Blog Post Critique 1 – Adarsh Thrampy/Sales Maximus

by Paul Wolfe on July 28, 2011

Today’s post is the first of three blog critiques. Today’s writer – Adarsh Thrampy of Sales Maximus – was the first ‘winner’ by default.  I put two more free blog post critiques up for grabs in this post:

Who Wants A Free Blog Post Critique?

I’m pleased to announce that the winners of the other two blog post critiques (as chosen by my sons Freddie and Max) were:

1)   Krista Stryker (chosen by Max)

2)   Stan Faryna (chosen by Freddie)

(I’ll email Krista and Stan later to tell them how we proceed from here.)

How The Critiques Will Work

  • Firstly I’ll publish the original piece of writing.
  • Then point out 3 areas that could be improved, with some suggestions of how to do this.
  • Finally I’ll either rewrite the post, or leave detailed thoughts as to how I would rewrite the post.

There’s some important information to note here.  When you’re trying to improve at any skill or discipline, it’s impossible to do so if the instructions you are given are way above your current ability level.

For example, imagine that you were going for your second driving lesson and the instructor asked you to race down a dual carriageway at 50 MPH and execute a handbrake turn.  That would be virtually impossible for such a newbie driver – because there are skill sets that need to be mastered before the newbie driver can think about executing a complex manoeuvre like a handbrake turn.

It’s the same with writing too.

So my goal for all these critiques is to give the writer being critiqued feedback on 3 areas of their writing that they can work on today.  So they can read the critique and take immediate action to improve their writing.

With that goal in mind, the critiques will be pitched at the writer’s level – not my level, or your level. So if you see elements that could be improved that are not mentioned in the critique, don’t think that those elements have gone unnoticed – it’s more like that those writers are not ready for the writing equivalent of handbrake turns yet.

Before we critique our first post, let’s meet our first contestant!

Contestant #1 – Adarsh Thrampy

Adarsh Thrampy blogs at SalesMaximus.com and lives in India.  This is highly relevant, because Adarsh speaks – and writes – English as a second language.

Here’s the post that Adarsh sent me, that I’ll be critiquing.

 

How to Get Started With a Career in Freelance Writing?

Freelance writing is one of the hottest work-at-home profession people around the world prefer.

There is a lot of valuable advice out there on how to get started with freelance writing career. Before you begin, you should definitely look at what others in this niche have to say.

But, most people still don’t get the basics. How do you prepare yourself to be a freelance writer? Can anyone become a freelance writer? Or is it just for native English speakers? How much can I make from writing? Is it stressful?

There are a lot of questions people have when it comes to venturing into an online business. Make no mistake, being an entrepreneur and running your online writing business is no easy task. It takes courage, determination, self discipline, and willingness to make customer the king.

“To err is human”. But, erring again and again is not a very good idea. Business never succeeds all of a sudden. It takes time, patience, and a hell lot of tweaks to get it right. Your freelance writing business is no different.

Here Are A Few Tips to Get Started With a Freelance Writing Career

Tip #1: You Are A Writer. Don’t Forget That

If you don’t write, I don’t think you ought to be called a writer. As a freelance writer, your job is to… well, write.

No amount of marketing or advertising will make you a great writer unless you write regularly. My #1 advice is to write, write more, and write even more.

That being said, I wouldn’t advise you to write blindly. Writing again and again is great. However, if you are not writing as you should by getting rid of your mistakes, you are going to end up making the same mistake again and again. So as much as you write, gather feedback. Ask your friends, family, and just about anyone who can help you write better.

Tip #2: Don’t Engage In Price Wars

It’s very tempting to offer low price just because someone bid for a lower rate. Stop competing on price. While you may end up with writing jobs, you’ll suffer getting quality clients in the long run.

When I started freelancing, what I have observed is, the clients who are reluctant to pay for quality, always ends up as a bigger problem. I have wished many times that I could go back in time and not take up this work.

Clients who respect your work and are willing to pay for quality are always better than people who try to get the work done for the lowest rates. You’ll find them leaving you as soon as you up your rates.

Rather than compromising on quality, compromise on quantity. Take less work. Charge more for each work. If you need that work, outsource it to a cheaper writer and keep the commissions.

Tip #3: Focus On Repeat business

The most money you are going to make is from your existing customers. There, I said it.

It’s a no brainer. The first timers never trust you with their money. It’s true especially on the internet. But, if they were willing to take out the credit card to pay you once, rest assured that they will feel comfortable paying you again and again. If you have not scammed them the first time, that is.

If your customers paid for your writing service, and you gave them a killer article, then without a doubt, they’ll come to you next time they want articles written.

Not everyone comes back. The best thing you can do to grab repeat business is to keep them on your mailing list and then send them a quick email once in a month or two with special offers or discounts. This not only gives them an incentive to order again, but also makes them aware of your existence.

Tip #4: Not Every Project Is Worth Pursuing

Sad but true. As a freelance writer, you need to choose which project is best suited for you. Writing gigs may seem inappropriate based on

1.    The amount that is paid for the job

2.    Inability to meet deadlines

3.    Lack of experience in the project niche

4.    Not meeting the requirements in the project

5.    Inability to verify the authenticity of your clients and more

Not every project is worth taking in. If you are not an expert copywriter, you shouldn’t take up a sales page writing job. You are not only doing injustice to your customer, and other experienced copywriters. You are also doing injustice to the end user. If you can’t convince a person to buy a product, they may be missing out on a valuable resource.

Tip #5: Treat Your Work Professionally

Just because you are a freelancer and doesn’t work for a company, it does not mean that you can handle your business anyway you want. Be very professional in your dealing with clients. Your professionalism should reflect in your emails, your work, your billing, and your delivery.

If you can take forward your business professionally, you will gain more high paying customers. People are willing to pay more for convenience. Imagine if you save their time coming behind you reminding you about deadlines, payment methods, rewrites and so on. People will pay more for convenience.

Are you a freelance writer? If you have ever done freelancing, what’s the most valuable tip you want to share with others?

 

***

So, that’s Adarsh’s post.  A good exercise might be for you to go back to the top of his post, read again.  And then make some notes on how YOU could help him improve.  Then you can compare your notes against mine.

Here are 3 areas that Adarsh could profitably work on to improve his writing.

1)   His Familiarity With, And Use of English

This is the first area that I’d suggest Adarsh work on.

For the record the fact that he can blog in a second language is fantastic.  I speak reasonable French, but there’s not a chance in the world that I’d try and blog in French!

But I’m guessing that the majority of his competitors speak English.  And perhaps the majority of them are native speakers.  Now that shouldn’t put Adarsh off – most people mangle the English language terribly – but he does need to express his ideas with more clarity, and more correctly.

There are two Action Steps I’d recommend to Adarsh for this area.

The first one is to read some great writers.  As a rule of thumb – not mine, but NY Bestselling Author Steven Barnes! – you should aim to read between 10 and 50 times the amount that you write daily.  And one level up form your current level.

The second Action Step I’d recommend is to spend 10-15 minutes a day copying out a piece of writing that he’s found and enjoyed.  This will really help his brain absorb the ebb and flow of the English language, and in time he’ll find that his ability in expressing his ideas in English rises.

2)   Improving Headlines

This is an area that just about every blogger in the world could improve!

Headlines are a vital part of every blog post – not only do they attract potential readers either by curiosity, or by promising that those readers will learn something specific, or by controversy – but they also tell the reader what to expect by reading the post.

Most people’s headlines (including mine ;) ) often lack clarity and specificity.

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with Adarsh’s headline.  But the topic of getting started in freelance writing is a massive topic – more suited to a book, or one of those 2K Guru super courses, rather than a blog post.

And Adarsh’s actual post doesn’t really follow the headline that he’s used.

So, here’s what Adarsh (and the rest of us) should do to work on our headlines.  Firstly, go to this post on the One Spoon website:

Lessons for Content Marketers From Tiger Woods Part 2

And then scroll down to the section titled Phase 2.  There are 4 great, free resources specifically devoted to Headlines linked in that post.  You can probably absorb them in around 90 minutes – and that will be a world class introduction to headlines.

For this post, I’d suggest that the body of the text would be better served with a working heading of 5 Tips For Freelance Writers.  And then – if it were me – I’d write the post.  And then go back and rework the heading to give it some punch and oomph.

3)   Writing For The Web

People read differently on their computer screens than they do from a printed book.  So it’s vital that the layout of your writing – how it actually looks – helps them get through your content.

There’s no specific resource or guide to this – you need lots of bold headings, lots of bulleted lists, lots of white space,  that kind of thing.

Copyblogger is as good a place as any to read the kind of content that’s well presented for the web.

So the Action Plan item for Adarsh would be to go to Copyblogger and find three or four posts that he found easy to read through.  Then he needs to print those posts out on paper and reverse engineer the way that they’ve been laid out.

And take that learning into the presentation of his own posts.

Some General Thoughts

If Adarsh took these recommendations and ran with them, there’s no doubt in my mind that the overall quality of his writing would improve.

For sure there are other areas I could have looked at, but Adarsh needs to walk before he can run.  And I chose the specific areas we’ve looked at today as I believe they’ll dramatically improve what Adarsh is putting out there and how it looks.

One Way Of Rewriting The Post

There are a million ways that you can rewrite any post – what I’m going to do for the rest of the critique is rework the headline, and provide an outline of an article derived from Adarsh’s original article that lives up to the promise of the headline.

As I said earlier I thought Adarsh’s original headline was too broad, and that I’d use a working headline of ‘5 Tips For Freelance Writers.’  Reading through Adarsh’s original article there are 5 good tips – those tips can be slanted towards a freelance writer who’s keen on gaining a professional advantage in the freelance writing business.

So I’d reword the headline like this:

5 Tips For Freelance Writers That Separate The Professional From The Amateur

And then Adarsh’s 5 original tips can be reworded to maintain the focus of the article – and they just need to be book ended with an introduction, a summary and a good call to action.

So the outline for the article would look like this:

Article:

Headline: 5 Tips For Freelance Writers That Separate The Professional From The Amateur

(Introduction)

Tip 1- The Professional Writer Writes

Tip 2 – The Professional Writer Competes on Quality – Not Quantity

Tip 3 – The Professional Writer Nurtures Repeat Clients

Tip 4 – The Professional Writer Knows Which Projects Move His Business Forward – And Ignores Those That Don’t

Tip 5 – The Professional Writer Is….Professional

Summary

Call To Action

Each of those 5 Tips is identical to Adarsh’s original 5 tips – the sub-heads for those sections have been edited to be consistent with the promise of the revised heading.

Summary

Firstly I want to again commend Adarsh for having the cojones to have his work critiqued in public.  I hope he got concrete suggestions that he can put to work immediately to improve his writing.

For the rest of the One Spoon audience, I hope that you folk got value out of this post too.  What I’d really like you to do is share your learnings and thoughts in the comments section below.

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Related posts:

  1. Who Wants a Free Blog Post Critique? (Value $170)
  2. How To Improve The Quality of Your Blog Posts By 50%
  3. How To Blog More Efficiently
  4. The Hidden Depths Of Blog Commenting

{ 23 comments }

Stan Faryna July 28, 2011 at 9:11 am

Freddie –
You rock!

Adarsh -
Congratulations!

Paul –
I like what you’ve done in this critique. Adarsh’s writing will up a level if he follows your advice. It’s worth a thousand dollars – if Adarsh will apply your recommendations to his writing. Hopefully, sooner than later. Hopefully, every time he writes a new blog post.

My only thought is that what may complete the value of your critique is if you review his next three blog posts (having deliberately attempted to apply your recommendations) before he posts them. That way he can see where he’s not getting it, how to fix it, and -also- what he is getting right.

Paul Wolfe July 28, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Stan

That’s a good thought – and that’s one possible option and another possible service when I ‘launch’ the service. What’s crucial for anyone trying to improve is that they get regular feedback from a trusted source to do exactly the things you just mentioned.

Paul

PS – got the photo. Send me a post over the weekend. And I’ll get to work.

Stuart July 28, 2011 at 10:20 am

Paul, I said this in your previous post, and I’ll say it again here – you’re doing a great service with these critiques, and I think a lot of people will notice.

The point that stood out the most for me, which I feel I could need the most work on, is the layout. Web layout is different than print layout, and people expect a certain kind of material when they read online that’s slightly different than print format. It’s no-one’s fault, it’s just the way it is now, and it’d be good if we followed advice such as that offered by CopyBlogger, and made small changes for big improvement.

I look forward to Krista and Stan stepping up to the spotlight :-)

Paul Wolfe July 28, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Stuart

Sadly more and more people are reading on their computer screen. (I say sadly, because eye tracking studies have shown that someone reading on a computer screen is more likely to skim than read thoroughly).

But it is what it is. And we have to live with it. As more and more people take up Kindle and eBooks, the physical book will diminish – and the ‘web’ style of writing will be used even more.

So it’s vital that we use it.

In short:

Lots of bold subheads.
Lots of white space.
Bulleted lists.
Great headlines.

Incorporate those and you’ll be ahead of the curve.

Thanks for stopping by.

Paul

Eugene @ Internet Success July 29, 2011 at 8:54 pm

I’ll add to your “sadly” point. The local bookstore here is closing. And there is nothing like holding a physical book in your hands and turning the pages. Nothing like the smell of a new book.

Plus…you can’t highlight or take notes on a Kindle :)

The internet has brought us some wonderful things, but unfortunately it is taking away some wonderful things as well.

Paul Wolfe July 29, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Eugene

I hear you. And to an extent I agree with you – I used to love going into bookstores, having a coffee and just browsing books. Physical Books will still be made for a long while yet…but eBooks are phasing them out. Digital is great – but it lacks something. (Speak to any audiophiles – the folks with 20,000 dollar systems – and they’ll swear blind to you that vinyl records give a massivly superior sound to CDs.)

The Kindle thing – I don’t have one, I use Kindle App for iPad – but I believe that actually you can highlight AND take notes with Kindle. Perhaps someone with a Kindle can step in and definitively answer….

As long as Net Neutrality is maintained I think the Internet will be looked upon as one of the biggest inventions of the 20th Century….I think it’s revolutionary (potentially).

Thanks for stopping by.

paul

Adarsh July 28, 2011 at 11:03 am

Thanks Paul.

The review was really helpful.

My writing was pretty terrible. If you read what I wrote some 5 years back, you’d immediately hate English language and never write another word in English.

I believe I have come a long way. But no way near where I should be. That’s why I believe your post will do wonders for my writing.

The fact is that my writing improved when I started taking up freelance writing jobs. I was forced to keep my clients happy. Sure I wasn’t able to charge what native writers could, but I could charge more than the average Indian writer.

I have been following copybloggger for some time. I also try to read blogs like writetodone and zenhabits. Normally I don’t get time for all, but I definitely try to read them. When I began, I started by analyzing the structure of the articles. But now, I just try to absorb the content and the ideas rather than trying to understand the flow of the writing. There, I think, is one area that’s open for improvement.

I’ll definitely try to include your tips. Thank’s a lot!!!

Stan Faryna July 28, 2011 at 11:43 am

There is no such thing as try. DO or do not. – Yoda

Adarsh July 28, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Stan. You pointed out yet another mistake I make when writing.

Not expressing clearly what I want to convey. When we use try in India (Or at least where I am from), we usually hint at positive side. That is, I will do it. Not in the literal sense of try.

When I am talking to a global audience, a lot of the local influence comes into my writing.

Thanks for reminding me about that.

Paul, do you think I am making a lot of mistakes when I am using comma???

I just insert the comma whenever I feel there needs to be a short pause. I don’t try to apply grammar rules there. Is that the correct way?

I understand I need to work on the flow. Do you think I need to read blog posts or books to improve?

Paul Wolfe July 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Adarsh

Making a conscious effort to read more – and quality stuff – and doing the 10 to 15 minute ‘copy typing’ exercise I suggested will make a big difference in your appreciation of the flow of the English language.

If you search the archives I ran a list post not too long ago with 17 books listed in the post. Any of those books will do as a starting point.

If budget is an issue, then there’s also a post called something like 5 Blogs for Content Marketers to Learn From. There are 5 blogs listed in that post who all feature good writers.

And a lot of Copyblogger posts are good – they have an editorial team there, and they like to turn their posts out with the i’s dotted and the t’s’ crossed. But print stuff is better if you can manage it – purely because almost by definition that material has been through an editorial AND proofreading process. So it will be higher quality.

That make sense?

Paul

Sally July 28, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Hi Adarsh,

I read your article and the critique by Paul. I am speaking to you regarding the grammatical question you asked. I often have questions about grammar, and since I’m such a obsessive compulsive about using the English language correctly, I ask Google for an answer. I can usually find one regarding my particular usage of the comma. There are several sites that offer free advice: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/commas.htm
http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/capital.asp
http://faculty.washington.edu/marynell/grammar/agreement.html
http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/plurals.htm
http://writinghood.com/style/grammar/

There are also some programs you can pay for to have your grammar checked, but I prefer to find my own mistakes and fix them, that way I learn from them and don’t make them again.

Not trying to hone in on Paul’s suggestions, just thought you might like these references. You are not alone in grammatical errors, even we who are English speaking make these errors. Good luck in utilizing the recommendations and furthering your writing proficiency. Sally

Paul Wolfe July 29, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Heya Sally

There’s no objection from me – there’s some good resources there.

The copy typing of great writers will quickly give you a feel for grammar too – it’s a fabulous exercise, you should try it.

Paul

Sergio Felix July 28, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Hey Paul,

Just wanted to let you know I’m going to run with your tip about “spending 10-15 minutes a day copying out a piece of writing that I enjoyed…”.

Having Spanish as my native language, sometimes I strongly feel I lack a lot of the natural English flow.

I believe your idea of copying ‘writing bits’ from things I like, can contribute quite a lot to fix that, thank you!

Paul Wolfe July 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Sergio

Good for you. See my thoughts to Adarsh in the comment immediately above yours!
Good luck – and be sure to drop back and report on how you get on!

Paul

Patricia Anne McGoldrick July 28, 2011 at 3:55 pm

I like the approach to critiquing–being mindful of the person’s current level with blogging and language.
The critique is much more valuable, as a result.

Paul Wolfe July 28, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Hey Patricia

This is the mistake a lot of ‘consultants’ make. From a ‘theoretical’ point of view you can often produce a list of 20 or 30 things that the critiqued student can improve.

But that’s overwhelming.

Start with 2 or 3. And make it things that they can fix. And move on from there. It’s the only way that the student being critiqued can actually make progress (IMO).

Thanks for stopping by.

Paul

Sally July 28, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Hi Paul,

I think your critique of Adarsh’s site is pretty great! Makes me think of my own writing and how I can improve. I will be following these critiques to apply to my own writing. I would love to be considered if you have more of these in the future.

Paul Wolfe July 29, 2011 at 10:44 pm

Hey Sally

If I have more of these in future there will be a post on the blog. I have to be honest and tell you that after the critique of Stan and Krista’s posts I probably won’t do this again for several reasons.

Paul

William Tha Great July 29, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Paul: This was a really interesting article to read. I love blog post critiques and blog critiques, because they always point out things that would be useful to other people. I have the same problem of my title not always going with the article perfectly. I’m starting to spend more time choosing my titles carefully. One approach that seems to be helping me is to write down different titles and narrow the list down to a few. Out of those few pick the one I like the most.

Looking forward to your next post! Keep up the good work!

God bless,
William Veasley

Paul Wolfe July 29, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Hey william

Been a while, nice to see you.

The headline is crucial for bloggers in attracting eyeballs to your post. To get them back for another visit it’s equally crucial that you make good on teh promise of the headline and give the visitor what they expect.

Headlines are an area I need to work on more too….

Paul

Adrienne July 29, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Great critique Paul, I’m very impressed with the way you went about this. I can already see my areas that I need to work on just from you going over Adarsh’s post. But I will say that for English being his second language, he really did a very good job. I don’t think enough people take this into consideration and I’m sure it’s hard for him.

I will definitely look forward to seeing what you do for both Krista and Stan. This will be a big learning experience for me as well so thank you so much for doing this. Not only are you helping them, but us as well.

Adrienne

Paul Wolfe July 29, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Hey Adrienne

Thanks for stopping by.

It was my hope that other people would learn from this – and not just the person being critiqued. So I’m pleased that you picked some stuff up.

You do realize that as a fully ‘paid up’ member of One Tribe At A Time that if you need help/suggestions you only have to drop me an email?

paul

Adrienne July 29, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Well I definitely learned something Paul, now all I need to do is actually apply what I learn.

Wow, seriously! Now I feel like somebody but I would be scared for you to get after my stuff. I would be really scared! :-) Just kidding, sort of! But I will keep that in mind so thanks for sharing that!

You rock!

Adrienne

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