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PR & Writing

The use of Public Relations or Press Releases to generate marketing or social buzz.

Four Secrets Every Freelance Writer Should Know

Finding the right balance between writing what you want and writing for a living can be a difficult challenge for freelance writers. There may not be a good target market for the style and subject you would prefer to write about, but there is an endless supply of work for social media, technology and business experts, online. Here are four ways you can increase your chances of finding the right balance and earning enough money.

1.     Finding the right publisher

You can choose to write material and seek a publisher to sell your work to, or you can agree to write what a publisher requires. The two sets of work are often miles apart in subject choice unless you are one of the lucky writers who happens to live in an online social networking and SEO world.

However good your own work is, if you cannot find a suitable publisher, you will not be paid for your work. Your research hours may have reduced your pay per hour too far. Also, you need to consider the constant flow of rejections and your underlying stress levels.

If you are given an assignment you must complete on time or preferably, sooner, so you can guarantee payment. Of course, it must meet the brief offered and be suitable work for the personality with the check book.

2.     Finding jobs that pay enough

The jobs are out there and you need to find out how to locate them if you want to earn enough to extend your standard of living, at the very least.

Often the work offered by organizations will be mind-numbingly boring, but there is enough of it to ensure you can pay your bills. There isn’t always sufficient work in the area of your expertise, so you will spend time online researching the subject so you can write as an authority, taking care not to copy work directly from another source.

3.    The competition is fierce

You are not the only writer out there who has found they can work from home to avoid long car chases and the endless office politics that prevented real work at the office.

You are in competition with many countries where English isn’t the first language, but they can write for figures you wouldn’t dream of taking for a job. Just because others will work for the price of an expensive coffee each day, it doesn’t mean you should try to compete. You need to fight with your skills to not only write to the brief, but to ensure you meet all deadlines and are easy to work with.

4.   The editor is not always right

Editors vary in how they wish to see a finished product. If you write for several editors you will need to remember and apply each individual’s choice of style and composition. Otherwise, you run the risk of your work being returned for a re-write.

Even when editors are wrong in their choices, you must still apply to their terms and not fight an editor over your preferred alternative to writing sentences, paragraphs or layout. If they prefer short sentences while you maintain that long sentences make for better English, you will lose out in the long term. You might win the battle, but you won’t win the war which means they won’t offer you further work if you become a nightmare to work with.

Author:

Tim Brookes is the Managing Director of Storage Concepts a UK-based mezzanine floor & suspended ceiling company @storageUK

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The Two Things Every Piece of Web Content Should Lead With

When you’re crafting Web content, it can often feel like there are so many factors to consider, so many things to get caught up with, that it’s hard to ever prioritize what really matters most. You think about the style of your writing, specific conversion goals you’re working towards, promotional strategies for helping you to bring more eyes to your content—and yet one of the simplest parts of writing good Web content is often one of the most overlooked: do you know what your Web content should always begin with?

The secret about good Web copy is that it should always begin by stating who should read it and why they should read it. It’s that simple.

Why You Want to Say Who Should Read It

Whatever you’re writing, start by saying whom it’s for—Bloggers? Copywriters? Business owners? Stay-at-home moms? Whatever audience you’re targeting, let them know. Here’s why:

  • Shows That You Know:  Addressing your audience builds credibility. When readers see you’ve put the planning and thought into creating content to meet their needs—and that it does—they begin to trust that you’re a worthy source of information.
  • Addresses the Right Audience: While of course you want people to be reading your content, the fact is that not everyone will find it helpful or interesting. But by stating your audience upfront, you automatically target those individuals who are most likely to find value in what you’re saying.
  • Increases Effectiveness: Here’s the biggest reason to state your audience: it makes your content more effective. You’ve got to know your audience in order to reach them, and this is true in any industry, whether construction or travel, transportation or fashion.

Why You Want to Say Why They Should Read It

The very next question in a reader’s mind after knowing Web content is for them is this: what’s in it for me? Here are the benefits of answering that question:

  • Engages Your Audience: Writing to a specific audience is only half the battle—it’s just as important that you engage with them. And in terms of Web content, when readers know what’s in it for them, they are much more interested and willing to respond.
  • Communicates Value: Saying why someone should read your content is basically the same thing as sharing the benefits it offers. Maybe your content is going to answer a question or explain a topic thoroughly; maybe it will show how to do something or provide life-enriching stories that touch readers’ hearts. Whatever the case, make the benefits clear to communicate value.
  • Sets up Expectations You Will Meet: Giving readers a reason to read your content and then delivering on that reason gives them satisfaction, as well as the sense that you are someone who meets expectations. Likewise, it helps them track with you as they’re reading, staying interested throughout your writing.

Tips & Examples for Putting This into Practice

Maybe you’re reading the above tips and wondering what this looks like in actual Web content. Should every webpage start with the same, “This page is for X and you should read it Y”? Not exactly. Here are some tips for putting the two most important parts of content leads into practice.

  • Address the Reader Early: Begin your post by talking to the audience you’re addressing, kind of like this post does by starting with “when you’re crafting Web content.”  As soon as you see that, you know this post is for Web writers and by the end of the first paragraph, you know what it’s going to give them—the two key elements to starting any piece of content.
  • Use Your Title: Sometimes you might use the title to state your audience and why they should be reading, like Jacqui MacKenzie does in “How to Write Great Web Content If You’re Not a Writer.” In it, she says whom she’s writing to and why they should care all in that initial title phrase: non-writers, to learn how to write great Web content.
  • Through an Interesting Intro: Some webpages and online articles are most powerful not through a super-direct title but through a more vague or nuanced one, used to build interest and anticipation. In Craig E. Yaris’s post, “The Need to Blog,” for example, the title alone doesn’t give his specific audience or intention away. Will this be about why people should blog? Why they need to blog? What to do about it? He opens with a story that leads into a more clear audience and purpose statement in the fourth paragraph, phrased as a question, “But, where does the average small business owner find that good information to write about?”

What other strategies have you used or can you think of for implementing these two important keys to beginning Web content? Or if these ideas are new to you, how could they impact the effectiveness of your Web writing?

Author:

Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, a leading Chicago SEO firm. She writes for clients in various B2B industries, from broadcasting equipment suppliers to flame resistant apparel. Check out the Straight North blog! @straightnorth

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BlogWorld and New Media Expo 2012 NY [Event]

The BlogWorld Social Media Conference and Expo returns to New York again this year from June 5th through 7th as a must-attend social media networking and educational event. They are expecting thousands of attendees from over 50 countries with more than 200 speakers for the event. With a great trade-show planned this may be the only industry-encompassing event that will help bring together those in the content creation and publishing businesses together.

BlogWorld Speakers

There will be many notable speakers attending the BlogWorld Social Media Conference and Expo in 2012.

Greg Cargill –  VP of Client Services for Social & Media, Blitz

Greg’s professional career is focused on helping celebrities, brands, and products develop awareness through strategic and internet partnerships. Greg and his team at bigMethod have worked with some of the world’s largest brands such as City of Hope, Harley-Davidson, and Honda. They have successfully brought these organizations to the online social media marketing landscape. bigMethod was recently aquired by Blitz agency.

Greg will host a session called What Makes Big Brands Spend Money on Your Blog. He will share key points such as:

  • What makes brands decide to spend money on a blog
  • How much do they spend?

Linus Chou –  Product Manager, Google

Product manager for Google Analytics, Linus Chou focuses on social attribution as well as real time analytics products. Before arriving at Google, he was an engineer for display advertising at Amazon.com.

Linus will host a session called Measuring Social Media Using Google Analytics. His key points will be.

  • Always measure ROI
  • Understanding  how social channels are generating conversions for your business
  • Learn the difference between upper and lower funnel social channels and what that can mean for your social media marketing campaigns.

Katie Richman – Director of Social Media Strategy , ESPN / espnW

Director of Social Media Strategy for ESPN Digital Media, Katie Richman is part of the startup team that is building ESPN’s women’s sports business. Katie began her career in 2001 with MTV Networks Brand Creative and moved onto Oxygen Media in their startup days as well.

Katie will be hosting a session titled Creation, Curation and Collection: Getting to know Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr with key points focused on providing a good understanding of tastes, metrics and segmentation options as well as information on cutting edge platforms.

Who Should Attend?

Anyone who publishes online can benefit from the knowledge shared at this event. Content creators, publishers, bloggers, podcasters, radio and WebTV broadcasters will benefit from new understanding on topics such as trending strategies, best practices, and trusted techniques to improve content creation and monetization.

Author:

@BasilPuglisi is the Executive Director and Publisher for Digital Brand Marketing Education (dbmei.com). Basil C. Puglisi is also the President of Puglisi Consulting Group, Inc. A Digital Brand Marketing Consultancy that manages professional and personal branding for Fortune 500 CEOs, Hedge Fund Managers and Small Business Owners.

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The Quickest Way to Become a Freelance Writer [Opinion]

Don’t let the title fool you even though it was intended to do just that, just to get you here. Alas, there is no speedy way to excel to lofty heights immediately in this coveted career, in fact, you better bring all of the patience you have. If you are fresh from a search engine having heard of an elusive, yet fabulously prestigious and adventurous new career that can be lovingly referred to by such titles as:

  • Freelance Creative Writing Artist
  • Independent Copywriter
  • Grammar Guru
  • Word Dynamo
  • Anything that includes the words “writing” and “consultant”

You are in luck! The first thing you should do if you are seeking knowledge on how to get started in freelance writing is to immediately have the illusion above destroyed. If you really want to become a freelance writer, you should probably get more attuned to titles such as:

  • SEO Junkie
  • Current Content Destroyer
  • Manuscript Manipulator
  • Erroneous Word/Phrase Creator
  • Deadline Breaker
  • Where the H*ll is My Money?

At least to begin with. Sorry to have been so brutal, but someone needed to tell you. Even freelance writers with a list of incredibly valid, high-quality and digitally impressive links have little choice in how and where to get started freelance writing. At the bottom. (Unless they have a super-fantastic teacher like me, of course)

Why Am I Saying This Now?

You’re right, I should have said this a long time ago. The problem is that I run into so many people, on a regular basis, who should be doing this job and I can’t help but point this out to them. (I’ve got my eye on you, Justin!) Some are struggling, some are not, some don’t realize they even have the talent or the ability. Some just have a fantastic way with words, the ability to drag a viewer in for a read, kicking and screaming and such.

At one point, I thought perhaps hoarding my knowledge to myself to be an option worth considering. Well, that lasted about five minutes before I tossed up a content writing company website, hired 50 writers, and began to train others to do just as I had done for myself so many years ago. Back in those days, content writing was a bit more like an old game of whack-a-mole. You jumped on a topic and literally beat it into search engine submission until your beater broke or the time ran out. These days, it’s a bit more intricate than that.

What Did I Do?

I worked hard. I worked myself into a frenzy of carpal tunnel syndrome. I built my portfolio. I’ve shown this here before, so if you do not have one, even better, if you feel like you don’t need one, it might be in your best interest to just stop the delusion train right this instant and step right off. Although you should begin on sites like:

You should also plan to get away from them as fast as possible. Use them to build a steady base of clients. Use the resources available at sites like Odesk or Elance to educate yourself on the many elements of freelance copywriting. (Also, expect to pay for those services with percentages of yours and your clients money going to their system to keep them running.)

