Tuesday, December 28, 2004

marketing in 2005

As 2004 wraps up, we're all busy planning for the new year. This includes outlining our marketing plans for 2005. (I'm actually taking a break from this very task to type this entry.)

I just received my weekly ezine from Debbie Weil, president and publisher of Wordbiz.com. Her latest article discusses online marketing techniques (read it) and how email and ezines are still going strong. Blogs are excellent means of communication, too---and they're definitely complimented by email and ezines/newsletters, not overshadowed, despite what some folks seem to think. Together, this trio of online marketing tactics can do wonders for your business, including keeping your name in front of your contacts, helping spread your knowledge and in turn boost your credibility, etc.

I'm preparing to send out the first issue of WriteTips (my ezine) for 2005 later this week. If you haven't signed up yet, you can do so now! It's free, and you'll score all sorts of tips to help improve your writing. If you want to see what WriteTips is all about before signing up, you can view archives from 2004 here.

By the way, my newly redesigned website is just about ready. I hope to have it go live by Jan. 1.

Happy new year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

happy holidays!

There isn't a whole lot going on this week thanks to the hustle and bustle of the upcoming holiday. Shopping and baking have sort of gotten in the way over the past few days, but that's ok...I finished up a couple of big projects last week, so the break is nice. I've made a point to continue working on the revision of my website, however, and I hope to launch it by Jan 1. This revision is part of my plan to streamline my promotional materials. I've got a great new logo, thanks to Rebecca Richardson. It needs to become part of the website, though, and that's a big reason for the overhaul.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

On fairness to clients

What I love about being a writer is the diversity my job brings. No two days are the same, and no two projects are alike.

For example, this week I put the finishing touches on a media kit for a client, attended a BNI networking function (and attended a holiday party for this group...'tis the season!), revised a brochure/flyer package for my local Chamber of Commerce, and met with a potential client about writing web copy. I also finished an editing project...let me share with you this experience.

Over the summer a fellow showed up at my door. Keep in mind that I work from home and don't typically see clients at my home office. I try to meet with them at their place of business or in neutral territory, such as the local coffee shop. So it was a bit strange to see someone on my doorstep, waving a piece of paper with my address scribbled on it and claiming the library had given him my name as a typist. He was writing a novel--longhand--and needed someone to type it for him.

I politely explained that I don't offer those sorts of services. I pulled out the Yellow Pages and gave him information for two typing services, as well as the local university's English department. An undergrad would be happy to earn some beer money, and a grad student would probably love to have the opportunity to eat well for a few days.

He was satisfied and thanked me, and he left. I did not hear from him again until he showed up again on my doorstep two weeks ago. This time he had the typed manuscript in hand and wanted me to proofread it.

Now, I don't promote my services to individuals, really. I try to work with businesses, mainly, for several reasons. But this fellow was insistent that I had to do this for him.

I had a couple of projects scheuled to be wrapped up that week, and of course Christmas is coming and I hadn't (and still haven't!) started my shopping, so I figured why not, in a few days I'll have the time and could put the payment towards something nice for my husband.

I took his manuscript. I reviewed it and called him the next day to let him know it would take about 5 hours (it was just about 75 pages) to proofread. We met again (at the coffee shop this time), signed a contract, I collected my deposit, and began the work.

This project--which I thought I had reviewed thoroughly enough to quote an accurate, fair rate--ended up taking 12 hours. I was, thankfully provided with an electronic copy (which saved time as I could make changes directly rather than scrawling notes on paper), but English was the author's second language and there were lots of changes to be made regarding basic sentence structure. The project took more than twice as long as I expected.

But I will not charge him more. The error was mine. I should have been more thorough in the review of his book. I will eat the additional 7 hours of work. (Yikes.)

Maybe it's because this is the season for giving that I'm being accommodating. But I don't think so. While other situations may have warranted a discussion about boosting my fees, this isn't a business with a big marketing budget. It's just a guy with a dream--to publish a piece he's worked very hard on for some time. He even hand-wrote it, for Pete's sake!

In the end, it's all about fairness to clients. Well, it's about making a living, too, of course. But fairness is what will earn you a decent reputation. It's what'll bring clients back for more. Deliver what you promise, when you promise it. That's not to say there isn't room for negotiation, but every situation is different and this fact should be recognized.

There isn't enough fairness in the world as it is. Anything I can do--personally or professionally--to help the ratings in this department is worth it.

Just don't ask me to type your manuscript for you.

And if you request an estimate on a project, please don't be surprised if I quote a range of the dollar amount next time!

Happy holidays!

Monday, December 06, 2004

Website update

I've updated the "What's New" section of my website...please visit if you're interested in seeing how a freelance writer manages to keep busy!

Also, I received a very nice testimonial from a Diane Ruch, a local realtor for whom I wrote a holiday greeting letter. She included the letter with a free calendar to clients on her contact list. In her own words:

"Cassie, thank you so much for the perfectly written letter! It was the exact message I wanted to send along with my business calendars. Thank you also for convincing me that it's ALWAYS a good time to ask for a referral; even when I send a gift. What would have taken me weeks (and I still wouldn't have been satisfied) only took you a short time. I see why you chose this career, you are terrific!"

Thanks, Diane. That's super nice of you!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

WriteTips December issue

The final issue of 2004 WriteTips ezine was sent this morning. This month we're talking about ways to make sure your business web site is functioning at its best. A well-planned, well-written website is the ticket to getting potential customers' attention...how does yours measure up?

I'll file this issue in the archives next week. If you haven't subscribed to WriteTips yet, why not get on board? It won't cost you a thing!