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What do you charge for your marketing services? What are your fees and costs?

Forgive me but I have to answer your question with a question. How long is a piece of string? And more specifically, how long is your piece of string? The best first step is to make contact and let me know what areas of your marketing need attention. I’ll then be in touch and we can either set up your free half-hour no-obligation discovery call to chat about your business and marketing needs, or we can progress via email — whatever works best for you.

 

For more details about my freelance marketing services, please take a look at my  ABOUT page. In terms of costs, there’s no one-size-fits-all: sometimes hourly rates work best, and other times, a one-off project fee. As the work evolves your needs may also change. Either way, the lines of communication are always open and everything is quoted and agreed on upfront and in writing by both of us.

After the brief, and once we agree on the project scope and costs, how does the process work in terms of invoices, revisions and timing?

The first step is for you as the client, to complete the brief. This serves to outline the scope of the work, objectives, and deliverables. This ensures we’re on the same page in terms of expectations and timing. Once we agree on the brief, I’ll email a quote, detailing the job scope, timing, and terms of business. After questions or additional clarity, if you accept my quote I require 50% deposit upfront to greenlight the project.

 

There may be additional detail needed like a business and branding question sheet, which forms part of the creative process. After I submit the completed work, there are 2 rounds of revisions, with ideally 5 business days for each round (unless deadlines are tighter and we agree otherwise upfront, or you require more time to revert with feedback).

 

Once we agree on the final changes after Revision 2, the project is signed off as completed. When submitting the final work I invoice the final 50%. Any additional work required after Revision 2 is charged at an hourly rate. All invoices are payable within 7 days of date of invoice.

I’m a small business, with a small marketing budget, limited time and resources. Do I really need to spend money on marketing?

Because small business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs are mostly running on empty (which includes the marketing budget), it’s that much more important to establish some branding fundamentals, key objectives and evergreen strategies to help establish and ultimately propel your brand to long-term success.

Once the basics are in place, branding, to some extent, can run on auto-pilot. Of course we all love to work with bigger budgets, which is often the case when working with established brands and corporates. But irrespective of your budget, every business owner wants to maximise each dollar. So it’s a matter of prioritising, refining and implementing the right strategy that optimises results for your brand, your target customer, within the allocated budget.

Other than copywriting, content and brand strategy, how does web design, graphic design and social media fit into what you do? And can you do all this?

Design and media scheduling are specialised areas which, for your brand’s best results, would require specialists in that area. I collaborate seamlessly with web developers, designers and other third parties on joint client projects. I can work with your preferred agencies, which may be long-established relationships that already work well, or I can suggest some specialist agencies to meet your requirements.

In terms of my website's SEO and other digital content, how soon can I expect to see results in my Google ranking? And can you guarantee me a page-1 ranking?

Let’s bring back that piece of string. Results are based on your objectives, which need to be defined upfront. Some results could be more instant, like web traffic from a Facebook ad to your website (which may not convert to a sale if the user experience fails to deliver; your brand is not just one thing). But other results may take months like organic Google ranking. We’d need to realistically discuss your marketing objectives upfront, measurables and timing.

 

It’s crucial to bear in mind there is no such thing as an overnight success, and evergreen brands are not built in a day. One spectacular result on one medium is not a measure of business success. Your brand is many things, and success takes time. Having said all that, the Google glass is more than half-full because well-written website content and all digital marketing writing can absolutely get your brand and that piece of content to rank better for Google. But be wary of any SEO expert that promises you the internet earth because even the best written digital content that ticks every SEO box, if (say) built on a weak technical platform, won’t achieve any top ranking honours. Again, no thing is just one thing – including SEO.

Okay then, so other than content writing, what else impacts on Google ranking?

It’s important to remember that content writing (front-end, what your customer reads) is only one piece of the Google puzzle in terms of ranking. Your website’s build (back-end, architecture) is as important as the words that a content writer may write, for Google to rank. (You could hire the most expensive interior decorator with the highest industry accolades to make your home look exquisite, but if structurally, your architect built your house without plans or integrity, it’s just a matter of time before it all crumbles – chandeliers and all.)

 

So back to the Goog. To index and rank your website, your site needs to be built on a robust SEO responsive and reliable platform. Because without a strong website back-end, your SEO content strategy cannot work unrealistic SEO miracles. That’s why it’s important to understand the clear divide between the responsibilities of a SEO content writer versus a website developer.

 

Platforms like WordPress, Weebly, Wix and Square Space are all robust and strong solutions to optimise Google ranking. But there are arguments for and against all – like DIY vs hire a web developer; ease of use vs flexibility of platform; and cost for initial build vs long-term business objectives.

 

I’d be happy to have a more technical conversation about your website’s development, or even your current site (if you already have one). I’d also be happy to collaborate with any web developer you may choose.

Got it. Specifically then, assuming my website is built on a robust platform, how long until an improved ranking because of well-written SEO content?

There are in excess of 1.7 billion websites today – although only about 200 million are active (source: internetlivestats.com/total-number-of-websites). So if you’re a brand new website, it’s going to take Google’s crawling spiders a bit of time to find you (about 3 months+). And even if you’ve only just revised your content, on an already established website, it can also take months to notice an improvement in your organic Google ranking. Things like highly competitive keywords, fresh content updates, and competing against other long-established websites in a similar industry, all impact on how quickly you may see a change in your organic ranking.

So what’s the difference between organic ranking versus paid-for Google advertising?

The top-of-page Google search results on each page denoted with tiny ‘Ad’ are paid-for by those businesses. These ads appear at the top of your search because these companies have a Google Ads (previously AdWords) campaign running with a monthly budget commitment to Google (often working through a specialised agency), bidding for keywords, and targeting locations. And even with a monthly Google Ads budget, there’s no guarantee that your business will appear top of page or at all, following a keyword search. A lot of paid keywords – especially the industry/category lead keywords are expensive because of the bidding by big budget industry leaders. So a paid Google ad campaign often proves prohibitive for smaller to medium sized businesses – especially if the industry has some massive players that can outbid smaller budgets on high-ranking keywords. The more niche and specific your keywords, the greater chance for success for a small business. There’s a science in keyword selection and Google Ad campaigns.

 

But there are other ways to achieve similar results (remember, your brand is not just one thing). This brings us back to content writing, and natural or organic ranking – which are the other listings that appear under the paid ads. And there is no cost to appear in Google’s organic natural results. Although, to appear on Google’s page-1, there is a very likely chance those businesses have paid a content writer to write digital copy that optimises beautifully for Google, and proves an enjoyable read for humans. SEO copywriting is therefore an investment in your brand. Because once you’ve paid the initial cost for cleaning up your content writing to talk to Google, that search optimised digital content can live forever on the interweb, and has the potential to bring in customers (even while you sleep!).

 

But beyond initial ranking, things like refreshing your content, publishing blogs, and staying up to date with SEO changes and best practice is imperative to your brand’s long-term success. This is where a content strategist plays a vital role in helping grow your business.

What about Social Media? Can you do all this too?

Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn — the big four — are all major considerations for any brand’s media mix today. For bigger budgets, there’s also television, radio, print (including digital formats), as well as outdoor. Media is the channel to unlock content, and any media channel selected would require a specified budget.

 

But depending on your budget, your industry, and your objectives, you do not need to be active on all media channels. For most brands (especially smaller businesses with smaller budgets), this is anyway impossible, unnecessary and inefficient. And even if you’re a large firm – like a legal practice, you may deliberately choose to focus on just one primary channel like LinkedIn. Or if you’re a small interior design house, Instagram may be your top focus (even though you could afford more in terms of budget). And if you’re a global FMCG brand, a broad and big-budget mix of traditional and new media would be the norm. Irrespective of the media channel or your budget, compelling content always needs to be created – which is both words (copy) and visuals (design).

 

It’s important to note that content creation and media channels should ideally be separate line items in any marketing budget. And even better, while you’re splitting out costs, design should also be split out. While my content writing services focus on content creation – the words, I’d be happy to chat about media options that best suit your brand, and collaborate with social media specialists to optimally place your content, as well as designers to bring it all to life.

I already have a website, but I don’t love it, and neither does Google. What do you suggest?

The starting point would be a website audit to assess your website holistically, and see if it’s worth refreshing or starting from scratch. Your current Google ranking and the platform it’s built on would probably skew the direction from here. The User Experience (UX) and brand voice (words and tonality) would be the next conversation to have. The good news is that it’s all solvable. And I am ready to help.