Use These 8 Ideas to Update Old Blog Posts and Boost Search Traffic

Updating old blog posts is a smart way to make your content marketing efforts pay off. It’s less time consuming and guarantees results. Down for it?

Writing is a demanding and chaotic process. There’s a lot that needs getting done before you see the fruits of your labor.

Identify target keywords, generate a handful of ideas, finalize a couple, research, trip down the rabbit hole, before finally articulating words swirling in your head on to paper. 

On top of that, you have to obsessively worry about publishing a double-digit number of articles—every single month. After all, companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts.

While there’s no running away from working hard, how about working smart? Not that I’m asking you to cut corners, but simply telling you to be onboard with another strategy to make your content creation efforts pay off.

It’s a simple one.

You go back to the posts that are married to the debris of dust collected over the years and give them a shine. Put simply: update them.

Why update old blog posts? 

To leg-up in this extremely competitive content marketing world.

Ever since businesses have realized the importance of content marketing they’ve started creating more content.

Unbelievable as it may sound, but every 0.5 seconds a new post is published. And on WordPress alone 70.5 million new posts are published each month.

Does every post get read? Here’s what folks at Ahrefs discovered after studying almost a billion pages:

91 percent of pages get no organic traffic ahrefs content explorer
90.88% of all pages in the Content Explorer index get zero traffic from Google and 4.5% of them get less than ten visits per month.

Clearly, among other things that you’re doing to bump your search traffic, if updating older posts isn’t one, you’re probably going to hit a dead end. After all, pulling all the strings is what’ll ultimately drive results.

HubSpot reported that 90% of their blog leads and 75% of blog traffic came from their old posts. Sure you can’t overlook them then.

What’s more, according to Orbit Media’s poll, bloggers who regularly update older articles report strong results. 💪

Source: Orbit Media

Fair enough.

So what makes them vouch for blog optimization?  💁‍♀️

Bumps up blog traffic with minimum effort

You don’t start from scratch. The groundwork’s already done, which means you’re only required to fine-tune your blog post. A couple of stitches here and there and you’re au courant.

Creates a better user experience

When you update your post you’re helping your reader with the information that is relevant to them at the time they’re reading it. There’s no stale advice, meaning you’ve proved yourself as a real-time problem-solver.

Extends the shelf life of every piece you update

It’s a fact that even your most loyal fan hasn’t read everything you’ve ever written. But when you do update old content you improve its chances of being rediscovered and making sure your efforts don’t go in vain.

Which blog posts should you optimize?

Valid question, especially if you have been running a blog for a long time and have a vault full of articles that have accumulated dust over the years.

Which ones to pick from the lot though? To rule out any confusion, listed are a few that deserve immediate attention.

#1 High-traffic generating blog posts

You’re well aware that spying on competitors is a thing. Your rivals are already using your top-ranking and performing posts as a benchmark. But instead of going smug, do an honest content audit to make your content even better. Are there any key areas that could do with a facelift?

#2 Posts ranking, but not in the top 10

Brian Dean devised a content relaunch formula and jumped from rank#7 rank#4 on SERPs, increasing this post’s organic traffic by 260.72% in merely two weeks. This big success earned him new backlinks, boosted his rankings, and helped generate traffic from social channels too.

#3 Evergreen blog posts

Evergreen posts are what HubSpot likes to call compounding posts. They have a longer shelf life and so account for a large proportion of blog traffic. Clearly, and because they’re being read more over a period of time, they’ll surely do much better with an update. 


Compounding posts are your ‘How-to, What, Why, Best’ posts that address broader topics.

#4 Posts with multiple backlinks, but low traffic

The reason you’re earning backlinks is that your content is top-notch quality. Or why else will people link at all? But even when your post’s being appreciated, it might not reach the traffic magnet status. Perhaps it lacks something that readers are looking for?

#5 Rockstar posts losing their shine and rankings

Just the way old photographs gathers dust in a room that’s locked for eternity, over a period of time, old blog posts too lose their shine. So dig them up first and salvage them to restore their rockstar status!

#6 Posts with good social engagement

Using tools, such as BuzzSumo, track posts that have done or are doing exceptionally well on social media and give them touch-ups, wherever necessary. Doing this will ensure that your articles continue to grab as many social eyeballs they possibly can!

BuzzSumo flushes out data on top-performing content’s social engagement.

#7 Posts with high traffic, low conversions

The whole idea of content upgrade and a content offer is they add extra value to the reader. But if these posts aren’t converting as expected, in all possibility, they’re out of line. Or the CTA is confusing. Your best bet is to fix that. HubSpot added a press release content offer to one of their posts about press releases. The conversions shot up by a whopping 240%.

What can you do to update old blog posts

Follow on.

#1 Make it bigger, better, and in-depth

The biggest risk of writing long blog posts is running out of ideas on what to cover. To hit the word limit you might end up adding irrelevant details, or what’s famously called fluff. But readers are intelligent to recognize that and punish you for that by bouncing off. 

To avoid that from happening here’s all that you must: 

#1 Find out what your readers want to know

The easiest is to weigh in on the intelligence that tools such as Answer the Public, Semrush keyword research, and Ahrefs Keyword explorer pop for you. By answering some of those questions and covering the themes you can easily turn your post into a brilliant, share-worthy material.

Another great idea is to check ‘Google auto-suggest’ and ‘people also ask section’. 

Take free help from Google.

#2 Hang out on discussion groups, chats

Other than Reddit and Quora think of hopping in on Facebook and LinkedIn groups. They might not be as popular, but you never know where you might find inspiration!

It’s also a good idea to actively attend Twitter chats from within your industry. You’ll come across the pain points and questions your target audience wants answers to, which you can then address in your post(s). Later, you can direct the same set of people to your post. Howzzat!

Finally, read your readers’ comments on your posts. Have they asked a question that you can answer to in the post? 

Bonus tips: Pick common phrases and words your audience uses and include them in your article. Since they are semantically linked to your topic, they’ll create a ripple effect and result in a surge in your post’s ranking and readership.

#3 Analyze the top-ranking posts

They’re sitting up there on the leader board for a reason. Find out what they’re doing to land that hot spot.

That said, don’t simply copy their success formula of the top 10 pages on SERP. In the end, you’ll simply be summing up what everybody else is saying. How does that make you any different?

Granted you will rank, but will your readers not make out that you’re spamming them with rehashed information? Of course, silly. Even SEO agencies know they’re rigging their way to the top.

The folks at the Animalz raised the same issue and discussed in their podcast episode called The Copycat Content Crisis.

How do you stand out then?

Leverage your tone of voice and spin a completely new narrative to say things no one else is talking about. Dig deep to find out what’s missing. You’ll definitely find the hook, which will fill the content gap and get more eyeballs on your content.

#2 Take the visual meter several notches up

It breaks my heart and worries my eyes to see posts that aren’t big on visual content. 😯

Don’t we already know that visuals increase the number of page views by 92% and also the time spent on the page? Or are you waiting for a wake-up call? If so, consider this a gentle reminder.

Ideas? Plentiful.

Let’s say, you have an article on content marketing stats. Summarize it in an infographic and embed it right at the bottom of the post. For journalistic-style articles, highlight key quotes in images. Here’s an example from one of the Databox articles

These imposing images attract peoples’ attention and stops them in their tracks.

For the posts laden with images, replace a few that pass off as too old for today. This is particularly important if you’ve recently undergone re-branding. This exercise might seem futile, but suffice it to say that your blog content, especially the ones you plan on optimizing, cannot be off-brand.

Over to videos.

Add them if your post explains a complicated concept or your product. 73% of U.S. adults, according to Animoto survey, are more likely to purchase a product or service after watching a video that explains it.

With both text and video on the page, you end up serving two sets of people — ones who prefer text over video and vice versa. Also taken care of are the people who enjoy combination content formats.

For example, if it’s an instructive guide on using three needles to knit a complicated pattern, a video will be a better visual aid. Or if you have a couple of product updates, think of adding a video to communicate the changes. It makes for a more one-to-one, personal experience for your customers. Folks at Wistia are great at it: 

The post also has gifs to create an interactive and fun on-page experience.

Custom visuals (infographics, charts, graphs) are another great visual content addition and can be used to explain complex topics and represent numbers. Several tools, such as Piktograph, Vengage, Mind the Graph are available to help you create them in the easiest and fun way possible.

Bonus tip: SEO-optimize images to increase the chances of other people finding, using, and sharing them.

Further reading: 12 Types of Awesome Visual Content You Can Use in Your Blog Posts

#3 Format your post

Back in the early 2000s formatting wasn’t really a thing because Google algorithm functioned in a different manner. With time though, things have evolved. And for better.

Today Google gives special preference to content that’s written and been presented in a certain way to the internet audience. Why because people’s reading habits have changed.

According to research by the Nielsen Group, only 16% of people read word-by-word. The rest are scanners and scavenge for pieces of information that are important to them.

Want more? 55% of readers spend only 15 seconds on a blog. Reason being? They don’t have time to waste on content that’s not fit for consumption in the time when an infinite number of things are clamoring for their attention. 

So here are a couple of things you can do to serve scanners and skimmers to boost your page’s readability: 

  • Go for a large font size, preferably 16px.
  • Write short and crisp paragraphs.
  • Use header tags to tell readers where to look. 
  • Use bold text to highlight important information.
  • Use bullet points to break chunky paragraphs and information.
  • Break monotony with visual content – videos, gifs, images, etc. 
  • Conclusion should summarise the article.

Bonus tip: For long-form content, add a table of contents with anchor links, making it easier for readers to skip to sections that answer their questions. Google too is able to understand the structure of content and send readers to info matching to their search query. Here’s how Google includes anchor links right beneath the search result:

Other non-format related pointers: 

  • Use active voice.
  • Write like you talk. No one likes listening to sermons. #ItsTrue
  • Incorporate semantic keywords or keywords related to the topic.
  • Use Grammarly or other tools to get rid of silly grammar mistakes.
  • For an interruption-free read make sure links open in a new window.

#4 Keep it fresh and juicy

It’s a good practice to spruce your content with recent studies and stats. But over a period of time they turn stale. That’s why citing fresh research and numbers is more fitting and a clever thing to do. 

Your readers will count you as a more credible source compared to blog owners who haven’t bothered getting the early 90’s stats off of their websites. You get the picture? 😈

Another option is to present both the current and past stats for your readers to get a comparative view. It’s an instant way of getting a response out of them!

Think of topical issues, news, and trends. Brainstorm how you can use those to give old posts a new spin or where adding them makes sense. 

Google trends is a handy tool to discover what’s being talked about around the world. Pick a category, type a topic and it’ll prompt data including the search volume and geographical information. Then there’s BuzzSumo that spots trending topics and what’s making the maximum noise on social. Using this intel you can easily tap on to your audience’s pulse and give your content an instant boost. 

#5 Add and update internal links

When you add internal links, you make it easier for Google to understand what you’re talking about, as well as see the expanse of your expertise on the subject matter.

Plus, your readers’ dwell time on site also increases, which is a signal to Google that this website content is high quality.

Here’s what you’ll do:

Make a list of pages that relate to the post you want to update. Then scan for spots where those juicy links most fit. Et voila, you’re done before you know it.

You can also remove links that make no sense and replace them with relevant ones to improve overall user experience. Also use tools like Redirection to reroute old URLs. NinjaOutreach increased their organic traffic by 40% doing exactly that.

Basically, the idea is to be as helpful as you can be to your audience and give them as many informative resources as possible. Doing so you’ll earn their trust and you’ll become their go-to resource. 

Caveat: Don’t go overboard by stuffing internal links. 2-4 links are enough.

#6 Get rid of broken links

There’s a fair chance that on several old posts some links might be broken. As per an SEMrush study, It could be because you changed the URL unthinkingly, forgot to set redirects, you lost the page during migration, deleted it, etc.

Whatever the cause, having them on your page makes for a frustrating onsite experience and damages your reputation. In fact, it compromises the overall efforts put in on-page SEO. So exterminate them as soon as you can.

The process is simple.

For internal links:

Step 1: Use a tool of your choice to identify the broken and orphan links. Wordstream, Ahrefs, and Semrush are paid ones, whereas Google and Broken Link Checker are free.

Step 2: Remove or replace them.

For broken backlinks:

You obviously don’t have control over fixing them, so the best is to run a report.

Step 1: Using the same tool identify broken links.

Step 2: Either reach out to the website linking out to you to let them know the link’s broken and replace it. Or, if you haven’t yet redirected the page, do so, otherwise you’ll risk losing free traffic.

#7 Meta titles and descriptions

Elise Dopson, a B2B writer, within a month of optimizing meta titles and descriptions, noticed her blog traffic increased by 54%, impressions by 57%, and the average ranking position jumped by 10 places.

How come?

Suffice it to say that when you write an on-point title and description it drives the CTRs through the roof. Your readers know what exactly the post’s about and if it matches their search intent they click it. After all, that’s the first thing your readers interact with.

So get down to optimizing weak or vague post headline/description to best communicate the value to your readers. If it’s dead as a log, then it doesn’t matter if you’ve packed gold in the piece, no one’s ever going to click on it.

Gradually, with more people finding and clicking your article, Google RankBrain will definitely take note and reward you with a boost in your post’s search rank. 

Getting ready to rewrite better titles.

According to HubSpot study, bracketed clarifications in headlines, for example, [videos], [photos], [interview] performed 38% better than those without any clarifications.

So go for it and see if it changes anything for you.

You can also include year in the title of posts that continues to be important, year on year. For example, <51 Content Marketing Stats to Fuel Your Marketing Strategy [Updated October 2019]>.

Right in the first glimpse, the reader will know it’s not a clickbait article with stats quoted from 10 years ago.

What also works is updating the time stamp or the published date so that readers are aware that they’re on a resource that has the most recent piece of information they’re looking for. Here’s what I found when I looked for IoT stats. Seems like the strategy worked out for Comparitech.

#8 Rework your keyword strategy

First off, you’ll enter the blog URL in whichever tool you use to work your keyword strategy.

Let’s say you are familiar with SEMrush. The moment you hit search after inputting the post link, you’ll be shown a list of keywords you’re ranking for.

If you spot some keywords you didn’t target, and your topic is still very much relevant, it’s a good idea to spin content around it for real SEO advantage.

You should, in fact, also use Ubersuggest, LSIgraph, or other similar tools to find similar, additional semantic keywords that you can use on your post to meet your searcher’s intent.

These keywords are closely linked to your target keyword, and including them in your blog will be quite an organic process. You would be surprised to see the quality of your post improve.

The idea is to make your post a complete meal to satiate your readers’ thirst for quality content. And this is your chance, so go for it.

Conclusion

By now you know the various benefits of updating your blog. You don’t start from ground zero rather beef up the existing piece with more details so that it works its magic on your readers. Besides, Google, as we all know, loves walking past (read: crawling) and giving preference to quality fresh content.

So boot-up keeping user experience in mind and update your post to stay relevant to your readers and their search intent.

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How To Write An Outstanding Long Blog Post And Boost Readership

There ain’t a shortcut to climb the popularity charts. You’ve gotta know what it takes to make posts savoury for your readers. What are these? Read on to know!

Know the feeling when you put your heart and soul into writing a post and all you get is a view a month?

I get it.

I’ve been there, but have also managed to get myself out of the rut. Of what I learnt in the due process, the one thing I can vouch for is the fact that there is NO SHORTCUT to climb the popularity charts.

You’ve got to figure out how to make your blog posts and articles savoury for your readers.

The right ingredients and tempering.

The kind of content they connect with, share, and read the most.

Once you crack that code you’ll be appreciated for the expertise you bring to the table + be rewarded for it too.

To help you wrap your heads around it why don’t you go through all the six factors that’ll make your long blog post an instant hit?

#1 Write a Compelling Headline

Agreed, it’s challenging to come up with a near-perfect headline, but that shouldn’t stop you from waking every nook and cranny of your brain to conjure one.

Why?

Because if you go with a weak headline you ruin your chances of ever being read. It doesn’t matter if you’ve packed gold in your content, if the reader isn’t convinced to go past the title then you’ve already lost them.

Solution? Obsess about headlines. For starters, remember that only 8 out of 10 people read headline copy, but only 2 finally read it. That’s how tiny the window of opportunity is.

Some of the best practices include the following:

#1 Take up the Upworthy 25 Headlines challenge

Many popular marketers and bloggers root for it. You might find it frustrating, but with time you’ll surprise yourself with your creativity and come up with an ace of a headline. Every. Single. Time. 😀

You can also brainstorm with your team and write 50 headlines. I know it sounds crazy, but you’ll whip out a cracker of a headline.

Further Reading: These are the 16 painful lessons I learned writing 10,211 headlines in 100 days

#2 Watch the Length

  • Write a six-words headline, or summarise the purpose of your article right in the beginning and the end of the title. KISSmetrics reported that readers pay attention to the first and last three words.
  • Next step is to break the six-word headline rule. Folks at Outbrain say:

“Eight words had a 21% higher clickthrough rate than the average title.”

  • Pay attention to headline length on social media too. It must convince people to click, read and share. Usually how-to, list post and questions perform well on social. Though don’t ignore the fact that each medium caters to a different audience. So customise headlines for all.

According to HubSpot:

“Headlines between 8–12 words in length got the most Twitter shares on average. As for Facebook, headlines with either 12 or 14 words received the most Likes.”

#3 Pack it with Emotions

At the end of the day you’re talking to humans, not machines. ^_^

CoSchedule analysed over 10 million headlines and found that those with high Emotional Value Score (EMV) get more shares on social media.

If you’re interested in finding your headlines’ EMV, use a free tool called the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer. It’s easy to use. Simply copy + paste your headline and submit it for analysis. In addition to the EMV score, you’ll know which emotions you’re able to stir in your customer’s mind: Intellectual, empathetic or spiritual.

As per the tool developers:

Intellectual impact words are especially effective when your goal is to arouse curiosity, and when offering products and services that require reasoning or careful evaluation.”

Clearly, if you use them in your headline you can positively influence your readers.

Three category of words you can use to boost readership

Speaking of which, would you like to know what exactly are these power words? Then download this list created by the generous CoSchedule team.

You’ll notice the listed words trigger positive emotions and promise readers something valuable. For instance, exclusive, attractive, innovative, ultimate etc. There’s no way readers won’t readily trade their precious time for value.

So does that mean you must stay away from negative superlatives in the titles?

Not quite.

Outbrain studied 65,000 titles and compared positive superlative headline , negative superlative headlines and no superlative headlines. They found out that the average CTR on headlines with negative superlatives were 63% higher than positive ones.

Is it because we’ve become increasingly immune to overused positive words? Or, are we affected by negative words so much that we’re drawn to them?

Whatever the reason, the bottom line is: To tread with caution and always think context wise. Most importantly, test to see what’s working for you.

What tools can help your write a good headline?

Full disclosure, I personally use CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer (not an affiliate link). Headlines are scored on various parameters and suggestions are made on how you can make it better in terms of character length, combination of power words, emotional quotient and also its readability.

You can also head to BuzzSumo and take inspiration from posts that get maximum shares. Decode their secret formula to get a head start.

Look at the posts with max shares. What did they do differently?

#2 Nail That Phenomenal Introduction

After the headline, the next most important element of your blog post is the first sentence. Call it the hook. If it doesn’t make your reader want to read the next line and the next then nothing else will! Together, these sentences make for a fab introduction.

I know. I know. It’s a pressure situation to come up with introduction (as if the title wasn’t enough!). If it’s any consolation, most writers, including me, get sweaty palms writing them. Self-doubt plagues our minds. We begin to question our creativity; overthink for hours at a stretch. Our heart sobs and our eyes don’t believe what we type onscreen.

To overcome this creative paralysis, some don’t budge until they’ve nailed it while others leave it to the end. What’s better of the two?

Depends on what works for you.

As for me, I swing between writing introductions first or last. And if there’s one thing I’ve learnt it is that it helps to write them in the end, when you’re done with the rest of the post. That’s because:

  • I know what I’ve got on the page and know what to include in it.
  • Sometimes the blog outline changes. As simple as that.
  • I’m able to write an introduction that reiterates what I’ve said in the conclusion.

Anyway, whatever you decide, do think about your readers’ burning pain points. Make them see what’s in it for them.

As far as the introduction length is concerned, in his book, On Writing Well,William Zinsser says:

Sometimes the length may depend on the audience you’re writing for. Readers of a literary review expect its writers to start somewhat discursively, and they will stick with those writers for the pleasure of wondering where they will emerge as they move in leisurely circles toward the eventual point. But I urge you not to count on the reader to stick around. Readers want to know—very soon—what’s in it for them.

Get the gist? The point is to capture your reader’s attention immediately. Here’s how:

#1 Hook them with intriguing statistics

It should make the reader say, ‘What the hell did I just get to know!’.

But this will need some digging because a few numbers are tossed around so often that they stop having any effect on the reader. So obviously look for the ones that aren’t oft-quoted.

#2 Share a story

All of us are born story tellers. We either speak from experience or make stuff up. But as writers, too often, we forget it’s available to us. Become conscious of that and don’t let untold stories slip away into the abyss!

My recent favorite example is a post by Sonia Thompson. She starts off with a perfect hook to cause intrigue as well as entertain the reader. Then the story begins to unfold; she speaks about her childhood anxiety and goes on to explain what caused it. Within a few sentences she’s able to build suspense which forces the reader to glide from one sentence to the next and so on till they’re finally able to join the dots.

Source

#3 Ask Questions

The moment you do that the reader starts thinking about the answer. It’s especially true for open-ended questions. And in any case, whether they have an answer or not, they will read to douse their curiosity or at least to know your take.

Here’s an example from Copyhackers I’d love for you take inspiration from:

And another one from Ahrefs. Some of you may see it’s a boring beginning, but I like the fact that the write is being straight-forward. It helps the reader for they immediately know what to expect (also obvious from the title).

Source

#4 Mix it up

Ask a couple of questions, follow-up with a story and head straight to stats. Whatever helps you make an impressive kickstart, though not in any particular order.

Source

#3 Come up with a Cohesive Structure

Have you ever been to a construction site? Seen the workers lay the foundation of a building and finally have a skeletal framework ready? Great. Do you know why it’s important they do that? So that the building doesn’t crumble. After all, it is what’s going to do most of the heavy lifting.

Similarly even your writing needs a strong foundation aka a blog outline. Without it you’ll pretty much be driving a car that has no steering wheel! Sorta! In short, you’ll be headed nowhere.

How to come up with a blog outline?

The overarching idea behind getting the outline in place is to build your narrative.

Every line, every paragraph must amplify the one before it. It makes sure you don’t jump around a little too much and stick to the big theme.

So get some clarity on the ONE, BIG idea you want to address + who is going to read it.

Then sit down and begin the outlining process. It will, more or less, involve the following steps:

  • Zero down on a working title.
  • Work that introduction. Remember it’s a draft, not meant to be perfect.
  • Write everything you want your reader to learn.

At this point your outline will look messy.

Don’t panic. Keep at it.

  • Club overlapping ideas under various subheads/big themes.
  • Do you see any smallish points that can be stacked under big sections?
  • Analyse whether each section points back to the main idea of the post? If not, scrap them.
  • Next, research and insert reference links and notes under relevant headers. See to it that each subhead gets a supporting statistic.
  • Once again, gather as many relevant stats because cold hard stats make all the difference!
  • Draft a conclusion that ties up the entire post. Again, it’s still a draft so don’t bully yourself to writing, rewriting until you’ve nailed it.
  • Edit your outline to avoid repeating yourself anywhere.

Et voila! Your post outline is ready!

One of the advantages of writing an outline is that not only do you save time, but also become a more disciplined writer. You’ll not wander aimlessly because you have, in front of you, plenty of dashes to fill!

Time to get busy!

#4 Work Those Visual Elements

Posts with appropriate visuals generate nearly twice as many views as blog without them. Having realized that, 32% of marketers—a 17% jump from 2018—want to use more visuals in their content this year.

You, too, can join the club. Choose from illustrations, diagrams, screenshots, infographics, animated GIFs to videos, quotes and explainer images to accompany your posts.

Particularly, if you create custom images, you’ll earn many backlinks when other businesses use your image and give you credit.

Here’s what your peers love using the most:

Source

If you notice, infographics are quite popular. And why not? You can being a color-rich medium it increase people’s willingness to read them by 80%!

Further Reading: 9 Types of Infographics and When to Use Them

If you’re still sitting on the fence on whether to spend time on images then, hopefully, the following will change your mind.

#1 Images are as much engaging as informational

As per an eye-tracking research, people actually spend 10% more time looking at visuals than reading text. And more time spent on your page is good because it proves people are engaged with on-page content.

But why do they stay back seeing images on a post? The answer is that our brain processes images about 60,000 times faster than text. If so, should you flood your post with dozens of visuals? NOPE!

The idea is to use images that support the text. Ones that give readers a breathing space to process all that they’ve read and then . Give them enough time to hang in there, process the image and then continue reading the rest of the post.

#2 Images drive more search traffic

It’s no secret that Google crawls images which means you can get a lot of traffic from search engines. But for that to happen, you’ll have to optimise them.

  • Check your file name before uploading it to your media library. Rename files you’re storing as IMG.96.Jpeg or Screenshot_1. Be more specific and stay as close to what’s in the image.
  • If you’re using WordPress, add alt text. That’s because in case the image fails to load, the browser will display the alt image. Plus, the visually impaired people using screen readers can access and understand what’s in it. (How helpful and considerate of you!) 🙂

How to write a good alt text?

  • Be specific and as close to describing the image as possible.
  • Keep it short. 125 characters tops.
  • Use target keyword; avoid if it’s not helping you describe the image.

Let’s take a look at alt text in action for the image below:

Image by Tasos_Lekkas on Pixabay

Basic, non-descriptive: <Cat>

Better, descriptive: <Golden-yellow cat>

Best one: <Portrait of a golden-yellow cat on a wall>

How many images should you add in a post?

Some experts say after every 150 words, while others think it’s best to use them after every 300 words.

I, on the other hand, would ask you to use images that support your content, whether after one line or 100. Mainly because a lot depends on the kind of writing involved. For example, if it’s a step-by-step guide then you will need explainer images and you can’t wait to write 150 or 300 lines before you can add a visual aid.

According to MOZ.com:

“If an image truly doesn’t convey any meaning/value and is just there for design purposes, it should live within the CSS, not HTML.”

#3 Image-rich post gets more views and social shares

Imagine there are two versions of ‘Noob guide: How to Master Using your Twitter account’. One has solid content and well-timed and explanatory screenshots, while the other one is barely helpful in terms either text or visuals. Which of the two are you likely to share? The first one?

So would I because it’s super helpful. In fact, I would go on to share it because I want to appear helpful. Wouldn’t you agree? All of us have a social reputation to live up to and earn social currency in form of praise.

Now as a marketer/writer, use human psychology to your advantage. Spruce your blog post with helpful images and win. And while you’re at it, use correct image to show on social channels. Give people a glimpse of what’s in it. One social media account at a time!

#5 Cleverly Pick Semantic Keywords

A lifetime ago, Google measured the relevancy of a page based on keyword density. Today though, things have changed. It takes into account whether your content is a close match to the searcher’s intent.

A recent Google research paper clearly states that they use “words frequently occurring together” to understand an article’s main topic:

In order to do that Google uses an indexing and retrieval method called as Latent Semantic Indexing. It’s based on the principle that words used in the same contexts tend to have similar meanings.

Basis those words, Google is able to make overall sense of the on-page content. Meaning, it’s able to draw connections between those terms that occur or fit in similar context.

Basically, these are the keywords that support the main topic. They branch off of the main keyword to fit the context and aren’t exactly synonyms.

For example, an article about website personalisation that doesn’t also speak about user experience, AB testing, confidence index etc. won’t get a vote of confidence from Google. So think about how you’re going to include them in the post such that they seem like a natural fit.

Also, use them in meta descriptions and as ALT text for images.

How to shortlist LSI keywords?

#1 Use Google Autocomplete

The search predictions are generated based on what others are searching and what’s popularly searched. It also gives you an idea about the range of topics and information available on the internet. So take that into account.

Let’s say you’re writing a post on website optimization ideas. Go to the search bar and type the keyword. Pay special attention to the bold words because they are some closely linked terms to your topic. Include them in your content.

Google Autocomplete section

#2 Head to ‘People also ask’ section

Consider these recommendations as keywords and broader topics.

By using these keywords/key phrases you will expand the scope of your post, answer questions that people actually ask and also prove to be worth your readers’ time!

Additional benefit? You’ll earn brownie points for taking the pain to write a thorough, exhaustive post!

#3 Use LSI Keyword Tools

So there are a few tools such as LSI Keywords, LSI Graph, Key Search, Answer the Public etc. you can use to shortlist semantic keywords to write a rounded post.

LSI graph suggests semantic keyword

Further Reading: 25 AMAZING Free SEO Tools [2019 Reviews]

#6 Join the Dots in the Conclusion

Much like the introduction, some writers have their fingers in knots when it comes to wrapping up the post.

And rightly so. But that doesn’t mean it deserves little attention.

Conclusions are equally important and should sum up the main points of your post.

You can also send readers to places where they can learn more about the topic, or lead them to call-to-action to drive email signups or any other type of conversion.

For instance, should they follow you on social media? Download your ebook? Sign-up for a webinar? Whatever it be, make sure there’s only one CTA. That alone will work its magic!

Over To You!

Phew and hurrah! Honestly, I’m both dizzy and delighted to have written this long-ish post! I hope you get why I say that?!

Writing high-converting and eye-grabbing long posts is daunting. Where do you start? What do you include? What do you leave out? Then comes editing.

In short, it can be quite the roller-coaster of a ride.

But now that you’re in the know about what makes for a star post, you’re as ready as you can get to write your own. 😉

Remember: it begins with an arresting headline. Next comes that perfect little hook and a sound blog structure that moves the reader line after line until they reach the very end.

Don’t forget images as they take the cognitive load off the reader’s mind. And, so that Google takes notice of your expertise and efforts, include semantic keywords. You’ll flatter both the human and machine alike. *drum roll*

Tell me if you find these tips helpful and/or if you’re doing something else to polish yours.

4 Reasons That Will Convince You to Publish Long Blog Posts

You’ll kick yourself for not knowing them earlier!

Every content creator faces the dilemma of whether to write a long blog post or not. It’s a lot of hard work, after all.

It requires days of research and a lot of time, effort and skill to get the whole piece together. Besides, who knows if it’s going to pay off?

Correct?

I quite feel you.

It’s a tough decision to make. But if you have stories to tell and interesting insights and advice to dole out, don’t hold yourself back from publishing them. Consider it as a stepping stone to content marketing success.

Still on the fence? Stick with me. I’m going to show you why publishing long posts is rewarding for your brand and website.

Let’s get busy.

#1 Readers crave meaty posts.

Wait. What? Aren’t our attention spans notoriously short? Frankly, it’s debatable. I like to call this good ‘ol news a myth though not without a good reason.

We pay attention to anything as long as it’s interesting.

I see some of you raising your eyebrows, but can you explain Netflix and Chill all day long? What do you think makes people stay put for hours at a stretch if they’re so fickle-minded? Why is it you binge on some podcasts? Why do you leave reviews of books calling them unputdownable?

I have an answer and it’s not complicated: We latch onto quality content. We’ll never waste a minute on something that’s all shine no substance.

The same logic applies to the marketing world too.

So how do you make sure you write A+ content for the right people?

First, find out as much as you can about your target audience. You can follow the methods your peers use to research theirs:

Further reading: How To Find Your Target Audience And Create The Best Content That Connects

It’s recommended you also have one-on-one sessions with your readers. The pay off is huge as you’ll gain much better insight than you would with surveys. You’ll come across words and phrases that they associate with your brand. And that intelligence can help you with your overall content marketing efforts.

Once you have gathered substantial information about your reader, you can fit it into a template similar to the ones available on Xtensio. The sample below is pretty straight-forward. You can also use HubSpot’s MakeMyPersona, which is free to use.

Important note: Keep updating user personas for with the change in time and technology their expectations of you change as well.

Second, you must look inward to know yourself better. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who’s your competitor?
  • What differentiates you from them?
  • What pain points and problems does your product solve?
  • What does your current customer base look like?

With these questions answered, you’ll have a clear idea about who to write for. And let me tell you it’s a glorious win because you’ll be better equipped to create content your audience wants to read + finds useful.

Finally, assuming you now know who your reader is, how about we address the kind of content you should publish.

Ideally your blog should be a healthy mix of what you do and your reader’s interests. Cover broader topics that relate to your product and services. These should spark curiosity and conversation among your customers.

For example, the Coschedule team makes editorial calendar software, but other than the stuff they should talk about, they also spend time writing on topics that ‘expands their content core’. Clearly, they know what it takes to establish a connection with their audience and make their content marketing efforts pay off.

And since we’ve touched upon what to write, I can’t help but ask you to keep your readers hooked by:

  • Loading it with actionable advice to solve your readers’ problems.
  • Giving relevant industry examples and quote hard data points.
  • Providing a refreshing take.

Lucia Fontaina, Marketing Director at Quuu published a post on Co-marketing on Valentine’s Day. Whoever thought love could mean this too, eh?

Or, this post by Taru Bhargava that was inspired by the famous Marie Kondo Netflix series.

#2 Much like your readers, Google likes long blog posts too.

..and it shows on the SERPs. In other words, it helps you win the SEO game.

serpIQ conducted a study involving 20,000 keywords. They found out that the average content length of each of the top ten results was more than 2,000 words.

More recently, CoSchedule found that every post of theirs that ranked on the first page of Google was over 2,000 words.

The question then arises: Why does Google favor content that calls for such heavy reading? 

Comprehensive posts are a marker of quality.They cater to an audience that values in-depth content and isn’t scared off by the number of scrolls it takes to reach to the bottom of the page.

There’s proof. A few years ago, Google posted an update saying:

“10% of users’ daily information needs involve learning about a broad topic. That’s why today we’re introducing new search results to help users find in-depth articles.”

Interestingly, nothing has changed to date. Although, I must add that merely publishing long blog posts doesn’t guarantee you’ll rank well. You must deliver value rather than filling pages with fluff.

Plus, it must have relevant keywords, including those that help search engines know what your page is all about. They are called latent semantic terms that have been brilliantly explained in this post. However, if you’re short on time (yes, this post’s a long one), watch this video instead:

Are you done with watching it? Awesome.

So far, if you noticed everything points to tailoring content to meet your searcher’s intent. If it does, they will spend more time with you and increase the average time spent on your website which according to Google is a strong indicator of your expertise. What more, it will reward you as you’re going the extra mile to offer in-depth answers to your readers.

Hoorah!

Moving on, it’s important you focus on your blog post’s readability as it makes your content more accessible.

This is what you need to do:

  • Use headers tags to show content hierarchy.
  • Bullet list important points to make content skimmable. As it is people spend only 37 seconds reading a piece of content.
  • Write short sentences containing no more than 20-25 words.
  • Pick simple, short words over mouthy difficult ones. Paramount, for example, can be replaced with important.
  • Aim for paragraphs no longer than 2-4 sentences.
  • Address one idea per paragraph.
  • Add visuals such as infographics, GIFs and screenshots.
  • Write in active voice, but don’t sideline passive voice.
  • Use transition words, such as because, as a result, moving on etc. These prepare readers for what’s next.
  • Sprinkle personal pronouns like you, yours, us etc. to make your blog more conversational.

I know it’s a lot to keep in mind, but who said you have to. There are some awesome tools that can help improve your post’s readability. These include, the Hemingway app, Grammarly, Readability.io and Yoast SEO, which isavailable to WordPress users.

#3 Long posts get more shares.

BuzzSumo in partnership with Noah Kagan of OKDork.com analysed 100 million blog posts and found that ‘people are more likely to share longer articles’.

Come to think of it, it’s natural for a post that’s painfully detailed to be shared on social media. It’s a reader’s gesture to reward a publisher for having written something that’s on-point and answers their questions.

Now while shareability of your post depends on its quality, you can subtly encourage your readers to share by:

  • Embedding Click to Tweet plugin in the post, like I’ve done in this post.
  • Having social share buttons on all your posts.
  • Using the scrolling social button.
  • Enabling sharing of images depending on where your audience spends most of its time.

Interesting stats: Not only long posts but also headlines that are 14-17 words long generate 76.7% more social shares than short headlines.

Fun fact about this section: I’ve pruned it and kept it the shortest compared to the rest of the sections. Felt it was useless to repeat myself and fill your screen with stuff you already know by now.

#4 Long blog posts get more backlinks.

Brian Dean and BuzzSumo got together to analyze over 912 million blog posts and discovered that long-form content gets an average of 77.2% more links than short articles.

Clearly then, long posts are ideal if you want as other businesses to point towards you.

Long-form content generates more backlinks than short blog posts

But what’s a backlink and why is it important for SEO?

Backlinks are incoming or inbound links to a web page. The more high-quality backlinks your website/blog has, the more likely you are to rank higher on SERPs. What more, it increases organic search traffic to your website.

Why does it happen?

For starters, more websites linking to your website is a signal of your expertise. And that according to Google makes for a solid online reputation. After all, in the end, it wants to show only the best-matched results to a user query.

Second, it speaks volumes about your credibility and that you can be trusted. Or why else will others vouch for you?

That said, it’s also important that these inbound links are from relevant websites.

To put things in perspective, imagine you’re an architect. You have an incoming link from Architectural Digest and another one from a real estate company. Which do you think will earn you a better Page Rank? The first one as it’s from an authoritative website directly related to your profession/industry.

So how do you earn quality backlinks?

You use the Skyscraper Technique 1.0 & 2.0 developed by Brian Dean.

1. Find content that’s popular + has quality backlinks. 

To do that use third-party tools such as Moz, Ahrefs, Majestic, BuzzSumo etc.

On BuzzSumo, for example, if you pop a keyword, you’ll see results show up like this:

The score/data is based on the links they have indexed which are fewer than Google’s index of URLs. But they’re still an exceptional resource that top marketers swear by. I don’t see why you mustn’t. After all, the data you mine will be quite useful.

2. Outrank your competitor by creating better content.

Part of the reason for saying this is because your competitors may already be writing stellar content. If not, it’s a golden opportunity to fill the knowledge gap.

Here’s what to do:

  • Write longer posts: They tend to become a one-stop solution for your readers. Ultimately, if they keep referring back to you and browse other blog posts, it not only improves your website traffic but also builds your credibility.
  • Keep your posts up-to-date: Is there a new study and stats that can add weight to your argument and make it more convincing? How about introducing a fresh perspective?
  • Make it look good: Take into account both the desktop and mobile experience. YOur readers will appreciate it.

3. Create content that matches user intent.

The first step to matching user intent is to know what they actually want. Typically, user intent falls into four categories::

Brian Dean says you can identify it by looking at the nature of results on the first page of Google.

Next, try to rank on keywords where it makes sense to be visible. The idea is to be relevant to your user. To do that audit top results and figure out what these top-ranking blogs talk about. Do you notice a pattern? Have you missed key information? Must you tone down your post from advanced to beginners or vice versa? Who among beginners, intermediate and advanced is the post written for?

With all this taken care of, there’s no way you’ll not become a link-worthy post.

4. Up your UX game.

Let’s say you’ve nailed the content bit, but if it doesn’t look presentable or isn’t easy to read, it’s going to hit a dead end.

Ouch!

How can you make sure that it doesn’t only survive but also catch your reader’s fancy?

Well, you prime your readers to an excellent time on your post.

Make it readable and skimmable, both (discussed this earlier in the post). Nielsen’s research states that 79% of people scan web pages. Clearly, it’s time for you to adjust to this information-foraging audience.

By serving them content in a format they like and are used to, you will eventually experience Halo Effect.

The logic is that if you make a positive first impression from the get-go, they will continue to like you. Simply put, your readers will start spending more time on your blog and amplify your credibility and trustworthiness quotient.

Woot, woot!

Since we’re talking about creating fabulous first impressions, remember to write attention-grabbing introductions.

Start with interesting anecdotes, quote surprising statistics, ask a question, but if you’d rather get straight to the point then so be it. It works for Brian Dean and his readers.

5. Run an outreach campaign.

Brian Dean says, ‘Email outreach is the linchpin of the Skyscraper Technique.’

It’s also one of the hardest things to do because unless you approach the right people you’ll never quite crack the code. And even if you do manage to get their attention, if your post isn’t extraordinary they’ll ignore you.

So make sure you publish a post that demands to be read and linked to. Doing this will mean you’ve won half the battle. Also, make sure you reach out to the right people. Use email finding tools like Email Hunter, Snov.io, Voila Norbert etc.

Wrapping it up in a bow

Long gone are the days when you could rank on SERPs by keyword-stuffing your blog posts.

Today Google’s search algorithm is smarter and progressively becoming more complex. You can’t tell exactly what the updates are or when they’re expected to roll out.

Though one thing’s sure: Google will continue to rank quality content over everything else.

So if you’re convinced and headed to your desk to write a long-form post, make sure you don’t ignore your readers. It’s guaranteed you’ll improve your organic traffic on your blog, increase its shares and also manage to fill your stand with loyal fans!

Why You Should Listen to The Voice In Your Head

It will be laborious at first, but with time and practice you are guaranteed to become a better writer.

Imagine giving yourself a pep talk.

Do you speak in paragraphs? Or, do you pause, reflect, roll your eyes, stretch your limbs and squirm?

The latter, I hear?

Awesome!

What if I ask you to apply the same logic to writing, too?

Listen to the voice in your head and let those words travel from your consciousness to your fingers and on to the screen?

At first, it will all seem gibberish, but who has ever written a perfect, first draft? And anyway it’s a good thing you can revisit the shoddy piece to get rid of all the clutter. You can fine-tune it and weed out the strangled words, misplaced nouns, pronouns, adjectives, determiners etc.

But first, let’s get back to why I want you to focus on listening to your inner voice rather than censure it.

Here’s my answer: There’s nothing more powerful than the first person narrative. 

Any writer will tell you that they are the most comfortable writing in the first person. It’s a way to keep things real. You might not be visible behind the words but your personality comes through. 

What’s even better is it helps every writer establish a connection, a sense of immediacy with the reader.

The words flow most naturally.

The scene is set for a conversation full of nods, shrugs and exclamations. If there’s any chance you’re like me, you might as well get the kettle boiling.

Writing tips

How about you get busy listening to your inner voice and writing your infamous, first draft?!

At this point though, I must add that you shouldn’t forget the reader. That’s because you want them to walk with you till the very last word, isn’t it?  

Here’s what, I believe can help you ace this aspect of writing:

  • Anchor your readers with a hook right in the beginning.  
  • Give actionable pieces of advice.
  • Use your reader’s vocabulary.
  • Make no space for jargons.
  • Use active voice and contractions.
  • Avoid writing Proustian-length sentences. 15-20 words per sentence are enough to take away the cognitive load.
  • Write short paragraphs and let the white space guide your readers. Two to seven lines is a good deal.
  • Pepper your post with humor, where you can. Nothing should look forced or pretentious.
  • End well; you don’t necessarily have to summarise the entire post.

Having said that, it is equally important to format your post because readability earns you extra brownie points.

  • Use of H2 and H3 tags.
  • Bullet list points, where necessary.
  • Italicise or bold words that need emphasis.
  • Credit your source. Use internal and external hyperlinks.
  • Give a visual break: add images, screenshots, infographics etc. (No stock photos!)

There you have it.

The reasons why you should listen to your internal monologue and how you can get it down on paper for your reader!

Le fin, yet? 

Not quite. I have one more thing to say: Listening to your voice will be laborious. You’ll be surrounded by a crazy, verbal thicket. But practice and disciplined writing will help you become a better writer.

5 Telling Signs You Should Not Publish Long-form Blog Posts

Regardless of the length no piece of content, even a long-form blog, has a future if it lacks substance.

Wait, whaaaaaaah?!

What do I think of myself?

I’m no Neil Patel, Seth Godin or any big marketer to launch this crusade against long-form content, right?

But before you jump to conclusions please read the entire post.


For what its worth, I dig long-form content.

However, it hurts to see posts that lack substance, are convoluted and don’t deliver what they promise.

This is why I decided to write this blog.

If you have been producing long-form content and seeing no results then now is the time to pause and reflect.

Why are you writing a long-form blog?

If it is for any of the five reasons listed below then consider rethinking your content strategy.


#1 Anything meaningful must be conveyed in no less than 2,000 words.

The strength of your message doesn’t depend on its length.

A good post will stand out for its quality. If you beef it up with irrelevant content just to fit the mould of a long format then it’s best you stop right there.

Cut short where you can and come straight to point in 500 words. It is a way better and an effective strategy than running around in circles and annoying your readers!

Even Neil Patel who champions long blogs feels the same.

Long blogs

#2 You are a herd follower.

Blasphemous to not follow what every marketer is doing, right?

Or to ignore trends and statistics?

Wrong!

Yes, long blog posts attract backlinks and organic traffic but you will never become a thought leader if you waste your reader’s time with inconsequential content. What’s worse is that it will only tarnish your brand image.

A reader sets out on a learning pilgrimage with every long post. They expect you to make their time spent on your blog worthwhile. Unfortunately, if you have nothing useful to offer then there is no point rambling.

#3 You write more than your post can handle.

It is not easy to write a long post. The kind of research you have to do is exhausting.

In fact, it gets even more challenging when you reach the editing phase. You have to check for repetition and ensure you don’t saturate it with painful/annoying/irrelevant details.

This is also the reason why writing long blog posts is not everyone’s cup of tea.

One way to find if you are on the right track is to distance yourself from the post. Analyse it objectively. For all you know, you can create a series of posts out of it. (yay?)

For example, instead of talking about six principles of psychology and giving five relevant marketing examples for each, can you churn out one post per principle? Later you can create a round-up post that can serve as an index to all the six posts. Clever, much?

#4 You assume you have a long-post loving audience

What horror!

Never take your readers for granted. N.E.V.E.R.

The only way to know if they really love your long blog posts is to check with them.

Use surveys and analytics figures to see your hits and misses. Collect the site query data and figure out their needs before you set out on a long voyage of writing content.

#5 You pick topics that don’t need intricate details.

Not all topics can adapt to a long format.

But if you can find evergreen content ideas that can endure the tides of time then that’s a good starting point. Until then stay away from mining words to fill a template.

If you are interested in evergreen content strategy, this Buffer blog written by Kevin Lee will help you a great deal.

He also lists down examples of what type of ideas don’t make evergreen content.

Examples of non-evergreen content

Did we reach a consensus?

If you’ve reached this point you’re probably not judging me anymore.

In fact, I am quite hopeful that you will not write long-form blog posts unthinkingly or without a plan.

What Freelance Writers should actually be doing in their Free Time

It is normal for us freelancers to feel guilty about not having our calendar days blocked with work. Obviously, the reasons vary from one case to another but we will discuss that some other day.

For now, we are going to pick up our glasses of wine, coffee, chai or smoothie (your pick, guys!) and discover incredible ways to use this free time productively and feel accomplished!

Yes, a sense of accomplishment is necessary otherwise it becomes so much easier to slip into a state of despair and self-doubt. I’ve been there and so I tell you from experience that it’s not where you want to be!

Here’s what you should do instead.

#1 Invest in yourself

Upgrade your skills. Sign up for online courses. They may or may not necessarily be related to writing. How about a Google Analytics course from the Analytics Academy? If you’re interested in coding then that too! Maybe you could learn how to build an app? You know the thing about diversifying is that it enables you to steady the work and cash flow. You don’t mind that, do you?!

In fact, if you want some direction in your freelancing career then find yourself a coach. Be prepared to open up completely so that they can guide you better.

Benjamin Franklin quote

#2 Read

Stephen King says, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” I personally feel the same. I also believe that no good writing can happen if you don’t read.

Why shouldn’t you read? It is a fix for everything a writer needs! It pulls you out of writing fatigue, expands your vocabulary, opens up a whole new world of different kinds of writing styles and narratives, and also helps you find new ideas and inspiration!

My advice is that you read anything that you have meaning to. The eBook you downloaded a couple of months ago. Books that are biting the dust because you totally forgot they exist. The magazines you subscribed to but never really turned a page of. I’m also thinking of the blogs, opinion pieces, etc. that you bookmark or pocket but never actually read!

blur-book-casual-1097177

#3 Teach

If you are confident that you can deliver an online course then go for it! There are websites like Udemy and Teachable that have democratised education. So grab your chance at helping others benefit from your knowledge, expertise and experience. You could also prep yourself for a podcast series or run email courses. Basically, get your content to work for you.

When I say teaching, I also mean teaching by writing books. If you’ve got piles of content on your blog then arrange it in a book format. Or, if you are willing to start from scratch then so be it!

Self-publishing has helped many freelancers earn passive income and grow their businesses. One of the biggest advantages of self-publishing is that you don’t have to go through the traditional gatekeepers i.e. publishing houses.

Check out Amazon’s self-publishing services. You get to set prices, retain the rights of the book, and gain global exposure because your books can be bought by anyone around the world!

#4 Network

I know it’s an intimidating thought for freelancers but it’s true that networking can give your business the push it needs. The best thing to do is get out of your comfort zone and talk to people. This doesn’t have to be only at networking events though.

You can widen your social circle by networking on social media, for example. Join Facebook groups and communities. Get going with relationship building. Participate in Twitter chats.

Most of all, remember that while you want to get more work, networking is not always about a vertical climb. Have fun. Make new freelancer friends! I keep seeing freelancers asking their peers to help them on various projects or take the load off their back completely because they don’t have the bandwidth to accommodate more work.

You see, networking is rather an ongoing activity and you can’t do it intermittently. You have to integrate it into your daily or weekly routine for it to pay off.

christian-joudrey-90289-unsplash

#5 Write a guest blog

It’s a good exercise to build some credibility or social proof. You also get to tap into a new readership and build new relationships.

But is guest blogging that simple?

Yes, if you’ve done your homework. That means you know the target blog’s content (is it generic or detailed, long-form), the tone of voice and what type of audience they cater to (beginners, intermediate or advanced). Next comes your pitch which should be personalised and on-point. Honestly, no editor has the time to go through five paragraphs of a pitch because they receive thousands of pitches every day and they only want to respond to those that stand out.

#6 Update your website or blog

Like I am right now!

I’m writing this blog a) because I wanted to and b) I have time to.

If you too have been meaning to write something do it now!

The thing is we get so involved and busy in the freelance work that we completely forget about our own website/blog.


One last thing before I go.

Slowly, try to include these otherwise off your radar activities in your daily, weekly or monthly routine. For example, if you register for a course then try to finish one unit a day. Writing an ebook? Write one page a day. Once every week, send pitches on LinkedIn.

Get the drift?

Since all these contribute to your personal and business’ growth, you must shift them up your priority list!


Over to you!

How do you use your free time?

Psychology and Marketing: How to Use Social Proof to Increase Conversions

Know what makes a marketer successful? It’s their understanding of why humans behave the way they do.

Do you know what makes a marketer successful? It’s their understanding of the psychology of the human mind.

Humans are complex beings. Our behaviour is influenced by many factors which ultimately makes marketing a challenging discipline. Thankfully, why we behave the way we do can be explained through one of the psychological principles: social proof.


What exactly is social proof?

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon that says people are comforted by the “safety of numbers”. We follow what others are doing, especially when we are unsure. 

Let me simplify this for you. Imagine, you are out exploring a neighbourhood you aren’t familiar with. An hour later, you sense you could do with a good meal. But since you are picky you decide against eating just anywhere. In your tedious search (forget you have internet on your phone), you walk past a restaurant with a couple of people waiting to get in. Right next door is another restaurant where there aren’t many people. Where do you think you’ll go? My guess is that you will join the queue because the queue is social proof in action!

In short, we are hardwired to conform to the actions of others.

“If you’re doing it, I might as well follow you!” 

While that was an example, I believe there is every bit of a chance you have been influenced by social proof. Think of all the times you bought something based on the reviews, testimonials, and ratings (which is almost all the time)! For that matter, how many television series have you watched based on a popular consensus?!

So one thing is clear: social proof drives conversion.

To have social proof on your website is no more an option, it’s a necessity.


5 Kinds of social proof + real examples

You can generate 5 different social proofs with the help of your clients and customers. Let’s examine each in detail.

#1 Expert opinion

Expert reviews are widely trusted because they know better than anyone else. It is for the exact same reason you will go to a doctor in case of a medical emergency or head straight to an automobile repair workshop for car repairs. Correct?

In fact, precisely for the same reason, Ahrefs website publish opinions of leading SEO and marketing experts.

Social proof and ecommerce conversion

#2 Existing customers

Real customers have a real chance of persuading your prospects. Their personal experiences (good or bad) can shape your brand’s image.

The following statistics confirm the same.

  • Nearly 70% of consumers rely on online reviews before making a purchase. (Consumer Reports)
  • Customers spend 31% more with a business that has “excellent” reviews. (Source: Invesp)
  • 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. (BrightLocal)
  • 92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer, and 70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know. (Neilsen)
  • 89% of users will make a purchase within one week of reading reviews. (Reach Local)
  • Consumer reviews are 12X more trusted than the product descriptions. (eMarketer).

Relevant to the last statistics is the review on Amazon of Amazon’s Echo Plus. One of the ‘top contributor’s review was marked helpful by 1,521 people. Says how much the community values reviews coming from actual buyers.

Social media and ecommerce conversion

Let’s take another example of how Simba, a UK-based mattress-selling brand creates social proof. They allow users to review and rate their products on their website. Other users can, like on Amazon, give a thumbs up or thumbs down to reviews they found helpful.

social proof and ecommerce conversion

#3 Influencers

Influencers have an incredible public image and a sizable reach. They also exercise influence over their follower’s perception of a brand. In that case, wouldn’t it be fantastic to have someone endorse your company?

Here’s Serena Williams promoting Nike on her Instagram account.

social proof and ecommerce conversion

However, not everyone can afford to hire these celeb and mega influencers. And this is where another category of influencers fit in: the micro-influencers! They are niche experts and get a 60% higher engagement than the big fishes. Their followers are more invested. Hence, they connect better with a brand that an influencer endorses.

#4 The magic of numbers

Whether it is your blog subscribers, email list, or social media followers and shares, a number attached to your brand is a telling sign of your popularity. We have Hootsuite bragging about the 15 million user base.

social proof and ecommerce conversions

Booking.com uses numbers (in real time) as a means of creating scarcity. And guess what? It works because no one wants to lose out on staying at a fast-selling and ‘in high-demand’ property!

social proof and ecommerce conversions

#5 Media mentions

Being in news is a big deal. It signals that you are trustworthy and so helps build your brand’s reputation.

Muse has an entire page dedicated to media mentions and reviews. They publish the snippet of reviews with the logos of publications that mentioned them.

social proof and ecommerce conversion

You can also publish case studies for people to know why you are crème de la crème! One brand that does that well is Signal Boosters.

social proof and ecommerce conversion


Where to use social proof

On your website

A quick look at how some of the brands use social proof across their website.

#1 Homepage

This is the most obvious thing to do because you want people to know you are the best in the industry. Piktochart, for example, showcases the numbers and make a compelling case for others to join the party!

social proof and ecommerce conversion

They also publish user stories on their home page.

social proof and ecommerce conversion

Here we have Email Monks boasting about the awards and accreditations it received!

social proof and conversion rate optimisation

#2 Product page

Social proof on a product page, especially when a buyer is uncertain, can compel them from merely considering you to adding your product to their cart. The good news is that plenty of brands understand this and use it to maximise conversions.

Sample how Udemy uses reviews, ratings and students enrolled to lure prospects. The course is also tagged ‘best seller’.

social proof and ecommerce conversion

They also sell other courses by showing their prospects what other courses people take along with the one they are considering.

Udemy - social proof

#3 Customer or review page

Mate Fit has an entire page that houses reviews from over 32K customers. That’s not it. Right at the bottom of the page, continuing with more social proof, they ask their website visitors to join their Instagram community that already has over 300K people! If that doesn’t convert then I don’t know what will?!

social proof and ecommerce conversions

#4 Case studies page

Unbounce has an extremely visual customer case study page full of social proof! I love it!

social proof and conversions

#5 Press & media coverage

Check out the screenshot of Potpourri‘s press page. Notice how the logo and snippet of reviews make a compelling example of social proof.

Social proof and ecommerce conversion

#6 Pricing page

Testimonials on the pricing page can give that one final nudge to an almost sure prospect. Sample how Optinmonster utilises it on theirs.

social proof and ecommerce conversions

Blog

Publish case studies on your blog. It is the easiest way to collect social proof. You know the inside story – the problem, how you fixed it for your client and the result.

Perhaps, you can rope in an expert to contribute to your blog. By having an industry expert write for you, you can tap into their follower base and create a positive influence on them as well as your readers. Just make sure the blog is shareable to amplify reach.

Landing page

The main purpose of a landing page is to drive conversions and nothing drives conversion as a real story. In other words, customer testimonials. It should be compelling enough that it convinces the reader that you can indeed help them accomplish the same and more.

Take a look at how Instapage uses testimonials to their advantage on their landing page.

social proof and ecommerce conversion

Emails

In an email, social proof, especially customer reviews can really catch your subscriber’s attention. So use it to your advantage. Make sure you have an interesting subject line so that people open it!

Only this morning, the Australian Writer’s Centre sent me a mailer where they’d included a student success story. I must add that it does add weight to their proposed course.

AWC student success story

 

Social media

Social proof is effective on social media because people actually turn to it to learn what others are saying about you. It’s clear why you should showcase it. Let’s see how many different ways you can do it.

#1 Customer testimonials: They prove your credibility and that there is value in your product or service.

Weight Watchers

#2 Instagram takeover: Get influencers to post stories, post photos or even go live to create engagement. Or, you could go live with an influencer. I have seen Cassey Ho do it for the entire month of June (almost). She’d actually started a 30-day squats challenge and invited her friends/influencers to do 100 squats a day with her and her followers! Pretty cool, don’t you think?

