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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!

9 Convincing Reasons Small Businesses Should Blog

Blogging Imagine you happened across a beautifully designed website.

Let’s say you’re there to buy pillowcases and sheets for your brand new king size bed. You’re not 100% sure on what thread count or material to buy, but you have a general idea.

As you scan the website, you’re disappointed to find that the information you’re looking for doesn’t exist. You need help deciding between fabrics, but the site is void of professional advice to help you make a decision.

What do you do? If you’re like most people, you move on to a website that offers the information you need.

 

That business could have sold you hundreds of dollar’s worth of products simply by having a blog with valuable information.

As a small business owner, this could be you if you don’t have a blog. Experts say that having a blog, that’s consistently updated, can increase your sales by 126%! Companies who blog also have 96% more websites linking to them.

Still not convinced? Then check out the following 9 reasons you should have a blog for your business website.

  1. To Develop Your Brand

A blog lets you share your voice, opinion, and personality with the world. As a small business, this is often what separates you from the competition. No other tool allows you to be so candid while engaging with your customers.

  1. To Sell More Products

Over 60% of consumers decide to purchase a product after reading a blog about it. That’s insane! You don’t want to pass up an opportunity to make a sale, and blogging creates a connection that’s undeniable.

  1. Free Advertising

Blogging is the single best way to advertise your services or products. You can use it to show before and after photos, product demonstrations, tips and tricks to help consumers use your product, and so much more.

  1. To Establish Authority

The top blogs on the web answer questions consumers have about their products. Helpful content goes miles towards establishing yourself as a credible source for information. Even if you blog about related services, you still create value for your visitors and establish yourself as an expert.

  1. Blogs Produce Long-term Results

Long after the fanfare about your post dies down, it continues to drive traffic to your website and your business. It isn’t a one and done investment. Rather, the blog lives on as it is shared, re-tweeted and linked back to. Dedicating a few hours a week to quality blog posts can make all the difference in your website’s traffic, and isn’t that the reason you put one up in the first place?

  1. Because Your Competitors Have One

Rest assured, consumers will always go to and buy from a website that has valuable and up-to-date information over a well-designed but informationally void web address. Don’t be the latter. Start blogging!

  1. To Learn About Your Audience

Analytics for blogs are the best way to learn about your audience. When you blog, you receive priceless real-time data about who’s interested in your business and how to better target them.

  1. To Connect with Consumers

Blogging creates a two-way conversation with your visitors. Adding a comment section allows them to ask questions or provide feedback for how to improve your business.

  1. To Increase SEO

Even if you’re not familiar with what SEO is, let’s just say it’s the only way people find your business online. It can make or break your online leads and sales. Blogging and using targeted keywords points people in your direction.

As a freelance writer in Austin, Texas I see my fair share of business websites without blogs. It’s my goal to change that. No matter if you live in Austin or in Dublin, I can help you consistently drive traffic to your blog by developing content people love.

Contact me if you need help getting your blog up and running, or if you have any questions about the topic. I’d love to connect with you!

Creating a Content Marketing Strategy that Increases Leads & Signups

 

 

Content marketing is one of the most affordable and effective ways to generate leads and drive traffic to your website.

If you’re a small business owner, the high cost of advertising may turn you off to the world of online marketing, but it doesn’t have to.

As a freelance writer, I work with hundreds of clients who are clearly overwhelmed with the tech jargon that so often accompanies a well-planned content marketing strategy. I can’t tell you how many times a client has asked me, “What is SEO? How do I use it?” which breaks my heart, because I understand how crucial these elements are to building a successful online business.

But there is a trick to the madness, and there are a few sure-fire ways to generate leads through blogging and content marketing.leads and signups

 

Create a Story

So you’ve got a killer product that you can’t wait to get to the masses, but how are they going to find out about it? Not everyone with an amazing invention ends up making millions. In fact, anyone who has ever successfully launched a product has been supported by a powerful marketing plan.

Bringing things down to scale, even if you own a hair salon or are a freelancer trying to make it big, the key is to create a story that your audience can connect with. If your audience views you as an impersonal corporate business persona, they will head off to the big guys, because at least they have a reputation to stand on. The goal, then, is to create an enticing story to support your company’s vision through your web pages and blogging strategy.

Discover & Target Your Audience

No content marketing plan is effective if it attempts to cast a wide net. Do your homework and discover who wants what you have.

For example, if you own a baby clothing line you probably wouldn’t target construction workers. No, you would take your products to places where moms and grandmas shop and target your marketing accordingly.

Similarly, use your content marketing strategy as a way to connect with your audience. Frequent the social media sites they like, use hashtags that are trending in your niche, run a survey to see what your audience is looking for and then act accordingly.

Say this with me: research, target, and repeat.

That’s the key to getting traffic to your site and generating leads that want what you’ve got.

Use Every Outlet Possible

Although I’ve focused primarily on content writing and blogging in this post, there are a few other ways you can use content marketing to your advantage. These include video marketing, social media posting and sharing, powerful images and infographics, and even eBook writing. Each of these methods can bring you serious success in generating traffic and encouraging signups for your website. The key is to stay persistent and get to know your audience. Their opinion is really the only one that matters.

Of course, if you can’t find the time to create a content marketing plan for your business website, or need someone to handle the writing part of your plan, you can always shoot me a message! I always factor in the above when I write for my clients, and will work with you to hash out a powerful strategy to generate leads for you business.

If you’ve got a question for me or need help with any writing project, feel free to contact me today!

 

How to Effectively Engage Users Through Written Content

written content Let’s face it, you’re only reading this sentence right now after you scanned through the page to decide if it was worth reading. Am I right?

Well, according to the Nielsen Norman Group I am.

Their research shows that people rarely read every word on the page. There is simply too much information on the web to sort through, and most people stop before they start.

I don’t blame them. I’m guilty of doing the same.

For those of us who own a website and publish content, the question remains, however. What do we need to do to get people to read what we’re writing? Fortunately, the Nielsen Norman Group asked that question for us, and came up with a few techniques we all can use to increase user engagement and lower bounce rates.

Highlight Your Keywords

According to Nielsen, highlighting your keywords is an effective way to grab user’s attention and give them a reason to read your text. You can do this by either using hypertext or by incorporating typeface variations.

Create Meaningful Sub-Headings

Don’t write your sub-headings just for SEO sake. Instead, attach meaning to them and make sure they relate to the paragraph that follows.

Use Bulleted Lists!

Nothing grabs the attention quite like a well-written bulleted list. Perfect for conveying succinct information and powerful enough to engage and inform, bulleted lists are a lifesaver for website owners who have trouble ‘connecting’ with their audience.

Get to the Point

Concise, meaningful, and easy to read content is critical for gaining an audience. Nielsen found that concise, well-written, scannable, and objective copy excels up to 124% better than “fluff” copy. So, get to the point, but be objective without making your text boring to read for the best results.

Be Credible

Hyperlinks to original content and citations for your resources are important to users. If your copy is well written and supported by facts you should have no problem gaining a following. Avoid copy-pasted articles and make sure you either are an authority in your niche or have the links to back up your thoughts.

Click here to read the full results of Nielsen’s findings and see how they figured all this stuff out, and then compare your website to their conclusions. If you discover holes in your web copy, shoot me a message and let me help make your content readable.

5 Tips For Better SEO Articles

SEO Tips If you own a small business, you’re likely familiar with the term “SEO” (Search Engine Optimization). Web designers and marketing experts push SEO on their clients like nobody’s business. But what is SEO, and how does it affect your business in the long-term?

In short, SEO is one of the keys to getting noticed on the web. A website without SEO is like Siri. It doesn’t make any sense and doesn’t produce the results you want.

As a writer, SEO is one of my best friends. It enables me to drive traffic to my blog and gives me a reason to keep hammering away on the keyboard. As a copywriter I find that it holds a unique power to captivate the search engines, and if done correctly it can generate sales and even build an audience.

If you are interested in SEO articles or want a better understanding of the structure that defines well-written web content, then check out my 5 tips for better SEO articles down below.

Tip 1. Use the Proper Length—What’s the Right Word Count?

Ah yes, the proverbial “word-count.” Not only does word count matter to people who purchase articles from writers, but it is also crucial in the eyes of search engines. Articles that are too short—did someone order 150 words of subpar content—don’t hold any value to readers and are often shunned by Google. On the other hand, 2,000 word blog posts aren’t going to hold anyone’s attention long enough to be worth the time they took to churn out.

So what’s the happy medium? The answer is: there is no answer. Focus on quality over word count and avoid “fluffed” up articles that don’t say much of anything. I typically recommend anywhere from 300-500 words of high quality content for regular posting and longer articles for niche topics, but in the end word count should be based on the topic and the audience in question.

Tip 2. Choose the Right Keywords

What is SEO content without keywords? Choosing the right keywords is essential if you want to rank for your niche. For example, if you’re selling golf products, you’ll want to base your keywords around the word “golf.” Locally based keywords are also incredibly important as they position your business on the front lines when searched for in Google. So, if your golf business was based in Orlando, Florida you could use the keyword phrase “best golf accessories in Orlando Florida” or “golf store in Orlando” to rank higher when someone searches for those terms.

Check out Google Analytics and their keyword search tool for more information.

Tip 3. Understand Your Audience

As I briefly mentioned earlier, your audience should drive the content of your articles. Putting up content just for the sake of ranking high in Google’s results isn’t going to produce sustainable results. When visitors arrive on your website they are looking for something. Whether it’s an answer to a question or information about a certain topic, it’s your job to provide them with what their looking for. Take a long hard look at the value of your content and align it with what your audience wants before clicking the “submit” button.

Tip 4. Use Headlines & Subheadings

Gone are the days when people read every sentence of an article. Today, readers skim through information to get the answer they want. By using headlines and subheadings (and inserting keywords where possible) you stand a better chance of getting readers to slow down and read your content. This reduces your bounce rate and contributes to better SEO on your site.

Tip 5. Hire a Professional for Professional Results!

A professional writer who is skilled in SEO work can not only craft a well-written piece of content, but will also help you get noticed by Google. They will choose the right keywords and expertly knit them into your article naturally.

If you are looking for an SEO writer then look no further than yours truly. Head over to my “get a quote” page and let’s talk SEO.

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