Category: freelancing

How to negotiate with clients

Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

Welcome to the second Monday in May. To all the moms out there, I wish you a Happy Belated Mother’s Day. I hope your children gave you some love, hugs, and a little peace. And if you’re not a mom, I hope you still had a great Sunday.

Random quote: Inertia is the enemy of accomplishing great things. To defeat this enemy, just do.

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

How to negotiate with clients

Negotiating rates, deadlines, and projects with potential and current clients is part of the freelance writer’s job. You will not get what you want and deserve without some amount of negotiating. It is the rare client who will give you everything you want without asking or bargaining to some degree. It can be difficult and challenging to negotiate, especially if you are new to freelancing or you have to deal with a new client.

The following strategies will help you to negotiate rates and whatever else you need from new and existing clients.

  1. Be confident in your abilities. You are a good writer / editor / designer / freelancer. Believe in yourself. You deserve the rates you get – you deserve better than the rates you’re currently charging. You provide real value. You also deserve to work with great clients.
  2. Negotiation is part of the world you work in. Clients expect you to negotiate. Knowing how to negotiate, and expecting to negotiate, shows you are a professional. Act like it.
  3. Find the right clients. Some clients will never pay your rates, no matter how good you are. Work with clients who are willing to negotiate and can afford to pay your rates.
  4. Work out the details first. Ask questions (what do they need, who is it for, why do they need it, when do they need, how do they want it done). Define the scope in detail and quickly. Negotiate everything that can be negotiated (e.g., rate, deadline, rounds, word count, interviews).
  5. Make the client go first. Ask, “What’s your budget / rate?” You now have a base for negotiations.
  6. Speak to other freelancers. Ask freelancer groups, LinkedIn groups, references, etc. to see what others are charging for similar work.
  7. Pause or be silent for a while after the client states a position. Let them fill the gap.
  8. Make sure you feel good and right when negotiating. If something feels off (or you don’t feel well), tell the client you will get back in a couple of days. Schedule the follow up at a later date. You’ll feel better and be in a better position.
  9. Don’t feel pressured to respond with a number unless you are ready. Sleep on it. If you respond too quickly, you might come off as desperate. Also, don’t respond if the client is in disarray or disorganized. Negotiate from comfort and in a good position.
  10. Voice objections where merited. Increase your rate for rush jobs, complex topics, more interviews, or when other factors make the work more challenging.
  11. If they cannot meet your rate, leave the door open for future work – don’t burn bridges. Offer to be the backup plan if the client goes with another provider. Make sure they know other projects will be negotiated separately.
  12. Aim for project rates rather than hourly rates. Only you know how much you earn by the hour. You know what you will earn and the client knows the budget.
  13. Get everything in writing – contracts are a must. Know what and when you will be paid. No contract means no obligation to be paid.

More from The Editor’s Desk

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

  1. There is a lot to be said in favour of writing blogs and articles in the first person (I / we). However, it often makes sense to write to the reader in the second person (you). Check out The second-person point of view from The Write Life for details on what’s involved in writing in the second person and why it can work for you.
  2. Every freelance writer needs a portfolio. How do you make one and what do you put in it? Check out How to create a portfolio that showcases your work from Freelance Writing Coach for what you need to know about putting together a portfolio.
  3. Do you like books? Do you like lists? Do you like lists of books? Check out 32 best books for bloggers and freelance writers that will make you successful from Moss Media for books that will… well, you know, it’s in the title.
  4. Do you wonder why you’re not as productive or creative as you could be, even though the pandemic has given you a lot of “free” time? Check out The Goldilocks theory from Austin Kleon for his view on why freelance writers don’t feel creative enough right now. His advice: Just make something, anything.
  5. Do you find that you use “very” or other modifiers too often in your writing? Do you want to use one good word instead of two average words? Check out Lose the Very for word choices to make your writing… exceptional.
  6. Your emails, articles, blog posts, and other content that goes out to potential and existing clients should have some type of call to action. End your content with something memorable. Check out 15 engaging ways to end your next blog post from Content Marketing Institute for suggestions on how to wrap up your blog post in a way that readers will remember.
  7. Speaking of ending, do you use a signature in your emails? It’s free marketing space – don’t let it go to waste. Check out The super signature from Cody Burch for an effective way to wrap up your email after your name.
  8. Being a productive writer can be a challenge. Check out Top 10 productivity tips from outstanding writers from Craft Your Content for strategies on being a more productive writer, no matter what you write.
  9. Creativity is difficult to nail down. Sometimes, the world just gets in the way. Check out Not everything you do has to be “original creative work” from Elisa Doucette for steps on getting over creative brain drain.

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

Simple tips on succeeding as a service-based freelancer

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

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 contact@davidgargaro.com. 

David

Guerrilla marketing for writers

Welcome to the third week of March – the ides of March! That means something to Julius Caesar or Shakespeare fanatics. To the rest of us, it’s just the middle of March and spring is around the corner.

I’m doing something a little different with The Editor’s Desk this week. We’ll see where it goes.

Guerrilla marketing for writers

Last year I read Guerrilla Marketing for Writers by Jay Conrad Levinson, Rick Frishman and Michael Larsen. I picked up the book at a library sale along with a bag of various works of fiction. I took some notes on what writers should know about marketing their writing and themselves. Although the strategies and the book is geared toward authors, there are some great suggestions for all writers. We all need do some form of guerrilla marketing.

  • Quality of content is the most important part of the marketing equation.
  • Commit to your marketing program – believe in it and do it.
  • Marketing is an investment in your future – what you do now will pay off later.
  • Marketing must be consistent – make it a regular habit.
  • Make your potential readers confident in you and your abilities.
  • Be patient with your marketing – it’s like exercise.
  • Use an assortment of marketing tools – try them all and focus on what works.
  • Real profits occur after the sale – readers will buy more if they like your work.
  • Run your business to be convenient for others.
  • Put an element of amazement in your marketing.
  • Use measurement to judge the effectiveness of your marketing.
  • Create and sustain involvement between you and the audience.
  • Learn to depend on other businesses and encourage them to depend on you.
  • Develop the skills and resources to promote your work.
  • Get the consent of people you want to market to.

More from The Editor’s Desk


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

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

Photo by Karol D on Pexels.com

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 contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

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

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

Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

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 contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

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 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

Opportunities for freelance writers, reimagine your existing content, getting specific, and more

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Here are a few interesting articles and blog posts I’ve read this past week:


Do you read some great newsletters? Share them with me – contact@davidgargaro.

David