Category: business

Setting your rate, stopping procrastination, the T-shaped information diet, and more

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Welcome to the last Monday in February. I hope that everyone is staying warm and safe. My dog woke me up at 1:30 in the morning two days in a row. Anyone want a free dog? I kid – my daughter would never let that happen.

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

Setting your freelance writing rate

Many freelance writers dread when they hear clients ask, “What’s your rate?” The most common fears are:

  • Set your rate too high and you lose the client.
  • Set your rate too low and you’re losing money.

It’s usually preferable to have the client provide a rate so you can decide whether it’s worth your time. It also gives you a base from which to work, and it’s the minimum you’ll make, so you can quote a higher rate from there.

There is no perfect rate – what works for you won’t work for other people. Consider the following advice on how to set your freelance writing rate:

  • Some clients like hourly rates – it’s easy to measure. However, others might get turned off by your hourly rate because they might not see the value in YOUR hourly rate.
  • Hourly rates penalize more experienced writers. If you’ve been a writer for a while, you probably write faster and more efficiently than a less experienced writer. If they both worked on the same project, the less experienced writer would make more money using an hourly rate.
  • Many writers and clients like per word rates – you know the word count and can easy calculate the final cost. But they are not great for every situation. Given equal per word rates, 1000-word blog post with very little research and no interviews would pay the same as a 1000-word article with three interviews, extensive research, and two rounds of revisions.
  • The ideal pricing method is the project rate. You determine the cost of the project based on how long you think it will take (using YOUR hourly rate, plus a buffer for extra work). The client gets a fixed price, so they know how much the project costs and the value of your services.

How to stop procrastinating

Every writer who tells the truth knows about procrastination. We will often find almost anything else to do when we are faced with a blank page and cannot get the words to come out. Ayaz Nanji at MarketingProfs put together an infographic on how to stop procrastinating and become a joyful writer. The three tips are:

  • Practice getting started
    • Break the process into chunks
    • Set small, easy-to-reach goals
    • Build a bridge to tomorrow
  • Avoid mid-writing distractions
    • Identify your triggers
    • Determine how your behaviour makes you feel
    • Replace procrastination with a good habit
    • Set a timer
  • Dance with your feelings
    • Acknowledge your resistance
    • Devise tactics to get around it

The T-shaped information diet

According to Nick DeWilde at The Jungle Gym, the best way to grow your abilities is to “build a shallow understanding across a breadth of domains and a depth of expertise in whichever domain is most relevant to your profession.” This is known as the T-shaped information diet. The key is to curate information streams that deliver high-value insight. When evaluating information to add to your diet, you should consider the following sources:

  • Popular vs. undiscovered information
  • Open access vs. gated content
  • Institutional vs. individual publishers
  • Primary vs. secondary sources
  • New vs. old ideas

Here’s a great quote: By subscribing to a mix of individual thinkers and institutional publications, you receive a holistic sense of the conversation. Individuals give you early access to unfiltered insight while institutions can help you identify which ideas are making their way into the mainstream.

Building confidence

Many writers have a problem with impostor syndrome. We never believe we’re good enough in our writing, especially when starting with new clients. The key is to develop confidence in your abilities. Linda Zhang at Product Lessons wrote an article on how to build confidence using five landmarks:

  • Raise belief capital
  • Start with limited expectations
  • Find an unfair advantage
  • Normalize your heroes
  • Make transforming experiences 

Here’s a great quote: Growth should be uncomfortable, but not fatal. The best way to keep growing is to stay in the game, so if you’re on the brink of quitting, pick a more narrow lane that you feel confident in. As you grow your confidence and skills, you’ll be ready to take on bigger challenges. 

Rules on creating

Bob Lefsetz wrote 28 rules on creating in 2021. Here are some of my favourite:

  • Perseverance: It takes longer than ever to make it. If you are not in it for the long haul, don’t even start.
  • Your goal is to be self-sustaining.
  • You’re the only one on your team.
  • The Internet is the means. You create the end.

Quotes on writing

Denis Johnson put out a list of quotes on writing – here is the free PDF. I’ll let you discover your favourites on your own.

What I wrote

Here’s an article I wrote for Sellerant: Automating the Process of Moving a Prospect Through a Marketing Funnel.

