How to Spot a Time Wasting Client before You Break a Deal

As a professional content writer who is madly in love with his job, you hate the idea of wasting time and valuable food for thought while trying to win pitch work. Sometimes you blame yourself for your lack of success; other times, you realize that there’s nothing wrong with you or your work, and feel like you’ve been double-crossed by a potential client whose only goal in life was to drain the life out of you for no obvious reason.

Avoid the Sisyphus Effect by Ceasing Collaborations with Time-Wasting Clients

Whether you’ve had your dreams shattered by a demanding Joe who always wants more than he is willing to pay for, or have had the misfortune to stumble across an indecisive Jane who wants you to follow this path, then take a completely different road to content creation success, then change strategies a few more times until you finally set your own brain on fire and reach a predictable dead end, the truth is that all these unproductive encounters with such potential clients are going to cost you money, time, and beautiful life experiences.

We’ve all been down this road. It’s not pleasant. So what do you do avoid getting sucked into a toxic relationship with a client that will inevitably waste your time?

5 Steps to Follow to Make Sure That No Bad Client Will Waste Your Time and Energy Ever Again

Here’s what we advise you to do in this situation: pick up the pieces of your broken ego off the floor, admit your mistake, and learn how to spot a time-wasting client before actually allowing him or her to bring you down, and put your valuable resources on the line for no legitimate reason. Just to make sure you’ll never lose a wink of sleep over a dreadful prospect ever again, apply the following writer’s tips before signing with a potentially problematic client.

  1. Go Deep with Your Prospects. Start by getting to know your clients. When it comes to accepting bigger or more complex projects, always consider scheduling a face-to-face meeting that would enable you to become familiar with all potential clients, and make sure you are on the same page. When in-person meetings are not an option, make use of lifesaving communication tools (free or paid), designed to bridge the gap between service providers and clients or remote employees, such as Google Hangouts, Skype, Ring Central or Basecamp.
  2. Get in Touch with People Who Have Already Worked with/for Your Potential Client. As a professional content creator, you already know that in-depth research always pays off, no? So in this case, why not play private investigator and find out a thing or two about your potential clients before agreeing to get involved in their projects? While most prospects may be reluctant to give out information about their previous collaborators, remember that the Internet has a memory like an elephant. One simple Google search can offer you the contact information of other freelancers/agencies that have been in contact with the client seeking your help with a new project. At the end of the day, lifesaving details related to the background of a potential customer may be just one call or click away.
  3. Become Familiar with the Most Common Bad Client Typologies. In a previous post, we have presented a series of the most common (and sometimes puzzling) client personalities. Some of them are harmless, yet somewhat annoying- just imagine that you would have to answer 10,000 different questions emailed by curious George while working a million other things; or think about the fact that you would have to deal with Know-It-All Netty who has a billion awesome ideas (always so much better than yours) and could always teach you a thing or two about how to do your job. What do these clients have in common? Sometimes, all of them could make you waste time. Fortunately, there are a few writers’ tips that you can apply to avoid this scenario.
  • Make sure your business terms are compatible with the ones of your potential client
  • Discuss important aspects such as rates, project deadlines, revision policies and so on before taking on a new assignment
  • Let your prospects know when (and how) they could reach you to discuss various aspects related to their project
  • Get everything in writing to avoid any potential customer complains
  1. Go with Your Gut. Sometimes, freelance writers cannot spot warning flags because they insist on using them as blindfolds. Maybe they need the money really bad, wish to add a certain important collaboration to their resumes and portfolios, or just miss writing about a topic revolving around their passions and interests.

While all these goals may contribute to your long or short-term satisfaction, they will almost never make up for your lost time and energy, especially when dealing with clients who don’t really know what they want, keep trying to lower your asking price, or are simply shopping around for cheap, recyclable content. In this situation, we advise you to trust your gut feeling. If a certain client seems difficult to work with from the very beginning, simply walk away and preserve your inner peace, time and energy for other important upcoming projects.

