Search Results for: niche

Choosing a writing niche

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Welcome to the third Monday in April. It rained all day last week, just when my daughter had her Mar-pril school break. Of course it did. Having a 10-year-old inside all day makes me that much more productive. She did convince me to paint a couple of my nails, so we did get something done. No, I won’t show you a photo.

Random quote: Time is your most valuable asset. Do not let it be stolen and do not give it away.

I hope you enjoy this week’s edition of The Editor’s Desk.

Choosing a writing niche

I’m probably not the ideal person to write about choosing a niche as a freelance writer. I don’t consider myself to be writer who specializes in a niche. However, over my career, I have worked within niches. I was a mathematics editor for many years (I edited math textbooks and wrote math questions and answers). For more than ten years, I’ve written for a magazine that caters to the rental housing industry. I focus more on content writing (e.g., articles, blog posts, case studies) than copywriting. However, I write on a lot of different topics for different industries.

That being said (written?), it makes sense (and dollars) to choose the right (profitable) niche or market as a freelance writer. There is an expression that sums it up: The riches are in the niches. Choosing a niche as a freelance writer enables you to focus your marketing efforts and helps to make you an expert in your field. You decide who to write for and clients come to you for your writing expertise.

So, how do you choose a niche? It’s difficult for some writers as there are so many markets, topics, and industries to write for. You can’t (and shouldn’t) be everything to everyone. The right niche for you won’t be right for someone else either.

Focus on three factors to choose the right niche for your writing business.

1. Knowledge

Think about topics and markets where you have specific knowledge or experience. You know more about that niche than the average person – your clients are average people. You have a head start as well, and can learn more about the niche than others are capable or willing to learn.

Think about where you’ve worked, topics you’ve read about, subjects you’ve been asked about, etc. Tie this information to businesses that need content on those topics. Use your knowledge to become an expert writer.

2. Interest

You might be interested in writing about specific topics, niches or markets. The weirder or odder the niche, the better it is. There are many high-paying niches that need good writers. Narrow fields offer less competition from other writers.

Select topics that you love to talk about, read about or want to write about. If you’re interested in that topic, you are likely to be motivated to learn more about it. That will make you a great writer for the related niche.

3. Profitability

Some markets and niches pay better than others (some pay poorly). The key is to choose the market with clients who have the budget and willingness to pay you well for your writing. Chase markets that pay – avoid markets that don’t pay.

You might have knowledge or experience in a market that simply does not pay. Don’t chase these clients who cannot pay or don’t value what you do. When deciding on whether a market or business is profitable, ask:

  • How does the business make money?
  • How will your content help them make money?

And that’s how you can choose a niche. You don’t have to settle on one niche. You can write for one based on your knowledge, one based on your interests, and one simply for the money. You’re not stuck in a niche just because you write for it. If you don’t like one niche, try another one.

PS. I wrote a little about niche markets in this blog post.

More from The Editor’s Desk

Here are a few articles and blog posts I found worth sharing.

  1. I prefer cold emailing to cold calling as a prospecting tool because it suits my personality. However, some people are great at cold calling – they are super chatty and friendly on the phone. Check out How freelance writers can get more clients from cold calling from Make a Living Writing for simple strategies on using cold calling as a prospecting tool for your freelance writing business.
  2. Punctuation can be challenging to use correctly. The semi-colon is often misused because many writers don’t really know when to use it. Check out When to use a semi-colon from The Write Life for tips on the right times to use the semi-colon.
  3. Writers like cool things and they like being organized. Check out The Writing Box from Galen Leather. I don’t need it personally, but I want it. So much. At last check it’s out of stock. (FYI, I am not an affiliate. It’s just cool.)
  4. Do you want to tighten up your writing? Get rid of words that don’t add value. Check out The weak word checklist from K.M. Allan for a list of words that you can delete from your content to make your writing stronger.
  5. Is your content a little monotonous? Do you have trouble writing content that sounds like you wrote it? Check out Write like you talk from Content Marketing Institute for tips on writing how you talk.
  6. Being understood by your reader should be one of the main goals of your writing. Being able to write clearly is an essential skill. Check out How I write clearly from Josh Spector on his five steps to writing clearly.
  7. Many creative people – and business people – try to be everything to everyone. They have different goals and purposes that can contradict and interfere with each other. Check out If you want to be successful, you need to pick a rule from Start it up on why you need to pick a rule when you are creating.
  8. Everyone has the ability to learn new things. It’s a matter of putting in the effort and finding an approach that works for you. Check out The secret to learn anything from Brain Pickings to learn what Albert Einstein told his son.
  9. Many writers (and people in general) are working at home for the first time and are probably not taking care of themselves as well as they can. Check out Working well at home from Helena Fairfax for wellbeing tips geared toward writers, creatives, and freelancers.
  10. Are you a Seinfeld fan? Check out the Tim Ferriss podcast with Jerry Seinfeld.

Thanks for reading. If you liked what I wrote or think someone else would enjoy it, then please share it. And if you want to reach out, my email is 


Market segments, niche markets and customer relationships

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Today’s post covers three related topics – market segments, niche marketing and customer relationships.

