How Important is “Exposure”?

How Important is “Exposure”?

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium, writing

What is it and how to (& not to) get it.

Merriam Webster defines exposure as “ the condition of being presented to view or made known” and “the condition of being subject to some effect or influence,”along with a couple other definitions.

Practically speaking, as a freelancer or entrepreneur, you need exposure.

It’s a fact of business.

People need to know you exist in order to buy your product or services.

How Can You Get Exposure?

There are many different ways to get exposure, like having a column in a major publication, but like Nicolas Cole learned, it may not be the best way (he shares some great insights in this article). You can start a blog, pay for ads, do work for free (but you shouldn’t!), you can pay social media influencers to feature you, you can use PR tactics like pitching to media outlets, and more.

You can become a top writer on Medium and Quora (I’mcurrently both), though those don’t necessarily mean more exposure, they certainly have the potential to do so.

You can also just be marketing yourself to individual clients and focus on building up your client base.

What Works Best?

That one is a bit harder. What works best for me — using social media to find clients and then selling myself on the phone — may not work best for you.

Most people and companies find that a combination of several tactics is best for them.

You have to figure out what works by judging cost versus benefit. Whether it’s costing you money or your time, it is costing you something.

If you boosted a Facebook ad or sponsored an Instagram ad, look at the stats and results. Did you get any new clients from it? Or inquiries? Did any more people subscribe to your mailing list or buy your book?

Testing different ideas is a great way to see what works for you with minimal risks. Don’t spend $200 on your first ad, start small and figure out your audience and then move up.

You Still Have to Pay the Bills!

Be careful not to do too much for the elusive “exposure.”

There are websitescomicstwitter accounts, and more showing just how often freelancers and craftspeople are asked to do things for free or “for the exposure.”

There are very few times when the exposure they are offering is actually going to be worth your time and energy. Amy Morinwrote a piece for Inc on this exact topic.

You can’t pay your rent/mortgage with exposure. Be very careful not to just do a bunch of free or vastly underpaid work in the HOPES it might get you some exposure. Your time will be far better spent looking for actual paying clients.

I found clients even when I had zero professional writing experience, using only my old personal blog as writing samples, simply by approaching people and asking if they would be interested in any writing or editing services.

Make your OWN exposure. Value your work and yourself very highly!

Of courses there are exceptions!

I am NOT saying to not do anything for free ever in your life! I am talking specifically in the context of potential clients and paid work. For example, there may be a charitable organization you choose to volunteer your time and skills for — of course, that’s wonderful and is also your own choice.

You also may find yourself in a HuffPost situation.

About a year before I ever even thought about looking for clients and being a paid writer, I started contributing to HuffPost for free. I loved it, it was something I chose to do knowing there was no payment. However, when I weighed the benefits I’d get (major publication byline, the marketability, write what I want) against the cost (my time), it made sense to me.

So of course, find what works best FOR YOU and don’t just trust every stranger on the internet!

Are you picking up what I’m putting down? Join my mailing list for more info (not spam!) or check out my story and freelancing guide, “Write. Get Paid. Repeat.” with tons of practical info packed into a short book!

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How to Get Started & Write Your Book

How to Get Started & Write Your Book

Books, JS, Medium

Breaking down the process.

When it comes to writing a book, there are a lot of misconceptions.

Some people think it’s super easy (it’s not!), some think it’s too hard (nope!), others think it’s unnecessary or there are too many books in the world (never!), and still others just don’t know where to start.

And if you have a book in you but don’t know where to start, that is where a book coach comes in.

A book coach is a cross between an author, an accountability coach, a writing partner, an editor, and a therapist.

My book coaching focuses mostly on nonfiction works.

When I work with authors, our first couple of sessions really focus on creating an outline and coming up with a complete idea, a beginning, middle and end, and making sure the outline reflects what they want to say in the order they want to say it, in addition to hitting all the important takeaways they want the reader to get.

I’ve certainly spoken before about the importance of having an outline to when writing your book. And I will reiterate here: outlines are super important! They help you map out your book, keep you on track and focused, help you guard against writer’s block, and will allow you to finish your book much faster.

After putting together a cohesive outline, it’s time to start writing!

When it comes to actually writing a nonfiction book, there are dangers in being the expert!

