11 Tips to Get Top-Notch Work from a Freelance Writer

A Guide to Getting Optimal Results When Outsourcing Your Blog Content

Are you amping up your online marketing efforts as the pandemic continues to limit in-person interactions with existing and prospective customers?

If “yes,” you might be face-to-face with the challenge of writing high-quality blog content consistently. You’re not alone in your struggle to create content in-house. According to research by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 50 percent of B2B organizations and 55 percent of B2C organizations outsource some of their content marketing activities. Moreover, 84 percent of those B2B companies and 80 percent of the B2C companies outsource content creation.1,2

If outsourcing blog writing is uncharted territory for you, you may have some doubts and apprehension. After all, how can a freelancer know enough about your industry, brand, and your customers to do the job well? How do you even begin to get them up to speed? Won’t a freelancer be less vested in your success than an in-house writer? What should you expect, and what are your responsibilities?

All are valid concerns. In this post, I’ll share some tips to help you develop a successful working relationship with your blog writer. 

11 Best Practices When Outsourcing Content to a Freelance Writer

1. Share information about your business, your products and services, your customers, and your competitors.

Your writer will need a solid understanding of your strengths and what differentiates you from your competition. Discuss your unique value proposition and share any marketing materials, website links, and other documentation to give her an accurate picture of what your company does and stands for. The more acquainted your writer becomes with your brand, the better able she will be to write content that addresses what’s most important to your readers, strikes the right tone, and aligns with your goals.

I’ve always found that a bit too much information is better than not enough. However, carefully choose what you share with your writer. Make sure the resources are relevant and, if you provide any lengthy documents or videos, direct her to the specific sections where she’ll find valuable insight. If your writer has to watch hour-long webinars or read through volumes of material to ferret out what’s important, it may cost you more. 

2. Discuss what you wish to accomplish.

Do you have specific SEO goals that have prompted you to bring a writer on board? Or are you predominantly looking to strengthen your bond with existing customers? Whether you’re looking to attract more website visitors or deepen your existing followers’ knowledge will affect how your writer approaches your blog content. 

Your goals will also help determine whether the writer is the right person to assist you. Some freelancers are adept at appealing to readers but not well-versed in the nuances that make content more SEO-friendly. Others may have proficiency in structuring posts with elements that Google smiles upon, but they lack the knack for writing conversationally to bond with readers. And some writers have mastered both aspects of crafting blog content that will perform well with the target audience and search engines.

3. Agree on the scope of work and pricing.

This ties in with the above point, and it’s a step you’ll want to tackle before you start working with a writer.  Things to consider:

  • Will you or an SEO specialist provide topics and keyword direction to your writer? Or will your writer be responsible for brainstorming topics and proposing keyword focus?
  • What word count range do you prefer for your blog articles?
  • Will you provide key points and details that you want articles to include? Or will you expect your writer to figure out all of that via online research or interviews, etc.?
  • How many people within your organization will have to review and approve the content?
  • How do you want the writer to submit the content to you? (e.g., in Word documents via email, in a shared folder in Google Drive, or some other way?)
  • Do you want the writer to write your posts’ meta descriptions?

All of the above will affect how much time and work a writer must put into your assignments. Naturally, they will influence the writer’s rates to you and billing methodology (e.g., by the hour, per post), too. 

4. Describe your style and wording preferences.

Think about specific style preferences you want to be carried out consistently on your blog.

For example:

  • Use of the Oxford (serial) comma
  • Title and header capitalization
  • Industry acronyms and abbreviations 
  • Formatting of lists, quotes, sentence spacing, etc.
  • Compound words that might be written separately, hyphenated, or as a single word (e.g.,  health care, health-care, and healthcare)
  • Taboo words or phrases you want to avoid

5. Provide input.

Expect to be a part of the process. Your writer will be better able to produce content that showcases your authority in your field if you and other subject matter experts at your company share your expertise.

I find it extremely helpful when clients weigh in about topics—it facilitates the creation of content that genuinely reflects their value to their audience.   

