Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Building a Freelance Career on a Budget

If you’ve just started out your freelancing career and making a pittance, the one thing you don’t want to do is give up your regular job. But how about if you’ve been laid off and are trying to make ends meet? You’ll have no extra money to spend on your freelancing career, and here’s where learning to cut costs helps. The following are five areas you can try and reduce your spending budget in:

1. Phone and net bills: Do you really need to have a landline, work phone and cell phone? Can you make do with one? If so, then give up the remaining connections, and check with your service providers to see which one will offer you the best deal. Bundling a phone and Internet connection can prove cheaper, but surprisingly, not always so. So double check to see how you can get the lowest rates possible.

2. Web hosting: You will eventually need a website to showcase your portfolio and direct clients to. Be sure to check around for some good webhosting deals before you make a decision. One such webhosting site is Bluehost, where for as little as USD 6.75 per month, you can setup and start your own site. There are no hidden fees, and a free domain is included. I’ve used them for over 2 years, and highly recommend them. If you do plan to sign on, I appreciate you going through my affiliate link here.

3. Software: You do need basic software and I use Mozilla which works really well. I also have Microsoft outlook, but you don’t need to have more than one software to begin with. MS Word is a popular choice, but it does cost a pretty package to buy and install the software. An option to consider is jarte , which is a free word processing software based on the Microsoft WordPad word processing engine.

4. Hardware: You can pick up refurbished computers, printers and even phones for a fraction of the price of a new one. Laptops especially lose value very quickly, so scout around before you rush to buy a new one.

5. Marketing: And finally, you do need to market yourself, but you don’t have to do so on a big budget. Consider setting up a free blog using Blogger or WordPress. I started my blog on Blogger, and it’s a really easy site to use. But if I had to do it again, I would use WordPress, because it’s more professional and has a lot more options. Once you’ve done this, tap into social networking sites like twitter and Facebook and use them to promote yourself. You can also design and print inexpensive business cards at VistaPrint and give them out whenever you meet someone new (even if they don’t immediately come across as being potential clients).

So there you have it- 5 great ways in which to save money and promote yourself as a freelancer.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Key Sentence: A Great Tool For SEO Writing

If you write ads for clients, you know how difficult it can be to get the correct keywords. And with almost everything being online, it’s all about SEO to get high rankings. I personally recommend sites like Google Adwords which allow you to check your keywords. But I recently came across a tool called the Key Sentence. It allows you to type in your sentence to test your key phrases and sentences and get a “score” for them. Think you may be able to do better? Simply alter the words to see if you are able to score higher.

The site itself is rather basic looking and funnily enough, the grammar on it is not 100% correct. But it’s a web application, and it works. So if you write a lot of SEO material for yourself or your clients, then check it out:
http://efbf2p34dm0a6yd7jp37wgpgd3.hop.clickbank.net/

Love and success
Usha

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Guest Post: The World Of Online Copywriting

Online copywriting has become a multi-billion dollar resource for companies that utilize the Internet. There are ads, publications, banners, websites and articles that are written by freelance copywriters through the Internet. Copywriting persuades or draws attention to whatever is being promoted. Good online copywriting invites a person to actually read the ad whereas bad copywriting can quickly be navigated away from.

The Internet has turned into a billion dollar revenue source for thousands and thousands of companies throughout the world. Online copywriting is more often associated with a form of article called a Search Engine Optimized (SEO) article. The SEO copywriter writes articles, varying in lengths, to fit a series of keywords or phrases that will turn up prominently in an Internet search through such search engines as Google or Yahoo.

The web copywriter must be Internet savvy. Often links are used within the article that will direct the reader to an additional webpage. Online copywriting is a valuable tool used by companies who want to reach a wider demographic audience. Many website articles are tailored to meet the demands the customers are expecting and as a way to draw potential visitors in, the web copywriter must have online copywriting articles that are suited to that audience.

Words have power. We see that day in and day out through the commercials and ads we see each day. But one form of online copywriting we do not often take into consideration when thinking about copywriting in general is that essays or reviews against a particular subject are considered a form of marketing. Take for example the government and organization ads against smoking. The articles and commercials are very much against use of any form of tobacco. Their use of health statistics show the detrimental effects that smoking has on our bodies, not only as a tobacco user, but through second hand smoke as well.

As more people turn to the Internet for personal enjoyment, shopping and to stay informed, online copywriting will continue to be a formidable force to be reckoned with. Jobs will be created and the opportunities to advance in this career field will continue to rise. If you find yourself intrigued by the idea of being a copywriter, it is definitely worth checking into.

Networking and Joint Promotion Opportunities for Writers/Editors

Hello All,

I'd like to make this blog a little more interactive, and a little more about 'you' too. So I've given it some thought and come up with these ideas. Let me know if anyone is interested (and I hope a lot of you are), and we can chat further.

1. I’ll be happy to do an interview with you on www.writechoiceforyou.blogspot.com. This would be similar to an earlier one I did: http://writechoiceforyou.blogspot.com/2009/06/bookkeeping-basics-for-freelance.html

2. Host a Guest Post. You can see an example here: http://writechoiceforyou.blogspot.com/2009/07/why-every-writer-should-also-be-editor.html

3. Paste a short bio or paragraph talking of your site or work.

The posts will automatically get promoted via twitter, facebook and linkedin.

