Save Time Setting Up Your Business By Starting Off With the Right Tools
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosures for more details.
These tools (with one exception, which I’ll explain when I get to it) are exactly what I use every single day for my freelance SEO writing business, where I’ve earned as much as $60 per hour of my time. With the help of these resources, you’ll be able to:
- get your work done faster and make more money per hour of your time
- ensure that your work is of high quality
- set up a professional-looking website (your online business card!) that will help you to land more clients
Ready? Let’s go then!
1. Setting Up Your Writing Services Website
Setting up a website is highly recommend if you plan on making a serious go of this. You’ll use it to explain the services that you offer (think of it as your detailed online business card!) and tell clients a bit about yourself.
A professional-looking website with well-written content will set you apart from all of the fly-by-night writers who, um, can’t actually write. And all of the content that you put on your website will showcase yet another style of writing that you can do (because it will be very different from the style and content of your sample articles.)
Speaking of samples… put these on your website too. That way, when clients ask to see your samples, rather than fiddle around with uploading the files in an e-mail, you can simply refer them to the samples page on your website.
Professional versus Amateur Hour
Do not make the mistake of cheaping out here and setting up a website for free.
Why not? Because then you’d end up with a URL that looks something like this: www.YourDomainName.wordpress.com or www.YourDomainName.blogspot.com or www.YourDomainName.tumblr.com.
WordPress, Blogspot, Tumblr, and other services like them all offer amateur bloggers and hobbyists a free website. The catch is that they get free advertising by having their company name be part of your URL.
And that, my friend, screams “AMATEUR!” The last thing you want is for potential clients to get that message when they visit your website.
Go to Google right now and start to look for websites belonging to businesses that you know and trust. You’ll see that they all have URL’s like www.nytimes.com or www.safeway.com. They’re not advertising someone else’s business in their URL, are they! And neither should you.
Here are the services that you’re going to use to set up a website for your writing services quickly and cheaply. Without ending up looking like an amateur.
These are the exact same services that I use, and I can say from personal experience that they work well and provide good value for your money.
Step 1: Buy a Domain Name
The domain name is just the name of your website (no spaces), ending with an extension such as .com, .org, .co, .net etc.
For example, if you decided to name your website “William Writes”, your domain name might be WilliamWrites.com.
I like to keep things simple, so I usually buy my domain names from the same company that I use to host my website: Hostgator. Having a single billing account with Hostgator for my domain and hosting simplifies things compared to buying a domain from one company, and your hosting from another. Buying your domain from Hostgator is pretty cheap too – less than the cost of eating out for dinner.
Step 2: Sign Up With a Hosting Provider
This is just an intimidating name for “the company that allows your website content to show up online.” I’m oversimplifying things with that definition, but the main thing you need to know is that without them, no-one can see your website.
I use Hostgator and I LOVE them. Their customer service is fantastic, their prices are great, and they have an extensive library of online help. I usually use their live chat feature when I need assistance, and they’ve never disappointed me. Help has always arrived quickly, and they stay online with me until my problem is solved.
At the time of this writing, you can sign up for a hosting package here for only 1 cent for your first month.
Step 3: Install WordPress on Your Website
WordPress is used to manage the content on your site. It makes it really easy for even a non-techie to do.
Now this is different from having a URL that says www.YourDomain.wordpress.com. You can still have a URL that ways www.YourDomain.com AND use WordPress to manage the content on your website. Hostgator makes it really easy to install WordPress – see their help articles for full details, or use their live chat feature to get assistance. It is 100% free to use WordPress on your website.
Step 4: Choose a Theme for Your Website
A classy theme will make your website stand out and look extremely professional, even if you’re not a web designer.
I use StudioPress for all of my websites. They offer a lot of classy-looking themes that look great no matter what device someone is using to look at your website. In addition, they provide easy-to-follow instructions for setting up the theme on your website. The cost of a theme varies, but it’s a one-time investment for your website, and well worth it in my opinion.
You may have heard that there are free themes available too. I’ve never used a free theme because either it looked dated, or I wasn’t confident that the theme designer would ensure that the theme was compatible with future WordPress updates. But that’s just me. You should choose whatever your budget allows and you feel comfortable with.
2. Learn to Type Like a Pro With a FREE Homestudy Course
Remember that exception I told you about? You see, I learned how to type in a formal class many years ago, and obviously it wouldn’t be helpful to suggest that you go there since you probably don’t even live in the same city. But rest assured that I’ve found you an even BETTER substitute. This program is not only free, but you won’t even have to leave the comfort of your home to learn everything you need to type like a pro. So, without further ado, here is my top pick for a free home-study course in typing:
Now according to another site, www.TypeQuick.com, it takes only 10 hours of practice to get your speed to 15 words per minute, and five more hours to reach 20 words per minute.
I once took a formal typing class and after about 44 hours of practice I was able to go from the ‘ol “hunt and peck” one-fingered typing to using all 10 fingers and typing at 40 words per minute.
In the last couple of years, I’ve done a LOT of typing — my typing speed is now anywhere from 70-90 words per minute, depending on my concentration level. I’m not sharing that to brag, so please don’t take it that way — my intention is just to show you what’s possible, and reassure you that you won’t be slaving away trying to learn how to do this for a decade. It’ll go much quicker than that!
Typing Fast Can Skyrocket Your Hourly Wage
Learning to type properly will skyrocket your hourly wage. (And by type “properly, I mean using all 10 fingers to type without looking at your keyboard — instead, you’ll be looking at your computer screen).
Most clients won’t pay you per hour of your time. Nope. They’ll pay you a fixed price for the article instead. So the faster you can pump out a good article, the more money you make per hour.
Stick with me for a quick math lesson — it’ll be worth your time for the facts it reveals.
Say your goal to start is to write a 500-word article in 1 hour, and you’re getting paid $20 for it. If you’re a hunter and pecker plugging away at only 5 words per minute, it’ll take you over 3 hours just to type that article with no time for research, outlining, or proofreading it. Your hourly wage has just tanked, and I bet you’re not going to want to lower it further by adding on the time it takes to research, outline, and proofread your work.
You just spent 3.5 hours working to make $5.71 an hour. Yuck. You can do better.
If you’re willing to put in the time to learn to type 20 words per minute, that same article now takes you only 25 minutes to type, and you’ll still be able to set aside 20 minutes for research and outlining, plus 15 minutes for proofreading. Congratulations! Your hourly wage just increased to $20 an hour, AND that includes the time it takes to research, outline, and proofread.
If you practice until you can type 40 words per minute, and you’ll be banging out that article in only 12.5 minutes. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you still spend 35 minutes on research, outlining, and proofreading. You just made over $25 an hour.
But wait, as your typing speed get better, it won’t take you as long to outline your article. And the more you write these kinds of articles, the faster you’ll be at researching them too.
So let’s say you type 40 words per minute — that article now takes you only 12.5 minutes to type — and say you can research and outline your article in 10 minutes, and proofread it in 7.5 minutes. (I know that sounds crazy, but I know from experience that this can be done because I do it all the time, and so can other people I know who do this kind of work.) So now you’re spending a total of 30 minutes per article, bringing your hourly wage to $40 per hour.
And eventually, say you keep at this until your typing speed is even better. You could be researching, outlining, and typing your article in 15 minutes. Allow 5 minutes to proofread it, and boom! You’re banging out 3 articles per hour at $20 each, and making $60 an hour.
Remember, you’re not writing for the New York Times. These articles are intended to be purely functional, no pizazz required.
Speeding up your typing means you’ll make more money per hour (it won’t take you as long to type out your articles). And it doesn’t have to take forever to learn either… if you have the right tools.
3. Word Processing Programs
You’ll need a word-processing program to write your articles in.
I use a free program called OpenOffice. The only catch to using this program is that it defaults to saving your articles in a .odt file, which many clients won’t be able to open. You can get around this by selecting the .doc format (same as what Microsoft Word uses) when you save your articles, and sending them to your client in that format.
You can download OpenOffice for free on their website: https://www.openoffice.org/
An alternative to OpenOffice is Microsoft Word. You can find out all the details, including pricing, on their website: https://products.office.com/en-us/word
Which program should YOU use?
Personally, I think that unless you already have Microsoft Word on your computer, you shouldn’t bother buying it just for SEO writing. Instead, use OpenOffice. It’s totally free, works on Macs and PC’s, and has everything you’ll need for this kind of business.
4. Dictionary and Thesaurus
Oh god, I know. It sounds utterly boring to spend even a minute more than necessary with your nose in a dictionary or thesaurus.
Sometimes you’ll come across a word that you’re unsure of — the online dictionary can be a great help in double checking the meaning.
Additionally, you know how sometimes you’ll read your writing and see that you sound like a broken record, repeating the same word over and over again? The thesaurus will be a godsend in these situations because it’ll allow you to quickly find another word that has a similar meaning and can be substituted.
And if you’re unsure whether or not this other word really means exactly what you think it does, you can use the online dictionary to confirm whether or not it’s suitable.
Here is the free online dictionary that I use:
And here is the free online thesaurus that I use:
5. Plagiarism Checker
I know, you won’t plagiarize anything on purpose. But it’s still a good idea to double check your work in case you accidentally worded something too closely to something else on the internet.
The popular tool that I use for this is called Copyscape Premium.
At the time of this writing, they charge only five cents per article to compare it to everything else that they can find published online. Since your clients will probably use this to check your work, you might as well know what they’ll find before you submit your article to them.
Worst case if Copyscape finds some duplication between what you’ve written and something else online, you can either cite the source of your info, or change your wording… depending on what’s appropriate for the info it finds.
Here is a simple example to illustrate what I mean:
Say you wrote “The sky is blue” and Copyscape flags it as duplicating something else that is already published online. Since the fact that the sky is blue is common knowledge, you don’t need to give credit to that other website for the info. Instead, all you ought to do is change your wording so that it no longer matches what that other websites says. Re-run it through Copyscape after making your changes to make sure that your wording is no longer being flagged.
6. Virtual Editor for Your Articles
Remember when I told you that you ought to use simple words that most people will understand, the active voice, and short sentences? I also recommended that you try to avoid using unnecessary words.
You can get the benefit of an editor without hiring anybody by using the Hemingway App. It will rate the reading level of your article, and flag the kinds of issues that I just mentioned above. This can be a great help for new writers who want to speed up their editing process, and improve their writing.
(Obviously the Hemingway App is not a complete substitute for human eyes reading over your work, but, it’s still pretty handy and can help to train you to write snappier content that’s easy to read.)
It’s free if you don’t mind using their online text editor, or $9.99 if you want the desktop version. **My personal opinion is that you should save your money and use the free online version.
Bonus Tool for Rating the Readability of Your Articles:
Before we move on, here is one more tool that’s handy for rating the readability of your articles: https://readability-score.com/
This tool is also free to use, and will grade the average reading level of your articles. This can be extremely helpful in determining whether or not your work will be understood by the client’s target audience. For most articles, writing at a level that only a university-educated audience would understand is too high – go back and edit until you have a lower score. As long as it’s a grade 12 reading level or lower, you’re good to go
Well, that’s my list of resources and I hope that you find it useful.
What’s next? Finish reading the book if you haven’t already done so. Then, when you get to the chapter on how to set up your business within a week, use these tools and resources to do the job right!