Know Your Self-Worth

Freelance, Writing

As writers, we are all familiar with those feelings of self-doubt. We never think that we are good enough, and we certainly don’t think that our work is anything to shout about. In fact, the term “fraud” is often thrown around the writing circles, as so many of us feel like we’re just faking it, waiting with baited breath for someone to catch us out, and point at us with accusing fingers and reveal us to be the complete charlatans that we honestly believe ourselves to be.

This is all despite the fact that we have several years of experience behind us, a nice collection of satisfied customers and people telling us that they like what we do (it does happen occasionally!).

So, if we are really so amazing at what we do – writing – why do we not believe in our own abilities? When did this become a standard disposition of the writer?

I can’t answer that question, but it is without doubt that all of us – no matter what industry we work in, and even those who aren’t writers – need to learn: how to know your self-worth.

Knowing your self-worth is never an easy task, whether a butcher, baker, athlete, accountant, scientist or lowly writer, because there is always that overwhelming self-doubt. However, learning to train your brain into accepting that you are a talented individual, that you are amazing and you can do every single thing that you tell people you can do, in your CV, could be the simple key to success in your career.

How do you make yourself? Well, here are a few things to remember when your self-worth does come into question:

  1. Okay, so maybe one person wasn’t honest about how good you are (but they still could have been telling the truth, you know!), but surely several people telling you the same thing, can’t all be “being nice”.
  2. Do you have clients that keep coming back? Well, there you go. You can’t be all that bad.
  3. Even if your customers don’t come back, that’s not to say that that’s anything to do with your abilities. As you gain experience, the chances are that you’ll put your rates up (and if you’re not putting them up, you should be!). Sadly, for some clients they can’t afford (or don’t want) to pay your higher rates.
  4. Ask yourself if you enjoy what you are doing. My Mum always used to tell me (and we all know – now that we’re all grown-up – that mother’s are always right), that we are always the best at what we enjoy doing, because we are more willing to exhaust ourselves in the areas that we are most passionate about. Therefore, if you absolutely love what you do for a living, the chances are that you are doing great!

Believe in You

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What are Brochures and Do You Need Them?

Freelance, Marketing

Talking about brochures, in the world of the Internet, can seem quite archaic. Sure, you can promote your products – for free – on your super snazzy website, but brochures still have their place in the world of business marketing.

So, today we’re going to be looking at brochures, what they are and why you need them.

 What are Brochures?

Brochures are booklets that are typically designed to offer in-depth information into the products and/or services that a business has to offer. They are much more detailed than both pamphlets and leaflets.

In the age of the Internet, brochures can seem so out-of-date, as many of us come to the conclusion that we can just direct everyone to our websites. Websites are, of course, incredibly useful, however it’s important to remember that not everyone has the Internet, and even those who do might not feel comfortable using it.

Even the most ardent Internet user may decide that they prefer to have the information firmly in their hand, and there are a few reasons that this might be a preference:

  • Brochures offer ease of general browsing. It’s much easier to flip through or dip in-and-out of a brochure, than it is to flip through a website.
  • They allow for access to products 24/7, without the need for electricity or a piece of technology
  • Brochures can be taken pretty much everywhere: the bath, the toilet, the train. It could be argued that with the rise of tablets and accessibility on smart phones, this isn’t really a big deal. However, some people might not want to take their tablet into the bathroom (understandably), and not everyone “gets” the obsession with technology.

But Websites are Free, Brochures are Not

You’re right; websites are free, but the key to think about is that by not having brochures you could potentially be pushing out a considerable portion of your market. That is not good news, because that is potential money lost.

Look at producing brochures as an investment. The money put into them, will hopefully be returned by the customers who prefer them over your website.

Another key factor is to ensure that your brochures offer customers something that your website doesn’t, or even can’t: detailed information perhaps, or maybe even special offers and coupons that aren’t available on the website.

Do Brochures just Contain Everything from the Website?

They could do, yes, but that’s really up to you to decide. Personally, I have written brochures for clients using similar content from the website. The difference was that they wanted a little bit more depth in the brochures.

Case Study

One website that I worked on, was looking to launch a range of natural skin care products for teenage skin. Their idea was that they wanted the brochures to be more about offering advice to the teenagers who the products were being aimed at. The aim was to show the target audience what the problem was with their skin, what they could do about it (diet and skin care wise) and then how specific products could be used to target these problems.

This was advice that wasn’t used on the website, as the website was more aimed at the parents who were actually buying the product.

So should I have some brochures made up?

Only you can really answer this question, but it ultimately depends on your business. Many businesses would greatly benefit from the extra information that a brochure offers, but they do come at a price.  They’re probably not going to be part of your initial marketing plans, for this reason. However, the future investment is definitely worth thinking about.

 

For all your writing needs, get in touch 🙂

How to be on Social Media All the Time

Freelance, Marketing

social media tips

Perhaps the full title for this post should really be: “How to be on Social Media All the Time…or at least make people think that you are!

Social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter require you to appear “visible” practically all of the time, to be available to answer questions, respond to complaints and generally encourage new and existing customers to interact with you, not only as a brand, but on a personal level as well. People want to be able to trust you, but if you’re not around, they might come to the conclusion that you don’t care, and that you’re not really interested in what they want.

The problem with being permanently visible, is that in the world of business, it’s just not possible for someone to literally be visible all of the time.

You can’t exactly hire someone to spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week to stare obsessively at their computer screen, just waiting for someone to ask a question or enquire about something.

When a customer contacts you through your website’s contact form, the most common way of addressing the time it will take to respond, is by setting up an Auto-Reply to assure them that you will deal with their query as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, in the fast-paced environment of social media, auto-responses are considered slow, and most importantly cold, because the reason people use social media is to talk to a person, not to what they consider to be a machine.

So, how can you go about your every day business, whilst still appearing to be available all of the time?

The trick is to adjust the settings on all of your social media accounts so that every time someone writes on your Facebook Wall, leaves a comment on a status, tweets you on Twitter, or mentions you, you will receive a notification straight to your email informing you about it.

As a result, you can quickly respond appropriately.

How to adjust notification settings on Facebook:

  1. Open up your Facebook business page, and click the button that says “Update Page Info”
  2. Click the “Settings” tab at the top of the screen, scroll down until you reach “Notifications” and select to edit
  3. Here you can select to have notifications sent using Facebook, or to your email account.

How to adjust notification settings on Twitter:

  1. Sign into your Twitter business account, and click on the cog symbol next to the “Compose New Tweet” button
  2. From the drop down menu select “Settings” and click on “Email Notifications”
  3. From here you can select everything that you want to be notified about, including whenever you are mentioned, when your tweets are re-tweeted and even when someone joins in a conversation that you are a part of.

Setting up such notifications are ideal especially when you are not in your email account all the time, or when you are out-and-about, because the notifications can be set up as alerts directly to your smart phone.

 

For advice, guidance or questions about Social Media, feel free to get in touch.

I am more than happy to help 🙂

 

What are Re-Writes and Do You Need Them?

Freelance, Marketing

The topic of re-writes is often one that is misunderstood. For the record, by Re-Writes I don’t mean that the original content was bad, just like re-writes also doesn’t necessarily mean that the writer will be re-writing the work of someone else either.

Why would someone ask for Re-Writes?

There are two reasons why a client might ask for re-writes: The most common reason is because they want to share an article or story in several places, for example:

  • On their website
  • On their blog
  • As a Press Release
  • On a third-party website

It’s all a form of advertising, using the same article, but re-written. The second reason is much more simple. Most clients love what they do, but will openly admit that when it comes to writing about their product and/or service, they hit a brick wall. So, they might write down a basic outline of what they want, and then it will be my job to re-write it. In this case, the purpose of the re-write is to create content that is interesting, but also encompasses Search Engine Optimisation.

Should you have content re-written?

This is something that I can’t answer for you, but there are a few things that you should think about to help you decide for yourself:

1. Do you have a good piece of content on your website that you would love to share elsewhere? Perhaps on another website, on your blog, on a publicity website or maybe as a guest post? You can’t hand over a piece that has already been used, because most web masters and editors – along with search engines – consider this a bad thing. Most website owners, as well as press release websites etc. prefer content to be completely unique to them, and with the added agreements that you won’t use it anywhere else.

2. Have you got a piece of content in your off-line content (in a brochure, leaflet etc) that you would love to share online? Copy for off-line and online are both completely different, as they serve different overall purposes.

