Monday, December 6, 2010

The secret to success

It’s been over a month since I published an ezine and thank you to those who’ve written in asking me how I’m doing.

The fact is, November has been the busiest month for me as yet. And this is on the tail of October, where I unfortunately lost three of my clients to recession. As you know, it’s really hard on the pocket when you have a client drop off your list. So what happens when you lose three of them at one go? And how did it come about that November is my highest grossing month this year?

In short, I decided it was a great time to change tracks. I spent a few days reviewing my options and decided on two courses of action. The first was to sign up to the University of British Columbia and Sauder Business Schools’ Integrated Marketing Course. This is something I have been wanting to do for a long time, but finances and lack of time kept me from it. I now decided to take the risk and invest part of my savings into the course. 

I also decided to focus my efforts on website copywriting, something that I’ve always enjoyed doing. I sent out an email to past/current clients letting them know of my decision to further my education along with details on the direction I was planning to take my career in. 

The next thing I know is I get not one, but four new clients asking me to write their website copy.
If you’ve read books like ‘Think and Grow Rich’ and ‘The Great Awakening’, you’ll know that the following three things will get you more clients than anything else:
  • Confidence which attracts positive energy and in turn allows for good things to happen.
  • A solid work ethic.
  • An unshakable faith in your own abilities.
So the next time a client cancels a project or you find it hard to pay the bills, spend a few moments thinking of what else you can do. Take the risk, even if it means making the extra time to study or finding the extra money to pay for website redesign. Believe in yourself and your abilities and watch your earnings soar.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Investments with High Returns

There are a number of ways to invest in your career which will provide you with high returns. It is important to remember that while a lot of investment can be FREE, at times, you may need to PAY to get something that is of true value to you.

INVEST IN YOURSELF: Brian Tracy speaks often of this. In his book, Focal Point, he says that 3% of your income should be re-invested back into your learning. Whether this is a high investment or a low investment is not really the point. While it is good to have a regular figure to set aside each month into learning and knowledge gain, this may not always be possible. Work this backwards. Make a list of all the things you really want to learn, which will improve your writing and your business skills. Perhaps it’s a business writing course to help you widen your target market. Or an online marketing course to improve your marketing strategies. Once the list is complete, think of how you can best achieve them. It may mean doing some free online courses in order to save your  money for a paid business writing course. Or you can buy books and subscribe to ezines and gain your knowledge from them. Often, online courses are more affordable than a college or university held campus course. Research your options thoroughly and do what’s best for you. 

In a recent post, I mentioned losing three clients in a single month to recession. I took the opportunity to put my savings toward gaining a long-planned degree in Online Integrated Marketing. Just receiving my study material has given me the boost I need to go out and find new clients.

INVEST IN YOUR TOOLS OF TRADE: These are what you’ll be using on a daily basis. A good computer is a must. So is a printer in order to print and edit documents. Simple things like good printing paper will go a long ways in saving you money. When I first started freelancing I came across a ‘great deal’ with regards to printing paper. It was cheap and plentiful and as I always print to edit documents, I usually need a lot of it. So I bought it and within the first two days of using it, I realized my mistake. The paper was thin and absorbed a lot of ink. My cartridges (which cost far more than the paper ever would) lasted for half the amount of time they usually do! I now invest in high quality paper which uses printer ink sensibly.Rethink your working tools- notebooks, pens, pencils-  and invest in good, sturdy equipment to make your job far easier and less expensive.

INVEST IN YOUR CLIENTS: And finally, invest in your clients! They are so worth it. They are the ones who have not only trusted you to write for them, but who will also provide you with repeat business and more importantly, will refer you to their friends.  A lot of my business for example comes from referrals.

So do a good job. Go the extra mile. Be friendly and courteous. And above all, be professional. This is probably one of the greatest investments you’ll ever make.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How to Collect What's Owed to you

In October I lost 3 US clients to recession. They shut shop, all with a week's notice. It's a big blow when you realize 50% of your income has been swept out from under your feet. And it's a bigger effort to have to get newer client immediately to compensate for the loss in income.

But as you may have noticed from the silence in my newsletters and blog that I've been busy. And done it too. I'd like to share how I did it with you in my next ezine issue coming up soon. And in the meantime, here's how I collected what's due to me.

There are certain key points to remember when undertaking a project: always negotiate terms in advance, always have a signed contract outlining these terms and if possible, always get an advance before you pick up your pen.

Very few entrepreneurs and freelance agents will want to be collection agents. Or, salespeople, or marketing gurus or IT geeks. Yet, the truth of the matter is, if you are to succeed in your business, you need to know at least the basics. And one of them is debt collection.

The following are certain steps you must take to ensure you get paid your dues:

Establish financial boundaries. Don’t hesitate to bring up payment terms at your very first meeting. Most of us hesitate to ask for money, while we have no problem outlining the services we’ll offer. You are not working for free and your client does not expect you to do so. But it’s up to you to bring up the ‘money’ topic if he doesn’t.

Get it in writing. A contract or formal agreement should be established based on the terms you’ve both agreed to. The agreement should have specifics outlined and also payment terms. If you are in agreement, you may also want to include an ‘out’ clause, which lets either party break the contract on prior agreed terms.

Don’t hesitate to use terminology that is easy to understand such as ‘payment for services rendered’ or ‘retainer fees’. 

Review and ask for a signed copy. Delivering a contract is fine, but it also needs to be signed before it becomes legitimate. If need be, review it verbally with your client and then ensure you have a signed copy for your files.

Have documents on hand. Sometimes, because we pick up an ‘urgent’ project, we forget to get a contract signed and delivered. To make it easier, have a few contract and agreement copies on hand, where all you have to do is fill in the client’s details. The client can sign and scan it and return it to you by email. Once you have it, don't forget to keep your copy on file for easy access.

If you do enter into a dispute with the client, then the following may help:
  1. Designate an agent to make your calls.
  2. Consider arbitration as opposed to getting a lawyer involved. It works out less costly and usually gets resolved quickly.
  3. Distance yourself from the client who is not paying you. Let your designated associate handle this.
  4. Stay calm and focused, and do not engage in verbal or written slander or anything that could backfire on you. 
  5. Consider negotiations and be fair at all times. Get all your negotiations and agreements in writing.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Freelance Writer Wanted

A client I once wrote for, (yup, you’ve read that right) is looking for web article writers. The task is to write 800 word articles with the keyword – funeral home - appearing around 32 times within the text. The writer gets to select topics, making it a fairly easy task.

The fee is low, unfortunately only USD 15 per article. But I do happen to know the job is dead easy (excuse the pun ;) and the client definitely pays on time. Invoice him once each set of articles is complete.

If you are strapped for cash and want some extra money, please contact
and you can mention you heard his name from me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The 50 20 Rule, Which Really Works!

Have you heard of the 80-20 rule? It goes like this. It is the top 20% of your clients who contribute to 80% of your wealth; or the top 20% of your hard work which determines 80% of your success.

If you are writing for peanuts, then you are obviously focusing on the 80%, when you need to be aiming for the smaller, higher paying projects.

But time is always so limited. Raise your hand if you can honestly say you find the time to write without distraction? Mine comes in the form of a 6 and 4 year old with boundless energy. Yours may be a home that needs repair, a job that is demanding, social networking sites to which you are addicted, or endless phone calls which need to be attended to.

This is when you need to apply the 50-20 rule. I learnt this from an article by Steve Slaunwhite who in turn learnt it from marketing guru Dean Jackson. Jackson calls it the 50-minute focus technique.

It is simple and it really works. Set aside 50 minutes for your writing. It could be a new article you are working on, or a blog post that needs to be created. Set an alarm to ring after the 50 minutes are up. And then, get to work. You are not allowed to do anything else. No getting up for water, to answer the phone, or to make that cup of coffee you feel you need right away.

You will write and do nothing else. When the timer goes, take a 20 minute break. During this time, you can work, but make sure it is on another project. Check emails, sort out your finances, make a cup of coffee, tweet, network with Facebook friends, or just get up to stretch.

Try to get in 3-4 of these 50 minute work sessions into your day. They really do work. Why? Because you know after your 50 minutes, you are allowing yourself a break to do as you will. This in itself can be motivation to get you to complete your projects at hand.

What do you do to work without distraction?

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Pleasures of Reading was reading a book the other day, when my 6 year old bounded up to me and said - "Mum, reading is to think and thinking is to become."

Words of wisdom from her Grade 1 teacher and my pride knew no bounds that she remembered it and related it in the right context. The book I happened to be reading at that moment was Winifred Watson's Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. If you haven't read it, I recommend you pick up a copy. It's one of the most funniest, most thought provoking books I've read in a long time. And see if you don't identify with Miss Pettigrew in some manner.

Certain books are timeless in their storyline and writing style, and this one, first published in 1938, is one of them. By contrast, the movie is quite bland and the storyline, much changed. I know because ironically it was being aired the night I finished reading the book. So with the written words fresh in my mind, I sat down to view it. It stars Francis McDormand whom I believe to be a wonderful actress. So it's disappointing to find she can't do full justice to the role. And the fact the storyline is changed, as is the very essence of Miss Pettigrew's character, only serves to further dilute the film.

Which leads me to believe - yet again - that movies, no matter their star cast or budgets just can't compare to books.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


On Sunday I watched the Ghostwriter, which is a superb thriller which doesn't require much thinking. And with Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor in the lead roles, it can even be forgiven for not inspiring you to pick up a pen and paper and begin writing - or ghostwriting as it may be.

Having said that, ghostwriting is becoming more and more popular, not to mention lucrative, as celebrities and media gurus alike seek to free up their time, by outsourcing their writing needs to a 'ghostwriter'. I recently read an article in the Entrepreneur magazine, where popular (and millionaire) coach, author and motivational guru, Robert Kiyosaki's ghostwriter was interviewed. That's right  - she's the one who writes his blogs, twitter thoughts and facebook comments.

 A bit disappointing, but understandable as most coaches and speakers don't have the time to write their own marketing material. The same holds true for a lot of entrepreneurs. Most of them will like to market their brand, but poor communication skills prevent them from doing so. Step in the ghostwriter, whose job it is to make them look good. For a fee. Ghostwriting is not cheap and a good ghostwriter can command double the normal writing fee. If you can adopt your client's voice and take ego out of the equation, ghostwriting might be right for you.

