What I’m working on this week (Aug 26 – 30)

Well last week was interesting. I had a bunch of deadlines on Monday and I didn’t get them all finished. So I got up early on Tuesday to work on them and I my computer wouldn’t turn on. The little “on” light worked for a second and then there was a click and the I could hear the fan power down.

I called a tech service and the earliest they could book me in was August 27th!!! So I worked the phones like a cold-calling specialist until I found someone who could actually follow through on what their ad promised: “Same Day Service”. But he delivered the bad news: My computer could not be repaired. So I ran out to Best Buy, bought another one, and was up and running by Tuesday evening.

In the big scheme of things, it wasn’t too big of a disaster because nearly all of my files were backed up. However, not ALL of my files were backed up. I back up all of my finished work but I had a couple of files that I was writing on Sunday and Monday, and those hadn’t been backed up yet. So I had to rewrite one of those documents on Wednesday and another on Friday (I was out of the office on Thursday). Overall, not a big loss but a few days of unexpected busyness.

I’m almost caught up to the work I intended to have done Monday. Most of those were finished last week and the rest should be done by this evening but things have been progressing a little more slowly than usual because, along with rewriting those couple of lost files last week, I also had to re-download software, get reminded of passwords that were stored in my old computer’s browser, etc.

Oh, and I was stung by a wasp. Obviously not the end of the world, haha, but my foot is still swollen.

Moving forward. What do I have cooking this week? Lots of fun stuff: Mostly copywriting for the real estate industry, plus my 100 proposals goal took a bit of a beating last week, plus I have an ad being published in a magazine in early September and I need to make sure all my systems and processes are set up to be ready for that.

Have a great week!

Financial fiction review: ‘The Capitol Game’ by Brian Haig

Love financial fiction? So do I. And I review them for you!

In this post I’m reviewing…

The Capitol Game by Brian Haig

High stakes corporate takeover… but is someone getting swindled?

OVERVIEW: Brian Haig brings readers into the high stakes world of corporate takeover. In this story, Jack Wiley brings a struggling chemicals company to a private equity firm, tempting them with billions of dollars from government military defense spending. The firm jumps at the deal and puts a plan in motion to rake in their cash… at all costs. They willingly cut corners and do shadowy deals until things start to unwind and the deal takes twists and turns that they never expected. And in the final chapter of the book, all the threads are brought together in a huge twist.

REVIEW: Brian Haig is an accomplished writer with several political/financial fiction dramas under his belt. What I like about the story is that it’s all about big money, big deals, big egos, and the edge-of-your-seat excitement of pitching deals, negotiating, and raking in stacks of cash… all the elements that a financial fiction aficionado loves. My favorite part of the book was the very beginning when Jack Wiley brings the deal to the private equity company and then negotiates a huge deal.

My biggest complaint is that the story really felt like it lacked a main character that you could root for. Jack Wiley was presented in the earlier chapters as the main character and there were times when you were really cheering for him to win… but you never get close enough to him to get emotionally connected. The author likely did this so that he could reveal the big twist at the end of the book (which, unfortunately, was pretty easy to guess by about halfway through the book). But that writing choice really hurt the book because the “main character” (if you could call him that) tended to disappear for pages on end and you never really knew what he was thinking or feeling or why he’d choose to do one thing over another. In fact, you knew much more of what most of the other characters were thinking or doing compared to the main character. So it became hard to care for the main character or understand why he did various things. And when the big twist was finally revealed, It uncovered a huge flaw in the story (but I can’t give away too much because I don’t want to spoil the story for someone else). I think an example of how an author does a better job of handling this type of character connection and “big reveal” at the end is in Grisham’s The Runaway Jury.

FINANCIAL FICTION QUOTIENT: This book straddles the line between financial fiction and political fiction and it explores the shadowy underbelly of each arena. I’m calling it a financial fiction book because it really is — it’s the story of a big financial deal in the world of private equity and the political triumphs and catastrophes that result. As far as financial fiction goes, this book is pretty easy to follow, even for someone with little or not financial background. The only numbers are just dollar figures, which anyone can easily follow. So there is a lot about private equity and deal-making in here (especially at the very beginning) but it’s not intimidating at all.

SUMMARY: Haig is a good writer and although I could see the twist coming from a mile away, the style was engaging enough for me to want to finish the book and the story was satisfying. I was happy with the financial quotient in the book and found that it supported the story rather than distracted from it. I wished for more twists that I didn’t see coming and I really wanted to get more involved in the main character’s life.

Find more financial fiction reviews here.

Aaron Hoos’ weekly reading list: ‘Content marketing, WordPress security, and content tools’ edition

Aaron Hoos: Weekly reading list

Here’s a selection of stuff I’ve been reading this week:

  • The SEO’s dilemma: Link-building versus content marketing: The article itself was from a couple of weeks ago but I’m just getting to it now. What I liked about this article is that it highlighted a disparity I barely knew existed. But as soon as I read it, I realized that definitely trend toward one side versus the other. As a writer, I frequently default to the content marketing side and just assumed that there was a lot of overlap between link building and content marketing. But this article opened my eyes and helped me to realize just how strategic you need to be, and that you really should consider doing both. And I love that it really comes back to goals and metrics.
  • WordPress security tips: Marketing and PR pro Karen Swim had her website hacked a couple of months ago. I only noticed it because some links I had previously posted to her site from my blog were suddenly showing up as Not Found. I visited her site and saw a post that she was frustrated by a recent hacking. Then she linked to a list of resources she has collected to help WordPress owners keep their websites more secure. This is a good read and if you have a WordPress website, make sure you start implementing these things!
  • Content tools to boost your search performance: In this article over at the Content Marketing Institute, they share some really useful tools you can use to help you discover keywords, research your competition, optimize your content, and more. Good stuff.

Financial advisor article published at Agent eNews: Develop an expert status that attracts your target market

I’m co-writing a series of articles for financial professionals, along with my colleague Rosemary Smyth, an international coach to financial advisors.

One of our articles was posted at the Agent eNews. The article explains the importance of an expert status in differentiating advisors from their many competitors.

Check out the article at the link below:

Develop an expert status that attracts your target market

Making sense of writers’ titles: Freelancer, ghostwriter, content marketer, copywriter, technical writer, and more!

It’s funny — when you’re in an industry long enough, you pick up terminology and assume everyone knows it too. This happened to me frequently last week. I’m selling an ebook about how to become a freelance writer and there have been several times when I’ve been asked (through email and during interviews) to define different titles for writers.

So I’m going to attempt to do that here. However, you should be aware that this certainly isn’t a complete list and some writers (myself included) will occasionally combine or alter the titles according to their brand and the services they provide. But this is a good workable list.

The interesting thing about this list is that the titles are built for different purposes — sometimes describing the medium written, sometimes describing the types of content written, and sometimes describing the business model of the writer.

WRITERS’ TITLES AND THEIR DEFINITIONS

  • Writer: This is the generic title for someone who writes anything. I prefer this title for my own business since it encompasses a variety of writing methods and models, plus I can stick any combination of “Business”, “Finance”, and “Real Estate” onto the front when needed.
  • Author: This is the title for someone who writes books. Typically it’s reserved for someone who writes print books but I think that is really changing. There’s so much grey area in the industry now, you’ll see it used for someone who writes Kindle books and I think you’ll see it more and more for ebook writers, too.
  • Blogger: This is the title for someone who writes exclusively for blogs. A blogger might only write for their own blog or they might be hired by others to write bylined or non-bylined blog content for other blogs.
  • Freelance writer: This is the title used to describe a writer who is hired by someone else to write for them. It’s built around their business model (that is, they freelance — obviously!). Some freelance writers require a byline (they require their name to appear on the content they wrote, such as if they wrote for a magazine) although this “byline rule” isn’t always the case. Freelancers may be generalists (they’ll write anything for any client) or they might be specialists (they’ll write specific content for a specific category of clients). To give you an example, I do some freelance writing but usually only hired by financial and real estate professionals to write online content.
  • Ghostwriter: A ghostwriter is very similar to what I’ve described as a freelance writer, above, except that they don’t require a byline. Again, they might be generalists or specialists.
  • Journalist: This is the title typically used to describe someone who writes bylined copy (i.e. it has their name on it) about news, current events, politics, business, etc. There is often an investigative element to their writing and they’re hired by a company (such as a newspaper or blog) to report on something (compare this to a ghostwriter who might be hired by a company to write on behalf of that company).
  • Copywriter: This is the title used for a writer who specifically writes copy that is meant to compel an action. This might be direct mail or infomercials or sales letters. A copywriter might be employed by an agency or they might be freelance.
  • Technical writer: This is the title used to describe someone who distills technical content into understandable, usable formats. There are very few freelance technical writers; they are mostly employed by organizations. Technical writers create policy and procedure manuals, instruction manuals, and “how-to” material.
  • Content marketer: This is a fairly new title and, as the name suggests, it’s used to describe a writer who creates marketing content. They might freelancers or employed, and often the content is for online consumption. In my experience, content marketers tend to work on the traffic-generation side of marketing rather than the sales side (which is often done by copywriters)… although this is certainly not a hard and fast rule.
  • Internet marketer: Although you might not immediately think of this person as a writer, they really are because the internet is so copy-driven right now. (That’s changing; we’re seeing more video and image marketing but words still dominate). I should point out that there are other types of internet marketers who are not writers, and these include search engine optimization specialists and traffic data analysts.

There’s a lot of confusion around these terms (and, as you read these, you probably notice that they’re not always well-defined) but these are the basic building blocks. (Additional reading: I tried to make sense of two of these titles in another blog post: What is the difference between copywriting and technical writing?)

Of course, you may encounter writers who add different words or combine some of these together. For example, I often refer to myself as a “Business, Finance, and Real Estate Writer” and other times I brand myself as a real estate investing copywriter. You might meet someone who calls themselves a “freelance ghostwriter” or a “freelance blogger” or a “freelance journalist” or a “journalist blogger” or an “internet marketing copywriter” or a “scriptwriter” or a “grantwriter” or a “health copywriter”… and the list goes on and on.