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!

Convert More Customers from “Potential” to “Paying”

Convert More Customers from “Potential” to “Paying”

convert more customers with the know, like, trust factorWhen dealing with a potential customer, you must build a relationship with them so they’ll feel comfortable enough to give their money in exchange for your services.

This can be quite a process. But, luckily, there are several things you can do to put their worries at ease and secure their business.

It all starts with a common marketing principle that you may have heard about: the “Know-Like-Trust Factor.”

Remembering and using the “know-like-trust factor” will help you convert more customers.

[symple_box color=”yellow” text_align=”center” width=”30%” float=”right”]Recommended resource:

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Here’s how you can apply this principle to your business:

1. Know

Converting more customers starts by letting your potential customer get to know you. This is best accomplished with your business website. Ideally, your website will give anyone wanting to get to know you – like potential customers – a direct path to all the information they need.

Just by looking at your site, they need to know that you can solve their problem either because you have the right training or experience. They need to know what you can do for them. And they need to know that you’re a real person who won’t take their money and run.

Here’s how you can do that:

  • As you share things about yourself, make sure the customer always understands what’s in it for them. Share things that add to your credibility. For example, if your niche is food writing, then your experience as a chef is a great thing to talk about. If you don’t have that much experience, you could talk about your passion for cooking, how you never want to leave the kitchen, or how you travel the world to try new flavors. Explain how your passion or experience is of value to them.
  • Add a little personality into your marketing messages. You want to be seen as a professional, but that doesn’t mean you have to be stuffy or uptight. If you’re a funny person, add some humor. This will help your customers realize that you’re a real person.
  • Include a contact form or contact information on your website so potential customers can reach out to you. Then respond to messages and emails in a timely manner.
  • If you have a blog, use it to help potential customers by writing about the biggest issues or questions in your niche and how you’d deal with them. You’ll be their hero, and they’ll consider you an expert. This will lead to them hiring you and referring you to others.

2. Like

Once a potential customer has a good understanding of who you are, you’ll want to do things to make them like you. This is a lot like building a real relationship – it takes time.

The average website visitor won’t be ready to buy the first time they find your website. That’s okay. Instead of getting upset, you can do things to bring them back to your site and build a relationship over time so when they are ready to buy, you’re the one they come to.

The best way to follow up with them later is via email. Basically, you offer them something they really want, a “bait piece,” so they’ll give you their email address to get it. This is usually some form of information – like a free report, email series, video training, or critique.

Later, you send them emails that share more of your personality and make your name familiar to them. The more often you follow up with them, the more they’ll know, like, and trust you. And, you’ll convert more customers.

For more help creating your own bait piece so you can gather email addresses of potential clients, check out these articles:

3. Trust

When people are looking for writers (and other freelancers) online, it’s easy for doubt to creep in. That can create hesitation and kill your ability to get hired.

To overcome this doubt and create trust so you can convert more customers, you need to first reduce their risk. When someone is ready to hire you, you don’t want anything to scare him or her away.

Here are two ways to get your website visitors to trust (and hire) you:

  1. Offer an ironclad guarantee. A guarantee for services is different from the guarantee you’ll see for products, but the purpose is the same: to dissolve the fear that what you’re offering might not be as good as you claim. If you’re a freelancer, you may not want to guarantee specific results from your services (like copy or web design), but you can guarantee things like on-time delivery or that you’ll do revisions until they’re satisfied. Just make sure your terms are clear – you don’t want them to think a revision means they can change the entire scope of the project after the work is done.
  2. Give proof that others know, like, and trust you. Potential customers will feel more at ease if they see other people trusted you and it went well for them. Become more active in social media and get more followers. Add links to these profiles on your website. Also, interact with people online – in a professional capacity – as often as possible. This will increase your search engine results and make you much more trustworthy. (The more you can find on a person online, the more real they seem.)

Also, every time you do a project or help someone out, ask for a testimonial. Then add them to your website as proof that other people know, like, and trust you.

Testimonials should include the name of the person who wrote it, job position, and everything that makes them important to listen to – the more the better. It’s best if you can get a video testimonial from happy customers, but if you can’t, a picture of the person is still good. If you can’t get a picture either, use the testimonial anyway. A testimonial without a picture is better than no testimonial.

Of course, there are many other ways to build credibility, help potential customers know, like, and trust you, and convert more customers.

What have you tried? Have you found a great way to quickly build a solid relationship with a potential customer? Comment below to let us know.

Fast Risk or Slow Growth?

Fast Risk or Slow Growth?

slow-growthPreviously I mentioned that I reflect on my business and life twice a year – in January and August.

During my last reflection, I felt a little down on myself because my business has grown very slowly. I’m finally reaching a lot of my goals, but over the past few years, I watched other writers come in and zoom past me.

I pondered this a while before bringing it up to my husband (otherwise known as my voice of reason). He pointed out that one of my favorite things about the writer’s life has always been the flexibility.

You can see your dreams come into reality as fast or as slow as you want. Some people choose to quit their jobs, live on their savings, and make six figures in the first year. It’s a risk, some might say a gamble, but it can be done.

Others, like me, are afraid, cautious, or timid. They prefer to build their business slowly. Even excruciatingly slow at times. Michael Masterson talks about this concept in his book The Reluctant Entrepreneur: Turning Dreams into Profits (Agora Series).

In the introduction, he tells the story of Mary Kay and how she built her business the hard way. She quit her job with Stanley Home Products and invested all of her savings into a “crazy” idea. The odds were against her, and she had to overcome many obstacles to succeed …

In 2011, Mary Kay Cosmetics was the sixth-largest direct selling company in the world, with net sales of $2.9 billion. But the story could have been much different …

As Masterson points out, stories – like Mary Kay’s – are inspiring, but they also mislead us.

“They perpetuate the myth that to become hugely successful you must be willing to risk everything,” says Masterson.

When I started my first business, I didn’t have Masterson’s wisdom. I became a Mary Kay Consultant in college and went “all in.” I didn’t have a savings account, so I used my credit card to buy inventory, business cards, tote bags, cotton balls, and a million other supplies I never needed.

The next three years weren’t easy, and in the times when I really struggled, I turned to The Mary Kay Way: Timeless Principles from America’s Greatest Woman Entrepreneur to inspire me. I reminded myself of all the things she had to overcome. I comforted myself by saying, “If she could do it, so can you!”

Finally, I decided I wasn’t cut out for that type of business, and I sold my inventory and pretty much broke even. Luckily!

While I believe the things I learned from Mary Kay about sales and marketing helped me build a foundation for my copywriting business, a lot of business owners aren’t so lucky.

Today, I know you don’t have to risk everything – and you certainly don’t have to max out a credit card to start a successful business.

Thanks to AWAI and Masterson’s approach, when I decided to become a freelance copywriter, my path was much different. I didn’t have to quit my job or invest my savings.

Instead, I did it the “reluctant entrepreneur” way. I built my business on the side, on weekends and evenings. Growing it slowly, without risking my life savings or full-time job. And you can do it too.

No matter where you are on the path to the writer’s life, freelance freedom, or business stardom, it’s okay. You can set your own goals based on your circumstances.

[tweetability]Fast risk or slow growth? The choice is yours. Don’t let anyone else make it for you.[/tweetability]

 
I personally chose to build my business very slowly the first several years. I had a job I liked, and while I wanted my own business, that wasn’t enough of a reason for me to take a risk.

Instead, I took small actions every day to build my business while keeping a full-time job. Some days, I just had enough mental energy to send one email or outline one article. But the small daily actions finally added up to a successful freelance business.

For more about The Reluctant Entrepreneur, check out this article: “Four Life-Changing Lessons from ‘The Reluctant Entrepreneur.’

I’d like to leave you with one more thing to think about from The Reluctant Entrepreneur: [tweetability]”Most successful entrepreneurs got to the top by taking a very conservative approach.”[/tweetability]

Which approach are you taking? Join the discussion below.

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.

Personal Growth and Business Growth … How’s Your Mindset?

Personal Growth and Business Growth … How’s Your Mindset?

Growth“What if they say ‘no’?”

“What if I mess up?”

“What if …”

I tortured myself like this for over a year.

Then I heard Nick Usborne, online copywriting expert, talk about how [tweetability]personal growth and business growth must rise at the same rate if you want to be successful.[/tweetability]

I realized I had focused completely on business growth — pretty much ignoring personal growth.

I started working on improving my mindset and, just like Nick promised, soon I was confidently working with paying clients.

But, I didn’t realize how much my outlook had changed until a recent Wealthy Web Writer teleconference.

We were talking about our big goals for the year. Mine is to double my hourly rate — so I dropped some low-paying clients to make room for higher-paying work.

Heather Robson, freelance copywriter and Managing Editor of Wealthy Web Writer, pointed out how much my mindset had grown. I never would have let a paying client go in the past — no matter how little they paid.

That inspired me to share with you how I did it.

Whether you’re just getting started — or want to take your business to the next level — improving your mindset is crucial.

Step 1 is having a “growth mindset.”

The book, Mindset, by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. (a leading researcher in the field of motivation and a professor at Stanford University), explains the difference between a “fixed mindset” and a “growth mindset.”

A fixed mindset means:

  • Your self-worth is directly related to everything you do and whether you succeed or not.
  • You do everything you can to avoid failure.
  • You believe you have a certain amount of talent and you can’t increase it.
  • You’re fearful of messing up or looking dumb.
  • If you do fail, you see it as a sign that you’re not “cut out for this” and just the thought of possibly failing makes you never take action.

A growth mindset, on the other hand, means:

  • You embrace challenging opportunities because you know it’s the only way to improve and reach your highest potential.
  • You believe the only way to fail is to not try.
  • You know the intelligence and talent you’re born with is just a starting point. You can always improve and you put in persistent effort to do so.
  • [tweetability]You see failure as an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve.[/tweetability]

Using the descriptions above, which mindset do you identify with most? This is the first step to jump-starting your personal — and career — growth. If you’re not sure, have a trusted friend or family member look at the list with you and give their honest opinion. Then, comment below to join the discussion.

Don’t worry if you think you have a fixed mindset right now. I was in that place not long ago.

Stick with me and you’ll be well on your way to developing the growth mindset. In fact, in my next post we’ll talk about four ways to do exactly that.

Danger … “Shiny Objects” Ahead!

Danger … “Shiny Objects” Ahead!

Today, I want to talk about shiny objects and how they’ll hold back your freelance career if you let them.

Shiny objects are tips, tricks, or techniques that distract you from your main path. They make you think there might be a better, faster way to succeed.

When I started my journey to the writer’s life, I was plagued by indecision. I couldn’t figure out which direction I wanted to go or which route would give me the best payout in the shortest time.

Shiny objects constantly tempted me.

I would choose one direction only to hear about a better, faster one the next day. I would start learning about that, but in no time, I’d hear about something else that seemed even better.

It was a frustrating struggle that left me with a mess of training programs and bookmarked articles, but no progress. No matter how fast I learned, it felt like I would never know enough.

Finally, I heard about FOCUS (follow one course until successful), and I decided to come up with a plan – and stick to it.

I joined AWAI’s Circle of Success and met with Rebecca Matter. She helped me come up with a plan, and I didn’t look back.

I put away the programs and started ignoring the emails that didn’t support my focused path.

Filtering out the temptations to stray from my path is one thing that allows me to live the writer’s life.

Here’s how you can start avoiding shiny objects today:

First, decide on your path.

To make it really simple, pick an AWAI course. They come with step-by-step directions. It doesn’t matter which one as long as it’s something you’re excited about doing. Then make a commitment to finish that course and take action on what you learn.

Once you’ve made that commitment, it won’t be easy to stick to it. You’re likely to hear about all kinds of other paths and programs.

If you find yourself unable to commit and constantly chasing one method after another, but not making any real progress, take stock:

What happened with my last method? Did I follow through or abandon it? Why?

If you still think your last method is worth pursuing, don’t move on until you follow through. File away the new method for later.

If you still want to move forward on the new method, ask yourself:

Is this method essential to my success or another reason for me to procrastinate?

Essential would be contacting clients. Nonessential would be signing up for the newest social media site. Then ask:

What proof do I have that this method is better than my last method?

If it’s not better – or you have no way to know if it’s better – proceed with caution. Don’t try stuff just for the sake of trying it. Make sure you have concrete evidence that this is the way to go and that you will see results with this method.

Then, no matter which method you choose, make a commitment to see it through.

Going through this process has helped keep me on a path where I’m making progress instead of chasing after the newest thing.

I’ve found the key to achieving the writer’s life is staying focused and avoiding the pitfall of shiny objects.

Looking back, I realize my fascination with new programs was just an excuse to procrastinate. But along the way, I did find a few shortcuts that work and will get anyone to the writer’s life faster. (I’ll share them in next week’s article.)

So how about you? Do shiny objects distract you or have you found a way to overcome them?