15 Ways To Jumpstart Your Writing Career

handsome journalist writing with typewriter

 

So you want to be a professional writer.

That’s the goal, right?

First off, I want to congratulate you–most people don’t know what it is they really want.

This means you can’t treat writing like a hobby. After all, this is your future career we are talking about here.

If you are willing to work really hard and be very dedicated, you can do it.

A Word of Warning

Before we dive deeper, you must pay close attention to your emotions. Do everything you can in your mind to avoid the comparison trap. You may have to do some intentional free work or poorly paying work to get your foot in the door.

Your writing journey is not going to be exactly like someone else’s.

You’ll need some thicker skin to do this; rejection comes with the territory.

So just know that going in.

Success comes only when you show up consistently over time.

Without further ado, here are 15 ways to get traction with your writing career:

1. Writing Blog Posts For Other Websites.

This kind of like guest posting. However, in most cases, you won’t get credit for the writing. You could call it ghost blogging if you want a term for it. This is by far one of the most common ways that many writers make income from writing. Every blog needs great content on a regular basis to have impact and to stay relevant. You know you can provide this—and you have the experience to prove it in the form of your blog. 

The Problogger Job board is very a popular place to find some of this work. Rates are all over the map for this kind of writing, from free to hundreds or even thousands of dollars per post. When first starting out, don’t worry about what a gig pays; just do as many as possible (in the area you want to focus on) if you really want to pursue a writing career.

Pro Tip: Sign up for the Morning Coffee Newsletter. This great resource actually sends you open writing positions to your email. Apply for the jobs that interest you.

2. Rewriting Resumes and Cover Letters.

If you have a lot of experience with resumes or cover letters, this is a great area to consider. When starting out, go for the direct connection first. Let others in your network know you do it. Facebook is fantastic for this. Rates typically range from $100-500. (Please note that all dollar figures are just a guide.)

Pro Tip: Check out some of the top resume sites and talk to any friends you have in HR or who own a small business to see what they specifically look for in a resume.

3. Rewriting Webpages.

One great example is rewriting an About Me page or writing a FAQ page. The Start Here page is quickly replacing many pages, so study some great examples such as this one or this one. Write–or rewrite–a few for some bloggers you know to improve and you’ll likely have some solid recommendations as well.

Pro Tip: Remember, most web writing is really copywriting; to improve your skills, I highly recommend going to Demian Farnworth’s awesome website and listening to his podcast.

4. Writing Emails.

Writing good emails (that actually get opened and people respond to) is truly an art form. If you have experience with email marketing, your skills are VERY MUCH in need. This would work really well with as a service that focuses on product launches. Figure around $30-100 an hour for this service.

Pro Tip: Go through your own email inbox. What have you actually opened? What have you responded to? What have you purchased because of an email? Make notes of what emails stand out and reverse engineer them.

5. Writing Newsletters.

Newsletters are a great way to stay connected to the audience and this does not have to be writing the entire newsletter; even just outlining or co-writing newsletters is a very valuable service in great demand. Pricing estimates vary, so assume around $30-100 an hour.

Pro Tip: Keep in mind that newsletters are written for a specific audience. Look at the ones you like and analyze why you like them. For example, I really like Amy Lynn Andrew’s Useletter and Blake Atwood’s Newsletter.

I also have a newsletter JUST FOR WRITERS and I focus on helping you move forward and get unstuck. Sign up By Clicking Right Here

6. Write a Book Yourself.

The best part of this option is that you have total control of this. You are the boss. You will not know how much money you will make from it, but with proper research and if you know your audience well, you can make money from a book.

Yes, this will likely take a month or two. But you can surprise yourself with how much you can write in a very short amount of time. I recently created a new course called Write Publish Share that takes you through the ENTIRE book writing and publishing process. (Assuming you purchase level 1 of the course, plus a great cover, editing and marketing, you can have a finished book in hand for between $500 to $1000. Even less if you barter your services for editing and a cover.)

7. Write a book for someone else.

Many who want to write a book don’t have the time or ability to write a book. In most cases, the ghostwriter does interviews or gets an outline from the author and then writes the book. This is actually really straightforward and the author is the one who gets credit for the book. The ghostwriter is paid a flat amount for the work. Typically, a ghostwriter is paid 50% up front and 50% upon completion of the book. Ghostwriting costs range from as low as $5K to around $20K to write a book.

