Finding Keywords SEO Tips for Writers

At some point in your writing career you’ll be asked about finding keywords or SEO (search engine optimization). SEO is a marketing skill, which writers may or may not have. I say it’s a good idea to become acquainted with the concept as it will make you more valuable to your clients.

Keywords SEO Tips

Finding Keywords for SEO

Most freelance writers spend time researching different topics online, which is good news because finding keywords involves the same skill: research. And, in fact, there’s a good chance you’re doing keyword research as part of your regular workflow. Brainstorming writing ideas, building content calendars or working on branding all involve some aspect of SEO.

This can be as simple or complex as you make it. I like to keep things simple.

SEO Tips

  1. Answer questions your audience is asking

    Think about the audience you serve and the types of questions they’re asking. Then take those questions and answer them. If you take the time to figure out what questions your target audience, customer or reader is asking, the more you increase your chance of them finding your answers. It’s amazing stuff.

    If you don’t know what questions are being asked browse through forums and Facebook groups. These are a gold mine when doing customer research. And if that fails, talk to some real people. Find out what they’re confused about and try and help clarify.

  2. Figure out three or four main topics for your website

    If you’ve done any type of editorial planning then you understand how this is done. If not, think about the main themes or categories of the product or service you’re writing about. Then break those main ideas down into smaller topic ideas or sub-categories. Continue breaking the ideas down into smaller and smaller ideas until you’re as focused as possible. You now have a HUGE amount of on-topic keywords to build articles and content around.

  3. And my favourite keyword hack

  4. Look at what others in your industry/niche are writing about

    Browse their websites and see what topics they’re addressing. Is there anything missing? Can you offer more information about one of those topics on your site? Can you go deeper on any of these themes? See what your competitors are doing and improve on it.

    If you don’t know who your competitors are you can open up an incognito browser and Google your theme or topic. See who ranks in the top (not counting ads) and check out the articles. Ask these same questions and see how you can improve on what’s already ranking well in search.

One last tip: Tech Tools

If you’re stumped for ideas online tools like Wordstream’s Keyword Tool or Google Trends will help you brainstorm ideas. They will also give you a good indication of how many people are searching for the term so you don’t waste your time answering questions no one is asking.

A few years ago my website was quite random and unfocused. I spent a lot of time writing about whatever struck my fancy and not much time wondering what people would like to read. One day I realized I was ranking as the number four search in Google for “DIY Chocolate Bubble Bath.” I thought that was pretty great until I realized I have no interest in the topic, offer no services or products on that topic and no one ever actually searches for that topic. Oops.

Conclusion

The closer your keywords are to the actual topics you cover and services you offer the better your SEO ranking will be. Part of your website’s value comes from how long people spend on your site. If you show up in search and people click on your link only for them to leave a second later, this tells Google the search result wasn’t relevant to the user and over time your ranking will go down until it disappears altogether.

There is a bit of a learning curve to figuring out keywords and SEO but if you keep it simple and think about what your audience is searching for online, you’re on your way to optimizing your writing.

At some point in your writing career you'll be asked about finding keywords or SEO (search engine optimization). To be clear, SEO is a marketing skill, which writers may or may not have. So you're off the hook there. That said, it's a good idea to become acquainted with the concept as it will make you more valuable to your clients.

Evergreen Content Ideas for Writers

One of the hardest thing about being a working freelance writer is coming up with content for your personal website and digital platforms, which is why you need an evergreen content strategy. Trust me on this, it will change your life.

Evergreen Content Ideas for Bloggers

Writers who want to build an online platform know they should be producing content online, maybe a blog or something similar. And in theory it makes sense—a blog is an excellent way to showcase your skills as a writer and advertise your services. In reality things are a bit trickier. What do you write about? And how do you balance writing for yourself/your site with writing for clients?

This is where an evergreen content strategy comes in

Evergreen content can be described as the foundation of your blog—and this surprises many people for a couple reasons. First, because it’s hard to comprehend how timeless articles can stay relevant over time and second because hardly anyone has heard of evergreen content.

How can evergreen content be a foundation when I’ve never heard of it before!?

I know! But I’ll explain everything and you’ll never wonder what to write about on your website again.

First I’ll talk about what evergreen content is, then I’ll explain how to come up with evergreen content ideas in a way you can balance with your freelance writing workload.

What is evergreen content?

“Evergreen” is jargon but the word makes sense—think of evergreen trees, they keep their needles year-round and the needles maintain their green colouring thus, ever-green. Evergreen content works the same way, it stays relevant year-round and answers questions people are asking years after it was written.

Why you should employ an evergreen content marketing strategy is because this timeless, relevant information will deliver a consistent stream of leads to your website month over month. It takes a bit of time and effort to set up but once you have the wheels in motion this approach will allow you to spend your mental energy on your freelance clients while your website works in the background.

How to come up with evergreen content ideas

The best way to come up with ideas is to know your audience. In a freelance writer’s case, your audience is your ideal client. Think about who you serve and what problems they’re trying to solve. Your website or blog content should solve those problems and answer common questions. The more questions you answer the stronger your foundation.

Here’s what you need to do when coming up with evergreen content ideas: get clear on who you’re talking to (your ideal reader) and what you offer (what’s your goal? What are you trying to achieve?), decide what your topics are, and put everything into a calendar template.

To systemize these ideas (and actually get them written) you’ll need to take your ideas and build a content calendar with them.

Of course we could go a lot deeper when talking about creating evergreen content—there’s SEO, keyword research and virality to consider. But for today we’ll stick with the concept of evergreen content and building a strong online foundation as the base of your freelance writing business. When done well it’s a beautiful thing.

One of the hardest thing about being a working freelance writer is coming up with content for your personal website and digital platforms, which is why you need an evergreen content strategy. Trust me on this, it will change your life.

Bonus: here’s a helpful post on what type of posts work best for evergreen content from Thirteen Thoughts.

How to Create Better Blog Post Images with Canva

In the writing world words are the thing. So when people tell us writers we need (nay, require) better blog post images we recoil in shock. What now!? But I’m a writer! I cannot! Even!

How to create better blog post images with Canva

And a few years ago I would have commiserated with you. Because there was a learning curve if you weren’t a professional photographer—you have to learn design and of course then you had to figure out Photoshop (and pay for it). If you gave up on taking photos yourself then you entered the world of stock photography and, a few years ago, the cost was high and the competition was low.

But the story is tres different today. There are so many tools available to non-designers and non-photographers it’s time to accept your need for better blog post images and hop on the bus.

For creating better blog post images I recommend Canva to anyone who asks. It’s a free design tool for non-designers—and it’s so easy to use. It’s in the cloud so you don’t have to download anything and you can use it from anywhere, including your mobile. You can design your own graphics if you’re inclined, or you can take suggestion from their huge template library.

The first thing you should do is figure out a few image templates you’ll use over and over in your blogs. This cuts down on decision fatigue and helps keep your blog brand consistent. Don’t freak out! This is all a part of creating better blog images. Templates are your friend. And remember what I said earlier? Canva has a massive template library! You’re going to be fine!

When building your templates you may get tripped up on fonts, images and colours. Since we’re not design trained I suggest we don’t trust our instincts. At least, that’s what I suggest to myself. Here’s what I do instead.

Create Better Blog Post Images with Canva

Fonts

First, you need to choose a font, which is no easy feat. There are bajillions of fonts to choose from. In the link I dropped I’ve offered a few ways to narrow it down but here are the main points: choose something readable and stick with it. Now, when you’re creating images you may want to use a couple different fonts—risky stuff! If you want to spice things up font-wise, use Canva’s free font combinations thingy. Select your main font and let Canva show you what will pair well with it. Done.

Images

While you can create graphics without photos there is still a decision to make here—will you be an exclusive image-only blog? Or just graphics? Or a mix of both? Figure out how you want your site to look and go from there. If you’re going with photos, Canva has a large stock photo library—some of which are free to use. There are many, many options online for stock photography these days so you have options if you want to use photos but can’t/don’t want to use your own. Even if you’re not planning on using many photos I still recommend finding a photo style you resonate with (be it nature, lifestyle, flat lay, etc.) as it will help you in your ongoing branding and in colour selection.

Colours

If you’ve chosen your website or blog branding colours then this isn’t a decision you have to make—stick with your branding. However, if you haven’t done this yet it’s time to pick a palette. And, since we’re not designers, how does one know what colours go together? I use Canva’s colour palette generator every time I need one. And I don’t just use it for my blog images—it’s how I chose my living room colours and how I decide the palettes for my knitting projects!

When you find your inspiration image, one that you feel represents the essence of your blog and/or brand, upload it to the colour palette generator and watch it do its magic. Because it’s magical.

In the writing world words are the thing. So when people tell us writers we need (nay, <em>require</em> better blog post images we recoil in shock. What now!? But I'm a writer! I cannot! Even!

As a writer, the subject of website images can be overwhelming. The goal of today’s post is to help simplify it—yes you should have images on your blog and yes, I think you can create better blog post images. Here are the highlights.

  • Use a program like Canva
  • Remember, templates are your friend
  • Build a visual brand using fonts, images and colours
  • Stay on brand!

What Kind of Blogger are You? Take the Quiz

What kind of blogger are you? Come on, I know you want to know! Take the quiz!

what kind of blogger are you take the quiz

Quizzes. I’ve thought about them a lot lately. I’ve even mused on them (on Enneagram in particular) wondering why we’re so obsessed with discovering who we are deep down.

But I also think about the not-so-serious quizzes a lot. Like what is the best breed of dog for my lifestyle (Corgi), what kind of ice cream is my personality most like (strawberry), and what Hogwart’s house am I sorted into (Ravenclaw)?

I even bring the results up in conversations. I know, I can hardly believe it myself.

In researching why we love these personality tests so much I realized this isn’t a new obsession for me—I just forgot about it after I stopped subscribing to Seventeen Magazine and Cosmo.

A quick summary

We love quizzes because they help us understand ourselves and link us to a tribe, which helps us feel understood. And talking about our quiz results is a humblish way of talking about ourselves without coming off braggy.

Yeah, my quiz said I’m 100% Minnesotan Lutheran so I guess I’m pretty solid there.

So I want to get into building quizzes. This one, what kind of blogger are you, is my first try.

What kind of blogger are you?

I’m using a platform called Interact and so far I’ve found it straightforward and fun. And, thank goodness, there are a billion templates for me to launch from so I don’t sit there staring at the screen, wondering what to write a quiz about.

Because coming up with ideas was the hardest part.

Now that I’ve built one (well, three, but I’m only showing you one today) I am starting to understand a bit about what needs to happen behind the scenes and how you come up with the topics. So hopefully I’ll get a bit better at it and start producing VIRAL HITS helping people gain profound internal insight while having fun at the same time.

Yes, that’s the dream.

OK but to swing this around a bit, quizzes are a fantastic marketing tool. They’re marketing without feeling like marketing. So if you’re wondering what on earth you can do to generate traffic or build your email list (because you can’t even think about creating an opt-in ebook or printable or whatever)…maybe give this a try. Come up with a few topics that suit your brand and see what you come up with.

A few things to keep in mind

  • When choosing a topic for your quiz, think about what your audience would respond to and write it for them
  • Make sure your title is awesome—build curiosity into it like how much do you actually know about __________ or which ________ are you?
  • Don’t go too deep with your questions; they can be personal but make sure they are ones you’d ask in casual conversation
  • Keep your tone positive and truthful

Quizzes. I've thought about them a lot lately. I've even mused on them (on Enneagram in particular) wondering why we're so obsessed with discovering who we are deep down. But I also think about the not-so-serious quizzes a lot. Like what is the best breed of dog for my lifestyle (Corgi), what kind of ice cream is my personality most like (strawberry), and what Hogwart's house am I sorted into (Ravenclaw)? And now I want to know, what kind of blogger are you?

So? What do you think about quizzes? Are you intrigued by them? Love learning more about yourself? Want to incorporate them into your marketing plan? I’d love to chat about it!

And if you want to try Interact here’s my affiliate link. Have fun!

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Robyn Roste | Blogging Year in Review

This last year I approached blogging in a new way, even though this blog is not new. So I wanted to do a little blogging year in review in order to capture my progress as well as set public goals for 2018.

Robyn Roste | blogging year in review

My blogging journey (if you’ll indulge me) has gone from online journal to travelogue to lifestyle blog to what it is now…somewhat less random and hopefully helpful insights into content marketing for freelance writers. Or, at least, that’s the direction I’m trying to point everything.

Hence the new approach.

While I am strolling down memory lane for a moment I don’t want this to be too self-serving. I want to do a quick overview of what I did and why, how it worked, and what I will do moving into 2018.

Robyn Roste Blogging Year in Review

Before the official review I’ll give you some context. For 10 weeks in the summer of 2016 I took a blogging course from Fizzle called Start a Blog that Matters. Now, we already know my blog isn’t new. But I was stuck. I’ve been on a meandering journey for many years and have never known where my blog was going (if anywhere). Was it for fun? Did it have a career purpose? What did I want it to be? I needed a fresh start. So I took this course and dreamed of creating something that matters. From the dreaming, brainstorming, and research I came out with a couple directions I could go: keep the blog casual and let it peter out like so many other lifestyle blogs I see getting retired (a fine decision btw, no judgment) or plot out a course and give my blog a vision and purpose.

The decision

It wasn’t an easy decision to be honest. First, because it’s hard to put yourself out there. You worry about so many things like what if you have nothing to say, what if people don’t like you, what if people don’t even notice you, what if it doesn’t work out and you just waste your time, etc. Second, because it’s hard work. And I’m pretty busy. I have my regular day job, I have my freelance writing and marketing clients, and I have all my other activities and hobbies plus boring things like housework and trying to have a social life. So I had to decide if this was important enough to me to put time and effort into even if it didn’t go anywhere.

I pondered this for a while. A few months. And then in January 2017, I went for it. I built a content calendar, a publishing schedule, set goals, and committed to give it a shot.

Blogging Year in Review: Goal 1—Post once per week

Through the blogging course I learned the importance of setting goals within your control. Publishing a blog once per week is something I can control so it’s a good goal. Increasing my traffic by 1,000 per cent is not something I can control so it is not a good goal.

How did it go?

Before I had a plan and a system I thought this would be difficult but it turns out when you have everything plotted out ahead of time, most of the guesswork disappears and you just sit down and write. My goal was to publish once per week and I did that, every Tuesday from January 10 till today, December 26. I also published extra posts here and there when inspired, I think it was to prove to myself I could do it.

Here’s the breakdown

  • 40 posts on content marketing, blogging, and freelance writing
  • 32 posts on book, movie, or product reviews
  • 6 sponsored posts or brand collaborations

The final analysis

Although I focused my content plan on marketing and freelance writing, I allowed for other types of posts as well. I think part of me was nervous about running out of things to say and part of me still can’t let go of the lifestyle blogger in me. But when I see 40 posts on theme, I’m pretty happy.

Blogging Year in Review: Goal 2—Set a regular writing time and stick to it

I’m not a routine person but I’ve learned the importance of routines if you want to do good work on deadline. Talent isn’t enough and inspiration doesn’t strike on command. So unless you don’t need money you have to figure out how to set aside creative idealism and just do the work. I knew there was no way I could achieve my weekly blogging goal unless I got blog writing into my schedule. Otherwise I would melt in stress and make life miserable for everyone around me. I know this because this has happened before, which is why I stepped back from blogging once my freelance career picked up. So how to add it back in…after much pondering I realized I had to get up earlier. So I did. I can’t say it was easy but I can say I decided to do it, did it, and stuck with it. I prioritized morning writing time and it got done. Simple as that.

Blogging Year in Review: Goal 3—Grow email list to 1,000 subscribers

I’m putting this here even though I’ve already explained a goal like this is not a good goal because it’s not in my control. It was something I thought I had to do after going through Jeff Goins’ The Writer’s Roadmap: 12 Steps to Making a Living Writing and I spent a lot of time stressing over it when it wasn’t happening. So I’ll admit it here because I’m thinking some of you also have this type of goal in your mind and are disappointed when you don’t hit your numbers. I can relate.

Here’s how I’m re-framing this goal for 2018

  1. Produce high quality content that will help my target readers
  2. Offer valuable opt-ins to encourage my target readers to sign up for my email list
  3. Write high-quality emails to my readers to make it worth being on my email list
  4. Get my content in front of my target readers as often as possible
  5. Listen to feedback and tweak as necessary

What this looks like is still wanting 1,000 people on my email list, but doing more to earn those email addresses rather than just hoping and wishing they’ll find me and sign up for my list. It means working a bit harder on creating the right offers, making more connections with people who already speak to my ideal readers, and putting myself out there even more. Gah.

Blogging Year in Review: Goal 4—Get an agent

This is by far the scariest goal to admit. Because saying you want to get an agent and then that you have these bigger goals of writing books and, you know, publishing them, when it’s not a sure thing or even an achievable thing means you might not reach your goals. And then everyone will know you failed.

But here I am, telling you the truth. This is what I’m reaching for and what all my work is moving towards. I have my idea, I have my direction, and I’m going to give it my best shot. And if I don’t make it? Well, I guess we’ll see how I feel. Maybe I’ll keep trying, maybe I’ll regroup and make a new plan…it’s difficult to say without knowing where I’ll be at.

How did it go?

I gave myself a goal of coming up with three book ideas by October 2017. This was a strategic date because I also purchased a weekend pass to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference (which was way outside my price comfort zone so I knew it would push me to make the most out of the weekend) and had the chance to pitch my book idea to an agent. And you know what, I did it. I came up with ideas, put together my pitch, and pitched. And I didn’t just pitch to one agent, I pitched to three. And it was hard and scary and amazing. I got a hard no, I got a not right now, and I got a request for a book proposal. So there you go. You can see where my 2018 goal is going, right? Finish that book proposal and get it IN!


Blogging Year in Review—Top 5 Posts of 2017

In case you missed it, in case you’re interested, in case you want to know what other people paid attention to this year

  1. Why I Got Up At 4:30 a.m. for 21 Damn Early Days
  2. I love that this is my top post from 2017 because it was what made all of this work. It was my biggest challenge, my biggest success, and thing thing I’m still most proud of from this year. I prioritized my writing by getting up at a ridiculous hour and have seen the fruit of my efforts. I’m filled to the brim with gratitude for this experience and hope others can have this experience as well.

  3. Exquisitely Imperfect: Choosing Life Unfiltered [new book]
  4. Second on the list is a book I contributed to, which was published in February 2017. I wrote about the publishing experience and hope it gives people some perspective on just how little control you have over the process when it’s not your book but also how exciting and fulfilling it is to see your hard work in print. Such a rush.

  5. Best Gifts for Writers | Gift Guide
  6. I put this together in October to try something I’ve heard a lot of Mom Bloggers do—gift guides. I asked a few writers in my circle what they would like for Christmas and built a list of 32 pretty cool writer-related gift ideas. I thought they were good hints but I will say I didn’t receive a single item on the list from my family for Christmas. So perhaps it hasn’t permeated quite that far yet.

  7. How a Marketing Tweak Re-launched JenniMarie’s Business
  8. This is a case study I wrote after working with photographer JenniMarie on a launch strategy for her last-ditch effort to get her wedding photography business up and running before giving up on the business once and for all. It’s an incredible story and one I think you should read if you doubt the importance (or power) of marketing. You just need the right strategy.

  9. Water Bottle Trends
  10. I LOVE that this is in my top five because I treated it like a throwaway post. It’s a review of a trendy water bottle my husband bought me, which I put on the blog because I found it interesting on a personal level. What I didn’t know was other people would think so too. It went viral on Facebook and I’ve heard from MORE than a few friends that they’ve purchased a similar bottle because of that post. It wasn’t sponsored or connected to an affiliate commission at all so this was all for free. And I’m happy about that, I was trying to connect and am pleased it did just that.

This last year I approached blogging in a new way, even though this blog is not new. So I wanted to do a little blogging year in review in order to capture my progress as well as set public goals for 2018.

So there we go. I hope this blogging year in review demonstrates what a little planning and goal-setting does for your blog. Maybe you’re one step closer to reworking your blog? Or getting it up and running again? Are you up for the challenge?