6. Set reasonable deadlines.

Ideally, you and your writer will have a blog content calendar that confirms when topics will be assigned, when draft content is due, and when the final approved content will be ready to go live. If you don’t have a set schedule, make sure you give your writer ample lead time to reserve time for your assignments. Freelancers juggle work from multiple clients and must fulfill their commitments to all of them. They may not have the bandwidth in their project schedule to act on last-minute requests.  

 7. Have realistic expectations.

Writers are not miracle workers. If you’ve ignored your blog but now wish it to attract website visitors or generate a stronger following on social media, it will require time. And if you have SEO goals for your blog, many other factors besides your content will affect your results. Realize that even the most stellar blog articles cannot overcome challenges brought on by neglect, technical SEO issues, or a damaged brand reputation.   

8. Review drafts thoroughly.

While a capable writer may produce drafts that are spot on the first time, expect to ask her for some minor revisions—especially if the topic is complicated or highly specialized. Writing is a process. Give drafts your full attention when reviewing them, and let your writer know if you require any changes or additions. 

9. Provide feedback promptly.

Answer questions from your writer and provide feedback on drafts as soon as possible. Review and comment promptly (my idea of “ideal” is within one business day) to enable your writer to make necessary adjustments while the content is fresh in her mind. Swift feedback is especially critical when topics are time-sensitive. If you wait too long to give your writer your approval or change requests, the content may “expire” and no longer be relevant to your audience. 

10. Proofread before publishing.

Despite your writer’s very best efforts and your thorough review, some little “oopses” might slip by you. Whether a “to” where there should be a “too,” a missing comma, or a misspelling, errors happen occasionally. Realize that doesn’t mean you or your writer are lazy or careless. There’s a scientific reason why those little mistakes go undetected. Before publishing content, read it aloud and consider asking someone else to review it as extra quality assurance measures.

11. Be honest if it’s not the right fit.

If you’ve done all of the above, chances are you’ll have a mutually rewarding working relationship. However, sometimes things don’t pan out. If your writer is unable to grasp the subject matter or capture your brand’s tone of voice, or if they miss deadlines, make the same mistakes repeatedly, or otherwise are not delivering content that meets your expectations, let them know (respectfully). No writer is right for EVERY business, so avoid the two-sided torment of trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. If a writer is struggling and failing to meet your needs, it’s probably best for both of you to accept that and move on.

Ready to Hire a Freelance Blog Writer?

You have many resources available to help you find talented and reliable blog writers. Whether you search on Google, explore LinkedIn profiles, pursue options on freelancing platforms like Upwork, or ask your network for recommendations, keep your desired qualifications and goals in mind. If you fully understand your needs before looking for a writer, you will stand a better chance of engaging the right one from the start.

References:

1Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs. “B2B Content Marketing 2020 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends–North America.” contentmarketinginstitute.com, https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/2020_B2B_Research_Final.pdf. Accessed 8 February 2021.

2Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs. “B2C Content Marketing 2020 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends.” contentmarketinginstitute.com, https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/2020_B2C_Research_Final.pdf. Accessed 8 February 2021.

Get Over It: Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About Using A Ghostwriter

It’s an ethical dilemma for some clients. Is it right to claim authorship for a piece of writing that you’ve hired someone else toGet Over It - Text write?

 

As a freelancer who ghostwrites blog posts and articles for clients, I find that’s prospects’ biggest hesitation about using a ghostwriter. They feel guilty about posting something as their own if they haven’t personally written it.

 

Does that sound like you?

 

Get over it.

 

There’s no shame in hiring a professional who can do the job better than you can. Many people simply don’t have the time or writing skills to craft a compelling, well-written blog post or article. And rushing to get to the finish line or forcing a skill that doesn’t come naturally can cost you in several ways.

 

  • Whether you’re submitting an article to a high-profile industry publication or posting on your own blog, creating a piece of writing that’s sub-standard can cause embarrassment and hurt your professional reputation. At best, prospects and customers will think you had a bad day. At worst, they’ll think you’re careless and incompetent.

 

  • Without the natural ability and skills, you might find yourself spending a half-day or more on a 500-word post. So much for productivity and effective use of your time! Yes, hiring a ghostwriter will cost you some money, but what’s your time worth?

 

  • You might miss out on valuable readership if your writing doesn’t have an attention-grabbing headline or doesn’t incorporate the information and keywords to help it become found by search engines.

 

Still not feeling comfortable about the idea of hiring a ghostwriter?

 

If completely turning over your writing to someone behind the scenes unnerves you, know that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can still have a hand in the process when you hire a ghostwriter by doing one or more of the following:

 

  • Take an active role in brainstorming topics.
  • Contribute your expertise and experience by giving your ghostwriter specific key details you want to communicate.
  • Craft a very rough draft and let your ghostwriter flesh it out and refine it.

 

No matter what your involvement, make sure your ghostwriter understands your “voice.” The tone, wording, and style should sound like you, not the ghostwriter. Always review and read aloud what your ghostwriter has written and ask for a revision if the piece seems out of character. Even though you haven’t written it, the writing needs to genuinely reflect you.

 

So, don’t feel guilty about hiring a ghostwriter. It’s a wonderful way to eliminate the stress, preserve your valuable time, and ensure you’re presenting your very best professional image online.

 

Your turn! What has stopped you from using a ghostwriter for your blog or other writing? If you use a ghostwriter, what benefits have you gleaned from it?

 

 

 





What To Do When You’re Not In The “Write” Mind

It’s not easy to admit, but I confess that I’ve been in a bit of a mental and motivational slump where my blog is concerned. Oh, Pen with question marks implying writer's blockI’ve been writing plenty. Just not here.

 

In the past month, my work for clients included…

 

  • 16 blog posts
  • Copy for an email campaign
  • Content for a print newsletter
  • Project managing and editing a magazine for a local medical society
  • Brainstorming and writing abstracts for 10 posts of a “disruptive” nature
  • Content for two websites
  • Two press releases
  • Two industry editorials
  • A corporate retirement announcement
  • Two case studies
  • And a few other odds and ends to boot.

 

I haven’t been sitting around twiddling my thumbs or spending hours meandering around town playing Pokémon Go. Still, I’ve beat myself up about not following through with tending to my responsibilities here.

 

This post isn’t intended to show you how busy I’ve been, but rather to demonstrate that sometimes something’s gotta give. Occasionally, you might find you’re not in the “write” mind or you have put forth so much effort elsewhere that you have nothing left to give to your blog. Feeling guilty or less of a professional because of it won’t change the situation.

 

The moral of the story: Not having the drive and determination to write for your blog doesn’t make you a slacker.

 

Fortunately, my business hasn’t seemed to suffer as a result of my silence in this space, but if you count on your company blog to draw in traffic and produce leads the same might not be true for you.

 

So, what can you do if you’re overwhelmed with your other business obligations and undermotivated to write for your blog?

 

A few ideas:

 

  • Schedule dedicated time for the task. Just knowing you’ve planned for it and aren’t cutting into the time you should be doing something else might help you put your mind to it.

 

  • Pick a topic you’re pumped up about. When you’re enthused about the subject matter, it’s far more enjoyable to write about it.

 

  • Break up the work. Instead of sitting down for hours to write a post, do it in three shorter sessions: One for research and jotting down rough ideas; a second for organizing those ideas and writing a draft; and a third for editing and fine tuning.

 

  • Hire someone to write for you. If you know you absolutely won’t get to it or if you just plain aren’t “feeling it,” don’t force it. Your time will be better spent on other work that’s critical to your business success and you’ll have the posts you need to keep your marketing efforts on track.

 

The next time you find yourself in the midst of a blog writing slump, find some comfort knowing you’re not alone. It happens to all of us—and you have ways around it.

 

Your turn: What frustrates you most about writing slumps? How do you overcome them?

 





One Blogging Shortcut To Slash The Time You Spend Writing

Don Purdum of Unveil The Web recently wrote a blog post about how to write a blog post in 15 minutes or less using the Alarm ClockDragon Dictation app for IOS.

 

Naturally, it caught my attention. I’m always game for saving time if quality isn’t compromised in the process.

 

Although I personally doubted my ability to write a substantive, polished blog post in 15 minutes using any trick of the trade, I wanted to find out if dictating a post would make me more efficient.

 

I almost looked into buying Dragon Dictation on Android, but then realized I could convert voice to text using the Gmail app on my phone.

 

Yep. Gmail. The capability of dictating an email has been there for a long time, but I’ve very rarely used it. I never really found the need or desire to—until now.

 

So, I thought I’d give it a try.

 

  1. I dictated a very rough 572-word draft of this post in 8 minutes while sitting in my Jeep waiting for my daughter after her play rehearsal at school.
  2. I then copied the text from Gmail into Word.
  3. And then I edited the draft to create what you’re reading here.

 

How Did Dictating a Blog Post In Gmail Go?

All in all, it appears Gmail’s speech-to-text feature functions much like how Don described Dragon Dictation does.

It spells most words correctly—with a few exceptions here and there. And with the proper voice prompts, it adds punctuation. When instructed, it adds commas, periods, question marks, exclamation points, and colons. I found I needed to use the singular form (e.g., “comma” vs. “commas”) for the app to recognize and insert the marks; otherwise it would spell out the word. I could also start new paragraphs by saying, “new paragraph.” Semicolons and parentheses evaded me, so I’ll have to do some research to see if there’s a way to “talk” them into the text.

 

A Couple Of Gmail Speech-To-Text Quirks

  • If I paused too long between words or sentences, I’d need to tap the microphone in the app to continue recording.
  • I haven’t figured out how to command it to backspace if I want to remove what I said or correct a spelling error. But you can use the manually backspace icon next to the microphone to accomplish that.

 

A Happy Ending: Newfound Blogging Efficiency

This 522-word post required a total of 54 minutes to compose and edit. I estimate it would have taken me approximately an hour and a half without using the Gmail voice-to-text feature for the initial draft.

 

I think after getting more accustomed to dictation, the overall process will go even more efficiently. If my spoken thoughts had been more organized in this experiment, it would have taken me less editing time.

 

I’m definitely going to use this method for future blog posts. It provided a nice break from pounding out every keystroke, and it saved time.

 

Have you used a dictation app or other voice-to-text feature to begin drafts of your blog posts? I’d love to hear what has work for you and share it with my readers.





Why Writing Is So Intimidating—And How To Make It Less Agonizing

I know business professionals who would sooner have a tooth pulled without anesthetic than write a blog post.Notebook showing fear of writing

Writing intimidates them. It intimidates a lot of people.

Why do many people break out in a cold sweat when asked to write something?

They get caught up in the perceived complexity of writing. In some cases the subject matter might be complex, but writing is a rather straightforward process.

Think of writing as what it is: communicating. Writing is simply putting words together to make a point or inform. Your ultimate goal is to be understood, so take the shortest, clearest path to getting there.

How can you simplify writing to make it less overwhelming for you and easier to grasp for your readers?

Don’t…

  • Try to include everything under the sun about a specific topic.
  • Use run-on sentences.
  • Use long words for the sake of looking smart or reaching a certain word count.
  • Rely completely on a spelling and grammar checking software to catch errors.

Do…

  • Make an outline to identify your main topic and key points before you start writing.
  • Reread what you wrote to make sure everything you’ve communicated is relevant to what you want readers to understand or serves to further a key point.
  • Remove anything that is off-topic or repetitive.
  • Proofread—or better yet, ask someone else to proofread—what you’ve written, so it’s free from embarrassing errors.

Most importantly, realize writing gets easier with practice. As with any skill where there’s room for improvement, you will get better with more effort and experience.

Also, realize you don’t have to do it alone. If you feel uncertain about the clarity and quality of your writing, ask for feedback from someone you trust, or hire a professional writer or editor to help you find your voice and communicate more clearly.

Writing may never be second nature to you, but it doesn’t have to be frightening.

What other writing tips would you give to folks who struggle putting their insight into words? I’d love to hear them, so please share them in a comment here!

 

More posts you might like:

How Much Should You Pay For Content Writing?

Four Ways To Instantly Boost Your Self-Confidence





Common Sense Tips For Using Humor In Your Blog Posts

We all love to laugh. But our individual tastes in humor vary—often considerably.Man laughing hard

Think about it. You’ve probably encountered moments when…

  • you laughed hysterically at a punch line on a sitcom, while your significant other managed a quiet and solitary, “Ha.”
  • you and a friend compared notes on the latest big screen comedy, and your reviews weren’t exactly in sync.
  • you cracked a one-liner that had you doubled over and in tears while those around you remained unamused.

As awkward as a mismatched sense of humor can be on a personal level, it can create reader perception problems for your business if you’re not careful when attempting to infuse laughs into your blog content.

How Can You Keep Your Attempts At Humor In Your Blog From Falling Flat?

My latest guest post on the TDS Biz Blog shares why humor is a slippery slope and how you can maintain your footing when incorporating it into your posts.


By Dawn Mentzer (a.k.a. The Insatiable Solopreneur™)

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net





Quick and Easy HTML for When Your WordPress Blog Post’s Formatting Gets Fubared

If you craft your blog posts in the Visual Editor in WordPress, I’m guessing you’ve occasionally encountered momentsWordpress Visual Editor and Text Editor Modes when, no matter what you try and retry, you can’t get the formatting to stick.

Frustrating! And it can consume far more time than you anticipated spending on your post.

Luckily, there are some quick HTML tag fixes anyone – including YOU – can add to format posts if WordPress’s Visual Editor isn’t playing nice.

Just switch from Visual Editor to the Text Editor mode and follow these simple instructions:

HTML to Add Subheadings

Occasionally, the Visual Editor mode will get temperamental when formatting headings. If you want text to be formatted as h2 or h3 etc. and get weary from haggling with the Visual mode, here’s how to remedy the problem:

 Using h2 as an example…

Go into the Text Editor and add <h2> before the text you want to be formatted as an h2 and then add </h2>* at the end of the text you want formatted that way.

Here’s how the above h2 content looks in the Text Editor of my post: <h2>HTML to Add Subheadings</h2>

For h3 and h4, do the same, but replace with <h3> </h3> or< h4> </h4> for those levels of subheadings.

*Always place a backslash ( / ) before the h in your second set of chevrons (< >). If you don’t,  the text after your subheadings will also be formatted as a subheading.

HTML to Create a New Paragraph

Here’s how to separate paragraphs in Text mode  if the Visual side of WordPress is putting up a fight:

Type <p> directly in front of the first word in your new paragraph and then </p> at the very end of your paragraph.

<p>Your paragraph will look like this in the Text Editor. Not too tough, right? After the punctuation at the end of your paragraph is where you will close it.</p>

HTML to Add Space Between Paragraphs

Thank goodness for this one…I lost count of how many times I hit return in Visual mode to add an additional space between paragraphs, saved my draft, and then previewed my post only to find the space disappeared.

By entering the below code directly after or underneath the paragraph where you want the extra space, you’ll essentially be adding a blank paragraph to create the white space you’re trying to add.

<p> &nbsp; </p>

HTML to Add a Line Break

If you’re trying to separate a piece of text by moving it to the line below it (without making a new paragraph), simply add:

<br> after the last word that you want to remain on the original line.

I’ve done it here,
HTML tag
so you can see how it works.
Notice I have the <br> tag after the words “here,” and “works.”

 HTML to Add Font Features

You can add some quick code to format your font, too.

<b>bolds text</b>
<i>italicizes text</i>
<u>underlines text</u>

Tip: If the mere thought of going into HTML land makes you break out in hives or into a cold sweat; fear not. You can stay in the Visual Editor and accomplish font formatting without having to enter HTML coding.

Just highlight the text you want to format and use the applicable keyboard shortcuts:

Ctrl + b (to make text bold)
Ctrl + i (to italicize text)
Ctrl + u (to underline text)

 Some final advice…

You might notice after you add code into the Text Editor, if you leave it to view your post in the Visual Editor and then go back into Text, things might looks different than they did before. For example, where I entered <br> for those line breaks we talked about earlier, the Text Editor no longer shows “<br>, but instead displays the text with the line breaks as you see them live now. I really don’t know why that’s the case, but as long as the formatting is as I want it to be, it’s all good.

Got any additional quick and easy HTML tips to share? I’d love to read about them!

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

 

 





The Often Unsung Benefit of Blogging

Blogging. You’ll find no shortage of articles telling you how important it is to your business. It directs traffic to yourThumbs up website, improves your placement in search results, establishes you as an authority in your field…need I go on?

But there’s something else blogging can do for you. And it’s something I believe we don’t talk about nearly enough…

Blogging helps us better understand – and project offline – who we are and the value we bring to our clients.

Here are some of the reasons why that’s so…

  • Blogging helps you find and develop your professional voice.
  • As you blog, you have an opportunity to think about the individual components of your business and how they impact you and your customers.
  • Blogging gives you a reason to dissect your systems and processes. Preparing to explain what you do to an audience helps you find holes and gaps that you might not otherwise find.
  • Blogging reinforces what you know and instills confidence in your capabilities.
  • Blogging often requires some degree of research – you expand your knowledge in the process.
  • Regularly writing about what you know and do and what’s important within your industry can help you feel more comfortable and confident when talking with prospects.

If you’ve felt like you’re simply going through the motions of blogging because you believe you have to for the purpose of marketing, look at it as a professional development opportunity instead. Blogging can do more for you than put you on the online radar screen; it can make you a smarter, stronger, more confident small business owner.

Important to note: Even if you hire a freelancer to write your blog posts, your involvement in identifying topics and specific talking points can give you these benefits!

YOUR TURN! How have your blogging efforts transcended marketing and helped you develop professionally?

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

 

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net





Duplicate Content: Could Allowing Another Site to Copy Your Content Strip Your Website of Its Stripes?

When another blogger asks permission to share your content, it’s flattering. What a satisfying feeling to know others 2 zebra imagebelieve your insight is worth sharing with their audience. Most often, people will simply share your post’s link via their social channels or give your post mention in one of their posts. But occasionally, you may discover that someone who has asked permission to share your post has duplicated your post’s content entirely – the only difference between their content and yours being a note of attribution with a link to your original post.

Duplicate Content – Could an earnest, honest effort to raise awareness of your content get your website slapped by Google?

It happened to me just about a month ago. A very nice, professional, courteous connection asked if he could share my post via his channels provided he gave attribution. I was of course thrilled to give my approval. But when I discovered my post, including the title, was directly duplicated (aside from the attribution) on his blog, I felt my heart leap into my throat for a moment as visions of being penalized in search or ranking by Google played on my mind. Assuming the duplicate content could negatively affect both my site and his, I reached out to him and asked if he could alter his title, write an introductory blurb with an excerpt from my post, and then link to my blog rather than copying and pasting the entire article. He cooperated immediately; he hadn’t realized copying the content could potentially create problems for our sites.

We dodged that bullet, right? That’s what I thought, but then I noticed duplicate content shown by some other sites and began wondering if there was any bullet to dodge at all. For example, I ran across this blog that essentially copied and pasted this other blog’s post verbatim – title and all! And neither the syndicator nor the syndicated are novices or newbies!

What Google says about duplicate content.

According to its guidelines in the Webmaster’s Tools Help section of Google’s Support site, Google doesn’t automatically penalize sites for duplicate content; only if it perceives the duplication has been shown with intent to manipulate rankings and deceive Google search users.  The penalty if Google deems duplicate content was done in an attempt to game the system: “As a result, the ranking of the site may suffer, or the site might be removed entirely from the Google index, in which case it will no longer appear in search results.”

So, it sounds like we might have been in the clear after all. Surely, Google would be able to tell we weren’t trying to pull a fast one on them, right?

Maybe so, but after talking with a local online marketing and SEO expert, I feel like I made the right decision.

Real world observations about how duplicate content is treated by Google.

Owner of 1 Sky Media, John Oppenheimer, shares his insight and experience regarding the duplicate content issue…

Duplicate content has always been a concern for webmasters. Google has always suggested that duplicated content would not rank well. Their stance had been that the original copy would be indexed and potentially rank well, while subsequent copies would be ignored. In real world practice, however, this has not always been the case. We’ve had original test sites that have garnered the wrath of a Google penalty while later launched copies have lived on without issue. We’ve also had virtually duplicated sites that lived harmoniously.

