Category Archives: Content Writing

How to give your best when writing content?

How to give your best when writing content

How to give your best when writing content.

I don’t get to visit Seth Godin’s blog regularly, but whenever I do, I feel thankful. He always shares great wisdom.

In his latest blog post he has shared the importance of giving your best effort when creating something, whether you are creating a business, delivering a service, or just doing something for yourself or someone else.

In my book that I have just published on Kindle – This is how I built my content writing business – I have given an example of how they make tea in the Japanese and the Chinese cultures.

Brewing tea is a spiritual activity. Everything from boiling the water, putting the leaves and other ingredients, letting the concoction brew, and afterwards, to pouring the prepared tea from the teapot into the cups, is revered and appreciated. It’s beautiful to watch the entire thing.

Don’t just do something “sufficiently”.

It is so easy to deliver something functional.

I will confess. Even I do that with some projects because a client is paying a lot less, or he or she is doing something to annoy me. My connection with the content writing process gets disembodied.

It’s not that I don’t like writing content – I enjoy it – but this is my way to disconnect myself with a client who doesn’t appreciate my services. Do I endorse it? No.

If you don’t give your best to your content writing, it shows through.

Writing is a communication, just like any other performing art. Teachers of performing arts like singing and dancing often tell their students that if they don’t enjoy the performance, neither does the audience.

They can make out the lack of enthusiasm or the presence of it.

When you are writing, if there is a disconnect, it shows through. Maybe you are writing the perfect words, the perfect sentences, and erudite phrases, but if there is no connection, if there is no strong desire to give your best, it shows through. The readers can feel it.

How do you give your best when writing content?

Don’t let the others define your capabilities. Just because someone is paying you less or doesn’t appreciate your ability to write high quality content, it doesn’t mean you yourself start thinking about your abilities on the same terms.

Your brain actually works on the philosophy of “your wish is my command”.

Your brain delivers what you ask of it. If you tell your brain that you love what you’re doing, you actually do it as if you love it.

Seth’s advice is mostly business-related but it is also applicable to the art of content writing. Pay attention to finer details. Pay attention to the individual words, the individual sentences and the individual phrases that you are using.

You are not just writing because you are being paid. You are writing because hundreds of people may read what you have written and get affected by it.

Otherwise, my suggestion is that you don’t take up the assignment. Of course, if you are financially or otherwise hard pressed against the wall then the circumstances of exceptional, but if you can afford it, only take on assignments you can make an emotional impact on.

How to get quality content written on a tight budget?

How to get quality content written on a tight budget

How to get quality content written on a tight budget.

Many clients approach me with a tight budget. Even yesterday someone called me who wanted content for a single page website. When I told him how much I would charge, he was taken aback. To be frank, even I was taken aback at the way he was taken aback. After all, I needed to charge for the time I was going to spend writing his content. I hadn’t even quoted a very high rate.

When people think of getting content written for their websites, they think in terms of long-term writing requirements. Something like, “If I’m paying this much for one web page, over a period how much am I going to have to pay for 25 pages?”

This is a valid question. Everyone needs to plan. One must know what is the cost of writing content for the complete website and then plan accordingly.

The written content on your website is one of your biggest assets, or in fact, THE biggest asset. Does your website have a meaning without the text? Are you going to have empty boxes? Or are you going to fill those boxes with content full of spelling and grammar mistakes or uninspiring sentences and paragraphs? Don’t you want to motivate your visitors into becoming your customers and clients? It is the written text that is going to achieve that for you.

Although I believe in most of the cases clients talk about having a budget constraint simply because they don’t want to pay enough to a content writer (the only service they want to save the maximum on), some cases a genuine. How do you get quality content written for your website if you don’t have enough budget? You can do the following…

Get content written for a selected few pages

Some pages are important, for example your homepage, the services page and the about us page. These pages are business getters. Although other pages matter too, these are the pages that must look professionally written. If you don’t have enough money to pay for content for all the pages, just get your content written for a selected few pages.

Get the content written incrementally

There is no need to get the entire thing done in one go. You can get your content written incrementally. In the beginning, get the barebones content. Have enough content that your visitors get the needed information, and you can launch the website. It is far better than launching a website with inferior or unprofessional content. Then, next month, you can pay some more money to your content writer to expand upon the existing content.

Repurpose existing content

If you already have some content on your blog or website, perhaps you can consider repurposing it.  For example, if I wanted to repurpose some content from this blog post, I could write a quick blog post on “How to write quality content incrementally”. This way your content writer won’t have to spend lots of time searching for new ideas and he or she can simply build upon your existing content, costing you less in the process.

Write the content yourself and then get it revised by a professional content writer

This may seem daunting, but if you really want to save some money, prepare the draft yourself. A content writer spends a lot of time preparing the first draft because most of the clients don’t give enough information pertaining to their businesses. Since you yourself will be writing the content, you will be sharing the information first-hand. Then, afterwards, your content writer can make it look professional.

Go for shorter blog posts

Thin content – blog posts and web pages less than 400 words – is often discouraged by Google, but there is no hard and fast rule. My philosophy in this regard is, having some content is better than having no content. There is no need to publish blog posts that are more than 1000 words. Just publish something around 300-400 words. The idea is to convey to Google that you are constantly updating your blog and the Google crawler should crawl and index the updated content from your website. I myself publish small blog posts when I don’t have enough time to work on comprehensive content pieces.

This may not help you improve your SEO compared to other businesses that are publishing bigger blog posts, at least the Google crawler will start crawling your website with greater frequency and once you can afford to publish bigger blog posts, they will be crawled and indexed faster.

There are many websites with less content. Although most of the business owners want as much content as possible to improve their search engine rankings and cover all the necessary keywords, your customers and clients don’t know that. So, even if you have less content, they may think that it is just your approach or design need. But make sure that whatever content you have, it is professionally written, looks well, and communicates to your visitors convincingly. That’s what that matters the most.

 

Writing content for multitask unified model – MUM

Writing content for Google MUM

Writing content for Google MUM.

Google is implementing a new machine learning technology in search called “multitask unified model”, in short, MUM.

MUM is touted as 1000x more powerful than BERT (bidirectional encoder representations). For years we have been talking about how right now machines cannot read through images for search purposes, but MUM will be able to do so. It is multimodal in the sense that it can understand information across text and images and in near future, it will also be able to understand information in video and audio.

You may also like to read: Optimizing your content writing for the BERT algorithm update

The new algorithm can also process 75 languages for the purpose of search results. For example, if you post a query in English on Google and if the algorithm thinks that a better answer exists on a Japanese website, it will bring up the Japanese website after translating it into English.

Yes, now, you won’t just be competing for space in your own language, but also with 75 other languages.

Up till now, within search, Google’s main revenue model has been PPC ads. More revenue opportunities can be created by finding contextual results when people search, and then, offering commercial products and services for further exploration. Google wants to provide “context-rich” answers.

Ultimately, the company hopes, the company aims to achieve a “richer and deeper search experience”.

What does it mean for content writing? All my clients want me to write content that helps them improve their search engine rankings. How can technologies for algorithmic logics like MUM can be incorporated into the process of content writing?

Good content is based on targeted queries. If you’re looking for a content writing service for your logistics company, you are more likely to search for something like “content writer for my logistics company website” or “content writing services for a logistics website”, and other variations.

When the MUM-powered search algorithm goes mainstream, two main things are going to happen that concern your search engine rankings:

  1. Google may find content related to “content writing for logistics company website” even on websites in different languages and show them in your language if it thinks they have a better answer for what you’re looking for.
  2. It may also showcase information on why your logistics company needs a quality content writing service that can help you improve your search engine rankings, educate your visitors and lower your bounce rate.

Frankly, most of the blog posts and articles trying to explain what exactly MUM is are simply regurgitating what Google has published on its own blog. Everybody is using the hiking example used by Google – they haven’t been able to come up even with your own example. Hence, the understanding of the technology is still unfolding.

But the main takeaway is that the search algorithm is not just going to focus on the query that is submitted to Google for bringing up search results. It will also use its own logic to decide what more information could be useful to you and then present that information to you. It may combine multiple links into a single search result to give you a comprehensive, context-based result for your query.

Is MUM all about writing and publishing pillar pages and topic clusters?

Right now, it seems like it. How do you create a complete context? By packing everything into what you are writing. But you cannot write very long web pages and blog posts because then people won’t read them. What do you do? You create a pillar page with the main topic and then you create a series of topic cluster pages or the contextual pages that present all the needed information that is related to the main topic or the pillar page content.

In the end, what matters is the relevance and quality of the information that you publish on your website or blog. Write relevant content. Maintain a close relationship between your topic and the body text. High-quality, relevant content always stands the test of time.

Here I explain why I take full advance for my content writing services

Why I take full advance for my content writing services

Why I take full advance for my content writing services.

These days I insist that my clients make an advance payment (full payment, not 50% or 40%) before I schedule their work. It started with the onslaught of Covid-19 when many of my clients suddenly disappeared without making the payments for the work that I had done for them.

Then I realized that, both from mine as well as the client’s perspective, charging the full advance works better. Of course, most of the clients are apprehensive, and I take appropriate measures to allay their concerns. I explain.

Why I’m charging a full advance for my content writing services

As I have explained above, I started taking the full advance after Covid-19. I’m not blaming the clients but in total, I may have lost payments for 30-40 hours that I spent writing their content. If you can believe, I don’t resent those clients. The entire world went through calamitous times. I’m thankful that many of us have survived unscathed.

Over the past years I have realized that when clients miss making payments, it is not because they don’t want to pay or they want to fleece me – not all of them. They just lose track and once they have lost the track, they move on, and once they have moved on, it is difficult to make them pay.

Content writing is my full-time job. It is my bread and butter. In Hindi, you would call it my “rozi-roti”. Almost all of my income comes from writing content for different clients. Compared to my clients, my stakes are higher.

For almost all of my clients, getting content written for their websites and blogs is a side activity. I’m not saying it is less important, but after everything said and done, it is not one of their main undertakings. For example, you may be a lawyer, an accountant, a business coach, a web design agency owner, a photographer, a doctor, a real estate developer, an architect, or something else. That is your work. You spend a major part of your day doing your work or delivering your core competency. Writing content is not your major undertaking of the day.

Sometimes clients get busy with other responsibilities. Priorities change sometimes. Projects get shelved. There is suddenly some cash crunch and “adjustments” need to be made. In all this quintessential hubbub, they may not even give a second thought to that distant content writer who is spending his time doing the work they no longer consider important, but for him, it is. He is ignoring the work of another client to work on their project for which, they may not pay.

What if I take your money and then don’t do your work or do a lousy job?

This is a valid fear. Every person wants to be cautious before spending money. And it happens. People take money and then disappear. The Internet is full of such stories. I’m not saying the apprehension is unfounded. All the valid reasons are there.

So how do I counter this fear? How do I explain to my clients that giving a full advance to me is a safe bet and I’m not going to disappear with their money or I’m not going to do a lousy job simply because I’m no longer looking forward to payment from you (because I have already received it)?

Most of the people hold back payment thinking that the service provider will do his or her best to be able to get the payment.

Most of the service providers, especially those who take outsourced jobs such as content writing or web design and such, work on the percentage model. For example, they take 40% advance and then start working. Then they complete the work and show a portion of it and get another 40%. Then they deliver the work and receive the remaining 20%. Or 50%-50%.

I’m not pointing at particular clients, getting repeat payments, especially once you have delivered the work, can be a big drain on your energy and creativity as a writer. Some people may not have a problem with this, but I don’t feel comfortable asking for money repeatedly. So many times I have lost money because the client didn’t pay the remaining amount and after a couple of reminders, I felt too awkward to ask.

Full advance payment for content writing doesn’t mean there needs to be a big commitment

Here is the process that I follow that makes me and my clients comfortable.

  • Based on the specs I prepare an estimate.
  • I divide the project in smaller chunks (Phase 1, Phase 2, …).
  • I ask for a topic from the client and agree to submit a sample of 200-300 words.
  • If the client likes the sample, he or she pays the full amount for Phase 1.
  • When Phase 1 is done, if the client is still happy with my work, he or she pays for Phase 2.
  • And so on.

Does this process always work? Not necessarily. Especially when I’m writing content for companies. Their accounting departments have their own procedures. There are company policies that don’t allow them to make payments unless they have received the product. In such cases I go on a hunch. But with individuals, except for the rarest of the rare cases, I stick to my process.

 

What do I deliver through my content writing services?

What do I deliver with my content writing services?

What do I deliver with my content writing services?

I have been telling my clients increasingly that when they are paying me, they’re not paying for the words and sentences that I write. They are paying for the value that I deliver.

I’m gradually shifting away from the messaging that conveys that I deliver content writing services. Of course, I write content and hence, I deliver content writing services, it isn’t just the writing that are offered. Through my writing, my clients benefit because

  • Their search engine rankings improve.
  • The quality of their interaction and engagement elevates.
  • They communicate their proposition clearly.
  • They establish themselves as an authority.
  • People stay longer on their websites and blogs.
  • They generate more leads.
  • Their business grows.

One may say that these are standard benefits that are assumed delivered when someone writes content, and I agree.

Every content writer must talk in these terms. Every website thrives on the shoulders of its content. Without content, a website has no meaning. Just imagine, you go on a website, and you find just images and graphics. Will you do business with such a website?

Or say, there is written text on the website, but it is uninspiring. It uses staid language. There are grammar mistakes. There is no flow consistency. The inherent narrative is missing. Most of the time the readers leave midway, forget about doing business.

Quality content writing is invaluable. Everyone, including content writers and people who hire them, need to understand that without written content, without content that convinces and converts, the website holds no meaning.