FREE is powerful, but dangerous

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-free-message-image22936345“Free” is a very effective power word. It grabs your reader’s attention and may even convince him to take that next conversion step.

However, if you use “free” incorrectly, it could cost you.

Does “free” remove value?

I recently witnessed the following scene.

A 15-year-old boy uses color ink to print the informational page for a PC that he wants to buy (Let’s not kid ourselves – that he wants his mother to buy). The printed description has a picture of the computer, so the printer definitely uses some color ink.

His mom sees the printout and says, “Next time, could you print something like that in grayscale so we can save the color ink?”

The son replies, “But it’s the free ink that came with the printer. It didn’t cost us anything.”

The discussion continued and it consisted mostly of his mom asking him to conserve ink and he kept stating that it was free. (It was quite fun to watch as a third party, but I digress.)

Although most of us are probably not trying to reach a 15-year-old demographic, the point is that he saw the ink as something that had no value because it was free.

Put a price tag on “free” products and services

It’s great to offer a free content marketing evaluation or to entice website visitors with a free product sample. However, be sure to include the value of the free product or service.

If you don’t include something as simple as “$200 value” or whatever the true cost of the product or service would be, why would your clients think it is valuable?

Including a waived price/value to the free item or service can:

  • Increase conversions because potential clients understand the deal they are getting
  • Keep clients from insisting you give them similar products or services for free
  • Give a glimpse into your prices and (hopefully) minimize the number of inquiries you receive from people who cannot afford your services or products – saving your time to focus on those who can.

Make sure it’s not always free

In addition to giving your service or product a value, be sure to limit your offer. If something is always free, it loses whatever value you assign to it.

Utilize the principle of scarcity to further entice your audience. By telling your website visitors that your free offer is only for a limited time, you are adding additional value to it – and encouraging an action sooner rather than later.

Keep “free” in your arsenal

Don’t remove “free” from your list of power words. By taking a few precautions and using it correctly, you can increase your conversions.

Speaking of deals, save nearly $200 on the SEO Copywriting Certification training if you sign up before April 30! Use coupon code UPDATE.

Photo credit: ID 22936345 ©  | Dreamstime.com

Land the Gig with These 7 Freelance Copywriting Proposal Tweaks

proposalTired of spending hours writing proposals that never result in a sale?

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how to get clients to say “yes” faster. Since writing the post, a number of people have said, “Heather, where I’m really stuck is how to write proposals. What do prospects expect? I feel like I’m doing it all wrong.”

You’re probably not doing it all wrong. But there probably are some things you can do to increase your odds of success. Here are some things to think about:

– Are your proposals detailed enough to be a DIY guide?

You’ve included a keyphrase list, a competitive analysis and a detailed explanation of the pages you’d rewrite and why. This process took you hours. You spent the time because you want to land the sale. After all, everything you wrote showcased your expertise. Right?

Wrong. Instead, your prospect could read your free proposal and easily do the work themselves.  Or hire a less expensive vendor. And yes. This happens.

Remember, the proposal’s purpose is to get the gig. Not give away your secrets. You may need to do some discovery to accurately bid on the gig. That’s cool.. Just save the meaty information for after you’ve cashed their check.

–  Do you include too many options?

Too. Much. Information.

Too. Much. Information.

Ever talk to a prospect and think, “Wow, there are so many ways I can help her.” That’s great. Just don’t put all 10 ideas in one overwhelming proposal. Why? Your prospect won’t know what to choose, what to do – heck, they may not even read all of it. After all, who wants to read a 20-page document when all they want to know is what you’ll do and how much it will cost.

The key is narrowing your options list way down. Remember, YOU are the expert – so choose what you think the prospect should do and focus on that. If your prospect needs options, limit them to three. You can focus on your other ideas after you’ve landed the gig and proven yourself.

– Should you have written a proposal in the first place?

Did you propose a $5,000/month agreement when the prospect has $500/month to spend? That’s a bad mistake. It’s crucial to prequalify the prospect and ask about budget before you get to the proposal stage. If the client can’t pay for your expertise, you can refer them to someone else before spending loads of time.

It’s true that many prospects don’t know their budget or don’t want to answer the question. One way to deal with this is by telling the client, “Most projects like this cost anywhere from $5,000-$8,500. Is that within your budget? If the prospect says, “yes,” you’ll know you can move forward.

– Did you include any testimonials or bio information?

It’s important to remember that the person gathering proposals may not be the decision-maker. In fact, your proposal may be emailed to multiple team members, all with their own ideas and agendas. You may not ever have a chance to talk to these team members or “sell” your services – so your proposal has to do it for you.

To put your best foot forward, create a “bio page” and include it in your proposal. I include mine as the last page. That way, if someone is wondering about my qualifications, they can turn to the last page and read them. They don’t have to visit my site or surf around (although I figure they do this anyway.) It’s a great way to sell yourself in an understated way. I’ll talk more about a proposal bio page in a future blog post.

– Have you explained your terms?

Um, what are you trying to say?

Um, what are you trying to say?

It’s easy to propose something like, “Instead of rewriting these pages, we can edit them for keyphrases.” Although that’s super-clear to you, it won’t be clear to anyone not living and breathing the SEO/online writing world.  The more questions that pop up during the proposal process, the easier it is to say no and work with the vendor who clearly spelled everything out.

Remember, even if your contact is SEO-smart, you shouldn’t assume everyone in the company (especially the decision-maker) has the same level of knowledge. If your proposal is passed around to multiple people, you want to focus the discussion on how you can help – not cause a huge email thread asking you to define your terms. It’s important to speak your customers’ language and use terms they can easily understand. One easy way to do this is …

– Have you templatized your proposals?

Why, oh why, are you creating every proposal by hand every single time? Especially when most of your clients request the same services? An easy way to save time is to create template copy discussing your service offerings, deliverables (yes, define your terms) and general timelines. That way, creating a new proposal is as simple as adding the relevant information, proofing it and clicking send. Which reminds me…

– Does your propozal have some funky typos?

Typos happen, especially when you’re kicking out a bunch of proposals at once. Prospects don’t dig typos, though – especially during the proposal process. And if you are using a template proposal, you better make darn sure that you erase the previous prospect’s name EVERYWHERE and replace it with the new client’s name. I’m paranoid enough that I don’t rely on Word’s find and replace function. I hand-check that stuff.

Spending time to freshen up your proposal is one of the smartest things you can do. If you’re stuck on what to change, it couldn’t hurt to hire a consultant to help. That way, an outsider can provide suggestions on how to take your proposal from so-so to spectacular – and you can land the gig every time.

Photo thanks to Doug Wertman (Proposal at the PBR)

Want to know how to get writing gigs without needing a proposal? Ivana Taylor spills her secrets in the Copywriting Business Bootcamp training. Now, you can save almost $100 if you use coupon code BOOTCAMP (though April 14th.) Sign up today!

 

 

 

 

10+ ways your freelance writing site sucks (and what you can do about it.)

Sad dog

Does your site copy make you sad?

Does your freelance writing site have some…sucky… elements?

If you’re a freelance writer, there’s a good chance your answer is “yes.” You may be able to transform your clients’ content into marketing gold. But your own site…not so much.

Writing copy for your own site is hard (really!). I’ve seen super-talented writers make major blunders on their site – mistakes they’d never make with a client.  Unfortunately, those blunders are probably costing them money.

Wondering if your site suffers from the same problem? Here are some ways your freelance writing site may suck:

– You don’t have a site.

So what are you waiting for? If you want to write for online clients, having your own site is a must. It helps with lead generation; it’s a place to showcase your clips and testimonials – plus, clients simply expect it. If you don’t have a site, you need to make it happen. Right now. Otherwise, people will not take you seriously as an “experienced web writer.”

sad t-rex

Nooooo! Not “welcome to my site!”

– Your headline reads, “Welcome to my site.”

This is wrong for so many reasons. From a copywriting perspective, your headline is valuable real estate. Instead of wasting it on a “welcome” statement, you’re better served with a hard-hitting benefit statement. From a prospect’s perspective, saying “welcome” won’t make you stand out from the crowd. I will hit the back button on any site where I see “welcome” as the headline.

– Your home page preaches to the choir.

Your home page is not the place to explain why your prospect needs an experienced copywriter. They know this already. That’s why they’re on your site. Instead, you want to grab your prospects’ attention and compel them to click deeper into your site. That’s where they’ll find the information they need.

– You designed your site yourself. And it shows.

There’s nothing that screams “amateur” like broken links, an ancient design and bad stock photos. I know site design can be pricey. I get it. But this is one place where spending a little extra will go a long way. A professionally designed site will show your prospects you’re a serious business person. Besides, who has time to design their own site? You should be hustling for business instead.

– You talk about yourself way too much.

Words

Quit. Talking. About. Yourself.

Many freelance writers go on about the classes they’ve taken, the seminars they’ve attended and the newsletters they subscribe to.  Unfortunately, your prospects don’t care. What they do care about is what’s in it for them. Sure, you can address some of this stuff on your “about” page. Just focus your services pages around how your can help your prospects overcome a problem and make more money.

– Your blog hasn’t been updated in a long, long time.

You don’t have to publish a new blog post five times a week. What you do need to do is stick to a blog publication schedule. Maybe that’s once a week. Maybe that’s once a month. The key is consistency and writing the best possible post you can. If you prospect notices a neglected blog, she may wonder if you’ll neglect her copy the same way.

– Your copy doesn’t connect with your target audience.

To paraphrase an old Diana Ross song, “Do you know who you’re writing for?” You want your target reader to know that you “get” her, you understand her pain points and you want to help. That means the tone and feel, what you write – even the information you put on the page – is laser-focused on your reader. If you’re writing general copy, you’re going to get general (read: so-so) results.

– You don’t practice what you preach.

If you are an SEO writer, you better make darn sure that your site is optimized. That means a clickable Title, fantastic content and well-researched keyphrases. Prospects will judge you if your site isn’t up to SEO-snuff.

– All your text is below the fold.

Where's the content?

Where’s the content?

You may have fallen in love with the WordPress template with the fancy sliders and big images. But if your text is all the way below the fold, your prospects may not scroll down to see it. They may get hit with your slider and immediately surf away. Remember, you’re a writer. Text sells. Not fancy sliders. (Thank you +Chris Simmance!)

– Making your copy all about Google – not your reader.

Concerned about your rankings? You may think that writing content “for Google” (read: stuffing it full of keyphrases) is a smart move. But it’s not. Not by a long shot. Not only is this considered spam, but it’s really bad for your readers. Don’t do it.

Want more tips? You can follow along with the Google+ discussion.

If you’ve put off working on your site because you’re “too busy” or it’s “not important right now” – it’s time to get to it. Fixing these extremely common issues will help you land more clients, command more money and generate leads more easily.

In short, it’s worth the time.  Now, don’t you have some site tweaks to make? 😉

Need a second opinion on your writing. The SEO Copywriting Certification training now offers content reviews and feedback. Learn more about the training.

Image credit:

©  | Dreamstime.com

Diversify or die

DiversifyImagine what would happen if your biggest client left you for another vendor.

Would you be OK and simply move on to another client?

Or would you be out of business in less than two months?

You may think, “Hey, my clients are awesome. This will never happen to me.”

Yeah, I used to think that, too.

But here’s the scary thing…

Companies go out of business.

Companies have cash flow problems and slow-pay their vendors.

Your contact could quit or get fired – and your new contact may want to work with someone else.

Companies can (and will) break their retainer agreements with you.

If you don’t have other clients to take up the slack, you will be up a very stinky creek without a paddle.

I’ve seen this happen many times.

One woman worked with a client for over five years. When a new marketing manager came on board and wanted to “change directions,” her firm was fired – and the owner was suddenly scrambling for a full-time job.

Another person had to shut down his business and get a “real job” until he could build things back up again. It took him five years.

This can happen to you too. If you let it.

Here’s how to prevent an irritating situation from turning into one that crashes your business.

– Diversify your client base (or die.) Ever hear that you’re supposed to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables for maximum health? It’s the same with your client base. Rather than relying on just one (or two) main clients, have a number of client gigs going at once – plus, more prospects in the pipeline. That way, it won’t hurt if a client (even a big client) goes away. You can even build out a product or write a book. Those “extras” can mean some stable money.

