Category: writing

Jump over these five hurdles to write your book

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I recently read an article on identifying the five key hurdles that people face when trying to write a book. I wish I had read this article before I wrote How to Run Your Company… Into the Ground, as I might have done it sooner. Any one of these obstacles can stop someone from writing a book, so it can be difficult to overcome all five of them. If you manage to overcome these hurdles, you will be well on your way to getting your thoughts on a page and writing the best book possible.

So, what are the five hurdles that you must jump over to write your first book?

I don’t have the ability to write (“I’m not good enough” myth)

Everyone can write to some degree; we write almost every day. It’s like any skill – practice makes you better. Spend time to improve your writing skills, and work on improving those skills regularly. Work with an editor to make your writing the best it can be.

I don’t know how to write a book (“I need to know more” myth)

People get intimidated by the length of a book. Think of it as a long writing assignment, or a series of essays. Start with a step (a sentence), then write a paragraph, and keep going. Use your writing to share what you know, and you will get there. Again, you can work with an editor or a ghost writer to help you get the words on the page.

Everything is in my head already (“The wisdom will pour out” myth)

Good writing is well constructed – you can’t just spit out what you know onto a page and expect it to become a book. Start with planning and create an outline – bullet points / headings are a great way to start the plan for your book. Don’t try to do it all alone – get a writing partner / join a writing group / work with a coach or mentor to develop the plan.

I am too busy to write a book (“Wait for the perfect moment” myth)

If you wait for the right time to do something, you will alway be waiting. Make a strategic plan to fit writing into your day. There is always time to write – look at what you can cut out of your day (like TV) or write during your free time. Break your writing into small, manageable chunks, like 500 words a day or 20 minutes at a time. Set a timer and do a content dump, and then look at it later.

I am afraid of being criticized or ignored (“You have nothing valuable to say” myth)

Someone will find value in what you write in your book. You have unique skills, experiences and perspectives. There is an audience that can benefit from that knowledge. You must risk exposure to share your experience. Remember – you will never please everyone. Write to a specific audience. Write for yourself.

Conclusion

Overcoming these hurdles will get you on the way to writing your book. You can overcome these hurdles, because you put them there – remove your hurdles. You have a book in you. Leap your hurdles, and you are well on your way to sharing that book with the world.

Do you need help with writing a book, or editing a book that’s almost ready to go? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

Following the map to success as a freelance writer

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Some time ago, I attended a webinar on creating a road map to increasing success as a freelance writer. The speaker provided a lot of great tips on what you need to do to improve your freelance writing business. I’ve summarized some of the tips here. Put these ideas together to give yourself a better chance at being successful as a freelance writer (other creatives can apply these strategies to their business).

  1. Wake up! Understand that a business takes effort. As a self-employed professional, you must realize that you are running a business, so treat it that way. Some people fool themselves that freelancing is easier than it is because there are low barriers to entry and a lot of potential markets. It’s not easy – finding work takes a lot of work.
  2. You need several key ingredients to be successful in your business. They include focus and commitment to putting all your effort into your business, belief in yourself, and determination to study your craft, prospect constantly and push through all obstacles.
  3. Prospecting is a full-time job. You must do it every day. Spend time on finding new clients, even to the point that you should not waste time on other parts of your business (to a degree).
  4. Use small wins to motivate yourself. Focus on the quick wins – writing a blog post, contacting a new client, responding to a client request – to motivate yourself in moving forward in your business.
  5. Smart positioning is key. Know what you do, who you serve, how you are different, and what that difference matters to prospects and clients.
  6. Tap your network. Reach clients through people you already know, and the people that they know. Go through your LinkedIn contacts, and see who they know that you can connect with.
  7. Take massive action. Double the action you think it will take to get business every day. If you think that you need to contact one new client per week, and it takes 10 emails / calls to get one new client, then reach out to 20 prospects per week.
  8. Develop a support system. Get support from other successful writers for ideas and advice. Join a peer group of professionals that are facing the same challenges. Get an accountability partner to help keep you on track. Hire / find a coach / mentor to show you the fast track to success.

What suggestions do you have for creating a road map to success? Do you need help with becoming more successful as a freelancer? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

Essential copywriting tips for freelance writers

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Volumes of books, articles, websites, etc. have been written on the art and science of copywriting. There are many experienced copywriting experts who teach expensive, worthwhile courses on the subject. I don’t pretend to be one of them. However, I’ve learned a few key copywriting strategies along the way.

These seven tips can help almost anyone improve their copywriting effectiveness. You can apply these tips to your email and article writing as well.

  1. Understand the value of headlines. Your headline must grab the reader’s attention. A well-written headline makes your content more appealing and special.
  2. Do not (always) try to be clever. Your content should focus on clarity over cleverness – i.e., being bigger than you are, joking around, using writing tricks. Be clear first.
  3. Develop a compelling big idea. Describe your key benefit compressed into a statement. Convey something that matters in a short sentence. It’s more than a tagline – it states your central idea.
  4. Research to find big ideas. Writers often overlook the importance of research. Dig to find great ideas and trends, and repeat. This includes interesting facts, snippets, phrasing, stories, case studies, customer problems and solutions, etc. Research is about getting to know your target market, and what is important to them.
  5. Pull your audience to you – the people who are hungry for your topic. Figure out what that audience is hungry for, or missing, and then give it to them.
  6. Set a goal. You need a call to action, which will take your reader to what you want them to do. The call to action should be a direct statement of what you want them to do next – call, click, email, etc. Your call to action should be in every piece of content you provide.
  7. Don’t be boring! Boring content does not work, especially today. Make your content interesting and compelling to read. Inject your personality into your writing. Use design, images, layout, etc. to make your content stand out. Tell good stories.

What tips do you have to offer in making copywriting better? Do you need help with your copywriting? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

The building blocks of writing great content for articles, blog posts and websites

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Have you ever played with Lego sets? I’m sure you have. They’re cute, pre-designed sets with just the right number of blocks to create a little scene. Each set comes with a set of diagrammed instructions on how to go from a pile of blocks to a completed scene.

It inspired me to come up with something similar to help you, the reader, write the ideal blog post, article, web landing page, or content to attract your target audience. You can use building blocks to help you to create great content.

Six building blocks of great content

  1. Create a compelling headline. I suggest finding a headline that caught your eye, and modify it for your topic and audience.
  2. Write a strong first sentence. Grab the reader at the deciding stage – make it intriguing, thought-provoking, inspiring, controversial, funny, or whatever works for the situation.
  3. Craft several strong subheads. They serve as sign posts for your content, and keep your audience reading. They also provide structure to keep you on track.
  4. Draft your main copy (write quickly but don’t edit – just write, then come back to it later to tighten it up). Use the main head and subheads to guide your content.
  5. Summarize your main points. Lay out and reinforce the premise.
  6. Conclude with a call to action. Ask for feedback, invite the reader to subscribe, share your message on social media, etc. Always ask for something from the reader to build the relationship and increase engagement.

Those are the basic building blocks of writing great content. Start with an idea, and build your blog, article or web page. You’ll get the hang of it and become a better writer.

Do you have suggestions on writing great content? Do you need help with writing your content? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

Using storytelling to encourage decision-making among clients and prospects

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Whatever business you are in, storytelling will help you to move potential clients to make faster, more favourable decisions. You can also use social media to help you create that story.

Social media enables you to make “warm” calls and emails to potential clients. All it takes is some research effort on your part. You can use a host of tools (such as LinkedIn and Twitter) to find out more about your potential clients – what they do, what they like, where they spend time, what their problems / wants / needs are. All this information is at your fingertips. Write down a few key points, which will now form the foundation for your story.

Once you have this information about your potential client, you must determine how you can provide them with value. You are selling something (such as widgets, or writing and editing support). Now you need to determine what value you can deliver to that prospect to get them to move toward a decision.

Since you’ve already done your research on the prospect through social media, you can reach out to them in the same way. For example, if that person made a comment on LinkedIn, respond to their comment with feedback of your own. Once you have their attention, and a foundation, you can reach out via email. Begin your story based on that touchpoint. Engage them in a conversation that leads to a discussion of what you do and how that adds value.

The key is to relate what you do in a concise way so that it touches the prospect’s business or life. Do not just state what you sell or do. Tell a story about how you helped another client using your product or service. The case study is the heart of your story. And it’s real, so the person should be able to relate to it, because they might have dealt with the same situation.

The story does not just sell you or your product/service. It shows how you solved a problem, filled a need or created value for someone. The story is real, which makes you more relatable to the prospect. They know more about you, and think of you as a person who understands their business, and what matters to them.

Telling a story helps you to turn prospects into clients. Once you’ve researched your client and found out what is important to them, you can map out the information that they need to make a decision. This will help you to write your story. By providing the person with valuable information that ties directly to what is important to them, they will come to value what you have to say, and look forward to future communications.

Do you need help telling your story? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

How to use a framework to focus your writing of blogs, articles, and newsletters

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Getting started in your writing can be very challenging, no matter what you try to write. The first few words and sentences can often be the hardest. And once you get started, it can be difficult to communicate what you want to say in an order that makes sense.

One way to make the process flow more smoothly is to use a framework. The framework supports your content by giving you something to build upon – much like a house’s frame enables builders to construct a house. Instead of trying to build from the ground up, you put up “scaffolding” to hold up the rest of your content.

For example, suppose that you want to write a newsletter. Start with your title or headline. This will be the first plank in your framework. Then add your headings and subheads – these will be your main topics and supporting topics. Write three to five bullet points under each heading and subhead. These will come from the main topics of discussion for that section.

You’ve now developed the framework for your writing. You’ve broken your content into chunks. Take each chunk, and focus on writing just that one bit. Use your headings, subheads and bullet points as your supports to build upon. Each point is its own room in the house you are building. Take one bullet point, and write what you know or want to say about it. Everything should focus on that one point. When you’re done, move to the next one. Eventually, you will have filled all the rooms and written a full first draft.

After that, it’s a matter of sanding the edges, adding some finer touches, and making it look pretty. And then you’re done!

Perhaps it won’t be that easy, but the framework will help you to organize your thoughts, break your writing into digestible chunks, and make the writing process go more smoothly. You can even create a template where you fill in the blanks with your headings, subheads and bullet points, and then build from there.

Do you have any tips on helping to make the writing process more efficient? Would you like help with writing your content? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

Two shortcuts to writing better headlines for articles and blog posts

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Whether you want to write an article, a newsletter, a blog post or even an email, your goal is to ensure that it gets read by as many people as possible. Creating an effective headline is the best way to achieve this goal. A well-written headline will increase the likelihood of your content being read. You could have amazing content, but if the headline does not attract the reader, what’s the point?

I’ve written several posts on writing more effective headlines:

Even with all that great content, here are two shortcuts that can help you to be more efficient at writing headlines.

Follow a formula or template to write a headline

This enables you to stick to an effective structure and will make it more efficient when putting together headings. Here is one formula for writing list-type articles: X ways / things / ideas to [achieve a desired result / rid yourself of undesired result] in [given time period].

For example:

  • 10 ways to write emails that sell within 10 days
  • 10 ways to double your sales in one month

Write 10-15 different headlines for the same topic

Repetition will help you to find new and interesting ways to say the same thing, and will uncover the key points that will attract your reader. It will enable you to discard the bad ideas when better ideas come along. Practice makes perfect, and coming up with multiple headlines for each article will make you a better writer.

Conclusion

These shortcuts will help you to write more effective headlines in less time. Once you get the hang of writing headlines, you will become an expert at it, and will definitely an increase in reader response.

Do you have any suggestions on writing better headlines? Do you want help with writing more effective headlines? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

What’s your writing style?

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We all have a personal style, and that applies to our writing as well. Good writing takes practice, and finding the style that works for you also takes work. You probably write more than you know – through your work and personal emails. These writing opportunities are ideal for developing and perfecting your writing style. Finding a style that works for you will help to make you a better writer and communicator.

Factors for finding your writing style

We also need to adapt our writing style for different occasions. To find the correct writing style for the document at hand, consider these four key factors:

  • Purpose – why you are writing
  • Topic – what you are writing about
  • Audience – who you are writing to / for
  • Tone – the feeling you want to convey

Your style can change when writing about the same topic because you could have a different purpose (informing versus selling) or different audiences (management versus customers). For example, you might use a more formal style when writing about serious topics or for a senior audience. You could switch to a more personal style when you want the tone to be more familiar.

Varying sentence style

You can change your style at the sentence level to keep your readers interested and engaged. There are different ways to vary sentence style throughout a document:

  • Vary sentence length (short to long, long to short)
  • Start sentences with different types of words (adverbs, phrases, link words [and, but, although])
  • Vary the order of parts of sentences
  • Switch between active and passive voice (do this sparingly)

Read good advertising, marketing and sales books, blogs, writers, etc., as they are masters of writing to a particular style. Observe different writing styles, and see what has worked on you when you’ve been the reader. Then find what works for you, your purpose, your audience, etc.

What writing style have you enjoyed reading? Do you need help with your writing style? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

How to paraphrase what you’ve read in your writing

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Paraphrasing involves rewriting passages using different words to make the meaning clearer to your reader. It can involve providing more details to clarify the original meaning of the content, but it does not involve adding new or different thoughts. The paraphrased content should still contain the original thoughts and ideas. Paraphrasing should make any “hidden” or “suppressed” meanings more explicit. The end result should contain the same general meaning, organization, proportion and tone.

Paraphrasing is often used with poetic text or older works of literature where the language can be obscure. However, it is an effective technique for explaining technical documents that are difficult for a general reader to understand. Paraphrasing is not summarizing, as it involves restating and explaining the content in fuller detail where necessary.

Follow these guidelines for paraphrasing content:

  • Read the original passage to identify the central theme or idea.
  • Differentiate between the main thoughts and ideas and the subordinate / supporting thoughts and ideas, and make note of how they are organized.
  • Pay close attention to what is emphasized in the original document, and reflect the areas of emphasis in the paraphrased content.
  • Check a dictionary or thesaurus to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words.
  • Use the same person (i.e., first person or third person) and tense (i.e., past or present) as the original document, and maintain the same tone where possible.
  • Rewrite phrases that are difficult to understand. Keep any words that are clear and precise.
  • Add illustrative examples where necessary to explain the content more fully.
  • Write as clearly and efficiently as possible, so that the ideas flow from one to the next.

Paraphrasing can be an effective tool for explaining content that is difficult to understand or unclear in its original form. You can also use paraphrasing in verbal communications to help with making statements clearer for both parties (but that’s for another day).

Do you need help with paraphrasing, or making your written communications clearer for your audience? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

How to use emotional triggers in emails, blog posts, and articles

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When writing emails, blog posts or articles, you typically want the reader to do something once they are done reading. This involves including a call to action at some point. So, how do you increase the likelihood of the reader following through on that call to action?

One way is to include an emotional trigger – a statement that speaks to the reader and gets them to react in a certain way. You have to know something about your audience to ensure that you select the right trigger. That comes from knowing your business, your client’s business, and what motivates them to act in your favour.

Try one of these four types of emotional triggers to get a response from your reader.

Gain

State what the reader will gain from following through on the call to action. Explain the benefits of purchasing your product or service. Make a promise or guarantee that the reader will improve their situation. The promise can be direct or implied.

Logic

Give a practical reason, backed by emotional reasons, for following through on the call to action. Provide a clear reason or benefit, backed by statistics, facts, opinion, results, case studies, etc.

Fear

Offer peace of mind to the reader that you can protect them against the occurrence of some type of event. This involves instilling fear (of failure, of lost income, of lost sales, etc.) that will promote the reader toward a course of action.

Scarcity

Tell the reader that the offer is for a limited time, or until the product is no longer available due to limited quantities. The reader must respond to the call to action or lose out on what is being offered.

 

Do you need help with writing your next email, blog post or article? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro