A Guaranteed Way to Make Sure Your SEO Writing Business Succeeds

Following is a question I received from a new SEO writer (actually a couple of questions) about a week ago. Although it’s couched in marketing terms, the underlying question is a perennial one, ie “How do I ensure success as a freelance SEO writer?” My answer follows.

Hi Yuwanda,
 
I wanted to ask you a question regarding the response rate for reaching out to … companies. I am using a slightly modified version of your template. I have reached out to about 150 companies over the past 3 weeks, but I’ve only had 2 interested responses (and I’m working on converting these guys into clients).
 
I’ve changed up my strategy a little, in the past week, and began e-mailing [other] sites that specialize in my niches. Hopefully this will produce better results.
 
Now, I know that not everyone is going to have the same results, but I am stumped as to why I am having such atypical results. I know that my writing samples are quality, and that my prices are not outrageous.
 
Do you have any additional tips for hooking people on the initial e-mail?
 
I’ve also created a free report to provide value to potential clients (and to justify my prices, lol). Do you think I should send this report with my initial e-mail, or do you think it best to wait until the company / person has responded?
 
Thank you and I appreciate any guidance / insight that you can provide.
 
Have a wonderful day.
 
Sincerely,
TB

My Answer

Thanks T for writing in. I can never reiterate just how much readers like you make this blog so helpful by continuing to ask such insightful questions.

I’m going to answer your last question first, then circle back to the first one.

In answer toI’ve also created a free report to provide value to potential clients (and to justify my prices, lol). Do you think I should send this report with my initial e-mail, or do you think it best to wait until the company / person has responded?

My rule of thumb in email marketing is not to overwhelm prospects by sending too much info in the initial email. Your goal with the first touch is to get a response from them. So, stick with just trying to get them to reach out to you for SEO writing work.

*************************************
Learn SEO: Take the Class in Jamaica!
*************************************

What I advise is waiting until your second touch – even if they don’t respond to the first one – to send the report. That way, it’s a follow-up, but a follow-up with helpful, free information.

Also, put the report on your site as a free download. That way, if prospects do click through, they’ll see it.

In answer to “Do you have any additional tips for hooking people on the initial e-mail?”

The one I outline in the SEO writing ebook worked well for me. The only other thing I’d advise is to target niche markets (as you’ve already started to do), and to continue marketing.

As I’ve stated many times, there’s a lot that goes into deciphering why one person can get 5 responses from 50 emails, while another receives 2 from 150, eg, rates, writing samples, what was said in the initial email, services offered, etc.

But more often than not, it’s not YOU; it could be that the people you touched don’t need your services, or they already have an SEO copywriter, or they’re in a bad mood when they open your email, or . . . a hundred and one other reasons.

Another thing I want to say about this to all new online writers is, if you’re new to business, you may not realize how easy starting an SEO writing business is – and how fortunate you are to be able to send out emails and get a response – and start getting jobs. Sometimes it’s days; other times it’s a few weeks.

BUT this is incredible!

Even the two responses this new SEO writer got – considering that it probably only took her a few hours to send these emails out  and she’s already got two candidates on the hook and could ostensibly make money within the next couple of weeks – THAT’S INCREDIBLE.

I’ve started many businesses and let me tell you, I’m still amazed at how easy this one was to start – and grow.

So my overall message is, don’t get spoiled. Don’t think, “Oh, I sent out 100 emails and only got one response.” That’s a 1% response rate. FYI, the average response rate for direct mail is 1-2%. For email, it’s significantly higher, ie:

Average Open Rate: 23.3%
Average Click-Through Rate: 5.9%
Average Delivery Rate: 96.0%
Source: EmailStatCenter.com (June 2011)

Want SEO Article Writing Jobs: Practice “Marketing Success by the Numbers”

Success is always in the numbers. Even though you may “only” be getting two responses from 150 emails, then just say to yourself, “Ok, I have to send out 300 to get 4; 450 to get 6; 600 to get 8; etc.”

Is Hard Work Necessary?

