Friday, October 23, 2009

How To Exact Your Money...Or Revenge

Payment at times can be hard to extract, especially from oversees clients. We’ve all been burnt sometime or the other and mostly by applying to craigslist type ads which are perfect for scam-artists and clients who want all, for free!

If you feel you are not making any headway with collecting fees, contact Angela (angela@writersweekly.com). She’ll offer valuable advice and puts out warnings on your behalf.

I’ve also received ‘warnings’ from other members of a writing group to which I belong on the following two clients:

Warning One:

please, please, post something to your writers about this guy: mnsavage@yahoo.com . His name is Jordan, and he doesn't pay his writers. I have been in contact with several of his writers who have been burned by him!
From S.

Warning Two:

I would be wary of working for this company, Plutoz (ad which appeared in craigslist below) - I did a lot of work for them a few years ago and never got paid (I tried, of course, but with me being based in the UK and them in the US, I couldn't use my usual ports of call, such as resorting to Small Claims Court to try and get the unpaid money, so eventually just had to write it off). Back then, it was also supposedly a 'new and exiting' search portal launch.
From R.

WRITERS WANTED

Plutoz, an exciting new shopping and lifestyle search portal
(plutoz.com), is seeking web-savvy, motivated, prolific, and witty writers
to research and compose capsule reviews of websites. Write sincere,
unbiased, quick, and accurate copy for our online consumer audience as
well as producing short articles about various web consumer topics
(shopping, travel, lifestyle, home, fashion, entertainment, video games,
electronics, food and hundreds of additional titles and categories).
Please send a brief e-mail reply to the following questions:
• How long have you been writing web copy? What is your most recent
professional web/other writing experience (if any)?
• What are your web content areas of expertise/interest?
Past experience as a talented writer or editor for a media channel (print,
web, radio or TV) is highly desirable. This job can be done on your own
time but you must meet our deadlines and follow our editorial guidelines.
Please send us your resume and answer the above questions.
Compensation: Writers will be paid based on experience and the amount of content that they generate (following our editorial guidelines).
Reply to: job-mtqhx-1430259258@craigslist.org.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

SEO Tactics For Site Optimization

Someone new to Internet marketing may well ask, what is SEO and why does my site need to be optimized? SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the result driven process of increasing the traffic volume or audience flow to a website via natural or organic search strategies, as opposed to using paid marketing techniques (SEM: search engine marketing). SEO can be strategically targeted toward image search or video search or the most popular usage, keyword search.

Nowadays, most online companies will use SEO alone or in conjunction with other marketing tactics to draw in large audience numbers to their site. SEO may require certain HTML coding implemented, and if this is the case, it should be incorporated at the web design/web content stage. What is to be avoided is Black Hat SEO or unscrupulous methods to ensure your site gets high ranking. Black hat SEO includes article spinning, keyword stuffing and invisible text. Techniques which maintain the integrity of your site are considered ‘White Hat’ techniques and while they may appear to be more time consuming and resource needy, they are in fact the correct strategies to draw long term audience and ensure high SERPs (search ending results pages).

Search Engines (popular examples being Google and Yahoo) work by allowing spiders to crawl the web and locate sites and pages and index them. Without aiding and assisting them by using relevant SEO tactics, it’s likely that your site or page will remain buried and un-indexed. Your second priority would be to get your page as high a rank as possible. Surfers will generally not go beyond two pages worth of searching. To find your site or page’s current Google rank, visit, http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php

So, what are some of the organic SEO tactics which work?

Descriptive title tags and meta tags: It goes without saying that the URL of your site should be as descriptive and relevant as possible. However, your title tags and meta data should also be relevant. These use keywords to describe your site’s products and services not only to your audience, but to the search engines as well. Use free keyword search sites like http://nichebot.com, http://keyworddiscovery.com, http://freekeywords.wordtracker.com/ and http://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal to find out what word descriptions would work best for your site.

Site accessibility: Your site needs to load well and be accessible to visitor in seconds. This means, you will need to constantly check and recheck graphics, images and file sizes to ensure they are not too large. Visitors and unfortunately, search engines too, have short attention spans. Make sure your site is quick to download and graphically and visually pleasing to the eye.

High speed server: This links with the earlier point. Your site should be hosted on a high speed server to ensure it loads quickly. Given the competition you’ll be facing, visitors are quick to move away from slow-loading sites.

Linking (internal and reciprocal): When linking to an internal site map, ensure your links don’t blog spider navigation. By transferring your internal links to the bottom of the page, you’ll give search engines an unobstructed path through your page. When using internal links, try making them keyword dense for an additional pull. If you are considering reciprocal links, try and do a search to find out high ranking relevant sites and connect to them. One such paid site which allows you to track and find page rankings of competitor and relevant sites is PR Prowler : http://www.prprowler.com. However, you can also use free tools like PR Checker to find this information.

