When you are a freelancer, there never seems to be enough time in the day. From pitching and writing to revising and invoicing — your responsibilities never seem to end. Even with the stress and the uncertainties, though, many wouldn’t trade their freedom for a standard 9-5 job. However, setting goals for yourself and continuously challenging yourself to dig deeper into your industry will set you apart from the competition in your field or niche.
At ClearVoice, our blog aims to be a resource for independent wordsmiths who are proactive and hoping to grow their business. We provide helpful resources, fascinating — yet effective — advice and more than anything, are a reputable destination for questions, job opportunities and inspiration. We also make the process of staying on top of news easier for you by providing need-to-know monthly updates on the latest trends and research within content marketing and development. Check back here each month for a encouraging trends, thoughtful wisdom — and actionable how-to’s. We have you covered.Freelancers, catch up on info to help you improve your craft and business. | #Freelancing | #WritersLife | #ContentRadar Click To Tweet
Recent tips and news for freelancers from across the web:
1. Get hacks you need for all those emails.
As every freelancer knows — no matter if you’re a journalist, a content marketer, a designer or a combo of all — email is a major time suck. Many of the world’s leading executives actually box out time for respond to all inquiries and close out for the rest of the day. That’s why we’re crushing on this amazing guide from HubSpot on how to create canned Gmail responses in less than a minute. Set up a handful of these and save yourself valuable billing hours.
2. You should care care about feedback if you want to succeed.
Within the vast world of content development, there’s plenty to be said on the good and bad. Though most of the time, it’s purely objective, the ability to take customer reviews, editor comments and edits from other team players into consideration is vital to a prolonged career. In this guide from Marketing Land, you can learn how to take notes and criticism in stride, improving your ethic, your talent and building stronger, longer-lasting relationships. (7/8/19)
3. Grow your business with this tell-all.
Though as a writer you can’t discount the vast importance of staying in touch with editors, there is also value in networking. But this doesn’t mean you have to roll up your sleeves, grab a cocktail and chat up strangers at a happy hour. Instead, And Co suggests investing in these digital communities that offer a landslide of freelance writing opportunities. This exhaustive list has a little bit of everything — from content marketing to ghostwriting and beyond — and is a great link to forward to anyone who asks you ‘how to be a writer.’
4. Can billionaires save journalism?
When you first dreamt of being a modern day Lois Lane all of those years ago, you probably didn’t anticipate the industry to shift as dramatically as it has in the past decades. With countless publications folding or moving to a digital-only version, it’s a tough business to be in that requires hustle, flexibility and durability. In this investigative look at the future of newspapers and glossies, CNN shares how billionaires like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, are stepping in to rescue the fine art of journalism. (7/9/19)
5. Content marketing still has a long way to go.
The Drum recently conducted a survey to investigate the pulse of content marketing within companies. They compared this data to a similar study conducted six years ago. And while there are some silver linings and improvements, the industry still has a long way to go to make a major impact. They found that 2.7 percent of people feel content marketing is “not so effective,” but only 18.92 percent felt it “extremely effective.” They also shared that 50 percent believe their staffs are on board with the need for content marketing, but 43 percent don’t understand the value. One way to change these figures is through relevant, digestible content that appeals not only to a catered audience but to changemakers within the organization. Learn more about their research and advice here. (7/10/19)
6. Make studying voice writing a priority.
You’ve mastered blogging. You can chug out an article in a few hours. You know how to pitch. You’re even great about quick revisions — and you can come up with a content plan in a hot second. How about voice writing?
While plenty of writers have expanded their services to include marketing-centric skills, the new opportunities from voice-recognition software provide wordsmiths with a new challenge: speech writing. As more companies look into apps for Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Siri and beyond, more opportunities will appear for talented writers. Search Engine Journal recently discussed the fact that 80 percent of voice-search answers are from three organic studies. This leaves major room for improvement from a data perspective — but also illustrates the importance of this marketable opportunity. Also see our guide: Writing for the Future Sound of Marketing.
