What Does an Innovator Look Like?

One of my ghostwriting clients, Deloitte & Touche LLP Chief Innovation Officer JR Reagan, talks here about the innovators among us — children, teens, boomers, seniors — ordinary people, at first glance, who are changing the world. Watch this 13-minute video to find out their secret:

Letting Go of My Girl

She’s in college, but so what? She’ll always be my baby.

I never meant to be this way. I raised her to be independent.  When she was able to walk, I gave her her own snack cabinet and the lowest shelf in the fridge. We negotiated her curfew on a case-by-case basis. I gave her my brand new car to drive around town, told her not to drink and drive, and didn’t worry. I trusted her to make good choices. I knew she’d make mistakes, but told her I’d be here if she needed me — and I was. Drive 45 minutes to pick her up from the party she’s stuck at? Absolutely. Every time, and cheerfully.

Read more on the Author Sherry Jones website.

5 Reasons Why You Should Blog

Blogging is hot. Your grandmother is blogging; your kids are blogging; the guy sitting at the table next to you, typing on his laptop with fierce intensity, is blogging right now. But as Mom used to say, “If everyone else in the world were jumping off a cliff, would you jump, too?” Well, no. But if you have a business, no matter how big or small, you should be blogging. Here are five reasons why:

1. Blogs attract attention. Blogs are a great way to draw traffic to your website. People searching, or merely surfing the Internet are more likely to come to your website if it includes a blog. At a blogging workshop I recently attended, I learned that websites with blogs average 55 percent more visitors than those without. I could stop right here, because this number alone ought to send everyone who reads it to his or her keyboard or, better yet, to a professional blogger.

2. Blogs generate leads. Publishing just one or two new posts a month can generate 70 percent more leads — potential new customers with an interest what you’re selling — for your business. A simple search on the Internet can demonstrate why. Content mills, or web-based employment sites hiring bloggers and web content writers for as little as $5 per post, mean that less and less of the copy found in a search will be original. To crank out the copy for more money, content mill writers often cut and paste content from other sites. That’s bad for Internet researchers, but good for your business if you’re putting original content online, because people looking for real information are going to click on your blog.

3.  Your competitors are blogging. Between 40 and 60 percent of businesses now use regularly writtten blogs as a part of their marketing strategy, and that number is growing all the time. What do they use them for? To provide information about something related to their business — keeping long hair healthy, for example, for a hair-care-products company; to answer questions about a product or service; to promote events; to highlight employees; to establish expertise in a subject; and to connect with people.

4. Search engines will love you. Active blogs draw 7 times more organic search traffic than those that don’t offer new posts on a regular basis.

5. Blogging is fun. Blogs can be funny; blogs can be creative; blogs can be informative and helpful to lots of people. It’s fun to find photos to accompany your post, as well, and to think up great ideas and headlines.

6. Blogging is cheap. (I know — I said 5 reasons. Just think of this as a bonus for reading to the end.) If you’re too busy to blog, have a hard time thinking up ideas for posts, or don’t feel confident with your writing skills, professional bloggers (like me) can do the job for you, often for a very reasonable fee. And the cost of setting up a blog is minimal: all you need is access to a computer. Free blog sites such as Blogger and Word Press are user-friendly, and will walk you through the process. Or, again, you could hire a pro for much less than you probably think.

Blogs are easy; blogs are fun; blogs bring customers on the run. What more incentive do  you need to start one today? If you need more information, here’s a great, informative post from HubSpot on What Is Business Blogging?





Freelance Writing Redux: Wake Up and Smell the Copy

I almost feel like Rip Van Winkle, the old man who slept for 20 years — except I’m far fromripvanwinkle old (well, OK, not that far) and I have most definitely NOT been sleeping.

When the media storm hit the fan over my first novel, THE JEWEL OF MEDINA, in 2008, I had a terrific freelancing career. My main client, BNA (the Bureau of National Affairs) in Washington, D.C., was paying me good money to report on news of national and international interest coming out of Montana and Idaho. I had just published articles with  Women’s eNews and the Montanan, the University of Montana’s alumni magazine.

But the controversy over my book filled my days and nights with interviews from reporters all over the world. My agent sold translation rights in 19 languages, and I had appearances and book tours scheduled in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Spain, and Serbia in addition to New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Missoula, and Helena, Mont. Plus, I had death threats, which meant a whole lot of stress until I figured out that I’d rather spend my time thinking about how to live than fretting over how, and when, I might die.

Freelancing fell by the wayside. I quit my BNA gig rather than continue to say “no” to assignments. My freelance writing career would always be there, I thought.

But, guess what? Between then and now, the freelancing world has changed. The economy crashed; newspapers downsized; magazines started folding like paper airplanes. When the time came for me to start making money from something besides book royalties, I had no idea where to turn.

That’s all changed now. Thanks to some terrific resources, some amazingly supportive people in the writing community, social media savvy I’d developed over several years of marketing my own books online, and lots of hard work on my part, I’m off to a pretty fantastic revitalization of my freelance writing and editing career. As my National Association of Independent Writers and Editors profile shows,  I’ve got some great clients on my roster, including Itron, a multinational corporation, and Ten5, a Vancouver, B.C. marketing firm that’s growing by leaps and bounds. And I have interest from many more clients, as well.

Now, to pay it forward. I’ll use this blog to share my trials, tribulations, and successes in this freelance writing adventure, with an eye toward helping others. I’ll also talk about good writing, share the best writing and freelancing websites, tell how I’m finding clients, and more. While I’m at it, I’ll probably share more than one pointer on what NOT to do.*

* Such as, don’t hand out old, outdated business cards unless you want prospective clients NOT to contact you. Lacking current cards, I gave out cards with my Author Sherry Jones website and Facebook address to a prospective client — but no phone number or email address. When I’d ordered the cards, I was getting death threats and, really, did not want to be contacted. Fortunately for me, the prospect found my phone number on my resumé, and called to say he needed an email address. Boy was my face red!

Now, please excuse me while I head over to Moo to design and order some of their mini-cards. I’ve got an important meeting next week with about 13 prospective clients, and I’ll need them!

Next: How I found my first-ever SEO web content client — and convinced him to hire me.