Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy New Year

Ok.. so the last blog entry here in this blog is dated 1st October 2010. Wow! That is some gap between the posts!

To begin with, here's wishing the all of you a very happy new year. May this New Year bring in your lives all the love and luck that you wish for.

Now moving on to as to where i had disappeared for so long.. To begin with, the year 2010 ended on a very sweet note for me.. We were blessed with a beautiful daughter on the 26th of October. :) As expected, things post that have been pretty hectic. Well no, hectic is surely one understatement! With a baby at home, the requirement to be around it is 24x7. Taking a break from work was a conscious decision for me.

So now after 3 months and after finally getting into some sort of a routine and help at home I am attempting to get back to my assignments and work all over again. The process would be slow but yes, steady and regular. I now expect myself to get back to my routine with my blog too and update it regularly with blog entries.

So let us now get back to our writing passion and wish that this new year has some awesome and interesting writing assignments in line for us to talk about and discuss here!


Friday, October 1, 2010

Personal Name vs Business Name

I have been thinking on this topic for a while now. I freelance under my personal name and have a website too for it. But I have personally come across many people who freelance under a business name. So which choice seems apt? I think it is more of a personal decision and depends on what you perceive your business to be.

Let us take it up one by one. I chose to work under my personal name because since I was starting out as a fresher I wanted to concentrate more on acquiring clients rather than entangling myself in the intricacies involved in branding a start up. Also, to be frank, I wanted to initially test the waters and see as to if I can establish myself successfully in this field. Apart from this, I feel there are several other factors too which can make the choice of using your personal name as your brand name a better option.

To start with, it allows you to convey a sense of personal involvement to your client. In a way it provides to the client a belief that the work delivered by you will bear your personal stamp and signify your true capabilities. But all this does not take away the disadvantages that are associated with using your personal name. To some clients, the use of your personal name as your business name might make it sound too casual and non professional. Also, it might get a bit difficult for you if you wish to sell the USP of your business by using your personal name. Pronouncing your name and remembering the same for future references too might be an issue for some clients living in other countries.

So does that make a business name a better option? Well, I see some disadvantages here too. Not only is the job of branding your business expensive but at the same time it needs to capture the true essence of your business too. The process of registering your business name to is a bit lengthy and involves a lot of paper work. What is also important is the fact that with a business name once in place it would get difficult for you to re invent or start something new under the same brand name. This is because the existing business name might not capture the true feel of the new business that you want to start.

So what should one do? I say go with your heart! If you are starting out afresh it is a sensible thought to start with your personal name. Once you see your business grooming according to your expectations you can then switch over to acquire a more professional sounding business name.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

SEO Articles That Can Earn Their Worth

Many a times have I got assignments which have required me to write SEO optimized articles. The clients have sent the keywords that they wish me to work around and incorporate in the article. The basic aim of these SEO articles is to allow the client to get a favorable rank for a particular keyword on major search engines. This in turn would help them get more traffic to their website who seek information regarding that particular keyword.

So how does one approach with the task of writing for these SEO articles and most importantly make them successful towards delivering the desired result. Each one of us might be having their own approach here. I would like to share as to how I go about when presented with this task.

1. Research
I enter the primary keyword provided to me by the client in Google and see the kind of results that come my way. I read the top listings from the results and try to get an idea on what kind of content is generally posted. This also allows me to analyze what is NOT present already and therefore gives me some points to work on. Further, it also allows me to analyze the kind of content people like to read on that particular keyword.

2. Secondary Keywords
Even if the client may have provided me with 1 primary keyword I try to look around for some secondary keywords too. These secondary keywords provide the article with certainty and reliability that search engines generally look for when indexing an article. This strategy would also help rope in more visitors to your article as all readers might not use just the primary keyword for their searches. If there are sufficient related words in your article then the reading audience would increase.

3. Positioning Keywords
When starting to write the content, it is very important to know as to where you should insert the primary keywords so as to get the maximum SEO value from them. Ideally, your primary keywords should certainly figure in
• The title
• The Meta Tag
• The first 2 lines of the first paragraph
• In all the heading and sub headings
• Evenly dispersed throughout the content
• In the anchor text for the links made in the article

It is always a good idea to provide your client with something extra. Not only will it make him realise your expertise on that particular area but at the same time maximize your chances of getting more work from him in the future.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Contract For Freelancers – A Necessary Evil?

There is nothing like the independence that comes with the job of working as a freelancer. You not only have control over the kind of work you do and your work schedule but at the same time are not answerable to anyone except your client. This does make this field of freelancing very attractive and fetch able. But then working as a freelancer does involve its own share of risks and issues.

The biggest being the scare of your clients not paying up for the work that you did for them. The other issue may involve the client deciding to change the deliverable initially agreed upon during the course of the project. So is there a particular umbrella of protection that a freelancer can make use of in such a situation? Well yes, there is the option of using a contract.

There are many of us who are usually not that comfortable with the option of putting forward a contract to their clients. The sense that the freelancer does not trust the prospective client tends to loom at large. But then there are situations which are best presented under the protective shade of a contract. This brings us to the next question; when does a contract become necessary?

The situations here would generally depend on a case to case basis but generally there are a few situations which can be generalized here.

  • To begin with, writing a single 400 word article does not need to come with a contract but yes, writing 200 of such articles for a single project would suffice the needs of having a contract.
  • The second case would be involving projects which are associated with large sums of payments. Having a contractual binding here would make the client liable to pay for the services that you would be in turn delivering.
  • Most of us depend a lot on the trust factor and might not go in for a contract with an individual whom we might trust. But it is a good idea to be fair in your dealings with your clients and come up with a contract irrespective of your trust factor with the client. Not only does it convey your professionalism but at the same time takes it in writing that both you as well as your client are serious regarding the project.
  • A long term project which might include yearly renewals too is best suited under the gambit of a contract.
  • A pro bono project or a project done as a favor for a relative or a friend too does not necessarily need a contractual agreement.
Ok, so with the necessity of a contract being clear we now come to the point as to how to come up with a contract. You need not be a lawyer to draft a contract. All that you need is to be clear as to what terms and conditions you wish to put for the particular project. A good contract must ensure that:
  • It is stated in simple and easy to understand language;
  • The content must not be ambiguous;
  • The relevant facts regarding the project should be included in it.
So what are the points that generally all contracts must include?

  • Deliverables/ Services Offered: The contract should clearly state what is expected from this project and what all will be delivered by the freelancer towards the same.
  • Time Frame/Schedule: The time frame expected towards completion of the project too must be clearly stated in the contract.
  • Payment Terms: This ideally includes the total agreed payment for the project as well as the payment cycle decided upon. If there are any chances wherein a renewal of the pricing terms in the middle of the project might be sought either by the client or the freelancer then that too needs to be mentioned here. Any advance payments, charges for delayed payment etc should be clearly stated.
  • Termination Clause : This should include that under what conditions can the project be terminated mid way and as to what will be the compensation plan in light of such a termination.
  • Arbitration and Jurisdiction: This clause is all about providing information that in case of a dispute “how” and “where” will the case be taken up.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

American English vs British English: Which Is Your Pick?

Recently I got a mail from a friend who wanted some information regarding the British style of writing. He was in the process of drafting an article for a UK based magazine and had to stick to their style of writing. Though I consider myself as no expert here but whatever information and knowledge I had on it I shared it with him. This made me realise that why not share the same information here too. I am sure that there are many people out there with the same issue at hand. It becomes all the more important when we have to decide which one of these to use for drafting content of our websites.

When trying to differentiate the British English from the American English, there are a few aspects where they differ. Let us start with the spellings.

Most of us are aware that there are certain words which the American and the British spell differently.
British English ; American English
centre ; center
theatre ; theater
colour ; color
catalogue ; catalog
programme ; program
neighbour ; neighbor

The next point differentiating them would be the vocabulary. There are some words and terms that are either used only in British or American English.
British English ; American English
lift ; elevator
boot ; trunk
autumn ; fall
litter ; garbage
crossroad ; crossing
trousers ; pants

Then we have plurals. There are a number of nouns that don’t have a plural form in British English while they do have a plural form in American English.
British English ; American English
types of accommodation ; accommodation
types of food ; foods
a lot of fruit ; many foods
strands of hair ; hairs

The next big difference which creeps is the way that the British use their grammar. It includes how they use their “present perfects” and “adverbs” in their sentence formations.

So which version of these two languages should one use on their website?

  • If you wish your website to cater to a local population then the best way ahead would be to use the English language variant used there. This will make the readers there to accept your style of writing much easily.
  • This means that if you have a US based website then you should use American English and likewise for a UK based website the best pick would be British English.

But what do you do if you wish your website to be viewed as a website catering to the international clientele?

The solution for this would depend on your main target audience. If your prospective clients are primarily from Europe then the website content should be written in British English. On the other hand if you wish to target the American and Asian community, then the preferred pick would be American English.

Whatever be your pick regarding the variant of the English language the golden rule to follow is to stick to any one form of the language and stick to it while drafting the content of the entire website.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Lists And A Little Bit More....

Aloha! It is again the time of the year for self review of my work, and to seek control over my TO DO list which I fear has now garnered more items than what I was hoping to see there!

After quite some deliberation I have decided to add my pricing in INR too on my website. I had till now mentioned my content writing prices only in USD. This was because 90% of the assignments which came my way were from clients abroad. I would respond to any price queries sent by Indians wanting to know about the same in INR via emails. But lately these kind of enquires became a little too many therefore frankly speaking, in order to lessen my burden I am putting up my price list in INR too.

Also up for some fresh lease of life is the portfolio section on my website. This work has been lurking on the list for quite some time now. I need to add some of my latest work there and sort out some of the older websites that are there in the list.

This reminds me that I also need to update the blog too with my new projects. My my, I really need to take control on this list now. The only question is WHEN??????

Ok, so let me do a small bit and write something about my latest project. This one is different. Yes, I know I say the same for all my projects!! But what to do, this too is different and that too in two perspectives. 1. I am doing it for a friend and 2. It is a website dedicated for pets, something which again is new for me.

The website is still in its building stages and so is its final name. It is supposed to be a one stop solution to take care of all your needs regarding your pets. It includes information on their diet, their style trends, their health and other aspects. It also prospects to have a section on their day care support near to your place, a DIY section for projects that you can do for your pets as well as other small nuggets of information related to your pets. Something new for sure but yes, interesting too! One thing would have surely helped, It would have been easier had I been a pet lover! :)


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Business Cards - Ayes or Noes?

For quite some time now I have been contemplating on the idea of having business cards designed for myself. The point which has kept me off till now is to decide whether I want it or I need it.

As a freelancer web content writer a big chunk of my business came online via referrals. This in a way negated any need of having a business card for my line of work. Therefore it was the “want” which was the over powering emotion here. The justification of the “need” came with some careful analysis.

I realized that a business card is the perfect brand identity that my freelance work could need. It would sum up my work and details on a small piece of paper what I would otherwise have to spend 2 minutes describing. In a world where business is driven by contacts, my business card would be the perfect leave-behind-imprint for my freelancing work.

In my line of work I have seen that good work can come from unexpected avenues too. So you never know that the person standing ahead of you in a queue on the coffee shop might be on the lookout for a writer himself. A business card given to him then and there might just land you your next project!

Since most of my work come as referrals from my old clients I feel that it is a good idea if I would go ahead and leave some business card with my clients who can then on inquiry from others regarding my work pass on my card to them. A pretty neat way of getting referrals huh!

Ok. So the business cards are final then. The next task would be to look around for designs and ideas for the same. Seems like a long way ahead here.. !!