I’ve started a new blog on Blogger and it’s all about SEO and what do I preach constantly on there? Post, post, post. And what have I done here? Forgotten about my poor little WP blog and let it gather dust. I’ve been making sure my clients all have current posts, but my own original blog has all but died.

What can I learn from this? Practice what I preach and get off my duff and start to post on  here more often. Sheesh…how can I expect to get new clients if I can’t even do this for myself.

Use Article DirectoriesIn a word, yes. By posting articles on the major directories such as ezine, Squidoo, Blogger and Hub Pages you can establish yourself as an expert in your field. Everyone likes to get something free so why not give away your knowledge? If you are a hairdresser, posting articles about hair care and suggesting different products will give potential clients the impression, rightly so, that you are an expert in hair care. If you are an internet marketer, you may want to post articles telling people how they can increase their sales and market their products and services. These types of articles will not only help people recognize that you know what you’re talking about, but make them interested in what you offer on your website.

Although it is very important to your Search Engine Optimization to have a blog on your site and to post entries regularly, articles posted to directories can drive traffic to your site and help the major search engines recognize your site and index it into their databases. The way these articles help to do this is by backlinks to your site. You can place relevant backlinks to your site so that after people read your informational article, they may want to check out what you have to offer. For instance, the hairdresser who is an expert at hair color will want to place a backlink in her article to the page on her website that covers her hair color services.

Take advantage of the different things you can add to your article. For example, Squidoo has modules that you can use. These modules include videos, a guestbook, Amazon links to related products and many more that can make your article interactive and help draw readers. You can embed videos into Hub Pages and Blogger that you have made or that are on YouTube. Always put a comment section or guest book and encourage people to leave comments. One way to do this is to pose a question. Don’t just say “leave a comment” rather ask a question that relates to your article. Using the hairdresser example again, if your article is about hair color you might ask “Have you ever had your hair colored?” or “What do you think of (celebrity’s name) new hair color?”

So do you need to post articles on the major directories? Yes you do. If you don’t want to or have time to do this yourself, you can hire a freelance writer or use an article service. Article services will make sure that your articles are search engine optimized and bookmarked at the major sites such as Digg, Diggio, StumbleUpon, Propellor and Delicious. They will also make sure that the backlinks lead back to the proper page on your website. Don’t be afraid to give your knowledge away, it will come back to in the form of new visitors and clients.

Well, okay maybe not fame, but I can dream can’t I? A new emag from Australia called Vitality Bulletin has published two of my articles in its premier edition. My pieces are on pages 9-10 and 12-13. On page 3 I’m listed as a Contributing Writer. Cool, huh?

I still get a thrill from seeing my work in print, whether it is online or hard copy. It sounds trite, I know, but we truly are artists. Words are our medium and the internet and print are our canvases. Writing is still fun for me and I hope that I never lose that feeling. Some days it takes all I have to get words down, but once I get done I have a sense of accomplishment. On other days I can write for hours and still be ready to write some more.

Early in my freelance career, which is by confession still very new, I had to learn to let my work go. So much of what I write goes out into the world without my name on it. Web content is pretty much ghost writing and it was hard to know that my work would be claimed by someone else. But I started to look at it as a service that I’m performing. As long as I’m happy with the pay I’ve received for my work, that is what matters.

At first when I was breaking into Freelance writing,  I started with Demand Studios. Yes, I know, you’re thinking Content Mill…but really Demand Studios has high standards. Their editors check your facts and have no patience for plagiarism. Writing for them taught me discipline and the pay is pretty good for the amount of work you have to put into a piece. One of the most important lessons I learned was to use reliable sources. This forced me to find good factual sources for my information and that in turn I believe has made me a better writer.

So, where’s all this going? I have no idea, seems like I was in the mood to wander all of the spectrum this morning. Writers do that ya know…

Ahh, the dreaded deadline. Every job has one. If you’ve been a freelance writer for any time you may be working on several projects at once. I have to keep a spreadsheet open when I’m working to be sure I’m on top of everything and don’t miss a client’s deadlines. The challenge comes when you have two or more projects that have overlapping deadlines.

Recently I got an assignment from a client for 30 articles in 3 sets of 10 due at different time. (Was that sentence confusing enough for you? It was for me.) I also have another assignment that was due right in the middle of that one. So I tried to juggle the time that I spent working on them, but it ended up with me doing an all nighter so that I could finish the second set of 10 articles on time.

Time management has always been a challenge for me. When I had jobs in the workplace most of my bosses would put on my reviews that I was a good hard worker but I needed to manage my time better. Now that I work at home it is doubly true. No one is looking over my shoulder, I have no time clock to punch and if I want to stay up until 5am working and sleep until noon the next day I can.

I have found that I need to work with the TV off. At first the sound of the TV in the background kept me company since I was used to the comings and goings of other workers and nail clients. Then as I grew accustomed to the solo life of a freelancer, the TV became a distraction. I’d turn around and get caught up in what was going on behind me on the TV and lose minutes and sometimes a whole hour watching the Boob Tube. Now I schedule a break in my day to catch up on the world and my soap opera.

