The Five Circles of Hell to Become An SEO Copywriter

1. Creating a low-quality writing
portfolio

When I first started writing for others, I
realized I needed to expand my
portfolio. To do that, I went on Fiverr. It was a brilliant move to start my
writing career. After all, who would
not want three articles from an
American writer on Fiverr? However, jobs on Fiverr only pay $3.5
after PayPal and Fiverr fees. My work
reflected the payment I received. The articles were so poor that looking
back on them today, I am aghast at
the quality. However, the clients
approved them and said they were
great. I guess they did not even read
the content. Soon after I abandoned Fiverr as a
revenue generator. It was not a
sustainable model. Lesson: Use Fiverr as a testing ground, but to find quality clients you should
start looking at other places where
you can get paid for writing quality
content and build your portfolio.

2. Taking every job you can get
your hands on

So what do you do after you start
working on Fiverr? You take the first
job someone offers you! After working on Fiverr for a month, I
found my first client. They needed 54
articles on laser hair removal. Money
talked, and I said “yes” despite
knowing nothing about the topic. My first client taught me that pricing
really does matter. The client paid me
$5 per article. My eyes flashed at the
possibility of earning $270. Yet, I ended up spending over 40
hours on those articles. And according
to Copyscape none of them are even online anymore. What a waste of time. Lesson: Value your time. Quality articles are paid by the amount of
hours invested, not by the word
count.

3. Stuffing your writing with tons of
keywords

Back in 2005, keyword stuffing was
the norm. However, what worked 10
years ago, does not work today
(shocker, I know). My original clients wanted me to stuff
those articles with keywords for all
they are worth. Going back to the laser hair removal
guy. He gave me a bunch of long-tail
keywords that I had to magically
transform into a sentence. Can you guess how many times I
could put the keyword like “the best
laser hair removal procedure San
Diego” in a single paragraph? This is a textbook definition of
keyword stuffing. A lot of SEOs learned their lesson with
this technique when the Google Panda
algorithm slapped their thin sites. Lesson: “keyword optimization” and “keyword stuffing” have nothing in
common. However, I reasoned at the time that it
was what the client wanted. Happy
client means paycheck! Paycheck
means rent and internet paid! And yet, that line of thinking can mess
up your client’s website as well as
your base of business.

4. Knowing which writing gigs are
worth your time

I remember the first time I saw an ad
on a job board about how I could
make up to $300 per guest post. My
excitement lasted till the moment I
reached out to these guys. The reality is that they want you to get
your content published on a large site
like Forbes, so they can garner tons of
traffic. In essence, they want to leverage your
connections with publications like
Mashable, Huffington Post, and other
large-scale blogs and publications. The challenge is that those
publications never accept you being
paid by a third party. They want a cut
larger than your paycheck. That means you spend all that time
working on a blog post for someone
that just never passes muster. As Carole Tice stated in her post on The Write Life: “It’s all too common for freelancers to
latch onto the first client who comes
their way, and then never let go. Even
if they’re obnoxious, or it isn’t the
type of writing you really want to do,
or they don’t pay well.” Writing for companies is like dating.
There are plenty of fish in the sea. If one is not right, then you need to
move to bigger and better fish. Lesson: Do not spend social capital ghostwriting for others when you can
write your own articles that will
eventually bring you bigger and better
clients.

5. Neglecting your grammar

One of my editors asked me the first
time we worked together if someone
from the Philippines wrote the draft I
sent her. While I believe I hail from the windy
city, it was an interesting observation.
That is why it is important to have a
good editor. They filter the junk from
your article. Plus, collaborating with editors shows
you what works and does not work in
your writing. You learn how to correct
your writing as you grow. Lesson: Take your time to edit your content. Search engine optimization
today is as much about great content
and good editing as it is about
backlinks and keywords.

Final Thoughts

Writing articles for business is a great
reward and challenge. The challenges and lessons that I’ve
shared in this article are a culmination
of of over 5 years in the industry
developing my professional
standards. If you are just beginning your own
journey down this path, the best thing
you can do as an SEO freelance writer
is to create your own standards. I’m really keen to know how you
avoided your own circles of hell when
you started your freelance writing
career? Perhaps you are going through those
challenges right now. Let me know if I
can help you!

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