If there is one thing we here at Fi Darby Freelance are good at, it is writing blog posts. The life of a blogger is a happy one, you get to research and put down in words all kinds of interesting facts and figures, you also, if you write your own personal blog, get to go out and do interesting things that you can write about. Making money from blog writing takes experience and practice but it can be done. Today we have 6 top blog writing tips that will help you to write blog posts that clients will pay for. Continue reading “How to Get Paid for Writing Quality Blog Posts”
52% of all UK businesses registered with Companies House are operated from the owner’s home. That’s 2.75 million home businesses and a significant proportion of our UK economy. Setting up a home office is an exciting prospect but, whatever your business idea, it is important to ensure that you have a space in which you know you will be able to concentrate, work and get on with being successful. We have 10 top tips to help you set up your home office and work from home in comfort.
1. Choose an office space you will enjoy being in
The simple truth is that if you don’t like a space, you won’t be relaxed in it and if you aren’t relaxed you won’t be able to work productively.
2. Be generous with your home office desk
Your desk doesn’t have to be expensive (it doesn’t even have to be a desk) but it does need to be suitable for purpose. That tiny table in the corner may make your office look big but will it really allow you adequate room to spread out your laptop, diary, paperwork and that vital cup of tea?
3. Spend a bit on your office chair
Chances are you will be spending a fair amount of time at your desk, particularly in the early days of your new business. Your quality of work will suffer if your sitting position is poor. Take some time to shop around for an office chair, it doesn’t have to be brand new but it does need to provide effective support for your back. The best seating posture is a relaxed angle of 100 to 110 degrees.
4. Think about lighting for your home office
Your eyes are going to work hard in the early days of your business so give them a chance by ensuring that the lighting in your home office is suitable for purpose. Lighting shouldn’t be too bright especially if it is causing glare on your screen, for this reason you should position your computer screen so that it isn’t directly in front of a window.
5. Build plenty of storage into your home office design
It has been suggested that clutter in a room can lead to clutter in our heads. Whilst this is not true for everybody, having a tidy office is efficient and can save precious work time.
6. Ensure adequate internet connections
Few of us can run our businesses with no internet access and we all get fed up with slow broadband and lagging websites. This sort of frustration adds to workplace stress (something you especially want to avoid if your workplace is also your home). Before you locate your home office spend some time comparing connection speeds in different rooms.
7. Add a bit of nature to your home office
Being outside is good for us and, whilst you may not have much time when you are first setting up your home business, you can get the feeling of being in the great outdoors in your home office. Make sure that you have windows that you can open and add some plants to give greenery and additional oxygen.
8. Consider noise factors
When choosing which room to use as a home office you should think about noises in and around the room that might disturb you. If you are next to the kitchen will you feel fidgety when the family comes in to use it?
You should also make sure that you have some provision for music or podcasts in your home office. Most of us don’t want to work to music all of the time but it can help when we are feeling a bit tired.
9. Ring the changes
Don’t be afraid to take advantage of the fact that you are working from home. Whilst your home office should be your main home base, enjoy your ‘home worker’ status by taking your work elsewhere from time to time. If you are baking a cake work in the kitchen and enjoy the aromas from the oven, if you feel the need for fresh air then head out to the garden. On a rainy day, you might even want to consider sending a few emails from the greenhouse!
10. Enjoy your home office
Take a moment each day to appreciate the fact that you are working from home, that you can have your lunch whenever you want to, that you can start at 5 and finish at 3 and that you can go to the loo as many times a day as necessary. If 55% of offices are at home, that leaves 45% that are not, we at Fi Darby Freelance know which we prefer.
Most people these days have heard the term ‘inbound marketing’ but many will still be unclear as to exactly what it is and how it relates to their marketing strategy or small business. At Fi Darby Freelance we like things to be simple so we have given you a few answers to the question, ‘What is inbound marketing?’.
Definition: inbound marketing attracts prospective customers before they even know they want to buy something
Inbound marketing pulls customers in by providing stimulating content (visual, audio or written) that shares a brand message and makes them want to find out more.
Inbound marketing is not the same thing as outbound marketing
Outbound marketing (what we know generally as ‘advertising’) relies on a business sending its marketing message to a defined audience. TV adverts, mail campaigns and posters would all be examples of outbound advertising.
