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.

 

Some interesting blogging stats in 2021

Stats are good. They bring you face to face with the reality. They put numbers on conjectures and turn them into facts. Orbit Media conducts a survey among 1000+ bloggers every year and publishes the findings.

Although there are multiple findings in the blogging survey of 2021, there are some findings I find more interesting than the others. Anyway, I don’t want to turn it into a big blog post, so here are some good stats to ponder over:

On an average it takes 4 hours to write a decent blog post

An average blog post takes 4 hours to write

An average blog post takes 4 hours to write.

Yes, I know my clients are going to balk at these figures. Up till couple of years ago, with great difficulty I was charging them for one hour for a blog post. Now, somehow I have been able to convince them that it takes a little less than two hours to write a decent blog post of 1000 words. This includes researching, finding the right information, writing, and then revising. Sometimes, revising multiple times.

Personally, my number would be around 2-3 hours, if I write uninterrupted, without distractions.

An average blog post is of 1400+ words

An average blog post is of 1400 words

An average blog post is of 1400 words.

The blog posts that I write for my client, these days are around 1000-1500 words. Hence, sort of, the same average.

Why has the number of words increased over the years? In the above figure, in 2014, the average number of words in a blog post were 808. Ever since then, the number has been rising.

Google regularly insists that the longer the blog post, the better are its chances of getting ranked higher. An average client knows this. Almost all the clients who contact me know that their blog post must be at least 1000 words, and if they want to be more competitive, they want to keep it around 2000 words.

The level of awareness vis-à-vis quality content is rising. A greater number of clients are realizing that to beat competition, they need well-written blog posts. They also know that the number of words matter. Very few clients want to publish thin content these days.

The maximum number of bloggers want to publish 500-1500 words

The maximum number of bloggers want to publish 500-1500 words.

I have seen the middle of a trend among my clients. In 2021, so far there has been just one client who wanted 3000+ words for blog posts. Most want 1000 words. 2000-word blog post requests are gradually rising. Just today I wrote a 2000+ words blog post for a finance company.

What should be the publishing frequency?

To the clients who can afford, I always recommend one blog post every day, at least in the beginning when they want to provide, or they should be providing, lots of content to Google to crawl and index.

Greater blogging frequency gets better results

Greater blogging frequency gets better results.

Greater blogging frequency gives you a cumulative result. Again, if you give Google more content, it is going to crawl and index more content, and the probability of your content appearing in the search results naturally increases (I’m assuming that we are talking about relevant, quality content, and not just spammy, meaningless content).

Google also sets a crawling schedule. It matters how fast your content is crawled and indexed. If there is no crawling schedule, it may take weeks, sometimes even months for your individual blog posts to get crawled. But if you publish regularly, Google begins to take note of it and begins to crawl your website or your blog with greater frequency, getting your first exposure in the search results.

How many bloggers research keywords?

Researching keywords before writing a blog post

Researching keywords before writing a blog post

I would like to approach this topic from two angles: my own, and that of my clients.

I research keywords only when I intent to target certain keywords, while writing for my own blog. The topic takes precedence. I’m not saying I’m not sensitive towards researching keywords, when my priority is to unleash a blog post as quickly as possible as I’m working on other assignments, there is little time for elaborate keyword research.

For my clients, yes, sometimes when they ask, I do some quick research. I have been writing content for so many years, and for so many industries, that I have a basic knack for preparing a quick list of the most relevant keywords whenever a client sends me a topic.

I don’t make my own suggestions because, to be frank, I’m not being paid for that. I’m being paid for writing. Only when clients hire me for my content consulting services that I talk about keyword research.

Naturally, bloggers who do keyword research get better results.

Keyword research gives better results

Keyword research gives better results.

Do bloggers update their old posts?

Updating old blog posts

Updating old blog posts.

I have been doing that for some time now. When I’m going through my old blog posts to re-purpose some portion of the content, I often realize that I could have written those blog posts better, used more information, could have done better formatting, and so on.

In terms of clients getting their old blog posts updated, I think it is too much to expect, especially when even for the first time, they’re watching every penny they spend. Makes sense. Repeatedly updating older blog posts could be viable only when you’re either publishing your own blog or you have a content writer constantly working with you.

For example, for me it is just a matter of clicking the edit button and quickly making the changes.

There are some more stats and figures, and also graphs, that you can go through in the original Orbit Media link that I have shared above.

7 immediate benefits of publishing a blog post every week

Benefits of publishing a blog post every week

Benefits of publishing a blog post every week.

Almost every month I publish a blog post prompting my readers to regularly publish blogs on their business websites. Blogs are automatic SEO magnets. They are structured in such a manner that you don’t need to do anything extra to improve your search engine rankings – provided you are using a standard WordPress theme that does not obstruct the Google crawler from accessing your content.

Ideally, you should publish a blog post every day. At least for SEO purposes. The more you publish, the faster your content gets crawled by search engines. You also cover more topics and increase your keyword. Talking about keywords, never overusing keywords when you are writing blog posts.

Since publishing a blog post every day may be an expensive undertaking when you need to hire a content writer or blog writer to write your blogs, my suggestion is, stick to a one-blog-post-per-week schedule and you should start experiencing some benefits immediately.

Just like everything else in life, there are caveats. Nonetheless, the fundamental factors that improve your search engine rankings as well as your conversion rate, is the quality of your content, the relevance of the blog posts that you publish. Stick to quality, stick to relevance, and everything else pretty much gets taken care of by itself, well almost.

1. A weekly blogging schedule improves your search engine rankings

Regular weekly blogging improves your SEO.

Regular weekly blogging improves your SEO.

Whenever I talk about search engine rankings, please always keep in mind that only the rankings that get you targeted traffic are worth considering. Improving your rankings for random keywords and search terms doesn’t help you much.

Carefully prepare a list of keywords around which you’re going to write and publish blog posts. Formulate all your titles and topics and headings and subheadings around those keywords. Never lose track of your keywords.

I have often seen that clients get happy because their rankings suddenly improve through regular blogging, but they don’t generate much business. This is because although the rankings are improving and also the traffic is increasing, the right people are not coming to the website or the blog. Hence, no business.

Anyway, how does publishing one blog post every week improve your search engine rankings?

You give Google more content to crawl and index. A greater number of your links are included in the search index. You are covering more keywords, especially the longtail keywords.

Consider the probability. What are the chances of you winning a lottery? Never buying a ticket, occasionally buying a ticket, or regularly buying a ticket? No, I’m not suggesting that you get addicted to buying lottery tickets and squander away all your savings. What I mean is, if you do more of something, provided you do something specific, the probability of a specific outcome increases.

The same way, the probability of your content appearing on Google search results increases if there are more links from your website in Google’s index.

Getting your content crawled by Google can be a big issue. Although the search engine is crawling millions of web pages, blog posts, images, videos, and social media posts, almost every hour, since it is crawling practically everything, it may take a month, or even more, for the Google crawler to visit your link.

Your website gets crawled randomly. There is no schedule. This is because the Google crawler doesn’t know when you publish content. Not everyone publishes a regular blog. Not everyone updates website content regularly. Hence, it is left on randomness to decide when your website gets crawled.

On the other hand, if you have a schedule and you stick to your schedule, Google learns to crawl your content based on that schedule. Hence, if you publish a new blog post every Wednesday, there is a greater chance that your website will be crawled every week, probably somewhere around Wednesday. If you publish a blog post every day, your website is going to be crawled every day.  If you post multiple blog posts every day and you go on doing that for months, your website gets crawled multiple times in a day.

Hence, regularity gives you a significant edge over other websites that don’t publish content regularly.

Again, publishing a blog post every day, or posting multiple blog posts every day, can be expensive if you need to hire a content writer, but even a weekly schedule brings you immediate benefits. Within a couple of months, you will see a marked improvement in your crawl rate and targeted traffic.

2. You get more subscribers for your mailing list

You get more email subscribers with regular blogging

You get more email subscribers with regular blogging.

Every business must build a mailing list. A mailing list is a list of email ids that people give you, knowingly, consciously, with their consent, and you use these email ids to keep them engaged fruitfully.

Most small businesses publish a newsletter to keep in touch with their subscribers.

You may like to read Why publish a newsletter for your business or organization.

The benefit of building your mailing list is that people agree to remain in touch out of their own choice. They come across your subscription box on your website/blog, they drop their email ID with their consent, and then you can regularly keep in touch with them. These people are interested to hear from you. They don’t mind if you send them emails. Every business wants to build such a mailing list.

I use my mailing list to broadcast the blog posts and web pages that I’m publishing on my website all the time.

When you publish a blog every week, you get more people to your website who are interested in your content and since they are interested in your content, they will subscribe to your newsletter so that they don’t miss your content.

This may not be an immediate benefit of publishing a blog post every week because a mailing list takes time to build, but it definitely kickstarts the process. As the proverb goes, “If there was a better time to start building your mailing list, it was a couple of years ago.”

3. Increase followers and visibility on social media

Fan following on social networks increases with regular blogging

Fan following on social networks increases with regular blogging

Entrepreneurs and businesses who share their own content on social media websites get more followers and enjoy better visibility. If you simply share content from other websites, although your followers will value that, the effect is not the same as publishing your own content and sharing your own knowledge and wisdom.

People who share their own insights get more followers and people take them more seriously. Chances of active engagement are also better. People may share your content on their own timelines, giving you more exposure.

Publishing a blog post every week on your business blog and then sharing it on your social media profiles also seed new conversation ideas.

4. You have more content to repurpose

You have more content to repurpose when you blog regularly

You have more content to repurpose when you blog regularly.

You may like to read How to repurpose old content.

Repurposing old content means reusing your existing content through different formats and different presentations. Maybe you can pick up a single paragraph from one of your blog posts and then post it on LinkedIn. Maybe you can create a small visual out of the same paragraph and then post it on Instagram.

Complete blog posts can be created out of small portions of your existing content. For example, I can write a new blog post from the point “Increase followers and visibility on social media by publishing content regularly”, that I have discussed above.

After a while it becomes self-fulfilling. The more content you publish every week, the more content ideas you have for different content marketing needs.

5. You share your human side with your readers

Regular blogging allows you to share your personal side

Regular blogging allows you to share your personal side.

In my case, there is not much difference between my writing style whether I’m writing for my main website or for my blog, but with most of the businesses, this is not the case.

The language that people use on the main website is different from the language they use on their blogs.

You can let your hair lose when you are writing blog posts. You don’t need to sound very official. Your language can be free flowing. It can be conversational. It can be friendlier.

This helps you make a connection with your visitors. You’re not some highflying executive or a salesperson just interested in making a sale. You’re interested in sharing your thoughts. You want to tell stories. You want to share anecdotes.

The trust factor is very critical on the Internet. When people come to your website and decide to do business with you, or decide to go away without doing business with you, you’re not there to talk to them personally. It is what you have written on your website or blog that does the talking. You cannot have conversations through monotonous and jargon-ridden interactions. There need to be friendly conversations to make people comfortable and to make them trust you. Weekly blogging on your website helps you achieve that.

6. You earn more backlinks

You get more backlinks with regular blogging

You get more backlinks with regular blogging.

I have never approached other websites to put my links on them. All the backlinks that I have gathered, I have gathered naturally. People come across my content on Google and social networking websites, find it link-worthy, and then link to it.

Almost everyone is aware that one of the biggest benefits of getting quality backlinks is that it improves your search engine rankings. Google considers backlinks as endorsements. Why would people link to your content unless it offers something valuable?

People want to share to authority content. For example, if someone writes about the benefits or advantages of publishing a blog post every week and then wants to backup with another link, the author can link to my present blog post on the same topic.

As mentioned above, one of the most popular and well-known reasons for getting backlinks is improving search engine rankings. After quality content, it is the quality of your backlinks that has the biggest impact on your SEO.

You also get additional exposure. What if hundreds of websites share your link? What if your link is shared by a news website? What if you are quoted by a business reporter and along with your quotation, he or she also publishes a link to one of your blog posts? You get a ton of additional traffic.

In fact, people who don’t want to rely on Google put lots of energy into getting high quality backlinks just for the sake of generating traffic from all those websites.

7. Establish yourself as an expert or an authority

Regular blogging establishes you as an authority

Regular blogging establishes you as an authority.

By publishing a blog post every week and sharing your knowledge and wisdom, you establish yourself as an authority on your subject.

I am a content writer. People hire me for my content writing and copywriting services. It definitely helps them decide in my favor when they see that I have published so much content on the topic of content writing and copywriting.

Prospective clients come across my blog posts on Google or LinkedIn, they come to my blog and see how much I have written on the topic,  they get impressed, and then they contact me for work. Most of my work comes through people who first see my blog.

Although I don’t offer my services as a content consultant, most of my clients want to know so much about what to publish and how to publish, that these days, I have started charging them for the time I spend talking to them. It deters some clients for striking up long conversations about their content, but it also encourages many clients to pay for my time for my consulting services.

Publishing a blog post every week isn’t very difficult even if you have to pay for every blog post. The advantages outweigh the cost. Of course, it would be easier if you could write and publish blog posts on your own, but then, you may be good at your profession, but it may not be possible for you to come up with high-quality content, especially on a weekly basis. I know a client who is an excellent writer and in fact, in her field, she writes better than I do, but she cannot be consistent. This is because she is not a professional writer. She is a technology consultant.

Anyway, although there are some great, immediate benefits of publishing a blog post every week, if you can afford it, at least for the first 2-3 months when you kickstart your content marketing campaign, try to publish a blog post every day. This gives you lots of content to offer to Google. Your website gets crawled every day and hence, new content becomes available to your target audience faster. You can maintain the buzz around your website on social networking websites. Your search engine rankings improve within 40-60 days.

 

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.

How internal linking improves your SEO and lowers the bounce rate

How to use interlinking to improve SEO and bring down bounce rate

How to use interlinking to improve SEO and bring down bounce rate

When you are writing new blog posts and web pages or updating existing content, you should liberally use internal linking, or interlinking, as rightly pointed out by this Content Marketing Institute update.

What is internal linking?

By now I have over 1200 blog posts and web pages on my blog. It means, I may have covered a wide range of topics pertaining to content writing, copywriting and to an extent, search engine optimization and content marketing.

Nonetheless, I’m continuously writing new content on new topics. While writing on these new topics, I may bring up some older topics that I may have covered. Instead of explaining those older topics again, I can simply link to them.

For example, if I want to say something about content writing for email marketing, for more information, I can use a link to my Content writer & copywriter for email marketing web page.

Further, to share with you some more insights on how to carry out a successful email marketing campaign, I may talk about my previously published 15 ultimate content writing hacks for successful email marketing blog post.

These are hyperlinks to my own web pages and blog posts. This is called internal linking or interlinking. When your link to pieces of content from your own website, from within your own website, you are practicing internal linking.

You can interlink to your existing content in multiple ways, including

  • Top navigation
  • Sidebar
  • Footer navigation
  • From other blog posts and web pages

How do you find relevant links for interlinking?

The above CMI link suggests some good ways to find link worthy content under your own domain. You can use Google Search Console to find popular links on your website. You can also use the premium version of Yoast SEO.

There is also a plugin called Yet Another Related Posts in WordPress that embeds related posts under every new post that you publish. I have been using this plugin for quite a while.

I also use the Google search command “site:credible-content.com search term” to find relevant content.

For example, if I want to find relevant content on content writing for SEO that I have already published on my website, I will search for “site:credible-content.com SEO content writing” (without quotes) and this brings up all the blog posts and web pages I have written on the topic. Then, I can check which blog posts and web pages I want to link to.

Interlinking must be relevant. It must be used contextually otherwise it will be counter-productive as Google may consider it spam.

The benefit of interlinking is that when the Google crawler is crawling your content, it will also find the links it may not have covered yet or may not have crawled and indexed recently. It also brings down your bounce rate because your visitors click those links and check out other parts of your website.