Microsoft Word has been the staple word processing software for a generation of PC users. More professional than Wordpad or Notepad, the most important thing about Word was really just that it was always THERE.
Not so much these days, with Microsoft Office subscriptions replacing pre-installed, never-expire versions of the Office suite. Like many people, I let the software trial end of its own accord after I bought my new laptop and simply switched to the online version of Word, accessible through OneDrive. No probs.
Except that yes, there were some probs. But I didn't notice at first.
The setup is pretty great, actually. When you create a Word document (or Excel, or PowerPoint, etc.) online, the file becomes instantly accessible both online AND offline, through your OneDrive folder. That's cool. Like a Dropbox copy without the hassle. And of course there's the best feature of all: unpaid access.
So online Word grew on me. I've been using it for at least six months without much of an issue--but this week, I think every flaw in the system introduced itself to me at once.
Here's what you're going to face with the online version of Word:
In conclusion, I went ahead and paid the damn subscription fee. It's actually really affordable, and now I can create videos from my PowerPoint presentations.
Are you serious about your freelance writing career? I'm going to assume you said "yes." Good! Whether you are a beginner or a relatively successful writer, there are always a few more clever ways to bring in more clients without putting in a great deal of effort. These are my favourite pain-free ways to find new clients and valuable contacts:
Publish Your Own Writer's Website
Mostly, this is about getting your name out there, but it also gives you the chance to solidify your fees and services and prepare a general portfolio. Now, whenever you send queries or letters of introduction, you can easily link to your portfolio and bio without having to rewrite it every time. Easy!
Use an Email Signature
Not only do I regularly share my portfolio page via social media networks, but I also have included it in my email signature. This makes it easy for people to find info on me and my work, and gives them constant opportunities to consider my services and get in touch. Including a link to your website or portfolio with each sent email gives those messages a certain touch of professionalism that is missing otherwise.
Scope Out Twitter
Twitter is a huge hangout for writers, editors and publishers - and they enjoy a good virtual chin-wag or contest. If you aren't already hooked up on Twitter, check it out! Start here to follow us, and then have a look around. Follow your favourite publishers for insight on future queries, and chat with other writers via #amwriting, #amediting, #pubtip and #querytip.
Search Engine Optimization - or SEO - is the practise of creating online content that is easy for search engines like Google or Yahoo! to discover. Basic SEO guidelines are actually pretty simple to use, and they'll make a big difference in your page hits.
Won't they discover my site anyway, you ask? Well, yes. However, unless your site meets certain criteria, Google and other search engines won't bother to list it on the first few results pages even if someone is looking for exactly the topic you've published. Why not? It's about quality and usefulness to the viewer. Remember, Google is just a program - it needs you to explain what your content is about and give it clues about who might want to view it.
Of course, SEO isn't just about getting your own blog seen. In fact, top news publishers around the world have to use these guidelines to ensure their content is right at the top of the search results for readers to find. No matter what you post on the web, you'll need SEO to ensure it actually gets viewed.
So how do you do that? Here are the most important things to remember:
Research Your Key Words and Phrases
These are the words that people will type into a search box to find pages such as yours. For example, if you publish a vegan food blog, you would choose terms like "vegan recipes" "meatless" and "vegetarian" to help explain to Google and other search engines what your content is about. Discover even more key words by looking at Google Trends, or by typing one word at a time into the Google search bar and making note of what appears:
Use Those Key Words in Titles, Like This One
While it's absolutely, extremely important that you not keyword-stuff (pack your content with key words and phrases to fool Google) these do need to be used several times in your content. Most importantly, use them in titles and subtitles, as well as in the first few lines, a central paragraph, and within the last few lines of your article. Never jeopardize the quality of your writing, however. Use your chosen key words naturally, or readers will choose higher-quality content over yours. SEO basic guidelines in Google's own handbook insist that algorithms are programmed to choose quality over quantity every time. *Note: if you are publishing videos or photos, simply use your keywords as tags or in a one-line description.
Articles Should Be At Least 500 Words
The programmers in charge of Google and other online search engines know that people are rarely interested in reading one or two sentences about the topic they have searched for. 500 words of good content is an ideal volume that is more likely to have quality information than a shorter, paragraph-length passage. Want to write even more? Go ahead!
Add Meta Tags to All Published Content
Meta tags are the short title and description that accompany web pages, and show up in online searches:
See? How you add these depends on what type of publisher you are using, but it is always possible and always important. Don't forget to use your key words here as well.
Use Your Keywords in the URL
Look at the photo above. Do you notice how our search words are also highlighted within the URL of each listed website? You need to do the same for your content. Try to keep URLs short and to the point, as well. Extra words and dates can interfere with the main idea of the page, so keep it simple.
Use Basic SEO to Impress Google
Follow these five steps and you're on your way to a much wider readership, thanks to a long-term friendship with Google. If you want to know even more about pleasing the online search giant, check out the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide!
Well, no, not grocery and chore lists, but the kind of popular list-articles that really sell. Hopefully you've already sorted out the grocery list concept.
So about writing a good list. You've probably been bombarded by lists this year via social media, since the format is hugely popular. Anything from "15 Dinosaurs that were Vegetarians" to "6 Ways to Find Inner Peace" are flying around the webosphere (that's a thing, I swear.) The most successful of these lists have four things in common:
Here's an example!
If you want to create very shareable lists that clients want to publish, you'll need to follow these guidelines. Depending on the topic, you may even need to add pictures - but not just any pictures. Good-quality photos or designs that are not copyrighted. You can find these through many sites, including Pixabay and Creative Commons. Many are free to use!
The simple answer is, it might.
Of course as you already know, freelancing isn't a straightforward gig with easy answers!
LinkedIn is a social network for professionals in virtually any industry. The idea is to create a professional profile and connect with other people that may be able to help you advance your career and grow your business. A dropshipping professional, for example, may wish to connect with international marketing professionals and copywriters to help promote his product and make for sales.
Writers, therefore, can sign up to connect with business marketers that need copywriting and other sales writing. Authors can also connect with publishers and agents.
Will these connections be fruitful? It's impossible to say, but as with every part of the freelance writing business, extreme motivation and effort usually pays off.
If you haven't created a great LinkedIn profile yet, we do suggest that you go ahead and do so. Don't take the process lightly, however; put your best foot forward and think of the LinkedIn platform as a kind of online business card, resume and portfolio. Choose a friendly but professional photo and make sure to link to your best work or homepage.
Update at least once a week, and take some time to do some profile digging! Hopefully you'll find just what you need to give your freelance writing business a boost.