Follow Untamed Writing by Karen on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook


Someone once told me it was reassuring to learn that I am as messed up as everyone else. It’s not my favourite compliment to ever have received, but if you squint at it, it IS a compliment, right? Right???

In an internet crammed with ‘thought leaders’, ‘gurus’ and ‘influencers’ (it’s impossible to write those without using quotes, isn’t it? If you don’t hate yourself, I mean), I guess it would be nice to hear from someone who is still somehow successful despite not being perfect and not having her shit together at all times. And as much as I like to think I do, I definitely don’t. Not always. I’ve got my shit together enough, that’s all.

Although, for the record, none of those other guys have their shit together either. They’re just much better at hiding it. Everyone has moments of doubt. Times when they’ve failed crushingly. Periods when they question their entire existence and what the fuck they’re even doing.

And they 1000% percent had more of them at the beginning of their journeys. Same as me. Same as everyone. At the beginning, you’ll probably kind of suck – but you won’t improve unless you do stuff anyway. And as you do more, you’ll learn more, and you’ll have less fuck-ups. (Fewer fuck-ups? Are fuck-ups countable? I guess they are. But whatever. I hate that stupid grammar rule.)

So yeah: if you want to succeed at something but you feel like you’re a mess and a failure and can’t possibly do this, it’s probably nice to see the rough edges of someone who’s further ahead in their journey than you are. Someone who you aspire to be like. So let’s pretend that person is me and talk about a bunch of times I fucked up.

Oh god. I’m cringing already.

1. I chose a terrible business name

My first freelance writing website was called Deft SEO. I know, right? Look at it. It’s gross. But more importantly, it doesn’t have anything to do with WRITING. You know, that thing I do? What my business is based on?

If I saw that name now, I’d assume it was a marketing agency that specialised in, well – SEO. Weird. I chose it because I started out writing SEO articles. But also, what if I wanted to go into SEO instead of writing?! I have no idea where that thought came from, because jobs that entail being extremely analytical with facts and figures are so not my jam.

Anyway, despite the shitty name, that website worked. It did help me get my business off the ground. Less than six months later, I came up with Untamed Writing and ditched Deft SEO altogether.

2. I said I could write 10 articles in 24 hours

I REALLY WANTED TO WIN THAT CLIENT, GUYS. And I thought it was impressive that I could write ten articles inside a day. And, well, I could have. They were SEO articles, after all, and I’m a fast writer. But fast and cheap isn’t what all clients want, you know? And it’s never what the good-quality, high-paying clients who are a pleasure to work with want.

Ten articles in 24 hours‘ screams shit quality. And er, yeah. I mean, they would’ve been well-written technically speaking, but the content itself would’ve been trash. How much research can you do on an article you write in 20 minutes?

Well-written trash. Why even bother? But at this point in my freelance writing career, I was still just writing SEO articles for people, and I thought that was what people wanted.

3. I focused my business on SEO articles

Now, I can’t say this was a fuck-up exactly. After all, it did get me started. But it was not a sustainable way to run a writing business. Aside from the fact that businesses would inevitably stop using SEO articles as a marketing tactic eventually, it was also unsustainable on a personal level. Because writing 500-word articles about utter shit is soul-destroying, especially when you have to churn out several a day.

If I went back to 2012 and was starting my business over again, I’m not sure I would go this route. In fact, I definitely wouldn’t. Not if I had the knowledge I have now, which clearly I would, because that’s how time travel works.

And if I was starting my business TODAY? Christ, no. I don’t even think it was a viable way to rank on Google back in 2012 (though that didn’t seem to matter to my clients). Still, it’s definitely not a useful SEO strategy these days. If you wanna rank on Google? You’ve gotta create good shit.

4. I outsourced something I really shouldn’t have

When I was making the switch from SEO articles to ‘proper’ copywriting, I kept hold of all my SEO-article clients for a while. I just outsourced everything they asked me to do to other freelance writers.

However, at one point I got lazy. Someone asked me to write a long blog post for them for pretty good money and I was all, ‘Hmm, I wonder if I can get away with outsourcing this, too.’ Turns out? NOPE. When people hire you specifically because they want your voice and style – which was the way I had positioned my business by then – it turns out that if you send them something written by somebody else, it doesn’t go down well.

Needless to say, they did not hire me again.

And I never did that again.

5. I targeted the wrong kind of copywriting clients

For a while, I decided my ideal clients were one-person, service-based brands who decided to go into business because they wanted the lifestyle that came with it – not because they were particularly interested in making tons of money. I mean, that’s what I was myself, so surely I could write great copy for others like me, right?

Well, yes, I probably could have. But here’s the thing. Well, two things. Two major issues with choosing these guys as my ideal clients:

1. They don’t have very high budgets, if they have budgets at all
I’d get people emailing me like, OMG HOW CAN I HIRE YOU? I CAN’T AFFORD YOU BUT CAN WE EXCHANGE SERVICES OR SOMETHING? Yeah, all in caps. People were excited, but they couldn’t afford to hire me. Oops.

2. They often want to write their own copy
Mostly, I think this was the case. Many businesses like this revolve around their blogs. They’re usually personal brands, in which the person at the centre of it is the main attraction, and it’s their own ideas, opinions and advice that attract clients – or at least, that’s what they’re hoping for. Whether they succeed or not is another matter. But the case still remains that they wouldn’t dream of hiring someone else to write for them.

It’s fabulous being able to do a damn fine job for the clients you’ve decided to target. That’s a necessary part of the process. But if they can’t afford to hire you or would simply never hire someone to do what you do, it’s all for nothing.

6. I blogged about stuff not relevant to my clients

Eventually, I started teaching a freelance writing course. And following that, I changed what I wrote about on the blog. Suddenly, I wasn’t writing stuff that was relevant to my target clients any more.

Now what I should have done – and eventually did – was move my copywriting services to a separate website. (Another option would’ve been to move the teaching-related stuff to another website, which might’ve been a better option if I’d done it sooner.) But I was reluctant to have more than one website and didn’t think I needed to. I was arrogant and thought that because I was SUCH A GREAT WRITER, I could write whatever I wanted and people would still hire me.

Unsurprisingly, during that period my website was barely any use at all for scoring clients. I’d get the occasional enquiry from it, and sometimes that’d turn into paying work, but mostly my clients during that time came from my network.

Trying to position your website for two entirely different audiences is a headache and it’s confusing for visitors. You should only ever have one audience in mind. If you want to dabble in something else? It’s probably a good idea to create a new website for it, unless it’s something your current audience will also want. But even then it’d have to be closely related to your current skill set, otherwise you risk people thinking you’re half as good at twice as many things. And that = lower pay.

Are you cut out to be a freelance copywriter?

Being a freelance copywriter isn’t easy. But it can be done – and you can make a good living from it (even if you fuck up sometimes).

I’m launching an all-new course that incorporates everything I’ve learned since the last course I created in 2015. It focuses on how to brand yourself as a copywriter people will pay good money to hire and how to attract clients who are a pleasure to work with – and how to avoid all the mistakes I made along the way.

It includes one-on-one coaching with me and there are limited places (only 10) available. It’s suitable for complete newbies or people in the earliest stages of their freelancing careers. Find out more here: How to Become a Freelance Copywriter.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Oh god, I’m behind on my challenge to read 100 books this year already. It’s fine, though. I’ve been, uh, intentionally NOT reading. By which I mean I’ve been intentionally playing Dragon Age Origins instead. I also accidentally started writing a fantasy novel, and writing a book is more impressive than reading one, right? So let’s just say everything is fine and I’ll catch up later, okay? (I have a plan. EVERYTHING IS FINE.)


What I Read in February 2018

Food Freedom Forever, by Melissa Hartwig
This book is about how to eat healthily (by which they mean Whole30, which is similar to paleo and SCD, the diet I follow for my ulcerative colitis) MOST of the time, but allow yourself treats that are ‘worth it’ occasionally. And when you inevitably slide back into your old way of eating, you ‘reset’ with the Whole30 plan again. I really can’t decide how I feel about this book. On the one hand I’m like, okay, this is just yo-yo dieting, right? Uh, great? But I do like the premise of treating yourself to ‘worth it’ foods, and I wonder if something like this could be the path to managing my disease without medication while not having to be 1000% strict ALL THE GADDAMN TIME.

All You Need is Kill, by Takeshi Obata (manga)
If you’ve seen Edge of Tomorrow, you’ll be familiar with this. You know, the one where Tom Cruise keeps dying on the battlefield and waking up again on the previous day to have another shot at defeating the aliens. I can’t remember how the movie goes exactly, but fuck me, the manga is AWESOME. I think it has a different ending. So good. Soon I will actually read the novel both the manga and the movie are based on, haaa. Love the story, love the art, love the characters. I bought this book to stop me from spending my money on Percy Pigs. It worked. This should be what she teaches you in Food Freedom Forever: every time you’re about to buy some junk, buy a book instead. GENIUS.

Brief Lives (The Sandman, Vol. 7), by Neil Gaiman
Gaiman is EXTREMELY hit or miss for me. I either love his stuff or find it a struggle to get through. LOVE Stardust, Coraline and The Graveyard Book. Struggled with American Gods, Neverwhere and, now, The Sandman. I’ve been meaning to read it since I was a teenager and I finally started last year. And it is slooow going. I’m not even sure if I’ll finish the series yet. But SO many people rave about it. What am I missing? Feel free to explain to me why you love it. Seriously. I don’t enjoy the random, seemingly unconnected short stories. I don’t enjoy the non-linear pacing. Some of the characters are cool, which is pretty much the only thing keeping me going at this point.