#3 Twitter/Facebook chats: Collaborate with industry peers and hold chats. Advertise it to your followers way in advance and ask them to use a hashtag.

#4 Pin-up a top-performing post: Any post that has received a good engagement, like, shares, retweets, and comments should be pinned up. Those numbers are proof enough to entice others!

Sprout  Social.png

#5 Retweet and thank: Acknowledge any recognition or praise you get on social media. You can simply retweet (see the screenshot below) or retweet with a comment saying, “thank you” or “grateful for your kind words and appreciation”.

Autopilot (2)

Paid advertisement and campaigns

AdWords ad that includes customer reviews has a higher click-through rate. So don’t forget to show how many people actually trust and vouch for you!

AdWords ad

Then, you can use reviews on your Facebook and Instagram ads too. Over a period of time, the more traction you get on your ad, the stronger the social proof. Ultimately, those numbers will drive conversions and get you business or subscribers, whatever your goal.


Roundup

The whole point of using social proof is to establish your credibility and win trust. Once you’ve aced using it, you will notice a considerable increase in conversions.


 

If you found my post helpful, do let me know in comments! Share with your friends and network and help me build some social proof!

😉


 

Still here? 

Do check out what my clients say about me! If you decide on working with me then be sure you fill this form. I’ll get back to you within 24 hours!

Sharanya is an excellent writer and consistently delivers quality work. Her submissions are well-researched and peppered with humor and actionable advice, both of which fit our blog’s tone of voice and intent perfectly! She’s also extremely receptive to feedback and has never missed a deadline (often delivers earlier than expected). I highly recommend her!

Khyati Sehgal, Content Marketing Manager, Outgrow

The one thing that always stands out is Sharanya’s professionalism. It makes working with her a breeze. Give her one guiding brief and she’s good to go, without requiring any inputs from you thereafter – a great quality to have in someone you work with remotely. Her enthusiasm and creative bent of mind comes out … Continue reading “Mitali Bose, Content Specialist & Brand Manager, Work Better”

Mitali Bose, Content Specialist & Brand Manager, Work Better

Sharanya is an enthusiastic writer with a fun, engaging style. It’s been a pleasure working with her, and reading her articles which take a fresh look at digital marketing subjects.

Robin Nichols, Senior Global Content & PR Manager, AB Tasty

11 Free Photo Websites for Marketers & Bloggers on a Shoestring Budget

Say good-bye to the cheesy stock photos and make magic with stunning ones available on these!

Important things first!

Do you know this guy?

Free photo websites

Apparently, he is one of the most popular faces on the internet! His face gets plastered around on blogs and marketing collaterals so much so that it proves we don’t really care if we come across as lazy bloggers and marketers.

To stop you from pushing these stock photos, I decided to dish out a fine assortment of websites that have photographs that are neither tacky nor run of the mill! The best part is they are all FREE!

Quick piece of advice: Please do read every website’s terms of use and license. Although all photographs are listed under public domain (Creative Commons), some photographers ask for attribution.

Now without any delay, dive straight in!

#1 Vintage Stock Photos

Given that I tend to gravitate more towards vintage stuff, it made sense to have this top the list. Grainy, worn-out, faded, the photographs on Vintage Stock Photos have a distinct visceral appeal. They are all things old school and retro and transport you to a different era! I’m sure you will find an image for your personal blog if not your website! Perhaps, you could adorn your walls with a few!

Free photo websites
Man standing in a Native American garb at a Knott’s Berry Farm, California, USA

#2 Splitshire

Daniel Nanescu created Splitshire because he didn’t want his photographs to bite the dust and disappear into oblivion. So he decided to upload them so that anyone could download and use them personally or commercially. Good karma, you say?  Indeed! Sharing his photo with others has got him recognition. His photos have made it to websites like The Huffington Post, CNN, Books Covers, Magazines and thousands of websites/blogs! I’m quite sure you too would be able to find an image for your next social media campaign or your blog!

Free photo websites

#3 Life of Pix

A huge shoutout to the Montreal-based advertisement agency, LEEROY! They are the creative force behind the Life of Pix! The collection of photographs is nothing short of genius so much so that I was shocked they are all free to use!

More good news: they also have free videos available on Life of Vids! Once again, there are no copyright restrictions and can be easily downloaded on their Vimeo account!

Free photo websites

#4 Styled Stock

The collection isn’t huge but they do have photos that have a feminine touch. So if you are a woman entrepreneur and in search of free images then spend some time on this website. The search functionality makes it easier to sort photos on the basis of category or colour.

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#5 Negative Space

From typography and technology to fashion, music, and travel, Negative Travel is a growing image library. Here’s a collage of four photos to give you a peek into their collection!

Untitled design

#6 Stokpic

The reason Ed Gregory, the man behind Stokpic, allows people like you and me to use his photos for free is because not everyone has hundreds of dollars for stock photos! The best thing is that he also sends his subscribers 10 premium photos every two weeks. Now, who would say no to that?

Free photo websites

#7 Unsplash

As they say, they have photographs for everyone and you can “do whatever you want” with the photos on their website. You are basically given irrevocable right to copy, modify, distribute and use their photos, including for commercial purposes, without their or the photographer’s explicit permission.

dan-cook-508166-unsplash

#8 StockSnap

You are in for a treat because this website has images that, as they claim, will help every content transcend ‘good’ and become ‘great’! To confirm, I browsed for a couple of minutes only to finally return to writing this piece after half an hour. Goes without saying that they do have some incredible photographs!

StockSnap_GVYPBJUC42

#9 Burst by Shopify

Theirs is a stunning library of not just photographs but also cinemagraphs! They keep adding new photographs every week all of which are free to use for personal or commercial purposes.

4 kraje

#10 ISO Republic

You would find it difficult to believe that the impeccable HD photos on the ISO Republic are free! For all you know, this website may be one you keep going back to fuel your creative projects!

yoga-stand

#11 Free Range

The folks at Free Range say you can use their photographs and illustrations for free but they appreciate you giving them photo credits. And why not? It is common courtesy!

photo_116290_20180814

Bonus Photo Resource: Pikwizard

Pikwizard has over 100,000 completely free images on the site, over 20,000 of those are exclusive to them. Their ultimate aim is to make over 1 million photographs available to everyone! A little birdie tells me that you can edit the images on a free tool, Design Wizard.

pikwizard-2dc6f7312d26c1138ec29527f360d809


Aren’t you glad to have found so many FREE photo websites that can fuel your creative projects?


Still here? 

Do check out what my clients say about me! If you decide on working with me then be sure you fill this form. I’ll get back to you within 24 hours!

Sharanya is an excellent writer and consistently delivers quality work. Her submissions are well-researched and peppered with humor and actionable advice, both of which fit our blog’s tone of voice and intent perfectly! She’s also extremely receptive to feedback and has never missed a deadline (often delivers earlier than expected). I highly recommend her!

Khyati Sehgal, Content Marketing Manager, Outgrow

The one thing that always stands out is Sharanya’s professionalism. It makes working with her a breeze. Give her one guiding brief and she’s good to go, without requiring any inputs from you thereafter – a great quality to have in someone you work with remotely. Her enthusiasm and creative bent of mind comes out … Continue reading “Mitali Bose, Content Specialist & Brand Manager, Work Better”

Mitali Bose, Content Specialist & Brand Manager, Work Better

Sharanya is an enthusiastic writer with a fun, engaging style. It’s been a pleasure working with her, and reading her articles which take a fresh look at digital marketing subjects.

Robin Nichols, Senior Global Content & PR Manager, AB Tasty

The Microinfluencer Advantage: Why Marketers Must Pay Attention + How They Can Find Their Match

Micro influencers are experts in their niche which is why their fans are more accepting and open to their advice and recommendations.

We don’t buy stuff off the shelf or online without first having someone recommend it to us. Usually, these recommendations come from either our family or friends. Of late, however, another set of confidantes known as ‘micro-influencers’ have been shouldering the responsibility quite well.

While it’s good news for those ‘getting’ free advice, what could it mean to brands?

Should marketers be chasing this new brigade and getting them onboard?

The answer is YES. And, here’s why.

#1 They have a niche audience

Micro-influencers cater to a niche audience. Their fans trust them for their expertise and are far more accepting of their advice and suggestions. As it turns out, the moment a recommendation is tossed in their alley, they make sure that product is purchased.

study by Twitter and Annalect confirms the same. Around 40% survey respondents admitted having made an online purchase after seeing it being used by an influencer.

A mega or a celeb influencer (who is often seen as a larger than life figure) on the other hand, may not exercise the same level of influence over their diverse fan base. You may be seduced by their massive fan following but let me tell you that numbers don’t matter anymore.

In a study, Markerly found that more the followers an influencer has, lower the engagement rate. After analysing 800,000 Instagram users with at least 1K followers, they found out that there is a downward correlation between follower count and post likes.

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#2 They get more engagement

Let’s talk stats. Micro-influencers get a 60% higher engagement than the big fishes. They have 22.2x more conversations than an average consumer.

This two-way communication is feasible because of a manageable subscriber count and also because they are passionate about what they do. They have an authentic voice and can create a much-needed buzz around your brand. In comparison, the big guys with hundreds of thousands of followers are almost always hard-pressed for time.

#3 You won’t go bankrupt collaborating with them

A micro-influencer charges significantly less than top influencers. Some of them might even partner for FREE or in exchange for free goodies. Which means, collaborating with a group of micro-influencers is much more beneficial. You can expand your reach to different demographics and see better engagement.

If you are wondering how much micro influencers charge this survey results may help. However, let me tell you that these figures are only indicative. Because the influencer marketing industry is unregulated, every microinfluencer (at least those who aren’t aware of their status) will charge a distinct fee. So technically, it’s impossible to quote an estimate or a range.


How do you find a RIGHT micro-influencer for your brand?

