Viewing all posts by Heather Lloyd-Martin.

2013’s 11 hottest SEO copywriting posts

Spinal TapAnd, like that, 2013 is almost over.


Last year, I recapped 10 of the most popular posts 0f 2013. Many of those posts were of the “back-to-basics” variety – people were (finally) beginning to wake up to the concept of “quality content” and needed some trusted pointers.

This year, I decided to turn it up to a Spinal Tap eleven.

What did I learn from this year’s favorites? Folks are a little more content-savvy. The most popular posts included higher-level, actionable tips (this definitely surprised me – especially after last year’s favorites!)

As always, the motivational posts did well. Many writers lead fairly isolated lives and are hiding behind their laptop. A little motivation can go a long way. It’s good to know you’re not alone.

This is our last post of 2013. We’ll spend the rest of the year preparing for 2014 and enjoying time with family and friends. And maybe … just maybe … spending some quality “away from the computer” time, too. :)

Thank you so much for reading my blog, sharing posts with your colleagues and writing your comments. There are quite a few SEO/writing blogs out there, and I’m honored that you choose to spend your valuable time reading mine. I appreciate it!

Here’s to a fantastic 2014! Just let me know how I can help.

Happy New Year!


(P.S. – If you’ve been thinking about taking the Certification training, watch your inbox on New Years’ Eve ::hint, hint:: Deciding to be a better writer is one of the best gifts you can give yourself in the new year!)

#11: Quit getting paid peanuts. 10 tips for freelance writers

One of the most comment complaints I hear is, “My clients are cheap. They don’t pay me enough money to do this.” Here’s a reality check: It’s not them, it’s you. In this post, I give freelance writers a firm (but gentle) reality slap. You can control your income, but that means learning to value your worth. This is a smart read for new and established freelance copywriters.

#10: Wooing the Googlebot: 5 tips to an irresistible XML site map

How do I love thee, Googlebot? Let me count the ways. If the thought of “XML site maps” causes you to get a brain cramp, pour yourself a strong cup of coffee and read this post. Guest poster Chris Simmance does a great job breaking down why site maps are important, plus he provides some easy-to-follow best-practice formatting tips.

#9: Why you can’t fly solo as a freelance copywriter

Sure, you may feel like Superman (or Superwoman.) You may believe you don’t need any help. But know this: the most successful freelance copywriters understand the value of professional help. The next time you find yourself thinking, “I’ll try to tweak this contract myself. How bad can it be, right?” step AWAY from the email and read this post instead. You’ll be thanking Amy Teeple, the writer, for her sage advice. Trust me.

#8: How to build an internal content team: Do this, not that

Want to build an awesome content team by leveraging your existing resources? Yes, you can make this happen – if you follow some very important rules. If “how do I create a strong writing team?” is keeping you up at night, this blog post will help put your mind at ease. You’ll learn what steps to take (yes, do this!) and what will virtually guarantee failure.

#7: Yes, failure is an option!

Are you feeling bad because you “failed?” You may have lost a client, a job – maybe even a relationship. Don’t dwell in your failure. Learn from it! This post was inspired by a fantastic LinkedIn discussion – and hopefully, it will inspire you, too. Don’t forget to watch the cute corgi video at the end!

#6: 5 Easy-to-give SEO gifts that will make you a better writer in 2014

Question: What is an SEO copywriter without a web presence? Answer: Hard to find. Ready to up your game in 2014? Richard Hostler from Brookstone shares how you can improve your writing skills and rock the new year. Make sure you check out the comments. The questions (and answers) are excellent!

#5: How to thrive post-Hummingbird. A guide for SEO content creators

Is SEO writing dead? Heck no. But Google’s Hummingbird algorithm did change the game. This great roundup post by Tracy Mallette shares some great advice from industry experts.

#4: 2013 recap for SEO copywriters. What’s cool, what sucked

2013 was certainly an … interesting … year. There were lots of great changes – and some change we could have lived without. My recap explains 2013’s big changes and how SEO copywriters can thrive in today’s post-Hummingbird world. My big piece of advice to SEO writers: Get educated or get out.

#3: SEO copywriting advice from search guru Barry Schwartz

The big takeaway: “Become the expert.” I’ve known Barry for years and he is one super-smart guy (and nice, too!) This interview with Barry discusses how to handle [not provided] keyword data, how copywriters can prepare for the future of search and his incredible time management skills. This is a great article for in-house and freelance writers.

#2: 7 Call-to-action techniques and examples that work

Yes, including a call-to-action in your sales content is crucial. But how do you do it the right way – the way that gains maximum conversion rates? This great post by Shanna Mallon explains how to use trusted techniques like social proof, overcoming objections and  “sweetening the deal” to boost conversions.

#1: How Google attempts to understand what a page or query is about based upon word relationships

“The future of rankings of search results may rely upon Google building a concept-based knowledge base that understands the relationship between words, as well as probabilities that a certain relationship was intended when words are used on a page.” Wow! Powerful stuff – and so different than Google’s “shove the keyphrases into the content” days. This guest post by Bill Slawski is a must-read for anyone writing online content.

2013 recap for SEO copywriters: What’s cool, what sucked

Be different2013 was a big year for SEO copywriters.

It wasn’t so long ago that I was railing against content farms and spammy search results. This year, Google has made some major strides that changed the game and improved the SERPs. Heck, Google’s search results have gotten good enough that Jill Whalen left the industry. And that’s saying something.

Let’s talk about what happened this year – and what it means for SEO copywriters:

What’s cool

Google is definitely tightening the content quality noose. Techniques that used to work, such as “stitching” articles and spammy anchor text links in press releases are no longer considered OK (for more about press releases, here’s a great explanation from the Bruce Clay blog.)

Plus, the Hummingbird algorithm reinforces that writers don’t have to shovel keywords into the content. Yes, know your keyphrases. Understand the reader’s intent. But focus your writing on the reader – not on what you think Google “needs to see” for a top search ranking.

Does this mean that SEO copywriting is dead? Or dying? Or it’s so easy now that anyone can do it?  No. As AJ Kohn said in a Google+ post, “The ‘write naturally’ movement misses the fact that most people don’t write well.” True dat.

What it does mean is Google is finally going back to basics. Old-school print copywriters knew that every word they wrote needed to be laser-focused on the reader. We never wrote an additional 200 words of brochure copy because we thought we “needed to.” We wrote what we needed to write to tell the story.

Yes, storytelling is a big deal. Learn it. Do it. 

The key here is “telling the story” – and telling it in a unique and compelling way. In past blog posts, I discussed the importance of “commanding SEO content.” Content that’s so unique, compelling and powerful that it deserves a top spot.  As Seth Godin says, “The only reason to build a website is to change someone.”  If you’re just going through the paces and writing stuff because you’re trying to make Google happy, you’re doing it wrong.

Google doesn’t buy from you. Your customers do.

I see these changes as a good thing. I’m not nervous about the future. I’m excited. Because – finally – the conversation is starting to change. It’s not “how many words can we write for Google?” It’s “how can we create content that’s truly powerful and tells the story?”

What sucked

Google’s new Keyword Tool is pretty miserable for keyphrase research. There may be a writer who loves using it – but I haven’t talked to him or her yet. My recommendation is that Google is good for “training wheels” keyphrase research. But if you want to really turn your research up to 11, it means working with a more robust keyphrase research tool.

That means writers need to invest in something like Wordtracker, Keyword Discovery or their other favorite tool of choice (which is something they should be doing anyway.)

Of course, Google’s decision to list all organic keyphrases as [not provided] was a major kick in the teeth. Once upon a time, it was easy to see the keyphrases that were driving the most traffic. Now, things are a little more tricky. Can it be done? Sure. But you need to know how to do it. Tracy Mallette’s [not provided] roundup provides a great overview on what this means and what to do.

What SEO copywriters need to do in 2014

First, you need to be prepared to up your writing game. If you’re an OK writer, it’s time to put the time in to get really, really good. Now is not the time to sit back and figure your writing is “good enough.”

Good enough just won’t cut it anymore.

Ann Handley wrote a fantastic article about how 2014 is the year of good writing.  One of my favorite quotes from her article is:

Next—in 2014 and beyond—comes the notion that good writing is the foundation of all good content, whether that content is a 140-character tweet or the product pages of your website or your content marketing infographic.

I. Love. This.

Second, if you want to truly succeed as an SEO copywriter – whether you work in-house or freelance – you need to keep up with the latest information. It’s scary how many smart SEO copywriters don’t know what rel=author is. I mention and I can see their eyes glaze over. When I mention Hummingbird, they don’t understand what it means and how it’s important.

And that’s sad.

You have a responsibility to your clients, your company and yourself to stay informed. That doesn’t mean you need to be an SEO expert. But you do need to keep your head in the game. Yes, improve your writing skills. But know what’s happening out in the wide world of Google. For every thing you don’t know, you’re missing opportunities. You’re leaving money on the table. You’re falling behind.

In short: get educated or get out.

There are a host of resources (free and paid) that can help you. Use them. Learn from them. Consider them business expenses that are just as important as your phone, your laptop and your software. Because they are.

Like Ann, I see 2014 as a very exciting year for SEO copywriters. I see lots of opportunity – and lots of revenue for smart SEO copywriters.

I’m ready. Are you?

Let’s rock it. Together.

Ready to learn some advanced B2B writing skills? Check out the B2B SEO Copywriting Certificate courses – all taught by industry experts.


Do you love ‘em and leave ‘em online?

Imagine this…

You’ve finally gotten a date with the girl (or guy) of your dreams. He or she wines you, dines you and treats you like royalty. You’re enamored. You’re blown away. You’re willing to do anything to keep the good vibrations going.

Then, the relationship reaches the … um … conversion phase. You’re on cloud nine …

… until the person never calls you again.

If you’ve had this happen to you, you know how it feels. You go from telling your friends that you’re majorly “in like” with the person to disclosing, “Yeah, now I feel like an idiot. They dropped me as soon as they got what they wanted. I knew it was too good to be true.”

This scenario happens online all the time. 

In fact, it’s true confession time. This recently happened to me.

I just ordered a Vitamix online. This is no blender. This is a freakin’ blending powerhouse. I had received their emails, read their sales copy and let them seduce me with their bad-ass blending stories.

I held out for months, but I finally gave in. I pulled the trigger on a highly expensive blender purchase.

And ::poof:: like that, it was like I never existed. Days later, I have no idea if my product shipped. There’s been no communication. And now I’m thinking, “Wow, the least they could do is send me a ‘we’re working on your shipment’ note.”

After calling the company, I learned that it could take 8 to 15 days before they ship the product. This would have been nice to know prior to pulling the trigger.

I actually regretted the purchase. I went from “Yay, a Vitamix” to “Wow, what a pain.”

Sadly, this “love ‘em and leave ‘em” scenario is pretty common online. For instance:

– Companies that offer huge discounts to acquire customers – yet they don’t extend comparable discounts to existing clients (Ahem, Comcast.)

– Companies that take days (sometimes weeks) to respond to a customer’s questions via email (I’m looking at you, Citibank.)

– Companies that put you through phone tree hell and shift you around to different representatives before you get a real answer (Hello, CenturyLink.)

The common denominator? Things are all hunky dory until you convert. Once you’re a current customer, there’s no sense of urgency.

Although I’m naming larger companies, I’ve seen the “small guys” do this, too. It’s typically not done out of maliciousness or spite.

They are just so busy focusing on customer acquisition that they forget to take care of their current clients.

Fortunately, there are some ways to shift this thinking. And smart copywriting can help!

– Send a note to your clients a couple weeks after their purchase. Ask if they have any questions or if there’s a way you can help (and yes, this can be automated.)

– Did you get an email? Follow-up that business day (or the next business day.) Don’t leave people hanging and wondering, “Did they get my message?” A quick note saying, “I’ll get back to you shortly” makes all the difference.

– Offer cool discounts or incentives to current good customers. There is nothing that makes someone happier than an unexpected gift. Treat them well.

– Send current clients a note expressing how grateful you are for their business. Because you ARE grateful. If it wasn’t for your existing client base, you wouldn’t be able to pay your staff, keep the lights on or draw a salary.

– Did you mess up? It happens. Own it and write a personal note to your clients. They’ll appreciate the effort.

The more you take care of your current clients, the more they’ll purchase from you in the long term. Plus, they’ll say wonderful things about you (rather than writing snarky blog posts/tweets about your “customer service.”) :)

After all, wouldn’t you rather have a long-term online relationship than an unsatisfying one-night stand?

Are you a B2B writer? Check out the new B2B SEO Copywriting Certificate classes – all taught by recognized experts. Sign up now for a very special price!


Happy Thanksgiving!

ThanksgivingHappy Thanksgiving!

I’m grateful for so many things this year. Here is a partial list…

– I love what I do and I have fun doing it.

– I have fantastic friends who love me, despite my eccentricities. :)

– I have an incredible husband.

– And I’m grateful for you!  Thank you for reading my blog, writing your comments and sharing my posts with your friends and colleagues. I appreciate it more than you know.

May you enjoy a wonderful day filled with fun, family, friends and lots of yummy food!

Have a wonderful holiday!  “Talk” to you next week.

Gobble, gobble –

– Heather

Yes, failure is an option!

Yes! It's OK to fail!When’s the last time you’ve blown it big time?

Maybe you passed up a great job opportunity.

Or you screwed up with a client and they fired you.

Or you started a new business that lost more money than it made.

Or you divorced who you thought was your soul mate.

People tend to believe there’s something shameful in “failing.” They don’t talk about their screw-ups. They don’t think about them. Instead, the failure weighs them down like a huge boulder. Every time they go to do something different – get in a new relationship, start a new business or land another client – the failure boulder crushes their spirit.

“Are you crazy,” it says. “You remember what happened before. Why are you even THINKING about this?”

So, you contract. You pass on opportunities. Life gets smaller and more scary.

My response to that: Screw failure!

Here’s a secret: You know that person you admire? The person who has the “perfect life” with the “perfect income?”

They’ve messed up time and time again. They’ve just learned to deal with it.

I was brought up in a “failure is not an option” household. If I got solid “A’s” on my report card, my father wanted to know why I didn’t get A+’s. If I was #2, there was a huge discussion about why I wasn’t #1.

Maybe you got the same message.

I learned – gradually – to fail. Sometimes, I didn’t land the client I wanted. Sometimes, my relationships didn’t work out. Sometimes, my business took turns I didn’t want it to take.

Oddly enough, there was always an upside to failure. My next relationship was always better. I eventually landed a cool new client. And the weird business twists and turns always worked out.

Slowly, I realized that failure was an option.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t had the crap kicked out of me. I’ve gone through extreme business and personal failures that knocked me on my butt. I was depressed, scared and I isolated myself. For months.

Yet, now I can look back and say, “Thank goodness for that situation.” Because the failure taught me things. I learned I was strong. I was resilient. And I always land on my feet … even though it seems like it’s a long, long way down before I land.

If not for my various failures …

– I wouldn’t have met my wonderful husband

– I wouldn’t be in the best shape of my life (and even studying to be a personal trainer!)

– I wouldn’t have the compassion I have for people going through various health and financial difficulties.

– I wouldn’t have created the exact kind of business that fits my personality and work habits.

– I would be facing various health problems as a result of my lifestyle.

Derek Cromwell had a great line in the LinkedIn SEO Copywriting group (and his note is the inspiration for this blog post.) He said:

I’ve grown to the point where when I see that fall coming I put my arms in the air and scream “weeeeeeeeeee!” on the way down.

I love this! What a visual!

So go ahead. Make mistakes. Screw up. Embrace your failures and learn from them. Put yourself out there. Live your dream. If you mess up – so what. We ALL mess up.

Just scream “weeeeeee!” on the way down. :) Just like Buddy the Corgi on the twisty slide:

Life is much sweeter when you take a few risks along the way. Why not go for it?

Do you want to launch an SEO copywriting business in 2014, but you don’t know how to begin? Contact me today! I can help!

How to build an internal content team: Do this, not that

PuzzleYes, you can source low-cost, quality content by leveraging your internal resources (I talked about this last week.)

If you follow some basic guidelines.

The key to a strong internal team is putting the right puzzle pieces together the right way. I’ve helped a number of companies tap into their teams and uncover some fantastic “diamond-in-the-rough” SEO writers.

For some companies, the process has gone smoothly. Others faced a rough road, full of missed deadlines, resentful employees and a failed content effort.

Here’s what separates the smart companies from the rest:

Yes! Do this!

- Hire an editor. The editor can be an employee or a vendor who double-checks the content. This role is extremely important, so choose wisely. You need someone who can develop and assign topic ideas, has worked with writers before and knows how to provide smart feedback. Plus, your editor needs to be super-knowledgeable about SEO. He’ll often be researching the keyphrases and optimizing the content – so he needs to know what he’s doing.

- Tell your team why their contribution is important and give them frequent kudos. If you say, “You need to start writing blog posts,” you will face resentment. Instead, share why you’re turning to them for blogging help, watch their progress and reward their successes (such as a top Google ranking or lots of social shares.) The more invested your writer is in the process, the better content she’ll create.

- Train your writers. This is important even if an editor is inserting keyphrases and writing the title and meta description. More knowledge means your writer can create a better work product – one that your editor won’t have to red-line, rewrite and tear her hair out over. Your subject matter experts don’t need to be SEO whiz kids. But they should know the SEO content basics.

- Create an SEO content style guide (or hire a firm to create this for you.) Outline the general blog post format, the reading audience, how headlines and subheads are used and how many words you expect per post. If you have a list of things that can’t be mentioned (for instance, if you’re in a highly regulated industry,) outline these expectations and make them clear. A style guide gets everyone on the same page and helps standardize the content’s look and feel.

Need more direction? Here’s a great post by Ian Lurie that discusses how to create a style guide.

Want to virtually guarantee failure?  Don’t even think about doing this!

- Send your team to an SEO conference with the task of “learn how to do SEO copywriting and come back and teach the rest of us.” Most conferences don’t delve deeply enough into SEO content writing fundamentals to really provide any actionable knowledge (especially for newbies.) After all, what can your team realistically learn in a one-hour session?

- Assign blog posts without providing a deadline. Your team members are already busy with 1,000 things on their plate. If you don’t tell them when something is due, it’s going to get pushed to the back burner.

- Bring someone on who isn’t a good writer and/or hates writing.  Just because you’re an enthusiastic blogger doesn’t mean everyone else is too. Some people would rather hear fingernails on a chalkboard than write a blog post. Do not have these people write your web copy. It will not go well.

- Assign unrealistic deadlines. If you tell someone their newly-assigned blog post is “due tomorrow,” her head will probably explode.  Sure, you may only need 400 words. But know that it can take a lot of time to write 400 words – especially for non-writers. Give them time and space. The end product will be much better (and the writer will feel better about it, too.)

- Take the post without editing it first. Yes, you need to focus on making sure the right keyphrases are in the right spots. But you’ll also need someone to check grammar, spelling and general flow. If the post quality is low, don’t post it – even if you are on deadline. The only thing worse than no blog posts is a bunch of crappy ones.

- Let other priorities get in the way. Many companies outsource their content because they know it will actually get done. Internal teams may shift the content priority from, “This is highly important,” to “Well, we have a trade show next week. Let’s skip all blogging until we’re back.” Keep calm and keep blogging on – no matter what’s swirling around you. The momentum alone will help support your success.

Does your team need writing examples, SEO copywriting training and some hands-on help? I can customize a solution that transforms writers from “meh” into “marvelous.” Contact me with your requirements.

How to source low-cost, quality SEO content

SaveAre you wondering how your company can actually afford quality SEO content?

You’re not alone.

Companies are drowning in content needs. The existing marketing department (assuming there is one) may be too swamped to consistently write articles and blog posts.

Finding outsourced vendors can be equally frustrating. Companies are often looking for Cadillac-level SEO content when they have Yugo-level budgets.

The results are rarely positive. Especially with how Google has tightened down on content (see Eric Enge’s article for more information.)

I’ve chatted with many frustrated marketing managers who are faced with this dilemma. They don’t have the budget for a top-notch outsourced vendor. Yet they are looking for a certain quality of writer – one who understands their industry, understands their customers and can speak their language.

The answer?

Look internally for your SEO content producers. And by “internally,” I mean your sales people, project managers, engineers and other people with product, service and customer knowledge. These people are already passionate about your product/service, your customers and your company mission. Why not let that passion shine through?

I’m aware of the myriad of objections. For instance:

– Not everyone is a good writer

– Non-writers have no business writing sales pages.

– People won’t do it. They say they will – but they’ll flake out.

– They don’t know how.

Let’s break down those objections.

Not everyone is a good SEO writer

True. However, I bet you have people on your team who are good writers. Or they are OK writers with a lot of potential. The goal isn’t to push someone into writing who hates it. It’s to help someone grow who wants to learn how to do it better.

Non-writers have no business writing sales pages.

I totally agree. It takes a skilled copywriter to write a high-converting sales page. However, you don’t need someone with 10 years of copywriting experience to write a blog post. You can train internal staff to do that.

People won’t do it. They say they will – but they’ll flake out.

People will do it if they have a sense of ownership, understand the process and there are realistic expectations. If you tell someone to “Write a blog post on anything and have it by tomorrow,” you probably won’t see very good results. If you take the time to work with them, assign topics and provide feedback, magical things can happen.

They don’t know how.

You can teach your team how to write SEO content (or bring in someone who can teach them.) Plus, you can hire an outsourced SEO editor who can assign topics, set reasonable deadlines and optimize the content.

Existing team members can be transformed into fantastic article and blog writers. Yes, it takes some negotiation. No, it won’t happen overnight. But the final results can be incredible, with team members happily producing content every month.

And that allows you to focus your SEO content budget on other important things – like fixing those stale sales pages that haven’t been updated in years.

Next week, I’ll discuss how to set up a happy, healthy internal content team. In the meantime, what are your biggest obstacles around sourcing content from existing team members? Please leave your comments below, or you can respond on Google+. Thanks!

Training your internal team in SEO content development doesn’t have to be painful. Or scary. Or frustrating. Let me help you find the best option for your company. Review my training options and contact me today.





What Lou Reed can teach you about SEO writing

I was blown away the first time I heard, “Walk On The Wild Side.”

Were the lyrics a little controversial? Sure. To my 12-year-old brain, hearing songs about hookers and junkies was a big deal.

But it wasn’t the supposed scandalous content.

It was the storytelling.

“Walk On The Wild Side” is visual. It’s gripping. It’s powerful. When I heard the opening lyrics about how “Holly came from Miami F. L. A.,” I could picture her transformation. I could see the gritty bars, plucked eyebrows and strange back-room antics.

The music transported me. I wasn’t listening to the lyrics. I was involved in the story. 

As SEO writers, we can learn a lot from Lou Reed. When we’re cranking out content, it’s easy to ignore the story and focus on the facts. We work in the right benefit statement at the right time. We write lists in bullet-point fashion because we know it’s better for readability. We put the perfect keyphrases in the perfect places.

But do we write with passion? With purpose? Do we really tell a visual story – or do we skim the surface and hope the reader will fill in the blanks?

My challenge to you – for just one day, throw out everything you know about copywriting. Tell the story instead. Don’t focus on the mechanics. Focus on how the widget has transformed a business. How a service helped save a life. Think visual rather than factual (for more information on writing more visually, check out this great post by Roger Dooley.)

(And if you’re a B2B company, don’t tell me that storytelling doesn’t work. It does.)

Got the story down? Good. Now, go back and seed it with “proper” form, keyphrases and paragraph structure.

My guess? Your writing will be more powerful. More visceral. And convert better, too.

R.I.P, Lou Reed. You may be gone, but your songs live on.

And your writing lessons do, too.

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How to make more money as a freelance copywriter: 20 tips

Yes, you can make more money as a freelance copywriter. Really!

Yes, you can make more money as a freelance copywriter. Really!

Do you feel like your freelance writing income is stuck in low gear – and you’re looking to rev up your profits?

Making more money can be easier than you think. Here are ways to make it happen:

1.  Raise your rates. If you haven’t increased your freelance copywriting rates lately, now may be the time. Here’s how to do it without alienating your current customers.

2. Check in with your current clients. You’ve already built a relationship with these people – why not leverage it? A quick “how can I help you?” email may help you gain new work.

3. Ask your current clients for referrals. If your clients already love you, why wouldn’t they recommend you to their colleagues? Even just one referral could net some great new business.

4. Create package deals. If you’re a blogger or a freelance copywriter, you could bundle your services so people buy them in bulk (say, 10 blog posts every month.) Some clients prefer to purchase content this way, so it could drive more money your way.

5. Set up ongoing contracts. If clients are consistently purchasing 10 blog posts every month, why not put them on an ongoing retainer (you could even give them a small discount.) You know you have ongoing freelance income every month, and the client gets a good deal. Win/win!

6. Educate yourself. When’s the last time you got trained in an advanced subject (like SEO copywriting … hint, hint). The more you know, the more you can charge – and the better caliber client you can attract.

7. Change up your target market. Are you stuck charging lower freelance fees because your target audience can’t pay for more? Don’t get mad. Pivot your business. It may be time to find clients with more money to spend.

8. Boost your confidence. Do you feel weird answering the question, “How much do you charge?” It’s time to get over it. Here’s how.

9. Fire energy-sapping clients. This is never easy to do, but it’s often necessary. The good news is, you’ll have room for new (higher paying) clients when you can prune the bad ones. Here are some things to think about.

10. Don’t give your current clients a reason to fire you. Have you been a little … flaky? A fast way to lose money is if your clients start slowly fading away. Here’s how to prevent the dreaded, “We can’t use you anymore” email.

11. Join Google+ and get set up with authorship. Yes, I know this is a pain (especially if your market isn’t on Google+ … yet.) But the rewards are well worth it. Here’s what Eric Enge has to say about it.

12. Do outstanding work that gets results. Clients want to work with proven SEO copywriters – and testimonials, case studies and before-and-after screen shots can help seal the deal.  Here are some tips about how to make your testimonials more powerful.

13. Find a niche you love and specialize. Both Bob Bly and Pam Foster discuss this technique in the Copywriting Business Bootcamp training.

14. Get out of the house and network. I’m guilty of hiding behind my computer most of the time. However, I know that actually seeing people in public (gasp) can help drive business my way. Try to get out at least once a month. More if you can.

15. Don’t forget to network with other writers, too. You may see them as “competition,” but they can also be trusted colleagues. Other writers may refer a gig to you that doesn’t fit their existing client/work base. Just don’t forget to return the favor.

Other feedback from the SEO Copywriting Facebook group and Google+ …

Improve your skills and offer new services – like press releases or content audits as an easy add-on to your existing services. – Courtney Ramirez

Don’t be scared of putting your prices up, even with customers you have had for years. Times change and so must prices. – Craig Wright (@straygoat).

It’s not about marketing, as much as it is about building the right relationships. – Tania Dakka (@TaniaDakka).

Get amazing results. – Daniel Iversen

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Feeling stuck? Read this.

The Edmonds, WA waterfront. One of my favorite "thinking places."

The Edmonds, WA waterfront. One of my favorite “thinking places.”

Is your gut  filled with sharp stress knots? Do you feel so stuck that you feel there’s no way out?

I feel your pain. I’ve been there. And it’s not fun.

There are times in your professional (and personal) life when things seem completely hopeless.

– You hate your job, yet you can’t see a way out. You need the security.

– The phone isn’t ringing and you’re seeing your bank account dwindle to almost nothing.

– You’re facing a midlife crisis with your business and the things that used to be fun aren’t fun anymore.

– Life isn’t quite clicking for you and you don’t know why.

Things don’t start out feeling stuck. At first, it’s almost a fun challenge. You may say, “Hey, I have to figure out new ways to generate income. How bad can that be?” Or “I’m sure I can launch my own business. I just need to make it happen.”

Days drag into weeks (and sometimes, into months.) That sharp stress ball in your gut gets bigger. That stuck feeling gets larger. You dig your heels in, work longer hours and do what you can to fix your situation.

(And deep down, you find yourself obsessing over your “problem” and wondering what’s wrong with you.)

There is nothing wrong with you. Really. This is all part of the process.

I’m a “dig in” kind of person. Being the control freak I am, I like to think that I can change a situation through working harder. Sometimes, it works. When it comes to longer-term “life issue” stuff – it backfires. I get more stressed, more tired and feel even more stuck.

Maybe you’ve felt the same way.

Recently, I was going through my own stuck situation. In retrospect, it doesn’t seem like a big deal now – more like a mini midlife crisis. Maybe it was because it was near a big birthday. Or maybe because other background things were going on. I may not have talked about it much, but it was there … just beneath the surface.

So I’d obsess. And work. And obsess some more. Not fun.

In a moment of clarity (thank you, floatation tanks,) I had a vision. I thought of my favorite place – the ocean – and how I like watching the tide gliding in and out.

(For more information about the benefits of “floating,” check out this interview I did with The Nation.)

I realized that life was just like that. Sometimes, the tide is in and everything is clicking. Things are easy and effortless.

But then the tide goes out again. Just because the water is “gone,” doesn’t mean it’s not coming back. It’s just taking a pause and gathering energy. That energy and force rushes in again. It always does. I just have to be patient.

Did my breakthrough change my situation? No. But it did change my perception of the situation. I felt lighter and in more control. I was able to focus on other things outside of my current stress. I stopped working so hard and worked smarter instead. I focused more on gratitude and abundance rather than fear and lack.

And you know what? I can feel the tide slowly gathering force and coming in again. I can’t quite tell what the final result looks like yet, other than it feels good and happy.

Happy is good. What’s more, I feel centered enough to notice the switch and be grateful for it.

So, if you’re feeling stuck, know that your situation can change. It may not change today or on your preferred timeline. Your tide may still be out.

But it will come back, stronger than ever. And you’ll be stronger than ever. Trust me.

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