I got a telephone call today at the office from the wife of a certified public accountant. She was pitching me on a story that her husband had just written about the benefits of creating an LLC versus an S-Corp. I listened politely, then told her why I couldn’t run her husband’s obviously wonderful story.
I can’t tell you the number of times I get pitches that we would never publish—not because it’s a bad idea but because it just doesn’t fit in the pattern we have already created.
The magazine I edit is a regional publication that has a pretty narrow focus. We only publish stories that fall within our already established sections. I can’t tell you the number of times I get pitches that we would never publish—not because it’s a bad idea but because it just doesn’t fit in the pattern we have already created.
I often get advance copies of novels and CDs from publishers, authors, and musicians, asking us to please consider reviewing them in our magazine. We have never, in the six years we have been in print, reviewed a book or CD. Never. Yet I keep getting these lovely gifts in the mail on a monthly basis. And I always feel badly—these publishers and public relations people are clearly wasting money on sending me stuff.
In the case of this lovely woman who called me on the phone, I explained to her that we currently don’t have a place in the magazine where such a feature would appear and that we decide upon our editorial calendar 8 months to a year in advance. She proceeded to tell me how it would be a benefit to our readers. I didn’t argue that point—it very well might—but I can’t reinvent the wheel. I suggested that she contact the local daily and weekly newspaper, as they have much more flexibility to publish articles than I do.
Our company also does not accept unsolicited manuscripts—but I didn’t feel like I needed to get into that with her. She was clearly not used to pitching story ideas to the media.
What I wanted to tell her was that if she was going to pitch people her husband’s already-written story, to take a look at some back issues of said publications to see if it’s a good fit or not. If she had looked at ours, she would have seen that we don’t publish stories of that nature. I also wanted to tell her to not introduce herself as the wife of the CPA who wrote this wonderful article that I should publish in our magazine. It’s unprofessional—and of COURSE she thinks it’s a great article…her husband wrote it! Continue Reading
School is coming to an end for another year, and many students will be participating in internships for the summer. An internship can be a real win-win situation—the hirer (you) gets low cost or even free help while the intern gains valuable work experience.
I did a number of internships in my college days. I’ve also managed interns in my professional days. When I worked for a small, post production company in Boston, we had an intern in our office every day of the week. They helped us with tasks such as blacking out tapes, burning DVDs and videotapes for our clients, assisted in shooting projects, and brought a great, young energy into the office.
What did they get out of it? They got to use state-of-the-art professional shooting and editing equipment for free. Many of these students couldn’t even get their hands on stuff this awesome at their colleges. Plus, they were encouraged to create their own projects when the equipment was free, which happened often since we were such a small shop.
In graduate school I was an intern at both PRWeek and Inc.com—two business publications where I learned a tremendous amount. The best part of going to grad school was that it allowed me to take advantage of some stellar internship opportunities.
I know I have been lucky, especially when I read about interns who are worked to the bone and aren’t learning much. This recent article in The New York Times shares some horror stories.
Many students who are graduating are having a tough time finding work, and thus are turning to unpaid internships in the hopes it will help their resumes. Many are finding that the internships aren’t all they’re cracked up to be—that they’re working 12 hour days doing menial tasks like grabbing lunch and cleaning, which, if the internship is unpaid, is actually against the law. Continue Reading
I’ve got a lot going on in my life right now. I’m on deadline for our biggest magazine issue of the year, grades are due for the college class I teach, I’m in two weddings this summer, my husband is interviewing for a new job, we may have to move for husband’s new job, and we’re expecting our first child at the end of July. Oh, and my house is a mess, my lawn needs to be mowed, and I don’t have a free weekend off until the baby arrives.
Does your life sound anything like mine? I bet, for many of you, it does.
Summertime is supposed to be fun, leisurely, carefree. But every time I flip the calendar page on May, my life turns to chaos. There is so much going on during the warm summer months that it’s hard to do it all. And even when you do say no, it’s easy to get stressed out. And boy, am I stressed out right now!
Stress in vast quantities and for long periods of time is not good for our bodies or our minds. That’s why, even though I have so much stuff to do, I’m taking a week off in June for vacation. I have to. If I don’t, I know myself—I’ll get sick.
But what do you do when you can’t take a vacation right away and a day at the spa is just too expensive? Here are some tips on how to relax to keep yourself on track and on task: Continue Reading
Is one (or more) of your competitors copying your idea? Congratulations! You are not alone.
As the co-owner of a niche publication, I look at copying as the best form of flattery—I have to! If I spent hours upon hours stressing out about having my ideas copied, I’d go crazy. I’d probably throw in the towel. But I don’t.
You will never create a solid career for yourself by worrying about who is stealing your ideas. —cbsnews.com
I watched this great video on how to deal with copycats on Entrepreneur.com. It’s not long—not even three minutes—but there were some great takeaways.
The first thing to realize is that no matter what it is that you do—be it a publisher, software designer, or a marketing professional—you have to come to terms with the fact that you do not own the market. There are hundreds, nay, thousands, of people out there in the world who do what you do. There are very few unique ideas—and when there is one, copycats are right around the corner.
So what do you do? Ignore them, unless you have a ton of money to shell out in legal fees. Ignoring is hard, so when you are ready to be proactive, here are some ideas on how to beat the copycats and strengthen your brand: Continue Reading
I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been hearing about some pretty serious social media snafus that have been so bad that people have lost their jobs over them.
Whether your Facebook page is set to private or not, nothing is ever really private on the Internet. It’s not just high school and college kids who have a hard time understanding that—it’s grown ups, too.
If you are like me, you have a personal Facebook page as well as one for your business. I have a LinkedIn page and I tweet using my business handle. Keeping your personal and business lives separate on social media sites can be hard, so here are some ways to make sure you are putting your best foot forward, instead of in your mouth. Continue Reading
Want to make money on that app you created? You’ll have to spend money and time on marketing your app outside of app stores for success, according to a recent study conducted by App-Promo, a mobile app marketing company.
The First Annual Developer Survey was created to help understand how developers are really doing with their mobile apps.
I don’t know about you, but the amount of apps on the market is overwhelming! It seems everyone has an app these days. Perhaps you have made a business out of developing these apps for clients, or you are a client who is thinking about hiring someone to create an app for you— this post will help shed some light on the industry.
The study found that most developers are developing apps for the Apple iPhone (58%) and the iPad (54.5%). Nearly 49% of them developed apps for Android users. Most of the developers are pricing their apps as free (35.2%) or at $0.99 (30.7%). They are also employing revenue models outside of paid apps, like advertising. Because, really, it’s about making money. Continue Reading
There’s a reason you see a smattering of women in red business suits in the crowd when you watch the State of the Union address on TV. Red is a power color, and these are powerful women!
The colors you choose to wear and even brand yourself with say a lot about you—individually and as a business.
I have very few business suits. My absolute favorite one is a gorgeous tangerine and hot pink brocade with a mandarin collar. It’s hot. It stands out from the crowd. It is not conservative. Whenever I wear it, I get lots of compliments. It’s sooooooo me!
But I’m not trying to blend in with everyone else around me. That’s not my M.O. I’m a freelance writer, editor, and entrepreneur. I like to have fun with color. I know what colors look good on me and I wear them as often as possible. Does that mean I have an abnormally large collection of bright green shirts? Yes, it does.
I really enjoyed reading this article on Inc.com about being color conscious. Wearing bold, brash colors might not be a great idea for someone who makes a living managing other peoples’ money. You don’t want your financial adviser to look quirky and brash. You want someone who presents themselves in a polished, even conservative manner. That’s why black, gray, and khaki are such popular, classic colors.
But what if you were creating an ad marketing campaign from scratch, or designing a new website? What would you want your designer to look like? I’m guessing the word “boring” doesn’t instantly come to mind. Which is why creative professionals need to be cognizant of color, whether it’s what they wear on their bodies or what is used on their websites.
Take a peek into your closet and at your website or marketing materials and notice what colors are most prevalent. Lets take a look at what those colors might say about you, according to the psychology of color: Continue Reading
An expo or a conference is a great way to network with other people who work in your industry, as well as a great place to reach a target market.
I co-own and edit a wedding magazine, so I’ve been to my fair share of bridal expos. And I’ve learned a lot from being surrounded by other vendors as well as dealing with attendees.
I found some excellent blog posts written by professional who have great advice on how to make the most of your time at a conference or expo. I’ve used some of their tips to illustrate my thoughts. If you’ll be attending a conference soon, then these tips are assembled just for you.
Do Your Research Before You Go
You might have to sign up to attend sessions in advance, so make sure to look up the topics and speakers ahead of time. The most popular sessions will fill up fast, so don’t wait to decide on what you want to attend on the day of the event—you might not get a seat!
A good strategy before conferences once you’ve seen the speaker and attendee list is to select the people you’d like to connect with. If you’re well established in the topic, perhaps you want to focus on making a few really strong and solid connections. If you’re just getting started and want to use the conference to get to know people, aim for a higher number. —Inc.com
Think about what you want to learn and take away from the conference, and plan your agenda accordingly. You aren’t going to be able to go to every session and meet every speaker—so make sure to make a list of priorities. Continue Reading
I’m a sucker for a good study, and a team of Asian researchers have come out with one about how your social networking sites can accurately predict your personality—something you may (or may not) want to do if you run your own business.
There is a theory out there, which emerged on the scene in 1992, called the Five Factor Model (FFM) that states that human personality can be divided into five categories: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Here’s what they mean:
- Openness: inventive and curious. This person has a strong intellectual curiosity and is likely to be able to think outside the box.
- Conscientiousness: efficient and organized. This person is disciplined, organized, and achievement-oriented. They exhibit planned rather than spontaneous behavior.
- Extraversion: outgoing and energetic. This person is social, assertive, and talkative. They seek stimulation in the company of other people.
- Agreeableness: friendly and compassionate. This is a compassionate and cooperative person. They like to be helpful.
- Neuroticism: sensitive and nervous. This person experiences unpleasant emotions, like anger, anxiety, depression, or vulnerability, quite easily.
As a freelancer, I want to be perceived as open, conscientious, outgoing, and friendly. I do not want to be seen as neurotic. Continue Reading
Have you ever been stiffed by a client? Many freelancers have—and it sucks. More often than not, the cost to take the client to court is frequently much more expensive than the unpaid invoice. So what’s a freelancer to do?
One thing they can do is join forces in a new civic action campaign created and sponsored by the Freelancers Union.
On April 26, the Union launched a web-based tool called The World’s Longest Invoice, where freelancers can come together and share their horror stories. You can add your unpaid invoices to the list at worldslongestinvoice.com.
Some of the unpaid invoices already listed include:
- $200 for violin performance on Busta Rhymes 2008 album, “Back on My B.S.”, submitted by Andrew.
- $7,000 for published children’s book illustration, submitted by Linda.
- $1,300 for marketing strategy, brand development, event planning, and copy writing, submitted by Allison B.
- $1,500 for environmental graphic design concepts for Rascal Flatt’s Tour, submitted by Adam J.
- $2,700 for WordPress development. Client cancelled the job two days before deadline and refused to pay for it because they didn’t use it, submitted by Sarah.
- $2,800 for iPhone application development, submitted by Charles G.
- $15,000 for 8 videos, filmed and edited, 5 minutes in length each, submitted by Ross F.
There are invoices listed for everything from pet sitting to web-related services, and everything in between. Continue Reading
I couldn’t help but chuckle at this recent story from The Boston Globe on the overuse of exclamation points.
Remember when email first came into prevalence? I do. Suddenly writing in all caps meant you were virtually yelling at someone. Typing made it easier to EMPHASIZE YOUR WORDS in a way that handwriting just couldn’t. With a quick touch of command + b, u, or i your words could be bolded, underlined, and italicized. Fancy!
Christopher Muther, the author of the piece I read in The Boston Globe, blames two men with the overuse of exclamation points in society today.
In 2008, they wrote a book called “Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home.” It created a minor sensation, partially because the authors condoned the use of exclamation points.
“ ‘I’ll see you at the conference,’ is a simple statement of fact,” they wrote. “ ‘I’ll see you at the conference!’ lets your fellow conferee know that you’re excited and pleased about the event.” –Christopher Muther
One Boston University psycholinguist quoted in the story says that exclamation points can “mitigate the brusqueness of a brief reply by indicating the writer’s enthusiasm, sincerity, surprise…”
I recently wrote a blog post on the perils of email communication where I was involved in a situation where my brief email replies were misconstrued as rude by the recipient. I wonder, now, if I had included a bunch of exclamation points, or, heaven forbid, smiley face emoticons, at the end of my sentences if they would have softened my message. I’ll never know.
I run a blog where I publish stories about weddings in Maine. Photographers submit photos of a particular wedding, and the bride fills out a questionnaire about their big day for their blog post. These questionnaires are consistently dripping in exclamation points.
I get it. Your wedding day is exciting! You’re marrying the man of your dreams! It really is a dream come true! But I omit most of these exclamation points in the blog posts because, well, all the excitement is kind of hard to swallow. Continue Reading
The magazine I work for is looking to hire a part-time graphic designer to help the production department with creating print ads. The team has interviewed a few good candidates already, but nothing has stuck.
In fact, there was one woman who the team really liked. She showed us some great samples of her work, she had a flexible schedule, and looked like she would be the perfect hire to join our team. Our art director gave her a take home assignment on a Friday, hoping to see something on Monday. She gave this woman a logo, some copy, and a specific ad size to see what she could come up with in a specific amount of time. We never heard back from her.
Disappointed? Yeah! We were hoping this woman would knock our socks off. But she never sent in her graphics test. This led us to two conclusions: that she didn’t really want the job after all or she was creatively unable to do the work we needed her to do.
When I read this blog post on All Freelance Writing about freelancers providing a free sample to potential clients, it made me think about our situation. In this post, author Chris Bibey talks about a situation where he met with a client who wanted him to provide a free sample, based on their particular needs, within 24 hours. This is something freelancers should expect from time to time, Bibey says, as some companies will trust in your skills while others are more skeptical—especially when they have never worked with you before.
My advice is as follows: there is nothing wrong with providing a free sample to a potential client as long as you feel that it could turn into a paid gig. Unfortunately, there are people out there who collect as many free samples as they can from as many writers as they can find. When everything is said and done, they did not pay a dime yet have plenty of unique content. —allfreelancewriting.com