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Sid is an internet entrepreneur, freelance writer and blogger.
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admin has written 56 articles so far, you can find them below.


5 Freelancing Ideas for Dummies

Here are my freelancing ideas for everyone. I have deliberately left out the more specialized skills. I’ll include a more detailed post for the more professional among my readers. Here, I discuss freelancing ideas that everyone can use – without the need of specialized skill set. For this reason, you shouldn’t expect to earn a very high income from these ideas. Instead, use them as a good passive income stream that you can tap into when you need more money or want to supplement your income. In due course of time, you can earn a full-time wage with these methods.

Freelancing Idea – 1: Simple Data Entry

Data entry is one of the least specialized skills on the internet that sure still is in demand. You don’t need any special skills, except the very basic ones. However, it helps a lot to have a good work ethic. The downside should be obvious – since a lot of people can do the job, it drives the wages down. Data entry is well suited for people in countries where the cost of living isn’t as high as the Western world. Otherwise, you would have to spend a ton of hours to make livable wages with data entry.

The good thing of course is that there are plenty of data entry jobs. And yes, please don’t go for the scam advertisements that promise you $40/hour for data entry. Read more about internet scams.

Freelancing Idea – 2: Content Writing

The real problem with writing is everyone who has studied English in high-school (or not) thinks he is a writer. Not so. Words are the backbone of the internet and most companies are looking for quality content in the end, no matter how much they spend on social media or PPC advertising. The real problem is, the range of skills and prices that a writer demands is mind-bogglingly huge.

If you are a really high quality writer, you can write for magazines or perhaps even publish a book. You will be paid by the word. However, for those without a writing background, a good way to start is by writing content. It always helps to learn more about SEO. With this knowledge, an average writer can provide a unique value to the employer that otherwise good writers (aka creative writing majors) cannot.

Freelancing Idea – 3: Create Sales Pitches

Again, creating sales pitches isn’t as hard as it sounds. The opportunity, however, exists everywhere. If you are a top-notch online copywriter, you need to belong to an elite group. However, everyone of us can get started. Just look around, you see ample ideas for sales pitches that you can create.

Think of a Adwords ad that is horribly written. It is not hard to find and you don’t even need to go out of your way to spot them. Offer the company your services as a creative sales pitch writer and do a better job. You would be surprised how many companies don’t bother to make their online advertisements better.

Freelancing Idea – 4: Sell Your Skills

People tend to think of freelancing as requiring specialized skills. Not so. You can just be a casual freelancer. All you need to do is to promote yourself. There are plenty of places where you can sell your skills, from specialized freelancing sites like oDesk to very broad and general job boards like craigslist.

In addition to getting online, you can always consider looking around your neighborhood and placing flyers which sell your skills. Ideas are plenty – always look for an opportunity.

Freelancing Idea – 5: Learn a Professional Skill

Yes, the easiest way to get started is simply to learn! The internet today has rendered traditional degrees almost moot – you can get the best and highest quality education online on any topic that you want. MIT’s OpenCourseWare is an excellent example of this. You don’t need to go back to school and earn a degree. You can simply learn a skill online, practice by taking on some real assignments with small projects, learn and perfect this skill and you can start earning your livelihood online!

What skills should you learn? This of course depends on you and your interests. You should look for skills that are in demand and for which people are ready to pay a good amount of money, like web-designing or programming. These are not for everyone but if you can pick these up, you can get a great head-start in your freelancing career.

If you are completely new to freelancing, don’t go out and quit your job yet! Learn the skills, learn the ups and downs of the process and then decide if you can live off what you make freelancing. There are many factors to consider, so make an informed decision.

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Guest Post on ProBlogger

My guest post on ProBlogger

Problogger logoI started this blog only a little more than a month ago, but I am not new to blogging. I am documenting my journey and providing my readers with valuable tips on blogging and how to monetize their blogs/sites.

It seemed only natural that I should share my story, which I did. I have written on How I Make Money from my Blog but as you can imagine, my blog gets only a few visitors every day, being very new. I wanted a wider audience with whom I can share my story (and obviously also to promote my blog!) and what better way than to publish on the best of the best – ProBlogger!

It is almost always suggested that you should start small with guest posting. Get a few posts published in smaller sites and then look for the big fish. However, I didn’t want to take that approach because I wanted the best of my work to be published on the best of the sites.

So I got down and documented my journey that should be interesting to read to the readers of ProBlogger. I submitted my guest post and waited for them to get back. After about 4 days, I got a reply stating it was a great addition to ProBlogger. What an honor! Anyway, they gave me a date and scheduled it almost a month after I submitted – I think they already have a huge pipeline of guest posts so they will not appear immediately as soon as you publish your post. This is not surprising, considering the popularity of the site.

I naturally got a spike in traffic to my blog as well. I have given links to both my blogs – this one and the one that is the primary source of my income. I have observed that apart from the visitors coming through ProBlogger, Google Analytics shows a spike in (direct) visits as well, which in all probability is due to the guest post. How much spike? I’ll leave that for the end of the month when I report my full monthly stats ­čÖé

Till that time, adios and don’t forget to check out my first Guest Post on ProBlogger.

 

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8 Places to Get Ideas for Blogging

Blogging IdeasWell, you did it! You put in your hours and now you have a blog started. You have chosen from dozens of domain names, tracked down reliable hosting, wrote a post or two, and now you are clueless as to what to do. How do you get ideas for blogging?How do you get ideas for blogging? Every blogger must have asked this question at one point or another. If you choose a niche you are passionate about, you are bound to have a lot of ideas in mind. Off the top of your head, you can probably write down 50 or 100 ideas for blogging. However, what after that? Blogs are wonderful in the sense of providing an evergreen supply of ideas. People visit your blog hoping to get something new, something you have never said before. Every blogger needs fresh ideas for blogging from sources other than what he can directly come up with.

Here are some sources for blogging ideas that should help jog your grey cells. By following some or all of them, you should have a supply of never-ending ideas for blogging on your niche. If you ever get into a dry spell, these will certainly help you get out.

Blogging Idea-1. Read, Read, Read

Reading is an important part any authority blog. It is through general reading that you get several ideas for blogging and you know what you can write about. You don’t write what you read – just by knowing about the topic at hand, you can get a lot of ideas.

Here, I am not talking just about reading other blogs, but reading in general. Do you blog about dogs? How about reading an encyclopedia article on dogs and their types? You can get an infinite supply of articles from there and then you can branch out – pick a topic which seems interesting and then do further research. You can read whitepapers or even published journal and conference papers for the ultimate authority in which you write. You can read biographies or stories of successful people in your niche. All these will give you good ideas to get started.

Blogging Idea-2: Know What Other Bloggers are Saying

It really helps to know what others bloggers are talking about. No, I don’t mean copy their ideas or “rewrite” their content – it is actually the worst thing that you can do. However, by reading other blogs in your niche, you will get very good ideas and an overall sense of things, especially if you look at highly successful bloggers.

In the niche of internet marketing/blogging/making money online, there are some really amazing blogs, like ProBlogger. By reading some of the posts in this blog, you can get some good ideas.

Blogging Idea-3: Find out What People Want Through Forums

Forums are an excellent platform to really know what people want and what they are looking for. If they are having some trouble and you are able to answer it, your blog is going to be the authority source in that niche. Unfortunately, however well versed you may personally be, people will never know it or visit your blog unless you put it out there. For this, forums are a great starting place.

Forums allow you to follow a discussion and see what people think, what their needs are and what they might want in the future. Being ahead in your niche is one of the best tools to build authority – if you can stay ahead of the crowd, you are a sure winner.

Of late, places like Yahoo Answers or Wiki Answers can also provide some good ideas about what to write about.

Blogging Idea-4: Browsing Through Article Directories

Browsing through article directories can give you some very good information about what you want to write. In addition, it is a treasure-trove of potential ideas. However, don’t follow the format of an article directory for a blog – articles in these directories are just a marketing ploy to have people visit their websites, so it is more of an advertising material than providing valuable information. In your blog, you can take the same idea and explore it in-depth, far more than what others do. Of course you can always visit the contributor’s website to know more about the topic, if you feel the need to. However, even just browsing through all the topics present in a niche in an article directory should get some creative juices flowing.

