Helps for your Newsletter

If you're putting together your own HVAC newsletter, you may need help with some of the technical parts.

Lynda.com is a great website to assist you.  It's a tutorial library of skills.  Instead of checking out books, you check out videos.   Each video is designed to teach you a small segment of learning.

You don't have to listen for hours... or you can.  What I love about the library is it's designed for busy people who need to learn a new skill.

you can pop in, watch the 10 minute tutorial, and then go and do it.

This is great if you are in the middle of your newsletter design.  Or if you want to send a personalized email to your customer list and don't know how to do mail merge.

In five or 10 minutes you can be up to speed!

Zip over to Lynda.com and get those tutorials.  There is a fee.  But you can join for a month, learn your skills, and move on... until the next time you need skills updated.

You may never need Lynda.com.   But if you do, It's nice to know she's just a few keystrokes away.

 

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Published in Uncategorized

Why Freelancers Charge so Much

When writers decide to go freelance, they sometimes compare their hourly pay for freelance work with the hourly rate they made at their former job.

This is like selling your HVAC system at cost.  First, you don't make money.  Second, you lose money because you still have overhead.

Writers have overhead, too.  They have to consider home office costs, health insurance, retirement plan and other costs.

Sometimes you think writers are charging too much per hour of writing.    It's not just the time it takes to write, it's also the years and years of experience.  The hours spent learning, honing, and mastering the craft.  Many of those were done without any kind of pay.

In the same way, your hourly rate take into account your skill level, your professionalism, and the experience you have.  When you know you do excellent work and satisfy your customers, you feel confident charging your hourly rate.

What is wonderful about this world is that we can each work to our best skill levels.   I promise I will never try to fix my heater or air conditioner.  I'll leave that to the experts.

And you may decide it's not worth your time to write your brochures, web pages, or newsletters.  It's so much easier to leave it to the experts and focus on what you do best.

 

 

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Published in writing aids

Write a Compelling Landing Page

In the end of October, I attended the annual AWAI Bootcamp.  It was an awesome experience. I loved the camaraderie of meeting other writers.  I appreciated the skilled copywriters who shared their passion and experience.

One of the highlights was the opportunity to visit with companies looking for copywriters.  It was a great chance to hear what they were looking for in a copywriter.  They also had a variety of spec challenges on landing pages.

I learned as I started writing these landing pages that I had a system.  As you work on your HVAC websites, you may want to draw prospective clients to special reports or other valuable offers.  This system might work for you as well.   Think about selling your newest heating and cooling system.

1. Research.  I checked out the websites and the existing web content.  I went to company source pages and chat rooms on home improvement.  Books on home comfort gave me ideas for headlines.  Especially as I read the comments, I got a feel for the language of the prospective customers, what they wanted, and what they didn't want.  I learned their needs and fears.

2.  I created a features and benefits spread sheet with columns labeled: features, Why?, Benefits, deeper benefits, emotion, and rank.  As I read the website and company material, I listed features and benefits, then went back and delved deeper.  Who cares?  Why does this matter? What made these features so valuable to the customer?  I listed the dominant emotion for each benefit and then ranked them in importance.

3. I asked my imaginary customer three questions.  What do you want?  Why do you want it? and What does it look like when you have it?   These questions helped me understand the mind of the prospective client.

4. Using the features and benefits spread sheet and thecustomer's "answers" I looked for the big promise and the big idea.

5. I wrote a series of headlines to find the one that best exemplified the big idea and the big promise.

6. Once I had that, the landing page seemed to flow.  I started with the problem the customers were fearing and worrying about. It was not only keeping their home heated and cooled properly, it was also taking care of their family and being a good provider.  I positioned my client's product as the ideal solution.  I added proofs and credibility and issued a call to action.  That is, I asked the reader to DO something.  To call and learn more or to buy this newest heating and cooling system.

Doing a series of landing pages on deadlines helped me recognize and use this pattern.

Let me know if it works for you.

