Write a killer blog post in just 7 steps

You don’t want to publish any piece of content on your blog that isn’t screaming to be read.

But it can also be hard to keep churning out new, insightful content every month.

That’s why we’ve put together this concise, 7 step guide to help you craft awesome, readable content.

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Writing Blogs for Readers, not Google

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If you’re marketing using a blog, or if your blog is a large part of your business, then chances are you’ve heard of keywords.

Keywords do what they say on the tin – they’re the essence of what you’re writing about, and they’re also what Google uses to decide how and where to rank your content.

Now, the old way of thinking was very much “the more keywords the better” … but this doesn’t make for very good reading for humans, and Google has started to realise this. It’s already made changes to its algorithm to prioritise blogs that write for their users, and not for search engines.

Here are 5 tips for keeping your blog content keyword-rich, without ruining the reading experience and landing yourself a hefty penalty:

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Grow your know-how: 3 Free Online Writing Courses

We all like to think we’re good at what we do. But that’s not to say we can’t get better!

We’ve rounded up 3 of the best free (yes, totally free) writing courses for you to grow, develop and generally become more awesome.

An Introduction to Screenwriting – UEA (Online)

How to Get Started as a Freelance Writer

So you wanna be a freelance writer? Awesome!

Chances are, you have no idea where to start. But that’s OK, because that’s where everyone starts out. Generally speaking you have a few options if you’re starting out freelance.

You can:

  • Build your brand up and hope clients come to you
  • Seek clients via traditional job postings (although these tend to want people on board full time or on a contracted basis)
  • Seek clients via remote work positions
  • Seek clients via agencies
  • Send off hopeful submissions to websites in the hope you get a publishing credit

So let’s look at these one by one and break them down.

Building up your brand and hoping clients come to you

This will 100% be the slowest way of attaining business, so if earning money in the short-term is important for you (as I would imagine it probably is) I definitely don’t recommend this.

Brand building requires a few different balls to be in the air at once and it takes time to build up yourself, your audience and then convert that engagement into clients willing to pay money.

It also requires a lot of time and input commitment on your part – as you will need to be online, present and selling yourself regularly to maintain the footholds you’ve clawed out for yourself.

Seek clients via traditional job postings

This is possibly the easiest way of getting some work initially, even though the application processes this way tend to be more time consuming for you, as you’re effectively applying for a job each time you’re bidding for work.

It’s a good idea to set up alerts on a few different websites, so that you can have a steady stream of options coming into your inbox (e.g. Reed, Indeed.) You can upload your CV and pre-write a covering letter on both of these, so they save you a bit of time.

Seek clients via remote work positions

Remote working gives you the same flexibility as freelance, as often they’ll contract you on a part time or project by project basis. You need to check each position before you apply, but some great sites for job hunting this way are Remotive, Remote.co)

Seek clients via agencies

Be careful with agencies. They take a cut of your earnings, so you’re never realising your full earning potential. However, they can be a good stop-gap to make sure you’ve got some money coming in while you get your ducks in a row applying for longer-term positions or trying to attract more clients.

You also need to see whether there’s a subscription fee, because this can often outweigh the potential benefit. Some examples include Contena, and Fiverr.

With agencies you need to make sure that it makes sense money wise. Sometimes the quantity of content you’d need to produce to be earning sufficiently versus the time it would take you to produce all that content doesn’t balance out.

Send off hopeful submissions

Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of this:

Pros

You might get published

You might get paid

Cons

You might not get published

You might not get paid

You’ve still invested the time in producing a piece of content

If you need to build your portfolio then it’s definitely a good idea to send them work you’ve already invested your time in, perhaps work you’ve already self-published somewhere like LinkedIn or Medium. Don’t invest in new work unless you’re able to self-publish it as well. Your time is your money, so make sure you’re balancing the spending and earning in both senses.

Finally, here’s something extra that sounds obvious but that you should definitely do:

Tell your friends and family you’re going freelance

Mention it to them. Reach out to anyone that you think it would be relevant to.

In the words of Tesco: every little helps.


Penguin in the Room @prartsmarketing is a group of creatives with an arts marketing dream: penguin stepping our way into the arts industry and helping other creatives flourish! Specialising in online marketing, social media, branding, copy writing, media coaching and web design for actors, artists, casting directors, agents, production companies, theatre companies and creative individuals.

Contact us any time for penguin chats via email:info@penguinintheroom.com or Facebook.com/penguinintheroom or waddle over to our website: www.penguinintheroom.com

What The New Data Protection Laws Mean For Small Businesses, Individuals and Freelancers

This May, new Data Protection laws will be coming into place, specifically, the Data Protection Act will be replaced by the General Data Protection Regulation.

What’s the difference? The GDPR will have new rules around the storage and handling of personal information and there will be stricter punishments in place for those who fail to comply.

Why the new law? The short answer is because hackers are more easily able to access data from small to medium businesses than they are to hack huge, well-protected corporate networks.

Changes in Consent

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At the moment it’s sufficient to ask someone to tick or even to untick a box in order to consent to the storage of their data.

Under the new laws, consent means active agreement. This means you cannot pre-tick a ‘subscribe me’ button.

Not only this, but companies need to be able to show a clear audit trail of consent, including screen grabs or saved consent forms.

Individuals also have the right to withdraw consent at any time, and it has to be effective and efficient. When someone withdraws consent all of their personal data must be immediately and permanently erased. It is not enough to remove them from the mailing list.

If you are subject to a data breach, you also have to inform the relevant authorities immediately and you must notify all individuals affected within 72 hours of the initial breach.

What does this mean for people that use e-mail marketing (and am I one of those people?)

If you have a newsletter that people subscribe to, or if you send e-mails to a database of people on whatever basis, this concerns you.

And it doesn’t just concern all the new data you might collect. It concerns all the data you currently have.

Any kind of personal data you keep has to follow these rules and you and you alone are responsible for being able to prove that someone has consented to have their data kept on file by you.

This means you can no longer capture e-mails through a competition and then add them into your mailing list, or you cannot auto-subscribe (for example) people that have bought a ticket to your show to your newsletter.

Does the GDPR apply to my personal blog?

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The GDPR applies to all enterprises. So if you run a business from home, or if your blog/website is engaged in “economic activity” i.e. you use it to make money – this applies to you.

It does not apply to people processing personal data in the course of a purely personal or household activity. I.e. if you have your plumber’s email address on file, that’s fine. If you’re sending your plumber an email telling him that you have a new kind of product available for sale, that’s not fine.

So what do I do now?

For every e-mail address in your system, you need to go back and seek explicit permission from the person to continue to send them whatever communication you are sending them.

If you cannot provide evidence of consent, you cannot send them emails and you must delete their data permanently.

This means you will need to launch a re-permission campaign and bring your entire database up to GDPR standards.

What are the consequences of non-compliance?

Fines. These are tiered based on the level of non-compliance and the severity of the violation, and they are capped at 4% of an annual turnover of €20million.

Ouch.

Check out our next post on how to run a GDPR compliant re-consent campaign.

Disclaimer: None of the above constitutes legal advice. If you are in doubt, we recommend you seek professional legal guidance.

penguinPenguin in the Room @prartsmarketing is a group of creatives with an arts marketing dream: penguin stepping our way into the arts industry and helping other creatives flourish! Specialising in online marketing, social media, branding, copy writing, media coaching and web design for actors, artists, casting directors, agents, production companies, theatre companies and creative individuals.

Contact us any time for penguin chats via email:info@penguinintheroom.com or Facebook.com/penguinintheroom or waddle over to our website: www.penguinintheroom.com

How To Write A Killer Guest Post Pitch

If you read our previous blog, you’ll know that guest posting is the quickest and easiest way to drive new traffic through to your blog/website.

