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Pitches Be Crazy: Aka How to Crush Self-Doubt & Kill It

Guest Posts, Magazine Articles, & Other Publications are Important

Any blogger will tell you that guest posts will not only help you fill your own editorial calendar in times of need but will also help you to build your presence and direct followers to your website. I’ve known this for years. I’ve asked folks to let me interview them, or if they’d want to do guest posts on this blog numerous times. (Both when I’ve wanted to fill my calendar, and when I’ve needed their input to make my site better.)

Unfortunately, I haven’t been great about sending out guest post pitches of my own, or about contacting magazines about features I’d like to write down the road.

Of course, when I say “haven’t been great” what I mean is “I hadn’t done any at all.” Not ideal.

In the last few months, I made the decision to consciously attempt to increase my visibility. I’ve done a Facebook Live presentation in an entrepreneur group with over 1,200 members. I’ve begun writing fiction for Wattpad. I have even begun content challenges for myself, like participating in NaNoWriMo. I even have plans to go way out of my shell and do a Youtube challenge for the month of December.

The one thing I haven’t been so great at in the last 24 months I’ve been copywriting for myself is pitching articles to other sites. Even though I feel comfortable talking to clients about their writing needs and sending them articles that they actually pay me real Earth money to write, I still didn’t feel comfortable contacting sites I admire to ask them if they’d like me to write something for them. I knew that had to change.

Step 1 to Conquering Self-Doubt: Talk to Your Tribe

I am lucky to have several groups of wonderful business people I can talk with whenever I’m getting down on myself or have questions about how I can improve. These aren’t folks that I know personally, but they’re folks that are happy to help when they can and always offer a compassionate listening ear. Here’s a glimpse at what I shared:pitches-be-crazy-call-for-help

In case you have difficulty reading the image or are using a screen reader, here’s what it says:

Pitches Be Crazy.

I’m a writer and editor, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten hung up by fear. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sat on a goldmine post idea that could potentially bring me lots of traffic, but decided to share it on my own site rather than to apply to guest post on someone else’s blog. It’s easier to share things on my  own site and have people read it (or not) from my own social shares than to guest post and make real strides toward boosting traffic and sales.

Why Do I Do That?!

I LITERALLY write words for other people FOR A LIVING, but I still hesitate to send emails to let folks know I like what they’re putting down and that I’d like to contribute/help educate their tribe. I think the difference is that *I* am making the call about what to write about, rather than getting a topic provided to me by someone else.

Do any of you struggle with this, also? Either the pitching process or guest posting in general? I’m just wondering if I’m the only person here who hesitates with my trigger finger hesitating over the ‘submit’ or ‘send’ button. 😛

I posted that inquiry to a group hosted by my business coach Lisajane, Success Seekers, and got some great feedback from other folks who felt the same way or who had insight as to why that might be.

How That Helped

Knowing you aren’t alone when experiencing a problem can do wonders for self-esteem and mindset, and can help you conquer imposter syndrome. (You know, that pesky feeling that you don’t know what you’re doing, and that people are going to find you out.)

Step 2 to Conquering Self-Doubt: Look at Your Progress

Two years ago this month I was just beginning a copywriting business. I had done content marketing and sales writing for previous jobs, but I had never tried working for me, and only for me. I didn’t have a portfolio because I didn’t own rights to anything I had written at my previous jobs, or any of the website content I’d written in the past, so I needed to build a portfolio.

I signed up with Fiverr, a freelance work site which allowed me to list my skills and services as a copywriter and sell them for $5. You read right. I wrote website content and blog posts for Five. American. Dollars. Pumpkin-spice-latte-4.25I’m not sure where you are when you’re reading this, but if you’re thinking ‘boy, that doesn’t sound like a lot’ – you aren’t kidding.

After the Fiverr fees and the Paypal fees, before taxes I was paid in tall, specialty lattes from Starbucks. (See the chart to the left if you don’t have a reference point in USD.) – If you’re thinking ‘wow, that doesn’t sound ideal’ – you are 150% correct, but the experience allowed me to build myself a portfolio quickly and gain valuable experience learning the types of clients I did not want to work with, and the type that I absolutely did.

Why is That Important?

I’m not writing for lattes anymore. I’m not writing for lattes anymore. I’m working on projects for clients that I LOVE, and I’m being compensated more fairly for my time, effort, and skill set. I know what I’m doing, and I’m doing well. Websites would love to have my contribute my knowledge because I have been doing this for a while and I am seasoned and experienced.

Oh hey, ego boost. How you doin’?

It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting started. Wherever you are right now, you’re further than you were yesterday. If you’re not, then sending pitches will get you further than you were yesterday, so the end game is still the same.

Step 3 Take Some Deep Breaths & Remind Yourself You Got This

It’s hard to remember in the moment, but you absolutely can do this. Whatever “this” happens to be right now, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take a crack at whatever your business dreams are made of. Even failures and rejections are learning experiences, so there’s no reason not to suck it up and take on the world. Don’t feel like you’re going to kick ass? That’s cool. Have a friend read over your pitches and see if you sound unsure of yourself or if you aren’t committed to the project. Editors can smell fear. (I know, I am one. *sniff sniff*) Don’t let them sense yours before they’ve had a chance to sample your work.

Step 4 Success!

After chatting with my cohorts, remembering that I’m basically a million times further along now than I was when I started out, and spending time counseling myself about how essential sending pitches to magazines, literary magazines, and blogs/websites is to success as a writer, I sent out 4 pitches for article ideas. Four. It’s not an earth shattering number, but it’s reasonable based on my blogging and copywriting deadlines.

How many of my pitches were accepted?

FOUR.

pitches-be-crazySo go get your dreams, you badass.

 

Let me know how it goes, or what you’re trying to do. Need help writing pitches? Let me know in the comments and I’ll make sure to tackle that topic, soon.

Writing a Memoir: Lesson Five – Recalling Memories

recalling-memoriesRecalling memories is often the most difficult part of writing a memoir. Often when my ghostwriting clients are trying to come up with ideas for the memoirs they narrate or email to me they’ll have to come back to a particular memory or scene a half dozen times before they’re satisfied that they really know what it is that they’re trying to talk about. Their ideas might conflict the first few times they touch on it, or they might not know if they arrived or their now spouse arrived first to their first date.

Why is that? Well, the human memory is a complicated and as it turns out pretty terrible thing. (Don’t believe me? Scientific American, the Journal of Vision, The Atlantic, and The Journal of Experimental Psychology are all willing to back me up on this.) We tend to believe we remember more than we actually do, which tends to be problematic when doing things like giving eye-witness testimony in a trial, and trying to tell your life story to your family and friends or a bunch of strangers who buy your memoir.

How to Improve Your Memory

The title of this section is a bit of a misnomer. I’m not giving you insight on how to improve your current memory or capacity to make new memories, but instead am offering tips I give my clients on how they can better recall existing memories that may have taken place in the distant past. (Or recent past. I don’t judge.)

  1. Physically write things down.
    I am a big proponent of writing by hand, but research has shown that writing things down with a pen enhances neural activity and helps to keep the mind sharp – more so than typing on a keyboard, anyway. If you’re struggling to remember things when you’re sitting at your computer, pick up a notepad and pen and see if jotting down the details you can remember helps to bring up more information.
  2. If you are trying to recall a specific instance, try building on what you already know.
    If you’ve already made a list of specific memories and you just need to conjure up a few more details, write down everything you can remember. Physically write things you remember down for bonus points. These details can be about the setting, the person(s) involved, yourself, your state of mind – literally anything that might jog your memory of the event you’d like to describe.
  3. Don’t try to organize your thoughts and memories before you have them.
    Leave putting your memories in order to when you add them to your outline, or when you’re trying to plan what to include. There is no reason that you should try to think about “other bad things that happened the year my pet turtle passed away” or “things I did with Dad”. Make a list of the memories you can recall, even if they’re snippets, and work from there. As long as the list makes sense to you, you’re golden. (Just be really sure that it makes sense to you. If you have to spend time recalling what your note means, it defeats the purpose.)

Still need help? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear what else you’ve tried to help jog your memory.

Additional Posts in this Series:

Introduction :: Lesson 1 – Content :: Lesson 2 – Purpose :: Lesson 3 – Audience :: Lesson 4 – Blurbs :: Lesson 5 – Recalling Memories