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Freelance Writing: A Guide to Getting Started for Beginners (Part 1)

Welcome to the first post in a three-part series about how to start freelance writing! If you stumbled upon this article by accident and are wondering, “What the heck is a freelance writer?” Let me point you toward this blog post before you come back here.


The internet is overrun with blogs and articles promising that you’ll make $2000, $3000, even $4000 as a freelance writer.

The hype can be discouraging when, after your first month, you realize you barely scraped together enough money to pay the bills. Let alone $4000! You might be so discouraged that you quit freelancing and go back to that 9-5.

I understand your frustration. And I’m here to share a little truth– if you’re a beginner freelance writer with little to no experience, making $4000 a month is not realistic.

At least, not right off the bat.

To be a freelance writer, you have to be patient. You have to be willing to do the grunt work before you start landing repeat clients. And in the world of freelancing, growing a list of clients who keep comin’ back for more is KEY to making the big bucks.

So instead of hyping you up, I’m here to walk you through the process.

The 9 Steps I outline below are the steps I took when I was new to freelance writing. And after three months, I was lucky enough to start freelance writing full time.

No, I didn’t make four thousand dollars a month (I still don’t!). But at 25 years old, I have plenty of time to build up my client list and start making some real money.

Trust me– if I can do it, so can you. So let’s get started!

1. Research and Practice Writing in Your Niche

You should already have some idea of the kind of content you want to write and sell as a freelancer. If not, I talk about the different kinds of writers in this post. Once you’ve figured out your writing specialty (or specialties), it’s time to immerse yourself in your craft.

The best way to transition from the I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing phase to the totally-hireable-shiny-new-freelancer phase is to study what the pros are doing.

This may mean…

  • stalking popular blogs and studying the structure of their most popular, highest SEO-ranked posts
  • hoarding stacks of your favorite magazine and breaking down the editorial articles within those glossy pages
  • cracking out your old English notes on how to write a good research essay or argument

Once you’ve studied, it’s time to practice what you’ve learned.

While structure should be consistent, practice using different styles, voices, and tones in your writing. Unique and/or flexible writing styles will stand out to prospective clients. And if you’re going to land freelance writing jobs, you need to stand out from the competition.

2. Draft Samples for Potential Clients

If you want to book a job as a freelance writer, you need to show prospective clients you can write.

This is especially true for freelancers who have little to no experience. After all, how will prospective clients know if you’re any good at writing if they’ve never even seen your writing?


This is where writing samples come in. Writing samples are fully written, edited, and proofread examples of the kind of writing you want to sell to clients.

If you want to be a copywriter, this means creating the copy for a website as a sample. If you want to be a technical writer, this means drafting up a well-researched article in the technical field you want to write in.

During this step, I recommend creating your own website or blog, where you publish and share your samples. As you’ll see in the next step, even work published solely on your personal blog is better than unpublished samples.

3. Create a Freelance Writing Portfolio

The whole point of creating samples is to accumulate enough work for a writing portfolio.

Sound fancy? Portfolios don’t have to be. They just have to have the following components:

  • the style of writing you want to sell (copy, blogs, novels, etc.)
  • the kinds of topics you want to be hired to write on OR
  • the niche you want to be hired to write in (or both)

Once you’ve written at least three sample works that you’re proud of, make sure you edit and proofread them. There’s nothing worse than sending your samples to a prospective client only to realize there’s a massive typo in the headline… Oops.

If any of your work is published online (this includes work published on your personal blog), use these articles more often than not. Clients value all samples, but they value published works even more highly.

Now it’s time to compile your samples into a single document (or onto a single page of your website). Introduce each piece with a short who, what, and when. AKA who you wrote the piece for (this can be your own blog), what you wrote the piece about, and when you wrote it.

A portfolio is probably the most important thing to learn if you want to get freelance writing clients.

That’s all I have for you today! Stay tuned next Wednesday for Part 2 and leave a comment to let me know what’s holding you back from starting your freelance writing career. Happy writing!


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Series Post #10: What is Copywriting? With Examples

Series Post #1: How to Create a Niche

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Series Post #10: What is Copywriting? With Examples​

Welcome back to another post in the Series: How to Make Passive Income with Affiliate Links as a Writer!

Last week, we talked about how to pick the right theme for your site. It’s only natural to transition right into copywriting. Today, we’re going to define copywriting and looking at examples of good copy in preparation for actually learning how to write copy next week.

Sound good? Let’s get started!

Copywriting: A Definition

1. Copywriting is advertising with words

Like any good advertisement, copy should prompt the reader to take an action. This action can be to buy products or services. But it can also be to follow a blog or sign up for your newsletter.

When writing copy, make sure to include a “call to action” (CTA). This is a statement or an implication in your copy that directly invites the audience to take an action.

2. Copy speaks directly to your niche audience

Good copywriters should know their target audience– what they want, the words and phrases they use, and the type of call to action they’ll respond to.

Just like the way you speak changes depending on your audience in real life, you should use different words and phrases for different audiences.

3. Copywriting reflects your brand

Despite what the previous two qualities of copy imply, copywriting isn’t all about your audience. Yes, you should speak your niche audience’s language and call them to action. But your copy should also reflect your brand.

Specifically, copy should be written in the tone and style your brand promotes. If your site offers services to CEOs, you should probably write in a more formal style with a business-like tone. If you write lifestyle blogs for millennial women, your style should be informal with a friendlier tone.

Speaking of brands… Remember those handy statements we worked on a few weeks ago? Your brand, mission, and vision statements? Those statements are copy.

So if you’ve been keeping up with this series and have already written your statements, pat yourself on the back and call yourself a copywriter.

Examples of Copy

Now that we know how to define copywriting, let’s look at some examples of good copy. Next week, we’ll be using our case study to practice drafting different types of copy. So for these examples, I’m using copy from popular sites around the web.

Homepage

Puttylike, a website that offers subscription services for people who want to pursue multiple interests and careers, has an excellent example of Homepage copy.

The homepage opens and the audience is immediately called to action with a pop-up.

“Are you a multipotentialite?”

from the Homepage of puttylike.com

This copy is great because it speaks directly to a niche audience (multipotentialites), forcing them to pay attention.

“Enter your info below and get a free quiz + get my weekly tips to help you build a life around ALL of your passions:”

from the Homepage of puttylike.com

This copy does two things at once.

First, it highlights Puttylike’s brand and goals, which is to build a community of people who follow their passions. Second, it speaks to people in general (everyone like getting things for free) and then to the site’s specific niche audience (people who want to build their life around their passions).

Finally, the homepage popup has a CTA in the form of a big, bright yellow button that exclaims: “Yes, Please!” in bold capital letters.

Next week, we’ll talk more about what makes good Homepage copy and create some of our own.

About

Golgi Productions, the producers of the web magazine “Mind & Brain Illustrated,” have a simplistic yet powerful example of About copy.

The top of the page loudly declares “Golgi productions” in large letters. Then, in slightly smaller font, the copy declares the site’s brand statement.

“At the interface of art and science.”

from the About Us page of golgiproductions.com

This brand statement does double duty. The copy all at once speaks to the niche audience (people who like art, science, and the interface between the two) while also reflecting the brand (scientific articles presented in a simplistic yet artistic style).

Directly following the brand statement is Golgi Productions’ mission statement.

“Creating independent media and providing design services.”

from the About Us page of golgiproductions.com

The copy is again simplistic to reflect the site’s focus on visual media rather than lengthy descriptions (brand). It also speaks to the niche audience again with words like “independent” and “design.”

The page goes on to advertise the magazine, Mind & Brain Illustrated, Golgi Production’s graphic design services, and that they’re hiring science game designers.

Following are two calls to action.

“We’re seeking funding for our psychology and neuroscience magazine, Mind & Brain Illustrated. Find us on Patreon.”

from the About Us page of golgiproductions.com

And,

“We’re looking for partners committed to the public communication of science. Contact us at … for information on how to get involved.”

from the About Us page of golgiproductions.com

We’ll break down the structure of an About page in the next post in this series and use our case study to practice copywriting.

Content, Services, and Products

Etsy, a shop for handmade, vintage, custom, and unique gifts for everyone, is filled with exemplary copy written for a diverse brand offering blog content, seller services, and products.

Content, services, and products are all accessible from the homepage. Let’s take a look at the copy used to advertise these diverse offerings.

Content

Etsy’s directs its audience to their blog with copy that features all three aspects of good copy.

“Fresh from the blog. Read the blog.”

from the Homepage of etsy.com

The word “fresh” is on-brand for the site since it claims to offer “unique” gifts. “Read the blog” is a simple CTA that targets Etsy’s broad audience (“everyone”).

Services

The copy used to advertise Etsy’s services is a simple CTA: a button that says “Sell On Etsy.”

Etsy’s services copy is a great example of how sometimes the most unassuming CTA is the most effective.

Products

Etsy advertises its products with copy that speaks to its audience, uses on-brand words, and makes CTAs that include links to produc pages.

In particular, the site’s tagline does a great job of speaking to its audience, describing Etsy’s brand, and defining the products they sell all at once.

“If it’s handcrafted, vintage, custom, or unique, it’s on Etsy.”

from the Homepage of etsy.com

Here are a few more examples of good copy found on the site. Each of these are on-brand and speak directly to Etsy’s crafty audience.

“We have millions of one-of-a-kind items, so you can find whatever you need (or really, really want).”

from the Homepage of etsy.com

“Never stop making.”

from the Editor’s Pick DIY Craft Projects page of etsy.com

“Buy directly from someone who put their heart and soul into making something special.”

from the Homepage of etsy.com

And here’s a compelling CTA used to direct buyers to products.

“Discover unique finds, every week.”

from the Homepage of etsy.com

Stay tuned next week for practice writing copy that advertises content, products, and services.

So there you have it, friends! Leave a comment and let me know some of your favorite copy from around the web. Happy writing!


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What is Freelance Writing?

How to Earn Passive Income with No Money Upfront

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Series Post #9: How to Choose a Theme for Your Site

Welcome back to another post in the Series: How to Earn Passive Income with Affiliate Links as a Writer!

For the last two weeks, we’ve talked all about brand, mission, and vision statements– what they are and how to create them. Today, we’re moving on and talking about strategies for choosing the perfect theme for your site.

Let’s get started!

What are Themes?

Themes are templates you will use to build your niche site or blog. A theme determines how your site will look to visitors as well as its layout, features, and style.

A good theme will offer your audience a pleasurable viewing experience. A good theme will keep your audience coming back for more content. And keeping your audience coming back for more is how you’re going to eventually make money off affiliate links.

So how do you choose this perfect theme? The one that’s going to attract your audience? The one that’s ultimately going to help you make money?

Read on for the 5 steps to help you pick a theme for your niche site or blog.

5 Steps to Choosing Your Theme

1. What’s Your Budget?

The first step to picking your site’s theme is to determine your budget.

Many themes are available at no cost while some more advanced themes will cost you.

For example, WordPress’ free plans only offer a limited number of free themes. If you want any of the other themes they offer, you’ll have to pay for it unless you upgrade to a premium or business plan.

2. What are Your Capabilities?

Before you choose a theme, you should honestly assess your site-building skill level. Some themes require more knowledge of code, web layout, and design.

If you’re new to website design, choose a theme to learn and grow with before advancing to more difficult themes. That way, you aren’t overwhelmed and discouraged by the amount of work some of the more advanced layouts require.

Luckily, most website builders tag certain themes as beginner-friendly. These themes offer step-by-step instructions, more support, and flexibility.

3. What Kind of Website?

If you’ve been keeping up with the series, you should already know what kind of site you’re building. Most site builders have different themes depending on your content. This makes it easier to customize your site for the specific type of content you share.

You can choose whatever theme you want, but there are benefits to using themes pre-programmed for your type of site content. Themes in your category are often pre-programmed with the features you’ll need most.

For example, WordPress has themes for 26 different categories including photography, blogging, and even an “easy” category for newbies.

4. What Features?

What features are vital for your niche site? Make a list of the features you know you’ll need and assure the theme you choose supports them.

As I mentioned above, choosing a theme that targets your type of site means you’ll have most, if not all of the features you’ll need. Make sure to scour the theme’s overview anyway to be sure.

Site builders like WordPress offer the ability to search for themes by features. Over 30 features are available to search by including video support, social menus, and featured image headers.

5. What’s Your Style?

You’ve determined your budget, assessed your abilities, decided on what type of site you’re building, and chosen your must-have features. The final step before you can actually start building your site is to pick your style.

Do you want a bright theme or a more moody one? Do you envision your site drenched in color or is greyscale more your style?

I would recommend testing out a few themes before deciding. Site builders like WordPress offer you the chance to view themes as a demo. That way, you can navigate through themes and make sure they’re right for you before you pick or purchase one.

So there you have it– the five steps to selecting your site’s perfect theme! Leave a comment and let me know some of your favorite themes. Happy writing!


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How to be a Writer in 6 Steps

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Series Post #8: How to Create your Brand, Mission, and Vision Statements

Welcome back to another post in the Series: How to Earn Passive Income with Affiliate Links as a Writer!

Last week, we defined brand, mission, and vision statements. We’re continuing on with that topic today. Specifically, how to use our definitions to create brand, mission, and vision statements for your site.

Case Study

Remember our book blogger friend? You know, the one who’s decided to create a site that review YA Fantasy books about mermaids? After creating a niche and choosing a site builder, our friend is ready to design their brand, mission, and vision statements.

We’ll use our friend’s niche blog as practice for creating the three statements for your own site.

Let’s get started!

Brand Statement

Last week, we defined brand statements as the promises you make to your audiences regarding your products or content.

Remember way back when we talked about choosing your niche? We talked a lot about how your niche should promise to fulfill a need the current market is neglecting. This promise– what makes your niche stand out from the competition– is the most important aspect of your brand statement.

With that in mind, our book blogger friend comes up with the following:

Brand Statement: This blog is devoted to objective and honest reviews of Young Adult Fantasy novels about mermaids that will help you save money on books.

Why This Brand Statement Works

  • promises that these reviews will do something for the audience (save them money on books)
  • states the kind of content available (objective and honest reviews)
  • states the content’s theme (YA Fantasy novels about mermaids)

Where to Put It

Our friend decides to include this statement on their About page but you could choose to include this on your Home page, in every one of your blog posts, or on any other page that is accessible to your audience.

Not only should you find a clever way to state your brand promise but your site’s aesthetic should also reflect it. For our book blogger friend, this means using images of mermaids and sirens and other underwater themes. This may even mean a themed logo and themed reviewer bio.

Mission Statement

In the previous post in this series, we defined mission statements as those that define your brand’s current goals and values.

Though mission, vision, and brand statements each make a promise, they go about these promises in different ways. Brand statements make promises about what you will do for your audience. A mission statement, on the other hand, is a promise about how you’re going to do it for them.

For their mission statement, our book blogger friend composes the following:

Mission Statement: My objective reviews will always include a list of pros&cons as well as an honest evaluation of whether the book is worth the pricetag. This way, you can make more informed decisions about the mermaid books you want to purchase. 

Why This Mission Statement Works

  • promises how these reviews will help the audience save money (help them make more informed decisions)
  • states how the reviews will be objective (includes pros and cons)
  • states how the reviews will be honest (includes a was-it-worth-it price evaluation)

Where to Put It

Instead of stating this mission statement directly on their blog, our friend decides to show this to their audience.

They show their mission statement by including a list of pros&cons and a was-it-worth-it price analysis in every one of their reviews.

Vision Statement

Similar to mission statements, vision statements were defined as your brand’s future goals and values.

If a brand statement is the what and a mission statement is the how, the vision statement is the why. Why should your audience care about your content? Why should should they follow your blog and engage with your posts? Most importantly, your vision statement should explain why your audience should keep coming back for more.

Our book blogger friend finishes up their statements by drafting the following vision statement:

One day, this blog hopes to be the go-to source for saving money on YA Fantasy books about mermaids. Eventually, this site will be home to my YA Fantasy books about mermaids, too.

Why This Vision Statement Work

  • promises you a reason to keep coming back (your go-to source for saving money on books)
  • states why you should keep coming back in the near future (the content)
  • states why you should keep coming back for years to come (the book)

Where to Put It

Our book blogger friend decides to include their vision statement on their home page. This way, visitors see that this blog has a projected agenda.

Knowing the site will be around for the long haul keeps our book blogger friend’s audience coming back for future content (the reviews) while anticipating any future products (the book).

So there you have it, guys. Leave a comment and let me know how your site design is going. Happy writing!


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Series Post #7: Defining Brand, Mission, and Vision Statements

Series Post #6: Choosing the Right Plan for Your Site

Series Post #5: How to Choose the Right Site Builder

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Series Post #7: Defining Brand, Mission, and Vision Statements

Welcome back to another post in the Series: How to Earn Passive Income with Affiliate Links as a Writer!

Last week, we wrapped up the section on choosing the right site builder for your website. For the next five weeks, we’ll be talking all about how to design your niche site.

Today, we’re starting out by defining brand statements, mission statements, and vision statements for your niche site. Let’s get started!

Brand, Mission, and Vision Statements

The first step to designing your site is to decide what your purpose is in creating the site. This purpose can be defined through brand statements, mission and vision statements.

Defining brand, mission, and vision statements is central to cultivating trust with your niche audience.

I’ve talked about the importance of audience trust before, but creating the right statements is where it really comes to play. Read on to find out what each of these statements is and why you need them for your niche site.

What is a Brand Statement?

A brand statement is the promise you make to your audience about your products or content.

The components of brand statements:

  1. Brand statements should speak directly to your niche audience
  2. Brand statements should tell your audience what your products or content can and will do for them

Brand statements are extremely important for connecting with your niche audience. If you make a promise about the kind of content you’re going create, continuously delivering on that promise builds trust with your audience.

What is a Mission Statement?

A mission statement describes the current goals and values of your niche site. 

The components of mission statements:

  1. Mission statements are now-oriented
  2. Mission statements tell your audience the purpose of your site and how you will carry out that purpose

Mission statements are vital for your niche site’s promise of consistency. A good site or product is one that is created to fulfill a need. A great site or product is one that fulfills that need with every goal it sets.

What is a Vision Statement?

A vision statement describes your projection for your niche site, or the future goals you set for your site.

The components of vision statements:

  1. Vision statements are future-oriented
  2. Vision statements tell your audience where you see your site in the future and how you’re going to get there

Vision statements are necessary to show your commitment to your audience. If your audience doesn’t think your site will be around for long, they’ll be less likely to subscribe to your blog, test your products, or engage with your content.

So there you have it. Tune in next week because we’re talking all about how to choose your brand, vision and mission statements by dissecting real-life examples. Happy writing!


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Series Post #6: Choosing the Right Plan for Your Site

Series Post #5: How to Choose the Right Site Builder

Series Post #4: What is a Site Builder?

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Series Post #6: Choosing the Right Plan for Your Site

Welcome back to another post in the Series: How to Earn Passive Income with Affiliate Links as a Writer!

Today we’re wrapping up the section on website builders. Specifically, we’re talking about choosing the right plan for your niche site.

Choosing the Right Plan

This guide will focus on Weebly’s plans though the process can be applied to any site builder.

To choose the right plan for your site, you’ll need to access your chosen site builder’s plan and pricing page. Usually, this is easy to find on the site builder website’s home page. However, if you’re having a hard time finding it, try and few well-worded Google searches.

Similar to choosing the right site builder, picking the right plan comes down to understanding what you need to run your site. Using the plans and pricing page and your knowledge of your site necessities, you should perform a quick analysis.

1. Domain

Are you okay with a subdomain?

Subdomains are those yoursite.weebly.com addresses that come with any free plan. This is the best option if you want to create your site with no money upfront.

Do you already have a domain?

If you already own a domain, consider going with an option like Weebly’s “Connect” plan. For $5/month, you can connect your current domain with site building capabilities.

Do you need a new and unique domain?

If you aren’t cool with a subdomain but you don’t already have a domain, you will have to purchase one. Luckily, most site builders offer free domains included in their paid plans.

For example, Weebly’s “Pro” and “Business” plans include a free domain registration with their respective $12/month and $25/month plan price.

2. Ads

Ads or no ads?

“Free” and “Connect” plans usually make up for their free or low prices by featuring ads on your site. For example, Weebly ads show up as banners on your site that advertise for their services.

If you can’t stand the thought of having your site builder advertise on your blog, consider a plan without ads. Weebly offers their “Pro” and “Business” plan for $12 and $25/month respectively. These plans are ad-free.

3. Members

If you’re choosing between a median-priced plan and the high-priced plans, there are usually small differences.

The highest priced plan on WordPress, for example, allows for plug-ins. The highest priced plan on Weebly allows members to register for your site.

Member registration is great for bloggers who want to offer their audience access to special content. This adds a level of exclusivity and may allow you to monetize membership.

If you’re going through Weebly, $12/month will allow 100 people to register for a membership to your site. For $25/month, there is no limit to the number of people who can register.

4. Marketing

Do you want lead capturing capabilities?

Lead captures are forms that allow you to capture information about your audience. Think of a site that requests your email address in exchange for a free eBook.

This is especially useful for marketing campaigns and newsletters. Though you may not need to market your blog content, lead captures allow you to grow your audience contacts to market products to in the future.

Most free plans do not offer these capabilities.

So if lead capturing capabilities are a must for you, you’ll have to choose a paid plan. In Weebly’s case, however, the “Connect” plan also offers lead capture capabilities for $5/month.

SEO

Luckily, all of Weebly’s plans include the ability to search engine optimize your site.

This allows you to collect data on your audience without needing a lead capture form. For example, you can find out visitors’ location, what page they visited on your site, how they reached your site, and more.

5. Support

How much and how often do you want to get in touch with your site builder’s support team?

Free plans always offer access to a community forum where you can ask questions of fellow users. They usually also offer email and chat capabilities to get in touch with the site builder’s support team.

However, if waiting around for an online response would drive you nuts, a paid plan is best for you. Weebly’s “Pro” and “Business” plans, for example, offer phone support so you’re never left hanging.


So there you have it! An easy way to analyze plans and pricing to choose the right plan for your site.

Leave a comment and let me know how you decided which plan to go with and stay tuned for next week’s post on designing your niche site. Happy writing!

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Series Post #5: How to Choose the Right Site Builder

Last week, I introduced the concept of website builders: what they are and my top three.

Today, we’re going to use our case study to learn a good strategy for choosing the right site builder for your niche blog.

Case Study

If you’ve been keeping up with this series, you’ll remember our book blogger friend. They’ve decided to create a niche blog for reviewing YA Fabtasy books about mermaids.

In order to choose the perfect site builder for their niche blog, our friend puts WordPress, Wix, and Weebly to the test.

Step 1: What’s your budget?

Next week, we’ll be talking about how to choose the right plan for your niche blog or site so stay tuned.

Site builders offer different plans for different budgets and needs.

Our book blogger friend knows they want to spend as little money upfront as possible. So they go with a free plan from one of the site builders I mentioned in the previous post: WordPress, Wix, and Weebly.

Step 2: Do you need a domain?

A domain is analagous to your home address. Instead of a physical address, your domain is your site’s address. For example, my domain is haleyclarkwrites.com and Nike’s domain is nike.com.

Just like you have to pay for your physical home, you have to pay for your website’s online home.

You might also consider a subdomain. For example, my site as a subdomain would be haleyclarkwrites.wordpress.com.

Think of a subdomain as a house a company gives you for free in exchange for advertising their company name all over your exterior. The site builders above will give you a site for free but you advertise their services through ads on your site and through the subdomain name itself.

There are a few pros and cons to using subdomains.

A major pro is that subdomains cost you nothing, which means you can create your site without spending a dime. A major com is that your domain will include the name of your site builder.

Our book blogger friend wants to start their site with no money upfront. So they decide to go with a subdomain instead of a paid domain.

Lucky for our book blogger friend, WordPress, Wix, and Weebly free plans each come with a built-in subdomain.

Step 3: What’s your skill level?

Site builders range in difficulty. Some require in-depth knowledge of website design. Others are extremely beginner-friendly and were created with the amateur site designer in mind.

Since our book blogger friend is brand new to site builders, they want a builder that is foolproof to use.

Unfortunately, that means WordPress is out.

WordPress users have to build a site from the bottom up. Since our book blogger friend wants to get their site up and running ASAP, they decide to narrow their search between Wix and Weebly.

Wix and Weebly offer drag-and-drop features that are ideal for beginners.

While Weebly is a little more foolproof in that it offer pre-designated spots to drag-and-drop features, the creators of Wix send you training videos to help make the process easier.

Our book blogger friend moves on to the final step to find a winner.

Step 4: How many pages?

Some niche sites need multiple pages while others can get away with a single page.

Do you want to include an About page? Do you offer courses, books, or products that would benefit from a Services/Products page? Do you want your blog to be separate from your home page?

If the answer to any of those questions is yes, you need a site builder that allows multiple pages.

Our book blogger friend only needs a single page for blog posts and reviews. However, they want to build trust with their audience. So our friend wants an About page on which they can share their interests, hobbies, and personality.

Wix and Weebly both offer the ability to include multiple pages with their free plan.

However, Wix users only get one page for free before they have to pay for additional pages. Weebly has no such limit and allows users to create as many pages as they need or want.

With these four steps, our book blogger friend finally decides that Weebly is the best site builder for their niche blog because it:

  • offers a free plan
  • offers a free subdomain
  • offers a foolproof drag-and-drop feature
  • offers unlimited pages at no extra cost

So there you have it! Four simple steps to help you narrow in on the best website builder for your niche site needs. Leave a comment and let me know what steps you took to choose your site builder.


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Series Post #4: What is a Site Builder?

Series Post #3: Is Your Niche Profitable?

Series Post #2: Are You Qualified to Write in your Niche?

Series Post #1: How to Create your Niche as a Writer

Series: How to Earn Passive Income with Affiliate Links as a Writer

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Series Post #4: What is a Site Builder?

Welcome back to another post in the Series: How to Earn Passive Income with Affiliate Links as a Writer!

By now, you should know all about niches. For the next three weeks, we’ll be talking about site builders: what are they, how to choose one, and how to pick a plan that’s right for you.

Let’s get started!

What is a Site Builder?

According to Wikipedia, site builders are “tools that typically allow the construction of websites without manual code editing.” Though I won’t be talking about the related topic of domain hosting in this series, stay tuned for an upcoming post on the what, why, and who of web hosts.

Choosing which one is right for your niche website can be intimidating since there are hundreds  of website builders on the market. 

Fear not, writers! Below, you can find out more about my top 3 free site builders. For your convenience, I’ve listed what’s included in the free plan, why I love these site builders, and links to their plans and pricing pages.

My Top 3 Site Builders

WordPress 

What’s Included in the Free Plan

  • WordPress.com subdomain 
  • Mobile-friendly
  • High speed
  • Free themes
  • Free images
  • Video compatible
  • Basic theme customization
  • 3GB Storage
  • WordPress banners and ads

Why I Love ’em

  • If you already have a domain, you can download the site builder free on wordpress.org
  • Your website is completely customizable
  • You own everything on your site

Sound good? Here is the link to WordPress’ Plans and Pricing page if you’re ready to sign up for free website builder. 

Wix 

What’s Included in the Free Plan

  • Wix.com subdomain
  • Mobile-friendly
  • Free themes
  • Free images
  • Video compatible
  • Drag-and-drop customization
  • 500MB storage
  • One page (more will cost you)
  • Wix banners and ads

Why I Love ’em

  • The drag-and-drop feature has no pre-set design to completely customize your site
  • They email you training videos after you sign up 

Already sold? Check out Wix’s Plans and Pricing page and get your niche website up and running today.

Weebly

What’s Included in the Free Plan

  • Weebly.com subdomain
  • Mobile-friendly
  • High speed
  • Free themes
  • Free images
  • Video compatible
  • Drag-and-drop customization
  • 500MB storage
  • Unlimited pages
  • Weebly ads

Why I Love ’em

  • If you already have a domain, you can connect it to your Weebly site
  • Building your site is literally foolproof with their drag-and-drop feature
  • You can change your theme’s color palette

Think I saved the best for last? Review Weebly’s Plans and Pricing page to get started earning passive income from your niche site.

Next Week

That’s all I have for you today, writers!

Next week, we will re-visit our case study on book blogging to learn how to choose the right site builder for your niche website. 

Leave a comment and let me know what your favorte site builder is. Happy writing!

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Series: How to Earn Passive Income with Affiliate Links as a Writer

Series Post #1: How to Create a Niche as a Writer

Series Post #2: Are You Qualified to Write in Your Niche?

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Series Post #3: Is Your Niche Profitable?

Welcome to another post in the Series: How to Make Passive Income with Affiliate Links as a Writer. We’ve talked about creating your niche and whether or not you’re qualified to write in your niche

Today, we’re wrapping up this section on niches before we move on to choosing your site builder.

If you want to make passive income from your blog or site, you need a profitable niche. 

How do you know if a niche is profitable? Read on and find out.

How to Recognize a Profitable Niche

When you’re researching your niche, put some time into answering the following questions:

  1. Are there affiliate programs in your niche?
  2. Is you affiliate program a good one?
  3. Is there an audience?
  4. Are there high-quality members of that audience?
  5. BONUS: Does your affiliate program offer high-priced products?
  6. BONUS: Will your audience want to buy these high-priced products?

Affiliate Programs

When creating your niche, take the time to research the affiliate programs within your niche.

There are many programs– like Amazon Affiliates and ShareASale– that offer a wide range of products. These programs are a great starting point for niche bloggers who aren’t sure what their audience will purchase.

Is your affiliate program a good one? How do you know?

Here are a few things you should be looking for in an affiliate program.

  • the program shouldn’t cost you anything to sign up
  • the program should offer high commissions on the products you sell
  • the program should promote high-quality products and be reputable
Is there an audience for your niche?

Your Audience

We talked about audiences in the first post of this series. That’s because part of researching for your niche is determining if there is an audience for your content or products.

Another aspect to assuring you have an audience for your platform is to determine how high-quality that audience is

This has to do with CTR and conversion rates.

CTR is the “click through rate,” or how often an audience engages with your content. Conversion rates are similar, but are the percentage of the actual sales you make compared to the number of views that page or product gets.

Determining whether or not your audience is high quality may take some trial and error. Often times, though, you can find data on CTRs and conversion rates within a certain niche using a few well-worded Google searches. 

For example, here is a post detailing conversion rates for top e-commerce sites

Affiliate Products

Many affiliate marketers preach that you should sell high-priced items if you want to actually make a living from affiliate links.

Since we’re talking about passive income and not necessarily your monthly salary, that adage does not apply here.

Additionally, my goal is to give you ways to make passive income with as little money up front as possible. If you’re purchasing these high-priced products for review (I do not promote reviewing products you haven’t used or tried), you’re forking up quite a bit of cash just for one post.

Some of you still may be interested in marketing high-priced items, like workout equipment. Ask yourself these questions before you decide to market these products on your niche blog or site. 

  • Does your affiliate program sell high-priced items?
  • Would your niche audience actually purchase those high-priced items?

While you can determine the former with a few clicks through your affiliate program’s product pages, the latter has to do with how high quality your audience is and may require a bit of trial and error.

Case Study

Let’s apply what we just talked about to our case study on book blogging. I recently came across this excellent post detailing why the author thinks you can’t make money book blogging. 

While the author makes sound points, some of which I agree with, she seems to come from the position of wanting to make a living with book blogging. But passive income isn’t about replacing your full-time income immediately.

Earning passive income is about building up different sources of revenue over time to eventually supplement your full-time income. 

Book blogging is a profitable niche for those of you who want to make passive income. Here are three reasons why. 

  1. a small audience but high CTRs and conversion rate because books/eBooks are inexpensive and programs like Amazon Affiliates are highly reputable
  2. you can get the content for free since many publishers give out free ARCs (advanced reader copies) for book bloggers to review
  3. you can build an audience to whom you can eventually promote your own books/eBooks AND earn off them through affiliate links

So there you have it! Leave a comment and let me know how your niche research is going. Happy writing!


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Series: How to Earn Passive Income with Affiliate Links as a Writer

Series Post #1: How to Create a Niche as a Writer

Series Post #2: Are You Qualified to Write in Your Niche?

