9 Writing Tips to Master During the COVID-19 Shutdown

If your company cannot carry out business as usual during the COVID-19 crisis, you’re likely watching every penny spent. Marketing is one of the areas where you—like many other business owners—may have cut back. For selfish reasons, I wish that weren’t so. Moreover, I fear that pulling back too much on your marketing efforts will hurt your business. Michelle Garrett of Garrett Public Relations reminds us, “This WILL be over – and when it is, you’ll want to be top of mind when things start to recover and the economy rebounds. We can’t lose sight of that.”

But I get that money is an issue. I, too, have been feeling the financial sting of coronavirus as several clients have decided to scale down my workload temporarily.

Rachel Strella (owner of #Strella Social Media), for whom I fine-tune blog content written by members of her team, is facing the same struggles as many other entrepreneurs. She asked me if I could provide writing tips to help her team members improve their content before sending it to me. I consider the idea a win-win-win.

  • Rachel will be able to keep costs in check because I won’t have to spend as much billable time revising content.
  • Her team members will hone their professional writing skills.
  • I will maintain a valued client relationship. Also, because her team will be writing more efficiently, I will potentially have more time available to take on other #Strella assignments in the future.

While preparing my coaching notes for each individual (based on the corrections and changes I repeatedly make when reviewing their content), I’ve discovered some common threads. If you or your team members are doing more of your own marketing these days, I hope the following writing tips will help you strengthen your content, too.

A 9-point Writing Tips Checklist for Fine-tuning Your Blog Content

1. Break down long sentences into multiple sentences when possible.

Long and run-on sentences make it difficult for readers to follow what you want to communicate.

As a general rule, if a sentence extends onto three lines in a Word document, it can usually be split into two or three separate sentences. Similarly, run-on sentences (even if they’re relatively short) that do not have adequate punctuation can become confusing.

Here are examples of each:

Long sentence:

My daughter, who is a senior in high school, doesn’t know whether her class will have a traditional graduation ceremony in June because of the coronavirus, and she also has no idea if she will be able to move into her dorm at college when the fall semester begins.

Solution:

My daughter, who is a senior in high school, doesn’t know whether her class will have a traditional graduation ceremony in June because of the coronavirus. Also, she has no idea if she will be able to move into her dorm when the fall semester begins at college.

Run-on sentence:

My dog has severe anxiety and she goes crazy when delivery workers come to our front door and ring the bell as they drop off packages.

Solution:

My dog has severe anxiety; she goes crazy when delivery workers come to our front door, ring the bell, and drop off packages.

2. Shorten long paragraphs.

If your content has any long paragraphs and big chunks of text, look for opportunities to split the content into shorter paragraphs. Readers will be more apt to stick with your posts if you present text in bite-sized portions that allow them to pause to absorb information before continuing to your next thought.

Also, recognize places where you can use bulleted or numbered lists to share information. Let’s say I want to describe the things I miss most during the stay-at-home coronavirus order. I could share them in a sentence using commas to separate each item…

During the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, I miss visiting my parents, dining out on Thursday nights with my friend Jennifer, finding ample supplies of paper products on grocery store shelves, sneezing without people looking at me as though I have the plague, seeing my daughter enjoy time with her friends, shopping without wearing a mask, not living in fear.

However, a list would be much easier for readers to follow:

During the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, I miss:

  • Visiting my parents
  • Dining out on Thursday nights with my friend Jennifer
  • Finding ample supplies of paper products on grocery store shelves
  • Sneezing without people looking at me as though I have the plague
  • Seeing my daughter enjoy time with her friends
  • Shopping without wearing a mask
  • Not living in fear

3. Add headings to break content into easy-to-follow sections.

Identify where your content covers different main points and add headings to differentiate them. Use an appropriate heading hierarchy (i.e., H2, H3, etc. to identify main points and distinguish them from the sub-points that relate to them).

Also, review your headings to assess if they will give the reader a sense of what they can expect to find in the content that follows. Readers skim and scan content online, so well-crafted headings can help keep their interest as they’re working their way through your posts.

Bonus: Appropriate use of headings is good for SEO, too.

4. Avoid lengthy titles.

Shorter headlines capture readers’ attention, and, generally, they are more SEO-friendly. Google will often truncate titles (cut off the words at the end) that expand beyond 60 characters.

For example, my working title for this post was “9 Online Writing Tips to Improve Your Business Blogging During COVID-19,” which clocked in at 71 characters. After some additional thought, I tightened it up to the present title of 53 characters. 

5. Eliminate unnecessary words and phrases.

Usually, it’s better to get your point across in as few words as possible.

Words and phrases like the examples below often do not add anything purposeful to content. They’re fillers that add extra words without enhancing meaning. Strive to either omit them or replace them with more descriptive words.

  • really (“I’m really excited to go to the party.” vs. “I’m excited to go to the party.”)
  • so (“She was so angry about the way you handled that.” vs. “She was furious about the way you handled that.”)
  • personally (“Personally, I don’t understand what all the fuss is about.” vs. “I don’t understand what all the fuss is about.” – Note: by using “I,” readers already know that you, personally, understand.)
  • actually (“I actually have never gone to that restaurant.” vs. “I have never gone to that restaurant.” – Note: Readers will assume that you actually did or didn’t do something without adding “actually.”)
  • pretty (“I felt pretty tired after that six-mile walk into town.” vs. “I felt exhausted after that six-mile walk into town.”)
  • very (“She seemed very, very happy about the gift.” vs. “She seemed elated about the gift.”)
  • in my opinion (“In my opinion, we can all learn an important lesson from that book.” vs. “I believe we can all learn an important lesson from that book.”)
  • totally (“I was totally ready to begin the new project.” vs. “I was ready to begin the new project.”)

Use words like these occasionally to give your writing a conversational tone, but don’t overdo it.

6. Exercise caution when using quotation marks for emphasis.

Not only are quotation marks used to identify dialogue, but also many people use them to stress certain words and phrases. This can work well for emphasizing wording that reflects how others or the population at large refers to something.

For example:

We will finally find more toilet paper and paper towels on the grocery store shelves when the “covidiots” in town stop hoarding it.

However, improper use of quotation marks can give the impression that you mean the opposite of or don’t agree with something.

I worked with a client several years ago that used quotation marks excessively for emphasis in his content.

Here are two examples:

  • This product is formulated (in “convenient to use” bottles) to effectively remove excess organic and inorganic nutrients.
  • We have formulated three “state of the art” fertilizer formulas.

When revising his initial drafts, I explained that he could be hurting his brand by using quotation marks in that way.

7. Don’t assume your readers are up on all the current lingo.

You may know what you’re talking about, but your readers might not be familiar with every industry acronym or software reference that you make in your content. When you first use an acronym or potentially unfamiliar term in a blog post, spell it out, describe it, or link to a source with more information about it so that you don’t confuse or frustrate any audience members.

8. Read your draft out loud. 

This is an excellent habit to adopt for everything that you write. It allows you to assess if your content flows smoothly and logically for readers. Vocalizing and hearing what you wrote will also help you detect spelling and grammatical errors.

If parts of your post sound wordy or otherwise out of sorts when reading it aloud, make tweaks.

Bonus tip: Consider using the app Grammarly for proofing your content. There’s a free version that will help you, and I find the Premium subscription worth every penny.

9. Ask a professional for help.

Everything you publish affects your brand image. When you recognize that something isn’t working well but are unsure of how to improve it, consider asking a professional writer or editor to review and fine-tune your content. If you’ve paid attention to my first eight writing tips, your draft should be in relatively good order and won’t require too much time for a pro to polish it.

Need help putting the finishing touches on your content? I can help! Contact me to see some “before” and “after” samples. Or, if you want me to take a look at a piece of your content and give you some high-level pointers on how to improve it, email at dawn@dawnmentzer.com. I’ll be happy to schedule a complimentary 15-minute coaching session. 

The Bare Minimum for Maximal Impact

gray background with plant in minimalist pot accents the "less is more" text

While visiting my friend Tammy in Phoenix for a few days, I was fortunate to also connect in-person with radio personality and master podcast instructor and creator Shannon Hernandez. I met Shannon online (Google+) about eight years ago. It was wonderful to finally have an opportunity to hang out face-to-face for a brief while. As we caught up on what’s happening in our lives and professional ventures, I found myself using the phrase “bare minimum” when referring to my work M.O.

I know “bare minimum” has negative connotations:

  • Just O.K.
  • The lazy way out
  • Born from a lack of motivation
  • Nothing special

But it doesn’t have to—and shouldn’t—mean any of those things.

Adopting a bare minimum mindset involves getting maximal impact without becoming overstressed and overwhelmed. It’s about finding the right combination of clients, types of assignments, and volume of work so that you do your very best without sacrificing your well-being.

Considerations for Achieving a Lucrative Bare Minimum Work Approach

Striving for the bare minimum is a win-win for all when driven by the right intentions.

Consider these things:

  • Do you see a pattern in the types of clients (size, industry, etc.) you like to work with the most or least?
  • What tasks are you doing for clients that could be done better or more efficiently by another resource?
  • Which types of assignments energize you? Which types leave you feeling drained or distracted?
  • What do you do exceptionally well that offers the most value to your clients?
  • Have you priced your services too low? That can cause prospects to underestimate your skills and knowledge. It can also push you into a “make it up in volume” situation, where you’re forced to overload your schedule.
  • Are there viable and relevant passive income opportunities you’ve overlooked? (This one continues to elude me!)
  • What could you change now that would allow you to do more of the types of assignments you love for the types of clients you enjoy working with most?

In Other Words

Another way to convey “bare minimum” is “path of least resistance.” Why work harder not smarter (cliché alert) by doing what you dislike or aren’t particularly good at doing? Especially when that effort will detract from (rather than enhance) your quality of life and the caliber of service you deliver to your clients?

Your turn! What would you add to the list of considerations for creating a professional scenario that provides more satisfaction and less stress?

To Emoji or Not Emoji: Using Emojis in Business Communications

thinking-emoji

“Smiley face,” “heart,” “kissy face,” “wink, wink,” “okay gesture,” “sad face,” “look of surprise”…emojis are everywhere. We find these visual representations of emotions and thought processes on social media, in text messages, and even in email–in both personal and business communications. Perhaps our increasing usage of emojis demonstrates that we are becoming more open and transparent, but is it appropriate professionally?

Marketing consultant Dennis Shiao has written about emoji use–once in 2017 and again in 2018. His most recent article explores how some of his Twitter followers feel about seeing emojis in blog titles. In that article, I weighed in with my response.

Screenshot-tweet-elf-noooo

Although I’m obviously not in favor of emojis in article titles, I do think they have value in business communications. Of course, there are downsides, too. Let’s take a look…

Pros of Using Emojis in Business Communications

Overall, I’m an emoji advocate. I find they often help to clarify my tone and add a layer of emotion that can sometimes get lost when communicating via words alone.

  • Emojis emphasize how much we care about an idea or people.
  • Emojis help us applaud others’ achievements.
  • Emojis soften the blow when we need to decline an invitation to an event or otherwise deliver less-than-ideal news.
  • Emojis lighten the mood and demonstrate our quick wit by giving us a visual way to provide humorous commentary.
  • Emojis show appreciation of others’ sense of humor when people aren’t in earshot of our laughter.

With over 3,000 emojis available in 2019, there’s one for virtually every situation imaginable.

Cons of Using Emojis in Business Communications

But using emojis in business communications isn’t all thumbs up. There are some potential drawbacks, too.

  • Some clients or business partners may consider them unprofessional.
  • If overused, emojis can lose their impact.
  • An emoji that’s funny to one person might be offensive to another.
  • Relying on emojis to communicate our thoughts means less practice expressing ourselves with words. Without flexing our wordsmithing muscles, we risk that they’ll atrophy.
  • Some people may view emojis as insincere, especially if they’re used to convey empathy in unfortunate circumstances.

“The better part of valour is discretion…” ~ William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part One

Emojis can add emphasis and provide visual variety in professional conversations. However, know your audience before using them. Consider the preferences and sensitivities of the person on the receiving end. If you’re unsure of how warmly a prospect or new client will receive emojis, you may want to withhold them until you’ve had more time to assess the person’s communication style and formality expectations.

Your turn! Do you think emojis have a place in business communications? Why or why not?

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.





Is Fear Putting The Freeze On Your Small Business Dreams?

One of the biggest hurdles to accomplishing anything is gaining the confidence to get started. That’s certainly true for launchingMarie-Curie-Quote-Green-background-black-text your own business.

I was ‘fortunate’ when I started out as a freelance writer seven years ago. The corporation I had worked for (for 17 years) was acquired and my position was eliminated, therefore forcing me to buck up and make a change. What started out as a career upset has led me to this fulfilling career that offers flexibility and an opportunity to shape my own professional destiny.

But had I not needed to make a change, I honestly don’t know that I would have taken the leap. The prospect of self-employment was scary to me. Having been a SCORE mentor several years ago, I’ve talked to other aspiring entrepreneurs who have found it scary, too. So scary, in fact, that they failed to launch. They gave in and gave up before they got going.

Is fear standing in your way of starting your own business?

