How to Build Your Freelance Blog

Having an online presence is imperative for anyone with a freelance career. It’s an opportunity to showcase your skills and knowledge. It also makes it easy for prospects to find you and connect with you. However, not all websites are created equal and a blog may be a much more effective and efficient means of connecting with prospects. Here’s how to build your freelance blog.

#1 Choose your platform. Most experts and bloggers will advise going with WordPress. It’s the most commonly used blogging platform. It’s easy to use and customize yourself – you don’t have to hire a pro to get the job done.

Additionally, there are more widgets and plug-ins available for WordPress than any other blogging platform. This means you can basically ask a WordPress blog to do just about anything you need it to do. Finally, WordPress is free, and although you do have to pay a few dollars to host it yourself rather than on WordPress, it’s worth the money to have your own URL. You can also find quality WordPress templates for free, or you can buy a predesigned template that fits your needs.

If you don’t want to use WordPress, take a look at Blogger, Typepad, and Tumblr. There are many free and paid blogging platforms to choose from.

#2 Decide what you want your blog to accomplish BEFORE you begin creating it. What do you want your blog to focus on? Presumably, you’re marketing your services as a freelancer, right? What static pages do you want to have? For example, you probably need a bio, a rates page, and a contact page.

What else do you need? Plan your blog before you create it. What categories will you post your content in? What sites will you link to, if any? Will you integrate your social networking activities into your blog? Answer these questions before you create your blog and it’ll look a lot more put together.

#3 Start posting. Make sure each post is relevant to your audience. Each post should have a purpose. The purpose can be to drive traffic, to make an announcement or to highlight a promotion. It can also be simply to provide valuable information to your audience or to solve a problem they have. Consider creating a content plan and plan a month’s worth of posts in advance. That way, you’re never at a loss for what to write about – you’ve already brainstormed a solution.

Note that it’s also a nice idea to find guest bloggers to help you out. It adds value to your blog and helps position you as a credible resource in your industry.

Blogging is one of the best ways to build your freelance business. It helps drive traffic to your site and increase awareness. It also helps establish your credibility. If you’re not blogging yet, consider adding one to your current website or changing your website to a blog.

How Much Should You Spend to Market Your Freelance Services?

Building a successful freelance business doesn’t happen overnight. And it doesn’t happen without some hard work. In addition to providing exceptional results and services, you also need to market your business.

However, how much time and money you should spend to market your business is up for a bit of debate. Here are a few considerations when deciding how much time and money to devote to your marketing.

#1 What are your business goals? If you aspire to have a small, part-time practice and you only need two to three clients to make that a reality, then you may not need to spend a ton of time and money marketing. On the other hand, if you aspire to have a large number of ongoing clients and to perhaps expand your business, then you’ll likely be investing a bit more into your marketing strategy.

#2 Who is your audience? Who you’re marketing to makes a difference in the amount of time and money you devote to the task. For example, if your audience is small business owners in your community, then they may be more receptive to hiring you. However, if you’re marketing to Fortune 500 businesses, then you’re going to have to devote a lot of time and energy to get their attention.

#3 How much time and money do you have? Realistically, you can only spend as much time or money as you have, right? So how much time and money do you have to devote to building your business? Take some time to determine how much you have in both areas.

#4 Follow recommendations. Many business experts recommend two things. They recommend spending half of your time marketing your business. This includes not only creating your marketing strategy but also implementing your marketing tactics and following up.

They also often recommend turning all of your profits for the first year back around into marketing your business. Of course that makes it difficult to eat and put a roof over your head. If you can follow this advice, by all means do. However, if that budget simply isn’t realistic, evaluate how much you need to live on and how much you can reinvest in your business.

#5 Where can you cut back? There are many areas in business where you can cut back. For example, instead of paying for an 800 number, you can get a Google number for free. Instead of hiring someone to custom design a website, you can install a WordPress website yourself.

There are also areas where you can get creative or better manage your time. For example, if it takes you a long time to send invoices and manage your finances, maybe you can trade with a bookkeeper and write copy for them, create a logo or manage their blog or website in exchange.

There’s no question that marketing your business is an important part of building and growing your freelance business. However, how much time and money you spend on marketing it depends largely on your goals and resources. Spend them wisely. To your success!

Managing Freelance Cash Flow

Managing cash flow is one of the most difficult challenges for any business owner, regardless of their size. Bills may come when you don’t have any money in your account. Clients pay at inconvenient times and worse, they sometimes don’t pay at all. When you’re a freelancer, managing cash flow is extremely important. Without a good system, you can go into debt quickly. Let’s take a look at a few expert tips to make sure you stay in the black each month.

#1 Collect a deposit before starting a project. Some freelancers actually collect 100% of the project’s estimated cost before starting. If you have a fantastic reputation in your industry, you can probably get away with this. Otherwise, a good rule of thumb is to collect 50% in advance. This ensures you’ve at least collected half of the project’s costs and you’ll have cash to work with.

#2 Make your invoices due upon receipt. Many companies are accustomed to working with a net 10 or net 30 invoice. This means they don’t have to pay it for ten or thirty days. When your invoices are due upon receipt it can throw them and their accounting department for a loop. Make sure your customers know your terms before signing on to work with them. Implement consequences if customers don’t pay on time.

For example, add a late fee for every day or week a payment is late. Make sure this is clear in advance so your customers are not unhappily surprised. You can also offer a discount to clients who pay on time to motivate them to pay quickly.

#3 Invoice right away. It may seem like common sense; however, many freelancers wait to invoice. Don’t wait. As soon as you deliver that project, invoice them. Even if there are going to be revisions, make the invoice part of your project delivery process.

#4 Pay your bills at the last possible moment. Again, this may seem like common sense; however, many folks are inadvertently giving away money. Hold onto your cash and earn interest as long as you can. Afraid you’re going to miss a due date and incur late fees? Using automatic bill pay helps you make sure payments are on time and you can schedule them for the last possible day. (You’ll also save money on stamps.)

#5 Reward clients with ongoing projects. When you have a client that has regular work, reward them for that. Set up a discount for regular work – we’re talking a project every week or month here – and agree to invoice them at the end of the month. This way, you have guaranteed cash flow and they get a discount. It’s a win-win.

It’s tough to know when your next paycheck is coming sometimes. By taking a few steps to manage your cash flow and offer incentives for repeat business and fast payment, you help to ensure you never have to use that credit card to buy groceries again.

Are You a Freelancer or a Consultant?

Whether you’re just starting out in the freelance world or you’ve been at it for quite a long time, there’s one question to ask yourself that many people neglect to think about. Are you a freelancer or a consultant?

What’s the Difference?

A freelancer is a person who works on a project by project basis. They’re assigned a task to complete, they complete it and they get paid. They may have one or two primary clients or they may have dozens. A freelancer can also work for an individual or a business.

A consultant on the other hand is a person that a business or individual turns to for advice, expertise and help. They also are assigned a task and paid to complete it. However they’re given wiggle room within the project to use their skills and experience to help the client achieve their objectives.

For example, a freelance copywriter may write the copy exactly as a client has dictated. This includes the exact format, benefits and even call to action.

A consultant, on the other hand, will be asked what approach they recommend to sell a product or service. The client will trust them to make the best decisions for their sales copy.

Why Does It Matter?

There are benefits to being a freelancer only. For one, there are no heightened expectations. You’re not expected to be an expert in your industry. You’re just expected to complete a task. Freelancers don’t have the added stress of helping a client thrive and grow.

However, consultants benefit for a number of other reasons. They’re able to charge a lot more because of their expertise. Their clients are also often loyal and come back for their expert help time and time again. This means consultants may spend less of their time actually seeking clients and more time making money.

Which Is the Right Approach for You?

There’s no right or wrong answer here. Each and every freelancer has their own reasons for being a freelance professional. They have their own goals and agenda. If you want to simply work part time and make some extra money, then maybe the idea of positioning yourself as a consultant just doesn’t make sense.

However, for those freelancers who are looking to build a solid full-time business, it makes sense to position yourself as a consultant.

How Do You Position Yourself as a Consultant?

One fantastic way is simply to publish, a lot. Become a guest blogger. Publish articles on your website and other websites. Write reports and ebooks and give them away. Publication helps establish authority and credibility. Also, participate in social networking sites and offer advice to those who need your help.

Finally, you can position yourself as an expert by simply offering advice and experience to your current clients when it’s appropriate. If you’re looking to grow your business and make more money, consider adding “consultant” to your list of services and watch your business boom.

Top Tips from Super Affiliates

Top Tips from Super Affiliates

A super affiliate is someone who generates a significant amount of profits for the products or services they represent. Many super affiliates make six figures simply promoting the products and services of others. Sounds good, right?

Here are five top tips from super affiliates:

Tip #1 Build a strong content foundation. Content drives traffic to your website. It builds awareness. It boosts your credibility and authority in your industry. It gives people a reason to come back to your website. It increases your search engine page ranking. It provides value to your visitors. And content, each and every piece of content you publish, can be used to promote an affiliate product or service.

In short, content is your single most important business asset. Possible content forms include:

* Autoresponders.
* E-newsletters.
* Blogs posts
* Audio messages
* Video messages or content
* Social networking posts
* Articles
* Press releases
* Reports
* Ebooks

Mix it up, too! Choose several forms of content to use to build and grow your affiliate business.

Tip #2 Track and test. Make sure you know where your prospects are coming from. What content works best for your audience? What types of content or links motivate them to click through? What pages do they visit on your website? What keywords do they use? All of this information is essential to building an affiliate business that meets and responds to prospects’ needs.

Tip #3 Go beyond the standard banners and buttons. It’s fine to use the marketing materials your affiliate program provides. However, as mentioned in Tip #1, content is really what works. Create your own content, promotions and brand to promote your affiliate products and services.

Tip #4 Build a community and a brand. You are a business. And to be a successful business, a brand image and a community are necessary. Building a community around your website and providing valuable content is a sure way to create a following that trusts you and your credibility – which results in click throughs and commissions. And social networking is perhaps one of the most useful tools to build a community and communicate your brand image.

Tip #5 Communicate and follow up with customers. Regular communication is the best way to continue to motivate purchases. Build an opt in list and create a plan to provide them with regular and valuable information. Each ezine or autoresponder you send can promote but it should also inform. Continuing to connect with your audience is essential for super affiliate success.

In today’s market building an affiliate business is about building a community and connecting with others who are interested in your topic. Get online, blog, comment on blogs, network and drive traffic to your site with content.

Turning Your Passion or Hobby into an Affiliate Goldmine

Turning Your Passion or Hobby into an Affiliate Goldmine

Do you have a strong passion for a particular topic or a hobby you could happily spend each waking hour focused on? Most people have something they’re passionate about. It could be knitting, making rocking chairs, collecting pencils, soap operas, shoes, making beer, you name it there’s someone who has a passion for it.

What are you passionate about? What’s your hobby? Wouldn’t it be great if you could also make money from your unique passion?

You can as an affiliate marketer. Affiliate marketing is a great way to build an online income part time or full time, you can work from home. It’s extremely low risk and it’s easy to learn.

Here’s how to turn your passion or hobby into an affiliate goldmine:

1. Choose the passion/hobby you’re going to build a website or blog around. You’re going to be writing, thinking about, planning and talking about your topic every day. Make sure it’s a topic you’re passionate about.

2. Make a list of 50 article topics or blog posts you can write, record as an audio or make a video about. If you’re passionate about your topic then you’ll be able to easily come up with 50 things you want to talk about. And know that you don’t have to write if writing isn’t your thing. You can make audio recordings or make videos too. You just need to be able to enthusiastically discuss your topic.

3. Get online and research affiliate programs. Look in affiliate directories and visit the websites of companies you have used, respect and enjoy. Look for affiliate programs that have a good reputation.

4. Create your website or blog. There are many options here, one of the easiest is to purchase a domain name and set a WordPress blog up on it. There are tutorials and guides to help you do this yourself.

5. Grab that list of 50 topics and start creating content. Content is your foundation and the way you’re going to attract visitors and make sales. Content can be in the form of:

* Reviews
* Articles
* Reports
* Case studies
* Interviews
* Courses
* Audio and video content too!

Be sure to strategically place your affiliate links in your content. The goal is to inform your audience and presell relevant products or services.

For example, if your passion is knitting and you’re talking about a holiday knitting project you might link to a store where you buy your patterns, assuming you’re an affiliate for them. Your reader may click through and make a purchase earning you a commission.

6. Create a plan to market your affiliate business. The more people who see your content and visit your blog or website, the more money you can make. It just makes sense to promote your business. Social networking is a great way to accomplish this because it lets you interact directly with other people who are interested in your topic.

However you can also use:

* PPC
* Banner and text advertising
* Article marketing
* Newsletter/ezine marketing
* Joint venture partnerships

There’s little that is as rewarding as making money doing something you love. Why not take a few steps to turn your passion or hobby into an affiliate goldmine? There’s little to no risk and the joy and wealth that can be obtained may be life changing.

Sure Fire Ways To Promote Affiliate Offers

Sure Fire Ways To Promote Affiliate Offers

Affiliates make money by promoting and preselling the products and services of others. There are many ways to promote affiliate offers including banner ads, pay per click ads and advertising on websites. However, there are other more powerful and effective affiliate promotion strategies.

Let’s take a look at a few surefire ways to promote affiliate offers.

Reviews

Reviews are one of the most powerful ways to promote affiliate offers. Before many people make a purchase, they look for product reviews to help them make a decision. They use reviews to compare features, prices, and of course to help justify their buying decision.

You can tap into this need by writing quality reviews for the products you represent. A good review will identify the product features and benefits. It will present all the pros and cons of the product in an honest light. Presenting your review in the most unbiased manner possible will help your readers trust you and what you have to say.

When writing your review, don’t make it sound or read like a sales page. That’s the job of the company sales page you’re linking to. The review should be designed to presell the product. And of course, be sure to include a link or two to the product sales page so you can earn a commission.

Articles

Just like reviews, people read online to learn more about a problem they have or a desire they wish to fulfill. Articles, designed to inform and help people solve their problems will be read, passed along and linked to. When you include links in these articles to your affiliate products, you make sales. It’s one of the strongest ways to promote affiliate products.

Publish articles on your website, as blog posts, in your newsletter or ezine, on partner websites and blogs and on article marketing sites that allow affiliate links.

Audio and Video

Just like articles, audio and video content is also a great way to promote affiliate products. Unfortunately, it’s tough to link to products in audio and video. That being said, there are ways to link in audio and video content and you can work around it by referencing a link to the product on your website or blog.

Reports and Ebooks

At this point you might be noticing a trend – content is a great way to promote affiliate products. Reports and ebooks offer a tremendous amount of value to the reader because they take a larger look at how to solve a problem. They’re more in depth than a standard article. For example a book or report on dog housebreaking is going to be a lot more detailed and potentially helpful than an article on the same topic.

Just like in an article, you would include links to relevant affiliate products in the reports and ebooks.

If you’re looking for surefire ways to promote your affiliate products, you can’t go wrong with content. Any form of content, as long as it offers your readers value and benefit, is a great vehicle for affiliate promotion. Get busy creating your content strategy today!

Information Marketing – The Key to Affiliate Success

Information Marketing – The Key to Affiliate Success

Information marketing is a business model established around the sale of information. It is one of the easiest forms of internet marketing and has turned into a booming business. As ebooks and digital publishing technology have taken off, so too has information marketing.

Information marketing works in much the same way an affiliate marketing business works. Business owners choose a niche to specialize in. They build a website supporting their niche and they publish an abundance of content to market and promote their website.

Information marketers make their money selling information products like ebooks, reports, online courses, teleseminars, and workshops and so on. Though they likely give away articles, reports and smaller packages of content much like an affiliate marketer would to build their list.

Affiliate marketers make their money by promoting the products of others and earning a commission. Where an affiliate marketer can really profit is by writing information products or having them created and using the product to simultaneously promote their affiliate products and/or services. This promotion is generally accomplished by including relevant affiliate links in the information product itself.

As an affiliate marketer you can sell your information products for a profit or you can give them away. It largely depends on your goals and how you integrate the two business models. It should also be noted that you’re not limited to simply creating reports and ebooks as information products.

While reports and ebooks are both easy to create and market, you can use other information products if they better suit your audience’s preferences and/or your skills and personality.

You can create:

* Videos
* Online courses
* Teleseminars
* Software
* Podcasts
* Even blueprints and tip sheets can be useful.

However, you choose to share your information with your audience, combining these two business models packs a powerful and profitable punch.

Publishing content like an ebook or a report helps boost your credibility as an authority in your industry. It positions you as an expert in your field and it provides a valuable resource for your audience. Sprinkle a bit of your personality in your information products through stories and anecdotes and you have tapped into most of the triggers for making a buying decision.

Couple the purchasing triggers with the fact that content is the perfect platform to presell the need for and benefit of various products and services and you have a winning combination.

Information marketing and affiliate product sales go hand in hand quite nicely. Take a look at your content plan and see where you can capitalize on the combination business model of information and affiliate marketing.

How to Write a Profit Pulling Product Review

How to Write a Profit Pulling Product Review

Reviews are a superb form of content for affiliate marketers to produce. By design, they offer benefit to a prospect and they’re a natural piece to include links to the affiliate product’s sales page.

However, in order to write a review that actually motivates click throughs, there are a few steps and secrets to know.

Step #1 You’re not selling in a review, you’re providing information. Present the information honestly and accurately. Tell readers what the product is and what it does.

Step #2 Stress benefits. What makes the product different? Who benefits from the product? This is also a great place to tell a story. Talk about a situation where someone used the product and what they gained.

Step #3 Present yourself as an unbiased reviewer. Point out any drawbacks to the product or service you’re reviewing. However, be sure to counter those drawbacks subtly. It’s like when you go to an interview and they ask you to tell them your weaknesses. You turn them into strengths, right? Do the same with any drawbacks the product might have.

For example, if it’s more expensive than other comparative products, that’s a drawback. But it may also offer more in-depth information and strategies – this would override the obvious drawback.

Step #4 Include the details. Subjective information is great but people also want to know the details. What does it cost? Where can they purchase it? And are there any promotions they should know about that can save them money?

Tip – Your goal in a review is to presell, but to presell the product or service subtly. Take care to watch the language you use, no hype. And make sure to present yourself in a credible manner – you want to present yourself as a legitimate expert on your topic.

Tip – Consider being honest about the fact that you’re an affiliate for the product. Most people don’t care and they may respect your honesty. Consider doing a split test for this if you have doubts about this high level of transparency.

Write one review where you tell people you’re an affiliate for the product (towards the end where you provide a link to the sales page). Write another review where you don’t tell your readers you’re an affiliate. Track the results. Authenticity and transparency are more than the latest internet marketing buzz words.

Tip – Combine reviews of several like products in one article or post. You can be an affiliate for all the products or only some of them, the choice is yours.
Reviews are a great form of content for an affiliate marketer. They provide value and offer all the benefits content offers for business growth and profits.

How to Choose the Right Affiliate Program

How to Choose the Right Affiliate Program

Not all affiliate programs are created equally. In fact, some companies hardly put forth any effort, leaving their affiliates to fend for themselves. Other companies, however, take great initiative to support their affiliates and to motivate them to promote their products.

Here’s how to choose the right affiliate program.

Step #1 Start the search. Search affiliate program directories for top level programs. And research online. Visit websites that provide products and services relevant to your chosen niche and search for ‘affiliate program’ ‘partners’ or other words which might indicate they have an affiliate program. Make a note of the products, services and companies that interest you. It’s time to dig a little deeper.

Step #2 Evaluate commission percentages. This is the first point to evaluate but certainly not the last and it may not be the most important. However, make note of the commission rates each of your potential affiliate programs pay. Consider creating a spreadsheet to compare programs so you can choose the best ones based on all the criteria once you’ve gathered the information.

Step #3 Evaluate cookies. No, not chocolate chip cookies, but those little tracking devices that tell a company where a customer came from. Lifetime cookies are the ideal because then no matter when your visitor decides to make a purchase, you get the credit for it. If the cookie only lasts a week or a month, you may miss out on sales.

Step #4 What does their sales page look like and what is their conversion rate? Your job as an affiliate is to pre-sell. You want to make sure you’re sending people to a sales page that converts. If you visit a potential affiliate program’s sales page and the website or sales page just doesn’t work or has a low conversion rate then you know all your pre-selling efforts are going to be wasting a lot of time and effort.

Step #5 Support and marketing materials. What do you get when you’re an affiliate? Some companies provide an abundance of information and marketing materials, others provide a link and nothing more. The link only programs aren’t necessarily bad. However, it’s nice to have buttons, content, graphics and other materials to help promote a product or service.

Step #6 Review their customer service. You not only want to have a good customer service experience as an affiliate with top notch affiliate support. You also want to know that the customers you send to this company are going to be treated well and appreciated.

Step #7 How often do they pay? Some affiliate programs pay quarterly, some pay as soon as you earn a commission. Slow payers aren’t necessarily bad programs. It just helps to know when you can expect your money.

As more and more companies realize the benefits of having an affiliate team, they’re not only creating affiliate programs, they’re improving their programs too. This means there are many good affiliate programs for you to choose from.
Happy selling!