7. Show your clients appreciation.
It may not be rocket science or breaking news, but in the hustle and bustle of building your business, have you paused to consider who makes it possible? Nope, not your trusty iPhone or that grammar-checking app. Rather, your clients. A recent post on AndCo iterates the importance of showing appreciation to your editors or the leaders who sign your paycheck. From sending a personalized note to checking-in about non-business related items that you remember from conversations, these gestures go a long way in cementing a relationship. Also see our post on Gifting for Gratitude on etiquette for thanking clients.
8. Improvements — and image forensics — in facial manipulation may be coming.
Designers and photographer rejoice: Industry leader Adobe is partnering with the University of California Berkeley to develop a method to detect edits to images, as well as improved facial recognition. This is a step forward in democratizing “image forensics” — or rather, being able to fully understand or know how an image was manipulated. As more companies hope to be transparent and accepting of all people – no matter race or size — this could be a huge leap in equalizing the playing field. You can learn more about what’s happening on Adobe’s blog.
9. Want to know if the news is fake? There’s an app for that.
Fake news is the battle of many journalists, especially in a turbulent political climate. As the general term for any type of reporting that can’t be verified or fact-checked, it’s important to fight against this type of journalism, since it can impact reader choices and opinions. In a fascinating article published on Tech Crunch, the writer explores Grover, an API company that’s working to end this trend. But to be able to understand if news is quality or not? It first had to learn how to write these bad stories.
10. Content marketers should think about hyper-personalization.
Think about all of the areas in your day-to-day life that are now catered specifically to you: Facebook ads, Netflix or Hulu recommendations, your vitamin subscription, and so on. Though sure, it may not seem relevant in your articles or in your marketing strategies, it’s actually quite contrary, according to a recent post in Marketing and Tech News. Here, the writer discusses how you can use these trendy best practices to up your game and make your offerings more robust. If the current generation wants everything tailored to their needs, shouldn’t your strategy reflect that?
11. More than half of brands don’t believe they’re delivering the right content.
More than ever, companies, entrepreneurs, executives and brands are concerned with the message they’re sending. Not only to their current customers but to perspective ones. However, most don’t believe they are delivering the right type of content, according to recent data from Vennli and the Content Marketing Institute. Instead of focusing on a holistic view of their content, 51% feel as if they are project based — and lacking strategy. This is a huge opportunity for talented content marketers to pitch themselves as a resource who can answer questions, make a plan — and move numbers.
12. Here’s how to actually make money blogging.
Since the age of mommy bloggers in the early 90s, writers have been trying their luck at producing native content that results in dollars. While some are successful, others lack the expertise or the consistency to break through the competition and build an income. A recent article from ProBlogger has provided a 7-step process to not just write away — but to develop a business plan. From picking your topic to attracting your first sponsorships, this is a must-read for any blogger.
13. The difference between quality and quantity in content.
In every freelancer’s career, there are ebbs and flows. Some months and quarters, you can barely see straight with the vast amount of deadlines. And others? Well, as the saying goes, it’s crickets. Though the busy times are definitely exciting — it also provides a challenge to writers to slow down and ensure they are producing quality content. That is easier said than done — but perhaps, a little smoother when you read these tips from the Content Marketing Institute. Simple to digest, provoking to consider and challenging for all wordsmiths, grab a cup of Joe and see how many of these your writing checks off.
14. Expert tips for managing your income
You dreamt of being a writer because you love words. You became a journalist to report the truth. You decided to shift into a marketer role because you want a long-term career. But finances? And um, accounting? They may not be your sweet spot. But since you’re not only the captain of your pen but of your bank account, understanding the smartest ways to invest, save, track expenses and file invoices is essential to your success. AndCo provides essential tips for staying on top of what’s coming and going out, giving you more time to focus on the creative part of your gig that you love.
15. The A-to-Z guide for writing headlines
Writing a stellar headline could be the key to attracting more readers to your content, but do you know what makes a great headline? There is no single magic bullet, so Barry Feldman from Feldman Creative developed a list of 26 items(one for every letter of the alphabet) to help you when writing headlines. Check out the article for the full list, which includes items such as:
- Ask — Posing questions is one of the best ways to engage a reader.
- Benefits — Rather than bore readers with features, put the benefits for readers to see in the headline.
- Colons — Begin your headline with a topical keyword phrase, then use a colon to follow it with a question or statement.
16. Five secrets of great storytellers
It may seem that great storytellers have an innate gift to capture an audience, but while some storytellers are blessed with a natural talent, other storytellers have finely honed their craft through practice and study over an extended period of time. Kim Moutsos provides great detail about each of these five secrets in an article for Content Marketing Institute. For those who want a sneak peek, the five secrets include:
- Tell unique stories or give old ones a new twist.
- Use questions to keep people hooked.
- Lead readers to make a conclusion; don’t tell them what to believe.
- Focus on action, but make it add up to something.
- Don’t leave them hanging.
See this piece from Britt Skrabanek to get some ideas on how to infuse better storytelling into your professional social media work.
17. Take ‘imperfect action’ to get going again when you’re stuck.
Listen, sometimes you get “stuck.” There’s no shame in admitting this fact. It happens to all of us. However, the period of being “stuck” doesn’t necessarily need to last for a long time. Darren Rowse recently provided some advice to all of us who need a little extra help to get over our creative obstacles. Rowse suggests that the best thing we can do when we get stuck is to take “imperfect action.” By taking imperfect action, you get things done and move yourself closer toward an optimal solution. Read or listen to more from Rowse about how and why imperfect actions can get you out of a creative rut.
18. Achieve more while doing less.
The concept of achieving more while doing less sounds like a false promise, but author Michael Hyatt told host Amy Porterfield on the Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast that achieving more while doing less is a true principle. During the podcast, Hyatt speaks about how it is focus — not busy-ness — that should drive our personal and business lives. He also discusses how focus brings with it freedom for individuals to be able to accomplish that which is most important. Hyatt claims you should formulate a vision of what a more productive future looks like, then evaluate the work you are doing. Additionally, you should always find time to rejuvenate to stay fresh.
19. The top reasons workers choose to freelance.
If you are teetering between a full-time job and a freelance career, you may be considering if you should make the jump to becoming a full-time freelancer. An article published this month by Flex Jobs details recent survey results that shed some light on why people choose to freelance rather than work full-time jobs for a single employer.
- A full 70 percent of survey respondents answered that they choose to freelance in an effort to attain a better work-life balance.
- Nearly 2/3 of respondents answered that they choose to freelance because they can choose when they work. This flexibility in work schedules was the second-most popular response.
- More than half of respondents (55 percent) said they choose to freelance because it affords them the opportunity to choose where they work and gives them the freedom to move without changing jobs. Read here if you want to learn more about the ups and downs in the lives of digital nomads.
20. Four essential mental health tips for freelancers
A recent survey of freelancers found that nearly half of those surveyed found freelancing to be sometimes lonely. Likewise, more than 45 percent claimed freelancing can be an isolating experience. For sure, there are advantages to working as a freelancer—but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the pitfalls. A Forbes article this month explored 4 mental health tips for freelancers.
- Learn how to negotiate with yourself. Celebrate your accomplishments and don’t be overly critical when you fail.
- Socialize beyond your niche. Socializing only with fellow freelancers may not allow you to see ways to overcome problems and obstacles. Keep in contact with those in other careers for a fresh perspective.
- Budget for more expensive forms of self-care. Splurge every once in a while on a comfortable chair, a new desk, comfy socks, etc. Investing in yourself is investing in your business.
- Learn how to handle rejection. Make a daily list of things you have done well.
