See What I Do: A Freelancer’s Life - December 2016
Why Do Freelancer Insight Blog Posts?
I love peeking into how freelancers operate their businesses. It's fascinating. It's also part of my ethos of honesty and transparency in my business. I want to show you what works and doesn't work for me, my priorities, the tools I use, and how much I get done - or don’t get done!
So, here is a month in my life as a freelance content and web designer and small business blogger - December 2016.
- Trial my new sales offer
- Try new ways to increase my newsletter subscribers
- Schedule newsletter and blog content for the month
- Set up categories on my blog
- Go on holidays!
What I actually did…
I set up a sales page for my new product launch
I’ve been planning this product idea for ages and it all starts with a new sales page on my website. So I spent a long time writing and rewriting out the objectives, benefits, and results and packaging it onto my page. Then I set it up as a disabled (hidden) page on my site until it’s ready to be published.
This page is essentially my sales plug to my potential audience so it has to be crystal clear on its purpose and benefits, or the idea will fall flat. It doesn’t matter how awesome your delivery is if people aren’t convinced to sign up in the first place. So a kick ass sales page is a must. Which equals a lot of pressure for a writer and a perfectionist like me!
My plan was to finish the page and then trial the idea with my current subscribers just after Xmas but a combination of sickness, holidays and general nerves (thanks Madam Perfectionist!) have pushed the trial date back by a month. Let’s revisit this in January!
I ramped up my social media marketing with new strategies
Less than 6 months ago, I started my digital marketing and “all that online stuff” newsletter for freelancers and small biz owners. So it’s still early days but I’ve been putting a tonne of energy into it and all of my best content. And I'm always looking into ways to increase my subscriber base.
This month, I wanted to up my game with more strategic promotion on social media sites like Twitter and Pinterest. My VA, Emma, created some specific Twitter and Pinterest graphics and we scheduled 2 posts a day in Buffer on a rotating basis. I follow the 80-20 rule of 80% other content and 20% my own and post 5-8 times daily in both platforms. So, my content is being seen regularly, and now people can see how to follow me as well.
I also wanted to start engaging with my Facebook business page more so I linked it to my Buffer account and scheduled a daily post with select content from my Twitter feed. I make sure to use only really quality content, usually with step-by-step guides and basic marketing techniques as my Facebook audience are mostly people less familiar with digital marketing for business. As well, I joined a couple of new small biz Facebook groups and have been engaging regularly with comments and links to my blog posts and newsletter.
The aim of this game is to build trust among my followers, increase my online reputation in digital marketing for freelancers and small biz owners, and ultimately, to grow my email list.
Try my newsletter out for yourself! You can unsubscribe at any time.
My social media story pitch was commissioned
I was approached last month by an editor who asked me to pitch to her website - a recruitment, networking and resource site for freelancers in the media sector. I sent her a pitch on social media and she accepted it! So, next month I’ll be submitting what is hopefully my first (and not last!) story for them.
As a content writer for businesses, I think it really adds to your street cred to have published work in your field. It also keeps me in the freelance writing game, which has been on a bit of a back foot since moving to Laos. On a more practical note, backlinks from a popular industry website is awesome for my own site’s SEO. Plus, I get paid! Win win.
I submitted 2 infographic posts for Changi Airport
I’ve been working with this client for about 6 months now and it’s quite fun and relatively straightforward because the client always provides a brief. And I don’t do the actual infographic, just the content. Changi Airport is a great client to have on my portfolio, the content churn is pretty much never ending (so the work is infinite) and it’s in the travel sector which is fun and in line with my specialties.
What’s less fun however is that this is ghostwriting, which means that my name isn’t on the articles. I’m not being vain, I swear! The downside of ghostwriting is a serious lack of backlinks, which is pretty important for SEO. And for a freelancer in the online sphere, SEO is vital. Especially when much of my work is helping other freelancers to market themselves online.
So, although I’m enjoying my work with Changi, I’m also trying to decide right now whether ghostwriting is best for my long term career.
I scheduled my blog posts and newsletter emails ahead of time
This is a big one and vital for any freelancer who wants to go on holiday, or get sick, or spend a day having a pedicure and eating French pastries (it's hypothetical!). You’ve got to have as much content as possible set up in advance. Then you can have a stress-free break on a remote, wifi-free island while your business carries on without you.
That’s the plan anyway. And I did manage to schedule 1 blog post and 3 newsletter emails in advance which was awesome. I had another blog post half finished but I reckoned without coordinating the flu with an endless number of school activities which all seemingly required parental attendance. I also reckoned without ConvertKit accidently sending out an extra week’s post on an unscheduled day. The CK technicians are still not sure how that happened!
What I didn't do on the blog: Yet again, my category page was sidetracked. January is the month!
I gave Google a heads up on all my new content
I’ve been well into the SEO space of late and am trialing my new product offer (which is SEO-related!) on my own sites and the complex world of the Google Console. One time-consuming but necessary process I did this month was to re-crawl my updated site pages. Did you know that every time you add a new page or make a change to it, including write a new blog post, you should ask Google to recrawl it? It’s a heads up for Google that there’s new information on your site, which means it will appear more quickly in searches and is therefore great for SEO and site traffic. [Don't worry if you don't/can't do this as Google will do it themselves is due course; this just moves the process along].
I changed a whole bunch of blog post titles and images this month (see below for why!) and added in an "About the author" spiel to the end of all my posts, I needed to recrawl my site. As I have blog posts scheduled to appear on social media regularly, I want the latest version to appear and not the dated one.
So, I got into my Google Console (which every site can connect to) and fed in each blog post URL one by one. The process is pretty tedious, and it’s made even longer by Google’s “I’m not a robot” captcha which kicks in after about 10 entries.
The most valuable thing I learned this month
The huge number of freelancers who struggle with depression and anxiety. It’s not surprising - freelancing is an enormous job filled with risk, blind courage, responsibility, pressure, and a vertical learning curve.
This month I wrote a post for my email list about how I have and continue to manage anxiety, which has popped up throughout my life. I’ve been very touched by the number of people who emailed me back to tell me that my post had really resonated with them.
We’re all in this together, after all.
What you need to know about: The Coschedule headline analyzer
I stumbled across this awesome SEO tool from Coschedule this month. I’m seriously in love. I was so excited to find it, I spent the next 2 hours checking all of my blog post headings and subheadings. I then had Emma redo the graphics for at least half of them. Then I checked my newsletter headings. And any other heading I could find. #nerdfun
Catchy headlines have always been a bit of a weak point of mine and now here is a tool that not only strengthens my titles for SEO but also explains why they’re good and how to improve them! I can’t believe it’s free. Check it out, immediately!
The other reason for this short working month is, of course, the holiday season! I spent 2 glorious weeks in Sri Lanka with my family, consuming as much curry as possible. A much needed holiday to round out a very busy and productive 2016!
How did your December stack up? What was the best thing you did for your business?
About the author: Lilani Goonesena is an Australian freelance writer, Squarespace web designer and blogger currently based in Vientiane, Laos. She loves helping freelancers and small businesses with web design and content, blogging and through her awesome weekly newsletter on digital marketing, social media, blogging, web design and "all that online stuff". She also writes food and travel articles for businesses and magazines, and blogs at the delectable Eat Drink Laos, just for fun.