3 ways to make sure the algorithm is working for you and not against you

It’s not the writing that you need to be worried about. It’s the algorithm. The algorithm is killing a lot of great content. It’s supporting a lot of great content, too. But you need to know how it works to make sure it draws the right people to you and doesn’t keep anyone away who should be reading.

I used to think that content was king. And it could be when the algorithm is on your side, but it can also work against you and kill your time investment dead. If the algorithm works against you, it can kill your…

Two simple rules we can all follow

If to think well is to write well, it will come as no surprise that a Supreme Court Justice is masterful at writing. The role of Judge is to persuade with a clear and convincing argument.

What may come as a surprise is to hear a Supreme Court Judge explain writing in terms of singing.

Coming to terms with the immense impact of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life after her recent death, I stumbled upon a lovely post by someone who had worked with her as a Supreme Court law clerk. …

Keep your bad vibes out of my cornflakes

After the third consecutive call, I started to lose it.

My calendar schedule had phone meetings back to back. I wanted it all done in one block: I can’t even pretend I like meetings anymore. It’s even worse when work chat is mixed in with bedroom chat. There is less privacy than ever in our one-bedroom flat.

Zoom calls have become as excruciating to me as hearing my voice recorded. Or I see myself on film. It’s a voice dysmorphia if there is such a thing. I’d much rather have a well-crafted email. Even better, a clear text.

I’ve never…

Keep your cool on the return to the office

“Sorry, I’m very busy at the moment.”

“I’m completely swamped here with work!”

“I’m so so so busy!”

There’s one in every company. You know them. The busy one. They wave goodbye without lifting their heads from their screens. They're still there at their desk in a halo of light when the late-night cleaners arrive. They send out urgent emails when others are at home having dinner.

During the day, you’ll find them in the office kitchen cleaning up cups, or even mopping the floor. What do they say, when you ask them for the information you needed yesterday? …

The overwhelm stops here

A man looks up at a glowing Instagram “heart” symbol.
A man looks up at a glowing Instagram “heart” symbol.

A few years ago, I started to feel resentful about social media. I did not always want to be scared of the algorithm, guilty if I did not post on social media daily, and constantly (obsessively?) checking likes.

When I got out of bed in the morning, I was overwhelmed by thoughts of managing several accounts at the same time. The truth is I no longer enjoyed connecting with others.

Over the years, I developed a system to shift from being a social media martyr (being all things to all people) and learning how to manage multiple accounts without burning…

The tennis strategies used by tennis champions can work for you, too

As someone obsessed with tennis, I could not help but eavesdrop on a conversation at my local coffee shop.

“Between Federer and Djokovic,” the guy asked his friend, “Who has style and who has substance?”

Well, Federer for style. Also, substance. Then again, Djokovic is a powerhouse and never seems to miss.

I went back to my desk at home and opened up a client’s creative brief, and thought about it some more: What if you could talk about freelancing as you can about tennis?

When I compared the two — freelance writing and tennis — I came to an…

Feeling socially anxious? You are not alone.

It’s Wednesday, 5.30pm. The new normal hour for cold outdoor bookings at hot restaurants. The Front of House stops me at the door to give the new post-lockdown procedure.

“This is how it works: You take a photo of the menu. And please wear your mask around the restaurant.”

Oh, how I’ve missed this: The hospitality voice with a sing-song efficiency and a tinge of boredom.

I’m back at an actual restaurant for the first time in 13 months. I am here to see friends and work colleagues I have not seen in years. And it’s been a strict quarantine…

Why you need a notebook for better days ahead

When I was sorting out my bookshelf, a scrap of paper fell out from one of my old textbooks. It was a note on a psychological study I read some years ago. The study depicted two types of people.

Man A was a well-dressed man surrounded by telephones, secretaries, paperwork, and the bustle of people while sitting at an enormous desk. While Man B was a well-dressed man sitting alone in a village cafe with a newspaper, a coffee, and a cigarette.

Virtually all Americans judged man A to be the success. Nearly all Italians, man B.

Whenever I am…

Most people fail because they give up far too early

In 1983, a thirteen-year-old Dave Grohl snuck into a small bar in Chicago with his elder brother. On stage he saw four punks thrashing fast three-chord music on guitars. About 75 people moshed and crawled all over each other in the audience.

And this changed his life.

By the time he was 14, he says, “All I wanted to do was leave school, jump in a van and tour shitty basement clubs with my punk band.”

He began arranging pillows on his floor. …

In a global crisis or not, don’t make these mistakes

Woman sitting in a shopping cart
Woman sitting in a shopping cart

Your usual email scheduling may not be keeping up with the pace of the changes in the world out there. In a global crisis, you might find your emails to customers go clunk.

(That’s the sound of your email stats falling off a cliff.)

But what’s happening? Let’s start with the state of your current email list today. Here’s a snapshot of possible customers:

  • Customers preparing to start up their business again
  • Customers that have gone out of business
  • High levels of personal and financial trauma
  • Only high levels of general inconvenience
  • No savings left
  • More savings than ever


J.R. Flaherty

Writes non-fiction, writes to live. Unequivocal on: Essentialism, Creativity, Travel, Balance & Imperfection. Better Marketing. Startup. CYMCYL @FlahertyWrites

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