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.

Sticky Blog Posts: 8 Tips for an Effective Post

make a blog post stickyFrom the beginning of my blogging career one thing I believed which I was right about was creating a sticky blog, but still I really didn’t know the exact meaning of stickiness, like most people today I believed that a blog can be called as sticky based upon its design, but I recently found out what really a sticky blog is, its the readability and usability of a blog.

Certain aspects of a blog such as bounce rate, page-view’s and avg time which are crucial for making money depend upon the stickiness of your blog. As I mentioned above, stickiness has no relationship with your blogs design, its your blog posts which have to be optimized. I could never find the exact definition of sticky blogs, but the meaning is pretty clear and has developed over time, its something which causes an attraction to a particular blog post and keeps the reader interested till the end. In this post I’ve managed to compile everything that would make your post look attractive to your readers.

The title of the post

Many of our forefathers have said never to judge a book by its cover, but I think these are a few human instincts that are unavoidable.  For us bloggers this is one of the best ways to take advantage of our readers. Whenever I come across an attractive title I can never resist visiting the post to skim it to see if it is of any interest.

I once used to be very bad at this, but after reading blogs such as Budgets Are Sexy and Punch Debt in The Face, I got the touch of choosing attractive titles and very soon I deployed it on my own sites. The most attractive titles include lists and case studies, but looking at my experience, small blogs usually do well if the titles seem like personal recommendations.

Maybe this is because people expect blogs to be more like personal diaries instead of just guides, your content inside doesn’t matter, but your title must not sound like a guide. For example, instead of ‘How to use Stumbleupon’ I’d write ‘How I generated 20000 visitors from Stumbleupon’. I’m sure most of you would find the second one more attractive.

The font of text – stay simple but unique

The one thing that your readers value most is your writing, so as a blogger you’ll have to make it as clear and attractive as possible. The usual times new roman or ariel which are used in most blogs aren’t bad, they are clear and readable, but it doesn’t seem attractive as we read the same format everywhere online and offline.

Interlinking new posts with old posts

I have recommended this in many of my posts in the past, but I myself am not able to do this due to lack of time. When I started to implement this my bounce rate went significantly lower than when I first started. I saw instant change in my bounce rate when I was interlinking posts and it surely improved user experience, they usually left my site only after a few clicks here and there, so this means an increase in the posts stickiness.

Other than this there are many other benefits of interlinking blog posts, some include SEO, increased ad impressions and higher rankings in Alexa and Compete, but the main benefit is for user experience. I have seen many blogs which interlink posts using an automated interlinker, this is literally of no use as some of the content it is linked to is not even relevant.

Wikipedia is one of the most popular sites on the internet and at the same time the one of the stickiest, one of the main reasons is each and every article is interlinked with hundreds of others. You’ll find instant award winning success if you can implement this on your site as well.

Highlighting important facts – making it easier to understand

Like all other readers I never feel comfortable or get the time to read through an entire post and I bet most of your readers are like this as well. So if they fail to see the most important part of the post, then your entire hard work will be ruined. Moreover your readers will prefer reading your posts more than other blogs if they are engaging and well structured.

They won’t openly admire this concept of yours and very few would feel the benefit of doing this, but in the long run if any reader of yours is asked to choose which blog he likes on your competitors and you, then I’m sure that the answer will your blog. There are many ways to highlight, the best way is to bold it, or maybe even use italics on a particular keyword. Some blogs even use colors for this purpose.

Write like a human being

If you’ve ever taken a grammar class then I am sure you know what I am talking about when we discuss, first, second and third person. This has a great influence on your readers and it somehow motivates them to keep reading. The main purpose of this blog is to engage you to take action and provide you some useful tips. 

That’s why I recommend affiliate marketers to use the word ‘You’ and personally refer to the reader. This is speaking as the first person and second person. You can see the below example and judge for yourself on which one of these has a bigger impact on your mind,

  1. Get this software for an amazing 50% off and also get double the amount of bonuses for free
  2. Hey! If you buy this software today you’re sure to get an amazing 50% off and you also stand a chance of getting bonuses for free which are double the price.

Putting up the word ‘You’ creates a feeling in the reader which makes him closer to you as he would feel that it’s you who is speaking out directly to them.

Related posts

Another way to interlink new posts with the old ones is with the help of showing links to other posts related to the current post, if you have a huge volume of articles, then this is sure to increase your stickiness. Your readers will be able to delve into other posts on similar topics, which you have nicely laid out for them.

This is usually the best way to send traffic to your old posts and keep them relevant as you progress in your blogging career.

There are many more plugins and widgets available for this and many more ways such as popular and recent posts. This is still a very simple system but very effective when it comes to blog stickiness.

Images – a crucial element for a sticky blog

I have seen many blog posts which contain great content and most have followed all of the above methods, but if you remove their images used in those posts, the post is not as attractive as it once used to be. This too is a strange activity of the human brain, most of those images aren’t even related to the post, but somehow it adds a special effect to it.

So the images don’t have to be directly related to the content you write, but must be of high quality and of a bit lower intensity. So if I write a post about website traffic I’ll put an image of a road filled with vehicles, its of no use, but makes your post look really attractive.

I usually get my images from Flickr which has got a huge collection and I do give credit to those image owners in the end of my post. Just search for a similar keyword on Flickr and I’m sure you’ll find a hell lot of images related to your blog post. These images aren’t hard to judge, I’m sure anyone can find out what looks good on your blog.  I use the ones that have creative commons licenses available for commercial use.

Attractive color shades

Over the past year, I have come across thousands of websites some which were not well designed and some well designed.  One element that stood out the most was the effective use of colors, colors were not clashing and they seemed to compliment one another.

Most of these have been done with the help of 3 different color shades, one for headers, one for sub-headers and maybe another for links. Whatever style you use there isn’t an exact format for this, you just have to put your creativity to the test and test out different colors.  Take a look at where I started.

Original Logo - This that and the mba

If you could take a close look at the logo at the top of the page, you’ll notice the different color shades which makes this site look awesome and seems really sticky, but this just came out of a simple concept in my head.  The tweaks in designs I have used here aren’t very tough to do, all you need is creativity and patience to test.

On to our readers

Stickiness is one of the features of a blog which can not be analyzed, it is basically on the human judgement and whatever feels attractive to you, so there is no definition for it. If your repeat visits increase and your affiliate sales, then you can be sure that your blog’s getting stickier. 🙂

I’ll be glad to post more on this topic, if you have any suggestions, comments and questions please feel free to to use the comments section below and to to keep up with future posts on topics surrounding web design.

If you are a regular reader, you probably notice that I do not focus on the design side of the site,  Well I have a collection of posts written that I have scheduled that revolve around the theme of Successfully Starting a Blog.  I hope it will be a resource for you to refer to as you grow your

Guide to successfully start a blog

online presence. 

This post coincides with the launch of our latest resource for you.

Take a look at our new resource section:        The Complete Guide: How To Start a Successful Blog


Why Private Cloud Hosting?

private cloud hosting solutionsIT infrastructure no longer scales as an internal physical presence within the four walls of any organization, however big or small that organization may be. Global communications networks intertwined with the evolution of consumerized technologies dictate that cloud computing solutions offer the best IT agility, flexibility and speed.

Integrating business operations with strategic precision takes a powerful computer network, optimum hardware performance and expert resourcing. It is not possible for any company to keep up with the requirements of a global online audience, across vast Internet networks and collaborative systems, when running a physical IT infrastructure hosted in-house.

However the requirement and significant challenges for many organizations is keeping control of their own internal IT functions.  Here, choosing a private cloud computing provider like nScaled, offers the greatest levels of flexibility and speed, whilst facilitating management of your own dedicated server stack, for streamlined IT efficiency and decision-making.

Unlimited Scalability – Moving from a physical infrastructure to a private cloud hosting solution provides optimum scalability of IT as both a flexible in sourced and outsourced function. Private cloud hosted environments give organizations immediate and constant benefits of cutting-edge hardware, integration software and network speed/agility. Without needing to pump capital expenditure into expensive and quickly outdated technologies, a business can create significant opportunities for growth around staff efficiency and optimized data centre management.

Expert IT Resources – With a private cloud hosting solution you minimize the need to hire staff for hardware storage, backup procedures, and disaster recovery and virtualization tasks as part of running your overall IT infrastructure. Utilizing the resources of an outsourced hosting provider also maximizes resource capacity as virtualization expertise and optimum network bandwidth are managed remotely without impacting you, your staff or your customers.

Total Compliance – Running a private cloud hosted IT stack as a managed service maintains compliance, adheres to government regulations and industry standards on data privacy. Giving you total peace of mind that your systems and information processes are appropriately regulated, secured and monitored for internal and external stakeholders only.

Security – The resilience and security of a private cloud hosting service cannot be matched by anything ‘owned’ in-house. Private cloud hosting providers maintain optimum efficiency of IT services through dedicated resourcing and load balanced infrastructure. They alleviate bottlenecks and troubleshoot IT issues before they ever impact the user and operate robust backup/disaster recovery procedures that maintain services across multiple operations and sites.

All at a fraction of the cost of doing so with any internally managed IT stack. This significantly increases productivity and end-user confidence across all levels of the business.

As a scalable asset to your organization, private cloud hosting provides three key advantages.

1. Major reductions in capital expenditure.
2. Minimized internal IT resource requirements.
3. Optimum utilization of hardware and software in the cloud.

These advantages scale IT to infinity, freeing up floor-space that was previously required by your physical IT footprint, which in turn significantly reduces energy costs and resource headaches.

Ultimately, private cloud hosting creates an environment in which the capital expense of IT is greatly reduced, whilst self-management and hardware selection remains consistent to your needs. This creates the best possible framework for scalable IT operations.

For day-to-day IT infrastructure management and the fine-grained control of computer resources, private clouds enable any size of organization to transform operational efficiencies that achieve optimum performance levels, as key technologies develop around astute online communities.

By turning to a hosted provider for your private cloud computing needs, you elevate your business to meet the many challenges that a globalised technology oriented staff and customer base put on you each and every day.


How to Get a Good Domain Name

New LogoThe first step in getting a good domain name, is deciding on the right one. Make it fit for the purpose you have planned. Should your website appear to be edgy and fresh, or mature and respectable? Should it advertise your service? Next, check it is not already in use and register it, with a registrar like GoDaddy.com or register.com. The cost of registering will vary according to the company and its services. Most will only accept either PayPal or credit cards as payment. When the process is complete you can start building your website and attracting visitors.

Make it fit for the purpose you have planned. Should your website appear to be edgy and fresh, or mature and respectable? Should it advertise your service? Next, check it is not already in use and register it, with a registrar like GoDaddy.com or register.com. The cost of registering will vary according to the company and its services. Most will only accept either PayPal or credit cards as payment. When the process is complete you can start building your website and attracting visitors.

A domain name, is part of the system that web servers use to assign addresses to web pages. Your domain name is like your phone number, a direct line to your website. It’s also a user-friendly way of breaking down strings of complex data, allowing us to use terms we recognize in our web searches.

Domain names have three sections, they begin with ‘www.’ meaning World Wide Web. The middle part is, ‘yourdomainname’ this is the part you choose and then pay to register. The final section is the server address, ‘.co.uk’ or ‘.gov’ and so on. Every section is divided by a full stop.

Domain names have a hierarchy, starting with top level domains or TLD for short. These generally refer to countries, as in ‘.uk’, or governments, ‘.gov’ or the more generic, ‘.com’ or ‘.org’. Below these top level domains are two more levels, used by individuals or groups wishing to obtain a specific a domain name.

According to the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, there are plans to make many new top level domains available. Applying for these will incur far higher costs than for a lower level domain, and you would need to assess whether or not the process would pay off in the long run. Marketing materials would need to be changed and there would be various other costs involved. However, you’d have the opportunity to get an exact domain name, rather than a compromise. If a preferred name is taken on another domain, you could buy it on a top level domain, assuming you get there quick enough.

Shop around on the internet for pricing structures, and for how long your domain will remain registered. Often you get a better deal in the long run if you pay to register for a number of years in a lump sum. So in effect, you decide how long your domain name is valid for, by keeping up the payments.

A domain name needs to be unique in order for it to identify your website, from the multitude available. It’s like your home address, visitors use it to find you. The reason you have to register and pay for a domain name is to point potential visitors to your site in the right direction. The internet uses web servers to provide this function and when you buy a domain name, you are in effect, paying for that service.