10 episodes

Welcome to Write Bites, an audio series where we discuss writing, marketing, and freelancing during one of my daily walks around the neighborhood.

Write Bites: 10 Minute Chats On Writing, Marketing & Freelancing Jacob McMillen

    • Entrepreneurship

Welcome to Write Bites, an audio series where we discuss writing, marketing, and freelancing during one of my daily walks around the neighborhood.

    Write Bites Episode #13: How To Develop More Confidence As A Freelance Writer

    Write Bites Episode #13: How To Develop More Confidence As A Freelance Writer

    Welcome to Write Bites, an audio series where we discuss writing, marketing, and freelancing during one of my daily walks around the neighborhood.

    Audio Recording

    In Episode #13, I explain how to develop more confidence as a freelance writer.

     

     

    Transcript: How To Develop More Confidence As A Freelance Writer

    Hey guys. Welcome to Write Bites, an audio series where we discuss writing, marketing, and freelancing during one of my daily walks around the neighborhood.

    Today, I want to talk about confidence and how to have confidence as a freelance writer.

    The reason I want to dive into this is because I feel like the prevailing advice on confidence is kind of shit. It’s like if you were playing a basketball game and your coach called a time out, got the team on the bench, and was like, “Alright guys. Here’s what we’re going to do: Play better.” That’s kind of what confidence advice is like. It’s like, “Hey, be more confident.”

    I want to try to explain how you can become more confident, but in a way that actually works and allows you to take action towards getting there. To do that, we need to break up confidence into two different types:

    There is natural confidence, which is what most people think of when they say, “Be more confident,” or ask, “How can I become more confident?”

    That has to do with a general lens through which you view people in the world and situations. There’s a level that has to do with your own personal self-assurance, but there’s also part of it that just has to do with how willing you are to be bad at something, or how willing you are to fail and make mistakes.

    Some people are really scared to fail, and it causes them to be very unconfident when doing something that they’re not good at. If you can shift your mentality, it may help you have more natural confidence across the board, but ultimately that’s not my advice for you, because I don’t know, frankly, if you can change that. I would imagine you can, but again, for me to say, “Hey, be more generally confident,” “Be more naturally confident,” isn’t really going to do anything for you.

    The other type of confidence though is a different story, and it connects to a little bit to one facet of what I just mentioned, which is when you’re good at something.

    So, there’s another confidence, which is what I call “situational confidence”.

    To illustrate this, picture a group of your friends. Everyone’s different, but you have one person who’s maybe a bit more introverted, a little bit shy, not super expressive, not super outgoing, but in certain situations, maybe when a certain topic comes along or they’re engaging in a certain activity—something where they’re very experienced or knowledgeable or passionate—all of a sudden their personality shifts.

    There’s a marked shift where they become more expressive, they become more energized, more outgoing, and it’s because it’s in their comfort zone. It’s sort of in this situational sweet spot for them where they feel very confident. Even if they aren’t naturally confident across the board, when we’re in this specific milieu, or we’re focused on this specific area, they now become confident.

    And that’s what we want to do for freelance writing. We want to get you situationaly confident. The way to do that is to just do it a bunch of times. Whatever it is that you’re not confident about, you have to go engage in it and do it unconfidently enough times to where you become confident.

    Whether you achieve that level of situational confidence is purely based on your own activity. If you power through and do it multiple times, you will become confident. You have to accept that, “Hey, I’m not going to be confident initially, but if I keep doing this,

    • 9 min
    Write Bites Episode #12: Why Unhealthy Skepticism Will Derail Your Career

    Write Bites Episode #12: Why Unhealthy Skepticism Will Derail Your Career

    Welcome to Write Bites, an audio series where we discuss writing, marketing, and freelancing during one of my daily walks around the neighborhood.

    Audio Recording

    In Episode #12, I explain why unhealthy skepticism will f**k you up… and how to be a healthy skeptic instead.

     

     

    Transcript: Why Unhealthy Skepticism Will Derail Your Career

    Hi guys. Welcome to Write Bites, an audio series where we discuss writing, marketing, and freelancing during one of my daily walks around the neighborhood.

    In today’s episode, I want to talk about skepticism and why UN-healthy skepticism will f**k you up.

    Now, there is absolutely such a thing as healthy skepticism, and as I’ve mentioned before, freelance writers are constantly at risk of being scammed. So, you 100% need a healthy dose of skepticism to be a freelance writer. So, I’m not talking about that.

    Healthy skepticism, though, it’s not a passive thing, it’s an active thing. You have to do the work to do your due diligence and verify things. Skepticism without the work becomes unhealthy skepticism, and that’s what we’re going to address in this episode.

    It ultimately manifests in two ways. Let’s use a pretty common scenario online:

    So and so says, “Hey, I achieved this result and here is how I did it.”

    There are two ways that skepticism comes into play here in a way that will really screw you up as a freelancer, a solo entrepreneur, anyone trying to build a business that’s achieving unusually good results.

    The first one is, you look at the result and you just discount it:



    * “B******t, the guy’s lying.”

    * “Nah, that works for her, but it’ll never work for me.”

    * “Oh, they just got that because they’re super talented, or they had super-good connections or they were already super rich, or this, that or the other.”

    * “They got lucky.”



    Whatever it is, you look at the result and it’s some variety of, “I can’t do that,” or, “That won’t work.”

    And what you have to understand is this is your brain psychology at work. Your brain is seeing something that you have not achieved, and it’s feeling bad about that. Maybe it’s some sort of jealousy or envy, or it’s causing damage to your sense of self-worth in the sense like, “If they did that and I didn’t, unless I can come up with some sort of reason that feels better, I’m gonna interpret that as ‘I’m less talented,’ ‘I’m less ambitious,’” this, that, or the other.

    Basically, you’re going to feel s****y if you can’t find a justification. And that’s an unhealthy way of looking at things. If you allow yourself to operate through that lens, your brain is going to provide that justification, which often takes the form of discounting the result.

    I’m 100% in this boat, and honestly—to this day—it’s something I have to very actively suppress because I’m a very competitive person. When I see people achieving more than I’ve achieved, it hurts. If you’re someone who’s struggling to hit your first full-time income in freelance writing, you might look at me and think, “Oh hey, this guy is doing six figures. He’s doing better than pretty much everyone.”

    In reality, I’m one of the most under-performing people in my network, or was for a long time, especially because I’m working in the marketing space. I’m working with a lot of entrepreneurs, and marketing heads and CEOs, most of whom are doing seven figures.

    So, I deal with that exact same thing, it’s just kind of a maybe on a different scale. And it’s something I’ve had to learn…that if I allow myself to discount the result without doing the work,

    • 11 min
    Copywriting 101: What Is Copywriting & Why Is It Such A Big Deal?

    Copywriting 101: What Is Copywriting & Why Is It Such A Big Deal?

    Copywriting is always a bit confusing for people when they first hear about it.

    “Is it like, getting a copyright?”

    I’ve been copywriting for eight years, and my family still doesn’t have a clue what I do.

    Let’s pretend I didn’t write this solely to have something to link them to when they ask me for the 10th time.

    If you recently heard someone mention that they do “copywriting” for a living, and you thought, “Wtf What is copywriting?” this is the guide for you.

    I’ll explain what copywriting is and why it’s such a big deal (the biggest industry you didn’t know existed).

    Plus, I’ll even teach you the fundamentals (it’s a lot easier than it sounds).

    What Is Copywriting? The Simplest Copywriting Definition

    The simplest copywriting definition is this:

    Copywriting is the process of writing words intended to prompt action by the reader.

    Copywriting is always connected to the act of promoting or selling a business, organization, brand, product, or service, which makes it, by definition, a form of marketing.

    Here’s how a few other sources define copywriting:

    “Copywriting is the art and science of strategically delivering words (whether written or spoken) that get people to take some form of action.” – Copyblogger

    “Copywriting is the process of writing advertising promotional materials. Copywriters are responsible for the text on brochures, billboards, websites, emails, advertisements, catalogs, and more. Unlike news or editorial writing, copywriting is all about getting the reader to take action.” – AWAI

    “Copywriting consists of the words, either written or spoken, marketers use to try to get people to take an action after reading or hearing them.” – Hubspot

    “Copywriting is the skill — and field of work — where people write sales promotions and other marketing materials for products, services, fundraising campaigns, etc. It’s the craft of writing persuasive messages that prompt people to take action (buy something, inquire about a service, download a free eBook, donate to a cause, etc.).” – The Balance Small Business

    “Copywriting is the act or occupation of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing. The product, called copy, is written content that aims to increase brand awareness and ultimately persuade a person or group to take a particular action.” – Wikipedia

    If you read through each copywriting definition, you’ll notice that same core statement is present in every single one.

    Copywriting is writing designed to prompt action.

    Copywriting can take a wide variety of forms:



    * Advertising

    * Websites

    * Emails

    * Blog posts

    * Landing pages

    * Brochures

    * Presentations

    * Video scripts

    * Headlines

    * Product descriptions

    * Lead magnets

    * White papers

    * Etc, etc, etc



    What makes it “copy” is that it’s intended to drive an action.

    Sometimes, you want to drive an action immediately. This type of copywriting is referred to as “direct response copywriting”.

    Examples of direct response copywriting include:



    * A Twitter ad designed to get an ad click

    * A billboard designed to make you turn at the next exit and visit the establishment

    * A landing page designed to get an email signup

    * An email designed to get a message in “reply”

    * A product description designed to drive an “Add to Cart” click



    Sometimes, immediate action isn’t the goal. The reader might not be in the position to take immediate action when they see your copy, or having them take immediate action might not be the priority. This type of copy doesn’t have a snappy name, but the concept of marketing now for results down the road is essentially branding.