So, back to deadlines. I seem to work the best when one is looming in the near future. For example, the last set of 10 articles are due on Tuesday. It is now Sunday evening. Have I started them? No, of course not. Where would the adventure be in that? I will most likely do a few tomorrow and then pull another all nighter to meet the deadline.

How do you handle multiple deadlines? Do you get right on projects or do you put them off until the last-minute? What methods do you have to keep track of your projects? Are they online, in a notebook or in a file on your computer?

My computer has been off to be repaired for a few weeks. Now I have it back and it is working great, but all of my files are gone. No sample articles are left, no more resume, no bookmarks for the net that I’ve spent months collecting…gone…poof!

One of my friends asked me if I had everything backed up offline…well, no. Now I will though. So a word to the wise, back up everything!

Well my great job is no more. The owner had to cut expenses and I was one of them. Am I upset? Well sure but I learned alot and the owner did pay me while he could and was a good guy to work for. So now it is time to move on. I’ve kept my toe in the waters so to speak and still have some other clients so I’ll get by.

One thing I knew going into this is that you can be on top one day and out the next. There were signs that things were going south so it wasn’t a big surprise. So a word to the wise, don’t get too comfortable, situations change quickly and on the internet they change at the speed of light. Have a backup plan and don’t put your faith or time into just one client.

Been A While

I know it’s been ages since I’ve updated this blog. My new job keeps me pretty busy but I’ve got the weekend off so I thought I’d put some thoughts down on “paper”. One thing that I’ve learned is that I have to take care of myself. It is so easy to get wrapped up in a job you love that time seems to pass quickly and before you know it you’ve been sitting at the computer for a few hours. I’ve learned that I need to get up and move around more, stretch, give my eyes a break and eat at regular intervals.

Sleep. Everyone needs it, but few of us get enough. How many nights do writers lie in bed thinking of plots, characters, the next big project, the project that keeps haunting your thoughts and not get the sleep we need to be productive? Too many nights than I want to admit to. Turning your mind off is hard when you’re creative. Some of my best ideas come right before I go asleep. Then I spend the night in my dreams working out the details only to awaken and be blank. That old adage about keeping a notepad and a pen by your bed is fine if you don’t need glasses to see what you’re writing.

So take care of yourself. Get some rest, eat regularly and remember to get up from your computer once in a while. Do these things and you’ll have more energy and be more productive.

Recently I’ve become the Managing Editor of a newly formed company.  We manage blogs and provide content for our clients.  One of our main functions is to help sites get more traffic and a higher rank in Google.  It has been  an experience to be on the other side of the submit button.  All of these years of writing and I never really thought I’d be an editor.

In my mind editors always seemed all-knowing and aloof.  They seemed to have the power of life and death over my pieces and for a writer that can be very unsettling.  I have been blessed with some very knowledgeable and patient editors who have helped me grow as a writer.  I have also had the unfortunate experience to have nit picky editors who worried me over every little dot and comma on the page. 

I hope to become the kind of editor that can help a writer create a better piece of work, not the kind who is scary or makes a writer feel nervous about submitting their work.  Yes, I have had to turn down a few pieces, but I try to do it with tact and offer suggestions on how to make the piece better.  After all, I do still know what it is like to have to face criticism no matter how constructive it can be.

So, here I am, on the other side of the page. I kind of like it. It has brought new challenges and as I edit others work it has helped me be a better writer, too.

Expanding My Horizons

When I started my freelance career, my focus was on health and beauty articles.  Recently I’ve had an assignment on World Extreme Cagewrestling.  If you knew me personally you’d know how humorous this subject is for me to cover.  I am the least athletic person you may ever meet.  I know nothing about the WEC.  I used to watch wrestling but when it became a huge soap opera I quit.  So off to the web to do research and I’ve actually found this subject quite interesting.  The amount of training these fighters go through is amazing.  I still can’t understand why grown men and women, yes women, go into a cage and beat the snot out of each other, but hey, whatever sinks your bobber. 

One of the most suprising things I’ve found is that although I’m a cosmetologist, writing about hair is sometimes difficult.  It’s one of those things where I know what I want to say, but it is so second nature I have a hard time putting it down on “paper”.  I’ve been hired to write some web content for a beauty salon and it’s been like pulling teeth getting it into an article format.  It did help when I was explaining to a friend what I was writing about because she was asking me questions.  She suggested that I act like I was explaining the subject to her and that she knew nothing about it, that has worked wonders. 

So, don’t be afraid to expand your horizons.  If you’re unsure about a subject, research it and when you write about it remember the questions you had at first.  If it’s a subject you’re familiar with it may help to pretend that you’re explaining it to a friend.  Who knows what I’ll be writing about next?  I can’t wait to see.

Every week Jennifer Stewart of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia sends out a wealth of wisdom and information in her newsletter, Writing Tips.  She includes a bit of humor, well alot of humor, little known word wisdom and there is a link to The Never Ending Story.  You can click on it and add your two cents worth.  Believe me, it is worth it to read the entire story.  The posts are very imaginative and quite funny.  I plan to put my spin on poor Dr Morgenes adventures soon.  Go ahead, do it!