To write or not to write?

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Musicians have the 12 Days of Christmas, we writers have the 21 Days of Christmas. 

How come writers get to have 21 days?

When a musician achieve rockstar status, they have people to help promote them. Writers are a different breed. We have to continually promote ourselves. Unlike musicians, bad PR for a writer could spell a death sentence.

Steve Roller, founder of The Copywriter Cafe, at http://www.copywritercafe.com, decided to share some advise he has learned over the years to help increase our business. On Dec. 6th, Steve started to give 1 activity a day to help build marketing skills. He keeps the cost low, helps improve our writing skills, and teaches how to make an impression on your prospective clients. He will give his last tip on Dec. 26.

Steve’s plans are to write an ebook, outlining everything he’s covered so far. He will include sample scripts, letter templates, questions to ask, positioning tips, and pricing guidelines. 

He has asked us to try one or two ideas to generate some quick copywriting business and cash flow. Some of these tips are as simple as writing a letter or how many times to make contact to ensure a hot lead. Others require some thought and ingenuity. Most of the tips are designed to push the threshold of our comfort zones. 

I have worked on almost everyone of his tips so far. 

And I am here to tell you, they work. For the potential clients I have reached out to, almost 1/3 have responded. That is a 138% increase in my normal response rate. 

I cannot tell you how many times I have implemented advise from Steve and seen my bottom line go up. 

With as much I have read, listened, and watched of other great copywriters, Steve is my go to man. Not only is Steve my mentor, he is a all around good guy. 

Happy writing everyone and Merry Christmas.

To write or not to write?

It seems a long time since I have written on writing. I think its because I have started to use this site for more than just writing about writing. I have decided to start writing within the niches I hope to write copy for. I even created a schedule for which days I will be blogging about which topics. 

Sunday — school
Monday — golf
Tuesday — writing
Wednesday — gardening
Thursday — misc
Friday — running/fitness
Saturday — holiday decorating

The writing group I am in approved of my decision to branch out from my mundane rituals. Its nice to know I have the support of so many people. They assured me I will find my voice faster if I put my work out there on a daily basis.

I have many reasons for writing this blog. To find my voice is just one. Conquering my fear of people reading my work, the fear of talking about myself, and getting my work recognized are a few more. The list is long. 

I have mentioned my voice over the last few posts. It is the sole purpose most of us write in the first place. We get tired of hearing that nagging repetitious drone in our head. Writing is one way to silence it. To relieve it of its concern. To give life to it. 

The hardest critic anyone has is themselves. Nothing we ever do is good enough. At least according to ourselves. I feel this way about my writing. It has always been a source of pride and disappointment to me. I feel pride in my work, because I know how to follow the rules. And disappointment, because no one has really taught me how to break them to improve. 

I would say my biggest fear is writing about myself. Having to put personal feelings in there. I believe this is closely linked with having people read it. Even when I am in a relationship, I find it hard to discuss some things. To write about and let people read them, well, that’s enough to make me piss myself. 

Not that I am anyway ashamed of who I am, I just find the thought of talking about myself counterintuitive and a little self righteous. Most people have their own concerns to worry about, why bother with someone else’s. Then it dawned on me, maybe to get some perspective in our own lives. 

I have my blog site attached to all of my sites, professional and personal. If I refer a potential client to a site, I know at least they will be able to find my blog page. When I write in my blog, it is nothing like what I do for work. There are some aspects of writing that cross over, but there are others that are completely different. 

Recognition is a key element in the kind of writing I would like to do to get paid. Well, all writing is about recognition. For copy, it would be nice to know that my writing speaks for itself. A client is talking with someone at a convention and the other person has heard that their company has increased revenue by 110%. They ask my client how, and he says, its my copywriter. Here, let me give you his email address. Boom, another client. 

They joys of the niches I want to write for, it that there are so many companies, I won’t have to worry about crossover or interfering with any business. Most of the companies that I want to write for are geological separate, so it won’t hinder anyone’s business. 

These are my concerns and hopes.

Happy writing everyone.

Tis the Season

I write, because I am a writer. I try to help companies increase revenue, exposure, and their prestige. I focus on the holiday decorating companies. This is a fairly untapped niche for any writer that I know. When I first decided on writing for these companies, I asked a group in Facebook I’m in if it was a good niche. I was surprised by the overwhelming support I got from them. Everyone said it was a niche no one had ever thought to write for. I am going to share some of the things I plan to write for them. I have yet to land any clients, but Friday, I did have 3 companies call me back inquiring about my services. Enjoy.

5 Holiday Tips for a Winter Wonderland

The  joy of the holidays is upon us. Spending time with family and friends, giving the perfect gift to a loved one, and re-creating the essence of  Christmas with your decor brings a sense of warmth to the soul we can only feel this time of year.

Christmas should be spent by a yule-logged fire with family and friends, remembering Christmases pasts. Laughter, company, and the smell of evergreens should be the only things keeping a smile on your face.

Follow a few simple steps and you can relax, knowing you have created a holiday wonderland in and around your own home. Simple steps that use a little  creativity. With a little help from your family your house could be the most talked-about this holiday season.

1) Select a simple holiday theme. Bring the holidays to the inside as well as out.

2) Go big! “Less is more” does not apply around the holidays.

3) Use 2 to 3 colors for maximum effect. Silver, blue and white, or red, green, and gold are the most common.

4) Make sure your entrance is inviting. A wreath, garland, and bow will draw any eye to your home.

5) Rearrange your furniture to find a  focal point for your decorations, ideally your Christmas tree or fireplace.

If you follow these simple steps, maybe Ebenezer Scrooge will knock on your door to join the merriment.

Want the perfect bow on your presents? What should you do when a strand of lights go out? Is your table looking drab this holiday season? If you want tips on these and more, please stay tuned, and all your holiday decorating questions will be answered.

To write or not to write?

Surprise, I keep a journal, because men don’t call it a diary.

I read a post about writing 1000 words a day. Ha, I find this funny. 1000 words a day. I wish that was all I wrote a day. The journal entry alone is probably 1000. Than there are papers for school, blog posts, and rewrites. I say rewrites because in order to improve in my craft, I will read something and if I don’t like it, I will rewrite it. It could be an article, an ad, a flyer for a furniture store. I also write by hand. I use to hate writing by hand, but after years of practicing my cursive, I have come to enjoy it. It is therapeutic and studies have shown, people who write are more intelligent. 

Even though the studies say cursive writers are more intelligent, a few days back, I went through the dreaded “writer’s block”. I have a few techniques I employee when this happens, and they usually work. This time, they didn’t. When I mentioned this in my groups, everyone was very helpful in trying to help me out. I tried to do some of the exercises they recommended, all to no avail. Most I had already heard before and had tried them before I made the comment. I wasn’t sure why, but the block went on for a whole 3 days. I was just glad, that I had all my homework finished before it started. I take online classes, so all of my homework is writing. 

So what worked.

Doing Nothing. 

I mean, absolutely nothing. I put the pen down, closed the laptop, turned off the desktop, and did nothing. I guess after 14 months of writing, researching, and reading everything I could on many different topics, my mind said, “ENOUGH DUDE. I want a break.” I would start writing whenever I had an idea, at a music festival, hanging out with friends, or on a date. It didn’t matter to me. My idea was gold, and I didn’t want to lose it. Sometimes, you just have to shut it all off. I even have a pad and pen on my night stand for when I wake up, if my dreams are a little bizarre. Those are some golden treats to reread later on. They make no sense, but perfect sense. Plus I have been able to use a few of the lines that I have written in some of my work. 

Anyway, I’ve read 1000 words a day, and I do more than that. I’ve also come across the dreaded block. What have I learned? Shit happens. Everyone I talked with said they’ve also gone through it. Again, I cannot emphasize this, I am not alone. I have a very supportive group of friends and colleagues to help through my down times. What more could you ask for?

Happy writing everyone. 

To write or not to write?

To write or not to write?

I have not watched the news lately, I find it depressing and all together wrong. There in no longer any investigative journalism left in the world before a station airs something. I know that some “breaking” news needs to be covered instantly, but are we really better off with all this news, all the time. I say it is wrong because we do not report on the things needing to be reported on. We are too focused on the negative side of the news, instead of news that warms the heart. Now I know to keep ratings up, some companies think they need to feed into the fear aspect of people to get us to watch. This is a very powerful emotion to get us to tune back in, but it is not the only emotion that they should prey on. I say prey, because that is exactly what they are doing. They are preying on our base emotion of fear to misinform us. There is always two sides to a story, and when you are instantly reporting something, you only have one side, so they are not getting the correct information to us.

I have also noticed the news is like a broken record or the directions on a bottle of shampoo; repeat and rinse, repeat and rinse. I mentioned earlier I hadn’t watched the news in awhile, truthfully, it has been since the beginning of November. They were talking about how the Republican party was holding up Congress and not allowing for bipartisanship, the failure of the website for the Affordable Care Act, and President Obama’s poll numbers. That was almost a month ago. With the holiday season well under way, I thought I would tune in today to see if there were segments about the wonderful people who help donate their time to the needy this time of year, and what do I see? Republican’s strangle hold on Congress, the failure of the website, and Obama’s numbers. Really America? This is what we think is important news. Has anyone told these companies most of us get our news online these days?

Now you are probably thinking, what does this have to do with writing?

Everything.

Content is everything when it comes to writing. You have to know when your audience will stop reading, or in the case of the news channels, turn it off. I did not have the news on for more than 5 minutes, before I chose to listen to music and start writing about it. I realize that not many people read my blog, and it maybe because of the content, but I am trying to find my voice and see what actually reaches the readers. Give something personal of yourself, make sure your content is enjoyable, informative, and appealing, and add pictures. I have heard all of these things when it comes to gathering a following. I can see the merit in all of these attributes, and I will admit, that is scarier than marketing. How can I tell if what I write is enjoyable, informative or appealing? I am my hardest critic, nothing I write is ever good enough for me.

I am going to start something new in my blogs, I am going to be asking for comments to see if anyone will help me improve myself. Not just my writing, but the personal Troy. Feel free to ask anything, and I will incorporate it into my blog.

Happy writing everyone.

To write or not to write?

This post is earlier than what I am use to, but I had the urge to write more today. I have read a lot lately on what copywriting is about. It seems everyone has a different opinion about it. I read a really good article about it tonight. The woman compared copywriting to journalistic writing. It was very informative and eye opening. Most of what she said I already knew, but I did increase my knowledge a little bit. I have to admit, that is the one thing I really like about copywriting. You get to research any topic you want. I mean ANY topic. The joys of copywriting is you get to use the same format for everything you write. My one true copy was for an accounting firm and to my knowledge they are still using my control. I have done some guest blog posts and have written a few successful grants for the town I live in. 

I really want to write for professional holiday decorating companies. The companies that decorate the city streets or homes, not the inside decorating. I enjoy decorating my own home for the holidays, so I figured it would be nice to help those companies out. In my opinion, that is the true purpose of a copywriter. To help a company grow. If you help them grow, they give you repeat business. If you help them grow, they’ll give you a testimonial and you can use that to get new clients. Then the cycle just continues until you have enough business to keep you in work and money for awhile. 

I am in midst of trying to find these companies. Well, I have already found them, now I need to get them to hire me. I have sent out emails promoting my services, the next step will be to call them. I know for the companies that I am prospecting, it might not be a convenient time for them, but it could also be the perfect time for them. The holidays are among us, and now would be a good time to push their services. I’ll just keep plugging away and calling and emailing them. Everyone in the Cafe tells me, it may be a while before I do get an interested lead, but that I should just keep moving forward. Don’t let the “no” discourage me. Which it doesn’t. If it did, I would have stopped dating a long time ago.

Happy writing everyone.

To write or not to write?

To write or not to write?

Yesterday I had lunch with Steve Roller. If you have been following this blog, I mentioned Steve in a few posts. He is the creator of http://www.copywritercafe.com. I have also mentioned I have had some problems with find a client base. We sat down and discussed quiet a few things to help me overcome these obstacles.
The hardest part that I am having with finding new clients is getting a response from my emails and calls. Steve mentioned cold calls were not a reliable way to obtain clients. I had read this earlier while I was doing research of my own on this very subject. In the Cafe’s Facebook page, we have been discussing cold calls A LOT lately. It seems I am not the only person who is having this problem. Cold calling is a fine art.
I do the research, make a list, and than I incorporate it into my elevator speech. As we were talking, Steve told me maybe I shouldn’t be doing as many cold calls. I pulled out my list and went over some of the topics on it. Steve told me, with a list like that, keep doing the cold calls. You have everything you need to make sure you set up another call.
It was very reassuring to know that all the hard work I have done is on track. The one thing that would make all this better, is if the clients I want would take a chance on me.
We also discussed other aspects of our career I should be focusing on. I have a cold email template written up. Steve told me he would like to see some testimonials, a post script, and a little more of my personality in it.
With all that being said, the main point of what I learned yesterday was that it is ME that I have to pitch. This philosophy doesn’t just pertain to my work, it has to do with life.
Happy writing everyone.

To write or not to write?

To say I am accident prone is not really accurate. I am not going to deny that I haven’t had my fair share of them, but I am not clumsy or a klutz. It just seems that bad things always seem to happen to me. Of course no one sees it that way. They see it as quite the opposite. I actually have very good balance and great hand-eye coordination. I am just not as embarrassed to point out my own weakness as everyone else is. Plus everyone has a good laugh when someone they know injures themselves. Since I am the type of person who will forgo his own pride to help someone else feel good, I usually joke about myself. Minus the laughing part, writing is the same way. I have weakness. I make mistakes. Yet, I continue to write. Why? Because the only way to improve is to make them. To recognize them. To accept them. They are just as much a part of me as the color of my eyes, or my supposed ability to always cause an accident.

I subscribe to A LOT of different blogs about writing. It helps me to see how others write. It helps me to find my own voice. And sometimes it also gives me information that will help in the long run. Many of the blogs that I read are about copywriting. Some, but not enough, are just about writing in general. It seems the hottest topic lately is about creating your platform, or fan base. I am always hearing I should do this, and I should do that. I reminds me of marketing. Here I have no tips to offer. I just know that since I have started this series, I have increased the amount of my followers by about 30. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but I do not promote this. I just post it and let it go. I only talk about it with my writing groups and on this blog. So to get new followers every time I post, gives me a great sense of accomplishment.

Back to the accidents. It seems that every 2 to 3 years I end up in the hospital. My friends seem to think it is because I am clumsy. They couldn’t be more wrong. When I end up hurt around them, it is because of their actions, not mine. Do I point this out to them? No. I know it is because they have been coddled and told they do no wrong all their lives. Does this bother me? Again, no. Some people just never seem to grow. Some people seem never to be able to take off the blinders of childhood. All through out childhood and my adolescent years, I was told repeatedly that I had the skills and creativity to be a great writer. When I applied what I was told in the real world, my blinders were ripped off like the breath had been knocked out of me. I cannot tell you how many times THAT has happened to me. The breath, not the blinders. Being the 3rd child of 4, I had the privilege of seeing my parents as the amazing PEOPLE they are. Not the illusionary figures that my brothers and sister hold my parents. It never hurts me as much when the blinders get ripped off. I grow, I change, I adapt. The same with my writing.

Well i have rambled on for long enough now.

Happy writing everyone.

To write to not to write?

I was looking through the group I’m in on Facebook, Copywriter Cafe, and I realized something, I am not alone in my endeavors. There are over 500 members in the Cafe and we all have different levels of experience. It is a wonderful group to be in. We share tips, successes, failures, fears, and hopes. The other day, I posted in there that I was looking for an accountability partner. I had 4 PM’s and several comments on the thread. One even from the creator of the group, who lives a few hours away from me. I know that doesn’t seem like a lot of responses from a group of 500, but most already have partners. 

I need some accountability to make sure that I am doing what I have put in my schedule for the day. I have a tendency to stray from the schedule. The one thing that I do daily are the rote exercises. I find them relaxing for some reason. When I first started the rote exercises, I hated them. They were so boring, and at first I didn’t understand them. Now a year later, I realize they are the building blocks of what will hopefully soon be a lucrative career. 

The one thing the program and the Cafe are always saying is to write. If you have nothing to say write. Write, write, write. It seems an endless cycle. I write in my journal, I do the rote exercises, I rewrite ads, I rewrite articles. In the last year, I have gone through over 100 notebooks and about 20 pen refills. When I first started, I printed everything. Someone in the Cafe posted something on cursive, and now, I write everything. When I first started to write again, my penmanship was horrible. It reminded me of when I was first learning to write. The nuns would make me write and write and write. This went on until I was in the 6th grade. Now, my penmanship is immaculate. 

I shouldn’t be surprised, out of a 16 hour day, 9 hours of that there’s a pen in my hands. My middle and little finger have the calluses that once adorned them when I was first learning to write. I use a pen instead of a pencil, because I want what I write to be permanent. I want to be able to remember every mistake so that I can learn from it. That is why I believe that everyone tells us to write. You have to make mistakes to learn from it. Everyone I know in the Cafe are writing books. Thank you, but I think I will pass on that for the time being. 

I have noticed when I write, I tend to stray from subject to subject. Eventually, I am sure I will conquer this feat, but this blog is just about writing about writing. I plan on jumping from subject to subject here. Its free writing. I will not hinder my thoughts as I write. I will just let the words flow from my mind, to my fingers, to the page. 

Happy writing everyone. 

To write or not to write?

I wasn’t sure if I was going to get a post in this week or not. I received some terrible news yesterday. My cousin shot himself. It has been a sad day for the family and for a lot of my friends. He was an amazing person. I just wish he knew how much he was loved. He spent 6 years in the Army and served 2 tours in Afghanistan. It is a sad thing that so many of our troops have to deal with what he went through. He was the type of person that would give you the last penny in his pocket, just to see you smile.

Loosing someone makes you realize how insignificant you really are. It doesn’t matter how much of a jackass you are, you will always have an impact on someone else’s life. It also makes you see how short life really is and you shouldn’t hide out in the shadows and watch life pass you by. You have to grab life by the balls and make the most of everyday. That is why I write. It helps to get those emotions that are bottled up, out. With the loss of my cousin, I am more determined to pursue my calling in life as a writer. For this, he has my eternal gratitude. 

I know the road I will walk will be a long and lonely one, but I am prepared to make that sacrifice. We are born into this world alone and we will die alone. Hopefully, we will leave an impression on people that they will forever take with them. 

R.I.P Sgt Brian Kohr. You will be missed and forever be in the hearts of many.