8x NATJA prize winner; #TBINchat host; pericarditis patient. Found on: Newsweek, Cruise Critic, MSN Travel. Writer’s Toolkit https://melindacrow.substack.com/

Writer’s Toolkit

Out of all the press releases in my inbox, there’s only one I share. Want to know why?

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As a veteran travel writer, my inbox overflows with pitches and press releases. I’m not a customer, so these companies aren’t trying to sell me a product. What they want from me is my voice.

Care to guess how many of those emails I even bother to open in an average week? Three-ish. Want to know which one actually gets the use of my voice week after week after week, even in the midst of a pandemic? Of course, you do, you already read the first two paragraphs looking for the answer.

The public relations team for Seabourn Cruise Line, “the ultra-luxury resort at sea,” has my voice locked up so tight I feel guilty if I miss a week. I’m willing to share why I post for them because I think we can all learn from their marketing expertise. …


Is it possible that the platform of the future might actually be *gasp* useful?

A small community of people gathering around a fire outside of a wagon
A small community of people gathering around a fire outside of a wagon

Jared A. Brock’s popular story extolling Facebook’s demise presents a believable, well-documented case for the social media giant’s terminal condition. He almost had me convinced.

He’s right about those under the age of 18. They aren’t scrolling or even trolling. Half of the millennials bailed on Facebook for social purposes years ago. Gen X and the Boomers are still there. But as Jared surmised, 2021 will see millions exit the newsfeeds, where people spent 2020 in fierce word battles with strangers over their far left or right views.

What he’s missing is that it may only be the newsfeed these people are shunning. They may stay for the groups and possibly for business pages, their own as well as those of local businesses. …


Have you given any thought to starting an Amazon side hustle?

Tomorrow, in Better Marketing, I’ve got a story you’ll want to read if the thought has ever crossed your mind. It’s actually the first in a series of Amazon selling stories I’ve got in the pipeline. My husband and I have been relying on it for a steady stream of income for more than a decade, so I’ve got a few ideas about how to make it work for you as well.

Plus, every side hustle needs to know how to best use today’s Facebook for promotion. Today’s Facebook piece in Better Marketing is ALSO part of a series.

Be sure to follow me so you catch all the good stuff I’ve got coming.


Here’s another hat-trick writing plan for you:

Step1: Read someone else’s story. Whether you agree or disagree, write out your opinion on THEIR topic. Be sure to tag them and provide a link to their article.

Step 2: Write another story with a more in-depth look at the overall subject, complete with documenting sources. Include a link to your opinion piece.

Step 3: After publishing your in-depth look, backlink it to your original opinion piece.

Step 4: Write a short-form how-to or how-this-affects you post for your readers with links to all three stories.


Jared A. Brock recently wrote about the death of Facebook.

I had a strange moment last week that helped me realize that Facebook — the social media platform I’ve used for more than a decade — is about to go extinct. And, like the dodo bird and carrier pigeon, it probably doesn’t see it coming.

He almost had me convinced. Read it and see what you think, then hang tight for my rebuttal published by Better Marketing tomorrow.


In case you missed my weekly series on The Writing Cooperative

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It’s hard to believe that week number six is here. I have been having so much fun working on this ongoing series for The Writing Cooperative. The goal is to help you explore specific tools — whether they are books, websites, apps, or language itself, not just from a review perspective, but to decide how to put them to work.

Here’s what we’ve covered so far.

Week 1:

We kicked off the series with a subject we all fret over —when, where, and how often should we use the pronoun I? …


Writer’s Toolkit

Building on the traditional power of 3's

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Strange as it sounds from someone who grew up in the Panhandle of Texas, I was a child hockey fan. It may have only been minor leagues, but all that action on the ice was fascinating. Plus, having a hockey team in town meant there were opportunities to ice skate — something practically unheard of in most of Texas in the early seventies.

I remember seeing my first hat trick and will never forget the excitement it generated in both the audience and the team. For the hockey uninitiated, a hat trick is when one player scores three goals in the same game. …


Writer’s Toolkit

And do you really have to analyze every damn one?

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The obvious answer is there’s no one making you check anything you write. If your name is Chrissy Teigan (who recently used the one-word headline, Hi. here on Medium), you can use whatever lands on the top line of your story. We’ll read it and love her for it. But since only one of us fits that category, let’s pause to say “hi” back to Chrissy, then move forward in our work of being better writers.

Self analyze first

Headline tools are great, but they don’t know what’s included in your post. Only you know what’s in there, so that’s your starting line. If you wrote the headline before the post, backtrack to ensure you stayed on point. …


And, yes, I know we aren’t supposed to worry about curation anymore

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But here’s the deal. Writers who make their living putting words on a page (and those who plan to) should worry about who is reading their work. Everything we write professionally needs to target a specific audience, otherwise, we’re simply journaling.

Not only should we target that audience before our fingers strike the keys, we absolutely must analyze how well our work performed with that audience.

The purpose of this story is not to be one of those curation humblebraggers, but to break down the process of effectively writing for specific audiences — in this case, four diverse audiences.

Here’s the completed story. You may need to refer to it as we analyze it. …


And why it may help us earn more money

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Admit it, you loved playing the game. Who in your Facebook group got curated today? Was their story better than yours that didn’t make the cut? Some of us love competition. Maybe a little too much.

And that’s probably one reason Medium took away our toys (or at least hid them at the back of the closet.) But I suspect it’s not the biggest reason. Follow my thinking and decide for yourself.

Curation means we’re playing for their audience

The harder we worked at pleasing the curation gods, the less we focused on our audience. Curation means we are handed a slice of Medium’s pie. They built the topics homepages, they built the app and the personalized homepages. …

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