4 Reasons to Have Multiple Freelance Content Writers

Outsourcing your blog writing and copywriting to a freelance content writer can save you a lot of time, energy, laptop and notepadfrustration. Also, it can prevent you from sounding unprofessional if you or no one on your staff has writing skills.

 

A marketing writer who understands your brand can ensure your communications have consistency and continuity.

 

When you find one that fits perfectly with your company’s culture and “gets it,” hold onto that resource.

 

But regardless of how happy you are with that person, don’t make the mistake of using the services of only that one freelance writer.

 

Why It’s Critical to Have Multiple Freelance Content Writers for Your Business

Every writer has strengths and weaknesses.

Not every writer will be right for every assignment. Some are better at short-form content (such 600- to 800-word blog posts) while others shine at longer-form content (like white papers and ebooks). Some are adept at crafting brand slogans and print ad copy, while others are skilled at writing website copy that appeals to readers and search engines.

 

Takeaway: If you can find a writer who is the complete package, fantastic! But you may discover you need more than one writer to ensure all of your marketing content is top-notch.

 

Capable writers have busy schedules.

“Freelance” doesn’t mean “lounging around with nothing to do.” Established writers often have maxed out project schedules. If you have an “emergency” assignment that needs a quick turn-around, you might be out of luck. Most freelance content writers that I know (myself included) will do their best to accommodate rush requests, but that’s not always possible.

 

Takeaway: If you have relationships with several freelancers, you increase your odds of having a writing resource to help when you’re in a pinch.

 

Writers get sick, go on vacation, and have family emergencies.

Yes, we do. Fortunately, these situations are the exception rather than the rule. However, they can affect the volume of work we’re able to take on and create the need for extended deadlines now and then.

 

Takeaway: Having several writers to turn to will help you navigate times when your go-to writer will be out of town or is dealing with unforeseen circumstances.

 

It may be time for a change.

At some point in time, either you or your writer may decide it’s time to part ways. You may decide you want a fresh approach and feel a new writer is your best way to accomplish it. Or, your writer may choose to discontinue doing certain types of assignments or cease doing work for your industry.

 

Takeaway: Business relationships evolve. By having more than one writer to help you with your content, you will not feel stuck without options or be left high and dry when a writer opts to make a change.

 

Where to a Find Competent Freelance Content Writer

Doing searches on LinkedIn and Google will help you find potential candidates to help you with your content needs. Also, ask fellow business owners and marketing managers for recommendations. And, believe it or not, the freelancer you’re currently working with might be happy to connect you with other writers. I have introduced several of my clients to writers that I respect and trust to do good work.

 

Relying on one writer for everything can put your content at risk of falling behind deadlines or not being done as well as it could be. I believe you’ll find it’s well worth the time and effort to build relationships with multiple writers. Not only will it help ensure you have quality content for any assignment, but it will also provide peace of mind that all your eggs are not in one basket.

“Recognition is the greatest motivator”—Fortune Cookie Friday Small Biz Wisdom

What motivates you to do your best?

 

You know, the thing that kicks you in the pants and makes you want to trudge onward in your small business despite setbacks, exhaustion, and naysayers?Fortune Cookie Fortune

 

Is it the lure of the dollar bill? Is it the satisfaction of building something from the ground up?

 

Is it recognition?

 

For the most part, I think this week’s fortune, “Recognition is the greatest motivator,” rings true for many solopreneurs and small business owners.

 

When I started out as a freelance writer in 2010, making big bucks wasn’t what drove me the most. Yes, I wanted to succeed. But as a realist, the financial component didn’t monopolize my thoughts. I certainly wanted to earn respectable income writing, but first and foremost, I aspired to become recognized in the market as a writer worth hiring.

 

Most startup business owners I know are driven by the desire to gain the confidence of their customers and prospective customers. They know that by delivering exceptional services and products, their businesses will grow and evolve. Increased recognition and respect (which leads to incrementally increasing financial success) drives them.

 

Dreams of fame and fortune might serve as the primary motivator for some of us, but most of us are a bit more professionally pragmatic. We realize aspiring for recognition is Step 1. The rest will follow over time, with patience, and after a lot of hard work.

 

Your turn! What motivates you to push forward in your business?

By Dawn Mentzer (a.k.a. The Insatiable Solopreneur™)

Common Sense Tips For Using Humor In Your Blog Posts

We all love to laugh. But our individual tastes in humor vary—often considerably.Man laughing hard

Think about it. You’ve probably encountered moments when…

  • you laughed hysterically at a punch line on a sitcom, while your significant other managed a quiet and solitary, “Ha.”
  • you and a friend compared notes on the latest big screen comedy, and your reviews weren’t exactly in sync.
  • you cracked a one-liner that had you doubled over and in tears while those around you remained unamused.

As awkward as a mismatched sense of humor can be on a personal level, it can create reader perception problems for your business if you’re not careful when attempting to infuse laughs into your blog content.

How Can You Keep Your Attempts At Humor In Your Blog From Falling Flat?

My latest guest post on the TDS Biz Blog shares why humor is a slippery slope and how you can maintain your footing when incorporating it into your posts.


By Dawn Mentzer (a.k.a. The Insatiable Solopreneur™)

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Better Is The Enemy Of Good”—Fortune Cookie Friday Small Biz Wisdom

Complacency to remain “status quo” as a solopreneur or freelancer can mean a shorter shelf life for your small business.Fortune Cookie Friday

 

This week’s fortune cookie reading, “Better is the enemy of good,” reminds us of that.

 

Good is…well…good. But only by getting better can our businesses achieve respect and create greater demand for our services.

 

Good might get the contract, but better is the key to keeping a client for life.

 

Lots of other businesses are good. What are you going to do to be better—to give clients a reason to work with you rather than your competition?

 

Fortunately, striving for better doesn’t always require significant effort. Tweaking minor aspects of your M.O. can make a big difference in the perceived value of your services.

 

Doing business better and adding value can mean:

 

  • Reading one article a day that can strengthen your knowledge in your field or help you hone your skills.
  • Returning emails and phone calls more quickly.
  • Responding to inquiries from your website contact form within 8 business hours.
  • Never forgetting the personal touch when communicating with clients. Show you care by starting with sentiments like, “How was your weekend?” or “I hope all is well with you.” End on a note of, “Have a wonderful day,” and “Thanks again for the opportunity to work with you.”
  • Sending customers links to blog posts and articles relevant to a particular challenge they’re facing or a topic you’ve recently discussed with them.
  • Showing clients some love on social media by connecting with them on the channels you share and liking or sharing their content regularly.
  • Proactively suggesting projects that can either save them time, money, or make them more money.

 

Now the question: If better is the enemy of good, is best the enemy of better?

 

Endeavoring to be your best (not to be confused with the unattainable goal of perfection) will always take you farther on the road to success. But take care not to thwart your efforts to better yourself by comparing yourself too closely to your competition. Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing, but focus on developing your own unique value.

 

Good. Better. Best. Raising the bar is the enemy of ordinary.

 

Over to you! What do you do to continually better your business and raise its value to your clients?

Fortune Cookie Friday Small Biz Wisdom: Do You Dare?

What a fine specimen for this Fortune Cookie Friday’s nugget of takeout wisdom.Fortune Cookie Friday: Dare

 

 Fortune sides with him who dares.”

 

As solopreneurs and small business owners, we constantly meet opportunity. And with it, we face uncertainty and risk.

 

Going into business for yourself in and of itself stands as the perfect example of how opportunity, uncertainty, and risk are intertwined. To reap the rewards of opportunities, you sometimes need to put yourself out there and expose yourself to the possibility of not succeeding.

 

It’s scary. But, “Fortune sides with him who dares.”

 

To start and grow a business, you must dare to take some chances. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself at a severe disadvantage.

 

By “dare,” I mean you have to exit your comfort zone more than you care to.

 

Otherwise, you likely won’t:

 

  • Find as many potential clients.
  • Discover new ways to expand your offerings.
  • Learn crucial new business technology tools.
  • Significantly hone your skills and knowledge.

 

Don’t dare and you will get left behind and lost in the shuffle.

 

Do you dare…

 

  • Go to a networking function where you’ll know no one?
  • Talk with a competitor to see if you might form a collaborative partnership to serve more clients?
  • Invest dollars in a social media management tool?
  • Fly across the country to attend training?

 

True, there’s always the risk things won’t work out as well as you hope they will. But fortune favors those who dare with new perspectives—and new opportunities.

 

What have you dared to do lately to better your business? Dare to share it here!

 

By Dawn Mentzer (a.k.a. The Insatiable Solopreneur™)

Fortune Cookie Friday Small Biz Wisdom: A Perfect Statue Never Comes From a Bad Mold

This week’s nugget of “takeout” wisdom…

A perfect statue never comes from a bad mould.*Fortune Cookie Friday Business Wisdom

How does this apply to you in your small business?

Well, it stands to reason that your business will have its faults if you model it after another that’s significantly flawed. Everyone knows that, so I need not say more on that point.

But beware of trying to outright copy another business. Period. While you might find it tempting to create yourself in the image of a successful competitor who seems to be doing EVERYTHING right, you’ll lose.

Who is your small business brand anyway?
Trying to mold yourself into the exact likeness of a competitor will leave you frustrated—and a phony. You can’t be someone you’re not. Without your own brand persona and distinctive ways of doing things, you’re a copy. And copies are never as good as the original. You and your brand need to find your own voice and your own unique value proposition.

But know there’s nothing wrong with examining what others are doing well and incorporating those qualities and approaches into your own business. Don’t copy, but rather use what you’ve observed and learned to improve your ability to serve and connect with your customers.

A few examples:

• Craft your own unique referral rewards program.
• Consider actively using an online social media platform you’ve seen that your competitors are using with success.
• Refresh your website content (with your own unique content, of course).
• Start blogging.
• Pursue partnerships with complementary businesses (different than those whom your competition works with) that can help you expand your offerings.

It’s OK to emulate best practices, but it’s absolutely critical to make them your own.

Watch, learn, and apply them in your business in your own unique way so you’ll never be seen as a copy.

Chime in! How would you interpret this week’s fortune?

*Apparently the fortune cookie bakers are British.

Is the Lure of the Cool Kids’ Table Distracting Your Small Biz Online?

Last week, my just-turned-teen daughter came home from school elated because one of the “populars” said “Hi” to her. This caught me off guard because she Student texting on mobile phonehas plenty of friends and what seems to be a healthy level of self-confidence. Yet getting acknowledged by a particular popular girl was an incredibly self-affirming experience for her.

 

Being the inquisitive (nosy) parent that I am, I pressed her for more information. Why was this “Hi” so much more significant than a “Hi” from anyone in her circle of friends?

 

“Mom, I’ve been dying to be friends with this girl! She’s so cool!”

 

Oh boy.

 

But I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised. I see plenty of people (solopereneurs, small business owners, marketers, and others) far beyond their teen years wanting to get noticed by the populars online.

 

I imagine you’ve seen it, too. Any given post by a social media heavyweight will get hundreds of likes and comments from adoring fans. And some of those fans practically fall all over themselves to get attention and gain affirmation that their wit and wisdom have made it on the radar.

 

Who can really blame them? With no shortage of articles out there about the importance of engaging influencers, folks get caught up in trying to get noticed.

 

But the reality is that crowded rooms are easy to get lost in.

 

Stars in your eyes? Look past them.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t interact with highly influential people online, but don’t get obsessed with it. People vying to get into their inner circles inundate the really big name folks on the web.

 

Good luck rising above the noise.

 

Don’t discount the potential of sharing content with (and by) other like-minded people who may not have the expansive following the big guns have, but who will find value in your content and appreciate your goodwill on the web. Engage them with a consistent mix of informative, interesting, and entertaining content and show them you’re present by responding to comments and reciprocating on their pages. You’ll get more likes, shares, and comments from people with a modest yet active following than by doing the equivalent of jumping up and down and frantically waving your arms in efforts to catch the eye of someone with a following in the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands.

 

Most definitely don’t ignore the people on social media who have earned their status as a popular by consistently delivering great content. But don’t expend all of your time and energy trying to get invited to sit at the cool kids’ table.

 

I’m always open to alternate points of view. If you’ve had success getting noticed by influencers and it has helped your business, leave a comment and share your story.

 

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

 

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Watch Out For Foul Balls

You never know when the unexpected will happen. This past weekend, my husband and I joined a client and his staff at a nearby baseball stadium to see a Baseball gamelocal Atlantic League team play. Getting out to enjoy the all-American pastime and spend some leisure time with my client created an ideal start to the Labor Day weekend. Hot dogs, screaming “Charge” at the top of our lungs, and the mascot’s antics. All fun stuff. Then…

In the fourth inning, a player hit a foul ball (a line drive) straight into a woman’s head just one row behind and seven seats to the right of where we were seated.

It came fast. It came without time to react or shout a warning. It was one of those freak accidents that happens only when you’re in the right place at the wrong time.

We were all shaken up. We feared for her well-being. We realized that could have been one of us.

Risk is present every day.

In everything we do, everywhere we go, some element of risk goes with us. I don’t say that to cause panic or paranoia. Generally, the odds are in our favor. But as my experience at the ball field illustrates, s*%t happens.

Running your own business brings risks, too.

A few risks all solopreneurs face include:

  • The feast or famine cycle (periods of too much work all at once and periods of not nearly enough work).
  • Losing clients to competitors with broader capabilities.
  • Miscommunication with a client over a project’s scope of work or the amount of time spent on a project.
  • Technical difficulties with the tools you use to produce work for your clients.
  • Technical difficulties with the tools you use to promote your business.
  • Computer viruses that render your laptop or desktop useless for days at a time.
  • Getting stiffed by a client.
  • Unjustified or unscrupulous negative online reviews.
  • Missing out on a prospective client because his email landed, without you realizing it, in your spam folder.
  • Missing out on an opportunity because your email landed in a prospective client’s spam folder.

Fortunately, most of the risks above can be minimized to some degree by planning ahead and doing things like…

  • Getting signed agreements from clients.
  • Having a savings account to carry you through lean times.
  • Backing up your data.
  • Communicating clearly and often with clients during projects.
  • Monitoring your online reputation.
  • Developing working relationships with other solopreneurs who offer complementary services.

You never know when life—or business—will throw you a curve. Your best defense? Stay alert, aware, and prepared.

 

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

 

 

 

 

 

Sanity Saving Pre-Vacation Checklist for Solopreneurs

Ahhh. Vacation! Time to unwind, feel the sand between your toes, read a good book, escape your cares, and leave theSouth Padre Island, TX Beach pressures of work behind.

Those are the rewards that await you IF you survive the insanely stressful, tense days before you finally whisk yourself and your loved ones away.

When I started my own freelancing business five years ago, I suffered a number of pre-vacation symptoms – including short temper and scattered brain – prior to departing for our family get-aways. While those things afflicted me when I was on a corporate career path, they intensified after I became a solopreneur. The pressures of wrapping things up are a wee bit more demanding than when I had colleagues within a department to cover for me while I was gone.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. With some thought and planning, you can make preparing to go away a less harrowing experience.

Solopreneurs’ Pre-vacation Survival Guide

Here are my ready-set-don’t-fret tips for getting your act together before you leave your office.

    • Let clients know you’ll be going out of town.
      Don’t only inform them about when you’ll be gone; also let them know on what date you’ll no longer be working on assignments. For example, if your plane leaves for Florida on Tuesday, August 5, you might decide you won’t work on client projects after Friday, August 1.I typically give myself at least one business day off before I leave because I always discover there are eleventh hour errands to run and personal tasks to tend to. You might also want to include the day after you return as an off-limits day so you can catch up on things at home or administrative tasks. Email the dates of your unavailability to your clients at least one month in advance. If you tell them by phone, email them a reminder.  They’re human after all, and they’re likely to forget exactly when you said you’ll be leaving and when you’ll be back.
    • Reschedule assignments that would be due during the week(s) you’re on vacation.
      You’ve got the responsibility to come through for your clients. Plan to get their work done before you leave for vacation. About one month before you depart, schedule assignments on your calendar throughout the week or two before you leave so you’ve reserved ample time to complete them. Your clients will appreciate your reliability – and you won’t have to play catch up when you return home.
    • Resist taking on new assignments the week before you leave.
      Yes, the money will look awfully attractive because you know you’ll probably be spending lots of it during your vacation. But if a prospect or client brings a new project your way just before you leave, ask if you can begin to work on it after you return. Remember, in adherence to the last bullet point, you’ve already scheduled client work for that week before vacation. And then there’s always the unexpected that can – and likely will – pop up just as you’re starting to have visions of palm trees and margaritas dancing in your head. Don’t load up your pre-vacation week too heavily, or you could find yourself scrambling.
      • Schedule your blog posts and social media updates.
        Just because you’re on vacation, doesn’t mean your marketing efforts have to go on a hiatus, too. You can still keep your blog and social media accounts afloat by writing your posts and updates ahead of time and scheduling them to publish while you’re gone. If you have a WordPress blog, you can future-date posts. Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer make it easy to schedule social media updates, plus Facebook has built-in scheduling capabilities.