  1. Become Acquainted with the Terms of a Polite Breakup. Assuming that you have already started working for a certain client whose attitude/working method/vision is totally incompatible with yours, what should you do before running for the hills? If you wish to terminate a collaboration that no longer serves you, start by becoming familiar with the particularities of a civilized breakup. Stay calm, polite and honest, and embrace the “it’s not you, it’s me” approach; by doing so, you could let time-wasting clients know they could find other content writing service providers that may be a better match for their companies.

At the end of the day, a great client is the one that pays well (and on time!), appreciates your work at its true value, and doesn’t stress you with a million pointless unnecessary questions and remarks. You can separate potential good clients from the ones who will only make your stress levels go through the roof as you waste time and dozens of amazing creative ideas, by simply researching all your prospects, and discussing your offers and expectations before drafting and signing a contract. What kind of writers’ insight would you offer to a freelancer striving to avoid time-wasting clients? Let us know in a comment below.

7 Ways to Take Your Writing from Yawn-Inspiring to Awe-Inspiring in a Few Seconds without an Editor

If you are like most content writers, chances are that you know just how frustrating it can be to get stuck on a headline for a very important piece or waste valuable hours of sleep trying to figure out what topics you should expand on next, in order to keep your readers on your side.

So what exactly should you do, when no amount of coffee could keep you awake like a pending deadline does? How could you write better onsite and offsite content when you can’t afford to add a great editor or content manager to your small team of creative minds?

You do what you can, with what you already have, and focus on becoming an even more successful all-in-one content creation guru. OK, so how do you do that?

7 Steps to Take to Become a Truly Inspiring Writer without an Editor on Board

While there is no secret tried and true recipe for success that you should apply to make your articles and blog posts seem more appealing in the eyes of your audience, there are a few simple and effective strategies that you could employ to elevate the quality of your writing in no time.

  1. Craft a More Compelling Story Introduced via a Magnetic Headline. Start by figuring out what you should write about. Choose a subject that is compatible with your interests and business profile, and also manages to address the curiosities of your public. Craft a compelling story around your brand, and make it about your readers. Before actually putting meat on the bones of your content piece, come up with an attention-grabbing headline that is tantalizing enough to make your readers stay on your page and read the whole body copy. Avoid writing headlines that are too vague or too specific to harness the interest of your audience and feed their curiosity.
  2. Start a Meaningful Conversation with Your Readers. Next, strive to create a solid bond with the people who visit your blog or website by begging your piece with an important question. Questions invite people to meditate on ideas that could change their lives for the best, and also give you, as a writer, the perfect opportunity to add your thoughts and maintain a fruitful dialogue with your public.
  3. Write with Your CTAs in Mind. Instead of letting your words flow freely, write with your specific purpose in mind. What kind of actions do you wish to drive through your content piece? Start by writing down a part of your desired outcome. By doing so, you could craft a more specific, action-inducing post, instead of creating a piece that is overly metaphorical and exploratory. Start the piece with a short introduction focused on the main pain points; continue by adding background information; develop a framework announcing possible solutions to the problems experienced by your readers; then draw the necessary conclusions by presenting the pros and cons of your preferred solution and encourage your audience to take action.
  4. Expand on Topics That You Are Familiar with (and Passionate about) and Get Specific. Making small talk with your readers is never a good idea, considering that most of your public is looking for quality problem-solving writing on your website. This is why you should always write your posts with the specific needs and demands of your readers in mind. Use a series of online tools such as Blog Topics Generator or Evernote to find inspiration for your next article or blog post, and organize and store your ideas in a more efficient way.

Also, keep in mind that we are all different, and don’t hesitate to get very specific and let your readers know exactly how you do things. Write about things that you are really good at; this way, you will manage to answer any potential question on to the core of your piece, surprise your audience with the best solutions to any subject-relayed problem, and establish yourself as an industry expert.

