Having your own freelance writing business is like consistently balancing a scale of pros and cons. While it can provide you with a wealth of benefits, like being your own boss and taking home a bigger slice of the pie; one major downside is actually getting a client to hand over that cold, hard cash.
You’ve plugged yourself into a project—pouring in hours, days and sometimes even weeks. You’ve cultivated it to the caliber of receiving commendation and you can’t wait to cash in on your efforts.
Your rent is due soon, the dog needs to visit the vet, your partner’s birthday is only around the corner. You’ve practically spent the money in your mind.
You go to invoice your client immediately after project completion and a moment of hesitation paralyzes your hand. “Is it too soon to send the invoice?” You ask yourself if they’ll think you’re desperate for the dollars. You begin to analyze the past 5 years of your life’s social interactions, as your mind conjures up multiple scenarios.
Invoicing a client is a tricky topic amongst freelancers and the self-employed. With the myriad of variables involved, invoicing isn’t quite a science but more of an art, that requires the finesse of a scalpel (not an actual scalpel).
Timing is everything. Here’s how to do it right.
The Waiting Game
A common misconception is that you should wait a few days, a week or even two before sending an invoice to a client. You don’t want to come off as desperate and pushy, but you’ve slogged over a project and you need to be compensated for your efforts.
While waiting to issue your invoice may seem like the smart move—the longer you wait, the more your content depreciates in value. It’s like staring at a selfie for so long, that it loses its value (we’ve all been there, am I right?).
When the content is fresh, like a shiny new toy, the client is more inclined to believe that they have got a good deal out of hiring you.
Strike While the Iron’s Hot
Invoice fast and invoice often.
Whether you’re creating content or building websites—in the self-employed world of freelancing, leveraging every tool at your disposal is a must. Seventy-eight percent of invoices are sent via email across all industries. The most common method of delivery is also the most convenient and yet, why are freelancers and SMB’s struggling to get paid on time?
Does an invoice need to be sent immediately, for it to be more credible? In short, yes.
Invoice while the content is still fresh in your client’s mind. Psychology calls it the Serial Position Effect or “Recency Effect”. Research over the last 56 years has proven that people are more likely to remember and act upon tasks that are at the top of the list or “still fresh in their mind”.
What does this mean for people who want to get paid? Send out your invoice, as soon as you’ve completed the work.
Anup Sohanta is a full-time freelance writer specializing in marketing, health, financial services, and other topics. To learn more about Anup — or to have him write content for your brand — check out his nDash writer profile.
It is the season of the listicle. A few weeks from now, half of all infosec blogs are going to feature an article called something like “10 of the Biggest Hacks and Mistakes in Information Security for 2018.” (The other half are going to have a blog called “Top 10 Information Security Predictions for 2019.”)
Does anyone actually read these blogs?
Whether or not to create seasonal content around information security is an interesting question. On the one hand, information security is not a seasonal business. No one is going out to buy their partner an enterprise-class firewall before the 25th
On the other hand, regardless of how seasonal a business is or isn’t, customer buying patterns change as the end of the year approaches – and the end of the year is no exception. Here’s what to consider when you’re considering a seasonal marketing campaign around information security.
Consider Whose Needs are Changing
Information security is a B2B business, and seasonal marketing is usually thought of as a tool for B2B customers. That doesn’t rule out seasonal marketing for information security practitioners, however. That’s because some of the companies and organizations who buy your product experience their most intense vulnerabilities during the holiday season.
Ecommerce, retail, service, and travel industries all experience huge spikes in revenue during the holiday season. Black Friday weekend sales beat analyst projections and grew 6.4% this year, for an estimated total of $60 billion. Total holiday spending is expected to exceed $1 trillion.
From a security perspective, any ecommerce company whose shop goes down will lose that revenue. If their site becomes infected with credit card skimmers, they will lose revenue and reputation. Any company that relies on seasonal business to make ends meet becomes a huge target for criminals and extortionists in Q4 – making them an excellent candidate for seasonal marketing efforts.
Different Approaches to Seasonal Blogs
As we mentioned in our introduction, “Year in Review” articles have been absolutely done to death. In addition, leading with the fear of being hacked might not always be your best approach. How should marketers choose seasonal subject matter?
One idea is to do a retrospective that looks further back than just one year. For example: several notable viruses and cyberattacks occurred during the holidays. The Happy99 virus spread during New Year’s Eve of that same year and is considered the first malware to spread through email, though all it did was make your computer display fireworks. A similar virus, known as Christmas Tree, spread via email attachments on the Arpanet back in 1987. (No points for guessing what it made your computer display).
Here’s another idea: Instead of doing one or two pointless listicles, do a rapid succession of deep dives into information security topics. We’ve already written about how brands that post more often tend to convert at higher rates – well, the holiday season provides plenty of opportunities to give your content calendar a workout.
Think of an information security advent calendar. Each door in the calendar is an appropriately-themed article about information security, covering past security incidents, different kinds of security technologies, different security regulations, etc. The point is to quickly add up to 24 different articles to your backlog in rapid succession, giving readers an excuse to keep coming back. Can’t keep up? Maybe try for the 12 days of Christmas or the seven nights of Hanukkah.
The point is, as long as you’ve correctly identified your marketing segment, there are plenty of ways to make interesting seasonal content around information security as a topic.
If you’re looking for ways to make this topic interesting around the rest of the year, we have you covered as well. Sign up for the nDash platform and build a content community that will help you make content that hooks information security professionals and converts all year round.
About the author:
Andrew Sanders is a professional freelance writer on nDash. His clients include IANS, TechTarget, AppNeta, Hitachi, and dozens more. To learn more about Andrew – and to have him write for your brand – please see his nDash profile page.
If your goal is to secure high rankings on search engine result pages (SERPs), then you need a lot of content.
When we say you need a lot of content, that’s exactly what we mean. According to Infographic World, a company that excels in infographic marketing, certain 2017 studies revealed publishing at least one to two new pieces of content a month will attract 100 new visits to your site. When posting at least every other day, you’ll generate more than 350 new visits a month.
Not only do you need to be publishing new content frequently, but Google loves long-form content. The more in-depth your postings are, the better you are able to establish an authoritative voice.
Ideally, each piece needs to be at least 1,500 words in length. The more, the better though. When you start publishing pieces between 3,000 to 7,500 words on a regular basis, you are going to notice significant improvements in your SERPs rankings.
Now that you’ve decided to create content more frequently, you’re probably freaking out. As of now, you’re spending anywhere from $200 to $500 a month just to have two to four short-form blog postings created for you.
If you were to pay your content creator to create 15 blog posts a month with each posting being at least 3,000 words, you’re looking at spending well over $4,500 a month.
A writer worth acquiring services from is going to charge at least five cents a word, and this is going to be for a piece of content that requires little research, and it will also be for a piece of content that is only about 300 to 600 words in length. The longer the piece, the more research, which therefore increases the price per word.
Content creation isn’t cheap. A worthwhile freelance writer who specializes in SEO copywriting will cost you at least 10 cents a word, and this is on the low end.
And please for the love of quality content, do not outsource your content creation to writers on a content mill, like Textbroker. These writers only make a couple pennies per word and the end-result reflects what you pay for. Sure, you may end up with a piece that is free of spelling and grammar errors, but because they are paid so little, they invest no time into researching, which means your content isn’t going to be spruced up with valuable data and statistics.
Let’s take for example that you published a 7,000-word piece of content titled Ways to Generate Leads Without Breaking the Bank. A person ends up reading your content after Googling the phrase “using case studies to generate leads.”
We already know the person is looking for how case studies can help generate leads, so they probably don’t want to read your entire posting. Thanks to your use of subheads and bulleted lists, it is very easy for them to skim over the content and go directly to the section talking about case studies. You have made it very convenient and simple for the reader to find exactly what they are looking for. This is what true SEO marketing is all about.
Google wants your content to be long. Wants it to be stuffed full of data and statistics that have been pulled from authoritative sources. Wants it to be engaging and to provide value to the reader, allowing them to walk away from reading the piece feeling as if knowing they have learned something that has simplified their lives. And in order to accomplish these goals, you’re going to pay a pretty penny for professional content creation services.
