… received a question from a long-standing client.


She asked, “How do you write so well, so consistently?”

The answer, of course, is that I use a special keyboard.

But the truth is, I don’t write well in general.

I write a particular type of thing well: short, conversational, useful, information-based content for professional service providers. In practice, that tends to mean newsletters and web sites.

I don’t write books, white papers, speeches, direct response copy, social media posts, manifestos, operating instructions, food labels, or a hundred other things that I’m probably not even aware of.

Here’s why it matters: the more you can sell what you are naturally, uncannily, matchlessly good at, the more happy clients you’ll have, the more money you’ll make, the more satisfaction you’ll feel, and the easier all of it will be.


… received an email that missed the mark.


It opened with “Hello Everyone!”

And then, throughout, it continued speaking as if there were a group of people, all together, reading.

Emails are read individually – from the perspective of the reader, there is no “everyone.”

If you want your newslettter, blog, ransom note, etc., to feel personal (hint: you do), write to one, not many.


… did not win the Nobel Prize in Medicine.


Apparently, the Nobel Committee found my coronavirus vaccine recommendations “childish and largely incoherent.”

No surprise there – when you run your own business, the times when you are “officially recognized” are few and far between.

There is no independent body determining who should get the promotion, who deserves an A+ on the project, who’s a leading expert, or who is worthy of the prize.

Which means that if you are waiting for someone to tell you that you’re good enough, you’ll be waiting a long time.

Better to decide that it’s already true and get to work!


… broke my own rule.


I’ve got two client newsletters that would normally go out on the second Thursday of the month.

But, because the vice presidential debates are Wednesday night, that’s all anybody is going to be talking/writing/reading about on Thursday morning.

So, we are moving up publication by one day to tomorrow morning, instead.

I’m big on maintaining a strict publishing schedule, but that’s to keep us on track more than for our readers (who likely don’t know the schedule anyway).

When big events suggest a change, don’t let your own rules prevent you from adjusting!


… fired a client.


He’s a terrific guy who I like a lot. But we are a terrible match. So I sent his deposit back and wished him well.

A few things worth noting…

#1. I didn’t have to give the money back.

I’ve done a bunch of work already and could have negotiated to keep some or all of it. But when you give someone their money back you’ve bought the ability to walk away on your own terms. Plus, I think it leaves the other person feeling that they were treated fairly, which matters for your reputation more broadly.

#2. We are not employees.

We are not beholden to our clients any more than they are to us; we have as much right to end things as they do. The best relationships are the ones in which everyone is happy and excited to be working together.

#3. Trust your gut.

Looking back, I knew it was a mistake from the start. He asked the wrong kinds of questions and was focused on things that, to me, seemed unimportant.

But we clicked on a personal level and the project was both unusual and interesting. Even so, I should have passed.

Overall, my work goal is pretty simple: Every client has to be someone I like; every project has to be something I enjoy. As of 10:00 AM this morning, I am back on track!