While the debate rages on - is a client who uses a ghostwriter 'cheating' his audience, or not? - ghostwriters continue to take on growing challenges and prove their worth in an expanding and competitive trade.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Routine in Writing

Another glorious summer's day,and it's hard to believe fall (and school)is around the corner. But what I'm looking forward to most is getting back into a routine. While I've enjoyed the long and lazy summer days shared with family and friends, a routine helps me get more productive and stay on track.

And while much has been written on 'routines', the fact is only you can persist in sticking to one.

So, for the last few weeks, I've been resetting my alarm to go off an hour earlier each morning (resulting in a whacking headache today) because I know as of next week, I'll be working longer hours at a stretch. And has it paid off? Of course it has. I'm now working with a few 'steady' clients and it's always fun knowing you'll be getting a steady paycheck from them. Check them out here:

MN Interactive: and

The Netsetter:

Mind Body Sanctuary:

Greener Steps:

They are fun clients and working with them offers me the diversity I crave. Check them out and do leave me some comments -it's always fun having visitors.

To your routine!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Do you Sell on Etsy?

Are you into crafts? If so, I need your help.

I’m writing an ebook for a company I regularly produce work for. They in turn have a network of clients who come to them with writing jobs. For this particular job, the topic is Marketing Your Craft on Etsy. I had suggested I include case studies or question /answers with Etsians who are already marketing their crafts successfully on the site. I asked if I could interview craft owners on Etsy and in turn, they would get their name/link showcased in the Ebook.

The company in turn got it touch with the client to run this idea by her and she has agreed to do this. However, I cannot provide you with any details of the ebook (name or author) other than to say it will be sold on her marketing site and via clickbank. Yes, that sucks. But that's the deal.

If you’d still like to go ahead, these are my questions:

-What kind of craft do you specialize in?

-How long have you been doing this craft?

-Is it a hobby or full time business, and if it’s a full time business, when did you set up shop?

-What made you go on to Etsy?

-Do you find yourself getting clients via Etsy?

-What marketing methods do you use?

-Is there anything else you’d like to try out with regards to marketing?

-Any special moments which stand out?

-Is there any other marketing advice you would recommend to a novice crafter?

-Your name

-Your website’s link or Your Etsy store link.

I hope to hear back from you.

With love and success,

Usha Sliva

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On Cons and Con Artists

The other day, I visited our neighbourhood Indian store which is filled with exotic veggies and fruit and snacks and sweets. It's also filled with stainless steel cooking utensils and storage jars, and I wanted to pick up a few of the latter. In addition to three jars, I picked up a few potatoes, onions, and mangoes and when I reached the checkout counter, I was distracted by my kids near the sweet bin (filled with nutty delights, which my son is allergic to). So I paid the bill without checking (or questioning) it, only to discover later that night that I was billed for items I didn't purchase.

Could it have been a mistake? I don't think so. The counter was empty and the cashier has plenty of time to check the few items I had purchased.

Don't you hate it when you get cheated? Now how about when the person who cheats you is a fellow writer?

I recently signed up for an online course run by a 'reputable' writer whom I met through one of the online networking groups I frequent. She took my money, sent me the first two parts of a five week course, and since then I haven't heard from her. My emails don't get responded to despite the fact she's still active in the networking group.

So, cons come in all shapes and sizes, nationalities, and job fronts. My recommendations?

Double check whom you do business with.
Report any scams to Better Business Bureau (I did both) and to any other online scam reporting sites.
Share your stories with others so they might benefit from them.

Any other suggestions?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Multiply Your Writing Income Through Referrals

The most frustrating thing about working on a netbook is not realizing the glitches your computer may have, which ends up in a perfectly good post getting deleted! Which is what happened to me recently. I was tired and sat working on my bed, writing the post well into midnight. Only to find out the next day that the heading appeared, but the actual content did not!

Oh well- another reason to check and double check your work. And I'm lucky it happened to my own blog and not one that belongs to a client.

And speaking of clients, I've had three this week who've referred me to their colleagues/friends, thereby doubling my income for the month. How great is that! Coincidentally I received a newsletter from one of the writers I subscribe to which also talks of referrals. In it he mentions that 50% of his business is through referrals. While I can't claim such a high figure, I can tell you I've found a direct way that works for me: I simply ask for them.

If I know a client is pleased with my work, I ask for two things: testimonials and referrals. I usually put the request down in an email so it stays with the client and he's reminded of it when he checks his inbox. I accompany my request with a nice note to let him know I enjoy working with him, and provide him with the option to refuse if he wants to. This way, there's no pressure for him to say yes, and neither does he feel obligated.

You can also carry out a promotion - refer one client and get a 50% discount off your next job - or put a note on your invoice asking for referrals.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Top 5 Freelancing Myths Deboned!

Myth 1:

You have a lot of freedom: You all read about the freelancer who sits back and enjoys the fruit of his labors while seemingly doing nothing. The truth is freelancing is a very hard job and it does involve a lot of work; including things you may not have otherwise undertaken, like accounting, marketing and secretarial duties.

Myth 2:

Do a good job and clients will come to you: Not true! What is true is that you may get a few referrals, but there’ll certainly be no queues outside your door.At least not for a long while. You still have to work very hard at marketing your services and continue to do so long after you’ve built up a nice little portfolio for yourself. It may get easier, but it certainly doesn’t stop.

Myth 3:

My work speaks for itself: Not really. You still have to push it forward. Having a great online portfolio will go a long way in showing clients who you are and what you can do; but you’ll still need to work hard to get those clients to your site.

Myth 4:

I do only what I love: Eventually, that’s your goal. But for now, you’ll do pretty much whatever it takes to get started and keep on going. You’ll take on certain projects which are boring and those thankless jobs no one else wants, and you’ll do it well because you know that’s your entry into the world of freelancing.

Myth 5:

You’re your own boss: In theory, yes. In reality, you will always have the clients being your boss. And telling you what to do and how to do it and when to meet deadlines. No freelancer is truly free of a boss, not as long as they have clients.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Top 5 Ways To Generate Leads

What are the two top things every freelance writer needs to do to be successful? Write great copy and generate leads. If you can do both of those, then you’re on your way to joining the hundreds of freelance writers who enjoy a steady income.

Simply put, leads are potential clients. Every freelancer needs good leads and a lot of them, because only some will convert into actual sales. Leads are clients who have been referred to you or perhaps have seen your work, website, portfolio and come to you with a request. They may have emailed your or spoken with you over the phone. And if you can win them over then the sale is in your pocket and money in your bank!

Ask for Referrals: You can always contact current or past clients who are happy with your work and ask them to refer you. Most of them will be happy to do so. To make it easier, send them an email listing of all your services, which they can then forward.

Direct Mailing: The quickest way to getting your name out there is through Direct Mail. Mail out your services (or send a short introductory email or make a short phone call) to your potential clients.

This is another great way to meet people interested in your work. Networking does not necessarily mean going physically to a networking event (though of course that’s a great option). Sites like Facebook, twitter and other social networking sites and blog forums are also excellent places to network online.

Simple but an effective way to get leads. Even a simple free ad on a site like Craigslist can bring you potential clients.

Become a Speaker
: This is not necessarily an option or choice for everyone. But if you feel comfortable speaking in front of an audience, then don’t hesitate to go for it. Even a small group may generate leads which in turn may convert to sales.

So try them all, or just one of them and see if they don’t work for you!


If you're stuck for ideas on how to make your business productive, may I recommend Michael Tipper’s very affordable Business Profit Productivity Blueprint. While most info gurus sell their products for thousands of dollars, his costs only $197. It’s great value for money, and you can get it by clicking on this link:

Friday, August 6, 2010

Freelance Writing Rules to Boost Your Career

Freelance writers starting out a new career often find it bewildering - lack of visible support, job sites with low paying projects and fierce competition can often make even the strongest throw up their hands in dismay.

There are so many things that I now look back in retrospect and wish I had known about. The following are the top 5 list of things I had to learn the hard way.

Writing with direction:

When I developed my first blog and website, I had no real aim. I just knew I wanted to write. And so I spent hours and hours developing it, sourcing story ideas, free images (I had no spare change to spend at photo sites) and writing about the things I loved or felt strongly about. Was that a wrong thing to do? Not at all. But it would have been better if I had invested all that passion and energy into writing with a more focused aim. It would have allowed me to capture a larger audience and diversify into something more meaningful.

The importance of social networking:

It took me longer that it should have to get onto the social networking bandwagon. Why? Because I didn’t know the benefits that could be achieved by being on it. Once I did get on though , I began to see immediate results. A lot of my subscribers and clients come to me via sites like Twitter and I’ve gained a lot of followers and friends through blog chat forums.

Marketing on a daily basis:

Now I market myself on a daily basis. Nearly 30% of my online time is spend promoting myself and my work. And because I do so, I can afford to spend an equal amount of time on Facebook and other chat forums solely for the purpose of having fun and connecting with other excellent bloggers and friends.

Weeding out undesirable job sites:

As a freelance writer, you will spend a large proportion of your time job hunting. There are a number of job sites and potential clients with promises to make you a millionaire before 30 (or in my case, before 40)and it’s really quite difficult to weed out the good ones from the scams. Nowadays, I do a quick Google search before I sign up for anything. If there are a healthy number of poor reviews, I treat the site with scepticism. If the ads that pop up are mainly craigslist ads, I also avoid them. And remember, if you are a newcoming, it doesn't mean settling for low paying jobs. Persist and build up a good portfolio and you can ask for the money you feel you're worth.

Having a mentor:

A mentor doesn’t necessarily have to be someone you’ve paid to learn from. While you will no doubt benefit tremendously from having a full time mentor, even for a short period of time, you can also learn from someone more experience than you by subscribing to their ezines or e-courses. If they have books and eBooks out, you may want to invest in a few of them.

Stick with these 5 rules and you’ll definitely enhance your freelance writing career in a short while!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

3 Copywriting Tips That Work!

Copywriting is an intense craft that has a lot of tips and tricks to
remember. You can use a play on words, keep is simple and straightforward, or
make the audience guess at what you're trying to say - they all work simply
because there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to writing creative copy.

There are however plenty of tips. The following three are ones to pin up
and apply to any copywriting project you're about to undertake:

Visualize your target audience.
Who are they? What do they look like? Where to they live? What do they like/dislike? Some copywriters actually tear out photographs of their demographic group and tape them up for inspiration. I write mine down on a whiteboard and make sure I refer to them. If I'm in the mood, I might even doodle some figures to give it more color.
Whatever works right? The point is, never forget your target audience - not even
for an instance.

Don't speak down to them.

