Before you start writing

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Someone asked me what they should do before they begin writing. There are many things that one should do to prepare, but I thought that it would be simpler to provide two key points to ponder:

  1. Purpose: Define the purpose of what you are writing. What do you want the reader to know? What do you want the reader to do? What is your main point?
  2. Audience: Know the audience you are writing for. Who do you want to reach? Think about their language skills. How difficult should the language be? Think about their expertise and interests. What do they know? What are they interested in? Then use words and a structure that makes sense to them.

Then, once you get these two issues sorted out, take a look at how you want to structure your message.

  • Arrange your points so that the most important point comes first.
  • Group information so that it is related and makes sense together.
  • Place information in chunks so that each section or paragraph contains one main idea.
  • Break the information up with informative headings, and insert subheadings where they apply.

Follow these two simple tips, and your writing will flow more smoothly.

Do you need help with your writing – or do you need a professional writer? Let me know – contact @

David Gargaro

Who’s the reader?

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Many people consider their goal or purpose when writing letters, articles, newsletters and emails. They should also think about the reader. Marketers and advertisers do this very well, as they carefully choose their words and images to ensure that they appeal to specific audiences. They focus on the benefits to the user as opposed to the features they want to promote.

Thinking about the reader when writing will give you a different perspective. By putting yourself in the reader’s position, you will be able to think more about what’s in it for them than what’s in it for you. You will also become more capable of speaking in the reader’s language and appealing to their interest.

To put yourself in the mindset of thinking about the reader first, ask yourself the following questions.

  1. What is the reader’s level of education or vocabulary? Would they understand business terminology or longer words, or are you better off with simpler language?
  2. What is the reader’s age? Would they understand historical references? Would they respond to a formal or informal tone?
  3. What is your relationship with the reader? Are they employees or bosses, clients or suppliers?
  4. What is your reader’s occupation? What level of understanding do they have of the topic?
  5. How often have you interacted or communicated with the reader? How much background information do they need to understand what you are saying?
  6. Why is the reader interested in this information? Is there a personal or professional reason for them to want this information?
  7. What is the reader’s economic or financial situation? Will this impact what they do with the information and how they respond to it?
  8. What length of document does the reader read regularly? Should you keep it short or do they regularly read detailed documents?
  9. What does the reader need to know to take action? What information do they need to proceed?
  10. What do you want the reader to do with the information? How do you want them to react?

Answer these questions to get a better handle on your reader, and make your writing much more effective. You will be more successful at getting your point across and getting a reaction from the reader, which should be your main goals for writing.

Do you need help with writing for your reader? Let me know – contact @

David Gargaro

Begin at the end: The call to action

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Have you ever watched a show or read a book that had an unsatisfactory ending? Even though you enjoyed everything else, the ending left you wanting or unfulfilled. That’s one reason why every email, letter, article, blog post or press release you write should conclude with a purpose.

Good writing often begins with knowing the purpose of what you are writing before you begin writing. Once you know your goal, you can work more effectively toward getting there. A call to action is an effective way to conclude your writing. The call to action asks the reader to do something once they conclude reading what you wrote.

For example, when you send a letter or email to a client, end it with a call to action, such as requesting that they contact you by phone, respond via email, or visit your website. Your goal is to get them to do something based on what you said in the body of the letter or email. You wrote a story that led them in the direction you wanted them to go, and now you have to wrap it up by telling them exactly what to do.

All press releases should conclude with a call action. It may involve calling your company to purchase a special offer, or visiting your website to register for a free gift, or it may involve contacting your media department for more information.

A call to action can be subtle. The email signature can serve as your call to action, reminding the reader that you are the leading manufacturer of custom office furniture or that you provide free quotes on all consulting projects. Your signature can direct readers to your phone number and website without actually telling them to go there.

Even an article or blog post can contain a call to action. An article on using email more efficiently can conclude by directing you to implement the tips that morning, or by pointing you to several useful resources on the topic. A blog post can conclude with a request to sign up for a weekly newsletter on productivity tips and tricks.

The call to action is an effective way to drive the reader toward the goal you want them to achieve – for both your benefit and theirs. You will get the reader to go where you want, and the reader will take a more direct path to the destination they began when reading your words.

So, when you write your next email or marketing piece, think about what you want the reader to do, and then directly or indirectly tell them to do it. Include a call to action. For example, send me an email at contact @ davidgargaro.comĀ and let me know what you thought of this post. Let’s make a connection. See how that works?

David Gargaro

Becoming the personal choice

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I work on different writing and editing projects, and I pick up information that I can apply to my professional and personal life. I recently learned about building your business by becoming your client’s personal choice. If they think of you as the person who solves their problems, whether or not those problems are directly related to what product or service you provide, they will think of you first when they need something. The added benefit is that they will think of you first when someone else with that same need asks them to recommend a product or service provider.