But what if you could lower content creation expenses by having the content created internally?
What you probably don’t realize is you already have an army of writers on standby waiting to create quality content for you. Your existing employees have a lot going on, but when you approach them the right way, they can be a massive source of content.
Let’s explore how to entice your employees to become engaged in content creation.
If brand experts create the best content, then why in the world have you not been tapping into your own source of brand experts to create content for you?
Let’s say your company is a manufacturing plant. Just because your head safety control manager doesn’t work under the title content creation specialist doesn’t mean he can’t create quality blog posting. In fact, your top managers and supervisors are going to possess detailed insight regarding your brand that can be used to develop truly engaging content.
Who better to write a long-form blog posting on managing safety in a manufacturing plant than your own head safety control manager?
Who better to write a posting on optimizing assembly line productivity than your own assembly line managers?
Who better to write a posting on lowering janitorial expenses in a manufacturing plant than your own janitor?
See, you have an army of content creators at your disposal that you never even knew were there!
These people don’t have to be experts in content creation. They don’t have to possess top-notch grammar and spelling skills either. Consumers will highly value content coming from your own employees much more than they will trust created-out-of-thin-air marketing content you had some outsider create. Plus, you’re going to have an editor polish their content to ensure it’s free of spelling and grammatical errors.
Let Your Employees Tell Stories
Storytelling has become a huge marketing success over the past few years. Consumers not only want to know how certain products can simplify their own lives, but they want to hear true stories of how these products have already helped other consumers and they want to hear these stories in some type of storytelling format.
By letting your employees tell stories in content format, this is a sure-fire way to engage your readers. And best of all, there are many ways to tell stories.
Videos have become excellent for showcasing your existing customers’ satisfaction. Did you know when you include the term video in an email subject line that it is 19 percent more likely to be opened? More so, emails highlighting videos have a 65 percent higher clickthrough rate than emails that don’t include links to a video.
Videos are like the ultimate alternative to long-form content. A minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. If you have an employee who doesn’t want to create content for you, you can at least ask them to do a short two to three-minute video for you answering a few questions that consumers want answers to.
According to this infographic, 92 percent of consumers want to view ads in which brands are telling a story. When you accomplish this goal, you can rest assured engagement and memory recall levels are going to be very high. In fact, studies have proven that the brain processes images/videos at a rate of 60 times faster than it does text only.
The Best Ways to Entice Employees to Create Content For Your Brand
Sure, you can see that having your employees create content for you is going save a lot of money and will be a great way to keep the content flowing in, but getting your employees to jump on the content creation bandwagon can be a bit tricky. Not everyone is going to jump at the idea of sitting behind a computer and typing up a 5,000-word blog posting.
And to be quite honest, for those who aren’t content creation specialists, creating a 5,000-word piece of content is going to take several days. Maybe even several weeks.
Fortunately, there are several ways you can entice your employees to create content for you, and it all starts with showing them what’s in it for them. Here’s a look at five examples of the best rewards you can offer employees for creating content:
Cash incentive ($100 for every 3,000- word blog posting; you’ll need to pay an editor to polish the content)
A week of parking by the front door for each posting
Three hours paid vacation for each blog 5,000- word blog posting
$50 gift card to a local steakhouse for each long-form blog posting
Branded apparel (t-shirt for 3,000-word posting, sweatpants for 5,000-word posting, jacket for 10,000-word posting, etc.)
You can also start incorporating content creation into your employees’ job descriptions. You will, of course, want to ensure compensation comes along with this required job duty, but in doing so, you can rest assured that you are hiring workers who understand creating content is a task they are responsible for.
Your workers are your army, and it’s your duty to prepare them to create content. By offering quick-training sessions for creating content, you can easily train them to create quality content. Ideally, you will want to employ an editor who can polish all of your workers’ content before it gets published. After all, polished content that brings value to the reader’s life is going to enjoy high SERPs and will be a positive reflection on your brand.
About the Author
Whitney White is a professional freelance writer who’s sold over 12,500 pieces of content. Her clients include Forbes, Insight, Vero Beach Magazine, and many more. To learn more about Whitney — and to have her write for your brand — please see her nDash profile page.
Hi there. My name is Michael Brown, I’m the CEO of nDash, and I may or may not have actually written this post myself. It may have been ghostwritten by someone else.
Every CEO wants needs to be seen as a thought leader in their respective field, and publishing content is the best way to do that. Why don’t more of them publish, you ask? A chronic lack of time. The ability to sit down and write a 1,000-word blog post is one luxury most successful CEOs cannot afford, at least not without a huge opportunity cost.
“The acquisition will have to wait. I’m editing my conclusion.”
But if you stop to think about it, other mediums that might seem quicker (e.g. speaking engagements, podcasts, or the dreaded walk-along video) are actually more time-consuming in the long run. Why? Because they cannot be handed off, even with a stunt double or doppelganger. The CEO must be present for all of it — start to finish. Conversely, written content can be delegated with great efficiency, but only if you’ve got the right ghostwriter.
Much has been written how to find and work with ghostwriters effectively (see below). In this post, however, I want to focus on two ancillary topics:
#1. Why the CEO-ghostwriter relationship might be the most important relationship within a company
#2. Why CEO should always be an integral part of your brand’s content community
The CEO-Ghostwriter Relationship
What sets a brand apart from the competition? It’s not a fancy website or office. It’s not revenue or share price. It’s vision and storytelling. And whether they like it or not, it’s the CEO’s job to set the vision for the company. In this way, the CEO is a huge factor in how a brand is perceived. Try to think of a great company who’s CEO isn’t held in high regard. There might be a few, but they won’t be CEO for long if that’s the case.
A brand cannot be truly authentic without these views expressed. The story must be told, and it must be told at scale. The CEO’s vision should set the tone for all marketing materials that will follow.
Unfortunately, the CEO cannot be a full-time content creator. They have too much shit to do. This is where the ghostwriter comes into play.
This is a person who must be able to extract this story from the CEO through interviews and research, without wasting their time. They must adapt to the CEO’s voice and maintain consistency with every published piece. They must absorb the story to point where they can recite themselves and uncover new angles to keep it fresh. This is not an easy job, nor is it an insignificant one.
If the ghostwriter makes an error in judgement, or produces lackluster content, then a CEO’s credibility goes out the window, along with a brand’s reputation. With this instance in mind, one could argue that it’s the most important relationship within a company. There needs to be real rapport, and this can only be established through semi-regular meetings to brainstorm topics, conduct interviews, review drafts and so forth.
Sadly, the cleaning crew and PeaPod delivery people often get more attention from the CEO than a ghostwriter does. In many cases, the task of ghostwriting for the CEO falls on a different person every time, none of whom are exactly dying for the responsibility. This can include the CMO, in-house marketers, PR agencies and the like. Oddly enough, the ghostwriter is sometimes even unknown to the CEOs themselves!
Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with multiple performing the task, but it becomes problematic without a formal strategy in place. This leads to point number two.
The CEOs Role in Content Creation
The CEO has a big role to play in content creation, the extent to which depends on the respective size of the marketing team. A good rule of thumb:
If the marketing team is small, the CEO should more involved and have several bylines per month.
If the marketing team is medium-sized, they should be less involved but have at least one byline per month.
If the marketing team is huge, the CEO should be publishing books.
In each of these instances, a ghostwriter will need to be involved.
Without them, it’s pretty much impossible for a CEO to contribute content with any sort of consistency. As the team grows — i.e. as you build a content community — it’s easy for the CEO to think they can remove themselves form the content operation. It’s also easy for team to assume that the CEO no longer has time to contribute. These are big mistakes.
While they don’t have time to wordsmith, their views and insights must be conveyed. Instead, what often happens is that a CEO’s name is slapped on a random piece of content without them having given any input whatsoever. This is an even bigger mistake. Let’s all agree to never do this again.
My Two Cents
Over the last two years, I’ve talked to countless founders and CEOs. The stories they share are amazing; how they came up with the idea, how they got started, the trials and tribulations, the wins and losses, and how they view the future of their industries. I’ve learned so much from them, but unfortunately, most of this insight never sees the light of day. It’s never extracted, refined, and published as a piece of content. What a shame! If they only had an amazing ghostwriter to help them.
This event we’re sponsoring with Boston Content is all about helping brands and freelancers work better together. To meet that goal, host Adam Rogers will be leading discussions with all kinds of content marketing pros to uncover the keys to:
Hiring the best freelancers for your content community
Becoming the best possible client for top-level freelancers
Budgeting to create a win-win situation for you and your freelancers
Successfully running your content community
Building relationships is such an important part of any successful content community. That’s why we’re so excited to spend a night getting to know more of you from the Boston Content community.
We hope to see you on December 19. If there’s anything we can help you with in the meantime, please reach out and let us know what you need.
As a former journalist and marketer, I’ve often told people that writing is the easiest easiest part of content creation. There’s also content ideation, edits, formatting, promotion and, of course, research. Lots and lots of research. Over the years, I’ve employed various techniques and used a lot of tools to try and streamline this process, but it’s still comprised an overwhelming portion of the time I’ve spent creating content.
With the advent of artificial intelligence and machine learning, you’d think that someone would create a tool that reduces this process from hours into seconds. Well, today we’re excited to announce that we’re those people. nDash and Frase — an emerging leader in AI for content creation — have teamed up to launch a free tool to help writers and marketers save a ton of time on content-related research.
#1. Enter the title or topic of the content piece you’re working on (e.g. “content marketing”, “data security”) #2. Wait a few seconds and then go check your email #3. Receive an HTML brief containing sources, stats, summaries, links another information to help you write data-rich content
We’ve alpha tested this ourselves and with a select group of nDash writers and customers over the last few weeks, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. We’re excited to know what you think of it.
This is one of several new features and integrations we have in store over the next several months, aimed squarely at content creators.
Questions? Feedback? Let us know in the comment section below.
Content pricing is not something to be taken lightly, as it can easily derail even the most sophisticated and well-planned marketing strategy. Pay too much, and you’ll be unable to achieve what you’ve set out to accomplish. Pay too little, and you’ll have a hard time keeping writers engaged, and quality is almost guaranteed to suffer.
To help you avoid this mistake (and others) we’re going to dive a but deeper into content pricing over the next few weeks, with material that’s been re-purposed from our wildly popular Content Creation Pricing Guide.
In the first installment, we’re going to explain how much your company should expect to pay for high quality, well-researched blog posts. Enjoy!
Most companies have recognized the need for some kind of in-house publication that tells the story of what their company is doing, market trends of interest to customers and even coverage of industry research and events. The best of these blogs rival traditional media in terms of their breadth and quality. Others are still finding their niche and voice.
The difficulty with corporate blogs is that those running or working for a company may not have the time to write posts themselves. Sometimes, companies prefer to have third-party contributors or guest authors from the media or other fields who can give their blogs credibility.
Short posts with company updates or linking back to news releases might be as little as 300 words. If that’s the case — and if the content is based primarily on “found content” online, such as other blog posts, market research studies and so on — they might only cost a few hundred dollars. More in-depth or “long-form” posts might include interviews with one or more subject-matter experts, customers or industry analysts, and should be priced not unlike what a newspaper or magazine might charge for a feature story of 1,500 words or more.
Pricing Factors: Length, turnaround time, research required, subject matter complexity, number of edits
Make sure to think about whether your blog posts are intended to be written in a particular voice. Will the post be by-lined with the name of someone on staff, and will the writer need to talk directly with that person? Or will the post be written with a more “objective” tone, similar to what you might see in an industry publication? Generalist writers may require significant coaching, particularly if your firm is highly specialized, so look for some level of subject matter familiarity.
Want More Tips on Pricing Content?
Here at nDash, we’ve helped thousands of brands build elite writing teams around all sorts of budgets. In the process, we’ve compiled some of our findings into a handy Content Creation Pricing Guide. If you’re worried about over-paying (or under-paying) for content, be sure to download the full report.