Month: March 2019

Is It Possible to Make a Full-Time Income Freelance Writing?

Freelance writing sounds like a dream job. If you have a keyboard and a computer, and maybe an internet connection, you can sit down pretty much anywhere and start making money. But is it really feasible to make a full-time income by writing articles online? Or is it just a pipe dream?

Let’s take a look at the possibilities.

What It Takes to Be Successful

First, you should know that pursuing a freelance writing career is demanding. While it may seem easy to an outsider, writing a solid piece requires copious amounts of research and the ability to structure paragraphs and sentences in a way that your audience can understand. You’ll also be responsible for finding new clients and opportunities, meeting strict deadlines, and occasionally working long hours.

At a minimum, you’ll need:

An entrepreneurial mindset. Freelance writing is a business, first and foremost. While you’ll have some degree of control over which assignments you take on and how you find new work, your income will also depend on your work ethic and adaptability. If you’re not a driven person, or if you’re overly picky about your clients, you’ll be unlikely to find success. You need an entrepreneurial mindset in addition to your core writing skills.

Experience. You’ll also need to have experience, and a way to prove that experience. No company is going to hire a writer based on their own assertion that they’re a competent writer. Ideally, you’ll have some past credentials, like previously published works or relevant education.

Attention to detail. One or two submissions with errors or sloppy work could be enough to damage your reputation. You’ll need to think critically about every assignment you complete, and proofread multiple times over to make sure you’ve gotten everything correct.

A field of specialty. Finally, you’ll need some way to differentiate your brand. Usually, that means having some area of specialty. For example, are you especially skilled at writing articles for search engine optimization (SEO)? Or do you specialize in writing short articles for a specific industry?

Two Distinct Approaches

There are two possible approaches to being a freelance writer. The first is more straightforward: you’ll recruit clients who need articles written (often for their onsite blog or offsite reputation building campaign), then charge a fixed rate per article or a blanket rate for ongoing services. For this, you’ll need to build a brand that naturally attracts more clients (or a strong sales strategy), as well as an invoicing strategy that allows you to collect revenue regularly. This method is approachable because it allows you to do a wide variety of work; if you lose a client, you can always get a new one. However, you’ll often be at the mercy of an external authority’s stipulations and deadlines.

You could also take writing into your own hands by creating and running an ongoing blog. Over time, if you build up enough popularity, you’ll be able to attract advertising on your blog, or use affiliate links to generate revenue. The problem here is it takes a ton of visitors to attract enough advertisers to generate a sustainable income; to do that, you’ll need to start with a truly unique idea and spend many hours fleshing it out to become something popular.

Variety in Income Levels

While there are plenty of freelance writing opportunities available to aspiring writers, those opportunities aren’t all equal. If you’re just getting started and you don’t have much experience under your belt, you might find it hard to get new assignments, or you might be forced to take a lower rate for your work. On the other end of the spectrum, highly experienced writers can make a very comfortable living—but getting to that point takes many years and a level of commitment that most people aren’t willing to invest.


As with any freelance opportunity, you’ll also need to think about consistency. Chances are, demand for your writing isn’t going to remain steady indefinitely; instead, you’ll see bursts of demand that force you to work long hours and dry spells where income is sparse. You’ll need to have proactive budgeting measures and a solid emergency fund if you’re going to survive on the income you get—or a side gig that helps you supplement your income during the down periods.

So is it possible to make a full-time income from freelance writing? The short answer is yes, but it’s not as straightforward as it seems, nor is the job as glamorous as it seems. If you’re prepared for the realities of the job and you have a way to build experience and an area of specialty, you should be able to work your way toward a viable full-time career.

Original post: Is It Possible to Make a Full-Time Income Freelance Writing?

PHP script to remove links from WordPress comments

Today I was doing some cleanup on the blog and I discovered that many of the older comments had what could be considered spam links inside the body of the comment itself.

Instead of manually going through each one, which would take a lot of time, I decided to create a small PHP script to do this task automatically for me. Below you will find the script and an explanation of what it does.