Inbound marketing uses online media to attract your audience
Have you ever clicked through to a website because you like their Instagram video or checked out an online shop because their blog post made you laugh? If you have then you have been the subject of successful inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing works because people (potential customers) don’t like adverts
Most of us get exasperated with advertising. It interrupts our viewing, appears through our doors and pops up on our social media pages. Inbound marketing is more subtle, if we like a video we want to find out more, if we read something that makes sense we are interested in the company.
Inbound marketing techniques are varied
Inbound marketing is vibrant and techniques are ever evolving they include videos, blogs, giveaways, e-books, social media quizzes and influencer marketing.
Blogs are a great example of inbound marketing
By including a blog on your website you will not only attract new customers, you will build up a loyal following, convert that following into sales and improve your SEO.
At Fi Darby Freelance our inbound marketing speciality is blog writing. We provide high quality, keyword centred blog posts to global clients. We will take on any topic in either American or UK English and are skilled at weaving essential keywords into informative, grammatically correct and entertaining posts. For more information and a free no-obligation quote please contact us.
To find out more about Fi Darby Freelance, take a look at our freelance portfolio here.
With the continuation of globalisation and the rise of the gig economy most blog or web article copywriters will find themselves with clients from all over the world. This is great news because diversity makes our job much easier but the version of English required by clients can vary from country to country and subtle differences in spelling, word meaning or grammar can catch the unwary copywriter out and irritate clients. We look at some of the key differences between UK English and American English.
Choose the right version of English
If you aren’t sure whether your client wants you to write in UK or American English be certain to ask. Mainland USA obviously uses American English but so do some of the areas of the world that the USA frequently trades or has historical connections with such as Japan, South Korea and Jordan. Most Caribbean countries also opt for American English but those that are part of the Commonwealth prefer the UK version.
American vocabulary is not always the same as English vocabulary
Most of us are used to understanding some of the common USA/UK vocabulary differences. Word interchanges like ‘tap’ and ‘faucet’ or ‘football’ and ‘soccer’ are well known. However, when you are a busy copywriter it is easy to slip up and miss some of the more subtle vocabulary differences. For example, if you are writing a travel post and use the sentence, ‘The coach arrived late’, there is a chance that your audience might be searching for a previous reference to a sports instructor. If you are ever unsure, considering checking with your client which version they prefer. If you don’t want to do that, there is help out there on the web. Oxford Dictionaries, for example, have a fairly comprehensive list of British words and expressions alongside their American equivalents. Some that you might want to watch out from a content point of view include:
- ‘car park’ (UK) and ‘parking lot’ (USA)
- ‘aluminium’ (UK) and ‘aluminum’ (USA)
- ‘current account’ (UK) and ‘checking account’ (USA)
- ‘estate agent’ (UK) and ‘real estate agent’ or ‘realtor’ (USA)
- ‘pay packet’ (UK) and ‘pay envelope’ (USA)
Learn the common differences between English and US spelling
Whilst it is possible to check any UK and US spelling differences online (Grammarist is a great place to do this) or alter your word processor’s grammar setting to the country of your choice, it will speed up your writing and help you avoid mistakes if you learn some of the basic spelling differences between English and US spelling.
- Word ending in ‘ise’ or ‘yse’ in UK English will be correctly spelt with ‘ize’ or ‘yze’ for an American audience. For example, organise/organize.
- UK English words that end in ‘our’ will typically be spelt with ‘or’ in USA English. For example, neighbour/neighbor.
- Words that in UK English end in ‘ce’ are often written with ‘se’ in American English. It should be noted that the rules for these in UK English can be complicated (usually ‘ce’ for a noun and ‘se’ for a verb).
American punctuation is not always the same as English punctuation
Apart from the obvious issues surrounding the cultural differences between ‘full stops’ and ‘periods’ American punctuation is very similar to English with a couple of key exceptions:
- Americans tend to use double quotation marks whereas single ones are more common in English (both are acceptable although not in the same document).
- In USA English it is usual for a comma to be placed before the ‘and’ at the end of a list. In UK English this would be incorrect.
We have only picked out a few of the differences between UK English and US English. It is important not to be put off a job just because you will need to write in the version of English that is no so familiar to you. Instead, spend some time reading related blogs and articles in the same version. You will find that this will help to familiarise you with language and grammar expectations. Set your spelling and grammar checker to the version you require and it will do most of the hard work for you. Language is not a static beast and in a few years time, these rules may well have changed. At Fi Darby Freelance we say embrace the differences, they may not be with us for much longer!
For a friendly and experienced chat about web content development for your project in either US or UK English please feel free to get in touch with us at Fi Darby Freelance.
