What Is SEO Writing in a Post-Penguin 2.0 World? What Online Writers Need to Know to Stay on the Right Side of Google

Google’s latest big algorithmic update — Penguin 2.0 has finally arrived. It’s been highly anticipated as Matt Cutts, the search giant’s SEO guru, has been talking about it for months. And once again, it changes how SEO writers must approach their work. Here we’ll detail exactly what Penguin 2.0 is, and what SEO content writers in particular need to know to stay on the right side of Google.

What Is Penguin 2.0?

This update focuses mainly on anchor text, backlink patterns and undesirable link building practices (eg, paid links). As explained in the post, Penguin 2.0: What Likely Changed and How to Recover, on the HuffingtonPost:

According to Matt Cutts, the new version of Penguin is primarily designed to penalize websites that utilize black hat SEO techniques and reward websites that offer genuine value. . . . The ultimate goal is to cut back on link spamming and hacking, while providing webmasters with the tools to fix hacked sites.

Before we get to some specific areas that SEO copywriters should pay attention to post-Penguin, following are a few facts about this update.

Penguin 2.0 Facts and Figures

Arrival Date: The update was announced by Matt Cutts on his blog on May 22, 2013.

Follow Up Update: It is the fourth Penguin-related launch Google has done, but because this is an updated algorithm (not just a data refresh), we’ve been referring to this change as Penguin 2.0 internally.

Purpose: To crack down on web spam.

Number of Sites Affected: Less than 5 percent of U.S. English sites. Again, this is according to Cutts’ blog, where he states that approximately 2.3% of these types of queries will be affected. He goes on to point out that the scope of Penguin varies by language.

SEO Writing Tips Post-Penguin 2.0

Following are some specific areas to pay attention to as an SEO writer in Google’s post-Penguin 2.0 world.

What SEO writers need to be worried about post-Penguin 2.0.

I. GUEST POSTING RULES POST-PENGUIN 2.0

This has to do with link building .To explain, after the first Penguin update (Penguin 1.0), many webmasters sought to get link juice by writing guest posts (usually for high-traffic blogs). This is just good SEO practice, right? Normally yes.

The Problem Google Has with Guest Posting That’s Addressed in This Update

Many webmasters are so strapped for time that they will accept any and all guest posts. And, you the guest poster gets link juice because they add a link and anchor text to the bio section of their posts. As more and more companies moved to guest posting and started receiving a lot of links because of it, Google stood up and took notice.

While guest posting is a great way to build backlinks, Google wants you to do it with your niche in mind. If your site is about SEO writing, you should have posts on it about fashion.

As a webmaster, I can’t believe how many non-relevant “guest posts” are submitted to me for my blogs. I get AT LEAST 1-3 per day and you know what, 99% of them have nothing to do with my niches (eg, freelance writing, SEO writing, self-publishing, etc.).

5 Do’s and Don’ts of Guest Posting Post-Penguin 2.0

i) Relevancy: So yes, still use guest posting as a method of building backlinks, but submit your content to RELEVANT blogs.

ii) High-Quality Blogs: Also, even if the blog you submit your guest post to is relevant, if you see that they seem to accept posts from any and every body, then don’t submit to them.

How do you find high-quality blogs and websites to submit guest posts to? One way to do it is the check the page rank. Those with a PR of 4 or higher are usually good candidates.

iii) Keywords: You should worry less about using keywords and more on using branded anchor text. FYI, when you do use keywords, make sure you vary them — no more submitting tons of guest posts with the same keyword targeted. Google wants variety.

iv) Authorship: Google authorship is really, really important to the search giant. They want to know who you are. Hence, make sure you have created your Google author profile and use it in the bio section of your guest post so the search giant can verify – and give credit to – you/your brand.

How does this help? Think of it as creating your web footprint. For example, if you see an article written by Joe Schmoe at The New York Times, you know that he’s a reputable writer, right? You probably don’t question his credentials and you can find stuff written by him all over the web.

Same thing with your profile. If you create great content regularly in your niche that gets shared a lot, Google wants to give credit to you. They’ll ostensibly reward your content appropriately in search results when it shows up because you’re (and your blog are) a “verified”, reputable content producer.

v) Quality Content: This hasn’t changed; the one thing that Google repeatedly says that it wants is great content. So create content that is well-written, well-researched and relevant to your target audience.

Google has a quality search team that seeks to weed out “bad content.” If you publish generic, poorly written content that doesn’t add value to the end user, you just might find yourself on Page 200 of SERPs.

Much has been written about the death of guest posting and how Google hates it. The same thing was said about article marketing after the Panda update in 2011 and it’s simply not true. Guest posting is a wonderful way to build backlinks – if you follow some guidelines (like the ones outlined here).

FYI, here are some SEO writing guidelines to follow to avoid writing low-quality content. They are based on some questions that Google said that webmasters should ask themselves before publishing content. These were as a result of the 2011 Panda update.