The Last Romeo, by Justin Myers
I was looking forward to this, because I like Justin’s blog and admire his writing style. But something about this book didn’t work for me. It’s about a guy who breaks up with his boyfriend and eventually starts dating again – and starts an anonymous blog about it. It’s heavily based on the author’s own experiences (which I’ve read about on his own blog), and it felt very contrived. And the main character was a self-absorbed bellend who didn’t seem to redeem himself by the end. I guess writing fiction is a different skill to blogging/non-fiction. Well, I knew that already, but… yeah. This book proves it. It wasn’t BAD, and it was a fun and easy read, but I didn’t love it, which was the hope. (It’s always the hope.)

Dear Ijeawele, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
YOU CAN ALWAYS RELY ON CHIMAMANDA TO PICK THINGS UP. After a fairly lacklustre month of reading, this was an uplifting way to end it. This is the letter she wrote to her friend who asked how to raise her daughter as a feminist. And it is good. I love her thoughts on feminism and agree with them completely. This book is a short one, which is the reason I decided to read it now. Because I knew I was lagging behind on my challenge. But I’m so glad I did. Want to get more informed on feminism? Read this, and read her other book on the subject, We Should All Be Feminists. Standing ovation material.

Book Stats So Far

Books read this month: 5
Fiction: 3
Non-fiction: 2

Books read this year: 13/100
Percentage of challenge completed: 13%
Percentage of year completed: 16%

Something to say? Come tell it to me on Facebook.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

If you’re a freelance writer in Edinburgh, stop reading now. THIS INFORMATION IS NOT FOR YOU. *hisses*

Okay, now let’s talk about how I got my freelance writing website, EdinburghCopywriter.com, to rank number one on Google, almost immediately bringing me a big case-study job for a lovely new client down the road from me, a half-day’s work for an agency in the city, AND a surprise request from an editor at the fricking Guardian. The national newspaper. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

The first thing to clear up is that I am not ranking number one on Google for ‘freelance writer’. Going after that keyword would be madness. MADNESS, I tell you. Instead, I’m ranking for these (and similar) terms, which was my intention:

  • edinburgh copywriter
  • edinburgh copywriter freelance
  • freelance copywriter edinburgh
  • edinburgh freelance copywriter
  • … you get the picture, right?

If you want a freelance copywriter in Edinburgh, I’m who pops up first. I’m also the first freelance copywriter who pops up for the term ‘freelance writer edinburgh’, although there are a couple of indeed.co.uk results that spring up above me. But given those links are for copywriters looking for work, and therefore not my competition, I’ll call it a win.

My goal was to get on the radars of agencies in the city, as well as any other organisations in Edinburgh that needed to hire a writer. And it appears to have worked. I’m not awash with new enquiries – there is not an army of people seeking Edinburgh copywriters day in, day out – but I am getting enough enquiries. And so far 75% of them have turned into paying work. I also think the impact will be exponential as I become known and gather more contacts in the city

For context: I bought EdinburghCopywriter.com in October 2017, actually added content to it in late November, started ranking on page one (at position six or seven) a couple of weeks after that, and was ranking number one by mid-January.

Now I’m going to share the three things I did to accomplish this. Since Google is a secretive bastard, technically this is all speculation. But I’m pretty sure I am correct, which is my default position on everything.

1. I bought the right domain name

Since giving up the digital-nomad life last year and choosing to settle in Edinburgh, I knew I wanted to start working with more local clients. I wanted to talk to people IN PERSON, not just over email or Skype. You know, to have meetings where you shake hands and stuff.

Therefore, it made sense to target people looking for writers in Edinburgh. Not everyone wants to work with a local writer, but enough do that it’s a viable search term to try to rank for. After all, if you’re seeking a writer, what DO you base your search query on? Typing in ‘freelance writer’ is waaaay too vague. Perhaps if you specifically know what type of writing you want – sales page, website copy, etc. – you’ll type that in. (So now I’m sat here thinking, Huh, maybe I should have gone with WebsiteCopywriter.com instead. OH WELL. No, it’s fine, it’s fine. I just checked and it’s already taken.)

But otherwise, a lot of people will default to the local area. For one thing, you’re more likely to trust someone from the local area, since you immediately have a tangible connection with them. The knowledge that they could meet you in person within an hour is comforting, somehow. You’re a real person, not just some con artist on the internet.

This approach is obviously more useful if you live in a city, where there are lots of people and businesses. If you live some remote wilderness, there probably aren’t too many people around wanting to hire a writer, you know? If that’s you, consider a domain name based around the type of writing you do instead.

A side effect of the local-area approach is that you might get people asking you to write about the city. That’s what happened with me and The Guardian. They needed a journalist to get out on the streets and interview people for a piece about hidden gems of Edinburgh. Naturally, a local writer is going to be much more useful in this regard, in that they’ll know where to go to interview people, they’ll know the right questions to ask, and they’ll know how to find the places people mention. And their expenses will be lower, since they won’t need to be put up in a hotel. But I’m getting off track. I’ll write about my experiences with The Guardian another time.

Your domain name is a HUGE factor in Google recognising what you do and what your site is all about. (This is why Untamed Writing ranks well for so many writing-related terms, I reckon.) So if there’s a way for you to sneak a relevant search term into your domain name – whether it’s location- or specialism-based – I strongly recommend it. Because getting found on Google is the easiest way to score new work, especially if you’re new to this and haven’t networked enough for people to start sending referrals your way yet.

The domain-name approach means you don’t necessarily need a blog, either. A blog is another great way to rank well on Google, but it takes a lot longer – you’ve gotta build up a backlog – and requires constant upkeep. Having said that…

2. I linked back to it from Untamed Writing

As I said, Untamed Writing already ranks well on Google for various writing-related search terms. Which means Google sees it as a valuable and reliable source of information on writing, and specifically freelance writing. And, as people say, backlinks are the currency of the internet. Do people say that? I bet they do, because I feel like that’s not a phrase I would’ve invented myself.

Anyway, what this means is that if Google sees a relevant website it already considers valuable linking back to a new website, it will also begin to recognise the new website as a valuable one on the subject. Because good websites don’t link back to shitty ones. That’s what makes them good. Well, it’s not the core thing that makes them good but, you know, it helps.

This is a trickier thing to implement if you’re new to freelance writing and blogging, of course. If you don’t happen to have a relevant website with five years’ worth of blog posts to link to your new site from, what do you do? Well, you need to get those backlinks from somewhere else instead. And that’s where guest posting comes in. Find some blogs on the subject of writing or freelancing or something else relevant, see if they accept guest posts and, if they do, pitch them! I’ve written more about guest posting here.

3. I used the right anchor text in my backlinks

Anchor text is the text used in links. For example: the best freelance copywriter in Edinburgh. Here, ‘the best freelance copywriter in Edinburgh’ is the anchor text. And that matters.

If I linked back to my new freelance writing site with anchor text like, ‘Karen Marston is soooooo fabulous’, that’s probably not going to be particularly helpful. Unless there are a lot of people searching for that fabulous Karen Marston lass. Which I’d like to think there are, but, well. Even if there were, it still wouldn’t be helpful unless they were looking for me to write for them. Which… I mean, they probably would be since that’s what I do… but uhh… actually, they’d probably end up on Untamed Writing if they searched for that, now that I think on it, and that isn’t especially helpful. (CONFIRMED.)

So! The anchor text you use matters. When Google decides how to rank websites, it reads what’s on them. And that includes reading anchor text. ‘Oh, they’re linking to another website with the anchor text “best freelance copywriter EVAR”? That’s probably the website of a really good freelance copywriter. Better bump it up the old “best freelance copywriter” search results.’ (Yes, I am utilising this technique A LOT in this post. You don’t rank number one on Google by accident, people.)

That’s why on Untamed Writing’s about page, I open with this:

And on my home page, I include this:

And that’s it, really. That’s my entire thought process for buying EdinburghCopywriter.com and attempting to get it to rank number one.

Questions? Comments? Come talk to me about it on Facebook or Twitter.

And if you don’t want to miss out on my future enthralling witticisms on succeeding as a freelance writer, pop your email in the box below.

Finally, I was featured on the Being Freelance podcast recently. It was great fun and it’s not embarrassing for me to listen back to, which I think means it’s quite good. Listen to it here.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

IT’S BACK! Lost in the great blog blitz of 2017, now it hath returned: the WHAT I READ LAST MONTH column. Sorry, sorry, I’m trying to make it sound grander than it is. Is it working?

Basically, I’m going to share with you a list of the books I read each month, along with my thoughts about them, which often have nothing whatsoever to do with the content of the books, and everything to do with why I decided to read them, where I was when I did, how they made me feel, and sometimes, just sometimes, what I learned from them.

I’m aiming to read 100 books this year, which is more than I’ve ever read before. I was arguing with a guy about this down the pub recently. He claimed that if you really wanted to read, truly loved books, you didn’t need to set a goal, because you would just do it. And I’m like OH REALLY? Because you know what else I like doing? Slumping on my sofa with a pizza and endless Netflix, which is way easier than reading, which requires actual effort.

If I’m left to my own devices, without a goal, I will do whatever is easiest. I think most people are like that. This guy also claimed I would feel bad if I didn’t hit my goal, and cited this as a reason not to do it at all. How dumb is that? I mean, for one thing, I won’t feel bad, because I will definitely still end up reading more than I would otherwise, which is really the point, isn’t it?

I’m roughly aiming to read two books a week, and I’m including graphic novels and audiobooks, because I doubt I could read 100 full-on novels inside a year, but also – why SHOULDN’T they count? I like the fact that including them means I will have room for some longer books, which I inevitably wouldn’t otherwise.

Disclaimer: there are no Amazon affiliate links in this post, or even links to where you can buy the books, because really, that is such a pain in the arse to do.

