How to Write an Elevator Pitch

Elevator speech. Elevator statement. Elevator pitch.

Why are we on an elevator all the time? The phrase came from the idea you need to figure out a way to explain what you do, who you serve, and what makes you different in the time it would take to ride an elevator. It’s a short, compelling sales pitch. So, how do you write an elevator pitch?

how to write an elevator pitch

We know how our writing can help others but our potential clients don’t. If they understood the writing craft then they probably wouldn’t need a writer. It’s a classic conundrum. We can get so wrapped up in our writing world we forget that those not in our world don’t understand what we do or why it matters. It’s our job to educate them. This is where the elevator pitch comes in.

I know, how can you explain all the facets of your writing business in a way that both makes sense and persuades someone to hire you? How can you craft a pitch that not only positions you as an expert but convinces the listener you’re the right person to deliver the solution he or she wants? (Yes, this is the hard part.)

Telling people “I’m a writer,” is great but it’s vague. What do you write? How do you make money? Who reads what you write? See what I mean? Think about what you do and then think about explaining it to someone who has no clue about your industry—maybe your grandmother or someone in an unrelated field. How would you describe the service you provide?

Break it down

Before we write the pitch let’s answer these questions:

  • Who do you help (in an ideal world)
  • What problem are you solving
  • What is your solution?

Who do you help?

When I first went through this process I realized I couldn’t be a generalist and “help everyone with their writing stuff.” I needed to zero in on an audience/group. It took some soul searching, but I recognized I had a passion for helping new/emerging writers learn how to make money from their writing and helping established writers market themselves. Yeah, I know. Specific. Scary stuff, right?

Except it’s not scary. It doesn’t mean I can’t help non-writers with writing (I do it all the time), it just means I have an ideal client who I focus on the most.

In the end I found the easiest way to write an elevator pitch was by filling in the blank. Here are two formulas I found helpful.

How to write an elevator pitch example ONE

The biggest problem my audience has is _________________ and I can solve this problem by (showing them, giving them, etc.) ___________________, which will allow them to ________________ and that really speaks to their desire to ________________.

I found this over on Zach Spuckler’s site in a freebie called Your First Course Playbook. I have no idea if it’s still kicking around but I thought it was a good exercise.

How to write an elevator pitch example TWO

I help _________________ (target population) with/gain/develop _________________ (problem) by delivering _________________ (your solution).

This is from a six-week coaching program I did last summer called Simplify Your Social Media and Spark Your Sales. It isn’t being offered anymore but if it ever is again I will let you know. I LOVED every second of it and ran through it a few times after the initial course. I like how simple this sentence is and I found I could narrow my gaze enough to commit to an elevator pitch.

Elevator speech. Elevator statement. Elevator pitch. Why are we on an elevator all the time? The phrase came from the idea you need to figure out a way to explain what you do, who you serve, and what makes you different in the time it would take to ride an elevator. It's a short, compelling sales pitch. So, how do you write an elevator pitch?

OK, so that’s how you write an elevator pitch. Want to take things to the next level? Here are five tips for optimizing your social media profiles. Better yet, you can have it as a free PDF download. Just fill in the form below!

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Robyn Roste | Blogging Year in Review

This last year I approached blogging in a new way, even though this blog is not new. So I wanted to do a little blogging year in review in order to capture my progress as well as set public goals for 2018.

Robyn Roste | blogging year in review

My blogging journey (if you’ll indulge me) has gone from online journal to travelogue to lifestyle blog to what it is now…somewhat less random and hopefully helpful insights into content marketing for freelance writers. Or, at least, that’s the direction I’m trying to point everything.

Hence the new approach.

While I am strolling down memory lane for a moment I don’t want this to be too self-serving. I want to do a quick overview of what I did and why, how it worked, and what I will do moving into 2018.

Robyn Roste Blogging Year in Review

Before the official review I’ll give you some context. For 10 weeks in the summer of 2016 I took a blogging course from Fizzle called Start a Blog that Matters. Now, we already know my blog isn’t new. But I was stuck. I’ve been on a meandering journey for many years and have never known where my blog was going (if anywhere). Was it for fun? Did it have a career purpose? What did I want it to be? I needed a fresh start. So I took this course and dreamed of creating something that matters. From the dreaming, brainstorming, and research I came out with a couple directions I could go: keep the blog casual and let it peter out like so many other lifestyle blogs I see getting retired (a fine decision btw, no judgment) or plot out a course and give my blog a vision and purpose.

The decision

It wasn’t an easy decision to be honest. First, because it’s hard to put yourself out there. You worry about so many things like what if you have nothing to say, what if people don’t like you, what if people don’t even notice you, what if it doesn’t work out and you just waste your time, etc. Second, because it’s hard work. And I’m pretty busy. I have my regular day job, I have my freelance writing and marketing clients, and I have all my other activities and hobbies plus boring things like housework and trying to have a social life. So I had to decide if this was important enough to me to put time and effort into even if it didn’t go anywhere.

I pondered this for a while. A few months. And then in January 2017, I went for it. I built a content calendar, a publishing schedule, set goals, and committed to give it a shot.

Blogging Year in Review: Goal 1—Post once per week

Through the blogging course I learned the importance of setting goals within your control. Publishing a blog once per week is something I can control so it’s a good goal. Increasing my traffic by 1,000 per cent is not something I can control so it is not a good goal.

How did it go?

Before I had a plan and a system I thought this would be difficult but it turns out when you have everything plotted out ahead of time, most of the guesswork disappears and you just sit down and write. My goal was to publish once per week and I did that, every Tuesday from January 10 till today, December 26. I also published extra posts here and there when inspired, I think it was to prove to myself I could do it.

Here’s the breakdown

  • 40 posts on content marketing, blogging, and freelance writing
  • 32 posts on book, movie, or product reviews
  • 6 sponsored posts or brand collaborations

The final analysis

Although I focused my content plan on marketing and freelance writing, I allowed for other types of posts as well. I think part of me was nervous about running out of things to say and part of me still can’t let go of the lifestyle blogger in me. But when I see 40 posts on theme, I’m pretty happy.

Blogging Year in Review: Goal 2—Set a regular writing time and stick to it

I’m not a routine person but I’ve learned the importance of routines if you want to do good work on deadline. Talent isn’t enough and inspiration doesn’t strike on command. So unless you don’t need money you have to figure out how to set aside creative idealism and just do the work. I knew there was no way I could achieve my weekly blogging goal unless I got blog writing into my schedule. Otherwise I would melt in stress and make life miserable for everyone around me. I know this because this has happened before, which is why I stepped back from blogging once my freelance career picked up. So how to add it back in…after much pondering I realized I had to get up earlier. So I did. I can’t say it was easy but I can say I decided to do it, did it, and stuck with it. I prioritized morning writing time and it got done. Simple as that.

Blogging Year in Review: Goal 3—Grow email list to 1,000 subscribers

I’m putting this here even though I’ve already explained a goal like this is not a good goal because it’s not in my control. It was something I thought I had to do after going through Jeff Goins’ The Writer’s Roadmap: 12 Steps to Making a Living Writing and I spent a lot of time stressing over it when it wasn’t happening. So I’ll admit it here because I’m thinking some of you also have this type of goal in your mind and are disappointed when you don’t hit your numbers. I can relate.

Here’s how I’m re-framing this goal for 2018

  1. Produce high quality content that will help my target readers
  2. Offer valuable opt-ins to encourage my target readers to sign up for my email list
  3. Write high-quality emails to my readers to make it worth being on my email list
  4. Get my content in front of my target readers as often as possible
  5. Listen to feedback and tweak as necessary

What this looks like is still wanting 1,000 people on my email list, but doing more to earn those email addresses rather than just hoping and wishing they’ll find me and sign up for my list. It means working a bit harder on creating the right offers, making more connections with people who already speak to my ideal readers, and putting myself out there even more. Gah.

Blogging Year in Review: Goal 4—Get an agent

This is by far the scariest goal to admit. Because saying you want to get an agent and then that you have these bigger goals of writing books and, you know, publishing them, when it’s not a sure thing or even an achievable thing means you might not reach your goals. And then everyone will know you failed.

But here I am, telling you the truth. This is what I’m reaching for and what all my work is moving towards. I have my idea, I have my direction, and I’m going to give it my best shot. And if I don’t make it? Well, I guess we’ll see how I feel. Maybe I’ll keep trying, maybe I’ll regroup and make a new plan…it’s difficult to say without knowing where I’ll be at.

How did it go?

I gave myself a goal of coming up with three book ideas by October 2017. This was a strategic date because I also purchased a weekend pass to the Surrey International Writers’ Conference (which was way outside my price comfort zone so I knew it would push me to make the most out of the weekend) and had the chance to pitch my book idea to an agent. And you know what, I did it. I came up with ideas, put together my pitch, and pitched. And I didn’t just pitch to one agent, I pitched to three. And it was hard and scary and amazing. I got a hard no, I got a not right now, and I got a request for a book proposal. So there you go. You can see where my 2018 goal is going, right? Finish that book proposal and get it IN!


Blogging Year in Review—Top 5 Posts of 2017

In case you missed it, in case you’re interested, in case you want to know what other people paid attention to this year

  1. Why I Got Up At 4:30 a.m. for 21 Damn Early Days
  2. I love that this is my top post from 2017 because it was what made all of this work. It was my biggest challenge, my biggest success, and thing thing I’m still most proud of from this year. I prioritized my writing by getting up at a ridiculous hour and have seen the fruit of my efforts. I’m filled to the brim with gratitude for this experience and hope others can have this experience as well.

  3. Exquisitely Imperfect: Choosing Life Unfiltered [new book]
  4. Second on the list is a book I contributed to, which was published in February 2017. I wrote about the publishing experience and hope it gives people some perspective on just how little control you have over the process when it’s not your book but also how exciting and fulfilling it is to see your hard work in print. Such a rush.

  5. Best Gifts for Writers | Gift Guide
  6. I put this together in October to try something I’ve heard a lot of Mom Bloggers do—gift guides. I asked a few writers in my circle what they would like for Christmas and built a list of 32 pretty cool writer-related gift ideas. I thought they were good hints but I will say I didn’t receive a single item on the list from my family for Christmas. So perhaps it hasn’t permeated quite that far yet.

  7. How a Marketing Tweak Re-launched JenniMarie’s Business
  8. This is a case study I wrote after working with photographer JenniMarie on a launch strategy for her last-ditch effort to get her wedding photography business up and running before giving up on the business once and for all. It’s an incredible story and one I think you should read if you doubt the importance (or power) of marketing. You just need the right strategy.

  9. Water Bottle Trends
  10. I LOVE that this is in my top five because I treated it like a throwaway post. It’s a review of a trendy water bottle my husband bought me, which I put on the blog because I found it interesting on a personal level. What I didn’t know was other people would think so too. It went viral on Facebook and I’ve heard from MORE than a few friends that they’ve purchased a similar bottle because of that post. It wasn’t sponsored or connected to an affiliate commission at all so this was all for free. And I’m happy about that, I was trying to connect and am pleased it did just that.

This last year I approached blogging in a new way, even though this blog is not new. So I wanted to do a little blogging year in review in order to capture my progress as well as set public goals for 2018.

So there we go. I hope this blogging year in review demonstrates what a little planning and goal-setting does for your blog. Maybe you’re one step closer to reworking your blog? Or getting it up and running again? Are you up for the challenge?

How to Choose Fonts for Your Website When You’re Not a Designer

Why are fonts such a big deal? I know they are but I don’t “get” it. But I understand, at least, that it does matter. So I’m here to tell you fonts matter and I could try and tell you why but I’d only be plagiarizing because I don’t understand it. Can we just agree they are important and move on to figuring out how to choose fonts when you know they matter but you can’t tell what works and what doesn’t? This is also known as how to choose fonts for your website when you’re not a designer.

How to Choose Fonts for Your Website When You're Not a Designer

OK so let’s just do this. When choosing fonts for your website choose it for readability over anything else. Ugh, no fun right? But think of it this way: website visitors are fickle. If they drop in and have to squint to read your words, they won’t bother. So choose function over form in this case.

But don’t think that means you can’t do something funky—it just needs to be legible.

There are four basic types of fonts.

Serif

These fonts have “feet” at the ends of their letters. These are known as more traditional fonts and it’s argued they’re easier to read in print.

Sans-Serif

These fonts don’t have “feet” at the ends of their letters and it’s argued they’r easier to read on pixel-based screens.

Script

These fonts are easy to recognize: cursive. These are interesting but can be difficult to read on a screen.

Decorative

These fonts are meant to grab attention and are not practical.

When choosing fonts for your website try and stay with serif or sans-serif. Wondering what your options are? Check out Google Fonts. There are tons of options and they’re all web friendly. Pick out something you like in the safe zone and then, if you want, let’s move to the next step.

IF you want a secondary font, then you need to do something called font pairing. I find this part mind boggling, but others seem to understand it. If you know what you’re doing then go for it! But if you’re like me, wondering how to choose fonts for your website when you’re not a designer, stick to the basics. Serifs with other serifs. Sans-serifs with other sans-serifs.

There is an argument for having more than one font—it adds contrast.

Kind of interesting, right?

I have looked all over the Internet for helpful articles on pairing fonts for non-designers. One is for the visual learner—The Art of Combining Fonts, and the other is for ones who want a more scientific approach—Four Techniques for Combining Fonts.

People who are passionate about fonts will tell you they make you feel something and help form your brand personality. So let’s circle back to my original point: fonts are important. They are, trust me. Well, take my word for it. Well, just go with it.

Want to go deeper on branding? Check out Brand Your Blog A Step-by-Step Guide.

Why are fonts such a big deal? I know they are but I don't "get" it. But I understand, at least, that it <em>does</em> matter. So I'm here to tell you fonts matter and I could try and tell you why but I'd only be plagiarizing because I don't understand it. Can we just agree they are important and move on to figuring out how to choose fonts when you know they matter but you can't tell what works and what doesn't. Also known as how to choose fonts for your website when you're not a designer.

What is Distraction-Free Writing and How Can Write! Help?

Over the past couple months I’ve tested Write! App to see if I could adjust to a distraction-free writing with a distraction-free text editor. And by test I should be upfront. I stared at the shortcut on my desktop and thought of reasons why I didn’t need to use it. Because I’m a writer with a writing process and being distracted is integral to my creative process.

Distraction-free writing and why you should consider it

All writers have a process I suppose. But my process (slash super power) seems to turn writing 800-word articles into weeklong exercises if I let it. And often I do. And deep down I know I need help in the form of distraction-free writing software. I don’t want help (I love my process!) but I’m under constant duress deadline and my process doesn’t *get* deadlines.

Because here’s the thing. I’m trying to move the needle forward, trying to go pro-pro. You know, like I’m a professional writer but I am ready for the next level and I have a 10-step plan to get there. (If you’re curious, I’m on step seven and I started at the beginning of the year by getting up at 4:30 a.m. to do the hard work.) In order to reach my goals I have to be more prolific. And to be more prolific? Well, honey, ya need a new process.

best distraction-free writing tools

Distraction-free writing is the minimalist’s approach to getting things done. And I have trouble getting rid of stuff

Distraction-free text editors, also known as distraction-free writing apps, distraction-free writing tools, and professional text editors, have a fancy way of making all the features, badges, notifications, icons, etc. disappear from your computer so all you can do is write.

Scary, I know. Like I said, I came up with some VERY creative reasons why I didn’t need to use distraction-free writing software.

But then I tried it…AND I LOVED EVERYTHING ABOUT IT!

If you want to see my first go (and get in my brain as this is a literal play-by-play of my initial test) check out my Write! App test here.

There are lots of these tools out there, some free, some paid, some hybrid. By my estimations they all do more or less the same thing. Why did I test Write! App? They asked me to (thanks Daniel!). Because I was looking for reasons to hate the tool I combed through the FAQs, features, and blog. All that did was end up teaching me how to use the app and clued me in to how powerful it could be for my writing.

So I stopped stalling and started writing, and it was awesome. Because it’s cloud-based I can use it on whichever computer I feel like (in my house it’s whatever computer has the best relationship with the Internet that day), and I can set up writing sessions with grouped tabs and keep my projects separate. I’m seeing SO many useful applications. My biggest complaint was having to use an exclamation point after Write! because I felt like it made me seem excited about the tool when really it was part of the name…but turns out I’m excited about Write!(!).

Why I need distraction-free writing in my life

Like I said, I’ve got writing goals. And I have two hours per day set aside for achieving them. Yes, that’s significant but it’s not a lot of time. So I need to optimize my time and use it sans distractions. I need this, even though change is scary.


Write! App—The Only Text Editor You Need For Distraction-Free Writing product description

This one is important too. Even if you went to a mountaintop where there is literally nothing else to do but write, there is still the matter of the tool you’re using. Namely, your text editing software. Fancy-pants all-purpose text editing programs are overabundant with features, badges, icons, templates, options, and a ton of other stuff that only takes up screen space and RAM.

To truly immerse yourself in your process, try using a distraction-free text editor like Write! It’s a great solution for any kind of writing from Tweets to short stories to novels. It’s as functional as it is beautiful with a minimalist design and a specialized focus mode for concentrating on one paragraph at a time.

It now even has a publishing feature. In just a few clicks, your writing can be up online for anyone you’d like to see it, whether your editor or your Twitter followers.

Write! is a distraction-free writing text editor for Windows, macOS and Linux. It has a multitude of features that help focus only on what matters.

Over the past couple months I've tested Write! App to see if I could adjust to a distraction-free writing with a distraction-free text editor. And by test I should be upfront. I stared at the shortcut on my desktop and thought of reasons why I didn't need to use it. Because I'm a writer with a writing process and being distracted is integral to my creative process.

Do you have a favourite distraction-free writing tool? Tell me about it. I’ll try it.

How to Write an Outline for Anything

If you’re a writer then perhaps you know the term “pantser.” It was new to me. Pantser is a type of writer—one who writes by the seat of his pants. Right? The other type of writer is an outliner. Now that one’s a bit more familiar to me. In my heart I’m an outliner. I like having a plan and making it come alive. I like knowing where I’m going rather than discovering it along the way. And I don’t believe outlines cut off creativity—which is why I’m advocating for outlines and showing you how to write an outline for anything.

How to Write an Outline

What is an outline?

In case you didn’t have to write an outline in school for some reason, this is a formal way of arranging and developing your ideas. Don’t let the word “formal” trip you up—this isn’t rigid, it can be adjusted at any point in your writing. An outline can be broad strokes of big/main ideas or detailed and in-depth, depending on your approach. There’s no right or wrong way to outline, and it can be added to and changed as you go.

Why write an outline?

I sat in a workshop with author Anne Perry (by the way…you should read her bio, I had no idea when I went to the workshop. Wow!) who has written like 100 books or something in her career. It was a fascinating argument for outlining from a prolific author. Here are the benefits of writing an outline. Keep in mind she’s giving advice for book outlining, but I think it can be applied to any type of writing.

  • You own the plan
  • Outlining helps with plot clarity
  • Outlining gives your story structure
  • Outlining helps the reasons your characters do things make sense
  • You know your character growth/development from the beginning rather than figuring it out as you go
  • Outlining prevents your story from sagging in the middle
  • Outlining cuts down on the amount of rewrites

What’s the purpose of an outline?

An outline helps you organize your project (article/blog post/book/anything) by helping you check how your ideas connect to each other and discover if anything’s missing. No matter how long your writing project is, outlines help you see the big picture.

How to write an outline for anything

If you’ve read anything I have to say about content strategy, you may find this a bit familiar. The bones are the same but you get a bit more meta when you write an outline.

Here are the broad strokes in five steps.

  1. Identify your topic
  2. List your main points
  3. Structure your argument (put your points in order)
  4. Add sub-points (make connections between main points)
  5. Evaluate and adjust as necessary

See? Not so intimidating or limiting. You’re just getting it down on paper and making sure what you have to say makes sense.

A few tips for when you write an outline

Identify your topic. This should be short but still a complete sentence. This will be your anchor throughout the writing process, keeping you on topic.

List your main points. Your main points are the things you want your audience to know after reading your work. All the main points should be a building block towards your thesis.

Structure your argument. This needs to both flow and make sense to your reader. What do they need to understand first? Second? Third? As you get into writing you may need to change the order of your points, this is normal.

Add sub-points. Sub-points go under the main points—makes sense, right? To have a balanced work, the sub-points for each main point should be somewhat equal. If you have seven sub-points for one main point and two for another, it might be time to reconsider your main points as the one with only a couple sub-points may not be a strong enough argument for your overall topic.

Evaluate and adjust as necessary. Read through your outline. Does it flow? Does it make sense? Is it missing anything? Are there gaps in logic? Is there extra stuff?

If you're a writer then perhaps you know the term "pantser." It was new to me. Pantser is a type of writer; one who writes by the seat of his pants. Right? The other type of writer is an outliner. Now that one's a bit more familiar to me. In my heart I'm an outliner. I like having a plan and making it come alive. I like knowing where I'm going rather than discovering it along the way. And I don't believe outlines cut off creativity, which is why I'm advocating for outlines and showing you how to write an outline for anything.

I hope this is clarifying and will help with your next project.

Remember, outlining is your friend!

  • It take the guesswork out of what to write
  • It keeps your project on track with relevant content
  • It sets you on a strategic plan that moves you forward
  • It helps you avoid burning out
  • It keeps your project on topic

Thoughts? More tips? Pantser push back? Let me know!