Writing Journal 11: Copywriting, Blogs and Clever Traffic Trick

Writing Journal 11: Copywriting, Blogs and Clever Traffic Trick

My writing journal for Friday, August 22, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

The fourth novella is underway; I LIKE these characters

Sometimes you create characters who are fun from the get-go. You know them, and you love them. Sheer happiness. I was right to trash what I’d created originally, to go with this new idea.

Did a cluster diagram for the first scene, then another for the two main characters’ emotional arcs though the book.

Wrote just 1,200 words, but the material’s solid.

A tip: if you cluster before, during, and after a fiction project, you’ll find that it’s easier to get the voice of a character right. You’ll need to tidy up in your second draft, but the voice is there from the start.

Authentic Writing, our new program, helps you to build your clustering skills with lots of how-to and exercises.

Nonfiction, and copywriting…

On to nonfiction. I dug in, and wrote 2,500 words. This book is going to go fast, which is a good thing. More research on the tagline I’m doing for the client, and a cluster diagram, just to see what’s in my head.

Next, Honey’s breakfast, and catching up on email during my own breakfast.

Whew, lots of copywriting, and client blogging to do today. I make a quick cluster on an index card, because I remember visuals more easily than lists.

Which reminds me. I need to get more images. I keep a running list of images I need for current and upcoming projects. The list’s getting too long.

I created a task to explore stock photo libraries on the weekend, to whittle down the list. I also need to email my blogging clients to nag them for PHOTOS. I don’t particularly care what kind of photos, anything will do.

Images are becoming essential for social media. You can’t encourage people to share your content if you ham-string them with image-less content.

Then I make some audio notes in Evernote. It’s often easier just to blurt out my thoughts, rather than write.

Next, my walk, with phone in hand, to make more audio notes, and to check my Reminders in Evernote.

Copywriting and blogging: crack the whip — onward!

I’m back, and it’s a full morning of copywriting projects and blogging.

Get traffic from Slideshare with blog post PDFs

Apropos of blogging, I tried out a little trick that traffic guru Ana Hoffman talked about — turning blog posts into PDFs, and uploading them to Slideshare. I didn’t think it would work as advertised.

It does. It’s EASY. Here’s a link to a slide deck I created from a blog post PDF.

PrintFriendly is an excellent resource too. It creates no-hassle PDFs from Web pages fast. I added the extension to Chrome; very useful.


Heh. Simples (in meerkat voice… )

After I uploaded the PDF, I downloaded it from Slideshare to make sure the links survived when people save the PDF, and they did. :-)

Excellent. Ana always has wonderful ideas. I must remember this simple trick; several of my clients will benefit from it. It takes just a couple of minutes — remember to edit the blog post to add a bio, you can remove it later, and you’re done.


Out of the office, Friday lunch

Julia and I close up and leave for our usual Friday lunch. Excellent… I can indulge my Hummingbird cake addiction. Julia suggests that I make it at home, and kill the addiction by over-indulging. Good idea. :-)

This recipe looks easy.

More blogging and copywriting projects

I return some phone calls, catch up with students on email and Trello, then focus on blogging for clients. I’ve been blogging since 1999, and blogging for clients since 2004. A decade. The mind boggles. I love blogging because it’s instant publishing — and instant gratification too.

Here’s my process:

  1. Create a content calendar for a blog (after a lot of research;)
  2. Develop goals for the blog;
  3. Create draft posts;
  4. Schedule posts to publish.
  5. Schedule on-going research for each blog, and communication with clients. I get in touch at least once week, and I’m copied on all up-coming marketing campaigns. You can’t write blog posts without raw material.

I do the reading and research in the evening; I don’t have time during the day. Evernote is a godsend, because I can clip research into Evernote, so that by the time I’m ready to draft some posts, I have the materials.

Next, it’s time to finish up as many copywriting projects as I can, so that Julia can proof everything.

And we’re done. Daily review and word count: done. Time for the weekend…

I love the meerkat ad. Here you go, if you haven’t seen it…


, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 9: Novella DONE, Scrivener, And An On-Site

Writing Journal 9: Novella DONE, Scrivener, And An On-Site

My writing journal for Wednesday, August 20, 2014. You can find all the entries here.

Fiction and nonfiction: the novella is DONE!

DONE… Just 1,600 words — I added an epilogue. And  the third novella is done. Now some revision, and editing, and it’s off to the client.

I didn’t have time to create a MOBI file, that’s for tomorrow, when I’ll be starting the fourth novella in the series of five. I need to wrap up this series quickly. I’ve got a few more fiction commissions to fulfill, and then I can focus on my own fiction.

Before I started on the final scene, I had an idea for the book’s cover. The designer sent the PSD file, along with the cover, so it’s a simple matter to add the extra text to the cover. I send the client the image of the amended cover.

Tip: if you’re working with a cover designer: get the Photoshop (PSD) file. Then you can make any changes you like.

Next, nonfiction. The book’s humming along. Another 1200 words, with lots of “XXX” areas, as placeholders for research.

I’ll be out most of today, working on-site with a client. So, I need to get the email backlog out of the way next.

Scrivener questions: is it “worth it?”

I’ve mentioned Scrivener, and received a couple of messages asking whether Scrivener is “worth it”.

I’m a huge Scrivener fan. I started using Scrivener in around 2006, with the beta versions.

In 2005, I switched from Windows to Mac, even thought I was still contributing to PC magazines. I dithered for months, worrying about this decision. Could I still write for PC magazines when I became a “Mac person”? (Snicker. All the dithering I did back them seems silly now.)

My intuition kept prodding me to make the switch, so finally I did, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. Mac programs like RapidWeaver, Curio and Scrivener made me not only more productive, but more creative too.

They’ve also made writing a joy, and I don’t say this lightly. So I make no apologies for being a Scrivener enthusiast. :-)

YES, Scrivener is worth it — a thousand times over. It takes time to learn, but not long, considering how powerful the program is. Once you understand the basics, which won’t take you longer than it takes to go through the Tutorial, you know enough to write with Scrivener. You’ll make many happy discoveries along your journey.

Join the Scrivener Community on Google+. Post any questions you have, the members are kind and generous, and only too pleased to help new Scrivener users.

One of the biggest benefits of Scrivener for me is that you can keep multiple books in a single Scrivener file. All the novellas for this client are in a single Scrivener file, for example.

Last year, I wrote three full-length mysteries for a client; they’re all in one file. This means that you can easily refer to other books as you write, to make sure you keep the characters straight. You can create front and back matter templates, and use them for each book.

And of course, if you want to edit a title at any time — to change the links to the other books in a series in the back matter, for example, you can do it simply. Make the changes, and compile to create a new MOBI or EPUB file, and upload it to Amazon, or wherever.

I hate searching for things and I can only imagine the chaos if I were to attempt to write a series of books for a client — or for myself — and had to keep everything organized without Scrivener.

Breakfast for Honey.

Then work on a couple of small copywriting projects for clients. One is a tagline. I write a list of questions to answer, so that I can start on the research.

The other copywriting project is a sales page, so I create an initial cluster diagram for that.

Breakfast for me, then I’m off to the on-site.

Late afternoon…

I’m back in the office. The on-site work was busy and fun, but we had a late meeting. Afterward, I had some errands to run, so I’m back late.

All the work I’d hoped to do this afternoon needs to be rescheduled. I make notes for Julia, so that she can do that.

A final pass to catch up with email, then it’s time for the daily review, and a look at my word counts.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 8: Books, and Upcoming Programs

Writing Journal 8: Books, and Upcoming Programs

My writing journal for Tuesday, August 19, 2014. You can find all the entries here.

Fiction and nonfiction: writing and reading

Hooray… final scene of the novella coming up. I’m getting ahead of myself, and realize that the main character’s arc is off by one or two scenes. I wish I could leave it alone, and stop tinkering, until I’ve finished the draft. Then I can read the whole thing.

When I get close to the finish line, my brain starts to fizz like champagne. Just 1,000 words today, because of the tinkering, but that’s fine. I’ll complete the novella tomorrow. I resist the temptation to compile a MOBI file and send it to my Kindle app. I don’t want to read it, until it’s done.

Instead, I look over my material for the new novella. With any luck, I should be able to start the new novella this week, and wrap it up quickly.

On to the new nonfiction book. I managed 1,500 words. Lots of “XXX” marks in places where I need to research. I’m pleased. I’ve made a good start on this.

I’ve talked about researching AFTER you write on the freelance blog. The idea is that you write a quick draft, so you know where you’re headed. Then you know what you need to research. Just put “XXX” where you need to research so you can find those areas when your draft is done.

If you research before you write, you’ll end up with lots of information you won’t need. Not only does this slow you down, it means that you lose focus.

Clustering has many uses

We’ve received some questions about clustering. Clustering is basically mind mapping, and as with mind mapping, you can use it for everything.

My brain feels fuzzy and full this morning. My attention’s snagging on the novella. I need to put it out of my mind and think about everything else I need to do today. So I create a cluster diagram of today’s important things to do, and to remember. When I get pulled back to fiction, I can snap myself out of it by checking the cluster.

If you’re not familiar with clustering, here are a couple of links to help you to use this wonderful tool.

I use clustering many times each day. Yesterday I had a couple of coaching calls, so I clustered what I wanted to chat about with each student before the call. Then I clustered during each call. I photographed all the clusters — they were just on index cards — into each student’s notebook in Evernote. I can refer to the clusters months from now, and I’ll be able to remember what we discussed.

Email: clients and students

Clustering has cleared my mind a little. Lots to get done today. First, email. I need to create some quotes for client projects, and give feedback to students on their exercises.

We’ve got boilerplate templates for everything. I can call up a template with a couple of keystrokes with TextExpander (Mac). Do you use templates? Start creating them. They’ll save you seconds, minutes and hours over the course of a month.

Honey and I have breakfast.