II. THE RULES OF ANCHOR TEXT POST-PENGUIN 2.0

What Google is cracking down on here is exact match anchor text. What is this?

What Is Exact Match Anchor Text?

It’s just like what it sounds like it would be – an EXACT match of a keyword phrase used as anchor text.

Some good keyword phrases are awkward, eg, “seo articles writing.” It gets 3,600 searches per month, but you’d have to stretch to use this EXACT keyword phrase correctly. You could use “writing SEO articles” (which counts as the same keyword phrase), but the first version is not grammatically correct.

Remember, Google wants well written (eg, grammatically correct), informative content. So intentionally using an exact keyword phrase as anchor text that gets lots of searches, but is not proper grammar, will no longer be rewarded like it was before.

The reason Penguin 2.0 focuses on this is that after digging through a lot of data, Google found a correlation between exact match anchor text and spam. So just be careful of this. If you’ve done it in the past, it might be worth it to work your way back through your site and clean up as much as you can of this. While it can be time-consuming, it can pay off big over time.

Post-Penguin 2.0 Anchor Text Tip: Keep diversity in your anchor text. One way to do this is to use long-tail keyword phrases.

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Reminder: Prices on some of Inkwell Editorial’s ebooks and e-classes will increase on June 1st. Note: Seo Writing Jobs is an Inkwell Editorial property.
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III. GETTING BACKLINKS POST-PENGUIN 2.0

The thing you want to check out here is who you’re linking to and who’s linking to you.

You want links from high-quality, relevant sites. So, don’t allow links from low-quality sites on your blog (eg, via the comments section) and don’t link out to low-quality sites.

One final thing here, keep relevancy in mind. Just because a site has a high PR rank, for example, if it’s not relevant to your niche, you’re only hurting your site in Google’s eyes. So remember, your job is two=fold on this front – make sure the sites you link to and allow links on your blog are: (i) high quality (remember, checking page rank is one way to get an idea of this); and (ii) that it is relevant to your niche.

A Little Story about Getting/Receiving Credible Backlinks

Sometimes, I get guest posts that are on-topic. BUT, the posts will have links to sites that have nothing to do with my niche. Now, it’s fine if you’re using an example in your post and link out to an authoritative site to support your example.

For example, one time I had a guest poster submit a great article, but they linked out to a major home retailing site in the post. Now if they were talking about ergonomic chairs for freelancers and wanted to link out to an example of the type of chair they were talking about, that would have been fine. But no, they linked out to a refrigerator – which had nothing to do with the post at hand.

Obviously they were working for a company who wanted to get backlinks to that page on that site. But it had nothing to do with MY niche. I published the post, but deleted the link. The writer asked me to reinstate the link, but I declined, explaining to them that it wasn’t relevant to the content on my blog.

After receiving a few posts like this, I updated my site’s guest posting guidelines to reflect this change, ie:

All links in your article/bio must be relevant to freelancing, eg, don’t submit a post about how you got a job freelancing, then link to a site about “home decor” in your bio. … We realize a lot of companies hire freelancers to get backlinks to their site from blogs with good search engine visibility. InkwellEditorial.com is a blog about freelancing and that’s why we not only seek guest posts that are on topic, but ones that will naturally create backlinks to this site that are on topic as well.

IV. LINKBUILDING POST-PENGUIN 2.0

Piggybacking on the last point, the rate at which you acquire links to your site is something that Penguin 2.0 addresses as well. Many spam sites seek to acquire a lot of links, quickly. Google works from the premise that honest, hardworking webmasters acquire links naturally – over time.

So if your site gest more than a certain number of links per day, for example, Google may disregard it. The article, Google Penguin, the Second (Major) Coming: How to Prepare, on Search Engine Watch explains it this way:

Another area of interest at present is the rate at which sites acquire links. In recent months there definitely has been a noticeable change in how new links are being treated. . . .  there are definite correlations between sites that earn links consistently and good ranking increases. Those that earn lots quickly do not get the same relative effect.

The graph on the linked-to page on Search Engine Watch shows that only up to 75 links per day are counted by Google; the excess are ignored.

Conclusion: Why Penguin 2.0 Means More Work for SEO Writers

As we said in the beginning of this post, this Google update focuses on anchor text, backlink patterns and ink building. And content marketing addresses all of this. In fact, it can be thought of as the new link building strategy. And when you think about all the changes Google is making, it makes sense.

What’s the best way to get high-quality backlinks? Write quality content and distribute it via guest posting to high-quality blogs and websites.

What’s the best way to get readers and subscribers? Write relevant, quality content regularly that solves problems for a niche audience. Readers will link to it, share it via social media, etc., which causes your site to rise in SERP results.

What is the best way to acquire links naturally, over time? Create quality content, regularly (at least once or twice per week).

Forms of Content Marketing

And don’t forget, content marketing is more than just the written word. It covers text as well as video, infographics, slides, cartoons, photos and anything else you can think of to publish on your site/blog.

Been Hit by Penguin 2.0? Can You Recover?

One final thing I want to share — as with most of Google’s updates, don’t rush out and make major changes to your blog right away, especially if your site has lost rank.

Other than doing some obvious cleanup (eg, creating diversity in your anchor text to avoid a lot of exact matches), let the dust settle a bit. Many times, sites bounce back in SERP results after a few weeks. Sometimes you may have to do a lot; other times you may not have to do anything at all.

See discussion in the video below on how popular tech site DaniWeb recovered after having their traffic cut in half by Google’s Panda update — and how it recovered.

Share Your Thoughts

Have you seen any effects of the recent Panda update? Have you heard from your clients about it (if you’re an SEO writer)? Will this change the way you write content? Did you learn anything from this post? Please share in the comments section below.

For my American friends, hope you enjoyed the long Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Have a great week (only 4 work days — yeah!).

Best,
Yuwanda

P.S.: FYI, did you know that the average salary of SEO writers increased by $10,000 from Sept 2012? Proof?

SEO Content Writer Average Salary, Fall 2012

Remember, learning SEO is about so much more than learning a new skill; it’s about giving yourself the tools you need to take control of your life.

P.P.S.: Avoid freelance writing dry spells by making extra money as an affiliate marketer: Learn how to earn $50-$150/day online pretty seamlessly in the best-selling ebook, How to Make Money Placing Ads on Free Classified Ad Sites.

Copyright © 2013: All material on this site is copyright protected and cannot be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the editor’s written consent (linking to is fine).

My Road to Success as an SEO Writer: Some First-Hand Career Advice for All Freelancers

Recently, I received an email from a freelancer who was disappointed because she had shelved her freelance career – for the time being – and went out and got a full-time job. She felt like a failure and asked me if there was any insight I cared to share.

Following is part of her email to me. My advice follows.

… I know something is broken in me. I network and still attract broke people. Therefore I went and got a full time job for a wide variety of reasons … At first I felt like a failure for going back to get a JOB. But I keep telling myself its the bank for my biz and I can invest in better marketing to get high end clients.

I am crafting an exit strategy for my job but it serves its purpose for now. Even though sometimes I “cry” at night because the voice in my head says I am a failure because I got a real job. Any insight you would like to share?

My Advice

Following is the response I sent to her.

One thing I’m learning as I get older in life is — nothing is sure in life but change. So, don’t feel like a failure. You’re doing what you have to do. I did it.

After owning my own biz in NYC for 10 yrs, I had to get a job when I moved to Atlanta after being there for a couple of years. Boy, that was hard, cuz I was used to being my own boss.  I’m a true believer that everything happens for a GOOD reason. So look for the lessons in it, take it for what it’s worth and still work your life plan (you do have one, don’t you?).

I just wanted to expand upon this a bit, because it’s not as uncommon as you may think. Much like an addict trying to break a drug habit, many  freelancers have given freelancing a shot a few times before they make a successful go of it. So, don’t feel bad if you have to go out and get a job again (in fact, count it as a blessing that you landed one in this economy; many aren’t so lucky).

FYI, I’ve been in that same boat.

My Trajectory to Freelance Success

As I told this freelancer, I had to get a job – and this was after 10 years of running my own business in New York.

It was my last option, but I had gotten to the point where I had to borrow money from an uncle to pay my mortgage, and borrow from one of my sisters to pay my daily living expenses. So I had no choice. Talk about feeling like a failure.

The six stages of success in my SEO writing career

Freelance Success Comes in Stages

At least for me it did.

Stage 1: Decide

When I lost my last job – back in 2007 – I vowed never to work for someone else again. And luckily, I haven’t had to. BUT remember, I had years of experience under my belt as a freelancer – as an editorial freelancer no less.

For those who don’t know my story, I was a corporate recruiter and I was down-sized out of that job.

I knew I could make a go of doing my own thing, but I had to first decide with my whole being that there was no back-up plan, then put a plan into place to help make my decision stick.

Stage II: Assess Skills

One of the first things I had to do was take stock of my skill set.

Why I Didn’t Want to Look for Another Job

One of the reasons I didn’t want to look for another job is that I had a quirky skill set that either qualified me for jobs that were low in pay (eg, admin, editorial) and/or high in earning “potential” (which meant sales). Remember, this was before my SEO experience.

Also, I tended to be overqualified for a lot of jobs as I’d been a business owner. When you’ve owned your own business, especially for more than a few years, many are afraid to hire you because they figure that you’ll either take their job one day and/or quit to do your own thing again.

The jobs I seemed to be the most qualified for paid in the $18,000 to $30,000 range. And, many of them were in sales (so you get a base plus commission – which could have pushed the overall salary much higher). But I couldn’t wait for commissions to kick in. In sales, you’re basically building your own business — and that takes time. I needed to pay the mortgage on the first of every month, not six months down the line.

For all of these reasons, I knew I had to do my own thing again because another job just wasn’t going to cut it. So, I turned to what I knew how to do best – freelance writing. I knew that with my educational background and experience, I had a good shot at making a full-time go of it again.

