What type of writing do you do?

At networking events, I most often introduce myself as ‘a writer’ or ‘a business writer.’ Both lead to one of two  inevitable questions: ‘What do you write?’, or ‘What kind of writing do you do?’

Then I take a deep breath and try to explain myself in 30 seconds or less, (even typing this, I took a deep breath.) I’m interested and have experience in a lot of different types of writing. For my business, I can write marketing collateral – and that in itself can be an arm-long list of different things from success stories to business profiles to solution profiles and product briefs.

Then there’s ghost blogging for businesses, web content, press releases, content for newsletters, interviews, process guides, and more.

I’ve found that my business card is a great ice breaker, however. My business tagline is “Your Lisa Jackson business cardwords, only better.” And I constantly get a lot of compliments on that phrase. Business folks who are intimidated by writers, especially, smile at that and visibly relax. That’s when they’ll share a bit about their insecurities or concerns with their own writing.

I’m also realizing that if I can find out what type of business the person I’m meeting is involved with before I answer, I can give examples that he or she can relate to.

  • For instance, many businesses have websites that have existed for 5 years or more and never been updated – I can talk about my web copy experience.
  • Or if the person mentions sales letters that have resulted in zero inquiries, I can talk about how I can write marketing and sales pieces that catch attention.
  • Social media scares a lot of business owners – they don’t know how to even approach LinkedIn or Twitter for business. If I know this is what they’re thinking about the most, I can talk about how each has a different goal and therefore the writing has to also be different. I can mention that it isn’t rocket science, but it is a skill, and I’ve been writing professionally for more than 25 years.

Empathy goes a long way, and I love it when someone gets inquisitive about the art of writing. For me, asking questions about their business is natural – I need to know more in order to be able to write for them and keep their ‘voice.’

It’s probably not best to reply to ‘what do you write’ with ‘whatever you need,’ but in most cases, it’s true. I love working with words and helping others express what they need to in their own words, only better.

How do you answer the question, ‘what type of writing do you do?’

Lisa J Jackson writerLisa J. Jackson is a New England-region journalist and a year-round chocolate and iced coffee lover. She loves working with words, and helping others with their own. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom. Connect with her on LinkedInFacebook, or Twitter

Self-promotion when you’re broke

Last week I talked about the use of swag in promoting your book. Several of the commenters (and if you haven’t contacted me to get your swag please send me your email – everyone up to my last comment will get something) talked about cost wondering where they would find the money.

Someone please look at me.

Yup, swag costs money.

So how do you promote yourself if you don’t have any money? Relax, there’s still a lot you can do to get your name out there.

Press Releases

The best way is to use your God-given talents. Write a knock-down press release to get free publicity. But there’s a catch, you need to have a compelling story in order for that press release to even have a chance of being published.

Your story doesn’t have to necessarily be about your book, as much as it needs to be about YOU. The idea is to draw traffic to your site with the hope that those people will then see your book and become interested.

I’ve written about how to set up a press release, but now I’ll talk about the types of topics we journalists want to see. If you send me a release telling me that you’ve just sold your 10, 000th book, ho-hum, chances are I’ll hit the delete button on that one (and don’t even think about sending me a hard-copy press release.) But if you tell me that you’ve made a donation to a charity (Gina is going to be making a contribution to a food allergy site because her book hinges on an anaphylatic food allergy), well then you’ve got my interest.

Too strapped to even make a contribution? Do some volunteer work somewhere (do you have an animal story? Volunteer at a shelter and make sure you have a photo taken.) Donate an item to a local raffle with your name and website attached.

If you received an award (which is always good news for local newspapers) then write it up in ready to go drop-in format (Who, what, when, where, how, and short.) Include all photos with the people in the picture identified and chances are good, you’ll get those published.

And by the way, in your releases your identifying title should be Wendy Thomas, best selling author (what? someday it will be) or something that will link you with being a writer. The point is, you want to get your name out there connected with being an author.

Twitter

Twitter is free, and while it does take a little bit of time to learn the lay of the land, as it were, by spending just a few minutes a day tweeting, you can get noticed as an author and as an expert in your field.

At a minimum, you should:
Tweet about your most recent blog post
Answer any direct questions made of you
Scan your feed to either comment on or retweet a few tweets that got your attention

You don’t have to spend hours and hours (even though you might be tempted) but you do need to, just like in the press release, establish a presence as a writer.

Facebook

I know, Facebook can be such a time suck, what with the funny pictures and the videos that you “have to see”, but be strong. Facebook is not only a way to keep connected with your community but it is also an effective way to promote yourself.

First set a limit, about 10 minutes at the beginning of your day, mid, and end of day is perfect. At a minimum you should:

Update on your most recent blog post
Scan your feed to see if there is anything that should be shared
“Like” the photos or comments that appeal to you

And then (and this is important) get off of Facebook so that you can do your writing.

Other Blogs

If you are not following some blogs in your field, then start doing so – right now. Become a valued member of the community by making comments on at least 3 posts in others’ blogs each day. Be sure that your comments add value and arent’ just things like “great stuff here!”

If your comment is valuable or insightful enough, people will often follow your comment’s link back to your website – the home of your book or services.

And that’s what it’s all about here, getting your name established so that people can contact you.

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Photo credit: LizzyGrafik

Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens).

 And yup, I’m working on sending out a few press releases myself.