5 Secrets Successful Online Writers Are Hiding from You
|June 3, 2012||Posted by glori under Blogging, How to, Tips, Writing|
More and more people are turning to freelance writing as a way of earning extra income. Most newbie writers are hopeful but easily get intimidated when faced with their first writing assignment.
This article will help you get over that!
As a budding freelance writer, I used to struggle with the way online writing is done. I know I could write; I just didn’t know if I could write for the web. You can say that in the pen-and-paper world, I was (and still am) a “freestyle” writer.
However, along the way, I learned through continuous reading, writing, blogging, and practice how to write an article or a blog post that clients want. Online writers have five simple secrets to get them started (and keep) on writing effective articles.
Let’s start at the beginning.
1. Research, research, research.
There are some things we know a lot about, and there are others we don’t. One of the important steps in writing quality content is to research the heck out of it. with the internet, you can have access on almost any kind of information.
Google is the king of search engines and you’d be wise to learn how it works not only for the purpose of research but for SEO as well.
Here, I’ll show you how to use the basic query syntax to help you find exactly what you’re looking for. There are also other elements that you can use to narrow down your search list.
Let’s use the term “submit articles” for the following examples.
If you want to search within a specific site, say the FilipinoBook.com, for the term submit articles, type:
submit articles site:FilipinoBook.com
If you want to search exactly for submit articles, as in “blog” followed directly by “posts,” type the search term within double quotes:
NOTE: You may also combine these operators:
“submit articles” site:FilipinoBook.com
Sometimes, the Google search engine drops some words off your search terms. In these cases, use the (+) plus sign. This helps narrow down your lists to the only relevant search results.
submit articles + freelancing 2012
To exclude terms you do not want appearing in your search results, use the (-) minus sign before it.
submit articles -business
Search Terms in Titles, Text, or URL
Use these operators when you want to specify the location of your search terms in the results.
2. Write a perfect headline.
Why you should write the headline first.
As a writer, it is advisable to write the headline first and not last. A headline will give you a clear view of what you are writing and keep you focused on the topic. There are lesser chances of you going off topic or just stopping writing altogether because you got confused.
In a nutshell, writing the headline first will:
- Give you direction
- Get you started on an outline
- Help you stay true to your message
- Guide you on your keyword research
Why a perfect headline matters.
This post is titled ”5 Secrets Successful Online Writers Are Hiding from You.” Did that make you click that title button so you can read the rest of this post? Well, that’s because a great headline is needed for you to grab the attention of the readers.
The body of your article may be informative and entertaining, but chances are, if your headline is boring and dry, it doesn’t matter because it will not get read.
How does a perfect headline look?
Headlines, or article titles, are important. These few first words are what attract the bees to the flowers, so to speak.
Remember these simple guidelines:
- Use simple verbs and adjectives that everyone will understand. To do this, use words or phrases like as untold secrets, sure-fire ways, ugly lies (or truths), or stupid mistakes.
- Use the main keyword in your headline, preferably at the beginning.
- Be specific. Let the readers know what they will be getting when they read your article. Let the headline scream that the article can solve problems, provide useful information, or make them feel better.
- Do not be afraid to exaggerate. Yes, you read that right. Exaggeration in your headline can be done as long as it is in context and you can deliver. Do not be a troll and give out empty promises.
The headline format matters
The format of the title matters a lot too. Here are few effective headline formats you can use on your articles that have been proven to grab the attention of readers:
- How to…
- 5 Simple Ways (or Tips) to…
- The Ultimate Guide to…
- Are You…?
- How You Can…
- [Topic/Keyword]: 5 Easy Ways to…
- “Why I Never…” says Jennifer Aniston
Remember that a great article deserves an even greater headline.
After writing the headline, it’s now time to focus on what will showcase your knowledge and expertise on the topic of the article.
3. Write high-quality content.
Once you get around all the freelance writing sites, you’ll notice that the tagline “content is king” has been written about, explained, and elaborated by freelance writers repeatedly. In fact, I’m doing it now… because it is the motto of every freelance writer who is serious about their work.
There are 3 important things you have to do to deliver quality content.
Perfect your spelling, grammar, and punctuation “skills.”
