Monday, January 3, 2011

New Beginnings

Season's Greetings and best wishes to all readers for a successful and prosperous 2011!

This year, I've decided to take my work in a slightly different direction. The blog which up until now has focused on writing tips and techniques, will be modified to reflect marketing tactics and strategies that small business owners (writers and clients) can apply to further their career and businesses.

I hope you will continue to follow, enjoy and comment on it.

I've also spent the Christmas break updating and redesigning my website completely. The site address - www.writechoiceforyou.com - stays the same. The look and content is fresh and new. Hope you have fun browsing through it.

Once again, thanks for being friends, readers and followers and I look forward to continuing working with you and inspiring you if I can.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The secret to success


It’s been over a month since I published an ezine and thank you to those who’ve written in asking me how I’m doing.

The fact is, November has been the busiest month for me as yet. And this is on the tail of October, where I unfortunately lost three of my clients to recession. As you know, it’s really hard on the pocket when you have a client drop off your list. So what happens when you lose three of them at one go? And how did it come about that November is my highest grossing month this year?

In short, I decided it was a great time to change tracks. I spent a few days reviewing my options and decided on two courses of action. The first was to sign up to the University of British Columbia and Sauder Business Schools’ Integrated Marketing Course. This is something I have been wanting to do for a long time, but finances and lack of time kept me from it. I now decided to take the risk and invest part of my savings into the course. 

I also decided to focus my efforts on website copywriting, something that I’ve always enjoyed doing. I sent out an email to past/current clients letting them know of my decision to further my education along with details on the direction I was planning to take my career in. 

The next thing I know is I get not one, but four new clients asking me to write their website copy.
If you’ve read books like ‘Think and Grow Rich’ and ‘The Great Awakening’, you’ll know that the following three things will get you more clients than anything else:
  • Confidence which attracts positive energy and in turn allows for good things to happen.
  • A solid work ethic.
  • An unshakable faith in your own abilities.
So the next time a client cancels a project or you find it hard to pay the bills, spend a few moments thinking of what else you can do. Take the risk, even if it means making the extra time to study or finding the extra money to pay for website redesign. Believe in yourself and your abilities and watch your earnings soar.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Investments with High Returns

There are a number of ways to invest in your career which will provide you with high returns. It is important to remember that while a lot of investment can be FREE, at times, you may need to PAY to get something that is of true value to you.

INVEST IN YOURSELF: Brian Tracy speaks often of this. In his book, Focal Point, he says that 3% of your income should be re-invested back into your learning. Whether this is a high investment or a low investment is not really the point. While it is good to have a regular figure to set aside each month into learning and knowledge gain, this may not always be possible. Work this backwards. Make a list of all the things you really want to learn, which will improve your writing and your business skills. Perhaps it’s a business writing course to help you widen your target market. Or an online marketing course to improve your marketing strategies. Once the list is complete, think of how you can best achieve them. It may mean doing some free online courses in order to save your  money for a paid business writing course. Or you can buy books and subscribe to ezines and gain your knowledge from them. Often, online courses are more affordable than a college or university held campus course. Research your options thoroughly and do what’s best for you. 

In a recent post, I mentioned losing three clients in a single month to recession. I took the opportunity to put my savings toward gaining a long-planned degree in Online Integrated Marketing. Just receiving my study material has given me the boost I need to go out and find new clients.

INVEST IN YOUR TOOLS OF TRADE: These are what you’ll be using on a daily basis. A good computer is a must. So is a printer in order to print and edit documents. Simple things like good printing paper will go a long ways in saving you money. When I first started freelancing I came across a ‘great deal’ with regards to printing paper. It was cheap and plentiful and as I always print to edit documents, I usually need a lot of it. So I bought it and within the first two days of using it, I realized my mistake. The paper was thin and absorbed a lot of ink. My cartridges (which cost far more than the paper ever would) lasted for half the amount of time they usually do! I now invest in high quality paper which uses printer ink sensibly.Rethink your working tools- notebooks, pens, pencils-  and invest in good, sturdy equipment to make your job far easier and less expensive.

INVEST IN YOUR CLIENTS: And finally, invest in your clients! They are so worth it. They are the ones who have not only trusted you to write for them, but who will also provide you with repeat business and more importantly, will refer you to their friends.  A lot of my business for example comes from referrals.

So do a good job. Go the extra mile. Be friendly and courteous. And above all, be professional. This is probably one of the greatest investments you’ll ever make.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How to Collect What's Owed to you

In October I lost 3 US clients to recession. They shut shop, all with a week's notice. It's a big blow when you realize 50% of your income has been swept out from under your feet. And it's a bigger effort to have to get newer client immediately to compensate for the loss in income.

