The Writer’s Website Often Goes Without Updates

The Writer’s Website Often Goes Without Updates

As a writer for hire, my personal website sometimes suffers … I seem to remember an expression about a shoemaker’s kids going without shoes. Let me Google that … Yes, here it is:

shoemakers-children-go-barefoot

I’m considering making a graphic with the quote:

A writer’s website often goes without regular updates.”

Yes? No? … Maybe you’d have to see it …

But, either way, in the interest of keeping my website up-to-date – while also moving client projects forward – I’d like to share a few articles I’ve written recently:

1. How to Make a Purple Cow: 12 Tips for an Unforgettable Business Website

Unforgettable-1-300x240I love the whole concept of the “Purple Cow” – coined by Seth Godin. Basically, cows are boring (according to Godin) and unremarkable. But, if you found a purple cow, that’s something you’d never stop talking about.

With that in mind, here are 12 ways to make your website unforgettable … even if you don’t have an interesting product, a dramatic story, an exciting image, or The Most Interesting Man in the World

Read the whole article here.

2. 8 Ways to Work Less and Earn More

work-less-and-earn-more-300x190This article, which I wrote for Bidsketch, got a lot of mentions around the Web.

Here’s the backstory: At the beginning of 2013, I wanted to double my hourly rate – for the primary purpose of having more leisure time.

Throughout the year I tested different techniques and strategies so I could work less and earn more. At the end of the year, I more than doubled my hourly rate and I worked less than part time (or 20 hours per week).

If you too want to work fewer hours – or increase your hourly rate – read this article for 8 ways to maximize your working hours.

3. Content that Converts: How to Turn Viewers into Buyers

content-that-converts-1This article was a lot of fun to write – and judging by the response, people found it useful.

If you spend any time at all writing and sharing content to market your business, this article will help you decide if you’re missing critical elements when it comes to your content marketing strategy. And – if so – how to combine entertaining content with content that converts (i.e. makes you more money).

Read the whole article here.

Also, be sure to check out the “Snellen Test” for copy (explained in the comments by fellow writer, Steve Maurer).

I guess that’s all for today …

As always, if you have any questions, please post them in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you!

6 Freelancing Truths I Didn’t Believe (But Now I Do)

6 Freelancing Truths I Didn’t Believe (But Now I Do)

freelancing mythsWhen I first discovered freelance writing, I had my moments of, “This is too good to be true!”

I didn’t doubt you could work from home, on your own terms, and make six-figures a year.

But, I did doubt it was as amazing as everyone made it seem.

I worried about finding clients, dealing with feast-or-famine, marketing myself … my list went on and on.

Then, I started improving my mindset by thinking positively, reading motivational books, following a proven path, and focusing on one thing at a time.

When I did that, the pieces sort of fell into place.

I remember, more than a year ago, Rebecca Matter told me the writer’s life was going to be even better than I imagined. She was right.

Here are 6 freelancing truths I discovered:

1. You only need a few clients.

When I first heard that I only needed a few clients to be successful as a freelance writer, I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t see how a few companies would need enough writing to keep me busy full-time and pay full-time rates.

Turns out, my clients always have more work than I can do. I have three clients I work with every single month. With just those clients, I exceed my income goals every month.

2. Choosing a niche is the way to go.

When I first started freelancing, I resisted choosing a niche. I wanted to take on every client that came my way. But, since I can only handle a few clients at a time anyway, it makes sense to specialize. [tweetability]With all my clients in the same niche, I am more of an expert, can ask higher rates, and I can get the work done faster.[/tweetability]

3. Your “competition” wants you to succeed — and will help you.

In a lot of industries, you’re constantly trying to outperform your competition. In copywriting, I’ve found that’s not really the case. There’s more than enough work to go around and the better we do, the more business owners realize they need copywriters.

I’ve personally had my peers refer work to me because they already had a full plate. They’ve even helped me with projects and gave me advice without asking for anything in return.

4. It doesn’t take long to become an expert.

When I found copywriting, I looked at the experts and thought it would take forever to get to their level. But I followed their advice, set up my freelance website, and wrote a lot of articles. Now my clients come to me for advice and ask my opinion about their copy needs — instead of just telling me what they want.

5. Mistakes aren’t that big of a deal.

I didn’t start working with clients for a long time because I was terrified I would mess up and be blacklisted from the industry. But mistakes happen and they’re not that big of a deal. [tweetability]You can always come back from mistakes if you’re willing to learn and grow.[/tweetability] And, if all else fails, you could switch niches.

6. There are no limits.

When I started copywriting, I thought my income would be capped around $100,000 per year. Then I learned about people making $250,000 or more — without much extra work.

The secret is passive income — income you set up once and it comes in day-after-day, even if you’re not working. Once you learn copywriting, the sky is the limit. You can set up Money-Making Websites or create your own products. You can do pretty much anything you can dream.

Now that I know these six things, I no longer feel that freelance copywriting is “too good to be true.” Instead, it really is better than I imagined.

What are some things you think are “too good to be true” about freelancing and copywriting? Join the discussion below and let’s get rid of these myths for good.

Big Check for Your Dream Board (Free Download)

Big Check for Your Dream Board (Free Download)

Earlier today I posted this on Facebook …

Post by Christina Gillick … Please wait for Facebook post to load …

As I mentioned it’s going to be a few days before I take my own picture …

But that shouldn’t keep you from seeing the giant check, right? :)

Here it is:

Big-Check-01

If you read any of my articles, you probably know I talk a lot about reaching goals and how thinking positive thoughts is one of the best things you can do. To help with that, I recommend creating a dream board.

Action Step: If your goal is to be next year’s $10K Challenge Winner, add it to your dream board today. I made it easy on you by removing my name and changing the date. Here are the simple steps:

  1. Click here or on the image below to download a PDF of it.
  2. Print it and write your name on it. (Or add your name with a computer program and print.)
  3. Add to your dream board (or somewhere where you’ll see it often)!

Simple as pie!

Big-Check-Dream-Board-2014

Or click here to download.

Speaking of pie … Are you looking for proof that a dream board will help you? Check out what 2011’s “$10K Challenge Winner” – Mindy McHorse – had to say when she won:

Mindy McHorse's thoughts on winning in 2011

Here’s that download one more time.

If you need the “2015” version, download it here. If you need “2016” plus … I’ll make it for you … BUT we’re going to have to talk about your goals. For real. ::stern look::

I’m going back to writing – I have a deadline tomorrow. :)

[sigf]

P.S. What is your biggest challenge in your business right now? Comment below.

[important_after_sig]

Update: I finally took a pic of me with the check. Here it is:

Christina

Is Content King?

Is Content King?

Everyone says, “Content is king,” but what does that really mean?

There are two different views …

1. Quantity

People who believe in this strategy say that the more content you write, the more website visitors you’ll get because of the sheer volume of keywords on your site. However, every time Google makes an update to its algorithm, this group loses search engine rankings and traffic. This group has to always worry about whether their business will weather the next Google storm.

I think there’s a better way …

2. Quality

Write the best possible content you can – even if it takes a long time. One thing that the most-trafficked websites have in common is that they create amazing, useful, unique content. The quality makes visitors know, like, and trust them. And it gets people talking, asking questions, taking action, or debating.

Corbett Barr, from ThinkTraffic, is an independent blogger/entrepreneur who runs his business while traveling the world, working from anywhere with an Internet connection. He often says the secret to his success is writing quality content. Barr says:

“From my own experience, my sites grow slowly when I produce average content, then they grow like bamboo when I pour my soul into a piece of content and make it as undeniably useful as possible.”

To write your own epic content, consider these questions when you’re planning an article or blog post:

  • Does this matter – or is this helpful – to my audience?
  • Would I read this, or better yet, would I bookmark this?
  • Will this be useful tomorrow or in five years?
  • Can this inspire someone to talk, ask questions, or take action?

Here are three tips for writing your own epic content:

1. Take your time.

It’s not quick and easy to crank out quality content (but it’s worth it).

Barr points out that Pat Flynn (who runs a popular site, Smart Passive Income, which he grew to over 15,000 people in less than two and a half years) uses a strategy based around “pillar content,” which people bookmark and come back to. Flynn often spends several hours on each post.

2. Write passionately.

There are two reasons you should only write about the things you care about. First, you’ll find it much easier to produce quality content. Second, if you don’t care, it will show in your writing.

Find clients that sell products you’re passionate about, or start your own blog about your interests. The great thing about the writer’s life is that you can position yourself to work with your interests and avoid boring projects.

If you love outdoor adventures, find clients that offer outdoor adventure trips or gear. Your passion for your subject will show in your marketing materials and your writing.

3. Write when you’re inspired.

We can’t always be inspired, but when you are, don’t let the moment pass. Grab your pen or computer and get those thoughts on paper.

If you need to produce inspiration at a moment’s notice, create an inspiration file. Save pictures, articles, songs, and other things that bring you inspiration for epic content.

So what inspires you? Does the thought of creating quality content get you excited or scare you? Comment below to join the discussion …

But first, some thoughts from Corbett Barr:

“Write things that make people think. Inspire people. Change lives. Create value. Blow people away with your usefulness.”

The First Step to Becoming an A-Level Copywriter

The First Step to Becoming an A-Level Copywriter

We’ve all been taught to start with the basics and build a solid foundation, no matter what goal you have in mind. But a common mistake is wanting to cover the basics and move on to advanced learning too quickly.

In order to write great copy that turns readers into buyers, you must know and master the basics – like how to write a good headline, how to write conversationally, and how to get your reader to take action – first. Speed through the basics, and you won’t absorb them well.

The best symphony musicians practice their basics every day. When they sit down to practice, they don’t start with the piece they’re learning or the most advanced music they know.

Instead, they start with the basics every time. Basic scales and exercises they learned the first day they picked up the instrument!

This practice is how they became successful. You can do the same – with writing – to propel yourself into the writer’s life.

Make a commitment to focus on mastering the basics first, really get them down, and apply them to everything you write before moving on to more advanced topics.

Once you have learned the basics and you’re able to put them into practice, you need to review them often. Keeping them fresh in your mind makes using them easier. And with new, fancy tricks emerging every day, it’s more important than ever to remember the basics.

The best way I’ve found to keep the basics in front of me while I’m working is AWAI’s Professional Writers’ Alliance poster. It’s a free bonus to members when they join, but it’s been invaluable to me.

It includes great tips on how to be a better copywriter, such as, “Your Headline Must Grab the Prospect’s Attention” and “The more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.”

You can also create your own poster or reference sheet. Go through AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting and write the basics on your own poster, note cards, or even on a sheet of paper.

The important thing is that you make reviewing the basics a habit. This will make you a top-notch copywriter sooner than you think.

Here are the basics I review often:

The Power of One

I think this is the most important lesson I’ve learned from Michael Masterson and AWAI about copywriting. Keep these four points in mind when you think about the Power of One, and your copy will produce killer results.

  • Stir one big emotion – Pick one emotion (like fear or pride) for your project and use only that one. Trying to appeal to more than one emotion will cause your reader to get mentally jumbled up.
  • Emphasize one good idea – We call this the “big idea.” It’s an idea the reader can absorb immediately. It should hint at solving the reader’s biggest problem. Read a great article on the big idea by Sid Smith here.
  • Tell one captivating story – One main story should exist throughout your entire copy, whether it’s a sales letter or an email. Having just one story that relates to your big idea keeps them engaged. But multiple stories usually distract from the big idea. An example of a story you might tell is how the client came up with the idea for their product or service.
  • Direct your reader to one inevitable response – Your copy should have one goal. Example goals might be to get your reader to buy something, click a link, sign up for a newsletter, or even contact or visit the company. Be sure to keep that one goal in mind while you’re writing.

Call to Action

The call to action is so important because if you don’t ask your reader to take action, the copy won’t achieve the goal. The call to action usually comes at the end after you’ve written the letter and spoke to the prospect like a friend. You’ve told them about the product (including the benefits) and given them the proof they need to make a purchase. Now you just need them to take an action. You can read more about how to write an effective call to action here.

Be Conversational

People don’t like to be “sold,” and if your writing leads them to believe they are being sold, they’ll stop reading. Picture the reader sitting in front of you, and write like you’re talking to them. People have conversations with their friends and people they know. If they feel like they know you, they’ll be more likely to trust you – and buy from you.

People Buy for Emotional Reasons

I have to remind myself of this often, but people, in general, don’t buy for rational reasons. They buy a product or service that appeals to their emotions (fear, greed, etc.). Then they back up their decision with reasoning and facts.

An example might be a security system. Sure, it makes sense to get a security system, but most ads sell them by using fear (an emotion). Then they back up your decision by telling you how much money you’re going to save.

Don’t Forget Benefits

Features are easy. They’re the material details of a product, usually given to you by the client. Automatic transmission, 28 MPG, and 10 airbags are all features.

Benefits are a little more difficult, and many new copywriters often forget about them and fail to add them to their copy. Including benefits will get better results, so it’s important to take some time to understand them. You can find benefits by asking, “So what?” after a feature.

For example, a car has 10 air bags. So what? It will be safe for your entire family.

The car gets 28 miles per gallon. So what? You’ll save money on gas.

The above are just a few of the basics that copywriters should know. Review them before every project, and you’ll find the words come easier and your copy performs better.

How Do You Find Time to be an Expert?

How Do You Find Time to be an Expert?

As writers, most of the ways we become known as experts involve writing. But it can be hard to find the time to pack more writing into your schedule, especially when you’re just getting started.

Time management is a subject mankind has always struggled with.

It’s been studied by the greatest minds of our time: Albert Einstein, Dwight Eisenhower, Dale Carnegie, and Isaac Newton, just to name a few.

We, as freelance writers, are especially interested in effectively managing our time because the time we use is all ours.

Many of us have the goal of living the writer’s life so we don’t have to directly trade our time for dollars like a regular day job.

Instead, when we work for ourselves, we can work more efficiently and increase our hourly income. We can set up systems to make money while we sleep. And we can raise our rates as our expert status increases.

When our time is ours – and we’re tasked with making the most out of it – we begin to realize how important our time actually is.

When you’re a freelance writer, you have to use your time efficiently, or you’ll find that your working hours bleed into your free time hours.

If this happens for too long, you’ll likely burn out and give up.

Over the past year, I’ve spent a lot of time studying how to use my time effectively. One of the biggest time management lessons I’ve learned is this:

It’s very difficult to force yourself to do specific tasks at specific times. Trying to stick to a specific schedule can be very ineffective.

When you force yourself to do something at the wrong time, your brain won’t be “tuned in.” It will take you longer to finish the task and it will be far more frustrating.

For example, many time management people will advise you to create a schedule and stick to it. There’s a problem with this.

Let’s say you write from 7-10 a.m. every morning. One morning, you wake up and you just can’t get into your writing. You struggle to get words on the page for your three-hour commitment so you can move on to your next assignment.

Those three hours were incredibility ineffective. You barely wrote anything and you probably won’t use what you did write.

But what if you had changed your schedule that day to work on something else from 7-10 a.m.?

Then you could have come back to your writing when you were in the right mood. Because you would have been focused and effective for the whole 3 hours, you would have less frustration and a bigger return on your time investment.

It can be done. In fact, I often switch up my schedule to get the most efficiency out of every working hour. To do this, I take on projects that involve more than just writing.

Let’s say I’m creating a website for a client. There are many tasks to complete for that project. My technique is to divide the project up into the different types of work: (1) planning and marketing ideas, (2) writing, and (3) design.

In the mornings, I like to write, so I spend that time on the copy. Afternoons are usually when I’m in a strategic planning mood. Usually at the end of the workday, I’m in a crafty mood. That’s when I do the design work.

If you only handle writing assignments for your clients, you might break your writing into the following tasks: (1) research, (2) outlining, (3) writing, and (4) editing.

If you have several clients at a time, you’re likely to always have a project that is in one of these stages.

Of course, if you have tight deadlines, you may have to buckle down and get something done, even if you don’t feel 100% into it. That’s why it’s important to realize you might want to shake things up a bit and agree to deadlines that allow you to do so.

Remember, you’ll work more efficiently in the long run and make more per hour, so it’s worth the extra planning in the beginning.

I’m still getting the hang of it, but I’m getting closer to my perfect schedule every day.

What about you? Do you use this technique, or do you have another tip for making effective use of your time? Comment below to join the discussion …