Captivating content: Creating captivating content will also ensure your pages get read more often. The more content-rich your site, the more likely it will be read by a larger audience and picked up by search engines. Do not get caught up however in article spinning which can result in your site getting penalized.

Strong starting sentences:
Begin always with strong sentences; these are the ones most important. Ensure they are audience captivating and search engine friendly.
Keyword density: Your web content should be keyword rich, but avoid keyword stuffing, which is considered black hat SEO and will result in search engines giving your site a miss. A good keyword density is between 2%-5%, depending on the length of the content. You can analyze your keyword density here: http://www.keyworddensity.com

So there you have it, excellent SEO tactics which are time-tested and proven to work. As with any tactics though, success does not come overnight and you will need to invest both time and energy resources if you want to get it right.

Want to use this article? You can if you include this blurb:

Freelance writer Usha Krishnan Sliva has years of article and copywriting experience. To get more free tips and writing ideas, subscribe to her ezine-Getting It Write on http://www.writechoiceforyou.com or sign up for her course, Article Writing And Selling 101 on http://www.writechoiceforyou.com/WritingCourses.html

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thanksgiving With A Twist

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

Since my husband and I were not born in Canada but truly love our adopted country, we celebrate all festivities with our own added flavours! So, Christmas is all about a Czech celebration: fish and potato salad, walnuts and honey and lots of Czech drinks; Becherovka, Slivovica and the ubiquitous Czech Beer!

Thanksgiving on the other hand will see us tucking into roast rabbit and authentic German Apfel Strudel (baked last night and already almost finished ;)! This is one day I can't wait for the sun to set!

With your writing too, think about giving it a twist to make it your own unique voice. Experiment with different tones, languages and grammatical options; perhaps an article written only in the passive voice? Or one using more colourful verbs to describe actions? Give it a go and see what you come up with.

And enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

English In South Africa

The last ezine issue of Getting It Write! dealt with the subtle and not so subtle differences between British and American English. And the response to it was tremendous. Quite a few people have written in about South African English. And so I also questioned my South African friend Dirk, who now lives in Vancouver. Here's what Dirk had to say:

"SA English is no different from other national languages, its evolution has been driven by other languages spoken in the region. I believe that French and English led to a bastardised French in France in the mid 20th C, so-called Franglais. Some may argue that linguistic incorporation derogates from the original culture but in fact it indicates the culture is evolving - very much alive and aware of what's going on around it.

I'm no etymological expert, but suspect that it starts with colloquialisms and slang. Whether or not they get picked up by popular society may be related to their value in describing something foreign to the language (for which no other word exists), or perhaps provide a handle that is cute or convenient.

Anyway there are some interesting sites consolidating South Africanisms / slang. Try this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_South_African_slang_words

You'll note that where slang is concerned, the language of origin is listed. What's nice about the link above is it includes examples of African language words that have entered mainstream language in SA. "Hau" or "Haw" (pronounced "how") is a great Zulu exclamation, often used to convey disbelief or dismay. Eish and yebo are also goodies that have become quite popular in spoken if not written language.

There are also a few references to words originating from out of Africa. In that department there are plenty, since Afrikaans as a language is simply bastardised Dutch (also called kitchen Dutch). But some of the ugliest SA words - kaffir, for example, actually originated from Arabia."

Here's what Sandi, also from South Africa, adds:

"It’s good to know that your ezine elicited such a response. It’s an indication of how precious our own languages/dialects are.

I thought I’d tell you of a few South African terms.

What you would call a traffic light, we call a robot. (Believe me, that creates much mirth among visitors.) Our term for a sidewalk is a pavement and the trunk of a car we call a boot (those are similar to British English). On a glorious Summer’s day like we’re having today, our favourite meal would be a braaivleis, (pronounced bry-flace) the equivalent of your barbeque. One last seemingly nonsensical expression we use is now-now, which in fact means later, just the opposite!

How fascinating this topic is. As an aside, my sister-in-law and her husband have recently returned from a month-long camping holiday through Botswana and Namibia. They spent time with a 4th-generation Bushman woman, whose sister incidentally lives in England and speaks like a pukka Brit. The most astounding discovery for them was to hear this woman converse in pure Bushman language with the locals."

And Margie, also from South Africa says:

"Glad that we are opening up the topic of English in all its forms. South African English has its own vernacular with many words now becoming standard English usage, i.e. "braai" for barbecue. Many words that we use as standard are taken from the Dutch and also from Malaysian. On a trip to Malaysia we were quite intrigued to find words such as 'pondok' ( a word meaning a small outbuilding or shed) and commonly used here, 'busie' (bus) which is the Malaysian although the Afrikaans word is the same as our bus. Words in the Oxford English Dictionary like 'veld' (open plains) and 'stoep' (a terraced veranda or porch) and 'velskoen' (a soft leather shoe) come directly from the Dutch as well. And whilst on the veranda or porch - (veranda taken from Hindi and porch used in America), that can open up a whole new discussion. We find that our Afrikaans speaking and African speaking compatriots generally have difficulty with the correct usage of 'is' and 'are' and vowel sounds become distorted and changed. Isn't language fascinating?"