I studied. (Still do, every day, get used to it)

Once you step into independent mode and begin to create your own content, you should immediately get familiar with how social media is used to aggregate your work and bring your client’s, and your own, content right out into the dazzling sunlight of social sharing. When  I try to explain to prospective writers the two most important things to do first, to get on the road to the most fantastic job you will ever do in your pajamas, I always tell them to:

  1. Get Familiar with SEO (And be prepared for what you learned today to mean zilch tomorrow. It is your responsibility as a content writer to examine all trending information when it comes to content creation. Google Algorithm Change Log is now your best friend and worst enemy.)
  2. Understand How Social Media Works for Content

I was patient.

Plan to spend anywhere from four to six months (most people who aren’t still living the illusion by this point will realize they probably shouldn’t go ahead and tell the boss where to put the old day job just yet) getting attuned to what it takes to be a:

  • Website Copywriter
  • Article Writer/Rewriter
  • Freelance Writer
  • Independent Writer
  • Other Reasonably Sounding Titles without Divatude

By now, you have probably learned very little about the mass range of intricate details that it takes to be a professional freelance writer. However, I get the sense you may still be curious about the phrase that indicated the loss of money. It’s true. Most especially when you make the final conversion from aspiring writer on outsourcing websites to managing your own rowdy pack of roving clients. For that reason I leave you with a list of things a budding freelance writer should keep in mind.

Freelance Writer Resources

c/o cupcakebusinesscards.com/

Author:

Joy Lynskey is the Content Manager for DBMEI and the owner of JRL Solutions, a copywriting and content management company based in Bedford, Virginia. JRL Solutions hosts a Freelance Writers Education Blog that is managed by direct and guest posting. Joy is the Content Manager and Editor for Puglisi Consulting Group at Digital Brand Marketing Education. Joy regularly works in SMM via freelance consulting  private clients with their social media campaigns. @joylynskey

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The Need To Blog

As you know, I write a weekly blog here at Digital Brand Marketing Education, covering all aspects of social media.  I really enjoy it, but sometimes, it is incredibly hard work.  So hard, in fact, that my blog (which is due by Thursday) is written on a Friday morning, to the consternation of our Executive Director and Senior Editor (I’m sorry).

Today is one of those days.  It’s really bad for me.  Terrible writers block.  Nothing coming out.  Even this is difficult.

So, it got me thinking that in all the classes I teach I talk about how important blogging is, and how if you really want to make use of SEO all you need to do is “Write.  Good.  SH*T.” (thanks, Guy Kawasaki for this quote).

But, where does the average small business owner find that good information to write about?

The first thing any small business should do is to write about what they know and are passionate about.  This will most likely include the business they are involved in or any topics relating to that business.

They should subscribe to blogs within their industry, comment on them, and react within their own blog.  Everyone has an opinion on something, and you shouldn’t be afraid to share it.  It is ok to disagree, even if it is with someone that you feel has more knowledge or experience.

When you have exhausted the general topics, it is time to search for things that will be of interest to your audience.  There are several sites available for content curation, but my favorite is Alltop.  They search the internet for articles covering almost every imaginable topic.

Blogging Frequency

How often should you blog?  The saying goes, the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it.  I know people who blog daily.  The more you blog, the more potential you have for Google to see your posts.  The more you blog, the more content you have to share within your social networks.

So, how often?  Minimally, you should be blogging once per week.  But it is what works for you.  I know that Scott Stratten from UnMarketing blogs infrequently.  His view is that he blogs when he has something important to say.  His last blog was April 15, 2012.  And before that?  February 11, 2012.  But they are worthwhile blogs.  Interesting and entertaining.

So, blog when you have something to say.  Blog once a week.  Blog when it works for you.

But, no matter what.  Please blog.  Even if it is hard.

Author:

Craig E. Yaris is the owner of EsquireTech Solutions, which helps small business get found on the social web, whether through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, he can both teach you the effective use of any social network or act as your social media manager, enabling you to reach your clients where they are and when they want to hear from you.  He can teach your organization the social media best practices that can help you use the tools of today to cost-effectively increase your bottom line.  EsquireTech Solutions brings the social web to your business.  Visit EsquireTech Solutions or call 516-495-9107.

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