Starting Out as a Writer? Avoid These Essential 3 Traps that Could Destroy Your Career Before It Starts

As a debuting writer, you have many things to learn, in order to succeed in this highly competitive online content marketing world. You probably know this already, but one of the most important assets contributing your success will be your professional reputation. This is something it takes years to build and sadly, only seconds to destroy. For this very reason, you need to learn how to steer clear of several mistakes you can make during your career building process.

Providing writing services is one of the easy ways of generating an online income. But with so many competitors out there, it may take a while to start building confidence and to earn a decent income that you can actually live on. Just as it may take very little to destroy everything you have built with a single mistake. Does it sound ominous enough for you? Well, it can be, unless you take steps in making sure you don’t fall into the traps mentioned below.

Let these wake-up tips be your guide in building a meaningful and successful writing career.

Trap no.1: Sell Yourself Too Cheap

If you are in possession of writing skills that enable you to deliver content that delivers, you can consider your writer talent is already proven. You are able to provide value to any customer out there. Don’t sell yourself too cheap to them. If you do, you may never be able to get out of this vicious circle. The internet is full of places that will try to undermine your skills, experience and professional conduct. So many so-called content mills that will make you believe you can only create work worth $3 a piece. So many so-called copywriters will create their profiles out there trying to sell their work for even less. These will never be the writers you would want to compete with. They are no more than content spinners, because no one with enough professional values to hold on to would sell their hard work for such a ridiculous amount.

You may be telling yourself you are only in the beginning and that you can sell your work for this, as long as it sells. But if you don’t stand by your true value, you don’t nurture it and you don’t show pride for who you are as a professional, you will never have the right type of success and never be able to find clients who will appreciate you for the quality you provide, not for how low you can go with your bid.

Trap no. 2: Let Yourself Down When You Receive Criticism

You are not perfect. As a writer, no one actually is. If you don’t recognize this, you don’t have many chances of succeeding in this wolf eat wolf world. We all have to learn, and keep learning in order to stay relevant and successful.

As a freelancing writer, you will encounter a lot of different clients. Some will be nice and accepting of your work. Others will be pickier, paying attention to every little detail in the work you submitted. Some of these details may appear ridiculous, when you consider all the work you put in completing a particular project. These clients will not hesitate to criticize your work and in the process, will cast doubt on your potential.

Remember one thing: criticism is essential and without it, you cannot move forward. Accepting criticism and assuming the responsibility will make you a better freelancer. Arguing about how you are always right and letting professional pride stand in the way of a good communication with an unhappy customer will not take you anywhere.

Trap no. 3: Claim to Be an Expert

Sadly, this is common practice with many online writing professionals today. Even worse, this is also something many content agencies out there will do: claim they have expertise in any possible area, when they actually don’t (I have experienced this first-hand and believe me, this never ends well with the clients).

Pretending to be an expert in a certain field in order to increase the odds of getting hired for a project is a definite misstep, one that could hurt your career pretty badly. Sure, there is always research, but if all you intend to do is research online for the most obvious Google results, you should not be selling yourself as an expert.

The moment you name yourself an expert in a certain industry, your customer will expect a certain know-how, a certain degree of knowledge that cannot be found online all the time. They are willing to pay for your specific expertise in an area, not for your hours of research on a topic, and for putting together information that actually ends up plagiarizing other people’s work.

The result, no matter how talented and experienced at putting together bits and pieces you may be, will be a fake product. This may end up losing your client’s trust. And if you don’t have trust in such a relationship, you don’t have anything.

Take a moment. Sit back and look at your work so far. Have you allowed yourself to fall into these traps? Keep in mind that these may easily turn into habits and these habits can actually hurt your productivity and sabotage your writing career.

Freelancing as a Writer: What Are the Best Online Resources for Finding Work Online?

Are you going through a mid-year writing slump? Feel like there aren’t any blog posts that pay over $5 out there? We’re here to spread a little sunshine.

Trends have shifted in 2016. That means it’s time to look at different resources for writing opportunities, and even specific niches.

Before we get to the list we have two pieces of advice to get you through the rest of the year:

  • Try complex topics – stop writing about pets/books/travel/yourself and all the other topics everyone can write about. Try tackling difficult topics that fewer writers can handle.
  • Bigger is better – many writers desperate for work write for small businesses, local publications and the like. If you want to actually make money freelancing, you need to start pitching to bigger clients who come with bigger budgets.

The Top 2016 Resources for Finding Work Online

  1. White Papers

Find a business with a complex product or service and there are white papers to be written. It has been reported that 68 percent of Business to Business marketers use white papers. Rates for papers range from around $0.50 a word to $500 per page.

Tip: look for startups that can’t afford a pro and propose a paper that will help their brand gain visibility.