Then a chat with Julia. I’m doing a phone presentation this afternoon, so Julia’s sending the presentation PDF to the client, and doing some research on the company. When you pitch, you need all the insights you can get. I set a reminder for 30 minutes before the call, so that I can clear my mind, rehearse, and prepare.

Off for my walk. There are still showers around, so I’ll take an umbrella.

Next, the program description for Authentic Writing

Back again, and looking at my watch… I need to draft this quickly, because tomorrow morning and most of the afternoon will be spent working on-site for a client.

Lunch at my desk, reading social media.

Then, reviewing the presentation, and preparing for it.

The client calls on time, and we have a good phone meeting. I know they’ve asked other people to pitch for this project, so I’ll mark it as “done” in my calendar, and will add a reminder to follow up with them in a couple of weeks.


Leap into Copywriting: 3-week online class

The class is in 3 modules, with a total of 15 video and audio lessons with worksheets. As you complete a lesson, you send us your exercises for feedback. We’re estimating that we’ll be running the class once a month.

I’ve planned the modules, and the first week. Just need to record the videos and audios. I spend a couple of timer sessions planning exercises for the modules.

Next up, more paperwork. Ugh. At the end of a couple of hours of paperwork, my brain is mush.

It’s late, so it’s time to do the daily review, and tot up the word counts for the day. It’s been a good day.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 7: Fiction, Blogging and Coaching

Writing Journal 7: Fiction, Blogging and Coaching

My writing journal for Monday, August 18, 2014. All the entries are here.

Today promises to be a busy day. Lots to write, and a couple of phone coaching sessions at the end of the day.

Fiction and nonfiction: ending one project, and starting another

Up at 5AM, as usual. Wrote 1200 words of the novella this morning. Just another couple of scenes to write. I went over the first couple of chapters this morning, and had to stop myself reading. I’ll create a MOBI file of the novel tomorrow, so that I can read it when I’m away from my work computer.

Then I drew the first cluster diagram for the next novella in this series – there’s a theme for the series, and I want my subconscious mind to start thinking about this new book as I wrap up the current one..

Whenever I reach the mid point of a project, I’m eager to get the project done. With only two novellas to complete, I’m well past the midpoint on this project. The next two stories will be shorter. At least, that’s what I’m hoping.

After a quick email message to my fiction client, I start on the new nonfiction book for the series I’ve ghostwritten for a client.

This client hasn’t commissioned me to write any more books in the series, however I know that he wants me to write several more.

So last night, while thinking about the rest of this year, and 2015, I decided that this will be the last book I ghostwrite for him. If he offers me a commission for the next book, I’ll set him up with someone else to  complete the series.

I’m committed to making 2014 the final year I take on so many ghostwriting projects.

Last year, I had every intention of cutting back on my ghostwriting commissions. However, long writing experience has trained me to grab great projects when I can. So I kept grabbing, which is fine. However, it means that I’m doing much too much “work done for hire”. The fees for the ghostwritten materials are excellent. When I see authors like Russell Blake building wonderful careers, I know that I should be focusing on my own fiction and nonfiction.

I’m resisting working on my own materials, and it’s frustrating.

When you meet resistance, ask yourself why

Resistance is always interesting for writers. I think I know what’s behind mine — fear, as always. When you accept commissions, you’re not risking anything. Enough musing on my psyche. Onward with the nonfiction project.

I write a short description of the project, and create chapter documents in Scrivener. Then I write an introduction of 600 words.

This is odd. Usually I complete a book, then write the introduction. Not to worry, I’ll go with it. Now I’ve started it, I want to get it done. I create a cluster diagram for the first chapter, and write some research questions.

Breakfast for Honey, and then for me. No walking today. It’s raining and windy. Yoga later.

Email and blogging

Julia’s arrived, so we have a coffee while going over this week’s projects. Then I work on blogging.

Next, a dip into social media, and more blogging, for the freelance writing blog.

And it’s lunch time. No time to go out to lunch, so Julia and I chat and read social media. It’s still raining.

I’ve got some administrative chores to get through, so I turn on Spotify and resist the temptation to poke myself in the eye with a sharp pencil. I resist doing essential housekeeping chores as long as I can. Very immature behavior. :-) I tell myself to stop complaining, turn on the timer, and stick it out for two sessions.

Two sessions done, and I stick with it for another session — that’s almost two hours. Once I get started, it’s easy to keep going. I know this, but procrastinate anyway.

Time to return phone calls.

Then ten minutes of yoga.

Authentic writing — project revision

I spend two timer sessions on this. I’ve removed a couple of the exercises, and added another couple.

Late afternoon, and I have two phone coaching sessions for which to prepare. I need to study a student questionnaire from a new personal coaching student, and prepare my ideas for another student’s book marketing project.

The phone coaching sessions go well. The students are enthusiastic, and so am I.

It’s late, so I do a quick review of the day. It’s been a busy and productive day – I broke the back of the administrative chores. My word count totals aren’t as high as I’d hoped, but tomorrow is another day. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.