Key Stages in Content Development

Posted by Laura Holton

shutterstock_326872526.jpgTo ensure your content leads to conversions, you need to go beyond researching a topic and writing a piece for publication. Content development enables you to organize and create content according to the objectives of the overall marketing strategy, taking full advantage of every individual piece. By working with your clients in content development tasks, you will find the greatest success.

Identifying the Best Keywords

Whenever you create content for SEO purposes, you need to utilize keywords. The best performing keywords tend to be phrases of several words for three reasons:

  • Single words and very short phrases are too general, which makes them highly competitive.
  • It's hard to be descriptive in less than four words.
  • Long-tail keywords tend to lead to more conversions, as they attract visitors who are interested in exactly what the business has to offer.

Determine the right keywords to use by utilizing a tool like Keyword Planner, which allows you to search for potential keywords and predicts the performance of terms in Google searches. This is ideal both for the beginning a new campaign or for expanding a current one. Bear in mind that Keyword Planner is designed for AdWords meaning the information relates to the performance of pay-per-click ads more than organic content, such as blog posts.

Brainstorming Ideas

Armed with a list of keywords, brainstorming new ideas becomes much easier. Develop a list of potential topics to use over the upcoming weeks or months (you can tweak headlines later), sharing your thoughts with your client. Together, you can rule out any ideas that are unsuitable for your audience and topics too similar to content your client has already covered. Take the remaining titles and discuss the best format for each — for instance, how-to, list, case study, or Q&A.

Defining Goals

It is critical you understand the purpose of each piece of content you write. With content targeting new readers, you will likely aim for social media engagement, shares, and blog comments. Further down the funnel, you’ll be pushing for an initial conversion, such as the download of premium content. If you’re writing pieces targeted at prospects who are ready to convert, you’ll need to ensure the content encourages a sale.

Measuring Analytics

Ask clients to share their findings of each piece of content for a better picture about which areas of the content development strategy are working and which need changing. Make sure you cover all four categories of metrics named by Ceros: consumption, sharing, lead generation, and sales.

To gain more than just page views from your content, talk to your clients about becoming more involved in content development strategies. Find out how you can play an active role to ensure your content converts.

Optimize Your Content Using These Quick Tips

shutterstock_253394386.jpgIn today’s world, quality content is the driving force behind all successful Internet businesses no matter what industry or niche they happen to be structured within. Whether on a blog, in weekly digital newsletters, or on a branded product website, the best way to grow your client base and optimize your profit margins is to provide your internet visitors with useful content featuring interesting insights and helpful information that relates to the products or services you have to offer.

Once you have custom quality content ready to publish, it’s important to do a little legwork and make sure that it stands out from the crowd. Here’s how you can easily optimize your quality content so that it shines among the best of what is already out there, as well as what’s sure to still come:

Embellish With Images

Content featuring images tend to attract at least 90 percent more traffic than articles that don’t include any visuals. Additionally, consumers will be more likely to contact you or buy from you if images are features alongside your content when it shows up in search engines. So to ensure that your quality content attracts even the most discerning of web surfers, it’s important to include at least one high quality image within the body of your finished piece somewhere. Professionally created stock photos, high definition graphics, quality user-submitted images, and even public domain photographs and graphics are effective content enhancement tools to consider utilizing.

Establish Your Authority

It’s crucial to establish yourself as an expert in your industry and to create some authority for your brand so people know that they can trust what you have to share with them. Displaying experience and expertise within your content will give readers the insight they need to know that you’re a trustworthy source of information and advice, which in turn is sure to result in more interest and lead captures overall.

Establishing authority within your content can be done by simply digging deep into your topics and providing fresh concepts to your readers that encourage them to think outside of the box. Including statistics, expanding on basic knowledge, sharing industry secrets, and providing company insights are all awesome authority building techniques to incorporate into your own quality content.

Provide Access to Extras

Another effective way to make sure that your quality content stays ahead of the competition is to provide your readers with access to “extras” throughout each piece. Include links to back up your statistics, give readers a heads up when there are freebies to be found online, provide recommendations for good reads and do-it-yourself projects, and offer discounts to those who engage with your content in some form or fashion. All of these options are sure to increase the authority of your content and enhance each readers’ experience in a way that will make them want to share it with their friends and family, as well as come back to learn more (and buy more!) in the future.