It’s true that it can be challenging and time-consuming to find an exact match. After all, you don’t want to just work with anybody. But what’s also true is that you WILL find one!

Before I give you a rundown on your search strategy remember this: their values must align with your brand image and aesthetics. For example, let’s say you are a sustainable clothing label. It will be sheer blasphemy if you collaborate with someone who wears or reviews brands that care little about the environment. Moreover, if you are scaling up your efforts on one platform, it’s important that the micro-influencer is well-versed in it.

Microinfluencer Marketing

Now, over to how you can cherry-pick micro-influencers.

#1 Use tools to analyse

There are tools like BuzzSumo, Klear, NeoReach, NinjaOutreach that can make your search more relaxed. You can narrow down your search for various networks, locations, and categories. What will be better and rewarding is if you take into account the demographics of their followers too. Reason? Your message should reach an interested and relevant audience base.

Let’s say your target audience is females between the ages of 20 and 30 years in London. But, if you partner with someone whose followers (maximum) are based out of Edinburgh and are between 35–40 years in Manchester then your decision is no less than a disaster.

#2 Approach a micro influencer who’s already your follower

It will be so much easier for you to work with someone who already knows and adores your brand. Then, you won’t have to go back and forth convincing them to become your brand advocates. Your association would be organic and authentic. When they review or promote your products, their followers also won’t feel like they are being talked into. This way every piece will fit into the puzzle.

But, you can’t manually search for a micro-influencer from among your fanbase! Use tools like Gatsby.ai that give you access to the customer database of micro-influencers who’ve bought your products. It will definitely put you in a sweet spot.

#3 Fine tune your search with #tags

Make a list of popular industry hashtags as it narrows down your search. Use these #tags on Twitter or Instagram to filter the results. In fact, I must add that I quite like the “similar accounts” suggestions on Instagram. Perhaps, next time you are on a shortlisting spree you should check out ‘suggested’ accounts too.

You can also do a general search of blog posts where your brand name is featured or look at popular bloggers here, on Medium. If you’re looking for a YouTuber then add YouTube in the search bar. In the end, it all boils down to going on the right platform to look for your influencer partner!

#4 Look at how engaged their audience is

By engagement, I don’t mean to say ‘likes’ their video or photo posts receive. Rather, look at the number of shares and comments. More of both suggest that their audience connects with the post and have taken out time to write back or shared it so that more can read or see it. A ‘like’, on the other hand, is an effortless tap on the screen. After this, observe the nature of the interaction between the micro-influencer and their fan. It should give you a fair idea of whether your brand and their values vibe or not.

1_R4ZaAWpaxZ1t7vp16FSuIA

What after finalising the micro-influencer?

Celebrate, celebrate! Ok, not just yet because you are yet to ideate on the campaign. Here’s what you should do right now.

#1 Solicit ideas

Micro-influencers know their community and the kind of content their followers respond to. Since they have an authentic voice they can create content that will generate the right amount of noise your brand can benefit from. They are also a creative bunch so it’s a good idea to talk to them and exchange ideas.

#2 Embrace the power of storytelling

If you want to really strike a chord with your audience then you have got to pick a narrative and tell a story. It is what will set you apart from your competitors. In fact, 92% of consumers WANT brands to make ads feel like a story! Not that they won’t know you’re selling your product despite your storytelling, but at least with a story you create a more believable, humanistic angle. Wait. It gets better. Messages that are delivered as stories are 22x more memorable. It creates a chance for people to get intrigued and to draw them into your world and turn them into customers!

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Final step: Measuring the ROI

Start looking at metrics like engagement rates, brand awareness (increased social media following), impressions, comments, traffic, reach etc. These may not be financial earnings and don’t really fit the balance sheet but they do throw a light on your campaign success and shortcomings. You can accordingly strategise and improvise. Use the same tools you use to search influencers from your industry to closely analyse your campaign performance.


Over to you guys! Find the best micro-influencer who can be the torch-bearer for your brand!


Still here? 

Do check out what my clients say about me! If you decide on working with me then be sure you fill this form. I’ll get back to you within 24 hours!

Sharanya is an excellent writer and consistently delivers quality work. Her submissions are well-researched and peppered with humor and actionable advice, both of which fit our blog’s tone of voice and intent perfectly! She’s also extremely receptive to feedback and has never missed a deadline (often delivers earlier than expected). I highly recommend her!

Khyati Sehgal, Content Marketing Manager, Outgrow

The one thing that always stands out is Sharanya’s professionalism. It makes working with her a breeze. Give her one guiding brief and she’s good to go, without requiring any inputs from you thereafter – a great quality to have in someone you work with remotely. Her enthusiasm and creative bent of mind comes out … Continue reading “Mitali Bose, Content Specialist & Brand Manager, Work Better”

Mitali Bose, Content Specialist & Brand Manager, Work Better

Sharanya is an enthusiastic writer with a fun, engaging style. It’s been a pleasure working with her, and reading her articles which take a fresh look at digital marketing subjects.

Robin Nichols, Senior Global Content & PR Manager, AB Tasty

If You Do These Things You Will Become Your Client’s Go-to Freelancer!

Being freelancers we tend to be on your own through the length of the day with minimal human contact, whatsoever. So, how is it that we can get to know your clients better?

For regular office-goers, a lot keeps happening at work. They bump into different kinds of people, plan lunch/potlucks/get-togethers; hop away from workstations for coffee breaks and team celebrations; partake in impromptu brain-storming sessions, head over to their colleague’s desk in case they need their advice and so much more!

Life’s abuzz!

What differentiates their life from ours is that they work in close proximity to each other.

We guys, on the other hand, tend to be on your own through the length of the day with minimal (ok, some of us may have pets!) human contact, whatsoever. So, how is it that we can get better at being more social? After all, Slack chats and email-exchanges are only virtual, no?

What’s a better way to bond with our clients?

What is it that we can do to make this long-distance, same-city-or-not relationship work?

How do we feel more connected?

I got down to answering these question earlier this week and am quite excited about letting you in on stuff that has helped me become better at relationship-building and eventually become my client’s fav! Though I must say that none of this came to me overnight! I have been callous in the past but not anymore. So, here goes.
Pick that phone, will ye?

It’s really that SIMPLE! It’s a different thing when you’re in the middle of running an errand or tending to your child or tossing your quinoa salad in which case you just drop a text saying you’ll return their call. Now, when you say that you better mean it and DO IT! Besides, sound interested when you’re on phone with them. NEVER be cold and distant or show that this call is a huge bother! What I do is that I wear a smile on my face even when I’m having a tough day. Our smile can be felt if not seen through the phone and so can our grumpy faces!

Moving on, I should add that I am quite particular about checking my voicemail. Once I’m through my mailbox I delete received messages to make space for new ones.

Write and respond to emails as often and as clearly as possible

Just because we are freelancers and work with a couple of clients simultaneously doesn’t make one client more important than another. The moment you are onboard you become accountable to them even if you’re on just one blog assignment!

What I also believe in is that the client shouldn’t be the one chasing you. It is always better if your way or approach is active, not reactive or passive. For instance, if you’re stuck on a brief and can’t understand how to go any further, reach out to them. Be the first one and don’t wait for them to check on you about the progress made so far. As for me, if I have questions, I make sure they are easy-to-understand. Bullet-listing helps as it gives my clients option to comment inline.

Nurture each other

Relationship building is demanding. It takes time and constant effort. You have to hand-knit them. Hem the folds that are coming off. Embroider those dull patches.

I know I’m talking in metaphors but you will agree that relationships are fragile and are supposed to be dealt with care. It takes time. The exact same way baby plants take time to root. (I am a new plant-parent btw!)

It begins with you valuing the opportunity you’ve got. Work like it’s your pet project. Put your heart and soul into it. Don’t produce half-baked copies as you risk sowing seeds of distrust in your clients’ mind. And we don’t want it. At all.

Another way to nurture relationships is by getting to know your clients personally. Which city are they from? Do they like it there? What were they doing before they joined the company they are currently working in? Just have a conversation about stuff other than work. Ask for their birthday. Wish them either over a phone call or message. These small gestures go a long way. Yet at the same time step back if they are not responsive. Respect their choice and let it strain your professional equation with them.

Respect deadlines

How I go about my work is that whenever the ideas I pitch get approved by the client we mutually agree on a deadline. This way both of us are aware of our work line-up. In case they have additional comments to make on the pitched pieces we discuss it in detail either on email or phone.

I also don’t overcommit which means I’m quite realistic about deadlines. If I’m running short of time then I inform the client or the editor. Towards the end of last year, I couldn’t work for almost a month because I took ill. I, however, made my clients aware of my situation which reduced half of my worries. I also didn’t take new work until the time I was back on my feet, ready to take work.

Similarly, whatever your situation be — ill or not — be reasonable and maintain transparency. They hired you so you better answer them instead of disappearing on them! Imagine how you would feel if they disappeared when it is their turn to pay you! You sure don’t want that, eh?!

When you stick to deadlines and submit quality work you win their trust and earn a reputation for being their go-to freelancer. Now, who wouldn’t want that? The bonus is that it comes with a promise of steady income!

Catch up if and when you can!

If you are located in the same city as your client then propose or accept in-office or lunch meetings. Put a face to the name you read on emails. Or, if there’s an option of speaking to them on video call then it’s even better. The idea is to establish a rapport in person.

You do realise that when you actually sit down you talk about a lot more things than you actually would in an email.

If you have noticed all these factors pretty much overlap and despite relationship-building efforts, some clients may only work with you once in a lifetime. However, that doesn’t mean you toss them out of your directory. Keep in touch. Pitch ideas and stories. As a freelancer, you will have to keep hustling. Keep chasing. Most importantly, take rejections with a pinch of salt. If those ideas didn’t work for one they might work for some other potential client!


 

A version of this blog was published on People Matters.