Stage III: When Opportunity Knocks, Answer

As I cruised job boards every day, I kept running into ads for SEO writers, article writers, web content providers, SEO article writers, SEO bloggers, etc.

This was in 2007 and I had no idea how to write an SEO article or what an SEO content writer was. So I googled it, learned and started contacting companies.

Within a week, I’d landed my first SEO writing client – who went on to give me numerous jobs — the very first week. Within a couple of months, I was so busy I had to hire other freelance writers to help me out. In 2008, less than a year of even knowing what SEO writing was, I’d opened the doors of New Media Words, my SEO writing company.

None of this would have happened though had I not taken the initiative to find out what SEO writing was all about. Once I did, I KNEW it was going to be big going forward. So I dove in headfirst.

Stage IV: Plan for Success

When I first started writing SEO content in 2007, my goal was just to pay my bills without having to go out and get another job. And not for nothing, the foreclosure crisis was just starting then and the economy in Atlanta (where I’m based) sucked at the time. Still kinda does actually. It was one of the reasons I’d gotten downsized out of my job.

But, back to SEO writing … once I got over the worry of possibly having to go out and get a job again, I took the bull by the horns again and sat down and devised a plan for my freelance writing business. Opening New Media Words forced me to do this in earnest.

While I didn’t do a Harvard-esque business plan, I did chart out my marketing initiatives (by day, week and month), income goals (monthly and annual) and life goals (where I wanted to be in 1, 3 and 5 years).

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Note: Prices on some of Inkwell Editorial’s ebooks will increase on June 1st.
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Stage V: Work the Plan

With a plan in front of you, it’s easy to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Now, it doesn’t mean that plans don’t change.

For example, when I worked some numbers at the end of 2010 and saw that half my annual income came from ebooks I wrote and self-published, my goals changed.

I decided to shift my energies into self-publishing and start working towards taking on just a more managerial role at New Media Words. To this end, in 2011, I spent the entire year writing and self-publishing 50 books.

While I’m still more involved with client projects than I’d like to be, I have gotten to a point where if I my SEO writing company never landed another client, I could earn a full-time living as a self-publisher.

Would things be tight? Yes.

Could I survive? Yes.

So I’ve turned another financial corner – from worrying about earning enough to pay my bills, to building a solid income stream as a writer that can support me full-time.

Stage VI: Change Is Constant

Now, I’m shifting gears again – from writing in the how-to, non-fiction genre to fiction (romance). I recently published my first contemporary romance novel and will be publishing many more in the coming years. Why? Because I’m a long-time reader of romance novels and not for nothing, fiction outsells non-fiction by a wide margin.

Also, fiction books don’t have to be updated. While I’ll always publish in the how-to, non-fiction genre, it won’t be my primary publishing niche moving forward.

Conclusion

What I wanted to get across by showing my trajectory to SEO writing success is that the only constant in life is change.

I had no idea my career would wind up here. What I DID know is what I wanted out of life – to be happy. And, what does that mean for me? Specifically, NOT to be tied to a job, and having financial independence and mobility (I like to travel). So, I devised a career to suit my life.

First, it was making sure I never had to look for another job again. Thankfully, because I hopped on the SEO writing bandwagon, I was able to build a solid freelance business that erased this worry.

Then, I wanted to diversify my income portfolio so I didn’t have to stress about the financial ups and downs of being a freelance writer. So I did by creating self-publishing income (and internet marketing income).

Now, I’m at a point where I want to build a business that is more “hands off.” Fiction writing will provide this. I’m giving myself two to three years – where I plan to publish 10 to 20 romance novels, to go along with my non-fiction works. Hopefully, this will provide more real passive income (again, no updating is needed on fiction works).

Freelance Writers: How to Turn Setbacks into Opportunities

While setbacks happen, they’ll be much less bothersome to you if you have a plan for your life. And this is the main message I want to leave you with. Keep your dreams front and center. Just because you can’t get there like you have it all laid out on paper, with your plan in hand, you’ll always know what your final destination is.

This is important because when opportunities come up, it’ll be easier to assess them to see if they’re getting you closer to your dreams – or further away from them. Conversely, when setbacks happen, you’ll be better equipped to deal with them because with your plan in hand, you can say:

I know what my ultimate goal is. This is just a setback. I will work this job for XX (length of time), save XX months of expenses, then strike out on my own again.

In the meantime, I will use this time to build my website and start creating my web footprint, my online community – eg, via social media, article marketing, ebook writing, etc.

In this light, a setback becomes another “opportunity,” not a crushing blow to your ego, dreams and future success.

I know this was a long post, but I hope you see that your life truly is in your control – and you have to do just that – take control of it. Knowledge is power, and I hope my story empowers you to take control of your dreams.

Share Your Struggles as a Freelancer

Have you given freelancing a go more than once? What setbacks have you faced? How did you overcome them? Please share in the comments section below.