Include Calls-to-Action

Including a call-to-action within your content whenever possible is a great way to keep readers engaged and to optimize your profit margins long term. Your calls-to-action don’t always have to be about buying something – in fact, it’s a good idea to minimize sales tactics and instead focus on content enhancement when creating a call-to-action. For instance you can ask readers to follow a simple set of do-it-yourself instructions at home to test a theory featured within the content.

Alternatively, you can ask them to leave a comment or question for your perusal, or request that they sign up for your free newsletter so they can stay up-to-date with the latest happenings within your business. The idea is to get readers involved so they feel that they’re the most important part of your business, as they should.

By taking each of these ideas into consideration before introducing newly created quality content to your online publications, you’ll help to keep yourself one step ahead of the competition and ensure that your work has a long shelf life in popular search engines.

Everything you Need to Know to Write Attention-Getting Press Releases

Posted by Nancy M Ruff

shutterstock_302536883.jpgThis just in: if you want good coverage for your product or service, you’re going to have to master the art of press release content writing. Today, a great press release is not one that inspires an article, but one that is an article. Look at it from the recipient’s point of view and you’ll quickly understand why. Most reporters or news agencies receive hundreds, if not thousands, of press releases a week. It stands to reason that the articles they’ll run are those that practically write themselves.

This is good news for you, because if you spend a considerable amount of time carefully crafting content that presents your brand in an engaging way, it’s nice to know little to nothing will get watered down or lost in translation.

How Would a Reporter Cover Your Story?

Before you even get started, jot down what comes to mind about stories in the media that grab your attention. Chances are they’re things you haven’t heard before or help solve a problem you’ve been experiencing. Then take a look at the topic you want to present to the world and ask, how would a reporter sum this up in a 10-second spot? Voila! You have your angle, and your headline.

Where to Begin

Prior to drafting your press release, ask yourself these simple questions to determine just how newsworthy your story is:

  • What’s so “new” about my story?
  • Are there unusual or unexpected angles I can capitalize on?
  • Will people actually care about and benefit from this topic?
  • Is this a topic that’s also interesting to those outside my industry?

If you’re unsure as to whether your story is worth putting out there, take a look at other stories in the publications you’d like coverage in to determine if there might be interest.

Attention Grabbing Headlines

Writing killer headlines doesn’t mean you need to be clever. Journalists don’t tend to base their story decisions on your witty delivery. Instead, based on their knowledge and experience, they’re looking for something that they believe their audience will find interesting. The most important role your headline plays is making sure someone understands what your story is about. A good rule of thumb in press release content writing is to tell it like it is, but with an interesting twist.

Think Like a Journalist

If it pays to think of your press release as a news article, ask yourself the reporter’s five W's (and How) to get started:

  1. Who are the key players, who does your news benefit, and who does it affect?
  2. What is new and exciting about your product or service?
  3. Where is your launch or event taking place?
  4. When will it happen?
  5. Why is this story important and what new information is it bringing to the party?
  6. How is the story going to help the people who read it?

All good journalists know the power of quoted sources, so any you include that provide insight into your news can be helpful. Quotes in a press release are not to provide information or jargon-filled data; rather, they should add depth and insightful opinion to your topic.

Short and Sweet

Keep your press release about the same length as a short news story – about 400 words, and use subheadings and bulleted points for easy digestion. There are free templates you can find online that will help you get started. Include a short paragraph in your email that outlines your topic and explains why it’s a good fit for the publication you’re pitching to. Pay attention to what is and isn’t working and tailor future press releases to what you’ve learned.

Remember that journalists are besieged with press releases every day, so it may take some trying to land the coverage you seek. Ultimately, everything you need to know about great press release content writing is this: have a product or service that is of true value, and produce meaningful content that conveys its worth to a waiting audience.

Your Audience is Waiting. Simple Steps for Brilliant E-book Writing

Posted by Nancy M Ruff

shutterstock_208933615.jpgE-books as a format are less than a decade old, but in that time they've managed to substantially level the publishing playing field for authors. The gatekeepers of old—editors—no longer get to decide whether your work has merit or will find an audience. Readers now decide who and what they want to read.

