Learning from the best non-fiction books


Learning from the best non-fiction books

Lessons from
Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

If we want to write a successful non-fiction book—one that positions you as an authority in your niche, gets you speaking engagements, and inspires people—we should look to other successful books for inspiration. So I’m starting a series where we’ll learn from the best non-fiction books and use those lessons to improve our own writing. And today's book is one of my favourites!


I’m Liz, the writer behind Green Goose Ghostwriting. I help for entrepreneurs who want to write a book to demonstrate authority in their niche, get speaking engagements, and inspire others. If you're frustrated that writing about your work takes forever and the words don’t sound like you, I can write your book for you, in your own voice, so you can finally level-up your business.

Better Than Before

We're starting this new series with Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits—To Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life by Gretchen Rubin.

I’ve always struggled with building good habits. I’m English so, y’know, I have bad teeth. Getting in the habit of using mouthwash after brushing my teeth is, honest to god, one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do. It’s pathetic. But there you go.

This book helped me understand why good habits are such a struggle for me, and what I can do about it. And I’m not the only one it’s helped. The book has 643 reviews on Amazon.com averaging 4.2 stars, and it hit a bunch of bestseller lists around the world.

So what can we learn from this book?

Before the introduction there’s a note to the reader. The first line says, “Better Than Before tackles the question How do we change? One answer—by using habits." This book knows what it is. It knows the question it’s answering. 

That’s essential. When you try to answer too many questions, or aren’t clear on the question you’re answering, you won’t be able to write a clear message. So that’s our first lesson.

1. Know the one question your book answers.

In her research for the book, Gretchen realized you can split the world into four main personality types, regarding how they respond to expectations and habit-building. At the beginning she names these four groups, and then she talks directly to them throughout the book.

She knows who she’s talking to.

You may not have a name for your audience like Gretchen does, but you must know who you’re talking to, so you can meet them where they’re at. So lesson two is...

2. Know who your book is talking to.

Gretchen uses a lot of stories from her own life and family. I’m going to read you a very small example.

“On our flight home from a family trip, a chatty flight attendant remarked, as I declined to take anything from the snack basket, ‘After the holidays, a lot of people turn down the cookies and pretzels.’

“‘How long does that last?’ I asked.

“She smiled. ‘About as long as most New Year’s resolutions.’"

You might think you don’t have many good stories to include in your book. But I chose this example to prove your stories don’t have to be earth-shattering. 

The simple act of including your personal experiences, whether dramatic or not, will engage your audience and help them connect with you. That’s lesson three.

3. Include personal stories.

Next week we’ll talk more about ghostwriting, and we’ll look at lessons from another non-fiction book a few weeks after that.

In the meantime, if you want some writing tips from 15 of today’s top entrepreneurs, all gathered in one place for you, enter your email below and I’ll send that your way. I’ll also send you cool stuff about writing for your business as I come across it.

See you next time.


Why work with a ghostwriter?


Why work with a ghostwriter?

Frustration, time, and quality writing

If you’re struggling to write your book, you have a few options. You could just keep plugging away and hope for the best, or go to an editor, or hire a writing coach. Then there are ghostwriters. Why would you want to work with a ghostwriter?


I’m Liz Green, the writer behind Green Goose Ghostwriting. I work with entrepreneurs who want to write a book to demonstrate authority in their niche, boost their speaking engagements, and inspire others. If you love talking about your work find the writing feels hard, I can help you write your book and level-up your business. 

Now, if you’ve been following my blog, you might’ve noticed my intro has been changing lately. It’s because I recently signed up for Jenny Shih’s business coaching course, and the first homework assignment was to work on our summary.

A summary is the statement that explains who you are, who you work with, and how you help them. Sometimes this is called an elevator pitch or an intro. Whatever you call it, you’ve probably worked on this in some guise in your own business. 

Part of nailing a really descriptive summary is succinctly saying why someone would want to work with you. So I've been thinking about this a lot, and I want to share with you the three reasons a successful entrepreneur would want to work with a ghostwriter…

Three reasons to work with a ghostwriter

  1. Frustration
    You're fed up of putting this project off, pushing it down the priority line, and not getting it done. You just want the damn book written, and you want to be done with the frustration around it.

    A ghostwriter will get the book done so your business can finally start benefitting from it.
  2. Time
    This might be where some of that frustration is coming from. You’re busy. Writing takes a lot of time.

    When you work with a ghostwriter, you have to invest some time so your writer can learn your story and tune into your voice. But it’s a fraction of the time you’d have to spend to write every word yourself. Using a ghostwriter, you can write your book and still have time to work on your business and live the life you want.
  3. Quality of writing
    Sometimes I forget to talk about this, but it’s a big deal. When you hire a professional writer, their quality of writing will be better than yours. (At least it bloody well should be!)

    Yes, they’re going to use your words and mannerisms. But it's their job to make it engaging, exciting, and make your audience feel something when they read your words. (And that something shouldn’t be boredom.)

I’m still trying to convey these ideas in a concise way. Getting those concepts down to a single sentence is a challenge but it’s a lot of fun for someone like me to geek out over words. 

Come back for the next video to see what I come up with. 

And if you want some writing tips from 15 of today’s top entrepreneurs, all gathered in one place for you, enter your email below, join my email list, and I’ll send that your way. 

See you next time.


Are you making your audience feel okay?


Are you making your audience feel okay?

Let's talk validation

Oprah tells us that everyone wants to know if they're doing okay. Well, your audience are asking that, too. Are you answering them? Are you making them feel okay?



I’m Liz, the writer behind Green Goose Ghostwriting, where online entrepreneurs get help to write books that that build their credibility, demonstrate authority in their niche, and serve clients in a bigger way.

On Sunday I was on Facebook (as you do) and I came across a video of Oprah giving the Harvard Commencement Speech in 2013. In it, she mentions that she’s done over 35,000 interviews across a 25 year career and every interviewee, in some way, wants to be validated. They ask her, “Was that okay?” Here’s the video (it’s only three minutes):




I watched this video on Sunday and thought it was interesting that we all have this shared experience of wanting to be validated, asking if what we’re doing is okay, if what we’re saying makes sense.

Later that day, I had a client call with an awesome woman who knows her stuff inside and out. She speaks eloquently and engagingly, and she's writing what will be a great book. At the end of our call she said, “So how does this compare to other stuff you’ve worked on?" It was her way of saying, “Was this okay?"

Wow. Oprah knows everything about everyone. She’s amazing.

You see, everyone asks this question.

As entrepreneurs, we're often pushing ourselves into areas that feel slightly uncomfortable and we ask ourselves if we’re doing okay. But today I want to think about this from your audience’s perspective.

Whether you're writing a book, online content, podcast scripts, social media posts, or working directly with clients, you're talking to people who are going to wonder if they’re doing okay. 

I want you to address this

When you're talking to people, don’t shy away from this question. Address it as a chapter at the end of your book or a sentence at the end of your blog post. Because even if they're not saying it outright, they're likely thinking it. They want validation.

If you address it, you can put them at ease.

You’re doing okay.

Now, because you're here watching this video, I know that you want to learn. I know you’re interested in developing your writing skills. I know your heart and head are in the right place. Because of that, I can confidently say that you’re doing okay!

Whatever is going on in your world right now, you're doing okay with this stuff!

Want to keep learning?

If you want to keep learning and finding new ways to write better in your business, I have a new, shiny guide I can send you! It's 15 Writing Tips from Today's Top Entrepreneurs. Somehow I managed to get a little bit of an interview with some of the big names in the online business world, including Marie Forleo, Neil Patel, Jeff Goins, and Heather Crabtree, to name a few.

So stick your email address in the space below, and I’ll send that your way. See you next time!


What's your superpower?