    • 13 min
    Write Bites Episode #11: What Freelance Copywriters Should Know In A Pandemic-Driven Recession

    Write Bites Episode #11: What Freelance Copywriters Should Know In A Pandemic-Driven Recession

    Welcome to Write Bites, an audio series where we discuss writing, marketing, and freelancing during one of my daily walks around the neighborhood.

    Audio Recording

    In Episode #12, I give my thoughts on navigating the pandemic as a freelance writer and what to anticipate if we head into a new pandemic-driven recession.

     

     

    Transcript: What Freelance Copywriters Should Know In A Pandemic-Driven Recession

    Hey guys. Welcome to Write Bites, an audio series where we discuss writing, marketing, and freelancing during one of my daily walks around the neighborhood.

    So today, I want to talk about the pandemic and initial/potential recession we’re looking at here and how it affects you as a freelancer. To begin, I want to look back at some of my predictions when this whole thing started, how it’s played out since, and then what I’m expecting moving forward including what you should be doing now and what you should be expecting.

    Let’s backtrack a bit and talk about, “What did we see at the beginning?”

    If you were on my email list, then I sent an email out and was basically just talking about how when the economy starts to decline, small businesses stop—for the most part—hiring freelancers, in general, but especially freelance writers. To some extent, we’re a little bit of an inelastic industry; were a somewhat recession-proof industry in the sense that people need writing, plain and simple. There’s no way around that.

    I think no matter how bad things get, people are going to be hiring freelance writers. But when we talk about small businesses—when the economy’s down—they tend to be hiring fewer freelancers.

    At the same time—and this is kind of what I was wanting to point out in my email to you guys—mid- to large-sized businesses actually will hire more freelancers, and the reason for this is because they stop making full-time hires and they start letting go of full-time employees.

    When you stop making those hires—when you’re letting those employees go—the things that you needed them to do don’t just disappear. Maybe certain parts of their duties that were always a bit superfluous stop getting completed. But the essential pieces still have to get done, and the cheaper option in the short term—which, when the economy is down, that is the name of the game: cheaper in the short term—is to hire freelancers.

    So, these mid- to large-size businesses start hiring more freelance writers.

    I’m going to tell you right now, there were companies hiring freelancers back in my early days that haven’t been hiring freelancers in five years, and within the next year or two, they’re going to start doing it again. Previously, they grew to the point that full-time hires made more sense. In the long-term, full-time/in-house is the better option. So it’s the cheaper, more efficient, higher upside option, a lot of the time. Not always, but a lot of the time.

    That was kind of the prediction I made: Small businesses: less; mid- to large-sized businesses: more. And that’s actually a good thing for us because mid- to large-sized businesses are the ones who pay more anyway. You’re going to start to see more of the higher price hiring projects, while maybe the lower price, small business stuff, less of.

    Just in terms of my own business, and what I saw: I had stopped doing freelance work for several months while I was finishing out my course, which I completed in March.

    With the pandemic happening, I was like, “Okay, who knows how selling, this thing is gonna work?

    I’ve never sold products in a recession, so I’m gonna take whatever freelance work comes my way,” and literally within half a month, I was back up to $15k a month in freelancing gigs.

    All the high-end leads that I had floating around all came in and were wanting these projects. They were all wanting content,

    • 11 min
    Write Bites Episode #10: Aren’t There Too Many Copywriters Already?

    Write Bites Episode #10: Aren’t There Too Many Copywriters Already?

    Welcome to Write Bites, an audio series where we discuss writing, marketing, and freelancing during one of my daily walks around the neighborhood.

    Audio Recording

    In Episode #10, I explain why market saturation is nearly always overblown, and why even an over-saturated market isn’t a true obstacle to your own personal success.

     

     

    Transcript: Aren’t There Too Many Copywriters Already?

    Hi guys. Welcome to Write Bites, an audio series, where we discuss marketing and freelancing during one of my daily walks around the neighborhood.

    Today I want to answer the question, “Aren’t there too many copywriters already?”

    And if you’re new to the field, if you’re an aspiring copywriter, this might be on your mind:

    “Am I too late to the party?” “I see copy writers everywhere.” “I hop on LinkedIn and search copywriter or Google copywriter, and I see thousands and thousands of writers.”

    Am I too late? Is the market already saturated?

    I’m going to answer this in two ways.

    First, we’re going to talk about what market saturation actually means, because it’s a very misunderstood concept, and it’s going to really affect any career or business decision you make throughout the rest of your life. I’d like to share a little something that I think will pay dividends for you, not just with this topic, but down the road as well.

    Secondly, we’ll apply that to the copywriting landscape specifically and discuss:



    * what we’re seeing right now in the market,

    * where it seems to be heading,

    * and what you should expect as the market continues forward.



    To start, what we really need to begin with is supply and demand. If you’re not familiar with this concept, I will try to include a visual on this page, because it does help to visualize it. Essentially, you have demand, which is how many people want something and how much of it they want, you have supply, which is how many people are supplying that thing—creating, delivering that thing—and how much of it they’re creating.

    And where those two things intercept, that’s kind of what dictates the price. The price will be determined to some extent via the manufacturing cost or the delivery cost, the true value of the product—the margins that are somewhat accepted within the field. But where the actual price falls isn’t super important here as much as how the changes in demand and supply are going to change it. And that’s really what we’re going to be discussing here.

    So as demand increases relative to supply, the price goes up because more people want it while there’s still the exact same number of suppliers. Now the suppliers can charge higher for it because more people are competing to purchase the limited supply. But the price doesn’t just stay high.

    What happens is new suppliers will typically enter the field to take advantage of the increased prices. As new suppliers come in, the supply goes up and that causes the price to go back down to kind of where it was before.

    What also can happen is you get so many suppliers coming in—people who are a little late to the party—and that causes the rates to drop even lower; once the rates are below where they were before, certain suppliers won’t be able to last in that environment, so they’ll drop out, and again, the price kind of comes back to where it was originally.

    That’s not typically a static thing. That’s an ongoing cycle that happens in virtually every field and industry. And we’re not talking about five people here, we’re talking about thousands and thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of people, millions of people, depending on how big the market is.

    The thing you really need to understand is that scenario happens everywhere in every market. So,

    • 12 min
    Write Bites Episode #9: How To Break Up With A Client

    Write Bites Episode #9: How To Break Up With A Client

    Welcome to Write Bites, an audio series where we discuss writing, marketing, and freelancing during one of my daily walks around the neighborhood.

    Audio Recording

    In Episode #9, I explain how to break up with a bad copywriting client.

     

     

    Transcript: How To Break Up With A Client

    Hey guys. Welcome to Write Bites, an audio series where we discuss writing, marketing and freelancing during one of my daily walks around the neighborhood.

    The question that I want to answer today is, “How do I break up with a client?” What we’re really meaning here is, “How do I break up with a bad client?” or just a suboptimal client.

    The first thing I would say here is:

    You need to know exactly why you’re breaking up with the client.

    Never let any decision be made based on a vague feeling about something. You need to really isolate the specific reason you’re wanting to take an action.

    When we talk about “How do I break up with client?” let’s first ask, “Why do I want to break up with this client?” The two biggest answers are usually going to be either:

    They aren’t paying enough, i.e. the pay is too low.

    You are unhappy with something related to how the client/freelancer interaction is going. Maybe they’re not paying on time, maybe they’re vague, maybe they require way too many revisions—stuff like that.

    If the issue is the pay, before you break up with the client, or maybe as part of breaking up with the client, what you should be doing is asking them for more money. Once you decide, “Hey, this project isn’t worth it,” if we’re talking about a recurring client—because really, if we’re talking about breaking up with the client, it’s always going to be a recurring issue, usually it’s just someone you’re working with repeatedly—so, if you decide, “Hey, this is too little pay,” the first thing you should do is you should try to just raise your rates with them.

    Just let them know, “Hey, my rates have gone up since the time we began working together. Starting at X date in the future (maybe at the end of the month) I’m no longer going to be able to continue working at the previous rate. I’d love to keep working with you, but if you’d like to continue, it’ll need to be at this new rate”

    That gives you a chance to retain the client and also suggest to them that your demand is going up—that a lot of other people are liking what you do. And if the client really likes your work and understands how much of a pain in the ass it’s going to be for them to have to go replace you with someone else, then there’s a very good chance they’ll raise your rate. It happens a lot more frequently than a lot of freelancers would expect.

    Now, let’s say it’s not a pay thing. Let’s say it’s related to the relationship. We had someone in Write Minds mentioning today that their client is always way overdue on payments. Someone else on one of our office-hours calls mentioned that the client will frequently give unnecessarily harsh and mean-spirited critique on their work, and it’s just very discouraging and causes doubts, and causes them to question their writing ability, and it’s just ongoing and it’s unnecessary; it’s not just normal critique. Stuff like that.

    It could be any number of things. Maybe it’s just something as simple as they have really strict editing processes and you’re kind of just getting to the point where you’re sort of over it. I’ve had that happen at times in the past as well. So, if it’s anything like that, then what you want to do is ask yourself, “Does it make sense to address the specific scenario?”

    For example, “Does it make sense to communicate, ‘Hey, I’m not going to continue work until you pay my invoices on time.

    • 11 min

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