Category Archives: Web Writers

How to Profit from Content Writing (What’s Changed?)

Content writing is an ever changing, rapidly expanding profession. How do you profit midst the competition and changes? Influenced by search engine optimization and an audience which has become used to accessing large volumes of content on an instant basis, the content writing market will continue to evolve. Understanding what makes content useful for customers will help one to profit, additionally knowing technological changes will allow a content writer to adapt to these changes and become more marketable.money

Quality Opposed to Quantity

Today content marketing is about writing high-quality informative pieces. With a seemingly unlimited number of sources and endless possibilities for information persons, searching the internet are looking for something useful, informative, and of a high-quality. Gone are the days where the sheer amount of content written with the right amount of keywords alone would drive someone to your site, or service. In today’s market, it is about finding a balance between a solid body of content of high quality and quantity. Content writers as such should shift focus from how much they write to the overall quality of writing. Offering one or two high-quality pieces will further add to a portfolio while at the same time will result in a customer receiving higher benefits than four or five lower quality pieces.

Target Audience: Personal as Opposed to Mechanical

Once upon a time search engines only looked for key words. Content was used to drive people to your website and built solely around a select number of words that the search engines would be able to find. As search engines have evolved, so has the content needed to achieve the same results. In today’s market with ongoing development and sophistication of algorithms that search engines employ, writing with an audience in mind is essential. Experts mainly agree that as search engine optimization changes, content writing will need to continue to become aimed at the audience as opposed to the list of keywords used historically.  Writing informative informational content with the reader in mind will help guide search engines to the content being created.

Link to Social Media

Ignoring social media would be akin to writing and not hitting spell check.  Social media has an influence on not only search engine results but also is a viable way for a content writer to network, and expand writing into new markets. Often persons hiring a content writer also may need someone to manage social media accounts, by offering your social media as an example you can and will find writing work managing others social media accounts. When it comes to driving search engine results to your site social media is essential to increase ratings. As content is shared, tagged, and liked on social media search engine results are increased.  Social media will continue to drive the content market as sites such as Facebook integrate search features, and in app searching becomes used more and more often.

Consistency and Themes

When writing a blog focusing on one or two themes is essential for not only the search engines but also to build an audience. When you are a trusted source for consistent information on a single theme, your blog is visited more often, and you build a customer and audience base. When you shift topics or themes, your audience loses interest or finds you less organized decreasing returning visits.

Staying Up To Date

Content writers should continue to be aware of mobile optimization and app writing. As more and more apps are created writing for these apps evolves. Reading and searching on a cell phone screen appears different than a computer monitor. When using voice search on mobile devices a person interacts more personally than a traditional web search. Finally, being aware of how users will read your content can help you to create the high-quality, user-friendly, informative pieces necessary. Large words, or sentences often will not translate well onto mobile devices. Being aware of technological changes and how your content will be viewed becomes more and more essential.  ~Jenny

Do you think content writing will be more or less profitable in 2016? Why or why not?

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Make a Living Writing Website Content for Companies

Tired of commuting? Don’t like that 9-5 schedule? Wondering if you can make it on your own? If you’re a writer, have you considered writing website content for companies? Here are some things to consider on whether you can make it a go on your own.

Make connections. To get started, you need a network. You can network at your own job, with previous employers, at industry events, alma mater activities, and even in line at your favorite coffee shop. Getting that first, resume-building client can happen anywhere. Be ready by having a stack of business cards on hand and writing examples to share. If you haven’t had your work published yet, get started. With sites like WordPress and Blogger, you can create your own web presence and develop your own writing style without a paid job. After you’ve developed your business and created a cache of clients, you’ll need to keep making connections—this time with other writers because before you know it, you’ll be too busy to do all the work on your own.

