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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Freelance Writers Learn to Interview like Diane and Katie in 10 Easy Steps

Interview

Image by smiling_da_vinci via Flickr

Freelance writers, how many times have your clients asked you to interview sources for articles, blog posts, or books? By the way, you can find ‘sources’ at HARO or Reporter Connection. Anyway … Interviews can be conducted via phone, SKYPE, face-to-face, or through email. Remember, it’s important to research the background of whomever you’re interviewing in order to create a list of questions that are provocative, yet informative. Review websites, social media sites, and read any material written by your interviewee. Gathering information from these resources will help you create your list of questions.

Freelance Writers Learn to Interview like Diane and Katie in 10 Easy Steps

1. Be natural when you interview someone. If you think of an interview as having a conversation with a friend, you won’t get nervous or make the interviewee nervous.

2. Ask journalistic questions: Freelance writers, you know what questions I’m talking about: Who, what, when, where, why, and how. Prepare questions ahead of time; however, if you allow the interview to unfold, you’ll intuitively know what questions to ask.

3. Be professional. If a phone interview is scheduled for 2 pm EST and you live in another state or country, make sure you’re familiar with time zones. It’s embarrassing to have an interviewee call and ask you if you forgot about the interview.

4. Expect the unexpected. Freelance writers, if the interview gets off course, gently guide the interviewee back to the interview.

5. Phone interviews. Freelance writers, some interviewees prefer phone interviews. You may want to use a program called Audacity which is a FREE audio editor and recorder. It works great for phone interviews.

Tip: Avoid interrupting the interviewee when they’re speaking. Wait for pauses and then interject and ask questions. The interview will flow better if you do this.

6. Email interviews. Some interviewees prefer email interviews and want the questions sent within the email. Others require freelance writers to submit questions in either Notepad, Word (.docx, .doc, .rtf), or some other program. Always ask.

7. Face-to-face interviews. This provides you the opportunity to see your client and their facial expressions. Bring a recorder, notebook, and pen. You may want to bring an extra recorder and batteries to ensure the interview is recorded — sometimes technology malfunctions. Make notes as you conduct the interview because they could prompt you to ask additional questions and write down key points.

8. Listen. Learn when to interject with questions by listening to definitive pauses.

9. Forget about a set time limit. Avoid using a time limit unless your interviewee is under  a time constraint. Interviews are anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour. But if the interview is flowing ask the interviewee if they’d like to keep going.

10. Transcripts. Freelance writers, how fast do you type? Some interviewees will ask for a transcript of the interview. You can transcribe the interview yourself, use a transcription service, or hire a local transcriber. It’s up to you.

Tip: Freelance writers, remember that an interview may be posted on the interviewee’s website. Ask interesting questions that will engage the interviewee and readers. Boring questions are the fastest way to dash your hopes of a poignant interview. Ask open-ended questions that you can build upon if necessary. Stay away from questions that require a “yes or no” response because they don’t add anything to an interview.

Freelance writers have fun with interviews. Make sure an interviewee is relaxed because it will make the interviewing process easier. Be prepared for the interview with a list of questions, but don’t be afraid to ask questions that you think of as the interview progresses. This will show that you’re paying attention to what your interviewee is saying and guarantee you another interview. Good luck!

Amandah

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How to Improve Your Blog to Increase Web Traffic in 5 Easy Steps

Creative, freelance and ghost writers, the number of blogs on the internet increases every day. What makes yours unique? You may have noticed that some blogs have the same template or theme. There are numerous blogs about freelance writing, blogging, screenwriting, fiction writing, and other niches. How does your blog stand out from the crowd? What makes a person want to read your blog? Attracting web traffic doesn’t have to be difficult. If you write and publish useful, unique content and engage with your current followers, you’ll gain more followers.

Writers, I know you’re no stranger to blogs. Freelance writers write blog posts for clients and authors usually have a blog on their website or at least a link to their blogs. The key is to write a headline that will ‘hook’ readers and write a blog posts that will solve their problems or entertain them.

Writing a blog can be tedious if you’re writing on the same topic as everyone else. Be original and break away from the same old, same old. Use a different angle when you write a “how to” post. Provide information that hasn’t been written about yet. Readers appreciate blog posts from different perspectives. Dare to be different!

How to Improve Your Blog to Increase Web Traffic Visitors in 5 Easy Steps

1. Write unique posts in your style, tone, and voice. Forget about copying your writer because that’s too boring.

2. Create attention grabbing headlines and back them up with solid information.

3. Change your color scheme one in awhile. You may get bored with the look of your blog or it could use a makeover. Breathe new life into your blog with a different a color scheme and layout. It could help your increase your page ranking.

4. Breakout of the “how to and tips and tricks” blog posts. There’s more to blogging than “How to do this or How to do that.” Be bold and daring and write posts that make readers stop and think. Don’t be afraid to be controversial. If you disagree with something, present your opinion and back it up.

5. Find your niche. If you’re not passionate about your subject matter it will show in your blog posts. Make sure you’re passionate about what you’re blogging about. Have fun with it!

Blogging can be a solo professional or company’s worst nightmare; this why freelance writers are hired. Freelance writers know how to write error-free blog posts, and they incorporate key words to assist in increasing page rank. 

If your blog needs a makeover, think about how you can revamp it. First, step back and reevaluate why you created your blog in the first place. What’s your goal for the blog? What do want to accomplish? Second, think about the layout and color schemes. Dark color schemes sometimes work, but the most popular color scheme is blue because it’s known as a ‘trustworthy’ color. This is why you’ll see politicians and business men and women wear blue — it conveys a ‘feeling’ of trust. Finally, have your blog critiqued by an expert in web design and SEO. They’ll provide you with suggestions on how to make your blog user friendly. Your web traffic will increase in no time.

Amandah

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Freelance Writers Follow These 7 Steps to Write Catchy Headlines

I was supposed to attend Copyblogger’s Headline Clinic on Thursday, December 15, but I had a meeting regarding Event and Party Planning. Anyway … As a freelance writer, it’s important to write appealing headlines for your clients as well as personal projects such as blogs, newsletters, articles, teleseminars, webinars and so forth. Below you’ll find 7 steps to writing catchy headlines.

Freelance Writers Follow These 7Steps to Write Catchy Headlines

1. Know your target audience and write for them.

2. Write headlines that contain 40-80 characters.

3. Identify the problem and offer a solution in the form of a question. Example: How to Write a Newsletter in 5 Easy Steps.

4. Pay attention to headlines in the newspaper and online. See how they create a call to action or make you want to stop and read the post.

5. Use the headline formulas of Question + Problem = Solution or Question + Problem + Solution = Specific Answer.

6. Make a statement without making a statement. Translation: statement headlines can appear weak — use them in moderation.

7. Read gossip magazines (I know) to see how they write jaw dropping headlines.

Amandah

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