In the winter of 2011, with the emergence of Google’s Panda algorithm update, the search world changed. Google’s policy regarding duplicate content grew some teeth. We witnessed duplicated sites/pages drop instantly from near the top of Google’s ranking to the basement floor. The handwriting had been on the wall for this for years, so it was really no surprise when the change came. Today, we suggest that if your website writings are to be copied that you request a delay in the copy such that your copy can be indexed first and hopefully gain recognition as the original source. We also suggest that an excerpt is better than a pure copy and that in either case a credit and link must be given on the copied text directly to the source page of the original.

Duplicate content: You decide.

With all that John shared, I’m confident the smart thing to do was play it safe, but you need to decide for yourself when someone asks to share your content. Have a policy in place about how you’ll want your content shared from someone else’s blog and follow up after it’s posted there to make sure your wishes have been carried through.

All in all, keeping in the clear just takes a minute or two of your time and some clear communication. And keep in mind that although we fuss and fret over the changes Google has made, ultimately they have vastly improved the user’s search experience.

In the words of John at 1 Sky Media:

Seems somewhat odd when you think about it, Google is nothing more than copies of all websites indexed, yet we must be concerned about copying! The enforcement of duplicate copy rules has in fact improved the search experience because we no longer need to go through page after page of virtually identical copy, supplied from different websites, whenever searching competitive topics.

 

Your turn: Have you let others copy and paste your content onto their blogs? Have you experienced any repercussions by Google as a result?

 

By Dawn Mentzer

 

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Image courtesy of anankkml / FreeDigitalPhotos.net





Deck the Halls – and Your Small Biz: Add Sparkle With These 3 Professional Touches

As the holidays approach, we put an exorbitant amount of time and effort into making the season bright for all around us. It’s as it should be….but don’t forget to look ahead and think about how you can make things a little brighter for your small business in the New Year.

NOW is the time to focus on the things you can do to propel your business forward in 2014. Whether your past year was one that didn’t quite make its mark or one in which you exceeded expectations, you can always find ways to improve and add some professional polish.

Some ideas for brightening your small business in 2014

Refresh your website.

How long have you had your existing website? It might be time for a re-do. Does your site look dated? Does the navigation not serve visitors as well as it should? Is it difficult for you to change content? If you answered “Yes” to any of those questions, you might consider an update. Tip: Unless you’re a web designer/developer, don’t attempt on your own. If you think your audience can’t tell the difference between a self-created Weebly site and one that’s professionally done, think again. This is your brand we’re talking about. Your website will be the one place all your other online spaces, marketing material,s and messaging point to, so it pays to have one that’s well done and shows you mean business.

Pose for some professional photos.

As easy it is to spot  an amateur website, it’s also easy to spot a “selfie” profile pic. I’ve found professional pics to be one of the best investments I’ve made for my business. They put that finishing touch on your website and the social networks you use professionally. And if you’re invited to speak at an event or guest blog, you won’t look like an amateur when they ask you for a high-res head shot. Not all photographers will cost you an arm and leg.  Ask around and do some research to find one who will bring out your best without costing you a bundle.

Start your blog – FINALLY!

I’m secretly laughing to myself because I know at least four people personally who at this moment are saying, “Does she mean me?” Hmmm….maybe I do. I’ll never tell! But what I will say is if you have any doubt about how important blogging is for your business, read this article by Stephanie Frasco. Twice.

No complaining or whining about not having anything of interest to write about! You have a business. Your business has customers. Your customers find some value in what you offer them, so expand on that through your blog. What breaking news in your industry will help them live healthier lives or do business better? Have you launched a new service or expanded an existing service to enable them to save time by outsourcing an annoying task? What tips can you give them to extend the life of your products? What questions do customers most frequently ask about your services? Creating and sharing your own content via a blog is a powerful way to build authority, gain trust, and turn leads into sales.

 

Go ahead; deck the halls, but don’t stop there.

As you’re hanging mistletoe and stringing lights this month, remember to think ahead about how you can make your business sparkle and shine next year. What steps big or small would sprinkle some professional pixie dust over your small business?

 

By Dawn Mentzer