Just remember they should all be related to writing/editing/freelancing, or even marketing, and I will need to approve/edit the guest posts and bios. With regards to the interview, we can come up with relevant topics together.

Love and success,

Usha

Monday, April 19, 2010

Creative Ways To Generate Ideas

Ideas are everywhere, but nowhere to be found when you most need them. Which is why most writers complain of 'writers block' when it comes to generating those much needed 'lightbulb' moments.

Here are some ways which have helped me in the past and may help you nudge your noggin into some creative thought:

Read outside the box
: Most often we are told to write about what we know. But it's great to take a break from (Online marketing and health and wellness for me) your routine topics and grab a book or a magazine you wouldn't normally touch. Read it, skim through it, and you might be surprised at the thoughts that pop into your brain (including in some instances- whatever was I thinking by checking this book out from the library!)

Play a brain game
: Gather your friends and family around you and pass out pieces of paper and pencils. Then take turns in shouting out a word, e.g Black and see what comes of it- Laundering black money, Ways to clean a blackened pot, Games to play during a blackout etc.

Shake it up: Get out of your 9am - 5pm (or in my case, 5am - 3pm) routine, and do something different. It's often hard to make new friends or meet people with a similar interest if you are sitting behind your computer in your home office. Stir the pot a bit and join a club or a class. I've recently committed myself to going for yoga classes twice a week. Granted, it's not an active sport, which is what I also need to reduce my expanding waistline ;), but I've already chatted with some friendly, wonderful people. And I feel good about myself. It's also providing me with an insight into community and rec centers and how they work - I smell several stories already.

So, the next time you're stuck for ideas and have run out of magazines to inspire you, try doing one of the above instead.

What do you do to generate ideas?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Getting in touch with your inner grammatical Goddess (or God)

As we’ve often seen, there are plenty of freelance writing myths which hound us to our early retirement. One such myth is that you have to have a journalism background or an English degree to become a successful freelance writer. If this were the case, most freelance writers would be out of a job. It doesn’t matter you’re background, but what matters is that you put it to good use. A stay at home parent with two kids? Look for ideas that would appeal to parenting magazines or websites. A yoga instructor with an interest in acupressure? Holistic websites will welcome you.

What you do need to have is a good grasp of the English language (or language you’ll be writing in) and ensure your work is grammatically correct. If you rely on MS Word spell check tools, you could be in a lot of trouble. As a writer, your editing skills need to be perfect. Nothing will annoy an editor or employer more than receiving a query letter or proposal which is filled with grammatical errors, and sentences which don’t read well.

Invest in a few dictionaries and grammar guides and use them, or ask someone to help you edit your work before its sent out.

And if you think you never make mistakes, read on to see if your guilty of any of the following:

It’s versus Its : The former is a contraction of It is, or It has. The latter is a possessive pronoun. If you are unsure, say the sentence out loud, e.g. It is a lovely morning (It’s a lovely morning), and The cat chased its toy around the room.

Your versus You’re: Again, this is a fairly simple mistake to avoid. Your is a possessive pronoun- This is your book, and You’re refers to You Are, as in, You’re disturbing me, let me work.

Affect versus Effect: This one is probably one of the most common mistakes made, and I always have to think twice before I use either word in a sentence. Affect is a verb. For e.g. Your inability to articulate will affect the outcome of this meeting. Effect is a noun as in The effect it had on him was magical.

I, Me and Myself: I is a subjective pronoun and as such it belongs in the subject of a sentence. A simple way to figure this out is to remove the second person from the sentence: Give the toy to Bob and I – remove Bob and you are left with, Give the toy to I. Is that correct? Of course not, so replace I with me. Myself is a reflective pronoun and should be used only when you’ve referred to yourself already: e.g. I myself would not do this.

Still think you’ve got it all in the bag. Have you spotted the FOUR grammatical mistakes in this post?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Quick Fix Social Networking Tools

I write mainly for coaches and motivational speakers, and in this context, I write a lot of SEO related articles. In fact, I specialize in writing on Social Media, so it seems a bit strange that I did not make the time to get my business- Write Choice For You- onto Facebook.

The reason for this is simple: my day is divided into a)Finding suitable writing jobs, b) Working on the projects I elect to undertake, and c) Marketing my skills and the company via various online and offline plans. If the former two occupy a lot of my time, than the latter must suffer, as it has been for the last two months. Can I complain? Of course not. if money comes in, that's good! And since I work a short work-day, something has to give. In another 6-12 months, I hope to be able to extend my working hours and that's when a stronger marketing plan will need to kick in.

In the meantime, I'm always looking for shortcuts to help me build up my marketing on a tight time-frame. And so when I came across the following links, I was thrilled. The former show you easy ways to upload/update your business on Facebook:

http://kristenluke.wordpress.com/2009/07/26/how-to-setup-a-facebook-business-page/#comment-726

http://www.insidefacebook.com/2009/07/28/8-tips-for-effectively-updating-your-facebook-page/

These are sites which will allow you to write out your posts and set a time and date for when you want them sent out. They also have other nifty features like letting you automatically unfollow those who have unfollowed you, and tallying statistics as to the number of posts versus your followers.

http://www.tweetdeck.com/
http://www.socialoomph.com/
http://www.tweet-u-later.com/

Do you have any marketing tools that provide quick fixes? Write and let me know.