 

    • Pay your bills in advance.
      If you’re not set up for automatic payments, schedule time in advance to take care of any bills that will be due while you’re gone. This year, my Verizon Wireless and Visa payments will be due during my vacation, so I’ve created an appointment on my Google Calendar to remit them the week before I leave. That helps me in two ways: 1. They won’t slip my mind. 2. I won’t lose sleep over worrying about them slipping my mind.
    • Set up your automated email vacation response.
      Don’t haggle with this at the last minute. Do it at least a week or two in advance so you’re done with it. Set it so people know when you’ll be unavailable, which would include the time before and directly after vacation when you’ll be preparing to leave or catching up after you return.
      • Change your voice mail greeting on your office phone and mobile phone.
        Obviously, you wouldn’t want to do this too far in advance of your vacation, but take care of it the day before you’ll no longer be available to field client calls.

 

    • Create an instructions sheet for the person(s) who will be looking after your home while you’re gone.
      If you’ve got a house/pet sitter who takes care of your home and furry family members when you’re on vacation, you can avoid the worry of “Did I tell them everything they need to know?” by creating an instructions sheet. We’ve used one for the past several years, and we update it each time we go away if anything has changed. We include: our dog’s feeding and medication schedule, our plants’ watering schedule (I’ve got 40 outdoor potted plants in a variety of places, so yes, this is a necessity!), the combination for opening our garage door with the outdoor keypad, swimming pool care instructions, our mobile phone numbers, our home’s landline voice mail password, location of our vacuum cleaner, local emergency contacts, and most important – our Wi-Fi password!

I know. It sounds like a lot of work. But when you’ve got everything in order ahead of time, you can spare yourself the debilitating rush of cortisol that comes from frantically taking care of loose ends at the last minute.

Try it, and I think you’ll agree; you’ll relax more easily and enjoy that first vacation cocktail so much more by planning for your departure in advance.

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ Post

[Image is from one of our past vacations at South Padre Island TX]
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Want to Make a Smart Business Move? Ask Stupid Questions.

None of us like to appear uninformed, uneducated, or ignorant. Where’s the glory in that? But none of us knows It's smart to ask stupid questions in businesseverything there is to know about business. Especially when we’re starting out and not even after years down the road. So, like it or not, there will be moments when we need to disclose our lack of knowledge about one thing or another: By asking proverbial “stupid” questions.

As they say, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” Of course, knowing that provides little reassurance when you’re fearing ridicule by your peers because you think you don’t know something that everyone else in the entire world already does.

We need to get over that!

The fact is, we don’t know what we don’t know until we realize we don’t know it. That doesn’t make us idiots. It just means some things haven’t been introduced into our frames of reference yet. When they finally are, we often need to ask basic (a.k.a. stupid) questions to understand them.

An embarrassing blast from my past when I wished I had asked a stupid question…

Back in college, I remember taking an essay exam in a P.R. course and one of the questions involved the concept of getting quotes (bids) from companies for providing their services. I was around 19 or 20 years old at the time (and an A student, I might add), and for whatever reason, I didn’t know that  “to quote” meant to propose a price. (Amazing, I know.) Because of that, the question didn’t make complete sense to me, and I was too embarrassed to get clarification from my professor. So I fumbled through answering it the best I could. When my professor returned my graded test, he wrote a comment telling me that it was clear I hadn’t understood the question, and he wished I would have asked him about it. I got a C on that exam, when I likely would have gotten an A, if only I had put on my big girl pants and asked what seemed to be a stupid question. Seems to me, asking and getting an A would have been the smart move. Live and learn.

Not knowing something is excusable. Not asking questions to gain the knowledge you need when you realize you don’t know something is not.

And not asking questions can be downright damaging.

If you don’t ask questions (even when you think they’re stupid and believe everyone else knows the answers), here are a few of the things that could go wrong in your business…

  • You could make serious errors in your bookkeeping and accounting.
  • You could pay more than you should be for products and services.
  • You could do something unintentionally illegal in how you manage your employees or independent contractors.
  • You could be missing the mark with a product or service.
  • You could be wasting time on the wrong social media networks.
  • You could take projects in a different direction than your client envisioned.
  • You could take on the wrong clients.
  • You could take on the wrong projects.
  • You could be taken advantage of.

Moral of the story: If you don’t know, ask!

Sure, it might be embarrassing for a minute or so. But after that initial hit to the ego is over, you’re left with an answer – and empowering information you didn’t have before.

 

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post