The Hired Hand – Not just another blah-blah-blog

October 18, 2017

My Favorite Free Resources for Freelance Writers

Filed under: Writing — Darcy Grabenstein @ 9:59 pm
Tags: , , , ,

For more than 30 years, I’ve been a freelance writer. I’ll admit that I’ve also held down a full-time job for 99 percent of those years. I can’t afford to waste time searching for what I need to complete writing assignments. So I’m very discriminating when it comes to free online resources for writers. I want resources that are reputable, easy to navigate, and offer useful information.

Following are several of my go-to websites for everything from expert sources to stock images.

Writing

Purdue University’s OWL Writing Lab is a comprehensive resource on for more formal writing topics. You’ll find all the basics — grammar, punctuation, mechanics — plus subject-specific writing, research and citation, and more.

SEO

Let’s face it, when you’re optimizing copy for search engines, Google is the search engine to target. Industry statistics show that, in terms of global market share from July 2016 to July 2017, Google led with about 92 percent, followed by Bing and Yahoo! at 2.5 and 2.3 percent, respectively.

That said, the Google AdWords Keyword Planner is a helpful tool for researching which keywords and phrases to include in your copy. Granted, you need a Google AdWords account to access the tool, but you don’t need to spend any money to do so. One way around it is to create and pause an AdWords campaign. You may, however, need an active AdWords campaign in order to access the tool.

Marketing

For marketing copywriters, the HubSpot blog is a treasure trove of information. The folks at Hubspot have content marketing down to a science. Admittedly, the categories are rather broad: marketing, sales, and customer success. However, the marketing blog posts cover many writing topics. A search on the word “writing” turns up dozens of related posts.

Seth Godin is synonymous with marketing. What I love about his blog is that it’s to the point. One blog post, for instance, is only 175 words. While this may go against SEO best practices for minimum word count, Godin’s posts are written with the reader in mind.

Blogging

The Copyblogger blog offers useful insights, whether you’re a newbie writer or one with decades of experience. Topics run the gamut from conversion to eBooks to social media.

Images

Many blogging sites require writers to supply their own images. One site that consistently shows relevant search results is Burst, powered by Shopify. When I entered the word “summer,” the site returned 141 matches, including these:

Summer images

Expert resources

If you’re looking for an expert resource for an article, Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is a great starting point. Founded by public relations guru Peter Shankman, HARO is now owned by Cision. HARO is used by both writers and expert sources. I also do public relations work, so I have used HARO for both finding sources and for making my clients available as expert sources.

Research

The following site could also be categorized under “fun.” It’s easy to get distracted when you’re using the internet archive Wayback Machine. This nonprofit site is a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. It’s a great visual reference for a historical perspective of websites as well as now-defunct sites.

I have to give another shout-out to Google here. If you don’t already use Google alerts, now’s the time to start. Wearing my PR hat, I’ve got to say it’s a free way to monitor mentions on the web. For research, just plug in your keywords and you’ll stay up to date on news regarding that topic. And from a marketing standpoint, it’s an easy way to keep tabs on the competition.

Legal

Many freelance writers do not have the luxury of running contracts by a lawyer. The Freelancers Union has a contract creator that lets you specify details including late fees, cancellation fees and numbers of revisions.

Freelance gigs

I’m hesitant to share the following resource, since it will increase my competition for writing gigs. It’s the Morning Coffee eNewsletter. The free weekly email digest includes a variety of freelance writing jobs, some of which are exclusive to the newsletter. I have landed several projects using this resource.

My list is continually evolving, as I come across new resources all the time. Be sure to bookmark your own favorite sites, and watch as your list continues to grow, too.

 

 

Advertisements

January 29, 2013

Digital marketing D – A – R – C, that’s me!

Hello My Name Is badgeMy first name, Darcy, is admittedly a bit out of the ordinary. Over the years, I’ve learned to answer to Marcy, Dorothy, Darby – you name it. One nickname that has stuck, however, is Darc (rhymes with parse).

That’s why, when I read a recent article, “How the HubSpot CMO Screens for Top Marketing Talent,” I couldn’t help but think “That’s ME!”

The article states (the comments in italics are my own):

“The perfect inbound marketing manager has a variety of different skills.
At HubSpot, we like to use the acronym ‘DARC,’ which stands for digital, analytical, reach, and content:

  • Digital means they live their lives online and are familiar and comfortable with blogging, social media, and the web in general.While we’re on the topic of names, Digital could be my middle name. For the past 12-plus years, I have lived/breathed e-commerce. My current focus is on email marketing. I remember early on being at conferences where they asked for a show of hands who uses email and IM… who texts… telecommutes… or has an online portfolio… and eventually a smartphone… a Facebook page… a Twitter account… a LinkedIn account… a blog… a Pinterest account. Invariably, I was one of the few who had my hand proudly held high. Truth is, my writing now flows directly from my brain, out my fingertips and onto my laptop screen. Don’t even think about asking me to write something longhand.
  • Analytical means they like to measure what they do, and they make decisions based on data.

    I’ll admit that I usually leave the actual number crunching to the analytical folks. But that doesn’t mean I don’t incorporate their findings into my work. This is particularly crucial when it comes to email marketing. With so many variables to test – from the “from” line to subject lines, copy, graphics, calls to action, landing pages, social sharing, time of deployment, list segmentation and more – “test, test, test” has become my mantra.
  • Reach means they have a knack for growing their network by creating a gravitational attraction to what they do – and people want to follow their work.You’re here reading my blog, aren’t you? My blog is one way I reach out to my peers and prospective clients. And, as they say, there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. So I’ll post links to my blog on other networking sites. I don’t expect people to find my blog on their own – I make it easy for them to do so, by posting content where they live (and work) online.
  • Content means they are naturally a content creator, and they’re not afraid of it. (You’d be surprised how many people are scared of writing a blog article.)”If content is king, then I consider it my crowning glory. In the days of print publications, I was known as a writer or a copywriter. Now I’m called a content creator. It’s just semantics. What I do is develop messages targeted to a specific audience, with a specific goal in mind – such as generate brand awareness, educate, sell a product or service, increase membership or sway opinion. There’s a lot of buzz out there about SEO content, but the bottom line is you’ve got to write for real people, not the search engines, in order to establish a true connection.

So feel free to call me DARC. I’ll take it as a compliment.

Check out Darcy Grabenstein on Google+

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: