Category: writing

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

The formula for writing great content

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

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

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

The formula for writing great content

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

The formula is GREAT CONTENT = QUALITY + UNIQUENESS + AUTHORITY.

Quality

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

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

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

Uniqueness

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

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

Authority

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

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

More from The Editor’s Desk

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

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

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

David

Three keys to regularly writing better blog posts and articles

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Welcome to the final Monday in April. My daughter has a dentist appointment and an orthodontist appointment coming up this week. I expect a lot of pre-teen rage and tears over the next few days. Maybe I should schedule something fun in the middle of those appointments – the tasty filling between two terrible buns. Who would make such a sandwich?

Random quote: You don’t get anywhere by not “wasting” time.

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

Three keys to regularly writing better blog posts and articles

I recall reading on Copyblogger that there is a gap between the ability to write well and what we want to write. In other words, it sounds great in our head but that great writing doesn’t make it to the page. One issue is that there is too much focus on creative perfectionism. We expect our writing to be perfect and end up writing nothing.

We should be OK with writing what we are able to write today and accept its flaws. Respect the amount of effort and care that goes into the writing. Be kind to yourself on how you wrote at a particular time, as writing is a learning process. You start somewhere and get better as you write more. Appreciate the writer that you were and the one that you have become.

To writer strong blogs and articles on a more consistent basis, focus on these three keys:

  1. Care about what you write, writing it well, and writing something useful for the reader. Your writing will improve when you care about the effort you put into it and the results you get. Put some passion and effort into your writing. Hone your skill. Care about the reader and what they will get out of your writing. Give them value.
  2. Give yourself time to write a great blog or article. Good writing takes time. You might be able to write quickly when there is a deadline, but you need to put in time to make the writing its best. Spend time on research. Do a careful edit. Time makes us better writers as talent requires aging and development. Don’t rush the process. Let the writing sit for a while.
  3. Develop and follow clear editorial standards for your writing. Create and follow your own rules, whatever they may be. Set guidelines for spelling, grammar, formatting, fact checking, writing style, structure, etc. Make decisions based on those guidelines to determine what is OK and what is not.

Note: For more blog and article writing strategies, please read the following published blog posts:

More from The Editor’s Desk

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

  1. Too many writers try to sound intelligent by using “big-sounding” words. Using these types of words just interferes with the readability of your content – and annoys readers. Check out Keep it simple: How to use plain English to improve your writing from Craft Your Content for tips and strategies on making your writing stronger.
  2. Journalists are not the only types of writers who are always on the hunt for good sources to provide quotes and context. B2B writers also need good sources to interview for their articles, which can be difficult to do at times. Check out Help a B2B Writer to submit your requests when you need to find the right person for your next article.
  3. Sometimes, it can be difficult to keep personal pronouns consistent and fair when they involve a person’s gender. Check out Gender-neutral pronouns in creative writing from CMOS Shop Talk tips and strategies on staying on top of those pronouns when writing about non-binary people.
  4. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “You are what you eat.” That can apply to what you read and consume to feed your brain. Check out How to improve your content diet in 2021 from The Profile to learn about how to be more selective in what you read.
  5. Have you been “planning” to write and publish an e-book for some time now? Maybe it’s time to just get it done. Check out Publish an e-book: 6 strong-arm secrets to get it done from Make a Living Writing for strategies on moving forward on writing and publishing your e-book. And if you need an editor, you know who to contact.
  6. Do you want your writing to be tighter and more concise? Drop the passive voice. Check out Your grade school teachers were right: Avoid using the passive voice from The Write Life to learn more about the passive voice and how to avoid using it.
  7. Whether you are a new freelancer or have years of experienced, you will benefit from learning best practices on freelancing. Check out 52 tips for freelancers from Home Working Club for advice on finances, sales and marketing, enjoying the freelance lifestyle, and more. If you find one useful tip that improves your business, it’s worth the read.
  8. I’ve written about how to be a faster writer before (for example, here and here). Check out How to write faster (for bloggers and writers) from All Freelance Writing for why you should write faster and tips on how to do it.
  9. You already know you shouldn’t multi-task. That includes editing and proofreading at the same time. Check out The best proofreading and editing tips from Content Marketing Institute on why you shouldn’t do both at the same time, and how you can do each well.
  10. You’re probably sitting a lot more than usual these days – it’s part of being a writer or editor. Maybe you should get some exercise. So should I. Check out The benefits of stretching from Ness Labs on why you should find ways to move more often and some tips on how to do it.

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

Choosing a writing niche

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

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

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

Choosing a writing niche

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

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

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

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

1. Knowledge

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

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

2. Interest

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

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

3. Profitability

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

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

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

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

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

More from The Editor’s Desk

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

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

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

David

Finding the right tone

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Welcome to the first Monday in April. The good news is that April 1st was last week, so there is no April fool’s joke. The bad news is that we could all use a good laugh right now and I have no jokes to share with you.

Random quote: When a vessel is empty, you can fill it up and empty it again. Is a vessel ever truly empty?

I hope you enjoy this week’s edition of The Editor’s Desk. It’s a bit late because of Easter and procrastination. I’ll try as hard as I did this week to make sure it’s not late again.

Finding the right (write) tone

Writing in the right tone for a new client – or even a current client – can be challenging and frustrating at times. Writers have ideas and styles that don’t always mesh with the client’s ideas and goals. However, there are some relatively simple strategies to help you get the right tone when writing a first draft:

  • Ask the client. They often know their audience better than you will, and the tone required to reach them. This will save the writer a lot of time.
  • Refer to the brand guidelines or style guide. If the client has a style guide, a lot of work and research went into it. Stick to the defined tone.
  • Ask for an example of desired tone. Sometimes, the client won’t know exactly how to describe the tone, but they probably know it when they see it in other work. Check examples and match the tone to them.
  • Ask for an example of what they don’t want. Clients will know what does not work, so the process of elimination will get you closer to what they do want.

What style elements go into defining tone?

  • Point of view = first person (I, we) vs. second person (you) vs. third person (he, she, they)
  • Sentence length
  • Paragraph length
  • Word choice
  • Marketing jargon
  • Em / en dashes
  • Sentence structure

Quick tip: If a client does not like a piece you’ve written, it often comes down to tone. Rewrite a paragraph (rather than the whole piece) in a different tone to get their reaction.

More from The Editor’s Desk

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


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

Appealing to readers’ beliefs, feelings, and desires

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Welcome to the final Monday in March – that was a long month. It’s been a long 12 months for everyone. We should have asked for a refund.

Random quote: We suffer more in our imagination than in reality.

I hope you enjoy this week’s edition of The Editor’s Desk. If you want a refund, good luck on that because I don’t know how to refund free. That might cause a black hole or something.

Appealing to readers’ beliefs, feelings, and desires

When writing a blog post, article, case study or content with a purpose, one of your main goals should be to get the reader to feel something or reach in some way. There are many ways to do this, of course. One strategy for reaching readers on an intellectual, emotional, and personal feel is to understand their beliefs, feelings, and desires.

  • Beliefs: What does your reader believe? What is their attitude toward what you are writing about?
  • Feelings: How does your reader feel (e.g., nervous or confident)? What does the reader feel about major issues?
  • Desires: What does your reader want? What is the reader’s goal?

If you’ve been writing to your readers for some time, or have developed buyers’ personas as part of your marketing strategy, then you should understand your audience’s beliefs, feelings, and desires to some degree.

More from The Editor’s Desk

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


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.

No one read this far last week or didn’t ask for a free copy of my book. I doubt you will either. But that’s OK. You read something.

David

Writing the call to action

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Welcome to the fourth Monday in March – there’s another Monday after this one! That seems like too many Mondays for one month. Something must be done about that – add another Saturday next month.

Random quote: The best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them.

This week’s edition of The Editor’s Desk is sponsored by no one. None of the previous issues have been sponsored either, so I’m keeping the streak alive.

Writing the call to action

Every piece of marketing content – such as newsletters and emails – needs a call to action. It tells the reader what you want them to do when they’re done reading your content. If you’ve done the job of writing persuasive marketing copy, and the reader has made it to the call to action, then they should know what to do… and they should want to press the subscribe button or reply to your question or do whatever it is what you want them to do.

So what makes an effective call to action?

  • It is an ACTION – Subscribe / Donate / Download / Email / Call
  • It has URGENCY – Use commanding words to imply the risk of waiting
  • It has VALUE – Download this free guide / Discover the power of XX / Book a demo / Start your free trial
  • It uses ACTIONABLE language – Get started / Reserve your seat today / Get it now
  • It reduces RISK – Download and get started today / Start your free trial
  • It makes it EASY to take action – One click to get started
  • It is EMPOWERING – Click here to get your free trial
  • It can be SEEN – Use white space and colour to make it stand out

Use these strategies when putting a call to action in your next email or letter of introduction. Let me know how it works for you.

More from The Editor’s Desk

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


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.

If you’ve read this far and you’re the first person to SEND ME AN EMAIL with the words I READ IT, I’ll mail you a free copy of my book, How to Run Your Company… Into the Ground.

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

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

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

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

Structuring your writing portfolio

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

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

How to find your voice

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

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

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

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

Organizing your writing life

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

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

Here is some great advice:

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

Personalizing your B2B content

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

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

Dealing with intrusive thoughts

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

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

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

Quote on consistency

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

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

What I wrote

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

What I read

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

What I watched

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

What I listened to

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


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