My Solopreneur Sanity Saver: Help At Last!

My last post focused on what solopreneurs should consider when exploring bringing on a freelance assistant to help them keep up – and keep sane! So it seems appropriate to take a moment to introduce my new freelance assistant, Rose Boettinger. Even before we started working together, Rose took the initiative to demonstrate her value by pointing out (tactfully of course!) a sneaky typo that previously eluded detection on my website. As you’ll read later in this post, Rose found me via the Lancaster Chamber website and proactively reached out to me via email. I instantly admired her go-getter attitude. And, as fate would have it, I was in the throes of several “at capacity” weeks where I struggled to find time to catch my breath. Long story short: This was meant to be!

I hope you’ll join me in welcoming Rose! She will be assisting me with some research, proofreading, and administrative responsibilities. Note that Rose is seeking a full-time or part-time position that will put her exceptional writing and proofreading talents to work. If your company or one that you know is seeking someone with her skills, I encourage you to reach out to her on Linkedin, or you can ask me for an introduction.

Anyways, enough from me! Without further ado…

Here’s a note from Rose Boettinger, freelance writer/personal assistant, to tell you a bit more about herself and her aspirations…

I found Dawn on the Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce website while searching for potential job opportunities. Rose Boettinger - freelance writer, proofreaderWhen I came across her information, I took it upon myself to check out her website. As a less experienced freelance writer, I thought it well worth my time to explore the ins and outs of a more established and professional freelancer. While reading her biography, I learned just how involved in and dedicated to her work she is and I felt the need to contact her firsthand. I wanted to see if I could do anything for her to lighten her load, tedious work so that she could spend more time collaborating with clients, giving them even more time and attention they deserve.

I was surprised at just how casual and friendly her response was. It’s often difficult to get a grasp of someone’s personality or how they mean to interact with you, especially over the internet. Not with Dawn. Ever since the first email I received, it has been easy to tell that she puts her heart into every word she writes. She is incredibly down-to-earth and such an easy woman to talk to.

Before I began freelance writing, I attended Millersville University of Pennsylvania where I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Concentration in Writing Studies. While attending the university, I worked at the campus writing center, assisting students with the many steps of the writing process—brainstorming, thesis development, proofreading, etc. That was by far my favorite experience while furthering my education. During the last semester of my senior year, I was an intern at an internet marketing company where my eyes were first introduced to the world of SEO. I spent much of my time there filing client information, proofreading, and blogging.

 In the future, I plan to find a company that will allow me to use my experience with writing and proofreading to help expand the business and create more satisfied clients. I will also publish a best seller.

I’m very excited to have the opportunity to assist Dawn, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us. – Rose

______________________

By Dawn Mentzer

Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ Post

6 Ways to Make the Most of Working with a Freelance Writer on your Marketing Projects

Not everyone has the time or the talent to write their own marketing content for their businesses. When you’re running aPen and notebook small business, you’ve got multiple other tasks to tend to that aren’t quite as easy to outsource. And honestly, unless you really have the chops to write content yourself, it will pay you in the long run to farm your writing out to someone who does.

Working with a freelance writer can save the day, and it can save you a ton of time. But before you outsource your marketing content writing, here are some things you need to think about and do to make sure you’ll get the most for your money – and give freelance writers what they need to do the best job possible for you…

  • Have a grip on your brand personality and your value proposition.
    If you’re not in tune with your brand’s value and what’s unique about it, now might not be the best time to bring in a freelance writer to help you with your projects. Some writers might have enough marketing experience to help you find your way, but not all are equipped to – or will want to – serve as your marketing strategist. If you’re struggling with your overall marketing strategy, there are free resources (like SCORE) and for-hire marketing consultants out there who can help you get on firm ground. After you’ve planted your feet is when you’ll be able to give a writer better insight into what  should be highlighted in your marketing messaging.
  • Share what you know about your customers.
    The more info you can share about your target market, the better your writer will be able to tailor the messages – and call to actions – to your audience.
  • Share what you want to accomplish.
    Though your writer will most likely not be the person managing and tracking the results of a marketing project or campaign, the more you can share with them about your goals, the better able they will be to craft a particular marketing piece so that it will fit into your master strategy.
  • Plan ahead and set a realistic deadline.
    Keep in mind that established and reputable writers will have multiple clients, and that means they probably can’t drop everything to work on a project that you didn’t plan far enough in advance for. If you’ve got a marketing project in mind, contact your writer as soon as possible to get a quote and make a commitment so you can get on their radar and their project calendar. Note that some writers will take on eleventh hour work, but prepare to pay extra for it.
  • Share any specific details that you want to include in the content.
    Tell writers if there are particulars that absolutely need to appear in the content. Don’t assume that a writer will just know what’s most important to you and your brand. Point them to web links with relevant info, email them a list of bullet points, and email them documents that give them the details they’ll need. And be sure that writers know (in advance of quoting you a rate and signing a contract) which pieces of info you’ll be providing directly to them and what elements they’ll need to research. Writers factor research time into their project quotes, so it’s important to be clear about what you can provide to them and what you’re expecting them to round up.
  • Provide timely feedback and communicate it clearly – via email
    To keep your project moving, try to review draft content and provide feedback as promptly as possible. Some writers will only honor revisions up to a certain amount of days after they submitted their initial draft to you. And some will commit to a limited number of revisions. To avoid extra cost and to address changes when your project is fresh in everyone’s mind, get back to your writer as quickly as you can and communicate change requests as clearly as possible so the next draft will be the final one (or very close to it!). And communicate changes in writing via email. Having a “paper trail” of what you discussed makes things easier for all!

By paying mind to these things, not only will you get the most for your outsourcing dollars, but you’ll also be setting the stage for a professional relationship that will give you great marketing content – and streamline your efforts – as it progresses. The more writers work with you, the greater their understanding of your business and your brand – which means they’ll consistently produce content that’s the right fit, and they’ll need less and less supervisory time from you on projects.

And now for what you think! If you’ve worked with freelance marketing writers, what other tips can you share to make the most of those relationships?

Image courtesy of maya picture / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Help Wanted! When It’s Time for Solopreneurs to Outsource

Professional services solopreneurs know the term “outsource” intimately. We’re generally the folks who certain projectsHelp Wanted or responsibilities are outsourced to. But sometimes the tables need to turn and WE need to do some outsourcing of our own.

In our familiarity with performing as our own “one man/woman show,” the thought of handing over business tasks to an outsider can cause some uneasiness (and even queasiness!). Delegating isn’t always one of our strongest skill sets as solopreneurs.

But not letting go of responsibilities when the time is ripe for change can wreak havoc on you and your business in a number of ways. Holding onto tasks that would be better done by someone else will…

  • Limit the time you have to grow your business (i.e. networking and business development to generate leads).
  • Result in errors if you just don’t have the mindset, skills or time to accurately tend to certain areas of business (e.g. bookkeeping).
  • Drain your energy and adversely affect the quality of your billable work.
  • Push your stress level through the roof.

How do you know it’s time to start outsourcing?

  • If you’re ineffective in a particular area of your operations, it might be a good time to outsource.
  • If you genuinely despise tackling a task, it might be a good time to outsource.
  • If you need to get out of your office and get your feet on the street to nurture leads and give more sales presentations, it might be a good time to outsource.
  • If you have an abundant client base and more billable work than you can shake a stick at, it might be a good time to outsource.
  • If you can’t find downtime and carve out adequate time to enjoy family and friends, it might be a good time to outsource.

If you’ve come to the realization that you really should consider outsourcing, now you’re probably wondering, “But what duties should I outsource?” Great question!

Here are some ideas to help you get your solo-brain thinking about where you might gain some efficiency – and time to do what you love to do best – by entrusting work to another professional.

  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Competitive research
  • Blog writing
  • Sending thank you notes or Christmas cards
  • Proofreading of important communications and collateral
  • House cleaning (not necessarily a business task, but it will buy you back some much needed time)
  • Social media assistance
  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Logging data into spreadsheets
  • Website updates
  • Event planning

Really, the options are nearly limitless because you’ll find virtual assistants and other solopreneurs who offer an array of services to accomplish whatever tasks you decide are better left to someone who has the dedicated time and specific talent for doing them.

Of course, the rub is that you will need to relinquish some of your hard-earned dollars in the process. Ouch! Though your situation will be different from another solopreneur’s, the odds are that you’ll find what you pay to outsource the work will be worth it. Until you factor in what your time is worth and that it probably takes you much longer to accomplish the tasks than it will for your contractor to handle it, outsourcing will likely make good financial sense. Be sure, however, to compare rates, expertise, and references of your potential candidates before committing. First and foremost, you want to find someone who is not only capable of handling the tasks given to them with little or no oversight, but who is also committed to your success as a solopreneur.

I’d love to hear from you about your outsourcing successes – and about any advice that you’re willing to give if you’ve had less-than-stellar experiences with contracting work out to others. Please comment and share!