Last Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Short or Long Blog Posts: Does Length Matter?

I can't remember which websites or blogs, but I have read that longer posts tend to do well. Gone are the days where 400-500 word posts were in demand.

Whenever I'm looking for freelance writing jobs, most clients now want posts that are between 1500-2500 words long, or even higher. Perhaps they already realized that longer (and quality) posts are ranked higher in the SERPS.

However, I think that length only matters if your "purpose" is to become more visible in the search engines.

If your purpose is to only create interesting and shareable content that has a high possibility of going "viral," then even short posts would do. Examples are:

- News and entertainment websites that mostly write listicle articles with very few descriptions for each item such as Buzzfeed

- Recipe websites such as Delish

- Or even the blog of Seth Godin, the founder and CEO of Yoyodyne

Despite only having short posts, they still garner several likes, shares and engagement from their target readers.

Does length matter in blog posts? What are your thoughts about this?

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What Do I Need to Learn to Become an SEO Freelance Writer?

seo freelance writer

As you are browsing the freelance writing job boards, I am quite sure that you have stumbled upon several ads like these:

“SEO freelance writer needed”

“Wanted: Writer who knows about SEO”

If you are just starting out your freelance writing career, you may not know what SEO is. 

To give you a glimpse on SEO, it stands for search engine optimization wherein different techniques are used to boost a website’s ranking on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. And one of the most effective and most commonly used techniques to improve a website’s ranking is through writing optimized or SEO content.

Though SEO rather sounds too technical, anyone could be an SEO freelance writer as long as you possess great writing skills because writing SEO content could be easily learned. 

If you are wondering what SEO content is, it is just like writing ordinary content, but you’ll need to make it a lot friendlier not only to your readers, but also to the web, through following some special writing techniques.

So, in this post, I will show you some of the most important things that you need to learn to jumpstart your SEO writing career.

Familiarize yourself with SEO jargons.

To become an SEO freelance writer, you need to familiarize yourself with the common terminologies to better understand your client’s instructions. To help you out, I have listed some of the basic SEO jargons that you will frequently encounter:

Keyword – an SEO jargon for word or string of words

Primary keyword – the most important keyword; also known as main keyword, root keyword or focus keyword

Secondary keywords – act as supporting keywords for the primary keyword; words that are relevant with the primary keyword.

Primary keyword - freelance writing
Secondary keywords - content writing, web content writing, blogging

Long tail keywords – keywords that are longer and more specific; usually 3-5 plus words long

what is freelance writing
definition of freelance writing

Keyword density – the number of times a keyword has to appear on your content

Keyword placement – location of keywords

Keyword research – finding the actual search terms that people type on their search engines; keywords researched are then used to optimize content

Permalink – link or URL of the web page

Meta title – the title of the web page that appears on search engine results; ideal character count is between 50-60 characters

Meta description – the summary description of the web page that appears on search engine results; ideal character count is between 150-160 characters

Meta tags – the keywords that describe your web page; meta tags are usually your primary keyword and their equivalent synonymous terms

Primary keyword - dog training
Meta tags - dog training, how to train dogs, training dogs

Understand keyword density (but don’t think too much about it).

Back in the early 2000’s, keyword density is what matters most for the search engines. However, today, it is not that relevant anymore, since keyword placement is now a more important ranking factor.

Nevertheless, you will still find clients who are a stickler about keyword density. So as not to leave you in the dark, I will still share with you a couple of things about it.

Say for example, your client told you to write a 500-word article with a 1% keyword density.

To calculate the exact number of times the keyword has to appear, multiply the article’s word count with the required keyword density percentage.

500 x 0.01 = 5

So, for a 500-word article, the keyword has to appear 5 times.

The ideal keyword density percentage only falls between 1-2% for every 500 words to avoid keyword stuffing. 

Incorporate your keywords naturally.

Writing SEO content gained a bad rap among other writers. They say that it is robotic, reads unnatural and aims to only please the search engines, not the readers.

But let’s take a look on the blogs of SEO experts like Brian Dean and Neil Patel. Do they write robotic posts? No.

While it’s true that there are tons of SEO content that are of poor quality, I think the fault also lies on the capability of the writer to incorporate the keywords naturally.

Here’s a tip. When you write SEO content, just write normally as you would. Don’t mind about the required keywords. Just write.

After you have finished writing, read your article again and analyze which sections could you possibly insert your client’s target keywords.

Of course, to make your keywords fit naturally, you’ll have to do a bit of editing. To make sure that you have written an SEO-friendly post, you may use these tools.

Learn about keyword placement.

Keyword placement is said to be among the most important factors in ranking web pages. Though this might not be a definite rule, web pages will have a higher chance of ranking when certain keywords are found on the following parts of your content:

  • Title
  • Permalink
  • Meta title
  • Meta description
  • Subheadings
  • Intro, body and conclusion

When I’m writing SEO content for clients, I usually receive these instructions for keyword placement:

Primary keyword should appear 1x on title, permalink, meta title, meta description, and any of the subheadings (if applicable). Distribute keywords evenly on intro, body and conclusion. Don’t lump keywords in one place.

Learn how to do keyword research.

Most clients will readily provide the SEO freelance writer a list of their target keywords which are researched by themselves or their SEO specialists.

Keyword research is generally the job of an SEO specialist, so as a writer, all you have to do is creatively and naturally insert their target keywords when writing SEO content.

However, in some SEO writing jobs, the client will ask you to do keyword research yourself and leave everything to your own discretion, since they expect you to be the expert on this.

Keyword research is a bit complex, but you could easily learn about it through reading Brian Dean’s keyword research guide. In this guide, you’ll learn how to find and judge the value of keywords that you could use for your client’s content needs.

Wrapping up

While some writers irked on the idea of writing SEO content, I personally believe that learning how to write one will be advantageous to all web content writers, because today, more and more clients are realizing the importance of SEO for their business websites. Improved search engine visibility will bring them more money on the table. And SEO freelance writers are just among the several persons who could help them achieve their goals.

Writing SEO content does not mean that you can’t write engaging content. So, instead of hating SEO, start loving it and make it as one of your strong points.

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Why I Chose to Be a Multi-Niche Freelance Writer

I've been an avid follower of several freelance writing experts, and I noticed that among their most common piece of advice is to pick a single niche in your freelance writing career.

Because if you do, you'll be positioning yourself as an industry expert, you can charge more for your writing services, and you'll always be the top pick of your target clients in the vast sea of competition.

I find their points really convincing. However, I still prefer being a generalist or a multi-niche writer due to the following reasons:

1. I crave for variety.

While I could position myself as a freelance writer for hire who specializes in the health or medical field, I've confirmed to myself that focusing on a single niche isn't really my thing.

One time, it was by chance that I had only gotten clients in the health niche. I had written about nutrition tips, weight loss tips and medical conditions for six straight months, and I became really bored.

I don't hate writing about health because it is actually easy for me. I'm a Registered Nurse. I'm familiar with how the body works. And I even understand the difficult medical terms.

But it just so happened that I got bored writing about the same stuff for consecutive months. You may think that I don't really enjoy writing about health, because if I truly enjoy writing about it, I won't get bored with it, right?

But let's be honest here. That's not how it always work. Imagine eating your favorite food for several consecutive days. Won't you get tired of it?

2. It helps me learn something different every time.

Do you like learning new stuff? I do.

Since research is a sister to writing, we always learn something when we are creating our piece. However, if you keep confining yourself to writing a single niche, you'll be unable to expand your knowledge in different areas.

Sure, you could do your personal reading and research about other things that interest you, but do you have time for that? Not always... But if you have a multiple writing niche, you could kill two birds with one stone.

Say, if you have clients on the health, entrepreneurship, digital marketing and pet niches, you could greatly increase your knowledge in these four different fields while you are writing them.

3.  Not all businesses need your freelance writing services.

Freelance writing experts say that you will never run out of clients even if you specialize in a single niche, because tons of businesses are out there - which is absolutely true.

But the question is, do they really need your freelance writing services? While there are several businesses created every minute, some are not really capable yet of hiring the service of a freelance writer.

And if it is really true that you will never run out of clients, then why do some freelance writing experts say that there will be an unstable flow of income in certain months? Meaning, there are really times that businesses won't need you even if you market yourself hard.

Even big companies such as Facebook does not make themselves exclusive to being a social media platform, but they too explored other fields such as gaming and VR. This is comparable to having a freelance writing business. If you explore other niches, there will be more opportunities for you to grow.

What are your thoughts about this matter? Which do you prefer? Specializing in a single niche or multiple niches?

Last Updated: Saturday, January 7, 2017

My Blogging and Freelance Writing Goals for 2017

I never had goals through the course of my 4+ years of freelance writing experience, because I actually do not prioritize it. I have a full-time job, so I only accept freelance writing gigs whenever clients message me. I don't actively pitch, or consistently apply in writing job boards.

However, during the second half of 2016, it got me thinking. It made me want to pursue freelance writing as my full-time career. Write what you want and whenever you want. I don't really care about its perks of writing "wherever" you want, because I hate traveling.

Today, I just finished reading Alicia Rades' latest blog post which is also about her 2017 freelance writing goals. So, it made me want to write my own goals for this year. Here they are:

1. Write 4-6 blog posts to all of my blogs each month.

I have 4 blogs in all. This one, and the rest are all hobby blogs. Looking back to each of my blogs, I have quite neglected them except for this one. So, for this year, I'll be managing my time more wisely, and squeeze in my blogging tasks after my daytime job, or before I login to work, and blog heavily on weekends.

2. Submit 5 guest posts by the end of January 2017, then 1 guest post every month.

This year, I'll prioritize guest posting, since most clients today ask published works with your byline as writing samples. Though I've been writing for a couple of years already, I haven't guest posted a lot because what I do is mostly ghost blogging work.

3. Pitch 500 prospects per month.

Carol Tice of Make A Living Writing (and one of the writers I look up to), always emphasizes the importance of the volume of marketing your services as a freelance writer. If you don't aggressively pitch your targeted clients, you won't be able to get off the ground quickly.

4. Earn at least a freelance writing income of $20,500 by the end of 2017.

Since I still have a full-time job, my freelance writing income goals are not yet that big. Plus, I feel like I would be starting all over again in my freelance writing career because I didn't actively market myself as a freelance writer for hire.

5. Monetize my other blogs and earn a passive income of $500 over the course of the year.

Ideally, this is my dream job - to earn a passive income through my blogs. One of my blogs is already giving results, and ranking in the search engines without me doing anything. It's just a very small niche blog, so it's fairly easy to rank.

Some of my other goals not related to blogging or freelance writing are:

1. Read 2 English novels per month.

I love buying $0.50 books in our local bookstore, but I never find time to read them because I often feel stressed after my daytime job. All I want to do after is sleep.

2. Learn and create 1 graphic design per month.

I'm a self-taught Photoshop user. When I was in college, I was inspired to study Photoshop after seeing our senior graphic designer whipped up some cool designs for our school publication. I even dreamed of becoming a graphic designer, but I really don't have the talent to create original and awesome designs, so I need to study hard.

So, that's it. These are my blogging and freelance writing goals for 2017. How about you? What are your goals?