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6 Ways to Become a Better Freelancer

Being a freelancer is often seen as an easy job, where you can pick and choose when and where you do your work. This is almost always not the case, and the job itself can be very stressful and intense. Living as a freelancer opens the door for a number of issues to arise, including lack of work and lack of exposure and lack of a decent income.

As a freelancer your goal should be looking to constantly improve on what you provide. The aim of a freelance writer is to be a specialist but also versatile enough to be able to take on non-specialist work when you need to.

Here are 6 ways in which you can become a better freelance writer.


Identify your strengths and address your weaknesses

The most important thing that a freelancer can do is to take a minute to look in the proverbial mirror. Being able to understand where you have strength is critically important, but being understand where you are lacking is also key when identifying how to improve yourself as a writer.

People presume that the only real skill a freelance writer needs to possess is the ability to write and while being able to write is obviously important there are other skills that can make freelancing a whole lot easier.

Being able to appropriately plan and organise yourselfis critical as a freelancer. If you struggle to organise yourself then you are likely to be inviting unnecessary stress on to yourself, in this technological age there are hundreds of programs or apps that can help you keep track of your work schedule.

A thing that new freelancers often fail to consider is the ability to touch type, being able to type as fast as possible makes a massive difference in how much work you can or can’t do.

Learn new skills

Investing in yourself as a writer is very important for potential growth. You should always set yourself new goals, whether they are about learning new areas in which to write or developing skills surrounding self-promotion. Any forward movement is a good movement and realizing how and where you could improve is a key skill in freelancing. Be ambitious.

If you have identified a new avenue which could potentially help you progress then be sure to follow it. Sometimes an online course or new software will arise that would make your life a lot easier, save up and spend a bit of money on yourself. If it helps you progress then it will pay for itself.

 

Identify the right price

When starting out as a freelancer most people try to take on as much work as they can, often regardless of the price. However, once you have had experience in the field you should make sure you’re being fair on yourself with regards to how much you sell your time for.

Being able to identify a fair price for your work is a skill that sometimes takes a little bit of time to get right. The likelihood is that any adjustment to your pricing scale will need a period to gauge as to whether or not the changes have been successful.

If you increase your prices and continue to get a good flow of work then you should look into increasing again. However, there is a lot to be said about being able to identify how much is enough for you to live ok, continually increasing your prices can often be seen as a betrayal by loyal customers.

 

Identify a niche

A good way of becoming a more successful freelance writer is to identify a specific area of freelance writing where you can specialize. Specialization in a specific area not only gives you the potential opportunity to become a well-known writer in your specific sphere, but it also allows you to tailor your prices according to your status in the field.

Identifying a niche is important, but that is not to say that you should be aiming to focus all of your attention on one area. You will need to remain sharp and versatile in other popular areas of writing in case the work in your field dries up. Not every area you identify as a potential niche will be successful so it is important you have the good sense to cut your losses should you need to.

Maintain visibility

Being visible can be the difference between success and failure as a freelancer. You could well be a phenomenal writer, but if nobody knows about you then you’re not going to get any work. You need to make self-promotion a priority too. There are plenty of places that will go into some detail about how you can raise your personal online presence, with one of the key examples of this being where and how to post any reviews you have.

There are people who specialize in improving visibility for their clients, so if you don’t think you have the skills to improve your online visibility on your own there are always people who are available to help. Having said that, it is always important to do your own research into anyone who you are thinking of hiring as help, working from a distance it can sometimes be difficult to gauge how legitimate other freelancers are.

Network

Networking is fundamentally important when working as a freelancer, being able to successfully gain clients or potential partnerships is the key to becoming successful. The more often a freelancer is able to network the greater the quality and quantity of their clientele will be. Ineffective networking can be a root cause for poor flow of work, so getting help or advice in how to properly network (should you need it) could completely revolutionise your success as a writer. By becoming familiar with good networking habits, you are giving yourself a chance to identify and target specific areas or people.

Freelance writing is not easy but it can be extremely rewarding for those who are willing to put in the time and effort to improve themselves. There are a great number of things that can be done to increase success as a freelancer, and those who understand that is always something that they can be doing to improve are most likely to be the people who are finding the most success.

Author Bio

Anna Clarke is the owner of online writing company 15 Writers. She is a successful entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in freelancing, academic dissertation writing consulting, specialising in Business, Economics, Finance, Marketing and Management.

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Aspiring Author? Boost Your Chances Of Success With This

When you’re someone that wants to write, it can consume you. You may find that you just have to write. That the process of putting pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard) is therapeutic to you. Maybe you have these characters in your mind that are bursting to come out? When that’s the case, you absolutely have to make sure that you write. Yet, you have to realize that you really do not need to ask for permission for this. You do not have to wait to ‘become’ a writer, or ‘feel’ like a writer. You can just write – and there you are, you’re a writer. But sometimes, that’s not enough.

Because when you love to write, you may find that it’s just not enough for you to be able to play writer or write in your spare time. Instead, you want to be a published writer and you want to get paid for your writing. Yet, that takes an agent and a publisher – and most importantly of all, courage. And so, this can seem like a huge and scary step for you to complete. But, if you really want to do it, and you really want to find success, then you’ve come to the right place – because we’re about to walk through what you can do to make that happen.

Work On Your Craft

To start with, you’re going to want to try and get better. Because if you’re not getting signed or any interest in your book proposals, it’s time to make some improvements. Lock yourself in your office and practice. Do writing exercises. Take courses. Read. Write in new ways. Just try different things so that you’re always improving.

Have An Audience

But then also, you may find that at this point, you might want to consider building up a bit of an audience for yourself. This won’t always be the case, but if you have a following on social media or readers of a blog or subscribers to an email, then you are showcasing to a potential publisher that you already have an audience, and this can be a selling feature for them.

Write!

From here, something else that you absolutely need to do – above all else, is just write! You cannot worry so much being a writer or getting a deal, you have to just write. So do it. Write as often as you can and make it a habit! It’s so important that you can just actually create, rather than just get the work done!

Publish What You Can

When you want to be a writer, it can often seem as if you should only be writing books. And that all of your time should be allocated to that certain style of writing. But that’s not true. You may want to think about blogging and publishing whatever you can online. You really don’t have to wait. Because publishing and writing as much as you can will help you showcase your stuff and improve your craft.

Market Yourself

The next thing that you might want to think about doing here, is to make sure that you’re marketing yourself enough. Because if you’re not trying to show off what you can do, or get readers, then it’s so much harder for them to find you. For this, you’ll want to advertise and promote what you do. And you may need to utilize anything from Adwords automation script tools to Display advertising to do this. Even social media can be powerful – so make sure that you are putting yourself out there.

Sell Yourself

Next up, you have to make sure that you can sell yourself too. And it’s often tough to do this, but it can work too. Because if you want that agent or to get a book deal, you need to put yourself out there. Yes, your work needs to be good – really good – but it needs to be relevant and it needs to sell too. And for this to happen, you need to put yourself out there, have a selling feature, and to just ask for the chance.

Keep Going

Finally, above all else, you absolutely need to keep going. It’s essential for you to build a thick skin and not stop or worry about being set back. Because we will all get different ‘no’s’ in our lives. But just because one person said no, it doesn’t mean that you have to stop or that you’ll never get published. Just keep writing, keep asking, keep trying. Because you never know when that yes, or which book it will be for, will come!

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Advanced Amazon SEO Tactics You Need to Know

Amazon has made many businesses a lot of money. Its unprecedented growth has transformed the world of eCommerce.

And yet with all this, sellers are facing more competition than ever. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get a product on page 1, let alone becoming the top-ranking product.

This is why we are writing this article. 

Here are some of the best Amazon SEO tactics you need to know to get your products further up the SERPs.

Become familiar with how Amazon ranks in the first place

Amazon’s product ranking system is controlled by an algorithm named A9. A9 uses simple keywords as the major part of their ranking criteria.

To quote them directly:

“Customers must be able to find your products before they can buy them, and searching is the primary way they can do that.

Customers search by entering keywords, which are matched against the information (title, description, and so on) that you provide for a product. 

Factors such as degree of text match, price, availability, selection, and sales history help determine where your product appears in a customer’s search results. 

By providing relevant and complete information for your product, you can increase your product’s visibility and sales.”

So, to rank a product on Amazon, the product listing must aim to meet each of these points.

Optimize the product title

If your product title is not optimized, you are going to be losing out on a lot of sales. The product title has a big impact in terms of rankings.

Titles must include product keywords, your brand name and a brief description eg the color and size.

Keywords are by far the most important aspect of a product title. They must relevant to the product, so it appears when searched for. If you have a few short and longtail keywords, use the primary keywords for the product title.

This is where keyword research and selection become very important. You should be using an Amazon tracking software that keeps an eye on how well a keyword performs for your product.

The best product listings have their most relevant keywords at the beginning of the title. This is because customers can quickly tell that your product is what they’re after and A9 likes relevant keywords in the title as early as possible.

The more that you can satisfy what A9 wants from a product listing, the better.

Optimise the product features and descriptions

Product features play a large role in conversions. This section should focus around what the product does, rather than how it benefits the customer from using it. You should be looking to use secondary keywords in the product features section.

Another thing you need to know is that the features must be written in bullet point form. This makes it far easier for a customer to scan through and read what the product does.

Now for the descriptions.

This is the section where you say why the customer should buy your product, describing all the benefits they will get from using it. Like the features, the description is also important in terms of increasing conversions. 

If possible, try and incorporate some high-quality images of the product. These should be different from the lead product images and focus on it being used.

If applicable, include a link back to your website in this section. From an SEO perspective, this affordable link building tactic (we say affordable, it’s free!) places a link in a very authoritative site, boosting rankings in Google at the same time.

Encourage product reviews

Amazon is very much aware that people will buy products that are favored by past purchasers.  Having great product reviews are key to getting your product higher in the rankings.

Reviews are essentially social proof that you have a good product. Amazon is looking for products that have a high number of reviews because they realize it will sell more, which makes them money.

Products that have both a high number of reviews and high ratings boost conversions. 

There are several ways you can get people to leave a review, the simplest being just by asking.

Once a sale has completed leave it at least a week for before following up with the customer to leave a review.

For newer Amazon seller stores, take a look at Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program.  This is a service provided by Amazon that is aimed at getting new products reviewed.

Amazon reaches out to a random number of customers who have bought the product and asks them if they would be interested in writing a review.  They will offer a small incentive to that customer in return.

Amazon will only contact customers that have an honest record when it comes to previous reviews.  You can be sure that their opinion will be genuine.

If you’re going to use other methods to encourage reviews, be sure to check Amazon’s Terms of Service beforehand.  The last thing you need is your account banned from selling activities, with little to no chance of successful appeals.

Back end search terms

The search terms section is only shown in the back-end of the listings. There is a lot of debate around this section, but honestly, it is something that does not need to be complicated.

Simply place your primary keywords in this section, entering only one keyword per line. 

Remember to not only input keywords people are searching, but change these if you find that, for example during your PPC campaign, some keywords convert a lot better than others. Always remember to mix the keywords up in the search terms. Do not just put the same thing but with connectors. It’s also worth considering using misspelled keywords here too. Mistakes can happen when typing so if your product has some words that can easily be entered incorrectly, include them here. This will improve the product’s visibility in search results.

Our guest author, Tom Buckland is the Founder of an organic marketing agency based in the UK. Specialising in increasing revenues on Amazon & Google, he’s the #1 ranked Amazon marketing consultant with http://amazonseoconsultant.com/ & the owner of HQ SEO.

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GUEST POST: 7 Things Successful Solopreneurs do Every Day

Our Guest Post today is by Bruce Wahl. Bruce Wahl is an IT expert with years of experience. He covers all aspects of IT like programming, photoshopping and other effects. He has spent some time in the field of security and is still helping other companies with the same. In his free time, he loves to enjoy nature and his two German Shepherds.

The digital revolution and surge in eCommerce have changed the face of the business world. For better or worse, standing out in an overcrowded market is a fine art. Solopreneurs abound in a wide array of niches and hitting it big is a daunting task. Those that come up roses have a long journey behind them.

The first step is self-discovery and the ones that follow are related to developing a deeper understanding of your niche, market, and competition. Your competitive edge needs to be a razor-sharp one, if you are to cut through the overwhelming noise out there. Here is what it takes to be a member of the elite club.

Uncovering true value

Competing for price, shipping, or product quality is fine, but it does not blow people away. The value proposition needs to capture the imagination of people and ignite passion in them. Many purchasing decisions are based on emotions and leading solopreneurs are masters of speaking to the heart and soul.

They have figured out a one-of-a-kind selling proposition and taken the market segment by storm. Many of them back charitable causes and demonstrate a high level of social responsibility and environmental awareness.

Getting connected

The website is the crown jewel of any online persona. It is an invaluable marketing tool, a great source of income, and the hub that accommodates website traffic. Networking in the online realm is one of the main strategies to improve your prospects.

It refers to reaching out to people on communities like LinkedIn, but also the practice of building links. Namely, links from authority sites boost the credibility of your own site and send positive SEO signals to search engines. Another way to build bridges to third-party channels is via guest blogging.

Online socializing

We all spend a lot of time on social media, but accomplished solopreneurs are not there to fool around. After all, social proof is a powerful credibility indicator. A solid social media profile encourages customers to place an order and come to trust your business.

It is often the tipping point consumers need to make a decision. Apart from collecting likes and shares, there are a couple of other things entrepreneurs do. They get celebrity endorsements, utilize customer reviews, and feature user-generated content.

Brand building

It has never been more important to nurture a swell personal brand. You have to make sure your voice is not something that others can duplicate. To create buzz and excitement around their brands, reputable solopreneurs have highlighted the unique aspects of their businesses.

They let their personas shine, and the light attracts people and garners their loyalty. In a sense, they have become exaggerated versions of themselves and managed to put their best foot forward.

Catching the devil in the details

Solopreneur cannot afford to lose sight of details. For instance, being a website content writer is a potentially lucrative career, but the legions of competition have the same idea as you. Delivering value-adding content to your audience is the chief mission and there is more than one way to go about it.

In fact, you have a slew of aspects to keep an eye on and they can all make a difference. Prolific writers know that engaging headlines, striking photos, and strong links tend the boost visibility and reach.

Constant learning

Knowledge is king and research the only way to get near the throne. Thus, successful solopreneurs do their homework every day. They know how important it is to stay on top of emerging trends and keep an eye on what developments and technologies wait around the corner.

In other words, you should strive to be an innovator and pioneer. Adapt constantly and never stop learning and improving. Get to know your niche backwards and forwards and establish yourself as a trusted expert.

Getting involved

All in all, you have to be involved in the industry. Google is just one of the tools in the arsenal. Stellar brands and thriving solopreneurs also read blogs, magazines, and other press on a regular basis. They attend conferences and trade shows.

There, it is possible to strike partnerships or meet competitors, clients, customers, and influencers. Finally, they go to great lengths in order to get featured on business websites and online review hubs. Growing a business is a complex endeavor, and it can be more than a full-time obligation.

A perfect day

There is no one unifying answer to the questions of what makes or breaks a solopreneur. Then again, it is clear that one needs to speak with a distinctive voice and tell an engaging story about the business. The next phase is letting it become a self-fulfilling prophecy of success. Therefore, be someone outstanding, a brand that cannot be emulated and replicated.

Emphasize your quirks, tendencies, and peculiarities.  You need more than a killer product or service.  The audience needs to identify and connect. Keep your fingers on the pulse of people’s needs and surprise them by exceeding their expectations. Walk the cutting edge of the industry and stay ahead of the curve.

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Should Authors Try To Heal?

“As all great art is made from suffering
So are we
Good in nature, but evil by our own free will
Incestuously created by the will to kill”

-Dimmu Borgir “Blood Hunger Doctrine”

A good book does not just share a story. It drags the reader, sometimes kicking and screaming, from the world in which they live and instead immerses them in a whole new place and time. It makes them care about characters they’ve never met, and never will.

It does not do this through well-written prose, vivid description, and sharp dialogue. Rather the author makes an empathetic connection with the reader, and the reader cannot help but follow every twist and turn of the story until the very end.

Read the whole story about whether authors should try to heal at Huffington Post and find the rest of my Huffington Post articles on my Troy Lambert author page.

Artists_Suffer

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How Being a Christian School Teacher’s Kid Shaped My Childhood

There is an aspect of education that is missing when your childhood is sheltered by four brick walls and a steeple. Inside, all knowledge is filtered by a certain set of rules and expectations, and nothing is allowed to pass through the row of glass doors that does not conform to the road declared to be both narrow and hard to find.

It’s not that my private school education wasn’t excellent. I learned Latin when many kids my age did not, which has many significant advantages that have served me well, including ease in expanding vocabulary and studying certain languages. We read from selected classic literature, Mathematics classes were rigid and rigorous. We were encouraged to read, although our choices were limited by morality. In addition we of course knew the Bible inside and out, at least the approved version and the scriptures that aligned with the culture the church and school were trying to promote, a sure way to dominate certain trivia and Jeopardy categories.

See the full article about how Christian school shaped my life here, on Huffington Post and find all my Huffington Post Articles on my Troy Lambert author page.

Christian Education

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Imposter Syndrome: Writer vs. Author

writervacationWriter, hell nearly every occupation where there is no definitive criteria for assuming the title, comes with an occupational hazard. Really, this imposter syndrome, or belief you will be found to not be what you claim you are, is wrapped in fear and a lack of confidence. It is easy to spot and even identify, but much harder to overcome. Instead of battling those demons, let’s look a solution: definitions.

If you are a writer, you must write. This sounds basic, but it is missed by writers all the time. There are authors with published works who could easily be defined as “former writers.” Why? They aren’t writing any more, nor do they plan to. Having a single work published may allow you to fit yourself in the definition of author, but it does not make you a writer. A writer writes, and if he/she does not write, that person is miserable. That feeling of something essential missing in your life if you are not getting words on the page makes you a writer.

If you have published a work, or had it published, you are an author. Note the distinction. A writer writes, an author has a published work. Your path to publication does not matter. What matters is you have put work out in the public eye to be reviewed, ridiculed, and read. This changes the game for many people. There are those who write and publish for a specific purpose, like a political campaign. Or because they have a single book they want to share with the world. It is possible to be this kind of an author, and not write all the time. (These books are often ghost written anyway) Which leads to…

You can be a writer, and not an author. You can be an author, and not a writer. Writing is practice. Publishing is the game. Some writers never enter the game and become authors. Some authors either write for a purpose: part of a business plan, a campaign, or some other purpose. Often these people hire a writer to tell their story in order to earn the title of author. But you don’t have to battle the daily need to write to be an author.

There is such a thing as an aspiring author, and they come in many forms. But there is no such thing as an aspiring writer. Either you write, and therefore are a writer, or you don’t, and you aren’t. Author is a much different term.

So if you are a writer, proudly claim the title. If you are an author, claim that one too. You don’t have to live believing you are an imposter, and will soon be found not to be what you claim. Maybe you disagree with my definition of terms. I would love to hear your definitions in the comments below.

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If Wishes Were Horses

There are times when we wish things were different, but I can tell you from experience, wishing will get you nowhere. A friend’s Grandfather used to say, “Shit in one hand, wish in the other, and let me know which one fills up first.” While this may reflect a negative overall world view, at least the shitting part, there is a certain truth we can universally see, and perhaps a tiny, Monday morning lesson.

Wishing creates unrealistic expectations. The reality of most wishmeatsituations is that hard work produces measurable results. In most instances hard work is definable, quantifiable, and has a certain value attached to it. Those measurable results should establish expectations for us, and we should logically determine them to be realistic. Instead of “I wish this would happen,” instead we formulate “hard work, applied effectively to this task, will equal this.” We could perhaps add “with a bit of luck, this will also happen.”

Wishing breeds laziness. There are aspects to any task that are unpleasant. For an author like me, this is often marketing. Wishing for book sales rather than working toward them reduces the desire or even the necessity to accurately track results. The only way to determine if the hard work above is actually effective is to somehow measure the outcome. Wishing for results makes measuring outcomes a depressing process, filled with hope and disappointment, often in inequitable amounts. It is easier to ignore the results, or lack thereof, and keep hoping to get “lucky.”

Wishing isn’t healthy.  Writers in general tend to be a manic bunch. Often in the now defunct traditional publishing model, there was a great deal of luck associated with success. So we sent out queries, manuscripts and stories with our fingers, toes, and laces crossed, hoping. The old model is no more. Writer success is a business model, one that is reproducible with hard work rather than wishing, strategy inserted in the place of hoping for luck. Continuing to wish accomplishes nothing but enhancing the manic ups and downs life already offers.

So stop wishing. Stop hoping. It’s time to stop whining, whether you are an author or in any other field, roll up your sleeves and get to work. Yes, you also need to work smart, and need to educate yourself in many areas. That’s part of the hard work. But if you want to ride, you’re going to have to do more than wish for what you want.

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Don’t Bring Me Down

The news is depressing. There’s no doubt of that. Many of us have just stopped watching. Or at least limit how much news we digest.

It isn’t a surprise. Nobody tunes into the news for the positive stories, despite what we say. Sure, a rare “Dog found” story makes the headlines, but only because the negative happened first: he was lost. We tuned in for a positive outcome of a previously negative situation. We would never tune in to “Dog behaves and stays home for 10 years without running away.” Why? Because normal is not news.

But when it comes to self-publishing, we tune into only one kind of story: the Sensational Success. Why don’t we hear about the mid-lister or the miserable failure? Because these are both considered the norm. To me, the fact that there are hundreds, even thousands of successful mid-listers who are making a living as writers seems like news to me.

It wasn’t always this way. With the big five in control, there were really only two stories: those who sold some books, but not enough to really ‘make it’, and kept working their day jobs, head hung low, keeping the dirty secret that they were authors, and hoped someday to make it. There they remained, until they gave up, or actually broke out, and the aforementioned Sensational Success.

But with the advent of self-pub, the very definition of author success has been reset, yet largely ignored by the mainstream media. The fact is this: more authors are making money self-publishing or publishing with small presses than traditionally published authors. Just as when the same trend broke the old model of the music industry, the news made its way quietly through the industry, but seldom popped up in the mainstream, except for the rare Sensational Success.

So don’t try to bring me down with the drivel stating people aren’t reading any more, the physical book is dead, and authorship is still a go nowhere career. It just isn’t true. I simply don’t believe it.

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