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Content Strategy Tips - Owned vs Rented Land

On our brand new YouTube Channel, Jeanne shares her thoughts on Joe Pulizzi's famous quote, "Don't build your content house on rented land" - as well as why you should actually have a strategy for sharing content on 'rented land'.

What Is "Owned" and "Rented" Land in Content Marketing?

In content marketing, we talk about owned vs. rented digital land. This is an analogy to building a house. When you build a house, you must own the land you build it on - or else the owner of the land can kick you out of the house at any time.

 

If you build your digital version of a house, that central place where you direct your customers, clients, and readers to, on a website you neither own nor control, you are at risk of the site owner cutting off access at any time - the digital version of a landowner kicking you out of the rented land!

 

I've seen this a lot with small business owners who build their 'house' or digital business presence on a Facebook page. They even go so far as to put the page URL on their signage or business cards. That's not bad, per se, but using only Facebook as your online presence is very dangerous. Facebook can at any time cut off your access to the page, shut your page down, or decide to charge high fees. If you build your online or digital presence on a website that you own or control, you're assured it will be there as long as you want it to be there.


hom eoffice setup with computer on a desk

Why White Paper Content Marketing Boosts Market Share for B2B Technology Companies

Technology companies leverage white paper content marketing to increase branding and authority, boost market share, and increase profitability. A well-written white paper can be a lead magnet, boost brand and product visibility, and establish thought leadership.

 

B2B technology companies need more than blog posts, articles, web content, and other traditional content formats to attract quality leads because B2B prospects are unlikely to become leads if they don't feel your industry authority status. Adopting white paper content marketing establishes industry authority, wins prospects' trust, and generates quality leads.

 

A Content Marketing Institute survey reported that whitepapers (50%) are amongst the top three most effective types of content B2B marketers use for content marketing purposes, and 62% of the respondents found it most successful.

 

What is white paper content marketing? How is it structured? Why do you need it for an effective B2B content marketing campaign? How can you get the best white paper writers for your company?

What Is a White Paper?

Originally an official government report providing detailed information on a specific policy, a white paper has transcended into business.

 

It's an authoritative report that educates or informs the target audience on a specific, complex topic or concept. It's used to analyze a pain point and possible solutions in detail, with data backing up the information.

 

Primarily used by B2B companies, a white paper is heavy-duty content marketing material. It can place a company on top of the SERPs, win the audience's trust, and boost industry authority status.

 

With 71% of B2B buyers making their purchasing decisions with the help of a white paper, it's evident that a well-executed white paper marketing strategy benefits tech companies.

 

Quick Fact: Some business owners often mistake white papers for blog posts or ebooks. They're not the same; white papers differ in length and usage.

How Long Are White Papers, and What Do They Include?

White papers are typically 2,500 to 5,000 words long. Sometimes, they can stretch to over 10,000 words, depending on the need and targeted audience. Detailed white papers contain text, infographics, statistics, and other visual elements that add to the report's credibility and are available in digital formats like PDFs, HTML5, and JavaScript.

 

White papers go in-depth and take the form of typical academic research reports. They include report components like the title page, abstract, problem statement, proposed problem solution, conclusion, and references. The level of research that goes into white papers is why most B2B companies include white papers in their content marketing strategy. These companies use white papers to inform and educate their audience about concepts and topics around the problem that their products and services solve.

 

Despite informing potential clients about a company's products or services, white papers are not salesy. This non-salesy nature of white papers is part of the reason clients consider them credible and critical content marketing material for B2B companies.

Why Are White Papers Useful for B2B Technology Content Marketing?

The B2B technology industry is complex and requires high-level authority marketing. Being your target audience's go-to authority profoundly benefits your market share, visibility, and bottom line, while not living up to your potential clients' expectations can be colossal.

 

White paper content strategy and marketing is an excellent way to educate your audience about important industry concepts and trends while establishing brand authority. It is also a great way to consistently bring your brand, product, and services to your customers' attention.

 

Here are a few reasons white papers are essential content marketing materials for B2B technology companies:

 

1. Quality Lead Generation

White papers contain detailed research about a topic or problem and its solutions, so they make excellent lead-generation materials. Business executives and key company decision-makers won't mind parting with their details and even certain brand information in exchange for a white paper that contains specific information they need.

 

Gated white papers work effectively for lead generation. However, some companies don't gate their white papers; instead, they use highly persuasive CTAs to turn readers into warm leads.

Your technology company can build a database of quality and ready-to-buy leads by consistently publishing insightful white papers.

 

2. Build Trust and Establish Brand Authority

B2B customers trust authority companies more and prefer to do business with a company that understands their needs. With informative white papers addressing critical customer issues, a company can present itself as the key authority and gain the trust of its target audience.

 

Building trust and brand authority takes resources, especially when you're playing in a highly competitive market. Consistently churning out well-researched white papers shows that you know your stuff.

3. Educate Your Audience

The technology and automation industry is highly technical. As an industry player, there's a need to explain certain concepts and procedures and debunk wrong practices already accepted as industry norms. Most importantly, it's crucial to acquaint your audience with your products and demonstrate how your product solves their problems.

 

Most technology companies use a good white paper content strategy to educate C-level executives, influencers, bloggers, analysts, and other relevant bodies, on their products. When executed successfully, the message goes out that you're the B2B buyers' go-to person for credible industry information and products.

 

4. Create Brand or Product Awareness

Another key use of white paper content marketing for technology companies is brand or product awareness. Because white papers are in-depth research reports on specific complex topics and concepts, they're read by highly qualified leads with particular content needs. These readers consume all relevant information on the white paper, allowing you to market your brand or product.

 

Similarly, if you're to launch a new product, white papers can help educate your readers about your new product. You can give your B2B customers a heads-up about how your products will solve their problems more than your competitors, halting their purchasing decisions given your 'superior solution.'

 

Consistently publishing well-researched white papers will gain the followership of company executives who follow your updates, read your white papers, and recommend other executives and employees to do so too. This grows your brand reach while amassing highly qualified leads for you.

 

5. Create Evergreen and Repurposable Content

White papers are excellent resource materials for producing other B2B content like blog posts, social media content, infographics, and explainer videos because they're well-researched and cover details about a particular topic.

 

Businesses that produce many white papers never run out of content ideas, as information can always be repurposed. This, in turn, gets more people to read the white paper because customers get access to it through the small bits of content created from it.

 

6. Incite Engagements

Although B2B tech businesses use white papers for serious, official communications, they can be used on a lighter note to incite engagements and gain visibility. Thought-provoking opinions or content that challenges norms gets readers to further research topics and brands. If the white paper gets people to argue and talk about your company's views, you're hitting the right nerves. If your opinion about the topic is valid, you have earned warm, quality leads.

 

It's essential, however, to use an inoffensive tone and language in such white papers so you don't make enemies of your competitors.

 

White papers are data-packed resources often cited by online publishers and website owners to support their arguments in blog posts, articles, etc.

 

Companies that publish white papers get backlinks anytime data from their white paper is used and cited in any online publication. Quality backlinks, especially from authoritative websites, are one of the critical determinants of how useful your website looks in the eyes of search engines.

 

The more backlinks your white papers attract for your website, the more credibility and authority your website gets. This has immense SEO and content marketing benefits and increases your chances of generating leads organically via search engines.

 

How to Find the Best White Paper Writers for B2B Tech Companies

The best tech white paper writers aren't just skilled in writing; they understand marketing, human psychology, and the extensive research process involved in writing white papers. It takes expertise and experience to develop highly detailed content that's engaging and easy to read, written in the best tone and language that appeals to the audience.

 

All white paper writers are good content writers, but not all good content writers are white paper writers.

 

The critical and specific nature of B2B tech company white papers makes it crucial to hire a writer who understands that each audience and message needs a unique tone and use of language, a writer with industry experience, and who understands the business side of the industry. Of course, subject matter enthusiasm, long-form writing experience, and solid communication skills are among the first characteristics to look for in a white paper writer.

 

Seven Oaks Consulting Offers the Best White Paper Writing Services

At Seven Oaks Consulting, we have white paper writing experts focused on writing for technology companies. We help companies educate their audience, build authority, and acquire high-converting leads through white paper strategy and marketing. We've been in business for over 15 years, working with future-minded tech organizations that understand the importance of quality content marketing in today's B2B business environment.

With Seven Oaks, you have the peace of mind of working with a stable, mature, professional, and reliable team of marketing experts, white paper writers, and editors.

Reach out to us now to discuss how we can help you build authority and generate leads with white paper content marketing.


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Three Quick Tips to Write Effective Case Studies

A case study is an essential part of the B2B content marketing strategy. When a potential client reads your case studies, they have perused your website and have a very good idea of what your company can offer. This is the stage where the buyer is considering and deciding. Case studies allow them to get to know your company more and will help.

Make Sure Your Case Study Relates to Your Ideal Client

A case study is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate how your company adds value by solving problems for your clients. You’ll want to ensure your case study is relatable to your clients.

Take some time to think about your ideal client, their industry, and their problems. You’ll want your case studies to reflect these concepts and include answers your client finds relevant. If the client does, they are more likely to trust you.

Be Specific

Don’t exclude details when creating your case study. You may be required to maintain client confidentiality or leave specific information out of the case study at a client’s request. But you should always be as specific as possible with the information you do include, such as:

 

  • Your client’s name

If you have permission to use your client’s name, do so by all means. If not, then keep this information confidential. You can describe the client by their industry, business size, etc.

Before publishing your case study, check the description with your client to ensure they feel comfortable. Some clients are more sensitive than others about maintaining their privacy. You don’t want to reveal so much information that someone reading the case study can determine your client’s identity.

 

  • The client’s problem

Don’t hesitate to provide details about your client’s problem. This is where you draw potential clients in. If they can see their problems when reading your case study, they can relate to it more readily.

 

  • The solution

It’s not enough to let the reader know that you were able to solve the problem. Back up your statement with numbers. Tell the reader how the solution your company suggested or implemented was able to benefit your client in real terms. “Once Client [X] started doing [y], their company was able to save [z] percent annually.” This is something the potential client can relate to and helps them move toward deciding whether to work with you.

 

Tell the Whole Story

When you write your case study, make sure you tell the story from start to finish. Slow down to ensure that you don’t miss any details along the way. Ensure that the case study includes your initial contact with the client and the client discussing the problem initially. This kind of detail gives the reader context before they move into the specifics of the problem and how your company was able to solve it.

Once you're done, be sure to publish your case study and share it using content amplification techniques.


notebook and flowers on a desk

How to Build an Audience Through Free Content

You are undoubtedly familiar with the sales cycle, and it's normal for some customers to take time before deciding to buy. What do you do in the meantime? You do the following:

  • Continue to be helpful to your customers by offering exemplary customer service.
  • Establish yourself as an expert in your niche.
  • Build an audience by providing prospective customers with free content they can use.

Why Would You Provide Free Content?

Why would you want to give anything away? Usually, that strategy flies in the face of what you have been taught to run a successful business.

In this case, we're talking about giving away content that your current and prospective customers can use. They will find it helpful and remember the company that provides valuable, free content when they are ready to make a buying decision.

How to Build an Audience Through Sharing Content Strategically

Your team can provide free content to your audience in many forms. Consider these options to develop a following, win loyalty, and gain a long-term customer base.

1. Offer a free report.

Offer a free report to those who sign up for your mailing list. It should be on a timely topic that prospective customers will find interesting. The three to five page report is something that readers can easily digest.

2. Write blog posts.

Ideally, a blog post should be more conversational than an article. Picture chatting in comfortable chairs with a few friends beside a roaring fire. They've asked you a question about a problem they are having. What tone would you use when responding to them?

Company blog posts should be warm but professional. You want to avoid using jargon or any language that is inflammatory or offensive. The goal is to bring readers in, not drive them away.

Consider that if online users like your posts, they will share them with others. If enough internet users "Like" your posts, there is a chance your free content will go viral.

Always include "Like" and "Share" buttons on your blog posts and invite your readers to use them.

3. Reply to comments on your blog posts.

Don't ignore comments on your blog post. Always respond to them; this is an excellent way to start an online discussion.

Not everyone will agree with your blog content, and even the naysayers can comment on what you post. Always start by thanking them for their thoughtful comment; then respond respectfully.

4. Speak at local business group meetings.

Local business groups are always looking for speakers to appear at their meetings. Contact the small business association in your city (and nearby cities) and the local chamber of commerce to volunteer your services.

Before reaching out, think carefully about the topics you (or one of your executives) could discuss and why they would interest local business owners. Ask how long the business group would like the presentation to be for its members. Bring plenty of business cards to hand out to the business group members. Ask whether you can bring brochures for group members if they wish to have more information about your company.

5. Offer to do radio and television spots on local stations.

Local radio and television stations may seek content that their listeners and viewers will find interesting. Contact producers at local stations and offer to provide some on-air content. You will likely score some points if you have a specific topic ready.

If the listeners or viewers like what they hear or see, you can turn a casual experience into a regular gig. The key is to be approachable.


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B2B Content Marketing Doesn't Have to be Boring!

Ask your browser to provide a definition of business-to-business (B2B) content, and you’ll get an admittedly ... dry ... response: “... a form of transaction between businesses, such as one involving a manufacturer and wholesaler, or a wholesaler and a retailer. Business-to-business refers to business that is conducted between companies, rather than between a company and individual consumer. Business-to-business stands in contrast to business-to-consumer and business-to-government transactions.”

 

B2B Content Has the Potential to Fascinate

But B2B content has the potential to be downright fascinating.

 

Businesses do so many interesting things and communicating about each other’s products or services can enliven any effort at marketing.

 

Think about every business you use or work for. There’s more to it than being a simple provider of a thing — a product. A business is people, first and foremost.

 

There’s an owner, who might have spent years working for other companies to develop the skills needed to establish or overcome challenges to launch and maintain it. That’s good content.

That owner might have invented the product the business makes/sells/distributes. More good content.

 

The company might support community projects and charitable causes. That’s great content.

There are employees, some of whom might be in their first-ever jobs or been with the business for many years, have special skills, have gotten a first chance to show they can contribute despite a disability or health issue, or won awards. That’s good content.

 

The things a business produces, sells or distributes can save lives, make life more fun or interesting, educate people, bring people together, and more. More good content.

 

Businesses rely on each other; they are symbiotic. Every business needs to know, and show, how it fits with other businesses — how all of these aspects of what makes a business interesting can work together to enhance and support each other and the communities where they operate.

 

Content can focus on how one company supports or works with another through products, community service, materials, training or education, personnel, or professional services.

 

Before assuming that B2B marketing is “boring,” look for what makes those businesses interesting or important and use B2B marketing to connect them to each other for a stronger economy and community. Every business needs other businesses to survive and thrive.

 

Every business has a story, and B2B marketing can be a great way to relay those stories, in the business sector and to the wider world.


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Content Strategy Tips - Owned vs Rented Land

On our brand new YouTube Channel, Jeanne shares her thoughts on Joe Pulizzi's famous quote, "Don't build your content house on rented land" - as well as why you should actually have a strategy for sharing content on 'rented land'.

What Is "Owned" and "Rented" Land in Content Marketing?

In content marketing, we talk about owned vs. rented digital land. This is an analogy to building a house. When you build a house, you must own the land you build it on - or else the owner of the land can kick you out of the house at any time.

 

If you build your digital version of a house, that central place where you direct your customers, clients, and readers to, on a website you neither own nor control, you are at risk of the site owner cutting off access at any time - the digital version of a landowner kicking you out of the rented land!

 

I've seen this a lot with small business owners who build their 'house' or digital business presence on a Facebook page. They even go so far as to put the page URL on their signage or business cards. That's not bad, per se, but using only Facebook as your online presence is very dangerous. Facebook can at any time cut off your access to the page, shut your page down, or decide to charge high fees. If you build your online or digital presence on a website that you own or control, you're assured it will be there as long as you want it to be there.


a robot handing typing on a keyboard to symbolize chatGPT writing marketing copy

Is ChatGPT a Threat to Freelance Writers?

By now, you’ve probably heard of ChatGPT.  ChatGPT is an eerily prescient artificial intelligence program that writes natural-language responses based on prompts typed in by a human user. Rumblings were heard in the marketing world about ChatGPT as far back as November, but few marketers took it seriously until it burst on the scene through demonstrations in December. By January, it was on the agenda for the world leader’s forum in Davos, Switzerland, and now the conversation around ChatGPT has escalated to a fevered pitch. 

Here are our thoughts on ChatGPT and its future in marketing.

Will ChatGPT Replace Human Writers?

Not any time soon. 

I admit it; I tested it. I gave it the same prompts as a client gave me to write articles for their newsletter, and while ChatGPT did write serviceable, grammatically correct text, the text itself was lackluster. It lacked personality. In fact, it read like a cobbled-together version of the top search engine results for that particular topic - and that’s because it did indeed pull phrases from top results, revise them a bit, and present it as fresh copy.

ChatGPT Cannot Reflect Brand Tone and Voice

The biggest limitation of ChatGPT today for marketing is its lack of brand tone and voice.

A fellow CMO and I sat down together on a zoom and tested ChatGPT. We tried to have it write sales copy for his company’s flagship software product. ChatGPT produced descriptions of the software, but it could not inject the quirky, specific language used by his target audience. He markets the software to a specific type of engineer, and the AI program did not have the wherewithal to change language, tone, and voice to reflect the language and vocabulary preferences of the target audience.

The other drawback was the complete lack of brand voice in the final document. Brand voice refers to the specific language used in marketing communications that enhances a company’s overall branding. What you’re reading here, on the Seven Oaks Consulting blog, reflects our tone and voice: authentic, expert, and warm. ChatGPT writes grammatically correct copy, but it lacks the nuances of expression of human-written content, and hence cannot encapsulate the brand tone and voice of any business (yet).

What Can Marketers Do with ChatGPT?

We’ve successfully used ChatGPT to write quick definitions of simple terms for glossaries and to write “prompts” for longer articles and blog posts.

For example, I asked it the question, “What is content marketing?” and this is its response: 

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and sharing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. 

ChatGPT

The result is grammatically correct – and 97% plagiarized from The Content Marketing Institute.

This is how ChatGPT's response scored in Grammarly's plagiarism checker.

We can certainly use AI for starting information, but trusting it to write original, unique, and correct copy is foolhardy. 

It’s a smart machine. It can produce results from scouring the web, and it can display the results according to its algorithm, programmed with the rules of correct English grammar, but it cannot “think” through what the audience wishes to know, nor can it create engaging, original text like a good copywriter can create.

What Is the Future of ChatGPT for Marketing?

Microsoft hopes to disrupt the search market by rolling out ChatGPT as an alternative to Google Search. A subscription-based model is the most likely revenue source, but will users be willing to pay for ad-free ChatGPT results to avoid the ubiquitous phalanx of ads in Google search? 

For marketers, I believe ChatGPT has a place within your content marketing team.

  • Use ChatGPT as I did, above, to find the best definition. Run the definition through your favorite plagiarism-detection software (we used Grammarly) to find the source, and then cite the source of hyperlink to it. It’s faster than reading through multiple web pages.
  • Create prompts by using a question generator such as “Answer the Public” and then use these in ChatGPT to build out a starter prompt for your content writing team. Such prompts are useful to help writers conceptualize a topic. They can then add their own unique spin or research to the topic to build the appropriate content piece.

Despite the hoopla and jitters among many writers we know, ChatGPT is nowhere near ready to take over our work. There’s still work aplenty for skilled writers, copywriters, and editors. Only we can infuse words with brand voice, tone and style; only we can creatively spin a tale that engages and inspires readers to take action. Machines may, someday, be able to do this, but that day has not yet arrived. 


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Why Avoid Jargon in Communication? 

Why should you avoid jargon in communication?

If you goal is to cultivate relationships with customers, avoiding jargon in your company’s communications is essential.

Jargon in Communication Creates Confusion

Have you ever visited a company website, read the “About Us” page, and shook your head in confusion about what that business was all about? When that happens, it’s frustrating, for sure. 

I don’t know about you, but my record for clicking away from pages like this is 100%. I don’t want to guess what the company does or what it can do for me. 

Jargon. Not a Fan

Researchers at Ohio State University conducted a survey to find out what happens when online readers are exposed to jargon. Study participants were asked to read only a few paragraphs about surgical robots and self-driving cars in simple terms. A second group read three paragraphs on the same topics; this time, the text included specialized jargon. 

The group exposed to  jargon in communication was given definitions for all the terms. However, by the time they were finished reading, they felt disengaged. They said they didn’t like what they were reading and even argued against what was in the text. 

Conversely, the group that read the plain-language text felt more empowered after reading their paragraphs. They were more likely to say they understood what they read. This group considered themselves knowledgeable about the topic. 

Talk to Your Customers, Not at or Above Them

The Ohio State University researchers found that even when the study participants could access definitions for the jargon by holding their mouse over the words, they still reacted negatively. 

What can you do with this knowledge?

Understand that customers want to deal with companies that talk to them in “their language.” They distrust a business that speaks to them over their heads, even if it provides explanations. If your customers can’t trust your marketing message, getting them to buy from you becomes much more difficult. Jargon in communication decreases trust.

No one suggests you “dumb down” your marketing message for your customers. That’s insulting to you and them. Just ensure your message doesn’t score too high on the jargon meter, or you could unknowingly be driving potential customers away. 

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Content Creator Success

Our thoughts on being successful as a freelance writer, content creator, or independent contractor.

 

Being a full time content creator is hard work. If you imagine that content creators sit around all day in their pajamas binging on Netflix, think again. Whether you’re a freelance writer, an independent contractor, or run your own content platform - content creation is hard work!

Most Businesses Fail Within the First Five Years

It’s a sad fact of life, but statistics show over and over again that most startups fail within the first five years. The main reason cited: lack of capital. But a lack of capital always points to deeper issues: high costs, not enough new business, lack of repeat customers, and so on.

Our business is content creation. And, we’ve been successful at it for over 15 years. This October, Seven Oaks Consulting celebrates this milestone with a series of posts, articles, and more sharing the lessons that we - the entire freelance team - have learned from our combined years of providing freelance services. 

In this post, I asked each of our contributors to share their thoughts. Everyone participates differently as a freelancer with Seven Oaks Consulting. Some are marketing analysts (Katie), editors (Kathleen), executive assistants (Atricia),  or web designers (Zachary). The majority of our team, however, consists of freelance writers. Whether that’s your interest or other independent contractor or freelance work, we hope that these thoughts inspire and motivate you so that you too can celebrate 15 years of successful freelancing!

Successful Content Creators and Freelancers: Thoughts from the Team

 

Aditi Chordia (Freelance Writer)

I have been freelancing for over two years and writing for 4+ years. I don’t see myself as successful yet; I have a long way to get there, but what I learned in the last couple of years is that as long as you’re working on your skill, honing and sharpening it, and chasing projects that make you grow as a writer, the more ‘success’ or ‘value’ you can attach to yourself as a freelance writer. To be a successful freelancer also means to be a good entrepreneur. Set up solid systems and processes for onboarding new clients, hiring subcontractors, accounting, project management, client communication, etc. Lastly, don’t be afraid to burn some cash in the beginning. Whether it’s to run ads, get a website done, hire subcontractors, or pay for tools, you will have to risk spending money for long-term gains.

Atricia Doyle-Plummer (Virtual Assistant)

Although I am not a content creator, I’ve been a full-time freelancer for about 1 year and 9 months. I’ve learned that as a freelancer, it’s always good to be open to learning new skills as well as improving on the ones you have to offer to clients. Always ensure that you communicate with your client so they can be up to date on the progress of their project. Always ensure that you understand what the client wants you to do before you agree to take on a project. It’s also good to be organized so you can ensure that you are completing the client's work on time. Do not be afraid to network and surround yourself with like-minded people who are in a similar field or are on the same mission as you. In the same way, Amazon, Aliexpress, eBay, and other large companies promote their business daily, don’t be afraid to promote yours.

Christopher Iwundu (Freelance Writer)

I have been a freelance content creator for about 5 years. I would say that continually improving your craft and building a network are critical to success. Freelancing is not a solo journey. The people in your network will help your journey through motivation, collaborations, information exchange, outsourcing etc. Also, freelancing can be a full-time job and is overwhelming. You’ll end up handling marketing, accounting, client management etc. Set up processes and systems to help better manage your business while keeping you healthy mentally. Furthermore, build a personal brand. It can be having a personal website or building on LinkedIn, Twitter, or any other platform of interest. Discover where your ideal clients are and build there. Finally, always ensure project details are clearly communicated and documented (a brief) before starting on the project and always revisit the brief to ensure you’re on track.

Katie DeVries (Marketing Analyst)

As an independent contractor, I believe it takes self-motivation, discipline, and setting boundaries in order to be successful. I’m also a strong advocate for overcommunication - rather than assume, it’s always best to kindly confirm what task is being requested. You’ll never regret double checking but chances are, if the final product doesn’t land correctly due to miscommunication, you’ll always regret asking a few additional clarifying questions. And lastly, it takes time to build trust between co-workers—regardless of whether it’s remote or in person—and part of building that foundation is being responsive, completing tasks on time, and having the willingness and patience to learn as you go. 

Kathleen Marshall (Editor)

I’ve been freelancing since 1996, and in that time I have found that to be a successful freelancer, you need to continually sharpen your skills and have no fear of learn new ones. The marketplace is constantly changing; things you specialize in now may be less relevant in a few years. And being irrelevant as a writer is a death sentence. Flexibility is vital, and isn’t just limited to your skillset. You also need a degree of flexibility with your clients. Don’t be a doormat, but be open to new things and new types of clients. Twenty-five years ago, I never would have dreamed of working with the types of clients I have now, and they continually challenge me to keep growing.

Jodee Redmond (Freelance Writer)

I’ve been freelancing for more than 20 years. I’m not an “arteeste.” My job is to give my clients what they want. I check my ego at the door when I’m at work. That doesn’t mean that I’m a pushover, though. 

There are no “big” clients or “small” clients. All of them are created equal. I give each assignment I’m given my best effort. If the topic doesn’t seem interesting at first, I find something interesting about it so the reader will be able to find something interesting in the content, too. 

Laura LaFrenier (Freelance Writer)

I have been a freelance long-form content writer and short-form copywriter for over two years now. I do not consider myself to be an expert by any means and I am always looking for ways to improve my craft. Networking is an important step for any freelancer or solopreneur, as it allows you to connect with and learn from others with similar interests and ambitions. Freelancing is never one-size-fits-all, and it is important to do what you feel is best for you. Don’t be afraid to try new things and always make a continuous effort to work on your personal growth.

Lucy Klaus (Freelance Writer)

I am new as a content creator and writer but I enjoying the challenge.  I draw on my years of experience to write about topics that mean something to me.  The best part is being able to write when I feel inspired. That is the key to success, writing from experience and inspiration.

Sharon Wu (Freelance Writer)

After freelance writing for 8 years, I’ve learned the importance of clear and timely communication between all parties for a successful partnership. A writer is only as good as the client makes her - the client must equip their talent with what they need to produce stellar content so they aren’t in the dark wondering how to meet expectations. I also discovered that it’s much easier to become an expert in something when you niche down. When I first started, I would take on any and every writing job thrown at me. This ranged from blog articles, to website content, to social media copy, to product descriptions. After dabbling in all of these, I found that I excel in and enjoy blog writing. Crafting long-form articles comes more naturally to me. So, I decided to grow my freelance writing business capitalizing on this.

Zachary Keys (Web Designer)

I have been a freelancer for 4 years. One of the biggest lessons that I have learned is to accept and welcome critiques. In order to improve and get the job done right, I’ve had to learn to take a step back from my work and encourage criticism from clients to help fine-tune projects and accomplish goals. Another thing that has helped me is using tools to keep track of communication and projects. Since a majority of the work is remote, it is important to stay in touch with clients and team members and I had to adapt and start using different tools in order to do so. The last lesson that I’ve learned is to network! I’ve been able to grow as a freelancer through referrals and connections and it is important to always priorotize each client to keep up good relations. 

What Do You Think It Takes to Be Successful?

What qualities do you think it takes to be a successful content creator, freelance writer, or independent contractor?


a desk with flowers and a turquoise notebook

The Dangers of Article Spinners and AI Content Generation

There are many dangers of article spinners that the average small business owner may not realize.

Article spinners are artificial intelligence or AI platforms that imitate the techniques of human copywriters. Instead of creating fresh content, article spinners copy work from another source. They change words, sentences, paragraphs and even a whole article with synonyms and similar phrases to make it look like another person’s work is technically a new copy. For instance, a sentence like this, "I was extremely exhausted at the end of the day,” could be interpreted by an article spinner as, “I was very depleted by the day’s end.”

An infographic listing the dangers of article spinners - poor quality, poor results, lost branding

Dangers of article spinners - Bots Can't Write

From the above example, it’s clear that the quality of article spinners doesn’t compare to well-written human copy. These AI-based tools produce work that doesn’t read naturally due to poorly constructed sentences and lots of grammatical errors. But that doesn’t stop content creators from using the multiple rewrites from article spinners to try and build as many backlinks as possible and outrank their competition in SERPs.

Reduced Visitor Conversion Rates

Article spinners look like the perfect shortcut for people who'd rather not put in the work and develop unique content for their websites. But these AI software tools create low-quality articles that are often unreadable. With such poor quality, spun content can increase the bounce rate on a website and reduce conversion rates.

Spinners Are Automated Plagiarism

Using article spinners is like duplicating another person’s material, which is unethical.
Free article spinners heavily plagiarize original content. That’s because these tools pull existing work rather than creating content from scratch. Plagiarism is a serious red flag in copywriting. Once your audience discovers you duplicate content, their trust in you and your brand quickly goes down the drain. And so do promising leads for your business. Worse still, it’ll only be a matter of time before Google catches up with you.

Google penalties for duplicate content include burying your search rankings. Given that most internet searches happen on Google, it’ll be hard, if not impossible, for customers and prospects to find your business online. And with your sudden online disappearance, consumers looking to purchase the goods or services you provide won’t hesitate to go to the competition.

Why Article Spinners Can Never Replace Actual Content Writers

Understandably, there’s been concerns that AI will fully replace human writers at some point. AI can do incredible things, such as mimic copywriting skills and churn out content fast. However, it can’t master the art of emotional storytelling. Article spinners are simply unable to create conversational, funny, engaging, and relatable content. These, among other limitations of artificial spinners, make them less effective than real copywriters and gives humans a huge edge.

Given all the dangers of article spinners mentioned in this article series, what's your take on AI content writing and AI writers?

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