– Build an emergency account. Freelance writers (and business owners in general) don’t often think about a business emergency account – but it is VERY important. Try to have at least three months’ expenses socked away. If a client flakes out, you’ll know you can still pay your bills. One way you can do this is to transfer a percentage of every sale to a savings account. That way, you’re always feeding your savings account in a low-stress, easy way.

– Always keep selling. Always. Don’t figure that you can sit back and rest on your laurels, because you can’t. I’ve made this mistake before. Take sales calls even if you’re busy. Send out proposals during your “I’m so swamped I can barely move” times. Otherwise, you may wake up one day and realize you have no work to do – and no income coming in.

– Consider any “big money” client extra cash. Don’t rely on it, don’t get used to it and for heaven’s sake – don’t spend all of it. In a perfect world, you bank a considerable part of that cash in your retirement or “just in case” fund.

The more you learn how to protect your business, the more you’ll be ready for those inevitable “lean times” that come your way. Then, you can find the perfect client to replace one that has left – rather than scrambling for whoever you can get.

And that’s a wonderful thing.

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Photo credit: Lola1960

Write for Humans and Robots for Best Search Results

Write for robots, too.

Robots write for us. We can write for them, too!

I’m not an SEO expert. I don’t even play one on TV.

But I am a communications expert and, as part of my job, I’ve been writing my entire career.

In 2008, when social media began to take a hold, many of us had to quickly figure out how to use content to build our brands.

And, as part of that brand-building exercise, came learning how to write for both readers and robots.

In fact, I didn’t realize there was an entire technical side of writing until well into my blogging journey. I was just writing what I thought people would like to read and using our social networks to expand our readership. And it worked.

As it turns out, though, if you are smart and strategic about also writing for robots, you can extend your readership much more quickly than writing just for humans.

Before you get out the tar and feathers, I’m not advocating keyword-stuffed content. The first priority is always to your readers. But there are a few things you can do to help grow your audience.

Plan

Andy Crestodina at Orbit Media Studios has a template he likes to use when he sets out to write a blog post.

It includes the headline, the target SEO keyword or phrase, the meta description, the permalink, and the images you plan to use.

This is where you plan your work.

Think about the competition already on the web for the topic.

Think about the amount of searches around the keyword or phrase you want to use.

Consider the images – are they original? Did you buy them? Or are they Creative Commons?

Will your meta description motivate people to click on the link when they come across your blog post in a search?

Does your permalink have your keyword or phrase in it?

It’s important to consider all of these things as you plan your content.

Do Your Research

Now it’s time to do your keyword research.

Take a look at the word or phrase you chose. Does it have a lot of competition? How many monthly searches does it have?

Let’s say it has 100 monthly searches and there isn’t a lot of competition. That’s a word or phrase worth using.

But if it has 20,000 monthly searches and you’re going to compete with big brands, you’ll want to tweak the word or phrase.

Once you determine the right fit, you’ll use that in your meta description, permalink and title.

Adjust those things, as necessary, from your planning phase.

Write

You can finally get to writing!

A few things to consider:

  • Blog posts should be 400-700 words to get the most Google juice.
  • Use headers, subheads and bullets to break up your content to make it easier to read.
  • Make sure you use your target keyword or phrase in at least one header … and I’d recommend three to five times in the copy.
  • Include approximately one link for every 100 words.
  • Provide a call-to-action, which can very easily be an invitation for comments.

The best kind of content written for humans includes active voice, short sentences and a reason to keep readers engaged. You can write in first or third person. Don’t make it too hard on yourself. Do what’s most comfortable for you.

Publish

Now it’s time to publish.

Most marketing and social media gurus aren’t very keen on Google+, but I love it because it helps with your search results. Google owns it and they want you to use it, so they’ll reward you if you do.

When you post the link to your newest content in Google+, use the keyword or phrase you’ve chosen for the piece.

Do this on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well. It’s less important on Facebook and Pinterest, but do try to customize your updates with the word or phrase in it.

Make it easy for your readers to share your content on the social networks by providing social share buttons on every page of your website or blog.

There is almost nothing more frustrating than wanting to share content and having to manually share it. Make it easy for your readers and they will reward you in turn.

So there you have it. It sounds like a lot, but the more you write, the easier it becomes.

About the Author

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is due out on March 10.

Photo thanks to Brett Jordan (Roboscribe)

Want to make more money – in less time – as a freelance writer? Take the Copywriting Business Bootcamp course! Start earning more now!

Freelance writers: How to tame the client from hell

Is this your freelance writing client?

Is this your freelance writing client?

Your client schedules meetings one hour before the start time.

When you tell her a job takes two weeks, she’s demanding her deliverable two days after you start.

Your client doesn’t show up for meetings (even if she scheduled them.) Sometimes she has a (poor) excuse as to why she didn’t show up. Other times, she completely blows you off without any explanation.

It’s easy to call this person the “client from hell.” She has unrealistic expectations, doesn’t respect your time and expects your best work for free. At the end of the workday, you’re cranky and filled with complaints. “I’m a professional. Why does she keep doing this to me?”

Here is your reality check. Your “client from hell” isn’t causing your unhappiness. You are – by letting it happen.

It’s tempting to put up with the behavior because, hey, it’s a client – and who wants to lose money? The issue is: setting boundaries with clients is extremely important. If you haven’t been 100% crystal clear with a client, it’s time to put your big girl (or boy) pants on and deal with the situation head-on.

Here’s how to change the situation:

– Know it’s OK to say “no”

Just because a client wants to meet right now doesn’t mean you have to accommodate them. It’s perfectly acceptable to say, “I’m afraid that I have other obligations at that time. I do have availability tomorrow at X or Y time.” If they want a deliverable earlier than promised, simply reiterate your expected delivery date. Being friendly yet firm can go a long way.

– Yes, you can charge for meeting time

This will change your life. Clients will respect your time much more if they know they’re paying for it. Just make sure that this is in your contract (and yes, you really do need a contract.)

– It’s OK to charge for missed meeting times

I’ll stay on the line for 15 minutes. If the client doesn’t show, I’ll bill them for the time. (I’ll waive the fee if there was an emergency and that’s why the client couldn’t make it.)

– Rush jobs = more money

Many freelance writers charge a 20-50% premium when the client needs a fast turnaround. That way, your time is covered (especially since you’ll have to move your schedule around to accommodate your client,) and your client gets what she needs.

– Out of scope = additional charges

It’s great when a client wants more work. It’s not so great when they don’t expect to pay for it. If the client requests something out of the original project scope, send them an email asking them to authorize the additional charge. Wait until you receive their approval before you start.

Will your client from hell kick back? Maybe. But if they do – and your client is truly driving you nuts – it’s OK to let them go. You’ll find another client to replace them soon.

Here’s what typically happens instead: Meetings are more streamlined. Rush jobs may still happen, but the client is prepared to pay for them. Your “client from hell” transforms into one of your favorite clients.

That’s a wonderful win/win for both parties.

What else would you suggest? How have you handled your own clients from hell (we’ve all had at least one …)

(Special thank you to the LinkedIn SEO Copywriting group for the post inspiration!).

Are you looking for ways to make more money as a freelance writer without working so darn hard? Check out the Copywriting Business Bootcamp. 12 experts share how you can increase your income and live a better life.

 

 

Freelance writers: Here's your secret to landing great clients

Why not stand out from the  rest of the freelance writing crowd?

Why not stand out from the rest of the freelance writing crowd?

Want to know the secret to closing more deals and landing more clients?

It’s all in your pitch.

What do you say when you talk to prospects (or chat with them on the phone?)

Do you say something like, “I’m a freelance writer with over four years experience. I write B2B copy and I specialize in web pages and blog posts.”?

Or do you say, “I transform existing B2B content into top-positioned and high-converting copy. My clients typically see a 25-60% increase in leads after my rewrites. I can work with your team as an outsourced partner or develop the content strategy for you.”

See the difference? One version pops with beefy benefit statements while the other version just … fizzles.

Many freelance writers are experts at creating USPs (unique selling propositions) for their clients. They can easily pinpoint exactly what makes their clients cool and what sets them apart.

However, these same super-smart writers get stuck when it comes to their own USPs. This is a huge disconnect. After all, there are thousands of other writers out there. You want to focus on what makes you unique. What you bring to the table. What makes you so good.

What makes you the writing expert that the client should hire? Right now.

