Pay per click or pay for impressions: Which is better for your business?

PPCorCPM

Over the past year, I have managed several Facebook ad campaigns and one of the most challenging elements is always  choosing between paying per click and paying for impressions.  Since it is always a debatable question, I’ve also done some research.  Here’s a quick explanation on how to decide.

What’s the Difference Between the Two?

In case you’re new to online advertising, let me explain both options. In pay per click advertising, also known as PPC, advertisers are charged only when a viewer clicks their ad.  Depending on the advertising platform and competition, a click can cost anywhere from 50-cents to several dollars.  In pay for impressions advertising, also known as CPM, advertisers are charged every time their ad is seen by a viewer,  usually measured as a flat cost per thousand viewers. In CPM advertising, it’s common to pay less than 25-cents for thousands of impressions.

When is PPC Advertising a Better Choice?

According to my own experience and what I’ve read, PPC advertising works better for businesses targeting  very narrow, very specified markets. A word of caution, the key here is to know your market.  If you are unable to choose your targeted audience correctly, you may not do well.  It’s also wise to be aware of rogue clickers (as I like to call them) who will click on your ads just to get into your wallet.  This is a nasty little practice often used by rival businesses to drain advertising budgets.  While individual clicks cost more than impressions, in PPC advertising you only have to pay when someone actually takes an action (clicking) based on the ad.  Think of it as only paying for results.

When is CPM Advertising Better?

CPM advertising is more effective for businesses targeting wider audiences, want to increase brand awareness, or have smaller budgets.  While CPM is usually a much less targeted form of advertising, it is usually very economical, and will still result in visitors clicking through to your website.  And, you won’t have to worry about competitors racking up charges on your account by repeatedly clicking your ads.

Something I’m Trying

In a Facebook ad campaign I’m working on at this moment, I’ve setup the ads as half PPC and half CPM to see which method produces the most results.  Utilizing both also creates a nice safeguard until I’m absolutely sure I have my PPC demographics set just the way I need them.

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How to get more email contacts from your blog

email from blog

Lately I’ve been working with a client who, like all of us, wants to grow his email contacts list.  We have all of the usual techniques in use, including placing sign up prompts on key pages of his website and on the sidebar of his business blog. So far, all of these things have proven to be useful, but we wanted to find a way to take it to the next level.

Now, in addition to all of the other ways we’re using to gain email subscribers, I have started adding an email signup link within the text of each post I write for his blog.  Just a simple link at the end of each article has proven to consistently bring in several more contacts each week.  As with any blogging work or copywriting projects, I make sure that the links are not obnoxious and are overall unobtrusive to viewers.

We are pleased with the results.  And, as an added bonus, I’m optimistic that the subscribers we are gaining from the blog, which is brimming with informational content on my client’s niche, are high quality contacts who already have demonstrated a genuine interest in the topic.

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How One Business Blew a Big (Huge) Opportunity Thanks to a Stale Blog

bam

You know how every business owner waits and waits for that one moment, the moment when the stars align and everything’s going their way, and then, BOOM, success happens? Everyone dreams of that moment.  But, last week I helplessly watched while one business, in the medical field, totally missed their 15-minutes in the global spotlight.

What Happened

In the company’s extremely specialized, very narrow niche, a big, national news story developed out of nowhere.  It broke in the middle of the day just before the holiday weekend.   The news, which affected stock values, big pharma companies, and even individual patients, resulted in a huge increase of searches on their keywords, traffic to their Facebook page, and users reaching out for conversation, debate, and answers on the topic.

No one from the company responded.  Absolutely no one.  They didn’t even put up a blog post about the breaking news.  They looked stale and off their game.  They totally blew it.  And then it was over just as quickly as it started.

What Went Wrong

They weren’t ready.  With inconsistent blogging efforts, and no one monitoring social networking accounts, there simply wasn’t anyone on the watch or monitoring their online communities. No one was at the ready to capitalize on an opportunity that isn’t likely to present itself again in the near future.  In short, the company benefited virtually nothing from a situation that could have landed them the moment they had been waiting on for years.

How You Can Avoid Missing Your Big Break

In social networking and business blogging, I simply can’t stress enough the importance of sticking with it, having a plan in place and jumping on opportunities when they arise.  Consistent and timely blog content is everything here. Even if you don’t have a big budget, a small, consistent effort is better than crickets chirping on your blog when opportunity knocks.

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Why BK’s New French Fry Burger Reminds Me of Some Writers

freelance writing french fries

This morning I read a great piece on Burger King’s newest hamburger, the French Fry Burger.  The writer dubbed the sandwich, a regular hamburger with a handful of fries on a bun, as the “We Give Up” burger.  He cited this as the iconic food chain’s very weak effort to revive dwindling sales in the US.  So, for the “value” price of a buck, Burger King is taking a long shot on a miracle by throwing it all in with the boring use of their same old mediocre fries on top of their typical low-quality fast food eats.  Just the old fries on top of the old burger.  Clearly, there’s no creativity to be found in this effort.

But, why does BK’s effort with this carb-loaded concoction remind me of writers?  Because sometimes writers get desperate.  Too desperate.  Desperate enough to put all their fries on one cheap burger and give it all away at a rock-bottom price– in hopes that it will somehow be the saving grace of a stagnant freelance writing business. Instead of putting out innovative, original, and thought-provoking content, desperate writers churn out more of the same, perhaps tossed into a slightly different format, and then give it away.

If you’re a beginning writer just starting a freelance writing business, I encourage you avoid the treadmill of bottom-of-the-barrel writing jobs, and invest your time in seeking clients who understand the value of professional communication and will compensate you accordingly.  Want fries with that?

Why I save junk mail

freelance writing junk mail

The trash can or recycle bin is the only good place for junk mail, right?  Although it goes completely against my organized mom instincts,  I have a confession to make:  sometimes I keep it.  But, only the good stuff.   I even have a small drawer in my office dedicated to it.   You see, as a freelance writer often looking for ways to grab a reader’s attention through writing, I like to look back through my “quality”  junk mail, that is, the pieces of mail that made me look again, or made me want to actually open the envelope.  It’s great for inspiration when developing blog headlines, email subjects, and even web copy for my writing clients.

So, the next time you see a chance to win a pile of money by subscribing to magazines or how to get a lifetime of insurance for “only pennies a month”, pause for a second.  Is there something on that envelope that made you look?  Is there something that makes you want to bury it in the trash can?  I like to think of it like this….junk mail can be a writer’s best friend by providing daily lessons on what works and what doesn’t…and it’s delivered right to your front door.

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For aspiring writers… is Craigslist always a bad idea?

writing jobs on craigslist

If you’re working on becoming a freelance writer, you’ve likely read about, or at least thought about advertising on Craigslist. Opinions vary widely on the topic, with writers on one side screaming about the poor quality of the jobs you’ll find via your advertising there, and writers on the other side graciously crediting CL with a steady stream of jobs.  I’m in the middle on this one.  While the inevitable scum of online advertising lurks just below the surface, I’m willing to say that Craigslist has, at times, been a benefit for me, especially when I was first starting out and developing a portfolio. Here’s why:

Making Contacts

Truly a global platform, Craigslist works for me simply based on the number of contacts I make… even contacts that may not offer jobs the first time around.  Through CL, I’ve met decision makers and owners of all types of businesses.  In short, anytime a freelance writer can make it onto a business owner’s contact list, it’s a good thing. I’ve been contacted for work up to a couple of years after I first made contact with clients on CL.

You Can’t Beat the Price

It’s free to advertise on CL.  Do I really need to elaborate here?  If you don’t have a budget for advertising or social networking–Craig’s your guy.  Really, there’s nothing to lose here.

What’s Out There?

Advertising will give you an idea of the type of writing jobs you can get on Craigslist.  You’ll receive emails from people wanting many different types of writing ranging from eBook editing to websites and press releases.  As a result, you’ll quickly gain an understanding  of how much AND how little some businesses looking for writers on CL are willing to pay.

Should You Accept Any Job?

Absolutely not.   In reality, there are more pathetically paying jobs on CL than good ones.  Far more.  But, If you hold your moral ground and understand that some of the jobs and rates offered by people who contact you are just plain ridiculous, you’ll be ok. To avoid spending a lot of time working up quotes, create a price list that you can attach to emails as a PDF. Then, send the people who expect you to write an article for a few bucks to the curb–every time, and never work for free.   But, understand that there are some good writing jobs on Craigslist.  I found a few of my first regular clients there, and because they pay well, they like my work, and I’m treated with professionalism and respect, I’m still working with their companies today.

Last Word

If you’re starting a writing business, it’s important to realize that Craigslist isn’t the only or best answer for launching a lucrative writing career, but rather, one of many tools for helping you take those first few steps of the journey to developing a portfolio.   Don’t work for peanuts, use its good points to your advantage, and always, let common sense prevail.

Can you really write from home? (And not starve?)

start a writing business

Lately, I’ve received a couple of emails from aspiring writers who want to start a writing business.  So, rather than going into full detail in an email response, I’ve decided to write a response here, in hopes that it may benefit a few more people.

So, the question begs an answer.  Can you really write from home and make money doing it?  My answer is YES.  In fact, it’s a resounding YES!  And, naturally, the next question is HOW?  How can you make a living writing from home?  As a freelance copywriter for more than ten years, here are the three most important things I recommend for starting a writing business.

Make Time When There Isn’t Any

The first thing you have to decide when starting a freelance writing business is to decide when  you’re actually going to be writing, and working on your business in general.  Whether you’re an already overworked stay at home mom or a 9-5 warrior, it’s important to set aside time to dedicate to your business.  For me, that time is during the day while my kids are at school–and a few hours one evening a week if my work load requires it.  It’s very important to carve out this time before diving in deeper.  If you don’t, it’s like setting up for failure.

Samples, Samples, Samples 

Take a deep breath, because this is where most people who want to start a writing business absolutely freak out.  You’re going to need some samples of your work to get started.  Don’t panic–it is a lot easier than you think. The most important thing to remember here is to go for the best quality samples  you can come up with based on the work experience you have, or even if you have no writing experience. (I’ll explain this further in a minute.)

First, if you have a little writing experience, those samples are obviously the best.  Even samples from volunteer situations, such as non-profit organizations or your church will work.  Convert Word files to PDF using any of a number of free PDF programs out there, and you can easily attach it to an email for potential clients to see.

Now, let’s assume that you don’t have any writing experience or anything you feel comfortable using as a sample.  This was my problem when I started out 10 years ago.  Even if you don’t have any paid writing samples, you can still write pieces to serve as examples of your writing skills in general.  For example, do you have a hobby, or a specific interest?  Write a few 300 word articles about things that interest you.  Look over them carefully, make the necessary edits, and use them until you can replace them with something better–perhaps samples from your first paid projects.

Get the Word Out

No one is going to know that you’re available for paid writing jobs unless you tell them.  Work a little everyday on getting the word out about your new business.  Some ideas include sending a quick message to all your email contacts, announcing it on FaceBook, starting a blog, or even building a website complete with an online portfolio.  When I started, I also took advantage of free online advertising platforms, including Craigslist and Backpage.

Need More Help?  Two Options.

First, subscribe to this blog for future posts on topics of interest to aspiring writers, and the launch of our new eBook, coming on October 1:  “How I Started a Successful Writing Business with a Borrowed Laptop and a Craigslist Account”. 

Second, schedule a one-on-one phone conference with me!  Get 20 power minutes of evaluating where you are in the process of starting your business and what you need to do to take it to the next level.  $29 for the phone conference only,  or $59 for a 20-30 minute conference and a friendly, written critique of one writing piece up to 2 pages.