8. Write Tweets or Social Media Updates.

Do this for someone else and load them into an app like Buffer or Hootsuite. This takes time, so many writers put it off. If you can keep someone connected to others on social, there is great demand for this. If you are good with photos, you could design photos using an app like shareasimage.com to make customized photos and artwork. Figure between $30-100 an hour for this service. 

Pro Tip: Engage with a business or blog that does not have much of a presence in social media. Just offer to help out for free and do some high-quality work that blows them away. More often than not that will lead to some freelance work. 

9. Write Sales Copy For Books.

Not just on Amazon, but for everywhere a book is up for sale such as Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, etc. You could also write the sales copy for the book’s landing page as well. Between $.15-.50 cents a word is a good estimate there.

10. Writing For Magazines.

Magazines—both physical and online magazines often pay writers well. The only downside is that you often have to submit a query and the process can be more time consuming. Being paid a dollar a word is quite common with some magazines. It really depends on each publication.

11. Doing Transcriptions.

There is a great demand for this, especially for podcasters. Obviously, it will take some time to be proficient with this skill, but once you get good at transcribing, you can work very quickly and make good money doing it. Average rates go from $30-150 to transcribe an hour of audio with one to two people talking.

12. Writing Show Notes for Podcasters.

Most podcasters can’t stand to do this. This and editing the podcast are the two biggest pain points I consistently hear from podcasters. The cost will depend on the detail of the show notes and now long the podcast is in length; a good guide would be between $15-50 for one episode.

13. Find Other Problems and Offer Solutions.

This can focus on writing depending on how you do it. If you read an ebook full of typos, contact the author and offer to fix them for free or for a fee (the choice is up to you and where you are in your writing journey).

14. Writing for Magazines.

My good friend Kelsey Humphreys is a contributor for Entrepreneur.com and while this may not be a paying gig, it often leads to other opportunities, such as speaking engagements. 

15. Check Out Elance/Odesk/Fiverr.

Yes, there are a lot of extremely low-paying gigs on these sites, but I know several people who have done well posting here. The rates are all over the map on these websites. I have not had much success with this, but in all honesty, I have not tried very hard on these platforms. Perhaps the more time you spend on it the better you will do. With Fiverr, the key is to offer different options which will allow you more opportunities to make more than five dollars.

A couple More Ideas (just to help you even more)

1. Editing Books—specifically ebooks—is always in great demand.

There are many, many ebooks out there and I have worked with five editors on different books myself. And the best thing about editing is that it actually makes you a better writer. (Yes, I just told my secret about why I love being an editor.) Payment is often 50% up front and 50% on completion. Pricing ranges from .01 per word to .10 per word.

2. There Is A GREAT Demand For Editing Blog Posts.

In many cases, editing (and rewriting) is the difference between a great blog post and a mediocre one. Often this is paid per post or for a number of posts each month. The challenge here is to find blogs that are

3. Help Authors with Book Launches.

This is one of the biggest needs for authors, right up there with coffee. If you are good with organization, social media and project management there is always a need for this. In many ways, the book launch is more difficult than the actual writing of the book itself. There is a lot of work involved: coordinating interviews, writing guest posts, asking for book reviews and engaging your book launch team. Hope marketing does not work. Intentionally connecting with as many people at intentional times does. Volunteer to help another writer with a book launch to get some hands on experience and the next time around you can charge for your services.

How To Find Opportunities

First, you need to have a network in place. You likely have one in place even if you think you don’t; if you are online, you have a network. Reconnect with people you know on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In or any other social network you use. You want to let them know that you are pursuing freelance work, but don’t just send a message and say, “Hey I’m freelancing. Got any leads?” This is kind of a jerk move. If it is your buddy that you spoke with yesterday, then this approach might be fine, but in most situations, you need to reconnect first.

Common courtesy is always a good thing. Ask about their situation and see if you can help before asking for anything. Then, mention what you are up to with freelancing. Yes, this may sound counterintuitive. I know you’re itching to find some work; be patient.

Good things come to those who work really hard and are nice to others.

This is by far the number one way I have found the most freelance work. Applying for jobs is important as well, but a direct connection always beats being one of many emails sitting in an inbox.

Know that rejection is part of this process. You have to intentionally look for work; it is only when you are established will others come to you with work.