Get your back office in order. Sure, you can work from the local coffee shop, perhaps even the one where you met your new client. But make sure you are organized with your work projects, whether it’s through paper files or online. If you’re a contractor, you’ll be working with contracts. Some clients will sign your contracts, others will make you sign theirs. Get a standard contract in order, look into your state’s tax requirements for freelance work, and be ready to answer these questions when you get the call, because companies will ask. Hire an attorney to create a contract template for you. Learn what is and is not a business expense and what you can write off each year on your taxes. Having your ducks in a row in advance makes tax preparation season that much easier.

Be deadline driven. When working on your own, you have to meet your clients’ deadlines. The second you don’t, they’ll find someone else who will. It sounds cutthroat, but it’s just the way work gets done. If the deadline is too tight or you’re overwhelmed with other work projects, be upfront and honest. Ask if you can push the deadline back a few days or see if there is another writer who can handle that project, then let them know when your load lightens up and you’re available again.

 Add some sparkle. You don’t have to throw around pixie dust, but your work does have to stand out from all the rest. Depending on the project, add a creative twist to your writing, show your wit, and constantly remind your clients why they hire you.

 Understand search engine optimization. You don’t have to be an expert at it, you just have to know it exists and how it affects your client. Get input from them on what keywords they need and how frequently they need to appear in your copy. Understand that those keywords change frequently, so you’ll have to ask that question again and again.

Know your client. Yes, keep your sparkle, and yes, know the SEO rules, but you also have to know what your client wants. Maybe one day you’ll be highlighting a client success story on how they set up an international tax agreement, and the next day you’ll author a feature story on the company’s pro bono program. You’ll have to adapt your voice and style to meet the client’s needs.

Ready to try it? Good luck!

~Joanne

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Six Mistakes Writers Make with Your Website’s Content

MistakesWhen you hire a professional writer to create the content for your website, it can be a frustrating and disappointing experience when something doesn’t go as planned. You know your business and brand better than anyone else so it can be challenging to find someone who fully grasps what it is you’re trying to say.

It’s critical that your website’s content accurately reflects who you are and connects with your target audience. Writers, just like anyone else, are capable of making mistakes. Unfortunately when these mistakes are made with your web content, it can negatively impact your business and your bottom line. The best defense is to be on the lookout! Here are six of the most common mistakes writers make with your website’s content.

1. They lose your voice

Your brand and business should have a distinct voice. For example, maybe you prefer a causal and humorous tone. Or maybe your business is more formal and professional. One of the biggest mistakes writers make is forgetting to incorporate this tone consistently into your website’s content. Often this tone gets overpowered by the writer’s voice, leaving you with content that reflects him or her more than it does your business.

2. They leave out key pieces of information

You hold the key to the most important information that should be included within your website’s content. It’s important that you communicate all of this with your writer so that he or she is knows what to incorporate. However, even with this key information at hand, writers will still forget to include it in the content. This might be a part of the history of your business, a particular service you offer or contact information. Check and double check your content to be sure what should be included is included.

3. They make it time sensitive

Fresh website content not only looks professional, but it helps with SEO as well. However, there is a fine balance between creating fresh content and burdening yourself with content that always has to be updated. Writers often make the mistake of not making content “evergreen” – in other words, not writing the content in such a way that it always stays fresh. Mentioning specific dates, numbers and upcoming events will commit you to having to update this content on the regular, – and many business owners simply don’t have the time.

4. They lack a call to action

Your website should drive customers to take some sort of action. The most obvious and desirable action for many businesses is to buy something! Writers make fatal errors for your business when they forget to include clear and convincing calls-to-action within the website’s content. Make sure they know exactly what your call to action is and stress the areas in which you’d like it emphasized on your website.

5. They write too much

It’s true – you can have too much of a good thing. Too much content will overcrowd your website and overwhelm your customers. When presented with long paragraphs and multiple pages of content, many people will tune out completely. You should want to keep visitors on your website as long as possible and encourage them to visit multiple pages. Short and concise content will help lead users through your website and keep them interested.

6. They disregard your direction

Finally and most importantly, writers need to follow your direction. Sure, they may have valuable input and strategy for your content, but at the end of the day it’s your business and your website should read the way you want. A common error that writers make is making the content entirely different than what you described. If you envisioned a fun and conversational tone, but were given content that is stuffy and disengaging, this will completely change the feel of your website – and the feel of your business as a result. ~Stephanie

What do you think? What mistakes have writers made with your content? Share your thoughts!

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Why the Best Web Writers Read Industry News

Read Industry NewsEvery day, we’re inundated with massive amounts of information, from social media to news and television. It can be tempting to tune out all of the noise, but within this communication storm, there’s a lot of valuable information to be found – especially for web writers.

Writers, you need to make time to read industry news.  You’ll find out about the latest trends, technology, new ways of thinking to stay qualified and knowledgeable on a variety of topics.  Employers, the following five benefits should compel you to search for and hire writers and writing agencies that are up-to-date on industry news.

To understand the latest trends

Industry news covers emerging trends. Writers should be able to dialogue about the latest with your blog and social media readers. Creating content based on stale information will result in outdated content that will reflect poorly upon your business. Knowing the latest trends can also inspire your web writer’s with new ideas, angles, and topics.

To understand new technology

Get familiar with the newest technologies.  Can you name five of the ten breakthrough technologies of 2013? You want your web writers to not only be able to write intelligently on these technologies, you also want them to know enough that they can take advantage of any benefits these new technologies might be able to offer them personally.

To remain competitive

Regularly reading industry news will help you to be among the most educated and competitive content creators in the market.  The information learned will give you a cutting edge advantage over the competition. Consuming industry news will also help inform your writers of potential competitor strategies, so that they can help you stay one step ahead with the content you’re publishing.

To trigger new ways of thinking

Industry news often highlights new and innovative ways of thinking. As your writers regularly consume this information, they are more likely to adopt a similar, innovative mindset, which helps writers to produce cutting edge content that grabs a reader’s attention and offers insightful information. For example, reading an article that highlights the ways in which Google+ communities are more effective for businesses than Facebook fan pages will encourage your writers to research deeper into this topic and stretch their old ways of thinking.

To inspire content

In addition to just innovation, industry news can also lead to inspiration. Specifically, reading industry news will help your web writers to get their creative juices flowing. Fueled by inspiration, your writers will be able to produce quality content more quickly than if they lacked the inspiration that so often induces a writer’s block. What they learn from the industry will also help to train them to always keep their eyes and ears open for new content ideas that could be of use either now or in the future.

Within every industry, it’s important to stay in the know on the latest happenings that could affect you both personally and professionally. For writers, industry news helps to identify new trends, share valuable information and keep you competitive in your field. Most importantly, this news can help inspire new ideas and new ways of thinking! ~Stephanie

Share your opinion! What do you find to be the most compelling benefits of writers who read industry news?

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Should I become a freelance, web writer?

Image courtesy of M. Martin Vicente- http://www.flickr.com/photos/martius/

Image courtesy of M. Martin Vicente- http://www.flickr.com/photos/martius/

The Internet has created a plethora of new opportunities. Today’s students aren’t limited to the library and volumes of encyclopedias for research; all they have to do is open Google. IT departments didn’t exist even a few decades ago. And ask most adults age 40 and above, and they can probably tell you when they got their first computer. With the development of technology has come the need for experienced web writers. Some companies keep these positions in-house, but many contract out these services. Should you be one of them?

It helps if you’ve already established yourself as a writer, but that’s not always necessary. If you have the talent, desire, and creativity, you could easily find work through an agency or writing company dedicated to providing web content.

Keep in mind that being a “web writer” can mean a lot of different things. Companies re-create and update their websites regularly and need quality copy. Product companies need general copy to post on their landing pages and product descriptions for every item they sell. Corporations post articles and compelling stories to attract customers. Thousands of email newsletters are sent every day, and there’s a need for writers there. The same goes for blogs. And you could even consider video script writing as a web writing opportunity, since the website is often the main distribution channel. Opportunities abound, but are they right for you?

