Finding Your Voice as a Content Marketer

When you read content by someone who’s found their voice, there’s a really distinct ring to it. You can tell they’re really passionate, really self-expressed and really know what they’re talking about.

People are moved by those who speak with their real voice. Yet what most people don’t realize is that almost everyone who’s found their voice had to put in a lot of work to find that voice. It doesn’t usually come naturally.

So how do you find your voice as a content marketer?

==> Start with What You’re Passionate About

If you love internet marketing, get into the internet marketing field. If you love crocheting, get into the crocheting field.

Ask yourself: What’s a topic that you could talk about for hours and hours on end? What’s a topic that you’d talk about and obsess about even if you weren’t getting paid?

What’s something that really lights you up in life and gets you excited?

While not every passion can be turned into a career, you’d be surprised at how many people do manage to turn their passions into money, even in very obscure fields.

Start with what you’re really passionate about. It’ll come through in your voice.

==> Be as Self-Expressed as Possible

Try to write without censorship. Don’t worry about grammatical correctness or political correctness.

If you’re speaking from your real voice, you’re probably going to turn some people off. However, you’ll also really attract the kinds of people you should be attracting.

People who have strong voices are polarizing – Some people like them, others might hate them. But that’s how real followings are built. Seldom is a following built from people who try to please everyone.

When you’re writing content, try to write as if you were speaking one on one to a friend. Write naturally, in a casual yet self-expressed and passionate manner.

==> Care about the Impact You Want to Make

Can you tell the difference between someone who’s written something and really cares if you succeed, versus someone who’s just writing the content to write the content?

Most likely, you can tell that the former has a completely different feel to it. Naturally, it’s the people who really want to help us that we feel drawn to.

When you’re writing content, ask yourself: Who are you trying to help with this content? How would you like their life to change as a result of you writing this content for them?

If you really want to help people, they can sense that. It comes through in your writing and your voice. It creates loyalty.

Your voice isn’t “one thing” that people can point to and say whether it’s good or not. It’s more of the overall vibe of your content, how everything you say is presented. A great voice will create a sense of community, loyalty and following, while a weak voice will turn people away from your content.

Design Tips for Content Websites

Having great design on a content website will play an important part in your user’s overall experience. Good design can increase trust, while poor design can decrease trust. Better designed websites will get more opt-ins, more sales and more referrals. In general, design plays a pretty big part in the overall web marketing picture.

Here are a few design tips for content websites.

==> Reduce Your Ads

Yes, you need to make money. However, crowding your page with advertisements really isn’t great design.

In fact, a study of several hundred thousand websites showed that statistically, having more ads on your site means you’re slightly less likely to rank well than other sites with fewer ads.

Your ads should integrate well with your website in general. The ads should be relevant, and placed strategically to get your user’s attention without being intrusive.

==> One or Two Images per Page

Having high quality, professional photos on your page can really add to the aesthetics of your site. However, crowding your page with graphics makes it look very unprofessional.

Try to have just one or two carefully chosen images per page. If your article is really long you can have one or two more, but try to avoid having images too close to one another.

Make sure any photos on your website are crisp, taken with a high quality camera. They also need to be relevant to the content. Try to have to color corrected before publishing, so the colors and contrast really stand out.

==> A Stellar Header Graphic

Your header graphic is one of the most important elements of what your website looks like. After all, it’ll be on the top of every page visitors go to, affecting their overall experience.

If you’re not a professional designer and you’re doing your website yourself, this is perhaps the one area where you should consider hiring someone professional to do it for you.

Your header graphic should contain just one or two graphical elements and just one or two text elements. The text elements and the graphic elements can’t both be too loud, or they’ll clash with one another or detract from the overall content.

==> A Coordinated Color Scheme

Your site overall will generally look better with relatively similar colors. Use complimentary colors or adjacent colors on the color wheel in your design colors.

Avoid colors schemes that clash or have one color standing out too much. The goal of your design shouldn’t be to bring attention to your design, but to create a positive framework for visitor to consume your content.

These are a few of the most important elements to designing content websites that look good and make people want to stay on your site longer.

Time Management Tips for Successful Freelancers

Freelancers around the globe all face one critical challenge to their success. The ability to manage their time is incredibly important. It can mean the difference between failure and success. Manage your time well and you’ll not only accomplish more, you’ll also make more money. Here’s how.

#1 Get a calendar, and use it. One of the easiest mistakes to make is to assume you’ll remember the projects you have on hand, what’s due, and when it’s due. This can not only lead to a sense of feeling overwhelmed, you will also likely forget something. There’s nothing worse than having to cram a project in. You’re left feeling like you couldn’t give the project 100% and perhaps have an unhappy client.

The solution is simple. Get a calendar, or calendar software, and use it. Schedule your projects, not only when they’re due but also when you’re going to work on them.

#2 Make room for changes. Some days just don’t go very well. Maybe you’d planned on writing a report and you wake with a migraine. Well if you’ve scheduled that report to be written the day before it’s due, you’re out of luck. However, if you’ve made room in your calendar for bad days, rush jobs and other challenges life throws at you, then you’ll sail through the project without any problem.

#3 Stay focused when you’re working. Freelancers have the ability to work from anywhere they desire. They can work from their couch, the beach, the coffee shop or the park. This freedom also presents challenges. It’s tough to focus.

If you’re great at focusing rather than surfing the web, checking your email or feeding your fish on Facebook, then great. If you struggle with focus, consider using a timer to help you stay focused. Set the timer for how long it should take you to complete a project and work on the project until the timer beeps. If you’ve been focusing solely on your task, then it should be completed or nearly completed.

#4 Calculate your hourly rate. If you’re money motivated, this is a great way to help you stay focused and on task. For example, if you have 50 articles to write and it takes you five days to write them, at a rate of $20/article you’re making $25/hour in an eight hour day. However, if you can write those same articles in two days, you’re making $62.50/hour. The latter is a much more enticing hourly rate.

#5 Set aside time to stretch, play, and otherwise laze about. All work and no play leads to boredom, procrastination, and a complete and total inability to focus. Set aside time to do nothing, at least nothing work related. You’ll be much better able to focus and manage your work time later.

Managing your time as a freelance writer is generally a learned skill. Pay attention to your days, weeks and months. Are you successful? What challenges did you have? How can you eliminate those challenges from happening again? Use these five tips and you’re well on your way to a long and happy freelance career.

Don’t Get Burned Out As A Freelance.

Managing Freelance Burnout

If you haven’t experienced freelance burnout, it’s probably only a matter of time. Burnout is something that happens to most freelancers. There are a few key ways to manage it so it doesn’t affect your income or career.

What Is Freelance Burnout?

Freelance burnout is what happens when you just don’t have it in you to complete another project for anyone, even your best clients. You’re just plain tired of being a freelancer. You procrastinate to the point where every project becomes an emergency project or it’s delivered late. Your passion and enthusiasm for your career and business have evaporated.

What Causes Freelance Burnout?

Burnout is caused by a number of possible events or factors.

1. You’re in the wrong niche/industry. Sometimes we dive into a niche because it’s the easiest. However, if you don’t have an undying passion for that niche, then burnout is a very real possibility.

2. You’re working too hard. Working every day, seven days a week and eight to ten hours a day is a lot. For most people, it’s too much. Even if you absolutely enjoy what you’re doing, breaks and days off are essential.

3. You’re bored. Sometimes freelancers end up doing the same type of project over and over again. If you’re in a creative field, this may be stunting your creativity.

I’m Burnt Out, Now What?

If you’re suffering from burnout, try to identify why it is happening. Are you bored? Working too hard? In the wrong field? Take some time to look within yourself for the answers. It’s not going to go away until you know what’s causing it.

If you’re bored, find something that excites you. Look for a creative outlet. It can be something related to your business or entirely separate. You can create a new report, video or ebook to promote your business. Take up photography as a new hobby or write a fiction book. Make time to keep your creative side happy.

If you’re working too hard, the solution is both simple and complicated. The simple solution is to stop working so hard. However, you have obligations – both financial and to your customers, right? Look for ways to lessen your workload. Can you outsource some of the tasks that take up your time? Do you have room in your budget to weed out the smaller, lesser paying clients, and focus on the bigger clients and projects?

Ideas to Market Your Freelance Services

You’re a freelancer, right? In order to continue to be a freelancer and to grow your business, it’s important to get the word out. It’s called marketing and it’s something many freelancers neglect. Take advantage of their mistake and capture more clients. Here are seven ideas to market your freelance services.

#1 Guest blog – Your prospects read industry blogs, right? Email the owner or owners of the blog and offer to be a guest blogger for free. Your posts will capture the attention of prospects and turn them into customers. Make sure when you sign on as a guest blogger, that you’re able to also create a bio and a link back to your blog or website.

#2 Give away free information – In addition to becoming a guest blogger, write or create a free report, online course or even a video to give away. Make sure your free information provides valuable information – information that provides a solution or solves a problem for your audience.

In addition to offering the free information on your website, you can also offer it to other business owners to distribute. Make sure they agree to keep your name as author and your contact information intact.

#3 Article marketing – Another way to gain attention and market your freelance business is to create articles and publish them on article marketing sites. They’ll be published on a number of websites. Your author information will be intact and you’ll drive tons of traffic and prospects to your website.

#4 Create a newsletter – When you gain subscribers, whether they’re customers or not, you have access to them. They’ve agreed to receive information from you and you can provide them with valuable information. Each newsletter is an endorsement for you and your services. Invite them to forward your newsletter to a friend for more exposure.

#5 Ask satisfied customers for referrals – Don’t be shy. When a customer is satisfied, ask them for referrals. In fact, you can create a referral reward program. Each customer who refers a new customer can receive 50% off their next project. Make sure to include a dollar limit on that referral bonus, unless you don’t mind giving away thousands of dollars.

#6 Network – Social networking is a wonderful way to meet new people. It’s also a great way to share your knowledge, skills and experience. You can offer value to others and in return they may become customers.

#7 Don’t forget promotion – Postcards, business cards, advertisements and magnets on the side of your car… these little promotional items can go a long way toward attracting awareness. Invest your money wisely and focus on a few small promotional items.

Marketing doesn’t have to be stuffy and complicated. You can find creative and effective means to spread the word about your business. Growing your freelance business takes time and resources. Invest them wisely and reach your freelance business goals.

How to Keep Your Best Clients

You’ve worked hard to get where you are. You’ve marketed. You’ve done projects on spec, and for less than you’d like just to make a name for yourself. Finally, you’re starting to get some truly great clients. Clients that fit your ideal client profile. It’s vitally important to keep these fantastic clients.

Your best clients are the ones that are:

* Easy to work with
* Provide frequent jobs and income
* Give you a sense of joy, pride and accomplishment

So what can you do to keep your best clients? What can you do to make sure your bread and butter, your dream clients, stay with you for the long haul?

#1 Deliver more than promised. One of the best ways to ensure your clients stick around is to go above and beyond what they ask for. Imagine if you went to the dentist and they not only cleaned your teeth but whitened a few of the front ones for free? You’d be ecstatic, right? That’s a dentist you’d go back to in six months, maybe even if you’re terrified of the dentist.

#2 Become more than just a service provider. Service providers are easy to come by. Maybe not ones that are as good as you, but they’re out there by the dozens to be sure. One way to keep your customers coming back again and again is to become an advisor and someone they can turn to.

How do you accomplish this transition from service provider to consultant? Begin by offering advice and insight when it’s appropriate and relevant. When they ask you a question or for your advice, give it. Back it up with reasons why you feel the way you do and establish yourself as an expert.

#3 Honor your commitments and follow through. It might surprise you to know that your customers are probably accustomed to freelancers who flake. Many freelancers are really good about making commitments and promises, but few are good at following through. Create a no excuses policy for yourself. Always deliver on time and follow through on your commitments. You’ll surprise your customers and they’ll come back for your services again and again.

#4 Touch base. Sometimes clients drop away for a while. Make sure they keep you in the front of their mind by touching base with them from time to time. Connect with them on social media sites. When you come across some industry information you think they might benefit from, send them a note. Keeping your customer in mind will help them remember you when they need your services.

Keeping your best customers is about offering exceptional customer service. It’s about taking the extra steps to let them know they’re important to you. It’s well worth the effort. You’ve come a long way. Keep your best customers and make your freelance life all you dreamed it would be.

How to Find More Great Clients

Whether your freelance business is exactly where you want it or you’re looking to grow, it pays to spend some time filling your rolodex with great clients. After all, the more clients you have, the more money you’ll make. Here are a few ways to find all the great clients you could ever want.

#1 Network – One of the best ways to find great clients is to put yourself out there. Networking online and offline is a fantastic way to meet wonderful people and future customers. Online, take a look at industry chat rooms and forums. Don’t forget the mainstream social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter too.

Offline, check out your local small business association, chamber of commerce or other industry associations.

#2 Blog – Blogging is a fantastic way to share your experience, knowledge and skills with prospective clients. You can combine networking with your blogging endeavors and post links to your new blog posts on your networking sites.

Blogging will help drive potential customers to your services. Search engine results and external links will both help you build your client base.

#3 Referrals – If you’re looking for a sure-fire way to build your client base with great clients, ask your current best clients to refer others. You can even go so far as to offer a referral bonus in the form of cash or a discount on services.

#4 Affiliates – Depending on the size of your business and your desired business goals, you may benefit from an affiliate program. Paying others a commission to promote your business takes a bit of planning; however, it can really be worth it. You may end up building an empire.

#5 Free information – Okay, so you’re blogging, networking and you have an affiliate team or a referral program. What else can you do? You can offer free information about your industry. Think about your target audience and the problems they have.

If you are a freelance graphic designer, you might create a report about the five reasons why you need a quality logo. If you’re a freelance writer, you might offer a report on how to hire a freelance writer. Free information drives traffic to your website and services. It also demonstrates your credibility as an expert in your industry. Create free reports and publish articles, and you can even create free worksheets, online courses and newsletters.

There are clients out there just waiting for you to present yourself. Use your skills, knowledge and resources to attract your ideal customer. Give them every reason to hire you for their next project and every project thereafter.

How to Find Your Ideal Client

Being a freelancer has definite perks. You have the freedom to choose your hours. You can call in sick without feeling guilty. And of course you’re in control of who you work with and the projects you work on. However, in the beginning and certainly throughout your freelance career you’ll likely take projects that are with clients you’d rather pass on. Many freelancers struggle to find their ideal clients.

What Is Your Ideal Client?

Before you can go on a scavenger hunt for your ideal client, you want to identify what makes them ideal. Is it a topic, project type or subject matter that you find ideal? Do you prefer certain communication styles? Are you looking for someone who is detail oriented or someone who lets you manage the details? Do you want to work together as a team or would you rather work alone?

Many people view their ideal client as someone who provides them with a constant stream of well-paying work. That’s certainly a bonus. However, if you don’t enjoy working with that client or on their projects, the money isn’t going to be as fun to earn. They won’t be an ideal client.

Take some notes or jot down an idea of who your ideal client is. Daydream for a minute and imagine who they are. This is your ideal client profile. Keep this information where you can review it often.

Finding Your Ideal Client

The next step is to explore where your ideal client may hang out. Do they participate on industry forums? Are they in your local networking group? Find out where they hang out and make yourself a part of their world.

For example, if your ideal client is a small business blogger interested in parenting and child-related topics, then you may network on small business blogging sites or parenting sites. Check out the people who are hanging out there too. Connect with them.

Introduce yourself. Perhaps you already know who your ideal client is. Maybe you love the products a company offers, you like their personality and would love to work with them. Then by all means hold out your virtual hand and introduce yourself. Let them know you admire their work. Tell them what you do and offer your services. Consider offering a project on spec. That way they get to know you and the amazing freelance work you do, and there’s no risk to them.

Ask for an introduction. If you know people who know people, tell them who your ideal client is and ask for referrals and introductions. If there’s one thing everyone should have been taught in school, it is that hard work is only part of the success equation. Who you know is also important, and it makes the trip to success street much faster and easier.

Finding your ideal client isn’t difficult. Describe them in a paragraph or two; create an ideal client profile. Then seek them out online and off. Ask for introductions and referrals. Connect with them and don’t be shy. Your ideal client may be looking for an ideal freelancer – you!

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!