To do good writing, read good writing. Here’s the good writing I’ve been reading this week:
Make your side projects wildly successful: Treat them like experiments (99U by Behance) – If you’ve got a side gig, use it to try new things, Paul Jarvis writes in this inspirational – and aspirational – post on this blog for designers and other creative professionals. I have no doubt that my freelance writing business wouldn’t be what it is today if I hadn’t created this blog to do just that — try things that were new to me. Like blogging, using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, running a Twitter chat and more. Because it’s just fooling around, it’s easy to try new things — what’s going to happen if you’re bad at it? You try again or decide it’s not worth it and move on. And if you discover something you are good at and really enjoy, you can build on it in the other work you do.
Debut novel rejected 47 times makes Booker Prize long list (Irish Independent) – Talk about resilience. Irish novelist Donal Ryan submitted his debut novel, “The Spinning Heart” to 46 publishers before one said yes. And that only happened because an intern working at Lilliput Press in Dublin pulled it out of the slush pile, read it and raved about it to the publisher, according to the Irish Independent report. Here’s hoping somebody gave that intern a job.
Email newsletter etiquette for journalists (Columbia Journalism Review) – Editor turned freelancer Ann Friedman shares dos and don’ts for sending out email newsletters. Rule No. 1: Don’t add people without asking. That’s such a no-no, MailChimp — the program I use to send out my monthly email newsletter — specifically reminds users not to add names to a mailing list without the recipients’ express permission. Friedman’s other points: stick to a schedule, keep it newsy, and make it more than just about yourself.
Email marketing: The most (and least) effective keywords in email subject lines (Marketing Profs) – Speaking of email newsletters, if you have one, you’ll be interested in this: a statistical analysis of what words get people to open their messages. The report is based on a random sample of more than 90,000 email campaigns, each with a list of at least 5,000 subscribers, for a total of over 2 billion emails. Ready for the results? Three of the words that get the most people to open a message are “alert,” “bulletin” and “free delivery.” Three of the least effective words for getting people to open a message are “report,” “learn” and “book” (ouch!). The word “newsletter” didn’t affect open rates but did cause fewer people to click through on links. Read the entire post for lots more juicy tidbits. Even if you don’t have an email newsletter, understanding which words get people to open their email messages – or FB messages or anything you send — is good because it could mean the difference between an editor opening your story pitch or a potential source responding to your request for an interview.
How to focus in the age of distraction (Twitter infographic) – Easier said than done. My solution: put every website I could possibly want to waste time on behind Stayfocusd, an app that shuts down my ability to pull up those sites in my browser after a prescribed number of a minutes a day. Right now, I have Stayfocusd set to detonate at 40 minutes. After that, I have to wait until the next day to go on Facebook, Buzzfeed, HuffPost, Geoguessr, Tumblr, YouTube, Freelance Success, Tom+Lorenzo, and Reddit.
On Twitter, more ‘favoriting’ (Wall Street Journal) – When it comes to showing someone you like what they’re saying, “favoriting” tweets is the new RT’ing, or so says WSJ writer Katherine Rosman. Not sure I buy it – do you?
[© Photo by Michelle V. Rafter]