And here’s a blog post I wrote two years ago – Three steps to get referrals.

What I read

I just finished reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I had never seen the movie, other than some trailers, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was a great read with a pretty shocking reveal. I’m not a fan of diary / letter format books, but I liked it quite a bit. I’m definitely going to check out the movie to see how it translates to the screen.

What I watched

My family and I watched the movie The Greatest Showman with Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams and Zac Efron. We all liked it – the songs were extremely catchy, the cinematography was beautiful, and the performances were great.

What I listened to

I recently joined Clubhouse. It’s interesting, as there are some great rooms on writing and marketing. There are also a lot of rooms of no interest, but that’s no different than most networking events, seminars, and parties I would not attend or be invited to. Based on what I’ve heard, seen, and read, some people have really jumped into Clubhouse as a strategy to grow their business. It’s like any other tool or app – success depends on how you use it. If you’re on there, come find me – @davidgargaro.

I also have some invites, so if you have an iPhone, the first email I get will receive an invite. That will show you actually read this far, which is pretty impressive.


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 contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

Controlling the client’s revisions, creating a rate card, writing a manifesto, and more

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Welcome to another Monday in February. Did you get something done today? Good for you. If not, try again tomorrow.

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

Controlling the client’s revisions

Have you heard the expression, “Give a weed an inch, and it will take a yard.” (That’s a gardening joke.) The expression applies to clients of content writers and copy editors. The number of requested revisions can get out of hand if you let clients control the process or think that they can make unlimited revisions.

Here are a few tips for reducing (or controlling) the number of revisions that clients request when you provide the first draft:

  • Be clear on the client’s expectations and project scope
  • Ask the client questions before writing so that you can be as clear as possible on what they need
  • Include the number of revision cycles in your contract
  • Have all stakeholders sign off on a completed project review and the first draft
  • Write an outline and show it to the client before writing
  • Ask for consolidated feedback from all stakeholders
  • Request reviewers to use Track Changes when making comments
  • Set a deadline or limit for revisions

Creating a rate card for your business

For some part of my career as a freelance content writer and copy editor, I had a rate card that showed my rates for different services. These days, I will provide quotes based on the client’s description of what they need. Jennifer Goforth Gregory at The Content Marketing Writer wrote a post with five reasons on why to not publish a rate card:

  • One rate does not fit all situations (very true!)
  • Sometimes, it makes good business sense to take a lower rate (some clients are worth it)
  • You do not want to underprice yourself (the client may be willing to pay more than you typically charge)
  • Clients have to reach out to you to ask about your rate (that is inbound marketing)
  • You lose the chance to charge more for difficult clients (some clients are not worth working with, no matter how much you charge)

Writing a manifesto

I’ve never thought of writing a manifesto, although I’ve read a few interesting ones in my day. Rather than writing a list of goals, which many people will do especially when starting a new year, you might want to consider writing a manifesto, which provides direction and guidance for big changes. Amy Stanton with Minutes provides some direction on writing a manifesto, which includes these three steps:

  • Shift your thinking from being externally focused to being internally focused
  • Connect emotions to the various responsibilities you have in your life
  • Create an accountability plan

Here’s a great quote: Remember: a manifesto is not a checklist of goals. This isn’t about our normal Type-A “how fast can we achieve our goals and cross the finish line.” This is about the journey and how we want to act, think, and feel along the way.

Marketing without social media

Social media marketing can be a very effective strategy for promoting and growing your business as a freelance writer, or for any solopreneur. However, there are many other ways to market your services. Alexandra Franzen wrote a post on 21 other ways to engage in marketing without social media. She has some great suggestions – here are some of my favourites:

  • Do a “45 in 45” email challenge.
  • Add info about your product or service to your email signature.
  • Circle back to previous clients and customers via email. Say hi. See if they’d like to hire you/purchase from you again.
  • Start a newsletter and send it out consistently.
  • Gently remind clients that you love and appreciate word-of-mouth referrals. Encourage them to send new clients your way.

What to ask before you quit

Have you ever wanted to quit on a company, client or project? If you haven’t, then you’ve either never worked for someone or you have led the most charmed life. Anisa Purbasari Horton at Fast Company wrote an article on four questions to ask yourself before quitting something:

  • Why did I pursue this in the first place?
  • Why do I feel the need to quit?
  • Have I done everything I can to make this work for me?
  • What do I have to gain by quitting?

