Viewing all posts by Heather Lloyd-Martin.

What Lou Reed can teach you about SEO writing

I was blown away the first time I heard, “Walk On The Wild Side.”

Were the lyrics a little controversial? Sure. To my 12-year-old brain, hearing songs about hookers and junkies was a big deal.

But it wasn’t the supposed scandalous content.

It was the storytelling.

“Walk On The Wild Side” is visual. It’s gripping. It’s powerful. When I heard the opening lyrics about how “Holly came from Miami F. L. A.,” I could picture her transformation. I could see the gritty bars, plucked eyebrows and strange back-room antics.

The music transported me. I wasn’t listening to the lyrics. I was involved in the story. 

As SEO writers, we can learn a lot from Lou Reed. When we’re cranking out content, it’s easy to ignore the story and focus on the facts. We work in the right benefit statement at the right time. We write lists in bullet-point fashion because we know it’s better for readability. We put the perfect keyphrases in the perfect places.

But do we write with passion? With purpose? Do we really tell a visual story – or do we skim the surface and hope the reader will fill in the blanks?

My challenge to you – for just one day, throw out everything you know about copywriting. Tell the story instead. Don’t focus on the mechanics. Focus on how the widget has transformed a business. How a service helped save a life. Think visual rather than factual (for more information on writing more visually, check out this great post by Roger Dooley.)

(And if you’re a B2B company, don’t tell me that storytelling doesn’t work. It does.)

Got the story down? Good. Now, go back and seed it with “proper” form, keyphrases and paragraph structure.

My guess? Your writing will be more powerful. More visceral. And convert better, too.

R.I.P, Lou Reed. You may be gone, but your songs live on.

And your writing lessons do, too.

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How to make more money as a freelance copywriter: 20 tips

Yes, you can make more money as a freelance copywriter. Really!

Yes, you can make more money as a freelance copywriter. Really!

Do you feel like your freelance writing income is stuck in low gear – and you’re looking to rev up your profits?

Making more money can be easier than you think. Here are ways to make it happen:

1.  Raise your rates. If you haven’t increased your freelance copywriting rates lately, now may be the time. Here’s how to do it without alienating your current customers.

2. Check in with your current clients. You’ve already built a relationship with these people – why not leverage it? A quick “how can I help you?” email may help you gain new work.

3. Ask your current clients for referrals. If your clients already love you, why wouldn’t they recommend you to their colleagues? Even just one referral could net some great new business.

4. Create package deals. If you’re a blogger or a freelance copywriter, you could bundle your services so people buy them in bulk (say, 10 blog posts every month.) Some clients prefer to purchase content this way, so it could drive more money your way.

5. Set up ongoing contracts. If clients are consistently purchasing 10 blog posts every month, why not put them on an ongoing retainer (you could even give them a small discount.) You know you have ongoing freelance income every month, and the client gets a good deal. Win/win!

6. Educate yourself. When’s the last time you got trained in an advanced subject (like SEO copywriting … hint, hint). The more you know, the more you can charge – and the better caliber client you can attract.

7. Change up your target market. Are you stuck charging lower freelance fees because your target audience can’t pay for more? Don’t get mad. Pivot your business. It may be time to find clients with more money to spend.

8. Boost your confidence. Do you feel weird answering the question, “How much do you charge?” It’s time to get over it. Here’s how.

9. Fire energy-sapping clients. This is never easy to do, but it’s often necessary. The good news is, you’ll have room for new (higher paying) clients when you can prune the bad ones. Here are some things to think about.

10. Don’t give your current clients a reason to fire you. Have you been a little … flaky? A fast way to lose money is if your clients start slowly fading away. Here’s how to prevent the dreaded, “We can’t use you anymore” email.

11. Join Google+ and get set up with authorship. Yes, I know this is a pain (especially if your market isn’t on Google+ … yet.) But the rewards are well worth it. Here’s what Eric Enge has to say about it.

12. Do outstanding work that gets results. Clients want to work with proven SEO copywriters – and testimonials, case studies and before-and-after screen shots can help seal the deal.  Here are some tips about how to make your testimonials more powerful.

13. Find a niche you love and specialize. Both Bob Bly and Pam Foster discuss this technique in the Copywriting Business Bootcamp training.

14. Get out of the house and network. I’m guilty of hiding behind my computer most of the time. However, I know that actually seeing people in public (gasp) can help drive business my way. Try to get out at least once a month. More if you can.

15. Don’t forget to network with other writers, too. You may see them as “competition,” but they can also be trusted colleagues. Other writers may refer a gig to you that doesn’t fit their existing client/work base. Just don’t forget to return the favor.

Other feedback from the SEO Copywriting Facebook group and Google+ …

Improve your skills and offer new services – like press releases or content audits as an easy add-on to your existing services. – Courtney Ramirez

Don’t be scared of putting your prices up, even with customers you have had for years. Times change and so must prices. – Craig Wright (@straygoat).

It’s not about marketing, as much as it is about building the right relationships. – Tania Dakka (@TaniaDakka).

Get amazing results. – Daniel Iversen

Don’t be afraid to charge professional prices. – Steve Maurer (+Steve Maurer).

Save almost $50! Learn the secrets behind the why some freelance copywriters rake in the bucks. And yes, you can do it, too! Check out the Copywriting Business Bootcamp and use coupon code SECRETS. Sale expires 11/13/13

Feeling stuck? Read this.

The Edmonds, WA waterfront. One of my favorite "thinking places."

The Edmonds, WA waterfront. One of my favorite “thinking places.”

Is your gut  filled with sharp stress knots? Do you feel so stuck that you feel there’s no way out?

I feel your pain. I’ve been there. And it’s not fun.

There are times in your professional (and personal) life when things seem completely hopeless.

- You hate your job, yet you can’t see a way out. You need the security.

- The phone isn’t ringing and you’re seeing your bank account dwindle to almost nothing.

- You’re facing a midlife crisis with your business and the things that used to be fun aren’t fun anymore.

- Life isn’t quite clicking for you and you don’t know why.

Things don’t start out feeling stuck. At first, it’s almost a fun challenge. You may say, “Hey, I have to figure out new ways to generate income. How bad can that be?” Or “I’m sure I can launch my own business. I just need to make it happen.”

Days drag into weeks (and sometimes, into months.) That sharp stress ball in your gut gets bigger. That stuck feeling gets larger. You dig your heels in, work longer hours and do what you can to fix your situation.

(And deep down, you find yourself obsessing over your “problem” and wondering what’s wrong with you.)

There is nothing wrong with you. Really. This is all part of the process.

I’m a “dig in” kind of person. Being the control freak I am, I like to think that I can change a situation through working harder. Sometimes, it works. When it comes to longer-term “life issue” stuff – it backfires. I get more stressed, more tired and feel even more stuck.

Maybe you’ve felt the same way.

Recently, I was going through my own stuck situation. In retrospect, it doesn’t seem like a big deal now – more like a mini midlife crisis. Maybe it was because it was near a big birthday. Or maybe because other background things were going on. I may not have talked about it much, but it was there … just beneath the surface.

So I’d obsess. And work. And obsess some more. Not fun.

In a moment of clarity (thank you, floatation tanks,) I had a vision. I thought of my favorite place – the ocean – and how I like watching the tide gliding in and out.

(For more information about the benefits of “floating,” check out this interview I did with The Nation.)

I realized that life was just like that. Sometimes, the tide is in and everything is clicking. Things are easy and effortless.

But then the tide goes out again. Just because the water is “gone,” doesn’t mean it’s not coming back. It’s just taking a pause and gathering energy. That energy and force rushes in again. It always does. I just have to be patient.

Did my breakthrough change my situation? No. But it did change my perception of the situation. I felt lighter and in more control. I was able to focus on other things outside of my current stress. I stopped working so hard and worked smarter instead. I focused more on gratitude and abundance rather than fear and lack.

And you know what? I can feel the tide slowly gathering force and coming in again. I can’t quite tell what the final result looks like yet, other than it feels good and happy.

Happy is good. What’s more, I feel centered enough to notice the switch and be grateful for it.

So, if you’re feeling stuck, know that your situation can change. It may not change today or on your preferred timeline. Your tide may still be out.

But it will come back, stronger than ever. And you’ll be stronger than ever. Trust me.

Want to get your copywriting career off the ground, but you need a little push? Do you have an existing copywriting business but things just aren’t clicking? Let me help! Check out my Copywriting Business Bootcamp training – now with monthly calls!

 

FUD, Hummingbird and the future of SEO copywriting

HummingbirdSo, Google’s Hummingbird algorithm has officially taken flight.

And it’s amazing how many people have their collective panties in a knot because of it.

If you’re not familiar with Google’s latest algorithm, here’s what Danny Sullivan reported:

“Google said that Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.”

I’ve been asked a number of times, “Well, what does this mean to SEO copywriting? Is it officially dead? Do I need to do things differently?”

Here’s my take…

Feel the FUD and write on

Any Google tweak causes a certain amount of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt.) Granted, this is a major overhaul – so the anxiety levels are heightened. But for those of us who have always created quality, customer-centered content … it’s business as usual. Danny reports:

“In fact, Google’s saying there’s nothing new or different SEOs or publishers need to worry about. Guidance remains the same, it says: have original, high-quality content. Signals that have been important in the past remain important; Hummingbird just allows Google to process them in new and hopefully better ways.”

Cool, right?

But notice the words, “original, high-quality content.” They’re important.

Sadly, many people have looked for SEO copywriting shortcuts. And for a long time, those shortcuts worked. Stuff the content full of keyphrases? Sure. Write stupid copy that doesn’t even make sense? Awesome. Create a press release with five gazillion spammy links and syndicate it all over the place? Why not?

Now some companies are scrambling. Their quick-fix content bandaids haven’t worked since the Panda update. With this latest announcement, they don’t know what to do, where to place their keyphrases – heck, even if they should bother researching keyphrases. Hummingbird has officially freaked them out.

But really, it’s so simple. It’s always been about developing commanding SEO content, “clicking” with your reader and writing content that’s so damn good, people can’t help but like it.

So, to me, Hummingbird is, to quote the Talking Heads, “same as it ever was.” In fact, I believe it offers us a tremendous amount of freedom. We can release the stranglehold keyphrases had on our content and focus on writing spectacular stuff.

Yes, we still want to include keyphrases (users look for them too – not just Google.) Yes, we still want to write clickable Titles and descriptions. But instead of writing content “that Google likes,” we should focus on our reader.

You know, like it’s always been (but people never believed it was true.)

The new SEO content paradigm

Many of Google’s algorithmic tweaks (beginning with the Panda update) sparked a major paradigm shift for some companies. The day of SEO content being a commodity is officially over - at least it is if you’re smart. In the past, clients have been able to push rates down because Google has rewarded poor content.

That’s not going to fly anymore.

Instead of asking, “How can we source this content for the least possible cost,” the new question is, “Who is the best writer who can connect with our audience? Who can help strategize our site content, write great copy and help us build better online relationships?”

The conversation is slowly changing. And that’s pretty exciting.

This also ties into Google Authorship. Niche writers with a major Google presence are going to command more money because they deserve it. They know their writing can increase conversions, increase rankings, receive more social shares – and will stand the test of Google time.

That’s pretty exciting, too.

Baby, don’t fear the Hummingbird

If you find yourself FUDing all over the place, relax. Hummingbird has been live for around a month, so if you’re not seeing major positioning burps – you’re probably fine.

But let’s go back to that reality check.

Remember the key is writing excellent content that connects with your readers. Content that answers their questions, makes them smile and establishes you as a trusted resource. This is more than “writing content for Google” and producing the bare minimum. It takes work.

There’s no shortcut. You won’t be able to trick Google into thinking your content is relevant. You can’t put content on the back burner.

But if you focus on building relationships through your writing, what you will have is a top-positioned site. And one that makes you more money than ever before.

Isn’t it time to spread your content wings and fly?

Is your site content what Google really wants to see? Are you sure? Don’t stay confused – get educated instead. I can customize an SEO content strategy and training for your team. Find out how!

Are you sabotaging yourself?

This is right after I crossed the finish line. I'm soggy, but happy.

This is right after I crossed the finish line. I’m soggy, but happy.

Last Sunday I ran my first 10K.

Running has always been a bit…challenging…for me. Sure, I learned to embrace it and run the occasional 5K. But a 10K seemed impossible. That’s 6.2 miles. Of running. Wow.

In a fit of stubbornness, I signed up for my first 10K a few months ago. Had I ever run 6.2 miles? Nope. But I thought, “Hey, I can do this. I can build up my mileage. Six miles is nothing!”

Then things started to change.

From super-motivated to “meh.”

Sure, I jumped into training with both feet (ha!). But soon, I could feel myself losing momentum. Running didn’t feel good. I went from training three or four times a week to running once – maybe. I started making excuses why this particular 10K was a bad idea. “It’s three days after my move.  I have to travel three days after that. I really need sleep more than anything else.”

I came this close to quitting. Many times.

The day of the race, I was sick. Not just a little sick. Really sick. Another perfect excuse to quit.

But I didn’t.

Thanks to the encouragement of my wonderful husband, I got up at 5:30 on a blustery Sunday morning and we made the 45-minute drive to the race site. I may not have run a 10K before, but I successfully made it through the race. I even had a decent average mile pace – which is pretty impressive considering much of the run was uphill or on a muddy and slick trail.

When the reality of “I finished and I didn’t die” kicked in, I was pumped! I successfully broke through what I thought was my upper limit.

(And I didn’t feel sick anymore. Go figure!).

What’s the lesson here?

After the run, I started thinking about this situation in terms of personal development. How many times do we set a goal and sabotage ourselves? For instance:

- I want to make more money this year, but I keep taking low-paying gigs because I’m afraid I won’t see another lead for a long time.

- I finally landed a great client, but I blew the deadline and lost the gig.

- I would love that job, but I forgot to apply on time. Besides, I wasn’t really ready for it. Maybe next time.

- I planned a great vacation, but then I got sick. So much for my vacation.

Sound familiar?

The reality is, these are limits we put on ourselves. They are not real. We build these walls in our minds and refuse to tear them down. We make excuses, self-sabatoge (like I did by not training,) and tell ourselves why we can’t have something.

And that’s just stupid.

If someone else said, “I don’t think you’re worth more than $100 a page,” we’d probably say something like, “Oh yeah? Watch THIS.” And then prove them wrong. But it’s funny how we don’t do that when it’s a limitation we put on ourself.

It’s breakthrough time!

This is what’s called an “upper limit” problem. Marie Forleo defines it as this:

Each of has an internal thermometer for how much success, wealth, happiness, love, and intimacy we’ll let ourselves experience.  That’s our upper limit setting.  Kind of like our success comfort zone.

When we exceed our internal thermostat setting and life gets super duper OMG good (we have an influx of money, get healthy and thin, find a great relationship) – we unconsciously do things to sabotage ourselves, so we can drop back to the old, familiar place where we feel in control.

(For more information about this, check out the book The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. It’s a good one!)

Yes, this is a part of the process (and achieving greatness.) But you have to hang with it.

Consider where you may be self-sabatoging your success. You may have to get quiet – really quiet – to hear those voices inside your head saying you aren’t quite good enough. When you can hear them, tell them to take a hike. You’ve come this far, dammit – and you’ve got a long way to go, baby.

You can break through. Trust me.

And damn, it feels so good when you do!

Hurry! Just five days left to save 25% on the SEO Copywriting Certification training  - use coupon code SEPTEMBER. Offer good through September 30th, 2013.

 

Does your SEO copy leverage the rule of three?

I originally wrote this post in 2009. Since it’s such a timely topic (I’ll be talking about advanced writing tips during SMX East 2013,) I wanted to dust off the post, revise it and make it just like new. If you’re in NYC October 2nd, I’ll be talking about what writers can learn from neuromarketing, consumer psychology and direct response copywriting. I hope to see you there!

Is three really the magic number?

I’ve gone on stage for over 15 years talking about how people retain things when they read or hear them in “threes.”  Think of the “Conjunction Junction” song from Schoolhouse Rock “Thinking about words and phrases and clauses.”  Or the special summons in the movie “Beetlejuice” (Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!.)  Or how many informercials repeat the same benefits at the beginning of a segment, in the middle, and at the end.

When I was attending college, my professor told me how to write a scientific journal article: Tell them what you’re going to discuss, discuss it, and summarize the discussion. I’ve obviously never forgotten the advice.

The rule of three is one of those things that are so ingrained in how we, as individuals, think that we don’t even notice the repetition. But it does help drive important information deep inside our brains. According to Sean D’Souza’s post “Harness the Psychological Power of “3″ to Improve Communication:”

“The brain finds it relatively easy to grasp threes — elements, colours and fonts. Push that marginally up to four and the brain gets confused about where to look and what to do, and sends the eye scampering like a frisky puppy on a sunny day.

So why does this happen? For that we might have to go back a little to diaper country. As a child, everything you did and learned seemed to be centered around three — A,B,C; 1,2,3; Three blind mice, Three musketeers, Trinity, Three Stooges and Huey, Louie and Dewey. (Quack! Quack! Quack!)”

Another study from the University of Minnesota found that “decision making is simplified when a consumer considers a third, less attractive option” (they call it decoy marketing.)

Plus, this video has examples of “rule of three” taglines (threes seem to be everywhere!)

So yes. Three does seem like a magic number.

Your challenge: Blend the rule of three with your SEO copywriting

Consider this in terms of your SEO copywriting and online content creation.  How can you use the rule of three to your advantage?

  • Create a catchy three-part tagline (“Free shipping. Awesome service. Just for you.”)
  • Separate your copy into three paragraphs
  • Provide three product or service choices (think of the decoy method.)
  • Use “threes” within your copy ” to show action and excitement (“ready, steady, GO!”)
  • Limit your bullet points to just three (oops…but I think you get the idea!)

Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below. It’s an easy tip to implement. It’s fun. And it will change how you write SEO copy.

Limited-time sale. Save almost $200 on the SEO Copywriting Certification training. Register today – start immediately.

Your home page isn’t the (only) problem

Pig

Nope. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

My father was fond of saying, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

The meaning? You can only work with what you’ve got. If you’ve got nothing, dressing it up and make it look pretty won’t help.

I’m reminded of this every time a prospect asks if I’ll just rewrite their home page – and not touch the rest of their site copy.

Sometimes, the prospect is convinced that a few home page keyphrase tweaks will help their entire site’s SEO. Or, they know their home page is dull and ineffective – and they hope that adding some “conversion punch” will drive more leads (or make more sales.)

Sadly, this is rarely – if ever – the case.

It’s true that your home page is an important page. It’s like your virtual storefront, showing your prospects who you are, what you do and how you can help.

But the goal of your home page isn’t to immediately make a sale. It’s to guide people your product or service pages.

And that’s where the real conversion (and positioning) magic lives.

There are three major holes in the “rewriting our home page is the magic bullet” theory:

- It’s often more important to focus on your “money pages.” What product or service pages generate the most income?  Rewrite those first. When I set an SEO content strategy, I outline the top pages that will help “move the needle” the fastest. That way, you’re seeing immediate improvement in the areas that make you the most money.

(Note that I said “money pageS.” Rewriting a subcategory page by itself probably won’t work. Rewriting an entire section can definitely help.)

- In a perfect world, prospects land on your inner pages – not your home page. If people are searching for a certain product or service, you want them to find the landing page specific to their query. Not your home page (where they would have to search again for what they want.)

- Rewriting the home page – without touching any of the inner pages – typically doesn’t work. Have you ever seen a poorly-done house addition? The new addition tends to stand out like a sore thumb and doesn’t flow with the rest of the design. Web copy is the same way. One really good page won’t make the rest of your site read better by default. This kind of user experience can be jarring and actually decrease conversion rates.

Does this mean that you have to rewrite every page at once? No. The first step would be setting a strategy, determining the pages that need “fixing” and setting up a sustainable rewrite plan. If that means you rewrite a few pages a month – fine.  At least there’s an ongoing progress.

Will it take work? Sure. Is it worth it? Yes. If you’re on the fence, I challenge you to set up your own SEO content rewrite strategy (or hire someone who can help.)

You’ll be amazed at the difference. Really.

Did you hear the news? The 25% off sale for the SEO Copywriting Certification training runs through September 30th. Get trained, have fun and write better web copy. Learn more!

 

 

Yes, you do need an SEO copywriting strategy. Here’s why

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-selective-focus-map-chicago-image7356870Imagine this:

You suddenly decide to move to Chicago. Instead of lining up a job and doing your due diligence, you immediately jump in the car and start driving. You don’t take anything with you. Nor do you check Google Maps and figure out your route. You just point the car and go.

Would you make it to Chicago? Eventually. Would you make a lot of wrong turns (and probably cost yourself a bunch of money along the way?) Most likely. And you still wouldn’t have the results you wanted (a great paying job.)

This analogy reminds me of clients who don’t have an SEO copywriting strategy. They may know what they want (higher rankings and better conversions.) But they don’t have a plan to make it happen. They don’t revise their keyphrase research, check their customer persona and ask questions. Instead, they rewrite a bunch of pages hoping that something will do the trick.

When the results aren’t what they want, they blame the writer. Or they blame Google. Or their competition. But they very rarely point the finger at themselves and admit, “Yeah, we didn’t really know what we were doing.”

If this sounds familiar, it’s time to take a step back. When you’re moving to a new city, “taking a step back” means planning your driving route and making some initial employer contacts. When it’s around your website, it means asking questions and doing research.

Here are some SEO copywriting questions to ask:

- Are the current pages converting? If not, why do you think that is?

- What is the per-page keyphrase research strategy? When’s the last time you researched your keyphrases?

- What are the overarching company benefits? What about the specific product/service benefits?

- Who is coming to this page? Is it an admin assistant who is gathering information for his supervisor? A time-challenged COO? What do they need to see to feel comfortable with the content?

- What phase of the buy cycle is your prospect in when they reach a certain landing page?

- What do you want people to do when they reach your landing page? Is there a secondary goal (like subscribing to your newsletter?).

- What are the upsell opportunities?

- What products/services make your company the most money?

Getting good answers to these questions takes time – it’s not something you can accomplish in a couple hours. Having said that, if you’re planning to outsource, it’s a great way of separating the so-so copywriters from the smart ones. Good copywriters won’t start writing without an SEO copywriting strategy in place – they know the results won’t be what you want.

(As a side note, master SEO copywriters can often handle this phase for you. It can be useful to have someone outside your company create your campaign.)

Your SEO copywriting campaign is important. Take the time, develop an air-tight strategy and do it right.

You’ll be glad you did.

Save 25% on the SEO Copywriting Certification training through September 30th, 2013 – just use coupon code SEPTEMBER. Or, if your team is overwhelmed, my writers can help create top-converting content. Contact me for details.

Overcoming the overwhelm monster

Overwhelm monsterThis is an “oldie-but-a-goodie” post that I published about three years ago.

Here’s why I’m sharing it with you again…

Right now, I find myself launching a new site, moving my home and office, working on two separate client trainings and developing a presentation for SMX East. I have about three weeks to finish it all.

I found myself getting cranky, stressed out and tired. Then I realized – duh – I should take my own advice and re-read this post.

It helped me. And I hope it helps you too.

Enjoy!

Yesterday, I realized that I had way too much Web writing stuff to do.

OK, granted. This is not an abnormal occurrence. Anyone who knows me knows that I tend to have multiple irons in the fire. I like to be busy.

But yesterday, was different. I had a bunch of Web writing projects – new home page copy for my site and new email autoresponders. I also had a client project and a conference PowerPoint to complete (SES Chicago is right around the corner.)

I was busy (Sound familiar? I bet you have your own super-busy story to share.)

Unlike most days when I buckle down and just do it, yesterday was different. My inner Heather-child was having a temper tantrum. It was too much stuff. I didn’t have time to finish it. I messed up and packed in too many deliverables in one day.

(OK, that last one may be true…)

If you could look inside my brain, you’d see me kicking and screaming and saying, “Nooooo!”

Why? Because I let the overwhelm monster get the best of me.

The reality is, I’ve worked this pace before. I actually thrive on it. However, I made a few crucial errors that pulled me out of the flow and allowed time for the overwhelm monster to sneak in and grab me. Here’s what happened – and here’s what you can do.

  • I was forcing myself to work when I wasn’t “on.” I can write a kick-butt sales page in 60 minutes. Or, it will take me six hours if I’m not in the flow. One of the hardest things to do (but oh, so important) is to pull away from the computer when the writing isn’t flowing. If you’re sitting slack-jawed in front of your laptop, you’re not working. You’re wasting time. Stop it.
  • I was working without any downtime. When I’m in a creative flow, nothing can stop me. I can wake up at 6 a.m. and work until 8 p.m. and not even notice that it’s dark outside. That pace works for so long, but it’s not sustainable. Unfortunately, I felt like I had to “make up for lost time” and push that creative flow a little harder. That was dumb.
  • I wasn’t making lists. Lists are a SEO copywriter’s best friend. You can get stuff out of your head, track your progress and have that sublime feeling of satisfaction when you cross things off. If I keep everything in my head rather than committing it to paper, it makes it hard to “turn off.” I keep thinking, “Don’t forget to…” and “I need to remember this tomorrow.” What’s worse, I was thinking about stuff like that at 3 a.m. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think anyone has “happy thoughts” at 3 a.m.

Fortunately, I wasn’t a complete dunce. I did keep up on a few things – and I think having some self-care foundation helped me slay the overwhelm monster faster. Those were:

  • I exercise. A lot. It helps me sleep, it keeps me fit – and most importantly, it burns off my stress. I may not like running three miles. But I do like the runner’s high that comes after it. When you have your nose thisclose to a monitor all day, you gotta do something to move.
  • I eat well.  I learned my lesson the hard way around this one. I used to drink about 6-8 shots of espresso a day. Plus use yummy treats like donuts to spike my blood sugar and force a writing focus. Not anymore. After my doctor had a little talk with me (the word “hospital” was used,) I realized that I was revving my engines way too much. Now, I eat a lot of protein. I monitor my carb intake. I avoid sugar – mostly. And I feel way, way better.
  • I’m learning how to balance work and play. Some folks would work all the time if they could. I am one of them. However, my work is fresher and I’m feeling happier when I pull myself away from the keyboard and do something fun. Maybe that’s a walk. Maybe it’s a movie. Maybe it’s lunch with a friend. I used to feel guilty about “taking time away from work.” Now I know – activities like that enhance our work. Not detract from it.

The good news is, I got all my work done. The overwhelm monster almost got me this time. It was close. Fortunately, I was able to pull away from the computer, cook a good meal and take a little downtime. By the time I got back, the writing just flowed…and the overwhelm monster was nowhere to be found.

What about you? What techniques do you use when you feel the overwhelm monster creeping up on you?

Taking my own advice…

Give yourself a writing break now and then!…and taking a break from writing.

This past week has given me a much-needed hiatus, allowing me to replenish the creative reservoir.

If you feel like you’ve been running on creative fumes, consider giving yourself a break. It doesn’t have to be a matter of weeks – and often that isn’t an option. But even giving yourself a few days away from the keyboard will allow room for new ideas, fresh perspectives, and unexpected sources of inspiration.

Try it! You’ll be glad you did.

Will be returning to my own keyboard next week – until then, take care and have a fantastic weekend!