Monday

Outsourcing Articles - Is it Right for You?

Recently, a writer/marketer who always has valuable information recommended outsourcing as a means of effectively and quickly getting a number of articles written. He was using a particular service to create a niche site for affiliate marketing, but it can just as effectively be used to create visibility and traffic to your own sites and products.

Remember though, it’s the content that creates the organic traffic funnel to your site. You should offer your visitors/readers quality content.

The marketer stated that he paid $3 to have articles rewritten and distributed to hundreds of article directories.

Wait a minute . . .

While I’m sure this is true, guaranteed the rewritten articles are not done by professional writers. It’s possible the writers or spinners are using a rewriting/spinning program.

A rewriting program chooses random words to change, or the author creates a list of words for the program to find and change. Some can also rework paragraphs, but it’s not the same as a writer. These programs can’t tell if they’re missing the mark on clarity in the content, or if they are changing the meaning.

Outsourcing these types of articles is similar to purchasing private label rights (PLR) articles. PLRs are articles that you can buy by the bundle at a low cost and use with your own byline.

But, consumer beware. You may have an embarrassing situation on your hands if you don’t proofread and edit the articles before using them. Often, these articles are rewritten by non-English speaking writers, or writers who are overly concerned with quantity over quality.

For those of you who don’t mind having to edit each article, PLRs or outsourcing on-the-cheap may be an option. Certainly, there are some writers who feel it’s easier to rewrite an existing article than create one from scratch.

Some of us are on the other end of the outsourcing chain. We ghostwrite or rewrite articles for marketers or others who are looking for quality content. As professional writers, we know the importance of creating quality over quantity. If you want to create an impressive article utilizing facts and quotes, and shining with clarity, you can’t use rewriting programs, or writers who aren’t professional.

One important factor as a writer is that your writing is a reflection of you and your writing ability; it should always be the best it can be, whether you are writing for yourself or for a client. It also holds true if you are hiring a professional writer to ghostwrite articles for you. Unless you’re very familiar with the ghostwriter’s work, be sure to proofread any content you’re publishing before hand. Remember, your name will be associated with that content.

Depending on your writing needs, you will have to decide if you want quality or quantity, if you choose to outsource.

If you are an affiliate marketer, it’s all about getting as much traffic as possible to a niche site that has a copy ad landing page urging the reader to BUY. The more traffic the greater the chances of sales and an affiliate commission. Conversion rates rule . . . quality often takes a back seat to quantity.

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NEED HELP WITH YOUR MARKETING?

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Wednesday

Know When to Call a Ghostwriter

Today I have a great guest post by Dan Poynter, the savvy author of the Self-Publishing Manual. Every writer knows how difficult and time consuming it is to write effective content and stories, whether fiction or non-fiction. But, some authors may not have the necessary skills to create an effective and engaging story.


Know When to Call a Ghostwriter

by Dan Poynter

You do not have to be a writer to be an author.

According to a recent New York Times article, “On any given week, up to a half of the books on any non-fiction best-seller list are written by someone other than the name on the book.” The reason is simple: being an expert, an eyewitness, or a celebrity does not necessarily mean that
one is also a skilled writer/communicator. Enter the ghostwriter.

Ghosts typically work for four kinds of clients. One is the expert, who writes to preserve and share his or her knowledge. Another has an extraordinary first-person experience to relate. The third is a celebrity or aspiring celebrity, who wants a book to memorialize or launch a career.
The fourth has a fictional story to tell, but not the necessary storytelling skills.

You don't think Lee Iacocca wrote those two best-selling books all by himself? Iacocca is the author; it is his information, but he does not have time to be a writer.

“Writing is the toughest thing I’ve ever done.”
—Richard M. Nixon, 37th president of the United States.


The ghostwriter fills in for any skill or knowledge that the author lacks. In return for their expertise, ghosts are typically paid a cash fee plus a percentage of the author’s royalties. In return, the ghost takes a vow of perpetual silence.

If you are not a fully-skilled writer, but have expert knowledge or an extraordinary experience to share, or seek to launch or enhance your image, that’s when you should call a ghostwriter.

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Dan Poynter does not want you to die with a book still inside you. You have the ingredients and he has your recipe. Dan has written more than 100 books since 1969 including Writing Nonfiction and The Self-Publishing Manual. For more help on book writing, see
http://ParaPub.com
© 2003

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Related Articles:

The Ghostwriter – Help for Your Writing Needs
Writing for Money – Breaking Into Freelance Writing

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NEED HELP WITH YOUR WRITING PROJECT?

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Friday

Self-Publishing Without Getting Scammed

Today, I have a great guest post by Penny Sansevieri of Author Marketing Expert, and it's about self-publishing safely.

Smart Self-Publishing: How to Get Published Without Getting Scammed  

By Penny Sanseveri

Something I learned early on in this industry is that publishing, like any other industry, is full of scams. Not everyone is unethical; however, there are a certain number of people who prey on someone's desire for success by offering them pie-in-the-sky promises they can never fulfill. In our series on Smart Self-Publishing, we're going to look at a few different industry segments, starting first with publishers and finding the right one for you.

These days, there are more choices than ever to get published. Because of this, the options and opportunities within each can seen a bit overwhelming.  

Here are some quick tips:

1) Research, research, research: as I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of choices. Take your time and do your research. If a publisher is unethical or has a bad reputation, you'll find this pretty easily online. Some great sites for finding unethical publishers and other industry providers are:
Writer Beware: http://accrispin.blogspot.com/
Predators & Editors: http://pred-ed.com/
Absolute Write: http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/

2) Ask other authors: if your research hasn't turned up anything consistent, it might be that the publisher (like any vendor) has had a couple of bad experiences, but that doesn't always make them a bad publisher. I recommend that you look at the store page on their website and Google some of the authors listed. If you email these authors through their own personal web pages, asking them about their experience with the publisher, I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised at how helpful they are. Publishing, unlike some other markets, is a very helpful industry. You can even ask some professionals you admire if you're unsure. Most of us are always eager to help!

3) Check your contract: there are a variety of reasons for an author to self-publish, one of them is being able to keep their rights and creative license. Regardless of the publisher, you should be able to keep all rights. If they keep any rights for any length of time, move on to a company that will allow you to keep all of your rights. This includes: movie, audio, foreign, and electronic.

4) Promises, promises: don't believe the hype. Yes, we are all selling services but there is only so much that a publisher can promise you. They can promise you a finished book. Beyond that it's a lot of hard work and a little luck.

5) The truth about returns: Many of the print-on-demand/self-publishers offer you a returns program. I haven't found this to be very helpful. It costs the author to get in and then the bookstores have to participate, and few of them do. If you're not sure, ask your local Barnes & Noble if they accept returns from this publisher, their answer will tell you whether a returns program is a good investment of your money.

6) Book sales: much like point #4, no one can promise you book sales, least of all the publisher. So be wary of any publisher who is promising you sales or a guarantee of book sales of any kind.

7) Cost to publish: in most cases, it should cost you less than $2,000 to publish your book. This will include the cover design, interior design, ISBN, bar code, ebook (in many cases) and anything else that needs to happen to turn this into a book. Like anything else, get this in writing.

8) Author discounts: the first 90 days of your book you will be your own best customer. This is why you want to be sure and get a good author discount on your book purchases. You'll use the books you buy to promote the book, by sending it to media, book reviewers, etc.

9) Author royalties: author royalties vary greatly from publisher to publisher but don't be swayed by higher royalties because the calculation might be a bit tricky. Let me explain. Most publishers will give you royalty based on the cost of the book. So, on a $10 book you'd get 20%. I've seen some publishers who will offer upwards of 80% royalty to authors to lure them in, but when you do the math on this it really comes out the same. Many times a higher royalty rate is calculated on the cost of the book wholesale, so let's say your $10 book is now $5, plus they might deduct their own expenses from this cost, bringing it even lower. So while the 80% royalty looks great on paper, the math is sometimes even lower than a 20% rate depending on how much they discount the book.

10) Customer experience: before you put pen to paper and sign that contract, make sure that their customer experience matches your expectations. Now while I disagree that a publisher should respond immediately, they should respond to emails within 24 and sometimes 48 hours depending on when you send the message. I would call them and ask them some questions about their services, their packages, and their end-user experience. You are going to have a lot of questions, be sure that someone will be there to help you answer them.

11) Be realistic: remember that regardless of how good any publisher is, they might not be able to be all things to all authors. Meaning that for certain things, you may have to get your answers elsewhere. If you aren't sure what they will and won't help you with, ask them.

12) Timing: make sure you are clear on their timing as well as yours. You don't want a book that's going to be sitting in the cue for a long time while it's waiting to see the light of day. Get the timing in writing, or at least a general estimate.

13) Book covers: I saved the best for last here, or rather the most important piece of this. The book cover is so significantly important that the NY publishers often spend weeks researching the perfect cover for the perfect market. To know if the publisher you are considering is good at book design: look at the other books on their website. If the covers there don't impress you, move on. If you're not sure what to look for in a good cover designer, spend the time and money and hire someone (a book marketing professional) who can look at the covers for you and tell you if they are quality. Also, if you find a publisher you love but their covers aren't the best, you can always hire an outside designer to do the book cover design.

Keep in mind that most publishers are out there to do good work. We love the ones who do good work and help authors attain their dream. As you migrate through your choices, remember to not be swayed by flashy ad copy or high-end promises. Go with a solid, reputable publisher and you'll be on your way to a successful career.

Here are some great recommendations:

Infinity Publishing: http://www.infinitypublishing.com

Greenleaf Book Group: http://www.greenleafbookgroup.com/
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com

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Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://amarketingexpert.com

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Monday

Using Paypal to Sell Your eBooks and Other Products

While digital publishing has been around for 40 years, the week of March 6th, it seems to have skyrocketed within the last year.

The e-book market is taking off and so are the authors who are taking advantage of this path to income and an audience.

I have a few e-books under my belt, but haven't really taken the time to get them easily available for sale. Well, that's changed since I began taking advantage of Paypal's BUY BUTTON system.

If you have a Paypal account, all you have to do is go under Merchant's Services and you're afforded the option of getting single BUY NOW BUTTONS or a SHOPPING CART for multiple products.

If you don't have an account with them, it's easy to create one, and it's free.

The instructions for the Buy Buttons are fairly easy to understand, until you get to providing the link if you are offering an e-book download for sale.

Here you need to click on option #3 to get to the area where you can input the downloadable link to your e-book. I think the option is titled: Advanced Options.

Then, just finish the process and you'll be given the HTML code for the button. You actually get two versions: one for your website, and one for email use. Pretty easy and quick!

One other slight inconvenience is that when a customer purchases through the BUY BUTTON, they are not automatically taken to the product. The are offered 3 options:

The first option is to Go to the Seller's Email Address. But, instead of being directed to the email address the purchaser is directed to the product he/she just purchased.

I'm not sure why Paypal has it set up like this. It makes getting the e-book confusing and even frustrating for those who aren't aware of the situation.

But, once the seller is aware of this, he/she can provide instructions on the product's landing page.

The upside to using Paypal or Google Checkout Buy Buttons is there is NO middle man.

On sites such as Lulu, Smashwords, and even Kindle, they get a percentage of the sales of your products. Using your own Buy Buttons the sale is all yours.

Other Products and Services

It doesn't matter what you're selling, you can use PayPal to sell, and if needed, ship it to the customer. You can also use it to sell your services.

It's convenient - the buyer just clicks on the Buy Button and off they go directly to pay for the product or service.

You can also use Google Checkout for this type of selling option.

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Friday

Keywords in Your Press Releases

I've been following The Publicity Hound's press releases email workshop. As a very clever way of harnessing daily clicks to her site, this publicist, Joan Stewart, created an alternative use for one of her e-books: the reader can purchase the e-book about press releases, or subscribe for an 89 day email workshop. The reader gets 89 days of press release info sent to his/her email box. But, you must click on the link back to the publicist's site to get the info. Pretty clever, right.

Okay, along with this clever marketing move, Joan allows the reader to use a number of the PR lessons on their sites/newsletters. Obviously, this is only if the proper credit is given.

So, here is Lesson 63 from The Publicity Hound's 89 Press Release Tips:

The importance of keywords by Joan Stewart

In Lesson 63 you'll learn how to optimize your press releases for the search engines to make it easy for people to find them. You'll also see some examples of press releases that were optimized.

Here's why search engine optimization is so important. Tens of millions of people use search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN to find information. Many of those same people also use tools like Google Alerts so Google can alert them, via email, of specific articles that include certain keywords.

For example, I've set up a Google Alert so that Google gives me a list every day of articles that include the name "Joan Stewart" because I want to see what people are saying about me. If you sell diamond watches and someone is using the search engines to search for information on "diamond watches"--or they've set up a Google Alert, they'll likely find your press release about diamond watches if it includes the keywords they used to search.
 
I'm assuming that you don't know anything about search engine optimization. So let's start with the basics. When someone uses a search engine like Google to find information, the search engines use two critical methods to find pages:

•    Keywords. This is the word that someone types into a search engine to find information.

•    Title. This is the title of the page. In Windows, you can see it on the blue bar at the very top of your monitor screen. It's the first place the search engines look.

•    Description. This is what you see when you do a search and the search engines deliver the organic results on the left side of the screen. You usually can't see the description when you actually click on a link, however. It's created "in the background" of a page and it's part of the HTML coding.

•    Metatags. These are special HTML "tags" that provide information about a web page. Unlike normal HTML tags, they don't affect how the page is displayed. Instead, they provide information such as who created the page, how often it is updated, what the page is about, and which keywords represent the page's content. Many search engines use this information when cataloging pages. Your webmaster used metatags on each page when building your website.

Here are some things to remember when including keywords in your press release:

•    Don't use the name of your company as a keyword. Why? Because people who don't know about you, obviously, wouldn't use the name of your company to find you. Instead, they'd search by typing the generic name of a product or a service they're looking for. People who don't know about me wouldn't type "The Publicity Hound" into a search engine. But they might search under "writing press releases" or "free publicity."


•    Use specific keywords instead of very general keywords. For example, when I wrote the press release about this tutorial, I used the specific keyword phrase "writing press releases" instead of the more general "public relations."  Both those phrases have a lot of competition, and it's too difficult to rank on Page 1 of Google, for instance, for those phrases.

•    If you sell products and services targeted to a particular region or city or state, you might want to include these locations in your keyword phrases as well. (You'll see an example of how one press release writer did this in Lesson 66 three days from now.)

•    Place keywords at the beginning of your headline. The search engine spiders read your page from top to bottom, and you want them to find your keywords immediately.

•    Place keywords in the sub-head. That is, the longer but smaller headline that goes just under the main headline. Sub-heads can also be short headlines that you can use throughout the release to break up the copy

•    Sprinkle keywords throughout your copy, certainly in the first paragraph and as close to the front of the first sentence as possible. Slanting toward the front and top increases your "keyword prominence" which is yet another factor many search engines look at before they give your page a ranking.

•    You can even include keywords at the bottom of the release, so the search engines see a theme to the page.

•    Don't try to optimize a press release for more than about three keywords or keyword phrases, otherwise it will be too difficult to write.

If you want to learn the finer points of keyword research and how to use them in your press releases, press release specialist and search engine optimization expert Janet Thaeler has lots more tips. She shares them during a teleseminar with Joan Stewart on "How to Use Keywords: The 'Magic Magnets' That Pull Consumers and Journalists to Your Press Releases."

Opportunity #63: Radio show appearances

If you've booked an appearance on a radio show, write a press release so people can listen to the show. Alex Carroll, a veteran guest who has done more than 1,264 radio talk show interviews, explains the step-by-step formula he uses to get onto radio talk shows, promote his book, and get invited back--without using a publicist. He has made more than $1.5 million in direct sales by using a simple formula. He explains it on the CD "How to Get Booked on Big Radio Shows in the Top 20 Markets."

*****
Need help with publicity?
The Publicity Hound can help with many aspects of your publicity campaign. You'll find press release writers, publicists, audio experts, ghostwriters and more.


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