SEO Professionals Listen Up! Penguin 2.0 Launched

Well, I should probably rephrase that. Search engine optimizers that are worth their price will have already known about the Penguin 2.0 update and will have implemented strategies to bolster their sites’ PageRank. If you missed the memo though, or you’re new to the SEO world, now is the time to pay attention.

For the most part, sites with poor backlink profiles were the most affected by the update. Namely, a lot of porn sites plummeted in the rankings. We’re talking as much as 50%! That’s bad folks. But it doesn’t have to be bad for you. Penguin is designed to make sure the top search results are high quality. And if you’re making high quality, relevant content, you’re already on the right track. In fact, there are steps you can take right now to keep your site’s rank in place. Whether you manage several sites or just want to get your lone site to rank higher, you can make the almighty Penguin happy.

A lot of people have the entirely wrong idea about SEO. They think they need to take shortcuts or do shady, sneaky things to get their sites to rank higher. But this is so wrong and will put you on the fast track toward a site that gets punished. Instead of trying to figure out how to battle Penguin and get around it, you need to learn to avoid it altogether! The following infographic from Brafton ought to motivate you to never pick a fight with Penguin (you won’t win!). Plus, there are some cool tips to boost your PageRank and/or keep it from slipping:

Brafton's Infographic: How To Avoid A Fight With Penguin

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Learning How (and When) to Say “No” (And “Yes,” When Appropriate)

Sometimes, I need to say “no.”

Whether it’s to a project or social engagement, I need to say “no.” However, more often than not, I say “yes.”

I say “yes” to social plans and “yes” to web content projects. I say “yes” to blog management gigs and I say “yes” to article assignments. I say “yes” to Bob and I say “yes” to Jane. I say “yes” to everyone.

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Source: donnamarijne

And sometimes, it bites me in the ass.

Don’t get me wrong, saying “yes” has given me an abundance of opportunity. It’s opened doors and it’s paid my bills. It’s been largely positive and I won’t stop saying “yes” anytime soon.

However, I do need to learn how to say “no.” And more so than that, when. Knowing when a project is worthwhile and when it isn’t is vital, not only to your bottom line, but also to your overall well-being. So I’ve done some soul-searching (and some Googling) and came up with the following.

Here are a few tips for learning how and when to say “no” with pointers on identifying the projects that will add to your life (to which you should unabashedly say “yes”).

  1. If the project seems like it’s more trouble than it’s worth, it probably is. I think every freelancer has gone through this at some point. Tell me if this sounds familiar? You start a project only to have the details change in the middle. Or, maybe the client isn’t very clear upfront about what he or she wants. Or, maybe you actually complete the project only to find out the client didn’t understand what he  wanted and told you to do the wrong thing. Now, he expects a revision (which amounts to a rewrite from scratch) for no additional charge. There are a million variations, all of them frustrating. In short, if the client doesn’t seem like he’s got it together, he probably doesn’t. It might be best to skip this project for the sake of your own sanity.
  2. If the client doesn’t respect you (or your time), move on. I know every freelancer has gone through this and it isn’t pretty. The client thinks you’re available 24/7. I’m not talking about emailing at 1 am when they get an idea. That’s fine because it implies I can respond at my leisure. I’m talking about the sort of client who emails you at 1 in the morning and expects a response right away! So you wake up to an inbox full of “Are you there?” and “Why aren’t you returning my messages, this is important,” and “You are being very unprofessional–I expect a timely response!” Or, maybe the client messages you on Skype “just to chat” at odd hours. Maybe she schedules an interview and then keeps you on the phone for an hour and a half. These are all things I’ve dealt with in the past and if you can smell this scent of desperation on a client, close the email or put down the phone. Say “no” to the project and just move on!
  3. Get paid for your work. Seriously. Always.* You have a skill and deserve to be paid for it. If you’re even remotely decent at your job, you deserve to be paid. This sort of ties into #2 on this list; failing to offer money for work (or an insultingly low amount) implies a lack of respect. Why work for a client who doesn’t respect you?
  4. If a project gives you the opportunity to broaden your skill set, and it’s a skill set you want to have, do it. Being a freelancer is a funny thing. Once you reach a certain level, you can pick and choose who you work with. After a while, you learn what’s worthwhile and what’s not. So, if you come across a project that pays lower than your usual rate but will provide hands-on training in web design (and you’re a writer), go for it! Sometimes the cost/benefit analysis incorporates more than cash and that’s okay.
  5. Turning down good money is okay (sometimes). You don’t have to love every single project you do. That’s perfectly fine. But if you get an assignment and it’s making you cry tears of boredom, compromises your personal ethics, or makes you uncomfortable, why put yourself through the torture? Unless you need the cash, skip it. I realize most of us need the cash so this might be mute, but if you’re ever in a position where you’re living comfortably, for god sakes, say no!

