All posts by novelist47

PowerPoint and Copywriting

Are you a PowerPoint User?

While at my day job a few weeks ago, I received a request asking about taking a PowerPoint presentation and adding a narrative to be recorded. After asking a plethora of questions, I realized recording the video seemed a great idea.

A PowerPoint Feature I’d Never Used

Okay, I knew that with the newer versions of PowerPoint have that feature, but the request struck me as a challenge. And I couldn’t admit I’d never looked into this before. After checking with a couple of our IT types, I realized they knew less about the “how-to” of PowerPoint than I do after using it for many years. Oh well. What to do now?

When in doubt about any Office product, just search it. If you’re interested, click here to go to Microsoft’s help page on this subject.  https://support.office.com/en-us/article/turn-your-presentation-into-a-video-c140551f-cb37-4818-b5d4-3e30815c3e83

PowerPoint in My Business?

It looks now like PowerPoint presentations may become an important segment of my business. Here’s how it happened. In that request I mentioned above, they wanted to pull the recording and save it to their intranet home page.  That way the recording could be presented at a later date. I’m not going to bore you with the details. Suffice it to say recording the PowerPoint itself became the answer.  The issue became downloading a saved recording through our learning environment.  It just took too long having to be downloaded in real-time.  So when I heard PowerPoint had recording capabilities, I found several ways to use it.

Okay – How do I do this?

What does this have to do with my home business? I didn’t realize at the time how this would help my business. In retrospect, when the light bulb flashed over my head, I also felt I should have thought of this before. So when I received an email from a friend who had a PowerPoint presentation to give to 26 people last week, I thought this might be the way to test my theory. My friend had been tasked with taking a presentation to the next level. Her boss wanted the presentation to be a “class” with a quiz at the end. At her request, he’d just purchased a license to Adobe Connect and spent the better part of a week watching videos about the things you could do with it. Now, my friend was great at creating the slides and doing outlines of what she wanted to be said with the slides. Also, her virtual events always received 95% or higher survey evaluations at conclusion.

My self-imposed word count just won’t let me go into everything I actually did for this group by the end of the project. Let’s just say, there’s a whole new area to explore.  So, this company agreed to pay me a handsome fee for using skills I developed while working a day job, along with new skills I’ve learned recently.

Now, with these newly acquired skills, and the serendipitous request from my friend,  I now offer something new in my business that uses my writing skills combined with my favorite virtual learning environments and PowerPoint.

Use You Software Skills to Enhance Your Business!

Don’t put aside your abilities with software you might take for granted.  Other folks out there in companies big and small  will actually pay you to use those skills on a contract basis. Why? Who knows.

A Writer is Always Starting Over

Why do I say that?

Those of you who have begun any type of writing project know no matter what the subject, each time you write another white paper, case study, article, or ad, you’re starting over.  You might combine thoughts or even a sentence or paragraph from something you’ve written before.  However, as a writer, you’re starting over.

Are you a writer?

Some people will tell you if you love to write, and do it whenever you get an inspiration, you’re a writer. There are others who say you’re not a writer unless you actually get paid to write. My advise to you is to ignore the experts and write – when and how you want to write.

If you have a dry spell, you’re still a writer!

Okay, so this is a bit more serious tone than I usually use. It’s because, as a writer, I’ve had a dry spell. I let illness and a stressful situation at my day job put my writing into pause. Oh, let’s face it. I just stopped writing. This is my first post on either of my blogs since just before Christmas, 2017. I want to get started again.

First thing to do is to come up with my own definition of being a writer. I look at that as similar to creating a goal for myself. And there are goals in my agenda. For the last four months I’ve been letting life get in the way of reaching my writing goals. I don’t have that definition for myself yet. But since I’m a writer starting over, that definition will present itself, I’m sure!

A new goal is the catalyst for my starting over.

While on a business trip to Albuquerque last month, a member of the team hosting us suggested I use my certifications as a virtual training designer, producer, and facilitator to expand what I offer to those who need people with writing skills. I have thought about that remark from a relative stranger for over a month now.

Yes, I need to stop thinking about it and act on it. And I have. I actually worked on one of my blogs yesterday. I’m writing this rant, too. I’ll go with this as a beginning.

And, yes, I am now doing more than thinking about what the representative from the Albuquerque Visitors Bureau suggested to me while I was there – I’m reworking my web site to include things I’m good at that will enhance my writing experience and business.

Suggestions

     (My ideas – you can always come up with your own!)

I’m going to make a suggestion to those of you reading this blog now based on thoughts initiated by writing this rant.

  1. Use all your talents, certifications, skills – no matter where you acquired them. For example, I’ve found out over a period of 10 or so years that I’m good at teaching people using virtual platforms. And while learning to do that, I also discovered my PowerPoint presentations are asked quite popular.
  2. Don’t let starting over, and over, etc., get you down. Life will get in the way, as it has with me. Work stress dampens creativity, as does illness. If stray ideas hit during a dry time and you can’t seem to get up the motivation or energy (or both) to act on it, just write it down. When that motivation suddenly strikes again, you’ll won’t have lost those amazing ideas.
  3. When you have an epiphany, such as I’ve had today, pick up those notes and let you’re creativity come forward and pick one to write about.

Remember, first of all, you’re a writer!

Great Event! New Goal!

What goal did you get out of Boot Camp?

AWAI’s annual Boot Camp is over for 2017.  What an amazing event and an amazing new goal.

Over the years, I’ve attended many similar events, mostly for a job.  I came away from those so pumped up with enthusiasm!  Wow, this was great!  Wasn’t that a wonderful meeting?

Yet, somehow that enthusiasm faded over a fairly short period of time.  I honestly feel the reason for that probably came from lack of substance in the presentations or the subject matter.  No new goals emerged because of those events.

New Goal, New Tools

My feelings changed over these last few days.  And, I have to state categorically, the enthusiasm continues to grow right now.

The content of this event, a Boot Camp (aka intense training), was real TRAINING for copywriters.  My biggest take-away from this event comes from the willingness of the world’s best and highest earning copywriters to share what they know with those of us just starting out. Learning from their mistakes, and understanding more than just you fear moving out of the “comfort zone.”  I’ll use my experience as an example.

And I’d love to hear from anyone who would like to chime in about their experience, goal(s), and take-aways.

  1.  Overcoming fear:  This one is a pet project for me.  So, when a I heard several of the speakers talk about getting past their fears, I made it my first goal to do what scares me most – turning in a piece of writing for feedback.
  2. Reworking my LinkedIn profile immediately – as a matter of fact I’ve set a clock on this one.  It will be updated this week.
  3. Last, but not least, my website will be updated to reflect the niche and the types of writing I do.  That, too will be completed with a time frame.

My list of new goals take up a almost page of notebook paper.  How about yours?

What will I do with this blog once I have reached these goals?  The answer is quite simply, actually.  I’m going to talk about another journey.  The plan is to talk about my niche, celebrate any new clients, and pass on things I learn or find through researching.  Please hang on while this new journey takes shape!

Jessie McPeeke
Freelance Copywriting
www.quickquill.com

Boot Camp Starts Tomorrow!

Boot Camp starts tomorrow!

Yes, it’s repetition!  I’m excited about the Boot Camp Live Stream – are you, too?

I’ve finally accepted the fact that I can’t attend in person.  The Facebook Group has been a great help to me getting past my disappointment.  To be honest, I hadn’t been active on Facebook for a long time.  Being involved in the writing groups from the courses I’ve taken put me back in that groove.

The live stream turns out to be a great thing for me since I’m travel restricted right now.  As a matter of fact, it’s already a great thing.  Today was to be my travel day, and I’d taken leave from my day job to include it.  It’s been put to good use.

  • I took the agenda, created with all times in Eastern (logical), and opened it in Adobe Acrobat.  Now, all the times are now Central time (my time zone).  now messing up time zone changes issues have disappeared.  I don’t want to miss a thing.  I’ll do replays, I’m sure.  And I want to see it first hand, too.
  • Both of my blogs, this one and www.mybabyboomerblog.com, received much needed work.  Makes me want to retire to do this full time – more and more!  However, Mybabyboomerblog.com still needs work to be ready to go public yet.  It is getting closer every day.  If I could only make up my mind on a theme to use. 🙂
  • An affiliate account or two received the attention needed.  Now, the wait for acceptance and appropriate links begins.

Anticipated Boot Camp Take-Aways

  1. Networking.  Even though I am not Facebook proficient, I’m getting the hang of it slowly.  And the number of people participating in the group is growing.  I uploaded a copy of my business card (with permission, of course).
  2. More motivation.  I’ve accomplished several things today that I’d really like to continue doing.  The motivation I need requires I come away from Boot Camp with the motivation to get those spec assignments turned in. Then completion a couple of AWAI courses that will help me find clients in my favorite writing areas.
  3. Watch everything!  My household, including the very attendant Australian Shepherds, have been informed that even though they can see me, I’l actually in Florida for the next 4 days.
  4. Take copious notes!  Even if the videos will be available right after the event, notes are essential to my life.  Especially since I’m still adjusting to digital – I like my written notes.
  5. Remember how important this is.  I can’t retire without it.  My health makes it very important to retire as soon as possible.  Get the drift here?

Enjoy Boot Camp!

In conclusion, It’s time for me to put this one to bed and go back to work preparing for tomorrow afternoon.  Most of all, enjoy every minute of Boot Camp.  Not matter if you’re there in person or live streaming in your living room!  It’s an incredible opportunity for all of us!

Happy Writing!
QuickQuill

Change in Plans for Boot Camp

One day last week, I received an email from A W A I. The email contained the big announcement about Boot Camp – the whole thing is going to be streamed live this year. Wow! That’s really cool! I guess I better remember my makeup bag just in case I accidentally and up on camera.

Now, a few days later, I had a doctors appointment as a follow-up to my illness last year. He indicated he’s a little concerned about an ongoing medical situation left over from that illness. I asked him if the situation could be improved so I could fly to Delray Beach, Florida in a couple of weeks. He responded, emphatically, that he would not clear me to fly anywhere.

Okay, so my Boot Camp plans changed.

I’m not going to go into the details now. Suffice it to say, I don’t think my physician has any other 70-year-old patients trying to start a new career. (I’m sure there are lots – just not in his practice.) To be honest, I was a combination of angry and disappointed.

Of course, as I drove home my mind was working overtime. While sitting at a stop light three blocks from my house I remembered the email. Now I haven’t really looked it email previously – other than just to scan the first paragraph when it came in. I intended to be there in person. It took everything I have in the way of patience for me to stay calm, remember to lock the car door, and stopped to pet the dogs when they greeted me at the door.

After I sat down at the computer and read the email, I literally sighed with relief. What a great alternative!

After letting my dogs outside and making some lunch, I sat back down at the computer and reread the email – this time not just skimming, but reading in depth. That in itself is unusual. I don’t feel comfortable writing long sales letters. Reading one without skimming creates quite a difficulty , too. What I read in that email, though, made me feel all a lot better.

The long and the short of it is this: I plan to attend Boot Camp after all.

So let’s talk just a little bit about the virtual Boot Camp.

According to all I’ve read, you get to see everything while it’s happening. And there’s an advantage, I think, in the fact that you can stop if you need to, pause the video, and started up again. As far as I can see, Virtual Boot Camp gives you all the same advantages.  To me, not having to fly (and I usually love to) a three stop trip each way is probably a good thing. Before my illness I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. This year I was a little concerned about it. Now that consideration is off the table, I won’t worry about being so tired from the trip that I can’t concentrate on the activities. Oh yes! I’ll be sleeping in my own bed, wrapped up in three Australian Shepherds.

Spec Assignments

The spec assignments are the same – I’m trying to pick the ones I want to try right now.

Recently, I read an article about spec assignments. The article noted that all novels, at least until you become a famous author, are spec assignments, written in advance. The author creates the work on “spec” and doesn’t know until (when and if) that contract comes in their email if the publisher liked the work. But with the novel, once that editor says no, there’s little to no chance that publisher will ever pick it up for publication. With copywriting it’s pretty much the same.

Okay, I’m taking that from what I read. It’s not based on my copywriting experience (limited at best). That article, however, is really helping me handle my fear of spec assignments. I began the research for one today. And for me that’s a big step. I became so fascinated by the research, I lost track of time. So I’ll be waking up to a kitchen sink full of dishes in the morning. I can handle that.

Not being able to attend Boot Camp in person, and the reason behind it, kind of opened my eyes to several things – one of them is my health. Miss Gypsy here has had her wings clipped to a certain extent. I am bound and determined not to let this have any negative affect my plans for building my copywriting business. I will adjust, write like crazy, and make use of this great streaming technology. There’s absolutely no reason for me to give up my plans for copywriting just because I’m not a spring chicken anymore. I’m still going to soar like an eagle! And when my arthritic fingers have trouble typing for long periods of time, there’s always Dragon Anywhere. (No, I’m not an affiliate. It works on my iPad.)

So now my plans include beginning a new Chronicle – my journey to attend virtual Boot Camp this year.

My First Boot Camp

What is “boot camp” This is a question asked hundreds of times – at least twice by me.  The answers have varied depending on the background of the person answering my question.  Therefore, the focus of this post will be on the boot camp I’m preparing for: the 20th Annual AWAI Boot Camp.  From what I can find doing internet research, this is the ultimate boot camp for copywriters.

Preparing for Boot Camp

Since I’ve never attended one before, I had a load of confusion.  First of all, I joined the Facebook Group, read everything I could find about previous years, and went over all the info about this year’s meeting.  Because of what I read there, I called the hotel in Del Ray Beach.  The reservations rep I talked with had been there quite a few years.  In her words, “This event fills up fast!” I made my reservations that day.  Then the airlines rewards account gave me tickets to West Palm Beach, one of two nearby commercial airports. Yet I still have miles left!

Now the real fun starts.  I logged into my AWAI account over the weekend and downloaded some spec assignments.  This is an important part for me.  Spec assignments will help fill up my almost empty portfolio.  As much as anything I’ve done in my life, this pushes my envelope.  Even when I finished my novel, only my editor saw it before it showed up on Amazon. Writing for others to see and critique is difficult for me outside of my day job.  Perhaps that’s because in my day job its actually part of the position description.  Not to mention the fact that I know almost everyone who reads what I write there.

Change of Mind Set

So now I have to change my mind set, push the seam out of my envelope and do as many spec assignments as I can find in the niche I’ve picked.  The first thing I have to do is figure out why I can write newsletters, white papers, case studies, policy and procedure documents for my day job, but have a very difficult time writing a spec assignment to turn in to my instructor.  Okay, so I consider myself a writer.  I’ll write a list of things that make it easy at work and difficult in a learning situation.  However, that’s only a first step.

While looking through the guided meditations on Dr. Patrick Porter’s Brain Tap site, I realized there are several that might be just what I need. Dr Porter has developed this meditation that uses light to enhance the experience.  I used it extensively when I had a major surgery a while back to help control pain, reducing the amount of pain medication needed after surgery.  It worked so well for me, I’ve started using it to help with my weight loss and at the times I have issues getting to sleep.  Now, the meditations I choose are related to confidence, personal growth, and self-confidence.   I recommend anyone with an issue like mine investigate Dr. Porter’s system.  Then I was happy to find it’s already in my library.

Another thing involved for me is getting out of the cocoon I built around myself when my illness began.  The “nothing can stop me now” attitude that was a big part of me in past years seems to be hiding somewhere.  It’s hard work to find something you’ve lost and really want to find again.

Getting Started

A niche:  Something I’m passionate about has to do with almost ten years of being a full-time caregiver for again parents and another relative.  When you’re new to care giving, the whole idea, the process, can definitely be daunting.  It’s not hype to say care giving can be a full-time job in itself.  The niche I’m aiming for is companies who serve the people who care give – no matter who they care for.  I’ll be looking for these folks at boot camp.

So find your niche.  Still hesitating?  Do you know about lots of things?  Do you enjoy or have really strong feelings about several things?  Start with the answers to those three questions.  That’s how the decision was made for me.  I took one “first step” – I started a blog in my niche – https://mybabyboomer.blog.

Now it’s on to the Spec Assignments.  This is the big one for me – turning in writing for someone to evaluate.  This is the most important step for me.  Please wish me luck!

 

A Bit About My Copy Writing Journey

There is nothing that says you cannot write for a living.  It’s finding the place that’s right for you. I didn’t know what to do or how to do it.  I’ve been writing for most of my life with a novel and several short stories published. That won’t bring home the bacon, so to speak.  (I really want to retire from my day job)  I needed help to discover where I would fit into the writing world.  Finding a supplemental income for retirement entered my mind, too.

First thing, I subscribed to “Barefoot Writer,” a great virtual magazine about living the freelance writing life.  After reading a couple of issues, the bug bit hit me.  I needed to find out more.  So, I signed up for AWAI’s Accelerated Copywriting Course.  While struggling with creating long form sales letters and watching the videos, I realized I’ve been doing this most of the last ten years of my career.

Why do I say that?

I can see it clearly now.  After collecting data, it has to be written up and presented to whatever management person or group will make the decision. In order to get management to accept the outcome shown by the data, persuasion is needed.  The presentation must include everything indicated by the data, the conclusion, and how the conclusion was reached.  It must be summarized.  The document must end with a logical conclusion.

Have you been writing all your life?
Okay, so I sound like I’m writing some sort of official document.  My point is the principle is the same, with less legalese, less technical words, and a lot more creativity.  A second point is there are loads of ways to learn how to do this.  I chose American Writers and Artists, Inc.  It actually took me several years to finally sign up. I asked loads of questions of people in my various writers groups who had taken the plunge enrolled in the Accelerated Copywriting Program.  Well, to me it seemed pricey.

I took the plunge and invested the money after reading, of course, one of their long-form sales pages linked from an email.  And was it worth it?  Most definitely!  And while I have continued into other areas of writing they provide,  I understand how this wouldn’t be possible for some folks.

Many sources available.
The are many other sources of help to develop your writing skills.

I recommend taking the time research the internet. In my first search, I found nine distinct sources. Look at all the potential programs.  Read reviews, testimonials, and blogs about what you find there.  It will be worth the time and effort!

Septuagenarian

Septuagenarian is defined by Webster’s as being “a person between the ages of 70 and 79”.  I’m not there yet.  However, it will only be a little over three weeks.  Recently, I started to wonder what it will be like.  Only today did the realization become apparent – seventy isn’t as old as it used to be. Seriously, it’s not!  Think about it: even in commercials, the seventy-somethings are DOING THINGS!  The picture here is something I enjoyed at about 50.  Mentally, my age hasn’t changed since then.

Septuagenarian
This Septuagenarian wants another one of these!

Do you remember as a child talking with some of your parent’s older friends?  They seemed so “OLD”.  Now the shoe is on the other foot.  I see the neighbor’s grand-kids looking at me like I’m sure I looked at the older folks when I was a child.  As I grew up, and my parent’s friends aged, things took on a new perspective, opening my eyes to things such as professional care givers (the good and the bad), nursing homes (again the good and the bad), medical care for the “elderly”, and the fact that since my father reached 91, and both his parents lived to be in their late 90’s, that might be in my future, too.

A few years back, I signed up for long term care insurance through my employer – the home care option.  I’m bound and determined my son won’t be saddled with expenses for me as I was for my parents.  My mother was a housewife all her married life, and my father didn’t have the option of LTC since he retired in 1971.  I went through a small fortune to keep my father at home after his stroke, and it was worth every penny!  My point is it’s never too late to prepare for what might be, God willing and the creek don’t rise, another 20-plus years.

I know I don’t feel like I’m about to be a Septuagenarian!  My medical issues last year took a little steam out of my get-along.  My physical strength isn’t what it used to be.  That, however, will not stop my determination to keep improving my stamina and outlive my father by at least one year! 🙂

One of the most important things this aging mind is determined to remain is vibrant.  There are so many great things out there to help with that now days.  I have a BrainTap machine (no, I’m not an affiliate – just a customer). And the internet is full of great mind games to play.  There are books in various stages of completion all over the house.  Writing is a daily thing – something that needs to be done, if only in my journal.  My current project is re-writing the content for a neighbor’s web site.  The link will be put up once its done.  And, of course, taking copywriting courses.  Don’t let anyone try to convince you that learning has to stop!

I think that covers it for today.  Just one more thing – I think one of the secrets to remaining young (at heart, at least) is being positive.

Retirement from my current job may be in my very near future.  Retirement from life is not an option.

 

A Bit of Copywriting From My Past

While working on an AWAI training module yesterday, I got the urge to look through old files for a specific article written while I attended college in the 80’s.  The files weren’t on my computer.  They were hidden deep within an old 2-drawer file cabinet I hadn’t opened in years.

Now I know this cabinet has all my mother’s genealogy research and some of my father’s work records and pilot logs.  That’s a story for another time.  Amazingly, I found what I was looking for after almost losing my focus reading one of dad’s logs.

Let me begin with a bit of background.  My entire life had been filled with writing.  I wrote for myself.  Why? Because as a child I didn’t want anyone else, including my parents, to read what I wrote.  Even when I went to college in my late 30’s, it scared me to death to turn in the journal my English 203 professor required.

Needing a job in my first semester, I responded to an ad for a typesetter.  So for that semester, I worked typesetting articles, interview, and advertising.  Right after Christmas break, the editor approached me with a surprising query: Would I like to write for the WCU Catamount? It turns out, he had asked my English professor if there was anyone in his class with a talent for writing about current events.  The professor recommended me.

Never having been a person to step much outside my comfort zone, I hesitated.  My editor told me this professor had said I was the best writer in the class.  I fretted and fumed for two days before the editorial staff ganged up on me at the typesetting machine.  It seemed they had dozens of candidates for the typesetting position, but only one “decent” writer on staff.  Okay, so yes, they were trying to boost my confidence, or ego.  Whatever.  It worked.  I decided to try my hand at it.  To read the entire article, about four paragraphs across three columns, click here.

I have to say, the whole adventure changed my attitude toward my own writing, although I’ve never quite gotten over the difficulty in participating in peer reviews, critiques, or anything of that nature.  The editorial process for my novel, “The Crystal Birch,” threw me into paroxysms of anxiety.  It did make it to Amazon.  However, I haven’t decided if I’m going to go through that again.

In a post to come, there will be a series going through breaking my fear of peer reviews.  I’m about to submit my first copywriting spec assignment to AWAI.  Please cross your fingers for me.

Back again – NaNoWriMo 2016 is here!

It’s been a while since I’ve darkened the WordPress door.  With the long illness, then the recovery from surgery, and then going back to work, I’ve found the energy levels have not yet returned to their previous levels.  I’m working to find ways to save energy while still making sure I get the amount of exercise I need to gain energy.  I also need to keep up the energy going for NaNoWriMo. What a circle it becomes!

The coming of November and NaNoWriMo has definitely helped in the process of healing.  The people at the cancer center who read my novel (bless them!) have given me more positive feedback than I expected.  So NaNo is the start of the sequel.  Several people have asked for one.  And I actually feel it’s on its way.  Today was day 11 of NaNo, and I reached a record 30K words by the official counter. Since November 11 is a Friday, a holiday at work, and a bright sunny day, I actually took the iPad out on the back porch in the sun while the dogs chased squirrels.  The temperature reached almost 65 here today.    It seems too good to be true – and tonight’s news made that so.  The temps will be dropping, possibly below freezing tonight.

The words are flowing this year.  Perhaps that’s a sign that I am getting my energy as well as my mojo back!  So with that in mind, I’m going to get as far as I can during November to give myself momentum to finish that awful first draft before the ReWrite days in January and February.

The McPherson clan will be at it again, finding trouble where others don’t even look.  I can’t wait to find out where they’re going to take me this year.  Of course, they’ll still be in Alaska, gallivanting around the state like they’re both under 50.  And, being the cockeyed optimist that I am, I’m positive the entire clan will be doing that for many years to come (including me).

Thank you so much to my readers who have, without exception, asked for a sequel.  Within a day of the comments being heard and read, the story showed up in that storage center I call a brain.  I’ve made notes, and I’m keeping to them.  The story seems determined to come out this time!

P.S.  If anyone from NaNo reads this, my user ID there is Wickedfast.