$db = mysqli_connect('localhost','database_user','password','database_name')
or die('Error connecting to MySQL server.');

$query = "SELECT comment_ID,comment_content FROM wp_comments";

$result = mysqli_query($db,$query)
or die('Error querying database.');

while($row = mysqli_fetch_array($result)){
$id = $row[0];
$content =strip_tags($row[1]);

$regex = "@(https?://([-w.]+[-w])+(:d+)?(/([w/_.#-]*(?S+)?[^.s])?).*$)@";
$content = preg_replace($regex, ' ', $content);

//echo $content. "<br>";

$stmt = mysqli_prepare($db,"UPDATE wp_comments SET comment_content=? WHERE comment_ID = ?");
mysqli_stmt_bind_param($stmt,"si",$content, $id);


How to use the script above:

0. Important: backup your database before doing anything.

1. Copy and paste the script into a text file and save it with the PHP extension, for example you can call with comments.php
2. Update the database connection with your user and database credentials
3. Upload the file to your website
4. Run the file by accessing it using your browser

That’s it. The script will run through all your comments removing all links (but preserving the text of the links).

Original post: PHP script to remove links from WordPress comments

On Offer: What Your Blog Should “Give Away”

Blogging is an important tool for marketers trying to close a sale, but sometimes you have to give something away to get a bigger reward. In fact, from a sales perspective, you’re not really giving anything away. Instead, you’re hinting at the benefits clients can obtain from working with you more directly.

Give your blog a boost and lure clients by trying some of these basic giveaways. Most bloggers and businesses have an assortment of low stakes tools and tips on hand – put them to work for you.

A Profitable Post

At the simplest level, your blog is a kind of giveaway. You’re giving away valuable knowledge and insights to your readers in the form of your content. Particularly if you’re creating checklists, and cheat sheets, link roundups, and how-to guides, you’re providing material tools to your readers. That’s why people monetize their blogs in the first place – to recoup the value of that work.

Certain fields benefit more than others from information-heavy posts and, in fact, specialties like law and medicine rely on this kind of content. On legal blogs, for example, lawyers typically provide legal information rather than advice, for which they could be held responsible. However, the goal of these posts is ultimately to encourage those who need more detailed assistance to purchase services.

Dominate With Downloads

Another popular online freebie employed by bloggers is the downloadable. Whether you’re a mommy blog featuring downloadable crafts or a food blogger offering recipes to your readers, these are often the most popular elements of a site. But by limiting the number of available freebies, while offering especially high-value ones, you increase the likelihood that readers will purchase your paid files. WordPress and other blogging tools even offer special plugins for downloadable resources to make this easier.

Discounts Drive Sales

As with blog posts, many people don’t consider offering a discount to be the same as a giveaway, but to users, they’re equal, even though customers only get giveaways if they purchase something. Big retailers use this trick all the time with new and established customers alike, and you’ve probably made a purchase because you were motivated by a free bonus. Don’t underestimate the power of this tactic for your business.

Trade In Data

From a business owner’s perspective, customer data is power – and surveys provide demographic insights, can help determine marketing trends, help you make you meet customers’ needs more effectively, increasing profits. With that in mind, why not make a trade for that information. Customers will sometimes fill out a short survey for free, but once you start asking too many questions, they’ll promptly bail. A better approach is to offer them a freebie, from a file to a discount or a low-cost product, can get them to the end. And that data is worth more than whatever you trade in return.

Businesses have primarily stopped thinking in terms of trades, at least since the era of bartering ended, but in reality, the practice hasn’t ended. As professionals, we make trades every day. From knowledge and files to actual products, offering a benefit is the best way to secure a client. It’s just a small matter of reframing how you think about your blog as a sales tool.

Original post: On Offer: What Your Blog Should “Give Away”

5 Expert Ways to Boost Your Blog Traffic

Blogging can be fun because it gives you an opportunity to share your thoughts and feelings with a large number of people. As of 2018, there were 30.6 million bloggers in the United States alone. And by 2020, that number is expected to increase to 31.7 million.

So, you can imagine the amount of competition you’re likely to face if you want to stand out from others and generate quality traffic to your blog. You can’t just keep writing blog posts and expect people to visit your website to read them. Writing a blog post and driving traffic to your blog are completely different ball games.

This post will teach you 5 effective ways to drive high-quality traffic to your blog.

1. Leverage Social Media Platforms

As of 2018, globally there were 2.62 billion social media users. And by 2021, that number is expected to increase to 3.02 billion. So, you can well imagine the potential social media carries.

You can, therefore, leverage the power of social media to expand the reach of your blog posts. Here are some great ways to leverage social platforms and make the most of them.

Create a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a Pinterest account for your blog. Make sure to fill out the bio appropriately and add the link to your website or blog. This will help your target audience find your website quickly and easily.