Blogging Idea-5: Take Help from Google Adwords Tool

Google Adwords keyword tool is a powerful tool that lets you search for ideas if you type in any word or phrase. The Adwords tool is designed for advertisers to know what people are searching for and bid accordingly on PPC advertisements. However, you can use it to get some blogging ideas, all the while knowing how many people have actually searched for this phrase. It is a very powerful SEO tool so you can try to incorporate the keyword in your post.

Blogging Idea-6: Look for the Latest News

The news is a great source for new and fresh blog ideas and blog content. You can also come across as an authority in the niche. An additional advantage is that if you cover the news well, you can get a good spike in traffic while people are searching for what is hot. These will be targeted people and you can convert them into permanent readers.

You can create alerts using Google News in your niche. Almost every niche will have something in the news which is interesting to talk about. If you are blogging about something that changes rapidly, like politics or technology, this should be your main goldmine for ideas to blog about.

Blogging Idea-7: Just Ask!

This method works very well for blogs that are active and have some active commentators. You will need some authority and traffic before you can pull this off, but it is a great way to know what you should blog about. Just ask your readers and take their suggestions. You will know what people want and what your readers are looking to read on your blog. All this for free!

Today, you can use social media like Facebook or Twitter to accomplish the same and people are more likely to give out suggestions through Facebook than through comments. You can always just use them together.

Blogging Idea-8: Look Through Your Analytics

You will be surprised how many ways people using search engines can find your blog! If you have decent traffic, a thorough analysis of your analytics, more specifically the keywords used in search engines to find your blog, can prove an invaluable resource. By targeting these keywords more directly, you might rank even higher and thus get loads of higher traffic.

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How to Price Banners on your Site/Blog

Banner PricingHow do you price banners on your blog or site? This is a complicated question and there isn’t a straightforward answer. However, let me attempt to answer it with certain examples and cases which can provide a useful guideline to get started. If you have an idea of how much banners cost on other sites, you might get an idea how to price banners on your own blog or site.

I have previously written about how to sell banners on your blog and it gives a useful guide to know how you can find advertisers and how you can get started. In this post, I attempt to answer another important question – how to price the banners. Once you have selected a list of companies, businesses or websites whom you wish to contact for an offer for banner, the next step is to let them know the price. Here are a few guidelines to follow –

Tip-1: Try to Find Similar Sites

This is a simple advice which actually helps a lot. If you can find sites that are similar to you and see how much they charge for a banner, you can get a fair estimate of how much you might want to charge.

This of course depends on the niche, traffic, Alexa rank and a host of other factors, but it still gives you a fair idea.

In the niche of internet marketing and blogging, here are a couple of banner advertising prices that I could find:

1. Wassup Blog: This blog charges $30/month for a 125×125 banner. The site has an Alexa of 67k at the time of writing this. No idea about other stats.

2. John Chow: John Chow is one of the best known bloggers in this niche and it shouldn’t surprise you that it will be very expensive to advertise on his blog. For the same 125×125 banner, he charges $500/month. There are several other banners available with his blog as well. At the time of writing this, his Alexa is 5711 and his RSS followers are 100,000+ !

This of course is just for an idea.

Tip-2: It is all about the Niche

Yes, it is all about the niche. On my Penny Auction Blog, I sell several banner advertisements (somehow I started with 250×250 and stuck with it ever since). My traffic stats are far less impressive: 373k Alexa, ~350UV/day. However, I charge a minimum of $50/month for advertising on my blog (that is for old advertisers. For new ones, I charge higher).

So why is that? The first reason is, it is all about the niche. I write about entertainment auctions and it is generally a niche with not too many bloggers. A banner from my blog will give the sites a very regular highly interested stream of potential members. If the niche is lucrative, you should charge higher.

