Here goes . . .
1. On the Importance of Following Up with Prospects on Possible SEO Writing Jobs
Nina over at NinaOnline wrote in the comments section of the post, New SEO Writer Has Start-Up “Troubles”: Some Helpful Advice:
The fortune is in the follow-up! People are busy, I know because I am one of those busy people! You have to contact me like 3-4 times before I respond if your message is not on my priority list. I had a really important email about a problem I was trying to solve, and it took me 8 days to respond.
I second this – to the max. I sometimes have emails sitting in my inbox for two or three weeks before I get to them. As Nina said, I’m very busy, so if it’s not on my “must do” list, it waits. I try to eventually get to all questions, especially from readers of my blogs.
Another thing I wanted to point out is that sometimes when you follow up, you’ll land a job because most freelancers don’t follow up. So if your email, phone call, post card, etc., hits a prospect at the right time, you’ll be the ONLY one vying for the job – and they’ll go with you for that reason alone (if price, writing samples, etc. are ok with them, of course).
So follow up. As Nina so succinctly put it, “The fortune truly is in the follow up!”
2. On Having the Courage to Raise Your SEO Writing Rates
Paul over at Quality Copywriting Services wrote in the comments section of the post, Backlog of 400+ Writing Jobs – Need Your Help (Here’s Proof that SEO Writing Rates Will Increase in 2013):
I do believe you hit the nail on the head about writing rates going up. As someone who has doubled rates over the past 2 years (I now charge $50 for a standard web page, more for themed), I can attest that raising rates is absolutely the best course of action.
One warning though — after one of my price increases, it did appear that my marketing results went way down, and they did at first. I guess I crossed some kind of price point that weeded out a large number of SEO companies.
I considered lowering rates a bit, but then decided to stick to the new prices. Eventually, the work came in, and the quality of the clientele is much better at these pricing levels.
I landed a large client at these higher price levels and I think a company like this might not have considered a $25 a page writer.
Bottom line — raise your rates, and stick to them even if things seem slower at first. You won’t regret it.
Raising your SEO writing rates can be really scary. I remember when I went from $25 to $35, I lost some clients – mostly those who were used to getting a discount for bulk projects. Then, when I went from $35 to $45, I lost more.
But an interesting thing happened around this price point – I gained clients who didn’t even quibble about rate. It’s almost like they expected to be paying this much.
Now, my SEO writing company’s rates average about $85 per article – and I can’t remember the last time a client asked for a discount, which happened frequently when I was charging $25 per article.
I think you kind of move to a different tier of client when you charge more. They’re more concerned about quality and you meeting deadlines than how much the copy costs because they’re already invested in the content marketing process and know that they have to pay for quality. Hence, what your SEO writing rates are is not the question at hand; it’s can you provide what they need – on time.
So don’t be afraid to raise your rates, but do know that you may lose some clients and it may take some time to land those higher-paying ones.
3. Observation on Working for Content Mills, Burnout and Learning How to Charge
Donna wrote in the comments section of the post, Two SEO Writers Disagree on Rate & Content Production: Here’s Their Story — What Do You Think?:
I learned how to write 10 400-500 word articles a day by working for a well-known content mill. This company allows writers to select 10 titles per day and pay $15 per accepted article, via Pay Pal two times a week. I worked a full day doing this. $150/day, 6 days a week = $900/week = roughly $45K/year. In my area, college grads are being paid this straight out of school, so it looks like decent pay.
However, when factoring in self-employment taxes, which will go up to 39% soon, plus personal income taxes of roughly 20%, plus our business expenses for running our sites, etc., I have to charge a lot more than $15 per article in order to “feel” $45K . … I like your idea of a mid-range price of $25-$50 per short article to start with in order to guarantee a steady income stream.
I’ve written for content mills, eg, AssociatedContent.com, Hubpages.com, eHow.com, etc.
You definitely learn how to write faster and that’s always a good thing when you are paid by the piece. However, these days, clients are into “content marketing,” so it’s less about turning out quantity content on certain keyword phrases, and more about building a brand.
I stopped writing for content mills back in 2010 or 2011. I don’t even consider these types of writing jobs anymore.
If you go this route, use it to your advantage, ie, to get more comfortable as a writer, to build your writing portfolio and to learn how to do keyword research, etc. Then, once you get these skills under your belt, move on. Don’t stay stuck writing for these types of sites – not if you want to make a “real living” as an SEO writer.
This is just my opinion.
4. On Having the Balls to Say “No” to Taking on Certain Clients
Tom wrote in the comments section of the post, Marketing for SEO Copywriting Jobs? Are You Making These Mistakes and Attracting the Wrong Type of Clients:
I . . . second your point about declining problematic clients. My perspective is this: which clients do I want to accept into my practice? Just as a lawyer, doctor or accountant can decline taking on new clients, so too can writers.
Some clients are worth their weight in gold. That’s most of them, thankfully. But others can run you so deep into a bottle of Xanax or Prozac that you may never crawl out. They’re not worth any amount of money to work with.
It’s your business, so if you have a gut feeling about a client, run with that. After all, you didn’t go into business to be treated badly (being an entrepreneur in and of itself can be stressful enough). I’ve ignored my gut on a few occasions and lived to regret it.
I’ve been freelancing since 1993, and have an instinct about some prospects. Hence, I don’t second guess it. I will decline (nicely of course) to take on clients that I feel uneasy about – even if I need the money. There’s nothing worse than working with a client who stresses you out.
Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. In the words of Nancy Reagan, “Just say no.”
5. On Should You Use Bidding Sites to Gain Experience as an SEO Writer
Suze wrote in the comments section of the post, Get SEO Writing Jobs: A Freelancer Asks, “Should I Use Bidding Sites (eg, Elance, Guru) to Gain Experience?”
I found the auction sites a pretty big waste of time, too. The closest I ever got was sites like Writers’ Access. You post content and then clients buy it. Or you post submissions for approval to jobs they post. I used those submissions to build my samples portfolio, so I didn’t consider it a waste of time or effort, even if they didn’t sell.
Oh, and just for the record, I don’t have a degree anywhere near associated with writing, or even business. I went to paramedic school – which helps with writing in the medical niche. My biggest client right now though is a real estate firm. SEO writing is pretty much like any other type of writing – you can either do it well or not. No one, not even Yuwanda, can teach you talent. Business, yes. Talent, not so much.
AND . . .
Nina over at NinaOnline once again chimed in, writing:
I avoid Elance and sites like that at all cost. However, I admit when I first got started writing, I used Elance and I gained some clients. But, the time getting those clients weren’t worth the effort. Instead of going on job boards, I found great success with speaking, and networking, and cold calling. In fact that same firms [sic] that I emailed never responded to the email, but they did respond to the cold calls.
If you’re a regular reader of my blogs and websites, you probably know that I’m not fond of bid-for-pay sites at all. But, others have had success with them. Hayden Jackson, a freelance writer, details how she’s earned up to $5,000 per month writing for Elance.
So don’t take anything off the table until you investigate it for yourself.
SEO Content Writing Advice for Freelancers: Conclusion
So there you have it – five pieces of specific advice from freelance SEO writers just like you who started, made mistakes, learned from them and kept going.
I hope you found their advice helpful, and feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below.
P.S. Hope you can join us for the SEO copywriting class in Jamaica. There’s still time!
Learning SEO is about so much more than learning a new skill; it’s about changing (taking control of) your life! Proof? See average salary of SEO writers in graphic just below.
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