Where Should People Really Start Their Careers in SEO Article Writing These Days?
There are way too many people posing to be SEO content writing experts. This week, we decided to really go into the details of starting a career in SEO content with a writer who really knows his stuff.
Simon Zaku, everyone!
Simon is a brilliant blogger and a solid SEO writer. Without any further ado, let’s jump right in.
Rahul: Hi, Simon! Can you give our readers a quick intro?
Well, my name is Simon Zaku and I’m proudly Nigerian from Africa. Basically, I am a freelance content writer and marketer.
What I do is I help companies write only the best and effective content that gets the results, traffic, leads and conversion rates they deserve. Personally, I believe that for every online company to grow, it needs to handle writing (blog, email, or copywriting) as a top priority and that’s where I come to place.
Rahul: I can appreciate that. Well, everyone has a story, Simon. How did you enter this field of freelance writing?
To begin with, I’ve been writing for more than five (5) years now. My write-ups were mostly published on my blogs or as guest blogs when I first started writing online.
About a year ago, I was sitting with my girlfriend and she was reading one of my content pieces and she said;
“Simon, how about writing for other people, I mean, you write so well and companies want this!?
It immediately struck my thoughts and I responded; “that’s a great idea, I’ll begin right away!”
Fast forward to today, I’ve begun freelance writing, set up a solid writing career and have worked (and still work) for amazing companies and publications so basically, the whole idea of this freelance writing thing was my girlfriend’s.
Rahul: That’s awesome! Having such a strong influence in your life can make such a difference.
SEO writing is no secret. And the field is stuffed with so many writers. How did you get your first client?
That’s pretty correct, Rahul; the SEO writing industry is stuffed with so many writers. Some of which are actually good while most are “so-called”. This was something I carefully looked through before deciding to go into freelance writing.
I asked myself questions like, why would this company or agency work with me and not the other freelance writer?
I did a pretty deep research and thought to myself, I could easily use my credibility to win clients over other freelance writers. Thing is, most online companies are always careful when hiring. This is to avoid a situation where they pay for something and regret afterward.
These were things I looked at…
I carefully sat down and thought about what I could say to companies to work with me. In fact, I drafted about 5 different pitches which included my experience, past work links, and testimonials. Yes, I like to see this as a pitch and not a CV because I put myself in a selling situation and not a ‘job search’.
After crafting my some well-written pitches, I started signing up for freelance platforms like Fiverr, freelancer.com and so forth but unfortunately, I never got a single client off those platforms. How then did I get my first client?
I realized I had a more powerful tool at hand; MY BLOG…
Since I already built a great blog with 1000s of monthly visits and users, I leveraged it and within days, I started getting writing gigs from companies and agencies. What’d I do?
My blog has since been my number one client generating machine to date. I feel it’s so because potential clients actually get to see live articles I publish hence trust to work with me even more.
Rahul: That’s a brilliant way to go about it. Simon, please share with us some interesting experiences that you had while working.
I’ve had a bunch of experiences working with clients but I’d love to share a ‘downside’. This happened when I wrote articles for a client and when it reached the time to pay, I never heard from him (or her) ever again. It was such a devastating experience putting in so many hours to writing about 5 articles and not get paid for it.
It’s not just me, I also read about freelancers who have been scammed or not been paid for their work, which is an issue that every freelancer needs to be very careful of.
How do I avoid this?
Before I begin working for a client, I ask for half pay (sometimes 60%) to make sure I am dealing with a serious client. Another additional thing to do is to ask for social media handles and website URL too. This way, you could look up the person (or company) and be sure you’re not just wasting your time.
Rahul: Congratulations on getting your blog nominated for the Infinity Blog
Awards. Please tell our viewers about how that happened. Do you have a fixed approach or it is more like horses for courses?
Well, I am super honored to see that my blog, simonzaku.com was nominated by Infinity Blog Awards; I never expected it, not a bit. To be honest, I didn’t even know there was anything like ‘Infinity Blog Awards’. In fact, I had to repost it on my WhatsApp status because I was so excited.
But here’s the thing…
What excites me more is the fact that I am representing my country, Nigeria out here. Most Nigerians are not into online businesses or marketing because most believe everything online is a scam but I see a lot of improvement and young Nigerians are now starting up businesses, stores, and blogs to make something out of it.
Rahul: What is Simon up to when he is not writing?
Simon: I am a big fan of American music. I love to listen to music, dance and have fun when I’m not writing. Also, I love being alone because it gives me room to think about ideas about my blog and business.
Rahul: You have been in this field for quite some time now. How you see this
industry shaping up in the next few years?
Years backs, here in Nigeria, literally no one thought anything good could come out of online businesses. In fact, I myself thought online deals were just made-up scams and nothing more. For the past five years I’ve been writing, and there’s been massive improvement generally.
Businesses are now moving online, brands are now starting blogs and now realizing the power of using the internet to market their goods and services. Why am I specific about Nigeria?
Because it’s way easier to get clients in the same location you are than getting clients in different locations or countries. For instance, I could hit up a company and say “hey, let me double your website traffic using blogging” and they are like “wow, that’ll be super great, how do we begin but first of all are you available to meet so we could talk better?”
But today, I see the internet shaping people’s perspective about online marketing and blogging. In fact, this isn’t just about Nigeria but all over the globe.
Billions of people now use the internet and businesses are now aware of this goldmine. As a matter of fact, you don’t need a billion people (customers or clients) to build a successful business. Rather you just need a small portion of these to buy your stuff.
In a nutshell, online marketing is on the rise all over the globe and I see it rising even higher thus craving way for freelancers (like me) to help businesses by doing what we do best!
Rahul: Wow. I totally get that. It’s almost the same in India. Though, there has been a massive change in the past few years.
There are lots of ups and downs in this field, man. How do you handle the downs?
One of the best things I’ve done for myself is to learn how to handle downs or cheer up.
In every business, downs are more frequent in the start but with persistence and smart work, you’ll surely make it through.
This is what I always tell myself every single time I’m facing a difficult time and it works like magic. I’ve also cultivated the habit of taking breaks whenever I feel negative about my business. This way, I can clear my head off obstructions and focus on what works and what I believe in.
Rahul: When do you know as a blogger that it’s time to automate your social
There’s no perfect time for automation; there never was. Social media automation is the process of setting up a system (tools and strategies) to save more time on social media. From start, you should be wise enough to know that spending valuable time on social media platforms isn’t really productive; on the other hand, spending time on your customers, clients, calls, etc is.
I didn’t start using any automation tools or strategies until I noticed I was spending way more time than I should on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
Tools like Buffer, Commun.it, Tailwind and so on should help.
Also, don’t be carried away by the ‘joy of automation’ and start automating every aspect of your social media. Focus on automating tasks like posting and content curation; engaging and replying should be done manually.
This is where my social media skills come to play; when companies or agencies are too busy talking to clients (or customers), I’ll personally craft their blog strategy, publish weekly, well-written articles and handle social media too. This way, businesses could get more done by doing less.
Rahul: Tell us about your top ‘three things to try before you die’.
I haven’t really thought about the top 3 things to do in life but here’s a list of goals I will accomplish ‘before I die’:
– Make my parents (and family) SUPER PROUD.
– Travel to at least half the population of countries on earth.
– Work with a billion dollar company!
“Am I doing the right thing?”
This is the #1 question that new freelancers end up asking themselves. Hopefully, this interview will give you at least some of the answers that you are looking for.
Tune in next week for more awesome interviews on News Elixir. Also, share this post because Simon said so.
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