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A Room With a….DOOR! Telecommuting and Writers

Writing is trembling in the middle of a BULL RING while holding white-knuckled to a red muleta and sword…

I mean sport. Working from home can be like fighting the bulls. As free as I believe I am, untethered to a corporate office space, at times I ache for the ability to sit behind a desk in an office with other writers with one burden on my shoulders–to get this g.d. article written and the sweet joy of knowing I’ll not be upended by tussling dogs or the cat trying to perch on my head or feel the desire to run an errand right now.

I’ve fought the bull today. And I know other telecommuting writers have as well.

Just a few months ago I pined for a desk and lamp. I have that. Today I envy doors….Doors with knobs and locks, retro-fitted with “Keep Out,” “Go Away,” “Do Not Disturb,” and “Condemned” signs nailed to the outsides.

Telecommuting or working from home as a writer can be great or it can be awful. One of the biggest hurdles can be overcoming the stigma that since you work from home, sometimes in pajamas or gym sweats, that you’re not really working.

I’ve outfitted my loft space with:

  • Speakers for my Apple MacBook and created a couple music playlists suitable for various writing “moods.”
  • Two rigid fiber file crates from Target that serve as book shelves
  • Two wipe off boards–small and large–I’m very visual and DIG mindmaps, bullets, lists, arrows to bubbles with stuff written in them…
  • Upended a large rubbermaid storage bin, covered it with a spare sheet and plopped my printer on it.
  • In the closet I’ve collated my office supplies–ream+ of paper, file folders, envelopes, spare printer cartridges, etc
  • I’ve set “policies” per my brother’s suggestion–that include control of “errands” and favors for others done during the day: Between this hour and this hour I’m working (read: writing), but between this time and this time I am wide open.
  • I’ve ripped a tip from copywriter Jack Forde’s weekly Copywriters Roundtable newsletter (he puts out one of the better newsletters to which I subscribe) and made note of my monetization strategy at the top of my schedule everyday. That little tactic also helps counter procrastination, by the way–you have a daily goal with dollar signs on it branded into your short-term gray matter.

Writing work flows much more smoothly when you’re comfortable and focused. Period. And when you write from home you can certainly be in comfortable surroundings, but at teh same time be so sideways with your writing that you can literally feel the money slipping minute by minute like slippery liquid between your fingers.

A blog reader emailed me recently and asked: “how does one break into this business?”

Beyond actually netting a few part-time web writing projects, a couple of clients, or even a full-time web writing gig, a good start is in setting up your own spot, even a small space with a view, closet with a door, laundry-room in the basement, workbench in the garage or toolshed. Every little step builds confidence and solidifies your reality. Not everyone has a spare office hanging around….

Posted in Copywriters, freelance, internet marketing, making money, productivity, Uncategorized, web copywriting.

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Why Craigslist is NOT a Job Source for Web Writers Anymore

The trouble with Craigslist…

For newish writers looking to break into web copy quickly and easily and even for serious writers, Craigslist has been, in the past, an occasionally viable go-to resource for immediate telecommuting writing “gigs” — until recently.

This Road Closed. Some very smarmy marketers are posting pell-mell what appear to be legit sounding freelance writing jobs–spinning well written and appealing freelance/telecommuting job postings that fire directly between the eyes of even experienced web copywriters. Ads, for all intents and purposes, claim to be from companies looking for seasoned freelance writers and promising nice rates per hour. But send an email inquiry to nearly any of these and often what you’ll get in return is a link that takes you to an affiliate landing page that’s selling a subscription-based “work at home writing jobs” scheme. “For just a few dollars a month we’ll give you unlimited access to all the best freelance work from home writing jobs you can handle….” There goes the neighborhood :(

Are you pissed off now? You spent time — SPENT being the operative term — attaching your resume, maybe selecting a few writing samples from your arsenal and writing up a short but compelling cover letter only to have it sucked down by some automated affiliate marketing, money grubbing funnel. (yes, I did)

My advice– start looking elsewhere for writing jobs. If you don’t have your resume and a full profile setup on Monster.com or CareerBuilder, start now. Keep it fresh and tuned-up, set up job search filters with alerts to your email inbox.

NOTE: I actually landed my very first freelance writing gig through a web copywriting ad posted on Craigslist. It even paid well–GASP!, a rarity on CL–those were the good old days…

Posted in freelance, jobs, Uncategorized, web copywriting.

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Google Search Suggest Changes

Noticed anything different in the Google search suggest drop-down box when you enter a search term or phrase?

new Google search suggest sample

new Google search suggest sample

Why not use it to refine your keyword lists?

Posted in google, keywords, Trends, web copy tips.

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Wolfram Finally Emerges from Fractal Chaos Theory to Slay all Research Tools

Steven Wolfram has been relegated to backroom mad scientist geekdom for decades. I originally discovered him when I went on a personal dig into the nature of fractal geometry. The guy must have 10 condensed brains packed into his skull tight as sardines. This is the guy that taught the Google founders a thing or two about order and math. And look where they’ve brought us. But, Wolfram/Alpha is poised to potentially blow the roof of everything we expected of search and discovery.

If you use search engines to data mine, research and count on authoritative data and results then you’re going to dig this…

The WolframAlpha Blog

Huge article by Nova Spivack on Tech Crunch, Wolfram Alpha Computes Answers to Big Questions. This is Going to Be Big.

Fractal example:

Posted in copywriting resources, copywriting tools, Trends.

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What If You Wrote an Info Product You’d Like to Sell, Easily?