The secret to wowing prospects and converting them into clients is to have a refined, sharp and snappy USP.  You’ve created them for your clients. Now it’s time to create one for yourself. A really good one.

Want to stand out? Here are some things to think about:

1. What past successes have you had? How have you increased your past clients’ conversion rates?

2. What specialized training do you have? Can you offer a service (such as copy testing) that other writers don’t offer?

3. Who is your target customer? What are their pain points and how can you help them go away?

4. What makes you different than all the other writers out there. Hint: It’s not “excellent customer service” or “attention to details.” All writers can and will say that. Think outside the box.

5.  Do you have a deep expertise in a certain subject matter? This is a big deal, especially in regulated industries.

6.  Do you package your services in a way that would be beneficial to your customers?

Feeling stuck? Ask another writer to help. Chances are she/he can pick your brain and develop a brilliant USP statement for you.

(And yes, you still need a USP, even if you’re brand new to the business. You may not be able to break out the beefy benefits yet, but you can certainly come up with something.)

Try tweaking your USP and see how it resonates with your prospects. Chances are, you’ll soon be closing more deals and making more money.

It’s all in the pitch. :)

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The SEO content writers' manifesto

SEO Writers' ManifestoI am more than “just a writer.”

I am a profit driver. A matchmaker. A storyteller.

A content marketing dream-fulfiller.

My SEO writing helps companies reach more people, do more good and make more money.

It doesn’t matter if I’m writing about industrial machinery, hotels or software.

Or if I’m blogging, tweeting or writing sales pages.

I entice my readers. I entertain them. And I empower them to make a buying decision.

I know that I have a responsibility to learn more, write more, research more.

The more I learn, the more my writing can touch one more person. Drive one more sale. Do more good.

Sitting on my laurels and refusing to expand my knowledge goes against everything I am.

I take classes. I read books. I study and network with other writers.

Sometimes, I’m even a copywriting rebel – because “following the rules” may not make sense 100% of the time.

I’m not afraid of Google.

I embrace new social networks, new algorithmic updates and new online opportunities.

Because I know I can master anything new that’s thrown my way.

And I know good writing never goes out of style.

I know my writing ability is a gift and I treat it like the precious thing it is.

I charge accordingly for my time, set good boundaries and work when I’m fresh.

When I feel burned out or blasé, I know taking a break will restore my focus and heighten my abilities.

This helps me write commanding SEO content that stands out, gets shared and boosts conversion rates.

I take care of myself physically and mentally.

And my writing inspires people to take action, calms peoples’ fears and gives them hope.

That’s pretty powerful.

Over the years, I will drive thousands (maybe millions) in profit for my clients.

I will change lives.

I will provide hope.

I will succeed.

I am an SEO content writer.

And I love what I do.

UPDATE: My designer, Erin Kistner, transformed this post into a beautiful graphic. Please feel free to share it. :) I’ll also have a downloadable PDF soon!

SEO Writers' Manifesto

Want a PDF of the SEO Writers’ Manifesto? Just sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send you the manifesto as a thank you! It’s perfect for those days when you need a little inspiration. Sign up now!

 

Freelance writers: Are you making this costly mistake?

Wow. This freelance writer is really frustrated. Been there. Done that.

You answer emails within five minutes of them hitting your inbox.

You race to pick up the phone by the third ring, no matter what you’re doing (or writing.)

A client emails you Saturday night at 10:45 and you immediately return their note. Even if that means taking time away from your family.

And you’re always exhausted and wondering how you can work an 11-hour day with nothing to show for it.

Sound familiar? If so, quit it! You’re hurting your productivity by being so available (and hurting your business, too.)

Here’s why:

If you don’t value your time, why should your client?

Have you ever experienced the Friday “drop and go?” This is when a client emails you late on a Friday and writes, “I’m heading out for the weekend, but I need this first thing on Monday.

Ouch.  Suddenly, you realize that your weekend plans are now on hold until you can get the client stuff squared away.

No fun.

I’ve gone through this before. I actually had a prospect demand a proposal on Christmas Eve (really!). Did I do it? Yes. And the client didn’t look at the proposal until mid-January. Yeah. I learned my lesson.

The truth is, we train our clients how to treat us. If we’re always available and accommodating, it’s not the client’s fault for thinking we could handle a weekend project. Or a rush job. Or we’d drop everything so we could complete “just this one thing.”

That’s why setting client boundaries is so important. Yes, be available within reason. And yes, there may be those times when you do work a weekend to take care of a good client. But it shouldn’t be an expectation.

Being overly available kills your productivity

“I can’t get everything done” is a common freelance writer frustration. If this is a frustration of yours, here’s a reality check:

If you’re bouncing from email to client project to phone calls, you’ll never have enough time. It will take you ten times longer to finish a fast project. You’re doing it to yourself – even if it feels like it’s being done to you. You’re multitasking yourself into an unproductive frenzy. 

So here’s what to do about it:

1. Train yourself to NOT respond every time you hear the phone ring or your email ding. Turn off the ringer. Mute the notifications. Close the door. Do everything you can to give yourself some uninterrupted work time. It’s OK. People will leave a message. You can call/email them back.

2. Tell your clients when you are available.  Most clients don’t require (or expect) an instant response. They just want to know that you’ll get back to them within a reasonable amount of time. It’s even OK to write, “I received this and I’ll look into it later today,” so they know you’re on it.

3. Practice saying, “I’m happy to do this. There will be a rush fee of X.” It’s amazing how clients will suddenly value your time much more when they know there’s an extra cost involved. :) Plus, if you do work a rush job, you know you’ll be well compensated for your time.

Try implementing these strategies. I guarantee you’ll feel more centered, energetic and focused during the day. Plus, you’ll probably see a nice productivity spike – which could mean more money in your pocket. Bonus!

What do you do to keep yourself on track? Please leave a comment with your favorite boundary-setting strategies!

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Go jump in the ocean! Better yet, take a flying leap!

Jumping in the ocean on New Year's DayIt’s my first post of 2014. I can’t believe we are a week into the year already. Let me wish you a belated happy New Year!

Now that we got that out the way, let me tell you to go take a flying leap!

Don’t take that the wrong way, I’m not telling you off; I’m offering inspiration.

Clean the slate

2013 wasn’t the best year for me (although it definitely had some good highlights). Just a few low moments included:

  • Breaking my nose
  • Ending my 10-year marriage
  • Having to dramatically cut my business to part-time and get a 9-to-5 job
  • Putting on a bunch of the weight I had previously took off (and kept off for several years)

I highlighted other not-so-great moments and some positive outlooks in my Not another thankful post, if you were curious.

Needless to say, I was ready to move on from 2013 and wanted to embrace 2014. I felt as though I was digging myself out of hole and needed to just give myself a new starting point.

I saw 2014 as that new starting point.

A little less talk and a lot more action

In my last post of 2013, I discussed setting goals instead of making resolutions. A couple of years ago, Heather outlined the same strategy, but got more in depth with how to apply this to your content marketing goals.

So once you set your goals, how do you flip the switch? Is having the goal enough to change your behaviors? Not always.

Sometimes you need to conquer your fears in order to make the next move.

Make it dramatic, if you have to

Some people can just make a decision then take action. Other people need to be guided through the process (read: dragged into change). And still other people just need something to spark the change.

I like that spark – even if it is symbolic.

SkydivingSeveral years ago, when my life needed a shakeup, I jumped out of an airplane. That year, I quit a job that I hated and started my freelance copywriting business. It was freeing and wonderful. Jumping out of the plane was the symbolic change I needed.

To kick off 2014, I jumped into the ocean (dove in head first) on New Year’s Day. It was my way to wash off all that I didn’t want from 2013, so I could start 2014 clean.

Things didn’t magically change with diving in that ocean, but I had the spark I needed. In less than a week from jumping in the ocean, I ran a 5k (I haven’t been running in months!) and I joined a gym (with a gym partner to keep me motivated).

Where’s your spark?

What’s it going to take to get you moving? What can you do that will get you motivated and excited to take that first crucial step? Whatever it is – whether it is symbolic or a concrete step (like renting an office space) – go for it.

Make 2014 your year to shine! Happy New Year!

Start the new year off right with 20% off of the SEO Copywriting Certification training. Just use coupon code HAPPY2014. Hurry though – offer ends January 20!