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The Pen Thinker

Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. ~Sylvia Plath

What Good Copywriting Can Do For Your Website

Posted in The Copywriter's Pens

Previously published on Novella.nu and Coffee & Pens (both retired blogs) on Mar 20, 2012.

Guest post by Harry Lansbury.

copywriting-for-website

You know what they say about websites:

It’s all about the content.

If you have a website then you probably have a purpose in mind for it, right?

You might want to inform visitors of a cause, sell products, get people to sign up to your service amongst many other possible goals.

No matter what the purpose of your site is, the one thing that is a constant is that your websites content needs to be of a high quality in order to achieve its purpose.

So what can you do to make sure that your content says what it should?

Here are some online copywriting tips for you to consider.

Be Engaging

One of the most important factors in achieving high quality content is being able to engage with visitors to the site and to do this you must make a journey into your customer’s mind, not literally, but you will need to understand how they think.

Put yourself in your target customer’s shoes, do you really want to read through War and Peace, or some other equally long book, just to get to the point of the website?

Of course not and visitors to your site won’t be any different, the majority of them won’t even give it a chance if they are met with a mass of content.

Keep it concise and to the point, telling them exactly what they need to know and not more.

Be Original

It’s tempting to just find a website that already says everything that you want to say then copy and paste, but be warned this is a big mistake.

Google and other search engines will rain down their fury on any site that they find to contain duplicate content, seriously devaluing its strength which will stop it ranking well within search engines or they might even remove it from their search results completely, try operating a website that cannot be found through Google and you’ll soon discover you have a major problem.

Original content is key so don’t be lazy, if you have created a website then surely you have some knowledge about its content so use your own brain.

Don’t Sacrifice Content For Design

It doesn’t matter if your web designer presents you with the best looking website in the world if the content does not tell the potential customer what they want to know.

Make sure that the content of your site gets as much attention as its design; it is not an area that you can afford to just throw together once everything else is done.

Make Life Easy

Don’t assume that visitors to your site know as much about your industry or service as you do and don’t force them to work out what they need to do to use your service, sign up or buy products.

Make your website as straightforward and efficient as possible by allowing visitors to get from your homepage to fulfilling the goal of the site whatever that may be in as few clicks as possible.

One thing you can be sure is that if you don’t make it easy for them then they will find another website that will.

Harry Lansbury works for a local SEO company who specialise in Bespoke SEO services. He knows how vital good quality.

Freelance Writing With Sensory and Emotional Overload – What It Means and 6 Coping Systems

Posted in Freelanc-ink, The Writer's Mind Hacks
My mascot character Amelia Yoris comforting me having sensory and emotional overload

My mascot character Amelia Yoris comforting me through sensory and emotional overload. Artwork © Luana Spinetti

Disclaimer: I kept my description of sensory and emotional overload – and my illustration above – as non-triggering as possible. I give NO advice in this post about medical or herbal remedies, as I’m not a doctor and you might be allergic to the calming teas I drink. I suggest that you look up authoritative medical, autism and high sensitivity websites for more information. This post is about my own experience with sensory and emotional overload and it might be different for other people.

Have you ever felt your whole body exploding like a minefield, and your head become a big soup-shake?

Then the world stops making sense for you: you can’t articulate speech, you can hardly bear the slightest touch, smell, light and noise.

As a writer, you stop being able to type (the typing sound becomes painful, too) and stare at the computer screen, and you can’t read your drafts out loud to edit.

read more »

That’s Not How It Works! – 12 Freelance Writing Myths to Dispel

Posted in Freelanc-ink

“You freelance writers are all {insert assumption here}!”

And you just stare at the other person with widened eyes and mumble “But… that’s not how it works…”.

As a freelance writer myself, I have been there so many times, home and outside of home, that I have collected plenty of myths (or just wrong assumptions?) over the years about “writers without a boss” and the life we chose for ourselves.

The problem with such myths is that they can undermine your confidence in pursuing your career.

It’s why I had to get this post done quickly. To help you stay strong as a freelance writer — and to open non-freelancers’ eyes about what being a freelancer really means.

So, what myths about the freelance writing career do non-freelancers believe?

read more »

29 Freelance Writing Challenges For The Next 12 Months

Posted in Freelanc-ink, Time Management

Updated: March 2017 (and I’m approaching 32!)

29 Years - 20 Freelance Writing Challenges

The number is 29 because I turned 29 on June 17 (2014).

Yup! I have only one year left in my twenties and, as a writer, I want to get the most out of it. 😉

Are you up to the challenge, too?

Because you see, these challenges are not here just for myself as a reminder, but to inspire you to take action and work toward your goals with a bit of healthy spirit of adventure.

29’s the number, folks!

Here are the freelance writing challenges I took up to enter my thirties with a bit of glory and more writing opportunities under my belt. (More clients, too?)

read more »

How to Make the Most of Guest Blogging (eBook)

Posted in The Blogger's Well, Writing Resources

This is a guest post by MyBlogGuest.com

Got your guest post published thinking your job is done? You are doing that wrong! Each guest post is your most valuable asset! Make the most of it!

Here are my two tricks:

Repackage Your Content For Fresh Views

Fresh View

Sometimes you just don’t have the inspiration. There is nothing wrong with that, we have all been there. Luckily, it doesn’t have to affect your ability to write effective and engaging guest posts. You just need to learn how to repackage content in a new and creative way.

This isn’t the same as rewriting. The actual facts of a topic rarely changes, at least more than would require an update. Providing that update is one way of repackaging content. So is creating a new form of media that is easily posted and shared via social media.

read more »

6 Tips To Engage Your Blog Readership With A Clean Web Design

Posted in The Blogger's Well

La Gustadera, G0! 1986. Web Design ExampleLet me tell you a simple truth — running a niche blog can feel like a chore sometimes.

Not because of the writing, though. No, the reason lies in the website design.

My guest writer July Minor pointed that out in her contributions to Writer’s Mind — without a reader-friendly, nice looking design, your content is bound to make less of an impact on your readers.  Since you thrive on your blog readership, this is an aspect you can’t overlook.

Don’t fret, though — there’s no scary programming or technology you need to learn in order to make your blog presentable. Actually,  you don’t need to become a web designer to improve your blog! All you need is to follow these 6 easy tips and make sure you always put your readers (therefore, your content) first.

read more »

4 Ways To Pitch An Idea And Sell Your Articles

Posted in Writer's Mind Blog

We all want to sell our ideas be it in the business, scriptwriting, book writing, articles, etc. But what should we do in order to pitch our ideas?

In this article we will talk about some tips you can use in order to sell your articles. Take a look.

1. Ask yourself questions

The first thing you need to do is to ask yourself a few questions. When you answer them you will get a better idea of how to sell your articles.

Question 1: What do you want?

What is your final goal? What do you expect to happen? Just name one goal that describes your situation best. How far do you want to go? When you know what you really want, this will make things easier, your statement clear and understandable.

What do you want to write about and what sectors are you good at? Before proceeding to the next steps, it is a good idea to make things clear for yourself.

Question 2: What do people expect?

What do people expect to read in your articles? You have to provide solid and credible statements and try not to mislead your audience in any way.

Question 3: What are the needs of the Internet?

What topics should your write about? What information does the Internet lack? What do users need more information about? This will help you get an idea of what you could write about that will attract more visits and therefore more purchases.

2. Create a website or a blog

Having a website or a blog is the best way to sell your articles to the audience. A good approach would be to post a few paragraphs of an article and provide the entire text only after readers pay for it. If your posts are very good, systematic and succinct, undoubtedly people will flock to purchase your articles.

If you go for a website, make sure you choose a good domain name that is easy to remember and attractive. It should be a name that sells your idea best.

Creating a blog is even easier. There are a number of sites that provide the opportunity to create your own blog without writing code and thinking of design. They are abundant in templates and blog styles, which is very convenient and saves you time.

3. Or go another way…

To put it shortly, you can sell articles without owning a website. You can choose to post your stuff on websites and get a percentage of the sales. Or you can write articles and sell them to individual websites.

4. Use special websites for the purpose

There are websites designed to sell your articles. Or at least they provide you with the opportunity to do so. These sites give you the chance to upload articles and set the price for them. If people are interested, they buy your work.

This is one of the easiest ways to make a profit from your articles. However, there is a catch. Most of the sites require a percentage of the sales you have made.

You may also sell an article more than once.

Or you can sell your products with exclusive rights. However, this doesn’t allow you to sell articles more than once. Fair enough, you can set a higher price. Depending on the topic and and length of the text, articles typically begin at $10 and go up to $40 and more.

Another approach is to write an email to the webmaster of a particular site and ask them if they would like to publish your articles and pay for them. There are a number of opportunities. If you want to be successful, however, you need to be persistent, to keep looking for new opportunities and markets and to research different subjects.

We hope you find these tips useful and informative. Good luck!

About the Author

July loves to share her experience. She works a part time job for http://www.perfectcleaning.org.uk/deep-cleaning-muswell-hill-n10/ but in her free time she writes for a lot of blogs.

4 Ways To Keep Your Blog Content Fresh

Posted in Guest Posts, The Blogger's Well

IMG_4267 Keeping a blog fresh is like keeping a plant fresh — you need to water it regularly or it dies. But what does keeping your blog fresh mean exactly?

Well, for one you need to analyze your blog so far – read some of your older articles, reflect on their meaning and importance and then make a strategic decision what went wrong and where and how can you fix the problem using the least bit of effort.

Here are some ways to boost your rankings, if not permanently at least for a while.

Change Your Design

The first thing readers see when they visit your blog is the graphic design, button interface, logo and theme. If you haven’t spent much time in the beginning to work out all the kinks of your design, maybe you can work on it now. First impressions matter and it is never too late to add a few more buttons. Something more about yourself. Maybe a nice picture of a beautiful sunset – anything that catches the eye and is pleasant to look at. Of course color coordination is very important as well as the overall theme of your interface set-up.

Experiment! You will be surprised of your own artistic abilities!

Hint: if you really can’t make your own designs, hire a good professional designer. Try LinkedIn groups and Coworks.com for affordable yet competent professionals.

Write More (Related, Interesting) Content

Usually when people start writing content in their first blogs, they have at least a basic idea of what they want to accomplish. But as time goes by people change; and so do their writing. In most cases the most successful blogs are specialized to deal with only one, two subjects at the most.

Are you going to be a social commentator? Comment about a small, but interesting (maybe even controversial) issues. If you give out technical information, be sure that all your facts and not double, not triple, but quadruple times checked before you post them to the internet. If you accept guest blogs on your site, be sure to thoroughly read each and every submission your receive, where quality control and proper formatting should be taken very seriously. Also, more pages automatically means better SEO, and that is what being popular on the internet is all about.

Develop an SEO Strategy

There are numerous ways to boost your SEO rankings. For example you can host guest posting from authors in exchange for providing them to link out to their websites. Basically the more (quality, related) links you have going in and out of your blog the better. You can even write guest posts yourself – this way bigger, more successful blogs will share some of their popularity with you.

Host a Discussion Forum

If you are working under one particular subject (like cleaning for example), you can host a forum and have people discuss your issues further boosting your traffic. Not to mention that if you are good/original enough, you can make serious traffic, with hundred of thousands of people visiting your blog every single day! You can sell ad-space to companies and sponsor your own You Tube channel. The possibilities are endless, but you do need to work on your blog and attract more and more visitors daily.

The most important thing in this line of work is consistency and giving it all you’ve got every time.

About the Author

July Minor loves to write about Internet and blogging. She currently works as a web designer for www.tidycleaning.co.uk/deep-cleaning-sw2-tulse-hill and she has a lot of experience to share.

Image credit: dopub

The 6 Secrets Behind My Blogging Success

Posted in Guest Posts, The Blogger's Well

Two Bloggers, after Norman RockwellBy July Minor.

For as long as I can remember, I have been engaging in the fine act of scribbling my thoughts on paper (and then showing that to other people for shock value).

But seriously, what makes an average blogger turn successful?

Is it hard work? Determination? Both?

Well, the answer sadly is— no. But don’t get discouraged, for I am about to reveal my own personally patented secret to success, although I am fairly sure it is not secret at all. The key is to follow a set of rules and guidelines that I guarantee you to work wonderfully in at least 60% of the time.

Why 60% you ask? Well, as you will find out; blog writing is a tricky and harsh endeavor, suited only for those with true mental and ethical fortitude.

So What Is It?

The answer to that question can be found in yet another question:

What makes a good entertainer great?

Just because you’re writing your entertainment on paper (figuratively speaking) you are not protruding more integrity into your undertaking. As a matter of fact you should feel flattered that you live in an age that allows basically every Tom, Dick and Harry to express their viewpoint, even if no one actually cares.

Here are my 6 secrets to make your blog stand out (and people care).

Quality Design

As superficial as that may appear to the less artistically driven bloggers, having a good quality design is what counts for the first impression. No one is going to stick around to hear your philosophy on contemporary hedonism if your blog looks like garbage. There are many fantastic tools that can help you turn your dud blog into a real winner.

While this paragraph is no place to go over each of them specifically, some well executed research and hardcore learning initiative on your behalf will help you see just how much better your blogs can look if only you take some time to learn the fundamentals of art designing your blog— or to find a good web designer to do it for you, that’s it.

Content That Connects

And I can’t stress that enough! People are not interested in you, your children or your dog Precious. If you expect to be recognized as a great blogger, you must discard any fantasies you may hold in regards to writing about yourself. People are just not interested in your personal life because it doesn’t bring them what they need.

Base your written content along the lines of ‘What is Hot right now and what is not”. For example, look as the situation in Syria escalates and write about what you believe people want to hear about that topic. You must, and I repeat MUST, give people what they want.

What are the ‘hottes’ topics right now on the ol’ Internet? Find out and write about that. If you have any scientific understanding of social manipulation and social control in general, then you would know that people tend to follow the herd. So try to avoid subjects that are too controversial or unpopular unless you have an objective in mind.

Style

Always strive to write interesting content, but don’t get discouraged if your posts turn out as a failure the first couple of times. Remember that every great author had to start from somewhere.

Actually, refining your style is both part writing and part reading. So if you want to be a successful blogger, you need to read lots and lots of blogs. Find the style that suits your style best and try to copy it. Most great writers are just copying what other great writers wrote before them. Of course plagiarism is a big no no, so alongside ‘stylish’ text I must insist that we put ‘unique’ there as well.

Advertisement

How do international companies make it big? They pour millions, upon billions in advertisement alone. If a financial newspaper wrote about the current tensions between North and South Korea and it was advertised on all the major talk shows, TV ads, the News etc., there would be lots of people who will have an interest in reading it.

As long as you can find a link between popular topics and your blog, there’s always room for advertisement.

Guest Posting

Promote your website by writing guest posts for other people. How does that work?

Well, a long time ago, some smart fellow came up with a simple, yet irrefutably genius idea; why not make a blog but have other people write the articles for him? And little by little that blog started to grow and generate untold amounts of traffic. Soon enough more and more people started showing up to take a part in this. After all, for each guest post you submit, the blog itself posts you personal info – like name, website, bio etc.

This way you are making yourself popular, even before you start writing for your own blog. And if you play your cards right, maybe some day people will guest post on your blog too.

Linking

Like I said earlier, there is not a single, all powerful truth behind being a successful blogger. For example, linking your blog to other ‘high traffic and high authority’ websites will boost your SEO rankings exponentially. It is an important part of blog management, and if you want your blog to be successful, it is just as important as writing good content for your readers.

About the Author

July Minor is passionate freelance blogger and writer. She loves to spare her time blogging. She currently works at Clean To Perfection and she loves that because she has enough free time.

Image credit:  Mike Licht

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Freelance Writing – How I Got Myself Started (And How You Can Do It, Too)

Posted in Freelanc-ink

ds-1.jpgHow did it all start?

Freelance writing, I mean.

If I had to answer this question, I think I would say: “It began with accepting the obstacles and taking up the challenge.”

Well— a few weeks ago I received exactly that kind of question from a follower of my Facebook page.

Hi, I am a Wanna-be-writer. Could you please explain how long it took you to be what you are now and what tips would you recommend for me. I am a beginner and I don’t know where to start. Could you help?

The question awed me. How was I going to respond to give him a thorough answer without coming up with a 2,000 words personal essay? I had to think about it.

So I told this person I would better off answering his question with a blog post (which I’m doing), but I felt compelled to spend at least a few words on a short reply.

I wrote:

It takes practice, goodwill and a bit of stubbornness to enter the freelance world. You will have to experiment with various writing styles and niches until you find your match, research and keep up-to-date with writing markets, marketing your skills and products on Social Media, blog and network with fellow freelancers… and you have to keep going, keep pitching and marketing even when the waters are too calm for your taste. Never give up. :-]

That summarizes it a bit, doesn’t it? But it still didn’t answer the “how did you get started” question, so I tried to put myself in my follower”s shoes, to recall what it felt to me— that fear that left me wonder whether I’d ever make it in the freelance world.

I never gave up on my dream to write

When you write small books and essays from age 10, you know you’re never really going to give up on your passion. As I grew up, a hobby that made me happy 24/7 slowly began to shape into a future career in my mind.

Oh, there have been many along the way— “I’ll be a pediatrician!”, “I’ll be a teacher!”, “I’ll be a full time comic artist!” —but nothing ever replaced writing in my art. Perhaps its only ‘competitor’ was illustration, because I’ve always been an artist, too. Art and writing are my room-mates.

So your first asset to enter the freelance writing world should be your dreams, your passion for writing. It will get you going, even when you run into obstacles and downtimes.

I never gave up on my dream to write for money

Why just write without compensation?

To earn money doing what you love is THE job!

Even so, it took years for me to accept that I would have to charge a fee for my writing services. Back in 2007, when I started earning money for writing sponsored posts on my own blogs, I felt compelled to set my fees at the lowest possible amount ($1 to $5) and I was just happy that I could make that measly $50/month I could spend on my personal shopping without having to ask my parents.

But was it right? No way!

I recently published a free 5-page comic here on Writer’s Mind that tells the story of Margie, a newbie freelancer who puts her lifestyle at risk to write for content mills. That’s what I was going to do if I hadn’t the push from my family, my friends, kind advertisers and fellow writers who saw the potential in my writing.

Don’t do that mistake. Life is good and your job should add more good to it, not turn it into a hell.

I read blogs, books, magazines, white papers and more

Every writer starts as an avid reader.  At least, that makes sense if you think that you can’t learn how to write well if you don’t read how others write well first.

I read blogs because I’m a blogger. When you stumble upon big blogs like AllFreelanceWriting, TheRenegadeWriter, YoungPrePro, QuickSprout or MakeALivingWriting I know I’m going to learn a big deal about how to widen my blogging horizons and I regularly discover new angles and new niches.

I read magazines because I want to pitch them and because I want to stay informed. Also, magazines are a precious resource of new ideas, potential sources and prospects (because I may not be interested in pitching the magazine itself, but a company that advertises on that specific publication in a specific niche).

I read white papers and case studies because they’re great for background research, they provide useful information about a subject (yes, I have used white papers to complement my university studies, too!) and they show you how YOU can write a successful white paper or case study.

Read anything that interests you. And sometimes, even what you have no real interest in. Your mind takes in all the new angles and voices and will come up new connections.

I used fiction to experiment with different types of writing

Whether it was Character blogging, fanfiction or short stories, using fictional situations helped me explore different niches and types of writing.

If you’re a blogger interested in finance, you could create a fictional character that works in a bank and writes detailed journal entries about his experiences.

If you want to learn how to write a case study, you may invent a fictional corporation and write about how you (and that’s yourself or a fictional person you created for the exercise) helped it achieve a certain goal.

There’s no limit to imagination, is there? Then use it at your own advantage.

I explored the available markets in length and breadth

Research, research, research. It’s the only way to learn what the market expects from you.

Whether you wish to write for a magazine, a blog or a company website (copywriting), your pitches and proposals won’t get your the job unless you have done your homework. Prospects want to know that you understand their niche, that you keep up to date with the industry and that you’re flexible enough to find connections on your own.

Want to land more gigs? Give your curiosity a boost and use it to improve your research skills. :-]

When I had a hard time understanding a niche, I studied

No human being was born with an encyclopedia installed in their brain.

You have to keep learning throughout your life, keep up to date with niches that interest you, find new connections between topics and build up your vocabulary when the industry you’re interested into is filled with technical terms and foreign words.

If you didn’t enjoy studying back in school days, make an effort to start doing that now. Trust me, the confidence you will build this way will keep you going even when an assignment will look more like a nightmare than an easy gig.

When it was the English language to bug me, I made an effort to learn from my mistakes and hone my skills

I’m not a native English speaker. I started learning English in high school and I have only used the language for as little as 13 years.

What did I do to reach today’s competencies?

Simple: after high school I developed a hobby for text translation. I also began reading novels and manuals in English, which helped me improve my skills.

But online chats where the thing that really made a difference. When you chat, you only have seconds to a few minutes to IM a person without interrupting the flow of the conversation. To put it simply, chats force you to think in English rather than translating from a language to another. After only six months, my skills improved considerably.

Not a native English speaker? :-] CHAT!

How did you get started on freelance writing? Share your experience in the comments below.

Image credit: Tyron Francis