You need to add social media buttons on your web pages. Make sure to add them where they’re visible and immediately get the attention of your readers. This will encourage them to share your blog posts with their social networks.

For example, here’s an example of a post on Jeff Bullas’ blog. In the screenshot below, you can see a list of social sharing buttons on the left side of the screen. They have a prominent placement so that readers can easily share the post on social media.

Image Source – JeffBullas

Whenever you publish a new blog post, don’t forget to share it in your social networks as well. However, select the platforms where your target audience spends most of their time. Also, you need to be consistent and make sure to post relevant and high-quality posts. You can use scheduling tools to ensure that you post consistently.

For example, here you can see how Bethany Frater, a writer, has shared her post on LinkedIn which was originally published on her blog. You can also follow this strategy to drive more traffic to your website.

You can leverage live videos on Facebook to develop a personal relationship with your target audience. People who follow you on Facebook will always be notified whenever you go live. However, make sure to create valuable and educational videos. This will encourage your audience to visit your blog.

Use visuals that are meaningful and add value to your post. Also, avoid using stock photos as far as possible.

When you share the link to your blog post on social media, make sure to add a strong call-to-action. This will encourage your followers to interact with your post and visit your blog.

2. Leverage Podcasts

You can also create and leverage podcasts to drive high-quality traffic to your blog. Ensure that you create podcasts which are informative and educational. This will help you attract and engage your target audience. It will also help them get to know you better.

As of 2018, there were 73 million podcast listeners in the United States. The numbers are expected to surpass 130 million by 2022. So, if you are not using podcasts already, it’s high time you start doing so.

One of the best ways to use podcasts is to invite an expert from your niche and conduct an engaging interview. You can also share the podcast with your network via social media platforms. This will not only get their attention but also motivate them to visit your blog. However, make sure to select a suitable podcast hosting site for this.

3. Optimize Your Content for Search Engines
No matter how brilliantly you write your posts, if your target audience cannot find them through search it then they’re of no use. So, it’s important that you optimize your content for search engines. This will help your audience discover your content and website easily. By using the right SEO strategies, you can improve the rankings of your posts in the search engines too.

Here are some effective SEO hacks to help you optimize your content for search engines:

Add keywords in your post titles and evenly distribute them throughout your content, making sure not to stuff too many keywords in them. and sub-title of your post. Ensure that you keep your title as specific as possible. The title of your post should give a clear idea to your readers about what they can expect from the post.

For example, Dan Western is the founder of Wealthy Gorilla. He mostly writes about entrepreneurship and self-improvement. The screenshot below is one of his “how-to” posts. As you can see the title of the post is very clear and precise. It gives a clear idea of what you can expect from the post.

It’s important to write meta descriptions for your posts. Add your keywords to your meta descriptions but don’t overstuff them with keywords. Keep your meta descriptions between 150 and 160 characters.

You should also consider interlinking your posts with some of your older, relevant posts. It’s even better if the older posts are some of your best performing posts on Google. You can use Google Analytics to find your top performing posts. All you need to do is go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Organic Search.

When done correctly, these tips and tricks will help you drive high-quality traffic to your blog. However, these SEO strategies will take time to show results. So, if you want to get results quickly, you can use PPC ads.

The difference between SEO with PPC is that the latter will help you amplify the reach of your content faster. Of course, this will depend on the amount of money you invest into it and the keywords for which you bid.

With the help of PPC ads, your content can appear on the first page of search engine results (in the ads section). So, for immediate results, you can use PPC ads to drive traffic to your blog.

4. Capture Email Addresses of Your Target Audience

When a user visits your website for the first time, try to get their email address. This will enable you to send newsletters notifying them about your new posts.

Always add the link to your post in your newsletters. This will make it easier for your users to check out your post. And this can help you drive quality traffic to your blog.

To collect the email address of your users, you need to add either a pop-up or sidebar form. Add some simple text with a strong call-to-action asking for their email address. This will encourage your visitors to join your email list and get notifications.

For example, the screenshot below is from the Post Planner’s website. They don’t have a pop-up or sidebar form. They have a static box that uses some simple text and an effective CTA to ask their visitors to enter their email addresses and join their network.

5. Add External Links

To drive more traffic to your blog posts, you need to add a few relevant and credible links to external sites in your posts. This will help you build a network with other bloggers and increases the value of your own post.

However, ensure that your external links are relevant to the content of your post and direct to reputable websites. Don’t add external links just for the sake of it. They need to add value to your post.

