Why I’m Better than AI

Recently, a friend introduced me to copy.ai, which is an artificial intelligence (AI) website that writes marketing material. When I first looked through the website, my stomach dropped. My initial thought was, “AI is going to put me out of a job!” I’m sure many people have that fear and in fact is a news story that I, myself, have covered for the radiology publication AuntMinnie.com.

After my initial freak out, I probed deeper into the question: “Will AI put me out of a job?” After taking a deep breath and mulling it over, I decided no, it won’t. Maybe I’m being naïve, but I can’t see AI doing what I do. Oh sure, it can generate generic copy, it can follow a template, it can be a plug-and-play option for certain businesses, but it can’t do what I do. You know why? Because what I do requires decision-making, creativity, and empathy. In short, it requires something a machine can never provide: humanity.

writer for therapists.
Machines can only replace so much. Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

You might be saying to yourself, “Well, AI has to make decisions all the time. That’s what a decision tree is for.” You’re right, but when faced with multiple interview sources, how can AI decide which quote to lead with? How can it determine what information to include and what information to leave out? How can AI know who is “quoteworthy” and who isn’t? As a freelance journalist but also a ghostwriter for therapists, I make those decisions all the time. They’re based on what the publication has already covered, what will be a continuation of the conversation, and what’s truly new. When I write an article, I research what has already been written about it to make sure I’m not repeating material and also to see how I can expound upon what’s already been reported. Maybe AI will eventually be able to do all that, but we’re not there yet.

Something else AI can’t do is create. It instead takes content that’s been written before and uses it again. AI is a copycat. Sure, you have “originality” with a word here and there, but AI doesn’t create something altogether unique or personalized. It can’t. AI has limits and works with what the developers have fed into the algorithm. There are options to choose from and that’s it. AI creates cookie cutter material and frankly it irritates the crap out of me. It feels so, well, soul-less. Because it is. Copy generated by a computer is stripped of all emotion and is hard for me to connect to because there is no humanity to facilitate a connection. There may be “pretend” emotion, there may be “emotional” words, but how can the writing material contain any more than that?

writer for therapists
Human emotion is real. Machine emotion is not. Photo by S&B Vonlanthen on Unsplash

That’s not the case with me. I have emotion for days over here! I’m someone who wears my heart on my sleeve and more than that I have formal training in nonviolent communication and practice it regularly. Plus, I have an emotional hygiene practice where I express my emotions and recognize them for the tools and messengers that they are. I bring that emotionality, that empathy to everything I do. When I interview someone, I connect with them as a person. I ask them how they’re doing, I’m curious to hear their thoughts, I actively listen to what they’re saying. It’s why I’ve written so many features in my career – because I’m good at it. Give me a feature story and I’ll knock it out of the park. You know why? Because I’m a human being that relates to other human beings.

Ultimately what makes my writing special is the soul I put into it. I put myself into the writing – the word choice, the flow, the voice. When people read what I’ve written they instantly know it was written by a person because it’s clear there’s a person behind the keyboard. That’s also true when I ghostwrite for therapists because in that instance I’m embodying someone else’s voice. I’m thinking about what they would say, not what I would say so in that case too there’s a person behind the keyboard.

writer for therapists
No artificial intelligence typing on these keys! Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Why am I better than AI? Precisely because I’m not a machine. If you want to liven up your copy, make it peppy, I can do that. If you want to make your copy more formal, I can do that too. If you want to convey a story, I’m your gal. If you’re having a tough day and want a compassionate person to interact with, that’s me as well. Instead of having a machine spit out some copy that will read like every other copy it spits out – you can have personalized, soulful, creative material written by a person who understands nuance, which is something a machine will never be able to give you.

If you’re interested in working together, contact me to see if we’re a good fit.

Why You Want to Work with Me

The other week, a client emailed me and said, “You could call your business ‘Beyond Words’ because you offer so much more than writing blogposts.” I blushed reading that – and told her I appreciated her comment – but it also got me thinking. Why would she say that? And also, what else is it that I offer other than ghostwriting for therapists or content marketing for small businesses? More than my services, what do people get when working with me?

Me. They get me. And who is that? If you want all the labels, I’m an INFJ (introverted, intuitive, feeling, judging person) on the Myers-Brigg test. I’m a feeler but I also have a sharp mind. As an enneagram 1, I care about integrity, ethics, and details. I’m a perfectionist and want to get things right. I’m an idealist and always strive to improve whatever it is I’m working on. Lastly, I’m a highly sensitive person, which means I’m easily overstimulated (thus well suited to working as a writer!) and in tune with my environment and people around me. That means I understand what people are going through in a real way and offer understanding as well as flexibility. Did you just move? Are you going on vacation? I’m happy to give you some leeway in our work together.

san francisco content marketer

Some people might call me a bad businesswoman because instead I should point to the contract and say, “Well, you said you’d do X so now you have to,” but, well, that’s not who I am. I’m a person who values care and consideration and wants others to do the same. I can be hard-nosed about some things, but when it comes to people, I’m a big softie. That doesn’t mean I’m a doormat – I’ll say “no” and mean it according to my personal boundaries – but for the most part, I cut people lots of slack.

On top of all the personal traits that make me who I am, you also want to work with me because I deliver what I promise on time or even early! You don’t have to take my word for it – you can read my testimonials. But maybe you’re someone who’s a little skeptical. After all, testimonials can be bought. As an enneagram 1, that doesn’t occur to me, but I know some people have looser morals than I do. So, let’s say you think my testimonials are fake (they’re not because if you look up the names of the people, you’ll find they’re real, live humans), but just in case you’re questioning that, also consider the length of time I’ve worked with a few of my clients.

content marketer san francisco

I’ve been freelancing for the Potrero View since 2013, and even after leaving AuntMinnie.com in 2018, they’ve continued to ask me to freelance for them, as evidenced by an article I wrote about a  month ago.

By and large, my working relationships last. I’ve had a few that were short term of course, that happens to everybody, but mostly my relationships are long term, which demonstrates the kind of person I am. I’m the kind of person others want to keep working with!

I posted this before, but people want to work with someone they will “bond with, who they will feel good around, who will be their friend,” according to Dr. Lauren Rivera at Northwestern University who examined 120 interviews and published her results in the American Sociological Review. That’s me. I’m a person people bond with and feel good around. I treat my clients with respect. I know they have their own challenges and lives. I don’t look at them and see dollar signs, which makes all the difference.

content marketer for small businesses

So what do you get when you hire me to ghostwrite for you or create content marketing posts? You get a caring human being, a perfectionist, and someone who is a woman of her word. If that all sounds like a person you want to work with, reach out to me, and let’s see if we’re a good fit.

What I Love about Ghostwriting

Not only am I a ghostwriter for therapists and other busy professionals, I’m also a content writer for small businesses plus a freelance journalist. That’s a lot of hats for one person to wear! I often joke around and say I’m a Jill of all trades because of how multifaceted I am when it comes to writing. Why have I structured my business the way that I have? After all, I’m choosing to wear these hats. Why have I done that? Keep reading to find out.

Why I love ghostwriting for therapists

I love ghostwriting for therapists because first and foremost, I care about mental health. As someone who has had her own mental health journey, I know the importance of people receiving support. And therapy isn’t only for people who are struggling to survive. It’s also for people who want to thrive. Working with a trained professional lets a person see their own shadow. It helps them spot patterns and dysfunctional behaviors that are difficult to spot on your own.

In my free time I like to read about various psychological topics — attachment theory, epigenetics, family constellations, etc. I could talk about those subjects for hours. Therapeutic topics come up so frequently in casual conversations that people have asked me over and over again whether I’ve thought about being a therapist. The answer is “yes, I have but it’s not my strong suit.” It’s really not. As an introvert and highly sensitive person, I’m drained by spending large chunks of time with people. I couldn’t handle talking to people about their challenges all the livelong day. Plus, my strong suit is writing. How do I marry these two passions? Ghostwriting for therapists!

writer for therapists

As a ghostwriter for therapists, I write about topics that interest me without spending years in graduate school. And because I don’t have professional training in that arena, the therapist or psychologist looks over what I’ve written and makes sure it’s factual. Everyone wins — I save the therapist time because they aren’t writing the article themselves and I get to do what I love. I mean honestly, what’s better than that? But I don’t only ghostwrite for therapists, I also ghostwrite for busy professionals.

What I love about ghostwriting for professionals

I love ghostwriting for busy professionals because I know everyone wants to be heard. I know people have their own area of expertise they’d like to share with the world. However, having a desire is not the same thing as having the time or the talent.

There are numerous professionals out there who have great ideas — they can support people with accounting or communication skills or whatever — but when it comes down to writing the darn thing, they can’t. That’s either because they have kids to look after or too much to do, or they’re more of a talker than a writer. Many people don’t have trouble speaking in front of a group but when it comes to typing on a keyboard they feel stuck. That’s where I come in. One of my clients likes to schedule a telephone call with me, or send me an audio recording where she discusses what she’d like her next blog to be about.

writer for therapists

It’s much easier for her to spend 30 minutes on the phone together rather than an hour and 30 minutes writing. Because writing is my forte, I’m happy to do the heavy lifting. It’s no trouble for me to take someone else’s ideas and put them in a coherent format. Plus, because I know a little bit about most topics due to my journalism training and natural curiosity, I’m able to pull in relevant books, articles, and quotes to flesh out the piece. Working with me takes your writing to the next level because you’re no longer going it alone.  Ghostwriting always involves partnership. However, the other parts of my business do not.

Why I love content writing

I love content writing for small businesses because it’s fun. I get to be zany, amusing, chipper. There’s so much room for creativity with being a content writer for small businesses because as long as I hit certain keywords, I’m set. I’ve slipped in a Mandalorian reference, song lyrics, and more. In one of my posts, I wrote, “If you want to be the prettiest pony at the party, that might not happen because you’ll have to contend with lookalikes.” I mean honestly, how frequently are you able to write with that sort of freedom in a paid setting? Answer: rarely. That’s what I love about content writing. My clients are happy as long as I repeat “Oakland web designer” or whatever their keyword is a few times. It’s fun! And content writing isn’t always fun because some small businesses think of it as a chore. It’s that thing they have to do to keep up web traffic but they’re not that great at it and have no idea what to say.

That’s where I come in. I’m great at content writing! And I have plenty to say! I’m writing an entire blogpost about what I love in regards to my business. I could do the same for you if you want. Get in touch with me.

ghostwriter for professionals

So that’s content writing. What about working as a freelance journalist? Why do I like that?

Why I love freelance journalism

I love working as a freelance journalist because it exposes me to people, places, events, and subjects I never knew existed or don’t have much familiarity with. For instance, recently I wrote an article about the Dogpatch Paddle Club. It’s a club for water sports enthusiasts in the SF Bay Area. I had no idea it existed but now I can tell you all about it, the founder, and his future plans for the club.

The other thing I love about being a freelance journalist is the deadlines. I know, some people are scared of deadlines because they feel a lot of pressure. Not me! I’ve been working as a journalist since 2006 so I’m a pro at meeting deadlines. I know precisely how long it will take me to research and write an article so meeting deadlines is easy.

Plus, because I’ve been doing this for so long, journalism is familiar, it’s easy. News pieces have their own format; they have a formula to follow. I don’t have to think too deeply about how to structure a news article because the structure is practically a given. Feature articles are a different beast but I love those because feature articles are all about storytelling. I’m sharing the story about a person or a business. Or maybe I’m writing in depth on a topic, like how artificial intelligence will affect productivity for radiologists. Regardless, it’s fun for me to compile information and share it with the world.

So there you have it. Now you know why I love working as a ghostwriter, content writer, and a journalist. If you want to hire me for any of these roles, get in touch. Let’s see if we’re a good fit.

What do ghostwriters *do*?

As a ghostwriter for therapists and other busy professionals, I get these two questions a lot: “What do ghostwriters do? And how do you work?” I figured I would take a moment to answer those questions.

What is ghostwriting?

First things first. What is ghostwriting? When I’m feeling quippy, I say ghostwriting is where I do all the work and you get all the credit! The real answer is the ghostwriter embodies the voice of their client. The client is the one who will come up with an idea (usually, but not always) and the ghostwriter will expound upon the idea, but make sure it is written in the style of the client. What does that mean?

You know how some writers use short sentences (Hemingway) whereas others employ long run-ons (Faulkner)? You don’t need to be a literary giant to have your own writing voice. Everyone has their own voice. It comes across not only in sentence length, but also word choice. Do you use words like “escapade” and “superfluous”? Or are you more comfortable writing “adventure” and “repetitive”?  Those things matter and coalesce to form your writing voice. A good ghostwriter picks up on those things and makes sure to write with them in mind.

San Francisco ghostwriter
Is your writing voice warm like a cup of tea?

Something else that people may not pay attention to is punctuation. I don’t mean the standard comma, period, and question mark punctuation. I also mean, do you use dashes? Or semicolons? Or even full colons? As someone who’s been a professional writer since 2006, these are all things I notice and take into account as I’m writing a piece for a client.

How does ghostwriting work?

Now that I’ve explained what ghostwriting is, how does it work? How do I ghostwrite for therapists? Or ghostwrite for professionals? It all starts with a free consultation. We have a chat with one another and see if we’re a good fit because ultimately that’s THE most important factor with good ghostwriting. Do we have a connection? Is there a simpatico relationship? If we’re not on the same page (ba-dum ching), there’s no way I’ll be able to write for you. So first we chat.

If we decide to move forward, then I’ll work on a paid sample. What that means is I’ll ghostwrite something for you charging either an hourly rate or a rate per word (your choice). Then we’ll either have a phone call where you present your ideas to me and I take copious notes, or you’ll send me a bunch of links to articles, YouTube videos, or podcasts that present your point of view. If it’s the latter, I also like to see something you’ve written so I can capture your writing style, which can be quite different from how you speak.

san francisco ghostwriter
Anything and everything can become writing material.

I’ll write up the piece, send it to you, and then you’ll review it. If you like it, if your response is, “Yes! I could have written this!” we’ll craft a contract. If you read it and go, “Ugh. This is terrible, I would never say this,” then we part ways — no hard feelings.

Ultimately I strive to take the stress out of writing, but if we’re not jiving with one another, I won’t be able to do that. That’s why I place so much emphasis on being a good match. Sure, you could hire a ghostwriter who will slap something together for you, but your name is on the piece. That’s important to remember. Do you want people to think you wrote it? If not, that’s a major red flag. If I’ve done my job right, you’ll be proud to share the article or blog with your social networks.

If you’re interested in exploring whether we’re a good fit for one another, reach out to me. I’m here.

The Two Schools of Writing Thought

As you might have guessed, I do a LOT of writing. Not only am I a freelance content writer and a ghostwriter for therapists and other busy professionals, I also write for fun! I have a blog called “Another World is Probable” that I post in every week and I wrote a novel! Some days I feel like a writing machine.

What’s my secret to writing so much? I blend together two writing philosophies: write on a schedule and write when you feel inspired.

psychologist ghostwriter

1. Writing on a Schedule

Some people say you can’t wait to be inspired to write something because then you’ll never sit down and write. Instead, treat writing like a job and write at a specified time every day or every week. Getting into a routine will clear the pipes and let you write a blogpost for a therapist or your submission to the Huffington Post.

There’s a quote that perhaps comes from William Faulkner, perhaps someone else (there’s not clear evidence supporting who said it) that goes:

“I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.”

For some people that works. They create a schedule and stick to it. They’re more productive, they procrastinate less, and they’re able to be prolific. This is the tactic I use to write in “Another World is Probable.” I sit down to write those posts usually around noon on Sundays. I also more or less stick to a schedule when I ghostwrite blogs for therapists and other busy professionals. It may not be at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays, but I write during my work day because, well, this is my job.

ghostwriter for therapists

2. Writing When You’re Inspired

There are other people who swear by writing when they’re inspired. When they’re in a flow, they just write and write and write. They’ll prewrite 10 blogposts and schedule them in advance, and then they no longer have to worry about what they’ll say and when. It’s called batch producing them.

The idea is that it’s quicker and easier to produce a blogpost (or whatever) if you’re already in that groove. If you’re already looking for images, look for several images that you can use later as well. If you’re already brainstorming ideas, keep brainstorming so you don’t have to pull an idea from thin air next week or next month. And if you already jot down key points as well as sources you’d like to cite, then when you’re doing the writing, it will be less work because you’re just “filling in” the details.

In this way, you’re harnessing your creative energy cycle and you’re focusing on one task at a time. Some people swear by batch producing because it frees up their time to work on other things when they feel like it. I also do some batch producing — I’ll have a day where all I do is write and then the next day I focus on editing.

therapist ghostwriter

3. In the End. . .

For me, what it all comes down is working with what’s there. If I’m too exhausted to write something new, if I can’t seem to use the right “they’re and their” (it happened!), then I know I shouldn’t be writing. If I’m that depleted, it’s better for me to do something else, like editing, because it uses a different part of my brain.

Everyone likes to say what you “should” do and the “best” way to do             , but in my opinion all that really matters is it working for you? If it does, awesome. If not, try something else. And if you find the whole writing process to be very stressful, that’s fine! Reach out to me — I’ll take the stress out of writing and whether I’m writing on a schedule or batch producing, you can count on me to get the job done.

How Business Can Be Like the Moon

I’ve worked in the news industry — both as a freelance journalist and a staff writer — for the past 14 years. One of the things that’s unique in the journalism world is deadlines are sacrosanct. This is for numerous reasons. For one, news is fast moving so if you don’t publish as soon as possible, it’s likely some update will have occurred and you’ll have missed writing about it. (One only has to think about COVID-19 for this to make sense.) If your competitor has written about the topic and you haven’t, you look incompetent.

The second reason deadlines are sacred harkens back to newspaper days before everything became digital. Newspaper editors set aside space in the layout of the paper for a specific story. They assigned writers a certain number of words, or more commonly, inches. If the writer failed to deliver there would literally be empty space in the paper, unless people could scramble and find something else.

Oakland freelance content writer

These days with digital there’s more fluidity, but even still, if a writer misses a deadline it often means their story just won’t get published. Maybe ever. One of the things I’ve found most challenging about running my own business as an Oakland freelance ghostwriter and freelance content writer is not everyone has the same view of deadlines that I do. They view deadlines as guideposts, as something to shoot for, but totally fine if they blow past.

What that means for me is I frequently have weeks that are jampacked, they’re a flurry of activity, and then that all stops. Work dwindles to a trickle and I have almost nothing going on. My business waxes and wanes like the moon. At first, I found that unsettling and missed the constant flow that characterizes the journalism industry. But then I realized it’s fine. That as spiritual teacher Tosha Silver often says, “All delays are beneficial.” And also that each period of pause is followed by a period of speed. Moreover, sometimes the pause, the break, is just what’s needed to gain momentum before leaping forward. If you think about a rocket, it builds up heat and pressure before launching into space. I think people, and business, are the same way.

Oakland content writer

We often denigrate periods of rest because in the West we lionize productivity, but what if like the moon, we wax and wane? And because business is made up of people, it does the same?

I’m not going to lie, there are days where I wish people valued deadlines as much as I did, but there are also days that I relish the decreased pressure. Days where instead of homing in on my computer screen I can take the time to gaze out the window and notice my plants waving in the wind. Or appreciate the flock of birds flying by. When you’re constantly stressed and have your nose to the grindstone, it’s harder to take time to notice the little things. At least that’s the case for me. So perhaps if a business is like the moon, it’s more sustainable in the long run.

Do you need help showcasing your unique skillset, or what makes your business special? Are you looking for someone to take the pressure off of writing? If so, contact me. I’d love to hear from you.

Maybe You’re Blue Because. . .

What’s funny about life right now is I’m bored despite having have plenty to do. My days are filled with content writing, ghostwriting, interviewing, researching. I also have free time to watch Netflix, read books, and talk on the phone. In the evenings I’m on Zoom calls, taking yoga classes, and meditating with friends. But somehow I still feel listless. How can that be?

I’ve discovered it’s because I have to ensure my weeks contain certain activities, otherwise I become sulky and bluesy. I’ve learned I have to do the things that make me come alive. In this instance, my days are lacking storytelling.

Oakland freelance writer

It’s likely obvious by now that I love to write. I’m an Oakland freelance writer with clients all over the country (and I’m open to international clients as well!). I write for therapists, for homeopaths, chiropractors, and busy professionals. I write about linking somatic techniques with talk therapy. I write about using MRI to detect breast cancer. I write about the role of feelings at the office. All of that writing is fulfilling in various ways but what I’m not writing enough of are feature articles.

Feature articles are profiles, interviews, and stories. If you’ve ever read an interview with a celebrity, that’s a feature article. I love feature articles (both reading and writing them) because they’re fun. They involve interviewing someone else (or multiple someones) and crafting a story from that information.

I’m at the point now where I recognize I have to write feature articles even if I’m not getting paid for them just because I love doing it. I notice my basic needs can be met and the days will still stretch endlessly because something important is missing. I’m doing some of the things that bring me joy, but not all of them. In this instance, it’s storytelling. I have one client I’m doing that for, but it’s not enough. (Are you a homeopath, chiropractor, or some other professional looking to drum up business? Contact me about writing features for you.) It’s not only about offering that service to someone else, it’s also because it brings me joy. However, the other writing brings me joy as well! I couldn’t drop any of the kinds of writing I’m doing because they all meet different needs.

Oakland, CA content writer

People often say to have a niche when it comes to business. To focus on one thing and do it well. It’s good advice but I’m unhappy if I only do one sort of writing. I’m more a “variety is the spice of life” gal. No variety equals boredom for me and that boredom can turn into depression. I’d like to avoid that if I can. So what do I do? All the writing! I know I’ve only been in business as an Oakland freelance content writer and ghostwriter for a short time, but so far writing about a lot of different things in various ways is working for me. Time will tell if it continues to work, but so far so good!

What about you? Do you focus on one niche or do you cast a wider net? Tell me in the comments below. And again, if you’re looking for a freelance content writer or ghostwriter, let’s chat to see if we’re a good fit.

How You Contribute Has Value

A version of this post originally appeared on my blog Another World is Probable. 

About a month ago I wrote a post about being the kind of people we want others to be. I mentioned the peace prayer, which is often mistakenly called the St. Francis prayer. I linked to a couple of stories of ex-KKK members who changed their ways based on relationships with people they used to hate.

After I wrote the post, I started to question the value of what I do, of how I help others. Does it really make a difference that I’m a freelance content writer? Am I changing anyone’s life in a deep and profound way by leading a group meditation on Sundays? Would I make more of an impact by befriending someone who is in the KKK and supporting their exit from the Klan?

freelance content writer

Literally within a few hours of thinking those thoughts I was zoombombed by neo-Nazis at the group meditation I lead. They started scribbling swastikas over my screen. They asked how many Jews we’ve killed and did whatever they could to disrupt the meeting before my co-moderator and I ejected them. (Since then we’ve tightened security measures at the meeting to keep incidents like that from happening again.)

After I calmed down, I started to laugh. It was as if the universe said to me, “Really? Are you sure you want to befriend neo-Nazis? Are you sure the form of service you provide isn’t worthwhile?” The universe answered my question very quickly and validated for me, yes, this is what my gifts are, and yes, they are needed.

I bring this up because I’ve had conversations with several people – both White and Black – who have lots of feelings about not being on the streets protesting the treatment of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). There’s a feeling they “should” be and maybe some guilt that they aren’t. I get it because I feel that way too. I want to support BIPOC. I want them to know I’m not OK with how they are treated and protesting is one way to demonstrate that. However, my nervous system cannot handle large crowds. I start to panic when I’m in large groups which is why I never attend concerts or sports games at large stadiums. Even going to a shopping mall wipes me out.

Freelance content writer

Recently I went to a small protest near my house but there is no way I can be in a throng of people. When I think about my zoombombing experience, I realize that’s OK. Everyone has different gifts and different abilities. We are all special in our own way and however we’re choosing to show up in the world is valid. A symphony orchestra requires numerous instruments to create beautiful music. Humanity is like that symphony – we can’t all be the cello.

If you think about it, that’s true in nature as well. Diversity is the law of nature and that means we’re all needed. The way that I contribute to Black Lives Matter is important. And so is the way you contribute.

As a freelance content writer I haven’t written anything award-winning, but that doesn’t mean the stuff I write is garbage. And in fact, I’ve written many posts for clients about racism and being a good ally. I don’t have a huge following, but I still have influence. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we’re not doing that we forget about what we are doing. And what we are doing matters, it has value. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, including yourself.

How to Sell During COVID-19

I have an Instagram page where I post quotes from the novel I wrote, books I’m reading, funny memes, that sort of thing. Because I list myself as an author, I receive solicitations from people who want to sell me consulting services or offer me tools that I could use to promote my book (if I had one). I’ve noticed a trend in the way people are pitching to me lately that feels disingenuous.

They start off with a compliment (“Wow! You have great content!”) and then follow it up with a question (“How long have you been doing this?”). When I reply, they come back with another compliment (“That’s incredible!). And then they hit me with the sales pitch, which feels like the real reason they reached out in the first place. Do they actually think my content is great or are they only saying that to butter me up? I don’t have a problem with appreciation, as long as it’s real. But saying the same general thing to me as 50 other authors make me feel devalued.

freelance writer oakland ca

I’m not interested in the services being pitched to me for a variety of reasons, but the sales people keep pressing, asking why not and if they can work around my hesitation. I have no doubt this strategy is an avenue for selling, and it likely works for some people, but for me it’s a huge turn off. My philosophy in business is to establish a relationship. I strive to be friendly with my clients because we’re both giving and receiving. I don’t want to take someone’s money and run – I want to provide a service that my client can actually use.

I’m reminded of a story from Tosha Silver’s book Change Me Prayers. She said for her first book, she shopped it around to several bookstores and in one store, the manager said, “You can leave a copy for our ‘pile’ in the back room. Then you could call a ton and plead with us. If you get lucky, maybe one day we’ll stock it. Just keep hoping.”

Tosha’s response was, “Oh, my God, no! Why would I keep twisting your arm? It’ll go easily to the places that are right. You never have to convince someone. The people who are right will just know.” And sure enough, that happened with other store clerks. They were thrilled at the idea of stocking her book and one even threw her a party. That’s what I want for me too (maybe not the party, unless it’s over Zoom!).

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I want selling to be easy and smooth. That’s not to say no effort is required because of course action is always necessary, but the energy is different. Instead of twisting someone’s arm, pressuring them to work with me, I understand the right clients, customers, partners, etc. have already been selected and we’ll be guided to each other easily (and gratefully). I want to work with people who want to work with me. If I have to convince someone, are we a good match? Likely not.

I feel like especially now when most people are stressed, sliding in and out of depression, and struggling in some form or fashion, the best thing I can do is offer my services as a freelance ghostwriter, content writer, and editor. Emphasis on the “offer.” I’m opening my hands, saying “here you go,” and letting people take me or leave me. I’m not waving my hands in front of their face and saying “take this, take this, take this.” For me that makes all the difference.

If you’re a busy professional like a therapist in need of a ghostwriter, connect with me. If you’re looking for a unique way to promote your business through storytelling, I’d love to help with that too. If you just want someone to make sure your resume doesn’t have any typos, I can also handle that! Just reach out and I’d be glad to help.

The Secret to a Successful Business

The reality is I haven’t been in business long enough to have any clout to reveal the secret to a successful business, BUT there are some things I’m noticing right out of the gate. AND I’ve been talking to other people who have been in business way longer than me. The following is what I/we found.

The secret is. . .

I thought people would want to use my freelance content marketing services because I convinced them of its value. After all, research shows the importance of having a blog so surely everyone wants what I’m offering, right? Because they understand it will help their business thrive and boost visibility on search engines? Well, no. It surprised me to learn my rational explanations mean diddly if there’s not an emotional component as well.

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We like to think of ourselves as logical, reasonable creatures, but actually the majority of our decisions are made by the subconscious part of our brains, sometimes referred to as our reptilian brain. That includes purchasing decisions as well and why storytelling in business is so important. Research on advertising shows the emotional response to an ad influences a person’s intention to buy much greater than the ad’s content itself. Why is that? Because emotionally charged storytelling creates a rush of dopamine in the brain, particularly in the amygdala, which is responsible for memory, according to the Ted talk “Storytelling, Psychology, and Neuroscience” by Amanda D’Annucci.

For instance, if you think about the toxic masculinity ad from Gillette, it got people talking and also created brand loyalty because people vibed with the ad. We want to support businesses that are in alignment with our values and one of the best ways to show a value is through storytelling and emotion. However, I’m not selling razors, so how does this apply to me? The emotional component comes down to this: People are more likely to hire their friends.

Oakland content writer

“[E]mployers really want people who they will bond with, who they will feel good around, who will be their friend,” according to Dr. Lauren Rivera at Northwestern University who examined 120 interviews and published her results in the American Sociological Review. We all want to work with people we like, and yes, I’m an Oakland freelance writer and not an employee, but the premise still applies. “Employers” in my case are clients and clients want to work with friends. Thus far that’s proving to be true. My current clients and potential clients are friends or we have a friend in common. This makes sense, right? It’s essentially a form of word-of-mouth advertising, which is the most trusted form with 86% of consumers trusting word-of-mouth.

We trust our friends and we care about what they think. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg said: “People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”

Oakland blogger

I am asking my friends and family to refer me out of course (hey, can you refer me out?), but I’m also approaching potential clients as if they were friends. I’m doing my best to establish a friendly rapport because the reality is business comes down to relationships. We are in relationship with one another trading a good or service. In my case, I’m trading blogposts for money but it could also be trading water bottles or razors or widgets. We want to do business with people we like and what I’m finding is that starts from the very first point of contact.

Do you want to connect with me and be my new business friend? Get in touch.