This is doing what it takes to build your business, which brings me to my last piece of advice, which is . . . when you’re doing everything “right” and things still  aren’t happening the way you want/expect them to, then there’s only one way to make sure that it will – and that is to work harder.

Don’t get discouraged, don’t compare your successes and (perceived) failures to anyone else’s. Dig in and work harder.

I subscribe to Bob Bly’s newsletter. He’s a millionaire copywriter by the way. A newsletter he recently sent out had the title, “Is Hard Work Necessary?” In it he wrote:

When your business or job isn’t going the way you want it to, buckle down and redouble your efforts.

You’ll be more productive, and at least some of your extra efforts will be rewarded – and hard work will have saved the day.

Goethe wrote, “Whoever strenuously endeavors, him we can rescue.”

Combine hard work with persistence – never giving up – and the odds of you getting the result you want increase geometrically.

I’ve always believed this, and it’s the best advice I can give to anyone who may be frustrated, impatient, discouraged, etc. with their SEO writing career (or any career).

Until next week!

Yuwanda
P.S.: In One Week, Train for a Career That Allows You to Earn Enough to REALLY Quit Your Day Job: 
Get SEO Copywriting Training Today.
seo-copywriting-training

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Writing SEO Content: Change I See Coming from When I First Started in 2007 and What It Means for SEO Copywriters

When I first started out as an SEO writer in 2007, clients would basically give you a set of keywords and give you free reign to write what you want – that was beneficial to their company, of course.

Back then, it was all about getting as much content on their site with their keywords in it as possible to drive traffic (and sales). The change I see with clients now though is that they’re becoming more involved in the process. Many are developing “content strategies.” 

What Is a Content Strategy?

As Wikipedia defines it, a content strategy is “the practice of planning for content creation, delivery, and governance” and “a repeatable system that defines the entire editorial content development process for a website development project.”  

Learn more about what’s involved in creating a content strategy

4 Ways a Client’s Content Strategy Affects SEO Writers

What does this mean for you as an SEO content provider? Four things, in my opinion, ie: (i) you’ll get more work; (ii) it’ll require more research; (iii) you’ll have to learn how to write themed SEO Content; and (iv) you’re probably going to want to raise your SEO writing rates.

More SEO Writing Work: This is because clients may plan their content out (eg, create an editorial calendar) for a quarter, 6 months or a year at a time. Instead of one-off articles, you’re likely to see more “content campaigns.” So this not only leads to more work, it means longer term clients as well.

More Research: Clients will be seeking more in-depth, specific content. No more fluff articles with keywords inserted to reach a certain density.

Providing Themed SEO Content: If you don’t know what themed SEO content is, then it’s time to learn because this is what search engines like Google are rewarding more now. If you read through Google’s guidelines for web content creation, you’ll see that they’re practically telling you that this is the kind of copy they want to see on sites.

Raising Rates: Overall, you’re going to be spending more time on client projects. This means you should probably start looking at raising your SEO writing rates, especially if you’re at the lower end of the spectrum. 

Your Thoughts?

Take note in your business. Does any of the above ring true for you? Have you started to see changes like these in your SEO writing business? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Best,
Yuwanda
P.S.: In One Week, Train for a Career That Allows You to Earn Enough to REALLY Quit Your Day Job: 
Get SEO Copywriting Training Today.
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As an SEO Article Writer, How Do You Decide What to Write When Clients Give You Keywords?

A student in the SEO course asked me the following question recently. It’s a question I’ve been asked quite a few times over the last year or so. We’ve covered this before here on this blog in the post, SEO Copywriting Question: An SEO Writer Asks, “Do Clients Tell You the Kind of Content They Want?” But, as info gets buried and it’s the new year and a lot of newbies are just starting out, I thought it a good idea to go over it again.

Following is this student’s exact question — and my answers.

First Question from Student in the SEO Course

Hi Yuwanda

I really like the [SEO] course and I’m learning a lot. I’m getting ready to write the two articles to send to you for review and I have one question: 

Although I understand the keyword research, how do you actually research for what to include in the article’s body itself. In particular, for subjects you might not know about (such as mortgages, weddings, or whatever). Would you just go online and look for information on the topics and then decide what to include?

For example, if you saw something interesting about exotic weddings such room decorations or going to a particular island to get married, would you just include it because it seems interesting? Or places that have great low rate mortgages because that seems it would appeal to people? Or, would it all be based on what comes up on the keyword list?

This is all I don’t understand so far.

Thanks, 
MK
##

My Answer

Good question.
 
To answer — usually, the client will provide you with a primary keyword phrase. So, type that into Google’s keyword research tool to find other (secondary) keyword phrases. Depending on the keyword phrase, you’ll find a few or many more phrases you can use to round out an article.
 
Have a good weekend, and good luck finishing up the remainder of the [SEO] course.
##

After I sent this email to him, he sent in a follow-up question. 

Second Question from Student in the SEO Course

[RE] “…you’ll find a few or many more phrases you can use to round out an article.”

I’m a little confused, because I’m understanding “round out” as putting the finishing touches on an article after just about all of it has already been written. Do you mean you can use the few or many more phrases to start and build the article from scratch? Wouldn’t more research be required, especially if the writer isn’t familiar with the subject? 

I’m perplexed about how to start articles, make them interesting and get them to the point where they can be rounded out according to what I think rounding out means. How does it work?
##

My Answer: 3 Ways to Find Ideas for What to Write When Clients Give You Keywords

M-:
 
Sometimes clients will give you ideas on what to write about; other times they’ll give you free reign to write on what you want when they forward keywords to you. So, write content that is helpful to their readers. If you don’t have any ideas, ask clients to give you some, eg, “Are there frequently asked questions that your customers have that I can address in the articles you want me to write?”
 
You can also do research on competitor sites to see what kind of content they have to get ideas for your client articles. Or, you can look at answer sites like Answers.yahoo.com or answerbag.com to see what types of questions users of a particular product/service are asking to get ideas for articles.

In short, there are tons of ways to get ideas about what to write on when client gives you a set of keywords.
 
As for when I say “round out an article,” I mean use secondary keyword phrases to keep from having to repeat the primary keyword phrase a jazillion times, that’s all — nothing more, nothing less.
 
Hope this insight helps.
## 

Related Posts

SEO Writing Tip: Why I Write with Google’s Keyword AdWord Tool Open at All Times

SEO Writers: Find it Hard to Incorporate Keywords? Struggle with Density? Why You No Longer Need to – Write Copy Clients & SEs Will Love

SEO Services: How SEO Copywriters Should Handle Optimizing for More than One Keyword Phrase

Search Engine Optimization Copywriting: What Is Themed SEO Content, How It’s Different from ‘Ordinary’ Content & Why SEO Writers Need to Know About It

Your Freelance Writing Goals: How’s It Going?

I’m off track so far this year as I haven’t been able to adhere much to my daily, time-blocked schedule.  It’s driving me crazy because I don’t function well without a regimented schedule. I still have some non-work stuff to get off my plate, so I decided to just go with the flow this week and next week and will get back on track the week of the 23rd.

If you’re off track with your freelance writing goals, how do you plan to get back on track this year? Please share in the comments section below.

Best,
Yuwanda
P.S.: In One Week, Train for a Career That Allows You to Earn Enough to REALLY Quit Your Day Job: 
Get SEO Copywriting Training Today.
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Marketing for SEO Copywriting Jobs? Are You Making These Mistakes and Attracting the Wrong Type of Clients

Back in early December, I received the following rather long email from a new SEO copywriter. He’d just started marketing for content writing jobs and had received a couple of “whacko” responses that he was unsure how to handle. To paraphrase Sally Field’s character in the movie Forrest Gump:

Marketing is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.”

Following is the email and my response. Of course, identifying details have been changed/omitted to protect the writer. FYI, below there is some very detailed feedback on how this freelancer can improve the marketing email he’s sending out. Maybe this insight can help you, especially if marketing for SEO writing jobs is new for you.

************************************
Editor Note:  FYI, the price of the SEO writing ebook will be increased this coming Monday, the 9th.
************************************ 

I am sending out 200 emails and then I get this one back:

“J- 

We have a staff of over 100 writing articles for our clients. We also have a programming staff as well as a link building staff. [Our company] is a big company that provides SEO services to many clients as well as other SEO resellers through out the nation as well as in Canada.

On that note we are always looking for content writers for our company and clients. My only concern is some of the verbiage you use in your emails as well as on your site. An SEO Article is an article that discusses SEO an article used for SEO is just an article with links coded into the content. 

I have also been in the SEO industry since 2007, my background was in web development and computer programming. I have always had an interest in SEO and learned a lot since then and now handle campaigns for many big firms for nationwide placement. If you are still interested in working with our company please provide me with your cost on a 1000 word article if any industry you are capable.”

This is my email I send out: 

I’m interested in writing SEO articles/content for your company. I have three writing sites and currently post my SEO articles and rates on my white paper blog [he listed his blog’s URL].  

I’ve been a freelance copywriter since 2007. My first copywriting course was with AWAI and I’ve continued to upgrade my skills. I provide professional services and always meet deadlines.

Prior to becoming a freelancer, I worked for 15 years with [a major hotel] in security and security management. I also have experience in the life insurance and retail industry. I feel very confident that I could provide excellent SEO articles for any of those business types. 

In addition, I have many interests, including health and fitness, martial arts and small business. I have four blogs which I try my best to keep updated, however it’s not always easy. 

To contact me: [he listed all of his contact information].

I look forward to discussing any writing needs you may have and look forward to a long business relationship. You can also click on the links below to learn more about [me].

I just need to know, am I doing something wrong. This guy is the 2nd one that replied today and I cannot quite figure out what he is talking about. The other guy who responded is a whacko, who emailed me and said he couldn’t work with me cause I didn’t call him back, when I actually called him an hour after he emailed me???

I know I am asking a lot so if you want me to Paypal some money for reading this and telling me what’s wrong, just let me know.

My Response 

First, let me say that I don’t charge to answer emails – for two reasons:

Why I Don’t Accept Money to Answer Questions Freelancers Send In 

(i) the emails that readers send in make great, informative content for this site, so when you send in a question that I answer, you’re really doing me a favor because I don’t have to worry about coming up with ideas for posts here; and 

(ii) if a fee is exchanged, that amounts to a consultation. This means I’d have to adhere to a schedule of when I got back to you, how the content is structured, could I use it on this blog, etc. I don’t want that. 

I like to answer questions at my leisure and I pick and choose the ones I answer – selecting those that have broad appeal that I feel will help many who come to this blog looking for answers to specific questions. 

With that being said, following is my answer to this freelancer’s questions.

SEO Copywriters: Red Flags to Be Aware of From Prospective Clients

In answer to the prospective client who rambled on about having a programming staff as well as a link building staff, and providing SEO services to  SEO resellers throughout the nation and Canada, it sounds to me like this guy is much ado about nothing.

Why do I say this?

I think he’s trying to build up his company to make it look like a large one that can give you a lot of work – all so that you’ll agree to work for pennies. Firms like this want to appear large because they’ll promise you “lots of ongoing work” if you lower your rates. Many new SEO writers fall for the “we’ll throw lots of work your way if you’ll just do it for $X.”

Don’t!

As an aside, when a firm says that they offer “link building” services, that’s a red flag for me. Not that there’s anything wrong with link building, but it’s how they pitch that service and what their link building strategies are.

Many of the skeezy firms that offer this service engage in blackhat tactics like spamming blogs, forums and websites with inane comments. And, they hire freelancers to do so, paying them basically nothing.

Following is how I’d respond to this guy. It’s basically a brush-off email, but is professional and leaves the door open in case they do want to use you (always, always, always get at least half payment up front from new clients – especially ones you may be unsure about to begin with).

SEO Copywriters: The Perfect Brush-Off Email that Leaves the Door Open for Future Work

Thank you for responding. I can certainly help you with any SEO content writing needs you may have. Following is a link to all of the services I offer, as well as my rates. Feel free to get in touch if I can be of any assistance.

Our service offerings can be found at:  [link to your website’s Services page]

Our rates can be found at:  [link to your website’s Rate page]

I look forward to the possibility of working with your firm.

Sincerely,

As for the second response – the prospect who said he couldn’t work with this freelancer because he didn’t call him back, when in fact he’d called back in an hour – I wouldn’t bother to respond to him. If he’s that unreasonable, he’d be a nightmare to work with.

SEO Copywriting Advice: Answer to “What Am I Doing Wrong”

Actually, there are a few changes I’d make to this freelancer’s website and his marketing email. As I won’t list his website here, following are the changes I’d make to his marketing email (see my feedback in red).

I’m interested in writing SEO articles/content for your company. I have three writing sites and currently post my SEO articles and rates on my white paper blog [he listed his blog’s URL].  

[There is no need to tell clients that you have three writing websites. They don’t care. All they need to know about is the one that’s going to help them with their business.]

I’ve been a freelance copywriter since 2007. My first copywriting course was with AWAI and I’ve continued to upgrade my skills. I provide professional services and always meet deadlines.

[Prospective clients don’t need to know about how you’re “improving/upgrading” your skills. Saying this pegs you as not only inexperienced, but unprofessional as well. Let your writing samples do the talking for you – and leave it at that.

In the Education/Training section of your professional profile, you can list any training you’ve had, but the way it’s listed here is a “Please, please hire me; I’ll do a good job for you because I’ve had all this training.”

As an aside, I think this maybe why this freelancer is getting some “whacko” responses. He’s telling prospects how green he is; so he’s attracting the type of clients who’ll take advantage of that.]

Prior to becoming a freelancer, I worked for 15 years with [a major hotel] in security and security management. I also have experience in the life insurance and retail industry. I feel very confident that I could provide excellent SEO articles for any of those business types.

[Again, this should be listed in your professional profile under “Experience.” And really, unless you’re targeting the hotel/hospitality industry as a freelance SEO writer, there’s no need for this to go in your email query.

Also, stating “I feel very confident,” actually says the opposite, eg, you’re new and not very confident. Again, let your SEO writing samples speak for you. Don’t “beg” clients to give you a shot. If your samples are good and your SEO writing rates meet their budget, there’s a good chance they’ll be in touch.]

In addition, I have many interests, including health and fitness, martial arts and small business. I have four blogs which I try my best to keep updated, however it’s not always easy.

[This should go in the Hobbies/Interest section of this freelancer’s professional profile. And to repeat, there’s no need to tell clients about all of your blogs/websites. By doing this, you may be planting a seed that you don’t’ have time for any writing they may send your way.

I have several blogs/websites, but the only one I refer to when marketing is NewMediaWords.biz, my SEO writing company’s site. The exception to this rule is if I’m targeting a client who’s business is in the same niche as one of my blogs. I might refer to it if I think it’ll help my firm land a gig, but this is the ONLY time to do this. ]

To contact me: [he listed all of his contact information].

I look forward to discussing any writing needs you may have and look forward to a long business relationship. You can also click on the links below to learn more about [me].

Conclusion

I hope you had a joyous holiday season and are ready to get back in the swing of things. I didn’t get a break, literally working right up to – and on – New Year’s Day. I’m trying to make this a lite work week because to be honest, I’m exhausted.

But, I’m thrilled with the progress I made last year and am excited to get going on the freelance writing goals I made for this year.

Did you make any goals for your freelance / SEO writing business this year? Have any additional marketing insight for the freelancer featured in this newsletter? Please share in the comments section below.

Yuwanda
P.S.: In One Week, Train for a Career That Allows You to Earn Enough to REALLY Quit Your Day Job: 
Get SEO Copywriting Training Today.
seo-copywriting-training

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Copyright © 2012: All material on this site is copyright protected and cannot be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the publisher’s written consent (linking to is fine).