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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

A Writer's Life is a Long OneAs a freelance editor and writer, you may think your job is to make articles and posts look pretty, read clearly and be error-free; however, there is one element that most newbies in the field don’t think about as much as they should, and that is meeting the exact needs of the client.

In fact, you should aim to go above and beyond their expectations. If you would like to have clients who can’t stop talking about you and your work, here are a few tips for clearer, more effective client communication:

  • Be available to talk often. Thanks to programs like Skype, Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger, it’s easy to keep in contact with clients. Features like voice chat and screen sharing can be valuable communication and collaboration tools.
  • Keep your client in the know. Many freelancers fail to check in with clients on a regular basis. Just send a message or email at the end of your workday with a quick outline of what you completed. Your clients will be certain to appreciate the gesture.
  • Ask a lot of questions. Instead of assuming you know what your client wants, don’t hesitate to contact them if you have a question. It’s better to take the time to ask about something, rather than submit work that is way off base. This means wasting way too much time, effort and money on a revision.
  • Learn to love deadlines. If you don’t follow any other tip here, make note of this: Your deadline is your mother lode. If you don’t respect deadlines, you will not make it as a freelancer. Clients count on getting your work on time, so submit it on time, even if you have to burn the midnight oil. They have schedules, too. Make sure you know all of your deadlines using a double-blind system: Google calendar for online and an old-fashioned paper calendar for offline.
  • Be honest. If you know you can’t make a deadline, say so. The best time to extend a deadline is when you get the assignment, so your client knows it will take a bit more time from the get-go. If you make a mistake, admit it. Tell your client you will make note of it and be sure to take action, so it will not occur again.
  • Be flexible. If a client has an emergency edit, do it. If there’s a push to get out a certain number of articles for an upcoming project, make an extra effort. In addition, you may be a stickler for active voice, but if your client prefers passive, bite the bullet and write the article the way they want it, not the way you want it.

Understanding your clients and what they want from you will make you both happy, so listen to instructions carefully. Dissect them and create a bullet list to make it easier to understand key elements. Use your eagle eyes to examine every point of assignments and projects.

Your end goal is to have a client who walks away from the project feeling more than just satisfied. You want them to be so thrilled with your work, they can’t wait to recommend your services to others. Word of mouth is your most powerful marketing tool. By being extra mindful of what clients want from you, you’ll be able to deliver exactly what they expect – and even more.

 

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ImageWe use memos every day, sometimes scribbled on sticky notes and other times sent as a formal email or document to coworkers, clients or bosses. But whatever the reason, it’s important to know how to format and write a memo so the person receiving it understands exactly what you’re trying to say and then knows what they need to do in response. And like most types of writing, memos should be brief, easy to read and convey your message concisely.

 Make It Look Pretty

  • Use single line spaces.
  • Justify to the left margin.
  • Distinguish small blocks of text with line spaces, rather than indenting the first line of each paragraph.
  • Use clear, concise, direct language.
  • Outline main points with headings and bullet or numbered lists.

Make Headings and Lists Do All the Work

  • Make headings specific. Example: “Vacation Policy Recommendations,” rather than simply “Recommendations” or “Vacation.”
  • Restrict lists to a just few phrases or brief statements.

Start with Section One

The first section, the header, should the following items:

  • “To” field with recipients’ names and job titles
  • “From” field with the sender’s name and job title
  • The full date
  • A short, but specific subject line

Use Your First Paragraph to Clarify

Introduce the purpose of the memo in the first paragraph by describing the following:

  • Explain Yourself – Let recipients know the reasons you are sending a memo.
  • What You Expect – Tell the recipients what they need to do next. For example, items they should bring to the next meeting.
  • Add More Paragraphs – Expand on the context briefly, adding just the facts to keep it clear and concise.

Tie It All Together

  • Create a Call to Action – Close with a comment about any follow-up actions requested, such as asking for recommendations or responses. Add information about a meeting or other upcoming event.
  • Sum It Up – Tie up any loose ends by summarizing the main point of the memo and then add a salutation and your closing signature. Example: Regards, Barb Wright.

As you can see, it’s not difficult to compose a memo. Knowing how to write an effective memo improves communication, productivity and your overall success. However, be careful not to go overboard by sending them constantly, or by writing long memos that take forever to read. Keep memos short and sweet – and provide a clear call to action at the end. Used correctly, memos can keep everyone in the loop and working together in harmony.

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You know you are a talented and prolific writer, and you most likely have the spelling, composition and grammar skills to prove it. Maybe you also have the experience and education, as well. Most writers started as creative writers, so it’s quite possible your dream is to write a screenplay, novel or nonfiction book. But, as we all know, right now there are bills to pay. Here are ten ways that I’ve found for you to make the rent money while you work on your future bestseller:

  1. Journalism – The field of journalism offers variety, because you can choose any of your favorite hobbies or interests, and write about them while earning a reasonable salary. You also have a myriad of venues to submit your writing, including printed media, such as newspapers, magazines and trade journals; or broadcast media, such as television, radio and the Internet. The most important components of writing good news copy are accuracy and timeliness. You must get all of the pertinent details right and submit the story while the topic is fresh. You also need to find your niche. Do you love sports, fashion or travel? The best part about journalism is the ability to write about things you care about, which leads to great copy, because you’ll reflect your passion for the subject in your work, making it stand out above the rest.
  2. Technical Copy – If you are one of those people who are technical-minded, technical copy writing is the choice for you. This type of writing requires the ability to read technical specifications and engineering documents, and then understand them well enough to break them down into simpler language for the average reader. This field includes creating user manuals, technical specifications and company documents, such as equipment lists, for both traditional print and for the web. A strong background in engineering, drafting and mechanics will prove beneficial in this specialized field of writing.
  3. Scientific, Legal and Medical Research – You need a specialized academic background for this type of writing, such as law, research science, biology, chemistry and legal and medical terminology. However, there is a high demand for people who can write about medical products, scientific breakthroughs, new medications, legal issues and the latest regulations. There is also need for people who can write scientific research reports, as well as grant proposals for scientific research studies.
  4. Marketing and Advertising – There will always be a need for talented marketing writers. You can earn a steady income if you can write effective marketing and advertising copy. Copy writing offers variety, from writing product descriptions for catalogs to producing web content. Having a working knowledge of search engine marketing and optimization skills is a plus in this field.
  5. Public Relations – The ability to write and submit press releases and other copy to promote businesses and groups in the media is a great way to earn a living by writing. You will need a basic understanding of Associated Press style guidelines and press release format, but once you prove your worth, people will seek your services on a regular basis.
  6. Biographies and Ghost Writing – Writers can help people document the lives of loved ones, whether they are well-known or not. A new market has opened up with the introduction of one of the newest types of publications, the memory book, which contains both text and photos, to honor those who have passed. In addition, there is a great need for ghost writers to document the lives of famous people, who are either too busy to do it themselves, or simply lack the writing skills. Ghost writers also assist people write about other subjects, like an exciting adventure, unbelievable tragedy or historical event. The venues change with the times, for example, with the advent of the tablet (iPad, Kindle, Android and others), eBooks and Kindle publications provide yet another platform for writer to offer their writings.
  7. Newsletters – Many companies, clubs and groups publish a newsletter, either with traditional printed media or electronically, and need writers to provide content or edit the finished product before it’s released. Although most newsletters have a specific focus, they are a good way to get your feet wet before you advance to media with a larger audience, such as newspapers and magazines. Newsletters, published on a regular basis, are a good way to earn a steady income, too.
  8. Blogging – People blog for many reasons, however, blogging has quickly become an effective search engine marketing and optimization tool. E-commerce websites use blogs to attract new visitors to their websites, as well as to keep current users returning to read new content, with the hope that they will become regular customers or clients. Most people consider blogging to be an informal way of writing. However, in order for your reader to consider your blog informative and authoritative, excellent grammar, composition and spelling skills are a necessity. Good writers can earn a regular income with blogging.
  9. Poetry and Prose – Are you a master with words? Greeting card companies, magazines, newspapers, websites and gift manufacturers are always on the look out for people who can write short poetry, funny sayings or entertaining prose. With so many holidays and occasions, the greeting card industry is a booming business. People will always need cards with funny, sweet or serious poetry and prose.
  10. Social Media – Many businesses use social media to engage their customers, which increases their revenue, but they often don’t have the time to keep them updated. Many writers provide this service, posting for companies at websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, for example.

I prefer to work a variety of writing jobs at one time. You could pick and choose from this list, so that you won’t get bored. If you become skilled at any of the above ten types of writing, you can make a decent living and still have time to work on your dream piece of literature, poetry or prose.

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