Tag Archives: small business

What I Learned From Blogging Everyday for a Month

29 May

During the month of May, I decided to participate in the 2011 WordCount Blogathon, which required posting once a day to ‘A Journey of Words’. For a busy freelance web copy writer, this was no easy task. First of all, I had to dedicate at least 30 minutes daily to writing a blog post. Secondly, I had to come up with topics that would be of interest to my readers. Lastly, I had to stick with something for an entire month, something I have struggled with in the past. But here I am, at the end of this challenge and I did it!

During this time, here’s what I learned:

1. Blogging can be a great way to connect with readers and meet new contacts. Throughout the month, I had the honor of getting comments from a huge audience of fellow bloggers, writers and business owners around the world. A few even agreed to be guest bloggers, which was such a treat. I have to say that the rewards of blogging are many.

2. Blogging teaches discipline as a freelancer. One of the biggest fears I had going into the Blogathon was that I would not have the time to blog daily. Instead, I found that the time I spent blogging taught me a lot about being committed to something bigger than myself. I became more disciplined and stopped letting things distract me from my purpose as a writer.

3. Blogging daily is a great source of free advertising. Over the entire month, I used Google alerts to track my success as a blogger, specifically to see if my name came up often through web searches. You may have noticed that there were specific keywords highlighted in most posts (but not all). These keywords helped my website to rank higher and I got a lot of Google hits on my name and my blog feeds.

Spending time on your blog daily, or at least a few times a week, can be a great way to build a steady following of people, make new friends and build awareness about your business or passions. I fully intend to use my blog as a tool to reach more people and share information in a big way this year.

Now it’s your turn to share – How do you benefit from blogging?

How to Avoid Working Weekends as a Web Copy Writer

7 May

The thing about web copy writing is that it’s one of those careers that has endless work coming in. Combined with clients who want everything “yesterday” and you have a recipe for stress. When I first started out as a Charleston web copy writer, I often found myself taking on way too much work and trying to meet unrealistic deadlines in an attempt to impress my new clients. While I have always prided myself on fast turnaround, sometimes I bit off more than I could chew and found myself working on the weekends to catch up. After a few months of this, I was ready for the looney bin! So I decided to take a step back and figure out why I wasn’t able to get the work done during the week.

Some of the reasons I often ended up working weekends were:

  • Too much work and no one to help out.
  • Deadlines too close together on multiple clients.
  • Bad habits from when I worked full time and wrote in the evenings/on weekends.
  • Procrastinating on big projects until I was days away from deadlines.
  • Too many distractions in my life – the phone, email, facebook, family, etc.

So after going through this scenario over the course of a year of writing, I started to feel majorly burned out. My family was also getting pretty mad at me for spending every waking hour on my laptop banging out articles and web copy. My house was a disaster zone from all the housework and laundry piling up. I had next to no social life and was getting very pale from being stuck in my home office for weeks on end. Something seriously had to give!

Finally, I came up with a little system which has worked for me ever since. Here’s what I recommend for any web copy writer who wants to avoid working on weekends:

Make a schedule and stick to it. I use my Google calendar A LOT. If something comes up, I check my calendar first before I tell a client when I can meet for coffee, have a project done, and other things that take up my time. Clients are generally understanding that I have other projects on my plate so they are willing to wait a reasonable amount of time to get quality results from me.

Be realistic about what you can do. Sometimes I have thought of myself as super-woman and have taken on projects that were a wee bit too technical for me. I like the challenge apparently! When this has happened in the past, I have spent way too many hours trying to figure something out for the benefit of a client, because I always bend over backwards for people. That means I probably didn’t make a real profit on some of that work. Instead, now I take on projects I know I can do a great job on and pass others onto colleagues who are better at things I cannot do.

Ask for help when needed. One of the biggest pitfalls of being a freelancer is having the sense of responsibilty for everything. When I accept a project, I do it 100% to the best of my abilities. This can lead to stress, however, when life’s little emergencies happens. That’s when someone close to me suggested “why not ask for help?”. So I found a couple of fantastic freelance writers and have asked them for help on occasion. That keeps me from doing overtime on weekends.

Reduce self-defeating habits from my week. Perhaps the biggest reason I used to work a lot of weekends was because I goofed around on the computer all week, chatting with friends, checking out community forums, and basically procrastinating. So, I started using a timer and working in chunks of time, without distractions or allowing myself to surf the net. Once the work is done, then I have time to play a little. I find that I spend less time working on weekends when I remove these self-defeating activities from my work week.

What are some other suggestions you can think of that will help you be more productive during the week so you spend less time working on weekends? Please leave your suggestions and comments below!

Word Count Blogathon 2011 – Tess C Taylor, Charleston Web Copy Writer Participating!

1 May

Hey all!

During the month of May, I’ve decided to inject my blog “A Journey of Words” with some energy by participating in the Word Count 2011 Blogathon! This fun event is the brainchild of Michelle Rafter, the founder of “Wordcount: Freelancing in the Digital Age“, which happens to be one my favorite blogs that’s jammed packed with information about web content and copy writing! The reason I chose to get involved in this are many, including:

  • My blog really needs more interesting content to get people engaged.
  • I LOVE sharing information about being a Copy Writer in Charleston.
  • I’d like to introduce some of the wonderful entrepreneurs I work with.
  • Would like to get to know many more people in the online marketing industry.
  • The topics for the Blogathon look fun to write about.
  • The 2011 Wordcount Blogathon offers some sweet prizes and a party!

The entire Blogathon requires that bloggers write at least a post per day, write on specific topics, get other bloggers involved and join in on a network of others who are doing this fun activity. The first thing I was concerned with was “Will I have enough things to talk about on my blog?”, closely followed by “How will I find time to post daily?”. Naturally, as a busy freelance web copy writer, I have a lot on my plate. Clients depend on me to get their projects done. I’m continually trying to meet more people who can utilize my services. Plus, I have a fairly active personal life as Mom to a college student. The To-Do list in my life is ever growing.

Still, I accept this challenge to grow my blog, meet new people, and get myself out there instead of being a hermit, buried under work! So, look for some informational, educational, funny, and sometimes off the wall posts in the coming weeks. I’m using my Google calendar to set reminders of the topics and to make sure I don’t forget a day. From your favorite Charleston copy writer to you – here’s to the start of something wonderful!

Want more information about how you can join the 2011 Word Count Blogathon? Register here : http://michellerafter.com/the-2011-wordcount-blogathon/

10 Tips for Working with a Great Web Copy Writer

4 Apr

In this global economy, the smartest investment a small business owner will ever make is a professional website. Not only can a website become a central point from which to market products and services, but it can be an excellent way to convey a message to the rest of the world. A well designed website can also be an effective resource that will provide value and dimension to your company. In other words, what your website tells others about you initially will leave a lasting impression on anyone searching for your particular offering(s).

Your new website should be able to do two things and do them well. It should clearly state that “Hey, I’m here to serve your needs!” and “This is what makes me better than other companies!” 

Without these two critical things, a website will fail – no matter how much you pay someone to design it for you or how much time you spend on it. If you are struggling to come up with a clear message, no one can help you better than a professional web copy writer!

So how can you be sure to find the best web copy writer to handle the job correctly the first time? Here are some helpful tips for working with a great web copy writer for your new website:

1. Know your expectations before searching for a web copy writer. Before you start placing ads for a writer, consider what your actual needs will be. Do you have a website that’s ready for content? Is there a specific time frame you have for the web copy to be completed? What are your ideas in terms of budget for the writing project? Make sure you have all these questions answered in advance so you can find a copy writer who can handle your writing project with ease. Failure to provide full disclosure can have disastrous results.

2. Review multiple portfolios of web copy writers in your market. This is a mistake that far too many business owners make when beginning a search for a web copy writer. Think about it. Would you hire someone off the street to fix your expensive foreign car if that person had only worked on American vehicles? No, of course not. You would find someone who had experience in your specific market. Likewise with web copy writers. Look for those who have experience writing in your market, industry or business focus. Their expertise will come across in your web copy, making you sound more authorative.

3. Evaluate the performance of previous web copy projects. As you search through the online portfolio of the web copy writers you are considering for the job, take a look at how well the websites come up in the search engines. You can do this easily by typing in the keywords highlighted on the website or the keywords you would search for to find each particular business. You may also contact the webmaster for each website and ask how well the websites are performing. The goal of your website is to rank well on the first page of the search engine results, so choose writers who consistently provide SEO friendly copy and results you can actually see.

4. Read client testimonials / ask for references. Any good web copy writer worth his or her salt will be able to produce actual client testimonials as to the quality of work. These testimonials are generally found on the web copy writer’s website or social media pages (like LinkedIn). You should also feel free to ask for client references as to the validity of these testimonials if you are unsure of things. Remember, this is your project and you want the very best professional for the job.

5. Have a reasonable budget in mind. The old rule of “you get what you pay for” definitely applies when searching for a great web copy writer. Cheap is never better. In fact, if you want cheap you can hire someone who doesn’t speak your language, doesn’t care about quality and cares nothing about your business or it’s success online. If you want website copy that outperforms your competitors, hire a web copy writer who charges accordingly. Have a realistic budget in mind when hiring a copy writer, which can range on average from $200-600 per website.

6. Look for versatility in a web copy writer. When you are hiring a web copy writer to complete the most important aspects of your online marketing project, consider a writer who is versatile. Afterall, once the website is completed, you will no doubt want to promote it through a wide range of marketing medium. A good web copy writer should also offer other writing services such as press releases, print marketing, social media marketing and more. You will want to keep this person around for future jobs!

7.  Get it in writing. Once you have found the right copy writer for the job, ask about getting a contract. In this day and age, just because you have a nice telephone conversation doesn’t mean you will get what you paid for. A web copy writer who is a true professional will be glad to send a contract for services and get everything in writing before taking on a job or accepting payment. Make sure all terms are clear and your content will be 100% original and owned by you. Failure to do this, and you can risk more than just money.

8. Communicate often with your web copy writer. The key to any working relationship is to communicate on a frequent basis. So too, it is important to talk with your copy writer on a regular basis. Make an ongoing effort to gently ask for updates on the project and be available and responsive when your copy writer has a question or needs more information. Give a phone number where your writer can call you. Set up a weekly telephone meeting to discuss the project and assign someone to be the central point of contact at your company.

9. Provide full company information. Be sure to send your copy writer all the background information on your company that you can. This includes your company location, founding date, leaders, mission statement, goals, target customers and products. Never assume that your web copy writer will know all this information or be able to find it. Remember that it’s always better to give too much information to your writer than not enough.

10. Treat your web copy writer right!  Your web copy writer can be your best source of help and information in terms of marketing and advertising. Many of the better copy writers have worked with prominent clients and web marketing professionals and they have learned a lot along the way. Treat your copy writer well by giving prompt feedback, sending payments in on time and offering to give a testimonial or referals. Your web copy writer will most likely bend over backwards to give you the very best service this time and every time if you follow these tips.

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About the Author: Tess C. Taylor is a web copy writer and owner of Taylor Resources Writing. She has written for well over 5 years now and her client list includes many small businesses and large media firms like Yahoo & US News. You can find out more at www.TRWRITING.com

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Tess’ List of the Top Technology Tools for Small Businesses

31 Mar

Hello and welcome back to “A Journey of Words” where you can find resources and inspiration to take your business to the next level with smart content marketing!

This week, I would like to share what I believe to be the Top Technology Tools (say that ten times fast!) that every small business needs to get ahead in today’s global economy. These are free and low cost tools that you can get started with anytime to make your business more efficient this year.

So, grab a pen and let’s dive right in!

Hootsuite – Social Media Management. For those of you on social media channels like facebook, twitter and LinkedIn, finding time to write engaging posts on these places can get time consuming and tedious. Hootsuite allows you to take a block of time once a week and schedule your posts ahead of time! Plus you can monitor how popular your posts are with their neat analytical tools. This service is absolutely free to try so check it out.

Word Press – Blogging. I cannot say enough nice things about Word Press and all the excellent resources they offer to small business owners who want to build relationships. Word Press offers a huge range of blogging formats, fully customizable templates and headers, media management, and innovative plug-in’s like membership software, email marketing and more to make running a business online much easier. And it’s all free!

Constant Contact – Email Marketing. Thinking about using that massive email listing you have gathered over the course of a few years in business? Why not! Constant Contact is a great way to share helpful information with your email list and gather continual interest in your business. Use it to promote new products, enhanced services and keep in touch with the people who care about you the most – your clients. Use this link to get 60 days of Constant Contact newsletters free!

VistaPrint – Marketing Materials.  Gosh I love being a creative person! Whenever I get a notion to promote my business (which is often) and I need some fresh new marketing materials, I head on over to Vista Print for some great values in business cards, postcards, labels and more! Keep an eye on your email since Vista Print announces their free specials and gives out coupon codes for free shipping too.

Skype – Internet Phone.  I just can’t say enough nice things about my Skype account. I have been using this for well over 3 years now to accept business calls, track my contact phone numbers, and give my customers a place to leave a voicemail or send me an instant message any time of the day or night. It’s very low cost at only $30 a year if you pay a year in advance.

So there you have it folks! This is my list of the top technology tools that any small business can use to get ahead ( and save money ) this year. Hope you enjoyed and can get some use out of it.

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About the Author: Tess C. Taylor is a web copy writer and owner of Taylor Resources Writing. She has written for well over 5 years now and her client list includes many small businesses and large media firms like Yahoo & US News. You can find out more at www.TRWRITING.com

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Managing the Balancing Act

8 Feb

As a small business owner, do you often feel like you are on a high wire about twenty feet above the circus crowd trying desperately to stay on top of everything in a balancing act?

Well, you are not alone! About 99% of all entrepreneurs feel this way on a regular basis, what with all the responsibilities and demands every day.

So what to do when you get to the point where you feel like you are ready to jump? Here are some suggestions from a fellow solo-preneur who’s been there a time or two ( and lived to talk about it):

#1 – Take a Mental Step Back

When the entire pile of papers and work on your desk feels like it may topple over and you can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, get up out of your chair – take a walk outside and feel the fresh air on your face for a few moments. Or unplug from all your electronics, emails and social media outlets for ten minutes to gather your thoughts. Oftentimes as business owners, we are so connected to all the things we must do and all the people we must keep in communication with that we lose sight of the real joy of having a company. Give yourself the freedom to take a mental step back and refresh your mind, which will give you a restored vigor and actually make you more productive.

#2 – Ask for Help

This has got to be the most difficult thing for an independent business owner to admit – that he or she needs help. First of all, the greatest leaders got where they did by asking for help whenever things got overwhelming. Everyone needs to seek the services and support of other professionals when the tasks seem insurmountable. Get in contact with your networks and find a good virtual assistant or an intern who wants to learn the ropes. Then delegate, delegate, delegate until it all gets done. You’ll have more time to go after new business and you’ll be less likely to stay up late at night trying to do it all alone.

#3 – Network with Fellow Entrepreneurs

A great way to learn how to cope with the balancing act of being an entrepreneur is to seek out the feedback, encouragement and advice of other similar professionals. There are tons of local small business networking groups as well as those found online in places like LinkedIn, Meetups and more. Find others who share your vision and get together over coffee for goal setting or brainstorming sessions. When you are around others, you will feed off their creativity and ideas, which helps you to be a better business owner. You’ll be turned on to new resources and support which will fuel your growth as a professional over time.

Whatever you do, if you are dealing with the “madness” of trying to juggle too much at once, allow your self the ability to play hookie from your business, for at least a few hours. Give your mind and your soul something to look forward to and you’ll be a more balanced person and a more effective business leader as a result.

Earning More Clients Through Relationship Building

25 Jan

Do you ever wonder how some entreprenuers manage to build successful companies in what seems like  – split seconds?

If you are like most small business owners, you often worry how and where you will find your next customer. Being in business for yourself means continually beating the bushes looking for new prospects and earning the trust of new clients. It can be a frustrating and very time consuming process, but it’s one that you must do on a constant basis if you want to stay afloat in an ever-competitive world.

The key to being successful and growing a business of any kind comes from taking the time to know who your customers are, what they are interested in and where to find them. This can be accomplished by getting inside your current customers’ heads and thinking like they think. As solo-prenuers it’s easy to get stuck in a “ME” mindset, but this will not serve your ultimate purpose of landing more clients. You must think like your customers and consider where their interests lie and how to build relationships with them so that you may earn their trust.

Here are some easy (but not overly time consuming) ways to use relationship building to increase your customer base:

Post something on your Social Media channels daily that is of interest to your clients. It can be an uplifting quote, a link to a recent article of interest, a project you’ve completed, or a general question aimed at getting your clientele to talk. The idea is to engage others through light conversation, not get into too much controversy or debate online.

Send a Thank You Letter out to current clients periodically. Take note of when you’ve worked with a client and send a card to thank them immediately following the completion of the project, a month later to follow up, and anytime the mood strikes. Let your clients know how much you value them and ask for feedback. You’d be surprised at how much this means to your clients.

Ask for Referrals, don’t assume you will get them. Take a moment to follow up with clients and ask them to give you a recommendation of a colleague that may find your services or product beneficial. Take the time to thank them and let them know you value their time and trust in you.

Read the Books, Blogs and Publications your clients read. If you want to get into the minds of those who you work with, you must be on the same page, literally! Take the time to find out what your clients like to read and then plan a few hours each month reviewing these publications for information that will be interesting to your clients in later conversations and blog posts.

By following these tips, you will soon start experiencing a productive relationship with your clients and they in turn will refer others to you. People who understand the importance of investing time and effort into a business appreciate relationships most of all. Those who don’t end up allowing their clients to drop off and soon find themselves without projects to work on.

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About the Author

Tess C. Taylor is a Web Copy Writer and Business Consultant from Charleston, South Carolina and owner of Taylor Resources Writing & Freelance Writing Class. She specializes in SEO content and marketing support for small business owners everywhere.