Tips to Kickstart Writing

Back to school. Back to work.

Sun is setting on another glorious summer

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t take the summer off. I might not have the same writing output during the summer months, but I’m still around. Anytime I slip away, I schedule posts to publish while I am gone, but places that require real-time presence slip a bit.

My established clients are okay with that, but ultimately will only stay my clients if I come home at some point. Their social media pages need to stay active.  If their pages aren’t active, then their presence diminishes. Which means a potential downturn in sales. Less money on hand means cutting costs, first up of which would be me. So yes, I still maintain their presence, even if the effort isn’t quite as thorough.

Now the kids are back in school though, leaving me with more time on my hands. Sure, that means that extracurriculars will be starting up, but that doesn’t fill the daytime hours. And it certainly doesn’t refill coffers spent on lazy days, road trips, and adventure. It’s time I looked at adding more writing to my days. How can I do that? More importantly, how can I do that and get paid?

Tips to Kickstart Writing

Time to get back into the swing of things and focus on writing again!
  • submit queries to journals, magazines, and newspapers
  • write poetry, short stories, creative nonfiction pieces to submit to contests
  • join a networking group to meet new people/potential clients
  • finish editing my book (or yours!) to get it ready for publication
  • take another writing class to finish my Creative Writing certificate program (check with your local library, community college, or city to see what writing courses might be out there for you)
  • contact old potential clients to see how their social media platforms are holding up
  • ask other writers if they have any connections they may be willing to share
  • advertise services;
    • via blog, Facebook page, on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc
    • create a website outlining services
    • once other social media links are updated and in place, share links to them on other platforms

Note that YOU can do any of these things as well. This is about motivating me today, but I hope to motivate any other writers out there who might need the kick in the pants that I do. Of course if you are looking for someone to write blog posts, magazine articles, schedule Facebook updates, tweet or any number of other tasks, contact me today! I’m sure we can figure something out. Until then…

Happy writing!

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A Guest Post: The Hitch…

Done!

I just finished a difficult article that challenged my writing skills, and sense of diplomacy. Writing skills might be self-explanatory, but diplomacy, you ask? Yup. Let me explain.

A Guest Post

Everyone says it’s good to accept guest post roles on other blogs, and to feature them on your own. And I agree. Unfortunately, the process is not always as smooth as it could be. That was the case for me with this particular article.

Now I should say that I did do my research beforehand. After receiving the offer, I checked out the third party’s website, read google reviews on the company, checked them out on Houzz and the BBB. They seemed like a decent company, offering a quality service. So I advised my client that it would be a fine idea to go ahead with the project. We exchanged emails and agreed upon content for each other’s blogs. No problem.

The Hitch

The hitch came when the person I originally dealt with disappeared and was replaced by someone new. Things seemed to go downhill from there. I can roll with the punches though, so I kept on. In for a penny, in for a pound, right?

I researched and wrote an article for the other party. I do that all the time, so fairly straight forward process. Check! Step one done, I sent it to them. Within the week, it was published on their blog. Yippee! I followed this up with my due diligence and flogged links to the article on my client’s social media sites. Check, check! Can’t say I don’t know how it is supposed to work.

The Switch

Then I waited to hear about the reciprocal blog. And waited. My new contact got in touch with me. They assured me the article was coming. They had just been bogged down, but were on it. Of course …. In the interim, I continued to write articles for my client, worried I may have just wasted their time. Sure enough though, an article came through.

My relief was quickly snuffed when I read the article though. Keep in mind that the article was to be featured on my client’s blog. And I pride myself on the quality of the content published there. All articles are read and re-read by myself before publishing, any mistakes made get addressed quickly and professionally, and I do my best to ensure that my client is happy with what I write. This article was not up to those standards. Not even the pictures they sent me really worked with what I wanted to put forth.

fudge…

The Solution

What would you do in that situation? I couldn’t publish it as it was. I thought about cutting my losses and chalking it up to lesson learned. But the third party had made the effort to get me something. And they had stuck to their side of the bargain by publishing our article. Plus, they followed up with the first email with another asking when it would be published. So I made the decision to see how best I could salvage the situation (after agonizing over it for a few days).

After doing a little tuck tail, apologizing to my client for the less than ideal outcome, and almost completely revamping the article, I published it today. I included snippets of what was originally sent to me, but filled in many of the holes with quotes from our resident expert, plus info from other experts in the field. Really though, I could have skipped the middle man and written the entire article by myself, foregoing the angst, multiple emails back and forth, and a heap of edits. I still feel like it was a good exercise, but unfortunately, got bogged down with being offered an inferior product in the exchange.

What did I get out of the deal? Well, I lost wages, as I didn’t think it fair to charge my client for all the excess time spent dealing with the issue. But in the grand scheme of things, I was given the compliment that my writing is good. Better than good, as my client loves my work and appreciates the voice I bring to their blog. And the third party also commented along the way that they like our blog’s content and style as well, hence why they sought us out in the first place.

So perhaps what I have learned is that I need to value my personal writing style and voice a little more. I put time and effort into my writing and it shows. You cannot fake quality. And I’ve got it. If you want it, you’ll have to earn and deserve my skills. Because it’s not worth my time to just throw it away in the future. While I won’t rule out doing another guest post or accepting one on mine or a client’s blog, I certainly won’t accept just anything.  Networking is valuable, but not if it doesn’t offer a return for the efforts. And I am better than just throwing out my writing to just anyone for free.

As a writing teacher once told me—a writer can die from ‘exposure’. No need to make that mistake again.

Pursue Awesome

This week a woman looked me in the eyes, really stared into my soul trying to see… me. She was looking; searching for meaning, depth, story. And then she smiled.

Just as she expected, it was there. She didn’t learn my story, but she knew there was one hidden in the quiet way I returned her gaze unflinchingly.

“You are a shining star! Keep on Manifesting your Magnificence!”

Could she see the tears I’ve shed along the way? The doubt I’ve felt on my path? The waiting for life to begin? Or was it the fact that I was there at all? I stood in front of her with the words ‘Be Bold’ echoing in my head. Could she hear them? Was she saying them?

‘Dream big,’ her eyes whispered.

Dream Big.

I was at a book launch and inspirational evening hosted by TOAST! London. They invite visionaries to speak and share their stories of how they beat the odds, struggle against life and its challenges, and thrive, supporting their communities along the way. The woman who shook my hand was one of the authors in the book; a trailblazer in her own right. And she recognized something in me that spoke to her.

Do it. Take the step. Push yourself. Don’t be afraid. You will thrive. I have faith in you. Shed your insecurities and have faith in you too.

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Pursue Awesome

Talking Social

CLC Feast
Great food is an excellent start to good conversation

This summer I attended a staff appreciation barbeque for a client. The hosts are great people and I had a lovely evening, chatting with guests, enjoying a campfire and dining on a sumptuous meal. Yes, I had seconds of everything, including dessert. It was that good.

As I am a sucker for delicious fare, I had to ask the chef about the yummy dishes he had prepared. Well, one thing led to another and the conversation swung around to social media. Chef Chad was in the process of setting up a new catering business. He had worked in several upscale restaurants over the years, but was hungering for a change. Starting his own business was great, but getting the word out about it was a different matter entirely. He was curious about what I did for CLC Tree Services. I don’t think he realized what he was getting into when he asked.

When I have the opportunity to speak about the merits of social media with people not overly familiar with it I have been known to go on, and on, and on… It apparently is a bit of a passion. So when Chad asked, “What’s a blog?”, I launched into my spiel.

As you are reading this, you probably already have some idea, but if you are new to blogging, give me a moment to share my passion. Old forms of advertising are falling by the wayside. The Yellow Pages have shrunk and their circulation is being curtailed. When people want to find information on something or locate a business, they pull out their smartphones and google it. Companies who do not have a presence online are losing out on this huge market where not only can you advertise that you exist, but you are can establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field, whether that be tree services, real estate, plumbing or junk removal (yes, I have worked for all of these clients). If you have a business, you need that market of people who want your goods or services. Social media helps them find you.

So how does it work? For starters, you can set up a website. Websites serve as a great place to let people search for what you have to offer. They want baby clothes? You’ve got them! Their children want to take an art class? You’ve got classes starting next week. In theory, it gives the public easy access to what they want to know.

BUT what about your competition? There might be dozens, hundreds or thousands of other companies out there who are offering the same or similar services/products. When people go searching for something and turn up a million hits, typically they will only peruse the first page or two of results. Where you want your business to be is on that first page. You have to be, or else consumers will never find you (unless they already know you exist and are specifically seeking you out). How do you up your chances of getting onto that all-important first page in search results? Search engines have to find you searchable.

Have I lost you yet? Stay with me. I’m getting to an important point here.

So search engines are constantly scouring the net for information. No easy task, as there are over 4.7 billion indexed pages out there. Mind-boggling in scope really. Finding your business on the web is equivalent to searching for that proverbial needle in a haystack.

Don’t be discouraged!

There is a way to increase your chances of being found. Most search engines tend to return local sites first (if you allow them to know your location or keep some cookies). That helps. Having a current website gives them a landing space too. The fresher your content, the more recently the web crawlers will visit your site. But if all you have is a website that was updated months or years ago, then I hate to tell you, but the search engines won’t have visited. And if they forget you exist, they aren’t going to be informing those desired customers you want that you exist either. You have to remind them that you exist.

“How?” you ask.

You have to be active. No one experts your website to be a constantly changing thing, so that is where social media comes in. The best way to be remind those search engines you exist is by publishing fresh content regularly. And there are lots of ways of doing that. I bet you can think of a few without me even having to tell you. There’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, not to mention the humble blog. Every time you publish a status update, picture, tweet or whatever, the search engines immediately visit. The more you do that, the more often they visit.

Are you getting it yet? I think this is where overwhelmed people often have light bulbs start to glow in their heads. In order to be noticed, you have to make yourself noticeable. Makes sense, right?

I should note that quality is still important. It is one thing to make a presence and have web crawlers visit, but who you really want to visit are those customers. And in order for them to visit and convert to a fan and customer, you need to impress them with your quality of service and expertise.

If it seems like a lot to process, it is. And I realize it can be hard to find the time to jump into social networking, when you already have a company to run. I get it. But every little bit helps. And sometimes that means asking for help. Hence how I got involved in social networking myself. I understand enough about it to play the game. I am not necessarily active everywhere nor even on every social platform, but I do what I can. And as I am a writer by trade, I can help companies who would like to create a bit more presence do that. I blog. And I blog for others who need someone who is a bit more of an expert on the platform than they are. I have the time to research, write and edit articles on a wide variety of topics.

There are a few people who appreciate that enough that I have been working with them for a while. Now Chef Chad is interested too. I don’t profess to be an expert on everything, but I can manipulate words well enough to make an impact. Some people call me wordy, but when I start talking social media, I’ve had more than one audience interested. And if that gets me a few new clients at the end of the day, I guess we can all be happy about that.

After my conversation with Chad this summer, it got me invited to a #FoodBlogTour in Chatham, so I don’t regret a thing. More delicious Field to Fork meals for me makes me plump and happy. And happy to keep talking social media to whomever wants to listen.

If talking about social media gets me brisket like this, than I'll never shut up
If talking about social media gets me brisket like this, then I’ll never shut up

Are you talking? Who’s listening?

Appreciation

I just need to share. I have said it before, but I love what I do. I really do. Life seems to be giving back to me and I am tickled beyond belief. I hope I’m not tempting fate, but my happy dances just keep on coming and I’m thrilled!

So what’s going on? I have connected with three new clients since the spring, all of whom I consider quality companies who care about their communities, their employees, and the world. What’s not to love about that?! A long-time client has expanded what I am doing for them. Works for me! And they came up with a neat idea for some blog posts, which will get me out and meeting even more great people. They would like me to interview some of the companies whom they work and network with.

Wouldn’t you jump at the chance to meet more people whom someone you admire thinks highly of? I did. And I met with the first company this week. Today I published a post on local business Hedley Bennett Truck Parts for CLC Tree Services. I had promised the owner I would send a link to the article and promptly emailed it to her.

This is the part that made me proud to be a writer. This evening I received a heart-warming letter from the Hedley’s wife Pattie, which I have to share;

Dear Katherine       
As I write this I wipe tears from my eyes.   What you wrote is wonderful.   God your good at what you do !!!!!!!!!!!!!    I hope our paths cross in the future.  If I have the opportunity to refer you to someone I certainly will.   Please know you are always welcome and it was a pleasure talking with you. 
Hudsonly  Pattie

I am glowing. There are no other words. That level of appreciation touches me to the core. It makes me so proud and brings a hint of a tear to my own eye. I do my best when I write and apparently, my best is pretty darn good. Writing for a living seems like the best thing in the world I could do right now.

Thank you Pattie. You have made my night.

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