What I Read in January 2018

The Little Book of Hygge, by Meik Wiking
This is one of those books you buy because it’s so cute and pretty and has nice pictures and will look nice on your bookshelf. And then you read it and go, Oh, this is one of those books you buy because it’s so cute and pretty and has nice pictures, but I don’t really want to put it on my bookshelf because I don’t want to keep it because it’s generic and obvious and no duh hygge is about candles and blankets and hanging out with friends and drinking tea. Also no one is ever going to make any of those recipes. This is most definitely a 3-star book, which is the biggest insult as far as I’m concerned. Bland.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I had never read any Fitzgerald before, although I had become acquainted with him when Hemingway wouldn’t stop bitching about him in A Moveable Feast. So, to spite Hemingway, I decided to read one of Fitzgerald’s novels before I ever bothered with one of his. That’s not the real reason, but I felt like saying it because it FEELS true, you know? Anyway. This was short and I figured reading a classic I’d always meant to read would be a good way to get my reading year going. Everyone in this book is an asshole, except for the narrator’s dad, who seems very wise but sadly only makes an appearance in the opening line. Oh, and that guy who looks after the mechanic after [spoiler redacted].

Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes
I was expecting one of those memoirs where people literally tell you everything they said yes to, or whatever. You know the ones. I like reading those. This was not that. I still loved it, though. There were a couple of stories specifically about things Shonda said yes to, but mostly it went deeper than that. She shared the big, impactful lessons she learned about how life is when you open yourself up to it. Inspiring and warm. Also this kind of made me want to watch Grey’s Anatomy, but like, maybe not because there are 14 seasons so far and it’s still going? That’s too much. Doesn’t she know I’m trying to read 100 books this year?

Saga, Vol. 8, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
If you want to get into comics but don’t know where to start, start with Saga. It’s an epic space adventure, which, as everyone knows, is the best genre. The plot, the characters, the creatures, the inventiveness, the colour, the writing, the art – it is all magnificent. This volume felt more like a build-up for the next one, but I’m okay with it because sometimes things need to be tied together, you know? Also it featured some excellent Prince Robot action, and he is my one true love (well, one of them), so it probably could’ve been void of all the other things I just listed and I still would’ve loved it. But it wasn’t void of them. It’s GREAT. Read it. But maybe read the preceding 7 volumes first.

Grey, by E.L. James
What? Don’t look at me like that. I saw it on Kindle for 99p and I just felt like it, okay? This is Fifty Shades of Grey (which I read a few years ago) from the belt-wielding dom’s perspective, in case you’re not up on your Fifty Shades knowledge. And you know what? It wasn’t as bad as I expected. Or as bad as I remembered, maybe. Did she have a better editor for this one? Or… maybe the original didn’t have an editor at all? Was it self-published? I didn’t hate the main characters as much as I thought. I must’ve been thinking of Bella and Edward, whose relationship was infinitely more problematic. And also I know this is the point of the book, but there was too much sex. Boring.

Drink, by Ann Dowsett Johnston
Once again, this was not what I expected. I was hoping for a memoir of a woman who quit drinking, which is something I occasionally think about doing because of my ulcerative colitis. Instead I got an examination of alcoholism in women and girls, and some thoughts on what we can do about it. It was interesting, but I probably wouldn’t have read it had I realised what it was going to be about. I should probably learn to read blurbs properly before I buy books.

The Return of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle
My boy Sherlock! I love him. I especially love the short story collections (rather than the novels) which is what this is. I listened to it on audio, so I didn’t read the version pictured. I will let you figure out for yourself why I decided to use that particular image for this blog post. Ahem. Anyway, the audiobook I have is read by Simon Vance, who is so so so good. His Watson and Sherlock are perfect, and you can always tell one character from another. I started reading/listening to the books after watching the BBC show with Benedict Cumberbatch, so I picture him when I listen, which is nice. So I guess you don’t need to figure anything out for yourself after all.

Shockaholic, by Carrie Fisher
I looooved Wishful Drinking, and I was in the mood for some more Carrie Fisher. Plus I needed a short, quick read to keep on top of my challenge. I read this in a few hours on a lazy Sunday. I wish I had listened to the audiobook, since she narrates it herself which would clearly be AWESOME, but I’d already bought the Kindle version, so. This book is essentially a few memories from Carrie’s life captured essay-style so she didn’t lose them to the clawing hands of electroshock therapy. Her writing style reminds me of my own, so if you enjoy my blog, you’ll probably enjoy her books, because she’s a lot smarter and more insightful than me. And she has better stories, obviously.

Book Stats So Far

Books read this month: 8
Fiction: 4
Non-fiction: 4

Books read this year: 8/100
Percentage of challenge completed: 8%
Percentage of year completed: 8.5%

Read any good books lately? Come tell me over here!

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

February! That’s when you’re supposed to write your review of the previous year and your goals for the current one, right? Yes. Let’s pretend that is why I am only just writing this. Although if you keep reading you’ll probably figure out the real reason. Here’s the short version: nothing went as planned in 2017.

I’m going to break this down by analysing my (75% failed, 25% flailed) goals for the year, then I’m gonna talk about some other notable shit that happened. And then I’ll throw my 2018 plans into the mix at the end, because it’s already February and I really can’t piss about separating all this into multiple posts. I’VE GOT SO MUCH ELSE TO WRITE ABOUT, GODDAMNIT.

Phew. Okay. Let’s do this.

How My 2017 Goals Went

I made four goals for the year, three of which were about doing something every day. I wrote a quarterly update back in March, by which point I had already failed the do-it-every-day goals. Here they are:

Write every single day
I was going so strong with this. I was writing at least 400 words a day, every single day. And then I wasn’t. One day, I just forgot to do it. And I woke up the next morning relieved, because it turned out this goal was not helping me accomplish anything worthwhile. In my quarterly review, I wrote that I was going to figure out a different way to approach this writing-every-day goal, but I… didn’t. I conveniently forgot about that, too. Whoops.

Read every single day
I gave myself a dumb caveat for this goal. I could read ‘just one page’ if I wanted to, because the point was to get into the habit of reading daily. Soooo, something major I learned about myself last year is that if I set goals like this for myself, I will literally do the bare minimum. (Actually I was supposed to already have learned this lesson, wasn’t I?) Do you know how many books you get through if you only read one page per day? NOT FUCKING MANY. When I did my quarterly review in March, I had only read six books. The previous year – a year I was aiming to read 75 books – I had read 35 books by March. Apparently I need specific targets to aim for, rather than ‘easy’ habits-based goals. Good to know, I guess.

Exercise every single day
The plan here was to improve my upper back’s health. My too-straight spine means I get upper back pain super easily if I sit at weird angles (commonly known as ‘bad posture’), and exercise obviously helps with that. Turns out, so does fixing your posture, which I was able to do with some new furniture later in the year.

I also realised that this niggling achilles-tendon injury I’d had since the previous summer was never going to heal unless I let it rest, so I ended up banning myself from running for several months. (The ban is still in place now, actually, although I’m planning to lift it in the spring. MORE ON THAT LATER.) As you may have guessed, I didn’t accomplish this goal either, although I did walk almost every day. I averaged just over three miles a day throughout the year.

Shift the focus of my work
Okay, now this is where things start to get, er, a little messy. Although I guess technically it’s safe to say I accomplished this goal, since I shifted the focus of my business approximately SEVENTEEN-THOUSAND TIMES. Someone get me a wall to bang my head against. (Do you like how I just implied that there are no walls anywhere in my vicinity? That’s right: I’m working from a higher plane of existence right now, and walls do not exist here.)

Okaaaay. DEEP BREATH. At the very start of the year I was talking about adding editing services to my business. I even bought a whole new domain, untamedediting.com, though I never did anything with it. I nixed the idea of editing fairly early on, because I remembered that I find it annoying to focus on such trifling things as whether that’s the right sort of dash. (I’m just kidding, editors! I respect and admire and am ridiculously grateful for what you do, because I would truly detest a world in which books were allowed to go unedited before publication. I’m staring pointedly at the swathes of self-published Kindle authors who do not take editing seriously right now.) Anyway, I don’t know why I thought I’d be a good editor, since following the rules has never been a forte of mine.

I also said I had ‘one very specific writing service I want to offer from now on in mind’, and I cannot for the life of me remember what it was. So maybe I accomplished that. Maybe I didn’t. It’s hard to say, since apparently past-Karen is cryptic as fuck.

Later in the year I proclaimed I was going to shift the focus of Untamed Writing back onto copywriting clients, rather than freelance writers. Specifically, I was going to target personal brands. For… reasons. The site had been a weird blend of site-for-clients-and-site-for-writers for waaaay too long and I didn’t like it. Why are there copywriting services on a website FOR other freelance writers? It didn’t make sense.

Man, if you read that post I just linked to, you’ll see that I seriously thought I had figured shit out this time. Although now that I’m reading back on it I’m seeing that I was planning to target potential copywriting clients but also still offer my freelance writing course? Like… what? WHAT? What was that supposed to solve, Marston? I also announced that I was going to return to twice-weekly blogging, which did not happen. At all. In fact, I ended up blogging WAY less than I ever had before. Which led me to the conclusion, verrrrrrrrry slowly (thanks brain) that in fact this was not the right way to shift my business. Only in the past few weeks have I fully realised this, if I’m perfectly honest. (Now the reason for this February New Year’s post is becoming clear, eh?)

I wrote a blog post back in November: My 29 Extremely Personal Tips for Surviving Your First Five Years in Business. In it, I wrote two points that I later realised I was not even doing myself. (I repeat: rule-following, not my thing, even when the rules are my own. Sigh.) These were the points:

Point 20: It really is a good idea to ‘niche down’
Point 27: Content marketing is good for selling products, networking is good for finding clients

I’ve always had a strong reluctance to move my copywriting services from Untamed Writing to another website – mostly because I didn’t want to start another blog, and I thought that’s probably what I’d need to do. But I was wrong. On all counts.

I’d already bought edinburghcopywriter.com when I wrote the above post. I was planning to use it for SEO purposes, and to redirect prospective clients back to Untamed Writing. But the more I thought about it (and oh my god, I thought about it a LOT, like can we please just stop this now brain and finally commit to something instead of rewriting our home page every five seconds) the more I realised that, well, the main thing that gives me a headfuck about Untamed Writing is that I’ve been trying to force it to be something it shouldn’t be – trying to appeal to too many types of people with it – all for the sake of simplicity (biggest lol I’ve ever lolled here).

And then there’s that other point – content marketing is good for selling products, networking is good for finding clients. Umm. Oh yeah. RIGHT! That’s a good point, Karen, thank you. Most of my copywriting clients come from meeting people in person and from referrals. Sometimes they come through the blog, but mostly not. So… I DON’T need a blog for my copywriting services??? Wow, that took a long time to figure out.

I feel this is a good time to point out that my blog HAS been helpful for securing copywriting clients, though. Not for the content itself, or because that’s how people necessarily find me, but for the fact that showing you know how to build a brand, write good shit for it and grow an audience is quite appealing to clients. Having a solid online presence is handy because it shows people you know what you’re doing.

So anyway. This was a revelation of the best kind. Edinburghcopywriter.com can be MY MAIN COPYWRITING SITE. MY ONLY COPYWRITING SITE. And it’s already proving its worth, since I have a meeting with a new client tomorrow, right here in the city. A 20-minute walk from my flat. Turns out you don’t need a blog if you can rank number one on Google without one, and my new website is already ranking number one for ‘freelance copywriter edinburgh’, ‘edinburgh freelance copywriter’, and all variations thereof. ZING. (I’ll write about how I managed that some time.)

Keeping Untamed Writing as a site for copywriting clients didn’t leave me much room to talk about my favourite subject, which is myself. I AM KIDDING. Sort of. Everyone loves talking about themselves, you know? The trick is to do it in a way that other people can relate to. And, if you can, to stick to some sort of theme. My theme? Well, guys, it’s in the name: writing. Life as a writer. Making money writing. Improving your craft. That kind of thing.

I’m clear and free to write about whatever I want, AND THIS IS WHAT I CHOOSE. I realise this makes it sound like I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve done for the majority of Untamed Writing’s lifetime: blogging about freelance writing. But no – freelance writing is not the only type of writing I’m interested in. And now I’m going to venture into other realms and share what I learn about that, too. (More on that soon!)

I’ve rewritten the site for (hopefully, please Christ I can’t take it any more) the last time. Check out the home and about pages if you want to get a better idea of what the site’s going to be about from now on.

And that’s where I’m at with the business right now! I’ll share more about it in the 2018 goals section below.

Other Notable Events of 2017

Oh god, writing that took longer than I thought and I’m not done yet. Do you have a cup of tea yet? Best go and make one if not. Here’s some other stuff that went down in 2017:

I quit the digital nomad life and moved back to Edinburgh
At the start of the year, I was living as a digital nomad, which is something I’d intended to do ever since I started my business. I’ve already written in detail about why the digital nomad life sucks, so I won’t go over it again now.

What I will talk about is moving back to Edinburgh. For my final digital-nomad month, spent in a shitty Airbnb apartment in Seville, I daydreamed about what I wanted my life to be like when I moved back to Edinburgh. I wanted to find an unfurnished two-bedroom apartment and use one room as an office, like a goddamn grown-up business owner-type person (that was confusing to hyphenate and I’m still not sure it’s right and I don’t really care and this is why I am not meant to be an editor). It would be a place nearish my old place so I could still walk to the beach every day. I would make it a nice place to live, with nice furniture and nice art and other nice things that adults who commit to living in one place have. I would also get more involved with the Edinburgh creative scene, coworking and going to events and things like that. I would become KNOWN as an awesome copywriter in the city, and have meetings in person and stuff.

Essentially, I was going to actually attempt to build a life here, after 4+ years of not doing that because I was planning to leave. Well, all of the above has happened or is happening. I found an apartment that fitted my EXACT requirements. I regularly hang out with my fellow copywriter friends now (and mock them about the fact that I’M THE NUMBER ONE EDINBURGH FREELANCE COPYWRITER ACCORDING TO GOOGLE HAHAHAHAHA). I spoke at Edinburgh College about copywriting, then stayed behind to help the students with their projects. I got hugged and called inspirational! I got called a rising star! I’m sat in my home-office as I write this! I will walk to the beach later! Things are happening, and it is nice. Moving back here was definitely the right decision.

I blitzed everything on the site
During my frenzied attempt to figure out what the hell to do with Untamed Writing last year, I went through the entire site and ‘organised’ everything. I deleted half of my blog posts. Then I put (almost) all of them back (my What I Read Last Month posts have remained lost because they were so fiddly and I could not be bothered) and heavily edited them in the process to make them better/still relevant/less embarrassing. I removed all comments from the site, which I can’t decide if I regret but what the hell, it’s done now.

I removed all pointless images from my posts, because I cannot be arsed to fuck around with the same generic stock photos I see on every other blog. Now there are none within my blog posts, and my featured images are one of three Untamed Writing photos. If my words alone are not enough to tempt someone, then fine, whatever, I don’t care. I also removed all my courses and ebooks. I added new services and workshops. I changed my opt-in gift, then I changed it again, then I removed it altogether. I rewrote the copy 6,653 times. It was exhausting. But I pray to Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom and Warfare, that it is over now. This is it. I am done.

I started writing a book!
Quite unexpectedly, I started writing a novel last summer. I had never seriously considered writing fiction before. I’d had a couple of vague ideas in the past, written a couple of opening paragraphs and abruptly forgotten about them. I didn’t think I had any good ideas and that writing fiction was Not My Thing (even though I looooove reading it).

So yeah, I’m writing a novel now! It’s a space adventure about a reckless, irresponsible girl who just wants to bum around the universe with her best friend, doing odd jobs and committing petty crimes to make ends meet, but CANNOT because of reasons and plot. And I want to write about what I’m learning, which is part of the reason I’ve finally decided to refocus the site on writing. I have no idea whether I’ll try to get it published traditionally, or whether I’ll self-publish it, or anything really. I’m not in a hurry over this. I’m just enjoying the process. It takes a lot longer than writing non-fiction, and it is oddly soothing. I love it. My daydreams on my daily walks to the beach now feature a lot of revelations about the plot and snatches of conversations between characters. It’s fun!

I organised my finances
I have historically been pretty good with money. By which I mean: I don’t spend more than I have. I don’t go into debt. HOWEVER, whatever money I do have? I spend. Savings are not much of a thing in my world. This made sense when I was a barmaid. I was only making £250 a week max, so saving wasn’t an option, not really. Now I can make more than that in a DAY. And yet somehow I’m still able to spend all my money???

Admittedly a lot of this is my lifestyle-upgrade. If I was still sharing a shitty apartment with two weird flatmates, I probably could have saved a lot of money by now. But still, since returning to Edinburgh permanently I’ve started getting serious about my finances. One day soon I might even start a frickin’ PENSION. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say my default is no longer to buy whatever the hell I want on my credit card, then withdraw however much I spent from my business every month and pay it off in full.

My Goals for 2018

Create all-new courses and products for Untamed Writing
I think of the blitzing I did last year as a sort of clean slate. I don’t plan to put back any of the things I previously had for sale. But what I will do is create new, BETTER things. First up, I’m going to create a new freelance writing course. Hahaha. OBVIOUSLY. The last one I created is over two years old now, and I know a lot more now than I did then. This new course is going to have all-new content and be specifically about copywriting. In retrospect I find it weird that I referred to my previous courses as being about ‘freelance writing’ as if that were a single, specific thing, when actually there are so many different types.

I’m also planning on creating a course or two about how to write better. Maybe one about how to strengthen your voice. I haven’t worked out the details yet, but I know (because people have told me) that my voice and style are what people admire and want to emulate in their own writing. Obviously I can’t teach people how to copy MY voice, nor would I advise doing that, but I definitely think I can help people find and strengthen their own writing voices.

Do something with the Facebook page
Not gonna lie, the only thing I use my Facebook page for is sharing my latest blog posts. Which was fine when I was publishing regularly. I’ve toyed with the idea of deleting it altogether, but I’m not sure. I think I should make a concerted effort to do something with it before I bin it. Since I’ve removed comments from the actual blog, I might try directing all conversations over there. I’ve always thought blog comments were pretty outdated anyway, so I don’t THINK I regret my decision to remove them, and social media is usually where most conversation happens around my posts anyway. We’ll see, I guess.

Finish my first novel
Yeaaahhh! I’ve found that with fiction I tend to go back and edit as I write, which is not at all my usual writing style, and it seriously slows progress. Mostly I’m just like UGH BUT IF I CAN FIGURE OUT THE PLOT PROPERLY NOW I WON’T HAVE TO UNTANGLE IT LATER, which is obviously not so much of an issue when you’re writing non-fiction. But I’ve basically figured out the plot now, so I’m just going to go for it. I’m going to continue writing until the end, and then I’m going to redraft it, and maybe redraft it again.

My version of ‘finishing’ the book is not getting it polished and pristine, but getting it to the point where I feel I can do no more alone. I want to get it as good as I can without help, and THEN I will start showing it to other people – find me some beta readers. I’m largely thinking of this as a learning experience, figuring out HOW to write fiction, since it’s all new to me. Fun times ahead!

