I researched a lot of ways to live and enjoy living in Europe, and as a native English speaker and professional writer, I was a natural fit for Teaching English to Foreign Language students.
In my research, I found that English is the preferred language in the business arena especially those that want to expand globally.
More than one-quarter of employees in 26 countries worldwide told an Ipsos poll that their jobs involve dealing with people in other countries. And of those, two-thirds said that English is the language they use most often.
“The most revealing aspect of this survey is how English has emerged as the default language for business around the world,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Global Public Affairs, which conducted the poll for Reuters.
The Harvard Business Review agrees. The need to tightly coordinate tasks and work with customers and partners worldwide has accelerated the move toward English as the official language of business no matter where companies are headquartered.
Working with board-level executives as a marketing director has more than prepared me to teach English to businessmen and women. So, why not use the skills I already have as a native English speaker and professional writer to help businesses expand worldwide by teaching Business English.
Last Spring, I received my TEFL Certificate. And I will be continuing my education as an English teacher, early next year, by adding a Business English Teaching Certification with English Wizards in Krakow, Poland.
My offerings will include many of the services I provide to my stateside clients, including website content creation and blog writing; and public relations and marketing content. However, the main offering will be English Language instruction based on each companies unique needs and goals.
Whether a business needs English instruction for a sales team or customer service department, I can customize the lessons to their exact specifications. The lesson planning is tailored to each company’s business situation.
I’ll be in Krakow ready to start teaching in February of 2021!
Operating my own freelance business has been quite the journey. It’s kept me afloat in hard financial times and enabled me to increase my repertoire of skills!
Freelance Can Be Part-Time or Full-Time
If anyone has noticed, middle management jobs have virtually disappeared over the last two decades. Most jobs offered are either upper management or college grad jobs with very little in between. After my middle-management job was made redundant in an international merger, I started my freelance content writing business.
It has been my experience clients come and go. New business usually comes in on a project basis, so in the startup stage, you must have some other means of support – whether it be a part-time or full-time job or a spouse.
What’s great about a freelance writing business is that you can work your own hours. What’s not so great is that you are working when most people are enjoying their weekends off. Yes, weekends are often required, especially if you work another job. But you can take on as much or as little work as you want. And turning down clients that you know are going to drain your time and energy with very little financial reward is a must. You will learn quickly who those are. And it’s okay to say no!
Probably the worse part of the owning your own business is when clients don’t pay or don’t pay on time. You are not going to get a regular paycheck unless of course, you do have another job to supplement your income. I’ve been relatively lucky with most of my clients paying in a timely manner and I’ve had some stellar clients. But there has been the occasional client that is slow to pay.
My advice is to be as polite as possible while being assertive about on-time payments because, in the end, you do want to get paid and getting ugly never helps. Also, get payment terms upfront and I highly recommend getting that in writing so you can refer to it when needed. But definitely determine the amount you will charge and when you expect to get paid.
Use PayPal For Invoicing!
For invoicing I use PayPal. It’s so simple and easy and you can copy previous invoices, so you don’t have to recreate the wheel every time you invoice a client. And everyone accepts PayPal. Plus, it’s free. Well, they do take a small percentage of the payment received but it’s nominal. And if you don’t get paid, there is no fee. PayPal only charges when you receive payment. There are no other upfront fees.
Freelancing Can Increase Your Skill Set!
Another benefit of my freelance business is that it has forced me to increase my skill set. To stay afloat you must wear many hats and offer a multitude of services. I now offer email blasts and newsletter creation, and it’s actually fun to do. You don’t have to be a graphic designer anymore.
Constant Contact and newsletter templates are the way to go for email campaigns and electronic newsletters. Even Word has thousands of newsletter templates that are available from several providers for free. There may be a slight learning curve, especially if you have no layout experience, but it’s worth learning. I have had several years of Quark and InDesign being a magazine editor, but templates are much easier to learn then they were.
Another tip when a client asks you to do something you haven’t done before, never say no. Just learn how to do it. There are so many apps out there to help you look like a pro. From Social Media to email campaigns, there’s an app that will fit your needs.
Learn New Skills and Apps!
As you know, everything is going Social. Marketing has taken a completely different approach now. And if you are not up on how to promote a client on Social Media, you are going to lag behind those businesses who do.
I highly recommend you learn a Social Media Management System. My favorite is Hootsuite because it has so many benefits to it and it easy to learn and to use. It helps you with keyword selection, scheduling and best times to post and coordinates your posts on several Social Media platforms. And they have free training tutorials.
I also mentioned Constant Contact. Back in the day, you had to know HTML to make your emails graphically pleasing. Not anymore. Just pick a template drop the copy and photos in and Viola! You’re a pro.
Also, get to know Google Analytics and Google AdWords. You will need to know how to look at website analysis for each website in which you are going to write content. These are free if you have a Google account but there are also low-cost apps that also do this for you. But knowing the basics I believe must come first, so you know what you are looking at and how to interpret it.
Also, learning CMS is a must. I know the frontend of WordPress and some of the backend operations. Many small businesses use WordPress as their CMS as well. Working with several clients, I’ve also had experience working in other CMS applications.
And it doesn’t hurt to know some basic HTML either. Even if you aren’t going to use it, it’s a good idea to become familiar with how it works. Believe me, I’ve had to correct some things on a website and knowing the basics of HTML helped a lot.
Probably the easiest way and cheapest way to learn a new application is Udemy. They have video classes on anything you want to learn about. From SEO content writing to photography.
To run your own business, you must stay current on the latest technology and it’s ever-changing. In order to offer your clients, the best and latest services, you must learn new ways of doing things. And don’t shy away from something you have no or very little experience in. You’ll have a hard time growing your business if you only take on assignments that you know how to do. Growth is a good thing for you and your business!
Having been a professional journalist before I became a content writer, I totally agree and why I am posting this blog on my website.
Written content is a crucial part of any content marketing strategy. It’s proven to be an important step in generating leads and transforming them into customers.
Blogging, one of the most popular forms of written content, is highly effective for companies that are doing it right.
According to a Kapost study, brands that released 15 blog posts per month averaged 1,200 new leads during that same timespan. Furthermore, marketers who make blogging a priority are 13 times more likely to see a positive return on their investment.
Perhaps this is why 69% of marketers will be increasing their use of blogging in 2016, according to Social Media Examiner:
There are more journalists looking for work right now because of the layoffs occurring in the field. According to Nieman Lab, in 2014, the number of newsroom jobs dropped 10.4 percent, which was the highest it’s been since the Great Recession occurred. Currently, there are 32,900 full-time journalists at about 1,400 dailies in the United States; in 1990, there were 56,900.
In the short-term, it may seem cost-effective to write your content in-house, or outsource it to marketers without a background in journalism. However, in the long run, your content will be stronger if you invest in solid journalists who have experience and the cache to ensure that your content is top notch.
Not convinced yet? The following are the top 8 reasons why you should stick to hiring journalists for your content marketing team.
1. They’re Formally Trained
If you hire professional journalists who have at least a bachelor’s degree in communications or journalism, they should know all the grammar and style rules. This means that you’re not going to have to spend time spell checking and fixing every misuse of a semi-colon in your content.
Journalists who have spent time at newspapers and reputable publications are also trained to avoid plagiarism and aren’t as likely to get themselves into ethical dilemmas. On the flipside, when you hire writers who don’t have a background in it, they may take chunks of information off the internet without attributing them to the proper sources. If your company gets caught in the crossfire, your reputation and credibility may be damaged.
When looking for writers to hire, go for ones who attended journalism school or a college with a credible journalism and communications program.
2. They’re Inquisitive
Journalists naturally question everything. They want to know the answers to the largest and smallest questions in life. If they’re new to your industry, chances are, they’re going to be asking the same questions that your customers want to know the answers to as well. You’re too close to what your business does in order to come up with questions of your own, but journalists are not. These questions lead to excellent story ideas, which will result in articles, blogs, whitepapers, guides, ebooks, and listicles that will answer said inquiries.
Look for journalists who write stories that answer questions. Their work samples should delve deep into topics but explain them in an easy-to-understand fashion for all readers.
3. They’re Fantastic Storytellers
From hard news to features, great journalists know how to keep the reader involved and tell a compelling story. They’re trained on how to write a solid opening sentence, an explanatory body, and a conclusion that wraps everything up nicely. Journalism is formulaic, but it’s a formula that works and ensures that readers are interested in what the writer has to say from the first sentence all the way down to the last. If you hire marketing writers, they may know how to write sales copy, but they won’t be able to compel readers to scroll to the bottom of a blog post. Journalists will.
You should scoop out journalists who have written a variety of stories, and assess their storytelling skills. Did they answer the who, what, when, where, and how questions in their articles? Did they make every sentence count? Could you get to the end of their stories without getting bored? If the answer is yes to all of these, pursue the writer.
Many companies have produced branded journalism, which is content written by current and ex-journalists. The result has been phenomenal for some brands, which are now newsrooms in their own right.
For example, there’s Dell’s Power More, formerly known as Tech Page One, which features thought-provoking interviews with technology leaders, analysis of the tech industry and topics, and forward-thinking pieces about the Internet of Things.
Former journalists write much of the compelling content. The blog has earned plenty of media coverage and sites like Venture Beach and the Smithsonian have redistributed their content. The former heads of Tech Page One, Nicole Smith and Stephanie Losee, worked at Fortune, PC Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and Newsday, so they obviously understand how branded content can interact with the broader media.
4. They Write From A Neutral, Not Salesy, Standpoint
While it’s appropriate for your sales copy and call to action to drive your sales, your written content needs to be neutral. Content marketing needs to inform first, so you need to start from a place of producing content simply for your readers, and not solely getting them to purchase from you. If your blog posts, white papers, and guides seem like ads, your audience is not going to trust you or return to your brand for information.
Journalists are trained not to inject their own personal opinions into their work or be biased at all unless they’re personal essayists or columnists. If they’ve written straight up hard news, they won’t display a partiality towards their subject. Instead, they’ll present the information as-is and let the readers decide what to think.
Unless your brand is focused on opinion pieces, go for journalists who have crafted hard news items and don’t use “I” in their work.
5. They’re Excellent At In-Depth Research and Interviews
To answer the questions they’re asking, journalists who have worked for publications (and not just blogs) will turn to experts rather than Google. While many websites create the same content over and over again based off similar information they find on the search engine, journalists will make phone calls and interview sources, and dig deep to locate new information. They are natural investigators, and won’t hesitate to put themselves out there for the benefit of your content.
Some people may call themselves journalists on LinkedIn, but make sure that the ones you’re hiring have a background in writing for real news websites, magazines, and papers, and ask if they are comfortable interviewing sources.
Another site that featured branded journalism at its finest is CMO.com, which was created by Adobe.
It’s run by business journalist Tim Moran from CMP Media/United Business Media, and receives more than 330,000 page views per month. The journalists producing these stories reach out to influencers and the top individuals in the industry to come up with original content that can’t be found elsewhere. One such piece is “Social Selling Is As Much About Marketing As It Is About Sales” by Giselle Abramovich-Tsirulnik, senior and strategic editor and a former Digiday and Source Media writer.
6. They’re Deadline Driven
Your brand most likely uses an editorial calendar with real deadlines that content must be turned in by. Journalists who have been in the trenches of a real newsroom are used to working on tight deadlines. They’ve scrambled to put together pieces when breaking news hits, and they’re well prepared to meet any due dates that you request. If you hire marketers or use people on your team, they might not grasp the concept of deadlines and put their other work, like promotion, writing sales copy, and updating social media pages, ahead of content creation.
Hiring journalists who have newsroom experience on their resumes is going to almost guarantee that you won’t have to worry about them missing deadlines.
7. They Have Influence
Journalists who write with clarity and address the tough issues are seen as some of the most influential individuals in our society. They provoke their readers to think deeply about certain topics, and question everything we know. They constantly seek truth, and people want to be part of that journey.
Just look at Ezra Klein, the founder of Vox and a former policy reporter for the Washington Post. He has more than a million Twitter followers and fans. On a wider scale, a coalition of about 400 investigative journalists broke the news regarding the Panama Papers. This massive story was, in 2016, leaked to a newspaper and then the details were coordinated by journalists around the world, proving that they’re still invaluable to society.
When you hire journalists as opposed to marketers, you’re going to spark conversation about your company. Plus, journalists with their own followings from their work in newspapers and traditional media outlets will likely promote your content to their own audience and fanbase. This will result in more clicks on your content, and increased revenue generated for your company.
Find journalists who are active on social media and garner a lot of clicks, shares, and comments on their pieces. Look for the ones who wake people up and get their audiences talking.
8. They’re Increasingly Freelance
Right now, many journalists face layoffs or aren’t receiving as much work as they used to from the traditional media. They crave stimulation, and the chance to tell fantastic stories as often as they once did. They’re excited about writing, even if it’s for brands. In the past, it might have been an ethical dilemma, but nowadays the paradigm has shifted. When brands are one of the rare outlets funding this type of work, journalists change their own perceptions about content marketing in order to keep doing what they love. As long as you don’t ask them to write in a salesy voice or craft call to actions, they’ll be eager to jump on board with your brand.
Seek out journalists who went freelance, because they’re the ones who might have the time to write for your brand. If they’re still full-time employees at publications, you’re not going to be as high up on their priority list.
One of my pet peeves about company blogs is that they really aren’t blogs. Corporations make the mistake of using blogs as sales tools or announcing company news, which I believe is a huge mistake. When blogs are used properly, they can actually be the best lead generator you have in your online arsenal.
Blogs are supposed to inform, entertain or educate your target or secondary target audience. It is not to be used as an opportunity to directly sell your services or product. No one wants to read about how great your product or service is in a blog. They should get that from the content on your website.
Do you want to increase traffic? Do you want to decrease your bounce rate? Do you want your blogs shared by your clients? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you must have a blog that interests your audience in some way. It either imparts information they want to know, answers a question to a problem they may have or entertains them. Blogs have to have some type of take away for your intended audience to keep them on your site and interested.
A blog is not a press release. Blogs are not your company getting news coverage. Blogs aren’t about launching a new product. They can mention these things, but the main topic isn’t about selling. It’s about informing.
And why are blogs so important if it’s not really a sales tool. Blogs don’t directly generate sales, but it can drive traffic to your site, and that is its intended purpose. Increased traffic can turn surfers into buyers.
A great blog can show that your company genuinely cares about their customers by offering informative articles. It also shows your company knows the market and this builds trust for your product or service.
Let’s say your company sells teas imported from around the world. Most companies would say their blog should be about how great their teas are or how they just opened a new import market in India. That type of information is a “press release” or on your company’s “in the news” page if a media outlet has covered the story. It is not a topic for a blog.
A tea blog would be about the history of tea, or the history of tea used for medicinal purposes, great tea infusers, what country exports the most teas, different types of teas and what each type of tea may offer the tea connoisseur. These types of informative blogs show your clients or prospective clients that you know the tea business and it may help them select the types of teas they want to order or how to use the tea once they do order from you.
The hidden gem of blogs is that blogs can pull in customers who are not looking to purchase tea but are just wanting to find out more about tea. And then when they land on your site, they may indeed become a customer. That’s your secondary target audience.
Also, another huge benefit of a great blog is that they are often shared with other users on Social Media, emailed or saved for future reference. You will get brand recognition and increased traffic to a whole new audience that hadn’t even intended to visit your website.
Launching a blog isn’t an afterthought. It’s a well-thought-out strategy. It’s about selecting topics that have an impact on your target and secondary target audience. And the bottom line is that blogs can generate traffic you might not otherwise get from your website copy. Make your blog count!
Sure, SEO is still an important part of your overall digital marketing strategy as it helps to drive traffic to your website. But getting traffic to your site is only half the battle. You’ve got to have quality targeted content that speaks directly to the needs or wants of your ideal customer.
It comes down to what do you want your visitors to feel, to do, or to think. To get your customer to take action, you have to know them. What motivates them? What are their online activities as well as their offline activities? In other words, you’ve got to build an ideal customer avatar and write to that audience.
If you aren’t speaking to your target audience, no amount of SEO is going to get them to stay on your site. Your bounce rate is an indicator that your content is or isn’t hitting its target. If they only stay on your site for a few seconds and leave, your content simply doesn’t speak to your ideal customer avatar.
For instance, right now, I am writing copy for a carpet cleaner who wants to increase its visibility online to customers who need rug cleaning. They haven’t established themselves yet as rug cleaners. They barely mention rug cleaning on their site.
So, after having done extensive research on rugs, the history of rugs, the types of rugs, piles, weaves and rug materials, I also researched who primarily purchases rugs that require professional cleaning. Keeping in mind that my ideal customer avatar is well-to-do, educated and knows something about interior design or art, I am targeting my copy to help them select a rug that fits their lifestyle as well as how to maintain and clean each rug type.
Your copy has to establish your business as an expert not just in your services but the services that led up to your service or product. And in this example in order to increase rug cleaning services, the business must show they know something about the different materials, weaves and uses for those rugs as well as how to clean them.
If a customer has an antique rug worth thousands of dollars and they need it cleaned, you want them to know that their investment will be safe in your hands. You want them to feel “safe and confident” that you know rugs and how to clean them.
So we created an entire new webpage for the client reaching its target audience of affluent rug owners who want to know more about rugs and rug cleaning. We are also writing a weekly blog on rug purchasing and cleaning to help to establish their business as the rug cleaning experts in their local area.
I didn’t start out as a web content writer. I began my writing career as a journalist and magazine editor, where my writing purposely had to inform, entertain or impart some benefit to my readers. Content writing does the same but goes one step further it has to have a call to action, whether that action is a feeling, a phone call or a purchase.