Market segments

I can divide my current and potential clients into market segments (e.g., educational publishers, design firms, advertising agencies) so that I can provide better, more targeted services. Before pursuing a new segment, I should determine if I can identify the following information:

  • Can I clearly identify this market?
  • Is the market large enough to support my goals?
  • Can I cost-effectively reach this market?
  • Is the market ready for my services?
  • Do I have a competitive advantage?
  • Am I stronger than my competitors in a definable way?
  • Do I have referrals into this market?

Referrals are a great way to get into a market, as they have helped me in the past to access new companies and markets.

Niche markets

A niche is a particular area in which I would have an advantage over other service providers. While I provide a range of services, one area that I would consider to be my niche is math editing. I have learned that there are not a lot of qualified math editors, which has helped me to get work with both US and Canadian math publishers and math content developers (such as design agencies that produce materials for publishers). I have a unique educational background (a degree that combines English and Actuarial Science), and more than 15 years of experience in writing and editing math content across different grades.

One of my key goals is to market to this niche to expand this business beyond my current client list. I have learned that, in this niche, I tend to get contacted by my clients for work before I have to contact them. So I should focus on reaching new clients, and keeping current clients happy with my work, to continue building this niche.

Customer relationships

Business is about forming and maintaining customer relationships, and I tend to have positive relationships with my existing customers. There are two types of relationship marketing that can have great impact on my business:

  1. One-to-one marketing involves treating each client as personally and individually as possible, with the help of CRM software. This is something that I can do, as I deal with each client individually and provide them with the specific services they require. I can improve isthrough the use of CRM software, which will enable me to track everything I need to know about them (instead of always relying on my files and memory).
  2. Permission marketing involves asking my clients for permission to send my marketing messages. I have not yet developed an email newsletter or other regular communications (besides my LinkedIn posts and tweets), although I have contact information for a lot of clients and other people. It’s something to consider, and might become part of my marketing strategy going forward.

What market segments do you serve? What is your niche? How do you build customer relationships? Let me know –

David Gargaro

The formula for writing great content

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Welcome to the first Monday in May. Another month has come and gone, as they tend to do. The weather is doing what it does. The world continues to move as it’s supposed to. We’re all moving forward even when it feels like we’re standing still and experiencing the same day over and over. It’s a new day. Go do something with it.

Random quote: Always do the right thing even if it comes at great cost.

I hope you enjoy this week’s edition of The Editor’s Desk.

The formula for writing great content

Deep within the pages of one of my many notebooks, I discovered a secret formula for writing great articles and blog posts. Actually, it’s not that secret (I just don’t remember the source), but it’s a pretty simple formula when you break it down.



Write good copy. Keep your sentences tight. Make every word work hard.

Work on improving as a writer. Practice your writing. Study the craft. Read good writers. Write a lot. Work with an editor when needed.

Make your content look great. Follow good design principles (e.g., fonts, white space, bullet points, headings and subheadings). Hire a designer or learn to use the tools. Templates are your friend.


Say something different. Don’t just repeat what other writers have said. Find a new angle on a popular topic. Be controversial. Explain topics in new and unique ways. Take a stand.

Create your own voice. State your opinions. Borrow another writer’s voice until you find your own if needed.


Be a journalist. Do deep research. Interview experts and authorities in their field. Cite your references. Back up statements with facts and data.

Become the expert in your field. Focus on a niche and get to know everything about it. Write on a topic or market to the exclusion of others. Be the authority that others seek out.

More from The Editor’s Desk

Here are a few articles and blog posts I found worth sharing.

  1. I don’t do UX (user experience) writing but I definitely appreciate good UX writing. We all hate instructions and writing that makes the user experience difficult or confusing. Check out How to write digital products with personality from UX Collective to learn about using words to make the user experience more interesting.
  2. I enjoy reading about what good writers do that makes their writing so readable. It’s a great way to learn and improve my own writing. Check out Writing tools I learned from Paul Graham from Built By Words for some great strategies on writing.
  3. I have written a few case studies in my day and would love to do more of it, as it suits my writing style (and pays well). It’s difficult to get into without some direction. Check out How to make a living writing case studies and white papers from The Write Life for strategies on getting into case study and white paper writing.
  4. Do you read a lot of articles or ebooks online but want to read them in a more convenient format? Check out How to read stuff posted online from Snakes and Ladders. It discusses two interesting services: Push to Kindle and Print Friendly.
  5. Many experts in the freelance writing field advocate for specializing in niches to be successful. I’m a generalist for the most part, which is why I enjoyed reading Range from David Epstein. Check out General education has a bad rap from for an excerpt from Epstein’s book.
  6. In many cases, there is no need to reinvent the wheel and that includes writing headlines. Check out 332 incredible headlines with over 10,000 claps each from J.J. Pryor for some great headlines that have gotten readers to keep reading.
  7. I’ve written about word usage before. Because it’s such an important topic, as we should all use the right words, check out The 35 words you’re (probably) getting wrong from The Guardian to help you know when to use these words.
  8. First drafts are the bane of most writers’ existence. Getting started is harder than anything. Check out How to write a first draft of anything from Ann Handley for her thoughts on getting that first draft on the page.
  9. If you write a newsletter and you want to make a living from it, you’re going to need subscribers. Many experts have written on this topic, and if it was something I wanted, I should read more about it. Check out Foster’s real-world guide to getting your first 1,000 email subscribers from Foster if you’re looking to build your email list.
  10. Writers like cool things to store their cool things. Check out the Classiky Desk Tool Box from Wonder Pens. They are my favourite stationery store and I get nothing from promoting that fact.

