Archive for February, 2017

The power of the “double pipeline”

February 28th, 2017 by Bob Bly

Subscriber DC writes:

“I’ve been a full-time freelance copywriter for 21 years. It’s
been great — but maintaining a constant flow of good projects
has been harder work than I ever imagined.

“I know this is ‘feast or famine’, but it requires massive effort
to overcome. Many business books (certainly not yours) gloss over
this fact.

“Some books on freelancing show pictures of freelancers with
laptops on the beach. In my experience, nothing could be further
from the truth!

“There’s freelancing myth and hype — and freelancing reality.

“I love being a freelance copywriter; at 51 I’m a ‘veteran’ and I
can’t imagine doing anything else.

“But it requires constant marketing and effort — more now than
ever — which you rightly emphasize in your books.”

DC speculates the vast majority of freelance copywriters are not
as busy as they would like — even though 95% won’t admit it.

So, how do you escape the “feast or famine” cycle — and stay busy
and profitable all year long?

The answer is my “double pipeline” method. It works as follows:

First, figure out how much marketing you have to do to generate
enough work to meet your income goal.

As an example, assume Joe, a copywriter, generates his leads
primarily via direct mail.

His income goal is $100,000 gross revenue a year. His average job
pays $2,000 per assignment.

Joe works 50 weeks a year, so he needs one $2,000 job per week to
hit his $100,000 sales target,

Now, say his direct mail package generates a 3% response rate,
and he closes one out of every three leads on average.

If Joe sent out 100 mailers a week, this would yield 3 inquiries
and one paid assignment, meeting his income goal of $2,000 a
week.

So 100 mailers a week keeps Joe’s lead pipeline full.

But my “double pipeline” method says you should calculate how
much marketing and self-promotion it would take to meet your
sales goal.

Then do DOUBLE that amount of marketing. If Joe’s calculations
shows he needs to send 100 sales letters a week to meet his
income goal, he should send 200 letters a week.

That way, his pipeline will not merely have enough leads to
generate the work he needs. It will have twice the volume of
inquiries required to generate the 100K in revenues he wants.

Of course, thanks to referrals, repeat business, and other
sources of leads — social media, blogging, and what have you —
Joe realistically won’t need to send 200 or maybe even 100
mailers weekly.

But the point of the “double pipeline” method is this: doing
more marketing and self-promotion than you need to gives you an
abundance of leads — more than you need.

Having the doubly full lead pipeline is your protection against
slow times and virtually assures that you are busy, productive,
and profitable all year long.

Try doubling up in your marketing, and fill your lead pipeline to
overflowing. It’s your insurance against an unwanted slowdown in
leads and work.

You can do it by following my “ABM” formula for self-promotion,
explained in this short free video:

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How many drafts do you need to do to get it right?

February 24th, 2017 by Bob Bly

Subscriber RL sent me this comment from the late suspense
novelist Robert B. Parker — one of my favorite commercial authors:

“I do first draft. I don’t revise. I don’t reread. I send it in.
They edit it. But they don’t make any significant changes.”

By comparison, Hemingway revised every morning. He claimed to
have written one of the pages of “A Farewell to Arms” 59 times.

George Plimpton asked him why. Was there some technical problem?
What was so hard?

Hemingway replied: “Getting the words right.”

Poet Donald Hall said he rewrote one of his poems 600 times.

And William Zinsser wrote, “The secret to good writing is
rewriting.”

Yes, but how MUCH rewriting?

The problem is this…..

For most of us, if we don’t revise and rewrite enough, our
writing is not as good as it could be.

On the other hand, if we do endless rewrites and edits, the piece
never gets finished — and if we are working on a flat project
fee, we end up making less than minimum wage.

To answer this question about the ideal number of rewrites, I
made a short video on the subject of “How many rewrites should
you do before you consider the piece finished.”

You can watch it free here:

I agree with actor Michael J. Fox, who said, “Strive for
excellence, not perfection.”

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Category: General, Success | 2 Comments »

Why I personally respond to your e-mails and questions

February 22nd, 2017 by Bob Bly

I get a lot of e-mail from subscribers.

And even though it’s time-consuming, I respond to as many as I
can — which is most.

Why?

I believe that when you make your e-mail marketing a two-way
communication, you build a stronger relationship with your
subscribers.

The result: greater engagement, more readership, and increased
sales when you offer your list a product they might like.

A week or so ago subscriber JI sent me this brief e-mail:

“I enjoyed your article today. I like the way you communicate
what you believe and how you respond to people.

“At the same time, I see that I can leave a conversation with you
while taking away my own view of life without hurting your
feelings.

“It’s nice getting to know you over these years and I do love you
as a person for what you are giving the world. Thank you.”

And subscriber RM writes:

“Wow! Thank you so much for your timely response. That was the
first time I had responded to a posting by someone as famous and
accomplished as you and I in no way expected to hear from you so
quickly.

“This speaks volumes to me about your quality and dedication to
helping others. A fairly rare quality in this day and age from
my experience in the business arena.”

I know from publishing The Direct Response Letter for more than a
dozen years that, like JI and RM, many of my subscribers
appreciate that I am accessible — both via e-mail, Facebook, and
phone.

Conversely, I have heard many say they dislike it when they write
to the publishers of their favorite e-newsletters, and all they
get in return is a canned auto-responder message — usually saying
the author is too busy to reply personally.

Maybe I am stupid to maintain a dialogue with my subscribers —
Lord knows I’m busy enough.

But I do it for three primary reasons:

>> First, I think if you have a question or comment, you deserve
a personal response from me.

>> Second, I enjoy hearing from and talking with my readers. Some
reach out to me only once in a blue moon. Others are regulars. I
like both.

>> Third, it lets me know what you are interested in, so I can
produce content that is useful and relevant to you.

I believe the give-and-take interaction between an editor and his
subscribers enhances the experience of getting the e-newsletter
for readers and adds value.

So I plan to continue it for both the immediate and long-term
future.

And thanks for reading my e-mail essays. It’s much appreciated.

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Category: General, Writing and the Internet | 4 Comments »

Turning your passion into passive profits online

February 17th, 2017 by Bob Bly

My oldest son, Alex, who was a history major in college with a
particular interest in military history, wrote an interesting
short paper, “World War II at a Glance,” that you can download
for free here:

www.theww2site.com/world-war2-at-a-glance

In this special report, you get a quick-reading overview of some
of WWII’s key initiatives including:

** Underground resistance groups in Europe.
** Enigma, other rotor-based coding machines, and the U.S. Navy
code breakers.
** The 5 most important intelligence groups operating during the
War.
** The real reason why the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
** The deadly WWII sniper who racked up a record 542 confirmed
kills all in one year, without using a scope.
** Plus: the B-25 bomber raid on Tokyo… the 1944 attempted
assassination of Adolf Hitler … the top Allied spy of WWII …
Kamikaze and Blitzkrieg attacks … and more.

The reason I urge you to check it out, even if you are not a WWII
or history buff, is so you can see how Alex and I are building a
new topic-based site …

…and how we plan to go about “monetizing” the site to produce an
annual passive income stream in the five or six figures within
the next 12 months or so:

www.theww2site.com/world-war2-at-a-glance

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Category: Online Marketing | 6 Comments »

Are typos a big deal?

February 14th, 2017 by Bob Bly

Subscriber TW writes:

“Bob, here’s a question I’d love to see you address in one of
your e-mails: Have you noticed the constant misspellings and
incorrect homonyms on the web and in e-mails? People not knowing
the difference between ‘to,’ ‘two,’ and ‘too’ — or ‘there’ and
‘their’? Terrible grammar?

“Did you think that the ability to dictate on smartphones and
other devices and our reliance on spellcheck and text shorthand
(“r u home?”) is dumbing us down? Either that or is it
desensitizing us to these types of errors?”

Well, we have always lived with spelling and grammar mistakes —
but yes, they have definitely increased in e-mail and on web
sites. What’s the reason for the proliferation of typos online?

In e-mail, it’s two things.

First, people are crushingly busy today. So they dash off their
e-mails as fast as they can, without reading them over or even
using the e-mail proofing function.

Second, some people believe that e-mails don’t have to be as
flawless as a traditional letter. And so they are sloppy e-mail
writers.

Unfortunately, many of their e-mail recipients are aghast when they
see bad grammar and spelling errors. As a result, such mistakes
distract your readers, diverting attention to the typos and away
from the content of the message.

Some readers even lower their opinion of you and what you are
saying if there is even a single misspelling.

As for web content, there are also two reasons for the
proliferation of spelling and grammar mistakes in web pages,
white papers, blogs, and other online writing.

First, back in the day, before the Internet, when our writing was
all print, we proofread carefully, because if an error was found
after a magazine article, direct mail letter, or product brochure
was printed, it would cost a fortune to go back to press. So we
were much more careful.

Today, if you write and post a new web page, and someone spots
typos, they can quickly and easily be corrected at virtually zero
cost. Easy peasy, no biggie.

Second, with large web sites having dozens or hundreds of pages,
many of the pages come from different sources — product bulletins,
articles, blogs, press releases, newsletters — some of which were
created for other purposes and then repurposed on the site.

So many firms either just don’t have or are not willing to devote
the time to carefully proof each new page.

It’s not that they don’t think proofreading is important, but
rather it is not at the top of their priority list, and they do
not have the bandwidth or resources to get to it.

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Category: General, Writing, Writing and the Internet | No Comments »

Time: What Einstein and Hawking didn’t tell you

February 12th, 2017 by Bob Bly

A kindly subscriber sent me as generous gift: a hardcover copy of
Stephen Hawking’s best-selling book “A Brief History of Time.”

I am now reading it, though slowly, as I find many of the
concepts difficult to wrap my mind around.

But here’s one thing about time that Hawking missed in his book.
Einstein also missed it in his book “Relativity: the Special and
General Theory.”

Namely, the older we get, the faster time goes. That’s Bly’s
Theory of Relativity!

Conversely, the younger we are, the more slowly times passes.

When you are 5 and your 6th birthday is a month away, that month
feels like forever.

When you are 12, the 4 or 5 years you must wait to get your
driver’s license seems like an eternity.

And as much as I liked college — and I did, for the most part —
it seemed to me at times during my 4 years as an undergraduate
that I would be there forever.

But now, I will soon turn 60 — and yet, it seems to me I was just
21 … and starting my first corporate job at Westinghouse … only
yesterday.

My sons recently turned 27 and 24 — and they have reached that
age in the blink of an eye.

Life itself goes by so quickly — and the older you get, the faster it
moves.

Also as we age, our opportunities and options become fewer and
fewer — a statement I know some of you will dispute, but hey, I
calls them as I sees them!

When I was 21, for instance, I briefly considered going back to
school to become a pediatrician — and I believe I could have done
so.

For me now, at 60, medical school and a residency are clearly off
the table.

I don’t know if any of this is helpful, but I can tell you my 3
guidelines for making the most of each day while you are alive:

1- Every day, without fail, tell your spouse and your children
(and grandchildren, if you have them, which I do not) that you
love them. Every day. Even if they complain that you say it too
much.

2–Be kind and generous to others. Do not exert power or show
meanness or cruelty, especially to those weaker than you.
Remember, just because you can do something to someone doesn’t
mean you SHOULD do it to them.

3–Find work you enjoy. Get good at it and keep at it. A career,
job, or profession you love can give you happiness every day. As
Max Ehrmann wrote in Desiderata: “Keep interested in your own
career, however humble, it’s a real possession in the changing
fortunes of time.”

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Category: General | 3 Comments »

Goodbye digital, hello paper

February 3rd, 2017 by Bob Bly

In an article in The New York Review of Books (2/9/2017), Bill
McKibben notes that an increasing number of folks are turning
away from electronic communication and instead choosing
old-school media.

For instance:

>> In 2006, just 900,000 new vinyl records were sold in the U.S.
In 2015, the number of vinyl records sold was 23 million — an
increase of 20% per year.

>> Despite a hefty $150 price for an annual subscription, in the
last decade the magazine The Economist has seen its print
circulation grow by 600,000.

>> Students who take massive open online courses (MOOCs) perform
worse, and learn less, than their peers who are sitting in a
school listening to a teacher talking in front of a blackboard.

>> In many classrooms and office conference rooms, schools and
corporations are replacing digital smartboards with paper and
colored markers.

>> Hundreds of board game parlors, where people get together to
play on game boards made of cardboard moving pieces made of
plastic or metal, have opened in North America.

So … what are the reasons a portion of the population is turning
back to old media?

>> Well, in the case of records, people enjoy handling and
playing them, and appreciate the cover art and liner notes. They
also gain a sense of ownership over the music some don’t get from
digital.

>> For The Economist, when you carry the print edition, people
can see what you are reading, which if the magazine is
prestigious, shows you are smart, cultured, and in-the-know. Much
harder to see that the bloke next to you is reading the digital edition of The Economist without sticking your face right in front of his smart phone.

>> MOOCs does not surprise me. Podcasts, online courses,
streaming video, and other digital classes simply cannot match
the interaction and personalized attention a teacher gives in a
classroom or a speaker like me gives at a live workshop.

>> As for video games vs. board games, McKibben quotes writer David Sax: “Even if you were playing World of Warcraft with the same group of friends around the world each day, talking smack over
your headsets, and typing in snippets of conversation, you were
ultimately alone in a room with a screen, and the loneliness
washed over you like a wave when the game ended.”

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Category: Direct Marketing, Online Marketing | 6 Comments »