New traffic = more subscribers = more fans = more money.

(At least that’s what most marketing manuals will tell you.)

But what they don’t tell you is how to write a great pitch for a guest post.

Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’ve written something that spells out the meaning of life. If you can’t sell it, no one will read here.

So here’s our step by step guide to getting your guest post secured:

1. Subscribe to their blog

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Think about it. If you had someone telling you how awesome your blog was, and then you realise they don’t even subscribe, you’ll be pretty peeved.

So once you’ve selected your list of targets, go through and subscribe to them all. You want them to know you’re serious – and invested – in the success of their blog. That’s going to sound a whole lot more convincing coming from someone that actually follows it.

2. Make it personal

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Nine times out of ten, someone will have their name somewhere on their website. Use it. Addressing the email personally will mean it’s much more likely to get opened, if not read. “Hey, Tanya” is so much better than “Hey there” or (even worse) “To Whom It May Concern.”

Never start a pitch email with that, because whoever is reading it will automatically decide it probably doesn’t concern them.

3. Show them how good you are

Include some links in your pitch that are the best possible examples of your tone and writing style. You want to wow them with the quality content you’re creating, so send them your 2 or 3 best pieces of work.

If you’re lucky enough to have featured elsewhere already or have been interviewed, include one of these as a third link underneath your own work.

4. Don’t go into too much detail

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They will want two things. One of these things is a title, and the other is a reason why their readers are going to open that blog in the first place. This does not mean you have to send them the blog in its entirety.

What you should do is include a little 2-3 sentence outline so they know where the blog post is heading, like this:

How To Blog: A post focusing on the common pitfalls most bloggers make and how to avoid them. Your readers will walk away knowing how to write killer blog posts that bring in more traffic and convert that into paying customers.

I mean, sounds like a blog you want to read, right?

Right. That’s exactly what they want.

5. Track the emails you send

Gmail has some great extensions that you can download that track whether or not your email has been opened. Streak is awesome because it tells you when your email was viewed and when it was opened. It also keeps tabs on how often someone visits the conversation so you can see exactly what’s happening once you’ve sent your pitch into cyberspace.

6. Set up a chase system

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Now that you’ve sent your emails, you don’t just want to sit there and wait.

No.

Like a flower, you need to tend to your precious pitches by watering them every now and then. Or, at the very least, following up with an email a week later.

People are busy, so you don’t want to harass them, but a simple chase email 7 days later is more than acceptable.

If your chase email doesn’t get a reply, you can cut that time in half and email again 3 or 4 days later.

So here’s what your chase schedule should look like:

  • 7 days – send initial chase email if no open
  • Send another chase 4 days after first chase
  • Send a final chase 7 days after previous chase
  • Send new email 14 days after last email

7. Follow up

You don’t want to nag them. After all, you’re asking for a favour, essentially, even if you’re creating awesome content for them.

So you need to keep your follow up emails short, sweet and to the point.

Make it easy for them to come back to you with a one word answer, a simple yay or nay reaction. Because we all have way too many emails and never enough time:

Hey Tanya,

Appreciate you must be super busy, just wanted to see if you had a quick yes/no based on my previous email?

I can get started on it straight away and wouldn’t need anything from your side at this point – other than the OK!

Thanks so much, hopefully catch up soon.

8. Follow through

You’ve promised them the world – or at least a great blog post – so make sure you follow up and keep your word. Deliver on time, deliver with photos and deliver to whatever specifications they ask for (Google Doc, HTML or otherwise.)

Don’t fall at the last hurdle!

Have you got any tips you think we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below!

penguinPenguin in the Room @prartsmarketing is a group of creatives with an arts marketing dream: penguin stepping our way into the arts industry and helping other creatives flourish! Specialising in online marketing, social media, branding, copy writing, media coaching and web design for actors, artists, casting directors, agents, production companies, theatre companies and creative individuals.

Contact us any time for penguin chats via email:info@penguinintheroom.com or Facebook.com/penguinintheroom or waddle over to our website: www.penguinintheroom.com

Why You Need To Be Guest Posting

So you’ve got a blog. Or perhaps even a whole website. And you’re using it to build your brand, build your audience and try and get your fans engaged.

But who’s reading your blog? Who’s looking at your website?

If you get a lot of repeat visitors, but not a lot of organic, new traffic, chances are you need to cast your net out a bit wider.

So now the big money question: How do I get new people to come and visit my blog?

The answer is what is always is: good quality content.

But if your blog is already full of lots of great, valuable content and it’s still not attracting the amount of new traffic you want, then you need to start thinking outside of the box.

Or, thinking inside another very exact box: Guest Posting.

What is Guest Posting?

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Guest posting is when you give someone else some of your content to host on their blog. That’s right. You write a killer post that’s going to get tonnes of engagement and then you give it to someone else.

Why would you do this?

Because they then send your awesome blog out to all of their hard-earned subscribers and BAM. You’ve suddenly got a whole new pool of readers for your content.

Add into this that they’ll backlink to your website (which literally just means they will link back to you) meaning you’ll have a new funnel of traffic coming straight through to your blog.

This is especially good if their website has a higher domain authority to yours. A domain authority is basically a measure of how awesome Google thinks your site it. It’s based on how old your website is, how popular it is and how big it is. You can use a tool like Moz to figure out what you DA is, and what the DA of your targets are. A rule of thumb is this: always seek out websites with a higher DA than yours for guest posts.

How Do I Start Guest Posting?

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Chances are, you already write some content. So you already know how to write witty, engaging blogs that people like to read. Which is great, because this is half the battle.

Now you need to start this process:

1. Seek out potential guest post opportunities

Think about what your fans might search for, or wider interests your fans might have. After all, you’re trying to appeal to a wider audience.  Let’s say, for example, that you talk a lot about marketing, but you’re also a keen traveler. So you could look up traveling blogs as well as marketing blogs, and start making a list of some of the biggest ones.

2. Make a thorough list

You’re going to want to do a few guest posts, ideally, so it’s good to keep a list. My list looks something like this:

Site Name Domain Authority Amount of Traffic Summary Blog Post Idea Blog Post Pitch
Best Blog Ever 31 125k They blog about blogging How To Write Great Blogs Hey (Name),

Etc.

You can use a tool called Moz to find out what the Domain Authority of a website is. You can also use a website called SimilarWeb to figure out how much traffic it gets.

Then you want to write yourself a little summary. This is basically a quick summation of what the website is about and what kinda things it talks about. It serves as a self-reminder, so when they reply you can check back at your notes and remind yourself this is the cat blog, not the dog blog (so no terrier jokes anyway they are terrier-ible! 🤣).

3. Come up with a great idea

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Arguably, the hardest part. Have a quick scan of their blog and see what kinds of posts they’ve covered already, because it’s no use you writing something that’s a carbon copy of something they already have. I don’t mean you need to trawl through every post, just check the titles. See what kinds of topics they talk about and have a think about what you can contribute. The key is that whatever you write has to bring value to their readers.

4. Write a killer pitch

This deserves a lot more of a detailed look, which is why we’re going to cover it in the next post. Needless to say, after you’ve put all the effort into selecting your targets, figuring out their domain authority and done the research on their blogging styles, you don’t want your pitch to let you down.

Check back next time for our post on How To Write A Killer Guest Post Pitch.

5. Hit send… and get ready to write

You need to be able to turn your content around quickly. So it’s no good pitching a piece of work you know it’s going to take you months and months to pull together. Keep it within your realms of expertise, something you could knock together in a day – or less – and make sure they know that they have very little (or even better, nothing) to do at their end.