WordCamp Albuquerque 2016 talk: Marketing Your Business With WordPress

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Thanks so much to everyone who attended my WordCamp Albuquerque presentation this morning on Marketing Your Business with WordPress! If you’d like to see the rest of the presentation, or just want a copy of the slides, here’s the original Keynote:

Marketing Your Business With WordPress

And if you’re more of a PDF person, I’ve got you covered:

Marketing Your Business with WordPress – WC ABQ – April 2016

Wine Tourism Conference Presentation

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If you’re visiting my site after attending my presentation on Designing Websites for 2016 and Beyond, thank you and welcome!

If you would like to download a copy of my Keynote, here you go:

Wine Tourism Conference 2015 Presentation

If you’re more of a PowerPoint aficionado, I’ve got you covered:

Wine Tourism Conference 2015 Presentation

And lastly, if PDFs are more your thing, I’ve got that too:

Wine Tourism Conference 2015 Presentation

It was lovely meeting everyone and sharing stories over such wonderful wines and food!

 

Beware the "writing sample"

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I love — absolutely love — when I respond to a dodgy-looking job posting from some anonymous “Web marketing company” trolling for writers, and I get an email requesting the same information that they could have gotten off my Web site and/or attached resume. Oh, and of course they have the audacity to demand a “500-600 word sample article” about some broad subject that cannot have been published elsewhere, either online or in print. They claim that they have too many people applying for the position, so in order to winnow out the “legitimate” writers from the wanna-bes, they decided to ask everyone to submit a brand-spankin’ new article made just to their specs.

In other words, out of, say, 200 applicants, they could conceivably get 200 articles written for free, without having to hire a single one of them.

Yeah. Clever boys.

Why do I bother responding to these posts anyway? Well, many of them are actually written fairly persuasively, with enough detail to make you think that it’s a real site. Indeed, it may actually be a real site, but it may also be an article directory that’s run by some guy in his basement in Norway. It’s difficult to tell sometimes, although I stay away from job postings (especially those on Craigslist) that don’t at least include details on types of articles requested, word count, deadlines, and payment. If it simply says: I need a really good writer to submit lots of blog posts. Email with sample clips and payment requirements, well, I generally don’t waste my time on it. I’ve had some luck with getting one-off assignments from these vague posts, but generally they’re not worth my time or effort chasing them down. It takes me an average of about 5 minutes to put together an electronic package that includes my resume and an introductory letter that links to my Web site and online portfolio, but multiply that by even just 10 job postings, and I could spend an entire hour just sending out applications that end up in someone’s Junk Mail box.

No, thank you.

So lately I’ve been limiting my applications to 2-3 a day, with each intro letter tailored to the individual job posting. That doesn’t include traditional query letters to established publications and sites, of course, which can take more than a few hours each, depending on the complexity of the subject I’m proposing to write about. Even with that relatively limited output, I still get the occasional request for a comprehensive “writing sample,” but unless I get more detail and the sample is short and doesn’t require much research (if any), I generally decline with a note basically saying that I don’t write for free.

Beware the "writing sample"

Standard

I love — absolutely love — when I respond to a dodgy-looking job posting from some anonymous “Web marketing company” trolling for writers, and I get an email requesting the same information that they could have gotten off my Web site and/or attached resume. Oh, and of course they have the audacity to demand a “500-600 word sample article” about some broad subject that cannot have been published elsewhere, either online or in print. They claim that they have too many people applying for the position, so in order to winnow out the “legitimate” writers from the wanna-bes, they decided to ask everyone to submit a brand-spankin’ new article made just to their specs.

In other words, out of, say, 200 applicants, they could conceivably get 200 articles written for free, without having to hire a single one of them.

Yeah. Clever boys.

Why do I bother responding to these posts anyway? Well, many of them are actually written fairly persuasively, with enough detail to make you think that it’s a real site. Indeed, it may actually be a real site, but it may also be an article directory that’s run by some guy in his basement in Norway. It’s difficult to tell sometimes, although I stay away from job postings (especially those on Craigslist) that don’t at least include details on types of articles requested, word count, deadlines, and payment. If it simply says: I need a really good writer to submit lots of blog posts. Email with sample clips and payment requirements, well, I generally don’t waste my time on it. I’ve had some luck with getting one-off assignments from these vague posts, but generally they’re not worth my time or effort chasing them down. It takes me an average of about 5 minutes to put together an electronic package that includes my resume and an introductory letter that links to my Web site and online portfolio, but multiply that by even just 10 job postings, and I could spend an entire hour just sending out applications that end up in someone’s Junk Mail box.

No, thank you.

So lately I’ve been limiting my applications to 2-3 a day, with each intro letter tailored to the individual job posting. That doesn’t include traditional query letters to established publications and sites, of course, which can take more than a few hours each, depending on the complexity of the subject I’m proposing to write about. Even with that relatively limited output, I still get the occasional request for a comprehensive “writing sample,” but unless I get more detail and the sample is short and doesn’t require much research (if any), I generally decline with a note basically saying that I don’t write for free.

Get out and network!

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Here’s a mystery: People who’ve known me for years still harbor this notion that I have an outgoing personality. What they don’t realize is that I actively have to work to be this extroverted. Back in my fundraising days, when I’d attend numerous events both as co-host and planner, I’d have to psyche myself up for each event, imagining myself as someone else, someone whose commanding presence I admired and whom I could channel in my interactions with people. (I’d usually think of Condi Rice, Hillary Clinton, and even Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.) The events almost always involved total strangers, and really wealthy, influential people at that, so I really had to turn on the Other Personality to get through the evening. By the end of the night, I’d be so exhausted that I’d spend the rest of the weekend just holed up in my house, recovering from the whole tiresome affair. It would take me at least two days to gain back the energy.

Writing would seem to be the perfect career for me, then, as it allows me to interact with one thing and one thing only: my laptop. And I do love it, tapping away in the comfort of my own little corner of my home office, chatting with anonymous strangers through Plurk or Twitter or my blogs at my leisure. I’m a much more outgoing person via text than I ever was verbally, so this profession suits me.

Still, freelance writing is a different animal. I know that the great Jenna Glatzer began her successful career as a freelance writer and author because she suffered from severe agoraphobia and couldn’t bear the leave the house. So yeah, it can be done exclusively from the home. But the vast majority of us who toil away at four- or low-five-figure incomes and who want to increase those numbers must occasionally make the effort to market ourselves, especially if we want to exploit the higher fees that business and commercial copywriters can command.

Local small businesses are great prospects for copywriting services. They typically don’t have the resources to support dedicated in-house marketing people, but the really savvy ones know that they can’t survive without some kind of regular public relations campaign to raise awareness about their presence in the community and to attract customers.

How do you start that conversation with them, though? There are lots of things that successful freelancers have done to drum up businesses, gain clients and nab both short-term and long-term assignments:

  • I’ve heard of several freelancers who’ve taken the initiative of opening the Yellow Pages and just cold-calling local businesses, offering their services and asking for appointments. Many have found great success this way. I haven’t tried it myself and probably never will, but if you’re the gregarious type and don’t mind spending an hour or so a day going through the listings, this could be a good option for you. Make sure that you follow up immediately after each successful call. Send a thank-you note as well as your business card and a brochure of your services. If someone is interested, don’t hang up without setting a definite appointment to meet them at their offices.
  • Attend local business conferences and networking events. I’ve made it a point to go to at least two meetings a month, both of them involving local businesswomen and entrepreneurs. Some freelancers schedule them one or more times a week. Do what feels comfortable to you and your budget (as many of these meetings, which typically are held during a mealtime, charge a fee to cover the cost of the location and the food). Bring lots of business cards and aim to distribute a minimum of them each time. Don’t leave without making at least one friend at the meeting, and follow up again with a note or email letting them know how much you enjoyed getting to know them.
  • Volunteer. You don’t have to volunteer your writing services, and in some cases it might be better that you don’t as you may end up doing more work than you had originally anticipated. Grantwriting, for example, involves more than just whipping out a one-page letter asking for money. (See my article in Writers’ Weekly on how to become a grant writer.) You could volunteer to serve on a committee planning an event, answering phone calls or doing light administrative work a couple of hours a week at the office. It’s a win-win: you contribute to a great cause that you believe in, get to know the staff of the nonprofit and learn how charities work, and can meet like-minded individuals (volunteer and staff) who might think of you the next time they need to hire a freelancer. (I once was offered a job as a full-time grant writer for a major local nonprofit in Dallas after volunteering with them. I turned it down for unrelated reasons, but it does illustrate how powerful networking can be.)

None of these things need take up too much of your precious writing time, and you get the added benefit of having the chance to occasionally get out of the house and beat cabin fever! Even if you’re not entirely comfortable walking into a room full of strangers (as is often the case when I attend a local professional event for the first time), chances are there will be at least one other person there who shares your trepidation and is new to the event as well. Seek them out and chat up with them. It’s much easier than approaching a group of people already chatting with each other. And chances are, you won’t regret the experience. Not only will it become easier to get to know other people as you expand your comfort zone and meet other people, you have more opportunities to make genuine friends.

Plurk plurk plurk (I just like to hear the word in my head)

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I was using Twitter for awhile but not really getting into it much. Like a lot of people who make their first foray into that micro-blogging service, I wasn’t really sure how to use it. I used to have one Twitter on my RSS feed reader who was really good at it, but then he traveled constantly, had presentations about fascinating tech stuff like software developments, and knew lots of interesting people in his field, people whose names even I recognized. So he made for some very good Tweeting.

Me? I’m an unknown freelance writer who mostly works from home and considers herself lucky if she could travel overseas at least once a year. At least my Dallas trips have some cool shopping reports.

PLURKING

Anyway, I’ve recently found Plurk, the great blogger and artist Shai Coggins having first introduced me to it. B. laughs at the name, and yes, the name is pretty weird, not to mention the logo. (I mean, what the hell is that? An elephant with its head chopped off and a bone sticking through it? Creeeeepy.) Still, it’s so much more fun and interactive than Twitter, as you have all your friends hanging out on the same open space, and you can watch the conversations all at once rather than having to scroll down to catch older ones.

Also, it’s easier (to me, anyway) to find new friends on Plurk, as you can check out conversations your current friends have with their friends and decide if they’re people you want to get to know as well. It can be hard to find new friends on Twitter, not just because of the sheer number of people using it but also because of the awkward interface.

TWITTER’S LOSSES, PLURK’S GAINS

Oh, and did I mention that Twitter’s rapid growth has resulted in some pretty frequent slowdowns and service interruptions? At one point their Replies function was shut down entirely for days on end, which resulted in quite a few Twitter folks writing angry posts on their respective blogs about abandoning Twitter entirely and finding a more robust service. Several times a day I’ll also try and post something on Twitter, only to get an Oops! page letting me know that heavy usage at that moment won’t allow me to update and that I should try again shortly. Yeah, right. I have that much time to twiddle my thumbs while I wait for Twitter to get its act together.

So if you’re interested in checking out this new, real-time social networking medium, now’s the time to do it. Play around and see how many friends you can find in this small community. You can find my Plurk widget on the right hand side of this page, and you can see the kind of stuff people like to post. And feel free to visit my profile and add me on as a friend. Would love to see you there!

USING MICRO-BLOGGING FOR PROMOTION & MARKETING

Lots of bloggers (Darren Rowse comes to mind) use these micro-blogging media as a means to promote their blogs and products, network with like-minded souls, and just hang out while taking a break from their jobs. The nature of the medium (maximum of 140 characters — not words — means that you can carry on quick, casual conversations without worrying about it taking up too much of your time. (Although I warn you that Plurk can be very addictive, even more so than Twitter.) If you’re a writer always on the lookout for ways to promote your work, your latest novel or e-Book or consulting services, this might be a good, easy option.

If, for example, you wrote a book about phobias, you can poll fellow Plurkers about their individual fears or phobias or ways that they’ve dealt with them. You can link to your blog posts about the subject, although I strongly recommend against using Plurk to do nothing but link to your blog. Otherwise, people will see through your blatant marketing push and ignore you. After all, this is supposed to be about building community, not a marketplace.

Include your Plurk widget on your blog or Web site so that visitors can check out your profile and add you on as a friend. You can begin to build your audience for your book or writing services, not to mention a community whom you can engage on the subjects you know best.

Again, though, Plurk can be terribly addictive, which can only mean one thing for working writers: time away from your writing. Still, it’s a great way to chat with friends and find out what’s going on in their day or in their part of the world without taking too much time out of your schedule.