How To Write 1,217 Words A Day Every Day

Karen from Sacramento emailed me and asked how to write more blog posts. I write between 1,000 and 3,000 words per day. The way I do this is to have a writing framework that lets me define the topic, write the post and publish it very quickly. Here’s how I do it.

Karen from Sacramento emailed me and asked how to write more blog posts. I write between 1,000 and 3,000 words per day. The way I do this is to have a writing framework that lets me define the topic, write the post and publish it very quickly. Here’s how I do it.

How To Post Every Day On Your Blog

I was thinking about this at the weekend, more to see how I can get more impact and where to focus. A few things about how I write:

  • I use Windows Live Writer to do the publishing, great time saver.
  • I use an Editorial Calendar to plan what’s next. This keeps me focused and give more structure to what I do
  • I use Google Reader to bring all the sites I like to me, rather than chasing them down. Also, I try to stay focused (loyal) to these.
  • I do Emergency email first in the morning. The rest waits.
  • I turn on Facebook for 20-30 min in the morning, do my stuff and then close it. Back to work.
  • I write everything, including emails, in Microsoft Word. And then copy/paste into Outlook etc. I know Microsoft Word inside out and take advantage of things like the auto-correct features. Another timesaver.
  • I don’t answer the phone at work. Ever! Except from my wife.
  • I swim/run every second day to stay sane. This really helps. Otherwise, I get burnt out, cranky, depressed. Swimming helps the most as it gets the tension out of my neck, i.e. from all the PC work. Badminton also helps.

To the blogging…
So, I guess there are three things involved:

  • Finding the time
  • Doing the writing and
  • Getting it published

How To Be More Prolific

Here are a few ‘scenarios’ that work for me. I guess I should structure it a little better, but I hope you get the idea.
When I’m washing the dishes…
When I’m washing the dishes, I think of what I want to write today for the blog. For example, ‘how to write 1000 words per day every day.’
Next, while doing other household stuff, I do this:

  • Problem – what is it? 1 sentence
  • Solution – how to fix it?
  • Break out 5 bullet points

What next? What the reader should do next.
And that’s it. While doing the mundane stuff, I sketch out the article. Then, when I get 5 min, instead of reading the news, checking the sports etc, I get it into Word.
Back to household stuff….
When junior is gone to bed, I put my words around the material and try to get draft ready.
The next day, I spend 10 min on it, and get it into Live Writer. Publish.
I use the same technique when driving, on the metro, shopping, at the mall etc.
At the mall…
We were at a kids party today. 3 hours. The usual. I slipped away for 30 min or so. I have a notepad and did a quick outline in MacDs and also some photos, and a quick video with the camera. About 2 min. Then back to the party, pick up the kids etc.
So, I guess, I’m looking for ways to make 20-30 min here and there, get something started and then work towards completion.
Other things…
On LinkedIn, if I contribute something I usually write:

  • 1 sentence only – but make it count. Something that makes the reader pay attention or
  • 100 words — and then reuse this 100 words for an article elsewhere re: the topic on LinkedIn.

On blogs

  • I do the same thing. I have all the technical writing blogs in Reader and then go thru them in 30 min, adding a sentence here and there.

BUT when commenting:
I almost NEVER give high fives. I try to add one observation that stands out. Just one sentence.
Actually, it’s an interesting exercise in brevity and after a while it become second nature.
The key for me is to do as much prep work as possible.
If I can do the outline while washing the dishes or sweeping the floor, then I just have to type it out on the PC. Without reason, of course. But I rarely sit down cold at the PC and start. It takes forever to get anything out.
Does that help?

Warren Buffett and the Benefits of Plain English Writing Techniques

Ever read an annual report from Warren Buffet. Try it. Easy, isn’t it? Few successful business-people write so clearly. There is no pretension, no haughty references to obscure allusions and no strange acronyms. It’s all there in black and white. Here’s what Buffet had to say about other business writers, though,

“For more than forty years, I’ve studied the documents that public companies file. Too often, I’ve been unable to decipher just what is being said or, worse yet, had to conclude that nothing was being said. If corporate lawyers and their clients follow the advice in this handbook, my life is going to become much easier.

In the late 90s, I found the Plain Language writing technique almost by accident. It’s also called Plain English, by the way. I was reading a lot about Warren Buffet a few years back and came across a nice, short document he wrote for the SEC. These are the folks who submit legal and business document to Wall Street when going on the stock exchanges. Buffet writes like he speaks. Direct, immediate and without pretension. Continue reading “Warren Buffett and the Benefits of Plain English Writing Techniques”

A Simple Four-Step Strategy for Developing Business Proposals That Work

It’s hard working in the dark, isn’t it? I’ve been looking at Business Proposals for a client all week (I assess Business Plans and Proposals as part of my consultancy services) and have found it very difficult to make a recommendation. Here’s the problem. The proposals are fine. They’re well-written. They look good. They have (almost) no grammar or typing errors. Even the prices are fine. So, what’s the problem?

It’s hard working in the dark, isn’t it? I’ve been looking at Business Proposals for a client all week (I assess Business Plans and Proposals as part of my consultancy services) and have found it very difficult to make a recommendation. Here’s the problem. The proposals are fine. They’re well-written. They look good. They have (almost) no grammar or typing errors. Even the prices are fine. So, what’s the problem?

Business Requirements Excel Matrix Business Requirements Excel Matrix Continue reading “A Simple Four-Step Strategy for Developing Business Proposals That Work”

Business Planning Guy Kawasaki Style

‘Simple and to the point is always the best way to get your point across.’ Guy Kawasaki

Does this sound familiar? You’ve started a business, built products, made some sales, and started to scale. But your cashflow has ground to a halt! You need funds to drive the business forward and also ensure it doesn’t slide backwards. Investment is the answer, right?

Why no-one wants to write a Business Plan?

Here’s the part no-one wants to hear.

It takes effort.

You didn’t get a degree in college by accident. You have to put in the hours, get the credits, and make the effort. We all understand this. Effort equals reward. And it’s the same if you want to get your business to graduate. It takes time, effort, and a little dedication.

So, to grow the business you need to develop a Business Plan to get the (significant) funding you need and also to clarify to yourself what direction the business should be heading in. I hear what you’re thinking. I know you can find articles that tell tall tales about companies setting up with no business plan and ‘following their passion’. And it’s true, some companies grow by the seat of their pants. But the exception doesn’t prove the rule.

Still not convinced you need a Business Plan?

Guy Kawasaki & The Biggest Mistake in Startups Business Plans

Tim Berry shares this research findings which show that, ‘those who finished their Business Plans were about twice as likely to successfully grow their business, get investment, or land a loan than those who didn’t. You can see the numbers on the chart.

But, you’re not sure how to write a Business Plan. Anyway, many investors laugh at the idea of writing Business Plans. Seems a little dated, right?

What investors say on their twitter-feeds to look cool and what they do in the office are not always the same. They want to know who you are, what you’re selling, and what the profit margin is.

Where To Get Funding?

You can get funding in different ways, though.

You can get it from yourself (mortgage your house), your family (Dad, we don’t talk enough, I have this idea, maybe you’d be interested …), friends (look, you trust me, right? Well, I have this amazing idea, let me explain. maybe you’d be interested.)

Each of these has its own merit and somewhere on the web is a case study of a guy who built an million dollar company in his garage. Remember, the exception proves the rule!

Taking Investment From Friends?

One warning about taking investment from friends. If you lose the money, you may lose the friendship. I’d advise you to keep business and friends apart. If you need money, go to the Chamber of Commerce, Venture Capitalists, or explore other investment options, such as SBA or bank loans.

What Goes Into A Business Plan?

One school of thought is to develop a 1 Minute Investor Pitch also called an Elevator Pitch. For example, if you met Warren Buffet—and had just one minute—how would you pitch your idea?

I don’t know if this works in the real world. Somehow, I doubt if Warren Buffet or Guy Kawasaki invest in firms on the basis of an Elevator Pitch. They want detail. One way to get those details is to develop a Business Plan.

How To Develop A Business Plan

Guy Kawasaki says that it’s the people involved in the business that interest him first.

  • Will they drive this business forward?
  • Can he trust these them with his investment money?
  • Will they stick with it through the difficult periods?
  • What’s their track record?
  • Have they don’t this before?
  • What’s their biggest weakness?
  • Do they know their own biggest weakness?
  • If not, how will this impact the business?
  • Investors invest in people.

Ok, what does this mean for your Business Plan?

The Biggest Mistake In Business Planning

Remember when I said that people invest in people. The number one mistake to avoid in Business Plans is not talking about your people. Or to put it another way, not weaving their story into your business plan.

  • Talk about your team,
  • What drives them?
  • Why did they build this product?
  • Why did they leave their former employer to create this product?
  • Where did they come from? Both socially,
  • How they got there? Discuss their qualifications and how they will drive the project onwards.
  • What are their ambitions? Why do they believe in this project over a comfortable 9-5 job?
  • Why do I need to do this?

Even if your business model is excellent, if the people involved are ‘perceived’ to be raw/weak/inexperienced, the project will most not get the funding it requires.

So, your story needs to be very compelling.

Most startups fail, not because of the product, but because those involved didn’t have the long-term commitment to the project.

So, when writing your Business Plan, develop each section to highlight how your team (and why it has to be your team!) will be the ones to make this happen. Why they will be the ones to ‘carry the can’ when things get rough.

How To Write A Business Plan?

Break it into eight sections.

1 – Business Concept

  • Define your product or service – outline what you’re offering in its simplest terms.
  • What problem does it address – describe the single most important problem is solves.
  • This tells the reader what you’re offering and what problem you’re solving.

2 – Target Market & Potential Customers

Break out the target market and the number of customers you hope to attract.

  • Who are your target customers?
  • What is the market size?
  • How large will this market be in the next 2,5,10 years?
  • How do you plan to attract customers?
  • What is your sales strategy?
  • What is your marketing plan to promote your company?

All of this is speculation. You don’t know how many customers will actually buy. Maybe none! But, you have to future plan so you can attract the investment you need.

3 – Competitive Advantage

In this section of your Business Plan, describe what gives you a Competitive Advantage.

  • What makes your business unique?
  • What patent do you have (or will develop) that will generate royalties?
  • What makes your product than others in ways you can quantify? For example, you can provide credit cards to teenagers. Most companies are not authorized to give credit cards to teenager. You can! That’s your competitive advantage.
  • Identify the greatest obstacles to the success of your company and not just competitors. Maybe it’s legislation, drug trials, testing, complianc
    e, IT platforms, or other issues such as lack of experience.

4 – Competitor Analysis

Next, counter-balance the claims made in your Competitive Advantage and identify the three ways your competitors may undermine your business. If you don’t know your competitors, you have looked hard enough!

  • Who are your three main competitors?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Could you partner with them?

5 – Legal & Managerial Issues

In the next part of the Business Plan, look at the nitty-gritty of setting up a business from a legal perspective. While this may seem boring at first, hire the right lawyer and accountant to setup your company.

For example, setting up as a Limited company (LLC, LTD) gave me tax breaks that I didn’t have as a sole trader, single businessperson or partner. You can also set as a charity or religious organization and avail of tax breaks that way.

  • How will you setup the company? Most likely as a limited company but you may also consider making it a partnership, corporation, or other business type.
  • What other legal considerations need to be organized, for example, patent protection, and copyright?
  • Identify the organizations, companies, groups you plan to build relationships with? For example, Chambers of Commerce, international trade organization, peer groups, industry bodies.

6 – Finances

Financials are the heart of the Business Plan. It’s where the investors will examine the numbers, run business model calculations, and see what profit margins can be made.

See this Cost Benefit Analysis Template for more details.

  • Using tables or matrices may help present the financial data, especially for projections.
  • How much will it cost to make your product?
  • How much will it cost for recruitment?
  • How much will it cost for marketing?
  • How much will it cost for equipment, software, hardware etc?
  • How much will it cost for operations, office, infrastructure etc?
  • How much will it cost for salaries?
  • How much total up-front investment is needed?
  • How will your company generate revenue?
  • When will your company break even?
  • How will you use the profits you generate?

7 – Management Team

If the investors get past the Financials, they’ll want to see who’s involved.

  • Describe each team member’s background.
  • Describe the unique skills they bring to the project.
  • Explain why this is a winning team? Why the investors should believe in the team.
  • What other people/skills do you need to find?
  • Add resumes to the appendix.

8 – Appendices

Include any supplementary information (graphs, charts, statistics, research etc) that would help you put your idea in context.

Conclusion

Provide the answers to the questions that the investors will most likely have. Let me put that in better English.

Write the Business Plan from the perspective of the investor. No investor wants to invest in a project unless it passes all the tests. From an investment perspective, put yourself in their shoes. What fears are they most likely to have? Then address these fears. What concerns will they have about your team? Describe the unique attributes that make your team special. Where will the profits come from? What contingencies do you have in place?

It’s classic FUD. Address their Fears, examine where they have Uncertainly, and why they might Doubt you. Then respond to each of these point by point.

Business Plan Excel Templates
Business Plan Excel Templates

Over to you.

If I were to help you write your next Business Plan, what would be the one area you’d want to do first. Let me know and we’ll discuss it here next week?

Please share your thoughts below.

About the Author: Ivan Walsh provides Business Tips for Smart People on Klariti.com. His also runs the Business Plan Blog at http://www.ivanwalsh.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/ivanwalsh

PS – you can download the Business Plan Template here

40 Tips to Increase Your Business Writing Productivity

37 Tips to Boost Your Business Writing Productivity
Working in China means more business writing and less technical writing, especially proposal development, web marketing case studies and white papers. As a few of the folks I hang out with on LinkedIn are also moving into business writing, I thought I’d add a few tips for business writing. While there is some overlap with technical writing, it does require a different mindset, for example, to understand the emotional drivers that persuade customers to accept or reject business proposals.

40 Tips to Increase Your Business Writing Productivity

This article on business writing reminds us that our sales, marketing, business, and proposal development does not stand alone.
This list gives 37 ways to improve your next proposal. Scroll through it and tell me what I missed.

  1. Show that your response is logical and organized
  2. Make the information easy to find. Cross reference against the Request For Proposal
  3. Include a table of contents for proposals over 10 pages in length
  4. Show that your response is logical and organized.
  5. Make the information easy to find. Cross reference against the Request For Proposal
  6. Include a table of contents for proposals over 10 pages in length
  7. Ensure that your Proposal is in compliance with the RFP
  8. Arrange material in order of priority to the reader
  9. Arrange everything in the order that’s most important to the client
  10. Arrange the response in accordance with their requirements
  11. Number pages and sections consecutively; do not re-number each section
  12. Use headings that make sense to your readers. See Audience Analysis template.
  13. Each section title should stresses the main benefits
  14. Each section title should help readers orient themselves
  15. If possible, express the key point of the section in the headline, or immediately after it.
  16. Highlight important points
  17. You can emphasize the most positive points by using bold, underlining, different fonts, spacing, titles, bullets and summaries
  18. Sell the Message.It needs to have an emotional element. This is not a technical document. You need to hit the pain points.
  19. Respond completely. Don’t skip anything.
  20. Answer every question in the RFP. Failure to respond correctly to the RFP may disqualify your proposal. The client put these questions in for a reason, and expect an answer.
  21. Avoid banal headings and titles
  22. Rather than say “Development Section,” say “Ten Ways to Improve Your Processes”
  23. Use action verbs in heads, especially verbs that stress a benefit for the client
  24. Avoid boilerplate
  25. Don’t recycle resumes and corporate profiles from previous proposals; modify them in accordance for the proposal at hand. Using old, tired resumes will be perceived by the reader, and will count against you when they can making the final judgments.
  26. Avoid hype, padding and other self-congratulatory drivel. Remember that the proposal is a legal document that becomes part of the contract if you win
  27. Support your recommendations
  28. By giving specific details and quantifying the benefits whenever possible
  29. Don’t just say that you will comply with a requirement — say how we’ll do so
  30. Don’t attack competitors. Refer to rival products if you must.
  31. Point out the weaknesses of alternative solutions.
  32. Use a strong closing statement
  33. Ask for their business; tell the reader exactly what you want him or her to do
  34. Remind the reader of the benefits of taking action
  35. Avoid business cliché’s
  36. Avoid hackneyed openings and closings that clients have read a thousand times. Avoid “I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for considering the enclosed . . .” Get to the point: “Here is your proposal.” Avoid “If you have any questions, please feel free to call.” That closing has been done to death, so avoid it and write something more genuine.
  37. Make your proposal easy to understand
  38. Use the same terms and jargon that appear in the RFP. Don’t try to impress the client with your own special brand of buzzwords or TLA (three-letter acronyms)
  39. Use simple, direct language
  40. Close your business documents on a high note. Don’t be too humble. A little confidence never hurt!

The Right Way To Comment On Chris Brogan’s Blog

chris brogan wants your opinionWhat’s the right way to comment on other people’s blogs? Ari reckons that comments should be unique. Don’t write the same comment on every blog; don’t drone on if your point can be made quicker. Be unique, quick & current. I agree with the first two but not the third. How you comment on other blogs is noticed by others. If all you say is ‘great post’, you’re losing an opportunity to contribute and offer an opinion. You have opinions, right?

Continue reading “The Right Way To Comment On Chris Brogan’s Blog”

How to Write Killer Headlines Like Andrew Chen: 21 CopyWriting Do's and Dont's

Copyblogger fans, if you want to see great web copy, read Andrew Chen. I’m going to show you his top 15 posts from last year. What do you see? The headlines are very compelling; smart little nuggets that draw you in. The secret is how he combines several copywriting techniques so well. It looks seamless. And that’s what makes it so great.

andrew-chen If you want to see great web copy, read Andrew Chen. I’m going to show you his top 15 posts from last year. What do you see? The headlines are very compelling; smart little nuggets that draw you in. The secret is how he combines several copywriting techniques so well. It looks seamless. And that’s what makes it so great.
Continue reading “How to Write Killer Headlines Like Andrew Chen: 21 CopyWriting Do's and Dont's”

How To Write Blog Posts Faster & Save Your Fingers From Exhaustion

What to know how to type faster and get those blog post online quicker? I use the AutoCorrect feature in Word to speed things up. Most writers use it to correct typos and clean up your document AFTER it’s written. That’s fine but it’s more productive it you can correct the document AS YOU WRITE it. Here are some other tricks that help write docs faster.
Continue reading “How To Write Blog Posts Faster & Save Your Fingers From Exhaustion”

How to write Link Bait for Digg, Reddit or StumbleUpon

Want to be on the very first page of Digg.com? You’d be famous, right? Here’s how to do it.
Link Bait has one specific aim — get me to the top of Digg.com. The idea is that once you get there, others will click through to your site and you can reap the rewards once they arrive. Of  course, it’s not that simple but if understand the mechanics of how Digg works —and what interests Diggers—then you’re one step closer.
So, pull up a chair, grab your coffee and sit back.
1. Study Digg – this is the number 1 mistake people make. They don’t hang out on Digg, get a feel for what’s happening and learn to judge what will work or not. So, sign up, log in and engage.
Why bother?
Well, it’s like writing a travel guide on Italy without ever having pizza on the Step of Rome. Once you’re there, everything makes more sense. Digg, Delicious and the rest are all the same.
Tip — if you want to succeed with link bait, focus on one site. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
Ok, you’ve signed up. Use a real name if possible, not greenpig715.
People relate to real names; they are more likely to dig you if you sound human than use an avatar. But there are exceptions, I know.
2. Create a Swap File.
A what?
This is a file where you will keep links, snippets of text and other link bait that impresses you.
Told you it would take some time!
Now, this isn’t hard. You just need a text file and then copy/paste in whatever stands out.
Why is this so important?
Ans: headlines.
3. Headlines
Look at the DIGG homepage. What do you see?
Headlines. Lots of them.
Copy and paste the top 10 headlines into your swap file. Do this as often as you can.
Notice anything?
Most of them are lists.

  • 5 ways to sleep while working
  • 7 ways to wash your iPod
  • 10 ways to alienate your children

People like lists. And what else do they like?
4. Benefits
Give your heading an extra boost by adding a nice, juicy benefit.
For example,

  • 5 beers that get you drunk faster & make you smarter
  • 7 ways to break your iPod & get an instant refund
  • 10 ways to alienate your children & win an award

You get the idea.
All of these are slightly idiotic but—here’s the thing—you’re tempted to see what’s on the other side of the link.
5. Write to be scanned
No-one reads on the web, they all scan.
So, write to be scanned.
Write your article or blog post so that readers will scan down through the article — like you’re doing now — go, “yeah, I like this” and then, fingers crossed, hit the DIGG IT button and do us all a good deed.
Sounds to easy. It is. You need to also…
6. Add ‘off-beat’ images
Avoid PC junk. Add an image that captures the mood and will appeal to the reader. Something with an edge but not too risky.
Humor also works. Get it wrong and you look lame.
7. Credibility
It takes time but if you join other networks and comment on others post, guess what?
They’ll hang out with you and give you a few digs. This does work but it’s a really slow way to generate link bait. It does work, but, well, it’s not for me.
8 & 9  Test & Re-Test

Here’s something I do and it works.
Write a 300 word article. About anything. Doesn’t matter.
Spend 20 min and come up with 20 variation on the same headline. Have fun. Shuffle the words upside down, inside out and back to front.
It’s yours to play with. Enjoy it.

  • Mon – submit the 1st headline. On Wed, record the Diggs.
  • Thurs – change the headline and submit it. Record the Diggs.
  • Sat — change again and submit it. Record the Diggs.

And so on…
Then what happens?
Patterns begin to emerge. Some headings bomb.
No-one clicks on them.
Not even your Mom, kids or pet Labrador, Caesar.
Others take off!
Paste these into your swap file (remember him) and use this as a starting point.
Twitter is also another way to test headlines.
Remember – No-one bookmarks tweets.
It you know how to write, people will click thru.
And finally…
10. Practice
Like all things, the more you practice, the better you get.
Focus on writing amazing headlines, develop super-sharp content, and you’ll get the Diggs.
Want to know more?
Top Diggs of the year
7 Days – http://digg.com/all/popular/7days
365 Days – http://digg.com/all/popular/365days
Check these out and you can see what people are interested in. These are the big hitters.
Avoid news of the day type material. The web is saturated before you even get there.
Write, submit, Digg.
What do you think?
What’s the best example you’ve seen of link bait? Was it the words or the images?

How to Blog Almost Every Day – Use the Inverted Pyramid story format

MobileRadio.hk 紀念出席了creative commons 的 pin
Image by jonathansin via Flickr

Do you want to update your blog every day?
Chris Brogan provides this framework for writing a blog post (almost) every day. He adds that while it’s not easy, once you develop the right habits, they stick with you. I’m writing quite regularly now, but it took me several years to get my groove down to a science. Continue reading “How to Blog Almost Every Day – Use the Inverted Pyramid story format”