Here’s a great quote: We don’t like to think about limits, but we all have them. While grit is often about stories, quitting is often an issue of limits–pushing them, optimizing them, and most of all, knowing them.

How to improve

Here are some tips from James Clear on how to improve:

  1. Lots of research. Explore widely and see what is possible. 
  2. Lots of iterations. Focus on one thing, but do it in different ways. Refine your method. 
  3. Lots of repetitions. Stick with your method until it stops working. 

What I wrote

Check out my article from the November 2020 issue of RHB Magazine2020 Taxation Report.

What I read

I just finished reading The Best of Me by David Sedaris. It’s a collection of fiction and non-fiction stories from his life, some of which was published in other works. Sedaris is a funny author, who keeps a daily journal of what he sees, hears, and thinks, some of which while picking up trash on the side of the road.

What I watched

I watched the movie Hotel Artemis featuring Jodie Foster, Dave Bautista, Sterling K. Brown, Jeff Goldblum, and others. I enjoyed it – if you’re into movies about criminals with a code, you might like it too. It scratched my itch at that time.

What I listened to

I listened to a podcast episode from Freakonomics Radio called “Can I ask You a Ridiculously Personal Question?” It covered the issue of asking sensitive questions. According to the research, most people are not actually afraid to discuss questions on money, sex, politics, and other “sensitive” issues. I guess that depends on who you ask.


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 contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

Money habits for freelance writers, practicing every day, how to show value, 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.

Money habits for freelance writers

Alexis Grant with The Write Life published an article on money habits that freelance writers should adopt this year. It can be difficult to manage and organize your finances, so this advice should help. Here are some of Alexis’ tips:

  1. Separate your personal and business finances (I throw it all into a box… sort of kidding)
  2. Pay yourself regularly (I try, I try)
  3. Be smart about invoicing (my way is old school Word and Excel, but it works for me)
  4. Track expenses diligently (I learned this the hard way after my first tax return)
  5. Review profit and loss each month (my expenses are pretty fixed, so when I make less or more I know what’s going on)
  6. Create a monthly checklist

Practice to get better, not to get perfect

Austin Kleon wrote a blog post called 100-Day Practice and Suck Less Challenge. The point of practice should be to get better, not necessarily to become perfect. You’re not competing against anyone but yourself. The whole point is to improve yourself and your skills, and feel good about doing it.

How to show your value

Wes Kao wrote an article on how to instantly show your value of your product. Some of these strategies can be applied to showing clients the value of your writing, editing or other services as well. You can demonstrate your value by:

  • Using before and after
  • Showing, not telling
  • Not worrying about your grammar (that would be an issue for a writer)
  • Increasing desire rather than just decreasing fiction
  • Using a be / have / do framework
  • Aiming for “no brainer” status
  • Doing what makes their “eyes light up”

How to write a freelance proposal

Evan Jensen from the Make a Living Writing blog published an article on how to write a freelance proposal. Most writers will have to pitch to get work, or write a cold email to get clients – it’s how I find new clients as well. This article has some great advice on what your proposal should include.

Here’s a great quote:

When a prospect comes to you, this is going to sound terrifying, you try and talk them out of hiring you. You do that by having the “Why conversation,” which has three steps. Here’s what you need to ask:

  • Why do you need this project? What’s the purpose? Basically, you have them convince you they need this content to help them achieve a goal.
  • What’s the timeline? Why not put this off another month, another year? Why is this urgent? You’re looking for projects that are urgent. The tighter the timeline and risk involved if the client doesn’t get this project done, the more you can charge.
  • Why do you want to hire me? List off all the people who undercut you, charge less than you, including writers on fiverr and Upwork. If you believe what you do is good, now is the best time to raise those pricing objections, and they’ll see that you’re worth it. Once you get these questions answered, prepare your proposal and include their answers verbatim.

