Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

Become the Best Ghost Blogger Ever in 30 Minutes Flat

Posted in Blog on April 13th, 2014 by Carol Tice – 16 Comments

A half hour is all freelance writers need to become a great ghost blogger.Does the idea of writing as a ghost blogger for a client make you nervous?

I hear from a lot of writers who wonder how that’s done. How do you successfully write as someone else? And how do you keep from becoming a schizophrenic if you’re ghost blogging for multiple clients?

I’ve also heard from quite a few writers who’ve tried ghost blogging but ended up with unhappy clients. The posts just didn’t ‘sound’ right. Something was off.

And they ended up losing the gig. Which really hurts, especially if you’ve lined up a good freelance blogging client who’s paying $100 a post or more.

I hate when that happens! So today, I have a couple strategies to share that will solve this.

2 Steps to perfect ghost posts

There is an easy way to do this ventriloquist trick, where your writing comes out sounding just like the client would have written it. Your client is ecstatic, the posts are easy to write, and this gig becomes a nice, ongoing deal.

It’s a two-step process that I’ve done many times, and it works like a charm.

I caught on to these tricks fairly early on in my small-business ghost-blogging career, sort of by accident. Once I tried these techniques, I was blown away by the results.

Clients universally raved about my ghostwritten posts. “That sounds just like how I would have said it!” they’d say.

How can you do this? It takes a little time. Really, very little! A half hour ought to do it.

Here’s how to become a terrific ghost blogger — fast:

Make an appointment

Tell the client you need a half-hour chat with them to get the blog rolling. You probably need to talk to them anyway, just to map out the topics you’ll write about and firm up a publication schedule.

Lots of freelance writers have an aversion to client meetings and talking on the phone, and try to get this figured out on email or instant chat. Do *not* do this with ghost blogging clients.

Instead, get them on the phone, and start a conversation. Tell your client you’d like to ask a few questions to learn about their business and get up to speed. Some questions that work great:

  • Why did you start your business?
  • Who are your customers and how do you solve their problems?
  • What are the biggest challenges in the business today?
  • The biggest opportunities?
  • What are you hoping to accomplish with the blog?

Get a business owner talking about what they do and their marketing goals, and you’ll hardly be able to shut them up. You’ll hear their passion coming through and learn why they love what they do.

Either record this conversation or take lots of notes. Pay particular attention to words and phrases they use repeatedly. Note industry jargon and ask what it means.

Presto: Now you have a written record of exactly how your client ‘sounds.’

Pick up those words and phrases and industry lingo and use them in your ghosted blog posts. If they like to start sentences with, “Anyways…” or say “sooner than later” a lot, use it in your post.

The results will amaze you. Clients will wonder how you got it to sound just like them!

Simple: You listened, and you used their words in their posts. No surprise, they love it.

Do an exercise

One more thing while you’re having that client chat that will help you is to ask them one key question. This will help you to write the posts so they’re in the tone and style the company wants.

Yes, you can study their existing marketing materials for a bit of this, too. But pose this one challenge to your client, and you’ll nail it.

Ask the client to describe what they want customers to feel about their company when they read the blog. What are they trying to convey about their business, at the emotional level? Ask them to use no more than five adjectives for this description.

Is their company friendly? Approachable? Authoritative? Innovative? What are the most important values they want to impress on readers?

Make your client give you a list of descriptors, and it’ll be easy to craft prose that delivers on their vision.

Now when you sit down to write ghosted blog posts, you aren’t facing a blank page. You have ideas, you have their own words in front of you as a swipe file, and you understand the tone they want to set with their blog.

What are your ghost blogging tips? Leave them in the comments.

P.S. Need to learn more about freelance blogging? Grab my new e-book, How to be a Well-Paid Freelance Blogger, for 50 percent off!

How to be a Well-Paid Freelance Blogger

 

 

First Friday Link Party for Writers – Beautiful Spring Edition

Posted in Blog on April 4th, 2014 by Carol Tice – 16 Comments

Spring tulipsWelcome to spring!

This is the last day of spring break where I am at, so I’ll be hanging out with my kids and turning my blog over to you — the Make a Living Writing community of awesome writers.

This is your chance to get some exposure for your blog and make new connections.

You can link us to your best recent post about writing, blogging, productivity, marketing, work-from-home, work/life balance, or freelancing.

Then come back over the weekend to check out the rest of the blogs your fellow readers have shared and vote for your favorite! On Monday, the links reorganize to feature the top winners.

Instructions are below — enjoy the link party.


How Will Freelance Writers Earn Well From Longer Blog Posts?

Posted in Blog on March 25th, 2014 by Carol Tice – 47 Comments

photodune-3393975-money-bag-with-question-marks-xsHave you noticed that blog posts are getting longer? Many top blogs are standing out with detailed posts of 1,000 to 2,000 words.

New survey data shows why — longer posts get more and better quality traffic.

I’m definitely a fan of detailed posts that offer examples and case studies on this blog, as you’ve probably noticed. I believe offering more value has made a big difference in growing my blog.

But growing interest in longer posts poses a problem for writers who do paid blogging, as well as for writers looking to promote their own blogs through guest posts.

Popular blogs that could drive traffic to your own blog are looking for longer posts from their guest posters, which is a big commitment when it’s an unpaid marketing activity. Which brings me to this important rule:

Think before you guest post

Suddenly, its not dashing off 500 words off the top of your head for a guest post. Which calls into question whether devoting hours to writing a free guest post is still worth it.

It may be worthwhile if you’re writing for huge blogs that have the potential to be a game-changer for your visibility as a writer…for less powerful blogs, possibly not. I’ll say I find myself checking Alexa or PageRank more often now before deciding whether I’ll write a guest post for a site for free.

My advice here: Weigh the pros and cons carefully, especially in light of the recent raging controversy over whether all guest posting is a spammy SEO gambit that will be penalized by Google. Writing a truly fresh, informative, 2,000-word guest post could take the better part of an entire work day. Only you can decide if that’s a good investment of your time, or if there might be a better way to draw your audience.

One possible solution to the problem of free longform guest posts is to refuse to do them. There is another way to approach guest posting that may work better as longer posts become the norm.

Look for paying guest posts

One way I worked my way out of the free guest-post trap was to focus on blogs that pay writers for guest posts, sometimes on an ongoing basis.

Personally, I was guest posting for free on Copyblogger when I got an opportunity to guest post for a modest fee for Freelance Switch (now Microlancer). Even $50 or $75 a guest post, if you’re doing it regularly, will start to add up. When I was writing for them regularly, I often billed Freelance Switch for $300 a month or more — a nice chunk of change for guest posts I might have written free for another site!

I was lucky that FSw paid more for longer posts, too. That’s another thing to look out for in future, as longer posts become more desirable — sites that have a higher rate for longer wordcounts.

Another plus to guesting for pay: I believe guesting on paying sites is also a better lure for attracting clients.

The fact is, if prospective business blogging clients are impressed that you’re on Huffington Post, they’re going to be more impressed when you’re on a site with a reputation for paying its writers. If you find paid guest-post opportunities, you’re crazy not to take them.

Problem: longer posts, same low rates

At the same time that longer posts are increasingly desired by top blogs, businesses are quickly picking up on the long-post trend, and wanting to hire freelance writers to write longer posts for their blogs.

Problem is, they don’t necessarily want to pay any more than the going rates for shorter posts.

For instance, we got a request on our Freelance Writers Den job board not long ago from an employer who wanted to post a job listing for 1,500-word posts that paid only $100.

Since that’s our floor for posts of 500 words, we passed. But it points up a big problem.