  1. Case Studies

Any company that sells something needs customer success stories that describe their product or service as the best on the market. Writers can earn as much as $1,000 for a paid case study.

Tip: small businesses and nonprofits often can’t afford to hire a writer but need the case studies. Volunteer to do one to get a sample into your portfolio.

  1. Blogging a la Longform

Blogs are getting longer, aren’t they? Content marketers have learned that Google does not favor short posts but rewards those sites who offer in-depth, insightful information. This offers a better opportunity for writers to make more money blogging. Pack your longer blogs with useful information, graphics and unique research and you could potentially earn $200 – $400 per piece.

  1. Web Content

If you can pen a sales page, or landing page, that brings in more revenue for the client, you’re going to earn well. Some writers charge in excess of $1,000 for a longer sales page.

If you’re not a fan of sales copy, there are still plenty of opportunities with static web content.

What Sites Should a Freelance Writer Be Looking at?

This is a pretty tough one to answer, as we all have our views on different freelance sites. Some of the top paying sites this year seem to be:

  1. Funds for Writers – pays around $50 for original pieces.
  2. Make a Living Writing – pays $75 per blog and $100 for longer posts on specific topics
  3. The Write Life – you will need to negotiate your rate, but the pay can be worth it
  4. WOW! Women on Writing – pars from $50 to $150 per post
  5. Writer’s Weekly – pays from $60 for features

Final Word

Don’t believe all the negativity out there. Freelance rates aren’t through the floor. There are still great paying gigs out there, you just need to know the types of writing that are in demand in 2016.

Are you a freelance writer? Which sites have you had success with?

Great Online Writers and How They Started

Content marketing has become the norm. It is a defining tool for lead generation, brand awareness, engagement and sales. It is the content that puts your brand ahead of others and it is the content that renders you a thought leader in your industry. Today’s great online writers are smart marketers who are going all out to utilize every tool they can to reach their audiences. They’re always coming up with new blogs, pictures, videos and so on.

Among everyone in the content marketing bubble, here are the people we think are the best online writers today.

Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the founder of several startups, including leading content marketing educational resource, Content Marketing Institute – one of the fastest growing business media companies. Not only does Joe Pulizzi write one of the most influential blogs on the planet, he is also a top LinkedIn Influencer and writers for Entrepreneur.com. Back in the early 2000’s, Joe coined the term “content marketing.” Today that is a philosophy that drives some of the most powerful marketing campaigns on the planet.

Jon Morrow

Jon Morrow left behind a career in real estate to become the Associate Editor of Copyblogger.com. He also created a guest blogging course. According to Jon, the key to success is discovering what is important to you and then fighting for your ideas. His personal circumstances are inspirational.

Steve Rayson

Steve Rayson is the director and owner of the popular tool, BuzzSumo. The tool was designed to help content marketers and online writers create stellar content by understanding what content resonates with their audiences and which influencers can amplify that content.

Robert Rose

Robert Rose is the Content Marketing Institute’s Chief Strategy Officer. He has published several books. Robert’s aim is to create experiences for people – be it business or artistically – in order to impact the person and get the chance to experience your role in a new creation, a philosophy his grandfather taught him.

Stephanie Tilton

Stephanie Tilton is one of the expert online writers when it comes to crafting white papers and case studies and persuasive copy that engages prospective customers. With almost 20 years’ experience in B2B marketing, her finely honed writing skills are something to behold. Her best-practice marketing articles have appeared on sites such as BNET, SalesVantage and American Marketing Association.

Want to Rank Among the Best Online Writers?

Ask any of these writers and they will tell you it is important to develop your own voice. Look around and decide which writers or bloggers really speak to your soul. Really analyze their techniques and writing styles and determine:

  • Why their headlines grab attention
  • How they draw readers in?
  • How their writing is structured?
  • How do they close their writing with calls-to-action?

Set to work crafting your own voice by studying your heroes and their technique. Don’t just copy these great writers, though, learn from them. Learn about them and let them inspire you to create your own style. You could be next on the list of great online writers.

A Content Writer is Like Fine Cheese!

Have you ever heard that quote by Billie Burke, “age is of no importance, unless you are a cheese?”

Cheese, just like wine, improves with time. And you know what? So does a content writer. I know this because I spend a great deal of time with content writing examples and being a freelance SEO content writer and I’ve seen my skills mature, just like a delicious piece of white cheddar.

Not only do I love being a web content writer, but I love cheese, too. So my tangent may escalate pretty quickly here. Stick with me!

Let’s take a look at why I think a content writer is like a fine piece of cheese.

Web Content Writers Can Be Like American Cheese

Who doesn’t love American cheese? It’s kind of predictable, always reliable and pretty easy going. A content writer can be like that. Stick with your favorite website content writers and you’ll know exactly what you’re in for when they publish their next piece of work: consistent, well researched, quality material.

SEO Content Writers and a Delightful Blue Cheese

Ah, my favorite! Blue cheese is versatile and mysterious. SEO content writers aren’t much different. They need to be versatile with the dynamics of the internet and Google’s ever-changing algorithms. But pair this kind of content writer with something a little creative, a little off beat and a little out of the box, and you’re in for a real treat. This is the kind of cheese, I mean writer, you want to experiment with. Give them the space to be creative, let them research your target audience and then give them the leeway to do what they do best. Their word, just like a delicious blue cheese, will melt in the mouth and leave a memorable after taste.

Cultured and Approachable – It’s the Mozzarella Writer

A content writer who is rather “mozzarella” is fantastically approachable. They’re ready and willing to help you with your content creation. They know how to do their research. They know how to create a voice for your brand. And they know how to use their words to turn leads into customers.

Website Content Writers and Swiss Cheese

I’m going to compare these writers to Laughing Cow cheese – not because they’re jesters. By no means. These writers, just like a delectable Swiss cheese, will sweep you off your feet in an instant with their remarkable professionalism, maturity and wordsmith charm. You may think of Swiss cheese as the underdog of the cheese world, but think again. Try an experienced freelance SEO content writer and you’ll quickly realize how unique they are.

A Cheeseboard of Awesomeness All Under One Umbrella

That’s a truly professional content writer for you. A versatile, talented and eager professional – just like an irresistible cheese board, and with just a possible hint of crackers!

If you’re looking for SEO content writers to develop tasty content for your business, get in touch with Iris Content today and have your pick of the top cheese!

A Writer’s Perspective: How I Learned to Create Blogs that Create Engagement

Do you struggle to create an engaging blog? It’s like the ideas are there, but you’re just not exciting readers. They’re not coming back for more.

I’ve been there.

It’s not a case of writer’s block. The words are coming. They’re just refusing to come together in a melodious dance that gets everyone on the dance floor.

There’s tons of free writers’ advice out there. There’s plenty of writing tips from great writers.

What I want to do is share some of the things I’ve learned along the way that have helped me to create engaging blogs.

How to Be a Better Writer

Tip 1: Short and Sweet is a Treat

Writing long paragraphs is boring. Readers will roam off to find easier stuff to read.

I’ve found that unless my blog article has even a tidbit of advice, readers don’t know why they bothered clicking on it.

Keep things short and sweet. Long paragraphs aren’t going to impress the masses.

Tip 2: Changing Voices

Do you find yourself switching between 1st, 2nd and 3rd perspective? It’s a common mistake. It can take a trained eye to spot switching from “I” to “one” to “we.”

What I do once I’ve finished writing a post is go back and read through each paragraph as a standalone section. It helps to ensure I’m not switching between voices. This is one of the best pieces of writer’s advice I was ever given.

Tip 3: Silly Spelling Errors

Nip mistakes in the bud. I do this during the writing phase. I’m really careful with spelling mistakes like “its and it’s” or “their and there.”

The odd slip won’t lose a lot of readers, but making typos and simple grammar errors is eventually going to annoy people. And you will lose credibility.

Tip 3: R U Using TXT Talk?

If you’re just starting out and want to learn how to start writing, stay away from text speak. It was created to save character space on mobile phones. It has its place in this world, just not on blogs.

Tip 4: Proofread Later 

As soon as I’ve finished a blog, I put it away for a little while. If I try to proofread it while it’s still fresh in my mind, I find myself skimming it instead of giving it the critical eye it deserves.

If you want to know how to be a better writer: proofread! But put your blog away for a couple of days and then bring it out again. Go over it line by line not only for grammar and typos, but for flow, too.

Some of the best writer’s advice I’ve been given is to consciously concentrate on one line at a time. It helps me pick up anything I didn’t catch earlier on and it’s a chance to improve the quality of the post.

If you want to become a better writer, it’s during this phase that you can also check for contradictions. Take a look at the content or message of your post. You may not have realized you contradicted yourself in paragraphs three and seven.

Tip 5: The Best Tip for Writers from Writers: Write About Your Passions

A good writer, or blogger, remembers to start with content first. So I need to have something to say before my writing can actually start.

I write about things I’m passionate about. I love writing – so I write about it. If your passion is apps, sport or finance, write about it.

Confucius said, “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

I think about this every time I sit down to pen a post.

Conclusion

This is just a tiny bit of writer’s advice to help you with how to start writing.

If you want to create engaging blogs that get people talking and that generate leads, talk to us about creating your stellar blog content.