8 AWESOME Things You Can Tell People to Get You This Holiday Season

The question I’m hearing more and more now that we’re barreling through the holiday season is this:

“What can I get you?”

My answer is typically this: “Not a single thing. Let’s just spend time together.” BUT–sometimes that simply isn’t accepted as a legit response. So…if you’re having the same issue this holiday season (or for ANY occasion), here’s a list of some of my fave gifts for writers and readers. They’re affiliate links–but, that doesn’t increase your cost if you buy any of them. It just means I get a few coins tossed my way to help me keep doing what I’m doing.

1. Moleskin Cahier Journals

I keep a stash of Moleskin journals because I use them ALL. OF. THE. TIME. They’re perfect for journaling, jotting down ideas as they pop into your head, starting that novel you’ve always dreamed of writing, planning the year ahead for your business, and so many other things! There’s nothing like opening a new Moleskin journal. It feels like the possibilities are endless.


2. Le Pen Pens

A good friend of mine gave me two Le Pen pens a year or so ago and I absolutely fell in love with them. They’re my absolute FAVORITE pen when it comes to writing. (And, yes, I use them with my Moleskin journals!)


3. Pillowcases That Readers TOTALLY Understand

Pillows and reading go hand in hand. Am I right? Consider asking for a pillowcase that has the words to describe exactly how you feel about–well–words.


4. Cool Mugs with Cool Sayings 

A mug filled with tea, coffee, hot chocolate or any other fave beverage is a staple for writers and readers. And it’s even better when it has a cool saying on it.


5. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

This is one of THE BEST books about writing that I’ve ever read. I keep it close by in my office and I recommend it to anyone who’s even considering writing a novel.


6. Hey Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads by Luke Sullivan and Edward Boches

If you want to become better at writing copy–this is the book to read. I’ve used Hey Whipple to teach students the art of copywriting for YEARS. It’s such a fun read. But, more than that, it provides the guidance and insight regarding what it takes to write great marketing copy.


7. T-Shirts That Tell It

I don’t know about you–but I LOVE a great t-shirt. There are tons of them with sayings that really fit readers and writers. For me? The one I’ve shown here gets it right.


8. Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Great Content by Ann Handley

Finally, here’s another book I keep nearby in my office AND one I use in the classroom to teach students how to do content marketing RIGHT. This is an excellent resource for marketers, entrepreneurs, copywriters, or anyone else who’s creating content to connect with their audience.


Okay! So, I hope this list makes it a little easier for you give people an answer when they ask, “What can I get you?” during this holiday season. Of course, I don’t know about you, but I’d love to get any of these items no matter WHAT season it is! Have other ideas about what writers and readers might like? I’d love to hear! Leave a response in the comments!

5 Reasons Writers Should Consider Launching an Online Course

Why Writers Should Consider Launching Online Courses

If you haven’t heard about the growth in popularity of online courses, listen to this: IT’S GROWING!! More and more people are turning to online courses as a way to learn about pretty much anything you can think of—from how to use a software program to training their dog to starting a business. I’m not only amazed at what people want to learn—but also that they’re willing to pay for this knowledge! After all, they can find a lot of it online for free, right? Yes—but here’s the thing: People would rather have the information gathered for them and presented in a way that’s easy to understand and follow. And this is where writers have a significant advantage when it comes to creating online courses because they:

  • Are naturally good explainers
  • Have a knack for organizing and presenting information in a way that's engaging
  • Know how to create communications that resonate with specific audiences

Why Should You Consider Creating and Selling Online Courses?

I’m a firm believer that writers should view themselves as entrepreneurs. Regardless of whether you’re a fiction writer, a freelance writer, or any other kind of writer, treating what you do as a business is how you put yourself on the path to success. And one thing many of the most successful entrepreneurs do is diversify their sources of income. They also constantly work at building their audiences—establishing tribes of raving fans. These are areas where creating and selling online courses can be of significant benefit to writers.

As a writer who has created online courses, I can say from personal experience that there are a variety of reasons—from income generation to audience building to professional fulfillment—why writers should consider adding course creation to their revenue-generating toolbox. Here are five of the most significant ones (at least for me!):

1. Creating and selling online courses can help you become recognized as an authority in your field. This is key because it can open the door to new work with potential clients and it can also help you develop more meaningful and trusting relationships with your current clients (which can lead to recurring work). You might be surprised at how much having an online course can influence how others view you. For example, if you were to create a course about how to build email campaigns that result in higher audience engagement, a client who wants to achieve this goal for his or her own company will be able to see that you actually teach others how to build successful email marketing campaigns. And that’s something that can differentiate you from other writers who might be competing for the same project.

2. It can be a very good and long-term source of passive income. Whether you’re looking for a way to supplement your fiction writing or focused on using your writing skills to become a true entrepreneur, creating and selling courses is a revenue stream that can help. Although there can be considerable time spend upfront developing a course, once it’s done—you’ve got a product that can produce a steady stream of income over and over again. But, it’s important to remember that—like most forms of “passive” income—you can’t just put it on autopilot and expect huge success. You still have to market your courses regularly to get them in front of customers who are interested in the topic(s) you’re teaching.