Having struggled mightily to educate businesses about why a blog post should pay $50 or $100 instead of $5 or $25, now paid bloggers face a new challenge: How can we get paid appropriately for long blog posts that are really a lot more like magazine articles than the dashed-off, 300-word posts of old?

As Den member Bree recently put it:

” I’ve been reading more and more that longer blog posts are what Google’s going to consider legitimate and helpful for readers. If this is the case, should we still be suggesting to clients that they pay us for 500-word posts? Or is that a good starting point that we can later jump off to convince them to up their word count (and rate)?”

Yes — it is a puzzle.

I used to do just that — discourage clients who wanted long posts, and sell them on the idea that short ones at $100-$125 a pop would get the job done.

But now there is a compelling case to be made that longer posts will be more effective for your clients.

Which means we need to help clients understand why writers should be paid more for longform blog posts.

9 Tips for higher blog post pay

If clients want longer posts, what should you do? Here are my tips:

  1. Define the project. Writers need to ask careful questions about what the client imagines will be in this long post. Interviews? Survey data? Infographics you’re supposed to create? I’ve heard too many sob stories of writers who didn’t find out — and ended up with an appallingly low hourly rate for writing longer posts.
  2. Think hourly rate. Remember that ultimately, wordcount isn’t as important as what you make per hour. If these are posts you could dash off in two hours because you know all about antique tractors or bathroom remodels or whatever it is, maybe $100-$150 a post would make sense to you. But usually, I think long posts take loads more time than that. So be realistic.
  3. Learn about rates. Going rates for these are still emerging, but I’m going to say $300 should be a floor. That’s still below the bottom rate I’d expect for a 2,000 word magazine feature (even at $.30 a word, a low-end print article rate, that would be $600). So it’s in line with the tradition that blog posts cost less than magazine articles, but is still a major hike from $75-$100.
  4. Charge more. If that rate discussion above doesn’t compute with what you’re earning now, do this: Whatever you charge for short posts now, charge 3-5 times more for longer ones. Or your earnings are going to take a hit.
  5. Work with their budget. Some clients will say they can’t afford to pay fair rates for longer blog posts. But they may be able to if you consider their overall blogging budget instead of their per-post rate. For instance, if a client says they can’t pay more than $50 for a blog post, but they want three long posts a week, sell them on the idea that they could get good traffic with four two long posts a month at $300 each — that’s the exact same budget. Or maybe a mix of short and long posts with less frequency could get it done affordably. Be creative to come up with an answer, but make sure you don’t end up writing 2,000-word posts for $50.
  6. Educate your client. If clients want long blog posts and balk at paying $300 or more for them, they need education about how much more valuable these are than shortie posts at grabbing attention and building their authority. Don’t compare a 2,000-word post to a 300-word one — compare it to having a feature article placed in a magazine, or placing a paid print or radio or Yellow Pages ad. These are the marketing alternatives in many companies’ budgets — and compared to them, blogging is still a terrific bargain, even at $300 a long post.
  7. Find better clients. Yes, the type of clients with the budget for longform blogging will tend to be bigger clients with bigger marketing budgets. If you’re targeting small businesses and startups now, think about moving up if you want to write longform posts for good pay.
  8. Sell repurposing. A long, fully fleshed-out guest post can be combined with a few other long posts and turned into a special report, a short e-book, sent out as part of a newsletter, and more. Explain to clients how much mileage they might get from creating longer posts — and why they will get their money’s worth if they pay $300-$500 or more for them.
  9. Flash your article writing skills. As I’ve mentioned, long blog posts often closely resemble magazine articles. If you have article-writing experience, be sure to play that up to clients — they’re getting journalistic reporting and quality storytelling delivered right on their blog. If you don’t have magazine clips, consider learning more about article writing to get some published credits and strengthen your cred for writing long blog posts. My experience is business clients are heavily impressed by magazine credits.

The rise of longform blogging could be a financial boon for writers — or a sinkhole for writers who don’t stand up for themselves and get paid more for longer posts.

My forecast is that article writing is the killer skill of 2014, and the rise of longform blogging is one of the big reasons.

The era of hastily slapping together a few paragraphs and calling it a blog post is over. So it’s time for writers to up their skills to ride this trend to better pay.

Have you written long blog posts? Leave a comment and give us your take on the rise of longform.

 

 

How to Aggravate Top Bloggers So They’ll Never Help You

Posted in Blog on March 6th, 2014 by Carol Tice – 57 Comments

businessman with megaphoneIf you’ve got a blog, you’ve probably wondered how you could get a big blogger to notice and share your posts. That would probably get you a ton of sweet new readers, eh?

The only problem is, every blogger in the world has now figured that out. Which means top bloggers are getting umpty-million reach-outs hourly from newbie bloggers asking for help.

I consider myself the tiniest micro-celebrity possible in the world of blogging, and I can report I am getting dozens of these requests every week. Can’t even imagine how many hits the mega-successful bloggers get!

And if you blow that first interaction with a blogger, you’re probably not going to end up getting their help.

There’s a right way (or three) to connect with big bloggers and enlist their aid in promoting your blog…but if my experience is any indication, most bloggers are getting this wrong. And once you’ve been a pest, it’s unlikely that blogger is ever going to help you out in future.

Let me outline some of the common mistakes new bloggers are making in trying to promote their posts to popular bloggers. Then we’ll talk about how to avoid these blunders:

Make your first contact an ‘ask’

It never ceases to impress me how many bloggers introduce themselves by asking me to do something for them. Basically, it’s “Hello, stranger! Please do me a favor.”

I don’t know how you feel about that, but I think it’s just rude. I mean, would you do that at an in-person networking event, walk up to a stranger and ask them to do stuff for you? I don’t think so.

And you should never do anything on email or in social media you wouldn’t do in person.

Here’s an example of this I recently got on Facebook from a brand-new blogger who proudly announced he’d just finally gotten his blog live. He pointed me to a post he’d written on a similar topic to one of my recent posts, and then concluded with:

To clear up any confusion, I am not part of your PR team. I don’t plug anything for anybody (not for free, anyway). I don’t share other peoples’ posts because they ask me to.

I share posts because I think they have great, fresh, useful information we haven’t already seen 100 times before elsewhere, and I think my social-media audience would benefit from reading it. Period.

My sense from talking to my own blogging mentors is that other big bloggers do the same.

Be a total stranger with a blog mess

Vast majority of the time, if I do go check out the post I’ve been asked to flog, I don’t see any new information.

I see a lot of long, rambling screeds about the writer and their life, sloppy blog post that aren’t scannable, recycled ideas, and cluttered sites where the font is tiny and I can’t even make myself read through to the end. To be brutally honest.

If you’re going to take the time to connect with big bloggers, first make sure your blog post is ready for prime time.

Propose to do me a ‘favor’

When you’re gushing about how you’re a big fan and regular follower of a top blogger, it’s usually good if you know something about how they operate.

The blogger above followed up with an offer to ‘help you out’ by writing me a free guest post — thereby revealing he doesn’t know I pay for guest posts that go through a rigorous and time-consuming editorial process.

And only take high-quality, useful-info-packed, success-story type guest posts, not free posts from nakedly link-seeking people.

Also, I think we all know who this ‘favor’ really benefits, and it’s not me.

Expect quid pro quo

I recently got a tweet that said roughly this:

“I tweeted your post today — and now you should tweet that my new blog launched [LINK].”

Thing to know: Most blog-based business owners got out of the rat race because they don’t like having a boss and being told what to do. That goes double for being told what to do by people we don’t even know.

The fact that you’ve shared my post doesn’t entitle you to anything. You should share it if it was useful to you and your social-media followers, and I’m thrilled you did share it. But there is no automatic share-back obligation.

As I said above, I’ll share it if it’s awesome content my social-media peeps would enjoy…and if you don’t order me to do so. Really rankles.

Ask a random question

As I’ve noted before, many writers have decided that rather than begging for a retweet of their own post, their ticket to A-List bloggers sharing their post is to survey them via email and do a roundup post the blogger will be included in.

If you’re going to go the survey-compilation route, at least avoid peppering me with 10-15 questions I’m supposed to type answers to on email, and ask a single question tailor-made to intrigue me — some pet topic I’ve just got to weigh in on.

More often, I get a random question (or 10) that I can’t relate to.

For instance, recently I got this one:

“What is your best tip for content marketers?”

The thing is, I don’t consider myself one.

I don’t relate to the word “content.” I write articles. I think of myself as publishing an online magazine for freelance writers.

Search my blog for the phrase “content marketer” and you wouldn’t find it twice in the 600+ posts on here. I don’t have a category tag for “content marketing.”

I just couldn’t think of what to say about this question, so I passed.

Ask rude personal questions

Do you know anyone who enjoys being asked personal questions by people they don’t really know? Me neither.

Recently, I got an email asking me to disclose how many people had registered for one of my courses. How this information is even useful for another blogger is beyond me.

But hey, thanks for being nosy! I totally want to hang out with you now.

I’ve also gotten requests to share how much money my blog makes, post my tax form, explain my profit margins…you name it.

I feel like I’ve been pretty forthcoming in what I earned as a freelancer and how this blog makes money. If I’m going to share financial stuff, it won’t be privately to one stranger, but publicly for all my blog readers. So why do you ask?

Send me an email to ask for a tweet

This is one I get more and more now, and I just don’t get it.

Bloggers email me to say, “Wanted you to know, I just posted this new blog post [HEADLINE]. I’d appreciate any tweets or other social media shares!”

Now I have to

  1. click that headline in my email
  2. go over to the post (if the link’s not broken)
  3. read it (if I have time)
  4. decide if it’s awesome (usually not)
  5. hunt for social-media buttons (which are often hidden or missing)
  6. if we get to the end of this whole rainbow, maybe share it.

If you want a tweet, target your headline to me on Twitter, like this: “@TiceWrites – Your readers might enjoy [headline]: [LINK].”

If that headline’s amazing, I might just retweet it on that basis alone. I know this targeting process works because I’ve done it myself. When done right, the result looks like this:

Give me a short deadline

Big thing to know about successful bloggers — we are busy at a level the rest of the world probably can’t even imagine.

Like, wish I had more time to do fun things like pee or wash my hair kind of busy.

So when you send me an interview request and tell me we’d need to talk in the next 48 hours — as one blogger asked me earlier this week — it’s an automatic ‘no.’

How to connect

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to annoy top bloggers and fail to get their help promoting your blog.

But despite the increased popularity of targeting top bloggers and asking for assistance, it’s not impossible to get top bloggers to share your stuff. It’s actually simple.

I end up sharing posts by people I’ve gotten to know, at least a little. I have a sense that the quality of what they write is good, and that even if I don’t have time to fully read the post right now, I can trust that my folks will find their post useful.

These are people I follow myself, or they’ve commented on my blog, or been part of my Link Parties. (Many a commenter here who uses my CommentLuv tool has discovered me sharing out their linked post, if it’s awesome.)

I’ve seen them sharing and commenting on my Twitter or Facebook posts, or we’ve talked in a LinkedIn group. I have some context for that person and a sense that they at least know what I do, if not me.

And when I go to their post, it’s something fascinating, fresh, and relevant to my audience. I share that every time.

How have you connected with other bloggers? Share your success tips on the comments.

P.S. - Need to learn how to make your blog a money-earner — fast? Join me as I host A-List Blogger Club’s Mary Jaksch next Wednesday for a free live Webinar: The Fast Track to Turning Your Blog Into a Cash Machine.

 

PPS – check out this post on a Link Party!…

The Ultimate Linky