What I am NOT going to do is rush to finish it so I can self-publish it ASAP and (maybe) make a few quid. Books are precious things and it is disrespectful to the reader to publish stuff that isn’t good enough to be published yet, as far as I’m concerned. I would rather not be published at all than publish something substandard. (And this is why I love and have so much respect for editors. Y’all are amazing.)

Read 100 books
It’s just shy of two books a week. I include audiobooks and graphic novels in my book-count, which makes this a lot easier. I CAN TOTALLY DO THIS. I got into an argument with a guy about this in the pub a couple of weeks ago. He tried to tell me graphic novels and audiobooks ‘didn’t count’ and I’m like, Oh I’m sorry did I make you feel inadequate for setting a goal you personally feel you could never achieve?

Experiment and learn more about my ulcerative colitis
I recently found out that my meds weren’t quiiiite as effective at controlling my ulcerative colitis as I thought. I got some results back from my doctor and learned that my gut was still heavily inflamed, despite not having the symptoms I commonly associate with this disease. The ‘normal’ amount of whatever it is in your gut that indicates good health and lack of inflammation is 0–50. Below 200 is considered ‘in remission’ for my disease. My results? OVER ONE-FUCKING-THOUSAND. 1563, to be precise. So, that’s not great.

I’m not brilliant at following doctors’ orders, so instead of increasing my medication as instructed, I quit it altogether and started eating strict SCD again. That’s the diet I followed a couple of years ago in an attempt to see if I could heal my guts without meds. AND I COULD. I quit the diet and started taking my meds again before I went travelling, because I couldn’t see how I was going to be able to eat this way on the road. But now I’m back in Edinburgh, so I can!

I met up with my doctor yesterday and told him my plan. He agreed, and we’re going to do more tests to see if the inflammation clears up this way. (It’s already going well, and my guts are healthier than they were when I was on my meds.) If it doesn’t work out and my guts still show as inflamed, I will go back on the meds AND eat the diet, I guess. It’s either that or stronger meds, and I really don’t want to go down that route. Whatever happens, I want to experiment a lot with my diet this year to see how it affects things.

Start running and working out again
My achilles tendon feels fine now, I think. This post is loooong so I can’t remember if I already mentioned that I injured my achilles tendon. Anyway, I did. Sprinting in barefoot trainers on a cold day without warming up first is A Bad Idea, Karen. I should have learned this lesson back when I pulled both of my quads in school RIGHT BEFORE A RACE. I was too terrified to tell my teachers my mistake, so I ran the race anyway and it was agonising. Still won though, natch. Uh, what was I talking about? Oh, right. I’m going to wait until the winter is over before I begin running again just to make extra specially certain I’m healed. And also because who da fuck starts running in winter?

Buy that beautiful chair I saw
I’m still using two polystyrene boxes stacked on top of each other as a TV stand (they’re the perfect height, okay?), but you can bet your ass I’m going to spend £800 on a chair before I replace them. Guys, it’s the most dreamiest chair that ever was, and it’s SO COMFORTABLE and SO BEAUTIFUL and it must be mine. But since I’m being more responsible with money these days, I am not going to drop the cash on it JUST LIKE THAT. But just you watch: it will be mine before the year is out.

Well, that’s quite a climactic ending, don’t you think? A chair. So let’s leave it there. And, oh yeah, let’s try out this Facebook-page conversation thing! Come on over and let me know what you think – about my goals, about your goals, about that weird thing you ate in a restaurant last week. Whatever! Let’s chat.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Fuck those articles, man. They’re everywhere. You know the ones I mean, right? How to 10X Your Reading Speed and Never Have to Savour a Book Again! I suspect these are written with information gatherers in mind rather than people who read for joy. But still, what the hell?

And then there are those ‘reading’ apps that will allow you to gather all the salient points from a book without having to actually read it. (‘Blinkist lets you read the key lessons from 2200+ nonfiction books in 15 min or fewer.’ – is it just me, or is this massively disrespectful to authors? All those words are there for a reason, you know.)

And there are the people who suggest listening to audiobooks at 1.5x or even 2x normal speed so you can get through them faster, never mind the fact that it’ll sound like a chipmunk’s narrating.

Why is reading slowly treated as some defect that needs to be corrected? WHY? I realise pretty much every avid book reader wishes they could get through more books, myself included. But do you really want to do it at the expense of your reading experience?

I have another suggestion: if you want to read more books, just read more often. Like, obviously??? Also, perhaps be pickier and more thoughtful about what you read if you’re worried about never getting through your TBR pile.

I know exactly why I am such a slow reader, and I’m okay with it. Because what the fuck is the obsession with being ‘efficient’ all about anyway? Is life really something that needs to be MAXIMISED across all areas? Ugh.

You know the main reason I read slowly? Because I think. A lot. I do this with both fiction and non-fiction. I will think about a story and how it relates to my own life. I will think about what this means for me. I will think about what I like or don’t like about this. I will think about what I can learn from this. I will also think about why the author used that particular bit of punctuation there, and I will marvel over word choices and beautiful turns of phrase. (I mostly find myself in awe of clever metaphors and descriptions that evoke perfect images in my mind.) Since starting to write fiction myself and learning more about it, I will also consider structure and narrative, which are two things I never thought about before.

I don’t read slowly because my eyes can’t scan the words fast enough. I do this when I’m not thinking, but then I will catch myself at the bottom of a page, and then I’m like wait, what? I need to read that bit again. I read every single word on the page. Sometimes, if I think I’ve missed even a single word, or can’t recall what I’ve just read, I will go back and read it again. I want it all. Every word and meaning the author intended.

This makes me a better writer, and also means I get more from the books as I read them.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

I decided to do things differently this year. Rather than slinging together a list of goals – random things it’d be kinda cool to achieve by the end of the year – I chose to focus instead on building up three simple daily practices. The three practices are: writing, reading and exercising.

I purposely chose to make them easily doable:

  • Write 400 words a day, no matter what. Paper journalling doesn’t count, but I’ve created a ‘Shit’ folder in Scrivener for any time I’m struggling. I can write whatever I want in the Shit folder.
  • Read some of a book every single day, no matter how little.
  • Walk at least three miles a day, or go for a run or do a yoga session (any distance/length).

We’re a quarter of the way through the year now, so I’ve decided to check in on my progress. I want to analyse whether these three daily practices are actually helping me achieve anything, and whether I could be doing them differently to get better, more consistent, more satisfying results. (Spoiler: yes.)

You can read more about each goal and why I chose them here. The short version is: they’re all about becoming a better writer – even the exercise goal. I get upper back pain, which makes me not want to sit at my desk and write, and exercising every day helps with that. Obviously.

Okay! Now let’s look at how I’m going with each goal so far.

Writing 400 words every single day

Guys, I was going so strong with this until last week. But last Tuesday I completely, thoroughly, totally forgot to write. I completed 79 days in a row of writing at least 400 words and then I fucking forgot. You probably think I woke up annoyed with myself the next day. But I wasn’t annoyed at all. In fact, I was relieved.

I didn’t intentionally not write. I just straight up forgot about it – it didn’t even cross my mind as my head hit the pillow that night. Though that did happen on several previous occasions: more than once, I crawled into bed and realised I hadn’t done my writing yet. So I’d climb back out, pad through to my desk and furiously clatter out 400 words about any old bullshit just so I could say I’d done my writing. I dragged myself out of bed on those days because I knew I’d be seriously disappointed in myself if I intentionally shrugged it off.

So why was I relieved about forgetting? Because I knew something wasn’t right about the way I was doing this.

Before I’d made my slip-up, I was already questioning whether this was worth doing. Here’s an excerpt from before I fucked up the challenge:

It’s hard to figure out what I’m trying to achieve with this. Or what I AM achieving, more to the point. It’s 10pm on a Saturday night as I write this. I’m tired and I don’t want to do it.

Often I write crap. And I know people say you have to write crap to get at the good stuff, and that is definitely true to an extent. But I created a literal folder called ‘Shit’, specifically for this year’s write-every-day challenge, for the days when I wasn’t feeling INSPIRED to write anything in particular.

There have been many days like that so far. It’s only half-way through March and the entries in my Shit folder are stacking up. I probably shouldn’t have allowed myself that caveat. I didn’t when I started my write-every-day challenge back in October, and I felt like I was accomplishing a lot more. I WAS writing something potentially publishable every day.

And isn’t the point of this that it IS supposed to be a challenge and it IS supposed to make myself or my writing better somehow?

Writing 400 words of whatever bullshit comes to mind at 10pm is not good. It is not purposeful. It is not useful. It does not advance me as a writer, because I have been doing that shit since I was 15 and it’s pretty evident I’ve got as far as I can up the ‘write some random bollocks about what you’re thinking’ ladder.

So something needs to change. I either need to not allow myself these Shit posts, or change the challenge in another way. Write in the morning perhaps?

It’s easy for me to write thousands of words per day when I’ve got something specific I need to do. But otherwise, when I allow myself to write shit, I will simply write shit. Especially at 10pm on a Saturday night.

So, yeah, I’m allowing myself a brief break from the challenge, especially since I’m in a period of upheaval at the moment. I’ve just quit digital nomading and am now moving into a more permanent home in Edinburgh. That doesn’t mean I’m not writing during this period – just that I haven’t set any rules for it. I mean, look at me, I’m writing right now. Bam! Since last Tuesday, I’ve missed a few more days. But whatever.

I’d be foolish to carry on with this challenge even though I knew it wasn’t helping me achieve anything particularly worthwhile. ‘Trust the process’, I said. And I do still believe that. It’s just that I think my particular process was, er, not great. Just being able to say ‘Hey, I wrote every single day this year!’ without having anything worthwhile to show for it at the end? What’s the fucking point of that, eh? So I’m rethinking now.

Would a daily timed writing period be better? Say, 20 or 30 minutes per day? Or should the focus be on forming the habit of writing in the mornings? Would just nixing the Shit folder solve my problems? Perhaps I should let myself take weekends off so I don’t burn myself out? Or maybe just Saturdays? What about aiming for a particular word count each week, without the worry of hitting a certain number of words per day? Whatever I decide, it’s going to need to work with my rebel tendency.

Gretchen Rubin discussing "Rebels" - YouTube

I think I want the goal to still be writing every single day, but I know my current approach isn’t working. I might drop the word count and try out a timed period every day. And definitely no more Shit folder. Hopefully by the end of the year I’ll have figured out what works for me and incorporated a good writing habit into my life. I might check in again after the second and third quarters to evaluate my progress again.

Whatever I choose, I’m going to start doing it on Monday, and I’m going to make it more habits-based. Because what I’ve been doing so far this year is about as far from forming a habit as you can get while still managing to achieve the thing each day.

Reading every single day

The only ‘rule’ I set myself here was to read part of a book every single day. No particular page count to hit. I’ve only missed five days of reading so far this year… but that’s not as impressive as it sounds.

Turns out, focusing on building the daily practice is all well and good, and they DO say you should start small, but looking at my progress so far this year, I’m thinking I set my goal too small. Like, it’s a step backwards compared to what I was already achieving. By this time last year, I’d already read 35 books. So far this year? Six. Fucking SIX, guys. Environment is incredibly important for building habits, and last year I was living alone in a nice apartment. I had designated spots where I sat to read, and I often started my days by doing so. I was in the habit of reading a good chunk most days.

So far this year? I’ve been either crashing at my mum’s place or living in Airbnbs. Neither are particularly conducive to building any sort of habit. My reading so far this year has mostly been done in bed at night, which means I only manage a page or two (or sometimes half a page) before the Kindle slaps my face.

Once I’m settled in my new apartment, I’m going to get back to reading in the mornings. I’m still not planning to set myself a page target, because I know from my book count last year that I can get through a lot without too much trouble.

Exercising every single day

I’ve missed the most days of all from this challenge. Twelve missed days in total. But, weirdly, I don’t feel as bad about this as I do about the writing and reading goals. Why? Because what I am doing is working. My back pain has been minimal so far this year. I credit this not just to exercising regularly, but also to sitting in more comfortable positions at home, both at my desk and when I’m lounging around.

Plus, this habit is pretty much already ingrained in me. Over the past couple of years, it’s become a regular habit of mine to walk 3–5 miles a day, usually somewhere in solitude and in nature. I’m ecstatic that my new apartment is close to my old one, because that means I’ll still be able to make my daily treks to the beach.

I would like to incorporate more variety of exercise into my days, though I trust that this too will be easier with a more stable environment. I was running or doing yoga fairly regularly throughout January, but as soon as I landed in Seville, that was it. It was walking or nothing. (Well, I went for one run. Hmm.)

Going for my daily walks doesn’t just help my back, of course – it also helps my mind. I tend to walk for at least an hour, and often up to two, and during this time it’s just me and my brain, and usually some music. I never listen to podcasts or audiobooks when I walk, because it’s my thinking and figuring-out time. If anything’s on my mind, whether it’s to do with work or life, I’ve usually resolved it by the time I get home.

Sometimes there’s nothing on my mind, though. I’m not a worrier by nature. I don’t get anxiety. Sometimes I will just enjoy the walk, stopping to smell the spring blooms or smile at the squirrels scampering around the trees. In the summer, on my strolls to the beach, I take my shoes off and squidge my feet into the wet sand or dance in the waves lapping on the shore (after checking there’s no one around, natch).

So yeah, I’m pretty happy with my exercise at the moment. I don’t WANT to give up my daily walks, and usually if I do a different kind of exercise it replaces the walks, so, hmm… dilemma. But right now, I’m happy with where things are on this front.

If you’re interested, I’ve been tracking my daily habits with the Productive app, which I like for its simplicity.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Last night, I was inside a cathedral. It had the whole gargantuan Christmas tree and twinkling lights thing going on. There were mince pies and cava. And the main event: four choirs. THE SCENE WAS SET. I was going to have a festive evening indeed, and it was going to get better and better as the night went on. Right?

Well, no. Not exactly.

The first choir trotted onto the stage, sparkling and swathed in red. They sang upbeat, familiar songs. No backing music, just pitch-perfect voices chiming in at appropriate intervals, as I suppose is the norm with choirs. The conductor (do choirs have conductors???) was energetic and enthusiastic. Everyone was having a fantastic time – the choir, the conductor, the audience. I couldn’t have wiped the grin off my face if I’d wanted to.

The second choir took the stage. A small choir. They didn’t have a uniform – everyone simply wearing a gown or dapper suit in a festive colour. They didn’t sway or jig or gesticulate. They stood with their arms by their sides, and they sang, unaccompanied save for the occasional unintrusive harmony of a piano.

But man, could they sing. Fucking hell, these guys were incredible. My mouth dropped open, its corners still turned up, and my eyes widened. Wow. More familiar songs performed masterfully, an angelic solo, and then the finale – a Jingle Bells/Tchaikovsky mash-up, easily the highlight of the evening. It was tight, funny, and delightful, in a way that only something that truly astonishes you can be.

And then… the third choir. The ‘rock choir’. Now, I love me some rock. I’d been looking forward to hearing them. But something about matching T-shirts and awkward shuffling just doesn’t scream rock to me. As soon as the backing music started blaring through the speakers and the conductor wriggled out from the choir just in time to take the lead, I knew this wasn’t going to be what I’d expected.

And as soon as the choir started swaying in time to the music, stepping left and right, everyone usually going in the right direction at the right time, but not always, I cringed. The words, ‘Oh, this is lame,’ popped unbidden into my mind. It didn’t help that the conductor had to dive into the choir to hit pause on the music while a soloist got into position, and then the poor soloist’s microphone didn’t work anyway.

Don’t get me wrong. They were competent singers. But after the previous two choirs? It all felt a little… flat. Everyone sang in unison, with no particular sections of the choir distinguishing themselves from any other. It was like group karaoke. There was nothing delightful about it. It was merely good.

Finally, the fourth choir. They made a bold first impression, sashaying onto stage in time to a lively piano ditty. Their performance was lively too. Two microphones were placed at the front, and different people kept dashing from the choir to sing a quick line before returning to their places. Much dancing and arm-waving ensued. Again, the singing was competent. Again, it felt more like karaoke than a choir, this time after a few drinks, perhaps. Again, it was merely good.

Which choir would you rather see perform?

And more to the point – which choir would you rather be?

If you’re content to be considered competent enough to get the job done, that’s fine. You’ll probably be able to grow a steady roster of clients and customers.

But if you want to be remembered, talked about, sought after – you need to do better than ‘merely good’.

And the way to achieve that is not by embellishing. You don’t need to include quirky gimmicks or deals or additional services that aren’t exactly your speciality but hey maybe it’ll be appealing to someone.

You need to do one particular thing, in your own way, and spectacularly well. Only then can you become known for what you do.

Simplicity, originality and mastery.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

I quit my job five years ago, two months after making my first income from freelance writing.

Sometimes, even now, I have these moments where I’m like, holy fuck, this is my LIFE.

I don’t have to rely on anyone else to earn enough money to live. I don’t have to be anywhere at a certain time each day. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do, really. It’s fucking great.

I’ve learned a lot along the way. About myself, about business, and about life. I don’t come from a business background. My parents had working-class jobs. I had only ever worked in bars or nursing homes or garden centres. I didn’t know anyone who ran their own business, except my bosses.

And yet, here I am.

Five years isn’t a long time to run a business, but I’ve passed the timeframe in which most new businesses fail, right? SO LET’S TALK ABOUT HOW I DID THAT.

Fair warning: I am about to contradict myself a lot.

1. Hey, that might not work for you

I’m starting with this because, well, I’m about to share a whole bunch of shit that’s worked for me – but that won’t necessarily work for you.

The absolute best mindset you can go into this with is that there’s no set way to achieve success. I mean, for starters your idea of success might vary wildly to someone else’s. But more notably, some stuff the self-proclaimed ‘gurus’ and ‘thought leaders’ (just puked in my mouth a little) tell you to do will be absolutely bollocks or just simply won’t work for you.

You can follow as many ‘best practices’ as you like, but the businesses that truly succeed are the ones that break the rules and do things their own way.

I recommend studying the way people you admire work and figuring out what you like about their approach and would like to try for yourself. And then do that. Try stuff you like the look of, don’t try stuff that makes you feel gross.

You’re not aiming to copy someone’s exact business model here – you’re aiming to create your own by amalgamating various elements that make sense to you. It won’t be perfect, but you’ve just got to try stuff to figure out how to do this.

An example from my own experience: it’s incredibly common advice to get dressed and presentable and ready to begin work. But I tend to do all my best work, the stuff that requires deep concentration, early in the morning, swathed in pyjamas and slouchy sweaters, with all the curtains closed. My apartment is my cave and getting dressed is a distraction that makes me focus more on my appearance than my work.

2. Find out how YOUR personality works and frame everything around that

Not everyone works in the same way. Rigid schedules and to-do lists work for some people. It makes them feel in control and on track. But me? Try to tell me to start work at a particular time or to do certain things in a certain order and you’ll find me on my Playstation approximately thirty seconds later.

Telling me to do something (like, literally anything) ignites my spirit of rebellion and I am compelled to do the opposite. This is just who I am and how I work, and knowing this enables me to shape my days in a way that works for me. This largely means focusing on how great I will feel once I’ve done my work.

I learned a lot about myself from The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. I HIGHLY recommended checking it out if you want to learn how to make yourself do your work when you’d rather be eating peanut butter at your kitchen counter.

3. Telling yourself you’re a certain way doesn’t make it true

I used to tell myself I couldn’t work if I’d had less than 7 hours sleep. And I believed it for a long time. It was like a get-out-of-jail-free card for not having to do anything. But you know what? If I had a hard deadline that day, weirdly, I could still work. Working is harder when I haven’t had enough sleep, but it’s not impossible, especially not if I begin in the morning. (True story: I’m working on 5 hours sleep right now.)

Telling yourself you can’t do something because of how you are is just a way of giving yourself permission not to do it. But of course you can do it. It’s not like it’s physically impossible. What kind of bullshit is that?

I realise this point almost exactly contradicts my previous point. But both are true. I don’t know. They just are, okay? I think it’s this: don’t make excuses, but also play to your strengths? Whatever. Moving on.

4. Get enough bloody sleep, would you? PRIORITISE THAT SHIT

Okay, so I don’t NEED over 7 hours sleep but things are a damn sight easier when I get it. So I do everything I can to ensure I get a good night’s kip. Occasionally I will stay up till 2am playing video games, but I know I’ll still wake up by 7am (thanks for that, brain), so I don’t do it often.

There are a few super simple things I do to help me get better sleep: I don’t sleep with my phone in my bedroom, I don’t use an alarm clock, and I go to bed early. I don’t always do all of these things, but I do them 95% of the time, and that’s the best you can expect of yourself.

5. It’ll feel weird and uncomfortable at first, but you’ll quickly get used to not sleeping with your phone next to you, I PROMISE!!!

I stopped sleeping with my phone in my bedroom a few years ago and it has been without doubt one of the best things I’ve done for my sleep and productivity.

I no longer stare into a bright screen if I wake in the middle of the night, which means my brain doesn’t become alert and start buzzing. It means I go back to sleep quicker. It’s useful in the mornings too. I wake up, lie around for about fifteen minutes, then get up.

A friend asked how I don’t just spend the whole day in bed now that I work for myself. I was bemused. What would I do all day? (Don’t answer that, filthbags.)

6. Turn notifications OFF, you self-sabotaging schlep

What the hell is wrong with you? Do you intentionally self-destruct in all areas of your life or just this one? Turn your damn notifications off on everything, except maybe phone calls and text messages. YOU’RE WELCOME.

7. Ev-er-y-thing is practice

You will never be ready. You will never achieve perfection (which is Not A Real Thing). Crack on and do the best you’re capable of right now. Just think of everything you do as an exercise in getting better at it. And you will.

8. Talent is useless on its own

I’ve met a lot of wannabe business owners over the past few years. A lot of them were talented. Most of them didn’t believe in themselves. If you don’t believe in yourself, or at least pretend to (since believing in yourself is hard when you haven’t proven anything yet), no one else will either. Because how can you believe in someone who doesn’t believe in themselves?

These people get beat down on price. They accept jobs at shitty rates. They never demand more. No, they never command more. Their lack of belief oozes through their words, and others capitalise on it. Because it is obvious.

You also need the drive and guts to do this. Running your own business is hard. It requires a risk-taking attitude. Which basically means you don’t dwell on the possibility of everything going wrong. If you struggle to motivate yourself to do things, whether through fear or sloth, this might not end well for you.

9. Good habits are boring but, like, actually quite handy?

This might sound like a weird thing to hear from a self-proclaimed rebel who hates being told (even by herself) to do something – especially if it’s something she should do every single day.

But that’s not what habits are. When you form a habit, you don’t NEED to tell yourself to do it. You’ve trained yourself to do it automatically, without thinking, so there’s nothing to rebel against. And doing this can enable you to form a sort of natural rhythm to your days, meaning you flow through them with much less effort and much better results.

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg are two great books on the subject.

10. Focus

You will do better work if you don’t go on social media or check email for the first few hours of the day. This is just a fact. Deep Work by Cal Newport talks about this.

11. An ergonomic desk set-up is CRUCIAL (unless you like pain)

Before I started my business, which involves a heavy dose of sitting at a laptop each day, I was a barmaid. I rarely sat down. I was always doing something, whether it was pulling a pint, carrying food to a table, or changing a barrel in the cellar.

Switching from being on my feet all day to sitting at a desk all day, I noticed a huge difference in my back’s health. Back pain, man. What a bitch. Now though? I rarely get it, because I’ve bought equipment that helps with my posture. I use a stand for my laptop to bring it up to eye-level, and I have a separate keyboard and mouse. I also have a kneeling chair.

Find equipment that works for you. It may take some experimentation, but it will be worth it. SO WORTH IT.

12. Effective networking isn’t the gross thing you think it is

I never go to ‘networking events’, but that doesn’t mean I don’t network. I prefer to think of it as ‘making friends’. Get to know people, grow to like them, and they will do the same back to you. Trust and respect will happen and things will be glorious.

Last week I picked up a fun last-minute day’s work because a friend of mine was ill and couldn’t do it herself. We met on Twitter a year or two ago and have since become actual real-life friends – and she thought of me first when she was looking for someone to help her and her client out.

The week before, I gave a talk at Edinburgh College about how to write good copy, because a bunch of fellow copywriters in Edinburgh put my name forward. But if I’d never got involved with the Edinburgh copywriting scene, they wouldn’t even have known who I was, let alone thought I was the type of person who’d be good at talking to student about copy.

My involvement in the Edinburgh copywriting scene also began online, by the way. The internet is how we meet people now. It’s not weird any more. So get involved. Facebook groups and Twitter are good places to start.

13. Professional and serious are not the same, arrrgghhh goddamnit!

‘But don’t you want to appear professional?’ That’s what someone asked me after I’d told them you should write conversationally in your copy.

And well, yeah, I do. But writing conversationally doesn’t prevent that. Fuck, I even swear in my writing sometimes and that doesn’t stop me being professional either. Being professional is more about doing what you say you’ll do and being responsive when people talk to you than writing stuffy emails and keeping your collar buttoned up at all times.

Professional and serious are not the same. There’s nothing wrong with being serious if that’s how you really are, but don’t mistake it for professionalism. You can be one and not the other.

14. Selling doesn’t mean being sleazy

People think selling is sleazy because that’s the only time they notice it: when it’s obvious someone’s trying to sell them something, by any means. Sleazily.

But people WANT to buy things, and if you present your offer to the right person, in the right way, they will.

15. It’s okay to watch TV, play video games, and do other stuff just for fun

When I first got involved with the online-business scene, there was a lot of shit going around about how to maximise your efficiency. About how to cut everything unnecessary out of your life so you can focus on ‘the things that matter’. While there’s some truth in that, YOU should be the one to decide what that means for you.

I heard over and over again that watching TV or playing video games was a waste of time. We should spend all our time doing something to improve ourselves!! Literally all of it!!!! Read books on your phone while queueing at the supermarket! Study courses while you’re on the stationary bike!! Listen to podcasts while you have sex!!!!

Jesus Fucking Christ. It’s okay to relax sometimes and just do things because you enjoy them, you know? I spent approximately 17 hours playing Dragon Age: Inquisition this weekend, and not only am I not exaggerating, it was fucking great. ENJOY LIFE SOMETIMES OR WHAT IS THE POINT?

16. This doesn’t have to be some grand, sweeping commitment to improving all of humanity

It’s okay if your work doesn’t revolve around changing the fucking world. It’s okay to want to do something just because you’re good at it and enjoy it. There doesn’t need to be a deeper meaning, other than the one you decide for yourself, which can be as simple as ‘I don’t want to have a boss any more’.

17. The digital nomad life suuuucks

I started my business with the goal of being able to work from anywhere. My original intention was to work and travel at the same time, aka become a digital nomad. I tried it and it sucked. You don’t do great work OR great travel. It’s still awesome to be able to work from anywhere, and I do take advantage of this, but now I spend most of my time based in Edinburgh and my work is so much more satisfying for it. And so is my travel, for that matter.

18. ‘Passion’ is a terrible reason to start a business

Trying to start a business based on passion is like trying to be in love with someone on the first date. It’s just not how it works.

I didn’t choose to become a freelance writer because I was particularly passionate about it. I was writing articles about TV antennas and heat exchangers when I started out. It was not a passionate love affair, I assure you.

As far as I can tell, most ‘passion businesses’ happen by accident. Someone does something because they love it – with zero intention of making money from it. Then, because they’re good at it and see a way to monetise it, they do.

If your starting goal is to make money, you have to do things the other way around. Begin with something you can monetise, and you’ll probably grow to love it anyway, because that’s what happens when you devote yourself to something.

Yes, I’m completely in love with Untamed Writing now, for the record.

19. Concentration is fleeting and will abandon you in short order

The first time I drove for five hours without stopping, I was astounded at how tired I felt at the end of my journey. ‘All I’ve been doing is sitting here. Why am I so tired?’ And then I realised that I was concentrating for the entire time. And using your brain can be just as tiring as exerting yourself physically.

It makes sense that this applies to running an online business too. There’s a lot of thinking involved. I max out at about four hours of concentration. That’s why I start work in the mornings. If I start work in the afternoons, after I’ve already been awake for a while and done some other shit, I don’t have as much concentration left.

20. It really is a good idea to ‘niche down’

This is solid advice that I tell other people (but haven’t always listened to myself). Focus your offering. At least make sure all the things you offer are relevant to the same sort of person, and make sure they all come from roughly the same skill set, because you want people to know that this is what you do and you are fucking good at it.

Focusing your offering is also extremely useful for eliminating headfucks. Having one specific group of people you target everything towards makes things SO MUCH EASIER. No more fretting about what your email opt-in gift should be, or who to write your blog posts for, or whether you need to split your website in two.

21. Your writing voice will develop over time

I credit the fact that I’m such a conversational, entertaining writer to the fact that I’ve been doing it since I was 15. I started a LiveJournal and I wrote about random crap, mostly to entertain my friends. Over the years, this habit has continued, evolving over many (many many) blogs and social media platforms. It’s ingrained now. It’s been a part of me for over half my life.

My point is not that you need to write for YEARS to find your voice. My point is that you need to practise, and that your voice won’t be as strong now as it is in five years. The way I write now is different to the way I wrote five years ago. But it wouldn’t be if I hadn’t written anything during that period.

What’s that proverb? The best time to start is yesterday. The second best time is now. Stop lamenting over how long this will take, or the fact that you’ve left it too long, and just begin. Five years ago, when I started this blog, I thought I was too late. Blogging was heavily saturated now. No one would read my stuff. I couldn’t get noticed or make an impact. And yet here we are. Hi. Thanks for reading.

22. Most people’s writing is full of redundant crap

Most people are terrible writers, and I blame school essays. Trying to hit arbitrary word counts and talk in an overly formal tone does NOTHING to help you become a good writer. Sigh. Anyway, cut out the crap and your writing might become something people don’t fall asleep to.

23. People don’t have short attention spans if you write something worth reading

Someone once responded to one of my newsletters (which, if you’re subscribed, you will know are loooooong) asking how effective I found them for my business. ‘The experts say no one reads emails over 250 words any more,’ he said. Or some crap like that.

I just pointed him to my subscribe page, which contains a whole bunch of testimonials from other people who’ve responded to my emails saying how much they love them, the fact that they’re the only ones they look forward to opening or read all the way to the end. People who, yes, go on to buy from me.

Write something worth reading and, holy shit, PEOPLE WILL READ IT. Also, I hate to be the one to point this out to you, but you’re over halfway through a 4000-word article right now.

24. If you want to feel fulfilled, create something

Relaxing is not the way to a contented life. In fact, relaxing sucks if your idea of relaxing is not doing anything. I once took a week off work and I was like I’m not going to do ANYTHING and it’s going to be AMAZING. It was dull as shit and I hated myself the entire time. Find something you care about to work on if you want to live a satisfying life. It’s the absolute best feeling.

25. Blogging makes a huuuuuuuge difference

Not every business needs a blog, but if you’re a freelancer it’s probably a great idea. In Untamed Writing’s early days, I blogged once a week, and later twice a week. And it was one of the most worthwhile things I ever did for my business. Most of my visitors came from Google. They still do, in fact. But they wouldn’t if not for my blog.

Blogging is also ridiculously good for making people fall in love with your brand, trust you, and want to buy your stuff or hire you. It shows dedication and know-how. It’s just, seriously, it’s just such a good thing to do. But take it seriously. Commit to it and don’t throw out any old trash just for the sake of saying something.

26. I reluctantly admit that SEO does matter

I sometimes go off on one about SEO. Like, it’s not the be-all and end-all. But it is important. Like I just said: my business wouldn’t be where it is today without ranking on Google for various useful terms. My freelance writing course ranked number 4 for ‘how to become a freelance writer’ for a long time, and it brought me a lot of traffic, new readers and paying customers (though I don’t offer that course any more).

My problem is the approach some people take to SEO. Ranking on page 1 is fucking pointless is nobody does anything when they get to your site. You need good copy, you need something worthwhile on offer, and a slick design won’t hurt either.

Admittedly I am probably scarred by my earliest freelance writing assignments, which involved churning out useless crap no one would ever read, all for the sake of keywords.

So my thoughts on SEO are basically this: write good shit, write relevant shit, and write it in the words your target audience would actually use. Then people will find your stuff, enjoy your stuff and share your stuff, and Google will notice. It’s a simple but effective recipe.

27. Content marketing is good for selling products, networking is good for finding clients

I doubt many of my copywriting clients read my blog, or at least not on a regular basis, and I’m sure they don’t sign up for my emails. People who are willing and able to pay good money to hire talented copywriters tend to be busy. They have a lot going on, whether that be managing a team or launching a new startup or whatever. They’re not looking for inspiration or information – they’re looking for someone to get the job done. So they ask people they know and trust for recommendations.

On the other hand, people who are at the beginning of their journeys into business are looking for inspiration and information, especially if they’re going it alone. And they often intend to write their copy themselves, whether through necessity or desire. These are people who are more likely to spend money on ebooks and courses. I’ve found content marketing highly effective for reaching these fine people. Provide useful, inspiring information for free, and people are more likely to trust that you can help them.

Caveat: growing an active following online, through your blog and social media, shows potential clients you know what you’re doing. One of my recent clients was astounded when I got a lot of responses to a Twitter poll I conducted to help with his copy, despite the fact he has several times as many followers as me. IT’S NOT HOW BIG IT IS, IT’S WHAT YOU DO WITH IT. Cough.

28. Don’t wait until you’re inspired or in the mood

It’s true that it’s easier to crack on with your work when you’re in the mood to do so. But, like, when the fuck does that ever happen?

You’ve just got to begin, whether you feel like it or not. You’ll find you quickly GET in the mood. I dunno, that’s just how the brain works. Set it down a particular path with a little effort, and it will continue along it with much less exertion.

It’s nicer to start work when you feel like doing it, of course. I have a couple of tricks to help with that: read a related business book (this is dangerous, though, as you might end up reading for five hours) or spend the first few minutes in bed thinking about what you want to accomplish today and where doing so will lead.

But better than trying to get in the mood is to set yourself up for success. Turn off the internet the night before. Have a dedicated work space where the only thing you do is work. Form a little ritual that signals that work is beginning. It’s not easy, but it is worthwhile, like most things on this godforsaken planet.

29. Just fucking go for it

You have to try things if you’re going to get anywhere. So fucking try them, or you will never know.

Does your website copy suck? Want to improve it but don’t know how? Come join me for a two-week workshop and we’ll get that fixed up for you.

I’ll show you how to write it – and then I’ll edit it for you. Yes, with my own fair hands. Spoiler: it’s way cheaper than hiring me to write from..

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Having a personal-branded business doesn’t mean you can just do whatever the hell you want with it. I mean, you can, since it’s your business and whatever. But if you want to, you know, make money, you shouldn’t. Here are some things you should most def avoid:

1. Flaunting Your Lack of Confidence

Wait, what? Unconfident people don’t flaunt anything, do they? Well, sure, maybe not overtly. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t obvious. Any time you qualify yourself or hold yourself back from saying what you really want to say, you’ll either come across as unconfident or bland. Not good, either way.

If you don’t believe in yourself, why the hell should anyone else?

2. Shitty Website Design

This is a business, isn’t it? If you can’t figure out how to make your website look good on your own, either because you lack the skill or you simply don’t have the eye for it, get outside help. Take this seriously. Invest in your business. You don’t have to hire a professional and splash out thousands on a slick, personalised design, but at the very least you could throw down $100 for a premium WordPress theme.

3. Shitty Profile Pic

A shitty profile pic will make you look a) like you don’t know what you’re doing, b) unprofessional, and possibly even c) untrustworthy.

A few things to bear in mind:

  • Dress well. You don’t have to throw on a suit though if that’s not your thing – just look at my photos throughout this site. You just have to look like you didn’t crawl out of your bed, really. Or a swamp.
  • No sunglasses. Show us your eyes, you shady bastard.
  • Good lighting. Natural light on your face (not behind you) is best. For the love of Christ, don’t use your camera’s flash.
  • Consider what’s in the background. We don’t want to see your laundry, your unopened mail or any other clutter. If nothing else, at least use a plain wall in the background or something.
4. Shitty Logo

Sensing a theme? As a writer, I am obviously all about top-notch copy. If your words aren’t right, you’ve got no chance, no matter how beautiful your website, profile pic, logo, or any other visual element of your brand. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to have shitty visual components. So yeah, make sure you have a good logo. Simple, clear, good fonts. Hire someone else to do it if design’s not your speciality or Photoshop makes your brain implode.

5. Bad Grammar Every God-Damn Where

If you suck at writing, hire a copywriter. Or an editor or proofreader. But ideally a writer. Typos and bad grammar make you look like an idiot, and nobody wants to hire an idiot.

6. Being Inconsistent

You can take this in multiple ways. For instance, your brand should be cohesive. Your copy, design, photos, services, products, blog posts, and whatever else, should all work in alignment.

But also, do what you say you’re going to do, and be consistent with everything you do in your business. People trust people who do what they say they’re going to do, and who do what’s expected of them. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever change your mind, but just don’t be a flake.

7. Using Cliches and Other Bullshit

UGH, THE WORST. If you want to come off as untrustworthy or like you’re just copying everyone else because you don’t know what else to do, go ahead with the cliches and other bullshit. Jargon is great for filling the spaces where you feel like you should be saying something worthwhile but can’t think of anything.

But if you want people to grow to trust, like and want to buy from you, how about just speaking openly and honestly?

8. Being Totally Unclear About What You Do

As I said, creating a personal brand doesn’t mean you can just do whatever you want with your business and make a stack of cash from it. It’d be nice if that were the case, but it isn’t. Even if YOU are the reason people stick around, there needs to be something specific they come to you for in the first place.

9. Hiding Who You Are

Being mysterious is all well and good when you’re the sexy stranger propped up on the end of the bar. In business, it’s just dumb. Running a personal brand absolutely requires trust. People must trust you, and that’s hard to accomplish if they have no idea who you really are. Tell us your name, show us your face, and give us a glimpse into your personality. Puh-LEASE.

Nodding your head in agreement? Feel like you’ve just been slapped in the face with an epiphany or nine? Throw your email address in the box below, because I’ve got more where that came from.

Read Full Article
Visit website

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free year
Free Preview