If you've enjoyed reading this post, consider signing up for Usha's thrice monthly ezine-Getting It Write! on http://www.writechoiceforyou.com

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

5 Steps To Start Blogging

Are you considering starting a blog, but wondering how and where to begin? The following is blogging made easy in 5 steps. Use it as a checklist, but don’t expect to make money from it. There’s a very small percentage of bloggers who actually earn a living from blogging. For most bloggers, blogging is a great way to share information and news with friends and family members, grow an audience interested in what they have to say or just have fun expressing their thoughts and feelings. Posts can be updated regularly, graphically enhanced and deleted when done with, which makes it a great medium to play with. Here’s how to get started:

1. Select a subject:
There are thousands of subjects being blogged about on a daily basis. Select one you are interested in or one that relates to your work, and you’ll be more likely to update it on a regular basis. Better still, research the market and come up with a topic that's lacking. Fill this need and you'll have visitors flocking to your site.

2. Come up with a catchy title: Your title should be a reflection of what your blog is about and easy to remember and type up.

3. Select a blogging platform. A lot of websites come with their own inbuilt blogging platforms which are easy to use. Word press is the most popular amongst them(http://wordpress.org). If you are going to use an independent platform, consider browsing sites like http://blogger.com and http://today.com


4. Find a flexible site design:
Designing your blog is important, more so when you want to upload pictures and images of products on offer. Select one that is easy to edit and which accepts images, links etc. both within the posts, and within the design structure.

5. Load a tracking widget onto your site
: A tracking widget will allow you to determine where your audience comes from, how long they stay, what they purchase, their feedback if any etc. Most sites will have some sort of tracking device already installed or as an option. If not, sites like http://statcounter.com are a good place to begin.

Once your blog is built, remember to update it with useful content on a regular basis and use other marketing tactics to draw in audience.

© 2009 Usha Krishnan Sliva

Want to use this article? You can if you include this blurb:

Freelance writer Usha Krishnan Sliva has years of article and copywriting experience. To get more free tips and writing ideas, subscribe to her ezine-Getting It Write on http://www.writechoiceforyou.com or sign up for her course, Article Writing And Selling 101 on http://www.writechoiceforyou.com/WritingCourses.html

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Word Play Of The Day

A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Rainy Days!

I guess I spoke too soon and the rains have begun! Or maybe it was my jig around the block when I landed 5 jobs in one day, that had the Gods mistake it for a rain-dance. Whatever the reason, it's begun to pour. And if getting up at 5am is difficult, so is finding topics to write on. I don't have a case of writer's block, just a burning desire to crawl back into bed and sleep off the rest of the day. Which of course is not going to happen.

So, what do you do when clients, unconcerned with the weather or your sleep problems, impose seemingly short deadlines, which you then have to meet? Usually I find taking a walk quite inspiring or at least, refreshing enough to clear the cobwebs from my head. But it's raining and muddy boots never did inspire me. There are many places online where you can begin your search, including Yahoo stories, www.askjeeves.com, www.askme.com, www.Dmoz.com and a whole list of other newsrooms and Q&A sites. If that doesn't work, try ezine directories such as www.ezinearticles.com or www.goarticles.com. Browsing forums and networking sites like www.twitter.com and www.facebook.com can also help spark a bright idea. If you are visiting the latter though, beware that it's easy to get caught up in chatting with friends and browsing irrelevant links. Set a timer or give yourself 30 minutes to surf these groups and jot down ideas, and then log out.

If staying at your desk is proving to be more stressful than helpful, a good cup of tea (or coffee, if that's your poison) and a magazine is a great way to regain focus. I tend to steer clear of books; if the plot is interesting, I begin to forget I'm supposed to be working. Magazines or newspapers work well in that they're easy to browse through and easier yet to put down.

An Exercise To Get You Going:

Perfect for a rainy day, this exercise gets you going no matter the weather. Take a magazine and at random, cut out an advert. from it. Keep it on your desk. Now set your timer (cell phone, watch, egg timer...anything works) for 15 minutes and begin to write about the picture. If it's a male model selling a cologne, write about the model: what does he look like? What is the message he's trying to convey? Is he young and trendy? Older and more sophisticated? Is he wearing boxers? A suit? Why do you think he's dressed the way he is? Try exploring other angles. Perhaps you can imagine a little bit about the model itself. Is he American? Italian? Does he live in New York? Paris? Milan? Have you seen him before? Do you think he'd be good on the catwalk? Now what about the cologne: Is the bottle design something that catches your attention?

Article Writing And Selling 101
Interested in learning to write for magazines? Anyone can. Click on this link to find out how you too can earn money writing for magazines and newspapers: http://www.writechoiceforyou.com/WritingCourses.html