6 Skills that Make Freelance Writers More Marketable

Freelancing is one of the best ways to earn both money and experience as a commercial writer. You get to work from home, design your own schedule and set your own pace. But for these reasons, the number of people looking to freelance is unsurprisingly large.

If anyone wishes to stand out from this immense mass of wannabe freelance writers they would need to learn to develop skills that make them notably more capable of publishing better content than others. Such skills include:

  1. EXPERIENCE – Having professional experience in commercial writing will be a great aid for those looking to be hired by more clients. Even beginners may have some experience through unpaid internships. While applying for work, make sure to submit any certificate or employment records you might have. This will make you stand out as the client will see you as a candidate who is well versed in the art of writing content. If possible, create a portfolio with your best work and present it at an opportune time so that the client gets a full understanding of your skills. Keep sample works prepared at all times for readily presenting it to the interested clients for their consideration.
  2. SEO SKILLS – The purpose of displaying content on a website is to get the page to rank high in the search results. Clients hire content writers for producing relevant, quality content to keep the attention of the readers. A content writer with knowledge of how search engines work, and how to influence search rankings will prove to be very useful and the clients are aware of this. Educate yourself about SEO and learn how to work with it, and use the internet to do so. Read up on the importance of keywords and how to use them. Inform interested clients of your SEO skills by putting it in your resume or online portfolio.
  3. SUPERIOR RESEARCH SKILLS – Potential clients will demand to know about your research skills since research is of utmost importance in this sphere. They may assign a topic to you to test your capability of conducting a relevant and on-point research or they may ask detailed questions about your previous experiences doing it. For a freelance writer it is absolutely necessary to be well practiced in studying extensively about topics before writing about them. Having access to electronic library databases makes this easier. Using other online resources like Google Scholar also yields beneficial results for thorough research on most topics.
  4. EXPERIENCE IN PHOTOGRAPHY AND/OR PHOTO EDITING – Some clients want text along with photographs for content. Having some experience in photography paired with knowledge of an advanced photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop may help you to get hired by clients who would not be willing to hire you otherwise. The ability to shoot and edit images to cater to the needs of the client will attract more employers. Apart from this, experience in photography and photo editing also distinguishes freelance writers from their peers because adding a suitable picture to written content makes the article more attractive and easy to read.
  5. BASIC KNOWLEDGE OF HTML/CSS – Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are used to design the look of the content on a webpage including the title, body, header, footer, font, font colors, text size etc. Being proficient in these web languages will help your chances in the market. Even a basic knowledge will make you stand out from most of your competition and help you qualify for more commercial writing jobs. Websites like the World Wide Web Consortium can be useful for this purpose as they provide free classes for beginners to learn HTML and CSS and get a clear understanding of how to use these while writing content.
  6. CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (CMS) – Although this skill is easily learned, knowledge of how to operate a content management system like WordPress may prove to be very advantageous. There are some blogs and e-zines which require the writers to submit their content through a CMS login profile as opposed to sending it via emails or content hosting networks. Websites like WP101 and LearnWordPress provide free tutorials to help you learn the how-to of one such CMS.

Content – Silent Salesperson of the Virtual World

A salesperson can come in the picture in case of brick-and mortar-stores. But what about online businesses? On a regular basis, we read and hear news about successful online business or for that matter standard industries moving to the virtual world to expand their market. Have you wondered how these online ventures are flourishing minus a salesperson? How are the sales figures rising up when there isn’t any one to do the talking?

Let’s explore.

Content is King – clichéd but true!

While words have no audible voice, but they sure do convey a lot including opinion, idea and thoughts. Therefore the quality of content is not to be compromised or negotiated if you plan to make your online presence felt. No wonder, content is called the king, especially in the online arena.

Grabbing Attention Online

With short attention span and hordes of distraction over the Internet, the only thing that can catch a consumer’s attention while surfing online is good content.  There are no fancy store displays, banners, hoardings, newspaper ads or television ads that are hard to avoid or miss. However, on the plus side you have access to millions of users that are active on the Internet, far more than let’s say television or magazines. All you need to do is offer something distinct that can grab eyeballs and is exclusive in nature. It could be anything. A quirky one line, confusing tag line, attractive punch line, hard-to-believe claim, funny video, striking visual art, amazing contest, attractive graphics or private peek at your newest offering.

Like take the case of Femina-India. Femina’s April, 2013 ‘Made by You’ issue was completely crowd sourced where readers from across the country contributed feature articles, stories etc.  A special Facebook App was developed; using which people could register and submit their stories. The idea created waves in the social circuit and needless to say the subscription of Femina skyrocketed. Lesson learnt that, complete reliance should be on producing good quality ideas and let your content do the talking.

