What is SEO?

You’ve probably heard the term SEO, but do you really know what it is and how to use it to your advantage? A clear understanding of SEO is vital to building a successful website. This article is the first in a series covering SEO for Beginners.

 

SEO is a title that is commonly used in marketing online today. At its base, the idea of SEO means Search Engine Optimization. This is the process of optimizing a specific website to rank well on search engines like Bing, Google, Yahoo and so on. There are many different levels to SEO depending on what you want to rank their site on these search engines for:

Local SEO

Many website owners are interested in capturing top search engine results for their area and within their niche. This can work particularly well for new local restaurants, new local contractors and more. Making sure that a local business is able to appear near the top of local search engine results will ensure that more people will have a tendency to go and visit that location.

Keyword Targeting

Keyword targeting within search engine optimization is another big aspect of creating value on a page. This involves the process of creating high-quality content that is embedded with keywords for a site. As people begin to search for terms within the niche for a website, more valuable content that is visited often will appear highly in search engine results. Keyword targeting through content marketing and on page optimization is a strategy that many new website owners use to build their audience from search engine traffic.

On Page Technical SEO

There are a number of technical aspects that go into SEO as well. In order for a page to perform well over search engines, it has to load fast, have well-optimized images and have the ability to load well on mobile devices. All of these factors can contribute to the success of the page as well as its ranking on search engines.

 

As you can see, search engine optimization is a technical process that is sometimes best handled by a professional service. Keep in mind that performing poor optimization or using plagiarized content on your page can heavily penalize your search engine value so it is important to focus on creating highly optimized content which is original and valuable!

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What is the Gig Economy?

gig economy
noun
a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs
Oxford Dictionaries

In recent years there has been a considerable shift in the overall nature of work. Where previously almost every working person would find a job (or at least an industry/sector of work) for life, there is a rising trend towards temporary and short-term positions. In general, this represents a notable move away from certainty, security and stability in work.

While many find this prospect at least a little bit scary, it also brings many new opportunities and the potential for greater freedom, varietal and control in your work. The modern Gig Economy is fiercely competitive but presents extraordinary potential for success to those who seize their chances. Savvy entrepreneurs are the new CEOs and CFOs of their own lives. You don’t have to build up a bricks-and-mortar company or sacrifice your work-life balance to be your own boss.

“This on-demand, or so-called gig, economy is creating exciting economies and unleashing innovation. But it is also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.”

Hillary Clinton

To realise success in the Gig Economy, you need to first understand what it is and how it’s different from the way in which previous generations have worked and lived.

The rise of the Gig Economy is in large part a result of rapid advances in technology. In particular, the ubiquity of high-powered personal digital devices (i.e. smart phones) with constant global access to the internet has created a web of electronic marketplaces that never close. It’s easier than ever to establish yourself as an independent contractor and market your services directly to millions of potential customers.

To be continued…

Your Selling Point

Let’s face it – the labour market is competitive. Really competitive.

No matter what you do, there are probably thousands of other people out there who are doing (or willing to do) essentially the same thing. This is true whether you’re a writer, a designer, a salesperson or a driver.

If you want to be truly successful in your field then you need a selling point. Something that sets you apart from the crowd. A reason for clients or customers to choose you instead of anybody else.

Are you doing it better? Faster? Bigger? Cheaper?

Is your range of products the widest? Do you have your own niche area of focus? Is it easier book a job through you? Do you accept more payment methods? Are you more flexible and willing to go the extra mile?

If you don’t have a selling point then stop what you’re doing and get one. Look at your competitors – what are they doing differently? What is everybody else doing? More importantly – what is nobody doing that there could be a market for?

You may think that spreading your net widest will net the greatest returns. This is true in some cases, however, more often than not specialising is the best strategy. Limiting your scope allows you to focus your efforts on a narrower area and make sure you’re the best in that area. People like experts so make this very clear. Even if other people are doing what you’re doing plus more, you will attract interest by highlighting that you focus solely on one thing. Obviously you don’t want to make your ‘one thing’ so narrow that you exclude too much of the market – sometime the only way to work this out is trial and error.

Make people want you. Instead of begging for work you should be offering your services and making it clear why you’re the best person for the job. Establish your selling point. Take control.

The Gig Shortlist

This list serves a quick starting point for the range of potential money-making avenues you can pursue. Which options are best for you will depend on your skills, resources, timeframe and location.

Each will eventually be discussed in a dedicated post but if you have a burning question then get in touch!

  • Monetised website or blog
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Sell things
  • Online trading
  • Share economy
  • Airbnb
  • Pet sitting, dog walking
  • Surveys
  • Internet use
  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Graphic design
  • Art
  • Photography
  • Teaching, tutoring
  • Sewing and alterations
  • Consulting
  • Transcription
  • IT support
  • Data entry
  • Telemarketing
  • Leaflet distributing
  • Personal assistant
  • Drive (e.g. Uber, Lyft)
  • Product testing
  • Fundraising

Getting Started in the Gig Economy

For most people, the hardest part about succeeding in the Gig Economy is getting started.

This is normal.

Society and the media continue selling the idea of a single, stable job as the real-world possibilities for this evaporate. To reach your full potential you need to embrace the opportunities that the Gig Economy offers. Get yourself out there. Find your niche. Make yourself known. Success, satisfaction and money will follow.

First Steps

Clearly, the Gig Economy is less predictable than a ‘career’ has traditionally been – at least less predictable than a career was 50 years ago. When getting started, don’t forget your basic needs. You still need somewhere to live, something to eat and people to share your life with. Success is hollow without human connection.

Assets

How you approach this will depend on your current situation, your assets (both personal and financial) and your skills.

If you have the privilege of being able to live cheaply with family or friends – use it. Everyone needs help to get established. It is a sign of strength to understand when you need help and to accept it with humility. Don’t see it as a step back or an imposition. Taking temporary measures to minimise your cost of living will let you focus more time and energy on building a sustainable independent income.

If you have money saved away for a rainy day then consider how stormy your situation really is. While it can cost money to money, especially in the early stages, consider the risks and rewards. Spending a portion of your savings on a new camera, programming courses or art supplies may be necessary to start up your project – but also take time to find alternative avenues. Perhaps you can borrow a camera once a week? Perhaps you can learn what you need to online for free? Perhaps you can use a computer at the library instead of buying your own?

It is a sign of strength to understand when you need help and to accept it with humility.

Skills

It may seem obvious, but how you get started is likely to be determined by the skills you already possess. If you’re already able to do something that people will pay for then it makes sense to start by monetising this – even if it isn’t your ultimate goal. Embracing the Gig Economy doesn’t necessarily mean only pursuing your passion. You can start by shifting to greater independence and control in your current field then use this a stepping stone to an alternative path. If you’re working in graphic design but keen to branch out then picking up some freelance graphic design work is a logical starting point. From there, you can work on building your personal brand, portfolio and online presence to move into other areas of interest.

While you may not feel like you have any skills that can be traded, consider the vast arena of (relatively) unskilled gigs. These are gigs that don’t require any specific training or experience to get started, such as online trading or completing surveys. Your personal qualities can still influence how well you perform in these roles, so it’s worth looking over your options and working out which best suit you.

Building Your Gig Portfolio

The immense range of potential avenues can initially be overwhelming. Don’t fear – we’ve all been there.

You may already have a good idea of where you want to focus your efforts. If you’ve always wanted to turn your hobby into a full-time pursuit then this step may be simple (though it probably won’t be easy). It’s important to consider your options seriously regardless. I’ve met many people who found tying their passion to money drained it of enjoyment and led them to regret the move.

If you’re not sure how you want to make money – take a look at The Gig Shortlist for inspiration. Think about what will most likely provide an adequate income but also think about what you will enjoy, what you will find fulfilling and how much time or effort each would require. You may be able to start something immediately if you have readily marketable skills (e.g. graphic design) or resources (e.g. an empty room just waiting to be listed or a car that’s ready for ridesharing). You may also need to invest some time and/or money to get things off the ground (e.g. craft supplies and production or a typing course).

Diversify

One of the key advantages of the Gig Economy is the ability to diversify your work. By dividing your time between multiple avenues of income you can keep your work interesting, have greater control over how and when you work, and protect yourself against market fluctuations. Many gigs will see fluctuations over time – demand for Airbnb properties, for example, is often seasonal and will change with local events and the overall economy. Unless you have the rare fortune to find a niche of high demand and reliable returns, it would be wise to avoid putting all of your eggs in one basket. For most people, this means a mix of income streams including some that are interesting and enjoyable with others that are purely to keep money coming in. Interest and enjoyment won’t pay your rent or put food on your table.

By dividing your time between multiple avenues of income you can keep your work interesting, have greater control over how and when you work, and protect yourself against market fluctuations.

Where to next?

Making a living in the Gig Economy is hard work. If all of this is confusing or intimidating then take a step back and breathe. It’s scary to take the power and responsibility for your livelihood into your own hands – especially when you’ve grown up being sold the ‘dream’ of working a steady 9 to 5 job for life. You aren’t the first person to feel this way and you certainly won’t be the last. Subscribe for ongoing advice and inspiration for surviving in the Gig Economy. We’re here to help.