Characteristics of a freelance web writer may be completely different than one who’s in house. Consider these issues:

  • You may think you work well independently when you have an employer, but when no one clocks you in each day (literally or figuratively), you still have to “show up.” You can work in your pajamas at your home office and no one cares, but you still have to be accessible.
  • How technologically savvy are you? Because tech support is no longer a phone call away. Oh, and don’t forget your CEO hat, business developer role, customer service hotline, and billing department. Yep, as a freelancer you are a one-stop shop and wear a lot of hats, all at once.
  • Having the discipline to start a project and meet deadlines can be tricky when you’re on your own. Your client hands a project off to you and expects you to do it. They don’t have the opportunity to run into you down the hall or stop by your desk to see how things are going. If you have a question that needs to be answered, it’s up to you to reach out to your client.
  • Do you have patience to wait for that great client to follow through? Many web writers have met potential clients that don’t pan out for months, sometimes years.
  • Once the project is completed, do you follow up with your client? The follow up can occur in many ways, such as an email, a quick call or voicemail, or even sending the invoice and requesting any feedback on how to improve your services.
  • Can you afford to go it alone for a while? This is a big question you really need to consider. Maybe you can freelance on the side if your work allows it until you build up some clientele. Consider the cost of healthcare, housing, and food. Think about any outstanding payments you have, such as student loans, auto loans, and mortgages. Make sure you can afford the freedom of freelancing.

If you’ve thought it through and freelancing is right for you, congratulations! Start with your network and go from there, or make contact with My Web Writers for any opportunities that might be available to you.

~Joanne

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Are You Too Lazy to Write Better?

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Image courtesy of Alan Cleaver

Perhaps the biggest myth about writing is that if you’re good at it, it comes easily. People like the idea that a great writer is an inspired genius and the words just flow. Anyone who writes, however, knows that writing is hard work and getting better at writing can take a lot of time, energy, and maybe sweat and tears. If you find that your writing is in a rut or you’re struggling to improve your work, you may be the biggest obstacle in your way. Are you too lazy to write better?

Writing is Revising

Writing well means getting comfortable with the red pen or the backspace key. If you’re not revising your work heavily, you’re probably not getting much better. If you find that you’re getting sloppy with your grammar or style, give yourself a refresher to re-tune your revising practices. Pick up a grammar workbook and test yourself on punctuation and syntax. Read a style manual, such as Strunk and White’s Elements of Style to remind yourself of good writing rules. Then, go over your work with a fine-toothed comb. For example, Richard Lanham’s Paramedic Method is a great revision method for precise writing. If you’re still struggling, find accountability and help in a writer’s circle or a writing partner. Another set of eyes can help you spot trouble areas and give you new ideas. Plus, having someone else’s feedback can help push you to work harder.

Finding the Focus

We all know what it looks like: you sit down to write and before you even open Word you find yourself on Facebook, Pinterest, and CNN all at once. In our highly-connected culture, laziness can sometimes masquerade as busyness. It’s way easier to browse the internet for hours than it is to sit down and focus on your work. Push yourself to set aside a certain distraction-free window or amount of time each day to dedicate solely to writing. A little discipline can revolutionize your writing by giving you mental clarity and freeing up energy for creativity. If you’re having trouble focusing, even when you set aside time just for writing, you might be interested in The Huffington Post’s tips on How-to Focus. Although you’ll definitely want to log-off email and social media while you’re writing, there are ways that your devices can work for you. For example, use add-ons like Google Chrome Stay Focused to limit the amount of time you spend on certain websites each day. Or, the silly site Written? Kitten! rewards you with an adorable kitten once you hit a set wordcount. Learning how to turn-off the distractions can help you free up time to work and get you out of lazy habits.

Staying well-read

Improving you writing might mean improving your reading. The conventional wisdom is that great writers are great readers. Keep abreast of what’s going on in the culture, so you can tap into the pulse and make your writing relevant. In addition to keeping well-informed, make time to read what other writers are writing. Good writers learn from each other. Spend some time reading good books and reading up on what books are garnering critical acclaim or popular attention. Lists such as the New York Times Bestsellers or NPR’s Best Books of 2013 can help you get a sense of what to read. As you read, keep a journal of writing trends, types of images, phrases you love, or techniques to try. While you don’t want to just copy other writers, experimenting with other writing ideas can inspire your own innovations and help your writing grow.

Endurance: Pushing for improvement

Just like with sports, dance, or learning to play an instrument, practice is the key to getting better at writing. If you’ve been working at it for awhile, you might hit a plateau and feel like your progress is stalling. Or, unlike with a workout or diet, it could be hard to see the improvements you’ve made. Take the time to reflect on your work in a writing journal or by rereading your older writing. Create a space to celebrate your progress, but keep pushing yourself. Endurance and the discipline to push harder is the only real way to get better at anything.

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How do I Find and Hire a Great Web Writer?

How to Hire a Web WriterHiring a web writer may appear to be simple and straightforward, yet many people continue to make critical mistakes that cost their business both time and money. It requires a well thought out process to ensure you receive the best writing talent and results for your business.

Both online and in your local community, there’s a vast network of freelance writers ready for hire. Whether you’ve successfully navigated this process many times or this is your first attempt, there are some key things you need to know. Here are five steps you should take when hiring your web writer.

1. Make sure you’re ready for a writer

Is your business truly ready for professional writing help? There are a couple key points you should consider before hiring a web writer. Foremost, you should have a strategy for your content and be able to communicate this strategy to your writer. If you’re still in the “idea” phase, your project may not yet be ready for professional writing help. Additionally, you must have the bandwidth to manage writers. It will require your input and direction to make the project successful, so be sure you are ready to dedicate time to your web writer.  If time is sacred, hire a writing agency to oversee your content project. A dedicated content agency will assist you with all of the necessary details to make the content successful – including hiring and overseeing writers and editors.

2. Define your budget

Before you hire a web writer, you should be fully aware of the scope of the project and your budget to pay for it. There’s a broad range of rates for professional writing making it overwhelming to narrow down the best options. Knowing your budget will help guide you toward the writer that is the best fit for you. It will also allow you to fairly negotiate prices so that both parties are comfortable with the work arrangement.

3. Know where to look

When trying to find quality, freelance writers it can be challenging to even know where to begin. You can look at online networks for professional writers. These allow you to post your project and writers will bid for the work.  Sites to find individual writers include Elance, WriterAccess and oDesk.  Also, think local. Ask fellow business owners for word of mouth recommendations for writers or agencies they have already worked with or search the directory within your chamber of business. References and recommendations will give you that extra boost of confidence that you’re working with a respected professional.  If finding, interviewing, and vetting out writers and editors is a step you’d like to avoid, let a writing agency handle those details for you.  Unlike applicant banks, content agencies usually interact with their writers to make sure that the articles you receive meet or exceed industry standards.

4. Keep your expectations in check

Remember that you’re hiring the web writer to create quality content, not to magically triple your sales or to increase your bottom line. While good content can certainly enhance your web presence and marketing efforts, such results should not be expected solely from your web writer. Manage your expectations and place your focus on the scope of the project which you hired the web writer to complete.

5. It takes more than just a great writer

In addition to keeping your expectations in check, be sure to remember that the type of content you receive is also dependent upon how clearly you communicate with your web writer. Be as specific as possible with your needs and provide all the essential information to your writer. Remember, you know your business better than anyone else. For an outsider writer to convey this in their content, they need your insight and expertise. Aim to be a good project manager – just as you would with any other employee – and provide your web writer with the tools they need to succeed.

A web writer can be a valuable asset to your team. Before you hire professional writing help, be sure to consider these five steps to ensure a productive and enjoyable working relationship. ~Stephanie

Share your thoughts! What good or bad experiences have you had with hiring a web writer?

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