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!

* indicates required



Extraordinary Movie DVD Giveaway

Here’s what to expect in the Extraordinary movie: The seemingly endless road beckons. Well beyond exhausted, his body trudges onward—quitting is never an option. Aiming toward the finish line of another transcontinental race, he senses his prize this time is much greater than any medal or honour. Every step leads him closer to home.

Extraordinary Movie DVD Giveaway

I know this looks like a movie about a guy running across the United States. And it is. But it’s also about that guy’s wife. What happens to the family when an ultra-marathoner goes on a months-long race? How do they cope? What happens to their normal? It’s an interesting question.

Although I haven’t seen a running movie before, this was not what I expected. There was a lot of heart. There was the core relationship story between a husband and a wife but there were others at play too—between father and child, teacher and student, runner and runner, and man and God.

Throughout the film I often wondered where the title Extraordinary came from. My first guess was the run itself, but—and I won’t spoil it for you—it’s so much more than just a race. Where Extraordinary comes from, is worth the watch.

Extraordinary releases on DVD and digital January 16, 2018 from Universal Entertainment.

Enter to win your own copy of Extraordinary Movie on DVD and digital

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We’re going to make this fun and easy.

You can subscribe to my mailing list, leave a blog comment (on this post), and Tweet about it. All of those get you five entries and you can do them all or just one. The giveaway is open from today (January 9, 2018) until release day, January 16, 2018.

So why not enter? What have you got to lose?

Extraordinary Movie Synopsis

Based on the real-life events of acclaimed ultra-marathoner David Horton and his wife Nancy, Extraordinary is coming to DVD, Digital and On Demand on January 16, 2018, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. An impactful and perfect story for the entire family, the inspirational film stars Shari Rigby (October Baby), Leland Klassen (Altar Egos), Karen Abercrombie (War Room) and Kirk Cameron (Fireproof) and follows Horton as his dream of tackling a nearly 3,000-mile run takes its toll on his body, and brings his marriage to the breaking point.

Based on a true marriage journey, Extraordinary tells the amazing story of ultra-marathon runner and college professor David Horton, his wife, Nancy, and their attempt to finish their marriage race well. Although proud of his incredible athletic accomplishments and the impact he has on his students, David’s family continuously pays a high price for his years of competitive running. Following his open-heart surgery and irreparable damage to his knees, Nancy is ready for Dave to hang up his racing shoes for good and focus his boundless energy on their family. Instead, feeling called by God to “inspire people one last time,” Dave sets off for a 2,900-mile race across America.

Extraordinary Movie DVD and digital bonus features

  • The David Horton Story
  • The Extraordinary Woman Featurette
  • Filmmakers of Extraordinary
  • Keys to an Extraordinary Marriage

Based on a true marriage journey, Extraordinary tells the amazing story of ultra-marathon runner and college professor David Horton, his wife, Nancy, and their attempt to finish their marriage race well. Although proud of his incredible athletic accomplishments and the impact he has on his students, David’s family continuously pays a high price for his years of competitive running. Following his open-heart surgery and irreparable damage to his knees, Nancy is ready for Dave to hang up his racing shoes for good and focus his boundless energy on their family. Instead, feeling called by God to “inspire people one last time,” Dave sets off for a 2,900-mile race across America.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

What is a Flat Lay and How to Style One

What is a flat lay? I hear this all the time and up until a few months ago it was me asking the Internet. Here’s the quick answer: it’s a photograph shot from above, flat.

What is a flat lay and how to style one for Instagram

Although this term is kind of sort of new (the earliest reference I can find is 2015) the style is not. It just went by different names.

Other names for flat lay

  • Flatlay (OK, that’s just a different spelling)
  • Collage
  • Bird’s-eye view
  • Top shot
  • God’s-eye view
  • Knolling (from the 80s, and the original flat lay)

If you’re styling your photo using a light background, natural light, and shooting it from above…then you already know what a flay lay photo is. You just didn’t have the vocabulary.

So. That was easy. Now what?

What is a flat lay? It's when you take a photo from above, parallel to the styled objects you're shooting. It's a great way to do #bookstagrams and showcase your products in an interesting and engaging light. Try different props, backgrounds, and textures to tell a story and involve your audience.

Now you have to figure out what you’re going to take photos of. When figuring out what you want to showcase you also need to think about why. Why are you showing this to your audience? What makes it special? Why do you want them to see it? Whatever product or prop you land on, this becomes your “hero” or the focus of your composition.

But let’s break the flat lay down a bit using a personal example

I love taking flay lay photos of books and movies because it makes them so much more interesting. The book or movie is the hero—none of the props should take attention away from the hero!—and everything else adds to the story.

If you look at the above examples, you can see I’ve achieved the storytelling angle better in some than others using props, background, and composition. The more flat lays you do, the better you get at them (trust me). I shot these over a period of months using different techniques, camera angles, and lighting.

What is a flat lay? The simple answer is a photo taken from above. It used to be called knolling or bird's-eye view (borrowing from magazines and movies). Now it's used on Instagram and blgos to showcase products in an organized, clean, and engaging way. Showing knitting as a flat lay is a popular way to make your products stand out from the rest.

I also wanted to include my knitting flat lays so you can see a more minimalist approach. I shot these all on the same day using similar props and the same background. I did this because I wanted a consistent look on my Instagram feed while showcasing my hand knit products.

Here are a few tips for styling and shooting flat lays

Use a light background. In most cases, a piece of cardboard or a sheet will work great. A flat surface is ideal.

Try and style your flat lay. This can be difficult if you’re not artistic or confident with what looks good. Here are a few questions to ask as you style: Is my hero product the focus? Do I like this composition? What will make this more interesting? What will my audience like? Take a few shots and then re-style your flat lay and take a few more shots. The more you tweak the better you’ll get at it.

If possible, use natural lighting. After MUCH trial and error I found a window in my house that lets in a consistent amount of natural light from day to day. I created a nice little setup with a card table by the window so I can take advantage of the great light.

Try to be parallel to your flat lay when shooting. This is where things get interesting. You’ll need to be above the shot in order to get it right. Try a stool, chair, step ladder, or whatever you need to get in the correct position. I use a combination of a chair and a tripod but I’m always trying to get my shots more parallel.

Remember to take lots of photos and to move your flat lay composition around a bit so when you get to the photo editing you have a few options. This may take a while at first but you will get better, I promise! If I can figure it out…then you’ll be just fine.

What is a flat lay? It is when you take a photo from above, parallel to the styled objects you are shooting. It is a great way to showcase your products in an interesting and engaging light. Try different props, backgrounds, and textures to tell a story and involve your audience.


More social media tricks and tips

Check out these posts on the blogging prompt “light”

How to Create a Social Media Portfolio

Portfolios. In general I understand them—a collection of your work assembled to demonstrate your experience and expertise in an area. But I’ve struggled with social media and figuring out how to create a social media portfolio. Because although it’s my work it’s not for me. Most of my social media experience is creating content and strategies for other people or brands. It’s like ghostwriting. It’s ghostsocialing. (I sure hope that’s a hashtag.) My mission is to figure out how to present my social media portfolio in a way that demonstrates my experience and expertise but doesn’t break client confidentiality.

How to Create a Social Media Portfolio

As I searched the Internet I didn’t find a lot. Most how-to create a portfolio advice is for writing clips, marketing, or how to display your personal social media stats. All of this is good and useful, but off topic. And I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because it’s a tricky balance. So I started asking writing friends how they add ghostwriting credits to their portfolio. Short answer, they don’t. They leave it out and just refer to “ghostwriting services” or “x amount of books/blogs ghostwritten for x amount of clients.” Vague but what else can you do?

But I want to do more for my social media portfolio.

The golden rule when you create a social media portfolio: show don’t tell

You know you need to do it in your writing but it also is important in your portfolios. But how do you show (or even create a social media portfolio) when your clients don’t love the idea of admitting they don’t run their own accounts? Or what if you did strategy work with a client, how do you display that? And what if you worked with a client at one point and their feed looked amazing but now they manage their own and it isn’t so awesome? How do you show that?

Here are my best three ideas for building an awesome social media portfolio

First, showcase the services you offer

The best social media portfolio’s I’ve seen break the services down into bite-sized pieces.
Create a social media portfolio by starting with your services and expertise.

Here are a few tips for creating this section of your social media portfolio.

  • Images are your friend. Find generic stock images representing the services you offer and the types of clients you serve
  • Highlight the services you offer
  • Make it interesting

You can expand on and explain the services you offer, or not. It depends on your target client and what will speak to him/her.

Second, list your clients

Gulp.

I know, we’ve been talking about the situation where you can’t name your clients or you aren’t sure how to talk about them. We’ll just do our best here.

Remember how you listed your services a few minutes ago? These are now our categories for organizing our clients. So, in my case it’s Consulting, Social Media, Blogging, and Platform Strategy. Divide your clients into categories (they can be in more than one) and make them look pretty.

If you can’t name your client then describe them. You can list them as a Wellness Company in Vancouver, BC for example. If you can’t show their logo or brand then find a nice stock image that represents the type of business they are. Now list how you worked with them according to your categories. Bing, bang, boom.

When you create a social media portfolio you can't always showcase your clients. If you can't, find an image representing their brand/business and describe how you served them.

Here are a few tips for creating this section of your social media portfolio.

  • Describe the types of clients you’ve worked with and the types of services you provided
  • Include links to client websites if you can
  • Include client testimonials where you can

In my mock-up example I haven’t expanded to this point but you can see how more is more here. However, if you can’t say more due to client confidentiality then a beautiful image and a short description of the work you did will suffice.

Third, make sure your personal social media profiles are optimized

I’m listing this third but your social media profiles are the first and best part of your social media portfolio. You don’t need them optimized to create a social media portfolio, but this is where many of your future clients will find you for the first time. You want to make a positive, memorable impression here. Wherever they find you.

I’ve outlined how to optimize your social media profiles before but here are the highlights.

  • Choose a professional/standout profile picture and cover photo
  • Make it easy for people to know who you are/what you do
  • Link to your website
  • Include keywords about your services
  • Be clear on your location/contact info

A few other things to consider when you create a social media portfolio

  • Think about what you want to be hired for. Is it social media management? What about content creation, content curation, platform development, strategy, etc. Curate your portfolio to display that—you don’t need to list EVERY client or every freelance job you’ve ever performed (I mean, you can, but put some thought into it)
  • Things to cover: who you are (about), your mission, what you do, and who you serve (aka who you want to work with)
  • Is there an area you’d like more work in? Highlight this throughout your services, experience, expertise, and even which clients you mention

Portfolios. In general I understand them—a collection of your work assembled to demonstrate your experience and expertise in an area. But I've struggled with social media and figuring out how to create a social media portfolio. Because although it's <em>my</em> work it's not <em>for</em> me. Most of my social media experience is creating content and strategies for other people or brands. It's like ghostwriting. It's ghostsocialing. (I sure hope that's a hashtag.) My mission is to figure out how to present my social media portfolio in a way that demonstrates my experience and expertise but doesn't break client confidentiality.

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!