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To Publish or Self-Publish? My Pros and Cons

In my previous post, I talked about eBook publishing for beginners. Self-publishing an eBook is a great way to make side income. Then again, so is going through the traditional publishing process.

To help you decide which platform is right for you, I’ve compiled a brief list of reasons to go with one or the other.

Here are the pros and cons of tradional and self-publishing.

Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishing has been around for a long time, meaning its methods are tried and true. Yet there are definitely aspects of this process that can be a turn off for some people. 

Here are the pros and cons of traditional publishing.

The Pros

No money upfront

From the editing to the cover art to the marketing, you won’t have to spend a dime out of pocket if you don’t want to.

Bookstore shelves

Most authors who are traditionally published will see their novels hit shelves at some time or another. This is especially true of the Big Five Publishers.

Perceived credibility

Many book consumers automatically associate the traditional publishing platform with higher quality novels.

The Cons

Extra marketing

If your novel or book is not projected to do well, the publisher may not do as much marketing as you want them to. In that case, the task will fall to you.

Lower royalties

Traditionally published authors earn from 5% – 10% royalties on hard copies and only 20% on eBooks.

No control

When you take the traditional publishing route, you will have very little control over the book cover, the synopsis, and the way the publisher wants to market your book.

If you want to see your novel in a bookstore, go with traditional publishing.

Self-Publishing

Self-publishing has exploded since the introduction of platforms like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and is an ideal path for those who want to start and online business. Since this platform is so new, though, it still has a few kinks to work out that may make this process a hard pass.

Here are the pros and cons of self-publishing.  

The Pros

Total control

You get total control over everything when you self-publish, from the book cover to the blurbs to every single word that ends up on the page. 

Higher royalties

Self-published authors earn 100% royalties on hard copies and up to 70% royalties on eBooks. 

Growing market

Self-publishing has exploded and, since it is a growing market, you can easily stand out with a high quality, well-written novel or book. 

The Cons

A huge investment

When you decide to self-publish, you’re choosing to make your book a business. You will pay for the editing, the cover art, the marketing, the bind up, and so much more.

Bookstore shelves

It takes a lot of networking and finger-crossing to get your books into bookstores if you aren’t going the traditional publishing route.

Perceived low quality

Wrong though they may be, consumers tend to treat self-published novels with more skepticism and criticism. 

The self-publishing industry has exploded with the help of platforms like Amazon’s KDP.

So there you have it! Leave a comment and let me know which platform you want to go with and why? Happy writing!


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Series: How to Earn Passive Income with Affiliate Links as a Writer

Series Post #1: How to Create a Niche as a Writer

Series Post #2: Are You Qualified to Write in Your Niche?

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eBooks 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Publishing

So you want to make a little extra money on the side.
Why not write an eBook?

After all, Forbes named it one of the best ways to make money online

1.Fiction or Non-fiction?

The first step to publishing an eBook is figuring out what you’re going to write

Is your idea box bursting with new concepts for a fictional story? Or would you rather write on a factual topic that you know all about? The answer to the question may determine what type of book you should write. 

A few facts for your decision making process:

  • Non-fiction can be sold for a higher price tag than fiction 
  • Fiction writers generally tens to sell more eBooks than non-fiction writers

With all this said, no one ever said you can’t do both! Check out this post to hear from an eBook writer who makes money online publishing both fiction and non-fiction.

2.Research Your Topic

Now that you know what you want to write, you need the facts to get you started.

Research is absolutely vital if you want to write a high-quality eBook, especially a non-fiction one. Ideally, you should choose a non-fiction topic you know a lot about. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find already published facts to support your knowledge.

Even if you’re writing fiction, though, you want to spend at least a little time making sure your pilot protagonist actually sounds like she knows how to fly that plane. 

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

3.Plot it or Pants it?

To plot or to pants? If you’ve never heard of these terms or have but can’t remember what they mean, here’s a refresher:

  • Plotters: writers who outline their stories or books before writing
  • Pantsers: writers who write by the seat of their pants or make everything up as they go

If you’re writing non-fiction, I strongly recommend creating an outline for the book. Non-fiction is mostly fact-based. Make sure you have those facts in order to best relay your topic to your audience before you start drafting that eBook.

Fiction is a little more flexible. You may find “pantsing” it to be creatively freeing. Or you may prefer the structure an outline gives to the overall story concept. You may also be like one of the many writers who use a little bit of both methods!

4.Pick Your Platform

I won’t talk here about the difference between traditional and self-publishing. I’ll save that for another post. 

From Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing to Your Author Engine, there are nearly a hundred different eBook publishing platforms these days. This might seem intimidating.

Have no fear, though, since there are plenty of websites that offer in-depth reviews of different publishing platforms. Here‘s the Alliance of Independent Authors’ list of the best and worst of them. 

Choosing the best platform for your book is imoprtant– so is forming your own opinion.

Try out one platform this time and, next time you want to publish an eBook, pick a different one! Valuing the opinions of others is great, but so is forming your own through trial and error.

So that’s all I have for you today! Leave a comment and let me know if you’ve published an eBook and what it was about. Happy writing!


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How to Earn Passive Income with no Money Upfront

Series Post #1: How to Create a Niche as a Writer

Series Post #2: Are You Qualified to Write in Your Niche?

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How to Order Keto Coffee

Coffee is a staple for writers who need a little extra boost. If you’re on the Keto diet, though, knowing what and how to order your coffee can be a little daunting. 

Have no fear coffee-loving, keto dieters! Today I’m going to tell you exactly how to order your keto coffee. As an ex-barista, you can trust me when I say these drinks are good, too. 

Order Keto-Friendly at Your Coffee Shop


Coffee or Latte?

Do you prefer your coffee the old fashioned way? Or are you one of the million of Americans who has fallen in love with espresso based lattes?

Either way you like it, both of these drinks can be keto-friendly if you know the basics. 

Drip 

A regular cup of drip coffee has no significant source of carbs or sugar. If you prefer more for your money, go with a simple cup of black coffee since it’s cheaper than espresso beverages. 

Tips for Ordering:

  • Iced coffee is just the cold version of regular drip coffee and has almost no carbs but make sure to request that it’s unsweetened
  • If your coffee shop has multiple roasts, request a blonde roast since these beans usually have more caffeine per cup than any other roast
  • Skip the cold brew because the conentrated brewing method means this stuff can have more than 3 carbs per cup

What I’d Get: A 20 oz (large or Starbucks’ venti) dark roast, black. Topped with a few cubes of ice for immediate enjoyment.

Espresso

Unlike drip coffee, espresso has 0.5 grams of carbs per fluid ounce. That means two shots are already going to cost you a whole carb– And that’s without cream and sugar!

Tips for Ordering:

  • If you’re in the mood to splurge on carbs, a caffe americano is the way to go. Skip the milk to get the most bang for your buck
  • Order blonde espresso if your coffee shop has it because it has more caffeine and a sweeter taste but the same number of carbs as regular espresso
  • Be careful with Venti iced drinks from Starbucks– the standard is to add three shots (1.5 carbs) to a latte and four shots (2 carbs) to an americano

What I’d Get: An 8 oz (extra small or Starbucks’ short) Blonde Americano with a light sprinkle of vanilla powder on top. OR A 12 oz (small or Starbucks’ tall) red eye, which is just a shot of espresso poured poured on top of your drip coffee for an extra boost.

Black or with Cream?

If you like your coffee with cream, here are two keto-friendly options to add to your cup of joe.

Grass-Fed Butter

Butter is a surprisingly delicious way to lighten up your roast. Kerrygold Butter is a creamy, grass-fed option offered at coffee shops like Starbucks.

Tips for Ordering:

  • Ask your barista to drop the butter in the cup before they pour your coffee or pull your espresso shots so the butter melts to perfection
  • Request a stir stick at the drive-thru or pick one up from the condiment bar and give your coffee a stir so the butter is mixed to perfection
  • Salted butter can be delicious with flavors like caramel and vanilla but if you like your coffee with no added sugar, you might want to request unsalted butter

What I’d Get: A 12 oz (a small or a Starbucks’ tall) cup of dark roast with one slab of Kerrygold butter stirred in. Top with a healthy sprinkle of cinnamon powder.

Heavy Cream

If you’re ordering a latte, steamed heavy cream is the way to go. Other milks have too many carbs and, if you’re already spending them on espresso, you’ll want skimp wherever else you can. 

Tips for Ordering:

  • Ask for a “dry” latte with heavy cream, which means you’ll get an extra layer of foam on top reminescent of whipped cream
  • A Caffe Misto or Caffe Au Lait is even more delicious with steamed heavy cream instead of milk
  • Avoid the whipped cream at Starbucks, since it’s flavored with sugary vanilla syrup

What I’d Get: A 16 oz (medium or Starbucks’ grande) cappucino made with heavy cream. Top the foam with a sprinkle cocoa powder for a chocolatey fist sip!

A Little Flavor, Please?

Whether you can’t stand the bitter taste of coffee or you like to enhance it, here are two keto-friendly ways to add some flavor. 

Sugar

Not only are sugars themselves taboo for keto diets, but the carbs in sugar are also no-no’s. Your best bet is to request Stevia or Truvia, which are two of the best sugar-substitutes for keto-dieters. 

Tips for Ordering:

  • Avoid the “sugar-free” and “skinny” syrups on the market because these may still have sugar alcohols, which are not keto-friendly
  • Don’t order sugar in the raw, brown sugar, agave or honey because these sweeteners have a high glycemic index and carb count
  • Ask your barista to give your latte or coffee a stir after pouring the sugar so that it’s evenly distributed throughout the entire dirnk

What I’d Get: A 12 oz (small or Starbucks’ tall) latte made with heavy cream and two Stevias stirred in. 

Powders

If you want some flavor without the sugary taste, check out your coffee shop’s selection of powdered toppings. 

Tips for Ordering:

  • Make sure not to get the cinnamon dolce powder at Starbucks, since this good stuff has white sugar mixed in
  • Request that your powder be steamed in the milk for an extra-tasty latte, misto or caffe au lait
  • Go easy on the cocoa powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg since too much of these spices can add up (average of 4 grams of carbs per tablespoon)
  • Go extra-easy on the vanilla powder since too much can add up to a whopping 3.5 grams of carbs per teaspoon

What I’d Get: A 20 oz (large or Starbucks’ venti) cup of blonde or light roast coffee. Top it off with 2 oz of steamed heavy cream with a few dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg steamed in. This drink is oh-so good and tastes like Christmas in a cup!

So there you have it, folks! Leave a comment and let me know your go-to keto coffee recipe. Now grab that cup of coffee and get to writing!


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Series Post #2: Are You Qualified to Write in Your Niche?

Series: How to Earn Passive Income with Affiliate Links as a Writer

How to be a Writer in Six Steps