On a Personal Note …

To my American friends, enjoy the upcoming Memorial Holiday. I’m doing a month-long, modified cleanse. So it means no caffeine, no red meat, no alcohol – in short, no fun stuff. This means no BBQ and no margaritas this weekend. You have NO idea how hard this is going to be for me.

I practically have to avoid my best friend cuz that’s what we do when we get together – stuff our faces and drink! So this holiday weekend, I’ll be looking for a park to get in some long runs and my favorite sushi restaurant (I love sushi, so it’s not all a lost cause).

Best,
Yuwanda

P.S.: FYI, did you know that the average salary of SEO writers increased by $10,000 from Sept 2012? Proof?

SEO Content Writer Average Salary, Fall 2012

Remember, learning SEO is about so much more than learning a new skill; it’s about giving yourself the tools you need to take control of your life.

P.P.S.: Avoid freelance writing dry spells by making extra money as an affiliate marketer: Learn how to earn $50-$150/day online pretty seamlessly in the best-selling ebook, How to Make Money Placing Ads on Free Classified Ad Sites.

Copyright © 2013: All material on this site is copyright protected and cannot be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the editor’s written consent (linking to is fine).

SEO Writers: How to Handle a Freelance Famine – 8 Things You Should Do & 7 You Shouldn’t

A couple of days ago, I sent out the following tweet, which gave me the idea for this post:

RT @LinguaGreca What to do when your ‘feast’ has turned to ‘famine’ http://ow.ly/kwcYw by @FreelanceFacts #Freelancing

SEO Writers: 8 Ways to Handle a Freelance “Famine”

The link goes out to a great article on 8 things you can proactively do to get writing jobs flowing in again. It’s written by long-time freelance writer Carole Seawert, an accredited SEO copywriter who proudly touts that she’s “been a freelancer for twice as long as she was an employee.”

This is important to know because it shows that we ALL go through dry spells this from time to time; it is definitely not something that just happens to newbies.

SEO Writing Advice: What NOT to Do When Things Get Slow

Freelance SEO Writers: My Top 7 Don’ts of Managing a Freelance Writing Famine

Since the slow season for lots of freelance writers (editorial workers in general) is here and Carole gave you 8 great things you can DO to beat a freelance famine, I thought I’d give you 7 don’ts to help you weather the storm.

I. DON’T Panic: If you’re new to freelance (SEO) writing especially, it’s common to doubt if you made the right move, if this is something you can really make a go of, etc. If you carefully thought out your plan and are consistently marketing, then trust that.

Don’t panic and start to doubt yourself.

II. DON’T Stop Marketing: Know the saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going?” Well, it can be applied to marketing, as in, “When the writing jobs dry up, the more marketing you should be doing.”

It can be frustrating to continually market when you’re not seeing any results. But this is exactly when you need to double down and do more of it. It’ll make you feel less panicky, and quite possibly bring in a job or two.

III. DON’T Start Trying Any and Everything: Piggybacking on the last point, if you’ve thought out your marketing strategy, stick to it. Don’t start trying any and everything, ie, get scattered in your marketing efforts. This can hurt your chances of landing writing gigs.

Consistency is the name of the game in marketing. So if you’ve said you’re going to make 5 cold calls and send 50 emails per day, then stick to that. Don’t start saying maybe I need to try postcards, maybe I’ll do some article marketing, etc.

While trying other marketing methods is great, chances are, if you start to do other things, then you won’t consistently stick to what got you jobs in the first place. Never abandon a marketing method that’s worked in the past – ever – unless and/or until you can prove that it no longer works. And, when you’re in a dry spell is usually not the time to test this.

FYI, direct methods like email and cold calling are ALWAYS good ways to land freelance writing jobs.

IV. DON’T Put Off Marketing: One last thing about marketing for writing jobs – don’t put it off until later in the day. Do it first thing. It’s your most important task as a freelance business owner. After all, if you’re not bringing in work, soon there’ll be nothing else for you to do anyway.

V. DON’T Slash Your Freelance Writing Rates: This is one of the first go-to methods many freelancers think of when things get slow. Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it, for all the reasons listed in the post 4 Truths about Freelance Writing Rates from a Freelancer with Almost 20 Years of Experience.

VI. DON’T Celebrate “Big” Jobs: What I mean by this is, when you land, finish and get paid for a big job – SAVE! Don’t go overboard celebrating (ie, overspending). You’ll feel so much more comfortable with that cushion in the bank when things are slow.

Nowadays, I don’t even get excited when I land a “big gig,” which is different for every freelancer by the way. I’m grateful for every writing gig that comes my way and treat them all the same. And, I’m pretty rigid about saving because I’ve been at this long enough to know the financial ups and downs of freelancing.

I have a certain amount of money I must have in the bank in liquid cash in order to feel “secure.” This is different for each person, and depends a lot on how we were raised and the money skills we were/were not taught growing up.

FYI, I cover freelancing and finances in detail in How to Know When You’re Ready to Quit Your Job to Freelance Fulltime: 6 Signs It’s Time and How to Go About It exactly because we’re all so different when it comes to money.

