Connecting via social media is a great way to grow you blog. Many don’t utilize social media and in my opinion that is a mistake. Take a few minutes and research the effectiveness of social media! Social media benefits your blog in several ways: Adds legitimacy to your page in the eyes of search […]
One of the largest and most competitive, the travel industry requires an abundance of quality content to satisfy the huge number of online platforms and magazines, which can be lucrative for the freelancer.
I love to travel. City breaks, beach holidays, adventurous tours, I love them all and I’m lucky to have travelled all over the world. Give me a packed suitcase, a box of Imodium, my passport and I’m Harriet the happy hamster.
People who actually travel the world all expenses paid are scarce, however, so how can freelance writers take advantage of this massive opportunity?
The first myth I need to dispel is the fact that you have to be a carbon copy of Alan Wicker to be a great travel writer. Yes, it helps if you’re familiar with the basics – airports, packing, weather etc – and obviously, if you’re writing a guidebook or airline review, a knowledge of the place or flight provider is preferable, but there are lots of opportunities out there that don’t require in-depth awareness. What they do require, though, is thorough research.
There are multiple thousands of hotels around the world. Most have websites, and/or a short description on online travel agency sites. This particular content deals with facts. You don’t need to have spent last year’s summer getaway at said residence, you just have to write how many rooms it has, how beautiful the gardens are, restaurant choices, how far it is from the airport/local attractions. Basically, a product description.
How to articles and listicles are another way to cash in on this marketplace.
- Ten ways to occupy your children if your flight is delayed
- Ten animals you are likely to see in India
- Five essential beach bag items
- Hangover cures! How to survive Ibiza nightlife
All these examples can be written without in-depth travel nous. It could be a flight to anywhere, you can find information about India on the internet, a beach is a beach and hangovers, well, they’re rife all over the world. Most of the travel comparison sites have blogs requiring SEO-rich content with travel tips and articles that don’t require the writer to have been around the world in eighty days.
Another trick is applying an experience you’ve had from one destination to another. A horse and carriage ride in Paris is exactly the same as a horse and carriage ride in Krakow (albeit a lot more expensive). Yes, the sights are different, but the feelings and emotions are the same. You understand the concept and can tailor the facts to your particular experience. Riding a camel in Tunisia is much the same as riding a camel in Morocco or Egypt. The scenery changes, but there are enough reviews out there that you can improvise.
Food and drink are another great way to write about travel, while not actually leaving your own country. Culinary delights from all over the world are now easily obtained in this country and, with some complimentary online research, it’s relatively easy to delve into the surrounding cultural, historical details of particular items. Of course, I know local delicacies taste better when in situ, and I’m not saying you can write about Thai street food without living the experience, but you could, however, write about:
- The History of the Saffron Trail
- The Persian Pistachio
- Ten Italian Fish Recipes
Finally, all travel writing is not about exotic locations. That old adage, ‘write about what you know’ can stand you in good stead here. The first travel article I had published was about my hometown and this is a brilliant place to start for the novice travel writer. What are the points of interest in your town/city, the best restaurants, museums etc? Is there an event that takes place there, and how often? Does the location have a nearby theme park, beach, or a country walk? The UK tourism industry is vast and requires quality content by freelance writers.
So, instead of packing your suitcase to make a living writing about the travel industry, pack your pen, laptop and imagination. Perhaps you can’t write an account of a trip down the Amazon, but writing about the top fish and chip shops in Scarborough can earn you just as much cash.
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Us Brits are barking mad about our furry friends, with over 24% of us owning a dog closely followed by 17% being ‘owned by a feline’. Therefore, it’s no surprise the market for freelance writing in the pet industry is huge. New products are being launched every day and pet lovers are constantly looking for ways to improve the lives of their beloved furbabies.
The bonus, for a freelancer and pet owner like myself, is that it’s enjoyable writing about something you love and usually doesn’t involve too much research. Here are some tips if you’d like to write for one of the largest and most profitable markets out there:
Firstly, unless you have a dog like Marley or a moggy who’s changed your life similar to Street Cat Bob, nobody wants to hear about the antics of your pets in great detail, especially if – as a lot of people tend to do on Social Media – you give them language skills and weird accents. Dogs having a ‘wuffly barkday’ and cats being ‘purrfectly groomed’ are a big no-no! If you really feel the need to turn your pet into a celebrity, stick to YouTube or Instagram. By all means, write about your experiences with a health problem, training tip or new product, but from your point of view, not Fido’s.