Of course, becoming that client’s personal choice is not simple. It involves being truly involved in helping that client succeed, and selflessly (and repeatedly) providing solutions to their issues. It is time-consuming, and you should choose the right clients to be their personal choice in the long run. Offer help without trying to sell your product or service. Be genuine in helping the client, and they will remember you down the road.

This advice relates to something else I read about building your social credo. Become the resource in your particular field for others, and they will be drawn to you as an expert in your field. Social networking is a great way to build your social credo. By working on your online presence through blogging, tweeting, networking, etc., you will add to your social credo. You can build your value by enriching others with your knowledge and experience.

Giving to others and helping others to succeed will contribute to your own success. I always try to recommend people I know if I cannot help a potential client myself, or if someone asks me for help. I am a resource to clients and colleagues, and they are a resource to me.

Do you need a professional writer or editor for your business? Let me know – contact @

Using headlines to grab the reader’s attention

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Headlines are powerful tools, as they can pull people into reading your email, article, book, website, newsletter, etc. If you can get the reader to move past the headline, you’ve achieved one of your key goals – getting your message out to your audience. Many people ignore this important point, particularly in emails, which is why many emails get ignored.

Consider the following ideas for adding more power to your headline:

  1. Speak to your audience.
    Attention, all aspiring freelance writers!
  2. Promise a benefit (not a feature).
    Bring in one new client per week by doing this!
  3. Ask an intriguing question.
    What is the #1 way to land corporate clients?
  4. Create a “how to” headline.
    How to turn an article into an e-book.
  5. Make it easy.
    Learn to write powerful emails in 5 easy steps.
  6. Give reasons.
    Four reasons why you should hire an editor.
  7. Quiz your readers.
    Are you ready to publish your website?
  8. Use I or me in your headline.
    How I discovered to make a real living from home.
  9. Use a quote or testimonial.
    “Your service helped me to increase my business by 25%!”
  10. Focus on the positive.
    Increase your efficiency and spend more time on yourself!

Write your headline last, as you will have a better idea of what to write once you’ve completed your message. And if your headline does not stand out or seems too generic, rewrite it.

Do you need help with writing headlines, emails, articles, newsletters or more? Let me know – contact @

David Gargaro

The nine principles of business success for freelance writers

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I was organizing some notes from past seminars and came across a presentation called “Principles of Business Success” by Rosanne Carcasole. These nine principles can apply to freelance writers as well.

  1. Find your higher purpose: Determine your passion, how you will impact your clients.
  2. Wear your visionary hat: Look into your business future, determine your level of success.
  3. Wear your systems hat: Create systems to make work more efficient, delegate, use your talent to get business.
  4. Show up as a leader: Be proactive, be authentic.
  5. Create a marketing plan: Know your ideal clients, know their problems, know what you do, determine your opportunities, identify your uniqueness, plan to address the market.
  6. Maintain your #1 asset – you: Find time to do what you enjoy, rejuvenate so that you can maintain your business.
  7. Feed your good dog: Focus on the positive, find upsides, avoid negatives.
  8. Rocks first (based on the story of rocks, pebbles, and sand in a vase): Do the most important things first (rocks), then do what matters next (pebbles), and then do everything else (sand).
  9. Change takes structure and support: This is the last step after examining the other eight elements.

Understanding and applying these principles can be very helpful in moving your business forward. However, what I gathered, and what I recall from the presentation, is that you will achieve more by focusing on one small goal or task at a time, and completing that goal or task, so that you can see immediate, positive results. A number of small steps will take you farther than you can imagine.

What are your principles for business success? Let me know – contact @


Time for a change?

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I’ve read several articles about making changes in one’s business and life, and it led me to an interesting thought. When do you determine that it is time to change something in your business? When do you decide that you need to do something differently? Some may argue that you should change something every day, at least a little bit, so that you can constantly improve. I can see what they are saying. Making small changes every day can lead to great improvements in your business.

But what about making a significant change? When is it time to overhaul your website, change your business plan, pursue completely different customers, or move to a new location? There is no simple answer. Perhaps the time to change is when you feel that what you are doing right now is not helping you to achieve your current goals. The time to change might be when you determine that what you are doing no longer works for you.

Maybe the time to change is when you begin to feel dissatisfied with your current situation. There is an expression: Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. If you feel that you need to do something differently, then do something. Minor changes are better than none – especially when you feel overwhelmed by how large the change feels. By taking one small step, you can then take another small step… until finally you’ve travelled quite far.

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