I’m sure there are more tips but that’s what I’ve come up with for the moment. Let me know in the comments how and when you say “no” to projects and what signals indicate a project you just have to take.

*Sometimes exceptions can be made for those just starting out and for passion projects. For instance, if you don’t have a lot of experience and need pieces for your portfolio, go ahead if you think it’ll help. Or, if you want to get some experience writing for RPGs and the client has a decent portfolio of past work, why not give it a shot? It’s your time, after all. Spend it how you see fit. 

Weekly Writing Inspiration: April 23, 2013

I thought I’d start a new thing here on my writing blog. What’s inspiring me this week? We’ll start out with a handful of things and see how that goes. I may cut back on these or increase them depending on what my life is like at the time. But this week, I’m inspired by:

Writing inspiration

Coffee + blogging = a good morning

  1. 1/2 caf Americanos. Just enough caffeine to kick my rear in gear but not so much to leave me a jittery mess
  2. YouTube videos by Google engineer, Matt Cutts. Learning so much cool stuff. Yes, I’m that nerdy.
  3. Moving forward on projects. After stagnation on a few big projects, they’re finally moving forward again and I’m feeling really positive about them. There is actual measurable progress. Which is awesome.
  4. New routines. I’m developing new routines and plans for my blogs, which is seriously exciting. I’ve blogged forever but never consistently enough. If I want to advise people on how to “market their brands” and “increase search engine traffic” and all of those other buzzwordy things, I need to actually do it myself. It’s more work, yes, but it can only yield positive results. And dammit, I find that inspiring!

That’s all for now. I’m going to try to make this a weekly thing, as I’m sure there will be at least one thing that inspires me each week. And please feel free to share what’s inspiring you this week, whether it’s something someone said to you, a particularly fun thing you did over the weekend, or a quote you read online, I want to know!

Health and Fitness Writing & Content: It’s Sort of My Thing

When I started freelance writing back in 2004, I scraped together projects however I could manage. My first article sold was actually never published. It was about Irish step dancing. From there, I had articles picked up by a few online publications, then print like ePregnancy. Unfortunately, that magazine folded. I did some more print work for Cat Fancy and Critters USA, which was awesome. Several articles appeared in international publications as well.

However, around 2007 I needed to increase my income substantially. I was moving out of my parent’s house and couldn’t just rely on writing for magazines to pay the bills. At that point, I’d done a few content projects here and there. I wrote ebooks and press releases and all of that. Just not as much as I do now.

In fact, for the past five years, I’ve spent most of my time writing web content, SEO, and doing work for companies like crafting white papers and company bios. Still, I never lost my love for the editorial style and it pleases me greatly that my work has once again shifted toward writing for publication.

I already blogged about my gig with Fit-Journey.com, which is exciting and allows me to really stretch my creative writing muscles (see what I did there?) but I’ve neglected to mention my work for other fitness and health sites.

As a contributor to Demand Media, I write articles for several sites including The Nest, AZ Healthy Living, The Bump, eHow, and Livestrong. I will be writing about this more in the future, but I just wanted to mention it now since these articles take up a significant portion of my workload. In fact, I went on a pinning rampage on Pinterest the other day and found I’d written over 500 articles for Livestrong covering health and fitness, beauty and skincare, credit/taxes, and business. Isn’t that nuts? All this time, I was worried I didn’t have enough content to share with you all but I was obviously mistaken!

As I move forward in this niche, I was wondering if any of my readers had preferences as to the subject matter I covered? Is there any area of health and fitness that you would like to see more attention paid? I’m always looking for new angles to cover so feel free to share!