That's an insult. Most books on copywriting will tell you to keep it simple. And that's the truth.Unless your audience is extremely sophisticated and knowledgeable about your product, it's best to avoid using technical jargon and complicated words. On
the other hand, I'm not sure what 8th grade lingo is either - possibly the liberal use of cute, like, awesome and chillaxin - which is what some courses and books recommend you adopt. Instead, speak to them as you would a friend.

Focus on your headline.

That really has to be captivating. As does
your first line. Make them too long, too vague or too clever, and you've
already lost your audience. Keep it catchy and concise and focused on what you
want to say, and who you want to say it too (check your blackboard, doodles, photographs).

And then have fun with your words. There's nothing nicer than seeing
your brochure, your ad or your website - don't let the web designer fool you
into believing it's his creation - out there for others to use.

Ps: If there are any 8th graders out there reading this who disagree with my interpretation of their lingo, I apologize. I have a few years to go before my kids reach that age!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

4 Ways To Reach Your Ideal Clients:

“How can I get more business?” is probably the number one question on everyone’s lips.

While there are many avenues to get to your end goal, and you need to explore them all, the following will eliminate those unnecessary steps that we often taken in search of those elusive people called ‘clients’.

1. Identify your client: While everyone may have the potential to be your client, you need to identify those people who will be your primary targets- your daily bread and butter so to speak. Spend a few minutes thinking of whom you really want to target. Is it Ad. Agencies specializing in automotive clients or perhaps Direct Mailing Agencies. Be as specific as possible.

2. Tie up with others who are already in the queue. Do some research to determine who and what are the publications, stores etc. that your ideal client reads, visits, frequents. Then speak to them to see if you can tie up with them. Affiliate programmes, link exchanges, advertising etc. are some of the ways to get onboard their sites.

3. Try indirect methods such as getting them to review your products or services, writing on their sites as a guest writer, accepting their articles onto your own website etc.

4. In addition to the above, identify which sites your clients are most likely to frequent and make yourself known as an authority figure by doing the following:

-Article Marketing, using sites such as

-Blogging- Creating your own blog and/or linking to other blogs using free blogging tools like Blogger or WordPress

-Using social networking sites such as twitter, MySpace, Facebook etc. to target a specific audience

-Using Weblinks and Web forums to get your message out (note that with web forums, an indirect approach is often the better approach. Publicizing yourself too strongly on forums may in fact backfire and get you banned from the site)

-Creating free teleseminars which offer added value to your service

-Uploading podcasts which link to the speaker’s site

-Sending out press releases when you have something newsworthy to report

-Create an ezine like Getting It Write to offer free and usable information

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Learn Ali Brown's powerful list building strategies

Question for you... What's the best way to grow your business without having to go out and sell every day?

Answer... Create your targeted list of prospects.

That's how you'll always have new potential buyers and new opportunities to promote your services or products...and make new sales.

But not just by filling up your mailing list with everybody and anybody. The real trick is adding interested, qualified leads who are much more likely to actually buy your product or service! As you may know, building a list properly has been a huge factor in Ali Brown's business growing from zero-figure idea into a company today that brings in millions of dollars per year.

In fact, it's so important for YOUR business growth that Ali is hosting a complimentary teleseminar to give you the latest information on list-building:


"Grow That List! The 7 Streams of List-Building That Are Working Right Now"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010
7:00pm Eastern
Learn more and register here:


On this special complimentary call, you'll learn…

* the 7 list-building "streams" you should be directing to your
site right now — to create a river of traffic

* how to create slow and steady flows of prospects as well as
fast gushes of list growth (and why you need both)

* 3 of the latest list-building methods that are relatively NEW
and that you should try

* which list-building methods are now outdated (cross these off
your to-do-list!)

* which software/applications Ali recommends to automatically
manage your list

* the MOST important thing you have to keep in mind when growing
your list

* how to get your list growing now... even if you don't have a
website yet

* details about Ali's BRAND NEW four-part telecourse on list
building that she will be personally teaching this summer!

Whether you're just starting a list for your new business, OR
you're experienced online and need a "list building checkup" to
step up your list, you'll learn how to discover new
opportunities, win new qualified prospects, and build a list
that will help grow your business successfully.

Ali hasn't hosted a call like this in quite a while, so don't
miss it! I sure won't!

Sign up now here to reserve your space on this complimentary call:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sing Praises for AIDA

AIDA is one of my favourite operas. Coincidentally, it's also the simplest, yet most effective methods of converting visitors to buyers.

Attention: The first thing to keep in mind when writing copy is – grab the reader’s attention. You do this by writing striking copy and making your product or service as attractive as possible. Your copy does not need to be long; in fact, short copy is often more attention grabbing than long winded sentences.

Interest: Get their interest going. You can do this in a number of ways- offer a bonus, a discount, a limited time offer, a guarantee. Whatever you offer, it has to be something of value to your potential customer.

Desire: This refers to their desire to have what you’re offering them- a product or service that they feel they must have, and must have now.

Action: And finally, their desire leads them to take positive action- visit your shopping cart, click on a subscribe to link or pick up the phone and call a toll free number.

While reading Jonathan Gabay’s Teach Yourself Copywriting, I learnt an expanded version of AIDA, which is AIDCA.

Convince: With all the given competition, you need to work extra hard at convincing your client that they do indeed need your product or service. This is in fact one of the most important steps in any sales pitch, and even if you’re not face to face with your prospect, your website should have an in-built convincing tool in it.

Get your copy of Teach Yourself Copywriting here:
Teach Yourself Copywriting

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dramatically boost your writing!

Content is king, but what happens when you find it hard to write as much as you should? The following are quick and easy ways to get into a set routine, without the boredom that’s often attached to it:

1. Pick a time and stick to it
. If you can manage to get up early, it’s probably the best time of the day to write. The world is quiet and ideas can flow freely without any distractions. After a good night’s rest, you also have the energy to jump-start your thoughts. If you are however not a morning problem, this could be a problem. I know a lot of writers who say they prefer working till 2 or 3am! I certainly am not in that category, but I have no qualms about setting my alarm for 4am to wake up and write. Pick a time which suits you and stick with it. Even if you have no work at the moment, continue to get up early (or work late) and fill this time with freewriting exercises (, drafting query letters or even writing the first draft of a short story/novel or poem . Just keep writing.

2. Make your writing zone a private zone. You’ve heard of writers penning their bestsellers in cafes and parks, but for the most part, writers will prefer working in a quiet environment. It’s said that Stephen King wrote for days in isolation, and this is not an exception, but generally the rule to producing good, quality stuff. Shut yourself up in your office, den or any private room and get to work.

3. Forget 15 minute gurus. These are the clients who ask for 4 easy blogs per hour or writers who claim they can produce them! No one can write a draft or even a short blog in 15 minutes. Pencil in a decent number of hours per day to write and work your schedule around these hours. If you have limited time, set a timer for one hour. Use it to write. Not check emails or get distracted by the shelf that needs dusting or the plant that needs watering. Write until the timer goes off. Take a 10 minute break and if you still have time, get back to writing for another 1 hour.

4. Aim for perfection but know when to stop
. There’s no such thing as a perfect article, simply because perfection in writing varies from person to person. The trick is knowing where to stop. I usually write, print and edit and make the changes, and then give it to someone to read it. If they come up with changes, I take those into consideration and then add them in if I feel they need to be included. I then read and re-read my final piece. Definitely not a 15 minute process, and it's what clients (and readers) pay for.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Interview with upcoming novelist Melissa McNallan

I'm ashamed to say I did this interview almost a month ago, and haven't had the chance to post it. But now that it's up, I hope you'll read, enjoy, and share it. Melissa is writing her first novel, and I can't wait for her to complete it. She has some great advice to offer other first time novelists. You can learn more about her work here:

What will your book be about? Can you give us a sneak preview?

My book, tentatively titled Independence, is about a pool hustler's daughter named Independence (Indy for short), who is desperately seeking her own independence. On the way to finding it she opens a lot of wrong doors. She leaves life on the road with her Dad behind for Billy, Billy for Patrick, Patrick for home - only to find that home doesn't fit either. For a sneak preview, the flash fiction version of a section of the novel can be viewed at;

How did you get started?

Ten years ago I had the idea and started writing it down. I joined a writer's group. I've been an avid reader since I was five and a dedicated journal writer from the age of 12. I had little experience beyond that back then, so I struggled to put the words and punctuation down right. My tenses switched and slipped easily.

Laurel Winter, author of the award winning book, Growing Wings, was a member of our writing group back then. She encouraged me a lot by telling me that I had a strong voice. She said that punctuation and tenses can be learned but voice is hard to teach.

I still ended up shelving the book for a while. I'd get to a certain point and just get stuck. I began to read writing magazines. I started getting work writing newspaper articles for our small town paper, getting work in a local women's magazine and finally writing a flash fiction version of I.A.M. I love revising and synthesizing, breaking a piece down to its essentials. I entered it into WOW! Women on Writing's Spring 2009 Flash Fiction competition and placed in the top 25.

Then I earned an Artist's Grant to work on a revision of my book with the assistance of a mentor during the summer of this year. If I don't complete the revision, I have to pay them back.
I highly recommend working with money on the line or as if it is.

Probably the number one reason most writers don’t write a book is because they find it hard to make the time to get started. Did you find it hard to make the time, and how did you overcome this obstacle?

With money on the line, I have come to discover the lack of time to be a bullshit trick we let our mind play on us. I've had that trick played on my mind for years! I wrote 15 chapters in six weeks while: working 30 hours a week, taking two college courses -earning A's in each, being a Mom and wife, writing a 10 minute play for Olmsted County's History Center and serving as a member of the editorial board for the Yellow Jacket Review (a community college literary magazine). Be tenacious. Keep your fingers on the keys. If you don't like sitting down, stand. I do that a lot. The laundry suffered. Those 15 chapters have organic, lovely moments in them that I'm really proud of. There's plenty of rewriting to do yet. Once I realized that I could pound out 5,0000 words in one day, the idea of revising a whole novel became much less intimidating.

Did your inspiration for this book come from a particular situation, or did you have to sit down and think up a unique idea around which to create your story?

The biggest piece of inspiration I had for this piece came back in 1996 when I took a bus from Rochester, MN to Orlando, FL to help a friend move back home. I couldn't afford a plane ticket, so I took a Greyhound bus down. I am a huge fan of Kahlil Gibran and was obsessed with Beat and '60s literature and culture. I was big into the idea "you're either on the bus or you're off the bus" as espoused in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, so I stayed engaged and talked to people. I kept myself open. I met a man who was going to be bartending for a while in Florida and then moving back home to Portland. He was laid back, had a sweet disposition and he talked like I'd never heard anyone talk before. I gave him my address and he sent me a letter from a hotel in Portland. He served as inspiration for Indy's main guy.

That summer, on his advice, I started waitressing in a bar that was rough around the edges and had a pool table in the back. I was 18. I did my best to listen, observe and take things in. I did a lot of journaling at that time. Indy grows up in the bar scene and that comes from me kind of growing up in that scene myself. Like many 18 year olds I didn't know nearly as much about life as I thought I did.

Any other words of wisdom?

Listen to people, really listen. I think developing an authentic voice and strong dialogue comes from that. Then listen to your characters. Be patient, they'll talk. Everyone has the ability to hear their characters talk and to be lead by them, you just have to stay relaxed and open to possibility.

Actors have to really listen to each other when they're working or they come off as being generic and 2-dimensional. I think the same is true for writing.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Outsourcing to get a life

It's been a while since I last wrote on this blog, as I've been swamped- with work, the kids' activities, a car which needed fixing... the list is endless.

And then one day last week, I received not one, but four emails from blog and marketing experts I subscribe to - John Chow, Jonathan Volk, Jeremy Schoemaker, and Yaro Starak about John Reese's outsourcing. My inbox was flooded with reasons as to why I should subscribe, and NOW!

I didn't, and his program is filled, so I'm interested to see the feedback it receives. Incidentally, have you noticed that most marketing gurus have John or Jeremy as their first name? That aside, the reason I've linked to their sites is because they do offer great advice. My own advice to you though, is to select one or two of them to begin with. Most of them make their money via affiliate programs, and if it's a popular offer (like John Reese's coaching), you'll get the same message from all of them.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the services I outsource in my life. I did consider outsourcing my housekeeping, but at CA$130 for two hours, that's sometimes more than what I make! So that leaves me with the occasionally babysitter for evenings, the sitter for the kids when I'm working, summer programs to keep them busy and out of my hair, my site's web design and maintenance, and my accounting and financial matters. I haven't started outsourcing extra work like some writers do, but that's something to consider.

Any ideas on what else a freelancer can outsource to maximize time and efficiency? Write me.

And in the meantime, I'm off to scrub the sink and load the dishes!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

eBooks and their money making potential

I’ve been writing eBooks for a long time now on a variety of topics- business, health and wellness, and even a Feng Shui eBook for a client who was getting into the Feng Shui business. I’ve always enjoyed writing them and they are a great way to make money.

eBooks are often ghostwritten, in that their writers do not take credit for the material written. Not a problem- if you don’t mind your name not appearing on the site, then ghostwriting jobs do pay well. Novice freelance writers can charge anywhere between $10-$30 per page, and that’s only for the writing. If you’ve been asked to design it as well, then you can go above this amount, bearing in mind that you will have to deliver a top quality design with a linked TOC (Table of Content).

If you’ve never written an eBook before, I recommend buying some books or visiting some sites before you start bidding for a job. One of my favourites is a book created by Jim Edwards, and Joe Vitale. Jim is a journalist and writer and have worked on a number of eBooks. Joe Vitale is a legend in himself, having helped over 200 authors write their books. Both these gentlemen have years of writing experience, so when they put their heads together and came up with, How to write and publish your own Outrageously Profitable eBook in as little as 7 days, you know it’s a winner.

In this ebook, you’ll learn:
-The secrets to creating an ebook that sells like crazy
-How to quickly avoid the #1 Mistake authors make that causes them to take months or years to write a book... so you can finish in just a few days.
-The absolute "bullet-proof" best ebook to write and sell online -FAST.
-The "right" way to publish your ebook so virtually everyone connected to the Internet can buy it and read it.
-3 *Proven* methods for turning out a highly profitable ebook in record time• The "7 Commandments" of ebook formatting

You can order your copy of How to write and publish your own Outrageously Profitable eBook in as little as 7 days here, and remember, there’s a return guarantee if you decide that ebook writing is not for you.

Once you’ve written your ebook, if it’s for a client, he/she will most likely want it delivered in a word or Pdf format, which they directly upload on their sites. On the other hand, if you’ve written your ebook to sell it for profit, you’ll need to self publish it. One great site to visit is eBook Mall Publishing Center. Here, they’ll help you with formatting and publishing your ebook, so it’s ready to be uploaded and sold!

Monday, May 10, 2010

On Becoming A Novelist, with Michael C. Bernard

As a freelance writer, I know I harbour a dream of one day writing a novel. But where do I begin and what do I write about? The problem is not that I don’t have any ideas- I have too many ideas, and too little time. So it was fascinating that I could pick the brains of a published author, and see how he came up with the time, ideas and determination to complete his book.

Michael C. Bernard has been writing steadily for six years, mainly short stories and articles for smaller magazines and writing sites. Recovering Roads is his first endeavour at bigger fiction, examining a youthful story of adventure and hope in desperate times. He lives and writes on the west coast of Ireland. Read on to see how he made the move from freelance writer, to published novelist.

Most writers always dream of one day writing their very own novel. You are on your second one. And like most readers of this blog, you began your career writing for magazines and writing sites. How did you make this transition?

Okay, well moving from one area of writing to another is not as difficult as we first imagine. With only a small shift of focus, it is actually more achievable than we think. Because I am an avid reader and I love reading great fiction, as well as, good books on writing fiction, I’ve always found that my pen was willing to roam, wander and dabble in things - just a little more creative, than say, writing letter’s or articles. It has to begin initially with the fiction itself. If this is what the author is aiming for, then a short story is crucial. Get it out there fast, so people can read it. The feedback which will come back to you is always better than you expect – can and will inspire you to try something bigger, as it was for my first book “Recovering Roads.” If you are already comfortable writing for magazines, sites or blogs, then you’ll already be familiar with that crucial kind of feedback. Try something new, write something else....

Is there any special training you’d recommended a writer take before he or she sits down to write a novel?

Yes, grab a pen and paper, then sit down and read, read, read, read, especially in the genre you like! Writers are incredibly friendly souls who just love to share their very own insights, hints and tips. Needless to say, there are some truly excellent books available for aspiring author’s who’d like to learn more or basically enhance their craft. Books for beginners which currently spring to mind and have helped me out more than once; would be the likes of Stephen Kings “A memoir of the craft” Julia Cameron’s “The artist’s way” And for a complete concise set of gritty and oily details “The Nuts and bolts of writing” by Michael Legat - is a must!

Although, to have these tools is marvellous, the spirit to write is a very personal one and must strongly be there in order to begin. My advice would be to be brave with the page, just write what feels right at the start, the nuts and bolts can come later.

We hear of drafts and half completed ideas gathering dust in drawers. How long did it take for you to complete your first novel, and what was the key reason you persevered to get to the finish line?

I felt I had a story to tell, my novel seems to fall under the category of “ Fictionalized Reality” which also seems to be a bit of a buzzword today, it was directly constructed from personal experience and so, the nostalgia present in my memories, made me say to myself, “ wouldn't it be great if people heard this story.” I admit, the concept for me was an arduously long one, but I am a bit of a perfectionist and it took me three years dissecting a first draft before I was ready to release it. Perseverance, I feel, tends to come within the writing itself. You can get so involved with your character’s lives and the story; it is almost like it begins to play out once more. Again, I feel it’s personal and how much an Author really wants to tell a particular story....

How would you describe the new book you’re working on?

Well, after writing the first, I’ve gained much more experience & confidence which I’m hoping will make this book shine... I’m writing a mystery set at Christmas, a whodunit, where an unlikely bunch come together because they are just where they are - and have no other place to go. There’s a wild party, kids sliding on sleds and a burglary in the vicinity where a highly renowned member of society is found dead. It’s also a collection on the lives of these people and an exploration of what brought them to this place, at this particular point in time, so it skips back into their past to give the reader a fascinating insight. Dare I say, it’s full of charm, romance, rock and roll and all the trimmings of the festive season – watch out people! LOL

How do you derive your characters? Are your scenes based on real-life people and situations?

In a nutshell yes, but you must remember, characters will always unravel all by themselves and begin to take on a life of their own, simply because of the author’s own personal views and perceptions. While you may have a grand idea of somebody who’d make a wonderful character in your book, in theory, they may have similar traits, but you cannot know everything about them, which is good, because the characters begin to live and breathe alone - and this is what you’re aiming for. As for the situations, well, in order to begin, you need to first have a plot in mind. The more interesting this will be, will always determine how fascinating the characters turn out to be.

Do you believe anyone can write a novel, or does an author require certain special traits?

I believe anybody can write a novel. Of course, good grammatical skills are imperative, as is the basic love and respect for literature, language and the arts and a strong personal wish to tell a good tale and share it with others. Unfortunately, it is true that writing is not for everybody, this is perhaps why a lot of potentially good manuscripts end up dusty.... It’s more of a vocation than a hobby and the will and patience has to be there from the outset, so, the author is at least enjoying what he or she is doing - with no other reason for doing it, and a full commitment to see it through. I think if these traits are there, then sure, yeah, anyone can write a novel.

Any other words of wisdom you’d like to share with our readers?

I’d like to thank you so much for the interview and to say a big hi to the readers here and perhaps introduce my own book, plugged somewhere above LOL The best advice I feel I can give is that the author themselves will know deep down if they have what it takes, however, long that process for them will take. For anyone who really wants to write a novel but is perhaps afraid to begin or make a mistake, know that we've all been there and please, send out that short story or join that writer’s circle and never be afraid to share your work. Remember, it’s not the grammar or punctuation that stands out at the beginning; it’s your own voice, your own unique way of seeing things and sharing things, just as important as the next person’s, so don’t afraid to say whatever comes to your mind.

Julia Cameron, in her book “the artists’ way” speaks of morning pages, which is pretty much a notepad kept close by and in the morning when you wake, write three pages very quickly without dwelling, of whatever is on the tip of your tongue. Don’t look back, just, keep doing this for about two weeks initially. Well, let me tell you - those morning pages for me have turned into evening pages, night time pages, out and about pages, the beginnings of poems, short stories, character’s dialog. It is truly amazing what you can and will write when you allow yourself the freedom to do so. Most of all have fun; it’s what being creative and artistic is all about.

My very best wishes and high regards to all the aspiring Author’s and Writer’s here and good luck with that first book!

You can learn more about Michael here: