Are Your Writing and Marketing Efforts Really Productive? (Two Productivity Strategies to Keep You Moving Forward)

Sometimes the moons and stars align and information that is relevant to your life bombards your week, directing you onto paths you should take.

Well, this happened to me.

Time management is one of my ongoing struggles, as with probably most of you reading this. So, what do you do? How do you create more hours in the day? How do you accomplish all the writing and marketing tasks you must, aside from keeping up with everything else in your life?

Ah, the $25,000 question.

Productivity Strategy Number One – Keep a List and Stick to It

I found a great site ( that offers some very useful content. Interestingly, the post I read on this site pertained to being productive. This was the fourth article I came across within a few days dealing with time management, prioritizing, and productivity.

Part of the content discussed a $25,000 lesson by public relations and efficiency expert Ivy Ledbetter Lee.

The story (true story, just not sure of the exact account) goes that Charles Schwab, steel magnate, wanted to increase his company’s efficiency, so he contacted Lee. Lee requested 15 minutes with each of Schwab’s managers. Schwab asked how much would it cost. Lee told him that after three months, if he saw productivity improvement he could send Lee whatever he thought the training was worth. Three months later, Schwab sent Lee a $25,000 check. This was back around 100 years ago.

So, the $25,000 lesson?

It’s reported that Lee said to write a list of six must-do items that each manager needed to accomplish the next day, in order of importance. Whatever wasn’t completed that day would go over onto the next day’s list of six must-do items.

According to, Lee instructed:

Write down the most important things you have to do tomorrow. Now, number them in the order of their true importance. The first thing tomorrow morning, start working on an item Number 1, and stay with it until completed. Then take item Number 2 the same way. Then Number 3, and so on. Don't worry if you don't complete everything on the schedule. At least you will have completed the most important projects before getting to the less important ones. (2)  

Pretty simple, right?

Simple and powerful. Having a list of what you need to do gives you focus and that focus helps clear your mind, which in turn boosts productivity, allowing you to get the job done.

One thing James Wedmore said that I thought is also a good idea is to have a “brain dump” folder or notebook. If something pops into your head that you don’t want to forget, put in in the ‘brain dump file.’ This too helps keep your mind clear of clutter.

I call my ‘brain dump file’ My To Do List. If anything pops into my head, I open the file and type it in, leaving my mind free of the worry of remembering it.

Productivity Strategy Number Two – Meditate

If you make time for meditation, you’ll have more time. I read this or something like it recently, but forgot where or by who (if you know the author, please let me know, so I can give attribution). A case in point of information overload.

But, how can you have more time if you take time out of your already hectic day to meditate?

According to Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, the average person has 70,000 thoughts per day. Since there are 1,440 minutes in a day and 86,400 seconds, this means you’re having thoughts almost every second of every day. Is it any wonder many of us have trouble focusing?

Meditation is another mind clearing tool that allows the brain to take a breather. It helps create a calmer you, thus leading to a more focused and productive you.

My acupuncturist, who was a neurologist in China and has been practicing Chinese medicine for over 35 years, says that the number one thing you can do for your health is to meditate.

Give it a Shot – Incorporate These Two Strategies Into Your Writing and Marketing Work Week

Every Sunday, make a list of the top six must-do items for Monday. Don’t just breeze through your list of to-dos, take the time to think whether a particular item is REALLY needed. Will it move your goals forward? Will it earn you money?

At the bottom of your to-do list for each day, add: TAKE 15-30 MINUTES TO MEDITATE.

Do this for 90 days, as Lee instructed, and see what happens. Then let us know – leave a comment!

Note: I also read that Lee sought Schwab out to propose he could increase his company’s productivity. Whether Lee sought out Schwab or Schwab sought out Lee, it worked.

P.S. If you like this post, please share it



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Email Marketing - Newsletter Pages on Your Website, Good or Bad?

Below is a question from a student in the Build Your Author-Writer Online Platform e-class:

Should I have a Newsletter Page on my website that will have current and past issues of the newsletter?


The problem with having a page for access to your newsletters is there will be NO reason for a person to subscribe to your list. Why sign-up if a visitor can simply click on the page and get any issue she wants.

It is however a good idea to keep a PRIVATE page for links to your newsletters for your subscribers - in case someone asks for an archived issue.

You can also include the link in your newsletter as a convenient tool for your subscribers – being able to get archived information at any time.

If you use WordPress, you can use the PC Hide Pages plugin to hide pages. This means the page is accessible through a direct link, but the page won't be visible in the Navigation.

The newsletter is the place to better connect with your readers, to offer subscriber only offers, and so on. It should be special - it should be reserved for subscribers only.

Note: If you don't have a private website page for your newsletter archives, you should be saving them somewhere.


More on Online Marketing

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Blog Post Template – The 8 Standard Components (Part 1)
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Book Marketing – Yesterday and Today (strategies to use in 2014)

“The Times They Are A-Changin.’”

Bob Dylan’s title to his 1964 album is still right on the mark in regard to today’s book marketing arena. In fact, we might say the times are still a-changin,’ since we’ve seen lots of changes already and there are many more to come.

The major change that's unfolded has been a turn toward online marketing, specifically content marketing, as being an absolute essential part of any marketing strategy. Offline strategies that worked yesterday don’t quite cut it today or we might say they’re not as effective. Let’s take a look at a few.

Five old book marketing strategies that don’t pull the weight they once did:

  • Book signings
  • Offline book tours
  • Traditional paid book review sources, such as Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly
  • Print advertising
  • Broadly targeted and impersonal press releases
  • Impersonal media kits

This is not to say these strategies can’t bring some visibility and value, but they are certainly not as powerful as they once were. Taking the marketing lead are savvier, reader friendly, personalized, and search engine optimized strategies. Let’s look at a few of those.

Eight newer and more effective book marketing strategies:

  • Optimized author websites and blogs
  • Content marketing
  • Social media and networking
  • Virtual book tours (online)
  • Online reviews from high ranking review sites
  • Free excerpts, other useful freebies, e-galleys
  • Personalized media kits
  • Email marketing (e-newsletters)

If you look closely, what do you notice? What are some of the main elements of the newer more effective strategies?

Four prevalent elements of the newer strategies:

The very first element is the cost – there really isn’t any. While you may incur some expenses, they are usually reasonable and affordable. And, much of what needs to be done can be done for free.

You can also improve your skills free of charge. Take free courses in your niche. Attend free online conferences. Watch free webinars or videos. Do what it takes to help you hone your craft or build your marketing skills.

Having low or no-cost strategies within reach is great for indie authors and those with small publishers.

The second element is having an online presence or author online platform and generating ongoing visibility. The foundation of that platform and visibility is a website. You CANNOT have an effective online presence without a website.

Other elements of a platform include content marketing, social networking, and email marketing.

The third element is giving people what they want, whether it’s information, excerpts of your book, special offers, or other, it’s about ‘giving.’

The fourth element is connecting, being sociable, and personalization. This means social media marketing. Moving forward, having a relationship with people, especially your readers, will probably be the most important element in effective book marketing.

There is of course more involved in creating and maintaining a successful book marketing strategy, but these four elements are in the forefront of what you should be doing.

What strategies will you be using in 2014?

P.S. Like the post? Please share it!


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Jane Friedman Talks Book Marketing with Orna Ross

I listened to a great YouTube video last week. It was an interview with Orna Ross (Alliance of Independent Authors) and Jane Freidman. It was so good and offers such useful book marketing insights that I have it here for you today!

Orna Ross Interviews Jane Friedman on The Business of Money, Writing & Publishing

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and reaped lots of book marketing tips and strategies.

One of my favorite bits of information from the interview is that having your own website is STEP ZERO in marketing you and your book. It’s now fundamental, the bare-bottom foundation of your marketing efforts.


Give Your Author/Writer Business a Boost with Inbound Marketing
Website Optimization, Blogging Smart, Email Marketing, and Social Media Marketing

It's a 4-week in-depth and interactive e-class through WOW! Women on Writing and covers all the tools you’ll need to build visibility and traffic, and boost sales.

CLICK HERE to check out all it includes!


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Tradebook Tips for Teachers from Author Carol Fraser Hagen

Today I’m hosting Carol Frasser Hagen on Day 3 of a 5-day virtual tour for her new book, Helping Children Learn to Read Through Multi-Sensory Reading Activities: A Handbook and Resource for Parents and Teachers. The tour is sponsored by the National Writing for Children Center.

Tradebook Tips for Teachers from Carol Fraser Hagen
While most children learn to read easily when taught using traditional teaching methods, there are about twenty percent of children who struggle to learn to read. Despite being taught by good teachers who use quality teaching materials and methods. Often these particular children have learning differences. Such as, trouble understanding oral language, trouble holding onto sequences and strings of words, or are dyslexic. That’s why it’s important to supplement traditional reading lessons with multi-sensory reading activities, to reach all the learning pathways within the brain: seeing, hearing, touching and muscle memory. Ensuring all children are successful learning to read.

A reading activity included in my book for children who are visual learners and learn best with hands on experiences is Origami. The Japanese art of folding paper is fun and teaches children how to follow step-by-step written directions. Making Origami figures also reinforces another important concept. Children learn when they miss or skip steps that not only does their Origami project come out incorrectly but the same will be true about other assignments or activities, which also require sequential steps.

About the Book
Helping Children Learn To Read Through Multi-Sensory Reading Activities - A Handbook and Resource for Parents and Teachers provides reading activities that reach all the learning pathways within the brain: seeing, hearing, touching and muscle memory. Along with lists of recommended books and other resources that parents and teachers can use to enhance whatever curriculum is being used to teach their children or students how to read. All the activities and resources are grouped for different ages and reading ability levels of children from babyhood through elementary school.

Would you like an autographed copy?
Helping Children Learn To Read Through Multi-Sensory Reading Activities - A Handbook and Resource for Parents and Teachers is due for release late this month. If you would like to pre-order an autographed copy please email at and I’ll reply directly to you with information on how you can receive your autographed copy.

About Carol Fraser Hagen
Carol Fraser Hagen is a former elementary Reading Specialist and Dyslexia Therapist from the Midwest. In addition to a bachelors degree in Secondary Education she holds a Masters in Special Reading and an Educational Specialist in Curriculum and Instruction. In addition to writing about reading education Carol is a freelance writer and a published children’s writer. For more tips and resources on reading education, subscribe to Carol Fraser Hagen’s free newsletter and receive teaching tips and resources on teaching to read.

Also, Just click on Carol’s New Book to get a sneak peek of some of the pages in her book.

To follow Day 4 of this tour, tomorrow go to


P.S. To keep up with writing and marketing information, along with Free webinars, join us in The Writing World (top right top sidebar).



Blog Post Template – The 8 Standard Components (Part 3)

By Karen Cioffi

This is Part Three of a three-part series. In Part One, I discussed the blog post components one, two, and three: the title, the subtitle, and the summary. In Part Two, I discussed components four, five, and six: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. Now, it’s all about components seven and eight: keywords/tags and the bio.

Components 6 and 7 of “Blog Post Template – The 8 Standard Components”

7. Keywords / Tags

Keywords are an optimization tool and should be used with every post or article you create. Article directories have sections to add keywords, and so does Blogger and WordPress and other hosting services.

Keywords allow search engines, such as Google, to find, index, and categorize your website and your content. It allows the search engines to answer a search query with your link. This is an important factor in online marketing.

As an example, the keywords I will use for this article are: blogging, content marketing, blog post tips, article template, article writing training, blog images, and maybe video.

8. The Bio

Yes, the bio should be a standard component of each and every post or article you write. Don’t assume because you’re posting to your own site that the visitor will know it’s you who wrote the content. Make it clear by including a brief bio or tag.

One of my tags is:

Karen Cioffi
The Article Writing Doctor
Article Writing Training for Small Businesses and Solopreneurs
(Get your content marketing needs met in-house)

It’s only four lines, but tells it all. The reader and potential client quickly knows what I’m offering and what it can do for him. It answers the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) question.

And, be sure to link to the site you want to bring traffic. This would usually be your landing page or squeeze page.

Images, Video, Audio

While the eight elements of an article or post mentioned above are standard, there are other elements you can add to your content to make it more effective and engaging. One element is images. People love visuals and images work well. You might include one relevant to the topic, or you might use them to aid in understanding.

Another great tool is video. For further reader comprehension, you might link to a video or include it in the body of your article.

Then there is audio. Putting a quick podcast on your website or in your blog to aid in comprehension is a great way to please your readers.

With this template, you should be able to create effective articles that your readers will love.

Summing it up

If you have a product, service, or just want visibility for another reason, you need to do content marketing – you need to write articles for your blog and/or for article directories and guest posts. There’s no way of getting around it. This blogging and article template should help your create your articles quicker and easier.

Be sure to read the first two parts, if you missed them:

Part One

Part Two



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Visit: Karen Cioffi Professional Writing Services
Professional, Reliable, and Experienced Writing Services - For Businesses and Individuals


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Writing and Book Marketing Woes - Life Happens

I checked my blog today and there was NO post. I thought I preposted one, but apparently I didn't.

This is part of the writing and book marketing woes. Too much to do and too little time.

One way to alleviate this problem is to have a weekly plan (which I do) and to keep a daily to-do list (which I also do).

So, what's the problem? How did I forget to prepost for today?

The answer is LIFE.

There's a joke or you might call it an adage that says:

"How do you make God laugh?"
"Tell Him your plans!"

I moved a couple of months ago. My sister-in-law had a massive stroke last week . And, my sister is staying with me for a week of so. My plans kind of went out the window.

Life happens and we have to deal with it.

While it's essential to have plans laid out that lead to productive weeks and days, life can knock you offtrack. When this happens, it's important not to beat yourself down or be too upset about it. When you can, simply get back on track.

So, my advice for today is have a writing and marketing plan in place, but know there will be times when life happens and you'll be thrown off course. When that happens, learn to be content with and thankful for what you are able to accomplish.

Have a great weekend,


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P.S. To keep up with writing and marketing information, along with Free webinars, join us in The Writing World (top right top sidebar).

Karen Cioffi Professional Writing Services


Blog Post Template – The 8 Standard Components (Part 2)

By Karen Cioffi

Last week, Part One of “Blog Post Template – The 8 Standard Components” discussed component one: the title, component two: the subtitle, and component three: the summary. Today is Part 2 and it’s on to components four through six.

4. The introduction

The introduction is the deal maker. It’s what will turn attention to interest. In the introduction you need to discuss the problem the reader is having. This should, hopefully, be done with empathy and credibility.

Using the fifth title example above, here is a brief introduction:

If you have a website the chances of it being hacked are increasing daily. Hackers have sophisticated programs that will keep trying passwords and user names until they get in. It’s happened to me and I’m sure it’s happened to some of you. And, it’s one big PAIN!

Due to this problem, you need to protect your website. You need to take steps to make it as difficult as possible for hackers to gain access to your site.

Below are five easy steps to make your website a fortress.

Notice how I make the connection with the reader and empathize with her. Then I let her know I have a solution to the problem in five easy steps. She’ll have to read on to get the solution.

5. The body

The body of your article is the meat and potatoes of the topic – it’s the main course. It’s where you explain how to do it. It’s where you’ll list the steps to getting it done.

The important element in the body of the article is to fulfill the title and introduction’s promise. Using the Introduction example above, if you mentioned in the title and introduction that you’ll give the reader ‘five steps to help protect his website, then you must have five steps that will help the reader attain the success or results you promised.

Along with having it fulfill your promises, you need to make sure the content is organized, easy to understand, engaging, and shareable. And, most of all, make sure all the information needed to accomplish what your promise is there.

If you leave out an important step or tip, the reader won’t be able to accomplish what you promised he would.

6. The conclusion

In the conclusion you will paraphrase what the article was about. You’ll want to note the important takeaway points.

You might also engage the reader further by asking one or more questions. Going back to the introduction sample content above, you might ask the reader if she has any tips for protecting websites from hackers, or if she’s found a specific program/plugin that does the trick.

Further engaging the reader with questions motivates her to leave a comment.

To read Part One, please go to:

To read Part Three:

P.S. Like this post? Please share it!



Visit: Karen Cioffi, Freelance Writer
Professional, Reliable, and Experienced Writing Services - For Businesses and Individuals


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Social Media Accounts – Should You Consolidate Multiple Niches?

How many social media accounts to maintain is a dilemma that many of us face. At least those of us who have more than one niche / focus.

Do you combine your niches in your social media accounts or do you take the extra time and effort to maintain multiple accounts?

I’ll use me as an example. I have five specific niches, but I'll use just three of them:

1. I write and edit health content.
2. I ghostwrite, rewrite, and edit content for small businesses and home businesses.
3. I offer platform building (content marketing and inbound marketing) e-courses and e-classes to small businesses and home businesses (including individuals).

While these three businesses are within the writing and marketing arenas, their target market and focus are each very different.

So, what’s a writer-marketer to do?

Well, if you find yourself in the same situation, with more than one niche and they’re quite different, you need to take a step back and think from a marketing standpoint.

While it’s much easier to have only ONE Twitter account, one Facebook account, One Google+ account, one Linkedin account, it’s not marketing wise.

According to Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner (in a podcast), it comes down to resources – can you manage multiple channels. In general, from a marketing perspective, you want to be MORE FOCUSED. So, you need separate accounts. This will create a more engaged and loyal following.

Note: Since publishing this article, I created a second Twitter account. It worked well. I got followers, RTs, FAVs, and so on, but it was too time consuming keeping up with it. So, I let the new account go dormant. There are just so many hours in the day.  Keep this in mind when deciding how to separate your niches.


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A Freelance Writer’s Thanksgiving Prayer

I don't usually post on Tuesdays, but this post by Inkwell Editorial's Yuwanda Black is just amazing and I want to share it with you. It's a bit after Thanksgiving, but it's just too good not to share. So, here's the link:

A Freelance Writer’s Thanksgiving Prayer

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.




Blog Post Template – The 8 Standard Components (Part 1)

Whether you’re writing a blog post or an article, as part of your content marketing efforts, there will be eight standard components:

1.    Title
2.    Subtitle (optional, depending on the situation)
3.    Summary or Description
4.    Introduction
5.    Body
6.    Conclusion
7.    Keywords or Tags
8.    Bio

This is the first post of a 3 part series.

Here’s a breakdown of the article writing template, components one through three:

1. The title

Your title is about 90% of the article’s grabbing power. It needs to let the reader know what’s in it for him. It needs to let the reader know his question will be answered, his problem will be solved, or his need will be fulfilled. It needs to entice the reader to move into the article’s subtitle or introduction. It’s the attention ‘getter.’ In other words, it sparks enough interest for the reader to pause a moment to see what the article is about.

Here are 5 examples of effective titles:

Lose Weight - Shed 5 Pounds in 10 Days
Make Money Online Starting Today
Write a Book in Under 30 Days
Employee Incentive Plans Work – 5 Tips on Creating an Effective Plan Today
Has Your Website Been Hacked? Five Steps to Ensure it Doesn’t Happen Again

All five titles above let the reader know what’s in it for him or what he can learn, and four of them have a time element. This makes them effective.

Also, notice that each title is keyword effective.

2. The subtitle

The subtitle elaborates on the title. It gives more information, further motivating the read to read on. You may or may not include a subtitle; it will depend on the situation. If you do use a subtitle, be sure to include effective and relevant keywords.

Using the title above, Employee Incentive Plans Work – 5 Tips on Creating an Effective Plan Today, below is a possible subtitle:

Recent studies show that employee incentive plans foster an increase in worker productivity

Notice how I bring ‘studies’ into it and include two effective keywords for this particular niche. It’s all about optimizing where and when you can, without overdoing it.

3. The Summary

Whether you’re using article directories or posting to your own blog, a summary or description is an optimization tool. Most directories require one. And, Blogger and WordPress provide an option to input it. Whenever there is an option to enhance optimization, USE IT.

The summary is a brief, two to five sentence paragraph. It should be keyword effective and give the gist of the article. The idea is to make it enticing, motivating the reader to want more information.

To check out Part Two, components four through six, visit:


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