Tip-3: Look to Provide Value

Advertising is all about value. If you are John Chow, you can charge money simply for an advertiser to connect to your brand. However, not all of us are that lucky to have such a huge branding. So what do you do? You should provide value in other ways. I give my advertisers an option for featured blog posts to reach my readers. This provides them with great value.

Also, when a new site opens, by advertising on my blog, they are able to reach out to a very interested group of people who might want to join their site. Even if they get 100 interested visitors from my blog, the price I charge is justified (they get more). It is all about how your blog can provide value.

Tip-4: Let Advertisers Come to You

You won’t find this on my blog but this is something which you should know. It helps to have an “Advertise Here” link which advertisers can click and then reach a page that lists your pricing. This is a good strategy to let advertisers come to you. Chances are, several of your potential advertisers have at least visited your blog once. By giving them an option to advertise, you are looking for conversions. Also, make the process easy for them.

Tip-5: Learn and Adapt

Pricing advertising banners is not straightforward and you and the advertiser will seldom agree to the value of your blog or site. This is why you need to learn and change with your experience. If you get feedback from an advertiser you wrote to, learn from the feedback. Perhaps you charged too much. Or may be you should have offered a better space for the banner.

As you write out to more and more advertisers and get feedback, you will start to learn how to charge the right price for the banners on your blog.

Do you have experience selling banner space on your own site? Do you plan to do so in the future? I would love to hear from you!

Photo Credit: Peter Blanchard

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The Core Fundamentals of SEO: Quality Content

SEO Quality ContentIt isn’t surprising that there is a lot of discussion all around on SEO. As more and more of the economy shifts online, good SEO practices can make or break a business. Perhaps this is also what prompts businesses like JC Penny to use unethical SEO practices to try and game Google. It shouldn’t be surprising though – JC Penny got millions of dollars worth of shopping during the holiday season. The difference between first and second position in Google can be huge.

Which is why, you see so many techniques for SEO, “tricks” that will rank you higher in the search results. There are both the “WhiteHat” and “BlackHat” methods. Then there is the middle ground “GrayHat” methods. There are the ethical and unethical methods, there is manipulation, there is money, there is violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines. There is everything you can think of under the sun. Which is what makes ranking difficult.

It is a constant cat and mouse game between Google and webmasters. Google originally came up with PageRank, with the idea that it is not just about the keywords on the site (which is what earlier search engines used. Yea, there was a life for search engines before Google too!) but also how many other sites would like to link to it. In an ideal world, one would only link to a site if he felt the content valuable. However, in hindsight, it is easy to see how easily the system can be manipulated. What if people enter into “backroom” deals as link exchanges? Google was smart and reciprocal links aren’t as “valuable” today, so people started a “three-way link exchange”. Then of course there is the class of webmasters that buy and sell high PR ranks. There are a million things that can go on in the world of SEO.

And that brings me to the point of the article: what lies at the core, at the very heart of SEO? It is simply finding the best content. Period. It all boils down to providing value to the searcher. The way Google determines this might change from one day to another, but at the core, it is all about finding the best web pages, out of the more than trillion pages out there.

There are many tactics and strategies used by webmasters. One day it is backlinking through article marketing and another day it is blog and forum commenting. These tactics are fragile and they can change easily. After the Google Panda update, article directories were badly hit. This is in tune with Google’s idea of providing the best results to users. Without good search results, Google is dead.

So when you are building a site and want it to rank high in Google, you need to build high quality sites. This is at the heart of SEO. Read this article by Amit Singhal of Google and you will see why. Though he doesn’t go into the details, everything there has to do with content. Everything. There is no mention of linking at all in the checklist. Yes, backlinks can be very helpful but they are only a stepping stone towards what Google ultimately wants: Quality Content.

 

 

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Blogging Tips: How to be a Better Blogger

Blogging Tips: Be a Better BloggerBlogging is not just about writing, it is about connecting with an audience. Blogging can be fun and richly rewarding. Unfortunately, many bloggers do not realize the full potential of themselves or their blogs and miss out on many opportunities. Read these tips to be a better blogger.