There are always new and innovative products for pets, so check out the upcoming trends. For example, this year has seen an increase in organic, and handmade treats and breed-specific diet foods. The popularity of teacup breeds has seen an increase in the sale of dog clothes and trendy designer bags for transport. All these products need descriptions, reviews, web content and blogs to make them successful in a competitive market.
Training is something every responsible dog owner should do. You don’t have to be Cesar Milan to write about it. Write about your own experiences or interview a local rescue centre employee to get their tips. There is a world of information on the net – try writing from a different angle. Consider different environments, seasonal aspects or situations that require special training:
- ‘Training tips that could save your dog’s life in the city’;
- ‘Dog Etiquette at the beach’; and
- ‘How to train a Gun Dog’
There are also options here to write about the various methods of horse training for different sports – polo, dressage etc.
Healthcare is one of the most popular searches about pets, and, as mentioned, you don’t have to be an expert to produce work on a vast range of topics on every pet imaginable. From how to check a horse’s hooves, to why snakes shed their skin. Breed, or species-specific health issues, are always popular. Once again, try to approach things from a different angle in order to make your articles or blog posts stand out from the crowd.
Most owners have a profound interest in providing the best basic care for their pets, whether it’s how to clip your cockatoo’s claws without getting injured, how to build a playground for guinea pigs or how your pony benefits from a massage. Articles of this kind are unique – the writer explains what has worked for them. These are the tips that everyone is looking for to enhance the pet owner experience.
People love to spend time with their animals. Writing about activities and pet-friendly holidays can be a great income booster. Once again, try to mix it up, don’t just concentrate on local agility classes or cat-friendly hotels. What about, ‘How to Teach your Dog to Surf’, ‘Dog Dancing Classes’, ‘Rabbit Racing’ or ‘Yoga with Cats‘? (I kid you not!)
You can also integrate writing about equipment into this one. For instance, ‘The Top Ten Dog Sledding Harnesses’ or ‘Five Essential Items of Dog Equipment to take on your Camping Trip’.
In contradiction to my earlier comment, about nobody wanting to read the day-to-day antics of Floppy the rabbit or Fifi, the neurotic poodle. This changes when an exceptional event occurs or the human/pet relationship is extra special. There are numerous heroic pets that have a story to tell, working as military or search and rescue dogs. There are even ‘Therapy pigs and ferrets‘. (Once again, I know, unbelievable … right?)
Pets have amazing senses and can often recognise illness early and prevent seizures, actually saving lives. These stories are the ones readers are interested in.
Whatever you choose, be it a breed profile or the story of a puppy adopted by a lion, the possibilities are endless. You can overlap the topics, write seasonal articles or interview experts. Not only will you find the writing enjoyable, but, because we all love our pets, you can be sure that someone out there wants to read it.
© Donna Hepburn 2016
You’ve made the decision, for whatever reason, that you want to make a living as a freelance writer. But how do you get that perfect gig and start to see money rolling in? It can be intimidating when you realise just how many writers – both good and bad – are in competition with you. Here are some tips to help you get started and avoid the pitfalls.
Mass Platforms. Inevitably, you will have checked them out. The big players, thousands of jobs and even more bidding on the projects advertised. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve sent proposals for projects on these sites, which have developed into regular work, but they’re few and far between.
As a newbie, you can spend half your day trawling through the ads – not making money – a lot of which are extremely vague. Don’t! If you must use them, only apply for jobs with a detailed brief. Clients usually want you to check out their website/blog to attract writers who can provide exactly what they’re looking for. “I need a Writer,” is a definite No No. Not only will you waste time applying, they will usually accept the lowest bid and a £5 article is never going to be quality work. ‘Paying peanuts gets you monkeys.’ Jargon, cliché, an old saying, yes. But true! Only apply for projects that you are perfect for, be it travel, lifestyle, legal. You can then show your skill, writing for that particular niche.
Develop a Niche. Niche markets are a great way to start. Not only are you writing about something you know about (always a help), but writing this way keeps you motivated and enables you to produce articles at a much faster rate. Who isn’t happy writing about something they enjoy? You usually don’t need to do as much research and you won’t get bored. Joining industry associations and forums are a great way to find work like this. Social Media is also a useful tool as you can follow companies who are in the niches you prefer.
Stand out from the Crowd. You’ve found the perfect job ad, but so have hundreds of others. How do you make the potential client want to work with you? It’s important to check out their style. Writers who apply for jobs using the same cover letter template are boring. Inject your personality into the pitch. Writing in the company’s style immediately makes you stand out and shows you have bothered to look at their online presence. This is your one and only chance to impress, so sell yourself, as well as the knowledge and passion you have for the subject matter (including examples of similar work) if you have them.
Be Professional. You’ve had a bid accepted, now’s the time to get a regular customer or a least, a glowing testimonial.
Reply to any communications promptly. Waiting days for you to get back in touch will not create a professional image.
Think about the questions you need to ask about the brief and send them in one email, not 26. Busy people don’t have time to spoon-feed you with information. It can be helpful to create a template for this, including word count, style, keywords etc. I also have a ‘looking to the future box’ so I can contact individuals/companies down the line with additional services.
Be clear on your rates from the beginning. If you are promoting a special offer, make it clear further work will be more expensive but don’t increase your prices because you think you’re on to a good thing. Finally, always produce your work to the deadline. Clients are not interested that your friend called round for coffee or your cat is sick. If you promise work for a particular time or date, make sure you deliver!
If you have a number of clients, keeping track of work is vital. “Oh, I forgot!” “Sorry, how many words was it?” will not win friends and influence people. Keeping track of clients also builds a database that you can frequent from time to time to see if they have more work.
Prices. It’s tempting when you see people offering cut-price work to try and compete. This makes you resemble a bargain basement outfit. Be confident in your ability to provide thoroughly researched and quality content. The client is working with a professional and that fact should be reflected in your rates. On the other hand, don’t be greedy, start adding extras and talking about increased prices before you have built a relationship with the client and provided them with the quality piece you have been commissioned to.
In conclusion, fishing in a small pond is more likely to hook a decent catch. After that, it’s up to you to provide reliable, engaging content, hopefully developing a sound relationship that ensures future work.
© Donna Hepburn 2016
As a freelancer, I get paid for my time. Therefore, it makes sense to use that time efficiently. Whether I am writing an article for a client who has given me the topic or writing one on spec, I don’t want to spend hours penning thousands of words. With a business to run, along with daily life, I try to keep an article or blog post to under 30 minutes including research. There’s no reason to sacrifice quality either. Following these tips will ensure you produce excellent content in as brief time as possible.
- Keep it short
Around 500 words is best. There are millions of articles and blog posts on the Internet and no matter how interesting the subject, it’s best to keep it brief. I recently wrote a 1,500-word piece for a client about Mountain Bike Tyres and believe me, even the most dedicated cyclist would have struggled to reach the end. I certainly struggled writing it. I mean, how much engaging content is there about a sphere of rubber? Keeping an article short and informative encourages a reader to read and also increases the chances of a swift call to action.
- Bullet Points & Lists
I love a list and, it’s been psychologically proven that most of us do, so use this to your advantage. Not only are they easier for the reader’s eye to follow but they are much simpler to write as you don’t have to connect one idea to the next. This type of article is especially good as a sales technique, as we feel comforted buying something we know is approved by others so are more likely to purchase.
- Limit your research
When I first started this writing malarkey, I would spend hours trawling the Internet trying to find relevant information on the subject matter. By the time I started writing, I had forgotten most of it. Give yourself a time limit and stick to it. It is tempting just to rewrite what is already out there, so I collect all the information I need in a word document, work on the structure of ideas, then close the document and write the piece in my own words.
- Idea List
This is a great method if you write your own articles to submit to websites and magazines. Not only do I keep a list of whatever idea pops to mind, but I also spend five minutes researching and keep the information with the idea for later. When I’m pushed for time, I have the ideas to hand with no need for research and can churn out a quality article in around 15-20 minutes.
- Don’t Force It
You have an idea or a given subject matter and can’t find the right information or the words just won’t come. We’ve all been there – right? Leave it, make a cup of coffee, go for a walk, have a relaxing bath, work on something else. Let your head do the work instead of your fingers. Thinking about how to write something will give you different approaches and ideas making it much easier when you come back to it.
Following these tips will save you time without sacrificing content. You will work more efficiently and free up time, which every freelancer knows is precious.
PS I wrote this post in around 15 mins.
© Donna Hepburn 2016