Freelance Work

Readers! Kind of figured this just may warrant a look see. What do you think?

Good Day Scribes, this could really be valuable.

background image 146

While browsing the web in search of royalty-free graphics, I came across a source described this way:

This site does not host one unattractive image, it is rammed full with outstanding landscapes and breath-taking scenes of nature.

What? Surely this blogger meant to say “crammed full.” Surely, no one else is confusing the verb ram with the similar verb cram, I thought.

ram: verb. to force or drive down or in by heavy blows.

cram: verb. to fill (a receptacle) with more than it properly or conveniently holds, by force or compression.

True, the action described by cram may include a certain amount of forcing, but the difference is that between pounding sand down a rat hole and mashing another T-shirt into a drawer.

As I always do when encountering a usage that strikes me as odd, I searched to see if other writers were using ram in contexts that I thought called for cram.

To my surprise, I found plenty of examples. Here are three.

We booked the Catalina Island trip instead with the local diving company. Much more exclusive and not rammed full of tourist boats.—Tripadvisor comment

In theory I’m lucky with storage. I have a lovely chest of drawers, another less lovely but perfectly functioning set of drawers and a large bookcase. All of course absolutely rammed full.
—Personal blog

Search Engine Land’s own Mobile SEO Search section is rammed full of useful posts – everything from mobilegeddon to ranking factors and app indexing.—Personal blog

Convinced that ram for cram was indeed a thing, my next destination was the Ngram Viewer. There I saw considerable activity for “rammed full” dating from 1800. However, as useful a tool as it is, the viewer does not distinguish between changed meanings. It is possible, however, to get a notion of when meanings changed by consulting the sources offered for different decades.

The Oxford English Dictionary does have this example written by Lady Bury in 1840: “I always ram my clothes into a box,” but the Ngram sources I consulted used ram for such actions as using a ramrod to load a firearm or using a hammer or other device to pound soil to make it firmer or to force a substance like sand into a cartridge or other industrial receptacle. The first uses of rammed in the sense of crammed that I noted begin to occur in the 1990s.

Evidence that I’m not the only one to question the use of ram in some contexts is the fact that, for at least one of my examples of ” misuse,” the Spelling and Grammar feature in Word flags “rammed” and suggests “crammed.”

Merriam-Webster’s ram entry gives crowd and cram as synonyms, but while these words are close in meaning, they do not connote the sense of fierce determination, anger, or violence that ram does.

The connotation of aggression and heavy pounding makes ram a popular figurative choice in a political context:

It will take the Senate only 10 hours to ram through the worst legislation in living memory.—The New Republic

. . . even by Oli’s own standards, choosing to ram through ordinances that have nothing to do with the handling of the current Covid-19 outbreak—in the middle of an extended and uncertain lockdown—is pushing it to a new low.—The Kathmandu Post

A year ago, the Ohio legislature rammed through a law to save four unprofitable nuclear and coal-fired power plants from retirement, while it rolled back energy efficiency and renewable targets and passed on the $1.3 billion cost to customers.—Mother Jones.

When used intransitively (no object) and followed by a prepositional phrase, the preposition that follows ram in these examples is through. If you find yourself placing with after rammed, crammed is probably the better choice.

Inspectors highlighted the El Paso Del Norte Processing Center, which was designed to hold 125 people but was crammed with 750 migrants on May 7 and 900 migrants the following day— USA Today.

Bad economy leads to shelters crammed with cats—Sky-Hi News
[The Guggenheim Museum] Crammed with Famous Works!—Tripadvisor

Not all these, laid in bed majestical,
Can sleep so soundly as the wretched slave,
Who, with a body filled and vacant mind,
Gets him to rest, crammed with distressful bread;—Shakespeare, Henry V, IV, i

Used transitively (with an object), the word that follows the verb identifies whatever is being rammed or crammed.

The builder then rams the soil and clay mixture to compress it.

The slumlord crams as many tenants into a unit as possible.

When the intended meaning is “filled to overflowing,” crammed or crowded will do the job.
If the intention is to suggest anger or fierce determination, go with rammed.

Now that work is going remote/virtual, writing skills are more important than ever! Grab a premium DWT subscription and receive our writing tips and exercises every day! Click here to start a 15-day free trial..

Original post: Connotation of “Ram” vs “Cram”

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Content Writing

Readers! Thought this just might justify a read through. Ideas?

Hello Bored Readers, this should be worthless.

“We have a 9 a.m. meeting? Hold on — let me just click around the internet like a maniac to find something for the morning tweet.” 

Sound familiar? Scrambling for social content is nothing new. We have meetings. We run late. Things come up. And it’s really hard to get any meaningful amount of work done when you have the next social media update looming over your head every 30, 60, or 90 minutes. It all moves so fast that you might periodically feel a case of the vapors coming on, which is why pre-scheduled social media content should be your new best friend.

To make social media content easier for companies to plan and schedule across the accounts they manage, we created a social media content calendar template. And recently, we updated to be better, faster, stronger, and just generally prettier. 

But first…

What is a content calendar?

A content calendar organizes your publishing schedule by date so that you can keep track of deadlines, better manage your content creation team, and create transparency with all parties.

What’s in this content calendar template?

Every content calendar is different and should be adjusted for your unique process. However, in this one, you’ll find a general schedule tab, your monthly planning calendar, a repository for website content, and updates for each of the top social media platforms:

This blog post will walk you through exactly how to use the template to stay on top of your social media content planning for each one.

Note: HubSpot customers can also schedule content through Social Inbox, or use this spreadsheet to organize their content and subsequently upload it to Social Inbox. Detailed instructions for doing this exist in the cover sheet of the template.

How to Use the Social Media Calendar Template to Plan Your Content Schedule

When you open up the social media content calendar template, you’ll notice the bottom of the Excel spreadsheet has several different tabs, most of which are dedicated to a specific social network.

content calendar excel tabs: schedule, monthly planning calendar, content repository, twitter updates, facebook updates, linkedin updates, instagram updates, pinterest updates

The reason you’ll want a different worksheet for every social network is simply that every social network is a little bit different. You can’t just craft one, single social media update and use it across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

You can certainly promote the same piece of content across those networks, but that doesn’t mean you’ll craft your update in the same way for every single one of them. (In fact, you may even want to add additional tabs if you’re active on other networks, like Quora or YouTube.)

This following sub-sections will walk you through how to fill out each of the tabs you see in this template — the updates for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. But before we get to that, let’s just walk through the “Monthly Planning Calendar” so you know what that’s for.

Monthly Social Media Schedule 

The tab “Monthly Planning Calendar” provides an overall snapshot of your monthly social media campaigns. It’ll help you coordinate better with other stakeholders, not to mention keep all the moving parts straight in your own mind. Here’s what it looks like:

social media content calendar month view with colored cells for each content type

There are three sections to take note of when you edit this template for your own purposes. First, the color-coding key: These are the types of content or campaigns around which you might coordinate, like ebooks, webinars, blog posts, product launches, and so on. Though only some of these might be relevant to you, they’re there to indicate what you may want to put in there — so be sure to edit these categories to align with your own campaigns.

The other two sections you’ll need to edit are the Month and Year at the top of the calendar (duh), as well as the cells below each day of the week. In those cells, you should enter the type of content you’ll be promoting that day and color-code it to align with the campaign it’s supporting.

Instead of deleting all the content in this spreadsheet each month, I recommend copying this worksheet twelve times over, and creating a separate sheet for each month. (If that gets to be too overwhelming, you can always save those tabs as a separate file.)

Planning Your Twitter Content Calendar

Alright, now let’s get to the social media content. This section will be the lengthiest, because all subsequent sections will draw on the instructions we go through here. So if you read one section in this whole post, make it this one.

Let’s say you want to add some tweets to your scheduling template. Skip over to the “Twitter Updates” tab, where you’ll see this:

Social media calendar template for Twitter content

The first four columns, “Day,” “Date,” “Time,” and “Date & Time” are there for your convenience, and if you choose to use a third-party app for pre-scheduling your tweets (like HubSpot’s Social Inbox), then these columns will be useful. For now, just fill in the date on which you’d like your updates to publish to Twitter, and the time at which you’d like them to go out. The “Date & Time” column will automatically change based on what you input in the previous two columns.

Now, let’s move over to the “Message” column. Here, input the copy you’d like to appear in your tweet, bearing in mind you should cap it at 116 characters to allow enough room for a link, and at 115 characters to allow room for an image. (Read this blog post for a full character count guide.) This spreadsheet will auto-calculate the number of characters you’ve entered to keep you on-point, turning yellow when you’ve reached 95 characters, and red when you’ve reached 116 characters.

After you’ve composed your tweet, paste the URL you’d like to include in your tweet in the “Link” column. Be sure to include UTM parameters so you’ll know whether all of these tweets are actually driving traffic, leads, and customers. This is an important step to remember if you’d like to be able to demonstrate ROI from social. You can also use the “Campaign” column to add an associated campaign, which helps which more robust tracking and reporting.

Finally, in the “Image” column, attach the tweet’s image (if you have one). For Twitter, we recommend images that are 1024 x 512 pixels. (Click here for a full cheat sheet of social media image sizes.) If you’re having trouble attaching your image to the spreadsheet, follow these steps:

Step 1: Right-click the cell in which you’d like your image.

Step 2: Click “Hyperlink,” then click the “Document” button, and finally, click “Select” to choose your image.

Step 3: In the “Choose a File” window, select the image from your computer and click “Open.”

Step 4: You’ll now see the image attached to the “Insert Hyperlink” screen. Feel free to edit the “Display” text to change the file name, then click “OK.”

Note: This process is simply for organizational purposes. If you decide to upload the spreadsheet to your social media publishing software, it will not attach — you’ll have to do that with your marketing software. If you’re a HubSpot customer, details for how to bulk upload your Twitter content to Social Inbox can be found within the downloaded template.

Planning Your Facebook Content Calendar

Now, let’s talk about how to plan your Facebook marketing in advance with the template. Navigate on over to the tab in your template labeled “Facebook Updates.”

Social media calendar template for Facebook content

Facebook updates work similarly to Twitter updates, with the exception being bulk uploading your content is not possible in Social Inbox.

The first three columns, “Day,” “Date,” and “Time” are there for your convenience. Head on over to the column labeled “Message” and input the copy you’d like to appear in your status update, corresponding to the days and times you’d like those updates to run. Then, move to the “Link” column and input the link you’ll be, you know, linking to in the update. (Don’t forget that tracking token.) If you’d like the update to be tagged to a certain campaign, include this in the “Campaigns” column. Finally, attach an image just like you did with your Twitter updates — if you’re using one, we suggest you edit it to be 1200 x 900 pixels. (Click here for a full cheat sheet of social media image sizes.)

Planning Your LinkedIn Content Calendar

LinkedIn updates are the most unique, because you have both Company Pages and Groups to consider. To demonstrate the difference between Company Page updates and Group updates, let’s navigate over to the column labeled “Title (For Group Discussions Only).”

Social media calendar template for LinkedIn content

LinkedIn Groups let you post a few kinds of updates, one of which is called a “Discussion.” You will only fill out the “Title (For Group Discussions Only)” column if you’re looking to post a Discussion to your LinkedIn Group — because Discussions are the only update you’ll be posting that requires a title. If you’re not posting a Discussion to a LinkedIn Group, you don’t need to fill out this field, because your update will not have a title.

You’ll fill out the next column, “Message,” for every type of update you post, whether it’s for a Company Page or a Group. Simply input your copy into this column, and then navigate to the next two columns, “Link” and “Campaign” to input the URL to which you’re directing readers with the tracking token you’ll use to track activity, and the associated campaign if one exists. If you’d like to use an image for an update, attach it per the instructions laid out in the “Twitter” section. We recommend editing the image to 700 x 520 pixels.

Planning Your Instagram Posting Calendar

Now, let’s move on to how to set up your Instagram photos and videos in advance with the template. Navigate on over to the tab in your template labeled “Instagram Updates.”

Social media calendar template for Instagram content

Instagram updates work similarly to Facebook updates, in that content can’t be uploaded in bulk to Social Inbox like it can with Twitter.

The first three columns, “Day,” “Date,” and “Time” are there for your convenience. Head on over to the column labeled “Message,” and input the copy you’d like to appear in your post’s caption, corresponding to the days and times you’d like those updates to run. Keep in mind that although Instagram captions can be up to 2,200 characters long, they cut off in users’ feeds after three lines of text. The exact length of these three lines depends on the length of your Instagram handle. (Read this blog post for a full character count guide.)

Next, move to the “Link for Bio” column and input whichever link you plan to put in the bio when you publish the accompanying Instagram post. (The reason you’d put a link in your bio and not the photo caption itself is because clickable URLs aren’t allowed anywhere except the single “website” box in your bio.) Oh, and don’t forget that tracking token.

If you’d like the update to be tagged to a certain campaign, include this in the “Campaigns” column. Finally, attach an image just like you did with your other social media updates — we suggest you edit it to be 1080 pixels x 1080 pixels. (Click here for a full cheat sheet of social media image sizes.)

Planning Your Pinterest Content Calendar

Alright, now let’s go over how to set up your Pinterest pins in advance with the template. Navigate on over to the tab in your template labeled “Pinterest Updates.”

Social media calendar template for Pinterest content

Pinterest updates work similarly to Facebook and Instagram updates, in that content can’t be uploaded in bulk to Social Inbox like it can with Twitter.

The first three columns, “Day,” “Date,” and “Time” are there for your convenience. Go to the column labeled “Message,” and input the copy you’d like to appear in your pin’s description, corresponding to the days and times you’d like those updates to run. Then, move to the “Link” column and input the link you’ll be, you know, linking to in the update. (Don’t forget that tracking token.)

If you’d like the update to be tagged to a certain campaign, include this in the “Campaigns” column. Finally, attach an image like you did with your other social media updates — we suggest you edit it to be 735 pixels x 1102 pixels.

Content Repository (Or, Where to Source Social Media Content)

This template also provides you with a tab called “Content Repository,” which should help you keep track of all your content and maintain a healthy backlog of fodder to make sourcing social media content easier.

social media content calendar's content repository

As you create more assets, you’ll likely want to resurface and re-promote those pieces down the line, too. To ensure you don’t lose track of all of that content, record it on this tab so you’re never at a loss for what to publish on social. If the content you’re promoting isn’t evergreen, be sure to include an expiration date in the column marked “Expiration” so you don’t promote it when it’s jumped the shark.

This tab will also help you maintain a healthy balance of content: A mix of your own content and others’, a mix of content formats and types, and mix of lead generation content vs. MQL-generating content vs. traffic-friendly content.

Don’t Forget to Interact With Your Followers

Whether you use this spreadsheet to plan your content out in advance or upload to a third-party app, you’ll still need to supplement these updates with one the fly content. Breaking news hits? Whip up a quick update to share it with your network. Someone in your network tweets something interesting? Give it a retweet with some commentary. Got a fascinating comment on one of your updates? Respond with a “thank you” for their interaction or an additional follow-up comment.

Coming up with and scheduling your social media content in advance is a huge time-saver, but it should go without saying that you still need to monitor and add to your social presence throughout the day.

Finally, we encourage you to experiment with your social media publishing. This template provides publishing dates and times for each social network, but you may find those are way too many updates for you to fill, or perhaps too infrequent for your booming social presence. You should adjust your social media publishing frequency as needed.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Content Writing

Authors! Considered this may warrant a conversation. Any opinions?

Hi Writers, this may be acceptable.

Strategic frameworks are an integral part of any marketing strategy. They help us identify where we are, where we want to go, and what steps we need to take to get there as a business.

Marketers use dozens of different strategic frameworks. But how do you know which is the right one? We’ve collected the opinions of five marketers who’ve put their strategic framework of choice to the test.

What Is a Strategic Framework?

A strategic framework is a type of structuring method that details how a project or initiative will help reach important company objectives.

From a marketing perspective, it can be used to outline specific marketing projects or initiatives to make sure they’re always in line with the overarching business plan. For example, you can use strategic frameworks to guide new product or service offerings or determine how the marketing team can help increase revenue.

What Makes a Strategic Framework Successful?

Oren Greenberg, managing director at Kurve, says there are generally two key pieces every successful strategic framework should include: it needs to align with the overall business strategy, and it needs to be measurable.

Greenberg also says it’s important to provide people in the organization with the research and data they need to formulate their own thinking. He underlines the importance of aligning the goals of the framework with all people in the organization, specifically in reference to KPIs.

Which Strategic Frameworks Do Marketers Find Most Useful?

We’ve compiled opinions from five different marketing experts to find out what they think is the most useful strategic framework.

Objectives and Key Results (OKR)

Hiba Amin, content marketing manager at SoapBox, says,OKRs are able to communicate the what and why super effectively across all teams, which leaves room for the experts to determine the how.”

“OKRs are able to communicate the what and why super effectively across all teams, which leaves room for the experts to determine the how.”
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Popularized by early Google investor John Doerr, OKRs are divided into two parts: objectives and key results. Think of the objective as the why, a clear goal for team members to follow. The what comes in the form of the key results — specific measurable ways to track the goal. Once you have those two pieces in place, it’s up to your team to determine how you’re going to reach that objective.

How to Use This Strategic Framework

OKRs are often set on a quarterly basis to sync up with current company priorities. Set a high-level objective (e.g., increase revenue, bolster employee engagement, etc.), and come up with one to three key results that can help you track the objective in a measurable way. If your objective is to increase revenue, for example, you would come up with one to three measurable ways your company could do that. That could mean anything from getting a certain number of new clients to reducing churn by a specific percentage.

Strategic Framework OKR

Using this strategic planning framework, each member of your team can contribute to these high-level objectives, and you can update them as needed. If you’re on the marketing team, for instance, you will be finding ways to support high-level objectives through different marketing initiatives.

Objectives, Goals, Strategies, and Measures (OGSM)

James Story, senior content manager at Lead Tech, points to simplicity as being one of the biggest benefits of this strategic framework model and underlines that “you don’t need any special software or technical skills — you just need a single page.”

Like the name of this strategic framework states, OGSMs are divided into four parts: objectives, goals, strategies, and measures. Unlike some of the other strategic frameworks included on this list, OGSM is a relatively simple framework to implement. You can simply take your overarching objective and come up with goals, strategies, and measures to help achieve it.

How to Use This Strategic Framework

To understand how to use OGSMs, it’s best to break down each individual piece of the strategic framework to highlight what its function is:

  • Objectives: High-level company priorities.
  • Goals: Create measurable results that support the high-level priority.
  • Strategies: How to achieve your objectives and goals.
  • Measures: Determine if strategies are working.

Strategic Framework OGSM

As you can see, there are some general similarities between OGSMs and OKRs. Both strategic frameworks include high-level objectives at the top, but they differ in how to achieve that objective.

Balanced Scorecard

Tom Wright, cofounder and CEO of Cascade Strategy, says, “the benefit of implementing the Balanced Scorecard is that it forces your organization into a level of focus that spans leading KPI indicators as well as lagging ones.”

The Balanced Scorecard looks at goals and measures through four different perspectives: customer, internal, innovation and learning, and financial. It’s known as the Balanced Scorecard because of its well-rounded approach to goals and measures. It doesn’t just focus on objectives that are organizational priorities; it creates a balanced approach that considers different aspects of the company at all times. This allows you to stay on top of objectives that are already making good progress and focusing on others that may be behind.

How to Use This Strategic Framework

The Balanced Scorecard is, for lack of a better term, all about getting a more balanced view of your goals and measures. Create four separate scorecards that address each of the aforementioned perspectives:

  • Customer: Value, retention, churn, etc.
  • Internal: Quality, efficiency, productivity, etc.
  • Innovation and learning: Culture, technology, leadership, etc.
  • Financial: Revenue, ROI, cash flow, etc.

Once you’ve done that, create goals and measures for each perspective and you will create a holistic view of your company’s objectives:

Strategic Framework Balanced Scorecard

The Ansoff Matrix

Kim Moore, marketing strategist at KG Moore Limited, says the Ansoff Matrix should be used on an annual basis to “determine whether a business needs to improve or adjust existing offerings or venture into new markets.”

The Ansoff Matrix is centered on growth and innovation and divided into four parts: market development, market penetration, product development, and diversification. It can help guide the direction of a marketing strategy that is focused on improvement and expansion of product or service offerings. This is why it’s important to use the Ansoff Matrix every year. It helps you evaluate your current product or service offerings and adjust when needed.

How to Use This Strategic Framework

Similar to the OGSM strategic framework, the Ansoff Matrix also takes four different perspectives into consideration. These are focused specifically on marketing efforts for product and service growth versus broader objectives, such as increasing revenue:

  • Market penetration: Grow existing product or service offerings in existing markets.
  • Market development: Expand into new markets using existing product or service offerings.
  • Product development: Create new product or service offerings in existing markets.
  • Diversification: Grow market share through introduction of new product or service offerings in new markets.

Strategic Framework Ansoff Matrix


Ryan Shelley, chief growth officer and founder of SMA Marketing, says to think of SMART Goals as “a map as you continue to go towards your destination, as you continue to build your business, as you continue to market your company, as you continue to grow your influence online.”

SMART is an acronym for smart, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound — which is exactly what these goals need to be. Your goals will continually change as your company shifts priorities and grows; SMART Goals allow you to set goals that are always in line with your current business needs.

How to Use This Strategic Framework

To create a SMART Goal, you need to ensure that the goal you are setting takes all five elements of SMART into consideration. It’s important to note that there are a few different takes on SMART Goals, and the letters can represent slightly different qualities in some cases. Here is a common version used by many companies:

  • Smart: The goal is clear and concise.
  • Measurable: You can measure the goal in some quantitative way.
  • Attainable: The goal can be achieved; it is not impossible to accomplish.
  • Relevant: The goal is in line with the bigger company vision.
  • Time-Bound: The goal has a clearly defined timeline; test and pivot when needed.

Strategic Framework SMART Goals

Use Strategic Frameworks to Strengthen Your Marketing Strategy

Strategic frameworks map out business objectives and goals that can help inform your marketing strategy. They give you a clear path to success and need to be addressed and updated regularly.

Some companies evaluate company performance with these strategic frameworks quarterly, while others do so annually. The important piece is to have consistency. Strategic frameworks are meant to be revisited regularly. This is not a set-and-forget method.

Once you have your strategic framework in place, Alexa can help you measure your marketing metrics to ensure your marketing efforts are always aligned with business goals. Try our free 14-day trial today!

The post Seriously Useful Strategic Frameworks According to 5 Marketing Experts appeared first on Alexa Blog.

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Writers! Thought that this just may warrant a peek. Ideas?—-cd46c47af086—4

Good Day Persons of Letters, this may be good.

My last Prep: From Concept to Outline workshop of 2020 begins August 10.

As I say: There is no right way to write. Each writer is different. Each story is different. There is no single universal approach that works for everyone.

However in my view, it is impossible to overstate the importance of prep-writing. Brainstorming. Character development. Research. Plotting. Index cards. Outline. However you do whatever you do leading up to FADE IN, do it and do it an immersive, thoughtful way.

In other words, break your story in prep.

As far as I can tell, this is the origin for the idea of “breaking” a story, as in breaking a wild horse.

I understand writers have an itch to get into the page-writing, which is great because that can help overcome the single greatest challenge of writing: depositing one’s ass onto one’s chair to actually write.

However we have to balance that out with finding the story.

Prep-writing is essential to the success of page-writing.

Some writers absolutely loathe and can’t handle any sort of prep. They simply have to type FADE IN (or if a novel, crack open that file) and have a go at it. Nothing wrong with that… if it works.

Repeat: You may be a writer who either cannot abide the process of prep-writing or find it actually inhibits your creativity. Whatever approach you discover that works for you, even if it involves little or not prep work, good luck and go with God.

First, in my experience a writer is much less likely to finish a script if they haven’t figured out at least the major plot points before they type FADE IN. If they get lost, confusion sets in. If they are not finding the story, their enthusiasm wanes. At some point, frustration enters, then bitterness, then rejection. Another script on the Died On The Vine pile.

Second, even if they do manage to get to FADE OUT — and acknowledging that a first draft is always going to be rough — unless they do 10–15 drafts, I doubt they will ever find the story they could have discovered if they had fully immersed themselves in it in prep. That is one of the big values of brainstorming and character development especially, giving yourself the freedom to explore and test out a wide variety of narrative options as opposed to narrowing the field of choices before surfacing other possibilities.

Third, if a writer wants to have a realistic chance at succeeding as a professional writer, they have to be able to turn around stories in an efficient manner. You sign a contract on a writing assignment giving you ten weeks to deliver, you’d better be prepared to do precisely that. Having figured out whatever sort of approach to prep you use is a big plus in that regard rather than watching the ink dry on your contract, then going, “Uh, what do I do now?”

On a side note, if you have any interest in writing TV, whether you like prep-writing or not, you are simply going to have to embrace it. For example in one-hour dramas with narrative arcs that extend over the course of one or more seasons, they break all or almost all of that out before divvying out scripts to individual writers. In fact, I think it’s safe to say a majority of time in the writers room is devoted to breaking stories (after shooting the shit and eating snacks, of course).

So different strokes for different folks and all that. And yes, we all want and need to leave room for the mysteries and surprises of stories to reveal themselves. If a full outline stifles your creativity, don’t do a full outline.

Paul Schrader’s beat sheet for the movie “Raging Bull”

However, for writers not of that ilk, my point is you need to figure out the story somehow. Why not do it in prep? Then you can concern yourself in page-writing with all the fun stuff of writing — scene description, character interaction, scene construction, transitions, atmospherics — rather than desperately attempting to sort out what goes where, does this work, oh my God, I’m lost.

Finally, let me say this. I have seen writers get ‘converted’ on this point. Many who had never done much in the way of prep, some who said they knew it wouldn’t work for them. After I got done working with them, it was like the heavens opened and the light of revelation shone down upon them. I’m not kidding. I have dozens of testimonials to that effect.

The essence of prep-writing is really quite simple: Get curious about your characters. Engage them, get to know them, interact with them, listen to them, ponder their personal histories, delve into their personalities, dig, dig, and dig some more. If you do that in a thoughtful way, the story, indeed the plot itself will emerge as a natural part of the prep process.

I’ve seen it happen over and over and over and over again, which is why I say to most writers…

Break your story in prep.

If you are interested in learning a proven, professional approach to story prep, consider taking my Prep: From Concept to Outline workshop. I’m only offering one more online session in 2020, beginning August 10.

The beauty of this approach is three-fold:

  • You can go into the page-writing part of the process with confidence because you’ve already broken the story.
  • Since you won’t be overwhelmed with finding the story when writing pages, you can focus your creativity where it should be — characters, dialogue, themes, mood, pace, etc.
  • By devoting six weeks to prep, you will almost assuredly cut the overall amount of time you spend writing your script and increase the odds you will finish your draft.

Here are a few testimonials from writers who have participated in the Prep: From Concept to Outline online workshop:

“‘From Concept to Outline’ is a course I wish I had known about a couple of years ago. I would recommend this whole-heartedly for anyone who is about to embark on their first script or ANY script. This lays the foundation stone to your story.” — Camilla Castree

“This has been an outstanding class. I’ve taken a few from other sources and most don’t live up to their promises (they shall remain nameless). But here, I’ve learned so much and gotten way more than my money’s worth.” — Daniel O’Donahue

“I went into Scott’s Prep class doubting I’d ever finish a script; I came out with the tools, confidence and inspiration to power through a complete first draft in just a few months. Amazing!” — Jessica Sada

Hurry. I’m limiting the number of roster spots to ensure I have enough time to provide the extensive feedback in I do for each writer’s weekly assignments and overall story development.

To learn more or enroll, go here.

Break your story in prep was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Content Writing

Freelancers! Thinking this was probably justify a value post. Any thoughts?

How goes it Avid Readers, this could potentially be great.

I’m PUMPED to announce the release of the new SEO Marketing Hub 2.0.

We launched SEO Marketing Hub 1.0 last year.

Since then, we’ve made hundreds of edits, additions, improvements and updates.

This updated free resource library now covers over 41 key topics — including Schema, sitemaps, SEO software, content audits, link bait, SEO best practices, and lots more.

You can check out SEO Marketing Hub 2.0 right here:

Visit The SEO Marketing Hub 2.0

All in all, our resource library contains over 57,000 words, 750 screenshots, as well as nearly 200 custom-designed diagrams, charts and visuals.

SEO Marketing Hub 2.0

We also added an entirely new category: Keyword Research Strategies.

I’m really happy with how the new SEO Marketing Hub turned out.

And I hope you get a ton of value from it.

Check out SEO Marketing Hub 2.0.

Here’s What’s Included

The SEO Marketing Hub 2.0 is broken down into 7 core topics:

  • SEO Fundamentals – Here’s where you catch up on the basics of search engine optimization. You’ll learn what SEO is, how it works, how to analyze the SERPs, and more.
  • Keyword Research Strategies – This new section shows you how to find untapped, long tail keywords. You’ll also learn how to choose the best keywords on your list using a combination of search volume, keyword difficulty and commercial intent.
  • Content Optimization Strategies – Learn exactly how to optimize your site’s content using strategies that are working right now (in 2020). You’ll also see how to take advantage of “SERP Features”, like Featured Snippets.
  • Technical SEO – Sitemaps. Crawl Budget. Website Architecture. They’re all important for making sure that Google can crawl and index your entire site. And in this section you’ll learn how to improve your site’s technical SEO.
  • Link Building Techniques – Here’s where you’ll learn how to build links to your site using white hat link building techniques like Broken Link Building, original research, and more.
  • User Experience Signals – Learn how to optimize your content for “UX Signals”, like bounce rate, dwell time, search intent and organic CTR.
  • SEO Tools and Software – Here’s where you’ll learn how to make your SEO campaigns more effective using popular SEO software tools like Ahrefs, Moz Pro, SEMrush, and Ubersuggest.
  • Advanced SEO Strategies – Learn how to take your SEO skills to the next level. You’ll see how to build an SEO team, do a content audit, and measure results like a pro.

Visit The SEO Marketing Hub 2.0

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear what you think about the new SEO Marketing Hub 2.0.

Specifically, I’d like to know:

What’s the #1 thing you want to learn about SEO right now?

I plan on adding more resources to the hub soon.

So let me know if you have any topics that you want me to cover.

The post Introducing: The SEO Marketing Hub 2.0, A Free Library of SEO Resources For 2020 appeared first on Backlinko.

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Freelance Work

Writers! Kind of thought that this could warrant a gander. What do you think?

Welcome Writers, this could really be inconsequential.

According to a 2019 report, 57 million Americans work as freelancers. It’s a lifestyle that comes with lots of flexibility and, with a median hourly wage of $28, the potential to outearn 70% of non-freelancers.

However, being consistently productive outside a traditional 9-to-5 office setting doesn’t happen automatically. You must learn how to manage your time effectively.

After all, as your own boss, you work on multiple projects and deal with several clients at once. In addition, you’re also continually hustling to find and secure more work.

It’s easy to see that, if you can’t make efficient use of your time, you’ll be unable to maximize your professional output and, as a result, your earning power will be limited. For any freelance struggling with time management, here are seven tips for making the most of your workday.

1. Build Detailed To-Do Lists

Arguably the most valuable tool for managing your time as a freelancer is creating to-do lists. Some best practices for creating these lists include:

  • Include specific project notes and technical requirements from different clients.
  • If your list is all-digital, link to in-progress documents.
  • Use color-coding to help visually organize your work.

To-do lists are polarizing in and of themselves. Some studies claim that these lists can be a graveyard for non-urgent tasks. But, with time being such a finite resource for so many freelancers, it’s almost never a good idea to “wing it.”

The reality is that your to-do list setup only has to work for one person: you. Whether you use apps like Evernote or Google Keep, or simply jot information down by hand, knowing exactly what you need to work on is an indispensable part of strong time management for freelancers.

Just make sure there’s enough information in your to-do list, not just titles or jumbles of words. Everything, including important links or comments from clients, needs to be at your fingertips.

2. Create a Realistic Schedule (and Stick to It)

Once you’ve got a to-do list up and running, the next logical step is to break your day or week up into time blocks by creating a schedule.

How long those individual time blocks are, and how many you fit into a single day, will vary depending on your preferences. The key is understanding how much you can realistically get done in a given amount of time.

Some time constraints are scientifically unavoidable. The general rule of thumb is that the human mind can only focus on any given task for 90 to 120 minutes at a time.

With that in mind, listen to your body’s natural rhythms and maximize what you can do in those shorter spurts. Once you find that sweet spot, stick to it by establishing a routine.

Don’t forget—you’ll also need to make time to hunt down new projects and clients, creative brainstorming, marketing, networking, and much more.

3. Find an Optimal Work Environment

Now that you’ve got the “what” and the “when” figured out, it’s time to tackle the “where.”

Your work environment, just like your to-do list and schedule, should cater to your strengths as a freelancer. Some professionals need absolute silence to do their best work. Others prefer working to the hum of a crowd in a cafe or communal workspace.

That said, some universal environmental elements, regardless of the location, must help your productivity rather than hinder it. Here are some important ones to keep in mind:

  • Make sure your chair is comfortable. These days, most freelance work involves sitting in front of a computer or mobile device for several hours a day. Back pain, leg numbness, or any other physical discomfort can be distracting and needless to say, impede your productivity.
  • Invest in a good pair of headphones. If you prefer working in public places, noise-canceling headphones are a must. They give you the ability to filter out most ambient noise if you need to.
  • Find good lighting. Working in a room that lacks natural daylight can be fatiguing, as can working next to the wrong kind of desk lamp. This may also mean investing in a computer monitor with a decent color spectrum and viewing angle.

4. Go Offline to Minimize Distractions

Even the most self-disciplined freelancer can be jarred by a sudden notification or buzz from their phone. And if they occur frequently enough, these distractions may drain several productive hours from your day.

One solution: going offline during your work hours.

Of course, setting aside time during your day to manage your various inboxes is important. But, when it’s time to settle in and knock items off your to-do list, avoiding notification pop-ups or incoming message alerts is paramount.

If you can’t help but peek at your emails or scrolling through social media, try one of these apps:

  • Freedom is the best-known option, although the features in its free version are limited.
  • Hocus Focus is a great free tool for Mac users that only lets you view one window at a time.
  • Other effective free alternatives to Freedom include FocusMe and SelfControl.

Let’s face it—any device connected to the internet hosts dozens of websites and applications that compete for your attention. Nip that timesuck in the bud and go offline when you work.

If you don’t, managing your time around all of those distractions will be nothing short of impossible.

5. Break Larger Projects Down into Smaller Tasks

Another crucial time management challenge for freelancers is mastering the art of breaking up larger projects into smaller tasks.

This practice, also called “chunking,” adds another layer of time management depth to your existing to-do list and schedule. Trying to tackle a project that’s too big or time-consuming as a whole can diminish your focus and drive.

A common misconception about freelancers is that they’re multitaskers. But multitasking implies simultaneous work, often with mediocre or average results. Productive freelancers who are efficient with their time don’t try and work on everything all at once. It’s not feasible.

Instead, here are some ways you can break your projects down into manageable pieces:

  • Create a work plan. A work plan breaks a big project into smaller objectives and deliverables, helping keep you on track when something requires more attention to detail.
  • Devote all your attention to one task at a time. Sometimes, solving your productivity issues is really that simple. By focusing on a singular task, you have far more control over the speed and accuracy of your work.
  • Avoid switching tasks often. If you fall into the trap of “task hopping,” you’re really just multitasking in a fragmented fashion. Once you begin a task, try and complete it before starting another one—or, in some cases, at least finish a rough draft.
  • Work with self-imposed deadlines. You’ve married your to-do list with a schedule for a reason: you have client-imposed deadlines. Within those timeframes, use self-imposed micro-deadlines to keep the clock ticking and your attention on point.

Once your projects become collections of bite-sized tasks, you’ll be amazing at how much you can get done in a day or week.

6. Take Enough Breaks

One of the downsides of working your own hours is that, unlike a standard 9-to-5 job, there are no built-in breaks. Instead, it’s on you to remember to take them every day.

When you get into a good rhythm, the idea of breaking away from your work can feel counterintuitive. However, stepping away from your task actually helps you consistently perform at a higher level.

In fact, even 30-second microbreaks can increase your productivity by up to 13%. Everyone can spare at least half-a-minute.

Here are just a few examples of how you can get the most out of that break time:

  • Take a walk. Getting the blood pumping for 20 minutes can increase blood flow to the brain, which brings about a surge in creative thought.
  • Eat. It should go without saying but please, don’t skip your snack time, never mind entire meals because you’re working.
  • Listen to music. Focusing on your favorite music can drastically improve your motor and reasoning skills, among other health benefits.
  • Read. If you dip into a fiction book, even better. Studies have shown those who do are better able to understand people.

Leave workaholic tendencies at the door and ensure that you pencil enough breaks into your time management strategy.

7. Avoid taking on more work than you can handle

Let’s end this post off with the most uncomfortable of these time management tips for freelancers: saying no.

By its very nature, freelancing involves dealing with the ebb and flow of available work. Sometimes saying no to a project or client is scary because you don’t know when that next call or email will come your way.

Despite this, in ideal circumstances, you owe it to yourself to say no. To bad projects that won’t pay you what you’re worth. To bad clients who don’t value your time or skills. To anything that won’t be worth your time.

This also encompasses projects that don’t align with your goals as a professional. Every piece of freelance work you produce should eventually become part of a portfolio that helps you get the next job. In that sense, projects need to help you advance your career, not just get paid.

For those who have a difficult time saying no to new projects, consider making a decision tree. This visual can help guide you in the decision-making process for each new opportunity that arises. For instance, you might want to ask yourself:

  • Do you have time to take on additional work?
  • Does this project align with your skills and/or interests?
  • Will it benefit your portfolio?
  • Does the project offer fair compensation?

Don’t just jump at every paying customer who waltzes into your inbox. Otherwise, your to-do list and calendar will be clogged with work you don’t care about. That, above all else, is a huge waste of your time as a freelancer.

The post Time Management for Freelancers: 7 Proven Tips for Success appeared first on FreelanceWriting.

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Freelance Work

Readers! Kind of figured that this might qualify for a look. Comment if you like.

Hi Scribes, this has a bonafide chance be inconsequential.

Per last week’s issue of WritersWeekly, which writer explained why we should use Zoom to promote our books and writing services?

Send your answer through the contact form here.

You must be a subscriber to participate in the weekly contests. Subscribe today. It’s free!


A free print or ebook of your choice from!




90+ DAYS OF PROMOTING YOUR BOOK ONLINE: Your Book’s Daily Marketing Plan by Angela Hoy and Richard Hoy

Promoting your book online should be considered at least a part-time job. Highly successful authors spend more time promoting a book than they do writing it – a lot more.

We know what you’re thinking. You’re an author, not a marketer. Not to worry! We have more than a decade of successful online book selling experience under our belts
and we’re going to teach you how to promote your book effectively online…and almost all of our techniques are FREE!

Online book promotion is not only simple but, if you have a step-by-step, day-to-day marketing plan (this book!), it can also be a very artistic endeavor,
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7.625 STRATEGIES IN EVERY BEST-SELLER – Revised and Expanded Edition

At this moment, thousands of would-be authors are slaving away on their keyboards, dreaming of literary success. But their efforts won’t count for much. Of all those manuscripts, trade book editors will sign up only a slim fraction.

And of those titles–ones that that editors paid thousands of dollars to contract, print and publicize–an unhealthy percentage never sell enough copies to earn back their advances. Two years later, most will be out of print!

Acquisition Editor Tam Mossman shares seven essentials every book needs to stay in print, and sell!

Read more here:



It’s A Dirty Job…Writing Porn For Fun And Profit! Includes Paying Markets!

Fact is, writing porn is fun! It’s also one of the easier markets to crack and make money at while you’re still honing your skills. “It’s A Dirty Job…” is one of the only resources that can teach you everything you need to know to create your stories and target your markets.

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It’s a Dirty Job


Writing FAST: How to Write Anything with Lightning Speed

A systematic approach to writing that generates better quality quickly!

Chock full of ideas, tips, techniques and inspiration, this down-to-earth book is easy to read, and even easier to apply. Let author Jeff Bollow take you through a process that brings your ideas to the page faster, more powerfully and easier than ever before.

Read more here:

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Content Writing

Persons of Letters! Figured this just could qualify for a look. Any opinions?

Hello Freelancers, this could potentially be worthless.

When I was 14, my dream was to play college baseball. But I had one small problem: I only weighed 100 pounds. And even though I still had four years to bulk up and improve my skills, I knew I had a long way to go. Fortunately, my coach always knew how to give me opportunities to shoot for that kept my drive alive.

I think of SMART goals like my former baseball coach.

After a grueling practice or workout, he would harp on how the long term is just a series of short terms. And to hammer that mentality into our heads, he would make us write down our off-season training goals every year. But he didn’t just accept the first draft of your goal sheet. He never did. He would make you edit it until you knew exactly what your goals were and how you were going to achieve them.

Setting a goal like “improve upper body strength” and planning to lift weights three times a week wasn’t enough. You had to write down how much you would improve your bench press by and how many times you would work out your upper body per week.

Every year, I set concrete off-season training goals, and since I had a plan and clear direction, I always achieved them. By the time I was a senior in high school, I had gained 70 pounds of muscle and earned a baseball scholarship. 

In this post, you’ll learn exactly what a SMART goal is, why it reminds me of my baseball coach, and how you can set one today, Want to skip to the information you need most? Click on one of these headlines to jump to the relevant section.

When I first learned about SMART goals, I had an epiphany. I realized the reason why I could keep improving my athleticism in high school was because my coach made me set SMART goals. But, to give you a more professional example, here’s a template that shows how HubSpot encourages users to create their own SMART goals:

SMART Goals Template from HubSpotDownload this Template for Free

In the working world, the influence of SMART goals continues to grow. The reason why successful marketing teams always hit their numbers is because they also set SMART goals.

The “SMART” acronym stands for “specific,” “measurable,” “attainable,” “relevant,” and “time-bound.” Each SMART goal you create should have these five characteristics to ensure the goal can be reached and benefits the employee. Find out what each characteristic means below, and how to write a SMART goal that exemplifies them.

The thing I love about sports is the life lessons you learn playing them directly apply to your career. Setting SMART goals not only helps you get better at baseball, but it also makes you a better marketer.

If your goals are abstract, if you don’t know what it will take to achieve success, or if you don’t give yourself a deadline to complete steps to achieve the goal, you may lose focus and fall short of what you want to accomplish.

1. Use specific wording.

When writing SMART goals, keep in mind that they are “specific” in that there’s a hard and fast destination the employee is trying to reach. “Get better at my job,” isn’t a SMART goal because it isn’t specific. Instead, ask yourself: What are you getting better at? How much better do you want to get?

If you’re a marketing professional, for example, your job probably revolves around key performance indicators, or KPIs. Therefore, you might choose a particular KPI or metric you want to improve on — like visitors, leads, or customers. You should also identify the team members working toward this goal, the resources they have, and their plan of action.

In practice, a specific SMART goal might say, “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s traffic from email …” You know exactly who’s involved and what you’re trying to improve on.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: Vagueness

While you may need to keep some goals more open-ended, you should avoid vagueness that could confuse your team later on. For example. instead of saying, “Clifford will boost email marketing experiences,” say “Clifford will boost email marketing click rates by 10%.”

2. Include measurable goals.

SMART goals should be “measurable” in that you can track and quantify the goal’s progress. “Increase the blog’s traffic from email,” by itself, isn’t a SMART goal because you can’t measure the increase. Instead, ask yourself: How much email marketing traffic should you strive for?

If you want to gauge your team’s progress, you need to quantify your goals, like achieving an X-percentage increase in visitors, leads, or customers.

Let’s build on the SMART goal we started three paragraphs above. Now, our measurable SMART goal might say, “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s traffic from email by 25% more sessions per month … ” You know what you’re increasing, and by how much.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: No KPIs

This is in the same light of avoiding vagueness. While you might need qualitative evidence or more open-ended evidence to prove your success, you should still come up with a quantifiable KPI. For example, instead of saying, “Customer service will improve customer happiness,” say, “We want the average post-customer service call satisfaction score from customers to be a seven out of ten or higher.”

3. Aim for realistically attainable goals.

An “attainable” SMART goal considers the employee’s ability to achieve it. Make sure that X-percentage increase is rooted in reality. If your blog traffic increased by 5% last month, for example, try to increase it by 8-10% this month, rather than a lofty 25%.

It’s crucial to base your goals off of your own analytics, not industry benchmarks, or else you might bite off more than you can chew. So, let’s add some “attainability” to the SMART goal we created earlier in this blog post: “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s traffic from email by 8-10% more sessions per month … ” This way, you’re not setting yourself up to fail.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: Unattainable Goals

Yes. You should always aim to improve. But reaching for completely unattainable goals may knock you off track and make it harder to track progress. Rather than saying, “We want to make 10,000% of what we made in 2019,” consider something more attainable, like, “We want to increase sales by 150% this year,” or “We have a quarterly goal to reach a 20% year-over-year sales increase.”

4. Pick relevant goals that relate to your business.

SMART goals that are “relevant” relate to your company’s overall business goals and account for current trends in your industry. For instance, will growing your traffic from email lead to more revenue? And is it actually possible for you to significantly boost your blog’s email traffic given your current email marketing campaigns?

If you’re aware of these factors, you’ll be more likely to set goals that benefit your company — not just you or your department.

So, what does that do to our SMART goal? It might encourage you to adjust the metric you’re using to track the goal’s progress. For example, maybe your business has historically relies on organic traffic for generating leads and revenue, and research suggests you can generate more qualified leads this way. Our SMART goal might instead say, “Clifford and Braden will increase the blog’s organic traffic by 8-10% more sessions per month.” This way, your traffic increase is aligned with the business’s revenue stream.

Common SMART Goal Mistake; Losing Sight of the Company

When your company’s doing well, it can be easy to say you want to pivot or grow in another direction. While companies can successfully do this, you don’t want your team to lose sight of how the core of your business works.

Rather than saying, “We want to start a new B2B business on top of our B2C business,” say something like, “We want to continue increasing B2C sales while researching the impact our products could have on the B2B space in the next year.”

5. Make goals time-bound by including timeframe and deadline information.

A “time-bound” SMART goal keeps you on schedule. Improving on a goal is great, but not if it takes too long. Attaching deadlines to your goals puts a healthy dose of pressure on your team to accomplish them. This helps you make consistent and significant progress in the long term.

For example, which would you prefer: increasing organic traffic by 5% every month, leading to a 30-35% increase in half a year? Or trying to increase traffic by 15% with no deadline and achieving that goal in the same time frame? If you picked the former, you’re right.

So, what does our SMART goal look like once we bound it to a timeframe? “Over the next three months, Clifford and Braden will work to increase the blog’s organic traffic by 8-10%, reaching a total of 50,000 organic sessions by the end of August.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: No Time Frame

Having no timeframe or really broad span of time noted in your goal will cause the effort to get reprioritized or make it hard for you to see if your team is on track. Rather than saying. “This year, we want to launch a major campaign,” say, “In quarter one, we will focus on campaign production in order to launch the campaign in quarter two.”

If you want a more concrete understanding of SMART goals, check out the examples below. You can always revisit this blog post and reference them when it’s time to set your goals.

6 SMART Goal Examples That’ll Make You a Better Marketer

1. Blog Traffic Goal

  • Specific: I want to boost our blog’s traffic by increasing our weekly publishing frequency from 5 to 8 times a week. Our two bloggers will increase their workload from writing 2 posts a week to 3 posts a week, and our editor will increase her workload from writing 1 post a week to 2 posts a week.
  • Measureable: An 8% increase is our goal.
  • Attainable: Our blog traffic increased by 5% last month when we increased our weekly publishing frequency from 3 to 5 times a week.
  • Relevant: By increasing blog traffic, we’ll boost brand awareness and generate more leads, giving sales more opportunities to close.
  • Time-Bound: End of this month
  • SMART Goal: At the end of this month, our blog will see an 8% lift in traffic by increasing our weekly publishing frequency from 5 posts per week to 8 post per week.

2. Facebook Video Views Goal

  • Specific: I want to boost our average views per native video by cutting our video content mix from 8 topics to our 5 most popular topics.
  • Measurable: A 25% increase is our goal.
  • Attainable: When we cut down our video content mix on Facebook from 10 topics to our 8 most popular topics six months ago, our average views per native video increased by 20%.
  • Relevant: By increasing average views per native video on Facebook, we’ll boost our social media following and brand awareness, reaching more potential customers with our video content.
  • Time-Bound: In 6 months.
  • SMART Goal: In 6 months, we’ll see a 25% increase in average video views per native video on Facebook by cutting our video content mix from 8 topics to our 5 most popular topics.

3. Email Subscription Goal

  • Specific: I want to boost the number of our email blog subscribers by increasing our Facebook advertising budget on blog posts that historically acquire the most email subscribers.
  • Measurable: A 50% increase is our goal.
  • Attainable: Since we started using this tactic three months ago, our email blog subscriptions have increased by 40%.
  • Relevant: By increasing the number of our email blog subscribers, our blog will drive more traffic, boost brand awareness, and drive more leads to our sales team.
  • Time-Bound: In 3 months.
  • SMART Goal: In 3 months, we’ll see a 50% increase in the number of our email blog subscribers by increasing our Facebook advertising budget on posts that historically acquire the most blog subscribers.

4. Webinar Sign-up Goal

  • Specific: I want to increase the number of sign-ups for our Facebook Messenger webinar by promoting it through social, email, our blog, and Facebook Messenger.
  • Measurable: A 15% increase is our goal.
  • Attainable: Our last Facebook messenger webinar saw a 10% increase in sign-ups when we only promoted it through social, email, and our blog.
  • Relevant: When our webinars generate more leads, sales has more opportunities to close.
  • Time-Bound: By April 10, the day of the webinar.
  • SMART Goal: By April 10, the day of our webinar, we’ll see a 15% increase in sign-ups by promoting it through social, email, our blog, and Facebook messenger.

5. Landing Page Performance Goal

  • Specific: I want our landing pages to generate more leads by switching from a one column form to a two column form.
  • Measurable: A 30% increase is our goal.
  • Attainable: When we A/B tested our traditional one column form vs. a two column form on our highest traffic landing pages, we discovered that two column forms convert 27% better than our traditional one column forms, at a 99% significance level.
  • Relevant: If we generate more content leads, sales can close more customers.
  • Time-Bound: One year from now.
  • SMART Goal: One year from now, our landing pages will generate 30% more leads by switching their forms from one-column to two columns.

6. Link-Building Strategy Goal

  • Specific: I want to increase our website’s organic traffic by developing a link-building strategy that gets other publishers to link to our website. This increases our ranking in search engine results, allowing us to generate more organic traffic.
  • Measurable: 40 backlinks to our company homepage is our goal.
  • Attainable: According to our SEO analysis tool, there are currently 500 low-quality links directing to our homepage from elsewhere on the internet. Given the number of partnerships we currently have with other businesses, and that we generate 10 new inbound links per month without any outreach on our part, an additional 40 inbound links from a single link-building campaign is a significant but feasible target.
  • Relevant: Organic traffic is our top source of new leads, and backlinks is one of the biggest ranking factors on search engines like Google. If we build links from high-quality publications, our organic ranking increases, boosting our traffic and leads as a result.
  • Time-Bound: 4 months from now.
  • SMART Goal: Over the next four months, I will build 40 additional backlinks that direct to To do so, I will collaborate with Ellie and Andrew from our PR department to connect with publishers and develop an effective outreach strategy.

Now that you know what a SMART goal is, why it’s important, and the framework to create one, it’s time to get inspired to put that information into practice. Whether you’re setting goals for a personal achievement or as part of hitting important marketing milestones, it’s good to start with what you want to achieve and then reverse-engineer into a concrete SMART goal. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Content Writing

Readers! Thought that this just might justify a conversation. Opinions?

How are you Freelancers, this is going to be readable.

SEO is tough.

It’s time-consuming and hard to implement.

And, because of that, I have a free SEO training course and even an SEO tool to help you out.

But what if you don’t have the time to go through a 21-part training series? Or what if my SEO tool doesn’t give you the step-by-step instructions you need?

What other options do you have?

Well, today I thought I would make your life easier by sharing 21 of my own SEO and content marketing worksheets and templates to help you get higher rankings in less time and, best of all, with less effort.

Marketing definitions

Let’s start off with the basics.

In marketing, we all use terms that might be a bit confusing.

Sure, you probably know what SEO is and what it means, but what about terms like CPC?

Or more complicated ones like CAC, BANT, LTV, or even NPS.

I’ve created marketing acronyms glossary that breaks down what each marketing acronym stands for and what it means.

So, when you are reading any marketing blog or book, you’ll now know what these “unusual” acronyms and words mean.

Local SEO

If you want to rank for local-based terms, it’s not just about optimizing for keywords. There’s much more to local SEO and a lot of it has to do with your landing page.

Here’s a template that breaks down the anatomy of an optimized local landing page.

What’s cool about this template is that it breaks down the percentage of impact each element will have when it comes to your SEO.

Keyword research

The easiest way to find keywords is to use tools like Ubersuggest.

Just type in a keyword…

You’ll see a report that looks like this…

Then click on “Keyword Ideas” in the left-hand navigation.

But as you go through the list of thousands of thousands of keywords, how do you know which ones are valuable?

Sure, in general, if a keyword has a high “volume” it means it is searched a lot, which is good. And if it has a high “CPC” it means that advertisers are willing to spend a lot to advertise on that keyword, which again is good because it typically means that the keyword drives qualified traffic that causes purchases.

And if a keyword has a low SD (SEO difficulty) that’s great as well because it means the keyword is easier to rank for.

When looking for keywords, ideally you want ones that meet all 3 of those requirements.

But just because a keyword doesn’t meet all of those 3 requirements doesn’t mean that it isn’t good for you and your strategy.

There’s actually a lot of hidden gems out there that don’t meet all of those requirements because marketers don’t know they are lucrative.

So to help you find the best ones, I’ve created a 220 profitable keyword cheat sheet. It breaks down keywords that have buyer intent for all industries.

Now, I want you to go back to Ubersuggest to perform a keyword search and look for keywords that contain some of the phrases within my profitable keyword cheat sheet. Those are keywords you’ll want to target.

Seriously, just spend 5 to 10 minutes hunting for keywords. Perform at least 10 searches and you’ll find some gold.

As you are doing the keyword research, you’ll find that it may be difficult to remember and keep track of all the amazing keywords you are finding, which leads me to the Ubersuggest keyword planner spreadsheet.

You can use it to keep track of the keywords you want to focus on first, second, third…

Trust me, it will make your life simpler.

SEO factors

There are over 200 factors in Google’s algorithm.

But let’s face it, you aren’t going to optimize for each of them because it takes too much time.

And even if you have the time, where do you start, and which ones do you fix first?

Well, an easy solution is to go here and put in your URL.

You’ll end up with a report that looks like this…

And if you click on any of the error boxes, it will break down what to fix in order.

You can then click through and get details for each SEO error.

And although I highly recommend that you fix your errors in the above report (it’s a great way to boost your rankings), you don’t want to just keep playing defense.

You want to start playing offense with your marketing and make sure that you are doing things right as you release new pages or make changes to your website.

So I’ve created an SEO factors cheat sheet that breaks down important factors that you need to think about when creating new pages on your site.

It’s great to pass along to your team members and your content writers as well (and even your developers!) so you can make sure that everyone is on the same page.

And don’t worry, it doesn’t break down all 200 factors as that would be too overwhelming… it focuses on the important ones that you need to get right from day 1.

But if your team does want something more detailed, I’ve also created a thorough SEO checklist that is 20 pages long.

Anytime my team is doing major changes like a redesign or change our site structure, I make sure that they go through that checklist as it helps ensure we at least maintain our rankings if not increase them.

Supercharging your content

Content marketing is a key ingredient to more search traffic.

But these days, there is so much content on the web. How do you make sure that your content stands out and ranks?

Just think of it this way, there are over a billion blogs on the web.

Let that sink in.

That’s such a large number it comes out to roughly 1 blog for every 7 people.

Do you think we really need more blogs?

Not really… we just need good ones.

And one way to make your content better is to use data and research that can be integrated within your content as that helps create more backlinks.

For example, look at this post I created on the future of content marketing. It contains tons of charts and data.

People loved it so much that it generated 414 backlinks from 110 referring domains.

PS: If you are wondering how many backlinks you have or any piece of your content has, just put your URL in here.

And best of all, I did it all without even sending one outreach email.

But of course, you probably don’t have the time, resources, or team to do the custom research we did.

So how do you create content that contains data, amazing insights, and research that people love? Well, I’ve created a data sources document that you can use to easily find all of the information I just mentioned.

It will break down sites that contain unique data, charts, and research that you can cite within your content so you can naturally build more backlinks like me.

And on top of that, if you really want to supercharge your content and make sure that it not only drives traffic but more importantly sales, here are a few more templates and worksheets I’ve created for you:

  • WHIPS – the WHIPS template breaks down the cycles people go through before they purchase. Such as someone could be a window shopper, in which they are interested in purchasing something, but maybe not from you. Or they may know that they have a problem and are just looking for the right solution. No matter what situation your potential customers are in, the WHIPS template breaks down each of them so you can create the appropriate content that fits their needs.
  • 20/20 Rulebook – whether it is you who writes your own content or if you have writers, have them follow the 20/20 Rulebook. It breaks down the 20 rules that your content needs to follow if you want it to do well. Now in many cases, you won’t follow all of them, but your goal is to get as close to 20 as possible.
  • Content creation template – if you want my framework to write blockbuster blog posts, follow the content creation template. It’s a 20-page process, but once you use it a few times you’ll quickly get the hang of it and find that it’s easy to remember. And I’ve found that when people use it to write 6 blog posts, by the 7th they don’t even need to look at it because they know the steps by heart.

Content editing

I know my content has grammatical and spelling errors every once in a while, but my content does well.

One of the reasons is I follow the templates and worksheets that I’ve mentioned above.

But it is because I put a lot of emphasis on editing.

See, once you write content, let it sit for a day. It will give you time to think about how it can be made better.

And the next day, you’ll want to go in and edit it.

Don’t worry, editing doesn’t have to take a lot of time… I’ve broken down our editing hacks into 3 worksheets:

  1. 10 Commandmentsthis worksheet breaks down the 10 things to look for when editing. If you are short on time, start with this worksheet because you can typically get your editing done in less than 30 minutes by following the steps.
  2. Editing checklist – and if you have someone dedicated to editing on your team, have them complete this checklist each time they edit any content.
  3. Step-by-step editing guide – for those of you who really want to master editing, here is a 27-page guide that breaks down each step of the editing process. I’ll be honest with you, it is a bit overkill, but it is great if you have someone dedicated to just editing.

You may find the editing process a bit overwhelming, and if that is the case, stick with the checklist or the 10 commandments.

You can also use this editorial calendar to help you out. It is an Excel file, but you can load it up using Google Sheets for free.

Fine-tuning your content

Whoever says editing is the last step of content marketing is lying.

Going the extra mile by fine-tuning little things and making those small tweaks is what can help your content go viral.

Look, no matter how good of a marketer one might be, you will make mistakes. Even if you make very few, there is always room for improvement.

If you have already published hundreds (if not thousands of blog posts), don’t worry. You can tweak them still.

So, lets fine-tune your content to get that extra traffic.

Every little bit adds up, right?

It’s how I grew my SEO traffic to over 4 million visits a month:

  • Headline formula – as David Ogilvy once said, you spend 80 cents on the dollar in the headline. And it’s true, 8 out of 10 people will only read your headline, but only 2 people will click through and read the rest of your copy. So follow this headline formula swipe file to create amazing headlines.
  • Constructive criticism – having the attitude that you can always get better will help you beat your competition. The moment you think you know it all is the moment you lose. This worksheet will teach you how to critique your own content without being biased. I love using it to critique my competitions’ articles as it helps me better understand how to beat them.
  • WordPress SEO cheat sheet – you’re probably using WordPress like me. And if you are, fine-tune your blog with this cheat sheet. It’s an Excel file, but you can use Google Sheets to open it up.

Don’t forget to build links

Link building sucks. But if you don’t build links, you won’t rank well.

I wish there was another way… but there isn’t. 🙁

As you are building links you may be wondering, am I building the right links or the wrong links?

Are my existing links good? Do I need to disavow any of them?

For this reason, I’ve created a link-building scorecard. You can use Google Sheets to view it.

It will help you keep track of your links, which ones are good or bad, and what you need to fix so that you can reduce your risk of a Google penalty.

Once you download the link building scorecard, you’ll also want to download these two worksheets:

  1. Link building search operatorsthis worksheet teaches you how to use advanced search parameters within Google to find new link building opportunities. It is simple yet very effective.
  2. Outreach templates – once you find link opportunities, you’ll have to send outreach emails to convince sites to link to you. Here’s my outreach template. It contains 24 pages of outreach emails that you can use to build more links.


I know I’ve given you a lot of templates, worksheets, and cheat sheets, but you don’t have to use them all.

Use the ones you need and just save the rest for later. It will make your life easier, helping you get results faster and in less time.

And if you are wondering how much time you should spend on each task, here is the SEO taskmaster worksheet.

It breaks down all of the SEO tasks you need to complete, how long each will take, the importance of each one, and how to prioritize them because there is no way you can do everything in one day.

So, what do you think of all of these templates? Are you going to use them? And what has worked for you that I didn’t discuss here?

The post SEO Pack: 21 Worksheets, Templates, and Cheat Sheets appeared first on Neil Patel.

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Wordsmiths! Thought this just may qualify for a gander. What do you think?

How goes it Geniuses, this has a chance to be worthless.


We have a new Amateur Showdown! If you don’t know what Amateur Showdown is, it’s a screenplay tournament where I pick five scripts that were submitted to me and then you, the readers, read as much of each script as you can then vote for your favorite in the comments section. The winner receives a review the following Friday that could result in props from your peers, representation, a spot on one of the big end-of-the-year screenwriting lists, and in rare cases, a SALE!

This upcoming Amateur Showdown will be for CHARACTER PIECES ONLY. That means no action or thriller scripts. We’re talking scripts where the heart of the screenplay is about character development and character exploration. Some recent examples of character pieces would be Joker, Nightcrawler, Marriage Story, A Star is Born, Eighth Grade, The Favourite, Green Book, The Mule, Call Me By Your Name, Ladybird, The Big Sick, Moonlight, and Manchester By the Sea.

Now, obviously, there’s some leniency here since, technically, you can say that Die Hard is a character piece. John McClane is going through some serious marital issues and that’s character exploration, right? Well, you’re welcome to try and cheat the system but I’m going to be choosing scripts where the characters are the focus over the concept.

Amateur Character Piece Showdown will occur on the weekend starting August 21st. Scripts are due by Thursday August 20th by 8pm Pacific Time.

In order to participate, e-mail me at Include in the e-mail a pdf of the script, the script title, the genre, a logline, and a pitch to myself and potential readers why you believe your script deserves a shot. It could be long, short, passionate, to-the-point. If you want to submit your Last Great Screenplay Contest script, you are free to do that.

Also, one last suggestion. If you’ve never written a character piece before, you should do so at some point, especially if you struggle with character. I’ve found that writers who are too dependent on concept and plotting become much better writers after they’ve been forced to write a script where the driving force is how interesting the main character is.

So if you think can whip one of those up in 40 days, it might be a fun and educational exercise.

Can’t wait to see what you guys come up with. Good luck!

Was I right on?
You can thank me later.

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