Archive for the ‘Freelance Writing’ Category

5 KEYS TO GREAT WRITING

  1. Understand the Topic

When you get a writing assignment or request the first thing you should do is to ensure that you understand the topic. If you don’t do this you risk producing an article that is either meaningless or irrelevant to the user. Therefore take time to know what the article is all about, especially if it is an area you are not familiar with. For example ask questions to confirm that you are on the same page with your client. Find out also the scope of your writing so that you do not end up including irrelevant stuff. For instance if you are doing a historical article, ask what is the time frame you are expected to cover, is it the last five years or ten?

Understanding the scope also helps you in your research so that you do not waste precious time reading stuff you do not need, especially when you are working with a deadline.

  1. Understand the Objective

Next to understanding the topic is to understand the objective of writing the article. This will help define the writing style – will it be persuasive, descriptive, expository or narrative writing? This should be clarified as soon as the writing assignment is received so that there is no room for ambiguity.

If the objective is to recount an event that already took place then the writing style will be narrative, e.g. a news report or a historical article. If the objective is to market a product or service then the writing will be persuasive, and also short and targeted with features like keywords for maximum impact.

  1. Adequate Preparation and Research

Once you have understood the topic and objective you can now settle down into doing some research and planning how to write the article. It is said that preparation is one of the keys to success therefore make sure to allocate time for the writing exercise. Ensure to do an exhaustive research on the topic as this assures the client that you can be trusted with more articles in future. If you have a deadline, then clear your schedule so that you can focus without any interruptions.

  1. Good organization

A great article or story should have a natural flow from one paragraph to another so that the reader is captivated enough to read to the end. This means that you have to carefully decide what goes where, how to introduce and how to conclude the article.

Organize your writing into meaningful paragraphs that carry your ideas comprehensively. Use language appropriate for your audience, for example do not get too technical if writing for an audience that is not familiar with industry jargon. Avoid sentences that are too long, and if you have long sentences let them be as few as possible. These are just a few tips on how to organize your writing.

        5. Good Editing

One of the most common reasons given why self published books do not do well in the market is that they are rarely edited properly. Editing is an extremely important part of the process of producing any kind of publication, even if it’s a short article. It should be the last thing you do before releasing the article to the client.

Good editing requires that you go through the article with a fine tooth-comb to ensure there are no mistakes and no information gaps. Do this at least twice or thrice so that you don’t miss out anything. Don’t just focus on the grammar; pay attention also to the formatting especially if it was specified by the client. Check on images, graphics, hyperlinks and any other special features included to ensure that they present properly when the article gets to the client. If possible, let someone else have a look at the article with an objective perspective; they might pick out something that you did not see.

Once you are certain that everything is fine you can go ahead and release or publish your writing. All the best!

listen to me

I will not bend, I will not break,

I will not stop until am done

I will not fail to make you listen to the sound of my utter plea

I will not fear, I will not quake,

I will not despair until I become

A song that lingers in the ears

A rhyme that never knows to stop

A tune too loud to ignore

An echo that fills your precious space…

Until you realize that I am a woman

With feelings and needs, with aspirations and dreams

Until you say “yes” to the inclusion of my kind

In every little and big part of life on this earth.

The flight of a…

The flight of an eagle is both powerful and graceful. I cannot help but admire this wonderful creation of the Most High!

Watch Your Business Grow With Social Media SEO Strategies

GUEST ARTICLE – By Yasir Khan.

Every business that has its presence online has implemented or is implementing Search Engine Optimization strategies for their website. While doing so, most website and blog owners concentrate most of their efforts on building backlinks for their website / blog, thus diverting very little or no focus on other important SEO tools.

Most website / blog owners who rely on traditional SEO strategies and those who are new to the game tend to neglect the impact that social media has on search rankings. However, one cannot afford to do so because SEO today is rooted in Social Media.

Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing turn to Facebook likes and shares, Twitter re-tweets and Google Plus +1s to determine how powerful your social presence is and accordingly assign a rank to you on the search results page. Therefore, a social media presence is healthy, important and essential for success in business.

The New Generation of Search Engine Optimization

The traditional SEO tactics are still very much in use today. Although tactics like keyword focus, target key phrases and link building cannot be completely done away with, they are used in integration with Social Media today.

For example, SEO consultants state that one should make use of keywords when they share content on social networking sites and when people like this content and share it with others, this action leads to mentions about your website, thus creating backlinks to your website.

Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ allow you to keep your customers updated about your services and products, upgrades and new features added to your business. You can also easily communicate with them through these social platforms and ask for their views about your business.

New social media sites like Pinterest bring on a new perspective. Pinterest allows you to share specific images with the online world. A picture is worth a thousand words, and who says that a single image on Pinterest that is captivating enough cannot garner 1000 followers?
Social Networking and Search Engine Optimization

We’ve already established that social networking and search engine optimization go hand in hand. It is nearly impossible for your online business marketing campaign to achieve success without the effective use of social SEO strategies.

Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Instagram and StumbleUpon will help you get your content out there, create an exposure for your business and your website, generate backlinks of high quality, increase website traffic, and give you a higher page rank, thus deeming your SEO strategy a successful one.

Here are 5 tips to help you use Social Media to Enhance SEO:

1. Strategically plan your online business goals so that you know what your input demands and accordingly expect the output.
2. Create a page on every possible social media outlet.
3. Create original and interesting content such as articles, images and infographics and upload them to your social profiles that people will feel compelled to share.
4. Reach and communicate with your target audience and customers.
5. Analyze the effectiveness of your social media SEO strategies on a regular basis.

Using social media in integration with SEO will help you and your business reach the top and stay at the top. And when you are among the top rankers, it automatically drives traffic to your website, possibly converting your website visitors into customers for a lifetime.

With social Media SEO strategies, you can watch your business grow.

 

The contributor of this guest post, Yasir Khan, is the founder of Quantum SEO Labs. Click to view what Quantum SEO Labs offers you to help your business grow with customized SEO strategies

How to Write A Product Description For Your Online Shop: Five Simple Steps

website ideas

Photo credit: Sean MacEntee

Short, attention-grabbing articles tend to do very well on the web; they allow the reader to get what you are saying in a small amount of time, which is a very precious commodity on the web. Many people do not know how to do that – explain something using few words in a manner that is clear and concise. Product Descriptions require exactly that.

A product description is simply a very short article that talks about a specific item, gadget, equipment, service, or commodity. Normally between 100 and 150 words, a product description not only educates potential customers on the value and use of the item; it also serves as a marketing tool when keywords are used in it. This is a very important tool for businesses, especially small businesses and start-ups.

If you have an online store for the things you sell, consider writing product descriptions for each class of items in your shop. Make it short, concise and use simple language. Target the kind of customers that normally visit your store, or the ones you want to attract to your site. Include 2 – 3 of the keywords you use for your site in order to attract web traffic. This is very important because you want to extract maximum value out of that short description.

Number 1: Picture in your mind the kind of customer you wish to attract. Think of the general sector, e.g. young, educated, salaried professional. Think of a particular person who fits that exact description and prepare to write for him/her.

Number 2: Write down what you want to say about your product/service, exactly the way you want to say it. Choose your words carefully and direct them at the person you have pictured. Your aim is to convince them that what you are offering has value plus superior quality.

Number 3: Insert two to three keywords for your site. This will help drive relevant traffic to your site. Put one in the title of the article, one in the main body and the last one in the final paragraph. Make sure they are not forced into the sentences; they should flow naturally with what you are saying.

Number 4: Define your Call To Action, that is, what do you want that customer to do about your product? Do you want them to buy it or ask for more information? Do you want them to click on the cart or to investigate what else you have to offer? Do you want them to write a review about it? The answer to these questions will determine how you word your Call To Action. Include that as the last paragraph of your article.

call to action

call to action (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Number 5: Insert the article on your landing page or sales page, whichever one serves the purpose of attracting the attention of visitors or would-be customers. Make sure the font is easily readable. Feel free to highlight key text like the name of the product for example.

Remember, you can get a lot of mileage for your site from writing product descriptions. Never under-estimate the power of words, no matter how few!

Your Writing Talent Is An Asset

Robert Kiyosaki, author of the famous book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, talks about the importance of building more assets than liabilities if one wants to be successful in business and life. In business terms, assets are simply items that bring in or increase income and thus have a positive impact on wealth. The synonyms for the word ‘asset’ give us a broader understanding as they include benefit, advantage, plus, positive feature, quality, skill and talent. Does that sound like your writing skill?

When I was younger, about eight or nine years old, my older sisters asked me what I would like to be when I grew up. My instinctive and completely sincere answer was, “a writer!” At that age I already knew about a few writers like Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie (my all-time favorite fiction writer) and I definitely admired them. I was totally in awe of the art of writing, and I still am.

Writing is a golden-edged gift that brings pleasure to both owner and audience. Most writers enjoy their work as much as the world loves to read their writing. It is also a tool of communication that has been effective over many centuries and will continue to be, regardless of how much the medium used changes. More than that, however, I see the writing skill as an asset that should be guarded well, developed continuously, used for the good of society and converted into income if need be.

There are so many ways in which writing can be used to increase your personal wealth. I will not go into the details of how to make money from your writing skill here – many other blogs do that. I just want you to place a lot more value on your talent than you have done before and see it in new light.

What does one do with an asset?

Increase it: The more you have of an asset, the better for your personal wealth. How do you increase your talent? By ‘taking it to a higher level’ such that it produces more for you. Mensa Otabil, in Buy The Future: Learning To Negotiate For A Better Future Than Your Present (Pneuma Life Publishing, Inc., 2002), refers to a process of “roasting” that transforms one’s gift into something of higher value. For writing, this simply means improving your skill in a particular field or gaining competence in other fields of writing. You could go for some training, for example, or venture into a new field of writing you have not done before.

Make it produce for you and others: An asset that cannot produce anything ceases to have value for its owner. If you have not been using your skill to produce income, maybe it’s time you began to think about it seriously. However, if income is not among your goals then you could still use your skill to help others achieve their own goals even if they are not paying you. Volunteer your help on major writing projects at work or in your community. You never know, your reward may come in a different way other than finances.

Keep Your Scribal Juices Flowing!

Writer Wordart

Writer Wordart (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

I regularly attend a writer’s forum where we encourage and build one another to become better writers. I have found it to be both enlightening and challenging as I keep learning new things. Recently, the leader of the forum decided to veer off our usual menu of reading and critiquing poems, short stories and essays and decided to talk about writing itself. He insisted that for one to be considered a true writer, he/she must write every day. Well, the response was not quite what he expected and a long discussion ensued about whether we should write ‘everyday’ or ‘as often as possible’.

The bone of contention was that it is hard for the average person to write often because sometimes the will or energy to write is not there. It’s not easy to keep the juices flowing! True. However, if one is to persist with that attitude in their writing career (or any other career for that matter) then we would have very little literature in the market.

Writing is a pursuit that must be nurtured often; the regularity depends on individual abilities and circumstances. Notwithstanding that, every writer has to find a way of motivating themselves to pen new thoughts, ideas, stories, descriptions, suggestions, etc. There is no universal rule of doing it; you just have to go for what works best for you. However, there are a few things you can do to maintain your passion beyond the norm.

Look for what inspires you:
Many writers work from inspiration, meaning that something in their environment triggers the desire to write, or provides the subject for a story. Find that single inspiration and keep it close by if you can. It could be an environment of complete silence, like when alone in the house; it could be nature, the outdoors, driving to a rural area, being at the lakeside, watching children play, listening to slow music, etc.

Spend a good amount of time reading:
There’s no better writer than a reading writer. I believe that reading fosters writing, and the more you read the more you get ideas to write about. Reading often exercises the mind to think in different ways and can also trigger you to evaluate your own writing as you compare it with others.

Allocate specific time for writing:
In the same way that you allocate time for bonding with your friends, do the same with your writing gift. You need to constantly and consciously get in touch with your writing ‘soul’ in order to develop it, and making time for it deliberately is the best strategy. It may appear a bit stiff at first, having to writ only at a certain time, but once you get into a steady routine you will be glad for it. It helps you focus completely on the task at hand without getting distracted.

These are three simple things you can apply immediately to your writing life. Go on, keep your scribal juices flowing with these suggestions and I hope you enjoy yourself.