Setting goals

Elizabeth Grace Saunders at Fast Company published an article on setting goals for 2021. It is understandably difficult to set a goal when a lot of other things are going on around you and your mind is otherwise occupied. She talks about different types of goals to set and their purpose, including:

  • Schedule goals – common tasks that will repeat
  • Process goals – standardized results for achieving specific results
  • Action goals – doing what you say you want to do
  • Stretch goals – those extra goals to make life just a bit better

Five types of editing

I’ve been a copy editor for more than 25 years, and I know quite a bit about different types of editing. Clients tend to confuse the different terms and will ask for copy editing when they really want a structural edit. Sola Kihinde with Craft Your Content write a blog post about five types of editing for creating top quality content (you should also check out the Editors’ Association for their definitions of editing). The five types of editing discussed include:

  • Developmental editing – high-level view of the document
  • Content editing (also known as substantive editing) – reviewing content by section and paragraph
  • Line editing (also known as stylistic editing) – focuses on sentences and word usage
  • Copy editing – checking spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, etc.
  • Proofreading – checking the final proof for errors

What I wrote

Here’s an article I wrote for ITPro.comHow to become a data scientist.

What I read

Late in 2020, I read The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. I’ve read several of his books, so I was eager to read his newest book. This book entertained and angered me at the same time, which is probably the mark of a good book. The writing, story and characters were great. What angered me was the premise. I’m not spoiling anything, as the description is on the back cover – the main character gets to see what she could have done differently in life to deal with her regrets, and find a life that makes her happy. Don’t we all wish we could have a do over?

What I watched

I finished watching the first (and only?) season of The Queen’s Gambit. The story behind how this show finally made it to air is pretty fascinating, and it’s an interesting show.

I also watched the third (and final?) season of Ozark. It’s just so good – so much lying and intrigue. But it looks like it’s not coming back for season 4 – what a shame.

What I listened to

I listened to a great interview with Tim Ferriss on his own podcast, where Guy Raz interviewed him on how he built what he has today. I knew some of what he discussed, but it was fascinating to learn about how he wrote his books and built his podcast.


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 contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

Making time to do your best work, becoming a content machine, writing the best call to action, and more

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Welcome to another Monday. If you’ve been a regular reader, you might have noticed a change in what and when I’m writing. I’ve decided to publish just on Mondays instead of twice a week. I might publish on the occasional Thursday if I write something that I want to stand out. Otherwise, it will be once a week. This will let me provide more information in each blog post. I’ve also changed the format a bit so you can learn more about what I like. Nothing is set in stone, but let’s see how this goes.

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

Make time to do your best work

Do Lectures published an article on seven ways to make time to do your best work. Strategies include:

  • Saying no to things that take time away from what you want to do
  • Committing all of your attention to your work
  • Mastering the ability to be patient
  • Finding something that you love doing
  • Getting rid of your ego
  • Identifying your purpose
  • Going for big wins

Here’s a great quote: “To change that you will have to learn how to say ‘No’ to things. Saying ‘No’ will allow you to have more time to do things well. You can’t do everything to the best of your talent. But you can do a few things to your highest ability.”

Becoming a content machine

Luk Smeyers from The Visible Authority published an article on becoming a content machine in just one day per week. He takes a three-step approach to generating and promoting his content. They include:

  1. Identify your content inspiration sources. 
  2. Create a content hub that will centralize all your content efforts.
  3. Set up a system for promoting your content.

He also tells you four things you can start doing tomorrow – I love instructions that include things you can actually do. Those four things are:

  1. Gather insights about your audience. 
  2. Centralize your content.
  3. Collect and assess the data.
  4. Schedule and automate your content production and distribution.

Writing the best call to action

Ann Handley published an article on writing the best call to action. She gives an example from North Carolina’s Currituck County Economic Development home page. The CTA is different, personal, and effective.

Quote: “The most effective copywriting reflects who you are, not just what you sell.

If you want to learn more about calls to action, read my blog post, Begin at the end: The call to action.

