Discover Your Ideal Reader

No matter if you’re a freelance writer or an author, knowing who your ideal reader is will make a huge difference to your writing career.

Ideal Reader

What is an Ideal Reader?

This is a fictional persona to whom your writing will most appeal. While this is not a scientific process, creating a profile helps you write with purpose and enables you to craft elements into your writing that surprises and delights this person.

Your ideal reader represents who you are writing to. It’s one person, not many people. This is a specific process and if you do it right, your ideal reader will come alive in your mind.

What this means is you need to figure out who your ideal reader is, what his or her interests are, and why your ideal reader reads. Your most important question is why will your ideal reader be interested in your book? Whatever the why, all readers have one
and it’s your job to discover it for your ideal reader.

Your Ideal Reader is Your Biggest Fan

When you know who you’re writing to it gives your writing purpose and direction. This may seem like a strange exercise to go through but trust me, it’s a key step. Even if it’s a loose definition, think about the person (real or fictional) who would most be interested in reading your work.

ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS

  • What does this person tend to focus on?
  • On social media, what does your ideal reader like sharing about?
  • From what you can gather, what does he/she most need/want/desire?

Once you know the answers to those initial questions answer this one: what problem are you solving for your ideal reader through your writing?

Through thinking about your ideal reader you should have a few words and phrases jotted down. Take a look and add a few more words to the page. This time, write down things about your ideal reader. Noting things like hopes, dreams, challenges or family dynamics can help you paint a picture. It can be vague or specific, long or short. Just jot down as much as you can think of in a five-minute period.

Look at the list you came up with and compare it to your first one—are you seeing a character emerge? Write a biography for this person—whatever comes to mind with as much detail as you can include. Remember, this is a creative exercise. You’re trying to imagine who the person is who can’t wait to read what you write. The more human you can make this person, the better.

Here are a few marketing applications

In essence, marketing your writing is simple—put your writing in front of the people who will love it. If you have an idea of who your ideal reader is then finding those (real life) people is a lot easier. The more you know, the better.

  • What stores do they shop in? Now you know where to sell your work
  • Where do they hang out? Now you know where to hold workshops or readings
  • What is their favourite social media platform? Now you know where you need to be online
  • What are their biggest fears? Now you know how to help them
  • What do they care most about? Now you know how to relate to them
  • What type of marketing will they best respond to? Now you know what you need to do

There are a lot of ways you can find your ideal reader (or book buyer, or ideal client, etc.) so it’s important not just to parrot what you see others doing online but to find something that works for you and feels natural.

No matter if you're a freelance writer or an author, knowing who your ideal reader is will make a huge difference to your writing career.

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SEO Tips and Tricks for Freelance Writers

While we may understand the importance of search engine optimization on an intellectual level, these SEO tips and tricks will (hopefully) help freelance writers understand how to vet a keyword to give their articles the best chance of being discovered.

SEO Tips and Tricks

SEO Tips and Tricks for Freelance Writers

Finding keywords is just the first step. Next is to figure out if it’s a good keyword or a bad keyword. But what does that mean?

Here’s how I like to think about good versus bad keywords. A good keyword means if I use it my article will have a chance of being discovered on the Internet. A bad keyword means it’s too competitive so don’t use it.

Keyword vetting to me means this. If I write an article about the keyword I’ve selected, will it have a chance to hit the first page of Google?

How to vet a keyword | SEO Tips and tricks

Once I’ve brainstormed my keyword ideas I take my top ones to KWFinder and do a quick check for difficulty.

It’s a simple keyword research tool to use—you pop in your word or phrase into the search bar and then click “Find Keywords.” A few seconds later your results populate and you can consider your options.

I thought I’d include a couple screenshots from my research for this post. After doing my initial research I was down to two key phrases for this post: SEO tips and tricks or keyword research tools. My results? The keyword “SEO tips and tricks” is possible to rank for with a difficulty score of 39 out of 100. The keyword “keyword research tools” is hard to rank for with a difficulty score of 61 out of 100. You can see these results on the right-hand side of the screenshot.

On the left-hand side of the screenshot you can see variations on the keyword and the difficulty associated with it. It helps you see what people are already ranking for and helps you come up with a strong direction to go with your article.

Final thoughts about seo tips and tricks

If you want to try KWFinder out there is a free account, which gives you five keyword searches every 24 hours. It’s a commitment-free way to try out the tool and decide if it’s a good fit for your writing flow.

You can make search engine optimization as complicated as you want. And you can make keyword research as expensive as you want. There are a lot of shiny objects in this world. But until you’re ready for that level of SEO, I suggest taking a simplified approach to vetting keywords.

Do you have a process for vetting keywords? I’d love to hear about it!

SEO Tips and Tricks: 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.

5 Great Sites to Get Free Stock Photos

These days there are endless sites to get amazing free stock photos. There are so many sites offering royalty-free images there is no longer any reason to take any old image from the Internet and use it on your website.

Free Stock Photos

What are royalty-free images?

There’s a difference between free stock photos and royalty-free stock photos, although they can be one and the same. At times. A free stock image means you can use it free-of-charge. Royalty-free means you can use the image however you want but you may have to purchase it.

When you’re on a stock photo website, take a moment to review the terms and conditions. Sometimes you can download a free stock image but there are restrictions in how you can use it or you must credit the source and/or photographer. Some sites allow you to use an image once for free and require you to purchase a license to use it again or in another way. Some free stock image photo sites are also royalty-free and allow you to use the images for commercial use.

There are some great commercial use, royalty-free free stock photo websites out there. And that’s important to us because we’re writers, not photographers. We need the help! While I do purchase stock images and take my own photos from time to time, I mix in a good amount of free stock photos on my website and social media.

Places to Get Free Stock Photos

Pixabay

I’ve talked about Pixabay before and I still recommend it. It’s a great place to go for general images. The free stock photography site offers more than a million images and videos including illustrations and vector graphics. It’s worth checking out.

Unsplash

Unsplash is the hipster mecca of free stock photos. These beautiful, free photos are gifted by the world’s most generous community of photographers, according to the website. All photos are licensed under Creative Commons Zero, meaning you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.

Gratisography

These quirky, creative, always free photos are toted as the world’s quirkiest collection of free high-resolution pictures. According to the website, these free stock photos are comprised of the world’s best, most creative images and are free of copyright restrictions.

Styled Stock

Self-described as feminine stock photography, this site offers free stock photos focused on fashion, lifestyle, food, floral, entrepreneur and beauty. These images are available to adapt and use them for commercial purposes without attributing the original author or source.

New Old Stock

This site curates old photos for personal and non-commercial use, at minimum. Links to the original image location are provided for users to check the licensing details for themselves. Most or all of the images available on this site are in the public domain, which means no permission is required to use these free stock photos at all.

These are a few of my go-to sites for free stock images and I hope you find great images from them.

But if we’re taking free stock photos, how do photographers get paid?

I wanted to address this objection because this freelance lifestyle isn’t easy. And, if you’re like me, you’re friends with professional photographers and you want to support them whenever possible.

And you may be wondering if taking free stock photos is a bit hypocritical since many photographers are freelance and we work so hard to not work for free.

When you use free stock photos you’re not stealing from the photographer. Many of them are trying to make a name for themselves and are gifting their images to the community as part of their long-term strategy. Once they gain a larger following they’re able to make money from their photography through bookings, selling images to their follows and fans, and many other income streams. They’ve decided by offering some things for free it will help them reach their career goals.

Much like offering free advice on blogs, I might add.

Here’s the bottom line: if you don’t feel comfortable using free stock photos then don’t. Take your own or purchase them. There are upsides to not using free stock photos. Not only will your conscience be clear, you’re images will be unique and customized if you take them yourself. If you purchase stock photos your images will likely higher quality and less “all over the Internet.” So there are there’s that.

These days there are endless sites to get amazing free stock photos. There are so many sites offering royalty-free images there is no longer any reason to take any old image from the Internet and use it on your website.

Once you have great photos, here’s how to make them even better.

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.

Marketing Ideas for Writers Who Hate Marketing

It’s not like I haven’t written about marketing ideas or argued why writers need to pay attention to marketing before but it just seems to keep coming up.

Easy Marketing Ideas for Writers

So here we are again.

By the way, I talk about marketing and give out marketing ideas all the time because I believe in its power to transform people’s careers and businesses.

But what if you’re the type of writer who just wants to write and have people read it? You don’t want to bother with the muss and fuss of marketing. Or maybe you’re the type of writer who thinks marketing means selling out. Are you someone who thinks marketing makes you one of those pushy sales people who alienates friends and family?

Let’s get something straight: marketing doesn’t have to be like that. So when I hear excuses like I’m too busy to do marketing or I don’t need to do marketing or I don’t have the money to invest in marketing I think…you don’t get it. None of those things are valid.

If you’re saying any of these things here’s what you mean: you don’t want to do marketing. Marketing doesn’t have to take a lot of time and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. And it’s fine if you don’t want to do marketing. But don’t expect people to find you. “If you write it they will come” isn’t a thing. It doesn’t work like that.

End of tough love part. Beginning of marketing ideas part.

I wanted to give writers who hate marketing (or are afraid of it) a few easy marketing ideas for easing in. I do hope these help.

  • Learn how to incorporate your writing into casual conversation. There is a way to talk about who you are and what you do without coming across as promotional or insincere. Figure this out and you won’t even realize you’re marketing
  • Focus on the benefits your writing offers others. This is one of those amazing marketing things I love teaching people. Stop talking about YOU and YOUR work. Flip it around and talk about its impact. People don’t care about what you do, they care about the benefit they’ll get from working with you or reading your work
  • Talk about your writing on social media. Consider your social media platforms as places where you can attract new readers. Talk about your writing in a natural way, like you do with your friends, and see who you can inspire

Just a reminder, these days if you’re a writer hoping to become an author, you need to do your own marketing. And you need to do it long before your book comes out. No matter if you’re self-publishing or traditional publishing, you are the driver of the marketing vehicle. If you want to sell books/get an agent/get a book deal/people to read your writing you have to accept marketing as a part of your life.

It's not like I haven't written about marketing ideas or argued why writers need to pay attention to marketing before but it just seems to keep coming up.

Other marketing ideas for writers