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Posts Tagged ‘content writing services’

Whether you’re already a freelance writer or are interested in becoming one, you likely already know 319196_the_future_2about the feast or famine aspect of this career. Rarely does work come in at a steady pace. Instead, you might be writing for ten hours per day and still barely meeting deadlines for several weeks, followed by a month of listening to crickets chirping away in your home office. Though this disappointing economy certainly doesn’t mean less writing is needed, it does often seem like employers are beginning to spend less on writing than before. This often means you have to search for more work just to pay the bills.

If you have some downtime lately, don’t spend your days freaking out and feverishly calculating your bill to income ratio. Instead, spend your time doing something about your situation. Even if you don’t see results right away, you might find you’ll stress less and feel more productive when you take the fate of your writing business into your own hands.

The first step toward giving your career some new life is updating your resume. Most people don’t tend to do this every month, yet they might lose and gain clients that often. If you have a few older, less impressive, or short-lived gigs, eliminate them from your resume. You should only do this if you can replace them with jobs that are sure to catch the eye of your potential clients. You will need to have at least a few jobs on there to show that you have experience, yet your resume should not be more than a page or two long unless your career has lasted decades.

The next step is sending this resume to as many companies as possible. Check out online job lists everyday, or at least a few predetermined days per week. It is not unheard of for freelancers to spend an hour or more per day scoping out possible jobs. You may choose to spend your first waking hours doing so, as long as you have had enough caffeine to address the right employers in each job you apply for.

Though sticking to a few tried-and-true job lists is great, you might need to step it up. You probably read several websites everyday, whether through your research for articles or your search for the latest celebrity gossip. If you’re like me, it might take you a while to realize that the owners of the website don’t usually write the content; they typically hire freelancers like you. There are a few sites that I used to visit often for research that I now write for, simply because one day, a light bulb went off in my slow, caffeine-deprived brain that made me realize that I was missing out on a major client. Even if you have never seen a help wanted ad for the sites you visit, it doesn’t hurt to contact them with your resume.

346146_web_browserAlong similar lines, you can always post ads advertising your services rather than waiting to apply to jobs to which thousands of other writers have also applied. In fact, I’ve received some of my highest-paying, most loyal clients through ads I randomly placed throughout the Internet. Whether you make a website, post your resume on a job board, or simply place links to your work in your email or forum screen name signature line, you never know who will read your writing. The point is to get out there and market yourself in creative ways if you want your business to stay alive and well.

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1186845_pen-friendMy last post touched on the fact that companies need to look at content as crucial to the success of their website. However, it occurred to me that not everyone knows why that is. This topic fit in with the theme of Webflo Studios, where I provide content writing services, so I wrote a blog over there about the reasons for good website content. Check it out and let me know your thoughts, whether you disagree or have another reason for good content.

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While perusing a few writing blogs,966154_old_typewriter_and_typist I found an article that reminds readers of the importance of quality website content. The author asserts that many business owners put content last during the web design process, often to save money. As a content services provider who works closely with a web design company, I have to admit that we have encountered this situation with many clients. Usually they decide to add web content at the beginning of the project, but eventually decide to spend that money elsewhere, such as on a extra module,  to pare down costs at the last minute.

It’s unfortunate, because while they might save money initially by writing their own content, the site is almost always delayed by weeks or even months because no one in the company wants to write it.  They don’t even know where to begin, and often offer up excuses as to why it’s not done yet every time we call or email. Some clients even give the web design team a tight deadline, and then wonder why they can’t make the site live in the allotted time; we don’t put the site up without content. In fact, we like to have at least one blog or press release ready to go when the site goes live, but some clients don’t understand the importance of this.

I know the economy has only tightened many budgets, but skimping on good content is likely to turn off readers, who are all potential customers. This costs a lot of money down the road. Whether you are a website content provider or just have a website for your business, I’d like to hear your thoughts on this issue.

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Those with full-time jobs often have ways of dealing with their day so that it is more enjoyable, particularly if they are not happy with their career. Though many freelancers are quite happy with their choice of jobs, work is work, and they therefore still need some help in getting through their day. I love writing, but there are definitely days I can’t seem to get started, or perhaps can’t finish what I did start before my break. I have a few ways of making both my jam-packed and more boring days a little more fun (and not to mention more organized).

1.) Desk Calendar


Though I am always on the computer, I find I prefer to make notes and appointments by hand. It is probably more time-consuming and less 601035_sk_lg1organized than simply making a Notepad document full of notes. However, it’s just how I work. I decided to compromise and clean up my desk a little with a giant desk calendar. Not only can I write deadlines and things to do on each day, but I can also take notes about writing assignments. In fact, before I write any business guide for a particular company, I jot down the three main points to write about on some area on my desk calendar. By the end of the month there is so much chicken scratch on the calendar it’s ridiculous, but it definitely beats the piles of Post-it Notes covering my desk.

2.) A Good Monitor


I was getting along fine with my 15-inch monitor for years (actually, 6 years to be exact). But when my husband bought me a 22-inch monitor for 1046708_881141321Christmas, my vision seemed to improve enormously. I can now put two web pages side-by-side on my monitor and still read them easily, which helps when researching while providing content writing services. I could have chugged along for a few more years on my old monitor, but this one just makes my job a little easier. My eyes are thanking me, as well.

3.) BlackBerry


Though I wouldn’t say I’m addicted, I do appreciate the increased mobility my BlackBerry has brought to my business. I can email clients from the pink-blackberry-pearlstore, or even when I’m out with friends. I have also done research for projects while waiting for my car’s oil to get changed. The only issue I’ve found is that it makes it a bit more difficult to separate work from free time. However, when you have your own business, you likely find that sometimes personal issues come up during your normal business hours, as well, so it usually evens out.

4.) Music


I listen to much more music now than ever before, thanks to being alone in my office all day. I find that many people that provide content writing services do the same. I usually alternate between Pandora and the 1151325_listening_to_music2500 or so songs on my PC. I find my favorite artists to listen to while I write are Jack’s Mannequin, Something Corporate, Death Cab for Cutie, Mae, Splender, Lifehouse, Jimmy Eat World, and Keane (to name a few). Of course everyone has different taste, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that some of my favorite authors listen to many of the same bands as I do when they write. Maybe listening to these bands enough will inspire me to write the next great novel. If not, at least I have some good music to listen to while I work.

5.) Caffeine


I don’t know if it is a mental thing or I am just addicted to caffeine, but I typically have some sort of caffeinated drink before I write. 1154374_coffee_preparation_11Last year the drink of choice was Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper, but it was recently discontinued. Since then, I have taken up drinking coffee instead, and I am pretty sure I am not alone on this. I can get through the day without it, but a tasty drink that happens to boost energy doesn’t hurt.

What are your pick-me-ups throughout the day? Whether you’re a freelancer, a business owner, or work the typical 9 to 5 shift, I want to know what gets you through your day.

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I recently wrote a blog about how to prepare to write a great sales letter. Most of those tips were based on both experience and the research I dug up prior to writing one. Along the way, I also found more specific tips about what to put in an eye-catching sales letter. The following are the tips I found to be the most helpful when writing:

1.) Abide by the WIIFM Factor


decisionsBusiness owners are too busy to search your sales letter to find out why they should go with your company. Make it obvious by stating why they should buy from you in either the headline or the first sentence of your letter. This is referred to as the WIIFM concept, because most people reading your letter will be thinking “That’s great, but what’s in it for me?”

2.) Build Trust


143066_hold_my_hand1This might sound difficult to do through a sales letter that’s obviously meant to, well, sell the potential client on your product or service. However, most salespeople build trust without their audience even knowing. The simplest way to do this in a letter is use the words “you” and “your” often. Using the words “I” or “we” can alienate the reader, so keep them to a minimum. Use your words wisely, addressing the reader by name at the beginning of the letter when possible, and speaking directly to their needs.

3.) Promote Your Company


9853_54270506If you have testimonials or endorsements from large companies or recognizable clients, use them to your advantage. You can sprinkle them throughout your sales letter, or have a separate section for them. Either way, make sure they stand out so that even readers who skim your letter will notice them.

4.) Show How You Can Be Useful


28987981_15115946Once you’ve established what’s in it for the reader, throw in why your company can solve the reader’s problem. The second paragraph is a good place to explain your company, specifically how you have helped other clients and what you could do for this reader. Be concise and unique.

5.) Make it Pretty


dsc02065_copy3As much as many providers of content writing services prefer to focus only on the words, other details do matter. Pay attention to formatting, colors, font size, and even paper type. Chances are, once you print out your letter, you will realize your paragraphs are too big, your font is too small, or your logo looks out of place. When you are satisfied with the look, walk away from this project and come back to it a few hours later. Take note of your first impression after your first glimpse at it in hours; you will probably notice some other details that bother you. The formatting and overall look should catch the reader’s attention, and the quality content should keep it.

6.) Include a Call to Action


nokia-60701Now that you have the reader’s attention, you need to tell them what you want from them. Include a sentence towards the end of the letter that requests for them to call or email you. If you plan to follow up with them in a few days, mention that so they can be prepared.

7.) Include Incentives


Though you might hate coupons and special discounts when 1-1198868561ji9a1it comes to your business, most consumers love them. How many times have you decided to get pizza from a particular place just because you had a coupon? A discount could be the final push the customer needs to choose your company over another one, especially in this economy.

8.) Create a Sense of Urgency


1163743_important_letterThe best way to present special pricing is to mention that the reader will get a particular percentage off if they contact you by a certain time. Don’t make the deadline too soon or too far in the future. A month is a good amount of time to expect a response from a reader for them to receive the discount.

9.) Include a P.S.


It seems like most sales letters have a P.S. at the end. You might wonder why they didn’t just throw that bit of information into the33722631_43484502 body of the letter; you’d think by now they’d realize they kept forgetting it. However, a postscript is a great way to keep your main point fresh in the reader’s mind. Usually it has to do with the deadline to receive their discount. This section also works well for those who skim letters; studies have shown that many people read the postscript even if they don’t read the rest of the letter.

10.) Write Appropriately


29992_marking_on_the_cyberbus_1You probably already have an idea of how to write professionally, but that is not all there is to it. Your sales letter introduces potential clients to your company. Therefore, you need to write in a style that matches your company. If you are a somewhat hip web design company, your sales letter should reflect that style. If your company image is very corporate, don’t sound too casual or trendy in your letter. On the flip side, if you sell clown noses or bounce houses, an overly serious letter might seem out of place.

These were the major ideas I gleaned from several websites and my own experience. Got any other tips for writing sales letters, or something to say about my list? Let me know!

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If you are at all like me and constantly have to research while you work, you likely have a few resources bookmarked that help you get through the day. While I do love to Google, I also tend to get sidetracked when I create a new Google search. I usually can’t just stay on the assigned topic for some reason, and when I do somehow finish an article without doing so, I have to go back and investigate something new I saw. Some of these resources help with writing, and some are simply great for finding writing jobs. So without further ado, here are the resources that I always check at least a few times per week:

1) Thesaurus.com



untitledWhen you write about several similar subjects in one day, both you and your reader run the risk of getting bored if you continually use the same few words repeatedly. For this reason, Thesaurus.com (or any similar site full of words) is a content writing services provider’s best friend. An honorable mention in this category goes to the “synonyms” feature of Word, as it always has me right-clicking and perusing their list of unique words.

2) About Freelance Writing



Not only is this blog fun to read, but the author also gathers up all the writing jobs she sees on the Internet and posts them three days per week. This is one of the first writing blogs I read when I started out as a freelance writer, so I seem to have a soft spot for it.

3) Craigslist



I think this place is often underrated. This is another of those invaluable resources that I started using when I took the leap to become a writer last year. Sure, a lot of the posts are people wanting writers to provide content writing services for pennies, but these types of post are merely there for entertainment (or at least I assume they’re joking). One particular post had me chuckling all day; the poster mentioned that his ideal candidate had to have newspaper publishing experience, as well as a master’s degree, and he would pay them $10 per hour. The truly sad part is that he just might have found his perfect writer with this economy, but it seemed an odd request for Craigslist, nonetheless.

Anyway, I did pick up many of my first jobs through this site, and still do browse it. My web designing friends over at Webflo Studios have attested to the same experience through Craigslist. Some of their first and largest clients found them through a Craigslist ad. I think the fact that you can find just about anything and anyone on there makes it both useful and entertaining.

4) AP Stylebook



ap_stylebook_cover I have a few jobs that require me to use AP style, and since I haven’t written consistently in this style since junior year of college, I typically have a few questions. I find that clicking on over to APStylebook.com is much easier than pulling out my bruised and battered 2004 version of the AP Stylebook (and this site is probably a lot more updated). I love the question-answer format, as it is almost as cool as the “cache” feature on Google (actually I admit to using the very similar “Find” function in the browser whenever I visit this page).

5) Common Errors in English Usage



Okay, this website is actually more of a personal site for me than a business resource, but I think that’s justcover because I’m weird. I cannot get enough of this website! When I found it, I wondered if the authors had expected people to read it like a book, because I was. There have been so many times when I muttered some well-known but weird phrase, thought about it for a second, and decided to mosey on over to this site to see if the phrase was even correct.

For example, I wrote “fit the bill” last week in an article, and then stopped, remembering that the previous day a character in a book had said “fill the bill.” I wondered…was this character wrong, or was I wrong? I looked it up and found that, yep, the original phrase is actually “fill the bill,” but like many things in America, it has been slowly changed until it no longer make literal sense. Anyway, I have toyed with the idea of having a “phrase-a-day” feature on my blog in which I write an often misused phrase alongside the real one, but I am assuming not too many people care as much I do. If I’m wrong, let me know!

Either way, I hope these resources can help at least a few writers out there. If you have any you’d like to share, let’s hear them.

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Find out the top 5 traits of good content at my blog for Webflo Studios. I write about mainly content writing services on that site, but I also occasionally delve into marketing and design topics. It’s fun stuff. Feel free to comment any ideas for good content that you can think of.

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