How to tackle the big project

Kate McKean, publisher of the Agents & Books newsletter, wrote an article on how to tackle the big project. Here’s some of what she had to say:

  • Read it all the way through one more time. I really feel it necessary to have a good lay of the land before I start a big project, but admittedly this step takes a lot of time and you might not have that time. Still, a read-through will give you an idea of what the most pressing issues are (soggy middle? unconvincing ending? prologue you need to chop off?) so that you can prioritize. This is especially helpful if you haven’t read it through in a long while. If you did it recently, you might not need to do it again.
  • Don’t do the small stuff first. It might be tempting to do your Find > Replace Joe to Joey, but tbh, do that last. You’ll likely just be editing stuff that will be cut after you do the big stuff, so don’t spin your wheels. 
  • Do the big stuff first. Do the biggest thing first. I know that is daunting and you would rather ease into an edit, but you have to take all the furniture out of the room before you replace the floors. (That metaphor works, right? How many metaphors can we use today!!!!) If you know the ending isn’t working, go in and fix the ending, which may mean fixing the beginning. If you feel like the stakes aren’t high enough, go ratchet up those stakes! When you do the big thing first, the rest feels so easy you’ll glide right through it. Also, the big thing usually ripples throughout the whole manuscript, so there’s no point in going in and changing the tense on a section you may just have to cut anyway.
  • Next do the medium stuff. Do you need to change the tense? First person to third? That’s what I consider medium stuff. It can still be pretty big! But after you have most things in the right places, then you can go in and make changes that affect the global template, so to speak. Again, do these after the big moves, even though it’s tempting to do them first because they’re easier to wrap your brain around.
  • Then do the small stuff. I know this seems obvious, or at least simplistic. But I also know that the overwhelm caused by an impeding huge edit can really cloud one’s judgement. Save the little things for last. Name changes. Checking timelines, weather, dates, consistency. These will feel like a piece of cake after the other two steps, so enjoy that relative ease!

The benefits of a morning writing routine

Naomi Pham from Craft Your Craft wrote an article on six profound benefits of a morning writing routine (and how to build one yourself). I’ve toyed with a morning journal and writing notes in the morning but it has not stuck with me yet. I understand the benefits, and the article lays them out very nicely, including:

  • It frees your mind of clutter
  • It helps you become more self-disciplined
  • It can help with your well-being
  • It enables you to take advantage of your best state of mind
  • It will help you avoid willpower depletion
  • It allows you to enjoy distraction-free writing

Getting ideas onto the page

Kayleigh Moore wrote an article about getting ideas out of your head and onto the page. This is a common problem for many writers, as they get stuck in their head and can’t translate their thoughts into the written word. Or they just don’t know where to start writing. Here is what Kayleigh suggests:

  • Identify your motivation – why do you want to write what’s on your mind?
  • Be OK with sharing something that is not perfect
  • Get over the mentality of “Why bother?”

She also provides some steps on executing the process of putting your thoughts on paper.

What I wrote

Here’s an article I wrote for the November/December 2020 Issue of RHB Magazine2020 Taxation Report: Understanding the inequities in the taxation of multi-residential properties.

What I read

I finished reading Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. He is one of my newer favourite authors whose books I plan to continue adding to my bookshelf. It’s a story about a bank robbery gone wrong, which turns into a hostage situation at an apartment viewing. It’s more than that, of course. But to say more would take away the joy of reading and discovering what happens next.

What I watched

I finally got around to watching the movie Tenet. I’m a fan of Christopher Nolan, and this one messes with your mind. It involves moving backward and forward in time, the past is the future, etc.

I also watched the movie Palm Springs. To say anything more than it involves two people who meet at a wedding would be giving away the crux of the movie. I’ll let you discover that nugget for yourself.

What I listened to

Some of the podcasts I listened to this week:


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 contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

Six elements of influence for freelancers

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As a freelancer or solopreneur, you are responsible for attracting and retaining clients. You have a number of tools at your disposal for getting clients. One overlooked strategy involves increasing your influence – or your ability to get clients to come to you. Your influence serves as a magnet – it draws prospects to contact you and consider you for the services you provide. So how can you work on your “influence muscle” and get more prospects to see you as the solution to their needs?

Consider these six elements of influence, and work those muscles (all together or individually) to become more influential in your field.

Reciprocity

Do something for someone else, and they will tend to return the favour. This is one of my preferred approaches. I will refer clients and leads to people, or help them find something they need – and they’ll be more likely to help me in the future. Reciprocity is a side effect of content marketing – you produce free useful content, and your readers / audience will feel obliged in some way to do something for you. Reciprocity involves giving now to receive later (but without making it feel like an obligation to do so).

Authority

People tend to follow or obey authority figures. It’s in our nature. What you need to develop is earned or demonstrated authority (NOT institutional authority) – your authority comes from your experience and showing your knowledge. Again, content marketing shows that you know what you are doing, which builds your authority.

Liking

We associate and do business with people we like. We want to associate with people we like. Become a likeable expert, and people will want to do business with you. Being likeable is subjective, but it’s relatively simple to achieve – be honest, be yourself, be friendly and approachable.

Social proof

People do what they see others doing. It’s why social networking websites do so well – people go where their friends and influencers go. When people say positive things about you (through testimonials or referrals), others will follow. Pay attention to what others say about you, and spread the word.

Commitment + consistency

When you commit to something, you tend to follow through and do it consistently. People are attracted to those who are committed to their craft, and who show that they are able to do it consistently. When you have a solution to a problem, and demonstrate that you can solve those issues consistently, prospects will want to work with you.

Scarcity

It’s the law of supply and demand. When a resource is scarce, or limited in time or availability, people will want it more. People tend to respond to avoid loss. Think of when you wanted to get something because it was running out. If you have a webinar or run a training course with limited seating or that is only available for a given time, it will trigger a response. This is my least favourite approach, as it can be used dishonestly and can backfire. But used properly, it can help with developing influence.

Build your influence, and you will attract prospects and grow your client list. Do it honestly and use the method(s) that work best for you.

Any questions or comments? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

Lead generation strategies for freelance writers

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If you’re self-employed, then you need to generate leads to keep bringing in new clients for your business. My advice to everyone is to find what works for you, and that you enjoy or are willing to do, and keep doing that. I tend to focus on contacting people through LinkedIn and sending customized emails to potential clients.

However, if you’re having difficulty finding lead generation strategies that work for you, then consider the following list – which I picked up from Josh Haynam at Hubspot.

  1. Collect and share success secrets from thought leaders. You can read books or interview industry experts, and summarize what they’ve said, much like Tim Ferriss has done in Tools of Titans and Tribe of Mentors.
  2. Make helper videos to solve an issue for prospects. You can also create a learning centre on your website or with your own YouTube channel.
  3. Create a quiz on your website to learn more about visitors and obtain their contact info. You can then publish the results of the quiz.
  4. Provide best practices for a challenging tactic in your industry. Make and share a list of great ideas on how to tackle a challenge, such as best practices for publishing a blog that draws in readers.
  5. Show what is working for you in your business. Provide a list of tips on what has worked or not for you. For example, if you are great at writing white papers, then you can explain what has worked for you, and what to avoid.
  6. Create a useful spreadsheet of resources. Even with Google and the Internet, people appreciate when someone has done the work for them to put together a list of useful resources.
  7. Offer a deep dive answer on a tough question. This means giving in-depth, step-by-step information on how to address a difficult problem. For example, you could go into detail on how people can attract clients at a trade show.
  8. Create a worksheet that simplifies a process. A prospect would give you their email address in exchange for the worksheet that can simplify that aspect of their life. I’ve seen great worksheets on writing sales sheets and marketing materials.
  9. Create a list of useful tools. Readers will use the tools to accomplish a goal, and keep returning to your site to make use of those tools. Even something simple like calculators for specific purposes – mortgages, investments, etc. – would bring in leads, as long as they apply to your business.
  10. Compile examples and case studies for people to learn from. Show how people have succeeded by doing something or following a process. This is effective in niche industries, as people want to learn from others in their industry.
  11. Create a valuable email course that teaches people how to do something (like create the perfect prospecting email) through a series of email lessons. I’ve taken a number of email courses, and they are great for learning at your own schedule.
  12. Host a giveaway. Make the giveaway something that people really want (whatever is hot or useful at that time). Make it something different, like a fountain pen or media streaming device.
  13. Create a template to simplify an everyday process – such as a budget, calendar, schedule or market research.
  14. Offer a free trial of your services. For example, you could edit / review a website page to demonstrate the value you provide.
  15. Make a checklist that takes the reader through a series of steps to ensure that a task is completed. It could serve as an easy reference on a process, such as what you should include in any prospecting email.

What lead generation tools have worked for you? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

How can your website generate leads for your freelance writing business?

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Disclaimer: I’m the shoemaker whose kids have no shoes here – I’ve put off redoing my website, which is a must. I’ll use the excuse that I’ve been busy with client work, but in reality, I’m just procrastinating. Still, to follow is some good advice, so don’t let my negligence get in the way of improving your website.

As a freelancer, you need to use a variety of tools to attract new clients to your business. Your website should be one of those key tools. It should be more than a portfolio site – it should work for you 24 hours a day, attracting the leads and clients you want. There are scores of books, websites, blogs and experts who can help you to create a better website. I’ve distilled a few ideas that can help you – the freelancer – create a website that will make your business more stable (i.e., attract clients on a regular basis).

9 things that your website should do

  1. Fit the world view of your ideal client. Don’t be everything to everyone. Address the content on your website to your best or ideal clients. Think how they think. Use the language that they know and use.
  2. Follow design best practices. Find a design you like and emulate it. Make sure that it uses spacing well (not cluttered), clear imagery (nice photos), legible fonts (on all types of viewing devices), etc. Simple is better
  3. Use effective headings. Keep them under 10 words. Each one should explain why the visitor is in that section. Headings should be benefit-focused.
  4. Tell your dream client why they are in their current situation. For example, if you’re a freelance writer, point out the horrors that occurred when they tried to do all the writing themselves, or they used an amateur. Don’t brag about yourself.
  5. Show the reader your passion and experience. Tell them about who you’ve helped, what you’ve done, and why you enjoy doing it. Be real – be yourself.
  6. Explain solutions clearly. State a problem and how you solve it, clearly and simply.
  7. Maximize the value of their visit. Give the reader something for their time – an ebook, cheat sheet, free gift, etc. Encourage them to come back, or sign up to a mailing list or newsletter.
  8. Point to a victory. Include a case study that shows what you did for another client who is like them. Explain what you did differently, and how you solved a problem.
  9. Have a clear call to action. Tell the potential client what to do and what will happen next. If they provide their email address, you will schedule a time to talk about their needs.

Make these changes to your website and you should see results – not right away of course. Your website is a tool, along with marketing, networking, cold / warm calling, etc. Make your website do some of the heavy lifting for you, and you’ll see results.

Let me know if you need help with some of these elements. I can refer you to some great web designers and writers (if I’m not available). Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

Seven steps to growing your freelance writing business

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Some time ago, I attended a seminar called “Mastering your business for maximum profit and success” by Colin Sprake. He runs seminars and trains business owners on developing strategies to grow their businesses – whether they sell products, provide services or consult. The title of the seminar attracted me (NOTE: Strong headings are important), so I decided to get out of the office for a bit and check it out. Colin offered some great strategies and tips, although I did not sign up for his program.

NOTE: I rarely do, as the short-term costs outweigh the long-term benefits… for me.

I’d like to share some of the tips provided here, as I think that freelancers, solopreneurs, consultants and other small businesses can benefit and grow their businesses by following these strategies without having to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in the training.

NOTE: I’m not advising for or against Colin Sprake’s program – check it out and see if it’s right for you.

Seven steps to growing your freelance business

Be laser focused

Whatever your business, focus all your efforts on making it succeed. Develop a vivid vision of your target and purpose, and then put all your effort into reaching that target. Be tenacious in achieving your goal.

Determine what you want to be

Don’t be a “me too” business – like everyone else in your market. Be a “me only” business – the only company that does what you do. You can do this by identifying what works and what doesn’t in your market, and learning what’s missing (i.e., what your clients need that others don’t provide). Talk to your clients to understand their needs and challenges, and then create solutions / products / services that address those challenges. Create branding that differentiates you from your competition and helps you to stand out from the crowd. Then support your brand with marketing (e.g., website, tagline, marketing materials) that speaks to how address these challenges.

Identify your audience

Create an avatar – the best client that buys from you frequently, that you love to deal with, that pays regularly and never complains. This is your ideal client, and you must learn everything you can about them – including where they hang out, so that you can reach more of them.

Write powerful headlines

Your headlines (in your emails, website, articles, marketing materials, etc.) should grab the reader’s attention, target their pain and shout “This is for me!”

Advertise your services

Create advertisements with powerful headlines that install urgency and scarcity – so that potential clients act quickly on your offers. Include a lot of white space and a powerful call to action – get the reader to respond to your advertisement. Bridge the gap with credibility – quotes, case studies, testimonials, etc. Repeat your advertisements to the same potential clients 5-7 times, at least once a week.

