Writing For a Result

Its probably about time I went back to grass roots and wrote a post about writing, which is what I do! This one is not of the tutorial type, nor is it probably going to inspire anyone to get into this business unless they are already determined that it is what they want to do.

Let’s just get a few things straight, before I get started. I’m not going to be talking about writing novels or writing editorials for magazines, newspapers or journals. Not even content writing for assignments with other website owners. This is about writing for myself (or in your case, yourself).

First of all, you have to know why you would want to write for yourself. You can’t pay yourself for the finished result and if you are not going to sell it to someone else, then you might be forgiven for wondering why you would even do it! To illustrate that point, I’m going to tell you why I do it.

In the beginning, when I started in this business towards the end of 2006, I built one real website, which was my hypnosis site (www.hypnosic.com) as this was my profession back in the 1990s and I wanted to recreate the free site I built back in 1996 and improve on it with my own domain. My plan was to once again sell my own hypnosis CDs online, a side to my business that actually worked for a while back in 1996! For the record, I didn’t sell enough (it was cassettes then) and dropped the idea. Mmmm.

Come back to 2006 and I felt there was more to the Internet than just trying to sell a few CDs. So I also built a collection of free blogs on a variety of subjects and started writing posts in the belief that if I put enough content out there in the web-o-sphere, then I would eventually attract readers and that would attract advertisers to my blogs and I would make pots of money and retire to a beach somewhere. Oh, just a mo… that sounds a little like The Internet Marketing Dream!

Of course, I failed to make a dent in the money making side of that plan but this time, I didn’t give up. I could see the potential despite all the scamming IM gurus that were milking noobs like cash cows and was thankful that I didn’t get sucked into that side of the business. I got lucky in a way and was gifted with a pre-launch free copy of a marketing ebook called My Secret Articles by a well respected and honest marketer called Steven Wagenheim. It taught me a lot of what I needed to know and how to avoid the pitfalls that trap so many other newcomers to this business. It covered just about everything from Affiliate Marketing to basic SEO and the many ways of promoting an online business. It was my bible in those dark days when there was not much else available.

One of the most important things I learned from Steven was how to write articles that I could sell. I started selling them via Constant Content and made some money but made more by attracting some paying clients who liked my work. That was great for a while as it meant I could make my living directly from the Internet doing something I enjoyed doing.

Like most things with me, I soon get disillusioned with certain things that don’t do enough to keep my interest. Writing was okay, but I soon realised that in order to keep earning money, I needed to keep writing. if I stopped writing, I stopped earning money. On the other hand, if I were to build more websites and promote them in the right way, I would attract organic search traffic that would buy whatever that website was selling. I had already bumped into Griz and Vic by this time and could see the way in which they were making a killing with this model. The trick was to work very hard at it because there was no easy way.

It was like looking over the fence at the greener grass on the other side, except I knew with full conviction that the grass on that other side really was greener.

I made the decision to put more of my efforts into building more and better websites that were better targeted to selling things that people wanted to buy. Then I went about finding affiliate programs that would enable me to promote products that I would earn commission for selling them. All the while, I kept writing to pay the bills while I watched my passive income start to trickle in. I should also mention Adsense here, as some of the websites were laid out better for that kind of PPC income and some started to attract income from that quarter.

But things were growing way too slowly. The sites I was building were not ranking well enough in Google to attract the traffic that would mean plenty of sales and/or clicks. I started devoting more of my writing time to building up those sites as well as some supporting sites that were built around what is known as long tail keywords (longer phrases that people search for regularly in the search engines) so they could also rank for their own terms and then send links to the main sites in their relevant niches.

This started to show promise as some sites started to rank better and with more original content and backlinks, were starting to outrank some of the top sites for certain keywords. It was still taking a long time to really happen, but I could see that light at the end of the very long tunnel and being a tenacious bloke, I just kept on and on hammering away at it. I was writing a huge amount of articles, using Hub Pages, Ezine, Infobarrel, Squidoo and other free places to build mini-sites that could send links and traffic to my main sites. The number of original articles I have written for this, to date must register in the several thousands. I lost count of them all some time ago.

The result so far is that I now devote nearly all my time to writing articles for my own websites, blogs and those mini-site places and am rewarded with a full time income from those websites. I haven’t stopped, by the way. There is plenty more to do and more money to be made from further expansion and a ton of more work in writing, building and promoting.