English is a language most Filipinos understand and speak, but writing it is a different matter. I’m fortunate that I have had great English teachers in the past and have also had copyeditor training, which mostly focused on honing our skills in English language.
If you feel, and know, that your mastery of the language is lacking, do something about it. Read grammar books, take spelling quizzes online, read on proper usage of commas and colons. Improve yourself as a writer.
Here’s where I go to when I need English language questions answered:
Increase your (online) vocabulary.
There are many words that you will learn as you freelance. New words and technical terms are to be expected and not feared. With Wikipedia and other resources, you can learn almost anything at once.
Here are some resources to help you (which can be also great research tools):
4. Practice writing every day.
There’s just no other way to do it. You need to keep on writing for three important reasons: to get comfortable writing, to find your writing voice, and to get paid.
Here’s how I practice writing every day.
Blogging. Soon, you’ll be asked to write blog posts. So start getting comfortable by doing it in your own little corner of the web. I even have my own!
Keeping a journal or a diary. This will help you get used to writing down your thoughts in an almost organized way. I personally think it helps prevent writer’s block because your mind is in this constant state of churning ideas that you need to write down.
Writing for writing sites. There are many revenue-sharing sites that you can write for such as HubPages and Squidoo. The premise is that you can write about what you know and you get paid through the number of page views or your AdSense or Chitika. You can also get the chance to learn through the feedback of other writers on your posts.
To be honest, I have no high income expectations from such sites. I commonly use them as a place for portfolio pieces and for practice.
Quality content is what clients are looking for, work hard to give it to them.
5. Know the web, Know SEO.
When clients tell you they want SEO articles, they mean they want articles rich in On-Page SEO. This means that they want content that search engines can easily find.
As writers, I found that it could be a little confusing to learn about this. So I’ll give you the basics, as in what your article should contain.
Unless you also offer keyword research, the client will usually give you a keyword on which your article will revolve around.
I must emphasize that such keywords must be used as is (unless the client says otherwise). For instance if your keyword is “Texas content insurance,” use it exactly as it is (sometimes even if it may make the sentence structure look a bit off) and just make sure that it will seamlessly fit in the article.
NOTE: Since the Panda update and Penguin update by Google though, the focus really is more on quality content than keywords.
The keyword must also be found on the title (preferably at the beginning), the first sentence, the last sentence, and distributed throughout body of the article.
Google also takes into account other words related to the main keyword. These are words that are likely to be mentioned when talking about the main keyword. For example, you may also include “Texas hazard insurance” or “Texas insurance plans” once or twice in the article.
These give credence and natural flow to the article in the eyes of Google. For the above example, synonymous words for “insurance” would be “security,” “indemnity,” and “policy.”
You may get co-occurrence and synonym ideas for your articles’ keywords using the following for free:
- Google Keyword Tool
- Google Suggest (usual Google homepage)
Keyword density is the number of time a specific keyword is mentioned in the article body. You may use Live Keyword Analysis for this.
A few things you have to remember:
- The ideal keyword density is between 1.5% and 4%. This varies among sources but you’ll be safe in this range. So do not stuff the article with keywords.
- If the keyword has one- and two-letter words on it, do not include them in the keyword box. Your keyword density will be 0% if you do. For example, if the keyword is “How to get beautiful skin,” put “How get beautiful skin” in the box to get the true keyword density value.
- Do not include the title when you’re checking for the keyword density.
Headings and Formatting.
Unless otherwise stated by the client, you may also use special formatting such as italics and bold on your keywords to emphasize them. The heading tags such as H1 also give emphasis to your keywords. That is why it is also necessary to start your articles title with your keywords.
So those are just the basics of on-page SEO that a freelance writer has to have some knowledge about.
Article writing is something every freelance writer should enjoy doing. Freelance writer sin particular need to enjoy and master it so that we can create quality content for our clients in big numbers.
Do you have other secrets to share? Reveal them in the comments below!
Glori is a registered nurse but you can hire her as a freelance writer for your quality content needs. She writes, sometimes sarcastically, about her crazy introvert life on her blog, Crazy Introvert, in the hopes of connecting with other introverts like her. She likes ideas, fiction books, dogs, and life in general.Web | More Posts
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