Building Your Brand as a Freelancer

Building your brand as a freelancer is key in order to both keep clients coming back and bring in new clients. For my freelance business, branding has both brought in more paying work and the kind of writing I love to do.

Building Your Brand as a Freelancer

If you want to read my personal branding story check out Branding Yourself: Choosing a Niche.

From this experience I’ve learned a lot about how branding yourself on your website or blog is good for search engine optimization as well as for attracting your ideal clients. But more than that, branding yourself is important for growing your business in the direction you want it to go.

Branding Yourself: Choosing a Niche

Building your brand as a freelancer

Here are a few ways you can start building your brand as a freelancer right now.

Establish Yourself As An Expert

Positioning yourself as an expert isn’t as intimidating or difficult as it first sounds. You do this by sharing helpful information with your audience. Figure out the questions they’re asking and the problems they’re trying to solve and then provide the answers/solutions. This is a fabulous opportunity to help people take the next step on their journey as well as share your unique knowledge and expertise. Don’t worry too much about sharing free information. You build trust with your audience by helping people and establishing yourself as an expert doesn’t hurt either. People hire people they trust.

Focus On Your Digital Footprint

Whether you’re building a website or setting up your social media profiles for business, make sure your digital presence is easy to discover and communicates clearly. Here’s what a solid digital footprint includes: strong branding, unique personality and clear services. This is also a good time to invest in professional headshots (and don’t feel like you have to stick to stuff corporate—consider lifestyle photos!) and graphics. Think of your various bios and about pages as an opportunity to let your ideal client know how you can help them and why you’re the right choice. Don’t underestimate the power of a great about page!

Create an On-Brand Marketing Strategy

I don’t care if you’re too busy or you just plain hate it, building your brand includes marketing. Unless you love the feast-and-famine cycle of freelancing, that is. Solid content marketing strategies can keep your prospect funnel full all year long. When creating your marketing strategy make sure to build something sustainable otherwise you’ll quit before you start.

Bonus tip: Check out How To Write For Print Media from Ultimate Banners.

Show Off Your Personality

A big part about building your brand is growing your platform. Figure out what makes you stand out in your market and find ways to weave it into your business. Your personality is part of your brand, so be sure to highlight it. The first step is to find your unique voice and which aspects of your personality and experiences are best to convey. Focus on the positive, exciting and engaging aspects of your brand personality.

Building Your Brand? Invest in Relationships

Referrals are a gold mine, which is why networking with other freelancers is so important. Word of mouth is also extremely powerful, so make a point to invest in your relationships. You never know which clients might suggest you to a new anchor client or introduce you an amazing career opportunity. Take time to go the extra mile, giving excellent service and ensuring both your colleagues and clients are taken care of.

Building your brand as a freelancer is key in order to both keep clients coming back and bring in new clients. For my freelance business, branding has both brought in more paying work and the kind of writing I love to do.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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A War and A Wedding by Melissa Service

Let’s say you’re an average teenager who has no time for ancient prophecies like a war and a wedding. If so, then you’re exactly like Ellyce Jensen. It’s pure fiction, quite literally out of a book.

Would you feel the same about the legends when your fantasy-writing father up and disappears, leaving behind cryptic instructions and a dangerous scavenger hunt?

A War and A Wedding by Melissa Service

A War and A Wedding review

I don’t spend a lot of time reading YA fantasy but I loved the idea of going on an adventure with Ellyce. And putting together anagrams and trying to decode secret messages? Even better. I spent most of my energy trying to figure out who Ellyce should trust and keep track of which clue meant what and why it mattered.


“Language is the bedrock of any civilization,” Lamad instructed. “When the meanings of words change and language breaks down, so does society. Look at any of your history books—they all tell the same story. A nation’s rise to greatness and its crashing destructive fall all occurs around language. When language becomes corrupt, the decline begins.”

A War and A Wedding

Mostly, I guessed wrong. Which is awesome because I love being surprised at the end.

In A War and A Wedding (A War and A Wedding, book 1), Melissa Service weaves mysterious messages and helpful, yet confusing, messengers into Ellyce Jensen’s frightening journey. She wants to find her father but the closer she comes to discovering his hiding place, the more dangerous things become.

I loved this first book in the A War and A Wedding series but it’s best to keep in mind it’s the FIRST book. Just when things are starting to make sense…we must wait for book two. Arg! I must have book two!!!

A War and A Wedding Synopsis

The week before her seventeenth birthday, Ellyce Jensen’s father disappeared.

Forty-five days later she discovers the jagged, haphazardly scrawled note he left behind. Revealing that the ancient prophecies he wrote about were true, Thomas’ note urged her to find Derek–someone she’d never heard of before. As Ellyce battles against the people she thought she could trust–and the supernatural forces sent to stop her, she soon learns…this is only the beginning.