Blogging Tip-1: Enjoy What you Write About

This is repeated very often but it is also very true. You got to find what you love and only then blog about it. Otherwise, it is very easy to give up mid-way. If the sole purpose of blogging is to make money, you might as well forget about it, as Steve Pavlina says.

If you need help coming up with the niche of your blog, just look around and see what you like. Not what you do for a living, but what you are truly passionate about. Sports? Cooking? Pets? You can be a successful blogger in any niche if you have people who share your interest. It really shows in your blog how passionate you are about what you are writing.

At least in the initial stages when you don’t have a grand audience yet, it really helps to write on what you like. This will allow you to continue writing quality posts for the few who do come to your website.

Blogging Tip-2: Bring Something Unique to the Table

Chances are, yours is just one among the thousands of blogs online on the same topic. However, don’t despair – just like every individual is unique, so is every blog. You can bring a unique flavor to your blog by just being yourself.

In addition, remember to bring something unique to the table. This is the only way you can be a better blogger than the thousands of others. Read up stuff about your niche. It is quite likely that there is something new going on in a related topic, so discuss it in your blog. Be yourself and be unique – this is my advice to be a better blogger.

Blogging Tip-3: Read. Understand. Present

Yes, you should be knowledgeable about your niche. You should know the latest developments and be able to convey it to your readers and followers. This is the way you build value. This of course doesn’t mean that you copy-paste. It means you should read about stuff, understand it, and present it from your own unique perspective.

Also, it really helps to write some general knowledge based posts for your readers. This gives an interesting historical perspective and keeps your readers wanting more. It is also a nice strategy for getting new content.

Blogging Tip-4: Share Fresh Ideas

It is very likely that you know your niche very well and understand the nuances of it. Share it with your readers. They can find a lot of re-gargled content online with the same old dull content, but you can give them more than just content. You can give them a story. Weave it around your own ideas. Bring a breath of freshness to your niche so that what you write can never be found elsewhere. It is not just the knowledge your readers are after, they are after value. And your story is a great way for them to find value.

Blogging Tip-5: Connect with your Readers

Connecting with your readers is an important part of blogging. This is unlike a website, which can just be a storehouse of content. You have to be more than an encyclopedia – you have to have a voice and connect with your readers. You should give them what they came here for. Know their needs, understand them, and provide them with something good, useful and interesting.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and your blogging tips!

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7 oDesk Cover Letter Tips

oDesk cover letter

At oDesk cover letter is perhaps the most important aspect of your application. An oDesk cover letter needs to be written in a way that is relevant to the job at hand. A cover letter can make or break your job application, irrespective of your other portfolio items or previous experience. Therefore, it is extremely important to write the best letter possible to create a good first impression.

There are many misconceptions about writing oDesk cover letters or in fact any other freelance job opening cover letters. Part of this is because people tend to take the advice given for traditional cover letters while applying for offline jobs and use it for oDesk cover letters. This hardly works ever, if at all. Freelancing is a whole different ball game altogether and you need to understand the nuances of online communication.

In addition, it is worthwhile to remember that small business differ in their hiring process compared to big businesses at least when it comes to hiring freelancers. If you fail to know the distinction, you run the risk of losing a very good job opportunity. So here are some oDesk cover letter tips that will help you make that killer first impression. I am giving you these tips as a very successful oDesk freelance writer, with over 50 feedback ratings and a score of 5.00/5.00.

You will also find my 7 oDesk Tips article very useful if you are applying for freelancing jobs at oDesk or elsewhere.

oDesk Cover Letter Tip-1: Don’t Beat Around the Bush

This is one of the most common mistakes made by people applying to jobs at oDesk. A cover letter should be short and to the point. Does the job require designing a web page? Don’t talk about your C++ skills. Does the job require blog writing? Don’t talk about your experience in writing academic essays. Get to the point, be precise and show that you are fit for the job.

If you beat around the bush, it can mean that

  • You haven’t read the job description fully, which is bad from the employer’s point of view.
  • Worse, the employer thinks you are just copy-pasting your cover letter instead of preparing one for the job, so you are not interested.

You would of course not want to sound as either of the above, so once again, don’t beat around the bush: be precise and to the point.

oDesk Cover Letter Tip-2: Proofread your Cover Letter

You will be surprised by how many mistakes you can find in a typical cover letter at oDesk. This includes both spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Make sure you proofread what you have written. If possible, let someone else do the checking as well, say a friend. It is usually hard for you to spot errors in a piece that you have written yourself.

One very important thing to remember is never to make spelling errors. These are instant turn offs. I always use Mozilla Firefox while writing a cover letter, so any spelling mistakes are immediately highlighted. If not, write it in MS Word and paste it in the main cover letter area.

If you have confusion regarding some elements of grammar, always check a reference. Check out the common grammatical errors and see if you make any of those. If needed, use a grammar reference guide as well.

oDesk Cover Letter Tip-3: Never Copy-Paste

Here is a little trick that I use whenever I apply to any job at oDesk. Each job is unique and there are unique skills required. There could always be some overlap, but my overall tone needs to be consistent throughout. So, whatever happens, I never copy-paste anything into my cover letter. Not even my standard qualifications, my strengths, my feedback, etc. I write them all from scratch.

Why do I do that? Because of consistency. It is not hard for an experienced person to judge if you have heavily copy-pasted your cover letter and have a generic tone instead of a specific one for the job. Be on the safe side,

oDesk Cover Letter Tip-4: Apply Keeping the Job in Mind

Never ever write a very general cover letter which has nothing to do with the job in hand. If you don’t copy paste, half the battle is won. Next, you should read the job description. List out what skills and experience is required for the job. This may not be stated explicitly, so you should be able to understand what skills are required. Now demonstrate that you have those skills. Every sentence you write should be written keeping the job in mind. Of course you want your strengths to be shown, but only as relevant to the job. You may be a national level sprinter, but don’t mention it on a cover letter applying for a PHP programming job. Always be relevant.

oDesk Cover Letter Tip-5: Point to your Strengths

oDesk has many tools that help you show your previous experience and work. You should complete your full profile before you get started on the site and before you write any single cover letter.

Now, look at the strengths in your profile. You might have a very good portfolio and may have previously written for magazines and newspapers but be new to oDesk. In that case, your previous experience is your greatest strength. You should mention it in the cover letter. If you have previously designed web pages, show your work.

For those who are a little older at oDesk, mentioning about your feedback might be a good way to catch the attention of the employer if it is good. I often mention that I am one of the highest rated writers at oDesk with a perfect feedback of 5.00/5.00. This helps my application to stand out.

Sometimes, if you don’t have a lot of previous experience at oDesk or elsewhere but are good at what you do, consider giving many relevant oDesk tests. If you are among the Top 10% or 1st place, it is worth mentioning in your cover letter, especially if you are new and don’t have a lot of feedback.

In the end, it is all about standing out. The employer probably gets 15-20 applications on an average for every job posting, and much more in some cases. At a quick glance, he should know that you are worth considering, so write something that distinguishes you from the crowd. Create a unique selling point.

oDesk Cover Letter Tip-6: Always Follow Instructions

It is very important to follow the instructions given in the job posting. If the job requires that you show some samples of your work, show the samples. If it requires you to send a detailed resume, send one. Never neglect the steps outlined in a job posting.

In addition, a lot of people, of late, require you to include a letter or phrase at the beginning to ensure that you have read the whole job description. Without this, they will not even read your cover letter and your entire effort will go waste. So make sure you follow such instructions carefully as required.

oDesk Cover Letter Tip-7: Show you are Interested

Always show your interest. You can include a sentence or two about why you think the job is exciting for you. Talk about enjoying a challenging assignment and relate the current job to your previous experience working.

Sometimes, to show that you are interested and serious, include an email and phone number. It is highly unlikely they will call you, but it shows that you are serious and interested in the job.

So here are some oDesk cover letter tips that I have to share from my experience working on oDesk. Am I missing something? Do you have something to add? I would love to hear from you!

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