"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

10 Things You Can do in 10 Minutes to Advance Your Writing Career Today!



---“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Many times we think that carving out a career in writing requires grandiose efforts, a great investment of time, or the equivalent of blood shed.

And for some creative pursuits, this may very well apply.

But, more often than not, it’s the small things, the cumulative efforts, the “light bulb” moments, the consistent habits, that squarely put us on the path to success and offer real results.

In fact, ask the average writer what challenges him the most, and you’re likely to hear that “there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done.”

Well, unfortunately, we can’t change the hours allocated to us.

But, we can alter our efforts and be more strategic in how we spend the time that we’ve got.

Best-selling author, L.J. Smith of the Vampire Diaries shares accordingly: “Try to write something everyday, even if it’s only a short entry in your diary.”

With this in mind, here are 10 things that writers of all levels and genres can do in 10 minutes to make inroads, make an impact, and advance their career. Little by little. So set your timers and get ready to count to ten.


CREATIVE “QUICKIES”


THE TASK:
“Tweet” a post or project.

THE TAKE-AWAY BENEFIT:
140 characters doesn’t provide parameters for a lot of meaningful expression. But used wisely, social media can put you on the map, allow you to network your way to your next freelance gig, and gain exposure to massive audiences. Tap into it to promote your upcoming novel, or as a call- to-action to support an important cause, or even to get folks to sign up for your free online classes. According to Hubspot.com, social media usage has increased by 356% in six years. The possibilities are endless!

THE TASK:
Comment on a blog post written by a fellow blogger.

THE TAKE-AWAY BENEFIT:
It’s a simple act that can have long-term results. Leaving a well placed, well thought out comment on the right blog can provide a “virtual paper trail” back to your site and cultivate new friends and followers. And I should know. It’s actually how I discovered new sites that I bookmarked, then ultimately followed and engaged with, after initial comments were made at my site. Sometimes “it takes so little to mean so much.”

THE TASK:
Add a signature line to your outgoing emails.

THE TAKE-AWAY BENEFIT:
How many emails would you say you send out in a day? A week even? 50? 100?
Or maybe you’re one of those folks that enjoys sending those funny chain mail jokes and prayers that require that the sender forward it to “10 other people to receive a special blessing by 10 p.m.”.
Each time you send an email message, there’s the potential of having your name, title and services appear before hundreds of potential clients or future blog readers.

Think of it as the law of return. And it’s free advertising.
Setting it up is relatively easy, too.
Simply sign in to your email account at Yahoo! Then click under “mail options”. From there select “signature”. Type in what you’d like yours to reflect, and remember to “save the changes”. In less than 10 minutes, it’s a done deal. Easy peasy.

THE TASK:
Beef up your Bio.

THE TAKE-AWAY BENEFIT:
Bios are similar in function to a resume. Written effectively, they can help to get you noticed, stand above the competition, and establish you as an expert in your niche area. And the good thing here, is most of us already have something written up. Now go one step beyond. Think brief, but substantive. Make sure to tweak it so it mentions any recent awards or noteworthy accomplishments. For bonus points, you should ideally create several--for different purposes. I keep one on file for blog jobs, another for ghostwriting gigs, and one for article directories as well.

THE TASK:
Work on a writing prompt.

THE TAKE-AWAY BENEFIT:
Writing prompts are great for getting the creative juices flowing. They can be developed into starting points for your next poem, contest entry, or personal essay. Here’s a neat site to try a few:
http://www.creativewritingprompts.com/
 
THE TASK:
Purge your Email inbox or clean your desk.

THE TAKE-AWAY BENEFIT:
Clutter clogs the brain and compromises your efficiency. It also has a tendency to create feelings of being overwhelmed and under the gun. In the spirit of spring cleaning, why not take a few minutes to trash spam messages, toss unwanted offers, and unsubscribe to those newsletters you no longer have the time or interest to read. It will help you to feel more organized and better equipped to tackle the other tasks on your “to do” list.   
 
THE TASK:
Place a “cold call”. Just one.

THE TAKE-AWAY BENEFIT:
The opportunity to drum up new business by making brief contact. (Be sure to have your “elevator pitch” ready.) About two years ago, I saw an ad on the back of our church bulletin from a local day care service. Believing I had nothing to lose, I contacted the owner the next week, ( after rehearsing at home) to find out if she had any marketing or freelance writing needs. After a 10 minute conversation, she asked me to give her a day to think about it. The next day she placed an order for business cards and blogging services. She remains an active client…still. You just never know until you try.

THE TASK:
Sign up for PayPal.

THE TAKE-AWAY BENEFIT:
PayPal is an online service that allows small business owners to accept online payments from across the globe, in addition to sending automated invoices and reminders to bill clients with less hassle. You won’t have to deal with “the check is in the mail,” at least theoretically speaking.

THE TASK:
Tap into the power of positive affirmations.

THE TAKE-AWAY BENEFIT:
Positive affirmations have been said to influence empowering thoughts. Champion boxer Muhammad Ali used to repeat, “I am the greatest” before stepping into the ring. Prepare yourself for daily “battle” by incorporating affirmations in your self-speak. “As a man thinketh, so it is.”

THE TASK:
Do some detective work. Find out what’s hot and what’s not by briefly browsing the magazine covers at the check-out stand at your local grocer. Make your waiting time count.

THE TAKE-AWAY BENEFIT:
This can bring a treasure trove of useful, marketable ideas. Like this morning, I went to a neighborhood store to pick up some cream cheese for a new recipe, and “picked up” some writing material as well. For example, a few magazines featured how to turn thrift store finds into attractive “vintage” items for your home. Summer fashions was another hot topic, and so was money management in today‘s tough economic times. Get the idea here?

 

As you can see, taking your career to new heights this year doesn’t require elaborate measures or a massive time commitment. Simply follow these leads…and count to ten!

Your turn.
Agree or disagree? Which one will you attempt within 24 hours?

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net



17 comments:

  1. I love these ideas! Sometimes just doing something - even something little - gets you through to the next big thing. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennifer Brown BanksApril 9, 2013 at 8:16 PM

      P.S.,

      And see...just by commenting, you've already executed one of my suggestions! LOL

      Delete
  2. Hi Christine,

    Thanks so much! It was a fun post to write, and I'm so glad you liked it. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was going to say the same thing: By merely leaving this comment, I've already completed a task! The next one I'll try is to work on a writing prompt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Way to go, Sarah! And just keep going... :-) Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  4. Now that company is gone - whew! - I can get back into writing whole hog. And this post has got me pumped! Thanks, Jen. Super advice as always.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Now that company is gone - whew! - I can get back into writing whole hog. This post has got me pumped! Thanks, Jen. All ten points are worth noting.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks, Sue. I'm sure you'll make the most of the suggestions here. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great suggestions! for what 'Beefing up a Bio' is concerned, I recently did make a few new improvements on my About Page.

    With putting up some 'Navigation' on that page, with links to some of the other pages, and also writing about Creating & Delivering Speeches. (with also some interesting info about how apparently Speakers can Cruise Travel for Free)







    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi H.P.,

      I've missed hearing from you. :-) Glad to reconnect today.
      I'll have to check out your "New and improved" About Me Page.

      Thanks for chiming in here. Much appreciated.

      Delete
  8. Great stuff, Jennifer! It's always nice to feel like you've accomplished something tangible and as a result, are moving forward.

    Happy weekend! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Karen. Always great to hear from you. :-)

      So often we celebrate the "big" successes, while neglecting to embrace "small victories" along the way.

      It all counts...

      Delete
  9. Great tips here, Jen. I uncluttered my email recently and feel more focused and less distracted by this or that email still sitting there in my inbox.

    Also, I take the advice, "try to write something every day," to heart, and have been doing just that. Like you said, we shouldn't overlook the "small" victories.

    Be well...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Janette,

      Give yourself a hand! :-) May you continue to progress in 2013. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your time and thoughts.

      Delete
  10. I could not resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!


    Feel free to visit my blog post :: calories burnt walking

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great tips on creative quickies. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Marcie. "Quickies" have value too.

      Delete