2014 in review – My First Year Blogging!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 37 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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The 4 Major Trials of Being a Freelance Writer

I live in Kansas City, MO. Our big theme park is called Worlds of Fun. The city and suburbs are buzzing about a new ride the park bought – Steel Hawk. Not because everyone is clamoring to ride it, however. Apparently the park bought the ride really cheap from another theme park because of its issues and multiple deaths associated with it. Some daredevils are willing to risk life and limb to ride it and prove how brave they are. Most are upset the park chose to buy a ride that is unpredictable and unsafe.

That is what being a freelance writer is like. You are willing to risk everything to get the benefits of freelance writing and only truly understand the danger once you are on the ride. The rest of the world doesn’t get why you would ever want to jump on that ride without any security.

I became a freelance writer for a number of reasons. I majored in English with the hopes of having more open career options and to learn the craft of writing as a skill. Employers didn’t see it that way and finding a job in my field where I live proved to be impossible. I wanted to write for a living in some capacity, but at the time no one was hiring writer straight out of college with no field work experience. So, after many different career changes, useless further education, and times of complete poverty, I started to get into freelance writing. It took a year to find a modicum of full-time success and even then work is still an insane roller coaster.

Starting Out

Via Pixabay kropekk_pl

Via Pixabay kropekk_pl

Choosing to become a freelance writer is not easy. You start off spending hours joining job search websites, building profiles, creating websites, working on blogs, pulling together some semblance of a portfolio, and more. After you have started getting jobs (ever so slowly while the bills pile around you), life as a freelance writer only gets harder and crazier.

Striving for Security

Via Pixabay PublicDomainPictures

Via Pixabay PublicDomainPictures

It is very difficult to find clients that stick with you, no matter how great your writing is or how much they love your work. Many of my past clients have posted they need blogs every week only to slowly reduce that number to zero in favor of cheaper writers or different business goals. The only clients I have kept long term are not even related to article or blog writing. I work as a Content Manager, Social Media Manager, and Marketing Strategist for my long term clients and rarely get the opportunity to write anymore. Finding clients that will guarantee payment is extraordinarily difficult, which I outline in my next point.

Working with Unpredictable and Unclear Clients

Via Flickr db Photography  |Demi-Brooke

Via Flickr db Photography |Demi-Brooke

I cannot even tell you how many clients I have gained in the past that fell in love with me and said they wanted more more more of my time. Inevitably, I get excited about their projects and their enthusiasm, put prospects on the back burner, and commit all of my time to them only to be disappointed. I have reserved my time to receive much less work than promised and also have clocked many hours only to never receive payment. This is one of the terrors of being a freelance writer and sadly all too common.

Unclear clients are another huge peril in this career choice. I recently lost a huge client who taught me so much and I really loved working with due to communication barriers. I would give my available times to work only to not receive work or receive panicked messages hours before I was available about why I wasn’t around. I was thrown into an extremely complicated process with zero training and then constantly drawn into angry conference calls about things I did wrong according to the company’s policies. I was also given 4-8 hour tasks without ever being given a due date, only to be messaged angrily an hour after receiving the assignment why it was not complete yet and how I could never accomplish a due date.

The point – even when some opportunities seem spectacular, a huge growth opportunity, and a blessing for your finances, most opportunities are not what they seem. I am trying to come up with a better screening process, but have yet to find something that works. In this field, however, it is impossible to be both cautious and an entrepreneur.

Battling the Worst Timing

Via Pixabay Collage Arts

Via Pixabay Collage Arts

It seems no matter what, I can never get my timing right. And I don’t mean I can’t organize and get all my work done, that part is easy. I mean there are weeks where I have a packed due date list and then I have people headhunting me and reaching out for my services. I often say, “I don’t have time,” and don’t spend as much time with these prospective clients so I gain their business. Then, a week or two later, my clients hold their work or are done with my services and suddenly I have no income and no prospective clients. This causes me to go back to square one and the deadly cycle repeats itself.