As a species we’ve made a mess of a fair few things but we’ve proved ourselves to be adept in the field of invention. We invented wheels to stop ourselves walking, we invented steam engines to put ourselves out of work and now we have invented artificial intelligence to help us avoid the strain of thinking. As I type I’m aware that there is a high possibility my content writing will be the tool that eventually puts me out of a job. To explain I examine the question of whether or not AI will ever replace human content writing.
Computer generated content writing is already with us
Almost all blog content you currently read on the web is human written but once technology perfects the art of rewriting existing articles, this will change. At present it is likely that if you read sports or financial reports, at least some of these will have been written by computer. You won’t be able to tell because these formulaic snippets of text don’t require much variety of language.
If you think about it, machine written content could even be better than human written. Computers have far quicker access to existing information than humans and can assimilate it in a fraction of the time. Computers now also have the ability to judge their audience and write accordingly. Something many of us content writers would love to get right every time!
Computers are learning how to write
Today the Internet has an estimated (nobody actually knows) 50 billion web pages. This number will have grown by tomorrow, and the next day… This represents an awful lot of writing and all of this writing is already used by programmes like Google’s search algorithms and Siri’s language generation to conduct machine learning into language patterns, styles and responses, all of which will lead to more ‘human’ computer generated language. This is known as Natural Language Generation and is progressing fast.
Should we be worried?
Well if you are a content writer like me then the answer to this is ‘yes’. Pundits predict that by 2018 20% of web content will be computer written. If you are planning to retire next year then fine, otherwise you might want to start learning a few alternative skills. There are questions too of course about the impact of machine writing on the quality and innovation of language, vocabulary and style, and computers have already been proven to ‘learn’ bias such as gender stereotypes from existing web content. The debate is interesting and one I shall certainly be watching.
For now though, quality human written content remains the best way in which to reach your web audience, build a relationship with them and promote your products or services. For a friendly and experienced chat about web content development for your project please feel free to get in touch with us at Fi Darby Freelance.
We don’t bite, we write!
Whilst a few blogs are written to keep a personal record of events, most have a public purpose, usually to either deliver an opinion or drive web traffic towards a website in order to sell a product or service. Whichever reason we have for blogging it is important to make sure that our blogs are picked up in search engine results (search engine optimisation or SEO). Choosing and using keywords correctly is a big element in search engine success:
What are keywords?
Keywords are the triggers that search engine spiders and algorithms look for in order to determine the importance of your webpage with regard to a certain niche topic.
When somebody enters a Google search, Google looks at previously stored indexes to pick out the relevant pages. It then uses algorithms (pieces of problem solving program code) to decide which sites are the most likely to answer the given search question.
The correct use of keywords in your blog post will help Google and other search engines to index your website for that particular topic.
How do I choose keywords for my blog post?
The easiest way to think about this is to ask yourself which search you would do to find your own page. For example if you wrote a blog post about employment trends in the UK, the words ’employment’, ‘trends’ and ‘UK’ should all be mentioned throughout the post.
It is also important to use keyword research tools to check that you are using the optimal keywords for your topic. For example you might find for your employment trends blog that the phrase ‘job trends’ is just as important as ’employment trends’. Both Yoast and Serps offer free keyword research tools but if you are already using Google Adwords we recommend their own tool.
What is the difference between long tail and short tail keywords?
Broadly speaking short tail and long tail keywords perform the same search engine function. However they need to be used in different ways depending on what type of web traffic you want to direct towards your site.
Short Tail Keywords
Short tail keywords are three words or less long. They can answer a high volume of search questions which is great, but this volume makes it difficult to achieve high rank. For example if you used the keyword ‘camping’ in your blog post, your page would be listed by Google but the list would be so long that your page would disappear into it. In other words short tail keywords are great for generating volume but, unless you are an international company, are unlikely to get sales conversions.
Long Tail Keywords
Long tail keywords are more specific and contain more than three words. If you use a long tail keyword it is going to answer a lower volume of search questions but this lack of volume means that the list of results will be shorter and you have more chance of being a first page result. To continue our example you can see that, ‘top camp sites Devon UK’ would bring up more specific results.
The great thing about long tail keywords is that they are far more likely to bring people to your page who are looking for what you have to offer, this in turn leads to a higher conversion rate (clicks that become sales).
How often should I use keywords in my blog?
There is much discussion on this topic and Google like to keep such information under their algorithmic hats. However, the key to good keyword use is to avoid stuffing. Keyword stuffing is when you use your keyword phrase so many times that it renders your blog difficult or annoying to read.
