Four Simple Things You Can Do Today to Get In Front of More People & Claim That Expertise!

“Presence is more than just being there.” ~ Malcolm S. Forbes

Here’s another guest post from Katy Tafoya is teacher and a coach who finds joy in helping women claim their passion and expertise. She guides solopreneurs to make their lives and their businesses juicier, more fulfilling and more successful. She also leads the Val Gal quarterly networking dinners which are always open to the public and in the greater San Fernando Valley. If you’re ready to identify, claim and leverage your expertise and live your passion you can sign up for a a F.R.E.E. subscription to her weekly ezine at SuccessForSolpreneurs.com.

WANT TO SEE MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS ONE? See Katy’s blog at SuccessforSolopreneurs.com/blog.

When was the last time someone contacted you completely out of the blue? When did someone you’ve never personally met before tell you that they’d love to work with you, or interview you, or even create a JV (joint venture) relationship with you?

Better yet, when was the last time you Googled yourself?

I ask about Googling yourself because if you don’t like what you see when you look at the information attached to your name, how will others like it? And why would they bother to reach out to you?

Whether you like it or not, we all develop relationships with those we know, like and trust.  And all the information that is out there on the Internet attached to you and your business builds up that knowable, likeable, trustable factor (yes, I know that trustable isn’t a real word).

In fact, when you have control over what is being said about you and your business, your message, it opens the doors to so many new opportunities (like people coming out of the seeming woodwork who want to work with you).

Here are four simple things you can do today to get started taking control of your online presence…

  • Join those social networks. You don’t need to be active (except on the ones where your clients and colleagues spend their time), but you do need to have an account. The more the merrier.
  • Fill out those profiles. When you join the various social networks, make sure you fill out your profile completely…add a photo, link to your site, import your blog. It’s all great fodder for the search engines and that’s what you want.
  • Spread the word.  When you read something you like, share it, “like” it; give it a +1 or a retweet. Tell your friends. Tell your community. Do what you have to do to spread the word…in doing so, others will also spread YOUR word. And the more you share, the more it shows your shares (especially with Google +) in Google search results.
  • Leave Comments. The more comments you leave (make sure you provide website URL when doing so, but only where it’s asked for) the more links you have that point back to your website. Which again, means the more search results that come up for your website or your name.

And of course…the great and positive side effect from having that strong online presence is that it really helps to demonstrate that you are the expert and the authority. And as an expert in your field, your community looks to you for advice and for resources.

That’s a pretty powerful place to be. So get out there and get busy!

ACTION PLAN: Google yourself today. Devise a strategy to get more relevant search results using any or all of the ideas mentioned above.

I hope you enjoyed this guest post. I find Katy’s articles to be useful to creative, freelance and ghost writers. After all, we are solopreneurs!

Amandah

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SEO Made Easy: Freelance Writers I like Yoast and You Will Too

English: seo block

Image via Wikipedia

I recently discovered Yoast while working on my creative and humorous website, Daily Family Antics. I thought I knew SEO and considered myself informed about the subject. However, I was wrong. I should have known that there’s always room for improvement. After working with Yoast, I quickly realized I needed to refine my SEO skills. Thank goodness Yoast is a great teacher.

What I Learned about SEO

As I was working with Yoast, I discovered that ‘permalink’ is the same thing as slug. I always allowed WordPress to choose my permalink; however, by working with Yoast, I discovered that it’s a good idea to change it to something shorter. Of course, it’s important to have your ‘main’ keyword or keywords in the slug.

As I continued working with Yoast, I discovered stopwords. I had no idea what these were and didn’t realize that search engines take them away anyway. If you use WordPress.org, you may want to download the SEO Slugs Plugin or some other slug plugin.

SEO Made Easy: Freelance Writers I like Yoast and You Will Too

1. Download Yoast, upload it to your plugins folder, and activate the plugin. It’s easy to do.

2. Freelance writers, Yoast gives you ‘thumbs up,’ warning, and okay symbols for various aspects of your post.

3. Yoast will force you to learn and strengthen your SEO skills. If your title is ‘lacking’ one or more of your keywords, the program alerts you. Furthermore, the program alerts you if you don’t have your keyword(s) in the first paragraph. It’s up to you to write a better title and introduction.

4. Freelance writers; your writing skills will improve. It’s important to provide quality ‘optimized’ content. Don’t stuff your posts or articles with keywords because search engines frown upon this.

5. You’ll develop a better understand of SEO copywriting. Freelance writers interested in gaining new ‘web content writing’ projects will be benefit from working with Yoast. New freelance writers will develop their SEO copywriting skills and attract clients.

6. If you verified your website with Google, Bing or Alexa, you can enter the ‘meta’ code in the Webmaster Tools area. Note: this is a good reminder if you haven’t already verified your website.

7. Yoast offers an introduction tour to teach you about the program. Take a few minutes and take the tour.

It’s important to write for people first but SEO can’t be ignored. Google keeps making changes to how it will scan data and connect its users. Provide quality content but incorporate SEO within blog posts, articles and web pages. Stay away from Black Hat SEO because you can optimize your writing without resorting to ‘dirty’ tactics.

Amandah

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Screenwriters Speak Confidently to Investors in 7 Easy Steps

Many screenwriters would like to see their work produced. However, they may not have the funds and require an investor to back them. This can be tricky because most screenwriters are not business people and don’t understand how investors think and work. It’s best to know what you’re up against before you ask for $50,000 or $500,000 to make your screenplay a reality on the big or little screen.

As a screenwriter, you may be under the assumption that it’s all about you and your film. Unfortunately, it’s ALL ABOUT the investor! You may be passionate about your screenplay, but an investor wants to know what’s in it for them. An investor will ask about the ROI (return on investment). If you aren’t familiar with ROI and other business terms, enroll in a business courses to learn the lingo and how business works.

Tip: Make sure you have a business plan when you speak with investors. This does not mean you have to give them a 30-60 page business plan (standard), but have an outline or proposal prepared about the project.

Investors want to back a good deal. Screenwriters must prove themselves to investors. What makes your screenplay unique versus another? How do you know your screenplay will make money? Asking yourself these and other questions will assist you when you approach investors.

Screenwriters Speak Confidently to Investors in 7 Easy Steps

  • What is your budget for your screenwriting project? This is the most important piece of information you can have!
  • Give investors a brief description of your project. What exactly is your screenplay about? What is the title? Do you have a treatment, logline and synopsis to give to investors?
  • Scout out the filming location of your project. Be open to changing the location if necessary.
  • What’s your time frame for your project? When does filming begin and end? What happens if you go over the scheduled deadline? What’s your plan?
  • What is the ROI (return on investment)? The bottom line is what matters to most investors. They want to know they’ll earn a decent ROI if they invest in you and your screenplay.
  • Prepare a ‘short’ business plan and give it to investors. The business plan will include financial projections, marketing, etc.
  • Exude confidence when you speak with an investor. Most prefer to work with people who believe in themselves and their screenplays.

Screenwriters focus on the creative aspect of the “entertainment business” instead of the BIG picture. You’re in a business of marketing and making films which solves the problem for the general public of what to do on a Friday or Saturday night. The sooner you understand that Hollywood is a business, the better off you’ll be.

Tip #2: Avoid being rude or arrogant when approaching investors. Screenwriters who lack non-verbal and verbal communication skills will benefit from classes on these subjects. Professionalism is a must! This may not sound glamorous but it is part of the business.

Developing and building relationships is part of the entertainment business. If you’re not relationship savvy, network with people who are and learn from them. Taking a few classes or workshops on relationship building will not hurt you — it will only help you. If you’re serious about seeing your screenplay produced, do what it takes to make your dream a reality. Remember, whether or not you make it as a screenwriter depends solely on you and how well you communicate with people. Good luck!

Amandah

Have you approached investors about funding your screenplay? What appraoch did you use? Share your thoughts.

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What’s the Word: Creating a Theme For the New Year

This post is from Katy Tafoya, a teacher and a coach who finds joy in helping women claim their passion and expertise. She guides solopreneurs to make their lives and their businesses juicier, more fulfilling and more successful. She also leads the Val Gal quarterly networking dinners which are always open to the public and in the greater San Fernando Valley. If you’re ready to identify, claim and leverage your expertise and live your passion you can sign up for a a F.R.E.E. subscription to her weekly ezine at SuccessForSolpreneurs.com.

WANT TO SEE MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS ONE? See Katy’s blog at SuccessforSolopreneurs.com/blog

“I’m a woman of very few words, but lots of action.” ~ Mae West

Happy New Year!

No, really, my wish for you is that this year you will discover and experience your HAPPY new year. So now that we’re a couple days in, how are things shaping up for you?

Have you made those resolutions? I’m not one for making resolutions myself. Like many folks out there, I found that I made these promises and within days, I’ve broken then. And then I feel crappy, like a failure for not being able to follow through.

So instead, I like to focus on setting an intention or a theme for the year. Following my mentor, Christine Kane’s advice, I choose a word (any word or short phrase) that can become the theme for my year. For example, in the past I’ve used, “let go,” “create,” and one year, “giggle.” I know others have used joy, love, peace, strength, bold, etc. The word can be anything that resonates with you, inspires you, makes you smile or motivates you.

I’ve noticed that for me, the word that I start the year with and the word that I end the year with, are not always the very same word. Take last year for an example…I started the year with “create.” My intention was to spend the year not only creating new products, new services and new business, but I also wanted to remind myself to BE more creative. I wanted to get out there and embrace my inner artist.

Well, about mid-way through the year, my word changed to “imperfection” (which I’ve no doubt you noticed as I wrote about it all the time). I realized that I couldn’t be very creative if I was always striving for perfection.

So to allow more creativity and moments of actual creation, I had to learn to allow imperfection. I had to just do it, and not stress how perfect it turned out. In my mind, it was better to have something out there imperfectly, than to have nothing out there at all because I was still stuck on making sure everything was perfect. This opened the world up for me. In fact, it brought me to this year’s word…expand.

This year I want to expand — my life, my relationships, my products and services, my presence and my business as a whole. I want to be BIGGER and BOLDER. I want to be more audacious and more approachable. I want to be the me I know I was put here to be.

At the same time though, I want to it to be easy and effortless. I mean why make it difficult, right? Which then brought me to the phrase — effortless expansion. This year will be the year for effortless expansion.

Will I change it up mid-way again? Quite possibly. It really all depends how things go and expand. Either way, I’m open to whatever sort of “expansion” the new year brings my way.

I encourage you to find a word that empowers you, brings you joy, has you feeling focused and in charge. It can be a short phrase. It’s not carved in stone, so don’t stress over this.

Get silent and see what comes to you. Then put that word up somewhere where you can see it throughout the day. Let it inspire you. Let it BE you. Then remember to live your life….with intention. And if all else fails, there’s always the 2012 Resolution Generator.

I’d love to know what your word or short phrase is for this year. Feel free to respond back to this newsletter or send me an email.

ACTION PLAN: Pick a word for your year and try it on for size. When it feels right, embrace it! 

I invite you to share a little about who you are, what you do and your successes as solopreneur by joining the conversation at the Success for Solopreneurs community.

I hope you enjoyed Katy’s post!
Amandah

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Creative and Freelance Writers Beat the Winter and Solitary Blues in 7 Easy Steps

Have you heard of seasonal depression or the winter blues? Freelance writers, if you live in a cold, gray, snow, or rainy part of the U.S. or an area of your country of origin that’s not sunny and warm, you may suffer from seasonal depression. Also, you may get depressed or crabby from time-to-time because you work alone. This is normal and treatable.

Some freelance writers prefer the solitary life while others are very sociable creatures. If you fall into the latter category, you probably like to be surrounded by people and may become irritable if you constantly stay indoors. There’s no need to be blue about writing alone, you just require the knowledge and tools to free yourself from the grips of writer’s depression.

Creative and Freelance Writers Beat the Winter and Solitary Blues in 7 Easy Steps

1. Decorate your home office with colorful artwork or homemade art from your kids.

2. Hire a Feng Shui expert to design your home office.

3. Place fresh flowers in vases or put plants in your office.

4. Get a pet that you can easily manage.

5. Get out! Freelance writers; meet with clients face-to-face once or twice a month. Creative writers may want join a coffee group or visit your local library to see what classes they offer. Also, go to the beach, park, or walk around your neighborhood.

6. Become a volunteer at your favorite charitable organization.

7. Take up a hobby like painting, pottery, drawing, model airplanes, or whatever interests you.

It’s true that writing can be a lonely profession, but you can join writer’s groups or attend weekly or monthly book clubs. Let’s face it; staring at the same four walls every day could slowly drive you insane! Seriously, working by yourself could get to you if you let it.

Creative and freelance writing does not have to be a depressing career. You could listen to music while you write. Also, don’t allow the solitude of writing choke you. Make sure you’re involved in activities other than writing such as working art, painting, yoga, dance, etc. It’s good to branch out of your comfort zone and try something new.

You can overcome the winter and solitary blues. So … Before you do something drastic like quit writing, find something else that you’re passionate about and do it. Creative and freelance writing doesn’t have to be a gloomy profession. You don’t have to be the stereotypical depressed artist. There’s a bright side to your profession, you just have to find and appreciate it!

Amandah

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Freelance Writers Use This Simple 5 Step Laptop Maintenance Plan

Freelance writers, do you work on a Mac or PC? What’s your backup plan? My laptop has been acting up lately. It gets stuck when it goes into sleep mode and sometimes Windows takes a long time to boot. My laptop is four years old, but I was expecting it to last a little longer than that! I’ve been trying to ‘diagnose’ the issue, but I can’t be certain if it’s the CPU, hard drive, motherboard, Windows Vista operating system, or RAM. Who knows? I’m a writer, not a computer technician!

Freelance Writers Use This Simple 5 Step Laptop Maintenance Plan

1. Always backup your files. Choose a day during the week or month and backup up your computer system. You can also purchase an online backup system or purchase an external hard drive and backup your files.

2. Clean your laptop. Keep your laptop clean by cleaning it. I know it’s a ‘no brainer’ but you’d be surprises how many people own laptops but don’t take care of them. Use non-abrasive cleaners on laptop and it will look good as new.

3. Delete old files. Clean your system by deleting old files. When in doubt, transfer files to a USB or external hard drive and then delete them from your computer’s system.

4. Use a good surge protector. It’s important to protect your laptop or MacBook Pro from power outages. Purchase a heavy duty surge protector and make sure your outlets are up to code.

5. Defrag and cleanup your disk. If you’re not a techie or that computer savvy, have someone else do this for you. Locate your ‘My Computer’ on your laptop and open it. Find ‘Properties’ and right click on it. This brings up a menu. Select ‘Disk Cleanup‘ and allow your laptop to work its magic. If you feel comfortable with ‘moving’ around your computer, check out Tools and check for errors, Defrag your system, and Backup your files.

Amandah

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What Advice Do You Wish You Received before Becoming a Freelance Writer?

Like many freelance writers, I jumped in the deep end of professional writing with my eyes wide open. I didn’t have anyone to coach or guide me through the sometimes murky waters of freelance writing. I admit that it would have been nice to have had some ‘solid’ advice about freelance writing before I embarked on this journey. It would have been nice if a ‘seasoned’ freelance writer would have given me solid information about the business of writing. Oh well! Sometimes, it helps to learn as you go and learn from your mistakes.

Here’s the advice I wished I would have received before becoming a freelance writer:

1. Freelance writing is a business. It’s up to you, the freelance writer, to run your business. No one else will do it for you. Unless, of course, you hire outside help so you can work in your business not on it.

It’s important to know who your target market is. Also, it may be easier to write for a ‘niche’ market than trying to be everything to all businesses. It’s important to be comfortable with sales and marketing. If you can’t sell you and your writing services, who will?

A freelance writer needs to know how to create quotes, proposals, and invoices. Lucky for me, I have an accounting background and creating these types of forms wasn’t difficult for me. But what do if you don’t know how to do this? You could do a Google search or find forms on the internet and ‘tweak’ them.

2. Learn about web design and HTML coding. Tweaking your WordPress theme may or may not be easy. If you can’t afford to hire a professional web designer, learn about web design and coding or barter with a web designer. For example, in exchange for a clean and professional website, you could write blog posts and articles for the web designer.

3. Choose your domain name wisely. Is it better to use your name or a business name? What are the pros and cons? It’s possible that you could choose a domain name only to outgrow it. Before you setup your freelance writing website, conduct a ‘domain name’ brainstorming session and choose the name that’s right for you. Bounce names off of close, supportive family and friends. It’s better to do this then purchase a domain name that you really don’t like.

4. Learn how to write and submit query letters the first time. Let’s face it; there’s a lot of advice online about writing and submitting query letters. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Is there a right or wrong answer about writing and submitting query letters? It would have been nice to have been mentored by an experienced freelance writer who wrote and sent   query letters throughout the years. Fumbling in the dark doesn’t help.

5. How do you set freelance writing rates? This is another area where it’s completely gray. When you’re a new freelance writer, how do you know what to charge? What’s the ‘magic’ formula? Is there a magic formula? Most ‘seasoned’ freelance writers say there isn’t a ‘standard’ when it comes to setting rates. Personally, I think they forget what it’s like to be a newbie. New freelance writers could use guidance and solid answers when it comes to setting rates. It would cut down on the frustration of it all.

6. Where to find the right clients? This would have been extremely helpful. How did ‘seasoned’ freelance writers find their clients when they started out? How do they find their clients? Did they go through the yellow pages? Would a newbie go through Yelp? Did a ‘seasoned’ freelance writer drive through their local business park and write down the business names? What’s the 411 on this?

7. How to stick with freelance writing when you’re not earning what you expected to earn or don’t have a solid support system? What happens when you quit your job because you thought you could immediately earn the same amount of income or even more each month from freelance writing? What happens when you ‘jump into’ freelance writing without having a backup income? Are the ‘gurus’ who say, “You can earn a living doing what you love” wrong? Are they selling ‘pipe dreams? Are they doing a disservice to people? Ugh!

What happens when you don’t have the support of family and friends? How do you persevere and press forward? Connect with local writers through Meetup.com, the library or local bookstores. Sometimes, it helps to meet face-to-face with others who are experiencing the same situation as you. Of course, you can connect with other writers through forums along with Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media websites. Just remember — you’re not alone. There are other writers who probably feel the same as you do. All you have to do is meet them. Before you know it, you’ll have cultivated a network of writers and friends.

Amandah

What advice do you wish you were given before you became a freelance writer? Share

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