What's your superpower?

What if you're not sure?

If you’re an entrepreneur, building your business around your superpower can help you be successful, and love what you’re doing. But what if you’re not sure what your superpower is?



I’m Liz, the writer behind Green Goose Ghostwriting, where online entrepreneurs get help to write books that that build their credibility, demonstrate authority in their niche, and serve clients in a bigger way.

I get emails from a fellow ghostwriter called Sally Ann Miller. This week she sent out a link to a fun personality quiz. Now, personality quizzes can sound a little teenage-girly on the surface. But Sally talked about how personality quizzes can help you identify your superpower.

I can almost hear you thinking, “I don’t have any superpowers. Unless you count the ability to spend hours scrolling through Netflix without actually watching anything.”

But everyone has a superpower! It’s just a fun term to identify what you’re good at.

There’s a fun, free quiz

So I took the free quiz that Sally linked to. It’s from a company called Via Institute on Character. It’s free (though you can pay for a more in-depth report), and it took about five minutes. And I was blown away by how accurate the results were!

They have 24 character traits which they rank in the free quiz. They said my greatest personality strength was Perspective, which they define as being able to provide wise counsel to others, and having ways of looking at the world that make sense to oneself and others.

My second character strength was Social Intelligence, which is being aware of the motives and feelings of others and oneself, knowing what to do to fit into different social situations, and knowing what makes other people tick.

Third was Love of Learning, forth was Kindness, and fifth was good Judgement.

Rounding out my top 10 were:

  • Fairness, 
  • Prudence, 
  • Creativity, 
  • Curiosity, and 
  • Honesty.

I like having this insight because:

  1. It’s fun to get more insight into your personality!
  2. It explains why I’m drawn to ghostwriting as a career. 

    I find looking at the world through another person’s eyes fascinating, and ghostwriting lets me do that. 

    I also love knowing what makes others tick. I’ve always thought I’m good at ghostwriting because it’s easy for me to have empathy for whoever I’m working with. I think empathy is key to writing for someone else, but also making the world a more peaceful place!
  3. I know if I can play to my strengths in my business, I’ll be going with the tide instead of against it.

    That’s not to say if something is difficult, you shouldn’t do it. When you’re in business for yourself, there’s a lot of essential tasks that will push you outside your comfort zone. But if you focus the core of your business around your strengths, you’re more likely to be successful and love the work!

What are your superpowers?

I invite you to take this free personality quiz and see what your superpowers are. Then, you can ensure you’re building your business around those strengths, so you’re more likely to be successful and love your work.

Oh, and if you want to be nosey, my full personality report is below, so you can get to know me a bit better.

See you next time!

My personality report

Thanks to Via Institute on Character for providing the quiz and Sally Ann Miller for introducing me to this.


An interview with USA Weekly


An interview with USA Weekly

Helping others, the trouble with trust, and what to do when you're unfulfilled

This week I was interviewed by USA Weekly! I was pretty excited by this. It's not a huge piece, but USA Weekly is a pretty big deal, and their business section (in which I appeared) is Super Serious And Important.

In the interview I talk about helping others, the trouble with building trust, and what to do when you're in a job that doesn't fulfil you. Check it out here.

Next week I'll be sharing this cool personality quiz I came across. It's useful for identifying your character traits so you can tailor your business (and book) to your strengths. And, y'know, personality quizzes are fun! Sign up below to get it delivered to your inbox.


How do you work with a ghostwriter?


How do you work with a ghostwriter?

Let's lift the veil

Ghostwriting is a mysterious world! But we’re lifting the veil and talking about the actual ins and outs of how to work with a ghostwriter to write a non-fiction book for your business. What does the writer do? What do you do? How do you work with a ghostwriter?



I’m Liz, the writer behind Green Goose Ghostwriting, where online entrepreneurs get help to write books that build their businesses.

A story about sloppy joes


If, like me, you’re not from North America, you might not know what a sloppy joe is. It’s ground beef in a tomato-y sauce, served on a hot dog bun. I think there are different variations, but when I first encountered a sloppy joe, it was with a hot dog bun. 

It was nine years ago. I’d just started dating this cute Canadian guy (who is now my husband) and his parents would have me over for dinner all the time. One night my now mother-in-law made sloppy joes and, being the lovely family they are, they invited me to serve myself first. And I had no idea what to do!

I didn’t know if the beef went on the side, or directly on the bun, and there was cheese—I had no idea where that was supposed to go! And I was confused. And embarrassed to be the weird foreigner who didn’t even know how to put a sloppy joe together.

Now, that’s a bit of a silly example, but it reminds me of how you can feel a bit of an idiot when you don’t really know what the protocol is, what’s expected, or what the “normal way” of doing things is.

Don't worry if you feel like an idiot!

And I think that’s common when people start looking into working with a ghostwriter. They have a sense it could be helpful, but they don’t really know how it works, or what’s expected of them, or what the “normal way” of working with a ghostwriter is. So let’s clear that up.

There are three ways most people work with a ghostwriter.

1. You can have a ghostwriter rewrite your draft

If you’ve written a draft of a book and you look at it and think, This isn’t everything I want it to be, you can hire a ghostwriter to fix it for you. If you know your draft is a mess, and think an editor would have a hard time with it because it doesn’t even really make sense yet, then you can turn that rough draft over to a ghostwriter.

They'll spend time talking with you about what you want to achieve and why you don’t love it. Then they can rewrite the draft to turn it into the book you dreamed of.

2. You can have a ghostwriter create a draft from other content

This is probably more common than the first, and is ideal for those who have a lot of written or video content floating around in various forms. Here, you give the ghostwriter any content you already have, which could include:

  • blog posts,
  • course materials,
  • videos, podcasts, or transcripts of you speaking,
  • lead magnets,
  • worksheets you use with clients, or
  • anything else!

The ghostwriter will interview you and together you’ll work out an outline for the book. The ghostwriter will then go away and write the book, based on the content you’ve shared with them and the interviews.

3. You can have a ghostwriter interview you

This last option is great if you don’t have any written or video content to share, but can talk till the cows come home about your subject! You’ll sit down (in person or virtually) and have a series of interviews with your ghostwriter. They’ll record all the calls, take a ridiculous amount of notes, and write your book from those interviews.

What if you don’t fit neatly into one of these three categories?

Of course, you can combine these three tactics to varying degrees and it’s rarely an all or nothing situation. Most ghostwriters will work with you, wherever you’re at and whatever you’ve got to start with.

Do you have more questions about ghostwriting?

Stick your email address is the space below. You’ll get weekly emails from me where I’ll tackle more common questions about ghostwriting, and I’ll also send you cool stuff I come across about writing your non-fiction book.

And of course, if you have a burning question you want to chat about now, you can always click here to shoot me a message.


An interview with Fem Founder


An interview with Fem Founder

Guess who got interviewed this week?

Meeee! The wonderful Kristin from Fem Founder interviewed me this week for her blog, in which she offers up Q&As with female entrepreneurs. Read the interview here.

We cover questions including what inspired me to start my business, what the first steps were that I took in my business, my biggest challenges (where I talk about my son), and my advice for new and aspiring entrepreneurs.

If you're a female entrepreneur, Fem Founder is also worth checking out for their freebie 5 simple secrets to landing top-tier media coverage. Their credits include getting clients featured in Inc.com, Entrepreneur.com, & HuffingtonPost.com, so they know their stuff!

I'll share another video next week (we'll be talking about how to work with a ghostwriter), but in the meantime, if you have a burning question you want to chat about now, click here to shoot me a message.


What does a ghostwriter do?


What does a ghostwriter do?

Seriously, what does a ghostwriter actually do?