  1. Make Sure Your Writing Alternates between Third, Second and First Person. Also, keep in mind that your writing should reflect the perfect balance between first and third person. Opt for a smooth transition from the “I” statements, which allow the reader to become familiar with your own experiences and learn from them, to second and third person narrative, meant to help you create empathy and present a scene that will interest the readers, from the perspective of a neutral observer, encouraging your audience to respond to your calls to action.
  2. Incorporate Links to Your Favorite Sources. Believe it or not, no one expects you to reinvent the wheel while promoting your business via informative, engaging articles and blog posts. As a matter of fact, by adding links to your content pieces, you could highlight the fact that you are producing high-quality, well-researched and well-rounded content, and boost the credibility of your website.
  3. Rewrite the Begging and the End of Your Piece. Moreover, strive to become your own editor. Reread your work to eliminate fluff and reword certain sections that provide little to no value to your readers. After finishing the last sentence of your body copy, try to summarize and rewrite the beginning and the end. By doing so, you could keep the intro short and sweet, make the CTAs more noticeable and effective, and gain the appreciation of readers with a short attention span.

Practice What You Preach Often to Exceed Your Own Efforts as a Writer

At the end of the day, becoming a better writer is a perfectly achievable goal, especially when your personalized recipe for success involves consistency and practice. Writing is so much more than a method to generate and share life-changing ideas. As an invaluable communication tool, your written content pieces allow you to bridge any gap between your brand and your audiences. Given that the stake is so high, choose to redirect all your resources towards a process of self-discovery and self-improvement to reestablish yourself as an industry leader through your stellar content.

How to Handle These Freelance Writing Client Personalities Without Breaking a Sweat

I know freelance writing is no picnic. I mean, you’re doing what you love, you get to determine your own schedule, but there’s one thing you cannot avoid if you want to make a living as a writer: clients. You need them probably more than they need you. After all, someone’s got to pay for the lifestyle to which you’d like to be accustomed.

But, you’re always going to come across a few challenging personalities. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most typical clients you will come across – whether you are sourcing work from local businesses, online bidding sites, or *gasp* content mills (please, say it isn’t so!).

  1. Curious George

We’ll call our curious client George. He’s one of the most frustrating you’ll encounter. At first, he’ll be so impressed with your samples and so excited to work with you that he’ll talk the hind legs of your proverbial donkey and appear to live on coffee by the jar-full. At first, you may be eager to share your knowledge with George and offer extra tidbits here and there, but over time George becomes a thorn in your side: he’s demanding, and he’s slowing you down with every question he asks.

Here’s the thing: George doesn’t just want progress reports, he wants to know how you do your work, where you get your information from, and he’ll want you on Skype at ungodly hours nearly every day. So, you need to be direct. Tell George you’re busy and your time is limited. Let him know time is money for freelance writing and if he wants meetings and reports, he’ll need to make an appointment and stick to the allotted time.

  1. Cheapskate Charlie

There are so many Charlies in the freelance world, aren’t there? Charlie has a budget, and he doesn’t budge. He’s happy to sacrifice time and quality so long as you’re cheap. After all, why put a price on your training, education, time and dedication? Your kids don’t need to eat, right?

If you find Charlie approaching you for freelance writing, discuss quality with him. Let him know that he is going to get what he pays for and if he wants anything else, well, Charlie will have to dig a little deeper or move on. By the way, if you’re happy to work with Charlie, don’t spend too much time on his project; he isn’t paying for time or research, he just wants the job done. And don’t forget to lock him into a contract before you start – he may have no intention of paying you otherwise.

  1. Know-It-All Nelly

Nelly is easy to spot – you’ll hate her as soon as you’ve begun working with her. She knows more about freelance writing than you do, but she hired you regardless. She will interrupt you every chance she gets and refuses to be swayed by her ideas, which are obviously the best thing since, well, ever.

Nelly is a control freak, and she demands respect. It’s actually her insecurity. Use a little basic psychology to win her over: give her respect and power. Stroke her ego now and then to win her over. But do pick your battles, you are a professional, after all. Don’t fight back on every issue, save your strength for the bigger moments. Better yet, Nelly is someone who is often easier to walk away from if she refuses to respect your work and insists on working you up more than letting you get on with business.

  1. Helpful Harry

Harry is a sweetheart, but if you don’t handle him properly from the outset, he’s going to get under your feet. Harry likes to be hands-on, he loves interacting with you and your work. As long as you can keep Harry occupied, you two can get along.

If Harry insists on helping you, give him space to. It’s the perfect opportunity to practice your delegation skills and learn how to be a team player in a freelance world. So, give Harry something to do, just identify his skillset first and then ask him to perform a task related to the project, such as research.

  1. Day Dreamer Debbie

Debbie is not of this Earth. Her head is filled with big plans and harebrained ideas. Whether it’s about function or style, Debbie wants to ensure her product is the best thing out there. For a freelancer writer, helping make Debbie’s dreams come true can be tough. Without discouraging her passion, you need to bring her back into reality.

Ask Debbie to show you examples of what she really likes and be honest with her about timeframes and prices, so she knows what she is in for. Also, ask Debbie for details; get her to fill in the blanks. While her end goal is probably incredible, by discussing the details, you can both get a grasp on the scope of the writing project.

  1. Sophia the Sprinter

Sophia is exhausting. She saps you of energy and patience, and she’s on a mission to win an Olympic gold for most deadlines met in the history of deadlines and in the quickest time possible. Sophia thinks that is you can write her eBook in two weeks; then there’s no reason not to get it done in 24 hours.

For Sophia, time is of the essence, and, hey, it is for you too. After all, you want to get paid, don’t you? Sophia is a hardworking client; we can’t deny her that, so she has high expectations for those she deals with. If you’re about to take on a client like this, proceed with caution. Don’t get caught up in something that leaves you with an over-demanding assignment and a client pushing you every minute to get the job in. Let her know that every minute spent answering her queries is another minute away from the job. She’ll probably understand.

With Sophia, you need to guard your deadlines, so be realistic and flexible from the outset. Don’t budge from the deadlines when she is asking you to sprint ahead.

Have you come across a George, Nelly, Charlie, Harry, Debbie or Sophia along your freelance writing journey? Share with us how you handled them!

Terrible Writing Advice from Other Writers and Why You Shouldn’t Take It

According to some experts, there are only two kinds of talent: art and mathematics. Although, I can’t remember who said that, I believe it’s true! The written word is no comparison to other art forms like movies, music or television. Story-telling is the oldest and truest form of art and therefore, writing is a talent.

But how does one go about nurturing this gift? Who to ask for advice and who to listen to? If you’re like most writers, you use the Internet for a plethora of advice – from the most offensive to the most supportive. I normally just ignore those articles. But sometimes, I find myself curious enough to read in the hopes that, the advice is worth a pretty penny.

Too much written detail spoils the broth

This advice sometimes inhibits your masterful gift of gab! It tells you to write only when you need to say something or have something in mind. So they want you to shut up and K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid). But what if your writing acumen is so engrossing; your details are what keep your readers hooked on everything you describe. One author set the rule at ten to twelve words per sentence! That’s impossible if you’re asking your readers to picture the sprawling plantation of Tara in Gone With The Wind. Inconceivable especially if you’re describing an enchanting lady, with jet black hair and mesmerizingly blue eyes who dreadfully dies a mysteriously tragic death. Hints of Edgar Allan Poe come to mind. So you see, sometimes, less is not more.

Punctuations

Writers have the freedom to diverge from the norm. Keyword here is FREE. Which is why it is artistically accepted to disobey punctuation rules, well sometimes. This is not Composition 101 anyway. In particular, the use of semi-colons, who Kurt Vonnegut describes as “transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing.” But they do have a purpose! And it’s your writing style that we’re cultivating here. Never mind what Vonnegut says.

Forget motherhood

One forgettable advice I’ve read from writers is this: You want to be a serious writer? Don’t become a mom! For them, serious writing will be borne out of total seclusion from the world where only you and your thoughts linger. Some famous writers made masterpieces after being one with thought. Maybe isolation develops creativity. Speaking from experience, motherhood has taken me to a new level of ingenuity. I am more sensitive and reaching out. I’m an entirely different jigsaw puzzle put back together.

The final analysis

It all boils down to this: Have Confidence. Don’t believe everything you read, especially the negative ones. Not all advice is right but others should be carefully weighed. One could go crazy thinking about these sometimes quirky or contradictory advices. Remember, the foundation of your very own writing style will come out from this confidence – a confidence that’s often misunderstood and suppressed. Hey, you’ve got that talent after all! Not only is it a work of art – it’s actually a work of heart.

There’s No Such Thing as Writer’s Block: 5 True and Tried Facts About Overcoming This Issue

Writer’s block is an excuse. It’s your way of finding a reason not to write, but guess what, you’re not fooling anyone. That’s not to say you won’t ever feel a little stuck, of course, you will. You’ll find yourself feeling like you’re slamming your head into a brick wall and like there’s no way around, over or through it.

You’re not alone. Every writer who has ever worked feels stuck at some point. Feeling stuck is just another piece of the writing process puzzle. That’s why we’ve compiled five true and tried methods to help you come unstuck.

5 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block

  1. Step Away from the Keyboard and Do Anything Creative

We know writing itself is a creative process, but your brain needs the chance to explore other outlets. Step away from whatever you are writing and make a scrapbook, paint, or even build something. Spend time on another creative project for a couple of hours and then head back to your writing. When I’m stuck, I start a mosaic project, listen to my favorite music or just sit down with a book and switch off for a little while. Jumping to other activities activates my creativity. The secret is to keep exercising the creative part of your brain and eventually you’ll find your writing ideas come flowing back.

  1. Eliminate Distractions

Unplug the internet and turn off your phone. Tidy up your workspace while you’re at it since a cluttered desk can confuse the mind. Next, block off time just for writing. Ask everyone to honor your space so you can write for a couple of hours uninterrupted.

  1. Write Down Ideas as They Pop Up

Not being able to come up with an idea is a horrible feeling. The best way to overcome this form of writer’s block is to have plenty of ideas ready to go. Ideas pop up when you least expect it, and you should always rush to archive them. Use your smartphone to note ideas, or carry a notebook and pen everywhere you go.

  1. Be Far Enough Ahead to Work on Whatever You Want

Many writer’s report their writer’s block being a case of feeling stuck while working on a piece of writing. If you have more than one assignment you’re working on, be far enough ahead of your schedule that you can work on the project you feel most inspired by today. If you only have one type of project, try to diversify your writing responsibilities to avoid unnecessary writer’s block and increase your productivity. If you have to, create writing exercises for yourself – be it a blog, poetry, or any other niche you like working on.

  1. Don’t Dread the Deed

Writer’s block, or rather, writer’s excuses, are too often rooted in fear. You are scared that what you write won’t be good enough. It is a debilitating dread, but you can get past it by not allowing yourself the time to feel insecure. Just sit down and start writing, even if you’re not confident in your abilities. Time spent stalling is far better spent writing, even if you throw that first draft out. You’re probably already at your keyboard, so just get started!

That’s it, no more excuses! You’re at your keyboard right now, so feel free to share your ideas for overcoming writer’s block in the comments below, we look forward to reading them.

Be a Hypnotic Writer: What Words and Techniques to Use to Seduce Your Reader

You work hard to share your best tips. You spend hours editing and polishing your posts, not to mention wracking your brain for the perfect headline.

You take the time to promote your blogs on social media, build an email list, and write guest posts. But your hard work isn’t paying off, is it? You want more comments, shares, and engagement.

However, you can’t possibly work any harder. There is a smarter way, though, to engage your existing audience and entice them to start commenting and sharing.

Here’s the secret: readers want to be seduced. That means every headline, every paragraph, and every sentence needs to be irresistible.

8 Ways to Start Seducing Your Readers Right Now

  1. Get into Your Reader’s Head

What conversations are going on in your reader’s head? One of the best ways to have a meaningful conversation is to use the phrases your reader does; those are the magic words that will make your reader feel understood. When you empathize with a reader’s feeling, you get him to feel special and like the post was written just for him.

  1. Talk to Your Reader

You know when you speak to your best friends they listen, ask questions, and you can share a laugh? You can do the same thing with your readers by starting a conversation with them. It’s easy, too, simply use the word “you” and ask your readers questions.

  1. Tell a Story

Often, it’s the small stories we share with our friends that make conversing enjoyable, the ones about the little topics. You don’t always talk about your specialty areas, and if your blog only discusses your niche expertise, you come across as one-dimensional. Share tidbits about your personal life or interests, and you will instantly be more attractive to your readers.

Analogies and metaphors spice up your writing and can be drawn from your personal experience.

  1. Comforting Words

Put your arm around your reader’s shoulders and reassure him with phrases like, “it happens to us all,” or “we’ve been there.” It makes your reader feel validated.

  1. Get Readers Fired Up

When you talk to someone in person, you use body language and tone to express yourself. You can gesture, whisper, shout, grin, wink, and more. In your blog post, you only have words, so you need to turn up the passion and use powerful words, such as:

  • Gorgeous, instead of beautiful
  • Spine-tingling scary instead of frightening
  • Over the moon instead of happy
  1. Show Vulnerability

Nobody’s perfect, are they? Of course not. When you share your fears, worries, and weaknesses, you are in a better position to connect with readers because you become human to them.

  1. Create a Happy Picture

Readers won’t make an effort to read your posts, so you need to entice them. Sketch a happy picture right from your opening. Let them know you have a trick to make their life happier and enriched.

  1. Leave Them Wanting More

Most of us remember a few lines from a song, a nursery rhyme or even dialogue from our favorite movie. All of these phrases have something in common – they use poetic techniques like rhyming and repetition to make the words smoother, and more memorable.

If you want your readers to remember your words, borrow from poets. Those are the words that are going to linger and get your readers coming back for more poetic seduction.

Ready to Seduce Your Blog Audience?

Blogging is not one-way communication; you need to be able to start a conversation by luring your readers in and listening when they talk.

Take the time to get to know your readers and their frustrations. Treat them as well as you would your best friend and help them overcome their fears.

Light the candles, turn on the music, and pour the champagne. It’s time to sweep your readers off their feet.

A Writer’s Perspective: Writing Stories that Inspire and Enlighten

Our bigger sister site and blog recently published a parable on storytelling and the fate of content marketing in this fed-up-with-content internet world today. In reaction to that, we have put together a few thoughts about the art of storytelling today.

As a writer, you don’t always get to be a storyteller. Let’s face it. Most of us just write automatically things based on research they made online, to fulfill a client’s needs. To help them with their SEO results, to bring them forward in searches, to bring in more readers, more paying customers. When it comes to storytelling, though, there is need of more heart, more feeling, more thinking put in a piece. Even if it is still for a website, for a company, to help them sell.

If content isn’t really dead but revamped, then we must admit that the way online writing is done today has changed, has evolved. If you want, it has turned into something better, more constructive, more in line with what people want and need.

We are all fed up with all those articles telling us “how to” do anything. We still need those pieces, but at a deeper, more human level, we need to hear a story more. We want to be encouraged to think more, to create more, to add more meaning to our lives.

As writers, our skills should be put in service of this aim: to enlighten a world that is too busy, too stressed, too in a hurry. To take it from the darkest corners of self-sufficiency and bring it to the light of imagination and creation.

Here are a few thoughts on how to put together stories (even for brands and businesses) that can really make a difference.

story

Let us know your thoughts. How do you try to change the world with your stories?