That’s why I succeed in a business where so many fail. Because I know what I have to do and I do it. Its hard work and most people will shy away from hard work, but if you want to make a success of this business and make a full time income from the Internet, then its the only way that is going to happen. Working hard and writing for a result is my way.

Terry Didcott

Freelance Writing Meets Internet Marketing

Welcome back to this freelance witter blog of mine. I’m going to re-visit the whole freelance writing thing from a slightly different perspective in this post. I’m not going to promote it as a way to make money online, although it absolutely is. I’m going to take a look at where it can take you in terms of growth, then show you what is possible when freelance writing meets Internet marketing.

There is one great problem with working as a freelance writer online which mirrors working at most forms of gainful employment and that is there is a ceiling on what you can earn. Ok, for some writers who can command a good rate for their work, that ceiling is higher than for most but its still there in the form of time.

What I’m getting at in my usual roundabout fashion is that there are only so many hours in the day and a writer, no matter how prolific, can only write so many words before the physical limitation of the need for sleep shuts them down for the day! So there’s the ceiling. Even if you work flat out, seven days a week you will hit the ceiling because online, especially now in these times of economic turmoil, there is only so much that content writers can expect to be paid.

Unless you are fortunate enough to be able to make the leap from content writer, or ghost writer to full blown, published author in your own right, the sky is considerably higher than the limit.

I know of several freelance writers who are just about at the top of their earning potential and they are not enjoying an easy life by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, in order to earn the kind of money that represents financial freedom, they are literally working their arses off seven days a week, twelve hours a day stuck in a chair chained to a computer. That’s no life! At least not one that has a pot of gold waiting at the end of all those long hours of toil.

This is the problem. Once you’ve worked so hard for a month and made a decent income, paid all your bills and everything else, you can’t sit back and relax while the next month looks after itself. To sustain that income you have to keep going. And keep going some more until you’ve saved enough to allow you to take a couple of weeks off and have a nice holiday. At the end of the holiday, what have you got to look forward to? The endless grindstone, that’s what.

In fact, its no different from working at a job, except you get to work from the comfort of your own home. The downside is that no company would expect you to work 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Ok, the pay and the conditions may be worse at a J-O-B and you’d probably have to commute (I’d rather shove bamboo splinters up my fingernails) and job security no longer exists, but at least you’d get weekends off and a few weeks paid holiday.

So am I advocating quitting the freelance writing game and returning to gainful employment?

Absolutely not!

I’d sooner commit Hari Kari than work for someone else ever again! But there is an alternative to slogging the hours away writing content that still allows you to stay at the computer and work from home. Its just that it also takes a monumental amount of work, time and perseverance to pull it off.

I know so, because its exactly what I’m doing. Its a marriage of two disciplines, where freelance writing meets Internet marketing. Writing and building a business that has no ceiling on earnings. While still working as a freelance writer I can transfer the writing skills I have to building my ever growing collection of websites which are quietly growing in size and authority with the search engines. I already make money from my freelance writing, and I’ll keep that side going because it would be foolish to stop. But now I also make money online from my websites and the monthly earnings keep growing, steadily month by month.

The Internet marketing income comes from different sources, but the main ones are affiliate commissions on products, services and merchandise that I promote on certain websites, advertising revenue and PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising from Google Adsense. This is what is known as Internet Marketing, or selling/marketing for profit using the Internet as your medium. This income grows in direct proportion to the volume of sites I have out there and their increase in age, stature and authority as they mature. There is no ceiling on this area of income as the Internet is huge, steadily growing and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.

This income will gradually displace the freelance writing income and become a kind of income that is what is known as passive, meaning that it will continue whether I sit here in front of my computer slaving away, or sit on a beach enjoying a day off, or lying fast asleep in my bed. Its 24/7 income that just keeps coming. Of course, the more I put into it now, the more it will continue to grow, making for an ever upward spiraling source of income that will not stop if I decide to take a holiday, which it certainly would do if I were relying solely on income from writing.

Is this an easy thing to do? No it is not and when I said it takes perseverance, I’m talking 2 years of learning, implementing what I learned, making mistakes, suffering setback after setback and still hammering away at it until I started showing a profit. I still suffer setbacks and still make mistakes, but they are fewer and father between these days. There is a very bright light at the end of this very long tunnel and getting there has been extremely trying. Luckily for me, I’m a stubborn, tenacious bastard when I get an idea in my head and decide to go for it! Once I get the bit between my teeth, I’ll keep going at it until it pays off.

Failure is a word that does not exist in my vocabulary. Setback and obstacle I can take, because I know that these can be overcome with dogged perseverance, belief and sheer tenacity. Most people give up too soon in this game and that’s a shame, because it really can be done and you really can make a decent living from the Internet if you’re willing and prepared to take everything it can throw at you and still bounce back to progress toward that point where you’re in profit and the money that comes in pays the bills and keeps growing so that the next holiday will be better than the last!

Do you think you’re up for that?

Terry Didcott

Posting Pictures Legitimately

Posting pictures legitimately seems to be something a lot of bloggers and the odd freelance writer needs to do, but they often cross the line with regards to copyright. This is because published photographs that appear on the originating website often turn up on other people’s blogs without any credit given to the owner. While the Internet is a vast place chocked full of millions of pages of web content and images, it doesn’t necessarily mean that if you post someone else’s picture on your blog without due credit that you will get away with it because no one will notice.

There are some websites out there that do publish royalty free images that you can legitimately download and post to your blog. They make it clear that their images cane be used on a non-commercial basis which is perfect for most general niche blogs. So if these sites, some of which have many thousands of images to choose from, are allowing this then why do some bloggers still go out and steal photos that are not royalty or copyright free?

One reason may be that they can’t find exactly what they want on the free image sites and when they come across that perfect image on another site, they think “what the hell?” and take it anyway. Another reason may be that they want a higher resolution image. Free image sites generally only give away small images, say 300×200 at best which is fine for sprucing up a blog post, but no good if you’re designing a fancy header banner that requires a much larger image.

Whatever the reason for stealing someone else’s photos, its plagiarizing and the owner can come after you with a lawyer and give you all sorts of legal headaches. Not worth the trouble, really, but it wont stop anyone who is already actively doing it, because they probably think that they can’t be caught. Geographic location has plenty to do with this kind of blogger’s attitude. A blogger in China probably feels very safe from the US lawyers who think they rule the roost. That blogger is probably right if he steals an image from an American’s site, but if he steals one from a site based in China, he will be caught and prosecuted. It happens!

Same goes wherever you are in the world. Just because a site looks like it originates in a certain country, it doesn’t mean that it does. Many of my own sites look like they originate in the US because I’m targeting US traffic – even down to the American way of spelling if that’s what it takes. But I’m not in the US at all. Not even close.

I’m drifting away from the point of this post, which is to tell you about posting pictures legitimately on your blogs, so let’s bring it back. There are two ways in which to post images on your blog without upsetting anyone and still enhancing the look of it, assuming pictures are needed to do that. You may have noticed that I don’t personally use many pics in my own postings – for me they distract the reader from the beauty of the written word… mmm ok whatever!

1. Just sort through the royalty free stuff and use what fits most closely to what you need it for. Sure it’s time consuming, but you stay legitimate and that’s important.

2. Go out of the house with a digital camera, or phone if it has a good camera built in, and take some of your own!

The second point is something that I have been doing for some time now when I want that certain angle that I know I can get locally. I’m lucky in that I live quite near to the beach in a tourist town in southern Spain, so in summer the place is packed with tourists of all descriptions and perfect for taking “people” shots that can work. I generally stick to candid group shots rather than taking individuals, or they might get a little upset at being singled out and want to know why.

In fact, my new header image was taken recently on my phone while I was walking the dogs up in the hills behind where I live. Nice view from up there!

Sometimes, if you’re faced with this dilemma and want to photograph an individual, then be bold and go up and ask their permission. Explain what you want the shot for and they might be happy to agree. Remember, people are generally quite vain and the thought of their image appearing in the online “media” will sway any misgivings and they’ll most likely be happy to let you. If not, thank them for their time and move on to someone else.

The beach is not just for photographing people, but also I have great scenery with a backdrop of tall rugged mountains, a wealth of bars, restaurants and shops that can add character to any post especially in a locally oriented blog, castles, ruins and interesting old buildings, people walking dogs for dog and pet oriented blogs, plenty of traffic for shots of cool sports cars, even cooler motorbikes and all kinds of vehicles, plenty of scope for abstracts, sunrises and sunsets, moon rises, choppy seas, calm seas, low flying planes and helicopters etc.

Plenty of scope in fact to embellish with images a wide variety of blog themes and its all completely royalty and copyright free because I took the photos myself and I own the copyright.

So if you need an excuse to get away from the computer for an hour or so while still remaining in “working” mode, then grab your camera or phone and go take some images of your own. They may even turn out to be much better than what you can steal!

Terry Didcott