Monthly Archives: November 2013

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Do you go shopping on Black Friday? I don’t like crowds so I’m not out shopping. But for YOU, here’s a $59 discount off my FANTASTIC “Publish Your eBook Blueprint Home Study Course”. In this course, you’ll learn everything you need to know to publish your book on Kindle and Nook.

Click the image or the course name to learn more about the program.

Just enter the coupon code FRIDAY at checkout.

Valid through 12/2/13.

I always get the best shopping ideas from the gift buying lists! Here’s a list of gifts for writers that I’ve compiled that are sure to thrill any writer on your list. Or maybe you’ll pick up a gift or two for yourself.

With the exception of my HIGHLY recommended leather journal, all items on this list are $25 or less!

FYI: The TITLES are the links to the products!

D’Vyne Wrytes Leather Journal

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I thought long and hard about suggesting a blank journal for the writer in your life. Frankly, we all have something that is “the perfect journal” and I always get a little cranky when I get a journal that doesn’t match that ideal. But Leslie’s stuff is just fantastic and I can’t recommend it enough. I have three or four of her journals!

This isn’t under $25 BUT it is 100% worth the investment!

 

Stephen King’s On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft

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I have a much loved, much dog eared version of the original. Even if you don’t like King’s terrifying stories, he offers fantastic insights into writing novels that can be applied to any type of writing.

Writer’s Block Mug

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Writer’s Block: when your imaginary friends stop talking to you
Because writers drink copious amounts of coffee!

Magnetic Poetry Kit

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Do me a favor, buy several different word kits! A great gift is to include these with a cookie sheet (double check the magnets stick) so your fav writer doesn’t even have to leave the desk!

Dark Chocolate Covered Marshmallows from Trader Joe’s

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Every writer knows that chocolate is brain food. And when it’s coating a light, fluffy, perfect marshmallow it’s a recipe for writing a few extra pages!

 

Paper Clip Earrings

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Hey, it’s better than putting REAL paper clips in your ears!

Scrabble

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Okay, okay MOST authors will probably already own Scrabble! Except for me. I use my parent’s board which is older than I am. Soooooo, if you’re looking for a gift for me, get me Scrabble!

 

William Shakespeare Air Freshener

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An air freshener by any other name would not smell as sweet as one decorated with the image of the immortal bard.

 

Typewriter Tote Bag

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I think this one is especially cute but any tote bag will be well received. Especially if you fill it liquid brains (aka liquor!)

Liquor

Offer up your writer her favorite brand of liquid brains and watch her eyes light up! Suggestions include:

  • Baileys (any flavor!)
  • Jack Daniels Honey Whiskey
  • Fat Tire Beer
  • Mojito mix and rum

Writer’s Unwinding Cocktail, aka Caramel Apple Tinis

Ingredients

  • Green apple vodka
  • Baileys® Caramel
  • Green apple slice (garnish)

You know how a shot measuring cup has a big side and a little side? You’ll use both sides for this recipe. 1 “big” shot (1 ounce) Baileys® Caramel. 1 “little” shot (0.5 ounce) green apple vodka. Stir gently.

If you are using a traditional shot glass without a measure marks, the ratio is 1 to 0.5 Baileys® to vodka.Garnish with a green apple slice if you have it.

From Camp Cooking 101: 101 Fun & Easy Recipes from The Outdoor Princess

Pencil Eraser Hats

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I love the idea of “stocking stuffers”. Pair these with some #2 pencils and a nice sharpener and you’ve got it made!

A gift card for a massage

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After spending hours at the computer, a massage is great! But don’t get a $25 gift card. Go whole hog and spring for a gift card worth a few massages.

Red Pens & Yellow Highlighters

112613-PenHighlighterBecause we use them a lot!

 

Edgar Allan Poe Action Figure

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Because he’d look cool on your desk!

 

Novelty Flash Drive

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These are food but there are HUNDREDS of possibilities out there!

 

Pencil Socks

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How cool are these?!

Fancy Paper Clips

112613-FancyPaperClipsWe all have a deep love of office supplies. But we probably won’t buy them for ourselves!

Jane Austin Temporary Tattoos

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Not interested in temporary tattoos? You can also get bandages!

Writer Pendant

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A way to subtly announce who you are!

The Complete Book of Baby Names

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I got my book of baby names in high school. THEN I had to explain why I had it! For characters, people! But a lot of writers won’t invest in this themselves and it’s a great resource!

Buy Their Book!

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As an author, most of the time my sales do not come from my friends and family. Be a peach and buy their book and then leave a positive review.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for products that I personally use and believe have value to my readers. When you make a purchase using my affiliate link, I earn a small commission. High-five for your support!

PS: All images belong to the websites in the links.

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I think one of the best types of articles I can post to my blog is an honest product review. And I’m not talking about a review for a product or service that you’ve contacted and begged them to send you a sample so you could write about it! (Although that type of review can be a ton of fun!) Nope, I’m talking about writing an honest review for a product or service that you use every day in your business.

Why?

Because I get asked all the time for my opinion about a service I use or how I do something. And I ask others for feedback and suggestions all the time as well. For example, just yesterday, I asked one of the business groups I belong to on Facebook for a recommendation for a service I could use to record a phone call with a client. Several options were tossed out but what really stood out was the comment: “Try XYZ. I’ve had great success and they’re easy to use.” Hello! Personal validation.

This wasn’t a suggestion from somebody who typed into Google: “What’s the best way to record a phone call with a client” and then gave me an answer. I can do that myself! It was a recommendation from one client of XYZ company to me.

What’s the difference between a testimonial and a review?
First off, a testimonial is posted on the other person’s website. Secondly, while giving testimonials is a GREAT way to gain exposure, thank a company for their product, and extoll all it’s virtues, a testimonial is by nature one sided: only the positive. A review, on the other hand, will talk about all the things you love about the product or service but also what isn’t so great. Maybe you love everything about it EXCEPT that you can only reach the customer service on Monday mornings from 9-9:45 am. Or that the software loads slowly. Or it has great functionality but only comes in three colors.

All that being said, your blog is NOT the place to be complaining about a product or service up one side and down the other and going on and on about how it didn’t work. Not cool! You wouldn’t want somebody to go on a public rant about you, right? If your review is really nothing more than a laundry list of everything that is wrong with the product, take that straight to the source and send your grievances to the company directly.

Be upfront about why you’re writing the review.
This is a BIG one! Offer up a disclaimer that says that you are writing the review because you wanted to, you use the product, and you weren’t compensated in any way. Unless, of course, you were. Then be honest.

I’ve written quite a few product reviews for my outdoor recreation blog over the years. Some were products that I was given to test and review and others were products I had purchased, used, and reviewed. There’s nothing wrong with a paid review (either money or product) but readers need to know if you’re walking into the event unbiased or not. AND there are laws that state that you need to disclose this information.

How to write the review:

  1. Give a description of the product. Explain how you got it — either bought it and use it or you are being compensated to review it.
  2. Then talk about it. In detail. Give examples of how you tested the manufacture’s claims. Did it do what you thought it would do? How well did it do? Would you buy it again? What would you change? What didn’t it do?
  3. Offer up photos (or screenshots!) of the product in use. Everybody loves to see how YOU are using the widget and it gives instant credibility that you actually do use and abuse the product.
  4. And then give ways that your customer can buy the product or service. Here’s where you need to disclose if you will make any money from that deal! Like if you are reviewing a product and you’re putting in an affiliate link. Say (affiliate link) so the reader knows. Again, laws govern this!

But, don’t be afraid to make money from your recommendations! Every month I STILL make a few pennies from products I reviewed years ago. But I NEVER write a product review because I’m planning on cashing in on sales. I write product reviews because I want to share an experience with a product!

And here’s another bonus for writing a product review. It’s a pretty easy way to create copy for your blog! A review of a product that you’ve used, loved and can recommend is a great article to post when you’re deep in the throes of writer’s block. Or pre-write it when you’re going on vacation. Just be sure you don’t turn your blog into a Consumer Report where all you do is review products! When I was posting something new 5 days a week to TheOutdoorPrincess.com (my outdoor recreation blog) I would shoot for one to two product review posts per month. Any more than that, I and I felt I wasn’t offering enough how-to information to satisfy my readers. I was being given products to test and write reviews on so I needed time to conduct the tests, write the article, allow the company to review it, and then get it posted.

As I’ve been marketing my ghost blogging services, I’ve been told a few times, “I don’t need a ghost blogger, I have guest bloggers.” This comment made me realize that maybe business owners don’t necessarily realize the differences between the two AND know the advantages of each.

Guest Blogger

A guest blogger is someone who has been invited (or offered) to write a guest post on your blog. Usually, a guest blogger will be an expert in their industry and will work in the same industry or a complimentary industry.

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Pros:

  • Using a guest blogger from time to time can give you a much needed break in posting. Lining up a guest on your blog is a great idea when you know you’ll be too busy to write great content, like when you’re launching a new product or going on vacation.
  • You can offer your readers a perspective on something that is outside your area of expertise. For example, I have a guest blog post coming up that is written by a healthy lifestyle and success coach. It will be about healthy, computer friendly snacks. This relates to what I write about since I assume that most of my readers and clients spend large amounts of time at the computer.
  • You can feature a client, business associate, or vendor and build your relationship with them. It’s a great way to help somebody else build their credibility by getting in front of your people.

Cons:

  • You don’t know exactly what you’re going to get when you ask someone for a guest article. Everyone can tell a story; not everyone can write well. I invited someone to guest on one of my blogs with a great story about a run-in with the Secret Service. The story was great but I had to massage the writing a bit to make it clearer. This meant that I didn’t really save any time from writing the post myself. (It is a GREAT story, though. Read it here.)
  • You can’t control the content. While you can request a topic at the end of the day, it’s up to the guest blogger to write the piece. That means that you may have an article that doesn’t share your views on a topic. Most of the time, a guest blogger will not use your blog for THEIR personal platform, but it does happen.
  • You’re readers aren’t reading your voice. Make sure that you clearly show that the post is a guest post so when the tone, style, and flow are different your readers don’t think you’ve gone off the deep end.
  • Be ready for missed deadlines. 99.9% of guest bloggers are super respectful of the deadline you’ve set. But sometimes life gets in the way and they just can’t make the deadline, forget, or otherwise get busy. And if you’re really counting on that content… it can be a challenge.

Ghost Blogger

A ghost blogger may not be an expert in your industry but he or she will be an expert in the written word, researching, and extracting the essence of what your expertise is and then writing about it.

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Pros:

  • A ghost blogger can save you a ton of time in the week-to-week posting on your blog. Instead of spending an hour or more each week to research, writing, and post your blog’s content you’ll spend an hour (or so) per month meeting with the ghost to outline the month’s content.
  • You still get to control the content! While a guest blogger will write about what you request, she will write HER perspective on it. A ghost writer will write YOUR perspective.
  • The content a ghost blogger creates for you will be a very close match to your writing style. It should match in tone, style, idiosyncrasies, word choice, etc. When you’re readers read it, it should still SOUND like you.
  • You can still post your own content! Just because you hire a ghost blogger doesn’t mean that you are no longer allowed to write your own stuff.

Cons:

  • It’s not free. A guest blogger will provide you a post for free, in exchange for a link on your blog. But a ghost blogger will need to be paid for the work.
  • It won’t be exactly how you do it. I look at it like loading the dishwasher: I can show my honey how I do it. He will do it almost like I like; maybe the plates will face the other way or the forks will be down instead of up. But at the end of the day, the dishwasher is loaded and run and I didn’t have to do it. Close to my way was pretty a-okay.
  • You don’t have to DO the work, but you still need to manage it. You need to make sure that your ghost blogger is meeting your deadlines, understanding what you want in your copy, and matching your writing “voice” as clearly as possible.
  • You have to surrender some control. You won’t be the be-all, end-all of your blog. You have delegated it to someone else. For some people, that’s really difficult and may not be worth the freed up time that a ghost blogger offers.

At the end of the day, both a guest blogger and a ghost blogger can save you time. The question is which will save you the most time and cause the least headaches!