Templated Writing: One Way to Speed Up Your Writing

Writing is a creative process. Every client gets a different end result and pays you accordingly for your time. At least, that’s what we like to think. But the truth of the matter is that some certain types of writing can look very similar from client to client. You could even create a template for such pieces and at least start with filling in the blanks.

A good example is a press release. When a client comes to me, asking me to write a press release, I’ve got a form that I ask him to fill out. A lot of it is basic organizational information and standard details I need to know in order to create the press release. But each line on that form corresponds to a line in my press release template. When I get the information back from my client, I just plug it in to the template.

Of course, that doesn’t make for a great press release and I would never send a client a fill-in-the-blank press release. But it gives me a starting point that lets me get my work done a lot faster than starting from scratch each time. It’s like a very detailed outline — you know that you’re going to have to move stuff around, but you know everything you want to get across and you have a general line of thought you want to follow.

There are plenty of opportunities to use this sort of template as a starting point:

  • Resumes
  • Marketing letters
  • Some blog posts (like big lists)

I can even think of a way to turn a template into a marketing tool: release it to your customers, free of charge and then let them see why just filling in the blanks doesn’t result in a solid piece of writing. They’ll see that they need you to take their project to the next level. Of course, you’d need to refine the strategy a bit for specific customer bases, bust as templated marketing method, it’s not too bad.

Are there any other ways that you may use templates to speed up your writing? Or have you used templates in other ways to build your business?

Day 26: Create a Newsworthy Event

As a writer, you may have received press releases as businesses try to give you a reason to write about them. Some companies send out press releases about as fast as their marketing staff breathes, announcing new hires or new clients as if we really want to read or write about them. That isn’t to say press releases aren’t a useful tool when it comes to marketing your services — but it does mean that you shouldn’t send out a press release about something you wouldn’t want to write about yourself.

Something Worth Writing About

When it comes to getting attention for yourself from media sources, it’s important to think in terms of telling a story — just as when you write an article. Freelance writers have just as good an opportunity to get coverage from traditional media, as well as bloggers, by providing them with a good story.

Without a good story, there’s no reason to even try to get attention. That means that you’ll have to find an opportunity to create a story. I wouldn’t suggest going out and doing things just as publicity stunts, of course, but there are lots of opportunities to get a little notice, maybe from a local blogger, or a trade magazine or even something bigger. Think outside the box as you’re looking for your story: it can be just as much about your niche as your writing.

If your niche is sewing, you could take a day to show local girls how to modify dresses from the thrift store for prom. If your niche is writing copy for non-profits, you could hold a contest for the non-profit website most in need of revamping (and offer up your own services as a prize.

More Than Simple Marketing

Creating events and stories that are worthwhile for the media to cover do more for you that just spread your name around. They reinforce your standing as an expert, often introducing you to clients who never would have heard of you. Consider the example of a contest for non-profits in need of updated copies: a mention on a popular blog for non-profit groups or in a trade organization can bring you to the attention of a whole list of non-profit groups and it’s not impossible that one non-profit employee will pass your name along to another group (especially if that person knows a non-profit especially in need of new web copy).

Once you’ve got your event ready to go, you’ll have to take some steps to promote it. Send out some press releases of your own, or even send an email to your fellow writers who cover your niche. You can also ask your clients to pass around the word — after all, an event purely for the media tends not to have the best story.

How can you use your expertise to create an event?

Just joining us? Check out where we started with Setting Your Goals!