  • Fear of being laughed at
  • Fear of not knowing enough
  • Fear of not being good enough
  • Fear of wasting your time
  • Fear of other people’s criticism
  • Fear of not making enough money
  • Fear of hard work
  • Fear of letting other people down
  • Fear of letting yourself down

These fears aren’t to be downplayed as insignificant or silly, but they are to be overcome.

How can you do that?

  1. Assess your skills realistically, not through the lens of self-criticism.
  2. Do your homework to find out what’s involved.
  3. Prepare by making a plan.
  4. Start.

“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” ~ Marie Curie

 

Your turn! What fears are you facing in your business pursuits? What fears have you overcome and how have you done that?





5 Ways To Screw Up Working With A Freelance Writer

Orange text box with white font "OOPS! Don't Do It Again."

Nothing can put a damper on your marketing and corporate communications mojo more than not having a consistent and clear brand voice. We all know businesses that struggle with that—maybe you’re one of them. Consistency builds recognition and customer trust. Every brand—small and large—depends on those things to succeed. So when you find a freelance writer who understands you, you won’t want to let them get away! You’ll want to do what you can to build a long-term working relationship and avoid the pet peeves that might ruin the harmony when working with a freelance writer.

Five Ways To Ruin Your Working Relationship With A Freelance Writer

Waiting Until The Last Minute

Contrary to what some people believe, a career in freelance writing demands managing time carefully. A well-established freelance writer will have a full project schedule that doesn’t allow much (if any at all) bandwidth to work on rush assignments that pop up out of nowhere. While true writing ‘emergencies’ might occasionally happen, most often we-need-it-yesterday projects happen because of poor planning. Get your act together so you can give your writer enough time to do the job well without undue stress.

Not Providing Enough Direction Or Information

Even though you should expect a writer to bring the element of creativity to assignments, you still need to share some details, expectations, and guidelines. Are there word-count constraints or requirements? Who is the target audience? What purpose will the piece of content serve? Is there a subject matter expert at your company whom the writer can call with questions and to draw out more information? What key details should the writer incorporate in the content? By providing as much information and direction as possible up-front, you’ll allow your writer to focus on producing great content rather than pulling teeth.

Not Responding With Feedback

Nothing is more disheartening than busting butt to accommodate a client’s deadline and then receiving radio silence after sending a draft for review. If your writer has pulled out all the stops to meet your schedule, do her the courtesy of responding with your feedback and change requests in a timely manner. At the very least, acknowledge you received her work and let her know if you won’t have time to review it until later.

Starting…Stopping…Then Restarting A Project

I’ve been a part of several projects that seemed to live on forever because clients didn’t make them a priority or even a passing thought. Starting, stopping, and then restarting a project after it has been on hold for months or years demands more time and effort than a writer has bargained for. It requires re-visiting every detail and getting up to speed all over again. That’s frustrating and infuriating. If you begin a project, be prepared to see it through on your end.

Habitually Not Paying On Time

Because freelancers can only handle so many clients simultaneously, getting paid on time is essential to their business success. If you constantly make a writer shake you down for the money you owe, you’re hurting her cash flow. Ouch! And that will hurt your chances of having that writer work on future projects for you.

Freelance writers are an adaptable lot and realize s*&% happens, but frequent offenses that create a difficult working situation will eventually take their toll. Fortunately, with some planning and common courtesy, you can do your part to build a mutually beneficial client-writer relationship—one that will last long-term and facilitate a consistent brand voice.

Your turn!

Are you a freelancer who has struggled with any of these issues? How have you overcome them with your clients?

Are you a client who has built a long-standing relationship with a freelance writer? What tips can you share about creating a successful working relationship?

The Satisfaction Of Creating Doesn’t Pay The Bills

Some people would have you believe if you want a profitable business in a creative field, something’s not morally right with you.Words "Reality Check" In blue and yellow on white background

Sadly, in certain social circles there’s some stigma attached to wanting to make money so you can afford nice things and take part in the recreational pursuits you enjoy.

 

As someone who is self-employed in a creative role, I’ve sometimes questioned my motivation, purpose, and the rates I charge upon reading articles and social media posts that hint we’re misguided if we’re looking out for our bottom line.

 

Enough already.

 

Starving Artist Reality Check

There’s no shame in wanting to come out ahead and have the means to provide for yourself and your family.

 

Not every creative professional finds glory in “starving artist” status. While the creative process is enough to satisfy some writers, painters, photographers, and other artistic sorts, others of us want to make a decent living and have a little extra for our trouble and talent, as well. We want not only the satisfaction of creating, but we also aspire to achieve and sustain a desirable standard of living.

 

Don’t let anyone fool you. Wanting to do well financially in your business of being a creative doesn’t make you greedy, self-centered, or unethical.

 

To the contrary, it demands you must be even more fair, customer-focused, and responsible.

 

Running a profitable business in a creative field doesn’t mean you’ve sold out. It instead shows you have the heart, soul, and determination to not only survive but also thrive when doing the work you love.

 

Think and share your thoughts: Have your love of creativity and desire for profitability ever collided? How have you struck the right balance?





Six Ways Running A Small Business Is Like Raising A Rescue Pit Bull

I started my freelance writing business in 2010. My family and I adopted an adolescent pit bull mix from a rescue organizationYoung black and white pit bull with family on adoption day in late 2015.

 

Although the two endeavors may seem unrelated, I’ve discovered many parallels exist between being a “mom” to our pittie, Lulu, and running my business. Both have brought their fair share of challenges and triumphs. And in many ways, they’ve required a similar mindset and methodology to move things in a positive, productive direction.

What running a small business and raising a rescue pit bull have in common:

You need patience.

Building a successful business doesn’t happen overnight, and there are often setbacks along the way. Similarly, gaining the trust and respect of a rescue pup may require an extended time frame. When I transitioned from a corporate job to starting my own business, it took a couple of years before I went from “feast or famine” mode to having a consistently full plate of work from clients. After adopting Lulu one year ago (she had two homes and was in residence at a rescue twice prior to coming to us), we’re still working on some trust and behavioral issues. Patience isn’t optional when raising a dog that has been through disruption and disappointment—nor is it optional when building a business.

 

You can’t get lazy.

Starting and running a business requires your energy and attention nearly all of the time. Likewise, pit bulls are of a breed that typically needs A LOT of exercise and mental stimulation. You need to stay motivated and put forth constant effort to make things work. Lulu needs miles of brisk walks each day, bouts of play when she can go “all out” to expend pent-up energy, and training exercises to stimulate her brain. Without those things, she becomes mischievous and less obedient, akin to a naughty toddler.

 

Similarly, your business will retaliate if you ignore its basic needs. Unless you tend to every aspect of running your company, you’ll eventually lose control.

 

Bad behavior, if not corrected, could come back to bite you.

I don’t mean that literally. Pit bulls get a bad rap even though they ranked 4th among 122 different canine breeds in temperament testing by the American Temperament Test Society, Inc. But I digress.

 

With Lulu, I’ve learned that consistently reinforcing good behavior and discouraging what isn’t desirable has helped her gain more self-control and confidence in stressful or overstimulating situations. Mixed messages don’t work when training rescue dogs—and they don’t work in business either. If you pick up bad habits and don’t make the effort to follow through on what you begin, you’ll either miss—or screw up—opportunities. Exercising self-discipline and setting ground rules are the keys to accomplishing your goals.

 

You might bite off more than you can chew if you don’t do some research first.

Although I’ve always had dogs as part of my family, Lulu is my first pit bull. Because her breed is so widely misunderstood, adopting her brought with it a higher level of responsibility than if we had rescued a different type of dog. Thankfully, we took some time to educate ourselves about pit bulls before jumping in and bringing her home. Oh, we still met some surprises and challenges, but having a foundation of knowledge and understanding has definitely helped us.

Similarly, if you don’t prepare yourself with some self-education before starting and running a business, you could find yourself overwhelmed. With legal, accounting, marketing, sales, and every other responsibility to manage, you need take stock of what you know, what you don’t know, and what resources you’ll need to cover all the bases.

 

There’s no one-size-fits-all system for success.

Some training techniques that have worked for other pit bull owners have not worked for us. Some popular approaches to thwarting undesirable behavior either excite Lulu, putting her into crazy overstimulation mode, or they have no effect at all. We’ve had to go through a long process of trial and error.

 

Running a business successfully also requires experimentation. What has worked for other business owners won’t necessarily be the right M.O. for you. While it’s to your advantage to be open to advice from others, consider that your situation isn’t the same as theirs.

 

I’ve also discovered that to some degree I need to adjust my working style to accommodate individual clients’ needs and preferences. Although I have some standard rules of engagement that I’m not willing to comprise, I’ve found it’s extremely beneficial to exercise some flexibility. For example, with some clients I collaborate and exchange information predominantly via email, attaching content via Word documents. With others, I share content via Google Drive. And then others prefer using Trello. The point is, you’ll likely find your clients will have their own way of doing things, and you’ll add value and gain loyalty by accommodating them. Before you agree, however, make sure their approach will work efficiently for you and won’t add unreasonable amounts of time or cost.