21. Writing lessons from Dr. Seuss
March marks the 115th anniversary of the birth of one of the world’s best-known freelancers — Dr. Seuss. Content strategist Lisa Shomo shared a few lessons content creators can learn from Dr. Seuss’ tactics and creative works.
- Rhyming helps solidify memory. It is appropriate to toil over your text — but a main goal should always be to produce content that is memorable. A rhyme here or there in your text can help you accomplish this.
- Repeat sounds to create rhythm. You may not be able to repeat words or phrases over and over in the copy you create, but even repeating a key line once or twice could make an impact.
- Infuse your copy with life. Dr. Seuss kept his word selection simple. In fact, ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ only includes 50 different words. However, his copy was anything but dull. Use concrete nouns and vivid verbs to show — not tell.
22. Writing a blog post: a step-by-step process
Nothing can be as daunting for a freelancer as a blank screen and a cursor menacingly blinking, daring you to type something — anything. Sure, writing will always be a mentally strenuous activity, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. If you establish a process similar to what is suggested in this article by blogger Darren Rowse, writing can quickly become a more pleasant experience.
- Think of the reader. Imagine the reader’s situation. What do you want his or her experience to be while reading the blog? Having a reader persona can be helpful.
- Brainstorm and outline the post. Outlining a post can be especially helpful as it allows you to map out what you want to say and determine how much attention you want to give to different sections.
23. Tips for eyeball-worthy content
For a freelancer, there is no greater feeling than watching a piece of content you created drive engagement and fill the needs of your client. However, your content may not do this as much as you might like. A recent article published by Content Marketing Institute gives some advice on how you can meet your goals of getting eyes on your content more often.
- Give your readers something valuable. The article explains that the content readers find valuable provides a level of depth that often is found most prominently in long-form content. Content that resonates, inspires, and engages is also valuable.
- Reflect your readers. Sure, there is value in challenging ideas from time to time, but endorsing your audience’s existing opinions helps them feel validated.
- Make readers feel connected. Posing questions to your audience is an effective way to build connection with your readers. Capitalizing on trending and controversial topics also helps your readers feel a vested interest in engaging with your content.
24. Signs you’re not cut out for freelance work — and what to do about it
This Entrepreneur article title is a little misleading, since anybody with initiative can be “cut out” for freelance work. If you read on, the article is mostly focused on giving freelancers ideas about what they can do if they are struggling in their endeavors.
• What to do if you crave job security: Find an anchor client from whom you get most of your work. This allows you to have a level of security, but retain flexibility.
• What to do if you feel disorganized and unproductive: Do your best to establish a regular daily schedule.
• What to do if you feel isolated: Communicating with a client via video chat rather than by text or email could be the social interaction you need.
• What to do if you don’t feel comfortable selling your skills: Remember that you aren’t trying to sell some sort of gimmick product — you have actual skills and abilities that clients want. You provide value. If you still need some help, consider using the “Lazy User Model” for preparing to approach potential clients.
25. How to file your taxes if you’re a freelancer
Tax season seems to be especially difficult for freelancers. Not only do you pay taxes like everybody else, but you also are required to pay a self-employment tax — making tax season for a freelancer a potentially painful experience. A recent article on Bustle details a few things you need to know to make tax time a little less uncomfortable (sorry, that’s as good as it gets) so you can get back to writing.
- Make sure to take tax deductions: We know this sounds obvious, but freelancers sometimes don’t realize all of the potential deductions available. The list of potential deductions includes business expenses such as meals, travel, and home office costs.
- Decide if you should pay quarterly or annual taxes. Quarterly payments can help decrease your burden when tax season comes around.
- Talk to a tax pro. Even the best software can’t advise the same way an actual tax professional can. A brief conversation could yield significant benefits.
See more monthly roundups to be a better freelancer for content marketing clients:
- Content Marketing Trends to Know (With Examples): Monthly Roundup
- Content Marketing Research and Studies: Monthly Roundup
- Social Media Marketing News: Monthly Rolling Roundup