Maximize your sales

Many freelancers spend most of their time on operations – running the business, paperwork and so on. You must spend most of you time on sales and marketing, which is how you get your clients. Increase the percentage of time you spend on sales and marketing by outsourcing or streamlining the operations work.

Invest in yourself

Invest in training and education, as well as sales and marketing, so that you can grow your skills and your business. These are not costs, as they benefit you and lead to income. Focus on results rather than excuses. Think of ways that you can achieve a goal, rather than thinking that something cannot be done.

Follow these tips and your business will improve, especially if you have not been following any of these strategies. You can also seek out Colin Sprake and find out where he is teaching his next seminar. Let me know what you think, and how it works for you – contact@davidgargaro.com

David

Follow these daily habits to help your freelance writing business to succeed

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Many businesses use systems and repetitive processes to support their success. Repeatable processes are efficient and make it easier to run and grow a business. Similarly, successful people have daily habits that allow them to achieve more and succeed in what they do.

Everyone has different habits that work for them. Consider applying the following habits to help make your make your business a success.

  1. Continuously define success for yourself. What does success mean to you – making $100,000 per year, selling X units per month, being able to sit on a beach twice a year? Establish metrics so that you can measure and define your success, and then compare your results against those metrics.
  2. Always continue learning. Improve your skills and knowledge through courses, articles, books, webinars, etc., both inside and outside your industry.
  3. Keep your eyes and ears open for popular ideas and trends, as well as what is going on behind the scenes. Don’t go after every new idea – focus on one or two and be the trend setter in that area.
  4. Be persistent. Don’t stop trying when you hear “No.” Each “No” is one step closer to the next “Yes.” Also, don’t just go for what is easy. Difficult paths have less competition.
  5. Be generous. The more you give (such as referrals), the more you get. Giving leads to healthy relationships.
  6. Use new technology to automate processes, attract new clients and provide better customer service. You don’t have to spend a lot on technology to achieve significant returns.
  7. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Take your work seriously. Treat your business like a business, but relax your view of yourself.
  8. Prioritize your customers’ needs over your own. Focus on what they need as a solution rather than what you want to sell.
  9. Create a list of tasks to do on a specific day, organized by priority. Accomplish those goals. Every little win is a move forward.

What do you think of these habits? What habits do you have that help you succeed? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

How do you motivate yourself to market your freelance writing business?

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If you’re a freelance writer like me, then you know that to build your business, you must keep finding new clients – or get clients to find you. Successful marketing includes awareness creation – making prospects aware of you and the services that you provide.

Creating awareness of your services requires motivation – you must motivate yourself to market you and your business all the time. Technology and processes can help, but motivation is the engine that drives your marketing. Motivation comes from knowing why you must market yourself over time. When you understand why, motivation follows more easily. So, how do you achieve this motivation?

Know your value

Understand the value of what you do. You must know how you and your services help others. Make a list of your services, and how they help your clients (and you) to achieve their goals, address their needs, increase their income, solve problems, etc. Focus on the positives to understand your value.

Go for scale

Create a plan to scale your business. Work on getting more clients, and planning on how you will then serve those clients. You might get too many clients to handle now – that’s a good problem to have because you can choose to turn away lower paying clients, or outsource to handle that extra work. Continue working harder so that you can take on more work. You can also create and market supporting products (eBooks, webinars, email courses, etc.) to create additional income. The point is to not think small – do not be hesitant about growth.

Market for fun

Do what you enjoy if it does the job. Marketing should not be a chore to avoid. Add activities that you like doing to your marketing – networking, speaking at events, free talks at schools. As long as you enjoy it and it gets the word out, then keep doing it.

Focus on wins

Position your marketing in a way to create daily small wins. It could mean sending five emails per day, or calling one prospect a week, or writing a blog post / tweet. Traction stars with small wins, and every win is encouraging.

Conclusion

Motivation is the key – to marketing, working hard, improving yourself, and many other aspects of your work and life. Find what motivates you, and use it to market and grow your business.

Do you have more suggestions on motivating yourself to keep marketing? Let me know what you thought of my post – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro