All Posts by Madeleine

About the Author

Feb 22

Marketing Content Writer Must-Haves

By Madeleine | Blog , Uncategorized

In the age of the Internet, it is becoming increasingly important for businesses to turn to online written content in order to engage with and educate their customers. Therefore, there is huge demand for good marketing content writers. Whether you are one of the thousands of freelance writers looking to expand their resume or a business looking to expand your web presence or on social media, it is important to understand just what makes a good marketing content writer.

What is Content Marketing?

Content writing/marketing can be summed up as a content marketing strategy that focuses on creating and distributing content that is specific and consistent in order to appeal to a target audience and convert this attention to profitable customer action. There is a lot that goes into being able to do this well. It is not as simple as writing a few blog posts every now and then, however. Creating copy is easy but developing really good content that is both unique and constantly engaging is difficult. The content must be high quality and full of interesting and quality information that is relevant to your audience.

What Skills Should a Content Writer Have?

Obviously, a marketing content writer needs to be a good writer to begin with, but this goes beyond having basic competency in spelling, punctuation, and grammar—as well as keeping abreast of all things social media. The content created by freelance writers needs to be easy for the masses to read and understand while also being compelling. If keywords and search engine optimization (SEO) are going to be used, then the writer needs to be able to incorporate these terms seamlessly without it feeling forced. If their content writing incorporates multiple topics and for multiple clients, then their styling needs to be versatile and adaptable to whatever best fits the personality of the client. Most of all, the content that a marketing writer creates needs to create an experience, have authenticity, and include some sort of call-to-action for the reader.

If the content writer is responsible for creating their own headlines, this is even more of a challenge. Even high-quality content does not even matter if the headline does not draw the reader in. Headlines should be unique, concise, and grab the attention of the reader. They should also be appropriate for the posting location and article type. For example, the type of headline that would draw in a typical user on Facebook would not necessarily get any reaction from someone browsing through Forbes online.

Get Specific in Your Writing

Customers tend to be attracted more to narrow, niche content than broad generalities. Therefore, a good marketing content writer must be able to delve deep into a subject and truly understand all of its facets. The customers who understand your product will be able to tell immediately whether or not a post was written by someone who knows what they are talking about. The writer must, therefore, either actually be an expert on the subject or have the patience and skill to thoroughly research it before putting together their article. If they can find a unique angle that competitors have not yet covered then their content will be much more compelling.

The writer must have a good awareness of their client and audience. The business should have an idea already of their target demographic, so the copywriter should use this information to their advantage. This includes referencing situations that are familiar to the audience, communicating in a style that appeals to them, and teaching them something they do not already know yet would find interesting. A good marketing content writer will also be familiar with the business’ website and existing content so they can create tie-ins and build on what is already there. The last thing the content creator wants to do is turn in something that is contradictory to a piece that has already been published. Conversely, referencing other works encourages the reader to continue reading through the site and spend more time there, resulting in a higher chance that they will further engage and purchase something from the business.

It can be a great advantage to have a marketing content writer that has familiarity with marketing in general and the specific marketing strategy of the client. Being able to tie their writing in with the overall marketing strategy can really elevate the utility of individual articles. To have an effective writing campaign it is important for each piece to have an objective and reason for being written. There should be a unifying theme and a clear progression as each piece is published. Having the marketing strategy in mind can make this much easier to accomplish. This is a much more effective method than blindly writing about whatever relevant topic strikes their fancy.

Critical Thinking and Work Ethic

There are also some non-technical skills that a good marketing content writer will possess. Though there is likely an editor that they will be working with, it is important that the writer is able to review their own work with the same eye that a reader would have. Marketing content tends to be biased as it is trying to persuade the reader to buy into what the company is selling. The writer should be able to review their work with a critical eye and understand how the reader will interpret and react to what is being said. This can make their work much more compelling and engaging while reducing the likelihood that the reader will be turned off by blatant attempts at soliciting their business. It is also very important that the copywriter has persistence and a consistent work ethic. For a business to be successful with online content they must have regular updates and unique content. For the writer to be professionally successful they must also turn in a large amount of work since copywriting is not the most profitable of writing professions.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot more that goes into writing marketing content than turning in a few hundred words on a given topic. Content can only be truly effective if it fits into the overall marketing strategy and is compelling to the target customer base. This can be done with some practice or outsourced as long as one knows exactly what qualities they are looking for.

Feb 20

Professional Email Examples: Dear Stranger, Please Don’t Delete My Email

By Madeleine | Blog , Uncategorized

Crafting the ideal, attention-grabbing but not off-putting email to a stranger is a daunting task. It is the “cold call” of the 21st century and there are email graveyards full of bad examples. Whether you are seeking a job, financing for a project or donations for a non-profit, three things are key in crafting an effective email to a stranger: tone, brevity, and a confident closing.

Tone

How many of us have actually stared at a screen and backspaced repeatedly between “Dear” and “Hi.” Is “Dear” too formal? Is “Hi” to casual? Does “Hello” make me sound like a robot?  That first word can set the tone for the entire email.  If you have any connection to the recipient, even a fledgling one by way of your neighbor’s aunt’s podiatrist, go with “Hi.” Launch right in with a tone of familiarity and quickly establish that you received the recipient’s contact information through a mutual connection.

From there, keep the tone light and upbeat but not too casual. Avoid abbreviations and colloquialisms. Sound like the “you” who has just met someone at a cocktail party, not the “you” who is meeting that person for post-yoga Bánhmì six months later. Do not be tempted to pepper your email with ANYTHING resembling a LOL. And (repeat this to yourself if necessary) “No emojis.” This is not text.

Remember and apply the basics you learned from your high school English teacher: use complete sentences and proper punctuation and grammar. And, if for any reason you aren’t using spell check, please join the modern age and embrace it. True, it’s making us dumber in the long run, but it will make you look smarter for the sake of the email.

A note of caution: spell check and auto correct features are still no replacement for human eyes. Read and re-read and re-read the email before sending. Better still, ask someone else to read it and offer feedback! (Just be wary of the email chain danger zone, which could find you sending a version to your intended recipient that includes your cousin’s reply, which reads something along the lines of “Totes slayed it, cuz. Emoji. Emoji. Emoji.”)

Brevity

Get to the point and get there quickly. After you have written the first draft of your email, try to cut out one-third of the words. Consider the amount of junk mail in the recipient’s inbox and do yourself a favor: keep it short to avoid the trash bin. Some words are completely unnecessary and the easiest ones to cut out right off the bat are “My name is….”

Why are so many people compelled to begin this way? Your NAME appeared in this person’s inbox. Or, if you have a generic email address using only your company name (e.g. pencil@sharppencils.com) you still have an opportunity to identify yourself with your signature line. Jump right in and get to the point: you don’t need to introduce yourself.

Hi, Dave,

I would like to introduce myself. My name is Anna Smith and I am writing to you today to tell you about an amazing opportunity for your wonderful organization to support my…..

Dave is now ASLEEP. Or hitting delete.

Hi, Dave,

Our mutual friend Jim Cole suggested I contact you. I am seeking donations for Paws for a Cause’s annual fund-raiser to benefit our local animal shelter.

Dave now knows exactly why you are contacting him. Now it’s time to convince him in as few words as possible.

Last year’s fund-raiser was supported by 17 local businesses that were prominently featured on our website, programs, event signage, slideshow, and gift bags. We expect more than 1,000 attendees at this year’s event…..

This is the “what’s in it for Dave” part. Sure, you want to pull at his heartstrings and write a long and tear-jerking essay about the mission of Paws for a Cause, but Dave can read the mission on your website. Hyperlink it! 

Tugging at heartstrings isn’t entirely bad, but it needs to be kept in check. We’ll get to that in the closing.

Finish out your informative yet brief description telling Dave exactly what you need from him. 

We are asking Dave’s Donuts to donate 10 of its famous “Donut Dessert Towers” for our event on March 1, 2018. A representative from Paws for a Cause can pick them up anytime before noon that day.

A Confident Closing

Although you have drafted this email with the fear that it may never be read (or read and dismissed entirely), close the email with the confidence of someone who knows the answer will be yes.

I hope to hear from you soon.

No. This is not the end of an awkward first date. Instead, try a definitive statement to move the conversation forward.

I will call you later this week to discuss the sponsorship in more detail.

Now for the tugging of heartstrings, which can be used effectively without going overboard. You’ve done your research and you know that Dave owns a dachshund. 

I’ll be sending you two complimentary tickets to the event as well. The shelter manager tells me she’ll be bringing a few dachshunds, in case your Eloise is in the market for a new friend!

You may be tempted to insert a cute little doggy paw after the last sentence but don’t. Just don’t. Six months from now when you and Dave are taking your four-legged friends to the local dog park you can respond with all the paws in the world, but for now, you need to be taken seriously.

Deep breath. Hit send. Good luck.

I will call you later this week to see if Dave replied.

Feb 15

What is a Niche Website?

By Madeleine | Blog , Uncategorized

Since the introduction of the World Wide Web to the general public in 1991, almost everyone now has access to the Internet, blog posts, and social media on a regular basis. For many people, the Internet is nothing more than another daily tool to use.  For others, it may still seem like a novelty. However, those numbers are declining as fast as technology and social media is advancing.  

The Internet is growing exponentially with new websites being added every second. Generally, websites are created either to sell a product or service or to supply information. While there are hundreds of tactics splayed all over the Internet when it comes to selling, there’s not so many when it comes to displaying information, so that’s what this article is all about.

What is a niche website?

One of the most effective kinds of informational websites out there is a niche website. You’ve probably heard the term thrown around before but may not have been too sure about what it really meant. Let us clear that up for you. Building a niche website is one that focuses on providing a narrow group of people—a micro niche market—with specific information, keywords, and affiliate programs. Think of niche website ideas as essentially helpful sites that are packed with quality content for the target audience to enjoy and to increase traffic. The information that’s included in these sites will often help readers answer any questions they may have on the subject or solve a problem.

What makes niche websites so effective?

One of the reasons as to why niche marketing with affiliate links are so effective is that they have very niche market information in one convenient location. People that visit niche sites, generally already know what they’re looking for. And, because the information on the site has been carefully selected to cover a niche and not the whole general subject, it shouldn’t be too hard for them to find what they need.

Finding your niche

If you are thinking of building your own micro niche blog site or website with targeted blog posts and affiliate marketing ideas that are ideal for the target audience, it’s important to do your research first. While it’s important to find and build a niche that interests you, there’s no point in choosing something that’s too obscure. This will significantly limit the number of people that will visit your site. Some niches are better sellers than others and will always increase traffic, simply because they appeal to people’s wants and needs. If you want a niche that’s going to give you the best chance of success the following are some of the most popular niches on the internet at the moment:

  • Health and fitness. More and more people are taking their health seriously these days compared to 50 years ago. Dieting, exercising, and healthy eating are becoming the norm. Alternative medicines and remedies are also becoming more popular. There may be a lot of competition in this sector, but because it’s so big just a small slice of the market is all it takes to make a healthy internet business.  
  • Beauty. This is another very popular market at the moment and ties in a little with the health and fitness sector. People like to look good and they don’t mind spending the cash to achieve this. Women especially are often on the hunt to reverse the signs of aging and have younger, more vibrant looking skin. It’s estimated that by 2019, this industry will have grown to almost $200 billion in annual sales.  
  • Technology and gadgets. Who doesn’t like to have the latest new technological toy? This market is far more popular for men than it is women, but don’t let that deter you in any way as there’s huge money to be made in this sector. Through an affiliate program such as Amazon, you could offer reviews on the latest technology and gadgets with a link to buy the product. Once the sales go through, you get a slice of the profit.  
  • Pets. For many people, a pet is considered to be a part of the family. And, because people like to look after them so well, there are a lot of pet-related products out there to review if you are thinking of going down the affiliate route.  
  • Survival prepping. Where the other niches mentioned have been popular for a while, this one is still up-and-coming, which makes it the perfect time to get in there and make some serious cash. There are lots of products that fall into this category, nearly all of which can be found on Amazon. So, for that reason, you should have no trouble at all in making money in this area as an affiliate.

Pros and cons of building a profitable niche website

Before you start any venture or make any big decisions as to which areas could be a profitable niche website and earn a passive income, it’s always a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons. So, to give you a little more insight into just what to expect, have a quick glance at the following:

Pros

  • No previous knowledge required. You don’t need to be an expert to put together a decent niche site. It might take a while, but there are plenty of tools and guides out there to help get you going. 
  • Low-cost initial investment. It costs very little to get a niche website up and running. Other than your time, the only other real cost involved is your hosting and domain fees. 
  • Low maintenance. After the initial setup, maintaining a niche website couldn’t be easier. While it is good to do a refresh/update of your content every now and then, very little else is needed. You could literally sit back and do nothing while the cash comes rolling in. 

Cons

  • Setup can be a lengthy process. There’s no denying that the building of a niche website is tough. Not because any of it is particularly challenging, but because there is a lot to do to get things started. If you’re looking for something that will have you earning thousands every month, you need to put in the effort.
  • Lower levels of earnings. Because niche sites focus on a narrower range of people, the potential earnings are less than a non-niche site. And, if you are working as an affiliate, you may find the levels of commission you get to start with are relatively low.

Hopefully, by now, you will be much more clued up as to what a niche website is and how you can easily build your own. Once you know what you want and get the initial website in place you can make a lot of money from it. And what’s stopping you from starting another when that one’s in place? Absolutely Nothing! The more niche websites you have the more income you will potentially earn. So, what are you waiting for? Go and build your Internet empire!

Feb 12

How to Blog Effectively

By Madeleine | Blog , Uncategorized

Social media and blogging have never been bigger. There are literally millions of female (and male) bloggers on the net today. Blogging is essentially a style of writing on the Internet that reaches out to its target audience in a very personable way. For some people, blogging and the social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are simply a way of expressing themselves through various blog posts. They may discuss their daily routines, gripes, likes, and more. Generally speaking, nothing is gained financially as it’s more for personal pleasure. Others, however, are making serious money and forming lucrative careers out of the art of blogging. Read on for your step-by-step guide to improving the potential of your blog and maximizing visiting traffic.

What makes a good blog?

Self-hosted blogs are meant to be pretty informal and are usually written by just one person, although sometimes are written by a small team of writers. They can come in any size and can cover just about anything. The style of a blog will differ depending on the person that’s writing it, and so will its effectiveness. However, there are a few things that all good blog posts have in common and also what makes them work so well. Here are a few ways in which you can promote your blog:

  • Length: While you don’t want to bore your readers to death with 16 pages of fluff, you want to write enough to get your point across. So, you need to find a happy medium; a place in between that will give your readers enough interesting information to keep them reading, yet not too much drivel that they zone out before the end. 
  • Tone: When preparing to write your blog, you’ll already have in mind the people it’s aimed at (i.e. your target audience). Depending on who that is will depend on the tone of the article. If you’re going to be blogging to older people, there’s no point using modern slang or text speak as they won’t have a clue what you’re on about. Similarly, if you’re going to be blogging to a group of men, try not to use too much “flowery” talk.   
  • Readability: Make sure it makes sense. It’s all too easy to get carried away with writing and let your fingers run away with you, not really taking notice of what’s being said. So, just be careful with that. While you want your blog to be “chatty,” it needs to make sense too.  

Now that you have a bit more of an idea as to what blogging is and what makes them effective in general.  Here are a few more tips to help you succeed in the world of blogging:

  • Choose an interesting topic to blog about. This may sound like a given, but sometimes bloggers try to write about topics that they have little or no interest in, and this comes across in their posts.  If you want your readers to remain engaged you have to keep them entertained and you won't do that with a topic you yourself find boring.  
  • Plan, plan, plan. This is probably the most important part of blogging. There aren’t many people out there that can simply hop on a computer and write a decent blog without any prior planning. It doesn't have to be anything too extensive. Maybe just a few words are enough. It’s really just something to get those creative juices flowing and pointed in the right direction.
  • Make sure it’s credible. Spending time doing good research will save you time and shame later on. Before you publish anything, you need to check your facts and make sure that what you’re writing is the truth. If not, you could find yourself in hot water.  
  • Learn to love your readers. At the end of the day, without your readers, there’s very little point in blogging. So, instead of putting all your attention on picking up new customers, instead focus on the ones you have and get to know them better. The beauty of a blog is that it’s a way to get more personable and is much easier for the reader to see the writer’s true colors and learn to love them back. 
  • Format your blog: You might not think it matters that much, but formatting is actually quite important when it comes to blogging. A blog can have the most interesting content in the world in it but if it looks dull and boring, no one’s going to get past the headline anyway. One way to make your blog stand out is to be generous with bolding. Bolding out key points within your blog allows people to skim through it to get an idea of what it’s all about. If they like what they’ve read in those few words it’s very likely that they’ll carry on to read the remainder of it. Another good formatting technique to use when it comes to blogging is to use dots to create a feeling of suspense. Often, readers can’t help but feel curious as to what might be coming next.  
  • Be SEO aware: Every good blog post needs a way to be found and this is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. To give your blog the best chances of being seen, be sure to use a good keyword ratio, keyword optimized titles, keyword anchor text, and the correct use of keywords throughout the blog. Being able to apply SEO techniques correctly will enhance your blog’s chances of being read tenfold.     

As with anything, blogging takes a while to master to drive more traffic to your site. It’s not that it’s particularly difficult, but it may take a while to find your own style to promote your blog. While you want to be chatty, you need to be informative also. A self-hosted blog that’s only 30% factual and 70% fluff is not a good blog. It doesn’t need to be an essay. Something short, sweet, and informative will do the job nicely. Just remember to keep practicing and don’t give up. Take note of the above tips and before you know it, you’ll have yourself a database of dedicated readers.

Feb 08

My Story – Mona

By Madeleine | Uncategorized

What I Do: 

I make sure your order and the content you put in our hands is delivered on time and is exactly the way you want it. I manage a team of writers that I work with closely; I train and nurture their skills and guide them through the process so that we can create refined content for you.

Professionally, I have over 10 years experience managing web content teams in the creation of online content. I've worked with talent from all over the world, and it's truly a pleasure to interact and work with my team daily.  

My Background:
 

I have a Bachelor's degree in Comparative Literature from McMaster University, Canada. I then followed that up with two Master's degrees completed in Europe, one in Film & Media Studies and the other in Gender Studies. I speak 6 languages fluently, I've been to over 50 countries and have lived in 10. Most of all, I love what I do and how I do it. Working online has given me the freedom to work from anywhere in the world, and has allowed me to work with various types of people and on a wide variety of topics, so that I am never bored. Variety is the spice of life, and my personal and professional experience attest to that. I love the written form, and no matter how advanced technology gets, our words are what will always mean the most. Upholding the spirit of genuine communication and injecting it into everything I do gives me real pleasure, which transforms work into play, and a job into a life-long journey rather than just a career.
 
Working at Content Refined: 
 
Meeting Madeleine was like meeting a kindred spirit. She is positive and enthusiastic and always finds a diplomatic solution to any problem or situation that might crop up. I trust her judgment because she chooses the path not of least resistance but of maximum benefit, where everyone who works and interacts with her walks away richer. What more, as an employee, could I ask for? I get to work independently and am given the trust to deliver everything I sign up for. We have a great working relationship because we respect each other, one another's skills and assets and we constantly promote and support the other person, thereby spreading the positivity throughout the team. It's really been the best work experience I've had, bar none, and I continually aim to be more successful at what I do, so that everyone at Content Refined, and most importantly - our clients - get to reap the benefits of such a great working environment.
 
The Last Word: 

 
When you trust us with your project, it's basically like asking some good friends to care about and invest as much energy into your project as you do. I don't take on work that I don't enjoy or believe in, because I want to achieve a high level of success and take my projects further. I like to promise little and deliver more, because I want my clients to be left fully satisfied.
 
If have you have any questions, or would like to find out more about what we at Content Refined can do for you and your business, I'm always happy to help: mona@contentrefined.com

Feb 07

Guest Blogging Services: How to Get Great Content Online for Your Brand

By Madeleine | Blog , Uncategorized

When it first came about, blogging was simply about people sharing their thoughts and ideas via their own kind of online journal or weblog. However, it soon became apparent that blogging had so much more potential than simply unloading one’s daily woes. Many businesses now use blogging as an effective form of marketing as a blog is a much more personal way to promote your product or service and build trust while doing so. Not only can it help to increase the amount of traffic coming to your website, it can also help you build and maintain relationships with new and existing customers.

What is guest blogging?

Guest blogging is a great way of forming new relationships with other bloggers and increasing traffic to your website.  It’s also a very good way of establishing yourself as a trustworthy source in the world of blogging. Typically, guest blogging, or guest posting services, involves writing valuable content for another website owner’s blog. However, it’s not an advertisement for your own services. It is simply a post that should enlighten the reader and provide them with relevant and interesting information.

What guest blogging services are available?

The first thing you need to decide on when thinking about guest blogging is whether you’re going to go at it alone or call in the professionals. There’s no reason why you can’t go all the guest blogging yourself, but if you do want to save yourself some time a high quality paid guest posting services may be the way to go to get quality content for your brand out there.

Whether you do decide to go at it alone or call in the big guns, typically guest blogging will consist of the following:

  • Identifying what content on your website to include in the guest post. Many professional services know the kind of content that works, and if they aren't able to find what they’re looking for on your site, they’ll often create it for you. If you’re doing it yourself, it can be difficult to know what information to use. In which case, it’s more a case of doing your research to see what topics are hot and trial and error.  
  • Finding guest blogging opportunities. This is another area where professionals come in handy as the chances are that they've already got a whole range of blogs available to them. These are companies that they work with daily where they can quite easily secure guest posts on blogs for you that are relevant to your chosen industry. If you’re flying solo, the following will help point you in the direction of where to find the best blogging opportunities:
  • Look for repeat high-quality bloggers. In every industry, you’ll find a number of different bloggers whose names appear regularly across various sites. The sites that they appear on most often are often a very good place to start guest blogging.  
  • Social media. Bloggers often share their guest blog posts on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and can be a great place for others to get to know you quickly.
  • Google. By simply typing in certain keywords and phrases related to guest blogging Google will throw out a whole load of sites where you can submit guest blog posts. Things like “submit a guest post” or “accepting guest posts” and a keyword or two relating to your industry should lead you to a number of guest blogging opportunities that will help your business thrive.  
  • Making the pitch. Once the correct guest blogging opportunities have been determined it’s time to pitch your website to the blog editors. If you’ve hired in professionals they’ll do this for you. If not, just be open and honest about what it is you want to achieve and let your website sell itself. 
  • Creating the content: In creating the content yourself, you’ll get the exact message you want to across.  However, if you want to leave it to the professionals at least you know you’ll get quality content from experienced writers.
  • Publishing. Once your content’s been written it’s simply a case of publishing it for all to see. If using a guest blogging service provider, they’ll take care of this and will usually send you regular reports as to how you’re posts are doing.

Pros and cons of guest blogging 

Don’t get me wrong, guest blogging is fantastic for so many good reasons. But, as with anything, it does have its downsides, too. The following are a few of the top pros and cons of guest blogging:

Pros

  • Great content for free. Guest posting works both ways. Not only does it allow you to get yourself known on other sites but it allows others to write for you too. It’s a great way to get free quality content for your own website.
  • Builds rapport. It’s good to get to know other bloggers in your industry and being a guest blogger is the perfect way to do that. People are far more likely to recommend something to someone if they have a personal connection with. Building rapport with other bloggers will help get your name out there.
  • SEO benefits. Guest blogging can help your business achieve good rankings, but it must be done right.  Search engines such as Google love fresh, quality content. Plus, when you allow guest posting on your site, all the backlinks that are created on your site give your site authority, providing extra exposure at no extra cost.        

Cons  

  • Choose wisely. Although it might be tempting to start guest blogging here, there, and everywhere, it can have detrimental effects on your business if you post on illegitimate sites. Only choose sites that are reputable to avoid unnecessary suffering.  
  • Sub-standard content. Unfortunately, not all guest bloggers are brilliant writers and you have to accept that some posts will be of poor quality. The only way to really avoid this issue is to have a strict vetting process for all posts.

We hope you found the above article useful and feel a lot more confident as to what’s involved in guest blogging. If you are new to the world of guest blogging and are planning to do it yourself, just take your time and do a little research before you begin. Plan out what sites you want to write for and what content from your website you want to focus on. Similarly, if you’re planning on hiring a professional to take away some of the pressure, make sure they’re reputable too and understand exactly what it is you’re looking for. Once you know what you want, you just need to make it happen!

Feb 05

A Beginner’s Guide to Creating the Best Amazon Affiliate Websites

By Madeleine | Blog , Uncategorized

With the rise of the Internet, the need for writers has never been greater than it is now. Once upon a time, most writing gigs were for authors of books or journalistic pieces for newspapers and magazines. But that’s no longer the case. Sure, you still have the traditional roles of authors and journalists alike, but you also have a whole new wave of writers in the form of bloggers. Blogging with niche sites is a way of getting a message out there on the World Wide Web in what’s referred to as a post. It’s a more informal way of discussing a topic and helps to build a relationship with your readers. These days, there are many, many ways to make money from writing online. But one of the most popular right now that’s making a lot of people very wealthy is through affiliate marketing.

What is affiliate marketing?

In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is basically marketing products on behalf of someone else and reaping the rewards when that product sells through your advertisement. For example, many review niche sites out there will first give you the lowdown on the product/range of products in question. They’ll often compare them against one another and give their recommendation at the end. All through the review will be hyperlinks or affiliate links that go straight to those particular products, so that, as soon as the customer has decided they’d like to buy it, they can go straight to it. When the product sells through these affiliate links, the person doing the marketing (i.e. the website owner) gets paid.

Why choose Amazon Affiliate?

While there are thousands of affiliate programs out there, with the Amazon Affiliate program you get peace of mind knowing that you have the backing of the world’s largest internet retailer. You also get a good range of tools to help you promote the products on your affiliate site and the dashboard lets you keep control over everything. Once you have both the affiliate program and a good website in place there’s no reason why you can’t earn $5000+ per month.

How to create the best Amazon Affiliate website

Now that you know a little more about what an Amazon Affiliate website is, we’ll take you through some tried and tested techniques as to how to go about creating one of the best out there:

  • Choose a niche: This is often the most difficult part of creating your own Amazon Affiliate site. That being said, Amazon has such as huge range of products on offer that it really doesn’t have to be hard. One thing to keep in mind when choosing a niche website is to choose something that you can relate to and that you have an interest in. It’s really hard to sound upbeat about a product and tempt others to buy it when you have no clue as to what it is or how it will be of benefit to people. There are some obvious categories that cover a wide range of products and will always be popular such as home and garden and technology, but to have a site that lists all the products for sale on Amazon in those categories would take forever. Instead, look for something a little more niche in the main category such as sheds in the home and garden category or gadgets in the technology category.  Once you have your idea, your niche website can begin to flourish.      
  • Make it personable: It’s a well-known fact that people buy from people they feel they can trust. So, the more personable you can make your website the more likely it is that people will take your review and recommendations seriously. Keep it factual, but keep it real and include real reviews that people can relate to.         
  • Ranking: There’s a lot of competition in the world of blogging today, so to be successful and achieve decent rankings you need to keep on top of the game. Even with the best search engine optimization (SEO) techniques in the world, it can take months to achieve this, so just be patient. To give yourself the best chance of achieving a high ranking make sure you produce high quality content with carefully chosen keywords. Updating each review or article monthly with those keywords and affiliate products/product reviews in mind will also help attract more visitors to your site and help you rank faster to start making money.
  • Conversion: Once you’ve drawn people into your site with interesting blogs and product reviews, the next part of the challenge is enticing visitors to buy. There are various little tricks that website owners can use to help increase conversion rates. First, make sure you use a striking text color to grab the viewer’s attention. Even button color is important. Red and blue are the most widely used colors when it comes to ‘Buy’ buttons as they have the most efficient in terms of conversion.      
  • Promotion: You can’t simply set up an Amazon Affiliate website and expect the traffic to come flooding in automatically. Promotion is another key aspect of creating any successful affiliate website. Once your website’s up and running you should also create a separate social media profile for it on as many platforms as you can. Whenever you add new content to the website you should also post it on social media. These are major authority sites that can seriously help increase traffic to your site. Another good promotion technique is to search for forums that are relevant to your niche. From here, you can offer solutions to problems that other users present, including links to your own site.

Creating a decent Amazon Affiliate website isn’t particularly difficult; it just takes a lot of time and patience. You probably won’t do everything right the first time around, either. However, the best way to learn is through failure, so don’t beat yourself up too much over it. Simply adjust your plan and refocus your efforts. Also, try not to concern yourself with the competition. There will always be competition in anything you do. But, rather than focus your energy on what they’re doing, use it to enhance your own website and before you know it you’ll be making thousands of dollars a month.

Feb 02

How to Tell a Good SEO Agency from a Bad One

By Madeleine | Blog , Uncategorized

Some people are afraid of public speaking. Others fear spiders, heights, flying or something else. But one thing just about everybody dreads is looking for an SEO agency. SEO is complicated and hard to get your head around; agencies fog up presentations with an overdose of jargon; and in the back of your mind, you can’t help but wonder whether the pitching agency is interested in helping your business or helping themselves to your money. 

Here are ways you can tell a good SEO agency from a bad one, and make sure you select the right partner for your campaign. The good news is, there are plenty of outstanding SEO firms from which to choose.

Technical Talk  

SEO is a long-term proposition, and you’ll be working with your agency on a regular basis. Thus, it’s essential you feel comfortable communicating with agency personnel. If they obscure their talk with jargon and technical detail, you’re bound to get frustrated. Top SEOs understand their business well enough to explain it in everyday terms — that’s what you want. As Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Documented Campaign Process

SEO involves a large number of tasks that often must be coordinated with other tasks. Agencies that get results have sophisticated, documented workflow processes that ensure nothing slips through the cracks and multiple tasks don’t undercut one another. You don’t have to understand every technical detail in the agency’s documented campaign process, but you should understand enough to judge whether it makes sense. If the agency can’t document its process for you, then move on.

References

Reputable, successful SEOs are eager to supply references for you to contact. It’s always a good idea to talk to the agency’s clients, especially ones with campaign objectives and project scopes similar to yours. In addition, you should look for online client reviews of the agency. There are several websites in the SEO and online marketing niches that are likely to have fairly detailed (or extremely detailed) reviews that you’ll find enlightening. 

Guarantees

Reputable agencies seldom, if ever, guarantee anything. This may seem counterintuitive, but the fact is, SEO is an inexact science (along with a healthy dose of art). It’s impossible to guarantee page one Google rankings, tripling organic website traffic, or anything else your marketing department may crave. Typically, agencies that offer stunning guarantees are simply trying to lock in a contract. 

Package Deals

Packaged SEO campaigns appeal to many companies because they are simple, easy to understand and as a rule, inexpensive. Unfortunately, because every company’s SEO starting point is unique, a canned set of activities cannot be universally successful. Effective SEO campaigning requires a healthy dose of research followed by crafting a customized set of prioritized actions. The upfront work is worth every penny, because without it, you’ll be lucky to get even minimal SEO improvement from your campaign. 

Author Bio:

Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy for Straight North, an SEO company in Chicago

Jan 31

The BCG Matrix and How it Applies to SaaS Businesses

By Madeleine | Uncategorized

bcg matrix

The BCG matrix is a vital tool that is designed to help a business to plan a long-term professional approach with accuracy and focus while ironing out any question marks in the process. BCG stands for Boston Consulting Group and they have developed this product portfolio matrix to review one’s product portfolio so that they might determine when and where adjustments of any kind can be made. You might also hear the BCG matrix being referred to as the “BCG growth-share matrix” within certain parameters. When a company or organization is trying to decide whether to add, discontinue, or reassess existing products within their lineup, turning to the BCG matrix for insight is the first order of business. Market growth and relative market share are the two overriding principles that inform all four of the quadrants within the BCG growth-share matrix. Market growth is a term that refers to how much capital is used to produce a specific item or product. Relative market share refers to how much money a specific item or product is able to return for the company in relation to the initial investment made.

When you look at your product portfolio through the BCG matrix template model, the products or services that you find in the upper left-hand corner of the diagram are the ones that are most likely your best-selling offerings. They’ve got high market growth rates, but they’ve also got high value in terms of relative market share as well. The products in the upper right-hand corner are the ones with high market growth margins and low market share, so goods or services that end up classified in this quadrant are generally the most problematic. As a business owner, you would want to concern yourself with closely observing the offerings within this cell. Unless the products found here start performing well on the market all of a sudden, it would probably be in the best interest of the business to cease production on these goods. They cost the most to produce and they offer very little in terms of returns on initial investment. The products found in the lower left-hand cell are referred to as “cash cows” because they cost the least to produce while offering huge returns on investment. Business owners should always strive to have most of the goods or services they offer in their product portfolio classified under this category. Good and services found in the lower right-hand cell are known as “dogs” and they have both low market growth rates and low relative market share. Getting rid of any dog products in one’s portfolio is a strong idea as it will free up a lot of resources that could be better utilized on more popular product offerings.

SAAS business

Once the principles of the BCG matrix are understood, it becomes that much easier to make the correlation between it and the SaaS model of business. The acronym “SaaS” simply stands for 'software as a service', and cloud computing companies are the most commonly recognized types of businesses that fall under this umbrella. The software as a service model is fairly new and it’s an alternative to the more traditional method of software purchase that requires an upfront payment and custom installation of the software. SaaS businesses generally provide the most value to their customers because of the instantaneous access that they get to enjoy at all times, but moving into a new model of business without any clue about how it works is never an advisable idea. Once you’ve begun to do the work of getting more familiar with SaaS structures, easing into the changes that lie ahead should seem a lot more manageable.

For starters, SaaS companies want to make sure they’re collaborating with reputable professionals that provide the quality of work that they promise. The last thing you want is for one of your software products to be delayed in the production stages because an engineer dropped the ball. In SaaS business deadlines are everything: and you never want to see a small misstep turn into a huge issue. With cloud computing being such a new concept, it’s bound to continue to change and mature. That means that working with developers and engineers that are always right in step with changing trends is a crucial point to keep in mind. Depending on the Internet for all or most of your daily business dealings comes with both pros and cons and you also want to be sure to take this into consideration early on. What are your customers to do if they can’t access the Internet for some reason? How are they supposed to handle problems that might arise after the hours of operation at your office? You want to walk yourself through the motions of what it feels like to be one of your customers so you can know that you’re providing the highest levels of service and quality possible. If they like the way you operate, you won’t have to work hard to get them to come back to renew their subscriptions.

Just as with any other business industry, SaaS businesses can depend on the BCG matrix for the purpose of assessing all of the goods and services that they offer to consumers. This assessment can then aid them in making adjustments to their product line if and when that becomes a necessity. The fact that so much of a SaaS business is Internet-based should make it that much simpler to utilize the BCG matrix for assessment purposes. At this time, there are only so many different kinds of service that a cloud computing company can offer—so that should make the process of identifying products and services quick and painless. Having a smaller array of offerings means you’ll spend less time having to determine which offerings you might want to consider discontinuing.

Neglecting to make use of the BCG matrix in any sector of business is just downright silly and SaaS businesses are no exception to that sentiment. You want to always be striving for the evolution of your SaaS business and that evolution will only happen if you make it your mission to take charge!

Jan 29

Best Proofreading Software and Tips to Enhance Your Writing Skills

By Madeleine | Uncategorized

proofreading

A lot of people choose to write for different reasons.  While some people write to make a living, others simply do it for the love of it.  Whatever their reasons for choosing to write, the one thing that they all have in common is that they want their work to be good, with as few errors as possible.  They want it to be readable, engaging, and have their audience yearning for more.  However, even the most talented of writers need a little help sometimes.   

Best Proofreading Software 

While writers may have all the best ideas in the world, even they can struggle sometimes when it comes to putting them into the correct words.  That’s where proofreading software comes in very useful.  There are lots of these software available, some of which charge for the privilege and others that are free.  They are extremely helpful tools that will easily help enhance your writing skills.  Here are some of the most popular ones used currently:

  • Hemingwayapp: This is quite possibly the best free free writing tool out there.  Hemingwayapp is like an enhanced spell checker.  Not only does it check your spelling, punctuation, and grammar, but it checks things like how many adverbs you’re using, or whether there are simpler words available that mean the same thing but sound better.  It also lets you know if you’re writing in a passive voice and the overall readability of your content.  You can even format your text with this tool also.  Simply click on your writing and the formatting bar will appear at the top. There’s a free version of Hemingwayapp that’s available via the website, or a desktop version that’s available to purchase.
  • Copyscape:  Launched back in 2004 by Indigo Stream Technologies, Ltd., Copyscape is a free plagiarism checker that lets you know if similar content to yours appears anywhere on the web.  While it uses Google as its search provider it uses specially developed algorithms to detect content that’s been copied without permission (plagiarised).  For those of you looking for a more automated service there’s also a paid service available called Copysentry.  This gives writers added protection by scanning the web daily or weekly (depending on your requirements) to search for copies of your content and alerting you via email if any are found.        
  • MarketMuse:  Founded back in 2013, MarketMuse is one of the more advanced writing tools available.  The reason for that is that it uses artificial intelligence and machine learning in which to create and optimize content.  If you want good search results you need to have quality content and Marketmuse can help you do that.  Not only can it create custom content briefs on any subject, it can also optimize your existing content by creating a brief on ways you can improve it.  This software isn’t for the fainthearted or those that are writing just for fun.  Monthly price plans with Marketmuse start from $500 per month.
proofreading

Tips to Enhance Your Writing Skills

As well as using the various proofreading softwares that are available there are plenty of other ways in which you can enhance your writing skills.  Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

  • Read, read, read.  The best writers are often avid readers.  Reading on a regular basis is one of the easiest ways to improve your writing skills and it happens subconsciously.  The more you read, the more you’ll learn which techniques and writing styles work and which ones don’t.
  • Take a class or join a workshop.  Writing classes or workshops are a great way to refine your skills.  It puts you in touch with like minded people and is often hugely beneficial for most that try it.  You don’t necessarily need to have one nearby either as many writing classes are available online now and are just as effective.
  • Outlines are the way to go.  Staring at a blank page and not knowing where to begin is a nightmare.  One of the best and easiest ways to solve this issue is by creating an outline of the piece you’re about to write.  Don’t feel like you’re a failure or any less of a write for doing this as hardly anyone can just sit down and write a lengthy piece from start to finish without any kind of planning first.  It just doesn’t happen!  An outline can be anything from a few sentences to just a few keywords.  It’s simply there to give you a prompt of what to write about.  Some people find it useful to split it into paragraphs.  Once you have the structure in place of what you want your piece to look like, it’s simply a case of filling in the middle.
  • Be your biggest critic.  Editing is often the hardest part of writing but an essential one nonetheless.  The key to submitting a quality piece of work is to be your biggest critic and not be afraid to change your work.  Very rarely will any writer submit any work that hasn’t been at least partially rewritten.  What may sound good when you first write it may not sound quite so good when you read it back.  So just bear that in mind and be tough on yourself.  You will become a much better writer as a result.
  • Be yourself.  A lot of content online and elsewhere is very bland and boring and has no personality to it.  Is that really something you would like to read?  Probably not.  Of course what you’re writing you’re doing will have an impact on your overall writing style, but wherever possible try to add your own voice to it.  It makes all the difference when considering what makes good reading and what doesn't.

There are lots of different tools and techniques out there that will help you enhance your skills as a writer and more often than not you’ll end up using a mixture of them for your work.  Just remember there’s no harm in getting a little helping hand every once in a while, especially if it’s going to mean you produce much better work moving forward.  Find what works for you, stick to it, and in no time at all you’ll be creating much higher quality content than ever before.

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