Thanks for reading. If you liked what I wrote or think someone else would enjoy it, then please share it. And if you want to reach out, my email is 


Simple tips on succeeding as a service-based freelancer

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Welcome to the second Monday in April. We’ve had some nice weather lately. I scheduled an appointment to get a vaccination. The Toronto Maple Leafs are winning games. I expect some level of pain at the end of all of these events.

Random quote: How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

I hope you enjoy this week’s edition of The Editor’s Desk.

How to succeed as a service-based freelancer

Success means different things to different people. Every freelancer – including writers – uses different criteria to determine when they have “made it” or when they can tell themselves they are doing well. I’ve put together a few strategies on being more successful as a freelance writer, as well as anyone who provides a service.

  • Offer what someone asks to pay you for – if you’re good at something, and someone will pay you to do that thing, then pitch your services for money
  • Choose a market to serve – become the best (or as good as you can be) at it
  • Create your own category – make your own niche
  • Forget about your ideas – leverage your assets
  • Turn competitors into collaborators – work with other freelancers to improve both your businesses
  • When you’re selling a service, you’re selling yourself – you are the product
  • Keep getting better at what you do – learn, study, practice, refine
  • Turn your clients’ problems into your problems – focus on your clients’ issues, understand them, and become an expert in solving them, which will make you better at what you do
  • When marketing, learn to optimize your conversations
  • Drive results for your clients – market their services and offerings
  • Be easy to refer – be very visible and collect social proof
  • Frame your services so that clients know what they are getting
  • Remove referral friction – ask for referrals when you complete a project
  • Ask for the sale and set a time limit – create a sense of urgency and be direct
  • Know your WHY – your reason will drive your business and your marketing

For more advice on the topic, check out these blog posts:

More from The Editor’s Desk

Here are a few articles and blog posts I found worth sharing.

  1. Spellcheck and your eyes alone don’t always cut it. You should hire an editor (like me). But if you don’t want to, check out Grammar checkers and editing tools from The Write Life to get a little techno help with editing your work.
  2. Whether you’re a newbie freelance writer or have years of experience, you’ll benefit from having someone spell out how to make money writing articles. Check out Getting paid to write articles from Make a Living Writing for a comprehensive series of steps on making more money as a freelance writer.
  3. Pictures are occasionally better than words, but pictures with words are even better. If you want to write more high-performing articles, then check out The content creation process in a flowchart from Orbit Media. Follow the boxes and lines – so nice.
  4. We all want to write faster to be more productive and to hit those deadlines. Check out How to write faster from SmartBlogger for a few strategies on increasing your writing speed.
  5. Great writing – and great art – comes from removing what does not belong, as well as including what needs to be there. Check out What to leave out and what to leave in from Austin Kleon for a lesson on addition and subtraction.
  6. When clients don’t come to you, it’s time to go out and find clients. Check out Creative places to look for new clients from Robyn Roste for a few ideas on how to add a few clients to your freelance roster.
  7. Marketing is an essential part of getting more clients for your business but many people don’t know how to do it or are not comfortable with it. Check out How to market yourself without marketing yourself from For the Interested for some ideas on how to improve your marketing efforts.
  8. I’ve read that writing blog posts on other people’s blogs is a good way to get more attention for yourself and your blog. If that’s something you want to do, check out Step-by-step guide to guest blogging from Content Marketing Institute for an easy-to-follow process.
  9. If you’ve written for agencies in the past, you’ve probably read a few briefs that were way too brief. Check out The ABCs of a great content brief from Content Folks; maybe you can pass the pointers on to some clients.
  10. I’m a generalist when it comes to writing, although I do write within a couple of niches. Finding the right niche can help writers be more productive and grow their business. Check out A process for finding your niche from Ungated for some ideas on how to find your niche.

Thanks for reading. If you liked what I wrote or think someone else would enjoy it, then please share it. And if you want to reach out, my email is 


Structuring your portfolio, finding your voice, organizing your writing life, and more

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Welcome to the second Monday in March. Sometimes the truth hurts, but it’s better than a lie that can hurt you in many different ways.

Here are a few things I’d like to share from The Editor’s Desk.

Structuring your writing portfolio

As a freelance content writer, potential clients always ask to see samples of my work. I have a website that includes samples of my work here and here, and I also have samples on my LinkedIn page. It’s important to have an online portfolio as it’s more efficient than having to send files to potential clients. However, you might not know how to structure the clips (e.g., work) in your portfolio to get the best results. Here are some suggestions for setting up a great writing portfolio:

  • Remember that the goal is to organize and highlight clips in your portfolio so that it makes sense and appeals to prospects in your desired market and niche
  • Regularly check your existing clips (remove any that don’t look good) and add new clips to keep your portfolio fresh
  • Put your high profile and most impressive clips first
  • Separate clips by categories – marketing, journalism, copywriting, etc.
  • Focus on the clips that your ideal clients would search for or want to see
  • Leave dates off the clips – it does not matter when they were done
  • Change the order of clips based on how many times they have been viewed – use page analytics to see the most viewed clips
  • Include brand names were applicable

How to find your voice

Many writers have difficulty writing in their own voice. Your writing voice sounds like you when you read it because it mirrors the voice in your head. That’s the voice you hear when thinking about what you will write before you write it. Sometimes that inner voice doesn’t make it to the page. We sometimes think we need to sound a certain way for our readers. Kayleigh Moore wrote a great blog post on how to write in the voice that’s in your head. She recommends:

  • Remove the filter
  • Add humour to your writing
  • Be brave and open to feedback

Here’s a great quote: Anyone can churn out another boring article. But if you can write with a voice that sparkles with charming personality, you’re doing something that truly only YOU can do. 

Note: I wrote a blog post about finding your writing style, which is similar.

Organizing your writing life

I consider myself somewhat organized when it comes to my business writing life. I keep track of my projects and have different notebooks for different projects. Ali Luke with Craft Your Content provides advice on ways to organize your writing life and be more creative. Some strategies include:

  • Having one notebook for each project (just like I said)
  • Keep your writing gear in a bag even if you only write from home (difficult to get out and write these days, but I like the idea)
  • Use one app or planner to track To Do items (I use a notebook and calendar to have multiple reminders)
  • Set aside blocks of time for different types of writing (I like this idea a lot)
  • Keep track of what you’ve submitted and where (this is how you run a business as a writer)
  • Have a foolproof way of tracking deadlines (I use a calendar and notebook)
  • Use an “end of day” routine to put everything back (I should do this)

Here is some great advice:

  • Today, gather your writing materials together. Find a bag or box—anything will do—where you can keep your essentials so that they’re ready for you. Then, spend no more than five minutes clearing a writing space where you have enough room to work.
  • During the rest of the week, set aside time to write and to get organized. You might want to schedule your writing for 30 minutes, then spend 5-10 minutes taking a simple next step to get more organized. 

Personalizing your B2B content

How often have you received an email or marketing message that felt generic? “Dear Sir”, “To the Marketing Manager,” etc. is a clear indicator that the person sending the email knows nothing about you. People connect with people. People buy from people. If you are in the business of writing B2B content, then you should learn to write to your reader rather than at them. Aaron Cullers at MarketingProfs wrote an article on writing more personalized B2B content, providing the following tips:

  1. Choose the audience you want to reach
  2. Relearn the digital context and competition within your buyers’ experiences
  3. Create personalized content building blocks for every buying stage
  4. Include messages and assets based on buyer behaviour triggers
  5. Test, measure, improve, repeat

Dealing with intrusive thoughts

I sometimes get stuck in my own head, as thoughts will get stuck there and bounce around, interfering with everything else I am trying to think about. I often thought that I was the only one who felt this way, but that’s never the case. Many people face the same challenges. Vivian Manning-Schaffel at Shondaland wrote a great article on coping with intrusive thoughts. Her advice includes:

  • Don’t push those thoughts away
  • Understand that you and the thoughts are not the same
  • Don’t overthink your thoughts
  • Take care of yourself

Here’s a great quote: Once you fully grasp that your thoughts are inconsequential and are unattached to any intention or outcome, they don’t matter as much. If they don’t matter as much, you stop worrying about them and stop anticipating that they will come back…

Quote on consistency

Here’s a great quote from James Clear on consistency:

Greatness is consistency. Meditating once is common. Meditating daily is rare. Exercising today is simple. Training every week is simply remarkable. Writing one essay rarely matters. Write every day and you’re practically a hero. Unheroic days can make for heroic decades.

What I wrote

Check out this blog post I wrote for SellerantHow to create marketing personas for your business.

What I read

I just finished reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I had never seen the movie and had heard great things about it. I don’t usually go for books written in diary or letter format but this was enjoyable, and I was surprised by the shock reveal. I will have to check out the movie to see if it holds up.

What I watched

Upon the recommendation from a friend, I watched The Hunt with Betty Gilpin and Hillary Swank. It’s a commentary on the divide between groups in today’s society. It’s also an enjoyable view with some gruesome deaths and memorable lines.

What I listened to

I listened to the Tim Ferriss podcast episode #501 with Steven Pressfield, who talked about the artist’s journey, the wisdom of little successes, shadow careers, and overcoming resistance. Steven is a great author, who has written a fantastic book called The War of Art – a must read for freelance writers.

Thanks for reading. If you liked what I wrote or think someone else would enjoy it, then please share it. And if you want to reach out, my email is


Learning to write faster, turning away clients, compelling introductions, and more

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Welcome to the first Monday in March. I pulled a muscle in my side, which made me think I hurt my kidney somehow. It’s still painful after about a week, but I can still roll out of bed, so I have that going for me.

Here are a few things I’d like to share from The Editor’s Desk.

Learning to write faster

If you are a freelance writer and get paid by the hour, you probably don’t want to write faster than you already do. You actually lose money being a faster writer. However, for most other situations (especially when facing deadlines), it can pay to learn how to write your content more quickly. To follow are some quick tips on increasing your writing speed:

  • Write a bad first draft. There’s no need to be perfect with your first draft. Get the words on the page.
  • Walk away from the writing. Taking a break can re-energize you and make you faster when you return to the keyboard.
  • Write in your head. Think about what you want to say, how you want to say, how you want to organize your sections, etc. before putting the words down.
  • Find the best time of day to write the first draft. Some people are great in the morning, others work best at the end of the day or after lunch. You’ll know when you’re most productive.
  • Write to the quality of the project and the client’s needs. Some projects require more effort and quality than others. Don’t spend the time to write a thesis when you’re writing a blog post on the top 10 best pizza places in your city.
  • Outsource some of your tasks. Hire a virtual assistant to handle the administrative work while you spend time on writing.
  • Write about familiar topics. If you’ve written a few articles on one topic, you’ll be able to write more quickly on related topics because you already know the terminology and main issues.
  • Write blog posts in batches. If you have a calendar of assignments, or a plan to write blog posts on similar topics, bang them all out one after another when the words are flowing.
  • Reduce revisions. Don’t edit or revise when you’re writing. Limit the number of revisions that clients can make – charge more for each one.
  • Write longer pieces. Having to start a new project takes time. Writing long pieces keeps you immersed in the writing, and you’ll work at getting it done more quickly than starting something new.

PS. I wrote a blog post about being a faster writer here.

Turning away potential clients

As a freelance writer – or any self-employed person – there will be times when you need to turn clients away. It’s actually a way to grow your business. When you turn away the wrong clients, you make room for the right clients. It can be scary to turn down paying gigs, but there are a number of reasons why you should turn away potential clients:

  • The (hourly) rate is too low. It might be a “good” project rate, but the amount of work involved could reduce the hourly rate below minimum wage.
  • It’s a one-off assignment. If you have to choose between regular work and a one-off, it usually makes sense to turn down the one-off assignment because regular work just keeps bringing in money and opportunities. Of course, some one-off assignments are worth it, especially if they give you experience in a new industry.
  • The work is not in your niche. Again, if it’s a market you want to be in, it’s good experience for the portfolio. But if you don’t plan to work in this niche, pass it along to someone else.
  • Your writing style does not match the brand voice. Yes, you can learn to write in a new style or voice, but if it’s very different from you usual style, it will be challenging for you and a bad fit for the client.
  • The client is likely to be difficult. Stay away – the pay is rarely worth the grief.
  • The client’s desired strengths and requirements are different from yours. Don’t try to fit your square peg into their round hole.
  • There’s a mismatch of personalities. You work with people, not just words, so you need to be able to get along. If it’s not a fit, everyone will be unhappy, especially you.
  • You have a bad “feeling”. Trust your gut. If it does not feel like it’s right, walk away.

How to write compelling introductions

People will often decide to read an article or blog post based on the heading. However, a strong introduction will keep them reading. Kayleigh Moore wrote a great blog post on how to write compelling introductions. She breaks it down to three steps:

  • Step 1: Distill the point of your content into a single, concise sentence.
  • Step 2: Tease out the most interesting aspect of your sentence.
  • Step 3: Write three to four short, conversational sentences based on the first two steps.

Here’s a great quote: ... the short, abbreviated intro gives the reader a chance to warm up to you, your writing voice, and what you’re about to share with them. It doesn’t make any assumptions about the readers’ problems or concerns—and it’s conversational and light.

Editing mistakes to avoid

I know some writers hate editors because they don’t like other people changing what they wrote or commenting on their perfect words. (I’ve been there, and have developed an objective approach to writing for clients.) Unfortunately, too many writers will take to editing their own work, which can actually make it worse than before. Sola Kehinde at Craft Your Content wrote an article on six editing mistakes to avoid as a professional writer:

  • Depending on self-editing alone (we never see our own mistakes)
  • Asking family and friends to edit your work (I hate showing them the finished work!)
  • Not understanding the different types of editing (there are BIG differences between them)
  • Doing different edits in the wrong order (that can cause so many problems)
  • Hiring one editor for different types of editing (not always an issue)
  • Thinking of beta readers as editors (they have a specific role, and it’s not editing)

Here’s a great, self-serving quote: To ensure you get objective and honest feedback about your writing so you can achieve your writing goals, always choose a professional editor or an editing agency instead of family and friends who may only tell you what they think you want to hear. 

How to read more

Finding time to read can be a challenge. How much I read from year to year will vary, but I have been trying to make time to read – keeping books by my bed, turning off the TV to read, bringing a book with me during appointments, etc. Elaine Meyer at Doist wrote a blog post on how to read more. There is a lot of great information in this post, including how to build a reading habit:

  • Make it easy to start
  • Start small (this goes for everything you want to do)
  • Read at a certain time of day
  • Multi-task with audiobooks
  • Make time
  • Create a distraction-free environment
  • Try visual cues
  • Take notes (I’ve started keeping a notebook where I wrote two pages about the book I read)
  • Write reviews
  • Put down a book you’re not enjoying (YES!)
  • Make reading an enjoyment, not an obligation

Here’s a great quote: One of the most effective ways to spend less time on habits like social media, online shopping, or playing video games, is to build “friction” into how you access them. You can also use the friction principle the opposite way for reading. Reduce your reading friction by making it as easy as possible to read books. Plan how you’ll buy or borrow books and the tools you’ll use to read, like e-readers and audiobook apps.

Resource: How to create a profitable eBook and course

If you want to create your own eBook or mini-course, check out Felicia Sullivan‘s step-by-step guide I Created a 201-Page Profitable eBook & Mini Course in One Month. It is published on Medium so you might need a membership to read it (I have three free views per month, as should you, so choose wisely). The guide covers:

  • Selecting a topic
  • Building an outline
  • Pre-selling the book
  • Writing the book
  • Publishing the book

What I wrote

Check out this article I wrote for Nom Nom DataThe Impact of Turnover on Small Teams.

What I read

I just finished reading How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa. It’s a collection of short stories on different people, mostly Laotian immigrants, occupying the same world. It was a great read, as the stories flowed and the characters were interesting and real.

What I watched

My daughter and I watched the movie Finding ‘Ohana. It’s about two siblings from Brooklyn who go to Oahu with their mom to help take care of their grandfather, where they learn about their heritage and seek a mysterious treasure. It’s a fun family movie.

What I listened to

The Build Your Copywriting Business podcast, episode #15, described the 11 traits of the most successful copywriters. It’s an informative episode, so check it out.

Thanks for reading. If you liked what I wrote or think someone else would enjoy it, then please share it. And if you want to reach out, my email is


Following up with clients, sending a short email, starting a newsletter, and more

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Welcome to another Monday in February. Sometimes, a setback is a great way to move forward.

Here are a few things I’d like to share from The Editor’s Desk.

Following up with content marketing clients

I’ve written blog posts on following up with clients here and here. It’s important to stay in touch so clients know you are invested in working with them, and it keeps your name top of mind. Jennifer Goforth Gregory with The Content Marketing Writer wrote a great post on five unique ways to follow up with content marketing clients. She suggests doing the following:

  • Compliment the client about something client or editor has done recently (I’ve used this technique)
  • Send a link to a relevant article (I’ve done this as well)
  • Provide a thoughtful comment on their blog post or social media page (do this repeatedly for greater impact)
  • Follow up on an event mentioned by the client (Who is going to events these days?)
  • Engage with the company on social media (a good strategy at all times)

The nine-word email marketing strategy

I will occasionally send cold emails and letters of introduction as a prospecting strategy – it works better than you think. The key is to write targeted emails to the right people with the right message at the right time – simple, right? Jessica Lunk at Benchmark One wrote a great article on implementing a nine-word email as part of your marketing strategy. The concept comes from Dean Jackson and uses a very simple formula:

  • Subject line: First name
  • Body: Question that addresses customer pain point (e.g., Are you still looking for help with creating new content?)

That’s the whole email. If you get a response, you know they’re interested.

Reasons to start a newsletter

I’m a fan of reading newsletters, as they provide useful content that I enjoy. They also showcase some great writing with personality. Britany Robinson at The Write Life wrote a post on why you should start a newsletter. Her reasons include:

  • It’s easy to start (relatively speaking)
  • It forces you to create a writing routine (so true)
  • It’s a home for your voice (you write what you want)
  • You build credibility (absolutely)
  • Nobody can take it away from you (only you can do that)
  • You can monetize it if you want to (true, but the other reasons are more important to me)

Adding personality to digital content

Nick DiLallo published an article at UX Collective on writing digital products with personality. If you’re involved in UX writing at all, these are some great tips for writing more effective and interesting copy. His suggestions include:

  • Build a brand voice from the start
  • Consider how you use vocabulary 
  • Look for small moments
  • Begin with clarity

Process goals, performance goals, and outcome goals

Hollie and Terrell Johnson at The Half Marathoner published an article on three types of running goals. Why am I talking about running goals? Because these goals also apply to writing. The three types of goals are:

  • Process goals – the training you do to achieve your writing goals (e.g., writing a certain number of words in a day)
  • Performance goals – the goals you set to achieve that are under your control (e.g., writing a manuscript by the end of the year)
  • Outcome goals – the goal you want that is outside your control (e.g., having your book picked up by a major publisher)

Check out what Ron Hogan had to say about outcome goals:

Nearly all writers, I think, start with outcome goals: I want my memoir to be published. I want to write a bestselling novel. I’d like to be able to support myself with my writing. I want people to recognize how talented I am. … If we cling too strongly to these outcomes, though, we may forget that we cannot make them happen on our own. A publisher has to decide to publish our book. Consumers have to want to buy it. People have to make up their own minds about our talent.

Choosing a name for your blog

I came up with name of my blog pretty simply – I’m an editor, I sit a desk, it worked. But you might want to use a different tactic to name your blog or podcast. Matt Gladstone at Flocksy wrote a post on coming up with the name for your blog to help it succeed. He suggests the following:

  • Focus on your niche (important if you’re in a niche)
  • Do your research
  • Consider the message you’re sending
  • Use a name generator (lazy, I like it)
  • Look to your target audience
  • Focus on your brand
  • Make it easy to spell and find

What I wrote

Check out what I wrote for SellerantCreating a Strategic Planning Process Model for Your Startup.

What I read

I came across a great online magazine called SULTURE Magazine. Check it out – it’s well written, has beautiful imagery, and it’s free.

What I watched

I watched the first season of Emily in Paris on Netflix. Honestly, I was hooked from the first episode. The main character is so likeable and engaging. I also learned quite a bit about Paris and Parisians, and a little about fashion and social media. I’ve been wanting to visit Paris for a few years, as has my daughter. Once it’s clear to travel again, Paris is near the top of the list of places to go.

What I listened to

Normally, I listen to podcasts while I work. Sometimes I want to pay attention to what they’re saying, and I can’t do that if I am seriously engrossed in my writing or I need to be motivated. I discovered this YouTube channel for “deep concentration and studying.” It seems to work, even though I don’t listen to a lot of music these days.

Thanks for reading. If you liked what I wrote or think someone else would enjoy it, then please share it. And if you want to reach out, my email is


Using grammatical metaphors, creating an antilibrary, extracting content from subject matter experts, and more

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Welcome to another Monday. Here are a few things I’d like to share from The Editor’s Desk.

Using grammatical metaphors to say more with less

I’m a fan of being efficient with writing. Keep your writing tight (unless you get paid by the word). Vinh To for The Conversation published a post on using grammatical metaphors to say more with less. Grammatical metaphors involve expressing one type of grammatical form (e.g., verbs) in another form (e.g., nouns). Nominalization involves turning verbs, adverbs, and other grammatical forms into nouns. It offers a number of key benefits, including:

  • Shortening sentences.
  • Clearly showing how one thing causes another
  • Connecting ideas and structuring text
  • Formalizing the tone of your writing

Here is one example of using nominalization to shorten text:

  • Before: When humans cut down forests, land becomes exposed and is easily washed away by heavy rain. 
  • After: Deforestation causes soil erosion.

Creating an antilibrary

I enjoy buying and eventually reading books. I keep all the books I’ve read in a library, and what I haven’t read yet is organized in piles next to my bed – I can’t yet bear shelving books I haven’t read yet. However, there is a lot to be said about doing just that. Anne-Laure Le Cunff at Ness Labs wrote an article about building an antilibrary, which is a collection of unread books. It’s not a new concept, as many learned people have built antilibraries over the years. The goal is often to collect books on topics you want to learn about, and having those books at the ready will make it easier to do so. Some might argue that the Internet contains all known information, but there is something to be said about being able to reach out and actually read a book on something you want to learn about.

If you’re a freelance writer, consider accumulating an antilibrary of books on writing, marketing, and topics in your niche. When you want to do research or get a different perspective on writing, you can just reach out for one of your unread books.

Quote: When an author mentions another book, check the exact reference and make a note of it. By doing so, you will have a list of all the relevant sources for a book when you are done reading it. Then, research this constellation of books. It is unlikely all the sources on the list will seem interesting to you. Sometimes, only a short passage of the source was relevant to the book you just read. But other times, you will discover a book that genuinely piques your curiosity. Add this book to your antilibrary.

Extracting content from subject matter experts

Have you ever interviewed a subject matter expert who is not the greatest at sharing their knowledge with you in a way that makes sense? For various reasons, it can be difficult to do so. I know I’ve been challenged to get answers out of experts when deadlines are looming. Mindy Zissman at MarketingProfs wrote an article about six ways to extract content from subject matter experts. Her tips include:

  • Booking an Abstract Day (a scheduled date and time to ask questions and get content ideas)
  • Reuse one of their presentations
  • Jump on one of their scheduled client calls
  • Do background research before talking to the expert
  • Ask the expert to record their answers
  • Do a writing workshop lunch and learn

Creating a landing page

There is a lot of information on landing pages to be found online. For those who don’t know, a landing page is a page on your website (or on its own) where you offer something interesting and valuable (e.g., white paper, ebook, newsletter) to visitors in exchange for their email address. CJ Chilvers wrote an interesting post on lessons learned about writing landing pages, which are described briefly below:

  • Remember the basics of what the landing page is about
  • Focus on benefits over features
  • Think in 5 second intervals of what is being read
  • Focus on one action you want from the visitor
  • Everything is a trade-off – something you add / leave out will drive visitors away
  • Every page on your website is a landing page
  • Focus on customers first
  • Test everything
  • Be diplomatic with other members of your team

Creating a marketing plan for your small business

A marketing plan will help you to know more about your customers and how to reach them so they business with you. Matt Gladstone at Flocksy wrote a great article on marketing plan tips for small businesses. He suggested the following five steps for creating your own marketing plan:

  • Create and focus on your goals and objectives
  • Define your target audience
  • Do your research
  • Effectively and efficiently execute your plan
  • Plan a timeline and budget

Check out my blog posts on creating a marketing plan:

Thoughts on writing

Morgan Housel, a partner at Collaborative Fund, wrote a few of his thoughts on writing. This one stood out to me:

Good ideas are easy to write, bad ideas are hard. Difficulty is a quality signal, and writer’s block usually indicates more about your ideas than your writing.

What I wrote

Here’s an article I wrote for Digital Privacy News: Saskatchewan Law Against Domestic Violence Raises Privacy Concerns.

What I read

Here’s a great quote I read from Barbara Tuchman (source: The Book, Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 34, No. 2 (Nov. 1980)) on the power of books:

“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. Without books, the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are engines of change (as the poet said), windows on the world and lighthouses erected in the sea of time. They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasures of the mind. Books are humanity in print.”

What I watched

I’ve just finished watching the first season of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I read the book (and recommend it) many years ago, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I did not remember about the story. I was able to enjoy it with fresh eyes, and I’m looking forward to watching season 2. And with season 3 here, I can catch up and watch it in “real time” instead of binging.

What I listened to

I watched this short clip of an interview between Polina Marinova Pompliano and James Clear on how to optimize your content diet.

Thanks for reading. If you liked what I wrote or think someone else would enjoy it, then please share it. And if you want to reach out, my email is


Articles versus blogs, using LinkedIn to find leads, and the secrets of successful creators

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Here is what I read this past week.

Writing an article vs. writing a blog post

Carol Tice from Make a Living Writing wrote an article on the differences between writing an article versus writing a blog post. Basically, there used to be a firm dividing line between the two types of content, but the line has blurred as blog posts have become more like articles. It’s worth a read for anyone who is getting into writing either blog posts or articles, and even those writers who have been at it for a while.

Using LinkedIn to get leads

Emily Jacobs was interviewed on Make a Living Writing about how to leverage LinkedIn marketing to get leads. I use LinkedIn regularly, and there are some great tips here, including:

  • Update your profile picture
  • Write a compelling headline 
  • Include a niche-specific description
  • Updates settings for SEO
  • Include all freelance writing gigs

The secrets of successful creators

Josh Spector wrote an ebook called The Secrets of Successful Creators. It includes “256 proven strategies from the world’s most successful creators you can use to produce, promote, and profit from your creations.” The summaries and links to articles and video were originally shared in Josh’s FOR THE INTERESTED newsletter. The ebook is pay what you can and covers the following topics:

  • Audience growth
  • Career
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing
  • Newsletter growth
  • Podcasting
  • Productivity
  • Resources
  • Twitter
  • Writing
  • Miscellaneous

This is probably the last blog post for 2020. I hope you have a great 2021. Thanks for reading. If you want to reach out, my email is


How to win over clients as a freelance writer

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Finding new clients for your freelance content writing business – or any business for that matter – is more important today than it has ever been. Many freelancers have lost clients due to COVID-19 forcing the closure of their clients’ businesses, as well as some clients reducing their needs for freelance writing. It’s also important for new freelancers who want to grow their business.

There are many, MANY ways to find clients as a freelance writing business. To follow are four strategies that can work together to help you win new clients as a freelance writer.

Define your ideal client

Think about who you want to work with, or who you have worked with that was a great client. You enjoy the work and they pay well. Winning just a few ideal clients can make your business, and help you to enjoy the work you do so you’ll want to do great work.

Consider your goals – income goals, lifestyle goals, fulfillment of work – and match the clients to your goals.

So how can you classify ideal clients?

  • Clients within your industry or desired niche
  • Geography
  • Connections to others within your network
  • Mutually shared interests

Create a client acquisition plan

You need a way to find and acquire clients. The method depends on what works best for you, but here are some ideas:

  • Ask people in your network for connections
  • Attend local business events (online if necessary)
  • Join and search industry associations
  • Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. – wherever you hang out online
  • Send out cold and warm emails, make phone calls, mail postcards, etc.

Whatever method you choose, commit to a repeatable plan. Stick with the methods that work for you, and repeat daily / weekly / monthly. Set tasks that you can repeat each week, and that will take a few hours of your week. Aim for bite-sized tasks that are easy to accomplish, as they will spur you to keep going.

Do what is within your control, and what you feel comfortable doing.

Sell solutions to business problems

You’re a writer (or whatever you happen to do). But your potential clients don’t really care what you do. The want solutions to their problems, not specific skills or services.

A skill is something you know how to do. A business problem is something you can solve using your skills. You can sell your skill set (i.e., say what you do, the experience you have doing it) to sell a solution to a specific problem. State the following:

I can help you do THING IMPORTANT TO CLIENT. I helped clients in your industry GET RESULT IMPORTANT TO CLIENT.

Create a sustainable business – repeat clients

The key to creating a sustainable business is to work with clients who will keep using your services over time. You don’t want “one and done” work … unless it pays very well and leads to referrals for more work.

This should be part of your client acquisition plan. Book strategy calls with clients every quarter or every few months. Discuss how you can take care of their work needs, as well as how you can help them to achieve their business goals.

Other blog posts on getting new clients

Do you need help with growing your freelance content writing business? Do you need a freelance writer? Let me know –