This job is not for the faint of heart or those who need financial security. There are so many hurdles and danger to this career choice. But what keeps us freelance writers going is passion for the job. We miss out on having coworkers, grabbing drinks after work, dressing up cute everyday (for my female writers!), financial security, healthcare, a great retirement plan, and even more. But we get to do something we love every single day and that is what is important.

Under Construction

Sorry everyone! The blog is under construction until further notice. With my busier schedule and great suggestions from fellow bloggers, I am revamping the website. Stay tuned for details (and don’t worry, there will still be TONS of social media marketing advice when I am back online!).

In the meantime, talk to me about social media on Twitter! I can answer questions or discuss developments with you in real time!

Via Flickr by aurélien

Via Flickr by aurélien

In Need of Advice from Twitter Followers

Okay, not a Twitter Tuesday marketing advice post for my readers. Instead, this is a post where I need advice from my Twitter friends and lovely readers.

The title of this blog is Everyday Social Media Marketing. The goal was to post one blog post a day with certain days about specific platforms. I wanted to give entrepreneurs and small businesses a great source for well rounded social media marketing advice. I wanted to be like Social Media Today, but with a real person who has direct experience marketing giving advice.

So far I have been very successful at my goal and post content. This weekend I did miss Saturday and Sunday because things got crazy. I recently signed with a huge new client and then was headhunted by Elance to be apart of a huge project with nearly full time work. These opportunities are very exciting for me, but it means I have little to no time to give marketing advice.

I love helping out businesses and speaking with fellow social media experts about trends and use of platforms. However, I don’t think I will have time to write a post for every day. So I turn to you! Everyday Social Media Marketing can also mean every day advice, so I ask these questions:

  1. Should I rename Everyday Social Media Marketing? If so, what should I name it?
  2. How often should I post?
  3. What kinds of posts do you most want to see?

I feel like I have to change the entire point of the blog and it makes me sad. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!

My Controversial Opinion on The Weather Channel’s Social Media Fail

One of my social media buddies Jessica Wooldridge Tweeted me and a few other gurus our opinion on The Weather Channel’s social media fail moment. I read what happened and found I had way more opinions than could fit in 140 characters. I am writing a blog post giving my opinion as a social media marketer representing multiple companies on how The Weather Channel employee handled the situation. Hopefully my opinion can be a learning opportunity for businesses trying to learn the ways of Twitter.

Fort Worth City Council Member Joel Burns Tweeted a simple complaint to The Weather Channel, asking them to change the photo on the app. When he opened the weather for his city, the app displayed a photo of Dallas instead of Fort Worth. He wanted to see his city, not Dallas.

wct10

The Weather Channel did not respond after his Tweet sent at 7:05 AM. Burns Tweeted again at 7:40, just 35 minutes later, saying:

weather channel twitter

Okay, I get it. The Weather Channel is not perfect. I especially hate the update to their app that happened about a year ago. The interface is sensitive and poorly laid out and it can be a pain to find weather in a different city. However, Burns only waited 35 minutes before deleting the app.

Yes, you need to respond to complaints as a company. Yes, you need to do it in a timely manner. But a timely manner means within a couple hours, not 35 minutes. For all you know, the social media team was in a weekly strategy meeting since it was Monday.

Not only that, but Burns was outright rude about the “poor customer service.” He is the same as a customer in a restaurant who asks the waitress for more napkins on a busy Friday night and then is infuriated when they are not brought back in under five minutes, nixing her tip. His wording and vengeful tone was extremely rude and unprofessional. Which led to a frustrated social media team at The Weather Channel to respond:

weather channel twitter 2

 

Alright. Here we go.

The Weather Channel responded a minute later. This could mean they were on the whole time and ignoring Burns. Or it could mean they just started looking through their Tweets and were responding to things when his Tweet caught their eye and they became frustrated. Regardless, they responded at the wrong time with the wrong thing.

Companies ALWAYS need to be the bigger person when confronted with complaints and unruly customers. The same goes for this interaction between Burns and The Weather Channel. They should have apologized without the sarcastic comment. It was unprofessional and inappropriate.

However, what Burns said was also unprofessional and inappropriate. He WAS bullying. It doesn’t matter that he was bullying a corporation and not a person. It is still bullying. As a political figure, that is terrifying. People quickly rallied behind Burns, scorning The Weather Channel and how horrible they were to BUrns.

wct3wct8 wct7 wct6 wct5 wct4

 

The Weather Channel should not have responded that way. But in this incident, no one is recognizing that Burns was unprofessional, inappropriate, and yes bullying. All things you do NOT want in a city council member. The Weather Channel would have been the winner in this incident if they had responded apologetically and been the bigger person while RT what Burns said. This would highlight how poorly Burns behaved and The Weather Channel would have been a great social media example.

wvt9

The person who Tweeted the sarcasm should not be fired. That person should be reprimanded and The Weather Channel should have protocols in place for future incidents. But everyone is ignoring the bad behavior of Burns on Twitter. This is being overshadowed by The Weather Channel’s fail. It needs to be discussed.

Vine – The Tweet of the Video Marketing Platform

Vine is quickly rising in popularity for businesses. The six second video allowance is difficult, but many businesses are unleashing their creativity to make amazing and effective marketing content in a short period of time. Since it is a new platform, many businesses don’t know what to make of it. I thought I would try to explain it for those who are confused.

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Compare it like this – you can write a long blog post, then pull a sentence and Tweet about it. This is essentially a Vine. Sure, you can make a longer YouTube video to make your point, or you can make a Vine that highlights the points you want to make in the video. This highlight reel is more likely to be watched by your followers as well. After all, who doesn’t have six seconds to watch a video, no matter what its about?

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Vine videos are absolutely supplemental marketing. Just like you can’t only have a Facebook page, you should never only have a Vine account and that’s it. Vine videos are meant to be shared on your different platforms and supplement other marketing messages. So, if you are trying to promote a new product, you can create a six second video highlighting how cool the product is to get your followers engaged.

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A great example of using Vine correctly is supplied by Molson Canadian 67. They are suppliers of a premium light beer only available in Canada. They took the six second platform and created a campaign called #mixin6. They show followers how to make cocktails out of their beer in only six seconds. In the description of the video and on all platforms they share the video on, they include the recipe. Not only are they highlighting their product, they are also providing useful and entertaining content to followers, engaging them with the brand completely.

Still have questions about Vine? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @HS_Writing!

The Best Ways to Use Flickr for Marketing

Photos are extremely prevalent in social media marketing. People engage more with photos and they are the most commonly shared kind of content on the internet. Flickr is a perfect platform to upload and share stock photos and marketing photos and can be easily incorporated into your marketing strategy.

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Flickr is a very useful photo platform. It is perfect to upload images that you are going to embed in blog posts, articles, or press releases. When you brand your Flickr account the same way you brand your website, blog, and other social media platforms, you can greatly increase your exposure. Uploading high quality, professional images for Creative Commons use can also increase exposure when people attribute credit to your account. You have to optimize your Flickr profile before seeing results.

  • Make your profile name the company’s name or the company’s URL
  • Mention your location, a brief bio of your company, and any other information a potential consumer needs to know
  • Upload a relevant avatar, ideally your company logo

Flickr allows you to achieve marketing goals and objectives, such as:

  • Product marketing
  • Application use
  • Capabilities presentations
  • Highlighting data and metrics
  • Customer support
  • Employee recruitment

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There are many benefits Flickr offers for photo uploading and sharing, such as organization, access, social sharing, and portability.

Organization

Flickr has many cool options for the photos you upload. You can create photo sets or galleries out of your uploads, along with many other organizational benefits. It is a great database resource library for your stock photos that you can refer to for future marketing projects.

Access

Flickr is a database to compile photos for web pages, blog posts, Facebook posts, presentations, or anything to do with your business strategy. You can have all employees get a Flickr account so they have access to your public image library. They can access these photos at work, at home, or when traveling for business.

Social Sharing

Flickr is the perfect photo sharing platform because they can be shared on all aspects of the internet. Other kinds of photo sharing limit you to certain platforms while Flickr does not. In order to be able to share it, enable as many options as your legal department will allow. You can set who can download images, share photos, add to a photo, and blog photos.

Adding your images to a gallery will allow members to build a database of photos or videos around a theme. On Flickr, you can join groups to increase exposure and increase the chance your images will be found. Off Flickr, you can choose the image size and copy the image URL to embed onto any kind of content.

Portability

It is very easy to share the photos across the internet once you upload them to Facebook. You can either make your all of your photos public, which is recommended for higher visibility, or you can log into your account to copy image URLs. Flickr photos can be used across more platforms than any other kind of social sharing website, including:

  • Blog posts
  • Blog platforms like WordPress and Blogger
  • Google Gadgets
  • Articles
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Squidoo
  • And more!

Business will benefit the most from investing in a Pro Flickr account if they are serious about building a marketing campaign with Flickr as their base.

What is Holding You Back from Making Money Online?

Many people dream of a living where they can stay home and earn money online. Some want to do this because they think it is easy, but it is not. It takes a lot of work to make money online from home. This difficulty is what is holding you back, but there are ways you can overcome it.

Via Flickr Kiran Foster

Via Flickr Kiran Foster

Have self-confidence

When you talk about possibly starting a career working from home, everyone is going to talk you out of it or devalue it. They say it is a silly dream and it is too risky. No one is going to give you permission to start this career. You need to have the confidence to throw yourself into it and make it work. Then you can show everyone who doubted you how making money online is possible. It is going to take a lot of work.

Via Flickr Abhijit Bhaduri

Via Flickr Abhijit Bhaduri

Be able to sell yourself

This means a number of things. First, charge what your skills are worth. This means you need to have confidence that you can pull off a project for a client. Do not charge a lower amount to try to get more clients. It is better to charge what you are actually worth so you can work with clients who respect your talents. You also need to be able to ask for the sale, even if you risk upsetting some clients. Act like an authority on the subjects you know about. Do not sell yourself short.

Via Flickr clive darra

Via Flickr clive darra

Make a plan every day

When you go to work at a 9-5 job, you usually have a set of tasks that are assigned to you each day. At home, there is usually a mass amount of work from different clients you have to get done. It takes a lot of organization. At the beginning of the work week, plan out everything you need to do by Friday. Also make sure to leave room in case last minute assignments come up.

Also at the end of every day when your work is done, make a To-Do list for the next day. You can break it down by morning and afternoon to make goal setting easier to achieve, or just set a list of tasks for the day. Know where your priorities are and always complete everything on your list.

Via Flickr Mark Hunter

Via Flickr Mark Hunter

Focus

In order to work from home, you need to have the ability to focus. There will be a lot of distractions, such as chores you need to do, family members trying to disrupt you, and pets clawing for attention. There will also be an abundance of social media calling your name as you do research or work online, along with email and other distracting things on your computer.

You need to ignore all of these distractions and focus on the work at hand. Make it clear to your family that you are “not home” from this hour to this hour. Consider going to a public place to work that has free Wi-Fi. This will pull you away from many distractions at home, like chores and family. If social media severely distracts you, consider getting a social media blocking software, like Anti-Social. It will prohibit you from accessing these sites while at work.

Via Flickr Joe Loong

Via Flickr Joe Loong

Take your new career seriously

Working online to make money is not a hobby. It takes a lot of dedication, networking, sales skills, and overtime hours. This is not a hobby and do not let anyone tell you it is. Just because you are working from home does not mean that you are sitting around watching TV and playing video games. You are going to work longer hours than full time career people since you need to get your work done by the deadlines. Realize there is a lot you are going to sacrifice, but it is worth it to do your dream job of working online.