Maybe you’ve seen Scribd pages show up in Google searches while you’ve been surfing or researching. Or maybe someone has shared a Scribd page with you. If not it’s a document sharing database that’s searchable by the search engines. The newest advantage to Scribd, though: it’s about to launch a platform that let’s you easily upload your cleverly written info product– ebook, whitepaper, report, insiders’ guide– AND charge money. Nice.

Here’s the New York Times article, Scribd Invites Writers to Upload Work and Name Their Price

Posted in copywriting resources, making money.

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eBook Review: “Writing Kick-Ass Website Sales Copy” by Nick Usborne

A few weeks ago I bought WordTracker’s newest ebook by Nick Usborne, Writing Kick-Ass Website Sales Copy. I finally finished up the last few pages yesterday morning over my coffee.

In the span of 55 pages Usborne condenses the basics of sales copy for almost any online application. He makes sensible order of the key elements and strategies by breaking the content into 3 main sections:

Section 1: delivers 9 “Power-Up” Tactics– actionable steps you can take to literally turn up the volume on potentially weak sales copy.

Section 2: 3 tips for building the sales “message”

Section 3: given the above, 6 opportunities to scour your copy for every little spot you can blow the lid off netting customers.

I’ve highlighted a few things in the book, but what’s nice is that after reading the book you could strip out the table of contents and use it as a checklist in and of itself.

Cost: $39 and well worth that spend. Pay the money and it’s an immediate download, even personalized with your name on it. How’s that for instant gratification? Save your receipt for tax time.

Posted in copywriting resources, copywriting tools, keywords, Trends.

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Wired, Writing, and Earning Money While Flying the Friendly Skies

The debate over WiFi on planes has been smacked back and forth especially in the last couple of years. What

EARN even while you fly

EARN even while you fly

if your writing project, including staying in immediate touch with clients, and access to all the online research and resources you needed to stay productive and earning money were available while you’re flying?

Whether you’re leaping from one major city to another, or rocketing cross-country; whether on business or for pleasure–the news is that on-board and in-flight WiFi is a near reality and may even be closer than you think. What’s the hold-up? Likely the infrastructure that not only includes the actual technology, but the means by which to collect a fee for use.

Posted in Copywriters, freelance, news, productivity, technology, web copywriting.

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Swiss Army Knife PLUS Data Backup and Fingerprint Encryption…Wow

I’m not sure why, but few web copywriters ever talk about sensible stuff like data backup. You have to have loved and lost writing files to really appreciate the value of some data tools I believe. I have lost…on more than one occasion, in fact.

In this month’s Wired magazine I was just wowed by the full-page spread on the soon to be released Victorinox (aka Swiss Army knife) Presentation Pro — combo knife-data must-have. Check it out, this ultimate tool put ultimate cool in data backup. Armed to the teeth:

knife blade

scissors

swiss army soldier's knife with data backup and built-in pen

file and flathead screwdriver

keychain

here’s the Mission-Impossible stuff….

Bluetooth remote

32 MB memory stick

Laser pointer

Fingerprint encrypted sensor (OMG….)

Does that get you salivating or what? All I want for Christmas….

Official release to the market is sometime this month and reports are that it will run you a cool $330. I can’t really find any good picture of it on the official SwissArmy.com site.

The image I have here is a shot of one of the V. Swiss Flash line of soldier knives–equally cool (1-16 GB flash drive, and models armed with laser pointers and ball point pens), and at a price any web copywriter can afford (<$25 to $145), you just won’t get the fingerprint sensor….:(

Victorinox Swissflash Flight 2GB Ruby Multi-Tool

Victorinox Swissflash 16GB Ruby Multi-Tool

I’ll add a product link to the new V Presentation Pro 32 MB Multi-tool (fingerprint encryption so you can be as rugged-cool writing and presenting as Jason Statham (Transporter, T-2, T-3, Crank, Crank High Voltage…))

Posted in copywriting tools, writing gadgets.

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Can You Write Web Copy for the Hispanic Market? Lucky Dog, you…

If you can write copy for a Hispanic audience — you’ve got it made online. First, massively fewer web copywriters can write in Spanish, or any other language for that matter. Second, I’ve secretly wished for a while now that I had the gift of writing in Spanish because the audience would have to be sorely untapped. In support of my earlier conjecture–the New York Times reports, The Hispanic Audience Grows Online. Basic and straight to the point headline, there.

Here’s a summary:

comScore–a research firm that you should have on your list of go-to copy research sources–can report that 11% of the online audience is now Hispanic (still low, comparatively), are concentrated in the 18-34 age range, and prefer entertainment and media heavy sites….there are hundreds of niche markets buried in that fodder, I guarantee.

Posted in internet marketing, niche copywriting, Trends, web copywriting.

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Better Public Data Research from Google: Add This to Your Writing Resources

Google just juiced up its search results for public data–Bureau of Labor Statistics, specifically unemployment, are included in the first round of interactive results. The Official Google Blog explains Google’s new suped-up search feature, but here are a few of my own screenshots:

Public data searches for unemployment + [location] returns SERP like this:

When I click on the graph, www.google.com/publicdata, I get this:

The beauty of this search feature–and what will be applicable to so much other data in the future–is the fact that I can begin layering other data sources on top of this, comparing other states, counties, etc.

You can do the same type of search for population + city, state, but the appearance of public data charts is uneven. I was returned a graph for population new haven, ct, and population new york ny, but failed to get one for population raleigh, nc, and population portland, or…

Posted in copywriting tools, freelance, web copywriting.

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