Using Synonyms: Creating Literary Gems With Rich, Varied Word Usage

I have a confession to make: when writing any paper, I have a dedicated tab open on thesaurus.com to help me come up with ways that will help my ideas flow seamlessly together. Indeed, a good writer is supposed to come up with their own ways to creatively express themselves. However, I suffer from a common problem: word repetition.

Every author that has ever tried to string together a comprehensive text eventually runs into a problem; we sometimes tend to write in a way that more closely reflects how we speak, rather than in a way that creates an easily readable and enjoyable text. There’s an important difference to note here.

Whereas documents are (supposed to be) written in a style that entices the reader to keep going, spoken language is an entirely different beast. When speaking, it’s common to use certain phrases repetitively – in such situations, we have the advantage of inflection, body language, and facial expression to helps to emphasize our ideas more clearly.

Writing doesn’t have that advantage. The closest tools we have in English to an indication of sentiment are emojis and they are rarely appropriate in anything except the most informal settings.

To counterbalance this, a good writer tries to use varied words with more or less the same meaning in his or her texts. Searching for synonyms is important when writing anything. If you use too many of the same words or expressions, you can get into slight trouble.

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How To Handle Criticism From A Client

Receiving negative feedback from a customer can be such a difficult aspect of freelance writing, it can make someone want to quit. I know because I’ve been there.

You finish a large assignment, thousands upon thousands of words, and you’re excited to pass your work off to your client and see what he or she thinks about it. You did your best and felt like you covered the full scope of what was required. You’re ready to take on more work and in the back of your mind, you may even be smugly impressed with your writing skills.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, you get a dreaded negative response to your article. I had just finished some work for a blog owner when I got this email from him (this happened just a couple of months ago):

I’m not very happy with your article, to be honest. This sounds childish. I don’t feel like you put any love into it. It needs a more personal touch and as well as a more professional tone overall.

I was livid. Didn’t put any love into it? WTF?!, I seethed to myself. I had just spent the better part of three days writing a pillar post for his blog, doing endless research about an obscure company almost nobody had ever heard about and had cross-referenced every single point I made.

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Writing Gripping Introductions: How To Command Attention From The Very First Sentence

Have you ever wondered why some authors are able to capture their audience’s hearts seemingly instantly while others struggle to keep their readers’ eyes open page after page? The secret lies in the introduction; simultaneously the most and least interesting part of an article.

Unless you’re writing heavily technical work for scientific publication, EVERY writer needs to know how to write an introduction. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a copywriter, a book author, or a weekend freelance blogger, if you don’t know how to captivate your audience within a few sentences, you’re not just losing money – you’re losing the potential to connect with an otherwise interested party.

Writing an introduction isn’t easy. I know this because I stare at the dreaded white emptiness of a blank page almost every day. Fortunately, I’ve been able to perfect the art of “getting into it” and I rarely suffer from writer’s block (my personal weakness is always the conclusion). However, before I created a creative formula, I had moments where it would take me up to a week to conjure some arcane way to introduce an idea.

READING an introduction isn’t easy either! Just look at your own reading habits: do you ever relish the idea of reading an introduction over and over? Probably not. In fact, if it feels too dreary, I usually skip right past the intro and dive right into the first chapter. Sometimes I even speed read the first chapter – I want to get to the good part as fast as possible. It seems like after a lifetime of being inundated by tiresome intro after intro, most readers hate reading the very first portions of a literary work. There are some exceptions to this that I will go over to perfectly illustrate the value of a well-written beginning.

Become the exception to the rule. Learn how to write the introduction well; in fact, make it your strong point. When you entertain your readers, arouse their curiosity, and spark their imagination, you begin having a conversation with them that can open doors.

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Raise Your Freelance Writing Prices in 2021

2021 is finally upon us! 2020 was quite an….”interesting” year, to put it lightly, and I’m already feeling like a new man. I wanted to write a mini-pep talk for my writing friends who want to make the best out of this year. As Coronavirus (hopefully) starts to wind down, I think massive opportunities are growing in our industry that should be seized.

You see, I had an epiphany when I woke up this morning that I wish to share with you:

It’s time to raise our prices.

The first thing I did this morning when I started working was to immediately increase my current rate from 10 cents a word to 15 cents a word. Why do I feel deserving of a self-imposed raise?

Because I’m worth it. End of story.

I’m actually worth much more than that, but I’m fine with working for $0.15 per word.

Over the last year, my writing skills have improved. My vocabulary increased. I read a lot more; not just about my niche, but a whole collection of books which broadened my perspective. I got feedback on my work that helped me to increase my skill in my craft. I work more but simultaneously feel happier. I am better today than I was yesterday, and I think that my fees reflect my personal growth over the course of a year.

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Does Your Blog Need A Niche? Spoiler Alert: YES

I received an email a month ago from one of my readers who seemed a little bit distressed:

Hey Anta, I wanted to start a new blog for 2021 but I was kind of stuck. You see, I have a bunch of different stuff that I like. I like go-karts, space travel, cooking, and budgeting. Is it possible to make a blog around all of these or can I build one website for everything?

Jon K.

I wanted to answer this question in-depth because it actually comes up a lot and I wanted a link I could just send to bloggers when they are just starting.

People are multi-faceted beings. Very few people only have one particular interest and nothing else holds their fancy. I personally struggle with trying to accommodate all of my interests within my working day and I rarely do. Additionally, our interests change over time. I’m sure my younger self would have been heartbroken if he knew his older self doesn’t really feel like collecting hot-wheels anymore, or that having a level 99 necromancer in Diablo 2 is the pinnacle of existence. It’s perfectly okay to have many interests; that just means you’re normal.

If you’re making a blog to be a personal journal to explore yourself, sure, go right ahead. Nobody will stop you. Creating a space to collect one’s thoughts probably something everyone should do. If you’re making a blog to make money, it’s a bad idea and in order to understand that fully, it’s important to examine what drives traffic to websites in the first place.

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How To Get Paid More Than $0.05 Per Word

When it comes to earning a dignified, living wage from freelance writing, a few common-sense rules need to be applied, especially if you want to do this long term.

Before we even begin, let tell you about a scenario, and please tell me if it sounds familiar:

You’re interested in making a little extra money, maybe even pay a few bills, maybe even rent if you can manage this month. You heard that freelancing can be a very lucrative way to make a quick buck, especially due to the low barrier of entry. You registered at several popular jobs boards like Freelancer.com, Upwork, etc… and perhaps you even wanted to take your chances on Fiverr. You notice the staggeringly low rates that people seem to be charging for volumes of content. Your heart sinks at the prospect of writing over 1000 words for somewhere between $30 and $50.

Welcome to the world of the content mill: a dystopian hell where writers are forced to use their creativity to compete against an underpaid, overworked global network of desperate workers. Gone are the days of landing clients that will pay you inordinate sums to spin out junk articles.

If this situation sounds like something you’re familiar with, don’t worry, there is much, much more to being a freelance writer than trying to grind out a meager living for substandard wages. If you want to make good money, the kind that can comfortably support a family while working a very reasonable number of hours, there are several things you need to keep in mind.

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Common Novice Writer Mistake #1: Stop Repeating Yourself.

“Anta, you’re not writing affirmations. Stop repeating yourself.”

When my mentor and long time business partner told me this, I took it personally.

I’m not repeating myself. What the hell? I thought to myself.

It turns out that my habit of writing variations of the same text was so ingrained, I was at the point where I didn’t even recognize it. A sly grin creeped on my friend’s face, as if he sensed my consternation. He started reading the beginning of my paragraph:

As the massive ship glided into the port, it seemed to almost swallow a smaller motorboat that struggled to maintain its place in the docks. The USS Wisconsin was truly, impressively enormous in every sense of the words. It was hard for little Sammy to comprehend the sight of the entire ship all at once.

“My God, it’s almost like an entire city in itself.”

“Hear the echo?” my friend asked. He thought that I was repeating myself too much and he had a point. I was underestimating my readers’ comprehension. I had already written that the ship was massive, and repeating that it was incomprehensibly enormous for two more sentences was stretching a description to its limit. Readers should have already gotten the point by then, and if I needed to drive the point further, I would have other opportunities to do so.

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Mind Hack: Using The Barnum–Forer Effect To Connect To Your Readers on a Fundamental Level

I recently came across a particularly interesting technique, which although can veer into the slightly unethical, clearly illustrates how a writer can use insights into human nature to improve their literature and connect with their audience.

Have you ever heard of the Barnum-Forer effect? Essentially, in the middle of the 20th century, several psychologists were trying to delve into the core characteristics individuals tended to attribute to themselves. They conducted a personality test where students were given a “personality test” and later were given the results of the test based on how they answered. There was a catch, though; everyone was given the exact same result.

Some of the students that participated in the study were so touched by the results, they were moved to tears!

Even more interesting was the fact that the personality traits they fabricated were based on horoscopes, graphology, and other controversial forms of parapsychology. Some of the common traits they included in their “results”, which we will be taking a deeper dive into were:

  1. You have a great need for other people to like and admire you.
  2. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage.
  3. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them.
  4. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved.
  5. Security is one of your major goals in life.

What exactly does that mean? Are human beings fundamentally the same? Do we all perceive a certain set of values and try to work towards them?

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4 Killer Ways To Encourage Your Audience To Take Action: Exploring The Nudge

After working in copywriting and freelancing for many years, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. People in our industry tend to mystify the sales process. Sure, there are hundreds of little things you can do to improve the conversion rate of a certain piece of copy, but ultimately, only a few factors decide whether or not someone will buy your product. Most of it comes down to the subtle art of influencing people.

No, I’m not referring to some weird mind control trick where expert level hypnosis is used. Influencing people is quite easy, and this article will dive deep into one particular method that is widely referred to as the nudge.

As an example, I’m notoriously bad at replying to emails and other text messages. However, contrary to my terrible habit, I replied very quickly just the other day to a message from a friend of mine. He specifically wanted to organize an event for several people to attend and was wondering which day would be most convenient for me. So, about a week ago, he sent me the following message:

Hey Anta, can you tell me on which date you’re free to attend the event?

Several days passed and I still hadn’t replied. Like I said, I’m terrible, but not necessarily intentionally. I had already seen the message and I had thought that I could probably respond at a later time. Procrastination seems to run deep in my veins haha. In fact, I had already formulated a response. After some time, my friend tried a different approach:

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The First Rule of Effective Writing: It’s Not About YOU

It seems a bit obvious to say, but in this digital age of instant consumption, readers are only becoming more impatient and quitting sooner than you might think. The average reader of this website stays for an average of 12 to 34 seconds before their attention span gets the better of them, and long before they can begin retaining any of the useful information I’ve jam-packed within. You have to take this information into account when writing for a client or even for your own projects.

Fortunately, it’s fairly simple, if not necessarily easy, to get into the head of the client and the reader. With a little bit of patience and practice, you can begin to reach the core of your audience and speak to them like a close friend.

Speak Plainly!

Clear communication with your customers ensures that they remain customers.

Let me say that another way for people that are slightly hard of hearing: simple, clear communication is what will put money in your pocket.

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