Category Archives: About Work

Be careful about changing the .htaccess if you manage your website with WordPress

I had a customized .htaccess for my website so that all the old links could be 301-redirected to the new links once the website was fully ported to WordPress, and things worked great. I uploaded all the content, the .htaccess file, activated my theme, and changed the permalink structure to make the URLs SEO-friendly.

After a few days I was checking Google analytics, and noticed that some links that didn’t exist in the main navigation, but existed on the inner pages, were not being found, and needed to be redirected. I quickly added them to my .htaccess file and re-uploaded the file. After a few hours I noticed none of my pages worked. I remember this happening once, so I went to the permalinks section in the WordPress admin and again saved the permalinks setting. The links started working again.

Then today again I uploaded the .htaccess file and noticed that the website stopped working. Again I went to the permalinks section, saved the permalinks setting and the pages came back. Then it came to my mind that whenever you make changes to the permalinks structure, WordPress changes your .htaccess file. So whenever I was uploading my version of .htaccess, the changes were being overwritten, and the pages refused to work. Dumb of me actually.

So now after saving the permalinks settings I have downloaded .htaccess. Whatever changes I have to make, I’ll make in this file, without overwriting the WordPress settings for handling permalinks. Small oversights can cost you big time sometimes!

Taking up assignments that are not in my field

Of late – for the past 5 odd months – I have been taking assignments that I haven’t mentioned on this website, for instance designing and developing websites and setting up content management systems such as Joomla and PHPNuke. These assignments are so not content writing. But they earn me some good money, some quick money. The amount of money that I make writing content for say, 5 projects, I can make the same amount with just one project of designing a website. You might wonder then why the hell do I write content instead of making websites?

I used to make websites a few years ago and in fact only those people approach me for web designing and development work who somehow know that I used to make websites. I wrapped up my web design and development business because my soul was not into it; I wanted to write. That is why I started providing content writing services to various clients. Back then I needed to heavily advertise using AdWords because very few people were looking for content writers and online copywriters. I don’t know why I never stopped learning the new web design and development techniques. So when people started creating CSS based layouts I also learned how to do that and when people started incorporating Ajax functionalities into their applications I also used them while working for one of my permanent clients. Maybe that is the reason; I have always been in touch with web design and development and I never work on a project half-heartedly even though my primary business is content writing.

There is another reason why I often get this work. When new clients approach me many times they are just starting a new website. So they ask me by any chance do I know a good web designer. I often reply that I don’t know any web designer but there are a few websites that I have designed and if they like those designs and if they are ready to pay what I am asking for maybe I can give it a try. This is how everything begins.

Especially these days I try to do as much work as I can because one is never sure of the prevalent economic conditions. Although I don’t prefer designing websites if they get me some good money in little time and I have to do something that I already know it becomes difficult for me to refuse. Does this mean I am ignoring my core business? I don’t know, maybe. On second thought, I think earning money and creating a backup is also essential for my content writing business. With enough money I don’t have to take up “desperate projects” and I can be choosy. I am still thinking about it.

Where do you draw the line regarding being polite to your clients?

Being polite is good in general. One should always be polite. Politeness can be an invaluable asset to you if you work as a freelancer. But where do you draw the line? There is a big difference between being polite and being obsequious.

Just refunded a client’s advance because he wouldn’t listen to reason. I had sent him a document yesterday; today he replied that he could have done a better job himself. He said the writing was mediocre, it didn’t make sense and it was needlessly complicated. This happens when you don’t have anything to say and you just want to write the 300 words you have promised. I quickly went through the document to check what he was talking about.

Let us assume that I have crossed the threshold of writing faulty language. Assuming there are no errors in grammar or otherwise here is how you would say that a document communicates what it needs to communicate:

  • The headline that captures the attention of the visitor by offering exactly what he or she is looking for.
  • Quickly explaining in the first paragraph how your service can make a big difference and help your client tremendously improve his or her business (or whatever you intend to improve).
  • In the second paragraph you briefly talk about your team, the individual experiences and qualifications of your team members and their levels of motivation and commitment.
  • In the third paragraph maybe you explain the tools that you have to carry out the service and your total command over those tools.
  • In the fourth paragraph you normally talk about the work you have done so far.

This is the basic information you give when writing about a service. You can write it boringly, you can write it interestingly, or you can do the simple plain talk. I kept the language simple (I usually avoid clichés and jargons), to-the-point, and focused to the need of the client’s prospective clients. My main concern was to keep the message simple and captivating for the layman.

Anyway, upon receiving the client’s response I quickly wrote to him and offered as many re-writes as required to make the content acceptable to him. After a couple of minutes, he said he had no time to explain and he needed me to refund. I immediately refunded without further explanation.

Should I have tried to reason out? After all we started on a good note and he wanted my services on an ongoing basis. My experience says I shouldn’t have tried to explain further because such clients are normally quite impatient, they don’t respect your time and effort, they are quite unpredictable, and they have no clue what exactly they want and I think this is the basic problem with them. Besides, whether they are happy or not, they never provide you regular work simply because they themselves never get regular work due to the way they treat their work and their own clients.

If you want me to work for you the least you can do is clearly define your requirement. You must know what you want to convey and who are your target audience?

Now, you may argue that what is the use of me being a copywriter if I cannot make out how you want to convey your message and I will totally agree with your argument. If you think that I am a capable copywriter then you should leave it up to me how your message should be conveyed and if somewhere we disagree then there should be enough scope for alterations and further discussions. You hired me because somewhere you felt I can provide you what you are looking for. In case I don’t then there must be some communication gap, either from my side or from your side. All I can suggest to you is, let us fill the gap and see the completion of the project.

If a client is not satisfied I don’t offer excuses; I simply offer a rewrite and if I cannot figure out why the client doesn’t like the work I try to get more information. I try to do it as politely as possible even when the client is not polite. But even after that if the client shows a negative attitude I have no choice but to fire that client.

Writing website copy for a web design and marketing company

From now onwards I will be regularly discussing the online copywriting and content writing projects I am currently working on. No, I’m not going to divulge the details of the client unless he or she desires to do so. So if you are my present client or my prospective client you need not worry. I will simply share with you the things that I am experiencing and learning while writing.

I have written for many web design and marketing companies so it is becoming kind of a repetitive job. There is a great temptation to open pre-existing documents and simply rehash the material, but that won’t be ethical and it also won’t be good for my self-esteem as a writer. Even if I have written 20 times for the same sort of business I start from scratch whenever am writing for a new client. Of course the things are the same and they are offering the same service. So how do you differentiate?

That is a challenge as a writer. Writing for a web design and marketing company mainly involves writing on three themes:

  • Web designing
  • Web development
  • Internet marketing/SEO

To describe and sell these services one uses almost the same language and the same pitch. In order to come up with unique content I try to imagine myself being a part of the team. Every team is unique, that much I really understand and agree to. Every business team has a unique message to convey. There is something that motivates us. I try to catch that feeling. Now you may wonder why get involved so much if a company is paying you just $90 to do three pages? Well, it is not about those three pages and those $90, it is about getting involved with your work. Anyway, I am digressing.

This is something that always works: I forget about all the work I have done so far for similar clients. For instance, while working on this present content writing project I’m not thinking about the other similar projects I have worked upon (besides, there is always an interval of 2-3 months so there is also the possibility of forgetting what you have previously written). I consider it my first most assignment for a web design and online marketing client. Of course I utilize the experience, but that’s it.