But as you may have noticed from the silence in my newsletters and blog that I've been busy. And done it too. I'd like to share how I did it with you in my next ezine issue coming up soon. And in the meantime, here's how I collected what's due to me.

There are certain key points to remember when undertaking a project: always negotiate terms in advance, always have a signed contract outlining these terms and if possible, always get an advance before you pick up your pen.

Very few entrepreneurs and freelance agents will want to be collection agents. Or, salespeople, or marketing gurus or IT geeks. Yet, the truth of the matter is, if you are to succeed in your business, you need to know at least the basics. And one of them is debt collection.

The following are certain steps you must take to ensure you get paid your dues:

Establish financial boundaries. Don’t hesitate to bring up payment terms at your very first meeting. Most of us hesitate to ask for money, while we have no problem outlining the services we’ll offer. You are not working for free and your client does not expect you to do so. But it’s up to you to bring up the ‘money’ topic if he doesn’t.

Get it in writing. A contract or formal agreement should be established based on the terms you’ve both agreed to. The agreement should have specifics outlined and also payment terms. If you are in agreement, you may also want to include an ‘out’ clause, which lets either party break the contract on prior agreed terms.

Don’t hesitate to use terminology that is easy to understand such as ‘payment for services rendered’ or ‘retainer fees’. 

Review and ask for a signed copy. Delivering a contract is fine, but it also needs to be signed before it becomes legitimate. If need be, review it verbally with your client and then ensure you have a signed copy for your files.

Have documents on hand. Sometimes, because we pick up an ‘urgent’ project, we forget to get a contract signed and delivered. To make it easier, have a few contract and agreement copies on hand, where all you have to do is fill in the client’s details. The client can sign and scan it and return it to you by email. Once you have it, don't forget to keep your copy on file for easy access.

If you do enter into a dispute with the client, then the following may help:
  1. Designate an agent to make your calls.
  2. Consider arbitration as opposed to getting a lawyer involved. It works out less costly and usually gets resolved quickly.
  3. Distance yourself from the client who is not paying you. Let your designated associate handle this.
  4. Stay calm and focused, and do not engage in verbal or written slander or anything that could backfire on you. 
  5. Consider negotiations and be fair at all times. Get all your negotiations and agreements in writing.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Freelance Writer Wanted

A client I once wrote for, www.cremationoptions.com (yup, you’ve read that right) is looking for web article writers. The task is to write 800 word articles with the keyword – funeral home - appearing around 32 times within the text. The writer gets to select topics, making it a fairly easy task.

The fee is low, unfortunately only USD 15 per article. But I do happen to know the job is dead easy (excuse the pun ;) and the client definitely pays on time. Invoice him once each set of articles is complete.

If you are strapped for cash and want some extra money, please contact info@cremationoptions.com
and you can mention you heard his name from me.
Cheers!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The 50 20 Rule, Which Really Works!

Have you heard of the 80-20 rule? It goes like this. It is the top 20% of your clients who contribute to 80% of your wealth; or the top 20% of your hard work which determines 80% of your success.

If you are writing for peanuts, then you are obviously focusing on the 80%, when you need to be aiming for the smaller, higher paying projects.

But time is always so limited. Raise your hand if you can honestly say you find the time to write without distraction? Mine comes in the form of a 6 and 4 year old with boundless energy. Yours may be a home that needs repair, a job that is demanding, social networking sites to which you are addicted, or endless phone calls which need to be attended to.

This is when you need to apply the 50-20 rule. I learnt this from an article by Steve Slaunwhite who in turn learnt it from marketing guru Dean Jackson. Jackson calls it the 50-minute focus technique.

It is simple and it really works. Set aside 50 minutes for your writing. It could be a new article you are working on, or a blog post that needs to be created. Set an alarm to ring after the 50 minutes are up. And then, get to work. You are not allowed to do anything else. No getting up for water, to answer the phone, or to make that cup of coffee you feel you need right away.

You will write and do nothing else. When the timer goes, take a 20 minute break. During this time, you can work, but make sure it is on another project. Check emails, sort out your finances, make a cup of coffee, tweet, network with Facebook friends, or just get up to stretch.

Try to get in 3-4 of these 50 minute work sessions into your day. They really do work. Why? Because you know after your 50 minutes, you are allowing yourself a break to do as you will. This in itself can be motivation to get you to complete your projects at hand.

What do you do to work without distraction?