VII. DON’T Give Up: There is so much work out there, especially for qualified SEO writers. Proof? Did you know that . . .

In 2012, content marketing was the leading tactic for 18.9% of marketers worldwide. In 2013, the % has grown to 34.8% http://bit.ly/149sMPC

A study by SearchEnglineLand.com conducted earlier this year supports the above. Polling the SEO industry, the study revealed that . . .

For the remainder of 2013, 82 percent of respondents said they plan to recruit new staff [SEO professionals of all kinds] this year and 93 percent said they expect their business to grow by year’s end. Most all of the survey respondents have a positive outlook for 2013, with 84 percent of the SEO professionals surveyed confident it will be a good or great year.

FYI, content creation was one of the Top 10 services requested.

All of this means that there’s never been a better time to be an SEO writer, but the work is not going to appear by osmosis. You gotta get out there and market for it.

I’m Slow Too!

One of the advantages of being a long-time freelancer is that you can look back at past sales numbers and see patterns. This month has started off slower than May of last year, but what I noticed was that I had a couple of what I call “out of the norm” sales last May, eg, really good payouts from Amazon and Google that account for the difference.

I also had a great start to the year, finishing up three ebooks for a new client, which gave me a couple of high-earning months early on.

I point this out to say, it all evens out in the end usually. Again, this is IF you’re CONSISTENTLY doing what you should be doing day in and day out; namely, marketing.

How I Use the Slow Times at My SEO Writing Company

As I point out in the link above about the slow season for freelance writers, you can use this enforced downtime constructively.

I’m finishing up my first contemporary romance novel (get a sneak peak of the first two chapters). Then, I plan to delve into learning more about how to market this genre. I’m also looking into taking a romance writing class.

So don’t panic; the SEO writing jobs will start to flow in again soon. In the meantime, use the time constructively — and to enjoy the upcoming summer!

Your Thoughts

What do you do when the SEO writing jobs just seem to dry up? How long do your freelance writing “famines” usually last? When was the last famine you had? How do you use this downtime? Please share in the comments section below.

Hope it’s been a good week for you so far. Now, off to hopefully finish up my romance novel (the characters really do take on a mind of their own in fiction. Who knew!).

Best,
Yuwanda

P.S.: FYI, did you know that the average salary of SEO writers increased by $10,000 from Sept 2012? Proof?SEO Content Writer Average Salary, Fall 2012

Remember, learning SEO is about so much more than learning a new skill; it’s about giving yourself the tools you need to take control of your life.

P.P.S.: Avoid freelance writing dry spells by making extra money as an affiliate marketer: Learn how to earn $50-$150/day online pretty seamlessly in the best-selling ebook, How to Make Money Placing Ads on Free Classified Ad Sites.

Copyright © 2013: All material on this site is copyright protected and cannot be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the editor’s written consent (linking to is fine).

SEO Writing Jobs: Tech, Beauty & More

Tech Blogger Needed: Duties: Ghostwrite daily blogs about new developments in data modeling and interesting applications of data modeling. Pay: $40 per blog (5 times per week; total of $200/wk). Get full details on this tech blogging job.

Offsite Freelance Copywriters Needed for Luxury Marketing Firm: Duties: Writing articles on skincare, makeup trends, plastic surgery, hair loss, fitness, celebrities, etc. Pay: $20 per 500 word-ish article. Possibility for long-term arrangement if work is really good. Get full details on this freelance SEO writing job.

SEO Article Writing and Blogging Jobs

General Article Writing Job: Seeking skilled writers who can write on a wide range of topics. Length: Most are in the 500-word range. Pay: $10 and $14 per article. Get full details on this article writing job.

Tech SEO Article Ghostwriter: Duties: Ghostwrite SEO articles for well-known publications like Techcrunch and The Wall Street Journal. Pay: $300/wk (for 2o-hr work week). Get full details on this tech SEO article writing job.

Note: Please do not contact SeoWritingJobs.com about job listings as we have no additional info over and beyond what’s listed here. Apply directly to the company via the info provided in the ad. And good luck!

Things to Keep in Mind When Applying for Freelance Writing Jobs Online

The following posts give some insight into how to protect yourself as a freelance / online writer.

How to Protect Your Writing Samples & Guidelines on What Exactly Are the Responsibilities of an SEO Writer

What to Do When a Client Doesn’t Pay

POST SEO WRITING JOB ADS FREE

We post SEO writing jobs (and social media jobs, internet marketing jobs and all types of freelance writing jobs) free. Simply send your ad to info[at]SeoWritingJobs.com (Put “SEO Job Listing” in the Subject line). We will list it here, and in our weekly Seo Writing Jobs newsletter, which usually comes out on Wednesday.

Yuwanda
P.S.: Did you know that the average salary of SEO writers increased by $10,000 from Sept 2012? Proof?SEO Content Writer Average Salary, Fall 2012

Remember, learning SEO is about so much more than learning a new skill; it’s about giving yourself the tools you need to take control of your life.

