Monday, August 19, 2019

Blog Writing is Real Work

Blogging as a Hobby
When it first began, blogging was seen as a hobby. Weblogs or online diaries started out as a bit of fun. I remember ten years back, keeping a blog. People would come and comment on my blog and I’d go over and comment on theirs. From my home in India, I made friends all over the world. But then over time, something became noticeable. Some blogs were making money. Others were not. Why was this?

The World Moves Online
As the world moved online, many companies started up websites. After some time, blogs were an intrinsic part of the website. A blog was an updatable, interactive part of the site. Many companies discovered that sharing valuable content affected their conversion rates.

Blog Reading Broadens the Mind
A blog can still be a hobby. It’s fascinating to read the blogs of different people. It could be the musings of a farmer’s wife in Australia. Or the blog of a minimalist homemaker in California. A blog can take you out of your everyday life and into another world. It can broaden your mind in the way that travels used to be able to do.

Valuable Content for Readers
There’s a world of difference between a ‘hobby’ type of blog and a business blog. A ‘hobby’ blog might be the best read in the world. The writer is writing for their own satisfaction as opposed to any business purpose. They may share family news. Their son got married, their daughter passed the examination. Whatever. They may discuss a book they’ve read recently and how it affected them. They may share recipes. Some people may find such content valuable. Others may not. It’s a matter of taste.

Business Content
When a business shares content, you won’t find too many personal details. No recipes or recently read books. Unless these things belong to the industry in which the business operates. Businesses like to publish posts on the latest trends in their respective industries. Even if the content isn’t breaking news, it could be another way of looking at a favourite topic. You may find listicles giving you tips like ‘Ten Ways To Improve Your Efficiency in the Office’. Content which we’ve read hundreds of times before. But presented in a way that is new and refreshing.

Preparing a Business Blog Post
Supposing you’re working for an IT company and you’re preparing a blog post for their website. You can’t write the first thing that comes into your head. First of all, you have to find a relevant topic which will capture the interest of the people in the IT world. Most people are aware that Java is the most popular computer language. But how many people are aware that the popularity of Python is growing? If you want to write on this topic, you have to do the research. You must have the facts and figures to back up the news of this growing popularity. Or suppose you’re in the finance world? Everyone knows that Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency so far. But Bitcoin will not be able to go on forever. It’s programmed to come to an end in the future. So what will be the next big cryptocurrency? This is something people would like to know more about. If this is your topic, it’s not an easy one to take up. So you have to do the homework. Research those topics on reputable websites. Have the facts and figures at your fingertips to back up your ideas.

Much More Than Writing
For this type of blog post, there’s a lot of time spent researching. Only when you've completed the research and drawn up a template for the article, you can begin to write. You need to provide quality content, the type to which people can refer with confidence. Then, when you write, you must check to ensure the grammar and spelling are all correct. You also have to pick out some relevant keywords and ensure that they appear in the post. This is so that people Googling this type of information will find your post and read it. But you have to be careful to ensure that you don’t overdo the keywords either. Otherwise, your post could be viewed by Google as spam. Nobody wants that. Google will penalise the post so that it never appears in the SERPS (search engine result pages).

Producing Valuable Content
So as you can see, producing valuable content is a skill. Many companies hire blog writers to produce top-quality content for their blogs. Writers who write for the top companies can do well. Not all companies would have the budget to pay top writers though. But it appears that there are plenty of writers available for every level of work.

Approached for Work
A few months back, a businessman approached me online. I also mentioned this in my previous post. He informed me of the wonderful news that he had selected me to write his company blog. He had seen my answers on Quora and had been very impressed. He informed me that his blog had a wide readership. He added that the publicity I would get would bring me great exposure. Then I asked about payment. He replied that as his company was a startup ‘no payment now but sure in future’. He wanted two articles per month of 1000 words each. After some consideration, he decided he would pay the sum of Indian Rupees ₹100 per post. That’s about $1.50. I declined that generous offer. I explained to him that I couldn't spend the amount of time it takes to write two 1000 word articles per month. Especially for such a small amount of money. Writers have to eat and pay their bills. Blogging and article writing are not leisure time activities. At least not for those who are trying to earn their living by writing.

Content Writing Companies
I sent him some links to Indian content writing companies. Like the European-based one for which I write. He could get his 1000 word blog post for ₹750 if he shops around. I’ve no idea what he did, though. I wasn't interested enough to follow it up. By now, he might have realised the value of good content. He should also realise how much he should be ready to pay for it.

Thanks to Geraltmohamed_hassan, DarkWorkX and kaboompics at Pixabay for the wonderful images. My eternal gratitude to you.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Freelance Writer Woes

Where To Find Freelance Writing Work?

Like many freelance writers, I am signed up to several content writing marketplaces. But today, to my utmost surprise, there is simply no work. This is something new for me. A few months ago, I was making a regular amount of money every month. Now I'm lucky if I can make even half of that. amount in twice the amount of time.  I wonder what happened? I'm signed up with three platforms. Two of them never showed me a single job, but that didn't matter because the third one gave me as much I could handle. But now, the well of work appears to have completely dried up.

Content Writing Marketplaces

Many freelance writing experts warn newer writers against signing up for the 'content mills'.I've heard all the arguments. 'It's a race to the bottom. You'll never make money', they say. But I've also come across people online who claim to be making thousands of dollars a month writing for these sites. Now, who is telling the truth?  Freelance writing teachers claim to sell you courses that will help you make heaps of money. But is this anti-content-mill-rhetoric a sales ploy?

How to Make Money on a Content Writing Site

There's one sure way to make money on a content writing site. Get the customer to send you direct orders. They'll pay you a top rate and you'll be paid your worth. I've lost count of the number of times I've been asked would I accept direct orders. The trouble is, the orders sometimes don't come in the end. When clients realise that the rate for direct orders is far higher than the normal rate, many of them suddenly develop amnesia. They pretend they never asked you to write for them. It's such a shame.

Writing is Real Work

Writing is real work. It is time consuming. It is resource consuming. You may have to switch on your computer and your lights in order to do that work. You have to spend time and energy composing sentences and inserting keywords seamlessly. You must fit your piece into the right word count. So yes, it's definitely real work. It may be sedentary, but man it can tire you out. So we've pretty much established that writing is real work. But I once got an enquiry to this very website from a businessman who wanted regular 1000 word articles from me for his website. He couldn't pay anything as he was only starting out, he said. But he would pay in the future. I'm not the first freelance writer to get an offer like that and I won't be the last. But it's amazing how that still continues to happen. Because some business people, who should know better, don't place any value on content.

Cold Emailing? Isn't That Spam?

According to some of the freelance writing coaches out there, cold emailing is the surest way to gather clients. High paying clients who pay big money. Really? But isn't going into someone's inbox without an invitation considered to be bad manners nowadays? I suppose, like everything else in life, it just depends. See, these coaches tell you that all you have to do is gather some email addresses, compose a craftily worded email with a killer headline and bingo! High paying clients will now come crawling out of the metaphorical woodwork. Wouldn't that be great? With my luck, the cold email would end up in the spam box where it will be deader than a doornail. in 30 days' time. Meanwhile, the freelance writing coach is laughing all the way to the Caribbean. I have received emails from at least two freelance writing coaches, claiming to be relaxing by the sea in the Caribbean while their business takes care of itself. Well, good for them!

Thanks to Canva Design and Pixabay Images

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