Category: marketing

What’s a lead magnet and how do I write one?

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Welcome to the fourth Monday in May. Have you noticed that everything is covered in a fine layer of yellow dust? I believe it’s pollen. It’s horrible and makes it looks like everything is dirty. I am actually hoping for a bit of rain.

Random quote: Don’t try to be better than someone else. Never stop trying to be the best you can be. You control your effort.

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

What’s a lead magnet and how do I write one?

I recently had the opportunity to write a few lead magnets for a new client. It was an interesting assignment as they had a structure they wanted followed, which I didn’t really learn until after I had done the first draft. Fortunately, it was close enough to what they wanted that they gave me a few more lead magnets to write.

So, what is a lead magnet? Basically, it’s something you give to a prospect that has value in exchange for their email address or contact information. It’s typically a free ebook, whitepaper, webinar, report or something similar. In my case, the lead magnets were reports related to innovation and the future post-COVID-19 in different parts of the real estate industry.

A lead magnet should have value to the person reading it. They should want the report (or whatever it is) because it contains useful information.

There are many ways to write a lead magnet, and many different types of content. However, you can break a lead magnet into different parts.

Introduction

The introduction should consist of the following:

  • An engaging statement or question (e.g., Have you ever wondered…?)
  • What the lead magnet does or is intended for (e.g., I was tired of this…)
  • Why they should trust you – provide a personal story (e.g., I’ve been where you are…)
  • AHA moment – state a big reveal that shifted you to where you are

Key content

Here’s a few strategies on what to put in the body of your lead magnet.

  • Include a step-by-step process or list something consumable.
  • State what it is, why it matters, and how you do it (e.g., Five ways to defeat writer’s block)
  • Give examples and lead the reader through what they should do
  • Include a link to something else, like a program or book, where you explain the topic further

Conclusion

Repeat or emphasize what you hope they learned. Restate the value of the content and the desired outcome.

The point of the lead magnet is to get the reader to do something. That is why it requires a call to action. Tell the reader what you want them to do next. Provide a link to your website, landing page, etc., or tell them how to contact you (email address, phone number).

For more information on lead magnets, check out 11 tried-and-true lead magnet ideas and examples from Hubspot.


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

How to write a great About Me page

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Welcome to the third Monday in May. It looks like a great weekend, so I plan to build my pergola. If you never hear from me again, it either collapsed on me or I have decided to live in my backyard.

Random quote: It is easier to build strong children than it is to repair broken adults. Show them how to act properly, each and every day.

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

How to write a great About Me page for your website

Many writers have a tough time writing about themselves. That’s why we often have difficulty writing our own websites and bios, especially the About Me page. We want the words to be perfect – much like the tailor wants his suit to be perfect or the interior designer wants her home to be perfect. We are our worst critics.

I read a great article on writing About Me pages from Marian Schembari. I liked it so much that I want to share what I’ve learned.

First, many writers get the About Me page wrong. They make it all about them, rather than appealing to their ideal client. The About Me page has two goals:

  • Get readers excited about finding you
  • Send the reader to the right place (i.e., where they can learn about what you do and contact you)

To write a great About Me page, include the following six components:

  1. Value proposition – State what is unique and desirable about you as a writer, preferably in the introductory headline
  2. Daydream – Describe what the perfect situation looks like for the reader (e.g., Imagine if…)
  3. Differentiator – State what makes you different from other writers. Describe a unique offer. Explain what makes you crazy / what bothers us (e.g., poorly written headlines).
  4. Story – Talk about your mission, work history, awards, etc. Write out your personal story. This is where your writing skills should come into play. Ask (and answer) the question: Have you had the same problem as the prospect you are trying to reach?
  5. Offering – Link to your primary service.
  6. Call to action – Tell the reader what to do with an incentive. Offer an email or newsletter subscription. Provide a link to where you want the reader to go.

Take a look at your website and see how you can incorporate these elements into your About Me page. Make sure it reflects what would appeal to your reader rather than what you want to say about yourself.


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

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

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

Learning to write faster

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

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

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

Turning away potential clients

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

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

How to write compelling introductions

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

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

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

Editing mistakes to avoid

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

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

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

How to read more

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

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

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

Resource: How to create a profitable eBook and course

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

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

What I wrote

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

What I read

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

What I watched

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

What I listened to

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


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

Asking questions before writing, dealing with procrastination, books for writers, and more

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Welcome to the first Monday in February. I hope you’re doing well… but if you’re not, I hope things get better. Keep going.

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

Questions to ask clients before writing

Many clients don’t provide comprehensive briefs for writing projects. Some will provide a topic or title idea and some keywords to include, and that’s about it. As a writer, you need to get as much information as possible before writing a single word. This will help you get as close as possible to what the client wants, and will save you time in rewriting. You could ask a lot of questions, but here are a few to get you started:

  • Who is the audience for this content? What do they value, and what problems are they trying to solve?
  • What is the goal of the content? Are you trying to sell, educate, inform, convince, etc.?
  • What is the desired length for the content? You don’t want to write 2,000 words when they only need 500.
  • What sources are required, and how many sources do you need?
  • What tone is required for the content? Ask for examples of tone they want, and tone they don’t want.

Dealing with procrastination

If you’re a writer – or a human being – you have had to deal with procrastination at some point in your life. It often occurs when you’re staring at a blank page and dealing with a deadline, and you’d rather do anything else except writing. Patricia Allen at Craft Your Content wrote a blog post on the art of avoiding procrastination.

Here’s a great quote: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Rather than avoiding the task completely, organize your time into blocks. This will give you a clear plan to follow. Decide in advance what blocks of time you will allocate each week to family, entertainment, exercise, hobbies, and work. Your priorities will determine the order of these blocks of time, but making time for them all is the essential balance required. 

Books for writers

If you’re a writer, then you should also be a reader, and that includes books on writing. Farrah Daniel at The Write Life put together a list of the best books on writing. I know that “best” is subjective, but I own some of these books (including On Writing by Stephen King and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott) and have to agree with them being on the list. Borrow them from the library or support your local used bookstore.

Virtual conferences for writers

Since we cannot go to physical events at the moment, we can attend virtual events to network with others, learn more about our craft, and have interesting experiences. Make a Living Writing put together a list of virtual conferences and events for writers. It’s worth checking out.

Creating a marketing style guide

Whether you are a one-person show or run a small business, you should create some rules around your marketing copy. Marketing style guides don’t have to be complicated. Nathan Collier at Groove published their marketing style guide, and it’s exactly what you need – all the basics on being consistent when publishing online. It covers voice and tone, headings and subheadings, punctuation, and a lot more

How to get better every day

Here’s a quote from James Clear:

“Improvement is a battle that must be fought anew each day. Your next workout doesn’t care how strong your last one was. Your next essay doesn’t care how popular your last one was. Your next investment doesn’t care how smart your last one was. Your best effort, again.”

What I wrote

Here’s an article I wrote for Business.com12 Best Ways to Use Business Texting.

What I read

Tim Ferriss is one of my favourite authors. In addition to his books, I enjoy reading his weekly blog posts and listening to his podcasts. He wrote an eye-opening blog post called 11 Reasons Not to Become Famous. I don’t expect to ever become famous, not to his level anyway. And given what I’ve read, I hope I never do.

What I watched

I watched this YouTube video on Kurt Vonnegut’s rules for writing a short story. As someone who wants to write stories, I was definitely interested. One great piece of advice: Write to please just one person.

What I listened to

I enjoy listening to The Pen Addict podcast. Mike Hurley and Brad Dowdy talk all things related to fountain pens, other types of pens, stationery, and things related to writing. If you’re into pens at all, or want to learn more about them, make sure to 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

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

Getting readers to like you, short marketing tips, and a guide on marketing basics

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

Getting readers to like you right away

Kayleigh Moore wrote a great piece on getting readers to like you within the first 10 seconds of reading your content. She suggests:

  1. Make them laugh. Most people enjoy humorous writing, so being funny can get readers to like you. But make sure it’s your sense of humour. Consider the following ways to inject humour into your writing:
    • Quote other funny people.
    • Make fun of yourself – a little.
    • Aim for dry humour.
  2. Share your flaws. Be honest and vulnerable about the mistakes you’ve made, the challenges you’ve faced, some of your minor fears, etc. It’s not the place to unload your deep issues – unless that’s what you’re trying to achieve.
  3. Spotlight your personal achievements. It’s OK to share some wins you’ve made through hard work and determination. Don’t go around blowing your horn all the time, but no need to be shy when something good happens when you’ve earned it.
  4. Embrace your quirks. Be yourself. We’re all weird in some way. Share the things you like or do or think that are unique to you. People will identify with those things that they do or share with you as well.

Short marketing tips

Josh Spector provides 40 one-sentence marketing tips to help you think differently about how you spread your message. Here are a few of my favourite ones:

  • Marketing is storytelling and the most interesting stories are true.
  • To learn how to capture an audience’s attention, notice how someone captures yours.
  • If you master marketing principles, you don’t need to master marketing tactics because you’ll be able to invent your own.
  • Word of mouth marketing always happens — it’s just not always the words you want.
  • Don’t market on channels you don’t use yourself because you won’t understand why people use them.

Marketing 101

Jamie Wilde from Morning Brew published a guide called Marketing for Beginners: The Best Articles and Expert Resources. It includes insightful case studies, videos, articles, and more that people in the industry use to make them better professionals. It covers the basics (what is marketing?), the concept of brand, basics of consumer behaviour, ethical questions, data in marketing, and more.


Need help with writing marketing copy? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

How to get noticed as a freelance writer on LinkedIn

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I use LinkedIn a lot – to write blog posts, find leads, network with people in my industry, research potential clients and more. It’s a great tool for helping me to grow my business and attract potential clients.

There are numerous experts who write a lot about getting noticed on LinkedIn and building your brand. Here’s what I’ve learned about how to make the most of this resource.

Be consistent

Show up consistently where your prospective clients hang out – in groups, for example. Be consistently visible – write regularly. Be consistent in your message – stick to what works for you.

Be disciplined

Set aside time regularly to market on LinkedIn, research leads, contact prospects, etc. Spend the time to make the network valuable for you, and to add value to your network. Schedule your time weekly, and use that time to add value – help people with leads and introductions. Connect others where you can.

Be yourself

Share your unique perspectives and views. Add commentary on other people’s content. Write interesting articles on what you know. Add your point of view to your articles. Send personal messages to your contacts, and get involved in conversations.

Tools are as effective as you use them, and LinkedIn is no different. It won’t be as effective if you just set up a profile and let it sit there. Make the most of the tools at hand, and get yourself out there.

How do you use LinkedIn to your advantage? Need help with writing great messages? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David