How Karen achieves a consistent online presence

On Tuesday morning I stopped by the Karen Wray Gallery to take some pictures of Karen painting.
I’ll also be sure to use the pictures in upcoming articles about her art classes and exhibits, in her newsletters and on her Facebook page.
I have been working with Karen for several years. I enjoy getting to know all the artists in her gallery and telling the stories of their creative lives.
Karen wrote a testimonial for my website recently. Here is what she had to say about the experience working with me.
“Mandy is my publicist. She writes articles for the magazine and the local papers and also posts articles on social media. It’s well worth the money, and it gets rid of the headache of ‘I have to write this article.’ Mandy takes care of it.

Since I hired Mandy, I have more of a continuous presence online and locally. People are aware of my gallery, see the articles and appear to read them, and they come in as a result. I have seen an increase in people saying they found me through articles and Facebook.

As a business owner, I was thinking of saving time over saving money before hiring Mandy. For someone who knows how to write well, knows how to place them… it’s invaluable.
I would absolutely recommend Mandy to other people. She works very hard to satisfy [the] business owner. She’s very creative with the placement of articles. Recently, I had someone from Santa Fe come up after reading an article about us. I didn’t put it there!”
I have some openings for new clients in 2018. If you would like to hear more about my services and see if I could help your business, sign up for a free 15 minute meeting where we can go over your marketing needs.

Do you need someone to plow your parking lot or driveway?

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to make a brochure for a group of men who have a local snow plowing business.
Here’s how it turned out.
Don't get snowed in, front (high quality)
brochure rear, high quality
If you’re in Los Alamos, call Valente Yoder at 505-692-8422 or Luis Ontiveros at 505-695-0083.
They do residential and commercial snow removal.


This article brought shoppers into the gallery.

People ask me all the time how to write copy for the art market.

Apparently, it’s one of those niches that seem mysteriously difficult to write for.
Whenever there is an event at the Karen Wray Fine Art Gallery, Karen has me write a press release about it.
When we publish articles that show that there is a special event, she will get a crowd of people.
Here is a link to the most recent article, all about how people can get some unique Christmas gifts right now.
Karen said, “Thank you for the article about our Christmas show! Several customers mentioned that they read it and chose to come in due to the article!”
If you have an event coming up, or want to get more people to come to your business, a press release might work for you. Click here to make an appointment.

Her secret’s safe with me.

Yesterday I was checking out the comments on another person’s blog and feeling very satisfied with myself.
You see, I had just wrapped up the first month of a content package. And the blog posts were ghost-written by me.
At the beginning of this month, the owner of this particular website gave me a spreadsheet of ideas, bullet points and links to sales letters.
From there, I researched the topics, got to know the products and every week I delivered a 1,500-word blog post and a sales email on a silver platter.
She continued to write blog posts and emails on her own. But this month she had twice as much content and it freed her up to work on her core offerings.
It was cool to see how her audience was reacting the blog posts that I added, and how she was using the content to direct people to her sales pages.
I have some space in my schedule for another client who needs a steady stream of blog posts and emails. Click here to sign up for a free15-minutee meeting.

That was sooo unprofessional!

I’ve been bellyaching all week because a client canceled a project.

He didn’t mark up what I wrote or say anything was wrong with what I gave him.

I don’t think it had much to do with the work at all.

His biggest problem was ME.

I could totally take it personally this time.
He didn’t think I acted professionally. I was late to our meeting. I didn’t seem to be paying attention when he was talking. And he was really offended when he could hear kids in the background when we spoke on the phone.
I get that there are some basic things that I can improve my business life.

I am going to be more punctual, but I am also going to charge people for mileage and my time when they ask me to meet in another city.

I will never again take a call when there will be kids in the background, but that means that if a client calls on a Saturday and asks, “Is this a good time?” the answer will be, “No, let’s make an appointment.”

With those things out of the way, I want to talk about the bigger issue here.


I am a professional writer… people pay me to do this. But you’re not hiring me because I’m going to show up in the three-piece suit holding a clipboard and an official file.
You hire me because I am going to get to know you, find out what makes you and your business special and unique, and then write something that will connect with your audience on an emotional level.

In the past, my laid back demeanor helps me accomplish my goals. It makes other people feel comfortable, and when they feel comfortable they start to share their stories and give me the kind of material that works.

I want your unique personality to shine through when I write something for you.

P.S. So if you want to be 100% professional, it might not be a good fit. I want to get to know you and show just enough of your quirky side to get people’s attention and get them to buy.

The right way to approach revisions.

I’m working on a book about self-promotion for trumpet players, called “Tooting Your Own Horn – How to Promote Yourself as a Trumpet Player without Being an Obnoxious Blowhard.
I used Fiverr to get the cover made.
And when I saw the first version, I wanted to throw up in my mouth.

It was just… not what I had in mind.
My first instinct was to find someone else to do it. And maybe leave a bad review.
But I didn’t. Why?
One reason was that I didn’t have the budget to hire the person I really wanted to hire.
Another reason is that I hate it when I do something for someone and they stop communicating at the revision stage.
Whenever that happens to me, it hurts my business and stresses me out.
I’m the kind of person who follows the golden rule. I treat others the way that I want to be treated.
So I sat down with the book cover that I didn’t like and I tried to put into words why didn’t like it. The background was dark and murky, and you couldn’t see the trumpet player’s face. My book is all about making friends, connecting with others, and building a trusting audience.
The cover needs to have a fun and friendly appearance.
So I wrote an email to the designer, politely explaining what I didn’t like about the cover and what I was really looking for.

cover of Tooting Your Own Horn by Mandy Marksteiner

Because I hadn’t communicated that information properly in the first email. I had just given her the text with a “surprise me” attitude.
Now that we were in the revision stage I needed to give more specific directions so that we could get the job done without wasting her time or my money.
And a day later she sent me this version and it was EXACTLY what I wanted!
I loved it.
Two totally different book covers from the same designer. Rather than be rude, make her feel bad about herself, or fire her… I respected the time that she put into the project, had faith in her abilities, and used my communication skills to ask for what I wanted.

Tell your business story from the customer’s POV.

In a couple of days, you might find yourself sitting around the table, eating pie.

Your cousin or uncle or nephew will be next to you making small talk, and you mention work.

And a look of panic and confusion might sweep across their features… just before they ask, “What do you do, exactly?”
Happens to me all the time.

(But I have to admit it’s funnier when it happens to my husband… who always has to explain that plasma physicists don’t work with blood or TV’s.)

I’m sure it happens to you too.

And it’s not because your job is that hard to understand. It’s just that it can be hard for others keep track of what you do.

It’s up to you to make it memorable.

Earlier this year I wrote a case study that helped several people explain what they do for a living all at once.

Edj Ink (a printing and branding company run by Patrick and Lisa Brenner) hired me to write the case study.

They had done some branding work for the Supportive Housing Coalition, and I interviewed the people at SHC to find out how that re-branding job helped them explain how they help homeless people in Albuquerque. Take a look.

My Thanksgiving travel tragedy.

The sound was like nails on a chalkboard.


Metal on bare metal.

The worst part about it was that I knew my brakes were worn down to a stub.

And that was very bad news, considering that I was hoping to embark on a long car trip the next morning.
I pulled into the garage, Auto-Doc in Los Alamos, and told him that I was about to go to Minnesota and I wanted him to make sure my Kia was roadworthy.
Well, it wasn’t. It was a rolling deathtrap, a tumble off a cliff just waiting to happen.
My brakes were completely used up in the back.
The good news was that he could get the job done right then and there and have me on the road in a matter of hours.
The bad news was that I didn’t have the money right then and there.
Which got me thinking about the way that I run my business.
I recently had a couple projects go wrong, where I ended up losing money rather than making it.
I won’t go into details.
But I will say that if those things hadn’t happened the way they did, I would be able to get the brakes fixed and be on my merry Thanksgiving way.
It was upsetting, but rather than drown myself in ice cream and self-pity, I decided to take a look at what went wrong with these projects.
What can I do to make sure that I get paid fairly so that I can give each project the time and attention that it deserves?
What can I do to make sure that I get the information that I need from my clients at the beginning of the project to make sure that there are no surprises and that we both understand the purpose of each piece that I write?
What can I do to make sure that my clients understand the writing process and will commit to each step?
Judging from these last two bad experiences, I need to change the way that I bring in clients, hammer out the details of the proposals and explain the process of working with me.
I’ve changed my services page to reflect those changes. People who are interested in specific services can sign up for an appointment via Calendly. They will have to answer a few questions, and I will find out if they have questions, before we move forward with the appointment.
The pricing is more set in stone than before, and I’m slowing down the process so that I can spend more time on each individual project.
I think these changes will help me deliver higher quality work, and my customers will be happier with the results.

A web designer I recommend.

I’m excited to be collaborating on some website projects with Karim Ardalan, the co-founder of Rapid Sites.
I met Karim two years ago at a B2B Expo in Albuquerque. He helps small businesses create their website in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
The only problem with that is that a lot of companies aren’t sure what to say on their websites. Even though the websites that he puts together are ready to go very quickly, the projects often get held up because the content isn’t ready.
I’m glad he reached out to me to get those projects moving forward.
If anyone needs help creating an affordable website, I recommend Karim. His website is here!

The love couch

I don’t want to brag, but the minute I got home from Bootcamp everyone wanted to cuddle with me.

My dog was first in line, because he was the first to come thundering down the stairs at three in the morning ready to greet me with licks and affectionate doggy lean-ins.

Then came Quinn, ready to cuddle.

When Ella woke up she climbed into my bed and curled up next to me like a baby monkey. Gloria was there in the morning, ready for hugs.

Once we went downstairs Ella insisted that we go straight to the love couch (really our love seat). She considers the love couch a place where we hug and kiss each other.

The whole love-fest reminded me of a point that Perry Belcher

made in his presentation, “How to Put Yourself in the Shoes of Your Avatar, Write Copy That Speaks to them and Generates Sales.”

Now, before I tell you what he said, I will emphasize that Belcher knows exactly how to generates sales – He’s used this method to generate over $200 million in sales of goods and services.

The most important point is that you can sell more by understanding the psyche of buyers.

He pointed out that human beings actually have three brains in one. There’s the “human” brain, full of logic, facts, ideas, and concepts. Then there is the “mammalian” brain, full of feelings and emotions. Then there is the “reptilian” brain, which is all about eating and reproducing.

It’s very difficult to sell to someone up in their “human” brain… because people don’t buy based on logic. People want things that make them feel good on an emotional level. People buy things to get sex.

Part of writing good copy is to get past or around the logical part of the person’s mind and get to those other levels.

He made me laugh when he said, “Unfortunately, we can’t send people a bottle of booze to drink before they read our copy.”

No. Obviously, we can’t. (Can you imagine the shipping costs?)

But we can use our words to put people in a certain mood or state of mind. People react to emotion, nostalgia, and storytelling.

Which is what I do for people.

If your ad copy is only producing a sad trickle of sales, chances are you aren’t tapping into the customer’s emotions and buying triggers.

I can help. I will critique one piece of copy for three people for FREE. (Mostly to celebrate all the amazing advice and wisdom that was poured out on me this last week.)

To take advantage, reply to this email. I’ll give a free critique to the first three people who respond.

Talk to you soon!

P.S. I’m settling in after a crazy exciting week, catching up with my regular clients, finishing up projects and following up with new clients.

If you need anything from me, it’s up to you to make an appointment. Send me an email with the subject line “appointment” to [email protected].