There will be a WAR.
There will be a WEDDING.
Lines will be drawn.
Choose for yourself…whom you will serve.

Melissa Service’s A War and A Wedding releases June 21, 2019.

Let's say you're an average teenager who has no time for ancient prophecies like A War and A Wedding. If so, then you're exactly like Ellyce Jensen. It's pure fiction, quite literally out of a book.

Other book reviews

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

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How to Write a Book | 4 Steps to Get Started

If you want to know how to write a book you’re in the right place. If you want to write a book but don’t know what to do next, you’re in the right place. And if you know you need a solid plan in order to write your book then I’m your biggest fan.

is it time to write your book

So you’ve decided to write a book

For better or worse, I’m results-driven more than idea-driven. I love finishing. Therefore, when a great idea comes up, the first thing I do is break it down into smaller pieces and figure out how to make it happen. I know this approach isn’t as exciting as allowing adrenaline to fuel your writing passion. But what’s the goal here, to feel good or to finish writing your book?

Over the years I’ve helped organizations and individuals publish many, many pieces (articles, books, magazines and more) on deadline. Which is more difficult than you may think.

More often than not the writing part of the process comes down to four steps:

  • Find your why
  • Choose your theme
  • Find your genre
  • Schedule writing time

Do you want the workbook that goes with this training?

I’ve created a 17-page workbook to complement this training, available for download. This is a free resource but it’s part of my resource library and you’ll need a password. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

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Now, on to the training.


How to write a book

Step one: Find your why

Think about why you want to write a book and also why you’re the right person to do it. If you take a few minutes to figure out your why you may find you have many reasons. Try and choose a main (primary) reason. This primary why will help you create the rest of your book-writing (and marketing) plan.

Here are examples of possible why’s:

  • Build an audience or platform
  • Be known as an authority in your area
  • Make money
  • Tell an important story people need to hear

There are no wrong answers here. One person’s why isn’t morally superior to another’s why. Be honest and figure out the primary reason behind why you want to write a book. Write it down. This will help keep you motivated when it stops being fun and starts being hard work.

Step two: Choose your theme

The next step is choosing your book’s theme. Every story has a theme—an overarching point. In her book Story Sparks, author Denise Jaden asks writers to review seven simple themes and choose the one that they’d most like to read a book about.

  1. Love
  2. Faith
  3. Forgiveness
  4. Trust
  5. Survival
  6. Honour
  7. Acceptance

From here, once you have a focus word, you can take it deeper. Instead of “love” your theme may become “love conquers all” or “love comes at a price.” Find that driving point behind your story an write it down. This will help you develop your story line and characters down the road.

Step three: Find your genre

This step is super practical. You need to know which genre your book fits into so you know what your word count should be. Because, yes, there are rules and the word count change based on your genre.

In general, the main objections I hear to this step are around following the rules or choosing just one genre. Trust me when I say, in general you should follow the rules. Please. For everyone’s sake. Also, this step will help you SO MUCH with step four.

Once you know your genre then you’ll have a word count range for your book. If you’re at this stage, check out the genre/word count list I’ve curated. (Psst it’s also in the workbook in my resource library).

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Step four: create a writing schedule

Once you know what genre your book is you’ll know more or less how many words you need to write. See? Super practical! Your next step is decide when you want to complete your first draft. This can be arbitrary but it should be realistic. Once you have a date in mind, work backwards, breaking your word count goals into months and then days.

A few things to keep in mind

First, figure out how many words per day you can write. It’s different for everyone so learn what works best for you and build your schedule around it.

Second, build a realistic writing schedule. To write a book you need blocks of focused time. How much do you have available? What do you need to put in place to protect it?

Third, create strategies so you stick to your schedule. There will be days you don’t feel like writing. Find ways to write anyway.

When creating a writing schedule make sure to answer these questions:

  • What’s your deadline for finishing your first draft?
  • How many words is your book going to be?
  • Break it down, how many days per week are you going to write?
  • How many words can you write per day?
  • How many words per day do you need to write to meet your deadline?

If you want more on this, check out my training on creating a writing schedule.

If you want to write a book but don’t know what to do next, you’re in the right place. This workbook will guide you through the four steps you need to take BEFORE you start writing.

if you want to write a book, following these four steps will help you accomplish your goal

I work as a project manager for my day job, which often looks like bossing people around and saying no to things. In reality, a project manager brings big ideas to life and organizes tasks in a way that makes it possible for the team to get things done. This role helps people prioritize and keeps an eye on the big picture. It’s a thankless job but an important one, nonetheless.

When I first took on this role it took me a while to realize most people don’t think like I do. Motivated by enthusiasm and emotion, people tend to dive into exciting tasks without thinking about how it will go or when it should end. Then, when it becomes cumbersome and less fun…and other projects come up…it gets put aside, unfinished.

The people I’ve met at my workshops and speaking events are much the same. They get a great idea for a book and dive into writing with little (or no) regard to when they want to finish or how long it’s going to be. And then, when the project becomes messy or other ideas crop up…the great idea gets left behind on the hard drive, unfinished.

My goal is to help more people finish their big, exciting projects by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable and realistic steps. I hope this training has helped you! Please let me know how you fare.

By the way, my next live iteration of this workshop is June 13 to 15, 2019 at Write Canada.

How to Create a Blog Content Calendar

There’s so much value in a good plan. I built my content calendar last fall and I’m keeping to it today. Here’s what I did and how you can do it to.

Content Calendar

A content calendar helps you out!

  • It take the guesswork out of what to write
  • It keeps your blog on track with relevant content
  • A content calendar sets you on a strategic plan that moves you forward
  • It helps you avoid burning out
  • It aligns your blog with your core goals

I’ve been a professional writer for a long time, but up until this year I didn’t put together a blogging content calendar.

Why?

A few reasons I suppose. First, because I create content calendars for everyone else so my blog was the last thing I touched in an average freelance day. Second, because I was a bit paralyzed in overwhelm. So many ideas. Too many things to write about. You know, the usual blogging problems.

#bloggerproblems

But I knew the value of a good plan—there’s nothing like a calendar to tell you what to write and keep you on track.

Long story short, I told myself to quit stalling and created a sweet content calendar. I built it last fall, I implemented it last January, and I’m keeping to it today. Here’s what I did and how you can do it too.


How to create an editorial calendar

  1. Get clear on who you’re talking to (your ideal reader) and what you offer (what’s your goal? what are you trying to achieve?)
  2. I spent a few months figuring this out. Here’s what I came up with: My ideal readers are creative freelancers. I help busy people do marketing.

    To get clear on my blogging goals I took tips from people I trust but I found the most practical help from Denise Duffield-Thomas’ Planning Process. In this post she outlines her step-by-step planning process and links to her simple business plan. I filled it out and used the plan I came up with as the foundation for my content calendar.

  3. Decide what your topics are
  4. Once you know what you offer, it’s time to brainstorm what topics you want to cover. For example, my ideal reader struggles with time management, marketing/digital strategy, organization, and overwhelm. Look at that, I have four main topics.

    I used these topics as headings, then brainstormed blog post ideas for each one. From a short session I had 17 ideas. If I decided to blog once per week I all of a sudden had 17 weeks of posts lined up. Wow. OK maybe I could do this.

    And third

  5. Put everything into a calendar template

There are a lot of options when it comes to editorial/content calendars, everything from paper planners to cloud-based task systems. You need to use what works for you. After some trial and error I found Trello works for me. If you haven’t heard of it before I’ll give you a little overview of how it works and how I used it.

Trello is a cloud-based visual project management tool. It took me a while I understand how to use it but after a few video tutorials (I watched how other people used Trello) I figured out a system.

How I plan content using Trello

First, I started different boards: Content Calendar, Goals, Article Ideas, Articles in Progress, Blog Post Planner, Newsletter, etc.

Next, I populated the boards with lists. In my Content Calendar board I started with my four main themes and put them on a list of their own. I have found this keeps me focused on my big ideas when I’m brainstorming individual blog posts. In my Article Ideas board I created 12 lists for the 12 months and put 10-20 ideas/prompts under each list. For example, my August prompts are back to school, Labour Day recipes, beach crafts, scheduling, planning, gardening, canning, autumn, etc. These aren’t topics I’ll write about per se, but it’s a place to start.

I have different lists in each of my boards. Some are tasks with due dates and some are just lists of ideas, links to articles I want to come back to, or goals for this year.

This is what is working for me. Having a visual plan laid out holds overwhelm back. In fact I haven’t sat down and wondered what to write in months. Months! I also like my content calendar because it keeps my blog ideas separate from my freelance work or anything else I’m working on. Oh yeah, and it never gets lost on my desk.

There's so much value in a good plan. I built my content calendar last fall and I’m keeping to it today. Here’s what I did and how you can do it to.

Here’s how I plan each month of blog content using a content calendar

I try and plan at least three months of content at a time. When I say “plan” it’s not like I have draft posts written up, but I have a blog topic and maybe a few notes of the direction I want to go with it. I also have coloured labels for my different types of content and I label it right away.

All the blog topics go in a list I’ve called Articles in Progress. Then when I go to plan a new month I create a new list with the month name and pull the different brainstorms from Articles in Progress to the month blog lineup. From there I look to see each theme is covered (easy to tell when they’re colour-coded!) and assign dates.

Of course, none of this is set in stone so if a sponsored post comes up, I’m able to swap my calendar around to make room. Oh, and how awesome is it to actually know when you can post something when speaking with a client? I mean, how pro!

Once a month is over I archive the list and set up the next month of content, so I always have a rolling three-month plan.

And when I have a new idea? I add it to the Articles in Progress list. A sponsored post comes up? I figure out when is the best time to post and move my calendar around. It was a lot of initial set up but now that it’s rolling I don’t know how I blogged before this. Not only am I keeping on track but it is an enjoyable experience. No more stress!

If my story isn’t enough to convince you to build and keep to an editorial calendar, I don’t know what will. You can’t be strategic without a good plan.

By the way, if this is something you want to set up I’ve outlined my process in a short (super short) video in case it’s helpful.


To create a content calendar you’ll need:

  • Some sort of calendar template
  • Themes
  • Monthly topics
  • Blog post ideas

One last thing.

Before I could plan what to write I decided how often I would write. I decided I’d post each Tuesday at minimum. I want to write more, but deep down I knew once per week was even asking a lot. My blog hadn’t been priority for a long time and I needed to get back in the habit of posting with consistency before I could do anything grander.

I also made posting on Tuesdays the priority over posting on topic.

Weird, I know. I spent all that time coming up with what and who and why and how and all that. But here’s the thing, all the topics I came up with were things I’m also struggling with. Some of them needed to simmer on the back burner while I figured out what I have to say about it. Some ideas needed testing. Like this topic for example. Can a blogging content calendar help a busy writer who doesn’t have time for a personal blog? Six months ago I wasn’t sure. Now I know.

So sometimes my posts aren’t 100 per cent on topic. And I’m good with that. Because I am still posting every Tuesday.

Need help cutting through the paralysis of analysis in order to get focused on what you want your blog to do for you? Let’s chat!

There is so much value in a good plan—there’s nothing like a calendar to tell you what to write and keep you on track. I built my blogging content calendar last fall, I implemented it last January, and I’m keeping to it today. Here’s what I did and how you can do it too.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required

Small Business Marketing Ideas for the Real World

In order to be profitable you need to make sales, so you’re always looking for new and improved small business marketing ideas. Or at least you should be. Today we’re talking about real-world strategies you can use to promote your online business.

Small Business Marketing Ideas for the Real World

Small business marketing ideas for the real world

Having a strong digital presence is important but don’t discount traditional tactics. I’ll be the first to admit I’m biased because I spend most of my time working with traditional media and dealing with people who don’t have a digital-first approach. That said, there are a LOT of people who don’t live in the Internet bubble and they like buying things too.

Here are a few small business marketing ideas to consider.

In-Person Networking

Networking is super important in business. Even if you’re introverted. People are often shy to talk about their business because they don’t want people to think they’re bragging or pressuring them to buy something. But trust me, there’s a way to talk about your business in a non-threatening way. You do need to find creative ways to sprinkle it into your conversations but the point is, mention it. If you’re hoping people discover you online so you don’t have to do the scary marketing thing I’m sorry to say this is going to be a slow venture. Find a natural way to integrate your business into your every-day life and then when it fits, mention it. Networking is an art and there are many people who don’t do it right. If you can learn strong networking skills, it is effective. SUPER effective.

Local Events

Attending or sponsoring local events doesn’t fit every type of business but make sure to go if you find one where your ideal customers will be hanging out. If you have a physical product make sure to bring those and hand out samples or have a booth. If you sell digital products or services you can have some sort of swag that makes sense to pass out. I’ve found great results from attending events and participating in them as a speaker or vendor. This small business marketing idea can be a great business booster if you apply a little creativity to it.

Vehicle Branding

You may be running your business online, but you still have to leave the house. Car wrapping is an effective marketing tool. No matter if you’re driving to a meeting or dropping your kid off at soccer practice, you’re promoting your business. If you’re not ready for the full-scale wrap there are other options like vinyl logos. Think about it.

Local Media

Don’t discount local newspapers or radio stations. They work hard to produce relevant local content and are an excellent way to get the word out about your business. If you don’t have an advertising budget think about other ways you can get media coverage. Can you contribute a weekly column about your area of expertise? Are you able to provide an interesting point of view on a subject they’re asking for community input on? Call the outlet and see how you can help them. Another way to get local media coverage is to join local boards and campaigns. Make yourself available for interviews to talk about the great work your volunteer group is doing when the journalists call to cover the event. It’s a win-win-win.

In order to be profitable you need to make sales, so you're always looking for new and improved small business marketing ideas. Or at least you should be. Today we're talking about real-world strategies you can use to promote your online business.

One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.

This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.

Get Access to My Free Resource Library

* indicates required