What I Learned My First 30 Days As a Freelance Copywriter

A culmination of being business savvy from owning my own and managing others and having writing and marketing skills to put to use put me on the path to becoming a knowledgeable copywriter. On-going education and field experience play a significant role in the business. No bull and fast, quality delivery of effective writing are the commodity sought after by businesses to assist them in selling their product and services. After establishing a mentorship and getting my feet wet with a few courses, I was ready to start building my writing portfolio with real assignments. This is what I learned.Service auction sites are full of scam artistsYou might be encouraged by your instructor to bid low on auction sites for work commissioned by businesses and start ups. Although this is a great place to start, there are scams you might fall prey to if you’re not careful. Like me, you’ll quickly learn that you are being underbid by people outside the U.S. Very few of these writers are legitimate, although their profiles make them seem like the glorious and obvious choice for the seeker’s project. Their profiles seem almost over-educated and very impersonal and these accounts are both bidding on jobs and posting jobs even though they are marketing their profile as a writer. This is because they are fishing for real writers to do the work that they’ve bid on. If you agree to do the work within the site, you may actually be paid (but very little, an agreed upon price) and if you agree to do the work off site, you may not be paid at all. To insure you’re making a business relationship with someone of integrity, keep your business on-site for multiple assignments and be sure you are paid promptly after each one. If off-site, you may consider meeting via video on Skype and agreeing to a payment agreement you are comfortable with (such as through PayPal and after each and every assignment). Offer samples of work relevant to the assignment, but never offer them the assignment without an agreement.Network, network, networkCopywriter’s brands are often just their name, personality and expertise. I have business cards always on hand, taking advantage of conversation opportunities to help a business person in need. I also read the local paper for opportunities to reach out to local businesses and charities to get real-world experience and local coverage/word of mouth. I write reviews on local restaurants and shout out to them via social media and have even traded services with a local business already. I think this is the most validating approach to growing roots in the business. It feels good to make friends and relationships, and portray your business image publicly, rather than online only. In addition to having an online presence conveying what you have to offer others, tap into what others can offer you by joining relevant writing groups and signing up for additional free trainings.All learning is applicableOnce your search engine and social media accounts algorithm, you’ll notice that you’ll be targeted by other businesses’ advertising. Often times it will be free training seminars and mailing lists in writing, real estate, affiliate or work from home/multi-level marketing models. These are great and symbiotic opportunities! I sign up for a lot of them because it adds to my knowledge bank of things I’m able to write about and gives me deeper languages to speak to clients with. That can give them the confidence in me to make me responsible for their project, no matter the industry.Spend more time writing than advertising that you are a writerAfter I built my brand in social media, my website and marketing tools I quickly grew tired of keeping up with the marketing part. This is a great sign. Most successful copywriters aren’t spending a lot of time marketing themselves, because they are busy actually writing and marketing others. And to get busy marketing others, you must get busy marketing others! Even if you are working for free, for cheap or for yourself (creative writing, e-books, publishing articles, etc), building a portfolio is more important than building the mask. Too many business people are successful looking, and not successful. Know what you are talking about and have the experience to back it by gaining the experience and see the value and investment you’re making while working, if even for little to no money.Don’t be discouragedThis is a career that’s built over time, time in experience and training. You will jump over obstacles or fall on your face at times. Turn those negatives into positives. The more experience you have (even the bad), the closer you are to a successful career in copy-writing. It’s a profession full of approvals needed and feedback given, of waiting too long for your next assignment or for being slammed with too many with short deadlines. Be honest, yet confident when selling yourself to new perspective clients and do what you know until you’re comfortable stretching to uncharted territory a little at a time.Become timelyIn so many facets, become timely. Your wages depend on you writing quality content, quickly because you’re often working for a per assignment payment. It’s also important to know how quickly you can turn different assignments so that you can schedule your time appropriately. Especially in the beginning, you should keep a weekly calendar to record your assignments or time you are allotting to marketing yourself, bidding jobs or continuing your education. This keeps business momentum, keeps you reliable and keep clients returning to you for future work.

How I Got 70,000 Useless Visitors To My Site In One Day! (Analysis of Social Bookmark Traffic)

Recently, a page on one of my websites was bookmarked
or listed on Digg, a popular social bookmark site. It
gave me the perfect opportunity to study and analyze
the traffic coming from these social media sites. Read
to discover the advantages and disadvantages of social
bookmark traffic and how it can be applied to your
own online marketing or site.

Is Social BookMark Traffic Useless?

First, we must make the distinction that no traffic
is useless. Any visitor to your site is a good thing
and should be welcomed. However, all traffic is not
created equally, there are great differences in the
sources of your traffic. This article takes a close
analytical look at social bookmark traffic from an
internet marketing perspective.

In case you haven’t noticed, right now social bookmark
and media sites are all the rage on the web. Social
bookmark traffic comes from such popular sites as
Slashdot, Digg, Stumbleupon… basically these sites
are driven by their users — that is, users or members
pick and bookmark the content they want to view and
discuss.

These social bookmark sites are extremely popular;
they command the high traffic numbers most ordinary
sites can only dream about obtaining.

But is this social bookmark traffic useful?

Is it worth your time? Should you be actively promoting
to these social media sites? Is social bookmark traffic
of any use to the affiliate marketer? Should you
concentrate your online marketing efforts on these
types of sites? More importantly, what are the benefits
and disadvantages of getting a front page listing on
a sites like Digg or Stumbleupon?

As a full-time online marketer I wanted to know the
answers to those questions. Moreover, I wanted to
discover how or if I could use these sites from
an online marketer’s advantage; i.e. how can they
help me create more online income.

Recently, the Digg listing gave me a first-hand
opportunity to really study these sites.

Of course, nothing happens without a reason… I did
actually court these social bookmark sites by placing
the free Addthis.com bookmark on all my pages. You can
do the same. This simple bookmark lets your visitors
bookmark your content for you in all these sites; it
only takes a few seconds to place the bookmark code
on your webpages.

But be careful; getting your site featured on the
front page of these sites can drive 100,000′s of
visitors to your site immediately, so much traffic
that it may overtax your server and crash it.

So be warned; if you’re actively promoting to these
social bookmark sites just make sure your servers or
web hosting is up to the demanding task of handling
all these sudden visitors.

In my case, it didn’t crash my servers but unfortunately,
the page/link in question featured an old poorly
written article I did on the history of the Internet.
It was just some random facts and things about the web,
not really an article at all. Why it was even
featured on Digg is a puzzle and beyond me.

But still I am not one to waste an opportunity, so I
put my Google Analytics into overdrive and starting
analyzing these visitors and social bookmark traffic.

It pointed out some very interesting factors about this
social bookmark traffic.

Most of this traffic will:

  • simply bounce back
  • very few visitors will spend much time on your site
  • very few visitors will even venture into your site
  • very few will sign up to your newsletter
  • very few will enter your marketing follow-ups/funnels

(The unknown variable here being the content on your
site, how good it is? How well does it perform?)

Regardless, one common problem with traffic from these
sites, it’s very temporary traffic. The high volume
will only last a few days… until your item is moved
back from the front page.

These visitors will not stay on your site long and
most are gone within seconds, never to be seen again.
A few may sign up to your newsletter or venture to
other areas of your site but not many.

Social bookmark traffic is very fleeting, like
customers in the drive-through section in a fast
food restaurant, they grab the content and surf back
to the major linking site very quickly and surf
on to the next item.

This traffic will behave very differently than
organic traffic from the search engines, or from
your newsletter traffic or from traffic in your
marketing funnels. Much different.

It was unlike getting one of my articles featured
in Addme or SiteProNews, where I can easily get 200
or 300 new subscribers in a day. Plus, these visitors
are interested in my information and have been exposed
to my content (article) before coming to my site.

So there was no comparison; I would take the
traffic from these sites any day over traffic
from the social bookmark sites. And I would
take free organic traffic from the search engines
over any other source of traffic including
PPC traffic.

So the question remains – is social bookmark traffic
useless?

First, as I mentioned before, you must realize no
traffic is useless; any visitors to your site is a
good thing. Without traffic your site is worthless,
just a few files sitting on a server in the middle
of nowhere.

Obtaining visitors is one of your first objectives
as a webmaster. You have to get visitors to your
site or it’s game over.

The best kind of traffic is traffic coming from
organic search, visitors who come from the search
engines seeking exactly what you’re offering on
your site. These are targeted visitors who will
consider your offer, real your information,
maybe buy a product or sign-up to your newsletter
or follow-up system. They often become repeat
visitors to your site. These are your ideal visitors.
This is the kind of traffic you want.

Social bookmark/media traffic is different but it
does have some saving graces.

Mainly it can help expose your site to millions and
help brand your site or business. It can get the word
out about your site. Start a buzz.

If you have a site that appeals to the mass market,
then these social sites could be an excellent
recruiting ground for visitors and traffic.

These social sites are good for another reason;
getting your links on all these high traffic,
high PR7 and PR8 sites can’t hurt your search
engine rankings. Once featured on a site like
Digg, your link will appear on many secondary
sites around the web, so far 500+ and counting.
Monkey see, monkey do. Although it has never been
my main ambition to get featured on Fark.com, all
these sites do have high PR ranks so from a SEO
standpoint it is not necessarily a bad thing.

Since many of these visitors will be using the
Firefox browser which has the Alexa toolbar
embedded – your site’s traffic rank will increase.
Over 50% of the bookmark traffic coming to my site
were using the Firefox browser. Alexa’s traffic
rankings are not a true picture of the web’s
traffic but it’s a good measuring stick,
nonetheless.

Google might even consider it when ranking your
site. Google basically considers their whole
indexing system as a democratic voting structure…
sites give a vote by linking to your content;
wouldn’t it also be reasonable to assume more
traffic means more votes. So wouldn’t getting a
lot of traffic or being featured on a site like
Digg where the users vote to propel the best
content to the front be the ultimate vote.

One strange thing I did notice, for some reason
the traffic from Stumbleupon was different. These
visitors stayed longer on my site and reacted more
like organic traffic. Maybe the Stumbleupon site is
of a higher quality and this may have been reflected
in the quality of the visitors coming from there.
It also reminded me, all traffic from these social
media sites can’t be judged with the one brush.

This whole experience also pointed out another
important factor; it made me realize how unsuited
my content is for the general web surfer or the
mainstream web. Just how much my online sites are
geared towards marketing and selling. My main goal
as an affiliate marketer is to gather leads and make
sales for the companies and products I promote. All
my sites and content were planned and organized to
first draw in targeted (warmed up) visitors from free
organic search and from my online articles.

If I or anyone wanted to take advantage of this
social media traffic, you would have to create
your site/content to appeal to these surfers and
then somehow draw them into your marketing funnels.
I don’t know if the majority of the users of these
bookmark sites would make good prospects, but my
guess is not very likely, the nature of the beast.
But it would largely depend on what you’re offering
on your site and how well it is suited to these users.

So I am not drawing any conclusions yet.

Hopefully, I will have further chances to study traffic
from these social sites and get the long-term effects,
especially in regards to my keyword rankings in the
search engines before making any final judgments.

For now I will keep an open mind but the jury is still
way out whether or not social bookmark traffic is worth
the interruption to the daily marketing tasks of your site.
Just seems like much ado about nothing.