Category: Copywriting

Do You Backup Your Blog?


Lifebuoy

A few days ago I decided to upgrade Crayon Writer to WordPress 2.8. No problem, right?

Well something went drastically wrong, and in an attempt to “fix” things, I lost my entire blog! Every post, every comment, every page. Two years’ worth of blogging were gone in a flash.

Amazingly, I didn’t panic. A blog is nothing in the larger scheme of things (Michael Jackson died the day before I lost the blog, and my little corner of the blogosphere pales in comparison to the death of such a wonderful human being). But it still hurt to lose it.

Luckily I had done a backup before the installation using my host’s (AN Hosting) backup wizard on the Cpanel. Not that I knew what I was doing. I still needed a ton of help from them to do a recovery.

Just in case that didn’t work, I found out that my mother keeps every post I write (she’s subscribed to my blog…are you?) so I could’ve re-written my whole blog if necessary.

As you can see, things are back up. I lost some plugins and a recent post (which I just re-posted), and I lost my entire theme (it was time for a new one anyway…what do you think of the new theme?) But it was a harrowing and eye-opening experience.

My plan now is to learn how to do a backup to my own computer or a disk, and then I’ll learn how to recover said backup. And I’ll try to keep my hands out of the Cpanel (or at least not click anything that has a pop-up that says, “Warning”). And I will not click anything that says, “Remove” or “Delete” unless I know for sure what’s really going to happen.

What’s the best method to backup a blog, though? In my case, the Cpanel saved the MySql database, but I had no clue how to use that for a recovery. I’ve heard of a WordPress Plugin for backing up, but I’ve also read suggestions that you should do your own backups with an FTP client. Then you can setup a domain that’s just for testing your recovery skills. I’ll admit, though, that I’m a little confused about the whole thing.

Do you backup your blog? How often, and what method do you use? Do you know how to do a recovery, or will your web host help you out?

Facebook rules!

Facebook

A while back I mentioned that I signed up for Facebook, a social network similar in concept to MySpace and Ning.

What I’ve found so far is that Facebook rules! If you haven’t joined, you really should. There is a huge potential for marketing your business on Facebook too.

So far I’ve befriended many of my former college acquaintances, and many of my high school folks. I’ve even found some old friend from elementary school.

My next “friending” project came about because I love games. There are several Facebook games that allow you to make new “friends,” and I set my privacy settings so they can only see what I allow.

But the real potential is in contacting your friends to let them know about your business. One friend of mine makes jewelry, and she created a group for her company. Every so often she sends out sales and announcements. While I’m not into jewelry, I know exactly where to go when I’m in the market.

Other’s mention their websites in their status, or have a “mirror blog” on their profile page so friends can see what you wrote in your blog.

Finally, I’m beginning to befriend people in my local area, which should come in handy for job searching and prospect building.

Are you using Facebook? Have you used it as a marketing tool? Look me up on Facebook and maybe we can chat…just be sure to let me know how you found me, because I don’t accept friends with no explanation.

Blog or website. What works for your business?

your brand new website 1

When you need to find out more about a business, you can almost always find their website online. But more and more companies are also starting blogs.

What’s best for your small business? A blog or a website?

First, let’s define the two types of online tools.

A blog is simply a type of website. Most have multiple posts or articles listed chronologically, with the most recent one on the front page. Most blogs also allow interaction with its readers, via comments.

So all blogs are websites, but not all websites are blogs.

There are some blogs where the front page is static, making them basically the same as traditional websites. That is, there isn’t a chronological list of posts.

So what’s best for you and your business?

I actually have both a blog and a regular website. My website is specifically about my writing business, Theda K. Communications, and it is the home of my portfolio. When I send out cold emails or make cold calls, I always refer the prospective client to my website.

My blog is more for fun, and is way less formal than my website. I have a link to it from my website (and vice versa, actually), but I spend more time marketing it. In effect, my blog is my marketing tool, and hope to lead buyers to my website.

Do you need to have your blog and website separate? You might, if you want to maintain a strictly professional online presence.

If you haven’t yet created your website, complete with your online portfolio. check out Homestead, which is where my website is hosted (yes, this is an affiliate link, so if you choose to use them, please go through my link). They have reasonable prices, and lots of templates to choose from, especially if you’re not ready to make your own website from scratch.

Do you have both a blog and a traditional website? Why or why not?

Giving thanks

http://a764.g.akamai.net/f/764/16742/1h/www.1800flowers.com/800f_assets/images/flowers/images/shop/catalog/17174f.jpg

Thanksgiving is almost here, and this year we’re excited because we’ll have family in town. My aunts and cousin are coming to Arizona all the way from Michigan, and my daughter will finally get to meet more of her family.

The thing I like about Thanksgiving is that it gives us a chance to remember things that are going well in our lives. Being a grown-up isn’t a bed of roses, so sometimes it’s hard to recognize when things aren’t so bad. But sitting around a table full of food, in a room filled with family, it’s a little easier to count your blessings.

Our family has a special tradition we follow on each Thanksgiving. Before we eat, we go around the table and each person shares some reasons they are thankful. It can get pretty funny when kids get their turn, but it gives everyone a nice feeling. And hearing other people’s reasons can give you even more ideas.

What are you doing for Thanksgiving this year? Any special traditions that your family practices? How do you decorate your table?

From the mountain top (shouting it)

Achieve 1

A couple of days ago I announced that I was setting a course for my freelance copywriting business’ success.

Rather than reveal my plan all at once (besides, it’s still a work in progress), I figured I’d just start with each baby step that I’m taking.

One thing I figured out is that it’s not feasible for me to jump in, head first, with all the other daily responsibilities I have. That’s a pretty important point for everyone. A plan, to be achievable, has to be realistic for your particular situation. It can’t be too pitiful, like paying just the minimum due on your credit card with the goal of paying it off anytime soon.

But goals also can’t be too farfetched, or you’ll never even try to reach them. Like, say, planning to make a million dollars on the first day.

Here’s my goal: Initially I will make at least $2000 per month from my writing activities, not counting expenses and such. My timeline for this is within 3 months from today.

There! I said it out loud. Whew! That was hard!

How do I plan to make this income? I am primarily a business copywriter, focusing on tasks like press releases, web/blog copy, ads, annual reports, sales letters, newsletters, and brochures. I also do proofreading and editing.

I know I mentioned magazine writing in a previous post, but after some research I realized magazine writing isn’t best the way (for me) to achieve my goal.

Now that I’ve revealed my goal, let me tell you my first couple of steps.

In order to write for companies, I have to contact them, right? And in order to contact them, I need to have their phone numbers and/or email addresses. So my starting point is to compile a list of prospective companies. I’m using a free database that lists pertinent information, oftentimes including key players in the company. It’s a bit time-consuming, but I’d like a hefty list so I have no excuses.

My next step is to start making cold calls to my prospects. Basically, I ask for the person or department that probably hires freelancers, and then I ask that person if they do, indeed, ever outsource. Sometimes I get to the key person, and sometimes I have to settle for voicemail. Invariably, I get an email address and send them my intro letter and a link to my online portfolio. A lot of my procedure was gleaned from Peter Bowerman’s book, The Well-Fed Writer. I highly recommend it.

When I can’t make cold calls (like when it’s too late at night, for instance), I’ll still make good use of my time by cold emailing prospects. I may still call them at some point, but with working during the day I won’t always be able to make cold calls.

Because my days aren’t structured yet, it’s hard for me to give myself a set number of calls/emails to make each day. I’ll have to play this by ear, but I will commit to spending 2 hours each day making contacts. I might be able to set different goals for the different types of days I have (days where I work vs. days that I don’t), but I’ll get back to you on that. If 2 hours is too easy, I’ll increase it, of course.

So that’s it for now. I’ll be making a lot of calls this month. So far my list is over 2000 companies long, which will definitely keep me busy.

Now…how am I going to organize all of the information I get? Outlook’s contact management program? Excel? Index cards? Stay tuned, and feel free to offer your prospecting hints.

The Great Cloth Diaper Hunt!

Diaper Decisions

When my daughter was a bit younger, I stumbled across the new, old world of cloth diapering. Cloth diapers are great for the environment, great for baby’s skin, and great fun with all the cool colors.

If you’re considering cloth diapers, or if you want to give them to someone else, you’ve gotta check out the Great Cloth Diaper Hunt! This online scavenger hunt will take you to lots of work-at-home-mom sites, you’ll probably learn more about cloth diapers and green living, and you’ll have a blast.

Each sponsor (I’m not one this time around, but maybe next time), hides a little cloth diaper icon somewhere on their site. Finding and clicking on the diaper will enter you into daily contests, and of course there are prizes for those that find a lot. Being a participant, you’ll also be eligible for discounts on lots of sites.

If you have a home-based business, especially if you don’t sell cloth diapers like most of the other sponsors, you might consider being a sponsor yourself. There’s only a $20 sponsor fee, and there are thousands of hunters.

So what are you waiting for? The hunt starts today. Register now (it’s free), and maybe become a sponsor (if someone else drops out). You’ll be supporting WAHMs and work-at-home-families.

What’s the plan?

Garden Path

The other day I watched a speaker talk about how important it is to have goals. But even more important, he said, is having a plan to achieve that goal.

That really hit home for me.

I’ve been talking about being a successful freelance business writer for years now, and there are times when I give it my all. But truthfully, I realize I haven’t done my best yet. I haven’t made a good plan, I haven’t taken the necessary steps, to get to the 6 figures I know I can make with writing.

But better late than never, right?

This month I’m renewing my efforts with a passion. Having worked for myself makes me hungry to really make a living on my own.

So what makes a good plan? For me it’s quantifiable steps that I complete each day or each week. I know there will be times, like this week when my daughter had to stay home, when the plan doesn’t go…well…as planned. The point is to work like heck to put my foot on each step, knowing that there’s no way to reach the destination if I don’t. I can’t magically teleport to the goal.

So here goes! I’ll post my goal and my plan a little later.

In the meantime, tell us about your goals and your plans of action. Are you an aspiring writer or a part-time entrepreneur also?

Why Write?

“What’s your passion?”

That’s a question I hate hearing, because I can never answer it. I’m interested in a variety of things, but I can say that writing is something I always go back to.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the different kinds of professional writing, and I realized I was only focused on one type. Most of my writing clients have been businesses who needed press releases, web content, and other commercial copywriting.

Magazine writing is another field that sounds promising, and it fits my writing style a little more closely.

Recently I read a “how-to” article about magazine writing at Suite 101, and the author recommended writing every day, even if it’s a personal journal. She also said that writers love to write.

Personally, I can’t say that I love writing, and I don’t write every day, but I do feel a strong connection with writing. It comes easily, maybe because I love to talk. And I’m good at it. But if I follow conventional wisdom, I’d give it up because it’s not my passion.

What about you? Do you think it’s a requirement to be passionate about a career before you try it? If you’re a writer too, why do you write?

Marketing your business really works

Marketing your business can sometimes feel like a chore, especially when you don’t get immediate results. But don’t give up!

Building a business takes time, kind of like gardening. You have to plant lots of seeds and then you wait. Of course, you can do other things while you’re waiting, like planting more seeds, watering the ones you already planted, or starting another garden.

But the main point is that it takes time. Even if you land a great client right away, sometimes a flood or drought can wipe out a great crop. Don’t forget to keep planting those seeds.

I recently heard from a prospective client who I’d cold emailed months ago. We worked out a deal, and now I have new business.

Have you reaped benefits from past marketing efforts?

Are you too critical of your writing?

Recently I had a writing project for a new client, and for some reason I couldn’t churn it out as quickly as I should have. I finally realized my problem. I wanted it to be perfect, and in worrying about that, I was stuck doing nothing.

Does that sound familiar? Are you so critical of yourself and your writing that it holds you back sometimes?

A freelance writing friend of mine told me a similar story. She agonized and agonized over what to write for her client. She went back and forth with him to make sure she was on the right track. The client told her he wanted the piece to be exciting.

Finally she submitted the project, and much to her dismay, the client sent back a correction. He added an exclamation point to one or two lines! That’s it! That’s what he considered editing, and that’s what he considered exciting. There was nothing wrong with her writing, except that she sat on it too long, all because of perfectionism.

The moral? Write it. Just do it. Get past the fear that it won’t be perfect, because, in all likelihood, what you write is fine for your average client. They just want it done.

Are you a perfectionist when it comes to your writing? How do you overcome it (or do you)?