3. It’s a great way to build a following. One of the most valuable tools you can have as writer is robust and active email list. It gives you a way to stay in touch with people who are interested in the work you’re doing and who are potential customers for whatever you’re selling—whether it’s books, freelance writing services, or anything else that you’re using your writing skills to create. When you have an online course that you’re either selling for profit or that you’re giving away as a list magnet, you can request that people enter their email addresses in order to obtain access to the course.

4. It’s incredibly rewarding when you help others figure out how to do things that they want to do. It makes me feel good to teach someone a skill that they want to learn or to help them figure out a way to achieve a particular goal. In my opinion, there’s nothing more gratifying than being a part of that “aha” moment for someone. Even though the teacher is often the person who’s viewed as being the “giver” in the learning process, teaching is definitely a two-way street. In return for the knowledge and support you offer, you’ll receive a feeling of purpose and gratification that’s hard to match.

5. It’s fun! I love coming up with ways to make learning an enjoyable experience for my students. The process of course creation involves everything I love—from coming up with a plan for the course to determining what the creative execution will look like. As writers, we’re creative beings. And creating courses allows us to tap into a wide variety of creative tools.

Whether you’re looking for a way to supplement your current writing income or trying to broaden your entrepreneurial reach, creating and selling quality online courses is an option to consider. And—as a writer—there’s no one better equipped to do it than you.

If you enjoyed this post--AWESOME! I'd love to have you join me for more cool stuff over at The Smarter Writing Lab. And be sure to check out my FREE Copywriting Crash Course that'll teach you how to develop content that will help you build your business!

Nick Loper–Smart Conversations about Smart Writing

I've been a HUGE fan of Nick Loper's for a couple of years. He's my kind of guy--smart, humble, curious and really nice! He hosts The Side Hustle Show: Business Ideas for Part-Time Entrepreneurs--a podcast  that delivers the kind of info I love: Real-life examples of the creative ways people from all walks of life are using their skills and talents to launch part-time (and even full-time) entrepreneurial ventures.

For the first post of my new blog series--​Smart Conversations about Smart Writing--I knew I wanted to talk with Nick about why writing well is such an important part of building successful businesses. One reason is because he's interviewed SO many entrepreneurs and has heard their stories about how they're promoting themselves, creating courses, writing books, etc. The other reason is that I wanted to hear how he views writing when it comes to building his own business.

In the infographic below, you can read about our conversation and also learn about a smart writing hack Nick uses to create headlines. (He's really good at writing headlines, so you don't want to miss it!) Additionally, he recommended the following episodes of his podcasts for those of you who are interested in hearing how others are earning money with their writing skills:

Dave Chesson: Amazon Ranking Secrets for Books and Physical Products from an SEO Pro​

Lise Cartwright: Earning $3000-$4000 per Month on Kindle in Just Six Months as a "Professional" Author

Nick Stephenson: Permafree on Amazon: How and Why to Give Your Book Away​

Rob Cubbon: The Path to $5k a Month Passive Income Sharing What You Already Know

There's TONS of great info in these podcasts. So I encourage you to listen to them and take notes! Nick also provides fantastic show notes for each of his podcasts that summarize what was discussed and that provide links to websites, books, resources, etc. mentioned during the interview.

Now--on to MY interview with NICK!

Like this infographic? Download a PDF copy of it here. And if you like this kind of information about smarter writing, join The Smarter Writing Lab Community here!

It’s ALWAYS About YOU!!

"This is what I want to do."

"I don't care what you need. I need THIS."

"Just be quiet and listen to me." 

If you've ever been in a relationship that centered around the other person, some of this might sound all too familiar. And--it's probably not TOO much of a stretch to guess that you might have said this one or two times:

"Why is it ALWAYS about YOU?" What about ME? Don't I matter?

When a relationship is (or at least appears to be) one-sided, it doesn't feel good, does it? It doesn't make you feel close to the other person. It doesn't make you want to do anything for them. It doesn't make you miss them when they're not around. And it surely doesn't make you want to stay with them. 

What does any of this have to do with being an entrepreneur?  More than you might think.

If your business is coming off to potential customers as being all about you, then why in the world would they want to pick you over one of your competitors that's all about them? Again, think about relationships. Who are you going to be more attracted to? The person who's always wanting the focus to be on them? Or the person who's genuinely and consistently interested in your needs and finding ways to fulfill them? It's a no-brainer, right?

So, how do you know if your business is coming off as being self-absorbed? Here are three simple red flags to look for:

  • Your website copy includes a lot of sentences starting with "We" or "I".
  • You talk about features of your offerings instead of benefits.
  • You use language in your marketing copy that's full of industry jargon instead of communicating in a way that potential customers will understand and relate to.

If you find one or more of these red flags, here are three simple things you can do to make your potential customers swoon:

  • Be "YOU"-focused when writing your promotional copy--including what's on your website. Start more sentences that put the customer first--such as "You work really hard to make sure your kids have what they need." Or "Have you ever wondered what it would be like to not worry about money?" By doing this, you're acknowledging the pain points of your potential customers and, in turn, they see that you really "get" them.
  • Talk about benefits more than features. Who cares if you offer freelance design services? What does that mean for the customer? Tell them how you're going to make their life better with the services you offer. Maybe it's that you make the design experience fun for them. Or that the design work you do will set their business apart from the competition and increase their sales. Whatever those benefits are, COMMUNICATE ABOUT THEM TO POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS !
  • Write copy like your potential customers talk. When you use industry jargon or other complicated language, you lose a chance to connect with your audience. Communicate with potential customers in ways that they can relate to. Do that and you'll win fans along the way.

No matter what business you're in, you've got competitors out there who are trying to look better in the eyes of potential customers. By simply changing the focus of how you communicate, you can stand out--BIG TIME. So, get out there and prove to everyone what a great catch you are by putting the needs and interests of your current and potential customers front and center!

Like this post? Be sure to check out similar cool stuff at The Page-Turner Mission, where we help wannapreneurs turn the page to being entrepreneurs! We can also take a look at your website or other marketing materials to make sure you're focusing on your potential customers in a way that connects. Send an email to Michele@smarterwritinglab.com to get the details.

The 10 Commandments of Client Relationships for Freelance Writers

Client Relationships for Freelance Copywriters

The following is a chapter from my first book in the The Lunch Hour Master Class Series(TM)–The Quick Start Guide to Making a (GREAT) Living as a Freelance Copywriter: The Information You Need to Get Up and Earning FAST!


Establishing a client relationship is only the first step. Building it and maintaining it over time is where the real work–and rewards–come in. How do you do that? Follow the 10 Commandments of Client Relationships. Now, to be clear, they did NOT come down on stone tablets from a mountaintop. But they are things I’ve learned over the years that have helped me build lasting relationships with clients who are good for my business and good for my soul:

  1. Really take the time to get to know your clients business. Study it. Fall in love with it. Ask for a factory tour. Ask to meet with their customers. Get to know it better than anyone else–including your client.
  1. Develop a very clear understanding of what your client is looking for. Ask for a creative brief that includes project objectives, messaging points, must haves, etc. And it needs to be signed off on by client. Also, be sure you fully understand what you’re being asked to deliver. If you don’t–ASK.
  1. Find out how success of the project will be defined–and by whom. Will it be defined by a specific person? If so, will you have access to that person? Will be defined by a committee? If so, what’s the process for that? In order to achieve success, you need to know what it looks like from your client’s perspective.
  1. Be sure to manage a client’s expectations from Day 1. Be clear about what you can do, when you can deliver, how many rounds of changes, your rates, etc. By doing so, everybody knows what to expect from each other—and that can avoid a lot of frustration in the long run.
  1. Get your fee agreement in writing. This helps protect both you and your client. They know how much they’ll be paying and you know what’s expected in return for your fee.
  1. Present your work with confidence–and in person whenever possible. Don’t be apologetic about it. If you don’t feel like your copy is great–then don’t present it. Only present your best work that provides the best solution. Remember–YOU are the champion of your work. So present it confidently. Doesn’t mean client will always love it or that changes won’t be needed. But it can go a long way in helping clients have confidence in you and your work.
  1. Don’t get defensive when clients ask for changes. As long as changes are reasonable–make them. If directions are shifted–you might need to renegotiate your fee.
  1. Deliver what you promise when you promise. No excuses. Don’t make your problems your client’s problems. Find a way to deliver.
  1. Be easy to work with. This goes far in terms of getting repeat work. If you’re talented, listen well, and are easy to work with—you’ll get called back for more work over and over.
  1. Always be providing value. Help clients think about things in a different way. Do simple things, like sharing articles of interest with them without asking for work. They’ll begin to see you not just as someone they’re outsourcing work to–but as a valued partner.

Want to learn more about how to become a freelance copywriter? Great! Here are two things you can do right now:

  1. (Shameless Plug #1): Purchase The Quick Start Guide to Making a (GREAT) Living as a Freelance Copywriter: The Information You Need to Get Up and Earning FAST! on Amazon.
  2. (Shameless Plug #2): Join us over at The Page Turner Mission and pick up your free copy of The 5-Minute Copywriting Class

How Much Copy Should Go on Your Home Page?

It can be hard determining how much copy to put on your business website’s home page. Should you put a lot? Or will that turn people off? Should you just put a little bit? Or will that not give site visitors enough info to make a decision? This fantastic (and well-researched) infographic by Neil Patel at QuickSprout will help you answer those questions.


How Much Copy Should You Write on Your Homepage?
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

You Might Be Busy. But Are You Productive?

Ever wonder if you might be getting “busy” mixed up with being “productive”? WAIT! Before you answer, take a look at this video by Bright Side.


Posted by Bright Side on Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Perfect Anatomy of a Modern Web Writer

Wondering what it takes to become a really great web writer? This AWESOME infographic from Copyblogger breaks it all down. Great stuff!

The Perfect Anatomy of a Modern Web Writer [Infographic]

Like this infographic? Get more content marketing advice that works from Copyblogger.