Your brand in your words: Sharing value to establish authority
Q: Is there anything sacred in the attention economy?
You: My e-mail list is, since no algorithm can disable it. So I’m making the most of it.
Your newsletter has the power to:
- deliver plenty of value to a range of readers — including clients, prospects, and the curious of mind — in one tidy package
- let your readers bear witness to your growth and generosity
- represent your authority and your humility
- deliver quality content on a regular basis about what you do and why you do it
- inspire your readers to spread the word about who you are and why others should care.
Is there another element in your marketing mix that delivers so much value to your prospects and clients?
It seems unlikely. Newsletters are having a moment, and that moment looks quite durable.
You may have concerns, though, about the ROI of your newsletter. It takes time to write. Sometimes, a lot of time. Whether it’s been a few months or much longer, the writing process can be a real slog.
(Interlude: While I bring Usain-Bolt-like dedication to every project, I also really enjoy having a laugh with my clients. Let’s share one now. Some coaches might transition here to something like, “Writing can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.” That’s tidy, but it reminds me of one of my favorite rules for writing: avoid clichés like the plague.)
Instead, I like Margaret Atwood on writing well enough: “If I waited for perfection … I would never write a word,” along with Truman Capote’s complementary sentiment: “Good writing is rewriting.”
Writing can certainly be difficult, but it can also be so much fun.
The right tools help. So do the right strategies. The right coach can, too.
Interlude: Three of my favorite rules for writing
- Show yourself some compassion. To build the habit, enjoy the process, and start with honesty. If it takes you 15 minutes to get into your writing frame of mind, that’s fine. Schedule accordingly Schedule 15 minutes to settle in, 40-60 minutes for writing, five minutes for a reward of dark chocolate, and another 40 minutes of writing. A 30-minute block for writing is likely to end in frustration and self-recrimination. You get plenty of that elsewhere. Don’t build it into your writing process.
- For newsletter writers: start with a take-away lesson. Your readers want to get to know you and where you’re going. Identify a goal for your essay, get to the end of a draft, and then take stock of what’s in-between. If you’ve arrived a novel destination, that’s fine. Edit accordingly. But don’t edit along the way. Otherwise you risk Turtlewaxing one helluva shine from a paragraph that you drop from the essay.
- Use the primary sense of the word—especially when the word is “compose.” From the OED: “compose: v. 1. To put together, make up.” To write is to piece together. Identify a theme or a concept. Sketch out some ideas, even ideas used by others. And go. No one other than your pesky inner critic expects you to write with the perspicacity of Zadie Smith, or the deceptive simplicity of William Zinnser. (Does that comma belong after “Smith”? As a rule, maybe not. As a question of cadence, maybe so.)
The growth mindset of a coachable species
We humans have a near monopoly on collective knowledge. When we find people we like and trust, we can learn from them and, as a result, grow. We’re a coachable species. Not all lessons need to be hard won. Some of the best lessons come second hand.
As far as I can tell, none of us is born a writer. For years, I occupied the first stage of becoming a good writer: an aspiring writer. With the help of good mentors and plenty of good reading, I got better. In fact, in 2015, I even won a modest award for my book on The Clash and the punk scene in New York City.
To paraphrase growth-mindset-guru Carol Dweck, success is not about talent. It’s about patience and determination.
Test your writing now
In my editing process, artificial intelligence has its place. It’s a narrow, well-defined place, but a place nonetheless. It can’t take the place of a rigorous editorial eye, and certainly not my editorial ear. But it can give you a quick insight into the readability of your newsletter. If hemingwayapp.com is new to you, take a minute to check it out:
- Copy the body text of one of your newsletters and go to the site.
- Select all the text at hemingwayapp.com and paste in your copy.
- Now check the metrics. If you received a readability score of grade 7 or lower, nicely done. You’re in fine shape. If you’re at grade 8 or higher, especially grade 11 or higher, let’s talk. (In case it’s helpful: this page scores a grade 5.)
Let’s work together
I invite you to read some of my work, review my newsletter editing challenge, or look over my case studies. I hope you like what you see. I figure any writing coach is only as good as their best sample of writing.
Now, back to your work: based on your readability score above, you might need just a nudge from me to get you on your way. Or it might take a few nudges, some compassionate cajoling, and sympathetic side eye. Whatever it takes, with whichever package you choose, you’re going to get:
- same-day sharper writing
- plenty of encouragement, along with plenty of shared laughter, and
- guidance on how to make your pages sing.
As you might have guessed, I’m a music nutter, and I’m a big fan of musical metaphors.
Writing coach packages
#1: The Roadie
For this four-week tour, I make certain everything is tuned properly for your adoring fans.
With any relationship, it can be good to start slowly, so let’s get a month together to see how things feel. At your (virtual) side, I’ll help you sharpen the clarity, concision, and cadence of your writing, in order to help build your authority and expand your audience.
During our time together, you’ll get:
- edits and suggestions on four of your newsletters
- four zoom sessions, up to 60 minutes each, to review those suggestions and the principles behind them, and
- timely between-session support via email and telephone.
Sometimes all you need is a bit of fine tuning.
Ticket price — $1225
#2: The Accompanist
You’re the singer, and it’s your show. I’m the help, at the piano, and I’m here to ensure your next batch of compositions provides your fans with toe-tapping delight.
You know your niche. You deliver essay after essay with modest effort. You understand, though, that quality content is queen — or king. You need a second set of eyes (and ears) to help sharpen your writing. You want to work on your method, too, because you know it’s important to enjoy the process and the production.
Our sessions will focus on clarity, concision, and cadence, and the division of labor between your editorial eye, your editorial ear, and your AI editor.
During our sessions together, you’ll get:
- edits and detailed suggestions on seven of your newsletters (over six to eight weeks)
- seven zoom sessions (up to 60 minutes each) to review those suggestions, discuss the principles behind them, and ensure your headlines and subheads are sharp, sweet, and SEO smart
- timely between-session support via email and telephone, and
- reading assignments and writing prompts tailored to your needs.
Hire me as the accompanist to help bolster your brand, build your authority, and grow your audience.
Ticket price — $1,625.
#3: The Arranger
It can take more than an accompanist to help you with your thinking and your process, and to provide you with the steady compassion and accountability you need to succeed. You’re looking for someone to dig in deep with you in the creative process, and to help give shape to your voice and your method. At a leisurely pace, in the role of arranger, I help you enjoy the work more and use your time more effectively, so that you deliver the diligence and insight your audience has come to expect.
With this package, you get the full benefits of working with a veteran educator, a former academic dean, and an award-winning rocknroll writer. We begin, of course, with your voice. Which writers in your space do you admire? What are your favorite features of your written voice? What else would you like it to do — and why? Once we have identified the key strengths in your work, we’ll sharpen other features of your voice, and outline the best ways you can serve your readers. Who is your audience? How do they find you? What do they need you to deliver?
Likewise, we analyze your method for writing, in order to ensure that you are not building frustration into the writing process. That mistake provides even more psychic fodder for your inner critic. (It happens all too often, I’m afraid.) Early on, we devise a method together to ensure that you set reasonable goals—and stick to ‘em—over the course of our three-month collaboration.
Here’s exactly what you get with my top-tier package:
- editorial feedback on 14 pieces of writing over the course of four months
- real-time review of that feedback via Zoom (14 sessions, up to 50 minutes each — a $2,100 value), as well as a close review of the principles that inform my feedback
- tidy review of your headlines and subheads, to ensure they are sharp, sweet, and SEO smart
- timely between-session support via email and telephone, and
- reading assignments, worksheets and writing prompts tailored to your needs.
Hire me to help you get the proper arrangements in place, so that you develop a writing habit that keeps you happy. That happiness will show up in your writing. When that happens, your ROI rises, too, as you deliver even more value to your readers.
Ticket price — $2,650
What do you want your voice and your newsletter to achieve this year?
To learn more about my background as a writer and educator, click here.