The suggested rate of keyword usage used to be 1%-2%, for a 500 word blog post this would mean using your keyword between 5 and 10 times. We would suggest writing your post first and then checking your keyword usage. Google can check semantics (the meaning of language) so making sure that your blog post is well written is actually more important than the number of times you use a keyword.
Where should I use keywords in my blog post?
To speed up its processes and save data space, search engines such as Google will look for keyword data in certain places on your web page. As far as possible, try to use your researched keywords in:
- The title of your post (H1 Tag)
- On image tags (rename your images to include your keyword)
- In internal links (if you are linking to another page on your site)
- On site navigation links
- In meta data (information that is in your page’s code but can’t be seen)
When you first start thinking about keywords things can get a bit confusing but it is important to remember that good quality writing will almost certainly already contain important keywords. Our tips above will help you to hone your writing so that it remains easy to read but also achieves great search engine results.
Do you want to be part of the gig economy and work from home as a freelance writer? Fi Darby Freelance share their tips:
Fi Darby Freelance offer a wide range of blogging, copywriting and editing services. For a friendly chat about your needs, feel free to contact us.
The gig economy is on the rise; in February 2016 the University of Hertfordshire undertook research which suggested that a quarter of women in the UK have sought to work from home via online platforms and a quarter of all gig workers use this work as their sole income.
Let’s say you have done your research, chosen your line of work and given up your day job. Whether you are doing copywriting, web design, graphics work or coding (all of these are common ‘work from home’ jobs) there are some questions you are bound to ask:
Do I need to set up a home office?
The answer to this one is ‘yes’ and ‘no’. If you have a laptop, it is entirely possible to work from home, at the kitchen table or even in the garden. However, although these are great for a quick change of scenery or if you are watching the oven, long-term you are going to need a space in which you can shut yourself away from the rest of the world.
Do I need to work normal office hours?
This really depends on what type of work you are doing. The gig economy is global so you might find that clients expect you to work during hours that suit their timezone. The great thing about freelance working from home is the flexibility. It would be a mistake not to sometimes take advantage of this, but if you want your new business to be a success, you will have to be fierce with yourself; if you take an hour off to go for a swim at midday, make yourself work that hour either early in the morning or in the evening.
How can I keep myself motivated?
There are lots of ways to do this but here at Fi Darby Freelance we find the following three things work:
a) Remind yourself regularly what it was like when you worked set hours and weren’t in control.
b) Keep daily records of how much you are earning. If nothing else the reality of bill-paying is a great motivator.
c) Set yourself mini targets every day. This could be a written to-do list, a target number of blog readers or even an interesting piece of research; anything that will give you a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.
What can I do about feeling lonely?
It can be a social shock going from the workplace to home working. In many ways the solitude is a pleasant change, but you should also be aware of your mental health; we all need contact with other humans. Keeping in touch has never been easier via social media but getting out and actually meeting people is important too. Try to find other people who are working from home, attend business networking events or go on a course that will help you to make contacts.
Am I going to enjoy working from home?
The answer to this one is entirely up to you. Most life experiences are what we make them. Like anything else, there are pros and cons to working from home. Being responsible for your own wage takes a bit of getting used to and finding your initial clients can be daunting. Once you settle down however, you will find that the world is literally your oyster; which is great if you happen to like oysters!
Interested in finding writing work online? Here’s one place to start.
Here at Fi Darby Freelance we have seen first hand the marketing advantages of including a blog on your website. After the question, ‘What is a blog?’ the next thing we are usually asked is, ‘Why would I want a blog on my website?’ We have five important answers below:
- A blog allows you to tell your story, to let people in on your company values, to explain what you stand for and, maybe most importantly, to let prospective clients in on your personality. This is important because human nature prefers us to work with people we trust.
2. A blog, particularly one with well-managed commenting, allows you to interact with prospective clients. We all know that making contacts is key to successful marketing. There are lots of ways to do this but blogging is definitely proving to be one of the most successful.
3. A blog builds authority. This goes back to the old saying, ‘Say it with confidence.’ Blogging is an excellent way in which to demonstrate your knowledge. The bottom line is that clients value the confidence they get from employing an expert; your blog is your way of proving that you are that expert.
4. A blog will support and enhance your social media strategies. Social media users are looking for readable, high quality web content. You need to provide that content on your website in order to encourage them to click through.
