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Posts Tagged ‘writers’

Giving it away

Posted by Vicki Moulton on January 11, 2010

It’s the secret weapon in every entrepreneur’s closet–the willingness to offer services or products for free just to keep the business moving. I’ve been (and still am) tempted to offer free marketing services to people who really seem to need my help but just can’t afford it, are related to me, or are really nice to me and deserve a break (like my dentist). I think of it as pro bono work that helps me sharpen my skills while giving my company free publicity.

This is my favorite story about freebies. There was a woman sitting next to the window on a flight last October who was very nervous about flying. My daughter was sitting (squirming, actually) on my lap and being occasionally adorable enough that the lady by the window smiled at her through white-knuckled anxiety. Eventually she even laughed and made funny faces at my daughter. The flight seemed to go by quickly, and once we landed, the lady reached into her carryon and pulled out a little paperback book. She gave it to me with a smile, thanking me (and my daughter) for helping her get through a scary experience. She said that it was a book written and self-published by her mother, who had instructed her to give it away only to people who helped her in some meaningful way. I was honored by the gesture–and quite amused by the hilariously dry wit in the short little book. So, in the interest of helping this nice lady’s mom sell more books, you can find “Helpful Household Hints for the Domestically Challenged” by Carma Allen on amazon.

The lesson I took from this savvy bit of self-promotion was this: if you’re going to give something away for free, it helps to set up some rules beforehand. Give away only a very small supply of your latest product. Decide how often and under what circumstances you’re willing to work for free. Offer free stuff for a limited time period, like 10 days. Write down your pro bono rules and stick to them. You’ll be less tempted to work for free in the future if you’re actually making money in the present.

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Posted in communications, marketing, writers | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Trending toward video testimonials

Posted by Vicki Moulton on July 7, 2009

video cameraI keep hearing about the future of social networking being video rather than text. Everyone knows that YouTube is leading the way in making DIY video uploads easier than ever, and if you’ve got a fast Internet connection, linking videos to blogs and Facebook pages is a snap.

Last night, at our monthly Creative MasterMinds networking group meeting, one of my well-informed colleagues talked about how some experts are predicting that the not-so-distant future will have everyone carrying little digital video cameras to record and publish images to Facebook and Twitter (ad nauseum)–in essence, replacing written words with videos.

It’s an intriguing idea. This could prove useful even today, in the area of client testimonials. A video testimonial would involve interviewing a happy client in person or via Skype to capture a positive review, for posting on one’s website, blog, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, or wherever.

The written word is still priceless, as far as this longtime fan of writing is concerned, but video adds a new layer of excitement to the mix.

Posted in communications, marketing, networking, writers | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Building a cohesive network

Posted by Vicki Moulton on June 12, 2009

mosaic_webI’ve been a longtime member of a private, mostly virtual network of 250+ DC-area freelancers who specialize in various areas within the field of communications (writers, editors, technical experts, web programmers, designers, marketing experts, etc.). A colleague of mine from a freelance gig back in 2000 recommended me for membership, and I did the same for another colleague with whom I’ve worked since the mid-90s.

I haven’t made it to very many of the monthly meetings, as worthwhile as they are, because the location is not close enough to my home office to make it worth the commuting time (usually midday on a Friday, which tends to be deadline day). But I’ve stayed in the group because of the many virtual benefits of being an email away from a few hundred great minds with lots of great advice on all things freelance.

Today I received an email from the group’s founder and most passionate cheerleader, explaining what membership in the group means, how it works, and how it has enhanced everyone’s professional experience. I thought it was so concise and well-written that I wanted to post it here (sans identifying information, of course).

Membership can be extended to anybody any of our members feel (1) would benefit from such membership and (2) would be a benefit to the other members. 

(1) [The group] differs from other lists and online groups in that we are a community.  Some of what we share online is strictly business – rates, job leads, articles.  Much is not – announcements of personal triumphs, pleas for pet causes, the occasional bit of humor.  All is offered warmly and accepted graciously, because in [our group], everybody is somebody’s friend.

(2) [The group's] only criterion for membership is that the person being recommended be someone whose work the sponsor can vouch for.  That criterion gives us the comfort of knowing that everybody in [the group] is considered by someone else to be a pro…

We are an unusual group, and the reason we work so well is that everyone here wants to be here and wants to contribute to the group’s continued success.  It’s quality (of relationships and interactions), not quantity (of member rolls), that we’re all about.

Amen to that.

Posted in communications, freelance, MarComm, marketing, networking, writers | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Building on the momentum

Posted by Vicki Moulton on February 23, 2009

Taking a weekend off from real life by going somewhere else can inject a jolt of energy into the creative process. I visited a college friend for two days, setting my own life’s details aside and immersing myself in hers. Listening to her tell stories, meeting the characters in her life, watching the world go by through her car windows, I found some great material for a short story, maybe a novella. (It would only be loosely based on actual people, of course…)

The momentum wave I was riding before the weekend took a little break while I was on my short vacation. But I was constantly thinking about how to apply life’s observations to this creative endeavor called writing, and how that might apply to networking to promote my business. That doesn’t sound very relaxing, does it? And yet, I came home refreshed and ready to get to work this morning, full of ideas and momentum.

Lesson learned: getting out of town can recharge the batteries.

Posted in communications, freelance, networking, writers | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Getting distracted

Posted by Vicki Moulton on February 12, 2009

My colleagues in the editorial biz call it an “occupational hazard,” this inability we all seem to have in getting through an article, email, blog entry, book chapter–or heck, sometimes even a newspaper headline–without stopping to examine an error. It could be a misspelled word, an error in syntax, an errant comma or misplaced hyphen, or something incredibly minor, like an extra space between words (which, honestly, drives me nuts). Whatever the error, it stops us in our tracks, completely stymied that some crackerjack editor didn’t notice and fix the problem before it went to print (or whatever one calls the online-only equivalent of print).

I get distracted every time I read something in TIME magazine, one of my favorites for catching up on in-depth news stories, tales of global strife, and little bits of humorous fluff that the editors find interesting enough to include. I’ve noticed the magazine’s rather new convention for capitalizing the first word after a colon, as though the colon somehow ended the first phrase completely, warranting a brand new sentence. This boggles my mind, not only for its sheer stupidity but also for flagrantly ignoring basic English sentence structure. It’s as if every copy editor at the magazine has suddenly come down with a case of creative editingitis (ED-it-ing-EYE-tus)–the disease that strips the editor of years of education, replacing it with a desire to recreate English from scratch. I equate creative editingitis with Ebonics, that ill-fated attempt in the ’80s to make a new hybrid language out of American southernisms and completely broken English.

So what is it about these errors that keeps me from enjoying a good read? Probably the knowledge that such errors would have been caught had I been the copy editor in charge. Yes, it sounds cocky. But that doesn’t make it any less true.

Posted in communications, MarComm, messaging, writers | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

An experiment in self-publishing

Posted by Vicki Moulton on February 4, 2009

I’ve been a freelance writer for most of my career, and an editor before that, but this is my first attempt at building a professional web presence to promote my services. My plan is to post musings and observations on the world of freelance writing, and also to post my credentials, resume, experience, and writing samples (through Scribd.com, with links to those samples on this blog). I welcome feedback and suggestions from writers and non-writers alike!

Posted in communications, freelance, MarComm, marketing, messaging, writers | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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