We've all experienced that sinking feeling you get when you look at an empty computer screen or a blank sheet of paper. Starting to write is the most difficult part of the process, and this is where formulas can help get you over that initial speed bump.
The first and easiest one is the interview. You can interview colleagues, clients, prospects or even yourself, if you're so inclined. Here's a clever idea you might want to consider.
Todd Black who's in charge of business development for a large software firm in Silicon Valley, proposed writing a regular column entitled ?The Winner's Profile?. It consisted of a short 300-word profile of leading executives in his industry. The benefits to Todd are numerous. It enables him to contact high profile prospects under a non-sales guise, which increases the likelihood of his call being returned. Who wouldn't want to receive free publicity and ego fulfillment by being profiled in an article like this?
It was a great way to initiate a conversation, which ultimately turned into many productive business relationships. If the trade publication in your industry isn't publishing such a ?winner's profile?, suggest it. Smaller publications are often starving for articles and your suggestion is likely to be received extremely positively.
If you don't have a prior endorsement from the trade publication, don't let that stop you. You can write the article on 'spec?. That is you write the article first, and then seek places to get it published. This is how I typically work. You can pitch it this way when you call a high profile person in your industry that you want to interview.
?Hi. This Mark Satterfield and I'm in the process of preparing an article for submission to Our Industry Trade Journal on emerging trends and was hoping I could get 20 minutes of your time to interview you for the article.?
I ask for 20 minutes because it's less demanding than asking for a half-hour but since hardly anyone actually schedules his or her time in 20-minute increments, you wind up getting at least a half-hour with the person.
Of course there is etiquette involved in this process. For example, you don't want to conduct the interview and then never actually write the article. That will come back to haunt you. On the couple of occasions where I've written an article but haven't found a place to publish it, I send a draft copy to the person I interviewed asking for their comments. Not only does this satisfy the individual's curiosity about what you wrote, but it's also another great excuse or reason to get back in contact with the person.
When the article does get published, I send everyone I interviewed a copy. This is a good idea to do even if you're sure that they received a copy of the publication through other sources. It's a nice professional touch, shows your consideration, and again it's a great excuse to stay in contact!
The interview format is the easiest to write because you're writing in the same style as you speak. Most people communicate just fine when they're speaking. This conversational style also works very well when communicating on paper.
A test that one of my editors told me early in my writing career, is to read out loud what you've written. If it sounds like you speaking, it's probably fine. Remember that in order to get published you've got to write. It's been my experience that the interview format is the quickest way to get your next article produced.
Mark Satterfield is the creator of the Gentle Rain Marketing System: How to Generate a Consistent Flow of New Clients. Quickly & Easily. With No Cold Calling. Find out more: