Category: problem solving

How to negotiate with clients

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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 


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


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


Creating a habits scorecard, tips for a better life, and taking a 31-day challenge

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Welcome to the first Monday of 2021. I hope you’re doing well. Here’s a few things I’d like to share with you from The Editor’s Desk.

Creating a Habits Scorecard

James Clear, author of Atomic Habits (currently in the to-read pile next to my bed), published an article (it’s an excerpt from the book) on creating a Habits Scorecard. This exercise will help you to discover what habits you should change. He discusses “pointing and calling” your habits so that you become more conscious of them. The Habits Scorecard enables you to list your habits, and rank them as positive, negative or neutral.

Quote from the article: “As you create your Habits Scorecard, there is no need to change anything at first. The goal is to simply notice what is actually going on. Observe your thoughts and actions without judgment or internal criticism. Don’t blame yourself for your faults. Don’t praise yourself for your successes.”

100 tips for a better life

Conor Barnes of ideopunk wrote an article called 100 Tips for a Better Life. Here’s a few that I liked:

  • Establish clear rules about when to throw out old junk. Once clear rules are established, junk will probably cease to be a problem. This is because any rule would be superior to our implicit rules (“keep this broken stereo for five years in case I learn how to fix it”). 
  • When googling a recipe, precede it with ‘best’. You’ll find better recipes. 
  • Learn keyboard shortcuts. They’re easy to learn and you’ll get tasks done faster and easier. 
  • Done is better than perfect. 
  • Exercise is the most important lifestyle intervention you can do. Even the bare minimum (15 minutes a week) has a huge impact. Start small. 
  • Discipline is superior to motivation. The former can be trained, the latter is fleeting. You won’t be able to accomplish great things if you’re only relying on motivation. 
  • Things that aren’t your fault can still be your responsibility. 
  • Compliment people more. Many people have trouble thinking of themselves as smart, or pretty, or kind, unless told by someone else. You can help them out. 

Taking the 31-day challenge

Austin Kleon created a template to help you follow a 31-day challenge. Basically, you pick something small and you do it every day. I would like to write something in a journal or notebook every day. I write for other people most of the time, so it would be nice to write something for myself.

Google Docs add-ons

I use Google Docs to write articles and blog posts for some clients because that is what they prefer. I’m OK with it, but I still prefer writing in Word – it’s just what I’m used to doing. However, Google Docs does have its advantages, like being able to share and enable comments with others (this can be a disadvantage as well). Farrah Daniel wrote about Google Docs add-ons that can help to make you more efficient with your writing. The ones that look most useful to me include:

  • GDoc SEO Assistant – it generates relevant SEO suggestions and related keywords based on the keywords you provide
  • i should be writing – it allows you to set a timer or word count to motivate you to write
  • OneLook Thesaurus – find synonyms, related words, adjectives, rhymes, and more

Grammar and editing tools

For those of you who need more help with your grammar and spelling, check out these grammar and editing tools from Write Life. Grammarly seems to have a lot of fans. I don’t use any of these tools, but you might like them.

What I wrote

Here’s something I wrote recently for Business.com7 Most Effective Lead Nurturing Strategies.

What I read in 2020

I track what I read in Goodreads and in a notebook; when I’m done reading, I write two pages about the book. According to the Goodreads annual review, I read 36 books in 2020. Here’s a list of some of my favourites (in no particular order):

What I watched

Over the holidays, I watched a lot of TV shows and movies – actually, I always watch TV shows and movies, it’s a thing I do. Here’s a bit of what I enjoyed watching:

  • Ozark (Season 2)
  • Wonder Woman 1984
  • The Mandalorian (Season 2)
  • The Queen’s Gambit (Season 1)
  • Roald Dahl’s The Witches
  • Writing on the Bathroom Wall

What I listened to

I listen to podcasts while I work. Sometimes I’ll select random podcasts when I’m all caught up on my subscribed episodes. One of my recent favourites was the Jerry Seinfeld episode on The Tim Ferriss Show – I’d recommend subscribing just for that episode. My newest podcasts are Build Your Copywriting Business from Filthy Rich Writer and Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! from NPR.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share it with people you know who you think would enjoy it.


Five ways to land freelance writing work fast

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If you’ve been freelancing or self-employed for any length of time, you’ll come across those times when you need to bring in more work quickly. Losing clients and work during the pandemic is one of those times. You should always be marketing your services to keep those leads and clients coming, but sometimes it just does not work out that way. And sometimes you need to try new approaches to get more work coming in more quickly.

I attended a webinar that had some great tips on getting more freelance work quickly. Maybe one of these tips will work for you.

Develop and market a loss leader

Create a product or service that does not make you money (or very little money) to get clients coming to you. This could be a DIY info product or case study that prospects and clients can download from your website. It could be a service tied to your core service that you price less than what you would charge for your core service. For example, if you are a copywriter, you could do a website audit at a lower rate than you charge for your writing. The goal is to get your content in prospects’ hands or to get people to try you out for something. That gives you the invitation to contact them for your core services.

Launch a new service campaign

Send an email to your current and past clients about your new service offering. Make the email personal and explain how the new service is relevant to them and their needs. You have an audience that knows what you can do, so offer them something else that they might need.

Become an “alchemist”

Show clients how to create new assets that they have not considered, in an efficient and effective manner. Again, use your personal connection to show how your clients can improve upon their business, fill holes in their content, etc. You can help them develop new ideas, and turn the best ones int abstracts, blog posts, white papers, webinars, etc.

Unbundle your existing services

Unlock value from your existing services. Uncover those hidden assets you have to create new opportunities. For example, you could create mini-reports, cheat sheets, tips and tricks, etc. on how to write a great newsletter, improve productivity, and so on. Pull out one aspect of what you do and create focused value.

Tap a client nexus

Find an untapped source of client referrals, which can lead to a lot of business. Go after a target market that is not being serviced (or is under-serviced) that should have a need for your services. For example, you can partner with complementary freelancers, approach trade show managers, contact marketing coaches, etc. Think about those markets where freelancers rarely tread.

What suggestions do you have for finding new business fast? We can all help each other out. I’d love to hear your ideas –

David Gargaro

Want to learn 14 ways to increase your income? So do I!

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Some time ago, I read 10 Minute Money Makers by Jeanna Gabellini. The book describes (among other things) a number of strategies for increasing your income in relatively quick and doable ways (I won’t say easy, as that will vary from person to person). The book is ideal for self-employed professionals (writers, coaches, consultants, etc.) who want to expand their influence through social media. Check out Jeanna Gabellini’s website for more information (I am not an affiliate and have no financial stake in her content or website).

Here are 14 ways to increase your income (some are better than others):

  1. Make a “no kidding” decision. Decide on what you want to achieve as a financial goal. For example, do you want to sell $1000 of new books per week, or increase your service sales by $2000 per month. Then everything you do will be geared toward supporting that decision. The “how” is not as important as the “what”, which will be your focus.
  2. Follow up. (I am a big believer in this strategy!) Check in with past clients – ask how they are doing, what’s new, etc. Do not try to force a sale. Send a thank you to new clients. Send customers a feedback form or survey, and use the results in your testimonials.
  3. Offer past clients a deal. Offer a product or service with clear benefits and great pricing. Make it a simple, limited-time offer. Use the offer to thank them for being a customer.
  4. Make a quick, get-them-in-the-door offer. Create an affordable, discounted or bundled offer of your products or services. After the customer takes advantage of the offer, suggest something else that you do that will help them at the regular price.
  5. Just ask. Ask helpful people to help you with getting clients through referrals or introductions. You can also ask to be interviewed or recommended on social media.
  6. Talk to your virtual client. Have a virtual conversation with your ideal client about buying your highest ticket item or best service. Ask key questions to overcome: What is their biggest objection to buying? What do you need to say yes? When is the best time to call you? What can I do to improve my service? You have the answers.
  7. Take advantage of available resources. Think of an area in your business where you want to produce more money. Then turn to the Internet for new marketing ideas. Find a diversion to relax your mind and come up with what you need. Join a mastermind group to get motivated.
  8. Pump up the value. Update your products or services – add new material and content to make it fresh.
  9. Get famous. Get more media attention. Become a guest blogger. Start a Google Hangout. Get a testimonial.
  10. Step into the elevator. Create a strong elevator speech that is short and strong on benefits. Make sure to test it out whenever you can.
  11. Create a money funnel. A money funnel is a visual plan of how you invite people into your tribe and move them through your offerings. First, name the ways you get leads and visibility (e.g., published articles). Once you attract a potential client’s interest, get them to be part of your tribe by giving them access to free and inexpensive, yet valuable, content. Then introduce them to differently priced offerings that fit their needs.
  12. The price is right. Re-price your service offerings so that they feel right for you – they meet what you are worth and they are right for your audience. Increase your rates to increase your worth and the level of effort you bring.
  13. Prepare for your windfall. Create a plan to be successful before you are successful. Set up the resources and plans needed to fulfill what will happen when you get extra work, more attention, more money, etc.
  14. The Double It Game. Turn an aspect of your business into a game where you have to a reach a specific goal (such as doubling sales) within a given time frame. It should excite you to try to achieve these goals, and there should be a reward when you hit the goal. Make it a daily effort, and make it fun.

Jeanna Gabellini has a lot more to say in 10 Minute Money Makers. I shared what I thought was most relevant here. Make sure to give it a read.

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

David Gargaro

How can you position yourself as an authority to prospects and clients?

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People want to work with professionals who are experts in their field. We don’t want to work with amateur lawyers, doctors, bookkeepers, plumbers, financial planners – we want to work with people who know what they are doing. Working with knowledgeable and experienced people gives us the feeling that things will be done right (although this does not always happen).

If you are sole proprietor (like myself), consultant, self-employed, sole business owner, etc., then you should position yourself as an authority. You’ve been running your business for some time, and you obviously have the skills and experience to do the job. But you have to prove to your clients that you are capable of doing the job because you are an authority in your field.

The first step is to focus on who you are, rather than what you are. You are not just a professional writer or consultant or generic service provider. This will sound odd, but you are the only you there is. There are many writers, but you are the only writer who has your specific experience, skills and authority. Change your perception in the market’s mind. Don’t focus just on your skill level, but who you are and what makes you different.

Who you are will influence your prospects and clients. If you are an authority, then you will become in greater demand, which means you can also charge more. Your client list also affects your value. Working with high-profile clients means that you are worth more by association. They chose you because you are an authority; therefore, others will want to work with you as well.

Do not wait for the market or others to tell you that you are an expert or that you are an authority in this field or that. Your authority depends upon your mindset. Realize that you are skilled and bring value, and that you are an authority in your field. Then present yourself in this manner. This will determine how others view you.

As an authority, you know more about your given topic than anyone else. Make sure that you make this fact known – on your website, in your social media, when you talk to prospects and clients. That does not mean bragging “I am the best.” It means demonstrating your knowledge when required. Focus on where your business is seen, and how prospects perceive your business.

To be viewed as an authority, associate with other authorities. Interview experts in your field, and related areas, and give them exposure – this will allow you to be seen as an expert as well. Are you a marketing writer? Interview marketing experts, and authors with marketing books. Every field has its published experts and authorities. It’s up to you to find them, and ask them to speak about what they do best. Share these best practices with your clients and prospects. Now you’re an authority.

Do you need help with becoming an authority – writing articles, blog posts, etc.? Are you an authority in your field, and want to talk about what you know? Let me know –

David Gargaro

Become a better writer – or speaker – by avoiding these mistakes

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I attended a webinar on how to grow your income through public speaking. The speaker focused on three key mistakes that speakers make that prevent them from being successful. These points were quite valid, and the advice was fantastic… so much so that I thought that they could applied to the writing world as well.

Perhaps you’ve made these mistakes in trying to sell through writing. Once you’ve recognized these common errors, you can improve your writing and accomplish your goal of selling your message to the reader.

Not understanding what the audience is buying

The reader wants to solve a problem, which is why they are reading your story. Your writing should address their problem, and get them interested in how you plan to solve it. In essence, the reader is buying YOU – your expertise and your stories. To convince the reader to use your solution, you must get them to feel a connection to you. They want to buy the solution that you’ve already provided to other clients, who had a problem that is similar to them. So, tell a client story that shows how they succeeded because of what you did.

There are different kinds of stories that you can tell, such as:

  • “So much more” story: It’s more than a testimonial – it shows how you went further (above and beyond) to solve the problem.
  • “Doubtful to dynamite” story: You offered a solution that brought a big change in the client’s situation – from going nowhere to WOW it worked.
  • “Tried it all and nothing worked… until now” story: The client tried everything to solve their problem, and you came along and fixed it with your offering.

Trying to become the perfect writer

You could rewrite and edit your writing forever, because it can always be better. Effective writing is not about being perfect. It’s more important to make a connection with the reader than it is to achieve perfection. Focus on connecting with the reader – speaking their language, understanding their problems and what is important to them. Be real and human – humans are flawed. You will never get your writing out there if you strive for perfection. If you keep waiting to be perfect, you will never sell and you will achieve nothing.

At the same time, don’t write by the seat of your pants. You’ll lose credibility if you don’t take the time to research your reader and know how to solve their problem, and write about how you will help them. Write and sell from the heart. Give the reader an opportunity to transform and be better than they were. Think about how you helped your best client, and transfer that to your reader. Add value by writing a powerful message – think deep and focused rather than wide – and make it easy for the reader to say yes.

Planning to educate without planning to sell

It’s great to educate the reader about their problem and possible solutions, but it’s pointless if you don’t clearly sell your offering. You must first clearly describe the problem before you can offer a solution. Don’t buy into the myth that selling is a separate function from educating. Lead the reader along the path, and then outline how you can take them to their goal. Create a clear call to action – how they will contact you or get what you are offering.

Plan for clarity. Be very clear about where you are headed, the reasons for each step along the way, and how they will get to the end (your solution). Build the sales plan into your plan to educate the reader – know where you are taking the reader before you take your first step.

Have you had any of these problems with your sales writing? What other issues have you encountered, and how have you solved them? Let me know – I’d love to hear about it, and perhaps help you to improve your writing. Send me an email –

David Gargaro

Avoid these common mistakes in reasoning when writing

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Most people have written an essay where they have presented a position or argument, and then backed up that statement with a series of facts and evidence. It happens in business and politics as well. The author will attempt to convince the reader that their “argument” (which represents a product, service, strategy, platform, etc.) is correct, and will back it up with reasons.

Unfortunately, many great arguments or positions have been defeated by a common fallacy, or mistake, in reasoning. Learning to identify, and avoid, these mistakes will help you to get your point across and convince your reader that your statement or position is valid.

There are five main types of fallacies in reasoning, and several subtypes within those categories (thanks to the Harbrace College Handbook for the definitions).

Fallacies of deduction or inference

Non sequitur: The conclusion of your argument does not necessarily follow from the premise. (Our product is easy to use, therefore your revenue will increase.)

Self-contraction: Your argument contains a number of exclusive premises. (This new software will address the most unmanageable human resources issues.)

Circular reasoning: The conclusion of your argument is contained within your premise. (I believe that your website is terrible because our technical advisors state that it is a terrible website.)

Fallacies of induction

Confusion of fact and value judgment: Your argument confuses facts with value judgments (facts can be observed and measured, whereas value judgments are opinions or personal preferences). (Your website has too many words and not enough pictures.)

Hasty generalizations: Your argument makes a statement with too little evidence or biased evidence. (I had a difficult time using your product, so it’s not a good solution for what it offers.)

Cause-effect assumption: Your argument assumes that one event caused the event that followed. (I downloaded your software and my computer crashed the next day, so your software is problematic.)

False analogy: Your argument makes weak comparisons between situations or objects. (Your company is not #1 in its market category, so you cannot be effective at handling my business.)

Fallacies of irrelevance

Ignoring the question: Your argument presents facts that do not support the thesis. (We are the top marketing company in Canada. Our website is always listed on the first page of Google search results.)

Personal attack: You attempt to disprove an argument by attacking a person or company presenting the argument. (Our competitor’s president has declared bankruptcy in the past, so you should not use the company’s services to manage your website.)

Personal appeal: Your argument appeals to the reader’s emotions, prejudices or beliefs. (If you are a loyal Canadian, you will choose our services over our American competitors.)

Joining the crowd: Your argument is based on popular opinion. (Our software has been named the best in its class by Tech Magazine, so you should purchase it as well.)

Appeal to authority: Your argument relies on “expert” testimonials rather than facts. (The president of X Corporation endorses our marketing program.)

Fallacies of imprecision

Ambiguity: Your argument is not clear in its meaning. (This option is not a good fit for your company.)

Equivocation: Your argument uses a word or expression in more than one way. (You have a right to choose your service provider, so do what is right for you.)

Fallacies of misrepresentation

Oversimplification: Your argument omits important considerations on the issue. (Buying an ad in our magazine will increase your sales by 10%.)

False division: You argument makes a sharp distinction between two groups when the facts show gradation between the two. (Every training program is either great or terrible.)

Note that these “errors” are common and accepted in advertising, marketing, politics and other forms of communication. They are not always errors, except when you are trying to present logic and facts.

Have you made these mistakes in reasoning? Do you disagree with any of them, or do you know of any other mistakes? Let me know –

David Gargaro

How to turn ideas into projects

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We all have ideas that we want to turn into something real. It might be a book or website, or a new product, or a fully functioning business. For example, I wrote and self-published How to Run Your Company… Into the Ground. The idea for the book sat in the back of my mind for years until I decided to put my thoughts on the page, and then into book form.

Too often we let those ideas remain inside our head until they fizzle and wither into the depths of our memory. However, there are some steps you can take to get on the path toward turning those ideas into something real (as I learned from Charles Gilkey’s book The Start Finishing Action Guide).

  1. Start with the end in mind, why it matters and who will care about (or benefit from) the realization of your idea. Determine why the project matters, and identify its main purpose.
  2. Avoid getting stuck on just the idea. List everything that has to be done to turn the idea into a project. Turn each item into a process.
  3. Sequence your projects to create a roadmap. Identify when to start and finish each part of the project. Use mind mapping to organize your ideas.
  4. Celebrate after completing a project. Debrief by determining what went well and what did not work.

I think the second step is vital. Writing down what needs to be done will help you get closer to turning your idea into a real project, and giving it life. Putting ideas on paper, and getting them out of your head, will make those ideas more concrete. It will also help to understand the steps needed to get to your goal.

How do you go about turning your ideas into real projects? Let me know –

David Gargaro