For anyone who is interested, I do offer coaching services and can provide help with all of these services listed in this post. This is what I spend the majority of my time doing for my business. I will work with you and give you honest, encouraging feedback so you can bring in some income. Just go here for more info. Wouldn’t it be great to bring in hundreds–even thousands per month of income with your writing?

Now repeat after me: You can do this.

I KNOW you can.

Want to go one step further? Need more support and encouragement?

I’m leading a mastermind in September called the 90-Day Writers Mastermind to help you absolutely transform your writing.

 

Do you know any other ways to kick start your writing career? Share them in the comments!

 

Charades with Todd Foley

CharadesBlogTour

For today’s post I am thrilled to talk with my friend who is also one of my favorite authors, Todd Foley. He is a fun, super intelligent writer (and editor) who has really been a mentor to me. As I really think about it, I think it was after reading his first novel and having him tell me about self publishing that I decided to travel down this path myself.

Jim: First off, I have to say your latest book Charades really surprised me. I thought I knew what was coming, but I wasn’t close. I’ve been studying story structure a lot lately too. Regardless, I really was surprised. I read the ebook so I wasn’t aware how far into the book I was. Man, you totally got me!

Todd: Thanks Jim! It’s funny, the entire arc came to be all at once around four years ago, including the ending. But as excited as I was to draft that final chapter, I made myself write the rest of the story first. That was my main motivation to keep writing and developing the characters.

 

J: Todd, this is your second book. How was this book different for you than the first?

T: With my first book, Eastbound Sailing, I really wrote it blindly, not knowing where it was going, and I only had the protagonist and three supporting characters to develop. With Charades, I mapped out the whole story and character profiles all in advance but had to develop twice as many characters in half the word count. So it was a great exercise in learning to be concise.

 

J: I found that your book was really easy to read. That made me think of the quote by Nathaniel Hawthorne where he once said that easy reading is damn hard writing. Do you have any idea how many drafts you went through for the book? What did the rewriting process look like for you?

T: Oh man, I live by that quote, because it’s so true! I probably went through at least six drafts of each chapter, and then another three or four of the entire manuscript. I had to make myself wait several days before editing a chapter so that I could be a bit more removed from the text. That helped me say, “Wow, this is great, develop it more.” I also had to say, “Wow, this is terrible, cut it all out” far more times than I would have liked!

 

J: Is there a backstory for how you came up with the title Charades?

T: I’ve always been fascinated by the “lives of others” concept – observing people, watching how they interact with others, and wondering why they do what they do. Also, having grown up in a small town and worked in customer service, I love the interaction that comes with the “regular” customers. So that setting and theme came together, and I ended up with Charades as a fitting title.

 

J: What would you say for someone who is writing their first novel?

T: Read a lot and watch a lot of films and TV shows. Learn by consuming, allow yourself to be influenced, and then slowly discover your own voice.

 

J: Finishing a book is really, really hard. And I find it is even harder with fiction vs. nonfiction. How do you know when you’ve crossed the finish line?

T: That’s a really tough question to answer, because there’s always more that can be added. Stories really are just “snapshots” of a larger narrative that lives on beyond the pages. I’m a huge fan of ambiguous endings, so that inclination helped me make peace with how I finished this book.

 

J: A while ago you told me I had to read Requiem By A Dream by Hubert Selby Jr. The book not only wrecked me but also changed how I view all fiction really. Has that book stuck with you like it has me?

T: That book was a real game changer for me. I don’t think I had ever cried while reading, and I haven’t again since. What really got me is how Selby literally broke every single rule and convention – no quote marks, commas, attributions or paragraphs – but it was without a doubt the most visceral, physical reading experience I’d ever had. He really created a sense of chaos which brought the horrific subject matter to life.

 

J: Do you have any other books you highly recommend?

T: I’ve become a fan of more transgressive fiction – Less Than Zero, Requiem For A Dream, A Clockwork Orange, We Need To Talk About Kevin. But I also love commercial thrillers. J.K. Rowling’s crime series she wrote under a pseudonym – The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm – were delicious page-turners.

 

J: Any must-haves for you when you write?

T: Access to a power outlet in case the laptop battery is running low! Nothing like losing power when you’re on a good streak.

 

J: Lastly, it’s confession time. Do you have any writing quirks? It’s okay. You’re among friends here. Tell the truth.