If you’ve decided the time is now to write an ebook, you have two choices: start from scratch or repurpose existing content.

All New Content

The hows of e-book writing start with the same foundation as any book. If you’re a writer with useful knowledge, a great story to share, and a unique perspective on how to tell that story, ebook writing is a great way to do it. Try these simple suggestions to get you started.

  • Structure. Many e-books have a casual tone, but that doesn’t mean you get to skimp on structure. Create an outline so your ideas are organized and transitions between topics are smooth.
  • Clarity. Brevity is your friend, so be ruthless when it comes to self-editing. Unnecessary words and phrases, no matter how witty, must go. The majority of e-books exist to educate, so strive not to confuse.
  • Substance. Eye-catching covers are important, but your e-book writing is what needs to stand out. Your words must carry a certain weight—and be original— if you want to be seen as a thought leader. Bring your readers something new and exciting and make connections between points they may not have seen before.
  • Rebel. Yes, do your research, but not to the point that you lose your own perspective and voice. Look for ways to make your best insights pop for your readers. Try bullets, text blocks, and excerpted quotes to keep them engaged.

Everything Old is New Again

Want to skip the legwork involved in writing new content? Take advantage of writing you’ve already been doing on your blog, in white papers, or in newsletters. Don’t think of repurposing your archives as “cheating,” either. You worked hard on that content, and using it again in the context of e-book writing gives your readers (new and old) a fresh way to engage with what you’re written. Just be sure to update any critical information. Follow these steps for ebook writing with repurposed content.

  • Theme. Re-read your content and make note of any recurring themes that jump out at you. This doesn’t only apply to tangibles, so keep an eye out for tone, perspective, etc.
  • Relevance. Browse your archives and identify the material that fits your theme. Don’t forget to include guest posts (yours and others) and insightful comments. Copyrights should be checked, and it’s always a great idea to ask permission from host bloggers before you re-use their content. The added bonus here is you’ll gain the support of influencers early on in the game.
  • Outline. No matter if it’s new or old content, the dreaded outline must be written! Group your writings into categories which will help you form chapters. Take a fresh look to see what works with your theme and pare down repetitive or unnecessary information. Make notations where you think you may need to write fresh content.
  • Proofread. Even if you’re using all repurposed content, give it another proofing. If it’s in your budget, hire a freelance editor. If not, consider enlisting the aid of beta readers, who will also be helpful when launch date approaches.
  • Process. Consider writing your intro and conclusion first. It will help you see how the rest of your e-book should be structured. Use the intro to showcase your voice and the conclusion to direct your readers towards a specific action.

E-book Writing Tips

Think about using one or all of these tips to keep your ebook writing both engaging and on track:

  • Take broad subjects and condense them into bite-size pieces.
  • Give yourself deadlines that will not only push you to write, but help you head off writer’s fatigue.
  • Don’t just follow the money. Choose a topic you know and enjoy writing about and the process will go that much faster.

Finally, try writing your entire e-book before giving it a title. This frees you from having to write to the topic and opens up previously unconsidered creative avenues.

E-book writing is a great way to take your career to the next level, so if it’s an idea you’ve had on your do-list for far too long, start the process today—your readers are waiting!




4 Key Elements of a Successful Blog Post

Posted by Don Musacchio

shutterstock_264218645.jpgToday, it seems that blogs are everywhere. Authors blog to promote their books, thought leaders blog to get their ideas out there, and businesses blog to interact with prospects and customers. As a writer, you want to master writing effective blog posts that help your clients achieve their goals. Here are some basics about what makes a good blog post.

Solve Problems, Meet Needs or Fulfill Desires
Recent statistics show that there are 100 billion searches on Google every month. Many of these are about information or entertainment; but many people are also searching the Internet looking for solutions to their problems. These people have a need to meet or a desire that they want to fulfill. Some people want to lose weight, others want to redecorate their apartment, still others want to plan their tropical vacation. The list of things people search for is endless. Blogs have become an important way that experts and businesses show people how to solve their problems.

A good post provides helpful content that brings significant value to the reader. For example, Mary may want to remodel her kitchen. She can look through blog posts to garner ideas for her remodel, and she can review the blogs of local contractors to decide which one is the best one to hire.

As a writer, your job is to convey the solution to a problem in clear, concise language that lets your readers know that your client has the expertise required to solve problems. Solutions are an important part of what makes a good blog post.

Tell a Story
People love to hear stories, so creating a narrative in your blog post is a good idea. That's why testimonials are so effective: they allow a business to craft a story focused on a real person in which the business shows up at the end to save the day. Going back to our example of the kitchen remodel, before and after blog posts with photos are a great way to tell a story about how effective a contractor is without an explicit sales pitch. Health and nutrition experts also use these kinds of success stories to promote their businesses. Stories can make abstract analysis more concrete and engaging for readers.

Take a Side
One way thought leaders attract attention is taking a side on an important issue in their field. This allows them to discuss their positions with other leaders in the field. For example, there is a discussion in the world of blogging about the length of a blog post. Some people say that short posts are better, while others argue for longer posts. A marketing expert can create a blog post that takes a side on this issue. People looking for guidance will then seek out this guru and evaluate his proposals about blogging best practices.

Writers should not be afraid to declare a position or opinion on a controversial issue. You need to craft an argument for this position and provide some sort of evidence to back it up. You might include logical analysis, statistics or other studies as evidence. You may also want to point out the position of the opposing side and engage the influencers who support this position. Taking a side will demonstrate that your client is an authority in his or her field.

Make a Promise
So what makes a good blog post? In the end, good blog posts are promises to the reader. They promise something of value. So don't be afraid to make a promise in your posts. You want to make sure that your client can deliver on the promise, but without the promise, there is no reason for a reader to look at the post.

These elements are a big part of what makes a good blog post. By using them, you will attract readers looking for this content on search engines. A good blog post can position your clients favorably in the minds of readers, generate leads, and attract new business.

Demystifying What it Means to be a Marketing Writer

Posted by Nancy M Ruff

shutterstock_265239473.jpgSo, you want to be a marketing writer. You love putting words to screen, you’re adept at clever turns of phrase, and you like to think of yourself as a creative thought leader. But what does it really mean to write marketing content? For starters, it’s not the same as copywriting, which is used for direct mail campaigns and landing pages to influence the reader to take an action. Instead, marketing writers create content with a purpose and provide information, advice and resources to a business’s customers and clients, usually in the form of articles, blog posts, videos and white papers.

The Marketing Writer Defined

Ask a dozen marketing writers what they do, and you’re bound to get 12 very different answers. That’s because the life of a marketing writer can change from day to day, requiring a certain flexibility and openness to what the moment brings. One thing’s certain—marketing writers do much more than churn out blog posts. In fact, good marketing writers are reporters, experts, and researchers; and the best ones have a touch of the comedian in them as well.

Let’s take a look at some of the essential talents marketing writers should possess, as well as what businesses and brands are looking for in the marketing writers they hire.

You’re a Researcher

Successful freelance journalist and marketing writer Elaine Pofeldt believes that the most important skill a marketing writer can bring to the table is the ability to research. She says that “writing for the web is all about research skills. You must develop the best sources available because you will then have to use your words well.” It makes no difference if you’re blogging, ghost writing or producing white papers, reports or eBooks—research comes first and writing is second. Even when you know a topic inside and out, there’s always something new to learn.

You’re an SEO Pro

Contrary to what many may think, marketing writers do not have a cushy job. “What’s so hard about writing 500 words?” they ask. For a good writer, it isn’t difficult at all, except for all the extras that come along with producing that page; things like making sure the content is fresh and is optimized for the all-important specific keywords that will increase the brand’s search ranking and bring more visitors to its site. You’ll also need to write great headlines and incorporate appropriate keyword density. On top of that, you’ll want to keep up with the latest on SEO best practices so that you’re using the most current and effective methods.

You Are a Brand’s Ally

As a marketing writer, it’s important to know that a brand’s success is also your success. Instead of thinking of yourself as “just a freelancer” or employee, understand that the writing, editing, layout and proper SEO techniques you bring to the game make you an ally in a business’s quest for online accomplishment.

What Businesses and Brands Look For

There comes a time when every business or brand realizes that their brilliant content marketing strategy will not bring sales success if they don’t have the right marketing writer to help them implement it. This is your chance to step into the role you’ve been dying to play. Here’s what businesses say they look for in the ideal marketing writer candidate.

  • Curiosity. A business needs a marketing writer who wants to learn as much as possible about its purpose, message, and goals. A marketing writer by definition must also fully understand what marketing means today, and should be ready and willing to go the extra mile to understand the industry they will be writing for. It’s only with this knowledge that you’ll be able to create fresh, innovative content that supports a brand’s online marketing strategy.
  • Technical proficiency. Constructing sentences that make sense, proper spelling and grammar, and (while you’re at it) creativity all need to come together in one skilled package.
  • Ability to meet deadlines. The Internet is a 24-hours a day beast that needs to be fed on a regular schedule. Missed deadlines are opportunities lost, never to be regained. Be prepared to work under pressure when necessary.

As long as there’s the Internet and businesses who want to use it to reach their audience, there will be a need for well-written content. If you’re interested in becoming a marketing writer, there’s never been a better time to give it a try and see if you have the “write” stuff.

Quality Content and Why it Matters

Posted by Nancy M Ruff

shutterstock_113445967.jpgQuality content. The two words appear hand-in-hand in nearly every piece of advice given to marketers and writers who attempt to create content that consistently delivers. But what does the word quality actually mean, and why does quality content matter? The answer to the second part is simple: because Google says it does. The first part is a little more difficult, but the answer may be found in the ranking factors Google (and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo) uses.

Search Engines & Content Quality

All search engines have ranking criteria they use, with quality content at the top of their lists. Google, the world’s primary search engine, determines quality by analyzing your site’s positive signals. For example, it measures the amount of time spent on a site’s landing or home page and gives “points” for longer visits, with the reasoning being that you are delivering content that keeps your audience engaged.

You won’t find many specific, useful pointers if you go looking to Google for help in creating quality content, as their basically unhelpful list of tips reads more like a checklist of what not to do. While the definition of quality is fluid depending on type, niche, industry or target audience, there are a certain number of common elements that are reliable indicators of quality. Take a look at this list of proven characteristics which will help you consistently hit the quality content mark.

  • Help your Audience Complete a Specific Task. Design content that leads a reader quickly and efficiently to the next step. Do this by creating content that is geared toward a clearly defined keyword and user intent combo; in other words, avoid using arbitrary keywords.
  • Pay Attention to Word Count. While nothing is set in concrete, longer content generally seems to be favored, but that flies in the face of mobile users wanting “quick reads.” Searchmetrics found in their 2014 ranking factors study that an ideal word court was about 1,000 words, but user experience must always be priority #1. Longer content will help you rank highly and attract links, but the proper use of headings, bullet points, lists and long-tail keywords can help you format your content for easy mobile access.
  • Stop Keyword Stuffing. Lackadaisical content writing often leads to unintentional keyword stuff, especially in headers. When finished writing, do a search for your primary keyword to make sure you haven’t overused it, and if you have, rewrite or use synonyms as needed.
  • Start Linking. Search engines judge a site’s credibility in large part by its internal and external links. Google tends to frown on too many internal links, so the most important indicator of a page’s quality is the number and quality of inbound links to the page. The more well-known and reputable sites you have linking to your site, the higher Google ranks your site’s trustworthiness and credibility.
  • Grammar, Spelling and Layout do Matter. Proofreading and checking your facts does, too. Your site won’t gain trust and credibility from readers or Google if it’s filled with misspelled words, grammatical errors, and/or mistruths. High quality content should be pleasing to look at and easy to read, as the majority of visitors to your site will skim and scan the content. Make proper use of bolds and italics, bullet points and numbered lists, concise sentences and paragraphs, and leave plenty of white space. If possible, have your content proofread by someone else, and if you’re stating something as fact, be sure you have the current data to back it up.
  • Inspire, Educate and Entertain. Search engines want to reward and highly rank content that provides real value for readers, so they look for things like whether the content solves a problem or answers a question. They also look for intangibles like whether it entertains people or makes them laugh. Identify and define the primary purpose of your content and be faithful to it across your site. Content should always be relevant to your brand’s niche or your website’s topic, so keep that in mind and don’t sacrifice relevancy to entertainment.

Conclusion

Much of the content out there has quality, but if it’s misguided or poorly aligned with today’s changing content marketing environment, you run the risk of losing ground to those who have made the adjustment. “Quality content” is not a buzzword—it’s what Google and your audience are looking for. Savvy marketers will do their utmost to deliver.

Be Your Own Editor: Tips and Tools to Make it Easier

Posted by Laura Holton

shutterstock_299256572.jpgInstead of relying on an editor to neaten up your writing, submit content to your client already in top form. If you have no experience editing, the best place to learn is with your own writing. Once you have an initial draft, use these simple tips and tricks to turn your writing into a great piece of content.

1. Eliminate Filler Words

Be as concise as possible. As there is always more than one way to express an idea, check to see if you’ve use the most direct route. “In order,” “here,” and “quite” are all common examples of unnecessary words that lengthen sentences. Also check for long constructions with many prepositions and determine if there’s a way to shorten phrases.

2. Split Sentences

If after you’ve removed all the fillers your sentences are still too long, break them in half. Long sentences usually contain more than one idea. This can be identified by a heavy use of commas. Cutting sentences in half will help avoid rambling, and will also help readers keep their focus.

3. Remove Adjectives and Adverbs

Improve your writing without losing sentiment by cutting out unnecessary adjectives and adverbs. In particular, look out for weak adjectives, such as “very” and “really,” and replace them with a stronger adjective. For instance, “elated” sounds better than “very happy.”

4. Switch to the Active Voice

The passive voice sounds weak, distances your audience, and leads to ineffective content. On rare occasions, it may be necessary to use the passive voice to avoid roundabout sentences, but most of the time, the active voice is more powerful.

5. Be Positive

Change negative constructions to positive ones. In some cases, the change is obvious—such as “not relevant” to “irrelevant.” For words where there is no obvious positive, this will require a little more thinking.

6. Simplify

Content writing is no place to show off your knowledge of long words. Stick to words everyone can understand without reaching for the dictionary.

7. Cut “That”

Remove “that” from as many phrases as possible. Often you’ll find meaning stays the same, but flow improves and sentences shorten. Also note: to describe a person you need “who,” never “that.”

With practice, editing will become easier and your writing will improve. Next time you complete your first draft, spend some time editing. It’s an ideal way to impress clients and gain more work in the future.

Balancing a Busy Schedule: Success Tips for Freelancers

shutterstock_246927916.jpgEffectively balancing a busy schedule is essential for success as a freelancer. Without a strong commitment and proper time management, it isn’t possible to take advantage of all the benefits that working from home as a freelancer has to offer. By properly balancing your busy schedule you can expect some extra time in the day to use as you please, the opportunity to quickly identify and effectively manage your priorities, and the ability to optimize your overall productivity. Try implementing one or more of the following success tips into your busy schedule, and you’re likely to experience impressive results:

Schedule a Few Timed Breaks

One of the most important things you can do to keep a balanced frame of mind throughout your work day is to schedule timed breaks on a regular basis. It is essential to free your mind from the nitty-gritty for at least five minutes once every two or three hours so you can unwind a bit, stretch your muscles, and put away any stress you have until it’s time to get back to work.

Write out your break schedule on a chalkboard or dry-erase board and hang in on the wall near your work station as a reminder of your commitment to a balanced work day. Spend your breaks reading a magazine, doing a crossword puzzle, taking a walk, or having a snack—the idea is to nourish your body and mind so you are more effective and productive while you’re actually working.

Create a Daily To-do Short List

Another effective way to manage your busy day is to sit down at the end of the day to create a to-do short list for the next day you plan to work. This will help keep you focused on what’s most important so the little tasks and challenges don’t overwhelm your work flow. Keep your list limited to five or six tasks at most so you have time left in the day to tend to the smaller issues at hand. Tasks with the shortest deadlines or toughest research requirements should be listed first, while tasks with a little shelf life and those of small consequence should be listed as space and time allows.

Delegate Tasks When Possible

You’ll find that delegating tasks whenever possible is sure to take a lot of responsibility off your plate so that you're able to stay focused on your tasks at hand and minimize wasted time throughout the day. Making use of delegation techniques doesn’t mean that you have to hire an assistant. Instead get creative and ask a family member to take over garbage duty on days you’d normally do it, get a friend or relative to pick the kids up from school a couple of times a week, or pay a trusted colleague a small percentage of your profits to proofread all your content so you don’t have to spend time doing it.

Separate Personal and Work Life

If your personal and work life are compiled into one schedule for the day, you may find it tough to differentiate your priorities to ensure that no part of your work or personal life suffers long term. An easy way to keep everything going on the right track is to separate your work and personal life, just as you would if you worked outside of your home in a brick and mortar building. Start by scheduling work hours for your days and focusing on nothing but career tasks during those hours. You can then simply plan personal tasks and events outside of your work hours. The trick is to stick to your committed schedules!

Use a Timer for those Dreaded Jobs

As a freelancer, you will undoubtedly be faced with your fair share of tasks that are dreaded due to the amount of work that has to go into them or their exceptional difficulty level—these are the tasks that can get you behind on your schedule overall if you don’t stay on top of them. To make sure that you move productively through these types of tasks, use a timer and commit to giving them your full focus until the timer goes off. Projects that are notably stressful should be limited to work sessions of about 30 minutes each so you don’t get burned out before your work day officially ends.

With the help of these scheduling success tips, your entrepreneurial venture as a freelancer is sure to be a liberating and empowering experience.

Make Your Content More Exciting to Read

shutterstock_294148979.jpgThere’s nothing more frustrating than spending hours on a piece of content that you hope shines after publication, only for its message to be overlooked by your readers. To optimize your reach and ensure that readers really connect with the messages you have to offer, your content has to be fresh and exciting to read.

Like a novel that’s hard to put down or an engaging piece published in a trendy magazine, your content should pull readers in so they want to follow through with their read to the end. Luckily, you don’t have to have any special training or experience in order to make your content exciting enough for your readers to stay engaged through the last word. Here are a few tips and tricks to consider implementing for maximized success:

Be Conversational

Whether you are offering insight into a technical topic, providing your opinion about new software, explaining a how-to project, or putting together an informational piece, it’s always best to structure the content in a conversational way so that it’s easy to absorb and retain for the average reader. Use everyday language that reads as if you were speaking to your audience in person.

Ask open ended questions of your readers that inspire them and encourage them to think outside the box. Pretend like you’re talking to a friend as you piece together your outline, and put yourself in the shoes of your audience to gain some insight into what follow-up questions might be asked so that you can address them in your initial piece.

Implement Calls-to-Action

An awesome way to create more engagement and make your content more exciting for readers is to implement calls-to-action once or twice within most of your pieces. A call-to-action doesn’t have to be treated as a sales tactic. In fact, your calls-to-action should spark thought and interest in your readers.

Asking your readers to try a specific technique at home, referring them to books they can check out at the library for extra information, and offering invitations to sign up for free online seminars are all effective ways to encourage action and engagement among your audience. Don’t save your calls-to-action for the end of your content. Engage readers with actionable communication throughout to enrich the overall reading experience and ensure that those who start reading your content are enthralled enough to stay tuned and keep learning until the last word is read.

However, be sure to consider how often you steer your audience away from the basis of your content in order to find further information or complete a project, as this can actually drive potential customers away from your words. A good rule to follow is to use question-based calls-to-action throughout the heart of your content that don’t encourage readers to steer away from what they’re reading, and to use verbiage that requires taking action not associated with the article itself near the close.

Make use of Visuals

Visuals are an extremely useful tool when it comes to making content more exciting for readers and ensuring that the whole story you’re trying to get across is thoroughly told and absorbed. Statistics say that roughly 40 percent of online users respond more positively to content with visuals as opposed to plain text, and posts with videos embedded in them receive about three times the inbound link exposure that posts without videos do.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to include at least one high quality photo in each piece of content you produce. Any videos you can find to correspond with your topic will really help to enrich the piece and establish yourself as a knowledgeable brand that knows where to find valuable information and doesn’t mind sharing it. You’ll find that you can significantly increase your profit margins by including review videos for products you are promoting within pieces too.

You should find that these techniques are easy to implement and won’t interfere too much with the fluidity or insight that you want to leave behind within each piece of content you create.