If you’re looking into writing a non-fiction book, you may have come across the term ghostwriting. It’s pretty common—some research says 50% of best-selling non-fiction books are ghostwritten. But if you’re like most people who aren’t in the industry, you might wonder what a ghostwriter does. We’re going to clear that up!



I’m Liz, the writer behind Green Goose Ghostwriting, where online entrepreneurs get help to write books that build their businesses.

I recently had a call with a parenting coach who wanted to turn her process for working one-on-one with clients into a book. We had a great chat about her business, her audience, some ideas for the book, and how we could use the book to build her business. Then, at the end of the call, I said, "Do you have any questions for me?" And she went a bit bashful, then asked, "What does a ghostwriter actually do?”

And I thought, Oh. I need to explain this better.

So, what does a ghostwriter do?

A ghostwriter is someone who is hired to write on behalf of someone else. 

There are a few different ways that can look. Some ghostwriters write blogs, social media posts, and other online content for businesses or individuals. Some ghostwriters write speeches or video scripts for people. Others write books for people.

Whatever they’re writing, it’s usually because the person they’re writing for falls into one of three categories ...

You might see yourself in one of these descriptions

1. You have something to say but struggle to write it down.

You might be an expert in your field, but not so hot at the writing stuff. You know if you tried to write your ideas down yourself, you wouldn’t do them justice. What’s in your head doesn’t translate onto the page very well.

2. You just don’t like writing.

You might be a decent writer but that blank page intimidates you. Or bores you. Or you just don’t enjoy the process of getting words down on the page, and would rather have someone do it for you. You know the benefits of having a book, but life is too short to do things you don’t love.

3. You don’t have the time to write.

This is true for many of people who are already running busy, successful businesses. Maybe you like writing, maybe you don’t. Maybe you're good at it, or maybe not so much. But it doesn’t matter anyway because you simply don’t have the time to sit down and write. But you know a book would help your business. So, you do the smart thing and get a ghostwriter to help you with it.

So that’s what a ghostwriter does. It’s just a fancy word for someone who writes on behalf of someone else.

Do you have more questions about ghostwriting?

If so, stick your email address in the box below and sign up for emails from me, because I’m going to be answering some more common questions over the coming weeks. We’ll be talking about things like:

  • who gets the credit when you use a ghostwriter,
  • how do ghostwriters get paid, and
  • how do you work with a ghostwriter?

And of course, if you have a burning question you want to chat about now, you can always click here to shoot me a message.


Writing shouldn’t be so lonely


Writing shouldn’t be so lonely

Have you tried to write before?

You might have found it a lonely experience. But I recently had a good reminder that, whatever you’re writing, you don’t have to write it alone.



I’m Liz, the writer behind Green Goose Ghostwriting, where online entrepreneurs get help to write books that build their businesses. 

It’s January and I don’t do resolutions exactly, but I do like to decide on a couple of focus points for the new year. 

For 2018, I’ve decided to get back into writing fiction. I have FOUR half-finished novels in my desk drawer. It's pretty shameful for a writer, but I’ve never managed to finish a novel. In fact, last year I hardly wrote any fiction at all. 

This year will be different

But to kick this year off right, I spoke to a couple of amazing editor friends (Leslie Watts from Writership and Anjanette Fennell from Story As Life Literary) about a story idea I’m beating around. 

Now, talking about my story ideas out loud is new for me. Usually I keep them close and don’t talk about them at all. 

I get scared of being laughed at

I suppose I don’t want to be laughed at for an idea that’s only half figured out. I suppose I worry people will roll their eyes and think my ideas are dumb and a waste of time. 

So talking through my fiction story was a big step outside my comfort zone. And, to my surprise, the conversations went really well. Both women I shared with were really encouraging. They helped me figure out some genre and plot stuff I’d been stuck on.

Now, I’m finally making progress on the outline for my story. 

It made me think ...

The experience really made me think about the idea that we don’t have to write on our own. Writing doesn’t have to be such a lonely endeavor. 

It seems a bit obvious when I say it out loud. I mean, that’s what I do as a ghostwriter: I partner up with authors who don’t want to do it alone. And I think it’s a brilliant way to write.

You merge one person’s knowledge and experience and genius with another person’s writing skills and creativity, and you produce something better than you ever could’ve alone

But I’d never thought to apply the same principle to writing fiction. Duh. 

What's this got to do with you?

Now, you might not be writing fiction. You might be working on non-fiction, say, a how-to guide or big idea book. But whatever you’re writing, or thinking about writing, I want to encourage you to find someone to keep you company as you write

It could be your husband or wife. It could be a business accountability partner. It could be a Facebook group in which you post about your progress or challenges. It could even be partnering with a ghostwriter like me!


The important thing is to share your ideas with someone, so it doesn’t become such a lonely practice. 

It can feel scary to put your ideas out there when you’re not even sure if they’re any good. But good things happen when you share. 

Below I'm sharing some links to free Facebook groups where you can find people to keep you company on your writing journey. You can also click here to reach out to me if you want to talk about working on your project together. 

Some resources

Lastly, if you want to get more resources and advice about writing books for your business, put your email in the box below and I’ll send you cool stuff as I come across it. 


A free resource for overwhelmed entrepreneurs


A free resource for overwhelmed entrepreneurs

Are you trying to grow your online business?

Do you feel a bit alone, scattered, or overwhelmed? If so, this is for you.



If you’re trying to grow your online business but feel a bit alone, a bit scattered, and overwhelmed, I want to share a free resource with you that’s really helped me recently, because I think it’ll help you too.

I’m Liz, the writer behind Green Goose Ghostwriting, where online entrepreneurs get help to write books that build their businesses.

It's not a book!

This week, I’m not talking about writing books, because I’m really excited about this free resource that’s been helping me grow my business (it’s not a book!) and since you guys are online entrepreneurs just like me, I want to share it with you.

Introducing ... Jenny Shih


A few years ago I discovered a business coach called Jenny Shih. She works with online, service based business owners. I felt drawn to her because she speaks very openly about running a business while she was very, very sick. She had Lyme disease, which just sounds brutal. And it spoke to me because, for four years, I really struggled with a chronic pain condition.

My pain, freelancing, and finding career faith

And that’s why I started freelancing—because suddenly I wasn’t well enough to haul myself into an office every day. I needed flexibility to go to doctor’s appointments and treatments and to work from my bed when I was having a bad day. Jenny Shih gave me faith that I didn’t have to give up on my career dreams just because I didn’t fit into the corporate mold any more.

And now?

Now, my chronic pain is almost completely under control. I still have to be careful about how I live so I don’t tax my body too much, but I’m doing really well. 

And so is Jenny Shih. This fall she launched this free resource for online, service-based entrepreneurs. It’s called Make It Work Online Prep School + Workshop and it’s a free group coaching program on Facebook and email.

Still time to get involved

The prep school part has been going on for a few months and I’ve already got new clients by following her advice in there. The workshop part starts January 16, so there’s still time to get involved. It’s also free. I think it's a lead-in to her upcoming paid program, but don’t let that put you off. Jenny is well known for giving away free content, so I'm confident there’s going to be a ton of benefit to the free workshop.

Click here to request an invite to the group.

Plus, below you can sign up to get more cool stuff to do with writing a book for your business. If you really want to make progress in building your business this year, I encourage you to take advantage of these free resources.

See you in the group!


You don't have to hustle so hard


You don't have to hustle so hard

Do you feel like it shouldn't be this hard to win every god damn piece of business?

In this video we’re going to talk about the actual nitty gritty of HOW a book can help you build your business and win over prospects, so you don’t have to hustle so hard every time.



I’m Liz, the ghostwriter behind Green Goose Ghostwriting, where online entrepreneurs get help to write books that build their businesses.

You might have a sense that writing a book will be good for your business.

But how exactly does that work?

You need to be clear on this before you start, so you can turn your book idea into something that really does the hard work of winning prospects over for you.

Now, you can write the book first, then build a business around that book. That’s a totally valid way of doing things. But most of the people I speak to already have an existing business that’s doing okay. So we’re going to cover how a book can help in that situation.

There are three ways a book helps you win business without having to hustle so hard:

1. It helps prospects trust you. 

When we see your name on a book cover, it makes us believe you’re an authority in your niche. This is especially important for people who speak a lot as part of their business model.

2. It gives you a new platform to speak from. 

When you release your book, you have something new to talk about. You have a lead in to approach podcasts, blogs, newscasts, and other platforms, so you can reach new potential clients.

3. It provides a lower-priced entry point. 

Buying your book will be a lot cheaper than working directly with you. This lets potential clients test the waters to see if they like you and what you have to say, before they work directly with you.

Once you have your book available, all three of these elements will work together so that, when it comes time to be on a Skype call with a prospect, or to be pitching them, they’re already sold on the idea of working with you

They will already want what you’re offering, and want you on their side. 

Then the call, the pitch, becomes a formality to iron out the details. And then you don’t have to hustle so hard!

The book has done the heavy lifting for you.

Now, that’s not to say that writing a book isn’t hard. It can feel that way if you’re trying to do it on your own. But you do that work once, and it works over, and over, and over again for you.

We know about passive income in respect to earning you money over and over again, but this is passive hustling: having the book hustle for you again and again.

To recap:

  1. A book helps prospects trust you.
  2. A book gives you a new lead-in to speak to new prospects.
  3. A book is a lower priced entry point for potential clients who aren’t yet sure if they want to commit.

Isn't this a bit basic?

This might sound simple, but it’s important to be clear on these ideas before you start writing your book. This will help you go into the writing stage with clarity and purpose, so you don’t get stuck in the weeds.

Want more?

If you want to hear more about writing a book to build your business so you don’t have to hustle so hard, pop your email in the space below. Whenever I come across cool stuff about writing a non-fiction book, I’ll send it your way.


When is writing a book a waste of time?


When is writing a book a waste of time?



When is a writing a book a waste of time?

I’m asking because, if you’re just starting to think about writing a how-to book, this might be on your mind. 

It’s a decent time and energy investment, and you probably don't have much time or energy to spare. You can't afford to waste your time.

Well, to answer this, it helps to think about the two main approaches an author can take to non-fiction books. 

Support an existing business

The first approach is to write a book to support your existing business. This applies if you’ve been working with clients for a while, you know how to help people in a one-on-one situation, and now you want to spread that message to a bigger audience. 

Or maybe you want to create a lower-priced product for those who can’t afford to work directly with you, or you want a book to act as a business card for your existing services.

Build a business around a book

The second approach is to write a book first, then create a business around your book. You don’t need to have a successful business before you write the book. It can come after.

There’s actually a great dude called Jim Kukral who talks all about this on his site, which is literally called Business Around a Book. Check it out here.

Both are smart ways to use a book for business.

But if you want a non-fiction book to make you money on its own, then you might be sorely disappointed.

That’s when it might be a waste of time. 

(One quick caveat: If you don’t care about selling the book, spreading your message, or anything like that, if you just want to have done it for yourself, your family, and just to know you did it, then have at it! Do it however you like.)

When we’re talking about building your business or creating income, a book on its own is likely a waste of time and energy. 

Because a book isn’t a business. 

It needs to be part of a bigger plan. I’ll talk about this more next time. We’ll look at how a book fits into a business strategy for service-oriented entrepreneurs. 

But for now, start thinking about how your book fits into a bigger plan for your business or income goals, so it doesn’t become a waste of time. 

See you next time!


Want to level-up?


Want to level-up?

What if you want to write a how-to book about [whatever it is you know lots about] but you don’t know lots about writing a book?


If we haven’t met yet, I’m Liz Green, the writer behind Green Goose Ghostwriting. I help entrepreneurs write books that will build their businesses.

I’m not a world-famous author. I haven’t written hundreds of best-sellers. Yet. But I am an experienced ghostwriter. I am someone who is good at helping others get out what they want to say.

And I am a person who loves great, instructional, life changing books. I have just a few of them. (Check out that bookshelf behind me!)

I’m also someone who likes learning and wants to learn more about writing how-to books that really help people. 

I love leveling-up my skills.

Now, one thing I don’t love is being in the spotlight. These videos are definitely pushing my comfort zone a bit. I’d rather be behind the scenes helping out others.

But I’m doing the videos anyway.


Because I'm betting there are others out there who would be interested in tagging along and learning with me.

Even if you’re not in a position to hire a ghostwriter, if you’re here, you’re likely interested in sharing your message and experience with the world in a bigger way than you already are.

So this is an invitation for you to join me, learn with me, level-up with me. If this sounds interesting, pop your email address in the space below. I’m going to start sending out emails with stuff I find interesting on writing how-to books. And I’d love for you to learn with me!


Is a book always a book?


Is a book always a book?

Here’s a question: Is a book always a book? If you’re an entrepreneur writing a how-to book for your clients, the answer might well be no.

Today I'm sharing my first ever video. It's a little (a lot) rough around the edges, but I'm pretty proud of myself for getting it out. Like writing, it can be hard to get that first draft out, but once you do it gives you momentum to keep going. Check out the video or, if you're the reading type, scroll down for the scoop.


Here’s a question: Is a book always a book?

If you’re an entrepreneur writing a how-to book for your clients, the answer might well be no.

In case we haven’t met, I’m Liz Green, the writer behind Green Goose Ghostwriting. I work with entrepreneurs to write books that build their businesses, and today I want to ask you to consider your medium.

A lot of us have a book idea in mind, maybe a loose outline of what you’d include, and an idea of who you’d write it for, but you haven’t started writing yet—for whatever reason. 

If that’s you, you’re in the perfect place to consider if your book should be a book!

What do I mean? 

If you know you’re writing for busy people with a grinding daily commute, then your book might be great as an audiobook for them to listen to on the train. 

If your message encourages a lot of introspection, your book might best as a workbook, or offered with an accompanying workbook. 

If it’s likely what you have to say will be used as a reference guide, then a physical book that folks can flick through and mark up easily could be really helpful. 

My point is this:

There are many ways you can present your book. 

It doesn't have to be restricted to ebook or a traditional format. 

I remember hearing a theory that 50 Shades of Gray did so well in ebook format because no one wants to sit on the train holding a physical book with a cover that tells the world pure reading soft porn. 

Now, you’ll probably produce your book in several formats but, If you haven’t started writing yet, this really is a good time to consider which will be the preferred format for your audience, as it may impact how you lay out your content. 

I am a writer and my original instinct was to crate this blog in written form. 

Then I considered my audience. I want to talk to busy people running their own successful businesses. And it dawned on my that video content is often easier and faster to digest, and might be preferred by my audience. 

Which leads me here. My first ever video. 

I have a background in marketing and events, and have been writing in various forms for over a decade. But I have not tried sharing my knowledge online before. So this is the start of that. 

I’ll be figuring it out as I go along a bit, but I plan to share what I can to help folks who a great idea or experience or knowledge for a book, but who aren’t so confident in the writing. 

That’s it for now. I ask you to consider your medium, and if your book will, in fact, be a book. 


How to write in your own voice


How to write in your own voice


If you want to write in your own voice, but find when you sit down to write, it comes out weird, like it was written by a big, stuffy, boring corporation, this blog post is for you.

Writing in your own engaging, authentic voice is tough. That’s why you find it hard. Because it is hard. For most of us, it doesn’t come naturally.

But we can learn. We can learn little things that guide us, one step at a time, and our writing will get incrementally better until it’s unrecognizable from the stuff you used to be so embarrassed of.

So here’s one step you can take today to make your writing sound more like you.

After you’ve written a blog post, read it back and change any words that you wouldn’t use when you speak.

We want to write well. All of us do. I don’t believe there’s anyone out there who doesn’t give a crap about something they’ve written that they know will be read by others. And because we want to write well, we try to use “proper” words, instead of the rubbish that naturally spews from our mouths.

Let me ask, does anyone like you? Offline, I mean. In the real world. Is there at least one person who likes you?

Well, they like you because of the rubbish that spews from your mouth! They like the things you say, your opinions and they way you say them (even if they don’t agree with them). It’s part of what makes you you.

So get rid of any words you wouldn’t naturally say. Here are two corkers that pop up in people's writing all the time:


This one really gets my goat, as Jay from Modern Family would say. I love that show. I wish his YouTube blog was a real thing.

Yes, utilize and use do have different meanings. Different nuances. One cannot be directly replaced with the other. But you know what? Most of the time when you write utilize, you actually mean use. So just use use. Please.


As in, “Presently I am experiencing frustration with the word presently.” Often you can cut the word out and it doesn’t effect the sentence at all.

Sometimes you need a word that will transition you into the statement. There are better choices than presently. Try at the moment, now, or right now.

This extra one probably is something you’d say in normal conversation, but I’m including it here because it’s another one that really gets my goat!


Is it? Really? Besides the fact that soooooooo many people claim their latest post is “totally epic,” the word doesn’t even mean what many people think.

Epic means telling a story about a hero or about exciting events or adventures. Or, it means very great or large and usually difficult or impressive. (So says Merriam-Webster’s trusty dictionary.)

Maybe the real definition doesn’t matter, since anyone born after 1885 knows what you mean when you say epic. But still, is it really epic?

What about you?

What words do you write, that you’d never say out loud? Let me know in the comments.


15 Writing tips from today's top entrepreneurs


15 Writing tips from today's top entrepreneurs

 15 Writing tips from today's top entrepreneurs

This is exciting. Not one, not two, but fifteen of today's top entrepreneurs took time out of their busy schedules to tell me their top writing tips, so I could share them with you.

And these folks really are busy. Neil Patel, for example, gets 1,450 emails a week. That's 207 a day! He sends 637 emails a week—91 a day. And on a sunny February afternoon, one of those 91 emails came to me.

He was replying to the question I'd put to all fifteen of these top entrepreneurs.

What’s the best writing tip you’ve ever received?

Some of their answers are one-liners, others are paragraphs of creative insight. The writing tips are honest, diverse, and have helped these entrepreneurs build all kinds of successful businesses.

Some are writing businesses, but most aren't. They're business coaching and systems management and law firms and life coaching and marketing and podcasting...  All built by entrepreneurs.

Why are we talking to entrepreneurs? Why not just writers?

Because you're an entrepreneur. And these folks, who started just like you, have accomplished what you need to do...

Though they may not identify as writers, they've harnessed the power of writing.

They've used it to earn trust from their readers, to show their true selves, to convey the utility of their products, and to build hugely successful business empires.

If you have an online business, like these entrepreneurs, your success hinges on your ability to do all that. Because when people are reading your website, your blog, your sales copy and your life story, they won't give you a free pass for not "identifying as a writer."

But I want you to be inspired by that. Be inspired that so many entrepreneurs have successfully harnessed the power of writing.

If you can learn to connect like they have (and you can learn), you could be sharing your advice in an article like this, in the not-too-distant future!

So, in no particular order...

15 Writing tips from today's top entrepreneurs

1. Marie Forleo

Marie created a multimillion dollar empire from scratch, has a bestselling book in 16 languages, 275,000 subscribers in 193 countries around the world, 4 top selling fitness DVDs and a weekly online show.

"I'm a writer because I write. I've never actually had any formal training, I've just been doing it for years. And when I first started I was pretty darn bad.

"But there was one thought that really helped me out. Writing is just talking in text form. And most of don't ever get talker's block, right? When we've got something to say, we just say it. So think of writing as just talking in text form, and write how you talk."

 Photo by Ashley Goins

2. Jeff Goins

Jeff is the author of four books, including the best seller The Art of Work. His website, Goinswriter.com, has been visited by more than four million people from all over the world. (Photo by Ashley Goins.)

"The biggest piece of advice is simple, don't quit."


3. Heather Crabtree

Heather is a Business Strategist for Creative Entrepreneurs. Her first course launch made her $28,000 in two weeks! Now she has over 7,000 Facebook group members and over 6,800 email subscribers.

"The best writing advice I ever received was actually more about what I learned than what someone actually told me. Write from your heart. Whether you love to write about business (like me), parenthood, food, parties, fitness, or anything else, if you write it from your heart, you can never go wrong.

"Be vulnerable. Open up your heart and let people in to see the real, authentic you. If you are a book nerd like me, own it. Love unicorns... own it. Love Harry Potter... own it. Love painting all day until your eyes can't stay awake anymore... own it.

"Tell your story, share your smarts and write from your heart!"

4. John Lee Dumas

John is the founder of award winning podcast EntrepreneurOnFire, and is the man behind The Freedom Journal, THE solution for anyone who struggles with setting and accomplishing goals.

"Write as if you were speaking in your own voice, with your own pizazz, with YOUR personality."


5. Louise Presley-Turner

Louise is one of the UK’s most prolific life coaches and author of Finding a Future That Fits. She's been featured in top UK magazines, newspapers and BBC radio, and blogs for the Huffington Post.

"Having written two books and hundreds of articles in my time, the best writing advice is to GET IN THE VORTEX and then write! By vortex I mean find your flow, get in alignment to source and then let the writing inspiration flow. All bestselling books are written in the vortex.

"To get in the vortex you can meditate, exercise, go outside, do yoga, dance, sing, anything that gets you in the creative flow."

6. Alexis Neely AKA Ali Shanti

Alexis (artist name is Ali Shanti) is the CEO of New Law Business Model + Eyes Wide Open Life. She's built four million-dollar plus companies and a couple of six-figure companies as well.

"In law school, I was told that I wasn't a good writer. I had to get over that and understand that legal writing is different than personal writing or business writing for marketing purposes.

"The best writing advice I ever received from the perspective of writing sales and marketing copy is to write to one specific person. Get a picture of that person in your mind and speak to him or her directly. It'll make all your writing so much more personal and fun to read.

"Another piece of advice I got was to read everything I could by the best known marketing copywriters and copy out (by hand) some of their marketing letters so I could ingrain their way into my being.

"The one thing you need to be careful about with that as we step into a new heart-based paradigm is that much of their copy is seriously manipulative and if you do not want to infuse more of that into the culture, you'll have to be aware of it and identify where you can utilize the basic rules of copywriting and evolve beyond the manipulation strategies to infuse heart and soul into your offers."

7. Kelly Acevedo

Kelly is the founder of custom coaching program She's Got Systems.  She's grown six-figure and million-dollar online businesses with a variety of entrepreneurs, and her work has appeared in the New York Times, Forbes, Inc., US News, Mashable and The Huffington Post.

"The best advice I got around writing was to stop editing and simply write. Each November I participate in a challenge and realized that I can write 1500 words *a day* - as long as I don't stop and edit and judge my words. There's time for editing later but if you don't do the writing work first you can't edit a blank page."

 Nisha Moodley's top writing tip on greengoosefreelancewriting.com

8. Nisha Moodley

Nisha is a Women's Leadership Coach, offering retreats and coaching to expand freedom. She's a featured expert on DailyWorth, and has been featured on CNN, Huffington Post and The Daily Love.

"The best writing advice I've ever received came from Anne Lamott's brilliant book, Bird By Bird.  In it she talks about the power of the "shitty first draft," whereby, rather than focusing on writing exquisite prose as soon as you sit down, you instead allow yourself to just write a "shitty first draft" that will eventually (hopefully) lead to something good."

[Liz's note: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott really is a brilliant book! I'm not an affiliate but highly recommend it for people who want to become better writers but hate boring grammar books.]

 Writing tips from entrepreneur Ash Ambirge

9. Ash Ambirge

Ash has created multiple six-figure brands, and is CEO of House of Moxie Creative and The Middle Finger Project Blog. She helps businesses use words as weapons to make real money.

"The best writing advice I’ve ever received was from Seth Godin: “Go, go, go.” It’s the only reason I’m now a represented author!"


 Writing tips from entrepreneur Neil Patel

10. Neil Patel

The Wall Street Journal calls Neil a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 online marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies in the world.

"The best advice that I got was that if you are writing a 1000 word post, it can be condensed into 500 words. In other words, get to the point. No one wants to read fluff."

 Writing tips from entrepreneur Kathleen Shannon

11. Kathleen Shannon

Kathleen is co-founder of Braid Creative and, with pal Emily Thompson, she hosts Being Boss, a podcast for creative entrepreneurs about being boss the way we choose.

"The best writing advice I've ever received was from Jessica Willingham and it was if you want to write well you need to read well. I loved that and have found it to be so true in my own career.

"I love reading books by authors who write authentically as themselves – Nora Ephron is my hero right now and I would love to be able to write more like her. "

 Writing tips from entrepreneur Corbett Barr

12. Corbett Barr

Corbett is co-founder/ CEO of Fizzle, which offers honest video training for online business builders. Over two million people have read their blog, and their podcast is the #1 rated business show.

"The best writing advice I ever received was this: know who you're writing for."

 Writing tips from entrepreneur Amber McCue

13. Amber McCue

Amber McCue is a business consultant who Danielle LaPorte called "80 percent get-it-done and 20 percent fun!" She helps entrepreneurs leverage their righteous potential, through her business Nice Ops.

"Write the way you talk. Your clients will thank you for not being a robot."

 Writing tips from entrepreneur Lacy Boggs

14. Lacy Boggs

Lacy is a ghost blogger and Director of The Content Direction Agency. She quit her editor job to become an entrepreneur, doubled her income and cut her working hours from 60 to 20 a week.

"Make yourself cry. (In other words, if it doesn't move you, it won't move them.)"

 Writing tips from entrepreneur Carrie Green

15. Carrie Green

After launching her first successful business in university, Carrie founded the Female Entrepreneur Association, an online support hub with thousands of members from across the world..

"I remember a mentor once saying, “What kind of relationship do you want to have with your audience? Do you want to be the best friend, the older and wiser sister, the mum, the firm, but fun aunty?” At first I thought, “how on earth are you supposed to choose to be one of those things?!” but the more I wrote, the more I started to realise what he meant and the more I realized that I wanted to be the friend.

"The friend that was right there by your side, the friend that had your back and wanted to encourage you and to share everything I’d learned with you. This helped me to find my voice when writing posts and emails, because all I had to do was ask myself, “would I send this to my best friend?" If I did, would they love it and appreciate it or would they think, “what on earth has Carrie sent me?!”

"Putting yourself out there and sharing your message can be pretty scary and it can be easy to get in your own way with it and think, “I need to sound more professional/more like this person or that person” and we put pressure on ourselves to be someone we’re not and then everything we write feels totally inauthentic.

"So I’m really grateful for that mentor for encouraging me to think about the kind of relationship I wanted to develop with my reader, because it allowed me to just be me (with lots of practice I might add!!) and that has helped me to build a much deeper and real relationship with my audience."

 Writing tips from entrepreneur Green Goose Freelance Writing

And a bonus one... me!

I can't leave you without the best writing tip I ever received. If we haven't met yet, I'm Liz, the writer behind Green Goose Freelance Writing. I help entrepreneurs blog like a boss, and build their businesses through that blog. Read more here.

"My writing, and confidence, really improved after reading William Zinger's classic 1970's book, On Writing Well. Even today it's amazingly useful and readable. William talks about ditching old cliches and writing with fresh words and perspectives.

"Cliches come into my drafts all the time. But stopping, deleting, and choosing unexpected words instead has made me much happier with the final product."

What's the best writing advice YOU'VE ever received? Share your golden nuggets in the comments below. I'd love to hear.


The only writing rule you really need to know


The only writing rule you really need to know

Grammar. Blurgh. You probably want to leave this post already. Don’t. I have good news. I promise.

See, some people will tell you grammar is about rules. They're wrong. There are rules. Lots of them. But that's not what it's about.

Grammar is about clarity. About being understood. It's an ally, empowering you to say what you really mean. Giving you confidence in knowing, absolutely, that you're understood.

And only when you're understood can you connect with people on a real, impactful level. And as entrepreneurs, that’s essential to our businesses.

That's why it's important that you use grammar correctly. And note, "correctly" doesn't necessarily mean obeying all the rules. The paragraph above is riddled with technical errors. But did you understand it? Was it clear?

Using grammar correctly means knowing the options available, what you can play with and what you shouldn't, and using that to create your desired effect.

The effect of your writing is what we mean when we talk about tone of voice. It might be fun, professional, personable, romantic, quirky or anything else. But—if you're writing for someone else to read—your desired effect must first and foremost be CLEAR.

Because it doesn’t matter what you say, if no one understands it.

So which grammar rules should you use to help you write clearly? Which should you ignore?

There are several writing rules below, but it doesn’t mean the title of this post is a lie! Keep reading to find out how there really is only one rule you need. (I may have already hinted at it!)

Rules to tear to bits, stamp on and use your heal to squish them into the pavement until they turn to mush:

1. Don’t split infinitives.

Very simply, infinitives are the basic version of verbs, like to go, to see and to eat. Splitting them means shoving a word in-between the two words that make up the infinitive.

You CAN do that. Otherwise, the Enterprise would have to go boldly where no man has before, and that just sounds stupid.

2. Don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.

Conjunctions are joining words, like and, or, but, however, so and because. These days, starting sentences with these words is completely acceptable in almost all online writing.

In fact, they can be really useful in ensuring your writing flows from one sentence to the next, keeping the train of thought connected. (A disjointed train of thought is common with inexperienced writers.)

3. Don’t end a sentence with a proposition.

Many people never understood this one anyway, so good riddance. Propositions are the small words that tell you where something is in relation to another thing, like on, in, above, over, up and by. Really formal writing is the only place this rule still exists.

4. A sentence must always contain a subject and a verb.

Subjects are things. Verbs are action words. In online writing, particularly blogs, short sentences are recommended.  Shorter = easier to read. So we often split sentences up, and that’s okay.

The best blogs are also quite conversational, and in real conversations we use fragmented sentences all the time. Let your writing reflect real conversation.

Rules you should recite enough times that they slip into your dreams and hang out there every night with Channing Tatum:

1. Start a sentence with a capital letter. End a sentence with a period (full stop), comma, exclamation mark or question mark.

Don’t get too creative. You can’t screw with this one.

2. Don't separate two independent thoughts with a comma.

I see this A LOT. It feels like a stream-of-consciousness sentence running on and on. Here's what it looks like: Sophie is crazy, she broke into Channing Tatum's house and stole his underwear, she doesn't even care.

These are three separate thoughts. The simplest way to fix this is to split them up with periods (full stops). Here's how: Sophie is crazy. She broke into Channing Tatum's house and stole his underwear. She doesn't even care.

3. Get your apostrophes in the right places.

If something belongs to someone, use 's, for example: Sophie's restraining order.

If you're smushing two words together, you use ' for the missing letter, for example: Don't trust crazy Sophie (instead of do not trust crazy Sophie).

If you're talking about more than one thing, there's no apostrophe, for example: Sophie now has three restraining orders.

4. Know the difference: their, there, they're

Their = something belonging to them. Their sister, Sophie, is crazy.
There = a place. There are Channing Tatum's g-strings!
They're = they are. They're auctioning off Channing Tatum's g-strings to fund his law suit against Sophie.

The only writing rule you really need to know

But for all this, there is just one rule you need to know. One guiding principle that will serve you well in everything you write. And that’s this:

Everything you write must be clear.

Forget cleverness and humour and sophistication and creativity. None of that matters until you’ve ensured that everything you've written is clear.

There you have it. The one writing rule you need to know. Everything else will follow, but keep your clarity and you know you’ll be understood. And that’s empowering.

Our next post will be a round-up of personal advice from 12 of the internet’s biggest entrepreneurs! I’m excited. You should be too! Sign up below to get the post in your inbox, as well as The Don’t Hit Publish Until You Check This! Checklist for your own blog.



How to brainstorm blog post ideas: a step-by-step guide


How to brainstorm blog post ideas: a step-by-step guide

Some lucky souls don't have to brainstorm blog post ideas. Their ideas come freely, like little gifts wrapped in pink ribbon dropped from the gods of the internet into their waiting Evernote files.

I’ll admit, I’m usually one of those lucky souls. Please don’t hate me for it.

But if you’ve been left off the internet-gods’ gift list, don’t worry.

You’re a strong, 21st century woman, and you can bloody well brainstorm blog post ideas for yourself. Screw you, internet-gods.

Instead of sitting there listless, feeling out of ideas and out of touch, you can take steps to actively brainstorm blog post ideas that:

  • your readers will love
  • will bring you more traffic
  • will grow your list
  • you can write about well, and
  • will leave you feeling energized.

Follow this step-by-step guide to gently coax your creative juices into bubbling. And once they hit a rolling boil, you’d better have a pen ready…

How to brainstorm blog post ideas: A step-by-step guide

Step 1

Gather your supplies. For this blog post brainstorming session, you’ll need:

  • 5 sheets of paper, letter (A4) sized or bigger
  • coloured pens, sharpies, markers, felt tips or pencils
  • your work calendar, schedule, goals plan and/or to-do list (don’t worry if these don’t exist for you yet)
  • a list of two or three blogs by your competitors or industry inspirations.

Why are we going old school?

If real pens and paper make you feel like you just fell out of Doc’s DeLorean, I get ya. But going old school is important here. Writing by hand coordinates the left and right sides of the brain, making us more creative.

This works better for some more than others, but we all benefit from it. Try it once. If it doesn’t work for you, then you have my blessing to grab your laptop and head back to the future.

Step 2

Take four pieces of paper and turn them sideways (horizontal). In the centre of each, in big, bold colour, draw an image that represents,

on paper 1: My Story

on paper 2: My Clients’ Biggest Questions

on paper 3: Behind the Scenes of my Business

on paper 4: The Competition

From here we’re going to use mind-mapping to get those creative juices bubbling to brainstorm blog post ideas. You might have run into mind-mapping before. It’s a technique that uses spider diagrams to visually “map” out information.

It works by engaging your cortical skills—word, image, number, logic, rhythm, colour and spatial awareness--to work together to allow you to think creatively. Here's an example:

 An example of mind-mapping from Tony Buzan (read about him below).

An example of mind-mapping from Tony Buzan (read about him below).

Step 3

  • Put papers 2, 3 and 4 out of sight for now.
  • On paper 1, My Story, we’re going to use mind-mapping to find blog post ideas from your personal story.

Why personal story?
Readers want to get to know you. It helps them trust you, and they want that.  It helps them realise you “get” them, and helps them feel like they’re not alone.

  • Use the guidelines below to map out any ideas that come to you about your personal story. Write down every single idea, no matter how fleeting or dumb. The silly ones often lead to something brilliant.

- Think big and broad
- business
- family
- play
- history, and
- goals and dreams.

  • Give yourself plenty of time. Come back to it throughout the day or week.

Mind-mapping might go back as far as the 3rd century, but became popular in the 1970’s by British author and TV personality Tony Buzan.

 Mind mapping guidelines from Tony Buzan

Mind mapping guidelines from Tony Buzan

Step 4

Repeat Step 3 for the remaining papers:

  • My Clients’ Biggest Questions
    What questions do they have before, during and after working with you? What questions do they ask about your work, their own lives and goals and dreams, and anything else?

Why biggest questions?
Discussing your clients’ biggest questions—even if you’re not answering them—is inherently helpful to potential clients. Smart discussion shows you’re smart. Shows you’re an authority. It also shows you understand their thoughts and concerns.

  • Behind the Scenes of my Business
    This is where you reference your work calendar, schedule, goals plan and/or to-do list. Map out all the activities that go on behind the scenes of your business: interesting and mundane; obvious and unusual; super professional and super embarrassing; and any thoughts that come to mind about it all.

Why behind the scenes?
You might be inclined to hide the messy life behind the computer screen, but don’t. Talking about the good and the ugly shows you’re honest. Honest = trustworthy. Giving insight into your processes shows just how much depth goes into your work. Talking about your mundane business stuff proves you’re a legit businesswoman.

  • The competition
    What are they doing? What blog posts have they written? Which are the popular ones? What have they missed? What do you agree or disagree with? How are you different or similar?

Why the competition?
They can be a fantastic inspiration. If they’re already blogging successfully about a particular idea, it means lots of people want to discuss that idea. So take the core idea and write about it your way, from your own opinion. Your reactions to the competitions’ thoughts can also be invaluable material.

 Another mind-mapping example to brainstorm blog post ideas

Another mind-mapping example to brainstorm blog post ideas

Step 5

Nearly there! Now we've brainstormed blog post ideas, we’re going to narrow down those ideas to the best ones for your readers. Why? It doesn’t matter how much you want to tell a story, if it doesn’t help your readers.

Your blog is for business, after all. And good business is based on being helpful.

That doesn’t mean it has to be “all business.” Often sharing personal stories is both appropriate and beneficial.

But it must HELP.

  • Consider each idea you brainstormed, and ask the following questions of it:

1. Does this idea help my readers?
Really? How?

2. Can I write 500+ words on it?
This is arguably the minimum recommended length of a blog post.

3. Can I write about this and stay true to my values?
If “always be positive” is a value of yours, a vitriolic tirade on the idiots on Fiverr wrecking your industry might not fit with that value.

4. Could this be considered self indulgent?
We all write self-indulgent stuff sometimes. Try to step outside of yourself and assess if it could be, perhaps, a little bit more about your ego than helping your readers.

Take the fifth piece of paper and copy down every idea for which you answered yes, yes, yes, no to.

Then step back and celebrate!

This is your initial list of blog post ideas. You likely need to sleep on, wrangle and re-frame some ideas, but they’re there, in this list.

Keep the list safe and soon we’ll talk about:

  • how to outline a blog post from an idea, and
  • how (and why) to make an editorial calendar.

(Next week is this blog’s official launch! To celebrate, I’ll be sharing a very special post with personal advice from 12 of the internet’s biggest entrepreneurs. Seriously! We’ll continue our blog development in March. Sign up below so you don’t miss a thing.)


How morphine made me a better blogger


How morphine made me a better blogger

Last week I shared this video of writing and editing a blog post, from an idea saved in my ideas bank. The ideas bank started after a really stupid amount of morphine muddled my brain, helping me become a better blogger.

The morphine was doctor-prescribed—no street drugs here. It was a hail Mary attempt to control the chronic pain I’d had since 2013, when a minor medical procedure went bad.

In 2014 the doc insisted on sick leave. I wallowed in pain and self-pity for six months before a friend asked for help with her blog.

And there it was. BAM. A rainbow broke through the hurricane.

Freelance writing.

It was creative. Fulfilling. Kind to my body. And I was good at it.

The office dress code (pyjamas and sweat pants) and cute colleagues sealed the deal.

 My cutie office colleagues, Scotch and Stogie.

My cutie office colleagues, Scotch and Stogie.

But I still had pain. My doc worked his way through the pharmacy before putting me on morphine—the only thing that touched the pain.

If you’re a junkie/fellow sufferer, you’ll know morphine creates tolerance. You have to keep upping the game. Before long, my daily dose was enough to sedate a small hippo.

My brain became slowly zombie-fied. The doc called it “highly impaired cognitive function.”

I was a dummy.

A dummy who forgot everything.


A few scattered and depressed months passed before a revelation found its way through the fog…

I needed to write. Not just blog posts for others or creative stories or ruminations on my shitty experiences.

No, I needed to write reminders. Reminders of:

  • where I put the chicken to defrost for dinner
  • how to get to physio (even though I did the journey three times a week)
  • what I planned to do in the next ten minutes
  • where my phone charger lives
  • what I was getting up to fetch
  • the recipes for weeknight meals I supposedly knew by heart
  • anything my husband said.

I used Evernote (the most awesome note taking app ever) to write down everything. It was a new way of writing. Survival writing.

And it revolutionized my blogging.

“But Liz, this blog only just started.”

I know. Of course I know—I’m the one writing it! ;)

But I’ve been writing for others for about a decade, in various forms. I started in journalism (HATED it—I was literally sent chasing an ambulance once), then moved into marketing and PR (better, despite the mean boss).

I enjoyed a stint as a conference manager and wedding planner before I discovered--through my friend and her blog—a whole universe of talented entrepreneurs living life on their own terms.

I liked that. I respected that.

These were women who’d said, NO MORE.

No more sitting in a cubicle taking shit from jumped up bosses with authority complexes.

No more two hour meetings that could’ve taken ten minutes.

No more douchebags stealing your yoghurt from the office fridge.

No more selling your soul to some corporation who makes millions, while you have to beg for a pay rise that won’t even cover inflation.

No more wishing you’d break your leg so you wouldn’t have to go in to work.

I liked these women.

And I liked that they understood the importance of writing. Because when you’re “meeting” your clients or customers online, your body language doesn’t mean a damn thing. It’s all in how you write.

I started to help, where I could, who I could. I wrote websites. I helped women become better bloggers. (I didn’t start my own blog—I worried I’d end up creatively drained. Silly.)

So when morphine-induced zombie brain kicked in, I was writing for others. And I was scared. My body had already failed me. Now my brain was failing too.

But all was not lost.

Survival writing saved me.

It made me a better blogger

I was writing down everything, including all the random thoughts that came to me as I was reading, or conditioning my hair for the second time because I couldn’t remember if I’d done it already, or drifting off to sleep, or walking Stogie (he’s the dog—the cat won’t come for walks with us).

This resulted in two things:

1. Practice

As my mum used to say: Talent isn’t enough, you must practice the piano. (As it happens, I had neither practice nor talent at the piano). But every time I reached for my iPhone and opened Evernote, it was practice.

I’m sure you’ve heard it before: Writing is a muscle. Use it or lose it.

My husband is training for his first marathon. I bought him a running book with a crazy three-month training program. You know what it doesn’t say?

Run a long time. Repeat.

It does have long runs, of course. But it also has hill starts, speed sessions, strength training and something called fartleks, which I find endlessly amusing.

All these different running exercises will (fingers crossed) get him through those 42.195km to successfully cross the finish line.

Now, we know that writing a reminder to put my knickers in the tumble dryer is not the basis for a ground breaking blog post. But it’s all these different types of writing that act as exercises to build our strength and get us through the marathon of writing required for a successful small business.

So find ways—any ways—to practice your writing.

2. Ideas

Ideas, ideas, ideas, ideas, ideas. They come, they go. If you haven’t snagged that idea down on paper, it’ll just wave at you as it vanishes into the ether.

Survival writing forced me to stop life and write, as the thoughts came. If you have a blog that’s constantly screaming for content, this habit is a god-send.

  • Always have some writing device (phone, pen and paper, chisel and stone) in arm’s reach.
  • Always STOP to write down ideas, no matter how off-beat. Write them all.

Over the last year I’ve changed doctors and reduced my morphine dosage to something less ridiculous. The pain went up, but I found other ways to (mostly) manage it. My cognitive function went from “highly impaired” to finally functioning. My memory recovered.

I feel human again.

But I’ve maintained the habits that morphine forced: I practice. I write down ideas.

I recommend it. (The practice and ideas-writing that is, not the chronic pain and opiates.)

And that’s how morphine made me a better blogger.


Editing a blog post: an unedited video


Editing a blog post: an unedited video

Everyone talks about the mystical, magical process of EDITING a blog post.

You know you have to do it (grrrrr). You know what it looks like for you (staring at your computer screen wondering if these words make any sense and what to have for dinner and that you really ought to book that appointment and that no one will read this anyway).

But what’s it supposed to look like?

How should you edit your writing? How do the pros do it? What does writing and editing a blog post look like?

Well, I thought I’d show you.

At least, I’ll show you how I—as someone who gets paid to write—do it. No fluff. No woo-woo general concept talking. An actual video of me writing and editing a blog post. This post, in fact.

The video below is a screenshot from my laptop. Unedited. No cuts. (Though sped up, as I’m sure you don’t want to sit there watching for as long as it took me to write.)

Here's what you'll see:

  • The original idea I’d scribbled down in an ideas bank in Scrivener, the software I use for writing. (Look closely and you’ll also glimpse ideas for upcoming posts.)
  • Many, many typos.
  • Allllllllllll the words I deleted.
  • The long pauses where I’m searching for the right words. (They tend to hide, you see.)
  • The playlist I listened to as I wrote (including the embarrassing songs. Yes I like One Direction. And what?) I can’t write without music.
  • That I always misspell embarrassing. It's embarrassing.
  • My attempts to wrangle my writing into subheadings and bullet points, so it’s easier on the eye.
  • My inability to come up with a good headline, and deciding to think on it for a day or so.

Here's what you won't see:

How you’re supposed to write and edit a blog post.
Because—I don’t care what everyone else says—THERE IS NO ONE BEST WAY. It is the unicorn of the writing world. It doesn’t exist.


Because we’re all individuals. And what works for me might not work for you.

I am so, so sick of reading Best Advice for Writers articles that tell me I’m an awful person for not getting up at 6am to write and will never achieve any of my writing goals because I like to snooze my alarm for four (okay, five) times every mid-morning when I get up.

So this isn’t advice. It sure as hell isn’t direction. It’s an example. It’s to show you that even “pro” writers’ writing is messy.

I will be sharing advice with you later. (I’ve got a killer post lined up after speaking with the likes of John Lee Dumas, Neil Patel and Marie Forleo!) But it’ll be lots of advice from lots of different people. Because the chances are, you’ll have to try lots of things to find what works for you. There is no one way.

In the meantime, here’s the unedited video.

[Note: It took me 45 minutes to write and edit 477 words. That’s pretty average for me but if you’re slower, remember, I write a lot. I also did another quick read through and edit before posting online. The video is at 5x speed. If you want to speed it up more, go to the bottom right corner, settings, and up the speed to 1.5x.]

So? What were your thoughts as you watched? I’d love to know. Tell me in the comments below.