For example, below is an example of a post from Medium. As you can see the author has added external links to his own post. He has referred to a post from Moz, which is a very reputable website.

Final Thoughts

Driving high-quality traffic to your blog is easier said than done. It takes a lot of time, effort, and consistency. You can leverage the power of social media to share your posts with your network. Also, add social sharing buttons to your posts as that will encourage your readers to share your posts with their networks.

You also need to add keywords to your meta descriptions and meta title. Follow the strategies mentioned above to stand out from the millions of blogs and drive high-quality traffic to your blog.

Do you know of any other effective ways to increase your blog traffic? If so, please feel free to share your ideas in the comments below.

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant for 15 years with an emphasis on Influencer Marketing in the last 5 years. He is specialized in sales funnels, targeted traffic and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, Influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.

Original post: 5 Expert Ways to Boost Your Blog Traffic

Blogging Full Time? You Need A Home Office

Blogging is a great way to work from home, particularly for parents, but in order to be productive, you also need to have a space to call your own. That’s why professional bloggers need a home office. But how much space do you need to make it work? There are several different factors you need to consider as you develop your home office space.

Setting Boundaries

The first factor you need to consider when setting up your home office is what kind of boundaries you want – or need – to set. If you typically write while caring for your children, you might want an office that’s nearby, allowing you to write in short bursts, while they’re playing or taking a nap. On the other hand, if you’re likely to be interrupted by family members or other demands, but don’t actually need to be on call, you’ll want clearer boundaries. Some people even set up a detached home office in the backyard or one attached like a porch to the house, so that they have a dedicated and private space to work.

Size Matters – Somewhat

The size of your home office matters, but not as much as you may think. If you’re buying a new house, then, you may want to factor your home office into the square footage of the home you buy. If you’re not planning your home office upgrade at the same time as a move, on the other hand, it’s more important that you create a space of your own than have a lot of space. Many home offices are carved out of large closets, desks built into an eave or nook under the stairs, and other innovative spaces. Ultimately, it’s creating room to work that matters most; how much room is a secondary concern.

Consider Comfort

In addition to the size of your office, it’s important that whatever space you adopt for your home office is designed following ergonomic principles, allowing for proper posture, minimizing visual fatigue, and generally reducing discomfort associated with sedentary work. Blogging may seem like it would be easy on the body, but it’s actually associated with back pain, “tech neck,” and a variety of complaints that can drive those in the tech professions to the chiropractor. When you set up your space, then, invest in equipment that supports your body’s needs.

Make It Count

Don’t forget that by creating a home office space, you gain some financial benefits – you can deduct your home office as a business expense on your taxes. All you have to do is calculate the percent of your home’s square footage used as an office, and then you can deduct that from your rent or mortgage. Even if you don’t have a complete room to use as an office, investing in a few dividers will allow you to clearly mark your workplace and calculate the deduction.

By creating a formal home office area in your home, you make it clear to your family – and yourself – that running a blog is a serious job, and the income from monetizing your site, combined with tax deductions, should more than pay for the investment. What’s more, by dedicating a specific space to your work, you nearly guarantee that you’ll be more productive when you are working, making your blog, and your office, even more valuable.

Original post: Blogging Full Time? You Need A Home Office

3 Tips for Targeting the Right Audience on Your Small Business Blog

Successful small businesses understand the importance of establishing a digital footprint. The reality is that now, more than ever, consumers are using their computers, tablets, and smartphones to find and analyze information before making a purchasing decision.

In fact, 27 percent of consumers reported looking online daily for information about local businesses – more than double what it was in 2017. For small businesses to thrive within the competitive landscape of local markets, they need to prioritize their digital marketing efforts.

While there is certainly value in building a digital footprint on external platforms like Google My Business, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social channels, one of the best investments is to start blogging on your small business website.

What are the benefits of blogging for small businesses?

There are many benefits to investing in your small business blog. For one, it can help you position your business as a thought-leader within your industry. Additionally, your blog is open 24/7 and can continue to attract and convert customers long after you publish the content. Finally, it’s been statically proven that businesses with blogs perform better than businesses without blogs.

Below are some of the stats that support blogging for small businesses.

-Small businesses that blog generate 126 percent more leads than those that do not blog.
-81 percent of consumers in the United States trust information from blogs.
-Businesses that blog have 97 percent more inbound links and 434 percent more indexed pages.
In other words, your small business needs to publish content on its blog consistently.

However, before you start aimlessly publishing content to your blog, you need first to find and define your target audience.

Understanding your target audience is a critical component of an effective blogging strategy. Here are 3 tips for targeting the right audience on your small business blog.

Ask Yourself Some Questions

The goal of the blog is to attract visitors that could potentially benefit from your products or services. Therefore, the target audience of your blog typically mirrors the target audience of your business. You should be able to start defining your target audience by answer a few questions like:

What does your current client base look like? A great place to start with defining your target audience is to look at your current client makeup. While you might think you know your audience, if you analyze your current consumers, you will be able to craft your target audience based on concrete data.

What consumer problems does my business solve? If you can understand the issues that your clients face, it can help you publish articles that speak to those concerns and problems. Moreover, this can reveal your unique value proposition – which should be integrated into all your marketing messages, not just on the blog.

What action do you want this audience to take? Defining your audience is important, but you also should start to think about what action you want them to take once they land on your blog. Knowing the audience and their problems are critical, but you also need to think about what motivates them to act – after all, one of the main goals of your blog is to generate business.

Monitor Your Direct and Indirect Competition

When it comes to target market research, you can accomplish a lot by looking internally and analyzing your own customers – but, there is a wealth of information readily available from your direct and indirect competition.

Start by looking at your direct competition (similar businesses in your industry and market). If they have a blog, look at the topics of their content and the categories on their blog.

What posts get the most comments or social interactions? Keep track of the posts and themes that generate the most engagement, as those might be topics that you’ll want to prioritize.

You can also review their social media channels and look for trends in their followers and the types of content or topics that are the most popular. You might find that your competition gets a lot of engagement on Facebook, but not much on Twitter – this could indicate what social platform is most important to your target audience.

Don’t stop with your direct competition; monitor your indirect competition. When you are blogging, you’re not just competing for business; you’re competing for attention. Therefore, your indirect competition could include YouTube channels, podcasts, or other blogs that are taking the attention of your audience away from you.

Assessing your indirect competition can provide a completely new vantage point into the interest and activities of your target audience. You might discover a new way to engage your consumers that none of your direct competition has tried.

Use Primary Data to Understand Your Audience

Moving back to internal analysis, we can use primary research to pull information about your audience on a micro or macro level. If you haven’t yet, you need to set up Google Analytics on your website and business blog. This is a freemium tool from Google that provides comprehensive data about your website and its visitors.

Google Analytics is a powerful resource for researching your blog’s target audience. You can assess the age, gender, interest, and location of the visitors to your website and blog. You can also see what pages are frequented the most and other onsite engagement factors that can help you define your audience’s interests as it relates to your blog and business.

Other platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have audience insight tools that allow you to see demographic and interest data on your followers and those who engage with your brand on the respective platform. You can also collect audience data through a survey, questionnaire, or contest.

In other words, there is no shortage of opportunity to collect primary data about your target audience – it just takes time and effort.

What Comes After Defining the Target Audience

Defining the target audience for your small business blog is incredibly important – but, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. The goal of this exercise of defining your target audience is meant to help you think critically about who you want and expect to see your blog content.

With those personas in mind, you will now need to start mapping out the rest of the blog strategy – the layout and theme, content topics, content execution process, and promotional tactics among other things.

Original post: 3 Tips for Targeting the Right Audience on Your Small Business Blog

Tips from Corporate Video Producers: How to Conduct Excellent On-Camera Interviews

Corporate video testimonial is perhaps the best way to tell believable and genuine stories about anyone or anything related to the business world. Knowing how to carry out proper corporate video editing is a great way to highlight a business. In this article, you will learn 10 amazing corporate video editing tips to make a marketing video stand out.

Tips to take into consideration when making a corporate video testimonial

Prepare your questions ahead of time
Do not rush your questions. It is important to take your time and write them ahead of time. When choosing the right questions, it’s always a good idea to pick those that will make the interview flow. Do not use a lot of close-ended questions that lead to yes or no answers. Instead, begin questions with: who, what, when, where, why and how.

Choose the right interviewee
When telling a good story, a lot of it falls under the jurisdiction of the storyteller. To achieve great storytelling, the interviewee must be brilliant! Even if he is a successful CEO, that doesn’t mean that he is the best person to be telling the story. It is a good thing to pick those persons with whom you can related and empathize without hurting your own feelings.

Don’t force someone to get an interview
Always remember, if you want to excel at corporate video editing, you can’t force people to be interviewed. You need to avoid answers like “I don’t even want to do this”, or “Let’s get this over with”. A great video expresses energy and success. So, the key here is to make sure the person feels passionate when telling his or her story. It must feel genuine. Audiences love genuine conversation. Therefore, take your time when selecting a candidate.

Consider Pre-Interviews
Pre-interviews are what is known as short conversations to test different people. Usually these are 10-15 minutes long and you carry them out with different people until you find the best person for the job. You can do this in-person or over the phone. It is better to do this in-person since you can also watch for body language and charisma. A good storyteller is someone who catch your attention and makes you want to hear more. That is why, companies should always use their strongest players for corporate video testimonial.

Create a warm atmosphere
When you are preparing the interview, make sure to sit down with your guest and chit-chat for a few minutes. Inform him about the order of events, and how you are going to conduct the interview. Some coaching is always appreciated. Try to remind them that their answers will be edited and that their “umms” or “ahhs” will be eliminated. Always let them know that do-overs are okay! In the end, just remind them to smile and enjoy the interview.

Make the conversation flow
It is really important that you listen to your guest’s responses and continue to ask new questions. If your interview turns into a conversation that you lead, you have got a gem in your possession. Once the conversation has run its course and you feel ready to move into another direction, just go back to your original line of questioning.

Choose a very quiet room
Audio quality is important during corporate video editing. Even the slightest noise can be a problem during the testimonial. Therefore, it is vital that whenever you are interviewing a client, make sure that the room is quiet.

Do not give out specific questions in advance
You cannot give the questions to the interview before the video! This only leads to a have a robot on the set! No matter what, you cannot surrender something as precious as the questions for the interview. If the interviewee insists on having the questions beforehand, just give them the general line of questioning, nothing specific.

Consider scenery changes
If you are filming multiple testimonial in one day, a change of scenery is always a good idea. This is not so simple of course since you may need to keep the same background for every testimonial. However, give yourself some time to allow for scene or framing changes. In the end, this will give each interviewee a unique look that will differentiate the storytellers.

Position your interviewee’s eye-line
Last but not least, you have to position yourself near to or very close to the videographer in a way that your interviewee looks at you and not directly at the camera. This interesting camera set-up will create a visually elegant interview. An interview directed at camera can still be appropriate but the end result will be different. So, make sure you’ve selected the eye-line decision prior to the shoot. Also, you may encounter some individuals that will look at you, then at the camera, then back at you. This is a common mistake! When this happens, pause the shoot and remind your guest to look at you at all times.

Follow these 10 tips and you will excel at corporate video editing in a matter of time!

Robart Det has over five years of experience in the field of Video editing. He specializes writing articles on video production topics on his blog. He is presently working at  viddedit, a reputable presence in the video industry.

Original post: Tips from Corporate Video Producers: How to Conduct Excellent On-Camera Interviews

How bloggers and freelancers can manage a virtual team effectively

Businesses of all sizes often struggle to manage many aspects of their day-to-day operations, including blogging, design, and social media. Fortunately, technology is making it easier for businesses to access the skills they need without having to add permanent staff members to their payroll.

For this reason, many businesses are opting to outsource tasks and responsibilities to external agencies and freelance professionals. Bloggers and website owners are also going into this trend and outsourcing tasks related to their business. But how can they effectively manage a team that doesn’t share a workspace?

Define expectations
Employees will be more productive and are far more likely to succeed when given a clear set of guidelines and shared goals.

Providing detailed briefs that outline the expectations of the business, company etiquette, and establish clear standardized work processes will help remote workers feel like part of a team, rather than a group of individuals.

Utilize a range of communication solutions
When managing a virtual team, maintaining regular communication is vital. Assigning specific communication channels for different tasks can help define business processes and provide a sense of structure, which can often prove difficult in a virtual environment.

It’s important to use the appropriate platform of communication for the situation at hand. For example, sensitive interactions, such as performance reviews or disciplinary measures, should be handled via a face-to-face video call (or, when this is not possible, over a phone call) to maintain professionalism and give your team members the level of respect they deserve.

Use a virtual phone system

Deploying a virtual phone system is a simple way for small businesses to communicate with customers and colleagues without the worry and expense of installing a landline setup. This type of service can also be scaled up or down with the rate of the business.

There are many that include several other value-adding features such as hold music, voicemail transcription and ‘click to call’ buttons. Some providers also offer an automated receptionist solution, meaning each caller is greeted in a professional manner and handled with a consistent level of efficiency.

Video conferencing
Video conferencing can be a great way to connect virtual teams. Holding regular conference calls with all team members present helps keep everyone updated with each other’s progress. It also provides an opportunity for any questions to be raised, brainstorming exercises or sharing content ideas, so that everyone leaves the ‘meeting’ feeling energized and with a good understanding of the tasks at hand.

Create virtual coffee breaks
Humans are social creatures, but as part of a virtual team, members often miss out on all those daily interactions traditional office workers take for granted. Ensuring there is an informal company-wide chat platform in place can help maintain a feeling of social connection. If your team gets to know and trust each other on a personal level, they’ll be far more productive as a workforce.

Project management tools

When projects require the participation of several remote employees working in different locations, project management software can help streamline processes within the same project, so that all members have a clear timeline of completed and pending tasks.

Time tracking tools, such as Trello or Asana, provide a valuable overview of resources, giving key insight into how employees are spending their time, and highlighting areas where resources could be used more effectively. This can be particularly useful when several members are servicing one client.

Store it in the cloud

Manage documents in the cloud, so that team members can access and collaborate on files, at any time or place. This also avoids any potential for mistakes when team members are all working from different versions of the same document.

A shared cloud is an ideal space to keep a master plan or project overview. This should include important details such as the purpose of the project/main objectives, the core work hours of team members, and each member’s individual responsibilities. This enables all team members to understand their position and importance within the team as a whole.

Meritocracy is key

It can be easy to lose momentum when working as part of a remote team. Putting incentives in place will show your virtual team that you value them as much as an in-house employee and help them to feel less isolated.

Where possible, set goals, conduct performance reviews, and offer the same benefits that in-house staff receive.

As the world rapidly becomes increasingly interconnected, remote workforces are set to become commonplace. However, distance doesn’t have to be a barrier to success. With the right tools and management techniques, businesses can continue to enjoy the rewards of leading a productive and cohesive team, even when those team members are physically far apart.

Original post: How bloggers and freelancers can manage a virtual team effectively

5 Hacks to Make Your Life as a Blogger Easier and More Efficient

As a blogger, time is money. If you don’t write, publish, and promote your content, you’ll find it impossible to keep the lights on. Unfortunately, the blogging industry is filled with snares, hurdles, and distractions that steal your time and leave you grasping for air. Learning how to maximize efficiency in your daily routine will do wonders for your business.

5 Productivity Hacks for Bloggers

The thing about blogging is that there’s always something to do. While creating content is the most visible responsibility, there’s also a lot going on behind the scenes. You have to manage your accounting, marketing, advertising website development, and big-picture strategy. Despite all of these demands, you only have a few hours in each workday to get everything done.

Your success as a blogger will directly hinge on your ability to be productive and efficient with your limited time. While you have the freedom to call your own shots, the following tips will help you improve in this area:

1.Write When You’re Freshest

It’s important that you write when you’re freshest. We all have a window of a couple of hours where writing is easiest for us. For some, this is the early morning hours. For others, it might be late at night when the kids have gone to bed. Discover what works for you and use this time to pump out quality content.

2. Avoid Editing When Writing

There’s an old saying that you should write drunk and edit sober. While we wouldn’t endorse this approach, it is helpful to separate the two actions. You should write during one period and edit during another. Mixing the two will slow down your writing, inhibit your creativity, and lead to paralysis by analysis.

3. Learn How to Use Your Technology

When it comes to new technology, it’s easy to get caught up in all of the features and functions. Unfortunately, few bloggers ever learn how to master these elements. As a result, they end up with sophisticated technology that causes more issues than anything. If you’re going to use a piece of technology, learn it from the inside out.

Take a printer, for example. Have you taken the time to learn the difference between collated and uncollated? Doing so could save you a lot of time and hassle. The same goes for your CMS platform for your blog. Learning how to seamlessly navigate through the various parts of the program will greatly increase your efficiency.

4. Block Out Distractions

“Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can be great places to do some networking as a writer. You can meet other writers. You can find clients if you’re a freelance writer. You can find publishers. Or you can just have a little fun ‘hanging out’ with your Internet buddies,” blogger Adam Clarke writes. “But when you are supposed to be writing, you need to stay away from these places. It’s also a good idea to turn off notifications on your mobile phone too.”

What are your biggest distractions? Is social media to blame? Is it a noisy roommate? Does your phone constantly ping, ring, ding? Whatever the case may be, find ways to block out these distractions when you’re writing. You can return to them after you’ve finished.

5. Keep Your Work Area Organized

Regardless of how organized you are in your life, you need to prioritize organization in your blogging workspace. Every piece of clutter – including yesterday’s dishes, stacks of paper, sticky notes, and paperclips – takes up some of your limited focus. By decluttering and keeping your workspace organized, you’ll find it easier to stay on task.

Make the Most Out of Your Day

Depending on a multitude of factors, a full-time blogger most likely has somewhere between 7 and 14 hours of allotted work time per day. And though that may sound like a lot on paper, it quickly gets eaten up by tasks like bookkeeping, social media, phone calls, meetings, and, of course, writing.

You don’t necessarily need to increase the hours in your day to get more done. By enhancing your productivity, you can maximize output within the constraints of a limited schedule.

Original post: 5 Hacks to Make Your Life as a Blogger Easier and More Efficient

4 Reasons All Bloggers Should Invest In Professional SEO Training

If you’ve been writing content for a while, and you haven’t invested in professional SEO training, it’s time.

If you’re just getting your feet wet, this free SEO course presented by Moz is a good place to start. However, there are aspects to SEO you can only learn in a structured class environment. A structured SEO training program will give you hands-on experience to implement and drive home what you learn. You’ll also receive personalized feedback from your instructor – something you can’t get from free online courses.

Here are the best reasons to pursue professional, paid SEO training:

1. You can’t write valuable content without knowing SEO

Although SEO and content writing are different aspects of content marketing, they are inextricably combined. Content needs to be both well-written and visible to be effective. SEO makes content visible in the search engines; content only converts when you can get it in front of people.

According to Andrey Lipattsev, Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, links and high-quality content are the top two factors Google uses to rank websites for search. Do you know what Google considers high-quality content? If not, a professional SEO training course will teach you.

Professional training will take the guesswork out of your optimization efforts; you’ll see an increase in traffic with far less work.

2. You might get recruited by a professional agency

As an SEO-trained content writer, you might find yourself being pursued by a digital marketing agency. Marketing agencies are always on the lookout for talent.

Say someone from a marketing agency reads your blog and has a deep appreciation for your style. A content writer trained in SEO will stand out more than the rest. If a marketing agency notices you’re using professional marketing strategies, they may try to recruit you.

If you want to know what specific skills will make you valuable to an agency, just look at the services some of the top content marketing agencies provide. For instance, AudienceBloom has been producing high-quality content for Fortune 500 companies for nearly a decade. If you can learn the skills that get the results agencies like this provide, you’ve got a better chance at being recruited.

Make it your goal to obtain the skills that make your content writing valuable starting with SEO.

3. You’ll be more valuable to clients

Do you take on side gigs writing content for clients who don’t have time to write for themselves? Are you being paid fairly according to your skills? Chances are, you’re being underpaid. Most side gigs don’t pay much. However, you can get paid more for your side gigs when you have more to offer your clients, like SEO training.

When you bring SEO training to the table, your client no longer needs to hire an additional contractor to optimize your content for SEO. They’re getting an all-in-one package. It costs them less, which is an incentive for you to charge more.

The more skills you develop as a content writer, the more valuable you are to clients who need your services.

4. You’ll stop believing in SEO myths

It seems like ten new myths are created each time Google performs an algorithm update, and it takes time for those myths to fizzle out or be disproven. The problem is, some bloggers jump the gun and publish articles as if the myths are absolute, failing to do their own research. When these articles are published to reputable websites, it’s easy to think the myths have been verified even when they haven’t.

There are too many SEO myths to count. For instance, you might be afraid to publish your content as a guest post on other sites, fearing Google’s “duplicate content” penalty. The truth is, Google doesn’t punish duplicate content in the way most people think. Taken directly from Google’s website, they say, “Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results.”

Learning SEO from professionals will tell you why it’s actually a good idea to syndicate your content across other blogs: you’ll get backlinks and more exposure. You’ll also learn about the tag that tells search engines the content on your website is the official version.

Learn SEO the easy way

You have a blog to run. You don’t have time to investigate every SEO claim online, or wade through contrasting opinions each time Google updates their algorithm. Invest in professional SEO training to increase your value to the world.

Original post: 4 Reasons All Bloggers Should Invest In Professional SEO Training