Jump over these five hurdles to write your book

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I recently read an article on identifying the five key hurdles that people face when trying to write a book. I wish I had read this article before I wrote How to Run Your Company… Into the Ground, as I might have done it sooner. Any one of these obstacles can stop someone from writing a book, so it can be difficult to overcome all five of them. If you manage to overcome these hurdles, you will be well on your way to getting your thoughts on a page and writing the best book possible.

So, what are the five hurdles that you must jump over to write your first book?

I don’t have the ability to write (“I’m not good enough” myth)

Everyone can write to some degree; we write almost every day. It’s like any skill – practice makes you better. Spend time to improve your writing skills, and work on improving those skills regularly. Work with an editor to make your writing the best it can be.

I don’t know how to write a book (“I need to know more” myth)

People get intimidated by the length of a book. Think of it as a long writing assignment, or a series of essays. Start with a step (a sentence), then write a paragraph, and keep going. Use your writing to share what you know, and you will get there. Again, you can work with an editor or a ghost writer to help you get the words on the page.

Everything is in my head already (“The wisdom will pour out” myth)

Good writing is well constructed – you can’t just spit out what you know onto a page and expect it to become a book. Start with planning and create an outline – bullet points / headings are a great way to start the plan for your book. Don’t try to do it all alone – get a writing partner / join a writing group / work with a coach or mentor to develop the plan.

I am too busy to write a book (“Wait for the perfect moment” myth)

If you wait for the right time to do something, you will alway be waiting. Make a strategic plan to fit writing into your day. There is always time to write – look at what you can cut out of your day (like TV) or write during your free time. Break your writing into small, manageable chunks, like 500 words a day or 20 minutes at a time. Set a timer and do a content dump, and then look at it later.

I am afraid of being criticized or ignored (“You have nothing valuable to say” myth)

Someone will find value in what you write in your book. You have unique skills, experiences and perspectives. There is an audience that can benefit from that knowledge. You must risk exposure to share your experience. Remember – you will never please everyone. Write to a specific audience. Write for yourself.

Conclusion

Overcoming these hurdles will get you on the way to writing your book. You can overcome these hurdles, because you put them there – remove your hurdles. You have a book in you. Leap your hurdles, and you are well on your way to sharing that book with the world.

Do you need help with writing a book, or editing a book that’s almost ready to go? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

Following the map to success as a freelance writer

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Some time ago, I attended a webinar on creating a road map to increasing success as a freelance writer. The speaker provided a lot of great tips on what you need to do to improve your freelance writing business. I’ve summarized some of the tips here. Put these ideas together to give yourself a better chance at being successful as a freelance writer (other creatives can apply these strategies to their business).

  1. Wake up! Understand that a business takes effort. As a self-employed professional, you must realize that you are running a business, so treat it that way. Some people fool themselves that freelancing is easier than it is because there are low barriers to entry and a lot of potential markets. It’s not easy – finding work takes a lot of work.
  2. You need several key ingredients to be successful in your business. They include focus and commitment to putting all your effort into your business, belief in yourself, and determination to study your craft, prospect constantly and push through all obstacles.
  3. Prospecting is a full-time job. You must do it every day. Spend time on finding new clients, even to the point that you should not waste time on other parts of your business (to a degree).
  4. Use small wins to motivate yourself. Focus on the quick wins – writing a blog post, contacting a new client, responding to a client request – to motivate yourself in moving forward in your business.
  5. Smart positioning is key. Know what you do, who you serve, how you are different, and what that difference matters to prospects and clients.
  6. Tap your network. Reach clients through people you already know, and the people that they know. Go through your LinkedIn contacts, and see who they know that you can connect with.
  7. Take massive action. Double the action you think it will take to get business every day. If you think that you need to contact one new client per week, and it takes 10 emails / calls to get one new client, then reach out to 20 prospects per week.
  8. Develop a support system. Get support from other successful writers for ideas and advice. Join a peer group of professionals that are facing the same challenges. Get an accountability partner to help keep you on track. Hire / find a coach / mentor to show you the fast track to success.

What suggestions do you have for creating a road map to success? Do you need help with becoming more successful as a freelancer? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

Essential copywriting tips for freelance writers

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Volumes of books, articles, websites, etc. have been written on the art and science of copywriting. There are many experienced copywriting experts who teach expensive, worthwhile courses on the subject. I don’t pretend to be one of them. However, I’ve learned a few key copywriting strategies along the way.

These seven tips can help almost anyone improve their copywriting effectiveness. You can apply these tips to your email and article writing as well.

  1. Understand the value of headlines. Your headline must grab the reader’s attention. A well-written headline makes your content more appealing and special.
  2. Do not (always) try to be clever. Your content should focus on clarity over cleverness – i.e., being bigger than you are, joking around, using writing tricks. Be clear first.
  3. Develop a compelling big idea. Describe your key benefit compressed into a statement. Convey something that matters in a short sentence. It’s more than a tagline – it states your central idea.
  4. Research to find big ideas. Writers often overlook the importance of research. Dig to find great ideas and trends, and repeat. This includes interesting facts, snippets, phrasing, stories, case studies, customer problems and solutions, etc. Research is about getting to know your target market, and what is important to them.
  5. Pull your audience to you – the people who are hungry for your topic. Figure out what that audience is hungry for, or missing, and then give it to them.
  6. Set a goal. You need a call to action, which will take your reader to what you want them to do. The call to action should be a direct statement of what you want them to do next – call, click, email, etc. Your call to action should be in every piece of content you provide.
  7. Don’t be boring! Boring content does not work, especially today. Make your content interesting and compelling to read. Inject your personality into your writing. Use design, images, layout, etc. to make your content stand out. Tell good stories.

What tips do you have to offer in making copywriting better? Do you need help with your copywriting? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

The benefits of exploring value with clients – What I learned from Breaking the Time Barrier

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Some time ago, I read Breaking the Time Barrier by Mike McDerment of FreshBooks and Donald Cowper. The book describes (among other things) how freelancers and the self-employed can unlock their true earning potential by focusing on value instead of charging by the hour. It is written by Mike McDerment (from FreshBooks) and Donald Cowper, and can be downloaded from the FreshBooks website, so make sure that you check it out (I am not an affiliate and have no financial stake in his website).

To follow are seven mutual benefits of exploring value with clients from Breaking the Time Barrier, which I hope to achieve in building my business:

  1. Creates trust. Getting to know more about your client’s needs inspires trust that you care about them and their needs, and that you know what you are doing in your business.
  2. Fosters alignment. It ensures that you are on the same page with your client. Start by determining where they are now, and where they want to go. It helps you to identify their main problems (by asking them) so that you can find solutions specific to them. Ask clients about their goals so that you can help them to achieve those goals.
  3. Helps clients better evaluate vendors. The process of creating value helps the client to determine who will deliver value rather than focus on price. This enables the client to get more value for their money.
  4. Frames solution as investment, not an expense. Taking about prices focus on the cost of the service, while talking about value provided focuses on the return on investment. Clients prefer to invest in something that will provide value.
  5. Inspires action. Focusing on value gets the client to envision their goal, which makes them eager to proceed with your solution. They will act quicker with you to get results.
  6. Lets client make informed business decision. Provide the client with several choices and costs so that they can choose the right solution for them. They choose where to go and how much to pay to achieve a specific solution.
  7. Establishes a trusted partnership. The client gets to experience the impact of your work. Creating real value for the client makes you a trusted partner, and they will turn to you again when needed.

Breaking the Time Barrier is written as a real-world situation, following the story of a designer who is having trouble getting ahead in his business. He meets a successful designer who teaches him the benefit of exploring value with clients, and how to unlock his true earning potential. It’s an easy and enjoyable read.

If there are any eBooks that you’d like me to read and summarize for you here, or give my thoughts on, let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

Make your freelance writing business more credible to attract bigger and better clients

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Do you want to increase the size and quality of your client base? One key strategy is to make your brand more credible. Increasing your professional credibility will help you to attract larger clients. The obvious benefit is that you will attract bigger clients with bigger budgets, which will also provide you with more work at higher rates.

So, how can you increase your credibility? There are several approaches, and combining them will go further toward making you more credible (and popular) in your field.

  • Act like a professional all the time. Behave professional toward clients and prospects. Treat your business and brand professionally, and others will do the same.
  • Create social proof of your credibility. Social proof is evidence that other people like and trust you. Examples include testimonials, case studies, awards, website logos of your large clients, recommendations, etc.
  • Become an expert in a niche or particular field. Become known for excelling in that one specific area of your industry or business.
  • Become an influencer. An influencer is someone who takes charge and leads people to make positive contributions in their industry. For example, you can connect people or clients to each other, set up events, blog / write about events and key issues in your field, or share your knowledge with the world.
  • Encourage referrals. Ask clients to refer you to people who could use your service.
  • Get interviewed. Contact bloggers in your industry to interview you on a subject that matters to your clients.
  • Be omnipresent. Tweet, blog, network, etc. Stay public and be seen.

What tips do you have on being more credible in your industry? Would you like help with becoming more credible in your industry? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

How to land better clients as a freelancer

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Some time ago, I read 9 Things Freelancers Absolutely Must Do to Land Lots of Quality Clients by Red Lemon Club. The book describes (among other things) a number of things that freelancers must do to improve the quantity and quality of their clients. Red Lemon Club has a lot to offer on its website, so make sure that you check it out (I am not an affiliate and have no financial stake in his website).

To follow is what I learned about getting more clients from Red Lemon Club’s eBook, and what I hope to apply in building my business.

  1. Write down your personal end goals. Put your goals in written form to clarify your mind. Goals should be short term and long term. Be as descriptive as possible – the point is to be list your motivations.
  2. Determine your target market. Be very clear in what companies and individuals you want to target. Know who they are, what they do, and what is important to them.
  3. Assess what your target market is really looking for. Research what they want and need so that you can target them with solutions.
  4. Know when your prospects are likely to look for you. Know the important moments in a client’s business life (e.g., when they publish, their busy and quiet times) so that you can contact them when you are most needed.
  5. Find out where clients look for people like you. Go where they search or hang out – online, forums, networking, trade shows, etc. Be where they are, and be visible.
  6. Determine what it is about you that attracts clients. Identify what is unique about you or your service, and express it as a selling point. Be clear in your description. Focus on the benefit you provide.
  7. Work out the main way for prospects to engage with you. Determine how you want prospects to develop a relationship with you – email, Twitter, phone, newsletter, etc.
  8. Spend time building credibility as a professional. Build your professional image – get testimonials, blog or write articles on your expertise, speak at conferences, etc.
  9. Develop and maintain relationships with prospects and past clients. Stay in communication with clients to stay top of mind – send check-in emails or postcards, make regular social network status updates, write blog / newsletter postings, etc.

Red Lemon Club has a lot more great content on its website, as well as the eBook. I shared what I thought was most relevant here. Make sure to give it a read, and comb through the website. They have a lot of useful information for freelancers.

If there are any eBooks that you’d like me to read and summarize for you here, or give my thoughts on, let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

How to create a simple and consistent marketing plan

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Marketing works best when you do it consistently. That means marketing yourself (your company, products, services, solutions, offers, etc.) daily, weekly and monthly. There are many experts (books, websites, services, newsletters, blogs…) that offer great advice on how self-employed professionals can improve their marketing efforts.

The best marketing advice and tools are whatever work best for you. Again, marketing only works when you do it consistently. Here are my suggestions on finding and executing the best marketing plan for you.

Discover what drives you

Identify the factors that propel you to action, as well as the factors that prevent you from moving forward. Also, associate non-action with pain. For example, the consequences of not marketing include having fewer clients, long downtimes, less income, difficulty attracting new clients, etc. Each consequence has a price to pay:

  • It’s harder to pay bills.
  • You have to work harder and longer to find clients.
  • You have to cut back on expenses.
  • You have to go out and get a “real” job.
  • You can’t buy nice (or essential) things.

Find what motivates you, and use it to drive your marketing efforts.

Create a marketing plan that aligns with your goals

Find and apply a marketing method that has worked in the past. Go through your list of clients and note how you found them (or how they found you):

  • Referrals
  • Email marketing
  • Networking
  • Cold / warm calls

The method that worked the best is your best marketing tool because it worked for you, and you are familiar (and likely comfortable) with using this method.

Take action based on your intrinsic drive

  • Treat marketing like a client project that will pay off. Set deadlines, plan a schedule, and make yourself accountable for getting it done on time.
  • Focus on DAILY, not weekly or monthly, effort.
  • Create EFFORT goals, not OUTCOME goals. That means focus on doing the marketing task (effort) rather than achieving something specific (outcome). For example, “I will email a new potential client every day.”
  • Set goals that speak to YOU. Tie the goals to your core values and vision. For example, “My goal is to make $100,000 per year, so I need to find 3 new clients this year.”
  • Get an accountability partner. Find someone to listen to your goals, and help you to ensure hat you take action.
  • Wake up earlier (or don’t watch TV / play games) to focus strictly on prospecting.
  • Turn the process into a game. Assign points for different marketing actions (e.g., writing a blog post = 5 points, sending a prospecting email = 10 points). Reward yourself for hitting a points goal, or beating your previous week’s score.

Again, the goal is to find marketing strategies that work for you so that you will repeat the actions. Make marketing part of your daily routine. Find what works for you, that is easiest for you to repeat. Keep it simple and do it consistently.

Need help with creating a simple marketing plan? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

How to take care of your business – What I learned from The Bootstrapper’s Bible

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Some time ago, I read the free manifesto version of The Bootstrapper’s Bible by Seth Godin. The book describes (among other things) what it takes to be a bootstrapper or entrepreneur (rather than a freelancer), how to take care of your business, raising money, finding your right business, refocusing, and more. The book is ideal for anyone who wants to build a successful business from the ground up, and avoid being just a freelancer (it’s where I am today). Seth Godin has a lot to offer on his website, so make sure that you check it out (I am not an affiliate and have no financial stake in his website).

To follow is what I learned about being an entrepreneur (specifically, nine rules for taking care of your business) from The Bootstrapper’s Bible, and what I hope to apply in building my business:

  1. Find people who care about cash less than you do. Establish credit with your suppliers. Ask customers to pay in advance to fund your purchases and growth.
  2. Survival is success. Focus on just making money in some part of every week.
  3. Success leads to more success. Being busy creates more success, as it leads to positive cash flow, teaches you new things, builds your reputation and credit rating, and puts you in contact with smart people and new customers.
  4. Redo your mission statement and business plan every three months. The path to success is a maze, not a straight line, so you have to adapt and change your plans.
  5. Associate with winners. This means that you should work with great clients, employees, vendors and peers. Even better, send clients who don’t fit your business to your peers, so you can make two people happy with you.
  6. Beware of shared ownership. Assign ownership based on the amount of work people do, or pay for services. Also match compensation with performance.
  7. Advertise. Spend regularly on advertising. Persistence in advertising leads to success. Be clear in what you are advertising, and constantly test and measure results.
  8. Get mentored. Find the right person to mentor you. Make it easy or them to say yes or no.
  9. Partner with large organizations that you can service. Do what they cannot or what you can do for less than they can. Create a mutually beneficial relationship, which will improve your credibility, give you greater access to large corporations, and improve your cash flow.

Seth Godin has a lot more to say on his website (he has written a lot of great books, and he blogs daily), and in The Bootstrapper’s Bible. I shared what I thought was most relevant here. Make sure to give it a read.

If there are any eBooks that you’d like me to read and summarize for you here, or give my thoughts on, let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

The building blocks of writing great content for articles, blog posts and websites

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Have you ever played with Lego sets? I’m sure you have. They’re cute, pre-designed sets with just the right number of blocks to create a little scene. Each set comes with a set of diagrammed instructions on how to go from a pile of blocks to a completed scene.

It inspired me to come up with something similar to help you, the reader, write the ideal blog post, article, web landing page, or content to attract your target audience. You can use building blocks to help you to create great content.

Six building blocks of great content

  1. Create a compelling headline. I suggest finding a headline that caught your eye, and modify it for your topic and audience.
  2. Write a strong first sentence. Grab the reader at the deciding stage – make it intriguing, thought-provoking, inspiring, controversial, funny, or whatever works for the situation.
  3. Craft several strong subheads. They serve as sign posts for your content, and keep your audience reading. They also provide structure to keep you on track.
  4. Draft your main copy (write quickly but don’t edit – just write, then come back to it later to tighten it up). Use the main head and subheads to guide your content.
  5. Summarize your main points. Lay out and reinforce the premise.
  6. Conclude with a call to action. Ask for feedback, invite the reader to subscribe, share your message on social media, etc. Always ask for something from the reader to build the relationship and increase engagement.

Those are the basic building blocks of writing great content. Start with an idea, and build your blog, article or web page. You’ll get the hang of it and become a better writer.

Do you have suggestions on writing great content? Do you need help with writing your content? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

Change your mindset to succeed as a freelance professional

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If you’re a freelancer or self-employed, then you know it can be a constant battle to keep your income flowing. To do so, you have to adopt the right mindset. Here are 10 tips on creating that mindset and making sure that you and your income stream remain positive.

  1. Pay attention to your thoughts, particularly when they become negative. Don’t let yourself get roped into the chatter in your head. Find a way to stop negative thinking before it overwhelms you. A simple reminder – like a rubber band on your wrist (ouch) – will bring you back around.
  2. Be grateful for what is going well. Focus on the good by writing about those moments and wins in a daily journal. Positive talk / writing builds on itself.
  3. Hang out with people who are positive and abundant. Surround yourself with positive and successful people. Even talking or emailing them regularly will help.
  4. Give something away from time to time – money, time, talent, etc. Do things for other people, and it will come back to you.
  5. Look at some of your base beliefs. Think about how you were taught about money as a child, and work to make yourself better in those areas that are bringing you down or negatively affecting you.
  6. Look at a loss as an opportunity. A lost job means that you have time for something new, such as focusing on better clients.
  7. Stop being the victim. Don’t keep blaming others – the economy, clients, etc. You attract work and clients, so keep looking for opportunities. Take responsibility for your success and failure.
  8. Stop worrying about money. Do what you enjoy doing first, and pursue what you want to do. Money well come. To help clear your mind, do something else other than work – meditate, read, write, go for a walk, be kind to yourself.
  9. Do the internal work to improve. Take positive action to get better at what you do. Work with a mentor who can guide you and give you a different viewpoint.
  10. Most importantly, love what you do and believe in yourself.

These are all simple yet effective ways to change your approach to making more money as a freelancer. Adjust your way of thinking and things will change.

Bonus tip: This is a must do. Work on finding new clients – using whatever works for you – EVERY DAY. Finding work is a full-time job. Even when you are busy. No, especially when you are busy. Then you can turn down work when there is too much work. And you can drop troublesome or low-paying clients. All you need is a few minutes per day to do one thing – email potential or past clients, respond to ads, send a letter, write a blog post, answer questions on LinkedIn, etc.

Did you like those tips? Do you have any to share? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro