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5 Writing Mistakes Almost Everyone Makes (And How You Can Avoid Them)

5 Common Writing Mistakes

Writing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Even as a freelance content writer in the game for five plus years, I still have my off days.

While you certainly can’t always be perfect in your writing, the key to churning out professional copy is self-awareness. Recognizing when and where you’re making mistakes is the first step towards drool-worthy content.

Below, I’ve outlined a few of the most common mistakes that even professional writers make, and a few ways you can avoid repeating them.

#1. Failing to Edit Your Work

Before you say “duh, editing is writing rule number 1” ask yourself if what you’re doing is real editing or just proofreading.

An editor will go through your content and pick out grammatical errors, yes, but they will also add and remove information as they see fit. Take a similar approach.

Edit to make a positive change in your writing. Edit to engage and refine what you have to say. This goes way beyond red-marking spelling and grammar errors, and I would argue it’s more important.

#2. Not Researching the Topic

Say you sell jewelry and want to write a post about the most common types available. You might think you have enough knowledge in your noggin to come up with a killer blog without doing any research. And you’d be wrong.

Every single piece of content you create—particularly for your business website—should be well-researched. Information is constantly being updated, and what may be considered up-to-date information today might be irrelevant tomorrow.

Let go of your ego and do some research on the topic you’ve chosen. Pull together quotes from industry leaders and respected brands and include them in your content to build authority.

If you’re trying to boost traffic via SEO, do some research on your topics and titles to make sure they’ll target the right audience.

#3. Writing too Fast

Putting content, blog posts, or articles on your website just to have them there isn’t going to do you any good.

I constantly work with clients who want their content yesterday, simply because they don’t understand the importance of slowing down and creating valuable content for their audience. I don’t blame them. Google will quickly make you yesterday’s news if you fail to regularly post fresh content on your website.

Don’t get caught in the trap of pushing out blogs for the sake of having them. Instead, write slowly and simplify what you want to say. A well-written piece may take time to create, but it will serve your goals better in the long run.

#4. Not Thinking About Your Audience

If I were to ask you who your audience is right now, you’d probably say something like “Moms aged 25-40 looking for xyz” what you’re less likely to say is something like “a woman who works 6 days a week, is raising 2.5 kids, and is passionately into sports.”

My point is, demographics only go so far. As a writer, it’s your job to know exactly who you’re speaking to. What does their life look like right now? Are they struggling to keep food on the table? Do they want a way out of their financial troubles? Do they suffer from a higher than ideal body weight but are hopeful there is a way out?

Each piece of content you write should be targeted to a certain person, not to a generalized group of people. You should know that person like the back of your hand. When they get up, what social media sites they prefer, and what they like to eat are the kind of details you have to have if you want to create an effective content strategy.

#5. Not Creating an Outline for Your Article

This goes back to English class, but the rules remain the same for blog writing.

An outline keeps your thoughts in line as you begin to write, and it makes the process faster. Before your fingers hit the keyboard, you’ll know what you want to say if you have an outline in place.

Conclusion

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your content doesn’t really matter. Not only is Google looking at it, so are your potential customers. Be cognizant of these mistakes and work tirelessly to avoid them in your writing.

As a freelance writer who specializes in web copy, I am constantly working to improve my writing. If you need relief from your company blog or could use some help writing content that sells, then drop me a line. I’ll happily help you create content that improves your website.

 

5 Qualities Your Freelance Writer Should Have

Freelance writers are their own breed of people.

They’ve committed themselves to the art of writing, and most spend years honing their craft into something worthy of your hard-earned cash.

Not everyone can churn out quality copy on a deadline with little more than their imagination propelling them forward, however.

Whether you’re in the market for a new freelance writer in Austin, Texas or are searching the interwebs for someone to help you write your “about” page, who you hire makes a difference.

No two writers are alike. Each has their own style and experience.

Still, writers who kill it for their clients possess the same core qualities. Ask yourself if the writer you are hiring has these 5 qualities before you send them a deposit.

  1. They know how to conduct research like a BOSS

A quick Google search will only get you so far.

Experienced writers have sources and contacts all over the world, and are quick to pull a quote or statement that supports what they’re writing.

Sure, some writers are knowledgeable in certain fields and don’t really need to research their topic.

However, no one can know everything.

The writer you hire should have the skills to research whatever you want written, and do so with expert precision.

