Am I the only one who tricks them selves (them self? Does not sound correct.) into working on an important writing project? It is a well-known and abundantly documented fact that writers are great at the fine art of procrastination. We agree on that. We love to write. We do other work so that we are able to write. But we also find other things to do in order to put off the WIP (work in progress) that we truly care about.
Some of us write stuff we do not want to write so that we can write the stuff we want to write.
But I have this odd technique of tricking myself into working on my WIP. I tell myself that once I complete the getting-paid-for-it assignment, I will just open the file that holds my WIP for a minute. Don’t need to stay there and work…just going to take a quick look.
Insert sneaky laugh right here. Maybe add some ugly hand wringing?
And every. single. time. The WIP grabs me and before I know it my fingers are moving the cursor and deleting a word here, adding a perfect phrase there, and I am deep into writing mode and LOVING it.
Or HATING it. Either way…I am writing. I am working on my WIP. So the “P” in WIP is happening. Progress is being made. Bit by bit. But it IS happening!
Did you silently sing that title to the tune of Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It”? Good, that’s how it sounded in my head too. But my pitch had nothing to do with Cherry Chap Stick (or kissing).
On this journey as a freelance writer who really would rather not be so “free”, I have read countless articles about how to sell myself to potential clients, agents and publishers. We are supposed to come up with great new ways to express our ideas and the goals of our clients, in words that will catch the attention of the reader.
When we have a new idea, we get to ‘pitch’ it to our client or potential client. I think that is one of my favorite parts of watching the Mad Men series. I love the tension in the room as the ad men and women do their best to convince the client that they have an awesome and amazing idea for their next commercial or print ad.
I am still giddy about a recent small success in this area. I say it is small because it really is. The pay is low and my idea did not increase the pay at all…BUT my idea did turn the uninteresting writing job into one that I enjoy and smile about now. So that’s a huge plus, right? Here is how it happened…
I was recently hired by a pet supply company to write for their website blog for a small payment on each post. They have published 3 or 4 of my informational/educational style blog posts so far and that was fine. It is a business website and I sent them articles with little or no personality showing through because that is what they asked for. I have written hundreds (yes hundreds) of articles in this style for businesses over the last 2½ years. It is simply a matter of finding the subject, doing some research and pulling it all together in a neat little package.
But then one night I was looking for some bedtime reading because I’d finished my pile of library books. I had shelved a bunch of books from my mom’s collection after she passed away 2 years ago and among them was “Marley & Me” by John Grogan. I had not seen the movie that was made from the book, (I don’t think) and it was not on my “musty read” book list because I figured it would be too sweet and syrupy. I pulled the book from the shelf and found that my mom had inserted a newspaper clipping inside the front cover. It was a book review and interview with the writer of “Marley & Me”. Something about his picture and the article made me want to give the book a try and I ended up reading over half the story by the time my eyes were too sleepy to stay awake.
I loved the personal and natural way the writer described his life with his crazy, misbehaving dog. It made me thankful for my silly dog Layla, also a Labrador mix, and his experiences felt very familiar in many ways.
Sometime during the night I came awake with the thought that I could write a different style of pet blog for my pet supply client that could attract more readers if it was personal and real, like the book I was reading. I loved writing about my dog on my own blog once in a while, but had to remind myself not to go overboard and get my readers tired of dog stories. This would be so fun, to be able to write my own true experiences in a creative way and be paid for it! Could it work?
I did not know if the business would care for this idea at all. They may not think that it would fit them or be professional enough for a business product website. I wouldn’t blame them at all. Who needs a mushy “I love my puppy” blog on a successful pet supply website?
Then I did something totally uncharacteristic for me…The very next morning, without over-thinking it and talking myself out of it, I wrote up a sales pitch for the idea. I reminded my client that they hired me to write articles and blog posts that would bring customers to the website so that they would stay and buy pet products. I explained my idea and said that I could include links within the posts that would lead the readers back to the products they sell. I told them that dog lovers and bloggers are very loyal readers who would return again and again if they connected with my stories. I would use search-engine-optimized-key words that would pop up when online users were looking for the items they sell. I even told them that this style of blog would add some needed warmth and personality to their website. (Yikes!) I added a sample post as an attachment. I also mentioned that I would totally understand if they thought it might not be right for them. And then I hit “Send”. Gulp.
They liked it! I wrote a pitch and they liked it!My new version of the blog went live this last week and I am still smiling big about it! It brought the website lots of comments, thanks to my great writer-friends and Facebooking friends! No, it is not going to make me any more money than the original job description and I will still do some of the posts in the informational/educational style….but, there is something about having an idea and putting it out there and be rewarded with the freedom to pursue it! One of my first goals as a young person was to write a regular newspaper column like Erma Bombeck, and this comes pretty close to what that must have felt like for her.
Got an idea? Throw that pitch out there and then close your eyes and duck. Yeah, I was always one of the last to get chosen for a softball team in school.
Susie Klein – Writer
Today it is estimated that there are over 164 million blogs online. Can you fathom that number? That is a lot of words floating around out there, popping up on laptops, desk computers and mobile devices. If you are considering creating a new blog in order to get noticed, it would make complete sense if you were to feel that it may be a bit futile. Logic says that there is simply no way that anyone would stumble across your words and make a connection with you or your business.
BUT here is an important fact about blogging. The blog world is actually many small worlds inside a huge world. Another way to put it would be that blogging is a very real community that encompasses many, many smaller communities. There are categories within categories that grow ever smaller and more precise.
The happy surprise that I have discovered in the blogging culture is that very real and honest connections can be formed between people on opposite coasts of the United States or on the other side of the world. It is one of the glories of technology. We have this ability at our fingertips, literally!
How can this happen when there are well over 164 million people sitting at keyboards sending out their words? Wouldn’t we just continue to bounce around from one site to another and become so lost in the mass that true relationships have little chance? Could your tiny business blog really show up on the computer screen of a real live customer and bring you a sale?
I will answer those questions by saying that the connections from one screen to another happen all the time and yes, your next customer could be out there ready to spend money on your homemade jewelry, custom painted cars or your latest book. People are online 24 hours a day looking for ways to spend money or meet new and interesting people. Your blog will pop up and be noticed by just as many people as any other blog would.
The key is to hold the attention long enough to make that connection and cause them to come back again and again. Bloggers love to refer other blogs to readers. They are a generous kind of people because they understand the small beginnings and the desire to be noticed and read. When a blog reader finds a site they like, they will look at the blog-roll on that site to see who that blogger reads. Or an interested reader will check out the other people who left comments and find new blogs that way. Your readers will get to know the same people that you are reading and cross friendships and customers will begin to happen. If blogging is not your thing or you don’t have enough time to keep your small business blog fresh, then you may consider hiring a blog-writer to do it for you. (Pick me! Pick me!)
If you create a business website and add a tab or page for a blog, this will draw a potential customer to linger a bit longer on your website. They will see the person behind the business and a connection will begin to form. Your site will be bookmarked and mentioned to their friends. A community will emerge as you communicate back and forth, and the smaller world within the expansive world of the World Wide Web has begun to form. Just like that!
Most customers click to find the next purchase, rather than opening the Yellow Pages of our parents time. When they enter a word into their search engine of choice, your website with a blog has every chance of showing up on their screen. The more you talk about your product or service on your blog, they more chances you have of reaching the customer’s eyes.
Do it. Set up that new blog on your site. Blogging is the new version of the neighborhood gossip. The place to go to find out whatever you need to find out and then to pass the news on to the next person.
No, I have not enrolled in more college courses. But I am always learning, even at the rip old age of 58. As a freelance writer, I find myself doing research on a large variety of subjects with each new writing assignment that comes my way.
Today my laptop screen is full of sticky notes regarding dairy cow vaccinations and disinfectant udder wipes. I am not a farmer and I do not live in the country, but one of my clients requires topic headings in the category of large and small animal supplies. So I find myself typing “Hoof and foot care” into my search engine box. I am learning so much about cattle, swine and poultry. I feel like I have enrolled myself in farmer school!
Another client of mine sells baby gift baskets. This led to many articles and product descriptions about a season of life that I left over 25 years ago. My kids are grown-ups and I do not have grandchildren yet. But I know about cloth diapers and the way they have made a huge comeback and look totally different from the cloth diapers I refused to use nearly 30 years ago!
Besides doing research on writing subjects that I am assigned, a writer must be continually learning about technology. Online jobs require a constant learning curve as we strive to keep up with the swiftly evolving techno resources and jargon all around us. I have struggled with one level of technology after another and I always feels so proud of myself when I finally “get it” and my brain has gained a new bit of knowledge. I enjoy the task of figuring out how to accomplish a new level of computer abilities. It is like a puzzle and once I grasp the concept, I feel like I can do anything!
Ever increasing knowledge is what keeps us young and sharp. I do know where my strengths and weaknesses are and have accepted the areas that are not going to grow no matter how I wish they would. Math turns my head to mush and brings on panic attacks. Numbers simply refuse to stay in my head and I am OK with that. Calculators have solved that deficiency for me. Another great example of the beauty of technology right? Yay for technology!
Who knows what I will be researching next week or the week after. I am happy to try anything, jewelry, antiques, furniture, marriage, family dynamics or theology. Just point me to the subject you want an article about and I will go for it!
For most writers the words come naturally. The love for writing began because it felt good to write. It is not hard labor to record thoughts and hit keys. Our minds are usually overflowing with ideas, scenarios and half-thoughts that need to come out or we feel like a balloon with too much air, ready to burst.
We tap away at our computers, laptops and mobile devices. Some even scribbling in journals, steno pads and spiral notebooks. The words come and spill over one another in a hurry.
The work of a writer is not getting the words out. It is putting them in the right order and allowing them to create a voice. A distinctive cadence that will be recognized as yours alone. If we work too hard and too carefully on the words, they begin to lose life and become stilted and cardboard. But we can’t just spill them out and let them land any old way either.
Our work and our pleasure is in the playing with the words. arranging, rearranging. reading aloud, letting them sit for a week and picking them up again with fresh eyes and ears. Do we hear ourselves? We try to judge our own words with an unbiased eye. Like turning your head and then looking quickly in the mirror to “catch yourself by surprise”. It can’t be done.
My written words are my babies. I birthed them, dressed them and arranged them. I grow attached to them. This is the dangerous part, we are told. We must be willing to “kill our little darlings”. Not grow too involved with a sweet sentence or precious paragraph. How do we do that?
This is being written after a day of writing in other areas and the words have tumbled out with little forethought or plan. Because writing begets writing. The more you write, the more you can write.