sonia2 Pink haired content mastermind http://www.copyblogger.com/author/sonia/Sonia Simone joins us today to discuss everything the savvy editor and writer wants to know about freelance writing jobs. Sonia is the CCO and Co-Founder of http://www.copyblogger.com/Copyblogger – one of the world’s 50 most powerful … "/>

Freelance Writing Jobs From Conception to Published: Interview with Sonia Simone of Copyblogger

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Pink haired content mastermind Sonia Simone joins us today to discuss everything the savvy editor and writer wants to know about freelance writing jobs. Sonia is the CCO and Co-Founder of Copyblogger – one of the world’s 50 most powerful blogs according to the Guardian.

In addition to her role as CCO, she’s been writing some of the most powerful articles on Copyblogger since its inception back in 2006. Her people focused attitude inspired her moniker “the marketer for people who hate marketing”.

She is also a self-proclaimed twitter junkie and can sometimes be seen giving presentations at conferences around the country.

She sees herself as more of a teacher than an editor and takes every opportunity to share her knowledge. On with the questions:

How long does it typically take for a writer to find a voice and what audience research and experimentation is required to get started?

Finding your voice is really a matter of writing … a lot of writing. It’s not always formal pieces that you publish (on the web or elsewhere), it’s the discovery of what happens when you sit down someplace quiet and start putting the words together. Those words could be in a journal, it could be a novel you’re working on, it can even come from the writing you do in social media, if you do enough of it and you put the thought and effort in.

 

Writers face conflicting messages when setting their style. On one side, they are told to be themselves and ignore critics that expect them to adhere to a particular style. On the other, they are told to write for their audience, which often involves adhering to a particular style with which the audience is familiar. What’s a writer to do?

That’s been a tension ever since people have been writing professionally, as a part of a collaborative group of freelance writers or going solo. To go back to the earlier question, you need to have a voice. There needs to be a reason that _you’re_ writing this piece, and not one of a million other voices on the web. Once you know what your voice is, you can turn it to any number of topics and audiences. There will be some you’re well suited to and some you aren’t.

 

There needs to be a reason that _you’re_ writing this piece, and not one of a million other voices on the web”

 

What level of expertise does a copywriter need to write about a subject? Are there copywriters capable of writing about any topic?

You need to know enough to be able to teach your audience something meaningful. I’ve never met a writer who could write about absolutely anything, but a great deal of copywriting is delving into your topic until you know it well enough to have something interesting to say.

 

Is it better to think about SEO optimization before you begin to write or modify at the end?

Write for people. Anything you write needs to work first and foremost for human readers, or it’s pointless. SEO can be fantastic for finding more readers, but the writing has to work for those human readers first, and then thoughtfully tweaked (if necessary) so search engines can find you.

 

Anything you write needs to work first and foremost for human readers, or it’s pointless”

 

What is the first thing you look for in a new copywriter?

The ability to engage a reader, both by immediately attracting attention and then holding that attention over time. I can teach a lot, but I can’t teach that.

 

What level of personalization does an audience want? What personal details about the brand or writer are effective to include and which should be left out?

This depends entirely on the audience, but most brands err too much on the side of the impersonal, particularly in web-shareable content. I don’t particularly need to know what you had for lunch today, but I _do_ want to feel like I’m doing business with a human being who understands my own needs as a human being.

 

Can you explain what the terms harpoon and net mean in a content marketing context? Which is better for a startup to use to gain traction?

A “harpoon” is a term I came up with in this post: http://www.copyblogger.com/harpoon-or-net/ for a particular copywriting style — it’s a “single shot” at the prospect. It comes out of direct response copywriting, and it’s an amazing skill, but it’s tricky to master. Content marketing is more like weaving a net that surrounds a prospect and makes her feel comfortable and informed. Instead of an ad (whether it’s online, broadcast, print, or direct mail) that only has one shot, a content net gives you multiple opportunities to present an appealing offer. Even the brightest pay-per-click hotshots now are sending prospects to a content sequence, rather than a standalone sales page — it just gives you a lot more opportunity to make the case for your offer.

Is it worth it to pull subpar content if that means breaking schedule?

Don’t publish subpar content. It does more harm than good. If it means you’re breaking your schedule, you need to rethink your schedule.

 

What SM platform do you expect to have the biggest value gain next year for the content marketer?

Google+ is a dark horse that I think will have a lot of potential. It may not be the platform that your customers are on (in most markets, it isn’t), but it’s a terrific spot to build your network of web publishers who can promote your content and find you a wider audience.

For connecting directly with your audience and customers, it depends on where those folks hang out. You need to know where your people are.

 

Google+ is a dark horse that I think will have a lot of potential”

 

What’s a brand that younger companies can look to as a content marketing role model?

Besides Copyblogger? :) Watch your social media streams and see what pulls you in. The next brilliant content marketer will be someone we haven’t heard of yet — the next Dollar Shave Club or Blendtec “Will it blend” campaign. I think smaller businesses will lead the charge on this one — the giant companies and their ad agencies still think “content marketing” means “really clever advertising.”

 

Smaller businesses will lead the charge”

 

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