Experts tend to want to write and discuss every little detail of their industry and experience and knowledge. After all, that’s why they are the expert writing the book!

But when it comes to putting it together into a book, you have to be able to step back and think about it from the reader’s perspective. Is this a beginner-level book? If so, that is entirely different from writing it for more advanced readers who are already very familiar with your topic, the lingo, the industry, and the background of it.

Beginners need all the acronyms explained, the concepts spelled out, and more examples given in different ways. The same way any newbie to an industry would. I have a plan for that.

There is also a tendency to write EVERYTHING YOU KNOW in your book, forgetting the audience and forgetting that you can always write a second book or start a blog or create a more detailed course, etc. You don’t have to get all of your knowledge out in one book! It’s also hard to sell a beginner on a book on a new topic if it’s 400 pages long and looks super complicated.

And no matter what, just start writing! It’s easier to fix bad writing than it is to start from a blank page over and over. Trust yourself and your knowledge and get started!

You have a book coach to help you — take advantage of that. Write and give the coach something to critique!

Next, I’ll be talking about the best way to break down the actual writing process.

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How Saying “No” Has Made Me Successful

How Saying “No” Has Made Me Successful

Entrepreneur, JS, Medium

You are allowed to say no to work you don’t want to do.

When I first started my business, I said yes to everything. You need a press release? Sure! You want help with a sales strategy? Of course! Oh, you need me to design the information architecture for your new website? Why not!

I didn’t know how to do half the things I said yes to. But I kept saying yes.

I learned. I researched and figured it out, and the clients had no idea it was the first time. Confidence comes in handy!

Remember, being an expert doesn’t mean you know everything, being an expert means knowing that you DON’T know something are are not afraid to go find the answer. Being an expert is knowing how to find those answers.

I said yes to everything because I was at the very beginning of building my business. I didn’t have any long-term clients yet, and I was doing what I could to make money but was not completely sure what direction my business would eventually take. I also thought I needed to say yes to everything so that I could make money!

In fact, looking back now, there is no way I could have predicted where I would be now, over a year and a half later. My business has evolved, I have cultivated relationships and have clients I adore, and my focus has shifted significantly from where I started.

And saying yes to everything helped with that! I was able to try new things and discover I was good at them and enjoyed doing them. I was able to come to the realization that some things were not what I wanted to spend my time on and focus on. I recently wrote about what I learned in my first year freelancing, and it has been amazing to see the growth.

I’ve spoken before about how what happens when you’re working on things you don’t want to do, and how to break up with clients. This was something I had to learn.

I was telling my husband about how one of my clients paid well but was really pushing me into working entirely on sales and marketing projects. Things I really was not wanting to spend so much time on. But the money was good and I felt like I couldn’t turn away guaranteed income.

He looked me in the eye and said, “Isn’t the biggest perk of being an entrepreneur getting to do the work you want?”

It was like a light bulb turned on in my head. Of course, it is. That is why I became an entrepreneur in the first place!

The next day, I spoke with that client and broke up with them. It was the best decision for me and opened me up to other new possibilities.

As I continue to re-frame and evolve my business and discover new things I love to do, I am finally saying no to work. I still often say yes to interesting new things that I want to learn, but I have given myself permission to turn down paying work that I don’t want to do.

I am making really good money now, and am in a position where I am able to be aligning everything with what I WANT to be doing. I don’t need to take low-paying projects to make ends meet anymore, and I don’t want to.

When a prospective client says to me, “Well that is too much money for this.” Instead of negotiating like I did at the beginning, I simply say, “Ok, what is your budget?” And if there is no compromise to be made (less work to fit within their budget) then I walk away.

You are allowed to say no to doing things that do not fit your business model.

You are allowed to say no to someone who wants to pay you far less than what you are worth.

You are allowed to say to people you don’t want to work with — for any reason! You allowed to choose who you do and DO NOT want to work with. If someone treats you badly, or yells at you, or does not appreciate you, guess what? You have the power and authority to hop on the Nope Train and not work with them.

As my business continues to evolve, I am able to continuously find new and interesting ways to stretch my talent and grow as a person and as a business owner.

Most importantly, I continue to find things I love to do, say no to things I don’t want to do, and work with amazing people.

This allows me to also be able to work on passion projects like writing and publishing my first book 6 months ago or putting together my second book, where I have been able to put together an anthology based on the #metoo movement.

Allowing myself more space in my business to do the work I want and the projects I love has been perfect for me and allows me to continue to be creative while also continuing to grow my business.

How did you learn to say no to work? Has this been beneficial to you and your business? If you have never said no to working with someone or on something — why not?

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You Definitely Need An Editor

You Definitely Need An Editor

Editing, JS, Medium

Even great writers need editors. Here’s why.

When it comes to writing a book, it can feel like you’re climbing a mountain, slogging through each step. When you reach the summit and the book is complete, it is easy to feel like you’re done.

DONE!

While your original manuscript is done, you are now ready to begin the editing process.

There are a ton of reasons why you need an editor, but it truly boils down to this: An unedited book is not professional.

It is very difficult to self-edit to the standards of a professionally finished book.

For one thing, your brain will often read what you think you wrote or fill in details which either aren’t there or aren’t fully explained.

For another, you simply may not notice if you’ve switched perspectives or from active to passive voice or use a lot of repetitive words.

I am a professional writer and editor as my career — and I still get my books edited by a professional who is not me.

Editing is absolutely necessary for a finished, professional, polished book.

The Job of an editor:

  • Fix all grammar and punctuation mistakes.
  • Identify inconsistencies, missing information or plot holes.
  • Identify areas where more information or explanations are needed.
  • Readability and flow — making sure it all makes sense in order and is a cohesive full story.
  • Look for repetitiveness, such as using “very” or “big” to describe most things, when a different word would have a bigger impact or flow better.

Working With An Editor

It can be scary or frustrating to hand your baby, your book, a piece of your soul over to an editor.

Some editors take it and then disappear and a month later reappear with your book with all of the edits made and everything fixed.

In some cases with some authors, this is how they prefer to be edited. Have the book taken and made even better and then returned in completed form. Some authors find this frustrating, as they are not in the loop of any changes and may get upset that their book was changed more than they wanted, especially if any major restructuring was done.

I personally am a fan of editing books in a more collaborative way. I put the book in a Google doc and give the author commenting permission. This way, they are able to see the progress being made, see changes, answer any questions I may have (which I put in comments), and make changes they need to.

We share the document and are able to polish the book together. My clients have told me they love this process, as they feel more engaged in it and that they still have a sense of control.

Writer/Editor Relationship

When you are looking for an editor, you want to work with someone you feel comfortable with, who understands your voice and messaging, and who you feel understands you. Someone you vibe with.

Before making a choice of an editor, make sure to get quotes from a couple different ones. Don’t go with the lowest or highest bidder on numbers alone. TALK to each of them. Ask about their editing process, deadlines, timelines, and payment options. Make sure you like the person and feel comfortable giving them your book.

Discuss exactly what type of editing you want and the different costs of each.

Above all, work with someone you WANT to work with. As with all successful relationships, if you like the person and understand each other, the entire process will be easier.

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How to Have a Great Editor/Author Relationship

How to Have a Great Editor/Author Relationship

JS, Medium, writing

I see authors getting frustrated. “Just tell me how much editing will cost!” They cry, annoyed at vague or incomplete answers.

The editors are sitting on the other end of the email chain despairingly, grumbling in annoyance, “How long is your book??”

As an editor, an author, and an employee of a publishing firm, I think I can clear this right up.

Authors: there is no set cost for editing. Editing depends on many factors, but the two main ones are:

  • Wordcount (length of book)
  • Type of editing desired (there is more than one)

These two things are extremely important. A 30,000-word book will take far less time to edit than a 100,000-word book, which is why there are significant price differences.

Generally, the cost of editing comes down to how much TIME it will take the editor to completely edit your book. They will estimate number of hours for the project, multiply that by their hourly fee, and that’s your price.

There are two main types of book editing that happens after the book is written.

  • Copyediting: This is general proofreading. Correcting spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, and word usage while preserving the meaning and voice of the author. Checking for overall clarity and consistency of format and style.
  • Substantive/developmental Editing: Sometimes these words are used interchangeably. This is a more in-depth edit, including checking for plot holes, asking questions, looking for plot consistency, suggestions on word changes, restructuring paragraphs or sections, asking questions of the author to create better clarity of the story, and can even include consulting on titles, cover design, and more.

Editors: the authors don’t understand editing as well as you do, have patience. They are also incredibly nervous about handing over their book — a piece of their soul — to someone and not knowing what happens next.

How can you alleviate their fears?

First, be open about your process. Tell the authors exactly what they can expect from you, how your process works, the types and number of check-ins and progress updates you’ll do.

Second, take the time to really discuss the different types of editing with your authors and your timeline and deadlines.

Thirdly, remember how it was for you, and be open to answering a million questions and getting to know your author. Ask questions, be honest, and really be a part of the process of their book, not just a side quest.

Try to be collaborative. I like to edit in a Google doc, so that the author can pop in and out, make suggestions, answer questions from me, and be constantly aware of anything happening to their book.

This has served me well and allowed a symbiotic author/editor relationship. It also makes sure that the author is not surprised by any changes I make, as they can see it happening and make the final call.

Your editing is great, but the final product needs to be something the author is excited about and proud of, too.

 

Authors: You are allowed to say no to editor suggestions (though not if it is a grammatical error. We feel strongly about those.). When it comes to style and wording, your preference wins.

Editors: Authors are allowed to say no to suggestions in style and wording, and you’re not allowed to feel bad or take it personally. Their book, their story, their voice.

 

Is this helpful? Do you have questions? What is your relationship with your editor like?

 

Photo Credit

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How To: Write a Book in 3 Months

How To: Write a Book in 3 Months

JS, Medium, writing

The 5 Steps to Writing A Book

Have you always thought about writing a book, but it just seems so daunting and impossible?

This is one of those times that you really have to think past the big picture. Much like every difficult journey, writing a book starts with a single step.

Breaking down the book writing process into more manageable, or at least more realistic and approachable steps is key to actually writing one. You don’t just come up with an idea and start writing, because your idea will peter out, or you’ll come up against a dead end, or any other of a million excuses to stop writing.

If you are looking at a nonfiction book, perhaps in entrepreneurship, business advice, self-help, or more, you’re going to want to write a book that is 30,000–45,000 words maximum. Which definitely sounds like a lot, but when you realize that a 45,000-word book is about 180 pages, that already sounds more doable!

So let’s take a number from the middle there and say that your book will be approximately 37,000 words, or about 148 pages. Broken down further, you are looking at writing about 3,000 words per week.

The 5 Steps To Writing A Book

When approaching a book idea, your first step should be to create an outline. Make it as detailed as you want, and think of it as a living document that can change and grow. Create a full outline, and include all of your ideas and plans and then work with it until the order makes sense, it says what you want to say, and you make sure that topics are grouped correctly. You will also be able to see where you plan to break it into chapters, and it will help you stay on topic.

Your outline is your first draft.

Your actual book will be an incredibly fleshed out version of your outline.

When you think about writing a book in 3 months, it sounds crazy! But 3,000 words per week is very doable! It can be 440 words per day, which is less than that click bait article you just read on Facebook, or about the number of words in two average length emails.

By putting time in your schedule and making writing a part of your routine, you will be able to write 3,000 words per week easily. Even an hour every third day or 15 minutes daily, however, you make writing a habit.

Make yourself accountable. Tell people you’re writing a book, or put money down on a publisher, or in advertising, or have a friend text you every other day asking how much you have written. Hold yourself accountable for writing every week.

Don’t get hung up on word count, though. Keep in mind the general length of your book as you continue to write, but don’t force yourself to stop because you hit a certain length, or force yourself to continue after the book is finished just because you want a specific length. It’s not about length, it’s about the story itself, and you don’t want to cheapen it needlessly. Word count is more for you to have a general starting point and to know how word count translates to book pages.

Write. Once you have the outline and you’re being held accountable, sit down every day, every week, and write. It is easier to delete poor writing than it is to have nothing on a page and start from scratch. Read over your outline, think about what you are trying to say, and just write.

At the end of 12 weeks, you will have a book. You may need revisions, you may want more time, but if you start now, in 3 months, you will have enough for a book.

It’s all about breaking down the process into manageable steps, which sounds completely reasonable and logical, but is difficult to do when you’ve been thinking about writing a book since forever, and you’ve never really started because it is a huge project, and who has the time?

You do.

You have the time and the ability to start right now. Start with 1 page, start with 100 words. Start now, and surprise yourself.

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