Should you re-write your content?

If you decide that you do want some content re-writing, you now need to make the decision about who should do it, so here’s another couple of things to think about.

1. Do you have the time to sit down and re-write that content for yourself? Even more importantly, do you have the time and energy to re-write it several times?

2. Perhaps just as importantly, how confident are you with your own writing skills, to write content – several times – that is completely different from the others, whilst still focusing on the same key matters and issues?

If you can answer “yes” to both of these questions, then go for it – you know your business after all. However, if you don’t have the time, patience or energy then don’t be afraid to ask someone else to do it, whether that’s another member of your team or outsourced.

If you would like your content re-writing, get in touch and find out how I can help.

What are Articles and Do You Need Them?

Freelance

Professionally, I am quite often referred to as an articles writer, because it’s one of the areas that I write for a large portion of my work. But what are articles, and how could they help your business? Today’s mission is for you to find out:

What are Articles?

Articles are blocks of texts that basically share information. What exactly an article does, depends essentially, on what the overall purpose of the article is, and there are so many different kinds of articles that you might want. However, the most common types are:

FAQs

FAQ stands for “Frequently Asked Questions” and does what it says on the tin. The article will ask a question that you might want to know about, and then it will answer the question. Sometimes, these are basic answers, but it’s also quite common for them to be quite in-depth.

Description

The basic goal of a Description is to inform what something is and what it does. This could be a description of a product, including what it looks like, what it is used for, how it is used, how the customer will benefit from using it etc.

Story

Newspapers and Magazines often run articles known as “stories“, that share details of a specific event, or events. A story could be used to report, to promote or even share someone’s experiences.

Personal stories are also quite popular, because people like to be able to relate to someone else’s experiences.

How-To

Again this is self-explanatory, but a “How-To” offers a step-by-step guide into how to do something. It’s aim is to be informative and easy to understand. The idea is to teach people how to do, or use, something.

Case Studies

Case Studies take a lot of work, because they require a lot of groundwork in the form of research. They are normally very in-depth and full of facts, and for that reason, it is important for them to be supported by references and quotes. References and quotes simply validate the Case Study, and encourage readers to take it more seriously.

Profile

A profile normally relates to an individual or company, and includes an in-depth look into their past, what they do and their business and/or personal goals. Profiles create a persona behind the name and face.

Opinion

Opinion pieces are ideal for sharing your personal thoughts on a subject that you are qualified in. The goal of opinion articles is to encourage the reader to question something, and perhaps even start a debate about a topic that is important to you. It is often expected for your opinion to be backed up with a few facts.

Lists

Lists are becoming increasingly popular on the Internet, probably because they seem to draw a lot of hits. Everyone likes a good list because they’re short, snappy and an easy read. Lists can be virtually anything that relates to your business. For example: Top 5 Foods For Healthy Skin, Top 10 Canadian Actors, Top Three Wig Wams.

How Long Does an Article take to Write?

This depends on a few factors:

  • The type of article being written
  • The length (word count)
  • How much research is necessary
  • How much does it cost to have an article written?

Again this will depend on the length of the article, but I generally charge on the basis of £15 per 500 words. So, if you have an idea how many pages/words your article is going to be, it should be pretty easy to work out a rough estimate of how much it will cost.

Any necessary research will also add to the overall cost.

Offers are available for bulk articles, so please feel free to ask, if you are interested in hiring my services for a larger number of articles.

Hire Kat to write some articles for your company.

5 Ways to Conquer SEO

Diary of a Freelancer, Freelance, Marketing

In case you managed to miss the memo: SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, and the online world seems to be absolutely obsessed with it. And in my opinion, a little too obsessed with it. So the real question is: SEO: is it worth the hassle?

Initially, I want to say a huge, big, fat and resounding “NO”. However, despite my reservations about this obsession, SEO does have its benefits; as long as you get it right – and so many people, just don’t.

Therefore, here are my five ways to conquer SEO:

1. Content is Always King

Oh yes, it’s the old cliché that Content is King, but content really is the master of your success.

Problem:

Imagine the ideal scenario:

Image sourced here.

Image sourced here.

You’ve created lots of keywords, and the Search Engines are bringing traffic in by the bucket load. Yippee, you’re thinking – excellent, lots of business heading your way! But wait, you’re sat by your inbox, waiting ever so patiently for all those orders to come and hmm…nothing!

You check your website analytics (as you should be doing, on a regular basis), and barely anyone has remained on your site for longer than ten seconds.

Here is where the problem lies, just because you’ve brought traffic in, doesn’t mean that your job is over with. Your second job (after drawing people to your site) is to ensure that you keep them there, and tempt them with your amazing wares. Unfortunately, keyword-heavy content that is boring, full of jargon or doesn’t even make sense, is not going to do that for you.

Solution:

  1. Create content that is interesting to read and packed with relevant information 
  2. Ditch the jargon – no one has a clue what you’re talking about, so seriously, don’t do it!
  3. Make your content easy to browse – remember, we’re lazy, so make things easy for us with headings and keywords and important phrases highlighted (although, don’t do overboard)

2. Do your Research

It’s really easy to fall into the trap of thinking “Oh, I can do that – it’s easy!” when it comes to SEO, but in reality, you can’t expect to get anywhere, without doing a little bit of research.

Research helps you to determine your market, and target it to perfection.

Research KeywordsProblem:

The real problem is distinguishing what keywords you should be using. If Search Engines are going to bring traffic to your website, you’re going to want to make sure that you use the best keywords. Using the wrong ones might draw in the wrong kinds of people. You should also be aware of using keywords that could be interpreted as misleading.

Solution:

  1. As the heading suggests: Do your homework. Check out the competition, find out what keywords they’re using and look into how you can adapt that into your website. However, don’t just copy all of the keywords that they use, because some of them might not be suitable for your brand.
  2. Think about your brand, and the types of keywords that people might search for, in order to reach that brand
  3. Put yourself into the shoes of your customers. What are they looking for? What are they likely to type into Google?

3. Stay Relevant

Why would someone buy a product or service from a website that contains content that isn’t relevant to the product or service? Honest answer: They wouldn’t. It’s as simple as that. Therefore, relevant content is just as important as good content.

The Problem:

What exactly is relevant? One of the mistakes that I have made, and a lot of other people make, is to write about the things that interest

Bananas

This image has no relevance to this post whatsoever.

you. If you’re writing a personal blog – that’s great. Nevertheless, in the world of business, writing about how hilarious your cat is, well, it’s hardly going to draw customers to your company that sells lipsticks, is it?

If someone comes to your website looking for a funny story about cats, then it’s likely that the website they are probably looking for is going to be something to do with cats; a vet, an animal charity, a retailer who sells animal toys for example.

Solution:

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • What are your customers interested in?
  • What information could you provide?
  • What could you teach?
  • What would customers find helpful?
  • How could you provide this information?

4. Imaging

The Problem:

I once read that you shouldn’t bother putting images onto websites, because Search Engines can’t read anything other than text, so why bother.

The problem is that images are useful when it comes to whether or not a person will read your content. Take me, for example, I’m your typical internet surfer, I want to be spoon fed information and I don’t want to have to work hard for it. Why? Because I’m Lazy, and because the internet is so full of information, it starts to get boring. If I come across a website that is just one big huge paragraph of content, I’m likely to yawn, and click away.

The Solution:

The critics might have been right, Search Engines can’t read the actual images, but they can read the ALT Tags and ALT tags are an incredibly valuable part of SEO. ALT Tags should be used to describe the image, allowing Search Engines to read what the image shows.

One way of approaching this, is to imagine that you are describing the image to a blind person, or someone who – for whatever reason – cannot see it. Ask yourself a few questions that a blind person might want / need to know:

  • What does the image depict?
  • What is it representing?
  • What is the images purpose?

5. Don’t Get Obsessed

Despite what we’re quite often told, keywords are not the centre of the universe. Yes, they’re important and yes, they can help your business, but they’re only one part of a very big puzzle.

The Problem:

For many businesses, it’s easy to become so obsessed with keywords that you lose sight of what you are actually hoping to achieve. Content becomes boring, stress levels sky-rocket and you don’t enjoy working on a part of your own company.

Solution:

Don’t allow yourself to be consumed by keywords.

The truth is that if you know your product/brand/service well (and you should) then it’s likely that keywords will flow into your text with absolute ease.

Concentrate on creating content that is interesting, and relevant, and you’ll find that your job is a lot easier. Just remember not to give up, and don’t allow yourself to forget to post regularly to your blog, because that’s a sure-fire way to notice a nose-dive in your blog’s statistics.

 

A Week of Barefoot Girl: 14.07.2013

Diary of a Freelancer

a week of barefoot girlHey guys, I hope that everyone is having a great Sunday and enjoying the lovely sunny weather. I love summer, because it means that I can get my bare feet out without worrying 🙂

Anyway, I thought that it would be fun to start a new feature, looking back at what I’ve been up to over the past seven days, in terms of writing and blogging etc. That way, if you’ve missed anything, well you can catch up – how awesome is that?

 

Monday

WRITING. Monday, on Barefoot Girl Writes, was all about Camp NaNoWriMo, and how I was getting on, as I reached Day 8 and 5,859 words towards my 15,000 word target, which left me feeling incredibly positive about my mini adventure.

Catch up on my Day 8 update from Camp NaNoWriMo, right here. And the next update will be with you tomorrow!

BEAUTY. Over on the original Barefoot Girl Beauty Blog, I reviewed Yves Saint Laurent’s The Black Eyeliner, a liquid eyeliner that I was hoping would be a great alternative to the cheaper Rimmel Glam’Eyes liquid liner. How did the YSL liner fare?

Read my review and comparison here, to find out.

Tuesday

WRITING. Tuesday was Word of the Week day, with this weeks addition being: Myth.

Find out the origins of the word Myth, and what it actually means.

RE-BRANDING. Tuesday was also the day when I officially wrote the final blog post over on my original freelance writing blog; Kat Musselwhite Writer, which seemed a little bit sad. However, this blog was designed to take it over, so it’s not all sad 🙂

If you want to check out my final post, relating to the re-branding, then you can read that here.

Wednesday

RE-BRANDING. After writing my final blog post as Kat Musselwhite (well, I’m still Kat Musselwhite, but that’s no long my professional “brand”), I decided to have a play around with the Barefoot Girl website.

First of all, I added a sub-domain for this very blog, so that I could run the blog a little independently of the website, but it is still connected to it, literally, so the domain is just http://www.abarefootgirlwrites.com/blog, but it’s actually separate. If that makes sense!

By splitting the website and blog, I allowed the main page to be dedicated to my freelance writing as a whole, with the blog a part of it. I wanted to do this, because I felt like the blog was taking over, a little bit too much, from what I actually do.

I also felt that the original Barefoot Girl Writes website was a little bit complicated, so splitting the website in two (hypothetically) allowed me to simplify everything, and I’m very happy with the results.

WRITING. In the meantime, this weeks Confessions of a Bookaholic looked at writing that scares you, and whether it’s possible to write about what you know.

Read my confessions here.

BEAUTY. On Barefoot Girl, I shared my latest Bargain Hunting spoil, which amazingly didn’t come from a Charity Shop. Instead, this eye shadow (which only cost £3) came from T.K. Maxx – a shop that I love to hate – and was a colour that baffled me a little. Then again, I’m pretty easy to baffle!

Check out my new eye shadow, and decide for yourself what colour it really is.

FILM. Wednesday was definitely a very busy day, but I also managed to squeeze in a quick review (that wasn’t really that “quick”) of Anne Hathaway’s One Day.

Find out what I thought of One Day here.

Thursday

WRITING. Thursday came was a writing inspiration from my favourite children’s book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I chose this book because I felt that the time had finally come to read the series all over again, and it seemed fitting!

Do you remember the opening and closing line to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone? Have they inspired you to get writing?

BEAUTY. I re-visited a topic that I’ve covered a number of times on Barefoot Girl, which was the question of What is Beauty? I love this question, because everyone has a very different outlook on it. I also like to re-visit it every-so-often just to see how much my own opinions have – or haven’t – changed.

Here’s my 2013 response to What is Beauty?

Friday

After a busy week of writing, I ended with a easy-to-follow guide to moving images from your phone, into your PC (or laptop) without the need for cables. This is something that I find myself needing a lot, since my cables have a habit of going AWOL on a regular basis.

Find out how here.

So, that’s it for this week’s round up. Thanks for reading, and if there is anything you would like me to blog about, or if you have a question about my writing, blogging or you’d like to hire me, then please do feel free to get in touch 🙂