Website Content

Next in the line is content on the website. What strikes you first about a website is the look and feel of it. But what keeps you interested in that website is the content and products/services on display. Everything that a consumer is entitled to know and figures out after walking into a store gets conveyed via words when shopping online. Right from the brand name, products & services offered, detailed description, updated company information, terms and conditions, return & cancellation, warranty, etc. Accuracy of information is of utmost importance. Hence content plays a key role here as it dons the hat of a store manager-cum-salesperson-cum-virtual store.

Social & Digital Media

Only an ignorant won’t know that active Social & Digital Media presence is highly imperative in this dog-eat-dog-world. Not to forget that they are excellent avenues to earn you new clients and retain the old ones. This is how again, good content makes an appearance. Content rich blogs and active social networking company accounts where company heads and employees share their experience and knowledge with the readers are a hit! They help companies network and enable healthy exchange of feedback, ideas and views. Regular Facebook updates, tweets, LinkedIn posts, updated Blogs, viral videos on YouTube, and Webinars takes brands to another level.

Take for instance, Zappos, retailer of shoes, clothes etc, have a huge online fan base because everyone right from the CEO to the rest of the employees are active on social medias like Twitter, Facebook and their Company Blogs.  Same is the case with IBM, who share interesting anecdotes and behind the scenes facts in form of blogs.

Why focus on online content?

No one can deny the fact that ‘Sales’ is the driving force of any business. Each and every activity of any business – be it a truck manufacturing company to a start-up selling graphics tees, be it a minute promotional activity to a major financial strategy, is directed towards building sales of a product or service or company as a whole. That’s why anyone who wants efforts to get converted into profits; it is wise to invest in building good content about your brands, services and company as a whole.

Several research studies reflect that dead websites and dead social accounts reflect negatively on the business. Even if you have 50 loyal visitors, it is important that they get updated and good content to read. Or else you might end up losing them too. So spin magic with words and the rest will follow soon.

Freelance Writers, Quit Getting Paid Peanuts!

Freelance Writers, Quit Getting Paid Peanuts!

As a beginner in the field of freelance writing, there is one thing you must have figured out – finding work is not the problem; finding high-paying work is. So what have you done about it? Are you working jobs that pay peanuts simply because you thought that’s all you could make as a freelance writer?

You couldn’t be further away from the truth. It is very much possible to have a lucrative career as a freelance writer – even with all the competition. What you need do is pay close attention to a few basics.

1.  Start Blogging

Yes, it is hard work. Yes, you have to keep it updated and ensure its quality. But starting your own blog will help your build brand and spread awareness about your services like nothing else can. Also, try to get yourself a professional blog with a premium domain name. Bear in mind that xyz.com makes a greater impact on your potential clients than xyz.wordpress.com or xyz.blogspot.com.

Design a “hire me” page meant to scare away low-budget employers. This may sound almost arrogant, but it will go a long way towards ensuring that you only attract clients that can pay you what you are worth.

2.  Identify your services

Your potential employers are not looking for ‘freelance writers’. However, they are looking for ‘content marketers’, ‘copywriters’, or ‘technical writers’. Your clients think about their goals, not your process. If they need a professional white paper written, for instance, they will contact a professional white paper writer rather than a ‘freelance writer’ who writes about everything.

By assuming the generic label of a ‘freelance writer’, you may well be denying yourself some high-paying offers. Identify your area of interest and expertise and start advertizing for those particular areas – such as posting articles relevant to these areas on your blog.

3.  Research potential big clients

You will have absolutely no trouble seeking out clients on content aggregator sites. However, the time and effort saved on research is used up in writing scores of articles that ultimately pay you much lower than what you could potentially earn by pitching directly to high-paying clients. The smart move, thus, is to quit hopping around bidding sites and freelance job

The smart move, thus, is to quit hopping around bidding sites and freelance job boards and instead invest your time and energy in finding your own markets.

4.  Market yourself

Remember the golden rule: freelance writing is more about marketing than about writing. You may have a flair for writing, but without effective marketing, you will not receive your fair share of payment. Social media has today emerged as a key marketing tool for businesses and services big and small. Maintain a good online presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Post regularly, share relevant

Maintain a good online presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Post regularly, share relevant material and link to all your published work. Good marketing is key to attracting clients in greater numbers – which allows you the luxury of choosing high-paying ones.

5.  Do not rely on a single assignment source

Already have your first client? Great! But remember to keep aggressively marketing yourself. This not only ensures you have a safety net but also keeps you informed about the availability or lack thereof of higher paying opportunities.

It may take months, sometimes close to a year to find a niche as a high-paid writer. The research and target-pitching route is indeed slower. But it is most definitely more lucrative.

Would you rather be rummaging around among the low-hanging fruit just waiting to be snatched up by anyone with a keyboard or would you patiently wait to reap the higher rewards?

Location Independence – Travel Far, Live Well, Work Hard

Location Independence – Travel Far, Live Well, Work Hard

The internet has ushered in a new era of independence in thought, speech and the expression of both. Lifestyles have changed and we can do things previously thought of as impossible. Of the many new grounds internet has broken, location independence is a particularly freeing one. People no longer have to work 9-to-5 in a cramped cubicle, reporting to a boss or a quota that gets more and more draconian. The internet allows people to set up businesses that live entirely online while offering them tangible benefits. These entrepreneurs have now become something else, something new – digital nomads. These two terms, and a few more that crop up in any study of location independence, are interlinked and will be explained further.

Digital nomads

Digital nomads are people that harness the power of the internet to both works and travel extensively. The near-worldwide presence of the internet means that if you set up a successful business online, you can run it from anywhere – and you get there by being a traveler. A lot of factors are in favor of digital nomadism: two of the most important ones are location independence and arbitrage.

Location independence

Location independence is the practice of using the internet and other technology to live and work from wherever one wants. Some professions may have more location independence than others. For example, freelance writers can trot the globe writing online or for anyone willing to buy their writing. However, with a little creativity, a lot of other professions can also enjoy location independence. If you set up an internet business, you can run it from anywhere.

Arbitrage

Arbitrage is the practice of using disparities in markets to one’s advantage. In simple terms, this means that you reap benefits from an inequality that exists in the system. One of the best examples of this is exploiting exchange rates. Digital nomads from the first world live lavishly in countries where the exchange rate is in their favor. Steve, an entrepreneur, writes in his article about location independence about living large in Thailand at a fraction of the cost of the same lifestyle in the US.

So what does this have to do with you?

It is by no means advisable to quit one’s day job in the hopes of living the life of a digital nomad. It still takes a lot of guts and hard work to be one. Apart from prerequisites to making money (such as having a successful blog or business), there are also the questions of long-distance relationships, work visas, international insurance, sending children to school, etc. Traveling frequently and living from a suitcase may not be all that appealing when you

Traveling frequently and living from a suitcase may not be all that appealing when you realize the downsides of it.

The lure of living free and traveling at will is certainly worth the effort, but one must not underestimate the legwork that goes into it. However, you can certainly implement location independence in your professional life at least to a certain extent – who wouldn’t want to go on fabulous vacations and forget about work for a while?

Why is Contract Review Important?

Contract Review

When you’re running a business, it’s important to make sure that the contracts you sign, and that you draw up to guarantee labor, expertise, or supply of goods and raw materials actually get you what you want, and don’t leave you liable for additional costs that you’ve not budgeted for.

In situations like this, not seeking legal advice is very much a false economy that could come back to bite you when you are least prepared for it. While you could make an appointment with a traditional business lawyer, there is a new breed of law specialists making life easier for people running a small business: people who might not have the time or budget to schedule an hour meeting with a lawyer whenever they want to have a contract or letter checked over.

Online lawyers are increasingly an attractive option: allowing you to schedule times to suit your needs and conduct your legal business without leaving your desk. If you need to have a single contract checked and returned to you promptly, this is likely to be by far a favorable option for you.

When a lawyer reviews a contract for you, they are making sure that any number of common sense provisions are included, and described in the correct legal language. It’s very important to make sure any agreements you’ve made in the course of negotiations are included in the contract: while you may discuss terms, concessions, and amounts while you are making a sale, or being sold to, the only way to guarantee you will actually receive those things – or give you yourself any legal recourse, is to make sure they are included in the contract you actually sign. The contract supersedes any informal discussions or emails you exchanged before.

A contract review, then, gives an expert in contract law access to your contract to break it down and then explain to you in layman’s terms exactly what that contract will get you. If this doesn’t match your expectations, you’ll need to get the contract amended before signing. If someone is trying to push you to sign a contract before you’ve had the chance to have it reviewed, this can be a sign that you need to read it in detail more than usual: there is no such thing as a ‘standard contract’, and you need to make sure it is specific to you and your situation.

How to Revive a Dooming Startup?

How to Revive a Dooming Startup

Having a start-up of your own is no more an uncommon thing. But sustaining it is a challenge at which many fail. To find that right balance between product, market, capital and employees is not a cakewalk. But do not feel dejected as failures are the stepping stones to success. Edison failed 1000 times before inventing the electric bulb. When asked about it, he said that he discovered 1000 ways by which a bulb cannot be made! Achievers need to have that kind of an attitude.

If your startup is on the verge of extinction and you are thinking of giving up on it then take a deep breath and rewind a little bit. The solution is hidden in the problem itself.

Two simple and best strategies to pump life back into your dying startup is are

  1. Re-evaluation
  2. Redefinition
  • Re-evaluation

Before taking any other hurried step re-evaluate the whole business first. This is crucial for the healthy growth of the company?. Re-evaluation helps in finding the root cause of the problem. It is basically self-assessment. The problem should be known first to find its correct solution. While re-evaluating keep in mind the following points.

  1. Vision

Is the company going in the right direction? Deviation from the determined path leads to chaos and ultimately failure. Focus is necessary. Check whether it has stayed up to its purpose, whether the right services and products are being delivered to the customers.

  1. Employees

The people who work for you are of prime importance. Your prosperity lies in their happiness. Workplace environment should be friendly and relaxed. Everybody is already enough stressed these days, work shouldn’t add to it. Are they able to deliver their 100%? For that right people must be hired for the appropriate job profile. Check for any moles who are leaking your trade secrets. Ditch the rotten apples!

  1. Market

Business will prosper if the right audience is targeted. Once you have found the perfect audience for your product then work on customer satisfaction. Happy customers will lead to increase in repeat purchases and the company’s reputation too will grow. The trust factor is very important. Customers are difficult to please. Competition cannot be eliminated completely. Give time. Be patient. Customers will soon flock towards you.

  1. Product

Product is the face that represents a company in the market. Is it unique? Is there no one else providing the same service at a better price? If these questions have positive answers then this is not your problem area.

  1. Process

Process should be cost effective and efficient. The business structure should be aimed at producing high-performance products and services. Policies shouldn’t be hindering the growth of the company.

  1. Money!

Finances, capital, inputs, costs all mean the one and the same thing, money! This is the most important factor to be considered?. Businesses fall down because of improper utilization of money. Shortage of money results in ugly cost cutting strategies which bring only loss to the company. Check whether cash is flowing in or not. Is the company in a loss making condition? Are you too indebted?

Once re-evaluation is done, the problem area will be known. The work is difficult till this point only. After that, all the failing startup needs is a bit of redefinition! Then be it financial crunch or dissatisfied customers or employees, every problem has a solution.

  • Redefinition

After the problem is sorted out, start working on it. This is when the whole face of the company is changed, new plans out to action.

Life is full of small and big bumps. These little bumps make us who we are at the moment. Look around. Every face has a story to tell, a story of their hardships and how they have managed to sort their lives despite all the upsets of life. Every failure is a story of your commitment and determination to do your task and not give up instead.

If everything in life comes easy to you, you will never learn anything. So, the more ‘waves’ the sea has, the better you get at sailing. Everything takes experience and patience.

Never treat challenges as obstacles in your life, use them instead to build character. Every experience polishes our personality and makes you better.

Just because the sea is calm and you are able to control the boat, you cannot call yourself a professional. It takes a stormy experience to realize that the practice you had in the calm seas cannot make your sail in the rough waters smooth. A skillful sailor is one who pushes through the storm and refuses to give up, someone who is able to manage to move forward.

Sometimes a bad incident hits to open our eyes to the good things and makes us realize their worth. We need to appreciate what we have, and let go of things which hold us back.

Also, have ambitions. Wish for the impossible. If you wake without a goal, go back to sleep. The passion for something is what keeps you going. Cut down the excuses and make sure you get up and do it. NOW. Because there would always be the ‘later’ time.

Keep on checking yourself. Keep on motivating yourself. Mistakes are opportunities. Look at them, own them, grow from them and move on. Do better, be better.

If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.

Never limit your playtime, even if your brain is telling you otherwise. All of your best stuff comes from it if you allow yourself to remain open to the unknown.

Expand your horizons.

‘There’s nothing we really need to do that isn’t dangerous.’ Do the things that scare you on a regular basis. ‘Cause on the other side of fear lies freedom.

Success does not come easy. It takes an effort to reach the top. If everything was served to us on a silver platter, we would never bother to learn anything new at all. We learn when we make a mistake when we break a pattern when we experiment and fail. We learn not when we do everything right or the way the society wants it to be done.Without failure, success has no meaning. Behind every successful

Without failure, success has no meaning. Behind every successful attempt, there are many unsuccessful attempts.

Hope this article helps and guides you through all your problems.