 

It’s well worth the hard work.

There’s satisfaction in seeing positive results after you’ve put mind, body, and soul into an endeavor. This is true when your business is thriving and when raising a rescue dog who becomes well adjusted in your care.

 

When I think about how I went from “zero” customers and feeling as though I had to grab whatever work I could find to now having loyal, quality clients who often max-out project schedule, I’m thankful and fulfilled.

 

As for Lulu, I feel pride and a sense of great accomplishment at how far she has come in so many ways since we brought her home a little over a year ago.

 

Your Responsibility as “Leader Of The Pack”

Whether you’re running a business or raising a pit bull, to make it work you must pledge your commitment to putting forth the effort and not shying away from the challenge. You’ll have good days when the world is all belly rubs and off-leash romps. You’ll have crappy days that feel like long, long walks on a short leash.

As the pack leader, it’s on you to make the most of opportunities and overcome obstacles.

 

Your turn: If you’re a entrepreneur and pit bull (or other breed) dog mom/dad, what parallels have you drawn between running your business and raising your rescue dog?

And for those of you just considering making a pet a part of your family, remember to “adopt don’t shop”!





Are You Squandering Your Time And Energy?

 

I can’t recall any event in my 52 years of existence that has distracted people more than this current presidential election.Alarm clock with blurry man's face behind it

 

Friends, family, acquaintances, and business contacts are on what appears to be a never-ending social media crusade to voice their disbelief, disappointment, dismay, and fury.

 

It’s their right.

 

We live in a country that allows and encourages free speech and free will. Amen.

 

However, I can’t help but wonder: How are they accomplishing anything at home or at work?

 

With vast amounts of energy spent:

 

  • Complaining;
  • Scouring the Internet for articles to support their viewpoints and confirm their suspicions; and
  • Arguing with others who don’t agree with them;

 

Are they able to capably focus on anything else?

 

None of us has limitless amounts of time or energy—especially freelance professionals and small business owners.

 

Every day, we have to choose on what tasks and which people we will spend our hours and effort.

 

If we don’t choose wisely, we don’t have anyone else to blame when we fall short on our goals.

 

I’m thankful for the freedom to spend my time and energy as I please. And I vow to exercise common sense in how I use those precious resources each and every day.

 

Squandering is not an option.

 

 





7 Signs It’s Time To Kick A Client To The Curb

Not all business is good business. I learned that early on when I first started my freelance writing business in 2010. And it’s aThanks But No Thanks piece of advice I give to every new freelancer who asks me for tips that might help them survive and thrive as a solopreneur.

 

Although turning away revenue isn’t typically an attractive option, for a variety of reasons, accepting work from a new client or continuing to work with an existing client may not be worth your while. Sometimes, earning a buck can cost you more time than you bargained for, frustrate you, and rob you of your mojo.

 

As an example:

 

Several years ago, I said “no” to a prospect who offered an ongoing writing/editing assignment for a print publication that would have given me a steady and perfectly respectable stream revenue indefinitely. During the contract discussion process, she was calling me multiple times every day to chitchat. And when I’d ask specific questions related to our prospective business relationship, she wouldn’t provide firm answers. Quickly, I realized she would completely deplete my energy and patience. Thanks, but no thanks.

And I’ve turned work away from other prospects and clients, as well, when I’ve seen signs of trouble and felt uneasy about going down the path of no return.

7 Reasons You Might Consider Kicking A Client (Or Prospect) To The Curb

If you have a prospective client or existing customer who exhibits any of following characteristics/qualities, you may want to second guess accepting work from them:

  • Always springs assignments on you at the very last minute.
  • Never knows what they want and then reprimands you for not being on target with what you deliver.
  • Tries to nickel and dime you.
  • Never pays on time and only pays after you’ve sent numerous payment due reminders.
  • Is so needy and demanding that they distract you from giving proper time and focus to clients who do value and respect you.
  • Calls or texts you at all hours of the day/night, expecting you to drop whatever you’re doing to tend to their needs.
  • Working with them drains you emotionally.

 

Sometimes it’s easier than others to recognize if you’re better off parting ways. Sometimes the signs are subtle and you need to go with your gut (which will become more intuitive with experience). But always pay attention to what will be in the best interest of you and your business.

 

Your turn! Have you ever kicked a client to the curb? What qualities or habits are deal breakers for you?