  1. Has a good grasp on grammar

I say a good grasp because no one is perfect. Even bestselling authors have editors who undoubtedly spot an error here and there.

Let me be perfectly clear—there is a difference between an error here and there and flat-out awful grammar.

You are paying good money to have a freelance writer take on your project. You should receive high-caliber writing, but on the off-chance a mistake pops up don’t freak out.

The most important aspect of writing is creativity and a unique ability to sew sentences together. Focus on that first.

Read a few samples from your potential writer and determine if they have the grammar skills you require, then let it go unless you want to spend your life searching for the ‘perfect’ writer.

Writing mentor and Fortunate 500 freelance writer, Linda Formichelli, wrote an excellent post about grammar police. Give it a read if you still believe professional writers should be error-free at all times.

  1. Has Communication Skills!

Writers have to communicate clearly and quickly with their clients. Fast email response, open dialogue, and a willingness to listen are a must.

Also, a professional writer should communicate their concerns and ideas for your piece, and you should want them to. Why?

  • Because writers have an outside perspective of the project
  • They have experience you don’t
  • You’re paying them for fresh ideas

If a writer doesn’t ask any questions and simply sends you an invoice for their work, chances are you’re dealing with someone who really doesn’t give a shit about your project.

I know that’s harsh, but I can tell you from experience—a lack of communication equals a crappy outcome for you.

Keep an eye out for new ideas, questions, and comments about the project from your writer. You’ll find that professionals never hold back their opinion, and you’ll be glad they didn’t.

  1. Is Deadline-Conscious

A good writer has several pots on the stove at any given time. They can’t risk running behind on deadlines.

In my work, the deadline is critical. I don’t like to be late on projects and I do what it takes to guarantee a quality piece is delivered on-time and within the budget set.

You’ll find that’s the case with all professional freelance writers. Your deadline is held up to the light like the Holy Grail, shining down on our keyboard. Remember—if they care they make the deadline happen.

  1. Has a professional attitude

No matter who you choose to be your freelance writer, they should have a professional attitude.

Friendly email responses, asking if you’re happy, and a willingness to explain their process are a few things professional writers make happen. Regardless of your project, your writer should have a professional attitude throughout.

While this mostly becomes a concern if something goes awry, take note of how the person speaks to you initially and what their clients have to say about them.

Put simply—work with professionals if you want a professional result.

In Conclusion…

Hiring a professional freelance writer can be challenging. Use the qualities above as a foundation for your search and don’t settle. You work hard for your cash and should only give it away to someone who delivers.

If you like this post, and the other things I have said, then send me a message about your project. I’d love to work for you!

What’s a Writer Worth? —A Realistic Look at Copywriters

Succinct, original and well-written copy goes a long way towards improving your stance in Google’s search engine results page (SERP). A top ranking page is like the holy grail for small and large businesses alike. That coveted no. 1 spot brings traffic to your website like nothing else can, and gives you greater opportunities to make a sale.

The problem is, you probably don’t have time to put on makeup and wash your face in the morning, let alone sit down and churn out in-your-face content.

So what’s the solution? Many in my area turn to an Austin, Texas freelance writer to help them craft copy with a kick. But what is the real value of shucking out hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to an expert? How can you quantify their value?

The Changing of the Tides

In 2011, Google completely reinvented the world of copywriting. Writers and web owners had to rethink the way they crafted content as Google announced a software program called “Panda” that would penalize sites that had ‘thin’ content.

Flash forward 5 years, and we’ve gone through nearly 30 Panda updates, all of which have had a dramatic impact on how writers write and web owners view content.

Gone are the days of stuffing keywords into a blog post and getting somewhere on the first page of Google. Today, smart writers know there is much more involved in getting ranked than simply posting an article here and there.

That’s where you can start quantifying value, it starts with the knowledge that Panda exists and how to write copy that isn’t in conflict with these changes.

Your Customers Prefer It!

Nearly 70 percent of consumers report that customized content is vital for their purchasing decisions. Infographics and blog posts represent the vast majority of this customized content, and can only be effectively executed by a professional copywriter.

Over 80 percent of customers feel more positive about a brand after reading customized content as well.

Companies agree about the importance of well-written content, and with good reason. Enterprises that post a blog on their site at least 15 times a month get over five times the traffic than businesses that don’t.

Affordability

While copywriting rates vary, and are based on factors such as experience, type of content produced, and time spent to craft it, content marketing remains one of the more affordable marketing options.

Data reveals that content marketing costs 60 percent less than traditional marketing with three times the leads produced. That’s a convincing number for any business, but start-ups and small businesses reap the greatest rewards.

The Benefits of Hiring a Copywriter

Whether you’re looking for high quality SEO content, blog posts, Press Releases, or even infographics, hiring a copywriter can be the best thing you’ve ever done for your business. Companies that use a qualified and professional freelance writer can expect:

  • Improved Customer Engagement
  • Increased Brand Awareness
  • More Traffic
  • Better Conversion Rates
  • More Free Time!

While quantifying the exact ROI for a writer can be difficult, there is no doubt that hiring a professional to handle your content will bring tangible results.

If you’re in the market for a freelance writer in Austin, Texas, I’d love to hear from you. I work with small businesses and individuals to craft compelling copy that builds a relationship with readers. Contact me to learn more about how I can help you improve your online web presence.

Horrible Headlines—How to Avoid Them in Your Copy

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Do you toss and turn at night, worrying that your copywriting and headlines fall flat with readers?

As a freelance writer, I’m fully aware of how important words are to generating interest—especially on a local level. In Austin, Texas, words like ‘y’all’ and ‘tacos’ create engagement like nothing else, but that’s not the case on a national level.

My point is, our audience often determines the words we use. In the online world, horrible headlines can push your website into the dark corners of the internet.

You don’t want that, and neither do I. Let’s take a gander at a few ways you can improve your headlines for the better

1. Do as the Experts Do

There is nothing wrong with taking a little inspiration from the top websites.

Browse through sites like Forbes, Copyblogger, or The Huffington Post and see which of their headlines get the most social shares and comments.

Engagement is good sign of well-written headlines, and reading through popular sites can stir your creative juices.

2. Verify Your Ideas

The internet is packed with free tools to improve your copywriting.

Once you’ve come up with one or two great headline ideas, verify them with tools like the Advanced Marketing Institute’s Emotional Value Headline Analyzer which gauges the emotional intelligence of your title.

Don’t leave your headlines to chance. Verify them to guarantee they will make a big splash with your readers.

3. Eliminate Annoying Words

That’s totally ‘fetch’! I tote’s agree with you.

If you’re like me, these words will sound like nails on a chalk board.

Eliminate words that your audience will find equally as annoying, such as ‘hustle’, ‘best’, and ‘upworthy’.

Get to know your audience’s likes and dislikes, and follow through with compelling headlines.

Interestingly, most audience’s respond better to negative words like ‘worst’, ‘awful’, and yes, even ‘horrible’.

Find words that create an emotional response, and remember that most people believe negative news over good news because we’re hard-wired to avoid pain. Opt for negative superlatives in your title for the best response.

4. Keep it Short

Long headlines cause disinterest. Get to the point without giving away the point of your post. After all, if you answer the question or spill the beans in the headline, why would people want to read your blog?

For length, a good rule of thumb is between 5-8 words, with 5 being the ideal number.

Of course, you don’t want to cut things short to fit this rule. Instead, focus on succinct and comprehensive headlines. This might be difficult at first, but with time it becomes increasingly easier.

5. Use More Power Words

Give your headline personal charm with powerful words that evoke emotion. Words like ‘scare’, ‘fear’, ‘love’, and ‘perfect’ work well under this rule.

If you’re using them in conjunction with a list style blog title, such as 10 Things You Need for Your Summer Trip, then all the better.

People use the internet to answer questions and find valuable information. They base what they read off your headline. Copywriting is important for the body of your article, but possibly even more so for the headline. Break out your dictionary and thesaurus, and start implementing more power words into your copy.

Conclusion

As a freelance writer I see a lot of headlines that are, quite honestly, garbage. They fall flat when stacked against the competition.

Using these rules and tools, however, can have a powerful effect on your blog and give you the added “oomph” you need to stand out.

If you’re looking for a freelance writer in Austin, Texas to help with your blog or copywriting, feel free to reach out. I’d love to help turn your headlines into emotion packed, engagement-churning titles that get people to click.

5 Killer Resources for Content Marketing

 

Content marketing is critical for any online business. Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. The web is full of excellent resources for you to learn and take from to generate engaging content.

Online marketing can be effective and seamless if you use the right tools and techniques to get you there.

Check out the following five killer resources for content marketing below, and learn how they can help improve your online presence.

  1. Copyblogger

Copyblogger supplies bloggers and small business owners with killer content that aids in building an audience. The site covers everything from copywriting to how to create audience centric content. Starting out in 2006, Copyblogger has become a go-to source for online marketing and content creation.

Why you need it: To learn about online marketing and how to effectively gain an online presence.

  1. HubSpotBlogs

HubSpot Blogs are the perfect resource for inbound content. They cover marketing, sales, and agency focused content and provide how-to guides galore. If you need to know how to market your product or business, HubSpot Blogs can show you how. Although it is more technical in nature, the website is an excellent resource if you have the foundations of content marketing fixed firmly in your mind.

Why you need it: To improve your content marketing skills and online sales.

  1. Mashable

Mashable is one of the world’s leading media and content providers. With over 45 million monthly visitors, it’s the best place to find the latest and greatest breaking news on the web. Unlike the other sites mentioned, Mashable makes a great resource if you need to get inside your audiences’ head. Find out what’s going on in the world and discover the hottest topics with a quick trip to the site.

Why you need it: To stay up-to-date on the latest news and events around the world.

  1. Social Media Examiner

Social Media Examiner breaks down social media marketing like a boss. They help millions of businesses every year connect with their audience, drive traffic to their website, and generate awareness. They are the best website if you want to know how to increase your social presence on the web. With hundreds of thousands of articles, free podcasts, and even conferences they are one of the most comprehensive Social Media resources on the web.

Why you need it: To discover the best ways to increase your social and online presence.

  1. The Story of Telling

Every business needs a story, and The Story of Telling helps you create one. Branding is a tricky and sometimes treacherous world, but this blog guides you through the canyon of storying telling with ease. Whether you need some inspiration for a new product launch or could use assistance creating an “About Us” page, The Story of Telling is the best resource on the web for branding.

Why you need it: To learn the art of storytelling and engage your audience in your business.

Wrapping it Up

The resources listed here are invaluable whether you’ve been in business for a while or are just starting out in content marketing. Developing your voice as a content writer might not be first on your to-do list, but the effect it can have on your business is powerful. If you find it difficult to churn out the quality content your audience is dying to read, then you might want to turn things over to an expert.

As an Austin based freelance writer, I know how to create content that intrigues your audience. Regardless if you choose to use my services, or take things into your own hands, I truly hope these resources improve your online marketing strategy.

Why Small Business Owners Should Hire Freelance Writers

freelance writer, writer, contentIf you own an online website or small business, finding the right team to bring your brand to life can be frightening. Developing a marketing strategy that speaks to your audience and investing your limited budget in said marketing strategy, ups the ante even more.

When it comes to sourcing a copywriter, it quite literally pays to choose the right freelance writer for the job. While some business owners choose to outsource their work through a designer or social media manager, the reality is these experts rarely understand—or take the time to understand—the fundamentals of constructing powerful copy. So what’s the solution? Who should you use to get the job done right?

 

What a Freelance Writer Can Do For You

Freelance writers and SEO copywriters are naturally suited for working with small business owners. Their talents go beyond putting words on a webpage. These include:

  • Brand Research
  • Audience Analysis
  • SEO Work
  • Communication
  • Grammar, Spelling, Vocabulary

When you hire a freelance writer or copywriter, you aren’t just hiring someone to replace the Lorem Ipsum on your spankin’ new website. You are hiring a professional wordsmith who will captivate your audience and walk you through the process every step of the way. That is worth more than anything a “web designer” could ever offer.

Copywriter’s Are More Affordable

On average, individual writers are far more affordable than companies are. With virtually ZERO overhead costs, copywriters are able to offer their services for far less than marketing agencies that ‘throw-in’ copywriting just to charge you more. Small business owners are always looking for a way to cut costs, and seeking out a qualified writer who can capture your “voice” and deliver exceptional content is well worth the search.

Your Time is Too Precious

Quality writing takes time to create, proofread, and rewrite. Time that you simply do not have. A professional copywriter will devote hours of their time to make sure your website tells your story loud and clear, leaving you to manage your business without the added stress of copy writing.

Let Me Be Your Copywriter!

If you want killer content for your website, then I’m your woman! I am an experienced copywriter who is passionate about helping small business owners get their businesses off the ground. Want to know more about what I offer? Then contact me for a hassle-free email consultation, and let’s make you some cash!

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