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Published in Marketing

Understand Your Customers without Talking to Them

I came across this powerful video of Jay Abraham.  Here he clearly explains how to use Amazon and their mass of data to focus and improve your copy.  If you want to connect with your customers the best way is to talk to them and see what they want and need.  If you can't do that.  Here's another option.

Listen and learn.  It's insightful information.

When you read the headlines, sub-heads and editorial copy you may find words or phrases the resonate with you and your reader.

You can create a Customer Profile Using Amazon Customer Reviews

  1. Find a book your audience is reading
  2. Go to the customer reviews
  3. Study their comments
  4.  Note their likes and dislikes
  5. Use those comments to sketch a customer profile
  6. Use the comments to make sure your copy addresses the things your product will do for them (based on positive reviews) and the things I'll eliminate for you (based on the negative reviews.)

As you do this, you understand your customer, you think like them and you use their voice.

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Published in writing aids

What is the point of your writing?

What do you want your HVAC Newsletter to Do for You?

What is your goal?  Do you want customers to like you better?  Do you want them to be entertained?  Do you want them to call you when they have heating or cooling problems and recommend you to their friends?  Do you want them to buy something-- filters, humidifiers, EVR's?

Before you start writing, have a goal in mind.

Goal Oriented Writing

I wrote a home page for an attorney recently.  He was new to copywriters… and took the copy to his staff meeting for review. That wanted to revise it and make the tone more academic and informational.  But the goal was to get readers to call in and be helped.  I was reminded anew how each kind of writing has its own feel and own goals.

With each form, you need to begin with the end in mind.  What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?  Do you want people to be informed?  Do you want them to laugh? Do you want them to make a decision to change their lives?

Until you know what you hope to achieve… you won't succeed.

Once you know what you want, every word you write needs to evoke images, promises, benefits, and emotions to accomplish that goal.  And each type of writing has written and unwritten rules to help you do that.  If you write to educate, you tell the facts up front.  If you do that with a murder mystery… you may have it solved by the second page.

You likely write academic literature with long words and complex phrases.  If you write web pages the same way… you’ll lose your reader in a nanosecond.

As you write articles for your HVAC newsletter or website you are a word artist.  Know your canvas-- the size and length of your piece.  Know your paints or medium—the kind of writing you are doing… and its purpose.  And finally, know your brush strokes—the word choices that create the masterpiece.

If you choose to write copy that invites readers to decide—at that moment—to make a change in their lives, that copy draws on certain words and rules.

You paint a picture of where they are now and where they want to be.   You show them how what you’re offering will perform that change for them.  And you promise benefits.  And… you use vivid imagery.

Look at these choices.  Decide which is more powerful A. or B?

A. Each time Sally got her energy bill she cringed.  Then she turned the heat down another degree.  She couldn't afford the heat and she didn't want to freeze.  What could she do? Maybe it was time to learn more about Energy Star rebates.

B.  Take a look at these six options for reducing your electric bill.

A. What will you do when the power goes out?  You're left in the cold and the dark!

B. Here is a report that evaluates the features and benefits of  back-up generators.

A. Is the air we breathe killing us? A new study shows most people breath in 43 cancer causing chemicals, 157 pollutants, and as many as 10 million pollen spores—with every breath!

B. The air we breathe is loaded with pollens, pollutants, and cancer causing chemicals.

Which is the stronger choice?  A or B?  Often the best choice is specific, focused, and tells a story.  It may also use shorter sentences or shorter words making it easy for busy readers to capture the information.

As you think about your articles and stories in your newsletter, know your goals.  Consider the “so what?” factor.  Why will readers want to read this… or to know this?

Honor your readers.  Write what matters to them.  Use the words, the information, and the format that will resonate with them.  Then they will like you, trust you, and buy from you.

If you need help making your words powerful, let me help you.

 

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Published in Uncategorized

Manage Your Money

The Secret to Wealth for Self-employed... and others

The great joy of writing is the freedom associated with it. You can write anywhere. You have flexibility of time and place.  You can write in your pajamas... or on the beach.

The reality is, most writers slog away at a computer in a small office or dining room table.  They watch each precious cent. They pay bills.  Often, they have little set aside for retirement.  If they don't strike it big... they imagine their dismal future.  The gloom of a tiny apartment and a solitary light bulb. Ancient wallpaper peals from the wall.  Dinner-- a few crusts eaten in damp darkness.

Writers are good with imagination.

Now imagine the confidence that comes from having put away some money for retirement.  Now you write because you love it.  You are safe and secure.  Comfortable.  Surrounded by those things that bring you pleasure and joy.

What makes the difference?  It's not all about money.  It's about being wise with what you have. No one else will step in to take care of you in your old age.  Who knows if Social Security will still be around? It's up to you.  Plan.

We are not always wise in knowing that to do with our money.  What's safe?  What's reasonable?  How can we build our small retirement into something useful and joyful?

I want to share with you something I've come across.  Check it out and see if it might help you have the freedom to write and the security of a comfortable... or even plentiful retirement.

I want to introduce you to The Elevation Group.  I first heard about this at the end of 2011.  I watched and listened.  Then I joined the group. I found that so much of it resonated with me, I became an affiliate-- and an advocate-- to spread the word.

The Elevation Group is technically one man's journey to learn how the middle class can invest like the rich and have the returns and prosperity of the rich.  It also shows how Mike Dillard is protecting his assets against the down-turn he feels is inevitable.

*Mike shows you why he thinks the country and the world are in a financial decline... so you can decide for yourself.

* You learn step-by-step what you can do to protect your money so you will have money for food, clothing, housing... and fun... regardless of the political or economic climate.

*Mike shows how to raise children who are financially aware and won't squander an inheritance.  You can pass on to your posterity, not only how to preserve money, but how to be generous to others.

*You don't have to be a financial genius to prosper.  Mike speaks in plain English.  He explains risks and rewards. So you can make informed decisions and feel secure in what you choose.

*You are given options to work with the people Mike works with-- attorneys, accountants, financial planners. You have a list of resources that have been checked out and proven honorable.

*In times of distress, money moves.  It can move from you... or to you. Prepare for your future by positioning yourself for the money to move to you.

I have been very impressed. I've learned a lot of new things I hadn't learned in years of listening to financial gurus.   The steps I've taken have brought good results.

Click on the link.  Check out The Elevation Group for yourself.  Be free to write, but be wise and plan your financial future as well.

Financial resource management--retire comfortabley

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The ONE Essential skill for Success

One skill that will help you dominate your market

Sometimes writers or writer-wannabees think Great Talent is essential for success.  They believe one must be born with an innate gift with words.  These blessed writers succeed.  If you’re not so gifted…. Stinks for you.

Like genius, talent is rarely all it’s touted to be.  Unless it’s combined with other skills, it can be more of a detriment than a blessing.

Educators say that you can be trained to write.  I agree.  There are rules of successful writing and if you follow those rules and practice, you can certainly become a skilled craftsman with words.

But that alone, will not bring you success.

I’m convinced the essential skill necessary for success in writing—as well as many other endeavors—is persistence.   Stick-to-it.  Gritty determination to stay with the project until it’s mastered.

That doesn’t sound nearly so pleasing as, “Oh, what a talented author!”  Or “The words flowed so skillfully!”  But the truth is: behind that talent and skill lies a whale of a lot of practice, training, and persistence.

It takes persistence to get up and write day after day.  Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outlier, says it takes 10,000 hours to master something.  Ten thousand hours.

If the average person works 40 hours a week… and that’s WORKING at mastering a skill… he or she will have put in 2080 hours at the end of the year.  Not coffee breaks, not checking emails—working.

If you put in 20 productive hours a week, in 10 years you will have mastered the skill.  Um.  And that’s the skill of writing.

Then you have to market.  The most exciting piece of writing will not find a broad audience without marketing.  Who will buy your masterpiece?

Thus, you enter another apprenticeship to gain skills in query letter writing, cover letter writing, finding agents, or publishers, learning how to self publish, finding businesses looking for copywriting…. And so on.

I don’t mean to be doom and gloom.  Writers do write good stuff.  They find places to sell it.  And some do it in MUCH LESS than 10 years.

But the pathway to writing for income is littered with souls who had talent and training… but could not stay the course.  They lacked persistence.

You can find persistence in several ways:

1. Don’t expect instant success.  Cut yourself some slack.  Give it time.

2. Believe in yourself and your work.  Believe that as you keep writing, you are gaining skills that will put you head and shoulders above the competition.

3. Find a support group that will be your kindly critic and exuberant cheering section.

4. Redefine success.  Make it producing work, practicing craft, researching, instead of selling. (At least until you have your 10,000 hours in.)

5. Know, know, KNOW that if you just keep writing and improving, Success WILL Come!

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AWAI—Amazing writing opportunities

Writers serious about making money: Pay Attention.  Businesses need writers… and they pay… sometimes VERY WELL!

I talked last blog about AWAI and its introductory course Six Figure Copywriting in my blog AWAI: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly.

Today I want to share with you the vast resources AWAI has.  I wish I’d known this when I first started learning from them.   I don’t KNOW that they keep it a secret… But I also didn't know where to look.

Delve into the AWAI catalogue.  I signed up as an affiliate with AWAI because I thought their courses would benefit my readers.  But I was blown away at all the choices I had.

 WHAT TO CHOOSE?

If you’re like me, you think:  I could do that!  Or I’d like to try that!  And if you’re not careful, you can end up over your head in classes, courses or commitments.

So I’d encourage you to go to the AWAI catalogue page and scroll down through all the choices.  I had a friend who took The Pro Resume Writer Program.  She wanted to be able to help people in this down economy.  The teaching must be excellent, because Johanna has gotten rave reviews from her clients. Check them out at http://perfectresumeservice.com/

There are many classes for those who want to write web copy. Try Copywriting 2.0: Your Complete Guide to Writing Web Copy that Converts

Or if you want to master Search Engine Optimization (SEO) take a look at the SEO Copywriting Certificate Program.  If you love Facebook and other social media—earn money with Become  a Social Media Expert.

They have courses for those wanting to specialize in niches such as the financial, health, catalogue or Christian markets.  You can become a publicist or a speech writer or a researcher.

Are you starting to get a feel for all the opportunities for writers to earn good money out there?

 SERIOUS ABOUT MONEY?

I have been inclined toward the info-marketing course and the business to business (B2B) courses because of the sheer volume of writing needed in those areas.  There are so many clients and businesses needing good copy.

Consider Secrets of Writing High Performance B2B Copy or Writing Case Studies: How to Make a Great Living by Helping Clients Tell Their Stories.

After you take the copywriting course, you’ll look at websites and products and say. Pfff.  I could do better than that.   Or Gee, this writing really needs some improvement.

Now, if you’re inclined to exercise a bit of tact, you really can approach those businesses with an offer to give their writing the power that will attract more paying customers.  Tact is essential.

The person you speak to … may have been the one writing the copy.

So spend some time looking at the vast array of writing opportunities.  If you have skill with writing, you might be able to save a little and start writing for these markets on your own.

Even with the AWAI assistance the money will not just fall into your lap.  People won’t come begging for your services.  You will still need to promote yourself.

But.  If you learn through an AWAI course, you will gain the confidence and skill necessary to go out into the market place and say, “Hey!  I can write!  And I’m good!!” And, of course, modest and tactful, too.

So check out the AWAI catalogue.  Choose one or two of the areas you’d like to explore… and delve in deeper.   They actually have a program that allows you access to ALL the courses.

But since you can’t read them all at once… I suggest you start with one at a time.

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