongside them to the benefit of you both.

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.

 

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Starting out as a Copywriter

Posted on : 31-03-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog, Help with Writing

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Photo on Flickr by itselea

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.

Photo Link: Photo on Flickr by itselea

 

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SEO Basics – Choosing Your Keyword Phrases

Posted on : 21-02-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog, SEO Help

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Nutch robots

Image via Wikipedia

Keyword phrases help to define your blog and explain to the search engines what your blog is all about. If you want to lift your blog above others in the same subject, then it is important to get your keyword phrases right so that when customers search for a subject, then your blog is the one they find.

There are two aspects to choosing the correct keywords for your blog: the frequency of the search and the competition for the keyword. You can easily use the Google Adwords tool to search for your keyword phrase. Google Adwords will show you the volume of searches, based in your country for your keyword phrase. It will also give you an idea of the competition for the keyword, grading it as high, medium or low. It is a good idea to write down the information in a spreadsheet so that you will know which keywords will be the best for you.

Checking Out Keyword Competition and Volume

The competition tells you how many other people are trying to rank for that keyword in the search engines. It is generally best to look for medium-ranked keywords which a reasonable search volume. This is not an exact science, however and it is possible for low ranked keywords to have a high conversion rate despite reasonably low searches. It may be best to leave such experiments until you are more familiar with the process.

Once you have a list of keyword phrases that you would like to rank for, then try and work out a list of potential articles that could include one or more of your keyword phrases. I tend to do them in groups of ten. You can use forums, internet questions and the phrases themselves to help you work out a list of articles.

Write  a Natural Article Around Your Keyword Phrase

When writing an article, keep your chosen keywords in mind, but don’t overuse them. Write naturally, in a readable style about the subject, including useful information, bullet points and sub-headings. Once you have finished writing, then go back and check over your work. You are looking for an easy to read style with the words you are aiming for used four or five times over the work. The writing should be between 400 – 600 words. You can use your keyword phrases in the sub-headings and picture captions as well as in the body of the text. It should be obvious what the article is about, just not unnaturally stuffed with the words that you are trying to rank for.

Write Frequently

If you are able to write two or three posts, so much the better. A website will rank better in the search engines if content is added frequently and regularly. This blog is updated three times a week. Other blog owners prefer to post every day. You should at least aim for once a week, but bear in mind the more frequently you post, the more likely it is that your website will rise in the search engines.

Check Your Stats

Keep an eye on your website statistics and check regularly on the search engines to see how you are doing. You may have to adjust your keyword phrases if they do not seem to be working for you. Expect this to take a little time. The older the website, the more likely the search engines are to trust it.

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Why Do I Need Search Engine Optimization?

Posted on : 21-01-2011 | By : admin | In : Blog, SEO Help

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Photo on Flickr by crystaljingr

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

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