August 14, 2019
A screenshot of Gmail with the arrow hand pointing at a spam folder

Don’t Be Sketchy: Build Your Email List the Right Way

Even though social media marketing is popular, email marketing is still a better bet for connecting with your ideal audience. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to build an email list. A Referral Gone Wrong The other day, I got back in touch with a friend who connected me with an organization for possible content marketing work. I was excited with the possibility of working with them and their friends. After the introductory email, I wrote them and gave them my calendar to schedule a call to learn more about how I could help them. I didn’t hear back from the organization, which is fine. It happens. People get busy and distracted. Of course, it’s a little disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world. But what happened next actually was surprising and a little dismaying. A few days later, I received an email from their email list — which I had not signed up for. The email was about some event coming up. I don’t even live in the city where this event was going to take place. Needless to say, I was quite annoyed. Not only did I not hear back from them, but they took the time to sign me up for a newsletter without my permission. I definitely did not want to partner with an organization that not only couldn’t be bothered to get back to me but then spammed me about their business. I immediately unsubscribed and said that I had not […]
June 18, 2019
A woman sits by a window while typing on her laptop

$4 A Word and Thoughts About Your Worth as a Writer

Setting a rate as a freelance writer is something that can cause many to have some heart palpitations and dalliances with imposter syndrome. Questions that can plague one’s mind: Am I really worth this much? Will anyone really pay me this rate? Writing, and the arts in general, has been consistently undervalued because it looks rather easy to do. And it’s a frustrating mentality to battle. It’s seemingly easy to just throw up a website or to create a blog post or to design a logo. If you’re in the creative arts, you know that this is not the case. You’ve put in hours of time, effort, and education into your work. Spaces like content mills tend to propagate the undervaluing of quality writing. What writers get paid and when sometimes can be a bit nebulous, which is why there’s a website called Who Pays Writers, which freelancers can contribute to, detailing the per word rate and how quickly writers get paid. For copywriting and content writing, AWAI’s pricing guide is a great place to start. When it comes to how much writers are paid, there’s been some recent buzz on Twitter about this quote from a Cosmopolitan profile on writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner, who has a debut novel coming out soon: “When I started doing the ‘I don’t get out of bed for less than $4 a word’ thing, people started paying me $4 a word.” The reaction has been split. People have been applauding Akner for asking what she’s […]
February 20, 2019
Change neon sign

Watch Your Tone When You Have News to Share

But when change happens, it still takes time to adjust – even when it’s good change. Take for example, changes that happen in a business. You may need to raise your service rates or the cost of your product. Or, your business may have been acquired by another business. Or, you may be phasing out another product or service. Lately, I came across the following three emails from companies announcing changes. I found issues with the tone of these emails and how I was addressed as a customer. Email #1: On second thought… I use this app for my invoicing and contracts, and it had been acquired by a larger company a while ago. They were very excited about the acquisition because they touted this app to be “free forever” because of the merger. OK, cool. Strange, but cool. Fast forward to about a month ago, I get this email. It is so cheery sounding and self-congratulatory. I’m grateful for all the enhancements and upgrades, but apparently, that’s the motivation or reasoning for the change: This app is no longer free. And if you look at the thread of comments under there, you’ll see how people feel about this change – not very happy! To go from “free forever” to $18/month is not the kind of change that people will handle well – especially as freelancers. It’s a big jump in pricing! In retrospect, I would say that a merger making things “free forever” is highly suspect. But either way, […]
February 20, 2019
JUST SAY NO is carved into a tree

Just Say No to Content Mills

I’ve been a writer and editor going on seven years, and it really surprises and saddens me how people still undervalue writing. And I find that content mills undervalue writing. So what exactly is a content mill? It’s a company that corrals a large amount of writers and pays them poorly AND takes a percentage of the profits. How poorly? Try a blog post for $15. And that may sound like a reasonable price to you. But if you want your writing to be well-researched, without errors, and thoughtfully written, there’s no way you can consistently get that for such a low price. Why? Because now you’re looking at volume. Someone is going to just poop out a post in 10 minutes because they need to take on a lot of work in a short amount of time to make ends meet. Do you want someone to look at your content in that way, without much regard for accuracy or quality? I’ll just say this right now – you need to be paying at least three figures for a blog post – no matter, how long or short the post is, no matter how much experience the writer has. The idea of using these places is that someone can vouch for your work, that it isn’t plagiarized (hello, Copyscape!), that there aren’t typos – there’s a level of credibility and professionalism that you’re allegedly purchasing. But the problem is, the only people being able to have a profitable business are the […]
February 19, 2019
Person in black clothing holding orange smoke

How Your FAQs Can Help Customers Find You

The other day, I was talking with a friend about a DIY project she had going on at her house. She needed some sort of specialized tool or technique, but she couldn’t find it online. And that’s my first stop if I don’t know something. I tend to look online on sites like YouTube if I need to know how to do a certain task. Gone are the days of trudging to the library to look for hard-to-find knowledge (hallelujah!) because now there are billions of videos on how to do mostly anything. The same goes for blog posts and articles. Even AI assistants such as Alexa and Siri help us to answer our everyday questions. People are always searching for how to do something. But sometimes, they’re not able to find it. My friend ended up calling a local hardware store and the owner replied that they received calls on this particular concept all the time. And that’s their frequently asked question! We’re all used to the FAQs on websites, but do you have a business where a FAQ isn’t necessarily about what you do as a business, but more about a particular skill or tool you have? If so, this is an opportunity to use that frequently asked question as a way to market your business by helping your potential customer. If it’s a simple task, consider writing a blog post about it. Or, if it’s better to show it as a video, you can create a step-by-step […]
November 7, 2018
red, white, and black sign that says " WE OFFER 3 KINDS OF SERVICES GOOD CHEAP FAST BUYOU CAN ONLY PICK TWO"

Pick Two — These Two

  We all know the adage above, and yet we’ve all worked with clients who want the mythical unicorn of all three. I love this website: because it shows you that this unicorn really does not and will never exist. Try and see if you can get all three switches to be on at once. But out of the three pairs of service types, I argue that most folks really do want fast and good work. Yet we all know where the rub is–the cost. Cheap & Fast or Good & Cheap? There are times you may want good and cheap work, primarily when you’re not in a hurry. But how often are business owners willing to wait on work? There may also be times that you want work done cheap and fast. Maybe you just need some prototype or a mock-up of a product. Quality may not be important in this case, but maybe it should be. So back to the cost. Sure, it’s great to get a deal–and who doesn’t love a deal? But you have to decide what’s important to you and whether you’re willing to save the time and effort it would take to skimp on quality. Are You Willing to Invest? It’s an investment to upgrade a website, to start having consistent, well-written blog posts, to create an email campaign. And the people who create this content are typically professionals. They’ve put in the work, the schooling, and the training to get great at their […]
September 4, 2018
A row of hard hats hanging on a red wall outside with a quote by Sophocles

The Meaning and Honor of Work

Happy post-Labor Day — although if you’re an entrepreneur, solopreneur, or small business owner like myself, maybe you didn’t have yesterday off. Either way, most of us are back in the thick of work today, so I hope it’s been an easy transition, whether you were at work or play yesterday. Over the past few days, you may have seen a social media dust-up about someone who tried to shame actor Geoffrey Owens, most known for his role on The Cosby Show. Someone snapped photos of him working at Trader Joe’s in New Jersey, as if to say, wow, look how far he’s fallen. What happened next was remarkable and heartening. I saw so many people on Twitter come to Owens’s defense, like this tweet of a random act of kindness Owens and his wife did for a then college student. Other famous actors opened up about their day jobs, like Mike Colter who was on the TV show The Good Wife, but he had to wait tables to make ends meet. Even the actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, tweeted support for Owens and many other creatives like him. This morning, Owens spoke out on Good Morning America, and it really warmed my heart (the video is about five minutes and worth your time). I loved that he was wearing his Trader Joe’s name tag. Owens was definitely at first hurt by the attempt to shame him, but when so many people came to his defense, he didn’t have much time to feel ashamed. There’s […]