T: I’d like to say something hip like writing with a craft beer in hand or at a cool urban cafe while listening to an indie playlist, but honestly I love sitting on the couch in my sweats next to a salty snack and in front my Netflix cue. I’m equally inspired to write while watching House Of Cards and Bloodline as I am with Gilmore Girls and Friends. I like to balance the grim with some grins. And yes, I am fully aware of that awful pun! All of those shows make me feel something, which is my ultimate goal as a writer.

A special thanks to Todd for sharing his thoughts. I highly recommend you pick up his new book Charades. You can pick up a copy on Amazon by clicking right here. If you’d like to connect with Todd (you should!) he’s @tiddy1234 on Twitter.

CharadesbyToddFoley

7 Ways To Write Faster TODAY

handsome journalist writing with typewriter

I have a confession to make. I have a friend who writes super fast. He writes about 10,000 words per day. Writing is like breathing to him. And I only crank out a few thousand words on most days. While writing is not a competition, I decided to try some different approaches to squeeze out more words on the page.

Here are seven ways to write faster starting today:

1. Use dictation software

You talk faster than you write. Use this to your advantage. I have used Dragon Dictation which is a free app for IOS. Keep in mind that not all dictation software is great. Some of it even sucks. But you don’t know until you try it out. If you are stuck, this is an absolute no-brainer to help you get unstuck.

2. Have a writing partner

This doesn’t have to be complicated—just set up a Google Doc with your word count on it each day and have a friend put their word count on it as well. This friendly competition pushes you to write more and also to write every day. A writers mastermind would be another way to go. (If you are interested in this, fire me an email and let’s chat.)

3. Have some ideas to use before you start

Buy a cheap paper notebook and fill it with just phrases and ideas. Should you get stuck, just flip through it. Before you start writing, turn to it. Want to jump start your mind with some blog post ideas? You know where to go don’t you. If you don’t have a good idea to start with in the first place, you’re trying to have a baby when you’re not pregnant.

4. Embrace technology-induced shortcuts. 

99% of the time, I cannot spell entrepreneur right and it always slows me down. Whatever you are writing about, you can use an app like atext for Mac or PhraseExpress for PC to save you time. Then you can type in the phrase “ent” and the app places the word “entrepreneur” on the screen. Every bit of mental energy you save adds up. Use that energy wisely and you’ll have more words in your manuscript or blog post.

5. Work from a template

All writing can work from a template. Don’t believe me? Think about it—books, blog posts, even screenplays have a formula.  In most cases, it is a three-act structure with a beginning (intro or lede), middle and then an end (call to action). If you don’t have a template, you will be wasting time—which leads to less words on the page. 

Here is a video about this topic and a summary of what to include in a blog post:

  • Write the headline first. If it is not enticing and interesting, no one will read your work.
  • Have a great first paragraph. This helps move the reader down the page.
  • Feature an interesting image. This can be difficult. I recommend this source if you are stuck.
  • Make the post easy to read. No one wants to read cluttered, confusing text.
  • Include some kind of story. Stories are the most powerful communication tool in the world.

6. Have a writing only account on your computer.

Just go into account settings and create a new account “writing.” Then hide (or even delete) everything that is not writing. You can even enable settings like parental controls so you can’t get on the internet. Do whatever it takes to get more writing done without distraction. No chance of drifting over to Twitter when you don’t have a web browser. The only apps in my dock are Calendar, iTunes, Word and Scrivener.

7. Leave yourself breadcrumbs. 

You are likely working on SEVERAL projects, not just one. So leave yourself a simple way to pick up where you left off. This could be as simple as highlighting your last sentence, using a sticky note in your notebook, or even using a symbol or comment in your writing app to tell you what you have to do next. Earnest Hemingway would stop his writing mid-sentence so he knew where to pick up the next morning. Whatever you do, make sure you have a good place to pick up or you’ll waste valuable time and energy trying to just figure out where to start again.

Bonus tip: Get a cowriter. 

Two writing friends of mine Johnny B Truant and Sean Platt have this down to a science and used this approach to crank out over 5 million words in 2015. While this may not work for everyone, for those who decide to do it, this can be an invaluable step. When you find someone who just clicks with you, you’ll find yourself firing on all cylinders. You focus on your strengths, and your co-writer focuses on their strengths. Isn’t this the goal? With the right fit, you can turn into a well-oiled writing machine.

Want even more writing info? Sign up for my newsletter. Just click here for a preview and you can sign up at the top. Thanks!

 

 

 

5 Marketing Ingredients That Make You A Better Writer

vintage book and light bulb on wood table

 

 

 

You push the post button and you wait for it.

Wait for it.

Crickets.

Your audience isn’t growing; even your current audience is not very engaged with you.

But here’s the good news–in most cases, the problem is not your lack of writing talent.

The truth is you’re not just a writer. You’re also a marketer.

Most writers hate marketing and often view it as the younger brother of the aggressive sale (which is often done by a guy in an ugly plaid sport coat).

But that’s just one style of marketing.

You don’t have to do that.

Let’s say you sit down and watch Gigli, Glitter and Batman and Robin ( you know the one with Ah-nold as Mr. Freeze) all in a row.

First off, I’m sorry for you. Suddenly, you are talking about how much you hate movies, right?

You may even say, “I hate movies.”

But the real problem is you were watching bad movies.

You have a bad taste in your mouth from the negative experience, because, well, you’re human.

The same concept applies to marketing, but don’t let the bad examples discourage you.

Marketing is not optional. If you don’t like marketing, the problem is you have not found the right approach for you.

Whether you write books, blog posts, articles or social media updates you must be a good marketer to get the reader’s attention.

Marketing is the blood in your veins as a writer. It is that important.

So how can you apply this to your current writing?

Here are five essential elements of great marketing:

1. Be honest, authentic and sincere.

The world is full of highlight reels being presented as real life. Don’t add to that. Be human. Please allow me to give a shout out to my friend Sarah Mae. Both are just fantastic examples of this. In some ways, Sarah is my original marketing mentor. (See example here of how smart and real she is.)

2. Tell stories and invite people in. 

Good stories are extremely powerful. Do not ever overlook this. Good stories have a specific structure too. Don’t hesitate to get an editor to ensure your story is engaging. Outside perspective allows you to see things you normally don’t see on your own.

3. Focus on helping others.

Treat people like people. Don’t be afraid to ask for a sale–especially when you know what you have can help. Good marketing does not manipulate people. I’ll repeat that because it is so important: good marketing does not manipulate people. Instead, it serves people.

4. Clarity is absolutely essential. 

With the many choices out there, you have to make it very clear what it is you are about and what you stand for. Otherwise, people will get confused. So if you are writing a book, if it isn’t clear what the book is about, it will not sell. If you write a blog and it is all over the place topic wise, people won’t read it.

5. Be willing to be weird. 

Don’t think in terms of comparing yourself to others. Break all of the rules and do something others view as odd. Do something unique that no one else is doing. Being a copycat accomplishes nothing. In 2015, you must be willing to differentiate yourself from everyone else. You also must embrace failure as a part of the process. It will happen. But don’t view it as failure–you can call it the refining process. The more you fail, the more you win. A scientist doesn’t stop after one try–he keeps experimenting. Never stop innovating. You are much more creative than you think you are.

Lastly, write about something that is bigger than you or it will not spread. 

Marketing is NOT about self-promotion. Whatever you write about, it must connect with the reader. If you write fiction, it must keep the reader entertained and be enjoyable; take the reader on an adventure. Writing is not a selfish act. If you say you write only for yourself, that’s called journaling which is great, but very different than writing for an audience.

Write for a reason: to give hope, to inspire, to make others laugh or to entertain, etc. Figure out what your purpose for writing is and focus in on it. This will help make you a better writer and marketer too.

If you feel stuck with where you are as a writer or marketer, fire me an email or leave a comment below. Let’s chat about it so you can find clarity and form a plan.

You Probably Should Not Be Reading This.

Photo by Eugene Zemlyanskiy

Still reading huh? I see how it is.

Well, this is part of the problem. When you have a piece of interesting content nearby, you consume it.

You may even keep track of how many books you’re reading — you’ve got a certain goal you want to read this year.

You may even read a book (or more) a week. Or maybe you read countless blog posts.

It’s great that you love reading.

But if you are plowing through a lot of content at a rapid pace, you can’t really reflect on it or apply it to any part of your life can you?

In some cases, you may actually learn something.

But in most cases, you just get a slight variation on something you already know. Or maybe it goes in one ear and out the other.

This is especially the case with nonfiction.

Have you read ________ book? It’s great.

So you pick up the book.

Instead of doing your own work, you spend time consuming content.

The cycle continues.

Now I know my credibility is questionable at best and I am somewhat a hypocrite stating this as a nonfiction author myself. Heck, even writing this post makes me somewhat hypocritical. Just hear me out.

But not all content is created equal. Some books are absolutely filled with fluff. Some books are essentially blog post and then a hundred pages of padding. Some books are great. Some blog posts are great.

But don’t rationalize what you know is really procrastination as learning.

For the past three months, I’ve been on a nonfiction break.

This break has resulted in many great benefits:

  • I’m more creative.
  • I’m not remotely worried about what other people are doing.
  • My confidence has increased in shaping my own path.

And it feels very refreshing.

A friend of mine only reads books that are not popular. I love this approach, but even too much of that is a bad thing.

When you fill yourself with the same things everyone else is consuming, you will never reach your creative potential.

When you go to the buffet, you fill up your plate and probably even go back for seconds. Just keep filling the plate. Dessert? Sure, why not.

Afterwards you feel bloated and tired, right? You ate too much.

You can apply this concept toward the content you consume.

This is not to say stop reading altogether.

Or maybe you need to.

You have to be completely honest with yourself.

This means asking some really tough questions.

  • Are you really procrastinating?
  • Are you a content curator or a content creator?
  • Are you reading books about leadership instead of actually leading?

I don’t know about you, but it’s time to quit reading (or talking) about the work and start doing the work. It’s time to call out procrastination and not rationalize it away.

Don’t Worry About Platform. (Focus On THIS Instead.)

Over the last few years, there has been an unhealthy obsession with platform building.

No matter if you are big or small, it seems like everyone assumes that “you need a platform” or that you need “to grow your platform.”

But the truth is you don’t.

Not at all.

You don’t need your own self-hosted website.

You don’t need to be on Twitter or Facebook or whatever other social media platform, either.

You just have to create work that is either remarkable or great. (Preferably both.)

Good work won’t cut it.

And let’s face it—this is where the REAL pressure lies.

Ever heard of Sturgeon’s Law? It applies here.

Author and critic Theodore Sturgeon stated “90 percent of everything is crap.”

Sounds harsh, I know.

Not saying it is completely (or always) true, but let’s face it–we are flooded with content and information.

And most of it isn’t worth your time, right?

Use Sturgeon’s Law to your advantage.

Here’s how you can apply this concept to your own work.

If you want to create something great, 90% of the time it won’t happen on a whim.

90% of the time, finishing something will take you much, much longer than you think it will.

Be picky. Develop your sense of taste and be really, really honest with yourself.

Platforms don’t really come into the equation here, do they.

If anything, most of the time, platform building is a serious distraction (if not the number one distraction) from doing REAL work.

Focusing on platform before creating great work is the same as putting the cart before the horse.

Seriously, what matters is that you create great, remarkable work.

People will take notice, I promise.

Create more great work. And then more. And more.

This isn’t about building a Wizard of Oz-like platform filled with slick website plugins, amazing popups that convert, and demonstrating your social media prowess.

The person with the slickest website and the most Twitter followers doesn’t win.

Rather, it’s about shipping your work. And failing. And experimenting. And building again. And tweaking. And shipping more work.

When you create great work, you can share it however you’d like.

Great, remarkable work opens many different doors.

There are over a BILLION websites out there. Do you really think that you only have ONE approach for how you share your work with others?

It’s time to get creative. It’s time to move forward instead of copying what everyone else is doing.

Marketing strategy for a product is not something you cut and paste. (And neither is creativity for that matter.)

There is no perfect formula for everyone, despite what some say.

Pay attention to who is actually creating great work and support it.

Ignore those who spend the majority of their time talking about work.

Anything you do online can likely be justified as “platform building” but it is really just procrastination.

Talk is cheap. Hustling like crazy costs you something.

So what are you going to do?

There are three words that are a good indicator if you are on the right track.

Three simple words that separate the wannabes from the veterans.

“Real artists ship.” Steve Jobs

How do you feel about platform building? Is it a distraction from doing real work or a valuable tool that helps you? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

5 Things To Do When You Don’t Feel Like Writing

Let’s face it, there are some days where you simply would rather juggle rattlesnakes than put words on the page.

This is normal.

This is all part of the process.

Every single writer on the planet feels like this at times.

So what can you do about it? (I highly recommend not throwing your computer, even if you want to.)

1. Talk it out.

There are many voice dictation software apps you can use. One of the best is Dragon Dictation (free for iOS and Android). Is it perfect? No, it’s not. But it can be really handy. I wrote a good portion of this book using this approach. It definitely works. So if you’ve got a commute, instead of listening to music, now you can just listen to the sound of your own sweet voice.

2. Hit the road. 

A change of scenery can do wonders. Instead of working at your desk, go to the coffee shop. Go to the library. If the weather is nice, write outdoors. Writers–myself included–often spend too much time alone. You have to interact with other people in REAL life, not just the ones in your head.

3. Write anyways.

This is what separates the real writers from the amateurs. Maybe you feel you have nothing to say. In most of those cases, it is really just fear and you need to get your thoughts down on paper. Have a “inspiration file” filled with prompts and ideas. Copy out a chapter or two of a book that you really admire. There are a million ways to get the creative ball rolling.

Even just a few words on the page is better than nothing. Morning pages by Julia Cameron is a great way to get into the “write anyways” habit. Writing only when you’re inspired is a fantastic way to never finish anything.

4. Watch a movie.

You have to be really careful with this one or you’ll find yourself spending hours on Netflix. Some writers are more visual, so watching a movie can be a good way to get the creative juices flowing. Here’s the catch: If you’re going to do this, you’ve GOT TO TAKE NOTES. No mindless vegging on the couch. You must stay engaged and keep your mind moving, okay?

5. Listen to music.

There’s something incredible about music that can move you in ways that even words can’t express. Since creativity often leads to more creativity, why not give your favorite record a spin? It’s a really simple way to find some inspiration.

But here’s the VERY BEST way…

In my experience, the BEST way to write when you don’t feel like it is to have some accountability.

Let’s face it, when you set a deadline and there is no consequence for breaking it, you are much more likely to let the deadline get pushed back.

This nasty habit completely destroys your confidence.

Soon you start to wonder if you can ever finish anything.

When you have rock-solid support and accountability, you suddenly have extra momentum around your writing.

To help with this, In the next week I’ll be starting the next 90-Day Writers Mastermind with my good friend Kent Sanders. Kent is one of the brightest and most creative people I know. He’s also the author of The Artist’s Suitcase and editor for The Good Men Project.

For just the cost of a cup of coffee you can have not one but TWO writing coaches cheering you on.

Pretty awesome, right?

Don’t you want to see how much you can grow over the next three months instead of staying stuck?

You’ll get a private coaching session with Kent and myself as well as group calls and we’ll even edit some of your writing too.

It’s time to step forward with confidence and say, “I’m a real writer. This is not a hobby.”

Hurry as we are limiting the group to a maximum of 6 people so you can get the personal attention you deserve.

Do you have any tips for what you do when you don’t feel like writing? Please share in the comments.

 

Helpful Tips For Creating Impressive Headlines

Young funny man in glasses writing on typewriter

Today’s guest post is by Chassie Lee. She is the Content Expert for eReflect – creator of Ultimate Vocabulary which is currently being used by tens of thousands of happy customers in over 110 countries.

 

There’s no doubt most bloggers struggle to create unique headlines. You must grab a reader’s attention and the headline is by far the best way to engage a reader.

What makes a reader skip over a headline? Remember that people consume content superficially. They scroll down their Facebook feed mechanically, only stopping when something shocks or impresses them. When all headlines look the same, and nothing piques their interest anymore.

Whatever the cause, you can find the solution by learning to create compelling headlines that get your content noticed.

Know Your Audience Really Well.

One reason that headlines are ignored is that they’re not tailored or optimized for the intended audience.

You must have a very clear idea of who it is you’re writing for. You need to know what they’re concerned with, what their problems are, and how you can present them with the solution they need.

See what you audience responds well to by looking at posts and other online media they have shared, liked, and commented on, both on your own website and on those you’re writing for.

Use Proven Headline Strategies.

Effective headlines tap into the science of human psychology. Headlines should evoke curiosity, include numbers, be specific, ask questions the audience cares about, and include the element of surprise.

People are drawn in when you surprise and challenge them, and even more attracted by the opportunity to express their membership or exclusivity in a community.

That’s why headline formulas like these really work:

“Little known ways to write better headlines”

“Create headlines like David Ogilvy”

“5 tips for writing headlines people will love”

“Who else wants better headlines for their blog posts?”

“Little known ways to __________” speaks to the human need for becoming better and finding out things that other people don’t know. People compete with each other in many ways. Success is about going to places others don’t or can’t, and these “little known ways” imply an exclusivity, a promise of achieving that success.

The same applies for the second formula. “Create [something] like [top example you can think of]” is a phrase that piques our curiosity and ties into our aspirations to be as good as the best people in our chosen field, sport, niche, or neighborhood.

Six-Word Headlines Work Best

According to a KISSmetrics usability research reveals that the ultimate headline is six words long.

Readers tend to only read the first three and last three words when looking at a headline, so making it six words long allows you to hit the sweet spot. Users will read your headline, get hooked, and read further.

The Ultimate Headline Formula

Jeff Goins says there’s an ultimate headline formula for creating headlines that rock every single time.

That formula is as follows: Numbers + Adjective + Target Keyword + Rationale + Promise

Here’s an example:

5 research-backed ways to create attractive headlines people will love

Experiment with several formulas to find those that resonate best with your audience. Write shorter and longer headlines using different formats, and check the click rates. Most importantly, invest time in creating your headlines. You might have to write 50 headlines that don’t work before you come up with one that grabs your readers’ attention, but that’s time you won’t regret.

David Ogilvy said that on average only eight in ten readers will bother reading a headline. Of those eight, just two will read further.

Make sure you give your readers a reason to read on.

 

What is your biggest struggle with writing headlines? Share in the comments.

 

Dear writer with countless half-finished stories

Man dreaming over books

I know how you feel. It absolutely sucks to have a pile of half finished works laugh at your face. The scribbled sentences start to taunt you and the blank pages stare back with contempt.

Or maybe you are just starting out and you are paralyzed with indecision, afraid to start.

But the truth is, no writer on the planet has everything figured out, even if they act like they do (especially online).

Fear plays a very large role in the writing process.

Stories change as you write them. No writer writes the book they first envision in their head. It is common for your interests to change in a blink of an eye — especially if you spend too much time online. (Here are two ways to spend more time writing instead of spinning your wheels.)

The best writing advice in the world is really simple: just write.

But please allow me to elaborate — you have to be willing to suck. Even when every part of you wants to stop. Even when you start to hate every word you’ve written, you have to finish.

The perfectionist inside your head is your worst enemy. (Click to Tweet)

You do not really know until you finish something if a piece is good or not. But the inner critic acts as if you know how the puzzle looks before it is actually finished.

Ignore the inner critic and keep your head down. Put words on the page.

Don’t forget that 99.999% of all rough drafts absolutely suck. They do. Rewriting and editing is what makes your stories shine. But no editor can help you with a story that is not finished. Complete the rough draft. You will make it better.

Clarity only comes with hard work. You must put in the work. There is no substitute. This could mean spending 8 hours on a blog post that gets no traction. Spending a month on a short story that is mediocre.

Pull a page out of the pile and just finish the story. You’ve got this. Just keep writing. Whatever you do, keep writing.

Need more help? I can help you by offering you practical, useful ways to finish your work and grow as a writer.

Why Hating Your Job Is A Good Thing

 

man-person-people-emotions-large

So let’s say you hate your job.

It’s okay, you can admit it.

Statistics say around 2/3 people feel this way.

Punch in. Punch out. The days blur together and turn into weeks and months.

Close your eyes to blink and years have flown by.

When Friday or Saturday comes along, you’re actually a little happy. A couple days of freedom.

But when Sunday evening comes, you are the ultimate Debbie Downer as Monday is just a few hours away.

You may even feel a little crazy–but you’re really not.

In this case, hating your job and feeling crazy is a gift.

Your frustration is a gift. It is much better than just being unhappy.

Most people choose being unhappy because it is familiar. 

Being unhappy is actually not even scary; you’ll try to distract yourself or even numb the pain.

Pick up a bottle, watch TV, surf the web. There are a million ways to drift along.

But when you hate your job, hiding how you really feel only works for so long.

When you settle for something, you know you are not really alive.

You know you are meant to do more.

Please don’t ignore what you know you are meant to do.

It’s time to do something about it!

Use your frustration as fuel to fire yourself up and start experimenting.

Can you relate to this?