Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan. More than a cliche’…

Time to Plan
Time to Plan

Well, here in the U.S. the July 4th holiday is over, and so is the first half of the year. That was fast! Way back at the end of December last year and the beginning of January this year, we were excited for the promises of a new start, new opportunities, and new goals! Now that the 2nd half of this year has started, it’s time to ask ourselves: How did we do? Where do we go from here?

Those are exactly the questions you and your team need to answer right now, today, before you get busy with the day-to-day operations and projects of your business. On the one hand, planning takes a lot of time, but on the other hand, proper planning actually saves time in the long run.

You have a choice for how you can manage your planning process: on paper in a paper planner, on a whiteboard, or digitally in an app or on your digital calendar. What is important is that you revisit and refocus your goals as needed, set achievable targets, and then make action plans to achieve each of your goals. What should your action plan include?

Key initiatives and actions that can actually be completed and directly relate to your goals. The operative word here is “key”. Remember you can’t do everything.

Your budget. You should be hard-nosed and realistic here, and your budget should consider the amount of both your money and your time that you can afford to commit. Both are finite.

Please, don’t ever be “too busy to plan”. Planning now will save you much time and money later, and the ROI (return on investment) will be worth it.

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Pamela Hilliard Owens is a former teacher, former college instructor, and former corporate and network sales leader and manager. Now a freelancer and business owner, Pam started her first company in 2008, Writing It Right For You (WIRFY), offering copywriting and editing services to individuals and businesses. After working with several authors, Pam and her husband and business partner started a second company in 2011, Detroit Ink Publishing DIP), to work with authors for ghostwriting, editing, and manuscript preparation. DIP is an independent publishing house that publishes books by Pam and Keith and also many for the authors they work with. In 2013, Pam added yet a third company, Your Business Your Brand Creatively, through which we offer branding and marketing services and online training specifically for creative professionals.

My team and I know that “It Matters How You Say It,” and I would love to talk you about how I can help you achieve your copywriting, editing, marketing, publishing goals. Please feel free to contact me via email: phowens@teamowens313online.com, or by filling out the form on the contact page for any one of the three companies.

Three Reasons to Blog for Your Business

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What is a business blog and why should you have one? The most important function of a blog is to serve as a platform for you and your business; a blog is a way for you to easily, quickly, and consistently tell your story to prospects and current clients or customers.

Whatever your creative or business endeavor, you can be sure that there are thousands or even tens of thousands of other people or businesses like yours. So how do you stand out from the crowd? Writing and publishing regularly on your own blog will help to get you noticed and established as an authority in your field.

1) Establish Relationships with Your Readers

Unlike most “push-type” ads that only allow for one-way communication from you to your prospects, a blog allows you to have a two-way communication venue to actual conversations between you, your prospects, and your customers or clients. Building actual relationships with people helps to build your brand and your reputation.

2) Bring Traffic to Your Website

Publishing regular posts on your blog is a fantastic way bring attention and traffic to your website. (You DO have a website, don’t you?) As you become more proficient in your blogging efforts, you’ll learn how to use relevant keywords for your niche or industry, learn to share on your social networks, and to link to other similar blogs for greater exposure.

Sharing your blog posts via social media is accomplished in two ways: 1) you share via your own social networks when you publish your post, and 2) your readers share your posts via their social media outlets. By ensuring that your blog posts are shared far and wide, you will increase your visibility and your authority.

3) Generate Leads for Your Business

Each of your blog posts should include a CTA (“Call To Action”) that encourages your readers to sign up for your email list, contact you for further information, or “Like” your Facebook Page. Your email list will be one of your most valuable items, so getting contact information for your prospects and customers or clients will be so much easier from a blog post that also gives your readers valuable and interesting information.

A blog for your business is different than the personal blogs that many people have for journaling or family and friends. Your business blog is an invaluable tool for growing your company. If you would like help in setting up your business blog on your business website, we would love to work with you! Contact us!

Three Reasons Why Brand Management Is Important

Branding Word Cloud

Your business is defined by its brand. The brand is how your clients or customers recognize your company, evaluate your service, and perceives your reputation. The loyalty and attachment to you and your company by your clients or customers are associated with the products and services you offer. By properly developing the marketing activities of your business, and by keeping control of the message of your brand, you will:

• Enhance the recognition of your company

• Differentiate your products and services from your competition

• Protect the reputation of your business

The recognition of your company’s brand is enhanced by the marketing and promotional activities that cause your clients and customers to think of you and your company first when they are ready to buy your products or invest in your services. The #1 way to maintain brand recognition is to be consistent with the photo and/or logo you use for all of your marketing materials, including your e-signature, your blog, your newsletter, your press releases, and all other forms of communication you use in your business.

Who or what is your direct competition? Every business has competition, and knowing who you are competing against can help you to grow your brand as well as your business. Knowledge about your competitors will not only help you to keep the customers you have, but it can also help you to improve the quality of your own products and services. One of the easiest ways to keep tabs on your competition is to set up Google alerts for your industry or business model. Remember to also set up a Google alert for your own company so that you can see what is being written about you.

When you work to protect and control the reputation of your brand, you have a two-pronged goal: 1) to ensure that your company promotes and maintains its “good name”, and 2) establishing continuous and positive online and offline visibility. Some branding techniques to put in place to monitor and improve your brand’s reputation include: Keeping your website updated so that it is listed near or at the top in search engines. Having a comprehensive and responsive social media marketing strategy, including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Developing an online community that encourages two-way communications between your company and your clients and prospects.

Managing your brand should be a strategic and foundational goal for you and your company. Your brand and the messages it gives to clients and prospects will determine whether they will become your loyal customer base and help you to grow your business.

The branding and marketing professionals at the Writing It Right For You Companies can help you to develop an effective branding program for our small business or solo practitioner company. Contact us for your free 15-minute consultation; together we can assist you in determining the branding goals and objectives for your brand.

Mise en place

Mise en place: Putting everything in place FIRST
Mise en place: Putting everything in place FIRST

Mise en place [FR mi zã ‘plas] is a phrase which means putting in place, and is primarily used in professional kitchens to refer to the practice of organizing all of the ingredients for a recipe or meal beforehand. If you have ever watched a cooking show on TV, you notice that the chef has everything needed already separated, chopped, measured, etc., and kept in little bowls within easy reach.

Mise en place is a very essential system for preplanning that can be adapted to your workday; it will greatly increase your productivity.

Think about what could happens the minute you arrive at your desk at the start of your day if you implemented mise en place:

  • Instead of starting your day checking your email, answering voice mails, or other activities that puts you in a reactive mode from the very start, start instead with a brief planning session with yourself.
  • Take an inventory of your entire day and put into place everything you need to accomplish your most important tasks and activities that day.
  • Make sure that your workspace is organized so that everything you need is within arm’s reach, and whatever you do NOT need is out of the way.
  • Make an actionable list where every task starts with a verb.
  • Do your most difficult tasks the first thing, and save the more menial tasks (the “clean up”) for later.

Try implementing a mise en place approach to your work day and your work space. Like chefs everywhere, you may find that you become more focused and more productive by starting each day by putting everything in place first.

Defamation: Libel or Slander?

Writing It Right For You - English Grammar Usage Tips

“Defamation” is the legal term for publishing disparaging information about a person in verbal or written form with the intent to damage the reputation of that person. Whether the defamation attempt is considered “libel” or “slander” depends on how the defamation attempt is published.

Libel is a defamatory remark that is published in writing, on the radio, or in audio or video form.

Slander is a defamatory remark that is published orally via a gesture or verbal communication that is not recorded.

The person who is the target of defamation by either libel or slander can file suit against the defamer by with court action to prove:

1) that a defamatory statement was made;

2) that the statement was published (as outlined above) to a 3rd party;

3) that the defamer knew or should have known that the statement was false;

4) that injury was caused to the target of the defamation.

Unlike the usual court cases where someone is “innocent until proven guilty”, in defamation court cases, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff or the person who is the subject of the defamatory publication.

That is why it is imperative for creative freelancers and other business owners who provide services to clients to ensure that they are protected with detailed and legally binding contracts and that they have complete documentation of any and all communications–just in case.

The person who intends to defame, even “casually”, should also be prepared to defend their claim as they can very easily be counter-sued by the original plaintiff.

 

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV. Please consult your own legal professional for detailed information on libel and slander.

 

 

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Scrivener is the #1 App for All of my Writing Projects

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I am a writer. I am an editor. I am a manuscript preparer and an eBook publisher. I am a social media marketing and branding consultant. For all of those roles that I manage for my three businesses, I do a lot of writing. I write on my MacBook Air from my home office and my MacBook Pro from my Midtown Detroit office. Away from my offices, I write my iPad2 and iPad Mini.

When I write short, often internal documents, I use Google Docs and Google Drive. Most of my clients send me documents in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, the global gold standard contained in the Microsoft Office Suite; I use those programs in Office for Mac 2011, which integrates (almost) perfectly with the PC/Windows version. Sometimes I use Pages, Keynote, and Numbers in the Apple iWorks Office Suite, mostly because the apps are fun to use (and now free in iOS). For now however, for the majority of my original writing and editing I do for myself and for my clients, I use Scrivener, the popular application designed especially for writers.

Scrivener is not a “word processor”, it is a writing tool. What is the difference? Scrivener was designed just for writers, who are, for the most part, right-brained “creatives”. Scrivener includes several features that allow writers to plan, organize, view, edit, and write in whatever structure they are most comfortable. Completed Scrivener projects can be exported in many formats, including for eBooks.

MacBook Pro Available in 15.4- and 17-inch dia...
MacBook Pro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I use Scrivener to write my blog posts, my articles, my eBooks and books, my courses, my marketing materials, and my podcast scripts.

In a future post of my “Apps I Use” series, I will give you a more complete narrative of the app and how I use it for my businesses, but right now I have several client projects to finish. All of them have been uploaded to my Scrivener account, which I can access on both of my MacBooks.

This is going to be fun. If you need the assistance of the professional writers and editors at Writing It Right For You, contact us and we’ll get right back to you!

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Etymology: “awkward”

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Etymology means “the study of word origins”.

“Awk” is an obsolete word meaning “turning the wrong way”. “Awkward” originally meant “in an awk direction”, just like forward means in a front (fore) direction and backward means in a back direction.

If the professionals at Writing It Right For You can help you to navigate awkward communications, fill out the “Contact Us” form, and we’ll be glad to be of assistance to you and your project!

I LOVE (and Need) All of My Gadgets

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Image credit: 123fr.com

 

Everyone who knows me also knows that I am a true “Gadget Girl”…I work with a desk full of computers, tablets, and smartphones. I use Mac OS, iOS, and Android (sorry, Windows and Blackberry, I quit you both a long time ago).

Today, I am editing the literature review for a dissertation proposal for one of my PhD student/clients. I LOVE (and NEED) to use three of my gadgets to speed up the process.

  • In the middle of my deskspace is my MacBook Air, on which I am using Word for Mac to do the actual editing.
  • On my left is my iPad2, where I am checking the list of references that I uploaded into my Dropbox account.
  • On my right is my Samsung Galaxy Note, with which I am checking the references on the Chrome browser.

I save time because I don’t have to switch back and forth between apps and tabs on my Air. I save paper and printer ink because I don’t have to print out lists or copies of documents. Everything is uploaded to the Cloud.

Now do you see why I LOVE (and NEED) all of my gadgets?

After I finish editing this literature review, I will be happy to assist you with the editing of your academic documents. Contact me right away so that I can put your project on my schedule. I look forward to putting my gadgets into service for you!

Prospect, Lead, or Opportunity?

It's A Deal!

 

Many freelancers and small business owners don’t think of themselves as “salespeople”, but unless your company is big enough to have a dedicated sales team, you are the “sales team”. The old adage: “Nothing happens until something is sold” is still true today. Before you can close the deal and sign the contract, you have to move people from prospects, to leads, to opportunities.

Ed Gandia, the co-author of The Wealthy Freelancer, and founder of the International Freelancers’ Academy, encourages solo practitioners and freelancers to understand the difference between the levels of people who may one day (hopefully soon) buy your products or services:

  • prospect: a person you have identified as a target for your marketing efforts and activities. This is your largest group of people; you should pre-set your criteria for prospects so that you are not just scattering your marketing to the wind or anyone  who is breathing.
  • lead: a prospect who has indicated a certain level of interest in your products or services. These are people who have signed up for your e-newsletter, or “Liked” your Facebook Page, or joined your LinkedIn Group, given approval to be on your blog post distribution list, or otherwise expressed interest in keeping abreast of you and your company.
  • opportunity: a lead who is ready to give you a chance to present your services, to discuss up potential project, or submit a formal quote for your products and services.

It is important that you develop a system to keep up with your prospects, leads, and especially with your opportunities. Once “opportunities” award you the project (and signs the contract!), then and only then do they  become clients and now “it’s a deal”! Congratulations!

If you are a freelancer or VSB (very small business), how do you manage your sales opportunities? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

Word Count is not the Only Project Pricing Factor

Pam at DeskWhen you are a business owner in a specific industry, you can increase your knowledge by reading and studying others in your chosen field. Laura Spencer is a freelance writer I follow regularly. Sometimes other writers say exactly what I have been saying.

 

 

 

August 27, 2012 | Laura Spencer | Comments 0

FAQ: 8 Factors that Cause Writing Projects to Cost More

Often writing clients want to know my rate–what do I charge for a specific type of project?

My usual answer is that I don’t have a rate, but that I would be happy to provide a customized proposal. I’ve learned over the years that the amount of effort that goes into writing projects varies greatly.

Many clients don’t understand the factors that cause a writing project to cost more money, so I’ve listed eight of those factors in this post.

 

Every project really is different. Even if two writing projects seem similar, they usually require a different amount of effort (and therefore have a different price).

8 Reasons Your Writing Project Costs More Money

In most cases, the longer it takes to work on a project, the more expensive the project is.

Here are eight factors that will cause a writer to spend more time on your project. If you include these factors in your writing project, it will cost you more money.

  1. Meetings. While I include an initial meeting in my project estimates, additional meetings generally add to the project cost. I do understand that sometimes it’s desirable to have a regular meeting on long-term projects, but project meetings can also take a lot of time. To save money, make sure that the information presented in the meeting is really relevant to the writing task. A meeting where lots of contractors give their status on unrelated projects can be a waste of time.
  2. Extensive Research. If the topic of the writing project is common knowledge, then the piece can be produced much more quickly. However, if the topic requires research then the writing piece will take more time. In general the more obscure the topic is and the harder it is to find information about it, the more time the project will take to complete and the more money it will cost.
  3. Revisions. Like any writer, I’m happy to correct mistakes if they occur. However, I limit the number of revisions that are included with each project. Of course, additional revisions are available at an extra charge. To keep revision costs under control, be as specific as you can about what you want up front. Too many clients take a trial and error approach to writing–they don’t know what they want, but they’ll know it when they see it. This approach can be very costly to the client.
  4. Levels of Approval. In general, the more levels of approval a project requires, the more the project costs. For example, a project that requires me to write a weekly column on a money-saving tip of my choice would be less expensive than a project that requires me to write a weekly column on a money-saving tip when the topic must first be approved by the client and an outline must be submitted in advance.
  5. Interviews. Interviews can be a great way to spice up an article or blog post. But getting an interview takes additional time, even if the project only needs a few quotes. Not only does the writer need to schedule a time to get with the interview subject, they also need to learn about the interview subject so that they can ask relevant questions. Then, after all of that is completed, they can write the piece.
  6. Images. I highly recommend that all writing that will be published online include an image. However, finding an appropriate image takes time or costs money (or both). As a writer, I either need to purchase an appropriate image from a stock photo site or I need to find an image with a license (such as Creative Commons) that allows it to be shared. If you publish a lot of pieces online, you may be able purchase stock images for less than an individual writer could.
  7. Non-writing Tasks. In most cases, I am happy to include non-writing services along with my writing services. Such services typically include managing other writers, managing a writing project, checking the work of other writers, or promoting the publication online. However, such tasks take time and typically involve an additional charge.
  8. Rush Work. Work that requires an extremely fast turnaround typically costs more. Not only does doing such work mean that I will be working on the project during what would normally be my leisure time, rush projects typically require extra care to avoid miscommunication. My preference is to avoid rush work whenever possible, but I do understand that sometimes it is necessary.

Naturally, I’m happy to provide any or all of these factors when a client needs them. However, many clients don’t realize that these factors add to the cost of a writing project.

Of course these are just eight factors that can cause a writing project to cost more. Can you think of others?

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About the Author: I am a successful freelance writer with 20 years of copy writing experience. I am available for consulting, business writing, copy writing, editing, technical writing, and web content writing. In addition, I have written an ebook, How To Start A Freelance Writing Business, to help new writers. Find me on Google+.

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discreet or discrete–which is correct?

QuestioningHomophones are pairs of words that sound alike but have different spellings and different meanings. Discreet is an adjective that means showing reserve or respect with one’s behavior or speech. The noun “discretion” is derived from “discreet”. Discrete is also an adjective, but it means something distinct, separate, or unrelated. Example: The child gave ten discrete reasons for his actions.

Which homophones are confusing to you? Let us know in the comments section.

If you need assistance with homophones or any other writing, editing, or grammar challenges, feel free to contact the English professionals at Writing It Right For You. We’ll be glad to help you!

 

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The Importance of Monthly Business Planning–What I Use

It is the first day of the month, which is the best time for you to take a few hours and make your plans for your business for the upcoming month. It is said that you cannot hit your target if you don’t know what your target is!

Do you know:

* How well did you achieve your goals last month?

* What do you have to change, revise, re-configure so that you will achieve your goals this month?

* What ARE your goals this month?

The time that you take to PLAN NOW, will definitely pay off tomorrow, next week, and next month.

Those of you who follow me and Writing It Right For You know that I LOVE gadgets and apps, but sometimes, some good old-school paper and pen make the best planning tools. I use the productivity planners from Charlie Gilkey, a small business productivity specialist. On his website, Productivity Flourishing, there is a whole suite of paper planners that you can print out for free! There is also a premium planner set that you can purchase–that is the set I use. Every month, I print out my planners and take a few hours to plan out my month. Thanks, Charlie!

 

 

 

 

Do you take the time to regularly plan for your business success? Do you have any favorite tools (digital or paper) that you prefer? Let us know in the comments section!

 

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Navigating the Social Media Maze

This clever graphic is making the rounds on the Internet, but lurking behind the joke is the reality that the world of online social media is a confusing jumble. Whether you’re trying to build your brand as an individual or a business, understanding the different social networking sites can help you navigate the maze effectively.

The central marketing problem facing all my clients is this: they are so busy doing the actual work of operating their business that they lack the time, energy and focus to think about how best to communicate what they’re doing to the world.

As an online marketing consultant, I take the time to get to know each of my clients and understand what it is they do, what differentiates them from their competitors, and who are the prospective customers they are seeking to attract. Only then do I begin to map out an online marketing strategy, because one size definitely does not fit all.

My clients don’t have to concern themselves with maintaining a website and posting updates to Facebook or Twitter, nor do they need to worry about pageviews, clickthroughs and the other metrics by which online exposure is measured. They can count on me to communicate an authentic story of their unique strengths, and deliver it to the right online outlets at the right time to reach the right audience.

If you’d like to learn more about how Writing It Right For You can manage your online presence to grow your business, contact us today for a consultation!