P.P.S.: Avoid freelance writing dry spells by making extra money as an affiliate marketer: Learn how to earn $50-$150/day online pretty seamlessly in the best-selling ebook, How to Make Money Placing Ads on Free Classified Ad Sites.

Copyright © 2013: All material on this site is copyright protected and cannot be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the editor’s written consent (linking to is fine).

Freelance SEO Writing: Advice for Non-Native English Speakers

This past weekend, I received the following email from a follower on my SEO writing company’s Facebook page. Even though it’s a question about starting a “general” freelance writing career, I wanted to couch it in the terms of SEO writing because so much of freelance writing these days – especially online writing — has to do with search engine optimization.

This aspiring bilingual freelance writer wrote:

Dear Yuwanda,

I’ve been reading your Inkwell Editorial for a couple of weeks now. First of all, let me tell you what you do is amazing. I’m sure your website helped a lot of wannabe freelancers, just like me 🙂

I’m messaging you because, thanks to your advice, I decided it’s time to start doing instead of just dreaming and planning.

By now I’m still a college student so I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to writing. My dream is to become a full-time freelance writer so I thought it was a good idea to start working on a part-time basis, in order to try to do the great leap forward as soon as I’m done with my studies.

My greatest doubt is the following: I’m not an English native speaker, is there any chance I can successfully break in the market? I’m Italian and freelance writing is pretty much unheeded in my country so, if I want to start a succesfull career, I think I shoud write in English.

I’m already working on websites such as Elance and oDesk as a translator (both IT to EN and EN to IT) but this kind of job doesn’t guarantee a good income and mortifies my creativity.

My English is good and I feel capable of writing good articles (in fact, I already wrote a few articles in English for my University’s monthly press). Do you think that the fact that I’m not a native speaker will be a big obstacle to my future career as a freelance writer?

Thanks a lot for your attention.

Related Post: Freelance Writing Advice for College Grads (Or Those Who Want to Transition into Freelancing Fulltime)

My Advice to Multi-Lingual Freelance (SEO) Writers

M-:

Based on what you’ve written here, you’re English is very good — almost flawless and certainly better than a lot of native English speakers.

So no, I don’t think you’ll have a problem at all. Just make sure you put up some good writing samples. I’d do so in English and Italian, for the following reason …

Translation is a service you should also tout, as you are obviously bilingual and read/speak/write both very well.

Good luck!

This was the quick response I sent; I just wanted to add a couple of more points to this.

3 Pieces of Advice for All Foreign Freelance (SEO) Writers

1) There is never a need to tell clients you’re not a native English speaker if your reading and writing are good – unless they ask, of course. Never, ever lie. As I told this aspiring freelancer, his English is very good. I’d hire him based on the grammar displayed in the email he sent me (and yeah, I know, he had a couple of spelling errors. But, this was a personal email, so I didn’t hold this against him; I assume his writing samples would be perfect).

Good writing is all most clients care about. Now, while there will be certain linguistic differences that may pop up from time to time (eg, saying “lift” (British English) as opposed to “elevator” (American English)), these can easily be handled.

Again, clients want good writing – and this freelancer has certainly displayed that.

2) Being bilingual is a plus in this day and age – so play it up! While this may seem contrary to the above piece of advice, it’s not because you’re not pointing out to a client, “Hey, English is not my first language.”

If you read, write and speak more than one language, then translation is a service you should definitely offer if you’re so inclined, in my opinion. Why? Because we live in a global economy, and this is a skill that not many come by easily.

If you’re lucky enough to speak a second language – and can read and write in it – capitalize on that as a freelancer. It makes you stand out among other freelance writers, and it’s a growing need. Proof?

If any industries can be considered recession-proof, the field of interpreting and translation may be one, especially as business transactions across borders increase. A U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS] report projects 42 percent growth in the industry from 2010 to 2020, outpacing average growth for other occupations studied by the BLS.

“Translation is one of the few industries that has seen minimal impact from the global economic downturn,” says Nataly Kelly, chief research officer with Common Sense Advisory, a Lowell, Mass., market research firm. [Source: BusinessWeek.com, The Translation Industry Interprets ‘Recession-Proof]

3) RE Writing Samples for Multi-Lingual Freelancers: I suggest having a few samples (3 to 5) that are written in English and your other language. Write the exact SAME article in both languages and post them to your freelance writing website. Make sure both are flawless, of course. This lets clients see right off the bat what your skills are.

Following is a series of posts I did on “foreigners” and SEO writing that give much more advice.

SEO Copywriting: How to Start This Type of Freelance Writing Career If You’re a “Foreigner”, Pt I

SEO Copywriting: How to Start This Type of Freelance Writing Career If You’re a Foreigner, Pt II”

SEO Copywriting: How to Start This Type of Freelance Writing Career If You’re a “Foreigner”, Pt III

And here’s one more post on this site’s parent site, InkwellEditorial.com, about foreigners and freelancing.

On a Personal Note …

Today’s my last day here in Jamaica – the month has flown by. Last night, I listened to some live reggae music outside at a little jerk chicken place here right by the ocean (Three Dives). All local artists; various singers with one great band to back them up. Fantastic, fantastic music! And, there was no cover charge.

The stars were out and felt so close – like you could almost touch them. A few logs were burning right by the ocean; the smoke keeps the mosquitoes away. With a rum and coke in hand (of course!) and good friends to enjoy the music with, it was a perfect evening.

Today, I’m closing up early to get in a good workout and hang out with some friends before leaving tomorrow.

Hope your Wednesday’s going well.

Best,
Yuwanda

P.S.: FYI, did you know that the average salary of SEO writers increased by $10,000 from Sept 2012? Proof?SEO Content Writer Average Salary, Fall 2012

Remember, learning SEO is about so much more than learning a new skill; it’s about giving yourself the tools you need to take control of your life.

P.P.S.: Avoid freelance writing dry spells by making extra money as an affiliate marketer: Learn how to earn $50-$150/day online pretty seamlessly in the best-selling ebook, How to Make Money Placing Ads on Free Classified Ad Sites.

Copyright © 2013: All material on this site is copyright protected and cannot be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the editor’s written consent (linking to is fine).

An SEO Writer Asks, “How Do I Charge for a Long-Term, Ongoing Project?”

Yesterday, I received the following email from a fairly new SEO writer about long-term projects. She asked a couple of excellent questions, which I thought many could benefit from because – in my opinion – more and more companies are starting to look for SEO copywriters to handle more than “one off” writing jobs, or the occasional series of blog posts.

Proof?

The $24,000 SEO Writing Contract

Remember the SEO writer who landed the $24,000 gig. And yes, yes, you read that right – one client, $24,000 in ongoing work. So following is her email, and my responses below that.

Hello Yuwanda, happy May. 🙂

I have a meeting with a prospect this afternoon and I just realized that I wouldn’t know how to charge for a long term project. If they expect the project to last for 3 months, then is it okay to ask for 50% of the three months’ worth of work upfront?

Also, what if the project is ongoing/ has an indefinite length? I am a bit nervous but I hope I do well today. Thanks a lot.

SEO Writing Jobs: Should I Get a Deposit for Long-Term Jobs?

My Answers

1. RE “If they expect the project to last for 3 months, then is it okay to ask for 50% of the three months’ worth of work upfront?”

I think where she got this idea from is that I tell freelance SEO writers to get at least 50% up front from new clients. That’s the way we operate at my SEO writing company. But, for an ongoing gig like this, I’d have payment milestones.

For example, if the gig is going to last three months, and they want you to do 3 articles per week for those 12 weeks, then I’d put them on a billing schedule, getting 50% OF THE FIRST MONTH’S article order up front.

The remainder of this would be due at the end of the first month, and a 50% deposit would be required at the beginning of the second month for that month’s content.

This way you won’t get burned by doing a lot of work upfront with no payment.

2. RE “Also, what if the project is ongoing/ has an indefinite length?”

It’s perfectly okay to renegotiate payment terms. For example, I have clients who have standing SEO content orders with us (eg, an article per week every). So initially, I’ll go the route I outlined above, charging them a 50% deposit up front for the first month (ie, 4-week span). Then, after we’ve worked together for a couple of months, I may relax that and bill them on a monthly basis.

BUT, this is only after trust has been established. And if a client ever starts to falter with payments, eg, paying 3-4 weeks after I send out the invoice – which in essence would put you in the hole for two months’ worth of content instead of one – I take action.

When this happens, I usually pick up the phone and let them know the importance of paying on time (ie, I have expenses to cover too. I moved to this monthly payment arrangement because I thought it would be more convenient for you, but if this isn’t working for you, let me know and we can go back to the weekly, bi-weekly, etc. arrangement).

See what I mean?

When to Use an SEO Writing Contract

The bottom line is, don’t get too much in the hole by doing too much work upfront with no payment. And, use an SEO writing contract in these instances. Normally, I operate without one, but for ongoing work like this (and in-depth work like ebook writing), I’d highly suggest it so that you and the client are on the same page from the beginning.

As always, hope this insight helps, and good luck (hope you landed the client!)

Best,
Yuwanda

P.S.: FYI, did you know that the average salary of SEO writers increased by $10,000 from Sept 2012? Proof?SEO Content Writer Average Salary, Fall 2012

Remember, learning SEO is about so much more than learning a new skill; it’s about giving yourself the tools you need to take control of your life.

P.P.S.: Avoid freelance writing dry spells by making extra money as an affiliate marketer: Learn how to earn $50-$150/day online pretty seamlessly in the best-selling ebook, How to Make Money Placing Ads on Free Classified Ad Sites.

Copyright © 2013: All material on this site is copyright protected and cannot be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the editor’s written consent (linking to is fine).