5. A blog is fabulous for SEO. One of the best ways in which to ensure high rankings with Google is to publish regular, high quality blog posts. Scatter these posts with relevant keywords and long-tail keywords and Google will reward you with more visitors. Blogging will also enable search engines to pick up the context of your posts and direct web traffic accordingly.
Hopefully by now you understand why you should include a blog post on your website and are thinking about how to ensure that this happens soon. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to write posts yourself. Here at Fi Darby Freelance we offer a supportive blog writing service and provide can excellent quality content in a wide variety of niches. Contact us for more information.
Almost the first question clients ask us is, ‘What is a blog?’ Hardly surprising, we are surrounded online by all sorts of web content. Social media posts, articles, reviews, product descriptions, the list is endless and sometimes confusing.
The answer is simple: blog is a portmanteau (blended) word created from ‘web’ and ‘log’ which was entered into the Oxford English Dictionary in March 2003. In effect a blog is an online diary. Blogs tend to consist of short articles, written in a friendly tone that are regularly updated. The other common feature of modern blogs is interactivity, i.e. the ability for users to comment and engage in two-way conversation. All of this is great but blogs take time to create and manage.
People read blogs because they are interesting; many of them appeal to niche interests. For example, my outdoors blog Two Blondes Walking is very popular and almost all of our followers love getting outside. People write blogs for different reasons but the main two are: a) because they love their subject and enjoy writing. b) to gain a following.
There is some blog-based terminology, none of it is too complicated:
blog = ‘web’ + ‘log’ (also a verb ‘to blog’)
blogger = the blog’s author (some bloggers have multiple blogs)
blogging = the act of writing a blog
blog post = one section of writing (this could be weekly, monthly or even like Two Blondes, daily)
live blog = a blog written in short snippets as an event is happening
blogosphere = the wide and varied community of bloggers on the internet
blogroll = a list of blogs to which you subscribe
subscribe = sign up to receive updates when new blogs are posted
comment = join in a conversation about a particular blog topic
share = tell other people that you have enjoyed a blog post, usually through social media
You can share this blog post if you like and make this blogger very happy. Our next post will explain why all businesses should seriously consider including a blog on their website.
Ever wondered what SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is? We have some answers for you:
One of the regularly asked questions at Fi Darby Freelance is,
‘What are your writing niches?’
You would imagine that this would be an easy question to answer, we all have our own favourite topics and expertise in certain areas. In an ideal world everybody would be writing about the things they love. I would choose the outdoors and literature above another topic anytime. However, as freelance writers, we live in the business world and we can’t control demand any more than we can control the weather.
Client Choice of Niche
Clients (particularly web development agencies) require blog posts and other web copy on a wide range of topics. When I started out as a freelancer I was tempted to turn down topics I didn’t understand. This would have been a bad idea for three reasons:
- Freelance writing is a competitive world and annoying your client by being fussy about topics is not a tactic set to impress.
- Learning about new topics is actually quite easy; much of the required information is already on the web and just needs verifying and assembling.
- The more niches you can demonstrate in your portfolio, the more chances you will have of being picked up by a client.
Most Interesting Niches
It goes without saying that if you are interested in your topic you will produce a piece of work that is more lively and engaging, you will also feel more motivated. The same is true if you have developed a level of expertise in a subject. If you have got to a stage in your writing where you can be more choosy about your work, you might want to have a brain-storming session in which you consider topics away from your main interests on which you would like to write.
A great way to test your levels of interest is to write a piece. You could either do this for practice or pitch it to possible interested parties.
It also pays to know which niches you definitely would not like to write about. For me this would include sport as I find it a tad confusing.
Even if you always enjoy your writing, you should remember that freelancing is your business; it is the bread and butter that is going to keep a roof over your head and pay your bills. To this end, and to help you enjoy the freedom of freelance work, it can be a good idea to work out which niches pay best.
Traditionally these have included real estate, technology, medical writing and e-learning. However you might find in the future that other factors such as blog length, media (e.g. video scripts), graphics inclusion (e.g. infographics) and an innovative angle are the things that tip the pay-scale balance.
We have found here at Fi Darby Freelance that it pays to keep an open mind about niche writing work. What was a chore one week may well become your favourite topic the next. What pays well in February might not be as lucrative by April. We wouldn’t want to stop you having your favourite topics however; that way you can look out for matching clients and savour your writing when a job in a niche you love lands in your lap.
Keen to avoid some of the common writing pitfalls? We have some advice for you here
After some tips on how to make money from freelance writing?